Red Planet: New NASA spaceship will really dig into Planet Mars

Red Planet: New NASA spaceship will really dig into Planet Mars
An artist's rendering of the InSight lander, set to launch May 5 from Southern California.
NASA is going to Mars again, this time with the first spaceship dedicated to digging deep below the surface to find out what's shaking on the red planet.
InSight is scheduled to launch May 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on an Atlas V 401 rocket. The launch window opens at 4:05 a.m. PT (7:05 a.m. ET).
It will be the first NASA mission launched to another planet from the West Coast, and it'll be visible to millions in Southern California from Santa Maria to San Diego. NASA's previous interplanetary missions were launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
    If it all goes as planned, after a six-month journey, the 790-pound (358-kilogram) probe will land on November 26, joining five other NASA spacecraft operating on and above Mars.
    The mission's principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt, told CNN via email that he was "already pretty crazy about Mars" when he was 8 or so, and his excitement about sending a spacecraft there "is really starting to get intense!"
    Banerdt said he thinks InSight will fill the last gaping hole in NASA's exploration of Mars.
    "We have mapped the surface of the entire planet in terms of visible features, topography, gravity and magnetic fields," he said.
    "We have studied the atmosphere, both globally and at the surface. We have roved around the surface at four different places, studying the geology and piecing together the history of the surface. But until now, the vast regions of the planet deeper than a few miles, or so, (have) been almost completely unknown to us."
    He added, "InSight will change that with a single stroke."
    InSight will help scientists draw the first detailed map of the interior of Mars, and Banerdt said it's hard to overstate how much science that map will create.
    So, how do you study a planet that's 75 million miles (121 million kilometers) away?
    InSight doesn't have wheels, so once it lands it stays put. It can't roll around gathering up dirt to study. But it does have a 7.8-foot-long (2.4-meter) robotic arm. The arm will place a seismometer on the ground to detect "marsquakes" (think earthquakes, but on Mars, of course).
    Another instrument will dig 16 feet (5 meters) into the ground, deeper than any instrument ever sent to Mars.
    The arm has a camera that will snap color 3-D images, and there's a second camera on the spaceship's body that will provide wide-angle views.
    "The first image will be taken less than an hour after touchdown and should be available on Earth within the first day," Banerdt said. "We should have images of the landing area within a week."
    InSight will use its radio system to measure the wobble of Mars' north pole to help scientists learn more about the shape of the planet.
    And finally, Banerdt said, InSight "will have one of the best weather stations ever placed on Mars, measuring pressure, wind and temperature around the clock for at least a Martian year."
    InSight's primary mission is for two years, but if all goes well, Banerdt said he'll ask for an extension.
    This new NASA spaceship won't be going alone to Mars. Two suitcase-size spacecraft will be launched on the same rocket. They will trail behind InSight and will orbit Mars as part of a NASA experiment to see whether they can be used to relay data back to Earth.
    The small spacecraft, called Mars Cube One, or MarCO-A and B, "have opened up a whole new frontier for space," chief engineer Andy Klesh told CNN. He said this mission will be a "critical test of this new type of spacecraft and how NASA might use it to explore the solar system in the future."

    Snap, the company behind Snapchat, Doubles Down on Spectacles Wearable Cam

    On Thursday, company behind Snapchat, released the second generation of its Spectacles, a wearable video camera that captures short clips that can be synced to a smartphone
    smartphone. The new version also takes still photos and is designed to be water-resistant.
    The new Spectacles sport the same basic Ray-Ban style design as the first iteration, but they have been slimmed down and are less bulky -- a good thing both for wearing the glasses and transporting them. In addition, users have more color options. They include the ever-fashionable onyx, as well as ruby and sapphire.
    The result of the makeover is that the new version looks much more like an actual pair of sunglasses than a wearable video camera.
    This second-generation product offers more than a new look for the exterior, however. The connectivity between the device and the user's handset has been improved, making it easier to share videos and still photos. The software has been improved as well, and the Spectacles can create an ad hoc WiFi network for sharing content to mobile phones.
    The Spectacles are available for order in the United States, Canada, the UK and France for US$150 -- a $20 increase over the original model. Availability will be expanded to include much of Europe next week. As with the original model, the new Spectacles are compatible with devices running Google's Android OS and Apple's iOS.

