Sunday, November 28News That Matters

Tag: Private Spaceflight

Michael Strahan to Join Next Blue Origin Space Flight

Technology
The “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan signed up to follow the billionaire Jeff Bezos and the actor William Shatner to the edge of space on the next Blue Origin spaceflight, the private company said on Tuesday.Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Mr. Bezos, said on Tuesday that its third flight with a human crew would launch in early December. This spaceflight will have six passengers, two more than were on the company’s two previous crewed flights, and follows several other private launches this year, as billionaire-backed companies compete to send wealthy tourists on space jaunts.Mr. Strahan had covered Blue Origin’s first crewed flight, in July, from the company’s launch site in West Texas. On Tuesday, he told his colleagues on “Good Morning America” that when the comp...
SpaceX Crew-3 Dragon Docks With Space Station

SpaceX Crew-3 Dragon Docks With Space Station

Technology
Four astronauts boarded the International Space Station on Thursday after a daylong trip inside a spacecraft built by Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX. The quartet pushed to more than 600 the number of people to have flown to space, a further milestone in 2021, the busiest year for human spaceflight in over a decade.SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, nicknamed Endurance, docked with the orbital lab at 6:32 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, about 40 minutes ahead of a schedule announced earlier.“Docking complete, happy to be at the I.S.S.,” Raja Chari, the Crew-3 commander, said from the capsule as he and his fellow astronauts, buckled side-by-side in their seats, joined hands in celebration.Almost two hours later, the hatch opened and the smiling crew members entered the space station one at a time,...
International Space Station Dodges Chinese Space Junk

International Space Station Dodges Chinese Space Junk

Technology
On Wednesday, about six hours before NASA’s Crew-3 mission launched to orbit, the International Space Station was forced to maneuver itself to avoid a piece of debris spawned by a Chinese antisatellite weapon test in 2007.The piece of junk was projected to enter what’s called the “pizza box,” a square-shaped zone 2.5 miles deep and 30 miles wide, where the station sits in the middle. NASA officials keep close eyes on the zone using data models on the location of objects in space kept by the U.S. Space Command.Faced with a threat to the zone, the agency worked with Russia’s space agency in Moscow to fire station thrusters that raised its altitude by just under a mile.“It just makes sense to go ahead and do this burn and put this behind us so we can ensure the safety of the crew,” Joel Monta...
SpaceX to Launch NASA Crew-3 Astronauts: How to Watch

SpaceX to Launch NASA Crew-3 Astronauts: How to Watch

Technology
Exit the Crew Dragon. Enter another Crew Dragon.On Wednesday night, SpaceX will carry another crew of astronauts to the International Space Station for a stay of about six months. Crew-3 is the name of the mission, and its astronauts will replace Crew-2, the quartet of NASA, European and Japanese astronauts who completed a water landing in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday night.When is the launch and how can I watch it?Liftoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with the astronauts in the Crew Dragon sitting on top, is scheduled for 9:03 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday. NASA will host a livestream of the launch on NASA TV and its YouTube channel beginning at 4:45 p.m.Weather around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Falcon 9 will launch, is 80 percent favorable, according to the U.S. Space ...

NASA Moves Moon Landing Deadline Back to 2025

Technology
The obstacles to meeting the 2024 goal have been political and technical, from ambivalence among lawmakers in Congress to engineering challenges and delays with other systems and spacecraft that NASA may also need to get astronauts on the moon. The Covid pandemic also played a role. The agency’s centerpiece moon rocket, the Space Launch System, is a multibillion dollar undertaking that has experienced years of delays.But last week, NASA overcame a significant obstacle. The agency emerged victorious from a bitter and protracted legal fight with Jeff Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, which had lodged two protests against NASA’s decision to pick SpaceX. The dispute paralyzed the moon lander program for nearly six months, precluding NASA from working with SpaceX on Starship development.Yet St...

SpaceX Carries NASA Astronaut Mission Home With Safe Water Landing

Technology
Four astronauts inside a capsule built by SpaceX streaked across the Florida night sky like a meteor before splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico Monday night. The water landing capped an eventful six-month stay on the International Space Station.The space travelers were part of a mission called Crew-2: Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA; Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA, Japan’s space agency; and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.“It’s great to be back to planet Earth,” Mr. Kimbrough, Crew-2’s commander, said to SpaceX mission control from inside the capsule after it and four large parachutes fluttered down into still waters near Pensacola, Fla. He and his fellow astronauts left the space station at 2:05 p.m. Eastern time on Monday afternoon, and returned to Earth at 10:33 p.m.Two...

Blue Origin Loses Legal Fight Over SpaceX’s NASA Moon Contract

Technology
A federal judge on Thursday rejected Jeff Bezos’ latest legal attempt to overturn NASA’s multibillion-dollar moon lander contract with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, ending a monthslong battle between the space companies of the world’s two richest men.The dispute created a significant obstacle to NASA’s plans for returning humans to the moon for the first time since 1972. The ruling leaves Mr. Bezos’ company with few other legal avenues to challenge the contract, making it more likely that whenever American astronauts return to the lunar surface, they will be traveling in a spacecraft built by Mr. Musk's company.But NASA has been unable to work on the program with SpaceX for the duration of Blue Origin’s legal challenges, which may delay the return to the moon.“It’s been disappointing to not be able ...

Amazon to Launch First Two Internet Satellites in 2022

Technology
“The selection process was a long, arduous, tough one, that was many days of popping the hood and seeing what’s underneath,” Harry O’Hanley, ABL’s chief executive, said in an interview. “I’d say that they went as deep, or deeper, as we’ve ever seen a company go.”The pair of Amazon prototype satellites will test internet connections between space and the company’s flat, square antennas for consumers on the ground for the first time in Amazon’s Kuiper program. Regions for the test include parts of South America, the Asia-Pacific region and Central Texas. Past experiments involved flying drones with satellite hardware over antennas on the ground, and connecting ground antennas to other companies’ satellites already in space, drawing internet speeds fast enough to stream high-definition video....

Why SpaceX’s Crew-3 Launch Was Delayed to Wednesday

Technology
It’s been a busy year for human spaceflight, with three short tourist flights to the edge of space, an orbital journey by a team of amateur astronauts, a Russian film crew shooting movie scenes in orbit and two Chinese crews visiting the country’s new space station.Amid all this activity, American and Russian spacecraft have been traveling to and from the International Space Station. A flight had been scheduled for Sunday morning, but it will now be shifted to the early hours of Wednesday morning.Why was the flight delayed?Weather around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Falcon 9 will launch from, is expected to be favorable for an on-time liftoff.But “it’s not just what happens at the launchpad,” said Will Ulrich, a launch weather officer at the Space Force’s 45th Space Wing i...
SpaceX Needed to Fix the Toilet Before NASA Astronauts Launch

SpaceX Needed to Fix the Toilet Before NASA Astronauts Launch

Technology
But the toilet predicaments haven’t stopped there. Another Crew Dragon capsule that docked to the space station in April with four astronauts aboard has the same plumbing system as the Inspiration4 capsule. SpaceX engineers feared the same “contamination” might have occurred on that spacecraft.The engineers’ suspicions were correct.NASA astronauts living on the station snaked a borescope device — a cable with a tiny camera at the end — underneath the capsule’s floor and discovered traces of urine in places it shouldn’t be, Mr. Gerstenmaier said. “Yes, there was some indication of some contamination under the floor,” he said.That raised new concerns. In space, urine is mixed with a potentially corrosive compound, oxone, to eliminate ammonia. Could the oxone-laced urine, sitting in the capsu...