April 24, 2017: U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson on Monday broke the record for most accumulated time spent in orbit by an American.
Commander Whitson, who is aboard the International Space Station, was congratulated by U.S. President Donald Trump, who spoke to space station astronauts via video.
“Five-hundred thirty-four days and counting. That’s an incredible record to break,” Trump said from the Oval Office. “On behalf of our nation, and frankly on behalf of the world, I’d like to congratulate you.”
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The 57-year-old Whitson is the most experienced U.S. spacewoman. She is scheduled to return to earth in September, at which time she will have spent 666 days in space over the course of three flights.
“It’s actually a huge honor to break a record like this,” Whitson told Trump.
Whitson also explained to Trump how technology in the space station allows astronauts to convert their urine to drinking water. “It’s really not as bad as it sounds,” she said. (VOA)
Nasa astronaut Peggy Whitson set to return back to Earth from International Space Station
The astronauts return after completing 288 days in space in Expedition 52
Peggy Whitson holds the record for the maximum time spend in space by an American astronaut
Washington, September 2, 2017 : NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the record for maximum time spent in space by any American astronaut, is set to return to Earth on Saturday, completing a 288-day mission at the International Space Station.
Whitson and her Expedition 52 crewmates Jack Fischer of NASA and Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are scheduled to land in Kazakhstan at 9.22 p.m. EDT on Saturday (6.52 a.m. Sunday, India time).
At the time of their landing, she will have accrued a total of 665 days in space over the course of her career, more than any American astronaut, placing her eighth on the all-time space endurance list, NASA said.
Whitson’s return will mark the end of her third long-duration stay onboard the space station.
She launched on November 17 with 377 days in space already under her belt, and on April 24 broke Jeff Williams’ standing US record of 534 cumulative days in space.
Whitson also holds the record for most spacewalks by a female.
Yurchikhin and Fischer, who launched in April, will complete 136 days in space on their return. Yurchikhin will return to Earth with a total of 673 days in space on his five flights, putting him in seventh place on the all-time endurance list.
At the time of undocking, Expedition 53 will begin aboard the station under the command of Randy Bresnik.
Along with his crewmates Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency), the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members.
Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, are scheduled to launch on September 12 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, NASA said. (IANS)
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS
June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.
Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.
Confusion leads to mistakes
All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.
“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”
Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.
Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.
“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.
IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.
IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.
Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.
“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.
IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.
Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.
IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.
Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.
Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.
Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.
“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.
IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.
Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.
“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)
It is a case of when an asteroid collision will happen, rather than if it will happen
The asteroid warning comes ahead of the world asteroid day on 30th June
A Czech scientist who has analyzed 144 fireballs from meteor showers has already warned that the risk of a big-sized asteroid hitting earth surface is pretty high
June 23, 2017:
Earth is susceptible to asteroid attacks and it’s just a matter of time when it is going to happen. Any asteroid attack or outer space stuff on any major city could do a significant damage and millions of live would be affected.
Alan Fitzsimmons from Queen’s University Belfast in Britain, said “it is a case of when an asteroid collision will happen, rather than if it will happen.”
The asteroid warning comes ahead of the world asteroid day on 30th June. It is so because, on 30th June, 1908, an asteroid of small size exploded over Siberia which even out 2000 sq kilometres of area.
However this year’s world asteroid day would contain discussions and presentations which will be live streamed from Luxembourg in which Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart and International Space Station astronaut Nicole Stott will answer questions from people on social media.
Mr Fitzsimmons told that scientists have worked at great lengths to recognise near earth asteroids and how much damage they can yield upon striking. He also told that over 1800 potentially dangerous objects have been identified near earth and many more are to be found.
However, he has said, “Astronomers find near-Earth asteroids every day and most are harmless. But it is still possible the next Tunguska would take us by surprise, and although we are much better at finding larger asteroids that does us no good if we are not prepared to do something about them.”
A Czech scientist who has analysed 144 fireballs from meteor showers has already warned that the risk of a big-sized asteroid hitting earth surface is pretty high.
– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi