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Walter Sierra

Sierra’s Space Update - January 2022 - Newsletter

Sierra’s Space Update - January 2022 - Newsletter

January 2022

Headlines

Russia Invades Ukraine

The JWST is a space telescope developed by NASA with contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The telescope is named after James E. Webb, who was the administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968 and played an integral role in the Apollo program. It is intended to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship mission in astrophysics. JWST’s primary mirror, the Optical Telescope Element, consists of 18 hexagonal, individually adjustable mirror segments made of gold-plated beryllium, which combine to create a 6.5 meter (21 ft 4 inch) diameter mirror – considerably larger than Hubble’s 2.4 m (7.9 ft) mirror. Unlike Hubble, which observes in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared (0.1–1.0 μm) spectra, JWST will observe in a lower frequency range, from long-wavelength visible light (red) through mid-infrared (0.6–28.3 μm). This will enable it to observe high-redshift objects that are too old and too distant for Hubble. The telescope must be kept very cold to observe in the infrared without interference, so it will be deployed in space near the
Sun–Earth L2 Lagrange point, about 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 mi) from Earth (0.01 au – 3.9 times the average distance to the Moon). A large sunshield made of silicon- and aluminum-coated Kapton will keep its mirror and instruments below 50 K (−223 °C; −370 °F). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland managed the development and the Space Telescope Science Institute is operating JWST. The prime contractor was Northrop Grumman. Construction was completed in late 2016, when an extensive testing phase began. JWST was launched on December 25, 2021 by an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana and was released from the upper stage 27 minutes later. The telescope was confirmed to be receiving power, and as of December 2021 is traveling to its target destination. It is unfurling its sunshade and primary mirror on its way to the L2 Lagrange point, where it will enter a stable HALO (aka Lissajous) orbit.

Launch of JWST

Description of JWST unfolding

Where is JWST Now:

SpaceX’s Starlink Satellite Megaconstellation

On December 18 SpaceX launched 52 Starlink satellites into a midinclination orbit. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX providing satellite Internet access to most of the Earth. The constellation has grown to 1764 working satellites through 2021, and will eventually consist of many thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit, which communicate with designated ground transceivers. While the technical possibility of satellite internet service covers most of the global population, actual service can be delivered only in countries that have licensed SpaceX to provide service within any specific national jurisdiction. As of November 2021, the beta service offering is available in 21 countries

Starlink satellites crammed into a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

Credit SpaceX

January 2022

Headlines

James Webb Space Telescope

Credit NASA

The James Webb Space Telescope was successfully launched on December 25. It is designed to provide improved infrared resolution and sensitivity over Hubble, and will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology, including observations of some of the most distant events and objects in the Universe such as the formation of the first galaxies, and allowing detailed atmospheric characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.

The JWST is a space telescope developed by NASA with contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The telescope is named after James E. Webb, who was the administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968 and played an integral role in the Apollo program. It is intended to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship mission in astrophysics. JWST’s primary mirror, the Optical Telescope Element, consists of 18 hexagonal, individually adjustable mirror segments made of gold-plated beryllium, which combine to create a 6.5 meter (21 ft 4 inch) diameter mirror – considerably larger than Hubble’s 2.4 m (7.9 ft) mirror. Unlike Hubble, which observes in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared (0.1–1.0 μm) spectra, JWST will observe in a lower frequency range, from long-wavelength visible light (red) through mid-infrared (0.6–28.3 μm). This will enable it to observe high-redshift objects that are too old and too distant for Hubble. The telescope must be kept very cold to observe in the infrared without interference, so it will be deployed in space near the Sun–Earth L2 Lagrange point, about 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 mi) from Earth (0.01 au – 3.9 times the average distance to the Moon). A large sunshield made of silicon- and aluminum-coated Kapton will keep its mirror and instruments below 50 K (−223 °C; −370 °F). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland managed the development and the Space Telescope Science Institute is operating JWST. The prime contractor was Northrop Grumman. Construction was completed in late 2016, when an extensive testing phase began. JWST was launched on December 25, 2021 by an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana and was released from the upper stage 27 minutes later. The telescope was confirmed to be receiving power, and as of December 2021 is traveling to its target destination. It is unfurling its sunshade and primary mirror on its way to the L2 Lagrange point, where it will enter a stable HALO (aka Lissajous) orbit.

Launch of JWST

Description of JWST unfolding

Where is JWST Now:

The JWST is a space telescope developed by NASA with contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The telescope is named after James E. Webb, who was the administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968 and played an integral role in the Apollo program. It is intended to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship mission in astrophysics. JWST’s primary mirror, the Optical Telescope Element, consists of 18 hexagonal, individually adjustable mirror segments made of gold-plated beryllium, which combine to create a 6.5 meter (21 ft 4 inch) diameter mirror – considerably larger than Hubble’s 2.4 m (7.9 ft) mirror. Unlike Hubble, which observes in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared (0.1–1.0 μm) spectra, JWST will observe in a lower frequency range, from long-wavelength visible light (red) through mid-infrared (0.6–28.3 μm). This will enable it to observe high-redshift objects that are too old and too distant for Hubble. The telescope must be kept very cold to observe in the infrared without interference, so it will be deployed in space near the
Sun–Earth L2 Lagrange point, about 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 mi) from Earth (0.01 au – 3.9 times the average distance to the Moon). A large sunshield made of silicon- and aluminum-coated Kapton will keep its mirror and instruments below 50 K (−223 °C; −370 °F). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland managed the development and the Space Telescope Science Institute is operating JWST. The prime contractor was Northrop Grumman. Construction was completed in late 2016, when an extensive testing phase began. JWST was launched on December 25, 2021 by an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana and was released from the upper stage 27 minutes later. The telescope was confirmed to be receiving power, and as of December 2021 is traveling to its target destination. It is unfurling its sunshade and primary mirror on its way to the L2 Lagrange point, where it will enter a stable HALO (aka Lissajous) orbit.

Launch of JWST

Description of JWST unfolding

Where is JWST Now:

SpaceX’s Starlink Satellite Megaconstellation

On December 18 SpaceX launched 52 Starlink satellites into a midinclination orbit. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX providing satellite Internet access to most of the Earth. The constellation has grown to 1764 working satellites through 2021, and will eventually consist of many thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit, which communicate with designated ground transceivers. While the technical possibility of satellite internet service covers most of the global population, actual service can be delivered only in countries that have licensed SpaceX to provide service within any specific national jurisdiction. As of November 2021, the beta service offering is available in 21 countries

Starlink satellites crammed into a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

Credit SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

Starlink satellite
unfolding its solar
panels

Credit SpaceX

Starlink satellites
in orbit. The
separation
distance is not to
scale—to avoid
collisions, the
distance will be
much greater than
shown.

      Astronomers have raised concerns about the constellations’ effect on ground-based astronomy and how the satellites will add to an alreadyjammed orbital environment. SpaceX has attempted to mitigate these concerns by implementing several upgrades to Starlink satellites aimed at reducing their brightness during operation. The satellites are equipped with krypton-fueled Hall thrusters which allow them to de-orbit at the end of their life. Additionally, the satellites are designed to autonomously avoid collisions based on uplinked tracking data.

NASA’s Space Launch System

     The SLS is intended to become the successor to the retired Space Shuttle, and the primary launch vehicle of NASA’s deep space exploration plans through the 2020s and beyond. Crewed lunar flights are planned as part of the Artemis program, leading to a possible human mission to Mars. The SLS is being developed in three major phases with increasing capabilities: Block 1, Block 1B, and Block 2. SLS Block 1 launch vehicles are to launch the first three Artemis missions. Five subsequent SLS flights are planned to use Block 1B, after which all flights will use Block 2. The first uncrewed maiden flight of the SLS is scheduled for NET February 2022, carrying the Artemis 1 mission hardware and CubeSats for ten missions in the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CLSI), and three missions in the Cube Quest Challenge. The payloads will be sent on a trans-lunar injection trajectory. Second launch in ≈ May 2024 will be a crewed lunar flyby, carrying the Artemis 2 mission hardware, along with numerous CubeSats to be selected through the CSLI. The third mission scheduled for 2025 will feature a crewed lunar rendezvous and landing, carrying the Artemis 3 mission hardware. At over $2 billion per launch, the longevity of the SLS Program is in doubt due to its high cost.

Boom Overture Supersonic Airliner

     Boom Technology, Inc. is designing a Mach 1.7 (2,000 km/h, 1,260 mph), 55-passenger supersonic airliner. Named the Boom Overture, the airliner is planned to have a range of 4,500 nmi (8,300 km) and to be introduced in 2029.

Credit NASA

    The company says 500 daily routes would be viable: at Mach 1.7 over water. Newark, New Jersey to London would be 3 hours and 30 minutes apart; Newark to Frankfurt would be 4 hours apart. With 4,500 nmi (8,300 km) range, transpacific flights would require a refueling stop: San Francisco and Tokyo would be 6 hours apart. There could be a market for 1,000 supersonic airliners by 2035.
    Boom targets $5,000 fares for a New York-to-London round-trip, comparable to subsonic business class. For long-range routes like San Francisco–Tokyo and Los Angeles–Sydney, 30 lie-flat first-class seats could be proposed alongside 15 business-class seats

Credit Boom Technology, Inc.

2

Sierra’s Space Update - January 2022 - Newsletter

Credit: SpaceX

Starlink satellite unfolding its solar panels

Credit SpaceX

Starlink satellites in orbit. The separationdistance is not to scale—to avoid collisions, the distance will be much greater than shown.

      Astronomers have raised concerns about the constellations’ effect on ground-based astronomy and how the satellites will add to an alreadyjammed orbital environment. SpaceX has attempted to mitigate these concerns by implementing several upgrades to Starlink satellites aimed at reducing their brightness during operation. The satellites are equipped with krypton-fueled Hall thrusters which allow them to de-orbit at the end of their life. Additionally, the satellites are designed to autonomously avoid collisions based on uplinked tracking data.

NASA’s Space Launch System

     The SLS is intended to become the successor to the retired Space Shuttle, and the primary launch vehicle of NASA’s deep space exploration plans through the 2020s and beyond. Crewed lunar flights are planned as part of the Artemis program, leading to a possible human mission to Mars. The SLS is being developed in three major phases with increasing capabilities: Block 1, Block 1B, and Block 2. SLS Block 1 launch vehicles are to launch the first three Artemis missions. Five subsequent SLS flights are planned to use Block 1B, after which all flights will use Block 2. The first uncrewed maiden flight of the SLS is scheduled for NET February 2022, carrying the Artemis 1 mission hardware and CubeSats for ten missions in the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CLSI), and three missions in the Cube Quest Challenge. The payloads will be sent on a trans-lunar injection trajectory. Second launch in ≈ May 2024 will be a crewed lunar flyby, carrying the Artemis 2 mission hardware, along with numerous CubeSats to be selected through the CSLI. The third mission scheduled for 2025 will feature a crewed lunar rendezvous and landing, carrying the Artemis 3 mission hardware. At over $2 billion per launch, the longevity of the SLS Program is in doubt due to its high cost.

Boom Overture Supersonic Airliner

     Boom Technology, Inc. is designing a Mach 1.7 (2,000 km/h, 1,260 mph), 55-passenger supersonic airliner. Named the Boom Overture, the airliner is planned to have a range of 4,500 nmi (8,300 km) and to be introduced in 2029.

Credit NASA

    The company says 500 daily routes would be viable: at Mach 1.7 over water. Newark, New Jersey to London would be 3 hours and 30 minutes apart; Newark to Frankfurt would be 4 hours apart. With 4,500 nmi (8,300 km) range, transpacific flights would require a refueling stop: San Francisco and Tokyo would be 6 hours apart. There could be a market for 1,000 supersonic airliners by 2035.

Credit Boom Technology, Inc.

    Boom targets $5,000 fares for a New York-to-London round-trip, comparable to subsonic business class. For long-range routes like San Francisco–Tokyo and Los Angeles–Sydney, 30 lie-flat first-class seats could be proposed alongside 15 business-class seats
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