Carnivals of Space #645 & 646 – Universe Today &

Universe Today hosts Carnival of Space #645.  And hosts Carnival of Space #646.

“A composite infrared image of the core of the Milky Way galaxy. The image is 600 light years across. Blue and green (25 and 36 microns) is from SOFIA’s FORCAST instrument, red (70 microns) is from the Herschel Space Observatory, and white (8 microns) is from the Spitzer space telescope.” Image Credit: NASA/SOFIA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Herschel. Via Universe Today and Carnival of Space #646

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The Space Show this week – Jan.13.2020

The guests and topics of discussion on The Space Show this week:

1. Monday, Jan. 13, 2020; 7 pm PST (9 pm CST, 10 pm EST): No special programming today.

2. SPECIAL TIME: Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020; 6 pm PST (8 pm CST; 9 pm EST): We welcome Janelle Wellons of JPL to discuss future Titan settlement prospects and space mission instrument and related engineering topics.

3. Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020: Pre-recorded Hotel Mars Program with John Batchelor. See Upcoming Show on The Space Show website for details. NO SHOW FOR NEW YEARS DAY.

4. Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020; 7-8:30 pm PST (9-10:30 pm CST, 10-11:30 pm EST): No special program today.

5. Friday, Jan. 17, 2020; 9:30-11 am PST (11:30 am-1 pm CST, 12:30-2 pm EST): We welcome back Douglas Messier of Parabolic Arc for news and updates.

6. Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020; 12-1:30 pm PST (3-4:30 pm EST, 2-3:30 pm CST): We welcome our OPEN LINES program. All calls welcome. Talk to other callers too.

Some recent shows:

** Sun, 01/12/2020Jim Muncy discussed “many policy and commercial space topics including settlement, Congress, NASA and more”.

** Fri, 01/10/2020Dr. Bob Krone discussed “Space education, The Kepler Space Institute, graduate level courses, research, The Journal of Space Philosophy and much more”.

**  Hotel Mars/The Space Show – Wed, 01/08/2020John Batchelor  and Dr. David Livingston talked with Chris Carberry of Explore Space about his “new book Alcohol in Space: Past, Present and Future[Amazon commission link], known alcohol usage in space, 2020 Mars missions”.

**  Tue, 01/07/2020 –  Dr. Malcolm Davis “from Australia regarding commercial space, national space security and much more”

** See also:
* The Space Show Archives
* The Space Show Newsletter
* The Space Show Shop

The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.

The Space Show - David Livingston
The Space Show – David Livingston

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Space transport roundup – Jan.13.2020

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):

** SpaceX test fired Falcon 9 on Pad 39A on Saturday in preparation for the in-flight abort (IFA) test of the Crew Dragon space. The test is currently set to lift off on January 18th at 8 am EST.

The test starts at around 24:40 into this video:

NASA previews the test: SpaceX, NASA Gear up for In-Flight Abort Demonstration | NASA

And posts this animation:

See also Elon Musk says a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is about to be “destroyed in Dragon fire” – Teslarati.

More SpaceX items below.

** Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo nears completion: Second Spaceship in Virgin Galactic’s Fleet Completes Major Build Milestone – Virgin Galactic

See latest Space Tourism Roundup for more about this and other Virgin Galactic news.

** Arianespace heads for a busy year in 2020 with multiple types of rockets lifting off from Kourou, Kazakhstan, and Russia: Arianespace could launch record 22 missions in 2020 –

Half of the European launch provider’s 2020 manifest is comprised of OneWeb launches — 10 Soyuz missions and the inaugural launch of the Ariane 62 rocket. 

Arianespace also has two launches scheduled for its smallest rocket, Vega, and two for the larger next-generation Vega C, Stéphane Israël, Arianespace’s chief executive, said in a Jan. 7 interview.

Of the 22 missions, 14 are planned from Europe’s spaceport, the Guiana Space Center, on the coast of South America, Israël said. The remaining eight are Soyuz missions the company expects will be split about even between Russia’s spaceports, the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, near China, he said. 

