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Category Archives: Space Travel

Spain to extend restrictions on international travelers until June 15 – EL PAS in English

Posted: May 15, 2020 at 8:00 am

Spains Official State Gazette (BOE) on Friday published an order extending restrictions on non-essential travel for people coming into Spanish territory until June 15.

The move acknowledges a recommendation by the European Commission to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until 15 June. The restrictions on travel into the EU space went into effect on March 17, although Brussels asked member states to allow free internal movement for European citizens.

Exceptional travel conditions are part of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed over 27,000 lives in Spain, according to the official count.

The Spanish government recently announced a 14-day self-quarantine for international travelers, effective today and until the end of the state of alarm.

Besides the quarantine, non-essential travel will be heavily restricted

Besides the quarantine, non-essential travel to Spain will be heavily restricted. As a rule, Spanish authorities will only let in Spanish citizens, permanent residents of Spain, and regular residents of the Schengen area (30 countries that include the EU members, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Andorra) who are in transit to their place of residence.

Exceptions are also made for cross-border workers, healthcare professionals and caregivers on their way to work, diplomats and individuals who can prove an essential reason to travel, including for humanitarian reasons.

The order stipulates that authorities may also turn away EU citizens and their relatives for public health reasons if they are not registered as residents of Spain, or headed directly to their place of residence in another member state, Schengen-associated state or Andorra.

An exception is also made for the spouse of a Spanish citizen, or partner in a similar relationship that is registered in a public registry, and for descendants and parents living with the citizen, as long as they are traveling with this citizen or on their way to reunite with him or her.

The order goes into effect on Saturday, May 16 and will remain in place until midnight on June 15. This pushes the travel restrictions beyond May 24, the date when the current state of alarm is due to end in Spain, although Prime Minister Pedro Snchez, of the Socialist Party (PSOE), will ask Congress for permission to extend it to June 29.

After two months under one of Europes strictest lockdowns, Spaniards have gradually recovered some mobility through a deescalation plan that is currently underway.

English version by Susana Urra.

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The 100 Series Finale Trailer Teases Screams, Space Travel, And Drastic Haircuts – Gizmodo Australia

Posted: at 8:00 am

So, is The 100 becoming Stargate now?

The new trailer for the seventh and final season of The 100 is here and, as with most things, it all starts fairly expectedly. But as the trailer moves on, the show takes a hard right turn into What the Living Hell Land. Take a look for yourself.

Wormholes to other dimensions? Space charts? Snow planets? What the hell happened to the seemingly simple story of humanitys attempt to repopulate the Earth after total Armageddon? Well, things are ending, thats what, and its time for The 100 to try and answer all the questions, even if this latest look seems to be opening up a bunch of new ones. Though to be fair, the more things change, the more they stay the same too. Everyone, especially Clarke, still seems to be fighting the same battles theyve fought since season one.

The seventh and final season begins on the CW on May 21, but if youre not ready to say goodbye to this wild concept just yet, dont forget there may be a prequel on the way.

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The 100 Series Finale Trailer Teases Screams, Space Travel, And Drastic Haircuts - Gizmodo Australia

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On the Road Review: Ram 2500 Limited Crew Cab Diesel – Press Herald

Posted: at 8:00 am

For ten years Chrysler/FCA has been trying to convince consumers that its pickup brand is now called Ram, but drivers of every ilk still prefer the Dodge label. The thing is, these new Ram pickups are so different from anything Dodge built, and now so popular, that perhaps the shift to Ram was the name change needed to separate history from a new present.

Last yearfor the first timeRam outsold Chevys Silverado to become the second most-popular nameplate in America, trailing only Fords venerable F-series. This sales race wasnt a squeaker either; Ram clobbered the Silverado by 58,000 units, or, 10% more sales than the Chevy.

The Ram 2500 was also named Motor Trend Magazines Truck of the Year, making two years in a row that Ram earned such accolades. Sense a trend?

Like its 1500 series sibling, the heavy duty 2500/3500 series pickups receive the industrys best interior design, with textures, surfaces, controls, and technology that match luxury carmakers, along with chassis upgrades including an optional auto-levelling air-ride suspension, as well as an upgraded Cummins turbodiesel engine that produces a segment-leading 1,000-pound/feet of peak torque in 3500-series models.

Long a cornerstone to the heavy duty Dodge/Ram pickups, the latest Cummins in-line six-cylinder diesel comes in two versions. The base 6.7-liter six makes 370-hp and 850-lb./ft. of torque and can tow up to 19,780-pounds. The HOHigh Output6.7 liter is optional on the one-ton 3500 series trucks with dual rear wheels and spins out 400-hp and can pull up to 35,000 pounds with its six-speed automatic.

For comparison, the gas engined version of the 2500-series Ram uses a 6.4-liter V-8 making 410-hp that can pull 14,370-pounds with its eight-speed automatic.

