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Asteroid 'wearing a mask' to fly by Earth this week – Newshub

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1998 OR2.

1998 OR2.

Photo credit: Arecibo Observatory/NASA/NSF

A new photograph of an asteroid on its way to Earth appears to show it wearing a facemask.

1998 OR2 will fly by our pandemic-hit planet on April 29/30. It’s a big one – between 1.5 and 4km across – and orbits the sun every 1344 days. 

Astronomers at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico snapped a photo of it last week. In a Twitter post, they said not only are they wearing facemasks to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19, but 1998 OR2 is as well.

“#TeamRadar and the @NAICobservatory staff are taking the proper safety measures as we continue observations.

This week we have been observing near-Earth asteroid 1998 OR2, which looks like it’s wearing a mask!”

The good news is that while classified as potentially hazardous, 1998 OR2 is also practising good social distancing – it’ll miss the Earth by about 6 million kilometres. That’s close by astronomical standards, but still 16 times further away than the moon.

If it did hit, the effect would be disastrous – Imperial College London’s impact calculator suggesting it could leave a crater 49km wide.

Scientists are sure it won’t hit the Earth anytime between now and 2197 – but its orbit is eccentric, so after that, all bets are off.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 200,000 people since January. Not a single person in history, that we know of, has been killed by an asteroid. 

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After weather delay, SpaceX set for second try at first crewed launch Saturday – Yahoo News Canada

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SpaceX successfully launches historic first crewed spacecraft to the ISS
SpaceX successfully launches historic first crewed spacecraft to the ISSSpaceX successfully launches historic first crewed spacecraft to the ISS

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SpaceX successfully launches historic first crewed spacecraft to the ISS
Crew-Dragon-demo-2-launch-NASATVCrew-Dragon-demo-2-launch-NASATV

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="NASA and SpaceX launched the first crewed commercial spacecraft on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Credit: NASA TV” data-reactid=”72″>NASA and SpaceX launched the first crewed commercial spacecraft on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Credit: NASA TV

After being delayed by weather earlier this week, NASA and SpaceX made history on Saturday.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully lifted off from Launch Complex 39A, at Kennedy Space Center, at 3:22 p.m. EDT on May 30, 2020. This is the first time astronauts have launched from the United States in nearly nine years, and it is now the very first commercial spaceflight mission to launch humans into orbit.

“We are so proud and happy for Doug and Bob,” astronaut Nicole Mann, who is slated to fly on a future commercial launch on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, said in a NASA statement earlier this week. “It feels kind of like one of your close family members having a great lifetime achievement — and really, that’s what it is.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Watch below for a full recap of this historic space launch.” data-reactid=”76″>Watch below for a full recap of this historic space launch.

After the launch, the Falcon 9 booster completed its journey to orbit, carrying Behnken and Hurley onboard Crew Dragon, in just under 9 minutes. By the time the astronauts got to experience the weightlessness of being in orbit, the 1st stage of the Falcon 9 rocket was already setting down on the droneship “Of Course I Still Love You”, out on the Atlantic Ocean.

Crew-Dragon-Launch-3Crew-Dragon-Launch-3

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The first stage of the Falcon 9 booster rocket sits on the droneship out at sea (left). Meanwhile, Behnken and Hurley continue their mission in space (right). Credit: NASA TV” data-reactid=”103″>The first stage of the Falcon 9 booster rocket sits on the droneship out at sea (left). Meanwhile, Behnken and Hurley continue their mission in space (right). Credit: NASA TV

Now, as Crew Dragon makes its way towards the International Space Station, set to arrive at 10:29 a.m. Sunday, May 31, this Falcon 9 booster will be brought back to shore. It will either go on to launch other missions – crewed or uncrewed – into space, or SpaceX may turn it into a monument, as they did with the first booster that they successfully landed at Cape Canaveral.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="WEATHER OR NOT” data-reactid=”105″>WEATHER OR NOT

