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SpaceX's in-flight rocket engine failure threatens NASA astronaut launch debut – Teslarati

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An in-flight rocket engine failure during SpaceX’s March 18th Starlink launch could pose a threat to the company’s imminent NASA astronaut launch debut according to a statement provided by the space agency yesterday.

SpaceX and NASA are currently working around the clock to prepare a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft for the company’s inaugural astronaut launch, a flight known as Demonstration Mission 2 (Demo-2/DM-2). All launch vehicle and spacecraft hardware – including booster B1058, an expendable upper stage, a spacecraft trunk, and the Crew Dragon capsule itself – are already believed to be at SpaceX’s Florida launch and processing facilities.

Prior to March 18th, the biggest gating items were believed to be a few final parachute tests and a whole lot of paperwork and reviews, as well as some important but less showstopping astronaut training. Unfortunately, SpaceX has suffered two unforeseen issues of varying severity in the last few days, both of which are now all but guaranteed to impact Crew Dragon’s astronaut launch debut schedule.

“According to the CCtCap contracts, SpaceX is required to make available to NASA all data and resulting reports. SpaceX, with NASA’s concurrence, would need to implement any corrective actions found during the investigation related to its commercial crew work prior to its flight test with astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are holding the current mid-to-late May launch timeframe, and would adjust the date based on review of the data, if appropriate.”

NASA — March 25th, 2020

B1048 lifted off for the fifth and final time on March 18th, 2020. (Richard Angle)

On March 18th, less than three minutes after liftoff and shortly before stage separation was scheduled, Falcon 9 booster B1048 – on its historic fifth launch attempt – suffered an engine failure visible on SpaceX’s official webcast. By all appearances, Falcon 9’s autonomous flight computer accounted for the engine’s failure, shutdown, and the resultant loss of thrust by burning B1048’s eight remaining engines for several seconds longer than planned.

Falcon 9 B1048 is pictured during launch, one frame (~0.05s) before it suffered an engine failure. (SpaceX)
The first frame of the off-nominal event. The extremely unusual flare is very likely one of Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines exploding during flight. (SpaceX)

While that extra few seconds of burn time likely ensured that the rocket’s upper stage was able to make it to the correct orbit after stage separation, roughly five minutes after B1048’s extremely rapid engine failure, contact was lost. For the first time ever, there were no landing burn-related call-outs from SpaceX launch operators, the first sign that something was seriously wrong. A few minutes later, SpaceX’s webcast hosts acknowledged that the booster had been lost, perhaps lacking the propellant it needed to attempt a landing.

For reference, Merlin 1D engines likely consume some ~270 kg (600 lb) of fuel each second. Falcon 9’s landing propellant reserves are believed to be on the order of 50+ metric tons (110,000 lb). Excluding the failed engine, eight Merlin 1Ds burning at full thrust for an additional 5 seconds would consume 20% of the propellant needed for landing; 10 seconds and it would use 40%.

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The anomaly was Merlin 1D engine’s first in-flight failure ever. The 2012 failure of one of an original Falcon 9 V1.0’s rocket’s nine Merlin 1C engines is SpaceX’s only other in-flight failure.

It’s likely that B1048’s engine failure was primarily related to the fact that the booster was SpaceX’s pathfinder for a fifth-flight reusability milestone, making it the most reused rocket booster ever launched. NASA currently requires all of its Crew Dragon missions to launch on new Falcon 9 rockets, hopefully mitigating direct corollaries between the Starlink L6 anomaly and astronaut launches. Regardless, the space agency says that the company will now have to complete its internal failure review and implement necessary hardware, software, or rule changes before it’s allowed to launch NASA astronauts.

In a major twist, NASA has effectively confirmed that SpaceX will become the first private company in history to launch astronauts into orbit. (SpaceX)
Technicians prepare SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo-2 spacecraft for its historic launch debut in February 2020. (SpaceX)

That investigation could take a matter of weeks, possibly even less, but it’s entirely possible that it could take months – let alone fixing the problems that allowed the in-flight Merlin 1D engine failure to happen in the first place. Ultimately, it will almost certainly make even the first flights of Falcon 9 and Heavy rocket boosters safer, but it could substantially delay SpaceX’s Demo-2 astronaut launch debut. Still targeted no earlier than (NET) mid-to-late May 2020, it’s safe to say that it’s reasonable to expect that schedule to slip over the next 4-6 weeks. Stay tuned for updates.

SpaceX’s in-flight rocket engine failure threatens NASA astronaut launch debut




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Rangers' Panarin, others donate N95 masks to hospitals – National Post

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New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin provided quite the assist by aiding frontline health care workers in the battle against the coronavirus.

Panarin purchased and arranged the delivery of 1,500 N95 masks to Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

“We are so grateful for Artemi Panarin’s incredibly generous gift of N95 masks to HSS,” said Dr. Bryan Kelly, the surgeon-in-chief at Hospital for Special Surgery, per NHL.com.

“Along with his teammates, Panarin also created a video thanking HSS for our commitment to helping NYC during this pandemic. On behalf of every clinical staff member at HSS, we would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Panarin for his generosity during this time. Additionally, we’d like to thank Jim Ramsay, head athletic trainer for the Rangers, for his help coordinating their efforts.”

