Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
NASA awarded billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the moon as early as 2024, the agency said on Friday, picking it over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc. Bezos and Musk – the world’s first and third richest people respectively, according to Forbes – were competing to lead humankind’s return to the moon for the first time since 1972.
Mars helicopter flight test promises Wright Brothers moment for NASA
NASA hopes to score a 21st-century Wright Brothers moment on Monday as it attempts to send a miniature helicopter buzzing over the surface of Mars in what would be the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. Landmark achievements in science and technology can seem humble by conventional measurements. The Wright Brothers’ first controlled flight in the world of a motor-driven airplane, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903 covered just 120 feet (37 meters) in 12 seconds.
Three astronauts return from International Space Station
Three members of the International Space Station’s crew returned safely to Earth on Saturday on a Russian Soyuz craft, Russia’s Roscosmos space agency reported. The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, a microbiologist who in 2016 became the first person to sequence DNA in space, and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov landed in Kazakhstan at 0455 GMT.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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