WHY did Russia blow up their own satellite?

Today we learned Russia has conducted an ASAT missile test and destroyed one of its own old satellites. Normally this wouldn’t be much of an issue. Countries test their weapons regularly. Plus it was their own satellite. Under different circumstances this would have be a normal news and we wouldn’t even read the details. Unfortunately, this is news we cannot ignore. The satellite in question was in an orbit of about 400 km. That orbit is very very popular. One, ISS. I mean who doesn’t know at this point. And 2, there are many nanosatellites in that orbit. It is close to earth and you can collect a lot of useful data from that orbit. The debris created by this test will endanger the ISS and god knows how many satellites that are currently in LEO.
Now let’s play the devil’s advocate for a moment. What would be a good reason to destroy that particular satellite? surely , Russia has many other satellites. Perhaps some in the 200 km range. Could it be

  1. They were trying to hide something? Maybe they didn’t want anyone to find out that the satellite was painted in pink paint? ~ Unlikely, the satellite in question was launched in the 1980’s. Nobody cares about such an old satellite. 
  2. They needed the space? Maybe they have a replacement satellite ready? Nope. That can’t be a good reason. The only way to vacate an orbit is to fire the booster and set course for the sea
  3. Maybe it was their test requirement. Maybe the goal of this ASAT was to destroy something at 400 km. could be. But why would they risk their own cosmonauts? Currently there are 2 cosmonauts in ISS right now. This test put their lives in danger too. Even if this was a requirement, where was the courtesy announcement? The the navy conducts live firing exercises, they make sure there are no fishermen at the sea. This is a common practice.

Now I don’t have the president’s Putin’s phone number nor  am I a specialist on global politics. So this is my personal opinion, take it with a grain of salt. If you search for news on Russia right now, you’ll see that there are some tensions related with territory and EU politics. My bet is that this was a show of power. Nothing else. My guess is they didn’t want to launch an ICBM into the sea and gather too much news attention. So they picked space and aimed their missile at their own satellites. This way they can flex their muscle just enough to make everyone notice but not enough to create a global news cycle.
This is the misfortune of the field I chose to work 

My Website got hijacked

I made my first website on openshift servers. They had a free plan. Anik vai initialized the whole thing for me. I didn’t have to do a thing. After that, I slowly learned to maintain my own website. Openshift servers then migrated to kubernetes. I either had to migrate my site using kubernetes or have them deleted. Since I don’t know enough web programming and I had no use of kubernetes, I chose not to migrate. My first website got deleted.

Next, I went to wordpress. It was easy to setup. WordPress.org had a free plan. I created my personal site over there. This time, I could build everything by googling. But the problem with free wordpress.org hosting was that it was very very slow. It took me a long time for a small edit. Loading the website was no faster. I had to change the server.

I found a cheap web server where I host my current site. I don’t remember what exactly happened, but I couldn’t transfer my entire website at that time either. I had some text backups. I tried my best to restore my site.

Earlier this month (April 2020) my site got hijacked. Every time I tried to access a page from my site, it’d be automatically redirected to some shady site. I didn’t set up that redirection. I could still log-in into the web site panel. So it was probably some malware plugin I was using. Now, my skills are not enough to clean malware from the server. I contacted my server tech support. Their advice was to do a clean install. Means I’ll lose my data once again. At this moment I cannot hire any wordpress expert. I had to do it myself. This morning I deleted all of it. Thankfully, I somehow managed to do a data restore from a backup made in February. I hope to restore the rest of the pages soon. 

Meeting Astronaut Prof. Dr. Takao Doi

First of all, thanks to Ibukun, without whom I would be sitting in the lab with no clue that Dr Takao Doi was in the campus giving a talk. Somehow, I missed the email from Maeda Sensei which had information about the event. Anyway, I needed no introduction to Dr Doi. I received the first email from Dr Doi back in 2015. That email was a confirmation email to my PNST fellowship. Without the PNST program, it would have been very difficult for me to come this far, this fast. I like to believe I’m not alone. Dr Doi was the chief of the office of outer space for quite a long time (2009-2016). All of the PNST fellows start their journey in Kyutech after receiving that email. Getting to meet him in my final year of PhD was a surprise. Dr Doi is now a Professor at Kyoto University and his students are building CubeSats. That is the reason for his visit to KyuTech this year.

Dr Doi belongs to the first generation of Japanese Astronauts. He was selected to be an astronaut in 1985 with 2 other Japanese. He was the first Japanese to do a spacewalk. He flew 2 missions in space, STS-87 & STS-123. In his first mission, STS-87 he became the first Japanese to perform a spacewalk. In his second mission, he delivered and set up the KIBO module. Did I mention he has 2 Ph.D. degree and discovered 2 supernovae?!

