This week in Space: videos, news, and launch schedule

Sci Show Space

This is a spin-off of the more general Sci Show. That’s not a bad thing. That means twice a week, professionally produced, usually brief and to the point videos tackling a single issue. Doesn’t often get into the nitty-gritty details the way that some of the others do, so they can be general public friendly by a little nerd-frustrating. Still, a good place to go for a quick hit on a number of topics.

Scott Manley

Scottish “astrogamer” Scott Manley is something of a character, in a lot of ways. His low budget, definitely filmed in his house videos often deal with very recent news in aerospace industry — how is SpaceX planning to adapt the Falcon 9 to be more like the BFR? What happened in that Soyuz failure? — but Manley frequently addresses these issues by heading straight to his computer and booting up a game. He’s the master of the instant simulated spacecraft. Plus … he generally manages to make watching someone crash a make-believe spaceship into an odd kind of entertainment. He can also be a demon at digging through old government clips and data to explain a complex topic.

Deep Astronomy

I love this stuff, and host Tony Darnell does a good job putting things together but … the low keyness of these videos is so low that you should make sure you’re not going to break anything should you suddenly drift off to sleep before starting in to some of them.


These guys do a weekly live space news round-table, which is … well, like all such round tables, the quality of interactions and information spread are not guaranteed. It can be great. It can be not great. It can be a whole lotta luke. It can definitely, definitely drag. But depending on the guests, it can also be occasionally jaw-dropping. But be warned: On a nerd scale where Sci Show is a 1 and Manley is a 5, these guys can be a … no sorry. There is no relevant scale.


Okay, these guys don’t exactly fit my scrappy upstart definition. They’re the video arm of the Space.Com website, which is a handy spot for space things of all types. But they put out a lot of videos and their “on this day” series, which really are up there almost every day, provide insight into events both old and new, many of which you’ve very likely never heard of before.

And hey, if you guessed this was my way to slap together a This Week In Space while I was focused on the election and not really following space news as closely as I should … you got me. But there has been real news on several fronts.

Space.Com: Rocket Lab to launch first commercial mission tonight

Rocket Lab’s 57-foot-tall (17 meters) Electron booster is scheduled to rise off the pad at the company’s New Zealand launch site Saturday at 10 p.m. EST (0300 GMT and 4 p.m. local New Zealand time on Nov. 11), on a mission dubbed “It’s Business Time.” 

There have been a lot of delays on the Electron launch … as in months. And they’re super picky about weather conditions for flying their new bird. Tune in anyway and cheer them on. If you want some insight on these guys, the Everyday Astronaut people recently visited their new factory. Airbus and Blue Origin team up for a new moon-centered competition

The Moon Race targets startups and SME’s worldwide and has the ambition to bring the winning teams to the lunar surface and provide solutions for the uprising lunar economy.

The competition is managed by “The Moon Race NPO gGmbH”, a not-for-profit organization based in Germany, whose goals are to manage The Moon Race competition and bring together the international space – and non-space – communities into one coordinated international initiative.

The Moon Race is challenging teams to come up with designs for lunar habitats, and to solve problems like lunar mining and doing construction using lunar materials. More info should be coming soon. NASA supports studies of landing on Enceladus 

NASA signed an agreement in September with a foundation to support initial studies of a privately funded mission to a potentially habitable moon of Saturn.

The unfunded Space Act Agreement between NASA and the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, initiated with little public fanfare, covers NASA support for initial concept studies, known in NASA programmatic parlance as “Pre-Phase A,” for a mission to the moon Enceladus, an icy world believed to have a subsurface ocean of liquid water and plumes that eject that water through the surface into space.

arsTechnica: Kazakhstan goes with SpaceX over Russian rocket

Kazakhstan is home to Baikonur, where Russia has launched everything since Sputnik. So this seems very much a sign of the times.

In an article published by the Russia-based wire service Interfax on Tuesday, the press secretary of the Ministry of Defense and Aerospace Industry, Aset Nurkenov, explained why. “The reason for using a Falcon 9 for this launch is that it will be less expensive,” he said. “The total cost is a commercial confidentiality we can not reveal at the request of the American launch provider.” (The Interfax article was translated for Ars by Robinson Mitchell).

Launch Schedule

November 10— Rocket Labs | Electron 
Rocket Labs third Electron launch and first commercial launch. Heading up from their New Zealand launch site.

November 15— Antares | NG-10
Antares rocket from Northrop Grumman launch the 11th Cygnus cargo freighter on the ISS. This flight is, rather unusually, headed up from Wallops Island, Virginia. Which helps explain how it can be on the same day as

November 15— Falcon 9 | Es’hail 2
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Es’hail communications satellite for Qatar. This one is launching from Kennedy Space Center, Florida

November 16— Soyuz | Progress 71
Despite the problem with the last manned Soyuz launch, this cargo launch is still on track. And no, I don’t know why the ISS has cargo flights scheduled 1 day apart.

November 19— Falcon 9 | SSO-A
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a big stack of small satellites on a “rideshare” mission

November 20— Mohammed VI-B
A Vega rocket from Arianespace launching the Mohammed VI-B imaging satellite for the government of Morocco. Launch is from French Guiana.

November 26— PSLV | HySIS
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Indian space program carrying imaging satellite HySIS.

November 29— Delta 4-Heavy | NROL 71 
ULA’s big Delta 4-Heavy rocket launching classified military payload from Vandenberg.

While you weren’t looking, SpaceX’s test flight of the Crew Dragon got booted till January.

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