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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

2019 in Preview

“We were in love with every rocket, we desperately wanted it to blast off successfully. We would give our hearts and souls to see it flying.”

Boris Chertok

Good omens - the sort of things happening 10 years before men on the moon are happening again today.!!!

OTD 4th January 1959 - 60 years ago- Luna 1 becomes the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon.

  • Luna 1 was launched at 16:41 GMT on 2 January 1959 from Baikonur Cosmodrome by a Luna 8K72 rocket.

  • Luna 1 became the first man-made object to reach the escape velocity.

  • First object to achieve heliocentric orbit and remains in orbit around the Sun, somewhere between the orbits of Earth and Mars.

  • 74,300 miles above the Earth, 1 kilogram of sodium gas was released forming a cloud like an artificial comet.

  • Can a listener find this photo? The sodium gas cloud was photographed by Morris Alan, from Kingscat Hill, near Dunfermline, Firthshire,

  • "It appeared like a cloud on the horizon near the constellation Virgo"

  • Due to a programming error, the duration of the upper stage's burn was incorrect, and consequently Luna 1 failed to impact the Moon. (it had lots russian paraphenalia on board)

  • The spacecraft passed within 3,725 miles of the Moon's surface on 4 January after 34 hours of flight.

  • The Moon was found to have no detectable magnetic field.

  • First-ever direct observations and measurements of the solar wind

  • Studied the Van Allen belts.

  • Jan 5 07:00 - Luna 1 radio transmitter ceases to operate when the batteries run out of power at a distance of 0.6 million kilometres from the Earth, the furthest radio broadcast EVER at the time.

Born on this day!! Episode 98 Space Legend of the Week: Anna Winlock

Space News!!

New Horizons successfully takes data as it wizzes by Ultima Thule.

  • The most primitive object ever imaged close up by a spacecraft

  • Ultima Thule was illuminated with a Sun 1,900 times fainter than a sunny day here on Earth

  • The first detailed picture, that was more than just a blurry peanut made of a few pixels, revealed a Plastic Duck shaped asteroid reminiscent of 67p but MUCH bigger.

  • It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles

  • Bear in mind if earth was a football, then Ultima Thule would be 70 milesaway and as small as a small grain of sand (500 microns) (the moon would be 6.5 metres away. (you’d have to go 6100 times further to get to Proxima!!!)

  • we’ll get even better pictures of MU69 in the days and months ahead.

  • frigid state almost certainly holds clues to how all planetary bodies came into being some 4.6 billion years ago.

  • The scientists have decided to call the larger lobe "Ultima", and the smaller lobe "Thule". The volume ratio is three to one.

  • Pair would have come together at very low speed, at maybe 2-3km/h.

  • Carly Howett. "Our current theory as to why Ultima Thule is red is the irradiation of exotic ices." Essentially, its surface has been "burnt" over the eons by the high-energy cosmic rays and X-rays that flood space

  • It will never catch up with Voyagers as they were flung out by jupiter to greater speeds 17Km/s rather than NH’s poxy 14KM/s

  • New Horizons would still take 90 thousand years to get to Proxima, despite only taking 30 seconds to go from NY to LA.

  • Brian May has written a song about it.

The Osiris-Rex spacecraft entered orbit Monday around the asteroid Bennu,

  • 70 million miles from Earth.

  • smallest celestial body ever to be orbited by a spacecraft.

  • Bennu is just 1,600 feet across. the topology of the space rock will be done to a greater resolution than even the Earth's surface

  • The spacecraft’s lorbits a mile above the asteroid’s surface, another record.

  • Osiris-Rex arrived at Bennu in December and flew in formation with it until the latest maneuver for orbit insertion 31st december.

  • The goal is to grab gravel samples in 2020 for return to Earth in 2023.

Chang’e 4

  • At 10:26 Beijing time (02:26 GMT), the un-crewed Chang'e-4 probe touched down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, state media said. It is carrying instruments to analyse the unexplored region's geology, as well to conduct biological experiments. The landing is being seen as a major milestone in space exploration.

  • The Chang'e-4 probe has already sent back its first pictures from the surface, which were shared by state media.

