It is uncommon for events to line up as they did for me this morning.
At a 10:00 ATI Staff Meeting, I was asked to write a Blog to market our upcoming course entitled Space Environment: Implications for Spacecraft Design. In this course, students will learn about how adverse interactions between the space environment and a spacecraft may lead to a degradation of spacecraft subsystem performance and possibly even loss of the spacecraft itself. This two-day course will present an introduction to the space environment and its effect on spacecraft. Emphasis is placed on problem solving techniques and design guidelines that will provide the student with an understanding of how space environment effects may be minimized through proactive spacecraft design.
I began blogging, as I always do, by looking for ways to make this topic relevant to things that are happening today. I did a search for spacecraft with upcoming missions which may be worthy of discussion.
I am ashamed to admit that I was totally unaware that only an hour later, a bold Japanese mission was to be putting a lunar lander on the moon. How could I have been so uninformed? I immediately went looking for their live feed.
The lander,built by Japanese firm Ispace launched atop a SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on December 11. The spacecraft then made a three-month trek to enter orbit around the moon, which lies about 239,000 miles (383,000 kilometers) from Earth, using a low-energy trajectory. Overall, the journey took the lander about 870,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) through space. Landing was scheduled for about 60 minutes after I learned about this mission.
I watched the live feed excitedly, only to learn that the mission failed after the expected touch down, and the lander is presumed to have crashed on the surface of the moon.
Although a serious disappointment for all involved in this mission, there are valuable lessons that were learned, not the least of which is that the Space Environment is very harsh, and any miscalculation in that environment can have very serious consequences.
To learn more about how adverse interactions between the space environment and a spacecraft may lead to a degradation of spacecraft subsystem performance and possibly even loss of the spacecraft itself, consider enrolling in the upcoming 2-day ATI course Space Environment: Implications for Spacecraft Design. You can learn more about the course, and register for it here.