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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#207 - Elizabeth Howell

This week Matt speaks with Space Journalist and Author Elizabeth Howell. Matt and Chris talk about some of the things that happened this week in space while trying out their dodgy Scottish Accents.

Scaling down a rocket reduces the mass of the propellant more than it reduces the mass of all the other components, including the tanks that hold the propellant itself. That’s why rockets today are fundamentally the same size they were in the 1950s

Dr Patrick Harkness, of the James Watt School of Engineering


This Week's Guest

Elizabeth Howell, PhD, has lived on a simulated Mars base is an award-winning journalist, (, Forbes, and SkyNews)

The Search for Life on Mars: The Greatest Scientific Detective Story of All Time

Nicholas Booth.

Canadarm and Collaboration: How Canada's Astronauts and Space Robots Explore New Worlds out on 22 Oct. 2020

With interviews from Chris Hadfield and Marc Garneau, the tale of Canada’s involvement in international space exploration from the 1960s to the present day



NASA will broadcast coverage of a first for the agency as its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission attempts to collect a sample of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 6:12 p.m. EDT.

This NASA spacecraft has been orbiting the near Earth asteroid for more than a year. It will attempt to collect a sample during a brief touch down on its surface, and eventually return it to Earth.


Fast TRip to ISS

The fastest Earth to dock with ISS 3h3m!!! 2-orbit manoeuvre Soyuz MS17/63S, that is genuinely a little quicker than my commute!!!!

NASA astronaut and Kate Rubins (42nd Birthday!!) and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov arrived aboard the International Space Station on Oct. 14, to join Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner ahead of the 20th anniversary of uninterrupted human presence in space.

Ryzhikov will become the commander when Expedition 64 begins Wednesday, Oct. 21, with the departure of Cassidy, Vagner, and Ivanishin following their six-month stay.

Rubins, a doctor in Cancer Biology, is already the first person to sequence DNA in space. They will eventually be joined by Crew-1 members, who have been delayed due to a Falcon 9 Engine Issue.

Kate Rubins maybe the last American to ever go to space ...on a soyuz!

241 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity destination that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas



Kosmos-2004 a defunct Russian navigational sat is hurtling around at 16,500mph to just miss another piece of space-junk, an old Long March 4c rocket stage from 2009 going in the other direction at 16.500 mph, buy just under 25m!! Not miles... metres.

Dr Moriba Jah, works it out to be about 70m

A list of the most worrying objects has been drawn up at the IAC2020 ...guess what they are mostly (43) Russian. The top 20 are all Zenit Rocket stages, at 21 you have the Envisat, which is a massive ESA earth observation sat, that is a proper problem. Ther is even an Ariane 5 in the list at 39 . No USA objects!!!


Pluto New Horizons LEGEND is going to Space.

Alan Stern, who leads NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond, has been selected to fly aboard SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic's suborbital spaceplane. When Stern goes up, he will test a low-light camera to gauge its potential for future astronomical observations. His vital signs will also be monitored throughout the entire two-hour mission as a biomedical experiment, "Going to work in space myself for the first time after having spent so many years sending machines there to do the research for me is going to be a major career highlight, and something I am honored to be selected for,"


All three engines developed to power Europe’s future Ariane6 rocket have completed extensive tests – the P120C solid rocket motor for the boosters, the Vulcain 2.1 core stage engine and the Vinci upper stage engine


The Artemis Accords

The UK and many others sign up for Moon trip. (United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates and Italy )

The UK will play a key role in this mission. Businesses across the UK will be involved in building the service module and habitation module of the Lunar Gateway, a new space station orbiting the moon, generating economic benefits and high-skilled jobs. The UK has already committed over £16 million for the first phase of the design of these elements.

Bridenstine says in a statement. "We are uniting with our partners to explore the moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy."


New Shepard flies again after a 10 month hiatus! This week, conducting the 13th overall mission of the vehicle.

  • 12 commercial payloads to the edge of space and back, including a NASA-developed sensor suite that could enable future lunar landing craft to perform safe and precise touchdowns on the surface of the Moon,

  • Safe and Precise Landing – Integrated Capabilities Evolution (SPLICE) technology suite, for robotic and crewed missions to land precisely on the surface of the Moon

  • The components of SPLICE that flew consist of a terrain relative navigation sensor subsystem, a navigation Doppler LIDAR, and a high-speed descent and landing computer. All three of these elements controlled the New Shepard booster’s descent

  • Eight other NASA-procured payloads inc

    • LilyPond by Space Lab Technologies hydroponic chamber for edible aquatic plants in space

  • OTher Payloads

    • Bunch of Postcards

  • Thermal Protection System technology for New Glenn,

BUT people, when? ... . Blue Origin has yet to begin selling tickets.

  • Virgin Galactic expects their first spaceflight from Spaceport America to occur later this fall, and Branson himself early next year if this and another flight go well.



The UK's Defense and Security Accelerator (DASA) has pledged nearly £90,000 ($115,000) to further development of a novel self-eating rocket. The project, under development at the University of Glasgow, burns its own structure as propellant during its ascent to orbit.

Autophage engines have already been test-fired by the Glasgow team using all-solid propellant,

A more energetic hybrid propellant will be test-fired at Kingston University in Roehampton Vale campus new rocket laboratory in London next year.

Krzysztof Bzdyk, who recently joined the University of Glasgow from his 3 year stint as a propulsion engineer at Glenn Research NASA. is the person conducting the research as part of his PhD

Dr Harkness said: “Demand for these types of launches could reach as many as 3,000 a year by the middle of this decade – a potential global market value of £100m.

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