Saturday, December 11, 2021

December Update

December has been an active month. We started out with 40 people in space and Dean in the lead since November 10 with his guess of 40. That changed to 43 when Soyuz launched on December 8, putting Keith in the lead with his guess of 42. Then after a 2 day delay due to high winds in West Texas, Blue Origin launched 6 people in their New Shepard capsule today, December 11, bringing the year's count to 49. Carol, with her guess of 50, is now in the "driver's seat" for the 2021 MASS Prize. Twenty days to go in the year and no more launches anticipated. Carol says that if she wins, there will be a Dilly-Bar for every MASS meeting attendee. Availability will be determined by the opening of the Villa Park DQ store in the Spring.

It was fun tracking the people in space this year. The two new sub-orbital launch companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, made the count go up considerably. Blue Origin put more people in space than anyone else with their total of 14 on 3 launches. Virgin Galactic contributed 8 on their 2 launches. That makes 22 of the 49 people in space this year sub-orbital rides. Orbital people rode on the SpaceX Dragon (12), Russia's Soyuz (9) and China's Shenzhou (6).

Now we have to get some people flying on Boeing's Starliner capsule and NASA's Orion capsule for the United States and some Indian astronauts on the Gaganyaan capsule. All three of those first manned flights probably won't occur until 2023.

According to the SuperCluster.com website, there has been 612 people who have flown in space. During the brief 10 minute Blue Origin mission on December 11, we set a record of 19 people simultaneously in space. The ISS had 10, the Chinese Tiangong had 3 and the New Shepard capsule had 6.

Thanks to all that participated in the MASS Prize. We'll have to put our heads together to figure what the next Prize will be. Feel free to contact me with your ideas.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

October-November Update

 The busy month of October has come and gone. The Russians launched their Soyuz on October 5 with 3 people including an actress for a 12 day movie making stay on the ISS. The Chinese launched their crew of 3 up the Tiangong space station on October 15. Blue Origin slipped in another sub-orbital flight with 4 people including William Shatner on October 13. The US Dragon flight, CREW3, slipped from October 31 to November 10 due to bad weather and a minor medical issue with one of the crew. But Dragon finally launched with 4 people to the ISS.

These 14 additional people (10 in October and 4 in November) bring the current yearly count to 40. That is right on Dean's guess for the year.

Virgin Galactic has shut down their sub-orbital operation, SpaceShip, for maintenance and will not fly their next mission with the Italian Air Force personnel until well into 2022.

My crystal ball for the rest of 2021 is getting clearer. The only published launch remaining is the Russian launch of another Soyuz on December 8. It will carry 3 people, including 1 cosmonaut and 2 Japanese tourists. One of the tourists is helping Elon Musk fund the development of the new StarShip vehicle and has purchased a trip around the moon in it. I guess he can't wait the few years for that trip, so he has also purchased a ride on Soyuz for a 12 day stay on the ISS in the short term.

The Soyuz launch will push the count to 43 for the year. That would be only 1 greater than Keith's guess of 42, making him the winner of the MASS Prize.

The only "dark horse" is that Blue Origin has said they plan one more sub-orbital flight in 2021 with New Shepard. They said this time the will have a crew of 6. If that flight occurs, it would bump the count to 49. That would make Carol's guess of 50 the winner. It is hard to use a promise from Blue Origin to make her the favorite, only time will tell. Good luck to all.

The final 2021 count will either be 43 or 49. Blue Origin is so tight-lipped with their launches, we'll never know until a week before it will occurs. The tension is palpable. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

September Update

 With the Inspiration 4 mission from SpaceX launching on September 15 , the number of people who have flown into space during 2021 is up to 26.

Upcoming flights include:

  • on October 5 - the Russian Soyuz MS-19 with 3 people
  • on October 16 - the Chinese Shenzhou 13 mission with 3 people
  • on October 31 - the US CREW3 Dragon with 4 people
  • on December 8 - the Russian Soyuz MS-20 with 3 people 
Virgin Galactic has also said that they plan a suborbital flight with members of the Italian Air Force no-earlier than mid-October, once they resolve a potential manufacturing issue with a part in their flight control system of the SpaceShip vehicle. The number of people on the flight is unspecified but SpaceShip can accommodate 6 passengers with 2 pilots.

My guess for future people going into space during 2021 is a firm 13 and possibly 6 more from Virgin Galactic. That makes a total of 19 more added to the 26 already going into space for a yearly total of 45.

That guess of 45 is 2 higher than my last estimate. The increase is due to dropping Blue Origin flying anyone (-4) but Virgin Galactic still planning a flight in 2021 (+6).

Friday, September 3, 2021

End of August Update

Number of people who have flown into space during 2021 is holding at 22.

Chronological list of upcoming manned flights with announced dates is:

9/15/21    US - Crew Dragon Inspiration4 with 4 people

10/5/21    Russia - Soyuz MS-19 with 3 people

10/31/21   US - Crew Dragon CREW3 with 4 people

12/8/21    Russia - Soyuz MS-20 with 3 people

For the 5 spacecraft from the United States:

Crew Dragon - No change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Dragon is 12. 4 have already gone into space.

Starliner - With the failed launch attempt on August 16, there definitely will not be a crewed mission in 2021. During the count down 13 of Starliner's attitude control valves were stuck closed. Investigation found that they were corroded. The un-crewed mission is on hold until the root cause is determined. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Starliner is 0.

Orion - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Orion is 0.

SpaceShip - The FAA is investigating why the first flight varied from its anticipated path. Virgin Galactic cannot fly again until the investigation is closed. Maybe VG is done for the year. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on SpaceShip is 8. 8 have already gone into space.

New Shepard - It was a surprise that Blue Origin flew again on August 25, but with no people. I'm reducing future people to just 4 on 1 flight in 2021. Blue Origin continues to underwhelm me. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on New Shepard is 8, a reduction of 6. 4 have already gone into space.

For Russia - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Soyuz is 9. 3 have already gone into space.

For China - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Shenzhou is 6. 3 have already gone into space.

For India - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Gaganyaan is 0.

My current estimate for 2021 is now down 6 to 43 since the last estimate. The reduction is due to only 1 possible future flight from Blue Origin on the New Shepard.

22 have flown into space and 21 more are still anticipated, 8 from SpaceX, 4 from Blue Origin, 6 from Russia and 3 from China.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

End of July Update


22 have already gone into space.

Chronological list of upcoming manned flights with announced dates is:

9/15/21    US - Crew Dragon Inspiration4 with 4 people

10/5/21    Russia - Soyuz MS-19 with 3 people

10/31/21   US - Crew Dragon CREW3 with 4 people

12/8/21    Russia - Soyuz MS-20 with 3 people

For the 5 spacecraft from the United States:

Crew Dragon - No change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Dragon is 12. 4 have already gone into space.

Starliner - No change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Starliner is 0.

Orion - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Orion is 0.

SpaceShip - Richard Branson along with 5 fellow employees flew their first crewed mission on July 11. No date set for future missions. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on SpaceShip is 8. 8 have already gone into space.

New Shepard - Jeff Bezos flew with 3 people on July 20. During the flight they set the records for the oldest, 82 and youngest, 18, person to go into space. Blue Origin said they plan two more flights for 2021 with depending on the crew size would be 8 to 12 more people. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on New Shepard is 14, an increase of 10 due to additional flights. 4 have already gone into space.

For Russia - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Soyuz is 9. 3 have already gone into space.

For China - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Shenzhou is 6. 3 have already gone into space.

For India - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Gaganyaan is 0.