    Fun the in the Sun

    Spectacles aren't designed for capturing long-form videos -- and in that way they are akin to a poor's man answer to Google's Glass. They take short videos to chronicle "moments" -- similar to the experience Vine or Glide offers. With the second-generation Spectacles, users can record 10-second videos -- same as the first model -- but there are options to record 20-second or 30-seond videos as well.
    The new Spectacles offer an upgrade in video resolution -- an increase of 25 percent to 1,216 x 1,216. It isn't high definition, but it still represents a notable improvement in quality. Still photo resolution is an impressive 1,642 x 1,642.
    With the new Spectacles, Snap also has doubled down in terms of audio. In addition to the single microphone that is meant to record the wearer, the new version of the glasses includes a second mic to record anyone close to the wearer.

    Making a Spectacle

    The original Spectacles weren't exactly a huge hit when Snap released them a year and a half ago -- far from it, in fact. That could be blamed in part on the company's distribution methods. The glasses initially were sold exclusively via the company's pop-up vending machine, dubbed "Snapbot." The glasses were made available for online purchase a few months later, but they failed to catch on with consumers.
    Reviews of the first Spectacles were mostly positive, but consumers seemed unimpressed. Sales of the original glasses reportedly numbered around 150,000 -- far less than the number produced.
    Even worse for the company was the fact that only about half of those who purchased the first-generation wearable cameras continued to use them after the first month.
    As a result of the poor Spectacles sales, Snap laid off about 7 percent of its total workforce, and it had to write down nearly $40 million at the end of 2017 related to the unsold glasses and retailer cancellations.

    Second Shot

    Given the poor reception of the original Spectacles, it may seem odd the company would try again. However, the glasses could represent Snap's best chance to become more than a service that provides expiring private messages. Entering the consumer electronics hardware market could give it an edge in the competition among social media rivals.
    "The new Spectacles are high risk, but also high potential reward for the company," said Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.
    "Snap has been struggling for mind share against Instagram -- and losing," he told TechNewsWorld.
    "If these glasses are usable, they could be a distinctive brand element -- and like Apple, Snap has to get it right in order to create the category," added Kay.
    "There were MP3 players before the iPod, but Apple pulled it all together," he noted. "There still seem to be limitations with this revision, and I never understand why companies don't limit steps to the bare minimum. Really, the default should be one-touch upload." Culled.

    A New 'Vantablack' Bird-of-Paradise Has Been Discovered, And It's Absolutely Mesmerising

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    Ornithologists have classified the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise as its own species after recognizing differences in two similar-looking kinds of the birds.
    These birds-of-paradise are famous for evolving super-black feathers that absorb nearly all light, and their haunting courtship dances (see video below). But now scientists have discovered there are actually two species.
    For years, people mistook the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise for the wider spread and closely related superb bird-of-paradise.
    "After you see what the Vogelkop form looks like and acts like in the wild, there's little room for doubt that it is a separate species," says Ed Scholes, evolutionary biologist with the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology's Birds-of-Paradise Project.
    "The courtship dance is different. The vocalizations are different. The females look different. Even the shape of the displaying male is different."
    On the left below is the widespread superb bird-of-paradise, with its famous black smiley face mating display. On the right is the newly identified Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise, which looks more like a frown face.
    Greater Vogelkop Superb comparison 770(Tim Laman & Ed Scholes/Macaulay Library)
    Both birds are endemic to New Guinea, but the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise is found only in the island's far-western Bird's Head, or Vogelkop, region.
    Researchers renamed the more widespread superb bird-of-paradise - known for its bouncy "smiley face" dance routine - the "greater superb bird-of-paradise."
    Now, for the first time, newly released audiovisuals support the claim that the Vogelkop superb bird-of-paradise is its own distinct species.
    Scholes and Timothy Laman, ornithologist and wildlife photojournalist at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology documented the audiovisual data, which appear in the journal PeerJ.

