A Soyuz-2.1a rocket sends Progress MS-14 to the International Space Station from Baikonur, 25 Apr 2020. (Roscosmos)
Soyuz launched the uncrewed Progress cargo module to the ISS early Saturday, and NASA announced three winning bidders for commercial crew lunar landers Thursday.
COVID-19 science 27 Apr 2020 – CDC officially adds 6 more symptoms of COVID 30 Apr 2020 – Experts welcome news on Remdesivir with caution 30 Apr 2020 – High hopes for antigen tests
Orbital News 25 Apr 2020 0151 UT – Baikonur Soyuz Progress MS-14 ISS Cargo 29 Apr 2020 – ISS Kibo deploys Quetzal-1, Guatemalan cubesat
Regional News 25 Apr 2020 – Kit plane C-GTET survives emergency landing 28 Apr 2020 – JetBlue alters MSP service due to COVID 28 Apr 2020 – Layoffs at U Sask could start 4 May 28 Apr 2020 – VP visits Mayo without mask
Further News 24 Apr 2020 – ViaSat gets FCC approval for 20 MEO netsats 26 Apr 2020 – Al Amal, Emirati Mars orbiter, at Tanegashima for July launch 26 Apr 2020 – SN4 survives cryo test, first Starship to pass 28 Apr 2020 – SpaceX sunshield shadows shiny Starlink sats 29 Apr 2020 – An-225, world’s largest plane, will fly PPE to Québec 29 Apr 2020 – CZ-5B rolled to pad at Wenchang for ~5 May launch 29 Apr 2020 – Electron rocket goes vertical at Virginia spaceport, for tests 30 Apr 2020 – Blue Moon, Starship, and Alpaca selected for lunar lander awards 30 Apr 2020 – FDA approves NASA ventilator
COVID-19 response 24 Apr 2020 – Two SK meat plants close 25 Apr 2020 – Winnipeg seamstress donates facemasks 27 Apr 2020 – MB researcher studies difference in COVID outcomes in men and women 27 Apr 2020 – Sask experts caution against herd immunity strategies 28 Apr 2020 – Alberta pilots fly masks north 28 Apr 2020 – MN, SD meat plants ordered reopened 28 Apr 2020 – Winnipeg fair, Red River Ex, cancelled due to COVID 29 Apr 2020 – Alberta workers call for meat plant closures 29 Apr 2020 – Outbreak prevents Lloydminster from joining SK reopen plan 29 Apr 2020 – U Regina students sell facemasks 30 Apr 2020 – Duluth firms make PPE 30 Apr 2020 – North Dakota SU trains contract tracers 30 Apr 2020 – U North Dakota makes Viral Transport Media reagent
The three commercial teams selected to advance in NASA’s Human Landing System program, 30 April 2020 (NASA/Dynetics/SpaceX/Blue Origin)
The Artemis program, with its goal to land a woman on the surface of Luna, is operating on a crash schedule. With delays from COVID piling on top of normal engineering problems, Artemis is now very likely to miss its target of landing by the end of 2024. But a mini-space race may allow competition to make up some of the lost time.
NASA’s program to return to the moon requires three primary components: the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket, the Orion crew and service modules, and the Human Landing System (HLS), equivalent to the Apollo Lunar Module. SLS and Orion were ongoing programs, left over from prior NASA strategies for the future of human spaceflight. Though delayed and often-changed, the major requirements and suppliers had been settled on years ago. Not so with the Human Landing System, whose call for bids was hardly open before or after October 2019. After a few months of review, the
awards announcement was made on 30 April 2020.
The award does not answer the larger question of which company will get to the moon first in the planned “Artemis III” mission. NASA HLS program leads may decide this key detail by August 2020, and almost certainly by February 2021, as the awardees clear up their plans and development timelines. NASA will work in tandem with each supplier to ensure that each system will be able to be safely tested and delivered, setting broader goals and outcomes, with less emphasis on micromanagement.
Rather than going forward with just one or two of the four publicized submissions, NASA made awards to every team except Boeing (Boeing ‘s proposal did not even reach the last phase of consideration). However, each winner was cited as having potential for delay due to the need for development work on their propulsion systems, and SpaceX was also singled out for missing deadlines for Crew Dragon and other government launches.
It is perhaps bigger news than expected; NASA’s approach for lunar exploration exceeds the minimum requirements to perform a stunt landing on an accelerated schedule. Hiring three teams indicates a solid commitment to a longer-term effort and broad-based infrastructure. This could be the kickstart needed to get humans to permanently retain the ability to travel to other worlds.
JetBlue at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, 10 July 2018 ( The Fargo Orbit)
As the airline industry suffers under the weight of a global pandemic, flight cancellations are giving way to route thinning. Boston-based JetBlue, once celebrated for its nonstop Boston-Minneapolis service,
now serves MSP with the same plane that goes to Chicago. Today, JetBlue also became the first US carrier to require that passengers wear a facemask. Canadian airlines have required passengers to wear masks since 20 April 2020.
Spirit Airlines wants to cut its service to Minneapolis entirely, and Delta Airlines is seeking to cut service to smaller airports like Lansing and Kalamazoo. These cuts may not happen, because cutting a route entirely requires special approval. Similar requests by United and Frontier were recently denied.
