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Saturday, 30 August 2014

NASA’s Space Launch System is officially all systems go for Mars and Moon landings

Artist concept of the Space Launch System

NASA’s Space Launch System, the USA’s first exploration-class spacecraft since the Space Shuttle, has officially passed the whiteboard formulation stage and moved into full-scale development. The SLS, which will be the most powerful rocket ever built, will allow NASA to land astronauts on Mars and captured asteroids, and perhaps other planets and moons throughout the Solar System as well. The first SLS mission should lift off no later than 2018, sending the Orion capsule around the Moon. Asteroid- and Mars-bound missions should follow a few years after that. The question is, will NASA be the first to send humans to Mars (probably no sooner than 2032) — or will a commercial company such as SpaceX get there much earlier?
NASA began the SLS’s design process way back in 2011. At the time, we knew the stated goal of the SLS – to try and re-use as many Space Shuttle components as possible, to get back into deep space as quickly and as cost effectively as possible — but we didn’t know exactly what form the SLS would take. Now that the formulation stage has been completed, and focus has shifted to actually developing and fabricating the launch system’s millions of constituent components, we have a very firm idea of what the SLS will be capable of, and thus what kind of missions NASA will task the SLS with.
Space Shuttle main engine test fire
A test-firing of the Space Shuttle Main Engine, which will be reused on the Space Launch System
The Space Launch System is broken up into blocks. Block I, the first and most simple design, consists of a core stage that’s lifted almost straight from the Space Shuttle: It has two Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SSRBs), and a first stage that’s fashioned out of a converted Space Shuttle External Tank (that big red cylinder thing — but on the SLS it’ll be painted white). Together with a modified Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (modified from the Delta IV), Block I will be able to lift around 70 metric tons (154,000 lbs) into low-Earth orbit. There is only expected to be one launch of the Block I variant. If all goes to plan, it will launch sometime in 2017 or 2018 and send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a circumlunar orbit around the dark side of the Moon.
The next variant of the SLS, Block IB, will use the same core stage as Block I — but instead of the modified Delta IV second stage, it’ll have the brand-new Exploration Upper Stage. The EUS has a lot of fuel and four RL10 rocket engines, boosting the total payload capacity to around 110 metric tons to LEO. Finally, at some point in the 2030s, Block II will arrive, which replaces the two SSRBs with new, “advanced boosters.” Block II will be capable of lifting around 155 metric tons to LEO.
The launch of the Apollo 11 mission, aboard Saturn V rocket SA-506
The launch of the Apollo 11 mission, aboard Saturn V rocket SA-506. 34,020,000 newtons of thrust from five massive F-1 rocket engines that each burned around 3 tons of fuel per second. The Saturn V is still the most powerful space launch vehicle ever used.
Read our featured story: The Space Shuttle legacy in pictures
By comparison, the Saturn V — which took NASA astronauts to the Moon — had a max LEO payload capacity of 118 metric tons, but it has long since been retired. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which is a much smaller and cheaper rocket than the SLS, will be able to put 55 metric tons into LEO. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, there aren’t really any heavy lift launchers in operation: Ariane 5 (Arianespace) can only do 21 metric tons to LEO, while Delta IV (United Launch Alliance) can do 29 metric tons to LEO.
In short, NASA’s Space Launch System should be by far the most powerful operational rocket when it arrives in 2017-2018. SpaceX could decide to up-rate the Falcon Heavy, but I doubt it: With Falcon Heavy, SpaceX wants to compete with United Launch Alliance and Arianespace, which currently own the (incredibly lucrative) heavy lift market. A payload capacity of 55 tons is more than enough for that purpose. You only shoot for a capacity of 150 tons if you’re aiming at targets that are much farther than geostationary orbit — such as landing on the Moon or Mars or Europa.
Orion spacecraft
A rendering of the Orion spacecraft
The SLS’s primary payload will be the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), though it will undoubtedly be used to send other large spacecraft into deep space. The Orion capsule is what NASA will use to land astronauts on the Moon, captured asteroids, Mars, and any other interesting lumps of rock throughout the Solar System. The first manned Orion launch, to a captured asteroid in lunar orbit, is scheduled to occur in 2021. Combined with SpaceX’s crewed Dragon spacecraft and Boeing’s CST-100, things are looking up for human space exploration!

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Saturday, 30 August 2014

25 Unsettling Face Swaps That Will Make You Want to Die Inside

If your worst fears involve a giant baby, look no further.
While most people scour Reddit and Imgur for face swaps to get a good laugh, there are a few very special creations that just make you want to crawl into a dark place and never come out.
You have been warned. Just remember to hug your loved ones before you crawl into the abyss.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on

9 Nearly Worthless Gadgets You're Hanging Onto for Dear Life


You can't put a price on childhood memories, which explains why most of your favorite toys and gadgets from childhood aren't worth squat.
Now, you can still make a nice profit off unopened, exceedingly well-maintained or rare items from your younger days, but the majority of your prized possessions are too new to be artifacts and too old to be useful
Before you try to sell your childhood dreams away, check out the nine items that have much more sentimental value than market value. And if you decide to junk them, think about donating orrecycling.

