Tag Archives: space

James Webb Space Telescope launches on Christmas Day

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James Webb Space Telescope is often dubbed the long awaited ‘successor’ to famous Hubble Telescope. With its recent start on 25th of December 2021 let’s delve into the details of the telescope’s mission and elaborate on some differences between ‘Webb’ and ‘Hubble’.

Webb’s Origin and Development

The idea for a Next Generation Space Telescope was born in the 1990’s. It was planned to observe the Universe in the infra-red spectrum, which would allow to see space objects much farther or colder than Hubble could see. It was initially intended to launch in 2007, but in 2000’s it was still in early development. The first deadline was deemed impossible to meet, so the whole project was re-planned with the seven-fold expansion of the initial budget, and the launch was put-off to somewhere in the following decade. Eventually, the project’s budget exceeded $9 Billion, with European and Canadian Space Agencies contributing hundreds of millions of dollars, as well. Due to both, technical issues and factors independent of the space agencies, like the most recent Covid-19 Pandemic, the start of the mission of the Webb Telescope was scheduled for 2021. The Telescope was eventually launched from Europe’s Space Port in French Guiana on 25th December 2021.

Differences between other space telescopes

Hubble Space Telescope (left) compared to Webb (right)

One of the most significant differences between Webb and Hubble is the location of the mission. While Hubble is operating from Low-Earth Orbit, Webb will observe its targets from so-called ‘Earth – Sun Second Lagrange point’ (L2) which effectively means that it is few times further away from Earth than the Moon. Other very important difference is the wavelengths which telescopes utilizes. Hubble can see light varying in wavelength from ultraviolet to close infrared, while Webb can see much farther into infrared, which will be its main frequency of operation, just like Spitzer Space Telescope. Webb has also main mirror more than two times larger than Hubble’s with a diameter of 6.5 meters.

The difference between different wavelenghts (by Hubble Space Telescope)

The mission

Currently the Telescope is travelling to L2, where it will make its research. After its arrival to the orbit in late January 2022, the 6 months long preparation phase will follow. When Webb is finally calibrated, it may start its observations which are meant to last at least 5 years, but the Telescope may operate for as much as 10 years. From there it will look down in infrared on countless Nebulae, Star Clusters and Systems, providing new, clearer look on already known objects. One of the first Webb’s objectives is going to be evaluating on systems with potential exoplanets discovered by Kepler Space Telescope. Another goal may be searching for stars much older than we could previously see. Due to the redshift effect, the further away the object is, the more shifted to red it will be perceived by us. JWST is able to search for much older objects than Hubble, which tend to release more radiation in the infrared frequencies, due to its greater presence in infra-red spectrum.

Libration Points in Sun – Earth system. JWST will orbit around Second Libration Point

Conclusion

Webb’s Mission has just started, but its success is much anticipated. Its observations will verify countless theories regarding different space objects and provide many additional data which may be useful in the future. Even though, minor malfunctions may be handled by the Telescope itself, any major failure may lead to the end of the mission, because it is too far away to be repaired by a rescue team of Astronauts. Only Time will tell us what we will gain from James Webb Space Telescope…

sources:

James Webb Space Telescope – Wikipedia

Orbit – Webb/NASA

ESA – Europe’s Spaceport

Lagrange point – Wikipedia

1920px-Lagrange_points_simple.svg.png (1920×1636) (wikimedia.org)

https://www.space.com/james-webb-space-telescope-hubble-images

KdXYHLtW4eJLsdhS4H5jGX-970-80.jpeg (500×351) (futurecdn.net)

z4NRcKgKXuUFMbr6qpjHoS.jpg (1280×720) (futurecdn.net)

James Webb Telescope Launched On Christmas, Here Are Five Things You Need To Know As It Head To Space | Investor’s Business Daily (investors.com)

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Are we in a state of a Second Space Race? (opinion)

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With the development of rocket technology in the 40’s and 50’s it was obvious that humanity would soon try to reach to the Space. However due to the period of tensions between Democratic World (led by USA) and Socialist Block (led by USSR), we now refer to as the Cold War, both Superpowers instead of collaborating for the good of humanity on that matter started to compete. Eventually the US and Soviet Union would scramble for which country would first launch a satellite to orbit the Earth, whose astronauts would land on the Moon first etc. Eventually, due to USSR’s collapse in 1991 the Cold War came to an end, and with it the First Space Race as well.

The 90’s and the beginning of the XXI Century saw Space Agencies from many countries doing joint research on Mir and on International Space Station. Since the end of the Apollo program in 1972 no-one has set foot on the Moon, but unmanned spaceships and rovers are still exploring our Natural Satellite and other worlds, like Mars, as well.

