ASTRO SPACE NEWS

Weird, Wild & Breaking News Stories in Space and Astronomy From Around The World 24/7 Weekly With Updates. It's a FREE Service To The Public and ALL Media, It's Safe and Reliable. (Est. 2002)

FEATURED STORIES THIS WEEK

This news service is emailed out each week to all requesting radio stations across Australia.  David Reneke ('Astro Dave') is one of Australia's most well known and respected astronomers and lecturers with links to some of the world's leading astronomical institutions. 

David is radio savvy, well experienced talking to the media and presents information in an easy to understand, up to date and informative manner. Enquiries for interviews or info Ph: (02) 6585 2260 Mobile: 0400 636 363 Email: davereneke@gmail.com

Have Telescope Will Travel - We Come To YOU!

Ask Yourself Have You Ever...looked through a large telescope? Touched a real space rock? Seen the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's Moon? Viewed star clusters thousands of light years away OR seen huge craters and 'seas' on the Moon up close? 

  Our special program is unique... a never to be forgotten journey of the night sky. There is nothing quite like seeing the distant stars and planets with your own eyes through our magnificent telescopes - and it's all done from your backyard with your friends around!     *See how this amazing STARGAZING program works: : Click

Get Ready For The April 27 'Supermoon' Also Called The 'Pink Moon'

Be on time with the phenomenon of the giant super moon, the largest giant moon in 2021, on April 27th of the current month, where it is called the pink moon relative to the time the flowers open on the continent of America, where it was known as this local name for farmers.

The phenomenon of the giant moon is a phenomenon that occurs when the moon is full moon and at the bottom point at which the moon is the closest to its circle around the earth about 356 thousand km. 

You can expect a much brighter Moon and one that appears a little bit larger. With king tides its also a great time to go out and drop a line! 

Universal Astronaut Insignia to unite world space explorers and travellers

JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, a member of the Association of Space Explorers executive committee, displays a Universal Astronaut Insignia on the International Space Station. Image caption (Image credit: JAXA
JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, a member of the Association of Space Explorers executive committee, displays a Universal Astronaut Insignia on the International Space Station. Image caption (Image credit: JAXA

Two days after Yuri Gagarin became the world's first person to fly into space, his country, the former Soviet Union, presented him with a small, military-style insignia representing that he was a Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR. The first-of-its-kind device, depicting a satellite and spacecraft in orbit over Earth, would go on to be presented to every Soviet cosmonaut who made a spaceflight through 1991, and then, after a slight redesign, awarded to every Pilot-Cosmonaut of the Russian Federation to this day.

A similar practice began in the United States in December 1961, eight months after Gagarin was honored, when the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force bestowed Alan Shepard and Virgil "Gus" Grissom with their respective branch's astronaut wings. The similar devices both featured at their center a five-pointed star with three trailing rays passing through a halo - a symbol that later would be adapted as a lapel pin to be worn by NASA astronauts, with a gold version for those who launched into space.

The Universal Astronaut Insignia, in suborbital and orbital variants, is the first lapel pin to represent everyone who has flown to space. The ascending and descending chevrons crowned with a five-point star symbolize the journey to space and return to Earth.
The Universal Astronaut Insignia, in suborbital and orbital variants, is the first lapel pin to represent everyone who has flown to space. The ascending and descending chevrons crowned with a five-point star symbolize the journey to space and return to Earth.

In the 60 years since those first insignia were introduced, additional devices and pins have been created to represent other subsets of space travelers. The British Interplanetary Society, for example, created a rocket-shaped pin to be presented to astronauts from the United Kingdom, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awards commercial astronaut wings to the flight crews aboard U.S. licensed private spacecraft.

What has not existed until now has been a symbol to unite every person who has flown into space. Enter the Universal Astronaut Insignia. Andy Turnage, executive director of the Association of Space Explorers and Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut and a member of the ASE's executive committee, were on their way back from a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first spacewalk, when the topic came up in discussion. They decided to make one.

The final version of the Universal Astronaut Insignia comprises ascending and descending chevrons crowned with a five-point star, representing the journey into space and the return to Earth. A circlet encompassing the chevrons is added to the pins worn by those who entered Earth orbit or flew beyond.

Anyone who is verified as having flown into space will be eligible to wear the appropriate variant of the insignia. Future passengers who pay to launch to space, including those who fly with Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Axiom Space, will be eligible to wear the Universal Astronaut Insignia, as will the professional astronauts and cosmonauts who go on missions for the world's different space agencies.

Space Travel Reality Show 'Space hero' Partnered With NASA, Featured On TV Network USA

Space Hero will be the world's first global competition to send a civilian into space on a $55M, 10-day trip to the International Space Station. The competition for this once-in-a-lifetime journey will begin at the end of 2021. The call will be open to candidates over 18 with fluency in English, and its first flight is targeted for 2023. Space Hero is planning fifteen seasons over the next thirty years, eventually flying beyond the ISS to the Moon and Mars.

Yesterday, Deborah Sass and Thomas Reemer, the co-CEOs of Space Hero, signed a feasibility agreement with NASA, marking the 60th anniversary of the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin. For two compassionate entrepreneurs, sending someone like you or me barreling through the atmosphere is their dream that is quickly becoming a reality. And Stephen Colbert featured the project on a segment he calls Space News last week.

Deborah Sass and Thomas Reemer, the co-CEOs of Space HeroThe first task was securing a deal with NASA. The second task, securing a ticket with a launch provider. The third, finding the right production company. The fourth task is securing a distribution deal. Sass and Reemer are currently deep in negotiation with several name-brand media giants.

There are no formal credentials to apply to be on the show. Sass and Reemer are only critiquing applicants through the lens of how they define who a hero is. To them, a hero is simply a person who helps someone without expecting anything in return.

Applications to enter the contest are not officially open yet, but there was a program to become a Space Hero Insider, an ambassador for the program. They have received thousands of inquiries worldwide, ranging from school teachers in Nigeria to fishermen and fisherwomen in Japan. Of the pool, 450 insiders were chosen to represent fifty eight countries, who Sass and Reemer each spoke with personally for five minutes.

First female astronaut joins UAE space program

The United Arab Emirates is set to train its first female astronaut, UAE Prime Minister and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced on Saturday. Noura Al-Matroushi is to join fellow recruit Mohammed Al-Mulla at the UAE's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre program, Al Maktoum said on Twitter, noting that the two would train with NASA.

Al-Matroushi tweeted: "The nation gave me unforgettable moments today. I aim to work hard to script historical moments and achievements that will be etched forever in the memory of our people. I thank our wise leadership and the team of the UAE Astronaut Program. Preparations and work begin now."  

According to a video posted by the space center, Al-Matroushi earned her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the United Arab Emirates University and currently serves as an engineer at the country's National Petroleum Construction Company.

Meanwhile, German state-owned international news broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that the UAE's first mission to Mars was set to become the fifth to reach the planet and enter its orbit on Tuesday. According to the report, the mission would also be the first by an Arab state.

Al Maktoum said that even if the mission failed to enter the red planet's orbit, "We've already made history. This is the farthest point in the universe to be reached by Arabs throughout their history. ... Our goal is to give hope to all Arabs that we are capable of competing with the rest of the world."

UAE Space Agency head and Advanced Sciences Minister Sarah Al-Amiri told DW, "Our science team is 80 percent women. They are there based on merit and based on what they contribute towards the design and development of the mission. "I myself have not faced any adversity throughout my career, be it working at the space center from almost 12 years ago, all the way to becoming a minister within the Cabinet.

NASA gets a $1.5 billion boost in Biden budget plan 

NASA would get a 6.3% increase in its budget under the $1.5 trillion budget the Biden-Harris administration submitted to Congress Friday. The plan proposes a $24.7 billion budget for the space agency in fiscal year 2022, which is $1.5 billion more than NASA's budget at the 2021 level approved by Congress.

The proposed funding includes a $6.9 billion discretionary request for the Artemis program, which is NASA's project to return humans to the moon and eventually Mars. The request is a $325 million increase from the previous year.

NASA says the request keep the agency on its path to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon in the next few years. It includes work on the Space Launch System rocket, Orion crew capsule, and orbiting Gateway lunar outpost.

It also includes funding to continue the Mars rover missions, including the plan to actually bring samples back from Mars, and allocates $3 billion to continue research on the International Space Station.

