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Space News and Facts Newsletter - June 20 - June 26, 2021

Space News and Facts Newsletter
Space News and Facts Newsletter - June 20 - June 26, 2021
By Paul Fulford • Issue #6 • View online
Here are several articles posted to the SN&F website and social media pages this past week. There are many more. Click here for Facebook. The website also embeds space agency videos from YouTube. View everything in one place. Click here for the website.

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This is quite an engaging editorial from the Guyana website Stabroek News. Offering a kind of different perspective I love to read about. Guyana is a country on South America’s North Atlantic coast. It looks at the ESA’s spaceport in neighbouring French Guiana which the French launch provider Arianespace SA manages. Also summarizes the plans of the now-defunct, Texas-based, Beal Aerospace, in the year 2000, for a launch port in Guyana itself. What neighbouring Venezeula thought about it. Considerations of ecology and archeology if the plan went ahead. Also about NASA’s turn towards other commercial launch systems, and how that affected plans. Comparison to African-based countries that successfully facilitated space launches. Ultimately, the article blames Guyanan politicians for the lack of development of a space industry in that country.
Space musings - Stabroek News
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NASA is about to change the radiation exposure limits for astronauts. Previously, radiation levels were set on the basis of age and gender. The new proposal will simply set a lifetime radiation exposure limit. Radiation is measured in millisieverts (FYI: short form is “mSv’.) The new proposal will be 600 mSv regardless of age or gender. Statistically speaking, the new level is based on "a 3% risk of radiation exposure-induced death (REID) at the 95% confidence level.” Apparently, this will accommodate the inclusion of more female astronauts. (Not mentioned in the article, so I’m telling you … it is not understood why more women get cancer from radiation exposure than men, but they do.) Also, the new level is still too low to allow humans to be sent to, for example, Mars.
Report backs NASA proposal to change astronaut radiation exposure limits - SpaceNews
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Back on November 26, 2018, NASA’s rover #InSight landed on Mars. Intended to explore Mars until the end of 2022, its usefulness may end earlier than expected due to dust settling on its solar panels. Apparently, 80% of the panels are now clogged with Martian regolith (topsoil). The article jokingly comments, “With the nearest duster some 222 million miles away, the Martian regolith has been able to accumulate unchecked.” InSight has collected data on Mar’s atmosphere, magnetic fields, and seismic activity. Things could come to a halt around April of 2022.
Martian Dust Could End NASA’s InSight Mission in a Matter of Months
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In 2019, the Air Force Research Laboratory launched the “Demonstration and Science Experiments” spacecraft (AKA the DSX satellite). The DSX was put into Mid Earth Orbit (1,243 miles/2000 km to 22,236 miles/35785 km above sea level) to study the effects of radiation on satellites at that altitude. With that info, more durable spacecraft could be developed. The DSX is the largest satellite ever put into orbit: “With booms spreading almost the length of a football field …” DSX has completed more than 1300 experiments, and has been decommissioned, although what will happen to it now has not been disclosed. Apparently, there has been enough data collected to be analyzed for years. (FYI: the Air Force Research Laboratory is a sub-branch of the United States Air Force.)
Air Force’s experimental football field-sized satellite ends operations
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Interesting speculation on new evidence that suggests the planet #Venus may have shifting tectonic plates. Not exactly like Earth’s but surprising enough to attract the attention of the National Academy of Sciences (USA). As quoted in the article, planetary scientist Paul Byrne states, “Although different from the tectonics we currently see on Earth, it is still evidence of interior motion being expressed at the planet’s surface.”
Venus May Still Be Geologically Active | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine
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A well-written, informative, and detailed article by Matt Williams of universetoday that dissects the recently released goals for the Sino-Russian International Lunar Research Station (#ILRS). As drafted by the China National Space Agency (#CNSA), and as Matt points out, the document is a work-in-progress, but acknowledges that, “The most efficient and productive investigation, exploration and use of the Moon can be achieved only in a broad international partnership with an attraction of other countries, international organizations and international partners.” Comparisons to the competing NASA #Artemis mission are made in the article.
China and Russia Announce their Future Plans for the Moon, Including a Human Base - Universe Today
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This is an excellent overview of the 4 major competing Low Earth Orbit (#LEO) satellite constellations from SpaceX, Telesat, OneWeb, and Amazon. (No mention of China’s plans, though.) SpaceX will eventually have 4400 satellites in orbit (already has 1000+), Telesat will have 1600, OneWeb will have 6000, and Amazon plans on 4000. SpaceX will likely have the greatest coverage, Amazon the highest data throughput. Nonetheless, the throughput of each will likely be in the tens of terabits per second, still significantly lower than Earth networks of cables, fiber optics, and wireless transmitters, but the reach/availability will be far wider with LEO satellites.
SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat, and Amazon - California News Times
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Know what a “planetary analog” is? Neither did I. These are locations on Earth where the environment is so harsh that #NASA can use them to simulate other planets. These locations are “analogous” to places like the #Moon, #Mars, asteroids, etcetera. This NASA article explains what was accomplished at some of these locations. A few of the locations include Chile’s Atacama Desert, sites in Antarctica, volcanos in Hawaii, the Haughton meteorite impact crater on Devon Island, Canada, and even the artificial NASA Human Exploration Research Analog (AKA #HERA) at the Johnson Space Center (research isolation and confinement conditions). It’s a long read with great pictures and explanations.
10 Things to Know About Planetary Analogs – NASA Solar System Exploration
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Radiation is a problem for human space travel. Consequently - and this is the term that caught my attention - scientists are necessarily having to consider the “cyborgization of astronauts ….” A number of modifications may be required, such as the removal of the spleen (which removes old, or damaged red blood cells and helps keeps blood clean and functioning). Also possibly replacing human eye lense and “… treating certain areas of their brains in advance to avoid development of Alzheimer’s due to galactic radiation.”
Astronauts may get their spleen removed before long-distance flights
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The Europeans are moving towards clearly defined responsibilities for space debris. “eSpace” is a shortened term for the *EPFL Space Center which has drafted, along with the World Economic Forum and the ESA, a “Sustainability Space Rating” (#SSR) to be available for “spaceflight actors” (space agencies and industry companies) in 2022 to certify their space launch missions. Criteria such as collision avoidance and de-orbiting plans, ease of satellite detection and identification are some of the certification considerations.
* FYI: the EPFL Space Center is the space research faculty of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland.
New Space Sustainability Rating Addresses Space Debris with Mission Certification System - Modern Diplomacy
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Paul Fulford

Every week on I publish a newsletter containing space-related articles that I have found interesting.

I read a lot of material on the space industry. There's a lot going on out there other than NASA and SpaceX (although I am not excluding those sources). It is my hope that this newsletter will bring these interesting articles and insights to your attention, and that you, too, will gain a broader appreciation for the vastness of space.

Most of these articles are curated from my own social media posts. Each issue contains links directly to the article that has caught my attention. The article links are not affiliate links - I don't make money from them. They're just what I have discovered and want to share.

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