TAMPA: NASA on Friday announced the first nine astronauts who will fly to space on Boeing and SpaceX vehicles in 2019, a mix of novices and space shuttle veterans.
These pioneering flights to the International Space Station aboard commercially built crew capsules will restore the American ability to send people into orbit for the first time since the US space shuttle program retired in 2011.
For the past seven years, NASA astronauts have hitched rides to the orbiting outpost on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost of some $80 million a seat.
“This is a big deal for our country and we want America to know that we are back, that we are flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine at a ceremony to announce the crew members in Houston, Texas.
An uncrewed Boeing orbital flight test is scheduled for later this year, with the first crew on board in mid-2019, NASA said.
For SpaceX, a demonstration flight with no passengers is set for November 2018, and the first manned flight set for April 2019.
Those named for the crew test flights for Starliner include NASA shuttle veterans Eric Boe and Christopher Ferguson, along with Nicole Aunapu Mann, a naval aviator who was named a NASA astronaut in 2013 and will be making her first flight to space. “It is going to be a proud moment for America,” she said.
SpaceX’s first crew tests will be manned by shuttle astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.
After that, the companies move on to actual missions. NASA “has contracted six missions, with as many as four astronauts per mission, for each company,” the agency said.
On board, Starliner’s first mission will be NASA veteran Sunita Williams, a retired Navy captain, and experienced space shuttle astronaut, and Josh Cassada, a Navy pilot making his first flight to space.
SpaceX’s first crew will include naval aviator Victor Glover, also a novice to spaceflight, and shuttle veteran Michael Hopkins. More astronauts will be announced to join the crews at a later date, NASA said.
Facebook says data breach affected 29 million users
Cyber attackers stole data from 29 million Facebook accounts using an automated program that moved from one friend to the next, Facebook Inc (FB.O) announced as the social media company said its largest-ever data theft hit fewer than the 50 million profiles it initially reported.
The company said it would message affected users over the coming days to tell them what type of information had been accessed in the attack.
The breach has left users more vulnerable to targeted phishing attacks and could deepen unease about posting to a service whose privacy, moderation and security practices have been called into question by a series of scandals, cybersecurity experts and financial analysts said.
The attackers took profile details such as birth dates, employers, education history, religious preference, types of devices used, pages followed and recent searches and location check-ins from 14 million users.
For the other 15 million users, the breach was restricted to name and contact details. In addition, attackers could see the posts and lists of friends and groups of about 400,000 users.
Lawmakers and investors have grown more concerned that Facebook is not doing enough to safeguard data. Facebook cut the number of affected users from its original estimate after investigators reviewed activity on accounts that may have been affected. Still, cybersecurity experts warned that attackers could use stolen information in targeted phishing scams.
Facebook said it was continuing to investigate whether the attackers took actions beyond stealing data, such as posting from accounts but had not found additional misuse. Hackers did not steal personal messages or financial data and did not use their access to accounts to access users’ accounts on other websites, Facebook said.
Jetliner lands in the US after world’s longest flight
NEW YORK: An Airbus jetliner arrived in Newark on Friday after a nearly 18-hour trip from Singapore, completing the world’s longest commercial flight.
It marked the revival of a route that had been eliminated in 2013. Singapore Airlines Flight SQ22 arrived at 5:29 am (0929 GMT), having left Singapore’s Changi airport at 11:23 pm, the Newark Liberty International Airport website said. That made for a flight of 17 hours and 52 minutes. The flight had been scheduled to take 18 hours and 25 minutes.
The plane was carrying 150 passengers and 17 crew members as it traveled 10,250 miles (16,500 kilometers). “I feel perfectly well rested,” said Kristopher Alladin, a 37-year-old Canadian. “I’m lucky because I’m able to sleep on the plane.” Flying from New York to Singapore would be a longer journey, lasting an estimated 18 hours and 45 minutes. The first flight in that direction took off from Newark at 11:10 am Friday.
Singapore Airlines only offers premium economy and business seats on the flight – no regular economy seats. “Although you’re in premium eco, you feel like you’re in first class,” said Alladin, adding that he had taken the same flight in 2008. “The flight was very smooth, very quiet.”
Air India jet hits wall on takeoff
NEW DELHI: Air India today grounded two pilots after one of its jets carrying 136 people hit an airport perimeter wall on takeoff and then flew for almost four hours with a damaged body, officials said.
The Boeing 737 suffered the damage as it left Trichy in southern India bound for Dubai. Officials at the airport in Tamil Nadu state “observed that aircraft might have come in contact with the airport perimeter wall,” said an Air India statement.
“The matter was conveyed to the pilot in command. The pilot in command reported that the aircraft systems were operating normally. It was decided to divert the aircraft to Mumbai as a precautionary measure.”
The jet landed in Mumbai four hours later and pictures of the damaged aircraft went viral on social media soon after it landed safely. The 130 passengers were moved to a new flight to Dubai.