Boeing backs Virgin Galactic’s missions to space Boeing is throwing its weight – FutureFive Australia

Boeing is throwing its weight and its wallet behind Sir Richard Bransons spaceflight company Virgin Galactic.

Boeing will invest US$200 million (AU$295.2 million) into Virgin Galactic so that the two companies can work on making commercial space trips more accessible, and to transform global travel technologies.

This is the beginning of an important collaboration for the future of air and space travel, which are the natural next steps for our human spaceflight programme, declares Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson.

Virgin Galactic and Boeing share a vision of opening access to the world and space, to more people in safe and environmentally responsible ways.

Virgin Galactic is the only company in the world to have taken humans to space in the Mach 3 passenger vehicle a vehicle designed for commercial service.

Virgin Galactic alone has poured more than US$1 billion into ways of building reusable human spaceflight systems that help people experience and utilise space.

Through its manufacturing and development capabilities, Virgin Galactic can design, build, test, and operate a fleet of advanced aerospace vehicles. Boeing has unparalleled experience transporting people to orbit and building and operating large structures in that challenging environment.

A part of every manned space program in the United States, Boeing serves as NASAs prime private contractor for the International Space Station ("ISS") and is preparing the new, reusable Starliner space capsule for launch to the ISS.

According to Boeing HorizonX Ventures senior managing director Brian Schettler, Boeings investment hopes to commercialise space travel.

Our work with Virgin Galactic and others will help unlock the future of space travel and high-speed mobility.

Boeings defense, space and security president and CEO Leanne Caret adds, The unique expertise of our companies stretches from points all around the world to the deepest reaches of space.

Together we will change how people travel on Earth, and among the stars, for generations to come.

The two companies say they will share more information on specific projects at a future date.

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Boeing backs Virgin Galactic's missions to space Boeing is throwing its weight - FutureFive Australia

Nasa to stop hitching rides with Russia and vows 2020 all-American manned flight on Elon Musks Crew Drago – The Sun

ELON Musk says the first manned test of his Crew Dragon spacecraft will take place in early 2020.

It means Nasa is one step closer to "all-American" trips to space halting its reliance on Russia's Soyuz astronaut capsules.



Nasa currently pays Russia around $80million (64million) per seat for trips to the International Space Station.

This has been the case since July 2011, when Nasa retired its old space shuttle fleet.

But Elon Musk's SpaceX firm has been testing a new shuttle called Crew Dragon, which would put an end to the "hitchhiking" relationship.

"We are getting very close, and we're very confident that in the first part of next year we will be ready to launch American astronauts on American rockets," said Nasa chief Jim Bridenstine.



In September 2014, Nasa handed $2.6billion to give the SpaceX Crew Dragon development a boost.

But the Crew Dragon spacecraft dramatically exploded during a key safety test back in April.

Shocking footage of the incident appeared to show the capsule bursting into an enormous fireball at a site in Florida.

Onlookers could see reddish orange smoke billowing from the site at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with reports suggesting the mushroom cloud was visible for "miles around".

The United States Air Force told local press that the incident had been contained, and confirmed no one was hurt in the blast.



Now Musk hopes to launch manned missions early next year but says there is plenty of testing still to do.

"We're hopefuly to have the first successful Mark 3 drop test within a week or two," said Musk.

"And then there'll be a steady cadence of tests thereafter.

"We certainly want to get at least something on the order of 10 successful tests in a row before launching astronauts."

Speaking alongside Musk at a joint briefing at SpaceX, Bridenstine added: "This is a big deal for our country, and we can't get it wrong.

"We want to make sure we get it right.

"If everything goes according to plan, it would be the first quarter of next year.

"We are not going to take any undue risk."


What is the ISS?

Here's what you need to know about the International Space Station...

But Musk isn't the only one working on a space shuttle.

Nasa has also given Boeing $4.2billion to help finish the CST-100 Starliner.

This is set for an unpiloted orbital test flight on December 17, which means manned tests won't take place until at least 2020.

Nasa is "still buying seats" on the Soyuz as an "insurance policy" in case there are further delays to Crew Dragon or Starliner.

In other news, we reveal how space travel has changed through the ages.

A Nasa report revealed that Apollo 11 astronauts had no toiletand instead relieved themselves using bags taped to bums and "pee condoms".

DEAD STRANGE Mystery haul of 20 sealed Egyptian coffins found 'as the ancients left them'

INCOMING New asteroid threat as 50ft space rock could hit Earth in just 70 years

LIFE ON MARS Alien life was found on Mars in the 1970s, former Nasa scientist claims

FLOODY HELL Egyptian burial tomb stuns archaeologists as they drain it to find 'human soup'

BAD ROME-ANCE Roman chariot buried alongside horses as part of 'ritual for wealthy family'

MYSTERY SOLVED? Mysterious bones that may belong to Amelia Earhart sent for DNA testing

And here's why some people still think the Moon landings were faked 50 years later and the man who started the hoax theory.

Would you like the opportunity to travel to space? Let us know in the comments!

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at tech@the-sun.co.uk

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Nasa to stop hitching rides with Russia and vows 2020 all-American manned flight on Elon Musks Crew Drago - The Sun

NASA engineer devises engine that moves at the speed of light – Moneycontrol.com

David Burns, a scientist working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has devised a special spacecraft that does not require propellants to reach for the stars.

Not just this, he also claims that the machine may be able to move almost at the speed of light.

The futuristic spacecraft can reportedly be propelled into space using in-space engines that do not need fuel either. Usually, rockets operate on Newtons third law of reaction to every action. They are blast into space using a propellant in one direction so that it can travel in the other. However, Burns fuel engine would not follow this basic principle of Physics.

The 'Helical Engine' was designed by the NASA engineer at the space stations Marshall Space Flight Center located in Alabama. The spacecraft is able to blast into space without using a propellant by leveraging the mass-altering phenomena that occur at near-light speed.

Since the helical engine is expected to travel at 99percent of the speed of light, it is possible that this craft would be able to make this attempt a success.

Burns has published a paper on NASAs technical reports server where he gives a detailed explanation about how this would work.

As he put it, the helical engine is basically a ring placed within a box that bounces in one direction while with the box recoils in the opposite direction. When the ring placed inside the box hits the end, it springs backwards, resulting in the boxs recoil direction changing as well.

Under usual circumstances, this would only make the box wiggle back and forth. However, since both the box and the ring would be travelling at the speed of light, by the time the ring would reach the front end of the box, its mass would increase since it would travel faster while bouncing back. This would result in forward momentum.

Therefore, though the helical engine would not need a propellant, a particle accelerator and ion particles do the job instead, meaning that the principal used to make it operational is the same.

The only hurdle in Burns' path right now is the size of the engine. To make the whole process possible, the engine must be 200 metres long and 12 metres wide. However, these dimensions would render it redundant for space travel.

Speaking to the New Scientist about the possibilities of this idea becoming a success, the NASA engineer said, I'm comfortable with throwing it out there. If someone says it doesnt work, Ill be the first to say it was worth a shot.

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Soviet cosmonaut, first person to walk in space dies at 85 – The Daily Herald

By Matt Schudel / The Washington Post

Alexei Leonov, a Soviet cosmonaut who in 1965 became the first person to walk in space and who was scheduled to walk on the moon before the Soviet Union abandoned its efforts for a manned lunar landing, died Oct. 11 in Moscow. He was 85.

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, announced his death but did not cite a cause.

Leonov, a Soviet air force officer, was chosen in 1959 as part of his countrys inaugural class of astronauts known as cosmonauts in the old Soviet Union. At the time, the Soviets were leading the space race, a symbolic and strategic battle for technological superiority during the Cold War.

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the earth. In April 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin a close friend of Leonovs became the first person launched into space.

As the U.S. space program tried to catch up, with flights by Alan Shepard Jr. and John Glenn, the Soviets sought new ways to maintain their early edge. Leonov began training for his spacewalk in 1963.

He underwent a rigorous program of swimming and running and was subjected to long periods of weightlessness. A special suit and helmet were made to withstand the extreme conditions in space.

As perilous as early space travel was, it seemed doubly dangerous for a human being to walk or, more precisely, to float outside the safety of the capsule. On March 18, 1965, Leonov took that step.

He left the capsule through a hatch, leaving a fellow cosmonaut, Pavel Belyayev, to pilot the ship. Leonov entered an airtight chamber called an air lock and inhaled pure oxygen for almost an hour to reduce the level of nitrogen in his blood, as a means of preventing decompression sickness, or the bends.

Finally, he opened the outer hatch and entered space, more than 100 miles above the earths surface, connected to his capsule by a 16-foot-long tether. A skilled amateur painter, Leonov found the vista indescribably beautiful.

I said to myself, Its true, the earth is round, he later said.

His spacewalk was captured by two film cameras that produced remarkably clear images, including some in color.

It was so quiet I could even hear my heart beat, Leonov told Londons Observer newspaper in 2015. I was surrounded by stars and was floating without much control. I will never forget the moment. I also felt an incredible sense of responsibility. Of course, I did not know that I was about to experience the most difficult moments of my life known as cosmonauts in the old Soviet Union. getting back into the capsule.

When he attempted to reenter the air lock leading to the space capsule, Leonov could not climb through the hatch. His spacesuit had expanded and become almost rigid.

Near the end of my walk, he told the New York Times magazine in 1994, I realized that my feet had pulled out of my shoes and my hands had pulled away from my gloves. My entire suit stretched so much that my hands and feet appeared to shrink.

He decided that his only option was to open a valve to release air from inside his spacesuit. It deflated enough to allow Leonov to enter the capsules air lock headfirst, but the change in pressure left him at risk of decompression sickness. His spacewalk lasted only 12 minutes, but his body temperature had risen so much that sweat was sloshing in the leggings of his spacesuit.

I didnt report this down to Earth, Leonov said in 1999. I knew the situation better than anyone else.

It would be decades before the dangers he encountered were fully known. Leonov also revealed, years later, that he had a suicide pill in his helmet, in case he could not return to the spacecraft.

Once he was back inside the capsule, it began to roll uncontrollably. Oxygen levels in the cabin became dangerously high, but eventually the cosmonauts were able to stabilize the craft for its return to Earth.

When the automated reentry system failed, Leonov and Belyayev flew their craft manually, tumbling wildly until its parachutes opened. They came to rest in a dense forest in the Ural Mountains, about 1,000 miles from their intended landing spot.

Surrounded by several feet of snow, the two cosmonauts stayed in the capsule as temperatures fell below zero. It took more than two days before they were rescued by helicopter.

His feat made Leonov a national hero, and he was expected to be the first person from his country to walk on the moon. Before the United States could do so, Soviet spaceships circled the moon and sent back samples of lunar soil.

