Welcome to my new weekly blog on all things Space, this week we take a look at the latest Soyuz launch to the International Space Station, the ARKYD Kickstarter project and Astronaut Abby a 15 year old with an amazing vision for STEM and Space.
On Tuesday this week Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano launched about there Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from Kazakhstan on an accelerated six hour journey to the space station. This is the second time a Soyuz has used the express rendezvous to the station which cuts down the time spent in the Soyuz from two days. They join current station crew members Chris Cassidy, Alexander Misurkin, and Pavel Vinogradov to complete the Expedition 36 crew.
The crew have a very busy increment coming up with a number of visiting vehicles and five space walks as well as the hundreds of science experiments that are performed each day.
On Wednesday this week Planetary Resources announced the launch of there ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone Kickstarter project. The goal of the project is to raise $1,000,000 to provide a Space Telescope for citizen science, as of writing they had already raised $600,000+ with 6000+ backers. There are multiple sponsorship levels available from $25 for a photo from the spacecraft or yourself with the Earth in the background to $10,000 for a very neat package (check out the page).
I have signed on to this project at the $65 level and would encourage anyone who has dreamed of being involved in space to get involved.
And finally this week we meet Astronaut Abby who has just completed an amazing trip to Russia and Kazakhstan to watch the Soyuz launch. She recently raised $35,000 through the RocketHub CrowdFunding site to “Inspire Future Generations”, she will be using the money raised to provide classroom visits and share her vision to be the first Astronaut on Mars.
In addition she has been selected to be Astronaut Luca Parmitano’s Earth Liason while he is on the space station. Abby will be communicating regularly with Luca and will be posting updates about his adventure. When asked Luca said that he selected Abby for her passion for space and reaching her dream and that one day he would be training her to be an Astronaut.
This week I wanted to vent my frustration about the SLS/Orion project at NASA, here we have a new rocket system that current estimates say will cost in excess of $41B for four launches by 2025 for the 70 metric tonne version, the 130 metric tonne version isn’t expected to be ready until 2030. Next year SpaceX is expected to launch the Falcon Heavy which will cost significantly less money and will be capable of launching 53 metric tonnes, it seems very likely that by 2025 SpaceX could have greater launch capacity then SLS will have.
In addition the Orion Space capsule which has already had structure problems during pressure testing only has a four person crew capacity which while being one more than Soyuz and other current space capsules is three less than the planned Dragon Crew Capsule, the Dreamchaser vehicle or the Boeing CST-100. The first planned uncrewed launch for the capsule will be next year and the first crewed mission isn’t expected until 2021. Again by this time one or more of the capsules mentioned above will have already launched multiple crews to the ISS and I know SpaceX have plans to go beyond LEO with Dragon.
It seems at this point it would be more logically to invest some of the $41B in SpaceX, Sierra Nevada and Boeing to improve their vehicles and the rest of the money in Planetary Science to go explore the Europa or Titan.