Space transport roundup – Aug.7.2020

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

** A big week for SpaceX.  On Sunday the Crew Dragon returned safely to earth.  On Tuesday the SN5 Starship Prototype flew up and down at Boca Chica Beach, Texas. And early Friday morning, a Falcon 9 launched 57 Starlink and 2 Blacksky earth observation satellites to low earth orbit. The F9 booster landed successfully as well.

**** SN5 Starship Prototype took a short hop up to 150 meters and back down for a successful landing. Following several aborted attempts over the previous few days, the SN5 fired its Raptor engine and lifted off amid a huge cloud of smoke and debris. It rose up above the dusty turmoil and hung in the air briefly before slowly descending and disappearing into the umber cloud. Observers waited anxiously for the air to clear to see if the vehicle, which is basically just the propellant tanks section of a Starship,  was still standing. Sure enough, it had landed on six stubby legs that had folded out from inside the metal skirt.

Starship SN5 Hop

Here is a small sample of videos taken by an array of SpaceX and privately owned cameras trained on the SN5:

  • SpaceX:

Under the roar of Raptor, Starship SN5 took flight during a successful 150m test hop at Boca Chica. Mary (@BocaChicaGal) had several cameras filming this historic event, with editing by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer).

** NASASpaceflight – YouTube


**** The first Crew Dragon mission with astronauts on board ends with a splashdown in the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. SpaceX’s Commercial Crew Demonstration Mission 2 (DM-2) went nearly flawlessly from beginning to end.

  • DM-2 highlights from launch to landing:

  • The DM-2 astronauts give their accounts of the mission:

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley discuss their SpaceX Demo-2 mission, 62-day stay on the International Space Station and successful return inside their Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour on Tuesday, Aug. 4. The duo splashed down at 2:48 p.m. EDT Aug. 2 in the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola, Florida, following launch from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Pad 39A at 3:22 p.m. May 30. They arrived at the station’s Harmony port, their spacecraft docking at 10:16 a.m. May 31. This was SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.


Find more on SpaceX activities below…

** Russian Proton rocket launches two tele-comm satellites for the Ekspress satellite network.

The Express-80 and Express-103 communications satellites have been successfully launched by the launcher Proton from the Cosmodrome of Baikonour in Kazaksthan.

The satellites are the result of the partnership between the Russian company ISS Reshetnev, providing the H1000 platforms and Thales Alenia Space, a Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) joint venture, providing the payloads.

** China Long March-2D rocket launches Gaofen-9 remote sensing satellite.

** Astra scrubs launch attempt from Kodiak Island, Alaska. There was no webcast of Thursday’s attempted launch but there were updates via Astra (@Astra) / Twitter.  Just before ignition was to happen, the water deluge system “lost pressure”. The water floods the pad area below the rocket to reduce the acoustic energy of the exhaust.

“We are going to stand down to fix the issue.”  They said, “Rocket is in excellent shape, we will try again tomorrow.”

Astra’s described their launch plans here: Rocket 3.1 And Astra’s Path To Orbit | Astra.

Rocket 3.1 will launch from Astra’s Kodiak Launch Site (pad LP-3B at Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) on Kodiak Island). We are proud to partner with the team at PSCA and are grateful for their support.

Our launch window is from August 2-7, 7:00 – 9:00pm Pacific Time (PT) each day. We are aiming for August 2, subject to weather constraints and final launch preparations being completed.

This is a demonstration mission, and therefore Rocket 3.1 will not have a payload. We did not feel it was appropriate to risk a customer satellite for our first orbital launch attempt. That said, if Rocket 3.1 does make it to orbit, the vehicle will send an electronic signal that simulates the deployment of a satellite.

So Friday will be their last chance in this launch window. They suffered scrubs earlier this week as well:

Astra’s mantra is rapid iteration. Build, test, learn and repeat. We’re changing the way space is done by accepting slightly more risk in order to learn more quickly. We can afford to experiment because our rockets are far less expensive than the industry average. We aren’t afraid of failure; in fact, as long as we learn from it, failure is valuable and ultimately built into the plan.

