Issue No. 173

The Orbital Index

Issue No. 173 | Jun 22, 2022

🚀 🌍 🛰

SpaceX in the news.  

The Falcon 9 carrying a Globalstar-15 FM15 communications satellite... and undisclosed secondary defense payloads launched from Cape Canaveral. Photo credit: Julia Bergeron.

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Type I Civilization by 2371? In 1964, Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev categorized civilizations into three types based on their ability to capture and use energy (paper). Type I civilizations can capture the energy received by an entire planet (~1017 Watts for Earth), Type II civilizations are able to capture the energy output of a single star (Sol generates ~4 × 1026 W), and Type III civilizations capture energy equivalent to their local galaxy (ours is ~5 × 1036 W). Carl Sagan adapted the Kardashev scale to be continuous and calculated that we were a Type 0.7 civilization in 1973—more recently that’s been updated to 0.73. You can, of course, use other scales for measuring human development, such as the UN Human Development Index (education, life expectancy, and per capita income), Sagan’s own Information Mastery (although Earth’s data production appears to be growing significantly faster than Sagan hypothesized), the Global Peace Index, and sadly, historic global atmospheric carbon levels. A new analysis takes the Kardashev scale and estimates when our planet might actually reach the Type I milestone (paper), while controlling for continued avoidance of the great filter (given current trends, perhaps this is a species’s ability to drastically alter the climate of its home planet). Taking into account fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy production, along with limitations from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (as opposed to the largely unsustainable energy consumption growth of the past 200 years) the authors estimate that we’ll consume an Earth-worth of energy sometime around 2371. What about Type II? It’s all incredibly speculative, but we might harvest energy using Dyson spheres, and later black hole accretion discs and jets, and/or matter-antimatter annihilation. “As an approximation to the more familiar, it can be estimated that to obtain 1×1026 W [Type II], the water mass contained in approximately 14,700 typical backyard swimming pools, typically 20,000 gallons each, would need to be annihilated every second, assuming 100% efficiency in converting mass to captured energy.” 💧💥

(Short) Papers.

XKCD #2569

News in brief. With the ISS back on track for Russian support through 2024, Rogozin is now directing his threats towards forcibly taking over control of eROSITA, the German x-ray telescope aboard Spektr-RG ESA broke ground on a new deep-space antenna to support ongoing exploration missions—their fourth in Australia With OFT-2 out of the way, new crewmembers have been assigned to the upcoming Starliner CFT-1 Momentus’ first Vigoride tug mission, launched on Transporter 5, is struggling, with solar array and comms failures, and only two of the nine customer satellites onboard having been deployed ESA and NASA are collaborating on Lunar Pathfinder, with a NASA CLPS mission in ~2025 scheduled to launch the lunar farside communications satellite for ESA—the beginning of its Moonlight lunar communications network Artemis I’s fourth WDR attempt aborted at T-29 seconds on Monday due to a LH2 leak in the boosters quick disconnect—second stage testing was completed on Tuesday Now dependent on SpaceX for launch and likely mutually fearful of Project Kuiper, OneWeb and Starlink have stopped their bickering over spectrum  Cygnus aborted it first ISS reboost test this week, shutting down engines just 5 seconds into a 5+ minute burn—a next attempt is planned for the 25th Before that, the docked Progress 81 capsule had to boost the station to avoid a piece of debris generated by recent Russian ASAT testing that could have come within 0.8 km South Korea successfully launched its Nuri rocket with several satellites Stratolaunch’s enormous Roc hypersonic-launch-test-platform climbed to its highest altitude yet, 8,200 m, on its seventh test flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port (landing video). 🛫🛫🛬🛬


Stratolaunch’s Roc on its record breaking flight.



Detailed in a recent paper, Perseverance caught some of the most intense dust activity ever witnessed on Mars—hundreds of dust devils and the first video of wind gusts lifting a Martian dust cloud. Below is a video of dust devils in Jezero Crater taken on July 20, 2021. The unusual quantity of dust devils at Jezero may be due to the roughness of the crater’s surface, making it easier for wind to lift dust.

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