communication satellite


EchoStar 23 launches to orbit.

Following a flawless early morning countdown at Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A, SpaceX launched the EchoStar 23 communications satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit. Liftoff occurred at 2am EDT.

Stage separation occurred at two minutes and 55 seconds into the flight, with payload fairing jettison 50 seconds later. Visible in launch footage for the first time, the fairing’s Reaction Control Trusters could be seen firing. Each half of the fairing have a spring-loaded push mechanism to separate the stages and RCS thrusters to clear the top from the rocket.

In order to successfully deliver the satellite to GTO, Falcon 9 had to use all of its first stage propellant, not leaving enough to complete the three burns necessary for a safe recovery. This will be Falcon 9′s final mission in ‘expendable’ configuration.

The 12,100 pound satellite was deployed from the rocket’s second stage at T+34 minutes completing today’s launch.

EchoStar 23 will be positioned over Brazil to provide Ku-band communications services to all South America.

P/C: SpaceX.

These images of the sun were captured at the same time on January 29, 2017 by the six channels on the Solar Ultraviolet Imager or SUVI instrument aboard NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite. They show a large coronal hole in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Data from SUVI will provide an estimation of coronal plasma temperatures and emission measurements which are important to space weather forecasting.

SUVI is essential to understanding active areas on the sun, solar flares and eruptions that may lead to coronal mass ejections which may impact Earth. Depending on the magnitude of a particular eruption, a geomagnetic storm can result that is powerful enough to disturb Earth’s magnetic field. Such an event may impact power grids by tripping circuit breakers, disrupt communication and satellite data collection by causing short-wave radio interference and damage orbiting satellites and their electronics. SUVI will allow the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center to provide early space weather warnings to electric power companies, telecommunication providers and satellite operators.

NASA successfully launched GOES-R at 6:42 p.m. EST on November 19, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It was renamed GOES-16 when it achieved orbit. GOES-16 is now observing the planet from an equatorial view approximately 22,300 miles above the surface of the Earth.

Image Credit: NOAA


Time And Space


Geostationary Highway through Orion 

Put a satellite in a circular orbit about 42,000 kilometers from the center of the Earth and it will orbit once in 24 hours. Because that matches Earth’s rotation period, it is known as a geosynchronous orbit. If that orbit is also in the plane of the equator, the satellite will hang in the sky over a fixed location in a geostationary orbit.

As predicted in the 1940s by futurist Arthur C. Clarke, geostationary orbits are in common use for communication and weather satellites, a scenario now well-known to astroimagers. Deep images of the night sky made with telescopes that follow the stars can also pick up geostationary satellites glinting in sunlight still shining far above the Earth’s surface. Because they all move with the Earth’s rotation against the background of stars, the satellites leave trails that seem to follow a highway across the celestial landscape. The phenomenon was captured last month in this video showing several satellites in geostationary orbit crossing the famous Orion Nebula.

Credit: James A. DeYoung

A thing I noticed about the OPM universe Earth

I think Earth in OPM has 2+ moons???

When i was looking for a planet in space engine to use as a map substitute to place all of the cities I went through the episodes and googled a bunch of reference screenshots and found this from when the meteor was coming toward City Z.

And look at it.

There are 2 very obvious round bodies on the pink and light blue orbits. Now they could be some kind of space stations but honestly??? I highly doubt it. Just because they’re too large in comparison to the planet for that to be reasonable. So boom! 2 moons right there.

BUT there are also 3 unknown objects orbiting the planet, green, purple, and red. The green one I think could be one of two things based on its highly elliptical orbit, either a larger piece of debris or asteroid that they track or a communications, weather, or GPS satellite because that is how those kinds are placed (because usually they need to be over a certain area for the majority of the time and when it’s furthest away it will linger over said area longer), so no moon there. But the other two are further out. They could be satellites in geosynchronous orbit (to explain the lack of highly elliptical orbit) but those are usually about 36,000km out. These look further than the moons. And the moon is 384,400km away from earth. Those bodies look similar to the real life earth vs moon size difference

So I don’t think the earth to moon distance is smaller (that would be really bad for the planet for obvious reasons). That means those orbits are way too far from earth for geosynchronous orbit to be reasonable. So they could either be more large debris or more moons!

Now its almost 3am right now so I could be forgetting something (and also am bias because I like the idea of the planet having multiple moons and being not earth like in general) but whatever. There’s obviously two moons there and I think that’s pretty cool.

President Eisenhower’s Dark Christmas Card

Launched on December 18, 1958, a little over a year after the Soviet Union stunned the world with the launch of Sputnik, Project SCORE used an Atlas rocket as the basis for the world’s first communication satellite. SCORE was the culmination of six months of intense work by ARPA and was designed with two clear goals-first to show that the United States had the technical capability to put a rocket in orbit and second to show that a space-based satellite could transmit a message from distant ground-based locations via the upper atmosphere. SCORE stood for Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment and delivered a very simple Christmas message from President Eisenhower, making it the first human voice message transmitted from space:

This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one:Through this unique means I convey to you and to all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.

Eisenhower’s message had a darker purpose-it signaled to the Soviet Union that the United States had the capability to put a missile in space as much as telecommunications systems. Merry Christmas, indeed!


We’ve known for a long time that ICBMs and other orbital launch platforms look very fucking weird in flight.

1. Failed Russian test of the Bulava missile, fired from the submarine Dmitry Donskoi in the White Sea, 2009, seen over Norway.

2. US Air Force Minuteman III ICBM test, Vandenberg AFB, 2002.

3. US Navy Trident D-5 SLBM test, the infamous “LA UFO,” 2015.

4. Atlas rocket carrying a US Navy communications satellite into orbit, as seen from Miami, 2015.

5. Another USAF Minuteman III ICBM, seen shortly after launch from Vandenberg AFB, 2015.

6. USAF Peacekeeper MIRV test, Kwajalein Atoll.


SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver EchoStar XXIII, a commercial communications satellite for EchoStar Corporation, to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).  SpaceX is targeting launch of EchoStar XXIII from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The two and a half hour launch window opens on Tuesday, March 14, at 1:34 a.m. EDT or 5:34 a.m. UTC. The satellite will be deployed approximately 34 minutes after launch. A backup launch window opens on Thursday, March 16, at 1:35 a.m. EDT or 5:35 a.m. UTC. SpaceX will not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch due to mission requirements.

Ion Propulsion…What Is It?

Ion thrusters are being designed for a wide variety of missions – from keeping communications satellites in the proper position to propelling spacecraft throughout our solar system. But, what exactly is ion propulsion and how does an ion thruster work? Great question! Let’s take a look:

Regular rocket engines: You take a gas and you heat it up, or put it under pressure, and you push it out of the rocket nozzle, and the action of the gas going out of the nozzle causes a reaction that pushes the spacecraft in the other direction.

Ion engines: Instead of heating the gas up or putting it under pressure, we give the gas xenon a little electric charge, then they’re called ions, and we use a big voltage to accelerate the xenon ions through this metal grid and we shoot them out of the engine at up to 90,000 miles per hour.

Something interesting about ion engines is that it pushes on the spacecraft as hard as a single piece of paper pushes on your hand while holding it. In the zero gravity, frictionless, environment of space, gradually the effect of this thrust builds up. Our Dawn spacecraft uses ion engines, and is the first spacecraft to orbit two objects in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

To give you a better idea, at full throttle, it would take our Dawn spacecraft four days to accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour. That may sounds VERY slow, but instead of thrusting for four days, if we thrust for a week or a year as Dawn already has for almost five years, you can build up fantastically high velocity.

Why use ion engines? This type of propulsion give us the maneuverability to go into orbit and after we’ve been there for awhile, we can leave orbit and go on to another destination and do the same thing.

As the commercial applications for electric propulsion grow because of its ability to extend the operational life of satellites and to reduce launch and operation costs, we are involved in work on two different ion thrusters of the future: the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) and the Annular Engine. These new engines will help reduce mission cost and trip time, while also traveling at higher power levels.

