By Joey Roulette
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The coronavirus has dealt a blow to NASA’s plan to return Americans to the moon by 2024, as the space agency chief on Thursday ordered the temporary closure of two rocket production facilities after an employee tested positive for the illness.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement he was shutting down the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and the Stennis Space Center in nearby Hancock County, Mississippi, due to a rise in coronavirus cases in the region.
“We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce,” Bridenstine said.
The closures marked the latest in a series of setbacks NASA has faced in the development of its next-generation rocket, dubbed the Space Launch System, or SLS, and its Orion crew vehicle, envisioned for human missions to the moon and Mars.
Bridenstine did not say how long the shutdown might last but acknowledged it would require NASA to “temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware.”
Work on the SLS, led by Boeing (NYSE:) Co as the prime contractor, has been dogged by years of delays and nearly $2 billion in cost overruns. The work stoppage in the face of the coronavirus pandemic comes as engineers raced to complete preparations for the rocket’s first all-engine ground test this summer.
On Tuesday, all 11 NASA centers were placed at Stage 3 of the agency’s coronavirus contingency plans, requiring staff to work remotely except for those assigned to “mission-essential” projects, including the Space Launch System.
But NASA’s Stennis center and the Michoud Assembly Facility were elevated on Thursday to Stage 4, the highest level calling for a temporary shutdown, after an employee was diagnosed with the virus.
The orders essentially put the brakes on NASA’s accelerated timetable for returning astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, an achievement viewed as a stepping stone to human exploration of Mars.
The U.S. Apollo program, NASA’s forerunner to the current lunar effort, accomplished the world’s first six and only manned missions to the moon between 1969 and 1972.
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SpaceX's latest batch of internet satellites includes one with a sun shield – Report Door
(Reuters) – ZoomInfo Technologies Inc on Wednesday priced its initial public offering (IPO) above its upwardly revised target range in the largest U.S. technology listing so far this year, people familiar with the matter said.
The listing is the latest in a packed week for IPOs, which have rebounded after market turmoil in March and April over the COVID-19 pandemic delayed many listings.
Earlier on Wednesday, Warner Music Group Corp’s stock popped 8% on its Nasdaq debut, after selling $1.9 billion in shares toward the higher end of its target range in the largest U.S. IPO so far this year.
ZoomInfo sold shares in the IPO at $21 each, above its upwardly revised $19-$20 target range, the sources said.
The IPO was around 20 times oversubscribed, the sources added.
The Carlyle Group-backed business intelligence platform has said it is looking to sell 44.5 million shares, which at $21 would raise $934.5 million to value the company at just over $8 billion.
ZoomInfo declined to comment.
ZoomInfo said its customers in industries most impacted by the pandemic, including retail, restaurant, hotels, airlines and oil and gas, may reduce their technology or sales and marketing spending, which could adversely impact its business.
JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were lead bookrunners for the IPO. ZoomInfo shares are due to begin trading on Nasdaq on Thursday under the trading symbol “ZI.”
Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Tom Brown and Christopher Cushing
SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites and achieves a reusability record for a Falcon 9 booster – TechCrunch
SpaceX launched its second Falcon 9 rocket in the span of just four days on Wednesday at 9:25 PM EDT (6:25 PM PDT). This one was carrying 60 more satellites for its Starlink constellation, which will bring the total currently in operation on orbit to 480. The launch took off from Florida, where SpaceX launched astronauts for the first time ever on Saturday for the final demonstration mission of its Crew Dragon to fulfill the requirements of NASA’s Commercial Crew human-rating process.
Today’s launch didn’t include any human passengers, but it did fly that next big batch of Starlink broadband internet satellites, as mentioned. Those will join the other Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit, forming part of a network that will eventually serve to provide high-bandwidth, reliable internet connectivity, particularly in underserved areas where terrestrial networks either aren’t present or don’t offer high-speed connections.
This launch included a test of a new system that SpaceX designed in order to hopefully improve an issue its satellites have had with nighttime visibility from Earth. The test Starlink satellite, one of the 60, has a visor system installed that it can deploy post-launch in order to block the sun from reflecting off of its communication antenna surfaces. If it works as designed, it should greatly reduce sunlight reflected off of the satellite back to Earth, and SpaceX will then look to make it a standard part of its Starlink satellite design going forward.
Part of this launch included landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket used for the launch, which has already flown previously four times and been recovered – that makes this a rocket that has now flown five missions, and today it touched down safely once again on SpaceX’s drone landing barge in the ocean so it can potentially be used again.
SpaceX will also be attempting to recover the two fairing halves that form the protective nose cone used during launch at the top of the rocket to protect the payload being carried by the Falcon 9. We’ll provide an update about how that attempt goes once SpaceX provides details.
Tomorrow, June 4, actually marks the 10-year anniversary of the first flight of a Falcon 9 rocket – between this reusability record, and the much more historic first human spaceflight mission earlier this week, that’s quite the decade.
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