Sunday 31 January 2021

Space, Man - Welcome to 2021...


Space, Man – Welcome to 2021…

Dear Readers,

I think it’s safe to say, that when we published our first “Space, Man” blog back in January 2019, little could we have imagined in our wildest dreams (or nightmares, depending on how you look at it) the situation we’ve found ourselves in today.  We were going to re-hash the War of the Worlds theme, but it seems a bit depressing, and I’m sure if you’re honest, dear Readers, we’re a bit fed up of the doom and the gloom!

So with heads held high, let’s have a listen to Space Cowboy instead: and have a bit of an explore.  If you’re a follower of our social media channels, you’ll know how much we love the topic of Space, and indeed, the fact that our first ever blog post was about Space, is indicative of our interest.  As a first post of 2021 (we thought the last day of January was symbolic, as a getting over of the worst month, and all that) that we’d fly off into Space again, and catch up with the escapades of Musk, Bezos and Branson, our favourite Space Cowboys!

As a quick aside:  who saw the “Star of Wonder” or the Saturn/Jupiter Conjunction over Christmas?  Wasn’t it fabulous?  And how lucky were we to witness it?!

Anyway, back to our Space Billionaires, and despite the fact that the rest of us were having a nightmare of a time, 2020 proved a pretty good year for them, with Branson seemingly appearing to continue winning the race, SpaceX launching astronauts up to the International Space Station not just once, but twice, and even more exciting (but slightly off-topic) NASA managed to get a sample of an asteroid 200 million miles away from Mars.

Predicted for next year, starting with Mr Musk and his SpaceX, he’s hoping to send two more crews of astronauts out to the Space Station again, following last year’s success.  This is the slight difference with the Musk proposition, as it’s masquerading (some might say) as a tad more philanthropic than the rest of them, in helping with the greater good of scientific development…Since signing a deal with NASA (which we reported on last time) SpaceX will become a sort of shuttle, regularly carrying astronauts out to the Space Station.  However, not to abandon our idea of space travel, Axiom Space, a private company, has purchased a trip to the International Space Station for four people.  Three are going to be “citizens” and the fourth will be a former NASA astronaut, Michael Lopez-Alegria.  One of the “citizens” has been announced as a former fighter pilot.

Not content with the shuttle programme and the flying of seemingly paying passengers, tests are continuing on the Starship spacecraft, intended for one day flying paying passengers to Mars.  NASA is heavily involved with this, investing $135 million into it with a view to shuttling astronauts to the moon.  Musk reckons this’ll start orbiting at the end of this year, but that might be slightly on the ambitious side…

And we’re still not finished:  in typically philanthropic fashion, Musk wants to bring the internet to the masses – and we mean masses – but flooding the Earth’s orbit with satellites which will beam internet signals to ground stations in exceptionally rural areas.  Maybe less philanthropic being that the Federal Communications Commission contributed $886 million, and also that Musk would be in charge (effectively) of the entire internet…but does it matter?  It’s business, after all.

So what’s Branson up to nowadays?  Turning 70 this year isn’t slowing him down, no no, in fact, he’s speeding up – literally – hoping to take a trip to the edge of Space in his suborbital spaceplane!  The aforementioned spaceplane has made it into Space twice now, and after an aborted effort in December, Virgin Galactic are going to re-prise that test, fly another one, and then Branson will have his turn.  If all goes to plan, efforts will then double to get all the people who’ve already paid up, into Space.

Like all billionaires, focusing on Virgin Galactic wasn’t enough, and Virgin Orbit, the rocket company, has also been active!

And Mr Bezos?  What’s he been up to?  Well, Blue Origin is planning its first flight for the New Shepard spacecraft with paying passengers on-board this year.  Now, dear Readers, we’ve discussed this in the past, and we’ll discuss it again here for those who haven’t read our previous posts:  it must be remembered that Branson and Bezos are taking people to the edge of Space and back, not into orbit, like Musk.  So it must be considered whether this is space travel as we imagine it or not?  Is it just a very expensive way to get a bit weightless?  Either way, it’s lagging behind Virgin Galactic, as it’s still not opened up sales or announced prices yet.

So there we have it:  if you want to orbit, Musk’s your man, but you have to have super-deep pockets.  If you want to get a bit weightless, then it looks like Branson will get you there first!

Until next time, dear Readers, stay safe and keep planning those holidays!



Post a Comment