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NASA nears second Artemis moon rocket launch attempt after technical problems

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Ground teams at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday began a final full day of launch preparations on the eve of a second attempt to send NASA’s giant, next-generation moon rocket on its debut test flight, five days after technical problems foiled an initial try.

Mission managers were still “go” for a Saturday afternoon liftoff of the 32-story-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion space capsule to kick off NASA’s moon-to-Mars Artemis program, successor to the Apollo lunar missions a half-century ago, NASA officials said.

Tests conducted Thursday night showed technicians appeared to have fixed a leaky fuel line that contributed to NASA’s decision to halt Monday’s initial launch operation, Jeremy Parsons, a deputy program manager at the space center, told reporters on Friday.

Two other key issues on the rocket itself – a faulty engine temperature sensor and some cracks in insulation foam – have largely been resolved, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin told reporters Thursday night.

Melody Lovin, a launch weather officer for the U.S. Space Force in Cape Canaveral, said forecasts called for a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions during the two-hour Saturday launch window, which opens at 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT), as well as for a backup launch time on Monday.

“The weather continues to still look pretty good for the launch attempt on Saturday,” Lovin said. “I do not expect weather to be a show-stopper by any means for either launch window.”

Still, she added, the odds of scrubbing a launch on any given day for weather or any reason were about one-in-three.

The mission, dubbed Artemis I, marks the first voyage for both the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule, built under NASA contracts with Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corporation, respectively.

The SLS is set to launch Orion around the moon and back on a 37-day, uncrewed test flight designed to put both vehicles through their paces before flying astronauts in a subsequent mission targeted for 2024.

If the first two Artemis missions succeed, NASA is aiming to land astronauts back on the moon, including the first woman to set foot on the lunar surface, as early as 2025, though many experts believe that time frame is likely to slip by a few years.

Twelve astronauts walked on the moon during six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972, the only spaceflights yet to place humans on the lunar surface.

Unlike Apollo, the latest flights to the moon are aimed at establishing a long-term, sustainable base of operations on the lunar surface and in lunar orbit as a stepping stone for eventual human expeditions to Mars.

NASA’s first step is getting off the ground with the SLS, the biggest new vertical launch system the U.S. space agency has built since the Saturn V rocket of the Apollo era.

If the Artemis I mission is postponed again for any reason, NASA could try again either on Monday or Tuesday. After that, regulations limiting how long a rocket can remain at its launch tower would likely require the spacecraft to be rolled back to its assembly building before another liftoff attempt, Parsons said. Such a move would involve a more extended delay than a few days or a week.

Source: CGTN

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3 scientists awarded 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics for work in quantum mechanics

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The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded jointly to Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced on Tuesday.

The prize was awarded to the three scientists “for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science,” the Nobel Committee said in a statement.

Aspect, born in 1947 in France’s Agen, is a professor at Paris-Saclay University. Clauser, 80, is a research physicist at J.F. Clauser and Associates in the United States. Zeilinger, 77, serves as a professor at the University of Vienna.

The laureates’ development of experimental tools has “laid the foundation for a new era of quantum technology,” the committee said, adding that the ability to “manipulate and manage quantum states and all their layers of properties gives us access to tools with unexpected potential.”

“The 2022 #NobelPrize laureates in physics have conducted groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated,” the committee tweeted.

“The results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information.”

The three will share a prize of 10 million Swedish kronor ($901,500), which they will receive from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel who created the prizes in his last will and testament.

 

Source: CGTN

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China starts selecting 4th batch of astronauts

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China started the selection process of the fourth batch of astronauts to join later manned space missions, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

Between 12 and 14 candidates will be chosen, including seven or eight pilots. Engineers will also be selected as well as two payload experts.

The pilots will be selected among active pilots of China’s armed forces. The engineers will be picked from researchers and technicians in aerospace or related industries. And the payload experts will be drafted among those also researching space science.

The posts of payload experts are also open to applicants from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions for the first time.

The CMSA will carry out the selection procedure which is expected to last about 18 months.

Currently the Astronaut Center of China is training the third batch of 18 astronauts before they are certified for space missions.

China has 21 astronauts in total from the first and the second generations. 14 of them have taken part in nine missions, including the latest Shenzhou-14 mission.

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Diligent female chemist steeps in scientific innovation

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Yu Jihong, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, showed a thin “card” with high flexibility. It may be hard to imagine that it is a new type of lithium(Li)-air battery.

Yu, 55, a professor of chemistry at Jilin University in Changchun, northeast China’s Jilin Province, developed this flexible zeolite electrolyte solid-state Li-air battery, only 0.33 mm in thickness, together with her team members in 2021.

Their work has shown huge application potentials in flexible electronics and automobile power systems.

The Li-air battery is one of the breakthroughs made by Yu’s team, amid their continuous efforts to develop zeolite-based materials for more than three decades.

Zeolites are materials for molecular sieving, widely used in industrial catalysis and ion-exchange, according to Yu, a delegate to the upcoming 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Traditional studies of zeolites hit a bottleneck in the 1990s, but Yu persevered and dedicated herself to the rational synthesis of zeolites, a challenging research direction, despite others’ discouragement.

The efforts have borne fruit. Yu’s team pioneered the pathway toward rational design and zeolites synthesis. One of their major discoveries helps boost the efficiency and green development of zeolites synthesis.

These successes come with Yu’s diligence. Rushing back and forth, Yu is busy giving lessons, revising papers, and participating in academic conferences.

Yu sets an example of innovation and scientific research for her students. Her untiring efforts dedicated to teaching have nurtured more than 70 Ph.D. students.

Having won various of domestic and international awards, Yu still describes herself as “an ordinary teacher, an ordinary scientific worker, and a Party member.”

Yu said that she will continue to devote herself to scientific and technological innovation, making new contributions for the country.

 

Source: Xinhua

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