3. Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020: Hotel Mars TBA pre-recorded. See upcoming show menu on the home page for program details.
4. Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): No program today. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
5. Friday, Nov. 27, 2020; 9:30-11 am PDT (11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): No show for the Thanksgiving Holiday.
6. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): Welcome to Open Lines. We want to hear from you so give us a call. All space, science, tech, STEM, STEAM topics welcome as are all callers.
Some recent shows:
** Sunday, Nov.22.2020 – Rob Ronci and Trent Tresch talked about “for news, updates, and policy discussions regarding the Caelus Foundation“, which advocates “for broad participation in the space domain and to engage and empower people around the world to build a space-centric community through their decisions and actions”.
** Tuesday, Nov.17.2020 – Dallas Bienhoff discussed cislunar development and also “possible ideas for the new administration and NASA, Artemis, Mars, returning to the Moon, space tugs, the Gateway, private sector advances, and much more“.
Opening another portal to receive more shipments and deploy more satellites and experiments is the challenge a private company took up – Nanoracks LLC, headquartered in Webster, Texas. With support from NASA, the company built a new and different kind of doorway into space.
The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock Module will serve as another door to space, helping to move larger payloads inside and outside the station. This will alleviate one bottleneck slowing down the deployment of new small satellites and CubeSats from the space station. Bishop will also significantly increase the amount of research that can be done in low-Earth orbit – research that helps us better understand the space environment but also has implications for Earth imaging, medical research, and biomanufacturing.
** Sunday, Nov.22.2020 – Rob Ronci and Trent Tresch talked about “for news, updates, and policy discussions regarding the Caelus Foundation“, which advocates “for broad participation in the space domain and to engage and empower people around the world to build a space-centric community through their decisions and actions“.
Listen to Colonel Eric Felt talk about what the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is doing to keep the U.S. competitive edge in space. Building a strong team is important and he believes that is part of the secret sauce that makes the AFRL so successful. Learn about cislunar and XGEO and why these are exciting areas to be studying. Col Felt reflects that the growing interest in cislunar and XGEO comes down to commercial activity, resources and political advantages. He said there are cost and performance advantages coming from proliferated LEO and that every mission in the future that can be done from LEO will be done from LEO. With so many thousands of satellites going up, a high level of automation will be essential for their management; however, there will be limits to this kind of autonomy – especially in a war fighting scenario.
Luxembourg just entered a strategic partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) to create a “European Space Resources Innovation Centre”, or ESRIC. Unique of its kind, ESRIC aims to become an internationally recognised centre of expertise for scientific, technical, business and economic aspects related to the use of space resources for human and robotic exploration, as well as for a future in-space economy.
Based in Luxembourg, ESRIC will partner with public and private international players in this field to create a hub of excellence for space resources in Europe. The creation of ESRIC was part of the Luxembourg government initiative SpaceResources.lu launched in 2016 to establish an ecosystem favourable to the development of activities related to the exploration and use of space resources.
ESRIC’s activities will focus on space resources research and development, drawing together excellence from public research and its facilities, with private sector initiative and efficiency. The centre will also contribute to economic growth by supporting commercial initiatives and start-ups, offering a business incubation component and enabling technology transfer between space and non-space industries.
** SpaceX’s CRS-21 Mission to the Space Station: What’s On Board – NASA
The 21st SpaceX cargo resupply mission that will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carries a variety of critical research and technology demonstrations to the International Space Station. The mission will be the first on an upgraded version of the company’s Dragon cargo spacecraft that can carry more science payloads to and from the orbiting laboratory. The craft’s cargo includes critical materials that support research ranging from heart disease to asteroid mining and a new commercial airlock as part of NASA’s goal to achieve a sustainable economy in low-Earth orbit. Learn more here: https://go.nasa.gov/3pzkkt8
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience successfully docked to the International Space Station at 11:01 p.m. EST Monday, transporting NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission lifted off Sunday, Nov. 15, at 7:27 p.m. on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission is the first of six certified, crew missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The crew will conduct science and maintenance during a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory and will return in spring 2021. It is scheduled to be the longest human space mission launched from the United States. The Crew Dragon spacecraft is capable of staying in orbit for at least 210 days, as a NASA requirement.
