Woman Astronaut In Space Station Corrects Trump During Live Call: Report

US President Donald Trump was humiliated for a mistake while he contacted NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch at the International Space Station (ISS) to congratulate them for being the "first ever female spacewalkers", a media report said.

A delay in connection between Trump and the space station made for a short period of silence, before Meir made it clear that she and Koch were not the first female spacewalker, The Daily Express said in the report on Monday.

In 1984, Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya became the first woman to complete a spacewalk. In the 35 years since, a total of 15 women have spacewalked.

Koch, an electrical engineer, and Meir, who has a doctorate in marine biology, stepped outside in their NASA space suits on Friday night.

The mistake came as Trump sat at a table in the White House with his daughter Ivanka Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as few NASA officials and a group of Girl Scouts in the background.

Staring at the camera, Trump said: "This is the first time for a woman outside of the space station."

"You are amazing people; they're conducting the first ever female spacewalk to replace an exterior part of the space station. They're doing some work, and they're doing it in a very high altitude - an altitude that very few people will ever see."

But Meir could then be heard correcting the President, explaining that the event marked the first time two women had been outside the spacecraft at the same time.

She said: "We don't want to take too much credit because there have been many other female spacewalkers before. This is the first time that there's been two women outside at the same time."

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NASA's First All-Female Spacewalk Makes History

Washington: US astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir became the first all-female pairing to carry out a spacewalk Friday, following a spacesuit flub earlier this year that caused the historic mission to be aborted.

"Christina, you may egress the airlock," spacecraft communicator Stephanie Wilson told the pair shortly after they set out to replace a power controller on the International Space Station at 1138 GMT.

They began their mission making standard safety checks on their suits and tethers, before making their way to the repair site.

In a call to reporters a few minutes earlier, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine emphasized its symbolic importance.

"We want to make sure that space is available to all people, and this is another milestone in that evolution. 

"I have an 11-year-old daughter, I want her to see herself as having all the same opportunities that I found myself as having when I was growing up."

The first such mission was supposed to take place in March but was canceled because the space agency had only one medium-sized suit, with a male-female combination performing the required task at a later date.

Traditionally male-dominated NASA's failure to be adequately prepared was denounced in some quarters as evidence of implicit sexism.

Koch, an electrical engineer, was leading Meir, who holds a doctorate in marine biology and is making her first ever spacewalk.

The two were working to replace a faulty battery charge/discharge unit, known as a BCDU.

The station relies on solar power but is out of direct sunlight for much of its orbit and therefore needs batteries, and the BCDUs regulate the amount of charge that goes into them.

The current task was announced Monday and is part of a wider mission of replacing aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with higher capacity lithium-ion units.

The US sent its first female astronaut into space in 1983, when Sally Ride took part in the seventh Space Shuttle mission, and has now had more women astronauts than any other country.

But the first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, followed by compatriot Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982, who was also the first woman spacewalker two years later.

The spacewalk comes as NASA plans to return to the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis mission, named for the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology. 

The mission will see the first woman to set foot on the lunar surface, possibly as part of an all-woman team.

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‘Pluto is a planet’: NASA official risks sparking science civil war with controversial declaration

One brave NASA administrator is refusing to bow to the prevailing scientific consensus, and is risking potential ostracization or, worse still, online ridicule, for proudly declaring that “Pluto is a planet.”

Saturday, August 24, 2019 marked 13 years to the day since Pluto was demoted from having the status of a planet to being assigned that of a dwarf planet, by the International Astronomical Union (our solar system’s resident’s association of scientific fuddy-duddies). 

But now, in what history may record as either a brave call to arms, beseeching the scientific community to band together against the tyranny of the IAU or, more likely, an off-the-cuff, likely tongue-in-cheek remark, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine had declared his unwavering belief that Pluto is indeed a planet. “I’m sticking by that, it’s the way I learned it and I’m committed to it,” Bridenstine boldly declared.

@CReppWx My favorite soundbyte of the day that probably won't make it to TV. It came from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. As a Pluto Supporter, I really appreciated this. #9wx#PlutoLoversRejoice @JimBridenstine

Regardless of how his comments were intended, there are still members of the scientific community fighting the good fight to restore Pluto to full planetary status and renew its membership in the Solar System Planet Club.

Pluto was originally demoted as it had not cleared its planetary neighborhood (the Kuiper belt) of cosmic debris, angering the uptight Galactic Residents’ Association back on Earth.

