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Featured B "Space and Stuff"

  1. Aug 29, 2016 #41
    Regarding post #17, worth reading.

    From, http://spaceflight101.com/mozi-quantum-science-satellite-initiates-test-program/

    China’s Quantum Science Satellite Mozi (Micius), recently launched atop a Long
    March 2D rocket, has begun the first tests of quantum communications between itself
    and stations on the ground - the first test of this kind performed in a space mission.

    Mozi lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on August 15 as the first
    satellite capable of engaging in quantum communications by creating entangled
    photon pairs over great distances to test the feasibility of this type of communication
    technology for operational application.

    The 640-Kilogram satellite is set for a test mission of at least two years and is likely to
    be followed by a global constellation of operational satellites once the principles behind
    satellite-based quantum communications are proven.

  2. Aug 31, 2016 #42
    Another EVA on September 1st, this time it involves retracting a thermal radiator panel as well as installing the first HD service cam on the exterior of the ISS, http://spaceflight101.com/iss-us-eva-37-preview/
    More info on the HD system can be found here,

    SpaceX will launch the AMOS-6 on September 3rd, good luck with the landing. :smile:

    The first previously flown F9 core will be recycled for a launch later this year.
    From, http://spaceflight101.com/ses-10-to-use-flown-falcon-9-booster/
    Telecommunications giant SES decided t
    launch the company’s SES-10 satellite on
    a previously flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
    in the fourth quarter of 2016.

    SES is the first large telecommunications
    provider to commit to flying on a ‘used’ or
    rather ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 rocket that
    flew to the edge of space and back in an
    operational mission before.

    While we are on the subject of Falcon 9's I see there are a total of 10 more launches planned for this year and the December test flight of the heavy has been bumped to early 2017.

    A little farther from home Chandra is coming up with some interesting "stuff"
    From, http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/record-breaking-galaxy-cluster-discovered.html

    A new record for the most distant galaxy cluster has been set using NASA’s Chandra X-ray
    Observatory and other telescopes. This galaxy cluster may have been caught right after birth,
    a brief, but important stage of evolution never seen before.

    The galaxy cluster is called CL J1001+0220 (CL J1001 for short) and is located about 11.1 billion
    light years from Earth. The discovery of this object pushes back the formation time of galaxy
    clusters - the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity - by about 700 million

    "This galaxy cluster isn’t just remarkable for its distance, it’s also going through an amazing growth
    spurt unlike any we’ve ever seen," said Tao Wang of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic
    Energy Commission (CEA) who led the study.

    The core of CL J1001 contains eleven massive galaxies - nine of which are experiencing an
    impressive baby boom of stars. Specifically, stars are forming in the cluster’s core at a rate that is
    equivalent to over 3,000 Suns forming per year, a remarkably high value for a galaxy cluster,
    including those that are almost as distant, and therefore as young, as CL J1001.
  3. Sep 1, 2016 #43
    A very bad day for rocket launches...
    A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its payload - a $195 million
    Israeli communications satellite - were destroyed in an on-pad
    explosion on Thursday during what was expected to be a routine
    ground test of the rocket ahead of a Saturday morning launch.

    The incident occurred at 9:07 a.m. local time (13:07 UTC) when
    Falcon 9 was in the final minutes of its countdown to the
    Static Fire Test - a complete countdown rehearsal and brief ignition
    of the nine Merlin 1D engines on the booster’s base to collect
    performance data.

    A Chinese launch carried out from the Taiyuan Satellite
    Launch Center Wednesday night likely ended in failure -
    the first in 2016.

    Liftoff of a Long March 4C rocket carrying an Earth
    Observation Satellite was expected between 18:50 and
    19:00 UTC, but the usual announcement of launch success -
    expected around 40 minutes after blastoff - never arrived.

    And now for some "sunny" news.

