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Space race – the old macho aim – USA and China to beat each other

A new space race? China adds urgency to US return to moon

By ELLEN KNICKMEYER September 15, 2022 WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s not just rocket fuel propelling America’s first moonshot after a half-century lull. Strategic rivalry with China’s ambitious space program is helping drive NASA’s effort to get back into space in a bigger way, as both nations push to put people back on the moon and establish the first lunar bases.

American intelligence, military and political leaders make clear they see a host of strategic challenges to the U.S. in China’s space program, in an echo of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry that prompted the 1960s’ race to the moon. That’s as China is quickly matching U.S. civil and military space accomplishments and notching new ones of its own.

On the military side, the U.S. and China trade accusations of weaponizing space. Senior U.S. defense officials warn that China and Russia are building capabilities to take out the satellite systems that underpin U.S. intelligence, military communications and early warning networks………………………..

NASA, the U.S. civilian space agency, is awaiting a new launch date this month or in October for its Artemis 1 uncrewed test moonshot. Technical problems scrubbed the first two launch attempts in recent weeks.

China likewise aims to send astronauts to the moon this decade, as well as establish a robotic research station there. Both the U.S. and China intend to establish bases for intermittent crews on the moon’s south pole after that…………………………………….

And for space more broadly, Americans alone have tens of thousands of satellites overhead ………………………

The moon programs signal that “space is going to be an arena of competition on the prestige front, demonstrating advanced technical expertise and know-how, and then also on the military front as well,” said Aaron Bateman, a professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University and a member of the Space Policy Institute……………………………….

A 1967 U.N. space treaty meant to start shaping the guardrails for space exploration bans anyone from claiming sovereignty over a celestial body, putting a military base on it, or putting weapons of mass destruction into space.

“I don’t think it’s at all by coincidence or happenstance that it is now in this period of what people are claiming is renewed great-power competition that the United States is actually investing the resources to go back,” said Bateman, the scholar on space and national security. “Time will tell if this turns into a sustained program.”………………………………… https://apnews.com/article/astronomy-russia-ukraine-space-exploration-science-technology-f98448825e588e8902bb74519b55ba9f

September 20, 2022 Posted by | politics international, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Can the testing on anti-satellite weapons be banned?

U.S. looking to encourage more countries to join ASAT testing ban, Space News, by Jeff Foust — August 31, 2022

WASHINGTON — As a second session of a United Nations working group on reducing space threats approaches, U.S. government officials say they’re looking for ways to encourage more countries to back a ban on anti-satellite weapon tests.

Vice President Kamala Harris announced April 18 that the United States would refrain from conducting direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) tests, calling such debris-generating activities “reckless and irresponsible.” She called on other nations to also halt such tests.

Her speech, officials later said, was timed to influence discussions at the first meeting of a U.N. Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on norms of behavior for reducing space threats held in May in Geneva. During that meeting Canada announced that it would join the United States in the ASAT testing ban. In July, the New Zealand government announced that it, too, would commit not to test direct-ascent ASATs. Neither country had developed or were planning to develop such weapons………………………………………………………………………

In 1963, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution that called on countries not to place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in outer space, which eventually became part of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty………  https://spacenews.com/u-s-looking-to-encourage-more-countries-to-join-asat-testing-ban/

August 31, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Astronauts Going to Mars Will Receive Many Lifetimes Worth of Radiation

Universe Today, In a recent study published in Space Physics, an international team of researchers discuss an in-depth study examining the long-term physiological effects of solar radiation on astronauts with emphasis on future astronauts traveling to Mars, to include steps we can take to help mitigate the risk of such solar radiation exposure. The researchers hailed from the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, India, United States, Italy, Greece, and Germany, and their study helps us better understand the in-depth, long-term health impacts of astronauts during long-term space missions, specifically to Mars and beyond.

Exposure to ionizing radiation is one of the main health risks to astronauts in crewed missions to Mars,” said Dr. Dimitra Atri, a Research Scientist at New York University Abu Dhabi, and lead author of the study. “Going to Mars is going to be humanity’s ultimate adventure in the 21st century — it would be unfortunate if the mission is successful, but astronauts suffer major health issues or even die because of radiation exposure. So, we need to estimate radiation exposure in a very careful way and study its overall impact on human health. It will also help us develop mitigation strategies to keep our astronauts safe.”

To conduct their study, the researchers utilized a computer simulation known as Geant4 with a model human phantom to calculate how each organ of the human body is affected by radiation doses from exposure to energetic charged particles for prolonged periods. These include impacts on an astronaut’s health such as Acute Radiation Syndrome, nervous system damage, and a higher risk of cancer. The CDC defines Acute Radiation Syndrome, also known as radiation sickness or radiation toxicity, as “an acute illness caused by irradiation of the entire human body (or most of the body) by a high dose of penetrating radiation in a very short period of time (usually a matter of minutes).”

