Tag Archives: the new colonial movement

Kenya’s first satellite to be deployed tomorrow from ISS

The new colonial movement: Kenya’s first satellite, a cubesat built by students at the engineering school at the University of Nairobi, will be deployed tomorrow from ISS.

The cubesat was launched by SpaceX in its Dragon cargo freighter in early April, and was built using funding from the UN with technical help from Japan.

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China aims to reuse vertically-landed first stages by 2020

One of China’s top space engineers said this week at a conference that they are aiming to reuse vertically-landed first stages by 2020 on a new Long March 8 rocket.

At an aerospace industry seminar on Tuesday, leading Chinese carrier rocket designer Long Lehao said that China is expected to realize vertical recycling – similar to the technology employed by US-based firm SpaceX – by 2020 at the earliest on its CZ-8 rockets. This will further lower the price tag of a launch and boost China’s chances of getting international commercial satellite launch orders, the CCTV report said.

Lan Tianyi, founder of Beijing-based Ultimate Blue Nebula Co, a space industry consultancy, said China will become the second rocket power to have this capacity, putting the country ahead of Russia and the EU. However, Lan said that while the aim of recycling rockets is to reduce costs for launch operators, whether this can be achieved remains to be seen.

The recycled rockets developed by SpaceX are reported to have helped the company reduce launch costs by as much as 30 percent, according to media reports.

“There is no way to verify SpaceX’s claim, as it is the only company that owns the technology, and China has to wait for the moment when it has successfully recycled a rocket to see whether the costs can be lowered,” Lan told the Global Times on Thursday.

Right now, the politics in China are extremely favorable for space development, with so many top posts occupied by former space managers. Thus, it seems reasonable to believe that the country is investing the cash necessary to develop rocket stages that can land vertically. If they do it, they will put themselves in a strong position for future space colonization, because such technology is essential for landing spacecraft on other worlds. Right now, only the U.S. has done this repeatedly and successfully.

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Putin promises a Russian Mars mission in 2019

The new colonial movement: In a documentary released this week Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged that his country will send an unmanned mission to Mars in 2019, and that it will be aimed at studying water at the red planet’s poles.

This is funny. Putin is likely referring to ExoMars 2020, which Russia is partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA). In that mission, Russia is providing the rocket and the descent and landing technology for ESA’s rover. To claim that this is a Russian mission is a bit of an over-statement, since the only Mars-related equipment Russia is building involves the landing, and the ESA is also participating in that work.

Nonetheless, Putin’s words here illustrate how the competition is heating up. Every nation wants its share of the exploration of the solar system, and they are beginning to ramp up their efforts to make that happen.

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China’s 2017 year in review

Link here. The review summarizes every significant achievement and failure that occurred in the Chinese space industry in the past year. Unfortunately, it provides no further information of the cause of the launch failure of Long March 5 in July, nor when that rocket, China’s biggest, will resume launches.

The article also summarizes China’s long term plans as released earlier in the year. This quote struck me as most interesting:

The main contractor for the Chinese space programme, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), set out a space transportation roadmap in November. These targets include flying the low-cost Long March 8 by 2020, development of a reusable space plane by 2025, and super heavy-lift launch vehicle, referred to as the Long March 9, to make its maiden flight by 2030.

2035 is the target for full reusability for its launch vehicles, while 2040 is marked for developing next-gen launch vehicles capable of multiple interplanetary round-trips, exploiting space resources as well as a nuclear-powered space shuttle.

I don’t know if China will achieve these goals, but I do know that it intends to try, and that this effort guarantees that the 21st century will be the century where what I call the new colonial movement will take flight, with many nations on Earth pushing and succeeding in the establishment of viable bases on other worlds.

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UAE invites its citizens to apply to join its astronaut program

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) today launched its astronaut program, inviting its citizens to apply for four positions that they hope to eventually fly to ISS.

Much of this effort is simply propaganda designed to push the UAE to diversify its economy and encourage aerospace development. Nonetheless, when SpaceX’s Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner are operational there will be nothing to prevent those companies from selling seats on them to the UAE, much as the Russians have done with tourists in the past. In fact, I expect this to happen.

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China says Long March 5 will resume launches in 2018

The new colonial movement: Though the details are vague, a Chinese official said earlier this week that they now expect to resume launches of their Long March 5 rocket in 2018.

The article says that the July launch failure of the second Long March 5 was due to “a manufacturing defect affecting one of two YF-77 engines powering the first stage. If officially confirmed, this would mean no major effects such as redesign are required, meaning a relatively swift return to flight.”

