Grey Havoc

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Pandemic inspires children to get involved in science, data suggests​

The coronavirus pandemic has inspired more than a third (35pc) of children to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem), new data suggests.
According to the figures, children in the UK are most inspired to be doctors or nurses (29pc) and astronauts (25pc).
Youngsters have also been particularly engaged by scientific discoveries over the last 12 months.
A survey of more than 2,000 parents of children aged five to 16 across the UK found that 50pc of youngsters cited NHS frontline staff, the scientists behind the Covid-19 vaccine rollout (31pc) and the Mars rover landing (24pc) as events that have most inspired.
However, the research also showed that there are still barriers that prevent children from pursuing a career in Stem.

 

Grey Havoc

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Sorry, here's the article text:
British start-up lands state backing to build interplanetary plasma thrusters
A British start-up that is developing interplanetary plasma thrusters to propel satellites through space has received government funding.

Magdrive, which is based in the Harwell Campus near Oxford, has been granted £64,200 to develop its tech as part of a funding round from the UK Space Agency.

The global space propulsion market is already worth around $5.8bn (£4.15bn) but has been tipped to grow to $19.3bn by 2027. Growth in the sector is likely to be driven by demand for lost-cost small satellites, which can be used for anything from communications to data gathering.

Magdrive, which was founded in 2019, has built a thruster for the satellites that will allow them to move in space and navigate space debris.

The plasma thrusters, which were developed alongside Rocket Engineering, are around the size of a can of coffee.

The company, which closed a £1.4m seed round in December, claims its technology will allow satellite companies to operate on completely different business models.

Magdrive claims its plasma thruster burns 100 times hotter than that of a rocket with the outlay contained by a magnetic field.

In a plasma state, the propellant becomes highly electrically reactive by moving through magnetic coils. This hot plasma exhaust provides the thrust.
The technology has the potential to replace existing electrical and chemical alternatives, which face problems around thrust and efficiency.

Advancing space travel​

The start-up says the technology could ultimately help propel interplanetary travel, since the thrusters theoretically offer greater acceleration than current models.

In the short term, the company said its thrusters will provide “unrivalled combination” of thrust and weight for small spacecrafts.

“In the longer term, successful development of a supermagdrive may allow UK space missions to travel into interplanetary space, prospect among the asteroids and even enable new forms of launch system not possible with today’s chemical propulsion systems,” the company said.

The Space Agency funding was part of a wider round worth around £300,000, which backed four further projects.

Salisbury-based Lena Space is developing a rocket engine for launch vehicles received £74,080. The University of Leeds was granted £74,969 to continue its research into technology to identify hard to see gases in the atmosphere.

Elsewhere Archer Technicoat, an Oxfordshire-based company, aims to develop new tech around spacecraft propulsion to make them more efficient. It was granted £72,778.

Finally, Spottitt, which builds automated monitoring services for waste and mineral sites using satellite imagery received £50,296.
Charles McCausland, head of major projects and technology development at the Space Agency, said the five projects promised to “pave the way” for future space innovation.

“As the UK extends its ambitions for the space sector, early support of this kind could prove decisive in helping us get ahead in an increasingly competitive global environment,” he said.

Amanda Solloway, the Science Minister, said the investment would help fast-track the emerging technologies.

“From observing climate change from space to protecting our satellites from hazardous space debris, these technologies could expand our reach in space and improve life here on Earth,” she said.
 

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Grey Havoc

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I'd suspect that the Russians and Chinese are way ahead in the lead in that regard.
 

FighterJock

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Could we see a return of Anti-Satellite missiles as part of the expansion into space? Or even space based lasers (SDI 2).
Well, technically US already have them - GBI and SM-3 are perfectly capable of serving as anti-satellite missiles, at least for low orbit.

I had forgotten about the GBI and SM-3 missiles Dilandu, thanks.
 

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Smart. Ruskies have a meagre budget for space but as far as military spending for space programs go that is a bit different. They are no joke. Their little satellite trick fairly recently is an example. Supposedly they have satellites with clusters of a kind of shaped charge on them. They have other toys too. We need to counter them and the Chinese. It may not be fun to realize but space is militarized already. Militaries of the world already think four dimensionally already. Th big powers already have rockets to take out low earth orbit objects. This is all inevitable.
 

Dilandu

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Smart. Ruskies have a meagre budget for space but as far as military spending for space programs go that is a bit different. They are no joke. Their little satellite trick fairly recently is an example. Supposedly they have satellites with clusters of a kind of shaped charge on them. They have other toys too. We need to counter them and the Chinese. It may not be fun to realize but space is militarized already. Militaries of the world already think four dimensionally already. Th big powers already have rockets to take out low earth orbit objects. This is all inevitable.

