** The CRS-17 science and technology payloads set to go to the ISS next week aboard a SpaceX Cargo Dragon:
** Living and Working in Space: Microbes
As we search beyond Earth, microbes play a key role in the space environment. Researchers analyze single celled organisms like bacteria and fungi to help uncover important facts that will support deep-space missions. Along with understanding how microbes adapt and react on the International Space Station, scientist stress the importance of planetary protection. The goal of protecting Earth from potentially harmful microbes are important to human survival and the universe at large.
** Expedition 59 Inteviews with Army News Service KCTS and KUOW Radio April 24, 2019:
** The Space Show – Mon, 04/22/2019 – Daniel Suarez discussed his new science fiction novel,Delta-v, and “deep space mining, space economics, commercial space, policy and regulations, government space activities, risk taking, lunar return, Mars and much much more”.
Investment in the satellite and space industry has evolved from traditional government sources to backing by a couple of billionaire Unicorn investors, and now to an explosion in venture capital and angel investors driving the industry. This new wave of funding has taken the industry from a dozen or so privately funded space companies globally in 2009 to 435 today, that have received over $20 billion in investment. Chad Anderson, CEO of Space Angels discusses many of the exciting trends occurring in the space industry including where investment funding is going, and more importantly why. He talks about his prediction that 2018 would be the year of SmallSat and that 2019 will be the year of Commercial Space Travel. Chad also discusses the potential for earth observation to follow the path of GPS and become tightly intertwined in our everyday lives.
Xiamen University Aerospace Academy with Beijing Lingkong Tianxing Technology Co., Ltd. successfully launched and recovered the reusable winged suborbital JiaGeng-1 technology tester rocket. (max alt 26.2Km)
Chinese launch startup ‘Space Transportation’ today carried out a test flight of a reusable winged suborbital tech demonstrator rocket with a mass of 3,700 kg. Named Jiageng-1, it was jointly developed with Xiamen University. https://t.co/UOXaP0NxrPpic.twitter.com/OaeSlc2Ihs
Images of the test flight below. Jiageng-1 has a max altitude of 26.2 km and max speed of 4,300 km/h. It is a step toward the development of the larger Tianxing I-1 vertical takeoff, horizontal landing launcher. pic.twitter.com/uqIHIuQIBF
** NASA documentary on Rocket Lab Electron launch of 10 student built CubeSats sponsored by the agency:
In December 2018, a Rocket Lab Electron rocket launched from remote Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand carrying a NASA payload of 10 small satellites called Educational Launch of Nanosatellites-19 (ELaNa-19). The Electron is one of two vehicles NASA selected for its Venture Class Launch Service, in which small satellites, called CubeSats, fly on rockets designed especially for their needs. In this documentary, learn how the first launch of the Venture Class era demonstrates how the right ride into space can enable the designers of small satellites—from high schools and universities to NASA field centers—to dream big. To launch with ELaNa, visit http://www.nasa.gov/elana.
>>>Rocket Lab’s next launch is set for no earlier than May 4th and has a 2 week long window.
The satellites on board this mission will represent Rocket Lab’s heaviest launch to date, with the total payload weighing in at more than 180 kg. There are three research and development experiments on board for the U.S. Air Force, including:
The Space Plug and Play Architecture Research CubeSat-1 (SPARC-1) mission, sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), is a joint Swedish-United States experiment to explore technology developments in avionics miniaturization, software defined radio systems, and space situational awareness (SSA).
The Falcon Orbital Debris Experiment (Falcon ODE), sponsored by the United States Air Force Academy, will evaluate ground-based tracking of space objects, such as space junk.
The Harbinger research payload is a commercial small satellite built by York Space Systems that will demonstrate the ability of an experimental commercial system to meet government space capability requirements.
Just a few more months before the body assembly for our Dream Chaser® spacecraft is shipped up to our Louisville, CO facility from Fort Worth, TX. Watch this video to learn more about this state-of-the-art technology: https://t.co/Hn68PPkmKo
While we may not be showing it off publicly, we still continue to work on the crew design through an agreement with NASA. We actually meet with the Commercial Crew Program regularly and brief milestones to them through that agreement.
Stratolaunch, usurper of Spruce Goose’s biggest-ever title, might seem equally ridiculous. Composite construction, two fuselages, six engines and other bits hacked together from old 747s, lots and lots of wheels and bogeys… But it flies, and apparently flies very well.
What we do not know is whether Stratolaunch has an economically viable future. Built to heft huge rockets to 35,000ft for air-launch, it is expected to start commercial life in 2020 launching Pegasus rockets, whose payload capacity is less than 400kg – a load easily orbited by any number of existing launchers. Moreover, Pegasus – normally air-launched from a modified Lockheed L-1011 – has flown only 35 times. Not a lot of demand there.
