NASA | Pléiade | Iridium | Northrop Grumman | Freeman Dyson | Katherine Johnson | Orange| SpaceX | Lockheed Martin | InSight | SSPI

issue 6

Hi friends;

Last week I shared with you a historical paper by the English writer Clarke in which he described the GEO orbit. France has also experienced a similar prodigy. Like Clarke, his novels are always well documented, generally set in the not-so-far future, and imagine the technologies of the time. He is one of the most famous authors in history, and he is the second most translated author in a foreign language after Agatha Christie...You have probably found him, he is Jules Verne. Born in 1828 in Nantes and died in 1905 in Amiens, the French writer has nothing to envy his English collegue. In his novels, he predicted electric submarines and helicopters as well as holograms and the electric chair, not to mention solar sails and guided missiles.

The work that interests us here is his novel "From the Earth to the Moon” (1865). And it interests us for two reasons. The first is that some people see in it several similarities with the Apollo mission (almost a century later):

  • The flight was made by the Americans.

  • The real-life launch site was at Cape Canaveral, just a few hundred miles from book’s location.

  • There were three astronauts aboard the rocket…

  • Both journeys lasted just under a week.

  • After making a loop around the moon, the two spacecrafts returned to the earth where they end up in the Pacific ocean.

The second reason that makes this book interesting is the fact that it is one of the books that inspired making the French film "A Trip to the Moon" (1901). A film that became a worldwide success as soon as it was released thanks to its captivating narrative format, and especially thanks to its special effects and explosions. Some analysts see even in this film the birth of the SciFi genre.

Without further ado, I let you enjoy the 14min film here, don't forget the popcorn...

Have a great week!

🛰 Here is what you missed

👉 USA is racing against China to build the first “drive-able” satellite. Thanks to a new technology, a “nuclear thermal propulsion” engine, US government is hoping to drive spacecrafts at will in space. After China success of landing two rovers on the moon dark side, we are assisting to a kind of space race 2.0.

👉 The first two Airbus satellites Pléiade Neo start environmental testing to ensure they can withstand launch and in-orbit conditions. These new generation earth observation satellites with very high-resolution capabilities are planned to be launched in summer 2020. It is worth noting that Pléiade Neo is fully funded, manufactured, owned and operated by Airbus. Images are going to be accessible for customers via the Airbus’s OneAtlas web platform.

👉 Iridium, the only satellite broadband service that provides global coverage for on-the-move internet and voice, upgraded its Certus service. Now, the subscribers can benefit from L-band upload and download speeds of up to 700kbps (instead of 352 kbps).

👉 For the first time in history, a commercial satellite met with a working communications satellite to extend its life. Two months ago, Intelsat telecommunications satellite, IS-901, was removed slightly from its GEO orbit. This week only, the Northrop Grumman spacecraft, Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) docked with IS-901 successfully. After some checkouts, MEV-1 will take control of IS-901 and move back to its normal orbit in late March. Thanks to this manoeuvre, Intelsat lifespan will be extend by around 5 years. The first ever pictures of a GEO satellite orbiting the earth were shared by Northrop Grumman here.

👉 Freeman Dyson, english quantum physicist has died at the age of 96. Dyson spent most of his life as a professor at the Princeton University Institute for Advanced Study where he became known for contributions in the interactions between light and matter. Besides, he produced several papers on the future of the universe, a nuclear-explosion-powered spacecraft and how humans and aliens will live and operate in space in the far future.

👉 A second loss of this week, Katherine Johnson, whose career making vital calculations for NASA has died at 101. Her precise calculations had helped plot the successful flight of Alan Shepard (first American in space) and John Glenn (first American to orbit the Earth) and verify the trajectories during the Apollo missions. In 2015, Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama and were celebrated in the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures”, a movie based on the book "Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians who helped win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly.

👉 Orange announced to partner with SES in order to be the first telephone company adopting the O3b mPOWER MEO constellation to provide connectivity in 18 african countries.

👉 Australia wants to enter into the space launchers arena. During the 9th Australian Space Forum in Adelaide, leaders of Australian launch vehicle companies and spaceport operators emphasised the benefits of their industry in economic development of the country and how Australia was well-positioned to attract parts of the growing demand for satellite launches. Among the present companies we find: Equatorial Launch Australia, Black Sky Aerospace, Gilmour Space Technologies and Southern Launch.

👉 Lockheed Martin acquires Vector Space Systems in bankruptcy proceedings so as to capitalize on their expertise. Their prototype nanosat GalacticSky-1 was intended to test the company's software-defined satellite technology.

👉 In a series of papers published on Monday in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications, scientists released the first 10 months of discoveries from NASA’s Mars InSight lander showing that the lander detects 174 earthquakes, proving Mars is seismically active.

👉 NASA launches $30,000 competition for innovative thinkers and developers. The agency is looking for ideas in creating a rover’s obstacle avoidance sensor able to work on Venus under the extreme planet heat. Interested? more details here.

👉 After successful Starlink satellites launches over the last year, SpaceX began deorbiting Starlink 46 for unknown reasons. Without any official statement, it remains a mystery why this specific satellite was chosen: was the procedure a deorbiting testing procedure? was it a necessity? or, given the SpaceX’s fast iterative engineering philosophy, just a manoeuvre to destroy it because outdated (launched in 2018)?

👉 This year's Space & Satellite Professionals International's (SSPI) will reward three members for the  Space & Satellite Hall of Fame. Nominees are: Steve Collar, CEO of SES; Tory Bruno, CEO of United Launch Alliance; and Paul Gaske, Executive VP at Hughes Network Systems. This nomination recognizes their great contributions to transform life on planet Earth for the better through space and satellite technology.

👉 Northrop Grumman Corporation has been selected by the U.S. Space Force’s Space to develop a Protected Tactical SATCOM rapid prototype payload for an on-orbit demonstration. Goal is to define and initiate a program with smooth processes, quick prototyping and short time to market.

🍪 Cookie of the week

The ISS is one of the easiest space objects to observe with naked eyes. The only requirement is a clear sky. Visit the dedicated NASA website here to find out when and where to look up at the sky.

Here you are debriefed 👌. Rendezvous next week! Until then, if you have a comment/question/suggestion, do not hesitate to reply to this email or leave a comment in the newsletter website.

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