The Space Show this week – Aug.31.2020

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

1. Monday, Aug. 31, 2020; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT: No special programming.

2. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT): Welcome to a special Tuesday evening OPEN LINES program. All space, science and policy calls welcome. First time callers welcome. We want to hear from you.

3. Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020: Hotel MarsJohn Batchelor and Dr. David Livingston will talk with  Lt. General Steven Kwast, USAF (RET) about standing up the U.S. Space Force to operational status.

4. Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): No special program today.

5. Friday, Sept.4, 2020; 9:30-11 am PDT (11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): We welcome back Dr. Matthew Caplan to discuss his work on the theory of the last astrophysical explosions to ever occur in our universe. See the blog posting for references to Dr. Caplan’s work and theory.

6. Sunday, Sept.6, 2020; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): No show today due to the Labor Day Holiday weekend in the U.S.

Some recent shows:

** The Space Show – Sun. Aug.30.2020Dr. George Nield talked about developments in commercial  spaceports, markets and other commercial space topics.

** The Space Show – Fri. Aug.28.2020Mark Whittington talked about “space policy, going back to the Moon, SLS, Starship and SpaceX, China, commercial space, NASA and space budgeting plus lots more”.

** The Space Show – Tues. Aug.25.202Patrick Host discussed Tough crowd: Small launch vehicles seek niche in ultra-competitive market (pdf) written for Jane’s International Defense Review .

** Sun. Aug.23.2020Dr. Jason Reimuller spoke about “his many academic, training and product development programs plus his science work. We talked EVA spacesuit development and testing, space medicine training, astronaut training, science, the upper atmosphere and much more”.

** Fri. Aug.21.2020Dr. Louis D. Friedman “talked about his new book [Planetary Adventures: From Moscow to Mars (Amazon commission link)], doing business with the Russians and the Chinese, plus his thoughts on Mars, returning to the Moon, the commercial players today, settlement and more”.

** Wed. Aug. 19, 2020 – Hotel Mars – John Batchelor Show/The Space ShowJohn Batchelor and David Livingston talked with Dr. Alan Stern about “the dark side of Pluto and what we know from the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto several years ago”.

** 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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Space policy roundup – Aug.31.2020

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):

International space


** E30 – Public-Private Partnerships in the Space Sector (w Karen Jones and Randy Segal) Aerospace Corp – Center for Space Policy & Strategy (CSPS)

** The Space Show – Sun. Aug.30.2020Dr. George Nield talked about developments in commercial  spaceports, markets and other commercial space topics.

** The Space Show – Fri. Aug.28.2020Mark Whittington talked about “space policy, going back to the Moon, SLS, Starship and SpaceX, China, commercial space, NASA and space budgeting plus lots more”.

** The Space Show – Tues. Aug.25.202Patrick Host discussed Tough crowd: Small launch vehicles seek niche in ultra-competitive market (pdf) written for Jane’s International Defense Review .

** Accelerating 5G, The Role of Satellites and C-Band RelocationConstellations Podcast – YouTube

Today on the Constellations podcast we will discuss the accelerated roll-out of 5G and the role of satellites in the C-band relocation effort. 5G cellular services hold the promise of connecting everything, everyone and unleashing massive amounts of bandwidth for new and innovative applications. To drive America’s leadership in 5G, the FCC is accelerating the roll-out by repurposing the C-band spectrum, which is thought to be optimal for 5G services. Intelsat is one of the satellite operators that has used the entire band and now has agreed to mobilize its operations to promptly relocate to a different portion of the band in support of the 5G roll-out. To tackle this unprecedented and challenging transition plan, Intelsat has put together a team of more than 50 employees focused on this complex clearing initiative. The team is working to successfully and quickly transition current users, while maintaining high-quality, uninterrupted broadcast to more than 100 million American homes and businesses. Intelsat also plans to build and launch multiple new satellites to replace C-band capacity being transitioned to 5G cellular network services. With us today to shed some light on their C-band relocation plan is Tom McNamara, Vice President of C-Band Transition Management for Intelsat. Tom has over 20 years of experience as an operations executive.

