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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Video:Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane exploded and crashedduring a test flight on Friday

by tap taru  |  in space at  11:22 AM
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane exploded and crashed during a test flight on Friday, killing one crew member and seriously injuring another, authorities said.
The explosion came after the plane dropped away from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and fired up its hybrid rocket engine, said Stuart Witt, CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The blast scattered debris across a two-mile swath of the desert floor north of Mojave, which is about 95 miles (150 kilometers) outside Los Angeles.
One of the two test pilots aboard the plane was killed, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who was among the officials dealing with the crash's aftermath.
The other parachuted to the ground and was injured. That pilot was transferred to Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California, according to Kern County Deputy Fire Chief Michael Cody.

Virgin Galactic on Crash: Space is Hard and Today Was a Tough Day

"We hope that the survivor will be just fine," Youngblood said during a news briefing.
The pilots have not yet been identified, but both of them worked for Mojave-based Scaled Composites, according to Scaled's president, Kevin Mickey. Scaled has played a key role in developing and testing SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic had planned to use this SpaceShipTwo to fly passengers on suborbital trips to the edge of space, beginning as early as next year. A nearly identical rocket plane is already under construction inside a Mojave hangar. More than 700 customers, including celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber, have paid as much as $250,000 to take a ride.
George T. Whitesides, Virgin Galactic's CEO, said the company would press on despite the setback.
"Space is hard, and today was a tough day," Whitesides told reporters. "We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today, and we're going to get through it. The future rests in many ways on hard, hard days like this. But we believe we owe it to the folks who were flying these vehicles as well as the folks who are working so hard on them to understand this and to move forward."
Witt said Mojave's close-knit aviation community was hit hard by the tragedy.
"When we have a mishap from the test community, we find that the test community is very small," he said. "We are human, and it hurts."

First powered flight in months

SpaceShipTwo's crew was testing the rocket engine in flight for the first time in more than nine months. The plane was slung beneath WhiteKnightTwo for takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port at about 9:20 a.m. PT (12:20 p.m. ET). When the paired planes reached a height of about 50,000 feet, about 40 minutes later, SpaceShipTwo was released for the test.
Witt said the anomaly occurred about two minutes after SpaceShipTwo dropped away and fired the rocket engine, but he didn't see any explosion. "It wasn't because something did happen. It was what I was not hearing and notseeing," Witt said.
Photographer Ken Brown, who was covering the test flight, told NBC News that he saw an explosion high in the air and later came upon SpaceShipTwo debris scattered across a small area of the desert. The WhiteKnightTwo plane and its pilots, meanwhile, landed safely.
Authorities cordoned off the crash site pending an investigation. A National Transportation Safety Board team was expected to get to the crash site Saturday morning. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was also investigating the incident.
Mickey said he expected that the investigation would take several days.
New kind of fuel tested
During the nine months since the previous rocket-powered test in January, Virgin Galactic switched SpaceShipTwo's fuel mixture from a rubber-based compound to a plastic-based mix — in hopes that the new formulation would boost the hybrid rocket engine's performance.
Mickey said engines using the new type of fuel had been thoroughly tested on the ground. The final pre-flight qualification engine firing took place earlier this month. Friday's test marked the first time the new fuel was used in flight, but Mickey said "we expected no anomalies with the motor today."
Before Friday's flight, the most recent aerial outing was on Oct. 7, when SpaceShipTwo took an unpowered, gliding flight back to the Mojave runway.
The fatal flight was part of SpaceShipTwo's years-long test program, following up on the successful suborbital spaceflights of the smaller SpaceShipOne rocket plane in 2004. Virgin Galactic had said SpaceShipTwo's first test flight to an outer-space altitude — usually defined as 100 kilometers, or 62 miles — could have taken place before the end of the year.
The company's billionaire founder, Richard Branson, was hoping to ride on the first commercial flight next year. Over the past decade, he and his investment partners have puthundreds of millions of dollars into the Virgin Galactic venture. After Friday's crash, Branson said in a Twitter update that he was "flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team."

Image: SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwoJASON DIVENERE / SCALED COMPOSITES
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane is slung beneath the WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane before Friday's takeoff.

NBC News' Julianne Pepitone and James Eng contributed to this report. NBCUniversal has established a multi-platform partnership with Virgin Galactic to track the development of SpaceShipTwo and televise Branson's spaceflight.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unmanned NASA-contracted rocket explodes; damage is 'significant'

by tap taru  |  in NASA at  10:15 AM

Watch this video

NASA rocket explodes on launch

(CNN) -- An unmanned NASA-contracted rocket exploded early Tuesday evening along the eastern Virginia coast, causing a huge fireball but no apparent deaths.

According to NASA, the Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft were set to launch at 6:22 p.m. ET from the Wallops Flight Facility along the Atlantic Ocean. It was set to carry some 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

"There was failure on launch," NASA spokesman Jay Bolden said. "There was no indicated loss of life."

Bolden added, "There was significant property and vehicle damage. Mission control is trying to assess what went wrong."

Video shows the rocket rising into the air for a few seconds before an explosion. It then plummets back to Earth, causing more flames as it hits the ground. NASA tweeted that the failure occurred six seconds after launch.

Ed Encina was among those who watched it happen from about three miles away in the remote resort area.

"You immediately thought that everything was fine, because you see the big launch, and it brightened up the sky," said Encina, a Baltimore Sun reporter. "And then all of a sudden, you see a big fireball."

Encina recalled a loud boom that caused "your feet (to) shake a little bit," as well as flames enveloping a roughly 100-yard area around the launch pad in a marshy area with brush.

Did you witness the rocket explosion? Please share your images

Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, explained that such a colossal fire was to be expected.

"It takes a lot of propellant to take a spacecraft of that size moving 25 times the speed of sound," Kelly told CNN, explaining how fast the rocket should have gone on its way to the space station. "So when it fails, it's usually pretty catastrophic."

Afterward, the launch director said on NASA's feed that all personnel were accounted for and that no injuries were reported.

He added that the spacecraft contained "classified ... equipment," and that there was a need to maintain the area around the debris field for investigative and potential security reasons given what was on board.

iReport: Explosion as seen from Maryland's eastern shore

The launch had been scheduled for Monday, but that was scrubbed "because of a boat down range in the trajectory Antares would have flown had it lifted off," according to NASA.

Just before Tuesday's liftoff, the space agency reported "100% favorable" weather and "no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft being worked."

About one-third of the spacecraft's cargo consisted of material for scientific investigations, including a Houston school's experiment on pea growth and a study on blood flow in space.

There was about the same amount of cargo for supplies for the space station's crew, including more than 1,300 pounds of food.

It adds up to a big loss, and it wasn't immediately clear if a new mission will be added to compensate. Still, that doesn't mean the space station's six-person crew will go hungry in the meantime.

They still have goods on board and will get more soon: A Soyuz resupply spacecraft stocked with cargo and crew supplies is set to launch Wednesday from Kazakhstan. And SpaceX, a private company, should have its own fifth mission later this year, including more supplies and a laser instrument to measure pollution, dust and other aspects of the atmosphere, according to NASA.

NASA won't directly send anything up to the space station. That's because, since the end of the space shuttle program, it has relied on private companies to bring materials to the space station, albeit using NASA facilities for launch.

Orbital's first such commercial supply mission, in fact, was in January out of the Wallops Flight Facility. The Virginia-based company has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to make eight flights to the space station under the space agency's commercial supply program.

Orbital becomes second private firm to send cargo to ISS

Tuesday's launch was supposed to be the fourth flight for Orbital until it ended, as the company acknowledged in a statement, in "catastrophic failure."

"We will conduct a thorough investigation immediately to determine the cause of this failure and what steps can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident," said Frank Culbertson, the general manager of Orbital's Advanced Programs Group. "As soon as we understand the cause, we will begin the necessary work to return to flight to support our customers and the nation's space program."

CNN's Chandler Friedman and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mysterious 4,000-Year-Old 'Phaistos Disk' Code Finaly Cracked

by tap taru  |  in History at  7:42 PM

Decrypting the enigmatic Phaistos Disk

The decoding of the Phaistos Disk has puzzled specialists for over a century, however new findings describe the disk as “the first Minoan CD-ROM’ featuring a prayer to a mother. Gareth Owens, Erasmus coordinator at the Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Crete, speaking at the TEI of Western Macedonia on Monday, said the disk is dedicated to a “mother”.
“The most stable word and value is ‘mother’, and in particular the mother goddess of the Minoan era,” said Dr. Owens. He says there is one complex of signs found in three parts of one side of the disk spelling I-QE-KU-RJA, with I-QE meaning “great lady of importance” while a key word appears to be AKKA, or “pregnant mother,” according to the researcher. One side is devoted to a pregnant woman and the other to a woman giving birth.

The disk was discovered in 1908 at the palace of Phaistos, in the northeastern part of the Aegean Island of Crete.The round clay object, tentatively dated close to 1700 B.C., displays an unknown language on both sides which is carved in a circular fashion, from outside to the centre.

More information is available on the institution’s web site Daidalika.
Source: Protothema [October 21, 2014]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Watch Live Streaming:Partial Solar Eclipse Of October 23,2014

by tap taru  |  at  5:29 PM

partial solar eclipse on the afternoon of October 23rd will be visible from much of North America. But the denizens of New England, 
So that's why we'll be watching online instead. Two observatories are offering their services for Thursday's event, so whether you live in the wrong place or under the wrong weather, you can still catch the celestial magic. And if you know of anyone else streaming the event, help out your fellow astronomer by posting in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Orionid Meteor Shower:Watch Live Halley's Comet Crumbs Online Tonight

by tap taru  |  in Meteor Showers at  11:13 PM

Some skywatchers captured incredible views of the Orionid meteor shower earlier this week, but even if you can't catch the peaking shower outside tonight (Oct. 21), you can still see it live online.

Representatives with the online Slooh Community Observatory are hoping to capture some amazing footage of the "shooting stars" during a webcast tonight (Oct. 21). You can watch the broadcast — which will feature views from telescopes in the Canary Islands and Arizona — live directly through Slooh ( starting at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 Oct. 22 GMT). Slooh experts will be available to discuss the science of the shower, and they have also set up a way for viewers to hear the ionization of the meteors as they streak through the atmosphere. You can also see the meteor shower webcast live on

"The Orionids are usually the year’s third-richest meteor shower," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. "Not to mention that they zoom away from one of the best known and easily recognized constellations. But this year they’re particularly conspicuous because, unlike the August Perseids that unfolded under a full moon, and the December Geminids, which will also be diminished by moonlight during half the night, the moon will be totally absent for the 2014 Orionids. It should be quite a nice show."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

World losing race against Ebola, UN official warns

by tap taru  |  in Health at  5:01 PM

The world is falling behind in a desperate race to gain the upper hand over the deadly Ebola outbreak, a top UN official has warned.

The latest death toll from the worst Ebola outbreak ever is 4,447, from 8,914 recorded infection cases.

The three hardest-hit countries are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"Ebola got a head start on us," said Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

"It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race," he told the UN Security Council in New York, by remote link from UNMEER headquarters in Ghana.

"If Ebola wins, we the peoples of the United Nations lose so very much," he said.

"We either stop Ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan," Mr Banbury stressed.

He said that with infection rates rising exponentially every day, UNMEER will need 7,000 beds for treatment.

"There's much bad news about Ebola but the good news is we know how to stop it," he added.

However, to push back the spread "we must defeat Ebola and we must do it fast," he said.

"With every day that passes, the number of sick people increases.

"Time is our biggest enemy. We must use every minute of every day to our advantage and that is what UNMEER is doing."

WHO assistant director general Bruce Aylward said the epidemic "could reach 5,000 to 10,000 cases per week by the first week of December", but described his figures as a working forecast.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Watch Blood Moon Total Eclipse October 8,2014 Live Broadcast

by tap taru  |  at  5:04 PM

The Cosmos News Astronomy&Space Videos


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