For many people in government and the auto industry, the main concern is whether there will be enough lithium to meet soaring demand for electric vehicles.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed in August, has raised the stakes for the auto industry. To qualify for several incentives and subsidies in the law, which go to car buyers and automakers and are worth a total of $10,000 or more per electric vehicle, battery makers must use raw materials from North America or a country with which the United States has a trade agreement.

rising fast.

California and other states move to ban internal combustion engines. “It’s going to take everything we can do and our competitors can do over the next five years to keep up,” Mr. Norris said.

One of the first things that Sayona had to do when it took over the La Corne mine was pump out water that had filled the pit, exposing terraced walls of dark and pale stone from previous excavations. Lighter rock contains lithium.

After being blasted loose and crushed, the rock is processed in several stages to remove waste material. A short drive from the mine, inside a large building with walls of corrugated blue metal, a laser scanner uses jets of compressed air to separate light-colored lithium ore. The ore is then refined in vats filled with detergent and water, where the lithium floats to the surface and is skimmed away.

The end product looks like fine white sand but it is still only about 6 percent lithium. The rest includes aluminum, silicon and other substances. The material is sent to refineries, most of them in China, to be further purified.

Yves Desrosiers, an engineer and a senior adviser at Sayona, began working at the La Corne mine in 2012. During a tour, he expressed satisfaction at what he said were improvements made by Sayona and Piedmont. Those include better control of dust, and a plan to restore the site once the lithium runs out in a few decades.

“The productivity will be a lot better because we are correcting everything,” Mr. Desrosiers said. In a few years, the company plans to upgrade the facility to produce lithium carbonate, which contains a much higher concentration of lithium than the raw metal extracted from the ground.

The operation will get its electricity from Quebec’s abundant hydropower plants, and will use only recycled water in the separation process, Mr. Desrosiers said. Still, environmental activists are watching the project warily.

Mining is a pillar of the Quebec economy, and the area around La Corne is populated with people whose livelihoods depend on extraction of iron, nickel, copper, zinc and other metals. There is an active gold mine near the largest city in the area, Val-d’Or, or Valley of Gold.

Mining “is our life,” said Sébastien D’Astous, a metallurgist turned politician who is the mayor of Amos, a small city north of La Corne. “Everybody knows, or has in the near family, people who work in mining or for contractors.”

Most people support the lithium mine, but a significant minority oppose it, Mr. D’Astous said. Opponents fear that another lithium mine being developed by Sayona in nearby La Motte, Quebec, could contaminate an underground river.

Rodrigue Turgeon, a local lawyer and program co-leader for MiningWatch Canada, a watchdog group, has pushed to make sure the Sayona mines undergo rigorous environmental reviews. Long Point First Nation, an Indigenous group that says the mines are on its ancestral territory, wants to conduct its own environmental impact study.

Sébastien Lemire, who represents the region around La Corne in the Canadian Parliament, said he wanted to make sure that the wealth created by lithium mining flowed to the people of Quebec rather than to outside investors.

Mr. Lemire praised activists for being “vigilant” about environmental standards, but he favors the mine and drives an electric car, a Chevrolet Bolt.

“If we don’t do it,” he said at a cafe in La Corne, “we’re missing the opportunity of the electrification of transport.”

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Israel to ban Boeing 747s, other 4-engine planes amid environmental concerns

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A Boeing 747-400 aircraft takes off from a runway at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, Russia, October 2, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

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JERUSALEM, Sept 4 – Israel will ban Boeing 747 and similar aircraft with four engines as of March 31, 2023 to reduce noise and air pollution, its airports authority said on Sunday.

As part of a broader plan under development to improve the surrounding environment, the authority said that it had already told airlines they would not be able to land large airplanes at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv as of the 2023 summer season.

The directive is mainly for cargo aircraft since most, it not all, carriers have stopped using 747 and other four-engine planes on routes to Israel.

Flag carrier El Al (ELAL.TA) has already retired its fleet of 747s and uses twin-engine Boeing 777 and 787 planes on long-haul routes. Competitors also use those Boeing planes or comparable Airbus (AIR.PA) ones to Ben Gurion, although the 747s are still used by some for cargo.

Operation of aircraft with four engines will be allowed in exceptional cases and only with a special permit.

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Reporting by Steven Scheer

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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NASA’s 2nd Attempt To Launch Artemis Scrubbed Over Fuel Leak

NASA says the repair work could bump the launch into October.

The troubles began at daybreak, as NASA started fueling the massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for its maiden flight.

“They are in stop flow at the moment. There was a leak detected in the engine cavity,” said Derrol Nail, a NASA spokesperson.

NASA engineers talked and troubleshooted but could not fix it. The Artemis 1 launch, for the second time since Monday, was scrubbed.

“It was pretty clear that we weren’t going to be able to work our way through it like we did on Monday in terms of the managing of the leak. Every time we saw the leak, it was a large leak,” said Michael Sarafin, Artemis’ mission manager.

NASA is now investigating whether the leak was caused by human error when pressure in a hydrogen line went up three times more than what it should have been.

“We do know with this was a manual sequence. It may have been the fact that we didn’t automate this particular sequence that could have been part of the part of the reason that we had the inadvertent overpressure,” said Sarafin.

SLS is a key part of NASA’s goal to land astronauts on the moon by 2025. The rocket, six years behind-schedule and overbudget, is powered by engines recycled from the space shuttle program.

“We tried to stress that this was a test. And a test has certain risks,” said Bill Nelson, a NASA administrator.

Around Kennedy Space Center, hundreds of thousands of rocket-watchers crowded Florida’s space coast.

“I dragged my wife down here. We got we got here yesterday at 7 a.m. So, we’ve been here quite a while,” said David D’Alessandro, who traveled from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

D’Alessandro says he’s waited a long time for this. And he’ll be back.

“It’s been 50 years waiting for them to go back to the moon. It’s way overdue. I think we should have gone back a lot sooner. And I’m looking forward to this,” said D’Alessandro.

NASA says they still have a lot to do to understand exactly what caused today’s leak. They expect to have to roll the 322-foot-tall rocket back inside to make repairs, and while they are still looking at options, Artemis 1 likely will not launch until sometime in October.

Source: newsy.com

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Fuel Leak Ruins NASA’s 2nd Shot At Launching Moon Rocket

Artemis — years behind schedule and billions over budget — aims to establish a sustained human presence on the moon.

NASA’s new moon rocket sprang another dangerous fuel leak Saturday, forcing launch controllers to call off their second attempt to send a crew capsule into lunar orbit with test dummies.

The first attempt earlier in the week was also marred by escaping hydrogen, but those leaks were elsewhere on the 322-foot (98-meter) rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said repair work could bump the launch into October.

Mission managers planned to meet later in the day to decide on a course of action. After Tuesday, a two-week launch blackout period kicks in. Extensive leak inspections and repairs, meanwhile, could require that the rocket be hauled off the pad and back into the hangar; that would push the flight into October, Nelson said.

“We’ll go when it’s ready. We don’t go until then and especially now on a test flight, because we’re going to stress this and test it … and make sure it’s right before we put four humans up on the top of it,” Nelson said.

He added: “This is part of our space program: Be ready for the scrubs.”

NASA wants to send the crew capsule atop the rocket around the moon, pushing it to the limit before astronauts get on the next flight. If the five-week demo with test dummies succeeds, astronauts could fly around the moon in 2024 and land on it in 2025. People last walked on the moon 50 years ago.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson and her team had barely started loading nearly 1 million gallons of fuel into the Space Launch System rocket at daybreak when the leak cropped up in the engine section at the bottom.

Ground controllers tried to plug it the way they handled previous leaks: stopping and restarting the flow of super-cold liquid hydrogen in hopes of closing the gap around a seal in the supply line. They tried that twice, in fact, and also flushed helium through the line. But the leak persisted.

Blackwell-Thompson finally halted the countdown after three to four hours of futile effort.

During Monday’s launch attempt, hydrogen fuel escaped from elsewhere in the rocket. Technicians tightened up the fittings over the past week, but Blackwell-Thompson cautioned that she wouldn’t know whether everything was tight until Saturday’s fueling.

Hydrogen molecules are exceedingly small — the smallest in existence — and even the tiniest gap or crevice can provide a way out. NASA’s space shuttles, now retired, were plagued by hydrogen leaks. The new moon rocket uses the same type of main engines.

Even more of a problem Monday, a sensor indicated one of the rocket’s four engines was too warm, but engineers later verified it actually was cold enough. The launch team planned to ignore the faulty sensor this time around and rely on other instruments to ensure each main engine was properly chilled. But the countdown never got that far.

Mission managers accepted the additional risk posed by the engine issue as well as a separate problem: cracks in the rocket’s insulating foam. But they acknowledged other trouble — like fuel leaks — could prompt yet another delay.

That didn’t stop thousands from jamming the coast to see the Space Launch System rocket soar. Local authorities expected massive crowds because of the long Labor Day holiday weekend.

The $4.1 billion test flight is the first step in NASA’s Artemis program of renewed lunar exploration, named after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology.

Twelve astronauts walked on the moon during NASA’s Apollo program, the last time in 1972.

Artemis — years behind schedule and billions over budget — aims to establish a sustained human presence on the moon, with crews eventually spending weeks at a time there. It’s considered a training ground for Mars.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Fuel Leak Disrupts NASA’s 2nd Shot At Launching Moon Rocket

By Associated Press
September 3, 2022

Artemis — years behind schedule and billions over budget — aims to establish a sustained human presence on the moon.

NASA’s new moon rocket sprang another hazardous leak Saturday, as the launch team began fueling it for liftoff on a test flight that must go well before astronauts climb aboard.

For the second time this week, the launch team began loading nearly 1 million gallons of fuel into the 322-foot rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA. Monday’s attempt was halted by a bad engine sensor and leaking fuel.

As the sun rose, an over-pressure alarm sounded and the tanking operation was briefly halted, but no damage occurred and the effort resumed, NASA’s Launch Control reported. But minutes later, hydrogen fuel began leaking from the engine section at the bottom of the rocket. NASA halted the operation, while engineers scrambled to plug what was believed to be a gap around a seal.

The countdown clocks continued ticking toward an afternoon liftoff; NASA had two hours Saturday to get the rocket off.

NASA wants to send the crew capsule atop the rocket around the moon, pushing it to the limit before astronauts get on the next flight. If the five-week demo with test dummies succeeds, astronauts could fly around the moon in 2024 and land on it in 2025. People last walked on the moon 50 years ago.

Forecasters expected generally favorable weather at Kennedy Space Center, especially toward the end of the two-hour afternoon launch window.

At the same time, the rocket’s lead engineers expressed confidence in the tightened-up fuel lines and procedure changes.

On Monday, a sensor indicated one of the four engines was too warm, but engineers later verified it actually was cold enough. The launch team planned to ignore the faulty sensor this time around and rely on other instruments to ensure each main engine was properly chilled.

Before igniting, the main engines need to be as frigid as the liquid hydrogen fuel flowing into them at minus-420 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, the resulting damage could lead to an abrupt engine shutdown and aborted flight.

Mission managers accepted the additional risk posed by the engine issue as well as a separate problem: cracks in the rocket’s insulating foam. But they acknowledged other problems could prompt yet another delay.

That didn’t stop thousands from jamming the coast to see the Space Launch System rocket soar. Local authorities expected massive crowds because of the long Labor Day holiday weekend.

The $4.1 billion test flight is the first step in NASA’s Artemis program of renewed lunar exploration, named after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology.

Twelve astronauts walked on the moon during NASA’s Apollo program, the last time in 1972.

Artemis — years behind schedule and billions over budget — aims to establish a sustained human presence on the moon, with crews eventually spending weeks at a time there. It’s considered a training ground for Mars.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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NASA Aims For Saturday Launch Of New Moon Rocket After Fixes

By Associated Press
September 2, 2022

NASA is counting down toward a Saturday launch of its new moon rocket, its second attempt in a week.

NASA aimed for a Saturday launch of its new moon rocket, after fixing fuel leaks and working around a bad engine sensor that foiled the first try.

The inaugural flight of the 322-foot (98-meter) rocket — the most powerful ever built by NASA — was delayed late in the countdown Monday. The Kennedy Space Center clocks started ticking again as managers expressed confidence in their plan and forecasters gave favorable weather odds.

Atop the rocket is a crew capsule with three test dummies that will fly around the moon and back over the course of six weeks — NASA’s first such attempt since the Apollo program 50 years ago. NASA wants to wring out the spacecraft before strapping in astronauts on the next planned flight in two years.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he’s more confident going into this second launch attempt, given everything engineers learned from the first try.

So is astronaut Jessica Meir, who’s on NASA’s short list for one of the initial moon crews.

“We’re all excited for this to go, but the most important thing is that we go when we’re ready and we get it right, because the next missions will have humans on board. Maybe me, maybe my friends,” Meir told The Associated Press on Friday.

The engineers in charge of the Space Launch System rocket insisted Thursday evening that all four of the rocket’s main engines were good and that a faulty temperature sensor caused one of them to appear as though it were too warm Monday. The engines need to match the minus-420 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-250 degrees Celsius) of the liquid hydrogen fuel at liftoff, otherwise they could be damaged and shut down in flight.

“We have convinced ourselves without a shadow of a doubt that we have good-quality liquid hydrogen going through the engines,” said John Honeycutt, the rocket’s program manager.

Once fueling begins Saturday morning, the launch team will perform another engine test — this time earlier in the countdown. Even if that suspect sensor indicates the one engine is too warm, other sensors can be relied on to ensure everything is working correctly and to halt the countdown if there’s a problem, Honeycutt told reporters.

NASA could not perform that kind of engine test during dress rehearsals earlier this year because of leaking fuel. More fuel leaks cropped up Monday; technicians found some loose connections and tightened them.

The engine-temperature situation adds to the flight’s risk, as does another problem that cropped up Monday: cracks in the foam insulation of the rocket. If any foam pieces break off at liftoff, they could strike the strap-on boosters and damage them. Engineers consider the likelihood of that happening low and have accepted these slight additional risks.

“This is an extremely complicated machine and system. Millions of parts,” NASA’s chief, Nelson, told the AP. “There are, in fact, risks. But are those risks acceptable? I leave that to the experts. My role is to remind them you don’t take any chances that are not acceptable risk.”

The $4.1 billion test flight is NASA’s first step in sending astronauts around the moon in 2024 and landing them on the surface in 2025. Astronauts last walked on the moon in 1972.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

Source: newsy.com

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Take 2: NASA Aims For Saturday Launch Of Artemis I Moon Rocket

By Associated Press
August 31, 2022

The 322-foot rocket — the most powerful ever built by NASA — remains on its pad at Kennedy Space Center with an empty crew capsule on top.

NASA will try again Saturday to launch its new moon rocket on a test flight, after engine trouble halted the first countdown this week.

Managers said Tuesday they are changing fueling procedures to deal with the issue. A bad sensor also could be to blame for Monday’s scrapped launch, they noted.

The 322-foot rocket — the most powerful ever built by NASA — remains on its pad at Kennedy Space Center with an empty crew capsule on top.

The Space Launch System rocket will attempt to send the capsule around the moon and back. No one will be aboard, just three test dummies. If successful, it will be the first capsule to fly to the moon since NASA’s Apollo program 50 years ago.

Proceeding toward a Saturday launch will provide additional insight, even if the problem reappears and the countdown is halted again, said NASA’s rocket program manager, John Honeycutt. That’s better “than us sitting around scratching our heads, was it good enough or not.”

“Based on what I’ve heard from the technical team today, what we need to do is continue to pore over the data and polish up our plan on putting the flight rationale together,” he said.

During Monday’s launch attempt, readings showed that one of the four main engines in the rocket’s core stage could not be chilled sufficiently prior to the planned ignition at liftoff. It appeared to be as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the desired minus-420 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of the hydrogen fuel, according to Honeycutt. The three other engines came up just a little short.

All of the engines appear to be fine, according to Honeycutt.

The chilling operation will be conducted a half-hour earlier for Saturday afternoon’s launch attempt, once fueling begins that morning. Honeycutt said the timing of this engine chilldown was earlier during successful testing last year, and so performing it sooner may do the trick.

Honeycutt also questioned the integrity of one engine sensor, saying it might have provided inaccurate data Monday. To change that sensor, he noted, would mean hauling the rocket back into the hangar, resulting in weeks of delay.

Already years behind schedule, the $4.1 billion test flight is the opening shot in NASA’s Artemis moon-exploration program, named after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology. Astronauts could strap in as soon as 2024 for a lap around the moon and actually attempt a lunar landing in 2025.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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NASA Scrubs Monday Artemis Launch, But It Could Still Happen This Week

The 322-foot Space Launch System rocket was set to lift off Monday morning with three test dummies aboard on its first flight.

The maiden flight of the most powerful rocket ship ever built is on hold.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell Thompson called a scrub of the Artemis I launch attempt and the Space Launch System with the Orion spacecraft. 

