Guardians of the High Frontier


  1. Guardians of the High Frontier
  2. Tartans on the Moon

Current events

France announced they're launching their own Space Force, complete with satellites armed with lasers and machine guns! Macron must be taking a play out of President Trump's book - the French plan to launch their next-generation Syracuse constellation by 2030. Although space warfare is restricted by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, France has stated that these measures are defensive in nature and intended to protect vital French satellites. They are certainly not the first country to be militarizing space

French Minister of Defense Florence Parly and Air Force General Philippe Lavigne next to a satellite model

Regardless of political opinion or your thoughts on Trump's proposed US Space Force, few people realize that the US already has the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), headquartered in Peterson AFB in Colorado with ~20,000 airmen. They're responsible for classified satellite launches, orbital surveillance, and missile detection in support of all the other branches of the armed forces. So if space assets are essential to any modern military, why the controversy? When Trump advocates for the Space Force, he's arguing it should be separated from the Air Force into a new 6th branch of the military (besides the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard). Whether that's the right approach is not for me to decide; I defer to the judgment of our senior military officials. But it's not stupid or crazy

Which insignia do you like the most?

Unsurprisingly, Russia and China have similar space-focused military divisions tasked with the defense of satellites and other key orbital assets. But while they all have imposing insignias and important missions for their respective countries, I think the US Air Force Space Command has the best motto by far - "Guardians of the High Frontier"

Today I learned

We Americans love celebrating our manned Apollo lunar landings (rightly so!), and yet while we've sent several robotic rovers to Mars, we've surprisingly never sent one to the moon. The Soviets were the first to do so with Lunokhod 1 and 2, and the Chinese have recently followed suit with Yutu. But that may soon change! A team of engineers at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute led by Professor William "Red" Whitaker is developing the briefcase-sized "MoonRanger" rover to land as early as 2021

Artist's impression of MoonRanger with Astrobotic's Peregrine lander in the background

In addition to its primary science mission of plotting high-resolution 3D maps of the lunar poles and craters, CMU is sending up a package of artwork from its School of Art. The 8oz "MoonArk" consists of 4 elaborate chambers holding poems, images, music, and other nano-objects to be taken to the lunar surface

"Carnegie Mellon is one of the world's leaders in robotics. It's natural that our university would expand its technological footprint to another world... We are excited to expand our knowledge of the moon and develop lunar technology that will assist NASA in its goal of landing astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024" - J. Michael McQuade, CMU's VP of Research

MoonRanger and MoonArk will get to the moon on Astrobotic's Peregrine lander, which is only fitting given that the Pittsburgh-based start up was spun out of Carnegie Mellon and founded in 2008. They won the $5.6mm contact through NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program

Best of luck to Carnegie Mellon and and Astrobotic! This Texas Longhorn hopes to see Tartans on the moon real soon! But don't worry, my boy Alan Bean beat you guys already ;)

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