    Above the top of the solar corona, the young, slow solar wind transitions from low-β,
    magnetically structured flow dominated by radial structures to high-β, less structured flow
    dominated by hydrodynamics. This transition, long inferred via theory, is readily apparent in the
    sky region close to 10° from the Sun in processed, background-subtracted solar wind images. We
    present image sequences collected by the inner Heliospheric Imager instrument on board the
    Solar-Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO/HI1) in 2008 December, covering apparent
    distances from approximately 4° to 24° from the center of the Sun and spanning this transition in
    the large-scale morphology of the wind. We describe the observation and novel techniques to
    extract evolving image structure from the images, and we use those data and techniques to
    present and quantify the clear textural shift in the apparent structure of the corona and solar
    wind in this altitude range. We demonstrate that the change in apparent texture is due both to
    anomalous fading of the radial striae that characterize the corona and to anomalous relative
    brightening of locally dense puffs of solar wind that we term "flocculae." We show that these
    phenomena are inconsistent with smooth radial flow, but consistent with the onset of
    hydrodynamic or magnetohydrodynamic instabilities leading to a turbulent cascade in the
    young solar wind.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  4. Sep 1, 2016 #44
  5. Sep 1, 2016 #45

    Filip Larsen

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    To me it seems there is a high speed object moving from right to left in the video around 1:10 intersecting the rocket just as second stage (?) breaks up. It can of course be a bird or similar passing the camera much closer (giving the illusion of high speed). From the sound delay the camera seems to be around 12 sec away (4 km) so even a tiny insect could make this effect, but the timing fit the explosion suspiciously well. Also, around 5 sec before the explosion a loud bang can be heard which, like the visual of that object, may of course be completely unrelated to the break-up.

    Later: learning to operate my spacebar a little faster I now see it as a bug flying by just at the right time, so to speak. It also passes visually over the rocket and not intersecting, as can be seen on the snapshot below. I still wonder though why the explosion occurs so high up and not near first stage which was supposed to undergo a live ignition test?

    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  6. Sep 1, 2016 #46


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    Most rich men are satisfied making loud noises and stinking smoke with guns or fast cars. But I am so glad some aim for the stars.
  7. Sep 1, 2016 #47
    :thumbup: 'nuff said. :wink:
  8. Sep 1, 2016 #48
    Stark contrast in the manner of reporting launch failures between two countries, :wideeyed:

    The loss of the Long March 4C is China’s first "orbital launch" failure of 2016. However,
    Chinese State media have yet to provide any acknowledgment of the loss.

    China rarely provides live coverage of launches and only confirms missions once the satellite
    has been successfully inserted into its transfer orbit. For this mission, no news has been
    provided for over half a day.

    Online photos showing debris from the rocket are not uncommon and it
    appears the debris is in a nominal location for expended stages.

    However, the text associated with the photos claim there is a search for
    debris associated with the payload.

    Coupled with the lack of any State media news on the launch, it would
    appear this mission has failed and the Chinese have so far opted not to
    report the failure.
  9. Sep 2, 2016 #49
    Mars-insight-mission gets the green light for 2018 launch.
    NASA is moving forward with a spring 2018 launch of its InSight mission to study the deep
    interior of Mars, following final approval this week by the agency’s Science Mission

    The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport
    (InSight) mission was originally scheduled to launch in March of this year, but NASA
    suspended launch preparations in December due to a vacuum leak in its prime science
    instrument, the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS).

    The new launch period for the mission begins May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing scheduled
    for Nov. 26, 2018. The next launch opportunity is driven by orbital dynamics, so 2018 is
    the soonest the lander can be on its way.

    Also, the commercial launch business s getting more competitive.
    Ukrainian rocket designer Yuzhnoye is actively looking for a
    North American launch site for its Cyclone-4 (Tsiklon-4) medium-lift
    launch vehicle suitable for a variety of Low Earth Orbit applications.

    launch vehicle suitable for a variety of Low Earth Orbit applications.
    has been authorized by the State Space Agency of Ukraine to establish a
    Cyclone-4 launch base in North America. According to the company, the
    search for business investment partners is well underway and on-site
    assessments of possible launch complex locations were completed in the
    U.S. and Canada.