** NASA Leaders Share Update Following NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Arrival at the International Space Station – NASA
Tune in to hear NASA leadership discuss the successful launch and docking of Crew Dragon “Resilience” following the arrival of the Crew-1 astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Soichi Noguchi at the International Space Station. This is the first crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, following certification by NASA for regular flights to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Learn more about the mission by visiting https://www.nasa.gov/crew1
Working outside the International Space Station, Expedition 64 Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos will conduct the eighth spacewalk of the year at the orbital outpost, using the Poisk module on the space-facing side of the Russian segment as an airlock for the first time. Among other tasks to be performed during the excursion, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will begin the decommissioning of the venerable Pirs Docking Compartment by disconnecting a telemetry cable linking Pirs to the Zvezda Service Module and connecting it to Poisk. Pirs, which was launched in September 2001 and has served as a docking port and a spacewalk airlock for the past two decades, is scheduled to be replaced next year by the new “Nauka” Multi-Purpose Laboratory Module that will be launched on a Russian Proton rocket. The spacewalk will be the first for both Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov and the 232nd spacewalk in support of space station assembly, maintenance and upgrades.
** How Crew Dragon Will Approach & Dock To ISS (Short!) – Scott Manley
I have a much longer video on proximity operations, but since this is highly relevant, here’s a quick explainer of this final approach maneuvers for today’s planned docking of Dragon.
** Crew Dragon docks to ISS a day after launch from KSC. The Falcon 9 lifted off on Sunday evening and 27 hours later the Dragon with four astronauts (Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Soichi Noguchi) aboard reached the station. The F9 booster successfully landed on a droneship in the Atlantic. This was the first operational mission for the Crew Dragon. Last week the system obtained official certification from NASA as a human-rated transport.
** Arianespace Vega rocket fails to reach orbit. This is the second Vega failure in past three launches. The payload included the Earth observation satellites SEOSAT-Ingenio from Spain and TARANIS from France, representing about $400M in value. A mix-up in cabling appears to be the prime suspect: Human error blamed for Vega launch failure – SpaceNews. See also
Two and a half months after Vega’s successful return to flight, the Vega launch vehicle lifted off as scheduled on 17 November at 02:52 CET / 22:52 local time on 16 November from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The first three stages functioned nominally until the ignition of the AVUM upper stage, eight minutes after departure from the launch pad. At that time, a degraded trajectory was detected, followed by a loss of control of the vehicle and the subsequent loss of the mission.
The launcher fell in a completely uninhabited area close to the drop zone planned for the Zefiro-9 stage.
Initial investigations, conducted overnight with the available data, indicate that a problem related to the integration of the fourth-stage AVUM nozzle activation system is the most likely cause of the loss of control of the launcher.
** ULA Atlas V puts NRO spysat into orbit with launch from Cape Canaveral. This was the first Atlas V launch using Northrop Grumman GEM 63 rocket motors for the three side boosters.
*** China’s Galactic Energy company sends payload to orbit on first orbital launch of the CERES-1 rocket. The vehicle uses solid-fuel motors in the first 3 stages and the final stage uses a hydrazine based liquid fueled engine. The company is developing the Pallas-1 with all liquid propulsion stages for launch in 2021.
Today, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its fifty first flight (PSLV-C49), successfully launched EOS-01 along with nine international customer satellites from the First Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.
PSLV-C49 lifted-off at 1511 Hrs (IST), after a delay of nine minutes because of inclement weather conditions observed during countdown. After 15 minutes and 20 seconds, EOS-01 was successfully injected into its orbit. Subsequently, nine commercial satellites were injected into their intended orbits. After separation, the two solar arrays of EOS-01 were deployed automatically and the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network at Bengaluru assumed control of the satellite. In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration.
EOS-01 is an earth observation satellite, intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
The nine customer satellites from Lithuania (1), Luxembourg (4) and USA(4) were launched under a commercial arrangement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).
** Rocket Lab to attempt recovery of first stage booster on launch set for November 20. This will be the first attempt to recover an Electron booster. The company has been carrying out tests of booster return during recent flights.
“Recovering the first stage of a small launch vehicle is uncharted territory. What we’re trying to achieve with Electron is an incredibly difficult and complex challenge, but one we’re willing to pursue to further boost launch cadence and deliver even more frequent launch opportunities to small satellite operators,” says Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s founder and CEO. “Bringing a whole first stage back intact is the ultimate goal, but success for this mission is really about gaining more data, particularly on the drogue and parachute deployment system. Regardless of the condition the stage comes back in, we’ll learn a great deal from this test and use it to iterate forward for the next attempt.”
Electron’s first stage will undertake the following complex maneuvers on its journey back to Earth:
Approximately two and a half minutes after lift-off, at an altitude of around 80 km, Electron’s first and second stages will separate per standard mission procedure. Electron’s second stage will continue into orbit, where the Kick Stage will separate and deploy the satellites.
With the engines now shut down on Electron’s first stage, a reaction control system will re-orient the stage 180-degrees to place it on an ideal angle for re-entry, designed to enable it to survive the incredible heat and pressure known as “the wall” during its descent back to Earth.
After decelerating to <Mach 2, a drogue parachute will be deployed to increase drag and to stabilize the first stage as it descends.
