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2 hours ago, Marshall said:

I know I am just a whisper in a tornado, a voice of an ancient elder, but IMO even the thought of living under an oxygen filled dome is beyond my comprehension....

Dunno, might be too late. Understand they've already got a national anthem....

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Breeding stock?

Hope it doesn't have the space equivalent to an MCAS system.

It is a culture adopted from McDonnell Douglas unfortunately.  $ trumps Safety  

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34 minutes ago, Marshall said:

Airband, it was Kip who said what you attributed to me,  I was quoting him

Relax guy, relax. Most here have an IQ above 8 and could figure it out if it were ever to be an issue.

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2 hours ago, Airband said:

Relax guy, relax. Most here have an IQ above 8 and could figure it out if it were ever to be an issue.

No need to relax, I JUST HATE FAKE NEWS. and of course would not want to receive credit for something another posted😀

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Well here you  and consider the time line for this long winded fairy tale and in particular "estimate" what it will cost to get to the end of the game and what that money could do for the continued existence of this planet.

I think some of these dreamers are of the  same ilk  that insist that Canada have 80-88 new fighter.aircraft.

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10 minutes ago, Kip Powick said:

Well here you  and consider the time line for this long winded fairy tale and in particular "estimate" what it will cost to get to the end of the game and what that money could do for the continued existence of this planet.

I think some of these dreamers are of the  same ilk  that insist that Canada have 80-88 new fighter.aircraft.


10 minutes ago, Kip Powick said:

Well here you  and consider the time line for this long winded fairy tale and in particular "estimate" what it will cost to get to the end of the game and what that money could do for the continued existence of this planet.

I think some of these dreamers are of the  same ilk  that insist that Canada have 80-88 new fighter.aircraft.

But Kip, you are def. comparing apples to oranges.  The Mars activity will have no negative impact on Canada (when it comes to $$$$$) so no worries here, the fighter jet bit will.... I continue to be unsure why we would want to pretend that the RCAF would in any case be able to defend us against a foe intent upon taking over Canada.  Their roles not requiring fighter jets on the other hand seem to me, to be very useful, if we could keep the polititions away from them. For example


Canadian troops have been forced to hitch a ride with the British military to get to and from Latvia due to a shortage of working planes. Canada has 540 troops in Latvia, where they form the core of a 1,500-strong multinational battlegroup established by NATO three years ago.   Yet just today  

OTTAWA -- Canada will provide a military transport plane to support United Nations peacekeeping missions for another year despite losing its bid for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's office confirmed the continued deployment of a CC-130 Hercules in support of UN missions in Africa on Sunday, ending months of speculation about the fate of the mission.

"The Canadian Armed Forces are playing an important role in transporting critical supplies and personnel to support the UN in the region," Sajjan's spokesman Todd Lane said in a statement to The Canadian Press.


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The meaning of "same ilk" is that both the "Mars" people and the "Fighter" people are insisting on doing something that is NOT required for the benefit of mankind and no doubt Canada will send someone or have someone in the Mars Team either on the space voyage to hell, or on the ground doing some bean counting. 

  Canada, (The RCAF), needs TRANSPORT and SAR roles only. There is no way on earth any sane person can justify fighter aircraft  for this country. The gutless Canadian politicians will not stand up to NORAD and NATO and say" whiz bangs" but we will enlarge both our SAR capabilities and Transport roles.

The Pandemic reaction  proves that Canada can do better than the "really big" political countries, even if we are regarded as very passive and polite. but the expenditure of taxpayers money should be put to better use.


Rant over


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43 minutes ago, Kip Powick said:

The meaning of "same ilk" is that both the "Mars" people and the "Fighter" people are insisting on doing something that is NOT required for the benefit of mankind and no doubt Canada will send someone or have someone in the Mars Team either on the space voyage to hell, or on the ground doing some bean counting. 

  Canada, (The RCAF), needs TRANSPORT and SAR roles only. There is no way on earth any sane person can justify fighter aircraft  for this country. The gutless Canadian politicians will not stand up to NORAD and NATO and say" whiz bangs" but we will enlarge both our SAR capabilities and Transport roles.

The Pandemic reaction  proves that Canada can do better than the "really big" political countries, even if we are regarded as very passive and polite. but the expenditure of taxpayers money should be put to better use.


Rant over


Have you told Justin?  😄

Anyway to get my topic back on track:

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1 hour ago, Kip Powick said:

Yeh, turned the TV to  CNN and the live "arrival was on their channel.........switched channels and watched the Weather Network.




SOME Old folks seldom change / EVOLVE. ...   😀 


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8 hours ago, Marshall said:




SOME Old folks seldom change / EVOLVE. ...   😀 


What does your statement have to do with my opinion that the money expended on this fairy tale of living on Mars could be better spent by keeping this planet livable ??

And the moon landing ?? In today's dollars it cost about 150+ billion and what benefit did the 3.5+ billion people who inhabited the earth back in 1969 derive.... ZERO

Anyhow, I am sure anyone who reads this thread is aware of my PERSONAL feeling concerning space adventures when the money spent could be put to better use for all the occupants of this planet I am outta here.

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Russia wants to return to Venus, build reusable rocket
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Aug 7, 2020


The head of Russia's space agency said Friday that Roscosmos wants to return to Venus and bring back soil samples and build spacecraft that will surpass Elon Musk's rockets.

