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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#127 - Alan Bond Part 3

My vision is a future for humanity where we will be completely free to pursue activities outside of our planet.

Franklin Chang Diaz

Born today 1950 – Franklin Chang Díaz, Costa Rican-Chinese American astronaut and physicist

STS-61-C, STS-34, STS-46, STS-60, STS-75, STS-91, STS-111 - produced the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR),


1991 – An ASA EMB 120 crashes in Brunswick, Georgia, killing all 23 aboard including Sen. John Tower and STS -33 astronaut Sonny Carter.

1935 – Donald Lynden-Bell, English astrophysicist and astronomer (d. 2018)

Interview Alan Bond

Alan Bond (born 1944) is an English mechanical and aerospace engineer, Retired Managing Director of Reaction Engines Ltd and associated with Project Daedalus, Blue Streak missile, HOTOL, Skylon and the A2 hypersonic passenger aircraft and of course Sabre.

Jamie is doing a marathon

Bridenstein has been talking about getting to the moon by 2024, and after explaining why the news from a few weeks ago was a false hope, SLS has to do the 2020 EM1 mission due to, as mentioned on the show, the lack of Delta IV heavies in production and Orion's inability to dock autonomously with a cryogenic upper stage, he lamented like the rest of us that we won’t see the glory spectacle of a falcon heavy and delta IV launch back to back.

Bridenstein also has opened the door to Falcon Heavy being used with a ULA upper stage ...say what!!! ...Gerstenmeir the head of Human space flight at NASA is currently yet to be convinced of such a plan!!

"This is a big charge, and it comes straight from the top," Bridenstine said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

We remain less convinced. I think the only way you get to the moon by 2024 is to have a much more solid plan, you can’t just hope that the plan falls out of the sky. Are they actually secretly hoping starship is going to be the vehicle?? Musk to the rescue ...if they are they have gone a bit mad.

We want to see a really great plan, one where we all go WOW that is incredible, good job everyone. It’s actually really strange to see the thinking out loud policy that Bridenstein and Pence have been doing of late. This might be a good thing, maybe the thinking out loud brings a whole bunch of people to the table and actually figure out a really coherent plan. Because right now we don’t have a rocket that can take humans to the Moon, we don’t really know if we will have one ready by then. We don’t even have contracts for the Lunar lander out yet. Even worse we don’t even know what the purpose of the mission is yet.

Boeing have confirmed that Starliner is delayed till August, congestion on the launch pad fo Atlas rockets, but a crewed mission could still be acheived before year end

Methane on Mars

A reanalysis of data collected by ESA’s Mars Express during the first 20 months of NASA’s Curiosity mission found one case of correlated methane detection, the first time an in-situ measurement has been independently confirmed from orbit.

Methane is so trendy right now. But of course the significance of this is that life has a biosignature of methane, but so do quite a few geological processes.

a strong signal measured by the Curiosity rover on 15 June 2013 is backed up by an independent observation by the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) onboard Mars Express the next day, as the spacecraft flew over Gale Crater

In general we did not detect any methane, aside from one definite detection of about 15 parts per billion by volume of methane in the atmosphere, which turned out to be a day after Curiosity reported a spike of about six parts per billion,” says Marco Giuranna from the National Institute for Astrophysics – Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology in Rome, Italy, the principal investigator for the PFS experiment, and lead author of the paper reporting the results in Nature Geoscience.

Ten other observations reported no detections that also corresponded to a period of low measurements reported by Curiosity.

Marco and his colleagues made two independent analyses to home in on potential source regions of the methane, dividing up a wide region around Gale Crater into grids of about 250 by 250 square kilometres.

Study 1: Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy in Brussels applied computer simulations to create one million emission scenarios for each square, in order to predict the probability of methane emission for each of those locations. The simulations took into account the measured data, expected atmospheric circulation patterns, and methane release intensity and duration based on the geological phenomenon of ‘gas seepage’.

Study 2: geologists from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome, Italy and the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, scrutinised the region around Gale Crater for features where gas seepage is expected – these are the kind of features that might be associated with methane release.

“Remarkably, we saw that the atmospheric simulation and geological assessment, performed independently of each other, suggested the same region of provenance of the methane.”

“Our results support the idea that methane release on Mars might be characterised by small, transient geological events rather than a constantly replenishing global presence, but we also need to understand better how methane is removed from the atmosphere, and how to reconcile the Mars Express data with results from other missions,” adds co-author Frank Daerden from the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy in Brussels.

Great news he ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which is designed to make the most detailed inventory of the martian atmosphere yet, began its science observations a year ago so hopefully we can hone in on this..

Objects in space

Luke’s skywalkers light saver in 1983 prop

Clyde Tombaugh (who discovered Pluto in 1930) his ashes on New Horizons

A Doritos commercial was sent 42 light years away to a star system called 47 Ursae Majoris, which is part of the Big Dipper.

Space Fact of the week.

There are seven ESA-certified soldering schools across our continent, operated on a commercial basis to serve regional industry, based in Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the UK (with an additional soldering school in Poland being certified).

Satellites are among the most complex machines ever designed, but in key respects they are still hand-made. A set of ESA-approved training schools train and certify the best solderers in Europe, to ensure they have sufficient ability to work on electronic hardware for space missions.

More than a thousand operators and inspectors take the courses annually. The resulting highly-skilled personnel are often in high demand from terrestrial industry too – including in the past companies such as Ferrari and the McLaren Formula 1 team. Schools have also been run for customers beyond Europe, from Argentina to Malaysia, as well as the United States.

“Recognition of ESA accreditation overseas and beyond the boundaries of the space sector is a mark of the training quality being provided,” comments Mikko Nikulainen, heading ESA’s Components & Materials’ Physics and Chemistry Evaluation and Standardisation Division.

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