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Long March 5B rocket makes maiden – Anhui News



China’s new large carrier rocket Long March-5B blasts off from Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan Province, May 5, 2020. China’s new large carrier rocket Long March-5B made its maiden flight Tuesday, sending the trial version of China’s new-generation manned spaceship and a cargo return capsule for test into space. (Photo by Tu Haichao/Xinhua)

Prototype of nation’s next-generation manned spacecraft placed in orbit

China’s Long March 5B carrier rocket made its first flight on Tuesday evening at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, marking a new chapter in the country’s manned space program, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The 18-story-tall rocket blasted off at 6 pm from a launchpad in the coastal center and soon thundered into the bright blue sky, video clips showed.

Nearly nine minutes later, it placed prototypes of China’s next-generation manned spacecraft and an experimental cargo retrieval craft as well as more than 10 experimental payloads in low-Earth orbit, the agency said in a statement.

After the launch, the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission sent a letter to researchers, engineers and support staff involved in the mission, saying the country and the people are grateful for their contribution and that this remarkable success will inspire the entire nation.

The China Manned Space Agency said the flight successfully verified the overall design and technologies of the new rocket and also marked the beginning of the third stage in China’s manned space program, which aims to put a manned space station into orbit.

Long March 5B is central to the space station program because it is now the only Chinese launch vehicle capable of carrying large space station parts into orbit.

Ji Qiming, a senior China Manned Space Agency official, said after the launch that three Long March 5B flights will be made to put major components of China’s manned space station into orbit, where they will be assembled.

“In addition, four Long March 2F and four Long March 7 missions will be made by the end of 2022 to ferry astronauts and cargo ships to build the station,” he said, adding that the selection of the third group of Chinese astronauts will be finished around July.

Zhou Jianping, the Chinese manned space program’s chief designer, said the space station will inject huge momentum into the country’s science and technology efforts.

With its payload of about 22 metric tons, Tuesday’s mission made the Long March 5B the most powerful Chinese rocket when it comes to carrying capacity into low-Earth orbit. It also has realized a 62-year-old aspiration expressed at a CPC Central Committee meeting in May 1958 by Chairman Mao Zedong, who said that “we shall launch a 20,000-kilogram spacecraft” as he described the nation’s desire to start its space program.

Long March 5B is the first variant of the Long March 5, which was launched on its third mission from the Wenchang center in December. It has one core stage and four boosters.

The rocket is 53.7 meters long, with a core-stage diameter of 5 meters. It is propelled by liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen and kerosene and has a liftoff weight of 849 tons.

The largest difference between the appearance of the Long March 5 and Long March 5B is that the new model is about 4 meters shorter and that it has a much larger fairing-the largest of its kind among all Chinese carrier rockets, said Li Dong, chief designer of the Long March 5 family at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing.

The two types also have different functions-Long March 5 is responsible for launching large satellites to high orbits or lifting deep-space probes, while the new model is tasked with sending large spacecraft into low-Earth orbit, he said on Tuesday.

The first Long March 5B was moved to the launch center in February by two rocket transportation ships-Yuanwang 21 and Yuanwang 22-from the northern coastal city of Tianjin, home to the rocket’s manufacturing complexes, and had been undergoing pre-launch preparations since then.

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A full Strawberry Moon illuminates Weyburn's sky – Weyburn Review



June’s full moon, which is the last full moon of spring or the first of summer, is traditionally called the Strawberry Moon.

This full moon brings with it a penumbral eclipse, which occurs when the moon crosses through the faint outer edge of Earth’s shadow (the penumbra), making part of the moon appear slightly darker than usual. Unlike a full lunar or solar eclipse, the visual effect of a penumbral eclipse is usually so minimal that it can be difficult to see.

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This eclipse was only visible from parts of Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America, but not from North America.

The tradition of naming moons is rich in history. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the name, Strawberry moon, originated with Algonquin tribes in eastern North America who knew it as a signal to gather the ripening fruit of wild strawberries.

Other names for this moon include the Honey Moon and the Mead Moon. It has also been called the Rose Moon, as many roses begin blooming in June.

Historically, full moon names were used to track the seasons and, for this reason, often relate closely to nature. The moon names used today come from Native American and Colonial-era sources. Traditionally, each full moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, rather than just the full moon itself.

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Greeks Enjoy the Strawberry Moon with a Special Eclipse – Greek Reporter



Photo Credit: Nikos Nikoletakis

Greeks witnessed a rare phenomenon watching the first full moon of the summer on Friday night, as the sky was illuminated and then went dark for a few minutes.

The first full moon of the summer – the strawberry moon – was accompanied by an eclipse, as the moon was “entangled” in the net of the earth’s shadow for a few minutes, before taking its place high in the sky.

The penumbra eclipse is a phenomenon in which the moon passes through the half-shadow of the Earth, i.e. the outer part of the shadow of our planet.

People in Attica watched in awe the special phenomenon from several vantage points such as Sounio, Syntagma Square, and the Filopapou and Lycabettus hills.

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SpaceX opens era of amateur astronauts, cosmic movie sets – CTV News



SpaceX’s debut astronaut launch is the biggest, most visible opening shot yet in NASA’s grand plan for commercializing Earth’s backyard.

Amateur astronauts, private space stations, flying factories, out-of-this-world movie sets — this is the future the space agency is striving to shape as it eases out of low-Earth orbit and aims for the moon and Mars.

It doesn’t quite reach the fantasized heights of George Jetson and Iron Man, but still promises plenty of thrills.

“I’m still waiting for my personal jetpack. But the future is incredibly exciting,” NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren said the day before SpaceX’s historic liftoff.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, who will test drive Boeing’s space capsule next year, envisions scientists, doctors, poets and reporters lining up for rocket rides.

“I see this as a real possibility,” she said. “You’re going to see low-Earth orbit open up.”

The road to get there has never been so crowded, with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company leading the pack.

A week ago, SpaceX became the first private company to send people into orbit, something accomplished by only three countries in nearly 60 years. The flight to the International Space Station returned astronaut launches to the U.S. after nine long years.

“This is hopefully the first step on a journey toward a civilization on Mars,” an emotional Musk told journalists following liftoff.

Closer in time and space is SpaceX’s involvement in a plan to launch Tom Cruise to the space station to shoot a movie in another year or so. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine embraces the idea. He wants NASA to be just one of many customers in this new space-travelling era, where private companies own and fly their own spaceships and sell empty seats.

“Kind of a changing of the guard in how we’re going to do human spaceflight in the future,” said Mike Suffredini, a former NASA station program manager who now leads Houston’s Axiom Space company.

Axiom has partnered with SpaceX to launch three customers to the space station in fall 2021. An experienced astronaut will accompany them, serving as the commander-slash-tour guide. Two private flights a year are planned, using completely automated capsules belonging to SpaceX or Boeing, NASA’s two commercial crew providers.

The ticket price — which includes 15 weeks of training and more than a week at the space station — is about $55 million. Besides the three signed up, others have expressed serious interest, Suffredini said.

Since last weekend’s successful launch, “everybody’s starting to wonder where their place in line is,” Suffredini told The Associated Press on Thursday. “That’s a really, really cool position to be in now.”

Space Adventures Inc. of Vienna, Virginia, also has teamed up with SpaceX. Planned for late next year, this five-day-or-so mission would skip the space station and instead orbit two to three times higher for more sweeping views of Earth. The cost: around $35 million. It’s also advertising rides to the space station via Boeing Starliner and Russian Soyuz capsules.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are taking it slower and lower with tourist flights. These space-skimming, up-and-down flights will last minutes, not days, and cost a lot less. Hundreds already have reservations with Virgin Galactic.

Branson is the only one of the three billionaires planning to launch himself before putting customers aboard at $250,000 a pop. His winged rocketship is designed to drop from a customized plane flying over New Mexico.

Blue Origin’s customers will launch on rockets from West Texas; the capsules sport wall-to-ceiling windows, the largest ever built for a spacecraft.

It’s not just rocket rides that have companies salivating.

Beginning in 2024, Axiom plans to build its own addition to the 260-mile-high (420-kilometre-high) outpost to accommodate its private astronauts. The segment would later be detached and turned into its own free-flying abode.

Space Adventures is marketing flights to the moon — not to land, but buzz it in Russian spacecraft.

The moon — considered the proving ground for the ultimate destination Mars — is where it’s at these days. NASA is pushing to get astronauts back on the lunar surface by 2024 and establish a permanent base there.

Musk’s company recently won contracts to haul cargo to the moon and develop a lunar lander for astronauts.

But the bigger draw for Musk is Mars. It’s why he founded SpaceX 18 years ago — and why he keeps pushing the space envelope.

“I cannot emphasize this enough. This is the thing that we need to do. We must make life sustainably multi planetary. It’s not one planet to the exclusion of another, but to extend life beyond Earth,” Musk said after last weekend’s launch.

“I call upon the public to support this goal,” he added, beckoning to the NASA TV cameras.

To fulfil that vision, SpaceX is using its own money to develop a massive, bullet-shaped steel spacecraft called Starship at the bottom of Texas. Prototypes repeatedly have ruptured and exploded on the test pad, most recently on the eve of the company’s astronaut flight from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

NASA’s Bridenstine said space is currently a $400 billion market, including satellites. Opening up spaceflight to paying customers, he said, could expand the market to $1 trillion.

The goal is to drive down launch costs and ramp up innovation, drawing in more people and more business. By NASA’s count, 576 people have flown in space, with only the wealthy few footing their own bill.

The world’s first space tourist, California businessman Dennis Tito, paid a reported $20 million to the Russians to fly to the space station in 2001 — against NASA’s wishes. The Canadian founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, shelled out $35 million for a Russian ticket in 2009. Space Adventures arranged both deals.

“It really is the billionaire boys’ club,” former space shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin said during last Saturday’s launch broadcast. Once prices drop, he’d consider returning to space, but not without his dogs.

“They’re ready to go, need SpaceX suits for them,” he said.

Once lunar bases are established, the next step will be Mars in the 2030s, according to Bridenstine.

“Those are the kinds of things that inspire the next Elon Musk, the next Jeff Bezos, the next Sir Richard Branson. And that’s what we have to get back to as an agency,” he said.

SpaceX still has to get NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken safely back to Earth this summer in its Dragon capsule. But the company already is looking ahead to the next astronaut crew. Crew mission director Benji Reed got a brief taste of this future as he wrapped up a chat with the astronauts Monday.

“Thank you for flying SpaceX,” he chimed.

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