Last week America's first crewed spaceship to fly to the International Space Station in nearly a decade returned safely to Earth, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico.

The mission was carried out jointly by NASA and Musk's SpaceX. Its Falcon 9 rocket is semi-reusable.

"We are making a methane rocket to replace the Soyuz-2," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with state news agency RIA Novosti.

He said it will be a reusable space complex, noting that it will be possible to use its first stage at least 100 times.

"Of course we are looking at what our American colleagues are doing," said Rogozin. "But our engineers are trying to take a shortcut -- not to repeat what our SpaceX colleagues are doing but surpass them."

Rogozin said he was not impressed with the SpaceX spacecraft, saying its landing was "rather rough."

"It's not designed for ground landing -- that's exactly why American colleagues chose to land on the water the way it was done 45 years ago," Rogozin said.

Russia had for many years enjoyed a monopoly as the only country able to ferry astronauts, and the SpaceX launch meant the loss of a sizeable income. A seat in the Soyuz costs NASA around $80 million.

- 'Return to Venus' -

Rogozin said he also wanted Russia to return to Venus.

"It was always a 'Russian planet,'" he said.

The Soviet Union was the only nation to have landed probes on the surface of Venus.

"I believe that Venus is more interesting than Mars," Rogozin said, adding that studying Venus could help scientists understand how to deal with climate change on Earth.

Venus, whose atmosphere is made up nearly completely of carbon dioxide, is considered to be the hottest planet in the solar system.

"If we don't study what is happening on Venus then we won't understand how to prevent a similar scenario from happening on our planet."

He said he wanted Russians -- in cooperation with Americans or by themselves -- to bring back the surface materials of Venus.

"It would indeed a breakthrough," Rogozin said.

"We know how to do it," he added, saying Russian scientists were currently studying relevant Soviet-era documents.

But Roscosmos lamented that repeated budget cuts risked threatening many of the programmes.

"I don't quite understand how to work in these conditions," he said. "We are seeing that leading foreign space agencies are increasing their budgets."

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Sierra Nevada aims to complete Dream Chaser space plane in March
by Paul Brinkmann
Orlando FL (UPI) Aug 18, 2020

Sierra Nevada plans to develop an entire business line around Dream Chaser, including space tourism, said Chris Quilty, an analyst with St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Quilty Analytics.

Colorado-based Sierra Nevada Corp. aims to complete its first operational Dream Chaser space plane by March to provide cargo trips to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft, which resembles a small space shuttle, originally was proposed to carry astronauts, but Sierra Nevada so far only has NASA contracts for cargo. Company executives continue to say they believe Dream Chaser will carry people someday. The company updates designs for Dream Chaser as NASA's commercial crew program updates its requirements.

"We've never stopped trying to move that forward, although we are not currently funded by NASA for crew missions," said John Roth, vice president of business development at the company, told UPI last week.

Sierra Nevada plans Dream Chaser's first cargo mission for late 2021, to be launched aboard a United Launch Alliance rocket. Since it isn't carrying people, no test flights beyond short drops from aircraft completed in 2013 and 2017 are required, Roth said.

"NASA will look at our ability to control the vehicle and rendezvous with the station," Roth said.

Sierra Nevada in 2014 lost a competition for a multibillion-dollar astronaut contract to SpaceX and Boeing in NASA's Commercial Crew Program, but has won over $2 billion in NASA contracts to develop Dream Chaser as a cargo vessel.

SpaceX on Aug. 2 completed the first successful flight of its Crew Dragon capsule to the space station and back with astronauts on board.

Boeing's first attempt to fly its Starliner capsule to the space station failed in December. The company plans to try the test flight again later this year.

Dream Chaser would return to Earth under its own power. A prototype has been tested by dropping it from an aircraft, but it has yet to launch as intended on a rocket sent into space.

Sierra Nevada won NASA contracts for two cargo trips, Roth said. The company has reserved six launches on ULA's new Vulcan Centaur rocket, which is being developed.

Dream Chaser should be more appealing, someday, to space tourists since it resembles a plane and doesn't land with a jolt under parachutes like a space capsule, Roth said.

Sierra Nevada plans to develop an entire business line around Dream Chaser, including space tourism, said Chris Quilty, an analyst with St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Quilty Analytics.

"Losing the astronaut contract was a disappointment, but getting the cargo contract, that was a lifeline for Dream Chaser," Quilty said. "Unlike a capsule, this can touch down on a runway, and NASA or other scientists can retrieve time-sensitive payloads immediately."

Sierra Nevada still has time to grab NASA's attention again if Boeing doesn't perform well on its next test flight, said Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at Washington D.C.-based Teal Group.

"Their relationship with NASA is solid, and that's a good thing," Caceres said. "Boeing was a legacy supplier, and [NASA] really couldn't say no to SpaceX."

Ultimately, safety and reliability will determine who flies spacecraft with people on board, he said.

Sierra Nevada challenged NASA's decision to cut it out of the astronaut program. But a government watchdog rejected the challenge in 2018.

"NASA also recognized several favorable features in the Sierra Nevada and SpaceX proposals, but ultimately concluded that SpaceX's lower price made it a better value than the proposal submitted by Sierra Nevada," the summary of the decision said.

Source: United Press International

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Hayabusa 2 successfully touched down on a small level area on the boulder-strewn asteroid in February, when it also collected some surface dust and small debris. The craft is scheduled to leave the asteroid at the end of 2019 and bring the surface fragments and underground samples back to Earth in late 2020.



The Hayabusa2 Re-entry Capsule Approved to Land in Australia
by Staff Writers
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Aug 19, 2020

On August 10, 2020, JAXA was informed that the Authorisation of Return of Overseas-Launched Space Object (AROLSO) for the re-entry capsule from Hayabusa2 was issued by the Australian Government. The date of the issuance is August 6, 2020.

The Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule will return to Earth in South Australia on December 6, 2020 (Japan Time and Australian Time). The landing site will be the Woomera Prohibited Area. The issuance of the AROLSO gave a major step forward for the capsule recovery.

We will continue careful operation for return of Hayabusa2 and recovery of the capsule, and the operation status will be announced in a timely manner.

Comment from JAXA President, Hiroshi Yamakawa: "The approval to carry out the re-entry and recovery operations of the Hayabusa2 return sample capsule is a significant milestone. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the support of the Australian Government as well as multiple organizations in Australia for their cooperation.

"We will continue to prepare for the successful mission in December 2020 in close cooperation with the Australian Government."



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Not so long ago we read about how the North Pole was moving.  Here is an article on how there are other changes occurring in our magnetic field.


NASA researchers track slowly splitting 'dent' in Earth's magnetic field
by Mara Johnson-Groh and Jessica Merzdorf for GSFC News
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Aug 18, 2020

Earth's magnetic field acts like a protective shield around the planet, repelling and trapping charged particles from the Sun. But over South America and the southern Atlantic Ocean, an unusually weak spot in the field - called the South Atlantic Anomaly, or SAA - allows these particles to dip closer to the surface than normal. Currently, the SAA creates no visible impacts on daily life on the surface. However, recent observations and forecasts show that the region is expanding westward and continuing to weaken in intensity. The South Atlantic Anomaly is also of interest to NASA's Earth scientists who monitor the changes in magnetic strength there, both for how such changes affect Earth's atmosphere and as an indicator of what's happening to Earth's magnetic fields, deep inside the globe. Video: NASA Explores Earth's Magnetic 'Dent'

A small but evolving dent in Earth's magnetic field can cause big headaches for satellites.

Earth's magnetic field acts like a protective shield around the planet, repelling and trapping charged particles from the Sun. But over South America and the southern Atlantic Ocean, an unusually weak spot in the field - called the South Atlantic Anomaly, or SAA - allows these particles to dip closer to the surface than normal. Particle radiation in this region can knock out onboard computers and interfere with the data collection of satellites that pass through it - a key reason why NASA scientists want to track and study the anomaly.

The South Atlantic Anomaly is also of interest to NASA's Earth scientists who monitor the changes in magnetic field strength there, both for how such changes affect Earth's atmosphere and as an indicator of what's happening to Earth's magnetic fields, deep inside the globe.

Currently, the SAA creates no visible impacts on daily life on the surface. However, recent observations and forecasts show that the region is expanding westward and continuing to weaken in intensity. It is also splitting - recent data shows the anomaly's valley, or region of minimum field strength, has split into two lobes, creating additional challenges for satellite missions.

A host of NASA scientists in geomagnetic, geophysics, and heliophysics research groups observe and model the SAA, to monitor and predict future changes - and help prepare for future challenges to satellites and humans in space.

It's what's inside that counts
The South Atlantic Anomaly arises from two features of Earth's core: The tilt of its magnetic axis, and the flow of molten metals within its outer core.

Earth is a bit like a bar magnet, with north and south poles that represent opposing magnetic polarities and invisible magnetic field lines encircling the planet between them. But unlike a bar magnet, the core magnetic field is not perfectly aligned through the globe, nor is it perfectly stable. That's because the field originates from Earth's outer core: molten, iron-rich and in vigorous motion 1800 miles below the surface. These churning metals act like a massive generator, called the geodynamo, creating electric currents that produce the magnetic field.

As the core motion changes over time, due to complex geodynamic conditions within the core and at the boundary with the solid mantle up above, the magnetic field fluctuates in space and time too. These dynamical processes in the core ripple outward to the magnetic field surrounding the planet, generating the SAA and other features in the near-Earth environment - including the tilt and drift of the magnetic poles, which are moving over time. These evolutions in the field, which happen on a similar time scale to the convection of metals in the outer core, provide scientists with new clues to help them unravel the core dynamics that drive the geodynamo.

"The magnetic field is actually a superposition of fields from many current sources," said Terry Sabaka, a geophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Regions outside of the solid Earth also contribute to the observed magnetic field. However, he said, the bulk of the field comes from the core.

The forces in the core and the tilt of the magnetic axis together produce the anomaly, the area of weaker magnetism - allowing charged particles trapped in Earth's magnetic field to dip closer to the surface.

The Sun expels a constant outflow of particles and magnetic fields known as the solar wind and vast clouds of hot plasma and radiation called coronal mass ejections. When this solar material streams across space and strikes Earth's magnetosphere, the space occupied by Earth's magnetic field, it can become trapped and held in two donut-shaped belts around the planet called the Van Allen Belts. The belts restrain the particles to travel along Earth's magnetic field lines, continually bouncing back and forth from pole to pole. The innermost belt begins about 400 miles from the surface of Earth, which keeps its particle radiation a healthy distance from Earth and its orbiting satellites.

However, when a particularly strong storm of particles from the Sun reaches Earth, the Van Allen belts can become highly energized and the magnetic field can be deformed, allowing the charged particles to penetrate the atmosphere.