Arianespace’s record is 12 launches in one year, set in 2015.

** Sierra Nevada gives an update on development of Dream Chaser cargo and crew variants:Dream Chaser on Track for 2021 Cargo Mission, Crew Within 5 Years –

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is on track for the first cargo flight of its Dream Chaser spacecraft next year.  Looking like a small space shuttle, Dream Chaser lost out on a contract for NASA’s commercial crew program, but was selected in the second round of commercial cargo contracts.  SNC still plans to use Dream Chaser for crewed missions for other customers and expects the first within 5 years.  SNC also is bidding on contracts for NASA’s Artemis program, including as part of a Dynetics team for the Human Landing System.

Steve Lindsey, a former NASA astronaut who is now SNC’s Senior Vice President of Strategy for Space Systems, and other SNC officials gave updates on Dream Chaser and other space activities during a media telecon today.

SNC has “never stopped working” on the crewed version of Dream Chaser, Lindsey said. While the company’s focus right now is getting the cargo version ready for its first flight on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan-Centaur rocket next year, the first crewed flight “absolutely” will take place within 5 years.

** ABL Space Systems to use Air Force facilities to test components for the RS1 launch vehicle for smallsat orbital deliveries: Small launch startup ABL Space Systems to test rocket hardware at Edwards Air Force Base –

Based in El Segundo, California, ABL was founded by former SpaceX engineers in 2017 to develop low-cost launch vehicles for the small satellite industry. The company’s RS1 vehicle was designed to lift 1,200 kilograms into low Earth orbit at a price of $12 million per launch.

ABL announced on July 22 — just days after signing the cooperative agreement with AFRL — that Lockheed Martin Ventures would become an investor in the company.

Nils Sedano, technical adviser on rocket propulsion systems at AFRL, told SpaceNews Jan. 9 that ABL has “come in and established their presence at area 1-56 of the AFRL rocket propulsion division.”

AFRL is the primary rocket propulsion scientific research and development center for the U.S. Air Force.

** China’s Galactic Energy reaches $43M in total funding for rocket development: Chinese launch firm Galactic Energy raises $21.5 million – The latest funding round

was led by Puhua Capital and Huaqiang Capital with six further investors. The funding was secured in October and announced by Galactic Energy late December (Chinese). The funds will be used for the first launch of the Ceres-1 solid rocket in the first half of 2020.

Ceres-1 will consist of three solid stages using Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene fuel and a liquid propellant upper stage. The launcher will be capable of carrying a 350-kilogram payload to low Earth orbit. 

Galactic Energy’s investors.

The company’s full English name is Beijing Xinghe Dongli Space Technology Co. Ltd.

** An update from the Planetary Society on LightSail-2, which launched last summer on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy:

High above Earth, The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft is still sailing on sunbeams. During the 5 months since LightSail 2 deployed its solar sail on 23 July 2019, the spacecraft has continued to demonstrate the first controlled solar-sailing flight in Earth orbit. 

The LightSail 2 team is releasing a paper today that describes new results from the mission. Purdue University’s Justin Mansell is also presenting the results at the 30th Space Flight Mechanics Meeting in Orlando, Florida. The paper recaps mission events through late November, discusses the performance of the solar sail and attitude control system, and describes how the spacecraft’s orbit has changed. 

LightSail 2 flies at a higher altitude than most satellites in low-Earth orbit. While the International Space Station orbits Earth at an altitude of about 400 kilometers, LightSail 2 orbits at about 720 kilometers. Since fewer spacecraft orbit at LightSail 2’s altitude, there wasn’t enough data on Earth’s atmospheric density to reliably predict how much atmospheric drag would slow down the spacecraft. We now know for certain that the atmosphere at 720 kilometers is dense enough to overcome the thrust imparted by solar sailing.

LightSail 2 near the Middle East: LightSail 2 captured this image of the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf on 14 December 2019. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft’s 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color corrected and some of the distortion has been removed.” Credits: Planetary Society

** Rocket Lab prepares for next Electron launch:

** Secretive Astra Space aims for three launches from Alaskan spaceport this year: FCC Filing Confirms Final Contestant in DARPA’s $12 Million Satellite Launch Challenge – IEEE Spectrum.

