F-16s shoot down balloon near Michigan

TFR 3/4885, active on 12 Feb 2023 (Fargo Orbit / OpenStreetMap)

On 12 Feb 2023, NORAD issued a TFR over Lake Michigan, roughly between Marinette, Wisconsin and Traverse City, Michigan. The order expired at 1730Z, or 11:30am local time.

Reports indicate that an F-16 shot down yet another balloon, this time over the Great Lakes. Yesterday’s incident in Montana was a false alarm.

Coronavirus information

FiveThirtyEight has published an excellent summary of what every person needs to know about COVID-19, which is updated frequently.

Vaccines are widely available in the US and Canada for walk-in service at medical providers and pharmacies. Many areas are still operating dedicated immunization clinics. Vaccines are safe and effective, including against the omicron variant of concern. Vaccines are now available for all age groups.

As of June 2022, travel restrictions have largely ended for travellers with up-to-date vaccinations. Be ready to show proof of vaccination when crossing national borders. Canada also requires use of the ArriveCAN app or website.

Continue reading “Coronavirus information”

Minnesota’s Menon selected for NASA Astronaut Corps

Anil Menon. Photo: Robert Markowitz, NASA

Dr. Anil Menon, M.D. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has already had a distinguished career in the Air Force, including service as ground Flight Surgeon for the SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Now, he can add Astronaut Candidate to the list.

Among the other announced candidates this year, Dr. Andre Douglas, Ph. D. is also no stranger to the Midwest: In 2012, while serving in the US Coast Guard, he graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a master’s degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

The role of astronaut has changed considerably since the heroic era of the 1960s, when the peak crop of the nation’s test pilot schools were raided for jack-of-all-trades. Though still versatile and trained for everything, in orbit, a particular astronaut will have Command, Pilot, or Mission Specialist duties. Some astronauts never fly into space, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. The NASA Astronaut Corps, based at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, is a vast talent pool frequently tapped to play important roles as program managers and consultants for NASA and other important engineering efforts. All receive basic pilot training and frequently get loggable hours in a variety of aircraft.

NASA’s selection of just 10 astronauts shows the constraints on the position. With Crew Dragon fully operational, and other options like Starship and Starliner close to coming online, NASA’s agenda is now limited more by budget than rocket hardware for possibly the first time since Skylab.

With the continued bustle of activity in the private space sector, Menon’s participation in SpaceX flights is a reminder that the day may quickly come when NASA can select an astronaut candidate who has already flown to space.

Michigan factory sends out first COVID vaccines

Pfizer’s plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan shipped operational doses of a COVID-19 vaccine across the United States on 13 December 2020. UPS and FedEx are carrying the shipments across the United States. Healthcare workers will be among the first to receive the doses.

This follows the FDA’s emergency use approval for the vaccine on the 12th, shortly following Health Canada’s approval on the 9th. The earliest shipments will provide enough doses to vaccinate 124,500 Canadians and 1.5 million Americans. In this phase, health care workers receiving the vaccine will be receiving it nearly immediately. Though procedures will vary, for the moment states and provinces will receive doses, then send out smaller shipments to health facilities. Those facilities have already pre-designated their most at-risk individuals to get the shot as soon as possible, and one additional follow-up dose a few weeks later.

Though the Pfizer vaccine must be shipped and warehoused at -70 C, the temperature of dry ice or specialized medical or scientific ultracold freezers, it has sufficient stability at standard temperatures to still allow for robust distribution options. These issues will not be a problem in the earliest stages of vaccine distribution. As this and other vaccines become more widely available, they will be offered to additional people based on local distribution plans. It will be at this stage that the Pfizer vaccine’s shelf life of a few days at standard -20 C and 4 C refrigeration temperatures is put to a real-world test.

Though work continues on other vaccines, the moment 18-wheelers and airplanes departed West Michigan represents a climactic moment in a banner year for biotechnology, as well as a triumph for science and industry in the Midwest.

Iowa State hosts Women in STEM event series with regional universities

Iowa State is leading a Women in STEM program called “Joining Forces”, alongside North Dakota State, Michigan Tech, and Western Michigan U, funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program.

In addition to mentorship and professional development, there is a 2020 scheduled event series. The first event, on 1 Oct 2020 at 6pm Central Time, is an online groupwatch and discussion on the documentary film Picture a Scientist (film trailer).