It’s rare that a new launch vehicle accomplishes all of its objectives with its first flight, and the past few months in the launch industry have once again proven just how hard getting to space can be, even for mature vehicles. That said, we believe that we can achieve orbit within 3 flights, and our goal for Rocket 3.1 is to learn enough to set us on that path.

** Rocket Lab to resume Electron launches after finding cause of the failure in July mission: Rocket Lab to Resume Electron Launches in August | Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab today announced that it has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume launches this month after identifying an anomalous electrical connection as the cause of an in-flight failure on July 4, 2020. With corrective measures underway, the next Electron launch has been scheduled for August from Launch Complex 1.

Over the past month, Rocket Lab has collaborated on an investigation with the support of the FAA, the primary federal licensing body for commercial space launch activity. Rocket Lab’s Accident Investigation Board (AIB) worked through an extensive fault tree analysis to examine all potential causes for the anomaly that took place late into Rocket Lab’s 13th launch.

On July 4, 2020, the Electron launch vehicle successfully lifted-off from Launch Complex 1 and proceeded through a nominal first stage engine burn, Stage 1-2 separation, Stage 2 ignition, and fairing jettison as planned. Several minutes into the second stage burn, the engine performed a safe shutdown resulting in a failure to reach orbit. Due to the controlled way the engine shut down, Rocket Lab continued to receive telemetry from the vehicle, providing engineers with extensive data to conduct a robust investigation into the issue.

After reviewing more than 25,000 channels of data and carrying out extensive testing, Rocket Lab’s AIB was able to confidently narrow the issue down to a single anomalous electrical connection. This connection was intermittently secure through flight, creating increasing resistance that caused heating and thermal expansion in the electrical component. This caused the surrounding potting compounds to liquefy, leading to the disconnection of the electrical system and subsequent engine shutdown. The issue evaded pre-flight detection as the electrical connection remained secure during standard environmental acceptance testing including vibration, thermal vacuum, and thermal cycle tests.

Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s founder and CEO, said the issue had never been observed before across the company’s previous 12 Electron launches. “The issue occurred under incredibly specific and unique circumstances, causing the connection to fail in a way that we wouldn’t detect with standard testing. Our team has now reliably replicated the issue in test and identified that it can be mitigated through additional testing and procedures.”

** More from Virgin Orbit about the LauncherOne failure on the first attempt to go to orbit: Wrapping Up Our First Launch Demo, and Looking Ahead to Launch Demo-2 | Virgin Orbit

Soon, we were able to identify the cause of the failure that ended our first Launch Demo: a breach in the high-pressure line carrying cryogenic Liquid Oxygen (LOX) to our first stage combustion chamber due to a component failure. Without a supply of oxidizer, that engine soon stopped providing thrust, ending our powered flight and ultimately the test itself.

In the business of launch vehicles, finding the direct cause of any failure of any flight is incredibly important, but certainly not sufficient. In order to truly get to the root of the issue, it is important to ask why after why after why. If the answer to the first why is “because the high-pressure LOX line failed,” then the second why must be “why did it fail?” That in turn must be followed by more whys — including “why didn’t we anticipate this failure,” “why wasn’t this failure observed in our earlier testing,” and more. To all of these, you must add in a healthy dose of “what else could have happened,” “what would this failure have looked like if it occurred at a different point in the mission,” and hundreds more questions. Creating a robust fault tree or fishbone diagram is important, especially for those visual learners.

** Autodesk makes video about Firefly and their use of their software: Firefly Aerospace: Inside the New Space Race – Autodesk

** Episode T+167: Phillip Hargrove, NASA Launch Services Program – Main Engine Cut Off

Phillip Hargrove, a Launch Vehicle Trajectory Analyst at NASA joins me to talk about NASA’s Launch Services Program. We discuss how LSP interacts with mission teams like Mars 2020 Perseverance, launch providers like United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, and what kind of work they tackle in their unique role tying it all together.