However in the past decade mutual relations between the Powers started to deteriorate. Tension is steadily growing, as 2014’s Russian annexation of Crimea Penninsula was considered unlawful by the ‘Western World’, which imposed sanctions on Russian Federation. Furthermore, for the last few years America is de facto in the state of Trade War with China and implemented bans on Chinese high-tech companies.  

The competition between the Powers seems to be more and more visible. The examples of that are most recent rovers on Mars: NASA’s Perserverance and CNSA’s Tianmen 1 which both launched in July of 2020. American landing on the Moon as a part of Artemis Program is scheduled for 2024 (which is unrealistic, as it was scheduled before COVID), and the works on apprioprate rocket and drive continue, while China is also planning to launch a manned space mission to the Moon in 2030’s. Taking some of the difficulties into account, like emergence of a global epidemic and constant funds shortages, it becomes obvious that by 2024 NASA won’t have sent its astronauts to the Moon. Moreover, some of the equipment needed for the project is still being developed and tested. This means, that there’s a chance of China being the first country to send astronauts to the Moon since Apollo program.

As International Space Station – home to astronauts from NASA, ESA, Roscosmos and others is steadily approaching the end of its mission, a question arises on the horizon: what Station will eventually replace it, and which Space Agency will be first to do so. The Country which first finishes building it most probably will make it available for others on their terms. For example, if PRC along with Russia manages to do it, then there’s a huge chance that during negotation of the terms on which American or European astronauts would gain access to the station tensions between those countries will rise even more.

On the other side there are commercial organizations like SpaceX or Blue Origin also looking to reinforce their presence in Space. 10 years ago those companies hardly had such level of importance and recognition as today. Recently those two were battling for a contract for a Lunar lander intended for the Artemis program. When Nasa after changing the details of contract choose SpaceX’s project, Blue Origin’s founder Jeff Bezos filed a lawsuit against the agency. Blue Origin eventually lost the case earlier this month.

To conclude, Global Superpowers – USA and China continue to compete against each other on many fields: technological, economic, diplomatic, with Space exploration being another proof of their rivalry. However, both countries’ leadership draw conclusions from the Cold War and understand, that they can’t allow mutual relations to deteriorate to the point of armed conflict. Recently, U.S. President Joe Biden held a virtual meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, during which they stated, that despite differences both countries want to avoid open conflict between each other. “”As I’ve said before, it seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure the competition between our two countries does not veer into conflict, either intended or unintended. Just simply straightforward competition,” – said American President to his Chinese counterpart during the summit. Even during the Cold War both USA and USSR agreed on demilitarising the Space and halting nuclear tests there. The competition between both Superpowers or between private companies sometimes is a sign of rivalry or bad relations, however in this case it may also be considered a driving force, which speeds up development in the area. When Chinese Tianwen 1 succesfully landed on the Red Planet, NASA Administrator congratulated on success: “Congratulations to CNSA’s #Tianwen1 team for the successful landing of China’s first Mars exploration rover, #Zhurong! Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to humanity’s understanding of the Red Planet.” All of this means that, even though we can consider this Competition the Second Space Race, it does not mean that Humanity will experience a military conflict outside the Earth any soon. Even term Star Wars, derived from popculture was just a catchphrase for American anti-ballistic defense system, which in reality didn’t saw any use. We are not having real Star Wars on Earths’ Orbit in near future.

Sources:

https://www.ft.com/content/5527d9e5-ed0d-416d-8bd2-e9b12732f16d

https://www.ft.com/content/01f469d3-0c5c-41c2-8199-8c53df3bad0d

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/biden-seeks-competition-not-conflict-as-virtual-summit-with-chinas-xi-begins-01637025182

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/11/15/politics/joe-biden-xi-jinping-virtual-summit/index.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisakim/2021/11/04/bezos-blue-origin-loses-lawsuit-against-nasa-over-lucrative-lunar-lander-contract-awarded-to-musks-spacex/?sh=75e1aea82259

https://www.ft.com/content/5b20b49d-279a-4258-b4ae-6acbf29c8604

https://www.space.com/how-to-destroy-a-space-station-safely

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemis_program

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Lunar_Exploration_Program#Crewed_mission_phase

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseverance_(rover)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianwen-1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program

https://www.history.com/news/reagan-star-wars-sdi-missile-defense

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Relativity Space: The 3D printed rockets

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Relativity Space is an American aerospace manufacturing company. Their goal is not to just send rockets to space, but revolutionize entire process of how they are build and flown.

