Thursday, March 28, 2019

A Few Small Pieces of Space News

None of them big enough to justify a story.

NASA had been talking about having the first "all woman space walk", then cancelled it this Monday.  It turns out they both wouldn't appear in public wearing the same outfit.

No, that's a bad joke that I just made up, although it made my wife LOL.  They cancelled the walk for an equally insipid reason: they both wear the same size space suit and no one thought to have two onboard the ISS.
One of the two women on the mission, Anne McClain, will now have to give up her place to a male colleague.

She thought a large-sized suit would be fine but after a spacewalk last week found that the medium-sized was a better fit and would be the most appropriate suit to wear to venture back outside the International Space Station.
It's the essence of identity politics to do stunts like this and whoever is pushing the stories needs to find a real job.  To roughly quote my wife, who was the first female electronics technician in most of the places she worked, 'what is this, 1970?  Why do we need to keep an "oppressed identity scorecard" for every mission?  I thought we were done with this when we were kids.'

Over the last couple of years, I've covered the enormous financial pressures on the space launch business that SpaceX is causing.  In 2013, the launch business was Russia capturing about half of the launches, the European Space Agency at 22%, then Sea Launch at 15%, Spacex had about 7% and Japan at just under that.  By 2018, SpaceX had captured close to 65%, the ESA was up a bit to around 25% (having peaked around 40% by 2014-2016) and Russia was down to 7%.

This week we learn that Russia's Roscosmos is cutting the cost of their Proton launch vehicle's flights to match SpaceX's price.
Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos will cut the cost of launching a Proton-M carrier rocket to the level of a US Falcon 9 (produced by SpaceX) through lower expenses on ground-based preparations, Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin said on Monday.
You've got to consider this interesting, but with the recent failures of the Proton (example) it's not clear whether international customers will be so motivated by price that they'll overlook the reliability concerns.  They could also cut costs by leaving parts off, Muntzing the vehicle, but I don't think many customers would sign on for that.  The space business selects for people that are very cautious. 

Speaking of SpaceX, the second Falcon Heavy launch is approaching, which will be something I'd watch, regardless of time of day. 
The reported plan is to launch Falcon Heavy as early as April 7 at 6:36 p.m. Eastern from the Launch Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, reported CNBC on March 15. The mission is dubbed Arabsat 6A and would launch a communications satellite built by Lockheed Martin into orbit for Saudi Arabian company Arabsat. 
The iconic image of the two first stage boosters returning to the landing facility on the KSC and landing within about a second of each other has stuck with me.  The fact that the core booster crashed into the booster recovery ship and was lost is an incentive to SpaceX to get it right this time.


  1. I read they had two medium suits on board but one of them needed some work to make it space-rated.

  2. The real problem is NASA's suits are worn and reaching end-of-life, and nobody ordered replacements. Stupid is as NASA does...

  3. Ahhhh....Sea Launch. Brings back memories. It was never the same after the Rooskies took it over and milked the 5 remaining launch contracts.

    I'm not a Musk fanboi, but seeing as a bunch of my former Boeing Buddies are there, I wish them well.

  4. SiG, your post seemed to indicate there weren't enough space suits available for every woman (person?) to have one to use if there was a need for every one to "suit-up". Did I misunderstand or mis-read that?

    As ignorant as I am about the ISS, even though there are different sections that can be utilized for life support if a loss of atmosphere occurred in a different module, I can't help but wonder if the agencies involved (like NASA) are too cheap to provide enough suits for all personnel on location. What if the module where arriving and departing vehicles connected to the station was the one without an atmosphere, and could not be repaired? How could all crew transit to vehicles to return to Earth, if it was necessary to abandon the ISS?

    1. SiG, your post seemed to indicate there weren't enough space suits available for every woman (person?) to have one to use if there was a need for every one to "suit-up". Did I misunderstand or mis-read that?

      I'm not sure it's that bad. I think that in an emergency they could put on a suit that doesn't fit quite right but seals, but this astronaut (Anne McClain) thought the large wasn't comfortable to work in. That Guardian article said, “Anne trained in ‘M’ and ‘L’ and thought she could use a large but decided after [last] Friday’s spacewalk a medium fits better.”

      Obviously, if survival is at stake, feeling like the suit is too big isn't high on your list of worries compared with being able to breathe.

    2. Each Astronaut has a 'space suit' for travelling within a capsule to and from the space station. Those are the orange ones you see the astronauts wearing to the launchpad and when they're in the stupid Russian capsule.

      The 'space suits' they are talking about are the heavy-duty super suits used for EVAs. Big white ones, with extra pieces parts like the backback and heavy duty helmet. Those are actually 'made' from a collection of torsos, helmets, arms, gloves, legs and such in order to fit the astronaut. Having a too-large space suit makes the suit not cool or heat correctly, and affects the ability of the EVA suit to move.

      Stupid media did not differentiate between 'space suit' and 'EVA suit.' Apparently, neither did the braintrust at NASA.

  5. The International FAKE station.

    1. And the Earth is flat, the moon landings occurred in a movie set, the Apollo 1 astronauts still live, Area 51 houses the aliens from Roswell who helped create integrated circuits etc.

      Dude. Quit watching the History Channel... Seriously... Put the remote down and back away from the tinfoil dispenser...

      Yikes. Some people's kids...

      Sorry, Sir, but we were having a fun discussion of true things and some 'meh conspiraseee' person...