Tag Archives: Space Exploration

Candy, cheese soar to space station to satisfy crew cravings

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A cargo ship is rocketing toward the International Space Station, carrying candy and cheese to satisfy the crew’s cravings

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —
A cargo ship rocketed toward the International Space Station on Saturday, carrying candy and cheese to satisfy the astronauts’ cravings.

Northrop Grumman launched its Cygnus capsule from the Virginia seashore. The nearly 4-ton shipment should arrive at the orbiting lab Tuesday. It took three tries over the past week to get the Antares rocket off the pad, with it finally taking flight at 3:21 p.m. — an auspicious 3-2-1.

“Awesome launch,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s deputy space station program manager, said once the capsule reached orbit.

Besides the usual experiments and gear, the capsule holds cheddar and manchego cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, chocolate and three kinds of gummy candy expressly requested by the three station astronauts: Skittles, Hot Tamales, and Mike and Ike’s.

Periodic supply runs by Russia, Japan and NASA’s two private shippers, Northrop Grumman and SpaceX, usually provide more than experiments, equipment, clothes and freeze-dried meals. The capsules also bring family care packages, as well as fresh food to offset the run-of-the-mill station grub.

This latest delivery should have arrived well before Valentine’s Day. But last-minute equipment concerns at the Wallops Island launch pad halted last Sunday’s countdown for the Antares rocket, then bad weather moved in. Dangerously high wind scuttled Friday’s attempt.

This was the company’s 13th space station delivery for NASA. The Cygnus capsules get their name from the Swan Constellation.

This particular Cygnus has been christened the SS Robert H. Lawrence in honor of America’s first black astronaut. Lawrence, an Air Force major, was chosen in 1967 as an astronaut for a classified military space program known as the Manned Orbiting Laboratory. He was killed five months later in a plane crash and never flew in space.

The space station is now home for Americans Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan and Russian Oleg Skripochka. Morgan has been up there since July and the two others since September; they’ll remain on board until April. Three other astronauts returned to Earth earlier this month.

Until astronaut launches resume from Florida — possibly by SpaceX this spring — the station crew will be limited in size to three. NASA astronauts now launch on Russian rockets from Kazakhstan.

Boeing, NASA’s other commercial crew provider, is struggling with software problems in its astronaut capsule. A December test flight was marred by coding errors.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Record-setting astronaut feels good after near year in space

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NASA’s new record-setting astronaut says aside from sore muscles, she readjusting well to gravity after nearly 11 months in space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —
NASA’s new record-setting astronaut said Wednesday that aside from sore muscles and trouble with balance, she’s readjusting well to gravity after nearly 11 months in space.

Christina Koch met with reporters in Houston six days after returning to Earth from the International Space Station. Her 328-day mission — which ended last Thursday — was the longest ever by a woman.

Her neck hurt for about a day. “I felt like a 2-week-old who was actually working hard to hold up my own head,” she said.

She considers herself lucky she didn’t have the sore feet and burning skin suffered four years ago by NASA’s all-time endurance champ, Scott Kelly, whose mission lasted 340 days.

Koch returned home to Galveston, Texas, to find a kitchen full of chips and salsa, something she’d craved in orbit, along with the Gulf of Mexico. She hit the beach with her husband, Bob, and their dog, a rescue pup named LBD for Little Brown Dog, just three days after her landing in Kazakhstan.

LBD was excited to see her, and vice versa.

“I’m not sure who was more excited to see the other,” Koch said.

Their reunion was recorded. “It’s just a symbol of coming back to the people and places that you love, to see your favorite animal,” she said.

The 41-year-old Koch is an electrical engineer who also has a physics degree. She flew to the space station last March and was part of the first all-female spacewalk in October. Three astronauts remain at the orbiting lab, including the other half of the all-female spacewalk, NASA’s Jessica Meir.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Defective software could have doomed Boeing’s crew capsule

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NASA says defective software could have doomed Boeing’s crew capsule during its first test flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —
Defective software could have doomed Boeing’s crew capsule during its first test flight, a botched trip that was cut short and never made it to the International Space Station, NASA and company officials said Friday.

