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Space exploration and development saves the planet and avoids human extinction

Next Wek, January 22, 2022,  Here are 10 reasons why space exploration benefits Earh, https://thenextweb.com/news/10-ways-space-exploration-benefits-earth-syndicationSpace exploration benefits Earth and everyone living on it in ways most people never expect

Space exploration is the grandest endeavor the human race has ever undertaken. Reaching out beyond the planetary cradle on which we evolved represents the next logical step in the evolution of the human race. In the words of Gene Roddenberry, space truly is “the final frontier.” It is certainly tempting to think of exploration as coming at a tremendous financial cost. There are also many pressing needs right here at home, which must be addressed. Perhaps surprisingly for some, the best hope we have to solve many of our challenges here on Earth is to venture beyond the confines of the planet we call home. Water is essential to life, and large populations are unable to access clean water for drinking or cooking, spreading disease and infections. Cheap, easy-to-use water filtration systems now being distributed to people worldwide were developed from NASA’s need to filter water in space. Our food is now significantly safer, thanks to NASA. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point concept developed by Pillsbury for NASA, kept contamination off food being packed into spacecraft. Now, the FDA uses these same techniques to keep dangerous microorganisms out of food before it is ever shipped to the store for purchase. Heart disease can now be treated by implantable heart aids that act as miniature defibrillators, thanks to the pure research of space exploration. Keyhole surgery, devised to perform surgery in space, allows surgeons to work within bodies while watching on a video screen, using just small incisions. Robots and artificial intelligence now being developed for the International Space Station and the return of humans to the Moon promises to further technology here at home, aiding those with physical challenges, reducing car accidents, and aiding in disaster relief. These benefits come from a surprisingly small investment in space exploration. A significant portion of the population has little to no idea how much money is invested in science and technology, leading many people to conclude (or believe) that funding is much higher than real-life budgets reveal. In some ways, space agencies are a victim of their own success. When looking at the results of magnificent missions, it is tempting to believe the exploration of space comes with a tremendous financial burden. Yet, actual budgets are far from that misguided notion. NASA receives less than one-half of one percent of the Federal budget, and just one-quarter of this goes to planetary science. The entire budget for NASA — roughly 20 billion dollars a year — is roughly equivalent to the amount of money Americans spend on vegan meat substitutes or Halloween costumes. Talking with NYT contributing science journalist David W. Brown, discussing space exploration, NASA, budgets, and exploring the water world of Europa! Video credit: The Cosmic Companion Fossil fuel subsides around the world reached $5.9 trillion in 2020, according to The International Monetary Fund (IMF). That same year, governments around the globe spent about $82.5 billion on space exploration. Just these subsidies to the fossil fuel industry alone represent more than 70 times the investment nations make to space exploration and research. “To stabilise global temperatures we must urgently move away from fossil fuels instead of adding fuel to the fire. It’s critical that governments stop propping up an industry that is in decline, and look to accelerate the low-carbon energy transition, and our future, instead,” said Mike Coffin, senior analyst at the thinktank Carbon Tracker. Solar cell and insulating technology developed for spacecraft and future human existence beyond our home world might be adapted for use here at home, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. But — what about billionaires going to space? Richard Branson invested a little over a billion dollars developing Virgin Galactic over 17 years. Let’s assume he had been taxed on every dollar of that (he wouldn’t have been). Assuming every dollar was taxable (it wouldn’t have been), and his accountants didn’t hide a penny (they would have), and every bit of it was taxed at 37 percent — the highest rate possible under current laws (it wouldn’t have been). Now — one billion dollars, taxed at 37 percent (the top marginal tax rate), means tax revenue to the Federal Government of 370 million dollars. With roughly 330 million people in the U.S., this maximum lost tax revenue works out to about $1.10 per American. And, since that amount was spread out over 17 years, the math crunches out to less than six-and-a-half cents per American, per year. People could, literally, donate 10 cents a year to a good cause and more than make up for what Blue Origin cost the U.S. in lost tax revenue. Of course, Elon Musk, through SpaceX, has invested far more in technology than any other private space endeavor. However, SpaceX is also highly successful, bold and daring, regularly flying to the International Space Station, an essential step to the Moon and beyond. Seen to its fruition, the vision of Elon Musk will see humans become a fully interplanetary species in just a new decades. The long-term survival of the human race will no longer be held hostage by short-sighted leaders and failed economic policies.

Famed astronomer, science popularizer, (and my childhood idol), Carl Sagan spent much of his time rallying and educating the world against the greatest existential crisis of his day — nuclear proliferation. (More on nuclear war later, don’t worry). When The British Interplanetary Society and a team of physicists including Freeman Dyson conceptualized a way to bring us to the stars using the same nuclear weapons that threatened our existence, Sagan responded with “Personally, the Orion Starship is the best use of nuclear weapons I can think of.” Under our far-from-perfect tax laws, perhaps the development of private spaceflight by the well-to-do may be one of the best uses they could make of enormous wealth. Soon, it may be that space exploration benefits Earth by funneling funds from the ultrawealthy into scientific projects that benefit all — something our current tax system should do but doesn’t. We don’t yet know what benefits will come from public or private spaceflight, but even the limited forays of government-funded programs show oceans of knowledge and new technologies await us. Space exploration benefits humanity to a far greater degree than the ultrawealthy buying an island or spending capital on stock buybacks. Accompanying Bezos on his suborbital flight on 20 July were both the youngest and oldest persons yet to fly beyond the confines of Earth. One, Wally Funk, had trained for spaceflight since the days of the Mercury program in the early 1960s. Funk was one of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs), popularly known as the Mercury 13 — a group of women who, in the early 1960s, undertook training to become astronauts. Unfortunately, none of these women flew to space at that time, despite several passing all the Mercury-era tests they undertook. While the USSR launched Valentina Tereshkova to space in 1963, highly-qualified women in the United States remained grounded on Earth — a snub which took decades to rectify. Today, however, NASA and its associated organizations are champions of diversity and inclusion. “Although both Cobb and Cochran made separate appeals for years afterward to restart a women’s astronaut testing project, the U.S. civil space agency did not select any female astronaut candidates until the 1978 class of Space Shuttle astronauts. Astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983 on STS-7, and Eileen Collins was the first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle during STS-63 in 1995. Collins also became the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission during STS-93 in 1999,” NASA officials write. Today, women and people of color regularly fly beyond the confines of Earth. And now, the 82-year-old Funk has finally touched space, showing that seniors (and women) can do anything they set their minds to doing. Accompanying her was 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, the youngest person ever to fly to space. He was there on a paid ticket, but as young people experience space, youth worldwide will see people like themselves journeying beyond Earth, inspiring children and teens to lives of science. Funk’s record was short-lived, however, when 90-year-old William Shatner embarked on his own 11-minute star trek on 13 October 2021 (seeing… surprisingly few… THINGS… on the… WING!). Space exploration shatters long-standing barriers, bringing us all closer to our own final frontier. Number Seven — Fixing Climate Problems — Water You Waiting for? Human beings can live just a few minutes without adequate oxygen. However, during the “successful failure” of Apollo 13, NASA engineers had an even more pressing problem on their hands — a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air (sound familiar?). In order for large numbers of people to live in space, it will be necessary to design systems capable of removing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of space stations and planetary outposts. Much of the same technology which goes into cleaning air aboard these stations can be repurposed to reducing damage to our atmosphere here on Earth. Even if we stopped putting carbon into the atmosphere tomorrow, climatic changes would continue to get worse for decades. The atmosphere and oceans are slow to respond. One of the best hopes we have to reverse climate change is to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere of Earth. Technology for space exploration offers some of the best ways we have to develop the means of carrying out that monumental task. A worldwide battle against climate change will require constant monitoring of weather, climatic trends, and large-scale events affecting local regions such as volcanic eruptions. This data to understand and mitigate climate change can only be collected by satellites above our home planet. Modern human civilization is dependent on energy. Moving away from fossil fuels means the replacing energy with renewable sources. Solar cell technology has made significant advances over the last few years, and this technology can be advanced by exploring space. Clean water may seem free and plentiful in the United States and Europe, but this is not the case in much of the world. In fact, over the coming decades, global warming could even result in the complete loss of fresh potable water in southern Florida. Access to fresh drinking water is already driving large migrations of immigrants away from their homes around the world, and this loss of water could soon become a leading cause of wars in the coming decades. In 2016, India experienced significant unrest due to water shortages, and similar demonstrations recently took place in Iran. “In 2017 alone, water was a major factor in conflict in at least 45 countries, including Syria. Its importance as a resource means that water-related insecurity can easily exacerbate tensions and friction within and between countries. It can be weaponized; nefarious actors can gain control of, destroy, or redirect access to water to meet their objectives by targeting infrastructure and supplies. Advancements in cyber attacks on critical infrastructure raise further concerns as to the security of water systems,” the World Economic Forum reports. Today, researchers designing water systems for spaceflights and our first homes on other worlds are developing revolutionary systems to clean and process water, as well as to grow crops in ground that would otherwise be devoid of life. The easiest way to stave off coming damage, including wars, is to stop them in from happening in the first place. It will be a lot simpler — and less expensive — to design next-generation water filtration and delivery systems than it would be to move everyone out of southern Florida and deal with the consequences of wars around the globe.

Today, several nations and other interests are developing missions to place human and robotic beings at the south pole of the Moon, where water might be found in deposits of long-frozen ice. Everywhere we send humans into space, we will need to produce, filter, clean, and recycle this life-sustaining resource. That future technology needed to carry out this task has the potential to revolutionize how we support life on Earth. Number Six — Truths, Half-Truths, and the Internet In an age where we are presented with more information, delivered faster than ever before, it is more important than ever that everyone have the tools of science to separate fact from convenient fiction. When the National Science Foundation (NSF) was founded in 1950, the organization opened astronomical observatories nationwide. This excitement about science, combined with lowered financial barriers to higher education, sent large numbers of additional students nationwide to school, driving the development of Apollo, the Space Shuttle, and the Hubble Space Telescope. One of the great opportunities we have as a global society in the 2020’s is the ability to listen to so many people and news organizations online (We are your favorite, you say? Why, thank you!). However, with great wealth of sources, comes great responsibility (We still miss you, Stan!). Readers and viewers are faced with finding high-quality reporting among an endless morass of less-than-reliable sources. (We are your most-trusted source for news about space exploration and astronomy? Why, you are just too kind!). Developing and encouraging space exploration directly feeds science education, providing a pathway for talented scientists to obtain an education. Scientific training provides tools to weigh evidence and see through falsehoods. Living in the 21st Century — and beyond — requires a populace who focus on realistic news reports and learn to separate grains of truth from the chaff of ratings-building faff. Science provides the best set of tools available to inoculate our populace against the dangers of pseudoscience and mendacity. From the early days of Mercury and the Moon landing, through the flight of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, space exploration excites people, bringing us together as a species, and encouraging the most-curious among us to study the Cosmos around us. Number Five — Science Supports Families and Communities The James Webb Space Telescope is one of the most-expensive scientific endeavors in history, comparable only to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. This project cost roughly 10 billion dollars over 24 years — around 420 million dollars a year. Europe and Canada, together, contributed an additional billion dollars to the construction of this revolutionary instrument. This amount of money may seem enormous, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to other Federal expenditures. “To quantify this, in the same 2003–2026 period that NASA will spend $9.7 billion on Webb, the United States government will spend, in total, approximately $101 trillion. The James Webb Space Telescope accounts for a mere 0.0095% of all U.S. spending during this period — the equivalent of setting aside a single penny out of a 100 dollars to answer fundamental questions about our cosmos.,” The Planetary Society reports. And, this money did not just appear as pile of cash which quickly disappeared from an airport tarmac. The money spent on Webb, and other projects like it, largely goes to supporting thousands of good-paying jobs, feeding local communities and families around the nation. “The project’s new $9.7 billion life-cycle cost estimate is principally driven by the schedule extension, which requires keeping the contractor’s workforce to complete integration and test longer than expected. Specifically, the project determined that almost all of the hardware had been delivered and the remaining cost was predominantly the cost for the workforce necessary to complete and test the observatory,” the Government Accounting Office reported. Around 1,000 full-time job equivalents were supported in 2018, and following launch, around 300 full-time job equivalents of employment will be generated through 2026 by Webb alone. “At the end of the day, all of the money spent for space is spent on Earth, primarily on our best and brightest engineers, technicians, and scientists, challenging them to solve the most vexing problems. It is an investment in our collective mind trust, seeding creativity and expertise for our future,” states Casey Drier, Senior Space Policy Adviser at The Planetary Society, tells The Cosmic Companion. Number Four — Answering the Greatest Question Ever Asked Roughly 250,000 years ago — a thousand centuries before the last Ice Age began, ancient people (modern humans, sans the phones) sat on the African plains, gazing skyward at the sparkling lights shining against the dark backdrop of space. Some, the more curious of the bunch, may have wondered what these lights were, how far away they lay, and — possibly — if those beacons were distant campfires. Perhaps a few dared to suggest these fires might be encircled by other unknown people, asking themselves the very same questions. Today, we might stand at the precipice of answering that ancient question — are we alone in the Universe? Dr. Stefanie Milam of Goddard Space Flight Center talks about her work with the James Webb Space Telescope, and how this instrument might find life on other worlds. Video credit: The Cosmic Companion The James Webb Space Telescope will soon have the ability to study the atmospheres of alien planets in unprecedented detail. These studies could reveal the telltale traces of life on other worlds for the first time. Such a discovery, although far short of a close encounter of the third kind, would announce that we are not alone in the Universe. This revelation will herald a new age of our understanding of the Cosmos, our world, and each other. Number Three: Space Exploration Could Lead to the End of Nations Moving out into the Cosmos will likely mean the end of nations, driving the end of conflicts between the old countries of Earth. Image credit: Gerd Altmann / Pixabay Toward the end of the most recent Ice Age, humans formed into patrilineal clans — small groups of ancient people led by their local dominant male. This early experiment of isolating into groups led by those most willing and able to fight and subjugate others did not end well. The clans battled their neighbors in deadly clashes worldwide which left a large fraction of the human race dead. Over the course of a few centuries, nearly all the human males around the world had wiped themselves out. It was not until the human race was 94 percent female that fighting died down enough for human culture to survive. This event is seen today as the Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck revealed in our human genes. With the possible exception of the Hatfield/McCoy feud of the late 19th Century, our recent history has been largely devoid of such familial conflict. Civilization later progressed through the era of city-states and villages, which in turn went to war with each other (Ancient Athens and Sparta, I’m looking in your direction…). Such city-states (and their attendant wars) were later absorbed into the roles of nations, and empires. Today, nations frequently battle each other, with varying degrees of transparency and fanfare. Blind devotion to a nation, government, or demagogue can stir a population into foisting war on another group of people. In addition to direct costs associated with war, homeless, despair, and mass migrations of populations frequently take their toll on diverse populations. Most of the space stations and habitations of the future will be developed, built, and maintained by international consortiums, along with private interests. Populations might soon be living in homes on the Moon 3D-printed by China, breathing fresh air from American air filtration systems, drinking water from water recycling devices from Russia, travelling in craft designed by European engineers, and receiving supplies from Indian or Arab supply vehicles. To whom will they owe their allegiance? Suppose you were born in space, never having visited Earth. Is a border skirmish on a distant world going to mean anything at all to you or your peers? ONLY spaceflight has the potential to end the ultimate source of our current problem — rampant nationalism. Space exploration could finally make nations obsolete. Earth faces a wide range of the threats, both natural and humanmade. Asteroids or comets could pummel our planet at any time, a lesson the dinosaurs learned the hard way. (That pun rocked!). Other natural disasters could also wreak havoc around the globe. The Yellowstone supervolcano last erupted 70,000 years ago, and a similar occurrence today would cause widespread destruction over a vast region.  “Those parts of the surrounding states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming that are closest to Yellowstone would be affected by pyroclastic flows, while other places in the United States would be impacted by falling ash…Such eruptions usually form calderas, broad volcanic depressions created as the ground surface collapses as a result of withdrawal of partially molten rock (magma) below,” the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) describes. Changes to the environment after such a disaster could last decades. Additionally, the Yellowstone Supervolcano is not alone in its destructive power. “Volcanoes that have produced exceedingly voluminous pyroclastic eruptions and formed large calderas in the past 2 million years include Yellowstone, Long Valley in eastern California, Toba in Indonesia, and Taupo in New Zealand. Other ‘supervolcanoes’ would likely include the large caldera volcanoes of Japan, Indonesia, Alaska (e.g. Aniakchak, Emmons, Fisher), and other areas,” the USGS reports. Earth has seen extinctions before, and if dinosaurs had developed a space program, life on this planet may have been far different. (We humans will soon be testing our first systems to deflect asteroids before they can become threats to our world). In addition to natural disasters, our species is not held hostage to the vagrancies of political leaders filled with more bravado than empathy. Fueled by jingoistic nationalism, a rogue leader (or worse, leaders) could easily march our species onto a fiery demise in a blaze of thousands of nuclear fireballs. A failure to adapt to other global challenges facing our species — including global climate change — could also endanger civilization on this planet through increased extreme weather events, the loss of biodiversity, or geological changes forced by human activity. Permanent human habitations in space are our ONLY hope of protecting the future of our species from destruction from nuclear war or other cataclysms sparked by unstable leaders or a fickle Cosmos. Number One: The Overview Effect Going to space changes most people forever, as they see our world as it truely is — without national borders, a home for all of humanity. Since the earliest days of human spaceflight, those fortunate enough to journey beyond the reach of Earth’s atmosphere are often overcome by a sense of the interconnectedness of life, and the fragility of our delicate ecosystem. Since 1987, this shift in perspective has had a name — The overview effect. “[I]t’s really hard to convey it, because all you have is words. And part of it is seeing the Earth itself. Part of it is seeing the Earth against the backdrop of the universe… You also, you’re actually seeing the universe for the first time in a way that no human has seen it. You’re also moving around the Earth frequently. Time changes. You realize time is very Earth-bound, the way we think about it,” Space philosopher and author Frank White, author of The Overview Effect, states. Words, images, even video fail to convey the majestic paradigm shift that accompanies the overview effect. There is only one way to impart this feeling onto others. “I suppose one of the most important insights was that if we want people to understand the overview effect in a way that will lead to changes in their behavior, we have to have them experience it. Now, it’s like Zen Buddhism. If you know anything about Zen Buddhism, every Zen master will say, Zen is beyond words…” White continues. Perhaps, once enough people (particularly world leaders) experience the overview effect, seeing our fragile atmosphere from above, and the land spread out before them devoid of national borders, the world could become a far different place. We stand at the precipice of moving beyond the need for nations, ensuring our species is protected from any planet-wide disaster, and we may finally answer some of the greatest questions of human existence. We can educate masses, develop multiple novel means of reversing global climate change, and extend equality and opportunity to traditionally underserved communities.

Future of the space station depends on the private sector

Christian Davenport, 1-21, 22, NASA Looks to Private Sector for Successor to the International Space Station, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/nasa-looks-private-sector-successor-international-space-station

