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SpaceX, NASA Crew-1 mission docks with the ISS for six-month stay – CNET



The Crew Dragon Resilience on approach to the International Space Station, backed by the Earth.


At exactly 4:27 p.m. PT on Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster burst to life at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, its engines lighting up the Florida coast. The picture-perfect launch of the gumdrop-shaped Crew Dragon spacecraft, nicknamed Resilience, marked a historic moment in US spaceflight

Not since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 has NASA sent humans to orbit from American soil in an operational mission. The launch for this particular mission has been delayed, pushed back and postponed multiple times — the original timeline included a launch date of November 2016. Four years and a few technical stumbles later, Resilience has now docked with the International Space Station.

“By working together through these difficult times, you’ve inspired the nation, the world, and in no small part, the name of this incredible vehicle, Resilience,” Michael Hopkins, spacecraft commander of Crew-1, said prior to launch.  

The docking was scheduled to take place at 8 p.m. PT and was essentially right on time. However, shadows obscured the crew’s view of the space station, and the astronauts decided to make a short hold 20 meters from the docking adapter. After waiting for “sunset” and the shadows to move away, Resilience made contact with the ISS and officially performed a “soft capture” at 8:01 p.m PT and docked at approximately 8:15 p.m. PT. 

“This is a new era of operational flights to the International Space Station from the Florida coast,” said Hopkins upon docking. 

The Crew Dragon carried an international assembly of astronauts: HopkinsVictor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA, plus Soichi Noguchi of Japanese space agency, JAXA. After a handful of safety checks and a welcoming ceremony in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the team will get to work on science experiments and maintenance. They are expected to spend the next six months on the station. The Dragon is capable of autonomous and the Dragon is rated to remain at the station for 210 days, as per NASA requirements.   

The launch was celebrated by NASA and SpaceX representatives at a post-launch conference Sunday. “This is a great day for the United States of America and a great day for Japan,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “The big milestone here is that we are now moving away from development and tests and into operational flights.” 

“I am looking forward to enjoy the new era and going together for the future,” said Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president at JAXA. 

Less than 10 minutes after launch, the first stage Falcon 9 booster landed safely on the Just Read The Instructions droneship stationed in the Atlantic. It was the first time the reusable rocket was utilized in a mission and the plan is for it to be reused on the next operational flight of the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, Crew-2. 

The launch of Crew-2 is slated to occur in March 2021 and will again carry four astronauts. It will reuse the Crew Dragon Endeavour, which was first used in the SpaceX Demo-2 mission in May.


Through the smoke, the first stage of the Falcon 9 on the droneship in the Atlantic.


Around 12 minutes later, Resilience separated from the second stage and headed on its way.

It’s not the first time a Falcon 9 rocket has delivered a Crew Dragon spacecraft to space. In May, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were the first two humans to be carried to orbit via SpaceX’s workhorse rocket. But that was a test mission, the final box to be ticked before operations officially begin for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. 

Crew-1 signals the return of operational flights to US soil and the first flight in the CCP. Until recently, NASA was purchasing flights on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Flying SpaceX, NASA will save around $25 million per seat. 

NASA has also contracted Boeing to deliver astronauts to the ISS, but the company’s crewed spacecraft, Starliner, ran into technical issues during its first uncrewed demonstration launch.

You can watch the replay of the launch below.

Updated Nov. 17: Added docking success, changed headline

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Chinese spacecraft has fresh moon rock samples to return to Earth –



China said Thursday its latest lunar probe has finished taking samples of the moon’s surface and sealed them within the spacecraft for return to Earth, the first time such a mission has been attempted by any country in more than 40 years.

The Chang’e 5, the third Chinese probe to land on the moon, is the latest in a series of increasingly ambitious missions for Beijing’s space program, which also has a probe en route to Mars carrying a robot rover.

The Chang’e 5 touched down Tuesday on the Sea of Storms on the moon’s near side, on a mission to return lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since 1976.

The probe “has completed sampling on the moon, and the samples have been sealed within the spacecraft,” the China National Space Administration said in a statement.

This image of the moon’s surface was taken by a panoramic camera aboard the lander-ascender combination of the Chang’e 5 spacecraft Wednesday. (China National Space Administration/Xinhua via AP)

Plans call for the upper stage of the probe known as the ascender to be launched back into lunar orbit to transfer the samples to a capsule for return to Earth. The timing of its return was not immediately clear and the lander can last up to one moon day, or 14 Earth days, before falling temperatures would make it inoperable.

Chang’e is equipped to both scoop samples from the surface and drill two metres to retrieve materials that could provide clues into the history of the moon, Earth other planets and space features.

WATCH | An animation shows how Chang’e 5 was to land on the moon and collect samples:

China says the lander-ascender of its Chang’e-5 probe separated from the orbiter-returner and landed on the moon to collect samples, as this animated video shows. 1:03

While retrieving samples is its main task, the lander is also equipped to extensively photograph the area surrounding its landing site, map conditions below the surface with ground-penetrating radar and analyze the lunar soil for minerals and water content.