    This video footage reveals that when expanded for courtship display, the Vogelkop male's raised cape creates a completely different appearance - crescent-shaped with pointed tips rather than the oval shape of the widespread form of the species.
    The way the Vogelkop male dances for the female is also is distinctive, his steps being smooth instead of bouncy.
    The Cornell Lab's Birds-of-Paradise Project is a research and education initiative to document, interpret and protect birds-of-paradise, their native environments and other biodiversity of New Guinea, one of the largest remaining tropical wildernesses on the planet.
    Credit: ScienceAlert

    Angola loses first satellite, plans successor Angosat-2

    Angola loses first satellite, plans successor Angosat-2
    SatelliteSatelliteSatelliteThe satellite was sent into orbit in December, but contact was lost shortly afterwards [Roskosmos/YouTube]
    Angola's first satellite is going to be scrapped and replaced with another in 2020, Angolan and Russian officials announced today, Reuters news agency reports.
    Launched on 26 December from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Angosat-1 was intended to improve TV, radio and internet communications in Angola.
    The development and launch of the satellite cost more than 286m euros ($349m, £253m) and it was expected to have a working life of about 15 years.
    But it has been plagued with problems.
    Just a few days after it was launched the Russian Energia rocket and space corporation lost contact with the satellite for two days.
    It is now considered a write-off and Russia has promised to build another satellite to be launched in 2020, Reuters adds.

    World's first penis and scrotum transplant was performed on US Soldier

    World's first penis and scrotum transplant was performed on US Soldier
    Dr Andrew Lee and other members of the surgical team
    Surgeons at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, performed the operation on a soldier who had been wounded by a bomb in Afghanistan.
    They used a penis, scrotum and partial abdominal wall transplanted from a deceased donor.
    They say the soldier should be able to regain sexual function, which is impossible with penis reconstructions.
    The team of 11 surgeons performed the transplant over 14 hours on 26 March.
    It is the first surgery on a combat veteran injured on duty and the first to transplant a complete section of tissue including the scrotum and surrounding abdominal area.
    Doctors said the donor testicles were not transplanted, due to ethical considerations.
    "While extremity amputations are visible and resultant disability obvious," said Dr WP Andrew Lee, head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University, during a telebriefing on Monday, "some war injuries are hidden and their impact not widely appreciated by others."
    Dr Lee called genitalia wounds an "unspoken injury of war".
    "In a 2014 symposium co-sponsored by Johns Hopkins titled 'Intimacy After Injury', we heard from the spouses, families, and caregivers of these wounded warriors about the devastating impact of genitourinary injuries on their identity, self-esteem and intimate relationships," he said.
    The soldier, who wishes to remain anonymous, said in a statement released by the university: "When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal like finally I'm okay now."
    His injury was the result of stepping on a hidden bomb in Afghanistan.
    In medical terms, the surgery is called a vascularised composite allotransplantation - which is all to say that the process involves transplanting skin, bone, muscles, tendons and blood vessels.
    The Johns Hopkins Genital Transplant Program, which funded the surgery, has initially focused on post-traumatic cases, particularly injured soldiers, as their wounds generally make conventional options impossible.
    Experts from the surgical team expect the soldier will be fully recovered in six to 12 months.
    Dr Rick Redett, clinical director of the genitourinary transplant programme, said that the soldier is recovering well and is expected to be discharged from hospital this week.
    "It is our hope that such a life enhancing transplant will allow him to regain urinary and sexual function and lead a more normal life," Dr Redett said. "It is also our goal to offer the procedure in the future to other suitable patients."
    The transplant team also said that the university has approved 60 genital transplant surgeries as a part of the programme.
    Credit; BBC

    Tech:Tesla Is Temporarily Shutting Down Model 3 Production. Again.

     Tech:Tesla Is Temporarily Shutting Down Model 3 Production. Again.
    During the pause, workers can choose to use vacation days or stay home without pay. This is the second such temporary shutdown in three months for a vehicle that’s already significantly behind schedule.
    Just a few days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he’s feeling optimistic about his ability to speed up production on the company’s vehicles, the assembly line for the Model 3 in the company’s Fremont, California, plant has been temporarily shut down — again.
    The announcement of the four- to five-day production pause for the Model 3 came without warning, according to Tesla employees who spoke with BuzzFeed News. During the pause, workers are expected to use vacation days or stay home without pay; a small number of workers may be offered paid work elsewhere in the factory.
    A Tesla spokesperson said that the assembly line is on pause in order to “improve automation.”
    Tesla previously shut down the Model 3 line in late February, according to Bloomberg. At the time, Tesla said the February pause was ultimately meant to increase output, and that such pauses are “common in production ramps like this.” Tesla provided BuzzFeed News with an identical statement regarding this month’s pause.
    Not long after the February pause, Bloomberg reported that Tesla factory workers received an email from Senior Vice President of Engineering Doug Field, asking some of them to work extra hours on the Model 3 line in order to increase output and make the Tesla’s detractors (“haters”) “regret ever betting against us.”
    Meanwhile, Tesla workers who work on the Model S and X lines have been informed by the company that those lines will be operating throughout all weekends in June, a current Tesla employee told BuzzFeed News. Other Tesla workers made similar comments on a pro-union Facebook page for Tesla employees.
    Workers are paid for the extra hours, and Tesla says they volunteer for overtime shifts, but some workers say the weekend shifts are mandatory. Tesla did not respond to questions about the June schedule or mandatory overtime.

