On Wednesday the new spaceship "Dawn" will be launched by NASA. NASA calls it the "Prius of space" because the spacecraft is relatively compact, light, and needs only a small amount of fuel. Dawn is the first spacecraft that will travel to one celestial body (asteroid Vesta), study it, and then fly to another celestial body (the dwarf planet Ceres) for further research - the whole trip will take about seven years. The latest technology advances will soon allow NASA to make spacecrafts the size of cars which also use little fuel.
Design cars suitable for space missions, or turn spacecrafts into cars. Your "vehicle" can be shown in space, on the planets, or on earth (e.g. "space cars" being used in Formula 1 races.)
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This contest is fueled by the following news: NASA is getting ready to long pending launch of spacecraft Dawn, first trial is scheduled for tomorrow September 27, 2007 reports Reuters.
Dawn will be launched on a mission to study the asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter. Aim of the spacecraft is to explore two asteroid belt residents Vesta and Ceres, which was once considered an asteroid and now a dwarf planet from August 2006 according to the new classification. It is likely that the Vesta can be explored in 2011 and Ceres in 2015.
Spacecraft should have been launched in July but NASA had postponed the launch time several times due to technical snags and due to the commitments of the space.
If everything goes according to plans, Dawn will become first spacecraft, which traveled the asteroids owing to high effective ion engine. NASA calls it a space car for its size and low fuel use. According to the estimations of scientists, these two asteroids were formed in different parts of Solar system approximately 4.6 billion years back. According to the assumptions of scientists, Ceres can store significant water reserves in the form of ice and at the same time, surface of Vesta, most probably, is covered with ancient lava streams.
In case, if the car like spacecraft cannot be lifted off by the end of October 2007, then NASA should wait for another 15 years for mutual configuration of planets and asteroids, which us favorable for space mission.
The history of manned space flights and space tourism: The prophetic words of the Queen about flights into space "on trade union vouchers " began to turn into reality before our eyes. Already a seat can be booked on spaceship and you can go into orbit on your own money, which, to be true, is still very expensive. And it was Russia that opened the era of space tourism in the first year of the 21st century, exactly 40 years after Gagarin's flight.
In the last century, people went into space only on official service. For the majority of them - professional cosmonauts and astronauts - it was the main job. It is true that sometimes official deputations into orbit also existed. For example, in December 1990, the Japanese television broadcasting company TBS sent journalist Toyohiro Akiyama to the space station "Mir". Earlier, in the same way, American Charles Walker, an employee of McDonnell Douglas., flew on the shuttle three times.
With the onset of the new millennium, it became possible to go beyond the atmosphere without being on the list of any team of cosmonauts and astronauts but on our own wish -as a tourist. The first such space traveler was American millionaire Dennis Tito, who in April 2001, went to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian spacecraft "Soyuz TM-31". It was then that the "space tourism" concept appeared in the global media. True, Tito himself (and his successors) called themselves not tourists, but spaceflight participants. This term is used in official circles also.
After Dennis Tito, five more space tourists visited the ISS: Mark Shuttleworth (South Africa, 2002) and U.S. citizens - Gregory Olsen (2005), Anousheh Ansari (2006), Charles Simonyi (2007) and& Richard Garriott (2008). (Incidentally, the last three space travelers were born in Iran, Hungary and the UK respectively). And in early 2009, Charles Simonyi began preparing for his second flight. Other candidates of space tourism too passed pre-flight training. Among them, for example, was the Japanese businessman Daisuke Enomoto, who was withdrawn just before the takeoff due to the exacerbation of chronic kidney disease. Anoushe Ansari replaced Daisuke Enomoto on the flight to the ISS. The standby to Gregory Olsen was Russian Sergey Kostenko, head of the U.S. company Space Adventures, which selects the clients for space travel.
The flight to the ISS begins with a fairly gentle takeoff of the rocket and completely endurable 3 - 4 fold positive accelerations, for which the major factor of space flight comes into play - weightlessness. For two days, till the "Soyuz" reaches the station, the tourist will have plenty of time to observe the beauty of our planet from an altitude of more than 350 miles and feel like a real astronaut.
Thereafter, follows docking and about a weeks stay on the ISS. The space station was not designed as a hotel and tourist status does not mean the arrangement of any special services onboard. However, the new astronauts still do not expect these. On the contrary, they try to feel like full-fledged members of the crew. But, of course, their training is not on a par with the training of a professional astronaut. In the initial period, it caused such a strong fear, that NASA refused to allow tourists to the space station. And with the support of Russian Space Agency, which needed extra-budgetary funds, Dennis Tito, still went into space. Although he was an American, he was prohibited from appearing in the American segment of the ISS.