The Space Show this week – April.22.2019

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

1. Monday, April 22, 2019; 2-3:30 pm PDT (4-5:30 pm CDT, 5-6:30 pm EDT): Daniel Suarez, author of Delta-v, an excellent novel.

2. Tuesday, April 23, 2019; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): We welcome back Jeffrey Smith to discuss his recent booster series articles on The Space Review.

3. Wednesday, April 24, 2019: Hotel Mars. See Upcoming Show Menu and the website newsletter for details. Hotel Mars is pre-recorded by John Batchelor. It is archived on The Space Show site after John posts it on his website.

4. Friday, April 26, 2019; 9:30-11 am PDT; 11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): We welcome Dr. Umberto Cavallaro regarding his excellent, unique and most interesting book, The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks: A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic.

5. Sunday, April 28, 2019; 12 pm PDT (3:00 pm EDT, 2:00 pm CDT): We welcome back Michael Ciancone to discuss his spaceflight bibliography, the important 2018 IAC in Bremen, IAC 2019 in Washington, DC, and the Orion Service Module program with ESA.

Some recent shows:

** Tue, 04/16/2019 – David Livingston led a discussion among listeners about “the 2024 lunar timetable, FH [Falcon Heavy] barge recovery, Griffith Observatory public interest”.

** Sun, 04/14/2019Jay Wittner talked about “Integrated Space Plan, human spaceflight development now and into the future, [and] why The Space Plan and human spaceflight is essential”.

** Fri, 04/12/2019Kim Holder talked about “ news and update. Returning to the Moon, the Moon as a virtual world and more”.

** Tue, 04/09/2019Dr. Mike Gruntman gave a “historical analysis of Tyuratam Missile Range to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, aerospace education, returning to the Moon, inspiration, Elon Musk, SpaceX, Jeff Bezos and much more”.

See also:
* The Space Show on Vimeo – webinar videos
* The Space Show’s Blog – summaries of interviews.
* The Space Show Classroom Blog – tutorial programs

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

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


Space policy roundup – April.22.2019

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:


** Episode T+119: Dr. John Charles – Main Engine Cut Off – “Dr. John Charles spent nearly 33 years at NASA—most recently as Chief Scientist of the Human Research Program—working on human spaceflight through Shuttle, Mir, ISS, and beyond. He lead missions such as STS-95 (John Glenn’s Shuttle flight), STS-107, and the Twins Study with Scott and Mark Kelly. He retired from NASA in February 2018 and is now the Scientist in Resident at Space Center Houston. We talk about his career, the human spaceflight issues he worked and solved in his time at NASA, and the things that need to be solved for the exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”

** The Space Show – Tue, 04/16/2019 – David Livingston led a discussion among listeners about “the 2024 lunar timetable, FH [Falcon Heavy] barge recovery, Griffith Observatory public interest”.

** April 18, 2019 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black


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

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – April.21.2019

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs:

** 60 ThinSats built by middle and high school students reached space aboard Northrop-Grumman Cygnus cargo vessel launch on Antares rocket to the ISS: 60 ThinSat Constellation focused on STEM, Launched successfully April 17th

Mission Success yesterday for Indiana’s NearSpace Launch Inc. (NSL) ThinSat constellations launched off the Antares NG-11 on route to International Space Station. The 60 ThinSat were developed for Virginia Space as a STEM program for middle and high schools. Over 400 students participated in the testing and delivering of experiments in orbit today. The school teams were overseen by Twiggs Space Labs.

Co-founder of Twiggs Space Labs and Co-Inventor of the CubeSat, Bob Twiggs, states, “Our goal is to inspire future generations of engineers and scientists through innovation in the field of space.” Twiggs goes further to say, “To me, this (ThinSat launch) is the most exciting day of my career.” 

ThinSat is a new pioneering model for satellites that are scalable, simpler, and more affordable. Their focus is to broaden access to space for educational and space research participants.

