A quarter century of Jonathan’s Space Report

Jonathan McDowell - Image credit JSR

Jonathan McDowell – Image credit JSR

Jonathan’s Space Report (JSR) has been covering robotic and human spaceflight activity for 25 years.

In the latest issue UK born Jonathan McDowell writes:

The first issue of JSR was sent to an internal email distribution at my then and current place of work, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, on 1989 Jan 30, a quarter century ago. This was shortly after I had moved from the UK to the USA. As a teenager in England I had been lucky enough to attend meetings of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) and learn from experts such as Phillip Clark, Anthony Kenden, and Rex Hall, whose names will be familiar to readers of BIS magazines.

A family friend at the Royal Aircraft Establishment had put me on the distribution for the RAE Tables of Earth Satellites at age 15, and I spent my evenings with a pocket calculator plotting orbits of Soviet spy satellites instead of studying for my A Level exams. I nevertheless made it in to Cambridge, and emerged eight years later with a decent grounding in maths, astrophysics and computer science. This lets me combine public information on space missions with my own independent number-crunching of the orbital data, and I try and make sure that each issue of JSR includes at least some original material.

JSR began as a weekly report, but has become irregular and closer to monthly as my free time has shrunk. The distribution methods for JSR changed from email to ftp, Usenet, and then WWW; JSR now also has an associated social-media channel http://twitter.com/planet4589. But the JSR content remains as plain text (so that I can prepare it rapidly), and the focus remains unchanged: a concise summary of human and robotic extraterrestrial activity, aimed at a technically literate audience. My goal is to provide a journal of record for the space age, sufficiently objective and international in outlook that readers from all countries and of all political leanings can rely on it. I began it because I felt there was a need for such an information source. As the saying goes, if you want it done right…

Read the latest JSR: http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html

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