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Boeing's Starliner astronaut capsule fails key test to reach space station – TRT World



The CST-100 Starliner astronaut capsule was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, but an automated timer error prevented the spacecraft from attaining the orbit.

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.

Boeing Co’s
new astronaut capsule, The CST-100 Starliner, failed after liftoff from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Friday to climb high enough in orbit to reach the International Space Station, cutting short a critical unmanned test mission in the embattled aerospace giant’s race to send humans to the orbital outpost.

The Starliner’s debut launch to orbit was a milestone test
for Boeing, which is vying with SpaceX, the privately held
rocket company of billionaire high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk,
to revive NASA’s human spaceflight capabilities. SpaceX carried
out a successful unmanned flight of its Crew Dragon capsule to
the space station in March.

The Starliner setback came as Boeing, whose shares dropped
1.6% on the day, sought an engineering and public relations
victory in a year punctuated by a corporate crisis over the
grounding of its 737 MAX jetliner following two fatal crashes of
that aircraft.

The implications for any further design and testing
requirements before Starliner is approved for its first crewed
mission also remained unclear. The prospect that Boeing might
need to repeat an unmanned orbital test flight could
substantially delay NASA’s timeline and drive up costs.

The plan now is for the capsule to return to Earth on
Sunday, about a week ahead of schedule, parachuting to the
ground at its designated landing site in White Sands, New
Mexico, Boeing’s space chief executive, Jim Chilton, said.

The craft, while stable, has already burned too much fuel to
risk further maneuvers trying to dock with the space station at
this point, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a news

‘We Don’t Know’

Boeing officials said they were still seeking to pinpoint
the cause of Friday’s glitch.

“The spacecraft was not on the timer we expected her to be
on,” Chilton told reporters. “We don’t know if something
happened to cause it to be that way.”

The spacecraft, a cone-shaped pod with seats for seven
astronauts, lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 1136
GMT atop an Atlas V rocket supplied by Boeing-Lockheed Martin
Corp’s United Launch Alliance.

Minutes after launch, Starliner separated from the two main
rocket boosters, aiming for a link-up with the space station on
Saturday some 409 km above Earth. But difficulties
ensued with thrusters designed to boost the capsule’s orbit to
the proper altitude.

“When the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle we
did not get the orbital insertion burn that we were hoping for,”
Bridenstine said.

Bridenstine said the timer error caused the capsule to burn
much of its fuel too soon, preventing it from reaching the
desired orbit. NASA and Boeing tried to manually correct the
automated errors, but mission control commands sent across
NASA’s satellite communications network were inexplicably

“The challenge here has to do with automation,” Bridenstine
said, adding that astronauts on board would have been able to
override the system that caused the malfunction.

Bridenstine said he would not rule out the possibility of
allowing Boeing to proceed directly to its first crewed
Starliner flight, depending on findings from the investigation
of Friday’s mishap.

Nicole Mann, one of three astronauts slated to fly on Boeing’s first crewed flight test, told reporters, “We are looking forward to flying on Starliner. We don’t have any safety concerns.” NASA astronaut Mike Fincke added, “Had we been on board, we could have given the flight control team more options on what to do in this situation.”

Space Race Setback

Friday’s test represented one of the most daunting
milestones required by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to certify
a capsule for eventual human spaceflight – a long-delayed goal
set back years by development hurdles at both Boeing and SpaceX.

The US space agency awarded $4.2 billion to Boeing and
$2.5 billion to SpaceX in 2014 to develop separate capsule
systems capable of ferrying astronauts to the space station from
US soil for the first time since NASA’s space shuttle program
ended in 2011. NASA has since relied on Russian spacecraft for
hitching rides to the space station.

NASA initially had expected to begin crewed flights aboard
the Starliner and the Crew Dragon capsules in late 2017. Both
companies are currently aiming for next year, a time frame
reinforced in a statement on Friday from the office of US Vice
President Mike Pence, who chairs the National Space Council.

“Vice President Pence was assured that NASA will continue to
test and improve, in order to return American astronauts to
space on American rockets in 2020,” it said.

In a message of sympathy for his Boeing rival, Musk said on
Twitter, “Orbit is hard,” adding, “Best wishes for landing &
swift recovery to next mission.”

Occupying one of Starliner’s astronaut seats on Friday was a
mannequin named Rosie, outfitted with sensors to measure the
pressure a real astronaut would endure on ascent to the space
station and during hypersonic re-entry back through Earth’s

Source: Reuters

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SpaceX expands public beta test of Starlink satellite internet to Canada and the UK – CNBC



A Starlink user terminal attached to the roof of a building.

SpaceX has launched more than 1,000 of its Starlink high-speed internet satellites to date and, as it seeks regulatory approval in other countries, Elon Musk’s company is now offering early public access to the service in Canada and the U.K.

“Earlier this month we expanded our ‘Better than Nothing Beta’ program to include customers across the pond in the United Kingdom,” SpaceX lead manufacturing engineer Jessie Anderson said during the company’s launch webcast on Wednesday.

“Within the northern U.S. and Canada, and now the U.K., we are focused on rural and remote areas where there is no easy access to fiber or cable,” Anderson added.

SpaceX began the public beta program in October, with service priced at $99 a month, in addition to a $499 upfront cost to order the Starlink Kit, which includes a user terminal and Wi-Fi router to connect to the satellites.

Starlink is SpaceX’s plan to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites, designed to deliver high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet. 

The network is an ambitious endeavor, which SpaceX has said will cost about $10 billion or more to build. But the company’s leadership estimates that Starlink could bring in as much as $30 billion a year, or more than 10 times the annual revenue of its rocket business.

