After decades of delays and false starts, NASA is finally returning to the Moon. The world is eagerly awaiting the launch of Artemis I, the first demonstration flight of both the Space Launch System and Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which combined will send humans out of low Earth orbit for the first time since 1972. But it’s delayed.
While the first official Artemis mission is naturally getting all the attention, the space agency plans to do more than put a new set of boots on the surface — their long-term goals include the “Lunar Gateway” space station that will be the rallying point for the sustained exploration of our nearest celestial neighbor.
Launched aboard an Electron rocket in June, the large CubeSat will hopefully become the first spacecraft to ever enter into a NRHO. By positioning itself in such a way that the gravity from Earth and the Moon influence it equally, maintaining its orbit should require only periodic position corrections. This would not only lower the maintenance burden of adjusting the Lunar Gateway’s orbit, but reduce the station’s propellant requirement.
CAPSTONE is also set to test out an experimental navigation system that uses the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) as a reference point instead of ground-based stations. In a future where spacecraft are regularly buzzing around the Moon, it will be important to establish a navigation system that doesn’t rely on Earthly input to operate.
So despite costing a relatively meager $30 million and only being about as large as a microwave oven, CAPSTONE is a very important mission for NASA’s grand lunar aspirations. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone quite to plan so far. Trouble started just days after liftoff, and as of this writing, the outcome of the mission is still very much in jeopardy.
We love big projects here at Hackaday, and one of the biggest underway is the decarbonization of the electric grid. The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently published a report (PDF) on how placing nuclear reactors on coal plant sites in the US could help us get closer to the zero carbon grid of our dreams.
After evaluating both operating and recently retired coal-fired plants in the US, the researchers determined that around 80% of medium and large coal plants would be good candidates for coal to nuclear (C2N). Up to 263 GWe could be installed at over 315 different sites around the country which would be more than the 145 GWe expected to go offline as the remaining coal plants in the country shut down. Siting nuclear reactors at these existing sites could reduce installation costs 15-35% while also providing jobs for workers in the area who might otherwise be displaced when the coal plants shut down. Local greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) could drop up to 86% along with a significant drop in other air pollutants which would be another win for the fenceline communities living and working around these coal plants.
Nuclear power is certainly not without its drawbacks, but new reactor designs like TerraPower’s Natrium promise lower costs than current light water reactor designs while also being able to reuse the spent fuel from our current nuclear fleet. TerraPower is developing the first C2N project in the US at the Naughton Power Plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming.
One of the peripherals of most desire for a microcomputer-obsessed youth in the 1980s was a printer, probably a dot-matrix device. In the decades since, printers have passed into being almost a piece of discardable junk as cheap inkjets can be found in any garage sale. That’s not to say that there’s not plenty of fun to be had hacking older types though, and there are plenty of small thermal printers out there to play with. [Tanmoydutta] has provided a platform that may help, in the form of an ESP32-C3-based serial printer controller.
On board is a level shifter for the 5 volt printer electronics and all the appropriate connectors for the printer, as well as the ESP and onboard USB interface. It’s a networked print server, but one which is entirely and completely hackable. We think the printer in question is this one sold by Adafruit.
So this board makes easier a whole host of printer-related projects, and should you try it you will no doubt finding yourself ankle-deep in little curly pieces of paper. This printer’s not the only one in town though, don’t forget the cheap Bluetooth printers!