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SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launches successfully

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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, its first spacecraft designed to carry humans, took flight for the first time Saturday.

An uncrewed demonstration mission took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Saturday, en route to the International Space Station.
The successful launch without people puts SpaceX one step closer to an historic landmark: Crew Dragon could be the first commercially built spacecraft to carry NASA astronauts to orbit. And Crew Dragon — along with a capsule called Starliner built by Boeing — could end the United States’ decade-long reliance on Russia for human spaceflight.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s chief executive and lead designer, told a crowd of reporters that he was “emotionally exhausted” after launch. His rocket company’s main goal since it was founded in 2002 was to someday send humans to space.
“It’s been 17 years to get to this point,” he said. It took “an incredible amount of hard work and sacrifice from a lot of people to get to this point.”

“It was super stressful, but it worked — so far. We have to dock with the station, and we have to come back,” he added of the Crew Dragon launch, but some of the “riskiest” hurdles have been cleared.

SpaceX’s capsule, carrying a dummy called Ripley, named for the “Alien” protagonist Ellen Ripley is expected to dock Sunday at the International Space Station, which flies about 254 miles above Earth at tremendous speeds: about 10 times faster than a bullet.

There, it will drop off about 400 pounds of supplies before it flies back home five days later.
SpaceX also dropped in a plush toy globe that flew around the cabin during flight to demonstrate when the capsule is in zero gravity.

This marks the first and only demo mission that Crew Dragon will fly without humans on board. If all goes well, the capsule design will undergo a few more reviews and safety checks, and it could be ready to fly two NASA astronauts to the space station in July, based on the space agency’s current timeline.
After the Space Shuttle program retired in 2011, NASA turned for the first time to the private sector to build the next generation of human spaceflight hardware

SpaceX and Boeing have contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively.

Both project have been beleaguered with delays, and NASA and its oversight regulators have raised safety concerns that will have to be resolved before humans set foot on either spacecraft.

Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send US astronauts to space aboard Soyuz rockets — a fact that isn’t very popular in the halls of Congress.

Those Soyuz contracts were set to run out in 2019 and NASA recently moved to secure a couple more seats for late 2019 and the spring of 2020 in case Boeing and SpaceX aren’t ready this year.

The space agency said in a statement last month that it has “confidence” the companies will be ready in 2019 and said the additional Soyuz contracts are meant to provide “flexibility and back-up” options.

The companies can still launch people this year — but things will have to go smoothly.

SpaceX aced a key NASA review ahead of Saturday’s launch. If all goes well during the demo mission, the company will conduct a test on Crew Dragon’s emergency abort systems in June. More safety checks are also in store.

SpaceX’s first crewed mission, which will fly NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, could happen by July, according to NASA’s most recent schedule.
Boeing’s Starliner is slated to fly its first demo mission without a crew no earlier than April.

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Five times faster than sound; Nuclear-powered hypersonic missile: China tests

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China secretly tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, the Financial Times reported late Saturday. The weapon, a hypersonic glide vehicle launched via rocket by the Chinese military, circled the Earth at low orbit before descending to its target. Though the missile apparently missed its target by about two dozen miles, the test demonstrated “an advanced space capability that caught U.S. intelligence by surprise,” according to the publication’s sources.

So-called hypersonic missiles fly at low-altitude trajectories, can reach more than five times the speed of sound, and can maneuver in flight — making them harder to track and destroy than ballistic missiles, which fly faster, but follow steeper, fixed parabolic trajectories.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby would not comment on the specifics of the FT report, but added: “We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond. That is one reason why we hold China as our number-one pacing challenge.”

Sources also told the Financial Times that the missile could theoretically fly over the South Pole, a concern for the U.S. military, which heavily monitors the North Pole route.

Arms-control analyst Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, responding on Twitter to the FT report, cautioned against overreaction to China’s test and noted that it should not come as a surprise: “This is how arms races work. We put a missile defense in Alaska, China builds an orbital bombardment system to come up over the South Pole. It will go on like this, at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, a forever race with no finish line.”

China isn’t alone in looking into hypersonic technology. There’s a burgeoning arms race with countries like the United States and Russia competing to develop these weapons; just last month, North Korea said it had test-fired a newly developed hypersonic missile.

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രാജ്യത്ത് ജി മെയില്‍ തകരാറിലായതായി; വ്യാപക പരാതികള്‍

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ന്യൂഡല്‍ഹി: രാജ്യത്ത് വിവിധയിടങ്ങളില്‍ ജിമെയില്‍ തകരാറിലായതായി റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ട്. പലര്‍ക്കും മെയില്‍ അയക്കാനോ സ്വീകരിക്കാനോ സാധിക്കുന്നില്ലെന്നാണ് പരാതികള്‍. ലോഗിന്‍ ചെയ്യാന്‍ സാധിക്കുന്നില്ലെന്നും സെര്‍വര്‍ തകരാറിലാണെന്നുമുള്ള പരാതികളും ഉയര്‍ന്നു.

നിരവധി പേരാണ് ഇത്തരത്തില്‍ പരാതിയുമായി രംഗത്തെത്തിയിരിക്കുന്നത്. എന്നാല്‍ ഇതുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട് കമ്ബനിയുടെ ഭാഗത്ത് നിന്ന് ഇതുവരെ യാതൊരു വിശദീകരണവും ഉണ്ടായിട്ടില്ല.

കഴിഞ്ഞ ആഴ്ച ഫേസ്‌ബുക്ക്, വാട്‌സാപ്പ്, ഇന്‍സ്റ്റഗ്രാം സേവനങ്ങള്‍ മണിക്കൂറുകളോളം തടസ്സപ്പെട്ടിരുന്നു. ലോകത്തിന്റെ വിവിധ ഭാഗങ്ങളിലായിരുന്നു ഇവ പ്രവര്‍ത്തനരഹിതമായത്. പിന്നീട് സേവനം പുനഃസ്ഥാപിക്കുകയായിരുന്നു. ഇതിന് പിന്നാലെയാണ് ഇപ്പോള്‍ ജി മെയിലും പണിമുടക്കിയിരിക്കുന്നത്.

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