Combining their data from the model human phantom with dozens of past medical studies, the researchers discuss the underlying impacts of ionizing radiation on physiological systems, to include the nervous, immune, and skeletal systems, and behavioral effects, along with impacts on genetic material and risk of cancer. They considered a crewed mission to Mars comprising of 600 days in cruise phase to and from the Red Planet and spending 400 days on the Martian surface. While they noted a knowledge gap regarding past medical studies and their own study, they stated radiation limits set by the European Space Agency, Roscosmos, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and NASA would be surpassed during a crewed mission to Mars.

“It is a comprehensive study modeling the impact of charged particles — protons, alpha particles, heavier species on a human phantom by using CERN’s charged particle interaction code, said Dr. Atri. “We were able to calculate radiation dose deposited in various organs of the human body. ………….  https://www.universetoday.com/157285/astronauts-going-to-mars-will-receive-many-lifetimes-worth-of-radiation/

August 23, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

“The New Space Race is Going Nuclear”

“The space nuclear industry is flying blind—blinded by its devotion to profit and power,” Gagnon declared. “Their hard hearts have no concern about the negative impacts they might create on Earth, to the people and environment, nor any long-term impacts their high-tech nuclear power ‘visions’ might have in space. Their vision is so myopic, so limited, so tunnel like, because their minds are closed to the idea that space is alive and is an environment that we humans who are on this tiny spinning orb called Earth live in. They are colonizers, much like the long-history of earth-bound colonizers, who have raped and pillaged our lovely planet home.

 https://www.thesentinel.com/communities/the-new-space-race-is-going-nuclear/article_3fc861da-1da5-11ed-b190-4ffd12c4bafa.html By Karl Grossman, Aug 16, 2022 

“The New Space Race is Going Nuclear” was the title of a recent hour webinar presented by the American Nuclear Society. The U.S. government is pouring money into the development of space nuclear power—for commercial, exploratory and military purposes—as described in the panel discussion featuring five very enthusiastic advocates of using atomic energy in space.

“So, it’s really an exciting time,” said the moderator for the American Nuclear Society, Jeffrey King, a professor of nuclear engineering and director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Center at the Colorado School of Mines, and also past chair of the society’s Aerospace Nuclear Science and Technology Division.

“It’s actually a time I didn’t expect that we’d end up seeing in my lifetime,” King said. “But we have now multiple companies—everything from government to the large contractors, small companies to start-up companies all interested in space nuclear power and different aspects of space nuclear power. It’s truly an exciting renaissance time for the field.”

As to the impacts of using nuclear power in space, comments made 44 minutes into the webinar were telling. King said “several people asked about,” in questions they sent in, “if anyone could comment on decommissioning plan or briefly what the plan is when we are done with these.”

Brad Rearden, director of the Government R&D Division of x-Energy, a company based in Rockville, Maryland and, previously, for 20 years, with the Reactor and Nuclear Systems

Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said: “So, at this point, I mean, you’re going to have a reactor that’s potentially stationed on the moon and operating for a decade. You know there’s no [nuclear waste] repository in America. There’s also no repository on the moon. And, so, it’s certainly a policy that needs to be examined. There’s always the possibility of removing it from the Moon at some point for disposal and disposing of it or doing some sort of disposal in place. So, I think it’s a really relevant question and something that certainly needs to be decided on the policy level. We can provide technical answers for that.”

Moderator King followed declaring: “Certainly in lunar you don’t have water, you don’t have wind. You don’t have anything that drives the motion of material and you don’t have an ecosystem that we have to worry about protecting but it is going to be a long-term concern.”

Asked by me in a question about that statement, King wrote back: “Specifically, the moon does not have an ecosystem. While there are what we might consider concerns is terms of leaving things pristine and or long-term human habitat, the moon is sterile and the worry about damaging in ecosystem is largely non-existent.”

And, Sebastian Corbisiero, senior technical advisor in the Nuclear Science and Technology Directorate at Idaho National Laboratory and the leader of the laboratory’s “Fission Surface Power” program, added in the webinar: “I don’t think anything has been officially decided on that. However, I will say that having a reactor on the Moon is less risky than having spent fuel in the vicinity of large population.”

About the webinar, Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, said: “I am reminded by the agents of nuclear power in space how the aerospace industry has viewed outer space during the 40 years I have been organizing on these issues. They’ve maintained that space is vast and limitless and has no real ecosystem or environment that we should be concerned about. So, their philosophy has essentially been ‘full speed ahead’.”

Now today,” Gagnon said, “NASA, the military, and some in the aerospace industry, are worriedly tracking the growing amount of space debris orbiting the Earth. They are beginning to talk about the ‘Kessler syndrome’ that predicts cascading collisions due to increasingly crowded orbits which could at some point make getting a rocket through the debris field encircling our planet nearly impossible.”

