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Old SpaceX capsule delivers new crew to space station

A recycled SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday, the third high-flying taxi ride in less than a year for Elon Musk‘s company.

The Dragon capsule docked autonomously with the orbiting outpost 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the Indian Ocean, a day after launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The new arrivals — representing the U.S., France and Japan — will spend six months at the space station. They’ll replace four astronauts who will return to Earth in their own Dragon capsule Wednesday.

It was the first time two SpaceX crew Dragons were parked there at the same time — practically side by side.

Although this was SpaceX’s third crew flight for NASA, it was the first to use a vehicle that’s flown before, an essential part of Musk’s push to the moon and Mars. The Dragon capsule was used for SpaceX’s first crew launch last May, while the

Falcon

rocket soaring Friday hoisted crew two in November.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur — the commander and pilot of the arriving Dragon — monitored their capsule’s flat screen computers as the space station loomed ever larger. They could have taken control if necessary, but the autonomous system did its job, much like a self-driving car.

Also checking into the space station: France’s Thomas Pesquet and Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide. Both have lived there before, as has Kimbrough. It was the first station visit for McArthur.

McArthur flew to the space station in the same seat and the same capsule — Endeavour — as her husband, Bob Behnken, did on SpaceX’s debut crew mission.

For the next four days, the space station will be home to 11 astronauts, just shy of the record of 13 set during NASA’s space shuttle era. The current population includes six Americans, two Russians, two Japanese and one French. It will shrink by four on Wednesday when three Americans and one Japanese depart for home and a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lunar eclipse: Where exactly it will be visible in India and at what time

A total lunar eclipse will occur on May 26 but it will be visible in the country for a short span from northeastern India, some parts of West Bengal, coastal parts of Odisha and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the eclipse will be visible in the region covering South America, North America, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.

“From India, just after moonrise, ending of partial phase of the eclipse will be visible for a short span of time from the northeastern parts (except Sikkim), some parts of West Bengal, some costal parts of Odisha and Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” the IMD said.

The partial phase of the eclipse will begin at 3.15 pm and end at 6.23 pm, while the total phase will begin at 4.39 pm and end at 4.58 pm.

The eclipse can be seen from Port Blair from 5.38 pm and viewed for 45 minutes, the longest time. It can be seen from Puri and Malda from 6.21 pm but can only be viewed for two minutes.

The next lunar eclipse will be visible from India on November 19. It will be a partial lunar eclipse. The ending of the partial phase of which will be visible for a very short span of time just after moonrise from extreme northeastern parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

Lunar eclipse occurs on a full moon day when the Earth comes in between the Sun and the Moon and when all the three objects are aligned. A total lunar eclipse will occur when the whole Moon comes under the umbral shadow of the Earth and the partial lunar eclipse occurs when only a part of the Moon comes under the umbral shadow of the Earth.

( Originally published on May 25, 2021 )

China successfully launches new generation meteorological satellite

China on Thursday successfully launched the first of a new generation meteorological satellite into planned orbit which will be used in the fields of weather analysis, environmental and disaster monitoring.

The satellite, Fengyun-4B (FY-4B), was launched by a Long March-3B rocket in the early hours from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan Province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The FY-4B satellite which is the first of China’s new-generation meteorological satellites will be used in the fields of weather analysis and forecasting, and environmental and disaster monitoring, the report said.

The new satellite will further strengthen China’s observation and response capability of small and medium scale disaster events and provide information security services for a range of sectors including meteorological, agricultural, aviation, marine and environmental protection, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a press release.

The network will also be able to conduct dynamic monitoring and tracking of a variety of disaster elements including floods, cold fronts, droughts and sand storms, state-run Global Times reported.

Its observation range covers Asia, the central Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean regions, so that the network will also greatly improve China’s forecast accuracy of disaster weather including typhoons and storms, the report said.

It is equipped with a rapid imager, improving measurement resolution to 250 meters from the geostationary orbit and accelerating scan imaging of the Earth, it said.