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Breakthrough Discuss Ongoing

There is a public YouTube channel for watching the Breakthrough Discuss meetings, which began today and extend through tomorrow. Click here to go to sessions on “The Alpha Centauri System: A Beckoning Neighbor.” I’ll have thoughts on some of these presentations in coming weeks.


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  • Alex Tolley April 12, 2021, 17:25

    The Proxima radio signal now seems most likely to be RFI based on their detailed analysis. So as expected, but good that the signal wasn’t just a very short transient, but there was enough data of several observations to find other artifact signals that seem to confirm its terrestrial nature even if the source was not identified.

    • Robin Datta April 13, 2021, 1:44

      If it was from a lunchroom microwave, the analysis should focus on the menu.

  • Patient Observer April 12, 2021, 19:17

    I found the Junior Breakthrough Challenge video nicely down and inspiring. One element of it really caught my attention – the highlighting of Vostok I and Yuri Gagarin as the true pioneer of human spaceflight. Most people will hate me for not saying Apollo 11 was the greatest step in human space exploration. The Apollo program was a masterpiece of engineering that stands on its own merits. But it was Vostok I and Gagarin that should be most remembered and venerated.

    • ljk April 13, 2021, 9:42

      True in that no one else had flown into space before, unless you count the animals such as the dogs the Soviets preferred to use over the chimpanzees that the Americans preferred.

      Excellent and reliable details here:


      This is a Soviet children’s book about Gagarin’s flight from 1961. The artist’s spacecraft looks nothing like the real one and the cosmonaut did not land with his vessel after the flight:


      • Patient Observer April 13, 2021, 11:13

        True in that no one else had flown into space before…

        Yep, there can be only one occurrence of the first human in space and it was Gagarin. Here is the official US tweet from the US State Department on Human Space Flight Day:

        Today marks 60 years since the first human was sent to space! On International #HumanSpaceFlight Day, we honor all U.S. astronauts who have ventured into space, including Apollo 11 astronaut and former Assistant Secretary of State Michael Collins.

        I am a patriotic American but that comment must be regarded as shameful.

      • Hamilton1 April 13, 2021, 18:04

        Fwiw, there is a tenuous suggestion that Gagarin may not have been the first – https://www.space.com/yuri-gagarin-conspiracy-theory

    • ljk April 16, 2021, 10:32

      Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1, the First Human Spaceflight


      To quote:

      At about 7 kilometers above the Earth, Gagarin ejected from Vostok 1 as planned and parachuted to the ground. A local farmer and his daughter observed the spherical metal ball of Vostok 1 smashing into the ground, followed by Gagarin gently floating in for a landing in his orange flight suit.

      Gagarin later recalled: “When they saw me in my space suit, they started to back away in fear. I told them, don’t be afraid, I am a Soviet citizen like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!”

  • Afterthought April 13, 2021, 0:04

    Dedicated space telescope please

  • Jeff Wright April 13, 2021, 3:34

    I agree. Some thoughts I would like to share on rocketry: I have wondered about annular solids that would surround liquid inner -second stages. Imagine a cylinder torus filled with grain. The liquid is heated and slides out of stage zero without hoop stresses-the solid took that and is gone. In terms of landers-could legs plunger out hypergolics such that, the more heavily Starship came down on its legs, the greater the cushioning thrust? No throttle-separate from raptors. Their thrust might be inducing a low pressure in that wide open skirt such that the Earth’s or any atmosphere might shove it down…OTRAG tubes might be put alongside wide metal sheets to allow super-wide payloads other than top mounted. Electric choppers ‘ could use motor-generators on Mars to wind harvest power for instruments. Lastly-all asteroid harvests should be in the form of cables for ease of transport.