** Watch ULA Atlas V launch of Perseverance rover from onboard cameras: Video: Rocketcams show Mars-bound rover’s ride into space – Spaceflight Now

** Check out Blue Origin‘s ship for landing New Glenn boosters: Blue Origin LPV – Kyle Montgomery Photo

** Sierra Nevada Corp puts several posts on Twitter about their propulsion research:

** PLD Space of Spain gave an update at the SmallSat Conference:

** Skyrora to launch suborbital rocket from Iceland:

** Another tour of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo interior:

** The latest report from VG: Virgin Galactic earnings for Q2 2020 – CNBC.

Virgin Galactic provided a significant update to its development timeline, saying its next test spaceflight will occur “this fall,” with just two test pilots on board. Then the company will fly a second time, with four “mission specialists” inside the spacecraft’s cabin. If both test flights succeed, Virgin Galactic expects to fly Branson in early 2021, which would mark the beginning of its commercial service.

** 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:

**** The  Starlink launch came after several scrubs since June due to weather and technical issues.

The Falcon 9’s first stage booster was on its fifth flight. It previously launched two Starlink missions, the crew-less Crew Demo-1 mission, and the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. The fairing halves were not caught in the nets on the recovery boats. No word yet on whether they were retrieved from the water.

**** Starship

Following the SN5 hop described above,  Elon Musk made some comments on Twitter regarding what comes next:

  • V1.1 legs will be ~60% longer. V2.0 legs will be much wider & taller — like Falcon, but capable of landing on unimproved surfaces & auto-leveling.
  • Next steps?
    • We’ll do several short hops to smooth out launch process, then go high altitude with body flaps
  • When will there be a hop followed by a re-flight?
    • Soon

As seen in the videos below, there has been continuous activity in the assembly area at Boca Chica:

  • SN6 prototype has been sitting in the Mid-Bay hangar for a few weeks. A common assumption is that it is a backup for SN5 and probably won’t fly.
  • SN7 was a subscale engineering model used to pressure test structural designs and welding techniques.
  • SN8 is under construction and appears to be made of the more advanced steel alloys that will be used in the operational Starships.
  • Several nosecones have been built. Some appear to be just for testing the assembly methods but others look like they are flight capable.

**** The SN5 viewed from space:

****** Aug. 1: SpaceX Boca Chica – New Thrust Puck Delivered – Crews Work Towards 150m Hop – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

Preparations for SN5’s 150m hop attempt are in full swing, meanwhile work at the launch and build sites has resumed following SN5’s successful static fire test and a series of severe storms. Mary spots a forward dome section that could be part of the next test tank (SN7.1) and also catches delivery of a new Thrust Puck. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer).

****** Aug 3: SpaceX Boca Chica – As SN5 prepares to hop – new fins arrive – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

Starship SN5 spent Monday preparing to conduct her 150 meter hop test (scrubbed). At the same time, hardware for future Starships included the arrival of new fins. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer).

****** Aug.5: SpaceX Boca Chica – Starship SN8 enters Stacking Operations – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

****** Aug.6: SpaceX Boca Chica – High Bay moves to Level 3 – Test Tank SN7.1 preps – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

As the Super Heavy High Bay moved into Level 3 assembly at SpaceX Boca Chica, the Starship SN7.1 Test Tank (made from 304L Steel) is waiting for aft dome/skirt mate. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer).

**** Other Starship and space transport reports:

**** Aug.5: SpaceX Starship 150m launch success – SN5 150 meter hop and landing – Marcus House

**** Aug.5: SpaceX’s Shiny Stainless Steel Starship Prototype Takes Flight For The First Time – Scott Manley

After many iterations, and some spectacular accidents we finally got to see a StarShip tank and thrust section take flight for a 150m hop, demonstrating flight control systems using only a single raptor engine. This is a very visible step on the long road to developing Starship and Superheavy into a fully operational, fully reusable launch vehicle.


=== The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey ===

SpaceX Delivers the Goods” by C. Sergent Lindsey printed on phone cover. Available at Fine Art America.

Space settlement roundup – Aug.5.2020

Here is a sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to human expansion into the solar system (see also previous space settlement postings). This roundup is particularly focused on items related to commercial involvement in lunar development.