So as the nuclear industry cavalierly undertakes their plan for nuclear-powered mining colonies on the Moon, Mars and other planetary bodies they easily brush off any concerns about impacts,” said Gagnon. “As they make plans to test nuclear reactor rocket engines just over our heads in Lower Earth Orbits (LEO) they discount any concerns of environmental impacts if the tests go wrong. They never talk about the Department of Energy laboratories where these nuclear devices are fabricated with a long history of radioactive contamination of workers, local water tables and air contamination.”

“The space nuclear industry is flying blind—blinded by its devotion to profit and power,” Gagnon declared. “Their hard hearts have no concern about the negative impacts they might create on Earth, to the people and environment, nor any long-term impacts their high-tech nuclear power ‘visions’ might have in space. Their vision is so myopic, so limited, so tunnel like, because their minds are closed to the idea that space is alive and is an environment that we humans who are on this tiny spinning orb called Earth live in. They are colonizers, much like the long-history of earth-bound colonizers, who have raped and pillaged our lovely planet home.”

The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (www.space4peace.org) founded 30 years ago, in 1992, at a conference in Washington, D.C. is the leading organization internationally challenging the weaponization and use of nuclear power in space. In its description of the August 4th webinar, the American Nuclear Society asserts: “For decades, nuclear energy has played a role, sometimes minor and sometimes major, in humanity’s exploration and research of outer space. Many space experts, scientists, astronauts, and researchers believe that nuclear energy can fundamentally change how we live and work in extraterrestrial environments and that some missions, projects, and endeavors are nearly impossible without the involvement of nuclear technologies. As federal funding is being applied to nuclear projects for various space-based applications and opportunities, an expert panel will discuss how nuclear companies and researchers are poised to capitalize.”

A video recording of the webinar can also be viewed at https://www.ans.org/webinars/view-space2022/

Among the panelists was Michael Anness who, as biographies on the webinar website described, “leads the development new nuclear fuel products and services at Westinghouse Electric Company.” He has been a licensed nuclear reactor operator, it says. Anness spoke of space nuclear projects of Westinghouse Electric, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, including “microreactors” that would provide “fission surface power.” Anness said: “I’m kind of a fuel guy so I believe fuel is an enabling platform for space nuclear.”

Also on the panel was Kate Kelly, director for Space and Emerging programs at Lynchburg, Virginia-based BWXT Advanced Technologies and, previously, at BWX was “the Advanced Nuclear Systems Program Manager focused on the development of nuclear project to promote the company’s R&D interests in advanced manufacturing and nuclear thermal propulsion technologies.” She spoke about an “inflection point” on the use of nuclear power in

space having arrived. Said Kelly: “Over the last several years there’s been this re-emerging interest and investment by the government in fission systems for in-space power and propulsion.”

The sixth participant in the webinar was Alex Gilbert who has “expertise in space mining, nuclear innovation, energy markets and climate policy,” says his biography on the webinar website. “As Director of Space & Planetary Regulation at Zeno Power [based in Washington, D.C.], Alex oversees regulatory approvals for space launch, maritime, and terrestrial applications of radioisotope power systems…He was lead author of the U.S. Advanced Nuclear Energy Strategy, which outlined how government and industry can establish U.S. leadership in next generation nuclear reactor markets.”

Gilbert said “we are at a unique moment. I call it a space opportunity.” “He said “we could actually see exponential growth. Right now the space economy is around $400 billion globally. By the middle of the century it could be $4 trillion.” This expansion is a result of factors including a “resurgence in science and exploration and defense activities…and commerce. That is what is driving the interest in space nuclear technologies.” The American Nuclear Society describes itself as comprised of 10,000 members dedicated to “exploring possibilities within the realm of nuclear science and technology.”

King recounted that “I’ve been in and around the space nuclear community for quite a while, ever since 1997, for about 25 years. I remember it was space nuclear that got me into nuclear,” and being told by a nuclear engineer advisor that “space nuclear is going to be the future.”

August 17, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel, wastes | 1 Comment

As Threat of Militarisation Rises, International Community Races to Set Standards for Responsible Behaviour in Outer Space

Cornelis van Haperen | U. Nottingham School of Law, GB, AUGUST 11, 2022

The past decades have seen a growing interest in, and utilisation of, outer space. Ease of access to space has increased alongside the rise of more affordable and small-scale technologies, and as a consequence space has become a congested and competitive environment. This has resulted in an increase in the number of nations with space ambitions, while the proliferation of commercial space platforms and space exploration has also grown, even leading to Elon Musk’s capabilities to support Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion, and the new phenomenon of space tourism. 

No longer is the space domain reserved for the original space-faring nations — the United States, Russia and the emerging global power China. It is also causing the increased militarisation of space (‘arms race’) with a number nations having formed new military commands and armed forces (e.g. Space Command and Space Force: USA, UK, France) and NATO having declared space a war-fighting domain in 2019. 

The proliferation of space objects and debris is resulting in a growing risk of collision and damage, while the activities of certain nations (Russia, China) [ed note – h ha – why not include USA?]pose increased threats and risks of conflict. Western Allies have realized that they rely more and more on space for all military activities, including collective defence, crisis response, disaster relief, and counterterrorism, and depend on information delivered from and through space. Militarily tensions seem to have been on the rise too. There are real concerns among the international rule-based nations about the challenging behaviours of Russia and China [ ha ha why not include USA?] wreaking real havoc in space which even resulted in serious endangerment of the lives of American and Russian astronauts at the International Space Station. 

This article will shed some legal light on the recent announcement by US Vice-President Kamala Harris that the US would refrain from conducting destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing (i.e. destroying satellites in space). Whilst this seems to firmly place destructive actions at the centre of recent debates, the growing conduct of non-lethal operations such as jamming and spoofing should not be discarded. This article will therefore concentrate more widely on the international legal framework and military use of space. The main issue that will be addressed is whether the increased militarisation of space requires better norms and rules to ensure the responsible and peaceful use of outer space. There will be a brief reflection on the United Nations organisations that are leading efforts to bring nations together in the development of such norms and rules and where the international community is going next. 

Military Use of Space – the Relevant Law?

It seems inherently contradictory to talk about military and weapons in the same breath as outer space. In December 1963, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution recognising the common interest of all mankind in the progress, exploration, and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. These words resembled similar aspirations as defined in the Antarctic Treaty a few years earlier. The main difference was that this Treaty also spelled out the prohibition of military activities whereas resolution 1962 did not. It has therefore been unavoidable that two interpretations of the term peaceful have emerged: one arguing a complete ban of all weapons in space, while the prevailing view does not represent such a prohibition. 

Let’s place the increased militarisation of space in the appropriate context by defining the international legal framework for outer space and reflect on the legal underpinning of military activities within outer space. The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Spaceincluding the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, 1967, better known as the Outer Space Treaty (OST), and four other key treaties, commonly referred to as the outer space legal regime, together provide a legal foundation for ‘the expanding and increasingly complex tasks aimed at the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.’

In addition, the UN General Assembly has defined several principles as well as adopted various resolutions. Article I of the OST states that exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is to be for the benefit of all mankind. Importantly, Article II clarifies that they shall not be subject to national appropriation and thus there can be no claims of sovereignty. The OST further states that the use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be undertaken consistent with international law. This includes the UN Charter and is to conform with the UN’s purposes to maintain peace and security and the promotion of international co-operation. ………………………………………..

Preventing Bad Behaviour: Mitigating Risks of Damage and Threats of Escalation

It is often reported that debris in space is growing exponentially. The logical consequence of the increase in space activities is a growing risk of collisions with space objects, i.e. other satellites, and the creation and proliferation of new debris due to ever more launches. However, whilst some of this risk could arguably be mitigated through more cautious behaviour, there has also been a noticeable growth of capabilities to interfere with systems in outer space or even destroy them, and we have seen an upturn in deliberate malicious acts by actors seeking to affect the space activities of other nations. The most destructive forms are those of kinetic or physical counter-space weapons that directly hit satellites. ……………………………………………………

United Nations and National Leadership

The framework for state action in outer space is now far behind the technological possibilities, developments, and commercialisation of space. Nevertheless, the Proposed Prevention of an Arms Race in Space (PAROS) has been on the United Nations’ disarmament agenda for over four decades. Numerous nations have expressed their concerns about the harmful and damaging effects of this competition for space. While the discussions in the international community have intensified over the past decades these have not yet resulted in binding treaties or measures……………………………………………….. more  https://www.jurist.org/features/2022/08/11/explainer-as-threat-of-militarisation-rises-international-community-races-to-set-standards-for-responsible-behaviour-in-outer-space/

August 17, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | Leave a comment

MARS ASTRONAUTS WOULD GET HORRIFYING DOSE OF RADIATION, STUDY FINDS

SO… WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT COLONIZING MARS?

MAGGIE HARRISON  https://futurism.com/the-byte/mars-astronauts-radiation-study 15 Aug 22

Sorry, Elon

So, uh, there might be a serious wrench in Elon Musk’s plans to colonize Mars.

According to an alarming — though yet-to-be-peer-reviewed — new study, astronauts who underwent a crewed mission to the Red Planet would likely face devastating levels of radiation — even when wearing protective metal shields.

Bad Trip

In order to realistically examine how much cumulative radiation the astronauts would face, the scientists based their research on a 1,000-day crewed mission — 600 days of travel time, 400 days on the Martian surface — to our neighboring planet.

As New Scientist reports, the work was partially inspired by the gender gap in space radiation research. Most studies in the field have focused on male bodies — NASA, in fact, is only sending test dummies with female anatomies into space for the first time this year.

With that in mind, the scientists were sure to include comprehensive virtual models of both male and female anatomies in their study. These models were then mercilessly pelted with simulated cosmic radiation, including that caused by solar flares, and studied using particle-tracking software usually used in particle accelerator research. (It’s also worth noting that the model accounted for exposures with aluminum shielding and without.)

Radiation Station

And regarding whether such missions would be safe or not, the results were unfortunately in favor of “not.”

After surveying the impact of the 1,000-day simulated mission on over 40 of the digitally-modeled body parts and organs, the researchers determined that most of the individual organs examined contained radiation levels over one sievert — as New Scientist reports, most space agencies worldwide stipulate that no astronaut should be exposed to over one sievert of radiation throughout their entire career, while NASA maintains that 0.6 sieverts should be the max.

As the study has yet to be peer reviewed, none of this data is entirely certain. But if it ultimately checks out, humanity definitely has some protective measures to figure out before any astronauts — let alone a whole chunk of humanity — could safely make their way to Earth’s dusty red neighbor.

READ MORE:Mars astronauts would get unsafe radiation doses even with shielding [New Scientist]

August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Elon Musk’s SpaceX now leaving junk in Australia’s backyard

Independent Australia, By Darren Crawford | 10 August 2022 After a SpaceX capsule crashed onto an Australian farm, we’re left wondering if Elon Musk will clean up his own mess, writes Darren Crawford.

ACCORDING TO the ABC, the Australian Space Agency (ASA) has confirmed that debris found in a sheep paddock in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia, belongs to Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon capsule, which was launched in November 2020.

Local authorities were alerted after nearby residents heard a loud bang earlier this year on 9 July. It is now thought the bang was the noise of the capsule re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. New South Wales Police and the ASA visited one of the sites on Saturday 31 July and confirmed that two of the pieces are from a SpaceX mission.

According to the ABC, the ASA is continuing to engage with its counterparts in the U.S. as well as other parts of the Commonwealth and local authorities.

An ASA spokesperson said:

“The agency is operating under the Australian Government Space Re-entry Debris Plan which outlines roles and responsibilities for key Australian government agencies and committees in supporting the response to space re-entry debris.”

So who is responsible for the clean-up?

According to the ABC report, the space debris will remain in place for now. However, the pieces could eventually be returned to U.S. soil.

Australian National University’s Institute of Space deputy director Dr Cassandra Steer said there was an obligation under international space law to repatriate any debris to the country from where it originated.

Dr Steer went on to confirm that “Any space object, or part thereof, has to be repatriated” and should be sent back to the U.S. However, SpaceX has only confirmed that the debris is theirs and is yet to commit to the costs associated with returning it to the U.S.

Dr Steer added:

“We have clarity in terms of lines of responsibilities. The U.S. is liable for any damage that is caused by this space debris… and Australia could go to the U.S. and seek some form of compensation if there are any costs involved in cleaning it up.”

Elon Musk and SpaceX have a poor environmental record

As reported earlier this year, Elon Musk and fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are currently participating in a dick-swinging rocket contest to see who can get to Mars first. Suffering from massive rocket envy, these three men are speeding up the climate change process by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases in the Earth’s atmosphere with every launch.

The Guardian reports that one rocket launch alone can release up to 300 tons of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s upper atmosphere and it can stay there for years. This is in comparison to a standard long-haul flight which produces three tons of carbon dioxide per passenger/per flight, into the lower atmosphere.

These impacts do not include what happens on the ground during a launch, including the heat and noise pollution in the immediate area, or the impacts on local wildlife.

There appear to be few controls put in place to protect the planet and its inhabitants from falling space junk by Elon Musk and SpaceX. In March 2021, a SpaceX rocket blew up on launch and debris was scattered throughout the protected area. According to a local non-profit environmental group, it took three months to clean up the mess.

According to the report, launch site ditches on SpaceX land and public property in the U.S. have dumped runoff water directly into the tidal flats threatening local fish breeding grounds, and public beaches and roads have been closed for longer than the agreed times.

Finally, at an earlier launch in 2018, a jettisoned SpaceX booster rocket missed its target drone ship a few hundred kilometres out to sea and destroyed itself on impact slamming into the ocean at 500 km/hour.

So, will Elon Musk and SpaceX clean up their mess down under?

This is the great unknown, as Elon Musk’s environmental record in relation to his SpaceX program is extremely poor.

It is also clear, as can be seen by his recently abandoned Twitter purchase, that Elon Musk doesn’t care who he burns, or how hard he burns them, to get his own way.

It is apparent that Elon Musk sees the increasing amount of pollution produced by his SpaceX endeavours as little more than collateral damage and less of a threat to our civilisation. Similarly, he doesn’t care whose backyard he trashes (as long as it’s not his, obviously).

Instead of turning his immense intelligence (and wealth) to solving our current problems, Elon Musk (and his billionaire space mates) seek to exacerbate these problems by polluting the planet further.

It will be interesting to see whether he does the right thing by the Australian Government and its people and pays for the clean-up of his mess.

Update, 10 August 2022:

The ABC is reporting that SpaceX has confirmed that the space debris spread throughout an Australian sheep paddock is indeed remnants of their Dragon Capsule and is sending a team down under to investigate………………………….

