SCIENCE NEWS | NASA resumes human spaceflight from U.S. soil with historic SpaceX launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA – SpaceX, the private rocket company of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched two Americans toward orbit from Florida on Saturday in a mission that marks the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years.

A SpaceXFalcom 9 rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT), launching Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a 19-hour ride aboard the company’s newly designed Crew Dragon capsule bound for the International Space Station.

Moments before liftoff, Hurley said, ‘SpaceX we’re go for launch. Let’s light this candle’, paraphrasing the famous phrase uttered on the launch pad in 1961 by Alan Shephard, the first America launched into space.

Crew Dragon separated from its second stage booster at 3:35 and minutes later entered orbit.

The craft launched from the same pad used by NASA’s final space shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley, in 2011. Since then, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

‘It’s incredible, the power, the technology’, said U.S. President Donald Trump, who was at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida for the launch, ‘That was a beautiful sight to see’.

The mission’s first launch try on Wednesday was called off with less than 17 minutes remaining on the countdown clock. Weather again threatened Saturday’s launch, but cleared in time to begin the mission.

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has said resuming launches of American astronauts of American-made rockets from U.S. soil is the space agency’s top priority.

‘I’m breathing a sigh of relief, but I will also tell you I’m not gonna celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely’. Bridenstine said.

For Musk, the launch represents another milestone for the reusable rockets his company pioneered to make spaceflight less costly and more frequent. And it marks the first time commercially developed space vehicles – owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA – have carried Americans into orbit.

The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a brand new vehicles was 40 years ago at the start of the space shuttle program.

Musk, the South African – born high-tech entrepreneur who made his fortune in Silicon Valley, is also chief executive of electric carmaker and battery manufacturer Tesla Inc. He founded Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies, in 2002.

Hurley, 53m and Behnken, 49, NASA employees under contract to fly with SpaceX, are expected to remain at the space station for several weeks, assisting a short-handed crew aboard the orbital laboratory.

Boieng Co, producing its own launch system in competition with SpaceX, is expected to fly its CST-100 Starliner wehicle with astronauts aboard for the first time next year. NASA has awarded nearly $8 billion to SpaceX and Boeing combined for development of their rival rockets.

Trump called the launch the beginning, saying the eventually there would be flights to Mars.

He was joined at the viewing by Vice President Mike Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Florida congressman Matt Gaetz and Senator Rick Scott.

Earlier on Saturday, the crew bid goodbye to their families. Prior to getting into a specially-designed Tesla for the ride to the launch site, Behnken told his young son. ‘Be good for mom. Make her life easy’.

During drive, Behnken and Hurley passed fromer astronaut Garrett Reisman holding a side saying, ‘Take me with you’.


BREAKING NEWS | Saudi Crown Prince Announces New 5-Year Strategy For Kingdom’s Economy

JEDDAH – – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday launched a new five – year strategy for the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund as Saudi Arabia drives toward achieving its Vision 2030 goal to diversify the economy away from dependence on oil. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) will pump at least $40 billion a … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Saudi Crown Prince Announces New 5-Year Strategy For Kingdom’s Economy

CORONAVIRUS ALERT | French Health Body Recommends Delaying Second Covid Shot To Six Weeks After First

PARIS – – France’s top health advisory body on Saturday recommended doubling the time between people being given the first and second Covid-19 vaccination to six weeks from three  in order to increase the number getting inoculated . The gap between the first and second injection in France is currently three weeks for people in … Continue reading CORONAVIRUS ALERT | French Health Body Recommends Delaying Second Covid Shot To Six Weeks After First

BREAKING NEWS | Police Round Up More Than 350 At Russia Protests Backing Jailed Kremlin Foe Navalny

Police detained more than 350 people across Russia on Saturday and broke up rallies around the country as protesters defied bitter cold and a ban by authorities to demand the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Navalny had called on his supporter to protest after being arrested last weekend as he returned to Moscow … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Police Round Up More Than 350 At Russia Protests Backing Jailed Kremlin Foe Navalny

BUSINESS | UAE Confirms It Inked $23 Billion To Buy F-35 Jets, Drones From U.S.

WASHINGTON – – The United Arab Emirates confirmed that it signed agreements with the United States on former President Donald Trump’s last full day in office to purchase up to 50 F-35 jets, 18 armed drones and other defense equipment in a deal worth $23 billion. The UAE embassy in Washington said in a statement … Continue reading BUSINESS | UAE Confirms It Inked $23 Billion To Buy F-35 Jets, Drones From U.S.

Breaking News | Saudi TV Says Missile Or Drone Intercepted Over Riyadh

RIYADH – – Saudi Arabia said Saturday it intercepted an apparent missile or drone attack over its capital, Riyadh, amid the kingdom’s yearlong war against neighbouring Yemen’s Houthi rebels.Social media users posted video of what appeared to be an explosion in the air over Riyadh. Saudi State TV quoted authorities in the kingdom acknowledging the … Continue reading Breaking News | Saudi TV Says Missile Or Drone Intercepted Over Riyadh

TRAVEL | Denmark Suspend Dubai Flights Amid Doubts Over Virus Tests

 DUBAI – Denmark has temporarily suspended all flights from the United Arab Emirates for five days after suspicion arose that the coronavirus tests that can be obtained before leaving Dubai are not reliable, authorities announced Friday. The development, which comes amid a surge of infections in the UAE, poses a direct challenge to the mass … Continue reading TRAVEL | Denmark Suspend Dubai Flights Amid Doubts Over Virus Tests

BUSINESS | Google Seals Content Payment Deal With French News Publishers

PARIS – – Google and a French publishers’ lobby said on Thursday they had agreed to a copyright framework for the U.S. tech giant to pay news publishers for content online, in a first for Europe.The move paves the way for individual licensing agreements for French publications, some of which have seen revenues drop with … Continue reading BUSINESS | Google Seals Content Payment Deal With French News Publishers

Business News | BioNTech Investors, Amid Worry Over Shortage, Vows Vaccines To Be Delivered For Second Shot

MILAN – European countries should use all available vaccine doses provided by biotech firm BioNTech and its partner Pfizer because there will be enough for the requisite second booster shot due to a planned production ramp – up, BioNTech’s largest investor said. Some countries were believed to be withholding some vaccines for fear of shortage … Continue reading Business News | BioNTech Investors, Amid Worry Over Shortage, Vows Vaccines To Be Delivered For Second Shot

BREAKING NEWS | Arab Coalition Thwarts Two Houthi Attacks

The Saudi – led coalition fighting against Yemen’s Houthi movement said it thwarted two attacks by the Houthis on Friday morning, including destroying an explosive – laden boat in the southern Red Sea, Saudi State TV said on Twitter. The coalition also intercepted and destroyed an explosive – laden drone launched by the Houthis toward … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Arab Coalition Thwarts Two Houthi Attacks

ARTS & CULTURE | Lebanon Return Two Stolen 18th – Century Religious Icons To Greece

ATHENS – – Lebanon handed back two 18th – century religious icons of Jesus and Mary to Greece on Tuesday after they were seized during an auction, a judicial sources said. The paintings were stole from an exhibition in Athens in 2016, and Greece put out an international notice calling for their return. Icons are … Continue reading ARTS & CULTURE | Lebanon Return Two Stolen 18th – Century Religious Icons To Greece

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