top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#73 Week in Space and David Baker

“Not just beautiful, though--the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they're watching me.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

This week features a Chat with David Baker about

Space Force, Chang'e-4, Deep space Gateway and Interstellar Navigation ...check out the full story in next months Spaceflight


  • NASA's Mars Curiosity rover just hit a new milestone: its two-thousandth Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet

  • SpaceX’s official Facebook page has been deleted by company founder and CEO Elon Musk. he didn’t even know it or Tesla had an account and that the latter’s page “looks lame anyway.” Less than a week ago, it was reported that some 50 million Facebook users had their data harvested without permission by Cambridge Analytica, a firm based out of London.

  • Sentinel-3B satellite now at the Plesetsk launch site in Russia and liftoff set for 25 April, engineers are steaming ahead with the task of getting Europe's next Copernicus satellite ready for its journey into orbit.

  • ESA's fourth medium-class science mission chosen and to be launched in mid 2028 on Arianne 6 ... ARIEL, the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, was selected as the fourth medium-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision programme. It will study what exoplanets are made of, how they formed and how they evolve, by surveying a diverse sample of about 1000 extrasolar planets, simultaneously in visible and infrared wavelengths.

  • It will operate from an orbit around the second Lagrange point, L2,

  • The mission has to continue into another round of detailed mission study to define the satellite's design before 'adoption' of the mission in about 2020 – then an industrial contractor will be selected to build it.

  • ARIEL was chosen from three candidates, THOR (Turbulence Heating ObserveR) and XIPE (X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer).

  • Solar Orbiter, Euclid and PLATO have already been selected as medium-class missions

  • Will be led by University College London, UK Space Agency will provide a multi-million pound investment package to support UK leadership of the project.

  • Dr Graham Turnock, of the UK Space Agency, said:“It is thanks to the world-leading skills of our innovative space community that a UK-led consortium has been chosen to take forward the next ESA science mission. This demonstrates what a vital role we continue to play in European collaboration on research in space.

  • After just two months in space, the controversial satellite — called the Humanity Star — has fallen back to Earth and burned up in the planet’s atmosphere. Early than expected, but it’s light and has a large surface area so slowed quicker than normal satellites. Did it really do what it was supposed to? NZ Beck of Electron fame.

  • Last month, ESA's Gaia satellite (mission to survey one billion stars in our Galaxy in order to build the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way) experienced a technical anomaly followed by a 'safe mode' event. After thorough examination, the spacecraft was successfully recovered and resumed normal scientific operations, while the mission team keeps investigating the exact cause of the anomaly. Scientists worldwide are looking forward to the second data release of Gaia, which will take place on 25 April and is based on observations performed between mid 2014 and mid 2016. The mission has already collected all data needed for its third release; these data will be processed and analysed over the next few years.

  • Chinese space station will fall to Earth within two weeks

  • China's first space station may fall as early as one week from now, and certainly within two, ESA say.

  • They cannot predict with any confidence where pieces of the 10.4-meter long Tiangong-1 station, which is traveling at 17,000 km/h, will land.

  • most of the station will burn up. At 8.5 tons when fully fueled, but has since used much of that propellant, some pieces will very likely reach the planet's surface.

  • However, the likelihood of it affecting humans is quite low. Scientists estimate the "personal probability of being hit by a piece of debris from the Tiangong-1" is about 10 million times smaller than the annual chance of being hit by lightning.

Roscosmos launches Soyuz MS-08 mission, first crew launch of 2018

Soyuz MS-08 is the 137th flight of a crewed Soyuz vehicle and the 63rd launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket since it entered service in 2001

three members of the Expedition 55 crew to the International Space Station.The crew consists of a Russian commander, and two American flight engineers.

  • Crew member

  • Commander Oleg Artemyev, RSA Second spaceflight

  • Flight Engineer 1 Andrew J. Feustel, NASA Third spaceflight

  • Flight Engineer 2 Richard R. Arnold, NASA Second spaceflight

After an 8 minute 45 second ride to orbit, Soyuz MS-08 separated from the Soyuz-FG third stage and entered orbit, beginning a two-day orbital chase with the Station docking at 3:40 p.m. EDT (19:40 GMT) March 23, 2018, at the space-facing port of the Poisk module on the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS while the complex was flying 254 miles (408 kilometers) over Serbia. After a couple hours of leak checks, the hatches between the spacecraft and station were opened at 5:48 p.m. EDT (21:48 GMT).

  • Joining Norishige Kanai, Anton Shkaplerov and Scott Tingle

  • Next week, on March 29, Feustel and Arnold will conduct their first major task aboard the ISS—U.S. EVA-49. While outside, the duo will install wireless antennas on the Tranquility module and replace cameras on the P1 truss segment.

  • A week after that, SpaceX’s CRS-14 Dragon cargo ship is set to launch and rendezvous with the space station on April 2 and April 4 respectively.

  • In addition to various cargo ships arriving and departing during their multi-month stay, the crew will perform hundreds of experiments, many of which will be brought to the outpost by the those visiting vehicles.

  • The trio is slated to return to Earth in Soyuz MS-08 on Aug. 28, 2018.


  • 24 March 1992 Dirk Frimout was the first person from Belgium to fly to space (268th person), on STS-45 with Mike Foale, check out our chat with him on Podcast #50 - Dirk Frimout - Estec - Esa

Vanguard 1 60 Years ago

  • March 17, 1958, 12:15:41 UTC was the fourth artificial Earth orbital satellite to be successfully launched (following Sputnik 1, Sputnik 2, and Explorer 1).

  • Vanguard 1 was the first satellite to have solar electric power.

  • It remains the oldest man-made object still in orbit, together with the upper stage of its launch vehicle.

  • It was designed to test the launch capabilities of a three-stage launch Vanguard vehicle as a part of Project Vanguard, and the effects of the space environment on a satellite and its systems in Earth orbit.

  • It also was used to obtain geodetic measurements through orbit analysis.

  • Vanguard 1 was described by the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, as "the grapefruit satellite"

Spacecraft properties

  • Manufacturer Naval Research Laboratory

  • Launch mass 1.47 kilograms (3.2 lb)

  • Dimensions 6.4 inches (16 cm) diameter

  • Launch date March 17, 1958, 12:15:41 UTC;

  • Rocket Vanguard TV-4

  • Launch site Cape Canaveral LC-18A

  • End of mission

  • Last contact May 1964

  • Decay date Est. 2198 (240-year orbital lifetime)

  • Orbital parameters

  • Reference system Geocentric

  • Perigee 658.9 kilometers (355.8 nmi)[1]

  • Apogee 3,839.9 kilometers (2,073.4 nmi)[1]


Astronauts No matter what their mothers told them--they don't always wear clean underwear. They wear them for days at a time and then often they just burn up in the Soyuz return to earth. But American astronaut Don Pettit discovered that by folding a pair of underpants into a sphere shape and stitching in some Russian toilet paper (which is thick, wool like gauze), this created a warmer environment for some tomato and basil seeds to start to sprout. Like their socks, underwear is only changed every 3-4 days so he figured the pants might provide some extra nutrients for the plants!

Russian scientists have thought about the problem of dirty underwear. It has to sit on the Station for months at a time. The scientists began designing a system. This system uses bacteria. The bacteria would digest the astronauts' cotton and paper underwear. They think that the gas the bacteria make could be used to help fuel the spacecraft. The system could be used to get rid of other trash, too. The right mixture has not been found, yet.

26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page