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NASA is on track for sustainable human exploration of the Moon for the first time in history. Pixabay

The US space agency NASA on Thursday announced it has selected Elon Musk-run SpaceX, Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin and Dynetics (a Leidos company) to design and develop human landing systems (HLS) for the agency’s Artemis programme, one of which will land the first woman and next man on the surface of the Moon by 2024.

The total combined value for all awarded contracts is $967 million for the 10-month base period. “With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.


NASA is on track for sustainable human exploration of the Moon for the first time in history.
“This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis programme,” he said in a statement.

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Blue Origin is developing the Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) – a three-stage lander to be launched on its own New Glenn Rocket System and ULA Vulcan launch system. SpaceX is developing the Starship – a fully integrated lander that will use the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket.

Dynetics (a Leidos company) from Huntsville, Alabama, is working on the Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS) – a single structure providing the ascent and descent capabilities that will launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system. Fifty years ago, NASA’s Apollo Programme proved it is possible to land humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth.

“We are on our way. With these awards, we begin an exciting partnership with the best of industry to accomplish the nation’s goals. We have much work ahead, especially over these next critical 10 months. I have high confidence that working with these teammates, we will succeed,” informed Douglas Loverro, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington.


The US space agency on Thursday announced it has selected Elon Musk-run SpaceX, Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin and Dynetics (a Leidos company) to design and develop human landing systems (HLS) for the agency’s Artemis programme, one of which will land the first woman and next man on the surface of the Moon by 2024. Wikimedia Commons

NASA’s commercial partners will refine their lander concepts through the contract base period ending in February 2021. During that time, the agency will evaluate which of the contractors will perform initial demonstration missions.

Charged with returning to the Moon in the next four years, NASA’s Artemis programme will reveal new knowledge about the Moon, Earth, and our origins in the solar system. The human landing system is a vital part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, Orion spacecraft, and Gateway.

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NASA said it is returning to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation. (IANS)


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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Japan launched its new satellite, QZS-1R.

Japan has successfully launched a new navigation satellite into orbit that will replace its decade-old navigation satellite.

The satellite, QZS-1R, was launched onboard an H-2A rocket that lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center at 10.19 p.m. on Monday night, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said in a statement.

The company builds and operates H-2A rockets the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

QZS-1R is a replacement for Quasi-Zenith Satellite System 1 satellite first launched in 2010. “It was a really beautiful launch," the company said in a tweet after a successful lift-off.

"H-IIA F44 flight proceeded nominally. Approximately 28 minutes 6 seconds after launch, as planned, the payload separated from the launch vehicle," the statement said.

The official QZSS website lists four satellites in the constellation: QZS-1, QZS-2, QZS-3 and QZS-4, Space.com reported.

The QZSS constellation will eventually consist of a total of seven satellites that fly in an orbit passing through a near-zenith (or directly overhead) above Japan, and QZS-R1 is meant to share nearly the same transmission signals as recent GPS satellites, according to JAXA.

It is specially optimised for mountainous and urban regions in Japan, JAXA said.

Mitsubishi's H-2A 202 rocket launch system has been operational since 2003 and has sent satellites to locations such as Venus (Akatsuki) and Mars (Emirates Mars Mission).

The latest H2-A rocket launch is the first since November 29, 2020, when Japan launched an advanced relay satellite with laser communications tech into orbit, the report said. (IANS/JB)


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Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

Fireworks light up the night sky

Everyone loves firecrackers, even the most environment-friendly advocates cannot hide their joy when they see these delightful lights colour the skies. India celebrates Diwali in the true spirit of her culture and heritage by spraying the navy-blue skies with sparkling hues of gold, silver, red, and green. Firecrackers are not just a tradition in this country, they are a legacy.

The original connotation one makes with fireworks in China. The elaborate Chinese celebrations with dragons and zapping firecrackers have left their mark in human memory, but the use of fireworks is not limited to heralding the Chinese New Year. All over the world, fireworks have come to symbolise the ultimate celebration. During Diwali in India, this spirit is re-ignited every year.

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A visitor looks at statues of the 'Royal treasures of Abomey kingdom' on display at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris on Sept. 10, 2021, part of 26 artworks set to be restituted to Benin later in the year.

PARIS — In a decision with potential ramifications across European museums, France is displaying 26 looted colonial-era artifacts for one last time before returning them home to Benin.

The wooden anthropomorphic statues, royal thrones and sacred altars were pilfered by the French army in the 19th century from Western Africa.

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