Bartolomeo | SpaceBridge | Virgin Orbit | Wuhan | L3Harris | Space Pioneer | Synspective | Roscosmos | Noor | Desertec

issue 13

Hi friends;

⚠️ Thank you for those who completed the last week survey. However, only 12% of you friends completed it. I am sure we can do better! I am therefore offering a second chance to the latecomers. And don't forget, a beautiful gift is waiting for you at the end!


A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure described in 1960 by the American-British physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson (cf issue 6). It is an empty spherical structure built around a star to capture its radiated energy in all directions. Nothing escapes.

I will not go into details but it is clear, from numerous perspective, that this is unfeasible. But why don't we simplify the problem?

1- Instead of a continuous sphere around the sun, imagine a constellation of satellites around the earth. The satellites, whose main payloads are batteries, will store solar energy when they are in front of the sun, and will drain their batteries toward the earth when they are above a ground gateway. The transfer of energy will therefore be done via microwaves or a laser beam...

2- A second idea would be to imagine a satellite constellation with just a set of directional mirrors. The goal is to organise these mirrors such that the sunbeam always arrives at a fixed “solar panel” on the ground. a lot of geometric gymnastics, but definitly doable.

You think these ideas are crazy, there's a wikipedia page of all this and much more!

It's not to spoil the party but frankly why bother with space when you can deploy solar panels right next to us? The calculations are quite simple if you have the right numbers! According to science insider, Providing energy to the whole planete will require putting 500.000 square km of solar panels side by side. Roughly the size of Spain. This surface can be made smaller by investing in more power-efficient solar pannels. When compared to the Dyson sphere and other simplifications, I think the costs here are peanut… Especially if all countries join their efforts.

Actually, this reminds me of a project launched by Morocco in its desert: the project Noor (the cover picture at the beginning of the article). A project that is a part of the bigger European-MENA initiative called Desertec.

Thank you for you time and as always, have a great week!

🛰 Here is what you missed

👉 The SpaceBridge company is cooperating with a major African mobile network operator to offer a satellite-based cellular backhaul. The idea is to connect uncovered areas with a 2G/4G and also to support the existing infrastructure in case of congestion.[+]

👉 Virgin Orbit's small launcher has conducted a demonstration/test flight to put a fictitious satellite into orbit. The test was successfully completed and analysts expect a first commercial launch before the end of this year. LauncherOne, unlike classical vertical launchers, is a small rocket launched from the sky aboard a Boeing-747 called CosmicGirl.[+]

👉 China announces that it will launch the first two satellites of its IoT constellation. One of the two satellites will be named after her hometown, Wuhan. A city unfortunately known at the moment as the starting point of the current pandemic. At the end, this IoT constellation will contain 80 satellites.[+]

👉 L3Harris, which has received a $9.3 million contract from the U.S. Space Force to develop a geostationary missile-warning satellite, says the satellite is nearing completion and is scheduled for launch in early 2021.[+]

👉 A Chinese startup, Space Pioneer, has just raised $14 million for completing next-generation liquid engines. Those are fuelled with a new green and ambiante-temperature propellant.[+]

👉 The Japanese company Synspective announced that it will launch its synthetic aperture radar StriX-α using an Arianespace’s Vega launcher. This satellite will be the first one of the future 25-satellite constellation.[+]

👉 The Russian space agency is cooperating with Italy to conduct a scientific experiment on electromagnetic phenomena in the Earth's atmosphere at the International Space Station. Three other similar experiments are also planned with Hungary.[+]

👉 Bartolomeo, the first European commercial facility on the ISS docked to the Columbus module. It was was installed by the Canadian robotic arm and in few months, astronauts will perform a spacewalk to complete the docking. Bartolomeo is built and operated by Airbus and hosted by ESA.[+]

🍪 Cookie of the week

Our beloved European space agency, ESA🇪🇺, has a Github repository where it deposits a lot of its open source code and resources. One can find a "software framework for small satellites", a "scientific library for interplanetary trajectory design" or a "Space debris removal model". The repository is here.

Several other agencies also share some of their codes like NASA🇺🇸 and CNES🇫🇷.

Fork and unleash your creativity :-)

Here you are debriefed 👌. Rendezvous next week!

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