A Soyuz 2.1 launch from Baikonur carries Soyuz MS-16 to the International Space Station, 09 Apr 2020 0805 UT. (Roscosmos/NASA TV)
COVID-19 Science Lessons learned: Help lungs, roll COVID patients onto sides, stomach 06 Apr 2020 – Mayo Clinic will lead plasma treatment project 09 Apr 2020 – COVID cases at Winnipeg NML slow down viral research 09 Apr 2020 – U Nebraska Medical Center tests antiviral Remdesivir 11 Apr 2020 – Remdesivir also tested in Minnesota 13 Apr 2020 – Alberta hydroxychloroquine study calls for volunteers 13 Apr 2020 – Minnesota test of drug CM4620-IE, may fix cytokine storm 14 Apr 2020 – US serosurvey collects blood samples from diverse volunteers 14 Apr 2020 – Baricitinib tests come with risk of bacterial infection 15 Apr 2020 – Preprint servers move information faster, for good and ill
Orbital News 07 Apr 2020 1306 UT – Dragon 1 CRS-20 departs ISS 09 Apr 2020 0805 UT – Baikonur Soyuz-2.1a Soyuz MS-16, ISS Crew 09 Apr 2020 1146 UT – Xichang CZ-3B Nusantara Dua, Indonesian commsat [failure]
Regional News 09 Apr 2020 – Flights down 97% at Winnipeg airport 10 Apr 2020 – U Nebraska joins forces with OSU NASA UAV study 13 Apr 2020 – Edmonton Airport receives medical supply shipments 16 Apr 2020 – Victims named in Iowa helicopter crash 16 Apr 2020 – Despite recent rehires, 1700 pilots cut at WestJet
Further News 03 Apr 2020 – Starship SN3 destroyed by cryo test 03 Apr 2020 – Crew Dragon launchpad zipline tested 03 Apr 2020 – Tiny thrusters, big contracts 06 Apr 2020 – Boeing to refly Starliner Orbital Flight Test 07 Apr 2020 – How to fit a huge dish inside a nanosat 08 Apr 2020 – Rocket Lab snags falling first stage in prelaunch test 08 Apr 2020 – Masten XL-1 wins 2022 lunar lander slot, 2020 NIAC award 09 Apr 2020 – US House grills ISS National Lab managers 10 Apr 2020 – Boeing, SpaceX suffer cyberattacks 12 Apr 2020 – ESA awards 20 k€ for Solar-powered UV hand sanitizer 12 Apr 2020 – Virgin Orbit nearly ready to fly LauncherOne with final cryo test 13 Apr 2020 – IM-1 mission will land where Apollo 18 didn’t 13 Apr 2020 – Orion 1 in process at Canaveral 13 Apr 2020 – OneWeb will keep a nightlight on until spectrum sale 13 Apr 2020 – Inside SpaceX’s win of lunar launch contract 15 Apr 2020 – Kepler-1649c announced, temperate Earth-sized exoplanet 15 Apr 2020 – Russia flies ASAT missile, no debris, plenty of alarm 16 Apr 2020 – Perseverance progress at T-3 months 16 Apr 2020 – OSIRIS-REx now one test away from asteroid sample 16 Apr 2020 – Boeing to resume production in WA
Regional COVID-19 Stories 03 Apr 2020 – Winnipeg firm Wilder Goods makes masks 04 Apr 2020 – DIRTT of Calgary makes hospital furniture 09 Apr 2020 – Saskatchewan homes make masks 09 Apr 2020 – Edmonton pivots to make COVID supplies 09 Apr 2020 – Price Industries of Winnipeg makes hospital furniture 09 Apr 2020 – Canada Goose makes medical gowns 10 Apr 2020 – American hospitals slash payroll amid crisis 13 Apr 2020 – Major hotspot in Sioux Falls at pork factory 15 Apr 2020 – Alberta beef plant shuts down due to COVID 15 Apr 2020 – Alberta cleaning and reusing N95 masks 15 Apr 2020 – Cummins building 3M designed filter ventilators 15 Apr 2020 – SNOLAB builds open source ventilators 15 Apr 2020 – U Minnesota ventilator gets FDA approval 15 Apr 2020 – Vomela of St. Paul makes face shields, sneeze guards 15 Apr 2020 – Manitoba students affected by digital divide 15 Apr 2020 – tbaytel continues network visits with extra safety measures 16 Apr 2020 – U Minnesota asks for 20 M$ for 30000 COVID tests per day 16 Apr 2020 – SD pork factory owner shuts down WI plant due to COVID 16 Apr 2020 – Midwest governors will coordinate post-COVID reopening
Proxima Centauri (ESA/NASA/Hubble)
On 7 April 2020, NASA announced the 2020 awardees for its NIAC grants, which support preliminary work in space mission development. One winner is Hbar Technologies of West Chicago, Illinois. The firm’s experts, formerly of Fermilab, will refine a concept, entirely possible with near-future developments in antiproton manufacturing, to use perhaps a dozen grams of antimatter to propel robotic probes to our nearest stellar neighbours, Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, and Proxima Centauri. The specific project of the $125,000 Phase I NIAC grant will focus on how to slow down a part of the probe fleet to allow Proxima Centauri b to be studied in detail. Results are expected within nine months.