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Category Archives: Space Station

Tom Cruise Working With NASA To Film Aboard The International Space Station – WLEN-FM

Posted: May 8, 2020 at 10:51 am

NASA has confirmed that Tom Cruise is partnering with them to shoot a movie aboard the National Space Station, the first narrative feature to be shot in space. NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station, NASA administrator Jim Bridentsine tweeted on Tuesday. We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASAs ambitious plans a reality.

Cruise and Elon Musks SpaceX were in the early stages of teaming up with NASA for an action-adventure feature film that would be shot in outer space. Plot details have not been revealed.

Cruises next film is Top Gun: Maverick, in which he reprises his role as Captain Pete Maverick Mitchell. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Paramount has moved Top Gun: Maverick off its July 12 release date to Dec. 23, 2020.

Editorial credit: JStone / Shutterstock.com

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Digital Space Solution Market to Witness Astonishing Growth With The SpaceStation, SpaceDigital, Mediaspace Solutions, Sajha Media Space, Nine…

Posted: at 10:51 am

Digital Space Solution Market 2020

This report studies the Digital Space Solution Market with many aspects of the industry like the market size, market status, market trends and forecast, the report also provides brief information of the competitors and the specific growth opportunities with key market drivers. Find the complete Digital Space Solution Market analysis segmented by companies, region, type and applications in the report.

The major players covered in Digital Space Solution Market The SpaceStation, SpaceDigital, Mediaspace Solutions, Sajha Media Space, Nine Digital, Cisco, JOANNEUM RESEARCH, T2, Pixelwork Interactive, and Cognizant

The final report will add the analysis of the Impact of Covid-19 in this report Digital Space Solution industry.

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Digital Space Solution Market continues to evolve and expand in terms of the number of companies, products, and applications that illustrates the growth perspectives. The report also covers the list of Product range and Applications with SWOT analysis, CAGR value, further adding the essential business analytics. Digital Space Solution Market research analysis identifies the latest trends and primary factors responsible for market growth enabling the Organizations to flourish with much exposure to the markets.

Market Segment by Regions, regional analysis covers

North America (United States, Canada and Mexico)

Europe (Germany, France, UK, Russia and Italy)

Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia)

South America (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia etc.)

Middle East and Africa (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa)

Research objectives:

To study and analyze the global Digital Space Solution market size by key regions/countries, product type and application, history data from 2013 to 2017, and forecast to 2026.

To understand the structure of Digital Space Solution market by identifying its various sub segments.

Focuses on the key global Digital Space Solution players, to define, describe and analyze the value, market share, market competition landscape, SWOT analysis and development plans in next few years.

To analyze the Digital Space Solution with respect to individual growth trends, future prospects, and their contribution to the total market.

To share detailed information about the key factors influencing the growth of the market (growth potential, opportunities, drivers, industry-specific challenges and risks).

To project the size of Digital Space Solution submarkets, with respect to key regions (along with their respective key countries).

To analyze competitive developments such as expansions, agreements, new product launches and acquisitions in the market.

To strategically profile the key players and comprehensively analyze their growth strategies.

The Digital Space Solution Market research report completely covers the vital statistics of the capacity, production, value, cost/profit, supply/demand import/export, further divided by company and country, and by application/type for best possible updated data representation in the figures, tables, pie chart, and graphs. These data representations provide predictive data regarding the future estimations for convincing market growth. The detailed and comprehensive knowledge about our publishers makes us out of the box in case of market analysis.

Table of Contents: Digital Space Solution Market

Chapter 1: Overview of Digital Space Solution Market

Chapter 2: Global Market Status and Forecast by Regions

Chapter 3: Global Market Status and Forecast by Types

Chapter 4: Global Market Status and Forecast by Downstream Industry

Chapter 5: Market Driving Factor Analysis

Chapter 6: Market Competition Status by Major Manufacturers

Chapter 7: Major Manufacturers Introduction and Market Data

Chapter 8: Upstream and Downstream Market Analysis

Chapter 9: Cost and Gross Margin Analysis

Chapter 10: Marketing Status Analysis

Chapter 11: Market Report Conclusion

Chapter 12: Research Methodology and Reference

Key questions answered in this report

What will the market size be in 2026 and what will the growth rate be?

What are the key market trends?

What is driving this market?

What are the challenges to market growth?

Who are the key vendors in this market space?

What are the market opportunities and threats faced by the key vendors?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the key vendors?