What was not stated was whether any ASA or government agencies were aware of or engaged in any of SpaceX’s planning. Space Law Lecturer at UNSW Canberra, Duncan Blake, wondered if they had coordinated with Australian agencies prior to their risk assessment — “If they didn’t, then that seems somewhat arrogant to make a decision that affects Australia without consulting Australians,” he said.

There has been no mention of the cost of removal or the debris, or as to whether Elon Musk and SpaceX will be more honest and open in the future and advise all Australians about the potential damage falling SpaceX junk may cause in their country.
 https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/elon-musks-spacex-now-leaving-junk-in-our-own-backyard,16650

August 9, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, space travel, wastes | Leave a comment

NASA, Russian space agency sign deal to share space station flights – Roscosmos

Yahoo News, Joey Roulette July 15, 2022 (Reuters) -NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos have signed a long-sought agreement to integrate flights to the International Space Station, allowing Russian cosmonauts to fly on U.S.-made spacecraft in exchange for American astronauts being able to ride on Russia’s Soyuz, the agencies said Friday.

NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos have signed a long-sought agreement to integrate flights to the International Space Station, allowing Russian cosmonauts to fly on U.S.-made spacecraft in exchange for American astronauts being able to ride on Russia’s Soyuz, the agencies said Friday.

“The agreement is in the interests of Russia and the United States and will promote the development of cooperation within the framework of the ISS program,” Roscosmos said in a statement, adding it will facilitate the “exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes.”

NASA and Roscosmos, the two-decade-old space station’s core partners, have sought for years to renew routine integrated crewed flights as part of the agencies’ long-standing civil alliance, now one of the last links of cooperation between the United States and Russia as tensions flare over the war in Ukraine.


The first integrated flights under the new agreement will come in September, NASA said, with U.S. astronaut Frank Rubio launching to the space station from the Moscow-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan alongside two cosmonauts, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin.

In exchange, cosmonaut Anna Kikina will join two U.S. astronauts and a Japanese astronaut on a SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the orbital laboratory, launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The two agencies had previously shared astronaut seats on the U.S. shuttle and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

After the shuttle’s retirement in 2011, the U.S. relied on Russia’s Soyuz for sending American astronauts to the space station until 2020, when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule revived NASA’s human spaceflight capability and began routine ISS flights from Florida……………………….. more https://www.yahoo.com/news/nasa-russian-space-agency-sign-132725285.html

July 13, 2022 Posted by | Russia, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

The Corporatization of Space.

The Corporatization of Just About Everything,

Consortium News, Tom Valovic,  July 6, 2022…………………………………………  let’s draw on the self-declared wisdom of Time magazine for guidance. (This is a publication that’s now in the Big Tech/Big Media” camp as it’s now owned by the CEO of Salesforce.com). In the same issue, another article gushed over the fact that corporations are poised to dominate the exploration and use of space:“….NASA made it clear that when that clock does toll, the U.S. will be getting out of the space station game, likely for good. Instead, the space agency signed a $415.6 million seed money deal with three companies — Blue Origin, Nanoracks, and Northrop Grumman — to develop their own private space stations, on which NASA and other customers could lease space for professional crews and tourists. The article goes on to point out that, in a press statement, a NASA spokesperson boasted that….

” NASA is once again leading the way to commercialize space activities” and that “we are partnering with U.S. companies to develop the space destinations where people can visit, live, and work.”

It seems abundantly clear that the top-down corporate model of governance is fundamentally anti-democratic by its very nature and the waning power and direction of our democratic institutions worldwide has much to do with this fact.

…. uncontrolled and uncontrollable market forces are no substitute for thoughtful and enlightened public policy and democratic norms. Granted, this is in short supply these days but allowing corporations to fill that void is hardly a solution.

As our glorious planet continues to experience crisis after crisis, it’s sad and troubling that there seems to be no shortage of profiteers looking to make an easy buck off the spoils. It seems abundantly clear that the top-down corporate model of governance is fundamentally anti-democratic by its very nature and the waning power and direction of our democratic institutions worldwide has much to do with this fact…….   https://consortiumnews.com/2022/07/06/the-corporatization-of-just-about-everything/

Tom Valovic is a journalist and the author of Digital Mythologies (Rutgers University Press), a series of essays that explored emerging social and political issues raised by the advent of the Internet. He has served as a consultant to the former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. Tom has written about the effects of technology on society for a variety of publications including Columbia University’s Media Studies Journal, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Examiner, among others.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, space travel | Leave a comment

Enthusiastic space travel publicity avoids mentioning radiation danger

We need to talk about radiation in space, Cosmos By Jamie Seidel/1 July 2022,

Escape from it all: go above and beyond in your quest for relaxation. Space hotels promise to capitalise on the ultimate dream. But there’s an elephant in orbit, and nobody’s talking about it.

“We’ve seen a lot of great concept designs for orbital hotels lately,” says Dr Iwan Cornelius. “But none of them seem worried about radiation.”

