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Category Archives: Space Exploration

Presidential Message on Space Exploration Day, 2020 –

Posted: July 21, 2020 at 12:01 pm

  1. Presidential Message on Space Exploration Day, 2020
  2. AI's Role In Space Exploration  Forbes
  3. Space Exploration Day 2020: History, Significance and NASAs role in fulfilling John F. Kennedys goal  The Financial Express
  4. Help NASA Design a Toilet for Artemis Astronauts on the Moon  HamletHub
  5. Russia isnt keen on Artemis, sides with China for Moon exploration  BGR
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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Celebrate Space Exploration Day with a look at the 1st lunar landing [photo gallery] (July 20) – US Embassy in Georgia

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Celebrate Space Exploration Day by looking up at the sky on July 20 and reflecting on human achievements in space andall thats to come.

On July 20, 1969, U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moons surface. Fellow astronaut Michael Collins flew the command module.

Here is a look back at the first moon landing:

All of the Apollo 11 crew had flown at least one space mission. Pictured from left: Neil Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, module pilot; Edwin E. Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, on March 30, 1969. (NASA/AP Images)

Neil Armstrong, waving in front, heads for the van that will take the crew to the rocket for launch to the moon at Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16, 1969. ( AP Images)

The 363-foot Saturn V rocket carrying the Apollo 11 crew launches July 16, 1969, from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA/AP Images)

Left: The Chicago Cubs (foreground), Philadelphia Phillies and fans in attendance bow their heads in a moment of silent prayer in Philadelphia on July 20, 1969, hoping for the safe voyage of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. ( Bill Ingraham/AP Images)

Right: Berliners stand in front of a TV shop and watch the Apollo 11 space mission on television July 16, 1969, in Germany. ( Edwin Reichert/AP Images)

Thats one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, said astronaut Neil Armstrong as he became the first human to set foot on the moon, as shown in the image from television. (NASA/AP Photo)

Left: Buzz Aldrin leaves a footprint on the moons Sea of Tranquility. Photographs of the footprints were actually part of a planned experiment by Aldrin to study the nature of the lunar dust and the effects of pressure on the surface. (Buzz Aldrin/NASA/AP Images)

Right: Neil Armstrong took this picture of Buzz Aldrin, which shows a reflection of Armstrong and the Lunar Module in Aldrins visor. (Neil Armstrong/NASA/AP Images)

Left: This photo of Earthrise over the lunar horizon, taken July 20, 1969, from the orbiting command module, is one of the most famous images captured by the space program, although even the astronauts cannot remember who actually took the photo. (NASA)

Right: After lifting off from the lunar surface, the lunar module made its rendezvous with the command module. The Eagle docked with Columbia, and the lunar samples were brought aboard. (NASA/AP Images)

Left: The three astronauts and a Navy frogman, all wearing biological isolation garments, awaiting helicopter pickup and transport to the USS Hornet after the lunar module splashed down about 1,504 kilometers southwest of Hawaii at 16:50 UTC on July 24, 1969. They stayed in quarantine for three weeks. (NASA)

Right: NASA flight controllers at the Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston celebrate the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. (NASA/AP Images)

By U.S. Embassy Tbilisi | 20 July, 2020 | Topics: History, News, Science & Tech, U.S. Agencies | Tags: engineering, NASA, science, space technology

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How Much Is SpaceX Worth and How Does It Make Money? – Barron’s

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With astronauts Bob and Doug floating in orbit, Morgan Stanleys Adam Jonas, along with other research staff at the Wall Street broker, tried to answer the question: What is SpaceXs valuation?

SpaceX is, of course, the private company that launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurleyaffectionately referred to as Bob and Doug by NASA Mission Controlinto space. The pair were the first NASA astronauts to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 and the first to be carried on a commercial built spacecraft sitting atop a commercially built rocket.

Its an incredible feat for the company founded by Tesla (ticker: CEO) founder Elon Musk in 2002. Whats more amazing is the rocket launched was captured for reuse and the spacecraft will be reused as well.

Bob and Doug are slated to come back to Earth on Aug. 2, 2020.

SpaceXs unique technology makes the company difficult to value. And because SpaceX isnt publicly traded, analysts dont have all the data they normally would to build models and predict a financial future.

Both problems are reflected in Morgan Stanleys valuation of SpaceX. We update our hypothetical [discounted cash flow] valuation range for SpaceX, valuing the company between [roughly] $200 million and $175 billion, wrote the team of analysts in a Monday research report.

(Discounted cash flow is a valuation technique that estimates all the cash a company can generate in the future and determines what that cash is worth today.)

Thats a wide range of outcomes. Lets look at Morgan Stanleys base case, which values the company at $50 billion, making it one of the top 10 publicly traded aerospace and defense franchises.

Impressive, but its a stealth $50 billion. Many public equity investors arent sure what SpaceX does to generate value beyond its contracts with the government for space launch. Those alone cant account for $50 billion.

Its space launch business alone wouldnt, either. We view SpaceX as four companies, writes Morgan Stanley. First, SpaceX launches things into space. Second, SpaceX creates Starlink satellites. The company, eventually, plans to offer space-based high speed internet connectivity for a fee using those satellites. SpaceXs third business is travel: ultra fast, rocket-based travel from any point on earth to another. Its last business is deep space exploration.

The majority of the companys value in Morgan Stanleys base case comes from SpaceXs Starlink satellites. That business, according to Morgan Stanley, is worth about $42 billion. Its launch business is a $1 billion business and its travel business is worth about $9 billion, according to their research. Deep space exploration, for now, is valued at zero. The difference between $50 billion and those figures is cash on hand, about $3.4 billion, and the cost required to develop a hypersonic flying machine.

Starlink will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to develop but, based on Morgans math, the business model will work with a subscription fee as low as $50 a monthcomparable with land-based internet providers. Morgan estimates up to $24 billion in Starlink annual free cash flow by 2040.

While investors cant own SpaceX stock, they can buy a basket of stocks to play similar trends.

Virgin Galactic (ticker: SPCE) is working on hypersonic travel and space tourism. Its valued at $4.5 billion. Morgan Stanleys Jonas covers Galactic stock, rating shares the equivalent of Buy. He has a $24 price target for shares, close to where the stock is trading at currently.

To own a space launch company, look at Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD). Aerojet supplies rocket components to defense and government entities. Its enterprise value is $2.7 billion.

Starlink is difficult to replicate but there are satellite communications providers such as Maxar Technologies (MAXR) and Iridium Communications (IRDM). Those companies arent worth what Morgan Stanley suggests Starlink is worth and they dont do exactly the same thing.