For more than 20 years, the ISS has served as a continuously inhabited foothold in low Earth orbit, a way for space agencies around the world to study how humans live off the Earth for extended periods. A total of 19 countries have sent astronauts there, binding them into an international consortium that has transcended politics and the geopolitical tensions that have roiled relationships on Earth. To build the ISS, the United States and Russia combined forces with Canada, Japan and the European Union. The program has been such a profound tool of diplomacy, as well as science and engineering, that many in the space community think it should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At the very least, they think the life of the ISS should be extended. And late last year, the White House backed NASA’s plan to keep the ISS operating to 2030. But it’s not clear that that the station will last that long. In recent years, it has sprung a series of leaks and has been rattled by errant thruster firings that have sent it spinning wildly. Despite its incredible durability, it cannot survive in the harsh vacuum of space forever. The extreme hot and cold temperatures take their toll. So do the bits of micrometeorite debris that the space station dodges a few times a year and occasionally gets hit. At some point, it will reach the end of its life, and NASA and its partners will be forced to coordinate its demise by deorbiting it to Earth and crashing it into the ocean. Knowing that day may soon come, NASA is racing to find its successor. But the space agency won’t be building it. After investing billions of dollars into the ISS, NASA cannot afford to build another space station in Earth orbit, especially as it is embarking on an effort to return humans to the moon, under a program called Artemis. Instead, it is looking to the private sector to develop next-generation habitats that would be owned and operated by the companies, not NASA. The space agency has recently taken the first major steps in that direction, reaching an agreement with Axiom Space, a Houston-based company that has hired Starck, to send a module of its space station to attach to the ISS as a test bed as soon as 2024. Late last year, NASA awarded contracts to develop commercial space stations, worth $415.6 million combined, to Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Nanoracks, which helps companies fly science experiments and other payloads to the ISS, and Northrop Grumman, the longtime defense contractor. The contracts are yet another sign that NASA is willing to place enormous bets on the growing commercial space industry, which has been eroding governments’ long-held monopoly on space activity. Driven by the investments and ambitions of the so-called “space barons,” Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, who have invested heavily into their space ventures, the industry has taken off. Musk’s SpaceX in particular has demonstrated the commercial ventures can be successful and help bolster NASA. For years SpaceX has flown cargo and supplies for the space agency to the ISS. NASA has expanded that public-private partnership, allowing SpaceX to fly its most precious resources—its astronauts—to the space station as well. The company also recently won a $3 billion contract to develop the spacecraft that would ferry astronauts to and from the surface of the moon. NASA is now extending this relatively new model to space stations, hoping the private sector can take on an even greater task—building destinations in space—that presents a host of even greater challenges. And it comes as some are warning that unless NASA and its partners can build the stations quickly, it could be faced with the ignominious prospect of the ISS retiring before its successor is ready. That would leave the United States with nowhere to send its astronauts, a problem exacerbated by the fact that China has started to build a station of its own. “I think it would be a tragedy if, after all of this time and all of this effort, we were to abandon low Earth orbit and cede that territory,” former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told a Senate panel in 2020. The cost of a new space station is enormous. And so are the technical and engineering hurdles. Keeping people alive and healthy in space requires enormous vigilance: making sure they have enough to eat and drink; that they get along and don’t kill each other; that they don’t get hit by a micrometeorite; that they can communicate reliably to people on the ground; that they can handle sickness or injury on their own; or repair any number of problems for extended periods. It is such a daunting task that it’s something of a miracle that after more than two decades there has not been any major incidents on the ISS. Whether the private sector can build commercial stations and operate them safely, then, remains to be seen. And if it can’t do that before the ISS finally reaches the end of its life, NASA would have a gap that would be even more severe than the period after the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011 with no alternative to launch its astronauts from United States soil. Instead, Russia flew NASA’ astronauts to the ISS, and charged a hefty price for the service, nearly $90 million a seat, before SpaceX restored human spaceflight for NASA in 2020. “ISS won’t last forever & incentivizing the private sector to begin follow-on capabilities are needed now,” Lori Garver, who served as NASA deputy administrator in the Obama administration, warned on Twitter in 2020. “This concept isn’t hard. Have we learned nothing in the last 10 years?” On the outside, Axiom’s station may look like the ISS, with solar arrays, docking ports, but the inside would be a world apart from the government-funded station. It would feature the “largest window observatory every constructed for space,” the company says. And unlike the at-times clunky and cluttered ISS, designed purely for function and astronaut survival, Axiom’s station would have the attributes of a hotel, a touch of Starck’s style and eye toward comfort mixed in. “We want the customers to have this great, comfortable, luxurious feel,” Michael Suffredini, Axiom’s co-founder, told The Washington Post. “We’re even looking at how we cook food on orbit…to make the food a little more tasty.” Blue Origin’s station, called Orbital Reef, would also have large windows, and the initial configuration would be expansive, about 90 percent of the interior volume of the ISS, with room for nearly a dozen astronauts. And it would have the ability to grow over time, as more modules get added. The station “will provide anyone with the opportunity to establish their own address on orbit,” Blue Origin says. The company has teamed up with a host of aerospace giants—Sierra Space, Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering and Arizona State University—that would have the station ready by the second half of the decade. Bezos has moved slowly and steadily into the space business, his passion since he was five years old and watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon. That, as he has said, was a “seminal moment” for him, that inspired him to found the company—“blue” for the “pale blue dot” that is Earth, “origin” for where humanity began—more than 20 years ago. Bezos has said his space venture is “the most important work I’m doing.” Recently it has flown a series of people to the edge of space and back on suborbital tourist jaunts, allowing paying customers a few minutes of weightlessness and views from more than 60 miles high. The company is also building a massive rocket called New Glenn, that could reach orbit, and spacecraft that would land astronauts on the moon But it has even more ambitious goals; Bezos says he wants “millions of people living and working in space.” In the long-term, hundreds of years from now, Bezos envisions massive space stations large enough to hold entire cities, even mountain ranges, plucked from the pages of science fiction. These stations would house thousands of people at once with climate conditions controlled by humans. “These are really pleasant places to live,” Bezos said in 2019, during a speech in Washington. “This is Maui on its best day all year long. No rain. No storms. No earthquakes.” That dream is a long way away and may never be realized. In the meantime, the company is partnering with Colorado-based Sierra Space to build the Orbital Reef space station. Calling it “a mixed use business park in space,” the companies say it would provide “a vibrant, growing business ecosystem in low Earth orbit that will generate new discoveries, new products, new forms of entertainment and global awareness of Earth’s fragility and interconnectedness.” One of the key components of the station are habitation modules that inflate like balloons once they reach orbit. Instead of fixed structures, these habitats can be packed into the nose cone of a rocket and then expand in space, allowing them to be transported to orbit in a single launch. Nanoracks also plans to use inflatable modules on its station, called Starlab. Built in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, Starlab would feature a laboratory, named for George Washington Carver, the famous scientist, where companies and countries could conduct experiments. NASA would be one of the key customers for the commercial stations. But the companies believe there will be a strong demand from others as well that would support multiple private space stations. Countries with growing space ambitions, like India and the United Arab Emirates, could be looking for a destination for their astronauts. There are companies that would want to do research in space. Entertainment could also become a revenue source. Last year, Yulia Peresild, a Russian actress and film producer, Klim Shipenko, flew to the ISS to film scenes for a movie called, “The Challenge.” Peresild plays a doctor hoping to save the life of a crew member in space. NASA has also said it is working with Tom Cruise to shoot scenes for a movie on the ISS. Commercial space stations could change what it means to be an astronaut and who gets to become one. The companies think there would be a high demand for private citizens to go to space. Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have already sold dozens of tickets on their suborbital spacecraft. Blue Origin even auctioned off one seat for $28 million to a crypto entrepreneur. SpaceX flew a crew of four private citizens in orbit around Earth for three days last year in its Dragon spacecraft. While it’s developing its space station, Axiom Space it working with a number of private citizens to go to the ISS on flights chartered by the company on a SpaceX rocket. The first flight, scheduled for February, would take three wealthy businessmen, who are paying $55 million each, for about a week on the station. They’d be accompanied by Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut, who now serves as an Axiom vice president. The company is planning another private-astronaut mission, scheduled for later in the year, with Peggy Whitson, the decorated former NASA astronaut who was the first female commander of the ISS, to serve as the guide. In the 200s, Russia flew a number of private citizens to the space station for the price of about $20 million each. Until recently, though, the practice was prohibited by NASA, which feared they would interfere with the astronauts. The policy was changed, though in 2019, in an effort to boost the commercialization of space. “This is the very beginning,” Jeffrey Manber, CEO of Nanoracks, said. “We’re going to enter the next decade, where you have multiple private space stations in a robust public-private partnership with NASA.” Perhaps. But space is hard, and failure is as much a part of the history of exploration as triumph. Even behemoths such as Boeing have struggled. While SpaceX has successfully launched several astronaut crews to the ISS for NASA, Boeing has yet to have a successful flight of the capsule it is developing for the same purpose. On its first flight, a test without any astronauts on board in December 2019, the autonomous Starliner capsule ran into trouble shortly after it reached orbit. Its on-board computer was 11 hours off, making it think it was in an entirely different point in the mission. Then another software problem could have caused a collision as the service module separated from the crew capsule. Boeing had to cut the mission short and bring the capsule back without docking with the ISS, one of its primary objectives. The redo of the uncrewed test flight last year didn’t even get off the ground. While it was preparing to launch, officials noticed that several valves in the service module were stuck. Now, that flight may not happen until at least May, and the first flight with astronauts onboard may not come until the end of the year at the earliest, which would be several years behind schedule. Given that track record, it is not clear that the commercial space industry is up to the more daunting task of building and operating space stations. Space is rough. There are thousands of bits of debris whirling around in orbit at 17,500 m.p.h. so that even a small piece can cause catastrophic damage. From time to time, the ISS has to maneuver to avoid getting hit, and sometimes it does. In 2016, a piece of debris cracked a window. Then last year a piece hit the station’s robotic arm, leaving a small puncture, like a bullet hole. Russia last year added to the dangerous clutter in space when it fired a missile and blew up a dead satellite as target practice. It was seen as a warning to the United States and others that it could take out key satellites in orbit. But it caused a massive cloud of debris that threatened the ISS, and forced the astronauts, including two Russian cosmonauts, to seek shelter. The crew out on their spacesuits, boarded their spacecraft and waited for the worst. If debris hit the station, the astronauts were ready to abandon it for home. Last summer, the ISS was taken on a wild ride when the thrusters of a newly installed Russian module started firing by mistake. It spun the ISS one and a half times, leaving it upside down before crews could get it back to its normal orientation. The astronauts were never in danger, NASA said, but a flight director in Houston said that he was thrilled that the solar arrays didn’t snap off. There are less dramatic mishaps as well. After more than 20 years in orbit, things break, even the toilet. The batteries need to be replaced. Every once in a while, the ISS springs a leak, like the one recently that was so small the astronauts had a hard time finding it. They were able to isolate it to the Russian segment of the station, where an enterprising astronaut opened a bag of tea and watched how the leaves floated to a barely perceptible hole. While the partners on the ISS are working to keep it going, the Chinese are building a brand new station. Last year, it launched the first of three modules and intends to complete it by the end of 2022. Called Tiangong, or “Heavenly Palace,” the station would be home to three astronauts, and China plans to keep it in operation for a decade. It is part of a broader space program that included the first landing of a robot on the far side of the moon in 2019. Last year, it became only the second nation, after the United States, to land and operate a rover on Mars. Viewing China as a threat, the Trump administration took a very hawkish tone when talking about its space ambitions. In a speech calling for NASA to send astronauts back to the moon, former Vice President Pence warned that China was trying “to seize the lunar strategic high ground and become the world’s spacefaring nation.” While it has sought to dismantle virtually every remnant of Trump’s legacy, the Biden White House has embraced its tough stance against China. Bill Nelson, who serves as the NASA administrator for the Biden administration, has called China “a very aggressive competitor” that is challenging American leadership. And he recently warned: “Watch the Chinese.” The intent of such talk may be political. Compared to other agencies, NASA’s budget is tiny—less than one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget. Over the next few years, much of it will be tied up in its “Artemis” program to return astronauts to the moon, leaving little for space station development.

Record space investment now

Michael Sheetz, 1-18, 22, Investment in space companies hit record $14.5 billion in 2021, report says, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/18/space-investing-q4-report-companies-hit-record-14point5-billion-in-2021.html

Private investment in space companies last year set a record, according to a report Tuesday by New York-based firm Space Capital. Space infrastructure companies received $14.5 billion of private investment in 2021, a new annual record that was up more than 50% from 2020. That includes a record-setting fourth quarter, which brought in $4.3 billion thanks to “mega-rounds” of $250 million or more by Sierra Space, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Planet Labs. The quarterly Space Capital report divides investment in the industry into three technology categories: infrastructure, distribution and application. Infrastructure includes what would be commonly considered as space companies, such as firms that build rockets and satellites. In total, Space Capital tracks 1,694 companies which have raised $252.9 billion in cumulative global equity investments since 2012 across the three space categories. “As we look ahead, we see tremendous opportunities to scale mass adoption of the existing infrastructure as we look for radically new approaches to build and operate space-based assets,” Space Capital managing partner Chad Anderson wrote in the report. The report also highlighted record investment by venture capital firms across the three categories. Space-related companies received $17.1 billion in venture capital last year, which the report said made up 3% of total global venture capital investment in 20221. Space Capital also highlighted the changing market environment for the flurry of newly-public space companies, as rising interest rates are hitting technology and growth stocks hard — especially companies where profitability is years away, as is the case with several space ventures. “The public markets have started the year with a selloff and, if it continues, venture firms may not find it as easy to raise record-setting funds as they did last year,” Anderson wrote. Anderson gave further warning that “not all SPACs are created equal,” saying that “much of the momentum we saw in 2021 came at the cost of deep diligence, which increases the risk for investors.” “It’s important for investors to realize that investment in the space economy requires specialist expertise. We believe this will become more apparent in 2022 as some of these overvalued companies come back down to Earth and the quality companies rise above,” Anderson said.

Multiple causes of mass extinction to prevent it

Aaron Reich, 1-17, 21, Jerasuem Post, Sixth mass extinction event in progress – and it’s humanity’s fault – study, https://www.jpost.com/science/article-692709?_ga=2.15677941.2110114982.1641705897-1705651145.1641705897

Earth is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event, this time caused by human hands, a new study suggests. The five previous ones were caused by natural phenomena, either due to natural climate shifts or asteroid impacts. This sixth one, however, was anything but natural, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Biological Reviews. The current extinction event is not even a new phenomenon, but has been going on since at least the 16th century. Earth was once home to two million known species. According to the study, however, since 1500 CE, as many as 7.5%-13% of them may have been lost, meaning from 150,000 to 260,000 different species. Some deny this is happening. Or, more precisely, they deny that decline or outright extinction of many species point to a mass extinction event. But the study, led by the University of Hawaii’s Prof. Robert Cowie, argues that this is the result of bias. Most of these assessments focus on mammals and birds, the research professor said, completely overlooking invertebrates, the majority of biodiversity on Earth. The severity of the situation varies. Specifically, plant life is impacted at a slower rate, and land-based species – specifically on islands like Hawaii – are much more affected than on continents. Is the loss of species a natural phenomenon? “Humans are the only species capable of manipulating the biosphere on a large scale,” Cowie emphasized in a statement. “We are not just another species evolving in the face of external influences. In contrast, we are the only species that has a conscious choice regarding our future and that of Earth’s biodiversity.” This is especially problematic because if humanity is causing the crisis, we’re also the only ones who can solve it – and we’re not very good at that. Conservation efforts are possible in theory and have been used successfully for some species. But only certain ones are helped, while the overall trend seems impossible to reverse. The political will to fight the problem is lacking, Cowie claims. And if people continue to deny that a sixth mass extinction event is even occurring, the situation will only get worse. “Denying the crisis, accepting it without reacting, or even encouraging it constitutes an abrogation of humanity’s common responsibility and paves the way for Earth to continue on its sad trajectory towards the Sixth Mass Extinction,” he warned. Elon Musk weighs in on mass extinction Cowie isn’t the only one who recognizes the problem, though others may have a very different approach to both the nature of the problem and its solution. According to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, in direct response to a tweet about Cowie’s study, it is inevitable that all life on Earth will go extinct – regardless of the mass extinction event being done by human hands. Rather than humans being the cause, though, he points to a crisis of a very different nature: The expansion of the Sun. But this can also be averted, he argued, should humanity spread throughout the stars and become a multi-planetary civilization. Musk has proposed this many times before, specifically colonizing Mars, and has made clear his ambitions through ventures of his company SpaceX. But Musk isn’t alone in thinking that spreading humanity to other planets is a possible solution. According to Israeli-American astronomer Avi Loeb of Harvard University, a possible light sail vessel could one day be used as a “Noah’s ark” of sorts to save life on Earth. This, he argued, is important, because mankind has already “spent a considerable amount of money into destroying the planet.” His idea would be different from Musk’s colonization one, however. “It doesn’t need to be a big spacecraft – it just needs to have an artificial intelligence, a large enough computer with the DNA of every living creature and a 3D printer,” Loeb said. “We will know, hopefully in the next few decades, how to reconstruct synthetic life, and with a 3D printer we could possibly do it. “With a computer, 3D printer and AI, we could reconstruct everything.”

Multiple causes of mass extinction to prevent it

Aaron Reich, 1-17, 21, Jerusalem Post, Sixth mass extinction event in progress – and it’s humanity’s fault – study, https://www.jpost.com/science/article-692709?_ga=2.15677941.2110114982.1641705897-1705651145.1641705897

Earth is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event, this time caused by human hands, a new study suggests. The five previous ones were caused by natural phenomena, either due to natural climate shifts or asteroid impacts. This sixth one, however, was anything but natural, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Biological Reviews. The current extinction event is not even a new phenomenon, but has been going on since at least the 16th century. Earth was once home to two million known species. According to the study, however, since 1500 CE, as many as 7.5%-13% of them may have been lost, meaning from 150,000 to 260,000 different species. Some deny this is happening. Or, more precisely, they deny that decline or outright extinction of many species point to a mass extinction event. But the study, led by the University of Hawaii’s Prof. Robert Cowie, argues that this is the result of bias. Most of these assessments focus on mammals and birds, the research professor said, completely overlooking invertebrates, the majority of biodiversity on Earth. The severity of the situation varies. Specifically, plant life is impacted at a slower rate, and land-based species – specifically on islands like Hawaii – are much more affected than on continents. Is the loss of species a natural phenomenon? “Humans are the only species capable of manipulating the biosphere on a large scale,” Cowie emphasized in a statement. “We are not just another species evolving in the face of external influences. In contrast, we are the only species that has a conscious choice regarding our future and that of Earth’s biodiversity.” This is especially problematic because if humanity is causing the crisis, we’re also the only ones who can solve it – and we’re not very good at that. Conservation efforts are possible in theory and have been used successfully for some species. But only certain ones are helped, while the overall trend seems impossible to reverse. The political will to fight the problem is lacking, Cowie claims. And if people continue to deny that a sixth mass extinction event is even occurring, the situation will only get worse. “Denying the crisis, accepting it without reacting, or even encouraging it constitutes an abrogation of humanity’s common responsibility and paves the way for Earth to continue on its sad trajectory towards the Sixth Mass Extinction,” he warned. Elon Musk weighs in on mass extinction Cowie isn’t the only one who recognizes the problem, though others may have a very different approach to both the nature of the problem and its solution. According to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, in direct response to a tweet about Cowie’s study, it is inevitable that all life on Earth will go extinct – regardless of the mass extinction event being done by human hands. Rather than humans being the cause, though, he points to a crisis of a very different nature: The expansion of the Sun. But this can also be averted, he argued, should humanity spread throughout the stars and become a multi-planetary civilization. Musk has proposed this many times before, specifically colonizing Mars, and has made clear his ambitions through ventures of his company SpaceX. But Musk isn’t alone in thinking that spreading humanity to other planets is a possible solution. According to Israeli-American astronomer Avi Loeb of Harvard University, a possible light sail vessel could one day be used as a “Noah’s ark” of sorts to save life on Earth. This, he argued, is important, because mankind has already “spent a considerable amount of money into destroying the planet.” His idea would be different from Musk’s colonization one, however. “It doesn’t need to be a big spacecraft – it just needs to have an artificial intelligence, a large enough computer with the DNA of every living creature and a 3D printer,” Loeb said. “We will know, hopefully in the next few decades, how to reconstruct synthetic life, and with a 3D printer we could possibly do it. “With a computer, 3D printer and AI, we could reconstruct everything.”

The earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction that is being driven by human activities

Robert Cowie et al, 2022, Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96822 U.S.A., Biological Reviews, The Sixth Mass Extinction: fact, fiction or speculation?, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/brv.12816

There have been five Mass Extinction events in the history of Earth’s biodiversity, all caused by dramatic but natural phenomena. It has been claimed that the Sixth Mass Extinction may be underway, this time caused entirely by humans. Although considerable evidence indicates that there is a biodiversity crisis of increasing extinctions and plummeting abundances, some do not accept that this amounts to a Sixth Mass Extinction. Often, they use the IUCN Red List to support their stance, arguing that the rate of species loss does not differ from the background rate. However, the Red List is heavily biased: almost all birds and mammals but only a minute fraction of invertebrates have been evaluated against conservation criteria. Incorporating estimates of the true number of invertebrate extinctions leads to the conclusion that the rate vastly exceeds the background rate and that we may indeed be witnessing the start of the Sixth Mass Extinction. As an example, we focus on molluscs, the second largest phylum in numbers of known species, and, extrapolating boldly, estimate that, since around AD 1500, possibly as many as 7.5–13% (150,000–260,000) of all ~2 million known species have already gone extinct, orders of magnitude greater than the 882 (0.04%) on the Red List. We review differences in extinction rates according to realms: marine species face significant threats but, although previous mass extinctions were largely defined by marine invertebrates, there is no evidence that the marine biota has reached the same crisis as the non-marine biota. Island species have suffered far greater rates than continental ones. Plants face similar conservation biases as do invertebrates, although there are hints they may have suffered lower extinction rates. There are also those who do not deny an extinction crisis but accept it as a new trajectory of evolution, because humans are part of the natural world; some even embrace it, with a desire to manipulate it for human benefit. We take issue with these stances. Humans are the only species able to manipulate the Earth on a grand scale, and they have allowed the current crisis to happen. Despite multiple conservation initiatives at various levels, most are not species oriented (certain charismatic vertebrates excepted) and specific actions to protect every living species individually are simply unfeasible because of the tyranny of numbers. As systematic biologists, we encourage the nurturing of the innate human appreciation of biodiversity, but we reaffirm the message that the biodiversity that makes our world so fascinating, beautiful and functional is vanishing unnoticed at an unprecedented rate. In the face of a mounting crisis, scientists must adopt the practices of preventive archaeology, and collect and document as many species as possible before they disappear. All this depends on reviving the venerable study of natural history and taxonomy. Denying the crisis, simply accepting it and doing nothing, or even embracing it for the ostensible benefit of humanity, are not appropriate options and pave the way for the Earth to continue on its sad trajectory towards a Sixth Mass Extinction. I. INTRODUCTION In her book The Sixth Extinction: an Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert (2014) presented the mounting evidence that the Earth is at the start of, or perhaps in the midst of, the sixth major episode of mass biodiversity extinction since life on Earth arose, the first such event to be caused entirely by humans. She is by no means the first to have drawn this conclusion (e.g. Diamond, 1987, 1989; Leakey & Lewin, 1995; Wake & Vredenburg, 2008) and it continues to be reiterated (e.g. Ceballos et al., 2015; McCallum, 2015; Régnier et al., 2015a; Plotnick, Smith & Lyons, 2016; Ceballos, Ehrlich & Dirzo, 2017; Cowie et al., 2017; Ceballos & Ehrlich, 2018; Dasgupta & Ehrlich, 2019; IPBES, 2019; Ceballos, Ehrlich & Raven, 2020). The evidence for a major biodiversity crisis appears overwhelming. Yet there are some who deny that such evidence really exists and consider that it has been exaggerated by conservation and biodiversity scientists to attract greater public and political attention to biodiversity loss and to enhance opportunities to obtain research grants (e.g. Lomborg, 2001; Briggs, 2014b, 2014c, 2016, 2017). Such denials made the headlines when the IPBES (2019) report was released (e.g. Platt, 2019); they continue to increase, as noted by Lees et al. (2020). Denial differs from scepticism (Jylhä, 2018; Washington, 2018). The latter is a genuine component of scientific research and discovery, questioning assumptions, results, interpretations and conclusions, until the weight of evidence supports one conclusion or another. Denial, on the other hand is plain disbelief in that weight of evidence. The notion of the Sixth Mass Extinction, or at least a major biodiversity crisis, faces both scepticism and denial, as does the notion of anthropogenic climate change (Jylhä, 2018; Washington, 2018), the fact of evolution (Ayala, 2008; Nieminen, Ryökäs & Mustonen, 2015; Hansson, 2017), the negative impacts of invasive species (Tassin, 2014; and see Ricciardi & Ryan, 2018a, 2018b), and many other aspects of science in general (Hansson, 2017; Rutjens, van der Linden & van der Lee, 2021). Scepticism and denial may be fuelled by media headlines over-dramatising dire short-term prognoses combined with exaggeration of perceived professional differences of opinion among scientists, regarding, for instance, analysis and interpretation of data (e.g. Leung et al., 2020) and the likelihood of insect ‘Armageddon’ (Leather, 2017; Desquilbet et al., 2020; Van Klink et al., 2020). Much of this denial of science is not published in reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals, and some may have political undertones, as was the case with the reaction of Republican officials in the USA after the release of the IPBES report in 2019 (Tobias, 2019). Two primary critiques have been levelled at those who claim we are at what may be a watershed point in the history of our planet. First is the claim that estimated extinction rates have been exaggerated and that the current extinction rate is not significantly greater than the natural background rate (e.g. Lomborg, 2001; Briggs, 2014b, 2014c, 2015, 2016, 2017). Second are the inter-related claims that any extinctions are offset by an equivalent or greater origination of newly evolved species, and that because humans are part of the natural world, human-caused extinctions are a natural phenomenon, a part of the evolutionary trajectory of life on Earth. This view has appeared in various forms in the popular press (e.g. Pyron, 2017), websites (e.g. Brand, 2015; Middleton, 2017) and the writings of some academic ecologists (e.g. Thomas, 2017). The consequence of this opinion is that we should embrace this new trajectory of evolution (Briggs, 2014b, 2014c, 2015, 2016, 2017). Thomas (2017) suggested that the rate of evolution, and therefore speciation, is now increasing in the face of change wrought by humans. Some acknowledge that although they consider there is no mass extinction, at least not yet, many species are becoming rarer or more localised, with an accompanying loss of genetic diversity, and that this is where we should focus our efforts, as rarity could have dire consequences for global ecosystems (e.g. Heywood & Stuart, 1992; Stork, 2010; Briggs, 2014a, 2014b, 2014c, 2015, 2017; Hull, Darroch & Erwin, 2015). Notably, increased rarity may result in functional extinction, which can drive further declines via coextinction (Dunn et al., 2009; Sellman, Säterberg & Ebenman, 2016). Increased rarity is undoubtedly true (Dirzo et al., 2014; Ceballos et al., 2017; Hallmann et al., 2017) but that does not mean that mass extinction is not also occurring. Does the current episode differ from previous mass extinctions? There have been a number of such episodes in the history of the Earth, with most authors accepting five substantial mass extinctions since the Cambrian (e.g. Sepkoski, 1996; Avise, Hubbell & Ayala, 2008; Barnosky et al., 2011; Harper, Hammarlund & Rasmussen, 2014). These have all been caused by a diversity of natural phenomena (Bond & Grasby, 2017) and have been defined, for instance by Barnosky et al. (2011), as events standing out from a steadier background rate of extinction in having extinction rates spiking higher than in any other geological interval of the last 540 million years and involving, somewhat arbitrarily, a loss of over 75% of estimated species. By contrast, the current high rate of extinction is being caused directly by humans. Alroy (2008, p. 11541) emphasised this difference succinctly in stating that “the numerous anthropogenic causes of today’s mass extinction are deeply unrelated to the known causes of earlier ones.” Indeed, while the current crisis is essentially a non-marine phenomenon, the previous events were mostly defined based on marine, largely invertebrate, fossils, although the end-Cretaceous event involved the demise of non-avian dinosaurs. Furthermore, various authors have arrived at as few as two or as many as 61 mass extinctions, as reviewed by Bambach (2006), who concluded there were 18 but that only three stood out from the continuum of surrounding extinction intensities, although many authors continue to accept the traditional five (e.g. Hull, 2015; Hull et al., 2020). Wiens, Sweet & Worsley (2020), while arguing philosophically that the terms ‘background extinction’ and ‘mass extinction’ are inappropriate because these phenomena are indeed the two extremes of a continuum, nonetheless acknowledged that the current crisis is qualitatively different because of its anthropogenic cause. Implicit in all the arguments denying the current crisis is that there is no need to worry, either because there is no such mass extinction event, or, as suggested hypothetically by Doug Erwin (as quoted by Brannen, 2017), if we really are in the midst of a mass extinction, then it is too late and there is no point in trying to do anything about it anyway (note that Erwin himself in fact seemed to believe that there is no mass extinction or that the process is only beginning, and that we may have a chance to prevent it if we figure out how). Along with numerous others, we take issue with these conclusions primarily for three reasons: (i) there is mounting evidence that the extinction rate is not normal; (ii) the exponential rise in the human population and in human impacts on the natural world are abnormally rapid; and crucially (iii) we are not just another species evolving in the face of external influences because we have conscious choice regarding our future and that of Earth’s biodiversity. Thus not only are we losing species at a greater than normal rate, but also the processes of evolution (speciation) cannot keep up with this loss (Barnosky et al., 2011; Ceballos & Ehrlich, 2018). We consider that the Sixth Mass Extinction has probably started and present arguments to counter those who would deny this. We will probably not convince those who consider this episode part of the natural evolution of life on Earth and therefore that it is acceptable to just let it happen, that is, that they are wrong. Nor will we convince those who think that it is too late to stop it and that we should therefore embrace it, that is, that they also are wrong. However, we hope that we will at least give pause to those who by denying or downplaying it play into the hands of those who advocate doing nothing about it, or those who, accepting it, advocate that we should do our best to manipulate biodiversity primarily if not solely for human, essentially economic, benefit. This latter view has been expressed to a greater or lesser extent by some prominent conservationists (Kareiva & Marvier, 2007, 2012; Kareiva, Lalasz & Marvier, 2011; Thomas, 2017) and has become a key feature of the ‘New Conservation’ or ‘Neoliberal Conservation’, although the paradigm has been strongly criticised, for example by Büscher et al. (2012), Soulé (2013) and Rolston (2018). II. DEFINING THE SIXTH MASS EXTINCTION If one considers a mass extinction event as a short period when at least 75% of species are lost (Barnosky et al., 2011), the current ongoing extinction crisis, whether labelled the ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ or not, has not yet occurred; it is “a potential event that may occur in the future” (MacLeod, 2014, p. 2). But the fact that it has not yet happened – which can only be asserted once it has happened – does not mean that it will not happen or is not in the process of happening. Indeed it could happen within just one or a few centuries if nothing is done to slow or stop the current rate of biodiversity loss (Barnosky et al., 2011). But it has surely begun (Thomas, 2017), and is being caused by human activities.

Space arms control historically fails

Weeden & Sampson, 1-14, 2022, Brian Weeden is the director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation, a private operating foundation that promotes cooperative solutions for space sustainability and the peaceful uses of outer space. Victoria Samson is the Washington office director for the Secure World Foundation, Scientific American, It’s Time for a Global Ban on Destructive Antisatellite Testing, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/its-time-for-a-global-ban-on-destructive-antisatellite-testing/

Between 1959 and 1995, the United States and Soviet Union conducted more than 50 antisatellite (ASAT) tests in space, in which a dozen weapons hit satellites, creating more than 1,200 pieces of trackable orbital debris. Although decades have passed, nearly 400 trackable pieces of that debris are still on orbit, not to mention many more still-dangerous pieces too small to be tracked with current systems. Since 2005, the United States, Russia, China, and India have conducted another 26 ASAT tests in space, five of which have destroyed satellites and created more than 5,300 pieces of trackable orbital debris that will remain in orbit for decades to come. The latest Russian venture is the first time in seven years of testing that the nation has attempted to use this weapon—a ground-based interceptor called Nudol or A-235—against an actual satellite as a target. And it happened at an altitude of approximately 480 kilometers; both the International Space Station and China’s Tiangong space station orbit at an altitude of around 400 kilometers. With this much possibility of calamity, it is unfortunate that policy makers have had such little success in trying to prevent such tests, let alone in addressing the broader issue of space weapons. The international community has been trying for decades to limit the development or use of space weapons, such as ASATs, through discussions of what has been called the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). PAROS has been an annual agenda item there since the 1980s; however, this item has become a pro forma vote with little actual resulting action. The other main multilateral body where one might expect to see negotiations on space arms control, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, has been bogged down in disagreement over what the real threat to space is. Russia, China and their allies argue that the focus should be on banning the placement of space-to-Earth weapons in orbit. The United States and its allies instead argue that threatening behavior in space—such as uncoordinated close approaches to another country’s satellite, or the deliberate creation of large amounts of debris—is what is destabilizing. Furthermore, the two sides are split over whether the steps taken should be a legally binding treaty or voluntary guidelines and political norms of behavior.

Private space development wrecks cyber security

Lospinoso, January 13, 2022, Josh Lospinoso is an ex-Army sergeant and Oxford-educated cybersecurity expert who is CEO and co-founder of Shift5, which protects planes, trains and tanks from cyber threats, Space race needs better cybersecurity, https://thehill.com/opinion/cybersecurity/589542-space-race-needs-better-cybersecurity

The rise in satellites, rockets and shuttles is creating an expanded attack surface. Just like transportation, energy, and other vital industries, space systems need protection. And while we probably won’t see civilians launching into space anytime soon, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are making such travel more feasible by the day. A proposed bill in the U.S. House of Representatives — the Space Infrastructure Act — would designate space as a critical infrastructure sector. It would be a good first step. Given how much equipment is in space and how dependent we are on it, it makes sense to classify it as critical infrastructure. There are more than 6,500 satellites in orbit; a record 1,283 launched in 2020 alone. They are integral to cellular communications, Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation, monitoring weather and climate, managing Internet of Things systems for agriculture, and keeping energy and other critical infrastructure running. And this infrastructure is disconcertingly fragile. Outages have widespread, cascading, and potentially catastrophic consequences. One disabled satellite can affect vast networks on earth, leaving regions without cellular and other services. This makes them attractive targets for malicious attackers. The risk is so great that the director of the Defense Department’s Space Development Agency has cited cyber attacks against satellites as a greater threat than missiles. The threat is not theoretical Attacks have been going on for many years and have recently ramped up. In 2018, hackers infected U.S. computers that control satellites. Iranian hacking groups tried to trick satellite companies into installing malware in 2019. And one report concluded that Russia has been hacking the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) and sending spoofed navigation data to thousands of ships, throwing them off course. While there haven’t been any public reports of direct hacks on satellites, vulnerabilities in ground stations have been exploited to try to alter satellite flight paths, among other aims. There are a number of ways satellites can be attacked. Hackers could compromise ground control systems to take control of space equipment remotely or inject malware into communications between terrestrial computers and satellites. They can spoof, or snoop on communications for espionage purposes, or disrupt signals. Imagine a weather data outage during a hurricane or data glitches that lead to power blackouts or supply chain delays. The economic costs would be vast. A cyber attack on the Global Positioning System alone could cost the U.S. $1 billion a day, according to Brian Scott, director of critical infrastructure cybersecurity for the National Security Council. Federal initiatives are a good starting point Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are taking notice of this fast-growing threat. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act established a new military branch — Space Force. Meanwhile, President Biden is reviewing the first comprehensive cybersecurity policy for space systems, dubbed Space Policy Directive 5. It requires capabilities to prevent jamming and spoofing of communications and unauthorized access of equipment in orbit. The Space Infrastructure Act, proposed by U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) this summer, is another key measure that would put space on par with other industries by classifying it as a critical infrastructure domain. This move would enable more private and public collaboration on cybersecurity for space assets. One critical infrastructure sector that has dealt with similar cybersecurity concerns is transportation. Transportation operators that have invested in IT security measures have taken first steps, but efforts are on the rise to bolster proactive risk management that demonstrate a more complete understanding of infrastructure security. Under DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the TSA has introduced regulations that urge operators to appoint a cybersecurity coordinator, report incidents to CISA within 24 hours, complete vulnerability assessments within information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems, and develop an incident response plan based on security issues discovered. Another critical infrastructure that has work to do is the U.S. military. The Government Accountability Office released reports in 2018 and 2021 chiding the DOD for the poor to non-existent cybersecurity protection on its most critical fleet assets, ranging from fighter jets to tanks to aircraft carriers. These systems were never designed with cybersecurity requirements. As these systems have become more networked and interconnected, the DOD has an enormous, latent problem on its hands that it’s only beginning to grapple with. Fix the technology gaps. Satellite systems were not designed with security in mind. They have weak encryption and use legacy systems that are not easily patched or updated. And some of the navigation protocols are broken — I’ve built systems that spoof some of those protocols and discovered that it’s pretty trivial to do so with a few thousand dollars of investment. Traditional IT security solutions don’t protect the OT layers that satellites rely on. These security lapses make satellites vulnerable to hacking. Learn from IT security. Securing space assets is achievable, especially if we lean on the decades of hard lessons in securing IT networks. These include basics such as setting best practices like understanding your assets and observing what’s happening there to help detect attacks. Vendors should harden the code running on space systems and use the principle of least privilege for accessing the systems. These same lessons have been applied to transportation OT systems successfully. It shouldn’t take as long to get there with space systems. Agree on standards. This includes establishing reasonable security measures and sharing threat information, as well as developing a common cybersecurity architecture. The U.S. is in the early stages of devising cybersecurity rules for other critical infrastructure — like freight and passenger rail systems — and should get started with space now too. Realign incentives. Vendors and customers need more motivation to adopt risk mitigation approaches. When critical infrastructure goes out of service, millions of people can be affected. The total economic loss from these outages is orders of magnitude higher than the expenses incurred by the infrastructure operator. For example, Colonial Pipeline paid a $6.5 million ransom to get their gas pipelines flowing again, but that pales in comparison to the net effect of millions of people on the eastern seaboard who couldn’t pump gas. After the attack, we saw efforts from the U.S. government to apply regulations regarding breach reporting for pipeline systems, and we’re seeing similar efforts in the transportation sector. Federal regulations and the risk of bottom-line impact compel most companies to improve cybersecurity practices — which would benefit space technology as well. With SpaceX, Amazon, and others launching new satellites weekly and commercial space travel on the horizon, the stakes will only get higher if we don’t work to secure these systems. Satellites aren’t just communication equipment; they are infrastructure we rely on to keep our hospitals open, streets lit, internet on, food delivered and emergency systems working. It’s time to make security for these systems a national priority before a disaster strikes.

Private space means space junk collapsing

Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Conten, January 13, 2022, As private satellites increase in number, what are the risks of the commercialization of space?, https://europeansting.com/2022/01/13/as-private-satellites-increase-in-number-what-are-the-risks-of-the-commercialization-of-space/

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum. Around 11,000 satellites already orbit the Earth, together with tons of space junk. Life on the planet increasingly depends on space technology. As the risk of collisions grows, is it time to think again about how we use – and govern – space? Read the Global Risks Report here. Space is getting more crowded and more commercialized. This is leading to a growing risk of collisions between satellites and space junk, and means that new regulations on the use of space are urgently needed. Those are some of the conclusions of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, which warns that if satellites fail, whether due to natural or human events, the consequences for life on Earth could be profound. Global navigation and communication systems are heavily dependent on space technology, the report says, but so too are energy and water supplies, financial infrastructure, broadband internet and television and radio services. Yet if a single piece of space junk strikes just one satellite, it could cause a cloud of debris that takes out many more and results in a “cascading effect” on critical services. That’s according to one theory, called the Kessler Effect. “With such possibilities becoming likelier in a congested space, the lack of updated international rules around space activity increases the risk of potential clashes,” the report says. Around 11,000 satellites have been launched since Sputnik 1 became the first human-made object to orbit the Earth in 1957, but almost seven times that number are planned to join them over the coming decades, the report notes. There are also an estimated half a million pieces of debris in orbit, presenting a growing threat to our use of space. A piece of space junk even hit the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2021, making a hole in a robotic arm. Only 3% of those surveyed for the Global Risks Report say that mitigation measures to prevent conflict in space are effective, while 59% think they are still at an early stage and 17% believe they have not even started. Space Innovation Tech for Good Emerging Technologies Technological Transformation Information Technology Davos Agenda 2022 WEF’s Global Risks Report highlighted the top 10 risks by severity. Image: WEF Global Risks Report 2022 Space regulation falling behind Since 1967, 110 countries have ratified the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, which bans the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space. But the report points out that space regulation has not kept pace with evolving technologies and new military threats. It says there is a “pressing need” for an international body to govern the launching and servicing of satellites, to establish space traffic control and provide common enforcement principles to back them up. The 1972 Space Liability Convention covers only spacecraft, but the report says that clarity is needed on how to deal with the likes of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic ships, which launch from a plane and use wings to help them land. Virgin Galactic is just one example of a growing trend towards private investment in space technology. Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets are already delivering satellites and supplies for government agencies such as NASA, including Christmas gifts to the ISS crew. Early space exploration was the exclusive province of governments. But the Global Risk Report says some governments “are encouraging private space activity to further national ‘territorial’ claims, or to foster the development of high-value jobs … as well as enhancing their military or defence-oriented presence”. In the United States, SpaceX’s Starship rocket has been selected to carry NASA astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis programme, which also aims to send humans to Mars. Starship will be the first US-manned lunar mission since Apollo 17 landed in December 1972. Increased private investment in space is also driving down the cost of launching satellites into orbit, says the report. Lower costs mean more organizations can launch smaller satellites, opening up the prospect of innovations such as space-based energy generation and even tourism.

Public sector just as capable of developing space

 

Dave Lindorff, July 13, 2022, Capitalism and the Profit-Motive Didn’t Create the James Webb Space Telescope, https://thiscantbehappening.net/t-wasnt-capitalism-and-the-profit-motive-that-created-the-james-webb-space-telescope/

We have two examples of economic systems and of individual scientific workers and business people doing what they do that offer a instructive illustrations of why the US is so screwed up, and why it doesn’t have to be that way. The first is the extraordinary new (if unfortunately named) James Webb telescope heading rapidly towards it’s parking orbit at the Lagrange point 2.2 where its telescope, reportedly 100 times more powerful than the already extraordinary orbiting Hubble telescope, will be able to show images of early galaxies formed only a short time after the Big Bang. That telescope, which has had to go through over 300 automated or remotely controlled steps — in order — to open up from its fetal position crammed inside the oversized faring of a European-built Ariane rocket — was designed and built by scientists and engineers working on salary and launched on a rocket designed and built by a multi-European government agency. That is to say, nobody involved was a capitalist. Okay, the prime contractor for the satellite telescope is Northrop Grumman but that company is a Pentagon arms contractor, and as such, is actually as much a state-capitalist enterprise as any state enterprise in China or Russia. Payments are all sole sources by the government — in this case NASA — and pricing is what the government says it will be. The whole process has gone flawlessly, aside fro the usual delays in such mega projects, right before our eyes, even though nobody except the top execs of Northrop Grumman is getting rich from any of it. If all continues to go well, we will soon be seeing the results: incredible discoveries about the beginning of time itself and the universe’s creation, as well as, eventually, actual images of planets orbiting stars in our portion of the Milky Way, with the added ability to “see” what kinds of atmospheres they have, and perhaps if we’re lucky, any evidence of trace gases that would suggest life on some of them. Now let’s look at the process of combatting the current Covid pandemic. Both the US and the British government relied on private companies to produce vaccines as well as testing kits in a hurry. Four companies — Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — delivered on the vaccines, though in Astra-Zeneca’s case, they tried to hide poor results in the rushed testing phase of their vaccine, not reporting on significant negative reactions some vaccine test recipients were experiencing. The other companies’ vaccines worked to varying extents (this author received the Moderna vaccine twice and a third time as a booster without a problem and has so far avoided getting Covid). But the rollout of these capitalist products has been a failure at ending the pandemic because they have all refused to release their patents to allow cheap generic vaccines to be mass produced by factories in countries like India and Brazil that have the facilities to do so and protect the bulk of humanity, preferring to reap the profits offered by selling their wares to the US government for distribution to just those countries willing to pay for the doses. The result of this greed is that most of the world is still unvaccinated, and is thus a massive breeding ground for ever more new variants of the original Covid 19 Sars-2 strain, which then come back to our shores able to dodge the new vaccines and reinfect us all. This is a good moment to point out that Cuba, one of the world’s few socialist countries, and one which has out of necessity developed a world-class bio-tech industry, all government-owned, has on its own, and in the face of a strangling US embargo on scientific equipment and supplies, developed not one but five different Covid vaccines. These vaccines, including a nasal vaccine, all tested in Cuba and Iran, have proven as good as US vaccines, and have been used to give Cuba one of the most vaccinated populations in the world, second only to the United Arab Emirates, with 90% of its people having received one dose of vaccine and 83% two doses. But Cuba is being prevented from making vastly more vaccine to provide to hard-hit and struggling Latin American countries by barring provision to the island nation of needed syringes and of the necessary adjuvants that extend shelf-life and improve the function of the anti-Covid sera. Fortunately the World Health Organization is close to approving some of them, which would probably free up some resources to overcome the unconscionable US blockade. It’s probably fair to ask at this point: If US scientists and engineers can produce a huge complex technological marvel like the Webb telescope all while working on a tight budgeted government project and on salary, why can’t ultra-capitalist super billionaire Elon Musk or the lucratively compensated execs at General Motors produce an electric car that doesn’t self-immolate like the Tesla parked in the driveway of a suburban home in my town of Maple Glen (the fire was so hot it destroyed the whole house along with the vehicle) or the Volts now being discontinued by GM because of their flawed and self-exploding battery systems? Our so-called political “leaders” in Congress and the White House, whether Republican or Democrat, keep spouting their blather about the supposed wonders of America’s “free-enterprise” system, the need to allow wealthy people to earn a profit for their “creative risk taking,” and the need to reduce “onerous” regulations on their operations all, supposedly, for the long-term good of society. Meanwhile, most American-made products are pure crap or if they work reasonable well, like Apple’s computers, are actually made outside the US in countries like China, by companies that are essentially state-owned with a patina of private shareholders. Maybe what it will take for brainwashed US citizens to wake up to the fact that we’re all being lied to about the marvels of capitalism and the “essential” need for minimal regulation on employers and low-to-zero taxes on corporations and the rich, will be for the “socialist” Webb telescope to discover an advanced socialist-type society thriving on some distant planet around a nearby star — a place where they aren’t destroying their planetary home by promoting the fantasy of endless growth, don’t have obscenely wealthy plutocrats owning more than half the assets of the planet, and where everyone gets along without countries, tribes, national borders, racial animosities, wars and mass killing. Maybe we Earthlings would be inspired then to try and achieve the same state of harmony, peace and respect for our environment here on Earth. Nah! Sad experience suggests it is more likely our leaders would immediately set themselves the task of figuring out a way to build an invasion force to conquer and enslave those wimpy do-gooder alien beings and steal their planet’s resources. Meanwhile, until we find such an alien society of alien socialists, enjoy the coming discoveries and wonders of the government-designed-and-built product of salaried US and European scientists and engineers, the Webb Telescope, and be sure to tell your bought-and-paid local Congressional delegation that you want the government to release the patents on all the taxpayer-funded private patents on Covid vaccines, and to stop blocking needed supplies to Cuba for mass production of their cheap and effective vaccines. In fact, tell them to end the over six-decade embargo on Cuba altogether while you’re at it.

Private space means space junk,  collapsing space exploration and the functioning of societ

Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Conten, January 13, 2022, As private satellites increase in number, what are the risks of the commercialization of space?, https://europeansting.com/2022/01/13/as-private-satellites-increase-in-number-what-are-the-risks-of-the-commercialization-of-space/

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum. Around 11,000 satellites already orbit the Earth, together with tons of space junk. Life on the planet increasingly depends on space technology. As the risk of collisions grows, is it time to think again about how we use – and govern – space? Read the Global Risks Report here. Space is getting more crowded and more commercialized. This is leading to a growing risk of collisions between satellites and space junk, and means that new regulations on the use of space are urgently needed. Those are some of the conclusions of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, which warns that if satellites fail, whether due to natural or human events, the consequences for life on Earth could be profound. Global navigation and communication systems are heavily dependent on space technology, the report says, but so too are energy and water supplies, financial infrastructure, broadband internet and television and radio services. Yet if a single piece of space junk strikes just one satellite, it could cause a cloud of debris that takes out many more and results in a “cascading effect” on critical services. That’s according to one theory, called the Kessler Effect. “With such possibilities becoming likelier in a congested space, the lack of updated international rules around space activity increases the risk of potential clashes,” the report says. Around 11,000 satellites have been launched since Sputnik 1 became the first human-made object to orbit the Earth in 1957, but almost seven times that number are planned to join them over the coming decades, the report notes. There are also an estimated half a million pieces of debris in orbit, presenting a growing threat to our use of space. A piece of space junk even hit the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2021, making a hole in a robotic arm. Only 3% of those surveyed for the Global Risks Report say that mitigation measures to prevent conflict in space are effective, while 59% think they are still at an early stage and 17% believe they have not even started. Space Innovation Tech for Good Emerging Technologies Technological Transformation Information Technology Davos Agenda 2022 WEF’s Global Risks Report highlighted the top 10 risks by severity. Image: WEF Global Risks Report 2022 Space regulation falling behind Since 1967, 110 countries have ratified the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, which bans the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space. But the report points out that space regulation has not kept pace with evolving technologies and new military threats. It says there is a “pressing need” for an international body to govern the launching and servicing of satellites, to establish space traffic control and provide common enforcement principles to back them up. The 1972 Space Liability Convention covers only spacecraft, but the report says that clarity is needed on how to deal with the likes of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic ships, which launch from a plane and use wings to help them land. Virgin Galactic is just one example of a growing trend towards private investment in space technology. Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets are already delivering satellites and supplies for government agencies such as NASA, including Christmas gifts to the ISS crew. Early space exploration was the exclusive province of governments. But the Global Risk Report says some governments “are encouraging private space activity to further national ‘territorial’ claims, or to foster the development of high-value jobs … as well as enhancing their military or defence-oriented presence”. In the United States, SpaceX’s Starship rocket has been selected to carry NASA astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis programme, which also aims to send humans to Mars. Starship will be the first US-manned lunar mission since Apollo 17 landed in December 1972. Increased private investment in space is also driving down the cost of launching satellites into orbit, says the report. Lower costs mean more organizations can launch smaller satellites, opening up the prospect of innovations such as space-based energy generation and even tourism.