** 2020 Lunar Development Conference presentation videos are now available online.

The 2020 Lunar Development Conference was organized as an all-virtual event on July 19th and 20th, 2020 and featured prominent government, business, academic and advocacy speakers covering topics across the entire range of lunar science, development and settlement.

The  43 videos at YouTube include talks by Robert Zubrin, Greg Autry, Rick Tumlinson, and many others. Here is a keynote from Sean Mahoney, CEO of Masten Space Systems, which has a NASA contract to put a lander on the Moon by the end of 2022:

** Japan’s ispace gives an update on the HAKUTO-R lunar lander development:  The design of the lander for the first iSpace mission to the Moon has been finalized. However, the launch is now set for 2022 rather than 2021  Commercial Lunar Exploration Program “HAKUTO-R” Reveals Final Design and Plan for ‘Mission 1’ Lunar Lander – ispace

Assembly of the lander will begin in Japan in 2021 at a JAL Engineering Co., Ltd. facility in Narita, Japan. Final assembly, integration, and testing (AIT) activities for the lander will be carried out by ArianeGroup GmbH at its facilities in Lampoldhausen, Germany. After assembly and final testing in Germany, the lander will be delivered to Cape Canaveral in the United States for its launch.

The target launch date of 2021, announced in September 2018 following the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) phase, has been adjusted to 2022[1] in response to technical issues which arose in recent months. The new target launch date was chosen in order to ensure higher reliability for HAKUTO-R customers and overall mission success. The lander is still planned to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

They also released a detailed infographic:

Infographic for the iSpace HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander. Click for enlarged view. Credits: ispace

** An update on Astrobotic‘s lunar lander plans: Episode T+166: Laura Klicker and Daniel Gillies, Astrobotic – Main Engine Cut Off

Two members of the Astrobotic team join me for a conversation: Laura Klicker, Payload Systems Management Lead, and Daniel Gillies, Mission Director for the Griffin/VIPER mission. We talk about Astrobotic’s first Peregrine mission coming up next year, the very exciting VIPER mission to the south pole of the Moon in 2023, payload management across multiple flights, the technical aspects of their various vehicles, and a whole lot more.

Check out also  the  FISO Seminar given by Astrobotic VP Dan Hendrickson titled, Astrobotic: A Manifest of Delivery Missions to Make the Moon Accessible to the World. Here are the slides (pdf) to accompany his presentation.

** OHB of Germany and and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) partner on lunar lander mission: OHB and IAI plan commercial lunar lander mission in late 2022 –

German space company OHB is moving ahead with plans to launch a commercial lunar lander mission in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in late 2022 as it looks for government and commercial customers.

OHB and IAI announced an agreement in January 2019 to cooperate on an initiative to deliver payloads to the lunar surface. Under that Lunar Surface Access Service (LSAS) program, OHB would serve as the prime contractor and handle payloads, while IAI provided a lander based on the design of SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander, which at time was approaching launch.

Beresheet failed to make a soft landing on the moon in April 2019 when the lander malfunctioned during its final descent to the lunar surface. However, the companies are pressing ahead with the program after making changes to the lander’s design.

See also:

IAI is also working with Firefly on lunar lander missions: Firefly Will Use Beresheet Lander Tech To Land On The Moon – Forbes

** Thermal Mining of Lunar Ices was presented in a FISO Seminar by George Sowers, former ULA chief scientist and now a professor at the Colorado School of Mines. These slides (pdf) accompany his talk:

** NASA’s plans for finding, extracting, and using lunar water are described by Leonard David: NASA’s Hunt for Lunar Water Intensifies – Scientific American

NASA’s Artemis program has been called ambitious for its goal of returning humans to Earth’s moon as early as 2024. But its most audacious aspiration is something else entirely: a plan to usher in an era of sustainable lunar operations by mining the moon’s reserves of water ice. Once tapped, this extraterrestrial reservoir could become the elixir of life to support human outposts, supplying not only drinking water but also oxygen and even rocket fuel.

** Rocket fuel is one application of lunar water: Here’s how we could mine the moon for rocket fuel | MIT Technology Review

The moon is a treasure trove of valuable resources. Gold, platinum, and many rare earth metals await extraction to be used in next-generation electronics. Non-radioactive helium-3 could one day power nuclear fusion reactors. But there’s one resource in particular that has excited scientists, rocket engineers, space agency officials, industry entrepreneurs—virtually anyone with a vested interest in making spaceflight to distant worlds more affordable. It’s water. 

Why? If you split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and then liquefy those constituents, you have rocket fuel. If you can stop at the moon’s orbit or a lunar base to refuel, you no longer need to bring all your propellant with you as you take off, making your spacecraft significantly lighter and cheaper to launch. That’s important because Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational pull necessitate use of tons of fuel per second when rockets launch. Creating a sustainable source of fuel in space could reduce the costs and hazards associated with heavy liftoffs. One NASA estimate suggests there might be 600 million metric tons of lunar ice to harvest, and other higher-end estimates say one billion metric tons is a possibility. 

In other words, if you could mine it effectively, the moon would become a cost-cutting interplanetary gas station for trips to Mars and elsewhere.

** Development of a viable cis-lunar economy will require a communications infrastructure.  This could be a start: Commstar Space Communications™ Announces Its Intention to Deploy Next-Generation Hybrid Data Relay Satellite between the Earth and the Moon by 2023 – Commstar

Reston, VA, June 16, 2020: CommStar Space Communications™ LLC, (“CommStar Space”), announced its intention today to deploy an advanced, proprietary data relay satellite (“CommStar-1”) to be located between the Earth and the Moon by 2023. CommStar Space is also excited that its decision to deploy CommStar-1 is a major step by the private sector in accelerating the transition of the government out of building and operating taxpayer-funded communications infrastructure in favor of a new role as customer.

Serving as an advanced network access point located in the Cislunar service area, CommStar-1 will be capable of receiving and relaying both optical and radio frequency communications between the Moon and the Earth. CommStar-1 will provide active, “always on,” advanced data services over the more than 225,000-mile distance but will be situated closer to the Moon, i.e. 41632 miles. CommStar-1 relay infrastructure will be designed as a hybrid system for both radio frequency and optical (laser) communications. CommStar-1 will be a larger communications platform than anything currently contemplated to be located on the lunar surface or in orbit around the Moon, with significant space, weight, and power (“SWaP”) dedicated for enhanced relay data transmission. Customers of CommStar-1 can design their lunar payloads for higher speed connectivity and robust bandwidth capacity on their platforms whilst avoiding the critical trade-offs of costly “SWaP” dedicated solely for ultra-long-haul communications. These returned benefits will allow critical “Price per LB to Space” costs to be reallocated away from solely communications to more valuable tasks.

** Chinese team makes super strong basalt fiber from simulated lunar regolith materials: Chinese scientists say they’ve made a fibre that could be strong enough to build a moon base | South China Morning Post

A research team in western China says it has developed a material from artificial lunar dust that might be strong enough to build a base on the moon, and could potentially be made using volcanic rock on site.

Scientists at the Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry in Urumqi turned the artificial dust into a high-performance construction material called basalt fibre. Put through testing, they said it achieved a tensile strength of up to 1.4 gigapascals – or 1,400 megapascals.

To put that into perspective, a European Space Agency team in February used lunar dust and urea, a compound in urine, with a 3D-printed rod to make a construction material that could withstand 32 megapascals of pressure – about half the strength of some commercial concrete. And back in 1998, Nasa’s “waterless concrete” made from simulated moon dust broke apart when it was pulled at a force of 3.7 megapascals.

**  Check out the latest issues of The Space Resource newsletter:

From the July issue, here is a description of the MOXIE system on the Perseverance rover, which launched last week. MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) will demonstrate production of oxygen from the C02 in the Martian atmosphere:

MOXIE to pave the way for future Martian oxygen production plants. As one of seven instruments on the NASA Perseverance rover, MOXIE will convert the abundant carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere into valuable oxygen. 300 watts of electricity will be used to split the carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon monoxide, where the purity of oxygen output will be analyzed before being released back into the Martian atmosphere. While not utilized for this particular demonstration, oxygen production on Mars is required for human habitation, propellant production, and industrial processing.

