Nov 16, 18 / Sag 12, 02 14:59 UTC

General News: Nov 16  

Yesterday, Nov 15, SpaceX used their Falcon 9 rocket to launch Qatar’s Es’hail-2 spacecraft so it can place its communications satellite in orbit. 

Falcon took off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at the start of a 101-minute window that began at 15:46 Eastern Time (20:46 UTC). Thursday’s mission used a flight-proven Falcon 9 booster, which marks its second mission overall but it’s first mission for the State of Qatar. 

The Es’hail-2 satellite, built by Japan, will be operated by the state-owned Qatar Satellite Company, named Es’hailSat. Falcon 9 placed the Es’hail-2 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, and the satellite should reach its final destination in geostationary orbit using its own power.

Es’hail-2 marks the first dedicated Qatari satellite from launch. Qatar has an existing Es’hail-1 satellite. However, that one was deployed as a joint-venture between Es’hailSat and French telecommunications operator Eutelsat. The Qataris bought out their partners earlier in 2018.

In other news, during a meeting of the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group (UAG). NASA’s plan for returning to the Moon was met with opposition. Both members of the UAG and former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, who was there as a guest speaker on other topics, discussed their personal view that NASA is moving too slowly and the lunar orbiting Gateway is not needed.

The program’s pace is partly due to NASA’s budget and Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who expressed concern about the impact of Rep. John Culberson’s (R-TX) imminent departure from Congress.  A staunch NASA supporter who chairs a key appropriations panel, Culberson lost his reelection bid.

The UAG advises the National Space Council, where Vice President Mike Pence is the chairman.  This was their second meeting.  The Space Council and the UAG cover the full range of U.S. citizens, commercial, and national security space activities, but much of the conference focused on NASA’s plans to send humans back to the Moon and then go to Mars.

But, before any future astronaut can set foot on Mars scientists must overcome many significant challenges including deadly radiation from the cosmos, possible vision loss, and atrophying bones according to NASA officials on Tuesday.

The US space agency thinks they will be able to put humans on Mars within 25 years. However, the technological and medical hurdles are extraordinary.

Former NASA astronaut Tom Jones, who flew on four space shuttle missions before retiring in 2001 explained that the cost of solving those problems means that under current budgets, or slightly expanded budgets, it's going to take about 25 years to find a solution, so it’s essential to get started now.

At an average distance of approximately 140 million miles (225 million kilometres), Mars poses scientific problems that are far greater than anything seen by the Apollo lunar missions.

With current rocket technology, it would take an astronaut up to nine months to reach Mars -- the physical toll of floating that long in zero gravity would be massive.

Moreover, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, a company that specializes in laser technologies and weapons, is promoting the use of lasers in oil exploitation and even space exploration.

Wu Chunfeng, a senior engineer at the company, told the Global Times that the laser technology could also be used in exploring other planets.

Wu Chunfeng explained that laser technology is highly sensitive and can carry both information and power. Using laser communication and detection to explore other planets may provide more precise imaging. 

Last January, China successfully performed the world's first two-way high-speed laser communication test, using a laser communication terminal installed on the high-throughput satellite Shijian-13 which is orbiting at 40,000 kilometres above Earth, making it the satellite's first official use.

Did you watch live coverage of the Falcon 9 launch? 

Do you think the Lunar Gateway is an important step in putting humans on Mars or not? Why? 

Let us know in the comments below!

Nov 16, 18 / Sag 12, 02 23:28 UTC

I think it's more important for humans to go to the moon first and only then go to Mars. The Moon could be the opportunity to solve some problems related to human survival in the off-shore environment, create better solutions and improve equipment in the space environment, so humanity could go to Mars more safely, international cooperation is also a step important for this project to succeed.