Private space development wrecks cyber security, collapses the power grid

Private space development means terrorists can purchase their own ASATS and trigger conflict in space

Greenbaum, January 8, 2022, Prof. Dov Greenbaum is the director of the Zvi Meitar Institute for Legal Implications of Emerging Technologies at the Harry Radzyner Law School, at IDC Herzliya, Who is going to stop space terrorists? https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3926737,00.html

Space used to be the domain of nation states and so far, only the aforementioned four countries have demonstratable ASAT capabilities, but commercial actors are increasingly the dominant players and their technology can potentially be used for malicious intent by non-state actors. With plummeting costs, a terror group doesn’t even need to be that well financed to place a crude but effective ASAT threat in space. Small, customizable satellites can be purchased essentially off the shelf, and they can then be booked onto one of many charter flights, such as SpaceX Rideshare Program, for relatively reasonable costs. While there is national and international regulatory oversight to license, register and confirm the nature of these satellites, some companies have already evaded that oversight and successfully snuck into space without government authorization. “If it was possible for an American company to place in the orbit unlicensed satellites, it seems, that any other agent … could do the same.” Once in space, even these small satellites could be maneuvered to crash into other space crafts, directly creating havoc and damage and perhaps even setting off a chain reaction of destruction. While some of these terrorist threats described herein are less likely, others have been proven to work. And if the aim of terrorist organizations is to terrorize, causing any sort of harm in space, even if its only to smaller, less valuable, satellites, it is scary enough.

China developing its own independent space program

Associated Press, 1-6, 2022, ABC News, China plans space station completion, many launches in 2022, https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/china-plans-space-station-completion-launches-2022-82105663

Named Mengtian and Wentian, the science modules will join the Tianhe core module that is currently home to a three-person crew. The launch schedule shows how China’s traditionally cautious program is increasing the cadence of its missions as it seeks to take a leading role in space exploration. The U.S. expects around the same number of launches this year, after the pace slowed in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chains for crucial items such as computer chips were disrupted and liquid oxygen used as rocket fuel had to be diverted to hospitals to save patients. Among the most anticipated is the launch expected around March of the Space Launch System — a 1,010-meter- (332-foot-) tall rocket slated for future lunar missions. China’s military-run space program was barred from the International Space Station, mainly due to U.S. objections. Working largely on its own, China has pushed ahead with its Tiangong space station program, building and then abandoning two experimental stations before embarking on the latest iteration. The current six-month mission Shenzhou-13 by the crew aboard Tianhe is China’s longest since it first put a human in space in 2003, becoming only the third country to do so after Russia and the U.S. The crew has conducted a pair of spacewalks — including the first by a Chinese female astronaut — and carried out tests alongside the station’s robotic service arm, which on Thursday successfully undocked then redocked the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft for the first time. The three are the second crew on the permanent station, which upon completion will weigh about 66 tons, about a quarter the size of the ISS, which launched its first module in 1998 and weighs around 450 tons. China has also chalked up success with un-crewed missions, and its lunar exploration program generated media buzz last year when its Yutu 2 rover sent back pictures of what was described by some as a “mystery hut” but was most likely only a rock of some sort. The rover is the first to be placed on the little-explored far side of the moon. China’s Chang’e 5 probe returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s in December 2000 and another Chinese rover is searching for evidence of life on Mars. The program has also drawn controversy. In October, China’s Foreign Ministry brushed off a report that China had tested a hypersonic missile two months earlier, saying it had merely tested whether a new spacecraft could be reused. China is also reportedly developing a highly secretive space plane.

Moon is a stepping stone to Mars

Christian Science Monitor Editorial Board, January 6, 2022, Space 2022: To the moon – and beyond, https://news.yahoo.com/space-2022-moon-beyond-144002702.html

Those venturing into space in 2022 have the moon in their eyes. Not that ferrying all sorts of people into orbit and suborbit will be abandoned. 2021 saw not only astronauts and scientists but also several tourists sent skyward for unmatched views of the big, blue marble that is Earth. They were young and old, women and men, various nationalities – even William Shatner, never a real spaceship captain but who played one on TV. Why the moon? Haven’t humans been there already? About these ads The truth is it’s an important steppingstone. “Because the goal is Mars,” Bill Nelson, former U.S. senator and NASA’s new administrator, told The Guardian. “What we can do on the moon is learn how to exist and survive in that hostile environment and only be three or four days away from Earth before we venture out and are months and months from Earth.” .In 2022 Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea will join the United States in sending uncrewed missions to the lunar surface or into orbit around it. The Japanese lander will contain a rover built in the United Arab Emirates. China has big ambitions in space too, but right now they’re centered closer to Earth. An orbiting Chinese space station, Tiangong, may be finished and become fully operational this year, according to a U.S. intelligence report. With so much new activity planned in orbital space, by both governments and private enterprise, a need grows to update the 1967 Outer Space Treaty to maintain cooperation. A United Nations resolution passed last November calls for a working group to research new agreements. It will meet twice in 2022. The purely scientific effort to understand just what’s out there goes on as well. The European Space Agency plans a 2022 launch of an uncrewed probe to explore the moons of Jupiter, a journey that will take nearly eight years. Christmas Day saw the James Webb Space Telescope flung into space. So far it has flawlessly completed a number of critical steps needed to make it operational later this year. “This is unbelievable. We are now at a point where we’re about 600,000 miles from Earth, and we actually have a telescope,” said Bill Ochs, the project’s manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. An impressive piece of technology, it will give humanity its best look ever at deep space.

Space must be regulated by governments or the developing world and the rest of humanity will not get access

Nayar, January 5, 2022, Ranvir S. Nayar is managing editor of Media India Group, Eurasia Review, Space: It’s Getting Too Crowded Up There – OpEd, https://www.eurasiareview.com/05012022-space-its-getting-too-crowded-up-there-oped/

China last month lodged a protest at the UN, accusing American billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX of irresponsible and unsafe behavior in space and of twice forcing its Tiangong space station to take evasive action. Days earlier, it was the US that was complaining about a Russian military exercise that involved blowing up a satellite in orbit. Washington said that the debris created as a result of the explosion was spread over too large an area and included too many pieces large enough to harm other objects. SpaceX is one of the latest and most sizable entrants to the space business. It has launched 2,000 satellites to form a constellation that provides global coverage of communications, among other services. It has also launched missions into space and plans to eventually embark on a manned mission to the moon for the state-owned NASA. The fierce rival of SpaceX is Blue Origin, owned by another American billionaire, Jeff Bezos, which is also fighting to establish itself as the leader, at least in the US, in all things space. The list of private entrepreneurs aiming to carve out a piece of space for themselves, their companies or their customers is long and getting longer by the year, as more and more ambitious people from other nations join in. Meanwhile, some of the governments of small nations with deep pockets have set up their own space missions. While space is big enough, most of the interest right now is in a limited area close to Earth’s orbit, leading to overcrowding. There are already thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of satellites and debris from older satellites, rockets and other human-made objects circling the Earth. This belt around the Earth is certain to become even more cluttered, as hundreds of satellite launches are scheduled around the world over the next few years. Until now, space has always been about first come, first served or finders keepers, without any global regulation on how it will be utilized. Little wonder, then, that only rich or militarily and politically important countries have established a presence in space, with a vast majority of the 193 members of the UN having no role to play. Of the 3,372 active satellites as of Jan. 1, more than half — 1,897 — belong to the US, 412 to China, 197 to Russia and the rest are shared around the world. Meanwhile, of the 24,943 human-made objects ever put into orbit, the US, the former Soviet bloc, China, the UK and Japan account for the bulk. Algeria and South Africa are the only African nations to have a satellite in space, while none of the small island developing states have one. With the increasing number of launches, more incidents like those involving SpaceX and the Russian test are likely. Moreover, smaller and poorer countries are likely to be denied the chance to use space for their own purposes for a long time, if not forever, as other nations and private firms carve out chunks for themselves. It is high time that the UN’s Outer Space Treaty got some regulatory teeth to control the number of launches each country can have. And that figure has to include all the satellites launched by governments, private companies, universities and nongovernmental organizations in each country. Perhaps, under the aegis of the UN, the global community could agree on a quota earmarking exclusive rights to space for either individual countries or regional multilateral bodies like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the EU, Arab League, African Union and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Alternatively, since the wherewithal for space research and exploitation is currently restricted to just a few nations, the global community could discuss and work toward a treaty governing the use of space and how to distribute the benefits of any research or activity fairly to all countries. Just as there is a treaty — even if it is only partially effective — regulating each nation’s maritime exclusive economic zones, it is important to have similar restrictions imposed in space to ensure that it is protected for posterity and every single human, rather than allowing rampant and uncontrolled colonization by those who can afford it and who have the capabilities. Space, just like the atmosphere, belongs to every living being and it is important to ensure that everyone has equal and fair access to it.

Private industry lowers costs and increases feasibility

Agence France Press, January 5, 2022, Space business: The final (profitable) frontier, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220105-space-business-the-final-profitable-frontier

Yet companies like Sierra are proposing something in addition to tourism — a commercial hub in space that could be used to make products, and a ship that can provide transportation. A video of their “space plane” shows the unmanned version of the craft cruising back to Earth and landing on a runaway like any other commercial aircraft. Companies have proposed a series of ideas which until recently sounded like long shots, such as asteroid mining — but they have also suggested less far-fetched biomedical applications or production of some types of technology. Mason Peck, an astronautics professor at Cornell University, said that until the last five years making things in space and bringing them back to Earth just didn’t make sense. “Now there are companies… who are actually focused on this question: How can I make a buck in space?” he told AFP. “This has never been the way that people articulate the benefits of space. It’s always been something a little bit broader, like the benefit to mankind or humanity or the sake of science,” he added. But the power of profit has the potential to vastly accelerate efficiency, technological advances and capacity in ways that is not in the slow and purposely deliberate approach of NASA or the European Space Agency. “It’s pumping more money into the space industry. Technology improves, cost goes down so everybody benefits,” said Mike Gruntman, a professor of astronautics at the University of Southern California. This would come as NASA has agreements that are part of the agency’s efforts to enable an American-led commercial economy in low-Earth orbit. Yet the prospect of increasing activity in space which could be done by profit-seeking companies carries very real risks. “There is certainly going to come a time when there will be tragedy and death and destruction as a result of this as there is with everything. There’s car crashes, bridges fail, trains derail,” Peck added. “The next William Shatner we send to space might not make it back… and that will be terrible. But these are not reasons not to do it,” he said referring to the Star Trek star’s trip on a Blue Origin launch.

Private industry will get the US back to the moon

Whittington, 1-2, 22, Mark R. Whittington is the author of space exploration studies “Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?” as well as “The Moon, Mars and Beyond,” and “Why is America Going Back to the Moon?” He blogs at Curmudgeons Corner., 2022 will be the year the world begins to return to the moon, https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/587771-2022-will-be-the-year-the-world-begins-to-return-to-the-moon

One reason that 2022 is going to be a lot better than 2021 is that it will be the year that the world will begin to return to the moon. The process has been a long time coming. Former President Donald Trump began the Artemis project in 2017. In early 2021, President Biden confirmed that his administration would continue the third effort to return humans to the moon, making it bipartisan and all but ensuring that it would succeed. So, 2022 will be the year that machines from the planet Earth will begin landing on the moon in earnest, joining those that have already arrived from China. The United States will begin its first moon landings in decades under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. CLPS is an extension of a long-standing NASA policy of establishing public/private partnerships for various space operations. The Commercial Orbital Transportation Service (COTS) program, started under President George W. Bush, sends cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Commercial Crew, established under President Barack Obama, sends astronauts to and from the ISS. The Human Landing Systems program, started under Trump, promises to deliver the first American astronauts to the lunar surface in decades. CLPS will send a variety of robotic probes to the moon. The first mission under the CLPS program is the IM-1 to be launched by Houston based Intuitive Machines in early 2022. The Nova-C lander will carry instruments for NASA and commercial payloads to the lunar surface between Mare Serenitatis and Mare Crisiumon the near side of the moon. Sometime in 2022, the Astrobotic Peregrine Mission 1 is scheduled to touch down at Lacus Mortis. The Peregrine lander will carry scientific and other payloads from NASA and a variety of international and private customers. In December 2022, Intuitive Machines is scheduled to land another Nova-C at the lunar south pole. The lander will contain a drill which, along with a mass spectrometer, will prospect for ice beneath the lunar surface. The mission will also deliver a Micro Nova hopper-lander that is designed to explore some of the permanently shaded craters at the moon’s south pole, where scientists believe water ice has been deposited by comets over billions of years. The lunar south pole will be where the first astronauts will walk on the moon in half a century. Besides the three American CLPS companies, a number of other countries are planning moon landing attempts in the new year. These include India, Japan the UAE and Russia. The Indian Chandrayaan-3 will be a second attempt to land on the moon by the Indian Space Research Agency. The Russian Luna-25 will constitute a first lunar mission by the former superpower since the mid-1970s. The UAE Rashid rover will fly to the moon onboard a Japanese Hakuto-R lander. In the U.S., NASA plans to send the CAPSTONE technology demonstrator into lunar orbit. South Korea will launch the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, the first moon mission mounted by that country. NASA intends to launch an uncrewed version of the Orion spacecraft on top of a Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket around the moon in early-to-mid 2022. The SLS will also carry 10 cubesats (miniature satellites) contributed by a number of private organizations. SpaceX plans an orbital launch in 2022 of its Starship rocket, a version of which is planned to land humans on the lunar surface no earlier than 2025, pending regulatory approval. Of course, the date of every planned mission is subject to change. Launch dates have been and can be delayed by various problems, including availability of launch vehicles and unforeseen mechanical problems. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly not helped. The FAA has announced that its environmental review for the SpaceX Starship orbital launch has been delayed until the end of February 2022, proving the adage that government paperwork can be just as challenging as making the technology work. Also, some of the attempted landings may fail. Both India and Israel have tried to land probes on the moon which, instead, came to grief. Still, the law of averages suggests that some of these planned missions will succeed. Thus far, only China has succeeded in landing on the moon in the 21st century, winning the scientific knowledge and soft political power that follows. When the rest of the world starts arriving on the lunar surface, not only will humanity’s understanding of the moon increase but the idea that humans will soon follow will become more real 50 years after astronauts last walked on its surface.

Private space development strengthens the aerospace industry

Cody Shrink, 12-31, 21, Investor Place, Private Space Investors Prepare for Windfalls, https://investorplace.com/venturecapitaldigest/2021/12/private-space-investors-prepare-for-windfalls/

Essentially, space travel is now open to the broader public. This will create a boom within the aeronautical and space industry that will be fueled by private investors (instead of governments). Right now, private space companies SpaceX and Blue Origin are worth more than Sir Richard Branson’s publicly traded Virgin Galactic… Blue Origin’s annual space tourism sales have already surpassed $100 million, while SpaceX’s valuation is over $100 billion. These are serious numbers… Now these companies have to figure out how to spend money intelligently to continue growing. TOP 3 PRIVATE COMPANY INVESTMENTS FOR 2022 The Best Bet for Growth What many retail investors often don’t understand is how large corporations grow. Growing a multi-billion-dollar company into a hundred-billion-dollar company is unbelievably difficult. Maintaining current operations while at the same time developing cutting-edge technologies is extremely risky. That’s why most large corporations acquire smaller companies that focus on world-changing ideas. It’s far safer to acquire a small company that has already developed something groundbreaking instead of trying to develop something expensive in-house that may fail. That’s how the world’s greatest companies grow… they acquire smaller companies and integrate them into the bigger operation. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Ford (NYSE:F), and pretty much any major corporation buys disruptive technology to continue their growth. And that’s exactly what’s going to start happening in the private space industry. Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Musk’s SpaceX, Bezos’ Blue Origin, and many other private space companies are already buying small private companies with unique IP (intellectual property). As the new space race accelerates, this trend of buying private space companies is certain to accelerate. This will result in private investors making enormous profits. Early investors who bought into private companies currently valued in the tens of millions will likely see more than 1,000% returns — and much more. One great place to find private investing opportunities in space is Spaced Ventures. Spaced Ventures is an equity crowdfunding platform that specialize in… you guessed it… space. There are a handful of deals on there right now, and a couple coming soon. Infinite Composites develops and manufactures advanced composite pressure vessels and structures which are necessary for space travel. Exo-Space builds add-on artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for Earth Observing Satellites. Cosmic Shielding Corporation develops multifunctional composites unlock previously unattainable levels of performance and reliability in space. All of these companies are currently raising funding, and you do not need to be an accredited investor to participate. Anyone can invest in these companies right now! Infinite Composite you may already be familiar with. The company was one of three I highlighted in your special report, Top 3 Private Company Investments for 2022. But full disclosure, I have not personally done any due diligence on the other two companies. And I would never invest in any company, unless I spend almost a month investigating every square inch of their business operations. However, statistically speaking, there will be an acquisition spree in the coming future in the space tech industry. These new major private space companies will have cash on their books, and even more important, shares that they can use as currency to acquire smaller companies. Private early-stage investors will see enormous windfalls as this trend accelerates. The most exciting is that we’ll be there to participate in this trend. I’m already in discussion with the top space tech incubator in the world, so we can get access to the best companies that will likely go on to get acquired for big bucks… stay tuned! ‘

Profitable space activities will drive space development

Dick Robinson, 12-31, 21, The Next Age of the Space Race Is Already Here, https://now.northropgrumman.com/the-next-age-of-the-space-race-is-already-here/

Musk is not the only one to pursue space travel because it’s cool. While the original space race was all about competition between world powers, the half-century of NASA spaceflight since then has been fueled by American taxpayers. Yes, there are numerous practical reasons for a space program to exist, such as the desire to launch weather or internet satellites tied to profit-making businesses, but human spaceflight and interplanetary exploration probes have been funded at least partly because they are, well, awesome. The power of awesome is also what propelled the summer space race of billionaires. A suborbital hop crosses no frontier that Alan Shepard didn’t cross 60 years ago, but Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson both thought it would be worth spending a few billion dollars to do it. Both also think it’s awesome enough that they will get their money back by selling suborbital hops to paying customers. We cannot yet say whether enough well-heeled customers will agree to make Blue Origins or Virgin Galactic profitable propositions. What we can say is that commercial space travel has already taken a direction that hardly anyone would have expected until a few years ago. Profit-making “practical” space missions, such as launching constellations of satellites for global phone service, are ongoing. Meanwhile, technology such as winged spacecraft released from mother-ship airplanes — like Branson’s VSS Unity, and the legendary X-15 before it — are transforming this industry. But because this does not involve human spaceflight, it takes place largely out of the public eye. For decades, space visionaries have anticipated that profit-oriented business operations would drive a private enterprise future for human spaceflight. A whole subgenre of science fiction proposed that commercial enterprises such as orbital solar power stations or asteroid mining would provide the impetus to take people into space. The awesome factor might be reason enough for some, but hope of profit was expected to bring in the cold, hard cash. But at least so far, it has not worked out quite that way. None of those technologies has drawn enough interest from investors to gain substantial funding. Instead, it turned out to be the sheer awesome factor that motivated private entrepreneurs to reach for space. If human commercial space travel also turns out to be profitable, we’ll likely see the funding of even more amazing human space missions. But the profit motive has been more of a hoped-for fringe benefit than a driving motivation in the new space race. Awesome, as it turns out, may be enough.

“Outer space” is 50-62 miles above earth

Rick Robinson, 12-31, 21, The Next Age of the Space Race Is Already Here, https://now.northropgrumman.com/the-next-age-of-the-space-race-is-already-here/

Instead, according to CBS News, the rival private spaceflight teams settled for reaching just high enough to cross the official threshold of space, as defined by two different agencies. NASA defines outer space as beginning at an altitude of 50 miles (about 80 km), while the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale puts the beginning of outer space at a higher altitude: 100 km, about 62 miles up.

The more missions the more space junk

Aisling Ni, 12-28, 21, https://www.euronews.com/next/2021/12/28/these-were-2021-s-most-exciting-stories-in-an-extraordinary-year-for-space-exploration, These were 2021’s most exciting stories in an extraordinary year for space exploration

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, however. The flipside of more missions and spacecraft in orbit is the increased risk of so-called “space junk” – discarded launch vehicles or parts of a spacecraft that float around in space hundreds of miles above the Earth – colliding with the ISS or satellites in orbit

Private companies have made greater space exploration and development possible by reducing costs

Aisling Ni, 12-28, 21, https://www.euronews.com/next/2021/12/28/these-were-2021-s-most-exciting-stories-in-an-extraordinary-year-for-space-exploration, These were 2021’s most exciting stories in an extraordinary year for space exploration

Between three Mars missions, the James Webb Telescope Mission, a new space station, and the billionaire space tourism boom, it’s fair to say that 2021 has been a pretty extraordinary year for space travel. This year saw the execution of more than 130 space missions, with the overwhelming majority of these being successful. And while it will still cost a pretty penny for a civilian to get to space – three individuals paying $55million (€48.7million) to go to the International Space Station next year, for instance – space exploration is undoubtedly becoming cheaper. ADVERTISING This is largely thanks to private aerospace companies driving down costs by developing reusable capsules and rockets in a trend that looks set to continue into 2022.

Space exploration supported by private industry is increasing

Christian Davenport, 10-27, 21, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/2021-was-a-huge-year-for-space-exploration-2022-could-be-even-bigger/ar-AASaVdim 2021 was a huge year for space exploration. 2022 could be even bigger.