The ThinSat comes in an array of sizes that comply with the CubeSat launcher. The 11.2 cm by 11.7 cm by 2 cm ThinSat version was the first model to launch this week. The ThinSat team choose to use EyeStar radios and Alta Devices solar technology. The NSL’s EyeStar radios allow for 24/7 connectivity via Globalstar’s constellation. Alta Devices solar cells provide a unique modular, lightweight, flexible form factor with high efficiency characteristics.

The ThinSat inventor and co-founder of NSL, Hank Voss states, “ThinSats will travel in a region of the atmosphere that is important to climate and space weather forecasts, but rarely studied because atmospheric drag makes it hard to keep satellites there,” Voss also expressed, as an emeritus professor, he is “thankful to Virginia Space and Twiggs Space Labsfor investing into the project that has a such strong STEM and research outreach.”

The ThinSat components were developed by NearSpace Launch Inc. (NSL) of Upland, IN.

Scalable models of ThinSats from 3U to 27U in size.

See also:

** 3 CubeSats of BIRDS-3 program reach ISS after launch on Northrop-Grumman Cygnus cargo vehicle. BIRDS-3 is

led by Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan and involves students from Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Japan.

The goal is for the participating countries to create indigenous space programs “by designing, building, testing, launching and operating, [their] first satellite(s)”.

The 3 satellites – Uguisu, NepaliSat-1, and Raavana-1 (Sri Lanka) – are expected to be deployed from the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) “Kibo” in May or June.

** Other student CubeSats launched to the ISS aboard the Cygnus included the three Virginia university projects described here in previous roundups plus several other college spacecraft:

More about BIRDS-3:

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-111 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Reminder: May 14 Deadline to Order Tickets for TAPR/AMSAT Banquet
  • First Ham in Space, AMSAT Life Member, Owen Garriott, W5LFL, SK
  • AMSAT VP for Human Spaceflight Programs Explains Operations Onboard the ISS
  • Seats Still Available for AMSAT Academy
  • Amateur Radio Cubesats Aboard Cygnus Launch: BIRDS-3, Swiatowid, KrakSat, EntrySat
  • Australian CubeSat to use 76 GHz
  • 2M0SQL Releases Pass Recorder Version 1.5
  • FUNcube Data Warehouse URL Change
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • AMSAT-India’s ISS Demonstration and Outreach Success
  • NASA Hosts University Students to Discuss Future of Space Exploration
  • Reports Virgin Orbital Adds Guam to Launch Sites
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:


Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past

Carnivals of Space #607 & #608 – Urban Astronomer & Everyday Spacer

The Urban Astronomer hosts the Carnival of Space #607.

And the Everyday Spacer hosts the Carnival of Space #608.

“Artist’s impression of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri. The double star Alpha Centauri AB is visible to the upper right of Proxima itself. Credit: ESO”. Via Universe Today

Space transport roundup – April.20.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport:

[ Update April.21.2019, 10:25 am EDT: An explosion took place on Saturday at Cape Canaveral during a SpaceX test of a Crew Dragon propulsion system. There is lots of speculation going on but we won’t know what actually happened, the cause, and the ramifications on SpaceX projects until the company gives a briefing on the accident. So far this is the only info released by the company:

Earlier today, SpaceX conducted a series of engine tests on a Crew Dragon test vehicle on our test stand at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand.

Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test. Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners.

Here is a statement from the NASA administrator:

More at


** Space Access 2019 has been underway in Silicon Valley since Thursday. Check out notes on the many space transport presentations and panels at #SpaceAccess19 hashtag on Twitter. Brian Wang has also posted notes and images of slides at from several of the talks.

** Northrop-Grumman Cygnus berthed to the ISS on Friday following the launch from Wallops Island on Wednesday:

More about the mission:

** Chinese Long March 3B launches a Beidou navigation satellite today: Beidou-3G2Q navigation satellite launched on Long March 3B –

** Virgin Galactic plans ramp up of SS2 flights after interior is upgraded for carrying six people along with the two pilots: Virgin Galactic expects rapid conclusion of SpaceShipTwo test flights after downtime –

From VG chief test pilot Dave Mackay:

“The next time it flies, we expect to have the full commercial cabin installed,” he said. A few other modifications to the vehicle are also in progress, such as changes to cockpit displays.

“This downtime might be fairly long,” he said. “Once we get out of that, we should be able to get through the remainder of the test program pretty quickly and get into commercial service.”

** Next flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard not till mid-July at the earliest according to documents filed with the FCC:

The most recent New Shepard test flight was on January 23rd. That test flight is following the pattern of previous ones in being declared successful and then followed by a gap of a few months before the next flight, usually with no explanation for what modifications or upgrades they are making during in the interim. Blue Origin officials have indicated that passenger flights could start this year but that several more test flights were required.

** LinkSpace reusable vertical takeoff and landing rocket flies again:

See video also at Flight of LinkSpace vertical-takeoff-and-landing rocket –

** Blue Origin will rehab old engine stand at Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama:

“Under a Commercial Space Launch Act agreement, Blue Origin will upgrade and refurbish Test Stand 4670, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to support testing of their BE-3U and BE-4 rocket engines. Constructed in 1965, Test Stand 4670 served as the backbone for Saturn V propulsion testing for the Apollo program, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Credits: NASA”

** ULA prepares rockets for Boeing Starliner crew test missions, currently set to start in August: Atlas V Starliner Updates: Atlas V Rockets in Production to Launch Astronaut Crews – ULA

United Launch Alliance is finalizing production of the Atlas V rockets that will launch the first two crewed flights of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station, known as the Crew Flight Test (CFT) and Post Certification Mission-1 (PCM-1).

At our factory in Decatur, Alabama, skilled technicians are putting the finishing touches on the CFT hardware before shipment to the Cape Canaveral launch site, and also working on the assembly and testing of the PCM-1 rocket.

These launches will be the second and third flights of the Starliner program. The first flight, the Orbital Flight Test (OFT), will be an uncrewed checkout mission to the International Space Station scheduled for August 2019. All Atlas V hardware for OFT is in Cape Canaveral and will soon begin processing for the first flight.

A Centaur upper stage with two Liquid Oxygen/Liquid Hydrogen RL10 engines. A Centaur with 2 engines, rather than the usual single engine version, is  needed for the Atlas V launcher that will send a Boeing Starliner crew vehicle to the ISS. Photo credit: ULA

** NASA and Boeing rehearse Starliner sea rescue operations in case the standard ground landing is aborted for some reason: NASA’s Commercial Crew, DoD Teams Conduct Crew Rescue Exercise – Commercial Crew Program/NASA

NASA and the Department of Defense Human Space Flight Support (HSFS) Office Rescue Division are conducting a search and rescue training exercise over the next several days at the Army Warf on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the first at-sea exercise with the Boeing CST-100 Starliner training capsule, known as Boiler Plate 3, ahead of the commercial crew flight test with astronauts targeted for later this year.

During normal return scenarios, Boeing’s Starliner will land on land in a safe zone of about 15 square miles in the Western United States. Throughout the commercial crew development phases with NASA, Boeing has performed dozens of qualification tests on its parachute and airbag systems simulating conditions on land and in the water.

** Update on development of the ULA Vulcan rocket: United Launch Alliance Progresses Towards Purpose-Built Vulcan Centaur for National Security Space Missions – ULA

“Manufacturing of Vulcan Centaur pathfinder and qualification hardware in the factory has been going on for nearly a year and just a few weeks ago, the team began to manufacture the first flight hardware,” said Bruno. “It is a tremendously exciting time as we watch the first flight vehicle being built.”