SpaceX deploys 60 Starlink satellites in orbit.

SpaceX launched its 17th Starlink mission from Florida on Wednesday morning, with a Falcon 9 rocket carrying another batch of 60 satellites to orbit.

The launch also marked a milestone for SpaceX’s reuse of its rockets, with the Falcon 9 booster launching and landing for a record eighth time. Musk has previously said that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are designed to launch and land up to 10 times without major repairs or refurbishment.

Anderson noted that, in addition to individuals in rural areas of the northern U.S., SpaceX has signed up the town of Marysville, Ohio, and Virginia’s Wise County Public School District for Starlink service.

In the Ontario province of Canada, the rural indigenous community of Pikangikum First Nation became the first in the country to receive Starlink service.

Pikangikum is about 300 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg and has a population of less than 3,000 people, with about 400 to 500 households. SpaceX partnered with Canadian information and technology services company FSET to bring Starlink user terminals to the Pikangikum community.

Satellite internet connectivity kits for SpaceX’s Starlink are delivered via airplane to the remote Canadian indegenous community of Pikangikum First Nation.

“I hope that this gives them, the younger generations, a little bit of hope,” Pikangikum Health Authority victim services leader Vernon Kejick said in a video on SpaceX’s launch webcast. “We’re creating a pathway for the younger people.”

The Starlink kits were delivered via airplane, which is the main way the community connects with more populated areas of Canada.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, but at least we have access to technology and information, and hopefully that playing field is at least a little closer to being level,” FSET CEO Dave Brown said on the launch webcast on Wednesday.

Starlink recently received approval to begin operating in the U.K., where it is priced at £89 per month plus the £439 cost of the kit. It’s unclear how many homes and offices are currently using Starlink’s service.

SpaceX continues to look to expand Starlink internationally, with public records showing the company registered in Austria, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, France, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa and Spain.

The company also requested market access in Japan, and Musk has talked about Starlink coming to India and the Caribbean as well.

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Scientists Take a Mighty Close Look at a Dinosaur's Butthole For the First Time Ever – Interesting Engineering



Scientists have a pretty good idea about what dinosaurs looked like, they can deduce things like if they were scaly, feathered, or horned for example. But what they haven’t had a chance to discover and describe in much detail are these prehistoric creatures’ backsides. Yes, we mean buttholes. 

But these aren’t mere buttholes, these are cloacae, or vents, that have been pleasantly described as the “Swiss Army knife of buttholes,” by Science Alert. Used for breeding, defecating, and urinating, these vents are found in vertebrates and are truly multi-purposed. 

Scientists from the University of Bristol managed to get a close look and describe for the first time ever what a Psittacosaurus dino’s cloaca looked like, publishing their findings in Current Biology on Tuesday.


Thanks to these scientists, we now have a detailed description of a non-avian dinosaur’s cloaca. Even though some animals today, such as birds, amphibians, reptiles, and some mammals have cloacae, very little was yet known about dinosaur cloacae — up until now. 

I noticed the cloaca several years ago after we had reconstructed the color patterns of this dinosaur using a remarkable fossil on display at the Senckenberg Museum in Germany which clearly preserves its skin and color patterns,” explained palaeobiologist Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol.

A close up of the dinosaur’s preserved cloacal vent. Source: Study authors/University of Bristol

So Vinther and his team decided to compare the fossilized cloaca to modern-day ones. The team could only gather information about the exterior of the fossilized cloaca, as the interior was not properly preserved. 

Dr. Diane Kelly, an expert on vertebrate penises and copulatory systems from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, also working on the study said, “Indeed, they are pretty non-descript. We found the vent does look different in many different groups of tetrapods, but in most cases, it doesn’t tell you much about an animal’s sex.”

Scientists Take a Mighty Close Look at a Dinosaur's Butthole For the First Time Ever
Cloacae of different animals. Source: Jakob Vinther/Current Biology

Regardless, the exterior of the cloaca could provide decent information about what the dinosaur’s “vent” looked like, and how it was used. The team found out the dino cloaca was different from those of living creatures, however, it shares similarities with those of crocodilian reptiles, like alligators and crocodiles. 

Scientists Take a Mighty Close Look at a Dinosaur's Butthole For the First Time Ever
The fossilized specimen from the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History. Source: Jakob Vinthers/University of Bristol

One interesting facet the researchers noticed was the dino’s cloaca’s outer margins were highly pigmented with melanin, which means it may have been used as a signaling system, similar to baboons today. 

As Robert Nicholls, a colleague working on the study and a paleoartist, said “Knowing that at least some dinosaurs were signaling to each other gives palaeoartists exciting freedom to speculate on a whole variety of now plausible interactions during dinosaur courtship. It is a game-changer!”

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SpaceX delivers 60 more Starlink satellites in first launch of 2021, and sets new Falcon 9 rocket reusability record – Yahoo Movies Canada



Evening Standard

Paloma Faith subject of ‘exposing’ BBC documentary about juggling work and motherhood

Paloma Faith will be the subject of an “exposing” BBC documentary about juggling her career with motherhood. The one-hour film Paloma Faith – As I Am will follow the singer, who has spoken openly about her experiences with IVF, over a year of her life as she balances motherhood and her career, navigating the demands of a make-or-break tour with writing a new album, launching an acting career and being a parent. The London-born singer, 39, welcomed her first child with her long-term boyfriend, the French artist Leyman Lahcine, in December 2016 although they initially decided not to reveal the child’s gender in a bid to maintain their privacy.

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