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SpaceX opens era of amateur astronauts, cosmic movie sets – Fox Business

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX’s debut astronaut launch is the biggest, most visible opening shot yet in NASA’s grand plan for commercializing Earth’s backyard.

Amateur astronauts, private space stations, flying factories, out-of-this-world movie sets — this is the future the space agency is striving to shape as it eases out of low-Earth orbit and aims for the moon and Mars.

It doesn’t quite reach the fantasized heights of George Jetson and Iron Man, but still promises plenty of thrills.

“I’m still waiting for my personal jetpack. But the future is incredibly exciting,” NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren said the day before SpaceX’s historic liftoff.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, who will test drive Boeing’s space capsule next year, envisions scientists, doctors, poets and reporters lining up for rocket rides.

This artist’s rendering provided by Boeing shows the company’s Starliner spacecraft. (Boeing via AP)

ASTEROID HEADED NEAR EARTH THIS WEEKEND

“I see this as a real possibility,” she said. “You’re going to see low-Earth orbit open up.”

The road to get there has never been so crowded, with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company leading the pack.

A week ago, SpaceX became the first private company to send people into orbit, something accomplished by only three countries in nearly 60 years. The flight to the International Space Station returned astronaut launches to the U.S. after nine long years.

“This is hopefully the first step on a journey toward a civilization on Mars,” an emotional Musk told journalists following liftoff.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016 file photo, SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks about 1,000 passenger ships flying en masse to Mars, ‘Battlestar Galactica’ style. (AP Photo/Refugio Ruiz)

SPACEX NASA ASTRONAUT: SUCCESSFUL MISSION CAN SHOW COUNTRY WHAT’S POSSIBLE

Closer in time and space is SpaceX’s involvement in a plan to launch Tom Cruise to the space station to shoot a movie in another year or so. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine embraces the idea. He wants NASA to be just one of many customers in this new space-traveling era, where private companies own and fly their own spaceships and sell empty seats.

“Kind of a changing of the guard in how we’re going to do human spaceflight in the future,” said Mike Suffredini, a former NASA station program manager who now leads Houston’s Axiom Space company.

Axiom has partnered with SpaceX to launch three customers to the space station in fall 2021. An experienced astronaut will accompany them, serving as the commander-slash-tour guide. Two private flights a year are planned, using completely automated capsules belonging to SpaceX or Boeing, NASA’s two commercial crew providers.

The ticket price — which includes 15 weeks of training and more than a week at the space station — is about $55 million. Besides the three signed up, others have expressed serious interest, Suffredini said.

Since last weekend’s successful launch, “everybody’s starting to wonder where their place in line is,” Suffredini told The Associated Press on Thursday. “That’s a really, really cool position to be in now.”

In this Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 file photo, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, poses for a photo outside the New York Stock Exchange as fireworks are exploded before his company’s IPO. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO LEAVE EARTH?

Space Adventures Inc. of Vienna, Virginia, also has teamed up with SpaceX. Planned for late next year, this five-day-or-so mission would skip the space station and instead orbit two to three times higher for more sweeping views of Earth. The cost: around $35 million. It’s also advertising rides to the space station via Boeing Starliner and Russian Soyuz capsules.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are taking it slower and lower with tourist flights. These space-skimming, up-and-down flights will last minutes, not days, and cost a lot less. Hundreds already have reservations with Virgin Galactic.

In this May 1, 2020 photo provided by Virgin Galactic, the SpaceshipTwo Unity flies free in New Mexico airspace for the first time. (Virgin Galactic via AP)

ELON MUSK’S SPACEX IS HIRING: TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE POSITIONS

Branson is the only one of the three billionaires planning to launch himself before putting customers aboard at $250,000 a pop. His winged rocketship is designed to drop from a customized plane flying over New Mexico.

Blue Origin’s customers will launch on rockets from West Texas; the capsules sport wall-to-ceiling windows, the largest ever built for a spacecraft.

In this Dec. 11, 2019 image from video provided by Blue Origin, the New Shepard rocket takes off near Van Horn, Texas, on the sixth successful launch and landing of the same rocket. (Blue Origin via AP)

NASA PICKS SPACEX, BLUE ORIGIN, DYNESTICS TO PUT ASTRONAUTS ON MOON IN 2024

It’s not just rocket rides that have companies salivating.

Beginning in 2024, Axiom plans to build its own addition to the 260-mile-high (420-kilometer-high) outpost to accommodate its private astronauts. The segment would later be detached and turned into its own free-flying abode.

Space Adventures is marketing flights to the moon — not to land, but buzz it in Russian spacecraft.

The moon — considered the proving ground for the ultimate destination Mars — is where it’s at these days. NASA is pushing to get astronauts back on the lunar surface by 2024 and establish a permanent base there.

Musk’s company recently won contracts to haul cargo to the moon and develop a lunar lander for astronauts.

This artist’s rendering made available by Elon Musk shows SpaceX’s mega-rocket design on the Earth’s moon. (SpaceX via AP, File)

SPACE RACE: THE NEXT TRILLION-DOLLAR ECONOMY?

But the bigger draw for Musk is Mars. It’s why he founded SpaceX 18 years ago — and why he keeps pushing the space envelope.

“I cannot emphasize this enough. This is the thing that we need to do. We must make life sustainably multi planetary. It’s not one planet to the exclusion of another, but to extend life beyond Earth,” Musk said after last weekend’s launch.

“I call upon the public to support this goal,” he added, beckoning to the NASA TV cameras.

To fulfill that vision, SpaceX is using its own money to develop a massive, bullet-shaped steel spacecraft called Starship at the bottom of Texas. Prototypes repeatedly have ruptured and exploded on the test pad, most recently on the eve of the company’s astronaut flight from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

NASA’s Bridenstine said space is currently a $400 billion market, including satellites. Opening up spaceflight to paying customers, he said, could expand the market to $1 trillion.

The goal is to drive down launch costs and ramp up innovation, drawing in more people and more business. By NASA’s count, 576 people have flown in space, with only the wealthy few footing their own bill.

The world’s first space tourist, California businessman Dennis Tito, paid a reported $20 million to the Russians to fly to the space station in 2001 — against NASA’s wishes. The Canadian founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, shelled out $35 million for a Russian ticket in 2009. Space Adventures arranged both deals.

In this Sunday, May 6, 2001 file photo, U.S. multimillionaire Dennis Tito gives a thumbs up shortly after his landing in the Central Asian steppes. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

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“It really is the billionaire boys’ club,” former space shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin said during last Saturday’s launch broadcast. Once prices drop, he’d consider returning to space, but not without his dogs.

“They’re ready to go, need SpaceX suits for them,” he said.

Once lunar bases are established, the next step will be Mars in the 2030s, according to Bridenstine.

“Those are the kinds of things that inspire the next Elon Musk, the next Jeff Bezos, the next Sir Richard Branson. And that’s what we have to get back to as an agency,” he said.

SpaceX still has to get NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken safely back to Earth this summer in its Dragon capsule. But the company already is looking ahead to the next astronaut crew. Crew mission director Benji Reed got a brief taste of this future as he wrapped up a chat with the astronauts Monday.

“Thank you for flying SpaceX,” he chimed.

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California opens up coronavirus funding for immigrants in state illegally, faces backlash – Fox News

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Undocumented immigrants in California are now allowed to apply for the state’s coronavirus relief program that will pay $500 per person and up to $1,000 per household, according to reports Monday.

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The Los Angeles Times reported that Sacramento has freed up $75 million for the fund, which could help about 150,000 who may be facing severe hardships during the pandemic. An earlier report in the paper said the Center for American Liberty is suing the state, claiming that the money is “not a slush fund for the governor to spend as he sees fit.” It hopes to block the package.

TRUMP THREATENS WHO

Opponents of the measure insist that any taxpayer funds should be directed to U.S. citizens who are also struggling amid the pandemic.

The LA Daily News reported that the state is home to about 2 million undocumented immigrants who are not eligible to receive any kind of federal stimulus. The report said the fund could hit $125 million,  which would include $50 million from donations. The money is expected to run out quickly.

The state website opened on Monday and there was so much traffic that the site crashed, the Fresno Bee reported.

“The website is currently up and running, and we are continuing to increase its capacity,” Scott Murray, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Social Services, told the Bee.

Kim Ouillette, attorney and fellow with Legal Aid at Work, told the paper that the state should “step in and do something more significant” because the funds will only cover a percentage of the immigrants in the state illegally. Applications will be accepted until June 30 or until funds run dry.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in April that he would spend $75 million of taxpayer money to create a Disaster Relief Fund for immigrants living in the country illegally.

He was criticized by some Republicans in the state. Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove said at the time that Newsom should spend the money instead on food banks, equipment for students to continue their education online and local governments struggling with revenue losses.

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“Instead of meeting these urgent needs, Governor Newsom has chosen to irresponsibly pursue a left-wing path and unilaterally secured $125 million for undocumented immigrants,” said Grove, who represents Bakersfield.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Microsoft opens a can of whoop-ass on reply-all email storms in Office 365 – Its Media Lodge

When you work in an office, there are many annoying things you must put up with, such as coworkers microwaving stinky fish for lunch, or dealing with people that never refill the paper tray in the printer.

There is probably nothing more annoying, however, than reply-all email storms. This is where one coworker accidentally selects “reply all” rather than “reply” and ends up sending an email to a huge list of people. Then, other people in the organization do the same thing, creating a massive email chain that clogs up everyone’s inboxes. Thankfully, Microsoft is finally trying to end this nightmare in Office 365 (aka Microsoft 365) with the all-new “Reply All Storm Protection” feature.

“When a reply all mail storm happens in your organization, it can disrupt business continuity and in some cases even throttle the rest of your organization’s email for a period of time. At Microsoft Ignite 2019 we announced the Reply All Storm Protection feature to help reduce the impact that reply all storms can have on large organizations. Today we’re pleased to announce that the feature is now rolling out in Office 365 worldwide,” says The Exchange Transport Team.

The team further says, “Initially the Reply All Storm Protection feature will mostly benefit large organizations who have large distribution lists. When the feature detects a likely reply all storm taking place on a large DL it will block subsequent attempts to reply all to the thread and will return an NDR to the sender. The reply all block will remain in place for several hours. Initially the Reply All Storm Protection feature will use the following conditions to detect a reply all storm: 10 reply all-s to over 5000 recipients within 60 minutes. It will then block subsequent replies to the thread for 4 hours.”

With the feature enabled, users that try to reply to a “reply-all” storm will be blocked from doing so, and they will instead be presented with a non-deliverable warning email (seen above). This should prove to be a very useful feature, and I hope other vendors copy it ASAP.

Photo Credit: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock

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