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.”
OSLO -An “unusually large meteor” briefly lit up southern Norway on Sunday, creating a spectacular sound and light display as it rumbled across the sky, and a bit of it may have hit Earth, possibly not far from the capital, Oslo, experts said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Reports of sightings started arriving around 1 a.m. with the phenomena being seen as far north as Trondheim.
A web camera in Holmestrand, south of Oslo, captured a fireball falling from the sky and erupting into a bright flash lighting up a marina.
The Norwegian Meteor network was analysing video footage and other data on Sunday to try to pinpoint the meteor’s origin and destination.
Preliminary data suggested a meteorite may have hit Earth in a large wooded area, called Finnemarka, just 60 km (40 miles) west of the capital, Oslo, the network said.
“This was crazy,” the network’s Morten Bilet, who saw and heard the meteor, told Reuters.
By Sunday afternoon no debris had been found and given the “demanding” location, one could take “some 10 years” searching for possible meteorites, Bilet said.
The meteor travelled at 15-20 km per second and lit up the night sky for about five to six seconds, Bilet said. The summer sky was dark, with the days starting to get shorter from the end of June.
Some eyewitnesses also said they felt a stronger wind blow with the event also causing a pressure wave, Bilet said.
“What we had last night was a large rock travelling likely from between Mars and Jupiter, which is our asteroid belt. And when that whizzes in, it creates a rumble, light and great excitement among us (experts) and maybe some fear among others,” Bilet said.
There were no reports of damage or people being particularly frightened, Bilet said, adding that for those nearest it was likely more of a “spooky” event.
A meteor that exploded over the central Russia near the city of Chelyabinsk in 2013 rained fireballs over a vast area and caused a shock wave that smashed windows, damaged buildings and injured 1,200 people.
Seaspan’s plans to consolidate its ship repair business at Vancouver Drydock is running into opposition from its residential neighbours.
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Seaspan Shipbuilding is outgrowing its operations on the North Shore, but the company’s plans to expand its companion Vancouver Drydock is colliding with concerns of the residential neighbourhood that has grown up around the century-old industrial waterfront.
Building new ships for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy was absorbing Seaspan’s capacity to repair ships at its main shipyard at the end of Pemberton Avenue, said company spokeswoman Kris Neely.
Neely said the company has been thinking about expanding for awhile, as part of a vision to create a “multi generational business.”
“As part of that, we’re consolidating our repair and maintenance services out of Vancouver Drydock and then being able to focus on shipbuilding efforts at our Vancouver Shipyard.”
Their plan is to push Seaspan’s existing dry dock facilities on the Lower Lonsdale waterfront 40 metres further into Burrard Inlet, then ask the Port of Vancouver to extend its water lot lease 40 metres to the west in order to add three smaller dry docks.
Seaspan submitted an application for a review of the plan to the port in April. That federal authority deemed the application complete on June 21, opening up a public comment period. That included virtual public meetings July 13 and 15, and ends July 30.
Many of the comments from residents of condo towers that face the proposed expansion have expressed opposition to allowing Seaspan’s migration west when it has space to the east of its existing docks that is already within its lease.
It isn’t just a matter of views being blocked by new facilities jutting out in front of condos, said resident Al Parsons. Residents are concerned about the impact of additional noise and pollution, including tug boats operating in the waters in front of Shipyard Commons, the bustling commercial district and public space with its waterfront trail and a playground.
“We knew Seaspan was our neighbour when we moved in,” Parsons said. “What we didn’t know was that they were going to continue to move westward and, I think, impose themselves on the (waterfront) Spirit Trail.
“It has walkers, joggers, cyclists, there’s a playground that was built for kids, which is going to be right beside this expansion.”
Parsons said residents aren’t opposed to the idea of expansion and support an initiative that Seaspan says would create 100 jobs, but don’t like there wasn’t any consultation before the company submitted its application.
And they are pushing back against a possible westward expansion, unless Seaspan proves it cannot expand east within their existing lease.
The City of North Vancouver is working on a response to Seaspan’s proposal, but would like to see the public comment period extended and all resident and business concerns taken into consideration.
“I understand the concerns and share many of them,” Mayor Linda Buchanan said in a statement. “This project will bring more family-supporting jobs to the community, but the quality of life of residents needs to be a priority as well.”
Neely said Seaspan did look at other options for this expansion, but siting the new dry docks on the east side of its operations would block water access to a fabrication shop on the site that builds components for new vessels at Vancouver Shipyards.
However, Parsons argued that the east side is perhaps more inconvenient for Seaspan, which would be free to use the east side of its property for other purposes if it were granted a westward expansion.
“I know the water lot is deemed industrial but, frankly, Seaspan is pushing too hard on this neighbourhood that a lot of people contribute tax dollars to support annually.”
NASA on Friday said it had selected SpaceX to launch a planned voyage to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, a huge win for Elon Musk’s company as it sets its sights deeper into the solar system.
The Europa Clipper mission will launch in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the total contract worth $178 million.
The mission was previously supposed to take off on NASA’s own Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which has been plagued by delays and cost overruns, with critics calling it a “jobs program” for the state of Alabama where much of the development work is taking place.
While SLS isn’t yet operational, Falcon Heavy has deployed on both commercial and government missions since its maiden flight in 2018 when it carried Musk’s own Tesla Roadster into space.
It generates more than five million pounds of thrust (22 million Newtons) at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft.
The Europa clipper orbiter will make about 40 to 50 close passes over Europa to determine whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.
Its payload will include cameras and spectrometers to produce high-resolution images and compositional maps of the surface and atmosphere, as well as radar to penetrate the ice layer to search for liquid water below.
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