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Going into space despite the coronavirus scare

This week, I will recount some of the space news that you may have missed since almost all the news is about the coronavirus pandemic.

Space X had some more problems in their South Texas facility with their Starship prototype rocket.

In a test, one of the tanks was filled with liquid nitrogen and it ruptured. The test was an attempt to simulate the space conditions, which can cause the rocket temperature to go very low.

From the information I have read, it appears that it imploded after a vacuum was pulled on the tank and they are not designed to withstand internal vacuum.

Space X had some success after their Dragon cargo spacecraft returned to earth.

On April 7, the Canadian robot arm was used to disconnect the Dragon from International Space Station (ISS) when it was over Vietnam. This is the last time the arm will be used in this way, because next time the docking and undocking will be automatic.

The Dragon splashed down in the Pacific off the coast of Long Beach, California six hours after leaving the ISS.

The virus pandemic has not deterred the NASA optimists from predicting the first Space X-crewed Dragon capsule launching to the ISS will be in late May.

The astronauts are Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken who are training for the Demo-2 mission. They will be traveling to Houston in April for further training and altering space suits to fit them.

They intend to stay in the ISS for up to three months.

I wonder if the lottery people have thought about a betting scheme on whether the mission will go off in May and if it will be successful. It seems like they are thinking about setting up betting on everything from sports to the presidential election. If I were a betting guy, I would bet against the mission going off as planned in May.

Maybe you have heard of the Artemis plan for the lunar base camp? If not, it is a plan to set up a base to learn about living in an uninhabitable, outside environment in preparation for Mars mission. They plan the first lunar landing in 2024.

NASA is also designing a lunar terrain vehicle similar to that used in the later Apollo missions. Later, they plan to have a pressurized vehicle with the capability of missions up to 45 days. The size of the base camp will be able to sustain four people for extended missions.

The Russian Soyuz Spacecraft had another successful launch on April 9.

There were two Russians aboard along with one American astronaut. They were in space after nine minutes and will be doing four orbits to catchup with the ISS.

They were expected to dock at about 10:15 a.m. EDT on April 9. It used a new modified rocket for liftoff that worked very well.

The launching was different than usual, since the relatives of the astronauts were not there to watch the launch due to the virus scare.

Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at eelnod22@gmail.com