The space flight thread

   #121  

Uwe

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So it should "flare" within the next few orbits. These are the current tracks, with darkness corresponding to probability. North America and most of Europe look pretty safe...

 
   #122  

Uwe

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Tiangong-1 space module re-entered the earth’s atmosphere at 8:15 a.m. (0015GMT) on Monday over the South Pacific and mostly burnt up on re-entry, state news agency Xinhua said.
 
   #123  

vreihen

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http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/isro-says-it-has-lost-contact-with-gsat-6a/article23406393.ece

ISRO says it has lost contact with GSAT-6A

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
BENGALURU, APRIL 01, 2018 12:21 IST
UPDATED: APRIL 01, 2018 23:30 IST

Spacecraft built for 10-year mission goes silent on Day 2, recovery efforts are on

A day after GSAT-6A, the country’s newest communication satellite, went incommunicado in space, officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Sunday that they were working to restore the link with it.

The silence is initially believed to have been caused by a power glitch or a short circuit on the satellite.

The spacecraft, launched on March 29, was meant to support military communications in hostile regions using handy ground terminals. Built to last 10-12 years, it was to be a standby for its three-year-old replica GSAT-6.

ISRO chief hopeful

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan, for whom this was the first mission after taking charge, said, “Going by preliminary data, we expect that we will be able to recover the satellite. Its systems are in good health. Our teams are working round the clock to re-establish contact with the satellite. We are trying through our ground stations across the world.” Functionally, there would be no shortage or disturbance as GSAT-6 was at work for some more years, he said.

ISRO says it has lost contact with GSAT-6A

“There will be no impact of this problem on our next missions,” Dr. Sivan said.

The launch of the navigation satellite IRNSS-1I is scheduled for April 12. An expert committee is looking into the issue and will suggest recovery and other options.

Orbit correction

After the 36-minute second orbit correction of Friday, GSAT-6A had an orbital period of 18-20 hours, close to the final 24 hours. The command team at the ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan would get another shot at recovery when the satellite passes over India on Monday morning.

Dr. Sivan also referred to the latest case of Russian scientists getting back an Angolan satellite that had lost its link after launch in December.

Earlier on Sunday, an ISRO statement said, “Communication from the satellite was lost after the second firing of the on-board engine” on Saturday. “Efforts are under way to establish the link with the satellite,” it said.

News about a glitch started floating in around forenoon on Saturday. The ISRO brass, including Dr. Sivan and officials of the satellite and control teams, went into a huddle at the ISRO headquarters and later at the MCF. Multiple but unofficial sources connected with the ISRO believe the spacecraft may have died.

One person familiar with satellite technologies said spacecraft have redundancies or backups; MCF worked at them overnight on Saturday. “There are occasions when satellites have sprung alive after a few days. But in this case, the chances appear to be dim,” the expert said, requesting not to be named.

The 2,000-kg-plus GSAT-6A was launched on the indigenous GSLV rocket on March 29 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. It was placed in an initial elliptical orbit 169.4 km x 36,692 km.

MCF picked up its control within minutes. From March 30, it started routinely correcting the orbit into a circular one, a critical but frequently done exercise that lasts about a week to 10 days.

After the first on-board motor firing for about 36 minutes on Friday morning, ISRO announced that the satellite’s orbit became 36,412 km x 5,054 km with an inclination of 11.93 degrees to the Equator; it was circling the Earth almost every 13 hours.

The space agency said a third orbit raising exercise was due on Sunday. The second manoeuvre is said to have been tried at 10.15 a.m. on Saturday.

GSAT-6A came with a technology that combines a large unfurlable S-band antenna in space and small, hand-held ground terminals highly suited for the military in remote area operations.
 
   #124  

vreihen

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Although some would argue that this isn't technically "space" flight.....

https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/05/virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-powered-flight-test/

Virgin Galactic completes first powered test flight since 2014 crash
It's a milestone following the fatal accident.

