SpaceX: What Is That Weird Light In The Night Sky? Why You Are Seeing Strange Things After Sunset This Month

You saw a strange light in the sky today just after sunset? Then a string of bright lights moving across the sky that looked like alien spaceships coming into land.

Something bright and white moved across the sky for a few minutes then something glinted in the northern sky for a few seconds. What’s going on?

It’s not aliens. What you—and million of others—keep seeing and getting slightly confused by can look spectacular, but they can also be explained by one of three things, two of which can only be seen so clearly this month and next.

In short, the conditions are perfect for UFO-spotting season!

Here’s everything you need to know about the many strange-looking bright lights in the sky just after sunset:

1. It’s a train of newly-launched SpaceX Starlink satellites

Have you see a “train” of lights in the sky? It’s an incredible sight to see, but one that’s only visible when conditions are right.

What you’re seeing is sunlight reflected off a chain of satellites recently launched by SpaceX. Called Starlink, it’s set to bring global broadband coverage. Batches of 60 are frequently being launched, which over the next few days gradually separate. But for those first few nights they can appear super-bright if seen in the hour after sunset.

And one batch (batch 28) was scheduled to launch this week … so eyes to the sky!

So why haven’t you noticed them before? If you live in the northern hemisphere then conditions are now perfect for seeing newly-launched satellites in the few hours after sunset and before sunrise. That’s because the Sun doesn’t dip all that far below the horizon at this time of year, so satellites in orbit glint more often, and for longer, as they they catch the Sun.

As Starlinks spend more time in orbit they separate from each other and raise their orbits, becoming virtually invisible. Though if you spend some time outside and let your eyes adjust to the darkness you can see older “trains” of Starlinks and many other satellites besides.

You can get also predictions for visible SpaceX Starlink from the Heavens-Above website and also from the Find Starlink website and smartphone app.

2. It’s the planet Venus, which is rising

Earth’s sister planet is back—and very bright. May 2021 saw the return of Venus to the post-sunset night sky after six months in the morning sky. It’s the beginning of a new apparition that will last for the remainder of 2021 and see Venus as the third brightest object in the sky, dimmer only than the Moon and the Sun.

Hence it’s nickname “Evening Star” for when it can be seen in the west after dark.

Many will see a bright “star” in the west about an hour after sunset because it’s low enough in the sky to be in the direct line of sight for drivers, and even those in the backyard getting the laundry in (anecdotally a common time to see bright things in the sky!).

3. It’s a space station or a satellite

For the same reasons that Starlink satellites are bright at the moment so are satellites of all kinds—and none more so than the International Space Station (ISS). Super-bright and crossing the sky as a bright, white constant light in up to seven minutes, the ISS is a spectacular sight.

Find the next pass over your location on NASA’s Spot The Station website and sign-up for a daily email.

The first module of what will be the Chinese Space Station (CSS), Tianhe is now in orbit about 230 miles/370 km up. Launched in May, Heavens-Above.com now has a special page listing predicted sightings of Tianhe-1 under “satellites” on its home page, though it’s not as bright as the ISS.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

Source: SpaceX: What Is That Weird Light In The Night Sky? Why You Are Seeing Strange Things After Sunset This Month

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Scientists Probe Huge Crater On ‘Psyche,’ The Massive Metal Asteroid Worth More Than Our Global Economy

Does a massive crater on a weird-looking asteroid give us a way to deflect incoming asteroids?

A NASA spacecraft will depart this August on a mission to explore a metal-rich asteroid called 16 Psyche—speculated to be a highly valuable object—in an effort to determine exactly what it’s made of.

It will be NASA’s first visit to a metallic asteroid, as opposed to a rocky or icy one, though it has been studied by the Hubble Space Telescope.

16 Psyche is strange. Shaped like a potato and about 140 miles in diameter, it’s more reflective than anything else in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. So bright, in fact, that it’s presumed to be composed largely of metal‚ specifically nickel or iron.

