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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#170 - Chinese Space with Andrew Jones

This week we talk with Andrew Jones a Journalist and prolific tweeter of Chineses Space news. We catch up on the crazy world of Yusaku Maezawa. Celebrate the first Hominidae in space Chop Chop Chang, and more talk of our cluttered up space highways and some near misses.

It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.

Alan Shepard

Andrew's Websites


Matt will be talking at on the 5th of March.

This conference is a unique opportunity not only to discuss and experience the future of this industry but also to meet and network with key industry leaders....and Matt


On this day

31st January HAM the astrochimp -

The Yuri Gagarin of apes, Born in central Africa, at the age of 4 he became the first Hominidae in Space in 1961, as a Mercury Project astronaut.

Ham is actually and Ancronym - Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, but also the boss there was called Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton "Ham" Blackshear. Whittled down from 80 chmip candidates, HAM, was officially called Chimp #65 until he returned safely, no one wanted a named chimp to die and the bad press with that more humanised event. His handlers called him Chop Chop Chang however.

Ham was trained by Joseph Vincent Brady pioneer of behavioural pharmacology. and human research ethics to respond to different stimulus including lights and sounds, Getting electric shocks in his feet if he failed to push a level in response, and getting a delicious banana pellet if he did good!

Unlike the preceding primate flights, HAM actually did some of the flying, he wasn’t a passive passenger, and this was very important for the mission of Alan Shepard less than a year later.

During the flight, Ham's performance and vital signs were monitored from the ground. His reactions were only marginally slower than in test flights, which was great news when it came to the unknown human abilities in space.

The spaceship wasn’t perfect and depressurised but HAM’s spacesuit was good and after a 16minute flight into space Ham splashed down with only a bruised nose. Ham went on to live till he was 25 mostly at the National Zoo in Washington. The Americans wanted to follow the example of the Russians who had had Belka and Strelka the space dogs stuffed and on display, but this is not really the taste of the American public, so he was buried at the International Space Hall of Fame, sans Skeleton which is now in the collection of the National Museum of Health and Medicine

Photograph: Henry Nicholls

Ham’s backup was the only female chimp on the program, She was also the last surviving Astro-chimpanzee and died at age 41 on March 14, 1998, after having 9 kids born to the Air Force breeding program.

Exactly 3 years before we had Explorer 1 (the first of 90 Explorer satellites - the first US satellite, hot on the heels of Sputnik. It went up on a Juno rocket and famously detected the Van Allen Belts. The all-female computer team were responsible for doing all the maths by hand required to plot satellite trajectories

10 years after Ham

1971 – Apollo 14: Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lift-off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.


This weekend

Northrop Grumman’s MEV 1 satellite attached to Intelsat 901. Image: Northrop Grumman / Space Logistics Services

MEV-1 may rendezvous with Intelsat 901 and extend its operational life by five years through in-orbit station-keeping. Refuelling in space is hard but we're about to see a test for a similar concept. Back on 9th October a Proton with a Briz m threw up an orbital ATK (now Northrop Grumman) MEV-1 spacecraft that will attempt to join up and control a 2001 Intelsat 901 satellite on orbit!!!

They will do this in graveyard orbit testing all the systems for a few weeks before dropping down to carry on with the mission in geo.


his is not refuelling which would require you to open up, fill and drain valves, put in fuel, which is very volatile, and then seal up all the interfaces and separate from the spacecraft. significantly more operational complexity. MEV’s approach is to go and attach to the spacecraft. Then MEV takes care of station keeping and attitude control. It’s a much simpler concept. MEV‑1 has the ability to dock and undock several times during its 15-year design life, allowing it to service multiple customers


A SpaceX Falcon 9 B1051.3 that has previously thrown a Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS (Demo-1) and a trio of Earth-observing satellites for Canada. Flew for a third time to deliver another huge batch of 60 Starlinks into the ever crowding orbit of the earth. Much to the chagrin of Astronomer and Space Environmentalists.

Near Miss

And in a timely warning to all, two defunct satellites narrowly missed each other, like sickeningly close.

Leolabs had warned on twitter,

“We are monitoring a close approach event involving IRAS (13777), the decommissioned space telescope launched in 1983, and GGSE-4 (2828), an experimental US payload launched in 1967” With a combined velocity of 4.7Km/s these two large satellites came within 50m of one another, a few days before the risk of collision was put at 100:1 ...really quite likely, considering just how bad the effects could be. Jonathan McDowell, said that given the size of the satellites - about the size of a car and a rubbish bin - "a 15-to-30 metre predicted miss distance is alarming" especially as the GGSE-4 has a 60ft boom arm daggling of it.

US Space Command said the two inactive satellites passed each other at 18:39 EST (23:39 GMT) some 550 miles (900km) above Pittsburgh.


A mesmerizing and meditative video out this week, what looks like molten glass or, fractured orange glass.

The worlds largest Solar Telescope the 4m Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope on Haleakalā, a 3,000m-high volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui, has released pictures of the Sun’s surface with a resolution of features about 30km across!!

This is great news for Solar scientists, who also have the massive good news that the ESA-NASA Solar Orbiter (SolO) space observatory is being launched next week from Cape Canaveral which will take pictures of the Sun from the closest-ever orbit, just 42 million km from the surface, nearer than Mercury although the resolution won’t be as detailed the spectrum of measurements will be broader, so combined they will give the most detailed view EVER of our parent star,

Japanese dude Yusaku Maezawa has backtracked on his plans to solicit a woman for a spacex moon journey and beyond through documentary “Full Moon Lovers.” “To think that 27,722 women, with earnest intentions and courage, had used their precious time to apply makes me feel extremely remorseful to conclude and inform everyone with this selfish decision of mine.”

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Mar 08, 2021

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