Space Exploration / Space Flight: Manned

Rubyait

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Should Britain fund astronauts?


British astronomers are seeking your views on the merits of sending humans to visit the Moon or Mars.

The Royal Astronomical Society has set up a commission to investigate whether the UK should break with tradition by funding human spaceflight.

The panel of three independent experts wants to hear the opinions of BBC News website readers.

Britain must decide in December its commitment to European proposals for future space missions.

The European Space Agency (Esa) has floated ambitious plans to send robotic spacecraft to Mars ahead of a possible human journey in 2033. But the UK has always been against costly human spaceflight, preferring to send robots to do the work instead.

The UK will have to invest millions of pounds in the Aurora programme if it is to play a leading role.

Chair of the commission, Professor Frank Close, a particle physicist at Oxford University, says a human Mars mission would be very costly.

"It's clear the [UK] scientific budget alone would never fund a human mission to Mars," he told BBC News.

"Everyone's fascinated by space and science fiction but turning it into fact is a very expensive business. If it were to happen, public opinion would be a very important factor indeed."

Lukewarm response

Man last set foot on the Moon in 1972, escaping the gravity of the Earth using computer technology that would not even work one of today's modern home PCs.

While astronauts have been into space since then, they have largely been confined to the Earth's near orbit, carrying out relatively mundane work such as on the International Space Station.

When President Bush spoke last year of a new vision for the US space programme, sending astronauts to the Moon and even Mars, he revived dreams of venturing back out into the Solar System.

These have been echoed in Europe, which now hopes to build on the success of its Mars Express spacecraft with a series of missions to the Red Planet and beyond.

However, the issue of human spaceflight has always divided the scientific community.

Some believe only human spaceflight can truly capture the imagination of the general public, and have the adaptability to take missions that extra mile.

Others would prefer to channel money into the sort of science that can be done by machines.

"Space scientists will be at best lukewarm [to the idea of funding human spaceflight]," says panel member Professor Ken Pounds, an astrophysicist at the University of Leicester.

"We are very conscious of the fact that if we do anything involving humans in space, the costs rocket by at least a factor of 10 and maybe more.

"What do the general public feel about it? They are going to be paying the bill."

Lonely journey

The third "wise man" on the panel is Dr John Dudeney, of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge.

Having spent long periods cooped up on research stations in Antarctica he is well placed to comment on what life might be like for astronauts spending long periods on the Moon or Mars with only each other for company.

"There are some parallels you can draw," he says.

Research on the frozen continent has involved a mixture of both man and machines, as it might do one day on Mars.

Dr Dudeney says it is important to consider what robots are capable of doing now, then think forward to what they might be able to do in 10 or 15 years' time.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4541719.stm

If only we had the cash eh!
 

Rubyait

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China set for second space shot

China's second manned space mission will blast off on 13 October at the earliest, Chinese news sources claim.
The Shenzhou-6 spacecraft will launch from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Base, in the Gobi desert of northern China.

Reports say the Chinese will send two astronauts into space for a mission lasting about five days.

China's first manned launch in October 2003 made it only the third country to send a human into space on its own, after Russia and the US.

The military-backed space programme is a major prestige project for the communist government.

China has announced plans to land an unmanned probe on the Moon by 2010, as well as operate a space station.

Shenzhou-6 will blast off at 1100 local time to improve safety and allow personnel more preparation time, unlike some previous unmanned missions that launched at night and in the pre-dawn hours.

The launch window is scheduled to run from 13-17 October, the Chinese media reports say.

Divine vessel

The Shenzhou, or "Divine Vessel", is a modified version of the three-seat Russian Soyuz capsule.

During their voyage, the two astronauts will be able to take off their 10kg (22lb) space suits, travel between the re-entry capsule and the orbiter and conduct scientific experiments.

The shape of the craft is said to be no different from that of Shenzhou-5.

But the state-run China News Service quoted an unnamed researcher as saying that the new space capsule was not a duplicate, adding that there are more than 100 technological modifications to make it more conducive to scientific research.