  • messages to and from Chang’e 4 are being relayed by the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite, which is in a “halo orbit” at a legrange point on the other side of the moon.

  • This is a huge statement, combined with the shear number of space launches that basically says, Hey Russia we’re now on our way to be number 2, and probably hey US, we’re reeling you in too.

  • The landing site is the Von Kármán crater (180 km diameter) in the, The site has symbolic as well as scientific value. Theodore von Kármán was the PhD advisor of Qian Xuesen, the founder of the Chinese space program

  • The lander will carry a 3kg (6.6lb) container with potato and arabidopsis plant seeds to perform a biological experiment aka The "lunar mini biosphere" experiment designed by 28 Chinese universities

  • The lander is carrying

  • two cameras;

  • a German-built radiation experiment called LND;

  • a spectrometer that will perform the low-frequency radio astronomy observations.

  • The rover will carry a

  • panoramic camera;

  • a radar to probe beneath the lunar surface;

  • an imaging spectrometer to identify minerals;

  • an experiment to examine the interaction of the solar wind (a stream of energised particles from the Sun) with the lunar surface.

So Whats happening in 2019!!!


  • Commercial Moonlanding?

  • Commercial Providers of Astronaut Flights?

  • Commercial Space Tourism?

  • More and more commercial companies all around the world entering the orbital launch game?

  • Commercial space Internet?

  • Commercial artificial Meteors?

Other than the excitement of the above, isn’t that incredible!!! Such an amazing start to the year.

22 things to look forward to in chronological order.

  1. 18th Jan. Crew Dragon Demo 1: Planned test of Dragon 2 as part of Commercial Crew Development program.

  2. India is planning to launch 32 space missions in 2019,

  • Delayed from January, now probably march, Chandrayaan-2 to land on the moon with lander and rover.

  1. First orbital flight of the LOX/propylene Vector-R rocket

  2. 13th Feb - Falcon Block 5 with BERESHEET the first private company to land on the moon!!! SpaceIL team was formed as a nonprofit organization wishing to promote scientific and technological education in Israel -

  3. 28 February 2019 Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft will be carrying Aleksey Ovchinin, Nick Hague on the second attempt at getting to the ISS with Christina Koch.

  4. Boeing Orbital Flight Test of CST-100 Starliner as part of Commercial Crew Development program. 30-day robotic mission.

  5. Maiden Orbital Flight of Launcher One

  6. Falcon 9 Dragon 2 - In-flight abort test at Max Q, performed by the capsule from the first demonstration mission

  7. Orion In-flight abort test under the highest aerodynamic loads. A specific booster repurposed from a LGM-118 Peacekeeper missile is being developed for this mission

  8. Blue Origin plans to send its own employees on board of New Shepard for the first crewed suborbital flight in the first half of 2019

  9. Musk said SpaceX is moving "hopper" test flights of the Starship vehicle forward, into the second quarter of 2019. Musk said he would reveal more technical details about the new vehicle after tests

  10. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will return to the International Space Station,

  11. Boeing Crewed Flight Test of CST-100 Starliner as part of Commercial Crew Development program (nominally 14 days). May also become the first operational mission with a longer duration, as part of ISS Crew Transportation Services program.

  12. First launch of OneWeb satellites from Baikonur followed by 9 more from the same site every 20-25 days, then 6 from Vostochny

  13. First operational mission of Dragon 2 as part of the ISS Crew Transportation Services program.

  14. CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite) is a planned European space telescope for the study of the formation of extrasolar planets. The launch window for CHEOPS is October to November 2019

  15. Lunar Pathfinder Mission - Goonhilly, Surrey Satellites and ESA - PSL

  16. Maiden launch of the Firefly Alpha LOX/RP-1 commercial smallsat launche

  17. Maiden flight of Vega-C with intersting LARES 2 sat testing relativity

  18. Hayabusa2 Departure from asteroid Ryugu

  19. China to launch Chang'e 5, Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket, the first sample-return mission to the Moon since Luna 24 in 1976

  20. Electron Launching Moon Express

Space Fact

2019 is the year that Bladerunner was set!!!

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