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Category Archives: Space Station

Balloon trips to the edge of space by 2021 – CNN

Posted: July 5, 2020 at 9:44 am

(CNN) If you're trying to avoid airborne viruses, heading to a near vacuum might not be the worst idea.

A Florida company is planning to fly passengers to the edge of space in a high-tech version of a hot air balloon, with a pilot and up to eight travelers riding in a pressurized capsule suspended from an enormous blimp.

Human space flight company Space Perspective has scheduled the test flight of its Spaceship Neptune for early 2021, from the auspicious surroundings of the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

That test flight will be uncrewed and carrying research payloads, but Space Perspective hopes that in a few years it'll also be taking space tourists on six-hour sightseeing jaunts, with a refreshment bar and social media capabilities to hand.

"We're committed to fundamentally changing the way people have access to space -- both to perform much-needed research to benefit life on Earth and to affect how we view and connect with our planet," said Space Perspective founder and co-CEO Jane Poynter in a release.

The six-hour trips will involve a two-hour gentle ascent above 99% of the Earth's atmosphere to 100,000 feet -- an experience, Space Perspective says, only enjoyed so far by 20 people in human history.

There'll be another leisurely two hours for passengers to enjoy the 360-degree views from the cabin before the spaceship makes its two-hour descent to the ocean, where it will splash down safely. Voyage to shore will be completed by ship.

"We looked at all the different elements that would make the experience not just memorable, but truly comfortable as well," Nigel Goode, designer and cofounder of PriestmanGoode said in a release. "We wanted to make sure that passengers would be able to get 360-degree unobstructed views and that we created an efficient space that would enable them to move around during the journey."

The capsule is five meters in diameter, while the polyethylene balloon above has a 100-meter diameter when fully inflated, about the length of a football field.

Spaceship Neptune's test flight will be from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

Courtesy PriestmanGoode

Space Perspective claims that the process will be simple as boarding an airplane and that the capsule's pressurized capsule offers what it describes as a "shirt-sleeves environment" (although with its plans to host weddings and other events, it could also be black-tie).

The lavatory, it claims, is "the loo with the best view in the known universe," and is located in the center of the capsule in the splashdown cone.

Space Perspective's co-founders Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum previously designed the air, food and water systems for the Biosphere 2 space base, in which they lived for two years.

"Our advanced space-balloon is designed to operate in the near vacuum found at the edge of space," says Space Perspective's website. "NASA has used similar balloons for decades for flying large research telescopes."

As helium is in limited supply and needed for critical medical applications, Spaceship Neptune uses hydrogen. "The lift gas inside the balloon is lighter than air and allows Neptune to float on top of the Earth's atmosphere like an ice cube on water," Says Space Perspective.

Paul R. La Monica and Jackie Wattles contributed to this report

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SpaceX is launching an advanced GPS satellite for the US Space Force today. Here’s how to watch. –

Posted: at 9:44 am

Editor's note: SpaceX is now targeting 4:10 p.m. EDT (2010 GMT) for today's GPS satellite launch.

Original Story:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. SpaceX is gearing up to launch a Falcon 9 rocket today, June 30, to deliver an upgraded global positioning satellite (GPS) into orbit for the U.S. Space Force and you can watch it live online.

The flight, the California-based rocket builder's 11th launch this year, is scheduled to blast off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida during a 15-minute window that opens at 3:55 p.m. (1955 GMT).

You can watch the launch live here and on the homepage, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning about 15 minutes before liftoff. You'll also be able to watch the launch directly from SpaceX here.

Related: The U.S. GPS satellite network explained

This is SpaceX's third launch this month and the third launch of an upgraded next-generation GPS III satellite to date. The first launched on a different Falcon 9 rocket in December 2018, while the second launched atop the very last Delta IV Medium in August 2019. SpaceX has secured the next few launches as the military works to upgrade the aging network.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the new batch of satellites are the most powerful ever made, thanks to onboard anti-jamming capabilities and new technology that will produce signals that are three times more accurate and up to eight times more powerful than previous iterations.

