Coronavirus Far-Reaching Effects In Space Exploration – Latest Herald

The coronavirus has far-reaching effects beyond what came speculated previously. Yet the virus has its claws in every sector, including the space exploration industry as a whole. While many wonder how corona as a virus affects space, there stands to reason evidence that the epidemics effects hit hard

The coronavirus formally known as COVID19 is perhaps the latest in the family of outbreaks to hit the earth this century hi with a death toll of thousands in its wake the virus is not a trivial matter. The spreading infection has come to earn recognition by the World Health Organization as a pandemic, capable of soon wreaking havoc across continents.

In its latest publication, the World Health Organization (WHO) post updates the death toll of the virus. At current, there are 3809 deaths and counting with 109,000 confirmed cases. The update also shows that the United States CDC record shows a totalled number of 439 cases confirmed with 19 deaths in the roll

The space exploration industry is also a part of this outcome. Among the confirmed cases is a NASA employee working at the Ames Research Center situated in California. The official went down after experiencing some worrying symptoms. Upon undergoing tests, the employees results turned up positive.

Yet this is not the most significant effect the virus has on the space exploration industry. A look into the facility revealed an alarming possibility of corona infections. As a result, the outcome forced the foreclosure of the Ames Research center, citing the area as a high-risk infection zone. While further tests remain on the Centre, it remains closed to all personnel save for a selection of crucial officials. The Centre continues shut till further notice. All staff in the Centre are under advice to stay indoors in their homes in self-isolation

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine States in a report that the center would not only be locked down but several programs set for completion for later indefinitely until the matter comes to a resolve. Among these include three recently launched science airborne campaigns that link to the Ames Research Facility that doubles as a production facility. The space agency does not have additional information toward more projects that will sort out later due to the virus. Currently, NASA hasnt laid down any limitations to movements following the outbreak. However, more unfold with daily developments. Get further updates here as they occur

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Astronauts Can Use Their Own Urine to Build Bases on the Moon – News18

Image for representation.

European researchers have found that astronauts urine could be used as a plasticizer in the concrete of the structures to build bases on moon in the coming decades for deep space exploration.

The modules that the major space agencies plan to erect on the Moon could incorporate an element contributed by the human colonizers themselves: the urea in their pee.

NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Chinese counterpart plan to build moon bases that will help humans reach more distant destinations, such as Mars.

However, the colonization of the Moon poses problems such as high levels of radiation, extreme temperatures, meteorite bombardment and a logistical issue: how to get construction materials there, although it may not be necessary.

Scientists from Norway, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy, in cooperation with ESA, have conducted several experiments to verify the potential of urine urea as a plasticizer -- an additive that can be incorporated into concrete to soften the initial mixture and make it more pliable before it hardens.

"To make the geopolymer concrete that will be used on the moon, the idea is to use what is there: regolith (loose material from the moon's surface) and the water from the ice present in some areas," explained Ramon Pamies, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (Murcia).

Transporting about 0.45 kg from the Earth to space costs about $10,000, that means that building a complete module on our satellite in this way would be very expensive.

This is the reason why space agencies are thinking of using raw materials from the moon's surface, or even those that astronauts themselves can provide, such as their urine.

"With this study, we have seen that a waste product, such as the urine of the personnel who occupy the moon bases, could also be used," said Pamies in a paper detailed in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

The two main components of this body fluid are water and urea, a molecule that allows the hydrogen bonds to be broken and, therefore, reduces the viscosities of many aqueous mixtures.

Using a material developed by ESA, which is similar to moon regolith, together with urea and various plasticizers, the researchers, using a 3D printer, have manufactured various 'mud' cylinders and compared the results.

The experiments, carried out at Ostfold University College (Norway), revealed that the samples carrying urea supported heavy weights and remained almost stable in shape.

Once heated to 80 degree Celsius, their resistance was also tested and even increased after eight freeze-thaw cycles like those on the Moon.

"We have not yet investigated how the urea would be extracted from the urine, as we are assessing whether this would really be necessary, because perhaps its other components could also be used to form the geopolymer concrete," said Anna-Lena Kjoniksen from the Norwegian University.

The actual water in the urine could be used for the mixture, together with that which can be obtained on the Moon, or a combination of both.

The scientists stress the need for further testing to find the best building material for the moon bases, where it can be mass-produced using 3D printers.

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NASA: 60 Years of Space Exploration | Space

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is the U.S. government agency responsible for leading the nation's explorations of space. Its mission is "to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind." Since its formation in 1958, NASA has taken to the skies both on and off Earth.

Today, NASA consists of 10 different centers spread around the country. But it got its start by scrapping together pieces from existing agencies.

As part of the International Geophysical Year (from July 1, 1957, to Dec. 31, 1958), a cooperative effort to gather scientific data about the Earth, President Dwight Eisenhower approved a plan to put into orbit a scientific satellite. The Soviet Union quickly announced its own intentions, and then surprised the world by launching Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, on Oct. 4, 1957.

"This had a Pearl Harbor effect on American public opinion, creating an illusion of a technological gap and provided the impetus for increased spending on aerospace endeavors," NASA's history website says.

The United States wasn't far behind their Cold War rivals. After some setbacks and failed rocket launches, the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, reached orbit on Jan. 31, 1958. Not content to simply circle the Earth, Explorer 1 sought to study the planet and its environment.

"Explorer 1 was also a science mission," Willis Jenkins, the program scientist for NASA's Explorer Program, said on the agency's website. "This wasn't just launched to get a satellite up in space, it was meant to bring science data back down."

Explorer 1 contained experiments that helped to identify the Van Allen radiation belts that surround the planet.

On Oct. 1, 1958, the United States consolidated its space exploration operations under a new agency, NASA, which replaced the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), founded in 1915 to explore aeronautical research when airplanes were just starting to take flight. Also absorbed by NASA were Langley Research Center in Virginia and Ames Research Center in California, both still operational today. NASA also incorporated other science groups, such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratoryin Pasadena, California, and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama.

Since then, NASA has launched a series of satellites, orbiters and landers to explore Earth, the moon, other planets and the distant reaches of space. [Space.com Topic: Space History Photos]

On May 25, 1961, only 20 days after Alan Shepard had become the first American to reach space, President John F. Kennedy told the United States, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth."

With Kennedy's announcement, getting to the moon became NASA's priority. The Mercury and Gemini programs tested U.S. technology and human endurance in space. The Apollo program was designed to take the final steps toward the moon. There were challenges and setbacks, such as a fire that killed three Apollo 1 astronauts, but by 1968, the agency sent astronauts around the moon, with Apollo 8. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon, famously declaring, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

The Apollo program continued until 1972, with 12 astronauts walking on the lunar surface over 6 landing missions.

Although humans had finished walking on the moon at least temporarily NASA continued to send them into space. In 1973, NASA's Skylab program sent three human missions to stay aboard a relatively small workshop orbiting the Earth. "The Skylab program also served as a successful experiment in long-duration human spaceflight," NASA's website says.

In 1975, NASA and the Soviet Union cooperated to achieve the first international human spaceflight, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which successfully tested joint rendezvous and docking procedures for spacecraft from the two nations.

On April 12, 1981, NASA launched Columbia, the first space shuttle. The shuttle fleet eventually added four more ships Atlantis, Challenger, Discovery and Endeavor as well as Enterprise, a test shuttle that never made it to space. Two ships were lost in explosions, Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003, but when the program concluded in 2011, it had launched 135 missions and put more than 300 astronauts into space. [Photos: The Milestone Space Missions Launched from NASAs Historic Pad 39A]

The United States began work on what would become the International Space Station (ISS) in 1984, with Russia and other international partners joining the venture in 1993. On Nov. 2, 2000, the first humans began to inhabit the ISS.

NASA headquarters are in Washington, D.C. Agency leaders there oversee activities conducted at the 10 research centers scattered around the country:

Additional resources

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Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market (2020 to 2030) – Analysis and Forecast – ResearchAndMarkets.com – Yahoo Finance

The "Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market: Focus on Subsystem, Technology Mode, Mission Type, Application, And End User - Analysis and Forecast, 2020-2030" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering.

According to this report the deep space exploration and technology market is expected to showcase a significant growth due to the increasing space budgets by various government agencies, rising demand for deep space exploration small satellites, the emergence of private players in the space sector, and huge investments made by them.

The Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market report projects the market to grow at a CAGR of 6.42% on the basis of value during the forecast period from 2020 to 2030. North America is expected to dominate the global deep space exploration and technology market with an estimated share of 62.45% in 2020. North America, including major countries such as the U.S., is the most prominent region for the deep space exploration and technology market. In North America, the U.S. is estimated to account for a major market share in 2020 due to the rising number of space exploration missions led by the country.

In addition, the growth in the deep space exploration and technology market is highly driven by the increasing number of missions planned by various space agencies. These missions aim at investigating various intended celestial bodies such as Earth's moon, Mars, Jupiter's moons, Saturn's moons, the Sun, and asteroids. The purpose of these missions is to understand the planet's atmosphere and properties as well as look for the possibility of life. These missions are expected to present an opportunity for the deep space exploration and technology market.

Key Questions Answered:

Market Dynamics

Market Drivers

Market Challenges

Market Opportunities

Companies Profiled

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/uzmhez

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200325005605/en/


ResearchAndMarkets.comLaura Wood, Senior Press Managerpress@researchandmarkets.com

For E.S.T Office Hours Call 1-917-300-0470For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call 1-800-526-8630For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900

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Parts of space exploration on hold due to Coronavirus – WTSP.com

From studying our planet, to space flight, to astronomy, everything we know about space exploration seems limitless. But not even the wonderful world of space can be immune to the coronavirus.

Just like the rest of the world, thousands of NASA employees are working from home, and already have been since mid-March. But a change in workflow is not the only impact seen within the space industry.

A big part of working towards the future comes with planning, most of which involve the great minds of the world coming together in one room. However, cancellations of multiple astronomy conferences took events off the table.

Education and research in the field of astronomy have also had a wrench thrown in plans -- not only for those looking to pursue a degree in this field but also for those making great strides in future projects and missions. Everything from networking, in-person meetings, to hands-on training, has quickly turned into a remote/online method.

RELATED: VERIFY: What are plasma treatments for COVID-19?

RELATED: 17 days: Thats how long the coronavirus survived on infected cruise ship surfaces, CDC says

As for future missions, NASA officials report that the mission surrounding the James Webb Space Telescope has been put on hold as California follows restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This telescope will aim to further expand the discoveries of the Hubble Telescope with longer wavelength coverage and improved sensitivity. And this is just one mission. Another revolves around NASA's next Mars mission, a launch that was scheduled this summer to carry the rover, Perseverance.

The concept behind postponing any aircraft-based science flights is that while some tasks can be tackled remotely, building a spacecraft to carry these experiments, cannot.

Down the road, well learn more about the impacts to future science experiments and space exploration, as a whole.

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Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market: Focus on Subsystem, Technology Mode, Mission Type, Application, And End User – Analysis and…

NEW YORK, March 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --

The Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market Anticipated to be $54.71 Billion by 2030

Read the full report: https://www.reportlinker.com/p05877537/?utm_source=PRN

Key Questions Answered in this Report: What are the major forces that tend to increase the demand for the global deep space exploration and technology during the forecast period, 2020-2030? What are the major challenges inhibiting the growth of the global deep space exploration and technology market? Which are the key players in the global deep space exploration and technology market? What is the estimated revenue generated by the global deep space exploration and technology market by segments (subsystem, technology mode, application, mission type, and end user) in 2020, and what are the estimates for the time period 2020-2030? What are the industry trends in the global deep space exploration and technology market? How is the industry expected to evolve during the forecast period 2020-2030? What are the new strategies adopted by the existing market players to catalyze deep space exploration? What are the major opportunities that the deep space exploration and technology stakeholders foresee?

Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market Forecast, 2020-2030

The Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market report projects the market to grow at a CAGR of 6.42% on the basis of value during the forecast period from 2020 to 2030. North America is expected to dominate the global deep space exploration and technology market with an estimated share of 62.45% in 2020. North America, including major countries such as the U.S., is the most prominent region for the deep space exploration and technology market. In North America, the U.S. is estimated to account for a major market share in 2020 due to the rising number of space exploration missions led by the country.

The global deep space exploration and technology market is gaining widespread importance owing to increasing efforts from the national space agencies as well as their increasing investment for deep space exploration missions. Development of technologies such as AI and emergence of private entities in the space sector are some of the factors that may propel the market growth.

Expert Quote

"The rising demand for global deep space exploration technologies, namely artificial intelligence, solar electric propulsion, navigation, and guidance technology, for supporting deep space missions is forcing the key stakeholders to develop products with advanced technologies. Moreover, the continuous efforts of the space agencies as well as the leading space companies is expected to drive the market."

Scope of the Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market

The purpose of the market analysis is to examine the deep space exploration and technology market outlook in terms of factors driving the market, trends, technological developments, and competitive benchmarking, among others.

The report further takes into consideration the market dynamics and the competitive landscape along with the detailed financial and product contribution of the key players operating in the market.

Market Segmentation

The deep space exploration and technology market is further segmented on the basis of technology mode, application, subsystem, mission type, end user, and region.While highlighting the key driving and restraining forces for this market, the report also provides a detailed study of the industry.

The report also analyzes different applications that include moon exploration, transportation, orbital infrastructure, mars exploration, and others (asteroid missions).In the technology mode segment, the market is segmented into rockets, landers, robots, satellites and, orbiters.

In the subsystem segment, the market is segmented into propulsion system, navigation and guidance system, and command and control system.

The deep space exploration and technology market is segregated by region under four major regions, namely North America, Europe, APAC, and Rest-of-the-World. Data for each of these regions (by country) is provided in the market study.

Key Companies in the Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market

The key market players in the global deep space exploration and technology market include Airbus Defence & Space, Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman, Thales Alenia Space, MAXAR Technologies, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, Astrobotic, and Blue Origin, among others.

Countries Covered North America U.S. Canada Europe The U.K. Germany France Russia Rest-of-Europe Asia-Pacific China Japan India Rest-of-Asia-Pacific Rest-of-the-World Latin America Middle East Africa

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Global Deep Space Exploration and Technology Market: Focus on Subsystem, Technology Mode, Mission Type, Application, And End User - Analysis and...

Rick Ambrose, EVP of Lockheed Space Segment, Named to 2020 Wash100 for Driving Satellite Capabilities, Future Lunar Missions and Space Exploration -…

Rick Ambrose

Executive Mosaic is honored to present Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of the space business at Lockheed Martin, as an inductee into the 2020 Wash100 Award for driving the companys satellite capabilities as well as the nations upcoming lunar and space exploration missions.

This marks the fifth overall Wash100 Award for Ambrose. Hes also received this honor for the last four consecutive years. Ambrose won a 2019 Wash100 Award for leading the improvement of space technologies, including utilizing the cloud for space missions.

Under Ambroses leadership, Lockheed Martin secured a potential $4.6 billion indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract from NASA in Sept. 2019 to produce six Orion spacecraft to transport astronauts to the moon.

This contract clearly shows NASAs commitment not only to Orion, but also to Artemis and its bold goal of sending humans to the Moon in the next five years, said Ambrose.

The Orion Production and Operations contract includes a $2.7 billion initial order for three spacecraft for Artemis III to V lunar missions and an additional $1.9 billion for three vehicles in fiscal year 2022 to support Artemis VI through VIII missions.

This contract secures Orion production through the next decade, demonstrating NASAs commitment to establishing a sustainable presence at the Moon to bring back new knowledge and prepare for sending astronauts to Mars, NASA Administrator and fellow Wash100 award recipient Jim Bridenstine said in a statement published Tuesday.

In Jan. 2020, Lockheed Martin announced that Pony Express 1, the companys first smart satellite, had launched aboard its Tyvak 6U spacecraft. The upgraded satellite has integrated technology that will allow the company to conduct more thorough tests in-orbit.

"Early on-orbit data show Pony Express 1 is performing its important pathfinding mission very well. Lockheed Martin's HiveStar technology on board will give our customers unparalleled speed, resiliency and flexibility for their changing mission needs by unlocking even greater processing power in space," said Ambrose.

More specifically, Ambrose also had an interview later that month with Yahoo Finance regarding the current challenges of the space market and the upcoming manned lunar mission to return to the moon in the next five years. He believes that we have the capability to complete our current lunar mission, but we have to act quickly and reuse a lot of systems that we have today.

When asked about the national security risks posed by Chinas satellite projects, Ambrose said that, I like to put it in different framing as not a space race, but for space to be viable, it has to be a vibrant marketplace, like any other industry. Theres 75 space-faring nations today. And as we move forward, supply chains, competitors, for it to be vibrant, we have to have that level of competition, he added.

Executive Mosaic congratulates Lockheed Martin and Rick Ambrose for his 2020 Wash100 Award. Ambrose has accumulated a lot of experience across his 40 years in the defense, aerospace and space industries. His latest Wash100 Award win continues to demonstrate the level of vision and success that Ambrose has been able to achieve with the company and for the GovCon sector.

About The Wash100

This year represents our sixth annual Wash100 Award selection. The Wash100 is the premier group of private and public sector leaders selected by Executive Mosaics organizational and editorial leadership as the most influential leaders in the GovCon sector. These leaders demonstrate skills in leadership, innovation, achievement, and vision.

Visit the Wash100 site to learn about the other 99 winners of the 2020 Wash100 Award. On the site, you can submit your 10 votes for the GovCon executives of consequence that you believe will have the most significant impact in 2020.

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Rick Ambrose, EVP of Lockheed Space Segment, Named to 2020 Wash100 for Driving Satellite Capabilities, Future Lunar Missions and Space Exploration -...

Commentary | Space and coronavirusany connection? – SpaceNews

It is obvious the tiny novel coronavirus is giving and will continue to give all of us a very hard time for a prolonged period.

When news of the COVID-19 outbreak and of its obvious severity first emerged, we may all have thought we were in for a hard time but I dont think any of us realized the truly massive impact this virus would have across Europe and the entire world. And it was just a matter of time before we in the space sector went from seeing the virus as a potential danger forcing us to concentrate on our most critical tasks to a disease affecting individuals in a very real and dramatic way.

Within ESA, this stage has now been reached with tens of people having the symptoms, at least two confirmed by testing. Our COVID-19-infected colleagues are apparently on their way to recovery.

Unfortunately, we have to expect that these were not the last cases of colleagues being infected. We set up a general ESA crisis group which meets daily (by Skype) to review the latest developments and take the necessary steps to adapt to the changing situation.

We have to accept that the spread of novel coronavirus is one of the negative consequences of globalization and the global mobility of people it brings with it. Of course, space alone cannot solve this problem; the power of the tiny virus is greater than all our combined efforts. However, at the same time, it does provide yet another example of the need for global cooperation. Modern communication technologies, with space in a supporting role, can play their part by disseminating information on the development of the pandemic and transmitting recommendations or instructions to be followed.

COVID-19 also clearly illustrates some general rules that apply when dealing with the unknown. For the purpose of this illustration it is useful to draw a parallel between COVID-19 and climate change:


In the case of climate change, the key discovery was on planet Venus and was made as a result of space exploration: namely, that Venus has a much stronger greenhouse effect than the Earth. Thus, understanding and identification were based on the discovery of an unknown aspect. Subsequently, the main influencing factors had to be found. The same thing happened with the coronavirus. No one was aware of its existence when the first people presented symptoms. Through discovery and identification, the root cause of the illness was detected.

The second step is MONITORING

For COVID-19 and climate change alike, observation of their development is of the utmost importance.

The third step is RAISING AWARENESS

To be able to counteract the threats posed both by COVID-19 and by climate change, we must begin by informing the public and raising awareness. Interestingly, when it comes to both of these phenomena, large numbers of people believe them to be nothing but a hoax.

Only then can we go for MITIGATION

Mitigation measures for COVID-19 and climate change are of a very different nature, but what they have in common is that only global solutions stand any chance of being successful.

Space can help with technologies to reduce emissions (navigation, telecommunication, solar power, fuel cells) as a means of counteracting climate change and may also be able to help mitigate some of the worst effects of COVID-19 because of what we know about how to organize quarantine or our experience with protective clothing for use in satellite production clean rooms.

I hope that all readers, their families and their loved ones have been able to find the best possible circumstances in which to cope with what has emerged.

I know that this must be very challenging and that it will take some time for everyone to become accustomed to these unique circumstances. Trying to telework in an apartment with schools closed and front doors locked is exceptionally difficult.

At the same time, this huge upheaval leaves many understandably deeply concerned about the economic impact they may be facing personally. I hope that many of them, like me, will have drawn comfort from witnessing the massive interventions announced by governments across the world, aimed at ensuring the global economy suffers as little short and long-term damage as possible.

Jan Woerner is the director general of the European Space Agency.

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Commentary | Space and coronavirusany connection? - SpaceNews

Egyptian Space Agency Sign Cooperation Protocol With French Space Agency – Space in Africa

The Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA) has signed a bilateral space cooperation protocol with the French Space Agency (CENS) during a recently-held joint workshop in Cairo themed: Egypt-France Partnership and Cooperation in Space Science and Technology.

Dr Mohamed Elkoosy, CEO of EgSA and Mr Jean-Yves Le Gal, President of CNES, in the presence of His Excellency Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Egypts Minister of Scientific Research and Higher Education, signed the cooperation protocol for satellite developments, training and exploration of outer space, according to a media release by EgSA.

Commenting on the new partnership, Abdel Ghaffar said, the protocol is very important for cooperation between Egypt and France in the field of space science and technology. There has been fruitful cooperation in the past in many fields between Egypt and France.

The French Space Agency is considered the second most important space agency in the world and this is an opportunity that we gain experiences through this protocol from them, and this is not the first time that we cooperate with France, and the French Space Agency offered cooperation with Egypt in the manufacture of a satellite, training and outer space exploration, ElKoosy said.

Read: Egypt To Launch Two Experimental Satellites Ahead Of A Planned NGEO Constellation

Jean-Yves Le Gal commended Egypts leadership in Africa and applauded the North African countrys effort in hosting the African Space Agency. He described Egypt as the gateway to Africas emerging space endeavours while noting that the recent cooperation is not the first bilateral space cooperation between both nations; Egypt had earlier collaborated with France in launching the NileSat communications satellite programme.

Jean-Yves Le Gal invited EgSA CEO and his team to France and to discuss further cooperation in satellite developments between the two countries. Such cooperation, according to him, will be beneficial to the African Space Agency which will be hosted in Egypt.

Egypts space sector is growing rapidly with renewed government commitment to develop and domesticate space capabilities. The government on March 5 announced a 10-year National Space Programme aimed at developing indigenous capabilities in satellite development, applications in space weather, Earth observation and climate risk mitigation, the growth of the nations space industry.

Read: Peek Into Egypts Growing Capacity In Space And The Approved 10-year National Space Program

Egypt plans to collaborate with countries that have established space capabilities to achieve the goals set in the new national space programme. Signing bilateral cooperation with France, a look-time ally in Egypts space endeavours, fits into the goal contained in the new space plan.

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Egyptian Space Agency Sign Cooperation Protocol With French Space Agency - Space in Africa

The Songs (and Sounds) of Space with Steven Drozd & The Flaming Lips – Via Satellite

And now for something completely different! Steven Drozd, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter with the world-famous Oklahoma City-based rock band, The Flaming Lips joins us on On Orbit for a discussion about how space and technology has influenced not only his music, but of the music of a generation.

Over the course of their nearly 37-year existence, the Flaming Lips have drawn inspiration for their music from the most fascinating and unique corners of science fiction, as well as some of the most important moments in space exploration history. Steven talks about how the NASA Moon landing, Voyager program, Mars mission, visual artist Moebius, David Bowie, the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and Logans Run, and composers Gustav Holst, Gyrgy Ligeti, and Igor Stravinsky all helped shape the Flaming Lips signature sound. We even discuss the musical instruments and tools that Steven used to recreate the space environments in his songs.

Escape the daily pandemic news for a moment and enjoy this conversation about the songs and sounds of space!

This episode also features samples of Flaming Lips songs, which are available through Warner Brothers, on all streaming services, online and retail record stores. The bands new album, American Head, will be released this summer. For more information on the band, visit flaminglips.com.

This episode of On Orbit is sponsored by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (or SEDS). SEDS is a non-profit that empowers young people to participate and make an impact in space exploration. Thank you so much to SEDS and all of their members for supporting this episode of On Orbit.