The Cummins motor has been significantly quieted. Yes, you can hear the exploding clatter of the compression engine outside, but insideyou hear almost nothing. There is some big-truck thrum at certain engine speeds, which Cummins fans love, yet highway cruising is effortlessly serene. So smooth is the big Ram that you must mind the speedometer as beyond-the-pace speeding is too easily accomplished in this hushed workhorse.

The EPA does not render fuel economy numbers for heavy-duty pickups. Plus these trucks are usually working, towing, or plowing something, so fuel economy is relative to the task at hand. In over 1,400-miles of cold, winter driving, our Granite Crystal Limited returned 18.5-mpg. On the days when the mercury climbed above freezing, the on-board computer generated mileage over 21-mpg.

For truck buyers out of the market for more than four or five years, you will be shocked at the level of content in the Ram. From the 17-speaker Harman Kardon audio system (fabulous), to the heated and cooled leather seating (excellent), to the surround-view camera system (how did we live without?), to the massive, 12-inch, iPad-like vertical touchscreenthe largest in the segment, the Ram is bristling with features and technology.

Safety is available too; blind-spot detection, cross-traffic alerts, parking sensors front and rear, front camera, dynamic adaptable cruise control, forward collision braking system, plus remote starting are all part of the Limited offering, while other expected pieces like push-button access and ignition, heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats are also included. With power-folding running boards, a pickup bed camera (extremely handy!), plus a trailer reverse guidance system, the Ram Limited stretches the boundaries of what pickup buyers can expect.

Options include a 12,000-pound Warn ZEON power winch, a 50-gallon fuel tank, as well as a trailer-tire pressure monitoring system.

Ram Heavy Duty pricing starts at $33,645 for a 4X2 regular cab. Add $2,900 for 4X4. A Tradesman Crew Cab 4X4 starts at $40,395, then climbing past Lone Star, Big Horn, Laramie, and Power Wagon to our Limited Crew Cab which starts at $68,090. Our sample truck carried a Monroney sticker of $82,290 with the $9,100 diesel engine option.

High points; the Ram proved to be much more compliant down the road than reasonably expected. The truck tracked perfectly on the highway and drove with an ease that was downright impressive. The interior was richly finished and detailed like no rival has yet achieved, an isolation chamber for space travel. The audio system is special, the turning lamps up front a boon to rural road travel, the heated seating and wheel excellent company on zero-degree mornings.

Complaints are few. As much as the 12-inch screen stretches the paradigm in trucksit is massiveit was often difficult to make changes with one finger-strike as a touchpad lacks any tactile feedback. There are plenty of redundant buttons for climate and other repetitive controls, yet it felt like a screen this big should be canted or rotated towards the driver more, an angle that would make both visibility and access easier. Perhaps mounting this much screen on a movable pedestal could be the next step.

The Ram is worthy of its honors. There is a lot here for discerning pickup buyers. Just remember to call it Ram.

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Spains reeling tourism industry objects to travel restrictions – EL PAS in English

Posted: at 8:00 am

The authorities in Spain, where coronavirus cases have fallen and a gradual deescalation is underway, are now concerned that international travel could cause a new spike in infections.

In a bid to prevent a fresh Covid-19 crisis in one of the worlds hardest-hit countries, the government has instituted self-quarantine orders for international travelers and it would also like to limit airline passenger seat occupancy.

But these travel restrictions have been met with opposition from the tourism industry, which is already reeling from the effects of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

Airlines are refusing to leave seats unfilled because it is not profitable, while the hotel industry has complained about the 14-day quarantine for international travelers that will go into effect on Friday, saying it will further damage tourism.

Health authorities would like to force airlines to space out passengers, which would mean operating only partially full flights. Fernando Simn, the head of the Health Ministrys Coordination Center for Health Alerts, has recommended leaving middle seats unfilled, although he also admitted that he didnt know what kind of an impact this might have on airlines bottom line.

In recent days, several airline passengers have reported packed cabins where social distancing was impossible to maintain, including on a Sunday flight in the Canary Islands operated by Iberia Express. One woman on an Air Europa plane that flew on Monday between two destinations in the Balearic Islands has also filed a formal complaint with the Civil Guard.

But there is no legal provision forcing airlines to cap flights in either the state of alarm decreed in Spain in mid-March or in the regulations that followed. The sole exception is flights between islands in the Balearics and the Canaries, which must fly at a maximum of 50% capacity.

Sources in the executive said they are aware of this gap, and that they are waiting for the European Commission to issue common air-safety rules. Commissioners will meet on Wednesday to try to hammer out a protocol that protects passenger health while ensuring that airlines can remain financially afloat. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will later draft the rules and recommendations that emerge from the Commission.

One of the ideas under consideration is to establish air corridors between countries with a similar risk of contagion, so citizens can travel within that space without restrictions. This would eliminate the self-quarantine requirement. The EU is also considering letting airlines give travel vouchers instead of refunds to passengers whose flights were cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdowns.

