Here’s an interview with her, about her disability. I’ve met her; she’s great. I hope they can come up with better treatments, or a cure.
It should be a good year for watching the meteor shower, if you can handle the temperatures.
Elections have consequences; Eric Berger looks into what Culberson’s loss means for the mission. This is politically huge:
During their November briefings with Culberson, the Europa scientists were careful to say they still planned to launch the Clipper on the SLS rocket, but that has not stopped them from looking at alternatives. Until recently, there hadn’t been any good ones. However, as Goldstein said during the briefing, “We’ve had a major development, and it’s really relieving for the team.”
The development had come about as the Europa planners had worked with NASA’s Launch Services Program and SpaceX. All of the rockets available for launch today, including SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, require multiple gravity assists to reach Jupiter, because they just could not provide Clipper the change in velocity needed to go directly to Jupiter.
Until the breakthrough, all of these rockets, including the Delta IV Heavy, needed about 7.5 years to reach Jupiter, and they also had to go into the inner Solar System to obtain a gravity assist from Venus as they ramped up energy for the outbound trip. In fact, this tortuous trajectory necessitated gravity slingshots around Earth, Venus, Earth, and finally Earth again before moving toward the outer Solar System. The mandatory Venus flyby troubled planners, because passing so close to the Sun would raise all manner of thermal challenges and require significant changes to protect Clipper from high temperatures.
The breakthrough referenced by Goldstein involved the addition of a Star 48 “kick stage” to the Falcon Heavy rocket, which would provide an extra boost of energy after the rocket’s upper stage had fired. With this solid rocket motor kick stage, Goldstein said Clipper would need just a single Earth gravity assist and would not have to go into the inner Solar System for a Venus flyby.
“Nobody is saying we’re not going on the SLS,” Goldstein said. “But if by chance we don’t, we don’t have the challenge of the inner Solar System. This was a major development. This was a big deal for us.”
Gee, I’m old enough to remember when I was cricized for saying that FH could do the job. And you know what? Star 48s have been around a long time. The only “major development” here is the ability to talk about a non-SLS Europa mission in polite company.
[Update a few minutes later]
I would note, though the article doesn’t, that while Enceladus is a tougher mission from a velocity standpoint, it’s a lot easier from a radiation standpoint.
This looks like a very interesting paper, suggesting that a Tunguska-like event wiped out the ancient Middle East, and could explain a lot of myths. (Ctrl-F for “Tunguska” to see the specific abstract.)
And of course, it has current implications that we’ve been lucky, and dodging bullets.
Forbes has a story.
A little over half an hour away. Watch live.
[Update after the successful landing]
I’m seeing a lot of the usual nonsense about how if NASA can land a robot on Mars why don’t we believe them about climate? That’s like saying, if someone on a baseball team is a really good pitcher, why don’t we pay any attention to the outfielder’s opinions about politics?
This is a chronic pet peeve of mine about space, and "rocket scientists." People who design rockets are engineers, not scientists. It also feeds into the association of space with "science," when in fact human spaceflight has little to do with science, and never has.
— Rand Simberg (@Rand_Simberg) November 26, 2018
Why do straight men hate it so much?
Ummmmm…because it’s a load of bollocks? I’m pretty sure that my lack of belief in it has nothing to do with either my gender or my sexual orientation. The real question should be why do women and gays buy into it so much?
How support for it can be a political liability.
This happened to Jack Schmitt in
ArizonaNew Mexico, as well. His opponent's campaign slogan was "What *On Earth* Has Jack Schmitt Done For Us?" https://t.co/FUr9endlmH
— Rand Simberg (@Rand_Simberg) November 16, 2018
I would note that this is another problem with a government space program in a representative republic, and why it’s hopeless to think we can do Apollo again. People who want to see space science happen need to look to other funding sources.
[Update late morning]
D’oh! New Mexico, not Arizona.
Bob Zimmerman examines the planned landing site.
Breakthrough and NASA have signed a Space Act Agreement for support of a private mission. This is the most likely way for it to happen, and it will probably happen before a Europa mission (it probably would have even with Culberson, given the requirement to use SLS).
I’ve been busy for the past couple days, and will continue to be, with first the Space Settlement Summit, and starting today (and concluding tomorrow) a meeting of the Moon Village Association. For those who want to participate, the latter will supposedly start to be live streamed at 8 AM PDT, but I don’t know the URL. I’ll update when I get there and find out what it is.
[Update after conference start]
Here is the livestream. Scott Pace is speaking.