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Boeing's failed Starliner mission strains 'reliability' pitch – Reuters Canada

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SEATTLE/CAPE CANAVERAL (Reuters) – Boeing Co’s (BA.N) stunted Friday debut of its astronaut capsule threatens to dent the U.S. aerospace incumbent’s self-declared competitive advantage of mission reliability against the price and innovation strengths of “new space” players like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, atop a ULA Atlas V rocket, lifts off for an uncrewed Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida December 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thom Baur

Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, has anchored its attempt to repel space visionaries like Musk and Amazon.com (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos partly on its mission safety record built up over decades of space travel.

While SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin are racing to send their own crewed missions to space for the first time, Boeing or Boeing heritage companies have built every American spacecraft that has transported astronauts into space. And the single-use rockets it builds in partnership with Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) have a virtually unblemished record of mission success. 

“We are starting from a position of mission reliability and safety,” Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told Reuters earlier this year when asked about SpaceX and other insurgents aiming to disrupt Boeing on everything from astronaut capsules to rockets to satellites.

“There is a difference between putting cargo in space and putting humans in space, and that’s a big step. Our very deliberate, safety-based approach for things like CST-100, that will be a differentiator in the long run,” Muilenburg said.

The actual technical glitch that stunted Friday’s CST-100 Starliner mission to the International Space Station was a timer error though Boeing said it was too early to determine the exact cause of the fault.

Boeing was already working to surmount other technical and safety-related challenges on the multibillion-dollar NASA human spaceflight program. A government watchdog report in November found Boeing demanded “unnecessary” new contract funds from NASA.

Friday’s glitch adds to a year of intense scrutiny over how Boeing developed its money-spinning 737 MAX jetliner following twin crashes that killed 346 people in five months.

While there is no link between the 737 MAX crashes and the Starliner setback, one rocket industry executive told Reuters that in both cases problems arose as Boeing was racing to catch up with fast-moving rivals.

Boeing had no immediate comment.

“From a public relations standpoint, this error makes them not look so good because of all the 737 MAX issues,” said Teal Group space analyst Marco Caceres. “If you look at this in isolation, I don’t think of it as a massive problem for Boeing. There are only two companies picked for this program – that is an enviable place for Boeing to be, as long as nothing tragic happens.”

SpaceX successfully launched its own rival Crew Dragon astronaut capsule on a roundtrip journey to the ISS earlier this year, though it faces its own technical problems.

It is challenging Boeing’s space business more broadly by slashing the cost of accessing space with pioneering reusable rocket technology.

Bezos’ Blue Origin is also developing rockets and capsules for human and cargo space flights.

SpaceX is working toward a manned mission in first-quarter 2020. It declined to comment on Boeing’s setback.

There is no overlap between Boeing and SpaceX’s separate rocket-and-capsule systems.

But Boeing’s woes raise the stakes for SpaceX to perform successfully on upcoming tests as Boeing works to pinpoint the root cause, which may trigger months of delays and new costs if NASA requires design tweaks and a redo of Friday’s mission.

Slideshow (5 Images)

“SpaceX continues to move forward even if Boeing has a setback, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine told reporters on Friday. “And, back in April, SpaceX had a setback and Boeing was continuing to move forward.”

Bridenstine added that NASA has a number of options on the table to make sure the impact of Boeing’s test failure does not cut off access to the space station.

“There are other companies that want to be a part of commercial crew,” Bridenstine added, citing Lockheed’s Orion capsule for eventual lunar missions.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Joey Roulette in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Additional reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Greg Mitchell, Tim Hepher and Alistair Bell

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Earth is about to capture a new “mini moon” (but it might not be a moon at all) – Yahoo Canada Sports

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The March 5 _mini-Moon,î the apogee Moon, the most distant Full Moon of 2015. I processed this image with greatly enhanced vibrance, saturation and contrast to exaggerate the subtle differences in colour in the lunar maria, due to differences in the mineral content of the lava flows that formed the mare ~3.5 to 4 billion years ago. The relatively new impact crater, Tycho, is the bright area at bottom (south) on the luanr disk with bright splash rays emanating from the crater. I shot this with a TMB 92mm refractor with a 2x Barlow lens for an effective f-ratio of about f/12. This is a 1/125th second exposure at ISO100 with the Canon 60Da. (Photo by: Alan Dyer /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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From October, Earth will have another, much smaller, moon (Photo by: Alan Dyer /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A new mini-moon might be about to join Earth’s orbit briefly, before being hurled back into space.” data-reactid=”32″>A new mini-moon might be about to join Earth’s orbit briefly, before being hurled back into space.