The masks were delivered on Friday.

Panarin is not alone, as Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov also purchased and arranged delivery of the N95 masks to hospitals in their respective markets.

Per NHL.com, Bobrovsky reportedly donated thousands of masks to multiple hospitals in the area of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Varlamov joined his teammates in donating 3,000 masks to Northwell Health system on Long Island.

“A heartfelt thanks to the @NYIslanders for supporting our Northwell Health #healthcareheroes with your delivery of N95 masks this week!” Northwell Health Foundation tweeted from the @GiveToNorthwell account.

N95 masks are in demand among medical providers because they help prevent a person from inhaling small, airborne infectious particles — a primary means of transmitting the coronavirus.

As of Sunday morning, more than 1.2 million people around the world had been diagnosed with the disease, with more than 67,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.

–Field Level Media

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Earth's crust is shaking less as people stay home – MENAFN.COM

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(MENAFN – IANS)

London, April 5 (IANS) The COVID-19 lockdowns globally have not only made air breathable or rivers clean but have also resulted in the way our Earth moves, as researchers now report a drop in seismic noise (the hum of vibrations in the planets crust) because transport networks, real estate and other human activities have been shut down.

According an article in the journal Nature, efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus mean that the planet itself is moving a little less, which could “allow detectors to spot smaller earthquakes and boost efforts to monitor volcanic activity and other seismic events”.

Vibrations caused by moving vehicles and industrial machinery produce background noise, which reduces seismologists’ ability to detect other signals occurring at the same frequency.

“A noise reduction of this magnitude is usually only experienced briefly around Christmas,” said Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist with the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels which has observed the drop in seismic noise.

Data from a seismometer at the observatory show that measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Brussels caused human-induced seismic noise to fall by about one-third.

In Belgium, scientists report at least a 30 per cent reduction in that amount of ambient human noise since lockdown began there.

The current drop has boosted the sensitivity of the observatory’s equipment, improving its ability to detect waves in the same high frequency range as the noise, said the Nature article.

However, not all seismic monitoring stations will see an effect as pronounced as the one observed in Brussels.

According to Emily Wolin, a geologist at the US Geological Survey in Albuquerque, New Mexico, many stations are purposefully located in remote areas to avoid human noise.

“These should see a smaller decrease, or no change at all, in the level of high-frequency noise they record,” she was quoted as saying.

The fall in noise could also benefit seismologists who use naturally occurring background vibrations, such as those from crashing ocean waves, to probe Earth’s crust.

A fall in human-induced noise could boost the sensitivity of detectors to natural waves at similar frequencies

“There’s a big chance indeed it could lead to better measurements,” said Lecocq.

The reduction in seismic activity, like reduction in air pollution, also show that people are adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“From the seismological point of view, we can motivate people to say, ‘OK look, people. You feel like you’re alone at home, but we can tell you that everyone is home. Everyone is doing the same. Everyone is respecting the rules,'” Lecocq told CNN.

–IANS

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MENAFN0504202002310000ID1099973308

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Earth's crust is shaking less as people stay home – International Business Times, Singapore Edition

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The COVID-19 lockdowns globally have not only made air breathable or rivers clean but have also resulted in the way our Earth moves, as researchers now report a drop in seismic noise (the hum of vibrations in the planets crust) because transport networks, real estate and other human activities have been shut down.

According an article in the journal Nature, efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus mean that the planet itself is moving a little less, which could “allow detectors to spot smaller earthquakes and boost efforts to monitor volcanic activity and other seismic events”.

Vibrations caused by moving vehicles and industrial machinery produce background noise, which reduces seismologists’ ability to detect other signals occurring at the same frequency.

“A noise reduction of this magnitude is usually only experienced briefly around Christmas,” said Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist with the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels which has observed the drop in seismic noise.

Image for Representational purpose only

Data from seismometer

Data from a seismometer at the observatory show that measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Brussels caused human-induced seismic noise to fall by about one-third.

In Belgium, scientists report at least a 30 per cent reduction in that amount of ambient human noise since lockdown began there.

The current drop has boosted the sensitivity of the observatory’s equipment, improving its ability to detect waves in the same high frequency range as the noise, said the Nature article.

However, not all seismic monitoring stations will see an effect as pronounced as the one observed in Brussels.

According to Emily Wolin, a geologist at the US Geological Survey in Albuquerque, New Mexico, many stations are purposefully located in remote areas to avoid human noise.

“These should see a smaller decrease, or no change at all, in the level of high-frequency noise they record,” she was quoted as saying.

The fall in noise could also benefit seismologists who use naturally occurring background vibrations, such as those from crashing ocean waves, to probe Earth’s crust.

A fall in human-induced noise could boost the sensitivity of detectors to natural waves at similar frequencies

“There’s a big chance indeed it could lead to better measurements,” said Lecocq.

The reduction in seismic activity, like reduction in air pollution, also show that people are adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“From the seismological point of view, we can motivate people to say, ‘OK look, people. You feel like you’re alone at home, but we can tell you that everyone is home. Everyone is doing the same. Everyone is respecting the rules,'” Lecocq told CNN.

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