May 14, 2021

Key Test for New Lunar Gateway Space Station

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The Astronomy, Technology and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 54
*Key test for new Lunar Gateway Space Station

For more SpaceTime visit our websites: or the all new 

The Astronomy, Technology and Space Science News Podcast.

SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 54

*Key test for new Lunar Gateway Space Station

NASA’s new Lunar Gateway space station has passed a key hot fire test of the main thrusters on its power and propulsion element module.

*Stratolaunch undertakes its second test flight

The Stratolaunch mothership has finally undertaken a second test flight – two years after the maiden flight first sent the giant twin fuselage six engine plane into the skies.

*60 more Starlink satellites placed into orbit

SpaceX has successfully launched its 25th Starlink mission placing another 60 Starlink broadband internet satellites into orbit.

*New German and Swedish intelligence agencies warnings about Iran’s growing nuclear ambitions

Security agencies in Germany and Sweden have warned of growing efforts by Iran to obtain the technology needed to build nuclear weapons.

*The Science Report

New study warns that sleeping less than six hours a night could put you at a higher risk of dementia.

Study shows Earth’s worst mass extinction event evolved much slower on land than in the sea.

New species of sauropod dinosaur identified in northern Chile.

Study claims human penises are shrinking and becoming malformed because of pollution.

Skeptic's guide to acupuncture.


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SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 54 AI Transcript

[00:00:00] This is time series 24 episode 54, four broadcast on the 14th of May, 2021. Coming up on space time, a key test for the new lunar gateway space station, Stratolaunch undertakes its second test flight and new warnings from Germany and Sweden about Iran's growing nuclear ambitions, all that and more coming up.

Um, space time. Welcome to space time with Stuart, Gary

NASA's new lunar gateway space station has passed the K hot fire test of the main thrusters on its power and propulsion element module. The whole effect on propulsion thrusters will propel Gateway's first [00:01:00] modules to lunar orbit, and will then help maintain the orbital position of the space station during its expected.

15 year life span gateway will act as a staging post for man missions to the lunar surface and eventually onto Mars. The plan calls for the first two modules, the PE PA or power propulsion element module, and the halo or habitation and logistics outbursts module to be launched together about a Falcon heavy rocket in May, 2024, and positioned in time for the optimist three mission, which will return humans to the lunar surface.

The power and propulsion element module was originally being developed at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory as part of the now canceled asteroid redirect mission. And when that mission was canceled, the solar electric propulsion system was repurposed for gateway more ambitiously, the power of apportion element modules designed to ultimately transfer the worry is will gateway space station to Mars orbit.

It'll also [00:02:00] serve as the communication center for gateway. The nine Thom module will generate 60 kilowatts of solar electric power using rollout solar arrays for its whole effect thrusters, which can be supplemented by chemical propulsion. Halo will be the main habitation section of the space station.

It'll also include the telecommunication section of the European space stations, a Sprite service module. The rest of which includes a small window habitation section, as well as docking ports in airlock and refueling infrastructure for the space station. And for lunar Landers, a Sprite will launch in 2027.

Another component called the international habitation module, or I have, is being jointly developed by the European space agency and the Japanese aerospace exploration agency it's led for launch in 2026. And we'll include a new Canadian space agency, robotic arm. Other proposed elements include logistics modules for suppliers and a purpose-built airline module for extra vehicular activities outside the space [00:03:00] station, including a docking port for deep space transport.

Astronauts will occupy the 40 time gateway space station for up to 90 days at a time, gateway will be positioned in a highly elliptical trans lunar orbit known as the knee erector, linear halo orbit. Instead of orbiting around the moon in low lunar orbit, like the international space station does around the earth gateway will follow a highly eccentric path at its closest it'll pass to within 3000 kilometers of the lunar surface.

But it will then swing back out again to some 70,000 kilometers. The idea is to bring gateway both relatively close to the moon for excursions down to the lunar surface, and also allow for shorter trips for spacecraft traveling to and from the earth loaded with crews and supplies. Thing is most current rockets don't have enough power to reach the moon in one go, but they would be at a rich gateway.

