Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule launched successfully, but a mishap prevented it from docking with the ISS. The ship is undamaged and will return and land at its designated location, according to officials. This could delay the planned crewed flight of the Starliner next summer.
Starliner launched successfully on Friday morning on an Atlas V rocket. But once it detached from the launch vehicle, something went wrong.
The capsule was supposed to maneuver itself into a trajectory towards the ISS, and to dock on Saturday. Early reviews from both NASA and Boeing—Starliner’s builder—indicated that a clock malfunction prevented the engines from firing at the correct time. Once they fired, they burned more fuel than anticipated, putting a rendezvous with the ISS out of reach.
Ground controllers couldn’t initiate the burn because at the time it was needed the spacecraft was briefly in between two other satellites, and couldn’t receive signals from the ground.
NASA says that had there been crew on board, they would have been unharmed and returned to Earth safely. But as of now, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine isn’t sure if this setback means there’ll be another un-crewed test flight before the eventual crewed flight.
“I’m not ruling it out,” Bridenstine said on whether the next Starliner might carry crew. Had astronauts been on board, they may have been able to take over, correct the problem and get the capsule to the space station, he said. Currently, Starliner is in a stable orbit, and will return to White Sands on Sunday.
Though Starliner didn’t make it to the ISS, NASA says that today’s launch and test flight was still a success.
“A lot of things went right today,” Bridenstine told reporters. “And this is, in fact, why we test.”
Boeing is competing with SpaceX to be the first to fly American personnel to the ISS since the Space Shuttle fleet was retired. Since July 2011, American astronauts have been travelling to the ISS on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Those flights to the ISS are costing NASA up to $86 million US each.
It’s not clear how much of a setback this is for Boeing. SpaceX may well end up being the first American spacecraft to transport to the ISS since the shuttle fleet retired. In any case, SpaceX has had their own setbacks. One of their craft exploded last April during a test firing. But the Crew Dragon capsule has already completed one test flight to the ISS.
History is full of test flights that go wrong, and mostly we don’t remember them. Test flights are part of the business, and the fact that some tests find flaws means they’re working as intended.
“This is why we flight test, right? We’re trying to get all of the bugs removed out of the system,” said NASA’s Mike Fincke, one of the astronauts assigned to Starliner, at the briefing. “There’s always something.”
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The waiting is over in the wild rose province. Curling Alberta has made its decision on what teams will represent the province at this year’s Scotties and Brier in the Calgary bubble. Laura Walker, last year’s provincial champion, has accepted the invitation to play at this year’s Scotties. “We were excited to get the call. We wanted to wear the blue and gold and we take so much pride in representing our province,” Walker told CBC Sports. “We know there are many deserving teams in Alberta and we don’t take this honour lightly.” Walker made her Scotties debut in Moose Jaw, Sask., last year and finished with a 3-4 record. On the men’s side, Brendan Bottcher will once again be going to the Brier. Bottcher is last year’s provincial champion. He has played in the last three Brier championship games, losing twice to Brad Gushue, and two years ago to fellow Albertan Kevin Koe. It’s Bottcher’s fifth appearance at the Brier. The decision was made Sunday afternoon by the Curling Alberta board members. Massive repercussions This was a much anticipated decision as it will have massive repercussions on what other teams will attend the national championships. Curling Canada has announced a one-time expanded field for the Scotties and Brier, citing these extraordinary times in the midst of a pandemic as the reason for increasing the field to 18 teams. Normally, there are 16 teams competing at the event. However, Curling Canada has said there will be no wild-card game as it’s unfair to have teams travel all that way and make plans to only play one game. The governing body for the sport wants the best teams in the country at the event. So the first two spots will be determined by the CRTS rankings — the two teams that would normally compete in the wild-card game. The third and final team will be determined through a number of criteria. Kevin Koe, who brought in John Morris to join the team in place of Colton Flasch during the off-season, is ranked sixth. He’ll be at the event. “While we don’t agree with the decision made we are excited to have the opportunity to compete in the Calgary bubble,” Koe told CBC Sports. “Regardless of the uniform we are wearing we are a very motivated team and excited to compete for another Canadian championship and represent all our sponsors and fans.” Mike McEwen’s Manitoba rink is ranked fifth and is also a lock for the event. The last spot would then most likely go to Glenn Howard out of Ontario, as his team is currently ranked ninth. WATCH | Heroux, Jones break down Calgary culring bubble: Women’s side more complicated The women’s side is a tad more complicated. With Walker being named as Alberta representative, that means Tracy Fleury’s Manitoba rink is locked in for one of the spots with her No. 2 ranking. The next team without a Scotties spot is Chelea Carey. Her team disbanded during the off-season — Carey is a free agent. Then it’s Kelsey Rocque’s Alberta rink at No. 5. The issue for Rocque is that she changed two of four players during the off-season — and Curling Canada rules explicitly state three of four members need to return to be eligible. That eliminates the Rocque rink from the two CRTS spots — however, the team might be considered for the third spot. There is a potential situation brewing that could include last year’s world junior champion Mackenzie Zacharias. Her Manitoba rink is ranked 11th. This all comes in the wake of a number of jurisdictions cancelling their playdowns. To date, eight jurisdictions across Canada have now cancelled their playdowns — they include: B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Northern Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The final spots are expected to be filled over the next couple of weeks. Women Canada — Kerri Einarson. B.C. — Corryn Brown. Alberta — Laura Walker Saskatchewan — Sherry Anderson. Manitoba — Jennifer Jones. Ontario — Rachel Homan. Northern Ontario — Krysta Burns. Quebec — Laurie St-Georges. Nova Scotia — Jill Brothers. Nunavut — Lori Eddy. Men Canada — Brad Gushue. B.C. — Steve Laycock. Alberta — Brendan Bottcher Saskatchewan — Matt Dunstone. Manitoba — Jason Gunnlaugson. Ontario — John Epping. Northern Ontario — Brad Jacobs. Quebec — Michael Fournier. Yukon — Dustin Mikkelsen. Nunavut — Peter Mackey. There are six major curling events planned for the Calgary curling bubble starting with the Scotties on Feb. 19. That will then lead into the men’s national championship beginning of March. 5. Following these two events, the mixed doubles championship will take place all leading to the men’s world curling championship, set to begin in early April. The final two events held inside the bubble include two Grand Slam of Curling bonspiels.
VIDEO: Why Nova Scotia health officials are testing for COVID-19 in a community that's largely been spared from the virus – TheChronicleHerald.ca
Over the weekend of Jan. 16-17, people in the Bridgewater, N.S. area were offered rapid COVID-19 testing for the first time since the province introduced the process last fall.
In the video above, Dr. John Ross speaks to SaltWire’s Sheldon MacLeod about why Nova Scotia health officials are looking for the virus in a community that has been mostly free of infections, even during the height of the outbreaks in the province.
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