Astra Space (previously named Ventions) is developing a small payload orbital launch system and is competing in the DARPA Launch Challenge, which requires a demonstration of a quick response (30 days) to a request for the launch of a smallsat. While the company refuses to answer press queries, applications for launch and communications licenses provides some info on what they are doing:

The company carried out two suborbital launches from PSCA in 2019 but the rockets appeared to have problems shortly after liftoff. According to the FAA license, this year Astra will attempt three orbital flights from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) on Kodiak Island. They may also do a flight from the commercial launch facility at Wallops Island but a separate FAA license will be required.

** A compilation of recetn rocket news from Eric Berger: Rocket Report: SpaceX goes vertical, smallsat launch dates slip | Ars Technica

** SpaceX:

**** Falcon 9 booster (B1049.4) for Starlink 2 launch returns to port:

B1049 looks great!! We are a US disabled veteran run, non-profit video production company whose mission is to bring other disabled US Veterans to witness a launch, experience US Space History and become part of our report. Our nonprofit 501(c)(3) is 100% tax deductible, just go to our webpage which is merged with and find our Donate button. You can help change the life of a US Veteran. Thank You

[ Update: The group at offers a video scenes of the processing for the booster from the Starlink 2 launch:


** SpaceX Cargo Dragon for CRS-19 mission to the ISS recovered after splashdown:

**** Starship

****** Assembly of propellant tank for pressure testing to destruction. Last week, the primary focus at Boca Chica was completing the assembly of a propellant tank and then pressure testing to destruction. The goal was to determine if  techniques for tank construction have improved to the point that the stainless steel tanks are flight worthy.

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Test Tank (Bopper) and Buildings, Jan 8, 2020 –

All hands on deck at SpaceX Boca Chica as buildings continue to be completed while the test tank (we’re lovingly calling “Bopper”) undergoes final welding ahead of its transportation. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF.

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Starship Test Tank transported to Launch Site, Jan.9.2020 –

SpaceX’s Starship Test Tank “Bopper” was transported to the Boca Chica launch site for a positive pressure test. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF. Mostly muted due to really strong wind noise and timelapsed to get all events in without it being a one hour video.

****** SpaceX Hoppy Poppy Jr Pressure Test To Failure, Jan.10.2020 – LabPadre

01.10.2020 At 5:45 AM the pressure testing to failure on Hoppy Jr at SpaceX Boca Chica, Texas. Video is not the best quality but it gets the picture across. Thanks for watching. All live images are explicitly owned by LabPadre Media. Filmed on location at Pointer Property.

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Test Tank Before and After Test – Timelapse, Jan.10.2020 –

At SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site, the test tank underwent a planned and successful/useful data overpressure test event. Timelapse video show the tank (nicknamed Bopper) before and after the test. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF. Muted due to really strong wind noise and timelapsed to get all events in without it being a one hour video.

**** Comments from Elon Musk on the tank pressure test:

See also SpaceX just blew up a Starship tank on purpose and Elon Musk says the results are in – Teslarati.

**** Post pressure test activity

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Preparing for Starship SN1 bulkheads – Facility Construction, Jan.12.2020 –

Following the successful “pressurization to failure” test on the “Bopper” test tank, SpaceX Boca Chica is busy working on the additional facilities and setting up to build new bulkheads that will be for Starship SN1. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF.

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Starship SN1 Bulkhead/Rig Transported To Big Tent, Jan.12.2020 –

The new Big Production Tent at SpaceX’s Boca Chica received the Starship SN1 Bulkhead and Rig after they were transported from the Windbreak building. This will allow for welding ops to be protected from the elements. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF. A lot of timelapsing at 6x and 4x to condense several hours of footage.