In stark contrast to the Starlink launches earlier this month, which featured used Falcon 9 boosters, a shiny new Falcon 9 is the star of today's mission a requirement set by the Air Force. The booster, dubbed B1060, will carry an advanced global positioning satellite into orbit to replace an aging satellite that was launched 20 years ago.

Related: China launches final Beidou satellite for GPS-like navigation system

This mission is SpaceX's first for the U.S. Space Force, under the recently established U.S. Space Force, which was signed into existence by President Donald Trump in December 2019. The Space Force will operate under the Department of the Air Force, and will oversee all space operations.

The mission also marks the first time the company will attempt to launch and land a booster as part of a national security launch. During the last GPS III mission in 2018, SpaceX flew its Falcon 9 in an expendable configuration without grid fins or landing legs and did not recover the first stage like it typically does. But the company received approval from the Space Force to recover the first stage.

To that end, SpaceX's drone ship Just Read the Instructions departed Port Canaveral over the weekend in advance of its planned recovery attempt. The ship is stationed 394 miles (634 kilometers) down range in the Atlantic Ocean, awaiting the Falcon 9's first stage as it returns to Earth approximately 8 minutes after liftoff.

Today's launch comes just days after SpaceX had to stand down from what would have been its third Starlink flight this month. That mission featured a veteran of SpaceXs fleet of gently used Falcon rockets. The booster would have been the companys third to fly five times. However, the company postponed the launch citing the need for additional pre-flight testing.

That mission was set to loft 57 internet-beaming satellites to help build SpaceXs megaconstellation called Starlink, along with two Earth-observing satellites for BlackSky. The flight was part of SpaceX's new rideshare program, which was kicked off on June 13 when 58 Starlink satellites were launched with a trio of small satellites for the Earth-imaging company Planet.

The weather for today's launch looks promising, as meteorologists predict a 60% chance of favorable conditions at liftoff. It's summer in Florida and that means afternoon thunderstorms could be an issue. According to weather officials, the main concerns are storm clouds, which have the potential for producing lightning a launch hazard.

SpaceX's two fairing catchers, GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief, are stationed out in the recovery zone. It's unclear if SpaceX will attempt to catch the fairings as they fall back to Earth, or if they will just scoop up them up after they land in the water.

The company has been successful in its attempts to reuse more of the rocket. The rockets nose cone, also known as a payload fairing, accounts for approximately 10% of the cost of the rocket. By reusing them, SpaceX could save as much as $6 million per flight.

Follow Amy Thompson on Twitter @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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Boeing shifts its team leaders for space station and Starliner space programs – GeekWire

Posted: June 20, 2020 at 10:12 am

Boeings John Mulholland gives a briefing to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a visit to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2018. Hardware for Boeings CST-100 Starliner space taxi can be seen in the background. (NASA Photo / Kim Shiflett)

As a new commercial-centric era dawns for the International Space Station, Boeing is realigning its top managers for the space station program and for the program thats working to send Starliner capsules there and back.

Mark Mulqueen, who has served as Boeings space station program manager since 2015, will be retiring July 2. During his 35 years at Boeing, Mulqueen has served in a variety of management positions for example, as deputy program manager for the space station and deputy program manager for the commercial crew program.

Boeing has served as the prime contractor for the U.S. segment of the International Space Station since its inception. The orbital outpost will mark 20 years of continuous occupation this November.

Mark has made an immense contribution to Boeings human spaceflight programs, and his legacy will endure well beyond his departure, Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing Space and Launch, said in an email to employees announcing todays management changes.

John Mulholland will take on the role of vice president and program manager for the International Space Station, effective June 26. Since 2011, Mulholland has led the design and development of the CST-100 Starliner space taxi, which is meant to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

NASA awarded Boeing a $4.2 billion fixed-price contract in 2014 to develop the Starliner as part of a commercial space transport system in the wake of the space shuttle fleets retirement in 2011. SpaceX won a similar contract worth $2.6 billion for the development of its Crew Dragon capsule, which sent NASA astronauts to the station for the first time last month.

