¶How to get involved. Over the last 41 issues, we’ve tried to highlight opportunities for our readers to get involved with space. Here are some of our favorites from those issues, with a few new ones mixed in as well.
- For a few hundred bucks and some DIY, you can build a ground station and join the global SatNOGS network, allowing your station to support real space missions.
- Want to learn about Cosmology? An excellent and free online course is Astrophysics: Cosmology, taught by Paul Francis and Brian Schmidt from the Australian National University. Brian Schmidt won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 for leading one of the teams that discovered the accelerating expansion of the Universe. Their whole Astrophysics series on edX is excellent.
- What about Planetary Science? Mike Brown’s free The Science of the Solar System Coursera course is fantastic. (And maybe he’ll even find Planet 9 sometime soon…)
- Buy an RTL-SDR and receive satellite images or listen to the ghostly wails of decommissioned satellites. Related: NOAA-15, a now-redundant weather satellite that has survived 10x longer than designed, is slowly failing and amateurs with SDRs are watching it happen. Also related: using RTL-SDRs to identify meteor trails.
- Use our very own Awesome Space directory of free space-related resources to build something new or find and perform your own analysis of public space data. For example, check out Kevin M. Gill’s Flickr page for strikingly reprocessed space photos, many based on NASA’s JunoCam’s raw data. Similarly, Jacint Roger makes discoveries in public planetary mission archives, the latest of which is a small, temporary 4-meter wide moon that orbited Comet 67P, dubbed ‘Churymoon’. And, last week, the final resting place of the Vikram lander was found by an engineer from Chennai.
- Set up your own sky camera and join the American Meteor Society volunteer network (cf. Issue 35).
- If you’re a student, consider applying for internships from NASA, ESA, SpaceX, ULA, and others.
- Want to dive into small satellite engineering? Andrew found the book Low Earth Orbit Satellite Design by Sebestyen by G., Fujikawa, S., Galassi, N., Chuchra, A. to be a thorough and reasonably approachable overview. See also our “So you want to build a CubeSat?” feature and the completely free and open-source satellite operating system KubOS, built by Andrew’s employer.
- Start a company! Applications for the PARSEC Earth observation accelerator are currently open in the EU (and close in 10 days!). Astropreneurs Accelerator also provides assistance to European space-related startups, including access to space data and mentorship on funding and business development. In the US, consider the new Founder Institute accelerator or TechStars and Starburst’s space-focused accelerator program, or other options such as NASA SBIR grants or Space Angels funding.
- And finally, definitely join your local space-related meetups/groups to meet startups and enthusiasts. For example, the Bay Area has Space in the Bay, Software for Space (our first meeting is Jan 21st!), and Silicon Valley Space Startups & Satellites; Seattle has Space Entrepreneurs; and, NYC has NewSpace NYC.
| ¶The CRS-19 launch. Andrew had the privilege of joining the friendly folks at NASASocial to watch the SpaceX CRS-19 ISS resupply mission launch last Thursday from the Kennedy Space Center (official video, or see Andrew’s low-quality iPhone video and stay for the saturating engine rumble from 3.2 km away). This mission included a 6 hr upper stage coast phase—a "thermal demonstration" for an unknown (likely military) customer—and so a longer first-stage burn was required and the booster landed on Of Course I Still Love You instead of returning to KSC (much to Andrew’s disappointment). The twice-flown Dragon docked with the ISS Harmony module on Sunday, delivering 2,585 kg of cargo including RiTS, a "robot hotel" to protect tools for Dextre from the space environment outside the ISS; two RELL units that detect ammonia coolant leaks (already tested) that will live at the RiTS; a group of “mighty mice”—genetically engineered mice that lack the muscle-inhibiting protein myostatin—with the goal of developing drugs that promote muscle growth for astronauts and patients; the student-built 1U CubeSat AztechSat-1 from Mexico to test communication with the Globalstar network; the Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) that can look for minerals and biologic processes through many spectral bands; a CubeSat with a cork-based heatshield and titanium and silicon carbide exterior, designed to survive atmospheric reentry (but not landing); the Confined Combustion experiment to explore the physics of fire by removing gravity as a factor; and, because ‘the ISS is now open for business’, an experiment from Budweiser to study the malting process of barley in space 🍻. Also seen while at KSC: Blue Origin’s New Glenn assembly high bay under construction (they’re busy expanding in Seattle and LA too), historic Pad 39B with the mobile launcher for SLS (check out those pipes for the water deluge sound suppression system!); Starliner upright on its Atlas 5 launch vehicle for testing ahead of a Dec 20th launch, an Orion capsule boilerplate for crane-testing, and the vehicle-ready SLS assembly high bay in the VAB.|
| ¶News in brief. SpaceX is dropping development of the Mk1 and Mk2 Starship prototypes to focus on Mk3, with Florida development paused and some of that team moving to help in Boca Chica; a Soyuz launched an unmanned Progress supply craft to the ISS which docked successfully (yes, that’s two ISS resupply launches in one week); Rocket Lab’s 10th Electron vehicle, dubbed Running Out Of Fingers, launched on Dec 6th, carrying 7 satellites (including a 75 kg satellite that will create artificial meteor showers by burning up pellets in the upper atmosphere), with the booster successfully reporting telemetry all the way back to the surface, an initial step in their reusability plans; China launched two Kuaizhou rockets in 6 hours from mobile launchers; NASA unveiled the completed Artemis Core Stage with a ‘Go SLS!’ by Bridenstine (for $800 m - $1.6 bn per launch) shortly after engineers purposefully ruptured its test hydrogen tank during an over pressure test (>260% of rated pressure); and, interstellar comet 2I/Borisov made its closest approach to the Sun on Dec 8th.|