Category Archives: Space and Satellites

The Space and Satellite blog posts news about the aerospace industry, including links to industry news and articles, and announcements of continuing education for professionals who are working in the space and satellite profession.

What was it exactly? Space history’s most fascinating misquote.

This is an interesting article. What was it exactly? History’s most fascinating misquote.

“Houston, we have a problem’: The amazing history of the iconic Apollo 13 misquote.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/podcasts/retropod/historys-most-fascinating-misquote/

To me, the differences are small, especially since the problem was not resolved at the time of the radio message,
and could have lead to the death of the 3 astronauts.

“Houston, we have a problem’

and “Houston, we had a problem’ (That was apparently what was actually said).

If you want to know more about Space and Satellite Design, go to
https://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#space

If you want more history od Apollo 13, see
https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/apollo/apo13hist.html

Bombers and Subs and Missiles, oh my!

Speaking for myself, I always considered the nuclear triad to include bombers, submarines, and missiles, but, I was wrong. Sandra Erwin points out in her Space News article, we really need to remember that these three components of the triad could not be effective without two other complimentary components, a competent work force to operate them, and a modern and reliable Nuclear Command, Control and Communications ( NC3 ) network.

Lt. Gen Jack Weinstein, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration recently pointed out that nuclear modernization efforts cannot be strictly focused on subs, bombers, and missiles, but must also be concerned about modernizing the NC3 system, causing him to remark “The Triad also means space capability.” The Nuclear Posture Review reported that many of the components of the current NC3 system are antiquated technology which has not been modernized in almost 30 years. 

Sandra Erwin reports that the Air Force does have programs under way to modernize communications and early-warning satellites, but integration of these new systems will be very complex, and highly trained work force will be needed to build the systems.

Interestingly, Lt. Gen Weinstein has confidence in the military’s ability to train their people to operate these systems, but he expresses concern about educating the civilian workforce which will also need to be involved.

Applied Technology Institute (ATI) can play an important role in preparing the workforce which will support the future nuclear Triad since it offers a diverse collection of courses which cover all of the domains where the Triad will need to operate; air, sea, and space. Please consider looking at the current set of course offerings at ATI and consider taking some of our courses to better position yourself to make significant contributions to solving the complex problems associated with Strategic Deterrence in the future.  

 

Launch Time

As a Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. The rocket will boost a Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 5:55 p.m. EDT. On its 11th commercial resupply services mission to the space station, Dragon will bring up 6,000 pounds of supplies, such as the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, instrument to study the extraordinary physics of neutron stars.
A Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

In less than a week, on April 16, a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket will launch NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ), and I will be watching. I am not going to be able to break away from my daily grind to go to Florida for the launch, but I will still have a really good view of the launch.  My plan it use an App that I recently loaded onto my Iphone.  “Launch 321” is an Augmented Reality (AR ) app created by USA TODAY that will give me a front row seat for the launch.  As explained by US TODAY, this app “fuses traditional Space Coast Rocket Launch coverage with augmented reality.”

April 16 will be my first live launch with “Launch 321”, but I am planning on a pretty spectacular experience.

Don’t wait until launch day to load the app because there lots of features in the App that allow you to learn about pre-launch procedures so that you will be ready to take full advantage of the app on the launch day, and future launch days.

Check back on this blog after April 16 and I will share what the experience was like.

You can read more about the App in the USA Today article.

And, if you want to learn more about Space, Satellite & Aerospace topics, consider taking one of the many courses offered by ATI. A complete list of offerings can be found here.

My Name Is Going to the Sun! What About Yours?

Capture2CaptureNASA’s Parker Solar Probe — designed, built and managed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) — will launch in summer 2018 and travel to our star on a historic mission to “touch the Sun.” Now you can get on board and be a part of this voyage of extreme exploration.

NASA is giving everyone across the world the opportunity to submit their names for a journey to the Sun. Names will be added to a microchip that will fly aboard Parker Solar Probe as it makes its way from Earth to the Sun — the first mission to ever do so.

Along for the ride will be a revolutionary heat shield, which will protect the spacecraft from soaring temperatures as it plunges into the corona to get the first close-up view of Earth’s star.

Name submissions will be accepted until April 27, 2018. Learn more and add your name to the mission here: http://go.nasa.gov/HotTicket.

Contact me for more information at
jim.jenkins@aticourses.com

Also, see http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/index.php#newscenter

China’s Tiangong-1 space station could come crashing down to Earth before the end of March

27250243350_5563fbc72b_oApplied Technology Institute (ATIcourses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace. We beive the information below will be of interest to our readers.

