IEEE Spectrum published a fantastic collection of stories and features on the current trend of Moon missions. I’ve had a hard copy in my office that I’ve been reading over the past week or so, and it’s a great read for you, the super enthusiast, or your non-space-obsessed friends.
Just three days ago on the podcast I said that given the momentum we’re seeing, soon enough people would start asking why NASA wasn’t involved with Blue Moon and Starship. Now they don’t have to ask.
Back in February, in what I thought was a fantastic all around announcement, ABL upped their payload, dropped their price, and moved to their own engines. And now they’ve got some additional funding via Lockheed Martin for what’s next.
Caleb Henry, for SpaceNews, on an FCC proposal that I like the sound of and will be keeping my eye on.
Eric Berger over at Ars Technica with his typical great insight from interesting sources.
The big problem is that it’s painful to get established at Vandenberg because of the environment the state has created there. Head to Cape Canaveral, and Space Florida will actively throw money your way. Head to Vandenberg, and you better watch where you step.
If the tips I picked up previously about Firefly using Intuitive Machines’ lander were accurate, this is a curious change. The Beresheet-derived lander is probably quite a few years out, though, as the mockups show it stacked on top of a Firefly Beta and it needs that kind of lift to get to the Moon.
There hasn’t been much info released about the drop test, but apparently it went well. There still are a few issues to iron out, mostly surrounding the payload environment before it drops off the plane’s wing. Turns out planes vibrate a lot.
I’m glad that Virgin Galactic and Branson walked away from the funding from Saudi Arabia, but this route still has some oddities—a merger to get investment, going public not by going public themselves, but by merging with an already-publicly traded company, and so on.
Sandra Erwin published an enlightening interview with Matt Donovan, Acting Air Force Secretary, where he shares his thoughts on the Space Force debate publicly for the first time. It’s a notable interview because he was the undersecretary of the Air Force for the past two years, yet we heard nothing from him through that time.
It’s a long list, and I don’t see any specific flight assignments yet, but there are a few payloads of note in here.
Boy, is that inexpensive. IXPE is just a few hundred kilograms and is going to a 0° inclination orbit, so Falcon 9 could fit a bit more payload aboard, but not much. I’m going to guess that it will fly solo, and take the title away from FORMOSAT 5 for lightest payload flown by Falcon 9.
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If you’re into quirky space history, Dwayne Day wrote an incredible article for The Space Review this week on a NASA/NRO collaboration that never saw the light of day, nor was known about until now.
Of note to me is that Firefly’s Alpha with its new Orbital Transfer Vehicle can carry a single small-end Saturn bus or just about two Astranis satellites all the way to geostationary orbit on its own.