Finally, to invest in deep space, consider defense stalwart Lockheed Martin (LMT), the company that built the Hubble Space Telescope.

The five stocks in Barrons SpaceX basket are up about 27%, collectively, year to date, better than comparable returns of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500.

Space, it appears, is hot again. SpaceX hopes it stays that way.

Write to Al Root at

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Space exploration can pave the way for sustainability on Earth – The National

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Millions of kilometres away from Earth is an amber-coloured planet called Mars, which has sparked the curiosity of multiple generations. To some it is a sphere of hope, while to others it is a new land that humans could colonise one day. Pictures of slopes and an ice slab suggest Mars may still have a vital life source water. This has prompted one to ask whether the "Red Planet" could be the manifestation of what Earth might become, if we do not take care of our home.

Back in 1972, the late Sheikh Zayed was given a piece of the Moon by then US president Richard Nixon. Looking back at those pictures, which date to before the Apollo 17 space mission, and now, only a few decades later, seeing Emirati engineers taking part in an UAE-driven mission to Mars, shows what a giant leap forward this relatively young nation has taken. This has proven to be an even prouder moment with the project of a young Emirati student, Alia Al Mansoori, being tested at the International Space Agency.

We are building on the legacy of our Founding Father and continuing to realise his vision through the UAE Space Agency.

The vast potential of the global space industry, which currently stands at $350 billion and is projected to generate more than $1 trillion in revenue by 2040, has understandably captured the attention and interest of innovators and entrepreneurs in the Middle East. In fact, one of the worlds largest space insurance underwriting agencies is based right here in the UAE.

But the question remains, why should we invest in space exploration when we need to save our own planet from the impact of climate change? The answer is multi-pronged.

Technologies used in space give us a better understanding of the world we live in, and contribute to our scientific knowledge. They also help to prevent illegal poaching and over-fishing, and monitor endangered species.

Among the many companies sending satellites into orbit to prevent illicit trade, UnseenLabs, a space start-up based in France, uses electromagnetic technology and real-time data to track ships attempting to go undercover by shutting their identification systems.

We are depleting our fisheries, causing 90 per cent of fish stocks to be considered fully or over-exploited. Indeed, illegal fishing is a major issue, causing long-term ramifications for our oceans.

The Hope probe was placed inside thispayload fairing last week and was transferred to building where the rocket is kept. Courtesy:Shoma Watanbe

The launch pad is ready to receive the H-IIA rocket, which will deliver the Hope probe to space. It will take 30 to 40-minutes for the rocket to be transported to the launch pad. Courtesy:Yoshiaki Sakita

The payload fairing, which is holding the spacecraft, has been mounted on top of the rocket. The structure is meant to protect the probe fromdynamic pressure and aerodynamic heating it experiences during its launch into an atmosphere. Courtesy:Shoma Watanbe

The probe was already fuelled with 800kgs of hydrogen for its seven-month-long journey to Mars. Courtesy: Emirates Mars Mission

The H-IIA rocket that will carry the Hope probe into space. Dubai Twitter account

All launch viewing events in Tanegashima have been suspended as part of the Covid-19 safety measures. Signs have been up in all of popular spots, asking the public to keep a 3km distance from the Tanegashima Space Centre on launch day. Courtesy:Yoshiaki Sakita

The most popular launch viewing site is the Rocket Hill. It is a five-minute drive from the main building of the Tangashima Space Centre and offers a clear view of the launch. It remains closed to the public. The National

The free bus tour and exhibition at the Tanegashima Space Centre has also been suspended in efforts to contain the Covid-19 spread. Signs were placed outside of the centre, alerting the public. Courtesy:Yoshiaki Sakita

Engineersat the launch site in Tanegashima island, Japan.Courtesy: Emirates Mars Mission

The completed Hope spacecraft. It will study the lower and upper atmosphere of Mars. Courtesy: Emirates Mars Mission

Satellites roam around our galaxy, providing essential services, particularly in the domain of telecoms and digital services. They are also providing us with pictures showing us how ecosystems are changing. This, in turn, is helping to monitor a wide spectrum of environmental indicators, from meteorological forecasting to investigating specific problems, such as "algae blooms" a rapid accumulation of algae in water systems that affect marine life, carbon emissions and even water levels.

Over the next decade, the number of satellites in our galaxy is projected to increase fourfold. Companies paving the way in this sector include Elon Musks SpaceX, which has launched more than 60 satellites to date and aims to launch 12,000 by 2027, and Planet Labs, which has 120 active satellites orbiting and taking photographs of our planet.

We live in a data-driven world that is going to become even more important, with the rise of big data, data analytics and artificial intelligence. It is through orbiting space technologies that we are able to receive critical information essentially billions of data points which gives us the foresight to better deal with natural disasters and manage resources. That we can access this information is driven by community spirit, whereby much of what is being created is open-source.

As we introduce new technologies and continue on our journey of space exploration, I am hopeful that the world will collaborate on charting these new territories. We only have to look at the International Space Station to realise how much stronger we are when nations work together.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every nation in many profound ways. It has especially created an unprecedented global education emergency. A recent report published by the UK-based humanitarian organisation Save the Children highlighted an alarming statistic: almost 10 million children may never go back to school.

In an increasingly connected world, mega-constellations orbiting our planet have the ability to provide high-speed internet access, thereby offering a viable solution to the learning deficit. As societies adapt to the concept of e-learning and online classrooms become the norm, the combination of affordable internet services and access to technology could be the missing link in resolving this issue.

In a world with finite resources, we can learn about the efficiency of materials used by the space sector to weather harsh conditions and threats, such as ultraviolet rays and X-rays from the Sun, solar wind particle radiation, thermal cycling, space particles and atomic oxygen.

A study published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change has warned that the Middle East could become uninhabitable due to the effects of extreme temperature rises. By using materials normally utilised in space, we can build things to last and also learn to repair goods rather than dispose of them.

Products used in space have a myriad of purposes and, therefore, I believe we should focus on building a circular economy here on Earth. Researcher Mark Blenner, for instance, is studying how human waste can be used to create aircraft parts.

I am given to understand that futuristic water conservation technologies have been developed from space tech. The worlds first recirculating shower-head system, which conserves up to 90 per cent of water and 80 per cent of energy, is one example. This piece of technology could come in handy in water-scarce regions. With the right levels of investment, there is little reason to believe that it cannot be scaled-up.

Years ago, I met Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and the woman leading the charge for the UAEs Hope Mars probe. During our meeting, I had the opportunity to lift Martian sand with a glove. It was a fascinating experience.

At the time, she came across as an ambitious and inspirational figure, worthy of being looked up to by other women. Today I am proud to see many others like her making their presence felt in traditionally male-dominated fields. Its worth pointing out that three out of the five top aerospace companies are now headed by women.

True to its name, the UAE's Mars mission is already offering us hope for a more sustainable world. Just as importantly, it will encourage and empower future generations regardless of gender to explore the unknown. Let us all work together to protect our planet, because this home is all we have.

Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan is chief executive officer of Alliances for Global Sustainability

Updated: July 16, 2020 08:15 PM

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Emirates Mars Mission to begin journey to the red planet – CU Boulder Today

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The assembled Mars Hope probe sits in a clean room. (Credit: MBRSC/Ken Hutchison)

This month, researchers from Boulder and beyond will watch live as a slice of space exploration history launches from a pad on the Japanese island of Tanegashima.

TheEmirates Mars Mission (EMM) is slated to blast off aboard an H-IIA rocket. As soon as the weather in Japan behaves, whichit hasnt done recently, the event will mark the first step in the mission's 7-month-long journey to the red planetthe first voyage to another planet undertaken by the Arab world. The mission is led by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the United Arab Emirates.

How to watch the launch

The EMM launch has been delayed due to weather. Once a new launch time is confirmed, viewers can watch it live online.

Launch the Livestream

The EMM team is waiting for a clear weather window, said Omran Sharaf, project director for the mission, which we expect daily now.

The launch of the spacecraft, called the "Mars Hope probe," will also be a big moment for the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder. Since 2014, researchers at the institute have worked side-by-side with dozens of young scientists and engineers from the UAE to help them make this mission a reality.

Hope will capture the ebbs and flows of weather on Mars to a degree that wasnt possible before," said Daniel Baker, director of LASP. "Its a showcase for how space exploration has become an increasingly international endeavor."

Read the announcement from LASP

CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano applauded the efforts of the Colorado scientists and students who worked on the mission and their colleagues overseas.

This new Mars mission shows Colorados growing leadership in the aerospace industry, both here at home and around the world, DiStefano said. That our scientists and engineers can share their knowledge with the next generation of space pioneers across borders is inspiring.

For LASP, the Emirates Mars Mission is the latest step in more than 70 years spent exploring the solar system. For example, LASP is the lead research institute for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which arrived at Mars in 2014. Among other pursuits, the mission investigates how gases escape from the Martian atmosphere into space, leaving the planet with unusually thin air.

Hope science will be complementary to the science data gathered by MAVEN and a number of other orbital missions that have taken atmospheric measurements on the planet. The probe will enter into a unique orbit around Mars, allowing it to observe weather patterns at every point around the red planet and from the top to the bottom of its atmospheresomething that no mission from any country has ever done to date.

If theres a dust storm on Mars, changes in temperature, how do those impact rates of atmospheric escape? said Sarah Al Amiri, EMMs science lead, in last weeks press conference.

Designing a spacecraft to do all of that was no easy feat, said Pete Withnell, program manager for EMM at LASP.

To finish the project in just six years, the UAE partnered with LASP to assemble and test the spacecraft in facilities on the CU Boulder campus. The UAEs goal for the project was to build it not buy it, according to Sharaf.

Teams worked on both sides of the globe, both separately, and in extended trips and stays. The hands-on experience of building hardware happened primarily in Boulder, but team members experienced cultural exchanges and outdoor adventures in both locations.

The effort was a lesson in how people from different cultures can work together to complete a space mission on time and under budget. Knowledge transfer on the mission came in the form of hands-on learning through an integrated team approach with shared responsibilities.

There are multiple stories of Emirates engineers who started on the program with perhaps little experience in aerospace and ended up defending complex spacecraft subsystems and designs in front of seasoned review panels, Withnell said.

Withnell added that the team is confident that EMM will get the job done, but that wont make the next few weeks any less nerve-wracking. About an hour after the Hope Probe leaves its launch pad, the spacecraft will separate from its rocket and extend its solar panels. From there, it will begin making moves that will take it to Marsnot an easy target to hit from Earth.

Its equivalent to an archer hitting a 2-mm target 1 kilometer away, Withnell said. This is not for the faint of heart.

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President Trump congratulated the Americans on the Day of Cosmonautics – FREE NEWS

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The head of the White House noted that this year a new era in space exploration has begun for the US.

US President Donald Trump made a statement on the occasion of cosmonautics Day, which is celebrated in the US on July 20.

Today, our country is celebrating the important role that American space research plays in the history and character of our country, the President said. We honor our brave astronauts and space industry professionals both former and current-and commit to continue to play a leading role in space exploration and beyond.

This years celebration of cosmonautics day coincided with the beginning of a new era in human space exploration, continued Donald Trump. After a nine-year break, American astronauts again went to space from American soil on rockets created with a sense of pride by American workers. Also, the SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 was the first manned launch by the National Aeronautics and space administration (NASA), when for the first time in history, a commercial company sent people into orbit.

These monumental feats of the past year are a huge step forward in terms of reaching new heights in our space exploration efforts. To build on this momentum and confirm Americas position as a world leader in innovation and the worlds greatest space power, my administration has directed NASA to go to the moon again this time to stay and create a base of operators for the subsequent delivery of people to Mars, the President added.

As Trump recalled, within the framework of the NASA program Artemis, The United States will send the next man and first woman to the surface of the moon by 2024. Soon the Perseverance Rover will depart from the cosmodrome Kennedy to the Jezero crater on Mars, paving the way for our brave American astronauts who will one day fly there. Together with the Mars helicopter Ingenuity, we will try to fly to another world for the first time, discovering the secrets of the red planet, so that one day our great American flag will be installed there as a beacon of freedom and American creative spirit throughout the galaxy.

On Cosmonautics Day, we pay tribute to the legacy of national leadership in space and those who came before us, remembering those who sacrificed so much for the success of our country, and we promise to honor their achievements by continuing the noble cause of space exploration in the XXI century, the President stressed.

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Miners on the Moon | – Air & Space Magazine

Posted: at 12:01 pm

The moon is barren, but its not dry. In 2018, NASA announced scientists had found evidence of surface ice in the shadows of craters in the polar regions.

Those dark, frozen places beckon future explorers. Ice can be melted into water; water can produce hydrogen and oxygen; hydrogen and oxygen can be made into fuel for spacecraft venturing to the moon, Mars, and beyond.

