Successful Launch Of Orion Spacecraft First Step Towards Mars Mission (Pictures / Video)

‘Day One Of The Mars Era': Orion Test Flight That Heralds New Age Of Space Exploration Launches After Yesterday’s Technical Glitches – Daily Mail

For the first time in nearly half a century, Nasa has launched a spaceship designed to carry astronauts far beyond Earth.

Riding atop a fountain of fire, the 24-story-tall Orion spacecraft soared above the Atlantic Ocean at 12.05 GMT (07.05 ET), punching through partly cloudy skies.

The unmanned craft is now being catapulted around the Earth twice in a 4.5 hour journey, which will end 16:30 GMT (11:30 ET) when it re-enters the atmosphere at 20,000 mph (32,000 km/h).

In the future, Nasa hopes to use the spacecraft to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s and ultimately take them to Mars in the 2030s.


‘The star of the day is Orion,’ said Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden, back for the second morning in a row. He called it ‘Day one of the Mars era.’

The maiden launch of the Orion spacecraft was postponed yesterday, after a technical fault, a stray boat and poor weather conditions hampered efforts to blast into space.

However, today’s launch was described by Nasa as ‘picture perfect’ – and so far all of the separation stages have gone to plan.

As the rocket roared into orbit, cameras streamed video showing dramatic pictures of the two side boosters falling away and the curved edge of the Earth.

Nasa is aiming for a peak altitude of 3,600 miles (5,800 km) on Orion’s second lap around the planet, in order to give the capsule the necessary momentum for a scorchingly high-speed re-entry over the Pacific.

The spacecraft has travelled through Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts that protect the planet from charged particles. Scientists say this will show how well equipment tolerates radiation like that experienced on the long journey to Mars.

Just three minutes into the launch, the spacecraft was already travelling at five times the speed of sound.


Engineers want to see how the heat shield – the largest of its kind ever built – holds up when Orion comes back through the atmosphere traveling 20,000 mph (32,200 kph)and enduring 4,000 degrees (2,200 Celsius).



The atmosphere at Kennedy Space Center was reminiscent of the shuttle-flying days. After more than three years since the last shuttle flight, Nasa reveled in all the attention.

Launch commentator Mike Curie fed the enthusiasm in the gathered crowds, calling it ‘the dawn of Orion in a new era of American space exploration’

Mark Geyer, Orion programme manager at Nasa, said: ‘It was very good to see how well the rocket did its job and very exciting to see it go up into space.

‘Now it is actually doing the job it was designed to do. We still have a long way to go with this mission but everything is going great.

‘All the systems were on already, we have linked up to the satellites.

‘We had a few key tests to run in the first six minutes of the flight that were very important for us.

‘We jettisoned service module fairing which are there to reduce mass on the rest of Orion. This is a critical event these pyrotechnic systems and it went perfectly.




Orion is being developed alongside the world’s most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), which is due to make its maiden launch in 2018 or 2019.

Together, SLS and Orion will allow Nasa to send humans into deep space to destinations such as Mars.

For this launch, Orion was strapped to a Delta IV-Heavy rocket – currently the largest launch system in the world. Three RS-68 engines produced about two million pounds of thrust at lift-off.

Five and a half minutes after launch, at an altitude of around 200 miles (320km), fuel ran out on both the Delta IV’s main and booster engines.

A couple of seconds later, the entire bottom end – or the ‘first stage’ of the rocket – detached, while the second stage engine will ignited to take Orion to a higher orbit.

The upper stage’s protective fairings were then jettisoned, along with the launch abort system, which is designed to protect the astronauts in the case of an emergency during launch by carrying the capsule to safety.




After two hours, and one orbit of Earth, the second-stage rocket will be ignited again, moving Orion up to an altitude of 3,600 miles (5,800 km).

This is 15 times the distance to the ISS and will cause Orion to travel through the high-radiation Van Allen Belts.

At three hours after lift-off, Orion will hit its peak altitude and then slowly start its descent back to Earth

The flight program has been loaded into Orion’s computers well in advance, allowing the spacecraft to fly essentially on autopilot.

It should give engineers the opportunity to check the performance of Orion’s critical heat shield, which is likely to experience temperatures in excess of 2,000ºC (4,000°F).

Its re-entry speed into the atmosphere will be close to 20,000mph (32,000km/h) – similar to the speed of the Apollo capsules that returned from the moon in the 1960s and 1970s.

The dry run, if all goes well, will end with a Pacific splashdown off Mexico’s Baja coast and Navy ships will recover the capsule for future use.




The spacecraft is rigged with 1,200 sensors to gauge everything from heat to vibration to radiation.

Geyer said: ‘We’re going to test the riskiest parts of the mission. Ascent, entry and things like fairing separations, Launch Abort System jettison, the parachute, plus the navigation and guidance – all those things are going to be tested.

‘Plus, we’ll fly into deep space and test the radiation effects on those systems.’

A crucial test came when Orion flies flew through the Van Allen belts, which are two layers of charged particles orbiting around Earth.

‘The ISS would not have to deal with radiation but we will, and so will every vehicle that goes to the moon,’ Geyer told the BBC.

‘That’s a big issue for the computers. These processors that are now so small – they’re great for speed but they’re more susceptible to radiation.

‘That’s something we have to design for and see how it all behaves.’

Another key test was on the heat shield on Orion’s base, designed to protect the craft from the searing temperatures of atmospheric re-entry.

It is 16.5ft (five metres) across and is the biggest, most advanced of its kind ever made.




On this flight, Orion will reach close to 2,000ºC (4,000°F), not quite the 2,800ºC (5,000ºF) that was generated from the moon missions, but close enough for a good test of the technology.

That’s why Orion will aim for a 3,600 miles (5,800 km) peak altitude to pick up enough speed to come back fast and hot with this mission, officially called Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1).

Even though bears a strong resemblance to the Apollo command module that carried astronauts to the moon in the 1960s, it is bristling with the latest technology that makes it markedly different.

‘There’s an obvious comparison to draw between this first Orion launch and the first unmanned flight of the Apollo spacecraft on Apollo 4 [in 1967], but there are more differences than similarities,’ space historian Amy Teitel told MailOnline.

‘Apollo 4 flew a nearly lunar-ready command and service module, was the first flight of the Saturn V rocket, and demonstrated that both the S-IVB rocket stage and the spacecraft’s own engine could ignite in a vacuum.

‘The EFT-1 flight is only testing a spacecraft; it doesn’t even have its service module!

‘With Apollo 4, we knew we were going to the moon and it was clear this mission was putting us firmly back on that path after the major setback of the Apollo 1 fire. With Orion, we don’t have a clear goal and a firm timeline for this new spacecraft.’



But at 11ft (3.6 metres) tall with a 16.5ft (5 metres) base, Orion is much larger than the old-time Apollo capsules, and is designed to carry four astronauts rather than three.

The earliest Orion might carry passengers is 2021; a mission to an asteroid is on the space agency’s radar sometime in the 2020s and Mars, the grand prize, in the 2030s.

‘We’re approaching this as pioneers,’ said William Hill of Nasa’s exploration systems development office.

‘We’re going out to stay eventually… It’s many, many decades away, but that’s our intent.’

However, Nasa has yet to develop the technology to carry out manned surface operations on Mars.


By comparison, it took eight years from the time President John Kennedy announced his intentions of landing a man on the moon – before John Glenn even became the first American to orbit Earth – to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s lunar bootprints in 1969.

Given the present budget situation, ‘it is what it is,’ said Kennedy Space Center’s director Robert Cabana, a former astronaut. And the presidential election ahead could bring further delays and uncertainties.

Lockheed Martin is handling the £236 million ($370 million) test flight, and Nasa will be overseeing its operation.

Nasa’s last trip beyond low-Earth orbit in a vessel built for people was Apollo 17 in December 1972.

‘This is just the first of what will be a long line of exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit,’ said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development.

‘In a few years we will be sending our astronauts to destinations humans have never experienced. It’s thrilling to be a part of the journey now, at the beginning.’




Liberian Man’s Semen Tests Positive For Ebola After He Is Declared Cured

Man’s Semen Tests Positive For Ebola After He Was Cured – Big Government


A Liberian man was quarantined in India despite supposedly being cured of Ebola after samples of his semen tested positive for the deadly virus.

A 26-year-old native of Liberia arrived in New Delhi with a certificate from the Liberian health ministry saying that he was cured of the disease. But India wasn’t entirely satisfied with the claim and performed some tests of its own.

The World Health Organization already warns male survivors not to have sexual intercourse for up to seven weeks after being cleared of the disease. The WHO even thinks that sex may have been how some victims got the disease.

