Category Archives: Events

Misc: Rockets and Relativity + Orbitmuse’s space entrepreneurial network and technology platform + New Worlds 2018

Some items of interest found recently in my email box:

** Rockets and Relativity | Adventures in Physics and the Cosmos by Jeff Palmer

Over the past few years, with the aim of sharing my lifelong enthusiasm for Space Science with other people young and old, I have developed a series of Excel spreadsheets that explore many of the core ideas in Astronautics. Using Newton’s laws of motion and gravity and employing only basic mathematics they demonstrate that the flight of a Rocket attempting to achieve orbit around a chosen planet at a target height can be realistically modelled in a spreadsheet.

The Rocket’s ascent trajectory and any resulting circular or elliptical orbit are calculated based on the spreadsheet user’s input parameters for the space mission. The parameters determine the configuration of a two stage Rocket, specify the characteristics of a planet, and define the guidance instructions that the Rocket must follow.

I have also developed a spreadsheet that explores the concepts in Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity in some depth. The main concepts in the theory are illustrated using a series of worked examples, where again only basic mathematics is involved.

If this is of any interest to you, please visit my website to see details about my two books which feature the spreadsheets and explain their design. The spreadsheets are available for free download from the site to enable readers to “fly” their own orbital missions, and to experiment with the ideas in Special Relativity.

I am in the process of developing a rather more ambitious spreadsheet that models the soft landing of a Spacecraft from orbit around an airless planet using only Rocket thrust. This is the subject of my third book which I plan to publish in 2019.

In addition, I have developed a range of supporting PowerPoint slides and animations for use in presentations and demonstrations.

“ROCKETS ORBITS AND NEWTON” – Astronautics topics covered in the book:

  • Newton’s laws of motion and gravity
  • Mass, weight, inertia and weightlessness
  • Factors in the design of a high performance Rocket
  • Circular motion and the conditions required for a circular orbit
  • Guiding Rockets by vectoring their thrust
  • Comparing the performance of a single and a two stage Rocket
  • Modelling a two stage Rocket’s flight to orbit
  • Modelling elliptical orbits

 “LIGHT NEEDS TIME” – Special Relativity topics covered in the book:

  • Spacetime diagrams
  • Moving clocks and rulers
  • Loss of simultaneity
  • Summing relative speeds
  • Momentum and Energy
  • High speed space missions

** Community Development PartnershipOrbitmuse Inc. and NewSpace Chicago

Orbitmuse Inc. and NewSpace Chicago are pleased to announce a ground breaking Community Development Partnership to bring the Space and Aerospace entrepreneurial communities in the Midwest to the forefront of the New Space Race. The partnership aims to promote Orbitmuse’s Habitat strategic partnership location within mHUB Chicago and inspire growth in start-up interest in the Chicagoland business community.

Orbitmuse Inc. is the global Space and Aerospace entrepreneurial network and technology platform providing the essential tools and education to fund, build, and launch your Space, Aerospace, UAV, or Defense venture. Orbitmuse’s product offerings include Habitat, co-working and innovation facilities with dynamic state-of-the-art prototyping labs and startup resources; Boost, a specialized crowdfunding platform designed to promote and fund your projects; and Masters, the one-of-a-kind learning platform to bring your business and technologies to life.

NewSpace Chicago (“NSC”) is the premier Midwest community of professionals and investors driving commercialization and development of Space. NSC is promoting Chicago as a Center of Excellence for new commercial Space, Space-related, and Space-scalable ventures. NSC sponsors monthly network events and other programs supporting Space entrepreneurship in Chicago. With deep roots in the startup and technology communities, NSC provides a strong local presence for Orbitmuse to accelerate its growth in the Midwest. Building on the organic momentum of NSC’s community of nearly 400 members, this partnership provides exciting new opportunities for mentorship, investment, and active participation in Orbitmuse’s ecosystem by the Chicago community.