"The observed SAA can be also interpreted as a consequence of weakening dominance of the dipole field in the region," said Weijia Kuang, a geophysicist and mathematician in Goddard's Geodesy and Geophysics Laboratory. "More specifically, a localized field with reversed polarity grows strongly in the SAA region, thus making the field intensity very weak, weaker than that of the surrounding regions."

A pothole in space
Although the South Atlantic Anomaly arises from processes inside Earth, it has effects that reach far beyond Earth's surface. The region can be hazardous for low-Earth orbit satellites that travel through it. If a satellite is hit by a high-energy proton, it can short-circuit and cause an event called single event upset or SEU. This can cause the satellite's function to glitch temporarily or can cause permanent damage if a key component is hit. In order to avoid losing instruments or an entire satellite, operators commonly shut down non-essential components as they pass through the SAA. Indeed, NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer regularly travels through the region and so the mission keeps constant tabs on the SAA's position.

The International Space Station, which is in low-Earth orbit, also passes through the SAA. It is well protected, and astronauts are safe from harm while inside. However, the ISS has other passengers affected by the higher radiation levels: Instruments like the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation mission, or GEDI, collect data from various positions on the outside of the ISS. The SAA causes "blips" on GEDI's detectors and resets the instrument's power boards about once a month, said Bryan Blair, the mission's deputy principal investigator and instrument scientist, and a lidar instrument scientist at Goddard.

"These events cause no harm to GEDI," Blair said. "The detector blips are rare compared to the number of laser shots - about one blip in a million shots - and the reset line event causes a couple of hours of lost data, but it only happens every month or so."

In addition to measuring the SAA's magnetic field strength, NASA scientists have also studied the particle radiation in the region with the Solar, Anomalous, and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer, or SAMPEX - the first of NASA's Small Explorer missions, launched in 1992 and providing observations until 2012. One study, led by NASA heliophysicist Ashley Greeley as part of her doctoral thesis, used two decades of data from SAMPEX to show that the SAA is slowly but steadily drifting in a northwesterly direction. The results helped confirm models created from geomagnetic measurements and showed how the SAA's location changes as the geomagnetic field evolves.

"These particles are intimately associated with the magnetic field, which guides their motions," said Shri Kanekal, a researcher in the Heliospheric Physics Laboratory at NASA Goddard. "Therefore, any knowledge of particles gives you information on the geomagnetic field as well."

Greeley's results, published in the journal Space Weather, were also able to provide a clear picture of the type and amount of particle radiation satellites receive when passing through the SAA, which emphasized the need for continuing monitoring in the region.

The information Greeley and her collaborators garnered from SAMPEX's in-situ measurements has also been useful for satellite design. Engineers for the Low-Earth Orbit, or LEO, satellite used the results to design systems that would prevent a latch-up event from causing failure or loss of the spacecraft.

Modeling a safer future for satellites
In order to understand how the SAA is changing and to prepare for future threats to satellites and instruments, Sabaka, Kuang and their colleagues use observations and physics to contribute to global models of Earth's magnetic field.

The team assesses the current state of the magnetic field using data from the European Space Agency's Swarm constellation, previous missions from agencies around the world, and ground measurements. Sabaka's team teases apart the observational data to separate out its source before passing it on to Kuang's team. They combine the sorted data from Sabaka's team with their core dynamics model to forecast geomagnetic secular variation (rapid changes in the magnetic field) into the future.

The geodynamo models are unique in their ability to use core physics to create near-future forecasts, said Andrew Tangborn, a mathematician in Goddard's Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory.

"This is similar to how weather forecasts are produced, but we are working with much longer time scales," he said. "This is the fundamental difference between what we do at Goddard and most other research groups modeling changes in Earth's magnetic field."

One such application that Sabaka and Kuang have contributed to is the International Geomagnetic Reference Field, or IGRF. Used for a variety of research from the core to the boundaries of the atmosphere, the IGRF is a collection of candidate models made by worldwide research teams that describe Earth's magnetic field and track how it changes in time.

"Even though the SAA is slow-moving, it is going through some change in morphology, so it's also important that we keep observing it by having continued missions," Sabaka said. "Because that's what helps us make models and predictions."

The changing SAA provides researchers new opportunities to understand Earth's core, and how its dynamics influence other aspects of the Earth system, said Kuang. By tracking this slowly evolving "dent" in the magnetic field, researchers can better understand the way our planet is changing and help prepare for a safer future for satellites.

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Aug. 25, 2020
RELEASE 20-082

NASA Astronaut Jeanette Epps Joins First Operational Boeing Crew Mission to Space Station

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps
Credits: NASA

NASA has assigned astronaut Jeanette Epps to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, the first operational crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station.


Epps will join NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada for a six-month expedition planned for a launch in 2021 to the orbiting space laboratory. The flight will follow NASA certification after a successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 and Crew Flight Test with astronauts.


The spaceflight will be the first for Epps, who earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1992 from LeMoyne College in her hometown of Syracuse, New York. She completed a master’s degree in science in 1994 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.


While earning her doctorate, Epps was a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow, authoring several journal and conference articles on her research. After completing graduate school, she worked in a research laboratory for more than two years, co-authoring several patents, before the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited her. She spent seven years as a CIA technical intelligence officer before her selection as a member of the 2009 astronaut class. 


