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Alex Brown

Alex Brown Alex Brown is a Technology reporter for National Journal.
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Pentagon Wants Help Tracking Space Debris

March 12, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow If America wants to retain its space dominance, it will have to invest in tracking the debris that has made Earth's orbit increasingly hard to navigate, military officials told a Senate panel Wednesday. "This is a very serious problem, and I've seen nothing yet that will be technically viable for...

NASA Is Calling All Nerds to Help Save the World

March 10, 2014 NASA needs a hand finding asteroids that threaten our planet—so it's turning to crowdsourcing. The space agency announced Monday it's looking for data jockeys to help it track asteroids, including ones that could come close—in space distances— to the Earth. At stake is not only the planet's survival, but $35,000...

NASA: Sorry, Pluto's Replacement Isn't Real

March 10, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow "Planet X" sounds like something from a comic book or intergalactic space opera. It's actually a hypothetical planet scientists have used to explain a variety of astronomical events. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist. NASA's sky-surveying spaceship has turned up all sorts of findings—but a giant gas planet out past Neptune isn't...

PayPal Billionaire, Boeing Battle Over Who Can Build a Better Space Taxi

March 6, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has a plan to launch military satellites that he claims could save the government hundreds of millions, but to make it work, he says he needs Congress's help to break up a military-industrial monopoly. "Competition and the free market is a good thing," Musk told Congress...

NASA Is Budgeting for 'Star Wars' Engines

March 5, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow If NASA wants to land on an asteroid by 2025, it's going to need better ion thrusters. You know, ion thrusters, the engines from Star Wars. TIE fighter, after all, stands for twin ion engine. The agency's fiscal 2015 budget, released Tuesday, includes $133 million for the early stages of...

Air Force to Congress: Save the Space Fence

March 5, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Months after sequestration cuts shut down the country's "Space Fence," the Air Force budget unveiled Tuesday preserves $2 billion to build a successor to the program that helps keep space vessels safe from high-speed orbital debris. For the Air Force, keeping its new radar installations off the Pentagon's budget-cut chopping...

What to Do When Your Space Helmet Fills With Water

March 3, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow This week's NASA report on a near-fatal spacewalk reads like something out of your worst nightmare. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano spent nearly an hour floating in space as his helmet slowly filled with water—up to 1.5 liters—engulfing his eyes, nose and ears. And while his July 16 spacewalk ended safely,...

Coming Soon: Free Internet From Space

February 20, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow If all goes according to plan, North Koreans will soon have free, uncensored Internet provided by satellites the size of toaster ovens. That's part of a project called Outernet, which hopes to launch hundreds of tiny satellites—known as CubeSats—to provide Internet to every person on Earth. Forty percent of the...

Moon Lasers Are Creating the Galaxy’s Fastest Internet

February 19, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Hong Kong has the world's fastest Internet. Internet on the moon is 10 times faster. How do our lunar-exploring spaceships get buffer-free video? Lasers. NASA and MIT are shooting "lasers full of Internet" to a ship named LADEE that's exploring the moon's atmosphere. According to NASA, speeds have reached 622...

Feds Shoot Down Drone Delivery of Valentine's Day Flowers

February 12, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Your Valentine's flowers will not be arriving by drone this year. A Michigan florist's promotional stunt may have excited flight-loving lovers, but the Federal Aviation Administration says it's shutting the operation down. "Commercial operations are only authorized on a case-by-case basis," FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said in an email. "A...