The Starliner capsule launched without astronauts in December, but its automatic timer was off by 11 hours, preventing the capsule from flying to the space station as planned. This software trouble — which left the capsule in the wrong orbit just after liftoff — set off a scramble to find more possible coding errors, Boeing officials said.

Hours before the Starliner’s scheduled touchdown, a second software mistake was discovered, this time involving the Starliner’s service module. Flight controllers rushed to fix the problem, which could have caused the cylinder to slam into the capsule once jettisoned during reentry.

Such an impact could have sent the Starliner into a tumble, said Jim Chilton, a senior vice president for Boeing. In addition, damage to the Starliner’s heat shield could have caused the capsule to burn up on reentry, he noted.

He also conceded they wouldn’t have found the second problem without the first.

“Nobody is more disappointed in the issues that we uncovered … than the Starliner team,” said Boeing program manager John Mulholland.

These latest findings stem from a joint investigation team formed by NASA and Boeing in the wake of the aborted test flight. The capsule returned to Earth on Dec. 22 after just two days, parachuting down to a landing in New Mexico.

The mission was supposed to be the company’s last major hurdle before launching the first Starliner crew.

NASA has yet to decide whether Boeing should conduct another test flight without a crew, before putting astronauts on board. Just in case, Boeing reported last week that it took a $410 million charge in its fourth-quarter earnings, to cover a possible mission repeat.

Douglas Loverro, head of NASA’s human exploration and operations mission directorate, said Boeing needs to check and verify all of its flight software before any decisions are made on a possible reflight. He told reporters NASA shares some of the blame for the software problems.

“Our NASA oversight was insufficient. That’s obvious and we recognize that,” he said.

The investigation team also is looking into a third problem, an intermittent space-to-ground communication problem that hampered controllers’ ability to command and manage the capsule early in the flight. Interference from cellphone towers may have exacerbated the matter, Boeing officials said.

NASA said the independent review should be completed by the end of February.

Outside of this ongoing review, NASA is taking an extensive look at Boeing’s culture, according to Loverro. He said it was prompted in part by software issues elsewhere in the company, an apparent reference to the grounded 737 Max fleet.

A second private company is on track to launch astronauts for NASA as early as this spring. SpaceX successfully completed a launch abort test last month at Cape Canaveral.

NASA astronauts have not launched from home soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, instead riding Russian rockets to get to the space station. The Soyuz seats go for tens of millions of dollars apiece.

NASA has been paying billions of dollars to Boeing and SpaceX to develop capsules capable of transporting astronauts to and from the space station. Even before Boeing’s software issues, the commercial crew flights were years behind schedule. The space agency deliberately opted for two companies for redundancy, an advantage cited repeatedly Friday by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives suppor t from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Museum of the Bible quietly replaces questioned artifact

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The Museum of the Bible in Washington quietly changed an artifact presupposed to be one in all a handful of miniature Bibles {that a} NASA astronaut carried to the moon in 1971 after an skilled questioned its authenticity.

The transfer follows an announcement final 12 months that not less than 5 of 16 Useless Sea Scroll fragments that had been on show on the museum had been discovered to be obvious fakes.

The museum changed the unique microfilm Bible with one which was donated by an Oklahoma lady who wrote a e book in regards to the Apollo Prayer League, which organized for Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell to hold tiny Bibles to the moon.

“We all know for positive that one on show proper now went to the moon, however we couldn’t confirm for positive that the one we had initially on show had gone to the moon,” museum spokeswoman Heather Cirmo stated. “We could not disprove it, it simply wasn’t sure.”

The $500 million museum was largely funded by the Inexperienced household, evangelical Christian billionaires who run the Oklahoma Metropolis-based Interest Foyer chain of craft shops. The purported “lunar” Bible is simply the most recent merchandise bought by the household to return beneath scrutiny.

Steve Inexperienced, museum founder and president of Interest Foyer, additionally bought 1000’s of Iraqi archaeological artifacts for a reported $1.6 million, however was pressured in 2018 to return them to the Iraqi authorities and Interest Foyer paid a $three million tremendous after authorities stated they had been stolen from the war-torn nation and smuggled into the U.S. Museum officers have stated none of these objects had been ever a part of its assortment.

As for the Useless Sea Scrolls that had been known as into query, the 11 remaining fragments are being examined, with outcomes anticipated by the top of the 12 months, Cirmo stated. Two of the fragments stay on show with indicators noting that they’re being examined.