The long delay since July however suggests to me that the defect was more serious, and has either required that redesign or a complete recall of all YF-77 engines.

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Ethiopia and India consider space partnership

The new colonial movement: Ethiopia and India are in discussions about forging a space partnership.

The article gives little details about this partnership, focusing mostly in describing Ethiopia’s space ambitions.

The Ethiopian government announced in early 2017 that it intends to build its own medium-sized space launch vehicle (SLV) and develop the capabilities to domestically build satellites. The Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said that it will develop a medium-sized SLV that should have its maiden launch within the next three years, according to MOST spokesperson Wondwosen Andualem.

Andualem also pointed out that Ethiopian capacity and capability to build its own satellites is increasing, thanks in part to the partnerships forged by Ethiopia with foreign governments and companies. The Ethiopian government has already stated that it seeks to develop and build satellites for the purposes of national security, disaster management and response, and land management.

…In November 2015, the Mekele Institute of Technology in Ethiopia launched a rocket called Alpha Meles to an altitude of 30 kilometres. The Alpha Meles rocket is believed to cost U.S.$2.3 million to develop, build, and launch, but there have been no reports of any subsequent launches of the rocket.

The question of whether Ethiopia really has a space program remains unclear. It could be that they are exploring this partnership with India because of internal problems getting their independent rockets off the ground.

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Luxembourg and UAE sign space agreement

The new colonial movement: The governments of Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates yesterday signed a space agreement, focused on working together to promote the development of space resources.

The press release is vague about the details in the agreement, though it is obvious that both nations are interested in promoting the profitable uses of space.

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Russia and Saudi Arabia sign space agreement

The new colonial movement: This week Russia and Saudi Arabia signed another in a series of space cooperative agreements.

While specific details about the space exploration agreement are not available, it is the result of high level discussions between senior officials from the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research in Moscow.

…Saudi Arabia, along with its ally and neighbour the United Arab Emirates, has been assiduous in its efforts to cultivate close and substantive ties with the space agencies of leading space powers such as the United States, China, Europe, Russia, India, and Japan.

Over the past several weeks alone it has been reported that the UAE and Russia are in discussions about training and launching Emirati astronauts as Abu Dhabi embarks on its own human space flight programme. In the case of Saudi-Russian cooperation, Saudi Arabia brings much needed financial resources to a struggling space programme, while Russia brings potential technology and science transfers in space launch, planetary sciences, space probe technologies, human space flight, and space mission design, planning, architectures, and operations.

It appears that Saudi Arabia has the cash that Russia needs, and Russia has the expertise, rockets, and space station that Saudi Arabia needs. A deal made in heaven.

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UAE announces manned spaceflight plans

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates has announced their plans to establish an astronaut corps that would fly on the manned spacecraft of other nations.

The first of those astronauts would fly by the end of 2021, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. “We have not decided on who will be flying us yet,” he said. “We do envisage that we partner up with all of the major space agencies, somehow and in some structure.”

There would be several options for the UAE to choose from, including Soyuz flights by Russia to the International Space Station and Shenzhou flights to a Chinese space station slated to be completed by the early 2020s. Other options include flights on commercial crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX.

To me, the really exciting aspect of this is that the UAE is now a new customer looking for a means to get its people into space, which makes all those manned programs, including the American private companies, competitors for that business.

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Australia to create its own space agency

The new colonial movement: The Australian government has announced that it plans to create a space agency.

Despite persistent calls for a national space agency, the current government took no steps until last July, when Arthur Sinodinos, the federal minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, set up an expert review group to study the country’s space industry capabilities. To date, the group has received nearly 200 written submissions and held meetings across the country.

Facing calls for action last week from the participants at the Adelaide meeting, Acting Industry Minister Michaelia Cash announced that the working group will develop a charter for the space agency that will be included in a wider space industry strategy.

Australian space policy as mirrored Great Britain’s for the past half century, in that both countries refused to spend any government money for space. However, creating a new government agency is not the same as creating a thriving private space industry. It will be the strategy here that will matter. In Great Britain the strategy initially for its new space agency was for the government to run everything. Soon however it shifted instead to encouraging private competition. We shall see what Australia does.

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Angola establishes its first space strategy

The new colonial movement: Angola has enacted its first space strategy, aimed at encouraging a new space industry in that nation.

The document is mostly government bureaucratic blather. More important, it seems mostly centered on what Angola’s governmental space agencies will do in the future. The policy makes nice about encouraging the private sector, but offers little to actually accomplish this.

Nonetheless, this action once again shows that more and more countries across the globe want in on the exploration of the solar system. The international competition is going to be fierce.

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