NASA assigned Williams and Cassada to the Starliner-1 mission in August 2018. The spaceflight will be the first for Cassada and third for Williams, who spent long-duration stays aboard the space station on Expeditions 14/15 and 32/33.


NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems capable of carrying crews to low-Earth orbit and to the space station. Commercial transportation to and from the station will provide expanded utility, additional research time and broader opportunities for discovery on the orbital outpost.


For nearly 20 years, the station has served as a critical testbed for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight. As commercial companies focus on providing human transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA will concentrate its focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep-space missions.


Follow Epps on social media at:





Joshua Finch / Stephanie Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100 /

Brandi Dean / Megan Sumner
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111 /


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Wheelock readies astronauts for Lunar landing
by Jay Levine, X-Press Editor
Edwards AFB CA (SPX) Aug 29, 2020

illustration only

Astronaut Doug "Wheels" Wheelock spent his NASA career expanding knowledge of living and working in space. His new mission is working to determine the best way to train astronauts to return to the surface of the Moon.

Wheelock is a veteran test pilot and retired U.S. Army colonel who has accumulated 178 days in space and was a guest speaker at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California during a recent virtual Safety Day. During his NASA career he conducted six spacewalks, flew in Space Shuttle Discovery and the Russian Soyuz and served as International Space Station Expedition 25 commander.

He was recently selected by the NASA Flight Operations directorate at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to lead the human lander system joint testing. He also is co-chairman of the joint test panel for the lunar landing project that is part of NASA's Artemis mission to return astronauts for sustainable human exploration of the Moon.

A broad agency announcement to define, develop and bid on lunar lander platform was the basis of an award April 30 to three companies to design and build human landing systems. The three companies include Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama, and Space-X of Hawthorne, California.

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston asked Wheelock to lead the joint test team, which is essentially looking at training crews to land on the Moon.

"We have these companies that are building landers, but we need to be able to train our crews," Wheelock said. " I am managing the test development and eventual testing and selection of platforms we will use for fixed base mockups, motion simulation and inflight trainers."

It wasn't always space missions and lunar landers for Wheelock. From an early age he said he learned from Neil Armstrong, as he watched as the first man on the Moon showcase qualities he believed leaders should have, such as humility and authenticity.

"I had a chance to ask him a question (when I was a kid), and I wanted to know how he felt as an extraordinary superhero," he said. Armstrong did not view himself in that way, which had an even bigger influence on Wheelock.

"How does an ordinary boy end up standing on the Moon?" he thought. "I later learned that ordinary kids from ordinary places do intersect with the extraordinary.

It wasn't until years later after he had been an astronaut that he recalled what a first grade teacher told him, "You could land on the Moon one day, too." As an astronaut, he remembered that and knows, "Children of all ages look to NASA for redefining what's possible for them."

On Aug. 24, 1998, he was selected as an astronaut and learned how to tackle complex challenges.

"It's like when we have pieces to a 1,000 piece puzzle and all pieces in front of us, but the box was taken away," he said. "We don't know what it looks like, but we look for the corners. Corners are the existence of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls."

The approach applies to a number of challenges.

"What we do in the simulators, or flying test plans, we know what the picture is supposed to look like," Wheelock said. "However, we may be doing something we have never done before, or trying to gain knowledge on a piece of equipment for the first time and that also is a puzzle. If we don't approach it by looking for the corners and connective parts, then we're not going to solve it."

Wheelock said being an astronaut isn't easy and he had to overcome several fears if he was to conquer the skies and space. He had an intense fear of falling and loud noises. Through strength, courage and a commitment to teamwork, he overcame it all and was rewarded for his hard work.

"When I went to space I wanted to rush to the window," he recalled. I wanted to look at the thin blue line of the atmosphere and see from space the small town I came from."

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Satellite mega-constellations risk ruining astronomy forever

There are some solutions that could soften the blow, but none will fix the problem outright.

September 2, 2020 - MIT Technology Review
Neel V. Patel

The astronomy community is on edge. The growing number of satellites streaming through low Earth orbit is making it almost impossible to get a clear view of the sky. 

The true threat these mega-constellations pose to the astronomy community is only just beginning to be understood. A report released last week by the American Astronomical Society concluded that they will “fundamentally change astronomical observing” for optical and near-infrared investigations moving forward. “Nighttime images without the passage of a sun-illuminated satellite will no longer be the norm,” the authors write.

The first Starlink satellites were already clearly visible shortly after launch last year, and some observatories found their images of the night sky ruined. On Thursday, SpaceX is set to launch its latest batch of Starlink satellites, with a set of 60 to join the fleet of 653 that have been launched since May 2019. In a several years the entire network is expected to swell to 12,000 satellites, with a possible expansion to 42,000. 

'A photobombing satellite is nothing new'

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NASA declines seat on Russia's Soyuz for US astronaut ISS flight
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Sputnik) Sep 09, 2020

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NASA changed its mind and decided not to buy a seat on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to deliver its astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) in the spring of 2021, according to Roscosmos' 2019 annual report.

In May, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine announced that the option of acquiring a seat on the Soyuz MS-18 manned spacecraft, which would be launched in April 2021, is being considered. In August, a source in the space industry said that for the first time in the history of the ISS, a crew consisting of only Russian cosmonauts would fly on Soyuz MS-18, but there was no official confirmation of this so far.

