They want to believe. Man thinks he saw Giant UFO while in airliner over Nevada desert.

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Some imaginative fellow was on an airplane flying over Nevada when he was sure he saw a giant UFO below the airplane.  It was massive and giving off extremely bright lights. The guy must have thought Earth was under alien attack.

He took some photos below:

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The “I want to believe” UFO community was abuzz when they saw the photos.  Maybe some real evidence that the little green bastards do exist!  But then a skeptic pointed out that the sighting was almost 99.999 percent a solar energy facility in the desert.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a concentrated solar thermal plant in the California Mojave Desert, 64 km (40 miles) southwest of Las Vegas, with a gross capacity of 392 megawatts (MW). It deploys 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors, focusing solar energy on boilers located on three centralized solar power towers. Unit 1 of the project was connected to the grid in September 2013 in an initial sync testing. The facility formally opened on February 13, 2014, and it is currently the world’s largest solar thermal power station.

There are ten huge Solar Generating facilities in the Mojave Desert.  The airplane passenger should have done some research before he came to a UFO conclusion.

 

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173,500 of these heliostats (mirror reflectors).

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SpaceX performs more Magic

SpaceX completes launch and landing double bill

US rocket company SpaceX completed back-to-back launches at the weekend.

Late on Friday, it used one of its refurbished Falcon 9 vehicles to put up a Bulgarian satellite from Florida.

Then on Sunday, SpaceX lofted another 10 spacecraft for telecommunications company Iridium. This time, the rocket flew out of California.

Both missions saw the Falcon first-stages come back to Earth under control to drone ships that had been positioned out on the ocean.

It means SpaceX has now had 13 landing successes for those missions it has sought to recover the booster. That said, Friday’s first-stage had a particularly hard landing, and looked bent over on the live video feed.

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“Rocket is extra toasty and hit the deck hard (used almost all of the emergency crush core), but otherwise good,” quipped SpaceX chief executive, Elon Musk, on Twitter.

His firm does not expect to recover every booster, because the flight profile required on many satellite launches will lead to re-entry speeds that are simply too fast to curtail with the available propellant.

Friday’s mission was launched from the US East Coast, from the Kennedy Space Center’s famous Apollo and shuttle pad, 39A.

The “second-hand” Falcon 9 lifted off at 15:10 local time (1910 GMT).

Its passenger, BulgariaSat-1, was dropped off in orbit, some 30 minutes later.

The spacecraft will be used to beam TV into homes in Bulgaria and Serbia.

The Falcon booster was last flown in January, to launch 10 satellites for the Iridium sat-phone and data-relay company. And it was another Iridium launch that topped out the weekend’s activities.

This second mission, on a brand new Falcon, occurred on the West Coast, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Iridium is in the midst of replacing its global network of satellites. Another 10 went up on this latest flight.

SpaceX has another six launches on the books for Iridium, whose existing network of more than 60 spacecraft is now well past its design life.

Sunday’s lift-off occurred at 13:25 local time (20:25 GMT). The returning booster on this occasion sported new titanium grid fins to help steer the vehicle back to its waiting drone ship.

The titanium ought to be more robust than the previous aluminium type, said Mr Musk, removing the requirement for repair or replacement. This should speed the turnaround of future boosters for re-use.

“New titanium grid fins worked even better than expected. Should be capable of an indefinite number of flights with no service,” the CEO tweeted.

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The new Iridium satellites are replacing a network that is more than 20 years old

Iridium’s business is mobile communications, providing connections to anyone who is not near a fixed line. These customers include the military, oil and gas platforms, ships and broadcasters.

Increasingly, it also includes remote machinery reporting in its status to a central server. This machine-to-machine service has a big future, especially as more and more devices are linked together in the coming, so-called “internet of things”.

The new Iridium satellites also host payloads for two tracking companies. One of is Aireon, which aims to offer a service that reports the positions of aircraft by sensing their ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) transmissions. This would be useful in following planes that are beyond radar coverage, but could also help airlines plan more efficient routing.

The other hosted payload is for ExactEarth, which does something very similar with ships. Large vessels transmit an Automatic Identification System message that can be sensed from orbit.

Again, shipping companies can use the tracking service to keep tabs on vessels and to plot the best available course to a port.

 

UFO Seeking Cubesat Satellite

CubeSats

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The first satellite for UFO research is being planned and intended to search low-Earth orbit for any sign of unidentified objects. Dave Shock, the project coordinator of CubeSat For Disclosure says the shoebox-sized device will contain two cameras, “one pointing down and one pointing up.” He believes that the crowd-funded project has a good chance to photograph anomalous objects in space, as well as measure any fluctuations in magnetic fields or radiation readings with other instruments on board. It is scheduled to launched in early 2018 into a polar orbit at 193 miles above the planet. The satellite will be aloft for approximately three months until the orbit decays and it burns up in the atmosphere.

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Ionized radiation: we have a scintillation counter, that enables us to measure the various radiation in our satellites environment.  This is significant as it enables us to detect high energy particles, radiation, and other phenomenon.

Cameras: we will use two cameras with parabolic lenses, giving us a clear 360 degree view around our satellite.

Our instruments will allow us to scientifically verify visual anomalies with correlated radiation.  This adds to the burden of proof required for extra-ordinary claims.

Got to give these guys an A+ for effort and creativity. Good luck!

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon in an eccentric polar mapping orbit. Data collected by LRO has been described as essential for planning NASA’s future human and robotic missions to the Moon. Its detailed mapping program is identifying safe landing sites, locating potential resources on the Moon, characterizing the radiation environment, and demonstrating new technologies.

The probe has made a 3-D map of the Moon’s surface and has provided high resolution images of Apollo landing sites. The first images from LRO were published on July 2, 2009, showing a region in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds).

Launched on June 18, 2009, in conjunction with the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), as the vanguard of NASA’s Lunar Precursor Robotic Program, LRO was the first United States mission to the Moon in over ten years. LRO and LCROSS were launched as part of the United States’s Vision for Space Exploration program.

Artist’s illustration of the LRO

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Tycho Central Peak

Far side of the Moon

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Near side of the Moon

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North Pole

 

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South Pole

 

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Earthrise over Compton Crater

 

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Apollo 11 landing site

 

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Apollo 17 landing site

 

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50 Years of Space Walking

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‘Spacewalkin’

50 years ago Ed White became the first American to step into space.

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June 3, 1965

Astronaut Edward H. White II, pilot for the Gemini-Titan 4 space flight, floats in space during America’s first spacewalk. The extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed during the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965. White spent 23 minutes maneuvering around his spacecraft as Jim McDivitt remained inside the spacecraft. White is attached to the spacecraft by a 25-foot umbilical line and a 23-foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand, White carries a Hand-Held Self Maneuvering Unit (HHSMU), which he used to help move him around the weightless environment of space. The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.

It’s half a century since Ed White became the first American to step into space, in 1965. Now an almost routine part of any space mission, the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity), or “spacewalk” was once a hazardous procedure.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the USSR scored a few early firsts in the Space Race: first satellite (Sputnik 1); first man in space (Yuri Gagarin); and first spacewalk (Alexei Leonov on March 8, 1965).

Leonov encountered many difficulties during his own spacewalk. He could only maneuver by pulling on the umbilical cord that tethered him to the spacecraft, and his suit over-inflated in the vacuum of space. Leonov had to bleed some oxygen from the suit to be able to get back in the hatch. The extent of these problems was not revealed until after the end of the Cold War.

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June 3, 1965

Ed White over the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA scheduled its first spacewalk to take place during the Gemini 4 mission. On June 3, 1965, Ed White left the Gemini spacecraft and, with the aid of a Hand-Held Self Manoeuvring Unit (HHSMU), or “zip gun,” White was able to move 15 feet (5 meters) from the craft.

Communication problems meant White had to be actively ordered to re-enter the spacecraft. Opening and closing the hatch was problematic, and a planned dump into space of White’s used spacewalk equipment was abandoned.

Several more spacewalks were performed during the Gemini missions, but the astronauts tired quickly and experienced overheating. It was Buzz Aldrin who first overcame these problems, working for just over two hours outside Gemini 12. Aldrin’s experiences as a scuba diver inspired NASA’s move to training astronauts for spacewalks in large water tanks to simulate the weightlessness of space.

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Nov. 12, 1966

Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., pilot of the Gemini 12 spacecraft, performs extravehicular activity (EVA) during the second day of the four-day mission in space. Aldrin is positioned next to the Agena work station.

With the advent of the space shuttle, spacewalks became routine. In 1983, NASA astronauts began using the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), a self-contained life support device. The Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), also known as Canadarm, was developed by Canada and delivered to NASA in 1981, the first of five such arms. This machine could be used as an anchor for astronauts during spacewalks.

On Feb. 7, 1984, the Manned Manoeuvring Unit (MMU) was deployed. For the first time, this allowed an astronaut to work untethered. Using the MMU, Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to fly free in space, moving 320 feet (98 meters) away from the shuttle.

In 2001, Susan Helms and James Voss set the record for the spacewalk with the longest duration, at eight hours and 56 minutes.