1. Most of your old sports video games


Madden NFL 2000 might be worth a lot sentimentally, but not much monetarily.
You might treasure the afternoons you wasted away with your friends playing Madden NFL 2000and High Heat Baseball, but the games themselves are almost worthless. According toPriceCharting, which records listing prices for video games on eBayAmazon and, most sports games for Nintendo 64 and Playstation all start at about $3.

2. Super Soaker


This meant war.
Nothing said summer like pumping this cumbersome canon until it squealed and subsequently nailing your best friend in the eye. Unfortunately, a used Super Soaker probably won't get you more than $20 on eBay since they're still being made today — albeit with a little less power.

4. Sony Walkman cassette players


Better for pumping out the jams then pumping in cash.
Speaking of obsolete ways to rock out, don't bother trying to sell your Walkman cassette player. If anything, digging up that old copy of Backstreet Boys' "Black & Blue" and finally coming to terms with those grade-school crushes might be more valuable.
Some from the 1970s and '80s can fetch hundreds of dollars in near-mint condition, but the one you rocked in the '90s won't get much more than $25.

5. iMac G3


Pretty, but worthless.
Yes, they're pretty and colorful, and yes, you can actually get about $150 for one if you manage to sell it. However, that's exceedingly difficult to do on eBay, where listings for the computers get little love with slashed prices.

6. Tamagotchi


There are 75 million of these things in world, making yours inexpensive.
These virtual pocket pets might have you caused you (and your teachers) a lot of stress back in the day, but that won't amount to much profit. Tamagotchi are still made today — there's even an app now. By 2010 there were roughly 75 million around the world. Not rare = not too valuable.

7. Casio Calculator Watch


It's time to stop trying to sell these.
While the calculator watch had a heyday in the 1980s, it's been rendered obsolete by modern inventions, like PDAs, cellphones and fashion. Some modern top-of-the-line models go for a nice price, but the numbers aren't in your favor if you list a standard version. You'll be lucky to get more than $15.

8. Palm Pilots and other PDAs


Relics from a land before smartphones.
Another victim of the proliferation of smartphones, PDAs serve little purpose or utility now. And since it hasn't been too long since they were used, there's little nostalgia factor to drive up the price. High-tech models from the past decade may get you $40, but basic and older PDAs barely scratch $20.

9. Boomboxes


A TV in a boombox might be the only thing to make it worth something.
With all due respect to Radio Raheem, the boombox's glory days are long gone, and so is any chance you had to make some money off of it. While the boombox carries unique musical and cultural value, that won't translate into cash.
Some rare vintage models will go for $50, but the rest fall somewhere between $15 and $25.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

BONUS: 8 Modern Gadgets That Look Like They Macarena'd Out of the '90s

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on

Friday, 8 August 2014

New Wearable Baby Monitor Is Like a Fitbit for Infants


A new wearable for babies is trying to give parents some peace of mind, and maybe a few extra hours of sleep.
Sproutling launched its pre-order campaign on Thursday, billing itself as the "world's smartest baby monitor." Designed by a team of former Apple and Google engineers, pediatric specialists and new parents, the product works as a kind of Fitbit for infants, measuring vital signs and providing insights on sleep patterns and mood.
Sproutling says its product customizes itself to each baby's habits, learning the child's sleep cycle and heart rate and alerting parents of any abnormalities. Parents can learn what's "normal" for each newborn, such as heart rate.
The Sproutling wearable band sits in its charging base.

The Sproutling wearable band sits in its charging base.
The Sproutling system is made up of three parts: a wearable band, a smart charger and a mobile app. The rubber-coated, hypoallergenic band is washing-machine safe and contains a sensor that monitors heart rate, temperature and motion. The device's battery lasts about three days and can be dropped into its base station for wireless charging. The third part of the Sproutling system is the mobile app, which relays the information documented by the device.
The app uses data to predict when the baby will wake up, and it tries to determine what mood the baby is in before parents even walk in the room. Access to the app can be granted to multiple people, including babysitters and other caretakers. Sproutling can also notify users in case of emergency, like if the baby's heart rate or skin temperature changes significantly, or if an infant rolls over.
a screen of an app says "austin is sleeping he will wake up in about 45 minutes and "it's a little loud, austin may wake up"
High-tech baby monitors are not new, with app-enabled devices like Belkin WeMo baby, BabyPing and iBaby providing parents with mobile audio and video of their baby. However, Sproutling wants to expand the scope of information a baby monitor can relay.
Although the product is not set to launch officially until March 2015, parents can pre-order online now for $249. Sproutling will retail for $299 when it hits the market.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Friday, 8 August 2014

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