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Reports and Markets is not just another company in this domain but is a part of a veteran group called Algoro Research Consultants Pvt. Ltd. It offers premium progressive statistical surveying, market research reports, analysis & forecast data for a wide range of sectors both for the government and private agencies all across the world. The database of the company is updated on a daily basis. Our database contains a variety of industry verticals that include: Food Beverage, Automotive, Chemicals and Energy, IT & Telecom, Consumer, Healthcare, and many more. Each and every report goes through the appropriate research methodology, Checked from the professionals and analysts.

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Digital Space Solution Market to Witness Astonishing Growth With The SpaceStation, SpaceDigital, Mediaspace Solutions, Sajha Media Space, Nine...

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Astronaut Christina Koch on making space history and how to survive isolation – The Verge

Posted: at 10:51 am

On February 6th, NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned back to Earth after making history during a nearly year-long stay on board the International Space Station. She had just broken the record for longest continuous spaceflight by a woman, and while she was up there, she performed the first all-female spacewalk in history with her friend and crewmate Jessica Meir. In fact, they did three total spacewalks together.

Now back on solid ground, Koch is experiencing another long-duration mission: social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. But she says her turn aboard the ISS is helping her cope during this time, and she has some tips for others who may be struggling to stay positive throughout the crisis. Koch also says she has a better understanding of what its going to take to send people on years-long deep-space missions to Mars one day. The key? Combatting what she calls sensory underload.

In the meantime, shes continuing to train as much as she can from home while awaiting her next assignment to space. And for her, the next call from NASA could be a big one. The space agency is aiming to send the first woman to the Moon as early as 2024 as part of its Artemis mission. Its possible that woman could be Koch.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Your first flight to space was very eventful. What was it like when you first got your assignment?

It was a really exciting time, and I ended up being assigned at a time when there was a lot of flux in the flight schedule, so I had an accelerated training flow. Whereas the normal training flow is about two years, mine was about a year. I ended up studying to be in the copilot role in the Soyuz spacecraft. I spent almost all of 2018 living and training in Russia, which was an incredible experience.

Obviously, as a rookie, getting told that youre finally going to achieve your dream of going to the space station is just an incredible moment, similar to the moment you find out youre selected to be in the astronaut corps. Its hard to really believe its happening, but, like anything, NASA gives you plenty to keep you busy.

Your time on the space station was definitely longer than you anticipated. What was it like learning that youd be staying for nearly a year?

I did know in advance that it was a possibility. So for me, the real challenge and what I focused on was not getting too caught up in the sense of needing to know when I would go home. I became comfortable with the concept of launching and not necessarily knowing for sure when I would come back. So I developed a strategy for the longest-possible duration so that I could kind of sustain that tempo no matter what, if it was required.

We say in the industry that for a long-duration spaceflight, its a marathon, not a sprint. So I just told myself it was an ultra-marathon, not a marathon.

Lets talk about your spacewalks, which were such a big deal to everyone on the ground. First, you were assigned to go with Anne McClain, and that was going to be the first all-female spacewalk. Then it was postponed. What was that event like for you, hearing about the backlash that was associated with it?

Being in the moment was a different experience than maybe it was perceived to be from the outside. The spacewalk actually wasnt canceled; it happened. It was conducted by Nick Hague and myself. The decision to change the crew was actually recommended by Anne, based on her own preferences and the additional information she gained from her first spacewalk. And the fact that NASA 100 percent stood behind her decision and did not question it, I thought it was just an incredible example of trusting the crew, trusting the experts that are going to conduct the spacewalk, and trusting Anne to know what the best way to get the job done and to mitigate the risk would be. So I really commend both her and our leadership for going with that decision.

But then you also did get to make that history with your crewmate Jessica Meir just a few months later. What was that like, learning that you would actually get to do this all-female spacewalk that was so important to people.

It was just an awesome honor, as they all are. We were focused on the mission; we were excited to conduct the maintenance and upgrade to the space station. And I was just as happy to go out the door with Jessica as I had been with Nick and [NASA astronaut] Andrew [Morgan] on previous spacewalks.

Of course, there is something special that is being part of the first all-female spacewalk, and that was something that we kind of allowed ourselves to really take in and consider more afterward. Because the preparation leading up to that spacewalk, we were all business: focused on the technical aspects, on making sure that we could get the job done. Interestingly, that spacewalk was actually a contingency spacewalk, so it had never been planned to happen. It was because of some unexpected hardware signatures that they saw after the battery replacement. So it was an incredible thing to be a part of, from our perspective, really more because of the teamwork involved in coming up with this incredible spacewalk within the span of a week and executing it successfully. So after the fact, I think we had a little more time to reflect on the historical significance of what we were doing.

Obviously, were incredibly grateful to those that paved the way for us to be there. It was a privilege to be there at the right place at the right time.

People are experiencing their own form of spaceflight right now: theyre being socially isolated at home. What kind of advice would you have for them, given your experience?

