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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Of test runs and alien tech

September 20, 2022 at 4:59 a.m.

NASA is trying very hard to get those three dummies into lunar orbit.

Its third attempt to launch the 30- story-tall Artemis I rocket for a trial lunar shot is set for Sept. 27.

"Technical difficulties" have prevented each of the first two attempts from lifting off, but NASA officials are confident they've worked out all the kinks.

On board will be three mannequins, which will test the radiation affects of a return entry planned to be the hottest (5,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and fastest (32 times the speed of sound) ever.

A stuffed Snoopy will go along for the ride as a zero-gravity indicator.

NASA says future Artemis flights will take a four-person human crew on the same flight path in 2024 and then send the first woman and person of color to the moon's surface within the following two years.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told the BBC the Artemis flights are designed to teach us how to survive in a hostile environment and prepare us for going to Mars. Artemis 3 will land on the moon's south pole in search of water, which Mr. Nelson said would translate to rocket fuel and ultimately, a "gas station" on the moon.

Meanwhile, things are heating up down on the Earth's inner frontier.

Scientist Avi Loeb of the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics believes meteor fragments on the floor of the South Pacific likely came from another solar system and could be technological in nature. He's planning an expedition to examine the potentially interstellar debris, NPR reports.

The tiny meteor in question entered the atmosphere in 2014 at more than 100,000 mph and exploded into fragments over the South Pacific. The scientific community is in general agreement that the meteor could be interstellar, and that includes scientists at U.S. Space Command. If confirmed, the meteor would represent the first known interstellar object to impact the planet.

Tell that to the folks in and around Roswell, N.M.

Professor Loeb believes the meteor was traveling too fast to be a typical meteor bound for the sun, and the effort required to retrieve it a worthwhile endeavor. In response to critics, the professor describes his work as interstellar archaeology.

"My point is, if a cave dweller were to find a cellphone, the cave dweller would argue the cellphone is a rock of a type that we've never seen before," he said.

We eagerly await the inevitable Discovery/National Geographic production and wish Professor Loeb the best of luck.

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