My current estimate for 2021 is now up 10 to 49 since the last estimate. The increase is due to only 2 additional flights from Blue Origin on the New Shepard.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

End of June Update

Chronological list of upcoming manned flights with announced dates is:

7/20/21    US - New Shepard with 4 people

9/15/21    US - Crew Dragon Inspiration4 with 4 people

10/5/21    Russia - Soyuz MS-19 with 3 people

10/31/21   US - Crew Dragon CREW3 with 4 people

12/8/21    Russia - Soyuz MS-20 with 3 people

For the 5 spacecraft from the United States:

Crew Dragon - The launch of the CREW3 mission has been delayed a week until Oct 31. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Dragon is 12.

Starliner - only change is that Boeing is no ruling out a crewed test flight before the end of 2021. The uncrewed test flight is still scheduled for July 30. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Starliner is 0.

Orion - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Orion is 0.

SpaceShip - There is talk that Richard Branson might try to fly on the next mission during the Fourth of July holiday, so that he can beat Jeff Bezos into space, but there is no announced flight date. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on SpaceShip is 8.

New Shepard - The crew for the inaugural July 20th manned flight has been reduced from 6 to 4. It will include Jeff Bezos, his younger brother, Mark, Wally Funk, the lady that was one of the unofficial Mercury 13 female astronauts and finally the winner at $28 million of the auctioned seat. Funk at age 83 will be the older person to fly into space, beating John Glenn's record of 77 when he flew in 1998 on the Shuttle. 120,000 people have signed a petition that if Bezos goes into space, he should not return to Earth. These people are uninformed because it is a sub-orbital mission. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on New Shepard is 4, a decrease of 2 due to the smaller crew on the first mission.

For Russia - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Soyuz is 9.

For China - on June 16 the Shenzhou 12 capsule launched into space with a crew of 3. It successfully docked with the new Chinese space station for a 3 month stay. Shenzhou 12 brings the total to 12 for people going into space for 2021. Shenzhou 13, with another crew of 3, is planned for October 2021. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Shenzhou is 6.

For India - no change. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Gaganyaan is 0.

My current estimate for 2021 is now down to 39 and decrease of 2 since the last estimate. The decrease is due to only 4 people flying on the first manned New Shepard capsule, not the full compliment of 6.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

End of May Update

For the 5 spacecraft from the United States:

Crew Dragon - CREW2 launched to the ISS on April 23 with 4 people, raising the 2021 count for people launched into space to 7. SpaceX is scheduled to launch the private Inspiration4 mission on September 15 and the CREW3 to the ISS on October 23. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Dragon is a firm 12.

Starliner - The unmanned test mission to the ISS is scheduled for July 30. Review of the data from that flight is anticipated to take 6 months. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Starliner is 0.

Orion - Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Orion is 0.

SpaceShip - Virgin Galactic flew a 17 minute test flight with 2 pilots to a height of 89km (55mi) on May 22, raising the 2021 count to 9. They say there will be 3 more test flights before beginning commercial operation. The next flight will be with 4 VG employees and 2 pilots, the next flight is with Richard Branson himself and the last test flight will be with 2 Italian Air Force persons. No dates have been announced for the test flights. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on SpaceShip is 8, an increase of 2.

New Shepard - The auction for the one of the seats on New Shepard's first flight is up to $3 million. The winner of the auction will join 5 other Blue Origin employees in the capsule. The inaugural flight is scheduled for July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on New Shepard is 6, an increase of 4.

Russia - has announced the crews for their 2 upcoming tourist Soyuz missions. In October, a Russian actress and her director will join a cosmonaut and in December, Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, and his production assistant will join a cosmonaut. Maezawa has already purchased the flight of SpaceX's Dear Moon mission, that will loop around the moon on a Starship with a crew of 8 people. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Soyuz is 9, an increase of 3.

China - has launched the first module of their new space station and then launched a cargo mission that successfully docked with the module. They said they will launch a crew of 3 to the station in June. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Shenzhou is 6.

India - no updates. Anticipated people to fly to space in 2021 on Gaganyaan is 0.

My current estimate for 2021 is now up to 41 and increase of 9 since the last estimate. The increase is due to, 2 more on SpaceShip, (now 8), 4 more on New Shepard, (now 6) and 3 more on Soyuz, (now 9).