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25 November 2008

On Orbit XIV

In this episode of On Orbit we have Space Based Solar Power (SPSP), Great Britain's lunar probe, a status update on the Dawn probe, SpaceX at it again,

In the Space Review, we have the 1st argument for SBSP that I have seen coming from the military side of things. Pakistan can and has closed access to the nearest port, Karachi, to American forces and can do so at any time. Coalition troops fighting in Afghanistan are dependent on over-land convoys from Karachi for supplies. With SBSP, isolated areas like Afghanistan, Diego Garcia and innumerable land locked countries can have independent access to electrical power. There are some detractors though and they bring up good points.

MoonLITE, is the next lunar probe in the the pipeline. The 100 million pound (pound sterling, not pound weight) probe is set to investigate the cause of the mysterious moonquakes.

JPL's Dawn spacecraft shut down its ion propulsion system as scheduled. The spacecraft is now gliding toward a Mars flyby in February of next year. "Dawn has completed the thrusting it needs to use Mars for a gravity assist to help get us to Vesta," said Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Dawn will now coast in its orbit around the sun for the next half a year before we again fire up the ion propulsion system to continue our journey to the asteroid belt."

SpaceX is showing off yet again, by completing a full mission-length firing of the Falcon 9's 1st stage. It was a static test and it lasted 178 seconds.

As an added bonus, we have a couple NASA related articles by Alan Stern - NASA's Black Hole Budgets and Imagine Reconnecting NASA.

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