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Isn't space

Space isn’t just a distraction. It could be our salvation – CNET

It was a bright spot in the long, dark tunnel that has been the year 2020. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, SpaceX made history on May 31 by launching NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in its sleek, modern Crew Dragon spacecraft.

While much of humanity yearned simply to go to a restaurant or just leave the house, two humans left the Earth, starting a new era of space travel. The mission called Demo-1 was the long-awaited demonstration of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, a partnership of the space agency, Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX with the aim of kicking off a new era of human space exploration. Beyond being the first crewed space launch from US soil in nine years, the program will provide a big boost to science in orbit.

For more than six decades, space programs run by the US, other countries and now private companies have been developing technologies and making new discoveries in the service of solving hard problems. Some advancements, like satellite-based communications, are well known, and others, like a NASA-supported method of disarming landmines, might surprise those who see big space exploration budgets (NASA’s 2020 budget is $22.6 billion) as a waste of money. But these solutions usually end up having applications that improve the day-to-day lives of Earth-bound humans, including breakthroughs that just might help save us from the ongoing pandemic and other major problems we face.

“On the International Space Station, researchers are taking advantage of microgravity to produce human tissue and develop new vaccines,” says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Because things behave differently in space, these are medical advancements that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.”

The inauguration of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which seats up to four more astronauts than the three-person Russian Soyuz craft NASA has used exclusively to ferry crews into orbit since 2011, also brings a research boost. More seats means more hands available to do more hours of science in space. And that science could have real-life implications.

“There is the expectation that the amount of time allocated for conducting science on station will approximately double,” Patrick O’Neill, spokesperson for the International Space Station US National Laboratory, says of the coming Commercial Crew era. 

Some of those added crew hours may go to less life-critical experiments with commercial partners like Adidas, which has been studying how particle foam molding in microgravity could affect the performance and comfort of its shoes. (There’s a Space Jam joke to be made there somewhere.)  

More importantly, more astronaut hours could assist the US government’s multibillion-dollar effort to secure millions of doses of experimental coronavirus vaccines from big pharmaceutical companies like Sanofi Pasteur. The French multinational drug-maker has been working with NASA and the ISS National Laboratory to investigate how human immune cells change in the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station. And with worldwide demand for doses of a vaccine to protect against COVID-19, insights from space could be the key to making the process cost-effective and delivering the vaccine to the masses sooner.

Astronaut Scott Kelly administers his own flu shot aboard the ISS in 2015 as part of research involving vaccines in microgravity.

NASA

Rachel Clemens, innovation manager of the ISS National Lab, wrote in March that life sciences research into how various cells and systems respond in microgravity could be particularly useful. The studies could lead to better methods of vaccine production and improved vaccine efficacy.

“Cells in culture change their physiology in interesting ways in microgravity,” Clemens wrote. “While scientists are not studying COVID-19 in space, research on the International Space Station (ISS) does tell us a lot about microbes.”

Out-of-this-world innovation

The dawn of Commercial Crew and the return of crewed launches to American shores is a culmination, of sorts, of a quiet renaissance in cutting-edge research that’s been happening about 250 miles above our heads. Over the past decade, new, high-tech facilities available to both public and commercial interests on the ISS have driven a big increase in life sciences research.

Some of the newer resources on the space station include DNA sequencing, bio fabrication and autonomous equipment that supports research with minimal supervision from the crew. Recent research includes sending genetically edited “mighty mice” with almost twice the muscle mass of normal mice into orbit to help scientists investigate ways to fight muscle wasting and aging. Another effort aims to better understand human disease with the help of tissue-on-a-chip platforms that mimic human tissues and organs to study their reaction to microgravity.

There are even new robots on the ISS, including a humanoid helper named R2 in true Star Wars style and a cute/creepy smiling assistant on a screen named CIMON-2 that will remind space enthusiasts of a certain age of a certain HAL.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano works with the cheery robot CIMON-2 on the ISS.

NASA/ESA

The ISS, which was designated a federally sponsored National Lab in 2005, is the best place for doing hands-on research beyond the pull of gravity with an eye on applications meant for use back on Earth. It’s been so successful as both a science lab and a symbol of international collaboration that the ISS is nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize

But the long, rich and sometimes surprising history of technology transfer from space to life below started more than 60 years ago, even before humans left the Earth for the first time. We continue to heavily rely on the advancements like satellite-based connectivity, Earth observation and global positioning systems. They all grew out of a singular desire to keep up with (and spy on) the Soviets during the Cold War era.