It means the European space agencies, Arianne six, could be used to deliver [00:04:00] supplies for astronauts, for use on missions to the moon or deeper into space. At the other end of the journey, NASA will use a modified version of space X, a Starship earnest the Starship human landing system, or HLS as a lunar Lander to transport, cruise robots, supplies, and infrastructure down to the moon surface.

When the gateway is closest to the moon, which happens about every seven days. Likewise, the transfer window back to gateway opens about every seven days for the return trip from the lunar surface gateways orbit rotates together with the moon and a scene from earth. It'll appear a little like a lunar halo, orbits like this a possible because of the interplay between the earth and moon's gravitational forces.

As two large bodies dance through space, a smaller object can be caught in a variety of stable or near stable positions in relation to the orbiting masses, also known as libration or the grungy and points. These locations are perfect for planning long-term missions. And to [00:05:00] some extent dictate the very design of the spacecraft, what I can carry to and from orbit and how much energy it needs to get there and stay there.

So traveling on the near rector, linear halo orbit, one revolution of the gateway space station in its orbit around the moon would take about seven earth days. The period was chosen to limit the number of eclipses with the gateway will be shrouded by the earth or moon shadow. However, ni rectilinear halo, orbits are slightly unstable and objects in these orbits have a tendency to drift away.

So regular small station keeping maneuvers will be needed to keep gateway position. And that's where the power and propulsion element module comes in acting as a key to the entire autonomous program. This report from NASA TV, going to the moon to inspire the next generation, to advance our understanding of the universe so that we can share the benefits with all here.

And now [00:06:00] we are going to use partners who see the critical roles they play as nothing short of advancing the cause of humanity. Today we take the next step in the Artemis program towards our moon 2024 objective with a partnership that is the first of its kind XR technologies will watch and demonstrate the foundational element of gateway, the power and propulsion home.

We believe in the need to accelerate the advancement system. Science technology and human exploration. The gateway is our lunar orbiting station and is a critical piece of sustaining our presence on the moon. As a hub for science technology and human travel, the gateway will allow us to reach areas of the moon that have never been accessible before the gateway will be built in two phases.

The first is a minimalistic design that will prepare the way for human landings by 2024. The second phase. We'll see the addition of modules that expand the habitation and long-term science capabilities by 2028, thus enabling sustained missions to the moon. The initial [00:07:00] element of the gateway and the focus of this partnership is the power and propulsion element or PPE as we call it, this element will be the source of trust.

Power communication and the foundation upon which all other modules are added. The unique nature of this partnership allows us to accelerate our lunar return together. We are poised to meet a launch date in 2022. Initially the PPE will be owned and operated in orbit around the moon by our commercial partner.

NASA will take delivery of the element. After a successful demonstration, the systems developed here will drive down the cost of future lunar exploration and enable sustained missions on the surface. It will also demonstrate what is possible for future missions to Mars. One such example of this focus development is the advancement of a proven technology with the PPEs engine, a solar electric propulsion flustered.

These thrusters were pioneered in the 1960s and have proven to be [00:08:00] incredibly efficient and reliable with hundreds of thousands of hours of successful space flight operations, specifically SAP systems are known for their fine control of spacecraft due to their low thrust, their ability to fire continuously for years at a time, and their ability to allow a craft to stop.

Start and change directions to visit multiple destinations. This partnership calls for the demonstration of a new electric propulsion system on gateways, PPE using advanced hall thruster technology. The gateway PPE will provide three times. The power of current solar electric propulsion systems are returned to the moon is now well underway.

Max, our technologies is now tasked with bringing their unique power propulsion element design to life, watching it into orbit around the moon and demonstrating its capabilities to NASA. And in that report from NASA TV, we heard from NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine. Gateway project manager, Dan Hartman, gateway power propulsion element director, Michelle Gates, gateway power propulsion element manager, Mike [00:09:00] Barrett and Nasser associate administrator William Gutstein Maya.

This is space time. Still the comm strata launch undertakes its second test flight two years after the maiden flight and 60 more Starling satellites placed into orbit or that a much more store to come space time.

