TIME innovations

Watch What It’s Like to Get Blasted to 100MPH in 1.2 Seconds

We'd almost definitely vomit

If you ever wondered what it’s like to get blasted off a launch pad going at 100 miles per hour, this SpaceX video does the trick.

The video, posted Friday, shows point-of-view footage of SpaceX’s May 6 pad abort test of its Crew Dragon vehicle. Essentially, the private space company, headed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, was testing a system that could safely eject astronauts aboard a just-launched rocket should anything go wrong.

The Dragon vehicle reached 100mph in 1.2 seconds, before topping out at a peak velocity of 345mph.

“The successful Pad Abort Test was the first flight test of SpaceX’s revolutionary launch abort system, and the data captured here will be critical in preparing Crew Dragon for its first human missions in 2017,” SpaceX wrote following the successful test.

In March, SpaceX launched the world’s first completely electric satellites into space.

TIME space

SpaceX Invites You to Mars With These Throwback Travel Posters

The space transportation company makes light of its ambitions to take humans to Mars

TIME A Year In Space

See Scott Kelly’s First 30 Days in Space

A visual diary of the astronaut's first month of his year-long journey in space. Scott Kelly will be the first American astronaut to spend 12 months aboard the International Space Station

TIME is following Kelly’s mission in the new series, A Year In Space. Watch the trailer here.

TIME A Year In Space

Watch the SpaceX Rocket Landing in Slow Motion

The rocket tipped over due to excess lateral velocity

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, marking the sixth resupply mission for SpaceX to the International Space Station and a second chance at attempting to recover a Falcon 9 rocket. The company released this HD slow motion video on Wednesday that shows the rocket approach SpaceX’s autonomous drone barge landing platform, then tipping over after impact. SpaceX CEO and CTO Elon Musk tweeted:

TIME A Year In Space

Astronaut Scott Kelly Takes Off for International Space Station

A fiery display marks the start of a remarkable mission

It took Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Gannady Padalka less than nine minutes to drive to work on Saturday. That’s the easy part. The hard part is that Padalka won’t punch out for six months; for Kornienko and Kelly, it will be a year.

MORE: Watch the Trailer for TIME’s Unprecedented New Series: A Year In Space

Their office, of course, is the International Space Station (ISS). And their drive began at 3:42 p.m. ET Friday, or 1:42 a.m. Saturday in Kazakhstan, where their Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, en route to space. The 510-second sprint to low-Earth orbit will be followed by a six-hour chase, in which the Soyuz will slowly gain ground on the station, finally docking at about the same time people in Kazakhstan will be arriving at their decidedly more prosaic places of business.

TIME will be covering Kelly’s mission in the new series, A Year In Space. Watch the trailer here.

TIME technology

There Are Now Martini Glasses Designed for Space Travel

The designs for a space-friendly cocktail glass and drinking glass are seen from the Zero Gravity Cocktail Project kickstarter campaign.
Cosmic Lifestyle Corp The design for a space-friendly cocktail glass and drinking glass are seen from the Zero Gravity Cocktail Project kickstarter campaign

Houston, we have stemware

For the stylish space voyager, sucking liquids through a straw out of a foil bag is never going to cut it. But a new Kickstarter venture hopes to smarten things up by raising money to produce a zero-gravity-friendly martini glass.

Created under the Zero Gravity Cocktail Project, the glass is designed with a series of grooves that prevent the liquid inside from forming into a floating blob and instead guide it neatly towards the mouth.

“The glass is a stepping-stone to say that, Hey, this is possible, you can create these things for space,” Samuel Coniglio, COO of Cosmic Lifestyle Corp., the company designing the glass, says in a promotional video.

Cosmic Lifestyle is hoping that this new product can be the beginning of a wider project to create a lifestyle brand for anyone wanting to travel to space in style.

Presumably a zero-gravity cocktail shaker is on the drawing board next, or else nobody is going to get served their cosmic martini any time soon.

TIME space travel

These ‘Vintage’ NASA Posters Imagine Travel Beyond the Stars

Designers NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory capture the excitement of space exploration

Planet-hunters haven’t found a Mirror Earth orbiting a star beyond the Sun yet, but this week’s discovery of a new batch of exoplanets that come awfully close, plus the announcement that the amazing Kepler probe has topped the 1,000 mark in its search for alien worlds makes it only a matter of time before we find planets where life might be thriving.

Once that happens, of course we’re going to want to go visit.. That’s not going to happen tomorrow: it’s impossible to visit any of these worlds in person with any current technology, so until we build a Star Trek-style warp drive or discover an Interstellar-esque worm hole, a trip to an exoplanet will have to remain a dream.

Fortunately, though, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, has some professional dreamers on staff—artists who try to capture the excitement of space exploration in a way the rest of us can appreciate. Their latest creation: three fanciful posters advertising tourism to three actual exoplanets, done in the gorgeously romantic style of 1930’s-era railway posters.

This being a NASA lab, they didn’t just make stuff up. “There was a lot of back-and-forth with the scientists,” says David Delgado, one of the designers, “figuring out which exoplanets to choose, then noodling on what it would actually like to visit them.” In the case of Kepler 186f, for example, which was discovered last year, the planet orbits a small red star. “Maybe the color of vegetation would be different there,” he says—and on the poster, it is. The second poster shows Kepler 16b, a planet that orbits twin suns. The third depicts HD 40307g, a so-called Super Earth about 1.4 times the size of our home planet and eight times as massive. All three could in principle be habitable, based on how much heat they get from their stars.

“The posters were really designed primarily for use within JPL,” says Joby Harris, another designer on the project. When they were released to the public a few days ago, however, the response was overwhelmingly positive. “We were a little surprised by it,” admits Harris.

He shouldn’t be. One of the reasons JPL has these artists on staff, says Delgado, “is to get people excited about space science, to build their curiosity.” They’re clearly exceptionally good at doing their jobs.

Three more exoplanet posters are in the works, although there’s no word on when they’ll be finished. For those who want to print out their own posters, high-resolution print-optimized versions are on JPL’s Planet Quest website.

 

TIME world affairs

No More Space ‘Race’

space-shuttle-NASA
Getty Images

Next stage of space exploration is becoming a worldwide project

Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, saw her first rocket launch at age 4. Her father worked at NASA as an engineer, and the thrill of space exploration captured her imagination from an early age. But at a Future Tense film screening of The Dish in Washington D.C. last week, Stofan acknowledged that for many people she meets, what first a sparked a space obsession was the Apollo program—President John F. Kennedy’s audacious commitment in 1961 to putting Americans on the moon before the end of the decade.

Today, NASA’s goal to put astronauts on Mars by the 2030s could be a similarly unifying project. And not only in the United States. A far cry from the fierce Cold War Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, exploration in the 21st century is likely to be a far more globally collaborative project.

Why has the idea of reaching Mars captured the world? A trip to Mars is a priority for many scientific reasons—some believe it’s the planet that most resembles our own, and one that could answer the age-old question of whether we’re alone in the universe—but there’s also been a long popular fascination with the planet, Stofan observed. Ever since Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli first observed the canali on Mars in the 1800s or when H.G. Wells wrote about aliens from Mars in his 1898 science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds, the planet has loomed large in the public’s imagination.

And perhaps it’s this historic obsession that partly explains the more international effort: the U.S. is hardly the only country dreaming of deep space – and a trip to Mars– these days. India has plans to put astronauts in the sky, Japan just launched a spacecraft to collect asteroid samples, and of course, the European Space Agency had the recent, hugely successful Rosetta mission and Philae lander. It seems that what Apollo did for America’s imagination and spirit of invention, foreign space programs can also do domestically. “You see countries like India really investing in their space program because they see it as inspirational and good for their economy,” Stofan told the audience.

The truth is, as Stofan put it, “When we go to explore, we do it as a globe.” In a conversation outside the event, she recounted the stories of some of the astronauts featured in the 2007 documentary, In the Shadow of the Moon, who travelled the world after they returned from the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s. People from all sorts of countries welcomed them, not just as Americans, but as “our astronauts”.