But other test flights failed, and the booster rocket designed to propel the Soviets lunar mission exploded on the launchpad. The space race was won by the United States, culminating in the Apollo 11 mission, which touched down on July 20, 1969, accompanied by astronaut Neil Armstrongs memorable words as he stepped onto the moons Sea of Tranquility: Thats one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov was born May 30, 1934, in the Siberian village of Listvyanka. He was from a large family, and his father, a onetime coal miner and farmer, spent time in a Soviet gulag for dissent.

Young Alexei was transfixed by aviation from an early age and also studied art. He entered the Soviet air force in 1953 and trained as a fighter pilot and parachutist.

In January 1969, Leonov was in a motorcade entering the Kremlin when a man wearing a police uniform opened fire with two automatic handguns. Leonovs limousine was struck by more than a dozen shots, apparently intended for Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev, who was in a different car. Leonovs driver was killed.

I looked down and saw two bullet holes on each side of my coat where the bullets had passed through, Leonov said in 1994. A fifth bullet passed so close to my face I could feel it go by.

In 1975, Leonov returned to space as part of the first joint U.S.-Soviet space effort. His capsule docked with an Apollo spacecraft under the command of NASA astronaut Thomas Stafford. They shook hands through a connecting portal and became close friends.

In the eyes of all of humanity, Leonov said, we showed the best side of man.

Survivors include his wife, Svetlana, two daughters and several grandchildren.

Leonov became director of the Soviet cosmonaut corps and retired in 1992. He later worked in banking and exhibited his paintings worldwide, including at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Fluent in English and fond of jokes, he was a popular speaker at gatherings of space aficionados. Author Arthur C. Clarke named a spacecraft after Leonov in his 1982 novel, 2010, a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Leonov came to regret the secrecy and suspicion surrounding the Cold War competition in space.

If we could have gotten together earlier, he said in 1990, we would already have built an international observatory on the moon and we would be flying to Mars right now.

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Soviet cosmonaut, first person to walk in space dies at 85 - The Daily Herald

SAS Who Dares Wins Ant Middleton in advanced talks to travel into space but his wife isnt happy about it – The Irish Sun

ANT Middleton has revealed hes in "advanced talks" to travel into space but admits his wife isnt happy about it.

The Sun revealed the SAS Who Dares Wins star is planning to take celebrities to jet into space with Virgin Galactic for a TV project.


He's even discussed the plans with founder Richard Branson to help him become just the eighth Briton to leave Earth.

Speaking on Rachel Botsmon's Trust Issues podcast, Ant said: "The rumours are true but whether it will happen is still very much in the pipeline.

"My wife is not too happy about it, but were in quite advanced talks about going into space.

"And do you know what, when it first happened someone said Ant, youve sailed 4,000 miles in a wooden open boat, youve been to war zones, youve been fired at, you stood on the apex of the world, whats next?'



"And I just went, 'Ahh, fire me to the moon, fire me into the stratosphere.'

"Well the next thing I know, there's phone calls... Ant you know you spoke about

"Yeah, Well weve got in touch with so and so, and so and so, and were quite far down the line, and its like, well, why not. Lets do it."

Ant, 38, served in the Special Boat Service, the Royal Marines and 9 Parachute Squadron Royal.


Now after his two tours of Afghanistan, Ant is planning one into orbit.

Ant has been married to wife Emilie, 38, for 13 years.

Together they have daughters Shyla, 11, and Priseis, three, and sons Gabriel, nine, and Bligh, two. Ant also has 17-year-old son Oakley from a previous relationship.

He first became a TV star when he appeared on SAS: Who Dares Wins in 2015.

The show puts civilians through gruelling Special Forces training.

There has even been a celebrity version with Sam Thompson and Ben Foden.


SAS Who Dares Wins Ant Middleton in advanced talks to travel into space but his wife isnt happy about it - The Irish Sun

Movies in Brief – Albany Times Union

The following capsule reviews of recent releases, long runs and revivals come from various wire services, as noted:

RATINGS: G - Suitable for all ages. PG - Parental guidance recommended. PG-13 - Parental guidance strongly suggested. R - Restricted; anyone under 18 must be accompanied by adult. NC-17 - No children under 17.

Excellent Good Fair Poor


Animated. A teen and her two friends embark on an epic quest to reunite a Yeti with his family. There's a Yeti that belches a lot, evil scientists, plucky kids and animals that look as if they were conjured up by toy merchandising executives. Even the sidekicks seem to have sidekicks. For a film that often seems to be working off a checklist, it ends up being a memorable time at the movies. "Abominable" delivers all the notes you expect from family-friendly animation these days. And, thankfully, a little bit more. (PG for some action and mild rude humor) 1/2 (Peter Hartlaub, Hearst Newspapers)

Ad Astra

Drama. Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe. "Ad Astra" is a probing, searching movie by one of the medium's best American directors whose reach, like his protagonist's, exceeds his grasp. Still, director James Gray reaches, and his visually striking movie is mostly a success despite a dud of an ending. It's a fascinating movie that aspires to the level of not "2001: A Space Odyssey," as it has been compared by some, and more like Andrei Tarkovsky's great Soviet sci-fi head-scratcher "Solaris." (PG-13 for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language) (G. Allen Johnson, Hearst Newspapers)

The Addams Family

Animated. An animated version of Charles Addams' series of cartoons about a peculiar, ghoulish family, with the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg and Bette Midler. Through its various media incarnations, from a campy 1960s TV series to a couple of very good movies by Barry Sonnenfeld, "The Addams Family" is really adult humor. In the new animated "The Addams Family," it's dumbed-down for kids. Charles Addams should be rolling in his grave right now. (PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action) (G.A.J.)

Downton Abbey

Drama. The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century, based on the PBS series. "Downton Abbey," an enjoyable but uneven film adaptation of the beloved PBS series, seems designed to give fans what they want. Having allowed most characters hard-won happy endings when the show ended in 2016, series creator (now screenwriter) Julian Fellowes simply lets most of them continue to be happy for two hours. But the big-screen treatment also serves as a kind of white-glove test that the film sometimes fails. The actors appear to mug more often than they did on TV. But perhaps this is less a reflection of format than of Fellowes assigning them more broadly comic moments. (PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, and language) 1/2 (Carla Meyer, Hearst Newspapers)

Gemini Man

Action. in director Ang Lee's latest film, an over-the-hill hitman (Will Smith) faces off against a younger clone of himself (also Will Smith). Co-stars include Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen. Technologically, "Gemini Man" is borderline miraculous. We might think we're watching two Smiths, one regular and one de-aged. That's remarkable, but as with everything that's technologically remarkable, you can only say wow for five minutes. Then you get used to it, and you're back to watching a particular story with a particular actor. Mostly, the presence of two Smiths just gives us scenes of them shooting at or fighting each other, but you know that no one will get seriously hurt. (PG-13 for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language) 1/2 ( M.L.)


Drama. Inspired by the viral New York magazine article, this comedy-drama follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Cardi B, Lizzo, Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer. If Scorsese had been born female, he might have made a film like "Hustlers," a based-on-truth crime story unlike any other. Given that the film stars Jennifer Lopez in a powerhouse performance and comedy star Constance Wu, one might be forgiven for thinking that this will be a comedy, maybe a light-hearted heist film like "Oceans 11," or a titillating piece of trash like "Showgirls." But then writer-director Lorene Scafaria's film gets darker by the minute, becoming a tough-as-(acrylic)-nails noir, complete with morally challenged femme fatales. Although the film is filled with strong female characters, this isn't a triumph of female empowerment, nor is it really a feminist film. It is a film of anger and sadness at the stacked decks of our social and economic structures. But "Hustlers" belongs to Lopez, a Bronx-born force of nature who turned 50 this year. She dominates the film she co-produced with energy and emotion, and hopefully she has a shot at getting her first Oscar nomination. (R for pervasive sexual material, drug content, language and nudity) 1/2 (G.A.J.)

It: Chapter Two

Horror. Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back. Like the homicidal shape-shifting clown from the movie posters, "It Chapter Two" is more concerned with style than always making sense. The sequel feeds off the goodwill of the first movie, one of the most satisfying blockbusters of 2017. At nearly three hours, it's hard to tell whether this movie needs a 40-minute trim, or if the filmmakers should have added five more hours and put it on Netflix. The first "It" had a strong "Stand By Me" vibe, and would have worked even without the killer clown. "It Chapter Two" is a messier production, that barely seems coherent even with the first film as a primer. But even without the cohesive story and Spielberg-ian charms of the first film, the sequel still delivers ample shock and awe. (R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material) 1/2 (P.H.)


Comedy. A man's (Adam Devine) new cellphone turns into a technological nightmare when the AI program (voiced by Rose Byrne) tries to control him. It's a testament to the comedic chops of star Adam DeVine that "Jexi" isn't worse than it is. Whatever small bits of amusement arise from the laborious "smart phone gone haywire" comedy come from the "Workaholics" star working overtime mugging, shrieking, whatever it takes to wring laughs from a pretty thankless script. And "thankless" is about as good a summation as any for what a tough slog this one was to get through. If the movie was going to lean fully into the surreality of its own premise, that'd be one thing, but it wants to keep one foot grounded in some semblance of the "real" world, making for a frustrating mix. "Jexi" feels hopelessly out of step with the moment. Despite its subject matter, it's a flip phone movie in a smart phone world. (R for strong/crude sexual content and language throughout, some drug use and graphic nudity) (Zaki Hasan, Hearst Newspapers)


Drama. Failed comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) encounters violent thugs while wandering the streets of Gotham City dressed as a clown. Disregarded by society, he begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker. Also stars Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy and Zazie Beetz. "Joker" is hard to talk about. So right off the top, let's just state two easy and obvious things we can say about it: It's a very good movie, and it features a blood-curdling performance from Joaquin Phoenix, in the most frightening portrayal of a violent maniac in decades. "Joker" is not without dull spots, for the simple reason that, with a movie like this, it's hard to find a second act. You haven't seen the movie, but you know how it ends of course you do. And I already told you how it starts. The middle is just some space that needs to be filled in, which the movie does competently, sometimes eerily, but not so masterfully that there are no doldrums. Fortunately, there's always Phoenix, who never lets up always horrifying and always horribly human. (R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images) (M.L.)


Drama. Legendary performer Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts. A great movie was within reach with "Judy," but they made an epic mistake: They didn't use Garland's actual vocals. Instead, they let Zellweger pinch hit for Babe Ruth and ended up spoiling the movie. Otherwise, Zellweger is terrific. In all the offstage scenes, it's possible to believe you're looking at Judy Garland. But the second she opens her mouth to sing, the entire illusion is broken. And it gets broken over and over again. If this were merely a movie about Garland's private life, with perhaps a song and bits of songs scattered throughout, it might not matter at all. But "Judy" is a performance-heavy film. What makes this doubly maddening is that "Judy" is, otherwise, quite good. There's a lot here to admire and savor. There are a handful of lovely scenes and, throughout, there's a real feeling for Garland's way of speaking, her incisive sensitivity and the peculiar twist of her humor. (PG-13 for substance abuse, thematic content, some strong language, and smoking) 1/2 (M.L.)