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Mar. 6, 1969

Apollo 9 Command/Service Modules (CSM), nicknamed “Gumdrop,” and Lunar Module (LM), nicknamed “Spider,” are shown docked together as Command Module Pilot David R. Scott stands in the open hatch. Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Lunar Module pilot, took this photograph of Scott during his EVA as he stood on the porch outside the Lunar Module. Apollo 9 was an Earth orbital mission designed to test docking procedures between the CSM and LM, as well as test fly the Lunar Module in the relative safe confines of Earth orbit.

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Feb. 12, 1984

Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II, is seen further away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut had ever been. This space first was made possible by the Manned Manuevering Unit or MMU, a nitrogen jet propelled backpack. After a series of test maneuvers inside and above Challenger’s payload bay, McCandless went “free-flying” to a distance of 320 feet away from the Orbiter.

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Sept. 16, 1994

Astronauts Carl J. Meade and Mark C. Lee (red stripe on suit) test the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) system some 130 nautical miles from Earth. The pair were actually performing an in-space rehearsal or demonstration of a contingency rescue using the never- before-flown hardware. Meade, who here wears the small backpack unit with its complementary chest-mounted control unit, and Lee, anchored to Discovery’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS) robot arm, took turns using the SAFER hardware during their shared space walk.

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Sep. 16, 1995

The pale blue Earth serves as backdrop for astronaut Michael Gernhardt during his Extravehicular Activity (EVA). He is standing on a Manipulator Foot Restraint (MFR) attached to the Remote Manipulator System (RMS). He is positioned over the Payload Bay, and Endeavour’s forward section is reflected in his visor. A thermal cube is attached to the RMS and records temperatures during spacesuit evaluations. Unlike earlier spacewalking astronauts, Gernhardt was able to use an electronic cuff checklist, a prototype developed for the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS).

Spacewalk-8

Nov. 14, 1984

Astronaut Dale A. Gardner, having just completed the major portion of his second extravehicular activity (EVA) period in three days, holds up a “For Sale” sign referring to the two satellites, Palapa B-2 and Westar 6, that they retrieved from orbit after their Payload Assist Modules (PAM) failed to fire. Astronaut Joseph P. Allen IV, who also participated in the two EVAs, is reflected in Gardner’s helmet visor. A portion of each of two recovered satellites is in the lower right corner, with Westar 6 nearer Discovery’s aft.

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Russian cosmonaut conducting maintenance on the ISS

US Air Force’s secretive space plane lands after two years in orbit

X-37B OTA4 lands at Kennedy Space Center

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-4), an unmanned, reusable space plane operated by the US Air Force, has landed at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida after two years in orbit.

US Air Force officials confirmed the craft’s landing and said they were “excited about the data gathered”.

According to a press release, the programme is designed to experiment on and develop reusable space vehicles.

But what the OTV-4 has been doing for the last 24 months isn’t clear.

“The hard work of the X-37B OTV team and the 45th Space Wing successfully demonstrated the flexibility and resolve necessary to continue the nation’s advancement in space,” said Randy Walden, the director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

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Role Unmanned spaceplane
National origin United States
Manufacturer Boeing Defense, Space & Security
First flight 7 April 2006 (first drop test)
Introduction 22 April 2010 (first spaceflight)
Status
  • In service
  • 4 spaceflights completed
Primary user
  • X-37A: NASA?Darpa
  • 37B: United States Air Force
Number built
  • X-37A: 1
  • X-37B: 2
Developed from Boeing X-40

“The ability to land, refurbish, and launch from the same location further enhances the OTV’s ability to rapidly integrate and qualify new space technologies.”

Because the X-37B started life as a Nasa programme, the Air Force is in a position to talk openly about the craft’s design but its precise purpose remains classified.

Back in 2010, when the vehicle was first launched, Gary Payton, the Air Force’s deputy undersecretary for space programmes, tried to calm worries about the potential weaponisation of space.

“I don’t know how this could be called weaponisation of space. It’s just an updated version of the space shuttle type of activities in space,” he said.

“We, the Air Force, have a suite of military missions in space and this new vehicle could potentially help us do those missions better.”

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Given that its landing on Sunday caused a sonic boom, waking residents in central Florida, it would be hard for US Air Force officials to deny something had happened.

“Today marks an incredibly exciting day for the 45th Space Wing as we continue to break barriers,” said Brig Gen Wayne Monteith, the 45th SW commander.

“Our team has been preparing for this event for several years, and I am extremely proud to see our hard work and dedication culminate in today’s safe and successful landing of the X-37B.”

