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Astronauts quarantined ahead of journey to International Space Station – Montreal Gazette

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This video grab taken from the NASA SpaceX webcast transmission on March 3, 2019, shows a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket docked with the International Space Station (ISS) during the Demo-1 mission.


WASHINGTON — Two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut were spending their final weeks on Earth in quarantine before they are scheduled to blast off on April 9 for the International Space Station for six months as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps Earth.

Launching from a pad in Kazakhstan, the Expedition 63 crew will depart Earth without much of the usual fanfare at the Baikonur cosmodrome and ceremonies in Moscow, as the world attempts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease through social distancing and citywide lockdowns.

“We are ready to go, we are healthy, we’ve been tested very well with the medical teams,” U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy said Monday in a video from quarantine.

“We’ll be watching from space and we’re very curious to come home in October and see what the world looks like at that time.

“As you well know, over this last month, the situation keeps changing on a daily basis for the worse,” he added. “Our hearts go out to all the people over the world that are dealing with this crisis.”

Some 375,000 people worldwide have caught the flu-like virus and more than 16,000 have died.

Even in ordinary times astronauts go through a “health stabilization” process before launching that includes two weeks in quarantine to ensure they “aren’t sick or incubating an illness when they get to the space station,” NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said.

As the pandemic evolves, the agency is considering plans to bolster the health stabilization checks.

The space station has continuously staffed astronauts for nearly 20 years, serving as a test bed for an array of scientific research including studies to better understand the human immune system and micro-gravity medical experiments for vital uses on Earth. (Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Stephen Coates)

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NASA taps SpaceX for future cargo deliveries to the lunar Gateway – SlashGear

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In an announcement on Friday, NASA revealed the first private American space company to receive a Gateway Logistics Services contract under the Artemis program: SpaceX. Under this new deal, SpaceX will eventually deliver various experiments, supplies, and other cargo to the planned lunar Gateway. The space agency has described this as a ‘significant step forward’ in its Artemis program, which is aiming for a manned return to the Moon by 2024.

Under a Gateway Logistics Services contract, NASA will be able to order missions for as long as 12 years, it explained on Friday. The space agency is working on making the lunar Gateway outpost a reality — it will be a small spaceship that remains in lunar orbit, serving as a living space for astronauts, a space lab for scientific work, and more.

As with the International Space Station today, the future Gateway will require regular shipments of cargo and other goods. SpaceX has worked extensively with NASA over the years to launch cargo deliveries, among other things, and it makes sense that the space agency would continue its work with the private space company.

In a statement, NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Deep Space Logistics manager Mark Wiese said:

This is an exciting new chapter for human exploration. We are bringing the innovative thinking of commercial industry into our supply chain and helping ensure we’re able to support crews preparing for lunar surface expeditions by delivering the supplies they need ahead of time.

At this point in time, NASA says that it is planning supply missions to the Gateway that will involve a cargo spacecraft spending between six and 12 months at the outpost each time. SpaceX plays an important role in NASA’s Artemis program and future Mars ambitions, but it isn’t the only private American space company working with the space agency. Among others, Boeing also has considerable involvement with the Artemis program.

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Astronaut tips to survive lockdown: Talk, teamwork, treats – The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post

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Stick to a daily routine, stay connected with family and treat yourself occasionally – those are some of the tips German astronauts gave for surviving lockdown during the coronavirus crisis, which they said was much like their time in space.

Thomas Reiter, 61, who was the first German astronaut to perform a spacewalk, recalled during a Skype conversation with other astronauts on Thursday how he had a tight daily routine in space.

“I think it’s important to follow a conscious routine in such a situation … keeping that routine all week,” said Reiter, now retired.

But weekend treats were important to look forward to.

“During the week we picked out the things from the food container that each person liked the most for a Friday or Saturday evening and then had a bit better food,” he said.

Reiter recalled using Skype to connect with his family from the International Space Station. Sitting in front of a bookshelf, he recommended using lockdown to catch up on reading.

“You have to be able to retreat,” he said, but added that in confinement with others, people must put the group first. “You work together as a crew, you have to think of the others.”

Matthias Maurer, 50, the newest addition to the European Space Agency’s astronaut corps, said it was important to address any niggles before they blow up into arguments.

Read also: ‘Embrace your passion’: Confinement tips from French barrel sailor

“Everyone of us has a quirk which we are comfortable with but which can annoy others,” he said, recalling how his taste for bananas annoyed a colleague who couldn’t stand their smell.

“If he hadn’t said that so politely and clearly, I would have continually annoyed him,” said Maurer.

Alexander Gerst, 43, who commanded the International Space Station, addressed the anxiety people may feel during the coronavirus epidemic.

Before a mission, astronauts think about the worst that could happen and then train how to respond.

“Then you have the feeling not that you are losing control, but that you have some control over the situation,” he said.

“Now the situation is similar. We have a very effective means of limiting this illness – that is that we stay at home.”

Reiter urged people to act likes astronauts going into quarantine before a mission – a protocol to prevent illness in space.

“Some people take the attitude ‘I’m young, I’m not at danger, I have no symptoms, so I don’t need to pay attention’,” he said. “It is up everyone to behave appropriately now, just like for us in quarantine.” 

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Uranus has started leaking gas, NASA scientists confirm – Happy Mag

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As if 2020 couldn’t get any more cursed, NASA scientists looking back through decades-old data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft have discovered a mysterious gas escaping from Uranus.

The data showed some mysterious force sucking the atmosphere straight out of the planet and into space.

Uranus

Photo: NASA/JPL

Highly detailed and scientific NASA research can confirm that something massive is coming out of Uranus.

Buried data reveals that when the spacecraft flew past the gas giant in 1986, it passed through something called a plasmoid that escaped and stole a big old cloud of the planet’s atmosphere along with it.

NASA have learnt from Voyager 2’s gassy expedition that the plasmoid itself was about 127,000 miles long and twice as wide. The data, first published in August in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, will be able to give NASA a much more detailed understanding of Uranus’ atmospheric composition, however won’t be able to tell them everything.

“Imagine if one spacecraft just flew through this room and tried to characterise the entire Earth,” NASA researcher Gina DiBraccio said in a new press release. “Obviously it’s not going to show you anything about what the Sahara or Antarctica is like.”

NASA researchers are hypothesising that a similar unexpected release of gas may explain how Mars ended up as barren and dry as it is. However for this to be known for sure, NASA would have to fly another spacecraft back to Uranus and have a good rummage around.

“It’s why I love planetary science,” DiBraccio said. “You’re always going somewhere you don’t really know.”

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