As we come into the second month of social distancing and staying at home, it reminds me a lot of the latter part of my mission where the biggest challenge was remaining vigilant. We know what we should be doing make a schedule, have a routine, take time for yourself, carve out space, set realistic goals but I think, as it wears on, we kind of lose the vigilance and the commitment to those things. If every day feels like Tuesday, you dont have the grit to make yourself do all of those things we know we should be doing.

So I would say recommit to the things that you know keep you healthy and sane during this time reaching out, supporting each other. Youre probably finding yourself thinking, When is this going to be over? more and more. And for me, the way that I got through times like that was to focus not on the things I was missing out on, but on the unique parts of the situation that I would never have again. So find something that you love about this current situation, and that may be difficult. Some of us are going through really tough times. But find something that makes it special and unique that you know youll miss one day. And if you focus on that, you may find that you arent constantly waiting for it to be over.

What about using your experience to go to the Moon or Mars? Do you feel like you have a better understanding of what its going to take to do these years-long missions into deep space?

Definitely. We talked a lot on board about just that. Something were all probably experiencing right now is what I call sensory underload. Youve seen the same thing for so long. You havent seen new people. You havent smelled new smells. You havent tasted new tastes. And there is a change, I think, in the brain that happens when we dont have new sensory inputs to process every day.

A lot of the things that I think would enhance our long-duration missions are in kind of that realm things like packing care packages for yourself to open throughout the mission, having virtual reality options for interacting in different environments and maybe even interacting with your family, coming up with unique ways to stay connected, using some of the same communication tools that we use on Earth, like, for example, texting.

So some of the answers are actually pretty simple. But I would say, right now, probably everyone in America has some pretty good advice as well on surviving long-duration space missions. Weve all had a little taste of it ourselves.

I feel like Im kind of trying to combat this sensory underload right now by trying to do new things, new activities, that make it seem like Im in a different place than where I am.

One of the things that I did on board is use things like music or even decorating for that. You know, painting a room in your apartment, rearranging the furniture, or listening to a playlist thats of a completely different genre in your house. Things that truly can provide a little bit of relief from sensory underload.

Now that youre back on solid ground, what have you been doing during this period of downtime? Are you still training? Does it weirdly mirror your time on the station?

On the station, our days are 12-hour workdays during the week, filled with maintenance, science, and exercise down to the five-minute increments. So even without social isolation and staying at home, it would have been a big decrease in the amount of regimentation to my schedule coming home.

You know a lot of people joke: How can an astronaut work from home? And yes, you know, there are a lot of training aspects that we can do and currency aspects that we can do from home. Russian language is a great example of that. And then anyone whos mission essential is still doing their aspects of their job. So a lot of us support real-time space station work by being the CAPCOM in Mission Control. (Thats the person talking to the astronauts throughout the day.) So its a mix of essential work that we do go in for and then staying relevant on our training from home when we cant.

Meanwhile, weve got a lot of big things from NASA coming up at the end of the month. Two of your fellow astronauts will be launching from Florida on a SpaceX rocket. Whats that going to be like for you?

Im over the Moon for that mission. I am so excited to see [NASA astronauts] Doug [Hurley] and Bob [Behnken] launch from Cape Canaveral on an American rocket. I think it was an incredible decision to do business in the way that NASA has been, fostering this space economy by opening up the transportation of astronauts to and from the space station to private industry. To see it culminate and launch on May 27th is going to be incredible. Though we will all be separated, I think well all be experiencing it together as a country and as a world.

There are also a lot of big opportunities coming up with NASA and its Artemis program to send the first woman to the Moon, and the NASA administrator has said that astronaut is probably already in the astronaut corps. Would you want to be that person?

I am so excited about the Artemis mission. It is going to be an incredible opportunity to lead on a global scale, to apply technologies to go on even deeper space missions like going to Mars and answering some of the biggest philosophical questions I think of our time about are we alone? We are really on an awesome path of exploration and discovery right now, and its a really amazing time to be in the astronaut corps.

No one knows who those first couple of astronauts will be. My hope is that its the right person for the job. We have an incredible astronaut corps. Any single person would excel in that role, and I just cant wait to see who that person is. I know that they will carry the hopes and dreams of all humanity with them when they go, and truly, Im just excited to know that person. Whether or not its me, of course, any astronaut would accept with honor.

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China plans to have space station by 2022 – The Canberra Times

Posted: May 6, 2020 at 6:41 am

news, latest-news

China plans to send four crewed space missions and four cargo craft to complete work on its permanent space station within about two years, officials say after the launch of a new spacecraft aboard the latest heavy-lift rocket. The announcement by the country's crewed space program further cements China's aspirations to rival the US, Europe, Russia and private companies in outer space exploration. The unmanned spacecraft and its return capsule were flung into space aboard a Long March 5B rocket in its debut flight on Tuesday from the Wenchang launch centre in the southern island province of Hainan. The capsule is reportedly an improvement on the Shenzhou capsule based on the former Soviet Union's Soyuz model and can carry six astronauts rather than the current three. China earlier launched an experimental space station that later crashed back through the atmosphere, and plans to build a larger facility with multiple modules to rival the scale of the International Space Station. China's burgeoning space program achieved a milestone last year by landing a spacecraft on the largely unexplored dark side of the moon and has plans to launch a lander and rover on Mars. The program has developed rapidly, especially since its first crewed mission in 2003, and has sought cooperation with space agencies in Europe and elsewhere. The US, however, has banned most space cooperation with China out of national security concerns, keeping China from participating in the International Space Station and prompting it to gradually develop its own equipment. The new Long March 5B rocket has been specially designated to propel modules of the future space station into orbit. China is also among three countries planning missions to Mars for this summer. The United States is launching a lander, China has a lander-orbiter combo, and the United Arab Emirates is sending an orbiter. Spacecraft can only be launched to Mars every two years, to take advantage of the best possible line-up between Earth and its neighbouring planet. Australian Associated Press

https://nnimgt-a.akamaihd.net/transform/v1/crop/frm/silverstone-feed-data/f0354f8b-fc36-4274-a431-2910adf3d130.jpg/r0_74_800_526_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

China plans to send four crewed space missions and four cargo craft to complete work on its permanent space station within about two years, officials say after the launch of a new spacecraft aboard the latest heavy-lift rocket.

The announcement by the country's crewed space program further cements China's aspirations to rival the US, Europe, Russia and private companies in outer space exploration.

The unmanned spacecraft and its return capsule were flung into space aboard a Long March 5B rocket in its debut flight on Tuesday from the Wenchang launch centre in the southern island province of Hainan.

The capsule is reportedly an improvement on the Shenzhou capsule based on the former Soviet Union's Soyuz model and can carry six astronauts rather than the current three.

China earlier launched an experimental space station that later crashed back through the atmosphere, and plans to build a larger facility with multiple modules to rival the scale of the International Space Station.

China's burgeoning space program achieved a milestone last year by landing a spacecraft on the largely unexplored dark side of the moon and has plans to launch a lander and rover on Mars.

The program has developed rapidly, especially since its first crewed mission in 2003, and has sought cooperation with space agencies in Europe and elsewhere.

The US, however, has banned most space cooperation with China out of national security concerns, keeping China from participating in the International Space Station and prompting it to gradually develop its own equipment.

The new Long March 5B rocket has been specially designated to propel modules of the future space station into orbit.

China is also among three countries planning missions to Mars for this summer. The United States is launching a lander, China has a lander-orbiter combo, and the United Arab Emirates is sending an orbiter.

Spacecraft can only be launched to Mars every two years, to take advantage of the best possible line-up between Earth and its neighbouring planet.

Australian Associated Press

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How long will the 1st astronauts to ride SpaceX’s Crew Dragon be in space? No one knows exactly (yet). – Space.com

Posted: at 6:41 am

Two NASA astronauts will make history this month when they become the first crew to fly to the International Space Station in a private spacecraft. But exactly how long their historic mission will last has yet to be determined.

On May 27, astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will board SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and launch toward the orbiting laboratory. The test flight is scheduled to lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:32 p.m. EDT (2032 GMT), and If all goes according to plan, the capsule will dock with the station about 19 hours later.

While NASA and SpaceX have been planning this Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission for years, there is one key aspect of this mission for which they do not yet have a plan: the amount of time that the astronauts will spend in space before heading back to Earth.

Related: Take a walk through SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship

Behnken and Hurley could spend anywhere from one month to 119 days at the International Space Station, but the exact duration of their mission won't be determined until they are already in orbit, NASA officials said in a mission briefing on Friday (May 1). So, they could be returning to Earth at the end of June or as late as Sept. 23.

To decide on a date for the return flight, NASA and SpaceX will be evaluating not only the state of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in orbit, but also the progress on SpaceX's Crew-1 capsule. That vehicle will carry the first operational flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will transport four astronauts of the Expedition 63/64 crew to the International Space Station. (So far, no launch date has been set for the Crew-1 mission; Demo-2 must return safely before Crew-1 will be able to fly.)

"Really the decision point is, hey, is Dragon healthy? Is the vehicle performing well, the Dragon that's on orbit? And then we'll be looking ahead to that next mission, the Crew-1 flight, and looking at the vehicle readiness and trying to determine what's the smart thing to do relative to the mission duration," Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said at the mission briefing.

