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

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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.
(Reuters)

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
conference.

‘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
delayed.

“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
atmosphere.

Source: Reuters

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Tla'amin Nation COVID-19 survivor warns virus spreads easily and recovery is difficult – Yahoo News Canada

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Brandon Peters was keeping his bubble small this summer.

The Vancouver resident planted a “COVID garden” and planned on playing it as safe as possible during the pandemic. Those plans were derailed, and so was his health, after attending the funeral of a loved one on Tla’amin Nation territory on the north Sunshine Coast near Powell River, B.C. 

Peters, a member of the nation, was diagnosed with COVID-19 within days of the visit. After spending most of September in bed fighting the virus, he is now speaking out publicly to warn people just how hard that fight can be.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""I opened myself up for just a minute, a couple people hugged me, and I got sick within a couple of days," said Peters Thursday on On The Island.” data-reactid=”15″>”I opened myself up for just a minute, a couple people hugged me, and I got sick within a couple of days,” said Peters Thursday on On The Island.

He said when he left the north Sunshine Coast, he was so overcome with fatigue he could not complete the 80 kilometre drive to the Langdale Ferry Terminal to catch a ferry to the Lower Mainland. Instead, he had to pull over and sleep.

Peters did make it back to Vancouver though, only to have a horrible night where he said he felt “deep pain” throughout his body and had an excruciating headache. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Down for the count” data-reactid=”18″>Down for the count

The next day he got tested for COVID-19. The day after that, he learned he was positive.

For the next few weeks, Peters lay in bed so overcome with exhaustion he said he couldn’t eat anything and drank only water.

“The fatigue was so intense I would have to gather my gumption just to go to the washroom,” he said.

In a recently uploaded video on the Tla’amin Nation’s Facebook page, Peters says he wondered every day while bed-ridden if he was going to make it to see another week.

Fortunately, Peters was never hospitalized and says he now has about 80 per cent of his strength back. Now he wants to tell others his story to try and prevent anyone from going through the harrowing ordeal he did — or worse.

The video is part of sharing that story.

“People might look at me like a leper over the next little while but I think if I help a couple people it will make the video worthwhile,” said Peters.

He said it is important to him that people take the risks of the virus seriously and stop engaging in activities that could put themselves or others at risk.

“This is going to be with us for a while and we need to make those responsible decisions.”

According to a media release from the Tla’amin Nation, there have been 36 positive COVID-19 cases reported in the nation since September 7.

The community is currently in a state of local emergency and non-approved visitors are restricted from Tla’amin land.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="To hear the complete interview with Brandon Peters on On The Island, tap here.” data-reactid=”30″>To hear the complete interview with Brandon Peters on On The Island, tap here.

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NASA says bus-sized asteroid safely buzzed Earth | TheHill – The Hill

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NASA reported that an asteroid roughly the size of a school bus passed by Earth early Thursday morning, traveling from about 13,000 miles away. 

According to the government space agency, the rock made its closest approach to Earth around 7 a.m. EDT on Thursday, passing over the Southeastern Pacific Ocean. 

NASA first reported on the asteroid on Tuesday, saying that scientists estimated the space rock was about 15 to 30 feet wide. Scientists predict that the asteroid will now travel around the sun and not make its way back into the Earth’s vicinity until 2041. 

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Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said Tuesday that space rocks such as these are relatively common and are not considered a threat to life on Earth. 

“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year,” Chodas said. “In fact, asteroids of this size impact our atmosphere at an average rate of about once every year or two.”

He added that “the detection capabilities of NASA’s asteroid surveys are continually improving, and we should now expect to find asteroids of this size a couple days before they come near our planet.” 

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NASA said that while Thursday’s asteroid was not on a trajectory to hit Earth, it would have likely broken up in the atmosphere and become a bright meteor, known as a fireball, before causing any damage. 

This comes a month after NASA reported that an asteroid is on a path toward Earth one day before the U.S. presidential election, although the agency said that the chances of it actually hitting the Earth’s surface are less than 1 percent. NASA confirmed in a statement to The Hill last month that the rock would not pose a threat. 

“If it were to enter our planet’s atmosphere, it would disintegrate due to its extremely small size,” a spokesperson said in the statement. “NASA has been directed by Congress to discover 90% of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 140 meters (459 feet) in size and reports on asteroids of any size.”

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UM physicists part of international team for historic first – UM Today

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September 24, 2020 — 

UM researchers on an international team of physicists have made the first precise measurement of the weak force between particles in the universe, verifying a theory of the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Using a device called the the Spallation Neutron Source at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the scientists were able to measure the weak force exerted between protons and neutrons by detecting the miniscule electrical signal produced when a neutron and a helium-3 nucleus combined and then decayed moving through a target. 

The result was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

As described in the online news site Mirage News

The Standard Model describes the basic building blocks of matter in the universe and fundamental forces acting between them. Calculating and measuring the weak force between protons and neutrons is an extremely difficult task.

Their finding yielded the smallest uncertainty of any comparable weak force measurement in the nucleus of an atom to date, which establishes an important benchmark.

UM physicist Dr. Michael Gericke said:

When a neutron and a helium-3 nucleus combine, the reaction produces an excited, unstable helium-4 isotope, decaying to one proton and one triton (consisting of two neutrons and one proton), both of which produce a tiny but detectable electrical signal as they move through the helium gas in the target cell.”

Gericke led the group that built the combined helium-3 target and detector system designed to pick up the very small signals and led the subsequent analysis.

Read the Mirage News story here.

An analysis and explanation of the discovery is here.

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