The strata launch mothership has finally undertaken a second test flight two years after the maiden flight first sent the giant twin fuselage six engine plane into the skies. The flight took off from strata launches base in California's Mojave desert, the giant aircraft. Second only in size to the Anthem of a and two to five.

Maria is designed to drop launch orbital rockets weighing up to 250 [00:10:00] Toms from high altitude. Goodbye Burt Rutan scaled composites, and especially constructed hangar at the Mojave air and space port in California. The aircraft rolled out in 2017. It's stunning design is a super-sized version of scaled composites, Virgin galactic white Knight, two mothership used to launch the company spaceship to wing space plane.

Strata launch is powered by six Pratt and Whitney PW, 40 56 engines positioned on pilots, outboard of each fuselage. Many of the aircraft systems have been adopted from the Boeing seven 47, 400, including the engines, avionics flight deck, and landing gear. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 590 Toms off a 3.7 kilometer long runway and a wingspan of 117 meters even greater than the 68 meter wingspan used by the famous, how it use age four, flying boat, the spruce goose.

Strata launch first flew on April the 13th, [00:11:00] 2019 reaching an altitude of 5,200 meters or 17,000 feet and a speed of 305 kilometers per hour during its two hour and 29 minute flight from the Mojave desert. Aaron spaceport. The future of strata launch had been in doubt ever since the death of the companies found a pole album back in October, 2018.

The new test is part of a push by the company's new owners to market the 340 ton aircraft. The launch hypersonic vehicles they say could also be used to air lodge up to three orbital Pegasus XL rockets at a time, or the Sierra Nevada dream chaser, orbital space plane. This is spacetime still the come 60 more style think satellites placed into orbit and German and Swedish intelligence agencies, warn of the growing efforts by a rant to obtain the technology needed to develop nuclear weapons.

All that and more still to come on. Space, time.

[00:12:00] space X has successfully launched its 25th Starling mission placing another 60 Starlink broadband internet satellites into orbit. 70 meter tall Falcon nine was launched from the Cape Canaveral spaceport station in Florida. It was the 120th flight of a Falcon rocket coming 15 years to the day after the very first launch of space.

X's original Falcon. One way, way back on March the 24th, 2006 for this latest mission, the 60 Starlink satellites on board was successfully deployed into a 550 kilometer high orbit. Meanwhile, the fucker nine core stage returned to work safely. Following the launch landing on a drone ship preposition 630 kilometers down range in the North Atlantic ocean.

It was the seventh launching landing of the same booster and the [00:13:00] 81st successful recovery of an overload class, rocket by space X. The styling network could eventually number more than 30,000 satellites. But for now, at least initial plans call for just 1,584 spacecraft, much to the disappointment of astronomers who see the styling train strike across the skies, hampering their vital scientific research.

This is space time. Still the calm German and Swedish intelligence agencies. One of growing efforts by rant to obtain nuclear weapons technology, and later in the science report. And you study warns that sleeping less than six hours a night could put you at a higher risk of dementia. Oh, that a much more still to come on.


[00:14:00] German and Swedish intelligence agencies have warned of growing efforts by Iran to obtain the technology and equipment needed to build nuclear weapons. The warning comes as the Islamic Republic continues to claim that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes. Only the German intelligence agency in its April 29th report says Tehran has not ceased at strive to obtain weapons of mass destruction or the products used for their manufacturer as well as the corresponding weapons carrier systems, a reference to the ongoing development by Tehran of nuclear missiles under the cover of a space program.

The intelligence document warn that Germany remains in the focus of intelligence, espionage activities by the Islamic Republic. It also found there was some 1050 known members of the Iranian sponsored Hezbollah, terrorist organization, living in Germany. Last year, the German government outlawed has  activities in the federal Republic.

Joining the [00:15:00] United States, Canada, the Arab league, Israel, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and many other nations, which classify as Bella as a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, Sweden security service says, Hey, Rand's been seeking Swedish technology for its nuclear weapons program. The warning was disclosed in its 2020 intelligence report, which found that the Islamic Republic of Iran together with China and Russia remained Sweden's biggest.

The security threats, the security service report also warns that Iran is conducting industrial espionage, which mainly targets Swedish high-tech industries and products, which can be used in nuclear weapons programs. It says he ran is investing heavy resources in this area, and some of those resources are targeting Sweden.

The Swedish in Germany, intelligence documents come in the wake of recent warnings by the United nations. That Iran is continuing to push forward with its nuclear activities highlighted by the start-up of a cascade of [00:16:00] 164  centrifuges and two cascades, including 30 I R fives and 30 ISX S centrifuges.

Centrifuges a key to enriching uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas, thereby separating out the fissile uranium two 35 from the FIS all uranium two 38. The move is the latest breach of Tehran's 2015 Vienna nuclear non-proliferation treaty designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to only use Aja one centrifuges for uranium enrichment. All it needs rich nuclear power stations, but it did allow Iran to have a limited number of IFR four. And I have five devices purely for testing. The international atomic energy agency is concerned that Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium is not more than 14 times over the limit.

It agreed to under the Vienna treaty. The nuclear watchdog says that as of February the 16th, this year Iran's turtle enriched uranium [00:17:00] stockpiles stood at 2967.8 kilograms. The limit Tehran a grade two was 300 kilos. There are also concerns about Iran continuing to restrict nuclear weapons, inspectors from accessing suspected nuclear sites.

It's still not explained the presence of nuclear material at one undeclared site or explain what happened to a missing metal disk of uranium is only use is in a thermonuclear bomb. In fact, producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys is yet another violation of the 2015 nuclear accord.

Greeted by Terry ran the latest estimates suggest Iran now has enough enriched uranium for at least two nuclear weapons. And it continues to develop and test its nuclear missile delivery system under the guise of a space program T rans developing long range, nuclear missiles in collaboration with North Korea, which also developed its nuclear missiles under the cover of being a space [00:18:00] program in February, Iran successfully launched the soldier.

Now one rocket on a suborbital flight. The interesting thing is the rocket, which is a solid fuel first and second stages together with a small liquid fuel Vernier engine kick stage was designed to be flown, not from a conventional launchpad, but from an army mobile launcher, a system normally exclusively used for strategic weapons and one described by the Iranian defense ministry as providing special capabilities.

That flight was yet another breach of T ranch, nuclear weapons ban treaty, which prohibits the Islamic Republic from developing missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads. And it follows tests by Tehran of moddable independently targeted re-entry vehicle warheads known as MIRVs, which are used by miss.

I was carrying model thermonuclear war heads. There are also concerns by the international atomic energy agency. Over the Islamic Republic's research into various fusing, arming and firing systems designed to make [00:19:00] its missiles more capable of readily delivering and nuclear warhead. This is space time.

And Tom out of take yet another brief look at some of the other stories making use in science this week with a science report, a new study wards that sleeping less than six hours a night could put you at a higher risk of dementia in later life. The findings reported in the journal nature communications used survey data from 7,959 people who've been involved in ongoing health studies since 1985.

Researchers looked at sleep data from when the participants were aged 50, 60, and 70 against those who went on to be diagnosed with dementia at all ages less sleep was associated with a higher risk of dementia with a 30% increased risk. For those who consistently slept less throughout the years. [00:20:00] A new study has concluded that earth, worst mass extinction events, some 252 million years ago evolved much slower on land than what it did in the sea.

The end Permian mass extinction event was triggered by massive volcanic eruptions causing catastrophic climate change. And within a hundred thousand years, more than 85% of all species living in the oceans went extinct. Yeah. People assume that because the Marine extinction happened over such a short period of geologic time, life on land should have followed the same pattern.

But the thing is the new studies are suggesting that's not what happened. A report in the journal of the proceedings of the national Academy of sciences claims a detailed study of the fossil record of 588 land animals that lived in what is now South Africa's Karoo basin at the time of the Permian mass extinction found that on land extinction took 10 times longer.

One reason for the discrepancy could be that oceans can absorb chemical changes and stabilize [00:21:00] themselves until they reach a tipping point after which there's a sudden ecosystem collapse, similar to what starting to happen. Now with breakdowns in ocean acidification and coral bleaching events, paleontologist have discovered the fossilized remains of a new species of Serra pod dinosaur in Northern Chile.

Eric  lived in what is now the Atacama region of Chile during the late Cretaceous period between 84 and 66 million years ago. A report of the journal Cretaceous research says the partial skeleton, which includes fossilized, cervical and dorsal vertebra, as well as humorous, femur and lower spine from a Sabbat about 6.3 meters or 22 feet long.

It's the most complete Sarah pod dinosaur ever recorded in Chile or the South Pacific margin of South America. Sarah pods were large, had Bebras dinosaurs with elephant like bodies and legs along NIC and small head at one end. And the long tail of the other, a [00:22:00] new book by environmental scientists, Shanna Swan claims human penises are shrinking and becoming malformed because of pollution.

Swan says the cause of the shrinkage is the presence of fella at Esther's commonly found in manufactured plastics, which impact human genitals by altering the hormone producing endocrine system. And as a consequence has led to more males being born with small penises Swan's findings are based on multiple peer review studies, including one which found sperm levels among males in Western countries had dropped by more than 50% over the past four decades.

There's growing outrage in the United Kingdom, following the release of new guidelines, recommending acupuncture as part of a regimen for dealing with chronic pain acupuncture was developed at a time long before science-based medicine. And before anything significant was understood about biology, the normal functioning of the human body or disease pathology.

One of the big problems with [00:23:00] acupuncture is that it lacks any plausible scientific mechanism to work. That's because there are no life, energy meridians for it to work through. And so there is no cheat to require balance and flow. There is a great deal of literature on the clinical effects of acupuncture and almost all of its negative with scientifically controlled clinical trials, showing that acupuncture simply does not work.

Mind you, a lot of people are surprised at that finding probably because the media tends to cherry pick a parent positive studies and tends to uncritically, critically press releases by those promoting acupuncture. Tim Mendham from Australian skeptic says the British decision to recommend acupuncture has been criticized.

Yeah. This is a national Institute for health and care excellence.

It is part of the UK national health system. And basically it's there to offer advice and guidance to medical professionals on. Practices on [00:24:00] techniques and technologies, et cetera. And they put out a position, paper and advice on chronic pain management and they suggest various things that you can do in amongst it is they suggest acupuncture to be part of the regimen for treating chronic pain.

Now acupuncture can have. A bit of a function that can be like a minor analgesic.

It's really hard to test, but it's largely placebo

and measuring tiny, small potential use in that. It was shame acupuncture, which is supposedly sticking the needles in places where they're not supposed to be the meridians, the energy lines. But then if the energy lines don't really exist, it's all sham acupuncture. Yeah. The whole concept of acupuncture about Meridian lines, which travel through your body and you can tap into the energy.

Along these lines. It's ridiculous. It doesn't stop. So therefore you have to think why is there a mild analgesic and my people perceived about it. It might actually [00:25:00] be just sticking pins in your body. Might make people feel nice. You would buy her metal or wooden spike. I don't know if that would make me feel it would certainly make me forget about any other pain.

Well, it's not quite a wooden stake through the heart. Right. I know, I know, but the trouble is that the, the underlying philosophy behind acupuncture was just not correct. And it was just based on these entities, sliders, and they don't exist. Maybe it's just triggering some sort of natural body reaction because the body's being attacked in any case.

So the width of there is a month. I'm not incorporating it into a chronic pain treatment is probably ill-advised. It's also, it can be dangerous. There are cases of people. There's one case I was reading about recently where a woman's heart was punctured because the needle was put in far enough in the bypass, the bones that are in the way, the sternum or whatever, the ribs that are in the way of the heart that went straight through and piece the heart and they died.

So, I mean, just sticking needles is not a, it's not as simple a technique that can be 30 Naples. Of course I would not probably sterilized, strictly [00:26:00] speaking, if you're going to be using needles, you want to throw them away after every time they use, I'm sure a lot of. Acupuncture side through that. So there's a whole lot of issues.

So this, from an authority body in the UK, to suggest that acupuncture should be part of a regimen to treat chronic pain is just ridiculous. And it has been heavily criticized for suggesting this it's Tim Mendham from Australian skeptics.

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