Amazing news in the wide open frontier of space exploration

Falcon 9 booster a fraction of second before successful recovery. Now *that* is rocket science. A few minutes earlier it was 120+ miles up in the air moving away from the recovery site.  “Orbital Test Vehicle 5 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

Lots of fun articles in the last two months describing the wide open frontier of space exploration.

  • Ghana puts their first sat into orbit. Yes, Ghana. Very cool.
  • In the GPS world, Japan gets another sat in orbit and an Indian launch fails.
  • SpaceX may have more launches this year than Russia and one commentator thinks SpaceX will be dominant in the launch market for decades to come

7/8/17 – Behind the Black – Ghana launches its first satellite and 223 Live News, Ghana’s first Space Satellite enters Orbit – A cubsate built by university students in the western Africa country was launched from the ISS. The small satellite will take pictures of the country in low- and high-resolution. It will also be able to broadcast the national anthem and other music during national events.

Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to get a satellite in space.

The sat went to the ISS on June 10 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.

How cool!

7/24- Popular Mechanics – Why the First True Spaceliner Will Change Everything – The beautiful DC-3 reduced the time for coast-to-coast travel.

Before the DC-3, it took 25 hours and 15 stops for fuel and repairs to cross the country. With the DC-3, there were only 3 stops for fuel.

Article suggests that space planes, which would get into space and allow travel to anywhere in the world in 2 hours would be the new version of a DC-3.

8/18/17 – Behind the Black – SpaceX postpones Mars Dragon missions – I don’t understand the deeper story and don’t have time to dive in. Article says inferences from other reporting is that SpaceX is putting on hold their plans to for a Dragon mission to Mars. Inference from author is NASA one provide any funding for “propulsive landing” on the Dragon manned capsule thus SpaceX want to have enough money to fund full development on its own. That makes what would be called the Red Dragon unviable and SpaceX will have to postpone that phase the project. In turn that will require postponing missions to Mars, if I understand the implications.

8/19/17 – Behind the Black – Japan launches GPS satellite  and AFP News at Yahoo news- Japan launches satellite for better GPS system – Japan used an H-IIA rocket to put its third geolocation satellite in orbit. There will be four in the system. These satellites will provide enhanced coverage in Japan and the region. The geography of Japan, apparently the volume of hills and valleys, means there are many places that don’t get sufficient signal from the American GPS system.

BtB says this is the third Japanese launch this year.

8/31/17 – – PSLV launch of navigation satellite fails – Sad news.

Article says this is the first failure of an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in 20 years.

The payload fairing, which protects the payload during launch, did not separate. That is the likely cause the rocket did not achieve a proper transfer orbit. Instead of a 284 km by 20,650km orbit, the vehicle only achieved a 167 km by 6,555 km orbit.

There were 6 successful PSLV launches in 2016 and 2 so far in 2017.

Liftoff. “Orbital Test Vehicle 5 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

8/24/17 – Big Future – SpaceX could have more launches than Russia in 2017 – with the successful launch last week of FORMOSAT-5, here is the tally of space launches so far in 2017:

  • 11 – SpaceX
  • 11 – Russia
  • 8 – China
  • 6 – European companies
  • 5 – United Launch Alliance

Article has a cool line drawing of a Block one, Block two, and Block three Falcon 9 rocket. Drawings include a CRS Dragon, a 17 foot fairing, and with & without landing legs.

8/31/17 – Next Big Future – SpaceX will have decades of commercial launch dominance – Author predicts SpaceX will continue its dominance in the commercial market, increase its role, and maintain dominance for decades.

Consider this forecast:

  • 2017 – 20 launches
  • 2018 – 40-50 launches, or about 1 a week
  • 2019-2020 – 100 up to 800 launches a year – no refurbishment and 24 hour turnaround

Block 5 of the Falcon 9 is expected to be reusable a dozen times. Full reusability will allow a 24 hour turnaround.

The future is so bright we all need to get more powerful sunglasses.

9/9/17 – Behind the Black – ULA delays California launch because of Florida hurricane – This is deep inside-baseball stuff, but still interesting.  ULA postponed a launch in California so that their staff in Florida can attend to keeping their families safe, what with hurricane Irma bearing down on the state.

That is obviously a very wise decision.

What it reveals though, (as pointed out in the BtB article) is that ULA only has one complete launch team. This is in contrast to SpaceX which has two full sets and could actually handle two near simultaneous launches. That is in spite of ULA have higher staffing levels.

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