All posts by TopSpacer

Videos: “Space to Ground” + Other ISS reports – Jan.9.2021

Here is the latest episode in NASA’s Space to Ground weekly report on activities related to the International Space Station:

** Down to Earth: The Astronaut’s Perspective – NASA

Ever wonder what it’s like to see our planet from space? NASA’s astronauts will take you on a journey to the International Space Station, exploring the life-changing experience of an orbital perspective. View Earth as you’ve never seen it before: through the eyes of an astronaut.

** Expedition 64 Cygnus 14 Release – January 6, 2021NASA Video

After a cargo delivery run lasting three months at the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s unpiloted Cygnus spacecraft was released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm Jan. 6 to begin a three-week free-flight in support of additional scientific objectives. Ground controllers sent commands to the robotic arm to enable Cygnus – named the SS Kaplana Chawla after the NASA astronaut who lost her life in the 2003 Columbia accident – to begin its journey away from the complex after it brought several tons of supplies and scientific experiments to the orbital outpost. Northrop Grumman flight controllers will monitor Cygnus’ flight for the next few weeks until it deorbits late this month to burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

** Chasing SSTV signals from the International Space Stationicholakov

International Space Station beaming SSTV radio signals last week of December 2020. Using Software Defined Radio (SDR) to capture these ISS transmissions

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Virgin Orbit to Launch Stem Education Payloads for UK’s Junior Astronaut program

An announcement from Virgin Orbit and UK’s Junior Astronaut program:

Virgin Orbit to Launch Stem Education Payloads for UK’s Junior Astronaut
Junior Astronaut’s Nanonaut Satellite Can be Tracked from Space Via Smartphone App,
Helping to Inspire a New Generation of Space Enthusiasts

Long Beach, California — January 8, 2021 — Virgin Orbit, the California-based responsive space launch company, announced today that it has signed a launch services agreement with Junior Astronaut, a UK-based company that provides Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs for young space enthusiasts. Flying as a rideshare onboard several upcoming missions — including missions from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, UK — Junior Astronaut’s Nanonaut payload will remain affixed to LauncherOne’s upper stage.

LauncherOne rocket released from carrier aircraft. Credits: Virgin Orbit

Each Nanonaut payload can be tracked and monitored via telemetry from Earth using Junior Astronaut’s smartphone app. The app also offers a number of STEM-based activities such as algebra tutorials and other educational teasers, supporting Junior Astronaut’s broader purpose of inspiring young students to become more engaged and excited about space.

Founded in 2020, Junior Astronaut exists to encourage young people toward careers in STEM and space science through participation. In addition to the Nanonaut program, Junior Astronaut will soon offer space camps and a flight experiments package to take young people’s interest to the next stage.

Junior Astronaut to begin a flight experiments program. Credits: Junior Astronaut

Virgin Orbit launches for Junior Astronaut will commence no earlier than mid-2021.

“Knowledge is the most powerful tool for shaping a better future for everyone. The Junior Astronaut program is designed to inspire young people to push the limits of the unknown, to discover and innovate. The way to do this is education. Space is such an inspirational way to get people interested. We want space to be accessible to everyone, and for the next generation to push boundaries and move all our societies forward. Space is how they will do this,”

said Miranda Ashcroft, Junior Astronaut co-founder.

“With every LauncherOne mission, we want to chip away at the barriers preventing equitable access to space, so this partnership with Junior Astronaut is particularly meaningful to our team,” said Stephen Eisele, Virgin Orbit’s vice president of business development. “These Nanonauts are all about getting students to recognize that they too can have a role in shaping the future of space, and we’re really excited to help bring them into the fold. These are the kinds of missions that will capture the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s space innovators.”

Virgin Orbit is in the midst of final preparations for Launch Demo 2, its second orbital test flight with the LauncherOne system, currently expected to occur in mid-January.

About Virgin Orbit: Virgin Orbit builds and operates the most flexible and responsive satellite launcher ever invented: LauncherOne, a dedicated launch service for commercial and government-built small satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and will be air-launched from our modified 747-400 carrier aircraft – allowing us to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Virgin Orbit’s systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbit’s talented and growing team, visit

About Junior Astronaut: Junior Astronaut is a worldwide charitable organization that wants to awaken young people’s curiosity and guide them towards choosing a STEM career. Junior Astronaut’s vision is to bring forth a new generation of STEM professionals that will have the knowledge, creativity, drive, and empathy to address global challenges through innovation. Our mission is to create thrilling participative programs that nurture real life skills and inspire a sense of wonder, curiosity, and the desire to explore. Our initiatives include the Nanonaut program, space camps, in-flight experiments, zero gravity experiences, and – in the future – a full sub-orbital experience. In the long term, we aim for youths who start our program to one day build STEM careers at NASA, ESA, or other world-renowned space companies like Virgin Orbit.

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The Space Show this week – Jan.4.2021

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

1. Monday, Jan. 4, 2021; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT: No program today.

2. Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021; 7 pm PDT (9 pm CDT, 10 pm EDT): We welcome back Trent Tresch with Kai Staats to discuss the SAM (Space Analog for the Moon and Mars) project. See the blog and upcoming show menu for more details.

