Wednesday January 23, 2019
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SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies to International Space Station explodes after launch

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photo: www.spacex.com

Washington: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket-propelling Dragon spacecraft laden with crucial supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) exploded shortly after lift-off in Florida on Sunday.

Two virtual reality headsets to empower astronauts aboard the ISS were part of the supplies on board the SpaceX’s seventh commercial re-supply mission.

“We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo re-supply mission to the International Space Station. However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.

photo courtesy: www.spacex.com
photo courtesy: www.spacex.com

The cargo included food, systems hardware, research materials, computer resources and spacewalking equipment.

It also carried a docking adaptor to prepare the ISS for future commercial missions.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch failure marks three cargo failures from three different launch providers in the past few months.

In April, the Russian space agency lost control of its cargo ship en route to the ISS and were forced to abandon it.

In October 2014, an Orbital-ATK Antares rocket exploded on the launch pad, preventing supplies from reaching the ISS.

“We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight,” Bolden added.

The commercial cargo programme was designed to accommodate loss of cargo vehicles.

“We will continue operation of the station in a safe and effective way as we continue to use it as our test bed for preparing for longer duration missions farther into the solar system.”

The failure, however, does not deter the space agency from further cargo missions.

A Russian “Progress” cargo vehicle will launch from Kazakhstan on July 3 to the ISS.

“Orbital ATK, our other commercial cargo partner, is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year,” Bolden said.

“We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward,” he said.

This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge. (IANS)

Next Story

Partial Shutdown of US Delays Space Missions, But NASA Not Grounded

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said

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People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

The partial shutdown of the US federal government has had a serious impact on the country’s space agency NASA and development work on most future space missions has been slowed or suspended.

However, NASA has not been totally grounded by the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, after last-minute negotiations in Congress failed to end a budget standoff.

Over 95 per cent of the space agency’s employees have been furloughed. As a result, various research projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope has been put on hold, the Space.com reported on Wednesday.

Hubble suffered a mechanical problem that only furloughed NASA employees could repair.

Many workers also gathered outside the Johnson Space Center in Houston to protest the shutdown and its deleterious effects on their lives and the nation’s space programmes.

The Telescope facilities that have so far remained open during the shutdown will soon run out of money and cease operations.

This includes the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), a federally funded organization that operates the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Green Bank Telescope and the Very Large Array (VLA), the report noted.

The partial shutdown become the longest on record after January 12, overtaking the previous record of the 21-day impasse in 1995-96 under then President Bill Clinton.

NASA, tissue
US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

President Donald Trump and the Congress have been at loggerheads over his demand to include in the budget $5.7 billion funding for building a border wall along the Mexico border. Democratic leaders have rejected his call.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), also called the “flying telescope” has also ceased operations since the shutdown.

The telescope, which is mounted to the fuselage of a Boeing 747 aircraft, has not flown since the shutdown began, the report said.

However, despite the shutdown some “excepted” employees remained at work, assisting astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and other space missions, the report said.

Also Read- National Clean Air Programme Should Set Higher Targets

Last week, astronauts aboard the ISS conducted a range of scientific experiments and public-outreach work. They engaged in an orbital Q&A with school kids and answered a variety of questions, from the nature of the research performed aboard the ISS to the type of training astronauts receive to whether your ears pop in space.

On January 13, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule departed the orbiting lab for Earth, eventually splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The robotic Dragon brought down important scientific research and hardware for examination here on terra firma.

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said.  (IANS)