“People see space as a place where you go and cooperate,” she told me.

This spirit of trans-border ownership and investment seems set to continue. One key part of this is the Global Exploration Roadmap, an effort between space agencies like NASA, France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, the Canadian Space Agency, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, among many others, that is intended to aid joint projects from the International Space Station to expeditions to the Moon and near-Earth asteroids – and of course, to reach Mars. On a recent trip to India’s space agency, Stofan recounted to me, she met with many Indian engineers who were just as excited as the Americans to get scientists up there, not only to explore, but also to begin nailing down the question of whether there was ever life on the red planet.

It’s also clear that the next stage of space exploration will not only be more global, but will equally involve greater private and public partnerships. Companies like Space X and Boeing are increasingly involved in NASA’s day to day operations, including a joint project that could carry astronauts into space in 2017. NASA’s view is to turn over to the private sector those projects that in a sense have become routine, Stofan suggested, and let NASA focus its resources on getting to Mars.

This environment feels a lot different from the secretive and adversarial Space Race days, when the U.S. and Soviet Union battled to reach the moon first. What’s changed? The Cold War is over, of course, but with it, the funding commitment may also be missing this time around. Stofan mentioned, in response to an audience question, that at the time of the Apollo missions, NASA got up to about 4% of the federal budget, while now it’s only around 0.4%. The dollars are still large, of course, but perhaps increased international and private cooperation can be seen as an efficient, clever way to do more with less.

So, what does the future hold? NASA is extremely focused on how to get to Mars and back again safely, Stofan told the audience, but the fun role of science fiction, she suggested, is to start envisioning what the steps after that might be. For example, what it might be like to live on Mars? After all, science often gets its inspiration from the creative world. Just look at how similar mobile phones are to the communicators from Star Trek, she pointed out, or the fact that MIT students made a real life version of the robotic sphere that Luke Skywalker trains with in Star Wars. “Stories are a great counterpoint to science.”

What would Stofan like to see on the big screen next? “The Martian. I think it’s being made into a movie in already. And I wish someone would redo The Dune.”

Ariel Bogle is an associate editor for the Future Tense program, a joint collaboration between the New America Foundation, the online magazine Slate, and Arizona State University. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME space

Orion Successfully Completes Space Mission

After three postponements Thursday

The Orion spacecraft successfully touched down in the Pacific Ocean Friday morning, 4.5 hours after launching into space.

NASA had called off three successive countdowns on Thursday in the wake of wind gusts and valve problems with the vessel, but the mission went off as planned Friday.

“There’s your new spacecraft, America,” Mission Control commentator Rob Navias said moments before the Orion capsule landed in the water, the AP reports.

The experimental craft orbited the Earth twice and traveled a distance of 3,600 miles into space before the landing. The Orion project is a Lockheed Martin and Boeing joint venture that undertakes commercial and U.S. government launches.

“The flight is designed to test many of the most vital elements for human spaceflight and will provide critical data needed to improve Orion’s design and reduce risks to future mission crews,” read a NASA statement.

TIME space

NASA Orion Launch Postponed Till Friday

NASA hopes the spacecraft will make it to Mars one day

A series of problems forced NASA to delay a planned launch of its its new Orion spacecraft on Thursday.

The next launch attempt is slated for Friday at 7:05 a.m. ET.

The launch, an early step in NASA’s mission to send people to Mars, was set to begin at 7:05 a.m. ET on Thursday but was delayed multiple times for a variety of reasons, including a boat in the area and valve trouble on the core booster. Thursday’s launch window closed at 9:44 a.m. ET.

The un-crewed Orion is intended to orbit 3,600 miles above Earth before it finally crashes into the Pacific Ocean. It will measure the effects of high radiation zones on the spacecraft, which has a heat shield to withstand massive temperatures when it speeds into the atmosphere at 20,000 mph, before finally hitting the ocean.

There will be more test-runs to come for Orion, a vessel that NASA hopes will ultimately take astronauts into new places–maybe even Mars.

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