In the final kilometres of descent, a large main parachute will be deployed to further slow the stage and enable a controlled splashdown.
A Rocket Lab vessel will rendezvous with the stage after splashdown and retrieve it for transport back to Rocket Lab’s Production Complex for inspection.
If tests with splashdowns are successful, the plan for subsequent flights is to use a helicopter to grab the booster in the air by its parachute and return the booster to the launch site for refurbishment and re-use on future launches.
One reason for the delay, Rocket Lab said, was that it was waiting on NASA to certify the autonomous flight termination system (AFTS) that will be used on the rocket to provide range safety. NASA controls the launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility, where LC-2 is located. “There’s a very long certification process that, quite frankly, we probably underestimated how long it would take,” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, said in an interview in August.
That certification process is ongoing. In a Nov. 10 talk at a Maryland Space Business Roundtable webinar, David Pierce, director of NASA Wallops, mentioned preparations for Rocket Lab’s first launch as part of an overview of the facility’s activities. “We’re really proud of our work with Rocket Lab,” he said. “We’re working really hard to support Rocket Lab with a launch in ’21.”
** Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo flight postponed due to pandemic restrictions. including a “stay at home” order from the New Mexico governor for the rest of November. The first rocket powered SS2 flight to high altitude since February 2019 had been set for late this week. It would also be the first space flight for a SS2 from the New Mexico spaceport, which is now VG’s primary operating site.
it is developing two additional next-generation orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs) that will debut in 2021. Its first, Sherpa-FX, will fly on a fully dedicated rideshare mission with SpaceX, dubbed SXRS-3 by Spaceflight, no earlier than December 2020. The next two ESPA-class space vehicles in the company’s portfolio are designed to provide more orbital diversification, including flexible manifest changes, deployment to multiple altitudes and orbital planes, and rapid launch solutions.
Sherpa-FX, the first innovative orbital transfer vehicle to debut, is capable of executing multiple deployments, providing independent and detailed deployment telemetry, and flexible interfaces, all at a low cost. This free flyer separates from a launch vehicle prior to deploying any satellites, with satellite separations initiated by onboard avionics once clear of the launch vehicle. It is quickly configurable and can move from vehicle to vehicle and mission to mission. It includes independent, near real-time, worldwide telemetry via GlobalStar. It will carry 14 spacecraft, including hosted payloads, on the upcoming SXRS-3 mission.
Sherpa-LTC features a high thrust, bi-propellant, green propulsion subsystem integrated seamlessly within the available space of the original free flyer. By including this new propulsion technology from Benchmark Space Systems, Sherpa-LTC provides a low cost, rapid orbital transfer for many sizes of small spacecraft. It’s compatible with all launch vehicles Spaceflight currently works with and enables reaching higher orbits quickly through SpaceX Starlink missions and similar flights. It is scheduled to fly the second half of 2021.
Sherpa-LTE is a high specific impulse (Isp), Xenon propellant, electric propulsion OTV. It builds on the Sherpa program by incorporating ACE (Apollo Constellation Engine), a low thrust, high efficiency, radiation hardened Hall thruster propulsion system developed by Apollo Fusion, Inc. As ACE systems are able to generate over 6 km/s of delta-V, Sherpa-LTE now has the capability to deliver customers to GEO, Cislunar, or Earth-escape orbits. The Sherpa-LTE provides a low-cost alternative to purchasing full direct-inject launch vehicles and will extend the ability of small launch vehicles that are currently under development to reach beyond low Earth orbit. The Sherpa-LTE is targeted to fly mid-2021.
Orbit Fab has signed an agreement with Spaceflight Inc. to launch the company’s first operational fuel depot to orbit. Tanker 001 Tenzing, which will provide fuel for the fast growing in-orbit servicing industry, is expected to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 no earlier than in June 2021.
Once launched, Tanker 001 Tenzing will store propellant in sun synchronous orbit, where it will be available to satellite servicing vehicles or other spacecraft that need to replenish fuel supplies. The tanker is one of several payloads to launch on a Spaceflight Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle, which is capable of executing multiple deployments. Spaceflight’s first OTV, Sherpa-FX, is scheduled to debut no earlier than December 2020 on a SpaceX rideshare mission and provides independent and detailed deployment telemetry, and flexible interfaces, all at a low cost.
Following the successful launch of the Crew Dragon to the ISS (see top item), SpaceX has several more launches coming up in the next few weeks, including two set for this Saturday at opposite coasts of the country:
The $316 million contract [to launch a National Reconnaissance Office satellite in fiscal year 2022] was the first awarded to SpaceX under the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 launch service procurement. The other provider selected in this program, United Launch Alliance, was awarded $337 million to launch two missions comparable to the one awarded to SpaceX.
