They are expected to arrive at the ISS eight hours later, at 09:20 GMT Sunday (2:50pm IST Sunday). The mission marks a culmination for SpaceX, setting it up to be NASA’s favoured, and so far most reliable, transportation provider as the agency waits on Boeing’s Starliner capsule, which has been held up in testing and is not expected to be ready before next year. SpaceX has been operating space station re-supplying flights with the cargo version of the Dragon since 2012. – Advertisement – “For the next 15 months, we will fly seven crew and cargo Dragon missions for NASA,” SpaceX head of crewed flights Benji Reed said during a phone call Tuesday. “That means that (from December) starting with Crew-1, there will be a continuous presence of SpaceX Dragons in orbit.”The next crewed mission is expected to blast off at the end of March 2021, carrying one European, one Japanese and two American crew members. Which is the best TV under Rs. 25,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below. – Advertisement – “I’m extremely proud to say we are returning regular human spaceflight launches to American soil on an American rocket and spacecraft,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said. Take-off is planned for 7:49pm Saturday (6:19am IST Sunday) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with American astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi on board. As of Tuesday evening, the weather outlook for Saturday was good. – Advertisement – Three NASA crew and one Japanese astronaut are set for launch aboard a SpaceX rocket Saturday, bound for the International Space Station in the program’s first six-month routine mission since the United States resumed crewed space flight in May after nine years of reliance on Russia. NASA on Tuesday officially certified as safe the Crew Dragon capsule developed for regular astronaut transportation by SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk that carried two astronauts to the ISS in May and back to Earth again in August without major incident. – Advertisement –
Bayern Munich host Benfica for the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday, aiming to leave the second leg a mere formality in reaching the club’s fifth consecutive semi-final.Confidence is high among Bayern’s players and fans of getting past the Portuguese league leader and moving another step closer to repeating the 2013 feat of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup victories.Benfica are bidding to reach the final four for the first time since 1990.”Benfica is a team that you simply have to beat,” former Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said. “I can’t imagine that Benfica can put Bayern in danger. Bayern will pass this test with flying colors.”The sides met three times before in European competition. Bayern prevailed on the three occasions. The German powerhouse has won all nine of its previous two-legged knockout ties against Portuguese opposition.Some things to know ahead of Tuesday’s game in Munich:STEP UP NEEDEDBayern survived a close shave against Juventus in the previous round on Thomas Mueller’s injury-time equalizer and two more goals in extra time to progress in dramatic fashion.The side will hope to avoid such excitement against Benfica by claiming another comprehensive quarterfinal victory over a Portuguese side at home. At the same stage last season, Bayern defeated Porto 6-1 in Munich to recover from the 3-1 loss in the first leg.Bayern seemed to be conserving energy in Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. Franck Ribery’s acrobatic scissors kick was enough to maintain the side’s five-point lead but the players will need to step up against the Portuguese league leader.advertisement”The quality won’t be enough for Tuesday,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “We’ll have to play much better. We’ll need two concentrated outings to then hopefully reach the semifinals.”GUARDIOLA’S MILESTONEPep Guardiola will be in charge for his 150th competitive game at the helm of Bayern. The Spaniard so far has overseen 115 victories, 14 draws and 20 defeats since taking over from Jupp Heynckes in 2013.Guardiola, who is leaving at the end of the season to join Manchester City, is bidding to repeat Heynckes’ feat of winning the treble in his last season in charge.Guardiola led Barcelona to 14 trophies in a hugely successful four-year spell but his tenure at Bayern will be judged on success in the Champions League, where semi-final defeats to Real Madrid and former club Barcelona represent his biggest disappointments at the club.Despite claiming back-to-back Bundesliga titles and being on the verge of leading Bayern to an unprecedented fourth successive league title, Guardiola needs to match the mark set by his predecessor to leave on a high note.BENFICA’S BOUNCEAfter a rocky start to the season under new coach Rui Vitoria, Benfica have found their form in the final third of the season.The players have finally clicked and the team has surged into lead of the Portuguese championship and its first Champions League quarterfinal in four years.Benfica overwhelmed fourth-place Braga 5-1 last Friday to keep their two-point league lead with six rounds to play though they travel to Munich as the underdog in their biggest game of the season.”We’ve got past a lot of obstacles this season. Some of them appeared impossible,” said Vitoria, who is making his debut in Europe’s top-tier tournament this season.EYES ON JONASBenfica striker Jonas is top-scorer in the Portuguese league with 30 goals in 28 games, earning him a recall to the Brazil team though he hasn’t been able to reproduce that form in the Champions League, where he has found the net just twice.Jonas’s partner in attack, Konstantinos Mitroglou, has 17 league goals but may be sacrificed in Munich if Benfica looks to strengthen its defense.Ljubomir Fejsa and Andreas Samaras could form a duo in front of the back four with Argentine playmaker Nicolas Gaitan just behind Jonas.Lisandro Lopez could be back in central defense after a thigh injury but first-choice goalkeeper Julio Cesar is out with a groin injury.