The museum didn’t announce that it was changing the lunar Bible — a choice Cirmo defended.

“It is fairly ridiculous to suppose that any museum, that each time you turn one thing out you are going to announce it on plaques,” Cirmo stated. “Collectors make errors on a regular basis. … This isn’t one thing that’s distinctive to Steve Inexperienced.”

The merchandise that was beforehand displayed is now in storage, Cirmo stated.

Tulsa creator Carol Mersch, who had raised considerations about its authenticity, donated the substitute Bible.

“(Inexperienced) is grateful, as is the museum, that somebody got here ahead and donated one that really went to the moon … and that one did not value something,” Cirmo stated.

Mersch was given 10 lunar Bibles by then-NASA chaplain the Rev. John Stout, a co-founder of the Apollo Prayer League.

Inexperienced, chairman of the museum’s board, purchased the unique Bible for about $56,000. It had additionally been displayed on the Vatican.

Mersch questioned its authenticity as a result of it had a serial quantity that was solely three digits; she stated Stout engraved the genuine lunar Bibles with five-digit numbers. Mersch stated the Bible she offered was authenticated by each Stout and Mitchell.

“I believed (donation) the very best factor I may do to honor Rev. Stout. He had requested me to donate them to museums,” Mersch stated.

Inexperienced purchased the merchandise that was initially on show from Georgia-based Peachstate Historic Consulting, which acquired the Bibles from Stout’s brother, James Stout. The Stout brothers are each lifeless, as is Mitchell. Peachstate proprietor David Frohman didn’t reply to requests for remark.

In an interview with The Related Press a month earlier than the museum’s 2017 opening, Inexperienced acknowledged the museum had made some errors early on.

“There’s numerous complexities in areas that I am nonetheless a novice at,” he stated. “However we’re partaking the very best specialists we will to advise and assist us in that course of.”

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NASA units 1st all-female spacewalk after swimsuit flap in spring

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The primary all-female spacewalk is again on, six months after a suit-sizing flap led to an embarrassing cancellation.

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NASA introduced Friday that the Worldwide Area Station’s two ladies will pair up for a spacewalk later this month. Astronauts Christina Koch and the newly arrived Jessica Meir will enterprise out Oct. 21 to plug in new, upgraded batteries for the solar energy system.

Will probably be the fourth of 5 spacewalks for battery work. The primary is Sunday; Koch will exit with Andrew Morgan.

Koch was alleged to do a spacewalk with one other feminine crewmate in March. However NASA needed to scrap the plan just some days prematurely as a result of there wasn’t sufficient time to get a second medium-size spacesuit prepared. The second medium was put collectively on board in June.

NASA’s deputy chief astronaut Megan McArthur advised reporters the all-female spacewalk can be a milestone. However she famous that girls are so built-in in any respect ranges at NASA now that they do not are likely to dwell on gender.

“I am certain that they will sit again and replicate on it, as all of us will. We’ll all have a good time that,” McArthur stated.

Koch and Meir, a marine biologist who arrived on the orbiting lab final week, are each members of NASA’s Astronaut Class of 2013, the primary and just one with a fair break up between women and men. They’re additionally each making their first spaceflights.

Koch, {an electrical} engineer, is greater than 200 days into an roughly 300-day mission, which is able to set a report for the longest single spaceflight by a girl.

“Up to now, ladies have not at all times been on the desk,” Koch stated throughout a televised interview earlier this week. “And it is great to be contributing to the human spaceflight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everybody has a job, and that may lead, in flip, to elevated probability for fulfillment.”

Because the world’s first spacewalk in 1965, solely 14 ladies have accomplished them, versus 213 males, in line with NASA.

Anticipate extra ladies spacewalking collectively on the horizon.

“It seems that over the subsequent couple years, we’re having a whole lot of medium swimsuit folks fly,” stated NASA’s area station program supervisor, Kirk Shireman.

Koch will function the lead spacewalker for Sunday’s tour with Morgan, her U.S. male crewmate. There are 11 spacewalks developing within the subsequent few months — 10 U.S. and one Russian. Just one is 2 ladies.

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The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Training. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

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This story has been corrected to say Meir arrived on the orbiting lab final week.

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Climate postpones SpaceX launch of provides to area station

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Storm clouds pressured SpaceX to postpone its Wednesday launch of a capsule carrying provides to the Worldwide Area Station.

The non-public agency solely had a break up second window to launch its Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon capsule. One other launch alternative is Thursday at 6:01 p.m. ET.

The capsule accommodates about 5,000 kilos of provides and experiments, together with a 3D bioprinter to make human tissue in orbit for analysis.

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TV is over the moon with specials recounting 1969 landing

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The 1969 moon landing turned an achievement seen only in the imagination and sci-fi movies into a most improbable television event, a live broadcast starring Neil Armstrong and a desolate landscape.

The astounding images from more than 200,000 miles away mesmerized viewers, a feat TV hopes to replicate leading up to the Apollo 11 mission’s 50th anniversary on July 20.

There’s a galaxy of programs about the science, the people and the sheer wonder of the voyage, including documentaries with footage and audio not made public before and, of course, modern special effects to make it all the more vivid.

Among the highlights (all times EDT):

— “Apollo: Missions to the Moon,” National Geographic, 9 p.m. Sunday. The two-hour film by Tom Jennings uses a mix of TV and radio news accounts, home movies, NASA footage and previously unaired mission control audio recordings to revisit all of the dozen manned Apollo missions.

— “The Day We Walked on the Moon,” 9 p.m. Sunday, Smithsonian Channel. A by-the-minute description of the day of the moon mission by those who were part of it, including astronaut Michael Collins, and those who viewed it from afar, such as Queen guitarist and scientist Brian May.

— “American Experience: Chasing the Moon,” PBS and pbs.org, 9 p.m. July 8-10 (check local listings). Robert Stone’s six-hour documentary, narration-free and using only archival footage, tracks the space race from its start to the lunar landing and beyond, examining the scientific innovation, politics, personal drama and media spectacle that propelled it.

— “From the Earth to the Moon,” HBO platforms starting July 15. The 1998 miniseries is back with its original visual effects replaced by computer-generated ones based, according to HBO, on NASA reference models. The cast includes Sally Field, Gary Cole and Tom Hanks, who also produced the drama available on HBO Go, HBO Now and HBO On Demand. A HBO channel marathon airing of all 12 episodes begins at 8:45 a.m. July 20.

— “8 Days: To the Moon and Back,” PBS, 9 p.m. July 17 (check local listings). Co-produced by PBS and BBC Studios, the new film tracks the mission from countdown to splashdown with a combination of recently declassified audio, interviews with the Apollo 11 crew, mission re-enactments, archival TV news footage and photographs.

— “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” NASA TV and Discovery Science Channel, 1 p.m. July 19. A salute to the Apollo astronauts and to the space agency’s future missions, broadcast from the Kennedy Space Center and with segments from the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where the Apollo 11 command module is on display.

— “Apollo: The Forgotten Films,” Discovery, 8 p.m. July 20. Footage from NASA, the National Archives, news reports and other sources provides a behind-the-scenes look at how engineers, scientists and astronauts achieved the moon landing goal set earlier in the decade by President John F. Kennedy.

— “The National Symphony Orchestra Pops presents Apollo 11: A Fiftieth Anniversary,” PBS, 9 p.m. July 20. NASA, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the symphony collaborated for this musical and visual tribute to the moon landing, with appearances by Pharrell Williams, Natasha Bedingfield and LeVar Burton. Meredith Vieira and Adam Savage host.

— “Apollo 11,” CNN, 9 p.m. July 20. The documentary film from director-producer Todd Douglas Miller recounts the mission from the Saturn V rocket’s transport to its launch pad to the astronauts’ return to Earth, using newly discovered 70mm footage, extensive audio recordings and other digitized and restored material from the National Archives and NASA.

— “Moon Landing Live,” BBC America, 9 p.m. July 20. News archives from around the world and NASA footage are used to recount the mission’s ambition and achievement and how it captured international attention.

— “Confessions from Space: Apollo,” Discovery, 10 p.m. July 20. The program with the tabloid-sounding title gathers six astronauts who took part in Apollo program missions to jointly share their memories and insights. Among them are Apollo 11’s Collins and Buzz Aldrin and Charles Duke of Apollo 16.

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Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .



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NASA opening space station to visitors

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You’ve heard about the International Space Station for years. Want to visit?

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NASA announced Friday that the orbiting outpost is now open for business to private citizens, with the first visit expected to be as early as next year.

There is a catch, though: You’ll need to raise your own cash, and it won’t be cheap.

Travelers will pay an estimated $58 million for a round-trip ticket. And accommodations will run about $35,000 per night, for trips of up to 30 days long.

“But it won’t come with any Hilton or Marriott points,” said NASA’s chief financial officer Jeff Dewit during a news conference at Nasdaq in New York City.

Travelers don’t have to be U.S. citizens. People from other countries will also be eligible, as long as they fly to the space station on a U.S.-operated rocket.

Depending on the market, the agency will allow up to two visitors per year, for now. And the private astronauts will have to meet the same medical standards, training and certification procedures as regular crew members.

The space station has welcomed tourists before by way of Russian rockets. In 2001, California businessman Dennis Tito became the first visitor by paying for a journey and several others have followed.

Friday’s announcement marks the first time NASA is allowing private astronauts on board. The program is part of NASA’s efforts to open the station to private industries, which the agency hopes will inherit the orbiting platform someday.

Eventually, the space station will become too expensive for the government to maintain, said Bill Gerstenmaier, a NASA’s associate administrator. So the idea is to let the private sector start using the station now and perhaps eventually take it over, he said.

The NASA officials said some revenue from commercial activities will help the agency focus its resources on returning to the moon in 2024, a major goal of the Trump administration. The agency said this will also reduce the cost to U.S. taxpayers for this next lunar mission.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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SpaceX suffers serious setback with crew capsule accident

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SpaceX has suffered a serious setback in its effort to launch NASA astronauts into orbit this year.

Over the weekend, the Dragon crew capsule that flew to the International Space Station last month was engulfed in smoke and flames on an engine test stand. SpaceX says it was testing the Dragons abort thrusters at Cape Canaveral, Florida, when Saturdays accident occurred. The company says the test area was clear and no one was injured.

This Dragon was supposed to be used in a launch abort test in June, with another capsule making the first flight with a crew as early as July.

NASA said Monday its too early to revise the target launch dates.

Earlier this month, NASA announced major delays for test flights of Boeings Starliner crew capsule.

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Japan space probe drops explosive on asteroid to make crater

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Japan’s space agency said its Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully dropped an explosive designed to make a crater on an asteroid and collect its underground samples to find possible clues to the origin of the solar system.

Friday’s crater mission is the riskiest for Hayabusa2, as it had to immediately get away so it won’t get hit by flying shards from the blast.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said that Hayabusa2 dropped a “small carry-on impactor” made of copper onto the asteroid Friday morning, and that data confirmed the spacecraft safely evacuated and remained intact. JAXA is analyzing data to examine if or how the impactor made a crater.

The copper explosive is the size of a baseball weighing 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds). It was designed to come out of a cone-shaped piece of equipment. A copper plate on its bottom was to turn into a ball during its descent and slam into the asteroid at 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) per second.

JAXA plans to send Hayabusa2 back to the site later, when the dust and debris settle, for observations from above and to collect samples from underground that have not been exposed to the sun or space rays. Scientists hope the samples will be crucial to determine the history of the asteroid and our planet.

If successful, it would be the first time for a spacecraft to take such materials. In a 2005 “deep impact” mission to a comet, NASA observed fragments after blasting the surface but did not collect them.

After dropping the impactor, the spacecraft was to move quickly to the other side of the asteroid to avoid flying shards from the blast. While moving away, Hayabusa2 also left a camera to capture the outcome. One of its first photos showed the impactor being successfully released and headed to the asteroid.

“So far, Hayabusa2 has done everything as planned, and we are delighted,” said mission leader Makoto Yoshikawa. “But we still have more missions to achieve and it’s too early for us to celebrate with ‘banzai.'”

Hayabusa2 successfully touched down on a tiny flat surface on the boulder-rich asteroid in February, when the spacecraft also collected some surface dust and small debris. The craft is scheduled to leave the asteroid at the end of 2019 and bring surface fragments and underground samples back to Earth in late 2020.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi



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