Javier Gndara, president of the Airlines Association (ALA), wants to see a common EU agreement and warns about extending the quarantine orders beyond June. The state of alarm is due to end on May 24, but Prime Minister Pedro Snchez would like to push it to June 29, if he can obtain the congressional backing for it. This would in turn prolong the quarantine orders until that date.

Introducing restrictions does not help, and the risk here is for [the quarantine] to extend beyond the state of alarm. If so, the impact would be brutal, because nobody will want to travel to Spain just to be stuck in a hotel for 14 days, said Gndara.

The industry association Exceltur has also expressed concern at a measure that proves that tourism has not been taken into account in the governments agenda of strategic decisions. Its vice-president, Jos Luis Zoreda, said it is to be expected that if German or British citizens considering travel to Spain this summer read the news about the quarantine, they will book their vacation elsewhere.

Spanish airports operator Aena is working on a new protocol for airports, considered potential hotspots of coronavirus transmission. A draft seen by EL PAS includes barring people without flight tickets from accessing the terminals to send off their friends or relatives. There would be exceptions for people assisting unaccompanied minors or other passengers requiring help.

The document lists around 30 measures aimed at enhancing airport safety, including social-distancing guidelines and spaced-out seating in waiting areas. Aena is hoping to have the measures ready by June, when deescalation in Spain is scheduled to be completed, ending mobility restrictions.

English version by Susana Urra.

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Virgin Galactic Is Grounded with No Profit and Little Revenue – InvestorPlace

Posted: at 8:00 am

Many investors regard Virgin Galactic(NYSE:SPCE) as the first publicly traded space tourism company. So far this year SPCE stock is up about 37%, but that number tells only half the story of the spaceflight companys shares.

Source: Christopher Penler / Shutterstock.com

SPCE is part of Sir Richard Bransons Virgin Group. He had previously foundedVirgin Atlantic Airwayswhich itself is owned in part byDelta Air Lines(NYSE:DAL). Bransons Virgin Galactic went public via a reverse merger in October 2019 at an opening price of $12.34. On Feb. 20, SPCE skyrocketed to an all-time high of $42.49.

Since then it has been volatile with a downward bias like so many other stocks. It now sits below $16, a decline of about 57% from its February peak.

Broader indices have been buoyed in recent weeks by potential positive news regarding the gradual lifting of the novel coronavirus lockdown as well as the hopes for the development of an effective vaccine. However, as states and businesses are looking to return to some form of normality, questions are also emerging as to whether there may be a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Therefore, there may be some short-term profit-taking in SPCE stock. Yet investors with a long-term horizon whose portfolios can also weather further volatility may consider buying into the shares of this exciting venture.

According to recent research by of Scott Winter and Justin Trombley of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Technological advancements in space travel have brought the concept of private, commercial space transportation closer to reality. Companies such as Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are working to offer commercial, low orbit space flights to paying customers, and SpaceX is even considering private trips to Mars.

Virgin Galactic defines itself as the worlds first commercial spaceline and vertically integrated aerospace company.

On a side note, InvestorPlace readers may also be interested to know that Blue Origin is fully funded by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN). Similarly SpaceX is the brainchild of Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla(NASDAQ:TSLA). Each of these three businesses have different structures and financing approaches to commercial space flight.

Going forward, SPCE management plans to run a regular schedule of spaceflights for private individuals and researchers from its operational hub and spaceport in New Mexico.

Within this new decade, space tourism could become a market of $3 billion. And by default, the prospects for SPCE stock could berisky, yet exciting and rewarding.

However, Virgin Group is about to sell 12% of its stake in Virgin Galactic. The aim is to free up capital to financially support the groups other travel and tourism related businesses, especially Virgin Atlantic Airways, which has been adversely affected by the viral outbreak.

This sale is likely to put pressure on SPCE stock price. In the coming months, Branson may have to sell even more shares to save Virgin Atlantic Airways.

On May 5, SPCE released its financial results for the first quarter. It was the second quarterly report as a public company.

The company reported revenues of $238,000, generated by providing engineering services, and net loss of $60 million. It reported having cash and cash equivalents of $419 million as of March 31.

In comparison, in the fourth quarter of 2019, SPCE reported revenues of $529,000 and a net loss of $73 million. So in Q1, Virgin Galactic managed to narrow the losses by $13 million.

The companys reusable suborbital vehicles are designed to reach space altitudes on frequent, affordable, and safe suborbital voyages. Each ship will have two pilots. Virgin Galactic plans to carry up to six passengers in its spacecraft at a time, charging $250,000 per person. As of April 29, more than 9,100 signed up to express interest.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Virgin Galactic was aiming for completing the worlds first commercial spacecraft into suborbital space in 2020. Now, that timetable does not look so clear, it said.

The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Companys full year financial results and test flight program will depend on future developments, such as the ultimate duration and scope of the outbreak, the timing and impact of future stay-at-home orders and other government mandates, and the pace at which the Company can resume normal course operations.

Thus, itd be highly difficult to assume that passengers would be able to attend a pre-flight training or travel to space for fun in the coming months.

In the past decade, space tourism became a topic of media interest, in part due to the technological developments in the aerospace sector and in part due to reduced costs of access to space. And with the 2019 IPO of Virgin Galactic, now it is part of investor interest.

However, as a result of the global pandemic, many businesses and states have had to shut down or decrease operations to a bare minimum. It will be a while before anyone is going anywhere, including space, for pleasure. Virgin Galactics space tourism timetable looks questionable at this point.

Its be likely that we can expect a delay of at least several months or even a year for the first flight into space. I do not expect SPCE stock to go back to the February highs any time soon.

However, if youre ready to buy into the space story and are happy to wait several years, then SPCE stock may be appropriate for your portfolio and you may consider buying the dips. Id be consider investing as the price goes toward $12.50.

TezcanGecgilhas worked in investment management for over two decades in the U.S. and U.K. In addition to formal higher education in the field, shehasalso completed all 3 levels of the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) examination. Her passion is for options trading based on technical analysis of fundamentally strong companies. She especially enjoys setting up weekly covered calls for income generation.As of this writing, she did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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Astronaut on how to survive isolation, and the future of space travel – Business Insider – Business Insider

Posted: May 14, 2020 at 6:03 pm

Scott Kelly is a retired NASA astronaut who has been to space four times, including a 340-day trip on the International Space Station. He is the author of the book "Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery"

Kelly spoke with Business Insider about his experience in space and shares lessons he learned that also apply to the isolation many are struggling with during the coronavirus pandemic. He also shares his thoughts on the future of space travel. Following is a transcript of the video.

Sara Silverstein: Before we get your tips, as a lot of us are dealing with being cooped up in our own homes after many, many weeks, I don't want to try to compare the two. So let's give a little bit of perspective and how much space did you have while you were living in space, and what limitations did you have as far as diet and water?

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly enjoys his first drink from the new ISSpresso machine aboard the International Space Station on May 3, 2016. NASA/Reuters Scott Kelly: Well, space-wise I actually had more space on the space station than I do in my apartment here in Houston. It's a big place. Now, having said that, it's filled with a lot of stuff, but you have more usable room when you can float above your head, use the space towards the ceiling. But there are a lot of similarities between this situation, being isolated, kind of being cut off a little bit from society, as what I experienced on the International Space Station. And one of them is the fact that we are all part of the same mission now. One thing that makes getting through your time in space easier is recognizing that you're there for a reason, an important reason, a purpose. And that's the same case in this situation. We are following the guidance, the guidelines as best. At least we should be doing that, because that's our job and it's our responsibility not only to ourselves, but to our family, but also to every other citizen of this planet.

Silverstein: And so talk us through some of the tricks you learned to pass the time while you were stuck in the space station.

Kelly: Yeah. So I flew a six month flight, nearly six months, before I flew for a year. And when I did that, as I was getting towards the end, I was feeling a little bit of anxiety, like the walls were closing and I was ready for it to be done. And then when I got home, I had the opportunity to fly in space again, but this time for twice as long. Initially it didn't appeal to me, but I thought about it some more. I wanted to find space again. I wanted it to be different and I wanted it to be more challenging. And I came to the conclusion that this was the flight for me. But I went into it with a lot of thought and consideration for how I could get to the end with as much energy and enthusiasm as I had in the beginning.

So I came up with a plan. And part of my plan was maintaining a very, very rigid, rigid schedule. Easy to do when you're working for NASA and they build your schedule, but taking that very seriously as a schedule that has a variety of activities on it during the week, from work to taking care of your environment, making sure it's clean. We have to do that now. In this situation, I kind of treat the front door of my house kind of like an airlock right now where the bad stuff stays outside, good stuff comes inside. Those two will not cross. So having this schedule that has time for rest, time for work, consistent sleep times, exercise. In this case, in this situation at least we can go outside and get some light and some fresh air, which is important. Couldn't do that in space. But the schedule was important. Having a weekend that's different from the weekends was critical because it gave something for me to look forward to at the end of the week.

I tried not to count the days I was there. I definitely didn't count down. And I think it's important we do that in this situation because this situation is ... Some people think this is over, this is not over. We will be living in this new reality in some form or the other for quite some time. So I look at this like this is my life. This is what I have to do because it's my job, which is following the guidance and the direction that we get. It will be over someday. Not sure when it is, but I am not going to count the days. I could not tell you how many weeks I've been doing this. I can't even tell you what month I started this, I don't think, because it's not the way I look at it, it's not the way I want to look at it.

Silverstein: And how do you differentiate the weekends from the weekdays in space?

Kelly: Well, in space, one of the days you devote to cleaning the place in space, virus and bacteria grow easily. You put your hands on a lot of things, your immune system is suppressed very much like this situation. When you're in isolation, anxiety, fatigue suppresses your immune system. Same thing in space. So on the weekends we clean all house and then we leave Sunday for just rest. So yeah, our weekend days are structured much differently. Now, I understand, I get it. Everyone's not in the same situation. I have advice and some people this advice is not important to because they're worried about when they're going to be able to get some money to feed their kids. I get it. So these are just the things that worked for me. And maybe some people could take some of this advice and have it help them through the situation. But I absolutely recognize that everyone's situation is different.

Silverstein: Absolutely. And you've mentioned before journaling was something that you did regularly while you were in space. Did that help you get through the time?

Kelly: Well, I did that mostly because I felt like I might want to write a book after it and I wanted the experience and the thoughts and ideas to be fresh. So I decided to write them in my free time on the space station. But I also found that it was kind of a cathartic thing. When you're dealing with a challenging situation, especially if you have no one to talk to about it, it's important, I think to admit that it's hard and you write that down. By writing it down, I think you're admitting to yourself that this is challenging because this is, this is a very challenging situation. And I'm sure a lot of people are scared, whether it's getting the virus or how am I going to pay my bills, what's going on with my job? If you have a job, will I lose my job? I mean, this is scary stuff. Understandable. Flying in space was scary. There were scary things about it.

What I've learned flying in space four times is the fear sometimes allows you to focus, but if you dwell on it, it will prevent you from making the right decision and doing the right thing. So I always to kind of tamp down the fear, I would focus on the things that I could control, which was the spacecraft, my job, what I was doing, ignoring the stuff I had no control over. Like is the thing going to Is the rocket going to blow up for no reason that I had any ability to prevent it from happening? So same situation here. I mean, there's stuff we can control and stuff we can't, knowing what that is.

I think also one thing NASA was good at was always thinking about what is the next worst possible failure? And I think people need to be considering that. What actions do I take if one of my family members get sick, who do I call? What do I do? If I lose my job if I can't pay my rent, where can I get relief? I mean, even if you don't need it, you need to be thinking about, well what if I do need it next week or the week after, so you're prepared.

Silverstein: And you were there for the entire time with your Russian counterpart, Mikhail, and it sounds like you two have a pretty good friendship. Did you ever have disagreements while you were out there together, and how did you deal with that?

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko spent 340 days at the International Space Station together. NASA Kelly: Yeah, so over the course of the year I was there, Mikhail and I were there for the whole time, and we had 13 other people come and go. I have never had an argument with Mikhail ever about anything.

He is just like one of the nicest guys in the world. I can't see him getting into an argument with anybody. I have had disagreements with people in space and a lot of times those disagreements can be avoided if you bring up issues early. I think in this situation, we're living in maybe close quarters and just spending a long time in the same place with people that you generally don't spend that much time in a single place with. There can be opportunities for conflict, and one thing they teach us at NASA and that I've always practiced myself as much as I could is if there are things that are bothering you with your crew members or if something that I'm doing is bothering other people, you'll need to recognize it's better to talk about it early rather than it to develop into a bigger issue.

My wife was telling me, I guess the other day she kind of got a little bit frustrated with what I do with the dishes and I think I do the dishes. I certainly put them in the sink, I put them in the dishwasher sometimes, I take them out sometimes. But what I wasn't doing was following the approved system, which was her system, which is actually a really good system. The only thing is she never told me what the system was. So I did it a different way and it turns out it bothered her. But at least eventually she explained to me what it was. And I was like, "If I would've known that 10 years ago, it wouldn't have bothered you for the last 10 years because I would've just did it how you did it." Because it makes sense to me. It's just, it was never explained to me.

So I think it's important that people share their thoughts and feelings, understand we're all different. We all have different skills in this kind of situation. Help each other out. I always found that on the space station, the facility you're living in is a shared space. So you're all kind of responsible for keeping it clean and so I always felt like if I just did a tiny bit more than was expected of me, and if everyone always just did a little bit more of what's expected from them, that made everything run very smoothly. You don't want someone doing all the cleaning and the other person sitting on the couch, that's not good for anybody. Even the person sitting on a couch because it's not going to last. It'll create conflict. So I think always trying to contribute just a little bit more than you think you should is a good approach.

Silverstein: Well, I think that's very relatable to a lot of us right now. And I have to say, I'm listening to your book right now, "Endurance." And one of the things that struck me about it was that you were not a very good student early in your life and you became an astronaut. And right now it seems like a time that school is being rethought. Is there a way to make school more either rewarding or appealing to people like you that will one day turn out to be overachievers but are not recognized by the traditional school system?

Kelly: Yeah. So for me it was impossible to pay attention. I always had the best intentions to do well. The start of the school year, I'm like, "Okay, this is the year I'm going to get straight As." And three days into it, already three days behind on homework, wasn't able to pay attention in class, game over. Try again next year. And I was always smart enough that I could get by Cs without doing anything, without even paying attention in class. Or maybe it was just easier then. I think if I was in school today, I probably would have flunked out, but it seems harder now. But what I found was for me it was impossible to pay attention until I found something that I wanted to do so badly that I had to force myself to become a good student.

