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Boeing's Starliner test capsule fails to reach orbit of the International Space Station – The Globe and Mail

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The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft 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, Fla., on Dec. 20, 2019.

JOE SKIPPER/Reuters

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 space flight capabilities. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule carried out its unmanned test flight to the space station in March.

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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.

Vice President Mike Pence was briefed on the incident and was assured that NASA will continue to test and improve to hit its goal of resuming human flights on American rockets in 2020, his office said in a statement.

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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.

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Bridenstine 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.”

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 space flight – 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.

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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.

Boeing’s Starliner space capsule won’t make it to the International Space Station after a timer malfunction made it burn too much fuel. Reuters

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Large meteor lights up skies in Norway – CTV News

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HELSINKI —
Norwegian experts say an unusually large meteor was visible over large parts of southern Scandinavia and illuminated southeast Norway with a powerful flash of light for a few seconds as many observers were reported to also hear a roaring sound afterwards.

“The meteor appeared at 1:08 a.m. on the night of July 25 and was visible for approximately for 5 seconds,” said the network said, which had posted a video on the phenomenon on its Twitter site.

Sightings of meteors, space rocks that burn brightly after entering the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, aren’t uncommon over Norway and the Norwegian Meteor Network has a number of cameras continuously monitoring the sky.

A meteor that survives passage to the ground is known as a meteorite.

Preliminary data suggested a meteorite may have hit Earth in a large forested area, Finnemarka, not far from Oslo, the Norwegian Meteor Network said.

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One in 10 young Black adults have contracted COVID-19 in Canada: survey – Montreal Gazette

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It’s almost three times as much as the general population.

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At least one in 10 young Black adults across Canada has reported contracting the coronavirus during the pandemic — a rate that is two and a half times that of the general population, a new survey has found.

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Researchers from McGill University and the Black Community Resource Centre of Montreal commissioned the Léger polling firm to conduct a national survey in January of 346 Black-identifying Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35. Most of the respondents of the online survey came from Ontario, 43 per cent, followed by Quebec at 35 per cent.

The survey sought to assess family and peer support among young Black adults during the twin crises of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement following the choking death of George Floyd by a police officer.

“Regarding participants’ experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic, 10 per cent reported having contracted the virus and 36 per cent reported that someone they knew personally had contracted the (coronavirus),” the study notes. “Furthermore, 36 per cent of participants reported being an essential worker — for example, nurses, physicians, psychologists, etc — and another 35 per cent reported that a family member was an essential worker.”

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Richard Koestner, one of the authors of the study and the director of the McGill Human Motivation Lab, said the 10-per-cent figure among Black Canadians is likely an under-estimate. The preprint of the study is under review by the Journal of Black Psychology.

To date, testing has confirmed COVID-19 in 3.75 per cent of the Canadian population, according to the latest government figures. In Quebec, the rate is 4.38 per cent.

The findings of the study add to a body of research that the pandemic has disproportionately harmed racialized communities around the world. Koestner and his colleagues alluded to U.S. research that found that COVID-19 infection rates in Black communities have been twice as high and death rates three times as high as the general population.

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“There is growing concern that racial and ethnic minority communities around the world are experiencing a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality from (COVID-19),” conclude the authors of a separate study that examined the impact of the pandemic on U.S. veterans.

And in a study released this month by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the authors renew calls for the collection of racial data not only to better study COVID-19 but to go “beyond the scope of the pandemic to identify disparities in health care and find solutions to minimize this gap.”

“Increased risk of COVID-19 infection has frequently been linked with socioeconomic factors such as poor housing and precarious employment,” the authors add. “The intersection of race, socioeconomic status and health is of particular importance to racialized persons, who consistently report higher rates of working poverty, below-standard housing and lower income.”

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Seeta Ramdass, a longtime patient-rights advocate in Montreal, noted that unconscious bias often creeps into health care. She cited as an example the pulse oximeter placed on a patient’s finger to detect oxygen saturation in the blood. Such devices are considered less accurate when measuring black and brown skin.

“The refusal and failure to collect sociocultural data is systemic racism,” Ramdass said. “By failing to acknowledge and to document the inequitable experiences of racialized and marginalized people, how can you even begin to put the corrective measures in place that will make society more inclusive and responsive toevery person of every community?”

  1. A new study looked into how the coronavirus pandemic affected Canada's Black population specifically.

    The grim impact of COVID-19 on Black Canadians

  2. As of mid-February, Quebec expects more than 700,000 vaccine doses over next seven weeks.

    Montreal groups to call for release of race-based COVID-19 data

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered water vapor on Jupiter's ocean moon Ganymede for the first time – Yahoo News

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Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter and the largest moon in the Solar System, 2001. Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Astronomers have discovered evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede for the first time.

Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, is covered in an icy crust. Scientists believe Ganymede may have a liquid ocean 100 miles beneath its surface, and that such an ocean could host aquatic alien life.

On Monday NASA announced that, by looking through the last two decades of data from the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers had discovered evidence of water vapor in the Jupiter moon’s thin atmosphere. This water probably doesn’t come from the underground ocean, though. Instead, it’s likely ice vaporizing from the moon’s surface.

Even though it doesn’t say much about the moon’s potential for alien life, this water vapor adds to scientists’ understanding of Ganymede’s atmosphere. Previously, they only knew that it contained oxygen.

“So far only the molecular oxygen had been observed,” Lorenz Roth of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, who led the team who found the vapor, told NASA. “This is produced when charged particles erode the ice surface.”

The research and datasets were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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