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• One of the US’ aircraft carriers will spend the next two years in dry dock for some maintenance and state-of-the-art upgrades.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the USS George HW Bush arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth on Thursday. It’ll spend the next 28 months at the public shipyard.

During that period the carrier will upgraded with 3D printing technology. It will also get exoskeleton suits and training models using virtual reality.

The Bush became part of the US Navy’s fleet in 2009. The 100,000-tonne ship is the last of the previous generation of aircraft carriers in the Nimitz class. The newest generation is the Ford class, which already includes the USS Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier.

• The first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates will blast off into space on Sept 25 on a trip to the International Space Station, authorities announced on Monday.

Either military pilot Hazza al-Mansoori or engineer Sultan al-Neyadi will be the first Emirati in space, part of an ambitious space programme for this Gulf Arab nation home to the world’s tallest building and the busiest airport for international travel.

But the two men, selected from over 4,000 applicants, say they aren’t worried after the recent failure of another Russian rocket carrying astronauts to the space station.

“After the incident we were more confident with the preparedness of the mission,” al-Mansoori told The Associated Press. “In case of any failure there is equipment onboard the rocket to ensure the safety of the crew, which made us more confident that the system works with a high level of adequacy.”

That incident happened Oct 11, which saw a Soyuz-FG rocket carrying US astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin fail shortly after launch due to a damaged sensor. The two men landed safely in Kazakhstan.

“The astronauts who were involved will go into space soon,” al-Neyadi said. “This shows how safe the Soyuz is, that astronauts are able to survive in case of any accident.”

Both men have undergone intensive training at the Star City space centre outside of Moscow, which included pressure chamber tests, centrifuge tests, parabolic flight training, and winter survival training. Parabolic flights allow astronauts to train for being weightless in space.

“Since I’m a pilot, I was able to withstand a gravitational force of 9-G,” al-Mansoori said. “Now I must train in this sort of gravitational force, 0-G, the lack of gravity.”


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