The most innovative thing that Relativity is doing is that they are building their own 3D-printers and using them. They are not just building printers to sell them or designing and buying someone’s printers, they combine both of these aspects.

The 3D-printer

3D-printing gives a lot of new opportunities. The cost of material to make a single rocket is valued to be 5 to 10 times lower that to make a normal one. This means a lot more expeditions could be made. It is also said by the Relativity that their rockets can be entirely made from raw material to flight in 60 days as normal made rockets take around 2 to 5 years to make. It ‘s a very big step up and can help a lot with testing bigger amount of rockets.

Aeon engine

All of the parts for the rockets are printed. Even the engine. Relativity Space developed their own engine called “Aeon”. It use liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas which are the best for rocket propulsion and also eventually in the future, the easiest to make on Mars.

The first 3D-printed rocket “Terran 1” demonstration launch is set for early 2022. In my opinion, if everything will work, this could be a very big step in technology. Exploration of space will become a lot more affordable and faster that ever.

Sources:
https://www.relativityspace.com
https://tcrn.ch/3z9tXmO
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/27/relativity-space-3d-printers-are-reinventing-more-than-rockets.html
https://www.chip.pl/2021/07/dopiero-zaczeli-a-juz-sie-rozkrecaja-relativity-space-otwiera-nowa-fabryke/

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Crew Dragon’s last straight

Reading Time: 2 minutesNasa conducted a test of the Crew Dragon crew capsule, made in collaboration with SpaceX and Boeing. The agency wanted to check key emergency procedures for crew safety. It was spectacular.
The emergency in-flight abort system has just been successfully demonstrated.
On January 19th a thrice-flown Falcon 9 sent an uncrewed Crew Dragon 12 miles into the sky and after about 84 seconds after launch, the rocket shut off its engines, and the vehicle’s own SuperDraco engines turned on, separating Crew Dragon from Falcon 9 at Mach 2.2 and getting a mile away in a matter of seconds.
It was a key test of safety procedures for the Crew Dragon capsule. It is a project whose point is to re-supply people to space regularly. This is the first action of that kind that can be repeated since the suspension of space shuttle missions.

The test that has been made on 19th January at the afternoon of polish time and has gone as planned. Its purpose was to simulate irregularities during take-off. The mission’s task was to perform a controlled disconnection of the Crew Dragon capsule from the Falcon 9 rocket, which carried the capsule into space.
Disconnection took place about a minute and a half after take-off. Fifteen seconds later, due to strong vibrations, the Falcon 9 rocket exploded spectacularly. However, the mission command center provided for this possibility. It was even said that there is a small chance that the rocket would survive the test.

However, it survived the most important part of the mission, the capsule disconnected from the rocket without problems and began a short flight on the engines built into it. Less than 6 minutes after take-off, four new-generation parachutes emerged from the vehicle, which were designed to slow down the capsule flight and make its launch not particularly uncomfortable for the potential crew. After 9 minutes, Crew Dragon fell into the ocean about 30 km from the start. Rescue teams started their work, whose task was to train the procedures of getting the crew out of the capsule.

Sources:

https://www.technologyreview.com

https://www.space.com/spacex-crew-dragon-in-flight-abort-test-photos.html

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Our biggest enemy in space conquest is… humanity itself

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I bet that 90% of people reading this article wished to become astronaut back in their childhood. To be honest, that was my wish too! Sadly, this article won’t be about bright future of space conquest, but rather grim reality of work in space sector.

Since beginning of space race, humanity has launched around 8100 satellites of which some 5000 remains in orbit. As you can imagine, Earth’s orbit has plenty of space and 5000 satellites should be as “big” concern as 5000 cars for a small town, so basically none. But… there are several circumstances that makes it a little bit more complex! Every artificial satellite needs to be delivered to space, which demands a big rocket that can get it into our orbit, then some parts must detach, and so on. Every step in orbit will leave new parts, and these parts will fly at speed of several thousand kilometers per second, and guess what. If you would get hit by screw at speed that high, it would be like you were hit by bolt of plasma, and same goes for every object in space.

As you may see in the picture above, this is what happens when spacecraft is hit by small debris. You might think that “come on there can’t be enough debris made by launching some satellites” and to be honest you are kind of right. Problem is that more than 95% of current object in orbit are so called zombies, serving no purpose, floating in space, waiting for impact with other body. When this happens, hundreds of small pieces burst into all directions, posing enormous threat to everything else. Sometimes government come up with “brilliant” ideas, for example Chinese government decided to test if their rockets can shoot down their own satellites – Turns out they can, however test also created enormous amount of space garbage. We could go on and on to see new examples, but let’s get to the point.

