Friday, November 18, 2022

Small Space News Roundup

As we do on other slow news days. 

It'll be hard impossible to keep track of the latest Chinese space junk to see if it's going to hit near you. The Chinese government confirmed that the upper stage of a Long March 6A rocket launched on Saturday, November 12, broke apart instead of reentering harmlessly as it was intended to.  

According to the US Space Force, the Long March 6A rocket was between 500 to 700km (310 to 435 miles) from Earth when it disintegrated into more than 50 fragments.

The 500km orbit is used by thousands of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites while the International Space Station and China’s Tiangong space station operate at slightly lower altitudes.

“As far as we know, the relevant incident will not affect the Chinese space station or the International Space Station,” Mao said, without providing any further detail.

I'm sure that it's purely coincidental that the altitude is where thousands of Starlink satellites operate.

Chinese military researchers have been urging the government to develop capabilities to destroy the Starlink satellite network, believing it could pose a threat to China’s national security, a concern that has increased significantly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

One proposed method is to generate space debris in a specific orbit, setting off a chain of collisions to bring down a large network.

Purely coincidental.  Not a test of any sort.  It's expected that the debris orbits will decay and eventually reenter the atmosphere over the next few years, but the Chinese Space Station and the ISS are both in somewhat lower orbits so the pieces descending through their altitude has to add to the risk of a space junk impact.  It's a small risk, but it seems hard to believe it's not being thought about.  

Remember the Japanese Hakuto R-M1 mission SpaceX was reported to being ready to launch this month?    In that linked article the launch date was reported as being targeted as “sometime between November 9th and 15th.”  Oops.  Fast forward two weeks.  

On the 17the, ispace, the Japanese company developing the satellite and the mission said 

TOKYO—November 17, 2022— ispace, inc., a global lunar exploration company, plans to launch its Mission 1 (M1) lunar lander, part of the HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program, on Nov. 28, 2022, at the earliest, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Founder & CEO Takeshi Hakamada announced today at a press conference in Tokyo.

Launch time is stated as 3:26 AM EST on Monday the 28th from SLC-40.  The company has big ambitions. 

M1 is considered a technology demonstration with an overall objective to validate the lander’s design and technology, as well as ispace’s business model to provide reliable lunar transportation and data services. For M1, ispace has set 10 milestones between launch and landing, and aims to achieve the success criteria established for each of these milestones. Recognizing the possibility of an anomaly during the mission, the results will be weighed and evaluated against the criteria and incorporated into future missions, supporting the company’s evolution of sustainable technology and its business models.

The accumulated data and experience from M1 will be incorporated into future designs and operations to enhance missions, beginning immediately with Mission 2, which is already in the development stage and is scheduled for 2024. As a private corporation, ispace’s business model calls for continuous, short cycles of technology development to increase capability and reliability in order to usher in an era of full-scale commercialization of the space industry. This model will incorporate knowledge from both missions into Mission 3 (M3) planned for 2025. M3 will contribute to NASA’s Artemis Program under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program with a mature lander design and operations based on data and experience acquired during the first two missions.

A US-based subsidiary, ispace technologies, is part of the team led by Draper, which was awarded a NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program contract to land on the far side of the Moon by 2025.


  1. Here's hoping Hakuto makes it! ILspace is also going back to the moon soon, lets hope it has its radar altimeter problems fixed.

    Gettin' crowded up there on the moon's surface! The first or subsequent Colonists will probably have quite a bit of salvaging to do!

  2. P.S. - I'm sure GEODSS is keeping a good watch/track on the Chinese's attempt to have Starlink satellites brought down passively...
    (I used to work there)

  3. Everything the Chinese do in space is controlled by the Chinese PLA and has a military basis. It baffles me why the US courts Chinese students for study in Americas Ivy League schools and these students are permitted access to sensitive technology and designs. Every Chinese student and Chinese American are under the control of the PLA. Hell, the USG has allowed Chinese Police to build outposts in the US. Where the hell is the outrage by both Congress and the American People ?

    1. Firebombing a Chinese Police outpost is called for - it's our patriotic duty.
      All enemies, Foreign and Domestic, don'cha know!!