That’s prompted claims that it could be worth about $10,000 quadrillion (the global economy is worth about $84.5 trillion) and that it could be a high priority for asteroid-mining in future.

However, theory that 16 Psyche could be the remains of a planet that never made it—the leftovers of a planet core—makes it priceless to astronomers trying to figure how the Solar System formed.

Its exact composition will be for the NASA spacecraft to determine from orbit, but a large crater on its surface is already giving scientists clues—and could provide critical intelligence for future attempts deflect a rogue object.

Asteroid-deflection is something NASA is very interested in perfecting well in advance of aa large asteroid being spotted that’s heading straight for Earth. On October 22, 2022 NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will smash a 500kg spacecraft into binary asteroid 65803 Didymos and its moonlet Dimorphos (also called “Didymoon.”)

The idea is that by creating a “kinetic deflection” on Dimorphos it will ever so slightly change the trajectory of both objects.However, what happened on 16 Psyche was something altogether more violent.

The theory goes that something smashed into 16 Psyche a few billion years ago, creating a massive crater about four miles deep and 33 miles wide. Running for a few days on up to 3,000 cores of a Los Alamos supercomputer, a new visualization by Los Alamos National Laboratory simulates what happened in the 400 seconds after 16 Psyche was struck by something.

“This is a weirdly shaped crater, shallow and wide,” said Wendy K. Caldwell, applied mathematician/planetary scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the lead author for Los Alamos simulations of Psyche. Caldwell presented the team’s research results at the 2021 AGU Fall Meeting.

The simulations shed some light on what, exactly, 16 Psyche might be made of—rubble. Radar observations indicate the asteroid is metallic, but density measurements indicate it is porous. “In our simulations, hexagonal packing in a rubble pile gave almost perfect matches to the ratio of the depth to the diameter on Psyche,” said Caldwell. “That result was really exciting, because it’s shape, not just size, that you have to understand to determine the feasibility of potential compositions.”

The simulation shows an impactor striking Psyche modeled as a hexagonally packed rubble pile. Square packing of the rubble pile material failed to accurately reproduce the actual crater shape observed on Psyche, but hexagonal packing was a very close match. The rubble that makes-up 16 Psyche is expected to be of varying sizes and shapes.

Operating under NASA’s Discovery program, the Psyche spacecraft will lift-off atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in August this year. The tennis court-sized construction with have seven scientific instruments and two solar arrays pr provide power.

The Psyche spacecraft will then conduct a gravity-assist flyby of Mars in May 2023 before finally arriving at 16 Psyche in January 2026. NASA’s spacecraft will go into orbit of 16 Psyche and attempt to determine whether or not it is a planet core, map it and age it.

“The Psyche mission will help us understand more about the early days of the solar system and how the planets formed,” said Caldwell.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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I’m an experienced science, technology and travel journalist and stargazer writing about exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses,

Source: Scientists Probe Huge Crater On ‘Psyche,’ The Massive Metal Asteroid Worth More Than Our Global Economy

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Startup Near Space Labs Raises $13 Million To Launch More Mapping Balloons Into The Stratosphere

Growing up in Yerevan, Armenia, Rema Matevosyan and her amateur astronomer grandparents enjoyed heading outside in the middle of the night, paper map carefully marked, to observe the stars. Now as CEO of geospatial data startup Near Space Labs, her technology takes her close.

While the billionaire space race has helped spur a wave of interest in companies looking to travel, manufacture and mine off-planet, Near Space is focused a little bit closer, in the stratosphere. There, Matevosyan’s startup collects geospatial data through small autonomous robots attached to weather balloons, a contraption it calls “the Swifty,” capturing up to 1,000 square kilometers of imagery each flight from more than 60,000 feet up.

The process is cheaper—and carries a much lower carbon footprint—than flying a special plane or launching a satellite, Matevosyan says. But its data sets could prove just as valuable to insurers, governments, disaster recovery and autonomous vehicle operators alike.

“We are a very rebellious Earth-imaging company when everyone is launching satellite constellations,” Matevosyan says. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re beautiful devices. But with the rapid adoption of our product and our rapid growth wherever we’ve deployed, it speaks to the dire need for this data that we are providing.”

Now, with more than 150 flights completed, Brooklyn- and Barcelona-based Near Space is raising a $13 million Series A funding round led by Crosslink Capital, with Toyota Ventures and existing investors Leadout Capital and Wireframe Ventures joining in. The funding brings Near Space’s total funding to $16.8 million so far, and comes as the business is looking to hire more than a dozen roles to expand its customer base across the U.S. The startup plans to launch 500 flights in 2022.

After moving to Moscow to conduct funded master’s degree research in mathematics, the trilingual Matevosyan (she’s currently trying to pick up Spanish as a fourth) met cofounders Ignasi Lluch, Near Space’s CTO, and Albert Caubet, its chief engineer, while starting to earn a Ph.D. and working as a junior research fellow studying complex aerospace systems, specifically how satellites communicate with each other.

Her research took her to launches in remote parts of central Russia in December—an activity she does not recommend—and convinced her that some applications of geospatial data would be impossible to cover effectively through satellites, even with billions of dollars pouring into space tech.

Originally founded as Swiftera in late 2016, Near Space Labs was admitted to New York-based accelerator Urban-X, a five-month program operated by MINI and Urban Us that invests $100,000 in two cohorts of ten urban tech startups each year. Matevosyan abruptly relocated to Brooklyn, initially crashing on a friend’s couch, and got a working prototype running before the program’s completion.

A few months later, in June 2018, the company raised $2 million from Leadout, the VC firm founded by former Facebook executive Alison Rosenthal, Wireframe Ventures and others; it added another $1.5 million last year, with Matevosyan appearing on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for manufacturing and industry in between.

Near Space launched its first major commercial rollout in July 2020, slowed a bit by the pandemic. While Matevosyan operates out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an emerging hub for frontier tech and hardware startups, her cofounders and much of the hardware R&D is located in Barcelona. (Despite interest from Europe and Southeast Asia, especially, Matevosyan says Near Space’s immediate focus is on the U.S. market.)

The startup operates several business models, sending up Swifty platforms on a contract basis as needed for custom projects, while also launching them regularly from its own launch sites to maintain coverage for a fresh data set of geospatial data. “The idea is that we will have a global constellation of our Swifties, and then people will be subscribing to this data set and using it,” says Matevosyan.

The device itself ships in a small box; operators on the ground switch them on, attach them to the weather balloon and Near Space manages them autonomously from there. “Everybody wants to come to a launch site, which is also great for our sales, because it’s a very exciting event,” Matevosyan admits.

At new lead investor Crosslink, partner Phil Boyer says his firm was excited to back Near Space due to its familiarity with the geospatial market—it’s also backed Arturo, Descartes Labs and Enview—and the differentiation of Near Space collecting its data cheaply from the stratosphere. The potential for recurring revenue from a large market for such data, Boyer adds, meant the firm saw Near Space’s economics only improving over time. Particular growth areas of interest include real estate, disaster recovery and providing updated map information for autonomous vehicles—which helps explain Toyota’s venture arm on the cap table.

That was more than enough for the VC firm to overcome any hesitation about betting big on balloons in an age of rockets. “When you say the word ‘balloon,’ you certainly get a couple of odd looks, like, you invested a balloon company? What does that mean?” Boyer says. “But it wasn’t a huge leap of faith for us.”

Near Space is rooting for its peers in satellites and rockets, too, says Matevosyan, arguing that more activity in the category generally is good for all players. As for taking balloons seriously? “The questions drop when I show them our data,” she says.

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Source: Startup Near Space Labs Raises $13 Million To Launch More Mapping Balloons Into The Stratosphere

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Richard Branson Plans To Get To Space Before Jeff Bezos

US-ECONOMY-NYSE-VIRGIN

The “billionaire space race” just got a bit more literal Thursday, as Virgin Galactic announced that it would be opening up the flight window for its first fully crewed mission to space on July 11, and that one of its first passengers would be Richard Branson. That’s 9 days prior to Jeff Bezos’ planned launch on July 20 on a capsule from his company Blue Origin.

If everything goes as planned, Branson wouldn’t be the first billionaire to go to space, but he would be the first to go on his own company’s spacecraft. Shares of Virgin Galactic stock soared in after-hours trading, up to over $51 at the time of publication. The stock had closed down at $43.19 on Thursday.

The “Unity 22” mission, as the company has dubbed it, is part of a series of test flights Virgin Galactic is conducting before it opens up its space tourism business to paying customers. The mission’s goal, the company says, is to accomplish several things: first, to evaluate the customer experience, including the periods of weightlessness and views of Earth. Second will be to test aspects of conducting research experiments, another revenue stream for the space. Third is to ensure that the company’s training program adequately prepares customers for the experience.

Joining Branson on the flight are Beth Moses, Virgin’s chief astronaut instructor; Colin Bennett, the company’s lead operations engineer; and Sirisha Bandla, the company’s VP of researcher operations, who will be conducting a science experiment for the University of Florida.

Virgin Galactic was founded by Branson in 2005, and began publicly trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019. If July’s flight is successful, the company plans two more test flights evaluating other aspects of the experience before beginning commercial service in 2022.

“It’s one thing to have a dream of making space more accessible to all; it’s another for an incredible team to collectively turn that dream into reality,” Branson said in a statement. “As part of a remarkable crew of mission specialists, I’m honoured to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin.”

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I’m a senior editor at Forbes covering healthcare, science, and cutting edge technology.

Source: Richard Branson Plans To Get To Space Before Jeff Bezos

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Critics:

Virgin Galactic is not the only corporation pursuing suborbital spacecraft for tourism. Blue Origin is developing suborbital flights with its New Shepard spacecraft. Although initially more secretive about its plans, Jeff Bezos has said the company is developing a spacecraft that would take off and land vertically and carry three or more astronauts to the edge of space.

New Shepard has flown above the Karman line and landed in 2015 and the same vehicle was reflown to above the Karman line again in 2016. In April 2021, they completed their fifteenth test flight, with the next mission, NS 16, aiming to carry a crew as early as 20 July 2021.

On 16 September 2014, SpaceX and Boeing were awarded contracts as part of NASA’s CCtCap program to develop their Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, respectively. Both are capsule designs to bring crew to orbit, a different commercial market than that addressed by Virgin Galactic.

Now-defunct XCOR Aerospace had also worked on rocket-powered aircraft during many of the years that Virgin Galactic had; XCOR’s Lynx suborbital vehicle was under development for more than a decade, and its predecessor, the XCOR EZ-Rocket experimental rocket powered airplane did actually take flight, but the company closed its doors in 2017.

See also

 

This 29 Year Old Cancer Survivor Will Be The Youngest American Woman In Space

This year, the once-restricted world of space travel is about to open up in a way the nation has never seen, and a 29-year-old woman will help usher in that change.

Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, was the first person selected last week to participate in the country’s first commercial spaceflight, scheduled to take off in the fall from Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX rocket bound for Earth’s orbit.

The crew will all be non-astronauts, led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, who bought the flight from SpaceX in January and set aside two seats for St. Jude. Arceneaux, who was treated at St. Jude for bone cancer when she was 10, will join Isaacman and two other passengers who have not yet been announced on the flight. One will be a sweepstakes winner as part of a campaign to raise $200 million in donations for St. Jude.

Isaacman had previously said he wanted to give the seat to a frontline health care worker and someone who was a cancer survivor. Arceneaux, who started working at the hospital early last year with children who have leukemia and lymphoma, got an out-of-the-blue call in early January asking if she’d take the first seat.

“Yes! Please!” she replied, before agreeing to ask her mom first.