** August 26, 2020 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black

** August 28, 2020 Zimmerman/Batchelor | Behind The Black


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Space transport roundup – Aug.28.2020

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

** ULA, SpaceX, and Rocket Lab are all planning launches over the next few days. In fact, SpaceX is targeting two Falcon 9 launches [and one Starship prototype hop]. A Vega rocket is set to launch next week from French Guiana as well.

** ULA set to launch Delta IV Heavy from Cape Canveral with classified military payload. Liftoff is currently set for Saturday morning following a scrub on Thursday morning due to a ground equipment problem.

** ULA aims for first Vulcan rocket launch in  2021: ULA updates Vulcan status, readiness for certification missions –

Development and flight qualification for United Launch Alliance’s new rocket, Vulcan, remains on track and on schedule (with margin) to make its debut flights next year, as do all ground support facilities and flight software elements for the heavy-lift vehicle.

Vulcan’s first two flights, certification missions to clear the rocket to fly category A/B national security payloads for the U.S. Space Force, will loft Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lander outward to the Moon and then Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft on its demonstration mission for NASA to become the third U.S. cargo vehicle for Station operations.

The major elements of the ULA Vulcan Centaur rocket. Credits: ULA

Blue Origin is dealing with turbine pump issues that arose with the BE-4 engines that will be used for the Vulcan first stages: ULA CEO Tory Bruno: Here’s how we beat SpaceX for Space Force’s big contract – Denver Business Journal

By [early 2021], 90% of the Vulcan rocket’s systems and its upgraded Centaur upper stage will have already been flown.

The biggest elements not previously flown will be the booster structure itself and the BE-4 engines.

Blue Origin is still troubleshooting the 75,000-horsepower pumps that bring fuel to the BE-4’s main combustion chamber, Bruno said, adding that’s he confident the issues will soon be solved.

“There’s very little technical risk,” he said. “It isn’t easy, but we know we can do it.”

** China launched a Gaofen-9 optical remote imaging satellite on a Long March 2D rocket on Saturday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Additional payload riders included theTiantuo-5 smallsat to test Internet of Things (IoT) communications and the Duo Gongneng Shiyan Weixing, which is also a technology test satellite.

** Rocket Lab to launch Capella radar satellite on the first mission since a launch failure on July 4th. By the end of July the company had traced the failure to an electrical connection problem and taken corrective actions for a return to flight status by the end of August.

— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) August 25, 2020

Capella is developing a constellation of radar satellites for commercial remote sensing:

Sequoia is a 100 kg class microsatellite and will be positioned in a 45-degree inclination. This mid-inclination allows us to give our customers immediate access to rapid coverage of important regions, including the Middle East, Korea, Japan, Europe, South East Asia, Africa, and the U.S. Like all of our Capella satellites, Sequoia will be able to see through clouds and in the dark and detect sub-0.5 meter changes on Earth’s surface. When fully deployed, our satellite constellation will offer hourly coverage of every point on Earth.

We were fortunate to work with Rocket Lab to name this mission “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical,” a reference to our innovative SAR satellite technology, which overcomes the limits of the optical imagery used in other commercial satellites. Unlike optical, SAR can see through clouds, in all weather conditions and even at night. Our team voted on the mission name in June, ultimately choosing it as a nod to our unique satellite technology and the infamous advertisement campaign for “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” We take our work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves that seriously.

** Astra Space has a new window for their next attempt to launch from the Alaska spaceport:

** PLD Space in Spain report on engine qualification:

** Briefs:


Check out the
The Lurio Report
for news and analysis of key developments in NewSpace

The latest issue:
Changes Here, Starliner Analysis, OneWeb-A UK View
Vol. 15, No. 5, July 24, 2020

Space Frontier Foundation Award for NewSpace Journalism


** SpaceX:

** Two Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral planned during the next few days. Weather and the delays in the launch of the ULA Delta IV Heavy launch mentioned above have affected the schedule so the exact launch times are uncertain at the moment.

  • Starlink 11 – Falcon 9 will take 60 more satellites to low earth orbit for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband Internet constellation
  • SAOCOM 1B – Earth observation satellite for CONAE, Argentina’s space agency.

Currently, the launch schedule shows both launches set for August 30 (Sunday) with Starlink 11 at 1408 GMT (10:08 a.m. EDT) from Pad 39A at KSC and SAOCOM 1B at  2319 GMT (7:19 p.m. EDT) from SLC-40.  However, it’s unlikely they will actually launch the same day.