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The final updated weather forecast from the U.S. Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron, as of Saturday afternoon, gave a 70 per cent chance of favourable conditions for the Demo-2 launch attempt. The primary weather concerns given were the potential for cumulus or anvil (cumulonimbus) clouds in the vicinity of the launch site, and the possibility of the rocket flying through precipitation. All of those conditions cleared in the area as of around 2:30 p.m. EDT, allowing the forecast team to give a "go" for weather on the launch.” data-reactid=”106″>The final updated weather forecast from the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, as of Saturday afternoon, gave a 70 per cent chance of favourable conditions for the Demo-2 launch attempt. The primary weather concerns given were the potential for cumulus or anvil (cumulonimbus) clouds in the vicinity of the launch site, and the possibility of the rocket flying through precipitation. All of those conditions cleared in the area as of around 2:30 p.m. EDT, allowing the forecast team to give a “go” for weather on the launch.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="While cumulus or cumulonimbus clouds near the launch site would indicate the presence of turbulence and possibly strong upper-level wind shear, both of which could affect a rocket's flight, the only reason for these rules is the potential for lightning.” data-reactid=”107″>While cumulus or cumulonimbus clouds near the launch site would indicate the presence of turbulence and possibly strong upper-level wind shear, both of which could affect a rocket’s flight, the only reason for these rules is the potential for lightning.

45th Weather Wing forecasters consider a list of 10 Lightning Launch Commit Criteria (LLCC) leading up to a rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center.

The conditions they were on the lookout for: cumulus clouds or lightning-producing storm clouds over or down-range of the launch site; thick stratus clouds directly above the rocket; anvil clouds (cumulonimbus) or rainy weather to the west of the launch pad; the presence of strong electric fields in the vicinity of the launch site. Any of these conditions could either produce natural lightning, or cause rocket-triggered lightning, which is potentially disastrous for the mission and crew.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read: Lightning strikes almost doomed the 1969 Apollo 12 Moon mission” data-reactid=”110″>Read: Lightning strikes almost doomed the 1969 Apollo 12 Moon mission

The launch attempt on Wednesday, May 27, was called off with just 17 minutes to go before T-zero. The launch team scrubbed the mission due to several weather issues, including rain, cumulus clouds and what NASA called “field mills”. Field mills refers to an instrument used to detect electric field levels in the atmosphere. The presence of strong electric fields in the area is a good indication that there is the potential for lightning in the clouds around the launch site. A rocket launching in such an environment would act as a lightning rod, triggering a lightning stroke even if one was not likely to happen naturally.

The weather factors not included in the forecasters’ Probability of Violation (POV) are the presence of upper level wind shear, solar activity, and the weather and water conditions at the potential recovery locations out on the Atlantic Ocean. These conditions could potentially impact a launch, but they are considered separately from the forecast POV.

SpaceX-Demo-2-noon-clouds-closeup-NASASpaceX-Demo-2-noon-clouds-closeup-NASA

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="At 12:25 p.m. EDT, May 27, 2020, SpaceX’s crewed Demo-2 launch stood ready for lift-off, with significant cloud visible near Launch Complex 39A. Credit: NASA TV” data-reactid=”133″>At 12:25 p.m. EDT, May 27, 2020, SpaceX’s crewed Demo-2 launch stood ready for lift-off, with significant cloud visible near Launch Complex 39A. Credit: NASA TV

On Wednesday, when the 45th Weather Squadron forecasters gave their final “no-go” for the launch, they had said it came down to a 10-minute window. If they could have delayed the launch from 4:33 p.m. EDT to 4:43 p.m. EDT, they likely would have been able to give the go-ahead for lift-off. Since the launch window was instantaneous, however, they were forced to stand down.

This emphasizes that, sometimes, making the “go/no-go” decision for a mission to launch on time can depend on the at-the-moment weather conditions. Even if stormy weather is crossing the launch site before lift-off, they could catch a break in the active weather, or they could get unlucky, and the weather is still too sketchy to risk it.

