December 14, 2018: Weekly Spatial Resolutions

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Small Satellites are useful. And there are more than ever. 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! Image from NASA site.

The problems with small satellites – and what Australia’s Space Agency can do to help

I’m still having difficulty not linking the increase of interest in space in Australia with the launch activities happening in New Zealand. It almost seems as if the nation woke up once the Kiwis started hosting U.S. small satellite launch company Rocket Lab–and then the company started launching rockets from New Zealand.

But maybe I’m just looking for a connection in the coincidental timing.

Like big satellites, small satellites have problems, too. The linked article goes through a few of them. There’s nothing new there, although the tone of the article seems more level-headed than most.

Virgin Galactic reaches space for first time

I think Virgin Galactic would be surprised by this AFP headline. VG managed to help win the Ansari Xprize in 2004 when the company sponsored Scaled Composites and Mojave Aerospace Ventures’ SpaceShipOne to reach space–which it did. And then SpaceShipOne did it again a few days later. But it is easy to be excited by something like this and just get a story out. And AFP isn’t the only saying that about SpaceShipTwo’s successful test flight.

Now if only the company would somehow fly from someplace–anyplace–else than from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

XYO Network Headed to Space – Definitive Agreement Executed to Bring XYO Into Orbit With Launch of Blockchain Satellite on SpaceX Falcon 9

I’ve seen the press release’s title above as headlines for a few sites. But what does it mean. Blockchain use here on Earth is primarily known for use with crypto-currencies, such as Bitcoin. There are many bright idea folks out there talking about the many things they can do with blockchain. But those ideas don’t seem to be getting traction. Part of it may be the general public’s nonfamiliarity and caution regarding something shrouded in lots of tech- and bizdev-speak.

It also doesn’t make sense to me that a technology that’s having general difficulty being adopted for public use on Earth (aside from crypto-currency) will be more desirable using satellites in space. Reading the press release, XYO’s testing and plans sound interesting, seeming to be ready to deliver better geolocational accuracy than GPS with added security. If that’s the case, then the business-case seems better suited to military needs, at least initially.

cat kitty GIF
Sometimes articles like the one linked below are like this cat. Image from Giphy.

CIA’s former head of science and tech: U.S. falling behind in new space race

There are interesting things going on in China. Things that are likely very scary to many Americans. China’s social engineering efforts through technology and software point to ways that should provide glimpses to U.S. citizens about just what governments can do with all of a person’s data. Think on it: if China is willing to go through those efforts to get citizen compliance, what is that country willing to do to get non-citizens’ compliance? Maybe buy Facebook data?

But I don’t know if that equates to China and the U.S. being in a space race, with the U.S. falling behind. If anything, there are a lot of stories from China talking about the nation’s rocket manufacturers trying to catch up with SpaceX. That doesn’t sound like the U.S. is behind. Chinese satellites, especially the experimental ones, look interesting, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate China’s satellite manufacturers are years ahead of U.S. satellite manufacturers.

Also, giving more money to the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t guarantee wise spending on space. Probably the best example of why the Department of Defense shouldn’t get more money for space is GPS OCX–GPS’ “Next Generation” system. The only reason more taxpayer money is being thrown at that is because it’s the only system of its kind, because a lot of money has been thrown at it already, and because of defense. Two of those reasons aren’t fantastic at all.

But, China launched a lot this year, and is ahead of U.S. launch service providers. By that metric, yes, China is on top. But that is not the only metric.

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