Space Travel and Exploration Pages

1. NEWS
2. NASA Links
3. Space Station
4. Important Earth Places
5. Our Solar System
6. Near and Other Systems
7. Habitable Planets
8. Spaceing Groups
9. Tourism
10. Faster Than Light Drives
11. Questions and Answers FAQ's
12. Definitions
13. History Timeline





1. NEWS
Feb 2002 - Space shuttle Columbia plummeted to Earth in flames and crashed in central Texas on Saturday, taking the lives of all seven astronauts on board. ----------------
http://www.space.com/news/aerogel_record_020510.html
JPL's Aerogel Makes Record Books As Lightest Solid




2. NASA Links
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http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.spaceflight.nasa.gov
Nasa Human Space Flight
http://www.stsci.edu/hst
Hubble




3. Space Station
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http://www.scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov
International Space Station News




4. Important Earth Places
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Chandra




5. Our Solar System
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Mars Expeditions
Voyagers




6. Near and Other Systems
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QUESTION:
Where is the nearest blackhole?
ANSWER from Francis J. Merceret on April 30, 1999:
The developments in astrophysics these days are absolutely fascinating. The closest black hole I could find was called Cygnus X-1, and it is about 8000 light years away. A light year is 6 trillion miles.




7. Habitable Planets
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Terrestrial Planet Finder, or TPF.
SETI http://www.space.com/searchforlife Kepler Mission, which will detect Earth-like planets around Sun-likestars Kepler, recently approved to launch in 2006, will monitor 100,000 stars for telltale dips in light indicating an Earth-sized planet in an Earth-like orbit has crossed in front of the star. While it would not take photographs, Kepler could provide the first census of planets that have the potential to support life.




8. Spaceing Groups
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http://space.com
A leading do-it-yourselfer is John Carmack, perhaps better known in computer game circles as a founder of id software, and the brain behind such PC action games as Doom and Quake. But he also heads Armadillo Aerospace of Dallas, Texas and a group intent on building vehicles that transport people to the edge of space.
Personally bankrolling his space company, Carmack reported that good progress is being made and he expects to spend upwards of a $1 million on a craft that propels three people on a suborbital jaunt.
John Powell, president and founder of JP Aerospace of Rancho Cordova,California
the Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society (ERPS)
Founded in 1993, the society is based in the San Jose area Randall Claque, vice president of ERPS




9. Tourism
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Space Adventures, has put two people in space $20 millioon apiece
http://www.spaceadventures.com




10. Faster Than Light Drives
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Project Prometheus -
Space Nuclear Power Viewed as 'Must Have' Technology
NASA’s plan to showcase Project Prometheus – a major nuclear power and propulsion effort.
Nuclear engineers are clearly at the ready to proceed on an aggressive, fast-paced agenda that recasts the nation’s ability to investigate the solar system in ways that far outstrip past decades of exploration.

A new multi-billion dollar program known as Project Prometheus is in the policy works within NASA and the White House. It is designed to kick the space program in to a proverbial "warp-drive" and put humans on the face of Mars by 2010.

An atomic thruster could potentially cut human space travel time to Mars from 6-months to 2 and totally revolutionize the future of planetary and interplanetary space exploration in the 21st Century.

Typical chemical propulsion systems may achieve 18,000 mph but new nuclear designs may have us at over 50,000 to 75,000 mph space travel or three times faster travel than ever achieved in the history of manned space flight.

Project Prometheus would develop nuclear propulsion for high-peed space travel, to be used first to explore the moons of Jupiter.

Major initiatives in the NASA budget include nuclear power for space vehicles, dubbed Project Prometheus, and high-speed communications systems. Project Prometheus — aimed at vehicles to explore the moons of Jupiter — is marked for $279 million in 2004 and $3 billion over five years.

Currently, space ships are launched with rocket power, but once in space they rely on momentum to carry them to their goal, since they cannot carry enough heavy rocket fuel to continue accelerating through space. It can take years for a vehicle to travel to Jupiter or other parts of the solar system.

Development of nuclear fusion or fission engines would enable a space vehicle to continue increasing its speed once away from Earth, shortening the time needed to reach distant planets. These engines also could provide electrical power instead of relying on solar cells or batteries, making it possible to operate more scientific instruments.

The safety of nuclear engines is likely to come under close scrutiny by people worried about the danger of a launch accident.




Speed Of Lightc = 299,792,458 metres per second, (186,000 miles/second). 
CS = 300,000 m/s (186 mi/s) (11,160 mph)
So we currently travel about 1,000th of the speed of light, so a light
year would take us 1000 yrs. (Check that)
Voyager 1: 24 years to go 12 Billion Kilometers.0.5 Bkm / y1369863 km/day
57077 km/hravg speed = 15.85 km/s hmm this is low or that is high.
Current Speeds: 
It is projected that it will take about 6-9 months to send humans to
Mars. Allowing some time spent on Mars and the return voyage, the
entire trip would take 2.4-3 years. If the route is reasonably direct
then the speed outward from the Sun would be = (Distance between Earth
and Mars at closest approach/time of the trip) = 78 million km divided
by 6 months = almost 18,000 km/hour radially outward from the Sun (on
average). There would also be a component of the motion in the
direction in which Mars and Earth orbit. 
  The current record-holders are still, I believe, the four far
travelers: Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, and Voyager 2. They are
on their way out of the solar system, so they have exceeded the Sun's
own escape velocity. That velocity is about 18.47 kilometers per second
(at Jupiter's orbital radius) relative to the Sun. 