** SpaceX:

** A bottom portion of Falcon Heavy core booster was salvaged after it fell during rough seas: SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster tips over on drone ship, returns to port in pieces – Teslarati.

Some photos at port:

**** The fairings, though, appear to be in excellent shape after retrieval from the sea following their parasail soft landings (video via

**** Next Cargo Dragon mission set for April 30th from Cape Canaveral: SpaceX CRS-17 Launch Now Scheduled for April 30 – SpaceX/NASA

NASA will host a media teleconference at 11 a.m. Monday, April 22, to discuss select science investigations the Dragon will deliver to the astronauts living and working aboard the orbiting laboratory. NASA will stream audio from the discussion at

**** The DoD sponsored STP-2 Falcon Heavy mission involves the launch of nearly 2 dozen satellites and multiple firings of the upper stage: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy flies a complex mission for the Air Force in launch video – Teslarati.

SpaceX has posted a webpage dedicated to the mission: STP-2 Mission | SpaceX.

And released the STP-2 Animation:

The STP-2 mission will be among the most challenging launches in SpaceX history with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate deployment orbits, a final propulsive passivation maneuver and a total mission duration of over six hours. In addition, the U.S. Air Force plans to reuse side boosters from the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy launch, recovered after a return to launch site landing, making it the first reused Falcon Heavy ever flown.

Not all of the small satellites to be deployed are military. For example, Prox-1 is

a microsat developed by students at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta through the Air Force’s University Nanosat Program to demonstrate satellite close proximity operations and rendezvous.

**** Two Falcon boosters spotted on way to Florida:  SpaceX ships two Falcon boosters to Florida for a busy spring of launches – Teslarati.

**** SpaceX raising money for development of the Starlink global Internet constellation project and the Starship space transport system: SpaceX preps second $500M fundraiser as Starlink & Starship make progress – Teslarati

**** An account of the naming of the SpaceX engines from the company’s top engine guru: SpaceX Stories: How Did SpaceX Rocket Engines Get Their Names –

**** Boca Chica Update:

>> The Starhopper’s Raptor engine was removed after a short test hop was made a couple of weeks ago. Presumably the three engines needed for lifting the vehicle up a few hundred meters are being prepared for installation.

>> Meanwhile, observers have watched work on the Starhopper structure and the facilities around it.

>> The construction of the high altitude test vehicle is proceeding:

**** Dragon-wings on a Starship (maybe) – On the weekend of the restart of the Game of Thrones television series, Elon Musk tweeted what seemed like a joke:

Subsequent tweets, however, indicated that he wasn’t completely kidding. In response to the question, “How serious are you on a scale of 1 to 10 tho ?!“, he responded:

The idea is that the extra surface area provided by deployable wings would distribute heat during reentry sufficiently to eliminate the need for more complex solutions such as transpiration cooling to keeping the vehicle from melting:

We’ll have to see if this goes any further than mulling an idea on Tweeter. Scott Manley did some simulations with Kerbal Space Program and was impressed with the effects such wings would have:

In an absolutely serious tweet Elon musk suggested that dragon wings might enhance the capabilities of his stainless steel starship concept. Thanks to the power of commercial spacecraft simulation software we are able to test this concept and prove that it was more than just a joke.

**** The business end of the Falcon Heavy in high contrast: APOD: 2019 April 20 – Falcon Heavy Launch Close up

** Documentaries about two American rocket pioneers:

**** The Rocket Man, Bob Traux – a Rocket Engineering Documentary from Spark

A leader in rocket engineering and a man passionate about space travel, Bob Truax cannot go unmentioned in the history of the space shuttle. Described as an “individual who is committed to his ideals, goals and objectives,” the 2006 film documents his life and achievements.

**** The American Rocketeer

“The American Rocketeer” is a 2010 Jet Propulsion Laboratory production about JPL’s origins. Much of the focus is on Frank Malina, an aeronautical engineer and protégé of physicist Theodore von Kármán.


The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos