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NASA says ‘Orion’ deep space vehicle on track for 2014 test

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The first test mission of a new deep space capsule that could one day take humans to Mars is on track for September 2014, the US space agency said Tuesday.

Orion aims to replace US capacity to reach space — which ended with the retirement of the space shuttle program closed in 2011 after 30 years — and ferry astronauts farther in the solar system than ever before.

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Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said the project has made “tremendous progress.”

NASA has described Orion as “a flexible system that can to launch crew and cargo missions, extend human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, and enable new missions of exploration throughout our solar system.”

Orion will not carry humans on board until 2021 at the earliest.

Its four-hour test flight next year will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

After that, the unmanned craft is to make two orbits around the Earth, traveling at a distance of 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, and then plunge back into Earth’s atmosphere at high speed.

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The test tour will take it 15 times farther than the International Space Station’s orbit around the globe.

The flight aims to test the vehicle’s thermal heat shield as it plunges through temperatures of 4,000 Fahrenheit (2,200 Celsius), and see how well the nearly nine-ton spacecraft splashes down in the Pacific Ocean off California.

However, the Delta IV heavy rocket that will launch the spacecraft is not yet ready.

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Gerstenmaier said the space launch system (SLS) is 70 percent complete and again cited “tremendous progress” on the project.

Orion’s next space mission — a spin around the Moon — is set for 2017.

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While no crew will be on board, the test run aims to orbit the Moon at a height of 75,000 kilometers (46,600 miles) for three weeks, he said.

Gerstenmaier described this as “a stable orbit” in which an object could remain “for 100 years without any altitude adjustment.”

Indeed, plans for the future include placing a 500-ton asteroid in the lunar orbit so that Orion crews could visit it, perhaps in the 2020s.

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“We are going to take this capsule into that region around the Moon and see how we can actually use lunar gravity to get in this orbit and get out of this orbit and return back to the Earth,” he said.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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Here’s the huge blunder Trump made against Jeff Sessions on the eve of the Alabama GOP primary

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On the eve of the Republican primary in Alabama, President Donald Trump may have committed a blunder that could backfire for his preferred candidate.

Trump is backing former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in his campaign against Jeff Sessions, who held the seat until retiring to become Trump's attorney general.

In a campaign call with the former Auburn coach, Trump brought up current University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban. But Trump, who has repeatedly questioned Joe Biden's mental prowess, screwed up Saban's name.

https://twitter.com/kaitlancollins/status/1282866172778680320

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Congress petitions Supreme Court over their ‘urgent’ investigations into Donald Trump: report

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The House of Representatives is reviving efforts to obtain financial documents from Donald Trump as part of multiple investigations, Politico reported Monday.

"The House is planning to quickly revisit its effort to obtain President Donald Trump’s personal financial records, urging the Supreme Court on Monday night to take its final formal steps on the matter so lawmakers can reignite the issue in the lower courts," Politico reported.

"In a filing late Monday, the House’s top lawyer, Douglas Letter, urged the justices to immediately effectuate their July 9 ruling on the House’s subpoena for Trump’s records. Once the ruling is in force, the House can return to the U.S. District Court judge who initially heard the case and ask for renewed consideration," Politico explained. "But Supreme Court rulings typically don’t go into force immediately, and Letter noted that the Mazars ruling would normally take effect on Aug. 3 without the intervention of the justices. The lower courts can’t begin to take up the effort until the Supreme Court ruling takes hold, and the House is urging the justices to make that happen as quickly as possible."

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White House poised to ask governors to consider National Guard deployment for coronavirus data crisis: report

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Donald Trump's White House believes that National Guard troops could hold the solution to the COVID-19 data crisis, according to a new report.

"The Trump administration is poised to ask governors to consider sending in the National Guard to hospitals to help improve data collection about coronavirus patients, supplies and capacity, according to draft letters, internal emails and hospital industry officials familiar with the plans," The Washington Post reported Monday.

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