Rod joins Leo to talk about the latest in Space News. The big news was the Chinese Long March booster rocket, which put up the first module of China's space station and then reentered the atmosphere in an uncontrolled fashion. It ended up breaking up and crashing somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Rod says that China has had a cavalier attitude towards what happens to their rockets, and they are fast-tracking their space station with a damn the torpedos full steam ahead outlook, which Rod says is concerning.
From the fourth flight of a helicopter on Mars to a late-night splashdown of Space-X Crew 1, to the latest Starlink launch, to the loss of a great American space hero Mike Collins, it's been a busy week of space news. Rod says that the late-night splashdown was the first since Apollo 8. And the SpaceX splashdown was spot on, with SpaceX recovering the spacecraft within minutes. Meanwhile, as a proof of concept, the Mars Ingenuity helicopter has met all its goals for flying on the red planet.
Rod joins Leo to talk about NASA awarding SpaceX a $2.9 Billion contract to develop the Human Landing System for a return to the moon. Elon Musk says that Starship will go to the moon by 2023, and Musk is planning to build them at scale very soon along with its booster. But Rod thinks no earlier than 2025 or 26. The contract will certainly help speed that along.
In other space news, Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter drone, is scheduled to make its maiden flight at 12:30 PT. It'll fly up to 10 feet and hover for 20 seconds.
Rod Pyle is back after a negative reaction to his covid vaccine. Now that he's back, space news is backing up! SpaceX announced a private space mission funded by Jarod Eisman. What's interesting about it is that Sian Proctor, a self-styled "analog astronaut" doing ground studies and simulations on earth, was chosen for the Inspiration 4 crew.
DW has preordered Starlink satellite internet and is waiting for his turn to get installed. Leo says it won't be cheap, at $500 for the gear and $99 a month for internet access, but Leo says that it's supporting SpaceX, and that's a good thing. Eventually, as more people come online, it'll probably go down in price. It's going to have to. But nobody really knows how fast it will be.
In Space News, three Mars probes are arriving at the Red Planet in the next week. One is from NASA, then there's the Chinese Space Agency, and the third is from the UAE. NASA's Perseverance will have a huge Curiosity class rover, and it will be able to drill and take core samples, which can be returned to earth five years later. It's also going to be looking for fossils and live microbes.
Ad Astra editor in chief Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about today's SpaceX Transporter launch, where they set a new record by launching 143 satellites on a single launch. Most were small, microsatellites, others were standard satellite size. Interestingly, the satellites were in various trajectories, causing the launch vehicle to do a corkscrew trajectory to orbit to deploy. On top of that, Space X was able to land the booster for the fifth time in order to recycle it for a future launch. It was the 73rd recovery of the booster stage.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the SpaceX Starship test that happened this week. Starship SN8 worked all the way to the landing, where it crashed and burned. But Rod Pyle says that it accomplished all the test goals it set out to do, and it's on to SN9 now. Rod says that SpaceX will fly crewless with starship for several years before building the larger, crewed version of Starship for a flight to Mars.
Our rocketman Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about a recent Japanese probe that landed on an asteroid, scooped up a rock sample, and returned it to earth. The mission was HyaBusa 2 and it landed yesterday. The asteroid is an ancient chunk of our solar system which could contain the building blocks on how life was created on earth and what the solar system is made of.
China is also on a sample return mission, with a probe on the moon. It should bring back 5 pounds of the lunar surface in about two weeks.
Chris joins Leo to talk about how Elon Musk's Starlink satellites are causing problems for astral photographers and astronomers. The satellites are congesting the night sky, even though SpaceX says that they are putting sunshades on the satellites to prevent light reflection and make the satellites more invisible. But Chris says that instead, they are reflecting infrared, which is also problematic when scanning the sky and taking long-exposure photographs. Chris says at least SpaceX is listening and is trying to engineer a solution to prevent light noise from reflecting down from the sky.