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#5241
Jessica

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Water found for first time on potentially habitable planet

Source: BBC



Astronomers have for the first time discovered water in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting within the habitable zone of a distant star.

The finding makes the world - which is called K2-18b - a plausible candidate in the search for alien life.

Within 10 years, new space telescopes might be able to determine whether K2-18b's atmosphere contains gases that could be produced by living organisms.

Details were published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

 


<more>

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/...onment-49648746


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#5242
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Black hole at the center of our galaxy appears to be getting hungrier

by Stuart Wolpert, University of California, Los Angeles

The enormous black hole at the center of our galaxy is having an unusually large meal of interstellar gas and dust, and researchers don't yet understand why.

 

"We have never seen anything like this in the 24 years we have studied the supermassive black hole," said Andrea Ghez, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and a co-senior author of the research. "It's usually a pretty quiet, wimpy black hole on a diet. We don't know what is driving this big feast."

A paper about the study, led by the UCLA Galactic Center Group, which Ghez heads, is published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The researchers analyzed more than 13,000 observations of the black hole from 133 nights since 2003. The images were gathered by the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile. The team found that on May 13, the area just outside the black hole's "point of no return" (so called because once matter enters, it can never escape) was twice as bright as the next-brightest observation.

 

https://phys.org/new...y-hungrier.html


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#5243
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A Second Interstellar Object Has Almost Certainly Been Found In Our Solar System
 
Sep 11, 2019, 07:53pm
 
Break out the party hats. Astronomers have all but confirmed that the second known interstellar object is currently whizzing through our Solar System – and unlike the first event, we’ll be able to study it in a huge amount of detail.
 
The object was originally given the moniker gb00234, and was discovered by an amateur astronomer called Gennady Borisov in Crimea using his own observatory called MARGO. Borisov first spotted the object on August 30 and was immediately alerted by its odd path – suggesting it was not bound to our Sun.
 
Subsequent analysis and observations have confirmed the object has a high eccentricity, meaning it is on a hyperbolic path that will take it in and out of our Solar System, never to return. The Minor Planet Center (MPC) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics confirmed the orbit of the object earlier today and gave it a new name in honor of its discoverer: C/2019 Q4 (Borisov).
 
“We were somewhat cautious as to whether it was hyperbolic or not,” says Matthew Payne from the MPC. “Over the course of the past few days, it became increasingly apparent that it looks like it has a hyperbolic trajectory.”
 
As mentioned this would be the second known interstellar object to enter our Solar System, since a first called ‘Oumuamua (or 1I/2017 U1) was spotted in October 2017. Both are believed to have traveled from other planetary systems to our own across the vast expanse of the galaxy over millions or even billions of years.
 
 
 
1280px-Artist%27s_impression_of_%CA%BBOu

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#5244
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Study finds the universe might be 2 billion years younger

by Seth Borenstein

The universe is looking younger every day, it seems.

 
 

New calculations suggest the universe could be a couple billion years younger than scientists now estimate, and even younger than suggested by two other calculations published this year that trimmed hundreds of millions of years from the age of the cosmos.

The huge swings in scientists' estimates—even this new calculation could be off by billions of years—reflect different approaches to the tricky problem of figuring the universe's real age.

"We have large uncertainty for how the stars are moving in the galaxy," said Inh Jee, of the Max Plank Institute in Germany, lead author of the study in Thursday's journal Science .

Scientists estimate the age of the universe by using the movement of stars to measure how fast it is expanding. If the universe is expanding faster, that means it got to its current size more quickly, and therefore must be relatively younger.

 

https://phys.org/new...rs-younger.html


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#5245
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First detection of water vapour in atmosphere of habitable zone exoplanet

 

13th September 2019

 

Astronomers at University College London have used data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to find water vapour in the atmosphere of an exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star, located 111 light-years away. If confirmed by further studies, K2-18b will be the only exoplanet known to have both water in its atmosphere and temperatures that could sustain liquid water on a rocky surface.

 

Read more: https://www.futureti.../2019/09/13.htm

 

 

1734-k2-18b-earth-size-comparison.jpg


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#5246
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An historic find, for sure.


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What are you without the sum of your parts?

#5247
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Gemini observatory captures multicolor image of first-ever interstellar comet

by Gemini Observatory

The first-ever comet from beyond our Solar System has been successfully imaged by the Gemini Observatory in multiple colors. The image of the newly discovered object, denoted C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), was obtained on the night of 9-10 September using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Gemini North Telescope on Hawaii's Maunakea.

