space exploration

On Tuesday, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a plan to send interstellar probes to the Alpha Centauri star system. The audacious project would use a giant laser on Earth to accelerate scores of postage-stamp-size spacecraft to nearly the speed of light. They would cross the void in just 20 years — virtually no time on the scale of interstellar travel.

Liftport

It might seem like a space-age fantasy, but there will be a lot of a serious talk in Seattle this weekend about a “space elevator.”

You might think of it as a space railroad. In theory, the technology could make going into orbit as cheap and easy as buying a first-class airline ticket.

The idea calls for a cable that stretches from a spot on the equator out to an anchor orbiting thousands of miles in space. On that cable, a remote-controlled cabin or elevator zips up and down.

The historic first docking of a commercial spacecraft at the International Space Station orbiting above Earth happened without a hitch today, as SpaceX's Dragon capsule arrived with supplies for the crew orbiting high above Earth.

Just before 10 a.m. ET, astronauts aboard the space station successfully grabbed the capsule with a robotic arm. A little after noon ET, the pulled the Dragon into its docking space.

The Associated Press

Whether they ever manage to get any platinum out of an asteroid, Bellevue-based Planetary Resources could become known for surrounding Earth with telescopes.  

That’s the first item in the “prospecting” stage of the space company’s effort to get precious metals from asteroids, using robotic space-craft.