NASA’s new class of astronauts – the first to graduate since the agency announced its Artemis program – appear on stage during their graduation ceremony at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on Jan. 10, 2020. The class includes 11 NASA astronauts, as well as two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts, selected in 2017. They will join the active astronaut corps, beginning careers in exploration that may take them to the International Space Station, on missions to the Moon under the Artemis program, or someday, Mars. Pictured from left are: Kayla Barron of NASA, Zena Cardman of NASA, Raja Chari of NASA, Matthew Dominick of NASA, Bob Hines of NASA, Warren Hoburg of NASA, Jonny Kim of NASA, Joshua Kutryk of CSA, Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, Loral O’Hara of NASA, Jessica Watkins of NASA, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons of CSA, and Frank Rubio of NASA. Credit: NASA
NASA welcomed 11 new astronauts to its ranks Friday, January 10, 2020, increasing the number of those eligible for spaceflight assignments that will expand humanity’s horizons in space for generations to come. The new astronauts successfully completed more than two years of required basic training and are the first to graduate since the agency announced its Artemis program.
The new graduates may be assigned to missions destined for the International Space Station, the Moon, and ultimately, Mars. With a goal of sustainable lunar exploration later this decade, NASA will send the first woman and next man to the surface on the Moon by 2024. Additional lunar missions are planned once a year thereafter and human exploration of Mars is targeted for the mid-2030s.
“These individuals represent the best of America, and what an incredible time for them to join our astronaut corps,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston where the graduation ceremony took place. “2020 will mark the return of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, and will be an important year of progress for our Artemis program and missions to the Moon and beyond.”
During Friday’s ceremony, each new astronaut received a silver pin, a tradition dating back to the Mercury 7 astronauts, who were selected in 1959. They will receive a gold pin once they complete their first spaceflights.
This was the first public graduation ceremony for astronauts the agency has ever hosted, and Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas were among the speakers at the event.
“For generations, the United States has been the world leader in space exploration, and Johnson Space Center will always be both the heart and home of human spaceflight activity,” said Cornyn. “I have no doubt the newly minted astronauts will add to that history and accomplish incredible things.”
Selected for training in 2017, the NASA astronaut candidates were chosen from a record-setting pool of more than 18,000 applicants.
“I congratulate these exceptional men and women on being the first graduating class of the Artemis program,” Cruz said. “They are the pioneers of the final frontier whose work will help fortify America’s leadership in space for generations to come. I am excited for the opportunities ahead of them, including landing the first woman ever on the surface of the Moon, and having the first boots to step on Mars.”
Including the current class, NASA now has 48 active astronauts in its corps. NASA is also considering plans to open the application process this spring for the next class of astronaut candidates.
Training alongside the NASA astronaut candidates for the past two years were two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts who also participated in the graduation ceremony.
NASA’s newest astronauts are:
Kayla Barron, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, originally is from Richland, Washington. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. As a submarine warfare officer, Barron served aboard the USS Maine (SSBN 741), completing three strategic deterrent patrols. She came to NASA from the U.S. Naval Academy, where she was serving as the flag aide to the superintendent.
Zena Cardman calls Williamsburg, Virginia, home. She completed a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in marine sciences at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Cardman was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, working at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments. Her field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels as both a scientist and crew member, and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho, and Hawaii.
Raja Chari, a U.S. Air Force colonel, hails from Cedar Falls, Iowa. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He continued on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. Chari served as the commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California.
Matthew Dominick, a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, was born and grew up in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of San Diego and a master’s degree in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Dominick served on the USS Ronald Reagan as department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115.
Bob Hines, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, attended high school in Mountaintop, Pennsylvania, but considers Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, his hometown. He has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University and a master’s degree in flight test engineering from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB. Hines served as a developmental test pilot on all models of the F-15 while earning a master’s in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama. He has deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Prior to being selected as an astronaut, he was a Federal Aviation Administration flight test pilot and a NASA research pilot at Johnson.
Warren Hoburg originally is from Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a commercial pilot, and spent several seasons serving on the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit and Yosemite Search and Rescue. Hoburg came to NASA from MIT, where he led a research group as an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics.
Dr. Jonny Kim, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, was born and grew up in Los Angeles. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, then trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat V. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego and a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kim was a resident physician in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Jasmin Moghbeli, a U.S. Marine Corps major, considers Baldwin, New York, her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with information technology at MIT and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. She also is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Moghbeli came to NASA from Yuma, Arizona, where she tested H-1 helicopters and served as the quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1.
Loral O’Hara was born in Houston. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University. Prior to joining NASA, O’Hara was a Research Engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where she worked on the engineering, test, and operations of deep-ocean research submersibles and robots.
Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, originally is from Miami. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. Rubio has accumulated more than 1,100 hours as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, including 600 hours of combat and imminent danger time. He was serving as a surgeon for the 3rd Battalion of the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colorado, before coming to NASA.
Jessica Watkins hails from Lafayette, Colorado. She graduated from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, with a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, then went on to earn a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Watkins has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.
CSA’s newest astronauts are:
Joshua Kutryk, a Royal Canadian Air Force lieutenant colonel, is from Beauvallon, Alberta. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, as well as master’s degrees in space studies, flight test engineering, and defense studies. Prior to joining CSA, Kutryk worked as an experimental test pilot and a fighter pilot in Cold Lake, Alberta, where he led the unit responsible for the operational flight-testing of fighter aircraft in Canada.
Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons hails from Calgary, Alberta. She holds an honors bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal and a doctorate in engineering from the University of Cambridge. While at McGill, she conducted research on flame propagation in microgravity, in collaboration with CSA and the National Research Council Flight Research Laboratory. Prior to joining CSA, Sidey-Gibbons worked as an assistant professor in combustion in the Department of Engineering at Cambridge.
Astronaut candidate training for the new graduates included instruction, practice, and testing in spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language. As astronauts, they will help develop spacecraft, support the teams currently in space and ultimately join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space. NASA continues its work aboard the space station, which, in November, will celebrate 20 consecutive years of human occupation. The agency also is on the verge of launching astronauts again from American soil aboard American commercial spacecraft, and is preparing to send humans to the Moon as part of the Artemis program.
Welcome to your weekend! The first week back after CES has been a long one, but now it’s time to relax. Below there are some highlighted stories from Friday and the rest of the week, but the news I needed to see is that a rumored “Pro Mode” for MacBooks could bring back the illicit thrill of a Turbo Button that’s been missing since the days of the 486.
With official support from Netflix, Ben & Jerry’s has announced a new flavor called Netflix and Chill’d. It’s made with peanut butter, salty pretzel swirls and fudge brownie chunks. The lid displays the company’s logo and declares that you’re about to eat “A Netflix Original Flavor.”
Microsoft has been experimenting with streaming Xbox games to Android phones and tablets for a while as it looks for an answer to the PS4’s Remote Play. Now, after opening a limited beta late last year, all Xbox Insiders in countries that support Xbox One can have a go.
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Bad weather forced Elon Musk’s SpaceX to delay until Sunday a test in which it will destroy one of its own rockets in atrial of a crucial emergency abort system on an unmanned astronaut capsule.
The test, the company’s final milestone test before flying NASA astronauts from U.S. soil, had been planned to take place on Saturday.
SpaceX said in a Twitter post it was standing down from the Crew Dragon capsule test because of high winds and rough seas in the recovery area.
It was now looking at carrying out the test on Sunday, with a six-hour test window starting at 8 a.m. ET (1300 GMT).
Less than two minutes after liftoff from a launchpad in Florida, the Crew Dragon will fire on-board thrusters to eject itself off a Falcon 9 rocket mid-air, simulating an emergency abort scenario that will prove it can return astronauts to safety.
The test is crucial to qualify SpaceX’s astronaut capsule to fly humans to the International Space Station, which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to come as soon as mid-2020. It follows years of development and delays as the United States has sought to revive its human spaceflight program through private partnerships.
NASA awarded $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.5 billion to SpaceX in 2014 to develop separate capsule systems capable of ferrying astronauts to the space station from U.S. soil for the first time since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011.
The space agency has since relied on Russian spacecraft to hitch rides to the space station.
In the test, the Falcon 9 rocket’s boosters will shut down roughly 12 miles (19 km) above the ocean, a mock failure that will trigger Crew Dragon’s so-called SuperDraco thrusters to jet itself away at supersonic speeds of up to 1,500 miles per hour (2,400 kph).
The capsule will deploy three parachutes to slow its descent to water, carrying aboard two human-shaped test dummies dressed in motion sensors to collect valuable data on the immense g-force – the effect of acceleration on the body – imposed during abort.
The booster will free-fall and tumble back uncontrollably toward the ocean, SpaceX’s Crew Mission Management director Benji Reed said. “At some point we expect that the Falcon will start to break up.”
“Our Falcon 9 recovery forces will be standing by ready to go and recover as much of the Falcon as we can as safely as possible,” Reed said.
The in-flight abort test was originally scheduled to take place in mid-2019, but the timeline was delayed by nine months after one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules exploded in April on a test stand just before firing its launch abort thrusters, triggering a lengthy investigation.
SpaceX zeroed in on a previously unknown explosive reaction between a titanium valve and the capsule’s rocket fuel. Reed told Reuters SpaceX had completed the investigation within the last week.
They travel through space, and they’ve puzzled astronomers since they were first discovered just over decade ago. They’re called fast radio bursts, and thanks to a team of Canadian scientists, a new signal has been precisely located in a nearby galaxy. It’s a major step to figuring out where these enigmas come from in our universe.
The findings are in part due to the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Fast Radio Burst collaboration, a team made up of more than 50 scientists across North America. The team collects data from a radio telescope stationed at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory south of Penticton, B.C.
FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves that come from far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Lasting less than a second, the phenomenon was first reported in 2007. Many have been spotted since, but only around a dozen have been shown to repeat — a quality crucial to spotting them again so researchers can find out more.
There are many theories of what they could be, but with such a small sample size, astronomers can’t rule much out just yet. They’ve only traced the origins of two repeating signals so far.
“They’re telling us something about an energetic arena we’ve had very little insight of to date,” said Paul Delaney, a professor in the physics and astronomy department at York University who was not involved in the study.
“It’s going to give us a window into new astrophysics, and that gives us a better understanding of the universe as a whole,” he said.
The team, co-led by the universities of British Columbia, Toronto and McGill, along with the National Research Council of Canada, has been working toward that goal since 2017.
Extragalactic signal discovery! Canada’s <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIME?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CHIME</a> telescope detects second-ever repeating fast radio burst, a collaboration between <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/UofT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#UofT</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/UofTArtSci?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@uoftartsci</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/UBC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ubc</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/mcgillu?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@mcgillu</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/NRC_CNRC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@nrc_cnrc</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/Perimeter?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@perimeter</a>. 💫 <a href=”https://t.co/pNSn8goz4U”>https://t.co/pNSn8goz4U</a> <a href=”https://t.co/02K1p7I22j”>pic.twitter.com/02K1p7I22j</a>
The telescope’s ability to look at large portions of the sky at a time gives the team a better look at the random and elusive behaviour of FRBs, said the University of Toronto’s Mubdi Rahman, CHIME research associate and co-author of the study.
“Unlike most other telescopes, CHIME stays stable and doesn’t point at things. It lets the sky move,” he said.
After co-ordination with CHIME, the latest burst to be tracked, known as FRB 180916.j0158+65, was spotted and tracked by the European VLBI Network, eight telescopes spanning the globe.
The eight-metre Gemini North telescope in Hawaii was the crucial last piece to trace the FRB to a spiral galaxy 500 million light years away, according to results published in the Jan. 9 edition of Nature.
Since the discovery, scientists have found nine more repeating signals from space, according to a report released earlier this week. That means they could be localized, too, identifying the environments in space they come from, what causes them — and eventually, what these massive energy bursts are.
But CHIME can’t localize FRBs on its own. After seeing the signals repeat, it can narrow down the origins to certain parts of the sky. CHIME can then team up with more precise telescopes to match it with a galaxy. It’s set to get an extension in a few years that will enable it to localize data points on its own.
Right now, the telescope is predicted to detect between two and 50 FRBs per day, an event rate scientists consider very high. That’s putting CHIME, a Canadian led and funded project, at the forefront of FRB research.
CHIME was also behind the first repeater ever spotted, FRB 121102. It was traced to a different environment, a dwarf galaxy in 2017.
Both repeaters tracked so far have been found to originate from star-forming galaxies, an attribute that might be important for further research, said Deborah Good, a post-doctoral student at UBC and CHIME researcher.
“It’s hard to say. We always have to be really careful about generalizing from a really small number like this,” she said. “But it also means that every data point we get is super important.”
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