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  • Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson not yet astronauts, US says

    Home Forums Outside the box Fun Stuff Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson not yet astronauts, US says

    • This topic has 13 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated 2 months ago.
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      • #2379677
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57950149

        In a move that pours cold water on the dreams of a few billionaire space explorers, the US has tightened its definition of the word “astronaut”.

        New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules say astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety.

        That means Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson may not yet be astronauts in the eyes of the US government.

        These are the first changes since the FAA wings programme began in 2004.

        The Commercial Astronaut Wings programme updates were announced on Tuesday – the same day that Amazon’s Mr Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space…..

      • #2379679
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        IMO, he who flies the ship is an astronaut. He who helps to fly the ship is an astronaut. He who goes along for the ride is a passenger.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2379681
        wavy
        AskWoody Plus

        astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety.

        Does not vomiting count as making a contribution to flight safety??
        🚀🤮

        🍻

        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        • #2379697
          Bob99
          AskWoody Plus

          Does not vomiting count as making a contribution to flight safety??

          🤣🤣

      • #2379703
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        There is also a technical but not small detail: the officially accepted beginning of “outer space” is the “Karman Line”: ” 62 miles, or 100 km, above sea level. The claims about the flights that took Branson and Bezos to some 80 km altitude reaching “the edge of space” are based on a fairly loose use of language. Even so, 80 km or so is still pretty high:

        https://astronomy.com/news/2021/03/the-krmn-line-where-does-space-begin

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A1rm%C3%A1n_line

        As to what one might experience being outside, without some survival equipment, fully exposed to the atmosphere at 80 km or so of altitude, or inside a spacecraft after a catastrophic hull breach lets all the air escape, being close but below the Karman Line would make no difference at all: death will come in a matter of minutes, in a particularly unpleasant way:

        https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2013/space-human-body/

        Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
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      • #2379767
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety.

        Does not vomiting count as making a contribution to flight safety??
        🚀🤮

        Only if you perform some tests on it.

      • #2379771
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP
        • #2379778
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          What more is to be said? Actually so much that it would not fit here for lack of space.

          When it comes to access to outer space by private entities or individuals, that is not just the High Frontier, it is the Wild West out there. In serious need of US Space Marshalls and the Army’s Cavalry to put and keep things orderly.

          For example, Musk and Bezos are competing on how many satellites to put in orbit to make it possible to connect to the Internet from anywhere in the world, after paying the subscription price. At the moment Musk has more than 400 up there that are ruining astronomical observations with their reflections of the Sun as they pass over the observatories, and with Bezos they are planing to go, eventually, to a total of from more than 3,000 to more than 4000 (and these might be low estimates) that are likely to remain for several years in orbit, maybe as many as 10, at the altitude of from around 500 km to some 630 km, Musk’s already being deployed and Bezos’ expected to follow.

          While the same coverage could be obtained with much higher and much fewer  geostationary or geosynchronous satellites needed to relay Internet messages, satellites that, unlike those low ones that might be seen for at most 10 minutes from places on Earth, do remain in view continuously from almost 80% of the world each, but then there would be a lag of some 0.2 seconds either way, and that would not be good enough for certain well-heeled customers who will require millisecond links…)

          Not to mention the additional space junk created when they collide with each other or with other space junk intercepting their orbits. Outward-bound space missions and satellites already orbiting at their altitude are going to be running a risky gauntlet to remain in service or to get through to their eventual destinations.

          But, as far as I can see, nobody seems to care except for the astronomers, and they only complain about those reflections that are ruining  their work, and also, of course, for those cheering these Space Age cowboys on:

          https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/23/elon-musk-s-starlink-internet-from-space-satellites-leave-astronomers-frustrated

          Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

          MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
          Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
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          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2379833
            Charlie
            AskWoody Plus

            Thanks Oscar, for saying some of the things I was thinking about saying.  Namely that we need to be very concerned about all those satellites and space junk in orbit.  Then there’s a country that blows things up or lets their old satellites free fall back without guidance to anywhere on Earth.

            • #2379862
              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              Charlie, About “a country that … lets their old satellites free fall back to Earth” (which I take to mean to fall uncontrolled), unfortunately there is no controlling a satellite in the last stage of its final descent, because the forces at play in the lower atmosphere: mainly the strong and variable atmospheric drag that is bringing it down and also, possibly, a lack of sufficient tracking data, make it next to impossible to do so, as well as to predict, once it starts de-orbiting, when and where exactly it will fall and how much of it will make it all the way to the ground.

              So it is not just one country that does this, because all countries have to. One possible, but not guaranteed solution, is to design the satellites to make it likely they’ll burn completely on reentry. That is more feasible with small satellites, such as the so-called “cubesats”, that are small cubes or parallelepipeds in shape and a few decimeters (or feet) in their longest dimension and weigh a few pounds (or kilos).

              Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

              MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
              Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
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              • #2379868
                Charlie
                AskWoody Plus

                This was not a satellite, it was much bigger.  From The Guardian:  “Part of a huge rocket that launched China’s first module for its Tianhe space station is falling back to Earth and could make an uncontrolled re-entry at an unknown landing point.”

                This just happened in May of this year and it was feared that part of it could survive re-entry.

                My fault for saying “old satellite”.

              • #2380072
                wavy
                AskWoody Plus

                One possible, but not guaranteed solution, is to design the satellites to make it likely they’ll burn completely on reentry.

                Like maybe a stick of dynamite or c4 that could make it into little pieces before re-entry??

                🍻

                Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
              • #2380172
                OscarCP
                AskWoody Plus

                Wavy, if it is going to be blown up, better to do it when it is already at a point where all the pieces are going to keep falling and burn, otherwise, if still outside the atmosphere, the bits and pieces will shoot in all directions, some with enough speed to go into eccentric orbits long enough to become a hazard to other spacecraft across the whole range of heights between the low apogees and high perigees of those orbits.

                One problem with packing explosives in a satellite is that it might explode for any number of reasons while still in orbit, and shower the orbits of other satellites with its nasty debris. Besides, in these tricky times we live, if the word gets around that US satellites, let’s say, are packed with explosives, the Chinese, the Russians and anyone else that does not much care for the US will get twitchy. With unpredictable consequences.

                Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

                MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
                Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
                Waterfox "Current" and (now and then) Chrome. also Intego AV and Malwarebytes for the Mac.

      • #2379825
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        From thousands to tens of thousands?

        When I wrote in my previous comment what are the expected numbers of satellites in Musk and Bezos’ “mega constellations”, I was relying, from memory, on what is now outdated information. Musk’s planned “Starlink” constellation, as approved by the FCC, is larger now and is going to get much larger and with a much greater presence at altitudes where there are already many useful satellites in orbit, although, as of now, it is still only partly deployed and still in “beta” status, but already offering coverage across the USA and Canada to numerous (voluntary!) beta testers:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlink

        There are, at least on paper, commitments to operate the satellites in collaboration with space agencies such as NASA and also with the US Air Force — that keeps track of bodies in orbit, both live satellites and junk — so as to avoid collisions and near-misses. But none of this has ever been tried in this enormous scale. Also there is still an open question on how sturdy and reliable the satellites are, some having stopped communicating and experienced other failures. Not to mention the question of what will happen if, for whatever reason, SpaceX goes out of business and no one is left in charge of monitoring and controlling the constellation. Would the USA government or some international organization take charge? And how long would that take?

        The satellites’ design is evolving and new prototypes are being tested and sometimes adopted. One new development is satellite-to-satellite ultra-wide-band laser links to reduce the current need for having many ground stations connected to the regular Internet via optical fiber links to send and receive signals to and from the satellites .

        A go-to site for technical as well as other relevant information on space missions, including commercial ones such as Starlink, has a more detailed story of the development of SpaceX’s constellation:

        https://directory.eoportal.org/web/eoportal/satellite-missions/s/starlink

        Communication satellite companies already in business for some time, and a USA group of country cooperatives are taking SpaceX to court. This was to be expected, but the arguments are interesting and might even be effective:

        https://www.space.com/spacex-starlink-megaconstellation-fcc-viasat-dish

        SpaceX Launches Starlink Satellites, but Booster Landing Fails

        About those rural cooperatives: “SpaceX, though, is facing renewed opposition from some organizations regarding the nearly $885.5 million in FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) awards it won in December. In a recent white paper, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) argued that the FCC should closely scrutinize SpaceX’s plans to provide broadband internet service via satellite. Those groups say bids by rural cooperatives for RDOF funding to provide broadband service were shut out by both SpaceX as well as fixed wireless networks.

        Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        Waterfox "Current" and (now and then) Chrome. also Intego AV and Malwarebytes for the Mac.

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