    Environment: Scientists hope new enzyme known as "PETase", will ‘eat’ plastic pollution

    Environment: Scientists hope new enzyme known as "PETase", will ‘eat’ plastic pollution
    A plastic bottle floating in sea water
    Researchers from Britain’s College of Portsmouth and the US Division of Vitality’s Nationwide Renewable Vitality Laboratory (NREL) made the invention whereas analyzing the construction of a pure enzyme present in a waste recycling heart just a few years in the past in Japan.
    They are saying the enzyme, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, is ready to “eat” polyethylene terephthalate, PET, which was patented as a plastic within the 1940s and is utilized in tens of millions of tonnes of plastic bottles.
    Their purpose was to review its construction, however they by chance engineered an enzyme which was even higher at breaking down PET plastics.
    Plastic bottles washed up on a beach
    PET is commonly used to make plastic bottles
    “We hoped to find out its construction to assist in protein engineering, however we ended up going a step additional and by chance engineered an enzyme with improved efficiency at breaking down these plastics,” mentioned NREL’s lead researcher Gregg Beckham.
    The invention may end in a recycling answer for tens of millions of tonnes of plastic bottles fabricated from PET, which at the moment persists for a whole bunch of years within the setting, the College of Portsmouth mentioned on its web site.
    “Serendipity usually performs a big function in elementary scientific analysis and our discovery right here isn’t any exception,” mentioned Professor McGeehan, director of the Institute of Organic and Biomedical Sciences within the College of Organic Sciences at Portsmouth.
    The enzyme also can degrade polyethylene furandicarboxylate, or PEF, a bio-based substitute for PET plastics that’s being hailed as a alternative for glass beer bottles.
    PEF plastics, though bio-based, should not biodegradable, and would nonetheless find yourself as waste in landfills and within the seas, the NREL mentioned in a report on its web site.
    “Though the development is modest, this unanticipated discovery suggests that there’s room to additional enhance these enzymes, shifting us nearer to a recycling answer for the ever-growing mountain of discarded plastics,” mentioned McGeehan.
    The researchers, whose discovering was revealed on Monday within the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences journal, are actually engaged on bettering the enzyme additional to permit it for use industrially to interrupt down plastics in a fraction of the time, the College of Portsmouth added.
    The NREL underscored the urgency of the work, stating that eight million metric tons of plastic waste, together with PET bottles, enter the oceans annually, creating enormous man-made islands of rubbish.
    “Consultants estimate that by 2050, there will be as a lot waste plastic within the ocean by mass as there are fish,” it mentioned.
    In line with a three-year research revealed in Scientific Studies final month, an enormous, swirling pile of trash within the Pacific Ocean, often known as the Nice Pacific Rubbish Patch, is rising sooner than anticipated and is now thrice the dimensions of France, greater than double the dimensions of Texas.
    “Few may have predicted that within the area of 50 years, single-use plastics comparable to drink bottles can be discovered washed up on seashores throughout the globe,” mentioned McGeehan.
    “We are able to all play a big half in coping with the plastic downside,” he added. “However the scientific neighborhood who finally created these ‘wonder-materials’ should now use all of the expertise at their disposal to develop actual options.”

    Closing the loop

    Polyesters, industrially produced from petroleum, are widely used in plastic bottles and clothing.
    Current recycling processes mean that polyester materials follow a downward quality spiral, losing some of their properties each time they go through the cycle. Bottles become fleeces, then carpets, after which they often end up in landfill.
    PETase reverses the manufacturing process, reducing polyesters to their building blocks, ready to be used again.
    "They could be used to make more plastic and that would avoid using any more oil...Then basically we'd close the loop. We'd actually have proper recycling," explained Prof McGeehan.
    The enzyme is a number of years away from being deployed on a widespread scale. It will need to degrade PET faster than its current time of a few days before becoming economically viable as part of the recycling landscape.
    Prof McGeehan is hopeful that this marks the beginning of a shift in the management of plastics.
    "There is an urgent need to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfill and the environment, and I think if we can adopt these technologies we actually have a potential solution in the future to doing that" he added. Culled

    Guinness World Records: World's Oldest Living Man From Japan Was Born Before Radios Came Into Existence

    Guinness World Records: World's Oldest Living Man From Japan Was Born Before Radios Came Into Existence
    Hot baths and a daily paper are the secret to a long life it seems
    Masazo Nonaka from Japan was recognised Tuesday as the world's oldest man at the ripe old age of 112, as his family revealed his secret: sweets and hot baths. The new record holder was born on July 25, 1905 – the same year Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 26th president of the US. The first radio broadcast happened in 1906.
    The supercentenarian lives with his family, which manages a  inn.
    "He needs a wheelchair to move but he is in good condition," said Yuko Nonaka, his granddaughter.
    "He loves eating any kinds of sweets—Japanese or western style," she told AFP.
    "He reads newspapers everyday and often soaks in the hot springs."
    He has seven brothers and one sister who live nearby in the town of Ashoro on Hokkaido.
    He married Hatsuno in 1931 and the couple had five children, according to Guinness World Records.
    Nonaka has officially taken the title after Francisco Nunez Olivera from Spain died in February aged 113, the organisation said.
    Guinness World Records is currently investigating possible contenders for the title of oldest living person as no one has been recognised since Violet Brown from Jamaica died in July 2017, aged 117.
    Japan, known for the longevity of its people, has been home to several oldest title holders, including Jiroemon Kimura, who died in June 2013 at the age of 116.
    There are around 68,000 people aged 100 or older in the country, the government said last year.
    Source: MedicalExpress

    Science: Stranded humpback whale dies in Argentina despite rescue efforts

    Science: Stranded humpback whale dies in Argentina despite rescue efforts
    A humpback whale stranded on Argentina’s coast died Monday despite a round-the-clock rescue effort over the weekend that drew in dozens of volunteers.
    The whale swam aground Saturday in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Buenos Aires.
    Rescuers and conservationists had been digging around the six-ton whale with heavy machinery and using a crane to lift it and improve its hydration.
    In a desperate attempt to keep the whale alive, Mar de Plata residents joined the effort, dousing the 10-meter-long (33-foot-long) animal with water and covering it with moist cloths.
    Coastguards designed a special harness that rescuers had planned to use to try to pull the whale back into the ocean using a tugboat.
    “We want to thank all those people who collaborated without wanting anything in return, the coastguards, everyone who helped,” said Gisela Giardino, a biologist at the University of Mar del Plata.

    29 Kilograms of Plastics found in the stomach of a Sperm Whale found Dead in Spain

    29 Kilograms of Plastics found in the stomach of a Sperm Whale found Dead in Spain
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    Scientists have discovered 29 kilos of plastic in the stomach of a sperm whale, which washed up on the southern coast of Spain in February.
    During an autopsy of the 10-metre-long male whale, experts from the El Valle Wildlife Recovery Center uncovered plastic bags, a jerry can, and several pieces of rope and net.
    After full examination, the experts agreed that the sperm whale had died because it could not expel the plastic it had swallowed.
    They theorised that the blockage in the whale's digestive system caused an infection of the abdomen, called peritonitis, that ultimately resulted in the mammal's death.
    As shocking as the discovery is, it's really not. When over 8 million tons of plastic enter the world's oceans every year, it's no coincidence that 29 kilos of it show up in the stomach of a sperm whale.
    Since the results of the autopsy, the whale's death has spurred the government in Murcia, Spain to launch an awareness campaign on the dangers of single use plastics.
    "The presence of plastics in seas and oceans is one of the greatest threats to the conservation of wildlife throughout the world, since many animals are trapped in the trash or ingest large amounts of plastics that end up causing their death," said Consuelo Rosauro, director-general of the natural environment in the Murcian government. read further.....

    NASA's Parker Solar probe first --ever mission to touch the Sun

    NASA's Parker Solar Probe has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for its launch to the Sun, scheduled for July 31, 2018.
    In the middle of the night on April 2, the spacecraft was driven from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to nearby Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. From there, it was flown by the United States Air Force's 436th Airlift Wing to Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, where it arrived at 10:40 a.m. EDT.
    It was then transported a short distance to Astrotech Space Operations, also in Titusville, where it will continue testing, and eventually undergo final assembly and mating to the third stage of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.
    Parker Solar Probe is humanity's first mission to the Sun. After launch, it will orbit directly through the solar atmosphere - the corona - closer to the surface than any human-made object has ever gone.
    Parker Solar Probe shipping container being unloaded from C-17
    The custom shipping container holding NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman
    While facing brutal heat and radiation, the mission will reveal fundamental science behind what drives the solar wind, the constant outpouring of material from the Sun that shapes planetary atmospheres and affects space weather near Earth.
    "Parker Solar Probe and the team received a smooth ride from the Air Force C-17 crew from the 436th," said Andy Driesman, Parker Solar Probe project manager from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
    "This is the second most important flight Parker Solar Probe will make, and we're excited to be safely in Florida and continuing pre-launch work on the spacecraft."
    At Astrotech, Parker Solar Probe was taken to a clean room and removed from its protective shipping container on Wednesday, April 4. The spacecraft then began a series of tests to verify that it had safely made the journey to Florida.
    For the next several months, the spacecraft will undergo comprehensive testing; just prior to being fueled, one of the most critical elements of the spacecraft, the thermal protection system (TPS), or heat shield, will be installed.
    The TPS is the breakthrough technology that will allow Parker Solar Probe to survive the temperatures in the Sun's corona, just 3.8 million miles from the surface of our star.
    "There are many milestones to come for Parker Solar Probe and the amazing team of men and women who have worked so diligently to make this mission a reality," said Driesman. "The installation of the TPS will be our final major step before encapsulation and integration onto the launch vehicle."
    Parker Solar Probe will be launched from Launch Complex-37 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The two-hour launch window opens at approximately 4 a.m. EDT on July 31, 2018, and is repeated each day (at slightly earlier times) through Aug. 19.
    Throughout its seven-year mission, Parker Solar Probe will explore the Sun's outer atmosphere and make critical observations to answer decades-old questions about the physics of stars.

    Its data will also be useful in improving forecasts of major eruptions on the Sun and the subsequent space weather events that impact technology on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space.
    The mission is named for University of Chicago Professor Emeritus Eugene N. Parker, whose profound insights into solar physics and processes have guided the discipline. It is the first NASA mission named for a living individual.
    Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA's Living With a Star Program to explore aspects of the connected Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. Living With a Star is managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Johns Hopkins APL designed, built and manages the mission for NASA.
    Instrument teams are led by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.; Princeton University in New Jersey; and the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is the provider of the Delta IV launch service for Parker Solar Probe. NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, manages the agency's efforts to commercially provide rockets for specific missions. LSP also directs the overall launch effort including overseeing development and integration of the rocket with the spacecraft.

    Source: Spacedaily

    Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic successfully completes first rocket-powered flight test, four years after fatal crash

    VSS Unity
    After two years of extensive ground and atmospheric testing, and nearly four years after the fatal crash of VSS Enterprise, Virgin Galactic’s has safely and successfully completed its first supersonic, rocket-powered flight with VSS Unity.
    The experimental spacecraft took off at 8:02am on 5 April 2018 with Mark “Forger” Stucky and Dave Mackay in the cockpit, attached to the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, piloted by Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile.
    The vehicles climbed to 46,500ft over the Sierra Nevada Mountains where Unity was released and its rocket motor fired, accelerating to Mach 1.87 in 30 seconds, continuing upwards to 84,271ft before returning to Earth.

    Virgin Galactic’s founder, Richard Branson tweeted: “virgingalactic back on track. Successful powered flight, Mach 1.6. Data review to come, then on to the next flight. Space feels tantalisingly close now.”
    The flight was also significant for Virgin Galactic’s sister manufacturing organisation, The Spaceship Company. Unity is the first vehicle to be built from scratch for Virgin Galactic by The Spaceship Company’s team of aerospace engineers and technicians.
    Virgin Galactic said in a statement: “The flight has generated valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance which our engineers will be reviewing. It also marks a key moment for the test flight program, entering now the exciting phase of powered flight and the expansion to full duration rocket burns.
    “While we celebrate that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead.” culled.