Canadian Firm Patents Inflatable Space Elevator

By David Szondy, Gizmag – In space travel, the first step is always the most expensive, but why blast-off in a rocket if you can catch a ride on a space elevator? Canadian space firm Thoth Technology has received a US patent for an elevator to take spacecraft and astronauts at least part way into space. If it’s ever built, the 20 km (12.4 mi) high Thothx inflatable space tower holds the promise of reducing launch costs by 30 percent in terms of fuel, and may even replace some classes of satellites. Space travel is a field that is rich in paradoxes. Even though the cosmos stretches out tens of billions of light years away from us, it’s covering the first 100 km (62 mi) that mark the official boundary of space that presents the most difficult and expensive challenge for current technology. Today, getting any higher than 50 km...

Read More...


Scramjet-Based Project Looks to Blast Australia into Space

By Darren Quick, Gizmag – The list of spacefaring nations remains small, but thanks to continuing advances in technology that promise to reduce the financial and logistical hurdles involved, the numbers are set to increase. One country that could be joining the club, if the University of Queensland (UQ) and Heliaq Advanced Engineering get their way, is Australia. The two are teaming up on a project intended to deliver payloads weighing from 50 to 500 kg (110 to 1,102 lb) into orbit. Called Spartan, the planned three-stage project is aimed at riding the surge of interest in the small satellite market. The first stage consists of a reusable rocket booster called the Austral Launch Vehicle (ALV). This would launch vertically carrying the upper stages of a rocket to scramjet take-over speed of Mach five before releasing them at an altitude of around 25 km (15 mi). The ALV would...

Read More...


NASA Introduces Traffic Control for Crowded Mars

By David Szondy, Gizmag – Space may be big, but in our neck of the woods it’s getting crowded. There are thousands of active and inactive satellites in orbit around Earth, and while Mars may not exactly be Piccadilly Circus, it now has five active satellites circling it. To prevent any unfortunate collisions around the Red Planet, NASA is working on a new traffic management system. With the arrival of NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, Mars is becoming a busy interplanetary destination. In addition to the five active satellites, there’s also the inactive NASA Mars Global Surveyor, plus a couple of natural moons, so the traffic situation is already becoming a bit tricky. According to NASA, this isn’t simply a matter of extreme playing safe. The spacecraft circling Mars aren’t just in the same neighborhood, they’re also in similar intersecting orbits. The problem...

Read More...