3. Wednesday, Jan.6, 2021: Hotel Mars TBA pre-recorded. See upcoming show menu on the home page for program details.

4. Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): No program today.

5. Friday, Jan.8, 2021; 9:30-11 am PDT (11:30 am-1 pm CDT, 12:30-2 pm EDT): We welcome back John Blincow of The Gateway Foundation will talk about in-space construction and his company, Orbital Assembly, Inc.

6. Sunday, Jan.10, 2021; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): We welcome back Dr. Gilbert Levin to discuss possible life on Mars, his Viking experiments and more.

Some recent shows:

** The Space Show – Jan.3.2020Dr. Robert (Sam) Wilson of the The Aerospace Corporation talked about “his paper [Leveraging Commercial Space for National Security (pdf)] on commercial space applications for national security and DOD space”.

** The Space Show – Dec.29.2020 Thomas A. Olson returned for his annual end-of-the-year show to review commercial space for 2020 and [look] ahead to 2021.

** 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

Space policy roundup – Jan.4.2021

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


** Episode 28 – What’s Hot 4th Quarter 2020 Michael Listner/Space Law & Policy SolutionsSpace Thoughts – YouTube

** The Space Show – Jan.3.2020Dr. Robert (Sam) Wilson of the The Aerospace Corporation talked about “his paper [Leveraging Commercial Space for National Security (pdf)] on commercial space applications for national security and DOD space”.

** The Space Show – Dec.29.2020 Thomas A. Olson returned for his annual end-of-the-year show to review commercial space for 2020 and [look] ahead to 2021.

** China Aero & Space Weekly News Round-Up – Episode 14 (28th Dec. 2020 – 3rd Jan. 2021)Dongfang Hour – YouTube

Topics discussed included:

1) Deep Blue Aerospace Completed Wet Dress Rehearsal & gives Hints on its 2021 Calendar
2) OTT Airlines Maiden Flight

3) China and Italy Celebrate 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations
4) Not China-Related, but significant

** Best Space Moments of 2020!!! – Everyday Astronaut

** Big Tech, Spectrum Utilization and Space Force’s 1st AnniversaryConstellations Podcast

For the last episode of 2020, we sit down with Jeff Rowlison to go over major events of 2020 including the impact of COVID on the space industry, the success of SpaceX, big tech entering our industry, and C-band relocation. Jeff also takes a look back at Space Force and its vision for enterprise satellite communications and how the Guardians will operate within the SATCOM environment. He briefly goes over what it has accomplished since its establishment a year ago. Finally we ask Jeff to get his crystal ball out and share his predictions for 2021: what technology will arise and is there a particular company or individual we should keep our eyes on?

** Space Café WebTalk – SUMMIT with Markus Payer – 10. December 2020spacewatch. global – News Room – YouTube

In this week’s first Space Café Summit “Anarchy in Space?”, Prof. Kai-Uwe Schrogl and Ntorina Antoni discussed a variety of topics on space security and space safety.

** Space Café WebTalk – Stephan Hobe – 8. December 2020spacewatch. global – News Room – YouTube

In this week’s Space Cafè WebTalk, Prof. Stephan Hobe, Director at Institute of Air Law, Space Law and Cyber Law, University Cologne, Cologne, Germany talked about the future design of the legal order for human activities in outer space.

Prof. Hobe discussed some questions of the future design of the legal order for human activities in outer space.

This included economic space activities like the use of outer space through satellites, coordination via Space Traffic Management, and the use of resources from celestial bodies. Also future forms of the military use of outer space are discussed.

There will be a crucial focus on the question how the legal order for the commercial uses of outer space pays tribute to the main requirement of the Outer Space Treaty to allow a general participation of all countries in the use of outer space and its benefits.


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Videos: Night sky highlights for January 2021

** What’s Up: January 2021 – Skywatching Tips from NASA JPL

What are some skywatching highlights in January 2021? Mark Earth’s closest approach to the Sun for the year, called perihelion, at the start of the month, then spot a couple of elusive planets: Uranus on Jan. 20th and Mercury throughout the second half of the month. 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….

** What’s in the Night Sky January 2021 #WITNS | Quadrantid Meteor Shower | MercuryAlyn Wallace

00:00 Intro
00:39 Skillshare
01:30 Northern Hemisphere Night Sky
07:39 Southern Hemisphere Night Sky
12:19 Quadrantids Meteor Shower
15:20 #WITNS Winners

** Tonight’s Sky: JanuarySpace Telescope Science Institute

In January, the northern hemisphere features beautiful views of Capella, a pair of giant yellow stars; Aldebaran, a red giant star; and two star clusters—the Hyades and the Pleiades. Keep watching for the awe-inspiring space-based views of the Crab Nebula, the remains of a star that exploded as a supernova.

**  What to see in the night sky, January 2021BBC Sky at Night Magazine

A new year means a new stargazing calendar! Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel reveal what’s in the night sky throughout January 2021. Head out and see what you can spot tonight.

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