“[My mom], Colleen, is a tough lady, she has been through a lot. And I love to travel, I love going to new places, and so while this was so surprising to hear, at the same time, it kind of fit,” Arceneaux told The 19th. “When I told her about this, she was in total agreement that I couldn’t pass it up.”

With that “yes,” Arceneaux also agreed to shatter some existing limitations in the rapidly expanding industry of space travel.

Under current NASA medical guidelines, Arceneaux would have not been able to participate in the mission: She has an artificial joint in her leg and a titanium rod in her left thigh bone stemming from her treatment. She spent a year undergoing intensive chemotherapy and surgery to remove a lump that had formed on her left knee. She had to learn to walk again.

Astronauts undergo stringent physical tests to qualify for flight, and a prosthesis would have disqualified her for a mission if it weren’t for the commercial nature of the flight. Women were initially excluded from spaceflight because of assumptions around physical fitness and gendered expectations.

Although space is becoming more diverse — about half of the new astronaut class is made up of women — just 40 years ago, American women hadn’t flown to space at all. Even now, only about 12 percent of all the astronauts in the world who have been to space have been women; SpaceX, for example, has only launched one woman since it started operating missions last year.

Arceneaux would be the youngest American to go to space, as well as the first pediatric cancer patient. She will also be among the first civilian American women to reach space, following Anousheh Ansari, who flew to the ISS in 2006. Beth Moses, who flew on a suborbital flight in 2019 and is considered by some to have been a civilian when she flew, is a professional commercial astronaut. Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian woman selected to go to space, tragically died shortly after take-off in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion that claimed seven lives in 1986.

“Women belong in space … I’m not going to be the last,” Arceneaux said. “And I am incredibly excited to represent women, and then represent those who aren’t physically perfect.”

Arceneaux’s experience at St. Jude — where she grew up playing pranks on staff and organizing dance recitals — marked her in such a way that she declared early on that she wanted to work there. In the years since, the occupations changed. Maybe she’d be a doctor, a nurse, or maybe a researcher, a fundraiser, a dietician. She eventually landed on physician assistant.

Arceneaux at St. Jude. (Photos courtesy of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis)

Since finding out about the flight, Arceneaux has become quite popular with patients who want to hear about her mission. She has already been to SpaceX’s California headquarters a few times, and she’ll be in Florida to watch a launch later this spring before her own takes off. She also has plenty of preparations ahead: centrifuge training to prepare for G-force, simulations in the capsule and learning the principles of orbital mechanics.

She will also serve as the chief medical officer on the mission.

Arceneaux will be in space about three to four days circling Earth before splashing down off the Florida coast.

She said she’s most excited about serving as a beacon of hope for other cancer patients who often don’t see themselves represented in historic milestones. The mission is aptly named “Inspiration4.”

Just recently, a mother and daughter approached Arceneaux at St. Jude and asked if she was the Hayley they’d heard about who was going to space. The little girl had just had a difficult night and she confided in Arceneaux that she was discouraged because she couldn’t run or jump.

Arceneaux perked up. “I can’t run or jump, either, but it’s not stopping me from going in space,” she told her.

“I hope that that shows them to not limit themselves,” Arceneaux said, “because they really can do more than they even imagine.”

As Arceneaux prepares for the mission, her family is excited to see her take on the responsibility. Her brother and sister-in-law are both aerospace engineers in Alabama, and they’ve helped reassure her about the safety of the flight. Her dad, too, instilled a big love of space in Arceneaux when she was a kid, encouraging her to watch space movies like “Apollo 13” and visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which she did when she was younger.

She has a photo with her parents and brother in front of a green screen floating in what appears to be the inside of the International Space Station. It won’t be too different from what Arceneaux will do from orbit inside SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.

Ahead of the flight, she is also preparing to take something into space with her that holds some significance for her family. Three years ago, Arceneaux’s father, Howard, died of kidney cancer. She said whatever she decides to take, it’ll be to honor him.

Chabeli Carrazana portrait

 

 

Source: This 29-year-old cancer survivor will be the youngest American woman in space

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Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old cancer survivor who has been selected as the second civilian member of the SpaceX Inspiration 4 crew, joins TODAY for her first official interview as a civilian astronaut. “It came out of the blue,” she says. “Immediately I said ‘yes, put my name down.’” » Watch TODAY All Day: http://www.youtube.com/today » Subscribe to TODAY: http://on.today.com/SubscribeToTODAY » Watch the latest from TODAY: http://bit.ly/LatestTODAY
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An Indian American Women In Space | Menti Quiz | Chapter Discussion | Unacademy 6th | Sonam Sudan
http://www.youtube.com – February 8
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National History Day: A Partnership Between the David & Lorraine Cheng Library and the Paterson Public Schools – A Tale of Three High Schools –
teachingsocialstudies.org – January 30
[…] Many of the students chose to research topics like; The first African-American Women in Space, Jackie Robinson, President Barack Obama, the civil rights sit-ins, the 21st Amendment, In vitr […]
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What to expect from Future Human’s virtual sci-tech experience
http://www.siliconrepublic.com – October 15, 2020
[…] open and close with visits to space, starting with former NASA astronaut and one of the first black American women in space, Joan Higginbotham, in conversation with author and science communicator Dr Niamh Shaw […]
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Netflix’s Away and the working mother
http://www.syfy.com – September 19, 2020
[…] Showrunners Andrew Hinderaker and Jessica Goldberg drew from the history of American women in space while researching for the project and depiction of Emma’s role — both as an astronaut and a leader […]
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How Sally Ride blazed a trail for women in space
[…] There have been other American women in space, however—more than 40 of them—and in 2019, American astronauts completed a historic all-woma […]
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Who Will the Famous Astronauts of the 21st Century Be?
http://www.theatlantic.com – March 2, 2020
[…] After spending 328 days living on the International Space Station, Koch had set a new record for American women in space […]
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Future Human announces diversity ticket bursary with Amazon Web Services
http://www.siliconrepublic.com – January 30, 2020
[…] already announced include engineer and former astronaut Joan Higginbotham, one of the first black American women in space; Brittany Kaiser, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who rose to fame in Netflix’ […]
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World Questions with Julia Gillard and Hillary Rodham Clinton | Feature from King’s College London
http://www.kcl.ac.uk – November 16, 2019
[…] increased as there are more women running now, continuing to say that “when I  ran, there were more American women in space than running for President […]
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Clinton Book Honors Gen-Z Activists Like Greta Thunberg
http://www.refinery29.com – October 24, 2019
[…] am pleased that we had so many women running this time, because when I ran in 2016 there were more American women in space — two — than there were running for president […]
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Luisa Dörr
luisadorr.com – August 19, 2018
[…] From Serena Williams to Oprah to the First American women in space, this visual package reveals why these are the most significant women of our time whom have broke […]
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Emily Lakdawalla’s Recommended Kids’ Space Books | The Planetary Society
http://www.planetary.org – August 2, 2018
[…] of the book (covering the Mercury Thirteen, the four women cosmonauts, and the beginning of American women in space) are pretty depressing for their stories of barriers and blatant sexism […] (If your kid throws it down in disgust after 20 pages, tell them to skip to page 73; the chapter on American women in space starts out depressing but things improve from there […]
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List of female astronauts – Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org – June 1, 2018
[…] A span of one year separated the first and second American women in space […]
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NASA’s Early Stand on Women Astronauts: “No Present Plans to Include Women on Space Flights”
airandspace.si.edu – March 17, 2016
[…] (After Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space in 1963, the idea of including American women in space flights was dismissed as a political stunt […]
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NASA’s Early Stand on Women Astronauts: “No Present Plans to Include Women on Space Flights”
airandspace.si.edu – March 17, 2016
[…] (After Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space in 1963, the idea of including American women in space flights was dismissed as a political stunt […]
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List of female spacefarers – Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org – January 4, 2008
[…] A span of one year separated the first and second American women in space, as well as the first and second Chinese women in space, taking place on consecutive missions […]
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