In what seemed to be surprising news to almost everyone I’ve seen mention it (including me), new solar arrays will be headed up to the ISS starting this year. They will sit on top of the existing arrays so as to take advantage of existing capabilities like sun tracking and power distribution.
I was not optimistic about the speed we’d see here, so I’m pleasantly surprised that the SDA has confirmed their original decision to award SpaceX and L3Harris with contracts to build 4 satellites each for the Tracking Layer Tranche 0.
These satellites are no doubt powerful and quite capable, but they’re astonishingly expensive and made in small production runs, which is why the Space Development Agency and other organizations are interested in seeing what can be done with a constellation of sensors.
I had been expecting this news since the request for proposal went up, so nothing shocking here. Now it’s up to the SDA to sort out the protests surrounding these satellites, which is a bigger and more difficult task.
Very special thanks to the 496 of you out there supporting Main Engine Cut Off for the month of December. MECO is entirely listener- and reader-supported, so your support keeps this blog and podcast going, growing, and improving, and most importantly, it keeps it independent.
I’ve long been a fan of Nanoracks, and this is huge news for them. They have a particular kind of grit that I love to see in a company, and that pairs really well with a long-term-focused crew like Voyager. Let’s see how they can put the new investment to work.
I took a ride out to AGI a year ago and got to see what was going on inside Comspoc. I like what they have going on there, and spinning off to their own entity will clean up the communications around what they offer and why it matters. I’m excited about this.
Chang’e-5 follows in the footsteps of Chang’e-2 and Chang’e-5 T1, which all went on to have interesting and sometimes unexpected extended missions. It feels a little like finishing a mission in Kerbal Space Program and realizing you brought along way too much fuel.