Skip the chaos with a trip into space news

Published 8:11 am Saturday, January 9, 2021

With all the chaos in Washington, D.C. occupying the news, I hope you take time to read this and take your mind off the problems.
The Boeing 737 Max is back in the air after about two years on the ground.
The first flight was round trip from the Miami to LaGuardia airport in New York. I wonder if those 87 passengers flying out of Miami could think about anything except the two earlier crashes. The trip back to Miami had 151 passengers. Evidently, the control problems have been corrected as the flights were uneventful.
China has successfully collected a sample of the lunar dust and rocks and returned it to the earth. This last week, they announced they would give out samples of it for study in other nations.
Other space news concerns the new SpaceX trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The trip is scheduled for fall of 2021.
I think you probably remember the demise of one of the world’s largest radio telescopes at Arecibo, which suffered a catastrophic accident. The receiver module hanging on cables above the structure crashed and destroyed the telescope. Puerto Rico is not giving up. Gov. Wanda Vazquez has allotted $8 million to start the cleanup prior to rebuilding it.
Virgin Orbit company will make a second flight using a modified Boeing 747 to carry the rocket to launch out over the Pacific Ocean. To me, this sounds like a good idea to launch at a few hundred miles per hour, rather than starting off at 0 miles per hour.
The last time this was tried, it ended up a failure. For some reason which has not been released, the first stage booster shut down shortly after it was released and the payload did not achieve orbit, of course.
They have hopes of being able to cut the cost of a launch to $12 million.
The engineers claim to a have learned a lot from the failure and are very “upbeat.” Maybe they are inspired by a Churchill quote, “Success is maintaining your enthusiasm after suffering many failures.”
More interesting space news to learn and keep your mind off the chaos in Washington, D.C.: I have heard that SpaceX Elon Musk is the richest person in the USA. He seems to be in the news a lot.
His Starship SN9 with some of the most powerful rocket engines ever developed, may be able to make a test flight within the next week. They had a short static test of the engines this week at Boca Chica, Texas. It lasted only about one second. Elon has great hopes of sending a starship to Mars.
Elon Musk is taking another chance at retrieving the Super Heavy Booster from one of the most powerful rockets ever built. He authorized using the launch tower arm to catch it. This will help by eliminating the retractable legs, which will cut the lift-off weight, and also set it back on the launch platform ready for another launch.

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

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