QUESTION: At the moment it is thought that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Has science gone as far as possible in researching this or is it possible for there to be advances that have yet to be discovered concerning the physics of space travel? ANSWER from Michael Hogue on April 26, 1999: You're right on both counts. Current physical theory (Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity) states that the speed of light is the ultimate speed allowable and no, I don't think enough is known about nature to completely rule out FTL (Faster Than Light) travel. The Special Theory is after all, a special theory dealing with uniform motion only. The big road block to FTL in the Special Theory is the increase of inertial mass with velocity or M = gamma * m. Where m is the objects rest mass and gamma is one over the square root of one minus v/c squared, and M is the relativistic mass. What this says is that as your velocity approaches the speed of light, c, your mass approaches infinity. I saw a calculation once where all the known matter in the universe except one electron was converted into energy and used (with 100% efficiency) to propel the electron. The electrons' speed was only like 99.9999999999 % the speed of light. I am not sure about the number of 9's after the decimal but you get the idea. Now in Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, from which the Special Theory can be derived for uniform motion, states that gravity is merely the curvature of space-time due to the presence of matter and that the curvature of space-time provides the "path" for matter to follow. Now to go FTL you could somehow change the geometry of the curvature of space-time around the object or spaceship that could allow FTL velocities. For you Science Fiction Fans this is called warp drive. It is my understanding that there is now some fairly serious work on this and other ideas for FTL propulsion devices (such as artificial wormholes) being conducted.
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11. Questions and Answers FAQ's
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http://quest.nasa.gov/qna/glimpse/index.html
Questions and Answers from NASA
What is the mass of Earth? What is the distance between the Earth and the Moon? Answer : The Earth's mass is 6.0 x 1024 kg, or 6,000 billion billion metric tons. The Moon orbits the Earth at an average distance of 384,400 km.

QUESTION:What type of fuel does the shuttle use and how much fuel does the shuttle hold as it takes off from earth?
ANSWER from Cathy Davis on January 11, 1997: The Space Shuttle uses two rocket systems. The first is a system of three liquid rocket engines that use liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The second is a system of two solid rocket motors. The Shuttle carries about 2.2 million pounds of solid fuel and 1.6 million pounds of liquidfuel.

QUESTION: Why don't the rockets use nuclear fuel? ANSWER from Cathy Davis on December 10, 1996: Some rocket engines were developed to use nuclear fuel. One developedin the early 1970's, called NERVA, demonstrated performance superior to anychemical rocket engines. However, there are many safety concerns about usingnuclear fuel for rocket engines.

"There are about 300 billion stars in our galaxy. About 10 percent (or 30 billion) are roughly Sun-like," he explained. "At least 5 percent (1.5 billion) but possibly as many as 90 percent or 100 percent (about 30 billion) of these have Jupiter-like planets."

How fast does the space shuttle move in orbit? Answer: faster than a speeding bullet -- 7,757 meters per second, or 17,532 miles per hour. Space shuttle courtesy of NASA. Objects must obey Isaac Newton's first law: Objects in motion tend to remain in motion unless they're acted upon by a force. For orbiting objects, that force is gravity. In other words, satellites "want" to continue moving in a straight line, and if gravity suddenly disappeared, they would move away at a tangent to the circular orbit. Similarly, if you swing a rock on a sling and release it, the stone will not move directly away from you. Rather, it departs tangentially. Enough David and Goliath stories. The Why Files asked Tom Intrator, who teaches dynamics and orbital mechanics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to tell us how fast the shuttle moves. We started with the simplifying assumption that the shuttle follows a circular path (it doesn't, but lies can be helpful). Intrator told us that the shuttle's speed reflects only these factors: Gravitational Constant: G = 6.67 x 10^-11 M^3 / KgSec^2 Kg = kilograms M = meters S = second Gravitational constant G = 6.67259 (± 0.00030) x 10-11 kg-1 m3 s-2

Orbital Velocity:
OV = sqrt(GM / r)
The gravitational constant ("G"),
The shuttle's radius ("r") from the Earth's center (6371 km) of massand
Earth's mass ("M") 6.0 x 10^24 kg (6e24)

OV = sqrt(6.67e-11m3kg-1s-2 x 6e24kg / 6371000m)OV = sqrt(6.67x6.24 e7 / 6.371) OV about 7,757 meters per sec escape velocity at Earth's surface is 11,200 meters per second. EV = sqrt(2GM / r)Here's how they are related: The equation shows that orbital velocity varies with the distance between the shuttle and Earth's center, and that a satellite further from Earth has a slower orbital velocity than one close in. That makes sense, since gravity decreases with distance, so less velocity is needed to overcome gravity in a larger orbit. G may look ugly, but it's handy, since it works everywhere. Thus Luke Skywalker could have used G to calculate orbital velocity around the Death Star (assuming he could find the mass of the star). If the shuttle accelerated much faster, it would be traveling at escape velocity.

1. What is the radius of Earth (in km)?6371 km
Speed Of Light
c = 299,792,458 metres per second





12. Glossary
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http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/gloss_st.html
Glossary



11. History and Timeline
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