 

"This image was possible because of Gemini's ability to rapidly adjust observations and observe objects like this, which have very short windows of visibility," said Andrew Stephens of Gemini Observatory who coordinated the observations. "However, we really had to scramble for this one since we got the final details at 3:00 am and were observing it by 4:45!"

 

https://phys.org/new...olor-image.html



#5248
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CubeSat to Blaze a Trail for Lunar Gateway

 

https://www.skyandte...-lunar-gateway/

 

Introduction:

 

(Sky & Telescope) A future CubeSat pathfinder is set to explore a unique orbital path that will be used later by humans exploring the Moon.

 

Last week, NASA awarded a $13.7 million contract to Advanced Space, based in Boulder, Colorado, to develop the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (Capstone). The mission consists of a 12U CubeSat the size of a microwave oven, and it could launch in late 2020.

 

NASA plans to return to the Moon with its Artemis program, sister to the Apollo program of the 1960s and 1970s. As part of this program, NASA is building a Lunar Gateway outpost, which will be  placed in a near-rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon.From this unique vantagepoint, the Lunar Gateway will eventually be dispatching crewed missions on expeditions to the lunar polar regions. Capstone will test the viability of this unique orbit.

 

The near-rectilinear halo orbit is extremely elliptical, which presents unique challenges. Capstone, and eventually the Lunar Gateway, will travel from a perilune of 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) to a distant apolune of 70,000 kilometers from the Moon's surface. Capstone will serve as a rapid lunar flight demonstrator, showing how to transition into and operate from this orbit. This knowledge is necessary not only for the Gateway's construction but also for the later logistics of transferring crew and supplies.

capstone-2.png

An artist's impression of Capstone.
Tyvak Nano-satellite Systems


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#5249
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Spacewatch: Japan's Hayabusa 2 targets final asteroid landing

Two target markers deployed around Ryugu ahead of lander’s planned descent next month

Stuart Clark
@DrStuClark
Thu 19 Sep 2019 16.30 EDT


Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has deployed two target markers around asteroid Ryugu. The deployment took place at 5.17pm BST on 17 September from an altitude of 1km. In the minuscule gravity of the asteroid, the unpowered markers are still falling to its surface. They are expected to land sometime over the weekend or early next week at the latest.

The 10cm-wide markers are covered in a highly reflective material that makes them easy to observe from the main spacecraft, which has now risen to a height of 20km (12.4 miles). By tracking their descent, planetary scientists can deduce the precise gravitational field that the asteroid generates, which reveals its internal structure. Hayabusa 2 arrived at Ryugu on 27 June 2018. It has already released three small rovers to the surface and performed two touchdowns to collect surface material.

Following the deployment of its final onboard lander, which is scheduled for October, the spacecraft will leave the asteroid and begin its return to Earth. Due to arrive in December 2020, Hayabusa 2 will release a capsule containing the asteroid samples it has collected. This capsule will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and use parachutes to land in Australia.

 

https://www.theguard...steroid-landing


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#5250
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Blue Origin Upgrades to Kennedy Space Center Site 36 for Reusable New Glenn Launches
Brian Wang | September 20, 2019
Screen-Shot-2019-09-20-at-4.15.45-PM-730

Blue Origin has made major investments and upgrades to facilities at the Kennedy Space Center site 36. Blue Origin is clearly preparing for major New Glenn reusable rocket launches.

The launch site and reusable rocket refurbishment facilities are getting prepared for a major rocket testing and launching program.

 

https://www.nextbigf...n-launches.html

Screen-Shot-2019-09-20-at-4.13.01-PM-102

Screen-Shot-2019-09-20-at-4.13.23-PM-102

Screen-Shot-2019-09-20-at-4.12.51-PM-102

Screen-Shot-2019-09-20-at-4.15.45-PM-102



#5251
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NASA's new Mars image shows sandy 'steps' in a big impact crater


Brittany A. Roston - Sep 19, 2019, 7:25 pm CDT

mars_ridges_main-1280x720.jpg

Southwest of Mars’ Arabia Terra region lies a landmark called Danielson Crater, an impact crater that has existed on the planet for ‘millions or billions’ of years, according to NASA. At some point after the crater formed, sediment began to settle into the large hole in layers, slowly becoming cemented into place. Eons of formation and erosion have resulted in a striking landscape, one recently shared by NASA in a new image.

Danielson Crater measures around 42 miles across, according to NASA, which says that some cemented sediment layers in the crater are more resistant to the effects of erosion than others.

The stronger layers have managed to resist erosion in ways the weaker layers couldn’t, resulting in the slow formation of what appears to be ‘steps’ made of rock.