Together, the partnership aligns our core missions and will help our communities succeed with greater insight and resources. Members at Orbitmuse’s Habitat location within mHUB will have access to Orbitmuse’s global space entrepreneurship network and mHUB’s unparalleled coworking and innovation facility, with state-of-the-art prototyping equipment and resources, including a fully equipped 3D Printer Lab, Cold Metals Lab, Electronics Lab, Hot Metals Lab, Laser Cutting Lab, and Plastics Lab.

** New Worlds 2018 – Nov. 9-10, Austin, Texas

Join an exclusive group of the world’s leading space science, business, engineering, and policy leaders as we plan the first colonies on the Moon, Mars, and in Free Space.

Interactive Discussions: Meet the leaders of space settlement and space commerce during interactive panel discussions on topics such as Commercial Lunar Missions, Farmers in the Sky, Who Owns the Moon?, Sex in Space, and more. For details on the New Worlds discussion topics, click here.

Sharks in Space: In this “Shark Tank” style competition, six space companies will present their investor pitch to a judging panel of top space investors who will decide who takes home the big check. The audience choice winner will take home a cash prize as well! For more information on the competition, or to submit an entry click here.

For more details on the complete New Worlds agenda, confirmed speakers, and other conference events and activities, please visit us online at


Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: The First Manned Mission to Another World


First Annual Space Symposium of Lompoc, California

Vandenberg Air Force Base on the coast of California is the primary spaceport for US rockets launching payloads into polar orbits. Lompoc lies next to Vandenberg and David Tekaat of the Lompoc Senior’s Club tells me about the First Annual Space Symposium in Lompoc, set for October 9-12:

Our First Annual Space Symposium will be at the Dick Dewees Senior Center. ( 50 “Space Company” Exhibits per day + speeches by exhibitors.)

“Everyone Welcome. 400 people Expected per day. Be One Of The 400 People”

“If you are a high school student, college student, someone interested in working in the space industry, or if you are just interested in space exploration, Please be sure to come.”

Tuesday – Friday, 9 – 12 October 2018, 9:30 – 4:30 PM, Address: 1120 West Ocean Ave, Lompoc, CA ( Corner of Ocean Ave & ” R ” street )
Suggested donation of at least $1.00, no membership required, no membership dues.

They are looking for exhibitors and of particular interest are those who would like to display their models of spacecraft and rockets.

We would like to invite your “Space Company” to be an exhibitor at our symposium. Perhaps your sales & human resource departments would be especially interested. Besides inviting other “Space Companies” (about 600) to the symposium, I will be inviting high school & college students, and anyone else who wants to work in the space industry. Also the general public whom are interested in space exploration.

Venue address: Dick Dewees Community & Senior Center
1120 West Ocean Ave
Lompoc, CA, 93436

Mail application to: Lompoc, CA, First Annual Space Symposium
C/O David Tekaat, Lompoc Senior’s Club
184 Village Circle Drive
Lompoc, CA, 93436

The event proceeds will go towards support for the Senior Center and towards development of an Interactive Space Center For Youth.

Video: NASA announces astronauts for first commercial crew flights to the ISS

NASA is announcing today the selection of astronauts who will fly to the  International Space Station on the Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon transports, which are scheduled to make the first crew launches next year. The event is webcast from NASA’s Johnson  Space Center in Houston. [ Here is a video of Friday’s event:

And here is a brief video from NASA Johnson about the Commercial Crew Program:


Update 3: Brief bios of the selected astronauts:

From left: Suni Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover

More at

Update: A video released today by NASA promoting the Commercial Crew Program:

Update 2: Here is a NASA item about the commercial crew test flights:

Flight Tests to Prove Commercial Systems Fit for Human Spaceflight

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems to carry crews safely to and from low-Earth orbit – the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner. Credits: NASA [Higher-res image]
The first test flights for new spacecraft designed by commercial companies in collaboration with NASA to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station from the United States are known as Demo-1 for SpaceX and Orbital Flight Test for Boeing.

NASA’s goal in collaborating with Boeing and SpaceX is to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from station on the companies’ spacecraft. Both companies have matured their designs, are making significant progress through their extensive testing campaigns, and are headed toward flight tests to validate their systems.

