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Boeing's Starliner encounters propulsion problems on way to ISS
By Issam AHMED
Washington (AFP) May 20, 2022

starliner-side-view-earth-orbit-marker-hg.jpg

American aerospace giant Boeing's Starliner capsule was heading for the International Space Station Thursday, in a critical uncrewed test flight that followed years of failures and false starts.

The spacecraft encountered some propulsion troubles early in its journey, with two thrusters responsible for orbital maneuvering failing for unclear reasons -- but NASA officials said the mission remained on track.

The Orbital Test Flight 2 (OFT-2) mission blasted off at 6:54 pm Eastern Time (2254 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the spaceship fixed atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Its success is key to repairing Boeing's frayed reputation after the first bid, back in 2019, failed to dock with the ISS due to software bugs -- one that led to it burning too much fuel to reach its destination, and another that could have destroyed the vehicle during re-entry.

A second try was scheduled in August of last year, but Starliner was rolled back from the launchpad to address sticky valves that weren't opening as they should, and the capsule was eventually sent back to the factory for fixes.

At a post-launch press conference, senior NASA official Steve Sitch said: "Overall, the spacecraft is doing really well," but he also flagged two anomalies that engineers were now working to understand.

The first was that two out of 12 orbital maneuvering and attitude control (OMAC) thrusters located on Starliner's aft side had initially fired but then shut down, forcing a third to take up their slack.

The second issue was that a device known as a sublimator responsible for cooling the spacecraft was initially slow to get started.

NASA is looking to certify Starliner as a second "taxi" service for its astronauts to the space station -- a role that Elon Musk's SpaceX has provided since succeeding in a test mission for its Dragon capsule in 2020.

- Seeking redemption -

Both companies were awarded fixed-price contracts -- $4.2 billion to Boeing, and $2.6 billion to SpaceX -- in 2014, shortly after the end of the Space Shuttle program, during a time when the United States was left reliant on Russian Soyuz rockets for rides to the orbital outpost.

Boeing, with its hundred-year history, was considered by many as the sure shot, while then-upstart SpaceX was less proven.

In reality, it was SpaceX that rocketed ahead, and recently sent its fourth routine crew to the research platform -- while Boeing's development delays have cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

Starliner should dock with the ISS about 24 hours after launch, and deliver more than 500 pounds (226 kilograms) of cargo, including food and provisions such as clothes and sleeping bags for the current crew on the station.

Its sole passenger is a mannequin named Rosie the Rocketeer -- a play on the World War II campaign icon Rosie the Riveter -- whose job is to collect flight data with her sensors in order to learn what human astronauts would experience.

"We are a little jealous of Rosie," said NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who is expected to be among the first crew selected for a manned demonstration mission should OFT-2 succeed.

The gumdrop-shaped capsule will spend about five to ten days in space, then undock and return to Earth, using giant parachutes to land in the desert of the western United States.

NASA sees a second provider to low Earth orbit as a vital backup, should SpaceX encounter problems.

"It's a really critical step for us and moving towards having two routinely flying crewed vehicles who can bring our crew to and from ISS," Dana Weigel, deputy program manager for the ISS, told reporters this week.

Boeing's Starliner encounters propulsion problems on way to ISS (spacedaily.com)

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https://www.atsb.gov.au/media/news-items/2022/covered-static-ports/

787’s covered fan cowl static ports highlights importance of clear and unambiguous procedures

ao-2021-040-news-story.jpg?width=670&hei

Key points:

  • Boeing 787 being used for freight operations flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles with tape covering its engine cowl fan static ports;
  • While the flight was uneventful, the covered ports meant redundancy for the engine electronic control system was reduced;
  • Job instruction card for restoring a 787 to service did not link to Boeing’s recommended procedures;
  • Qantas has amended its engineering instructions to properly reference Boeing’s recommended procedures.


A Boeing 787 being used for a freight flight flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles with tape over four of its static ports, a new ATSB investigation report details.

After the Qantas 787-9 aircraft, registered VH-ZNJ, landed in Los Angeles on the morning of 22 September 2021, a Qantas engineer found tape covering the four static ports on the aircraft’s engine fan cowls.

Static ports provide important air pressure data to aircraft systems. Boeing recommends they be covered, to avoid contamination, when the aircraft is parked for periods up to 7 days, and Qantas incorporated this instruction into its ‘normal’ parking procedure.