It’s now been several months since China admitted that it had completely lost control of its Tiangong-1 space station, explaining that without the ability to adjust its position in orbit the huge manmade object will eventually come falling back down to Earth. In late 2017 the Chinese government offered a very rough forecast of when the satellite could collide with our planet, and now it’s looking more and more like March might be the month when it happens.

According to the latest information from the European Space Agency,the space station is now expected to come tumbling down somewhere between March 24th and April 19th.  ESA says it’s more likely that the object will land somewhere in the northern latitudes, meaning the northern US, parts of Spain, Portugal, Greece, China, much of the Middle East, and a handful of other countries.

The space station, whose name means “Heavenly Palace,” will be subjected to the full brunt of friction from Earth’s atmosphere and, thankfully, will be incinerated almost completely before any remaining debris finally lands on the surface. However, it’s still possible that the spacecraft could cause some problems if it lands on hard ground, especially in a populated area.

Some of the material on board the space station is indeed toxic, including chemicals used in rocket fuel, and China has noted that if that material finds its way to the ground it could be hazardous to anyone who stumbles upon it.

That being said, the odds of any debris actually landing near you or, even worse, striking you is incredibly small. Space debris experts put the chances of being struck by space debris at around a million times less likely than winning the lottery.

In any case, the ESA and other space agencies will be keeping a close eye on the space station and will hopefully be able to forecast its fall from the sky with greater accuracy as the day draws near.

Read more.

The US Air Force Plans to buy new jam-resistant GPS satellites

Applied Technology Institute offers the following courses on the dates below:

GPS & International Competitors

23-Apr-18 26-Apr-18 Columbia MD

We think the news below will be of interest to our readers.

The U.S. Air Force wants 22 new GPS satellites that are built to resist jamming and electronic interference. It would spend around $2 billion on the new satellites for the GPS 3 constellation in the next five years. The production of all 22 satellites is expected to be worth as much as $10 billion

“The GPS 3 that we are moving toward is more jam-resistant, and it is intended to be able to operate in a contested environment,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said.

The constellation of 31 GPS 2 satellites currently in orbit will remain operational until at least 2021. The Air Force has already ordered 10 GPS 3 satellites from Lockheed Martin. But, the Air Force has now decided it needs to quit buying up those GPS 3 satellites and go back to the drawing board.

Lockheed Martin will most likely bid for the contract to build the new jam-resistant satellites, but other contractors like Boeing and Northrop Grumman are expected to try as well. Development of the new satellites would take place in 2019.

JPL’s Dressmaker

Did you read the recent story about JPL “dressmaker” Lien Pham who makes thermal blankets for spacecraft? The materials, methods, and techniques are an amazing combination of traditional and very techy.

“What kind of materials go into a thermal blanket?

We use multiple layers of Mylar films with Dacron netting to separate them. For the outermost surface, we use Kapton film or Beta cloth, which resist temperature change.

We also use gold Kapton, which is good for conducting electricity. There’s a black material called carbon field Kapton. That’s for a charged environment, with a lot of electricity. It dissipates the charge.

What Kind of tools do you use?

We use commercial sewing machines designed for thick material such as denim. It has a walking feed that pulls in the material and cuts our sewing thread automatically. We also use a variety of hand tools like a measuring scale, scissors, surgical scalpels, hole punches, a heat gun, leather punch and weight scale.”

BBC.com article on Lian Pham and the JPL seamstresses explains

“Nasa hires women with sewing experience for a reason. When engineers couldn’t figure out how to work with Teflon – the non-stick material that coats many saucepans – they were at a loss.

Lien suggested folding the edge of the material and sewing it like a hem, as she would with a shirt at home.

It worked.”

Science News Technology Space NASA Artificial Intelligence Weird Science Science of Sci-Fi Giant Exoplanet With Carbon Monoxide Atmosphere ‘Defies All Expectations’

9ba340aa7f1de69ad6ad7f6ace4d13f9_LApplied Technology Institute (ATICourses) is offering a brand new Exoplanets course.  The news below could be of interest to our readers.

This is the kind of discovery that reminds you just how little weactually know about space. Scientists have found a mysterious exoplanet 10 times the size of Jupiter—and no one can quite explain it.
Wrapped in carbon monoxide and water-free, scientists located inhospitable exoplanet WASP-18b with the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes about 330 light years from Earth.
The exoplanet might be far away, but it’s a giant in its neck of the woods—it has the mass of approximately 10 Jupiters.
NASA researchers note it has a stratosphere, as does Earth, but unlike our stratosphere, where the abundance of ozone absorbs UV radiation and helps protect our planet, WASP-18b’s is loaded with carbon monoxide—a rare discovery.
“We find evidence for a strong thermal inversion in the dayside atmosphere of the highly irradiated hot Jupiter WASP-18b…based on emission spectroscopy from Hubble Space Telescope secondary eclipse observations and Spitzer eclipse photometry,” researcher Kyle Sheppard said.