Im fond of saying that water is the oil of space, just like oil and petroleum products on Earth, says George Sowers, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, who has 30 years of experience in the field of space transportation. You have diesel, you have various grades of gasoline, you can use it for creating plastics and all this other kind of stuff. In space, water can be used for all different kinds of propulsion demands, from low thrust to high thrust. It makes great radiation shielding. Its essential for life. You name it. I think the economy in space is going to run off of water.

Sowers isnt alone. A growing chorus of researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs say the surest path to the final frontier is paved with ice harvested from the moon. The consensus is that an ice house on the moon feeding a space-based fuel depot can be set up without exotic, sci-fi equipmentmuch of the technology can be adapted from terrestrial analogs or is already in industrial use.

To be sure, the moon isnt a hospitable place for mining. A lot of its ice is in dark, cold places. And the initial tasks of confirming the precise locations of the water and then launching the mining equipment up and out of Earths gravity well are daunting. But the payoff, in the form of a self-sustaining space economy, would be tremendous.

One reason that Sowers is optimistic about the prospects for lunar mining is that he has crunched the numbers. If you had a lunar propellant available, at the prices I think that it can be offered for, then the cost to go from Earth to the lunar surface would be reduced by a factor of three, he says. And thats just by refueling en route. The cost to go from Earth to the Lunar Gatewaya proposed small spacecraft that would orbit the moon and serve as living quarters and a transportation hubwould be reduced by a factor of two. Sowers saves the best for last. The cost to come back from the moon, he says, would be reduced by a factor of 70.

If a company were to set up a lunar mining operation, after 10 years of operation, Sowers estimates, it would see returns of between 10 percent and 30 percent, depending on whether government agencies kick in some of the funding.

Id love to see commercial [players] kind of take the lead, with support from NASA as a customer, says Sowers. But the very first thing that has to happen is that we have to prove that theres really ice there in the quantities that we think it is, that we need it to be. The most likely places to go ice prospecting are the permanently shadowed regions at the north and south poles that never receive direct sunlight.

Because the moon tilts very little on its spin axis (1.54 degrees, compared to the Earths 23.5 degrees), its polar regions are bathed in near-continuous sunlight, except for deep depressions, such as the bottoms of craters. Between two and three billion years ago, ice began accumulating in those cold dark pits. Some of it arrived from water-rich asteroids and comets crashing into the lunar surface. Another likely source was volcanic ventsduring the earliest years of the moons formationthat spewed gases, including water vapor. And some of it is created when hydrogen particles in the solar wind react with oxygen bound in lunar rocks, forming molecules of hydroxide and water.

Over the millennia, meteors and comets continued to bombard the moon, smashing the ice and churning up the soil, so that ice near the lunar surface now exists in the form of tiny grains mixed with regolith and sand.

At least, thats the theory. What little we know for certain about the location of lunar ice is based on just two surveys. In 2009, NASAs Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) launched an impactor that slammed into the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus crater near the moons south pole, kicking up a plume of debris that contained some 26 gallons of frozen water. NASA says the missions data revealed that there is perhaps as much as hundreds of millions of tons of frozen water on the moon, enough to make it an effective oasis for future explorers. Then, in 2018, a team of researchers examined data gathered by a NASA instrument that flew aboard Indias Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft and found evidencebased, in part, on the distinct reflective properties of water and iceof frozen patches of water scattered across the surface of both polar regions.

Ice hunters will need follow-up missions to confirm how much water ice is on the moon and where its located. Unfortunately, satellite data wont do the trick, says Kevin Cannon, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Central Florida who has written a paper for non-academics titled Ice Prospecting: Your Guide to Getting Rich on the Moon. Instruments aboard a satellite that rely on ultraviolet, visible, or near-infrared light to identify ice deposits can sense to only microns or millimeters. You really dont know if its just a very thin frost or if it extends deeper, says Cannon. On the other hand, he adds, orbiting instruments that could potentially detect ice deposits beneath the lunar surfacesuch as radar and neutron spectroscopyhave much lower spatial resolutions, so you cant really constrain where exactly on the surface the ice is.

If scientists and entrepreneurs want to get serious about water prospecting, theyre going to need boots on the groundor, more precisely, wheels on the ground. After the LCROSS data revealed the presence of ice in 2009, NASA began planning a mission to send a rover therewith mining instruments. By 2014, the Resource Prospector mission had a budget for instruments and launch, and NASA invited Japan and Canada to contribute the landing vehicle and the rover. Over the next few years, support for the Resource Prospector waned as the agency focused on Mars, and Japan and Canada withdrew. With the Trump administrations push to return to the moon, in 2019 Resource Prospector became a new mission, VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover). NASA is building the rover and instruments; transportation and landing craft are to be supplied by one of the companies selected for the new Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, begun in 2018 to encourage private investment in moon exploration. VIPER is scheduled to land at the lunar south pole in late 2023. The golf-cart-size rover will survey and map ice deposits in the area, hopefully providing researchers with a larger pattern of ice distribution.

One of VIPERs instruments, originally developed for the Resource Prospector, is a one-meter drill called TRIDENT (The Regolith and Ice Drill for Exploring New Terrain). Building a drill capable of penetrating beneath the moons surface while operating in subzero temperatures has not been an easy task. Lunar regolith is dense and unforgiving. Over the few billion years it became extremely compacted through meteorite impacts, which create shock waves, explains Kris Zacny, the vice president of exploration technologies and principal investigator of VIPERs drill at Honeybee Robotics. And, if you add ice, it can be harder than concrete.

The biggest problem Apollo encountered during drilling was not actually drilling but pulling the drill out of the hole, Zacny says. Regolith is so compacted that it jammed the auger flutes. In fact, during the Apollo 15 mission, Commander David Scott sprained his shoulder while prying out the Apollo Lunar Surface Drill to obtain a core sample.

Machinistswhen drilling a hole in metalhave the same problem; thats why they developed so-called pecking, says Zacny. Peck drilling involves plunging the drill bit into metal some short distance and then retracting it to the surface to remove chips.

TRIDENT will do the same, drilling down 10 centimeters then retracting to bring back bites of regolith to the surface for study before drilling into the next 10 centimeters. Engineers say this approach has multiple advantages. For starters, since each sample comes from a known depth interval, the subsurface stratigraphy can be more easily preserved and studied. Also, the drill has time to cool off between bites, helping to ensure that the drill doesnt get so hot that it melts ice samples before they can be extracted.