    Yuzhnoye says Cyclone 4 will be available for $45 million per launch
    and can lift up to 3,700 Kilograms into Sun Synchronous Orbit,
    making it suitable for the heaviest Earth observation and weather satellites.
  10. Sep 3, 2016 #50
  11. Sep 3, 2016 #51
    Interesting article, reading it certainly got my "curiosity" going. While the aspects mentioned are great examples of the rovers uniqueness I was left with the impression that I need to do more studying before I can comment on other factors that make it "one of a kind", While I'm getting back with an answer I would imagine other readers on the forum with far more technical knowledge than myself will come up with points that will be useful also. One thought is the landing system mentioned is the only current method that can safely land a high mass vehicle on mars, (SpaceX's propulsive system on the Red Dragon is the only alternative I have seen and NASA seems very impressed with it so far.) The sky crane is the method that will be used on the 2020 rover as well. Back in a bit after I do some studying up. :cool:
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
  12. Sep 3, 2016 #52
    The 2020 rover will also be using a more or less identical body frame as Curiosity, this makes good leverage of a tested vehicle design.
    Maybe one or two subsystems might be upgraded a little based on the performance of Curiosity.
    AFAIK the only problem of significance has been more than expected wear and tear on the wheels, but not enough to be critical.
    That approach reduces the development cost so more can be invested in the instrument payload which will be the main difference.
  13. Sep 8, 2016 #53
    From, http://www.space.com/33993-bus-sized-asteroid-buzzes-earth.html
    An asteroid the size of a school bus buzzed by Earth today (Sept. 7) in an exceptionally close - but safe - flyby. Scientists discovered the object on
    Monday, just two days before its encounter with Earth.

    The newfound asteroid, named 2016 RB1, is between 13 and 46 feet (4 to 14
    meters) wide. The space rock made its closest approach to Earth at 1:28 p.m.
    EDT (1728 UTC). According to NASA's Near Earth Object Program, RB1
    zoomed past Earth at a relative speed of over 18,000 mph (8.13 km/s) and
    passed within 23,900 miles (38,463 kilometers) of the Earth's surface. This is
    only one-tenth the average distance between Earth and the moon.

    Planetary protection ?
  14. Sep 9, 2016 #54
    O-Rex is finally on the way.


    The OSIRIS-REx mission marks a bright spot in what will soon be a dark time for NASA’s solar
    system exploration program. By the time the spacecraft arrives at Bennu in 2018, there will be
    no spacecraft visiting or en route to any of the outer planets-Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and
    Neptune-for the first time since 1979.

    The Cassini probe, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, will plunge into the planet’s
    atmosphere in 2017. Juno will follow suit at Jupiter in early 2018.

    Bennu’s orbital path will keep OSIRIS-REx closer to home. It only takes 1.2 years for the
    coal-black, near-Earth asteroid to travel around the sun.

    After arriving in 2018, OSIRIS-REx will survey Bennu for two years before collecting a small soil
    sample. The spacecraft will depart as early as March 2021 and return its sample capsule to
    Earth in September 2025

    OSIRIS-REx is the third of NASA’s cost-capped, mid-budget New Frontiers missions. The first,
    New Horizons, flew past Pluto last year. The second, Juno, entered orbit at Jupiter on July 5.

    The mission has a budget of almost $800 million, not including the $184 million sticker price of
    its Atlas V carrier rocket. But at the moment, OSIRIS-REx is under budget by at least $30
    million, according to Lauretta.
  15. Sep 9, 2016 #55


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    Despite the support of NASA, the FAA and the US Air Force, no answers are thus far forthcoming as to the cause of the massive explosion. The problem is no apparent heat source. It does seem to be a bit of an "anomaly", or "bug". Poor Elon Musk, the stars seem to have turned against him. :bugeye:

    An investigation into how a SpaceX rocket exploded is uncovering a "difficult and complex failure", the firm's founder Elon Musk has said. Mr Musk tweeted that the explosion of Falcon 9 during a routine filling operation was the most complicated in the space travel firm's history. He said that the engines weren't on and there was "no apparent heat source".
  16. Sep 9, 2016 #56
    Meanwhile the "commercial space race" forges ahead.
    A Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane took to the air under the wing of
    its massive mothership Thursday (Sept. 8), marking the first flight test for the
    private space travel company since a tragic accident in 2014.