"At the beginning of 2020, the US side announced its readiness to purchase services for the delivery of only one astronaut in the fall of 2020: the conditions are currently being discussed, the modification project is being adjusted," the report says. In December 2019, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin announced the decision to provide NASA with one seat on the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft to be launched in October 2020 and Soyuz MC-18 to be launched in April 2021.

This will allow the agency to ensure that at least one AUS astronaut would be on the ISS until October 2021 in case of delays in the launches of new US manned spacecraft.

According to NASA, since 2006, the United States has purchased 72 seats in Soyuz spacecraft from Russia for a total of over $4 billion to transport US, European, Canadian and Japanese astronauts to the station and back to Earth. During this time, the cost of one flight for them increased from $20 million to $90 million.

Source: RIA Novosti

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Neat idea and I guess it will cut down on costs.

Northrop's 'life extension' spacecraft heads to the rescue
by Paul Brinkmann
Orlando FL (UPI) Sep 14, 2020

Northrop Grumman Corp.'s MEV-2, shown being prepared for launch, will act as a new engine and fuel tank to keep a satellite owned by Intelsat functioning in orbit for about five more years.

A second spacecraft designed by Northrop Grumman to extend the life of satellites in orbit is headed toward a rescue some 22,200 miles above Earth.

The spacecraft is part of Northrop's new in-orbit services. Analysts and observers predict such services will grow into a multibillion-dollar market over the next 10 years.

Northrop is the first commercial service to enable private space companies to extend the life of large, expensive satellites past their life expectancy as designed.

"Satellite operators have few options when a satellite is aging, and they are all expensive," said Joe Anderson, a vice president with Northrop subsidiary SpaceLogistics, based in Dulles, Va.

The company's rescue satellite, Mission Extension Vehicle-2, or MEV-2, was launched Aug. 15 from the European Space Agency's Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana, South America.

The launch began a seven-month journey to a rendezvous with a communication satellite, Intelsat 10-02. Sent aloft in 2004, the satellite provides service to customers of for Intelsat Corp., whose administrative center is in McLean, Va.

Once it clamps onto the Intelsat, the MEV will become a new engine for the satellite, which is running low on fuel. The Northrop spacecraft will keep the satellite in the proper orbit and pointed toward Earth, Anderson said.

The first MEV spacecraft, launched in October 2019, is operating successfully as a new, supplemental engine for another Intelsat satellite, Intelsat 901, which was launched in 2001, according to Northrop and Intelsat.

That satellite reached the end of its lifespan and had been moved to the so-called graveyard orbit, which is about 300 miles higher than any functional satellites.

The incentive to rescue such large communications satellites is their high cost - between $150 million and $300 million, Anderson said.

While he declined to reveal the cost of Northrop's MEV units, Anderson said the company intends to sell in-orbit services at a price that is attractive to satellite companies.

Intelsat previously reported in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would pay about $13 million per year, or $65 million for five years, for MEV-1.

If a company can put off the cost to build and launch a new satellite for five years, it can invest that money in other projects, making the life-extension service a valuable route, Anderson said.

Northrop will own and operate the MEV craft through SpaceLogistics. After the five-year missions for Intelsat, the MEV units can extend their work or move to other missions, Anderson said.

The MEVs are powered by electric engines energized by solar panels to raise their own orbit and control the Intelsat satellites, along with hydrazine chemical propulsion to rendezvous with their target satellites, Anderson said.

The electric thrusters are considered more efficient for such orbital missions, but they take longer to reach high orbit than bigger chemical propulsion engines.

Despite the success of MEV missions, Northrop won't build more similar satellites, but rather develop a new version with more capabilities. It will be known as a Mission Robotic Vehicle, Anderson said.

The MRV would carry several life extension "pods" - small electric engines that can be dispersed among multiple satellites per mission, Anderson said. Northrop believes that will boost the cost efficiency of each mission.

Northrop also will design the robotic mothership, the MRV, to inspect satellites and possibly conduct limited repairs, providing more value, he said.

Such expanded robotic spacecraft could be valuable to Intelsat, as well, said Jean-Luc Froeliger, vice president of its space systems engineering operations.

"We are definitely interested in the robotic vehicle under development, although nothing is signed yet," Froeliger said. "We're making revenue from the MEV life extension already, but in the long term, MEV doesn't make sense financially."

The robotic version, MRV, should be more fiscally attractive if it can extend the life of multiple Intelsat satellites for each launch, he said.

"We got the rebate of being the first customer to help get the program started," Froeliger said. "I don't think, long term, it makes good financial business for Northrop or for us to make more MEVs. If it was, we'd have signed up for 10 more."

Extending the life of multiple satellites with one MRV could address Intelsat's aging fleet of 51 operational satellites more efficiently, Froeliger added. That's because it will carry multiple engines - or pods - that can be dispersed and attached to multiple Intelsat satellites per mission, not just one.

"Life extension of our satellites is just one more tool in our toolbox to handle our fleet," he said.

Such life extension missions haven't been available in the private sector before, said Dallas Kasaboski, an analyst with Northern Sky Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"Governments have repaired or repositioned spacecraft in space for decades, but these Northrop missions are the first truly commercial in-orbit missions of their kind," Kasaboski said.

Spacecraft that extend the life of satellites are just one part of an emerging sector in commercial space known as in-orbit services, Kasaboski said.

The commercial market for such in-orbit services should generate about $3.1 billion over the next decade, based on an analysis his firm released in February.