MOXIE is one of the first dedicated in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) experiments to be tested on Mars, and the technology developed is already being utilized for larger follow-on systems. MOXIE is expected to generate six to ten grams of oxygen per hour, whereas 30 to 40 grams are the budget NASA sets for each astronaut on the International Space Station. Fueling a rocket will require kilograms of oxygen per hour, so larger scale systems with appropriate power systems will be required for sustained presence on Mars.

Here is also The Space Resource’s most recent annual review: The Space Resource Report: 2020.

** Joan-Pau Sanchez – Asteroid Mapping and Intercepting CometsCold Star Technologies – YouTube

Joan-Pau Sanchez, PhD, is a lecturer in space engineering at Cranfield University. He was one of the first to publish a Near Earth Orbit asteroid map. With host Jason Kanigan of the Cold Star Project, Dr. Sanchez discusses:

– what some of the “new rich families of exploitable orbits which may enable radically new mission applications and services” are
– his thoughts about the current alarm of “cluttered Earth orbit”, which we are moving towards with the planned launches of tens of thousands of smallsats
– what the “Traveling Salesperson Problem” is in ADR/servicing satellites
– how algorithms to solve such problems can be developed without the help of supercomputers
– his experience with the Comet Interceptor program and working with ESA
– the uses of his paper, “Optimal Sunshade Configurations for Space-Based Geoengineering near the Sun-Earth L1 Point”
– the project he lead, also covered by his student Florian Gautier in Episode 50, researching landing cubesats on an asteroid using the ZARM drop tower.

Comet Interceptor program website:
Comet Interceptor program Wikipedia page:…

** United Space Structures aims to build structures on the Moon and Mars within underground lava tubes:

Our mission is to build a large self-sustaining facility that will house hundreds of people and to start construction by 2026. United Space Structures (USS) has developed a unique construction process for building very large permanent structures within lunar lava tubes. The advantage of building within lava tubes is that the lava tube provides protection from radiation and meteor strikes and so the habitat structure does not require to be hardened from these elements. The structures only need to create an atmospheric structurally stable enclosure that is thermally insulated.

** Gary Calnan – The Space Foundry Lab: A Cislunar Industrial Base – Cold Star Project S02E40

Gary Calnan, co-founder & CEO @ CisLunar Industries out of Denver CO, is on the Cold Star Project. They’re on a mission to create industrial capabilities in cislunar space that will enable sustainable space exploration and a permanent human presence beyond Earth. To make this a reality, their goal is to create the Space Foundry: the first in-space capability for recycling metal already in orbit and reprocessing it into refined raw materials for in-space manufacturing and construction. With host Jason Kanigan, Gary explores:

– at what point (or number) a “permanent human presence” beyond Earth exists
– what “industrial capabilities” he believes need to be developed first
– the purpose, elements and implementation plan of the Space Foundry
– his recent proposal to the ISS NL (“Electromagnetic Control and Manipulation of Liquid Metal in Micro-g”)
– what legal issues Gary foresees for capturing and recycling metal already in orbit
– what he believes it will take to reach a point of in-space manufacturing and construction
– whether the development of manufacturing and refueling capabilities on the moon impacts in-space efforts more or less than developing in-orbit capabilities.

Cislunar Industries on LinkedIn:…

** Some recent episodes of The Space Show that dealt with space settlement:

**** Aug.4.2020John Strickland talked about terraforming Mars possible technology, returning to the Moon, and other topics.

**** July 24, 2020Steven Wolfe discussed space settlement and the formation of the  new organization, The Beyond Earth Institute, to pursue space settlement goals.

**** June 12, 2020Robert Jacobson talked about his new book, Space Is Open For Business, and the topics focused on in the book: space commerce, NewSpace, policy, returning to the Moon and more.

**** May.2.2020Dr. Pekka Janhunem discussed his papers on the design of large in-space habitats including, Shielded Dumbbell L5 Settlement – NSS Space Settlement Journal.