The ATSB investigation details that on the day before the incident flight, an engineer undertook the parking procedure on the aircraft, which included covering the engine cowl static ports with ‘remove before flight’ barricade streamer tape.

“Later that day, another engineer was tasked to conduct the ‘restore’ procedure to return the aircraft to flight status,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod explained.

“The tape on the engine fan cowls was not removed by that engineer, as per the manufacturer’s procedures, and this wasn’t identified by flight crew or dispatch during pre-departure checks.”

VH-ZNJ subsequently took off with the tape still on its engine fan cowl static ports.

“While the flight was uneventful, the covered ports meant redundancy for the engine electronic control system was reduced,” Mr Macleod noted.

The ATSB found that while the job instruction card (JIC) developed by Qantas for parking a 787 did link to Boeing’s recommended procedures, the JIC for restoring it back to service did not.

“This was a missed opportunity to assist engineers to readily access the current procedures and determine which ports were covered, and also allowed for different interpretations of which ports could be covered,” Mr Macleod said.

“When performing safety‑critical tasks like aircraft maintenance, it is very important that procedures are clear and unambiguous to avoid misinterpretation and error such as occurred in this incident.”

At interview, the flight crew’s second officer, who conducted an exterior inspection of VH-ZNJ before the flight, reported they were aware of the fan cowl ports, but not that they could be covered by tape.

The second officer also reported they were somewhat distracted during the inspection, as they had found a pitot tube cover on the ground, and were trying to hand it off to an engineering staff member at that time.

“The second officer also believed Qantas engineering had conducted a pre-flight inspection prior to the flight crew arriving at the aircraft,” Mr Macleod added.

Following the occurrence, Qantas distributed memos to engineering, and flight and ramp crew, highlighting the location of the fan cowl static ports and that they may be covered.

In addition, the airline amended its ‘park’ and ‘restore’ engineering instructions to both reference Boeing’s procedures.

The investigation report also notes the metre-long tail of the ‘remove before flight’ tape covering the static ports was stuck down, to prevent it being torn from the fuselage in strong winds, as per Boeing’s recommended procedure.

“This likely reduced the visibility of it covering the fan cowl static port covers,” Mr Macleod said.

“Targeted inspection of locations and components, rather than relying on streamers, which can detach, can help to identify when these covers or devices have not been removed.”

Read the report: AO-2021-040 Aircraft flight preparation occurrence involving Boeing 787-9, VH‑ZNJ Melbourne Airport, Victoria on 22 September 2021

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Boeing's Starliner spaceship docks with ISS in high-stakes test mission
By Issam AHMED
Washington (AFP) May 21, 2022

boeing-starliner-docking-international-space-station-iss-hg.jpg

Boeing's Starliner capsule docked with the International Space Station Friday, a major milestone in a high-stakes uncrewed test flight as the US aerospace giant seeks to restore its reputation following past failures.

The spaceship made contact at 8:28 pm Eastern time (0028 GMT Saturday), a little over 24 hours after it blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a mission to prove itself capable of providing safe rides for NASA astronauts.

"Starliner spacecraft completes its historic first docking to the International Space Station, opening a new avenue of access for crews to the orbiting laboratory," said an announcer.

But the vessel missed the scheduled rendezvous time by more than an hour due to technical issues -- including a problem that required ground control to retract its docking system then re-deploy it.

Starliner also encountered some propulsion problems early on in its journey, with two thrusters responsible for placing it in a stable orbit failing, though officials insisted these were non-critical systems.

One of 12 orbital maneuvering and attitude control (OMAC) thrusters located on Starliner's aft side shut off after one second, at which point a second thruster kicked in and took over, but also cut out after 25 seconds.

The ship's software then engaged a third thruster that completed the necessary burn.

"That system operated normally during all of the propulsion system demonstrations, and with redundancies in place, does not pose a risk to the rest of the flight test," a NASA blog post about the issue said.

Starliner's success is key to re-establishing Boeing's credibility after its first launch, back in 2019, failed to dock with the ISS due to software bugs -- one that led to it burning too much fuel to reach its destination, and another that could have destroyed the vehicle during re-entry.

