Umm, I don't know how you define the "first bona-fide British astronaut in space", but surely this should be Helen Sharman in 1991 - 22 years ago...
Space this year was dominated by space rocks big and small - whether we want to dodge 'em, mine 'em, or watch 'em explode near the Sun, we sure do love those asteroids, comets, meteors and meteorites. 2013 was also another year in Earthlings' continued obsession with all things Martian. We want to go there and we want to live …
Mr. Bedford and Mr. Cavor from 'First Men in the Moon'?
Great review of the year. Thanks Reg! See you all next year.
...is awesome! Hoping for some exciting discoveries in 2014. My son and I will be on the back deck with his new telescope trying to make a few of our own (they're all exciting when you're 6).
add three per cent extra risk to the existing 20 to 25 per cent risk of fatal cancer
Is that really unacceptable? How about selecting from those with a lower than usual family history of cancer?
Why not let me sign a disclaimer, saying I take full responsibility for the extra 3%? And I will take out an extra insurance policy to cover my medical costs in the event I do get cancer. Will they let me go then?
Bloody pathetic bureaucrats that decide whether it is acceptable or not! Let us choose for ourselves, please!
Get the mass right
The Russian meteor is estimated to have been about 12000 tons not 10 tons - for more info see the wiki entry
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelyabinsk_meteor )
Re: Get the mass right
After deflection by Putin's Iron Fist, the poor meteor just had 10 tonnes left.
(It is "tonnes" not "tons")
Asian Space Agencies...
Since the Russians, Indians, Chinese and even the Iranians launch from Asia, they all qualify.
Their results were broadly positive. It is clear that any Moon-landing methodology is more popular in Asia than the USA, Things can always change, though.
I don't know how this wide-ranging topic goes without mentioning Mars-one. Although great enthusiasm has been shown, it may not be as intense or broad-based as originally hoped.
Finally, the India Mars-probe had a key failing that involved a full-power orbit adjustment. Did they ever get a fix or have they relegated their mission to the half-power orbit adjustments that worked when they left Earth Orbit.
From a USA perspective, the increasing use of the Commercial service providers has been VERY interesting. They have learning curves, just like anyone else. I don't know if the international community see this as revolutionary a change as USA people do. For too long, people have treated Basic-Research agencies (NASA, for one) like they were commercial service providers. NASA has been a whipping boy of the USA+international press because it DOES NOT perform like a commercial company.
Nobody has to get cancer, nor is anyone likely to die of depressurization from
small meteors piercing a space capsule on long journeys, nor does anyone
have to be depressed by the thought of being encased in shit.
George Bull, the Canadian-American Werner von Braun, was building powder-
loaded "Superguns" to put sturdy payloads into orbit at a small fraction of the
cost of rocket launches.
One SDI project that was axed to save others was the "gas gun", using rubber
bladders of flammable gas instead of gunpowder, but even as a US govern-
ment project it probably would have substantially lowered the cost of putting
sturdy payloads in orbit.
Since George Bull and the US government did the first part of R&D, private
ventures could eliminate most of the cost of putting sturdy payloads in orbit
by finishing their work on one or both types; "supergun" or "space cannon".
'Sturdy payloads' would include dovetailed sections of heavy radiation and
meteor shielding, to be assembled in orbit, around a rocket-launched crew-
capsule. The shielding sections could be bundled and fired into orbit many
times at very low cost, until all the sections were gathered and fastened
around the crew capsule. Much more rocket fuel could be fired into orbit in
this way than would be cost-feasible if rocket-launched, so the journey would
be shortened by having more rocket fuel to accelerate and decelerate the
capsule between Earth orbit and Mars.
Other sturdy payloads can include electronics with no moving parts, some
electromechanical devices and structural members and shielding to build
a space station that would be far safer and lasting than the precarious
structures it is feasible to launch and build in orbit now. Because everything
boosted into space with rockets has to be super light, effective shielding
and structural strength to withstand collisions with meteors and space
junk is cost prohibitive as effective radiation shielding is.
So the private company that builds a supergun or space cannon in the
desert will make long space journeys and orbital space stations safe.