On VIPER, the entire sampling system has been significantly simplified. We are no longer delivering samples to instruments (as is done on Curiosity, for example), but instead we are placing regolith on the surface, says Zacny. The drill has a spout through which the regolith gravity-flows onto the surface forming a cone. The side of the cone is viewed by the MSolo Mass Spectrometer and NIRVSS Infrared Spectrometer. These two instruments provide volatile and mineralogical data.

Since VIPER will spend a lot of time in permanently shadowed regions, it wont be able to rely on solar energy and will have enough power for only 100 days. Future options for prospecting missions might instead use the same technology that generates electricity for NASA deep-space probes that are too far from the sun to generate solar powerfor instance, a rover fitted with a rechargeable battery and a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, which provides electrical power by using heat from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238.

Cannon, though, doesnt think that drilling alone will provide the necessary information. Instead, he advocates digging a trench. The trouble with a drill is that, if you drill a hole, how representative are those results in three dimensions? he says. With a trench, youre getting that three-dimensional information that I think is really whats missing so far from our knowledge of the ice.

And, yes, NASA has been developing a rover capable of that kind of work. The Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR) is being designed to dig and haul soil. While most rovers are mobile science labs carrying sensitive instruments, NASA describes RASSOR as its blue-collar robot because it does the hard labor.

RASSOR will excavate regolith with two counter-rotating bucket drums fitted with toothy digging scoops, each capable of holding 60 kilograms of soil. The barrels help solve a conundrum for NASA engineers. When you push a shovel into dirt on Earth, you remain on the ground since your weight acts as a counterforce. But thats trickier to pull off when excavating in lower gravity, especially since NASA wants the robot to be small and light enough to fly on a rocket from Earth. The rotating bucket drums solve that problem in a couple of ways. First, instead of pushing into the ground, the robot excavates a shallow trench as it moves along the ground. Also, since the two bucket drums are simultaneously rotating in opposite directions, each cancels out the digging force of the other. The technical term for all of this is a near-zero horizontal and minimal vertical net reaction force, and the technique keeps the robot on the surface even in low gravity.

Each pass of the RASSOR would excavate the top five centimeters of surface regolith. And while it can help search for ice as deep as one meter by passing over the same trench repeatedly, mining operations wouldnt necessarily have to burrow very far down, at least at first.

Instead, Sowers says, it would be best to begin by harvesting the ice that is most accessibleon the lunar surface. That ice is the equivalent of gold nuggets in the streams of Colorado, Sowers says. The first people in the Gold Rush came out, and they could pick nuggets up out of the streams. After a while, theyd run out of nuggets and theyd look back upstream for where the nuggets came from, and then theyd start finding the veins. Likewise, the surface ice is the first thing you do because its cheap and you can get product out that you can sell without breaking the bank on capital investment. Then later, he says, as the mining operation expands, you can dig for deeper ice deposits.

The simplest methodwhat Sowers calls the brute force approachwould be to dig up the surface regolith and extract the water by heating it in an oven. None of thats exotic technology. You could do that in your backyard with a shovel and a wheelbarrow, he quips.

While that would be the simplest method, it would be costly since excavation equipment is on the bulky side. (While the RASSOR might be good for prospecting, it cant haul enough for full-scale mining.) If we can get the ice out without digging up the dirt, our numbers show we can save around 50 percent on the mass, says Sowers. Thats significant because mass is dollars, especially in space.

Instead of digging, Sowers has proposed a process called thermal mining and has a NASA grant to develop it. Why dig up the ice when sunlight is available? Its much more cost effective to use mirrors to redirect that sunlight onto the surface of the permanently shadowed regions. By placing a dome over the area that is being heated, you can trap the vapor then collect it for further processing. If we can make that work, then you actually have a significant amount of cost savings, and that definitely helps in making it affordable and closing the business case, says Sowers.

If a mining operation were to also use conductive rods placed in the lunar soil, the heat from the sun could melt ice as deep as 1.5 meters. Any effort to go down farther would require excavation equipment. But by that time, the miners would have built an outpost with all the necessary infrastructure, including landing and launch pads, a chemical-processing plant that turns the water into propellant, and a power source. Once youve depleted the surface ice, you come in with a few additional machines at pretty low marginal costs, and you are still leveraging that investment you made in all that other infrastructure, says Sowers.

Another possible approach to thermal mining is being developed by Joel Sercel, a 14-year veteran of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory and CEO of Trans Astronautica Corporation, which is dedicated to accelerating the process of human space exploration. Sercel and his partnersincluding Honeybee Robotics and Jeff Bezos Blue Originhave received phase two funding from NASAs Innovative Advanced Concepts program to develop plans for a lunar mining outpost that would include robotic rovers, called Beetles, which extract water through a patent-pending process called radiant gas dynamic (RGD) mining, which uses a combination of radio-frequency heaters, microwave, and infrared radiation to heat permafrost and other types of ice deposits.

According to Sercel, a fleet of Beetles would each traverse to a likely spot and lower a dome measuring five meters in diameter over an area of lunar regolith. Water ice would be extracted by means of radio-frequency heaterssimilar to those used on Earth to vaporize and remove chemicals from contaminated soil. Bombardment by microwaves would provide more focused heating while infrared radiation would heat the surface of the moon so that the water just doesnt re-condense there as the ice is melted, says Sercel.

The mining rovers would be part of a larger, self-sustaining Lunar Polar Mining Outpost in an ice-rich region of the lunar north pole that Sercel has dubbed New Mesopotamia, since he sees it as the moons equivalent of the Fertile Crescent on Earth. Power would be provided by towers a kilometer tall, called Sun Flowers, with their feet of solar arrays on the dark permafrost and their lightweight reflector heads in the sun. Since the nights there last only 100 hours per year, the towers would capture sunlight 97 percent of the year.

The Beetles would drop off the harvested water at the base, where some of it would be purified and set aside as drinking water for the astronauts managing the mining site, and some of it would be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to provide both air and propellant. The robotic rovers would run on water fuel cells, so they would, in effect, be mining their own power sources. Fuel cells could also be used to power the base during the periodic blackouts throughout the year.

Both Sercel and Sowers see the development of fuel depots on the moon as an essential first step to Mars or beyond. In fact, wherever we go in the solar system, experts agree that we will first need to make space exploration sustainable. And that will begin with a deceptively simple-sounding task: Just add water.

Companies mining lunar ice confront a dilemma: An ideal place to extract ice is at the bottom of deep craters shrouded in perpetual darkness. But that darkness also deprives them of easy access to sunlight for solar power. Trans Astronautica CEO Joel Sercels solution is an array of towerseach a kilometer tallcalled Sun Flowers to power the outposts facilities. Their feetwhich are solar arrays that sit on the dark permafrostare bathed in sunlight reflected from lightweight disk-shaped heads high above in the sun. Robotic mining rovers, called Beetles, would run on water fuel cells.

