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          Issue No. 170
          Here’s your semi-annual reminder to please [1]share OI with your
          friends. Thank you!
          Oh, and by the way, next week we’re taking our first ever Orbital
          Index vacation after 170 straight weeks. We’ll see you on June 8th!
          The Orbital Index
          [2]Issue No. 170 | May 25, 2022
          🚀 🌍 🛰
          ¶OFT-2 looks like a success! Starliner grabbed headlines this past
          week with [3]a successful launch, insertion, docking, and stay at the
          ISS. Later today, it should complete its mission by landing using
          parachutes and airbags at [4]White Sands Missile Range, currently [5]scheduled
          for 6:49 EDT. However, this second-attempt mission [6]hasn’t been
          without its own set of glitches and nail biters. The insertion burn
          had [7]two OMAC thrusters fail, forcing completion using a redundant
          thruster. There were also some [8]concerning pump pressure readings on
          the craft’s cooling system—pressure had risen due to either ice
          forming in the coolant or the fluid thickening due to lower than
          expected temperatures. The mission team was able to bring coolant
          temps back up by rerouting coolant flow to temporarily bypass
          Starliner’s radiators, a novel hack praised by NASA. Finally, leading
          to a [9]hold during approach and yielding [10]some stunning photos
          (one below), the NASA-designed docking adapter had to be retracted,
          reset, and re-extended before Starliner could make its final approach
          to the station. Since docking, the mission has proceeded without any
          additional issues and once all cargo has been swapped between the
          craft and the station, it will depart to jettison its service module,
          deorbit, and land in New Mexico (or one of the four backup sites
          available in case of poor weather) as NASA’s second-ever on-land
          touchdown (OFT-1 was the first). The [11]performance of the parachute
          system during landing will be of particular interest—it has yet to be
          certified by NASA, and failed to deploy one chute during OFT-1.
          Assuming a successful landing, [12]Boeing’s Crewed Flight Test (CFT)
          is up next (TBD), before the spacecraft is fully human-rated and can
          become half of the biannual cadence of NASA’s ISS astronaut delivery.
          Boeing Starliner CST-100 sits just 10 meters away from the ISS
          awaiting final approach while its docking adapter is reset.
          The Orbital Index is made possible through generous sponsorship by:
          ¶DARPA moving forward with DRACO nuclear thermal engine. Early last
          month, DARPA issued an [17]RFP for the next phase of their
          Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) nuclear
          thermal engine program. This follows on their selection, one year ago,
          of an [18]early engine design by General Atomics and [19]two
          spacecraft concepts from Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin. Now they’re
          moving on to the development and assembly of the engine [20]through a
          new open RFP (not limited to the aforementioned companies). They hope
          to have a test flight in 2026, with NASA participating out of interest
          for use with future crewed deep space missions, as nuclear thermal
          propulsion can achieve both the required high thrust-to-weight ratio
          and 2-5 times the efficiency of a chemical engine. One key challenge
          with nuclear reactors in space is the risk of contaminating Earth.
          While systems are designed to be safe even in the case of a launch
          failure, once they’ve been activated, an accidental re-entry could be
          a radiological disaster. We’ve written about this DARPA program [21]a
          [22]number of times, as well as [23]NASA’s related efforts and [24]NIAC
          awards. We also took a dive into the [25]history of nuclear reactors
          in space in Issue 85 (which we feel is worth a re-read). Relatedly,
          the DIU just funded [26]two in-space nuclear power research projects
          as well.
          [27]XKCD #2423
          ¶News in Brief. NASA has [28]suspended all planned ISS EVAs due to the
          small water leak in ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer’s helmet during his
          March 23rd spacewalk ● [29]Astra revealed their larger Rocket 4.0
          design capable of delivering 300 kg payloads to LEO or 200 kg to SSO,
          nominally for $3.95 million per launch ● [30]SpaceX is raising $1.7B
          at a $127B valuation ● [31]China launched three experimental comsats
          on a Long March 2C ● [32]Russia launched a Soyuz-2.1a with a military
          satellite ● [33]Psyche’s launch on a Falcon Heavy has been delayed NET
          Sept 20 due to spacecraft software issues discovered during ground
          testing ● Both [34]Relativity Space and [35]ABL Space completed
          testing of their rockets’ second stages.
            * Starfish Space, who is focused on making in-space interactions
              autonomous (and have great product names), is [36]hiring for a
              variety of roles across GNC, Software, Systems Engineering,
              Robotics, and Company Operations (Seattle, WA).
            * Fortify is hiring a [37]Supply Chain Operations Manager to oversee
              its DCM Flux Printer platform as it begins production (Boston,
            * [38]Something is off with the telemetry from Voyager 1’s attitude
              articulation and control system, although the interstellar craft
              seems to be otherwise behaving normally—hopefully, this doesn’t
              mean the 45-year-old hero is finally breaking. Controllers may be
              able to switch control to a redundant hardware system. This
              wouldn’t be the first use of redundancy: in 2017 when Voyager 1’s
              primary thrusters showed signs of degradation, they switched to
              backup thrusters last used during its Saturn encounter 37 years
            * Oh, for the good old days when a [39]single-stage nuclear rocket
              was going to cost $600.
            * Russia might be [40]working on a nuclear-powered space tug for
              circa 2030.
            * [41]Aravind breaks down the market for EO applied to climate
            * On its last legs, but still busy, [42]InSight detected a magnitude
              5 Marsquake, the largest quake seen yet on the red planet (or any
              planet beyond Earth).
            * Meanwhile, on Earth, the pressure wave from [43]the explosive
              Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption was so powerful that it appears to
              have created its own space weather ([44]paper) and had the [45]force
              of Krakatoa.
            * All about [46]that crackle that you hear during a rocket launch.
            * For the first time, we’ve [47]observed the moment a red supergiant
              collapses into a Type II supernova ([48]paper). Pan-STARRS on
              Haleakalā and the Keck Observatory on Maunakea, both in Hawaiʻi,
              watched the red supergiant during its last 130 days through the
              summer and fall of 2020. It was initially seen violently ejecting
              gas, which was later observed densely surrounding the star as it
              exploded. The red supergiant, in galaxy NGC 5731 (about 120
              million light-years away from Earth) was 10x the mass of Sol. “Direct
              detection of pre-supernova activity in a red supergiant star has
              never been observed before in an ordinary Type II supernova. For
              the first time, we watched a red supergiant star explode!”
            * [49]A summary of the whole $93B Artemis program.
          “Slope streaks” result from dust avalanches on Mars and are “[50]triggered
          by vaporizing frost creating just enough pressure to loosen the dust
          grains, causing an avalanche” according to a new [51]paper. The
          resulting avalanches “probably look something like a ground-hugging
          river of dust releasing a trail of fluffy material behind. As the dust
          travels downhill over several hours, it exposes streaks of darker
          material underneath.”
          [52]« Issue No. 169
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          3. https://youtu.be/gy6iam6NjsU
          4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Sands_Missile_Range
          5. https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/coverage-set-for-nasa-s-boeing-orbital-flight-test-2-return-to-earth
          6. https://spaceflightnow.com/2022/05/21/boeings-starliner-capsule-completes-first-nail-biting-docking-at-space-station/
          7. https://twitter.com/DJSnM/status/1527460963011596289
          8. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/05/20/boeing-starliner-test-problems/
          9. https://twitter.com/Space_Station/status/1527794433793486848?s=20&t=StUeZYmc91VuR-7uIG1Rmw
          10. https://twitter.com/Space_Station/status/1529250896466415616?s=20&t=g4NwyUMWh0FYMCo_2NaLgA
          11. https://spacepolicyonline.com/news/nasa-safety-panel-dont-rush-to-crewed-test-flight-as-boeing-prepares-oft-2/
          12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Crewed_Flight_Test
          13. https://www.xometry.com/?utm_source=OrbitalIndex&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=20210512_OrbitalIndex_newsletter
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          16. https://firstresonance.io/?utm_source=OrbitalIndex&utm_medium=Logo&utm_campaign=OI&utm_id=Ad
          17. https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2022-05-04
          18. https://spacenews.com/general-atomics-wins-darpa-contract-to-design-nuclear-reactor-to-power-missions-to-the-moon/
          19. https://spacenews.com/darpa-selects-blue-origin-lockheed-martin-to-develop-spacecraft-for-nuclear-propulsion-demo/
          20. https://spacenews.com/darpa-moving-forward-with-development-of-nuclear-powered-spacecraft/
          21. https://orbitalindex.com/archive/2020-07-15-Issue-73/#darpa-wants-a-nuclear-thermal-propulsion-system
          22. https://orbitalindex.com/archive/2019-04-02-archive-Issue-6/#darpa-is-hoping-to-develop-a-nuclear-thermal-rocket
          23. https://orbitalindex.com/archive/2019-10-08-Issue-33/#nasa-is-developing-nuclear-rocket-engines
          24. https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/niac/2020_Phase_I_Phase_II/SPEAR_Probe/
          25. https://orbitalindex.com/archive/2020-10-07-Issue-85/#nuclear-reactors-in-spaaaaaace
          26. https://spacenews.com/diu-selects-nuclear-powered-spacecraft-designs-for-2027-demonstrations/
          27. https://xkcd.com/2423/
          28. https://spacenews.com/nasa-puts-iss-spacewalks-on-hold-to-investigate-water-leak/
          29. https://spacenews.com/astra-reveals-details-of-next-larger-rocket
          30. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/22/elon-musks-spacex-looks-to-raise-1point7-billion-in-new-funding.html
          31. https://english.news.cn/20220520/697fc5a4084341e3a4dc4ff1b935e5a0/c.html
          32. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJbirfq3F_o
          33. https://spaceflightnow.com/2022/05/23/launch-of-nasas-psyche-asteroid-mission-delayed-to-late-september/
          34. https://twitter.com/thetimellis/status/1527319824854003713
          35. https://spacenews.com/abl-space-systems-completes-acceptance-testing-of-rs1-upper-stage
          36. http://angel.co/company/starfish-space/jobs
          37. http://3dfortify.com/careers-list?gh_jid=4527598004
          38. https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/engineers-investigating-nasas-voyager-1-telemetry-data
          39. https://twitter.com/ScienceNews/status/1397862649111756810
          40. https://tass.com/science/1292721
          41. https://terrawatch.substack.com/p/from-ghg-to-esg-demystifying-earth?utm_source=email&s=r
          42. https://mars.nasa.gov/news/9185/nasas-insight-records-monster-quake-on-mars
          43. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2022/sun/nasa-mission-finds-tonga-volcanic-eruption-effects-reached-space
          44. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2022GL098577
          45. https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2022/05/16/new-study-involving-liverpool-expert-finds-tonga-eruption-as-powerful-as-krakatoa/
          46. https://twitter.com/drchriscombs/status/1305145738272411650?s=21&t=Gp3-SW5nupikdKbIp5R61w
          47. https://keckobservatory.org/dying-star/
          48. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/ac3f3a
          49. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01253-6
          50. https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/science-at-sunrise-solving-the-mystery-of-frost-hiding-on-mars
          51. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2021JE006988
          52. https://orbitalindex.com/archive/2022-05-18-Issue-169/
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