** SpaceX wins another lunar mission launch contract:

Masten Space Systems announced today that it has selected SpaceX to launch Masten Mission One (MM1). As part of MM1, Masten’s lunar lander will deliver nine NASA-sponsored science and technology demonstration experiments and several commercial payloads to the lunar south pole.

“Having SpaceX’s proven launch success behind us is not only great for us, but it’s great for our customers,” said Masten chief executive officer, Sean Mahoney. “We share a common vision with SpaceX and that makes this more than a partnership. It’s more like a dream team.”

Masten’s first mission to the Moon, MM1 is a collaboration with NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Project Office. The Masten XL-1 lunar lander is scheduled to touch down on the lunar south pole in 2022, carrying a suite of NASA-sponsored scientific instruments and various payloads from commercial space customers.

SpaceX also has contracts for launching payloads to the Moon from iSpace of Japan and Intuitive Machines. In 2019, SpaceX launched Israel’s Beresheet commercial lunar mission, which went successfully into orbit around the Moon but unfortunately fail at its landing attempt.

** Here are some notes on Falcon 9 reusability here from a presentation by a SpaceX manager earlier this year. At the time, the inspection/refurbishment took about 30 days.  Not clear if the $30M mentioned is the cost to SpaceX to prepare a F9 or if it is the price to customers.

**** Starship

SpaceX continues to manage a frenetic pace of activity at Boca Chica. The Raptor engine on the Starship SN6 prototype was test fired last weekend and a low altitude test hop is expected in next few days. Starship SN6 fires up Raptor SN29 –

The SN5 prototype was moved back to the assembly site and appears to have been refurbished from the hop it took on August 4th.

It’s been a year since the Hopper took its jump up to 150 meters and back down for a soft landing: Boca work continues as SpaceX marks anniversary of Starhopper’s final flight –

Good progress has been made in assembling two prototypes – SN8 and SN9 – that will be fully fitted out with body flaps and nosecones.

Here are renderings of SN8 and SN9 as imagined by Neopork (@Neopork85) / Twitter:

A partial propellant tank module titled SN7.1 is also under construction. It will be used to pressure test improved welding techniques and iron alloy.

** Super Heavy booster launch plans. Some of the videos below show construction underway for a structure at Boca Chica for launching Super Heavy Boosters. This will be for occasional test flights. For operational launches, SpaceX plans on using offshore platform:

The first Super Heavy prototype test  hop could happen as early as October according to Elon.

***** Aug.23: SN6 Static Fire with Thermal Time lapse – LabPadre – YouTube

SpaceX Boca Chica has completed a static fire with SN6. No issues seemed to have occurred but it did take three tries. Thermal time lapse shows thermal exchanges on the vehicle. Thermal imagery provided by CrowBit.

***** Aug. 24: SpaceX Boca Chica – Starship SN6 Static Fire – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

Starship SN6 fires up its single Raptor engine (Raptor SN29) for the first time on the third attempt of the day, in magnificent golden hour lighting. Close up, wide angle, full speed and slo mo – all with glorious ambient audio. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)

****** Aug. 26: SpaceX Boca Chica – From SN5 re-hop preps to SN9 sleeving – A busy Spaceport – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

From Starship SN5 being prepared for a re-hop, SN6’s preps for a maiden hop, through to SN9 taking shape, it’s all go at SpaceX Boca Chica! All while the orbital launch mount build continues and the High Bay grows. (Lengthy) Video and Photos from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Nicholas Gautschi (@NGautschi)

****** Aug. 26: Starship Views – StarshipBocaChica/Maria Pointer – YouTube

Join me for a visit to the Starship Production Complex showing tanks and newly groomed areas. They developed roadside access and drainage, stowed much of the yard stockpiles and made the area much safer for the worrisome flying debris during hurricane season. These images were taken before the static fire on Sunday, but you will find something to study. Fin Park is included, showing continued landscaping progress. I call the gathering area Fin park for 2 reasons, the upcycled MK1 Fins, and to honor an executive that works close with Elon that has Fin in his name. So I’ve been lobbying hard for Fin Park as the official name. I think it is smackdown time with other’s promoting names as we wait to see Elon’s reveal. Can’t wait to see your comments. Many names are popping up making the parks naming entertaining. (Fin Park is perfect name right?)

***** Aug. 27: SpaceX Boca Chica – SN6 Mass Simulator Installed – Other Starships Prepare – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

Starship SN6 has had its Mass Simulator installed at the launch site while SN8 waits to become a completed stack under the watchful eye of SN5. Video and Photos from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Nicholas Gautschi (@NGautschi).

***** Aug 28: SpaceX Boca Chica – SN8 Stacked, Orbital Pad Progress, and High Bay Construction Continues – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

Starship SN8 was stacked in the Mid Bay and progress on the construction of the Orbital Launch Pad continues with another rebar cage getting its steel cladding. A lift of a section of the High Bay was briefly aborted due to wind before being successfully completed, and activity at the launch site, including SN6 hop preparations, continued. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Nicholas Gautschi (@NGautschi).

**** Other Starship and space transport reports:

*****Aug 22: SpaceX Starship SN6 to fly in less than a week!?, Starlink Speed Results, Saocom 1B, Ariane 5/MEV-2 – Marcus House

So much news today with a possibility of SpaceX Starship SN6 to fly in less than a week. We get some Starlink Speed Results along with an update on the record-breaking booster landing, Saocom 1B is coming up, Ariane 5/MEV-2 mission successful and Blue Origin Human Landing System update. Starship Serial number 6 having had its pressure test and raptor installation will have a static fire test coming potentially over the next few days. And the breaking news is that we could be seeing Starship SN6 fly within a week (see road closures notices). Another beautiful launch Starlink launch during the week with some newly broken records for SpaceX on that mission. Arianespace recently completed another successful launch of the Ariane 5 Heavy Lift vehicle. Really cool detail about that MEV-2 payload that we’ll talk about as well. Updates by Blue Origin on the Human Landing System being constructed by the National Team. And on top of all that, we have another Falcon 9 launch potentially next week with the Saocom 1B mission.

***** Aug. 25: How To Construct A SpaceX Starship Launch Mount? – What about it!?

Today I’ll explain to you, what points towards SpaceX building a Starship Launchpad in Boca Chica and why!

***** Aug. 21: How Will SpaceX’s Starship SN8 Fly & Land? – What about it!?

Today I’ll explain to you, how long we’ll have to wait for the next Starship hop and what the rest of the world is doing to keep up with SpaceX.


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2020 ISS Research & Development Conference opens on Thursday, August 27th

The 2020 International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) will be held on line starting this Thursday, Aug 27th (Agenda):

Day 1 of ISSRDC Online Series to Feature
NASA Leadership and Promote Commercialization of Low Earth Orbit

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), August 25, 2020 – The 9th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) kicks off as a virtual event this Thursday, August 27, bringing together researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, and the general public to showcase the benefits of conducting research and technology development onboard our nation’s industrial incubator in low Earth orbit (LEO). Each year, ISSRDC is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NASA, and the American Astronautical Society.

This year, the conference will take place as an online series featuring three days of virtual plenary sessions: Day 1 on August 27, Day 2 on September 17, and Day 3 on October 22. The virtual sessions are free to attend; however, registration is required for each day.

On Day 1 of the ISSRDC Online Series, NASA leadership will provide a variety of programmatic updates that have direct impacts on the space station, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will give a welcome address. Additionally, multiple sessions will focus on the rising LEO economy, with commercial launch partners and private-sector researchers discussing how they are leveraging the ISS to validate facilities and business models. Highlighted below are the Day 1 sessions, many of which allow for questions and answers within the webcast platform.

10:00-10:15 a.m. EDT
Welcome Message from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

10:15-10:25 a.m. EDT
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Update
Kathy Lueders, Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA

10:30-11:00 a.m. EDT
NASA Biological and Physical Sciences Program Update (with Q&A)
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA

11:00-11:30 a.m. EDT
LEO Commercialization
Speakers include:

  • Phil McAlister, Director of Commercial Spaceflight Program, NASA
  • Angela Hart, LEO Commercialization Manager, NASA
  • Robyn Gatens, Deputy Director, ISS Division and System Capability Leader, NASA

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. EDT
State of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory (with Q&A)
(Moderated by Jeff Foust, Senior Writer, Space News)
Speakers include:

  • Alex MacDonald, Chief Economist and ISS National Lab Program Executive, NASA
  • Ken Shields, Chief Operating Officer, CASIS
  • Marybeth Edeen, Manager of ISS Research Integration Office, NASA

12:30-12:45 p.m. EDT
ISS Program Office Updates
Joel Montalbano, Manager, ISS Program, NASA

12:45-2:00 p.m. EDT
Building the LEO Economy (with Q&A)
(Moderated by Mike Gold, Acting Associate Administrator for the Office of International and Interagency Relations, NASA)
Speakers include:

  • Carissa Christenson, Chief Executive Officer, Bryce Analytics and Engineering
  • Michael Suffredini, Co-founder and President/Chief Executive Officer, Axiom Space
  • Richard Dalbello, Vice President Business Development, Virgin Galactic
  • Andrew Rush, Chief Executive Officer and NASA Advisory Council member for Regulatory and Policy, Made In Space
  • Nicole Wagner, President and Chief Executive Officer, LambdaVision

The ISSRDC Online Series is free to the public, but registration is required to join the webcast. To view the full agenda and register for Day 1, please visit the conference website.

About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the ISS as the nation’s newest national laboratory to optimize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by non-NASA U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The ISS National Lab manages access to the permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space.

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Aug.25.2020

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** University of Cádiz (UCA) student team developing the UCAnFly cubesat to test space-based gravitational wave detection technologies.

UCAnFly is an educational nanosatellite to test emerging technologies for space-based gravitational wave detectors, such as LISA. The main motivation is to complement academic education at the University of Cádiz (UCA) and transfer knowledge to students in the field of advanced instrumentation and data analysis for Space Sciences. 

The emerging line of research that the UCAnFly project has recently started to conduct at UCA requires engaging and training young researchers with the purpose of creating a group specialized in high precision measurement systems for space missions. This project will open a unique opportunity of novel and valuable experience for the students involved.

UCAnFly is led by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Cádiz, with the support of the Education Office of the European Space Agency, under the educational Fly Your Satellite! programme.

Rendering of the design of the UCAnFly cubesat. Credits: UCA

A video overview:

…The UCAnFly project involves the introduction of a new line of research at the University of Cádiz, which requires engaging and training young researchers with the aim of creating a group specialized in high precision measurement systems for space missions. For this reason, in addition to the mission objectives, one of the main motivations of the project is to complement academic education and transfer knowledge in the field of advanced instrumentation and data analysis for space applications to undergraduate and doctoral students…

** Virginia high school team building TJ REVERB cubesat to compare smallsat radio communications systems. The project won a ride to space via NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.

The TJ REVERB project is creating a best practice document for building a Nanosatellite while building a 2U CubeSat that compares multiple radio systems in Lower Earth Orbit. Additionally, TJ REVERB serves as an educational vehicle for teaching students the principles of systems engineering. Beyond the rich learning experience designing and constructing a satellite provides the students at Thomas Jefferson HSST, the team is committed to a robust local, national, and international outreach program.

There is a GoFundMe to raise funds to expand the smallsat program and their outreach activities to other high schools: Fundraiser for US STEM FOUNDATION by TJ REVERB : TJREVERB Cubesat for TJHSST

Latest updates at Cool Cube (@CoolCube10) / Twitter. Find videos posted by the students at Cool Cube – YouTube, e.g.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-236 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Ballot Return Date is September 15
  • Two-Minute Engineering Video Update Available
  • New Distance Records
  • ORI’s Digital Microwave Broadband Communication System Determined to be Free of ITAR
  • SmallSat 2020 Virtual Conference Proceedings Available Online
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Students Use Ham Radio to Call an Astronaut in Space – NASA Johnson

On May 15, 2020, Canadian students used ham radio to talk with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, currently aboard the International Space Station. Thanks to ham radio operators and the International Space Station program, the students were able to participate from their homes. Learn more about ham radio aboard the space station: Learn more about the research being conducted on station:

** What is a CubeSat?Cool Cube

CubeSats are driving space exploration! In this video, by students for students, we go over what they are and some major components that are typically on board! Please stick along for the rest of this series, where we’ll go over the ins and outs of satellite development!

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