26May2013

Russian Bidder Pays $1.5 million For Leonardo DiCaprio Space Trip

Credit: Getty Images/Virgin Galactic
 
A charity bidder at Cannes has won a journey into space sat next to Leonardo DiCaprio, writes The Hollywood Reporter.Was he lucky or just in the right place at the right time?

The lot, which went for €1.2m (£1m) at the annual AmFAR Cinema Against Aids gala at the Hotel du Cap, was listed in as a “once-in-a-lifetime trip to space with a mystery guest” on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic fleet of ships. A second pair of seats sold for €1.8m (£1.5m) for the same flight, totalling €3m (£2.6m) of the total €20m (£17m) raised, a 50% increase year-on-year.

At the 20th annual event organized by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, DiCaprio emerged as the mystery guest to accompany the winner on a Virgin Galactic flight into space. DiCaprio stars in the film “The Great Gatsby,” which opened the 66th Cannes film festival. Actress Sharon Stone said the winning bidder would spend three days in training with DiCaprio in New Mexico before blast-off. “You don’t get to go to outer space every day with a handsome movie star,” said Stone, dressed in a tight-fitting white dress with a gold snake trim down the back.

The bidding started at 1 million euros ($1.29 million). The auction brochure for the star-studded gala held at the five-star Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, France, near Cannes, said DiCaprio and the winning bidder would be among the first 1,000 people to leave the planet. The winner, Vasily Klyukin, 37, a Russian living in Monaco, said he had always wanted to go into space.

 “I want to be a bit daring,” Klyukin, who works in real estate, told Reuters. “I will have to give up smoking now for sure!” After the successful bid from Klyukin – who also bought a gold and diamond necklace for 400,000 euros ($517,000) – Stone announced two other tickets were available on the flight. They raised another 1.8 million euros ($2.3 million). The auction raised 25 million euros ($32.3 million), more than double last year’s sum of 11 million euros($14.2 million). Credit: ruvr.ru

 

Next SpaceX Capsule Looks Like ‘Alien Spaceship,’ Says Musk

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8021/7394514808_8824f744f3.jpg

The next version of the Dragon spacecraft built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX will look like something truly out of this world, according to Elon Musk, the company’s billionaire founder and CEO.
 
Musk detailed some of the high points of the firm’s much-anticipated Dragon Version 2 to reporters on Thursday, March 28, during a briefing with NASA to celebrate the firm’s second successful cargo mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon capsule returned to Earth Tuesday, March 26, with a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
 
But according to Musk, Dragon Version 2 landings won’t be so … wet. But it may look weird. “There are side-mounted thruster pods and quite big windows for astronauts to see out,” Musk said. “There are also legs to pop out at the bottom. It looks like a real alien spaceship.” [The Rockets and Spaceships of SpaceX (Photo Gallery)]
 
Those pop out legs, Musk added, will be for land touchdowns. Musk is designing the capsule in the hopes that it will make its landings back on Earth, not at sea. The current Dragon space capsule design can only land in water, but Musk said he wants to “push the envelope” with the spacecraft’s next incarnation, be it for manned or unmanned flights.
 
Musk is expected to unveil the design sometime later this year. Meanwhile, SpaceX is already experimenting with land landings using its Grasshopper rocket, a prototype for a completely reusable launch system that has made several test flights — each higher than the last — none of which were aimed at reaching space.
 
Dragon isn’t the only member of the SpaceX fleet getting an upgrade. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket is also going to be retooled for more efficiency with 60 or 70 percent greater capacity and 60 percent more powerful thrusters, Musk added.
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SpaceX’s most recent Dragon mission ended after three weeks attached to the orbiting laboratory. The capsule splashed downin the Pacific Ocean about 214 miles (344 kilometers) off the coast of Baja California to return about 2,670 pounds (1,210 kg) science gear and back to Earth. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX has a $1.6 billion deal with NASA to fly a dozen cargo missions like the one that just ended. The company’s fourth launch is scheduled for the end of September.
 
During its mission, Dragon returned time-sensitive science experiments that were successfully delivered to NASA on time once it arrived on dry land, according to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. Among the experiments were plants grown on station and new alloy mixtures that could help improve metal strength on the ground, International Space Station program scientist Julie Robinson said.
 
NASA also has a commercial resupply contract with Orbital Sciences Corp., a $1.9 billion deal for at least eight unmanned cargo missions with the Virginia-based company’s Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule. Orbital Sciences Corp. is on schedule to launch a test flight of its rocket in mid-April.
The retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet in 2011 leaves the space agency dependent on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronaut crews to and from the space station. Once private space taxis become available, NASA hopes to use them to launch American astronauts on trips to the station.
 
SpaceX is one of four companies currently competing for the NASA crew launch contract. The manned version of SpaceX’s capsule should carry seven astronauts into low-Earth orbit, and the company is scheduled to make another step towards the development of a crewed capsule later this year. NASA and SpaceX are planning to stage a “pad abort test” to gauge the functionality of the company’s “launch abort system” that would need to be in place before a crewed mission can take place, Musk said. Source: Mother Nature Network
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