Blue Origin and the BE-4

An interesting decision occurred on Sept 27, 2018, when the United Space Alliance – the Lockheed Martin – Boeing consortium that launches many US payloads into space, chose Blue Origin’s BE-4 as the main rocket for their next generation Vulcan rocket. The decision is another case where an ‘upstart’ space company, this one backed by Billionaire Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame, won out over ‘traditional’ space contractors, in this case the successor’s to Rocketdyne, the storied developer of the F-1 and J-2 engines that powered the Apollo era Saturn V. While not unexpected, the decision in favor of Blue Origin is interesting in that their BE-4 engine was considered more mature and more advanced than the other offerings. this decision is another one of the developments in the Space field in the last decade that indicate we are seeing a tectonic shift away from traditional contractors, and the traditional way of doing things, changes that promise a much faster pace of advancement and lowering of costs for Space exploration in the near future. – Kurt C

Japan’s Hayabusa asteroid rovers send back first footage – CNN

This is an exciting accomplishment for Japan and JAXA, who partners with NASA on several projects, including the ISS.

“Japan’s intrepid, hopping asteroid rovers have sent back footage and high-resolution imagery of the surface of the celestial body they have been exploring, according to tweets from Japan’s space agency.”
— Read on edition-m.cnn.com/2018/09/28/asia/japan-hayabusa-rovers-first-video-intl/index.html

Meeting Sunday, September 30, 2018

All!

The end of the month is coming!

Sept 30 is next week. Let’s all get together at Norma’s at 6:00 PM, Sunday, near 15th street and Rt 75 in Plano, to discuss Space and Mars!

Opportunity looks like it is gone. It was an enormously successful mission that lasted way beyond expectations.

I’d like to run down the results from the National Mars Society Conference. It was a great conference, and a lot of exciting things are happening! We saw great talks ranging from practical, near term small scale nuclear power for space settlements, to Mars oriented space suit designs, SpaceX’s latest plans for BFR and Mars, and the exciting opportunities that brings us in the Mars Society. There was much more, and I wish we all could have shared it together.

See you Sunday!

Kurt

When a Mars Simulation Goes Wrong – The Atlantic

Human habitats are complex systems in which unexpected outcomes can and will happen. We should never expect future Mars missions to be immune.


A recent mission atop a Hawaiian volcano shows humans still have much to learn before they set foot on another world.
— Read on www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/06/mars-simulation-hi-seas-nasa-hawaii/553532/

Meeting Announcement 2018-06-24

All:

Meeting this Sunday, NORMA’s, rt 75 and 15th street, plano, Sunday, June 24, 6pm. We are back to NORMA’s, and our usual new time of 6pm.

We have a recordbreaking exciting URC to talk about, and the upcoming Moon Day!  I’ve confirmed that we are on track for our usual position at the Frontiers of Flight Musuem.

Lots going on in the Space world, including open discussion about the viability of SLS vs ‘the new guys’ for manned missions to Mars!

See you on Sunday!

Kurt

Opportunity in Danger

If you have not already heard, the Opportunity Rover is caught in a very bad dust storm that has very seriously degraded the power generating capability of its solar panels. It is likely experiencing a low power fault right now, so this is the most serious power event Oppy has experienced in the last 14 years of the mission. There is some hope that the dust in the air will help to keep the rover from getting below its minimum operating temperature & so it may yet be able to wake up once the panels can collect enough energy to come out of the low power mode.

Mark

Here’s What We Know About The Robots That Might Build Our First Homes on the Moon

iSpace is a good candidate to lead us to the moon, but it isn’t clear what are their plans, and $90 million isn’t all that much in space.

“Private companies are caught up in a race to the Moon. And they seem to agree on one thing: robot-built structures will help us colonize it.”
— Read on futurism.com/robots-build-lunar-base/