A second try was scheduled in August 2021, but the capsule was rolled back from the launchpad to address sticky valves that weren't opening as they should and the vessel was eventually sent back to the factory for fixes.

NASA is looking to certify Starliner as a second "taxi" service for its astronauts to the space station -- a role that Elon Musk's SpaceX has provided since succeeding in a test mission for its Dragon capsule in 2020.

- Seeking redemption -

Both companies were awarded fixed-price contracts -- $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to SpaceX -- in 2014, shortly after the end of the Space Shuttle program, during a time when the United States was left reliant on Russian Soyuz rockets for rides to the orbital outpost.

Boeing, with its hundred-year history, was considered by many as the sure shot, while then-upstart SpaceX was less proven.

In reality, it was SpaceX that rocketed ahead and recently sent its fourth routine crew to the research platform, while Boeing's development delays have cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

Starliner is delivering more than 800 pounds of cargo to the ISS as part of this mission.

Its sole passenger is a mannequin named Rosie the Rocketeer -- a play on the World War II campaign icon Rosie the Riveter -- whose job is to collect flight data with her sensors to learn what human astronauts would experience.

"We are a little jealous of Rosie," NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who is expected to be among the first crew selected for a manned demonstration mission later this year should OFT-2 succeed, said at a press conference this week.

The gumdrop-shaped capsule will spend about five days in space, then undock and return to Earth on May 25, using giant parachutes to land in the desert of the western United States.

NASA sees a second provider to low Earth orbit as a vital backup, should SpaceX encounter problems.

ia/md

BOEING

ISS A/S

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2 hours ago, deicer said:

https://www.atsb.gov.au/media/news-items/2022/covered-static-ports/

787’s covered fan cowl static ports highlights importance of clear and unambiguous procedures

ao-2021-040-news-story.jpg?width=670&hei

Key points:

  • Boeing 787 being used for freight operations flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles with tape covering its engine cowl fan static ports;
  • While the flight was uneventful, the covered ports meant redundancy for the engine electronic control system was reduced;
  • Job instruction card for restoring a 787 to service did not link to Boeing’s recommended procedures;
  • Qantas has amended its engineering instructions to properly reference Boeing’s recommended procedures.


A Boeing 787 being used for a freight flight flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles with tape over four of its static ports, a new ATSB investigation report details.

After the Qantas 787-9 aircraft, registered VH-ZNJ, landed in Los Angeles on the morning of 22 September 2021, a Qantas engineer found tape covering the four static ports on the aircraft’s engine fan cowls.

Static ports provide important air pressure data to aircraft systems. Boeing recommends they be covered, to avoid contamination, when the aircraft is parked for periods up to 7 days, and Qantas incorporated this instruction into its ‘normal’ parking procedure.

The ATSB investigation details that on the day before the incident flight, an engineer undertook the parking procedure on the aircraft, which included covering the engine cowl static ports with ‘remove before flight’ barricade streamer tape.

“Later that day, another engineer was tasked to conduct the ‘restore’ procedure to return the aircraft to flight status,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod explained.

“The tape on the engine fan cowls was not removed by that engineer, as per the manufacturer’s procedures, and this wasn’t identified by flight crew or dispatch during pre-departure checks.”

VH-ZNJ subsequently took off with the tape still on its engine fan cowl static ports.

“While the flight was uneventful, the covered ports meant redundancy for the engine electronic control system was reduced,” Mr Macleod noted.

The ATSB found that while the job instruction card (JIC) developed by Qantas for parking a 787 did link to Boeing’s recommended procedures, the JIC for restoring it back to service did not.

“This was a missed opportunity to assist engineers to readily access the current procedures and determine which ports were covered, and also allowed for different interpretations of which ports could be covered,” Mr Macleod said.

“When performing safety‑critical tasks like aircraft maintenance, it is very important that procedures are clear and unambiguous to avoid misinterpretation and error such as occurred in this incident.”

At interview, the flight crew’s second officer, who conducted an exterior inspection of VH-ZNJ before the flight, reported they were aware of the fan cowl ports, but not that they could be covered by tape.

The second officer also reported they were somewhat distracted during the inspection, as they had found a pitot tube cover on the ground, and were trying to hand it off to an engineering staff member at that time.

“The second officer also believed Qantas engineering had conducted a pre-flight inspection prior to the flight crew arriving at the aircraft,” Mr Macleod added.