Well, we have the "Nudol" mobile anti-missile missile, which could also be used to intercept low-orbit satellites. Of course, the data is classified, but there are speculations that it could intercept up to 500-750 km high and 1000 km in range.

Also there are air-launched anti-satellite missile 14K168 "Burevestnik" (there are confusion with similarly-named nuclear-powered cruise missile, apparently caused because those projects are from different branches) for Mig-31 interceptor apparently in development. It is supposed to intercept satellites up to 500 km high. Sometimes it's good to be old-fashioned and have fast dedicated interceptor in service)

P.S. In late 1980-early 1990s, there was a IS-MD "Naryad" space-to-space interceptor in development; it was supposed to be an automated spacecraft with enough delta-V to reach and destroy objects anywhere in Earth-Luna system (i.e. including geostationary orbits). The development wasn't finished due to lack of funds.
 

Michel Van

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as Johnson mutter about Space Command
two thing cross my mind:

One - How long will this Space Command exist ?
Britain is notorious infamous for abandoning there Space ambitions several times since 1950s
and with economic problems that come with Brexit, i think there swing again the budget axe and British Space program is first victim...

Two - This:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slYW7kkHyI4
 

Grey Havoc

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The Government is planning to pass the Space Industry Regulations 2021 later this year. However, the wording used in the regulations means there is currently no clear cap on liabilities.

Industry executives are now growing increasingly worried that the legislation will potentially leave them on the hook for hundreds of millions of pounds per launch.

“When I asked about this I was told: ‘Well we have the best regulation in the world, of course it will be more expensive’,” one space industry source fumes.

For small rocket companies, such as Edinburgh-headquartered Skyrora, it is proving an unexpected headache.

“We wanted this to be an opportunity rather than a pain,” says Alan Thompson, its head of government affairs.

Rocket firms are still waiting for launch licences, which are due to be handled by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Under the current plans, the CAA will agree to liabilities on a case-by-case basis. Each operator will take on a level of risk for disasters on launch or in-orbit collisions, after which the Government will step in.

But with no confirmed maximum cap, rocket companies have complained they face a struggle convincing customers to take a punt on the UK when they may end up footing more of the bill than they had bargained for.

In addition to this, there is a further liability for every satellite launched.

Currently, that is set at up to €60m (£51m). But industry figures are concerned this applies to each individual satellite, meaning a launch of a dozen small satellites, each weighing only a few kilograms, could land firms with hundreds of millions of pounds of risk.

“They are the size of a tin can,” says Skyrora’s Thompson, “don’t tell me that is causing €60m worth of damage.”

The Government is understood to be reviewing the €60m liability for satellite launches.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “No launch or satellite operator will face unlimited liability. Insurance policies have been drawn up following in-depth consultation with stakeholders and we will continue those conversations as we build towards this bold new future of space travel.”

The CAA and UK Space Agency did not comment. However, in a recent presentation to industry, the agency said: “Operators will not face unlimited third-party liability.”

Despite such assurances, space chiefs want to see more concrete action from the Government, which has ambitions to capture 10pc of the global space market by 2030.
 

Grey Havoc

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One of the interesting things that I spotted in the article is that there is absolutely no mention of either Kwasi Kwarteng or else the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Which is strange to say the least.
 

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In other news, the UK seems to be taking space more seriously, with a dedicated Space Command in order to protect its assets and interests in space:
 

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Great news. But what I don't understand is why they don't mandate that spaceports must be set in excavated sites (at least partially to minimize the nuisance in a single sector).
 
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Archibald

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Great news. But what I don't understand is why they don't mandate that spaceports must be set in excavated sites (at least partially to minimize the nuisance in a single sector).

noise and explosion containment ?
 

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Yes.
Scraping a few meter out would make for tall walls to surround the site just by moving dirt around.
 

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UK National Space Strategy was published on the 27/09/2021:

“This strategy sets out the government’s ambitions for the UK in space, bringing together civil and defence policy for the first time.”

 

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UK National Space Strategy was published on the 27/09/2021:

“This strategy sets out the government’s ambitions for the UK in space, bringing together civil and defence policy for the first time.”

This strategy outlines 4 key pillars which will support the achievement of that ambition:

  1. Unlocking growth in the space sector
  2. Collaborating internationally
  3. Growing the UK as a science and technology superpower
  4. Developing resilient space capabilities and services
Through these pillars, and a 10 point plan setting out the initial focus areas for the coming years, the strategy aims to establish the right conditions to achieve the UK’s civil and defence ambitions in space.

Ugh. Word salad. HAs anyone read further, and does the "Strategy" actually say "we are going to do This, That and The Other Thing" in terms of actual hard goals? Going to land a man on the moon or put a station in orbit or set up a Falcon 9 launch site in Wales or something?
 

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