Cornelius is the managing director of Amentum Scientific, an Australian predictive scientific modelling company that quantifies the risks of radiation exposure for the aviation, transport, mining and space industries.

“I’m guessing being sick in space is not good,” the former radiation worker quips. “It’s a long way to your local GP – and the emergency department.”

Radiation exposure has bothered NASA since the earliest days of its space programs. It’s why the International Space Station (ISS) has a tiny bunker surrounded by water and equipment where astronauts can hunker down.

Space tourism is closer to reality than you think – but a few important things remain to be ironed out.

Escape from it all: go above and beyond in your quest for relaxation. Space hotels promise to capitalise on the ultimate dream. But there’s an elephant in orbit, and nobody’s talking about it.

“We’ve seen a lot of great concept designs for orbital hotels lately,” says Dr Iwan Cornelius. “But none of them seem worried about radiation.”

Cornelius is the managing director of Amentum Scientific, an Australian predictive scientific modelling company that quantifies the risks of radiation exposure for the aviation, transport, mining and space industries.

“I’m guessing being sick in space is not good,” the former radiation worker quips. “It’s a long way to your local GP – and the emergency department.”

Radiation exposure has bothered NASA since the earliest days of its space programs. It’s why the International Space Station (ISS) has a tiny bunker surrounded by water and equipment where astronauts can hunker down.

“One thing you’ll notice with all these concept diagrams for space hotels is there’s not a lot of information about a radiation refuge.”

…………… “If we’re talking about a packed hotel in space, where will they go?” Cornelius asks. “How long will it take to get there? Does everyone get access to a shelter – including staff? I don’t know if this is being thought through”.

And solar events aren’t the only space radiation source…………………………….

July 7, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | Leave a comment

Lost in space: Astronauts struggle to regain bone density

France 24 30/06/2022 Paris (AFP) – Astronauts lose decades’ worth of bone mass in space that many do not recover even after a year back on Earth, researchers said Thursday, warning that it could be a “big concern” for future missions to Mars.

Previous research has shown astronauts lose between one to two percent of bone density for every month spent in space, as the lack of gravity takes the pressure off their legs when it comes to standing and walking.

To find out how astronauts recover once their feet are back on the ground, a new study scanned the wrists and ankles of 17 astronauts before, during and after a stay on the International Space Station.

The bone density lost by astronauts was equivalent to how much they would shed in several decades if they were back on Earth, said study co-author Steven Boyd of Canada’s University of Calgary and director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health.

The researchers found that the shinbone density of nine of the astronauts had not fully recovered after a year on Earth — and were still lacking around a decade’s worth of bone mass.

The astronauts who went on the longest missions, which ranged from four to seven months on the ISS, were the slowest to recover.

“The longer you spend in space, the more bone you lose,” Boyd told AFP.

Boyd said it is a “big concern” for planned for future missions to Mars, which could see astronauts spend years in space……………………..

Guillemette Gauquelin-Koch, the head of medicine research at France’s CNES space agency, said that the weightlessness experienced in space is “most drastic physical inactivity there is”.

“Even with two hours of sport a day, it is like you are bedridden for the other 22 hours,” said the doctor, who was not part of the study.

“It will not be easy for the crew to set foot on Martian soil when they arrive — it’s very disabling.”………………………………….  https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220630-lost-in-space-astronauts-struggle-to-regain-bone-density

July 2, 2022 Posted by | health, Reference, space travel | Leave a comment

The impossibility of humans colonising space

Ukraine Is The Most Aggressively Trolled War Of All Time: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Caitlin’s Newsletter, Caitlin Johnstone 30n June 22

”……………………………………………………………………………..One thing we learned from Covid is that being stuck inside sucks. Space colonization would be like being in permanent lockdown with no windows, no Uber Eats, no birdsong or rain on the roof and no chance of ever going home. Even if it somehow became possible, it’s a dumb idea and I hate it.

And there’s no reason to believe it will ever become possible. Science is nowhere near finished learning about all the countless ways the human organism is inseparably intertwined with Earth. The belief that we can solve our problems with space colonization is unscientific. We’re just going to have to change how we function as a species.

Astronauts lose decades’ worth of bone mass in space that many do not recover even after a year back on Earth, researchers said Thursday, warning that it could be a “big concern” for future missions to Mars

The biggest obstacle remains the fact that science has no idea how to sustain human life in a way that is separate from earth’s ecosystem. We don’t even have any evidence that it’s possible. We’re no closer to being able to do it than we were a thousand years ago; today’s space stations are not independent of Earth’s ecosystem in even the tiniest way. They’re still 100 percent dependent on terrestrial supplies, which is an unsustainable model if you’re talking about actual colonization.

The idea of space colonization appeals to the capitalist mentality because it means we can keep expanding our population and keep expanding the economy and keep harvesting and consuming resources in the way we have been. But there’s literally zero scientific evidence that it’s feasible.

