NASA Begin Drop Tests of Orion Crew Module

The Orion module’s first mission may be five years away at the earliest, but this hasn’t stopped NASA from proceeding with its development well in advance. NASA’s impact tests for the module have already begun using a mockup of the spacecraft carrying a dummy crew aboard. This series of tests allows the engineers working on the craft to analyse how human bodies would be affected when the module lands in the ocean on its return to Earth.

Engineers at the Langley Research Center have been responsible for running the tests, where the module mockup has been dropped into a 20-foot deep Hydro Impact Basin from a height of 16-feet in the first of the tests. Contained within the capsule are a pair of test dummies, a 105-pound woman and a 220-pound man, which will allow the tests to show the effects of the landing on the different body types of those that could be aboard.

This is the first of a series of nine planned tests, with the remainder of the tests set to measure how the capsule holds up in a number of scenarios that could affect the capsule’s descent and landing. Future tests are set to include simulated factors such as wind and wave conditions as well as drops from different heights to see how it holds up. All of this data will then be fed back into the development of Orion in order to ensure that the capsule is safe for the astronauts that will ride it in future.

Orion is intended to be utilized on deep space trips to Mars and beyond along with the SLS rocket, which may be enough to kick-start a new era of manned space exploration within the next decade.

NASA to Get Budget Boost For 2016

The continuously underfunded space agency, NASA, finally got some good news on the financial front today. As part of their budget proposal for 2016, Congress included a considerable budget increase for NASA, in excess of what they had requested.

The total sum that would be budgeted for NASA is the sizable sum of $19.3 billion. A number in excess of the Obama administration’s promise of $18.5 billion, which is an increase of $1.27 billion from the sum provided to them in 2015. The financial windfall couldn’t come at a better time for NASA either. For starters, it provides $1.24 billion for the Commercial Crew Program alone. With NASA having recently ordered launches from both of the companies involved in the program for as soon as 2017, with a report delivered with the spending bill making it clear to NASA that the new funds should be put towards keeping the program on track, with the natural assumption being that Congress wish to reduce their dependency on Russia to access the ISS.

The Commercial Crew Program is not the only thing that NASA needs budgeting, either. NASA are planning for $2 billion to go towards the giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which is intended to make manned trips into deep space or to Mars. And with many different configurations of the SLS planned, its budget requirements make sense. The SLS’ crew capsule, Orion, is also receiving a large sum of money, after flagging due to financial troubles and having its first test flight pushed back by two years.

As well as the big projects, other NASA agencies that will benefit from the budget increase are the Science division, receiving $300 million more than 2015, including $175 million to be put towards a mission to Europa, one of Jupiter’s icy moons. It would require specialist modules (as well as to be launched from the SLS), and the timeline is tight, with a mission to take place no later than 2022.

It seems like Congress has finally taken note of NASA’s recent budget complaints, and this seems to be the first step towards making the next decade a very interesting time for space researchers and enthusiasts alike.

Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Introduction


We’re back again with our latest Logitech review, and following on from the stunning Logitech G502 Proteus Core gaming mouse, we now have the G910 Orion Spark, the big brother of the also recently reviewed Logitech Atlas Spectrum G410 TKL Keyboard. The G410 was certainly unique, offering a lot of cool features that put it on a lot of people’s wish list. The G910 keeps pretty much every feature we loved about the G410, but it’s bigger and better, with even more cool features and, of course, a full-size keyboard design with a number pad.

With the G410 review behind us, I’m expecting equal performance from the G910 and hopefully even better performance courtesy of the added features. Equipped with the fantastic Romer-G mechanical switches, which are exclusive to Logitech, the Orion Spark is finely tuned for competitive gaming. Romer-G have a shorter actuation than most mechanical keys, meaning response times are lower and you can use less effort to deploy rapid commands.

“Exclusive new Romer-G mechanical switches with up 25 percent faster actuation for an edge in matches where every millisecond matters. Improved durability allows Romer-G switches to weather the wear and tear of intense gaming for years to come.”

The keyboard is also compatible with the cool ARX Control system, a mobile app that allows you to track stats of your gaming, system and more. Even better, the keyboard has a built-in phone dock to help keep that information at your fingertips.

Equipped with LED RGB 16.8 million colours lighting, you can tune every single key on a per-key basis, allowing for endless combinations that make it great to zone out your favourite gaming profiles, or just give it some cool visual flair.

Clocking in at just 1.5KG the G910 is fairly lightweight, especially given that it’s quite large, so best measure your available desk space if you’re rocking a smaller desk.

The packaging is really nicely designed, showing off the RGB lighting effects, as well as some details of the exclusive Romer-G switches.

Around the back, a little more detail on the same, so perhaps it’s best we just open the box and take a closer look ourselves.

Take the slip cover off the box, there’s a very durable inner box with a cool G logo cut into it; doesn’t make the keyboard any better, but I thought it looked cool.

Orion Space Capsule Successfully Recovered by US Navy

Another successful test by NASA this week, their Orion capsule that’s designed to get astronauts back into space after landing on another planet has been recovered by the US Navy after it was placed in a situation mimicking a splashdown in the pacific ocean. The retrieval was practice for NASAs mission to send Orion 3600 miles above the earth. This is due to go ahead in December this year but other aspects of the Orion capsule are being looked at. Orion will perform a real splashdown after returning to earth which is why a practice run is needed as NASA will use the capsule again for future missions.

The test recovery went well, the US Navy dive teams based aboard the USS Anchorage recovery vessel managed to recover the Orion capsule from the ocean using a cradle and winch system. The same team will be used to recover the vessel after it returns from its actual mission. This will be the first time NASA has recovered a capsule from the sea in a real mission since 1975 with the Apollo Soyuz mission.

Thanks to Tweaktown for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of Tweaktown.