The news service said the astronauts would have sleeping bags, for greater comfort, and would be able to heat up their food, wash and take rests.

It said they would spend 119 hours in space before landing at Siziwangqi in China's northern grasslands.

Strong candidates

In October 2003, Colonel Yang Liwei, a former fighter pilot, orbited the Earth for 21.5 hours aboard the Shenzhou-5 capsule.

Earlier reports said Yang would not be aboard the latest mission. Instead, he is said to be helping train former fighter pilots who are the candidates for Shenzhou-6.

The initial group of 14 had been narrowed down to three pairs, or a total of six, the China News Service said.

It added that Zhai Zhigang and Nie Haisheng, two candidates for Shenzhou-5, were "the strongest group with the greatest confidence" for carrying out the new mission.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4282382.stm
 

Rubyait

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Bill calls for NASA to complete space station


The US Senate has approved a bill that would require NASA to complete the International Space Station. The approval came just a day after NASA's chief criticised the ISS and space shuttle.

Michael Griffin said: "Had the decision been mine, we would not have built the space station we're building in the orbit we're building it in."

He also told USA Today that the decision in the 1970s to replace the Apollo programme with the reusable space shuttle "was not the right path", adding "we are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can."

Howard McCurdy, a space policy expert at American University in Washington DC, interprets Griffin's remarks as a bid to boost support for NASA's new plan to return to the Moon.

"What he's trying to do, of course, is build congressional support" for the plan announced by President George Bush in January 2004, McCurdy says. "Griffin is saying 'The past is awful, and I have a solution'. This is at a time when Congress could look at the $104 billion for going to the Moon and say we've found the money for repairing the Gulf Coast."

But McCurdy adds: "It's also a risky statement because it invites more attention to the human spaceflight program at a time when the government needs the money for other purposes."

Beds for six
The Senate bill, and a similar House of Representatives' bill, spell out that NASA should complete construction of the ISS so that it can support six people. Both bills were written well before Griffin's remarks.

NASA spokesman Allard Beutel says it is NASA's intention to have six or more people live on the ISS. But there is currently insufficient space for six people to sleep on the station. In 2002, plans for the habitation module were axed, along with a larger emergency escape vehicle, due to an overrun of $4 billion on the space station budget.

The shuttle fleet is currently grounded over safety concerns. But NASA plans to make a maximum of 18 flights to the ISS between now and its retirement – fewer if some cargo can be sent up on other rockets. NASA's stated policy is to retire the shuttles in 2010.

The Senate bill stresses reducing the gap between the retirement of the shuttle and the first launch of its replacement, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, slated for 2012. It does not specify how the gap should be reduced, but some senators have argued for extending the shuttle programme until the CEV is ready.

Some differences remain between the Senate and House bills - the House version does not mandate the 2010 retirement – and these differences must be reconciled before the bills are passed.

The bills are required to authorise NASA's funding. Another key aspect of the current debate is whether NASA can realistically afford to run the shuttle programme at the same time as developing the new Moon mission.

Staging post
One long-term goal of the Moon mission is to set up a staging post for human exploration further into the solar system.

This was an original aim of the space station. But the station's planned orbit changed after Russia was invited to play a role. That was because Russia's main cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, is at a higher latitude than the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The resultant orbit means the station has less potential as a springboard for crewed exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.

http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn8077
 

Rubyait

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Brazilian Astronaut To Travel To ISS In March 2006


Brazil's first astronaut will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard a Russian Soyuz spaceship in March 2006, the Brazilian Space Agency (BSA) said Thursday, reports RIA Novosti.
A BSA spokeswoman said the Russian Federal Space Agency and the BSA were holding talks in Moscow. Astronaut Marcus Pontes will fly to Moscow to familiarize himself with Soyuz life support and operation systems. In 2000, he was certified as an astronaut at NASA's space center in Houston, Texas.

The final agreement on the flight will be signed October 18 when the Brazilian president visits Russia, the spokeswoman said.

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http://www.spacedaily.com/news/iss-05zzzzj.html
 

Rubyait

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Countdown For Chinese Space Launch As Special Guests Start Arriving


China began the countdown Tuesday for its second manned foray into space, as specially invited guests poured off trains in the city of Jiuquan near the launch site to witness the event.
Communist party officials and other VIPs filled the overnight train from Lanzhou, the nearest major industrial city, gladly accepting a bumpy nine-hour ride for an opportunity to watch history unfold.

"We didn't get a chance to watch the first manned launch two years ago, so this time we really wanted to go," said one of the passengers, a middle-aged woman.

"My husband works with a telecom company that's doing business with the launch center, so I secured an invite for me and my daughter."

Officials involved in the launch told AFP that Shenzhou VI would blast off on Wednesday morning, although the Xinhua news agency said only that the vessel would leave some time between Wednesday and Saturday.

"This is not because we like being secretive, it's all because we don't know when the weather will be suitable for a launch," said a Jiuquan police officer, patrolling the street here in his black uniform.

Previous reports have suggested that cool temperatures could delay the launch, and weather forecasters have warned of unseasonably cold weather in northern China this week.

Xinhua said the two astronauts for the five-day mission had been selected and would undergo final physical examinations Tuesday.

Previous reports said that Zhai Zhigang and Nie Haisheng would pilot the craft although at least one state newspaper Tuesday said Zhai had been dropped in favour of Fei Junlong.

"Preparations for the launch are going well," an unnamed official on the space program told Xinhua.

Like its first manned space launch in October 2003, which made China only the third nation after the United States and the former Soviet Union to send a man into orbit, this one will take place from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

A community of 15,000 served by everything from an Olympic-size swimming pool to a fast-food joint, it is located on the edge of the Gobi desert, several hours' drive away from Jiuquan city.

It is only rarely open to visitors, and this week has been sealed off completely, with roadblocks in place and the military patrolling the area.

Space enthusiasts from all over China started arriving in groups as early as a week ago, all of them eager to get as close to Shenzhou VI as possible.

They might have had a better shot at getting a good look if they had stayed at home in front of their TV sets.

China's state television has announced it plans a live transmission of the launch, reflecting confidence that it will go according to plan.

Foreign observers said China had good reason not to worry, as it was not taking any major risks with Shenzhou VI as compared with Shenzhou V.

"It's the same kind of spacecraft doing the same kind of thing, except that they must prove that their system can work for five days rather than just one day," said David Baker, a London-based space policy analyst with Jane's Defence Weekly.

"The last Shenzhou unmanned missions stayed up for up to five days, so they're not trying anything that their unmanned versions of Shenzhou have not done already."

The Shenzhou spacecraft is based on the robust and thoroughly tested Soviet design for the Soyuz vessel, and consists of three modules.

These include the orbital module where scientific experiments are carried out; the re-entry capsule where the astronauts will spend most of their time; and the service module, which contains fuel and air, solar panels and other technical gear.

related report
Confident China Prepares For Second Manned Foray Into Space
China was expected to launch its second manned space mission on Wednesday from a remote desert region, swelling national pride and leaving many foreign observers in awe at what the country has achieved.

The launch of Shenzhou VI has been shrouded in secrecy and is subject to weather conditions, but an official from the technical department of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center said it would happen on Wednesday.

"It is October 12 at 9:00 am," the official, who refused to be named, told

The China National Space Administration could not confirm the date. However, a travel agent taking domestic tourists to witness the launch said he had been advised to be at the site early Wednesday morning.

China's state news agency Xinhua early Tuesday reported in an "urgent" dispatch that the launch would take place "at a proper time" between Wednesday and Saturday. It quoted an unnamed official of the space program.

Xinhua said the launch would be broadcast live on China Central Television, on radio and the Internet.

The six astronauts shortlisted for the two-member mission have arrived at the launch pad in Inner Mongolia, the China News Service said, quoting engineers at the launch center.

China's state-run press reported that Zhai Zhigang and Nie Haisheng would likely pilot the five-day mission.

It will be almost exactly two years after the successful October 15, 2003 launch of astronaut Yang Liwei into space, making China only the third nation after the United States and the former Soviet Union to accomplish such a feat.

"The Chinese should be very proud of what they are accomplishing," said David Baker, a London-based space policy analyst for Jane's Defence Weekly.

"It's the kind of activity that only a developed and well-organized industrial nation can pull off."

While the Shenzhou technology is based on 1950s and 1960s Soviet science, analysts said it would be wrong to shrug off China's space program.

"If it was easy, China wouldn't be the third country with a manned program," said Joan Johnson-Freese, an expert on Chinas space program at the US Naval War College.

"The technology isn't exactly breakthrough technology, but being able to put it all together and make it work, is sending a message that in fact China has integration skills, it has follow-through capability to build this kind of technology."

The Shenzhou spacecraft, based on the robust and thoroughly tested Soviet design for the Soyuz vessel, is basically the same this time as two years ago.

It consists of three modules -- the orbital module where scientific experiments are carried out; the re-entry capsule where the astronauts will spend most of their time; and the service module, which contains fuel and air, solar panels and other technical gear.

During his 21-hour trip to space in 2003, Yang never left the re-entry capsule, but this time will be different.

The two astronauts will enter into the orbital module in the front to conduct a large number of tests, presumably designed to check their physical reactions to conditions in space.

"This is very, very typical of the Chinese space program," said Brian Harvey, the Dublin-based author of a book on China's space endeavors. "They go quite a big step each time. They very rarely repeat missions."

The data collected will be used for what is China's objective for the medium term: a space station to promote cutting-edge scientific research in orbit and boost national pride on the ground.

China's spending on its space program is a state secret, but what is clear is that by international standards it is a mere shoestring budget.

Harvey believes it is around six billion dollars -- or approximately one sixth of the American expenditure.

Still, the question posed by many is why Beijing is pushing on with its space program at all.

"The answer really lies in prestige first, direct economic and social applications second, and using the space program as a cutting-edge tool for technology third," said Harvey.

As befitting a country proud to tout its 5,000-year history, China is not going into space just for short-term considerations.

"Much more than America, much more than Europe, China really does look at the very, very long-term view," said Baker of Jane's Defence Weekly.

"And it does see that in this century, and it may take the whole of this century, it wants to end up having options to exploit if there is a commercial purpose to mining lunar materials for instance."

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/china-05zzzzzzzzl.html
 

Rubyait

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and there off...


China astronauts blast into space


China has successfully launched its second manned spacecraft, carrying two Chinese astronauts into orbit.
The lift-off, from Jiuquan in the Gobi desert, was shown live on state television and included views from a camera on the outside of the craft.

The mission is expected to see the Shenzhou VI orbit the Earth for five days, during which the astronauts will carry out experiments.

It comes almost exactly two years after China's first manned space flight.

In a sign of growing official confidence about the programme, the launch was announced in advance and broadcast in full on state television.

The two men chosen for the mission, former fighter pilots Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, were selected after a rigorous screening process.

TV pictures of the two men were seen by millions of people across China, as the rocket blasted off at 0900 local time (0100 GMT).

"Feeling pretty good," Mr Fei said, in the first broadcast comments from the craft.

State television later reported that the two men had eaten pineapple-filled moon cakes for breakfast.

The astronauts' mission is expected to be more complicated, and last longer, than the 2003 launch.

China's official media has speculated that the space capsule will be in orbit for five days, circling the Earth up to 80 times before landing in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.

China's official media said the astronauts would take off their space suits and travel back and forth between two parts of the spacecraft - a re-entry capsule and an orbiter. They are also expected to carry out various experiments.

Elite club

Shenzhou VI, like Shenzhou V, is based on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, a model developed in the late 1960s.

Beijing has attached great importance to its space programme, viewing it as a source of national pride and international prestige.

Shortly after the take-off, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao congratulated all involved in the programme, saying the flight had been a "success".

China's first manned space voyage two years ago made it only the third country to launch a human into space on its own, along with Russia and the US.

The astronaut chosen for that mission - Yang Liwei - was hailed as a national hero on his return to Earth.

China hopes to set up a space station within five years and eventually it wants to put an astronaut on the moon.

A Chinese official was quoted by Xinhua as saying that spending on the Shenzhou project had reached $2.3bn, compared to US' annual space budget of $16bn.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-p ... 333158.stm
 

Rubyait

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A good day in space for China’s taikonauts

The two Chinese taikonauts who blasted into orbit on the Shenzhou VI spacecraft on Wednesday have successfully completed the first of a planned five days in space.

Former fighter pilots Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng blasted off on a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in north-west China at 0900 local time (0100 GMT).

About nine hours later, they moved from the re-entry capsule at the centre of the craft into the front orbital module, where they will spend most of their mission, according to the country’s official news agency, Xinhua.

They have already surpassed China's first crewed spaceflight in October 2003 in both flight time and onboard activities. In the previous Shenzhou V flight, taikonaut Yang Liwei spent the entire 21-hour flight strapped into the re-entry capsule, eating cold food and essentially using a diaper to relieve himself.

Hot food
In the Shenzhou VI mission, the two crew members can shed their bulky space suits in the orbital module, take turns resting in sleeping bags, and have use of a toilet.

They can also warm their meals, which include 50 menu items including beef with orange peel, rice and strawberries. But the reduced gravity means they will have to forego the use of chopsticks in favour of forks and spoons.

The taikonauts are expected to conduct tests of their own reactions to microgravity as well as the sturdiness of their vehicle. Xinhua reports that on Thursday, they will open and close capsule doors, put on and take off their space suits and use onboard equipment more forcefully than necessary "so as to test the disturbance of people's movement on the spacecraft".

Power boost
The Shenzhou (Chinese for "divine ship") is an upgraded, larger version of Russia's Soyuz vehicle. Like the Soyuz, it is divided into three sections: the orbital module, the re-entry capsule and a service module that carries fuel and supplies.

It carries two pairs of solar panels rather than the single pair on Soyuz, giving it about three times as much power as the Russian craft. The extra solar panels lie on the orbital module, which also boasts its own propulsion and control systems.

As in the Shenzhou V mission, this module is expected to remain in orbit for perhaps six months after the two crew members return to Earth in the re-entry capsule. Parachutes will buffer that capsule when it lands in the grassy plains of Inner Mongolia in northern China.

The flight should also test China's tracking system, which relies on radar stations in China, Namibia and on four ships positioned around the world.

http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn8148
 

Rubyait

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First Brazilian astronaut returns to Earth

Marcos Pontes returned to Earth on Sunday from an 11-day trip to the International Space Station that made him Brazil's first astronaut.

The Soyuz capsule landed in northwest Kazakhstan early on Sunday local time (2348 GMT on Saturday) after undocking from the ISS about three-and-a-half hours earlier.

Having been tracked down by a fleet of Russian helicopters, the capsule was opened and Pontes emerged smiling along with US astronaut William MacArthur and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev. The latter two had spent around 190 days aboard the ISS.

The three were handed cups of tea to help warm them in the bitter cold night - the temperature was -8°C - before being taken to a medical tent for checks and then flown to Kostanai, in northern Kazakhstan.

Brazilian space officials heaped praise on Pontes, a 43-year-old air force officer, who blasted off on 30 March from the Baikonur cosmodrome that Russia leases from Kazakhstan.

"Our stars were fortuitous. Undoubtedly he will receive an award from the government, but his biggest award will be in the hearts of all Brazilians," said one Brazilian official.

During his stay, Pontes conducted eight scientific experiments. However, there has been criticism of the flight in Brazil. "The scientific value of this voyage is almost nil," said Ennio Candotti, president of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science, according to the New York Times. He described Pontes as a "space tourist".

