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Space Technology

  • First Apollo computer discovered by South African

    The first Apollo computer has been tracked down and "unboxed" by a South African computer engineer. According to Gadget.co.za, Tshwane computer engineer Francois Rautenbach managed to track down the first Guidance and Navigation Control computer, used for a test flight of the Saturn 1B rocket in 1966. Gadget reported that this was the same computer model used on Apollo 11. "On 25th August 1966, a very special computer was launched into space onboard (sic) Apollo flight AS-202," reads the intro for the first video. "This was the first computer to use integrated circuits and the first release of the computer that took the astronauts...

  • It’s not just SpaceX: 6 more crazy rocket explosions

    The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket "anomaly" isn't the first time we've seen a rocket explosion. Be it on the launchpad or in flight, these incidents have happened before. From China to the USA, we looked at six prominent examples of RUD involving rockets over the years. China's Long March explosion One of the most controversial space incidents, a Chinese Long March rocket veered off-course during a 1996 launch, crashing into a village in the process. The 2014 Antares explosion Orbital ATK's Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule exploded less than 30 seconds after launch in October 2014. Russia's catastrophic Proton rocket failure in 2013 The July 2013 failure of a Proton rocket a...

  • Mark Zuckerberg ‘disappointed’ by SpaceX explosion, loss of Africa satellite

    In the wake of the SpaceX Falcon 9 explosion that rocked Cape Canaveral yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a response on Facebook. SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explodes at Cape Canaveral Here’s something you don’t hear everyday. A Falcon 9 rocket developed and owned by private company SpaceX has reportedly exploded at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The incident occurred Wednesday around 3pm South African time. The rocket was reportedly resting on the launch pad prior to a test before bursting into flames. Read more... The social networking giant had special interest in the Falcon 9, as it was carrying an Israeli-made satellite...

  • Update: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explodes at Cape Canaveral

    Update 2: 2 September, 7.44pm: SpaceX shed more light on the incident, saying the "anomaly originated around the upper stage oxygen tank" and happened while propellant was being loaded. Update: 1 September, 4.43pm: SpaceX has emailed a press statement on the matter, revealing that the explosion was caused by an "anomaly" on the launchpad. "SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today's standard pre-launch static fire test, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries," the company explained. Original article: Here's...

  • NASA’s Juno space probe kisses Jupiter’s atmosphere

    NASA's Juno space craft has succeeded in making the first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter. The first flyby, which is also the closest Juno will come to Jupiter, took place on Saturday -- the probe passed by at an altitude of just 4200km. "Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, according to the space agency. The flyby marked the first time that the probe had all its scientific instruments enabled. NASA's Juno is in an orbit nobody has ever been in before The probe's JunoCam also took...

  • NASA’s Juno to conduct closest ever pass of Jupiter

    NASA's Juno space probe has only recently gone into orbit around Jupiter, but the space agency is preparing for a major milestone this weekend. The probe will make its closest scheduled pass of Jupiter at 5.51am PDT on Saturday (2.51pm SAST), being just 4200km above the gas giant. "There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter scheduled during its prime mission (scheduled to end in February of 2018). The August 27 flyby will be the first time Juno will have its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zooms past," the space agency explained. This...

  • Falcon Heavy: SpaceX’s rocket will outlift Space Shuttle

    Elon Musk's private space company, SpaceX, has been making waves in recent years -- and for good reason. The company has successfully delivered supplies to the International Space Station, landed several first stage boosters and is currently fighting Boeing to win NASA's astronaut contract. But we're just a few months away from another significant milestone in the company's lifespan, as it readies a beast of a rocket, dubbed the Falcon Heavy. The most powerful rocket in operation The rocket is set to carry a bigger payload to orbit than the Space Shuttle. That's 54.4 tonnes as opposed to the Shuttle's 24 tonnes. Only the Apollo-era Saturn V...

  • 12 important space missions, events to look forward to in 2017

    The year has already seen a variety of landmark space missions taking place. There were the Falcon 9's successful first stage landings, the Juno probe's Jupiter rendezvous and the longest stay at the International Space Station. Next year promises to be another bumper year for unmanned and manned spaceflight, so what should we expect? We listed 12 space missions and major events to watch out for in 2017. Boeing to test its manned capsule Boeing is hard at work on its CST-100 Starliner capsule, hoping to beat SpaceX to the manned mission punch. The CST-100 Starliner capsule can lift up to seven astronauts to orbit...