Many other types of in-orbit services are expected in the coming years, he said.

Those services include "relocation, or repair, especially as governments grapple with the problem of space trash and thousands of new satellites being launched," Kasaboski said.

Although growth is likely for all in-orbit services, life extension may remain only a small niche market for years, said Joel Sercel, a technology entrepreneur and founder of Trans Astronautica Corp., a startup based in the Los Angeles area.

"Life extension for satellites might make sense for large communication satellites, an exquisite spy satellite, or a billion-dollar space telescope, but it could be too expensive for smaller satellites," Sercel said.

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French Air Force changes name as it looks to the stars

By: Christina Mackenzie   1 hour ago

A French Mirage 2000 C taxis on Bodø air Base during exercise Trident juncture 18. (Allied Joint Force Command)


PARIS — The French Air Force is no more. On Sept. 11, it became the French Air and Space Force, completing a process initiated by President Emmanuel Macron in July 2019 when he announced the creation of a space command.

A new logo, revealed Friday, accompanies the new name. The logo features a thin, curved line that runs above the word “armée” and then behind the word “air.” It represents the surface of the world, above which soars the stylized sparrow-hawk, which has been the logo for the Air Force for a decade. The bird’s position has been very slightly modified to make it look more like a hunter. And the phrase “& espace” has been added.

The Air and Space Force says the reason for the discreet changes in the logo is to underline the continuity of the mission rather than a revolution in the mission.

The new logo for the French Air and Space Force.

The new logo for the French Air and Space Force.

“Today aviators must look higher, further, towards space, this new field of confrontation that is highly strategic and increasingly connected," Air and Space Force Chief of Staff Gen. Philippe Lavigne said to service members. "Your qualities enable you to master the skies. They will now lead you to conquering space.”

In a statement, the Air and Space Force said given “the vital implications for military operations,” France had defined space as being “a major stake” for its strategic independence, and so the Space Command — locally known as CDE, or Commandement de l’espace — was created on Sept. 3, 2019.


The command is led by Brig. Gen. Michel Friedling, who reports to Joint Chief of Staff Gen. François Lecointre where cooperation, capabilities and military operations are concerned, and to Lavigne when training and force preparation are involved.

Based in Toulouse, the Space Command should reach full operational capacity in 2025 with a staff of almost 500. There are currently 220 men and women working on developing capabilities to protect military satellites from being approached by satellites operated by foreign powers.

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The command has already set up LISA, a laboratory dedicated to military innovation in space, and it is also preparing for AstérX, the first European military space exercise planned for November 2020.

What is a space weapon, and who has them?
What is a space weapon, and who has them?

A new report from the Center for Strategic and Intentional Studies tries to classify the six types of space weapons.

By: Aaron Mehta
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Volocopter offers reservations for commercial flights

Be the First to Fly with an Electric Air Taxi

Volocopter Logo


Volocopter GmbH 

Sep 16, 2020, 09:30 ET

BERLIN, Sept. 16, 2020 /CNW/ -- At Greentech Festival in Berlin today, Volocopter, the pioneer of Urban Air Mobility (UAM), announced that the world's first public sale for electrical air taxi flight reservations has started. Effective immediately, Volocopter fans world-wide can reserve their tickets online and be amongst the very first to take this new form of mobility. The VoloFirst ticket costs €300 and can be reserved with a 10% deposit. There are only 1000 presale reservations available for a limited time.

Volocopter opens reservations for electrical urban air taxis flights ©Volocopter

The announcement follows Volocopter's successful demonstration flights in Stuttgart, at Helsinki's international airport, and over Singapore's Marina Bay. "Based on our public test flights and regulatory achievement record, we have paved the way to make electric flight in cities common in just a few years. With the start of reservations, we now invite our supporters and innovators around the world to join us and be amongst the first to experience this new and exciting form of mobility," said Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter. The reservations are available world-wide on the Volocopter Reservation Platform.

"While the final certification for air taxis is still pending, we do have a detailed realistic timeline to launch commercial VoloCity flights in the next 2-3 years. Moreover, those who reserve now can receive the latest updates about our progress and the commercial launch plan," said Volocopter's Chief Commercial Officer Christian Bauer.

Volocopter first made aviation history in 2011 with its "Yoga-Ball" flight. Since then, Volocopter showed its technological leadership in several piloted and unpiloted flights across the world. It is the only eVTOL focused aerospace company to receive Design Organization Approval (DOA) from the European Aviation Safety Agency. Volocopter continues to work closely with cities and partners around the world to bring together all expertise necessary to make battery powered air taxis a reality: regulatory, cities, infrastructure developers, and flight traffic management providers amongst others.

For now, Volocopter is ready to gain market traction, offer the public their future services with a realistic timeline, and become the first electric air taxi company to acquire paying end-customers.

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DoD to start live fighter trials with AI pilots by 2024, Esper says
by Christen Mccurdy
Washington DC (UPI) Sep 10, 2020


The Pentagon plans to conduct live trials pitting tactical aircraft controlled by artificial intelligence against human pilots, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday.

He also said the United States' AI will be governed by ethics that power rivals like Russia and China lack, and will coordinate AI strategy with nearly a dozen democratic allies in a new partnership.

The comments were made during the Pentagon's first AI conference, which was held virtually this week, as the military looks to develop and integrate new technology ahead of the country's competitors.

Esper said the Department of Defense would test an AI pilot in a fighter by 2024, at least partially because the military wants to develop systems that can fly fighter aircraft without human pilots.

"The AI agent's resounding victory demonstrated the ability of advanced algorithms to outperform humans in virtual dogfights. These simulations will culminate in a real-world competition involving full-scale tactical aircraft in 2024," Esper said.

An AI program that beat a veteran human pilot in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's virtual trials in August will now begin testing actual fighter aircraft, Esper said.

But Esper also said the military is not looking to replace human judgment and control in combat operations, only to augment them.

Breaking Defense reported that DARPA would hand the program, called Air Combat Evolution and developed by Heron Systems, to the Air Force in 2024, but declined to describe the events as a "competition" between humans and AI. Officials instead said the pilots would work together as partners in "human-machine teaming."

The ACE system was notably aggressive and accurate, but not perfect -- making errors in basic fighter maneuvers like turning away from enemy aircraft to where it thought the other aircraft would go.

And Col. Dan Javorsek, program manager in DARPA's Strategic Technology Office, said the AI had information that might not be available in a real combat scenario.

"There are a lot caveats and disclaimers to add in here," Javorsek told C4ISRNet.

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Sept. 17, 2020

NASA to Host Preview Briefings, Interviews for First Crew Rotation Mission with SpaceX

The SpaceX Crew-1 official crew portrait with (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Soichi Noguchi
The SpaceX Crew-1 official crew portrait with (from left) NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
Credits: NASA

NASA will highlight the first crew rotational flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station with a trio of news conferences beginning 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 29. The briefings, which will take place at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The full astronaut crew flying on the mission also will be available for interviews.


NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 flight mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than Oct. 23, will carry astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the space station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


All media participation in these news conferences and interviews will be remote; no media will be accommodated at any NASA site. To participate in the briefings by phone or to request an interview with the crew members, reporters must contact Johnson's newsroom at 281-483-5111 or no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.


Briefings and participants include (all times EDT):


11 a.m. – NASA’s Commercial Crew Program News Conference with the following participants:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Phil McAlister, director, Commercial Spaceflight Development, NASA Headquarters
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX


12:30 p.m. – Crew-1 Mission Overview News Conference with the following participants:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Kenny Todd, deputy manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Anthony Vareha, NASA flight director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Benji Reed, director, Crew Mission Management, SpaceX

·      Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station, JAXA


2 p.m. – Crew News Conference with the following participants:

  • Astronaut Michael Hopkins, spacecraft commander, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission
  • Astronaut Victor Glover, pilot, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission
  • Astronaut Shannon Walker, mission specialist, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission
  • Astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission


3:30 p.m. – Round Robin Crew Interviews

  • Crew-1 astronauts will be available for a limited number of remote interviews following the news conference.


Following an Oct. 23 launch, the Crew-1 astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the space station the same day to join NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, as well as Expedition 64 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.


Michael Hopkins is commander of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-1 mission. Hopkins is responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry. He will also serve as an Expedition 64 flight engineer aboard the station. Selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009, Hopkins spent 166 days in space as a long-duration crew member of Expeditions 37 and 38 and completed two spacewalks totaling 12 hours and 58 minutes. Born in Lebanon, Missouri, Hopkins grew up on a farm outside Richland, Missouri. He has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Illinois, and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Stanford University. Before joining NASA, Hopkins was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.


Victor Glover is the pilot of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and second-in-command for the mission. Glover is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance. He also will be a long duration space station crew member. Selected as an astronaut in 2013, this will be his first spaceflight. The California native holds a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering, a Master of Science degree in flight test engineering, a Master of Science degree in systems engineering and a master’s degree military operational art and science. Glover is a naval aviator and was a test pilot in the F/A‐18 Hornet, Super Hornet, and EA‐18G Growler aircraft.


Shannon Walker is a mission specialist for Crew-1. As a mission specialist, she will work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the vehicle during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. She will also be responsible for monitoring timelines, telemetry, and consumables. Once aboard the station, Walker will become a flight engineer for Expedition 64. Selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004, Walker launched to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft as the co-pilot, and spent 161 days aboard the orbiting laboratory. More than 130 microgravity experiments were conducted during her stay in areas such as human research, biology, and materials science. A Houston native, Walker received a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics from Rice University in 1987, as well as a Master of Science degree and a doctorate in space physics, both from Rice University, in 1992 and 1993, respectively.


Soichi Noguchi will also be a mission specialist for Crew-1, working with the commander and pilot to monitor the vehicle during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight, and keeping watch on timelines, telemetry and consumables. Noguchi will also become a long-duration crew member aboard the space station. He was selected as an astronaut candidate by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA, currently the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) in May 1996. Noguchi is a veteran of two spaceflights. During STS-114 in 2005, Noguchi became the first Japanese astronaut to perform a spacewalk outside the space station. He performed a total of three spacewalks during the mission, accumulating 20 hours and 5 minutes of spacewalking time. He launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in 2009 to return to the station as a long-duration crew member. The Crew Dragon will be the third spacecraft that Noguchi has flown to the orbiting laboratory.


Follow Hopkins on social media at:


Follow Glover on social media at:


Follow Noguchi on social media at:


Learn more about the Commercial Crew Program at:



Joshua Finch / Stephanie Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100 /


Dan Huot / Megan Sumner
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111 /

Last Updated: Sept. 17, 2020
Editor: Sean Potter
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