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SpaceX to launch astronaut crew in first operational mission – CANOE

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Musk, who usually attends high-profile SpaceX missions in person at Kennedy Space Center, said Thursday that he took four coronavirus tests on the same day, with two returning negative and two producing positive results.

Bridenstine, asked on Friday if Musk will be in the launch control room for liftoff on Saturday, said agency policy requires employees to quarantine and self-isolate after testing positive for the disease, “so we anticipate that that will be taking place.”

Whether Musk came into contact with the astronauts was unclear, but unlikely since the crew has been in routine quarantine for weeks prior to their flight on Saturday.

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NASA contracted SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to develop competing space capsules aimed at replacing its shuttle program that ended in 2011 and weaning off dependence on Russian rockets to send U.S. astronauts to space.

SpaceX’s final test of its capsule came in August, after the company launched and returned the first astronauts from U.S. soil on a trip to the ISS in nearly a decade. Boeing’s first crewed test mission with its Starliner capsule is planned for late next year.

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China completes lunar sample collection ahead of schedule – CANOE

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BEIJING — China’s Chang’e-5 lunar vehicle has finished collecting samples of lunar rocks and soil more than a day ahead of schedule in the first lunar sample retrieval mission since the 1970s, the country’s space agency said on Thursday.

The robotic vehicle has stored the samples and will now dock with the orbiting Chang’e-5 for the return journey to Earth.

China launched a robotic spacecraft on Nov. 24 to bring back rocks from the moon in the first bid by any country to retrieve samples since 1976.

Late on Tuesday, the Chang’e-5 spacecraft successfully deployed a pair of landing and ascending vehicles onto the moon’s surface. The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.4 pounds) of samples.

The sample collection was completed after 19 hours, the space agency said in its statement, without disclosing the total weight of the samples collected.

China had planned to collect the samples over a period of about two days, with the entire mission taking around 23 days.

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The ascending vehicle would lift off from the lunar surface with the samples, and dock with a module currently orbiting around the moon.

The samples would then be transferred to a return capsule onboard the orbiting module for delivery back to Earth.

If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union.

China made its first lunar landing in 2013.

In January 2019, the Chang’e-4 probe landed on the far side of the moon, the first space probe from any nation to do so.

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Chinese lunar probe on way back to Earth – FRANCE 24

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Issued on: 03/12/2020 – 17:54Modified: 03/12/2020 – 17:52

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Beijing (AFP)

A Chinese space probe left the surface of the Moon Thursday to return to Earth, an ambitious effort to bring back the world’s first lunar samples in four decades.

China has poured billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and eventually sending humans to the Moon.

The Chang’e-5 spacecraft, named after the mythical Chinese Moon goddess, left the Moon at 11:10 pm (1510 GMT), said state broadcaster CCTV as mission engineers who were riveted to control screens applauded at length.

A module carrying lunar rocks and soil was in orbit after activating a powerful thrust engine, the China National Space Administration said of the mission that was launched from China’s southern Hainan province.

Scientists hope the samples will help them learn about the Moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.

If the return journey is successful, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the Moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

This is the first such attempt since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976.

The spacecraft was due to collect two kilograms (4.5 pounds) of material in a previously unexplored area known as Oceanus Procellarum — or “Ocean of Storms” — a vast lava plain, according to the science journal Nature.

The samples will be returned to Earth in a capsule programmed to land in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region, according to US space agency NASA.

Under President Xi Jinping, plans for China’s “space dream”, as he calls it, have been put into overdrive.

Beijing is looking to finally catch up with the US and Russia after years of belatedly matching their space milestones.

China launched its first satellite in 1970, while human spaceflight took decades longer — with Yang Liwei becoming China’s first “taikonaut” in 2003.

A Chinese lunar rover landed on the far side of the Moon in January 2019 in a global first that boosted Beijing’s aspirations to become a space superpower.

The latest probe is among a slew of ambitious targets, which include creating a powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a lunar base, and a permanently crewed space station.

China’s taikonauts and scientists have also talked up crewed missions to Mars.

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Midday fireball, boom thrill gazers from Ontario to Virginia – airdrietoday.com

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A noontime boom that was heard and felt from southern Ontario to Virginia was likely caused by a disintegrating meteor, according to an organization in western New York that keeps track of such phenomena.

Witnesses across the area reported hearing the boom or seeing a fireball in the sky shortly after noon on Wednesday, said Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society in Geneseo. By 5 p.m., the organization had recorded 90 reports of the fireball seen in Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Police agencies and fire departments around central New York received 911 calls reporting a boom that shook windows, but clouds prevented sightings in much of the area. Since most reports of the boom were around Syracuse, that’s likely where the meteor blew to bits, Lunsford said.

On the society’s website, an observer in western New York reported the fireball was bright white with shades of yellow. An observer in Hagerstown, Maryland reported a fireball with red and orange sparks, smoke and a persistent train. A report from Welland, Ontario, described a long, bright green train.

“Sunny day so it looked like a gold metallic flash against the blue sky,” said a report from Winchester, Virginia.

“Astonishing, amazing, still get goosebumps talking about it,” wrote an observer in Port Dover, Ontario. “The train was flaming white, wide and long, no smoke.”

“We tend to notice fireballs more at night because they stand out better, but it’s not terribly unusual for very bright ones to be noticed during the day. It happens several times a year over populated areas,” said Margaret Campbell-Brown, a member of the Meteor Physics Group at Western University in London, Ontario.

All fireballs, which are bright meteors, produce sound waves, sometimes detectable only by sensitive microphones, Campbell-Brown said by email. A large one may produce a thunderlike sonic boom with possible extra bangs from fragmentation, she said.

The Associated Press

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