These are obvious examples, and there are many more.

“Space is part of the solution set, and when you deal with big problems, you want to have access to as many solution sets as possible,” says Rich Cooper, vice president for strategic communications and outreach at the Space Foundation, a nonprofit education and advocacy group.

He pointed to the example of the flame retardant fabric and breathing system firefighters use when they enter a burning structure, both of which came from space research. Astronauts were the first to test heart monitors used in hospitals around the world. Neil Armstrong wore the then-nascent cardiac monitoring technology developed for NASA when he became the first person to walk on the moon in 1969.

NASA labs later pioneered the use of water hyacinths and other plants as a much more cost-efficient (and shockingly attractive) way of treating sewage, an advancement that major cities began adopting in the 1980s. You also can thank the space agency for your scratch-resistant lenses, cordless tools, Tempur-pedic mattress, LASIK eye surgery, and the insoles in many running and hiking shoes, just to name a few

Science aboard the ISS will ramp up when the first operational Commercial Crew mission sends four astronauts to the station in October.

NASA’s Commercial Crew program is helping to expand science in orbit.

NASA

“Space is a force multiplier across every infrastructure, industry and community,” Cooper says. “That creates opportunity as much as it creates inspiration.”

The European Space Agency uses its Earth observation satellites to monitor all sorts of changes happening on our planet, from volcanic activity to oil spills, deforestation and urban development. Or as ESA Downstream Gateway Officer Donatella Ponziana described it, “We take the pulse of the Earth.”

This year, ESA is measuring the planet’s vitals to help officials glean new insights into the COVID-19 pandemic. That agency and the European Commission created the Rapid Action on Coronavirus Earth Observation dashboard that shows the pandemic’s impact on dozens of economic, environmental and agricultural indicators such as construction activity, harvests and air quality.

Space tough

Hardware originally developed for space is also assisting in the fight against COVID-19 on the ground.

Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions, an Arlington, Virginia-based company that’s created circuits and other spacecraft components for a few decades, wants to bring its space solutions back to Earth.

“Space applications require a fairly significant complexity in the design. They also require certainty of results — what you design actually has to do what it’s supposed to do and it has to do it for a long time in space,” says Chris Clardy, Cobham’s vice president for space business development, strategy and technology. “And they typically are in very tight form factors. Size, weight and power matters, and they have to be very low-power.”

Cobham designed the first breathing regulator used by John Glenn during Project Mercury, which sent the initial batch of US astronauts into space in the early 1960s. Today its components are on the ISS and power robotic probes scattered around the solar system, including NASA’s Juno spacecraft circling Jupiter, the Parker Solar Probe and Osiris-Rex. Cobham components are also used in industrial settings, like airports, hospitals and other medical facilities for everything from scanning luggage to mining.

The application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs, the company has modified for hospital equipment like computerized tomography scanners need to be reliable and hardened enough to survive constant exposure to radiation, just like spacecraft. They’re now being used to detect and sequence the genome of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“As a space technology developer, we select technology and we design all the way down to the transistor level to survive these radiation effects,” Clardy says. “These contributions by our customers have been essential in the world’s fight against the coronavirus.”

Cobham and Clardy are also turning their attention to the future, when the company’s space-proven technology will have the potential to help shape the future of communications, the internet of things and other areas where it matters that components are small, low-power and resilient.

Forget the sky. Imagination is the limit

It’s not just robotic probes and projects in orbit that deliver benefits for us humans. Planned deep-space expeditions should bring about some innovations as well.

“As has been the case throughout NASA’s history, investments in NASA and our ambitious missions, like the Artemis program, will lead to new technological capabilities for our nation and the world,” Bridenstine says. The Artemis mission aims to land the first woman on the moon in 2024 and lay the foundation for a permanent presence on our natural satellite.

Take, for example, a current NASA challenge that asks university students to help solve the problem of highly abrasive lunar dust, which can wreak havoc on both astronauts’ lungs and equipment. It’s easy to imagine how working to solve this problem could lead to new ways of dealing with pollution and other airborne irritants on Earth.