Swapna Krishna
5h ago in Space

Today, SpaceShipTwo completed its first powered test since the horrific crash in 2014 that killed one of its pilots. The craft, VSS Unity, took off from Mojave Air and Space Port aboard a plane called CMS Eve, and was piloted by two people. According to Richard Branson, the vehicle went supersonic, up to Mach 1.6. He proclaimed Virgin Galactic "back on track."

.@virgingalactic back on track. Successful powered flight, Mach 1.6. Data review to come, then on to the next flight. Space feels tantalisingly close now.

— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) April 5, 2018
It's a great accomplishment for a company that has been taking it slow since the 2014 accident. Virgin Galactic performed numerous glide tests of SpaceShipTwo in order to ensure it was once again ready for a powered test, its fifth overall (but first since the fatal crash).

Following the investigation into what happened, The Spaceship Company (a Virgin Galactic subsidiary) made some changes to the design of SpaceShipTwo, according to CNBC. If all goes well with future powered tests, then Virgin Galactic could become one of the premier names in space tourism and launch providers.
 
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   #125  

vreihen

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The Ross-Tech VCDS X-Prize? :D With an Audi-sponsored team among the competitors, y'all can even expense the whole prize since their rover will invariably throw the first MIL on the surface of the moon (not counting Apollo LEM alarms)..... :p


https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/05/xprize-is-relaunching-its-moon-challenge-without-google-but-they-need-a-new-sponsor/

Xprize is relaunching its Moon challenge without Google, but they need a new sponsor

Lucas Matney
12 hours

The deadline for Google’s Lunar Xprize passed just days ago without a winner, but the lengthy 10-year competition to send a robot to the Moon’s surface had known for months that none of the five teams were ready for launch by the extended deadline of March 31, 2018. As a result, back in January, Google announced it was taking its $30 million in prize money back, leaving the exciting challenge with a bit of an anticlimactic end.

Xprize is back however, announcing today that the show will go on without a cash award or Google support, though they’re looking for a new sponsor to step in and float the prize for the Xprize.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to Google for funding the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE between September 2007 and March 31st, 2018. While that competition is now over, there are at least five teams with launch contracts that hope to land on the Lunar surface in the next two years,” said Xprize founder Peter H. Diamandis, M.D. in a statement. “Because of this tremendous progress, and near-term potential, XPRIZE is now looking for our next visionary Title Sponsor who wants to put their logo on these teams and on the lunar surface.”

The big focus of the whole scenario was to give private companies a chance and major incentive to join the host of government orgs that had landed a craft on the Moon. Xprize says that Google’s pledge and support eventually netted the teams involved as much as $300 million in investment to fund the missions.

Though Google Lunar Xprize stretched on through many deadline extensions only to end without a winner, with this new launch competition, the organization hopes they can capture the public’s imagination once again while hopefully soon also capturing the support of a mega-donor to put their name on the competition.

“At this point, we don’t want to give up on these teams, these teams are going to make it,” Diamandis said.
 
   #126  

Uwe

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The Ross-Tech VCDS X-Prize? :D With an Audi-sponsored team among the competitors, y'all can even expense the whole prize since their rover will invariably throw the first MIL on the surface of the moon (not counting Apollo LEM alarms)..... :p
I won't deny that RT has done OK financially, but $30 million? Nope, not possible. Not even close. :o
 
   #127  

vreihen

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Not sure how thrilled i am about cutting the test short, especially knowing how one of Soyuz's sales features (and certifications) is that it can be pickled (shut down) on orbit for 6+ months before being used for a return trip. Other than Skylab, NASA's experiences are two week flights. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, especially if the Soyuz "life boat" seats are already all full when they arrive.....


https://spacepolicyonline.com/news/nasa-may-operationalize-boeings-commercial-crew-flight-test/

NASA MAY OPERATIONALIZE BOEING’S COMMERCIAL CREW FLIGHT TEST – UPDATED

By Marcia Smith
Posted: April 5, 2018 9:56 pm ET | Last Updated: April 6, 2018 8:24 am ET

NASA revealed today that it has modified its commercial crew contract with Boeing to provide “flexibility” to use the crew flight test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner system essentially as an operational mission. Instead of two crew members there could be three and a six-month mission instead of two weeks.

Boeing is one of two companies developing crew space transportation systems through public-private partnerships with NASA. The “commercial crew” systems will ferry crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Boeing’s system is the CST-100 Starliner capsule that will be launched by United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rockets. ULA is a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

SpaceX is the other company. Its Crew Dragon will be launched by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

NASA has not been able to launch crews to the ISS since the space shuttle was terminated in 2011. It relies on Russia to ferry crews back and forth on its Soyuz spacecraft. NASA’s arrangement to purchase “seats” on Soyuz will expire in 2019.

Boeing and SpaceX were awarded Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCAP) contracts in 2014 to complete development of their systems. That included each company conducting an uncrewed flight test and a crewed flight test that would allow the systems to be certified for use in operational missions. According to NASA’s commercial crew program website, the current schedules are as follows:

Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): August 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): November 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1 (uncrewed): August 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): December 2018

Those schedules are considered optimistic by many both inside and outside NASA.

At a January 2018 hearing before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Space Subcommittee, Cristina Chaplain of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that GAO’s most recent review of the program concluded that Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner are not likely to be certified until December 2019 and January 2020 respectively. Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, responded that NASA is “brainstorming” options if there are delays.

Today’s announcement apparently is one of those options. It states that the contract modification includes the ability to extend Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) from two weeks to six months and send a third crew member on the mission. That “provides NASA with additional schedule margin if needed,” Gerstenmaier said today, but added that “[t]urning a test flight into an operational mission needs careful review by the technical community.”

During a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee (NAC/HEO) last week, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders, agreed with the characterization that the schedules are “aggressive.” Lueders stressed, however, that while NASA wants the systems operational as soon as possible, it does not want safety to be sacrificed in order to meet a schedule.

That point also was made at a March 1 meeting of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP). ASAP chair Pat Sanders said the panel had not seen the commercial crew program take any shortcuts in response to schedule pressure so far and encouraged NASA to continue in that manner.

Wayne Hale, a former space shuttle program manager, offered a somewhat different point of view at the NAC/HEO meeting, however. He said that spaceflight will always be risky and program managers must make risk decisions every day based on cost and schedule. “The only way to be perfectly safe is to stay home,” he cautioned. Hale is a member of the NAC and its HEO committee.

NASA announced the news about the Boeing contract modification via Twitter and a posting on the commercial crew program’s blog rather than through a press release.

NASA, Boeing may evolve flight test strategy for crewed flight test. Read about the potential changes here: https://t.co/NdTsAlWI0J pic.twitter.com/kdVGf1ZzSU

— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) April 5, 2018
In an emailed response to SpacePolicyOnline.com about whether the SpaceX contract might be similarly modified, NASA said that Boeing made this proposal to NASA last year and if SpaceX submits a proposal the agency “will review it through the normal procurement process.” Asked how the Boeing idea has been vetted so far, including with ASAP, NASA replied that modifying the contract “enables the necessary planning and technical evaluation” and NASA will describe the contract modification “and how it provides schedule flexibility” during its regular quarterly briefings to ASAP.

Note: This article was updated April 6 with the response from NASA in the last paragraph.
 
   #128  

Uwe

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^^^
I wonder what the price is for a Crew Dragon mission vs. a Starliner mission.

The more expensive one is obviously gonna be safer, right? :popcorn:
 
   #130  

Uwe

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Did not make orbit:


:eek:
 
   #131  

RBgonzo

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Anyone walking on the moon is a little fishy to me still. Heres my question, why not go back? Some say because there is nothing there? Some say because we dont have the technology to force our way through the highly highly radioactive Van Allan Belts. If the tech isnt here yet in damn near 2020, then in the 50's it wasnt even a thought in anyones mind. Also, didnt china get caught faking their last SPACE WALK? Some underwater facility is where they shot that. That is why IMO america isnt covering it really well. Probably faking.... why not everyone else does right?
 
