By Joey Roulette
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co’s Starliner astronaut spacecraft made a “bull’s-eye” landing in the New Mexico desert on Sunday, a successful ending to a crewless test mission that two days earlier failed to reach the orbit needed to dock with the International Space Station.
The 7:58 a.m. ET (1258 GMT) landing at the White Sands desert capped a turbulent 48 hours for Boeing’s botched milestone test of an astronaut capsule that is designed to help NASA regain its human spaceflight capabilities.
A software problem on Friday caused the capsule to fail to attain the orbit needed to rendezvous with the space station, another unwelcome engineering black eye for Boeing in a year that has seen corporate crisis over the grounding of its 737 MAX jetliner following two fatal crashes of the aircraft.
Officials from the aerospace company and NASA breathed sighs of relief following the landing, a highly challenging feat.
“Today it couldn’t really have gone any better,” Boeing space chief executive Jim Chilton told reporters on Sunday, adding that experts would need weeks to analyze the data from this mission before determining if Boeing could move forward with its plan to send a crewed mission on the craft in 2020.
The landing, which tested the capsule’s difficult reentry into the atmosphere and parachute deployment, will yield the mission’s most valuable test data after it failed to meet one of its core objectives of docking to the space station.
“We’re going to get I think a lot more data than we would have gotten if the test had gone according to plan,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
After Starliner’s touchdown, teams of engineers in trucks raced to inspect the vehicle, whose six airbags cushioned its impact on the desert surface as planned, a live video feed showed.
The spacecraft was in good condition after landing, Chilton said, with little charring and stable air pressure and temperature in the cabin.
The CST-100 Starliner’s debut launch to orbit was a milestone test for Boeing. The company is vying with SpaceX, the privately held rocket company of billionaire high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, to revive NASA’s human spaceflight capabilities. SpaceX carried out a successful unmanned flight of its Crew Dragon capsule to the space station in March.
After the Starliner capsule was launched from Florida on Friday, an automated timer error prevented it from attaining the right orbit to meet and dock with the space station.
Starliner’s three main parachutes deployed just over one mile (1,600 meters) from the Earth’s surface on Sunday after enduring intense heat from the violent reentry through the atmosphere, plummeting at 25 times the speed of sound.
The parachute deployment, one of the most challenging procedures under the program to develop a commercial manned space capsule, earned Boeing a win after a previous mishap where one parachute failed to deploy during a November test of Starliner’s abort thrusters.
That test tossed the capsule miles into the sky to demonstrate its ability to land a crew safely back on the ground in the event of a launch failure.
For the current mission, Boeing and NASA officials said they still do not understand why software caused the craft to miss the orbit required.
Sunday’s landing marked the first time a U.S. orbital space capsule designed for humans landed on land.
All past U.S. capsules, including SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, splashed down in the ocean. Russia’s Soyuz capsules and China’s past crew capsules made land landings.
The now-retired Space Shuttle used to glide in like a massive plane. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Q8mzCR)
(Reporting by Joey Roulette, additional reporting by Gabriella Borter in Fairfield, Connecticut; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Shumaker)
This modular home workout setup fits in your closet, no more excuses to not exercise! – Yanko Design
Few industries have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic like the fitness industry has changed. Acclimating to the increasingly strange times, home gym designers have taken to the drawing boards by storm. Working out at home is possible, yes. Fun? Depends. Comfortable? Hard to say. What’s definite is that the team at G-Wall turned the everchanging state of 2020 into the well-knit, conceptual core of their sleek, modular home gym design. Recently, the designers behind the G-Wall Home Fitness System were presented with 2020’s K-Design Award.
Instead of answering the unanswerable (really, who can say what’s up next for 2020), the team behind G-Wall designed their home gym specifically so that it could be stored behind a closet or armoire cabinet’s door. That way the time that you would have spent making room for your home fitness system, instead is spent actually putting it to use. G-Wall’s Home Fitness System has several standout features: variable modules, user-adjustability, and compatibility, to name a few. Each user decides on which modules they want to comprise the larger system. This means that despite the amount of space in your home, G-Wall’s design makes it possible to incorporate a home gym anywhere. The different modules that users can decide on range from cardiovascular equipment, to free weights and even heavy training. The gear that comes with each module is stored in cabinets or racks that easily hang behind doors or however the user deems appropriate for their personal space.
Once quarantine started, many of us twiddled our thumbs while figuring out how to stay healthy and active within the confines of our respective homes. Fitness and health remained a top priority for many global citizens. It was never a question of compromise or adjustment when it came to working out during quarantine. Rather, designers and gym-goers took to the drawing boards to concoct their own solutions. That’s all to say that while the fitness industry has indeed changed with 2020’s unpredictable timeline, some of the most innovative new designs have been devised. Such deliberate and convenient designs like G-Wall prove that as unanswerable as some questions may be, as uncertain as the time may feel, design’s practical and adaptive nature is one thing on which we can always depend.
A Physicist Has Come Up With Math That Makes 'Paradox-Free' Time Travel Plausible – ScienceAlert
No one has yet managed to travel through time – at least to our knowledge – but the question of whether or not such a feat would be theoretically possible continues to fascinate scientists.
As movies such as The Terminator, Donnie Darko, Back to the Future and many others show, moving around in time creates a lot of problems for the fundamental rules of the Universe: if you go back in time and stop your parents from meeting, for instance, how can you possibly exist in order to go back in time in the first place?
It’s a monumental head-scratcher known as the ‘grandfather paradox’, but now a physics student Germain Tobar, from the University of Queensland in Australia, says he has worked out how to “square the numbers” to make time travel viable without the paradoxes.
“Classical dynamics says if you know the state of a system at a particular time, this can tell us the entire history of the system,” says Tobar.
“However, Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts the existence of time loops or time travel – where an event can be both in the past and future of itself – theoretically turning the study of dynamics on its head.”
What the calculations show is that space-time can potentially adapt itself to avoid paradoxes.
To use a topical example, imagine a time traveller journeying into the past to stop a disease from spreading – if the mission was successful, the time traveller would have no disease to go back in time to defeat.
Tobar’s work suggests that the disease would still escape some other way, through a different route or by a different method, removing the paradox. Whatever the time traveller did, the disease wouldn’t be stopped.
Tobar’s work isn’t easy for non-mathematicians to dig into, but it looks at the influence of deterministic processes (without any randomness) on an arbitrary number of regions in the space-time continuum, and demonstrates how both closed timelike curves (as predicted by Einstein) can fit in with the rules of free will and classical physics.
“The maths checks out – and the results are the stuff of science fiction,” says physicist Fabio Costa from the University of Queensland, who supervised the research.
The new research smooths out the problem with another hypothesis, that time travel is possible but that time travellers would be restricted in what they did, to stop them creating a paradox. In this model, time travellers have the freedom to do whatever they want, but paradoxes are not possible.
While the numbers might work out, actually bending space and time to get into the past remains elusive – the time machines that scientists have devised so far are so high-concept that for they currently only exist as calculations on a page.
We might get there one day – Stephen Hawking certainly thought it was possible – and if we do then this new research suggests we would be free to do whatever we wanted to the world in the past: it would readjust itself accordingly.
“Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency,” says Costa. “The range of mathematical processes we discovered show that time travel with free will is logically possible in our universe without any paradox.”
The research has been published in Classical and Quantum Gravity.
The Great Conjunction of 2020: Jupiter and Saturn sky show this fall – Minnesota Public Radio News
There’s a spectacular sky show in the southern sky this fall.
It’s called the Great Conjunction. Saturn and Jupiter are bright in the southern sky on clear evenings. The waxing moon adds to the show tonight hanging to the lower left of Saturn.
On September 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2020, look for the moon in the evening sky, and it’ll guide you to Jupiter and Saturn, our solar system’s two biggest gas giant planets. Given clear skies, you can’t miss these bright worlds. The moon is the second-brightest celestial object, after the sun. And Jupiter is exceptionally bright, too, outshining all the stars (but just a hair less bright than dazzling Mars; more about Mars below). As for Saturn, it’s as bright as the brightest stars. Plus Jupiter and Saturn are noticeable now for their nearness to each other. They’re headed for a great conjunction before 2020 ends.
The Great Conjunction of December 2020
Jupiter and Saturn are 7.5 degrees apart in the southern sky now. They will draw closer this fall and will be just 0.1 degrees apart on the winter solstice on December 21.
Astro Bob writes for the Duluth News Tribune about how the two planets draw closer until conjunction on December 21.
More distant Saturn orbits at 21,675 mph (9.7 km/sec) and takes 29 years to circle the sun. Because Jupiter is both closer to the Earth and travels faster it overtakes Saturn about once every 20 years, an event called a great conjunction.
Because the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn are tilted slightly with respect to Earth’s orbit, 1.3° and 2.5° respectively, when they do line up the distance between them varies, making every conjunction different. If they were in exactly the same plane Jupiter would always pass directly in front of Saturn, but that’s extremely rare.
Enjoy the amazing sky show on clear evenings this fall.
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