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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

The Amazing Orbital Ring with Isaac Arthur

Podcast 76

"Another one of my projects was to construct a ring around the equator which would, of course, float freely and could be arrested in its spinning motion by reactionary forces, thus enabling travel at a rate of about one thousand miles an hour, impracticable by rail"

Nikola Tesla first mention of Orbital Rings, in the 1870s, while recovering from malaria

Orbital Rings

I first heard about Orbital Rings via George via Isaac Arthur, so we got him on the blower to get the low down.

  • A concept for a space elevator that consists of an artificial ring placed around the Earth that rotates at an angular rate that is faster than the rotation of the Earth.

  • astroengineering proportions. - (think Dyson Spheres)

  • The structure is intended to be used as a space station or as a interplanetary vehicle for very high speed transportation or space launch.

  • The original orbital ring concept is related to the space fountain and launch loop.

  • Paul Birch published a series of three articles in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society in 1982. Volume 35 and 36 of JBIS

  • He was a former Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.

  • He stood for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in an election taking 11.3% of the vote. He was a Town Councillor in Cowes, Isle of Wight at the time of his death.

  • Anatoly E. Yunitskiy, author of string transport idea, also published a similar idea in USSR in 1982 and later explored it in detail in his book published in 1995.

  • The LEO Archipelago: A system of earth-rings for communications, mass-transport to space, solar power, and control of global warming :Andrew Meulenberga, P.S.Karthik Balaji --- This paper was presented during the 60th IAC

  • This system of circum-Terra rings has been proposed as an environmentally-sound, economically-responsible, and technically-feasible development to solve some of man‟s problems on earth and to provide the foundation and stepping-stones for his move into space.

Watch Orbital Rings by Isaac Arthur -- Space Fact - You could walk or get a train from your home town to the surface of the moon using orbital rings network!!


Early analysis of Virgin Galactic’s initial rocket-powered April 5 test flight of the “Unity” SpaceShipTwo (SS2) indicates the suborbital spacecraft performed as good as, or in some cases better, than model-based predictions. following the 2014 fatal crash of the original SpaceShipOne from over California’s Mojave Desert that claimed the life of one of the pilots aboard. No word yet on when the first commercial flight will occur, but the company has been selling tickets for $250,000 each. maximum speed of Mach 1.87 (1,424 miles per hour) in just 30 seconds.

Pilot Mackay has been flying since 1977, first with the U.K. Royal Air Force and now with Virgin Galactic. The former test pilot has logged more than 14,000 hours in the air in many dozens of aircraft types.

Sir Richard tweeted that “Space feels tantalisingly close now”.

Life in Venus Clouds?

Article published at the end of March in Astrobiology

Venus' Spectral Signatures and the Potential for Life in the Clouds

Limaye Sanjay S. et al

Those dark patches of Venus’ clouds that come and go, reminiscent of the algae blooms of the earths oceans ...could they actually be life in the clouds?

  • The Paper analyses support the blended hypotheses that terrestrial-type biology can survive within and contribute to the spectral signatures of Venus' clouds.

  • To test the ideas presented here, they propose the need for an integrated chemical, biochemical, and microbiological study focusing on the survival and spectroscopy of terrestrial microorganisms under Venus' cloud conditions.

  • Also investigations into the actual habitability of Venus' clouds would ideally benefit from a mixture of orbiter, lander, airplane/balloons, and sample return missions

The European Space Agency plans to remotely update the software on its Mars Express probe to ensure the aging spacecraft remains stable. delivered across over 150 million km of space

  • The probe arrived at Mars in late 2003 for a two-year mission , but almost 15 years later it's still operating.

  • ESA said four of Mars Express' six gyroscopes are failing, “Mars Express was never designed to fly without its gyros continuously available, so we could foresee a certain end to the mission sometime between January and June 2019.”

  • So engineers decided to rewrite the spacecraft's computer code so it can orient itself using pictures of surrounding stars most of the time. The code was uploaded last Sunday. A reboot is planned Monday.

  • mission manager Patrick Martin "this is certainly the most complex and extensive software rewrite we've done in recent memory."

NASA has selected the Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green as the agency’s new chief scientist. The announcement was made on Tuesday, April 10 and will become effective on May 1.