Originally posted here:

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The AN-225: How the Cold War created the world’s largest airplane – CNN

Posted: at 12:01 pm

(CNN) The first powered plane flight, performed by the Wright Brothers over the windswept beach of North Carolina's Kitty Hawk in 1903, covered 120 feet. That historic flight would fit entirely in the cargo hold of the Antonov AN-225 Mriya, the world's biggest fully operational plane.

Powered by six turbofan engines and with a wingspan almost the length of a football field, this gentle giant of the skies can carry bigger and heavier cargo than any other plane, and is unique in the world of aviation, as just one was ever built.

A favorite of plane spotters around the world, the AN-225 attracts a crowd whenever it visits an airport during one of its rare -- and often spectacular -- heavy lift jobs.

Onlookers video the AN-225 Mriya from the viewing deck at Perth International airport.

Paul Kane/Getty Images

"It looks magnificent during takeoff and landing and it seems to slowly sail into the air, due to its huge size," said Ilya Grinberg, a Soviet aviation expert and a professor of engineering at Buffalo State University. "It can be easily photographed with any type of camera and it looks very impressive from any angle. I think it is indeed an engineering marvel," he said.

Recently, the plane has been used in the Covid-19 relief effort to transport record loads of protective equipment. But its original mission was very different: born out of the Cold War, the AN-225 was designed to be part of the Soviet space program.

A flying dream

The AN-225 was conceived to carry Soviet space shuttles.

GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images

A new era in space exploration began in April 1981, when the first Space Shuttle launched into orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Its large cargo bay was a design feature pushed by the Pentagon, which used the Shuttle in a handful of classified missions to send military satellites into orbit. The USSR perceived this capability as a threat, and wanted a vehicle that could do the same.

The result was the Buran ("Blizzard" in Russian), a Soviet Shuttle that looked remarkably like its American counterpart, down to the black and white paint job.

But whether it was a straight up clone or simply informed by the laws of aerodynamics, the Buran -- along with its companion rocket, the Energiya -- came with a logistical problem: how to transport the spacecraft from manufacturing facilities around Moscow to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, 1,300 miles away in today's southern Kazakhstan, from which Soviet space missions departed.

The Soviet Union's Buran shuttle looked similar to its US counterpart.

TASS / AFP via Getty Images

Rather than building a new freeway across rivers and mountains, Soviet engineers asked the Antonov Design Bureau in Kiev to create a new transporter plane capable of airlifting the shuttle and its rocket. It would also be used to haul the Buran back to Baikonur whenever it would land at a backup site rather than the Cosmodrome upon returning from orbit.

Antonov based it around an existing model, the AN-124 Ruslan (meaning "Condor"), itself already a very large plane, bigger than the Boeing 747-400.

The overall size was increased significantly, with the goal of doubling the cargo capacity. Among the visible upgrades were an extra pair of engines, bringing the total to six, and a longer landing gear, which increased the wheel count to a whopping 32. A new twin tail with an oversize vertical stabilizer was also added to allow the plane to carry the Buran on its back.

The resulting behemoth, so large that it stuck out of its hangar during the inauguration ceremony, was christened the AN-225 Mriya.

"Mriya is the Ukrainian word for 'dream.' It was the first soviet plane to be christened with a Ukrainian name," said Grinberg.

The AN-225 carrying the Buran space shuttle was the star of the 1989 Paris air show. Images

The Antonov Design Bureau worked quickly to produce the finished plane in just three and a half years, but it still couldn't keep up with the development of the Buran, so an interim solution was chosen: adapting a fleet of old 3M-T bombers to carry the spacecraft unassembled.

When the AN-225 was finally ready, it was history it couldn't catch up with: both the Buran and the AN-225 first flew in late 1988, a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, which foreshadowed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

As a result, the Buran program was canceled after just one official mission, and the AN-225 ended up carrying the shuttle piggyback style in only about a dozen test flights.

The duo stole the show when it made an appearance at the 1989 Paris Air Show, but its primary mission had vanished. An outlandish proposal to transform it into a flying hotel, with suites and swimming pools and space for 1,500 guests never turned into reality, and the AN-225 ended up in a hangar where it was stripped for parts and rusted away for seven years.

A new life

How many wheels? The AN-225's landing gear.

Paul Kane/Getty Images

In 2001, the AN-225 was dusted off, thoroughly upgraded with modern equipment and brought back into service.

In the same year it set 124 world records, according to Antonov, including those for carrying capacity, flight altitude with cargo, and lifting record cargo to an altitude.

"This happened on the day of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and therefore all these records went unnoticed," said Grinberg. "That day, five battle tanks, each weighing 50 tons, served as the control cargo. And they drove into the cargo cabin themselves."

The plane was resurrected because Antonov Airlines, a division of the Antonov company that operates around a dozen heavy transporter planes, was receiving orders on cargo deliveries that were beyond the capabilities of the AN-124, known as the AN-225's "little brother."

"We quickly understood that there was a growing demand for oversize or extremely heavy pieces of cargo," said Vitaliy Shost, senior deputy director of Antonov Airlines. He says that the AN-225 is able to accommodate up to 950 cubic meters of cargo, compared to 750 for the AN-124 and 650 for a Boeing 747.

The AN-225 has set numerous world records.

Simon Cooper/PA Images/Getty Images

Such capacity would allow the AN-225 to carry up to 16 shipping containers or 80 family cars. The cargo hold also has a titanium floor for added strength and its own crane system to load cargo efficiently. The maximum payload is 250 tons -- reached in 2001 when transporting the five battle tanks. The record for the heaviest single piece ever airlifted was achieved by the An-225 in 2009, when a generator was transported from Germany to Armenia. It weighed 187 tons.

The plane set other records such as the longest cargo item in the history of transportation -- two wind turbines measuring 137 feet each, delivered from China to Denmark -- and clinched a Guinness World Records entry by holding an art exhibition of 500 paintings by 120 Ukrainian artists at an altitude of 33,000 feet.

The AN-225 has also transported water turbines, nuclear fuel, construction vehicles, light aircraft and maglev trains. Electric generators are its most common type of cargo.

Crew members in protective suits stand inside an Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo aeroplane during a delivery of protective masks from China.


In April 2020, the AN-225 set yet another record by transporting 100 tons of Covid-19 protective equipment, medicines and tests from Tianjin, China, to Warsaw, Poland (with a refueling stop in Kazakhstan). The landing in Poland was livestreamed to an audience of 80,000, according to Antonov.

