News flash: It won't be like Armageddon. Some pretty good discussion in the article, though I feel the radiation concern is typically over-played. The crew could shield from the sun behind their water supply
and waste tank. Cosmic rays are not easily blocked, though their activity decreases as solar activity increases. Lots of
good options in the engineering trade space.
Yesterday, I stopped by Frederick Municipal Airport, where the local amateur radio club was having its field day. Two sets of radio gear and some antennas, along with some guys to talk with were OK, but what caught my eye was the power
system they were using: turn-key solar power system built into a trailer including solar panels, batteries, and a 120V inverter. They were operating at a power surplus, so
charging the batteries while using the radios. Trailers can be purchased at various sizes.
I guess that's how some people would read the fact that Boeing is developing its own capsule with an eye towards affordability and short development times. I'm not sure how this fits on the talk/action scale, though
the fact that Bigelow is involved moves it towards action for me.
They discuss the fact that the capsule is meant for short missions. I hope that they're building it in a modular way, so
that parts intended for longer durations can be swapped out as they come online.
Have you ever bought a new piece of electronics, turned it on, and found that nothing (or very little) happens? Whether it's
a hum where music should be, clicking instead of motion, the item you purchased just didn't work.
Had you ever thought of just leaving it on and seeing if it would work eventually?
Well, that's what basically happened with the Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) on the most-recently-launched GOES satellite. Early in testing, the SXI was turned on and didn't respond as expected.
After analyzing all the data the team had, they decided to just turn it on and see if it would come on over time. After
16 hours of power application, it did!
Before Elon Musk built SpaceX, he spent a lot of time trying to figure out why space hardware is so expensive. If his launch
prices hold, he likely found the critical problems. He discusses what he learned here.
USA Today has an article about the proposed mission to an asteroid in 2025. It's not the worst article I've seen on the subject, though it spends
most of its time just listing problems (can't use a space shuttle, need heavy-lift, radiation environment, low gravity on
the asteroid) rather than countering the problems with practical solutions.
While the data still needs to be verified, it turns out that the Kepler spacecraft spotted 706 candidate planets in its first 43 days of operation. According to the article, it takes three transits of the star to become a candidate,
so the maximum orbit period of one of these planets is 21.5 days. This is a huge number of planets, though I'm curious about
how that many very close planets (short orbital periods) will affect the number of those with longer orbital periods.
I'm of the mindset that just because heavy lift (Saturn V) was how we sent humans beyond Earth orbit last time, it should
be our only option in method this time. A revolutionized medium-lift industry could do the job as well and cheaper while
upping flight rates and decreasing costs for others to unheard-of levels.
The Japanese solar sail spacecraft IKAROS, just sent a picture of its deployed sail back to Earth. It did so by deploying a small camera that took the pictures and transmitted them to
the spacecraft. It's almost like we live in the future.
As a friend said, three of the biggest news items in space travel (Hayabusa return, Falcon 9 flight, and IKAROS) over the
last weeks didn't involve NASA. We live in interesting times.
Iridium just signed with SpaceX to launch their next series of satellites. The deal is billed as the largest launch services purchase ever at $492M, with a number of launches scheduled between 2015 and 2017.
There will be 66 satellites in the constellations, plus spares, and their website discusses some interesting hosted payload opportunities. Iridium did mention that they'll be contracting with other launch providers. I'll be curious to see how many spacecraft
will fly on each Falcon, and more curious to see how things change over the next few years in spaceflight.
After further reading on the hosted payloads: Wow! The payloads can weigh 50kg each, draw 50W of average power, and have
It looks like NASA found a route to start shutting down Constellation without formally canceling it. They've essentially
invoked a law that many (at least in Congress) forgot about called the Anti-Deficiency Act, which says that contractors must
keep enough money in reserve to cover cancellation costs. There's discussion at Space Politics, and someone apparently in the know, Jim Muncy, had a comment of his on another site reposted at 10:45am on the 10th (no
In my opinion, this sort of thing happens all the time. It's hailed as brilliant if the maneuver works in favor of your agenda
and as counter to the law if it works against. In the end, there's lots of noise and confusion with very little action.
Abby Sunderland, the 16-year old who was trying to sail around the world solo, has been rescued. More details are coming, but when she lost radio contact she activated her EPIRB, which linked through the SARSAT System and got information to rescue crews.
The company posted an update on their website. No really new information, though I like their statement that SpaceX developed two rockets and three launch
pads, and launched six rockets for the cost of the Ares I launch tower.
Again, excellent achievement. While some in other comments compare it to a "Wright Brothers" moment, I come closer to agreeing
with others that it's more of a "Henry Ford" moment. Looking to make space more commonplace and available to more people.
Jeff Foust has some political statements made after the successful flight of SpaceX. My personal favorite is Senator Hutchison's faint praise, to which Elon replied
that SpaceX employs people in Texas. The comments get a little weird, with some people going to great lengths to try and
claim the flight wasn't really successful, but even if it was, it doesn't mean much anyway.
Note: I will always be a bit biased in favor of SpaceX. I first met Elon Musk at The 2001 Mars Society Conference. I've
talked with him a few times, and really think that he has the possibility of cracking spaceflight wide open in a good way.
Of course, being in favor of humans moving into space, I'm in favor of the cracking. I'm also in favor of Obama's Space
Plan, feeling that it has a much better chance of putting hundreds or thousands people into orbit in the next 10-20 years
than any previous plan I've seen before. All the while, it strikes me as odd that The Obama Administration's answer to every
other issue has been 'more government', so why is space different in their eyes?
Falcon 9 flew to orbit today! I was watching the spotty video feed through the first attempt to fire, then had to travel.
Got the pleasant news in my email box when I got home. Hopefully, more to talk about later.
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