Star Letter 002: Richard Branson Shows up to the Space Travel Party, but It’s Crowded and MessyApril 6, 2018
We know you’ve missed us, it’s been an entire week.
We come bearing space stuff.
The business and wonder of space exploration never stops and we’ve had quite an interesting week. Star Letters just completed a trip to Kennedy Space Center to observe SpaceX’s launch of supplies to the space station––which was beautiful.
Why do we stay in the trenches? To make sure you’re informed, and to bring you as close as possible to the great unfolding story that is space. And you know…keep you entertained.
So what’s up this week? Your friendly neighborhood billionaire, the eccentric Richard Branson. As with all billionaires, Branson is the founder of Virgin Galactic, which experienced a breakthrough moment with a flight test in the desert. And speaking of billionaires, Elon Musk’s Dragon has arrived at the ISS with some sort of vacuum cleaner thing for space.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Makes Breakthrough Flight, Pilot Survives.
“Unity took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port, lifted by the jet-powered mothership Eve. The carrier aircraft lifted Unity to an altitude of 46,500 feet above the desert. Eve released Unity from under its wing and, with a two-member crew of Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay, Unity’s rocket motor roared to life. The rocket screamed into a steep climb as the engine burned for 30 seconds, pushing Unity past the speed of sound to Mach 1.87.”
Alright, that’s pretty amazing. Next up: Space?
SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule Arrives at the Space Station with Extraordinary Science, Not Enough Alcohol.
“Just 38 hours after leaving Earth, SpaceX’s CRS-14 Dragon completed her rendezvous with the International Space Station. Grapple occurred 06:40 EDT (10:40 UTC) to be followed by berthing to Node-2 Harmony’s nadir port at around 09:00 EDT (13:00 UTC). Arriving with the flight-proven Dragon is a wealth of scientific experiments that will add to the 280 investigations slated for the current Expedition 55 and 56 increments.”
CanadaArm is a hero who captures spacecraft. Let’s give Canada some credit.
Space is Getting as Dirty as West Hollywood
“Debris has become a major issue for space operations. There are swaths of garbage and unused components from previous missions zipping around the world at thousands of miles per hour. Left unchecked, errant debris forces satellites and even the International Space Station to use crucial fuel reserves to adjust their flight paths to avoid cataclysmic collisions. A piece as small as a marble can easily destroy a spacecraft due to the velocity at which it travels. Collisions give rise to more debris, so one collision could set off a catastrophic chain reaction of impacts with other objects in space.”
That’s just messed up.
New Kids on the Block, Rocket Lab, Will Launch Its First Real Mission from Middle Earth?
“The company will launch its small Electron rocket with payloads from two paying satellite operators on board — just three months after completing a second test flight of the vehicle. The upcoming mission will initiate the beginning of customer operations for Rocket Lab, which claims to have a busy manifest for this year and next.”
“After four years of developing the Electron, Rocket Lab flew the vehicle for the first time in May 2017 out of the company’s own private launch site in New Zealand. That test flight — appropriately dubbed “It’s a Test” — made it to space, though the rocket didn’t achieve orbit, due to a glitch in communication equipment on the ground.”
Read: The Verge
We can’t wait to see The Electron Rocket in person
She’s A Mother of Two. A Space Reporter. A Rocket Chaser. And One of Elon Musk’s New Favorite Photographers.
Star Letters was in attendance as well and we some extraordinary story tellers and artists who themselves are greatly inspired by what they are witnessing. One of those people, Pauline Acalin, has been chasing SpaceX rockets on the west coast for a couple of years now and is now a rockstar rocket chaser publishing both her reporting and photography. Recently, Pauline’s photos got the coveted Elon Musk retweet when she stalked SpaceX’s new nosecone-catching ship.
Read: Star Letters
Pauline Acalin took this photo
Until next week, friends!