Yesterday New Zealand launched a rocket from the only privately owned launch site in the world – just across the bay from my home town of Napier. And we joined an exclusive club of space-faring nations. The Electron booster and its Rutherford engines that did the job were invented and built here by a local … More New Zealand’s very own rocket – woohoo!
The other day I picked up an interesting snippet about the likely breakfast menu on NASA’s upcoming Orion spacecraft. Because the vehicle is weight- and volume-critical, there are going to be problems packing enough food in for the expected 28-30 day duration asteroid investigation missions. The same issue also applies to storing the – er … More Breakfast in space, on an asteroid, in a tin can
The idea of aliens arriving and promptly attacking us, Independence Day fashion, recently popped up again largely on the back of another Independence Day movie. But it’s also been offered as a warning by no less a person than Stephen Hawking. And when Hawking says something – well, it pays to listen. Is it true … More Would aliens attack us, Independence Day style?
Efforts are under way to crowd-source a message for putative future aliens, to be uploaded to the New Horizons probe after it completes its historic mission to Pluto and (possibly) another object in the Kuiper belt. New Horizons is the fifth object we’ve sent on a one-way journey out of the solar system, and the … More What would YOU say to aliens before the apocalypse hits us?
I checked the latest space news on Saturday with bated breath. NASA had a lot riding on this week’s Orion flight. In a climate of limited budgets and little real public enthusiasm, failure wasn’t an option. The problem is where Orion goes next. By Cold War standards ambitions are vague; a couple more test flights, fly … More Orion’s first flight is good news – but can NASA sell the space dream?
On 28 August 1859, British astronomer Richard Carrington noticed something unusual on the Sun. A flare, larger than anything he’d seen before. Three days later, Earth lit up. Aurorae erupted as far south as the Carribean. All hell broke loose in telegraph systems across the world. Lines began spraying sparks. Operators were electrocuted. Other telegraphs worked … More Apocalypse now: why we must fear a Carrington storm
They were heady days, the 1960s. Back then nothing seemed too big to engineer on Earth. Or off it. When the moon race began in 1961, humanity had barely begun to step into space. But the job was done – twice. The Soviets had a serious programme, but started late, were under-funded, and work was divided … More Remembering ROMBUS and days of future passed