Blue Origin is “going vertical” with its new headquarters and research and development facility in Kent, as they are expanding their world-class team, and will be building a new 250,000-square-foot facility that will support their new growth.
This means more rocket building, more hiring of rocket scientists, and a continued connection to space for the home of the original Lunar Rovers – Kent!
“I am so thrilled to see the progress on their new facility and love the energy they are putting into the business and that their employees will bring to the community,” Mayor Dana Ralph said. “We are proud they call the Kent Valley home.”
How does a spaceship get its nose? The team uses a fixture to raise the lower nose into place for a precision bond to the cabin. Next, they fit and attach the upper half which completes the assembly and leaves the nose ready for systems integration. pic.twitter.com/xS01q3KndZ
In a critical first for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, the crew transportation vehicle is putting DoD and Air Force rescue teams through their paces as they seek to understand and refine what will be needed to rescue a Starliner crew from the capsule should an off-nominal landing in the water occur.
** Scott Manley: The Expander Cycle Rocket Engines – Using Waste Heat To Drive Your Rocket:
Another installment of ‘Things Kerbal Space Program Doesn’t Teach’ – explaining the expander cycle rocket engines in more detail. Expander cycles use the waste heat from the combustion chamber and nozzles to boil liquid hydrogen and power the turbines. The main advantages are cooler, less chemically active turbine environments, but if used in a closed cycle design the total thrust is limited.
Relativity, the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellite constellations, today announced a partnership with mu Space, the innovative Thai satellite and space technology company, to launch a satellite to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) on Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket, the world’s first and only 3D printed rocket.
Relativity’s groundbreaking, patented 3D printing technology platform together with Terran 1’s unique and flexible architecture provides mu Space a faster and more reliable launch at a lower total mission cost than any other launch services company in the world. With this launch partnership, two of the most visionary and innovative aerospace startups are sharing expertise, resources, and capabilities to transform the satellite launch and services industry across the U.S. and Asia-Pacific regions.
Relativity is developing the first and only aerospace platform to integrate machine learning, software, and robotics with metal 3D printing technology to build and launch rockets in days instead of years, disrupting 60 years of global aerospace manufacturing. The company expects to build its Terran 1 rocket from raw material to launch-ready in less than 60 days. As an innovator in the Asia-Pacific and international arenas, mu Space is developing both Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite and space technologies that will accelerate the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in smart cities, and encourage new space investments in the Asia-Pacific region. mu Space’s LEO satellite will be a primary, dedicated payload on Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket, launching in 2022.
The service can deliver 300 kilograms or 400 kilograms within low Earth orbit and up to 100 kilograms to a lunar orbit, according to Kokorich — for a cost of around $4.8 million.
That’s radically cheaper than solutions that are currently on offer. Momentus uses rockets from any of the big private vendors to get its vessels into space and from there its own propulsion technologies and spacecrafts will haul a small cargo (roughly the size of a kitchen table) anywhere else it needs to go, [CEO Mikhail] Kokorich says.
>>Video of the bottom half of the Falcon Heavy core booster at Port Canaveral. The booster landed successfully but later fell over onto the landing platform during heavy seas. A hold-down system for securing a core booster to prevent such toppling was not ready in time for this latest FH launch. Video via www.USLaunchReport.com:
>>Starship related activity continues at SpaceX’s Boca Chica Beach facilities but no sign yet of the Raptor engine, which was removed from the Starhopper after a short hop a couple of weeks ago.
The last few weeks of SpaceX’s work on Starship and Starhopper prototypes has been marked by less visible progress relative to the past few months. The changes that are visible, however, confirm that its Boca Chica engineers are working around the clock to complete the first orbital Starship prototype.
At the same time, it appears that SpaceX’s South Texas facilities are preparing for a rapid period of expansion and build-up. New work around the ad-hoc Starhopper pad has recently begun, while construction of a second concrete jig for concurrent prototype fabrication and what will likely be a more permanent hangar and control facility are also ramping up. Things have been quiet news-wise for SpaceX’s McGregor and Hawthorne facilities but there is reason to believe that Raptor production and testing is going smoothly.
Today there was a lot of pad work underway:
Trucks, lots of trucks, supplying material for the work going on at Starhopper’s pad right now.
NASA’s Mars InSight lander has measured and recorded for the first time ever a likely “marsquake.”
The faint seismic signal, detected by the lander’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument, was recorded on April 6, the lander’s 128th Martian day, or sol. This is the first recorded trembling that appears to have come from inside the planet, as opposed to being caused by forces above the surface, such as wind. Scientists still are examining the data to determine the exact cause of the signal.
The seismometer signals can be converted to audio:
This video and audio illustrates a seismic event detected by NASA’s Mars InSight rover on April 6, 2019, the 128th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Three distinct kinds of sounds can be heard, all of them detected as ground vibrations by the spacecraft’s seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS): noise from Martian wind, the seismic event itself, and the spacecraft’s robotic arm as it moves to take pictures. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CNES/IPGP/Imperial College London.