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X-37B OTV Mission 3 Landing

General characteristics
Crew: none
Length: 29 ft 3 in (8.92 m)
Wingspan: 14 ft 11 in (4.55 m)
Height: 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Max takeoff weight: 11,000 lb (4,990 kg)
Electrical power: Gallium arsenide solar cells with lithium-ion batteries
Payload bay: 7 × 4 ft (2.1 × 1.2 m)
Performance
Orbital speed: 28,044 km/h (17,426 mph)
Orbit: Low Earth orbit
Orbital time: 270 days (design)

Cubesats: Miniature research satellites launched from the International Space Station

A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that usually has a volume of exactly one liter (10 cm cube), has a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms, and typically uses commercial off-the-shelf components for its electronics.

Beginning in 1999, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and Stanford University developed the CubeSat specifications to help universities worldwide to perform space science and exploration.

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The CubeSat specification accomplishes several high-level goals. Simplification of the satellite’s infrastructure makes it possible to design and produce a workable satellite at low cost. Encapsulation of the launcher–payload interface takes away the prohibitive amount of managerial work that would previously be required for mating a piggyback satellite with its launcher. Unification among payloads and launchers enables quick exchanges of payloads and utilization of launch opportunities on short notice.

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Since CubeSats are all 10×10 cm (regardless of length) they can all be launched and deployed using a common deployment system. CubeSats are typically launched and deployed from a mechanism called a Poly-PicoSatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD), also developed and built by Cal Poly. P-PODs are mounted to a launch vehicle and carry CubeSats into orbit and deploy them once the proper signal is received from the launch vehicle. P-PODs have deployed over 90% of all CubeSats launched to date (including un-successful launches), and 100% of all CubeSats launched since 2006. The P-POD Mk III has capacity for three 1U CubeSats, or other 1U, 2U, or 3U CubeSats combination up to a maximum volume of 3U.

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Future projects

QB50

QB50 is a proposed international network of 50 CubeSats for multi-point, in-situ measurements in the lower thermosphere (90–350 km) and re-entry research. QB50 is an initiative of the Von Karman Institute and is funded by the European Commission as part of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). Double-unit (2U) CubeSats (10×10×20 cm) are developed, with one unit (the ‘functional’ unit) providing the usual satellite functions and the other unit (the ‘science’ unit) accommodating a set of standardised sensors for lower thermosphere and re-entry research. 35 CubeSats are envisaged to be provided by universities in 19 European countries, 10 by universities in the US, 2 by universities in Canada, 3 by Japanese universities, 1 by an institute in Brazil, and others. Ten 2U or 3U CubeSats are foreseen to serve for in-orbit technology demonstration of new space technologies.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the QB50 CubeSat was released on February 15, 2012. Two “precursor” QB50 satellites were launched aboard a Dnepr rocket on June 19, 2014. All 50 CubeSats were supposed to be launched together on a single Cyclone-4 launch vehicle in February 2016, but due to the unavailability of the launch vehicle, 40 satellites are now planned to be launched aboard Cygnus CRS OA-7 in March 2017 and subsequently deployed from the ISS. Eight other cubesats have been manifested on two further Dnepr flights but the availability of this launcher has been in doubt since its last flight in 2015.

2018 InSight mission: MarCO CubeSats

The May 2018 launch, of the InSight stationary lander to Mars, will include two CubeSats to flyby Mars to provide additional relay communications from InSight to Earth during entry and landing. This will be the first flight of CubeSats in deep space. The mission CubeSat technology is called Mars Cube One (MarCO), a six-unit CubeSat, 14.4 inches (36.6 centimeters) by 9.5 inches (24.3 centimeters) by 4.6 inches (11.8 centimeters). MarCo is an experiment, but not necessary for the InSight mission, to add relay communications to space missions in important time durations, in this landing from the time of InSight atmospheric entry and landing.

MarCO will launch in May 2018 with the InSight lander and will separate after launch and then travel in their own trajectories to Mars. After separation, MarCO will deploy two radio antennas and two solar panels. The high-gain, X-band antenna is a flat panel to direct radio waves. MarCO will navigate to Mars independently from the InSight lander, making their own course adjustments on the flight.

During InSight’s planned entry, descent and landing (EDL) in November 2018, the lander will transmit information in the UHF radio band to NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) flying overhead. MRO will forward EDL information to Earth using a radio frequency in the X band, but cannot simultaneously receive information in one band if transmitting on another. Confirmation of a successful landing could be received on Earth several hours after, so MarCO would be a technology demonstration of real-time telemetry during the landing.

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InSight lander with labeled instruments