"We didn't expect the plane to be involved in this business, because PPE packed in boxes is not the standard type of cargo for the An-225, but due to lack of transport availability our customers requested it," said Shost. "Over two and half months we performed 10 flights from China to different points around the world."

A second one

There's a second, unfinished Antonov An-255 languishing in a Kiev factory.

Vladmir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The AN-225 flies sparingly. Its high operational cost -- it uses over 20 tons of fuel per hour according to Shost, equal to $6,700 at current prices -- limits it to the most demanding of jobs.

"Last year the plane performed about 20 flights. In 2020 we are already at 10 flights, and we expect 10 more through the end of the year," Shost added.

The fact that the AN-225 is one of a kind, however, adds to its mystique.

"This airplane is our pride and joy, a business card for the Antonov company and Ukraine itself," said Shost. "I first saw it when I was a schoolboy and I was so impressed with it, I couldn't believe it could actually fly. Now I make sure it does."

Antonov is constantly upgrading the AN-225 to keep up with international flight regulations and requirements, and the company says that the plane will be in service for at least another 25 years. That's good news for aviation enthusiasts and plane spotters, who show up in droves at its every appearance.

"This aircraft ranks 10/10 on a spotter's dream list, in my opinion," said Casey Groulx, a Canadian plane spotter who photographed the An-225 when it landed in Toronto in late May to deliver Covid-19 relief equipment.

"It was an absolute dream come true as I had always wanted to see this incredible aircraft. There were a lot of other spotters. It felt very special, to have that feeling of having seen the world's biggest plane."

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A Look At The Space Sector – Low Earth Satellite Internet, Space Tourism And Rapid Long Haul Earth Travel – Seeking Alpha

Posted: at 12:01 pm

This article first appeared on Trend Investing on June 20, 2020; therefore all data is as of this date.

The space sector is undergoing rapid change and looks like undergoing a major growth trend during the 2020's decade. The invention of reusable rockets has allowed for much cheaper space travel today; thereby opening up several new possibilities. Today I look at three of them - Global satellite internet networks, space tourism, and the potential for rapid long haul earth travel ('rapid inter-continental flight'). I also look at the leading companies for each.

Forecasts for the global space industry

The space sector can benefit from being paid to launch the low earth satellites or they can benefit by owning them. Here I focus on the later.

I recently covered this area, so readers can view the linked article below. Essentially SpaceX's Starlink is leading the low earth global satellite rollout. The key to the Starlink service will be 'global reach' and 'low latency' supported by their planned 12-42,000 small low earth orbit satellites. Customers of Starlink will mostly come from low population density areas that have poor or no internet service, and Elon Musk expects this to be about 3-5% of the internet service provider market share. Elon recently quoted estimates of Starlink revenues of US$30b a year, based on gaining a 5% global market share as an internet service provider. Start up costs are estimated at ~US$10b or more.

There are some existing players (Iridium satellite constellation, Mu Space), and others with plans (SoftBank's (OTCPK:SFTBF) OneWeb, Amazon's (AMZN) Project Kuiper), and Eutelsat. For now it is looking like Space X (~54% owned by Elon Musk, ~7.5% owned by Alphabet (GOOG) (GOOGL) in 2015) will be the winner, with US services set to begin as soon as H2 2020.

Orbital space tourism

Space tourism began in the early 2000's but was very expensive and reported to cost US$2025 million per trip. This was 'orbital' space tourism and was performed only by the Russian Space Agency ('Roscosmos') brokered by Space Adventures (private). In recent years NASA has had a lower budget for space exploration, with the idea to make way for private companies. For example, Boeing (BA) has their CST-100 Starliner, which is a reusable crew capsule used to transport crew to the International Space Station (ISS). Others in the orbital space business include SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman (NOC), the Chinese and the Russians.

What's the difference between orbital and suborbital spaceflight? quotes:

An orbital spacecraft must achieve what is known as orbital velocity, whereas a suborbital rocket flies at a speed below that. Orbital velocity is the speed that an object must maintain to remain in orbit around a planet.

Suborbital flight requires much lower speeds. A suborbital rocket doesn't have the power to achieve orbit. Instead it will fly up to a certain height that depends on its speed, and then come back down once its engines are shut off. To reach 125 miles above Earth, a suborbital vehicle needs to fly at 3,700 mph (6,000 km/h), much faster than a commercial airplane, which flies at around 575 mph (925 km/h). At the top of their flight arc, passengers in a suborbital vehicle will still achieve a few minutes of weightlessness. They are, in fact, falling back toward earth.

Note: The Virgin Galactic spaceship flies at 3,500mph.

Suborbital space tourism

The new era of space tourism is expected to start this year with reusable rockets and 'suborbital' spaceflights. Prices will be drastically reduced from the past 'orbital' flights, leading to a greater interest in space tourism. This is the area that I expect we will see the biggest growth.

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (SPCE) - Price = USD 15.00

Virgin Galactic (SPCE) is offering space tourism flights for US$250,000 for a 90 minute suborbital flight that goes about 50 miles (80kms) above earth. Richard Branson stated in a 2019 CNBC video interview that as more customers use the service and Virgin Galactic takes on more space ships the economies of scale are expected to decrease the price significantly. The company now has its permanent headquarters at Spaceport America in New Mexico, where they can launch their spacecraft.

Virgin Galactic had expected to begin tourism flights by June 2020, however this has now been delayed due to COVID-19. A recent report quotes: "Virgin Galactic doesnt have a timeline for when the first passenger flights will begin" and they "remain focused on flying Richard Branson to space as soon as we can."

As of May 2020 Virgin Galactic had received 400 refundable deposits for flights, but have reportedly had 2,500 people express interest. That equates to US$100m in potential revenue. Current cash burn is ~US$60m per quarter (based on Q1, 2020). Virgin Galactic expects to be profitable about 1 year into operations (late 2021/early 2022).

Their VSS Unity reusable spacecraft can land like a normal plane, making the loading and unloading of passengers an easy process.

Back in February 2020 it was reported that: "Company backed by Richard Branson says it has secured 20 of 29 necessary approvals from FAA."

Virgin Galactic has a market cap of US$3.2b. Analyst's consensus is an 'outperform' with a price target of US$23.00 representing 53% upside.

