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SpaceX's Starship SN9 prototype fires its engines for the 1st time – Space.com

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SpaceX has fired up its newest Starship prototype for the first time.

The SN9 vehicle’s three engines lit up for about one second today (Jan. 6) at 5:07 p.m. EST (2200 GMT) during a static-fire test at SpaceX’s South Texas facilities, near the Gulf Coast village of Boca Chica.

Static fires, in which rocket engines blaze while a vehicle remains anchored to the ground, are a routine preflight checkout. And SN9 (“Serial No. 9”) will indeed get off the ground soon, if all goes according to plan: SpaceX is prepping the vehicle for a test flight that’s expected to be similar to the epic one made last month by its predecessor.

Video: Watch SpaceX test-fire its Starship SN9’s engines
Starship and Super Heavy:
SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing vehicles in images

SpaceX’s SN9 Starship prototype conducts its first static-fire test, on Jan. 6, 2021, in this footage captured by SPadre.com (Image credit: SPadre.com)

On Dec. 9, SN8 — which was powered by three of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engines, as SN9 is —  performed the Starship program’s first-ever high-altitude hop, soaring about 7.8 miles (12.5 kilometers) into the South Texas skies. (Three previous single-engine prototypes have flown as well, but they all reached a maximum altitude of about 500 feet, or 150 meters.)

SN8 didn’t stick its landing and exploded in a dramatic fireball. But the vehicle hit pretty much every other milestone that SpaceX had laid out, leading company founder and CEO Elon Musk to declare the flight a big success.

SpaceX is developing Starship to take people and payloads to the moon, Mars and other distant destinations — and, eventually, to take over all of the company’s spaceflight needs. The system consists of two elements: a 165-foot-tall (50 m) spacecraft called Starship and a giant first-stage booster known as Super Heavy.

Both Starship and Super Heavy will be fully and rapidly reusable, Musk has said. Super Heavy will come back down to Earth for vertical landings after getting Starship aloft, as the first stages of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets already do. But Starship’s touchdowns will be even more precise than those of the Falcons, ideally occurring directly on the launch stand to improve turnaround time, Musk announced recently.

The Starship spacecraft, meanwhile, will make many roundtrips between Earth and Mars, or whatever other destination has been targeted. The vehicle just needs the roughly 30-engine Super Heavy to get off our relatively bulky planet; the final, six-engine Starship will be powerful enough to launch itself off the surfaces of the moon and Mars, Musk has said.

Today’s static fire was captured on video by dedicated Starship watchers like the tourism site Spadre.com, which webcasts live Starship views on YouTube. It may not be the only such test performed by SN9 before it takes flight. For example, SN8 conducted four static fires over the course of more than a month ahead of its high-altitude hop.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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NASA declares Mars digger dead after two years – Mashable

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Image: IPGP/Nicolas Sarter/nasa

NASA announced on Thursday that a “mole” on Mars has ended its mission after landing on the Red Planet nearly two years ago.

The mole — also called a digger, drill, and probe — was built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and deployed by NASA’s InSight lander. Its purpose was to drill 16 feet into Martian soil to take its temperature and…well, it never managed to do that. 

The digger had drilled down merely 14 inches before getting stuck in the first month of its mission. Months later in Oct. 2019, NASA engineers made a plan to put the digger back on track by using a robotic scoop to help refill the 14 inches and support the digger in its next attempt at burrowing down 16 feet. The team at NASA was confident that the probe was finally ready to go, but they were wrong.

NASA’s next idea, in Feb. 2020, was to direct the InSight lander to push on the probe with its robotic arm.

That didn’t work, either. After attempting to use the scoop on InSight’s robotic arm once again on Jan. 9, 2021, the probe made 500 additional hammer strokes with no progress. At that point, the team declared the probe dead. 

“We’ve given it everything we’ve got, but Mars and our heroic mole remain incompatible,” said DLR’s Tilman Spohn in NASA’s announcement. 

There is good news, however. Spohn said that the work on this probe will benefit future missions, as they’ve learned a lot about the surface of Mars. 

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA’s Washington headquarters, said he was proud of the mission’s team — and that their work was purposeful. “This is why we take risks at NASA — we have to push the limits of technology to learn what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

“In that sense, we’ve been successful: We’ve learned a lot that will benefit future missions to Mars and elsewhere,” Zurbuchen continued, “and we thank our German partners from DLR for providing this instrument and for their collaboration.”

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NASA cuts short ground test of its giant moon rocket – Al Jazeera English

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The test is a vital step in NASA’s Artemis programme to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024.

NASA ignited all four engines of a deep space exploration rocket – the Space Launch System (SLS) – for the first time on Saturday, but the “hot fire” test ended much earlier than expected.

Mounted in a test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the SLS’s 212-foot (65-metre) tall core stage roared to life at 4:27pm local time (22:27 GMT) for just more than a minute – well short of the roughly four minutes engineers needed to stay on track for the mega rocket’s first launch in November this year.

During the live broadcast of the test, NASA did not explain the reason for the early shutdown, but Wayne Hale, a former manager of NASA’s space shuttle programme, suggested a “major component failure”.

The fiery show, the last leg of NASA’s nearly year-long “Green Run” test campaign, was a vital step for the space agency and its top SLS contractor, Boeing, before the rocket’s debut launch in November.

The success of that unmanned mission, called “Artemis 1”, will set the stage for the first landing on the Moon by humans since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. US President Donald Trump has pushed for that trip – which will also see the first woman on the Moon – to happen by 2024.

It was unclear whether Boeing and NASA would have to repeat Saturday’s test, a prospect that could push the debut launch into 2022.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, speaking at a news conference after the test, said the agency “got lots of data that we’re going to be able to sort through” to determine if a do-over is needed.

NASA’s SLS program manager John Honeycutt cautioned the data review from the test is continuing and told reporters the turnaround time for another hot fire test could be roughly one month.

The expendable super heavy-lift SLS is three years behind schedule and nearly $3bn over budget.

Critics have long argued for NASA to retire the rocket’s shuttle-era core technologies, which have launch costs of $1bn or more per mission, in favour of newer commercial alternatives that promise lower costs.

By comparison, it costs as little as $90m to fly the massive, but less powerful, Falcon Heavy rocket designed and manufactured by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and some $350m per launch for United Launch Alliance’s legacy Delta IV Heavy.

While newer, more reusable rockets from both companies – SpaceX’s Starship and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan – promise heavier lift capacity than the Falcon Heavy or Delta IV Heavy, potentially at a lower cost, SLS backers have argued it would take two or more launches on those rockets to launch what the SLS could carry in a single mission.

Reuters reported in October that President-elect Joe Biden’s space advisers aimed to delay Trump’s 2024 goal, casting fresh doubts on the long-term fate of SLS just as SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin scramble to bring rival new heavy-lift capacity to market.

NASA and Boeing engineers have stayed on a 10-month schedule for the Green Run “despite having significant adversity this year,” Boeing’s SLS manager John Shannon told reporters this week, citing five tropical storms and a hurricane that hit Stennis, as well as a three-month closure after some engineers tested positive for the coronavirus in March.

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Watch NASA's historic Moon mission rocket test at 5PM ET – Yahoo Canada Shine On

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Eat This, Not That!

Here’s How to Get Your COVID Vaccine in Your State

The coronavirus vaccine is now available, the “light at the end of the tunnel” of this deadly pandemic. But confusion about who is eligible, how to get yours, and where to go seems to be changing every day. “The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure so far,” President-elect Joe Biden said Friday. “The honest truth is this, things will get worse before they get better. And the policy changes we are going to be making, they’re going to take time to show up in the COVID statistics.” In the following story, you’ll find links to every state’s vaccination rollouts, so you can find the latest information. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus. 1 Alabama If you live in Alabama, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 2 Alaska If you currently live in Alaska, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 3 Arizona If you reside in Arizona, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 4 Arkansas If you live in Arkansas, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 5 California If you reside in California, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 6 Colorado If you currently live in Colorado, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 7 Connecticut If you live in Connecticut, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 8 Delaware If you live in Delaware, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 9 Florida If you currently reside in Florida, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 10 Georgia If you’re located in Georgia, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 11 Hawaii If you live in Hawaii, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 12 Idaho If you’re located in Idaho, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 13 Illinois If you reside in Illinois, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 14 Indiana If you live in Indiana, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 15 Iowa If you take up residence Iowa, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 16 Kansas If you live in Kansas, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 17 Kentucky If you live in Kentucky, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 18 Louisiana If you take up residence in Louisiana, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 19 Maine If you live in Maine, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 20 Maryland If you’re located in Maryland, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 21 Massachusetts If you live in Massachusetts, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 22 Michigan If you’re located in Michigan, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 23 Minnesota If you reside in Minnesota, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 24 Mississippi If you live in Mississippi, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 25 Missouri If you take up residence in Missouri, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 26 Montana If you live in Montana, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 27 Nebraska If you reside in Nebraska, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 28 Nevada If you live in Nevada, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 29 New Hampshire If you live in New Hampshire, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 30 New Jersey If you live in New Jersey, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors 31 New Mexico If you reside in New Mexico, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 32 New York If you live in New York, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 33 North Carolina If you live in North Carolina, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 34 North Dakota If you live in North Dakota, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 35 Ohio If you live in Ohio, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 36 Oklahoma If you live in Oklahoma, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 37 Oregon If you’re located in Oregon, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 38 Pennsylvania If you live in Pennsylvania, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 39 Rhode Island If you’re located in Rhode Island, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 40 South Carolina If you live in South Carolina, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We’d Be Back to “Normal” 41 South Dakota If you take up residence in South Dakota, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 42 Tennessee If you live in Tennessee, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 43 Texas If you live in Texas, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 44 Utah If you live in Utah, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 45 Vermont If you take up residence in Vermont, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 46 Virginia If you reside in Virginia, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 47 Washington If you live in Washington, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 48 West Virginia If you live in West Virginia, you can find out how to get the vaccine by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 49 Wisconsin If you live in Wisconsin, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 50 Wyoming If you live in Wyoming, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 51 Washington DC If you currently live in Washington DC, you can find out how to get vaccinated by going to the state’s vaccine website, here. 52 How to Survive This Pandemic As for yourself, follow the public health fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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