These steps are covered in sand that is blown across the rocky crater, covering them with a layer that appears bluer in the image above. NASA says the photo was captured by its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft and that it features contrast-enhanced colors to better show the difference between rock and sand.

 



More:
https://www.slashgea...rater-19592290/


#5252
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Australia to help Trump reach the moon, and beyond

Source: Reuters

SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 / 9:30 PM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO


image-1569120383368000-lbk0ugufen.jpg


U.S. President Donald Trump and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison chat during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S. September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia will invest A$150 million ($101 million) in its companies and technology to help U.S. President Donald Trump’s bid for a moon landing by 2024 and subsequent U.S. missions to Mars, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said over the weekend.

Morrison, visiting NASA headquarters in Washington, said the five-year investment plan would help businesses support U.S. automation systems, build equipment for space craft and play a role in mineral exploration.

“We’re backing Australian businesses to the moon, and even Mars, and back,” Morrison said.

The announcement came after Morrison made a state visit to the White House on Friday, with the red carpet rolled out, signaling Australia’s strong ties with the United States after a period of tense relations with China.

 



Read more: https://www.reuters....d-idUSKBN1W7018


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#5253
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2nd interstellar visitor to our solar system confirmed and named

Source: CNN


An unusual object detected streaking across the sky last month was a comet that originated outside our solar system, observations have confirmed, becoming only the second observed interstellar object to cross into our solar system.

It has been named 2I/Borisov by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center. And it's anywhere between 1.2 and 10 miles in diameter, Karen Meech and her colleagues at the University of Hawaii say.

Observations by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Solar System Dynamics Group have supported that this comet has the most hyperbolic orbit out of the thousands of known comets.

"The orbit is now sufficiently well known, and the object is unambiguously interstellar in origin," according to a release by the IAU, which has designated the object as the second interstellar object, 2I.

 


Read more: https://www.cnn.com/...trnd/index.html



#5254
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Found: three black holes on collision course
SEPTEMBER 25, 2019

foundthreebl.jpg

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/George Mason Univ./R. Pfeifle et al.; Optical: SDSS & NASA/STScI


Astronomers have spotted three giant black holes within a titanic collision of three galaxies. Several observatories, including the Chandra X-ray Observatory and other NASA space telescopes, captured the unusual system.

"We were only looking for pairs of black holes at the time, and yet, through our selection technique, we stumbled upon this amazing system," said Ryan Pfeifle of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, the first author of a new paper in The Astrophysical Journal describing these results. "This is the strongest evidence yet found for such a triple system of actively feeding supermassive black holes."

The system is known as SDSS J084905.51+111447.2 (SDSS J0849+1114 for short) and is located a billion light-years from Earth.

To uncover this rare black hole trifecta, researchers needed to combine data from telescopes both on the ground and in space. First, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) telescope, which scans large swaths of the sky in optical light from New Mexico, imaged SDSS J0849+1114. With the help of citizen scientists participating in a project called Galaxy Zoo, it was then tagged as a system of colliding galaxies.

 



More:
https://phys.org/new...-collision.html

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#5255
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Alabama engineering student tells scientists 'warp drive' might work (al.com)
Posted Sep 25, 2019

By Lee Roop | lroop@al.com

***

Warp drive, as Star Trek fans know, is the ability to fly through space at speeds faster than light. A report on University of Alabama in Huntsville student Joseph Agnew’s work succinctly explained the value of speeds like that: Unless we can do it, we’re not going very far from home.
***
"Mathematically, if you fulfill all the energy requirements, they can’t prove that it doesn’t work," says Joseph Agnew, a mechanical engineering senior at UAH and an undergraduate research assistant with UAH’s Propulsion Research Center.

“Suppose you have a craft that’s in the bubble,” says Agnew in an article on the UAH website. “What you would do is, you’d compress space-time ahead of the craft and expand space-time behind it.”
***
"People used to say, ‘You’re dealing in something that would be great, but it takes the mass of the entire universe to do it,’" Agnew says. "Now, we’re down to where, it is still an immense amount of energy and exotic matter is still a problem, but if we had that energy, we could do it."

The energy requirement reductions came after five to eight years of theoretical work, he says. “It’s been reduced by many, many orders of magnitude.”

 


***
more: https://www.al.com/n...might-work.html


#5256
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Astronomers Discover Oldest Galaxy Protocluster Yet

 

https://www.courthou...otocluster-yet/

 

Introduction:

 

(Courthouse News) – An international team of astronomers wielding the observational power of three massive telescopes have discovered a 13 billion-year-old galaxy cluster, the oldest grouping of star systems observed to date in the cosmos, according to a study released Thursday.