   #132  

PetrolDave

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Anyone walking on the moon is a little fishy to me still.
What I don't understand is why doesn't someone independent from NASA with a decent telescope point it at the locations on the moon where the LEMs landed and take pictures of the bottom half of the LEMs to prove they are there?
 
   #133  

Uwe

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What I don't understand is why doesn't someone independent from NASA with a decent telescope point it at the locations on the moon where the LEMs landed and take pictures of the bottom half of the LEMs to prove they are there?
Do earth-based telescopes have sufficient resolution to pick out objects on the lunar surface that are only a few meters across? I'm really not sure.

The single most compelling bit of evidence that the moon landings were not faked is from Russia. The period between 1969 (Apollo 11) and 1972 (Apollo 17) was during the height of the Cold War. The Soviets had invaded Czechoslovakia during the summer of 1968. There was a proxy war going in Vietnam. And of course, there was the whole "space race" between the USA and the USSR. The Soviets gave up a manned moon landing after repeated launch failures of their N1 rocket, but there is no doubt that they had pretty decent space tracking capabilities. Heck, they managed to retrieve lunar soil samples themselves using robotic probes starting in 1970. In any case, you can bet that the Soviets were tracking the US Apollo missions and listening in on every word, and that they would have called us out right then and there if those transmissions had not come from the published trajectories of the Apollo spacecraft or the surface of the moon.
 
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   #135  

Uwe

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I'd be surprised if telescopes like those at Mauna Kea aren't powerful enough?
https://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/mko/
Doing a bit of digging into this, it seems that the best earth-based telescopes have a resolution of approximately 0.5 arcseconds. This limitation is primarily due to turbulence in the atmosphere. The Hubble space telescope avoids this by being above the atmosphere and its resolution is limited to about 0.1 arcseconds by the diffraction limit of its objective mirror diameter.

The distance to the moon is ~400,000 km, or ~400,000,000 meters.

Now my geometry is a bit rusty, but from shooting sports, I know that 1 minute of arc is ~2.5 cm at 100 meters. That would be 2.5 meters at 10,000 meters, right? So one minute of arc would be 2.5 * 40,000 m at the distance of the moon, and one arc-second at the distance of the moon would be ~1,667 meters. This means a ground-based telescope would have a resolution of ~833 meters at the distance of the moon, and the Hubble would have a resolution of ~167 meters at the distance of the moon.

Doing a quick reality check on my back-of-the-envelope calculations:
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=1+arcsecond+at+400000+km
That number (6362 feet / 1939 meters) for one arcsecond is a bit higher than mine, but in the same ballpark.

The Lunar Excursion Modules are listed as 9.4 meters in width in Wikipedia.

So nope, telescopes can't actually see them. :(
 
   #137  

Uwe

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Oh well, another "great idea" bites the dust :facepalm:
I apologize for raining on your parade. But I find it humbling to realize just how poor our perception, i.e. our ability to see things in detail across astronomical distances is, and it explains why there's no substitute for physical exploration, either in person or at least via some sort of robotic probe.

BTW, the 1939 vs. 1667 meters discrepancy was bugging me, so I pondered it a bit. It's cumulative rounding error, primarily due to my off-the cuff conversion between imperial and metric units. The marksmen's rule of thumb for one MoA (Minute of Arc) is actually one inch at 100 yards. Well one inch is 2.54 cm, and 100 yards is only 91.44 meters, which means it's more like 2.78 cm at 100 meters. Plugging that back into calculations above gets me 1852 meters / arcsecond at the distance of the moon. The rest seems to be one more rounding error in the rule of thumb itself. One MoA at 100 yards is actually 1.047 inches. Multiplying the most recent 1852 meters by 1.047 gets me 1938.9 meters, which I'll call spot-on. :)
 
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   #138  

PetrolDave

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I apologize for raining on your parade.
Progress is only achieved by throwing out theories and some get proven but many more get shown to be wrong - so I'm happy for you to show my thinking was flawed :thumbs:
 
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