Scientists and other argue the estimated $10.5 million Brazil paid Russia for Pontes's flight would have been better spent on research back on Earth or reconstructing a space base which was destroyed by an explosion on a launch pad in 2003. The Brazilian Space Agency believes the flight will raise the profile of space research and help it increase its budget.

http://www.newscientistspace.com/articl ... earth.html
 
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hunck

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Get your thinking trousers on.

NASA offering £24,000 reward to the person who can solve the problem of how astronauts go to the loo in space


It wants to find a solution to the issue when astronauts have to spend days in their spacesuits in an emergency.

NASA has put up a cash prize of $30,000 ( £24,000) for anybody who can design a portable, hands-free device that can dispose of human waste in space for at least six days.

Experts say there is a limit to how long a person can spend with their own waste before it poses a grave health threat.
 

Bigphoot2

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I find the best solutions are often the simplest - now just get that cheque in the post :)
IMG_1359_EDIT-1184x797.jpg
 

hunck

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That's a corker! 'Course you'd need the special mallet to hammer in.
 

Vardoger

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rynner2

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How about a simple open/closeable hole in the wall of the space station to stick their arse into and just let the vacuum of space suck the shit out? :clap:
I fear it might also suck his entrails out... :eek:
 

Bigphoot2

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How about a simple open/closeable hole in the wall of the space station to stick their arse into and just let the vacuum of space suck the shit out? :clap:

There's also Newton's Third Law of Motion (or should it be Turd Law of Motions) to contend with.
 

Bigphoot2

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That's a corker! 'Course you'd need the special mallet to hammer in.

NASA would spend billions of dollars developing a Human Waste Containment Module Locator.
 

hunck

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Come now, you're not taking this entirely seriously. They're actually looking for a system for use in emergency situations where an astronaut has to live in his suit for up to 6 days.

Mind you, I'm not sure how he'd eat & drink during this time.
 

Swifty

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The NASA Snoopy award.

(cut and pasted from the below link)

'Of all the SFA Awards, the Silver Snoopy best symbolizes the intent and spirit of Space Flight Awareness. An astronaut always presents the Silver Snoopy because it is the astronauts' own award for outstanding performance, contributing to flight safety and mission success. Fewer than 1 percent of the aerospace program workforce receive it annually, making it a special honour to receive this award.

The award is a sterling silver Snoopy lapel pin that has flown in space on a Space Shuttle mission, plus a certificate of appreciation and commendation letter for the employee, both signed by the astronaut.'

asnoopy.jpg


https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/sfa/aac/silver-snoopy-award
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fr...0.Xnasa+snoopy.TRS0&_nkw=nasa+snoopy&_sacat=0
 

Mythopoeika

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Yep, Buzz ain't shy.
 

Ascalon

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I like watches, and I especially like the ones worn by astronauts.
Here is one being fixed by an astronaut at work.

 

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China has launched the first module of its new space station.

"China has launched a key module of a new permanent space station, the latest in Beijing's increasingly ambitious space program.

The Tianhe module - which contains living quarters for crew members - was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on a Long March-5B rocket.

China hopes to have the new station operational by 2022."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-56924370
 

charliebrown

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The Long March 5 B rocket is in an uncontrolled tumble back to earth.

The warning has been put out that this rocket can crash anywhere in the world within a few days.

What may save a crash into where people live is that the earth is 2/3 water and 1/3 land.

Do they sell rocket debris damage insurance ?
 

EnolaGaia

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charliebrown

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Since this rocket uncontrollably circles the earth every 90 minutes, the TV people claim it can go anywhere.

They seem to think New York, Madrid, Beijing, and Wellington, New Zealand are targets ?
 

Mythopoeika

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Since this rocket uncontrollably circles the earth every 90 minutes, the TV people claim it can go anywhere.

They seem to think New York, Madrid, Beijing, and Wellington, New Zealand are targets ?
Let it be Beijing. Then maybe they'll do something about their sloppy launching techniques.
 
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