“It is reiterated that the person concerned is a treated and cured case of Ebola Virus Disease,” the Indian health ministry reported. Authorities said they would keep the man in isolation until all his bodily fluids tested negative for the virus.



VA Patients Treated With Dangerous, Counterfeit Surgical Devices And Supplies

Hospital Horror: VA Patients Treated With Bogus Medical Equipment, Supplies – Washington Times


Unauthorized and potentially counterfeit, dangerous surgical devices and medical supplies have flowed unchecked into the Department of Veterans Affairs supply chain and into VA operating rooms, according to internal agency correspondence from a major supplier who blamed new procurement rules.

The bogus supplies gained a foothold when the department started using reverse auctions to fulfill some contracts, according to both department officials and a 2012 memo from Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest medical device business.

In the memo, the company told the VA it was getting surgical supplies bought from unauthorized distributors through the so-called “gray market,” and said those supplies raised serious questions about patient safety, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials also warned the VA that an ongoing corporate investigation into the gray market showed how some unauthorized sellers were passing off products stolen from other hospitals.

“We do not believe that the VA intended for its efforts to utilize new procurement tools such as reverse auctions to result in these outcomes,” a company official wrote.

The Johnson & Johnson memo included a list of seven gray market surgical supply purchases by agency medical centers in a half-dozen states. But the company made clear there were more examples across the VA.

The warnings were issued months after the VA had a fierce internal debate over using reverse auctions, which have sellers compete to offer goods or services at the lowest price.

A top contracting official, Jan Frye, had put a halt on reverse auctions earlier in 2012, citing a “groundswell” of complaints from VA suppliers. But within weeks, the VA reversed after fierce lobbying from FedBid, the politically connected contractor handling the VA’s reverse auction platforms.

An inspector general’s report earlier this year issued a scathing rebuke to the VA over its dealings with FedBid, and said a VA procurement official, Susan Taylor, had improper contacts with FedBid. The inspector general recommended FedBid be disbarred. Ms. Taylor resigned soon after the report.

Emails obtained by The Times show concerns about reverse auctions persisted.

According to Johnson & Johnson, a South Carolina VA facility received a delivery of “trocar” surgical devices from an unauthorized distributor that was sent to VA without a box and was instead wrapped in yellowed packaging and rubber bands.

“The product being sold may not have been stored properly (high temperature, high humidity, no pest control, etc.), which could create patient risk,” Paul B. Smith, government account director for the company, told the VA, explaining the results of an ongoing company investigation.

An internal VA advisory group also raised an alarm in 2012 in a closed meeting with VA’s senior procurement council, which is composed of the agency’s top acquisition officials. The group recommended that VA stop purchasing “clinically oriented products” through reverse auctions.

Among other issues, the advisory group said FedBid had blocked access to names and contact information for contracting officers. And FedBid officials weren’t qualified to handle clinical purchases, according to the group.

“They do not possess the clinical expertise to position themselves between the buyer and vendor,” the industry group wrote in a report, adding that some VA suppliers refused to participate in reverse auctions.

“As a result of limited participation, FedBid in some cases sourced products from unauthorized distributors,” the report stated. “This has both resulted in significantly increased costs and encouraged the use of ‘gray market’ or counterfeit products.”

In an email statement to The Washington Time, a FedBid spokesman said the company had “established measures to protect against unauthorized sellers and will suspend or remove sellers who attempt to undermine the integrity of the marketplace.”

The company also said that government contracting officers ultimately have a responsibility to ensure they’re buying the right products.

“As with every procurement process, whether it is a reverse auction, single source contract, or open tendering, each buyer has the responsibility to ensure that they are purchasing the right products for their customer,” FedBid spokesman Andres Mancini wrote in an email.

In an email on Friday responding to questions from The Times placed earlier this week, a VA spokeswoman said Johnson & Johnson raised the issue in 2012 with the Veterans Health Administration, which prompted the agency to initiate a validation process among small business suppliers.

Spokeswoman Genevieve Billia noted in an email that VA couldn’t say how often it finds counterfeit material, but noted, “VA has a process in place to identify such items that come in, sot that they do not get to the patient.”

In September, two years after Johnson & Johnson contacted the VA, the agency inspector general’s office issued a report substantiating several of the concerns.

Contractors taking part in reverse auctions needed only to “self certify” that they’re authorized distributors of official surgical products sought by VA, according to auditors. The lack of more stringent requirements put VA at risk of buying from unauthorized distributors, according to the report.

In a written response to the inspector general’s report this year, VA officials agreed with a recommendation to ensure against the purchase of gray market items.



CDC Admits Ebola Can Be Spread By Sneezing

CDC Admits Droplets From A Sneeze Could Spread Ebola – New York Post


Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted – and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before, experts told The Post Tuesday.

“If you are sniffling and sneezing, you produce microorganisms that can get on stuff in a room. If people touch them, they could be” infected, said Dr. Meryl Nass, of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington, DC.

Nass pointed to a poster the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released on its Web site saying the deadly virus can be spread through “droplets.”

“Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose or mouth of another person,” the poster states.

Nass slammed the contradiction.

“The CDC said it doesn’t spread at all by air, then Friday they came out with this poster,” she said. “They admit that these particles or droplets may land on objects such as doorknobs and that Ebola can be transmitted that way.”

Dr. Rossi Hassad, a professor of epidemiology at Mercy College, said droplets could remain active for up to a day.

“A shorter duration for dry surfaces like a table or doorknob, and longer durations in a moist, damp environment,” Hassad said.

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.

In other developments:

* The de Blasio administration said the cost to New York of preparing for and treating Ebola ­patients and suspected victims will be “in the millions.” The city intends to ask the feds for help in paying the bill.
* Dr. Craig Spencer remained at Bellevue Hospital in serious but stable condition.
* The 5-year-old Bronx boy hospitalized at Bellevue was taken out of isolation after doctors determined he had only a respiratory infection.
* Texas nurse Amber Vinson, who caught Ebola while treating a Liberian man who later died, was declared disease-free and released from an Atlanta hospital – and was elated to be able to go home with the all-clear. “It has been God’s love that has truly carried my family and me through this difficult time and has played such an important role in giving me hope and strength to fight,” she said.
* Doctors Without Borders nurse Kaci Hickox, who was quarantined against her will at a New Jersey hospital after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, is staying at an undisclosed location in Maine. Tuesday night, her lawyer told ABC News, “Going forward, she does not intend to abide by the quarantine imposed by Maine officials because she is not a risk to others.”
* President Obama delivered a veiled jab at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s treatment of Hickox, saying officials should not react to the crisis based on “fears.”



Global Warming Update: Cold Temperatures Set Record As Snow Arrives In Chicago

Cold Temps Set Record As Snow Arrives In Chicago – WMAQ


Looks like Mother Nature isn’t going to let Chicago forget that winter is coming.

The city saw light snow Saturday morning, marking one of the earliest snow sightings on record.

The earliest snow spotting in Chicago is Sept. 25, which occurred in 1928 and again in 1944, according to the National Weather Service.

Saturday’s snowflakes mark the third earliest snow sighting since the city began recording.

The Rockford area also spotted snow Saturday morning, marking their second earliest sighting. The record was set in 1951 when the area saw snow on Oct. 3.

But the snow wasn’t the only weather element the Chicago area made the record books with this weekend.

The city set a temperature record with O’Hare Airport recording a high of 47 degrees, marking the lowest maximum high temperature in 79 years, the NWS reported. The previous record, set on October 4, 1935, was 48 degrees.

The average high temperature in Chicago for the month of October is 62 degrees. The average low temperature is about 43 degrees.

Blame Saturday’s cold snap on winds from the west-north-west brought in by a system that dropped significant rain on the Chicago area early Friday morning.

We’re in the range of calendar days when we could see our first fall freeze.

Winds Saturday morning kept frost away from the area despite the snow, but with temps dipping into the 30s overnight and very little wind forecast, the area could see pieces of patchy frost. Temperatures could dip below 32 degrees in some areas.

A Frost Advisory was issued Saturday night for several Illinois counties and parts of Northwest Indiana.

The earliest a fall freeze ever happened in Chicago was on Sept. 22, 1995. The latest that’s ever happened was the 30 degrees reached on Nov. 24, 1931, according to records provided by the National Weather Service.

Sunday looks to recover slightly with partly sunny skies and a high of 56 degrees.

The city will return to near-normal temperatures at the start of the work week with highs forecast in the low- to mid-60s for much of the week.



The Daley Gator Videos Site: 129 Vids And Counting (Videos)


…..Just a little taste of what you’ll find at the Daley Gator Videos site: