Videos: “Space to Ground” + Other ISS reports – Apr.9.2021

Here is the latest episode in NASA’s Space to Ground weekly report on activities related to the International Space Station:

** Soyuz Crew Ship Docks to Station With Expedition 65 Trio – NASA Video

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docked to the International Space Station at 7:05 a.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying about 262 miles above northern China.

** NASA Television Video File – Expedition 65 Docking/Hatch Open and Welcome Ceremony – April 9, 2021 – NASA Video

Expedition 65 Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos and Mark Vande Hei of NASA arrived at the International Space Station April 9, docking their spacecraft to the Rassvet module on the Russian segment of the complex. They completed the three-hour journey after launching earlier in the day in their Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A few hours after docking, Novitskiy, Dubrov and Vande Hei opened hatches between the two spacecraft and were greeted by station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

** Astronaut Moments: Mark Vande Hei, Living and Working in Space – NASA Johnson

Mark Vande Hei launched to the International Space Station for the second time on April 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch occurs just three days before the 60th anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s launch to become the first human in space and the 40th anniversary of the first launch of NASA’s space shuttle. As members of the Expedition 64/65 crew, Vande Hei and his two Russian crewmates Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are on deck to work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth science. During his previous spaceflight, he accumulated 168 days in space and spent 26 hours and 42 minutes suited up outside of the space station over the course of four spacewalks.

** Expedition 64 Inflight with Rice Space Institute – April 8, 2021NASA Video

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Mike Hopkins of NASA discussed life and research on board the orbital laboratory during an in-flight educational event April 8 with students from the Rice University Space Institute in Houston. Rubins is in the final week of her six-month mission on the station before she returns to Earth on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, while Hopkins is preparing to return to Earth later this month on the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle Resilience.

** Expedition 64 Inflight Houston Sports Authority – April 7, 2021NASA Video

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Shannon Walker of NASA discussed life and research aboard the orbital laboratory during an in-flight event with the Houston Sports Authority April 7 to mark the World Transplant Games, a global endeavor to highlight transplant technology. Rubins is in the final week of her six-month mission on the station before she returns to Earth on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, while Walker is set to assume command of the complex next week for two weeks before she return to Earth later this month on the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle Resilience.

** NLRA 2021-6: In-Space Production Applications: Tissue Engineering and Biomanufacturing – ISS National Lab

On April 8, 2021, the ISS National Lab held a webinar to provide further background on NLRA 2021-6 and to answer any questions.

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Space transport roundup – April.8.2021

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

** Apr.8: The Starship prototype SN15 moved to launch site. The vehicle has many upgrades according to Elon Musk. A test flight could happen within a week or two. I certainly hope it achieves the first successful landing of a Starship (without a post touchdown explosion) after rising to high-altitude (~10km).

** Apr.7: Falcon 9 puts another batch of 60 Starlinks into orbit. This is the tenth SpaceX Falcon 9 mission in 2021. The total number of Starlink satellites in orbit is increased to 1,378. The first stage booster made its 7th successful landing. And it makes for the 79th booster landing to date. Both fairing halves were also previously flown.

More at:

** Mar.30: Starship SN11 lifted off in dense fog, flew to 10 km, descended back into fog bank, and then exploded just before landing. The fog prevented the usual eruption of replays of a Starship explosion across the Web but also kept anyone from seeing exactly what happened. The SpaceX website offered this info:

On Tuesday, March 30, SpaceX launched its fourth high-altitude flight test of Starship from Starbase in Texas. Similar to previous high-altitude flight tests, Starship Serial Number 11 (SN11) was powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10 km in altitude. SN11 performed a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.

Shortly after the landing burn started, SN11 experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly. Teams will continue to review data and work toward our next flight test.

On Twitter, Elon initially provided some hints of what happened:

On April 5th, he revealed the results of subsequent analysis:

For the Falcon 9, SpaceX has always emphasized that the nine engines on the first stage are shielded from one another such that even a catastrophic failure of one will not affect the others and prevent destruction of the rocket. There have in fact been a couple of in-flight engine failures and the boosters continue to fly nonetheless. (The most recent case occurred in February and did prevent the booster from successfully landing.)  The Raptors do not appear to be shielded in the prototypes flow so far and perhaps this “hard start”, i.e. engine explosion, was so violent that no practical shielding could have prevented the obliteration of the vehicle anyway.

More about Elon’s comments:

Here is the SpaceX webcast video:

A view of the debris field:

Elon is already looking ahead to the next upgrades:

See also:

Find more news and info on the Starship program and other SpaceX activities below…

** Reusable orbital launch systems are now in development by several companies around the world. As demonstrated by the successful reuse of the Falcon 9 first stages, reusability is key to lowering launch prices significantly and competing successfully with SpaceX.

Some of the companies are even aiming to recover and reuse not only the first stage of their two stage rockets but the second stage as well. There is essentially a kilogram loss in payload mass for every kilogram added to enable the return and recovery of a second stage. SpaceX decided to pursue development of full reusability with the Starship system rather than reduce the F9’s payload capability with a reusable upper stage. As a rocket scales up in size, the impact on the total payload from reusability diminishes. Attaining full reusability with a small or a mid-range launch system and still offering a commercially viable payload capability is quite a challenge. The companies aiming for full reusability are currently keeping their design plans secret.

Here is a list of several companies aiming for reusable launchers:

** Will Blue learn vertical landing the SpaceX way? SpaceX’s success at landing F9 boosters remains an amazing feat to watch. Eric Berger talks about how this capability has changed his thinking on what is possible with rockets and spaceflight: SpaceX landed a rocket on a boat five years ago—it changed everything | Ars Technica.

SpaceX learned to do vertical landing with test hops of the Grasshopper demonstrator at their McGregor, Texas  facility and by setting stages down softly onto the ocean surface on Falcon 9 missions.

Blue Origin intends to land the first stage of its New Glenn rocket on a ship at sea. Blue recently announced that the first New Glenn flight would not happen before the end of 2022. I’m wondering, though, if in the meantime they will do some short hops of a first stage prototype like the Grasshopper. The ship will be sailing to provide what Blue claims will be more stable pad than the SpaceX stationary platforms. However, landing on a moving target still looks like a tough challenge, especially without any practice even with landing on solid ground.

** Mar.30: Virgin Galactic rolls out VSS Imagine, the first of the next generation SpaceShip III vehicles: Virgin Galactic Unveils VSS Imagine, The First SpaceShip III In Its Growing Fleet – Virgin Galactic

    • SS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights this summer
    • Breakthrough livery design allows Imagine to mirror the surrounding environment as it moves from Earth to Space
    • Manufacturing ramps up on next SpaceShip III in the fleet, VSS Inspire

Virgin Galactic today unveiled the Company’s first Spaceship III in its growing fleet, VSS Imagine. The spaceship showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience. Imagine also demonstrates progress toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term. VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The breakthrough livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing color and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space. Along with providing thermal protection, this dynamic material is naturally appealing to the human eye, reflecting our inherent human fascination with space and the transformative experience of spaceflight.

Leveraging a modular design, the SpaceShip III class of vehicles are built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. This third generation of spaceship will lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.

As VSS Imagine begins ground testing, manufacturing will progress on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the Spaceship III class of vehicles is an important milestone in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.

See also: Virgin Galactic unveils new suborbital spaceplane – SpaceNews

** Mar.25: Arianespace/Russian Soyuz puts 36 OneWeb satellites into orbit: The launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in northern Russia brings the total number of OneWeb satellites in low earth orbit to 146 . The goal is 648 satellites to provide Internet services globally. Flight ST30: Arianespace successfully deploys OneWeb constellation satellites – Arianespace

Arianespace has launched 146 OneWeb satellites to date. Soyuz successfully orbited the initial six from French Guiana during February 2019. In February and March 2020, Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate successfully launched 68 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome, as well as an additional batch of 36 satellites from the Vostochny Cosmodrome during December 2020.

Pursuant to an amended launch contract with OneWeb, Arianespace will perform 14 more Soyuz launches through 2021 and 2022. These launches will enable OneWeb to complete the deployment of its full global constellation of low Earth orbit satellites by the end of 2022.

Internet services above 50 degrees north latitude should be available by the end of this year.

See also:

Continue reading Space transport roundup – April.8.2021

Space policy roundup – April.5.2021

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):

International space

Webcasts:

** Episode 33: Lawfare and Outer Space, Part 2Space Thoughts (YouTube) – Space Law & Policy Solutions/Michael Listner

** Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition – North American Finals – Space Court Foundation – YouTube

Results of the North America Regional Rounds:
18 schools
40 judges

Team Winner: George Washington University Law School @gwlaw

Final’s Judges:
Dennis Burnett @HawkEye360
@RandySegal @HoganLovells
Gabriel Swiney @Monkeybane_DC @StateDept

** China Private Launch Companies Forging Ahead, Expace Liquid-Fueled Rockets, Geely in Nansha – Ep 27Dongfang Hour – YouTube

1) Significant week from Chinese commercial launch companies …
2) TV Report from Hubei News on Wuhan space projects, and exclusive takeaways for Xingyun and Expace  …
3) Geely plans group-level space headquarters in Nansha, Guangzhou …

See also the program summary at Dongfang Hour China Aerospace News Roundup 29 March – 4 April 2021 – SpaceWatch.Global.

** Space Café WebTalk – Blaine Curcio – 2. March 2021spacewatch. global – News Room – YouTube

Torsten Kriening in conversation with China space analytics expert, self-proclaimed “#ChinaSpaceGuy” and founder of Orbital Gateway Consulting – a boutique market research and consulting firm focusing on the business of space and satellite telecommunications – Blaine Curcio. Blaine Curcio was born in the US and has spent the last 14 years working and studying in the international space industry. Having previously worked in China and the Netherlands, he is currently based in Hong Kong, where in 2018 he founded space market research and consulting firm, Orbital Gateway Consulting.

** Space Café Podcast Episode 024 Featuring Lin Kayser Is Now Available – SpaceWatch.Global

Lin Kayser is a German entrepreneur who wants to revolutionize the way we make products with his company Hyperganic. 3D printing has advanced to the point where it can really take us where we’ve long been in science fiction. And, he wouldn’t be with us here at Space Cafe if he didn’t want to rethink space travel as well. PS: The good man may have the right DNA for such great thoughts. Crazy and world-changing thoughts run in the Kayser family.

** The Space Show – Friday, April.2.2021Bruce Pittman talked about his education proposal, “Spacecraft Nation: A Toolkit for Building Back Better Using Space” (Spacecraft Nation.docx):

Spacecraft Nation is envisioned as a $500 million/year, 5 year national investment program, operating in all 50 states, with the goal of upgrading America’s technical skills and technical toolkits to solve the many multidisciplinary problems inherent in space development and apply those skills to terrestrial and space challenges. Space is a fascinating and unforgiving environment with vast resources that will challenge, inspire, and train to excellence the next generation of scientists, engineers, technologists and entrepreneurs in high-tech tools, problem solving, teamwork and innovation.

** Hotel Mars  – The John Bachelor Show/The Space Show – Wednesday, Apr.1.2021 – Purdue professor Dr. Haym Benaroya spoke with John Batchelor and Dr. David Livingston about the “Russia China plan for a lunar South Pole base, future lunar settlement development, lunar mining economic value and more“.

** How satellite images are helping one country hand out cash – BBC News

Togo has found a high-tech way to identify people who need financial help in the pandemic and send them emergency cash.

They use computers to search for clues in satellite images, then distribute money through mobile phones.

** March 30, 2021 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

** March 31, 2021 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

** April 2, 2021 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

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The Space Show this week – April.5.2021

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

1. Tuesday, Apr. 6, 2021; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT): No program today due to David’s eye surgery.

2. Wednesday, Apr. 7 2021: No Hotel Mars due to David’s eye surgery.

3. Friday, Apr.9, 2021; 9:30-11 am PDT (11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): No show due to David’s eye surgery and recovery.

4. Sunday, Apr.11, 2021; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): We welcome Erasmo Acosta, retired engineer, to discuss rotating space habitats and space resource development and usage.

Some recent shows:

** Friday, April.2.2021Bruce Pittman talked about his education proposal, “Spacecraft Nation: A Toolkit for Building Back Better Using Space” (Spacecraft Nation.docx):

Spacecraft Nation is envisioned as a $500 million/year, 5 year national investment program, operating in all 50 states, with the goal of upgrading America’s technical skills and technical toolkits to solve the many multidisciplinary problems inherent in space development and apply those skills to terrestrial and space challenges. Space is a fascinating and unforgiving environment with vast resources that will challenge, inspire, and train to excellence the next generation of scientists, engineers, technologists and entrepreneurs in high-tech tools, problem solving, teamwork and innovation.

** Hotel Mars – The John Bachelor Show/The Space Show – Wednesday, Apr.1.2021 – Purdue professor Dr. Haym Benaroya spoke with John Batchelor and Dr. David Livingston about the “Russia China plan for a lunar South Pole base, future lunar settlement development, lunar mining economic value and more“.

** Tuesday, Mar.30.2021Michelle Evans discussed “her discovery and the subsequent expansion of her Mach25media.com website regarding the X-15 rocket plane. Many additional topics were discussed.

** 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 – Dr. David Livingston

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Videos: “Space to Ground” + Other ISS reports – April.5.2021

Here is the latest episode in NASA’s Space to Ground weekly report on activities related to the International Space Station:

** Port Relocation of SpaceX Crew Dragon on the International Space Station – NASA

On Monday, April 5 starting at 6 a.m. EDT, watch the first-ever port relocation for a U.S. commercial spacecraft! Four astronauts will undock their SpaceX Crew Dragon “Resilience” from the International Space Station’s Harmony module forward port, and take a short ride to redock at Harmony’s zenith, or space-facing port.  The autonomous relocation maneuver, taking about 45 minutes, will prepare for the arrival of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts in late April, and the upcoming delivery of new solar arrays this summer. Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will be aboard the spacecraft. 

** The Beauty of Earth immortalized from Space (ISS – International Space Station) Documentaryritm 1 – YouTube

Breathtaking sceneries captured from the International Space Station, as seen through the eyes of NASA astronauts during their months spent there. Each share their unique experiences and the overwhelming impact the first views had on them, while describing in their own words the beauty of Earth from Space. The perspective can be a life changing experience, and most mention the profound realization of the Earth seen as one big living planet, on which everything is interconnected and there are no borders.

** Expedition 64 Inflight Commercial Crew Program With Steve Stich – April 2, 2021 – NASA Video

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Mike Hopkins of NASA conducted a question and answer session with Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich of NASA during an in-flight event April 2 marking the 10th anniversary of the initiation of the program. Rubins, who flew to the station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft last October is in the final weeks of her six-month mission on the station as is Hopkins, who rode on the SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial vehicle “Resilience” to the outpost last November.

** Expedition 64 Celebrating Station Science Inflight – March 30, 2021 – NASA Video

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Victor Glover of NASA discussed life and work aboard the complex during an in-flight event March 30 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Payload Operations Integration Center at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Children and grandchildren of payload controllers responsible for science operations on the station participated in the event. Glover arrived on the station last November aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle “Resilience” and is in the final weeks of his six-month mission on the outpost.

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