Chang’e 5’s return module is supposed to touch down around the middle of December on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, where China’s crewed Shenzhou spacecraft have made their returns since China first put a person in space in 2003, becoming only the third country do so after Russia and the United States.

Chang’e 5 has revived talk of China one day sending a crewed mission to the moon and possibly building a scientific base there, although no timeline has been proposed for such projects.

China also launched Its first temporary orbiting laboratory in 2011 and a second in 2016. Plans call for a permanent space station after 2022, possibly to be serviced by a reusable space plane.

While China is boosting co-operation with the European Space Agency and others, interactions with NASA are severely limited by concerns over the secretive nature and close military links of the Chinese program.

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NASA buying Moon dust for $1 – FRANCE 24



Issued on: 03/12/2020 – 22:26


Washington (AFP)

The US space agency NASA awarded contracts to four companies on Thursday to collect lunar samples for $1 to $15,000, rock-bottom prices that are intended to set a precedent for future exploitation of space resources by the private sector.

“I think it’s kind of amazing that we can buy lunar regolith from four companies for a total of $25,001,” said Phil McAlister, director of NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Division.

The contracts are with Lunar Outpost of Golden, Colorado for $1; ispace Japan of Tokyo for $5,000; ispace Europe of Luxembourg for $5,000; and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California for $15,000.

The companies plan to carry out the collection during already scheduled unmanned missions to the Moon in 2022 and 2023.

The firms are to collect a small amount of lunar soil known as regolith from the Moon and to provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material.

Ownership of the lunar soil will then be transferred to NASA and it will become the “sole property of NASA for the agency’s use under the Artemis program.”

Under the Artemis program, NASA plans to land a man and a woman on the Moon by 2024 and lay the groundwork for sustainable exploration and an eventual mission to Mars.

“The precedent is a very important part of what we’re doing today,” said Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations.

“We think it’s very important to establish the precedent that the private sector entities can extract, can take these resources but NASA can purchase and utilize them to fuel not only NASA’s activities, but a whole new dynamic era of public and private development and exploration on the Moon,” Gold said.

“We must learn to generate our own water, air and even fuel,” he said. “Living off the land will enable ambitious exploration activities that will result in awe inspiring science and unprecedented discoveries.”

Any lessons learned on the Moon would be crucial to an eventual mission to Mars.

“Human mission to Mars will be even more demanding and challenging than our lunar operations, which is why it’s so critical to learn from our experiences on the Moon and apply those lessons to Mars,” Gold said.

“We want to demonstrate explicitly that you can extract, you can utilize resources, and that we will be conducting those activities in full compliance with the Outer Space Treaty,” he said. “That’s the precedent that’s important. It’s important for America to lead, not just in technology, but in policy.”

The United States is seeking to establish a precedent because there is currently no international consensus on property rights in space and China and Russia have not reached an understanding with the United States on the subject.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is vague but it deems outer space to be “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

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Possible meteor sighting over Norfolk – The Sudbury Star



Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

File Photo / Getty Images

Experts believe that a large, explosive sound and fireball reported over Ontario and New York state Wednesday afternoon was likely caused by a meteor. 

Denise Eighteen, a Port Dover resident, says she was driving towards Dover on Radical Road when she saw the light in the sky.  

I saw this huge fireball coming out of the sky, it was massive,” she said in a phone interview on Thursday. It must have been going towards the lake because the tail was growing, and it was flaming.”  

People in other areas, including Mississauga and Hamilton, also reported seeing the fireball. In Onondaga County, N.Y., there were reports of a large explosive sound being heard from above, reported. 

Eighteen said her husband, who was also in the vehicle with her, just caught the end of it and thought it might have been a blade flying off of a wind turbine.  

It was the most beautiful thing Ive seen in my life, it was just breathtaking,” she said. It was some sort of cool event in my life, it was special. I need to keep it in my minds eye for as long as I can. 

The Eighteen posted about the sighting in a Facebook group and received several messages from others saying they also spotted it around the county.  

York University physics and astronomy professor Paul Delaney told 680 News the fireball was likely a meteor. 

Delaney said the meteor would likely have to be fairly large in order to be seen in the sky midday. As a meteor enters the Earths atmosphere, it heats up, causing the air around it to glow. 

Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society told the large boom heard was likely caused by a sonic boom from the meteor. A sonic boom occurs when the meteor flies through the atmosphere, said Lunsford. 

Lunsford said its uncommon to see a meteor in broad daylight, stating most rocks burn up while still high in the atmosphere. 

This must be a big one,” he said. It has to be a pretty large size chunk of rock to survive. 

Delaney told 680 News theres no risk of the meteorite causing a fire on the ground because its cooled off by the time it lands. 

– With files from Ashley Taylor 

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