UFO Buster Radio News – 387: Space Perspective, SpaceX SN7 Pops, Pluto Had Oceans, and Mars Choppa
Boom! SpaceX pops huge Starship SN7 test tank on purpose in pressure test (videos)
SpaceX pushed a massive tank for its latest Starship prototype beyond its limits Tuesday (June 23) in an intentionally explosive test in South Texas.
The Starship SN7 prototype tank ruptured during a pressure test at SpaceX’s Boca Chica proving grounds, the second in just over a week for the spacecraft component. But where a June 15 test resulted in a leak, Tuesday’s test was a bit more dramatic.
A close up from NASASpaceflight.com on Twitter , captured by Starship watcher Mary (also know as BocaChicaGal), shows the moment the tank ruptured. The tank pops and collapses, sinking into the nitrogen plumes.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said the company will learn from each Starship test to improve future designs. Last week’s test of the SN7 Starship tank, which leaked but did not explode, was a promising sign, Musk said on June 15. The company is shifting from 301 stainless steel to 304L, he has said.
“Tank didn’t burst, but leaked at 7.6 bar. This is a good result & supports idea of 304L stainless [steel] being better than 301,” Musk tweeted wrote on Twitter, adding that the tank would eventually be used in a destructive test. “We’re developing our own alloy to take this even further. Leak before burst is highly desirable.”
Surprise! Pluto may have had an underground ocean from the very beginning
Though Pluto is now famously frigid, it may have started off as a hot world that formed rapidly and violently, a new study finds.
This result suggests Pluto may have possessed an underground ocean since early on in its life, potentially improving its chances of hosting life, researchers said.
“When we look at Pluto today, we see a very cold frozen world, with a surface temperature of about 45 Kelvin [minus 380 degrees Fahrenheit, and minus 228 degrees Celsius],” study lead author Carver Bierson, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told Space.com. “I find it amazing that by looking at the geology recorded in that surface, we can infer Pluto had a rapid and violent formation that warmed the interior enough to form a subsurface water ocean.”
The researchers analyzed so-called “extensional features” on Pluto’s surface. Water expands as it freezes, so as Pluto’s interior cooled, Pluto’s surface stretched, generating recognizable structures.
The scientists compared geological observations of Pluto captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which flew by the dwarf planet in 2015, with various models of Pluto’s origin and evolution.
Extensional features the researchers saw on Pluto’s icy surface — for instance, cracks in its shell, and an enigmatic system of ridges and troughs — suggest Pluto had a hot start.
“I think the most exciting implication is that subsurface oceans may have been common among the large Kuiper Belt objects when they formed,” Bierson said.
These findings suggest that Pluto and other large dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt, such as Eris, Makemake and Haumea, may have possessed subsurface oceans ever since they formed. This may have influenced the potential habitability of these distant icy worlds, the researchers said.
“At this point, we don’t know the ingredients or recipe needed for life to emerge on any world,” Bierson said. Still, “we think liquid water is an important ingredient, and this work suggests Pluto has had that for a long time.”
NASA has built a helicopter to explore Mars and it’s finally ready to launch
NASA is ready to take its first spin at flying a helicopter on another world as the agency’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, prepares for launch in July.
The helicopter is part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, the star of which is the Perseverance rover, a robot designed to help scientists determine whether life on the Red Planet has ever been possible. Ingenuity isn’t a core tool for that objective, but it’s hitching a ride with the rover to test NASA’s ability to fly on another world.
“The thing that has me the most excited as the NASA administrator is getting ready to watch a helicopter fly on another world,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a news conference for the mission held on June 17. “That’s something that’s never been done before in human history, and here we are.”
Ingenuity has been in the works for six years, but now it’s attached to the underside of the rover, where it will remain for the long journey to the Red Planet.
When it tries to take flight, Ingenuity will be at least 160 feet (50 meters) away from the rover itself, Matt Wallace, deputy project manager for the Mars 2020 mission, said during the news conference. However, Perseverance will be able to monitor the flight attempts using some of its 23 onboard cameras; whether Ingenuity can spot the rover from flight remains to be seen, he said.
Ingenuity is flying as a technology demonstration mission, which means NASA has a realistic estimate of the chances something may go wrong. “Getting it to Mars, getting it safely off the vehicle, we’re going to learn a lot,” Wallace said. “We are not looking for an extensive and ambitious return from this technology, we’re looking to learn those first few things that we need to learn.”
The Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter are scheduled to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 20, with a launch window continuing through Aug. 11; follow the launch next month on Space.com.
Florida startup plans balloon rides to the edge of space
In recent years, people have used balloons to carry items ranging from teddy bears to chicken sandwiches to the edge of outer space. Now, Cape Canaveral, Florida-based startup Space Perspective has announced its plans to do the same thing with paying human passengers.
When and if the service is up and running, up to eight passengers (plus a pilot) would start by boarding the company’s Spaceship Neptune pressurized capsule, before sunrise. They would do so at the Shuttle Landing Facility, located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, although additional launch sites may be added in places like Hawaii and Alaska.
Over the following two hours, an attached “football stadium-length” balloon would lift the Neptune up to an altitude of 100,000 feet (30,480 m). This is above 99 percent of Earth’s atmosphere, where the curvature of the planet and the blackness of outer space are clearly visible.
The capsule would proceed to cruise at this height for two more hours, before taking another two to descend back down again – the latter would be accomplished by gradually releasing gas from the balloon. Both the capsule and the balloon would end the six-hour flight by splashing down in the ocean, where a ship would pick them and the passengers up. And yes, the Neptune would have a bathroom, along with a refreshments bar.
According to Space Perspective, the launches would be regulated by the FAA Office of Commercial Spaceflight. Along with paying passengers, the flights could also include research-related payloads. In fact, that’s what will be aboard the first un-crewed test flight, scheduled to take place in early 2021.
Interested parties can reserve a seat now via the Source link below. A representative tells us that pricing should be announced within a year, and that it should initially be about half the price of existing sub-orbital flights, which cost around US$125,000 per passenger, with the goal of reducing prices over time.
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