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NASA's new chapter in human space exploration on hold as Artemis launch postponed – CBC News



NASA says the next attempt at a debut space flight of its “mega moon rocket” could happen as early as Friday, but engineers and other experts must first review a raft of problems that saw the Artemis mission’s planned launch to be scrapped prior to liftoff.

NASA endured several issues at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Monday morning. First, it was the unco-operative weather, with thunderstorms delaying the propellant load for the rocket. 

Once the go-ahead was given to fill the fuel tanks — which altogether hold 2,778,492 litres of propellant, or the equivalent of 41 swimming pools of water — another issue arose: the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen were filling at unacceptable rates relative to one another. The process was repeatedly stopped and started due to a hydrogen leak, before teams were able to reduce the seepage.

The tanks were being filled with super-cooled liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants, and launch teams began a “conditioning” process to chill the engines sufficiently for liftoff, NASA said.

But one of the four main engines failed to cool down as expected, and while trying to resolve that issue, the team noticed another leak, involving a vent valve higher up on the rocket, prompting launch team managers to pause the countdown and then call off the launch at 8:35 a.m. ET.

Engineers struggled to pinpoint the source of the cooling problem well after the launch postponement was announced. 

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said the fault did not appear to be with the engine itself but with the plumbing leading to it.

WATCH | NASA official explains decision to call off launch: 

‘We don’t launch until it’s right,’ says NASA administrator

7 hours ago

Duration 0:57

Bill Nelson highlights the complexities of a space shuttle, and how they’re able to stress test it to a greater degree because the Artemis operates without a crew — but NASA said it would still take precautions and delay launch if everything was not right.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson and her team also had to deal with sluggish communication between the Orion capsule and launch control. The problem required what turned out to be a simple fix.

Even if there had been no technical snags, thunderstorms ultimately would have prevented a liftoff, NASA said. Dark clouds and rain gathered over the launch site as soon as the countdown was halted, and thunder echoed across the coast.

Launch team to consider next steps

The launch team will reconvene on Tuesday afternoon to review data on the problems, and develop options for the next launch attempt, Sarafin said.

“[There were] a number of challenges. We were ready for some of them, and the technical challenges we encountered on the engine bleed and the vent valve are just some things we’re going to have to look at tomorrow after we get a little smarter and get rested.”

Lightning strikes the launch pad 39B protection system as NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, with the Orion spacecraft aboard, sits on the pad Saturday. (Bill Ingalls/NASA)

Asked by reporters whether a Friday launch was possible, he said that day was “definitely in play,” although it was possible the launch could be delayed until mid-September or later.

The problems seen Monday were reminiscent of NASA’s space shuttle era, when hydrogen fuel leaks disrupted countdowns and delayed a string of launches back in 1990.

“This is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work, and you don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.

WATCH | Unmanned moon mission on hold:

NASA scrubs Artemis I launch, delaying return to moon

11 hours ago

Duration 3:47

NASA has postponed the launch of Artemis I, the first launch in the agency’s mission to return humans to the moon. Fuel leaks forced NASA to scrub the launch of the uncrewed rocket.

The start of the Artemis mission, Artemis I, won’t involve any crew on board — except for three mannequins and a plush Snoopy — but it is a crucial step in returning humans to space. 

Artemis II is set to launch in 2024 or 2025, with four astronauts who will orbit the moon, including a Canadian.

The last time anyone was on the moon was in December 1972.

What to expect of the launch

In the first 10 minutes after liftoff, a lot happens. The solid rocket boosters separate, the launch abort system jettisons and the core stage — the big orange tank — separates and falls back to Earth. At 8:51 ET Orion’s solar arrays, used to power the spacecraft, deploy, which will take roughly 12 minutes.

Then Orion needs to get into position to head on course to the moon. To do this, there are several manoeuvres, which continue throughout the day, which NASA will be watching very closely. 

If all goes well, Orion will be on an outbound trip to the moon that will continue five days after launch. When it gets there, it has to move into a very particular orbit which will take a further three days.

Finally, 35 days after Orion left Earth, the spacecraft will begin its trip home, where it is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego on October 10.

After Orion returns home, NASA will evaluate all the systems and tests they conducted along the way, preparing for Artemis II. 

Canadian Space Agency astronauts Jeremy Hansen and Joshua Kutryk — one of four Canadian astronauts who may be on that Artemis II mission — were at the Kennedy Space Center ahead of the launch and said that the Artemis I mission is just the first step. 

“In the end we will go back to the moon, but it is completely different this time. Not only are we going to a different location, there’s going to be new science, new technology, but we also have our eyes on Mars,” Hansen said.

“This is a proving ground to take humanity into deep space. This is just the first steps of something much, much grander.”

Canadian Space Agency astronauts Jeremy Hansen and Josh Kutryk were on hand at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as NASA prepared for its first moonshot in 50 years. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

Kutryk was keen to point out that this isn’t just a U.S. effort.

“This isn’t just NASA … this is a world effort. This is NASA leading the world along to go out and accomplish these really hard challenges to try to set up — not just a U.S. — but a human presence on the moon and then eventually on Mars,” Kutryk said.

“So it’s very different in that respect and it’s very important in that respect that we’re bringing the world along.”

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SpaceX delivers Russian, Native American women to station – CTV News




A Russian cosmonaut who caught a U.S. lift to the International Space Station arrived at her new home Thursday for a five-month stay, accompanied by a Japanese astronaut and two from NASA, including the first Native American woman in space.

The SpaceX capsule pulled up to the station a day after launching into orbit. The linkup occurred 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the Atlantic, just off the west coast of Africa.

It was the first time in 20 years that a Russian hitched a ride from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the result of a new agreement reached despite friction over the war in Ukraine.

Cosmonaut Anna Kikina joins two Russians already at the orbiting outpost. She’ll live and work on the Russian side until March, before returning to Earth in the same SpaceX capsule.

Riding along with Kikina: Marine Col. Nicole Mann, a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in California, Navy Capt. Josh Cassada and Japan’s Koichi Wakata, the only experienced space flier of the bunch with five missions.

As the capsule closed in, the space station residents promised the new arrivals that their bunks were ready and the outside light was on.

“You guys are the best,” replied Mann, the capsule’s commander.

Mann and her crew will replace three Americans and one Italian who will return in their own SpaceX capsule next week after almost half a year up there. Until then, 11 people will share the orbiting lab.

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio arrived two weeks ago. He launched on a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan, kicking off the cash-free crew swapping between NASA and the Russian Space Agency. They agreed to the plan last summer in order to always have an American and Russian at the station.

Until Elon Musk’s SpaceX started launching astronauts two years ago, NASA was forced to spend tens of millions of dollars every time an astronaut flew up on a Soyuz.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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NASA Wants To Mine The Moon, But Law Experts Say It's Not That Simple – SlashGear



The first roadblock facing humans as we seek to expand our presence in the solar system lies in technology. NASA reports that it takes about seven months (measured in Earth days) to travel from our planet’s surface to Mars. Thrillist notes that travel to the Moon only requires a three-day journey, while exploration of Jupiter or Saturn (the next bodies out from Mars) would require a lengthy, six- or seven-year voyage, respectively. On a technical level, our current means of launching satellites and humans at these distant bodies is exactly that, a launch (via NASA). In order to make space travel more feasible for human explorers, we would need to develop a propulsion system that could continually deliver powered flight to a spacecraft, or at least the ability to continually augment flight speed, rather than simply relying on initial launch velocity to carry the craft along to its final destination.

This means a combination of two distinct realities: Humans must develop a brand new means of propulsion that requires far less storage space and mass, a revolutionary idea to be sure; and we must develop the ability to hop between planets and refuel along this lengthy journey. Therefore, technological advancement that would support increased space travel would require both colonization and a capacity for extracting mineral resources from the surfaces of neighboring planets and moons. Continuous habitation in new worlds would be required to support these efforts.

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Good planning gets the bike rolling – Science Daily



In surveys, a large majority of respondents usually agree that cycling can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gases and to sustainable transport, especially in densely populated areas. In contrast, for many countries in reality there is a large gap between desired and actual numbers. In Germany, for example, only 20% of the short-distance of everyday trips in residential environments are covered by bicycle.

When asked about the reasons, one point repeatedly comes up top of the list: The perceived or actual lack of safety on the bike routes used. Increasing the share of cycling trips in the modal split thus depends crucially on a well-developed bike path infrastructure. However, designing efficient bike path networks is a complex problem that involves balancing a variety of constraints while meeting overall cycling demand. In addition, many municipalities still only have small budgets available for improving bicycle infrastructure.

In their study, researchers from the Chair of Network Dynamics / Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) at TU Dresden propose a new approach to generate efficient bike path networks. This explicitly considers the demand distribution and route choice of cyclists based on safety preferences. Typically, minimizing the travel distance is not the only goal, but aspects such as (perceived) safety or attractiveness of a route are also taken into account.

The starting point of this approach is a reversal of the usual planning process: Under real conditions, a bike path network is created by constantly adding bike paths to more streets. The cfaed scientists, on the contrary, start with an ideal, complete network, in which all streets in a city are equipped with a bike path. In a virtual process, they gradually remove individual, less used bike path segments from this network. The route selection of the cyclists is continuously updated. Thus, a sequence of bike path networks is created that is always adapted to the current usage. Each stage of this sequence corresponds to a variant that could be implemented with less financial effort. In this way, city planners can select the version that fits their municipality’s budget.

“In our study, we illustrate the applicability of this demand-driven planning scheme for dense urban areas of Dresden and Hamburg,” explains Christoph Steinacker, first author of the study. “We approach a real-life issue here using the theoretic toolbox of network dynamics. Our approach allows us to compare efficient bike path networks under different conditions. For example, it allows us to measure the influence of different demand distributions on the emerging network structures.” The proposed approach can thus provide a quantitative assessment of the structure of current and planned bike path networks and support demand-driven design of efficient infrastructures.

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Materials provided by Technische Universität Dresden. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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