The new seismic event was too small to provide solid data on the Martian interior, which is one of InSight’s main objectives. The Martian surface is extremely quiet, allowing SEIS, InSight’s specially designed seismometer, to pick up faint rumbles. In contrast, Earth’s surface is quivering constantly from seismic noise created by oceans and weather. An event of this size in Southern California would be lost among dozens of tiny crackles that occur every day.
“The Martian Sol 128 event is exciting because its size and longer duration fit the profile of moonquakes detected on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions,” said Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director at NASA Headquarters.
Note that the signals’ frequencies “have been sped up by a factor of 60” since otherwise the vibrations would not be audible to the human ear.
** More quakes in the Cosmos are being detected more quickly with newly upgraded gravity wave observatories in the US and Italy. The sensitivities of the detectors have been increased to a level such that signals picked up at the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) installations in Louisiana, and Washington plus the European Virgo detector in Italy will result in roughly one gravity wave detection per week. A new public alert system will let everyone know when a detection occurs:
Two new probable gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of spacetime caused by cataclysmic cosmic events and first predicted by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago — have been detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Virgo observatory in Italy in the first weeks after the detectors were updated. The source of both waves is believed to be the merging of a pair of black holes.
LIGO announced the discovery of the first new gravitational wave in its first-ever open public alert on April 8, and quickly followed up with a second announcement on April 12. LIGO detected the first-ever gravitational wave in September 2015, and announced the discovery in February 2016. Ten more gravitational waves were detected over the following three years, but with updates to LIGO and Virgo, scientists expect to see as many as one per week, which so far has proven true.
Updates to LIGO and Virgo have combined to increase its sensitivity by about 40 percent over its last run. Additionally, with this third observing run, LIGO and Virgo transitioned to a system whereby they alert the astronomy community almost immediately of a potential gravitational wave detection. This allows electromagnetic telescopes (X-ray, UV, optical, radio) to search for and hopefully find an electromagnetic signal from the same source, which can be key to understanding the dynamics of the event.
… The source of both gravitational waves is suspected to be compact binary mergers — the collision of two massive and incredibly dense cosmic objects into one another. Compact binary mergers can occur between two neutron stars, two black holes, or a neutron star and a black hole. Each of these different types of mergers create gravitational waves with strikingly different signals, so the LIGO team can identify the type of event that created the gravitational waves.
** Huge gallery of Rosetta mission images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is now available on line at the OSIRIS Image Archive:
… was taken on 6 October 2014 from a distance of 18.6 km to the comet. This is just one of almost 70 000 images taken with Rosetta’s high-resolution imaging system OSIRIS that are now available via a new online and mobile-friendly ‘comet viewer’ created in a joint project with the Department of Information and Communication at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences, and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, who lead the OSIRIS team.
The image viewer hosts the full archive, but also has subsections organising image sets into themes: for example, images showing towering cliffs and bizarre cracks on the comet surface, or those focusing on spectacular dust fountains as the comet launched gas and dust jets into space as its surface ices were warmed as it came closer to the Sun on its orbit.
The collection of OSIRIS images captured the farewell of lander Philae as it dropped towards the surface of the comet, and later, towards the end of the mission, the feverish search for the hidden robot.
Within the new comet viewer, each of the nearly 70 000 images is supplemented with the date on which it was taken, the distance to the comet, and a short accompanying text briefly describing what is seen in the image. The images can be downloaded in full resolution and can also be directly shared to Twitter and Facebook.
This incredible image of the hourglass-shaped Southern Crab Nebula was taken to mark the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s 29th anniversary in space. The nebula, created by a binary star system, is one of the many objects that Hubble has demystified throughout its productive life. This new image adds to our understanding of the nebula and demonstrates the telescope’s continued capabilities.
On 24 April 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was launched on the space shuttle Discovery. It has since revolutionised how astronomers and the general public see the Universe. The images it provides are spectacular from both a scientific and a purely aesthetic point of view.
Each year the telescope dedicates a small portion of its precious observing time to take a special anniversary image, focused on capturing particularly beautiful and meaningful objects. This year’s image is the Southern Crab Nebula, and it is no exception .
This peculiar nebula, which exhibits nested hourglass-shaped structures, has been created by the interaction between a pair of stars at its centre. The unequal pair consists of a red giant and a white dwarf. The red giant is shedding its outer layers in the last phase of its life before it too lives out its final years as a white dwarf. Some of the red giant’s ejected material is attracted by the gravity of its companion.
How fast do things change on Mars? – A comparison of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter images of a dune-like feature on Mars taken 12 years apart show some differences. “Overall, however, not much is different. Though dunes definitely change on Mars, they do so much more slowly than on Earth. And in some cases what look like dunes are not really dunes at all, but a form of cemented sandstone, exhibiting even fewer changes over long time spans.”