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="NEXT-GEN SPACEFLIGHT” data-reactid=”136″>NEXT-GEN SPACEFLIGHT

Past spacecraft that have carried astronauts into orbit were marvels of technology. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, on the other hand, looks to be something straight out of science fiction that has been made real.

Crew-Dragon-Hurley-Behnken-NASA-SpaceXCrew-Dragon-Hurley-Behnken-NASA-SpaceX

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (foreground) and Bob Behnken sit in the Crew Dragon capsule, which is equipped with touch-screen controls. Credit: NASA” data-reactid=”158″>NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (foreground) and Bob Behnken sit in the Crew Dragon capsule, which is equipped with touch-screen controls. Credit: NASA

Although the two astronauts appear cramped in the above photograph, the Crew Dragon is surprisingly roomy when compared to older spacecraft. Even the current Soyuz capsules are very crowded, with little room for the astronauts and cosmonauts to move around during a launch.

Ripley-on-board-Crew-Dragon-SpaceX-MuskRipley-on-board-Crew-Dragon-SpaceX-Musk

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="SpaceX’s "anthropomorphic test device" or ATD, named "Ripley", made the trip to the ISS during the uncrewed Demo-1 mission. It was certainly not crowded on this flight. Credit: NASA TV” data-reactid=”180″>SpaceX’s “anthropomorphic test device” or ATD, named “Ripley”, made the trip to the ISS during the uncrewed Demo-1 mission. It was certainly not crowded on this flight. Credit: NASA TV

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="According to NASA: "As the final flight test for SpaceX, this mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities. This also will be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit."” data-reactid=”181″>According to NASA: “As the final flight test for SpaceX, this mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities. This also will be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Sources: NASA | SpaceX | 45th Weather Squadron” data-reactid=”182″>Sources: NASA | SpaceX | 45th Weather Squadron

<h3 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RELATED: SPACEX DESTROYS ROCKET DURING CRITICAL TEST” data-reactid=”183″>RELATED: SPACEX DESTROYS ROCKET DURING CRITICAL TEST

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2 astronauts head for launch pad for historic SpaceX flight – Yahoo Canada Finance

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2 astronauts climb aboard SpaceX rocket for historic flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Two NASA astronauts climbed into their capsule Saturday for a second attempt at a history-making ride into orbit aboard a rocket ship designed and built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

Stormy weather had threatened another postponement most of the day, but the outlook improved markedly in the afternoon, just ahead of the scheduled 3:22 p.m. liftoff of the 260-foot Falcon 9 in what would be the first launch of astronauts into orbit by a private company.

Their destination: the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth.

It would also be NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade.

The mission unfolded amid the gloom of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 100,000 Americans, and racial unrest across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. NASA officials and others held out hope the flight would would lift American spirits.

“Maybe there’s an opportunity here for America to maybe pause and look up and see a bright, shining moment of hope at what the future looks like, that the United States of America can do extraordinary things even in difficult times,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

Veteran astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken pulled on their angular, white-and-black spacesuits with help from technicians wearing masks, gloves and black hoods that made them look like ninjas.

Before setting out for the launch pad in a gull-wing Tesla SUV — another Musk product — Behnken pantomimed a hug of his 6-year-old son, Theo, and said: “Are you going to listen to Mommy and make her life easy?” Hurley blew kisses to his 10-year-old son and wife.

Wednesday’s countdown of the rocket and its bullet-shaped Dragon capsule was halted at just under 17 minutes because of the threat of lightning.

President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence returned to the Kennedy Space Center for the second launch attempt.

Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.

“I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t nervous,” Bridenstine said before the launch attempt. “We want to do everything we can to minimize the risk, minimize the uncertainty, so that Bob and Doug will be safe.”

Because of the coronavirus, NASA severely limited the number of employees, visitors and journalists allowed deep inside Kennedy Space Center, and the crowd was relatively small, at a few thousand. At the centre ‘s tourist complex, though, all 4,000 tickets were snapped up in a few hours.

