July 6, 2018: Weekly Spatial Resolutions

Whether staking claims or making claims, everything’s fair game. This site contains my opinions and ideas only, not the opinions or ideas of any organization I work for. It’s my idea playground, and I’m inviting you in. Welcome!

China Looks to Build New Powerful Rocket and Leave NASA in Its Exhaust

Plans for rockets in China are the same as plans for rockets in the United States–just plans. But this article is strange, because it seems to focus on NASA’s plans, which are continuously shifting further into the future than originally planned. China isn’t the only country talking about big rockets that would take on NASA’s Space Launch System. There is at least one other with “heavy” ambitions.

Russia has constantly talked about building super-heavy launchers, but has also continued postponing and scaling back rocket capabilities. Some of the later Russian rocket plans have a lift capability to low Earth orbit (LEO) of 108 metric tons (scheduled for 2033), but earlier plans talked of some Russian rockets potentially lifting as much as 190 metric tons into LEO. Right now, in spite of plans, Russia is facing bigger problems with its space industry and the country is unlikely to stay on schedule for the rockets, and less likely to even build them.

And then there are the commercial companies–primarily from the United States–whose plans the writer ignored. The writer instead compared China’s planned rocket to current U.S. commercial rocket inventory. But to ignore plans from companies like SpaceX conveniently shapes narratives, I suppose. SpaceX’s leaders seem to think the company can churn out a “Big Falcon Rocket” (BFR) for launch by 2019. Musk noted BFR will likely be able to lift payloads with a mass of 170 metric tons to LEO. That seems to be a planned capability worth comparing with China’s planned capability.

But, for all the revealed plans, the category, “vaporware,” probably applies to most of them. If China can make these plans happen, however,–on time and on budget–the country’s space industry will have dominated NASA in more than one way.

Russia to promote its space food worldwide

Tube food. No good can come of this.

New England stakes its claim in New Space

Watch out for them thar claim-jumpers! I expect to see these New Space New Englanders in ’49er mining gear.

An article talking about a few U.S. “me-too” companies in the New England region with ambitions for taking some of that yummy, yummy, New Space pie. The reason the paper might be highlighting these companies is that there’s not much they’ve accomplished, yet, which means the public hasn’t heard of them. It would be good to see that situation change.

The description of Analytical Space’s service sounds intriguing, and describes taking on a service normally provided by reliable but antiquated government satellites. Again, there’s not much to see from that company yet.

Defense minister vows to help JAXA clean up ‘space debris’

This headline conjures a front page picture of the Japanese Defense Minister with a few JAXA officials–all triumphantly holding up those little litter pickers. One picker, naturally, would be holding a piece of a solar panel. Great photo op!

Bangladesh Joins The Space Age – Analysis

A bit more about Bangladesh’s hopes about Bangabandhu-1, the nation’s geosynchronous communications satellite. Recommend skepticism with this article, as the writer optimistically describes the nation as a “democracy.” Maybe…technically? Some observers disagree. The country’s citizens tend to be very poor. No snowflakes in Bangladesh, I think.

Not surprising is this description of Bangladesh’s citizens’ attitudes to the costs of the satellite: “Most Bangladeshis are not well informed about the advantages or disadvantages of satellite technology, and the investment fuels political divisions.” Even in a country like the United States, in which there are plenty of initiatives to inform people about the advantages of space technology, many citizens still get confused.

Let’s be a little clear about this, though. This is not an indication that Bangladesh is beefing up science and technology education for its citizens. Thales Alenia, a European company, manufactured the satellite. And SpaceX, an American company launched it. While the analysis seems to hint that Bangabandhu-1 is Bangladesh’s step into the space age, it’s a “leased step,” a step that didn’t create a space industry for the country, and one that doesn’t build on the nation’s most useful and versatile asset–the brainpower of its citizens. However, the satellite might still be considered a step.

Congress takes smart steps to make space launch reusability the norm

I guess the news from this opinion piece is the fact that Congress is able to take smart steps at all?

As usual, the focus is on the wrong thing, though, so maybe not so smart. SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 pricing is relatively inexpensive because those rockets were designed to be inexpensive…not because of reusability. And focusing on reusability, using it as a criteria to select a launcher, is also not fantastic or smart. The military should just focus on getting the launches as inexpensively as possible, as quickly as needed, with little personnel investment on their end. See? Writing a simple requirement isn’t so hard…

Yes we’ve got a space agency – but our industry needs ‘Space Prize Australia’

Australians would like a part of the space industry pie…more than the satellite television subscriptions its citizens have been paying for, anyway. As of five days ago, or so, the nation now has a space agency, called the “Australian Space Agency.”

The author’s point in this article is that while those actions are all well and good, why not get make the space interest a national pastime for Australians? Enter, Space Prize Australia, which takes some inspiration from other competitions, such as the “Great Air Race,” or “Ansari X Prize.” Sounds like an inexpensive but maybe worthwhile idea to explore.

How Satellites Avoid Attacks And Space Junk While Circling The Earth

While it would be awesome to think there’s an actual person with a flight stick conducting evasion tactics with satellites, avoiding attacks and space junk is a little more complicated and boring than that. Math, meetings, and anxiety are more often the scenario when talking about collision avoidance.

And while the topic of space debris needs discussion, this article appears to be continuing attempts at “chicken-littling” the space debris problem–instead of rational discussion. Let’s just call this article an ad for Analytical Graphics.

And can we stop referring to “Gravity” for goodness sakes when talking about space debris? The movie is five years old…

Russian city Samara, football and the space race

Some people following the space industry know about Russia’s Samara Space, primarily responsible for building Soyuz rockets, which still launch now.

But it’s always interesting to see how these places are faring. Apparently, the factories in these cities had soccer teams (BBC calls soccer “football”) to play against each other, including the space industry factories. As the factories have been failing, the soccer fields turn to a neglected state.

A good story, some interesting pictures.


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