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Instigation of Commercial Capsules; NASA Introduced Astronauts

US Space agency NASA introduced nine astronauts to run commercial flights

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Astronauts, from left, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams give a thumbs up to the crowd after NASA announced them as astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon. VOA
Astronauts, from left, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams give a thumbs up to the crowd after NASA announced them as astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon. VOA

The U.S. space agency NASA on Friday introduced the nine astronauts who will ride the first commercial space capsules into orbit next year.

The move marks a significant shift in the U.S. space program, which will now combine NASA-trained astronauts with private sector space capsules. The capsules, made by SpaceX and Boeing, will ferry the astronauts and cargo back and forth to the International Space Station.

Since NASA’s space shuttle program was shut down in 2011, it has had to rely on Russia to fly astronauts to the space station.

Commercial flights to be run by 9 astronauts. Pixabay
Commercial flights to be run by 9 astronauts. Pixabay

“For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The nine astronauts — seven men and two women — waved and pumped their fists into the air as they appeared on stage to cheers from the crowd. All but three of the astronauts are space flight veterans.

In 2014, SpaceX and Boeing received contracts for $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, to develop space capsules that can ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

Also Read: Sunita Williams Among Nine Astronauts Named by NASA For New Human Space Programme

The two companies are planning for a test flight of their capsules by the end of this year or early next year, with the first crews hoping to fly from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by next spring or summer.

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NASA Planning Asteroid Impact Exercise Next Week

NASA’s PDCO and other US agencies and space science institutions, along with international partners, will participate in the exercise

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longest spacecraft, women
Part of NASA's study of the effects of long spaceflights on the human body, Koch will spend 328 days in space. Pixabay

Aimed at effective disaster management, NASA and its international partners are planning to participate in an exercise that will play out a realistic — but fictional — scenario of an asteroid on an impact trajectory with Earth.

The scenario begins with the fictional premise that on March 26, astronomers “discovered” a NEO they consider potentially hazardous to Earth.

After a “few months” of tracking, observers predict that this near-Earth object (NEO) – dubbed 2019 PDC – poses a 1 in 100 chance of impact with Earth in 2027 (in real life, the international community has decided that a 1 in 100 chance of impact is the threshold for action).

Participants in this exercise will discuss potential preparations for asteroid reconnaissance and deflection missions and planning for mitigation of a potential impact’s effects, NASA said.

Scientists believe that these exercises can help people in the planetary defence community to understand what those on the disaster management side need to know.

Asteroid
This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

“This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments,” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defence Officer, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Better communication of the hazards posed by NEOs such as asteroids or comets has been a top priority for international groups, such as NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness-NEO Segment and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN).

Developed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid impact exercise next week is scheduled to take place at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference to be held in the US from April 29 to May 3.

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NASA’s PDCO and other US agencies and space science institutions, along with international partners, will participate in the exercise, the US space agency said.

Next week’s exercise events will occur over the five days of the conference, with exercise leaders briefing participants on the status of the scenario at the end of each day and soliciting response ideas and feedback, based on the latest fictional data, NASA said. (IANS)