Coronavirus information

This is a list of official websites with information on COVID-19 coronavirus in the region.

If you need general information not specific to your area, Ars Technica has published an excellent series.

Continue reading “Coronavirus information”

CNSA flight tests two next-gen spacecraft this week

A Long March 5B rocket carries the Next Generation Crew Vehicle from Wenchang, 5 May 2020. (Weibo)

Orbital news
20200505 1000 UT – Wenchang CZ-5B NextGen Crew Test Flight
20200507 – CNSA ‘umbrella’ cargo reentry test failed; crew capsule healthy

Regional news
04 May 2020 – Laser strikes Saskatoon plane
04 May 2020 – WY firm Frontier Astronautics gets NASA funds for hybrid rocket pump
07 May 2020 – U Colorado-Boulder gets funds for GLEE LunaSat

Further news
01 May 2020 – Telesat LEO schedule slips, satellite supplier not even settled
01 May 2020 – Astronauts ready to fly Crew Dragon DM-2
03 May 2020 – Crew Dragon succeeds at final parachute test
05 May 2020 – Tom Cruise, SpaceX plan a film on the ISS
05 May 2020 – Virgin Galactic deal will study suborbital passenger flights
05 May 2020 – NASA, Space Force to take asteroid defence measures
06 May 2020 – Failed LAN firewall on ISS replaced
06 May 2020 – Starship SN4 fires engine at Boca China test stand

COVID-19 matters
01 May 2020 – Outbreak at Calgary Amazon warehouse
01 May 2020 – Manitoba Museum lays off 40, closes
01 May 2020 – NIH slashes COVID research funding
02 May 2020 – U Minnesota epidemiologist says pandemic COVID may last 2 years
04 May 2020 – Canadian provinces relax COVID restrictions
04 May 2020 – Meat plants partially reopen
04 May 2020 – ND fab plants enhance COVID measures after LM outbreak
04 May 2020 – U Manitoba researcher talks hospital website privacy risks
05 May 2020 – Alberta meat inspectors demand another plant close
05 May 2020 – U Manitoba med student makes soft, reusable silicone facemasks
06 May 2020 – Massive compost effort in Worthington as food waste piles up
06 May 2020 – North Dakota SU students process COVID tests
06 May 2020 – Outbreak at Saskatoon milk plant
06 May 2020 – Outbreak at Calgary grocery store
07 May 2020 – COVID closes La Loche SK grocer
07 May 2020 – Buried CDC reopen guide sees light of day

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

GPS glitch grounds airliners

Outage regions for the Global Positioning System, 8 June 2019. (Credit: FAA)

Passenger airline flights were affected Saturday and Sunday 8 and 9 June 2019, due to an expected minor signal outage, plus a glitch with a particular type of GPS receiver. The affected planes were mostly Bombardier CRJ-200 and CRJ-700s, but also included CRJ-900s, as well as Boeing 737 and 767s.

Reports on indicate particular concerns with GPS receivers supplied by Rockwell Collins. In case the airplane’s barometer were to fail, the onboard GPS receiver must be able to track altitude accurately enough to maintain normal operations in the Class A airspace above FL180. This requires a GPS vertical accuracy within 500 feet (152 meters), and that the GPS constellation be in fairly good alignment – which, every now and then, just doesn’t happen.

That’s what occurred this weekend over a region over the Great Lakes and extending out over much of North Dakota and Manitoba, such that certain areas can expect, in theory, up to 40 minutes of signal loss on Sunday. The FAA estimated still further regions in the US could be affected by the outage. As affected planes wait for a technical fix, they are flying below 18000 feet, or simply being replaced by unaffected aircraft.

Airliners with the strictest requirements for their their GPS accuracy had to rely on alternative navigation modes when operating in the red region. (Credit: FAA)

In addition to highlighting the performance of one supplier’s GPS solution in an edge case, the incident also serves to highlight an increasing dependence on GPS for airline operations. Aviators have expressed concern about the trend of airports turning off their ILS, VOR, and NDB navigation systems. Many of these decisions assume that GPS will always be available, which may well be more than 98% correct. It’s the last 2% that may lead to unexpected problems.