NASA officials did not think Friday’s problem would hold up SpaceX, but said they would need to make sure nothing was in common between the two companies’ on-board mission timers. Ground controllers were puzzled over why the Starliner’s timer was not working properly when the capsule separated from the rocket and began flying freely.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said it was too soon to know whether Boeing would need to conduct another orbital test flight without a crew, before flying astronauts. The company had been shooting for its first crew launch by the middle of next year. An additional test flight would almost certainly push the first astronaut flight back.
Boeing’s Jim Chilton, a senior vice-president, stopped by the Starliner’s manufacturing plant at Kennedy Space Center to address employees on his way to a sombre news conference.
“These are passionate people who are committing a big chunk of their lives to put Americans back in space from our soil, so it’s disappointing for us,” Chilton told reporters.
It’s been nearly nine years since NASA astronauts have launched from the U.S. The last time was July 8, 2011, when Atlantis — now on display at Kennedy Space Center — made the final space shuttle flight.
Since then, NASA astronauts have travelled to and from the space station via Kazakhstan, courtesy of the Russian Space Agency. The Soyuz rides have cost NASA up to $86 million apiece.
The space agency handed over station deliveries to private businesses, first cargo and then crews, in order to focus on getting astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars.
Commercial cargo ships took flight in 2012. Crew capsules were more complicated to design and build, and parachute and other technical problems caused repeated delays. Target launch dates starting with 2017 came and went. Last April, a SpaceX crew capsule — the same one that flew to the space station a month earlier — exploded during a ground test.
The U.S. needs companies competing like this, Bridenstine said Thursday, to drive down launch costs, boost innovation and open space up to more people. He stressed the need for more than one company in case of problems that kept one grounded.
Friday’s blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station started flawlessly as the Atlas V rocket lifted off with the Starliner just before sunrise. But a half-hour into the flight, the trouble became apparent.
Ground controllers tried to send up commands to get the spacecraft in its proper orbit, but the signals did not get there and by then it was too late. The capsule tried to fix its position, burning too much fuel for the spacecraft to safely make it to the space station for a Saturday rendezvous.
All three astronauts assigned to the first Starliner crew were at control centres for the launch: Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann, both with NASA, and Boeing’s Chris Ferguson, who commanded the last shuttle mission. He’s now a test pilot astronaut for Boeing and one of the Starliner’s key developers.
“This is why we flight test, right? We’re trying to get all of the bugs, if you will, out of the system,” said Fincke at the briefing. “There’s always something.”
Built to accommodate seven, the white capsule with black and blue trim will typically carry four or five people. It’s 16.5 feet (5 metres) tall with its attached service module and 15 feet (4.5 metres) in diameter.
For the test flight, the Starliner carried Christmas treats and presents for the six space station residents, the original air travel ID card belonging to Boeing’s founder and a mannequin, named Rosie after the bicep-flexing riveter of World War II.
The flight was designed to test all systems, from the vibrations and stresses of liftoff to the touchdown at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, with parachutes and air bags to soften the landing.
On the eve of the launch, Bridenstine said he’s “very comfortable” with Boeing, despite the prolonged grounding of the company’s 737 Max jets. The spacecraft and aircraft sides of the company are different, he noted. Boeing has long been involved in NASA’s human spacecraft program, from Project Mercury to the shuttle and station programs.
Boeing began preliminary work on the Starliner in 2010. Four years later, Boeing and SpaceX made the final cut. Boeing got more than $4 billion to develop and fly the Starliner, while SpaceX got $2.6 billion for a crew-version of its Dragon cargo ship.
On Thursday, Bridenstine said NASA wants to make sure every reasonable precaution is taken with the capsules, designed to be safer than NASA’s old shuttles.
“We’re talking about human spaceflight,” he cautioned. “It’s not for the faint of heart. It never has been, and it’s never going to be.”
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
New case of COVID-19 in N.L. on Sunday related to travel – CBC.ca
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Sunday, the first in the province since Sept. 18.