**** Florida Starship facility status:

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Space policy roundup – Jan.13.2020

A sampling of links to recent space policy, politics, and government (US and international) related space news and resource items that I found of interest (find previous space policy roundups here):


** The Space Show – Sun, 01/12/2020Jim Muncy discussed “many policy and commercial space topics including settlement, Congress, NASA and more”.

** The Space Show – Fri, 01/10/2020Dr. Bob Krone discussed “Space education, The Kepler Space Institute, graduate level courses, research, The Journal of Space Philosophy and much more”.

**  Hotel Mars/The Space Show – Wed, 01/08/2020John Batchelor  and Dr. David Livingston talked with Chris Carberry of Explore Space about his “new book Alcohol in Space: Past, Present and Future[Amazon commission link], known alcohol usage in space, 2020 Mars missions”.

** Dr. Brian Weeden of The Secure World Foundation – Weekly Space Hangout: January 8, 2020

Tonight we are pleased to welcome Dr. Brian Weeden, Director of Program Planning at the Secure World Foundation, to the WSH. Brian uses his research on space debris, global space situational awareness, space traffic management, protection of space assets, and space governance to guide the Foundation’s future projects. Additionally, Brian organizes national and international workshops to increase awareness of, and facilitate dialogue on, space security, stability, and sustainability topics.

** January 7, 2019 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black


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Space tourism roundup – Jan.12.2020

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to commercial human space travel (see also previous space tourism related posts):

** Plan to attend the Space Tourism Conference – “Profiting from the Space Experience Economy”. The STC will be held on April 28, 2020 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Las Angeles, California.

The Space Tourism Conference (STC) is an annual event that will be produced with support from the Space Tourism Society (STS), the world’s leading space tourism advocacy organization for over 20 years.

The April 28 conference date was deliberately chosen as the anniversary of Dennis Tito’s lift-off into the history books in 2001 as the world’s first private space tourist. Tito’s flight jump-started the space tourism industry, generating massive consumer awareness as to the possibilities of private space travel and commercialization of space through earth-based experiences.

Dennis Tito enters the ISS on April 30, 2001.

A hallmark of the STC is a dynamic mix of executives and cross-section of industries:

space tourism flight providers private space station developers space enterprise strategists space investors entertainment executives astronauts media producers architects digital media experts futurists scientists space-themed fashion lifestyle designers consumer brands esports artists musicians high tech leaders

Attendees can expect concrete, actionable information, real-world use cases, and stellar deal-making.

PLUS you’ll have an insider track to the growth areas in space tourism, including earth-based space experiences, such as Zero Gravity aircraft flights. 

** The Space Show – Mon, 12/30/2019John Spencer of the Space Tourism Society, which is organizing the above conference, talked about “space tourism, The Space Tourism Society, earth tourism analogs, social profits compared to financial profits, space tourism careers and opportunities plus more”:

** See You in Orbit? Our Dream of Spaceflight: the Sweeping History and Future of Space TourismAlan Ladwig, formerly of NASA, spoke recently to the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) study group about the history of space tourism and its future prospects. He focused in particular on his experiences with the Teacher in Space Project and other NASA programs that intended to send civilian, non-government employees to orbit on Space Shuttle flights.

Here is the audio of his presentation to the FISO group and his slides (pptx):

Alan covers these topics in detail in his new book, See You In Orbit?: Our Dream Of Spaceflight(Amazon commission link).

** Yusaku Maesawa is looking for a girlfriend to take on a  trip around the Moon aboard a SpaceX Starship:  Yusaku Maezawa’s real decision. Looking for his “life partner”.

** Virgin Galactic update from CEO George Whitesides: Virgin Galactic ticket sales will re-open this year, CEO says – CNBC

    • Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides on Thursday revealed the company has seen steadily increasing demand from prospective space tourists.
    • “Later on in the year we’ll re-open those sales,” to fly to space, Whitesides told CNBC.
    • In the past tickets have gone for $250,000 per person but the company may increase its prices substantially for the first commercial flights.

** Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo nears completion: Second Spaceship in Virgin Galactic’s Fleet Completes Major Build Milestone – Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“VG” or “the Company”), the world’s first commercial spaceline, announced today that it has reached the “Weight on Wheels” milestone in the build of its second commercial spaceship. In this milestone, all major structural elements of the vehicle were assembled, and the vehicle deployed its main landing gear and carried its own weight for the first time. The milestone signals strong progress in the manufacture of Virgin Galactic’s space vehicle fleet by The Spaceship Company, VGH’s wholly-owned aerospace development subsidiary.

“The Virgin Galactic fleet.” The second SS2 on right is about 80% complete. Credits: Virgin Galactic

This Weight on Wheels milestone has been reached considerably faster than it took to get to this stage with the first spaceship in the Virgin Galactic fleet, VSS Unity, which is currently in flight test. This pace has been achieved through a more efficient, modular assembly process, as well as experience curve benefits.

With the spaceship now capable of bearing its own weight, the assembly team is hard at work connecting the vehicle’s integrated systems, including the flight control systems from fuselage to tail booms, as well as completing the final structural closeouts.

As this work is completed, the spaceship will be positioned in the hangar for the start of integrated vehicle ground testing, which will verify the integrity of all systems. This step is a precursor to the start of its flight test program.

Beyond today’s Weight on Wheels milestone for the second space vehicle, the Virgin Galactic spaceship fleet is already advancing to its third spaceship, also currently under construction in Mojave. Structural and system part fabrication for that third vehicle is now over 50% complete.

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic said: “Reaching the Weight on Wheels milestone considerably faster than was achieved for VSS Unity is a huge accomplishment and is a testament to the growing expertise and capabilities of the company. We now have two spaceships that are structurally complete, with our third making good progress. These spaceships are destined to provide thousands of private astronauts with a truly transformative experience by performing regular trips to space.’’

**  Virgin Galactic (SPCE) is now a publicly traded company (see last roundup) . Here are some articles about how the stock is doing:

** Virgin Galactic opens a program to prepare customers for rides to space: Virgin Galactic Kicks off Astronaut Readiness Program – Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has kicked off its Astronaut Readiness Program – the process of preparing Future Astronaut customers for their flights to space. As the first and only private company to have put humans into space in a vehicle built for commercial service, we are now finalizing all elements of the customer experience, including the recently unveiled customer spacesuits, created in partnership with Under Armour, and the interior of our Gateway to Space headquarters at Spaceport America. The next phase in this process is to ensure that Future Astronauts are optimally prepared to fly to space.

The Astronaut Readiness Program launched [last November] at the Under Armour Global HQ in Baltimore where we were joined by Future Astronauts who will be among the first to fly with Virgin Galactic. Guided and instructed by some of our key team members, they carried out a number of flight preparation activities. Through completing this unique program they are helping us to tailor and perfect the program for those who follow.

Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot Dave Mackay talks with future adventure travelers on SpaceShipTwo rocket planes. Credits: Virgin Galactic

** On December 11th, Blue Origin flew an uncrewed New Shepard again (see the report on the flight here). This was the 6th flight of that vehicle, which had only inspections after each flight rather than major refurbishment. Achieving fast, airliner-like turnarounds is key to lowering the cost of flying rocket powered vehicles.

However, there have been long breaks between New Shepard flights and no explanation for the gaps. Company officials say that they need a few more test flights before they will put people on the vehicles so that might mean many months if they do not speed up the flight rate.

Here is an interview from last fall with with Blue Origin chief executive Bob Smith about the company and its space tourism plans:  Blue Origin CEO on rocketry, space tourism and the relationship with Amazon – CNBC

** The sights of earth from space will draw many people to go there, especially after rocket transport ticket prices drop with vehicles like the SpaceX Starship. Most who have gone to space have said it was one of the greatest experiences of their lives and they never tired of watching the ever-changing earthscapes below.

Helen Sharman certainly appreciated the view during her space trip: Helen Sharman: ‘There’s no greater beauty than seeing the Earth from up high’ – The Guardian

A couple of relaxing tours of earth as seen from the ISS:

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