Space News Roundup 5/20/2020

Hello, Everyone! I hope your faring well these days. A little late but here is the whatever-monthly post of neat space news along with my riveting commentary. As always, FTM is your main source of space news, however, relevant parts will be moved to moon, etc for more refined access.

Got a whole lot of links today, some neat stuff.

EARTH NEWS

Virus be darned, no slowing down space missions when some launch windows are rare. The business of space must continue. NASA has been busy preparing for the moon. They have updated the Artemis program with a few more details. (NASA official). More commentary here on HackADay.

Always keeping up a backup plan they also announced 3 companies to develop the lander. Competition, this is good for everyone. They are SpaceX’s StarShip on a SpaceX Super Heavy rocket. (I just love the sound of that). Next up is Blue Origin, and their Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) Named Blue Moon (wiki) with a 3 stage landing setup..sounds risky. Sorry, Bezos, But I think Musk has you beat.

Bringing up the rear is little known Dynetics with their contribution, The Human Landing System (HLS). An offshoot of Boeing..

However at the end of the day, it appears Musk and Bezos are the only real winning players here. In a later article, it would appear NASA has narrowed it down to two choices. SpaceX vs Blue Origin, and SpaceX is years ahead of the others.

SpaceX just successfully tested their SN4 beast of an engine. Here is a great article of the challenges they have had progressing so rapidly.

Sadly, NASA is blowing their budget on trying to reuse the Space Shuttle engines…At a wopping 426 Million each for 24 (SLS RS-25) engines that wont be reused. For that price, start over.

However, at the end of the day, it appears that Mr. Musk wins. First they proved the pressure test of their rocket, SN4. (Slashdot commentary HERE). Its offical now, SpaceX will launch humans on 5/27/2020!

Not only sending up humans, But the StarLink program continues with another launch of 60 cubesats, at least the light pollution problem is getting addressed. (Both links to Slashdot articles, more details and commentary)

However this is all overshadowed by the recent departure of Doug Loverro from human spaceflight operations. Read more here with commentary, also on Slashdot.

Small blurb from the Men In Black, the X-37B just went back up for who knows how long.

Always needing the Limelight, Tom Cruise is considering a movie on the ISS. I imagine it will be more of an edited blog of his 20$ million dollar ticket. SpaceX should use him as a test monkey before..like..real astronauts.

If your a Star Trek fan, I found this neat collection of pictures of the Starship Enterprise in all her glory.

MOON NEWS

A bit further from earth is our Moon. USGS had released the most complete lunar map to date. Data HERE. In tech news NASA is considering ‘cardboard’ super light drones for swarm exploration. This article has a lot of interesting details on micro machines and swarms.

A tad bit of entertainment, SpaceX released a really super duper cool web browser based sim of what they use to train on for docking to the ISS, how good are you?

I found this to be quite interesting, creating instant landing pads on the Moon via landing ablation. Basically, as the rocket lands it melts it own landing pad. More details also here on Hackaday.

OTHER SCIENCE NEWS

One of NASA’s own scientists should be noted in this post. Dr. Harold “Sonny” White and his equations for an Alcubierre warp drive

Found this educational article, a bit of a guide to Venus. Lots of interesting stuff.

The Gemini telescope (official site here)observing Jupiter took a some great pictures through the clouds. Lots of interesting results here.

Recent lava flows on Mars, now appear to be mud flows, indicating water. New rover designs are proving quiet adept at walking and getting themselves unstuck with a bit more articulation in the designs. I though it was impressive to watch it ‘walk’ and claw it’s way up a muddy/sandy incline.

Well, that’s it for now, folks. Stay calm, tickets will be on sale soon for lunar transport!