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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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This modular home workout setup fits in your closet, no more excuses to not exercise! – Yanko Design

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Few industries have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic like the fitness industry has changed. Acclimating to the increasingly strange times, home gym designers have taken to the drawing boards by storm. Working out at home is possible, yes. Fun? Depends. Comfortable? Hard to say. What’s definite is that the team at G-Wall turned the everchanging state of 2020 into the well-knit, conceptual core of their sleek, modular home gym design. Recently, the designers behind the G-Wall Home Fitness System were presented with 2020’s K-Design Award.

Instead of answering the unanswerable (really, who can say what’s up next for 2020), the team behind G-Wall designed their home gym specifically so that it could be stored behind a closet or armoire cabinet’s door. That way the time that you would have spent making room for your home fitness system, instead is spent actually putting it to use. G-Wall’s Home Fitness System has several standout features: variable modules, user-adjustability, and compatibility, to name a few. Each user decides on which modules they want to comprise the larger system. This means that despite the amount of space in your home, G-Wall’s design makes it possible to incorporate a home gym anywhere. The different modules that users can decide on range from cardiovascular equipment, to free weights and even heavy training. The gear that comes with each module is stored in cabinets or racks that easily hang behind doors or however the user deems appropriate for their personal space.

Once quarantine started, many of us twiddled our thumbs while figuring out how to stay healthy and active within the confines of our respective homes. Fitness and health remained a top priority for many global citizens. It was never a question of compromise or adjustment when it came to working out during quarantine. Rather, designers and gym-goers took to the drawing boards to concoct their own solutions. That’s all to say that while the fitness industry has indeed changed with 2020’s unpredictable timeline, some of the most innovative new designs have been devised. Such deliberate and convenient designs like G-Wall prove that as unanswerable as some questions may be, as uncertain as the time may feel, design’s practical and adaptive nature is one thing on which we can always depend.

Designers: Tan Xuwen, Zhang Hu, Huang Shumei, Tong Bomin, Gao Lin x Guangdong Piano Customized Furniture Co., Ltd.









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A Physicist Has Come Up With Math That Makes 'Paradox-Free' Time Travel Plausible – ScienceAlert

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No one has yet managed to travel through time – at least to our knowledge – but the question of whether or not such a feat would be theoretically possible continues to fascinate scientists.

As movies such as The Terminator, Donnie Darko, Back to the Future and many others show, moving around in time creates a lot of problems for the fundamental rules of the Universe: if you go back in time and stop your parents from meeting, for instance, how can you possibly exist in order to go back in time in the first place?

It’s a monumental head-scratcher known as the ‘grandfather paradox’, but now a physics student Germain Tobar, from the University of Queensland in Australia, says he has worked out how to “square the numbers” to make time travel viable without the paradoxes.

“Classical dynamics says if you know the state of a system at a particular time, this can tell us the entire history of the system,” says Tobar.

“However, Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts the existence of time loops or time travel – where an event can be both in the past and future of itself – theoretically turning the study of dynamics on its head.”

What the calculations show is that space-time can potentially adapt itself to avoid paradoxes.

To use a topical example, imagine a time traveller journeying into the past to stop a disease from spreading – if the mission was successful, the time traveller would have no disease to go back in time to defeat.

Tobar’s work suggests that the disease would still escape some other way, through a different route or by a different method, removing the paradox. Whatever the time traveller did, the disease wouldn’t be stopped.

Tobar’s work isn’t easy for non-mathematicians to dig into, but it looks at the influence of deterministic processes (without any randomness) on an arbitrary number of regions in the space-time continuum, and demonstrates how both closed timelike curves (as predicted by Einstein) can fit in with the rules of free will and classical physics.

“The maths checks out – and the results are the stuff of science fiction,” says physicist Fabio Costa from the University of Queensland, who supervised the research.

Fabio Costa (left) and Germain Tobar (right). (Ho Vu)

The new research smooths out the problem with another hypothesis, that time travel is possible but that time travellers would be restricted in what they did, to stop them creating a paradox. In this model, time travellers have the freedom to do whatever they want, but paradoxes are not possible.

While the numbers might work out, actually bending space and time to get into the past remains elusive – the time machines that scientists have devised so far are so high-concept that for they currently only exist as calculations on a page.

We might get there one day – Stephen Hawking certainly thought it was possible – and if we do then this new research suggests we would be free to do whatever we wanted to the world in the past: it would readjust itself accordingly.

“Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency,” says Costa. “The range of mathematical processes we discovered show that time travel with free will is logically possible in our universe without any paradox.”

The research has been published in Classical and Quantum Gravity.

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The Great Conjunction of 2020: Jupiter and Saturn sky show this fall – Minnesota Public Radio News

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There’s a spectacular sky show in the southern sky this fall.

It’s called the Great Conjunction. Saturn and Jupiter are bright in the southern sky on clear evenings. The waxing moon adds to the show tonight hanging to the lower left of Saturn.

Southern sky for the evening of Sept. 25, 2020

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Earthsky.org elaborates:

On September 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2020, look for the moon in the evening sky, and it’ll guide you to Jupiter and Saturn, our solar system’s two biggest gas giant planets. Given clear skies, you can’t miss these bright worlds. The moon is the second-brightest celestial object, after the sun. And Jupiter is exceptionally bright, too, outshining all the stars (but just a hair less bright than dazzling Mars; more about Mars below). As for Saturn, it’s as bright as the brightest stars. Plus Jupiter and Saturn are noticeable now for their nearness to each other. They’re headed for a great conjunction before 2020 ends.

The Great Conjunction of December 2020

Jupiter and Saturn are 7.5 degrees apart in the southern sky now. They will draw closer this fall and will be just 0.1 degrees apart on the winter solstice on December 21.

Astro Bob writes for the Duluth News Tribune about how the two planets draw closer until conjunction on December 21.

More distant Saturn orbits at 21,675 mph (9.7 km/sec) and takes 29 years to circle the sun. Because Jupiter is both closer to the Earth and travels faster it overtakes Saturn about once every 20 years, an event called a great conjunction.

Because the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn are tilted slightly with respect to Earth’s orbit, 1.3° and 2.5° respectively, when they do line up the distance between them varies, making every conjunction different. If they were in exactly the same plane Jupiter would always pass directly in front of Saturn, but that’s extremely rare.

Enjoy the amazing sky show on clear evenings this fall.

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