Space Travel

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NASA Astronaut Jeanette Epps to join ISS as first black woman
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

Jeanette Epps is going to make history as the first black woman on the ISS.

Epps is set to join NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada on NASA's Boeing Starliner-1 mission, a six-month expedition aboard the orbiting space laboratory set to launch in 2021.

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110 people needed to start colony on Mars, scientists find
110 people needed to start colony on Mars, scientists find
Credit: unsplash.com/Nicolas Lobos

Mars won't be too crowded. French Professor Jean-Marc Salotti (Bordeaux Institut Nationwide Polytechnique) found that a small community of 110 people is sufficient to set up a self-sustaining colony on Mars. The settlers would live in an oxygen-filled glass dome where they would have to focus on building an agricultural industry to provide for themselves.

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Space Perspective plans to take tourists to the stratosphere
Space Perspective plans to take tourists to the stratosphere
Credit: Space Perspective

Space Perspective wants to make space tourism happen. The company plans to transport up to 8 tourists in a high-altitude, hydrogen-filled balloon to the stratosphere to get a view from an altitude of 100,000 feet. The ballon, called "Spaceship Neptune", has a pressurized cabin and will include both a bar and a restroom.

Test flights with research equipment will start in 2021 and, if all goes well, tourists can board the Neptune in three and a half years.

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SpaceX's Crew Dragon will return to Earth with astronauts Behnken and Hurley
Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken (right) at crew extraction rehearsal from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon
Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken (right) at crew extraction rehearsal from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls / Public domain

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will return to Earth from the ISS on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft in August. Their exact return date will depend on numerous factors such as weather conditions, the astronauts' work progress onboard ISS as well as the overall condition and performance of Crew Dragon.

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Starship rocket is the top priority for SpaceX
Starship | First test vehicle
Starship | First test vehicle Credit: SpaceX (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

As SpaceX employees and fans all over the world celebrate the success of the Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission that launched two American Astronauts off American soil to the International Space Station just last week, Elon Musk emailed the SpaceX staff to remind them of the next major goal they should turn their attention to.

“Please consider the top SpaceX priority (apart from anything that could reduce Dragon return risk) to be Starship”

The CEO underlined that Starship development progress needs to be accelerated "dramatically and immediately". As the company just fulfilled its first promises by delivering Nasa astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station as part of the commercial crew program, it will now be able to allocate significantly more resources, in terms of both staff and finance to the development of the Starship program.

In his email, Elon also re-assured his employees that those who are considering moving to Texas in order to better support the companies new objectives, will be able to shuttle using a dedicated SpaceX aircraft.

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NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 capsule docked with space station at 14:16(UTC)
NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 capsule docked with space station at 14:16(UTC)
Credit: SpaceX (Reproduction)

The Dragon capsule docked at the International Space Station at 14:16(UTC), slightly ahead of schedule, 422km above the border between northern China and Mongolia. The completion of the docking procedure happened at 14:30(UTC).

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NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 capsule set to dock with space station at 14:30(UTC)
Astrounauts Bob Behnken (far) and Doug Hurley (near)
Astrounauts Bob Behnken (far) and Doug Hurley (near) Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

The Dragon capsule launched yesterday from Cape Canaveral will dock to the International Space Station at 14:30(UTC). Although astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are on board, the docking procedure should be fully automated.

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SpaceX's 'Demo-2' mission to attempt to launch today
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Douglas Hurley
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Douglas Hurley Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will make another attempt to launch two NASA astronauts to the space station today at 19:22(UTC). If the launch attempt is delayed once again due to the weather — there's currently a 50% chance of unfavourable launch weather — the next available launch window will be on Sunday, May 31, 19:00(UTC).

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Douglas Hurley are expected to dock Crew Dragon with the ISS about 19 hours after liftoff.

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Update NASA's SpaceX Demo-2: Crew access arm has been retracted
Retracting of the crew access arm
Retracting of the crew access arm Credit: NASA Livestream (Public Domain)

The crew access has been retracted and the emergency escape system is armed. The weather at Kennedy Space Center had been an issue earlier and will be tracked “all the way down to launch". At 3:56 p.m., SpaceX has begun fueling the Falcon 9 rocket. 

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Update: NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 prepares for launch
Sunrise from Launch Complex 39A
Sunrise from Launch Complex 39A Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 is set to launch in just 45 minutes. At 2:35 p.m. EDT, the Crew Dragon hatch has been closed, just 15 minutes before the Air Force One carrying Donald Trump flew over the launchpad 39A.

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Everyday Astronaut to livestream NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 launch
Screenshot of Everyday Astronaut's livestream footage
Screenshot of Everyday Astronaut's livestream footage Credit: Everyday Astronaut via YouTube

Everyday Astronaut's Tim Dodd is providing a livestream of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 launch on his YouTube channel. Dodd is stationed about 3 miles away from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to capture the launch of the first private spacecraft to transport astronauts into low-Earth orbit. The launch will be at 4:33 p.m. EDT.

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NASA and SpaceX are set for launch of SpaceX Demo-2
The Crew Dragon spacecraft and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A. Credit: Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls (Public Domain)

NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission is set to launch on May 27 at 4:33 p.m. EDT. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will transport two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station to provide "critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations".

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NASA astronauts have completed last rehearsal for Wednesday's flight to ISS

With the first crewed space flight from American soil in nine years scheduled for Wednesday, Dough Hurley and Bob Behnken have completed their dress rehearsal. The two astronauts will be the first ones to fly in a SpaceX Falcon rocket and Crew Dragon capsule. The liftoff is scheduled for Wednesday 16:33 EDT (20:33 GMT / 21:33 BST).