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

Documentary. Ronstadt is our guide through her early years of singing Mexican canciones with her family, her folk days with the Stone Poneys and her reign as the "rock queen" of the '70s and early '80s. The irony of such a beautiful voice being stilled by Parkinson's disease floats over the entire 90 minutes of the new documentary, where none of the procession of associates and other commentators make the case for her greatness better than Ronstadt herself, captured in vintage clip after vintage clip, singing the hell out of everything she does. Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freidman lay out a dizzying cavalcade of incredible vocal performances, woven into a tapestry of her associates telling her story. (PG-13 for brief strong language and drug material) (Joel Selvin, Hearst Newspapers)

Lucy in the Sky

Drama. Astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) returns to Earth after a transcendent experience during a mission to space, and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too small. The movie's one big idea that seeing Earth from the heavenly reaches can provoke a crisis is an interesting one. But though the screenplay flogs the idea, with various characters discussing the phenomenon and referencing it, the movie never exactly develops it. It remains an airy poetic conceit, one that ultimately feels a bit lofty for the ultimately tawdry and farcical trajectory of the story. If it really is true, for example, that space travel is metaphysically discombobulating, why aren't other astronauts discombobulated? Not only does "Lucy in the Sky" not address that question, but it doesn't really explain why Lucy herself starts to come apart at the seams. Or, if it does try explaining it, nothing in the screenplay or the direction makes us believe it. (R for language and some sexual content) 1/2 (M.L.)


Drama. On a faraway mountaintop in South America, eight kids with guns watch over an American hostage and a conscripted milk cow. Director and co-writer Alejandro Landes says that he wanted to make a film about war, the kinds of guerrilla, shadow wars that play out for decades on end. His film is philosophically, and physically, occupied with violence and conflict, but on an intimate, human scale. Moiss Arias and Julianne Nicholson, two American actors making their Spanish language debuts, give transformed, deeply instinctual performances as two opposing forces. (R for violence, language, some sexual content and drug use) (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)

Official Secrets

Drama. True story of a British whistleblower (Keira Knightley) who leaked information about an illegal spy operation designed to push the U.N. Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 Iraq invasion. Knightley, with that combination of fragility and intensity that has become her signature, plays it as a kind of journey toward moral clarity. Director Gavin Hood, who also co-wrote the screenplay, is a specialist in the strain that international politics places on individual morality. (R for language) (M.L.)

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Movies in Brief - Albany Times Union

Spacesuits of the Future, Today: ILC Dover Continues its Leadership in This Market – Yahoo Finance

ILC Dover, the company that outfitted the Apollo astronauts, brings their leadership in space attire to the commercial market.

FREDERICA, Del., Oct. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- ILC Dover, the company that outfitted the Apollo astronauts and all subsequent NASA manned missions including current flights to the International Space Station has launched a line of spacesuits for the nascent commercial space industry.

"Fifty years after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon wearing one of our spacesuits commercial space travel is poised to open the universe to a generation of astronauts," said Patty Stoll, director of space systems. "ILC Dover's Astrospace division has the proven spacesuit technology to protect future explorers who will venture beyond the bounds of Earth."

The two new spacesuits are for Extravehicular Activity (EVA) and Launch Entry and Abort (LEA). Named Astro EVA and Sol LEA, the spacesuits are ready for customers to order now. "ILC Dover Astrospace is not waiting for the future of space flight to come to us. We look ahead to 2020 as if it were 2030."

Astro EVA spacesuit made its debut to lawmakers on Capitol Hill during a United Technologies event on July 25. The event showcased the innovation brought to life in collaboration with Collins Aerospace.

"We can't afford not to advance space travel"

Stoll believes continued space exploration is imperative, and that ILC Dover and other commercial companies will play an increasingly important role. "From our very beginning, humans have wondered what's beyond the horizon and traveled in search of resources. We are a growing population living on a finite planet in an infinite universe. We have so much yet to learn about our place in the universe and how to survive into the future.

"For the sake of future generations, we can't afford not to advance space travel," she said. "It's exciting to think about the possibilities with NASA, private industry and entrepreneurs all working toward that future."

Increasing Access to Space

Commercial space ventures are already speeding up innovation and reducing costs, promising to increase access to space. "Just look at SpaceX's reusable boosters and Virgin Galactic's air launches," said Fran DiNuzzo, CEO of ILC Dover. "Patty and her ILC Dover space systems team are leading the same kind of innovation in spacesuit technology, building upon ILC Dover's decades of experience with NASA."

ILC Dover's commercial suits bring a new level of comfort, ease of use and functionality. To meet the needs of commercial customers, the suits are simple to maintain and stow and make efficient use of existing hardware and technology.

Decades ago, ILC Dover custom-tailored each spacesuit for individual Apollo astronauts. The new line of commercial suits has a modular design that brings off-the-rack simplicity to some of the most technologically complex "outfits" ever designed. It makes the suits easily adaptable to different size wearers, reducing costs for future spacesuit customers.

And Keeping Space Travelers Safe and Comfortable

Commercial space flight promises to make space for accessible, but no less challenging for humans who leave the comforting embrace of Earth's atmosphere. Launch and re-entry are the most dangerous segments of any flight, and when it comes "time to leave the capsule" to walk in space or on an alien world there is no margin for error.

ILC Dover's spacesuit designs are proven by more than 250 space flights, six moon landings and over 3,000 hours of spacewalks. "As far we know, that's a safety record unmatched by any other company in the universe," quipped Stoll.

"A garment failure on Earth can be an embarrassing 'wardrobe malfunction;' in space it would be disastrous," said Stoll.

What to Wear Aboard

LEA(Launch, Entry and Abort) suits protect wearers in case of an emergency during launch and when entering Earth's or another planet's atmosphere. "Our Sol LEA model is engineered for ease of cabin entry and exit, quick hook-up to cabin connections and maximum maneuverability to operate vehicle controls," said Stoll. "Sol comforts the wearer during the forces of launch and reentry, protects in case of cabin depressurization or fire and helps ensure safety and ease of rescue in the event of a launch abort or water landing."

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What to Wear When Stepping Out (into space)

An EVA (Extravehicular Activity) suit, by comparison, is its own miniature spaceship. "It has to function as a little Earth, providing oxygen, comfortable temperature and protection from radiation and space dust and debris everything our atmosphere does to make life on planet possible," said Stoll. "Plus, it has to provide mobility, especially for walking on extraterrestrial surfaces."

The Astro model incorporates such innovations as step-in rear entry to simplify the process of getting dressed to go outside. "You don't travel millions of miles to stay indoors," said Stoll.

"Building for What is Ahead, Not What is Now"

ILC Dover Astrospace also builds inflatable space habitats for orbital and extraterrestrial use, along with decelerators already used to land NASA craft on Mars and demonstrated to work with larger payloads. "Some may say my ILC Dover Astrospace team is living in the future," said Stoll. "And that's the point. Preparing for the Apollo moon landings taught us that space exploration is about building for what is ahead, not what is now."

About ILC Dover

Recognized globally for our flexible containment solutions, ILC Dover serves customers in a diverse range of industries, including pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical manufacturing, personal care, food and beverage, chemical, aerospace, healthcare and government agencies. At ILC Dover, quality is a culture, not a measurement. Our customers will tell you that we cater to their every need and that we're highly innovative, responsive, dedicated and competitive. We have been innovating since 1947. ILC Dover's visionary solutions improve efficiency, safeguard workers and product, and prevent disasters proof that we are on the front line of business excellence.

Engineering evolution Beyond Boundaries.

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Spacesuits of the Future, Today: ILC Dover Continues its Leadership in This Market - Yahoo Finance

Black hole news: Standing on edge of black hole would cause 700 years to pass in 1 minute – Express.co.uk

Space and time are intertwined, called space-time, and gravity has the ability to stretch space-time. Objects with a large mass will be able to stretch space-time to the point where our perception of it changes, known as time dilation. The more mass an object has, the more it stretches and slows down time so something as large as Sagittarius A* the gigantic black hole at the centre of the galaxy would almost be able to stretch time to a point where it almost comes to a complete standstill.

Sagittarius A* has a radius of 22 million kilometres and a mass of more than four million times that of the Sun.

In other words, it is very dense.

And because it is so heavy, it has the ability to completely stretch out space-time to a point where one minute on the edge of Sagittarius A* will see 700 years pass on Earth.

Emma Osborne, an astrophysicist at the University of Southampton, told an audience at New Scientist Live: Anything mass will stretch space-time. And the heavier something is, or the more mass it has, the more it will stretch space-time.

If you were to stand just outside the event horizon of Sagittarius A*, and you stood there for one minute, 700 years would pass because time passes so much slower in the gravitational field there than it does on Earth.

Some have suggested that black holes could be used for time travel.

A piece written for the University of Sussex by astrophysicist John Gribbin, co-authored with his wife Mary Gribbin said the possibility of time travel involves those most extreme objects, black holes.

And since Einsteins theory is a theory of space and time, it should be no surprise that black holes offer, in principle, a way to travel through space, as well as through time.

READ MORE:Time is travelling FASTER for taller people and this is how

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Black hole news: Standing on edge of black hole would cause 700 years to pass in 1 minute - Express.co.uk

11 of the biggest innovations shaping the future of spaceflight today – Business Insider

Most who grew up during the days of the space race were promised a future with moon colonies, orbital space stations, and routine travel to the stars. But that future has always been elusive, since it has long depended upon shifting Congressional priorities and timid funding currently, NASA's budget is about $21 billion, or 0.49% of the federal budget.

In recent years, however, private industry has started to take the lead in humankind's march into space.

Unfortunately, some innovative companies have recently crashed back to earth. Two different startups hoping to become pioneers in the asteroid mining industry Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries recently pivoted away from their ambitious space mining plans.

But for every failure, there are a handful of innovators still moving forward, from SpaceX, which recently unveiled its latest prototype of Starship, a rocket system design to populate Mars, to Axiom and its plans to deploy a commercial space station.

Here are the 11 most exciting innovations shaping the future of spaceflight today.

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11 of the biggest innovations shaping the future of spaceflight today - Business Insider

NASA Satellite to Travel to Mysterious Zone Where Earth Meets Space – The Wire

NASA launched a satellite Thursday to explore the ionosphere, a mysterious part ofEarths atmosphereon the edge of space.

The satellite shot into orbit from a plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the US state of Florida.

The satellite called Icon, or Ionospheric Connection Explorer, will transmit data intended to help scientists understand the physical processes at work where Earths atmosphere interacts with near-Earth space, NASA said.

Research by scientists at NASA has identified this region of near space as being in constant flux from solar storms above and weather below.

According to NASA, the ionosphere is a fluctuating layer of electrons and charged atoms and molecules ranging from 48 kilometers (30 miles) above the Earths surface to 965 kilometers (600 miles) above the ground at the edge of space.

This dynamic region grows and shrinks based on solar conditions.

Better communications and space missions

NASA said the Icon the satellite will transmit data intended to help scientists understand the physical processes at work where Earths atmosphere interacts with near-Earth space.

This protected layer, its the top of our atmosphere. Its our frontier with space, Nicola Fox, NASAs heliophysics division director, told the Associated Press, adding that the ionosphere is influenced by energy from extreme weather like hurricanes, along with solar storms.

Also Read:NASA Releases High-Resolution Images of Chandrayaan 2 Landing Site

According to NASA, electron particles in the ionosphere normally reflect radio waves back towards the ground, which enables long-distance radio communication. However, fluctuation in the electron levels can possibly cause radio communications to fail, reduce the accuracy of GPS systems, damage satellites and harm electrical grids.

The satellite can more directly analyze how solar storms affect Earth, which has implications for astronauts, radio communication, and GPS navigation systems.

NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said in a tweet that the mission will provide key support for astronauts on future missions, including potentially returning to the moon.

This article was originally published in DW. You can read it here.

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William Shatner beams in with hit TV show at 88 – Japan Today

As Captain Kirk in the original "Star Trek" William Shatner went "where no man has gone before".

And now he is doing it again with a new hit U.S. television series, "The UnXplained", at the age of 88.

Shatner beamed into Cannes in southern France on Tuesday to beat the drum for the series -- which tries to explain some of the mysteries of the world around us -- at MIPCOM, the world's biggest entertainment market.

"A friend of mine once received a call from someone who had passed away," he said. Finding answers to such strange phenomena "was what this show is all about", he told reporters.

While it also tackles questions like why the universe is expanding, Shatner has little appetite for space travel these days with climate change threatening the Earth.

"I see all those ideas of colonizing the moon and Mars as fantasies to avoid thinking about the reality of (rising seas) and of being underwater in 50 years," he told reporters.

The Canadian-born veteran presents the new show on the History Channel, which will get a second series early next year.

He said reaction to the series, a mix of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" and a more straight science show, has been "fantastic".

Shatner has been fitting in filming around the U.S. and and European tours of his "Beam Me Up!" show where he takes questions from Trekkies after a screening of his 1982 movie, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

A keen cyclist, he uses an electric bike to keep up with his family and said the key to a long life was to "keep taking on projects", such as his new memoir "Live Long and... What I Learned Along the Way".

The actor also released two albums last year, a country record and his Christmas album "Shatner Claus" which also featured Iggy Pop, Utopia star Todd Rundgren, singer-songwriter Judy Collins and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons.

Not bad for a man who admits he can't actually sing.

Shatner said his recipe for longevity was "all the cliches... good genes, eat well, don't drink, don't smoke and go biking."

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10 Of The Best Space Travel Movies Of All Time, Ranked – Screen Rant

There is a corner of the Science Fiction genre devoted to the actual event that dazzles plenty of us - traversing the cosmos! From the very first Sci-Fi film, the epic 18 minute, A Trip To The Moon all the way to last years First Man; heading to the stars opens us up to all of the other wild adventures that have happened on screen, like Star Trek and Total Recall.

Related:10 Mind-Boggling Sci-Fi Movies To Watch If You Like The Matrix

With the exception of a few films on this list, most of these movies are still fiction. But theyre based in science fact. With help from scientists like Kip Thorne and Carl Sagan, these movies also do their best to maintain the integrity of the real science that might be involved to what the movies need them to do. Here are 10 Of The Best Space Travel Movies Of All Time, Ranked.

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For most sci-fi fans, Stanley Kubricks 2001 is the pinnacle of everything a science fiction movie should be. Co-written by one of the Big Three of Science Fiction, Arthur C. Clarke and based off of his short story, The Sentinel, there was literally nothing like it in cinema ever in 1968.

No matter what you think of the films actual plot about an ominous monolith affecting human evolution, the visual beauty of the film and many of the scenes and tropes it introduced still hold up over fifty years after its release and influence many films.

One of those many films and filmmakers inspired by 2001 and Kubrick is Interstellar, directed by unabashed Kubrick devotee, Christopher Nolan. The film takes place in a not too far off future where most of our worlds food resources are depleted, real history about space is replaced to keep people from looking up and NASA is hiding.

Related:10 Worst Cancelled Sci-Fi Show Cliffhangers

Until former pilot, Cooper and his daughter stumble upon them. Coops presented with the most arduous of missions - find a suitable replacement to bring all of mankind to its new home.

What if there was a whole team working to find and bring Tom Hanks home in Castaway? The Martian features Matt Damon as an astronaut, Mark Watney stranded on Mars.

After calculating that he has four years he has to survive until the next crew will touch down, Mark goes to work, growing his own potato farm. Once he gets a Pathfinder going is when NASA realizes that hes still alive and the journey to bring him home begins.

Weve all seen that big hero shot - all of the films stars walking in slow motion getting ready to do the task at hand. That shot was originated in the astronaut movie, The Right Stuff.

The movie tells the real-life story of the military pilots, including John Glenn, who helped test and refine the space program that would lead to Project Mercury, the first US manned mission into space.

Ed Harris did such a good job at playing and astronaut in The Right Stuff, that Ron Howard had tapped him to play flight director Gene Kranz in Apollo 13.

The film features Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and the incomparable Tom Hanks as the three astronauts who were set to orbit the moon. Until an explosion happens on the shuttle, turning the mission into getting back to Earth safely.

Being lost in the vastness of space sounds absolutely terrifying. Combine that with your shuttle being broken. Veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski and Dr. Ryan Stone are aboard the Explorer tasked with repairing the Hubble Telescope.

That mission goes haywire when debris smashes the Explorer forcing Matt and Ryan to find a way to a nearby station and find a way home. But they have to work fast, the debris field is orbiting them.

Based on Carl Sagans novel, Contact is about a different type of space exploration. Instead of physically traversing the cosmos, its up to Ellie Arroway and her team to research radio emissions and waves from space looking for signs of intelligent life.

Related:10 Great TV Shows That Re-Write Time & Reality

As she is about to be shut down, a sequence appears from the Vega system, light years away. Its one of the best movies that feature the research that actually goes into helping the astronauts.

After the success of Apollo 13, director Ron Howard teamed up with Tom Hanks for the HBO miniseries, From The Earth To The Moon. The ambitious series took a look at the lives of the men and women from the early Apollo missions.

The show was memorable for its use of archive footage of prior missions and news reports, mixed in with dramatic scenes as well to give the show a documentary type of feel while still being a high-stakes drama.

Thats one small step for man, one giant leap for all mankind might be the most famous quote of the 20th century. Neil Armstrongs life has been whittled down to that one epic moment (and can you blame history for doing so?!).

Related:10 Classic Science Fiction Novels That Need A Film Adaptation

But the personal triumphs and tragedies that led Armstrong to that one moment and Kennedys We Go To The Moon speech; the death of his daughter, is something that no one should ever have to endure.

While there is absolutely zero scientific research involved in the events of Galaxy Quest. But not every movie about space travel has to be scientifically accurate or filled with soon doom and gloom. Its also not every day that a parody of Star Trek is so well received that fans of that franchise actually rank it when theyre discussing their favorite Trek movies.

While the cast of the TV series Galaxy Quest, series star Jason Nesbit is approached by several members of the Thermian race contact him to get his crew together and help them stop an evil threat. They really think that Nesbit is his character, Commander Taggart and the rest of the actors are their characters. Its up to them to now stop pretending their astronauts and save the galaxy for real.

Next:10 Science Fiction Projects Currently In Development (And 10 Rumored)

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10 Of The Best Space Travel Movies Of All Time, Ranked - Screen Rant

Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX’s New Starship, Designed To Fly To The Moon, Mars And Beyond – NPR

A prototype of SpaceX's Starship stands at the company's Texas launch facility on Saturday. The Starship spacecraft is a massive vehicle designed to eventually be able to take people to the moon, Mars and beyond. Loren Elliott/Getty Images hide caption

A prototype of SpaceX's Starship stands at the company's Texas launch facility on Saturday. The Starship spacecraft is a massive vehicle designed to eventually be able to take people to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Speaking into gusts of wind at the SpaceX launch facility in Cameron County, Texas, on Saturday night, CEO Elon Musk talked up the space travel giant's newest innovation, the SpaceX vehicle Starship.

Musk spoke in front of a 50-meter, 200-ton Starship prototype, calling it "the most inspiring thing that I've ever seen."

He described unique design features of the vehicle and outlined plans to fast-track production of a Starship fleet. His hope, Musk said, is "to reach orbit in less than six months."

Since its founding in 2002, SpaceX has been working toward the goal of making space travel cheaper and accessible to would-be space travelers.

The Starship is the company's next foray: a large vehicle that could theoretically carry people into space, land safely back on Earth and be fit to turn around and fly again. Being able to return to space multiple times with "a rapidly reusable orbital rocket," Musk explained, is key to the company's plans.

"The critical breakthrough that's needed for us to become a space-faring civilization is to make space travel like air travel. With air travel, when you fly a plane, you fly it many times," he said.

Musk noted that Sept. 28 is the 11th anniversary of the commercial space travel giant's first big victory, when it reached orbit for the first time with one of its rockets, the Falcon 1. The company hit another milestone in March 2017 when it successfully relaunched its Falcon 9 rocket, after that small rocket had previously launched and relanded in 2016.

The goal now, Musk said, is to get the larger Starship, a vehicle that could carry people, to achieve the same feat.

"This thing is going to take off, fly to about 65,000 feet that's about 20 kilometers and come back and land. In about one to two months," he said. "It is really gonna be pretty epic to see that thing take off and come back."

Musk said the company is aggressively working to build the next iterations of the Starship prototype over the next five to six months.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gives an update on the next-generation Starship spacecraft at the company's Texas launch facility on Saturday. Loren Elliott/Getty Images hide caption

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gives an update on the next-generation Starship spacecraft at the company's Texas launch facility on Saturday.

"The rate at which we will be building ships is going to be quite, quite crazy by space standards," he said.

To do this, he said, the company is ramping up production of the rocket's engines to reach a production target of building one new engine a day by early next year. If all goes to plan, he said, "we could potentially see people flying next year."

Musk made a point of thanking one of his investors, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who announced last year that he'd booked a trip as a private passenger with SpaceX for a voyage to the moon.

The reaction from NASA to Saturday's announcement was to bring attention to another less dramatic goal of SpaceX. The company has a partnership with NASA on the Commercial Crew Program, an enterprise intended to develop safe and affordable transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted Friday, in advance of the Starship announcement, that he'd like to see "the same level of enthusiasm focused on the investments of the American taxpayer," noting that the Commercial Crew Program is years behind schedule.

Musk's Saturday speech was indeed filled with enthusiasm about space travel. He alluded to his ultimate goal of creating "a self-sustaining city on Mars." He said that while many problems on Earth need solving, "we also need things that make us excited to be alive and fired up about the future."

"Becoming a space-faring civilization, being out there among the stars, is one of the things that makes me glad to be alive," Musk said.

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Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX's New Starship, Designed To Fly To The Moon, Mars And Beyond - NPR

What If We Really Are Alone in the Universe? – Jacobin magazine

This article contains spoilers.

Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the universe or we are not, according to Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both are equally terrifying.

Much science fiction of the last century has assumed the first of Clarkes terrifying possibilities, that we are not alone that the cosmos is teeming not just with life, but with intelligent life. The primary questions this literature asked, in hundreds of different ways, were those such as: What would extraterrestrial intelligence be like? How would we recognize it? What would be its response to us? What would be our response to it?

Ostensibly about little green men, these were nevertheless profound questions answered in the pages of cheap paperbacks or by screen actors suited up in wobbly rubber masks. The questions were as serious as any asked by the authors of more respectable literary fiction. They reflected some of the deepest uncertainties that have troubled humanity since our first days on the African savannah, staring up at the great river of stars of the Milky Way: Why are we here? Where do we come from? And, above all: What is it to be a human? For us to ask what an alien soul would be like requires at least an assumption of what a human soul is like.

And yet for all our neuroscience, biochemistry, and philosophy, we still dont have good answers: terms such as intelligence, mind, and sentience stubbornly resist rigorous definition; the hard problem of consciousness how this state of self-awareness arises from (we assume) non-conscious chemicals remains as much of a hard problem as ever.

But the second of Clarkes two terrifying possibilities has, with a handful of exceptions, until recently remained unexplored within popular culture, particularly within cinema.

This is understandable. Writing in 1951 at the dawn of the Space Age in his book of popular astronautics, The Exploration of Space, Clarke said that we stood then at a pivot between two eras brought about by the advent of the rocket. This was the point at which the childhood of our race was over and history as we know it began Earths solar system being relatively young compared to the age of the galaxy (and certainly the universe), and industrial modernity a mere three hundred or so years old.

If an alien civilization had its version of an industrial revolution just a million years before ours or even just a thousand years and the universe appeared to have given billions of years worth of head starts to the presumed myriad of other planets with intelligent life they would be unfathomably advanced in comparison to us. Per Clarke and so many others, our childhoods end was the moment we would take our place among the adults of the cosmos.

It was an era of optimism, even presumption, about humanitys place among the stars. Of course we would have lunar colonies by the end of the twentieth century and Martian outposts somewhere around now. What made this optimism nevertheless terrifying was the unknown of what the adults of the cosmos would be like. Would they be peaceful? Would they be so advanced that they would treat us as we treat a fruit fly or a rat, or a lab mouse, or even Laika the space dog? Would they treat us as food, the way we treat cows and pigs? Would they carry with them genocidal new diseases the way Europeans did to the Americas? Would they be the disease? Would they demolish the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass?

James Grays Ad Astra is one of the first films to explicitly consider the terror of Clarkes second possibility. What if there are no aliens? What if, in the end, its just us?

It is the near future, a time of hope and conflict, as the opening title card tells us. Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is in his space suit at work atop the International Space Antenna in low-Earth orbit when a mysterious surge from deep space nearly destroys the structure and knocks Roy off. Roys Felix Baumgartnerstyle opening free fall sequence, beating all HALO jumps of recent cinema for its success in inflicting vertigo, seems to be the point: we start and end with sequences in which the ground has been knocked out from beneath characters.

Earth and its outposts on the moon and Mars have been badly hit by what is termed the surge. Roy, the son of hero-astronaut Clifford McBride the first human to travel to Jupiter, the first to travel to Saturn is told by US Space Command that the source of the surge is the Lima Project in orbit around Neptune.

The Lima Project had been established under the direction of Clifford to extend the up-till-then fruitless search for intelligent life to the farthest reaches of the solar system. Sixteen years earlier, all communication with the project had ceased, and Clifford and his crew were presumed dead. Long since having come to terms with the grief of losing his father, Roy is now informed by USSPACECOM that they believe Clifford is alive and possibly responsible for the surge. We then follow Roy through the solar system, visiting the moon, Mars, a ship in distress, and eventually Neptune, on his mission to reestablish contact with his father.

Roy is dispassionate, level-headed, almost emotionless. Regardless of what threat arises, his heart rate never moves beyond 80 BPM. He passes without incident all but one of the automated psychological evaluations he must regularly take. He has been picked precisely for this, well, inhuman reserve. Confronted with the claustrophobic agoraphobia of a tin can in an infinite vacuum and the thousand other extreme dangers of space travel, Roys heart is unmoved. A perfect astronaut.

The common reading of the film has been that all this is really about a sons attempt to reach out to a distant father, of the inability of us all to understand the other. What greater distance can a son and an absent father travel than that between Earth and Neptune? Only connect! as E. M. Forster insisted.

It is not so much that this is wrong, but that it is too abstract.

It is true that when Roy finally reaches his father, Clifford blankly tells him that he was content to leave his son and wife because the search for intelligent life was so much more fulfilling, so much more important. But Cliffords soliloquy also tells us why communication with Earth was disrupted, what happened to his crew, and why he has in effect gone mad.

We see flashes of Europa, Enceladus, Titan, Ganymede all the sites that in the real world today we reckon are the best hope for discovery of life in the solar system as Clifford recounts how no matter where they looked, they found no life. After years of searching, his crew wanted to concede that there was no life out there and to return home. Clifford insisted that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and killed his crew when they mutinied, wanting the search to continue.

In a universe where we are the only intelligent life there is, that there has ever been, and the Earth the only place where any life has been, intelligent or otherwise, Forsters command to only connect becomes ever more imperative. If its only us, it makes us even more important, so much more precious than we imagined. It casts us humans not merely as one sentient species among billions, but as the sole way in which the universe became aware of itself. It is the story of the universe becoming conscious through us.

Without such consciousness, there is no point, no purpose to the universe. Nothing matters. There is no ought in physics, only an is. There is no ought in biology either, no progressive direction to evolution (what is termed orthogenesis). Even if life on earth were to continue, but continue without us, still nothing would matter, as it is true that while individual organisms struggle to continue to be, life does not care whether it exists (life on Earth, at least twice before, came close to wiping itself out). An Earth without humans but still with other life would only matter insofar as there would at least remain a chance for intelligent life to reemerge. Only intelligent life can create purpose.

There is a sequence midway through Ad Astra where Roy comes across a ship in distress, the exploration of which reveals that its crew have all been killed by raging baboons, the escaped subjects of a scientific experiment. It is something of a horror-filled series of scenes, appearing at first to be from a different, less meditative film than Ad Astra, perhaps an Event Horizon or even Alien.

Though appearing out of place, the baboon sequence could be read as an allegory for how the inhospitable environment of space will inevitably make us crazy. But a still deeper reading asks, could it not instead be a rhyme for the sheer terror of realizing that we inhabit a lonely cosmos where humans are the only intelligent life? Is such a realization any less vertigo-inducing, any less deranging?

If the film is understood this way, then the sequence where Virgin Galactic takes our hero to the moon (charging $125 for a blanket and pillow) has a more expansive meaning than at first glance. As does the brief sequence on the moon in which we see a base not filled with the scientific equipment of a 70s-era Doctor Who, Lost in Space, or Star Trek, but instead dominated by the likes of Applebees, Subway, DHL, and tourist-trap cringe. If the film were primarily a critique of the banality of a capitalism now spread throughout the solar system, much more time would have been spent by the filmmaker in this space. But these scenes are very brief.

Grays critique is indeed one that laments what capitalism is doing, as we know from his comments to the press. If we were having this conversation in 1960, we could talk about the counterweight of the communist or socialist dictatorship bloc. But today theres not really a counterweight to market capitalism, he told CNET. Its an unstoppable force. In the developed nations, the gap between the richest and the poorest is growing ever larger. And why would we project that space would be any different?

But the films concern with capitalism appears to plunge deeper. If capitalism, unconscious force that it is, would extinguish human existence so long as the commodities that threatened such extinction (such as, for example, fossil fuels) continued to be profitable in the absence of some non-market intervention, then it is not merely the human race that is threatened, but a conscious universe itself. Capitalism would turn a lonely cosmos into a soulless cosmos.

Ad Astra may be among the first films to explicitly place Clarkes lonely cosmos possibility at its heart, but a raft of hard sci-fi films in the last few years, auteur-driven works set in space such as Duncan Joness Moon, Alfonso Cuarns Gravity, Christopher Nolans Interstellar, Ridley Scotts The Martian, and Damien Chazelles First Man, have also begun to consider the same question but posed in a different way: If the rest of space is as incorrigibly inhospitable as it increasingly appears to be, does it make sense to even travel to other worlds? This is just another way of saying that there may as well be no other aliens.

Duncan Joness Moon (2009) strips the moon of all the romance and adventure of NASAs lunar landings. It is a desolate, companionless, (literally) repetitive, deadly, uninviting place. The moon is above all boring. For the solitary lunar miner clone Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), space has never been about the extension of human freedom beyond the trap of our planets gravity well. Instead, freedom comes via escape to Earth.

Few films have so realistically described so many different threatening ways that the vacuum of space can kill us the different ways that our technological efforts to contain those threats can still kill us as Cuarns Gravity (2015). Unlike many films where the tension at least partially dissipates, the danger is unceasing until our hero, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), splashes down on Earth and crawls ashore. She is finally safe to breathe without fear of her oxygen ever running out thanks to the marvel of the Earths current ecosystem. As we, the audience, feel at this point as though we can finally take a breath as well, Cuarn is telling us through our own physiology that the Earth is the only home we will ever have. In this way, Gravity is one of the most pessimistic of the recent crop of high-realist space dramas about the possibilities of the extension of human civilization beyond the Earth.

The heroes of Interstellar survey three exoplanets that are candidates for a human exodus from a dying earth, but they turn out to be an inhospitable ocean planet, a desolate ice planet, and a barely survivable desert planet. When all appears lost, the hint of some unfathomably advanced alien race saves humanity, but via a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey resolution drawing on the work of Nobel Prizewinning theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, we find that the aliens are actually us. While the film does not explicitly investigate the meaning of a lonely cosmos, this appears to be a background assumption.

This shift from the cosmic optimism of a Star Trek or a Doctor Who, and certainly of the days of the Space Race, about humanitys place among the stars, to a much more guarded stance or even pessimism should be no surprise. This new cosmic realism comes at a vertiginous moment for humanitys understanding of our relationship to the planet and to the rest of the cosmos.

As far back as the sixteenth century, Italian philosopher and Dominican friar Giordano Bruno argued that the stars above us were in fact stars surrounded by their own system of planets and they too could be presumed to be inhabited (for why would God go to all the bother to create a world, only to leave it empty?) a theological position known as cosmic pluralism. This extension of the Copernican heliocentric model of the solar system that toppled humanitys place at the center of the universe was of course a heresy.

The science-fiction worlds of television and film often operated according to the same presumption, albeit stripped of its theism, and enjoyed similar gravity to Earth, similar atmospheric pressure and chemistry. This is probably less a willful disinterest in planetary science than the product of it being much cheaper and more convenient to use an abandoned gravel pit as a set than to represent the much more fantastical reality of other worlds. Science-fiction novels, of course, have no such budget restrictions, and thus have always had greater imaginations.

Nevertheless, all this had been speculation until relatively recently. We didnt even know for sure if there were any planets beyond our own solar system before the first confirmed detection of an exoplanet in 1992. As of the time of writing, however, there have been some four thousand exoplanets that have been confirmed.

At first, this seems to buttress historys sequence of Copernican realizations including the recognition that our sun is just one of billions of stars in the Milky Way, the discovery of other galaxies, the development of the theory of evolution by natural selection that have repeatedly toppled humanity from the pedestal we thought we occupied, requiring us to be ever more humble. Once again, having found that stars with planets surrounding them are common, we must be ready to admit we are nothing special. As Stephen Hawking put it: We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.

The question of how uncommon Earth is, and even how uncommon life is, may be resolved as soon as the next decade, when the next generation of telescopes comes online. The composition of the atmospheres of large exoplanets are already being examined via light from stars as it passes through those atmospheres. When a planet crosses, or transits, the path of light from its parent star, such starlight gets filtered through the atmosphere, allowing us to analyze the emission and absorption spectra of its gases, including biosignature gases those that are produced by life such as molecular oxygen and accumulate to levels that can be detected. Right now, we can only do this for Jupiter-size planets, but with larger observatories such as the James Webb Space Telescope expected to launch in 2021, we should be able to perform such investigations for smaller, rocky worlds in the habitable zone that come closer to Earth analogues (although likely still too big to be true analogues).

This is why MIT planetary scientist Sara Seager believes characterization of exoplanet atmospheres is such a profound endeavor: When and if we find that other Earths are common and see that some of them have signs of life, we will at last complete the Copernican Revolution a final conceptual move of the Earth, and humanity, away from the center of the Universe.

At the other end of the cosmic spectrum, from the vast down to the microscopic, biology appears to give us tremendous hope that Seager is right. Extremophile bacteria and other microbes that flourish under conditions of extreme heat, cold, dryness, acidity, alkalinity, salinity, radioactivity, pressure, and the presence of heavy metals are closely studied by astrobiologists, as their habitats may be similar to the conditions on other worlds. Everywhere we look on Earth, we find life. In the last decade or so, researchers have begun to plunge into the deep biosphere life far below the surface, drilling some 2.5 kilometers into the seafloor and some five kilometers down continental mines and boreholes. This subterranean Galpogos is home to an estimated 70 percent of the worlds bacteria and archaea, a realm where the records describing what were thought to be the absolute limits of life on Earth keep getting broken.

Nevertheless, there are researchers who reckon that perhaps this time there has been an excess of Copernican humility.

The announcement in September of the identification of the first habitable-zone planet we know to contain water outside the solar system prompted a flurry of breathless articles reporting the discovery of a supposedly habitable exoplanet and only 110 light-years away, basically next door by astronomical standards (even if it would take a probe like Voyager some 2 million years to get there). But K2-18b is estimated to be almost three times the size of Earth and have almost nine times the mass. It was almost classified as a mini Neptune rather than a super Earth, and perhaps it should have been in order to avoid media hyperbole.

The size suggests it has an extremely thick atmosphere, much of which is hydrogen gas. At its rocky core (if it has one), the pressure from that vast atmosphere would be thousands of times greater than at Earths surface, with temperatures hitting 2700C (5000F). Under these conditions, as Harvard exoplanet atmospheric specialist Laura Kreidberg has been at pains to stress, complex molecules necessary for life cannot form. Out of all the four thousand, while this is the best candidate for habitability that we know right now, according to the researchers, its still not habitable, and certainly no analogue Earth.

The infamous Fermi paradox formulated by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi asks: If there are billions of suns like ours in the galaxy, many of which are billions of years older than our solar system, and Earth is so unexceptional, then at least some of these ancient worlds must have achieved advanced technology eons before us so then where is everybody? Why, when we look up at the stars, do we not see any evidence of this? Why have we not been visited?

Various answers have been proposed, including, most darkly, that once a civilization reaches a sufficiently advanced level of technology, it inevitably wipes itself out, perhaps via nuclear weapons, perhaps by combustion of fossil fuels.

Director of the Columbia Astrobiology Center Caleb Scharf, in his 2014 book The Copernicus Complex, has another explanation. He counters Hawkings presumption about our mediocrity, noting that, in fact, the sun is not at all very average, and that the architecture of our planetary system in terms of orbits, spacings, and occurrence of types of planets is something of an outlier.

Astrophysicist John Gribbin makes a similar argument in his 2011 book Alone in the Universe, that a chain of improbable coincidences had to occur for intelligent life to exist. Any earlier in the history of the galaxy, and our planetary system would have too few metals to form life. We appear to be not just in the goldilocks zone in our local system but in the galaxy, too: if we were too near the center, itd be too crowded, with near-sterilizing events such as supernovas and gamma-ray bursts from merging neutron stars more common; if we were too far out, again, the lack of metals would sink us.

The presence of the moon and Jupiter may also play a key role in keeping us safe. Here on Earth, while life got started perhaps just a billion years after the earth was formed, it took 2 billion years between the first emergence of bacterial and archaean life and eukaryotic life (cells with true nuclei), and another billion again before eukaryotes got friendly enough to bunch up into multicellular life.

Compared to the universes 13.8-billion-year-old life span so far, 4 billion years for things to kick off hints at how unlikely this may be. And it still took until a bare 550 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion for multicellular life to proliferate into the variety we are familiar with. Gribbin reminds us that we still do not know why this most significant moment in the fossil record happened, and thus how likely it might be anywhere else.

The existence of some organisms with every higher biological complexity does appear to increase over time (in other words, the variance of complexity expands), but the most common type of complexity remains basic: the majority of species are simple prokaryotes. And within our own prehistory and history, there have been a number of unlikely events, including that some seventy thousand years ago, due to some catastrophe, humanity was reduced to just a thousand individuals. Gribbins hunch is that simple life may exist somewhere else in the Milky Way, given how rapidly life first appeared on Earth, but we are the only technological civilization in the galaxy.

Of course, there are lots of other galaxies, one might say. But given the vastness of our own galaxy, even this is still rare and precious enough. The point, in any case, is rather that we live in an interesting time, where recent discoveries push in one direction suggesting that life is utterly common and unexceptional, and other recent discoveries push in the other direction, suggesting how rare and precious life particularly conscious life truly is.

However, these discoveries by astronomers, cosmologists, and planetary scientists that are filtering their way into popular culture, sculpting our notions of what is believable on-screen, are not the only such influence.

Here on Earth, our relatively new understandings of ecosystems new at least since the Space Age and how humanity is endangering the geologically brief, ten-thousand-year window or so of conditions that have allowed us to flourish, and our even newer understanding of how the human body is an ecosystem itself, a microbiome, are surely also prompting the emergence of this new cosmic realist cinema. Certainly, many of these films address directly or indirectly climate change and related ecological challenges. We can see this in the agricultural and extreme weather background of Interstellar, the opening title card of Ad Astra speaking of a time of hope and conflict, and, most explicitly, the ecological catastrophe of the Danish-Swedish low-budget but still high-realist Aniara (2018), a melancholic tale of a Mars-bound space-faring cruise ship gone adrift for years without hope of rescue. In the latter, the passengers become addicted to a holodeck-like room powered by an artificial general intelligence that feeds them dreams of nature on Earth like how it used to be.

And if we are the only self-aware life in the galaxy, then preservation of the ecological conditions that have allowed humanity to flourish suddenly become even more important. We are not merely saving ourselves but saving a universe that is becoming aware of itself. Our series of profound global biocrises immediately have cosmic resonance.

When we think of ecology, we immediately think of external nature, but in recent years, microbiology has shown how each of us is as much an ecosystem, including human cells and microbial cells, a great many of which we cannot survive without, as we are an individual. Ecology and biology increasingly even trouble the notion of individuality, or at least recognize that biological individuality comes in degrees and can be realized at multiple levels, emerging as a product of the coming together of what were previously distinct entities. Our multitudinousness, as science writer Ed Yong puts it, connects us to the wider, global ecosystem not in some abstract or poetic way but directly. In truth, it is hard to make a hard distinction between ourselves and external nature. This, in turn, means that for any extended period of time external to the earth, it is not enough for humans to strap themselves inside one of David Bowies tin cans, but rather that we have to take our ecosystems with us, at least in some significant part.

But then how can we create mini ecosystems separated from the earth that are capable of sustaining themselves and thus us in perpetuity? We dont know yet. Efforts to create complex closed ecological systems have proven extremely difficult.

Kim Stanley Robinsons remarkable ecological novel disguised as space-based hard science fiction, Aurora, is a thought experiment about such an effort on a grand, generation-starship scale. After seven generations and 160 years, the biomes in the ship begin to break down as the rate of evolutionary change of bacteria and macroscopic organisms is hopelessly mismatched. One walks away from the book confronting the possibility that human colonization of other worlds is somewhere between impossible and formidably more difficult than our earlier science fiction ever imagined.

There are a lot of people, even powerful, influential people, who seem to think that the goal of humanity is to spread itself, Robinson says of the ideas behind Aurora. Maybe theres only one planet where humanity can do well, and were already on it.

However, the interrogation of Clarkes dilemma by Ad Astra surely imposes the opposite conclusion to that of Robinson, even if one accepts Robinsons powerful ecological argument about the profound difficulty of taking our ecosystem with us. On a geological scale, life on Earth may be robust. The planet has passed through far worse than what humanity is currently throwing at it. Instead, it is the goldilocks conditions that support humanity that are under threat as a result of the irrational production incentives of the market. But even a geological scale is puny compared to a cosmic scale. And on a cosmic scale, life on Earth is indeed precarious.

In about 600 million years, the suns increase in solar luminosity will set in chain a series of events that will kill off most plants, the support base of much complex life. Unicellular life will then predominate until about 3 billion years from now, and then it too will die out. Thus, the imperative that commands that we preserve and enhance the ecological conditions that have allowed human consciousness to flourish, in other words, to work to prevent climate change and biodiversity loss, also commands us to preserve that consciousness beyond the end of days of the earth, especially if, as Clarke and Ad Astra wonder, we are the sole conscious inhabitants of the galaxy or the cosmos.

Born in the year of the first moon landing, director Gray told CNET that he laments the loss of the tremendous aspirational power of humankinds quest for space. Elsewhere, Gray has said that the character of Clifford McBride, obsessed with finding intelligent life, wasnt just the ogre that there was also something beautiful about his dream. The tragedy of Clifford instead is that He never found beauty in the idea that human beings are what matter. The idea of striving is what matters.

The lunar landing is the greatest achievement in the history of the human race, Gray says of this striving. I think we take it for granted now ...What was lost was the will because the whole vision of space exploration was essentially motivated by the desire to beat the Russians to the moon. And once the United States did that, we stopped caring.

Grays comments are echoed by the protagonist of Interstellar. While that piece of cosmic realism may be despairing about the future of humanity on Earth, it blames this failure not on the hubris of mankind but on our abandonment of audacity. Cooper at one point laments how We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt. The line appears to be what remained after editing of a longer aspirational monologue that was still used in trailers:

Weve always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps weve just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And weve barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us.

And the response of Mark Watney in The Martian to the harsh indifference of Mars is not to curse his lot, but to recognize how important the work of space exploration and colonization is. At that films darkest moment, when Watney becomes all but certain that he is going to die alone on the planet, he transmits a message to his superior asking that she speak to his mom and dad about the role of his work in a vast humanist project: Please tell them I love what I do ...and that Im dying for something big and beautiful, and greater than me. Tell them I said I can live with that.

That is, this trend of cosmic realism is not only a cinematic representation of an emerging, stark realization about our possible uniqueness in the cosmos, about the universes profound inhospitable desolation, and about humanitys inseparability from our ecosystem. It responds to the psychic destabilization this realization causes not with retreat, but with a renewed commitment to humanity and to space.

Of all these films, Ad Astra is perhaps the most aptly named, taken from the Latin phrase ad astra per aspera, through struggle to the stars. Our task in this cosmos, to maintain ourselves and flourish so that the universe will continue to have meaning, will forever be riddled with challenge. The struggle will always continue.

Continued here:

What If We Really Are Alone in the Universe? - Jacobin magazine

Ad Astra shines a light on the future of space travel – The Wellesley News

James Grays Ad Astra follows astronaut Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt, as he searches for his father and the source of dangerous power surges in deep space. The film has a beautiful visual aesthetic that harkens back to classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and sets itself apart from other films in the genre by venturing even farther into space. The characters journey eventually brings him to Neptune, at the edge of our solar system.

The film opens with Pitts character working on what seems to be an extension of the International Space Station (ISS). The visuals and sound editing coupled with the directionless and lethargic movement of Pitts character accurately recreate space. As our protagonist and his colleagues effortlessly float through space, one cannot help but feel the awe of their insignificant presence against the backdrop of Earth. It is not until all of the ambient noise suddenly drains out and is replaced by the low rumbling of a power surge that the audience finally realizes what structure they are working on: an antennae from Earth that is so tall, it reaches into low Earth orbit. The surge runs along the course of the structure, and Pitt watches as his colleagues are blown off of it and sent plummeting to the ground. Pitts character is forced to jump off seconds before the power surge reaches his position. In the following moments of him spinning through the Earths upper atmosphere and down towards the ground, we learn what this film has in store.

This film is very slow, both literally and figuratively. The characters move slowly as if swimming through water, as they walk along the outsides of space stations and shuttles. However, this slow feel also extends to the plot as Brad Pitt delivers meandering monologues about the nature of humanity. Though this film is technically science fiction due to its setting, there is no doubt that it is more of a drama and an intimate look at human nature. Pitts character is known for his fearlessness; however, this has made him an uncaring person who pushes others away. His wife, played briefly by Liv Tyler, barely knows who he is anymore, and he does not have any kids. Instead, he has devoted himself completely to the exploration of space; however, deep down, he does not care much for it beyond the connection it forges between him and his father. When Pitts character is finally reunited with his father, he realizes that the man is more similar to an alien than a human, as he no longer considers Earth to be home. The father so consumed with exploring space and discovering what lies in the expansive universe that when Pitt tries to save him, he untheters himself and floats off into the void.

Ad Astra uses the exploration of deep space as a vehicle to tell a story about humanity. The nuanced performances of the cast coupled with the awe-inspiring scenery raise questions about the point at which a human becomes an alien and suggest that the answers may lie in the void.

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Ad Astra shines a light on the future of space travel - The Wellesley News

Scientists extend shelf life to benefit army and space travel – Food & Drink International

Scientists have developed a way to triple the shelf life of ready-to-eat macaroni and cheese which, they say, could benefit everything from space travel to military use.

Currently, plastic packaging can keep food safe at room temperature for up to twelve months, but the Washington State University (WSU) researchers demonstrated in a recent paper they could keep ready-to-eat macaroni and cheese safe and edible with selected nutrients for up to three years.

We need a better barrier to keep oxygen away from the food and provide longer shelf-life similar to aluminium foil and plastic laminate pouches, said Shyam Sablani, who is leading the team working to create a better protective film.

Weve always been thinking of developing a product that can go to Mars, but with technology that can also benefit consumers here on Earth.

In addition to having space travel in mind, the researchers are working closely with the US Army, who want to improve their Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) to stay tasty and healthy for three years.

In taste panels conducted by the Army, the mac and cheese, recently tested after three years of storage, was deemed just as good as the previous version that was stored for nine months.

The science behind longer shelf life

The food itself is sterilised using a process called the microwave-assisted thermal sterilisation (MATS) system, developed by WSUs Juming Tang.

The food must be sterilised in plastic, since metal, like tin cans, cant be microwaved and glass is fragile and not a preferred choice of packaging for MREs. Glass is also too heavy for military or space uses.

Adding a metal oxide coating to a layer of the plastic film significantly increases the amount of time it takes for oxygen and other gases to break through.

The metal oxide coating technology has been around for almost 10 years, but it develops cracks when subjected to sterilization processes. That eventually compromises the food shelf-life, Sablani said.

WSU researchers have been working with packaging companies to develop new films that keep oxygen and vapor out longer.

The packaging films are made up of multiple layers of different plastics. These few-micron thin layers have different purposes, like being a good barrier, good for sealing, good mechanical strength, or good for printing, Sablani said.

We are excited that an over-layer of organic coating on metal oxide helped protect against microscopic cracks, he said.

Multiple layers of metal oxide coating have also increased the barrier performance. Our research guided development of newer high barrier packaging.

To ensure the process works fully, the Army plans to do testing under field conditions. So these new MREs will be stored longer, then sent to deployed soldiers to eat in the field.

If they like the taste of the packaged food there, then thats the ultimate test of new films, Sablani said.

The team doesnt wait the three years to test the results of each new film. Keeping the packaged food in a 100-degree Fahrenheit incubator rapidly speeds up the food quality changes at a consistent rate. Six months in the incubator is equivalent to three years at room temperature, while nine months is the equivalent to nearly five years, Sablani said.

The final frontier

For space travel, its not really possible to field-test for a trip to Mars. But Sablani plans to reach out to NASA to talk about how to test the WSU films to make sure that packaged food stays edible on a space mission where failure isnt an option.

NASA knows about our work, but were just now getting to the point where we can talk to them with a proven product, Sablani said.

We hope to work out a way to test these products on the International Space Station in the future to show that the food is safe after long-term storage.

NASA will require storage of up to five years for food, so thats what the team is working on now. They are currently aging other recipes that will be taste tested once they reach the five-year mark.

Several types of mission plans have been proposed for a trip to Mars. The five-year food storage includes some built-in safety requirements, Sablani said.

It may involve an approximately nine-month travel time from Earth to Mars, about five hundred days on or orbiting Mars, and a travel time of about nine months to return to Earth.

The extra storage time is necessary in case the mission is delayed and explorers must stay longer.

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Scientists extend shelf life to benefit army and space travel - Food & Drink International

Space travel across the universe could be faster than speed of light with Warp Drive – Express.co.uk

Faster Than Light (FTL) technology has been constricted to the realms of science fiction, but it is theoretically possible, according to one researcher. The research, carried out by Joseph Agnew, an undergraduate engineer and research assistant from the University of Alabama in Huntsvilles Propulsion Research Center (PRC), builds on the expertise of Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre. Mr Alcubierre established a concept for an FTL system back in 1994 which was built on Einsteins field equations.

Essentially, the equations dictate that space, time and energy all interact and Mr Alcubierre believed they could be manipulated to travel faster than the speed of light a staggering 299,792,458 metres per second.

Mr Alcubierres warp drive technology would involve stretching the fabric of space-time to form a wave.

Theoretically, the space ahead of the ship would contract while behind it would expand. This would mean that the ship is not moving, but moving space-time itself.

It has now become known as the Alcubierre Metric which involves riding the wave of space-time to achieve FTL travel.

The theory seemed improbable at the time, but the discovery of gravitational wave proved that space-time can warp, as per special relativity.

Mr Agnew told Universe Today: The historically theoretical nature of the idea is also itself a likely deterrent, as its much more difficult to see substantial progress when you are looking at equations instead of quantitative results.

In the past 5-10 years or so, there has been a lot of excellent progress along the lines of predicting the anticipated effects of the drive, determining how one might bring it into existence, reinforcing fundamental assumptions and concepts, and, my personal favourite, ways to test the theory in a laboratory.

The LIGO discovery a few years back was, in my opinion, a huge leap forward in science, since it proved, experimentally, that spacetime can warp and bend in the presence of enormous gravitational fields, and this is propagated out across the Universe in a way that we can measure.

READ MORE:How NASA captured supermassive black hole dance of death tornado'

Before, there was an understanding that this was likely the case, thanks to Einstein, but we know for certain now.

In essence, what is needed for a warp drive is a way to expand and contract spacetime at will, and in a local manner, such as around a small object or ship.

I believe there is a chance that once the effect can be duplicated on a lab scale, it will lead to a much deeper understanding of how gravity works, and may open the door to some as-yet-undiscovered theories or loopholes.

I suppose to summarise, the biggest hurdle is the energy, and with that comes technological hurdles, needing bigger EM fields, more sensitive equipment, etc.

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An EM field is an electromagnetic field produced by electrically charged objects. An EM Drive works by bouncing microwaves around inside a closed engine. The microwaves subsequently push against the side of the container, acting as a propellor.