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The Songs (and Sounds) of Space with Steven Drozd & The Flaming Lips - Via Satellite

Acclaimed time-loop exploration adventure Outer Wilds is heading to Steam in June – Eurogamer.net

As Epic Games Store exclusivityends.

Developer Mobius Digital's wonderful sandbox space exploration adventure Outer Wilds (which was named Eurogamer's favourite game of 2019, don't you know) will be waving goodbye to Epic Games Store exclusivity and hello to Steam on 18th June.

Outer Wilds, if you've not yet had the pleasure, casts players as intrepid adventurers itching to explore the gorgeously compact solar system spinning endlessly above their heads. It's a dreamily realised, deliciously off-kilter place, with its striking, often surreal planets gradually evolving in unexpected ways as time progresses in-game.

Thanks to violent celestial calamity, however, the entire solar system constantly resets every 20 minutes, sending players all the way back to the start, albeit with a headful of crucial new knowledge collected on their previous adventures to the stars. The idea, then, is to slowly pick apart the cosmos' secrets, using previous learnings to be in the right place at the right time, and perhaps even avert disaster when the dying sun goes supernova next time around.

Eurogamer's Christian Donlan was smitten enough with Outer Wilds' intergalactic delights to award it a Recommended badge in his review last year, and its charms ultimately won over the rest of the team, sufficiently so that it was crowned our favourite game of 2019.

"Outer Wilds is astonishing," enthused Donlan once more in his end-of-year write-up, "in an era in which you'd think that games would be running out of ways to astonish people.

"It gives you a clockwork solar system filled with planets whose evocative names are matched by dynamic, tempestuous, mysterious surfaces. It gives you addled, oxbow interiors filled with secrets, with a trail to follow. It gives you physics and memory and logic and sweetness and, in amidst the emptiness, a sense of camaraderie, of belonging to something folksy and pine-scented and cobbled-together with craft and will."

Those planning to venture forth and uncover Outer Wilds' ancient mysteries and long-forgotten secrets through Steam on 18th June can add it to their wishlist now.

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Acclaimed time-loop exploration adventure Outer Wilds is heading to Steam in June - Eurogamer.net

The New Space Race – BFPG

Half a century since the Apollo 11 moon landing, space continues to be one of the foremost areas of geopolitical expansion and the projection of national capabilities. The UK is not alone in launching an ambitious space strategy: in November 2019, NATO foreign ministers recognised space as a new operational domain for the establishment of international governance and infrastructure. As Global Britain becomes a reality, space and the new space race will become a key frontier for the UKs redefinition of its role in the world.

But with space becoming increasingly important in many ways both in terms of developing new technology and in providing a new frontier for development and research a new space race, of sorts, appears inevitable. Dr Alice Bunn, Director of International Programmes at the UK Space Agency, noted this at the BFPGs recent event on the future of UK foreign policy in space, arguing that were coming back full circle (Donald) Trump is laying out his plans for boots on the moon and China is showing huge capabilities. We are coming back to a more competitive space.

But the new space race wont be as binary as the US-Russia Cold War contest to be the first to put man on the moon of the 60s. For example, both Dr Bunn and Liz Seward, Senior Strategist for Airbus Europe pointed to the capabilities of India which recently successfully launched an earth observation spy satellite. The new satellite can take high-resolution images during any time of the day, even under cloudy conditions, which will boost Indias all-weather surveillance capabilities.

Since the original space race of the 1960s, the world has changed in major ways. What back then was a battle for space supremacy between two competing ideologies, now incorporates not only governments around the world, but individuals and organisations. Elon Musk, soon after his company SpaceX launched the most powerful working rocket in the world into space launching a Musk-owned Tesla into orbit said: We want a new space race. Races are exciting. According to John Logsdon, founder of the Space Policy Institute: SpaceX has challenged the traditional launch industry in the United States and in Europe and in China and in Russia.

Space reflects more than the increased ability of billionaires to launch rockets into space its a microcosm of the ever-changing balance of power back down on Earth. Taking Brexit as an examle, the panellists at our recent event noticed that whilst the UKs withdrawal from the European Union has not magically opened doors for the UK space sector, it has massively increased the political will to ramp up our capabilities in space. As I wrote in a previous BFPG blog on space, the Conservative Party made a pledge to establish the UKs first Space Command in their December 2019 general election manifesto, and several Ministers have since made calls for the UK to embrace space as a new frontier in foreign policy. Spaceports have been proposed, and plans for new satellite systems drafted.

But that blog also noted that the comments made by Dr Bunn and Liz Seward on the idea that the new space race will not be binary is already proving true. Certainly, the UKs ambition is being matched across Europe. Sweden, for example, has committed to starting rocket launches from Kiruna by 2022. Norway aims to beat that and has 2020 in its sights. Portugal matches the UKs space ambitions and aims to open a spaceport in the Azores. France, Germany and Italy all spend a substantial amount more than the UK does on space exploration.

50 years since the first moon landing, space still ignites the imagination of millions around the world. As the global economy grows and becomes more cooperative, the space race is changing but its still there. With individuals, governments, organisations and more involved in the rapidly developing sector, Britain can have a huge role to play in writing the rulebook and convening exciting new coalitions.

The rest is here:

The New Space Race - BFPG

MasterClass is launching free, live Q&A sessions with big shots in their respective industries – TechCrunch

MasterClass is known for selling access to pre-recorded online classes by a long list of people who are among the best at what they do, from tennis great Serena Williams to writer David Sedaris to chef Thomas Keller.

More recently, however, the company added live Q&A sessions with these same stars as a member benefit, and now, for the foreseeable future, its opening these sessions to non-members, too. Its the San Francisco startups way of making itself more accessible to a broader audience that perhaps cant rationalize paying $90 per class or $180 for a yearly all-access pass, especially in this increasingly grim market.

The first free session streams live on Wednesday at noon PT from MasterClasss site and will feature Chris Voss, who was once the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI. Voss had earlier created a module for MasterClass on the art of negotiation, and hell be talking to whomever wants to tune in with the help of a moderator who will be asking questions that have been submitted in advance by students.

Its just one of a bunch of such live Q&A sessions that will be made available, according to MasterClass CEO David Rogier, who we chatted with Friday afternoon and who half-kiddingly describes Vosss mission as partly to help families that are stuck at home to better negotiate who is going to use the big-screen TV at any one time (though more broadly the idea is to teach empathy).

Its a small step from MasterClass, which separately gives away 130,000 all-access passes each year to organizations in need and has committed to giving away an addition 200,000 of these passes this year. (Its opening up applications to these passes soon to organizations that can apply on its website, says a spokeswoman.)

Seemingly, MasterClass could lean in even further while much of America, and the rest of the globe, is trapped at home and looking for both entertainment and high-quality educational content.

In the meantime, Rogier is quick to note that MasterClass has a variety of kid-friendly content thats instructive if best consumed with parental supervision.

Among the now 80 classes available through the site including new classes by interior designer Kelly Wearstler, a class on self expression and identity by RuPaul, and Gabriela Cmara teaching Mexican cooking are classes, for example, by Neil deGrasse Tyson, who walks viewers through his take on scientific thinking and communication. Another segment stars Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose class centers on U.S. presidential history.

Other courses recommended by Rogier himself include Penn and Tellers class on the art of magic; a class on space exploration by retired astronaut and former Commander of the International Space Station, Chris Hadfield; and, for older kids who might be trying to make sense of the world right now, a class by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on the economy.

As for how five-year-old MasterClass was doing before the world changed, Rogier declines to share specific growth stats, merely describing its numbers as great. He also notes that MasterClass is now available not only via its website and app but on the big screen through Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Its also rolling out Android TV and Roku soon.

Pictured above: Former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss.

Read the original here:

MasterClass is launching free, live Q&A sessions with big shots in their respective industries - TechCrunch

The Next 10 Years of Planetary Exploration – The Planetary Society

Preparations at NASA are underway for creation of the next planetary science decadal survey, a roadmap intended to guide exploration of our solar neighborhood from 2023 to 2032. Six scientists, each considering a different world or class of objects, will share their thoughts and hopes. The Planetary Societys Emily Lakdawalla offers fun and fascinating science education suggestions for housebound families. Some lucky (?) listener will be getting a special message from Bruce and Mat if he or she wins the new Whats Up space trivia contest.

Bruce and Mat will record an outgoing message for your phone, if you dare.

Who was the first person to do a deep space EVA (extravehicular activity or spacewalk)? Deep space is defined as beyond low Earth orbit.

The Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass of a stable white dwarf star. In solar masses, what is the approximate value of the Chandrasekhar limit?

The winner will be revealed next week.

What is the second largest planetary moon in our solar system that orbits retrograde? (Neptunes Triton is by far the largest.)

Our solar systems second largest moon orbiting in retrograde is Phoebe at Saturn.

Mat Kaplan: [00:00:00] Planning the future through NASA's decadal survey, this week on Planetary Radio. Welcome. I'm Mat Kaplan of The Planetary Society with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. They are intended to guide NASA's science and nearly the entire scientific community believes they are essential. As we approach formulation of the next decadal survey for planetary science, we'll survey the solar system through the eyes of six scientists. Like the rest of us, Emily Lakdawalla is learning to deal with the challenges of these strange times. My colleague is uniquely qualified to recommend ways to keep our minds and the minds of our children wandering the universe, even as we stay within our homes. She'll join us right after The Downlink headlines.

We'll close as always with Bruce Betts and What's Up. You'll get the chance to win a [00:01:00] personalized message from Bruce and me, if you want it. Here's this week's sample of the mission updates collected by Planetary Society editorial director Jason Davis for The Downlink. Like the rest of the world, the space community is being affected by COVID-19. All NASA employees except mission essential personnel are working remotely. Europe has taken similar measures, suspending its launches, even Buzz Aldrin is quarantined at home. It's unclear how severely the pandemic will affect upcoming mission schedules, but NASA officials say at least one is still on schedule for now, the Perseverance Mars Rover. Sadly, work on the James Webb Space Telescope has been halted by the pandemic.

There are signs that NASA's latest efforts to save the heat flow probe aboard the Mars InSight Lander may be working. The self-hammering instrument known as the mole has unsuccessfully been [00:02:00] trying to bury itself since March of last year. Engineers are now using InSight's robotic scoop to press down on top of the mole while it hammers. And when NASA astronauts make their first flight to the lunar surface as part of the agency's Artemis program, currently scheduled for 2024, they won't be making a pit stop at the Gateway, a small yet to be built lunar space station. NASA officials say they are still committed to building the Gateway later, but that it is no longer in the so-called critical path for the first moon landing, not counting Apollo of course.

More news and other great features are waiting for you online at planetary.org/downlink. You can also sign up to get The Downlink delivered to your inbox each week for free. Here's our solar system specialist, Emily.

Emily, thanks for joining me, uh, and this is such a critical time to be doing this. Of course, we are both doing it from home. [00:03:00] I know you're there with your daughters, uh, attempting to keep them busy and stimulated. My wife just left to, uh, go take care of our grandson while our, uh, our daughter works from home, and we're all looking at the same challenge. Those of us who are working with children and many of us, uh, [laughs] we're trying to keep our own minds busy. This is something you've given a lot of thought to I know over the years and it now seems more important than ever.

Emily Lakdawalla: Yes. Uh, it's certainly an interesting challenge for a lot of us to try to maintain our jobs and maintain our children's education, and maintain all of our sanity while we're stuck at home here.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Emily Lakdawalla: Uh, we're actually doing pretty well. My daughters are older now. They're 13 and 10. The 13-year-old's, uh, schooling has transitioned seamlessly online. She's just going, uh, right along with all of her classes. The fifth graders, not so much, but she does have work to do every day. And then she is actually very good at keeping herself busy. But we all want to enrich our lives with science. We're all a little bored staring at the same four walls all day. So, let me give you a couple of ideas for [00:04:00] things you can do to keep the kids and yourself entertained, and then I can, uh, give you some suggestions for how to guide you in making your own activities up for your kids.

So first of all, uh, let's talk about just exploring museums from home. Most of the great museums around the world are really acting fast to put a lot of their exhibit materials online. Um, they've been doing this for years and years and now they're just foregrounding it all. And of course I'm gonna highlight the National Air and Space Museum whose two museums are now closed to the public, but they have something called Air and Space Anywhere where they have a, a single website that's a portal into all of their great online offerings. So you can go explore, uh, the United States' vast collections of space paraphernalia, aerospace, airplanes, spaceships, tours, uh, artifacts, all kinds of interesting things to look at and activities to do.