‘Minimoons’ are only a few feet across, and each tends to do a stint of around a few months in orbit – before resuming their previous lives as asteroids.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But this particular mini-moon may be a little different – as experts have suggested it’s not a moon at all, but man-made space junk.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”34″>But this particular mini-moon may be a little different – as experts have suggested it’s not a moon at all, but man-made space junk. 

Specifically, it may be a discarded part of a rocket launched in 1966, experts have suggested. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The tiny object, known as 2020 SO, was spotted by the Pan-STARRS1 at the Haleakala Observatory on 17 September 2020, ScienceAlert reports.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”36″>The tiny object, known as 2020 SO, was spotted by the Pan-STARRS1 at the Haleakala Observatory on 17 September 2020, ScienceAlert reports

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more: What are fast radio bursts, and why do they look like aliens?” data-reactid=”37″>Read more: What are fast radio bursts, and why do they look like aliens?

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="It will be captured by Earth this October, and will pass close by Earth in December 2020 and February 2021, Sky reports.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”38″>It will be captured by Earth this October, and will pass close by Earth in December 2020 and February 2021, Sky reports

It will continue to orbit our planet until May next year. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia says that several measurements about 2020 SO suggest it’s not an asteroid, in an interview with Science Alert..&nbsp;” data-reactid=”40″>Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia says that several measurements about 2020 SO suggest it’s not an asteroid, in an interview with Science Alert.. 

Vent flowing cryogenic fuel and T/C Rake mounted on a 1/10 scale model Centaur in the l0 x l0 Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel. The fuel being used is liquid hydrogen. The point of the test is to determine how far to expel venting fuel from the rocket body to prevent explosion at the base of the vehicle. This vent is used as a safety valve for the fumes created when loading the fuel tanks during launch preparation. Liquid hydrogen has to be kept at a very low temperature. As it heats, it turns to gas and increases pressure in the tank. It therefore has to be vented overboard while the rocket sits on the pad.Vent flowing cryogenic fuel and T/C Rake mounted on a 1/10 scale model Centaur in the l0 x l0 Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel. The fuel being used is liquid hydrogen. The point of the test is to determine how far to expel venting fuel from the rocket body to prevent explosion at the base of the vehicle. This vent is used as a safety valve for the fumes created when loading the fuel tanks during launch preparation. Liquid hydrogen has to be kept at a very low temperature. As it heats, it turns to gas and increases pressure in the tank. It therefore has to be vented overboard while the rocket sits on the pad.

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A scale model of a Centaur rocket, used in the 1966 launch (Getty)

Gorman said, “The velocity seems to be a big one. What I’m seeing is that it’s just moving too slowly, which reflects its initial velocity. That’s essentially a big giveaway.”

Gorman says that these signs suggest that the object may be space junk. 

Astronomer Paul Chodas has suggested that teh object is a Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket body, launched on September 20, 1966. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more: Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth” data-reactid=”64″>Read more: Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth

Chodas suggests that the low Earth encounter velocity is too low even for material ejected from the moon, so it’s unlikely to be a natural body. 

Spectroscopy may be able to show if the object has been painted, the experts believe. 

Gorman says, “It would be interesting to do some reflectance spectroscopy, which would show how rough the surfaces are, how much it’s been pitted and decayed from being bombarded by dust and micro meteorites.”

“It’s human material that’s been out in a different part of space. So, it would be interesting to compare that to the results you get from stuff in low Earth orbit, which is much, much denser in material.”

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Open House Held Despite Sick Tenant Who Later Tested Positive for COVID – Toronto Storeys

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An open house was held in Toronto over the weekend, despite there being a sick tenant inside, who later tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, all potential buyers were exposed to the deadly virus.


As reported by CP24, the open house was held for a three-floor home in Riverdale, located on Bowden Street just south of Danforth Avenue.

Area resident Jeffery Wood told CTV News Toronto that he went with his friends to see the listing and that potential buyers were asked to wear masks, remain physically distant, and provide contact information.

These are all safety measures the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) called to be used during open houses and showings in July when most of the province entered Stage three and open houses were permitted to resume after being temporarily suspended since April due to COVID-19.

“As we walked up the stairs and we walked around the second floor, we saw there was a door and it had a sign on it that said ‘sorry, I’m sick,’” said Wood.

“I thought it was incredibly irresponsible for that person, first of all, to be even hosting an open house knowing that there was a sick person inside.”

READ: OREA Urging Caution as Open Houses Set to Resume in Toronto and Peel Region

Two days after the open house, Wood said he received a phone call from the agency that showed the home and he was informed the person inside the house he visited had since tested positive for COVID-19.

“To not give us a heads up that FYI, even if he didn’t have a confirmation that the person had COVID to at least say, by the way, there’s a person who’s sick inside.”

According to CP24, the house is listed under King Chen, Broker of Record at Home One Realty. While the broker was not in attendance of the showing himself, he did confirm to CTV News that a tenant, who was at the home on Saturday, has since tested positive for COVID-19.

Chen also said that at the time of the showing, they did not know the result of the tenant’s COVID-19 test and that she was moved to a hotel late Saturday afternoon.

What’s more, Chen said the showings continued on Sunday and that the agency did not do any extra cleaning after the tenant left the home.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) said it was notified on September 21 about this incident and has confirmed that the listing was already terminated and showings have halted.

TRREB CEO John DiMichele told Toronto Storeys that in July of this year, TRREB provided Members with an Open House Guidance document to remind them of their public health obligations.

While the brokerage determines the services they offer to clients, DiMichele says TRREB has stressed to Members that open houses should only be used as a last resort if requested by a seller, and to follow the TRREB Open House guidance document.

“The Member should have immediately notified Public Health so measures could be taken to assist with any necessary contact tracing and to carry out any other necessary safety measures as directed,” said DiMichele, adding that this incident would be a breach of specific Public Health regulations and directives including Toronto Public Health, Ontario Ministry of Health, and Public Health Agency of Canada.

“While the listing has been terminated, TRREB will also bring this matter to the attention of the Real Estate Council of Ontario, the regulator in charge of Code of Ethics enforcement, to investigate,” added DiMichele.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 case numbers continue to increase throughout Ontario. On Tuesday morning, the province reported an increase of 478 confirmed cases from the day prior.

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Shrinking ice sheets could add 15 inches to sea level rise by 2100, study finds – Niagara Frontier Publications

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Ice shelves in Antarctica, such as the Getz Ice Shelf seen here, are sensitive to warming ocean temperatures. Ocean and atmospheric conditions are some of the drivers of ice sheet loss that scientists considered in a new study estimating additional global sea level rise by 2100. (Credit: Jeremy Harbeck / NASA; provided by the University at Buffalo)

Tue, Sep 22nd 2020 09:25 am

International effort leveraged UB’s supercomputing facilities for data storage

By the University at Buffalo

An international effort that brought together more than 60 ice, ocean and atmosphere scientists from three-dozen international institutions has generated new estimates of how much of an impact Earth’s melting ice sheets could have on global sea levels by 2100.

The research, led by NASA and supported by the University at Buffalo’s supercomputing facilities, finds that if greenhouse gas emissions continue apace, Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could together contribute more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) of global sea level rise – and that’s beyond the amount that has already been set in motion by Earth’s warming climate.

Findings from this effort are in line with projections in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2019 special report on oceans and the cryosphere. Meltwater from ice sheets contribute about a third of the total global sea level rise. The IPCC report projected Greenland would contribute 3.1 to 10.6 inches (8 to 27 cm) to global sea level rise between 2000-2100 and Antarctica could contribute 1.2 to 11 inches (3 to 28 cm).

