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Boeing's Starliner test capsule fails in space station mission – CANOE

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CAPE CANAVERAL — Boeing Co’s new astronaut capsule on Friday failed to reach the orbit of the International Space Station, U.S. space agency NASA said, cutting short a critical unmanned test mission in the embattled aerospace giant’s race to send humans to the station.

The CST-100 Starliner astronaut capsule successfully launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, but an automated timer error, which Boeing could not immediately account for, prevented the spacecraft from reaching the orbit that would have put it on track to meet up with the space station.

The debut journey to the space station was a milestone test for Boeing, which is vying with SpaceX to revive NASA’s human spaceflight capabilities. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule carried out its unmanned test flight to the space station in March.

The thwarted mission took place as Boeing, whose shares dropped about 1% in afternoon trading, sought an engineering and public relations win in a year punctuated by a corporate crisis over a ban on its 737 MAX jetliner following fatal crashes.

Boeing officials told a news conference that it was too early to determine the exact cause of the glitch. The effect it would have on Starliner’s designs and possible testing requirements before its manned mission can take place was also not unclear.

However, the possibility that Boeing would have to redo its unmanned orbital test flight would substantially delay NASA’s timelines and increase costs.

The plan was now for the capsule to head back to Earth, landing at White Sands, New Mexico on Sunday, Boeing’s space chief executive Jim Chilton said.

This is the landing site that would have been used if the capsule had completed its planned week-long stay at the space station.

The craft had burned too much fuel to risk trying to land at the International Space Station at this point, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

PRE-DAWN LAUNCH

The spacecraft, a cone-shaped pod with seats for seven astronauts, blasted off from Cape Canaveral at 6:36 a.m. (1136 GMT) atop an Atlas V rocket from Boeing-Lockheed Martin Corp’s United Launch Alliance.

Minutes after liftoff, Starliner detached from the main rocket booster, aiming for a rendezvous some 254 miles (409 km) into space on Saturday morning with the space station.

Both Boeing and NASA said the capsule was in a stable position despite not reaching its intended orbit.

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

He 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 made attempts to manually override the automated errors, but two satellites obstructed its communication signals, he said.

“The challenge here has to do with automation,” Bridenstine said of the unmanned craft, adding that if astronauts had been on board they would have been able to override the automated system that caused the error.

NASA chief Jim Bridentine told reporters after the scrapped mission that he would not rule out the possibility that Boeing could move on to its human mission, depending on the outcome out of a probe into Friday’s glitch.

Nicole Mann, one of three astronauts slated to fly on Boeing’s first crewed flight test, told the news conference, “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

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

In November, a blistering government watchdog report found Boeing received an “unnecessary” contract boost from NASA.

Boeing was awarded $4.2 billion and Elon Musk’s SpaceX $2.5 billion by the U.S. space agency in 2014 to develop separate capsule systems capable of ferrying astronauts to the space station from American soil for the first time since the U.S. Space Shuttle was retired from service in 2011.

SpaceX declined to comment on the Boeing launch result on Friday.

The program, primarily meant to end America’s reliance on Russia’s space program for rides to the space station, had initially expected its first crewed flights on Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule in late 2017.

Design and safety concerns for both vehicles have led to delays.

The current target date for the first crewed flight is planned for mid-2020 for Boeing and SpaceX.

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.

If the mission had gone to plan, the Starliner would have started its return to Earth on Dec. 28.

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Ontario reports 29 new COVID-19 cases in schools, totalling 238 cases – OurWindsor.ca

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Ontario reports 29 new COVID-19 cases in schools, totalling 238 cases | OurWindsor.ca

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Is there really life on Venus? How do we find out? – KitchenerToday.com

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Last week, an unlikely research project made a startling discovery: Phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus. That’s something that, as far as we know, is created by living organisms. Our efforts to find signs of life on other worlds, and a lot of our space dreaming in general, tend to focus on Mars. But all of a sudden we need to take a closer look at our other planetary neighbour.

So how can we find out if there’s really life right next door? What do we know about Venus and why has it been so hard to figure out so far? What else could possibly cause the presence of Phosphine and what would it mean, to space exploration and everything else, if this is really true?

GUEST: Neel Patel, space reporter, MIT Technology Review

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COVID-19 Today: School, child care cases for Newmarket, York Region, and Ontario – NewmarketToday.ca

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Newmarket (reported Friday, Sept. 25, at 5 p.m.)

Schools

  • 0 school-related cases
  • 0 schools closed

Licensed child care facilities

  • 0 child care centre cases
  • 0 child care centres closed

York Region (reported Frisday, Sept. 25, at 5 p.m.)

Schools

  • 1 school outbreaks*
    • Blue Willow, Woodbridge (1 student, 1 staff)
  • 0 schools closed
  • 12 confirmed cases
  • 7 students
  • 5 staff/visitors
  • 8 (-2) schools under surveillance**:
    • Carrville Mills (1 staff), in Thornhill
    • Little Rouge (1 student), in Markham;
    • St. Michael the Archangel (1 staff); Tommy Douglas Secondary (1 student), Our Lady of Fatima (1 staff), in Woodbridge;
    • Maple High (1 student), Dr. Roberta Bondar (1 student) in Maple
    • Kleinburg P.S. (1 student) in Kleinburg
  • Surveillance closed for Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1 staff) and J. Addison (1 student), in Markham

*An outbreak is declared when 2 or more cases are confirmed within a 14-day period, with at least one case acquired in the school

**Schools with a laboratory-confirmed case that was not transmitted within the school 

Licensed child care facilities

  • 4 child care centre outbreaks*
  • 2 active outbreaks
    • Childventures Early Learning Academy, Aurora (1 staff)
    • Montessori School House, Maple (1 child, 1 staff)
  • 1 case child
  • 4 cases staff/visitors

*An outbreak is declared with one or more confirmed case in children or staff

Ontario (reported Thursday, Sept. 24 at 10:30 a.m.):

Cases in schools

  • 238 (+29) school-related cases
  • 110 (+10) students; 50 (+10) staff
  • 78 (+9) individuals not identified 
  • 198 (+20) of 4,828 schools with a case (4.10%)
  • 2 schools closed
    • Fellowes High School, Pembroke (1 student, 4 staff cases)
    • Monsignor Paul Baxter Catholic School, Ottawa (2 students, 2 staff)

Cases in child care centres and homes

  • 109 (+2) cases at child care centres and homes
  • 54 (+2) children
  • 55 staff
  • 36 (-1) of 5,111 child care centres with current cases (0.70%)
  • 10 (-1) child care centres currently closed (.20%)

York Region Public Health reminds parents and guardians to check your child daily for symptoms of COVID-19. For more information and resources, including how to protect yourself and others, visit york.ca/SafeAtSchool
 
You can download Canada’s COVID Alert in Apple and Google app stores or visit ontario.ca/covidalert

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