Progress cargo launched to ISS this week

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

Blue Origin, Dynetics, SpaceX plans for Artemis HLS selected

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 adapts to COVID as airlines change Midwest flights

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.

Starlink ends surprising week

The International Space Station is down to three crew with the arrival of Soyuz MS-15 in Kazakhstan, Iran orbited a military satellite, and SpaceX launched another 60 Starlink commsats.

Starlink satellites float away from the Falcon 9 upper stage, 23 Apr 2020. (SpaceX)

Orbital News
17 Apr 2020 0516 – Soyuz MS-15 lands with Meir, Morgan, Skripochka
21 Apr 2020 – JAXA releases Bepi magnetometer data from Earth flyby
23 Apr 2020 1930 – Canveral Falcon 9 Starlink Commsats
23 Apr 2020 0359 – Shahrud Qased Noor Iran MilSat

Regional news
17 Apr 2020 – U Minnesota student Nibir Sarma wins on Jeopardy!
22 Apr 2020 – WestJet lays off 3000 employees

Further News
17 Apr 2020 0022 – 5.4 earthquake hits Kodiak, spaceport
17 Apr 2020 – Crew Dragon planned to fly Behnken, Hurley to ISS on 27 May 2020
17 Apr 2020 – PS752 families still want investigation
19 Apr 2020 – FAA AST space office reorganized
21 Apr 2020 – All initial Starlink satellites will move to 550km orbits
23 Apr 2020 – SpaceX will beta test Starlink at high latitudes
23 Apr 2020 – SN4 Starship prototype installed at Boca Chica test stand

COVID response
17 Apr 2020 – Winnipeg Mint makes hand sanitizer
17 Apr 2020 – Calgary grocers insist households send one person once a week
17 Apr 2020 – SafeCare Canada of Winnipeg sells COVID tests, pending approval
17 Apr 2020 – Cirrus Aircraft of Grand Forks and Duluth building powered respirators
17 Apr 2020 ~ Manitoba works on solutions to connect students to the Internet
18 Apr 2020 – Bioriginal in Saskatoon makes hand sanitizer
22 Apr 2020 – Pantyhose enhances homemade masks
23 Apr 2020 – Calgary Stampede cancelled due to COVID
23 Apr 2020 – Sudbury Theatre Company makes masks

Soyuz reaches ISS, fortnight of medical effort

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

Illinois firm gets NIAC grant to study Alpha Centauri space probe

Proxima Centauri

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.

Starship user guide drops in suborbital week

Payload bay dimensions, from Starship User Guide 1.0 (SpaceX)

COVID-19 Science
27 Mar 2020 New York tests survivor antibody treatment
30 Mar 2020 IEEE releases COVID related science journal papers at no charge
30 Mar 2020 Early work on new COVID jabs in Alberta, MB does cytology
30 Mar 2020 U Minnesota / Mayo Clinic antibody test can verify COVID recovery
1 Apr 2020 More on Edmonton’s Entos Pharmaceuticals COVID vaccine work

Regional News
27 Mar 2020 Space junk story featured by WiSGC
28 Mar 2020 Billings makers fight COVID
29 Mar 2020 Manitoba scientists add their equipment to COVID response
30 Mar 2020 Alberta regulators cautious on licencing student nurses as health aides
30 Mar 2020 Nunavut enforces strict preflight quarantines in Winnipeg
31 Mar 2020 34 year old dead of COVID in Northern Alberta
31 Mar 2020 Ralph Goodale appointed to lead Canada effort on PS752
31 Mar 2020 During COVID 150000 MN homes still can’t get broadband
31 Mar 2020 Haochi Zheng at Earth System Science and Policy featured by U North Dakota
1 Apr 2020 Montana, Alberta feel Idaho earthquake

Further News
26 Mar 2020 MDA gets 190 M$ CAD for ISS support work
27 Mar 2020 SpaceX Starship SN3 stacked up for tests (video)
27 Mar 2020 NASA wants Orion exploration motor
27 Mar 2020 Don’t fear China on Moon
27 Mar 2020 OneWeb is bankrupt after SoftBank pulls the plug
30 Mar 2020 Lunar Gateway will happen after Artemis
30 Mar 2020 Testing NASA’s Mars Helicopter
30 Mar 2020 China’s new craft can dock at ISS, politics may prevent that
30 Mar 2020 ISRO shuts down to make COVID equipment
30 Mar 2020 Orion readied at KSC
30 Mar 2020 Virgin Orbit builds ventilators
30 Mar 2020 Solar array source of Venezuelan commsat failure
30 Mar 2020 Strategists concerned about ASAT proliferation
30 Mar 2020 Sochi Noguchi, Shannon Walker to fly on Crew Dragon USCV-1
30 Mar 2020 Starship user guide: supports 100 t of cargo in 680 m3
30 Mar 2020 SunRISE constellation selected for award, will study Sun
31 Mar 2020 NASA provides stay-at-home space content
31 Mar 2020 Orbit Fab company will study satellite refuelling
31 Mar 2020 Air Force moves further 1840 people in 5 states to Space Force
1 Apr 2020 JWST mirror deployment test
1 Apr 2020 Space data fights locusts in Africa
1 Apr 2020 NASA COVID fund will approve grants 10 days after proposal
1 Apr 2020 Firefly details Beresheet-based lunar lander
2 Apr 2020 Perseverance rover steams ahead
2 Apr 2020 UKSA calls for Mars Sample teams by end of this month
2 Apr 2020 12000 apply to NASA Astronaut Corps
2 Apr 2020 US space agency brings back NΛSΛ worm logo for crewed flights