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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#118 - Indian Space part 2

*the original podcast had a technical glitch, please refresh your feed for the correct version.

Don't tell me that man doesn't belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to go - and he'll do plenty well when he gets there.

Wernher von Braun

This week features Part 2 of Gurbir Singh who's book The Indian Space Programme: India's incredible journey from the Third World towards the First - available with a discount of 30% through this link Use the code "ATUK" -GET IT!!!

Space News

Telesat choose Blue Origin

  • Canadian fleet operator Telesat has agreed to launch an unspecified number of satellites for its future low-Earth-orbit broadband constellation on multiple New Glenn missions,

  • “Blue Origin’s powerful New Glenn rocket is a disruptive force in the launch services market which, in turn, will help Telesat disrupt the economics and performance of global broadband connectivity,” Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg

  • Blue Origin now has 5 customers and eight missions Eutelsat, Sky Perfect JSAT and Thai Mu Space, and five launches for OneWeb.

  • “New Glenn’s 7-meter fairing, with its huge mass and volume capabilities, is a perfect match for Telesat’s constellation plans while reducing launch costs per satellite,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith


the main findings from the independent ‘UK space industry: size and health report’ show that, compared to the 2016 survey:

  • income up from £13.7 billion to £14.8 billion

  • employment up from 38,522 to 41,900

  • exports up from £5 billion to £5.5 billion

The report also shows that an average of 39 new companies have been added to the UK space sector every year since 2012.

There is confidence in the sector, with 73% of organisations expecting income growth over the next three years and 48% of those expecting it be more than 10% higher than in the previous three years. The workforce is also expected to grow, with 93% of organisations predicting job numbers to grow or maintain their current level.

Space Systems Loral (SSL) terminating an agreement with DARPA to develop a satellite servicing system.

  • The division of beleguered Maxar Technologies, said it backed out of a 2017 agreement with DARPA on the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satelites (RSGS) program to "focus its resources on ensuring optimal returns when weighed against other capital priorities," Worldview etc.

  • Huge pain in the ass for Darpa

  • Shouldn’t be seen as a nail in the coffin of the concept

OneWeb confirmed a Soyuz problem will delay the launch of its first satellites.

  • Greg Wyler, tweeted that an anomaly with the rocket "will cause us to push out the launch," which was scheduled for mid-February from French Guiana.

  • No new date for the launch.

  • Technicians had found a problem with the Fregat upper stage and were studying how to repair it.

China's Chang'e-4 lunar lander awake after long lunar night

  • Back in action on Wednesday, a day after the Yutu-2 rover woke up shortly after sunrise.

  • Temperatures fell to –190 degrees Celsius, a bit colder than expected. Chinese scientists said differences from the near side in lunar soil composition could be the reason for the harsher cold.

VIRGIN GALAGTIC The good the bad and the ugly

The Good

Richard Branson said, "I will hope to go up in the middle of this year myself... We've got another test flight in a handful of weeks taking place from Mojave, then we'll have another one a few weeks later, then another one. And then, we move everything to New Mexico, where we have a beautiful spaceport."

The Bad

Virgin Galactic laid off dozens of employees

The Ugly

Branson :)

P120c second test.

The first qualification model of the P120C solid-fuel motor, configured for Vega-C, was static fired yesterday on the test stand at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Fully loaded with 142 tonnes of fuel, the 13.5 m long and 3.4 m diameter motor was ignited for a final simulation of liftoff and the first phase of flight.

During a burn time of 135 seconds, the P120C delivered a maximum thrust of about 4650 kN. No anomalies were seen and, according to initial recorded data, the performance met expectations. A full analysis of these test results will confirm readiness of this motor for Vega-C’s debut launch

No Need for planet 9?

Shepherding in a Self-gravitating Disk of Trans-Neptunian Objects

Antranik A. Sefilian1 and Jihad R. Touma

Published 2019 January 21 • © 2019. The American Astronomical Society.

“The Planet Nine hypothesis is a fascinating one, but if the hypothesised ninth planet exists, it has so far avoided detection,” said co-author Antranik Sefilian, a PhD student in Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. “We wanted to see whether there could be another, less dramatic and perhaps more natural, cause for the unusual orbits we see in some TNOs. We thought, rather than allowing for a ninth planet, and then worry about its formation and unusual orbit, why not simply account for the gravity of small objects constituting a disc beyond the orbit of Neptune and see what it does for us?”

A relatively massive and moderately eccentric disk of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) can effectively counteract apse precession induced by the outer planets, and in the process shepherd highly eccentric members of its population into nearly stationary configurations that are anti-aligned with the disk itself.

faithfully reproduce key orbital properties of the much-discussed TNO population. They discuss its essential ingredients in the context of solar system formation and evolution, and argue for their naturalness in view of the growing body of observational and theoretical knowledge about self-gravitating disks around massive bodies, extra-solar debris disks included.

From 2007 to 2012, the US Defence Intelligence Agency DIA spent $22 million on scifi type activity, formally known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. It was apparently initiated at the behest of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with most of the funding directed to a Nevada constituent of his.

