The coming year is shaping up to be just as interesting. Here are some of the missions to keep an eye out for.
Artemis 1 is the first flight of the NASA-led, international Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. This will consist of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft which will be sent on a three-week flight around the Moon. IT will reach a maximum distance from Earth of 450,000 km — the farthest into space that any spacecraft that can transport humans will have ever flown.
Artemis 1 will be launched into Earth orbit on the first NASA Space Launch System, which will be the most powerful rocket in operation. From Earth orbit, the Orion will be propelled onto a different path towards the Moon by the rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage. The Orion capsule will then travel to the Moon under the power provided by a service module supplied by the European Space Agency (Esa).
The mission will provide engineers back on Earth with a chance to evaluate how the spacecraft performs in deep space and serve as a prelude to later crewed lunar missions. The launch of Artemis 1 is currently scheduled for late in 2021.
In February, Mars will receive a flotilla of terrestrial robotic guests from several countries. The United Arab Emirates’ Al Amal (Hope) spacecraft is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. It is scheduled to arrive in Mars orbit on Feb. 9, where it will spend two years monitoring the Martian weather and disappearing atmosphere.
Arriving within a couple of weeks after Al Amal will be the China National Space Administration’s Tianwen-1, consisting of an orbiter and a surface rover. The spacecraft will enter Martian orbit for several months before deploying the rover to the surface. If it succeeds, China will become the third country to land anything on Mars. The mission has several objectives including mapping the mineral composition of the surface and searching for sub-surface water deposits.
NASA’s Perseverance rover will land at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18 and search for any signs of ancient life which may have been preserved in the clay deposits there. Critically, it will also store a cache of Martian surface samples on board as the first part in a highly ambitious international program to return samples of Mars to Earth.
NASA’s Perseverance rover blasts-off to Mars
In March 2021, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch its third lunar mission: Chandrayaan-3. Chandrayaan-1 launched in 2008 and was one of the first major missions in the Indian space programme. Comprising an orbiter and a surface penetrator probe, the mission was one of the first to confirm evidence of lunar water.
Unfortunately, contact with the satellite was lost less than a year later. Sadly, there was a similar mishap with its successor, Chandrayaan-2, which consisted of an orbiter, a lander (Vikram) and a lunar rover (Pragyan).
India loses contact with space craft heading for moon
If all goes well the Chandrayaan-3 rover will touch down in the lunar south pole’s Aitken basin. It’s of particular interest as it is thought to host numerous deposits of subsurface water ice – a vital component for any future sustainable lunar habitation.
James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, but has had a rocky path to being launched. Initially planned for a 2007 launch, the Webb telescope is almost 14 years late and has cost roughly US$10 billion (£7.4 billion) after apparent underestimates and overruns similar to those experienced by Hubble.
Whereas Hubble has provided some amazing views of the universe in visible and ultraviolet region of light, Webb is planning to focus observations in the infrared wavelength band. The reason for this is that when observing really distant objects there will probably be gas clouds in the way.
These gas clouds block really small wavelengths of light, such as X-rays and ultraviolet light, while longer wavelengths like infra-red, microwave and radio can get through more easily. So by observing in these longer wavelengths we should see more of the universe.
Webb also has a much bigger mirror of 6.5-metre diameter compared to Hubble’s 2.4-metre diameter mirror — essential for improving image resolution and seeing finer detail.
The primary mission of Webb is to look at light from galaxies at the edge of the universe which can tell us about how the first stars, galaxies and planetary systems formed. Potentially, this could include some information about the origin of life as well, as Webb is planning on imaging exoplanet atmospheres in high detail, searching for the building blocks of life. Do they exist on other planets, and if so, how did they get there?
We are also likely to be treated to some stunning images similar to those produced by Hubble. Webb is currently scheduled to launch on an Ariane 5 rocket on Oct. 31.
SpaceX Starship poised for possible launch on Wednesday – Sports Grind Entertainment
Hoping the third time’s the charm, a SpaceX Starship may blast off as early as Wednesday in hopes of being the first prototype to stick a landing after two previous tests ended in fiery explosions.
“The SpaceX team will attempt a high-altitude flight test of Starship serial number 10 (SN10) — our third high-altitude suborbital flight test of a Starship prototype from SpaceX’s site in Cameron County, Texas,” the company said.
As with Starships SN8 and SN9, SN10 will be powered during the ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence before the vehicle reaches apogee — at an altitude of about 6 miles.
“SN10 will perform a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorienting itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent,” SpaceX said.
“The Starship prototype will descend under active aerodynamic control, accomplished by independent movement of two forward and two aft flaps on the vehicle,” it explained.
“SN10’s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down on the landing pad adjacent to the launch mount,” according to the company.
On Feb. 2, SN9 went up in flames at the end of an otherwise successful high-altitude test from Boca Chica, Texas, reaching about 32,800 feet before turning to a horizontal “belly flop” position and performing a series of maneuvers.
It then attempted to land upright, but appeared to come in too fast and at a bad angle, ending in an explosion similar to one in December, when the company’s SN8 rocket was destroyed.
The prototypes were developed by CEO Elon Musk’s space company in the hopes they’ll one day carry humans on missions to the moon and Mars.
Musk said he was “highly confident” the spacecraft will reach orbit “many times” and be safe for human transport by 2023.
On Tuesday, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa put out an open call for members of the public interested in boarding the SpaceX rocket that will loop around the moon that year.
On Feb. 19, an FAA spokesperson said the agency had closed the investigation into the landing mishaps, “clearing the way for the SN10 test flight pending FAA approval of license updates,” according to CNET.
“The SN9 vehicle failed within the bounds of the FAA safety analysis. Its unsuccessful landing and explosion did not endanger the public or property. All debris was contained within the designated hazard area. The FAA approved the final mishap report, including the probable causes and corrective actions,” the rep said.
Starship SN10 has a launch window that began at 10 a.m. EST and ends at 7 p.m.
Starlink brings the world to rural Highlanders – Haliburton County Echo
By Darren Lum
High speed internet is here for rural residents through Starlink, an effort being led by the private spaceflight company owned by Elon Musk, SpaceX.
SpaceX is constructing a satellite internet constellation to provide high-speed service access via a connection with ground receivers in low to medium population density communities around the world.
The product development for Starlink started in 2015 and launched its 60 first low-Earth orbit, or LEOs, part way through 2019. More and more satellites are being launched, as part of a plan to form a megaconstellation, comprising of thousands of mass-produced small satellites that will orbit 550 kilometres from earth.
Currently, Starlink is in its beta stage and is offering the public an opportunity to connect through invites after they have submitted an online application.
It’s unknown how many beta users are in the Highlands, but for the few who are involved it has been largely positive results after spending close to $800 for the hardware (receiver, router, cable and hardware for installation) with tax and shipping, and the $129 monthly connection fee.
Bill Donnery, a retired resident who lives on Ritchie Falls Road with his wife, has been using Starlink for the past three weeks.
“I was just fortunate enough to get in on it so I jumped at the chance. I’m very happy with it,” he said.
Donnery, who said his internet use is mostly for entertainment – made up mostly of streaming services such as Netflix, and video chatting with loved ones, mounted his Starlink dish on his roof in place of where his satellite dish for television was. He’s among the select few not just in Haliburton County, but the country selected as beta users, who will provide information for Starlink .
When he first received it after a four-day journey from California he put it out on his driveway to test it and had internet connection within 10 minutes.
“It’s pretty simple. You plug it in and it finds its own satellite itself and rotates and tilts and within five or ten minutes you’re online,” he said.
He adds his highest speed recorded through an app on his phone has been 175 mbps and the low has been 35 mbps, while the latency is between 20 and 40.
Donnery said he’s only experienced the internet connection being down for up to three minutes in a day.
“The biggest thing is no cap. You don’t have to worry about going over your limit. High speed unlimited internet,” he said.
Donnery’s been living there in the home he built since 1984 and his internet connection started with dial-up with Bell to Xplornet satellite in the early-2000s to now using a wireless network. The speed of his connectivity has ranged from two or three mbps with satellite to 20 to 25 mbps with wireless.
“This seems too good to be true,” he said, referring to seeing the 150 mbps speed.
Using cellular connection is expensive with five gigabytes costing $60 and could go up from there. Recently, a new a new rate during the pandemic was offered, which saw him pay $120 for 50 gigabytes. However, sometimes speed with Rogers was halved during the summer when there were more users.
He appreciates the dishes’ heating feature that melts the snow so he doesn’t have to go up to his roof to clear it after a snow event.
Across Haliburton County, Moore Falls resident Richard Bradley was amazed by the connection he had within a few minutes after he placed the Starlink dish, which is similar to a size of a pizza, on his picnic table.
He loves how much clearer everything is when he watches the Toronto Maple Leafs play after he received it close to a month ago now.
“To watch a Leaf game and not have to set my TV to 240p so everything looks like sort of an interesting colouration of check-boards … Now when I put it on auto when I connect to Sportsnet or TSN or whatever, for a hockey game … more often than not, it selects 720p high definition. Obviously it does a speed test to decide,” he said.
Bradley, with two other users in the house, said there has been some down times of connection during virtual meetings that need a live feed without buffering, but he’s “willing to look past” it. Part of this will be resolved with higher placement of the dish to avoid obstruction of sight to the sky by the trees in his yard, he adds. Bradley said he’ll wait for the spring to install the dish higher on his house. He wishes he could have had an option for a different length cable between the dish and the router and you didn’t need to dismantle the dish to remove the cable.
He said the monthly cost for Starlink is comparable to what he pays now.
“If I cancel my landline and I cancel my internet with Bell, it’s almost the same price. It’s within, I dunno, $10, a month,” he said. “It’s an upgrade. I guess the real thing about the internet is we’ve already decided it’s not a fad. It’s not going away. So all we want is better, faster and more, right?”
Starlink uses beta users to evaluate connections.
As far as any concerns about being monitored, Bradley said he’s not concerned.
“I don’t distrust them any more than I distrust Bell Canada. You know what? Whoever your service provider is … they can monitor whatever traffic [you have]. It’s all going through their system and they all have access,” he said.
Recently, Musk posted to social media that speeds will double later this year to 300 mbps and said latency – the amount of delay for a internet network, defining how much time it takes a signal to travel back and forth from a destination – will drop to 20ms later in the year. He’s also said Starlink will reach customers around most of the earth by the end of this year and have complete global coverage by next year.
Musk added “Important to note that cellular will always have the advantage in dense urban areas. Satellites are best for low to medium population density area.”
Amanda Conn, executive director with the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce, acknowledges Musk can come off as boastful, but doesn’t discount his abilities and track record success.
“Even when he makes these claims that sound a little like crazy and outlandish at the time, he has been able to make a lot of them come true to some extent,” she said.
Conn, who lives in a wood area west of Carnarvon, is expecting to have her hardware soon after placing an order on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
The issue for her isn’t access so much as gaining a stable a connection.
“When it comes to connectivity it’s not just getting access to that connectivity, but it’s also getting access to stable connectivity, which I don’t know if in the beta Starlink they will have,” she said.
Her challenge with her connectivity is having video conferences where she can see herself moving.
“Seeing other people isn’t the … problem, but it’s more so you’re always frozen,” she said.
She is currently connected using satellite and LTE through her phone, as her location precludes her using Bell or North Frontenac Telephone Company [NFTC].
There’s been great anticipation for Starlink.
“I’ve heard great things, which is why I’m so excited, but as more and more people join I think we need to see how it actually works. I’m afraid of putting all my eggs in one basket without actually seeing the evidence,” she said.
The past few years, her dependency on connectivity has increased and, although it’s effectiveness fluctuated, it has improved with what she currently relies on for internet.
“I’ve seen an increase in their service in the last couple of years so there has been increases there, but this seems to be a big jump forward. It make all those things that are really difficult right now a lot easier,” she said.
She adds while video conferencing for work all day included acceptable audio, it also included frozen video images of her.
Internet access at her house of five users goes beyond work applications she said.
“It’s not just for work right now. Everyone is so far away and unable to be with their family so I think that is a huge part of it too. That social connection, especially over the last year,” she said.
Despite all the benefits and positive aspects that come with Starlink, there is a caveat.
“As more and more people are accessing the network and how it’s scaled up to millions of users they ultimately want to have, I think that is going to be important to keep an eye on,” she said.
She adds at some point there will be a limit to how many satellites will be allowed to meet the demands.
There’s an obvious high cost for this service that not everyone in the county can afford, she adds. It would be ideal if a solution that was accessible to everyone was available.
Also, Conn wishes there could be a local option.
“While we would love it to be a Canadian company that is offering that technology, you know, anything that we can do to help connect more people up here the better,” she said. “That’s going to help the businesses.”
She hopes her experience will not just benefit her, but will provide a perspective she could share with chamber members.
“If I have a great experience, probably, other businesses are asking for suggestions and solutions I would be more than happy to share that information with them and share my own personal experience. I don’t think it’s something the chamber needs right now because we are located downtown Haliburton so we do have access to infrastructure,” she said.
She believes this connectivity isn’t just good for businesses when it can enable more opportunities to new and more business, but also benefit their employees.
“If we have a period of time where people need to work from home or want to work from home and have better connectivity to do so I think that helps a business as a whole be more productive,” she said.
NASA to Provide Update on Perseverance 'Firsts' Since Mars Landing – Stockhouse
WASHINGTON , March 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Since NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover touched down at Jezero Crater Feb. 18 , mission controllers have made substantial progress as they prepare the rover for the unpaved road ahead. Mission team members from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California will discuss mission “firsts” achieved so far and those to come in a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EST ( 12:30 p.m. PST ) Friday, March 5 .
The teleconference audio and accompanying visuals will stream live on the NASA JPL YouTube channel .
Discussing the rover’s progress will be:
- Robert Hogg , Perseverance deputy mission manager, JPL
- Anais Zarifian , Perseverance mobility test bed engineer, JPL
- Katie Stack Morgan , Perseverance deputy project scientist, JPL
To participate in the teleconference, media must provide their name and affiliation to Rexana Vizza ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) no later than 1:30 p.m. EST ( 10:30 a.m. PST ) Friday, March 5 . Members of the media and public also may ask questions on social media during the teleconference using #CountdownToMars.
Since landing, NASA’s largest, most sophisticated Mars rover yet has gone through checks on every system and subsystem and sent back thousands of images from Jezero Crater. These checks will continue in the coming days, and the rover will make its first drives. Each system checkout and milestone completed marks a significant step forward as the rover prepares for surface operations. The primary mission is slated for one Martian year, or 687 Earth days.
To learn more about Perseverance, visit:
View original content to download multimedia: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nasa-to-provide-update-on-perseverance-firsts-since-mars-landing-301240087.html
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