An uncrewed flight test was not a NASA requirement for certifying these systems for human spaceflight. Boeing and SpaceX volunteered to perform these tests to demonstrate their systems are safe for crew.

“This was above and beyond the NASA requirement in the contract,” said Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager at NASA Kennedy. “Both partners said they really wanted to have an uncrewed flight test to make sure the integrated rockets, spacecraft and re-entry systems are all working as designed to be able to ensure the integrated system is functioning.”

Each test flight will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the systems are safe to fly astronauts. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will be launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

“Tomorrow we will meet the astronauts who will be the first to fly the CST-100 Starliner. Our commitment has always been to provide NASA and those crews the highest level of mission assurance,” said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew effort. “We believe the earliest time we can confidently do that will be in mid-2019 after flying an uncrewed flight test late this year or early next year. I’m incredibly proud of the progress our team has made, and it has been inspiring to watch them work through challenges quickly, while developing a brand new human-rated spacecraft that Boeing, NASA and the nation can be proud of.”

SpaceX designed its Crew Dragon spacecraft to launch atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX,” said Benji Reed, Director of Crew Mission Management at SpaceX. “We look forward to launching Crew Dragon—designed to be one of the safest, most-advanced human spaceflight systems ever built—and returning human-spaceflight capabilities to the United States for the first time since the Space Shuttle Program retired in 2011. SpaceX is targeting November 2018 for Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission and April 2019 for Crew Dragon’s second demonstration mission, which will carry two NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.”

NASA is making crew assignments now for the Boeing Crew Flight Test and SpaceX Demo-2 to support flight training as we return to launching our astronauts from American soil. As a partner approaches its target readiness date, NASA will work with the company and the Eastern Range to identify launch dates within the busy International Space Station schedule to ensure science investigations, as well as logistics activities and critical operations continue while these new spacecraft are tested.

Many of the team members leading the unique public-private partnership believe the agency is on the cusp of something life changing with its Commercial Crew Program.

“I’m excited to be part of the future of space travel,” said Jon Cowart, acting deputy manager for the Commercial Crew Program’s Mission Management and Integration office at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “When we get to this point the companies will have tested every piece of the spacecraft individually, but there is so much more learning that occurs when the spacecraft is actually operated in space. The systems will be operated in the actual environment to test it and ensure it’s ready for crew.”

The hardware for these uncrewed missions is being prepared for launch. Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is being outfitted at the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility on the Kennedy and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V dual engine Centaur that will launch Starliner will be shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in August to prepare for the upcoming flight. Separately, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft for Demo-1 arrived to the Cape in July for final processing. Falcon 9’s first and second stages for the Demo-1 mission are targeted to ship from SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California to the company’s rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas for additional testing in August.

Once the uncrewed flight tests are complete and the data reviews have validated the spacecraft systems, NASA astronauts will have their first opportunity to fly in the spacecraft. Crew for Boeing’s Crew Flight Test and SpaceX’s Demo-2 flights will each include at least a flight commander and pilot aboard to test out the systems.

These flight tests will have similar configurations to the uncrewed tests, but the crew will have the ability to interface with spacecraft displays, communicate with mission control, and practice manual controls during flight. Starliner and Crew Dragon will dock and undock autonomously to the space station before returning the crew safely home.

“The crew right now is actually working on integrated crew simulations on the flight systems,” said Lueders. “They are providing input to the partners to help ensure the interior of the cabin is appropriately located and set up so crew can function and conduct key activities. They’re verifying crew layout, doing simulations where they’re actually practicing their maneuvers, and also checking out the software and the display systems, and everything else for the crew to be functioning safely in the spacecraft.”

After successful completion of the flight tests with crew, NASA will review flight data to verify the systems meet the agency’s safety and performance certification requirements and are ready to begin regular servicing missions to the space station.

“I see parallels between commercial crew and the early aviation industry, when government nurtured that commercial innovation,” said Cowart. “In similar fashion, NASA is empowering private industry to gain solid footing in low-Earth orbit, which will allow NASA to explore new frontiers in deep space.”



Video: Watch Blue Origin’s New Shepard fly to space from West Texas

Update 11:31 EDT: The flight was a success. The crew capsule fired its abort engine and the capsule reached nearly 120 km, considerably higher than previous flights. (100 km is generally accepted as the border line to space.) Here are a couple of screen captures from the webcast:

The crew capsule shortly before landing.

There will be an edited video from Blue later but for now you can watch the flight from the webcast below.

Update 11:05 EDT: There was a hold at T-8:00 but now counting down again.

More about the flight:


Blue Origin, the rocket company owned by Jeff Bezos, plans to fly the New Shepard reusable suborbital rocket vehicle today at 10:00 am CT, 11:00 am ET. There will be a firing of escape motor to test aborts at high altitude.

The vehicle is also carrying several science and technology experiments.




Asteroid Day to include live webcast from Luxembourg + Hayabusa2 arrives at asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Day is this Saturday, June 30th. See the earlier posting here about this global campaign to raise awareness of the threat of asteroid impacts. Check if one of the many events planned for Asteroid day around the world is near where you live. See also updates at Asteroid Day ☄ (@AsteroidDay) | Twitter.

Here are some additional items relevant to the campaign:

** There will be a 48 hour live webcast sponsored by the European Space Agency: Asteroid Day live from Luxembourg – ESA

The world’s first 48-hour webcast about asteroids and their place in space will begin at 12:00 CEST, on Friday, 29 June 2018. Kicking off this exciting event, physicist, science advocate and former rock star Brian Cox will host the first 6-hour segment live from Luxembourg.

Brian will be joined by asteroid scientists, astronauts, rock stars and experts from around the world all in the name of Asteroid Day – the annual UN-endorsed global campaign to raise awareness about asteroids, and the risks and opportunities that they bring.

Asteroid Day takes place each year on 30 June, commemorating the 1908 Tunguska airburst over Siberia, the biggest impact event in recorded history. Since its inception, ESA has long supported the Asteroid Day initiative and plays a leading role in the global hunt for risky near-Earth objects that might one day cross our path.

** This week’s episode of the Planetary Society‘s radio program was devoted to asteroids: It’s Asteroid Week with NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer | The Planetary Society

** The Society has also opened a Kickstarter campaign called Kick Asteroid! 

The Planetary Society is excited to partner with space artist and designer, Thomas Romer, and backers around the world to create Kick Asteroid—a colorful graphic poster that will illustrate the effect of past catastrophic impacts, and methods to deflect future asteroid threats. Compelling and scientifically accurate art will be created for posters and other “merch” that backers can use in their everyday lives to spread the word about planetary defense. 

Asteroid and comet impacts, while not common, are very real threats. By backing this project, you can help spread the word about asteroid defense. You will be doing your part to protect the people of Earth from a devastating impact.

** Appropriately enough, the Japanese space agency’s Hayabusa2 probe arrived this week at the asteroid Ryugu after a three and a half year voyage from earth: Hayabusa2 Rendezvous with Ryugu – JAXA

On June 27, 2018, JAXA operated Hayabusa2 chemical propulsion thrusters for the spacecraft’s orbit control.*

The confirmation of the Hayabusa2 rendezvous made at 9:35 a.m. (Japan Standard Time, JST) is based on the following data analyses;

  • ・The thruster operation of Hayabusa2 occurred nominally
  • ・The distance between Hayabusa2 and Ryugu is approximately 20 kilometers
  • ・Hayabusa2 is able to maintain a constant distance to asteroid Ryugu
  • ・The status of Hayabusa2 is normal

The probe will spend a year and half studying the diamond shaped asteroid and four small landers will be deployed onto the surface. In addition, the probe will grab a sample of the surface and return it to earth in December 2020.

A comparison of Ryugu to other asteroids visited by space probes: Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu, so I can make comparisons of asteroid scales! | The Planetary Society.