And advancements won’t come just from humans, either. I’ll certainly be in line to own anything inspired by NASA’s shape-shifting robot concept that looks even cooler than any Star Wars droid. The system is really a series of robots that can fly, swim, float and tumble over any terrain, abilities that could help locate victims trapped in debris because of natural disasters or other emergency situations.

Last month, NASA launched the Perseverance Rover on a seven-month journey to Mars carrying a tiny helicopter named Ingenuity in its belly. Ingenuity was completed in 2017, and the company that built it, AeroVironment, took lessons learned from working with NASA and has already applied them to products used here on Earth.

A drone called Quantix, introduced in 2018, allows farmers to scan their fields and identify different plant health issues. AeroVironment’s chief marketing officer, Steve Gitlin, told NASA Spinoff this year that the agency’s requirements for ruggedness “certainly taught us much about reliability in harsh environments, which serves our customers in the military and on the farm.”

Space will save Earth… and humanity, too

Incremental improvements to life on Earth are one thing, but with climate change and the threat of future pandemics facing the planet, saving both it and our species are much more complicated. But two men with about a quarter trillion dollars in net worth between them have audacious plans to leverage space and their wealth to take them on.

Musk and SpaceX are planning to travel far beyond the ISS, aiming to build a city on Mars and make humans a “multiplanetary” species, just in case some catastrophe should befall our home planet. This grandiose vision invites the quick retort that we ought to be solving climate change and the other big problems facing Earth before we go messing up another planet. But the process of making Mars habitable will almost certainly yield insights and innovations that will help make Earth more sustainable.

Elon Musk’s goal is to establish a city on Mars.

SpaceX

“Very little that pertains to living on Mars in the early years will involve off-the-shelf equipment and supplies from Earth,” wrote Stephen Petranek in his 2015 book How We’ll Live on Mars.

Petranek imagines that new systems may be needed to extract the water and oxygen for supporting human life in the Martian environment. One such experiment is on its way to the red planet aboard the Perseverance rover. The instrument known as Moxie, for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resources Utilization Experiment, aims to pull oxygen from atmospheric carbon dioxide. It’s easy to imagine how insights gleaned from this effort might be put into use on other worlds where there’s an excess of CO2, like say… Earth.

NASA Perseverance rover is on its way to Mars. 

NASA

Amazon CEO and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has his own vision for using space to save Earth. Rather than going all the way to Mars, the sometimes-richest-human-on-Earth wants to move as many polluting industries as possible into orbit, onto asteroids and to the surface of the moon. The goal is to preserve Earth for life and to put activities that can hinder it somewhere else.

Of course, billionaires can afford to think big, and both visions are still a long way off. But the launch of a brand new spacecraft like Musk’s Crew Dragon is a step forward and a welcome dose of uplifting news in trying times. Keeping an eye on the prize of technological progress might just help end this pandemic a little sooner, and give us fancy new space-foam shoes to wear when we can start eating out again. 

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Isn't Stephen

Stephen A. isn’t sold on the Chiefs becoming the next great dynasty | First Take – ESPN

Stephen A. isn’t sold on the Chiefs becoming the next great dynasty | First Take – ESPN
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Co-owner Isn't

Co-owner of gym that was shut down isn’t afraid to get arrested and says he’ll reopen Friday – CNN

(CNN)The co-owner of a New Jersey gym that was shut down by the state health department says he’s going to reopen his gym Friday, even if he gets arrested.

“If we get arrested, we will be open the next day,” Frank Trumbetti told CNN Thursday night. He also questioned how the New Jersey Department of Health could shut the gym down without county officials coming inside his business.
He says he came to Atilis Gym in Bellmawr on Thursday morning and there was a note on the door saying the New Jersey Department of Health is shutting it down because of the coronavirus.
Gov. Phil Murphy has closed all of the state’s indoor gyms, fitness centers and classes.
The state’s order to close lists indoor gyms and fitness centers as “high-risk settings” for the spread of Covid-19 because of increased respiratory activity, communal equipment and close personal contact.
Murphy’s office said it had no comment about the gym’s plans to reopen at this time, as did the New Jersey Department of Health.
Trumbetti said they are adding even more precautions to the gym, including a thermal body scanner and limiting the time members can be in the gym and at certain stations.
Trumbetti’s attorney Kevin Barry told CNN they will announce their next steps at 8 a.m. Friday when the gym reopens.
“I have a feeling NJ will arrest the owners tomorrow, as the Governor is running out of ways to escalate,” Barry said in an email.
Trumbetti said, “We are sticking to our ground game, that we didn’t do anything wrong, were protecting our constitutional right and were willing to fight for that.”
The gym opened its doors to members multiple days this week and had already received multiple summonses for opening, and this order follows those summonses.
“Atilis Gym has continued to operate in non-compliance with Executive Order No. 107, thus posing a threat to the public health by failing to adhere to the measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the health department’s order states. It goes on to say that a failure to comply with the order could result in criminal sanctions and/or civil penalties.
The order notes that the state’s health department has the power “(to) close, direct and compel the evacuation of, or to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated, any facility of which there is reasonable cause to believe that it may endanger the public health.”
New Jersey is the second hardest hit state with at least 10,846 deaths from Covid-19.

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Cutler Isn't

Jay Cutler Isn’t Hanging With Kristin Cavallari’s Ex-BFF, Source Says – E! NEWS

EXCLUSIVE!

A picture says a thousand words.

Ahead of the weekend, Jay Cutler and Kelly Henderson fueled rumors they were spending time together.

Before deciphering her post, here’s some backstory: Fans of Very Cavallari will know that Henderson was BFFs with Kristin Cavallari until she was accused of having an affair with Jay.

However, both parties shut down the cheating allegations.

Fast forward to Friday evening, and fans immediately flooded Kelly’s Instagram comment section asking if she was hanging out with the retired NFL star. Why? Well, her post was eyebrow-raising.

“Much needed happy hour. Happy Friday y’all,” the celebrity beauty guru captioned her post, alongside a pic of her drinking with a mystery man.

In the snapshot, the guy was seen rocking a beaded bracelet.

Eagle-eyed fans pointed out that Jay is known for wearing brightly-colored bracelets similar to the one on Kelly’s feed. However, it’s important to note that Jay hasn’t worn anything with the same color scheme.

“Glad it wasn’t just me and my creepiness thinking this was Jay due to the bracelet I [eye see] on that arm,” one fan replied.

Another wrote, “Guys I really doubt this is actually Jay. She playing with you with those bracelets tho! Kinda confirms what Kristin said…”

Someone else responded, “If this isn’t Jay you’re thirsty. If it is … yikes.”

At this time, it appears Kelly hasn’t engaged with any of the replies in her feed.

Jay Cutler & Kelly Henderson Very Cavallari 2src4

Similar to some of Kelly’s commenters, a source tells E! News Jay is not pictured in the Instagram post. Considering Kelly has a boyfriend, it’s possible that was the man in her post.

“This is 100 percent not Jay. This is Kelly seeking attention. That’s all this is,” the insider explained. “It’s very sad that she felt the need to do this for some followers.”

Moreover, the insider says the retired NFL star wouldn’t be this careless on social media.

“Jay is not involved with Kelly. Even if he were, he would never risk his position in the divorce by doing something as public as this.”

Kelly Henderson Instagram

Instagram

Earlier this year, Kristin touched on her broken friendship with Kelly and opened up about their falling out.

“The biggest change in my personal life is that my best friend Kelly and I haven’t talked in two months,” the Uncommon James founder shared during her confession in Season 3. “We’ve had a major falling out and it’s just been breaking my heart.”

“When season two was airing, there was a lot of talk on social media about Jay and Kelly having an affair. Not for one second have I ever thought that it was true,” the reality TV star continued. “It wasn’t the actual accusations of them having an affair that made me upset, it was how Kelly went about it.”

For Kristin, she felt like Kelly was adding “fuel to the fire” with her cryptic social media posts about the accusations.

“Why do you want to post about that? To get more attention about it,” Kristin vented to her best friend Justin Anderson. “If I was accused of having an affair with your husband, I wouldn’t say his f–king name on social media. Like, come on.”

Kristin added, “Instead of her just owning her side of it and being like, ‘I’m sorry! Oh my god, that was never my intention’ or whatever, she kept giving me push back and would get really defensive… and then, she literally just stopped responding to me.”

At this time, the Uncommon James founder and Jay have reached a temporary child custody agreement. Their divorce is still not finalized at this time.

To see Kristin and Jay open up about their relationship on Very Cavallari, you can catch up on all the episodes here.

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