A future of space colonization is a fairy tale we tell ourselves so that we won’t have to change. So we can keep up our egocentric way of functioning without adapting and transcending our self-destructive patterns. We’re like a slacker who refuses to get off their parents’ couch and get their shit together who babbles made-up nonsense about NFT get-rich-quick schemes when asked about their plans for the future.

Collective extinction is easier to imagine than collective ego death. https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/ukraine-is-the-most-aggressively?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

July 2, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | Leave a comment

Elon Musk’s satellites for the war in Ukraine

From CNGNN Italy, 29 May 22, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world whose wealth nearly doubled in the two pandemic years, offered $ 44 billion to buy Twitter, which he says would become “the platform for free speech across the country world“. Elon Musk owns SpaceX, an aerospace company based in California.

SpaceX makes rockets and satellites to build Starlink, a broadband Internet system that once is completed will cover the entire world. SpaceX has so far put 2,500 satellites into orbit with rockets carrying 50 satellites at a time and plans to place 42,000 Starlink satellites in low orbit occupying 80% of this space.

Starlink was presented as a commercial satellite system but has fundamental military applications. In fact, satellites in low orbit transmit signals at a much higher speed than those in geosynchronous orbit around the equator. The US Army and Air Force fund and test Starlink to use its military capabilities. For example, last March, the US Air Force reported that conventional and nuclear dual-capacity F-35A fighters had carried out data transmission using Start link satellites at speed 30 times faster than traditional connections.SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are already being used by the Ukrainian military to guide drones, artillery shells, and missiles into Russian positions. This is confirmed by General Dickinson, head of the US Space Command, who declared to the Senate that “Elon Musk’s Starlink demonstrates in Ukraine what the mega-constellations of satellites can do“. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is part of the group of ten largest commercial satellite operators collaborating with US Space Command at the Vandenberg military space base in California.

May 30, 2022 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

”Commercial” nuclear power in space? – it’s all about weapons and war.

US military wants to demonstrate new nuclear power systems in space by 2027,By Elizabeth Howell , Space.com , 29 May 22,

That’s just one year after DARPA plans to test out its own nuclear power prototypes.Add the Defense Innovation Unit to a growing list of U.S. government organizations furthering their work in nuclear power in pace.

The organization, which seeks to get the military ready to use emergent commercial products, announced two prototype contracts on May 17 “to demonstrate the next generation of nuclear propulsion and power capability for spacecraft.” The ultimate aim is an orbital flight demonstration in 2027, DIU officials said in a statement(opens in new tab)

The contracts went to two companies, Ultra Safe Nuclear and Avalanche Energy,  to demonstrate nuclear propulsion and power capabilities for small spacecraft that would operate in cislunar (Earth-moon) space. (The values of the contracts were not disclosed in the release.)

It’s part of the U.S. military’s pressing focus on cislunar activities to keep an eye on commercial and government activities that will ramp up there in the coming decades, including the international NASA-led Artemis program that seeks to put people on the moon in the 2020s…………………………   https://www.space.com/nuclear-power-propulsion-space-defense-innovation-unit-contracts

May 30, 2022 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US military wants nuclear rocket ideas for missions near the moon

The space agency is collaborating on the DRACO project “using non-reimbursable engagement with industry participants

Space.com, By Elizabeth Howell published 1 day ago

The U.S. military hopes to see a flight demonstration in 2026. The U.S. military is ready to take the next step in developing a nuclear rocket to help monitor Earth-moon space, an area it has deemed a high strategic priority.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced May 4 that it’s seeking proposals for the second and third phases of a project to design, develop and assemble a nuclear thermal rocket engine for an expected flight demonstration in Earth orbit by 2026.

“These propulsive capabilities will enable the United States to enhance its interests in space and to expand possibilities for NASA’s long-duration human spaceflight missions,” DARPA officials said in a statement.

The proposals will support DARPA’s Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program, which aims to develop a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system for use in Earth-moon space. DRACO is part of the U.S. military’s larger push to keep an eye on cislunar (Earth-moon) space as government and commercial activities increase in this sector in the coming decade…………

Phase 1 for Draco included awards in April 2021 for General Atomics, Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin. The phase was scheduled to last 18 months across two independent tracks. 

Track A, for General Atomics, included the preliminary design of a nuclear thermal propulsion reactor, along with a propulsion subsystem. Track B, pursued by Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin independently, aimed to create an “operational system spacecraft concept” to meet future mission objectives, including a demonstration system.

In September 2020, DARPA also awarded a $14 million task order for DRACO to Gryphon Technologies, a company in Washington, D.C. that provides engineering and technical solutions to national security organizations…………

The space agency is collaborating on the DRACO project “using non-reimbursable engagement with industry participants where technology investments have common interest to both organizations,” NASA officials wrote in the $26 billion budget request for fiscal year 2023, which was released in March. ………. https://www.space.com/darpa-nuclear-rocket-earth-moon-space

May 12, 2022 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment