Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

NASA Heads Back to the Moon, This Time With Robots and Laser-Powered Space Internet

NASA LADEEElon Musk wants us to go to Mars, which sounds cool and scary. Meantime, NASA is headed back to the moon.

Last night, the U.S. space agency sent up its excellently named Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, via its also-excellently named Wallops Flight Facility launch pad in Virginia.

LADEE is orbiting the Earth right now, but in a month it will be circling the moon, where it will conduct a series of experiments, without the aid of onboard astronauts.

Perhaps most interesting to someone reading this site will be a Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration, which sounds like it will make your high-speed broadband look like a string-and-tin-can operation.

The Washington Post has a nicely written FAQ about the mission. And here’s what the launch looked like last night:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus