Spaceflight roundup – Jan.2.2019

A sampling of items about the state of space development in the past year and in the coming year(s):

** Bob Zimmerman reviews the global rocket launch pace in 2018 and discusses the outlook for the new year: The 2018 global launch race plus predictions for 2019 | Behind The Black.

The most significant achievement in 2018 is clearly China’s rise as a space power. That nation had predicted it would complete 40 launches in 2018. That prediction turned out to be largely accurate. China completed 38 successful rocket launches, almost doubling its previous yearly launch record. It also fixed the issues with their biggest rocket, the Long March 5, laying the groundwork for the launch of their own space station. In addition, they launched Chang’e-4 to the Moon, aimed at being the first spacecraft to land softly on the Moon’s far side. While this is not their first lunar lander/rover, it likely initiates a much more aggressive and fast-paced planetary program for the coming years.

** Indian has set a goal of putting three astronauts into orbit by 2022: India is Going to be Sending Three People to Space in Three Years – Universe Today

During a cabinet-level meeting that took place on Friday, Dec. 25th, the government of India announced that the Indian Space Research Organization‘s (ISRO) first crewed mission to space will consist of a three-astronaut team being sent to orbit. The government also announced that they had a approved a budget of $1.4 billion to fund the development of the requisite technology and infrastructure for the program.

The decisions to send astronauts to space was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15th, during India’s Independence Day celebrations. At that time, Modi directed the ISRO to conduct a crewed mission to orbit by 2022, which would coincide with the 75th anniversary of India gaining its independence.

More about the Indian human spaceflight program:

** Tim “The Everyday Astronaut” Dodd reviews the space highlights of 2018:

** A review of the past year at 2018 Cosmic Wrapup – Orbit 11.50 – TMRO

** Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society, “takes us on a tour of the spacecraft currently exploring from within our solar system. All planets and spacecraft locations are shown at their location for January 1st, 2019.”

** Virgin Orbit, one of many companies around the world developing small rockets to orbit small satellites,  highlights developments in 2018 that will lead to their first orbital flights in 2019:

** Writer Michael Belfiore‘s TEDx talk addresses the question, “Why Space Matters?”



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