    Virgin Galactic's second SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, the Virgin Spaceship
    Unity, soared over Mojave, California, in a captive carry test flight with its
    WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, the Virgin Mother Ship Eve. Although the
    Unity spacecraft remained attached to its carrier plane for the entire flight, the
    test did mark Virgin Galactic's first return to airborne trials of SpaceShipTwo
    since the company's first spacecraft - the VSS Enterprise - broke apart
    during a rocket-powered test on Oct. 31, 2014.

    Thursday's test flight took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port, with the VMS
    Eve carrying the VSS Unity to an altitude of about 50,000 feet (15,000 meters).
    That's the target altitude for the separation between a carrier plane and
    SpaceShipTwo during an actual launch. From takeoff to landing, the test flight
    lasted 3 hours and 43 minutes.

    TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Blue Origin plans to conduct the next flight of its New
    Shepard suborbital vehicle in October, a launch that the company's founder
    says will test the vehicle's abort system.

    In an email update Sept. 8, company founder Jeff Bezos said the upcoming
    New Shepard flight, planned for the first half of October from the company's
    West Texas test site, will be an in-flight abort test, where the crew capsule
    will fire its abort motor to fly away from the propulsion module during the

    The motor, mounted at the base of capsule, will fire for two seconds to push it
    away from the booster module. The capsule will then make a parachute
    landing as it does on normal flights, when it separates from the booster
    module after engine shutdown.

    The test, Bezos acknowledged, will likely destroy the booster module, which
    has flown four previous New Shepard launches dating back to November 2015.
    "The booster was never designed to survive an in-flight escape," he wrote.
    "The capsule escape motor will slam the booster with 70,000 pounds of off-axis
    force delivered by searing hot exhaust. The aerodynamic shape of the vehicle
    quickly changes from leading with the capsule to leading with the ring fin,
    and this all happens at maximum dynamic pressure."

    In addition to New Shepard, Blue Origin has been working on an orbital
    launch vehicle system, few details of which the company has released. Bezos
    said Sept. 8 that a future update would provide more information about that

    Also this on New Frontiers,
    From, http://www.planetary.org/blogs/gues...selecting-the-next-new-frontiers-mission.html
    NASA’s planetary missions fall into three categories of ambition and cost. At the high end at
    around $2-2.5 billion are the Flagship missions that use highly capable spacecraft for exploration
    that addresses a wide range of questions at the target world. These missions include the
    Curiosity Mars rover, its 2020 Mars rover sibling in development, and the planned Europa
    multi-flyby mission.

    At the low end, at around $600 million, are the Discovery missions that conduct highly focused
    missions. Teams are free to propose missions to study any solar system body except the Sun
    and Earth (which are studied through other programs at NASA). Ten of these planetary missions
    have flown successfully and have included the MESSENGER spacecraft that orbited Mercury
    and the Dawn spacecraft that currently orbits the asteroid Ceres. Next up will be the 2018
    InSight geophysical station for Mars to be followed by one or two missions to study either
    asteroids and/or Venus that will be selected by the end of the year.

    And of interest to robotics as well as the Satellite industry.
  17. Sep 9, 2016 #57


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    Thanks, 1oldman2, that's a nifty set of links to some of the commercial space programs, NASA high cost Flagship missions and low cost Discovery missions. You also touched upon the NASA Sun and Earth missions which, in my estimation, are equally vital and interesting as the others. Here is a link to the NASA Sun and Earth missions: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/missions/index.html#op
    I will try to keep closer track of some these. :biggrin:
  18. Sep 9, 2016 #58
    This is very likely the type of program where tomorrows tech (even asteroid mining) will be developed.
    In the 2017 Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge,
    NASA is engaging university-level students in its quest to reduce the cost of
    deep space exploration.

