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SpaceX to write the next chapter in human space flight


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This week American astronauts are scheduled to take off from US soil for the first time since 2011. The first SpaceX Crew Dragon launch carrying people into space is scheduled for May 27th.

This historic launch is a huge milestone for spaceflight. Not only is it the first time Americans have launched from the US since the shuttle retired, but it’s the first time a private company has launched people to the International Space Station.

It takes a lot of work to design, build, and certify a human launch vehicle. The iconic Space Shuttle was proposed in 1969 and the design was approved in 1972. The five completed shuttle orbiters were in operation from 1981 to 2011 and completed over 1300 days in space. When it was retired, the United States lost its ability to send astronauts into space and have been relying on Russia to send crew members to the ISS. 

SpaceX has been developing rockets since 2002 and has had its shares of ups and downs. The company’s first launches failed and they would have gone bankrupt in 2008 had they not succeeded on their fourth mission. Since then, they have been the first private company to launch a liquid propelled rocket into orbit (2008), recover a spacecraft (2010), send a spacecraft to the ISS (2012), and land a rocket back on Earth (2017). 

Now they aim to be the first private company to launch humans into orbit. 


The Crew Dragon capsule that will bring astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into space to dock with the ISS is currently sitting on Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX has been developing the Dragon 2 capsule for several years under the NASA Commercial Space program. While the program has made tremendous progress, it has also had its setbacks. On April 20, 2019, the Crew Dragon demo capsule exploded while on the test stand. 

If successful, this mission will pave the way for the privatization of space activities. I’ve written previously about the opportunities for Alberta in space. As more people start to visit space, rockets will need more fuel to move around. This fuel can be made from ice deposits on the Moon – our Alberta Oil Sands projects possess the technology to extract, process, and store water to use in rocket fuel. 

We are about to enter a new era of spaceflight that will drive innovation. Alberta is fully capable to contribute to and participate in the opportunities that will arise from this new era. 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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Bail hearing set for Alberta man accused of sexually assaulting five women

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A rural property is seen near Langdon, Alta., Monday, April 10, 2023. A bail hearing for a man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting women in Calgary’s sex trade will be held later this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh


A bail hearing for a man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting women in Calgary’s sex trade is to be held later this month after two more complainants came forward.

Richard Robert Mantha, who is 59, faces two new charges of sexual assault and two additional charges of administering a noxious substance.

They are in addition to 13 offences he faces in relation to three women, including sexual assault causing bodily harm.

Mantha appeared in court and a bail hearing was scheduled for May 26.

Police say the women allege they were approached by a man, then drugged and taken to a rural property, where they were physically and sexually assaulted.

Mantha was charged after officers cordoned off a property east of Calgary and brought in cadaver dogs, but police said at the time that no bodies were found.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2023.

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‘A man lost his life’: Youth to receive adult sentence in officer’s hit-and-run death

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Sgt. Andrew Harnett of the Calgary Police Service is shown in an undated handout image provided by the police service. An Alberta judge ruled that a young man convicted of manslaughter in the hit-and-run death of Sgt. Harnett will face an adult sentence. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Calgary Police Service

By Bill Graveland in Calgary

A young man convicted of manslaughter in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary police officer will face an adult sentence, an Alberta judge ruled Wednesday.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett died after being dragged by an SUV, then falling into the path of an oncoming car on Dec. 31, 2020.

The offender, who is now 20, was days away from turning 18 when Harnett died and was driving the vehicle when it took off from a routine traffic stop with the officer holding on to the wheel and trying to get him to stop.

He testified during his trial that he was scared when Harnett and another officer approached the vehicle during a traffic stop and he saw Harnett put his hand on his gun.

Court of King’s Bench Justice Anna Loparco found the young man not guilty of first-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter last year.

The Crown wants the 20-year-old to serve between 11 and 13 years in prison.

Loparco said the offender had shown maturity, even when committing the offence, and was living on his own.

“I find that on the whole he demonstrated traits more aligned with an adult than a young person,” Loparco said.

“He did not return to the family home following his flight from police. Rather, he went to his own suite and monitored the situation on social media. When he discovered Sgt. Harnett had died, he did not involve his family.”

Loparco rejected defence arguments that the actions were largely impulsive and said the objective of the court is to hold the individual, who as the driver was taking a lead role, accountable.

“He reached speeds of 80 to 90 kilometres an hour. He also intentionally engaged in a variety of manoeuvres aimed at dislodging Sgt. Harnett from the car,” Loparco told the court.

“The consequential harm done was immense. A man lost his life, a family lost a husband and soon-to-be father, brother and son. A wide circle lost a friend. Society lost a police officer who exemplified professional conduct.”

Loparco said she doubted the genuineness of the young man’s expressed remorse and added his recounting of the events “deflects blame and minimizes his role.” She said he is also considered to be a high risk to reoffend.

The judge said although he may need counselling and support, that can’t be offered with a three-year youth sentence.

“In my view, a maximum youth sentence, even without credit for any pretrial custody, would not be of sufficient length to hold (the offender) accountable for his offending behaviour,” she said.

“This court shall, therefore, impose an adult sentence.”

Loparco is to hear final arguments on sentencing from both lawyers May 31.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2023.

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