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NASA delays moon rocket launch due to potential hurricane

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2022)

NASA is skipping next week’s launch attempt of its new moon rocket Artemis 1 because of a tropical storm that’s expected to become a major hurricane.

It’s the third delay in the past month for the lunar-orbiting test flight featuring mannequins but no astronauts, a follow-up to NASA’s Apollo moon-landing program of a half-century ago. Hydrogen fuel leaks and other technical issues caused the previous scrubs, AP reported.

Currently churning in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Ian is expected to become a hurricane by Monday and slam into Florida’s Gulf coast by Thursday. The entire state, however, is in the cone showing the probable path of the storm’s center — including NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Given the forecast uncertainties, NASA decided Saturday to forgo Tuesday’s planned launch attempt and instead prepare the 98-meter rocket for a possible return to its hangar.

Managers will decide Sunday whether to haul it off the launch pad.

If the rocket remains at the pad, NASA could try for an October 2 launch attempt, the last opportunity before a two-week blackout period. But a rollback late Sunday or early Monday likely would mean a lengthy delay for the test flight, possibly pushing it into November.

The Space Launch System rocket is the most powerful ever built by NASA. Assuming its first test flight goes well, astronauts would climb aboard for the next mission in 2024, leading to a two-person moon landing in 2025.

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Astronomers spot new tiny moons around Neptune and Uranus

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2024)

Astronomers have found three previously unknown moons in our solar system — two additional moons circling Neptune and one around Uranus.

The distant tiny moons were spotted using powerful land-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, and announced Friday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, AP reported. 

The latest tally puts Neptune at 16 known moons and Uranus at 28.

One of Neptune’s new moons has the longest known orbital journey yet. It takes around 27 years for the small outer moon to complete one lap around Neptune, the vast icy planet farthest from the sun, said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington who helped make the discovery.

The new moon orbiting Uranus, with an estimated diameter of just 5 miles (8 kilometers), is likely the smallest of the planet’s moons.

“We suspect that there may be many more smaller moons” yet to be discovered, he said.

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Moon landing: US clinches first touchdown in 50 years

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

A spacecraft built and flown by Texas-based company Intuitive Machines landed near the south pole of the moon on Thursday, the first U.S. touchdown on the lunar surface in more than half a century and the first ever achieved by the private sector, Reuters reported.

The uncrewed six-legged robot lander, dubbed Odysseus, touched down at about 6:23 p.m. EST (2323 GMT), the company and NASA commentators said in a joint webcast of the landing from Intuitive Machines’ (LUNR.O), opens new tab mission operations center in Houston.

The landing capped a nail-biting final approach and descent in which a problem surfaced with the spacecraft’s autonomous navigation system that required engineers on the ground to employ an untested work-around at the 11th hour.

It also took some time after an anticipated radio blackout to re-establish communications with the spacecraft and determine its fate some 239,000 miles (384,000 km) from Earth.

When contact was finally renewed, the signal was faint, confirming that the lander had touched down but leaving mission control immediately uncertain as to the precise condition and position of the vehicle, according to the webcast.

“Our equipment is on the surface of the moon, and we are transmitting, so congratulations IM team,” Intuitive Machines mission director Tim Crain was heard telling the operations center. “We’ll see what more we can get from that.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson immediately hailed the feat as a “triumph,” saying, “Odysseus has taken the moon.”

As planned, the spacecraft was believed to have come to rest at a crater named Malapert A near the moon’s south pole, according to the webcast. The spacecraft was not designed to provide live video of the landing, which came one day after the spacecraft reached lunar orbit and a week after its launch from Florida, read the report.

Thursday’s landing represented the first controlled descent to the lunar surface by a U.S. spacecraft since Apollo 17 in 1972, when NASA’s last crewed moon mission landed there with astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.

To date, spacecraft from just four other countries have ever landed on the moon – the former Soviet Union, China, India and, mostly recently, just last month, Japan. The United States is the only one ever to have sent humans to the lunar surface.

Odysseus is carrying a suite of scientific instruments and technology demonstrations for NASA and several commercial customers designed to operate for seven days on solar energy before the sun sets over the polar landing site.

The NASA payload will focus on collecting data on space weather interactions with the moon’s surface, radio astronomy and other aspects of the lunar environment for future landers and NASA’s planned return of astronauts later in the decade.

The IM-1 mission was sent on its way to the moon last Thursday atop a Falcon 9 rocket launched by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The arrival of Odysseus also marks the first “soft landing” on the moon ever by a commercially manufactured and operated vehicle and the first under NASA’s Artemis lunar program, as the U.S. races to return astronauts to Earth’s natural satellite before China lands its own crewed spacecraft there, Reuters reported.

NASA aims to land its first crewed Artemis in late 2026 as part of long-term, sustained lunar exploration and a stepping stone toward eventual human flights to Mars. The initiative focuses on the moon’s south pole in part because a presumed bounty of frozen water exists there that can be used for life support and production of rocket fuel.

A host of small landers like Odysseus are expected to pave the way under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, designed to deliver instruments and hardware to the moon at lower costs than the U.S. space agency’s traditional method of building and launching those vehicles itself.

Leaning more heavily on smaller, less experienced private ventures comes with its own risks.

Just last month the lunar lander of another firm, Astrobotic Technology, suffered a propulsion system leak on its way to the moon shortly after being placed in orbit on Jan. 8 by a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket making its debut flight.

The malfunction of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander marked the third failure of a private company to achieve a lunar touchdown, following ill-fated efforts by companies from Israel and Japan.

Although Odysseus is the latest star of NASA’s CLPS program, the IM-1 flight is considered an Intuitive Machines mission. The company was co-founded in 2013 by Stephen Altemus, former deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and now the company’s president and CEO.

The proliferation of commercial space ventures has itself been driven by leaps in technology in recent decades.

The Apollo program and robot lunar Surveyor missions that preceded it flew at the very dawn of the computer age, before the advent of modern microchips, electronic sensors and software, or the development of super light-weight metal alloys and myriad other advances that have spurred a revolution in spaceflight.

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Ministry establishes secure gateway for all Internet users in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 20, 2024)

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has established an internal gateway or Internet Exchange Point Center (NIXA) for the purpose of security of Internet traffic and confidentiality of citizens’ information, whereby all Internet user information in Afghanistan is protected.

The ministry’s spokesman said in a post on X that in the past, this was done by the Internet supplier countries, but there were many disadvantages.

“Internet data and information were not safe because the traffic was carried out through them so that these countries could have easy access to information and information of Internet users,” said the ministry’s spokesman Anayatullah Alokozay.

“Internet traffic used to be very expensive in foreign countries, but now the said traffic is done cheaply and safely inside the country, and finally due to the length of the route from foreign countries, the quality of services is low and sometimes information and data are lost,” added Alokozay.

Alokozay said that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology values the security of information and information of Internet users within the country and considers it its responsibility and duty to create a safe, secure and valuable environment.

The Internet Exchange Point Center of Afghanistan (NIXA) is the physical infrastructure through which the Internet traffic of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) is exchanged.

The Internet Exchange Point Center (NIXA) was established to build an internal gateway for Afghanistan’s internal Internet traffic, privacy of information, improving the quality of the Internet and reducing bandwidth consumption.

By the establishment of the center, customer’s information will be safe and secure, internal traffic speed will increase, and the leak of Information abroad will be prevented.

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