Even if travelling at light speed can be achieved for reference the fastest man-made machine is NASAs Solar Probe Plus which, when it orbits the Sun, will achieve a speed of 690,000 km/h (430,000 mph), or 0.064 percent the speed of light getting across the Universe would still be problematic.

It may make travelling across the solar system a doddle, but to reach the nearest star system, Proxima Centauri which is 4.2 light-years away, it would take, well, 4.2 years.

To exit the Milky Way and reach the next nearest galaxy, the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, it would take a whopping 25,000 years.

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Space travel across the universe could be faster than speed of light with Warp Drive - Express.co.uk

Space-Travel Odyssey ‘Ad Astra’ Reflects on the Human Condition – Loyola Phoenix

By Lucas NaberUpdated September 25, 2019 1:12 a.m. CTPublished September 25, 2019 10:10 a.m. CT

Writer and director James Grays Ad Astra is equal parts character study and sci-fi epic, exploring both the physical and emotional isolation of its astronaut protagonist.

Set in a bleak take on the near-future, the film stars Brad Pitt (Fight Club, The Big Short) as astronaut Roy McBride, son of legendary U.S. Space Command astronaut and leader of the fictional Lima Project H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones).

Its been 26 years since the Lima Project was formed to scour the solar system for signs of intelligent life, and 16 since the projects ship and entire crew went missing somewhere in Neptunes orbit.

Clifford and his crew have long been presumed dead, but Space Command officials reconsider when they link a worldwide series of deadly electric surges back to the Lima Projects experiments. They enlist Roy to try and contact his father, who may be alive and purposely avoiding detection.

Roy agrees to Space Commands terms and finds himself suiting up to leave Earth the way hes done his whole career.

Ad Astra, released Sept. 20, might not actually be a realistic depiction of space travel, but its rule-defined and unflinchingly logical approach is so plausible it might as well be a documentary on the subject.

Roys complicated journey through this detail-oriented world drives the plot, but the film finds its true merit in simplicity.

Roy is numb to the bureaucracy and safeguarding of Space Commands operations. Hes a machine, powering through psychological exams, ignoring repetitive safety videos and sporting a heart rate that has never risen above 80 beats per minute.

Roys character is defined by his ability to robotically excel in the structure around him. His interstellar expertise and introspective narration make the films complex trappings seem commonplace, reducing the need for expository dialogue.

Grays earnest screenplay paints Roy with plenty of emotional depth, but Pitt communicates more with his eyes than any screenplay could. Bearing a hollow fake smile and perfect posture, Pitt carries the weight of loneliness and labor spanning years inside his pupils and along his brow, expressing more with his mannerisms than his words.

Gray understands the talent hes been blessed with in Pitt, and the film reflects this. Other characters linger on the margins, but the film laser-focuses on Pitt. Roys separated wife Eve (Liv Tyler) is his only human tie to Earth, and shes reduced to a hazy memory by the void Roy faces.

As Roy navigates the stars, he reflects on his current position in life and his relationship with his father.

When the Lima Project left Earth, Roy was a teenager. By the time he found out his father wouldnt return, he was a grown man. Now in his 40s, Roy must confront the possibility that his father wasnt taken from him but instead chose not to come back.

After Clifford disappeared, he shifted from a real figure in Roys life to a security blanket. His heroism motivated Roys career path and his tragic presumed death was easier for Roy to cope with than the possibility of abandonment.

For decades, Roy has used these justifications to ignore the painfully obvious. He always wanted more from his father, even before his mission lifted off.

At two hours and four minutes long, Grays film is a masterpiece of pacing. Ad Astra handles the material of a much longer film without rushing and employs a contemplative pace without drawing things out.

The film takes a densely classical approach to its genre with great success, utilizing hard scientific logic to tell a cosmic adventure story spanning years, but this isnt where its main appeal lies.

Ad Astra understands the appeal of futuristic space travel and knowing the unknowable, but lots of films do. Its the films ability to connect its fictional concept to such innate human concerns that makes Ad Astra so special.

Ad Astra, rated PG-13, is playing in theaters nationwide.

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Space-Travel Odyssey 'Ad Astra' Reflects on the Human Condition - Loyola Phoenix

UK and Australia space agencies are developing a hypersonic ‘space plane’ – TechSpot

Forward-looking: At the UK Space Conference 2019, the country's space agency announced that it would be closely working with the Australian Space Agency on an agreement called the "world's first Space Bridge" that includes the prospect of hypersonic space travel between Australia and the UK. A possibility, thanks to the Sabre engine currently in development at the Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines Limited.

By 2030, hypersonic flights could potentially let people travel from the UK to New York in an hour or reach Australia in four hours. That's the ambition set by the UK and Australia's space agencies as they recently signed up on a 'space bridge' agreement to collaborate and advance in the space industry.

The development took place at this year's UK Space Conference held in Wales. "A space bridge agreement will bring significant benefits to both our thriving space industries, facilitating new trade and investment opportunities and the exchange of knowledge and ideas," commented Dr Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency. "It was a pleasure to welcome the Australian Space Agency to the UK Space Conference 2019 and to set out our intent to increase collaboration," he added.

Part of this collaboration involves working on a new hypersonic aircraft powered by UK's Reaction Engines Ltd. The Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE) currently undergoing development at the company is said to have the fuel efficiency of a jet engine combined with the power and high-speed ability of a rocket.

"When we have brought the SABRE rocket engine to fruition, that may enable us to get to Australia in perhaps as little as four hours," said Dr Graham, adding that "This is technology that could definitely deliver that. We're talking the 2030s for operational service, and the work is already very advanced."

Reaction Engines also ran successful tests of a precooler in April this year, in which it simulated conditions at Mach 3.3 (more than three times the speed of sound). These simulations were conducted at a testing facility in the Colorado Air and Space Port in the US.

The precooler was tested to ensure that extremely hot temperatures caused by high-speed air-flow through the engine wouldn't damage any components. The company said that the precooler was able to cool gases over 1,000 C to ambient temperature in less than 1/20th of a second. "This is a hugely significant milestone which has seen Reaction Engines' proprietary precooler technology achieve unparalleled heat transfer performance," said Mark Thomas, CEO of Reaction Engines.

The company's program director Shaun Driscoll said that the Sabre engine was like a hybrid of a rocket engine and an aero engine as it allowed a rocket to breathe air. "Rockets really haven't progressed in 70 years, whereas aero engines have become very efficient, so if you can combine an aero engine and a rocket you can have a very lightweight efficient propulsion system and basically create a space plane," he said.

With over 100 million ($130 million) in funding over the past four years, Reaction Engines has garnered interest of many big names in the industry including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing.

A testing facility at Buckinghamshire, UK, is being finalized for construction that will serve as the location for the first ground-based demonstration of a SABRE engine air-breathing core.

Image(s) Credit: Reaction Engines

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UK and Australia space agencies are developing a hypersonic 'space plane' - TechSpot

Mealtime Favorite Mac and Cheese May Be the Next to Visit Mars – ENGINEERING.com

Mac and cheese in the new plastic packaging from WSU. (Image courtesy of CAHNRS News.)

Researchers from Washington State University (WSU) have developed a process that could potentially increase the shelflife of a mealtime favorite in space. Current plastic packaging products can keep food safe at room temperature for only up to 12 months. WSU researchers have figured out how to triple the shelflife of ready-to-eat macaroni and cheese, a development that can largely benefit space travel and military use.

To survive the long travel between Earth and Mars, astronauts will need food that wont spoil during the journey and while theyre on the planets surface.

We need a better barrier to keep oxygen away from the food and provide longer shelflife similar to aluminum foil and plastic laminate pouches, said Shaym Sablani, a professor in WSUs Department of Biological Systems Engineering who lead the research.

The study took form when the team began working closely with the U.S. Army in efforts to improve the Armys Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) to have a shelflife of three years. The Army recently put together a taste panel to test mac and cheese stored for the equivalent of three years and concluded that it was just as good as the current version, which can be stored only for nine months.

The researchers worked with packaging companies to develop new films that prevent oxygen and vapor from escaping for a longer period.

The food is sterilized using a process developed by WSUs Juming Tang called the microwave assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) system. Instead of using metal, like tin cans, the food is sterilized in plastic. Since metal cannot be microwaved, it is the least preferred packaging for MREs. Similarly, glass is too fragile as well as too heavy for either military or space use.

Additionally, the researchers discovered that adding a metal oxide coating to the plastic film significantly speeds up the time it takes for oxygen and other gases to escape. Sablani notes that this compromises the foods shelflife. While metal oxide coating technology has existed for almost 10 years, it can actually be detrimental to the preservation processes, creating cracks when subjected to sterilization.

The packaging films the WSU researchers developed along with packaging companies are composed of multiple layers of different plastics. According to Sablani, each micron thin layer serves a different purpose, such as acting as a barrier or a seal, and can be used for mechanical strength or for printing.

We are excited that an over-layer of organic coating on metal oxide helped protect against microscopic cracks, Sablani said. Multiple layers of metal oxide coating have also increased the barrier performance. Our research guided development of newer high barrier packaging.

The team did not actually wait three years to test the results of each new film. The packaged food was instead kept in a 100F incubator, which rapidly speeds up the change in food quality at a consistent rate. According to Sablani, six months in the incubator is equivalent to three years at room temperature, while nine months is equivalent to five years.

WSU graduate student Juhi Patel, an author on the mac and cheese paper, puts packages of purple potatoes into an incubator, which speeds up the food quality changes at a consistent rate. (Image courtesy of CAHNRS News.)

The Army plans to conduct more testing under field conditions. If they like the taste of the packaged food there, then thats the ultimate test of new films, said Sablani.

The team has already expressed plans to put the technology to use in space, specifically for Mars. While its still not possible to field-test the films through a trip to Mars, Sablani intends to reach out to NASA to discuss how his team can test the WSU films for space missions.

NASA knows about our work, but were just now getting to the point where we can talk to them with a proven product, explained Sablani. We hope to work out a way to test these products on the International Space Station in the future to show that the food is safe after long-term storage.

For food, NASA requires storage allocation of up to five years. The WSU team is currently working on meeting this stipulation. The researchers are also exploring other recipes that will be taste tested when the foods reach the five-year mark. With several types of mission plans proposed for a trip to Mars, Sablani adds that five-year food storage will need to include some built-in safety requirements.

A trip from Earth to Mars may involve approximately nine months of travel, plus five hundred days on or orbiting Mars, then another nine months of travel to return to Earth. Having food that can withstand extra storage time is also crucial in case of unexpected delays or the prolonging of a mission.

The study can be found in the Food and Bioprocess Technology journal. The research was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Research, AFRI Foundational Grant Program.

For more on the latest developments in space travel, check out how China is building a gigawatt power station in spacehere.

Excerpt from:

Mealtime Favorite Mac and Cheese May Be the Next to Visit Mars - ENGINEERING.com