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SpaceX aiming for first polar launch from Florida in 60 years – SpaceFlight Insider

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On August 30, SpaceX is planning to make another entry in the modern-day history books, flying a launch trajectory not seen from Florida’s Space Coast in over 60 years. The mission to launch the SAOCOM-1B payload into a sun-synchronous polar orbit is also part of a rare, two-launch day on the Eastern Range. Set to […]

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Team members pose with the SAOCOM 1B satellite. Image: CONAE

On August 30, SpaceX is planning to make another entry in the modern-day history books, flying a launch trajectory not seen from Florida’s Space Coast in over 60 years. The mission to launch the SAOCOM-1B payload into a sun-synchronous polar orbit is also part of a rare, two-launch day on the Eastern Range.

Set to fly atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the SAOCOM 1B satellite is the second of its type for CONAE, Argentina’s space agency, SAOCOM 1 earth observation satellite system. The system is primarily tasked to aid in disaster management, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and will also help to monitor farmlands for agricultural and planning services. In addition to the SACOM 1B satellite, the rocket will also be lofting the GNOMES-1 small-sat, which aims to help provide radio data for weather forecasting and climate observation.

The Falcon 9 with the SAOCOM 1A satellite sits on the SLC-6 launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base prior to its launch on October 8, 2018. Image: Ashly Cullumber, Spaceflight Insider

SAOCOM’s orbital destination makes this launch very different from anything the Space Coast has seen since the 1960’s. The majority of launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, enter what is known as a near-equatorial orbit, or an orbit that follows the earth’s equatorial plane to some degree. Equatorial launches make the Space Coast a prime spot for launching rockets, due to the proximity to the earth’s equator. As the earth rotates to the east, rockets launched from these sites towards the east can take advantage of an extra boost in natural speed as a result of the rotation, which is strongest closer to the equator. Other benefits include a location proximal to the Atlantic Ocean, which allows for rockets to overfly vast and unpopulated areas, with practically no danger of damage from falling debris. 

Polar orbits are quite different from equatorial orbits, and usually require a change of location to allow rockets to safely launch toward the north or south. These types of orbits take a spacecraft to an orbit that passes nearly directly over the north and south poles, which historically was not able to be done safely from Florida’s Space Coast. For decades, these types of launches have been done from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, where rockets have a clear path over the ocean to launch towards the South Pole. This launch attempt will be the first polar orbital launch attempt from the Space Coast since a Thor Missile launch failed in 1960, raining debris down onto Cuban soil.

The Sunday evening launch is expected to take the Falcon 9 rocket on an unusual trajectory from Florida, as it will dog-leg to the east in order to avoid populations and skirt the southeast coast of Florida, before making its way over Cuba and into orbit.  According to SpaceX and the 45th Space Wing, due to the rockets flight path and altitude, there is no danger of falling debris over Cuba, in either nominal flight, or that of a launch failure like the previous attempt in 1960. It is because of this that the U.S. Space Force and the Eastern Range have allowed the launch corridor to return with the modern technologies in use today. 

SAOCOM-1B’s unique flight path is demonstrated in this render creating using the flight prediction tool, flightclub.io. Image: Matt Haskell, SpaceFlight Insider

Once the first stage booster completes its lifting duties, the

booster will reorient itself on a trajectory aiming it to return to Cape Canaveral. The booster will then complete a series of three burns in order to bleed off the inertia gained from liftoff, sending the vehicle back toward launch site. Once the booster has reentered the earth’s upper atmosphere, the vehicle will use its grid fins to steer the booster towards its targeted landing site at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1, where it will make a landing attempt for future re-use. The booster making this flight, B1059.4, has flown three times prior, on the CRS-19, CRS-20, and Starlink 8 missions, making this its fourth flight. The company’s twin recovery vessels “Go Ms. Chief” and “Go Ms. Tree” will also be attempting to catch the two fairing halves as they each parachute back to earth.

SpaceX has identified a 10 minute window for the launch, 7:14 to 7:24 p.m. EDT (2314 – 2324 UTC), with liftoff targeted to occur at 7:19 p.m., from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 40. Launch viewers in south Florida will be treated to a rare sight, as the rocket traverses its flight path over the south coast, before making its way over Cuba. This launch forms a part of one of the busiest weeks of 2020 for the Space Coast, as part of three back-to-back launches planned over the span of 3 days, beginning with an early morning United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy flight scheduled for 2:04 a.m., August 29. The third mission preparing to fly, also by SpaceX, is the thirteenth Starlink mission. It is scheduled to fly from Launch Complex 39A on Sunday morning, at 10:12 a.m..

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Matt Haskell is a published aviation and spaceflight photographer and writer based in Merritt Island Florida. Born and raised outside Edwards Air Force Base and NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, he moved to Florida’s Space Coast and began photographing and reporting spaceflight professionally full time in 2018.

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A dazzling full 'harvest moon' is set to illuminate Vancouver skies next week – Vancouver Is Awesome

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While the weekend forecast calls for rain, Vancouver skies are expected to clear next week, which is just in time for the glorious full Harvest moon. 

Earlier this month, locals were treated to a full corn moon. Last year, September’s full moon was a full ‘harvest moon,’ which takes place in two years out of three. However, since October’s full moon falls closest to the fall equinox this year, it will carry the harvest title. 

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “this full Moon name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked the time when corn was supposed to be harvested.”

The Harvest Moon gets was given its name because farmers needed its silvery light to harvest crops. It has since inspired a rather dreamy, beautiful song by Canadian icon Neil Young, too.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac also notes that Native peoples would give distinctive names to each reoccurring full moon to mark the change of seasons. As such, many of these names arose when Native Americans first interacted with colonialists. 

The October moon will be at its fullest in Vancouver on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 2:05 p.m. 

Stargazers should opt to travel as far away from city lights as possible in order to avoid light pollution that will obscure the clarity of heavenly bodies. While this works best in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions.

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Dozens of McGill students living in student neighbourhood test positive for COVID-19 – Yahoo News Canada

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Dozens of students at McGill University are testing positive for COVID-19 according to their peers, but the university is not counting most of those cases in its official tally, because they happened off-campus.

Jacob Rothery, a student living in the so-called McGill ghetto in Montreal’s Milton Park neighbourhood next to the university, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. So did his three roommates.

Rothery says he knows of at least 20 other students who tested positive, and suspects more numbers are going to come from the popular and crowded student neighbourhood.

“There were a decent amount of students going to student bars,” he said. “And then on top of that, you don’t necessarily know who the people that you think you’re in your bubble with are seeing, so they could be seeing a bunch of other people, who are putting themselves in riskier situations.” 

Rothery says he and his friends did not violate public health guidelines, but that didn’t stop an outbreak in his group of friends.

“People may have had it, but had no symptoms. So they had no reason to get tested. And then you have gatherings that aren’t that big, maybe fifteen people or 10, but those 10 people see other people and their bubbles are a lot bigger than they think they are,” he said. 

Submitted by Jacob Rothery

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Submitted by Jacob Rothery

Thom Haghighat is another McGill student who is self-isolating, after he and his roommate tested positive for COVID-19.

He figures he caught the virus from one of the students returning to the “ghetto” from Toronto or elsewhere in Montreal.

Haghighat says he also knows of at least 25 students living in the area who tested positive, with a dozen in his immediate group of friends.

Like Rothery, Haghighat says he and his friends were limiting personal gatherings and keeping a small circle of people to interact with.

Despite this, he said, he still saw cases rise among his peers in the past week. He believes false negatives are part of the problem. 

“The first time we got tested, we tested negative. We still self-isolated, but I know a lot of people who would think they were in the clear to go see other people,” he said, noting that he knew others who also got false negatives. 

Rothery had also received a false negative test result earlier this week, before testing positive.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Only "on-campus" numbers” data-reactid=”45″>Only “on-campus” numbers

Despite these anecdotal reports, McGill University has officially recorded just six COVID-19 cases this week on campus, and says there is no evidence of community transmission on its campuses.

McGill’s main campus is downtown. The Macdonald campus, which houses agricultural and nutrition programs among others, is in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue in the West Island.

A spokesperson for the university said the number includes staff and students who were present on campus in the week preceding their positive COVID test. 

Most classes at McGill have moved online, which means far fewer people are frequenting the campus. 

Justin Hayward/CBCJustin Hayward/CBC

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Justin Hayward/CBC

Some students say the university should include the numbers of students who test positive off-campus, as well.

“It’s important for them to at least take responsibility for the things that are going on in their student body, whether or not they’re technically on campus, because I think that distinction is pretty useless,” said Rothery.

For its part, McGill says it is working with public health authorities on strict protocols to limit the spread.

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NASA astronaut plans to cast her ballot from space station – 570 News

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ATLANTA — NASA astronaut Kate Rubins told The Associated Press on Friday that she plans to cast her next vote from space – more than 200 miles above Earth.

Rubins is just outside Moscow in Star City, Russia, preparing with two cosmonauts for a mid-October launch and a six-month stay at the International Space Station.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said. “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”

Most U.S. astronauts live in Houston. Texas law allows them to vote from space using a secure electronic ballot. Mission Control forwards the ballot to the space station and relays the completed ballot back to the county clerk.

“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins said. “We consider it an honour to be able to vote from space.”

NASA astronauts have voted from space before. Rubins and Shane Kimbrough cast their votes from the International Space Station.

Rubins, the first person to sequence DNA in space, plans to work on a cardiovascular experiment and conduct research using the space station’s Cold Atom Lab.

While she’s there, she’ll celebrate the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence on the space station, and welcome the crew of the second SpaceX commercial crew mission, expected to arrive in late October.

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Follow Alex Sanz on Twitter at @AlexSanz.

Alex Sanz, The Associated Press

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