As 2013 draws to a close, I’ve been doing the strangest thing I can imagine. I’ve been writing a page on balloons and rockets into space. It is by no means one of my more favored topics. In fact, writing this up feels strange. But given some space-oriented discussion questions I had seen in the last days, I felt I needed to set the physics and math straight.
It should be easy for most chemists, physicists, and engineers. But I had to realize that there were a lot more people interested in space than just those fields.
I was also doing penance for not providing a short answer to people asking seemingly simple questions. For some reason, I hate simple yes or no. I have to get into the rationale behind the answer. The jury is still out on whether I did penance, or I compounded the sin.
Actually, this was the easy topic. There is another one involving geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). That came on the heels of the successful launch the SES-8 communications satellite by a SpaceX Falcon 9. Another launch, for Thaicom 6, is planned for this Friday, January 3, 2014.
I asked, what would be involved in putting a satellite in geosynchronous orbit (GSO) from Vandenberg AFB? In general you wouldn’t do that, particularly if the satellite is going to a geostationary orbit (GEO) just above the equator. But there might be cases where it is useful. I spent time working rudimentary trajectory numbers, and the penalty vs a launch from Cape Canaveral. I probably need to summarize the mechanics of GTO first before straying into my more exotic case. Hopefully, I will get to post the basic GTO case in the next few days.
This year, 2013, was an amazing year for space exploration and development. I had intended to create a list before the end of the year, but it kept mushrooming with things that were interesting in their own right. To have them all happen in one year was simply surprising. That list is in progress, but will take some time to settle down.