SpaceX's astronaut-riding Dragon arrives at space station

SpaceX Falcon 9lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 30, 2020 . (AP)
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Updated 31 May 2020

SpaceX's astronaut-riding Dragon arrives at space station

  • The docking occurred just 19 hours after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Saturday
  • NASA has yet to decide how long Hurley and Behnken will spend at the space station, somewhere between one and four months

CAPE CANAVERAL: SpaceX delivered two astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA on Sunday, following up a historic liftoff with an equally smooth docking in yet another first for Elon Musk’s company.
With test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken poised to take over manual control if necessary, the SpaceX Dragon capsule pulled up to the station and docked automatically, no assistance needed.
It was the first time a privately built and owned spacecraft carried astronauts to the orbiting lab in its nearly 20 years. NASA considers this the opening volley in a business revolution encircling Earth and eventually stretching to the moon and Mars.
The docking occurred just 19 hours after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off Saturday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center, the nation’s first astronaut launch to orbit from home soil in nearly a decade.
Thousands jammed surrounding beaches, bridges and towns to watch as SpaceX became the world’s first private company to send astronauts into orbit, and ended a nine-year launch drought for NASA.
A few hours before docking, the Dragon riders reported that the capsule was performing beautifully. Just in case, they slipped back into their pressurized launch suits and helmets for the rendezvous.
The three space station residents kept cameras trained on the incoming capsule for the benefit of flight controllers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Gleaming white in the sunlight, the Dragon was easily visible from a few miles out, its nose cone open and exposing its docking hook as well as a blinking light. The capsule loomed ever larger on live NASA TV as it closed the gap.
Hurley and Behnken took over the controls and did a little piloting less than a couple hundred yards (meters) out as part of the test flight, before putting it back into automatic for the final approach. Hurley said the capsule handled “really well, very crisp.”
SpaceX and NASA officials had held off on any celebrations until after Sunday morning’s docking — and possibly not until the two astronauts are back on Earth sometime this summer.
NASA has yet to decide how long Hurley and Behnken will spend at the space station, somewhere between one and four months. While they’re there, the Dragon test pilots will join the one US and two Russian station residents in performing experiments and possibly spacewalks to install fresh station batteries.
In a show-and-tell earlier Sunday, the astronauts gave a quick tour of the Dragon’s sparkling clean insides, quite spacious for a capsule. They said the liftoff was pretty bumpy and dynamic, nothing the simulators could have mimicked.
The blue sequined dinosaur accompanying them — their young sons’ toy, named Tremor — was also in good shape, Behnken assured viewers. Tremor was going to join Earthy, a plush globe delivered to the space station on last year’s test flight of a crew-less crew Dragon. Behnken said both toys would return to Earth with them at mission’s end.
An old-style capsule splashdown is planned.
After liftoff, Musk told reporters that the capsule’s return will be more dangerous in some ways than its launch. Even so, getting the two astronauts safely to orbit and then the space station had everyone breathing huge sighs of relief.
As always, Musk was looking ahead.
“This is hopefully the first step on a journey toward a civilization on Mars,” he said Saturday evening.


‘Just shut up, man’ - Biden and Trump trade personal insults in first presidential debate

Updated 28 min 14 sec ago

‘Just shut up, man’ - Biden and Trump trade personal insults in first presidential debate

  • Biden called the president a ‘clown,’ ‘racist,’  and ‘a liar’
  • Trump attacked Biden as a puppet in the hands of the radical left

NEW YORK: It was more of a brawl than a debate. President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden faced off in a series of heated cross-talks and putdowns. 

Each sought to undermine the other’s personality and fitness to lead.

They both denigrated the intelligence of their rival, with Trump repeatedly attacking Biden as a puppet in the hands of the radical left, which he claimed is trying to steal the election. 

Biden called the president a “clown,” “racist,”  and “a liar.”

“I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar,” he said.

 

(AFP)

The clashes marked a new low in American presidential debates: never, in recent memory, have so many personal insults been exchanged between two candidates on national television. 

The debate was the first chance for voters to compare the candidates side by side as they sparred for 90 minutes. 

Moderator Chris Wallace was left exasperated at times, as he tried to rein the rivals in, get them to observe speaking times, and put a stop to the constant interruptions.

At one point, the Fox News anchor had to raise his voice and ask the president to let his opponent finish his sentence. 

Biden called Trump “the worst president America has ever had,” and he repeatedly told the president to “just shut up, man.”

 

(AFP)

Biden claimed that more people would die from the coronavirus pandemic unless Trump got “a lot smarter.”

Mocking Biden’s college class rank, Trump said: “Did you use the word ‘smart’? Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me.”

The debate took place at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. With five weeks to go until the election, there were heated clashes over Trump’s handling of the pandemic, the Supreme Court nomination, the future of the nation’s health care, and the integrity of the election. 

(AFP)

Biden blamed the US COVID-19 death toll on Trump. He looked into the camera and asked: “How many of you got up this morning and had an empty chair at the table because someone died of COVID-19?”

“You could never have done the job we’ve done,” Trump responded. “You don’t have it in your blood.”

The two candidates’ families were present, socially distanced and some wearing masks. 

Things became even more heated when the topic of race and law-and-order was breached.

Biden accused Trump of stoking racial divisions.

“He’s just a racist. This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racial hatred, racial division.”

When asked by the debate moderator if he would denounce white supremacists and paramilitary groups, the president replied: “What do you want me to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name.”

(AFP)

Biden interjected with “Proud Boys,” referring to the far-right violent group. Trump did not condemn the hate group, but said instead “Proud Boys, stand back, stand by.” 

The Proud Boys celebrated online the president’s refusal to denounce white supremacy and the fact that he mentioned them.

They immediately shared a logo emblazoned with the phrase: “stand back and stand by.” 

Biden later tweeted an image of the Proud Boys praising the president’s remarks and wrote: “This is Donald Trump’s America.” 

For its part, Biden’s campaign began selling T-shirts with the phrase: “Shut Up Man.” 

(AFP)

Trump went after the former vice-president’s son Hunter Biden and accused him of profiting in China while his father was vice-president. 

“China ate your lunch, Joe. And no wonder your son goes there and takes out billions of dollars.”

He also accused Hunter Biden of receiving more than $3 million from a Russian billionaire. 

Days after he refused to commit to conceding the election if he loses, Trump repeated that he expected the large number of mail ballots due to the pandemic would result in a massive fraud. 

“This is going to be fraud like you’ve never seen,” Trump said. “We might not know for months because these ballots are going to be all over.” 

(AFP)

Mr Biden looked into the camera and told voters they hold in their own hands the power to vote the president out. “If we get the votes, it’s going to be over. He can’t stay in power.”

The second of the three presidential debates is slated for Oct. 15. 

The first vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will take place on Oct. 7.