During the seminar, he showed us a few videos of him taken during his expeditions. Talked about the features of Space Shuttle. Communication and other technical aspects of the space shuttle. The landing speed of the Space Shuttle is about 350 KM/hour. And landing is manual. Apparently, NASA has a rule which says, all space shuttle landing is to be done manually by the space shuttle commander. Also, since it has no propeller, it is a one-shot landing. if you miss the landing, and you are not going to have another chance. I didn’t know the commander of the space shuttle is always a US citizen.

Prof. Doi narrating his experience as video from his mission plays.

The seminar was a very humbling experience. A man went to space twice and came alive, where some of his colleagues did not. When asked about the biggest challenge of his life, he said it was training and waiting to be selected for a mission. He waited for over 10- years for each mission he went to. That is a lot of time training and waiting. That’s an amazing level of patience. This really brings out the question, or rather ‘the debate’. The people who have paid a lot of money to companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic will also go to space. But can we really call them astronauts??? Sure they will have the training and will experience liftoff and landing in a SpaceCraft. What about the risk and the sacrifices made by people like Dr Takao Doi, who dedicated his entire youth for training and made numerous other sacrifices in his personal life which we may never know? It is nearly impossible to match their level of dedication.

With Astronaut Prof. Dr. Takao Doi, who has flown to space twice, discovered 2 supernovae.

Maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to take a selfie with Bangladeshi astronaut. The only question is, will I live long enough to do that day??? 

Sir Abed will forever live in our memories

Back in 2015 July, I was preparing my papers for Higher Studies in Kyushu Institute of Technology. At the same time I was a student of BRAC University. I was due to graduate in August. While I was making the preparation, I surprise news came in. If we could manage some research grant, we could start working on our own satellite immediately. A scope was there which later came to be known as BIRDS Project. We were very excited. We tried to approach the key personalities within the university. The time was short and it was considerable amount. We would never make it within the due time.

What if we could go and talk to Abed sir? Would that help? At that time, it was a crazy idea. But we somehow managed a 10 minutes appointment with Abed sir. We prepared the briefing material. At that time, nobody knew about Nano-satellites. Everyone we’d talk to, thought, we were trying to build a 3 ton satellite. So that’s how we prepared our briefing. I don’t remember how big it was. About 10 pages. We included all the questions you might have. What is a Nano-Satellite? Why they are useful? What sets them apart? Also, their limitations. On the day of the meeting, we were prepared to give the presentation. Arif sir would make the presentation and rest of us would be present in the room. Mind you, we were still BRACU students.

When Abed sir walked in, after the brief introduction of everyone, Arif sir prepared to started the presentation. To our surprise, he said something in the line of,

I’ve seen your file. Here’s what I don’t understand….

(* Paraphrased. I couldn’t find the minutes from the meeting.)

Imagine our surprise, until that day, we had to repeat same points over and over again to get somebody on the same page as us. This is quite normal. If you are managing a large office, I really doubt that you’ve sufficient time to do your homework. We understand. That’s why we were there, to show them what we’ve learned.

Abed sir is just not the founder and Chairperson of BRAC Bangladesh, by then, BRAC model has been adopted in multiple other countries. Even countries like USA. (Google BRAC USA to know more). A guy who is managing one of the biggest NGO shouldn’t have had time for our briefing! That’s why we’re just satisfied with 10 minutes appointment.

We’re surprised but we’re happy. We’d now emphasize on the important bits. The questions came one after another. I wish I had taken more notes on that meeting….but from what I can recall, I was astounded that these questions were not general questions. Not questions like, “How big is it?” or “Why is it so small?”. He asked us questions on the topics those we debate over in an appropriate conferences and workshop. If my memory is correct he asked about ‘Orbital Debris’. Orbital debris is still a fresh field to do your research on. This guy, who runs one of the largest NGO in the world, works for the betterment of poor people, has no exposure to satellites, is asking us the big questions. Questions we didn’t know the proper answer back then (Fortunately, Arif sir was there)

All of us after the meeting.
From the Right: Dr. Md. Khalilur Rhaman, Dr. Md. Haider Ali, Dr. Arifur Rahman Khan, Sir Fazley Hasan Abed, Maisun Ibn Monowar, Raihana Shams Islam Antara, Abdulla Hil Kafi.

The whole meeting was just like a dream. It was over quickly. But we took total 20 minutes. He have us extra 10 minutes. We were all aware of the time. We knew the 10 minutes mark has been passed. We’re expecting to be cut off and said something in the line of, “Ok. I see. I’ll let you know. Bye.”. Instead, we received a reply like,

This is great project and a good opportunity. BRAC University should pursue projects like this.

(AGAIN, I’m paraphrasing.)

As he left the room, we were all standing in shock.

“Did our funding just got approved???!!!!!!!!!!”

Is that it? Is that all we had to do? No coming to accounts office everyday?? No talking / meeting with Mr. X?? Are we done???

It appears we’re done. Within days we received the good news that the research fund has been approved and on our way.

