For almost 350 years, physicists have been trying to decode Newton’s three-body problem – the problem of figuring out how three similar objects or bodies are going to travel in space in a way that fits in with the laws of motion and gravity. The three laws of motion laid down by Isaac Newton in 1687 are these: objects remain in a state of inertia unless acted upon by force, that the relationship between acceleration and applied force is force equals mass times acceleration (F=ma), and that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
So far, Newton’s basic physics of the universe could be explained. But when the same rules were applied to the Moon, Earth and the Sun, Newton ran into difficulty as it became much harder to track these three original bodies with these mathematical rules. However now, scientists have found fixes for special cases. They’ve found the general formula to be elusive and developed a statistical formula that fits the infamous the ‘oldest open question in astrophysics’ in certain scenarios.
While the researchers point out that they have not come up with an exact, complete solution for the three-body problem, they have cracked a statistical method that covers a lot of these three-body to two-body events, one which can be very useful in helping physicists visualise complicated processes. They looked up a couple of centuries of previous research that puts forward the following idea: in unstable, chaotic three-body systems, one of those bodies eventually gets expelled, leaving behind a stable binary relationship between the remaining two.
As per the study, the researchers applied a probability hypothesis called ergodicity to help guide them to their answers, which uses the principle of averages to work out what’s going to happen in a particular system. Importantly, over time, ergodic processes bear little relation to their original state (just like a three-body system). What the new solution does is give scientists an understanding of how the two survivors of a three-body problem are going to behave in a variety of newly stable scenarios. That sort of understanding can be crucial in astrophysics.
Astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Nicholas Stone reportedly explains, “Take three black holes that are orbiting one another,” says Stone. “Their orbits will necessarily become unstable and even after one of them gets kicked out, we’re still very interested in the relationship between the surviving black holes.”
Cover Credit: Dhawal Bhanushali/ Mashable India
Model X to bring astronauts to the verge of space – www.electrive.com
Elon Musk’s private space-faring company SpaceX is now using Tesla Model X’s to ferry NASA astronauts to their respective shuttles on the way to the International Space Station ISS. This will replace the shiny Astro van NASA has used for decades.
According to a spokesperson the first SpaceX launch that is also scheduled to use Model X for ground support, may happen as soon as April. Although some final tests need to be completed before the spacecraft is ready for takeoff, we do know for certain that it will be Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken sitting in the cockpit of the Crew Dragon.
A TV satellite is about to explode following 'irreversible' battery damage – Space.com
Following an unexplained accident, a satellite built by Boeing and operated by DirecTV is at risk of exploding in the coming weeks. To mitigate potential damage to other satellites, the U.S. government will allow the satellite TV provider to move the doomed craft to a higher orbit ahead of schedule.
The satellite, called Spaceway-1, has been orbiting some 22,000 miles (35,400 kilometers) above Earth since 2005, providing high-definition television coverage for many years before being demoted to a backup satellite. (Currently, it is not providing any coverage for customers.)
In December 2019, the craft experienced a “major anomaly” that resulted in “irreversible thermal damage” to its batteries, DirecTV officials wrote last week in a filing to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). While Spaceway-1 has relied on its solar panels for power in recent months, the craft will soon enter its “eclipse season” — a period when the satellite hovers in Earth’s shadow — and the batteries must be activated. When this season begins on Feb. 25, company representatives wrote, the damaged batteries will likely explode upon activation, destroying the satellite and putting other nearby satellites at risk.
Related: The Top 10 Greatest Explosions Ever
The satellite follows a geostationary orbit (meaning it appears to stay put over one particular part of Earth as it rotates), which is the highest orbit possible for in-use satellites. Because of the craft’s high location, redirecting the craft downward — where other in-use satellites are circling — so that it may eventually burn up in the atmosphere is not a viable option. Instead, on Jan. 19, DirecTV requested that the FCC allow the company to relocate the satellite to a higher orbit known as the “graveyard orbit,” roughly 185 miles (300 km) above its current path, where, hopefully, Spaceway-1 can explode in peace.
Normally, decommissioning a satellite involves releasing all of the satellite’s remaining propellant — a process that can take months, depending on how much fuel is left in the tank. Spaceway-1 doesn’t have months to spare; according to the FCC filing, there’s only enough time to release a “nominal” amount of the satellite’s remaining fuel if the craft is to be moved to that great graveyard in the sky before exploding.
The FCC approved DirecTV’s request to decommission Spaceway-1 ahead of schedule and gave the company a waiver to ignore the propellant-depletion rule. According to AT&T, the parent company of DirecTV, the soon-to-explode satellite “is a backup and we do not anticipate any impacts on consumer service as we retire it.”
