Connect with us

Science

Starliner Spacecraft's Landing on Sunday a Critical Moment for Boeing and NASA – Space.com

Published

 on


Update for Dec. 22: Boeing’s first Starliner spacecraft has successfully landed in New Mexico. For photos and videos, read our full landing story here.

Boeing’s first Starliner spacecraft will return to Earth Sunday (Dec. 22) to cap a rocky test flight that, despite some successes, left the capsule in the wrong orbit and unable to reach the International Space Station for NASA as planned. 

If all goes according to the revised plan, the uncrewed Starliner — which Boeing designed to eventually fly astronauts for NASA — will land at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico at 7:57 a.m. EST (1257 GMT), six days earlier than its original Dec. 28 target. The spacecraft will rely on a heat shield to withstand the searing heat of reentry, three parachutes to slow its descent back to Earth and airbags to cushion its landing. And all of that gear needs to work perfectly for a safe touchdown.

“Tomorrow is a big day,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said of Starliner’s landing in a teleconference with reporters today (Dec. 21). “We have to be on our ‘A’ game.”

You can watch Boeing’s Starliner landing live on Space.com Sunday, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 6:45 a.m. EST (1145 GMT).

Video: How Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft Will Land
More:
Boeing’s 1st Starliner Flight Test in Photos

This Boeing graphic shows the stages of entry, descent and landing for the Starliner spacecraft. Boeing’s first Starliner will return to Earth Sunday, Dec. 22, to land at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. (Image credit: Boeing)

A critical test

“Entry, descent and landing is not for the faint of heart…”

Jim Chilton, Boeing Space & Launch Div.

A smooth, successful landing will be a redemption of sorts for Boeing’s Starliner, which was left in its unplanned orbit due to a timing error with the spacecraft’s mission clock. The glitch meant Starliner, which launched early Friday (Dec. 20), was unable to rendezvous with the space station to demonstrate its automated docking system, a vital capability for future astronaut missions. 

But just as vital is landing safely. And that’s what Boeing will attempt to show on Sunday. 

“Entry, descent and landing is not for the faint of heart, and this vehicle has not entered,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch Division. “We have not gone from space to the atmosphere.”

The airbags on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule will deploy once the spacecraft reaches an altitude of 3,000 feet (900 meters) during its return to Earth.  (Image credit: Boeing)

Leaving orbit

Starliner’s return to Earth will occur in stages, each of which must go right for the spacecraft to land safely. First, Starliner will have to leave its current orbit, which is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) above Earth.

To do that, Starliner’s service module will fire its thrusters in a so-called “deorbit burn” at 7:23 a.m. EST (1223 GMT) that will last 50 seconds. That should slow the spacecraft to about 25 times the speed of sound, Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said in the teleconference. Mach 25 is about 19,181 mph (20,870 km/h).

After the deorbit burn, the cylindrical service module should separate from the Starliner crew capsule and perform its own maneuver to fall safely out space and into the Pacific Ocean, Stich said. 

An artist’s illustration of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner during its airbag and parachute-assisted landing. (Image credit: Boeing)

Parachute landing

The rest of the landing scenario relies on Starliner’s crew capsule, which will plunge through the atmosphere on a trajectory that flies over the Pacific Ocean and crosses Baja California and Mexico,  and then just west of El Paso, Texas, to reach a landing zone at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. 

When the gumdrop-shaped Starliner slams into the Earth’s atmosphere, its heat shield will heat up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 degrees Celsius), according to a Boeing mission description. The spacecraft will then jettison that heat shield and prepare to deploy its parachutes. 

“By the time we get to 30,000 feet [9,100 meters], we’ll deploy parachutes; the vehicle will be going less than the speed of sound, less than Mach 1,” Stich said. 

Starliner is equipped with three main parachutes to slow its descent back to Earth. During a pad abort test in November, only two of those parachutes deployed during a Starliner landing, a glitch Boeing pegged to a misaligned pin in the parachute rigging system. 

Chilton said both Boeing and NASA have checked and double-checked that the pins in the current Starliner’s parachutes were installed correctly. 

“We did have a NASA team go in and look at all the closeout photos,” Stitch added. “The parachutes on this spacecraft were rigged correctly.”

Starliner’s big test

At 3,000 feet (900 m), air bags should inflate on Starliner’s base. Those airbags are designed to cushion the impact of landing on astronauts inside the spacecraft. 

While there are no human astronauts on this Starliner, the spacecraft is carrying “Rosie the Rocketeer,” a spacesuit-clad anthropomorphic test dummy equipped with sensors to measure what astronauts will feel. 