To participate, contact the ADVANCE Midwest Partnership at Iowa State University.

ExpressJet regional airline shuts down

The Summer 2020 Midwest route network for ExpressJet. ExpressJet announced its imminent shutdown on 30 Jul 2020. (ExpressJet)

United Express regional airline ExpressJet is shutting down. The metro Atlanta-based airline announced the move in an e-mail notice to staff on 30 July 2020. Most ExpressJet staff have already been laid off, and have now lost their jobs.

CommutAir, another United Express regional airline based in metro Cleveland, will now operate the aircraft and destinations previously used by ExpressJet.

The move affects the United Airlines network at all remaining ExpressJet destinations, including Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Peoria. In October 2019, before the pandemic reduced demand for airline tickets, ExpressJet was serving Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fargo, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Lincoln, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Omaha, Peoria, Rochester, and Winnipeg.

Starlink and Gaofen launched this week

Debris falls from a Momo suborbital rocket launched from Taiki, Hokkaido, Japan, 13 Jun 2020 2015 UT. The mission did not reach space. (Interstellar Technologies/Nicovideo)

Orbital and Suborbital News
13 Jun 2020 0512 UT – Mahia Electron US Military, rideshare
13 Jun 2020 0921 UT – Canaveral Falcon 9 Starlink
17 Jun 2020 0718 UT – Jiuquan CZ-2D Gaofen-9-03
13 Jun 2020 2015 UT – Taiki Momo-F5 suborbital mission [failed to reach space]

Regional News
13 Jun 2020 – Billings pilot earns licence at 17
13 Jun 2020 – Feature on Winnipeg’s eternal mosquito fight
14 Jun 2020 – 45 hectare wildfire near Prince Albert
14 Jun 2020 – C-FOAW emergency landing near Cut Knife SK
14 Jun 2020 – N836JC fatal crash at Mandan airport
14 Jun 2020 – N201UB gear-up landing in Muskegon
14 Jun 2020 – Seaplane flip in Thunder Bay
14 Jun 2020 – Watford City or Williston may get western North Dakota drone tower
14 Jun 2020 – WestJet protects planes from hail with hockey boards
15 Jun 2020 – Calgary mosquito boom
15 Jun 2020 – Kyle Wanner (North Dakota Aeronautics Commission) radio interview
15 Jun 2020 – N87395 landing gear damage at Butte airport
15 Jun 2020 – Williston weather radar now live on North Dakota State Water Commission website
16 Jun 2020 – Bozeman pilot fined for improper helicopter landing
16 Jun 2020 – Duluth Sky Harbor airport reopens
16 Jun 2020 – Edmonton-based Flair Airlines doesn’t offer social distance as standard
16 Jun 2020 – N27RZ nosegear damage at Ely MN
16 Jun 2020 – North Dakota gives $850,000 loan to drone video firm
16 Jun 2020 – Pathfinder Project at North Dakota SU nets NASA funds
16 Jun 2020 – Road traffic at Billings airport halted by misloaded truck
16 Jun 2020 – U North Dakota administrators share an engineering background
17 Jun 2020 – Alberto Passalacqua (Iowa SU) works on OpenQBMM flow model software
18 Jun 2020 – Mohit Gupta (U Wisconsin) and EPL build a better photo sensor

Further News
12 Jun 2020 – Bill Nye and Leland Melvin discuss social concerns and space travel
12 Jun 2020 – Solid rockets arrive at KSC
13 Jun 2020 – Spaceflight Industries finishes sale of rideshare division
14 Jun 2020 – Solar Orbiter first perihelion
16 Jun 2020 – Canadian Forces resume Cyclone helicopter flights after deadly crash
16 Jun 2020 – Chang’e-4 rover resumes work for 19th lunar day
16 Jun 2020 – New charcoal air filters installed on ISS to deal with benzene leak
17 Jun 2020 – 4300 apply for 2 UAE astronaut slots
17 Jun 2020 – Astra targets July orbital launch from Kodiak
17 Jun 2020 – NASA updates Crew Dragon contract with operational realities
17 Jun 2020 – Perseverance rover nearly launch ready
17 Jun 2020 – Robot mission plan would fly by Uranian moon Triton ~2038
17 Jun 2020 – SpaceX Starship program advances: pressure tests, floats launch platform idea
18 Jun 2020 – Florida firm Space Perspective floats space tour trial balloon
18 Jun 2020 – ISS benzene leak search will continue into next week
18 Jun 2020 – Leuders’ timeline is fuzzy for moon landing
18 Jun 2020 – Tom Cruise ISS film will need blockbuster bankroll

COVID-19 matters
12 Jun 2020 – CDC has new COVID recommendations for reopen
12 Jun 2020 – COVID can’t spread in breast milk
12 Jun 2020 – Peter Pelka (U Manitoba) works on adenovirus-based COVID vaccine
12 Jun 2020 – Temperature check required to fly in Canada
15 Jun 2020 – Manitoba extends COVID emergency
15 Jun 2020 – Minneapolis-based Premier Biotech resells China antibody tests
15 Jun 2020 – New China lockdown tries to avert second wave
15 Jun 2020 – NWT adds pass program at border checkpoint near Fort Smith
15 Jun 2020 – TRV027 drug trial attempts to solve COVID blood clots
16 Jun 2020 – Keep your mask on in public restrooms, especially after flushes
16 Jun 2020 – No COVID outbreak in SD due to protests
16 Jun 2020 – Quarantine violation in Fort Frances
16 Jun 2020 – Saskatchewan libraries reopen for remote pickup
16 Jun 2020 – U Iowa plans COVID cuts
17 Jun 2020 – Laurentian U makes hand sanitizer
18 Jun 2020 – Foxconn will still make 10 000 Medtronic ventilators in Wisconsin

Oceanography satellite launched this week

Long March 2C carries Haiyang-2D to orbit from Taiyuan, 10 Jun 2020 1831 UT. (Weibo)

Orbital news
10 Jun 2020 1831 UT – Taiyuan CZ-2C Haiyang-1D ocean EOS

Regional news
05 Jun 2020 – Alec Habig (U Minnesota Duluth) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
05 Jun 2020 – CBP doesn’t say who asked for drone over Minneapolis
05 Jun 2020 – Tom Pringle (North Dakota SU) part of team that built quantum dots with ordinary silicon
06 Jun 2020 – Alec Lovlein (U Utah) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
07 Jun 2020 – N44MX fatal crash at Sioux Falls Airport
07 Jun 2020 – N595KF fatal crash at Frye Lake WY
07 Jun 2020 – N827WS lands in cornfield near Marshall MI
08 Jun 2020 – Demoz Gebre-Egziabher (U Minnesota) updated by Minnesota Space Grant
08 Jun 2020 – N88ZT lands near campground in Bristol WI
09 Jun 2020 – 4.0 earthquake near High Prairie AB
09 Jun 2020 – Aerial photos of Twin Cities damage
09 Jun 2020 – Disease suspected in Lake Winnipeg fish kill
09 Jun 2020 – N2681D gear damage at Aitkin MN airport
09 Jun 2020 – Ravi Tutika (Iowa SU) embeds liquid metal into stretchy composites
09 Jun 2020 – Reminder about space weather risks to power grid
10 Jun 2020 – Feature on Lucean Arthur Headen, Chicago aviator and engineer
10 Jun 2020 – Iowa SU ag-bio lab builds plastic shields for classroom desks
10 Jun 2020 – UW MadScience blog joins 10 June 2020 day of action
11 Jun 2020 – Bell Canada deploys 5G network in Calgary and Edmonton

Further news
05 Jun 2020 – Interactive: ESA dashboard shows environmental changes from COVID
05 Jun 2020 – 2500 out at Bombardier, days after CRJ program sold off
05 Jun 2020 – AAC Clyde Space will bring solar power to all-UK launches
05 Jun 2020 – Canadian moon rover on the drawing board
05 Jun 2020 – China newspace firms test engines
05 Jun 2020 – JAXA will support tests of ALE J-SPARC electrodynamic deorbit system
05 Jun 2020 – Martian mole back underground
05 Jun 2020 – Northrop Grumman to make Lunar Gateway Crew Cabin
05 Jun 2020 – SpaceX progress swift on new test stand, SN5 prototype
07 Jun 2020 – Parker Solar Probe passes fifth perihelion
08 Jun 2020 – Black Lives Matter statement seen by earth-imaging satellite
08 Jun 2020 – Feature: How to stock the medicine cabinet for Mars
08 Jun 2020 – Kathy Sullivan first woman to explore Challenger Deep
08 Jun 2020 – Minnesota’s Northwest Angle cut off by COVID
08 Jun 2020 – NASA astronaut Victor Glover speaks mind on recent issues
08 Jun 2020 – ULA Vulcan rocket first flight sets lunar trajectory
09 Jun 2020 – Cosmonauts play to draw with chessmaster Sergei Karyakin
09 Jun 2020 – DM-2 crew expected back on Earth in August
09 Jun 2020 – SpaceX abandons plan for 3rd Starship plant in Los Angeles
09 Jun 2020 – Spain-built iSIM-170 EOS camera celebrated with royal call to ISS
10 Jun 2020 – Blood clot scans now standard for ISS crew
10 Jun 2020 – Canada weighs Artemis treaty
10 Jun 2020 – ESA featured image is Irish Cubesat
10 Jun 2020 – FCC will allow LEO constellations to bid for rural broadband funds
10 Jun 2020 – JWST delayed past March 2021
10 Jun 2020 – Mahia Electron weather scrub
11 Jun 2020 – Algoma U will keep campus closed for Fall semester
11 Jun 2020 – Astrobotic selected to deliver VIPER lunar rover
11 Jun 2020 – DHS seeks public comment on drone uses
11 Jun 2020 – Feature on NASA extern program for NFL players
11 Jun 2020 – ISS crew isolates airflow to find benzene leak
11 Jun 2020 – Perseverance rover will launch three days late

COVID-19 matters
05 Jun 2020 – Duluth hospitals mark one week COVID free
05 Jun 2020 – SaskTel, SaskPower to reopen offices soon
05 Jun 2020 – SK labs put COVID test kits on trial, to find most useful immunity measure
05 Jun 2020 – U Minnesota will resume onsite classes this fall
06 Jun 2020 – Ontario extends COVID emergency through 19 Jun
06 Jun 2020 – Outbreak in Austin MN; 200 food workers test positive
07 Jun 2020 – Brazil drops key COVID statistic
07 Jun 2020 – Marny Xiong, St. Paul school board, dead at 31 from COVID
08 Jun 2020 – New Zealand declares victory over virus
08 Jun 2020 – Recent flights to Saskatoon carried COVID
08 Jun 2020 – Saskatchewan allows indoor service at restaurants
08 Jun 2020 – Travel allowed to northern SK as COVID recedes
09 Jun 2020 – You can still catch COVID from someone without symptoms
10 Jun 2020 – Canada-U.S. border closure will be extended again
10 Jun 2020 – Effort to reopen Minnesota courts leads to new COVID cases
10 Jun 2020 – Mall of America opens about 1/3 of stores
10 Jun 2020 – Minnesota Governor, Lt. Governor, get new COVID tests
10 Jun 2020 – Minnesota reopens restaurants
10 Jun 2020 – Ontario Premier, Deputy, Education Minister exposed to COVID
10 Jun 2020 – Sudbury Airport exec talks about travel safety
10 Jun 2020 – Thunder Bay hospital looking at one-year backlog
10 Jun 2020 – United Airlines adds COVID questions to check-in process
11 Jun 2020 – Continued concerns in meat supply chain
11 Jun 2020 – Delta continues staff cuts, rolls out COVID tests at MSP
11 Jun 2020 – SAIT lab makes and donates face shields

Two Falcon and Two Chinese launches this week

Falcon 9 Starlink mission, 4 Jun 2020 (SpaceX)

Orbital news
29 May 2020 1930 UT – Cygnus NG-13 deorbit
29 May 2020 2013 UT – Xichang CZ-11 demo commsats
30 May 2020 1922 UT – Canaveral Falcon 9 Crew Dragon DM-2
31 May 2020 0853 UT – Jiuquan CZ-2D Gaofen-9
31 May 2020 1416 UT – DM-2 Arrives at ISS
01 Jun 2020 – DM-2 astronauts settle in for as long as possible
04 Jun 2020 0125 UT – Canaveral Falcon 9 Starlink

Regional news
29 May 2020 – Andrea Dutton (U Wisconsin) featured for work on earth science priorities
29 May 2020 – Ben Geadelmann (U Minnesota) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
29 May 2020 – Border Patrol drone surveilled Minneapolis
30 May 2020 – Malmstrom AFB servicemember dies in motorcycle crash
31 May 2020 – James Flaten (U Minnesota) updated by Minnesota Space Grant
01 Jun 2020 – Detroit’s Library Street Collective flies George Floyd’s final words
01 Jun 2020 – Kelly MacGregor, James ‘Mac’ Doherty (Macalester C) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
01 Jun 2020 – Plane landing gear damage at Worthington airport
01 Jun 2020 – Two die in dorm shooting at Grand Forks air base
01 Jun 2020 – Wind flips small aircraft at Colorado spaceport
01 Jun 2020 – Winnipeg airport increases facility charge to make up lost revenue
02 Jun 2020 – Duck Mountain forest fire largest since 1886
02 Jun 2020 – Kalpana Katti (North Dakota SU) to test anti-cancer properties of crops
02 Jun 2020 – Thomas Fehr (U Minnesota) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
02 Jun 2020 – WisDOT releases aviation guides
03 Jun 2020 – Minnesota internet gaps draw concern
03 Jun 2020 – Saskatoon airport deals with nearby fire
04 Jun 2020 – British Airways 787 scoots off pavement at Edmonton airport
04 Jun 2020 – Iowa Space Grant adds Sara Nelson (Iowa SU) as outreach director
04 Jun 2020 – Steven Hauschildt (Bemidji SU) featured by Minnesota Space Grant
04 Jun 2020 – U Manitoba, Misericordia Health Centre train health workers
04 Jun 2020 – U Wisconsin team builds camera for pSCT gamma ray telescope
04 Jun 2020 – FAA approves airline city cuts

Further news
29 May 2020 – Bankrupt Intelsat needs new permissions to sell rideshare business
29 May 2020 – Miscoded CRJ autopilot inverted directions
29 May 2020 – SN4 detonation
29 May 2020 – SpaceX gets Boca Chica flight test permits
01 Jun 2020 – Ars preview of next new spaceships under development
01 Jun 2020 – Bird strike suggested as cause of Snowbird crash
03 Jun 2020 – China airlines hit with US flight ban
04 Jun 2020 – Credit card chargebacks an option as airlines avoid refunds
04 Jun 2020 – NASA concerns over campaign video, now removed

COVID-19 matters
29 May 2020 – Alberta gives away masks with fast food
29 May 2020 – Amount of exposure to COVID a factor in illness
29 May 2020 – Bombardier builds ventilators in Thunder Bay
29 May 2020 – Minnesota firm SkyWater makes chips essential to temperature sensors
29 May 2020 – NASA picks 8 firms to build ventilator design
29 May 2020 – Rush to make chip-scale devices for COVID and antibody tests
29 May 2020 – Sask mask-makers get $34k donation
29 May 2020 – South Dakota biotech firm makes COVID antibody SAB-185
30 May 2020 – COVID outbreak ends at Lloydminster hospital
30 May 2020 – Ecolab of St. Paul supports disinfection efforts
02 Jun 2020 – AbCellera tests LY-CoV555 antibody against COVID
02 Jun 2020 – Ibuprofen study will determine if is helps or hurts COVID patients
02 Jun 2020 – Manitoba to buy COVID blood tests
02 Jun 2020 – Manitoba will pay poorer front line workers a one-time bonus
02 Jun 2020 – Respirators recommended for health workers as upgrade from masks
02 Jun 2020 – U Wisconsin funds nine projects after COVID contest
03 Jun 2020 – CDC failures scrutinized
03 Jun 2020 – Epigenetic factors studied; Type A blood places COVID patients at higher risk
03 Jun 2020 – Lake Manitoba First Nation will postpone gathering due to COVID concerns
03 Jun 2020 – Regina’s Queen City Ex cancelled
03 Jun 2020 – Thunder Bay health authority comments on Ontario regional reopen strategy
04 Jun 2020 – CM4620-IE “Auxora” drug passes Phase I clinical tests for COVID
04 Jun 2020 – North Dakota SU, Microsoft build online COVID aid directory

Late news
27 May 2020 – Airplane fire at Grand Forks airport
27 May 2020 – Montana high school sends hardware skyward on SpaceX mission