This raised eyebrows because SpaceX’s previous national security launch bids were priced much lower than ULA’s. A recent Falcon Heavy launch contract SpaceX won from NASA, for example, was $117 million. In the first Phase 2 award, ULA is launching two missions almost for the price of one SpaceX mission.
But [SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne] Shotwell insisted the company’s launch prices are not going up. SpaceX is however charging the government for the cost of an extended payload fairing, upgrades to the company’s West Coast launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force in California, and a vertical integration facility required for NRO missions.
Former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe is the second member of the all-private crew that SpaceX is scheduled to launch late next year for Axiom Space, the company confirmed to CNBC on Monday.
President of Israel Reuven Rivlin made the announcement shortly after SpaceX launched its Crew-1 mission for NASA on Sunday evening.
Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who previously worked for NASA and flew to space four times, will be the mission commander for AX-1, with Stibbe set to serve as a mission specialist.
Axiom has yet to name the remaining two members of the AX-1 mission
**** A high altitude flight of the prototype Starship SN8 was delayed when an engine failed during a test firing. The test aimed to emulate the situation during landing when the engines are fed with propellants from the spherical reserve tanks in the nosecone and in the main oxygen tank. The failure of the engine led to the failure of the pneumatic system that controls the venting of the tanks. The header tank might have blown off the top of the rocket but a burst valve gave way and saved the day.
Elon Musk commented about what happened:
About 2 secs after starting engines, martyte covering concrete below shattered, sending blades of hardened rock into engine bay. One rock blade severed avionics cable, causing bad shutdown of Raptor.
And Scott Manley talks in this video posted soon after the test and before Elon’s comments but he still provides some interesting info about the propulsion system: Nov.13: Starship Test Destroys Raptor Engine, But Burst Disc Saves Rest Of Vehicle
**** Meanwhile, work continues on multiple prototypes from SN9 up through SN15.
SN8 fired up its engines for the third time, but suffered a loss of pneumatics and was unable to drain the LOX header tank in the nosecone- luckily a burst disk prevented a potentially catastrophic overpressure event. Some liquid that looked like molten metal could be seen dripping from Raptor after firing. Also included, a comparison of all 3 SN8 static fires so far. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
Meanwhile, in Boca Chica! New Raptor SN42 paid a visit to Starship SN8, but wasn’t installed. Then SN46(!) turned up in the RaptorVan, sporting a pumpkin! (Fresh from Halloween testing at McGregor?) Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
SN9 was tested with the newly assembled extra wide Self Propelled Modular Transporter, work on SN8 continued, and a nosecone barrel section was worked on inside the nosecone fabrication tent. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)
You will see in this video that I knew early on that my view (and yours) was going to be different forever and just took pictures of everything. It was a responsibility to document SpaceX progress before we had to move and I thought that was the end of BocaChica Maria. Thankfully as we sold, SpaceX asked me to continue documenting with perks because we cooperated with the buyout. I was keeping something familiar and being a SpaceX influencer.
**** Other Starship and space transport reports:
**** Nov.17: SpaceX Starship Engine: Problem solved! & Crew Dragon Crew-1 Flight Summary – What about it!?
Today amongst other things I’ll explain to you, what SpaceX is doing to fix the engine problems on Starship Serial Number 8 and I’ll give you a detailed launch summary for the SpaceX and NASA Crew-1 Dragon launch.
**** Nov.14: Super Heavy’s Super Precision, Starship Updates and the NASA/SpaceX Crew-1 Launch – Marcus House
This is quite the week for SpaceX. We, of course, have all the amazing Starship Updates for the week, including some interesting talk on Super Heavy’s Super Precision capability. On top of that we have the NASA/SpaceX Crew-1 Launch. This is going to be quite the milestone for SpaceX. The static fire is done, and the final preparations are underway. On top of that, we just witnessed the launch of ULA’s NROL-101 mission.
Hello and welcome to episode 7 of the Dongfang Hour China Aero/Space News Roundup, covering the period of November 9 to 15! This week, we bring you the launch of a Long March 6 carrying some very interesting payloads, APT Satellite ordering a new GEO HTS satellite from CGWIC, and also some activity happening among Chinese LV manufacturers.
Marcia’s career includes being the Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission on Space, a Senior Level Specialist in Aerospace and Telecommunications Policy at the Congressional Research Service, and a Director of the Space Studies Board at the National Research Council. While Marcia likes to be referred to as a space policy analyst, and downplays her career, she is an expert in space policy, and I’m thrilled to have her on the show this week as we discuss the election and its effect on the space program.
Under the agency’s “Moonlight” initiative, ESA is exploring with industry the necessary technical solutions along with delivery models for the provision of lunar telecommunication and navigation services.
** NASA, Artemis, Space Force & The Election Results – Scott Manley