Issue No. 89

We queued up this email ahead of the US election and without knowing the results, and so it’s unsurprisingly a short one. We’re a bit preoccupied with other things at the moment.

The Orbital Index

Issue No. 89 | Nov 4, 2020

🚀 🌍 🛰

Re-featuring our Features. It’s been a while since we highlighted some of our non-newsletter features:

ISS has hosted us for 20 years. The most valuable human-built structure has now been consecutively inhabited for two decades. During this stint, the station has orbited the earth almost 117,000 times with humans aboard, hosted 240+ astronauts from 19 countries, supported bacteria in the vacuum of space, facilitated an immense amount of science (here’s a small sample), and played a key role in the development of many terrestrial technologies. It is likely to have a lifespan through much of the next decade, but with some modules eventually needing to be retired, and NASA/Roscosmos really wanting to get out of the space station game, the remaining modules may become the core of a future free-flying commercial station. Twenty years is a long time to be occupied, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the station’s computer gains sentience and revolts any time now.

The ISS in its configuration upon the arrival of Expedition 1 and today.


If Andromeda’s halo were visible, it would be about three times the size of the Big Dipper.

News in brief. Rocket Lab’s 15th mission, and 5th this year, entitled ‘In Focus’, delivered satellites for Planet and Canon Electronics 📺—Electron is second only to the Falcon 9 for the (kind of) US launch vehicle with the most flights this year; OSIRIS-REx successfully stowed it’s 60+ gram sample of asteroid Bennu; three more Chinese military Yaogan-30 remote sensing satellites launched on a Long March 2C; and, Perseverance is halfway through its trip to Mars, with 235.4 million km behind it and the same to go.



By the hilarious Nathan W. Pyle.

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