Also on rt.com NASA celebrates anniversary of Pluto mission with stunning flyover movie (VIDEO)...

There was also a certain degree of NIMBY-ism behind the decision: astronomers had discovered multiple objects in our solar system that were indeed larger than Pluto (including Eris). Does this mean that these should all be declared planets? This could set up a slippery slope for chain migration by unscrupulous dwarf planets trying to force their way into the solar system’s exclusive planetary club, making a mockery of the IAU’s byzantine rules and regulations. 

Proponents of the restoration of Pluto’s planetary status point to its multilayered atmosphere, the presence of organic compounds on its surface, the fact that it has weather, avalanches, plutoquakes and possibly even liquid oceans, in addition to its own moons, as more than sufficient evidence of its rightful place among the stars.

Also on rt.com Pluto may boast massive life-supporting hidden ocean and water-spewing icy volcanoes...

Bridenstine’s comments sparked an outpouring of support for Pluto on Twitter, with many weighing in to offer their backing for reinstating Pluto’s planetary status. “It’s round, has weather, has several moons, orbits the Sun. It’s a god-damned planet,” one commenter wrote. “The first crime in space was kicking Pluto out of the planet club,” another added, riffing on a news story from last week. However, many others were just immensely fatigued by the entire row.

Interestingly, Bridenstine’s position is also supported by planetary scientist Alan Stern, leader of NASA’s New Horizons mission. 

“The New Horizons project, like a growing number of the public, and many hundreds if not thousands of professional research astronomers and planetary scientists, will not recognise the IAU’s planet definition resolution of Aug. 24, 2006,” Ster wrote previously. 

The ongoing controversy famously featured in an episode of the wildly popular Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty, where one character is widely mocked and ridiculed for sharing his belief that Pluto is indeed a planet declaring that, “If it can be a planet, it can be a planet again!”

NASA Investigating First Crime Committed In Space

US Space agency NASA is investigating what may be the first crime committed in outer space, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Astronaut Anne McClain is accused of identity theft and improperly accessing her estranged wife's private financial records while on a sixth-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the Times said.

The astronaut's spouse Summer Worden filed a complaint earlier this year with the Federal Trade Commission after learning McClain had accessed her bank account without permission, while Worden's family filed another with NASA's Office of Inspector General, according to the newspaper.

McClain's lawyer said the astronaut had done nothing wrong and accessed the bank records while aboard the ISS in order to monitor the couple's combined finances -- something she had done over the course of their relationship, the Times reported.

NASA investigators have contacted both women, according to the newspaper.

McClain, who returned to Earth in June, gained fame for being one of two women picked for a historic all-female spacewalk, but NASA scrapped the planned walk in March due to a lack of well-fitting spacesuits, sparking accusations of sexism.

Worden said the FTC has not responded to the identity theft report, but that an investigator specializing in criminal cases with NASA's Office of Inspector General has been looking into the accusation, according to the Times.

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Asteroid Will Hit Earth Eventually, We Have No Defence Yet: Elon Musk

San Francisco: A huge asteroid will eventually hit the humanity and there will be no way out, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has predicted.

A monster asteroid called Apophis -- named after an Egyptian "God of Chaos" -- will come dangerously close to the Earth, about 19,000 miles (31,000 kms) above the surface.

"Great name! Wouldn't worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defence," Musk tweeted late Monday.

On April 13, 2029, a speck of light will streak across the sky, getting brighter and faster.

At one point it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute and it will get as bright as stars.

But it won't be a satellite or an airplane -- it will be a 1,100-foot-wide, near-Earth asteroid called "Apophis" that will potentially cruise harmlessly by Earth.

"The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science," said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who works on radar observations of near-Earth objects (NEOs).

"We'll observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes. With radar observations, we might be able to see surface details that are only a few meters in size," she added.

It's rare for an asteroid of this size to pass by the Earth so close.

Although scientists have spotted small asteroids, on the order of 5-10 meters, flying by Earth at a similar distance, asteroids the size of Apophis are far fewer in number and so do not pass this close to Earth as often.

The asteroid, looking like a moving star-like point of light, will first become visible to the naked eye in the night sky over the Southern Hemisphere, flying above Earth from the east coast to the west coast of Australia.

It will then cross the Indian Ocean, and by the afternoon in the eastern US, it will have crossed the equator, still moving west, above Africa.

"Current calculations show that Apophis still has a small chance of impacting Earth, less than 1 in 100,000 many decades from now, but future measurements of its position can be expected to rule out any possible impacts," said NASA recently.

Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).

"It is possible that there will be some surface changes, like small avalanches," Davide Farnocchia, an astronomer at JPL, said in the blog post.

‘Unexpected’: Hubble discovers supermassive black hole ‘that shouldn't exist’, says NASA

The Hubble space telescope has discovered a supermassive black hole 130 million light-years from Earth that scientists say “shouldn’t exist” if Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity are to be believed.

The mysterious black hole has an “unexpected” thin disk of material furiously whirling around it. The conundrum, the space agency explains, is that according to current astronomical theories, the disk shouldn’t be there. 

We’ve never seen the effects of both general and special relativity in visible light with this much clarity,” said Marco Chiaberge, a member of the team that conducted the Hubble study. Their research is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Gigantic ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ due to speed past Earth this week

A huge asteroid three times as long as a football field is set to speed by Earth on Thursday. The “potentially hazardous asteroid” is projected to whizz by our planet at over 25,400 mph (40,800 kph).

Asteroid ‘2008 KV2’ is estimated to measure 1,082 feet (330 meters) across and will be just 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers) from Earth when it flies by. 

The gigantic space rock is considered a Near Earth Object (NEO) and the center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for studying such close encounters considers 2008 KV2 to be a “potentially hazardous asteroid” because of its size and its relative proximity to our planet, passing within 0.045 astronomical units (AU) of Earth. One AU is about the distance between the Earth and the Sun. 

Also on rt.com The golden asteroid that could make everyone on Earth a billionaire...

As indicated in its name, the asteroid was first discovered in 2008 and scientists began to calculate how often to expect it to come near our planet. It orbits the Sun, like Earth, but doesn’t always get so close. It’s expected to pass Earth again in 2021.

Russian, US Astronauts Return To Earth From International Space Station

Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan: The first crew to blast off to the International Space Station following a launch accident that deepened doubts over Russia's space programme returned to earth safely on Tuesday. 

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and Canadian Space Agency record-holder David Saint-Jacques emerged from the space craft to applause from support crews, after touching down near the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan.

Live footage from the landing site broadcast on NASA television showed the three sitting in chairs smiling as they were attended to by staff ahead of a journey back to Moscow for Kononenko and Houston for McClain and Saint-Jacques.

Arriving at 0247 GMT to warm conditions, Kononenko joked that he was "happy to see any kind of weather" after coming back from space.   

The trio's launch on December 3 was the first after a Soyuz rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague failed in October just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.

They escaped unharmed but the failed launch was the first such incident in Russia's post-Soviet history and a new setback for the country's once proud space industry.       

Record-breakers and space tourism

McClain, Kononenko and Saint-Jacques had been optimistic ahead of their successful launch and remained upbeat throughout their time aboard the orbital lab which is seen as a rare example of cooperation between Russia and the West. 

"A beautiful night pass over Africa on my last night on @Space_Station," tweeted 40-year-old McClain, who completed two spacewalks during her virgin mission to the ISS.   

Fellow first-time flyer Saint-Jacques broke the record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian astronaut, previously held by Robert Thirsk. 

Thirsk clocked 187 days at the ISS in 2009 during a typical six-month mission, while 49-year-old Saint-Jacques' mission will stand at 204 days.

The record was helped along by the fact that the launch was moved forward to December 3 from December 20 for operational reasons -- possibly as a confidence booster after the accident.  

The returning trio were given a ceremonial send off Monday as they exited the ISS by Ovchinin, Hague and NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who arrived at the lab in March on a fresh mission. 

Russians dominate the rankings for cumulative days spent in space, with the Kononenko reaching 737 days.

That leaves the 55-year-old sixth in the all-time standings and just a typical ISS mission short of beating the 879-day record set by 60-year-old Roscosmos colleague Gennady Padalka in 2015. 

Since 2011, Russia is the only country to oversee manned launches to the ISS. 

But last year's failed launch, multi-billion dollar corruption scandals at Roscosmos and the emergence of private sector competitors like Elon Musk's SpaceX have combined to put into question Moscow's future dominance.

NASA said earlier this month that it will be opening the ISS up to space tourists for the first time next year with 30-day visits expedited by SpaceX and Boeing expected to cost around $58 million per person. 

Russia has flown seven tourists to the ISS but is set to increase that number beginning in 2021, according to Roscosmos, which struck a deal with American company Space Adventures earlier this year.

US businessman Dennis Tito was the first space tourist to the ISS, paying Russia around $20 million for the trip.

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