“We’re going to be able to measure how the human would receive the Gs during entry, and also as the parachutes deploy and as we land,” Stich said. “We can measure that environment on Rosie and then extrapolate how a human would do in that environment.”

Related: Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Space Capsule (Infographic)

After landing, teams from Boeing and NASA will arrive to recover the vehicle (and its Rosie dummy) to see how Starliner and its systems performed during the trip home. 

About the only thing Starliner will not have done during its test flight is the actual docking with the space station. Timing issue aside, the spacecraft fared well during launch and its major systems performed as expected in orbit, Chilton said. Engineers were also able to to deploy and retract Starliner’s docking system to make sure it would work during actual dockings. 

But just like launch, landing is a test that stands apart, Chilton said.  

“Not all objectives are created equal,”he added. “Make no mistake. We still have something to prove here on entry tomorrow.”

Visit Space.com Sunday, Dec. 22, for complete coverage of Starliner’s OFT landing at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

All About Space Holiday 2019

Need more space? Subscribe to our sister title “All About Space” Magazine for the latest amazing news from the final frontier! (Image credit: All About Space)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

2.8-pound meteorite from space crashes into roof of Canadian woman’s home, falls on bed – The Tribune

Published

 on


Tribune Web Desk

Chandigarh, October 16

Ruth Hamilton (66) had a disturbed awakening on October 3 when a large meteorite plunged from space, through her roof and landed in her bed.

Ruth, resident of Golden, British Columbia, woke up to the sound of a crash and her dog barking on October 3 around 11.35 pm.

Also read: Meteorite-like object falls from sky in Rajasthan; explosion heard 2-km away

Speaking with Canadian Press, she said: “I’ve never been so scared in my life, adding that, “I wasn’t sure what to do so I called 911 and, when I was speaking with the operator, I flipped over my pillow and saw that a rock had slipped between two pillows.”

She told CTV News: “I didn’t feel it.”

“It never touched me. I had debris on my face from the drywall, but not a single scratch.”

A police officer arrived on the scene, but suspected the object that landed in Hamilton’s bed was from a nearby construction site.

“He called the [construction site] and they said they hadn’t done a blast but that they had seen an explosion in the sky and, right then and there, we realised it was a meteorite,” she told the Canadian Press.

It turns out that the 2.8-pound space rock, about the size of a small cabbage, was part of a meteor shower identified by Alan Hildebrand, a planetary scientist in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary, and his colleagues.

The group said the trajectory of the meteorite that hit Hamilton’s house would have made it visible throughout southeastern British Columbia and central and southern Alberta.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Misconceptions about science fuel pandemic debates and controversies, says Neil deGrasse Tyson – CBC.ca

Published

 on


Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says some of the bitter arguments about medicine and science during the COVID-19 pandemic can be blamed on a fundamental misunderstanding of science.

“People were unwittingly witnessing science at its very best.… [They said,] ‘You told me not to wear a mask a month ago and now you tell me [to] wear it.… You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Yes, we do,” the American astrophysicist and author told The Sunday Magazine host Piya Chattopadhyay.

“Science is a means of querying nature. And when we have enough experiments and enough observations, only then can we say: This is how nature behaves, whether you like it or not. And that is when science contributes to what is to what is objectively true in the world.”

Tyson, who is also the director at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, is doing his part to try to make his corner of the scientific world more accessible with his new book A Brief Welcome to the Universe, co-authored with Michael A. Strauss and J. Richard Gott.

He hopes readers can take those lessons to other scientific topics, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen several controversies flourish about the nature of the virus and the measures developed to fight it.

Misconceptions about how science works stems in part, he said, from the fact that it’s often improperly taught at the earliest levels of education.

“People think science is the answer. ‘Oh, give me the answer. You’re a scientist. What’s the answer?’ And then I say things like: ‘We actually don’t have an answer to that.’ And people get upset. They even get angry. ‘You’re a scientist. You should know,'” he explained.

“What’s not taught in school is that science is a way of learning what is and is not true. The scientific method is a way of ensuring that your own bias does not leave you thinking something is true that is not, or that something is not true that is.”

Big universe, simple language

A Brief Welcome to the Universe is billed as an approachable “pocket-sized tour” of the cosmos, answering such questions as “How do stars live and die?” and “How did the universe begin?”

It’s a condensed version of the 2016 edition of the book, Welcome to the Universe: An Astrophysical Tour.

Welcome to the Universe: A Pocket-Sized Tour is co-authored by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss and J. Richard Gott. (Princeton University Press)

Tyson and his co-authors argue in the book that astrophysics uses simpler language than other scientific disciplines, which makes it a good starting point to learn about science.

“I don’t simplify the origin of the universe and then call it ‘The Big Bang’ to you. We call it that to each other,” said Tyson. The same goes for well-known phenomena like black holes, sunspots and the planet Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, he added.

Start with those, and then you can move onto other topics, some with more complex names — such as the Coriolis force, which, among other things, explains how the Earth’s rotation subtly affects the way a football travels in the air during a field kick.

“There are simple things in science. And if you’re interested, you can then go out and learn the complex things. But I’m not going to lead with the complex things. What good is that? That never solved anything,” he said.

Many people likely know Tyson from his appearances on American talk shows, often critiquing or debunking questionable science seen in movies and other pop culture. He’s commented on everything from the feasibility of resurrecting dinosaurs, like in Jurassic Park, to the improper night-sky backdrop in the final scenes of Titanic.

Tyson, left, and Seth MacFarlane, executive producer of Cosmos, participate in the Television Critics Association’s winter presentations in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 13, 2014. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

He also talks about science on his podcast StarTalk, as well as on a National Geographic TV show of the same name and another show called Cosmos.

Tyson was temporarily removed from both programs in late 2018, after accusations of sexual misconduct from two women, which he denied. Following an investigation, in early 2019, National Geographic and Fox reinstated Tyson on their shows. They did not address the allegations in their statement announcing the decision.

About Pluto

Perhaps none of the topics Tyson is known for speaking about has sparked more discussion than Pluto, the former ninth planet.

“Oh, don’t get me started,” Tyson responded immediately upon mention of the icy celestial body, which was demoted from planet to dwarf planet status in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union.

The term “dwarf planet” is relatively new. It grouped Pluto, which was originally discovered in 1930, with a number of other icy bodies larger than an asteroid but smaller in size and mass to rocky planets closer to the Sun, including the Earth.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution, enhanced-colour view of Pluto on July 14, 2015. Once considered the solar system’s ninth planet, it was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

“The word planet really should be discarded,” he said. “Because if I say I discovered a planet orbiting a star, you have to ask me 20 more questions to get any understanding of what the hell the thing is.”

The word “planet” comes from the Greek planetes, meaning “wanderer.” In ancient times, that included Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, but also the moon and the sun. Earth wasn’t considered a planet, because it was believed to be the unmoving centre of the known universe.

Over time, the scientific method progressed beyond that: the Earth is a planet that orbits the sun, which is a star. We now know our moon is one of at least 200 moons in the solar system.

To Tyson, Pluto’s reclassification represents the next step in our evolving understanding of the cosmos, which has necessarily become more complex.

It also illustrates a broadening of our scientific horizons that ancient civilizations might have never contemplated.

That’s why when Tyson was asked how to best answer a child’s question about things we do not know, such as “how big is the universe,” he said the best thing we can say is that we do not know.

“That is one of the greatest answers you can ever give someone — because it leaves them wanting for more. And they might one day be the person who discovers what the answer will be.”


Written by Jonathan Ore. Produced by Sarah-Joyce Battersby.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

2.8-pound meteorite from space crashes roof of Canadian woman’s home, falls on bed – The Tribune India

Published

 on


Tribune Web Desk

Chandigarh, October 16

Ruth Hamilton (66) had a disturbed awakening on October 3 when a large meteorite plunged from space, through her roof and landed in her bed.

Ruth, resident of Golden, British Columbia, woke up to the sound of a crash and her dog barking on October 3 around 11.35 pm.

Speaking with Canadian Press, she said: “I’ve never been so scared in my life, adding that, “I wasn’t sure what to do so I called 911 and, when I was speaking with the operator, I flipped over my pillow and saw that a rock had slipped between two pillows.”

She told CTV News: “I didn’t feel it.”

“It never touched me. I had debris on my face from the drywall, but not a single scratch.”

A police officer arrived on the scene, but suspected the object that landed in Hamilton’s bed was from a nearby construction site.

“He called the [construction site] and they said they hadn’t done a blast but that they had seen an explosion in the sky and, right then and there, we realised it was a meteorite,” she told the Canadian Press.

It turns out that the 2.8-pound space rock, about the size of a small cabbage, was part of a meteor shower identified by Alan Hildebrand, a planetary scientist in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Calgary, and his colleagues.

The group said the trajectory of the meteorite that hit Hamilton’s house would have made it visible throughout southeastern British Columbia and central and southern Alberta.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending