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if any of you follow space travel, you will know this Thursday marks the first orbital test flight of NASA's new manned deep space rocket, the Orion Space Vehicle.  it will be perched atop one of the largest rockets ever assembled, the Delta 4, and by now actually is, it's completely assembled on Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral.  this site has a ustream feed and a countdown clock, so check it out.  the next era of manned space travel is about to begin, after the retirement of the beloved Space Shuttle.
 
"A United Launch Alliance Delta IV will herald a new era in manned Space Flight with the launch of the Orion capsule for the new Space Launch System (SLS)."

"The Delta IV will be in the heavy configuration with a common core booster and two identical strap-on boosters. This will be the seventh Delta IV Heavy to launch from the Cape Canaveral launch site and the ninth overall."

http://www.americaspace.com/?page_id=33925


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T-minus 24 hours til liftoff, I'm really psyched for this. They just installed a huge LED countdown clock at Canaveral to replace the analogue clock from the 60s, it has video so we might actually get to see inside the crew cabin during launch, although this is an unmanned test flight. Onto Mars!

 

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I really hope this goes somewhere but I can't help but think nothing will come of it in the end. The impetus just isn't there anymore for cutting-edge manned space travel - and hasn't been since Apollo. The Space Race wasn't really about science and exploration - it was an inter-superpower boasting match - and the geopolitical tensions that drove it don't exist anymore. I think over the coming decades we're more likely to be talking about a "last man in space" than a "first man on mars"

 

Sorry to be a downer yo

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That's mostly the reason US space industry is now a govt/private hybrid, the costs were too high. This is a United Launch Alliance vehicle, which is code for Boeing & Lockheed. The Feds now lease launch facilities to everyone from NASA, USAF, SpaceX, and private industries. The old space race is indeed a leftover of the 20th century.

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In related news, Russia is going to test-launch the Angara-A5 later this month, which is intended to be their next heavy-lifter to get shit into geostationary orbit and beyond. I assume it's supposed to replace the Proton which has, after a long period of reliable service, decided to go gloriously tits-up a few times recently

 

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Well, Japan's launch went off without a hitch, the Hayabusa 2 rocket will take a 6 year trip to an asteroid, deploy 4 landers, blow a crater in the asteroid and return a chunk of it to Earth.

 

hayabusa.jpg

 

 

http://spaceflightnow.com/2014/12/03/hayabusa-2-launches-on-audacious-asteroid-adventure/

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Xc24WNZ.jpg

i was hoping to see something like this

i produced a real, actual lol. thanks.

 

back to space exploration: friggin awesome! let us hope it turns the noses into a common direction again.

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NASA's Dawn Spacecraft closing in on dwarf planet Ceres for 2015 flyby:

 

http://io9.com/the-dawn-spacecraft-is-closing-in-on-dwarf-planet-ceres-1667279924

 

A great week for space news!

Yep Ceres will be sweet. Dawn did great work at Vesta too, showing that it's a differentiated body (thus halfway to being a planet) and pretty much finally confirming that the "HED" meteorites are originally from that asteroid - we already have lumps of Vesta in numerous museums worldwide

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Here's Space Layton saying we should concentrate on going back to the moon instead of risking everything on manned Mars missions. I fully agree - we should get permanent habitations on the Moon first. It'd be a bajillion times safer, far easier to resupply, and also could become a profitable venture (as opposed to a colony) in a much shorter timescale - there's fucktonnes of shit on the Moon that we could mine, and with none of the associated environmental issues that plague mining on Earth.

 

It's also essential from a simple survival perspective - if we want to survive long-term as a species, we need to spread

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