CoastZone Newsletter

April 30, 2013   Coast Insider Audio

Space News:

In the first half of Monday’s show, space historian Robert Zimmerman discussed space-related topics in the news, such as the recent test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. Virgin’s craft, designed to carry paying space tourists, set a milestone, reaching a maximum altitude of 56,000 ft. It’s taken them almost a decade to get to this point, he noted, and they now seem to have an engine that can deliver supersonic speeds. “They’re aiming for their first passenger flight for the first quarter of next year, and I don’t see any reason why that’s not going to happen,” he said, adding that the effort should be a profitable enterprise for Virgin Galactic. Virgin has also announced “LauncherOne,” a rocket designed to deliver small satellites into orbit.

SpaceX is developing technology in which the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket can return to the launch pad and be used again instead of being dumped in the ocean, which would help reduce costs, Zimmerman reported. While the Hubble Space Telescope is on its last legs, the newer Kepler telescope (designed to look at exoplanets) could be facing technical problems from failing gyroscopes, he revealed. He also talked about global climate and solar activity. The decrease of sunspots has been correlated with colder weather, and we may be about to enter such a cycle now, he said.