Another great activity, if you're interested in studying planets, is to study your own planet. And the Washington DC [00:05:00] Capital Weather Gang has something called Weather School for kids at home that they're operating off their Facebook page and they're encouraging children and their parents to go out and make observations of the world around them, of the changing weather, and those kinds of observations, they're science, it's the very first step into understanding how to make observations on other planets. So that's a really fantastic activity to do with your kids and it gets them outdoors as well. And observing how each day is different from the next day, which I think is really helpful right now when all the days seem to be blending together.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Emily Lakdawalla: Um, the last ones, both, uh, more relaxed and I think really super fun, and that's something called Story Time From Space, where actual astronauts on the space station read books aloud while they are floating through the space station, and in different parts of the space station. The books that they read, a lot of them are picture books suitable for younger children, but they read middle school books as well. So, um, really kids of all ages and honestly even adults, uh, can really [laughs] enjoy [00:06:00] the astronauts, uh-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Emily Lakdawalla: ... reading their books from station. Some of them are better reader than others, but it's all just wonderful. And periodically you'll see another astronaut floating around or, or hear pe-, hear cosmonauts talking in Russian in the background, and that's really fun.

The last couple of suggestions I have are back on The Planetary Society's website, planetary.org. A more passive, but really inspiring thing you can do is to just look through our vast space image library, planetary.org/images. We have so many gorgeous images from all over the solar system. If you look down at the bottom of each individual image page, there's keywords that you can click on and then you get a whole host of images that, uh, are tagged with that keyword. And so, um, there's so much to explore there. It's really fun. And then-

Mat Kaplan: It's a beautiful library. Yeah.

Emily Lakdawalla: Yeah. Um, I'm very proud of it. [laughs] So-

Mat Kaplan: You should be.

Emily Lakdawalla: Yeah. And then finally we actually have courses online that are suitable I think for both high school, uh, students and adults. I've created some space image processing tutorials where, uh, [00:07:00] I walk you through the very beginning steps of learning how to process space images. And of course, uh, uh, Dr. Bruce Betts has his own, um, uh, solar system, introduction to the solar system classes. You can get those at planetary.org/bettsclass, and you can take a whole course on the solar system. And so, uh, all of those things I think would be great activities for kids of all ages.

Mat Kaplan: And I got one more to mention and that is the course on how to become a space advocate. Maybe you already are in your own mind, but if you want to make it happen in the real world, there's Casey Dreier's course, uh, for that as well. All three of these are terrific, and of course we got much more on the website. You might want to check out The Planetary Report. Uh, that new Equinox, Vernal Equinox edition is, uh, available right now. And, uh, that's, uh, something, Emily, that, uh, you had tremendous influence over up until just recently when now that you've moved on to, uh, other things. Listen, we still have some time, at least for our podcast listeners, there's so much content out there, not all of it at the [00:08:00] level of quality of the, uh, stuff that you've just described. How can parents and others figure out, uh, what's worth giving time to?

Emily Lakdawalla: Well, fortunately there's guidance in something called the science standards, and every single state has its own set of standards, but an awful lot of them are guided by something called the Next Generation Science Standards. They're sort of a-a guide to the kinds of topics that are suitable for children. And it's not just, uh, a list of topics like, "In first grade you study Earth." No, it's not that simple. It's not about the, the subject matter. It's about the kinds of scientific work that kids of different ages can be expected to do. So I went to the Next Generation Science S-standards website and I just pulled the standards for one particular topic, which is Earth's place in the universe. And so you can see how at different grade levels, uh, the standards ask kids to, um, be able to think about Earth's place in the universe in different ways.

For a first grader or a second grader, [00:09:00] you might expect children to be able to make observations of the Earth at different times of year and relate the amount of day light to the time of year. So you might ask kids to notice when the sun rises, when does it set? They're also learning at that age, how to read time on clocks. And so you can tie reading clocks with looking at when the sunrises and the sunsets. And that's the kind of activity that's appropriate for six-year-olds, five- and six-year-olds.

When you're looking at older kids like who are, you know, nine to 10, fifth grade in the United States, they're expected at that age to develop and use a model of the Earth, sun, moon system to describe the cyclical patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun, and moon. You can see how as kids get older, they're expected to be able to, um, uh, tie their observations to mental models, to things, pictures that they can hold in their head about how Earth, and sun, and moon move with respect to each other. You can't expect a six-year-old to do that, but you can expect a 10-year-old to do that kind of thing. In middle school, [00:10:00] they're expected to understand the role of gravity in motions of the solar system. And you know, it goes on to be more sophisticated as you get kids older and older.

Mat Kaplan: This is terrific. I mean, it's not just learning science, it's learning how to think, uh, how to be rational and, and appreciate everything that's around us. I, I, I think this is just, uh, terrific. So how can people learn more about these standards?

Emily Lakdawalla: Well, you go to the Next Generation Science Standards website and they actually have a really easy form that you can use to plug in the age of the child and the topic area that you're interested in, whether it's Earth and the solar system, or biology, or some other topic. And then you can ask it to spit out, uh, the kinds of topics, the kinds of, uh, subjects and also provides you with a, um, a download of the parti-, of a much longer description of the standards for that particular age. I highly recommend that the parents who are doing science education for their own kids to go there and read. And it helps you understand the, the capability of your child at their [00:11:00] particular age. Um, what they're able to, um, hold in their heads and observe at the same time, and the kinds of reasoning you can expect them to be able to do given their age. It's really valuable.

Mat Kaplan: Great. Great suggestions, Emily. Thank you so much for all of these. There is one more thing that I'm going to mention. Uh, and I only just learned about it in time for us to record this segment. Some of you out there may be able to participate in it live. If not, my assumption is though, I'm not sure, I believe I, I, it's hard to believe that they would not make this available as a recording on demand after the fact. But I was contacted, uh, minutes ago by Danica Remy who is a co-founder of Asteroid Day, and Asteroid Day has gotten together with space agencies around the world, especially the European Space Agency, on Thursday, Thursday, um, evening for some of us, Thursday morning for others, they are going to put together a series of live webcasts. Uh, you can find out about it [00:12:00] at spaceconnects.us, spaceconnects.us.

It's, uh, going to start at 3:00 PM GMT. That would be 8:00 AM Pacific Time. It's in five different languages, beginning with Dutch. The English broadcast will begin at 7:00 PM GMT. That's noon Pacific Time, Pacific Daylight Time, on Thursday, March 26th. Uh, the English portion will be hosted by physicist and science communicator, Brian Cox. So that alone would be worthwhile. But they are put, they have put together this tremendous list of celebrities, of scientists, and of astronauts. I mean, just in the English portion, uh, they've got Tim Peake from the UK, Tom Jones and Nicole Stott, both, uh, past guests on Planetary Radio. We don't have time to read all of these, but, uh, it is well worth checking out. Again, you can find out more at [00:13:00] spaceconnects.us, us. It's not continuous over this period. There are four half hour programs in Dutch, German, Italian, and French, and then an hour of English. Again, that's at 7:00 PM GMT and noon PDT.

Emily, if nothing else, most of us can go outside, stand in the yard or in front of wherever we live, and look up at the night sky if we're lucky enough to have a clear one, or maybe out the window. Because as, uh, my wife said, uh, just before she left to take care of our four-year-old grandson, we can all keep looking up. Thanks very much, and, um, keep sheltering in place.

Emily Lakdawalla: [laughs] And I'll be putting some more stuff out on video as time goes on. So, stay tuned to planetary.org for that.

Mat Kaplan: That's Emily Lakdawalla, our solar system specialists keeping our own minds and the minds of lots of children hopefully, uh, very busy during this unprecedented time around planet Earth. A new edition of The Planetary Report has been available to all for a [00:14:00] couple of weeks now. You'll find the digital version of the magazine at planetary.org. It offers a lot, including a main feature called The Next 10 Years, an introduction to the decadal survey. While there are surveys for each of the four science divisions of NASA, we're going to limit ourselves to planetary science.

The current survey's term ends in 2022. A new planning effort is just getting underway. It will lay out a recommended path for 2023 through 2032. It's remarkable how effective this process has been. With oversight by the National Academy of Sciences, it relies on scores of scientists for its formulation, with thousands more carefully following its progress and many attempting to influence it.

As the effort kicks off, The Planetary Society has invited six distinguished planetary scientists to give us an idea of what to expect. We'll hear from three of them [00:15:00] this weekend, and continue the conversations next week. We begin with Edgard Rivera-Valentin. Ed is a staff scientist with the USRA, the Universities Space Research Association, at the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Ed, welcome to Planetary Radio. I, I guess from reading about you, we could have talked to you about, just about anything in the solar system since your interests are, are pretty much in everything, at least out as far as the outer planet. But you, uh, got Mercury in this, uh, issue, the current issue of The Planetary Report. I'm glad that we can start with you there and we'll work our way out from the sun as we, uh, progress through talking, uh, to your colleagues, who also contributed to, uh, the magazine this time around. And let me just say again, welcome.

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Thank you. Thank you. I'm happy to be talking to you.

Mat Kaplan: Mercury, fascinating little world. As you look over the last 10 or 20 years, we've learned a lot about this little world, haven't we?

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: We definitely have. Um, Mercury [00:16:00] is I'd say one of the more interesting ones. Um, and I was happy to write about it because we've gotten so much radar data on it. One of the first weird things that we found on Mercury was the discovery that its poles might have ice. So you wouldn't expect that when you're talking about the planet that's closest to the sun, right? Uh, you'd imagine a very hot world, there's no way you could have water or ice there. Uh, radar return from both the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Goldstone Solar System Radar showed that there was definitely something very bright right at the poles. And later, once we were able to send, uh, a spacecraft to Mercury, we were able to say, "Yep, there's definitely ice here," and there's still a lot of work going on trying to decipher what that ice is, how did it get there, and how is it forming or was it delivered? There's still a lot to learn about Mercury.

Mat Kaplan: So that's one of the things you'd like to learn more about.

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Yeah.

Mat Kaplan: And i-i-is this ice, is it the same situation that we have on the moon where it's in these [00:17:00] permanently shaded areas that, uh, keep the sun from hitting it directly?

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Correct. Yeah. So Mercury, it's still in its topography is in such a way that at the poles, some of the craters will have parts of them that will be permanently shadowed. They will never see the sun. And because of that, those areas actually can be really, really cold. Um, there you'll be able to store ice either right at the surface or right below the surface, covered by some regular. There are a little bit differences between the type of ice that we think we're seeing at Mercury versus the type of ice that we're seeing at the moon, because when you zap the moon with radar, the returns would tell you there's no such thing as ice there.

Mat Kaplan: Hmm.

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Versus Mercury where it was immediate, there's definitely ice there. So we're thinking that the ice that's at the moon, it's, it's not a lot. It's port fi-, it's what we call port filling. So in the right width or the soil, there's some water ice that's filling in some of the holes inside the soil. While [00:18:00] on Mercury, it might be more like slabs of ice and ...

On Mercury it might be more like slabs of ice and-

Mat Kaplan: Huh.

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: ... soil mixed together. So there's a larger fraction of ice there compared to [inaudible 00:18:08].

Mat Kaplan: What else do we still want to know more about on mercury? I mean, after all, I mean, you mentioned other spacecraft. We had the Messenger spacecraft visit there, uh, and do terrific work up until recently. And, uh, this European spacecraft, BepiColombo, will be arriving before too long to, uh, tell us much more.

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Mercury is more than just the ice. That's one of the things that I really like about it. Mercury is enigmatic from all the way from its formation. The type of data that we've gotten back from Messenger shows us that if you look at Mercury from a geophysics perspective it's mainly a core. About 85% of the volume of Mercury is its core. How did that even happen? Did you have... Did it form that way? Did it form by a bunch of objects that were just really metallic [00:19:00] and all of those metals ended up suddenly into a core or at one point or another they had a large impact combine strip away those outer layers leaving behind, uh, maybe just a mantle covering the core? We still don't know that part.

And also from a solar system formation perspective, uh, in a lot of these models that we use to try to understand how all the planets formed Mercury is really close to what's called one of those boundary conditions, the outer edge of those simulations. So we really can't quite get to making a Mercury. We can reproduce everybody else, but making a Mercury is a little bit more difficult in these types of models. We're getting some hints by looking at exoplanets, but we're still a little unsure how you even get a Mercury. Not only how do you reproduce the interior of it but how do you make it where it's at?

So there's a lot of information to learn about the interior of its body. From a geology perspective, it's covered in [00:20:00] just volcanic plains. There's pyroclastic deposits everywhere. So it was definitely a very active world at one point or another, even though we're seeing a quote unquote dead world today, but some of the data that Messenger brought back is showing us that it's actually still changing. It's contracting. So that's still changing its geology. ,

So BepiColombo when it gets there around... Let's see here. It launched in 2018. BepiColombo should get there on 2025. Um, it's still going to be elucidating a lot of these very important, very fundamental questions for Mercury. How did it form? How the heck do you get the interior, um, to be with something such a large core? And can we better understand the volatiles and the geochemistry that we're seeing on the surface?

Mat Kaplan: And there's one more factor which you mentioned in your TPR, uh, article, and that's the [00:21:00] magnetic field of Mercury, which is something that I... We've had conversations in the past with Sean Solomon about. Of course, he was the PI for the, the Messenger mission. It's still something that we need to learn more about?

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Oh, for sure. The more you learn about magnetic fields the... in planetary science, the more you know that we don't understand them. [laughing] Um, that's the best way I could, uh, describe my mag- magnetism. Yeah, so there's still a lot to learn about how, uh, Mercury is actually generating its magnetic field precisely, better measurements, uh, across the planet at distances so we could better characterize it. BepiColombo will definitely be unraveling a lot from that perspective. I'm... That is one of the fields I am definitely not an expert in. It's just one of those, "Oh, that's really neat." [laughs]

Mat Kaplan: From everything that you've talked about, it sounds like just like with all the other bodies in the solar system, Mercury can teach us a [00:22:00] lot about everything in the solar system and maybe worlds outside the solar system as well. Am I, am I right about that?

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Yeah, for sure. The more we understand the diversity of worlds that we have in our own solar system the better we can understand not only our place in our solar system but also put into context all this new data we're getting from exoplanets. Understanding each and every world, including the first world, Mercury, helps us in getting a better understanding of how even the entire galaxy works.

Mat Kaplan: I got one I got to ask you just because of my science fiction interests. Uh, it's gonna be a little bit out of left field. When I was growing up, when I was a kid, a long time ago, people thought that Mercury was tidally locked, that, uh, it always had one side facing the sun, one side facing away from. We know now of course that that's not the case, but it does rotate pretty slowly. Are you familiar with... There was a great book by a Kim Stanley [00:23:00] Robinson past guest on our show, 2312. And in it it's got a lot of highly speculative, marvelous stuff. He actually talks about a city on Mercury appropriately called Terminator, and this city crawls along tracks so that it can always stay in that twilight zone, the terminator zone. Uh, so that it's neither frozen nor roasted. I... A completely novel idea or have you ever heard of this?

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: No, I have not read this. Now I need to.

Mat Kaplan: I highly recommend it. There's a lot of other stuff in it like, like colonies on Io where I'm not sure I would ever want to even visit much less live there. It's an absolutely fascinating and... As is Mercury. I appreciate your taking a few minutes to, uh, introduce us to it. And I, I hope like with all of the, the articles by your colleagues, uh, that people will take a look at the digital version of the Planetary Report, which is available at [00:24:00] Planetary.org. I've got just one more question for you. I know you're very involved with sharing science, uh, with the larger community and including young people, and there's one, one group in particular I'm curious about. Correct me if I get it wrong, but I think it's the Boricua Planeteers. Why... What's that about?

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Yes. So Boricua Planeteers is a group of Puerto Rican planetary scientists, including myself and a bunch of my friends from PR. We're spread across the US. The point of the group is to increase the visibility of latinx, specifically in this case, Puerto Rican scientists, but to also bring back planetary science to Puerto Rico. So PR we have the Arecibo Observatory, right? The best radar telescope, the second largest radio telescope. But education wise on the island astronomy hasn't been one of the major focuses. In fact out of the about a 100 universities that we have in Puerto Rico only three offer [00:25:00] bachelors degrees in even physics. And there's no astronomy degree granting program in PR yet.

So we thought of putting together this group to be able to increase the ability for students to get into planetary science, to give them those opportunities in Puerto Rico and across the US, and to let people know that there are such thing as latinx scientists doing really cool science.

Mat Kaplan: That's outstanding. Great outreach work and, and great science, uh, to compliment it. Thanks so much, Ed. I- I'm a very glad that, uh, you could join us to kick off this, uh, coverage of what's ahead the next 10 years for our solar system.

Edgard Rivera-Valentn: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.

Mat Kaplan: Edgard Rivera-Valentin of the Lunar and Planetary Institute. We'll take up Venus next right after a brief break.

Deborah Fischer: Hi, I'm Yale astronomer, Deborah Fischer. I've spent the last 20 years of my professional life searching for other worlds. Now I've taken on the 100 Earths Project. We want to discover 100 earth sized [00:26:00] exoplanets circling nearby stars. It won't be easy. With your help, the Planetary Society will fund a key component of an exquisitely precise spectrometer. You can learn more and join the search at planetary.org/100earths. Thanks.

Mat Kaplan: Continuing our survey of the solar system, we move out one big rock from Mercury for a conversation with Joseph O'Rourke. Joe is an assistant professor in the school of earth and space exploration at Arizona State University. He serves on the steering committee of NASA's Venus exploration analysis group. Joe, welcome to Planetary radio as we, uh, continue our little tour of the solar system looking 10 years out. Glad to have you here.

Joseph O'Rourke: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to talk about Venus.

Mat Kaplan: You say that it is the most Earth-like planet that there is. You're not the first person I've heard say that, but it still sounds slightly outrageous. Can you make that case?

Joseph O'Rourke: Yes. If we were an alien astronomer looking at our [00:27:00] solar system using the same telescopes that we use to study exoplanets today Earth and Venus would be indistinguishable. They have the same mass, the same radius to within reasonable uncertainties. Venus is just a tiny bit smaller than earth and they're both compositions are similar. So if you were an alien astronomer looking at our solar system to first order you would think that Venus and Earth are similar planets.

Of course, when you look more closely Venus is different than Earth in terms of its habitability. Venus is a hellish wasteland, whereas Earth has been [inaudible 00:27:35] for billions of years. If we want to understand anything about rocky planets, we need to understand why Venus and Earth are so different on the surface, but so similar in almost every other respect.

Mat Kaplan: You take me back to when I was a little kid. I remember seeing artists' concepts of the surface of Venus and it looked like something from 65, 70 million years ago on earth. [00:28:00] Huge plants. It was hot. It was tropical, and, you know, something like dinosaurs wandering around and then we got this rude awakening, right, which partly came from people like one of our founders, Carl Sagan. It's kind of toasty down there, a lot more than tropical.

Joseph O'Rourke: Yes, exactly. Uh, science fiction books would show pictures of a jungle Venus because we thought we... We've known for a long time that Venus has clouds that cover the entire surface. Early astronomers thought those might be water clouds like on Earth, uh, in which case Venus would be a sort of swampy muggy world. But we now know that those clouds are sulfuric acid. The atmosphere is over 90% carbon dioxide, and the surface temperatures on Venus are hot enough to melt lead. So not a place you'd want to spend much time.

Mat Kaplan: That is the great cliche yet so true. Don't bring anything made out of lead to the surface of Venus on-

Joseph O'Rourke: Yes.

Mat Kaplan: When you visit there as a tourist. Okay. So then along comes Magellan, that [00:29:00] enormously successful spacecraft. It's hard to believe that it arrived at, uh, at Venus 30 years ago. I love that you pointed... point out that you were 10 days old when it happened. And we learned a little bit more about, uh, Venus because we were finally able to look through those clouds with, with some kind of accuracy, right?

Joseph O'Rourke: Exactly. You can't see the surface with visible light, but you can see the surface with radar and in a few spectral windows using infrared light. So the Magellan mission produced these amazing global maps of the surface with a resolution of just over 100 meters per pixel. And those geologic maps revolutionized our understanding of Venus basically by revealing that we have no understanding of Venus. [laughing] The surface geology, it's, uh, revealed that Venus is... has a young surface. It's an active world, but the surface geology is unlike any other planet in the solar system.

Mat Kaplan: The only other two spacecraft, Venus Express, it's done did... finished its work in [00:30:00] 2014, Akatsuki, that that plucky little spacecraft that had such trouble getting into orbit, but it's still there today doing some work. Have we learned much more from them and, and what about?

Joseph O'Rourke: Yes, we've learned tons from both of those fabulous missions. My own background is in geophysics and geology. And those two missions were designed to study, uh, atmospheric science, uh, but Venus Express in particular carried an infrared instrument that provided some constraints on the surface. It's provided these fascinating hints that terrain called tessera on the surface might have granite light compositions, which would mean that they are analogous to continents on Earth and signatures of abundant liquid water at some point in the past. Japanese mission has discovered, uh, an array of amazing meteorological features, uh, such as this huge, uh, stationary wave in the atmosphere. And it's produced some of the best maps of 3D wind speeds in the Venus [00:31:00] atmosphere.

Mat Kaplan: That has, uh, come up, uh, before on our show, a little bit of, uh, those results from Akatsuki. Uh, we all know that there still nevertheless has been this long drought in, uh, missions to Venus as you mentioned, but maybe it's going to come to an end. You must be pretty thrilled as a Venus guy to see that, uh, there are a couple of missions that are now being considered as finalists or semi-finalists anyway, no finalists I think, by NASA.

Joseph O'Rourke: I would call them finalists. Uh-

Mat Kaplan: Yeah.

Joseph O'Rourke: Yes, the VERITAS and the Da Vinci Plus missions. Um, NASA should pick both of them. [laughing] The science, uh, that both the missions would do does not really overlap. They aren't redundant with each other. And the Venus community has consistently said that the science goals of these missions are top priorities for the Venus community.

Mat Kaplan: Would either of these or maybe both be able to give us some more evidence about those strange structures that indicated [inaudible 00:31:56] you, you say in the article, it's possible that once upon a [00:32:00] time Venus was a very different place and maybe it did have oceans as we have today on Earth.

Joseph O'Rourke: Yes. The VERITAS mission is the natural successor to Magellan. It would use a updated radar instrument and a much better infrared camera, uh, to return data that are at least in order of magnitude, often many orders of magnitude, better than Magellan. So I really want to see the VERITAS mission fly in order to answer some of these questions that the community has debated answers to over the past three decades. I would say that Venus absolutely has volcanic activity and tectonic activity that have occurred in recent times. Uh, we have lots of powerful evidence for recent volcanism on Venus.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Joseph O'Rourke: You see what looked like volcanic flows that are probably fairly young and there are chemical species in the atmosphere that would decay within a few million years if they weren't being constantly replenished by volcanoes, uh, in recent times, at least what counts to [00:33:00] geologists as recent times.

Mat Kaplan: We all know that you, you geologists, your, your timescales are a little bit different from those of us who just deal with, uh, lifetimes of humans. Wha- what are we talking about? Millions of years ago or, or tens of thousands of years ago.

Joseph O'Rourke: Arguably tens... as early as tens of thousands. Uh, what would be really exciting with the mission, again, like VERITAS is you can use modern radar techniques to study active surface de- deformation at Venus. And so you could possibly see much stronger evidence for, um, active meaning today, not just geologically recent volcanism on Venus.

Mat Kaplan: So I take it that the radar we're talking about that we would be able to send now all these decades after Magellan would deliver far better performance than Magellan could.

Joseph O'Rourke: Absolutely. The maps of the surface of Venus we have now are comparable to what we had for Mars in the 1970s. And I think it's time that, uh, the most interesting planet in our solar system, uh, that we had comparable data from it, uh, that [00:34:00] we can achieve on any other planet.

Mat Kaplan: Let's go to a, a theme which I think is going to run through every one of these conversations, uh, with you contributors to the current issue of the Planetary Report, and that is how the study of a word like Venus can help us understand other worlds in our solar system and of increasing importance the worlds, we're discovering the thousands of them that we find circling other stars that we, we talk about a lot on this show.

Joseph O'Rourke: Yes. I think the exoplanet revolution is one of the most powerful motivations for further exploration of Venus. If we don't understand why Venus and Earth are different than we don't know in general how rocky planets evolve and what governs whether they're habitable or not. And in that case, if we can't understand Earth and Venus it's useless to speculate about the possible fates of, uh, rocky worlds around other stars. If we can't understand the exoplanet in our own backyard, [00:35:00] uh, how will we understand the exoplanets that we can't go out and touch, go out and observe at, at close range?

Mat Kaplan: Well, best of luck to you and all the other Venus scientists out there who have their fingers crossed that, uh, NASA picks at least one and to make, uh, you happy, both of those venous missions which are now being considered as discovery class missions and would, and would visit Venus for the first time in, well, quite a few years. Before I leave you though, I got to ask you, you, you warned me. In fact, we had to change the time of our conversation a little bit because you had to, uh, have a meeting with some folks from JPL. I'll say a remote meeting because of course you are observing social distancing like the rest of us. And you mentioned that it had something to do with a, a proposal that you guys have for a mission. What's this about?

Joseph O'Rourke: I am the principal investigator of a mission called Athena, which is a small sat about the size of a mini fridge before we extend the solar panels that would visit one of the largest [00:36:00] asteroids in the main asteroid belt, uh, to understand how [inaudible 00:36:04].

... -roids, and the main asteroid belt, uh, to understand how water-rich it is. To understand how water has influenced its, uh, formation and evolution, and thus to understand, um, how the, uh, planetesimals that were formed on the asteroid belt may have delivered water to the inner solar system in the earliest epoch of planet formation.

Read the original here:

The Next 10 Years of Planetary Exploration - The Planetary Society

NASA Space Rock Exploration Will Elude Building-Size Stones To Steal An Example About Bennu – NationEditions

Grabbing a bit of space rock Bennu should be well, difficult, yet positively reasonable: scope out the space rock, locate some level spots, swoop down at one, return home.

Grabbing a bit of space rock Bennu should be well, difficult, yet without a doubt reasonable: scope out the space rock, locate some level spots, swoop down at one, return home.

In any case, when NASAs OSIRIS-REx shuttle showed up at Bennu in December 2018, the researchers and architects on the crucial that the space rock was a whole lot rockier than they had anticipated. Like, rocks all over. Rocks are as large as structures. Stones you dont need your extravagant rocket to strike into.

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OSIRIS-REx, which propelled in 2016, has a lidar route framework that would have permitted the shuttle to perceive snags dependent on the echoes of a light pillar the test delivered. Be that as it may, when the strategic Bennus surface in the entirety of its rough greatness, researchers and designers concluded the time had come to think of something new.

The outcome is a procedure the group is calling Natural Feature Tracking, which depends on the huge picture database that OSIRIS-REx has developed in the months since it showed up at Bennu and started taking pictures of the space rock from all points imaginable.

It will start taking still progressively such photographs, which its PC framework will consequently contrast with the filed pictures demonstrating the way it ought to be following. On the off chance that those perspectives dont arrange, the shuttle will naturally withdraw for another endeavor, instead of hazard harm on the dangerous surface.

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On the off chance that the framework fills in as arranged, it should help OSIRIS-RExs exactness: Whereas its lidar framework was just intended for precision inside a site 164 feet (50 meters) over, Natural Feature Tracking will be sufficiently exact to handle an objective zone simply 10% that size, NASA authorities said in an announcement.

Researchers on the OSIRIS-REx crucial chose two objective examining destinations on Bennu, named Nightingale and Osprey. The missions window for examining opens in late August so as to guarantee that the shuttle can leave Bennu one year from now. On the off chance that all works out in a good way, researchers ought to have their space rock on Earth in 2023.

About Space magazine takes you on a sensational excursion through our close planetary system and past, from the astonishing innovation and shuttle that empowers humankind to wander into space, to the complexities of room science. View Deal

However, when NASAs OSIRIS-REx rocket showed up at Bennu in December 2018, the researchers and architects on the crucial that the space rock was a whole lot rockier than they had anticipated. Like, rocks all over the place. Rocks are as large as structures. Rocks you dont need your extravagant rocket to hit into.

OSIRIS-REx, which propelled in 2016, has a lidar route framework that would have permitted the rocket to perceive impediments dependent on the echoes of a light shaft the test delivered. Be that as it may, when the crucial Bennus surface in the entirety of its rough greatness, researchers and architects concluded the time had come to think of something new.

The outcome is a procedure the group is calling Natural Feature Tracking, which depends on the monstrous picture database that OSIRIS-REx has developed in the months since it showed up at Bennu and started taking pictures of the space rock from all edges imaginable.

As the test leaves on an inspecting endeavor, it will start taking still increasingly such photographs, which its PC framework will consequently contrast with the filed pictures demonstrating the way it ought to be following. In the event that those perspectives dont arrange, the shuttle will naturally withdraw for another endeavor, as opposed to hazard harm on the risky surface.

On the off chance that the framework functions as arranged, it should support OSIRIS-RExs precision: Whereas its lidar framework was just intended for exactness inside a site 164 feet (50 meters) over, Natural Feature Tracking will be sufficiently exact to handle an objective region simply 10% that size, NASA authorities said in an announcement.

Researchers on the OSIRIS-REx crucial chose two objective inspecting destinations on Bennu, named Nightingale and Osprey. The missions window for inspecting opens in late August so as to guarantee that the rocket can leave Bennu one year from now. In the event that all works out in a good way, researchers ought to have their space rock on Earth in 2023.

About Space magazine takes you on a sensational excursion through our close planetary system and past, from the astounding innovation and rocket that empowers humankind to wander into space, to the complexities of room science.

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Continued here:

NASA Space Rock Exploration Will Elude Building-Size Stones To Steal An Example About Bennu - NationEditions

A message from MIT astronauts: Accept the mission and find your motivators – MIT News

Keeping our distance from each other for an extended period of time is the most effective way to reduce Covid-19s reach. But the prospect of prolonged social isolation is uncharted territory for many.

To get some perspective on how we all might navigate lives of temporary separation, MIT News checked in with three MIT alumni who have spent months at a time living quite literally away from the rest of the world, on humanitys only outpost in space. Cady Coleman 83, Mike Fincke 89, and Greg Chamitoff 92 have all served long-duration missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as NASA astronauts. While orbiting some 250 miles above Earth, they lived and worked in quarters about the size of a large house, with only the occasional opportunity to step outside of that house, on spacewalks to repair or maintain the station.

Even as they were physically isolated from the rest of the planet for months at a time, the astronauts found ways to bridge the distance with family and friends, over the phone, and through video chats. Just as importantly, they also made sure to find time for themselves, and embrace their isolation. Coleman, Fincke, and Chamitoff shared some of the lessons they learned from living in space, and how we can all commit to a mission to live, at least for now, at a distance.

Q: What was it like for you to be isolated from the rest of the world for long durations, even with the ability to email and video-chat with people on the ground?

CHAMITOFF: Living on the International Space Station is very much like being stuck in your house with a few people for a very long period of time. The ISS has about as much living space as a six-bedroom house. And hopefully you like your roommates and have established mechanisms for getting along even when there are disagreements. In space you feel separated from the rest of society you are the only ones off the entire planet!

I expected to feel lonely during my six months in space, but it was quite the opposite. Having a daily sense of purpose, countless tasks and experiments to perform, and communication with people all over the world provided so much engagement with the world that loneliness was not a factor. There are some lessons here, perhaps, for everyone who now has to stay at home during this crisis.

COLEMAN: I think what makes everything work is the mission. As an astronaut, I was on the forward edge of exploration, representing the many people who make the ISS mission and experiments happen. Right now our mission is to keep each other safe here on Earth. I think keeping that mission in mind makes it easier to wash your hands that one more time when you really dont feel like it, and to tell friends who are more casual about social distancing things like, No, I really dont think its safe to do that together for now.

FINCKE: Were such social creatures that it is going to be a challenge for a lot of people to be a little homebound and not go out. For astronauts its something were used to it comes with the territory.

Q: What do you remember of some of your more challenging times of isolation in space? How did you work through it, mentally or physically?

FINCKE: My first long-duration mission was during a time when the space shuttle was grounded because of an accident, and there were only two of us aboard the ISS for six months, with no visitors. When youre in a confined space with someone else, you really have to make an extra effort to get along. We probably are all hard to live with. Some things Ive learned in space Ive taken back to the ground, for instance to tell my wife I appreciate her that much more, and things like that. You really learn to value relationships.

COLEMAN: We had one crew member whose mom passed away fairly unexpectedly while we were in space. We established wed have our own memorial service at the same time as the funeral back home. And I looked at the world map and realized we were going to be passing over his hometown at the time of the funeral. So the six of us were there in the cupola together, and we had a few moments of silence, and I really felt we were together with all the family on the ground. When the mission youve chosen forces you to be isolated, you find a way to be the best you can.

CHAMITOFF: Hurricane Ike struck Houston during my long-duration mission. Johnson Space Center shut down and people were evacuating the city. Operations on the ISS came to a near standstill. For almost a week onboard, we were much more isolated than usual, and were determined to get useful things done. We had a task list of unscheduled activities, and if we could do them without ground support, we did. Admittedly, we watched more movies, did more exercise, slept more, and spent longer periods together talking at meals. We were worried about our loved ones on the ground, but the slower pace was good for our morale and camaraderie onboard.

Q: Are there any tips that you can share to help people get through and perhaps even embrace this social-distancing period?

FINCKE: Maintaining a schedule, things to look forward to, and things to do and check off your list, can be a tool to help us all. Onboard the space station, as the mission progressed, we had things to look forward to, like the next cargo ship that came to give us new food, or a spacewalk, which is a really big deal. Same thing here: Just because I dont have to go into work doesnt mean I shouldnt get up and be showered and dressed just like I would. Going to the grocery store tomorrow, even if its a little thing, is something to look forward to.

Also, find out what your motivators are. For me, I read science fiction, and at one point, NASA was able to give me an e-reader and I read about 50-60 books when I was up there. That was my thing. It can be a little lonely. So you need to know what your own motivators are.

CHAMITOFF: Engage with people using FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or whatever tools you like. Make virtual plans with people. Spend time outside. I believe that when this is all over, we will have stronger and closer relationships because of it. Talk to your family and friends perhaps more than you usually do. In space, I spoke to a friend or family member every night. It was a highlight of my day.

COLEMAN: One of the things you have to do is figure out how to have some ways you have your space, whether mental or physical. If theres someone in the house coming up to you every time they see a new notice about the coronavirus, you may have trouble having a straight thought about what were trying to do. So maybe say, lets read those things twice a day. There are a lot of things we cant control now. What are the things we can? We can control the things we learn. Im thinking I may take some Skype lessons for playing the flute, and learning Chinese has always been on my list, as well as practicing my Russian. There are projects I have on my list, from finishing my website to cleaning out my attic, and right now it feels like I may, in a joyful and not so joyful way, get them all done.

Q: What about the experience of being isolated for so long was surprising or unexpected for you?

COLEMAN: I think about the things I wish I did when I was up on the space station. One is get enough sleep. Probably my whole life Ive never gotten enough sleep, especially at MIT, right? So taking care of yourself is a really good thing prioritize that. And also, some kind of journaling or recording: Jot a few notes, capture this time for yourself, whether you plan to share it with anyone or not. Take pictures that help people realize what it was like for you. Because your experiences may be valuable to others in the future.

FINCKE: Having been more isolated, its times like these, where an outside forcing function is bringing us together, that I value this time with my family even more. Take this time to focus on the human relationships reach out, send an email, call someone, because theres a little more opportunity now.

CHAMITOFF: Life will be a bit different, but you will adapt to it quickly. We are an incredibly adaptable species. We live in all sorts of extreme environments, including zero-gravity. One thing we do need, however, is each other. We cant do this alone. Consider reaching out to others if you know they are alone. As long as we have family and friends to share this experience with, we will be okay.


A message from MIT astronauts: Accept the mission and find your motivators - MIT News

Do We Really Need to Send Humans into Space? – Scientific American

What future lies ahead for humans in space? Last year, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing found a host of private and governmental projects that aim to send astronauts far beyond the near-Earth orbits that have limited human space exploration since 1972. China, which landed the first spacecraft on the lunar far side in 2019, has plans to place astronauts to the moon. India, which crashed a lander on the moon in 2019, dreams of doing likewise. Russia, which doesnt seem to have much of an ongoing astronaut program, still provides the rockets and launch facilities that provide astronauts with access to the International Space Station. The Trump administration proposes to create a lunar base as a key step in sending astronauts to Mars. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have spent large sums on future human space missions. Indeed, Musk has already created a thriving rocket business, which NASA uses to resupply the Space Station, 250 miles above Earths surface.

What benefits will flow from these efforts to send humans much farther into space? As children of the 1950s, we were thrilled and inspired by the satellites that began to circle Earth in 1957, the first astronautswho followed similar paths in the 1960s and made the first spacewalk in 1965and what turned out to be the culmination of human spaceflight: NASAs six astronaut explorations of the lunar surface from 1969 through 1972. Beyond any scientific returns, these efforts elevated the human spirit, reaching a peak on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong set humanitys first footprints on the moon. During the 1960s, we became astronomers with a deep passion to explore the cosmos.

But the past five decades have taught a clear lesson about how best to explore the cosmos. People venturing into space are fragile: They require a continuous supply of oxygen, water, food and shelter. They must endure long intervals of weightlessness. Their physical capabilities remain constant across generations. And their loss, when it occurs, casts a pall over our would-be joy of identifying with their exploration. In contrast, automated spacecraft require only a power supply. They cost far less than humans do, and we know how to improve them every year. And if they fail, we lose only dollars and scientific results.

Since the first moon landing, we have sent several hundred probes throughout the solar system, from innermost Mercury to Arrokoth (previously nicknamed Ultima Thule), a planetesimal orbiting far beyond Pluto. Spacecraft have landed on Mercury, Venus and Mars, spent years in orbit around Jupiter and Saturn, and surveyed Uranus and Neptune. And the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft will soon pass by Earth to release a capsule with material from the asteroid Ryugu, one of the oldest members of the solar system. Multiple lunar missions have mapped the moons far side, detected the gravitational anomalies that make the man in the moon always face Earth and discovered huge amounts of water frozen in the soil at the lunar poles.

Limited to low-Earth orbits, astronauts have basically performed extensive experiments on the hazards and requirements of living in space-bound habitats. By far, the finest achievement of humans in space has been the five servicing missions that allowed astronauts to repair instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits Earth at the maximum altitude that the now defunct Space Shuttle could carry it to. Astronomers, who cheered these efforts more than anyone, remained deeply aware of an ironic fact: Hubble suffers from close proximity to our planet, whose reflected and emitted radiation greatly hampers the telescopes ability to peer clearly and deeply into space. The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to supplant the now creaky Hubble next year, will be directed to the much more astronomically favored L2 point (for second Lagrange point), a million miles from Earth. Spacecraft at L2 can easily maintain a stable orbit, avoiding the slow drift that gravitational tugs from the sun and moon produce elsewhere. Astronomers have already maintained spacecraft at L2 to observe the cosmos in infrared, ultraviolet and x-radiation, unaffected by interference from our own planet.

Why, then, should we not expect future astronauts, if called upon, to repair one of the numerous space-borne instruments to be sent to L2? An astronaut expedition to repair one of these great observatories at L2 would involve at least as much complexity as a landing on the moonand possibly a greater expense than the creation and launch of a new and improved observational platform. In fact, the missions to repair the Hubble telescope cost significantly more than replacing it with a newer and better version. But these missions elevated our spirits, whereas writing off the telescope would have been a profound downera reminder that public opinion, which would have scorned the latter action while celebrating the former, understandably plays a crucial role in determining what our government chooses to do.

The contrast between astronaut and automated space missions will grow ever stronger as we improve our miniaturization, virtual-reality and artificial-intelligence capabilities. Today a trained geologist on the moon can perform as well as a robotic explorer, but the future of geologic investigation of other worlds lies with highly improved versions of our Mars rovers. These explorers will deploy numerous tools to probe rocks and minerals, using a memory equaland soon superiorto any humans. They will traverse the lunar or Martian surface for decades, continuously learning about the topography, seismographic activity and distribution of geologic strata in bulk and in detail. Conceptually similar robots will eventually be able to repair spacecraft at the L2 point, while others could construct complex structures in space, including an array of radio telescopes on the radio-quiet far side of the moon.

The fundamental issue of sending humans into the cosmos asks not how easily astronauts can repair instruments in deep space, how quickly they can land on the moon and construct a base there, or why they should travel to Mars and attempt to create a habitat there. Instead it queries, Why should we do any of this? Four major motivations deserve special attention as answers to this question.

Uplifting the human spirit. Sending humans into space adds glory to our lives. Overcoming the manifold challenges to long-term spaceflight inspires and delights us. Almost everyone naturally responds to heroic accomplishments, and many of us would regard a human landing on Mars as a paramount achievement of our species. But to many scientists, and to some among the public, such potent reactions fail to justify the costs and dangers of these missions.

We should note that several other motivations lie behind the push for astronaut expeditions to our celestial neighbors. These include the desire to outdo our rivals, the belief that space offers an eventual refuge from a debilitated Earth and an eagerness to exploit raw materials in the nearby solar system. Each of these arguments, in our opinion, favor expeditions not with humans but with our ever improved spacecraft and robot explorersat least until the habitats for the refuge of a chosen population are ready.

National pride. The cold war argument that the Russians could seize the high ground by establishing a lunar base never made sense, because any nation seeking to use space to launch weapons would attempt to do so close to Earth, not from a quarter-million miles away. There remains the pride that a nation may feel from sending the first humans to other worlds, as when President Donald Trump exalts a future when American astronauts will plant our beautiful Stars and Stripes on the surface of Mars, adding the pride of ownership to the thrill of human achievement.

Human survival. Shortly before his death in 2018, Stephen Hawking stated that spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth. More recently, Bezos has said that humans need space travel because we are in the process of destroying this planet. Among other outcomes, he envisions giant space colonies that would each allow millions of people to live in space.

To their enthusiasts, giant space colonies and human habitats on Mars offer not only sites to develop a better society but also places where we may modify humans themselves, partly for adaptation to the lower gravity on Mars or, in many scenarios, to the artificial gravitational force produced within the enormous rotating wheel of a million-person posthuman environment, where genetic engineering could attempt to reduce diseases and prolong human life.

Such future plans appeal to those who see Earths future as deeply uncertain or even hopeless. A moments thought, however, tends to reveal that (a) the notion that we can learn from our errors on Earth in order to survive in space involves pie-in-the-sky optimism and (b) the billions of people to be left behind deserve greater consideration. If we cant solve humanitys problem on our home planet, we seem highly unlikely to be able to do so by establishing ourselves in space.

Raw materials. Although less cited in the wider world, a great incentive for reaching nearby solar system objects springs from an old-fashioned, solid desire: the quest for raw materials for profit. One of the asserted justifications for sending humans back to the moon focuses on their potential for harvesting helium-3, a rare isotope of helium. Unlike those of helium-4, the far more common stable isotope of the element, helium-3 nuclei will fuse readily once they reach a sufficiently high temperature. Because this fusion releases large amounts of energy but no radioactive by-products, helium-3 nuclei could provide an almost ideal nuclear fuel. On Earth, helium-3 nuclei furnish only about one one-millionth of already scarce helium nuclei, but their relative abundance in lunar soil rises 100 times higher. Visionaries propose a future society that runs on helium-3 nuclei from the moon, which contains enough of these nuclei to provide many centuries of the worlds current power consumption.

The asteroids likewise offer a road to wealth. Although most asteroids have a composition that resembles Earths, a few of them consist largely of metals such as iron, nickel and cobalttogether with a much smaller amount of silver, gold and platinum. A metal-rich asteroid that is only the size of a house would contain a million pounds of metal, including 100 pounds of platinum, gold and other rare metals. We can imagine future space missions that use the more abundant minerals for the construction of mining colonies but that draw the bulk of their profits from the return of the most valuable metals to Earth.

Do any existing international agreements deal with these issues? In 1967 several countries ratified the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, whose full formal title includes the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. The 100-plus nations that ratified this treaty include all those likely to carry out space exploration during the coming decades (with the possible exception of Iran, which signed the treaty but did not ratify it).

The treatys key provisions forbid placing weapons of mass destruction on the moon, in orbit or elsewhere in outer space. They also state that celestial bodies are to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and are not subject to national appropriation by any means and that all parties will follow international law in their activities relating to the exploration and use of outer space. One may easily see that space lawyers, who have a growing future ahead of them, can dispute the term national appropriation, which hardly seems to rule out operations by private parties that do not add directly to a nations wealth. Furthermore, the current geopolitical climate suggests the treatys terms might not fully govern the actions of any state or private party.

Lets examine the arguments in favor of sending humans into space in the in reverse order from which we have posed them.

Raw materials and the transformation of planetary surfaces. In 2015 the U.S. Congress passed legislation, informally known as the SPACE Act, that denies any assertion of authority over cosmic objects but promotes the right of U. S. citizens (which naturally includes corporations) to engage in the commercial recovery of space resources free from harmful interference ... subject to authorization and continuing supervision by the Federal Government. The marvelous word recovery, common in mineral-extraction circles, tends to hide the obvious impacts of such activities. On a moral basis, do we, as humans, U.S. citizens, or private individuals or corporations, possess the right to alter or even destroy the landscape of other celestial objects? To some, the answer is obvious: Of course we do. And the resources of these worlds belong to those who can first exploit them.

The opposing moral argument begins with the thought that humans ought not to embark on these activities lightly, because whatever we do may not be capable of being repaired. To scientists, the gravest threat from the recovery of other worlds resources resides in the possibility that human activities can forever cloud our knowledge of the origin and distribution of life in the solar system. Wherever we land, we inevitably leave behind traces of our own forms of life. NASA has worried about this problem ever since the first lunar probes and has taken pains, which the agency knows can never be entirely successful, to avoid the biological contamination of other worlds. Large-scale extraction efforts, however, could never proceed without this contamination. Even the moon or asteroids, hostile to life though they now are, may contain traces of past biological activity.

For colonies on Marseven harmless ones whose purpose is purely explorationthe problem increases steeply: Most experts agree that life probably existed on Mars when water ran freely over its surface and may that it may yet survive in underground pools. The discovery of life on a nearby world should reveal, through comparison of its DNA or equivalent material, whether life in the solar system originated separately or transferred itself from world to world onboard meteoroids or asteroids. If we find Earth-like organisms on Mars, our ability to discriminate will be lost if we cannot tell whether this transfer occurred in recent years or eons before.

Advocates of exploiting other worlds often point to a glorious future on Mars after engineers have terraformed the planet to produce more Earth-like conditions. By releasing sufficiently large amounts of carbon dioxide that currently reside in rocks and in Marss modest polar caps, along with other gases even better at trapping heat, we could produce a greenhouse effect that would raise the planets surface temperature and increase its atmospheric pressure to the point that liquid water could once again flow over the Martian surface. Those who oppose reworking an entire planet begin with a hard look at what humans have done to terraform Earth.

Human survival. Aside from the immense difficulties of creating sustainable, million-person colonies (required for sufficient long-term genetic variation), any lunar or planetary colonists will bring the same human attributes that have caused problems on Earth. In addition, plans to leave behind eight billion of their fellow humans on a dying planet might produce unrest sufficient to derail the project.

National pride. One need not be a one-worlder to recognize that national competition to explore nearby objectsand, even more so, to exploit space resourcesfails to furnish a sustainable basis for rational exploration. By exporting our Earthly competition into space, we increase the likelihood of conflict in both venues.

Uplifting the human spirit. Debating the wisdom of sending humans into space inevitably returns to the immense boost that humanity will receive from tracking astronauts as they explore other worlds. Undeniable though these emotions may be, they hardly settle the issue. What remains is the key question of whether this spiritual uplift so far surpasses any news that may be sent by spacecraft that humans in space must be worth the expense and the danger of contaminating other worlds, along with encouraging the exploitation of these worlds for economic gain.

Approximately 3 percent of astronauts who have begun a journey into space have not survived. Although our increased understanding of how to launch and return spacecraft safely may reduce this percentage, space tourisma phrase that suggests that ordinary people can enjoy the thrill of travel around the Earth or even fartherconceals the actual risks. Space travelers will long resemble stunt motorcyclist Evel Knievel more than they do Jules Vernes fictional adventurer Phileas Fogg.

Those who feel that our automated planetary explorers can never come close to the human experience in uplifting our spirits may find a modest rebuttal in our robotic explorers on Mars, which have commanded widespread attention and even some human identification during their years on the red planet. NASAs Opportunity rover, for example, spent more than 15 years on Mars and traversed complex topography for more than two dozen miles, at a price tag that is almost certainly less than 1 percent of what a comparable human expedition would cost today. In addition, we may reasonably expect that popular culture will expand our identification with our marvelous spacefaring machines.

Private expeditions. This discussion has assumed the existence of a forum to debate the pros and cons of humans in space and reach a (more or less) logical conclusion. What of the superrich who operate free from such constraints? The exploitation of raw materials in space offers a wide range of construction, destruction and confrontation among private parties and corporations. If these parties choose to act, who can stop them? Should we try? Human history shows that no scarcity of volunteers will arrive, including those who would gladly gain fame from being among the first to land, for example, on Mars, without any prospect of a return journey.

What, then, should be done? Should members of the public confront these arguments and attempt to influence governmental decisions? Do we want to regulate space adventuringand if so, how? Or do we prefer to let the space frontier work itself out? Private individuals, though aware of the considerations we have raised, need answer to none but themselves in their spacefaring endeavors. Statements by Musk and Bezos testify to deep beliefs in human activities in space, which they apparently regard as not even requiring justification. Musk has so deeply embraced the belief that only humans in space can fulfill the human desire to explore other worlds that he has tweeted nuke Mars! to express his plan to use nuclear weapons in order to release carbon dioxide stored in the Martian soil and polar caps in order to create a greenhouse effect to warm the planet.

Whether the exploits proposed by Musk and Bezos will inspire us to greater efforts on Earthor cause us to imagine that we can forget about problems on our planetremains an open question. Because little hope of curtailing these endeavors exists, we may do well to let them advance as the masters of space would wish, believing, as we always must, that humans will soon see the wisest way to proceed.

None of our discussion and suggestions looks beyond the next few decades, a sufficiently long stretch of time to beware the accuracy of our predictive abilities. If human civilization successfully overcomes its current problems and achieves long-term stability, we shall certainly send people to the other worlds in our solar system. If we discover much faster means of propulsion or find a way to prolong human life or invent a means of inducing limitless suspension of life during a multicentury journey, we can send humans to the nearest stars and their planetary systems. If we create human colonies in space, their inhabitants might undergo evolutionary changes that make them more fit for space travel. If, as is likely to happen soon, we can manipulate the human genome as we like, we could manufacture a new set of beings designed for space travel.

None of these ifs tells us much about what we should do within the next few years. Nor do they rule out machines as superior to whatever humans we may invent. Designs now exist for spacecraft that include photography and radio communication equipment, but which weigh only one-thirtieth of an ounce. These could be accelerated by lasers to 20 percent of the speed of light and reach the closest stars within a couple of decades. This concept leads to the mind-bending, though hardly impossible, notion that eventually we can send human consciousness, downloaded from individuals or created by artificial intelligence, to nanoexplorers that will range through the vastness of space in the name of humanity. Possibly, they may meet and interact with similar probes from an array of other civilizations.

Meanwhile we would do well to ponder the current advantages that our automated explorers of realms close to Earth maintain over their human counterparts.

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Do We Really Need to Send Humans into Space? - Scientific American

Beyond Robotic Arms. Canada Funds Technology for Space Exploration – Universe Today

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has a long-standing tradition of innovation and technological development in space. Who can forget the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), more familiarly known as the Canadarm, which was essential to the Space Shuttle program? How about its successor, the Canadarm2, which is a crucial part of the International Space Station and even helped assemble it?

Looking to the future, the CSA intends to play a similar role in humanitys return to the Moon which includes the creation of the Lunar Gateway and Project Artemis. To this end, the CSA recently awarded a series of contracts with private businesses and one university to foster the development of technologies that would assist with national and international efforts to explore the Moon.

Specifically, the CSA has awarded 7 contracts worth a total of $4.36 million to 5 companies and one university to produce concepts that will advance Canadas efforts to conduct landings and science operations on the surface of the Moon. The specified concepts include nano-rovers, micro-rovers, and autonomous science instruments.

Funding for these projects was made through theCSAsLunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP), which is tasked with preparing Canadas space sector for the coming decade of lunar exploration. To this end, LEAP has earmarked a total of $150 million that will be distributed over the next five years to stimulate innovation in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, health, and other associated technologies.

As the Honourable Navdeep Bains the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry remarked:

Our Government is positioning Canadas space sector to reach for the Moon and beyond. This investment will help Canadian businesses bring their technologies to market, creating opportunities for them to join the growing space economy while supporting Canada to achieve world firsts in space science and exploration.

Of the contracts and funding that have been awarded so far, the largest share was secured by the Canadensys Aerospace Corporation, located in Caledon, Ontario. This company, which specializes in space systems and services, will receive two contracts worth a total of $1,099,366 for the sake of designing and developing technologies and prototypes for two different classes of small lunar science rovers (the nano- and micro-rover).

Another Ontario-based company that was awarded a contract is Bubble Technology Industries Inc, which specializes in radiation-related applications. In exchange for the $698,321 they will receive, Bubble will develop a spectrometer that can search for hydrogen autonomously, thus allowing future missions to detect the presence of water and ice near the lunar surface.

Quebec-based aerospace developer ABB was also awarded a contract for the development of autonomous technology. In exchange for the $693,193 they were issued, they will design, build and test a prototype for an autonomous infrared spectrometer. This device will act as a mineral mapper, giving future robotic missions the ability to remotely measure and the composition of the Moons surface.

Magellan Aerospace the global developer of aerospace technologies headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario was issued a contract totaling $607,258 to develop a lunar impactor that will deliver instruments to the surface of the Moon. These will include sensors designed to detect water within the permanently shadowed regions around the southern polar region of the Moon.

Rounding out the companies, Mission Control Space Services Inc. (from Ottawa, Ontario) was awarded a contract worth $573,829 to develop two software packages. These will consist of an Autonomous Soil Assessment System (ASAS) that will study the composition of lunar regolith and an AI-based science support tool that will help rovers navigate the challenging lunar terrain.

And then theres Western University in London, Ontario, which was awarded a contract totaling $690,123 to develop the Integrated Vision System. This system will be designed by Westerns Institute for Earth and Space Exploration (aka. Western Space) and will be used for surface operations to identify lunar geology and assist in rover navigation.

These and other related technologies are essential to what space agencies have planned for the coming decade, not the least of which will be the creation of a lunar base in the southern polar region. Looking even farther, these kinds of partnerships not only between space agencies but between government, industry, and academic institutions as well will be essential to humanity becoming an interplanetary species.

In short, when astronauts set foot on the Moon and Mars in this decade and the next, their success will be the result of collaborative efforts. We can also expect that several flags will be flying there!

Further Reading: Parabolic Arc

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Beyond Robotic Arms. Canada Funds Technology for Space Exploration - Universe Today

Russia Is Exploring Space Technology Collaboration With Seychelles – Space in Africa

The new Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Seychelles, H.E Artem Alexandrovich Kozhin, while presenting his credentials to President Danny Faure during an accreditation ceremony held yesterday morning at the State House, disclosed that Russia is looking forward to collaborating with Seychelles in several fields including space technology to mitigate the risk of climate change.

We all have to fight with the negative consequences of climate change which is very important for this part of the world. This is one more sphere where space technology could be useful. Space is not only about but science but its also about saving the planet. We feel very optimistic in starting these projects and fulfilling these ambitious dreams, the Seychelles News Agency quotes the ambassador as saying.

Ambassador Kozhin sounded optimistic that Russia could in the nearest future begin cooperation in space exploration with Seychelles while emphasizing Russias expertise in scientific research in various fields including exploration of outer space which he hopes could be useful to Seychelles in realizing their national goals in outer space.

Kozhin further pitched possible collaboration between Russia and Seychelles in investment and trade, tourism, education and media, while noting that the Russia Africa Summit last year opened a new door and paved a new way of boosting the economic cooperation between Russia and countries of the African Union including Seychelles.

On behalf of the people and the government of Seychelles, I wish to take this opportunity to personally welcome you to Seychelles. We are committed to cementing our friendship with Russia. We believe that there is great scope for growth on a multitude of levels. We are confident that with your appointment, further progress in areas of mutual importance can be cultivated and that opportunities can be capitalized upon, said President Faure.

New Report: The African space economy is now worth USD 7 billion and is projected to grow at a 7.3% compound annual growth rate to exceed USD 10 billion by 2024. Read the executive summary of the African Space Industry Report - 2019 Edition to learn more about the industry. You can order the report online.

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Russia Is Exploring Space Technology Collaboration With Seychelles - Space in Africa

SpaceX’s Elon Musk wants the Space Force to become Star Fleet | TheHill – The Hill

Last December, around the time that Congress passed and President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes unexpected step to stem coronavirus Democrats start hinting Sanders should drop out Coronavirus disrupts presidential campaigns MORE signed into law the legislation that created the United States Space Force, SpaceX CEOElon Musk tweeted, Starfleet begins.

Musks tweet was put down to an excess of exuberance. For the foreseeable future, the closest that Space Force personnel will get to war fighting in space will be sitting at consoles controlling satellites and space-based weapons systems. No one is going to stride the bridge of the Starship Enterprise for a very long time.

But it seems that Musk was in earnest. Recently,according to Space.com, he was engaged in a fireside chat at a meeting of the Air Force Associations Air War Symposium taking place in Orlando, Florida. He spoke at length on the need for rapid innovation so that the United States can stay ahead of its nearest rival, China, in dominating the high frontier of space.

In order to really foster the kind of innovation that is needed, Musk stated, We gotta make Star Fleet happen. He went on to suggest that while warp drive and transporters are still a long way away, there could be --big spaceships that can go far places? Definitely. That can be done."

What sort of big spaceships one might ask? It happens that Musk is working on one at a growing facility at Boca Chica, Texas, near Brownsville. In keeping with the Star Trek theme, the vehicle is called the Starship. It will be a reusable space vehicle, launched into space by a first stage called the Super Heavy. With refueling, the Starship is designed to deliver 100 tons of people and material to the moon or Mars as needed.

Eric Berger at Ars Technica paid a visit to Boca Chica recently.In his account, he describes an operation that is so fast paced that it makes the Apollo race to the moon seem like a leisurely stroll by comparison. Musk is determined to build a fleet of a thousand Starship rockets at a pace of one a week to help fulfill his dream of founding a city on Mars. So far, he is doing that on his own dime, though he would never turn down a contract from NASA or the Space Force, for that matter.

The Starship will be able to do a few other things as well, from providing point-to-point transportation anywhere on Earth to supporting NASAs Project Artemis to establish a base on the moon. Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskHillicon Valley: Biden overtakes Sanders in Facebook ad spending for first time | New HHS rules would give patients access to health data | Twitter flags edited Biden video retweeted by Trump SpaceX's Elon Musk wants the Space Force to become Star Fleet Elon Musk: Panic over the coronavirus is 'dumb' MORE suggests that the reusable rocket ship could form the basis of a real-life Star Fleet.

What would the Space Force do with its own fleet of rocket ships? It might use them to, in the near term, learn to operate in space with a view to executing its mission of defending Americas space assets and, if necessary, striking at those of an enemy such as China or Russia.

NASA and other space agencies use spacecraft for one-off exploration missions. It was true during Apollo, and it will be true, at least initially, when Project Artemis becomes reality. The Space Force could develop rocket ships in the same way as every navy has ocean-going ships. The SpaceX Starship could be the very first ship of space to be used over and over again, a sort of space-faring version of the ocean-going galleon that Francis Drake sailed to explore the Americas and to fight the Spanish.

As the role of the United States and her allies in space evolves and grows, so would the Space Forces mission. Moon bases, asteroid mining facilities, space-based manufacturing and Musks dreamed of Mars settlement will need defending.

The Space Force will be not only a war-fighting service, but also a rescue organization, a peace-keeping force and even a space debris collection group. It may eventually take over space exploration duties from NASA or have the entire space agency folded into it.

To use a slightly altered version of a well-known line:

Space, the final frontier, our continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Not to mention make Elon Musk richer than he already is and make the United States the undisputed superpower on and beyond the Earth for the foreseeable future. A marvelous win-win situation, that.

Mark R. Whittington, who writes frequently about space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration entitledWhy is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?as well asThe Moon, Mars and Beyond. He blogs atCurmudgeons Corner.

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SpaceX's Elon Musk wants the Space Force to become Star Fleet | TheHill - The Hill