According to a news release from the provincial Department of Health, the new case is a man in the Eastern Health region between 20 and 39 years old.
The case is travel-related, as the man had returned home to the province from Manitoba. The department said he has been self-isolating since his arrival and following public health guidelines.
Contact tracing is now underway and anyone considered a close contact has been advised to quarantine.
The Department of Health is also advising anyone who travelled on WestJet flights 306 and 328, which departed Winnipeg and Toronto for St. John’s on Monday, to call 811 to arrange for COVID-19 testing out of an abundance of caution.
“Public health is asking people to do this as a result of the one new confirmed case in the Eastern Health region announced today,” a media release said.
The latest case increases the province’s caseload at 273 and is the second active case.
Since the pandemic began in March, 268 people have recovered and three have died.
In total, 40,910 people have been tested for the virus across the province. Of those, 627 were tested in the last 24 hours.
One new case of COVID-19 reported Sunday in Newfoundland and Labrador – CTV News
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
Public Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting one new confirmed case of COVID-19.
The new case, announced Sunday, involves a man between 20-39 years of age in the Eastern Health region.
They say the case is travel-related.
The man was returning home to the province from Manitoba.
Officials say he has been self-isolating since arrival and following Public Health guidelines.
However, the Department of Health and Community Services is asking people who travelled on WestJet Flights 306 and 328 departing Winnipeg and Toronto for St. John’s on Monday, Sept. 21 to call the 811 non-urgent health line to arrange for COVID-19 testing.
They say the request is out of an abundance of caution.
The province has two active cases of COVID-19 and 268 people have recovered from the virus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2020.
Paradox-Free Time Travel Is Theoretically Possible, Researchers Say – KCCU
“The past is obdurate,” Stephen King wrote in his book about a man who goes back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. “It doesn’t want to be changed.”
Turns out, King might have been onto something.
Countless science fiction tales have explored the paradox of what would happen if you do something in the past that endangers the future. Perhaps one of the most famous pop culture examples is Back to the Future, when Marty McFly went back in time and accidentally stopped his parents from meeting, putting his own existence in jeopardy.
But maybe McFly wasn’t in much danger after all. According a new paper from researchers at the University of Queensland, even if time travel were possible, the paradox couldn’t actually exist.
Researchers ran the numbers, and determined that even if you make a change in the past, the timeline would essentially self-correct, ensuring that whatever happened to send you back in time would still happen.
“Say you travelled in time, in an attempt to stop COVID-19’s patient zero from being exposed to the virus,” University of Queensland scientist Fabio Costa told the university’s news service.
“However if you stopped that individual from becoming infected — that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place,” said Costa, who co-authored the paper with honors undergraduate student Germain Tobar.
“This is a paradox — an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe.”
A variation is known as the “grandfather paradox” — in which a time traveler kills their own grandfather, in the process preventing the time traveler’s birth.
The logical paradox has given researchers a headache, in part because according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, “closed time-like curves” are possible, theoretically allowing an observer to travel back in time and interact with their past self — and potentially endangering their own existence.
But these researchers say that such a paradox wouldn’t necessarily exist, because events would adjust themselves.
Take the coronavirus patient zero example. “You might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would,” Tobar told the university’s news service.
In other words, a time traveler could make changes — but the original outcome would still find a way to happen. Maybe not the same way it happened in the first timeline; but close enough so that the time traveler would still exist, and would still be motivated to go back in time.
“No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you,” Tobar said.
The paper, “Reversible dynamics with closed time-like curves and freedom of choice,” was published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Classical and Quantum Gravity. The findings seem consistent with another time travel study published this summer in the peer-reviewed journal Physical Review Letters. That study found that changes made in the past won’t drastically alter the future.
Best-selling science fiction author Blake Crouch, who has written extensively about time travel, said the new study seems to support what certain time travel tropes have posited all along.
“The universe is deterministic and attempts to alter Past Event X are destined to be the forces which bring Past Event X into being,” Crouch told NPR via email. “So the future can affect the past. Or maybe time is just an illusion. But I guess it’s cool that the math checks out.”
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