The Vega lightweight launcher continued its track record of success today, lofting the GÖKTÜRK-1 Earth observation spacecraft from the Spaceport on a mission that adds another operator to those entrusting their initial payloads for launch by Arianespace.
Departing from the French Guiana launch site at the exact liftoff time of 10:51:44 a.m. local time, Vega delivered the 1,060-kg. GÖKTÜRK-1 into a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of approximately 700 km.
The four-stage Vega’s [...]
The Expedition 50 crew is getting ready for next week’s arrival and capture of Japan’s sixth resupply ship, the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6). The six station residents also worked on a pair of spacesuits and conducted a variety of human research experiments.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is set to launch its HTV-6 resupply ship Friday at 8:26 a.m. EST from the Tanegashima Space Center. Nicknamed “Kounotori,” the HTV-6 is delivering fresh fruit, experiment hardware, Cubesats, [...]
NASA's Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft has made its first close dive past the outer edges of Saturn's rings since beginning its penultimate mission phase on Nov. 30.
Cassini crossed through the plane of Saturn's rings on Dec. 4 at 5:09 a.m. PST (8:09 a.m. EST) at a distance of approximately 57,000 miles (91,000 kilometers) above Saturn's cloud tops. This is the approximate location of a faint, dusty ring produced by the planet's small moons Janus and Epimetheus, and just 6,800 miles (11,00 [...]
Have you ever watched a lightning storm in awe? Join the crowd. Oddly, nobody knows exactly how lightning is produced. What is known is that charges slowly separate in some clouds causing rapid electrical discharges (lightning), but how electrical charges get separated in clouds remains a topic of much research. Lightning usually takes a jagged course, rapidly heating a thin column of air to about three times the surface temperature of the Sun.
The resulting shock wave starts supersonically [...]
The Space Show, hosted by David Livingston at www.TheSpaceShow.com, will have the following guests this week:
1. Monday, December 5, 2016, 2-3:30 PM PST (22-23:30 GMT)
Space policy in a Trump Administration discussed with James A. M. Muncy.
James A. M. (Jim) Muncy is the President and founder of PoliSpace. Mr. Muncy started PoliSpace, an independent space policy consultancy, in early 2000 to help space entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs succeed at the nexus of space business, technology, [...]
I reread several times Jons’ post on NASA under the next administration that recommends against having NASA focus on anything one finds important. I think he made good points throughout and it should have made for lively discussion. I didn’t comment there as I didn’t have anything useful to add. I felt that I should have had strong opinions to throw out there, but couldn’t find them. A lot of people that used to jump in discussion of that nature were also conspicuous by their silence. Could it be because many of us have become indifferent to the flagship programs of NASA?
All of us know of good work by NASA in various programs. How long has it been since the NASA flagship program was the one that produced the good work? ISS, SLS, Orion and the James Webb telescope seem to be trudging along with the press releases at regular intervals celebrating some milestone or another. It is so hard for someone of my interests to see any of them leading to useful space settlement and development that indifference is probably the best to be hoped for. The alternative is to see them as roadblocks to progress and the enemy. I have enough on my plate without adding gratuitous enemies.
In response to someone calling for one of the flagships to be cancelled, Ed Wright noted that the congressional funding would just be diverted to another similar program by the congressman that kept the first one going. That’s just the way it is as SLS morphed from Aries, which derived from Shuttle, which kept the Saturn/Apollo teams together and so on. Tilting at that windmill will just lead to busted lances and bruises.
So what do I want NASA to do? I don’t know. I accept Jon’s point that it shouldn’t be anything I am passionate about. That is about as far as I can get. Some will no doubt suggest that NASA should put a base on the moon or some other favorite direction. Does anyone believe that ISS on the moon would be any more productive than ISS in LEO?
About half a layer down are the commercial partnerships. I thought it was far more separate than that up until the commercial crew awards. A couple of capsules to go on slightly modified existing launch systems for $6B+ and over half a decade sounds like the same thing only different. Billions for assured safety even as ISS crew transport is dependent on Russia, and Russia has acknowledged QA problems on some of its’ launch systems. Rand Simberg has covered this ground on his blog and in print. If there were a serious push for crew transport, Dragon 1 would have had taxi life support and fast rendezvous capability years ago for a fraction of the money. Boeing and Sierra Nevada could have pushed something through just months later if results rather than process oriented. I think it is sufficient to say that I find the current efforts uninspired.
Stepping a bit farther out, there are the efforts of SpaceX Blue Origin, and ULA among others for reusable orbital systems, or at least some of the components. I guess I am a bit jaded on the various hypes and want to see some gas-n-go operations before I get exited. It is basic math that a weekly turnaround vehicle of 10 ton capacity could put 500+ tons of material in orbit per year per tail number. Basic observation also is that once development is done more vehicles are relatively low cost. Knowing that one company with a handful of such vehicles could launch far more annually than than the whole world does now is also less than inspiring until I see it start happening. It will happen sooner or later, and likely from a direction I don’t expect.
The suborbital companies that I expected to lead the way don’t seem to be forging ahead at the pace I expected. Lynx on hold, Blue Origin is a question, and Space Ship Two seems like it would be better named Bransons’ Braggadocio. For suborbital research flights of RLVs, Masten seems to be the last man standing. I have posted my thoughts that suborbital companies would develop teams, vehicles, and procedures for fast turnaround that would scale into orbital systems with the same characteristics. It’s hard to see that happening right now with the possible exception of New Sheppard.
I don’t see the big idea concepts coming together even by the private players. The Mars Musk plan doesn’t seem credible or well thought out. Monster rockets don’t have a good track record for affordability, or even reliability for that matter.
Space will be developed. It will likely happen in a manner that I don’t expect. That makes my chances of making a useful contribution quite low absent pile$ of luck. So right at the moment I am a bit indifferent to the current state of play in space development, or maybe it’s just holiday blues. Either way, I’m going to try to go to Space Access next year to try to shake this lethargy
Familiar stars in Orion and constellations across the sky now have official names. Over the past year, the International Astronomical Union, the only body officially tasked with naming stars, approved names already in common use for 227 of the brightest stars, including the most famous stars on the sky Sirius, Polaris, and Betelgeuse. Pictured, the constellation of Orion is shown with several of these now-official star names superposed. Spanning about 30 degrees, this breath-taking vista stretch [...]
This wide, sharp telescopic view reveals galaxies scattered beyond the stars of the Milky Way at the northern boundary of the high-flying constellation Pegasus. Prominent at the upper right is NGC 7331. A mere 50 million light-years away, the large spiral is one of the brighter galaxies not included in Charles Messier's famous 18th century catalog.
The disturbed looking group of galaxies at the lower left is well-known as Stephan's Quintet. About 300 million light-years distant, the quintet [...]
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is getting the last cargo mission of 2016 ready for launch next week. It’s sixth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) nick-named “Kounotori” has been in processing for months and will lift off Dec. 9 from Tanegashima, Japan for a three-day trip to the station. The payload aboard HTV-6 will include potable water, fresh food, seven Cubesats, a second small satellite deployer, hardware for new experiments, high-definition video cameras and lithium-ion batteries [...]