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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#214 - Dr Peter Swan - Space Elevators

This week features a fab interview with Dr Peter Swan, President of the International Space Elevator Consortium. Chris Joins Matt to talk Sample Return Mission too.

The hypothesis of plant life... appears still the most satisfactory explanation of the various kinds of dark markings and their complex seasonal and secular changes.

Gerard Peter Kuiper

"On the Martian Surface Features" a paper published in 1955


Dr. Peter A. Swan is President of the International Space Elevator Consortium.

As such, he leads a team who furthered the concept with incremental studies and yearly conferences. Over the last 18 years, he has published many books on the topic as author, co-author, and/or co-editor. He is a full Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics and contributes often to their Cosmic Studies.

He has edited three of their major study reports on space elevators and space mineral resources. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of Zodiac Planetary Services, a small start-up looking at commercial lunar mining. He teaches for Osher Lifelong Living Institute (ASU) in the area of Moving Off-Planet and Living in Space. He graduated from the US Military Academy in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree and served 20 years in the Air Force with a variety of research and development positions in the space arena. Upon retirement in 1988, he joined Motorola on the Iridium satellite program.

He leads the team responsible for the development of the Iridium spacecraft bus. In 1998, he helped develop Teaching Science and Technology, Inc. a company that teaches space systems engineering. His classes emphasize engineering know-how and management techniques to successfully develop space systems of national importance. He is a Fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the British Interplanetary Society. Pete received his PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles in Mechanical Engineering with a speciality in space systems.

The Space Elevator is much closer than you think. We have come a long way since Brad Edwards ( and Tsiolkovsky)

  • we have a material in the lab now that will work — single-crystal graphene (+ 4 others) — needs ten years (?) of development

  • the space elevator will ENABLE space solar power — if not, we are left with the question: how does a rocket launch 5 million tonnes to GEO

  • Only 2% of launchpad mass reaches the destination

  • it leaves debris in orbit

  • it pollutes the atmosphere and ozone hole

  • and it takes 217 years (Starship 21 tonnes to GEO w/o refuelling or 238,095 launches at three a day)

  • mature space elevators will be able to do that in 29 years (doable and environmental friendly)

  • we have an organization working to further the body of knowledge of space elevators [international space elevator consortium)

  • and a website that is active (]

  • Over 800 references and citations, 6 or 7 podcasts

  • 12 year-long studies on various technical topics

  • two studies on operations within the space debris environment - 2010 & 2020

  • the current study entitled “Space Elevators are the Green Way to Space”


December the 7th

The day that

1972 – the last Apollo moon mission, Apollo 17, is launched and takes the photograph known as The Blue Marble as they leave the Earth

1995 – The Galileo spacecraft arrives at Jupiter, after six years from being launched by Space Shuttle Atlantis during Mission STS-34.

2015 – JAXA‘s Akatsuki successfully enters orbit around Venus five years after cocking up the first attempt and having to go the long way round..

Happy Birthday to Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, Persian astronomer born in 903.

Al-Sufi made his astronomical observations at a latitude of 32.7° in Isfahan so he identified the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is visible from Yemen, though not from Isfahan; Europeans did not see it until Magellan's voyage in the 16th century 500 odd year later. He also made the earliest recorded observation of the Andromeda Galaxy in 964 AD; describing it as a "small cloud". Basically, he was the first person to record observing another Galaxy!!!

He worked on Ptolomey work and had to cope with Procession, a hard concept that hard been noticed, being that the work was taking place 800 years after Ptolemy. He published his version of the Almagest, which had new estimates for brightness and positions and tried to tidy up the mess off calling constellations by their Arab and Greek names and all the overlaps etc.

Happy Brithday to Gerard Peter Kuiper, born Gerrit Pieter Kuiper; 7 (December 1905 – 23 December 1973) The Dutch astronomer, the father of modern planetary science, eponymous namesake of the Kuiper belt.

Kuiper discovered

  • Uranus's satellite Miranda and Neptune's satellite Nereid.

  • discovered carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mars,

  • The methane-laced atmosphere above Titan in 1944.

  • pioneered airborne infrared observing using a Convair 990 aircraft in the 1960s.

  • Helped find Apollo landing sites.

SAMPLE RETURN ARE LIKE BUSSES!!!! ...Your worried about getting a virus from them ….or you wait ages for one and then two come at once!!!

Chang’e 5 Almost back!!!! Pretty all over inbetween podcasts!!!!


The Chang'e 5 probe was launched back only 23 November 2020 at 20:30 UTC, by a Long March 5 rocket

On 28 November 2020 at 12:58 UTC, it fired its engine for 17 minutes and braked into orbit around the Moon at an altitude of 400 kilometres (249 mi)

On the morning of 30 November 2020, the lander with the ascending vehicle separated from the lunar orbiter in preparation for landing.

Landing site

The lander and ascending vehicle landed on the Moon on 1 December 2020 at 15:11 UTC near Mons Rümker in Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms), located in the northwest region of the Moon's near side.