  • SpaceX is getting pretty good at this rocket landing thing

    Private space firm SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday, delivering a commercial satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. But, as usual, it was the company's Earth-based endeavours that attracted more attention... The company managed to successfully land the rocket's first stage on a drone barge, marking the fourth successful landing at sea. However, the landing was even tougher than normal due to the orbit needed, resulting in the first stage being subjected to "extreme velocities and re-entry heating", SpaceX wrote. Geostationary orbit occurs at an altitude of over 30 000 kilometres, being the preferred orbit for many satellites. On the other hand, missions to the International Space Station take...

  • Space mining a step closer: private firm announces mission to asteroid

    Private space mining firm Deep Space Industries has announced the first commercial mission to an asteroid. The Prospector-1 mission is expected to launch before the end of the decade, with the aim of landing on a near-Earth asteroid, the company wrote in a press statement. "DSI is developing Prospector-1 both for its own asteroid mining ambitions, as well as to bring an extremely low-cost, yet high-performance exploration capability to the market. We hope to enable both existing and new public and private organisations to explore the inner solar system using this affordable platform," said DSI's chief engineer Grant Bonin. Weighing just 50-kilograms when fully...

  • MEERKAT discovers 1300 galaxies in one patch of sky [Image]

    South Africa's own MEERKAT radio telescope system has made headlines in the astronomy world thanks to its landmark First Light image. The radio telescope focused on a small section of sky that represented 0.01% of the "entire celestial sphere", the SKA team said in a media statement. Prior to MEERKAT, only 70 known galaxies were found in this area. The discovery is made even more notable due to the fact that only 16 of the eventual 64 dishes were used to make the discovery. All 64 dishes are expected to be online by the end of 2017. "Based on the results being shown...

  • More celestial goodness as Juno delivers landmark Jupiter snap

    NASA marked a rather huge milestone a few weeks ago when it's Juno probe successfully entered into orbit around Jupiter on 4 July. The probe also carries a tiny camera, for the main purpose of letting the public go for a "ride" to the Jovian system. Now, the first photo has been beamed back to Earth, showing the gas giant from orbit. The photo was taken six days after Juno's rendezvous, being roughly 4.3-million kilometres away from the planet, on the outbound leg of its initial orbit, NASA explained. The space agency added that better quality snaps were still a few weeks away, with the...

  • NASA’s Juno probe is now orbiting Jupiter, sends time-lapse too

    Sending a probe millions of kilometres away to orbit around a gas giant is no easy feat, but NASA has managed to do just that. The space agency received confirmation of Juno's orbit around Jupiter at 5.53am SAST (11.53pm EDT). In a rather fitting note, the orbit was confirmed on the USA's Independence Day. "Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America's birthday another reason to cheer -- Juno is at Jupiter," said NASA administrator Charlie Bolden in a statement. "And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With...

  • NASA’s Juno probe is just a week away from historic Jupiter visit

    We saw some amazing shots after the Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012, delivering panoramas, detailed composite shots and much more Martian goodness. Last year saw NASA's New Horizons space probe fly past Pluto, delivering and continuing to deliver photos in unprecedented detail. The space agency isn't stopping there with the discoveries though, as its next big event will take place at Jupiter on 4 July. Yep, NASA's Juno probe is just five days away from visiting the gas giant in what will be the closest orbit yet. How close though? Well, it'll be flying roughly 5000km above Jupiter's clouds at its closest approach. In fact, Juno has already sent a...

  • 5 things we learnt from Mars One finalist Adriana Marais

    The opportunity to settle on Mars is simply too good to pass up for Dr. Adriana Marais, one of five South African finalists in the Mars One initiative. The programme hopes to recruit several people on a one-way trip to the Red Planet, although there are several significant challenges that still stand in its way by most accounts. But if anything, Marais has some impressive qualifications, with an extensive background in quantum biology, for one. The Mars One finalist was on-hand to talk about the opportunity and more at a Heavy Chef event in Cape Town on Wednesday night. What did we learn from the talk then? There...