Including the following research

  • Advanced Nuclear Propulsion for Manned Deep Space Missions

  • Advanced Space Propulsion Based on Vacuum (space time Metric) Engineering,

  • Invisibility Cloaking,

  • Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy,

  • High-F'requency Gravitational Wave Communications,

  • Antigravity for Aerospace Applications,

  • Metallic Glasses

  • Aerospace Applications of Programmable Matter,

  • Space-Communication Implications of Quantum Entanglement and Nonlocality,

  • Aneutronic Fusion Propulsion

  • Cockpits in the Era of Breakthrough Flight.

  • Cognitive Limits on Simultaneous Control of multiple Unmanned Spacecraft

  • Detection and High Resolution tacking of Vehicles at Hypersonic Velocities,

  • Negative Mass Propulsion

  • State of the Art and Evolution of High Energy Laser Weapons

One last Opportunity for rover

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have begun transmitting a new set of commands to the Opportunity rover in an attempt to compel the 15-year-old Martian explorer to contact Earth. The new commands, which will be beamed to the rover during the next several weeks, address low-likelihood events that could have occurred aboard Opportunity, preventing it from transmitting.

The rover's last communication with Earth was received June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the solar-powered rover's location on Mars.

American Beauty type trash bag in orbit

  • A "empty rubbish bag" type object has been spotted floating above Earth. The satellite is known as A10bMLz, and those who spotted it say it looks like it is several metres across and extremely lightweight

  • So maybe a metallic foil, that has been left over from a rocket launch, but hard to say which one. the object could have been launched from.

  • A10bMLz is buffeted by radiation pressure from the Sun, like a solar sail. So its orbit changes chaoticallyon a scale of days to weeks, and according to the London-based Northolt Branch Observatories (NBO) that analysed it it’s hard to say if if will reenter or continue in orbit.

Apollo moon rock may have come from Earth

according to research led by Dr. Jeremy Bellucci from the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Professor Alexander Nemchin of Curtin University

A felsite clast (light coloured volcanic piece of rock fragment) in lunar breccia Apollo 14 sample 14321, which has been interpreted as Imbrium ejecta, has petrographic (rock detail) and chemical features that are consistent with formation conditions commonly assigned to both lunar and terrestrial environments

Two, currently unresolvable hypotheses for the origin and history of the clast are allowed by the data.

  • relatively oxidizing conditions were developed in a lunar magma, at the base of the lunar crust to form the zircon grains and their host felsite. Subsequent excavation by the Imbrium impact introduced more typical lunar features to the clast but preserved primary chemical characteristics in zircon and some other accessory minerals. However, this hypothesis fails to explain the high Pressure of crystallization not seen on the moon before.

  • Alternatively, the felsite and its zircon crystallized on Earth at a modest depth of around 12 miles in the continental crust where oxidizing, low-Temperature, fluid-rich conditions are common. Then the clast was ejected from the Earth during a large impact, entrained in the lunar regolith as a terrestrial meteorite with the evidence of reducing conditions introduced during its incorporation into the Imbrium ejecta and host breccia. And then picked up by Shepard or Mitchell

The National Space Society (NSS) is proposing a transparently operating civil U.S. Space Guard with a national and collaborative international scope of operation. Not Space force but more like the Coast Guard. Patrolling Space waters and engaging the international space community in collaborative efforts to advance space development throughout Earth orbit, cislunar space, lunar surface operations, orbital spaces, solar system planetary bodies, and beyond.

They Included an illustration, of a crewed U.S. Space Guard Cutter. While this is unlikely anytime in the near future, a Space Guard could ultimately evolve into human spaceflight operations, with a rescue, security and enforcement capability

They suggest it may grow out of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uniformed branch

India's space agency ISRO has opened a human spaceflight centre.

The Human Space Flight Centre, located in Bengaluru next door to ISRO headquarters.

  • development of the country's Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft.

  • ISRO plans to launch the first crewed Gaganyaan mission by the end of 2021, ahead of a 2022 goal announced last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi

  • Design will be finalised soon

  • ISRO are keen to send a woman on the maiden voyage.

Second half of Gurbir Singh Indian space!


The Sun will be a giant Crystal in 10 billion years.

Data captured by ESA’s Gaia has revealed how white dwarfs, the dead remnants of stars like our Sun, turn into solid spheres as the hot gas inside them cools down.

  • This process of solidification, or crystallisation, of the material inside white dwarfs was predicted 50 years ago but it wasn’t until the arrival of Gaia that astronomers were able to observe enough of these objects with such a precision to see the pattern revealing this process.

  • "Previously, we had distances for only a few hundreds of white dwarfs and many of them were in clusters, where they all have the same age," says Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay from the University of Warwick, UK, lead author of the paper describing the results, published today in Nature. "With Gaia we now have the distance, brightness and colour of hundreds of thousands of white dwarfs for a sizeable sample in the outer disc of the Milky Way, spanning a range of initial masses and all kinds of ages."

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