WASHINGTON — SpaceX launched another set of Starlink satellites Oct. 24, marking the 100th time the company has placed payloads into orbit.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 11:31 a.m. Eastern. The rocket’s upper stage deployed the payload of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit 63 minutes after liftoff. The first stage, making its third flight, landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.
This was the 100th successful launch in the company’s history. That total includes 95 Falcon 9, three Falcon Heavy and two Falcon 1 launches. The company also suffered three Falcon 1 launch failures and one Falcon 9 launch failure; another Falcon 9 was destroyed in 2016 during preparations for a static-fire test.
The launch was the third Starlink mission in less than two weeks, after Falcon 9 launches Oct. 6 and Oct. 18 that each carried 60 Starlink satellites into orbit. The company has now launched 895 Starlink satellites, 55 of which have reentered either because of passive orbital decay or by being actively deorbited.
SpaceX has boasted in filings with the Federal Communications Commission of the high reliability of the Starlink satellites. That included an Oct. 15 filing about an ex parte meeting between SpaceX and FCC staff where the company noted “the successful launch and operation of nearly 300 additional satellites without a failure” since an earlier report filed with the FCC.
That streak, though, may have been broken on the previous launch. Satellite observers noted that one of the satellites on the Oct. 18 launch, identified as Starlink-1819, was not raising its orbit like the other 59. Tracking data showed that satellite’s orbit was instead decaying, suggesting it had malfunctioned.
Starlink 1819 appears to be in trouble. Kelso’s SupTLEs (magenta) derived from SpaceX data stopped on Oct 20; 18SPCS TLEs (green) started for it later the same day and show continued decay. All other sats from the launch (red) are raising orbit pic.twitter.com/No1Kbr3Ke1
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) October 21, 2020
SpaceX and its competitors have debated the reliability of Starlink satellites in a series of FCC filings in recent weeks. Viasat has argued that the failure rate of Starlink satellites is far higher than what SpaceX has promised, although the company made that argument in part on the apparent deliberate deorbiting of the original 60 “v0.9” Starlink satellites launched in May 2019.
The recent surge in Starlink launches is taking place as two other Falcon 9 missions remain on hold. The last-second scrub of a Falcon 9 launch of a GPS 3 satellite Oct. 2 has yet to be rescheduled, and the investigation into the gas generator problem that caused the scrub led NASA to postpone the Falcon 9 launch of the Crew-1 commercial crew mission, which had been scheduled for Oct. 31.
The Crew-1 launch remains on hold. In a series of tweets Oct. 21, Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said investigators were making “good progress” on understanding the engine issue, but that they were not ready to report the cause of the problem.
She did note that SpaceX will replace one Merlin engine on both the booster that will be used for the Crew-1 mission and the booster for the launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ocean science satellite, scheduled for Nov. 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich launch remains on schedule for that launch even with the engine swap, she said.
The earliest Crew-1 would launch is mid-November, Lueders said. “We will want a few days between Sentinel-6 and Crew-1 to complete data reviews and check performance. Most importantly, we will fly all our missions when we are ready.”
Johnny Fresco closed after employee tests positive – KitchenerToday.com
A staff member at Johnny Fresco’s has tested positive for COVID-19, leading the restaurant to temporarily close its doors.
According to their Facebook post, the Waterloo restaurant was closed as of Tuesday for the safety of their customers and staff.
The affected employee was last in the restaurant during the lunch shift on Friday.
They say they will be following the guidance of Public Health, and thank the community for their support throughout the years and during this difficult time under the pandemic.
They will post an update to Facebook and Instagram once they feel its safe to reopen.
Johnny Fresco To our Friends and Customers, We are sad to announce that Johnny Fresco will be temporarily closed…
Calgary man captures photo of SpaceX Dragon docked at the International Space Station – Calgary Herald
When Shafqat Zaman takes photos of the International Space Station (ISS) from Calgary, it may help that he’s about 1 kilometre closer than photographers shooting from sea level.
However, the ISS is still about 399 kilometres away, and moving at a speed of about 7.66 kilometres per second relative to the ground. However you measure it, snapping a shot of the orbiting laboratory is an incredible feat.
Zaman captured this shot on Wednesday evening. It features a clear view of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which lifted off on Nov. 15 and docked with the station about 27 hours later. It’s the white cone-shaped object on the left side, near the middle.
This wasn’t his first snapshot of the most expensive object ever constructed. Zaman captured several images of the ISS showing different angles as it passed overhead in late September.
He also captured this stunning transit of the ISS in front of the sun.
Zaman said he uses an 8″ Meade SCT telescope with a Canon M5 camera.
Landmark wheat genome discovery could shore up global food security – New Food
Project leader, Curtis Pozniak, compares the findings to locating a missing piece of your favourite puzzle, and hopes this will transform the way wheat is grown globally.
Scientists believe the genome sequencing will lead to higher wheat yields around the world.
An international team led by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has sequenced the genomes for 15 wheat varieties representing breeding programmes around the world.
This landmark discovery will enable scientists and breeders to identify influential genes for improved yield, pest resistance and other important crop traits much more quickly.
The research results, published in Nature, provide what the research team has called the most comprehensive atlas of wheat genome sequences ever reported. The 10+ Genome Project collaboration involved more than 95 scientists from universities and institutes across Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Israel, Australia and the US.
“It’s like finding the missing pieces for your favourite puzzle that you have been working on for decades,” said project leader Curtis Pozniak, wheat breeder and director of the USask Crop Development Centre (CDC). “By having many complete gene assemblies available, we can now help solve the huge puzzle that is the massive wheat pan-genome and usher in a new era for wheat discovery and breeding.”
Scientific groups across the global wheat community are expected to use the new resource to identify genes linked to in-demand traits, such as pest and diseases resistance, which will accelerate breeding efficiency.
“This resource enables us to more precisely control breeding to increase the rate of wheat improvement for the benefit of farmers and consumers, and meet future food demands,” Pozniak added.
As one of the world’s most cultivated cereal crops, wheat plays an important role in global food security, providing about 20 percent of human caloric intake globally. The university says it’s estimated that wheat production must increase by more than 50 percent by 2050 to meet an increasing global demand – knowing which wheat genomes ‘best perform’ could be crucial in delivering this target.
The researchers explain that they were able to track the unique DNA signatures of genetic material incorporated into modern cultivars from several of wheat’s undomesticated relatives by breeders over the last century.1
“These wheat relatives have been used by breeders to improve disease resistance and stress resistance of wheat,” said Pozniak. “One of these relatives contributed a DNA segment to modern wheat that contains disease-resistant genes and provides protection against a number of fungal diseases. Our collaborators from Kansas State University and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, showed that this segment can improve yields by as much as 10 percent. Since breeding is a continual improvement process, we can continue to cross plants to select for this valuable trait.”
Pozniak’s team, in collaboration with scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and National Research Council of Canada, also used the genome sequences to isolate an insect-resistant gene (Sm1). This gene enables wheat plants to withstand the orange wheat blossom midge, a pest which can cause more than $60 million in annual losses to Western Canadian producers.1
“Understanding a causal gene like this is a game-changer for breeding because you can select for pest resistance more efficiently by using a simple DNA test than by manual field testing,” Pozniak concluded.
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