The SLS rocket and the Orion capsule are part of NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon and maybe Mars one day. But on Monday, Artemis couldn’t overcome problems on Earth. Lightning storms, leaking rocket fuel and trouble cooling one of the four main engines turned Monday’s launch into a bust.

“There are millions of components of this rocket and its systems, and needless to say the complexity is daunting when you bring it all into the focus of a countdown,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.

The SLS program was once canceled by President Barack Obama for being over budget and behind schedule, but Congress, including then-Sen. Nelson, brought it back to life. It reuses engines from the old space shuttle program and has never flown.

At the same time, private companies like Space X are going to the stars faster and much cheaper.

“Right now we’re seeing the last gasp as sort of the Apollo approach to building giant rockets, and meanwhile 1,000 miles to the West, Elon Musk can build his starship so cheaply that he blows them up, and he puts a blooper reel out,” said Keith Cowing with NASAwatch.com.

NASA says it is now going to figure out what went wrong.

“We’re gonna launch when we’re ready, and that’s our approach,” said Jim Free, NASA associate administrator. “There’s nobody that came wanting a launch more than our team that has worked on this. Everybody wants it to be successful.”

NASA says if the problems can be fixed, there is a chance Artemis 1 might still launch on Friday afternoon.

“We’re gonna play all nine innings,” said Mike Serafin, Artemis mission manager at NASA headquarters. “We’re not ready to give up yet.”

Even though NASA says Friday is still very much in play for a launch, as one NASA official put it, delays are par for the course.

Source: newsy.com

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Leaks And Possible Crack Threaten To Delay NASA Moon Launch

By Associated Press
August 29, 2022

The 322-foot Space Launch System rocket was set to lift off Monday morning with three test dummies aboard on its first flight.

Fuel leaks and a possible crack discovered during final liftoff preparations threatened to postpone the launch of NASA’s mighty new moon rocket Monday morning on its shakedown flight with three test dummies aboard.

As precious minutes ticked away, NASA repeatedly stopped and started the fueling of the Space Launch System rocket with nearly 1 million gallons of super-cold hydrogen and oxygen because of a leak. The fueling already was running nearly an hour late because of thunderstorms off Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

The leak of highly explosive hydrogen appeared in the same place that saw seepage during a dress rehearsal back in the spring.

Then a second apparent hydrogen leak turned up in a valve that had caused trouble in June but that NASA thought it had fixed, officials said.

Later in the morning, a crack or some other defect was spotted on the core stage — the big orange fuel tank with four main engines on it — with frost appearing around the suspect area, NASA officials said. Engineers began studying the buildup.

The rocket was set to lift off on a mission to put a crew capsule into orbit around the moon. The launch represents a milestone in America’s quest to put astronauts back on the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo program ended 50 years ago.

NASA’s assistant launch director, Jeremy Graeber, said after the repeated struggles with the first leak that the space agency would have to decide whether to go forward with the Monday morning launch.

“We have a lot of work to get to that point,” Graeber cautioned.

If NASA scrubbed Monday’s launch, the next attempt wouldn’t be until Friday at the earliest.

The 322-foot rocket is the most powerful ever built by NASA, out-muscling even the Saturn V that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

No astronauts were inside the rocket’s Orion capsule. Instead, the test dummies, fitted with sensors to measure vibration, cosmic radiation and other conditions, were strapped in for the six-week mission, scheduled to end with the capsule’s splashdown in the Pacific in October.

Even though no one was on board, thousands of people jammed the coast to see the rocket soar. Vice President Kamala Harris was expected among the VIPs.

The launch is the first flight in NASA’s 21st-century moon-exploration program, named Artemis after Apollo’s mythological twin sister.

Assuming the test goes well, astronauts will climb aboard for the second flight and fly around the moon and back as soon as 2024. A two-person lunar landing could follow by the end of 2025.

The problems seen Monday were reminiscent of NASA’s space shuttle era, when hydrogen fuel leaks disrupted countdowns and delayed a string of launches back in 1990.

Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson and her team also had to deal with a communication problem involving the Orion capsule.

Engineers scrambled to understand an 11-minute delay in the communication lines between launch control and Orion that cropped up late Sunday. Though the problem had cleared by Monday morning, NASA needed to know why it happened before committing to a launch.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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