Starliner took on an uncrewed test flight to orbit last December, but a timing glitch foiled Boeings plan to go all the way to the space station and back. A joint NASA-Boeing independent review turned up dozens of fixes that had to be made. Another uncrewed trial is expected later this year and assuming that flight goes well, Starliners first crewed trip to the station would take place next year.

In a financial report issued in January, Boeing said it would take a $410 million pre-tax charge against earnings to cover the cost of a second uncrewed flight.

Before taking on his role with the Starliner program, Mulholland was vice president and program manager for Boeings part of the space shuttle program. (The prime contractor for the shuttle program was United Space Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture.)

Effective June 26, John Vollmer will take on Mulhollands role as vice president and program manager for the CST-100 Starliner program.

Vollmer joined the Starliner program this year to support the implementation of recommendations from the independent review team. Vollmer previously served as chief engineer on the space station program.

His experience with the space station goes back 33 years, to Boeings first contract award for the program. He was a member of the station redesign team in 1993, when Space Station Freedom was reworked to accommodate Russian participation. Vollmer also served as the launch package stage manager for the stations first U.S. element, which was launched in 1998 and is now known as the Unity node.

Their leadership will help us rise to the challenges before us and the opportunities ahead as we advance Boeings 60-year legacy in human spaceflight, Chilton said.

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The International Space Station is getting a new toilet this year –

Posted: at 10:12 am

Later this year, if all goes well, the International Space Station will receive a very important delivery: a new and improved toilet system.

It has a fancier name, of course; officially, the commode is NASA's Universal Waste Management System (UWMS). The system is designed to bridge the gap between current lavatorial space technology and what humans will need to make extended visits to, say, Mars, in comfort. But there's nothing like a plumbing problem to make any trip seem much longer than it is, so before engineers take UWMS that far from the comforts of home, they want to test it in orbit.

The launch is targeted for no earlier than the fall, a NASA spokesperson confirmed to, although the agency is still determining what spacecraft will carry the new plumbing up.

Related: International Space Station at 20: A photo tour

In the long term, the new toilet is meant to prepare waste-management engineers for some of the challenges experts anticipate on future missions, Jim Broyan, a deputy program manager for Environmental Control and Life Support Technology and Crew Health and Performance at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said during a meeting of the Committee on Space Research, or COSPAR, on May 20.

The meeting focused on what human missions to Mars mean for planetary protection, the practice of looking to protect both Earth and the rest of the solar system from cross-contamination by living organisms. Waste collection and storage are ripe for such cross-contamination, of course, since human waste is full of microbes. So future Mars visitors won't necessarily be able to take the approach of Apollo astronauts on the moon, who simply left bags of human waste on the lunar surface.

For Mars missions, which by necessity will be much longer flights, volume is another challenge. Broyan said that current estimates suggest Mars missions would need to manage about 600 lbs. (270 kilograms) of solid waste, about 75% of which is water.

Those challenges mean that before humans head to Mars, waste-management experts have, well, a bucket list, Broyan said. "Our future goals are to stabilize and dry the metabolic waste to make it microbially inactive and possibly reuse that water, reduce the amount of consumables for the potty, because it does really accumulate on a long mission, and we're also looking at, Can we reuse some of the waste?"

And while the current standard practice of adding stench-dampening charcoal to fecal containers and storing those containers on the ship works now, for longer missions it is less appealing and may require too much mass.

The new station-bound toilet won't tackle all of those challenges single-handedly, but it will improve on previous NASA designs for the shuttle and space station and incorporate crew feedback about those systems. The UWMS is also crucial to support the larger population on the U.S. side of the space station that the coming rise in commercial crew missions will facilitate, according to NASA.

The toilet currently on offer on the U.S. side of the space station was designed in the 1990s and based on its shuttle counterpart, according to a detailed review of space toiletry. But the apparatus has its flaws. It can be clunky to use, particularly for women, and it is "sensitive to crew alignment on the seat," sometimes resulting in messes, according to that review.

So NASA has tried to keep the aspects that have gotten positive reviews while trimming mass and volume and making some design changes, like adjusting the shape of the seat and replacing the apparatus that compresses the waste.