Learn more about ion propulsion HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:


SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver EchoStar XXIII, a commercial communications satellite for EchoStar Corporation, to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).  SpaceX is targeting launch of EchoStar XXIII from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The two and a half hour launch window opens on Tuesday, March 14, at 1:34 a.m. EDT or 5:34 a.m. UTC. The satellite will be deployed approximately 34 minutes after launch. A backup launch window opens on Thursday, March 16, at 1:35 a.m. EDT or 5:35 a.m. UTC. SpaceX will not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch due to mission requirements.


This story is inspired and slightly based on the book and movie, ‘The Martian’ and does contain slight spoilers so be warned. 

Also, I know it is not scientifically accurate so please don’t correct me on that. 

Mark opened his eyes and winced, his ears being blasted with the noise of the loud screeching which he could only assume to be the alarm system of his suit. A voice constantly reminded him that his oxygen levels were low and he could feel himself short of breath. His body ached and he was buried deep in what he could only assume to be soil.

What the hell had happened?

The last thing he could remember was that his team was on the mission of an emergency evacuation due to a large storm forming not far from them, as they’d attempted to escape, the communication satellite for their base broke free and had ended up hitting into him, knocking him miles away from the crew.

His only assumption was that they’d must have thought he had died and therefore, they’d evacuated without him.

He slowly pulled his aching body out of the soil and he gasped as he felt a stabbing pain in his side, looking down to realise that a part of the satellite had become embedded in his stomach. Mark cursed angrily and tried to stand up, only to fall down as a wire attached to the part embedded in him pulled harshly.

“Fucking hell..” Mark gasped, searching in his pocket and pulling out a pair of wire cutters which he used to quickly cut at the wire and free him of the thing that kept him tied to the satellite.

When he stood again, it became apparent that the storm had passed and right now, he was faced with the fierce temperatures of the sun beating down on him. He became aware that the alarm was still on and he pressed a button on his control panel that was based on his glove, silencing it and feeling oxygen flood back into his helmet much to his relief.

As he looked around, a tight sensation began in his chest as everything began to sink in. He was abandoned on the planet Mars and to everyone’s knowledge, he was dead.

That included his husband.

“Oh god.. Jack..”

Collapsing onto the ground again on his knees, Mark’s eyes stared at the red soil as he started thinking about his lover back home.

“Do ya have t’go? I’m gonna miss yeh.. You’ll be gone fer nearly a year” Jack said with a sigh, resting his head on the man he called his husband’s chest and cuddled in closer to him. Mark looked down at him and ran a hand through his hair, feeling just as distraught as Jack.

“I know it’s going to be a long time.. But I promise time will go faster than you think, it always does. How can I pass this opportunity Jack? I’ll be one of the first humans on Mars, that’s pretty impressive”

Jack chuckled lightly and sat himself up, deciding to climb on top of Mark and straddle him which if anything, came as a surprise to the older man since he hadn’t really expected this kind of behaviour from the other man. “Well, can ya please make this night one I’ll never ferget?”

A light blush appeared on Mark’s cheeks but he nodded his head, pulling Jack’s head down and kissing him tenderly on the lips. “I’ll make sure you never forget” He kissed him again and ran his hands down his back, listening to the way that Jack moaned.

A moan he’d come to love in more ways than one.

Mark arrived at the NASA headquarters not long after he’d gotten up that morning, saying goodbye to Jack was the toughest thing he’d ever done but he knew that he had to do this.

Two months passed into his training and Mark was in the middle of one of his usual ‘Skype’ calls with Jack when it seemed quite obvious that something was wrong with the other man. “You alright babe? You’re acting kind of..weird”

The Irishman sighed softly and he hung his head low, almost as if he were ashamed of something and this only served to further Mark’s inquisition of what was wrong with his lover.

“Please don’t freak out.. But I’ve been feelin’ sick so I took a test and.. And I’m pregnant, Mark”

Feeling too shocked to speak, Mark just happened to stare at the screen and register the information that the other man had just told him. “Y-you’re pregnant?” He managed, his voice slightly croaky since this was a lot to take in.

