Articles by lbsella

The First Manned Mission to Launch Off of American Soil Since 2011

On July 8, 2011, the Atlantis space shuttle took off for its last flight, as the last space launch on American soil, and on July 21, the space age hit a crossroads. Ever since, America has been launching astronauts to the I.S.S. (International Space Station) with the help of Russia, using their rockets. Then in 2017, SpaceX was elected to build a spacecraft to carry astronauts to the I.S.S. , so what the catch? This shuttle will be launched off of American soil from the Kennedy Space Center for the first time in eight years. Tests had happened, an unmanned test flight had succeeded and the crew dragon capsule had safely landed in the Atlantic Ocean. And on March 3, the mission, manned by  Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, successfully docked with the I.S.S. . On March 8, they undocked and completed their splash down. This was a big feat…


Meet the X-3: the Sci-fi Thruster That Shoots Plasma from Its… Back

There’s one thing that the human race is sure of; the space age is upon us. Surprisingly, the best way of doing it right about now is putting humans on top of a rocket that could explode at any moment and launching them into space. I know, it sounds reckless. And surprisingly, it works. But here’s the problem: chemical rockets can get humans into earth’s orbit and out, but if we are going to explore the stars, chemical rockets just won’t do it. These rockets are powered by liquid hydrogen (LH2) having liquid oxygen (LOX) as the oxidizer which creates thrust. Unfortunately the thrust is very powerful, doesn’t last long. However, at P.E.P.L. (Plasmadynamics & Electric Propulsion Laboratory), scientists have a solution. The X3 ion thruster is a type of electric propulsion design called a hall thruster, which has ten times the efficiency of a chemical rocket. To create thrust,…



The BFR: SpaceX’s Plan to Get to Mars

BFR = Big Falcon Rocket Its 2018 and almost 2019, and SpaceX has been preparing for this for years. 10, 9, 8, … Elon Musk and Gwynne Shotwell and all the other smart, gritty and brave people in mission control are all biting their lips, 7, 6, 5, … they are testing the reusable rocket boosters and landing gear. 4, 3, 2, 1, liftoff!   After six successful rocket booster landings, Elon Musk started to think about how they were really going to get to Mars. Even with 28,730,000 pounds of thrust to get the rocket to parking orbit, the trip to Mars is 54.6 million kilometers away and will take about 300 day to get there. How will we have enough fuel to get to Mars after we burned a big part of it getting to parking orbit? This is how: the rocket booster that separates after the front…


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