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Massive asteroid to pass by Earth looks like it's wearing a face mask. – Barrie 360 – Barrie 360

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If you’re planning to visit Earth in the year 2020, it’s important to be wearing a face mask to protect yourself from the coronavirus. And apparently the rule doesn’t only apply to humans — an asteroid speeding toward Earth appears to know about the pandemic and is sporting a face mask of its own. 

An asteroid called 52768 (1998 OR2) will zoom past Earth next week. Astronomers at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico are tracking the asteroid, and couldn’t help but notice a familiar silhouette after capturing a new radar view of the object. 

“The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically,” research scientist Anne Virkki said in a press release Thursday. “But since we are all thinking about COVID-19 these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.” 

A team at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico took this range-Doppler radar image of Asteroid 1998OR2 on April 12. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

Arecibo data confirmed that 1998 OR2 is about 1.2 miles across and rotates approximately once every four hours. Scientists at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies said it will make its closest approach to Earth on April 29, but it will still be 16 times farther away than the moon — nearly four million miles.

1998 OR2 is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object, which are larger than 500 feet and come within 5 million miles of Earth’s orbit. After its discovery, NASA said it is “large enough to cause global effects” if it impacted Earth, but poses no threat to the planet.

And it won’t be the only time the asteroid pays Earth a visit. And next time, it’ll come a little closer. 

“The radar measurements allow us to know more precisely where the asteroid will be in the future, including its future close approaches to Earth,” says Flaviane Venditti, a research scientist at the observatory. “In 2079, asteroid 1998 OR2 will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year, so it is important to know its orbit precisely.”

Arecibo said that scientists continue to monitor asteroids for planetary defense purposes, but are following proper social distancing guidelines and wearing masks while making observations. 

Anne Virkki, head of Planetary Radar at the Arecibo Observatory and asteroid 1998OR2 pose with their masks. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

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SpaceX's historic astronaut launch try draws huge crowds despite NASA warnings – Space.com

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Spectators crowd the lawn at the end of Main Street in Titusville, Fla., to watch SpaceX launch Demo-2, its first astronaut launch for NASA, from the Kennedy Space Center on May 27, 2020. (Image credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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Spectators pack the sidewalk near Space View Park in Titusville, Fla., on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

Spectators pack the sidewalk near Space View Park in Titusville, Fla., on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Image credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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One mask is visible in this photo of people gathered to watch SpaceX's launch attempt May 27, 2020.

One mask is visible in this photo of spectators gathered in in Port Canaveral, Florida to watch SpaceX’s first astronaut launch for NASA on May 27, 2020. (Image credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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A hopeful, future astronaut celebrates the SpaceX launch attempt in person.

A hopeful, future astronaut celebrates SpaceX’s first astronaut launch attempt in person in a park in Titusville, Florida on May 27, 2020. (Image credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Despite warnings from NASA officials and the risks implied by the current pandemic, which has so far claimed over 100,000 lives in the U.S., approximately 150,000 people gathered on Florida’s space coast to watch SpaceX’s first attempt at launching astronauts to space yesterday (May 27).

SpaceX attempted to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft with two veteran NASA astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center yesterday as part of the Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station. Unfortunately, bad weather delayed the launch to no earlier than Saturday (May 30). 

Despite the risks of the coronavirus pandemic (there have been over 52,000 cases and 2,300 deaths related to the novel coronavirus in Florida so far), stormy weather and a tornado warning, approximately 150,000 people traveled to watch the event. “We are still running cell phone data and other reports for possible additional insight, but the estimated number of viewers in person was 150,000,” Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism told Space.com in an email. 

Full coverage: SpaceX’s historic Demo-2 astronaut launch explained

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made a public announcement before the launch, urging people to do the exact opposite of what these visitors did: stay home. Bridenstine said that people should watch the launch virtually, as full launch coverage was available live on NASA TV and, by gathering and not social distancing, there is a risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Kennedy Space Center was not even open to visitors for SpaceX’s launch attempt yesterday, but its visitor center reopened to the public today (May 28). NASA scheduled the facility’s big reopening for after the SpaceX launch. But, as photos from the event show, people still came in droves and packed into Florida’s nearby beaches and the causeway, desperate to get a peek at the launch. 

Related: Live updates about the coronavirus and COVID-19

The crowds of spectators, who filled highway lanes, creating serious traffic jams on their drives home following the launch delay, were impressive. However, if this launch didn’t take place during a pandemic, approximately 500,000 people could’ve been expected on the space coast, Dale Ketcham, the vice president of government & external relations at Space Florida, told Space.com in an email. 

Florida has recently begun to loosen its restrictions, originally imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, by reopening businesses and public spaces like beaches. It is yet to be seen how many people will return to Kennedy (which will by then be open to the public) this Saturday for the next launch date. 

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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SpaceX crowds came in droves despite downpours, tornado warning, pandemic – MSN Canada

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The crowd launched early, even though the SpaceX Crew Dragon didn’t rise from Pad 39A as scheduled.

Space Coast locals and visitors from hundreds of miles away stayed through the drizzle and the downpours – even a tornado warning – before the eventual scrub of the first crewed launch from U.S. soil since 2011.

People hungry to watch history in the making – and perhaps eager to get out of COVID-19-forced isolation – made their way to Cocoa Beach, Space View Park in nearby Titusville, roadways, side streets and front yards across the Space Coast.






© TIM SHORTT/FLORIDA TODAY
Huge crowds of SpaceX spectators who gathered on A. Max Brewer Bridge in Titusville, Fla., hoping to see the first U.S. crewed mission in almost a decade, start the walk back to their vehicles after the launch was scrubbed.

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Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey told people this month to come watch the scheduled launch in person. The invitation ran contrary to NASA’s recommendation to watch the launch via broadcast. 

Previously: Unlike NASA, Florida sheriff encourages people to come see historic SpaceX launch in-person

Crowds, along with heavy rain, poured into coveted viewing spots across Brevard, but the mission was postponed scant minutes before the scheduled 4:33 p.m. launch.

Elon Musk: How he took SpaceX from an idea to the cusp of making history

Even after word dropped that the launch was a no-go, many made plans to return for the next attempt, set for Saturday.

“Do you guys want to get a hotel room for Saturday night?”   Jake Mills asked after hearing the scrub announcement on his phone via the SpaceX YouTube channel. The Gainesville network engineer and 10 relatives had traveled to the Cocoa Beach Pier to watch the launch.

“Bummed out. But safety first, right?” said Mills, who has friends who work for SpaceX.

“I would rather wait until Saturday for a healthy, safe launch than to bend the rules and launch unsafely,” he said.

SpaceX launching its first human crew to space: Here is everything you need to know

Not many masks were sighted among the onlookers. Crowds were far smaller than for high-profile launches of the past and between the COVID-19 crisis and bad weather, nowhere near the crowd estimates circulating for weeks. NASA had urged spectators to stay away and watch the launch online or on TV because of the pandemic.



a car parked in a parking lot: Matt Ward and Emma O'Halloran from Orlando parked next to the Beachline around 7:30. People started showing up at dawn to view the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the International Space Station.


© MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY
Matt Ward and Emma O’Halloran from Orlando parked next to the Beachline around 7:30. People started showing up at dawn to view the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the International Space Station.

Still, by early afternoon, traffic was blocked on the A. Max Brewer Bridge in Titusville. The bridge grew more crowded prelaunch time and became a sea of thousands of pedestrians headed west after the scrub. The Beachline causeway over the Banana River heading east or west was like a wet parking lot by late afternoon.

At Cocoa Beach Pier, which was no more packed than on a sunny, pre-pandemic weekend, the few hundred who braved nasty storms were primed for the event.

Before 10 a.m., surfers were catching waves, and TV crews had positioned their equipment at Rikki Tiki Tavern at the end of the pier, cameras pointed north toward the launch site. 

The pier opened at 11 a.m., and a handful of lunchtime patrons filtered in. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was evident: Officials shut down the pier from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. to clean and sanitize the area.

‘We didn’t want to miss it’

About 90 minutes before the scheduled launch time, Gulf Coast resident Olga Cole and her family took refuge beneath the Cocoa Beach Pier during a downpour.

She was born and raised in Moldova, an Eastern European nation that declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. She was raised to revere cosmonauts – but wore a white NASA shirt to witness the historic American launch.

“Because of the past of my country, the USSR, we prize the cosmonauts. But it is a big deal,” the 24-year-old said, holding her 7-month-old daughter, Katherine. “Space is common for everyone.”

Olga and her husband, John,  23, a self-described Elon Musk fan, arrived Tuesday night from St. Petersburg.

Bill and Robbin Dick of The Villages in central Florida paid $40 for two spaces to park their 35-foot Winnebago Sunstar motor home at the pier. By 9 a.m., the couple had extended the vehicle’s awning and set up folding chairs, prepped to watch NASA’s launch coverage on TV.

“It’s a historic launch. We’re retired. And these are things we want to do. We didn’t want to miss it,” said Bill Dick, a retired New York City firefighter.



a man standing next to a tree: Russell and Gladia LaFontaine from Deltona set up a little canopy and fishing until launch, parked next to the Beachline. People started showing up at dawn to view the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the International Space Station.


© MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY
Russell and Gladia LaFontaine from Deltona set up a little canopy and fishing until launch, parked next to the Beachline. People started showing up at dawn to view the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the International Space Station.

At Port Canaveral, diners began trickling into Rusty’s Seafood and Oyster Bar just before noon. At 50% capacity, the restaurant holds about 150 people.

“We’re bringing in business, definitely, but it’s not what we’d like to bring in.” said Rusty Fisher, owner. “Just managing people, that’s the big thing, making sure they behave themselves.”

Follow reporter Britt Kennerly on Twitter: @bybrittkennerly 

Contributing: Rick Neale, Eric Rogers, Suzy Leonard, Tim Walters, John Torres, Tim Shortt, Craig Bailey, Malcolm Denemark and Jay Cannon of the USA TODAY Network.

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: SpaceX crowds came in droves despite downpours, tornado warning, pandemic

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Elon Musk on his success: 'America is the land of opportunity – there is no other country where I could have done this' – CNBC

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Growing up, Elon Musk read plenty of books but was especially inspired by science fiction

The genre motivated him to create “cleaner energy technology or [build] spaceships to extend the human species’s reach” in the future, according to the book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance.

With these goals in mind, Musk went on to start SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla in 2003. And now, he is on the precipice of a potentially historic launch for SpaceX on Saturday, as the company plans for its first crewed mission of two NASA astronauts

Looking back on his success, Musk in part credits the opportunity he found when he emigrated to the United States in 1992.

“America is still the land of opportunity more than any other place, for sure,” he told Vance in a Bloomberg interview published Friday.

Musk was born in South Africa, but always wanted to move to the U.S.

“It always seemed like when there was cool technology or things happening, it was kind of in the United States. So, my goal as a kid was to get to get to America basically,” Musk told Kevin Rose in 2012.

At the age 17, he arrived in North America with only “$2,000, a backpack & a suitcase full of books,” Musk tweeted in June 2018.

“I paid my own way through college—through student loans, scholarships, working jobs—and ended up with $100,000 of student debt. I started my first company [Zip2] with $2,500, and I had one computer and a car that I bought for $1,400, and all that debt,” he told Vance. (Though some critics have alleged that Musk had a privileged life paid for by his family, Musk has said that is not true.)

Despite the challenges, Musk succeeded. 

In 1999, Musk sold Zip2 to Compaq for roughly $300 million. Musk used the money from that sale to found X.com, an online financial services platform that merged with Confinity in 2000, and later became PayPal. In 2002, eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5 billion.

These successes led him to start SpaceX and Tesla, along with Neuralink in 2016, and a year later, The Boring Company. Today, Musk is worth $36.8 billion, according to Forbes.

“There is definitely no other country where I could have done this—immigrant or not,” he told Vance.

This story has been updated to reflect the new SpaceX launch date after the initial launch was postponed due to bad weather.

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