Hello and welcome D&D denizens, forumers from elsewhere, one and all!
I've been told to make this thread for ages
(half because people are interested and half because I would often clog up the [chat] thread on launch days), so here it is: a dedicated thread to all things space, spaceflight, space exploration, and also earth-bound exploration as well! I understand that that might be a broad spread of topics for a D&D thread, but I'm confident that the discourse can stay within the confines of those parameters, and that opening things up to that extent will allow for sufficient discussion and thread content!
So without further ado, let's begin:
A little about me: Self-confessed SpaceX fanboy, I nonetheless do try to provide a fair shake (if not always an equal amount of coverage) to other space programs - competition breeds innovation, after all - and there's so much already happening and even more coming in the near future to get excited about in space exploration that I'd be doing myself
a disservice if I only focused on the exploits of one company out of Hawthorne, California.
Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of discussing things that might be
, but haven't gone beyond the drawing table yet. That being said, I welcome this thread as an opportunity for those who DO enjoy discussing those more futuristic, ambitious projects that may only be a key breakthrough away, etc. I really want this thread to be a free-for-all particularly for spaceflight and space exploration. Even a bit of astronomy is encouraged!
I'm also a fan (to a less "fanatic" degree) of earth-bound exploration efforts, particularly when it comes to the largely unexplored portions of our deep oceans. I'm less "to the minute" on the coverage of this sort of thing (in contrast to how I often cover space launches, as [chat] can attest), so feel free to contribute heavily in this regard if you've got breaking news!
Primarily, that's what I want this thread to be about: Breaking news, updates on active missions / spacecraft and / or vehicles in development, and a dash of wild future speculation.
I think that's cool, right? That should work?
Anyway, to start us off, I'm going to hit y'all with a list of nations that have now achieved orbital capabilities, in order of their first reaching orbit:
- Russia, October 1957
- United States of America, February 1958
- France (now part of the European Space Agency), November 1965
- Japan, February 1970
- China, April 1970
- United Kingdom (now part of the European Space Agency), October 1971
- The European Space Agency (there they are!), December 1979
- India, July 1980
- Israel, September 1988
- Iran, February 2009
- North Korea, December 2012
- New Zealand, January 2018
(I left out the achievements of nations like Ukraine (who collaborated heavily with the Russians for their orbital launches [though that may well disqualify NK too, technically] and didn't bother differentiating between the Soviet Union and Russia largely for the sake of simplicity.)
Neat space exploration missions currently ongoing:
- Akatsuki, a Japanese spacecraft currently orbiting Venus, studying the weather patterns and climate of our so-called "sister planet"
- Curiosity, an American rover the size of an SUV, continues to hammer away (sometimes literally) at the Martian surface
- The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, mapping Mars and generally keeping an eye on how things are going down on the surface (and occasionally discovering water!)
- Osiris-REX, en route to the asteroid Bennu to land, grab a sample, and return it to Earth,
a feat first accomplished by the Japanese "Hayabusa" spacecraft
- China's Hard X-Ray Modulation Telescope joins the old workhorse Hubble in Low Earth Orbit to do its space observation thing free of most of Earth's light pollution
- Juno, which began orbiting and studying Jupiter not long before Cassini (RIP) took an intentional nosedive into the "other" gas giant, Saturn
- Voyager 1 and 2, both still totally operational, which is bananas. They fired Voyager 1's thrusters in early December, mostly to prove that they could
- Dawn, the asteroid belt explorer, currently in orbit around Ceres
Upcoming space exploration missions in 2018:
- Chandrayaan 2, an Indian mission to the moon that combines an orbiter, lander, and a rover. If successful, it will be India's first successful soft landing on the Moon's surface.
- Mars InSight, a NASA-built Mars lander, is the only mission heading to Mars in the upcoming launch window. Primary mission is studying seismic activity and a general understanding of how the Martian surface was formed.
- Aeolus, an ESA Earth-observing satellite, designed to collect real time wind profile data, which would be a huge boon to the meteorological community ('Sup, @Chimera
- The Parker Solar Probe hopes to get closer to the Sun than any mission before, and thereby make it the fastest spacecraft on record (using the Sun as reference), beating out NASA stalwarts Helios 1 and Helios 2.
- China has a number of lunar missions planned, and it's possible that two of them - an orbiter and and lander / rover - could both launch in 2018.
Anyway, I think that's enough to get us started - my first post will be probably be about exactly what you expect it to be about, and you should expect that within the hour!