Everyday U.S. Military issues 21 warnings about space collisions. That is US alone, we can only guess that everyday there is more than one hundred warnings about space collision, so during whole year, there is at least more than 36 thousand warnings! This shows exactly how dangerous it becomes to travel into our orbit. Some specialist claims that every year we are getting closer to point of no retreat, and that means that Earth will become our jail, because we won’t be able to get safely into space.

But how can we fight with this threat you may ask? That is what you will find out in my next article!

Sources:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-quest-to-conquer-earths-space-junk-problem/

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06170-1

 

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BeiDou might be your new GPS

Reading Time: 2 minutesEach of us have at least once used such apps as Google Maps, Jak Dojadę or Snapchat. Their functions relay on geolocation. GPS is present in our lives and so do Chinese want. Late in November this year, China’s state space agency confirmed that Long March 3B rocked has been launch. On board: another two satellites for BeiDou, new global navigation system. China has been working on the system from 2000, launching new satellites from 2017. Only in 2018 the orbit has gained 11 new Chinese satellites. There are 19 of them total, which gives China possibility to start offering the global navigational services. CNSA (Chinese National Space Administration) has announced that the target number of satellites is 35. 5 geostationary and 30 non-geostationary satellites is enough to achieve the worldwide coverage.

Ilustration by Insights India

BeiDou in Chinese means Big Dipper, which is the name of one of the astronomical constellation. The system firstly was created to decrease dependence on American GPS system, especially when it comes to the military needs. Later on, CNSA decided to use it on commercial purposes and it will be available for private customers from 2020. The accuracy of restoring the location for private purposes will be about 10 meters. Interestingly, for military purposes, this accuracy will be only 10 centimeters. This approximation will also be maintained for authorized governmental purposes. In August this year, the BeiDou system was installed in around half of Beijing’s taxis. Chinese government’s goal is to have all of them guided by BeiDou by 2020. It also measures the speed within 0.2 millionth of thons per second and is able to provide clock synchronization accurate to 0.02 millionths of a second.

Launch of the latest two satellites in the Long March 3B rocket

This is just the beginning of gaining an influence in the world. The creation of this system is considered crucial for China in order to control the perception of the world. No wonder that companies such as Xiaomi, Huawei or OnePlus have decided to make their products compatible with the BeiDou system. Although Apple has not decided to become BeiDou friendly while launching the new products on September 12th, it is only a matter of time.In 2014 the suggestion appeared, that the system can be also able to navigate the drones to destroy foreign forces in case of the attack. It seems to me that CNSA has created a “rival” to the GPS but is it going to be as much successful? We are about to find out.

 

 

References:
1.Data references
https://www.ft.com/content/3c2ca48e-f2eb-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9d0d
https://futurism.com/china-just-moved-one-step-closer-to-completing-a-global-satellite-network
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-16337648
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-45471959
2. Photos
http://www.insightsonindia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/BeiDou.jpg
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/01/china-launches-latest-beidou-3m-satellite-duo/
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The world’s most expensive „hotel” will be in space

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The most expensive hotel will not be situated in Dubai, Seychelles or other exotic places. In 2021, Aurora station will be launched into orbit, which will be a hotel for very wealthy people. A 12-day stay in a space hotel will cost $ 9.5 million, and you can now pay a deposit of $ 80,000 to guarantee your seat.

Orion Span, technological start-up from the USA is responsible for the project. Frank Bunger is the CEO and founder of the company. The Aurora station will be able to accommodate 6 people at once – 4 guests and 2 crew members. The stay in space hotel will take 12 days, interestingly the company does not have its own rockets that would allow to transport the guests and crew to the station. In this regard, Orion Span is negotiating with Space X and Blue Origin for the purpose of lending them their rockets. The flight from Earth to the Aurora station would take 30 minutes and the station would be hanging 200 miles above the Earth. Although the first guests will have to pay as much as $9.5 million, President Frank Bunger says “I think by the mid-2020s, we’re going to see quite a bit of possibilities for getting up there, and the cost going down”.

Guests of the hotel will have the opportunity to stay in touch with the Earth through internet connectivity, as well as participate in experiments such as growing plants in space, which later could be brought to Earth as a souvenir. The company has also developed a special training program, which will be mandatory for anyone who wants to visit the Aurora station. However, the preparation for the flight will take only 3 months, which is a very short period compared to the NASA training program, which lasts up to 24 months.

Below you can watch a short movie with the visualization of the Aurora hotel.

 

Sources:

https://nypost.com/2018/04/06/inside-the-first-ever-space-hotel/

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/aurora-station-luxury-space-hotel/index.html

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