Solar Orbiter | Astroscale | Facebook | Lockheed Martin | NASA | Northrop Grumman | Imam Khomeini Space Center

issue 4

Hi friends;

On a remote island on the Indian coast called North Sentinel, lives a native tribe of about 200 people. According to the estimate of some scientists, the Sentineles have been living on this 72 km2 piece of land for thousands of years, and their way of life has hardly changed since then. There has been very little contact with us (as in this short video where men offer them coconuts) as they refuse all approaches and kill anyone who ventures on their land. India officially renounced contact with them in the 1990s in respect of their desire for isolation. In 2010, the Indian government decided to prohibit approaching the island in order to preserve their culture, and their existence as their immune system is not adapted to our infectious agents.

You're probably wondering: "What's going on? We didn't sign up for an anthropology newsletter”. Actually, we, humans on Earth, could be someone else's Sentineles... If that's the case, extraterrestrial humans have already found us. Humans from a civilization so evolved that we're a primitive tribe to them. We can send as many Voyager probes and build as many SETI as we want, it is very likely forbidden for anyone to approach us. This is a well developed idea in SciFi alike the Star Trek’s Prime Directive: “Do not interfere with the development of other species in the universe as long as they have not managed to travel faster than light”. This theory has actually a scientific name: the Zoo hypothesis! A good keyword if you want to look for books or films that elaborate on this idea. Another plot twist would be, what if there are other humans, on earth, not at all extraterrestrial, so evolved that they have decided not to reveal themselves to us?

Have a great week!

PS: If you would like to recommend a particular sci-fi book/movie that fall within the Zoo hypothesis, do not hesitate to drop a comment!

🛰 News of the week

👉 Lockheed Martin Delivers GPS III satellite to Cape Canaveral for April Launch. The company is making 10 GPS III satellites with 70-percent digital mission data unit. The 100-percent digital payload will be introduced in the 11th satellite. In addition to this digital navigation payload, the GPS III will have a regional military protection capability, three times greater accuracy, up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities, and a search-and-rescue payload. It will also be the first GPS satellite to broadcast the new civilian L1C civil signal, which is shared by other international global navigation satellite systems in order to cooperate and improve the navigation service.

👉 Northrop Grumman won a $253.5 million contract by the U.S. Space Force to build a highly secured communications payload aimed for classified communications. Two payloads will be selected to launch in 2024 for on-orbit testing. They will be deployed on satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit.

👉 The very select club of megaconstellations (SpaceX, OneWeb, Kuiper) may have a newcomer. Indeed, Facebook has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to add ground stations in Norway and Antarctica. This seems to suggest that Facebook's Athena project is far from being abandoned.

👉 NASA is hiring more astronauts for its lunar project Artemis. Applications are going to be open from March 2 to 31. The basic requirements to apply include United States citizenship and a master’s degree in a STEM field (engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics) from an accredited institution. Candidates also must have at least two years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time. Friends, update your resumes. More information over here.

👉 The emmerging market of space debris removal is gaining ground. Astroscale Holdings has been selected for Phase I of the JAXA’s first debris removal project. JAXA’s Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration project (CRD2) consists of two mission phases to remove an upper stage Japanese rocket body. In Phase I, Astroscale will send a spacecraft into orbit to inspect the discarded Japanese rocket upper stage by 2023. Phase II will consist of deorbiting this latter by 2026. A 3min demonstration from Astroscale is available here

👉 The iranian Imam Khomeini Space Center failed to put Zafar 1 on Orbit. "Stage-1 and stage-2 motors of the carrier functioned properly and the satellite was successfully detached from its carrier, but at the end of its path it did not reach the required speed for being put in the orbit" informed the Defence Ministry spokesman Ahmad Hosseini. While this may seem disappointing, the Iran's information and communications technology minister tweeted “Today 'Zafar' satellite launch failed. Like many scientific projects, Failure happened. FALCON 9, Juno II, ATLAS, PROTON M, ANTARES are just few samples of US launch failures. But We're UNSTOPPABLE! We have more Upcoming Great Iranian Satellites!

👉 Atlas 5 successfully launched the observation satellite Solar Orbiter. It is an ESA project done in collaboration with NASA that started 20 years ago (1999). This mission is expected to provide new data as well as the first views ever of the sun’s polar regions at a distance of only 33 million kms. The 150kg of heating foils as well as parts of the satellite were coated with a material specially designed for this mission called SolarBlack. This later withstands temperatures up to 520°C. A similar NASA satellite but with fewer embedded equipments, Parker Solar Probe, was launched in 2018 and must make 21 passes at 25 millions kms, and 3 at 7 millions kms from the sun. NASA's monetary contribution to the Solar orbiter is roughly $386 million, and ESA around $877 million.

🍪 Cookie of the week

This week I came across an interesting podcast called Space Nerds. Presented once a week by a team of four people, they discuss space news, the future of space exploration and related sci-fi TV shows. Even if the episods are quite long (around 1h30), the atmosphere is very relaxed, full of humor and delightful.

This week's episode joins my last week editorial on the challenges that humanity should face if it colonizes Mars. A very interesting episode!

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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