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 virginorbit.com.

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

Webcasts:

** 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 https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up….

** 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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Space policy roundup – Dec.28.2020

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

Webcasts:

** China Aero & Space Weekly News Round-Up – Episode 13 (21st -27th Dec. 2020)Dongfang Hour – YouTube

1) Long March 8 Launch (follow-up) …
2) News announcements regarding the calendar of the Chinese Space Station …
3) China Space News article on Moon resources …
4) China Satcom further verticalizing & pivoting to mobile broadband: Interview of Sun Jing (GM of China Satcom) …
5) Completion of the static tests of the Chinese MA700 regional jet …

** Space Café WebTalk – Claudia Kessler – 1. December 2020 spacewatch. global – News Room – YouTube

In this week’s Space Cafè WebTalk, Claudia Kessler, Initiator, Founder, driving force of “Die Astronautin”, Bremen, Germany, talked inspiration and empowerment of woman for space.

Imagine: February, 2022: A space crew with only women astronauts docks to the Unity Node after having flown aboard a Space X Falcon 9 in the Crew Dragon Spacecraft, orbiting ever closer to rendezvous with their astronaut colleagues of the International Space Station.

It is a historic first. 4 Women 2 Space 4 Earth — Bringing with them the combined dreams, experience, insights, expertise and vision of millions of girls and women to access space, to take their place in the universe. Four Women to Space for Earth – one trip to Space, one voyage to the Universe to work together to obtain a safe, healthy mother-ship Earth.

The resulting inspiration, education, dissemination and implementation of the skills and knowledge, be it science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM); be it contextual, conceptual, cognitive thinking; be it experimental, experiential, exponential exploration will lead to a more equitable, sustainable, peaceful universe without gender, race, geographical or digital divide.

How are we going there? These was addressed by Claudia.

** Space Café WebTalk – MORIBA´S VOXPOPULI #2 – 03.December 2020spacewatch. global – News Room – YouTube

In this session of Space Cafè “Moriba’s Vox Populi #02/2020” Dr. Moriba Jah talked about topics of relevance to space safety, security, and sustainability with

Charity Weeden, Vice President, Global Space Policy, Astroscale U.S. Inc
Jenni Tapio, Chief Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment Finland
Dr. Regina Peldszus, Senior Policy Officer (Space Security, Space Surveillance) seconded to Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy
Prof. Thomas Schildknecht, Head of Astronomy Faculty at University of Bern.
Moriba’s Vox Populi is a disruptor in the current growing ocean of webcasts!

** Aerojet Rocketdyne – Historic Rocket Engine Maker Sold for $4.4 Billion – Scott Manley

Through the history of the US space program there have been 2 corporations which made most of the rocket engines for the boosters – Aerojet and Rocketdyne. Up until 10 years ago it was hard to find a space mission they hadn’t provided hardware for. Nowadays it’s hard to find a rocket booster which uses their engines. Aerojet-Rocketdyne was created in 2013 out of a merger of these and over the weekend it was announced that Lockheed Martin is buying this historic company. So I figured it’d be worth talking about these organizations and how important they’ve been to the space program in the past, and how they may be losing out in the booster market but still keep providing space hardware for other niches.

History of Aerojet Rocketdyne from their own site: https://www.rocket.com/who-we-are/his… Here’s a list of US rocket engines with their manufacturers: http://www.b14643.de/Spacerockets/Spe…

** The Space Show – Dec.23.2020Dr. Ajay Kothari discussed “his lunar return plans, China, space importance and more“.

**The Space Show – Dec.27.2020 – In this Open Lines program, David Livingston discussed “multiple topics with multiple callers. We talked space solar power, Starship and Boca Chica, callers made lots of predictions for 20201, we covered our efforts to go to the Moon and much more.“.

** December 22, 2020 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast

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“Orthographic projections of the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” showing the geology of the Moon’s near side (left) and far side (right) with shaded topography from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). This geologic map is a synthesis of six Apollo-era regional geologic maps, updated based on data from recent satellite missions. It will serve as a reference for lunar science and future human missions to the Moon. Credit: NASA/GSFC/USGS.” Credits: USGS

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