** The Habitat Marte in Brazil simulates a Martian base: Learning to Live Sustainably on the Red Planet: Habitat Mars – Universe Today

To do this, humanity needs to develop the necessary strategies for sustainable living in hostile environments and enclosed spaces. To prepare humans for this kind of experience, groups like Habitat Marte (Mars Habitat) and others are dedicated to conducting simulated missions in analog environments. The lessons learned will not only prepare people to live and work in space but foster ideas for sustainable living here on Earth.

Habitat Marte was founded in 2017 by Julio Francisco Dantas de Rezende, the professor of sustainability in the Department of Product Engineering at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) and the Director of Innovation with the State Foundation to Research Support (FAPERN). He is also the Coordinator of Habitat Marte and Mars Society Brazil.

Between December of 2017 and 2020, Habitat Marte has conducted 42 missions with more than 150 participants, totaling almost 1300 hours (98 days) of mission time. As Prof. Rezende indicated, these activities have generated large volumes of data that has resulted in a variety of scientific studies and publications.

** A look at using the local resources to support human missions on Mars:

Extending humanity to other worlds in the Solar System is at the very limits of our modern technology. And unless there are dramatic discoveries in new propulsion systems or we learn how to build everything out of carbon nanotubes, the future of space exploration is going to require living off the land. The technique is known as In-Situ Resource Utilization or ISRU, and it means supplying as much of your mission from local resources as possible. And many of our future exploration destinations, like Mars, have a lot to work with. Let’s look at the raw materials on Mars that missions can use to live off the land and the techniques and technologies that will need to be developed to make this possible.

** How many people are needed to sustain a Martian colony?

…The use of in situ resources and different social organizations have been proposed [3–6,12–19] but there is still a poor understanding of the problem’s variables. I show here that a mathematical model can be used to determine the minimum number of settlers and the way of life for survival on another planet, using Mars as the example [6,15]. It is based on the comparison between the time requirements to implement all kinds of human activities for long term survival and the available time of the settlers. An important parameter of the model is called the sharing factor, which allows some reduction of time requirements per individual if, for example, the activity concerns the construction of an object that can be shared by several individuals…

** Check out the recent post  here about the IGLUNA 2020 student space habitat design competition. The GrowBotHub project, for example, looked at building an entirely autonomous robotic system for space farming: Shoot(s) for the Moon! – EPFL

GrowBotHub, which recently became an EPFL-accredited association, is the school’s sole contribution to IGLUNA 2020. There are some thirty student members, most of them in Master’s programs. The team is pooling their knowledge from a variety of disciplines – such as robotics, chemistry, life sciences, data management, communication systems, microengineering, materials science and electrical engineering – to create an aeroponics system to grow and harvest vegetables without human intervention.

Aeroponics does not require soil. Instead, the plants’ roots are regularly sprayed with nutrient solutions. GrowBotHub’s robotic system intelligently calculates the variables based on each plant’s needs, including the composition and quantities of nutrients, pH, humidity, light and ambient temperature.


=== The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey ===

Grainger Tomato” by C. Sergent Lindsey printed on a throw pillow. Available at Fine Art America.

PongSat Flight Program to fly a million student projects to edge of space

An announcement from JP Aerospace:

PongSat Flight Program Aims to Fly
1 Million Student Experiments to the Edge of Space

Rancho Cordova, CA August 4, 2020 – An organization in California is planning to fly a million ping pong balls to the edge of space. Over 18,000 have already flown.

A view of the PongSat flight on October 6th, 2019. Credits: PongSat Flight Program

All the world’s space programs combined have not flown as many student experiments as a little-known California aerospace company, JP Aerospace. Now, after 18 years, the program called the PongSat Flight Program has become its own nonprofit, setting its sights on flying a million student projects to the edge of space, all inside ping pong balls.

What is a PongSat?

A PongSat is an experiment that fits inside of a ping pong ball. These ping pong ball “satellites” are carried to the edge of space by high altitude balloon. There the PongSats experience the space environment: cosmic rays, vacuum, extreme cold and even zero gravity on the descent.

The PongSats stay with the balloon platform. After landing, they are returned to the students. Students get excited about science and engineering by actually doing it.

“We have 7th graders with more mission experience than adult researchers in the field,”

says John Powell, President of the PongSat Flight Program.

