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Elon Musk Wants To Provide Everyone With The Internet, Here’s How He Plans To Do It

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Elon MuskElon Musk is at it again. How many big ideas and projects can one guy have in a lifetime? Who knows—but it doesn’t appear that he’s going to slow down anytime soon. His latest idea involves satellites that provide internet access to everyone, everywhere.

Sound familiar? That’s because Musk isn’t the first person to get attached to the idea. Google announced its Project Loon program last year, which involves delivering the internet to everyone via balloons that coast on stratospheric winds. They bought Titan Aerospace last spring because of its drones that can hang out in the air for upwards of five years. Those drones, which can provide communications capabilities to remote places, will likely factor into Google’s quest to bring internet (ie, itself) to everyone. Facebook has gotten in on the action too, buying drone-maker Ascenta after Google snatched up Titan. So powerhouse corporations have already revealed their intentions to bring internet everywhere, but in true Musk style, he says he can do it better and cheaper.

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Urgent Launch Of Air Force Satellites Delays NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Flight Test

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orionNASA’s next manned spacecraft — its first new model in 40 years — is called the Orion, or “Apollo on steroids.” Presuming that it passes the various stages of unmanned flight tests, this may be the spacecraft that brings humans to Mars or to the asteroid belt for mining. To put it mildly, there are a lot of eggs in Orion’s basket, so much so that not even the government shutdown halted work on the craft. Even Universe Today dubbed 2014 “the Year of Orion.” Despite its importance, there are higher-priority matters, such as national security. Orion’s first exploration flight test, due to take place in September, has been pushed back to allow the U.S. Air Force to launch two Space Situational Awareness satellites.

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Why You Have NASA To Thank For The Super Bowl

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Astronaut Rick Mastracchio talks Superbowl

Astronaut Rick Mastracchio talks Superbowl

In a few hours, an absurd number of people will watch the spectacle that is the Super Bowl. And they’ll probably watch a little football, too. I’ll be watching, but only out of an effort to be socially acceptable. I saw Richard Sherman go nutso on that reporter, so who knows what he’ll say and do tonight, and I’m all for celebrating the fact that the two teams playing are from two states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Beyond that…well, let’s just say I have a slight inclination for the Broncos, but only because my hometown college hockey team was the Western Michigan University Broncos. However, I just found another reason to get behind the Super Bowl—it indirectly owes its existence, or at least its widespread broadcast, to NASA.

Proponents of investing in NASA and space exploration often argue that technologies originally developed for some use in space have resulted in technological breakthroughs here on the ground. These are referred to as spinoff technologies. Neil deGrasse Tyson specifically cites to the Hubble telescope. The device had a bum lens for a few years, but when scientists tried out different technology to work around the lens problems, they realized that it could revolutionize mammogram imaging. Similarly, a number of aspects of tonight’s game arguably wouldn’t exist if not for space science.

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Japanese Space Agency Will Pick Up Our Space Trash With A Big Magnetic Net

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space netHumans don’t just litter on planet Earth — our waste has made it all the way to space. But especially after seeing Gravity, it’s difficult to imagine any astronauts wanting to mess with all the space junk out there. So JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, has come up with a solution: a big ol’ magnetic net to round up all our space trash.

There’s far more space junk out there than we could imagine — hundreds of thousands of chunks from our various satellites and other spacecraft are, just as they do in Gravity, orbiting the planet at great speeds. A report released a couple weeks ago by the Congressional Research Service estimates that “roughly 22,000 objects larger than the size of a softball and hundreds of thousands of smaller fragments” litter Earth’s orbit, and that this debris “potentially threatens U.S. national security interests in space, both governmental (military, intelligence, and civil) and commercial.” Even a small object, about 10 centimeters wide,m could destroy a satellite. In 2007, China launched an anti-satellite test — a missile that blew apart one of their old weather satellites and generated a large percentage of the debris mentioned in the earlier figure. Just a couple of years later, a U.S. commercial satellite ran into an old Russian satellite, generating even more debris. There’s so much space trash out there that experts worry that it could cause serious collisions every 5-9 years. Astrophysicist Donald Kessler was worried about this back in the 1970s — the Kessler syndrome is an ongoing process of collisions generating ever more space debris.

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Smartphone Satellite Will Listen For Screams In Space

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There have definitely been times over the last few years when I’ve wanted to take my cell phone and throw it as hard as I possibly could. But my phone definitely would not have made it into Earth’s orbit. Probably due to something scientific and not just weak upper arms.

The Indian Space Research Organization and French Space Agency sent the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle hurtling up into the sky on Monday, carrying a load of seven satellites of different shapes, sizes, and functions. Included among the cargo: a smartphone with the mission of testing that old adage that in space no one can hear you scream.

Challenge accepted.

Challenge accepted.

For instance, a Google Nexus phone will be used for a satellite developed by the University of Surrey’s Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL). Though it will be controlled by a standard computer initially, the phone and its wealth of apps will soon take fate into its own hand apps to do things such as record its own magnetic field while orbiting the Earth, which it will do for the next six months.

But the real mouth-hugging part about it is Cambridge University Space Flight’s “Scream in Space” app, which will take user-submitted screams and play videos of them while in space to see if the onboard microphone picks it up. Ridley Scott lied to us about Prometheus. Don’t let Alien be a lie, too! Images and updates for the satellite can be found on its Facebook page and Twitter account.

To recap the other groundbreaking devices onboard, the SARAL satellite will monitor all oceanic properties; the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat) will look for giant asteroids lurking around our planet; and Canada’s Sapphire is the nation’s first military satellite, which will track space debris and other satellites. We’ll let you know if this motley squad of overachievers sends anything positive back our way. But I ask you this: would a black hole be more or less frightening if it also screamed nonstop?

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Mini-Satellites Will Give Soldiers A Look At What Lies Ahead On The Battlefield

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Sometimes it’s like the Cold War mentality still hasn’t left some people’s minds, though Mother Russia has been substituted with a multitude of countries south of it. The technology is better though, so the paranoia of ‘the enemy’ remains of the moment. In a time when our American education is dropping down the international ladder, our military sits atop, soaking up any money trying to trickle down to anything else. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m reciting the big famous speech from Leftist ’80s Movie About the ’60s. Can you imagine how wacky those movies would have been if someone had foreseen DARPA’s chokehold on future tech?

DARPA’s latest contract went to Raytheon for development of the recently announced SeeMe satellites, which stands for Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements. Essentially, the end product would be a team of 24 small satellites — 3 feet x 1 foot and 25 lbs. — working together to give soldiers visual access to whatever area the satellites are pointed at. The hypothetical situation would be a group of soldiers who need to know what’s on the other side of some big obstacle, and within 90 minutes the satellites can lock onto the area and beam down images to computers or smartphones, showing if any enemies are on the other side. Assuming this would be the only task taken by said satellites, which I doubt, it would be a powerful tool for strategic planning. And standing on the shoulders of giants, Big Brother awaits.