The space agency urged people to stay safe and watch from home, and by NASA’s count, at least 1.14 million viewers followed the launch preparation online. But spectators also began lining the Cape Canaveral area’s beaches and roads. Signs along the main beach drag read, “Godspeed.”

Among the spectators was Neil Wight, a machinist from Buffalo, New York, who staked out a view of the launch pad from a park in Titusville.

“It’s pretty historically significant in my book and a lot of other people’s books. With everything that’s going on in this country right now, it’s important that we do things extraordinary in life,” Wight said. “We’ve been bombarded with doom and gloom for the last six, eight weeks, whatever it is, and this is awesome. It brings a lot of people together.”

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to taxi astronauts to and from the space station, under contracts totalling $7 billion. Both companies launched their crew capsules last year with test dummies. SpaceX’s Dragon aced all of its objectives, while Boeing’s Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit and was almost destroyed because of software errors.

As a result, the first Starliner flight carrying astronauts isn’t expected until next year.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

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Two astronauts climb aboard SpaceX rocket for historic flight – CTV News

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CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. —
Despite more storms in the forecast, two NASA astronauts climbed into their capsule Saturday for a second attempt at a history-making ride into orbit aboard a rocket ship designed and built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

With the flight already delayed three days by bad weather, forecasters put the odds of acceptable conditions at 50-50 for the 3:22 p.m. liftoff of the 270-foot Falcon 9 in what would be the first launch of astronauts into orbit by a private company.

Their destination: the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth.

It would also be NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade.

NASA officials and others held out hope the mission would be a morale-booster amid the gloom of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 360,000 people worldwide, including more than 100,000 Americans.

Veteran astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken pulled on their angular, white-and-black spacesuits with help from technicians wearing masks, gloves and black hoods that made them look like ninjas.

Before setting out for the launch pad in a gull-wing Tesla SUV — another Musk product — Behnken pantomimed a hug of his 6-year-old son, Theo, and said: “Are you going to listen to Mommy and make her life easy?” Hurley blew kisses to his 10-year-old son and wife.

SpaceX and NASA monitored the weather not just at Kennedy Space Center, where rain, thick clouds and the chance of lightning threatened another postponement, but all the way up the Eastern Seaboard and across the North Atlantic to Ireland. Waves and wind need to be within certain limits in case the astronauts have to make an emergency splashdown on the way to orbit.

Wednesday’s countdown of the rocket and its bullet-shaped Dragon capsule was halted at just under 17 minutes because of the threat of lightning.

Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.

“I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t nervous,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said before the launch attempt. “We want to do everything we can to minimize the risk, minimize the uncertainty, so that Bob and Doug will be safe.”

President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence planned to return for the second launch attempt.

Because of the coronavirus, NASA severely limited the number of employees, visitors and journalists allowed deep inside Kennedy Space Center, and the crowd was relatively small, at a few thousand. At the centre’s tourist complex, though, all 4,000 tickets were snapped up in a few hours.

The space agency urged people to stay safe and watch from home, and by NASA’s count, at least 1.14 million viewers followed the launch preparation online. But spectators also began lining the Cape Canaveral area’s beaches and roads. Signs along the main beach drag read, “Godspeed.”

Among the spectators was Neil Wight, a machinist from Buffalo, New York, who staked out a view of the launch pad from a park in Titusville.

“It’s pretty historically significant in my book, and a lot of other people’s books. With everything that’s going on in this country right now, it’s important that we do things extraordinary in life,” Wight said. “We’ve been bombarded with doom and gloom for the last six, eight weeks, whatever it is, and this is awesome. It brings a lot of people together.”

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to taxi astronauts to and from the space station, under contracts totalling $7 billion. Both companies launched their crew capsules last year with test dummies. SpaceX’s Dragon aced all of its objectives, while Boeing’s Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit and was almost destroyed because of software errors.

As a result, the first Starliner flight carrying astronauts isn’t expected until next year.

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