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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#119 - Stephen Ringler of

“People, of course, like to think that they are special -- that's exciting. It's disappointing to discover otherwise.”

J. Richard Gott III

This week's special guest recorded just before Christmas;

Stephen Ringler - Head of Future Business at Satellite Applications Catapult and Managing Director of Space Store Ltd - Check it out

Happy Birthday on this unspecial day.

John Richard Gott III (born February 8, 1947 in Louisville, Kentucky) is a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University. He is known for developing and advocating the Doomsday argument.

Spaceword of the week!!

Doomsday Argument! It's bit like the Anthropic principle sort of.

The Doomsday argument claims to predict the number of future members of the human species given an estimate of the total number of humans born so far.

Simple: Supposing that all humans are born in a random order, chances are that any one human is born roughly in the middle.

The Ariane shit sandwich


  • ArianeGroup has just finalized the Definition Review of the Prometheus engine demonstrator with the support of the European Space Agency, CNES and DLR on February 1, 2019

  • · This demonstrates the relevance of the design and the technological choices made, and confirms the program’s ambitious cost objectives

  • · Prometheus is a European demonstrator for a very low cost and potentially reusable space launcher engine

  • · Bench tests of the first two examples of the engine are planned for 2020


French government spending Audit

  • Ariane 6 design is too cautious

  • Long term doubt about competitiveness

  • Money should have been given to innovation rather than the exisiting industrial players

  • Barely veiled criticism of Arianegroup (Airbus and Safran)

Bear in mind Arianespace was the “first” commercial space lauch company and has been increibly successful with a huge percentage of sats launched, but they have been slow to react to Musk and bezos. They’ve even come accross as angry that musk has bropught down the cost, un blamed military markup (which doesn’t really make sense, if anyone should be moaning it’s ULA)

  • Obvioulsy Europe needs it’s own launchers, and Ariane 6 will be important for this reason and for jobs around the participating countries (not UK).

  • There are so many participating companies and countries it’s hard to see how they can be fleet of foot enough to take on Musk and Bezos, who are just smallish companies with vast financial backup. A metaphor for the modern world.

  • Prometheus is a great step towards gaining some ground on Musk and Bezos and seems to be part of a rush to develop these Methane Engines


In the meantime Ariane 5 has completed the first lanuch of the year.

  • Saudi Geostationary Satellite-1/Hellas Sat-4 and GSAT-31 communications satellites to geostationary transfer orbits.

  • SaudiGeoSat-1/Hellas Sat-4, built by Lockheed Martin is the first commercial satellite to use the company's modernized LM2100 platform.

Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

  • GSAT-31 was built by the Indian space agency ISRO to replace the Insat-4CR satellite.

  • Arianespace anticipates launching at least 12 times this year, five missions probably Ariane 5, and the new Vega C with the Ariane 6 common solid booster.

Musks Methane Engine the Raptor was fired.

  • SpaceX has been testing non flight versions of the engine since 2016

  • 440,000 pounds-force of thrust.

  • This actual engine maybe 1 of 3 used on the recently topled an damaged Starship "hopper" test vehicle being assembled at SpaceX's South Texas

  • Looks like this version is simplified for moon use and is a very exciting development for SpaceX.

  • Be interesing when BE-4, Raptor and Prometheus are all finished how they stack up. I wonder if Musk will seel his Rpator to the competition like Bezos has with the BE-4 to ULA?

Eve and Wall-e go silent.

  1. The first two cube sats to ever venture into deep space have gone mysteriously silent.

  2. The two MarCO cube sats flew with mars insight lander and helped with relaying the landing of Insight and relaying pictures, much quicker than the other bigger mars orbiters.

  3. It’s possible that they are no longer able to aim there solar panels as the sensors are too far from the sun now to work properly, and maybe that means that as they retunr on there orbit around the sun that contact maybe mae again.

  4. The cube sats maneuvered using cold gas thrusters just like Wall-e and Eve in the film with the fire extinquishers. One cube sat was also suffering from a leaky thruster. Or maybe interstella radiation has killed them off all together.

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