PongSat is a completely free program, open to anyone.

A PongSat with electronics. Credits: PongSat Flight Program

PongSats give students the chance to thrive during COVID. With science classrooms closed, PongSat is more important than ever. We have been able to conduct safe flights with a minimum team all masked up and social distancing. PongSats made at home can be the inspiration to keep science education alive and to even thrive.

PongSats can be as simple or as complex as the student wants. Whether carrying a marshmallow to see if it puffs up in the vacuum of near space or an entire sophisticated satellite in miniature, PongSats create motivation, drive and passion in their creators. There are endless possibilities for experiments that can fit inside a ping pong ball. PongSat have carried seeds to see if exposure to cosmic rays affect their growth (it does!). They have also carried cameras, sensors, GPS’s and even LEGO mini-figures.

Over 80,000 students have participated in PongSat, flying over 18,000 unique experiments.

For more background on PongSats, here’s a link to “The PongSat Story”.

JP Aerospace, a volunteer-based space program, created the PongSat program in 2002. It started out with 14 students. Excitement about the program exploded. Every month tens of thousands of requests to fly are received. With new PongSat nonprofit organization we aim to fly them all.

July 12, 2020 Away 130 mission was the first PongSat flight of the year. Credits: PongSat Flight Program

PongSat as its own nonprofit entity has a stronger foundation. It means we can fly more PongSats , do outreach to more students and continue to hurl humanity toward space, one ping pong ball at a time.

“I’m convinced that the first person to walk on Mars is out there and they will already have flown a PongSat”,

declares Powell.

PongSat Flight Program ( is a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

The millionth PongSat may go far. Credits: PongSat Flight Program

Videos: Night sky highlights for August 2020

** What’s Up: August 2020 Skywatching Tips from NASA

What are some skywatching highlights in August 2020? See the Moon posing with various planets throughout the month, plus catch the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at….

** Tonight’s Sky: AugustSpace Telescope Science Institute

In August, a flock of star-studded figures soars overhead. Look for the Vega and Lyra constellations, which point to Epsilon Lyrae and the Ring Nebula. You can also spot three bright summer stars: Vega, Deneb, and Altair, which form the Summer Triangle. Keep watching for space-based views of these and other stars and nebulas.

** What’s in the Night Sky August 2020 #WITNS Comet NEOWISE | Perseid Meteor Shower – Alyn Wallace

** What to see in the night sky, August 2020

What can you see in the night sky? Astronomers Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel reveal their stargazing tips for August 2020. In 2020 we’re celebrating 15 years of our Virtual Planetarium. Discover more here:

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The Space Show this week – Aug.3.2020

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

1. Monday, August 3, 2020; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT: No special programming.

2. Tuesday, August 4, 2020; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT):  We welcome back John Strickland for space settlement and new commercial space project ideas.

3. Wednesday, August 5, 2020: Hotel Mars TBA pre-recorded. See upcoming show menu on the home page for program details.

4. Thursday, August 6, 2020; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): No special programming.

5. Friday, August 7, 2020; 9:30-11 am PDT (11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): We welcome back Mark Bray to discuss SLS and more.

6. Sunday, August 9, 2020; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): Welcome to OPEN LINES. All calls on space, technology, science and STEM welcome. We want to hear from you.

Some recent shows:

** Sun. Aug.2.2020Dr. Ken Davidian talked about his space tourism industry study. See  Space Tourism Industry Emergence: Description and Data, Ken Davidian –  New Space Vol.8 No. 2, June.2020.

** Fri. July 31, 2020Scott Herman discussed the BlackSky Global earth satellite imaging company and “Geospatial intelligence and global monitoring, dusk-to-dawn capabilities, LEO Constellation, commercial value, market growth, national security and much more”.

** Hotel Mars – John Batchelor Show/The Space ShowJohn Batchelor and David Livingston spoke with Mike Wall of about the latest  delays, problems, and the future of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST):

** Tues. July.28.2020Jeffrey Smith discussed his July 13, 2020 Space Review article, CSI: Rocket Science.

** 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 – David Livingston

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