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You're probably familiar with supersonic planes like the SR-71 Blackbird pictured above, which managed to fly at over three times the speed of sound, but imagine this: NASA set aside $15 million to develop a hypersonic plane that could exit our atmosphere at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 20. The U...

4 years ago 0 Comments
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Photons, man, it's all about the photons. Japan's solar sail-equipped IKAROS probe has recorded its first propulsion derived from the force of sunlight rays hitting its tender surface. The force generated is a truly minuscule 1.12 millinewtons, but that can go a long way (literally) in a frictionle...

4 years ago 0 Comments
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Though it may look like a collection of tinfoil and string, the photo above depicts what may be the first solar sail to actually propel a spacecraft. Japan's IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-Craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun) just unfurled the 7.5 micron (.0003-inch) thick polyimide membrane 7.4...

4 years ago 0 Comments
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Last Thursday, a six person mission to Mars began in Russia -- except that the crew isn't going anywhere. The would-be astronauts (including Russian, French, Italian and Chinese members) have agreed to undergo a 520-day long simulation trip to Mars, which includes a 250-day flight to the planet, ...

4 years ago 0 Comments