Thursday, February 22, 2024

Short Takes – 2-22-24 – Space Geek Edition

Varda Space, Rocket Lab nail first-of-its-kind spacecraft landing in Utah. article. Pull quote: “The first-of-its-kind reentry and landing is also a major win for Rocket Lab, which partnered with Varda on the mission. Rocket Lab hosted Varda’s manufacturing capsule inside its Photon satellite bus; through the course of the mission, Photon provided power, communications, attitude control and other essential operations. At the mission’s conclusion, the bus executed a series of maneuvers and de-orbit burns that put the miniature drug lab on the proper reentry trajectory. The final engine burn was executed shortly after 4 p.m. EST.”

Intuitive Machines, NASA Science Progress Toward Moon Landing. blog post. Pull quote: “All powered NASA science instruments on board have completed their transit checkouts, received data, and are operating as expected, including: LN-1 (Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator)NDL (Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing), RFMG (Radio Frequency Mass Gauge)ROLSES (Radio-wave Observations at the Lunar Surface of the Photoelectron Sheath)SCALPSS (Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies). Since the LRA (Laser Retroreflector Array) instrument is a passive experiment designed for the lunar surface, it cannot conduct any operations in transit.”

U.S. Moon Landing: How to Watch and What to Know. article. Pull quote: “Although it is a private mission, the main customer is NASA, which paid $118 million for the delivery of six instruments to the moon. NASA TV will stream coverage of the landing beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday.”

Jeff Bezos’s Big Rocket Moves Into View and Closer to Launch. article (free). Pull quote: “Mr. Limp is not quite as certain that a second New Glenn launch will get off the ground this year. “It’s hard to look around that corner because you are going to learn so much from the first launch,” he said. “I would just say, I’ll be super happy if we get one launch this year, for sure.””

Capturing a comet's tail to keep Earth safe from the sun. article. Pull quote: “Comets are sometimes referred to as cosmic 'windsocks' as they can indicate the direction and strength of the solar wind in space, similar to how a windsock shows the direction and strength of the wind. Images of the comet will enable the research team to record data about solar wind conditions local to the comet. If the tail detaches from the comet or appears to wobble, the team can determine there was an increase in solar wind activity nearby.”

ERS-2 reenters Earth’s atmosphere over Pacific Ocean. article. Pull quote: “ERS-2’s reentry was ‘natural’. All of its remaining fuel was depleted during deorbiting to reduce the risk of an internal malfunction causing the satellite to break up into pieces while still at an altitude used by active satellites. As a result, it was not possible to control ERS-2 at any point during its reentry and the only force driving its descent was unpredictable atmospheric drag.”

From Southwest Regional Spaceport to Spaceport America. article. Pull quote: “Spaceport America began as New Mexico’s dream to integrate and promote its space industry to grow the state’s economy. Instead, it got lost in this detour into suborbital space tourism. The best hope for revitalizing the New Mexico space industry and its search for expansion lies in a return to the original vision, operating the spaceport as the flagship of an integrated New Mexico strategy for space rather than as an isolated facility lost in the vastness of the Jornada del Muerto.”

Under pressure -- space exploration in our time. commentary. Pull quote: “Hanlon explains why protecting historic sites on the Moon and elsewhere in space not only preserves the past, but also provides a vital foundation for the future. Hanlon explores the gaps in space law and, in particular, she asks, "What are the differing obligations space law imposes on scientific and commercial activities, as well as governmental and private actors." Hanlon anticipates that space law, ethics, policy, and treaties will take on an increasingly higher strategic priority as nations seek to avoid potential conflicts.”

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