Another change mimics a feature of the toilet on the Russian side of the space station, where astronauts simply hook their feet into toe bars, rather than the thigh bars used on the American equivalent to anchor the astronaut in the microgravity environment.

The UWMS will remain on the space station for the rest of the orbiting laboratory's lifetime, and a second toilet of the same model will fly on the Orion capsule that astronauts use to fly around the moon on the first crewed Artemis mission in NASA's ambitious lunar return plan, according to the agency.

Email Meghan Bartels at or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Astronauts: Falcon 9 rocket was totally different ride than the space shuttle – WITI FOX 6 Milwaukee

Posted: at 10:12 am

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was a pure flying machine compared to the space shuttle, according to the astronauts who rode it into space.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken piloted the first manned flight of the Falcon 9 on May 30. Each astronaut had previously been onon two space shuttle missions, and they spoke of their surprise at how comparatively smooth the SpaceX launch was.

From the time the engines lit, the first two-and-a-half minutes to staging was about like we expected, except you can never simulate the Gs, so as the Gs built you could certainly feel those, Hurley toldSpaceflight Now. What I thought was really neat was how sensitive we were to the throttling of the Merlin engines. That was really neat. You could definitely sense that as we broke Mach 1.

He added: We didnt even need to look at the speed. You could tell just by how the rocket felt, so its a very pure flying machine.

Remember, [the]shuttle had solid rocket boosters to start with, Hurley said. Those burned very rough for the first two-and-a-half minutes. The first stage with Falcon 9 were the nine Merlin engines. It was a much smoother ride, obviously, because it was a liquid engine ascent.

Liquid engine ascent is a reference to the mix of super-chilled kerosene and cryogenic liquid oxygen propellants consumed by the Merlin engines.

After the smooth launch, the astronauts said the second stage felt a bitrougher.

The biggest difference is just the dynamics that are involved, the vibration, the experiences that we felt actually riding a real rocket, Behnken said.

It will be interesting to walk with the SpaceX folks to find out why it was a little bit rougher ride on the second stage than it was for shuttle on those three main engines, Hurley added.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft was developed to largely function autonomously, handling all prep and docking with the International Space Station following the 19-hour flight.

NASA is also working with Boeing on itsmanned Starlinercapsule, which is expected to launch early next year.

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Astronauts and NASA pay homage to Juneteenth –

Posted: at 10:12 am

Astronauts and NASA have taken to social media to commemorate today's Juneteenth holiday from Earth and space.

Juneteenth, also known as African American Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, marks the date June 19, 1865 when tens of thousands of Africa-Americans in Texas were emancipated. While President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863 freed slaves in U.S., many of the Confederate states ignored it.

But, two years later, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, a Union Army general, issued orders to free the enslaved people in what was then the reclaimed confederate territory of Texas, which was one of the final acts of emancipation in the country.

NASA, former NASA astronauts Mae Jemison, Leland Melvin and current NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps are memorializing the day and their thoughts online.

Related:Charles Bolden, NASA's 1st Black administrator, speaks out on systemic racism

NASA shared an image of Texas from spaceof Galveston, Texas with a caption commemorating the holiday. "#Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, learned of their emancipation. In this view from space, Galveston is seen from the @Space_Station. Today we reflect on how far we've come and how much further we have to go," the agency wrote on Twitter.

More: NASA's SpaceX launch is not the cure for racial injustice on Earth

Melvin, who served as a mission specialist on two Space Shuttle missions STS-122 and STS-129, shared a beautiful tribute to the day that included not only a short history lesson but a snapshot with a number of people of color who have had a significant, lasting impact on the space sector and on the world.

Melvin wrote on Twitter: "Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when General Major Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and read a federal order abolishing the institution of chattel slavery in the state."

He also shared a photo of himself standing with people including NASA astronaut Victor Glover, who is set to become the first black astronaut to join the International Space Station Crew when he launches with SpaceX's Crew-1 mission later this year; Epps; NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson and even Nichelle Nichols, who famously played Nyota Uhura in the original "Star Trek" series.

Epps retweeted Melvin's sentiment and added "Happy Juneteenth! Its a very important day to celebrate."

Jemison also included important historical details in her tribute to the holiday. On Twitter she wrote: "#Juneteenth recognizes & celebrates Black peoples freedom and the end of slavery in the US! 19 Jun 1865 Union Army General issued orders to free enslaved people in the retaken confederate territory of Texas 2 years after Lincoln signed the #EmancipationProclamation 1 Jan 1863."

Email Chelsea Gohd at or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Green glow seen in the atmosphere of Mars, similar to Earth’s from space station – Firstpost

Posted: at 10:12 am

FP TrendingJun 19, 2020 14:29:52 IST

Astronomers have identified a green glow in the Martian atmosphere,not unlike the glow observed by astronauts from the space station when they look towards the Earth.

According to a BBC report, the glow comes from oxygen atoms when they get excited by sunlight. While it has long been predicted to occur on other planets, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which is a joint European-Russian satellite at Mars, is the first to make the observation outside Earth.

"Youd never plan a mission to go look for this kind of thing. Today, we have to be very clear about the science were going to do before we get to Mars," Dr Manish Patel from UK's Open University said, speaking aboutthe finding."But having got there, we thought, well, lets have a look. And it worked."

Artist's impression of the TGO at Mars. The TGO detects the excited oxygen not with an imaging camera (hence no pretty pictures) but with its Nomad spectrometer package. This instrument sees the oxygen at very particular altitudes. Image: ESA

The study's results, published in the journalNature Astronomy,add that the emissions are a consequence of collisions between atmospheric molecules and charged particles that are racing away from the Sun. On Earth, these interactions are heavily influenced by theplanet's strong magnetic field, which pulls the particles down towards the two magnetic poles.

In a statement by the European Space Agency, lead author Jean-Claude Gerard of the Universite de Liege in Belgium said, One of the brightest emissions seen on Earth stems from night glow. More specifically, from oxygen atoms emitting a particular wavelength of light that has never been seen around another planet.

The statement also points out that this emission has been predicted to exist at Mars for around 40 years.

Astronauts aboard the ISS in 2011 saw a green band of oxygen glow is visible over Earths curve. On the surface, portions of northern Africa are visible, with evening lights shining along the Nile river and its delta. Image: NASA

Jean-Claude and the team were able to spot the emission using NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery) and including the ultraviolet and visible spectrometer (UVIS).

Co-author of the study Ann Carine Vandaele, Principal Investigator of NOMAD, said that the study's authors decided to point at the edge of Mars and found emission at an altitude of around 80 kilometres, which also depended on the changing distance between Mars and the Sun.

Understanding the properties of the Mars atmosphere is key towards operating missions to the planet, USA Todayreported.

According to theESA, studying the glow of the planetary atmospheres can provide a host of information about its composition and dynamics,even revealing how energy is deposited in it by both the suns light and solar wind.

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

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Astronaut and Maine Native Jessica Meir Talks About Experience in Space – NECN

Posted: at 10:12 am

It's been two months since astronaut and Maine native Jessica Meir returned from space and now the Caribou native is speaking out about what it was like to be a member of the first all-female spacewalk.

Meir, who was first selected by NASA in 2013, had a childhood dream of going to space.

From 2019 to 2020, she got to serve as a flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 61 and 62.

Over the past year, and particularly since the beginning of her time on the ISS in 2019, Meir said she found herself in a variety of situations she didn't necessarily expect.

Those moments have included giving tips on isolation for people stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, making appearances on late night talk shows and getting serenaded by one of her favorite bands, The National.

But it was the spacewalk that made a lot of national headlines, when she and fellow astronaut, Christina Koch, donned space suits and went outside the ISS to do maintenance and keep the orbiting lab functional.

During the time she and Koch were doing that work, Meir says the priority was just that. The work.

She had a job to do and, as she points out, the class of astronauts she was part of in 2013, was also the first to have 50% men and 50% women.

By the numbers, Meir says everyone should expect to see more women on more NASA missions and notes the agency has committed to putting a woman on the Moon.

Still, she'll also tell you that just because space can be a physical and emotional vacuum when you're working in it, with inches of a protective suit between you and death, there are moments of reflection after the hatch closes.

"It was a very proud and humbling moment," she said, during an interview with NECN and NBC10 Boston on Friday.

She explained that she and Koch, "were quite overwhelmed by the level of excitement for it on the ground" and that the experience wasn't necessarily something she had expected.

The credit for the achievement, however, Meir says, actually goes to all of the previous NASA astronauts whose shoulders, Meir feels she stands on.

"That spacewalk had really nothing to do with Christina and myself," she said. "That was really for all these women that came before us."

In the present and on Earth, Meir has continued contributing to efforts for future efforts, who Meir believes will be from many diverse backgrounds, as they prepare for more private-sector supported space travel along with missions to the Moon and Mars.

In particular, Meir is looking forward to the publication of a paper she worked on about an experiment in space to find different ways to combat muscular and skeletal atrophy.

She explained that the zero-gravity environment in space takes a heavy toll on an animal's muscles and bones, which, in turn, would make a long space flight to somewhere like Mars rather difficult since a spacecraft making that journey would likely be smaller and not have room for the exercise equipment Meir had access to stay healthy on the ISS.

A third of all humans currently in space are from the state of Maine. Last week, York native Chris Cassidy joined Caribou native Jessica Meir on the International Space Station who will be preparing to head back to Earth.

"There was one experiment using a mice model that has applications not only for long-term space flight but also to many disease states on the ground, conditions where people have problems with their muscular and skeletal systems," Meir said.

"That's actually yielded some incredibly interesting results and we've recently just submitted a paper to publish those results. You'll have to stay tuned just a little bit longer," she added.

Waiting a bit longer is something Meir quickly realized she too would be doing after landing in Kazakhstan in April.

Because of COVID-19, her mother was unable to fly to Houston to see her in person as planned and Meir hasn't been able to fly to Maine either.

"I still haven't seen my mom," she said. "Outside of [her] friends in the local area, I haven't seen any of my family or friends and that's been disappointing and difficult for me to deal with but it's something that everybody is having to deal with."

Meir says keeping her family and friends healthy by not traveling to them is more important right now.

While she stays grounded, Meir is also waiting to find out if she will be selected for any of NASA's upcoming missions to the Moon or beyond.

As she pointed out, the decision is not hers, but if possible she would get on a rocket tomorrow to return to space.

"To go to the Moon, that is really my next great dream and there's a chance that could happen," she said.

In the meantime, Meir says she's going to appreciate everything she missed while she was in orbit, a list that includes the friends she can see right now, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt at breakfast and salads.

She is also thinking about what she will do when she eventually returns to Maine and thinking of all the people she wants to thank in person.

"New England has always played such a special part of my life, I was living and working in Boston before I got this job and spent all of my first years in Maine and spent all of my first 18 years in Maine," she said.

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They Want to Sell Balloon Rides 19 Miles Up. Havent We Heard This Before? – The New York Times

Posted: at 10:12 am

That is only about one-third of the way to the 62-mile altitude that is often considered the boundary of outer space, but it is still high enough to see that our planet is indeed round. Ms. Poynter said the price for a ride would be more expensive than the $75,000 that World View had planned to charge, probably about $125,000.

The new design is simplified. Instead of trying to steer by finding winds blowing in the desired direction, Space Perspectives balloon will lift off and head in the direction of that days winds. By letting out some of the hydrogen that makes the balloon lighter than air, the craft slowly descends to a splashdown in either the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.

The craft will have a parachute to allow a safe return if the balloon somehow deflated.

Ms. Poynter said Space Perspective has to obtain enough investment for its initial development work, including an uncrewed test flight in the first quarter of next year. If all goes according to plan, the first flights with passengers might take off around the beginning of 2025, nearly a decade after the target date the founders had set for World View.

In addition to World View, Ms. Poynter and Mr. MacCallum have attempted other ambitious space projects. They worked on the balloon and craft that lifted Alan Eustace, a Google executive, to near the top of the stratosphere for a successful record-setting parachute dive in 2014.

