The space flight thread

   #41  

vreihen

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If there is a god, it will fall on the North Korean presidential palace just as Kim Jong-un is sitting down to dinner.....

http://fortune.com/2017/10/23/tiangong-1-chinese-satellite-falling-crash/

A Satellite Chunk Could Fall on Your Head at Any Moment. Get Used to It.
China has lost control of Tiangong-1.

By Leon Vanstone
October 23, 2017

Tiangong-1 is China’s first space station. Launched in 2011, it was originally planned for a controlled crash on Earth in 2013, but its mission was extended to 2016 when eventually telemetry was cut. That year amateur astronomers began to speculate that the Chinese had lost control of the station. China eventually acknowledged this, announcing that the station would re-enter the atmosphere “in the latter half of 2017.”

If that sounds a little speculative to you, that’s because it is.

And therein lies the problem: The Chinese currently have no control of a 8.5-ton object moving at 20,000 miles per hour that is going to break up into pieces and crash into unknown spots on this planet.

This sort of thing has happened before. Infamously, radioactive fragments from Russian nuclear satellite Kosmos 954 crashed in northern Canada in 1978. A year later, large pieces from America’s first space station, Skylab, peppered the Australian Outback with shrapnel, with a few larger pieces leaving scorched craters.

The same thing is likely to happen with Tiangong-1, Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astrophysicist, told The Guardian: “Yes there’s a chance it will do damage, it might take out someone’s car, there will be a rain of a few pieces of metal, it might go through someone’s roof, like if a flap fell off a plane, but it is not widespread damage.”

Of course, it’s impossible to really know how dangerous Tiangong-1 could be. At the time of Skylab’s crash, NASA calculated a one in 152 chance that some part of the station would hit a person. How do you fancy those odds?

One thing is certain: Danger of death by satellite will increase as more are launched. As more nations put larger structures into orbit, the danger they pose when they crash will increase. We need to get used to the idea of things raining down on us from space.

On its face, this might seem callous. But our everyday lives are fraught with technological dangers, and we readily accept them as a necessary price for the conveniences of modern living. People die as a result of planes, trains, and cars every day. Do you worry about killing someone when you get into your car? It’s a very real possibility. The odds of being injured in a car crash are about one in 135, and about 40,000 Americans die from car crashes every year. Do you always try to reduce this danger? Do you always drive the speed limit, or do you sometimes go a bit over?

The technological, economic, and political importance of space stations and space travel is becoming increasingly apparent. We already enjoy the benefits of GPS and worldwide communication. Will we ever be able to accept that satellites may cause unnecessary deaths? We need to find an answer to this question before large satellites become regular inhabitants of the Earth’s orbit.

Leon Vanstone is a researcher at the University of Texas and science communicator in Austin.
 
   #43  

Uwe

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If there is a god, it will fall on the North Korean presidential palace just as Kim Jong-un is sitting down to dinner.....
Hmm.. Tiangong-1 has an orbital inclination of 42.8 degrees. Pyongyang is at 39 degrees north latitude. So I guess that is at least theoretically possible. :cool:
 
   #45  

Mike R

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This mystery object may be our first visitor from another solar system

Is a comet? An asteroid? NASA's not sure. The space agency doesn't even know where it came from, but it's not behaving like the local space rocks and that means it may not be from our solar system.

If that's confirmed, NASA says "it would be the first interstellar object to be observed and confirmed by astronomers."

"We have been waiting for this day for decades," Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said in a NASA news release. "It's long been theorized that such objects exist -- asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system -- but this is the first such detection. So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it."

"Its motion could not be explained using either a normal solar system asteroid or comet orbit," he said. "This object came from outside our solar system."
1. Incredibly misleading title
2. This is terrible logic, and comparable to the god of the gaps.
 
   #48  

Uwe

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No Apple before the holidays if you didn't order at 3:01 AM EDT this morning..... :D
Uhm, I said "apple", not "Apple".

I guess you didn't catch the reference. Counterfeit News Network made complete fools of themselves with their "This is an apple" video a few days ago. First of all, it seems they used a fake (rendered) apple instead of a physically real one, and second, they inspired a flood of parodies.
 
   #49  

vreihen

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Orbital ATK is counting down for a Minotaur-C launch from Vandenberg in a few minutes.....

 
   #50  

Uwe

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Orbital ATK is counting down for a Minotaur-C launch from Vandenberg in a few minutes.....
I didn't catch it until after the fact.

The Minotaur-C is a strange contraption! 4 stages, all solid fuel, meaning they can't be throttled, and once you light one, it burns until it's out of fuel. I wonder how the heck such a system achieves the precision needed for successful orbital insertion?
 
   #51  

vreihen

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The Minotaur-C is a strange contraption! 4 stages, all solid fuel, meaning they can't be throttled, and once you light one, it burns until it's out of fuel. I wonder how the heck such a system achieves the precision needed for successful orbital insertion?
If I recall correctly, it was intended for air launch of small LEO packages from a carrier plane. They have to add a stage (Stage Zero) to the flight stack to launch it from a pad on the ground.

Did you catch the drama from CapCom when they experienced the unexpected loss of telemetry late in the ascent? It sounded like they were working it as a loss-of-vehicle (because SpaceX has trademarked rapid disassembly event) :) until the signal returned.....
 
   #52  

Uwe

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If I recall correctly, it was intended for air launch of small LEO packages from a carrier plane. They have to add a stage (Stage Zero) to the flight stack to launch it from a pad on the ground.
Right, but that sheds no light at all on how the achieve the precision needed for orbital insertion. Launching from a plane, they have control over speed and altitude of "stage 0", but with 4 solid-fuel stages...

Did you catch the drama from CapCom when they experienced the unexpected loss of telemetry late in the ascent? It sounded like they were working it as a loss-of-vehicle (because SpaceX has trademarked rapid disassembly event) :) until the signal returned.....
Yes! My initial reaction was: "Well, I guess they had another fail.."

Minotaur-C: $50 million launch cost, 1,320 kg to LEO.

Falcon-9: $62 million launch cost, 22,800 kg to LEO (although that seems to be in fully expendable mode and I can't find payload numbers when the first stage is recovered).

It seems to me that the latter is a far better value than the former, and the only reason to use the former us to keep the old-line defense contractors in business. :rolleyes:
 
   #54  

vreihen

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They can launch 21,480 kg more? That's a whole lotta CubeSat (the 21st century's GAS Can) space.....
Finally, an idea for a Kickstarter campaign that I would actually invest in..... :p

http://www.newsweek.com/astrocat-felicette-only-cat-go-space-may-soon-be-honored-5-foot-bronze-statue-706613

ASTROCAT FÉLICETTE: ONLY CAT TO GO TO SPACE MAY SOON BE HONORED WITH 5-FOOT BRONZE STATUE IN FRANCE

BY KRISTIN HUGO
11/9/17 AT 10:33 AM

Unlike her canine and simian counterparts, the world’s only feline astronaut does not have any lasting commemoration or grave site.

A Kickstarter campaign seeks to change that by planning a 5-foot-tall bronze statue, hopefully to be erected in the cat’s hometown of Paris.

If successfully funded, a British creative director named Matthew Serge Guy plans to use the crowdfunded money to commission a sculptor to design and build a memorial to a black and white cat who launched into space in 1963. Guy mentions the unfortunate lack of memorials for the former stray, named Félicette, and how that needs to change.



Félicette, the first and only cat who went to space, was weightless for 5 minutes.

VIA MATTHEW SERGE GUY'S KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

While the first dog in space, Laika, has a statue, and the first chimp, Ham, has a memorial, Félicette has close to nothing. There are some commemorative stamps honoring a mythical space cat “Felix.” But Felix's portrait doesn’t look like Félicette and it has a male name, so this is not enough for Guy. If anything, he says, the stamps simply help erase the existence of female astronauts.

The French space program gathered 14 cats, implanted electrodes into their brains, and put them through training similar to the way that they train human astronauts. They ultimately chose Félicette to make the trip, either because of her docile personality, or because she had not put on too much weight, according to differing accounts.



Felix, a long-haired cat with different markings than Félicette, gets the credit for going to space on these commemorative stamps.

She was launched into space from Algeria, and made it nearly 100 miles above Earth. For five minutes, she was weightless.

Félicette came back to Earth unharmed, parachuting down and being retrieved only 13 minutes after having left her home planet. She stayed at the program’s lab for two to three months, according to Guy, but scientists later killed her to study the effects of space travel on her body.

Kickstarter is not a platform for charities, but for creative projects with specific products that need a minimum amount of funding in order to get off the ground. “AstroCat” needs at least £40,000 (or USD$52,501) to pay for the creation of the statue and the fulfillment of the backer rewards. In addition to contributing to the creation of the cat statue, backers who contribute enough will also get space swag, from photocopies of a commemorative Félicette postcard, to their name on a plaque on the statue.

The way all-or-nothing funding works on Kickstarter means that the project will only receive the contributed funds if the minimum goal is met. If not enough funds are contributed, then the backers will never have their credit cards charged, they will not receive the rewards, and the project will not receive funding.

As of this writing, there is one week left in the campaign and it is less than halfway to the minimum, at £18,562 (or USD$24,608.) You can contribute only before November 17, 2017 here.
 
   #55  

Uwe

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scientists later killed her to study the effects of space travel on her body.
Heartless bastards. :mad:
 
   #59  

vreihen

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Comparing Roscosmos to Lada? Priceless.....

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/russia-loses-contact-satellite-launch-spaceport-100243382.html

Russia loses contact with satellite after launch from new spaceport

Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV
AFP
November 28, 2017

Vostochny (Russia) (AFP) - Russia said it had lost contact Tuesday with a weather satellite just hours after it was launched from its Vostochny cosmodrome, in only the second rocket liftoff from the new spaceport.

The glitch was a fresh embarrassment for the Kremlin and emblematic of problems plaguing Russia's beleaguered space programme which has suffered a series of setbacks over recent years, experts said.

Apart from the Meteor weather satellite, the rocket carried 18 payloads from institutions and companies in Canada, the United States, Japan, Germany, Sweden and Norway.

"During the first scheduled communication session with the space vehicle, contact has not been established because it is not on its planned orbit," the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

Roscosmos representatives declined to provide further comment, saying only that specialists were looking to determine the cause of the problem.

But an industry source, speaking to Interfax news agency, chalked up the glitch to a human error, saying that the rocket booster and the satellite had likely tumbled into the Atlantic Ocean.

"According to preliminary data, there was a mistake in the flight task of the carrier rocket and the Frigate booster," the source was quoted as saying.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not have immediate information about the cause of the accident.

Marking another milestone after the inaugural liftoff last year, the Soyuz rocket carrying the weather satellite and other payloads took off at 2:41 pm (0541 GMT) from far eastern Russia.

Roscosmos said after the liftoff that "all the initial stages of the rocket's flight went according to plan".

National television broadcast live footage of the launch, showing the rocket taking off into a grey sky in the Amur region near the Chinese border.

- 'Flight to Jupiter' -

The first launch from Vostochny spaceport took place in April 2016, with Putin overseeing the takeoff.

It represented a major development for the country's space sector, with the new cosmodrome touted to mark a rebirth of an industry plagued by a string of embarrassments.

The first satellite launch had been scheduled for late 2015, but setbacks forced authorities to review the timetable.

The Kremlin's goal is to ease Russia's dependence on Baikonur in Kazakhstan, a launchpad Moscow has been forced to rent since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia is also home to the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the north, which is used for satellite launches and missile testing.

But Vostochny, like Baikonur, is closer to the equator, making launches cheaper and more energy-efficient.

The new cosmodrome currently has one launchpad for the Soyuz, the only rocket being used for manned space flights.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who was in Vostochny for the liftoff, chaired a meeting Tuesday addressing the next construction phase to build a reinforced launchpad for the new Angara rocket.

"This is work in the interests of (reaching) Mars," Rogozin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. "This is a flight to Jupiter and so on."

The launch of the Angara, which is being tested to replace the ageing Proton workhorse rockets, is scheduled for 2021.

Moscow hopes that the Angara will also play a role in helping create the infrastructure of a spaceport in lunar orbit as Russia and the United States agreed in September to cooperate on a NASA-led project to push further into the solar system.

The third launch from Vostochny is scheduled for December 22.

- 'As good as Ladas' -

Construction on the new spaceport began in 2012 but has been marred by labour disputes, corruption scandals and delays.

Independent space expert Vadim Lukashevich said Russia's once mighty space industry has been beset by numerous problems including lax quality control at production facilities and a bungled reform of the national space agency.

"This is stagnation. There are no breakthroughs," he told AFP, pointing out that Roscosmos was currently headed by Igor Komarov, who formerly headed AvtoVAZ, the maker of clunky Lada cars.

"Our rockets right now are as good as the Ladas."

In October, Russia successfully launched from Plesetsk a European satellite dedicated to monitoring the Earth's atmosphere, the protective layer that shields the planet from the sun's radiation.
 
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vreihen

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I actually saw sister probe Voyager 2 launched from Florida back in 1977, when we were down there on vacation.....

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/12/after-37-years-voyager-has-fired-up-its-trajectory-thrusters/

After 37 years, Voyager 1 has fired up its trajectory thrusters

This week, the scientists and engineers on the Voyager team did something very special.

ERIC BERGER
DEC 1, 2017 8:45 PM UTC

At present, the Voyager 1 spacecraft is 21 billion kilometers from Earth, or about 141 times the distance between the Earth and Sun. It has, in fact, moved beyond our Solar System into interstellar space. However, we can still communicate with Voyager across that distance.

This week, the scientists and engineers on the Voyager team did something very special. They commanded the spacecraft to fire a set of four trajectory thrusters for the first time in 37 years to determine their ability to orient the spacecraft using 10-millisecond pulses.

After sending the commands on Tuesday, it took 19 hours and 35 minutes for the signal to reach Voyager. Then, the Earth-bound spacecraft team had to wait another 19 hours and 35 minutes to see if the spacecraft responded. It did. After nearly four decades of dormancy, the Aerojet Rocketdyne manufactured thrusters fired perfectly.

"The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test. The mood was one of relief, joy, and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all," said Todd Barber, a propulsion engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

In recent decades, Voyager had been relying on its primary thrusters to keep the spacecraft properly oriented so that it can maintain a communications link with Earth. But these attitude control thrusters have been degrading over time, requiring more and more energy each time they've been used.

By switching to the spacecraft's "trajectory correction maneuver" thrusters, last used during the spacecraft's encounter with Saturn in 1980, engineers say they will be able to extend the lifetime of Voyager by two or three more years before its waning power reserves expire.
 
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