Space Matters #4

The Great Game for Space:

China’s space tracking ship are seeing increased deployments

To match the increased space launch rates , China’s third generation satellite tracking ship the Yuanwang-6 has seen increased deployments. The ship and others in its class act as mobile ground stations and try to crudely fill the gaps in China’s satellite tracking capabilities in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. China’s state news agency Xinhua reports the departure of the ships on its fifth deployment this year.

According to a report NATO is looking to modernise its ground-based space capability infrastructure. 

After declaring space the “Fifth Domain of Operations”,  NATO is to modernise four satellite ground stations. A new Space Situational Awareness Center is also reported to be coming up in Germany to support NATO’s space-based assets.

US government turf wars and the challenge of space debri

With space debri being an increasing problem, the discourse around civil space traffic management is also an area of contention between different US government agencies. The infighting comes even as there are increasingly close calls in orbit. Plans to counter these are described in the article as “being in limbo”.

Launches, New Gear and Plans:

The Crew Dragon launch and its successful docking with the International Space Station(ISS) is being seen as further bolstering the US’s push for public-private partnerships to reduce the cost of space travel and make it commercially viable.

China’s reusable VTOL spacecraft is coming in 2025
A senior Chinese official with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has remarked that China will develop a reusable Vertical Take Off and Landing(VTOL) vehicle by 2025.

Fuel tankers in space may be a reality in 2021 thanks to a startup called Orbit Fabs

According to reports the startup has plans to send up “Tanker-001 Tenzing” aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 , their first operational fuel tanker in orbit. This would give them a capability to refuel other satellites in orbit that can accommodate a refueling operation.

ISRO resumes its streak of successful launches

According to reports, ISRO has carried out the launch of a synthetic aperture radar Earth Observation Satellite(EOS-01) and nine other smaller satellites from private customers from around the world.

ULA Atlas 5 has successfully put in orbit another US National Reconn. Office Satellite, the final orbit of which is classified 

According to reports, the US National Reconnaissance Office specifically requested the United Launch Alliance to cut off the webcast a few minutes after the launch and into the separation of payload stage to protect the final orbit position of the satellite.

Larsen & Toubro has delivered the middle segment for the rocket booster to be used for India’s first ever Manned Space Flight Mission

According to reports the ISRO chairman himself was present to receive the booster segment

Interesting Publications and Resources:

  • A Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University has published a book that warns about humanity’s quest to populate outer space may result into those prospective settlements becoming harsh totalitarian societies that field nuclear weapons.
  • The US Senate appropriations committee has issued an explanatory statement for US DoD appropriation bill 2021 that has a lot of commentary on US Space Force transfers and acquisition plans.

The views expressed above are the author’s own and do not represent Takshashila Institution’s recommendations.