News from Earth 2-14-2020

Hi, all! Lets round up some Earth space news from this week.

One rocket maker you don’t hear often in the news is Ad Astra rocket company. They seem to have Big Plans (article by Bloomberg) for 2020!

Now, this article is a real must-read. They plan on daily launches of up to 450 lbs into space. Now think about that. It would not be hard to modify that to be human rated for a single astronaut. We could put a lot of people in space in one year. Plus the super cheap launch cost, ~300M for the extra large size rocket. Right now it seems to be aimed at light, low cost science launches, but having a daily space launch is a BIG step to creating an orbital colony, once piece at a time. Now while not big enough to launch a full size Bigalow B330 habitat module, it does open up a low cost way of sending up assembly robots and people (one at a time) to populate it. I’m really surprised that the ISS was not a Stanford Torus to begin with. However it could be done on a much smaller scale with, say, a minimum of a hexagon of those habitats. Putting 6 of those into a ring in orbit at this point is not an overwhelming engineering task.

Speaking of space stations, Axiom (the WIKI here) has been given permission to attach the first commercial module to the ISS. This is another example of how commercial space travel is really exponentially taking off.

Not to be left out, NASA has put a price on the next 2024 moon landing. They need about 35 billion more. Here is the Slashdot post with great commentary and laughs. First comment gave me a laugh, but don’t laugh too hard, Fly-to Inc. has not considered luggage pricing – By the bag or the pound? Extra if it doesn’t stow under your seat.

For those of you that haven’t heard yet, Voyager 2 is alive again! Recently it executed a maneuver to use one of its last working instruments and crashed. NASA experts were able to reboot it and its back online. Still squeezing a few more years out of those RTG batteries. Nice work, fella’s. Service call from 11.5 billion miles away. Its been traveling for 42 years now, and still working.. Gosh, they don’t make ’em like they used to.

For those of you investors, SpaceX is planning a spin off for their Starlink business. I do believe there is mention of an IPO. You can find a discussion of it on Slashdot.

That’s it for this week!