The year 2021 will probably go down in the annals of space history as a turning point, a moment when ordinary citizens started leaving Earth on a regular basis. Multiple crews lifted off on several different spacecraft, and for a brief moment this month, there were a record 19 people in the weightless environment of space — and eight of them were private citizens. But for all the achievements of 2021 — which include a rover landing on Mars, a small drone called Ingenuity flying in that planet’s thin atmosphere and the launch of the James Webb Space telescope, the most powerful space telescope ever — 2022 could hold just as much promise, if not more. If 2021 was the year of the private space tourist, 2022 could be marked by the first steps toward a return to the moon, as NASA and the growing space industry seek to maintain the momentum that has been building over the past several years in what has amounted to a renaissance of exploration. A pair of massive rockets, both more powerful than the Saturn V that flew the Apollo astronauts to the moon, are getting ready to fly in 2022. Those launches would mark the first significant steps in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2025 and create a campaign that would allow a permanent presence on and around the moon. After years of development, and billions of dollars spent, NASA is finally gearing up to launch its Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule, which are designed to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since Apollo. The first mission, known as Artemis I, is scheduled for March or April and would send Orion, without any crew on board, to orbit around the moon. If all goes well, it would be followed by Artemis II, in May 2024, which would again send Orion to orbit the moon, but this time with astronauts on board. NASA hopes a crew would be able to land on the moon by 2025, but that would depend on the success of previous flight tests and SpaceX’s ability to get its Starship spacecraft up and running. Over the past year, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been moving feverishly toward the first orbital launch of Starship, the vehicle that won a $3 billion NASA contract this year to rendezvous with the Orion and transport NASA’s astronauts to the lunar surface. Musk has said the company could attempt a launch in early 2022. Unlike the SLS, which would ditch its massive booster stage into the ocean after launch, Starship is designed to be fully reusable. After putting the Starship spacecraft into orbit, the Super Heavy booster would fly back to its launchpad where it would be caught by a pair of arms extended like chopsticks. Earlier this year, the company attempted suborbital hops, where the spacecraft launched to an altitude of about six miles, belly flopped back to Earth horizontally, then righted itself and refired its engines before touching down. Several of the landing attempts ended in fireballs. But in May, the company pulled off a successful landing, fueling Musk’s hope that the rocket could be used to transport people and cargo across the solar system. “The overarching goal of Starship is to be able to transport enough tonnage to the moon and Mars,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post earlier this year. “And to have a self-sustaining base on the moon and ultimately a self-sustaining city on Mars.” Ahead of an astronaut landing, NASA is planning to send science missions to the lunar surface. Those missions would also be carried out by contractors, hired by the space agency to deliver science experiments and technology demonstrations that NASA says would “help the agency study Earth’s nearest neighbor and prepare for human landing missions.” The first would be by Intuitive Machines, a Houston-based company that is aiming to deliver science experiments in early 2022 and again later in the year. That second mission, to the south pole of the moon, would have a drill that would probe the lunar regolith for ice. Astrobotic, based in Pittsburgh, is also planning to deliver payloads to the lunar surface under the NASA contract. Rocket Lab is also scheduled to launch a small satellite to the moon to serve as a precursor for human missions by testing the orbit for the space station, known as Gateway, that NASA hopes to send to the moon. Rocket Lab, which launches from its site in New Zealand, hopes to have its first launch from the United States in 2022 from the pad it uses at NASA’s facility on Wallops Island, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. It also plans to attempt to recover a booster next year. But unlike SpaceX, which flies the first stages of its rockets back to landing sites on the ground or ships at sea, Rocket Lab intends to catch its relatively small booster under a parachute with a helicopter. Aaron Kuipers, left, Launch Complex-2 Program Manager for Rocket Lab talks with Dale Nash, the former chief executive and executive director of Virginia Space, David Pierce the director of the Wallops Flight Facility and Jeremy L. Eggers, the associate chief of NASA’s Office of Communications, in the Rocket Lab facility. Aaron Kuipers, left, Launch Complex-2 Program Manager for Rocket Lab talks with Dale Nash, the former chief executive and executive director of Virginia Space, David Pierce the director of the Wallops Flight Facility and Jeremy L. Eggers, the associate chief of NASA’s Office of Communications, in the Rocket Lab facility. 2022 should also see the debut of a number of new rockets, including the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, which would be used by the Pentagon to launch national security satellites. Relativity Space, which uses a 3-D printer to manufacture its rockets, plans to first launch of its Terran 1 vehicle from Cape Canaveral in the coming months as well. Boeing also is looking to get back on track. 2021 was supposed to be the year it finally completed a test flight of its Starliner spacecraft, which is being designed to ferry NASA’s astronauts to and from the International Space Station. But once again it ran into trouble. At the end of 2019, the spacecraft suffered software problems, forcing the aviation behemoth to cut the test flight short. The spacecraft finally returned to the launchpad this summer, but never got off the ground. This time, the company said the issue was hardware: 13 valves in the service module got stuck, forcing the company to bring the spacecraft back into its manufacturing facility. The company recently announced that it would have to swap out the service module. It’s now looking to attempt to launch again sometime in May. If that goes well, a launch with astronauts on board would follow. The space station could see another new vehicle visit in 2022: Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser, a spaceplane that looks like a miniature version of the space shuttle. The company has been developing the winged vehicle for years with the hopes of one day flying astronauts. But for now, it has a contract from NASA to use it to deliver cargo and supplies to the space station. And it recently announced that it received a $1.4 billion investment that it said would help accelerate the program. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which delivered two crews of astronauts to the space station in 2021, is slated to continue flying crews there in 2022. It also would fly at least one mission, chartered by Axiom Space, in which private astronauts who are paying $55 million apiece would spend a little more than a week on the station. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which flew three trips to the edge of space in 2021, plans to fly six or more suborbital flights in 2022. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) And Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is hoping to complete its test campaign and start offering commercial service on its suborbital spaceplane for paying space tourists. Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket carried, from left, Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries on its second flight to the edge of space from the company’s launchpad near Van Horn, Tex. Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket carried, from left, Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries on its second flight to the edge of space from the company’s launchpad near Van Horn, Tex. While those flights go just past the edge of space to a few dozen miles high, NASA’s scientists and engineers will be focused on a far more distant destination, a million miles from Earth. There, the James Webb Space Telescope would begin to unfurl itself in delicate maneuvers after it was launched on Christmas Day on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket. NASA says there are 344 potential “single-point failures” and if anything goes wrong there is no way to send a repair crew. But if it works, the telescope would be able to capture light from more than 13 billion years ago as the beginning of the formation of the universe. The telescope has been called an Apollo moment for science and could start answering some of astronomy’s biggest questions about how the universe began. “The whole point of this is to see the unseen universe,” John M. Grunsfeld, former head of science at NASA, recently told The Post. “James Webb will be able to see phenomena that Hubble can’t see, that ground-based telescopes can’t see. What are we going to discover that we had no idea was there?”

Private industry means the US no longer needs Russia on the space station, undermining cooperation

DNYUZ, 12-27, 21, NASA-Russia Alliance in Space Is Shaken by Events on Planet Earth, https://dnyuz.com/2021/12/27/nasa-russia-alliance-in-space-is-shaken-by-events-on-planet-earth/

For two decades, the space station has been a symbol of diplomatic triumph between the U.S. and Russia, typically insulated from tensions on Earth. Russian astronauts traveled to orbit on the space shuttle, and when it stopped flying, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft became NASA’s only ride to orbit for nearly a decade. The station also requires the two space powers’ cooperation to function: The Russian segment depends on electricity generated by American solar panels, while the station as a whole depends on Russian equipment to control its orbit. But now, the antisatellite test, as well as mounting tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine and other matters, are complicating the decades-old friendship between NASA and Roscosmos. As the two agencies try to secure a pair of agreements that would sustain their relationship for years to come, they are finding that affairs in orbit cannot avoid being linked to conflict on the ground. The agreements have been in the works for years. One would allow Russian astronauts to fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule for trips to the space station, in exchange for seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft for American astronauts. The other would cement the NASA-Roscosmos space station alliance through 2030. Both agreements require sign-off from officials in the White House whose chief concern is defusing military conflict with Russia over Ukraine. They must also go through the U.S. State Department, where officials are mulling options to deter Russia from launching antisatellite weapons in the future. Agreements to further space cooperation are becoming entangled with reactions to these other matters. ADVERTISEMENT “I hope this project will not be politicized,” Mr. Rogozin said of the agreements, “but you can never be sure.” Mr. Rogozin seemed to acknowledge that the future of the space relationship is in the hands of the nations’ leaders. “In the sense of getting this program approved,” he said, “Roscosmos has full trust in the Russian president and the Russian government.” Mr. Rogozin, a former deputy prime minister who oversaw Russia’s arms industry, has direct experience with the fractious side of the U.S.-Russia relationship. The U.S. sanctioned him personally in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea. That has precluded him from entering the United States and complicated his ability to meet with his American counterparts. Bill Nelson, the former senator from Florida serving as NASA administrator under President Biden, called Russia’s missile test “pitiful” at the time. But he softened his tone during later talks with Mr. Rogozin, voicing concerns about the new cloud of space debris but assuming his counterpart did not know in advance that Russia’s military would launch the antisatellite test. Mr. Nelson said in an interview that he thinks Mr. Rogozin “is between a rock and a hard place, because there’s only so much that he can say” about the weapon test. “He’s had to be quite demure, which I understand completely,” Mr. Nelson added. The day before the missile test, a delegation of senior NASA officials, including the agency’s associate administrator, Bob Cabana, flew to Moscow for face-to-face negotiations with their Russian counterparts. Through days of meetings after the test, and over dinner with Mr. Rogozin, they affirmed their desire to lock in the agreement to barter astronaut flights and extend the space station partnership beyond 2024 through 2030. “We have an intent to do both of those. We didn’t sign any agreements, but it was a very productive discussion,” said Mr. Cabana, who was dispatched to Moscow for the talks in part because he is well known to Russian space officials as a former NASA astronaut. Mr. Rogozin gave NASA no hint that the test was coming. He said during the recent interview that the Ministry of Defense did not consult Roscosmos beforehand, which he chalked up to the Russian military having its own space-tracking capabilities to determine whether the missile strike would endanger the space station. But he added: “I’m not going to tell you everything I know.” With tensions over the weapon test looming, Mr. Rogozin announced earlier this month that Anna Kikina, the only woman in Russia’s astronaut corps, would be the first Russian under the agreement to fly in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule next fall. He said in the interview that under the coming agreement, he expects to fly “at least one integrated crew a year” from 2022 through 2024. Ms. Kikina and other Russian astronauts have already visited sites in the U.S. for training while the negotiations continue. Ultimately, though, Mr. Rogozin said Roscosmos could not agree to an extension of Russia’s presence on the space station unless the U.S. removes sanctions on two Russian companies added to a U.S. blacklist last year because of their suspected military ties. The sanctions, he says, prevent Russia from building parts needed to allow the space station to survive through 2030. “There really is no politics behind what I’m saying,” said Mr. Rogozin. “In order to give us a technical capability to produce whatever is needed for this extension, these restrictions need to be lifted first.” Mr. Nelson of NASA says he has talked to the White House about the agreements to swap astronaut seats with the Russians and extend the space station. With the antisatellite test and other geopolitical tensions in the foreground, he indicated little progress had been made in getting the deals approved. “All of this is to be determined,” he said. The agreement to swap astronauts also must be reviewed by the State Department, which is weighing options for a broader response to Russia’s weapon test. A State Department spokesman declined to discuss the potential measures, saying “we do not preview our response options.” But he pointed to remarks this month from Kathleen Hicks, the deputy defense secretary: “We would like to see all nations agree to refrain from antisatellite weapons testing that creates debris.” Two U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss tentative plans, said that could mean calling for an international moratorium on testing destructive antisatellite weapons, perhaps during the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva next year, rather than inserting antisatellite weapon-related language into NASA’s agreements with Russia. Mr. Rogozin said he did not think Russia would conduct another antisatellite test. “Whether there will be other tests of a similar kind? More likely no rather than yes,” he said. But even if the antisatellite weapon irritant fades, NASA and Roscosmos’s alliance has been gradually scaled back, with the relationship now focused primarily on the space station. In the 1990s and 2000s, the U.S. saw the space station as a crucial place “to reach out to Russia to build new relationships with them post-Cold War, and to keep their aerospace industry gainfully employed doing good things, and not making bad things” for countries like Iran and North Korea, said Brian Weeden, an analyst at the Secure World Foundation, a think tank. Those conditions have changed. NASA stopped paying up to $90 million per astronaut seat on Russia’s Soyuz capsule when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon started flying Americans to space in 2020, severing a key source of revenue for the Russian agency. Acting on orders from Congress to wean the U.S. space sector off Russia’s space industry, an American rocket company this year stopped buying Russian-made rocket engines, eliminating another source of income. And Russia is not among the cadre of U.S. allies working with NASA to send astronauts back to the moon in the next decade. It has partnered instead with China on its moon program. Although cooperation on the space station could be extended, it would likely codify the final chapter in the civil U.S.-Russia space relationship, Mr. Weeden said. NASA is aiming to stimulate a market for privately built orbital research outposts that would eventually replace the space station, a move that could pluck one of the last strings binding the two partners together. “The I.S.S. relationship,” Mr. Weeden said, “came out of a unique set of circumstances that I think have passed.”

Governments are supporting space exploration and development

Miriam Kramer, Alison Snyder, 12-26, 21, Moon, Mars and asteroid missions top 2022 space goals, https://www.axios.com/space-science-missions-2022-15b89d24-fd17-4067-ade2-da8255878ddf.html

Space science next year will be rocketed forward with missions to the Moon, asteroids, Mars and the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope coming online. Why it matters: The data sent back to Earth from these upcoming missions will help scientists learn more than ever before about objects in the solar system and far beyond it. What’s happening: Space agencies like NASA, the European Space Agency and Japan’s space agency, JAXA, are all aiming to send probes to various targets around the solar system this year. They include: Mars: The European Space Agency and Russia are planning to launch their joint ExoMars lander and rover to the surface of the Red Planet in September. It will join NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rovers on the Martian surface. Both are expected to continue their work next year. Asteroids: NASA’s Psyche mission is due to launch in August 2022 on a mission to explore a strange, metal-dominated asteroid that may have once been part of the core of a long-dead planet. NASA’s DART mission is also expected to arrive at its asteroid target next year in the hopes of slamming into it and figuring out just what it would take to throw a dangerous space rock off of a collision course with Earth. The Moon: NASA is expected to launch the first flight of its Space Launch System mega-rocket on a trip around the Moon, and the space agency plans to load it with scientific experiments. The rocket will carry a clutch of small satellites that will investigate water in the lunar environment. Other nations like Japan, Russia and India are also aiming to send missions to the Moon next year. Russia’s mission — called Luna-25 — is designed to search for water near the south pole of the Moon. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope — the successor to the Hubble — is also expected to be up and running starting early in 2022. The JWST is tasked with no less than piecing together the early history of the universe using its powerful, sensitive instrumentation to see the light of some of the universe’s first galaxies and cut through dust to see newborn stars. The space telescope is also expected to parse the atmospheres of distant alien planets. Between the lines: As all of these missions launch and arrive at their targets, astronomers and planetary scientists will also be shoring up their goals for the coming years. In 2021, an influential report laid out the major priorities for the next decade of astronomy and astrophysics, centering on the idea that scientists should strive to find a potential twin of Earth orbiting a star like the Sun. 2022 will be the year that researchers and agencies like NASA continue to find ways to prioritize those goals and others laid out by the scientific community this year. What to watch: China is expected to continue collecting data from ongoing robotic missions to the Moon and Mars. The nation is also expected to complete its space station in the next year or so, providing a new platform for possible scientific research above Earth.

Government action solves space junk

Jeremy Kariuki, 12-24, 21, Flying, 2021 Was A Big Year For Space, https://www.flyingmag.com/2021-was-a-big-year-for-space/

NASA is shooting one of its spacecraft at a binary asteroid—yes, you read that right. NASA’s DART mission is the first major mission for its planetary defense division, seeking to redirect an incoming asteroid as it passes by Earth. While the asteroid poses no threat of impacting Earth, NASA’s DART spacecraft will hurdle toward the smaller of the two bodies at nearly 15,000 mph. Even though the spacecraft is 100 times smaller than its target, NASA hopes to change its trajectory by less than one percent—enough to make a huge difference down the road.

Russian ASAT test created massive debris

Osborn, 12-24, 21, Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University, Is Russia Finally Weaponizing Outer Space?, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/russia-finally-weaponizing-outer-space-198501

The Pentagon is expressing concern about Russia’s recent test of a cutting-edge anti-satellite weapon. The test caused the destruction of one of Russia’s satellites and the formation of a large debris field in space. The test lends further urgency to the Defense Department’s (DoD’s) fast-evolving U.S. Space Force. ds Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said while Russia’s weapons test clearly presents a military threat to the United States, he was more concerned about the danger to the rest of the world. “What’s most troubling about that is the danger it creates for the international community. It undermines strategic stability. As you know, there’s a debris field there now that will be there for, forever–and it’s a safety concern. And so we would call upon Russia to act more responsibly going forward. I mean, they have the ability, they know exactly what kind of debris field they’re going to create, so we wonder why they would move to do such a thing,” Austin told reporters recently, according to a Pentagon transcript of the event. The Russian test speaks to the often-cited concern that the United States has been late to enter the space war realm. For largely ethical and humanitarian reasons, the United States has long maintained that the space domain should remain an international sanctuary somewhat free from large-scale weaponization. However, major power U.S. rivals such as Russia and China have for many years pursued efforts to militarize space, and the Pentagon simply realized it could not leave itself so vulnerable to a great power space attack. “We are concerned about the weapon—weaponization of space and we would certainly call upon Russia and all countries to act in a responsible manner in this regard,” Austin added. “On November 15, a Russian PL19 Nudol interceptor missile launched in northern Russia struck the now-defunct Soviet-era COSMOS 1408 satellite at an approximate altitude of 480 kilometers (about 300 miles). The intercept has generated a massive debris field in low-Earth orbit (LEO); according to U.S. Space Command, “more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris” have already been detected, and “hundreds of thousands of smaller [fragments]” are likely to surface.”

Private Chinese space companies in China exploring space

Zhao ChenChen, 12-24, 21, CGTN, China’s private space companies: A race for the universe, https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-12-24/China-s-private-space-companies-A-race-for-the-universe-16fCBj4ss9y/index.html

The launch of commercial rocket CERES-1 Y2 on December 7 marked another milestone for private space companies in China, as it delivered five satellites into orbit. It was the second time rocket developer Galactic Energy, a Beijing-based aerospace company, had sent satellites into orbit. The consecutive successes make Galactic Energy the first in class to realize commercialization for rocket launches and business delivery, signaling a maturing technology for China’s commercial satellite launch missions, the company said. Driven by the policies, capital and technology, China’s commercial aerospace industry has enjoyed strong momentum in the past seven years and is estimated to become a billion-dollar market by 2025. A billion-dollar market favored by national policies 2021 is the seventh year since China officially opened up for social capital to participate in the construction of civil aviation infrastructure as part of the guidelines provided in the No. 60 State Council Document in 2014. Apart from the Guiding Opinions, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) also included “satellite internet” on a list of “new infrastructures” in April 2020. The recently approved 14th Five-Year Plan for the period 2021-2026 further detailed “long-range objectives through 2035” that call for an integrated network of communications, Earth observation and navigation satellites. Many provincial-level plans have specifically called for increased construction of international aviation launching sites. China has carried out a series of policies in favor of increasing government procurement of spacecraft, improving the construction of corresponding infrastructure, and strengthening the military-civilian integration to support the development of the commercial aerospace industry on top of market-oriented means in the past years. Together with encouragement from policies and capital, China’s commercial aerospace industry experienced exponential growth from 2015 to 2020 – the market size scaled up from 376.4 billion yuan ($59.09 billion) to 1.02 trillion yuan ($160.13 billion) at a compound growth rate of 22.04 percent according to China Astronautics Association for Quality (CAAQ). The estimation was based on the multiple satellite constellation plans sketched out in 2020 that will project more than 3,000 commercial satellites totaling 400 tonnes in the next five years. Assessing a single launch priced at $70 million by a Long March-3B, the market is expected to reach beyond $210 billion by 2025. In 2020, the global space economy generated revenues of $371 billion, 74 percent of which came from satellite services, ground equipment, manufacturing and launch industry amid the effect of COVID-19, according to a report by the Satellite Industry Association in the United States (SIA). “Satellites and the rocket launch are two of the most obvious activities for the public to understand the space industry,” LinkSpace CTO Chu Longfei told CGTN. Founded in January 2014, LinkSpace was the first private company focusing on vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL) rocket and reusable technology. Referring to the SIA analysis which indicates that the global rocket makers take less than 2 percent of the global space economy whereas the satellite services and manufacturing sector takes up to 35 percent, Chu said that rocket launch is the most cost-efficient track in the entire industry. “It’s like infrastructure worth of billion dollars to initiate a market of hundreds of billions,” said Chu. After the state-owned enterprises China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), and the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) dominated the industry for more than 60 years, the joining of capital and policy favors attracted more talents to build up the development of the commercial sector of the space industry, driving the entire business growth. However, compared with global launching ability and satellite ownership, the gap between China and the international level is wider than the market size suggests. Intensive competition works as catalyst From January to September in 2021, there were 1,178 newly-launched satellites in orbit whereas the yearly launch in 2020 was 1,283. Among them, 835 were owned by the U.S. China now has 431 satellites in space, including commercially-owned and state-owned, ranking the second for total satellite ownership by a nation. However, with the increasing number of satellite internet constellation plans by SpaceX’s Starlink, Amazon’s Kuiper and OneWeb, which draw a blueprint of many thousands of small satellites in the low-Earth orbit (LEO), the race for satellite networks is getting fiercer. SpaceX’s Falcon-9 deployed 50 more satellites twice in one year, adding another catalyst to the competition. China submitted spectrum allocation filings to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in September 2020 with plans to construct two LEO constellations totaling 12,992 satellites, trying to catch up with the commercial networks already being deployed by SpaceX and OneWeb. On August 24, two “fusion” communication technology test satellites with the acronym RSW were sent into orbit as the first step of this plan. Founded in April this year, China Satellite Network Group is the major actor in these plans. The company is independent from and parallel to China’s main space contractors, CASC and CASIC. Such independency brought huge encouragement to the private space companies. Galaxy Space, a forerunner in satellite production and operation, and also an $8 billion valued unicorn in satellite internet, is one of the commercial sector space companies that joined the industry in 2016. “The establishment of China Satellite Network no doubt is a driving force in the co-development of upstream and downstream of the industry chain,” said Jin Liqun, the satellite scientist at Galaxy Space in an interview in November with Guokr. As an infrastructure builder to satellites in space, LinkSpace, along with many other audacious private rocket makers, is targeting a 10-time disparity as SpaceX’s recyclable rocket can send 50 satellites at a time while Galactic Energy’s one-time launch carried just five. “This is where our opportunity stands,” Chu said. Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond Putting effective fundraising in place, commercialization and limited launching sites all pose difficulties to China’s private commercial space sector, according to Chu. The ability to achieve the continuous and stable launch of rockets and large-scale, low-cost rocket production is the key to realizing the genuine industrialization of commercial rockets, said Liu Baiqi, the CEO and founder of Galactic Energy. Therefore, a reusable VTVL rocket with heavy effective payload is crucial in the competition to minimize the gap. So far, LinkSpace’s experiment back in 2019 that made it to 300 meters before landing steadily and accurately at the designated area with little deviation was the first to prove a successful concept for a recyclable orbital rocket. Later in October this year, another private launch Deep Blue Aerospace also completed 100-meter vertical landing and vertical takeoff test using a electric-pump-fed kerolox engine. Galactic Energy is also pushing ahead with research and development of its heavy reusable carrier PALLAS-1 that aims to complete its first flight at the end of 2022 to early 2023. From 2015 to 2020, more than 10 private rocket firms were founded across China with specializations in different divisions of rocket making and operating. “Our goal is to make the space transportation system a normal one, expanding the social norm,” LinkSpace’s Chu said. “And rockets are the most fundamental infrastructure.” “I believe I will be able to take my own rocket for space travel one day.”

Private industry in Russia investing in space

TASS, 12-24, 21, Russian private space firm launches NEBO 25 suborbital rocket with TASS logo, https://tass.com/science/1380549

OSCOW, December 24. /TASS/. The Russian private space firm Success Rockets conducted the first launch of its NEBO 25 rocket with a TASS logo on its board, the company’s press office reported on Friday.