Jack slowly nodded his head and wiped the tears that had built up in his eyes. “Yes and.. And I don’t know how I’m goin’ t’ cope without ya” Mark breathed out through his nose and blinked away the tears in his own eyes, trying to cope with the situation.

“I.. I wish I could leave this mission baby, but I can’t.. I’m due to be sent out to the Hermes space station by the end of the week.. If I was to leave, everything would be ruined”

The other man slowly nodded his head and swallowed thickly, still wiping away the tears that dripped down his face. “I understand Mark.. Jus’ please, try and stay in touch with me.. I want ya t’ see the moment I have yer child..”

More tears filled Mark’s eyes and he couldn’t help the sob that escaped him as he nodded enthusiastically at his husband and put his hand up the screen. “I promise I’ll be home for the birth of our child, baby.. I’ll be damned if I don’t keep that promise” Jack smiled at his lover, appreciating his determined nature.

“If ya say so.. Then I’ll keep yeh t’ that promise Mark”

They both smiled at one another and Jack placed his hand on his own screen, the couple sharing the last intimate moment that Mark would remember so intensely.

Despite the pain in his stomach, Mark had found himself lost in his memories of him and Jack to really concentrate on it. He slowly picked himself back up off the floor and wandered toward the base which was thankfully not destroyed by the storm.

As he entered it, the sirens went off which warned a decrease of pressure and he was quick to close the doors which allowed the pressure to return back to normal. A sharp pain travelled through his abdomen and he gasped, holding his wound and realising he was going to have to pull it out.

“Fuck.. This is gonna fucking hurt like a bitch” Mark grabbed hold of the metal spike which was currently sticking out of his body and then quickly pulled it out, shrieking in pain as he fell forward and blood was quick to spill from the hole in his body.

He started taking off his suit and collapsed onto a chair, dabbing at the hole in his stomach as more blood escaped it, he quickly stitched it up and bandaged it before he went into his bedroom and collapsed on his bed, gasping as he felt himself exhausted.

“I’m really alone now..”

Mark whispered to himself, tears building in his eyes as he turned onto his side and started thinking about Jack again. The one man that he was missing the most right now, to think that he was fifty million miles away from him only served to tighten the sensation in his chest.

The last call that he had with Jack was just before they arrived at Mars, it had been about three months since he’d been sent to the Hermes space station and within that time, Jack had constantly updated Mark about what had been happening on Earth and of course, the condition of their child.

“I went fer my ultrasound last week and they told me, it’s a boy” Jack had said, excitement practically taking over his face which could only cause Mark to smile widely since he loved seeing his lover like this. “Baby that’s so great.. I can’t believe we’re gonna have a little boy”

Butterflies travelled through Mark when he saw Jack stand up and he saw just how large the younger man had gotten since they’d last spoken. His bump was so potently visible now and he couldn’t believe that the child making him look like that was his.

“I’m so proud of you baby, I can’t wait to see him..” Mark had said, admiring the way the man had happened to blush at his comment before he sat himself back down in his chair.

“Ya will be back befer I have the baby, right?”

The older man chuckled softly and bit down on his lip, they were only meant to be on Mars for a month and then the trip back would take another three months, just in time for when Jack was due to give birth. “I made a promise and I’m determined to keep it, I’m sure of it babe”

Jack had smiled at him and had suddenly gasped, making Mark panic since he’d never heard him sound like that. “What? What is it?” But then, the Irishman grinned and patted his stomach, laughing away to himself.

“The baby is kickin’..”

As Mark wiped away the last of his tears, it had become apparent to him that he wouldn’t be back to see Jack give birth. With the whole world believing he was dead, there was no doubt that Jack would be distraught, depressed and in all, grieving the loss of his husband.

That hurt the older man greatly, to think that Jack believed him to be dead and that he had not only just lost his husband, but also the father of his unborn child. Mark felt himself get ideas flooding through his head and there was only one thought rushing through his mind the fastest.

He had to get home.