"It's a little bit of a variable, but it's one that I think we can manage well," Stich said of the Crew-1 capsule status. "We would like to fly a mission that is as long as we need to for a test flight but also support some of the space station program needs and augment their crew capability to do science in other operations at the station."

Regardless of how the timing works out with the arrival of the Crew-1 mission, the Crew Dragon used for the Demo-2 mission cannot stay docked with the station for more than 119 days, Stich said, because its solar arrays are not designed to withstand degradation in space for more than 120 days.

"Any solar array in low Earth orbit tends to degrade a little bit over time," Stich said. "It turns out the atmosphere has a little bit of oxygen in it it's called atomic oxygen and so there's a little bit of degradation in the ability for the cells itself to generate power. And the particular cells on the trunk for a Dragon, based on analysis capability, kind of a worst-case prediction, we think we can get about 120 days capability out of those."

However, the operational version of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, like the one that will fly the Crew-1 mission, is designed to last 210 days in space. That matches the on-orbit lifespan of Russia's Soyuz crew capsules, which have ferried NASA astronauts to and from the space station since the space shuttle program ended almost a decade ago.

The Demo-2 mission comes a little over a year after SpaceX successfully launched an unpiloted Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station for the Demo-1 mission. If all goes well with Demo-2, SpaceX could begin regularly ferrying astronauts to and from the orbiting lab as early as this summer.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and onFacebook.

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How long will the 1st astronauts to ride SpaceX's Crew Dragon be in space? No one knows exactly (yet). - Space.com

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China to debut new version of powerful Long March 5 rocket this week – Spaceflight Now

Posted: May 4, 2020 at 11:01 pm

A view of the next-generation Chinese crew spacecraft during pre-launch processing. Credit: CCTV

A prototype for Chinas next-generation human-rated spacecraft flying on a test flight without astronauts is scheduled to ride a new version of the countrys heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket into orbit this week.

The Long March 5B rocket could take off as soon as Tuesday from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island in southern China, but Chinese officials have not officially announced the target launch date.

Riding a mobile launch platform, the heavy-duty rocket rolled to its launch pad at Wenchang on April 29 for final preparations before liftoff, according to reports and images from the launch site shared on social media. Once at the launch complex on Hainan Islands eastern coast, the Long March 5B was enclosed inside folding gantry structures inside a 300-foot-tall (92-meter) launch pad tower to give technicians access to the vehicle for final testing and inspections.

The 176-foot-tall (53.7-meter) Long March 5B rocket is a new version of the Long March 5 launcher, Chinas most powerful rocket. Designed to loft massive payloads into low Earth orbit, the Long March 5B rocket will launch without a second stage.

The launchers lift capability to low Earth orbit is around 48,500 pounds, or 22 metric tons, according to Chinese state media. Its tailored to launch large modules for Chinas planned space station.

The Long March 5Bs four liquid-fueled boosters, each powered by two kerosene-fed YF-100 engines, will power the rocket off the launch pad along with two YF-77 core stage engines burning cryogenic liquid hydrogen. The rocket will jettison the four booster modules around three minutes after liftoff, and the core stage engines will burn for approximately eight minutes.

The Long March 5B rocket will also debut a new large payload fairing measuring more than 67 feet (20.5 meters) long and 17 feet (5.2 meters) in diameter.The payload launching inside the Long March 5Bs new nose shroud is a prototype for Chinas next-generation crew capsule, designed to eventually replace the countrys Shenzhou spacecraft to ferry astronauts to a space station in Earth orbit.

The new capsule design is more capable than the Shenzhou, according to Chinese officials. It will be capable of carrying astronauts to the moon, and can accommodate up to six crew members at a time, more than the three astronauts that can fly on the Shenzhou, Chinese officials said.

In a different configuration, the crew capsule could launch and land with three astronauts, plus up to 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) of cargo, according to Chinas state-run Xinhua news agency.The capability will allow China to return research specimens and hardware from the countrys space station back to Earth.

The Shenzhou crew craft can return only a limited amount of cargo, and Chinas Tianzhou supply ship for the countrys planned space station is not designed to bring any cargo back to Earth.

Chinas next-generation crew carrier is also reusable for up to 10 flights, with a detachable heat shield built to handle higher-temperature returns through Earths atmosphere, such as those a capsule would encounter on a re-entry from a lunar mission.

The short-duration orbital test flight this week is expected to conclude with a re-entry and landing in remote northwestern China, perhaps as soon as one day after its launch on the Long March 5B rocket.Few details about the test flight have been released by the Chinese government.