SpaceX Cleared In $3.5 Billion Zuma Failure

eport from The Wall Street Journal published late Sunday says two teams of investigators have found that a payload adapter, which was modified by Northrop Grumman to accommodate the reportedly sensitive spy satellite, is the culprit behind the loss of the $3.5 billion craft

Elon Musk shows off a new tooling for the BFR spaceship

Shared a photo of a tooling that will be used to make carbon-fiber composites for the rocket's upper stage, the spaceship. This appears to be a mandrel, or mold, around which carbon fiber is wound for the main body of the spaceship, or BFS.

ESA ExoMars orbiter will soon begin its search for life gases circling Mars every two hours and, after calibration and installation of new software, it will begin routine scientific observations.

  • Håkan Svedhem, the orbiter’s project scientist.

  • “We have the sensitivity to detect rare gases in minute proportions, with the potential to discover if Mars is still active today – biologically or geologically speaking.”

  • The primary goal is to take a detailed inventory of trace gases – those that make up less than 1% of the total volume of the planet’s atmosphere. In particular, the orbiter will seek evidence of methane and other gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological activity.

The U.S. Air Force X-37B launched into Earth orbit on September 7 2017 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 - 200 days of flight performing secretive duties during the program’s fifth flight.



The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a planned space telescope for NASA's Explorers program, designed to search for exoplanets using the transit method in an area 400 times larger than that covered by the Kepler mission.[4]

  • in order to obtain unobstructed imagery of both the northern and southern hemispheres of the sky, TESS will utilize a 2:1 lunar resonant orbit called P/2, an orbit that has never been used before (although IBEX uses a similar P/3 orbit).

  • The highly elliptical orbit has a 373,000 km (232,000 mi) apogee, timed to be positioned approximately 90° away from the position of the Moon to minimize its destabilizing effect.

  • This orbit should remain stable for decades, and will keep TESS's cameras in a stable temperature range.

  • The orbit is entirely outside the Van Allen belts to avoid radiation damage to TESS, and most of the orbit is spent far outside the belts. Every 13.7 days at its perigee of 108,000 km (67,000 mi), TESS will downlink the data it has collected during the orbit to Earth over a period of approximately three hours.[15]

First commercial launch of the Electron


Moons of Venus

Neith is a hypothetical natural satellite of Venus reportedly sighted by Giovanni Cassini in 1672 and by several other astronomers in following years. The first supposed sighting of this moon was in 1650. It was 'observed' up to 30 times by astronomers until 1770, when there were no new sightings and it was not found during the transit of Venus in 1761 and 1769,

  • Many astronomers failed to find any moon during their observations of Venus, including William Herschel in 1768. Cassini originally observed Neith to be one-fourth the diameter of Venus. In 1761,

  • Lagrange announced that Neith's orbital plane was perpendicular to the ecliptic.

  • In 1766, the director of the Vienna Observatory speculated that the observations of the moon were optical illusions. He said: "the bright image of Venus was reflected in the eye and back into the telescope, creating a smaller secondary image."

  • In 1777, J.H. Lambert estimated its orbital period as eleven days and three hours.

  • In 1884, Jean-Charles Houzeau, the former director of the Royal Observatory of Brussels suggested that the "moon" was actually a planet which orbited the Sun every 283 days. Such a planet would be in conjunction with Venus every 1080 days, which fit with the recorded observations. Houzeau was also the first to give the object the name Neith, after an Egyptian goddess.

  • Academy of Sciences published a paper in 1887 which studied each reported sighting of Neith. Ultimately, they determined that most of the sightings could be explained by stars which had been in the vicinity of Venus, including Chi Orionis, M Tauri, 71 Orionis, Nu Geminorum and Theta Librae.

  • Alex Alemi's and David Stevenson's 2006 study of models of the early Solar System at the California Institute of Technology shows Venus likely had at least one moon created by a huge impact event billions of years ago,About 10 million years later, according to the study, another impact reversed the planet's spin direction and caused the Venusian moon gradually to spiral inward until it collided with Venus, If later impacts created moons, these were removed in the same way. An alternative explanation for the lack of satellites is the effect of strong solar tides, which can destabilize large satellites orbiting the inner terrestrial planets

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