This area contains geological units around 1.21 billion years old, compared to the Apollo samples that were between 3.1 and 4.4 billion years old.[

The location is a large, elevated volcanic mound 70 km (43 mi) in diameter that features a strong spectroscopic signature of basaltic lunar mare material.

the lander (1200kg) collected about 2 kg (4.4 lb) of samples from 2 m (6 ft 7 in) below the surface and placed them in an attached ascent vehicle (500 kg (1,100 lb).

On December 3, the Chang'e 5 ascender lifted off from Oceanus Procellarum at 15:10 UTC

six minutes later, achieved lunar orbit.

The ascender automatically rendezvous and docked with the orbiter-returner combination in lunar orbit on December 5 at 21:42 UTC, and the samples were transferred to the return capsule at 22:12 UTC.

Undocking of the ascender from the orbiter-returner combination took place on December 6 at 04:35 UTC.

Return to Earth

The orbiter will begin the roughly 4.5-day trip back to Earth and release the reentry capsule just before arrival. If all goes according to plan the re-entry capsule will perform a skip reentry to bounce off the atmosphere once before reentering. landing in Dorbod Banner, Inner Mongolia, around 16 December 2020. Samples would then be transferred to specially developed facilities for handling, analyzing, and storing the lunar material

The European Space Agency (ESA) supports the Chang'e 5 mission by providing tracking via ESA's Kourou station, located in French Guiana. ESA will track the spacecraft during the launch and landing phases while providing on-call backup for China's ground stations throughout the mission. During the landing phase, ESA will use its Maspalomas Station, located in the Canary Islands and operated by the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA) in Spain, to support the tracking efforts

And amazingly there was so much going on the incredible mission, Hayabusa 2 was almost forgotten. What with Starship as well!!!

Hayabusa2 (Japanese: for "Peregrine falcon 2") the asteroid sample-return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA. The sequel to the successful Hayabusa mission which returned asteroid samples in June 2010

Hayabusa2 was launched on 3 December 2014 and rendezvoused with near-Earth asteroid 162173 Ryugu on 27 June 2018.

It surveyed the asteroid for a year and a half and took samples. A kinetic penetrator was shot into the asteroid to expose pristine sample material that was later sampled for return to Earth, ejected 4 rovers, Rover-1A (HIBOU) and Rover-1B (OWL), Rover 2 (from the minerva) and the german MASCOT to the surface. Hayabusa2 carries multiple science payloads for remote sensing, sampling,

It left the asteroid in November 2019 using it’s ion engines and returned samples to Earth on 5 December 2020 with the stored the samples in separate sealed containers inside the sample-return capsule (SRC), which has a thermal insulation, 40 cm (16 in) external diameter, 20 cm (7.9 in) in height, and a mass of about 16 kg (35 lb).[36]

On 5 December 2020 at 05:30 UTC Hours before Hayabusa2 flew past the Earth it released its capsule, spinning at one revolution per three seconds. The capsule re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at 12 km/s (7.5 mi/s) and it deployed a radar-reflective parachute at an altitude of about 10 km (6 mi), and ejected its heat-shield while transmitting a position beacon signal.

The sample capsule landed at the Woomera Test Range in Australia

The total flight distance would be 5.24 billion km (3.26 billion mi).

Once on Earth, any volatile substance will be collected before the sealed containers are opened. The samples will be held at JAXA's Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center.

The Hayabusa Spacecraft has retained 30 kg (66 lb) of xenon propellant about half a tank so can extend its service and to fly by new targets to explore.

fly-by of (98943) 2001 CC21 in July 2026 and a rendezvous with 1998 KY26 in July 2031 most likely The observation of 2001 CC21 will be during a high-speed fly-by of an L-type asteroid, a relatively uncommon type of asteroid. The fixed camera of Hayabusa2 was not designed for this type of fly-by. The rendezvous with 1998 KY26 will be the first visit of a fast rotating micro-asteroid, with a rotation period of about 10 minutes.

Between 2021 and 2026, the spacecraft will also conduct observations of exoplanets.

An option to conduct a Venus flyby to set up an encounter with 2001 AV43 was also studied.


Elon Musk said that he was fairly confident that the first people will be landing on Mars in the next 6 years!!!! At an award ceremony and that he’d be going up to space int he next 3!!!

We’re still waiting for the 15km Hop of Starship.


Clothing Empire Billionaires Anders and Anne Holch Povlsen of Wildland Ltd are investing 1.5 million pounds in a proposed spaceport in the Shetland Islands and taking legal action to halt planning permission for Space Hub Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands.


And the Nominations ARE

Best Space Event

The Starship Hops

Crew Demo-2 and Crew-1

Chang’e 5 landing on the Moon

Osiris REx landing on an Asteroid

Comet Neowise

Best Space Legend

Victor Glover

Christina Koch - 328 days in space

Al Worden - Gone but not Forgotten

Andrea Ghez - Nobel for blackhole

Elon Musk

Best rocket

Falcon 9



Long March 5

Ariane 5

Best bit of Science

Phosphene in Venus' clouds

Finding an FRB in our own Galaxy, that is probably a Magnetar

Finally Obseserving the CNO cycle in the Sun.

Hayabusa Sample Retun

Virgo and Ligo spotting a Black hole in the Mass Gap.

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