“The derived composition and profile suggest that WASP-18b is the first example of both a planet with a non-oxide driven thermal inversion and a planet with an atmospheric metallicity inconsistent with that predicted for Jupiter-mass planets.”

WASP-18b is a “hot Jupiter,” which unlike the gas giants of our solar system that are positioned with distance from the Sun, are especially close. Our Jupiter takes 12 years to orbit the sun once, WASP-18b circles its star every 23 hours.

NASA Wants Your Help to Name a Space Object, What Could Go Wrong

quaoar_animation_dark_crsub_circleThere’s a small, icy object floating at the outer edge of our Solar System, in the messy Kuiper belt. Or it could be two objects, astronomers are not sure.

But NASA is on track to find out more, as that object has been chosen as the next flyby target for the New Horizons spacecraft – the same probe that gave us incredible photos of Pluto in 2015. And now they want your help to give that target a catchy name.

Currently, the enigmatic Kuiper belt object is designated 2014 MU69, but that’s just the provisional string of letters and numbers any newly discovered object gets.

“Yes, we’re going to give 2014 MU69 a real name, rather than just the “license plate” designator it has now,” New Horizons’ principal investigator Alan Stern wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

“The details of how we’ll name it are still being worked out, but NASA announced a few weeks back that it will involve a public naming contest.”

And now, folks, our time to shine has arrived.

NASA has finally extended an invitation for people to submit their ideas for a name, although they note this is not going to be the officially-official name just yet, but rather a nickname to be used until the flyby happens.

The team at New Horizons already have a bunch of ideas prepared, which now form the basis of the naming campaign, and anyone can already vote for those.

Amongst current choices put forward by the team are Z’ha’dum – a fictional planet from the TV series Babylon 5; Camalor – a fictional city actually located in the Kuiper belt according to Robert L. Forward’s novel Camelot 30K; and Mjölnir – the name of Norse thunder god Thor’s epic hammer.

One of the most interesting aspects of MU69 is that we’re not even sure whether the object is one body or two – telescope observations have hinted it could actually be two similarly-sized bodies either in close mutual orbit, or even stuck together.

Read more.

NASA Center Directors Launch World Series Bragging Rights Duel

nasa-dodgers-blog-image

Following up on our last blog and from a Press Release posted Thursday, October 26, 2017, by the JetPropulsion Laboratory:

When it comes to space exploration, many believe America must make a choice between having human “Astros” exploring the solar system or using robotic probes as planet or asteroid “Dodgers.”

NASA sees both approaches as essential to expanding the human presence in the universe. But that doesn’t mean that two of NASA’s centers can’t engage in a little friendly rivalry when it comes to their hometown baseball teams competing in the 2017 World Series.

Houston is home to both the American League’s Houston Astros and NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), the hub of human spaceflight, while the Los Angeles area is home to both the National League’s L.A. Dodgers and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, one of the pillars of robotic space and planetary missions.

On behalf of their respective centers, JSC Director Ellen Ochoa, who actually is a native Californian, and JPL Director Michael Watkins, who actually is a University of Texas at Austin alumnus, have decided the World Series deserves to be the subject of a little bragging rights wager.

So, here’s the contest: If the Houston Astros win the best-of-seven series, Watkins will have to wear an Astros jersey for a day. If the series goes the L.A. Dodgers’ way, Ochoa will wear a Dodgers jersey.

“JSC is proud to be a citizen of Houston, and, as such, we are proud of all the city’s accomplishments and its great spirit,” Ochoa said. “And our team is actually named after our space center, so I’m happy to be able to show support for that, and glad to have a little fun in challenging a center that, except for this week, is our close partner in exploration. I am looking forward to seeing a little bit of Houston at JPL soon.”

“JPLers are proud to work and live in the Los Angeles area here in beautiful Southern California,” Watkins said. “We love the chance to show our support for this great city, and for the great baseball tradition of the Dodgers. This is a nice way to have a little fun with our good friends at JSC and we hope to see some Dodger blue there shortly.”

When it comes to the reality of spaceflight, the two centers have collaborated and compared notes on a variety of space projects for nearly half a century. NASA understands that robotic exploration has always been a precursor to human space exploration and that more and more, we see robots and humans flying together, helping each other explore. Rather than rivals, JSC and JPL are close teammates in expanding our knowledge of the universe and increasing the limits humanity explores.

But in the meantime, JSC invites all Astros fans to “Orange Out” and JPL invites all Dodgers fans to “Bleed Blue.” May the best team win!