‘Hyperloop’ Could Send People From L.A. To San Francisco In 30 Minutes

Hyperloop Promises Los Angeles to San Francisco Travel in Minutes

It might not be long before people are being whisked from Los Angeles to San Francisco in an underground pipeline akin to the tubes drive-up banks use. The wild idea comes from Elon Musk, who has or has had high stakes in PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Here’s what Musk told PandoDaily:

“How would you like something that never crashed, was immune to weather, that goes three or four times as fast as the bullet trains we have now or about twice the speed of an aircraft, that would get you from downtown L.A. to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes and it would cost you much less than any other type of transportation.”

There’s been a lot of futuristic means of travel proposed in the past — flying cars, hover boards and teleporting, to name a few — but with billionaire backing, this idea seems like it’s actually on track. Get ready for the fifth form of transportation, folks; one that blows planes, trains, automobiles and boats out of the water. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • It’s solar powered.
  • It leaves leave as soon as you arrive “so there is no waiting for a specific departure time,” according to Musk.
  • It’s better than a bullet train: capsules will be propelled as fast as 4,000 miles per hour, but passengers will be exposed to the G-forces of an ordinary car ride.
  • Musk wants to keep the invention open source, and not apply patents to it.

[via Smithsonian magazine]

Paying More For Flights? Try $70.6 Million Per Seat

paying more for flightsTravelers have become accustomed to paying more for flights as airline fees soar, tapping them for billions. Between baggage fees, service fees and in-flight fees, it is getting harder to find cheap fares and no one knows that better than NASA.

As the space shuttle program came to an end in 2011, NASA began relying on the Russian Space Agency to ferry astronauts and supplies back and forth from the International Space Station (ISS). But even NASA, OK with paying $65 million per seat, did not see the latest price hike coming. Agreeing to pay $424 million for the flights of six astronauts aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft to service the ISS in 2016 and the first half of 2017, NASA is not happy.

But NASA really has no other choice than to pay the $70.6 million per seat fare as Russia has the market cornered as the only way to get to and from the space station.Yes, several U.S. companies are in the process of taking that business away from Russia, but those efforts are a few years away. SpaceX is making cargo shipments, but not shipping humans yet. Still, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, had congress approved NASA’s funding request for commercial space travel, the situation could have been avoided.

“Because the funding for the President’s plan has been significantly reduced, we now won’t be able to support American launches until 2017,” said Bolden in a NASA blog post reported by LaboratoryEquipment.

It’s a tough place to be for NASA. On the other hand, the $100 million they spent to build a home for retired space shuttle Atlantis in Florida could have come in handy right about now. At least we can choose not to check luggage, comparison shop and bring our own meals on board. Astronauts don’t have that option.



[Photo – Flickr user chatarra picks]

Friday Rocket Blast To Be Streamed Live

rocket

Earlier this week, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) fired up their Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft in a successful test to prepare for launch to the International Space Station, set for Friday, March 1, at 10:10 a.m. EST. Space travel fans can follow along during the event via LiveStream starting at 9:30 a.m.

Monday, SpaceX teams ran through all the countdown processes as if it were launch day. All nine engines on the Falcon rocket were successfully fired for nearly two seconds, clearing the way for the historic launch.

Friday’s launch will be the fourth flight for SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft and the fifth and final flight for the company’s two-stage Falcon launch vehicle. It it the second SpaceX operational mission contracted to NASA under a Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Did you ever wonder what they send to the International Space Station on resupply missions?

[Photo Credit- NASA]

In addition to what we might expect; food, clothing and gear needed for survival in space, the 1493-pound mission manifest includes experiments sent from a variety of nations.

Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency, for example, is sending stem cells. The Canadian and European Space Agencies have experiments going up also. NASA and the Russians are sending various supplies, computer resources and replacement parts.

With favorable weather expected, coverage of the launch from NASA’s Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida will begin at 8:30am on NASA TV.

Here is a short clip of that test-fire earlier this week-


Video: A Week In The Life Of The International Space Station


The International Space Station is one of the wonders of modern technology. A series of interconnected orbital modules are home to a rotating crew of astronauts and cosmonauts plus a host of ongoing experiments. While the ISS only gets into the news every now and then, interesting things are happening there daily.

Right now three astronauts – two American and one Canadian – are on duty up there along with three cosmonauts from Russia. This video is a weekly update showing what they did last week. The main work has been preparing for the arrival of the Dragon spacecraft, which will bring supplies and take some completed experiments and waste back to Earth.

Besides that, the crew has been conducting experiments, doing maintenance work on their spacesuits, troubleshooting a partial communications failure, training with the robotic arm, and answering questions from the public back on Earth.

The three astronauts even got a break for Presidents Day. I didn’t know they got days off up there. I wonder what they do? Stare out the window a lot, I bet.

The weekly update gets uploaded every Friday and there are daily updates throughout the week. You can followed them on the ISS website.

For more about this giant orbital laboratory take this video tour of the International Space Station.

SpaceX Mission Viewing Available Live

Spacex

The first SpaceX mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) happens October 7, 2012. The flight begins a series of missions to deliver and return cargo to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract aboard the privately run Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX’s Dragon will bring 1,000 pounds of supplies to the six person Expedition 33 crew aboard the ISS. Those astronauts will load us a robotic arm to grapple Dragon, attach it to the ISS then load an estimated 730 pounds of scientific materials and 504 pounds of space station hardware to be returned to Earth.

NASA’s goal with the Commercial Crew Development Program is “to accelerate the availability of U.S. commercial crew transportation capabilities and reduce the gap in American human spaceflight capability. Through this activity, NASA also may be able to spur economic growth as potential new space markets are created,” the space agency said in a press release.Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering the public an opportunity to view this night launch from the NASA Causeway with a limited number of Special Access Passes that can be purchased for $20 plus tax, in addition to admission. Bus boarding will begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT for transportation to the NASA Causeway.

Launch viewing is also available from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including live mission control commentary, and is included with regular admission. The night launch is scheduled for 8:34 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

In other SpaceX news, earlier this month SpaceX’s Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) took its first test flight hop from the company’s rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas, shown in this video:




The short hop of approximately 6 feet is a major milestone for Grasshopper, part of a reusable first stage for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. As seen in the video, “Grasshopper” is a Falcon 9 first stage, a Merlin-1D engine, and four steel landing legs along with a a steel support structure.

SpaceX is developing vehicles that are fully and rapidly reusable in line with a NASA goal of reducing cost and increasing the efficiency of spaceflight.

Grasshopper is expected to test out hovering at about 100 feet in the next several months.

[Flickr photo by FlyingSinger]