These new results, published this week in a special issue of the journal The Cryosphere, come from the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (ISMIP6) led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The study is one of many efforts scientists are involved in to project the impact of a warming climate on melting ice sheets, understand its causes and track sea level rise.

“One of the biggest uncertainties when it comes to how much sea level will rise in the future is how much the ice sheets will contribute. And how much the ice sheets contribute is really dependent on what the climate will do,” said project leader and ice scientist Sophie Nowicki, Ph.D., formerly at NASA Goddard, who joined the University at Buffalo this semester as Empire Innovation Professor in the department of geology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and in the UB RENEW Institute.

“The strength of ISMIP6 was to bring together most of the ice sheet modeling groups around the world, and then connect with other communities of ocean and atmospheric modelers as well, to better understand what could happen to the ice sheets,” said Heiko Goelzer, Ph.D., a scientist from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, now at NORCE Norwegian Research Centre in Norway. Goelzer led the Greenland ice sheet ISMIP6 effort.

UB helped to facilitate the research by enabling the team to transfer, store and process huge amounts of data at the university’s Center for Computational Research (CCR) as part of a pilot project to leverage the facility’s capabilities to support ice sheet research. The UB effort is led by Jason Briner, Ph.D., UB professor of geology; Jeanette Sperhac, scientific programmer at CCR; Beata Csatho, Ph.D., professor of geology; Kristin Poinar, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology; Nowicki; and Abani Patra, Ph.D., a former UB faculty member who is now at Tufts University, where he is the Stern Family Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics and director of the Data Intensive Studies Center.

With warming air temperatures melting the surface of the ice sheet, and warming ocean temperatures causing ocean-terminating glaciers to retreat, Greenland’s ice sheet is a significant contributor to sea level rise. The ISMIP6 team investigated two different scenarios the IPCC has set for future climate to predict sea level rise between 2015 and 2100: one with carbon emissions increasing rapidly and another with lower emissions.

In the high emissions scenario, they found the Greenland ice sheet would lead to an additional global sea level rise of about 3.5 inches (9 cm) by 2100. In the lower emissions scenario, the loss from the ice sheet would raise global sea level by about 1.3 inches (3 cm). This is beyond what is already destined to be lost from the ice sheet due to warming temperatures between preindustrial times and now; previous studies have estimated contribution to global sea level rise by 2100 to be about a quarter-inch (6 millimeters) for the Greenland ice sheet.

The ISMIP6 team also analyzed the Antarctic ice sheet to understand how much ice melt from future climate change would add to sea level rise, beyond what recent warming temperatures have already put in motion. Ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet is more difficult to predict: In the west, warm ocean currents erode the bottom of large floating ice shelves, causing loss; while the vast East Antarctic ice sheet can gain mass, as warmer temperatures cause increased snowfall.

The results point to a greater range of possibilities, from ice sheet change that decreases sea level by 3.1 inches (7.8 cm), to increasing it by 12 inches (30 cm) by 2100, with different climate scenarios and climate model inputs. The regional projections show the greatest loss in West Antarctica, responsible for up to 7.1 inches (18 cm) of sea level rise by 2100 in the warmest conditions, according to the research.

“The Amundsen Sea region in West Antarctica and Wilkes Land in East Antarctica are the two regions most sensitive to warming ocean temperatures and changing currents, and will continue to lose large amounts of ice,” said Hélène Seroussi, Ph.D., an ice scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California who led the Antarctic ice sheet modeling in the ISMIP6 effort. “With these new results, we can focus our efforts in the correct direction and know what needs to be worked on to continue improving the projections.”

Different groups within the ISMIP6 community are working on various aspects of the ice sheet modeling effort. All are designed to better understand why the ice sheets are changing and to improve estimates of how much ice sheets will contribute to sea level rise.

“It took over six years of workshops and teleconferences with scientists from around the world working on ice sheet, atmosphere and ocean modeling to build a community that was able to ultimately improve our sea level rise projections,” Nowicki said. “The reason it worked is because the polar community is small, and we’re all very keen on getting this problem of future sea level right. We need to know these numbers.”

The new results will help inform the sixth IPCC report scheduled for release in 2022.

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