Space policy roundup – Sept.27.2019

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):


** Mission Eve: Episode 0103: Taylor Winkleman

Taylor Winkleman is a Senior Consultant at LMI and is a vocal advocate for comprehensive space policy in Washington D.C. However, when Taylor was about to graduate high school, she had no clue what she wanted to do with her life. From becoming a linguist in the Army to briefly practicing as a licensed veterinarian, Taylor’s self-defined circuitous path has equipped her to be a vital space advocate for policy that will help lead Earthlings to the stars.

** The Space Show – Tue, 09/24/2019Dr. Anahita Modiriasari talked about “Lunar and to a lesser degree Martian lava tubes” and “lava tube characteristics, qualities, sizes, uses, and more”.

** September 24, 2019 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black


Videos: “Space to Ground” ISS report – Sept.27.2019

This week’s Space to Ground report from NASA on activities related to the International Space Station:

** Astronaut Moments: Jessica Meir- Exploring Extreme Environments

Astronaut Jessica Meir is no stranger to extreme environments. She’s studied penguins in Antarctica and mapped caves in Italy, all of which prepared her for the ultimate extreme environment: space.

** Expedition 61 Crew Docks to the International Space Station

After launching earlier in the day in their Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 61 Soyuz Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos, NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir and Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates arrived at the International Space Station September 25. Their arrival completed a six-hour journey when they docking their Soyuz spacecraft to the Poisk module on the Russian segment of the complex.

** Expedition 60 Artemis Interviews Randy Bresnik Kentucky Media – September 26, 2019


Come Fly with Us: NASA’s Payload Specialist Program
(Outward Odyssey: A People’s History of Spaceflight)

2019 NIAC Symposium presentations

Check out the presentations on leading edge space technologies given this week at the 2019 NIAC Symposium via the videos on Livestream. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program provides modest amounts of funding to projects that are too close to (or too over) the leading edge for the usual SBIR type of research grants.

Here is the symposium’s agenda (pdf):

Below is a video of this morning’s session with the following speakers:

  • Phase I Fellow Joel Sercel, Lunar-Polar Propellant Mining Outpost (LPMO): Affordable Exploration and Industrialization, TransAstra Corporation
  • 2019 Phase I Fellow John Slough, Crosscutting High Apogee Refueling Orbital Navigator (CHARON) for Active Debris Removal, MSNW LLC
  • 2019 Phase I Fellow George Sowers, Thermal Mining of Ices on Cold Solar System Bodies, Colorado School of Mines
  • 2019 Phase I Fellow Robert Staehle, Low-Cost SmallSats to Explore to Our Solar System’s Boundaries, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Moon Rush: The New Space Race

Carnival of Space #630 – hosts the latest Carnival of Space.

Dunes in Mars north polar area
Dunes in the north polar region of Mars as seen by the CaSSIS camera on the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars orbiter. “The dark areas are sand deposited on the surface when the buried CO2 ice sublimated.” Image Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO. Via Carnival of Space and Universe Today.


LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V 21309
Outer Space Model Rocket for Kids and Adults, Science Building Kit
(1900 pieces)

Space transport roundup – Sept.25.2019

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

[ Update: Great views of the Starship Mk.1 coming to together at Boca Chica Beach:


** Today a Russian Soyuz launched 3 new ISS crew members including the first astronaut from the UAE. This was the final flight for the Soyuz-FG version of the rocket. The modernized Soyuz-2 will now become the standard crew launch version of the Soyuz family of rockets. The Expedition 61 crew includes Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, United Arab Emirates guest cosmonaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. The launch was timed for a fast rendezvous with the station and the spacecraft is set to dock today at 3:45 p.m. EDT (1945 GMT).

** A Japanese H-IIB rocket launched a HTV cargo module to the ISS on Tuesday. Following a scrub on Sept. 10 due to a launch pad fire, the H-IIB successfully lifted off yesterday from the Tanegashima Space Center with the eighth HTV (H-II Cargo Vehicle) to go to the ISS. The spacecraft will take 4 days to reach the station with its load of over 4 tons of supplies and equipment, including several new lithium-ion batteries  to replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for part of the station’s power system.

** Three rocket launches took place in China in the past week including a Long March 2D today carrying a Yunhai remote sensing satellite:  China launches environmental monitoring satellite – Spaceflight Now

*** Long March 3B rocket on with two Beidou navigation satellites launched on Sept. 22th:

*** A Long March 11 launched on Sept.19th with five satellites for the private company Zhuhai Orbita Aerospace Science and Technology Co., Ltd. The group of satellites included four with hyperspectral imaging systems and one with video imaging.

** Virgin Orbit shipped out the first operational LauncherOne rocket for tests in prep for launch by end of the year: LauncherOne: Shaping Up and Shipping Out | Virgin Orbit

This week, after a very hard drive by our teammates in our Long Beach factory, we waved good-bye to our latest test rocket. Our previous LauncherOne served valiantly through a battery of tests highlighted by several captive carry flights and especially by our flawless drop test. Our latest rocket — which has already been fully integrated, tested, checked, re-checked, analyzed, and triple-checked — is destined for a rigorous crucible of engineering demonstrations and tests of its own. The final demonstration for this rocket will also be the biggest test we’ve attempted as a team: during that test, we’ll fire up LauncherOne’s engine in flight and head for space for the first time.

Virgin Orbit LauncherOne
This will be the first Virgin Orbit LauncherOne rocket to attempt to put a payload into orbit.

** Firefly Aerospace is posting updates on preps for the first launch of an Alpha rocket next year.

** The small company LAUNCHER pushes 3D printing technology to make its  rocket engines more efficient:

** Blue Origin targets November for next New Shepard flight:

** An update on research on bleeding-edge propulsion concepts: Marc Millis: Testing Possible Spacedrives – Centauri Dreams

Marc Millis, former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project, recently returned from another trip to Germany, where he worked with Martin Tajmar’s SpaceDrive project at Germany’s Technische Universität Dresden. Recent coverage of the ongoing experimental work into spacedrives in both the popular and scientific press has raised public interest, leading Millis to explain in today’s essay why and how the techniques for studying these matters are improving, and how far we have to go before we have something definitive. Millis is in the midst of developing an interstellar propulsion study from a NASA grant even as he continues to examine advanced propulsion concepts and the methodologies with which to approach them.

See also Just How Feasible is a Warp Drive? – Universe Today.

** SpaceX

*** Assembly of the Starship Mk.1 orbital demonstrator accelerated at even a faster pace in the past week at Boca Chica Beach. It appears that some staff from the Mk.2 project in Cocoa Beach, Florida came to help out in Texas so that a complete Starship can provide a dramatic backdrop to Elon Musk’s update presentation on the project this Saturday, Sept. 28th.

*** Elon gives some pre-presentation hints on the latest Starship design and operation concepts:

*** Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, gives an overview of the new design for the fins:

*** Scott Manley also gives his thoughts on the design changes: Scott Manley: New Details Revealed About SpaceX’s Stainless Steel Starship as Prototype Nears Completion : spacex/

*** Some synergy at last between SpaceX and Tesla: SpaceX’s Starship Mk1 rocket shares a surprising connection with Tesla EVs – Teslarati

These battery packs were spotted by an eagle-eyed forum user who was first to recognize the hardware for what it likely was. Per the above photo, SpaceX appears to have joined two self-contained Tesla battery packs into single units that were then installed on a header tank. Knowing that the highest capacity Tesla offers is ~100 kWh, the 2×2 packs could store up to 400 kWh and offer instantaneous power output (ignoring thermal limitations) well into the megawatt (MW) range.

The Tesla batteries are needed to run the motors that move the fins:

*** Yusaku Maezawa raises a few billion dollars from selling stock in his clothing company. This will provide him additional money to fund his Starship flight around the Moon with artist friends. He may also take a preliminary flight to space on a Crew Dragon.


While acknowledging his mistakes at a two-hour press conference, he said there were two personal reasons for his resignation: Preparing for the 2023 lunar mission, including going into space once before that, and wanting to feel the “rush” of building a company from the ground up again.

“Training to go into space will to take up much of my time,” he said, flanked by his successor at Zozo, Kotaro Sawada, and the president of Yahoo Japan.

*** Falcon 9 launch rate to accelerate in coming year as SpaceX ramps up deployment of the Starlink broadband Internet constellation: Starlink to fill lion’s share of SpaceX near-term launch manifest – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX plans as many as 24 launches next year to build out the company’s Starlink network to provide broadband Internet service from space, following up to four more Starlink missions before the end of this year, according to SpaceX’s chief operating officer.

The rapid-fire launch cadence for SpaceX’s Starlink fleet will take up the majority of the company’s launch manifest next year with a series of missions taking off from Florida’s Space Coast, adding new nodes to a network that could eventually contain nearly 12,000 small satellites.

** After a two month break, the next Falcon 9 launch looks to happen in mid-October but not clear yet if it will be a Starlink payload or a customer satellite  SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 launches get a bit closer as hardware arrives in Florida – Teslarati

SpaceX completed its last orbital launch on August 7th, placing the AMOS-17 communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) on an exceedingly rare expendable Falcon 9. As of then, SpaceX’s next launch – an internal Starlink mission – was already expected no earlier than October and has since settled towards the end of the month. First reported by, the first Starlink v1.0 mission (AKA Starlink-1) is tentatively scheduled to launch no earlier than (NET) October 17th, followed by Starlink-2 NET November 4th and Starlink-3 NET late-November.

Of note, there have been whispers in the last few days that SpaceX’s next launch is not, in fact, a Starlink mission. Reading between the lines, only two possible spacecraft – JCSAT-18/Kacific-1 or South Korea’s ANASIS – are next on SpaceX’s manifest, the former of which is scheduled to launch no earlier than November 11th and the latter of which does not yet have a firm date.

*** Crew Dragon program continues to move along with progress on parachutes, finalizing the April explosion investigation, and targeting late this year for the in-flight abort test:



Everyone can participate in space