Science News Roundup: Floating like an astronaut for a day; Chinese astronauts leave space station module for Earth and more

Pilots repeat the maneuver about 15 times during the flight.On Wednesday, a SpaceX rocket blasted off from Florida carrying billionaire e-commerce executive Jared Isaacman and three other people he chose in the first all-tourist crew to orbit Earth.


Reuters | Updated: 17-09-2021 10:45 IST | Created: 17-09-2021 10:33 IST
Science News Roundup: Floating like an astronaut for a day; Chinese astronauts leave space station module for Earth and more
Representative Image Image Credit: Pixabay

Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

Floating like an astronaut for a day

As billionaire space enthusiasts blast off into space, the best most people can do is watch with envy. There is another way, however, to feel what it would be like to float in space like an astronaut at a mere $7,500 per person for a 90-minute trip. The Zero Gravity Experience allows adventurers to flip, float, somersault, and hang upside-down in the hollowed-out cabin of a Boeing 727, said Zero-G Corporation CEO Matt Gohd. When the modified G-Force One plane gets to an altitude of about 24,000 feet (7,300m), the pilots start to climb and then push the plane over the top of a parabolic arc. That leaves passengers in free fall - they feel weightless for 20 to 30 seconds until the plane descends back to 24,000 feet. Pilots repeat the maneuver about 15 times during the flight. On Wednesday, a SpaceX rocket blasted off from Florida carrying billionaire e-commerce executive Jared Isaacman and three other people he chose in the first all-tourist crew to orbit Earth. It marked the debut flight of SpaceX owner Elon Musk's new orbital tourism business. Isaacman paid an undisclosed sum to fellow billionaire Musk for the flight; Time magazine has put the ticket price for all four seats at $200 million. Rival companies Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc and Blue Origin inaugurated their own private-astronaut services this summer, but those suborbital flights lasted just minutes. Zero-G has been offering flights since 2004 and counts Virgin founder Richard Branson, Musk, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and physicist Stephen Hawking among its customers. This year, Gohd said there would be 65 to 70 flights. Amid the increased interest in space travel, Gohd expects that to rise to about 100 flights next year. "When people go up on the flight ... everybody's giggling," said Gohd about the feeling of weightlessness. "They've never felt anything like this. And they're like children again."

Chinese astronauts leave space station module for Earth

Three Chinese astronauts left a space station module on Thursday on a spacecraft bound for Earth, completing the third of more than 10 missions needed to finish China's first space station by the end of next year. The astronauts have left the Tianhe module on the Shenzhou-12 probe after spending 90 days in space, a record for China, according to state media.

Xpeng-backed startup says to deliver flying cars in 2024

Xpeng Heitech, a flying car startup backed by electric vehicle maker Xpeng Inc, said on Wednesday that it would deliver flying cars to customers in 2024. The startup, founded in 2013 and funded by Xpeng and Xpeng's Chief Executive He Xiaopeng, now employs 400 people and will expand the workforce to have 700 people by the end of this year, company's founder Zhao Deli told World New Energy Vehicle Congress.

As workers age, robots take on more jobs -study

It turns out robots are taking over jobs fastest around the world in places where their human counterparts are aging the most rapidly. That is the conclusion of a new study that looked at demographic and industry-level data in 60 countries and found a powerful link between aging workforces - defined as the ratio of workers aged 56 and older, compared with those aged 21 to 55 - and robot use, focusing in particular on industrial settings.

Russian space movie crew set for blast-off

A Russian crew of two cosmonauts and two cinema professionals is set to take off for the International Space Station (ISS) early next month to shoot the first movie in outer space, filmmakers said on Thursday. The four are scheduled to be launched on a Soyuz MS-19 craft on Oct. 5 to be delivered to the station, which orbits Earth at an altitude of around 220 miles (354 km).

Factbox-Profiles of first all-civilian space crew headed for orbit

The quartet of private citizens who make up the Inspiration4 team, poised to make history aboard a SpaceX rocket ship as the first all-civilian crew launched into orbit, may appear at first glance to be everyday people, but they are far from ordinary. They consist of a billionaire internet commerce executive and jet pilot; a geoscientist and onetime finalist in NASA's astronaut candidate program; a physician's assistant at the childhood cancer hospital where she was once a patient; and an aerospace data engineer and U.S. Air Force veteran.

First all-civilian crew launched to orbit aboard SpaceX rocket ship

A billionaire e-commerce executive and three less-wealthy private citizens chosen to join him blasted off from Florida on Wednesday aboard a SpaceX rocket ship and soared into orbit, the first all-civilian crew ever to circle the Earth from space. The quartet of amateur astronauts, led by the American founder and chief executive of financial services firm Shift4 Payments Inc, Jared Isaacman, lifted off just before sunset from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

Moroccan cave yields oldest clues about advent of human clothing

People may take the necessity and existence of clothing for granted, from shirts to pants to dresses, coats, skirts, socks, underwear, bow ties, top hats, togas, kilts and bikinis. But it all had to start somewhere. Scientists on Thursday said artifacts unearthed in a cave in Morocco dating back as far as 120,000 years ago indicate that humans were making specialized bone tools, skinning animals, and then using tools to process these skins for fur and leather.

All-civilian SpaceX crew feels only 'good kind' of jitters before launch

The four would-be citizen astronauts poised to ride a SpaceX rocket ship around the globe as the first all-civilian crew launched into orbit said on Tuesday they were eager for liftoff on the eve of their flight, feeling only "the good kind" of jitters. "I was just worried that this moment would never come in my life. Let's get going, let's do it," said Sian Proctor, 51, a geoscience professor, artist, and lifelong space enthusiast who was a 2009 finalist in NASA's astronaut candidate program before she was cut.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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