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NASA is about to finally test fire its future Moon rocket – The Verge

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Four huge rocket engines will roar to life on Saturday, in a crucial test for NASA’s powerful next-generation rocket. This long-awaited trial run won’t leave the ground, but it will be so powerful that officials have warned that it may be heard up to 60 miles away.

Saturday’s test is the last step in series of tests that NASA calls a Green Run for the Space Launch System (SLS), a powerful rocket designed to launch missions to the Moon and deep space. It will test the 212 foot tall core of the SLS, which consists of four engines, liquid fuel tanks, and the computer and technical systems that NASA calls the “brains” of the rocket.

The rocket was originally intended to debut in 2017, but it has consistently been over budget and behind schedule. Now, NASA will finally have a chance to see how the rocket’s systems work while the four engines are firing ahead of the SLS’ first launch later this year. Engineers and technicians have already tested the core’s backup systems, run through dress rehearsals to double check-timing, and loaded and unloaded hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel ahead of the big event. Now they just need to put it all together for the first time to really mimic a launch.

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“To be able to run a test like this, it takes not only a village, but small city,” said Ryan McKibben, the Green Run test conductor at Stennis Space Center, in a press conference. It will take six barges to haul more than 700,000 gallons of super cold propellent needed for this test — roughly 200,000 gallons of liquid oxygen, and 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen.

The four engines themselves were originally built for NASA’s Space Shuttle program, which ended in 2011. They’ve been updated with upgrades including new engine controllers to get them ready to become part of the SLS. When the engines are fired, they will produce 1.6 million pounds of thrust — more than enough to send the core soaring. “When we ignite the engines, the stage actually will think it is flying. That’s what it’s built to do,” McKibbin said.

While the core of the SLS is built to fly, the massive test stand is designed to keep it firmly grounded. The huge structure is anchored into the ground with over 144 feet of concrete and steel that will absorb and redirect the thrust from the engines, McKibbin said. The engines will burn for about eight minutes — approximately the same amount of time that it will take to launch the rocket to the Moon on future missions.

This is the last big rehearsal for the rocket before it heads to space, which means it’s also one of the last chances for NASA to get data on how the rocket might perform. The team plans to run the engines through the same thrust changes that they will eventually endure when they fly through the Earth’s atmosphere. The core stage is packed with over 1,400 sensors to help document all aspects of the test and gather data that NASA will analyze intensely over the next several days after the test.

“The reason we test is to uncover issues on the ground and not in space,” said Julie Bassler, SLS stages manager, at a NASA press conference this week. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that we get the most out of this hot fire test and we are ready to launch.”

If the test is successful, the core stage will be inspected and shipped to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, where it will be joined to other parts of the rocket and the Orion crew capsule. Sometime after that, the SLS will make its launch debut on the uncrewed mission called Artemis 1. That mission doesn’t have a firm date yet, but NASA is aiming for that launch to happen in November 2021.

Even as the SLS heads for space, it’s worth noting that it is not the only deep space rocket on the horizon. SpaceX is rapidly prototyping its Starship system in Texas, and the Starship design is being considered as a candidate lunar lander for future NASA missions.

The window for the SLS hot fire test opens at 5:00PM ET, and coverage on NASA TV will start at 4:20PM ET. NASA’s livestream coverage can be found on YouTube and on the agency’s website.

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BlackburnNews.com – Fireball flies over Chatham-Kent sky – BlackburnNews.com

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Fireball flies over Chatham-Kent sky

February 26, 2021 fireball (Screen capture via fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov)


If you witnessed a bright light flash across the sky Friday night in Chatham-Kent, you weren’t imagining things.

A fireball passed over the region around 10:07 p.m.

Peter Brown, a Western University professor, meteor scientist and planetary astronomer tweeted a video of the event. Brown described it as being “as bright as [the] full Moon.”

According to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network, observers in Ontario, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania reported seeing a bright fireball in the sky on Friday evening. The event was captured by several all-sky meteor cameras belonging to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network and the Southern Ontario Meteor Network operated by Western University.

According to NASA, an initial analysis of the video shows that the meteor appears 90 km above Erieau on the northern shore of Lake Erie. It moved northwest at a speed of 105,800 km per hour as it crossed the Canada-U.S. border before ending 32 km above Fair Haven, MI.

“At its brightest, the fireball rivalled the quarter Moon in intensity,” read a statement on the NASA All Sky Fireball Network. “Combining this with the speed gives the fragment a mass of at least 2 kilograms and a diameter of approximately 12 centimetres.”

It’s believed that the meteor was caused by a fragment of a Jupiter family comet although an asteroidal origin is also possible.

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Fireball flies over Chatham-Kent sky – BlackburnNews.com

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Fireball flies over Chatham-Kent sky

February 26, 2021 fireball (Screen capture via fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov)


If you witnessed a bright light flash across the sky Friday night in Chatham-Kent, you weren’t imagining things.

A fireball passed over the region around 10:07 p.m.

Peter Brown, a Western University professor, meteor scientist and planetary astronomer tweeted a video of the event. Brown described it as being “as bright as [the] full Moon.”

According to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network, observers in Ontario, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania reported seeing a bright fireball in the sky on Friday evening. The event was captured by several all-sky meteor cameras belonging to the NASA All Sky Fireball Network and the Southern Ontario Meteor Network operated by Western University.

According to NASA, an initial analysis of the video shows that the meteor appears 90 km above Erieau on the northern shore of Lake Erie. It moved northwest at a speed of 105,800 km per hour as it crossed the Canada-U.S. border before ending 32 km above Fair Haven, MI.

“At its brightest, the fireball rivalled the quarter Moon in intensity,” read a statement on the NASA All Sky Fireball Network. “Combining this with the speed gives the fragment a mass of at least 2 kilograms and a diameter of approximately 12 centimetres.”

It’s believed that the meteor was caused by a fragment of a Jupiter family comet although an asteroidal origin is also possible.

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COVID-19 outbreak declared at Severn Court Student Residence in Peterborough – kawarthaNOW.com

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Severn Court Student Residence at 555 Wilfred Drive in Peterborough provides off-campus student housing primarily to Fleming College students, as well as students of Seneca College Aviation and Trent University. (Photo: Severn Court Management Company / Facebook)

Peterborough Public Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak on Saturday (February 27) at Severn Court Student Residence in Peterborough.

Six cases have been confirmed so far at the 555 Wilfred Drive complex, which provides off-campus student housing primarily to Fleming College students, as well as students of Seneca College Aviation and Trent University. Approximately 200 students live in six separate buildings at the housing complex.

The index case has screened positive for a variant of concern, the health unit reports. Based on initial investigations, several of the exposures occurred during a private gathering that took place on Saturday, February 20th.

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Medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra has issued a Section 22 Order closing the housing complex to visitors and requiring all residents to self-isolate.

“This outbreak is very concerning not only because it involves a variant of concern and could lead to many more cases and high-risk contacts, but because it was also completely preventable,” said Dr. Salvaterra. “In spite of this difficult situation, Severn Court Management Company has been incredibly responsive and are working very hard to help us contain the spread of the virus.”

The health unit is asking anyone who visited Severn Court between Saturday, February 20th and Saturday, February 27th to self-isolate and get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms, and is asking everyone is asked to stay away from the housing complex until further notice.

Peterborough Public Health is also working closely with Trent University and Fleming College.

The health unit says the specific variant of concern is not yet known while the sample undergoes further testing to identify its genomic sequence.

Contract tracing continues and further updates will be issued as more details become available.

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