    NASA’s Game Changing Development Program (GCD), managed by the agency’s
    Space Technology Mission Directorate, and the National Institute of Aerospace
    (NIA) are seeking novel and robust concepts for in-space assembly of spacecraft -
    particularly tugs, propelled by solar electric propulsion (SEP), that transfer
    payloads from low earth orbit (LEO) to a lunar distant retrograde orbit (LDRO).

    "GCD initiated the BIG Idea Challenge in 2016 as a unique approach to finding top
    talent for NASA, and it proved to be more successful than we had hoped," said
    Mary E. Wusk, acting GCD program manager at NASA's Langley Research Center
    in Hampton, Virginia.

    Meanwhile speaking of "Curiousity" these are some of the most interesting geological images I have seen yet.
    First a detailed view of Curiosity's heat shield.
    Curiousity heat shield.jpg

    then from Murray buttes.
  19. Sep 10, 2016 #59
    On the subject of post #50, I came across this while looking into the radioisotope power supply, pretty interesting stuff.

    The United States has begun manufacturing nuclear spacecraft fuel for the first time in a generation,
    but full production of the stuff is still seven years or so away.

    In December, officials at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory in
    Tennessee announced that researchers at the site had generated a 1.8-ounce (50 grams) sample
    of plutonium-238, the fuel that powers deep-space missions such as NASA’s New Horizons Pluto
    probe and Cassini Saturn orbiter.

    The milestone marked the first domestic production of Pu-238 since the Savannah River Site in
    South Carolina, another DOE facility, stopped making the fuel in the late 1980s. But Oak Ridge
    is still at the proof-of-concept stage in the restart, and it will therefore be a few years
    before the lab begins churning out large amounts of Pu-238, officials said.

    For more than 50 years, RTGs have been the power source of choice for missions that travel far
    enough from the sun to make solar panels impractical. Some famous examples include NASA’s twin
    Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, which launched in 1977 and have recently been exploring the
    solar system’s extreme outer reaches. (Voyager 1 actually reached interstellar space in 2012.)

    From the early 1960s through the late 1980s, the Pu-238 needed for such missions was made at the
    Savannah River Site, as an offshoot of the facility’s weapons-production program. (Plutonium-238
    is not used to make nuclear weapons, but its close cousin, plutonium-239 - which harbors one more
    neutron in its nucleus than does Pu-238 - is a common bomb-making material.)

    The country currently has just 77 lbs. (35 kg) of the spacecraft fuel left, and only about half of
    that stockpile is suitable for power production as-is (though the rest could conceivably be made
    usable by blending it with newly produced Pu-238, DOE officials have said.)

    RTGs like the one powering NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity use 10.6 lbs. (4.8 kg) of Pu-238, so right now
    there’s enough of the stuff to power perhaps three more such deep-space missions, DOE officials have

    The activities underway at Oak Ridge are therefore designed to avert a possible shortage and keep
    NASA spacecraft cruising through deep space for decades to come. NASA officials have said 3.3 lbs.
    (1.5 kg) of new Pu-238 per year should suffice to accommodate the agency’s needs.

    As you might expect, the production of Pu-238 is complicated. First, the Oak Ridge team receives
    shipments of radioactive neptunium-237 from Idaho National Laboratory (INL), another DOE facility.

    Engineers then process the neptunium into "targets," which are blasted with beams of neutrons in one
    of two nuclear reactors at Oak Ridge, Wham said. This creates Pu-238, which is then chemically
    processed and shipped to a third DOE site, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

    Los Alamos personnel further process the stuff, creating encapsulated "pellets" that are then shipped
    to INL for integration into RTGs. The power systems are tested at the Idaho site, and, if all goes well,
    they are then shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to be prepared for launch.

    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016
  20. Sep 10, 2016 #60
    Building on the Curiosity question, I thought this was relevant. :smile:

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