Following the occurrence, Qantas distributed memos to engineering, and flight and ramp crew, highlighting the location of the fan cowl static ports and that they may be covered.

In addition, the airline amended its ‘park’ and ‘restore’ engineering instructions to both reference Boeing’s procedures.

The investigation report also notes the metre-long tail of the ‘remove before flight’ tape covering the static ports was stuck down, to prevent it being torn from the fuselage in strong winds, as per Boeing’s recommended procedure.

“This likely reduced the visibility of it covering the fan cowl static port covers,” Mr Macleod said.

“Targeted inspection of locations and components, rather than relying on streamers, which can detach, can help to identify when these covers or devices have not been removed.”

Read the report: AO-2021-040 Aircraft flight preparation occurrence involving Boeing 787-9, VH‑ZNJ Melbourne Airport, Victoria on 22 September 2021

I'm just shaking my head reading this.... unbelievable.

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NEXT LIVE EVENTS

Tuesday, May 24 
12:15 p.m. – Boeing/NASA Starliner in-flight event with senior NASA leadership and farewell remarks by the International Space Station Expedition 67 crew
1:30 p.m. – Coverage of the Boeing/NASA Starliner hatch closure on the International Space Station (Hatch closing scheduled at 1:55 p.m. EDT)

 

NASA Live | NASA

 

 

 
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The video suggests the first business jet to go supersonic in test flight. I do believe Dassault took the Falcon 20 past Mach 1.0 in 1963.

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Important step towards Cleaning up space debris and dead satellites. 

 

OneWeb satellite to be deorbited at the end of its active lifetime
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) May 29, 2022

oneweb-satellite-orbit-marker-hg.jpg
file illustration

The world's first mission to remove several small telecommunications satellites from orbit once they reach the end of their operational service is about to start building and testing its prototype spacecraft.

British-based in-orbit servicing company Astroscale - working in an ESA Partnership Project with satellite operator OneWeb - will begin manufacturing the first commercial "servicer" prototype designed to capture multiple satellites in low Earth orbit under the ESA Sunrise Programme.

Companies such as OneWeb are launching constellations comprised of hundreds of communications satellites to connect people in the hardest-to-reach locations through global satellite internet broadband services.

OneWeb currently has 428 satellites orbiting approximately 1200 km above the Earth; its completed constellation will number almost 650 satellites.

Removing these telecommunications satellites from their orbits once they are at the end of their lives is essential to ensure that today's interconnected digital world is not compromised by collisions that damage active satellites in space - and to protect the low Earth orbit environment as a natural and shared resource.

There are currently two options for removing end-of-life OneWeb satellites from their orbits at the end of their predicted five to six years of service.

Each has been allocated enough fuel to be able to actively deorbit at the end of its useful lifetime. But, in case of failure, each has also been built with either a magnetic or a grappling fixture, so that a servicer spacecraft could collect and actively deorbit the satellite.

The servicer spacecraft that Astroscale will build and test is called "ELSA-M" and is planned for launch in 2024. The servicer spacecraft will be the first "space sweeper" capable of removing multiple defunct satellites from their orbits in a single mission.

Following this demonstration, Astroscale will offer a commercial service for clients that operate satellite constellations in low Earth orbit, providing the technology and capability to make in-orbit servicing part of routine satellite operations by 2030.

OneWeb satellite to be deorbited at the end of its active lifetime (spacedaily.com)

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Why Did Mars Dry Out? New Study Points To Unusual Answers
by Louise Lerner for UChicago News
Chicago IL (SPX) May 29, 2022

mars-water-science-spix-hg.jpg
illustration only

Mars once ran red with rivers. The telltale tracks of past rivers, streams and lakes are visible today all over the planet. But about three billion years ago, they all dried up - and no one knows why.

"People have put forward different ideas, but we're not sure what caused the climate to change so dramatically," said University of Chicago geophysical scientist Edwin Kite. "We'd really like to understand, especially because it's the only planet we definitely know changed from habitable to uninhabitable."

Kite is the first author of a new study that examines the tracks of Martian rivers to see what they can reveal about the history of the planet's water and atmosphere.

Previously, many scientists had assumed that losing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helped to keep Mars warm, caused the trouble. But the new findings, published May 25 in Science Advances, suggest that the change was caused by the loss of some other important ingredient that maintained the planet warm enough for running water.

But we still don't know what it is.

Water, water everywhere - and not a drop to drink
In 1972, scientists were astonished to see pictures from NASA's Mariner 9 mission as it circled Mars from orbit. The photos revealed a landscape full of riverbeds - evidence that the planet once had plenty of liquid water, even though it's dry as a bone today.

Since Mars doesn't have tectonic plates to shift and bury the rock over time, ancient river tracks still lie on the surface like evidence abandoned in a hurry.

This allowed Kite and his collaborators, including University of Chicago graduate student Bowen Fan as well as scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, Planetary Science Institute, California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Aeolis Research, to analyze maps based on thousands of pictures taken from orbit by satellites. Based on which tracks overlap which, and how weathered they are, the team pieced together a timeline of how river activity changed in elevation and latitude over billions of years.

Then they could combine that with simulations of different climate conditions, and see which matched best.

Planetary climates are enormously complex, with many, many variables to account for - especially if you want to keep your planet in the "Goldilocks" zone where it's exactly warm enough for water to be liquid but not so hot that it boils. Heat can come from a planet's sun, but it has to be near enough to receive radiation but not so near that the radiation strips away the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, can trap heat near a planet's surface. Water itself plays a role, too; it can exist as clouds in the atmosphere or as snow and ice on the surface. Snowcaps tend to act as a mirror to reflect away sunlight back into space, but clouds can either trap or reflect away light, depending on their height and composition.

Kite and his collaborators ran many different combinations of these factors in their simulations, looking for conditions that could cause the planet to be warm enough for at least some liquid water to exist in rivers for more than billion years - but then abruptly lose it.

But as they compared different simulations, they saw something surprising. Changing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere didn't change the outcome. That is, the driving force of the change didn't seem to be carbon dioxide.

"Carbon dioxide is a strong greenhouse gas, so it really was the leading candidate to explain the drying out of Mars," said Kite, an expert on the climates of other worlds. "But these results suggest it's not so simple."

There are several alternative options. The new evidence fits nicely with a scenario, suggested in a 2021 study from Kite, where a layer of thin, icy clouds high in Mars' atmosphere acts like translucent greenhouse glass, trapping heat. Other scientists have suggested that if hydrogen was released from the planet's interior, it could have interacted with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to absorb infrared light and warm the planet.

"We don't know what this factor is, but we need a lot of it to have existed to explain the results," Kite said.

There are a number of ways to try to narrow down the possible factors; the team suggests several possible tests for NASA's Perseverance rover to perform that could reveal clues.

Kite and colleague Sasha Warren are also part of the science team that will be directing NASA's Curiosity Mars rover to search for clues about why Mars dried out. They hope that these efforts, as well as measurements from Perseverance, can provide additional clues to the puzzle

On Earth, many forces have combined to keep the conditions remarkably stable for millions of years. But other planets may not be so lucky. One of the many questions scientists have about other planets is exactly how lucky we are - that is, how often this confluence exists occurs in the universe. They hope that studying what happened to other planets, such as Mars, can yield clues about planetary climates and how many other planets out there might be habitable.

"It's really striking that we have this puzzle right next door, and yet we're still not sure how to explain it," said Kite.

Research Report:"Changing Spatial Distribution Of Water Flow Charts Major Change In Mars'S Greenhouse Effect"

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On 5/28/2022 at 7:28 AM, deicer said:

Bombardier Global 7500 breaks sound barrier in testing.

 

When I worked flight test in Witchita on the original Global Express aircraft, it also exceeded Mach 1.  We always knew when they did it because they would lose the lav service door.

 

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I realize the distinction between "Aviation" and ""Non-aviation" topics and posts is somewhat nebulous but the last few posts in this thread veered over the median into overtly political and have been removed.

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Chinese astronauts arrive at Tiangong space station to prepare for its completion

https://www.space.com/china-shenzhou-14-mission-launch-success

 

Three Chinese astronauts dock at space station
By Ludovic EHRET
Beijing (AFP) June 5, 2022

shenzhou-11-docks-tiangong-2-hg.jpg

Three Chinese astronauts docked at the country's space station on Sunday, the state broadcaster said, marking a new milestone in Beijing's drive to become a major space power.

The trio blasted off in a Long March-2F rocket at 0244 GMT from the Jiuquan launch centre in northwestern China's Gobi desert, said broadcaster CCTV.

The team is tasked with "completing in-orbit assembly and construction of the space station", as well as "commissioning of equipment" and conducting scientific experiments, state-run CGTN said Saturday.

The spacecraft docked at the Tiangong station after about "seven hours of flight", CCTV reported.

Tiangong, which means "heavenly palace", is expected to become fully operational by the end of the year.

China's heavily promoted space programme has already seen the nation land a rover on Mars and send probes to the Moon.

The Shenzhou-14 crew is led by air force pilot Chen Dong, 43, the three-person crew's main challenge will be connecting the station's two lab modules to the main body.

Dong, along with fellow pilots Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, will become the second crew to spend six months aboard the Tiangong after the last returned to earth in April following 183 days on the space station.

Tiangong's core module entered orbit earlier last year and is expected to operate for at least a decade.

The completed station will be similar to the Soviet Mir station that orbited Earth from the 1980s until 2001.

- Space ambitions -

The world's second-largest economy has poured billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a permanently crewed space station by 2022 and eventually sending humans to the Moon.

The country has made large strides in catching up with the United States and Russia, whose astronauts and cosmonauts have decades of experience in space exploration.

But under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the country's plans for its heavily promoted "space dream" have been put into overdrive.

In addition to a space station, Beijing is also planning to build a base on the Moon, and the country's National Space Administration said it aims to launch a crewed lunar mission by 2029.

China has been excluded from the International Space Station since 2011, when the United States banned NASA from engaging with the country.

While China does not plan to use its space station for global cooperation on the scale of the ISS, Beijing has said it is open to foreign collaboration.

The ISS is due for retirement after 2024, although NASA has said it could remain functional until 2030.

China discloses tasks of Shenzhou-14 crewed space mission
Jiuquan (XNA) Jun 04 - The upcoming Shenzhou-14 crewed space mission will complete the construction of the Tiangong space station, with a basic three-module structure consisting of the core module Tianhe and the lab modules Wentian and Mengtian, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) on Saturday.

The mission will build the space station into a national space laboratory, said Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSA, at a press conference.

China is set to launch the Shenzhou-14 crewed spaceship on Sunday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, sending three astronauts to its space station combination for a six-month mission.

The Shenzhou-14 crew will work with the ground team to complete the rendezvous, docking and transposition of the two lab modules with the core module, Lin said.

They will enter the two lab modules for the first time and help make the environment suitable for their stay, he said, adding that they will unlock and install a dozen of scientific experiment cabinets in the two modules.

They will also carry out relevant function tests on the two-module space station complex, three-module space station complex, large and small mechanical arms, as well as exit from the airlock cabin in the Wentian lab module, with the assistance of the ground team.

The crew will, for the first time, use the airlock cabin in Wentian to carry out extravehicular activities for two to three times, Lin said.

They will continue to give "Tiangong Class" series to students for science popularization and perform other activities for public good.

The trio will also carry out in-orbit health monitoring, protective exercises, in-orbit training and drills, space station platform inspections and tests, equipment maintenance, as well as station and material management.

During their stay in orbit, the Shenzhou-14 crew will witness the two lab modules, Tianzhou-5 cargo craft and Shenzhou-15 crewed spaceship dock with the core module. They will experience nine space station complex configurations and conduct rendezvous and docking for five times.

The three astronauts will rotate with the Shenzhou-15 crew in orbit, before returning to the Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in December, Lin said.

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Finnair to adapt and shrink after Russian airspace closure, CEO tells Bloomberg

2 hrs ago

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's national carrier Finnair, hit hard by the closure of Russian airspace, plans to shift its focus away from Asia travel and reduce the size of its operations, the chief executive told Bloomberg News, the agency reported on Friday.

© Reuters/LEHTIKUVA Topi Manner, Finnair's new CEO, poses at the company headquarters in Vantaa© Reuters/Phil Noble FILE PHOTO: A Finnair Airbus A320 aircraft prepares to take off from Manchester Airport in Manchester

Finnair's pre-pandemic profitability centred on offering short connection times between Asia and Europe via its Helsinki hub, using a short route across Siberian airspace that is now shut for European airlines due to war in Ukraine.