READ ALSO ISS orbit adjusted ahead of new manned mission in 2022 “The NEBO 25 suborbital rocket was launched in the Astrakhan Region on December 23. The launch is the first for the NEBO 25 suborbital rocket and the second for the company in 2021 (a suborbital rocket prototype was launched in April 2021),” the press office said. “This made Success Rockets Russia’s first private company that carried out more than one launch a year. The TASS news agency whose logo was also posted on the rocket’s board acts as a strategic information partner of this and subsequent launches by Success Rockets,” it specified. The NEBO 25 is a one-stage solid-propellant rocket 3.5 meters long and weighing 65,000 grams. The company had been developing the rocket since 2020. The rocket carries femto-satellites (space vehicles weighing under 100 grams). The rocket transmitted telemetric data, gathered and recorded all necessary parameters on its board throughout the flight, the press office said. As Success Rockets specified, the commission made a decision to adjust the angle and flight path of the rocket launch compared to the original plan due to the strong wind of over 50 m/s at an altitude of over 9 km. The rocket flew over 18 km under the designated scheme, climbing to an apogee altitude of seven km, following which its emergency rescue system switched on. The rocket fired its engine for 8.2 seconds. The rocket accelerated to 512 m/s, which exceeds the speed of sound. Compared to the previous launch of its prototype, the rocket’s flight range increased by almost 10 times, the press office said. The launch was carried out with the support of the Arcturus Space Technology Center of the Russian Science and Higher Education Ministry, the press office specified. “In actual fact, a new competence for privately-created superlight rocket launches has been set up. Moreover, the company has complied with all the deadlines announced in the media for the item’s launch expectations in 2021. Today we can congratulate SR and all the partners on reaching a new frontier,” Adviser to the Rostov Region Governor and CEO of New Cosmos Corporation Anton Alekseyev was quoted by the corporation as saying. Success Rockets told TASS that the rocket had been customized by Russian NFT-artist Nikita Replyansky (R66) under the project. The rocket carried a payload of a collectible toy created by the artist in the space style specially for the NEBO 25 flight. Success Rockets founder Oleg Mansurov earlier told TASS that the company was planning to launch a suborbital rocket to an altitude of over 100 km in 2022 and was set for a full-fledged orbital launch in 2024.

Indian space industry has been limited but it will grow in 2022

Business Standard, 12-24, 21, Space industry hopes for exciting 2022 after a forgettable 2021, https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/space-industry-hopes-for-exciting-2022-after-a-forgettable-2021-121122400298_1.html

The Indian space industry is eagerly looking forward to 2022 hoping that it could be an active year as compared to 2021 that is largely a forgettable one. Speeding up the space sector reforms with final policies and activating the regulator for the private players, finalising the foreign direct investment (FDI) norms and passing of the Space Activities Bill and others are the expectations of the industry players for 2022. The global space market is about $360 billion and is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2040. However, India’s share in the global pie is about two per cent, offering good potential for the new players. ADVERTISING Till now, the Indian space sector was a monopoly of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)- the country’s space agency – and private participation was in the form of component supplies to the former. “The realisation of the uncrewed rocket flight — part of India’s human space mission Gaganyaan — will be a major boost, a source of inspiration in the hearts of the people. There will be a lot of excitement with two uncrewed rocket launches,” Dr Chaitanya Giri, Founder, DAWON Advisory & Intelligence told IANS. He added that the Rs 9,023 crore Gaganyaan has a lot of strategic importance for the country apart from being a scientific achievement mission. “The year 2022 will also see some progress in the Aditya-L1 mission to study the Sun. There are also two moon mission projects — the country’s own Chandrayaan-3 and the Indo-Japan moon mission (Lunar Polar Exploration Mission-LUPEX) and the Indo-US collaborative NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) Mission,” Giri said. The Chandrayaan-3 is in an advanced stage of realisation with all the systems in both Propulsion Module and Rover Module having been realised, integrated and tested. In the Lander Module, most of the systems have been realised and tests are underway. Integrated Sensors and Navigation performance tests on the Lander have been completed and other tests are in progress. “Chandrayaan-3 is targeted to be launched in the second quarter of financial year 2022 –2023,” Union Minister of Science and Technology Dr Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha. As regards the NISAR, it was earlier said it will be put into orbit in 2022 by Indian rocket PSLV. “The global interest in the Venus planet is increasing and India may join the bandwagon. There is a growing community of planetary scientists in India,” Giri remarked. The ISRO is also expected to launch a couple of earth observation and other satellites next year. While the above is about various satellite missions, at the ground level and part of the space sector reforms, the NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) in 2022 should decide on the industry player(s) to make the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) or the PSLV rockets. The NSIL had called for an Expression of Interest for production of PSLV rockets by an industry consortium. On the rocket side, the ISRO has to realise next year its small rocket with a long winding name Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) with a capacity to carry 500 kg satellites. The ISRO should also make progress in the construction of its second rocket port at Kulasekarapattinam in Tamil Nadu. With the ISRO shifting focus to research and development (R&D), as part of the reform process, the committee that has been set up to recommend the methodology for right-sizing and optimal utilisation of the existing science and technology (S&T) manpower is expected to submit its report. For the private sector start-ups making rockets and satellites too, next year is going to be crucial. Small rocket makers Skyroot Aerospace Private Ltd and Agnikul Cosmos are hoping to fly their vehicles by the end of 2022 while the satellite maker Syzygy Space Technologies Pvt Ltd, commonly known as Pixxel is expected to fly its satellite sometime next year. “The year 2022 is an important year as we bring everything together for a launch of Vikram-1 rocket and join the elite of the world in providing launch solutions,” Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO and Chief Technology Officer, Skyroot Aerospace, told IANS. As a part of opening up the space sector, the Indian government has constituted the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) as the sectoral regulator for the private players. The IN-SPACe will also enable usage of ISRO’s facilities for them. There are over 30 requests from private companies for support from IN-SPACe for their space activities which are expected to be decided next year. Industry officials expect the IN-SPACe and the sectoral regulations to be as agile as the startups.

Indian government promoting private space sector

The Federal, 12-23, 21, India’s space start-ups may get a boost with human spaceflight programme, https://thefederal.com/business/indias-space-start-ups-may-get-a-boost-with-human-spaceflight-programme/

India’s private space-tech start-ups are all set to receive a boost when the Union government modifies the draft of its ‘Humans in Space Policy 2021’ document to rope in private space-tech start-ups into their ambitious human spaceflight programme. Industry experts seem to be bullish that the Indian space policy in 2022 is likely to focus on private start-ups and their role in the human spaceflight programme, according to an report in a business daily. India, which accounts for only 2 per cent of the $360 billion global space economy, has so far limited private players in its space industry to being vendors or suppliers to the government’s space programme. However, the draft already recognises the importance of bringing in the private players to participate in the space programme. “Promoting the private sector will enable the Indian space programme to remain cost competitive within the global space market, and thus create several jobs in the space and other related sectors”, said the draft of the Human in Space Policy for India 2021. he Indian government’s ‘Humans in Space Policy’ aims for a sustained human presence in space as an instrument for “development, innovation and foster collaborations” and to “unlock the potential of the space sector by facilitating the participation of non-traditional players in undertaking space activities through a handholding approach and a transparent regulatory framework.” Also read: Digital mapping firm MapMyIndia to launch ₹1,040-crore IPO on Dec 9 The space policy, which is now expected to be released in 2022, will include space transportation, humans in space policy, remote sensing, satellite communications and much more. But importantly, the policy will involve the private players as well, and most of the regulations will be geared to bolster the private space sector’s ecosystem. The Indian spaceflight policy will now define the role of private entities in human missions to space and this is likely to coincide with the two uncrewed Gaganyaan test missions which are scheduled for 2022, said industry experts. Recently, Jitendra Singh, union minister of state for the department of space and atomic energy, too mentioned in Parliament that Gaganyaan – India’s manned space mission – will launch in 2023. The first manned Gaganyaan mission will take place in the early second-half of 2022, while the second uncrewed mission at the end of 2022. It will include Vyommitra, a humanoid robot developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). Meanwhile, India is targeting to set up its own space station by the year 2030, Singh further told the Parliament. Though Indian start-ups like Skyroot Aerospace and Agnikul Cosmos, are building their own rockets and will launch their first rockets into space in 2022, industry experts however also expressed the view that it will take time for the government to completely involve private Indian players. Private start-ups are still constrained for funds and the government also needs to gain a better understanding of the needs of these small-time private players. It will not be before 2035 and onward for private Indian players to end up actively participating in the human spaceflight programmes, said industry observers in the news report. Elaborate protocols and mechanisms have to be set in place to allow in private startups and industry players gradually. For example, the 2030 Indian space station plan will be an inter-ministerial mission and will require the different ministries working on these projects to create a system to bring in private start-ups. Also, when Prime Minister Modi launched the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an industry body created to make India a global leader in commercial space-based excursions, the founding members of the organisation included government bodies such as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and big private telecom companies such as Bharti Airtel’s One Web, Tata Group’s Nelcom, L&T, MapMyIndia, and others. Also read: India chugs up the private rail track again; What is the plan? A lot of these companies are betting big on setting up space-based communications network, a segment that has taken off with several Indian and international companies viewing it as the next frontier to provide high-speed and affordable Internet connectivity to inaccessible areas in the country. The companies here include SpaceX’s StarLink, Sunil Bharti Mittal’s OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, US satellite maker Hughes Communications, etc. The small private space tech start-ups are not in the big picture as yet. Digantara, Bellatrix Aerospace, Indigenously Developed Technologies, Agnikul and Tathya are some of the private entities in the space business recognised by the government of India. The homegrown space-tech startups are intent on climbing onboard the business of human spaceflights. And are eyeing this very attractive long-term market of human transport, be it for tourism, exploration or other space-based services. But experts felt these start-ups should not depend on India’s human spaceflight programme and instead concentrate on manufacturing satellite constellations. Satellite constellations are currently being purchased or sourced from a foreign entity. Private players can also build up their revenue first by picking-up commercial contracts, and catering to the country’s own defence sector’s space-related needs.

Russia-China space alliance with new weapons that will destroy the US economy and trigger mass blackouts

Patrick Knox, 12-23, 21, The Sun, Putin reveals chilling new alliance with China to create space weapons that ‘could plunge West into the DARK AGES’, https://www.the-sun.com/news/4328484/putin-alliance-china-space-weapons-plunge-west-dark-ages/

VLADIMIR Putin has revealed a new alliance with China to create space weapons that could unleash havoc in the West if its satellites were targeted. Speaking at his annual news conference, the Russian strongman leader said the partnership was “strategic” amid growing tensions with NATO. Vladimir Putin shaking hands with the Chinese president Xi Jinping 5 Vladimir Putin shaking hands with the Chinese president Xi JinpingCredit: AP 5 As previously revealed by Sun Online, Russian and Chinese space weapons could send the West into the Dark Ages should it destroy satellites. It is feared an orbital onslaught could shut down hospitals, crash the economy, knock out communications, and cause mass blackouts. At his press conference today, Putin said: “We cooperate with China in the security area. “China’s armed forces are equipped with the most advanced weapons systems to a large extent. “We are even developing certain high-tech types of weapons. We are working in space, aircraft areas.” The revelation of the alliance between Russia and China comes amid deepening concerns that Putin is plotting an invasion of his neighbour Ukraine in 2022 with more than 175,000 Russian troops said to have been detected on the border. She said: “Bringing China into the conversation is a deadly addition for the West. “This would mean America’s standing in the world will be absolutely shot to pieces. “If you have Russia and China working together the US is going to go into absolute panic.” “Because China is on its way up in the world. It’s not only a massive economy – they have so much power. “You would have China working with Russia and them both having this anxiety over the West – and that brings them together. That’s a really terrifying prospect.” Meanwhile experts told The Sun Online warned Chinese and Russian space weapons could plunge the West into the Dark Ages. Power supplies, hospitals, businesses and transport networks could be disrupted as satellites are lost leaving those under attack both literally and figuratively in the dark. British military chiefs have previously warned there could be an attack from space within the next two years – something which has also been dubbed a potential “Pearl Harbor in space” for the US. Allen Antrobus, a military space expert at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, Herts, told The Sun Online he “absolutely” believed there was an increased threat of an attack in space. His warnings echo those of other experts who fear that Britain is at risk of “an economic blackout of frightening proportions”. Space industry body UKspace admitted firms have very little ability to defend key data and infrastructure should the West come under attack from space.

Combined government action and private enterprise leading to an explosive growth in space exploration

Paul Brinkman, UPI, 12-23, 21, NASA, private space industry may reach new heights in 2022, https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2021/12/23/space-new-year-2022-spacex-starliner-Starship/7551639152913/

Dec. 23 (UPI) — Space exploration may shatter records in 2022 with the launch of the most powerful rocket ever in a flight beyond the moon, a space telescope that will peer into the dawn of the universe and groundbreaking science on Mars. The New Year also may see SpaceX’s deep space Starship rocket fly above the atmosphere, expansion of space tourism and new rocket launches from companies such as United Launch Alliance and Firefly Aerospace. Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to dominate the global launch industry again with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy after launching a record 31 orbital missions in 2021. Most of those launches will carry the company’s own Starlink broadband Internet communications satellites. The year ahead also will see a continuation of NASA astronaut launches by SpaceX to the International Space Station and many new accomplishments, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in an interview. Russia strikes deal with NASA for first cosmonaut on SpaceX flight Nelson said he also is certain Congress will provide sufficient funding for a return to the moon in the next few years. “I’m confident because the American people do not want to land [again] second to China,” Nelson said. “And neither does Joe Biden, and he reflects the will of the American people.” NASA’s big new moon rocket is stacked, awaiting launch NASA plans to launch the massive SLS moon rocket in March or April for the Artemis I mission. It will pack a thrust of 8.8 million pounds –15% more than the Apollo-era Saturn V. With that power, the rocket would send an uncrewed Orion capsule 280,000 miles from Earth, much farther than the previous record set by Apollo 13 at 249,000 miles in 1972. NASA plans to collect data first from the rocket, and then for weeks from the capsule as it orbits the moon, flies 40,000 miles past and returns to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The space agency had planned to launch the SLS rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida in February. But NASA postponed that target date in mid-December due to a problem with an engine flight controller, which is to be replaced. NASA plans to land astronauts on the moon by 2024, but the agency has acknowledged that goal may be difficult to achieve because of a lack of congressional funding. Looking for signs of life on Mars NASA’s rovers, Perseverance and Curiosity, along with the Ingenuity helicopter, will continue roaming Mars, looking for signs of ancient life. Perseverance will continue drilling rock samples in the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater, which NASA believes was an ancient lake that could have supported primitive life. Tiny Ingenuity will continue scouting for the rover after 18 successful flights. No one knows how long the 4-pound helicopter will last on Mars. Ingenuity was designed for a 30-day test purely to demonstrate flight in the thin Martian air. But it has now flown 18 times over eight months. And NASA leadership fully supports funding the helicopter as long as it can fly, administrator Nelson said. As the robotic explorers make progress, NASA and the European Space Agency plan to send another mission to Mars in 2028 to collect drilled rock samples and bring them to Earth. SpaceX and Starship NASA intends to send people to Mars and the moon, and the agency has chosen SpaceX’s Starship to provide the first human lunar lander for such a mission when it happens. Starship and its booster would tower over the SLS and the Saturn V as the largest rocket ever — more than 390 feet high. The ship is designed to take people and cargo to the moon and Mars, and is considered a key to Musk’s plan to launch thousands of Starlink communications satellites. But Starship hasn’t flown in space, and SpaceX hasn’t set a date for another test flight. If and when the company sends Starship into space, it would fly around the globe, re-enter the atmosphere and splash down off the coast of Hawaii, according to plans filed with federal regulatory agencies. But all these plans were shrouded in uncertainly after Musk warned company employees in an email the day after Thanksgiving that snags in Starship Raptor engine production threatened SpaceX’s progress and viability. “What it comes down to is that we face a genuine risk of bankruptcy if we can’t achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year,” Musk said in the email, which was first obtained by the website Space Explored. Nelson expressed confidence in SpaceX Starship development, but said he’s pushing for extra congressional appropriations to fund a competitor, such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. The Amazon founder’s company proposed a separate human lander in a three-way competition with SpaceX and Alabama-based Dynetics, but NASA said lack of funding forced it to choose only SpaceX. “I work … daily to try to get the additional funds to make the process competitive again,” Nelson said. “I believe that you’re going to see some exciting things coming out of SpaceX with regard to the Starship having its first flight test in orbit — sometime early next year.” Many space industry observers have confidence in SpaceX, but aren’t sure if the Starship design can be successful, said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts. “If they can fly the upper stage in orbit, and bring it back down successfully, they will change the space industry forever,” McDowell said. “The tests they’ve done so far are amazing, but it’s not clear to me when or if they will ever accomplish orbital flight.” James Webb Space Telescope Another major space project that took longer than anticipated to build is due to reveal new secrets of the universe in 2022. The most powerful observatory ever built, the James Webb Space Telescope, is fully booked to peer at other planets and the origins of the universe for a year after its planned launch from the European Space Agency’s spaceport in South America on Christmas morning. The telescope will travel 1 million miles from Earth and orbit the sun. The astronomy community will be waiting anxiously for the telescope’s deployment, which could take up to a month, McDowell said. “I’ve been watching my friends on Twitter panic about this launch. … Everyone is nervous as hell,” he said. The Webb telescope will look billions of light years into the universe’s history, according to NASA. Its powerful infrared instruments are designed to see more clearly and a few hundred million light years farther than the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists have scheduled about 400 studies that could reveal secrets about the oldest galaxies, inhabitable planets and even the dawn of the universe, according to NASA and astronomers involved in the project. ADVERTISEMENT Preparing for something going wrong, engineers designed the Webb telescope with 50 deployment mechanisms and 178 releases or latches. They’ve even practiced shaking and spinning the observatory to jostle anything that doesn’t unfurl property, such as its tennis court-sized sunshield. “It’s a crazy overcomplicated machine,” McDowell said. “There are so many things that can go wrong, and it would be astonishing if we don’t have at least one or two heart-stopping moments.” The sunshield will keep solar energy from interfering with the cold infrared instruments on the other side, which will be chilled to about -394 degrees F. By comparison, the coldest temperature recorded on Earth was in Antarctica at -128.6 F. ULA Vulcan rocket coming along Another big rocket that was to have been launched by now — United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan — should see its maiden voyage in late 2022, company CEO Tory Bruno said in an interview. “The rocket for the first launch is in the final stages of production and testing in our Decatur factory, and operations have been completed at [Cape Canaveral Space Force Station] Launch Complex 41 to test receiving, assembling and transporting a Vulcan to the launch pad,” Bruno said. ULA has been the primary launch provider for U.S. national security missions with the Atlas V rocket, which the company intends to retire. The new rocket relies on BE-4 engines manufactured by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company, but they haven’t been delivered to ULA yet, Bruno said. ADVERTISEMENT He said the engines have performed better than expected in testing. “The first flight engines are being manufactured. We look forward to receiving them in early 2022 to support the inaugural launch later in the year,” Bruno said. ULA also intends to launch Boeing’s Starliner capsule on an Atlas V rocket for the spacecraft’s second and delayed uncrewed test flight bound for the International Space Station, he said. If that flight is successful, Starliner could carry astronauts by the end of the year on regular missions launched by ULA.

Private sector leads in space now

Pfaff, 12-23, 21, Deb Pfaff, Ph.D., is an associate professor of research with the Ann Caracristi Institute for Intelligence Research at the National Intelligence University (NIU). She has 20 years of government service, 17 with the intelligence community. Prior to the NIU, she served as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, The Hill, Spacing out: Will we allow the privatization of space to eclipse NASA and NRO?, https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/585675-spacing-out-will-we-allow-the-privatization-of-space-to-eclipse-nasa

Who owns space? According to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, no one. Yet, perhaps according to Elon Musk (SpaceX), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), and Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), it’s the billionaire with the deepest pockets. Just ask William Shatner, who boarded a Blue Origin rocket into space in October. One thing is for sure, the private sector has the edge on the government in space technology and capabilities. And if they own space, they own the future.   Space used to be distant, ethereal, untouchable — accessible to the average person only through the lens of a filmmaker or a backyard telescope. Now, we experience space every day, perhaps without even realizing it. Use GPS to find a friend’s house and you’re relying on space. Shop for a home on Zillow? Also space. Match with a date on Tinder — you guessed it, space is involved. Rely on the government to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide for national security? That’s space.   Instead of ushering us into “the final frontier,” the government has allowed huge private corporations to edge it out. Not only that, but NASA and the National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO) have even advanced private-sector capabilities through lucrative contracts.  Particularly unhelpful was the Space Act of 2015, which gave corporations and individuals ownership over the resources they extract from space. Proponents argue that private companies can reach farther, faster and cheaper than the government, and divvying up the mission is essential for maximizing American interests. But nowhere is the risk for privatization of national security greater than in space — and it already has begun.

Private sector control of space destroys national security

Pfaff, 12-23, 21, Deb Pfaff, Ph.D., is an associate professor of research with the Ann Caracristi Institute for Intelligence Research at the National Intelligence University (NIU). She has 20 years of government service, 17 with the intelligence community. Prior to the NIU, she served as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, The Hill, Spacing out: Will we allow the privatization of space to eclipse NASA and NRO?, https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/585675-spacing-out-will-we-allow-the-privatization-of-space-to-eclipse-nasa

Who owns space? According to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, no one. Yet, perhaps according to Elon Musk (SpaceX), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), and Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), it’s the billionaire with the deepest pockets. Just ask William Shatner, who boarded a Blue Origin rocket into space in October. One thing is for sure, the private sector has the edge on the government in space technology and capabilities. And if they own space, they own the future.   Space used to be distant, ethereal, untouchable — accessible to the average person only through the lens of a filmmaker or a backyard telescope. Now, we experience space every day, perhaps without even realizing it. Use GPS to find a friend’s house and you’re relying on space. Shop for a home on Zillow? Also space. Match with a date on Tinder — you guessed it, space is involved. Rely on the government to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide for national security? That’s space.   Instead of ushering us into “the final frontier,” the government has allowed huge private corporations to edge it out. Not only that, but NASA and the National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO) have even advanced private-sector capabilities through lucrative contracts.  Particularly unhelpful was the Space Act of 2015, which gave corporations and individuals ownership over the resources they extract from space. Proponents argue that private companies can reach farther, faster and cheaper than the government, and divvying up the mission is essential for maximizing American interests. But nowhere is the risk for privatization of national security greater than in space — and it already has begun.  Although most Americans are awed by the recent triumphs of civilian flight into space, surveys suggest that a small majority of Americans still want the government to remain in control of launching military satellites. This is the purview of the NRO, which is responsible for providing the nation’s space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance architecture and supporting both strategic and tactical intelligence missions. But that small majority is stratified according to age.   In fact, while 65 percent of respondents over the age of 55 think the government alone should launch military satellites, only 44 percent of respondents under age 34 do. The federal government’s benign neglect of the space program, combined with laws that aren’t sophisticated enough to defend the public interest and the private sector’s advanced technical capabilities, have all but assured a private-sector monopoly.    The big problem is that the intelligence community hasn’t asked itself: What would space with a strong private-sector presence look like? While foreign adversaries have demonstrated both the intent and capability to wreak havoc on our space assets, the private sector here at home could be an equally dangerous, if somewhat unwitting, threat. Our track record with privatization hasn’t been meritorious — think monopolies, loss of democratic voice, environmental catastrophes, a lack of accountability, and reduced information sharing, to name a few. Now add a billionaire collecting intelligence information on China and you may have … well, a truly galactic disaster in the making.   As more and more of the private sector enters the space race, space will be dominated by billionaires looking to advance their interests, rather than the interests of America. Space is a crucial sphere — it represents 25 percent of today’s economy — but it will be virtually out of government reach and in the hands of the wealthy few. (The United States of Amazon, anyone?)   What stands between representative democracy and the wholesale privatization of space? Right now, nothing, because America is focused on a foreign threat, and NRO isn’t convincing anyone otherwise. For an organization that stepped out of the shadows over 30 years ago, it has done little to publicly demonstrate its abiding presence and worth. And this persuasion is imperative to understanding the danger posed by a continued explosion of private industry, unmatched by government resourcing. NRO has spent over six decades providing space-based intelligence in support of U.S. military capabilities. It has supported worldwide disaster relief operations, such as those caused by the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. NRO also provides unclassified, publicly available imagery for environmental research, and has developed technologies used to detect and fight breast cancer. But it can’t seem to find its way out of the secretive black hole it dug itself into during the 1960s Cold War.   NRO needs to do some soul-searching and lead the discussion on space privatization within the intelligence community. Then it needs to make all of those findings public, as much as it can. This is a conversation with compelling implications for the future of our nation. The American public deserves to understand what’s at stake and to be privy to a transparent strategy for averting the most serious of consequences, if that even remains a possibility.

Privatization leaves space in control of the rich and destroys democracy

Pfaff, 12-23, 21, Deb Pfaff, Ph.D., is an associate professor of research with the Ann Caracristi Institute for Intelligence Research at the National Intelligence University (NIU). She has 20 years of government service, 17 with the intelligence community. Prior to the NIU, she served as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, The Hill, Spacing out: Will we allow the privatization of space to eclipse NASA and NRO?, https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/585675-spacing-out-will-we-allow-the-privatization-of-space-to-eclipse-nasa

The big problem is that the intelligence community hasn’t asked itself: What would space with a strong private-sector presence look like? While foreign adversaries have demonstrated both the intent and capability to wreak havoc on our space assets, the private sector here at home could be an equally dangerous, if somewhat unwitting, threat. Our track record with privatization hasn’t been meritorious — think monopolies, loss of democratic voice, environmental catastrophes, a lack of accountability, and reduced information sharing, to name a few. Now add a billionaire collecting intelligence information on China and you may have … well, a truly galactic disaster in the making.   As more and more of the private sector enters the space race, space will be dominated by billionaires looking to advance their interests, rather than the interests of America. Space is a crucial sphere — it represents 25 percent of today’s economy — but it will be virtually out of government reach and in the hands of the wealthy few. (The United States of Amazon, anyone?)   What stands between representative democracy and the wholesale privatization of space? Right now, nothing, because America is focused on a foreign threat, and NRO isn’t convincing anyone otherwise

Private sector creates space junk

Samson Amore, 12-22, 21, Space Tourism, Mergers, Debris and Other Space Tech Trends to Watch in 2022, https://dot.la/space-tech-trends-in-2022-2656085276.html

What goes up must come down, eventually. As private companies such as Musk’s satellite internet firm Starlink launch more satellites into space alongside a growing number of government launches, the final frontier will become even more crowded. About 3,000 inactive satellites are still in space, the World Economic Forum reported in May. Experts say there’s a chance that satellites (or the debris of one-time satellites) could create a greater hazard to essential systems such as GPS. It’s also a potential problem for the ISS crew, which could see missions jeopardized if the station were struck by a piece of debris. As larger pieces of debris inevitably return to Earth, expect to see more instances of the panic that followed in May when huge pieces of a Chinese rocket landed off the Maldivian coast. Braun said the JPL is keeping an eye on this, especially after the crew had to go into “shelter mode,” hiding in crew capsules for safety in November as a piece of a Russian anti-satellite weapon test went flying by. “It’s becoming more and more of a problem, because there have been both accidents and deliberate acts where people have proven that they could blow up something in low Earth orbit,” Braun said. When they do, he said, they create a dangerous “swarm of debris” that can just hurtle around the vacuum of space forever if left unchecked.

Private sector space investment will increase

Ines Ferre, 12-21, 21, The ‘huge year’ for space investing expected to continue into 2022, https://news.yahoo.com/the-huge-year-for-space-investing-expected-to-continue-into-2022-215906995.html

This year’s historic momentum in space tourism is expected to continue well into 2022 and beyond. “We had thirteen human space flight missions, three private companies had milestone historic missions,” said Chad Anderson, managing partner at Space Capital, a seed venture capital firm. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX all conducted missions throughout the year. “The biggest of those was the all civilian Inspiration4 mission that launched with SpaceX,” Anderson told Yahoo Finance Live. The journey went down in history as an all-civilian crew was launched into orbit. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with NASA's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft onboard from Launch Complex 39A, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Fla. The IXPE spacecraft is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP) A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft onboard from Launch Complex 39A, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Fla. The IXPE spacecraft is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP) More On Tuesday, SpaceX launched a cargo capsule to the International Space Station carrying Christmas presents and supplies. The liftoff was the private space company’s 100th successful launch. SpaceX had a massive 2021. “They had 31 launches this year, nearly all of them, 94% were on flight proven rockets, boosters that had flown before,” said Anderson. “This is a really step forward in the space economy for reducing costs and providing more access,” he added. Next year, SpaceX’s fully reusable vehicle Starship is expected to fly into orbit in a highly anticipated launch. “Starship is going to be a massive, 100-tons to orbit, fully reusable system. It can do things that we’ve never done before at a price point that we’ve never done them at,” said Anderson. More than $10 billion has been invested into the overall space infrastructure through Q3 of 2021, and $25 billion across all space technologies, according data compiled by Space Capital. “This is going to be an even bigger, more historic year for investing into the category,” said Anderson.

Private space sector strong, key to the economy and technology innovation

Sean Ludwig Editorial Director, Emerging Digital Platforms, 12-20, 21, Space Economy: 4 Trends to Watch in 2022, https://www.uschamber.com/space/space-economy-4-trends-to-watch-in-2022

One trillion dollars. That’s the economic potential of space commerce for businesses by 2040, according to estimates from investment bank Morgan Stanley. Working together, private sector business leaders and government agencies have transformed what was once merely a dream of travel among the stars into a fully functioning global market — forming private aerospace companies, launching rockets and satellites, and even creating opportunities for space travel. In fact, this year there have been 64 commercial space flights, more than double the number in recent years, with everyone from famed actor William Shatner and NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan among those taking the trip. To be sure, the growth in space exploration and the private aerospace business opens a host of economic possibilities, from new markets for businesses to job opportunities for people. “Space is a domain of commerce now, so much so that investors have committed nearly $31 billion over the past 10 years to make it so,” Charity Weeden, Vice President of Global Space Policy at Astroscale, said at the recent LAUNCH Space Summit 2021 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Those investors also include in some part the U.S. government, because it is understood that the economic strength and ingenuity of the United States space industry is one of our greatest jewels.” From well-established players to business moguls building rockets to launch themselves into space to entrepreneurs creating companies to collect orbital debris and make space travel more sustainable, the space economy is poised for a growth trajectory similar to one of its rocket launches — straight up into the stratosphere. During the LAUNCH Space Summit, executives from companies like Boeing, Rocket Lab, and Space Tango, as well as officials from the U.S. Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration shared insights about the potential of space commerce for businesses. Here are four trends they identified that will shape the space economy in 2022. Private investors are fueling growth This year marks the biggest year on record for private equity and venture capital investment in space companies, with more than $10 billion invested in the industry through the third quarter, according to research firm Space Capital. Next year is likely to be even bigger, as investment funds look to provide capital to startups and early-stage space ventures in the hopes of a big return. The more private capital there is to fuel space ventures, the faster companies can scale and new innovations can come to market, which in turn, will fuel further growth. Such investments helped Rocket Lab go public in August, according to CEO Peter Beck. “If you think of the space industry, at least on the private side, it’s been played for a very long time with just enough capital to get things going … but not large amounts of capital to really reach its potential,” Beck said. “And I think this year has been really transformational for the industry because there’s a significant number of companies that have IPOed or raised private rounds of substantial capital. And that’s really going to help the industry to grow and start to execute the programs of ambition that have so long been dreamed about.” Lisa Callahan, Vice President and General Manager of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space, echoed this sentiment. She notes the movement in the private sector will benefit science and research for Earth as well. “The rapid growth that we’re seeing in this market is amazing,” said Callahan. “There’s a huge amount of new technology and innovation that’s flowing into the space sector [and it has] a huge amount of private and capital investment coming into the market. And this investment in my mind is not just going to benefit the science and exploration that we do in [low earth orbit] and beyond. But it’s also going to create innovations that can benefit us back here on Earth.” Public agencies embrace commercial partnerships One of the biggest trends we’ve seen in space-related activities in recent years and will continue well into 2022 is the rise of public-private partnerships versus governments doing things only for themselves. For example, the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida has grown tremendously as the top launch pad in the world for both public and private launches. “Last year, we had more orbital launches than any single location on the planet,” Kelvin Manning, Deputy Center Director for the John F. Kennedy Space Center, said. Manning says a key factor in the decision to partner on private launch was “long-term sustainability and affordability” for NASA. “Our processing and launching infrastructure is available not only for the government but also for our commercial partners. That way, we distribute the costs among multiple users and reduce the costs for NASA.” The public-private partnerships also can help avert threats, including protecting humans currently in space or going to space. Governments and companies are working together to better manage space traffic and contain orbital debris. “It’s no longer just about machines — there are humans at risk here,” says Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt, Deputy Commander of Space Operations Command, U.S. Space Force. “So, it is really important that we get traffic management right because it is dangerous for human life. I think to continue to grow we have to do as Charity mentioned earlier. This is a partnership with our international commercial partners here at the combined Space Operations Center. We work with our coalition partners and share information on both space traffic management and threats day in and day out.” Additionally, the long-standing public-private partnership between NASA and Boeing has enabled considerable progress on the International Space Station and what space stations can look like in 2022 and beyond. “Boeing has worked with NASA since the development phase and has helped design, deliver, integrate, and operate the nation’s largest orbital laboratory for NASA and its international partners,” Dr. Michelle Parker, Vice President and Deputy General Manager of Boeing Space and Launch, said. “Our success together has led us to 23 years of the ISS in orbit, with 21 of them having a consistent crew presence in space. … The lifecycle of NASA Space Station now represents a model of how future space stations will develop over time.” Growth drives job creation, and not just for engineers and scientists An important facet for the space economy is also the growth of jobs — and not just for rocket scientists. The number of jobs in the space economy is estimated to be somewhere around 400,000 today, but it is projected to rise to 1.5 million jobs or more in the future. In fact, an entire labor ecosystem is needed for space commerce to meet its full economic potential. Included among the areas where workers are needed are accounting, marketing, design, I.T., and manufacturing, along with STEM jobs traditionally associated with space. The advanced manufacturing sector, for example, has seen a boost from launch services, says Steve Dickson, Administrator for the FAA. “U.S. launch services rely on advanced manufacturing and were the source of 40% of all commercial launches, more than any other single country,” says Dickson. “So, this brings more than $2 billion a year in revenues to our manufacturing industries. And all this stuff is made in America.” Moreover, the next generation will seek out new jobs related specifically to the space economy, says Marshall Smith, Senior Vice President of Space Systems at Nanoracks. And these workers won’t have worked in space or science beforehand either. “This rapid growth is going to bring in a new, young, diverse generation into the space world instead of just … engineers,” Smith says. “You’re going to see a lot of diversity, [including] marketing, design, and manufacturing — enough to create a whole economy. It’s going to require everybody to see a massive change in the way we do business in space and on the ground.”

Investment in private space industry increasing, it is creating high quality products and serving customers

McCarthy, 12-17, 21, Michael McCarthy has been an operating partner and adviser to space companies for more than two decades. As an early employee of Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, now Maxar Technologies, he helped build its commercial business unit–forging the company’s relationship with Google Earth and Google Maps. His operational management experience in the new space economy includes environments in start-ups, funding rounds, acquisitions, competitive mergers, and IPOs, Opinion, What Are We Really Witnessing in the New Space Economy?, https://www.satellitetoday.com/opinion/2021/12/17/what-are-we-really-witnessing-in-the-new-space-economy/

We hear so much about the New Space economy in the news lately, especially with eye-catching headlines that include celebrities taking day trips to space. But what is the New Space economy, and why should we pay attention to it? Although there are probably many ways to describe or define the current state of the industry, comparing it to what it used to be might be most helpful. The original space industry was centralized, national, and bureaucratic. It was essentially limited to state-run programs with limited numbers of public-private partnerships. The New Space economy is global, entrepreneurial, and accessible. It is increasingly diversified and expanding with private players across a variety of sub-sectors. The global space economy was valued at about $447 billion in 2020, 55% higher than a decade ago, according to The Space Report 2021 Q2. This is truly astronomical growth and made possible because the new space economy is finally connecting to the larger economy. But to define the New Space economy as “new” might be a misnomer or not entirely accurate. An industry transformation has been underway for decades. Government agencies like NASA and the U.S. Air Force have long collaborated with private companies to advance space technology. The Communications Satellite Act of 1962 paved the way for a commercial communications satellite system; the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 went even further, requiring NASA to “seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.” And by 2010, nearly one-third of worldwide space launches were commercial and NASA was announcing the end of the space shuttle program. The government’s push to outsource space activities not considered core to its mission brought on a mega-trend for the industry — commercialization. This trend is behind the transformation in the space economy. But if the government was the initial impetus, what are the primary drivers sustaining commercialization today? At its core, it is the sensibility that it is all about the customer. What the space economy is offering is finally resonating with the customer. For a long time, companies in this industry were selling the satellite or the technology, and customers understandably could not connect this to their need. So, some providers in the industry realizing that it was not about the satellite chose to start talking about the data. But still, the customer could not intuitively understand or consume that either. Now, more and more providers in the industry are realizing that it’s not about the data either, rather it’s about meeting the customer where they are and offering answers. In turn, this improved customer-centric mentality is catching the attention of investors and the industry is becoming, for the for first time, more investable. Investors are finally seeing deals that jibe with their investment terms such as real organic growth, economies of scale, and paths to profitability. Outside investment in startup New Space firms has risen from less than $500 million per year from 2001 to 2008 to roughly $2.5 billion per year in 2015 and 2016. Investment in startup space companies hit a new record of $7.6 billion in 2020, according to Bryce Tech’s Start-Up Space 2021 report. The increased capital means more players bringing more technologies to the marketplace. All of this translates to lower costs, reduced barriers to entry, shortened timelines for launches, and more customer-centric offerings. So, what does this all mean? It means that the New Space economy is the Old Space economy perfecting. Perfect markets are characterized by having unlimited number of buyers and sellers, identical or substitutable products, no barriers to entry or exit, transparent information on products and prices. Value chains in perfect markets have tighter linkages typically as a result of partnerships that form to smooth discrepancies from technology advancements. Perfect markets also have connections to the larger economy and are therefore naturally more resilient. We see this in the Earth Observation (EO) sector especially where satellite design/operations, data processing from those satellites, analytics using that data, and end-user apps that provide business decisions derived from the analytics are now a much tighter chain. Look no further than the new business units of Amazon Web Services (AWS Aerospace and Satellite) and Microsoft (Azure Space) for validation that this value chain is prized. The most telling indication that the market is perfecting is the consolidation that we are starting to see. Larger players who own discrete segments of the value chain understand and desire to control more of that value chain. These players can see that owning the value chain gets them closer to ever-increasing number of customers who are seeking answers about our planet and our environment. Some might attribute consolidation to the emergence of the space special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) that leaves newly-minted public companies flush with cash and nowhere to put it. But consolidation is a natural occurrence in any maturing industry and would be happening with or without the presence of SPACs. Consolidation is very apparent in the infrastructure segment of the value chain. Recent examples include: Viasat’s recent purchases of Inmarsat and RigNet, and Spire Global’s acquisition of ExactEarth, which ties Spire’s satellite data to maritime analytics. The consolidation is a good thing because it helps to establish economies of scale that drive down the cost of goods and services and make the marketplace more competitive – and therefore affordable – for consumers. The New Space economy is by no means perfect, perfect markets are only theoretical. But the New Space economy is finally more perfect than it was 20 years ago — driving innovation and encouraging new areas of investment.

Government will fund space militarization independent of appropriation of resources by private companies

Sandra Erwin, 12-16, 21, Space News, Defense policy bill gives a budget boost to space programs, https://spacenews.com/defense-policy-bill-gives-a-budget-boost-to-space-programs/

WASHINGTON — The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act — which Congress just passed and now awaits the president’s signature — adds more than $645 million to Defense Department space programs above the Biden administration’s request, analysts estimated. “Space industry leaders on the whole should be pleased with the NDAA,” said a Dec. 16 report by the consulting firm Avascent. The president’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 includes $15.3 billion for procurement, research and development of space systems and technologies, an increase of 13.8% above what Congress appropriated in 2021. The NDAA authorizes a $645.7 million increase — 4.2% more than the president’s request, and 18.6% more than 2021 appropriations. Of the $645.7 million boost, $548.7 million is for U.S. Space Force satellites and launch vehicle programs, and includes $205.2 million for classified programs, said the Avascent report. Space funding in the NDAA also was increased for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Space Development Agency and the Missile Defense Agency. Congress in the NDAA “sent a clear message that it’s ‘all in’ for space,” the report said. Avascent analyst Andrew Penn, who co-wrote the report, noted that funding authorized in the NDAA still has to be appropriated by Congress before it can be spent so it’s still not a given that appropriators will approve every item in the NDAA. “The appropriators make the final calls. But the NDAA does ensure there is a high enough ceiling for them to work with and represents a bipartisan starting point,” said Penn. The Congressional Research Service said the NDAA historically has “provided a fairly reliable indicator of congressional sentiment on subsequent appropriations for particular programs.”

Private space industry will survive without appropriation of space; they will get government contracts

Quartz, 12-16, 21, Can private industry get NASA to the Moon?, https://qz.com/emails/space-business/2102710/

The next American to set foot on the Moon will travel in a NASA spacecraft, launched from Earth atop a NASA rocket. But the space agency will buy practically everything else for the mission from commercial suppliers. NASA is in the midst of a great experiment: Can commercial partnerships—like the ones that now provide cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station—deliver the same cost savings in deep space? Compared to so-called cost-plus contracts, in which the government is on the hook for any cost overruns or program delays, commercial partnerships are fixed price. Cost overruns are borne by the contractors. This approach saved NASA billions of dollars in low-Earth orbit when the agency needed to replace capability lost by the retirement of the space shuttle. It also enabled the rise of SpaceX, the world’s most successful private space company. Heady with that success, NASA is extending its commercial ambitions toward the Moon. Spacesuits, a new lunar space station, payload delivery systems, and even the human lunar landing system itself are being developed with fixed-priced commercial contracts. Dozens of companies are vying to provide these services.

Private sector won’t get us to Mars

Quartz, 12-16, 21, Can private industry get NASA to the Moon?, https://qz.com/emails/space-business/2102710/

Notably, we have yet to see success in commercial partnerships beyond Earth orbit (science missions to the Moon won’t begin until 2022 at the earliest). But that hasn’t stopped calls to extend this model even further. A recent study released by Caltech’s Keck Institute for Space Studies calls for a commercial partnerships approach at Mars with a special focus on delivering payloads to the surface—currently the exclusive domain of the US and Chinese governments. I should make it clear that I support this approach and am excited about it. Nothing like this has happened before, and it is important to grow the space business beyond the small set of stalwart government contractors. But we should also understand the outcome is not a given. There is no guarantee this method will work beyond the relatively forgiving environment of low-Earth orbit, which benefits from ease of communication, low launch costs, and an extant commercial market. The Moon offers none of those benefits, to say nothing of Mars. There is no historical comparison to draw from here. This is an experiment. And experiments can fail. We’ve already seen failures. Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, dissolved in 2018. Bigelow Aerospace, purveyor of inflatable space habitats, laid off its entire workforce in 2020 and turned over ownership of its space station module to NASA. The private lunar lander Beresheet crashed during its landing attempt in 2019. And according to Elon Musk, even SpaceX faces a real threat of bankruptcy due to a troubled engine development program. The motivation for cost-plus contracting was to ensure that government requirements wouldn’t drive a contractor into bankruptcy when tasked with developing a novel project. No one had ever built a Moon lander before Apollo, for example, and no one knew how much it would cost. For national priorities like Apollo or the International Space Station, the goal was to develop the final product, regardless of the cost. In that sense, the government risked dollars for a guaranteed capability. The commercial services model flips that risk posture. The government no longer risks cost, but instead faces a possibility that its commercial partner may run out of money, fail to provide the promised service, or otherwise collapse. It no longer pays to guarantee a final product. In mature markets, this risk is mitigated by having a number of providers to select from should one or two fail. But deep space is not yet a mature marketplace. There is no market and no significant customers other than government space agencies. This can all change, and NASA and its commercial partners are betting that it will. But again, it’s a risk. We are at a point in the history of space exploration where experimentation like this is necessary. We know the outcome of the old way of doing business. Cost-plus programs like NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew vehicle are many years delayed and billions of dollars over budget. Successfully developing commercial services at the Moon would free up billions of dollars for NASA to invest in cutting edge programs beyond the realm of commercial activities, like in-space nuclear power, science-driven exploration of the planets and cosmos, or the search for life beyond Earth. NASA has placed its future of humans on the lunar surface on a single commercial partnership, with SpaceX—a mighty risk considering it represents the future of US human spaceflight. The next decade of lunar science now depends on a handful of unproven commercial providers. But that’s OK. Let’s embrace the risk, and be ready to support NASA and other agencies that dare to experiment with new ways of extending humanity into the cosmos.

Referenced report: https://kiss.caltech.edu/final_reports/Access2Mars_final_report.pdf

Without private space companies, space research will collapse

Ned Potter, 12-16, 21, The Race for the Next-Gen Space Station NASA hopes private companies will replace the ISS by 2030—but which one(s)?, https://spectrum.ieee.org/private-space-stations#toggle-gdpr

But the race to avoid that gap may have already been lost—and if that warning seems ominous, it also comes from the space agency’s own in-house watchdog, the Office of Inspector General, or OIG. “In our judgment, even if early design maturation is achieved in 2025—a challenging prospect in itself—a commercial platform is not likely to be ready until well after 2030,” the OIG said in an audit report. It said that without a working station, “the nascent low Earth orbit commercial space economy would likely collapse, causing cascading impacts to commercial space transportation capabilities, in-space manufacturing, and microgravity research.”

Referencced report: https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-22-005.pdf

 

Private space industry will survive without appropriation of space; they will get government contracts

Quartz, 12-16, 21, Can private industry get NASA to the Moon?, https://qz.com/emails/space-business/2102710/

The next American to set foot on the Moon will travel in a NASA spacecraft, launched from Earth atop a NASA rocket. But the space agency will buy practically everything else for the mission from commercial suppliers. NASA is in the midst of a great experiment: Can commercial partnerships—like the ones that now provide cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station—deliver the same cost savings in deep space? Compared to so-called cost-plus contracts, in which the government is on the hook for any cost overruns or program delays, commercial partnerships are fixed price. Cost overruns are borne by the contractors. This approach saved NASA billions of dollars in low-Earth orbit when the agency needed to replace capability lost by the retirement of the space shuttle. It also enabled the rise of SpaceX, the world’s most successful private space company. Heady with that success, NASA is extending its commercial ambitions toward the Moon. Spacesuits, a new lunar space station, payload delivery systems, and even the human lunar landing system itself are being developed with fixed-priced commercial contracts. Dozens of companies are vying to provide these services.

Private sector won’t get us to Mars, many reasons private space exploration will fail

Quartz, 12-16, 21, Can private industry get NASA to the Moon?, https://qz.com/emails/space-business/2102710/

Notably, we have yet to see success in commercial partnerships beyond Earth orbit (science missions to the Moon won’t begin until 2022 at the earliest). But that hasn’t stopped calls to extend this model even further. A recent study released by Caltech’s Keck Institute for Space Studies calls for a commercial partnerships approach at Mars with a special focus on delivering payloads to the surface—currently the exclusive domain of the US and Chinese governments. I should make it clear that I support this approach and am excited about it. Nothing like this has happened before, and it is important to grow the space business beyond the small set of stalwart government contractors. But we should also understand the outcome is not a given. There is no guarantee this method will work beyond the relatively forgiving environment of low-Earth orbit, which benefits from ease of communication, low launch costs, and an extant commercial market. The Moon offers none of those benefits, to say nothing of Mars. There is no historical comparison to draw from here. This is an experiment. And experiments can fail. We’ve already seen failures. Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, dissolved in 2018. Bigelow Aerospace, purveyor of inflatable space habitats, laid off its entire workforce in 2020 and turned over ownership of its space station module to NASA. The private lunar lander Beresheet crashed during its landing attempt in 2019. And according to Elon Musk, even SpaceX faces a real threat of bankruptcy due to a troubled engine development program. The motivation for cost-plus contracting was to ensure that government requirements wouldn’t drive a contractor into bankruptcy when tasked with developing a novel project. No one had ever built a Moon lander before Apollo, for example, and no one knew how much it would cost. For national priorities like Apollo or the International Space Station, the goal was to develop the final product, regardless of the cost. In that sense, the government risked dollars for a guaranteed capability. The commercial services model flips that risk posture. The government no longer risks cost, but instead faces a possibility that its commercial partner may run out of money, fail to provide the promised service, or otherwise collapse. It no longer pays to guarantee a final product. In mature markets, this risk is mitigated by having a number of providers to select from should one or two fail. But deep space is not yet a mature marketplace. There is no market and no significant customers other than government space agencies. This can all change, and NASA and its commercial partners are betting that it will. But again, it’s a risk. We are at a point in the history of space exploration where experimentation like this is necessary. We know the outcome of the old way of doing business. Cost-plus programs like NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew vehicle are many years delayed and billions of dollars over budget. Successfully developing commercial services at the Moon would free up billions of dollars for NASA to invest in cutting edge programs beyond the realm of commercial activities, like in-space nuclear power, science-driven exploration of the planets and cosmos, or the search for life beyond Earth.

Referenced report: https://kiss.caltech.edu/final_reports/Access2Mars_final_report.pdf

Space station key to the orbital space economy

Ned Potter, 12-16, 21, The Race for the Next-Gen Space Station NASA hopes private companies will replace the ISS by 2030—but which one(s)?, https://spectrum.ieee.org/private-space-stations#toggle-gdpr

But the race to avoid that gap may have already been lost—and if that warning seems ominous, it also comes from the space agency’s own in-house watchdog, the Office of Inspector General, or OIG. “In our judgment, even if early design maturation is achieved in 2025—a challenging prospect in itself—a commercial platform is not likely to be ready until well after 2030,” the OIG said in an audit report. It said that without a working station, “the nascent low Earth orbit commercial space economy would likely collapse, causing cascading impacts to commercial space transportation capabilities, in-space manufacturing, and microgravity research.”

Referencced report: https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-22-005.pdf

Private companies will get people to Mars and beyond

Walsh & Gorman, 12-12, 21, News Hub, SPACE: Will the private space stations announced by NASA be better than their predecessors?,  Justin St. P. Walsh Associate professor of art history and archaeology, Chapman University; Alice Gorman, Associate Professor in Archaeology and Space Studies, Flinders University, https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/technology/2021/12/will-the-private-space-stations-announced-by-nasa-be-better-than-their-predecessors.html

A new era of space stations is about to kick off. NASA has announced three commercial space station proposals for development, joining an earlier proposal by Axiom Space. These proposals are the first attempts to create places for humans to live and work in space outside the framework of government space agencies. They’re part of what has been called ‘Space 4.0’, where space technology is driven by commercial opportunities. Many believe this is what it will take to get humans to Mars and beyond. There are currently two occupied space stations in low Earth orbit (less than 2,000km above Earth’s surface), both belonging to space agencies. The International Space Station (ISS) has been occupied since November 2000 with a typical population of seven crew members. The first module of the Chinese station Tiangong was launched in April 2021, and is intermittently occupied by three crew. The ISS, however, is slated to retire at the end of the decade, after nearly 30 years in orbit. It has been an important symbol of international cooperation following the ‘space race’ rivalry of the Cold War, and the first truly long-term space habitat. Plans for multiple private space stations represent a major shift in how space will be used. But will these stations change the way people live in space, or replicate the traditions of earlier space habitats? Commercialising life in space The change is driven by NASA’s support for commercialising space. This emphasis really started about a decade ago with the development of private cargo services to supply the ISS, like SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon, and private vehicles to deliver astronauts to orbit and the Moon, such as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, Boeing’s Starliner, and Lockheed Martin’s Orion capsules. Start-up Axiom Space was awarded a US$140 million contract by NASA in February 2020 for a private module to be attached to the ISS. Axiom announced Philippe Starck will design a luxurious interior. Starck compares it to “a nest, a comfortable and friendly egg”. There’s also a huge viewing area with two-metre-high windows for tourists to look out at Earth and space. The first module is due to be delivered to the ISS in 2024 or 2025, with others following each year. By the time the ISS is decommissioned around 2030, Axiom’s modules will become a free-flying station. Axiom has signed a contract with French-Italian contractor Thales Alenia Space, which built close to 50 percent of the ISS’s habitable volume for NASA and the European Space Agency, to produce its habitat. But there’s more. Three other groups have just been selected for the first phase of NASA’s Commercial LEO Destinations competition to build free-flying space stations to replace ISS. First, a group composed of Nanoracks, Voyager Space, and Lockheed Martin proposed a station called Starlab to provide research, manufacturing, and tourism opportunities. This was almost immediately followed by a competing project called Orbital Reef, by Blue Origin, Sierra Space, and Boeing. A third project, by Northrop Grumman, will be made of modules based on its existing Cygnus cargo vehicle. But how are space stations actually used? Less clear is whether the private space stations will be more liveable than earlier generations of space stations, like Salyut, Mir, and ISS. Typically, older space stations were designed to meet engineering constraints rather than starting with crew comfort. What lessons have been learned to make life better in space? Until recently, there was little research that focused on the lived experience of astronauts on space stations. That’s where social science approaches, such as the ones we are using in the International Space Station Archaeological Project, come in. Since 2015, we have developed new, data-driven understandings of how ISS crew adapt to life in a context of confinement, isolation, and microgravity. We observe and measure their interactions with built spaces and the objects surrounding them. What are the patterns of usage of different spaces and items? Asking these kinds of questions reveals information never considered in habitat design before. It turns out the crew don’t necessarily use the spaces inside the ISS the way they were designed – for example, they personalise different areas with visual displays of items that reflect their beliefs, interests, and identity. The crew also doesn’t use all spaces inside ISS equally. People from different genders, nationalities, and space agencies appear in some modules more than others among the 16 that make up the station. These patterns are related to the way work is divided up between crews and agencies, as well as the layout of the modules themselves. One big challenge of life in orbit is the lack of gravity. Objects like handrails, Velcro, bungee cords, and resealable plastic bags act as ‘gravity surrogates’ by fixing objects in place while everything else floats around. Our research is mapping how crew adapt these gravity surrogates to make their activities more efficient, and how the placement of the surrogates changes the way different spaces are used. Society and culture in space Even with added luxury features like large windows, designers and engineers have a long way to go to make space stations efficient, comfortable, and welcoming, especially for the predicted space tourism market. The plans for privately-owned and -operated space stations are undeniably ambitious and could transform how humans live in this environment. But it’s likely that the companies working on them don’t yet know what they don’t know about how people actually use space habitats. Only by turning towards new kinds of questions and research from a social and cultural perspective will they be able to make real changes that can improve mission success and crew well-being.

US companies working with Russia to launch private citizens into space

Christian Davenport, 12-10, 21, Washington Post, Jeff Bezos is sending Michael Strahan to space. But that’s not what makes this flight significant., https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/12/10/bezos-strahan-blue-origin-space-flight-record-year/

On Wednesday morning, a Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Baikonur launch center in Kazakhstan carrying a Russian cosmonaut, Alexander Misurkin, and a pair of civilian passengers, the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant Yozo Hirano. Several hours later, their spacecraft docked with the International Space Station, where they are to stay for about 12 days. The mission is the eighth private-citizen trip to the space station arranged by Space Adventures, a Vienna, Va.-based company, which works with the Russian space agency.

Private space launch destroying protected habitats

Alexandra Marvar, 12-10, 21, The Audobon, The Private Race to Space Has Fallout for Protected Lands on Earth, https://www.audubon.org/news/the-private-race-space-has-fallout-protected-lands-earth Today’s space race is taking place in a very different era. Wildlife habitats are being depleted, and human presence has sprawled. Developable land on America’s coasts—especially large, uninterrupted tracts—is ever harder to come by. About 10 percent of coastal land is managed by the National Park Service. For Emily Jones, southeast regional director at the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), making sure protected coastal lands remain untouched by development is a constant battle—one that is further complicated by the commercial space industry. The organization is now monitoring several spaceport applications. One of the biggest challenges for regulators, land and community stewards, and commercial entities lies in balancing the risks and the benefits of what may soon be a trillion-dollar industry. The National Environmental Policy Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and other laws should help disqualify projects that infringe upon national parkland and other protected sites with assaults such as excessive noise, increased risk of fire, debris, or pollution. But Camden County’s spaceport proposal has, so far, barreled forward despite myriad apparent legal conflicts, Jones says. Further complicating matters, the small-lift commercial rocket industry is fairly new, so safety data on the rockets Spaceport Camden hopes to launch are relatively scant. “These are our most special places,” Jones says. “If we don’t protect them, we could lose them. These areas are just too fragile, and too valuable to put at risk.”

Research for space colonization helps advance agriculture on earth

Alyssa Julie, 12-9, 21, https://globalnews.ca/news/8408558/how-the-private-space-race-is-allowing-nasa-to-explore-new-frontiers/, SCIENCE How the private space race is allowing NASA to explore new frontiers

Such research not only helps further NASA’s ambitions in space, it is also helps us tackle big challenges on Earth, says York University astrophysicist Jesse Rogerson. “Going to the moon and going to Mars is going to push our understanding of how to do agriculture,” he says, as an example of how research in space can help us improve conditions on Earth. “Because we can’t do a permanent settlement on the moon or Mars without ‘living off the land.’ So pushing that science to the very edge so that we can grow something on Mars would inevitably help us do better on Earth.” Protecting space assets critical to the US space economy and things military readiness on earth, Russia is a threat Russia’s anti-satellite missile test has raised calls for the United States and its allies to push for international norms to ban such tests. But reaching an agreement on space arms control could take years or even decades. And until that happens, there is no guarantee Russia or another country won’t attempt to blow more satellites out of the sky, including those belonging to the United States. The Russian military on Nov. 15 launched a Nudol ballistic missile that intercepted a defunct Soviet-era satellite in low Earth orbit. The U.S. government said the strike created an estimated 1,500 pieces of trackable debris. U.S. Space Command, as of Dec. 2, had identified orbits for 207 debris items from the event and will continue to catalog more objects in the coming weeks and months. If Russia can destroy its own satellite, “you can bet that they can destroy an American satellite, military or commercial,” said Lt. Gen. Nina Armagno, director of staff of the U.S. Space Force. The Space Force, established by Congress and the Trump administration two years ago as the sixth independent branch of the U.S. armed forces, is responsible for keeping space safe for military, civilian and commercial operations. While the service has been derided as a vanity project of the former president, the recent Russian missile test is a reminder that the Space Force serves a legitimate role in national security. U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, the top civilian leader of the Air Force and the Space Force, said Russia’s test was hugely irresponsible but served as a wake-up call. Access to space is vital to national defense, Kendall said in an interview with SpaceNews. Further, the functions performed by satellites are woven into people’s daily lives, enable the global economy and are vital to U.S. military operations. “The Space Force in terms of size is very small relative to the other services. But in terms of importance, it’s at least equal to the other services,” said Kendall. “If you cannot operate effectively in space and deal with the threats that you face from space, then it’s hard to conduct terrestrial operations. That’s increasingly true as technologies mature and people become more dependent on space and on the support functions you can get from space.” The challenge for the Space Force, Kendall said, is to make its constellations more resilient to attacks, not just from missiles but from electronic jammers or lasers now being developed by China. Kendall said this is not a traditional arms race where rival powers build up their forces and arsenals. China has been pursuing anti-satellite weapons for years, motivated by their assessment of satellites as “attackable assets the United States relies upon.” How should the U.S. respond? “We need to get on with building resilient architectures,” he said. Work is underway to design future satellites with more maneuverability and deploy them in larger numbers to create disaggregated networks that would be harder to target. The Pentagon’s deputy chief of space operations, Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, noted that the satellites the U.S. military currently operates were not designed for space warfare. “When I started flying satellites, our primary concern was the longevity of the system. It was so expensive to put these capabilities on orbit that we did trend analysis on batteries and solar array efficiencies.” These satellites clearly were not intended to operate in a “contested domain,” he said. “So now we have to shift.” The Space Force stood up a warfighting analysis center to lead the design of future space architectures using modeling and simulations. Saltzman cautioned that the transition to easier-to-defend systems would not happen overnight, but the Space Force is taking the first steps of what will be a long journey.

Russia no longer cooperating on space

John Kelv, 12-8, 21, HOW BLUE ORIGIN AND OTHER COMMERCIAL SPACE STATIONS WILL LEAD NASA TO MARS, https://www.inverse.com/science/blue-origin-private-space-station

SWAPPING PARTNERS— Russian and its Russia and its space agency, Roscosmos, have been critical partners in the ISS since President Bill Clinton invited them to join the program in 1993. But recently, there have been signs the partnership is in trouble. In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that Russia might pull out of the ISS by 2025. Then in June, Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin said his agency would pull out of the ISS over political sanctions levied against Russia, though he later backtracked, telling CNN that in the case of the ISS, “Divorce is not possible.” Still, Forczyk says, when you throw in increasing tensions between Russia and the rest of the world over Russian aggression toward Ukraine and a recent anti-satellite missile test that created debris endangering astronauts of many nations about the ISS and Chinese space station, “It’s not likely that we’re going to see a continuation of the strong partnership that NASA has experienced with Russia in the past decade or two.” Roscosmos, meanwhile, has been plagued with corruption scandals on the ground and technical problems in the sky — over the summer, a thruster on the latest Russian module attached to the ISS misfired, shaking the entire station. NASA may be more than ready to stop running a space station as a form of expensive diplomacy with an increasingly hostile nation and turn to private industry to provide needed services without the drama.

NASA shifting to the private sector

John Kelv, 12-8, 21, HOW BLUE ORIGIN AND OTHER COMMERCIAL SPACE STATIONS WILL LEAD NASA TO MARS, https://www.inverse.com/science/blue-origin-private-space-station

IT’S OFFICIAL: the future of low Earth orbit is commercial, at least as far as NASA is concerned. On December 2, the space agency announced three contracts with private companies worth $415.6 million to develop privately built and operated space stations. One contract to Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin for its Orbital Reef “mixed-use space business park” concept, one contract to Nanoracks’s four-astronaut capacity proposal, and one contract to Northrop Grumman’s idea for a “modular destination” in low Earth orbit (LEO). NASA designed the contracts for initial development, and it’s yet not clear if all three concepts will successfully fly, but it’s clear something will: As NASA keeps one nervous eye on an aging International Space Station and the other on the Moon and Mars, getting out of the space station business. “NASA’s looking to be an anchor tenant, rather than NASA owning the hardware and operating it,” Laura Forczyk, founder of space consulting firm Astralytical, tells Inverse. However, just how and when NASA and its commercial partners accomplish that goal could dictate the future of space operations for a long time to come. “For so long, this has been the realm of science fiction, private companies operating space stations,” Forczyk says. “Now it’s becoming reality, and we want to understand what that reality looks like, and what is for real and what isn’t.” “So are we going to have hotels in space? We don’t know, but I’m excited to find out.” As recent air leaks and congressional funding debates have made clear, the ISS won’t live forever. While NASA has officially secured funding for the ISS through 2028, the space station — which has been continuously inhabited for more than 20 years — is not expected to live beyond the current decade. “Around 2030, approximately, is when NASA has decided it needs to transfer away from the International Space Station and start to think about deorbiting plans and end-of-life,” Froczyk says At the same time, NASA will still need an outpost or outposts in LEO well into the 2030s, she says. Such facilities will be vital in preparing the astronauts, technologies, and procedures necessary to send astronauts to Mars. NASA estimates it needs to conduct around 200 investigations in LEO annually — but NASA cannot afford to build and operate another ISS, return to the Moon, and head into deep space at the same time. “What we’re seeing is NASA saying we need to free up funds to pursue the Artemis program because they’ve been given only so much money to do a whole lot,” Forczyk says. “ISS has been wonderfully successful, but also extraordinarily expensive, expensive to build and expensive to operate. It was never meant to be cost-efficient.” Just as NASA ended the expensive and troubled Space Shuttle program and now contracts with SpaceX to ferry crew and cargo to and from the ISS through the Commercial Crew program, the LEO Destinations program will replace the ISS and allow NASA to purchase space station services it needs a la carte. “If there are multiple space stations in low Earth orbit, they might serve different purposes at different times,” Forczyk says. “It might be that one is oriented for human habitation, maybe one is more oriented for your fabrication, and maybe one more for life sciences.”

Moon and Mars colonization depends on private companies

Miriam Kramer, 12-7, 21, NASA’s future is in private space companies’ hands, https://www.axios.com/nasa-private-spaceflight-plans-5a5710e6-5223-4da3-8c5d-5a712e1d862e.html

The private space players who will drive NASA’s plans for the coming decade are declaring themselves and defining the stakes. Why it matters: NASA plans to focus on getting people to Mars and the Moon, and its deep space exploration ambitions hinge on the agency being able to successfully hand over major operations in low-Earth orbit to private companies. The space agency hopes companies will build private space stations that its astronauts can use and to continue to buy space on private rockets for launching its satellites and other payloads to orbit and beyond. NASA’s “big experiment” right now is to test where these commercial partnerships work, the Planetary Society’s Casey Dreier told Axios. What’s happening: Last week, NASA announced it would award multimillion-dollar contracts to three teams of commercial space companies to start designing and building privately operated space stations. Those space stations — to be built by Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and Nanoracks with partners — are expected to act as hubs where NASA astronauts will be able to live and work after the International Space Station ends. “You see the emergence of the set of players that will be active in a commercialized [low-Earth orbit] future, and then beyond,” the Secure World Foundation’s Ian Christensen told Axios. NASA has also awarded a contract to SpaceX to build a lander designed to bring humans to the surface of the Moon using its still-in-development Starship as part of the agency’s Artemis program, expected to land its first crew by 2025. Details: The space agency already relies on SpaceX and Northrop Grumman to send cargo to the ISS, and SpaceX is successfully flying astronauts to the station today. But now, the agency is getting more ambitious with these partnerships for its Moon program and space stations, in particular. “Does it work to land science instruments on the Moon?” Dreier said. “Does it work to procure spacesuits? Will it work to make reliable space stations? We don’t know the answers to those.”

Private Chinese companies reaching space

 

Andrew Jones, 12-7, 21, Space News, Chinese private firm Galactic Energy puts five satellites in orbit with second launch, https://spacenews.com/chinese-private-firm-galactic-energy-puts-five-satellites-in-orbit-with-second-launch/

Rocket company Galactic Energy launched its second Ceres-1 rocket late Dec. 6, becoming the first Chinese private firm to reach orbit twice. The four-stage Ceres-1 solid rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert at 11:13 p.m. Monday, successfully placing five satellites into a roughly 500-kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). The launch follows the company’s first launch in November 2020, which made Galactic Energy only the second Chinese private rocket firm to reach orbit, following the success of iSpace in July 2019. However, iSpace has failed with both of its subsequent orbital launch attempts, both in 2021. Galactic now plans five launches in 2022, the company says. Ceres-1 has a diameter of 1.4 meters, a length of about 20 meters with a take-off weight of about 33 tons and has a liquid propellant upper stage. It can carry 300 kilograms of payload into a 500-kilometer SSO. Galactic Energy states it has made a number of improvements to Ceres-1 since the first launch, improving the second and third stage engines and introducing carbon fiber composites, boosting thrust-to-weight ratio, payload capacity and overall performance of the launcher. Five commercial satellites were aboard Monday’s flight. Tianjin University-1 is an infrared remote sensing satellite developed by Changguang Satellite Technology, a Changchun-based remote sensing constellation operator and spinoff from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ CIOMP. Lize-1 and Baoyun are scientific experiment satellites developed by Changsha-based Spacety. Lize-1 is a test of a new platform and for constellation networking tests, with the involvement of two private companies. The roughly 20-kilogram Baoyun carries a GNSS occultation detection payload from Tianjin Yunyao Aerospace Technology Co., Ltd., and an intelligent computing platform payload as part of tests for a planned “Tiansuan” open-source platform constellation for providing LEO broadband and potentially future 6G services, in partnership with Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. The satellite also carries an experiment payload for Beihang University and a Xiaomi consumer camera. Golden Bauhinia-5 is a remote sensing satellite developed by Starwiz (Zhongke Xingrui Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd.) for the Hong Kong Aerospace Technology Group Limited (HKATG). The final passenger was the Golden Bauhinia-1 (03) remote sensing satellite developed by Beijing-based ZeroG Lab for HKATG. The second Ceres-1 rocket was also sponsored by Ping An Bank, seeing the name appearing on the rocket. The successful second launch provides Galactic Energy with the opportunity to establish itself as a reliable launch service provider within China’s emerging commercial space sector. Landspace, OneSpace and iSpace have all suffered failures with solid rocket launch attempts. The firm has apparently been working on being able to expand on its success so far and ramp up the launch rate. “Galactic Energy is the first domestic private firm to reach a 500-kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit, but it is not an issue of getting into orbit or how high the orbit is which is key to realizing the real industrialization of commercial rockets. It is instead being able to achieve continuous and stable launch of rockets and large-scale rocket production at low cost,” Galactic Energy CEO Liu Baiqi said in a post-launch statement. The firm is also targeting late 2022 to early 2023 for the first flight of Pallas-1, a reusable kerosene-liquid oxygen launcher. Pallas-1 will be capable of lofting 5,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit or 3,000 kilograms to 700-km SSO. Galactic Energy recently assembled the first 50-ton-thrust Cangqiong kerolox engine in preparation for full system testing. Seven Cangqiong engines will power the Pallas-1 first stage, with a single vacuum optimized engine powering the second stage. China’s private launch firms have yet to make an orbital launch attempt with a liquid propellant rocket. Landspace’s methane-liquid oxygen Zhuque-2 could lift off in the first quarter of 2022, according to company CEO Zhang Changwu in a Nov. 18 interview. The Hyperbola-2 being developed by iSpace, featuring a reusable first stage, could launch in 2022. However hop tests expected this year have apparently not yet taken place. Space Pioneer and Deep Blue Aerospace are among others also developing reusable liquid propellant launchers. The launch was China’s 48th of the year and extends the country’s new national launch record for a calendar year. The vast majority have been Long March rocket launches performed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., (CASC), with the exception of the Ceres-1 launch, three Kuaizhou-1A launches and two launch attempts from iSpace.