Fast forward in 2019, we built the first satellite for Bangladesh and people still grieve why didn’t we do it any sooner.

It was people like Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and Prof. Ziauddin Ahmad who we’re silently watching over us that we could come so far. Both of them are no longer with us. But we will keep walking. We will keep pushing forward. When I grow old, I want to be at-least 5% of the man Sir Abed was.

Thank you sir. You’ll forever remain in our hearts.

This Month in Space – October 2019

New Starship

SpaceX officially revealed updates for it’s Starship. A spacecraft designed to deliver human or payloads to Mars and beyond. Elon said the Starship could launch 100 humans into space simultaneously. First announced in IAC 2016, Starship is slowly making its way into existence.

The technical specifications are off the charts. While talking about the specification, we need to think in 2 stages!

First, there is the starship itself. 9 meters in diameter. 50 meters in height. Six raptor engines burning 1200 ton of Methane and Oxygen. You can put 100+ ton of payload inside its 9m by 18 m fairing. 

Second, the booster. The first stage of the rocket which will lift the Starship to LEO. Super Heavy booster has 37 raptor engine. 9 meter diameter. 68 meter height. Housing 3300 ton propellant. Producing 72 MN thrust. 

The Starship we saw in September, is only Mk1. 20 km hover test will be done with Mk3. 

When I saw Elon making announcement for BFR, or starship as we know it today, I was amused. I wasn’t exactly sure if it would ever come into reality. I thought Falcon 9 was the peak of innovation. A big rocket that goes up and comes back on its own, only to fly back up again. Why would you need a bigger launcher. I still don’t know if we truly need a bigger rocket. With the money being poured into Starship, there could very well be a need. 

https://www.spacex.com/starship

European Satellite Dodges Starlink 44

SpaceX again. This time, not so happy news. When Starlink satellites were launched we raised a concern. What happens to radio inference? Will it fill the space with spurious noise? What about astronomy? How do we get a deep space image when Starlink satellites are bouncing back to earth. What happens to space debris problem? Of all the good things SpaceX have done, personally I wasn’t 100% happy with Starlink. 

NORAD predicted Starlink 44 satellite was headed directly towards on of the ESA satellites. The predicted date of collision was on Sept. 2. Possibility was 1 in 1,000 — 10 times higher than ESA’s threshold. When ESA operators contacted SpaceX, there was no response. I guess this is because Starlink 44 is eventually destined for deorbiting maneuver tests. So to SpaceX, Starlink 44 might not be so valuable. Eventually, ESA operator performed a maneuver to avoid collision. 

I don’t know what went behind the curtains. However, I’m pretty annoyed with this news. SpaceX should thake debris problem more seriously. 

ISRO’s Moon Landing

India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission didn’t go 100% as planned. I’d be surprised if it did. Space is hard. Challenging. We’ll never have enough resources to complete a mission with 100% success. 

With what I could read up online, ISRO’s moonlander couldn’t slow down before touchdown. So it was a crash landing. Since then, the lander went radio silent. According to ISRO, The Lunar lander was spotted by the Lunar orbiter days later. The Lunar orbiter is functioning well.

Regardless of the statistics or the numbers, I this as an absolute win.

https://www.space.com/nasa-photographs-india-moon-landing-site.html

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/india-isro-lander-lost-final-approach-moon-located-190908145405011.html

Before you buy Bitcoin

Maisun Ibn Monowar, 13 September, 2018

As of writing this article, the price of Bitcoin is something $6000+. The support is holding still now. Lot of indicators will tell you to buy them right now. Most probably I’ll buy some within the week. But before you do so, I want to remind you few things.

Global Market Cap:

I’ve seen the bitcoin chart to react heavily to Global Crypto Market Cap. The market cap is now something like $190 B. This is the lowest in last 11 months. This doesn’t indicate a good news.

 

Pump and Dump:

I’m no expert, but I feel BTC has been the victiim of Pump and Dump after institutional players joined the market.

 

FOMO:

Just a reminder, don’t surrender to it.

Conclusion:

I’m not going to tell you why you should buy BTC now, because there are articles already doing so. I just need you to keep these 3 points in mind.

BIRDS 3 CDR

BIRDS 3 CDR has concluded today. With this, major design of the BIRDS 3 satellite is now fixed. We now have a pretty solid idea of the upcoming satellite.

BIRDS 3 CDR Group Photo

Dr. Werner Balogh Visits KyuTech

Posted on January 30, 2016January 30, 2016 by Maisun Monowar

https://photos.google.com/search/werner/photo/AF1QipOOQe1BoSgcvrHK5etXtPWxqcNsSxLAl_JlmSGn

Dr. Balogh with PNST Students

Dr. Werner Balogh, Office for Outer Space Affairs, United Nations [UNOOSA] paid a visit to Kyushu Institute of Technology [KyuTech] last week. During his visit we were fortunate enough to have some of his time, talking about our experience in KyuTech and also Space science in general.