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Astronauts Launching to Space Are Vaccinated Against Covid-19

Without hospitals or medical specialists in space, NASA and other space agencies have always been concerned about astronauts falling sick during a mission. To minimize the chances of that, they typically spend the two weeks before launch in quarantine.

A Covid-19 superspreader event at the space station would disrupt operations.

The interior of the space station has a volume equivalent to a Boeing 747 jetliner, so there would be space for infected crew members to isolate themselves. But space station managers certainly would not want to worry about the virus spreading in the station’s perpetually filtered and recycled air.

During a news conference last week, Shane Kimbrough, the NASA astronaut who is the commander of Crew-2, said all four astronauts had received Covid vaccinations. “I guess it went fine,” he said. “We all have a little bit different reactions, just like most people do. So we’re no different in that regard. But we’re thankful that we have the vaccines.”

The three astronauts who launched in a Soyuz rocket to the station earlier this month — Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency and Mark Vande Hei of NASA — were also vaccinated.

The four astronauts of the Crew-1 mission are not, because no vaccines were available when they launched last November. When they return to Earth, every human not on the planet will be vaccinated against Covid-19.

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SpaceX Wins NASA $2.9 Billion Contract to Build Moon Lander

Elon Musk’s private space company is developing a giant rocket called Starship to one day take people to Mars.

But first, it will drop off NASA astronauts at the moon.

NASA announced on Friday that it had awarded a contract to SpaceX for $2.9 billion to use Starship to take astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon.

The contract extends NASA’s trend of relying on private companies to ferry people, cargo and robotic explorers to space. But it also represents something of a triumph for Mr. Musk in the battle of space billionaires. One of the competitors for the NASA lunar contract was Blue Origin, created by Jeffrey P. Bezos of Amazon.

SpaceX now outshines Blue Origin and other rocket builders, emphasizing how it has become the highest-profile partner of NASA in its human spaceflight program.

The Washington Post.

NASA last year awarded contracts to three companies for initial design work on landers that could carry humans to the lunar surface. In addition to SpaceX, NASA selected proposals from Dynetics, a defense contractor in Huntsville, Ala., and Mr. Bezos’ Blue Origin, which had joined in what it called the National Team with several traditional aerospace companies: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper.

The award is only for the first crewed landing, and SpaceX must first perform an uncrewed landing. “NASA is requiring a test flight to fully check out all systems with a landing on the lunar surface prior to our formal demonstration mission,” Ms. Watson-Morgan said.

NASA officials said Blue Origin, Dynetics and other companies would be able to bid for future moon landing missions.

Mr. Trump pledged a return by 2024, the schedule was not considered realistic after Congress did not provide requested financing, and NASA is now re-evaluating the schedule.

The NASA Artemis program is expected to launch its first uncrewed trip either later this year or early next year, using a powerful rocket called the Space Launch System to propel the Orion capsule, where future astronauts will be sitting, on a trip to the moon and back. The booster stage of the rocket passed an important ground test last month.

For the spacecraft that would land astronauts on the moon, NASA had been expected to choose two of the three companies to move forward and build their landers, mirroring the approach the space agency has used for hiring companies to take cargo and now astronauts to the International Space Station. Two options provide competition that helps keep costs down, and provides a backup in case one of the systems encounters a setback.

why NASA needs the Space Launch System rocket at all.

Each launch of the Space Launch System is expected to cost more than $1 billion. Because Starship is designed to be fully reusable, its costs will be far cheaper.

The Artemis plans currently call for the astronauts to launch into orbit on top of a Space Launch System rocket. The upper stage of the rocket is to then propel the Orion capsule, where the astronauts will be sitting, toward the moon.

Unlike NASA’s Apollo moon missions in the 1960s and 1970s, the lander spacecraft is to be sent separately to lunar orbit. Orion is to dock with the lander, which will then head to the surface.

But Starship will dwarf Orion in size, making the architecture similar to sailing a yacht across the Atlantic Ocean and then switching to a cruise ship for the short ride into port.

Yusaku Maezawa, has bought an around-the-moon flight on Starship. That trip, which could occur as soon as 2023, would only pass by the moon and not land.

SpaceX has been launching a series of high-altitude tests of Starship prototypes at its site at the southern tip of Texas, not far outside Brownsville, to perfect how the spacecraft would return to Earth. SpaceX has made great progress with the maneuver of belly-flopping to slow its fall, but the tests so far have all ended explosively.

Mr. Musk recently pledged that the spacecraft would be ready to fly people to space by 2023, although he has a track record of overpromising and underdelivering on rocket development schedules.

Nevertheless, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has become the workhorse of American and international spaceflight with its reusable booster stage. The company has twice carried astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, and it is scheduled to loft a third crew there on Thursday.

Numerous private satellite operators have relied on the company to carry their payloads to orbit. And another company, Astrobotic, announced this week that it had picked a larger SpaceX rocket, Falcon Heavy, to carry a NASA rover called VIPER to the moon’s south pole to prospect for ice in the coming years.

On Friday, the Biden administration also announced the nomination of Pamela Melroy, a former astronaut, to become NASA’s deputy administrator. Last month, Bill Nelson, a former Florida senator, was nominated to be administrator.

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Glynn S. Lunney Dies at 84; Oversaw NASA Flights From Mission Control

Glynn S. Lunney, the NASA flight director who played a major role in America’s space program and was hailed for his leadership in the rescue of three Apollo 13 astronauts when their spacecraft was rocked by an explosion en route to the moon in 1973, died on March 19 at his home in Clear Lake, Texas. He was 84.

The cause was stomach cancer, his son Shawn said.

Mr. Lunney (rhymes with “sunny”), who joined NASA at its inception in 1958 and became its chief flight director in 1968, worked out of mission control in Houston in developing the elaborate procedures for the flight of Apollo 11, sending Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their pioneering journey to the moon in July 1969.

He managed the July 1975 mission in which an Apollo spacecraft with three astronauts docked with a two-man Russian Soyuz spaceship. Each vehicle carried equipment that would facilitate another linkup someday if an international rescue mission were needed. The Americans and the Russians carried out joint experiments and exchanged commemorative gifts in what became a step toward cooperation among nations in space aboard the International Space Station.

But Mr. Lunney was remembered especially for his take-charge efforts in the dramatic rescue of the Apollo 13 astronauts James L. Lovell Jr., Fred W. Haise Jr. and John L. Swigert Jr.

the hit 1995 movie “Apollo 13,” Marc McClure played Mr. Lunney.

Christopher C. Kraft Jr., NASA’s first chief flight director.

Mr. Lunney was the space agency’s fourth flight director. In that post, he was responsible for leading teams of flight controllers, research and engineering experts and support personnel around the world making decisions during spaceflights.

Among the numerous achievements of his NASA career, Mr. Lunney was lead flight director for Apollo 7, the first crewed Apollo flight, and Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the first moon landing.

He retired from NASA in 1985 as manager of the space shuttle program, but he continued to lead human spaceflight activities through executive posts in private industry.

Voices From the Moon” (2009), an astronaut oral history complied by Andrew Chaikin and Victoria Kohl.

“And he just brought calm to the situation,” Mr. Mattingly said. “I’ve never seen such an extraordinary example of leadership in my entire career. Absolutely magnificent.

“No general or admiral in wartime could ever be more magnificent than Glynn was that night,” he added. “He and he alone brought all of the scared people together.”

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