"As a first step, the first response when we are reviewing our strategy on the back of the Russian airspace closure, we have pivoted our network to the west, and we are also increasing routes in Southeast Asia," CEO Topi Manner told the news agency.

Putin: Foreign firms exiting Russian market may be 'for the best'

Click to expand

Manner said Finnair planned to pivot towards the United States and Southeast Asia, especially India and potentially the Middle East.

"We will need to resize the company when we review the strategy," Manner said, adding that the new routes could not completely replace the lost Asian traffic.

Finnair is leasing out 10% of its capacity to Deutsche Lufthansa and British Airways during the summer, Manner said.

(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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NASA's Curiosity Captures Stunning Views of a Changing Mars Landscape
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jun 23, 2022

curiosity-mars-lab-layered-flaky-rocks-ancient-streambed-pond-hg.jpg
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured this view of layered, flaky rocks believed to have formed in an ancient streambed or small pond. The six images that make up this mosaic were captured using Curiosity's Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on June 2, 2022, the 3,492nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Striking rock formations documented by the rover provide evidence of a drying climate in the Red Planet's ancient past.

For the past year, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has been traveling through a transition zone from a clay-rich region to one filled with a salty mineral called sulfate. While the science team targeted the clay-rich region and the sulfate-laden one for evidence each can offer about Mars' watery past, the transition zone is proving to be scientifically fascinating as well. In fact, this transition may provide the record of a major shift in Mars' climate billions of years ago that scientists are just beginning to understand.

The clay minerals formed when lakes and streams once rippled across Gale Crater, depositing sediment at what is now the base of Mount Sharp, the 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain whose foothills Curiosity has been ascending since 2014. Higher on the mountain in the transition zone, Curiosity's observations show that the streams dried into trickles and sand dunes formed above the lake sediments.

"We no longer see the lake deposits that we saw for years lower on Mount Sharp," said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "Instead, we see lots of evidence of drier climates, like dry dunes that occasionally had streams running around them. That's a big change from the lakes that persisted for perhaps millions of years before."

As the rover climbs higher through the transition zone, it is detecting less clay and more sulfate. Curiosity will soon drill the last rock sample it will take in this zone, providing a more detailed glimpse into the changing mineral composition of these rocks.

Unique geologic features also stand out in this zone. The hills in the area likely began in a dry environment of large, wind-swept sand dunes, hardening into rock over time. Interspersed in the remains of these dunes are other sediments carried by water, perhaps deposited in ponds or small streams that once wove among the dunes. These sediments now appear as erosion-resistant stacks of flaky layers, like one nicknamed "The Prow."

Making the story richer yet more complicated is the knowledge that there were multiple periods in which groundwater ebbed and flowed over time, leaving a jumble of puzzle pieces for Curiosity's scientists to assemble into an accurate timeline.

Ten Years On, Going Strong
Curiosity will celebrate its 10th year on Mars Aug. 5. While the rover is showing its age after a full decade of exploring, nothing has prevented it from continuing its ascent.

On June 7, Curiosity went into safe mode after detecting a temperature reading on an instrument control box within the body of the rover that was warmer than expected. Safe mode occurs when a spacecraft senses an issue and automatically shuts down all but its most essential functions so that engineers can assess the situation.

Although Curiosity exited safe mode and returned to normal operations two days later, JPL's engineers are still analyzing the exact cause of the issue. They suspect safe mode was triggered after a temperature sensor provided an inaccurate measurement, and there's no sign it will significantly affect rover operations since backup temperature sensors can ensure the electronics within the rover body aren't getting too hot.

The rover's aluminum wheels are also showing signs of wear. On June 4, the engineering team commanded Curiosity to take new pictures of its wheels - something it had been doing every 3,281 feet (1,000 meters) to check their overall health.

The team discovered that the left middle wheel had damaged one of its grousers, the zig-zagging treads along Curiosity's wheels. This particular wheel already had four broken grousers, so now five of its 19 grousers are broken.

The previously damaged grousers attracted attention online recently because some of the metal "skin" between them appears to have fallen out of the wheel in the past few months, leaving a gap.

The team has decided to increase its wheel imaging to every 1,640 feet (500 meters) - a return to the original cadence. A traction control algorithm had slowed wheel wear enough to justify increasing the distance between imaging.

"We have proven through ground testing that we can safely drive on the wheel rims if necessary," said Megan Lin, Curiosity's project manager at JPL. "If we ever reached the point that a single wheel had broken a majority of its grousers, we could do a controlled break to shed the pieces that are left. Due to recent trends, it seems unlikely that we would need to take such action. The wheels are holding up well, providing the traction we need to continue our climb."

Video: How Scientists Study Wind on Mars (NASA Mars News Report June 22, 2022)

 

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Virgin Orbit on target for next launch window to open June 29
by Staff Writers
Long Beach CA (SPX) Jun 28, 2022

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file illustration

Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB)'s launch system is in place at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The dress rehearsals are complete, and the company remains on track for its upcoming Straight Up launch, with a launch window opening on June 29 at 10 pm PDT.

The launch will support the United States Space Force's STP-S28A mission and carry payloads for the Department of Defense (DOD) Space Test Program (STP). The target orbit for Straight Up is approximately 500 km above the Earth's surface at a 45-degree inclination. Virgin Orbit is the first company to achieve this feat from California through its Above the Clouds launch which was completed earlier this year.

As of the date of this release, Tyler Grinnell, Vice President of Test, Flight and Launch for Virgin Orbit, advises that everything is going according to plan and remains on schedule in preparation for the company's fourth mission.

"Our hardware is in top-notch condition, and the team is performing exceptionally, as we prepare for our first night-time launch," Grinnell said. "The perspective we've gained from each previous launch is really paying off now. Our crews in the sky and on the ground are ready to further our mission of getting our customers' satellites precisely where they need to go."

 

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Restored warplane lands in Okanagan, will soon be on display in Kelowna

Doyle Potenteau - 1h ago
 
 
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On Thursday, a de Havilland 98 Mosquito landed at Kelowna International Airport. The plane will soon be on display at KF Aerospace’s museum and convention centre.
© KF AerospaceOn Thursday, a de Havilland 98 Mosquito landed at Kelowna International Airport. The plane will soon be on display at KF Aerospace’s museum and convention centre.

A vintage plane from the Second World War will soon be on display in the Okanagan.

On Thursday, a de Havilland 98 Mosquito, with its distinct looks and engine noise, landed at Kelowna International Airport.

Sporting a wooden frame, the two-engine, two-seat bomber was acquired by the KF Aerospace Centre following a five-year restoration for its aviation museum that’s expected to open in late August.

Read more:

Second World War Mosquito plane’s arrival at Kelowna’s KF Aerospace delayed

According to KF Aeropsace, the plane made its debut in 1941 and primarily served as a night fighter, and was capable of reaching speeds of 640 km/h.

“Across European, Mediterranean, and Italian theatres of war the Mosquito proved to be exceptionally versatile,” said KF Aerospace.

 
 

“It served as a bomber, fighter, night-fighter, photo-reconnaissance plane, and even provided wartime cargo and passenger connections through enemy territory. A total of 7,781 aircraft were built.”

Video: KF Aerospace Centre for Excellence

The plane flew from Vancouver to Kelowna on Thursday. It’s said to be one of 30 Mosquitos remaining worldwide, and one of only two that are currently airworthy.

“The Mossie was an incredibly potent aircraft. It could pack a similar bomb load as a B17 and fight in any theatre at any time of day or night, at high or low altitude,” said KF Aerospace project supervisor D’Arcy Barker.

“It was truly a multi-role aircraft, at home in seemingly any operation. That’s what made it so special. Without it, where would we be? Thankfully, we’ll never know.”

KF Aerospace says the plane’s original wooden frame is made from B.C. Sitka spruce, and that it was one of many Mosquitos operated by Spartan Air Services in the 1950s and 60s to conduct high-altitude aerial cartography missions across Canada.

Video: Saskatoon man restoring vintage German fighter plane

“It tells an absolutely amazing Canadian story,” said KF Aerospace executive director, Paula Quinn. “The aircraft flew around the country for years, mapping out the northernmost reaches of the landscape in a way that was never before possible.”

KF Aerospace says the Mosquito will be part of a collection that includes a Hawker Tempest MK2, the Odyssey DC-3 and a Convair CV580 among others.

Video: Vintage B-17 bomber takes flight in Gimli

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