Virgin Galactic is the current leader in suborbital space tourism with their VSS Unity reusable spacecraft shown being carried ready for launch


In 2019 CNBC reported:

Credit Suisse says to buy Virgin Galactic stock for its near-term monopoly on space tourism..... Our bullish view reflects the near-term monopoly SPCE offers in an industry (commercial space tourism) where public investment opportunities are scarce, Credit Suisse says.

Virgin launches their spacecraft using a mothership - The point of release is shown

Source: video

SpaceX Exploration Technologies Corp. (Private) "SpaceX"

Space X has become a leader in aerospace since they first developed reusable rockets which dramatically undercut the costs of their competitors such as NASA. In recent times SpaceX has focused on launching satellites for Starlink (discussed earlier), and in time will no doubt enter the space tourism and perhaps the rapid long haul earth travel sector (more on that in the next section below).

Wikipedia states:

SpaceX is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. SpaceX has developed several launch vehicles, the Starlink satellite constellation, and the Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX is ~54% owned by Elon Musk and ~7.5% owned by Alphabet (GOOG) (GOOGL) (a 2015 based %), and other private shareholders.

SpaceX website summarizes the business


Blue Origin (private)

Blue Origin Federation, LLC is an American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company headquartered in Kent, Washington.

Wikipedia states:

Blue Origin is developing a variety of technologies, with a focus on rocket-powered vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL) vehicles for access to suborbital and orbital space. The company's name refers to the blue planet, Earth, as the point of origin

Blue Origin is currently still testing flights of its New Shepard suborbital spacecraft. In May it was reported that Blue "aims to take people to moon by 2024." The spacecraft moon lander is known as "Blue Moon".

Blue Origin is owned by Jeff Bezos.

Blue Origin plans to take tourists to the moon by 2024 in the 'Blue Moon'


The above reusable rocket technologies also have the potential (if approved and/or modified) to cater for 'rapid long haul' earth travel. That is, offering rapid speed long distance 'point to point' earth travel. For example, the SpaceX Starship could fly from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes, rather than the 15 hours it takes currently by conventional plane. Slightly slower for the Virgin Galactic spacecraft, but still under 2 hours. Boeing has recently invested US$20 million in Virgin Galactic to design a vessel that can travel at 5 times the speed of sound.

It should be pointed out that currently the Virgin Galactic spacecraft takes off and lands like a conventional plane making passenger loading and unloading easier, and could theoretically work with existing airports. The Space X and Blue Origin spacecrafts take off land like a rocket upright, so would have some issues using existing infrastructure at airports etc.

The market would start with VIP passengers & cargoes, and in time to the mass market as prices fall. Virgin Galactic co-founder and Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya stated the long haul market represents US$300b of ticketing revenue.

An report quotes:

Beyond exploring planets like Mars and beyond, Musk also explained it could be used for Earth-to-Earth trips. These manned Earth trips wouldn't be pretty. Where a space-bound mission would fit 100 people in comfortable cabins, these Earth missions would pack 1,000 people into a configuration Musk compared to Space Mountain. The time savings, however, could radically transform humanity's conception of time and travel: London to New York (5,555 kilometers): From seven hours, 55 minutes by plane, to just 29 minutes by Starship.

The Verge quotes:

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has talked about eventually developing point-to-point travel, which entails rocket-powered vehicles taking passengers from one point on the Earth to another. Point-to-point travel has been floated by other companies, too, notably SpaceX, but such technology is far from reality. And there are concerns about the feasibility of such forms of travel.

Rapid long haul earth travel is still at the concept stage; however it makes sense that if approved it can follow on from space tourism, assuming the economics can work for both the business and the customer. The winners would likely be the same as space tourism - Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and perhaps Boeing. Other starts ups would also have a chance at success.

The Procure Space ETF (UFO) - Price = USD 20.51

The Procure UFO fund description:

The Fund has adopted an 80% policy to invest in companies that receive at least 50% of their revenue or profits from one or more segments of the space industry. Although there is no legal definition of space, a commonly accepted definition is that the edge of space begins at the Krmn line which is 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earths surface. This is approximately the point where there is not enough air to provide lift to a winged vehicle.

The fund seeks to track the S-Network Space Index.

Bloomberg quotes the UFO fund as having a 0.57%pa dividend yield. The expense ratio is 0.75%pa.

Top holdings by percentage


Sector and industry exposure of the Procure Space ETF


The three huge growth areas of space in the 2020s should be low earth global satellite internet (led by SpaceX), space tourism (led by Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue origin), and potentially rapid long haul (point to point) earth travel (same companies potentially as space tourism).

All three of the above relatively new industries have potential to create multi-billion dollar (UBS says $805b space industry by 2030, Morgan Stanley say $1T space industry over the next 20 years) revenue streams for the space industry, with quite high barriers to entry.

For most investors right now the only option is Virgin Galactic, as SpaceX and Blue Origin are private. There is also the Procure Space ETF (NASDAQ:UFO) as a reasonable diversified option on the space sector that can suit more conservative investors.

Risks are always high for new industries, and space travel is inherently risky as described in the risks section of the article.

I see the opportunity as one that investors should not miss out on, but would need to invest with a decade long time horizon and with funds they can afford to lose.

As usual all comments are welcome.

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A Look At The Space Sector - Low Earth Satellite Internet, Space Tourism And Rapid Long Haul Earth Travel - Seeking Alpha

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Sheikh Zayed’s dream is being realised by ‘will and persistence’ of Emirati people: Sheikha Fatima – Emirates News Agency

Posted: at 12:00 pm

ABU DHABI, 21st July, 2020 (WAM) -- H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, GWU, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, FDF, stated that the dream of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is being realised by the will and persistence of the Emirati people.

In her statement on the occasion of the launch of the Hope Probe on Monday, which was manufactured and is being operated by Emiratis, to discover Mars, she said, "Our ambitions have always been limitless, especially in space exploration, which reflects the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to support the space sector and scientific research."

"This Emirati achievement is a message to the entire world stating that the UAE does not believe in the impossible. Despite the exceptional circumstances facing the world caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, the UAE is highlighting its persistence, guided by its leadership, to excel in the area of global competitiveness," she stated.

"We have been following, with much pride, the successful launch of the Hope Probe, which carries our unlimited ambitions. Since its establishment by the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE has proven to the world that this dream could not have been achieved without its young citizens who have the capacities and skills to succeed in the space and technology sectors," she added.

The historic launch of the probe took place after years of hard work by Emirati specialists from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, she further added, noting that it is a turning point in the list of inspiring Emirati achievements.

WAM/Tariq alfaham

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Sheikh Zayed's dream is being realised by 'will and persistence' of Emirati people: Sheikha Fatima - Emirates News Agency

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