Friday, October 29, 2010
Tens Billions of Earthlike Planets?
6:20 am est
That's the estimate
based on long-term observations in Hawaii. We'll know more when Kepler
's results are in.
There must be quite a bit of politics and gaming involved when a space mission launches to test something that someone on
the ground has been working on for a long time. The person on the ground knows the space mission is coming, and may need
to rush their final research to get a paper out before the spacecraft's results are published.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Vesta: The Movie
7:34 am est
An earlier post
talked about how Hubble was helping the Dawn
team in their planned approach to Vesta. Here
's the movie.
6:10 am est
It's hard to think of the Earth as having a changing gravity field, but it does. It turns out that rainfall
can affect the local gravity.
Virgin Galactic Going Orbital?
6:07 am est
Sir Richard Branson drops more than a hint
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Rand Simberg Comparing Astronauts to Chilean Miners
7:44 pm est
Guess who actually had it better in some ways? Better read the article
A First Step in a new Direction for NASA?
7:40 pm est
I may write more about this later, but one of the remaining roles that would be left for NASA if its share of flights into
space decreases is space rescue. It would be expensive, but arguably worth it, to keep a rocket and spacecraft on standby
ready to rescue a craft or the inhabitants of a space station. In order to do so well, standardized interfaces are required,
and today a website
came online specifying just such an interface.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
New Winds, New Tack
8:55 am est
I've spoken with Bob Zubrin many times in the past about launch architectures, and this
is a major departure for him. More discussion here
Friday, October 15, 2010
We Built our Satellite too Robustly
9:01 pm est
One of the first things I learned in satellite operations is that most of them aren't designed to be shut down easily. I'm
aware of at least two cases where a satellite came back to life after being 'decommissioned,' being a nuisance to others who
use the same frequency. The case of Galaxy 15
is unique, in that the ground lost control of the satellite a few months ago, and the company that built it expected the
craft to lose earth lock in August. Well, it's still going
Selection Document Released on SpaceX's Potentially Huge Contract
4:47 pm est
While there's been much discussion on SpaceX
's potential as a supplier for the Commercial Crew and Cargo
efforts, there are other areas where NASA needs launch services. Given the retirement of the Delta II
booster, there's a big hole in relatively cheap launches. NASA and SpaceX moved a little closer
today, though I'll note that given the potential payout of the contract ($15B) and cost of a Falcon 9 to geostationary orbit
($56M), it would take about 267 launches to max out the contract.
Update: While I'm still pretty happy with my snarkiness on the 267 launches comment, the launch services are spread among
many providers. It'll take a lot fewer of the other companys' launches to max out the contract. Also, it looks like today's
press release was more about the source selection statement on the linked web page instead of the award, which happened in
Sunday, October 10, 2010
NewSpace Works on Sundays
8:03 pm est
Congrats to SpaceShip2! First free flight
Now, if they can just get an engine working...
Treats for the Body and Mind
Halloween is coming. My wife and I take turns staying at home, and this year is mine. When I do that, I usually break out
the telescope on the front lawn and let kids (and their parents) glimpse the cosmos. This year, it looks like Jupiter and/or
the moon will be on the agenda.
6:57 am est
Saturday, October 9, 2010
How to Express?
I've been discussing space policy on and off with varying groups of people since February, covering cheap contractors, propellant
depots, heavy lift, and many other dimensions. I haven't been able to pull my thoughts together into a coherent presentation
so far, but a presentation in November may drive me to do so.
8:41 pm est
Where to start...
Friday, October 8, 2010
Hubble Helps out Dawn
8:34 pm est
Another Water-Rich Asteroid
8:19 pm est
UCF researchers have found another asteroid
with water and organics on it. That makes two so far, though it's unclear how many they've surveyed. That info would help
form an estimate of the percentages of asteroids with water. By a quick eye look, both 24 Themis
and 65 Cybele
are in similar orbits, so it's possible that the researchers have found a line where, any asteroids beyond are likely to
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Windy Day to Visit Discovery
Just wrapped up a multi-day meeting at Kennedy Space Center. The last afternoon was spent on a tour of the complex. Got
to head out to pad 39A, where Discovery is undergoing final preps for launch in a couple weeks. Didn't have a big
camera with me, but that's what cell phones are for nowadays.
7:29 pm est
Visitors centers focusing on past achievements always give me mixed feelings. I may write about it more later.