 

In the known universe, galaxy clusters may hold hundreds or thousands of individual star systems.

 

Scientists have yet to identify the catalyst behind cluster formation and have scanned the heavens to understand how galaxy cluster progenitors behaved at the dawn of the universe.

 

In the study, set to be published Sept. 30 in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists said the 12 newly discovered galaxies – called a protocluster – reveal that star groupings of this size already existed when the universe was just 800 million years old, 6% its present age.

 

The assembly of galaxies, found within the Cetus constellation, is the earliest ever found and was discovered using the Subaru, Keck, and Gemini Telescopes, the study said.

Protocluster.jpg?resize=1000%2C1000

Twelve galaxies within an enormous protocluster 200 million light-years wide were discovered by an international team of astronomers, who said in a study that the star formations are the oldest observed to date and shed light on cluster formation early in the life of our universe.

(NAOJ / Harikane)


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#5257
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SpaceX CEO unveils his Texas built 'Starship' with plans to launch humans to the moon and Mars
 
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk outlined an ambitious plan Saturday night to make Texas one of the focal points of the new commercial Space Race --- testing a prototype rocket in one to two months and potentially sending humans to space next year.

Standing at the foot of a 164-foot chrome steel space vehicle he's dubbed "Starship" a few miles from the South Texas Gulf Coast, Musk said the site in Boca Chica will soon become one of two major manufacturing centers for rocket ships and boosters along with the company's other major site in Florida.

Even more, he outlined his plans for sending humans to the moon and Mars and building permanent bases on each for repeated trips.

"I think we should do our very best to become a multi-planet species and extend our consciousness beyond earth - and we should do it now," Musk said.

 


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#5258
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This image of the Starship gives me the chills...

 

 

musk-standing-underneath-starship-mk1.pn


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#5259
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30 things we learned about SpaceX Starship from Elon Musk's big reveal

 

 

https://www.inverse....sk-s-big-reveal

 

 


 

30. Making life multi-planetary is still Starship’s big goal

Musk reiterated that a fully-reusable design like the Starship is necessary to send humans to other planets. It allows the ship to land, refuel on the planet using readily-available resources, and even potentially fly out further by establishing a network of propellant depots along the way.

29. It uses a lot more oxygen

The design means it uses 3.5 tons of oxygen for every ton of fuel. Its Falcon predecessor required around 2.5 tons of oxygen for the same amount. That means, Musk explained, the Starship is mostly liquid oxygen when it ascends.

28. The Raptor has a unique movement design

In an aircraft, the engines are static and you move by tilting the rudders and other components. With the Starship, you move the entire engine to steer. The three sea-level engines will move up to 15 degrees, while the three vacuum engines will remain stationary. On the booster, seven of the engines move and the rest are stationary.

27. The heat shield is like ‘tiny glass vermicelli’

While the stainless steel resists high temperatures, heat shields protect at high-temperature areas. These hexagonal tiles are very light, crack-resistant, glass tiles. They’re fully reusable, with low maintenance. It resembles “tiny glass vermicelli at a microstructure level.”

26. The steel is way cheaper than carbon fiber

Part of the reason why SpaceX switched away from carbon fiber is cost. The steel is about two percent of the cost of the carbon fiber: $130,000 per ton for carbon fiber versus $2,500 per ton for steel.

25. The Super Heavy can hold up to 37 Raptor engines

The Super Heavy booster can handle a variety of Raptor configurations. The minimum is around 24, but this can reach up to 37. Musk recommended 31 is probably ideal. Combined with the Starship, the entire design could hold up to 43 engines.

24. The Starship looks huge compared to the Star Wars Millennium Falcon

While the Star Wars ship measures 34.75 meters, the Starship Mk.1 measures 50 meters. Combined with the Super Heavy, the full design measures 118 meters.

the-starship-compared-to-other-vehicles.

 

The Starship compared to other vehicles.

 

 

23. Space Station docking is good practice for orbital refueling

SpaceX’s missions to the International Space Station are harder than refueling in orbit, Musk claimed. Starship can get to orbit for 150 tons of orbit for payload to Mars, but in-orbit refueling is critical to the more ambitious missions.

refueling-the-starship-in-action.png?aut

 

Refueling the Starship in action.

 

22. An Antarctica-like base on the moon could come soon

Musk declared that a base on the moon would be ideal, akin to research bases in Antarctica used by scientists to conduct experiments.

spacexs-starship-landing-on-the-moon.png

 

SpaceX's Starship landing on the moon.

 

 

21. Trips to Saturn are within reach

SpaceX shared concept art of the planet-hopping concept taken to new levels.

spacexs-starship-on-a-trip-around-saturn

 

SpaceX's Starship on a trip around Saturn.

 

 

 

bc0c4adc5b5f.jpeg?crop=edges&fit=crop&au

 

 

 

20. A self-sustaining city on Mars is the main goal

A new concept image showed the potential for a Starship-powered city on Mars, complete with habitats. Musk described it as “the fundamental thing.” SpaceX has previously claimed it could build a city on Mars by 2050.

the-starship-landing-on-mars.png?auto=fo

 

 

The Starship landing on Mars.

 

 

19. Aliens probably don’t exist…

“The fastest way to increase defense funding would be to be like ‘hey look, we found an alien,’” Musk said, pouring cold water on the conspiracy theories surrounding the Area 51 base and an alien cover-up.

18. …so we need to protect the galaxy’s consciousness

“As far as we know, this is the only place, at least in this part of the galaxy or in the Milky Way where there’s consciousness,” Musk said. He warned that there’s probably only around several hundred million years left before the Sun expands enough to destroy humans on Earth, and we should “take whatever steps” possible to preserve life.

17. A 20-kilometer flight with Mk.1 should come in one or two months

Musk has previously suggested the Mk.1 could fly in October.

16. The next flight might be an orbital flight with the booster and ship

Musk suggested the Mk.3 prototype, which will start production in around a month at Boca Chica, could support this future mission. The Mk.4 or Mk.5 may also prove better candidates.

15. Florida and Texas will build both ships and boosters

Musk claimed “a whole stack of them” should emerge soon, as they will be building “as fast as we can.”

14. Booster production will probably start after Mk.4

The main constraint is engines, so spooling up Raptor production will be key to this.

13. SpaceX aims to make one Raptor every day by the first quarter of 2020

The firm currently produces a new engine every eight to 10 days.

12. A second prototype should arrive in one or two months, a third in three months, and a fourth in four or five months

The rate of production should be “quite crazy by space standards,” Musk said.

11. An orbital flight could take place within six months

 

Musk claimed this was “accurate to within a few months.”

 
the-starship-taking-off.jpeg?crop=edges&

 

 

10. Mk.3 should be thinner, lighter and cheaper

SpaceX plans to take steel coils directly from the mill and change the curvature to the nine-meter diameter, reducing production times. The production is expected to improve “exponentially.”

9. The first crewed Starship mission could leave from Boca Chica

Musk says the company is “internally competing” the Texas site and Cape Canaveral, but both places should launch crewed missions. There is a 50 percent chance that SpaceX chooses the Texas site.

8. Starship was built with less than five percent of SpaceX’s personnel

The rest of the team maintained its focus on the Dragon capsules and Falcon rockets.

7. Boca Chica is going to look a lot nicer

The current iteration was a short term construction to support the Starship prototype production, but Musk expects “a lot more buildings and a lot more stuff” when it’s flying crew in 10 years.

6. Boca Chica is probably going to produce propellant

Musk explained that the long-term goal will be to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use electricity to produce new fuel. The same technique used on Mars could power Boca Chica flights.

5. A 100-person flight is still a possibility

The Starship will offer 1,000 cubic meters of cabin pressurized space, similar to the International Space Station. Musk noted that this is roomier than it would be on Earth as you’re not limited to one surface. Musk previously likened the internal cabin size to that of an Airbus A380.

4. People could fly on the Starship by next year

“If we get to orbit in about six months…we can do 10 flights basically within 10 days,” Musk said. The reusability factor could prove person-readiness far faster than a traditional rocket.

3. ‘Undesigning’ is the best design

“Just delete it, that’s the best thing,” Musk said, describing how removing a part is better than maintaining one to add complexity.

2. Teslas will work on Mars

“You can just drive them, pretty much,” Musk claimed, contrasting the electric cars with an internal combustion engine. No word on whether the higher radiation levels may cause any problems.

1. Sending a boring machine to the moon and Mars might be a good idea

Musk hinted that sending one of The Boring Company’s machines could help extract materials and produce building resources.

With a city on Mars by 2050 the main goal, sending a boring machine and a Tesla to the red planet may prove less critical.

 

 

 


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#5260
Raklian

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In my opinion, the most impressive one of all 30 bullets is this:

 

 


 

8. Starship was built with less than five percent of SpaceX’s personnel

 

The rest of the team maintained its focus on the Dragon capsules and Falcon rockets.

 


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