The Xinhua news agency reported the primary purpose of the crew capsule test flight is to verify the ships re-entry technologies, such as its heat shield and recovery system. The capsule will return under parachutes and inflate airbags to cushion its landing on solid ground.

The Shenzhou landing module also returns under parachutes, but uses rocket thrusters to soften the blow of landing. That makes for a rougher ride for passengers.

With its propulsion and power module, the crew spacecraft measures nearly 29 feet (8.8 meters) long. It will weigh around 47,600 pounds (21.6 metric tons) fully loaded with equipment and propellant, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office, or CMSEO.

Chinese officials said earlier this year that the crew capsule on the Long March 5B test flight will be loaded with10 metric tons (22,000 pounds) of propellant, enabling extensive maneuvers in orbit. The fuel load will also match the spacecrafts weight to the expected launch weight of the Tianhe core module for Chinas space station, which is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

China launched a reduced-scale crew module on an unpiloted test flight in 2016.

Teams at the Wenchang launch base prepared the Long March 5B rocket and the prototype crew capsule for flight amid the coronavirus pandemic. Chinese state media said managers reduced staffing levels at the spaceport, and introduced telecommuting capabilities to allow some team members to participate in data reviews and meetings remotely.

China has conducted six space missions with astronauts since 2003. The most recent Shenzhou mission ended in November 2016 after a 32-day flight to the Chinese Tiangong 2 space lab with a two-man crew.

Plans to launch Chinas first Mars rover later this year could depend on the success of this weeks Long March 5B launch. A Long March 5 rocket in its previous configuration with an upper stage is scheduled to launch the robotic Mars mission in July.

Chinese officials last month announced the Mars mission will be named Tianwen 1. Tianwen, or Questions to Heaven, is a poem written by the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan. The China National Space Administration Chinas space agency said all of the countrys future planetary exploration missions will be named the Tianwen series.

Another Long March 5 rocket is scheduled to haul Chinas Change 5 robotic lunar mission into space later this year. Change 5 will attempt to retrieve samples from the moons surface and return them to Earth.

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SpaceX Moon Contract Could Be Worth $7 Billion — Or Nothing – The Motley Fool

Posted: at 11:01 pm

NASA's award of $1 billion in contracts to Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX to build landers to carry astronauts back to the moon is dominating headlines this week -- and don't get me wrong, this is a really big deal. But it pales in comparison to another NASA contract that SpaceX won just a little over a month ago.

That contract, to provide logistics services to a planned Lunar Gateway space station orbiting the moon, could be worth as much as $7 billion -- and SpaceX might not have to share it with anyone.

SpaceX has a contract to send supplies to a lunar space station -- but will there be a space station there to receive them? Image source: SpaceX.

As NASA described the larger contract award back in March, SpaceX will be hired to "deliver critical pressurized and unpressurized cargo, science experiments and supplies to the Gateway." Once delivered, these supplies would be stored at the space station for resupply to astronauts exploring the lunar surface. By bringing a supply depot closer to the astronauts' place of work, the Gateway should be able to support longer-duration exploration of the moon, enabling astronauts visiting Earth's satellite to stay there longer.

SpaceX's supply runs will include "multiple supply missions" over a term of somewhere between 12 and 15 years. Other companies may receive similar contracts, and according to NASA, the "maximum total value ... across all contracts" could add up to $7 billion over the entire performance term. But with SpaceX currently the only contractor named to perform the service, there seems to be a very real chance that SpaceX alone could end up collecting the entire $7 billion.

Or not.

You see, there's just one problem with the contract that NASA awarded SpaceX on March 27. It centers on what NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Doug Loverro had said about the moon mission two weeks prior to the contract award.

Specifically, in discussions with NASA Advisory Council's science committee on March 13, Loverro appeared to be less than enthusiastic about the idea of using a Lunar Gateway. Highlighting the difficulty of meeting Vice President Pence's mandate to land astronauts on the moon by 2024, Loverro said the best way to make that happen is to "remove all the things that add to program risk along the way." One such "thing" is the Lunar Gateway itself.

There is a "high possibility," explained Loverro, that NASA won't be able to complete construction of the space station in time for astronauts to use it as a base from which to descend to, and ascend from, the moon in 2024. Moreover, "from a physics perspective," said Loverro, "I can guarantee you we do not need it for this launch." (He's also not particularly enamored of NASA's original plan "to launch a lander in three individual pieces that have to meet up at" an orbiting space station before making their final approach to the moon.)

Simply put, it's simpler and thus less risky to send astronauts straight from Earth to the moon and back than to have them make pit stops at an orbiting space station en route. Indeed, the Starship spaceship that SpaceX is building in Texas is expressly designed to make such direct flights possible, and intermediate steps such as the Gateway unnecessary.

Perversely, this means that if SpaceX's Starship is eventually chosen as the spaceship that takes astronauts back to the moon, it could make the Lunar Gateway -- and $7 billion worth of "logistics services" contracts to supply the Lunar Gateway -- unnecessary. There's a very real possibility that in building Starship, SpaceX could be working itself out of a $7 billion job!

If that were to happen -- if Lunar Gateway gets deemed unnecessary and never built -- it wouldn't just be bad news for SpaceX, either. Other space contractors, including those hired by NASA's international partners and also America's own Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman, both of which have been awarded contracts to build elements of the Lunar Gateway, could lose out as well.

Then again, with many companies in addition to SpaceX having vested interests (and valuable contracts) in the Lunar Gateway, NASA could end up building the thing anyway. Maybe not in time to facilitate the actual first trip by astronauts (back) to the moon, but later on -- because even after the astronauts arrive, the arguments in favor of establishing an orbital supply depot might still have merit.

In that regard, Loverro noted that he thinks the Lunar Gateway would help make lunar exploration missions "sustainable," and so he believes "100% positively it will be" built eventually if this can be done at a reasonable cost. But even so, this leaves open the possibility that a budget-conscious NASA may end up deciding the cost is not reasonable ... especially if SpaceX succeeds in building a spaceship that makes space stations irrelevant.

If you ask me, once that first spaceship bypasses a space station to touch down on the moon independently, a lot of folks (in NASA, and certainly in Congress) are going to start wondering whether spending extra billions to build a Lunar Gateway might be an unnecessary extravagance.

At that point, the clock will start ticking on Lunar Gateway -- and all the contracts tied to it -- going away forever.

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An astronaut spotted SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites from the International Space Station – CNBC

Posted: April 21, 2020 at 3:45 am

A photo taken by an astronaut from the International Space Station on April 13, 2020.

NASA

An astronaut on the International Space Stationlast week captured a unique view of SpaceX's Starlink satellites photographing a group of the satellites in space, from space.

Starlink isSpaceX's plan to build a network of about 12,000 small satellites to provide high-speed internet to anywhere in the world.The company has launched 360 Starlink satellites in the past year and aims to begin offering early, limited service later in 2020.

The train of Starlink satellites that were photographed areSpaceX's fifth Starlink launch.

A cropped and edited photo shows the trail of Starlink satellites in this photo taken by an astronaut from the International Space Station on April 13, 2020.

NASA

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, shared a data visualization of the locations of the Starlink satellites when the photo was taken.

The location of SpaceX's Starlink satellites (red) compared to the International Space Station (blue) on April 13, 2020.

Jonathan McDowell

Starlink is an ambitious project that will require billions in capital to succeed, given the costs of building the required ground infrastructure in addition to the hardware and operating costs of the satellites in space.SpaceX has said it expects it will cost about $10 billion or more to build the Starlink network.

Starlink will make the company the world's largest satellite operator by number of spacecraft.If SpaceX can overcome the technological challenges of building and distributing this service, the company is optimistic on its potential demand and revenue. SpaceX CEOElon Muskin May told reportersthat Starlink could bring in revenue of $30 billion a year or about 10 times the highest annual revenue it expects from its core rocket business.

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Astronauts Return to Earth From International Space Station – EcoWatch

Posted: at 3:45 am

In Africa, for example, there are fewer than 2,000 working ventilators in public hospitals across 41 African countries, the World Health Organization says, compared with more than 170,000 in the U.S., as The New York Times reported.

Ten countries in Africa have none at all.

Somalia's Health Ministry has none. The Central African Republic has three. South Sudan has four, which is one fewer than the number of vice presidents it has. Liberia has five. Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million, has fewer than 100, as The Washington Post reported.

The paltry number of ventilators across the continent means that patients who appear at hospitals with the most severe acute respiratory symptoms from the novel coronavirus have little chance of surviving. While the number of ventilators is expected to increase as donations trickle in, few doctors across the continent have had the extensive training necessary to use them. Also, the ventilators usually require an anesthesiologist to intubate patients, or at least supervise the process, but anesthesiologists are scarce in Africa, according to The Washington Post.

The shortage of ventilators, training and specialists required to make them functional is only part of the massive shortage in resources that poorer countries face during the global pandemic. Health officials have also warned about a dire shortage of oxygen and masks. Even soap and water are in short supply.

According to the United Nations, only 15 percent of sub-Saharan Africans had access to basic hand-washing facilities in 2015. In Liberia, UN numbers showed that in 2017, 97 percent of homes did not have access to soap and clean water, according to The New York Times.

"The things that people need are simple things," said Kalipso Chalkidou, the director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development, a research group, as The New York Times reported. "Not high-tech things."

As of Saturday, there were more than 21,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,000 deaths across the continent. The World Health Organization said that the virus appears to be spreading away from Africa's capital cities. The UN Economic Commission for Africa warned that 300,000 could die and called for a $100 billion safety net for the continent, including halting external debt payments, as the BBC reported.

"Anywhere between 300,000 and 3.3 million African people could lose their lives as a direct result of COVID-19, depending on the intervention measures taken to stop the spread," the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa said in a report released Friday.

The problem, according to the UN agency, rests partly with the layout and infrastructure of some of Africa's biggest cities, where the majority of the urban population lives in overcrowded neighborhoods without reliable access to hand-washing facilities, as NPR reported.

"We are now failing. Let me use that word deliberately," said Mahad Hassan, one of Somalia's few epidemiologists and a member of the government's coronavirus task force, as The Washington Post reported. "At our main treatment center, almost nothing is there. Last time I visited, beds, only beds. No oxygen, no ventilators."

Liberia's minister of information explained to The New York Times that attempts to procure medical equipment run into problems like wealthier countries hoarding supplies, bidding against other governments, and price gouging by suppliers.

"We keep fighting with our neighbors and the big countries. Even having a contract is not a guarantee we're going to get a supply," Eugene Nagbe, the minister of information said. One vendor, after entering a contract, turned around and raised the price from the agreed-upon $15,000 per ventilator to $24,000, he added, as The New York Times reported.

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Astronauts Return to Earth From International Space Station - EcoWatch

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NASA to launch astronauts to space station from US soil for the first time in a decade – WESTERNMASSNEWS.com

Posted: at 3:45 am

(CNN) -- Next month, human spaceflight will return to US soil after nearly a decade.

NASA announced Friday that SpaceX will launch astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a mission to the International Space Station on Wednesday, May 27 at 4:32 p.m. ET. Liftoff will be from Florida's Kennedy Space Center marking the first time a rocket will carry astronauts into orbit from the United States since NASA's Space Shuttle program retired in 2011.

It will also be the first crewed mission for SpaceX since its founding 18 years ago.

Because of Covid-19, however, there will be no crowds of spectators lining the beaches and viewing sites along Florida's Space Coast to watch the craft hurtle toward the ISS, as they have for the launch of nearly every crewed US mission since Alan Shepard became the first American to reach space in 1961.

Only a limited number of reporters will be allowed on site, and NASA said it will not host any members of the public.

"This has become yet another footnote in the story of coronavirus and its impact on America," said Dale Ketcham, a vice president at Space Florida, a local industry group. "But NASA is continuing to press ahead with Commercial Crew because there is a profound obligation to keep space station operational."

NASA has shut down many of its activities in response to coronavirus, but it has maintained all ISS-related activity. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan returned from their stay on the space station aboard a Russian spacecraft on Friday.

The ISS has continually hosted a rotating crew of astronauts from all over the world since 2000. The United States and Russia are the space station's primary operators, but since 2011, Russia has been the only country capable of transporting astronauts to and from the ISS.

NASA has paid up to $86 million per seat and about $55.4 million on average to fly US astronauts aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, according to the space agency's inspector general.

Years ago, NASA asked the private sector to develop a new generation of crew-worthy spacecraft. SpaceX was allotted $2.6 billion and Boeing was awarded $4.2 billion in 2014, and the space agency initially predicted their vehicles would be ready to fly astronauts by 2017. But development of both spacecraft took years longer than expected.

The companies were neck-in-neck, but SpaceX emerged as the clear leader after completing a successful test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft's emergency abort system in January. Less than a month earlier, Boeing's Starliner spacecraft suffered major setbacks during an uncrewed orbital flight test. The company has since said it will repeat that test mission in the fall.

The Crew Dragon mission in May, dubbed Demo-2, will be the final test for Crew Dragon before NASA transitions to operational crewed flights to the space station using the spacecraft.

Hurley and Behnken are both former military test pilots and veteran astronauts who previously flew on space shuttle missions.

After launching on May 27, they will spend as many as 110 days in space, though NASA said the "specific mission duration will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch."

They'll return on the Crew Dragon capsule, which will navigate back through Earth's atmosphere and splash down just off Florida's Atlantic Coast.

Though the US space agency paid the companies to develop their vehicles, Starliner and Crew Dragon are privately owned and operated. Unlike previous human spaceflight programs, NASA is essentially a customer of the companies.

SpaceX and Boeing have both announced plans to fly tourists aboard the spacecraft alongside NASA astronauts.

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