RIP, Spaceway-1. May your broken body rust in peace in the quiet of space.
Originally published on Live Science.
Stennis Space Center sets stage for Artemis testing in 2020 – Space Daily
All eyes are on south Mississippi with this month’s delivery and installation of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s first core stage to Stennis Space Center for a milestone Green Run test series prior to its Artemis I flight.
The Green Run testing will be the first top-to-bottom integrated testing of the stage’s systems prior to its maiden flight. The testing will be conducted on the B-2 Test Stand at Stennis, located near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and the nation’s largest rocket propulsion test site. Green Run testing will take place over several months and culminates with an eight-minute, full-duration hot fire of the stage’s four RS-25 engines to generate 2 million pounds of thrust, as during an actual launch.
“This critical test series will demonstrate the rocket’s core stage propulsion system is ready for launch on missions to deep space,” Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech said. “The countdown to this nation’s next great era of space exploration is moving ahead.”
NASA is building SLS as the world’s most-powerful rocket to return humans to deep space, to such destinations as the Moon and Mars. Through the Artemis program, NASA will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024. Artemis I will be a test flight without crew of the rocket and its Orion spacecraft. Artemis II will carry astronauts into lunar orbit. Artemis III will send astronauts to the surface of the Moon.
The SLS core stage, the largest rocket stage ever built by NASA, stands 212 feet tall and measures 27.6 feet in diameter. It is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics, miles of cables, propulsion systems and propellant tanks that hold a total of 733,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to fuel the four RS-25 engines during launch. The core stage was designed by NASA and Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama, then manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans by lead contractor Boeing, with input and contributions from more than 1,100 large and small businesses in 44 states.
“Delivering the Space Launch System rocket core stage to Stennis for testing is an epic historical milestone,” said Julie Bassler, the SLS stages manager. “My team looks forward to bringing this flight hardware to life and conducting this vital test that will demonstrate the ability to provide 2 million pounds of thrust to send the Artemis I mission to space.”
The stage was transported from Michoud to Stennis aboard the specially outfitted Pegasus barge. It arrived at the B-2 dock on Jan. 12 and was rolled out onto the test stand tarmac that night. Crews then began installing ground equipment needed for lifting the stage into a vertical position and onto the stand.
The lift was performed Jan. 21-22, which provided optimal weather and wind conditions. Crews now will fully secure the stage in place and to stand systems for testing.
NASA completed extensive modifications to prepare the B-2 stand for the test series. The stand has a notable history, having been used to test Saturn V stages that helped launch astronauts to the Moon as part of the Apollo Program and the three-engine propulsion system of the space shuttle prior to its first flight.
Preparing the stand for SLS core stage testing required upgrades of every major system on the stand, as well as the high pressure system that provides hundreds of thousands of gallons of water needed during a test. It also involved adding 1 million pounds of fabricated steel to the Main Propulsion Test Article framework that will hold the mounted core stage and extending the large derrick crane atop the stand that will be used to lift the SLS stage into place.
Once installed on the stand, operators will begin testing each of the stage’s sophisticated systems. Among other things, they will power up avionics; conduct main propulsion system and engine leak checks; and check out the hydraulics system and the thrust vector control unit that allows for rotating the engines to direct thrust and “steer” the rocket’s trajectory.
They also will conduct a simulated countdown, as well as a “wet dress rehearsal,” in which propellants are loaded and flow throughout the stage system. The rehearsal exercise will end just prior to engine ignition, with the full four-engine hot fire to come in subsequent days.
After the hot fire test, crews plan to perform refurbishment work on the stage and inspect and configure it for shipment to Kennedy Space Center. The stage will be removed from the stand, lowered to its horizontal position on the tarmac and reloaded into Pegasus for the trip to Florida.
At Kennedy, the stage will be joined with other SLS elements and prepared for launch. The next time its four RS-25 engines fire, Artemis I will be taking flight.
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Russia to supply US with six RD-180 rocket engines this year
Moscow (Sputnik) Jan 23, 2020
Russian rocket engine manufacturer NPO Energomash plans to ship six RD-180 rocket engines to the United States this year, government procurement website data shows.
The RD-180 engines will be used to power the first stage of the Atlas V launch vehicles.
In December, Energomash said that it shipped a total of six RD-180 rocket engines to the United States in 2019.
In October, Roscosmos subsidiary Energomash was preparing to deliver three more RD-180 engines for use with Atlas V launch v … read more
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