They also collaborated with Dennis Tito, an entrepreneur who is one of the few private citizens to visit the International Space Station, on Inspiration Mars, a private endeavor to launch two people on a flyby of the red planet. That proved out of reach because available rockets were not powerful enough.

We have done a lot of hard things in our day, Mr. MacCallum said, and some have worked out and some of them havent. And, some of them were, Wouldnt it be fantastic? Maybe low probability, but worth giving it a shot like Inspiration Mars.

Ms. Poynter said a marketing study that Space Perspective commissioned found that roughly 2 million people would be interested in their balloon trips, potentially a market worth a quarter of a trillion dollars.

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Students chat with the ISS from their homes – Brentsville District High

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Antietam Elementary School students talk with the International Space Station through a multipoint telebridge

Antietam Elementary School students talked with Commander Chris Cassidy through Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) in the first-ever virtual multipoint telebridge. Six students asked Cassidy questions during the short time frame that was allotted for the event.

Throughout the school year, ARISS assists with connecting schools to the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Normally, at a school site, students would gather in one room to participate. A licensed amateur radio operator would set-up equipment at the school that would connect students to the ISS at a scheduled time. However, this year, with the closure of schools, ARISS found a way to add the element of connecting students virtually from their homes. The solution was building a multipoint telebridge.

Antietam Elementary Gifted Education Teacher Kathy Lamont, who is also a member of the ARISS education and executive committee, volunteered Antietam students to take part in the first multipoint telebridge with the ISS. From their homes, each student dialed into a conference call and logged into ARISS newly created YouTube channel. From his home in Rhode Island, Steve Rys was the master control of the live YouTube feed, which included a graphic depiction tracking the location of the ISS. The channel also served as a way to share informational videos with students about ARISS and the technology used to conduct space chats with the ISS.

John Kludt, based at his home in Atlanta, Georgia, served as the program moderator. Kludt kept tabs on the ISS, shared information and introduced Fred Kemmerer, the radio operator responsible for making contact with the ISS. Kemmerer used his 40-foot antenna at his home in New Hampshire to contact Cassidy aboard the ISS. Rys shared a live video feed of the ISS as it started flying over Canada.

The students and volunteers were excited as the time drew closer to begin contact with the ISS, which would only be in range of Kemmerers radio signal for about 10 minutes.

November Alpha One Sierra Sierra this is Alpha Bravo One Oscar Charlie, any copy? Kemmerer called out. After several attempts, Kemmerer switched from his primary channel, then to his back-up channel and back to his primary channel. Five minutes had past before Kemmerer called his contact at NASA in Huntsville, Alabama. Cassidy was having technical difficulties with the radio on-board the ISS. Determined to have a successful space chat for the Antietam students, Kemmerer continued to call and finally made contact.

Miles, a second-grader, was the first to ask Cassidy a question, What does the sun look like from outer space? He can barely be heard through the teleconference connection. Kemmerer asked Miles to repeat the question and the audio was still hard to understand.

Cassidy, who had a list of the questions, volunteered to answer them. In response to Miles he said, Good question Miles. The sun is the same exact appearance that we see on Earth. Its the same size and the same intensity, although we dont have the protection of the atmosphere, so its very, very bright for us.

Cassidy continues with the next question, which is from Henry, a kindergartner, who asked, How comfortable is it to sleep in space? The astronaut explained that they float inside sleeping bags tied to a wall and once they get use to not having a pillow, its very comfortable.

Kemmerer chimes in asking Cassidy to stand-by, then asks Catherine, a kindergartener, to ask her question. Despite some static, the question can be heard by Cassidy. Two more student questions were heard and answered by Cassidy before the ISS moved out of the range of Kemmerers antenna.

Lamont was excited to provide this opportunity for students.

I love being able to connect students to real activities and real careers. Anything that gets students more aware of their surroundings and shows them that they are a part of the much larger community is key, she shared.

Check out the video to hear Antietam students making history by talking to an astronaut aboard the ISS from their homes. ARISS has also shared the full program on their YouTube channel.

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Students chat with the ISS from their homes - Brentsville District High

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