Other programs mentioned in the budget include:

  • Funding for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, a telescope more powerful than the Hubble Telescope that is supposed to be used in the study of the universe's expansion, including dark energy and exoplanets. The Roman Space Telescope was not given funding in the 2021 budget under the previous administration
  • Funding for the Clipper mission to the Jupiter Moon, Europa, and the Dragonfly mission to Saturn's moon, Titan
  • The budget blueprint gives us a first real look at President Biden's plans for space, as subject his administration has spoken little about, aside from saying he supports the program. Since the $1.5 trillion "skinny budget" represents only the top line budget items, space enthusiasts took this cautiously as an encouraging sign for NASA, which saw renewed interest under the Trump administration.
  • "Glad to see an increase," tweeted Lori Garver, former deputy NASA administrator under the Obama administration. "Not sure what we can do on Artemis for $325M over last year's Congressional levels. NASA 6% is significantly less than other R&D Agencies - NSF got 20% for example. Overall $110B increase in discretionary funding - our share is $1.5B - but it's not nothin!"

    The Trump administration wanted to return Americans to the moon by 2024. It's not known whether NASA, under the Biden administration, will stick with that ambitious goal. It's also unknown yet whether Congress will grant Biden's request. In previous years it was not uncommon for Congress to allocate less for NASA than what the White House wanted.

    The Biden administration is expected to release a more comprehensive budget in the coming months.

    Biden has already announced Bill Nelson, the former U.S. senator from Florida, as his pick to be the next NASA administrator. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has not announced when his confirmation hearing will be.

Canada's Telesat takes on Musk and Bezos in space race to provide fast broadband

Canada's Telesat is racing to launch a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed global broadband from space, pitting the satellite communications firm founded in 1969 against two trailblazing billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Musk, the Tesla Inc CEO who was only a year old when Telesat launched its first satellite, is putting the so-called Starlink LEO into orbit with his company SpaceX, and Amazon.com Inc, which Bezos founded, is planning a LEO called Project Kuiper. Bezos also owns Blue Origin, which builds rockets.

Despite the competition, Dan Goldberg, Telesat's chief executive officer, voices confidence when he calls Telesat's LEO constellation "the Holy Grail" for his shareholders - "a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery."

Telesat's LEO has a much lighter price tag than SpaceX and Amazon's, and the company has been in satellite services decades longer. In addition, instead of focusing on the consumer market like SpaceX and Amazon, Telesat seeks deep-pocketed business clients.

Goldberg said he was literally losing sleep six years ago when he realized the company's business model was in peril as Netflix and video streaming took off and fiber optics guaranteed lightning-fast internet connectivity.

Telesat's 15 geostationary (GEO) satellites provide services mainly to TV broadcasters, internet service providers and government networks, all of whom were growing increasingly worried about the latency, or time delay, of bouncing signals off orbiters more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above earth.

Then in 2015 on a flight home from a Paris industry conference where latency was a constant theme, Goldberg wrote down his initial ideas for a LEO constellation on an Air Canada napkin.

Those ideas eventually led to Telesat's LEO constellation, dubbed Lightspeed, which will orbit about 35 times closer to earth than GEO satellites, and will provide internet connectivity at a speed akin to fiber optics. Telesat's first launch is planned in early 2023, while there are already some 1,200 of Musk's Starlink satellites in orbit.

"Starlink is going to be in service much sooner ... and that gives SpaceX the opportunity to win customers," said Caleb Henry, a senior analyst at Quilty Analytics. Starlink's "first mover" advantage is at most 24 months and "no one's going to lock this whole market up in that amount of time," Goldberg said.

Telesat in 2019 signed a launch deal with Bezos' aerospace company Blue Origin. Discussions are ongoing with three others, said David Wendling, Telesat's chief technical officer.

They are Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Europe's ArianeGroup , and Musk's SpaceX, which launches the Starlink satellites. Wendling said a decision would be taken in a matter of months. Telesat aims to launch its first batch of 298 satellites being built by Thales Alenia Space in early 2023, with partial service in higher latitudes later that same year, and full global service in 2024.

The Lightspeed constellation is estimated to cost half as much as the $10 billion SpaceX and Amazon projects. "We think we're in the sweet spot," Goldberg said. "When we look at some of these other constellations, we don't get it." Analyst Henry said Telesat's focus on business clients is the right one.

"You have two heavyweight players, SpaceX and Amazon, that are already pledging to spend $10 billion on satellite constellations optimized for the consumer market," he said. "If Telesat can spend half that amount creating a high-performance system for businesses, then yeah, they stand to be very competitive."

Telesat's industry experience may also provide an edge. "We've worked with many of these customers for decades ... That's going to give us a real advantage," Goldberg said. Telesat "is a satellite operator, has been a satellite operator, and has both the advantage of expertise and experience in that business," said Carissa Christensen, chief executive officer of the research firm BryceTech, adding, however, that she sees only two to three LEO constellations surviving.

Telesat is nailing down financing - one-third equity and two-thirds debt - and will become publicly traded on the Nasdaq sometime this summer, and it could also list on the Toronto exchange after that. Currently, Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc are the company's main shareholders.

France and Canada's export credit agencies, BPI and EDC respectively, are expected to be the main lenders, Goldberg said. Quebec's provincial government is lending C$400 million ($317 million), and Canada's federal government has promised C$600 million to be a preferred customer. The company also posted C$246 million in net income in 2020.

Executing the LEO plan is what keeps Goldberg up at night now, he said. "When we decided to go down this path, the two richest people in the universe weren't focused on their own LEO constellations."

How do astronauts write in space?

The pencil wasn't an ideal choice for writing in space because its tip could flake and break off, drifting in microgravity with the potential to harm an astronaut or an equipment

Legend has it that during the height of the space race in the 1960s, NASA scientists figured that pens could not function in space. So, they spent millions of dollars developing a pen that could write in space, while their Soviet counterparts used the humble pencil.

This story has been floating around the Internet for way too long. However, it is just a myth.

The truth

According to NASA historians, NASA astronauts also used pencils. In 1965, NASA ordered 34 mechanical pencils from Houston's Tycam Engineering Manufacturing, Inc. at the rate of $128.89 per pencil. When the public got to know about these rates, there was an outcry, and NASA had to find something much cheaper for its astronauts to use.

The pencil loses out

The pencil wasn't an ideal choice for writing in space because its tip could flake and break off, drifting in microgravity with the potential to harm an astronaut or an equipment. Apart from this, pencils are flammable, and NASA wanted to avoid anything flammable aboard a spacecraft.

And the pen?

Regular pens that work on Earth did not work in space because they rely on gravity for the flow of ink to the nib. This was understood quite early by scientists and hence astronauts used pencils. But with both the pencil and the pen creating issues, what did NASA finally resort to?

The saviour

Around the time NASA was embroiled in the mechanical pencils controversy, Paul C. Fisher of the Fisher Pen Co. designed a ballpoint pen that could work in space. His company invested one million dollars to fund, design, and patent the pen on its own.

Fisher's pen operated seamlessly, not just in space, but also in a weightless environment, underwater, in other liquids, and in temperatures ranging from -50 F to +400 F.

The company offered the pen to NASA, but the space agency was hesitant to buy it due to the mechanical pencil controversy.

However, a few years later, after rigorous testing, NASA agreed to equip its astronauts with the space pen. The space agency bought 400 pens from Fisher. And a year later, the Russians also ordered 100 pens and 1,000 ink cartridges to use on their Soyuz space missions. Both NASA and the Soviet space agency received a 40% discount on bulk purchase of the pens, paying about $2.39 per pen.

Over the years, Fisher's company has created different space pens, which are still used by NASA and the Soviet space agency.

If you would like to get your hands on one of these space pens, it would cost you approximately $50.

EQUIPMENT REVIEW...Svbony 6mm Ultra Eye Relief 68 deg. Field Eyepiece. Affordable Astronomy!

The humble telescope only plays one part in your observation of our night skies. The telescope eyepiece is an integral component in its own right. Not only is it responsible for delivering that collected light into your eye, but it also provides you with magnification power. By swapping out the eyepieces you change the viewing experience opening up a universe of possibilities in what you can observe. Welcome to the world of Svbony!

These eyepieces are suitable for most telescopes like our Newtonian
These eyepieces are suitable for most telescopes like our Newtonian

Whether you're a new amateur stargazer or already have a wide collection of telescopes to help you explore scientific discoveries in the night sky, having some extra eyepieces on hand can make all the difference.

These Svbony eyepieces offer high magnification and good clarity. The aluminum 1.25" eyepiece barrel is internally blackened to eliminate light scattering. The entire range of  lenses all fully multi-coated for maximum contrast and resolution.

The amazing Super wide 68 degree view will greatly expanded any telescope's capabilities. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I gave the 6mm a good workout under reasonable night skies and it compares more than favourably to all the 'Big Name' eyepieces I've used.  

The eyepiece came well boxed
The eyepiece came well boxed
Looks classy huh? Andworks equally as well
Looks classy huh? Andworks equally as well

I acquired this eyepiece with the support of the Svbony Ebay sales manager John to do some objective research experiments comparing them to name brand EPs that cost 3-5 times as much.

My first thoughts? That 68 degree AFOV sounds downright impossible in a 1.25" eyepiece - and that on a 6mm focal length? How do you get that kind of FOV with that much magnification? What are they like to use? Best thing about the eyepiece is it's really affordable and I've had great experiences with Svbony telescopes so I like the brand.

The 6mm Svbony fitted snugly, looked more expensive than it was & gave good eye relief - With a 6mm eyepiece, 68 degrees is relatively easily attainable. In fact higher figures are also possible. These eyepieces are inexpensive, have more comfort than a plossl, and offer a wider field of view. They work well in my 10" Dob and perform extremely well on the observing field. The eye relief is a little tight but they are sharp nearly to the edge in my refractor. Even if they were 5 times the price they would be a bargain! Go check 'em out at Svbony Headquarters: https://www.svbony.com/: 

See Svbony Ebay Stores: CLICK HERE

US:https://www.ebay.com/itm/193906318334
AU:https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/284189864679
DE:https://www.ebay.de/itm/284247558200
UK:https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/284008002166


Make some space for your kids. Explore the Universe and beyond with YouTube

Space has captured the imagination of humans throughout history. Even today, with all our developments here on Earth, space still holds endless mysteries. If you love to dream about space, and maybe need a bit of fun, escapist learning, then head over to YouTube to enjoy a wealth of information on astronomy alongside helpful and exciting visuals. Here are a few videos to start with.

"Let's Explore Space! | Astronomy for Kids," posted by SciShow Kids - A fantastic 101 on basic astronomy. Learn what gives stars their glow, what type of star our sun is and what makes stars glow different colors. Visit the other planets in our solar system and learn about what other kinds of things float around there, some natural and some made on Earth. Discover the astronomical conditions that make Earth hospitable compared with other planets.

"Space Compilation: Crash Course Kids," posted by Crash Course Kids - This compilation is also a great introduction to basic astronomy, discussing topics like how light travels from the sun to the Earth, Earth's cosmic address, how scientists measure space, Earth's second-closest star, constellations and how stars have been viewed throughout history and how the stars have been used for navigation.

"StoryBots Outer Space | Planets, Sun, Moon, Earth and Stars," posted by Netflix Jr. - If you love learning along with catchy songs, this video is an entertaining and quotable way to learn about our solar system. Each planet and Earth's moon is their own character, providing a helpful device for young learners to remember each planet's characteristics. The music has good production value and is fun to listen along to. The sun raps about its temperature and gases, the moon sings about how it reflects light at the Earth each night, and the Earth make rhymes about all the awesome people and places it has.

"The Solar System Song (with lyrics)," posted by KidsTV123 - This animation made to "The Solar System Song," written and performed by A.J. Jenkins is great for younger learners. It's a short length, great for quick and entertaining learning. The relaxed song has just a few lines for each planet, paring down information and presenting it in a calming way. This video would work as a great wind down song before bed.

"Mars, the Red Planet - Solar System 3D Animation for Kids," posted by Smile and Learn - English - Mars has been in the news a lot recently with the new rover, Perseverance, having just landed there. Learn more about the Red Planet with high-quality animations and fun narrations. The entire video is subtitled in English so it's a great video for children who are practicing their reading.

"Jupiter 101 | National Geographic," posted by National Geographic - This video likely works best for older kids and adults, but with the high-quality visuals you would expect from National Geographic, it's a great way for people of any age to get a great look at the planet Jupiter. The information is an excellent introduction of Jupiter, explaining what makes it a gas planet, its immense density, its stormy atmosphere, and details about the Great Red Spot. On-screen graphics make this video easy to follow along with and the inclusion of archival footage is a treat to see.

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