UFO Buster Radio News – 430: Crew-1 Go, Super Heavy Starship Booster, NASA Chief Stepping Down, and Bacterium Survived A Year in LEO

Manny/ November 10, 2020/ From Manny

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SpaceX Crew Dragon rolls out to pad for Crew-1 astronaut launch for NASA
Link: https://www.space.com/spacex-crew-1-dragon-capsule-rocket-rolls-out

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that will carry four astronauts to the International Space Station this weekend has made it to the launch pad.

The capsule, named Resilience, and its SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rolled out to Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida late Monday into early Tuesday (Nov. 9-10), NASA officials said.

The Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch Saturday evening (Nov. 14), sending four astronauts — NASA’s Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi — to the orbiting lab on Crew-1, SpaceX’s first operational astronaut mission for NASA.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program awarded SpaceX a $2.6 billion contract in 2014 to fly at least six operational crewed missions to the space station. The six-month-long Crew-1 is the first of those contracted flights, but it won’t be SpaceX’s first-ever astronaut mission. That distinction goes to Demo-2, a test flight that sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the station for two months this past summer.

SpaceX Kicks-Off Assembly on First Super Heavy Starship Booster in South Texas
SpaceX’s Super Heavy might be effectively complete in one month, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Link: https://interestingengineering.com/spacex-kicks-off-assembly-on-first-super-heavy-starship-booster-in-south-texas

SpaceX kicks-off Starship Super Heavy assembly in South Texas
Technically, SpaceX could build much smaller booster prototypes for the initial test flights into orbit — this might be done via modifying the tank design of Starship — but rocketry isn’t an exceedingly modular enterprise, Teslarati reports.

However, whether the move comes via confidence or contingency, SpaceX is jumping directly into Starship prototype development, toward a full-scale Super Heavy booster production and testing platform.

Super Heavy could be one of SpaceX’s easiest projects

Indeed, in an inversion of the typical relationship, the next-gen rocket’s booster will probably be much simpler than the upper stage — which would be the largest spacecraft with reusable parts and upper stage in the world.

Lacking a need for a tiled heat shield, aerodynamic control surfaces (discounting Falcon-style grid fins), a conical nose, and possibly even internal header tanks, the only serious challenge Super Heavy faces for the first time is developing an engine section capable of feeding and supporting up to 28 Raptor engines.

Jim Bridenstine will step aside as NASA chief when President-elect Biden takes over: report
Link: https://www.space.com/nasa-chief-bridenstine-step-aside-president-biden

NASA will apparently be getting a new leader after president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine won’t remain in the agency’s lead role in the Biden administration even if asked, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report reported on Sunday (Nov. 8).

“You need somebody who has a close relationship with the president of the U.S. … somebody trusted by the administration …. including OMB [Office of Management and Budget], National Space Council, National Security Council,” Bridenstine told Irene Klotz, space editor for Aviation Week, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report’s parent publication. “I think I would not be the right person for that in a new administration.”

“There is a political agreement that America needs to do big things in space exploration, that we need to lead the world … There have been lessons learned from the past, and I think Congress is in a good position to make sure that we have sustainable programs going forward,” he said in one of the tweeted snippets. And in another one, he stressed that “there are a lot of people that can do great work as the NASA administrator.”

This Bacterium Survived on The Outside of The Space Station For a Whole Damn Year
Link: https://www.sciencealert.com/this-bacterium-survived-on-the-outside-of-the-space-station-for-a-year

A year in space is no walk in the park. Just ask Scott Kelly, the American astronaut who spent a year on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015.

His long-term stay in space changed his DNA, telomeres, and gut microbiome, he lost bone density, and he still had sore feet three months later.

So, it’s quite a feat that a species of bacterium first found in a can of meat, Deinococcus radiodurans, was still alive and kicking after a year spent living on a specially designed platform outside the pressurised module of the ISS.

Researchers have been investigating these mighty microbes for a while; back in 2015, an international team set up the Tanpopo mission on the outside of the Japanese Experimental Module Kibo, to put hardy bacterial species to the test.

Now, D. radiodurans has passed with flying colours.

This isn’t the longest time D. radiodurans has been kept in these conditions – back in August we wrote about a sample of the bacterium being left up there for three whole years.

But the team weren’t trying for a world record, instead they were trying to uncover what makes D. radiodurans just so good at surviving in these extreme conditions.

So, after a year of radiation, freezing and boiling temperatures, and no gravity, the researchers got the spacefaring bacteria back down to Earth, rehydrated both a control that had spent the year on Earth and the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) sample, and compared their results.

The survival rate was a lot lower for the LEO bacteria compared to the control version, but the bacteria that did survive seemed to be doing okay, even if they had turned a little different to their Earth-bound brethren.

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