That was inspiration I had, I found in Tom Wolfe's book, "The Right Stuff." Inspired me to be a fighter pilot, a test pilot, and even an astronaut. And I guess my point is all kids are different. They all need inspiration and they learn in different ways. So I think it's kind of ... There's some good that can come out of this and, and one good thing maybe recognizing that education is going to look different and it could look different in a way that makes it better. And I don't know what that is. If it's going to school a few days for the social interaction, and then doing it at home online. Maybe that's good for some kids, maybe not for others, but trying to have it evolve, and cater to all different types of learners, because kids learn in different ways.

Silverstein: And what do you think about the commercialization of space travel? Do you think that it's a positive, it will get us further faster? And do you still think that astronauts should be overseen or regulated by the government?

Kelly: No, I think it was a positive thing. I think it's great when you have companies that are investing their own money in something that I feel is very important and, and strongly about. Yeah, I think it's a great thing. We need to do it with the appropriate amount of attention to detail and safety. There will be significant risk in the beginning, but as we get more experienced with it, it will become safer. Kind of like commercial aviation was in the early days of aviation. It was expensive and it was risky and that's what what space flight is going to be. But yeah, I'm all behind any commercial space flight. I think it's great. Flying in space is one of the greatest things I've ever done in my life and I wish everyone had the opportunity to do it. I'm not selfish. Let everyone go to space.

Silverstein: I would love to go to space. When do you think we'll get to Mars? Can you give me an estimate?

Former NASA astronauts Mark Kelly (left) and Scott Kelly (right) speak during the 2017 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on December 4, 2016 in Mountain View, California. Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images Kelly: I've never been able to give that estimate. We can go to Mars. I'll quote my brother, give him a bone here, but he always He's got a good quote and he says, "Going to Mars is not rocket science. It's political science."

We have the technology to do that. We have to learn some other things a little bit. How to take care and protect the crew from radiation as an example, but it's more of an issue of investment and a desire, investment, money available. Before this pandemic and the resulting economic impacts we've had, I'd probably, if you would have pushed me on it, I probably could have given you a number that is probably not the same number I would give to you today.

But I still think it's important. I think we will one day get there. I hope I see it in my lifetime. I think it's going to be a great adventure for not only the people that are involved, but for the people that are watching on their couch. And I hope there's some kid out there today, probably not watching this show, but probably alive and wondering what they're going to do in their life, having no idea that it's going to be walking on Mars someday, and that's going to be a great moment.

Silverstein: And one of our viewers wants to know, do you think it's a good idea to have a space station on the moon?

Kelly: Yeah. The moon is an incredible place. It seems like it was built there just for us to experiment on. And I would love to see a lunar base, but again, I think it's a priority that would ... A financial investment that would be in competition with going to Mars. So we have to just make some tough choices. And if building a base on the moon would take away from being able to go to Mars someday, maybe it's not worth it. I don't know. It's a hard decision and I think a lot of people have to put a lot ... A lot of people that are smarter than me have to look into this and decide what the best thing to do is.

Silverstein: And I saw that Tom Cruise is planning to shoot a movie in the International Space Station. What do you think about that?

Kelly: I think Tom Cruise is a great actor. I've probably watched most of, if not all of his movies, and I'd watch that movie.

Silverstein: And before I let you go, I need to know, just based on the way that you write about your life and this quest for risk, what is the next adventure for your life?

Kelly: Hey, though about Tom cruise though, right? So I think what he really needs to realize is this is not a movie. I'm sure he realizes that. And it is really, I mean the highway to the danger zone because launching on a rocket is pretty risky. They sometimes blow up and kill people. So as long as everyone understands that, that that might happen, then I think it'll be great. It'll be interesting to see how he films a movie without his normal crew of probably 100.

Silverstein: Absolutely.

Kelly: But what was your last question?

Silverstein: And what is the next adventure for you?

Kelly: Right now I'm just navigating my way through this new reality. My primary job was as a motivational public speaker, so I would travel around the country and the world talking in person to large groups of people in small rooms. And that is going to happen again, I'm just not sure when. So I've been doing a lot of stuff like this. One thing we're really excited about is we're building a house and we're moving to Colorado. So building a house is normally ... I'm not building it with a hammer, I've got a contractor. And that's normally a tough job, but it's even tougher now because of this pandemic. So we're spending a lot of time doing that. And then once this whole situation is past us, and I think hopefully we can look back on it and it's going to be not a whole lot of good that's going to come out of it, but maybe we can look back on it and we learned some things and we're better for those things that we've learned. I'll find some other exciting things to do with my life.

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Virgin Galactic Is a Solid Long-Term Bet on Space Travel Demand – InvestorPlace

Posted: at 6:03 pm

Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) stock has been out of this world.

Source: Tun Pichitanon / Shutterstock.com

In fact, since bottoming out at $6.90 late last year, SPCE stock blasted to a high of $42.49 just months later all on the idea that a global space industry could quickly become a multi-trillion dollar industry.

However, after flying too high, too fast, SPCE stock plummeted after posting a loss of $73 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. Analysts, including Credit Suisse analyst Robert Spingarn, said the firm could no longer recommend the stock after such a hefty run higher. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas noted Even Spaceships Must Return to Earth after downgrading the stock to a hold rating.

Virgin Galactic fell even more on news Sir Richard Branson plans to sell $500 million worth of SPCE stock. However, the sale is nothing to be too alarmed about. Branson is reportedly selling to help prop up his airline and leisure assets, which have been crushed by the novel coronavirus.

Even with all of the negativity, I still believe Virgin Galactic could revisit early 2020 highs. All thanks to sky-high space travel demand, and a recent deal with the folks over at NASA.

Granted, earnings are nothing to write home about just yet.

The company posted a loss of $60 million, or 30 cents a share in the first quarter, as compared to a loss of $42.5 million, or 30 cents, year-over-year. Revenue fell to $238,000 from $1.8 million, as well. Meanwhile, analysts were only looking for a loss of 15 cents on sales of $700,000.

While Virgin Galactic isnt pulling in great numbers just yet, dont write it off. With its One Small Step space travel initiative, its already received 400 deposits payments from individuals in 44 countries, which represents more than $100 million of potential future revenue.

Analysts are also bullish. Morgan Stanleys Adam Jonas, despite his calls for a modest correction, is maintaining an overweight rating and $24 price target.

Despite the modest adjustments to our space tourism [discounted cash-flow model], the company maintains a healthy cash position (~$500 million) and its expected ~$16 million per month cash burn position it well to navigate any near-term headwinds, he noted in late March.

Virgin Galactic and NASA just signed a Space Act Agreement to develop high-speed technologies.

In partnership with NASA, Virgin Galactic believes there are significant opportunities to apply higher speeds to drive technological development to allow industries to adapt to the changing economic and ecological environment. The collaboration will aim to inform the development of national strategies using economic and technical foundations with a focus on sustainability.

Plus, as InvestorPlace analyst Matt McCall notes, SPCEs status as a pure play alone will drive some optimism. And theres a real business here. Virgin Galactic is charging $250,000 a flight. But there are, well, millions of millionaires who will pay that sum for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And as the company grows and improves, those costs will come down.

Granted, Virgin Galactic is a speculative bet at the moment. But Im willing to bet that if it can help transform air travel at hypersonic speeds, create more deals with NASA and get off the ground to meet sizable space travel demand, itll be well worth the investment.

In my opinion, the safest move is to take a small speculative bet on SPCE stock. Buy it. Forget about it, and check back on it next year.

Ian Cooper, an InvestorPlace.com contributor, has been analyzing stocks and options for web-based advisories since 1999. As of this writing, Ian Cooper did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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Meet The Women Of The San Diego Art Prize – KPBS

Posted: at 6:03 pm

The exhibition of work by the four finalists, originally set to open last weekend, has been officially rescheduled forSeptember

Credit: Griselda Rosas, Melissa Walter, Kaori Fukuyama, Alanna Airitam

Above: Clockwise from top left: work by Griselda Rosas, Melissa Walter, Kaori Fukuyama and Alanna Airitam, this year's finalists for the San Diego Art Prize.

The 2019 San Diego Art Prize has been in the works for so long, it seems strange to keep including the "2019." Now, the show of works by the 2019 finalists scheduled to open last weekend has been officially postponed until the fall. Opening September 3 at Bread & Salt, the show will run through October 24 and announce the eventual winner.

Organized by San Diego Visual Arts Network, the finalists were announced in October 2019. Earlier that year, they had also announced an overhaul from their previous model, used since the prize's inception 14 years ago. The project paired two emerging artists with two established artists, who would then produce new work together throughout the year to prepare for an exhibition. For the 2018 prize, Anne Mudge chose emerging artist Erin Dace Behling, and Bob Matheny selected emerging artist Max Daily.

In 2019, when Chi Essary took over as curator, the move was made to eliminate the pairings with established artists, have each of the four artists involved be emerging artists four finalists and each of them win some cash. The four for this general "year" (a year that will always somehow smudge our history books with its pre-, during- and post-pandemic signposts) all happen to be women: Alanna Airitam, Kaori Fukuyama, Griselda Rosas and Melissa Walter. And you can meet them all here.

San Diego photographer Alanna Airitam draws on the old Dutch masters their skillful use of light, the regal poses that seem to not just exude art but define it. In some ways making a broad statement for representation and in other ways reclaiming what counts as art, her portraiture and still life photography pull from centuries of work.

Airitam's work is as rich with symbols and objects as it is with light and characters. Airitam opened an exhibition at the Athenaeum Art Center the weekend the coronavirus shutdowns began. Read about her recent work here and the way she spins newness fresh, unexpected, speculative and surreal elements into her photography.

San Diego visual artist Kaori Fukuyama's work is the kind of art that reminds you that light exists. Ranging from oil on canvas to ink and paper, fishing wire-like monofilament suspended from the walls to light refracting through plexiglass, what unifies her vast collection of work is its exploration of the interplay between light, shadow and color.

Read about Fukuyama's recent solo exhibition, her high-profile mural in North Park and how her work is often a response to the last piece or series of works she's created.

Griselda Rosas is, it seems, suddenly everywhere. And so is her work. The cross-border artist's broad repertoire from large hanging sculptures suspended from ropes to mixed media pieces she embroiders at her kitchen table after her son goes to sleep is specifically inspired and informed by place. The origins of the materials she uses and where they've traveled to seem as important to her as the shapes they take in her works.

Read about Rosas' big year now partly interrupted and the way each of her works represents a series of migrations.

San Diego visual artist (and longtime illustrator for NASA) Melissa Walters work is subtle, often inviting a viewer to lean in close. Some are compact, crisp, white sheets of paper cut and layered, and sometimes, the only shape or form is found in the relief or the shadows. Other times, she forms massive installations, showcasing her unmistakable inclination towards white paper, shadows and shapes but serving up splashes of color, film, metal and other materials here and there.

Her new works mark a shift for her: not just studying science, but considering our role in it. "Rather than think specifically on celestial objects or scientific theory, I really started thinking of the morality of space travel," Walter said. Read more about the origins and transformations of her process and the work she's doing during the pandemic.

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Julia Dixon Evans Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

I write the weekly KPBS Arts newsletter and edit and produce the KPBS Arts calendar. I am interested in getting San Diegans engaged with the diversity of art and culture made by the creative people who live here.

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Visual Artist Melissa Walter Makes Sense Of The Stars – KPBS

Posted: at 6:03 pm

San Diego Art Prize finalist finds inspiration in her work for NASA and wont let the pandemics uncertainty stopher

Credit: Michael Andrew

Above: "Gravitational Lensing" by Melissa Walter, created during her artist residency at Bread & Salt in 2017.

Being inspired by the night sky is the stuff of poets or science fiction stories. But San Diego visual artist Melissa Walter isn't just waxing poetic about supernovas and neutron stars. As a long-time science illustrator for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, she knows her stuff.

When Walter first started working for NASA, it was just a job. She didnt have a science background, but stuck with it for fifteen years. I had this really long career working with Chandra, doing their visuals, promotional materials, educational materials, said Walter. She finally decided to shift gears and focus on her own art practice. I honestly was like, okay, I am not gonna deal with supernova and black holes ever again.

Suffice it to say, she spoke too soon.

It wasnt until several years later that she began resuming the connections between her prior work and her art. She remembers working on one piece and realizing it resembled a neutron star, another a supernova. It prompted her to read up on neutron stars again" to get her facts in order, but she still didnt see it as the seed of a new style of art. This was just a one-time thing, she had convinced herself.

But it was the connections to those objects that she had been working with for so many years at NASA that drove her to continue. She kept finding them in her art, and realized that space and its science was a fountain of inspiration.

Walters work is subtle, often inviting a viewer to lean in close. Some are compact, crisp, white sheets of paper cut and layered, and sometimes, the only shape or form is found in the relief or the shadows. Other times, she forms massive installations, showcasing her unmistakable inclination towards white paper, shadows and shapes but serving up splashes of color, film, metal and other materials here and there.

And then theres the science. Each piece, regardless of its galactic origins, brims with a sense of heuristic curiosity and calculation that seems at times at odds with its organic beauty but then again, that brings us back to the poets and their stars again.

Last summer, Walter showed what she described as her most ambitious work yet in Barrio Logans ICE Gallery. "Of All Things" was a large-scale installation work, involving hundreds of small tetrahedrons, cut, folded, glued, shaded and individually affixed directly to the museums walls by Walter and the occasional volunteer shed posted a request for folding buddies on social media early on, vaguely; the unveiling of the finished piece had a long-awaited secrecy that could've toed the line to hype, but instead just seemed to give the San Diego arts community a chance to cheer on one of the scene's biggest cheerleaders, fold-by-fold.

Shes recently shown her work across the globe, including a show in Copenhagen and even her first piece of performance art in a virtual exhibition with Pluto Projects where some works still remain for sale via auction.

Walter has worked from home since 2002 her day job and her art studio so the pandemic hasn't affected her work much. "Being home all the time is not a new thing for me. Im still able to be productive and get stuff done," she said. But one impact is that Walter is one of four official finalists for this year's San Diego Art Prize, and the program was set to launch a special group show of brand new work from each of the four finalists all women at the Athenaeum this month.

Walter had already finished the work she intended to show for the Art Prize. Her new works mark a shift for her: not just studying science, but considering our role in it. "Rather than think specifically on celestial objects or scientific theory, I really started thinking of the morality of space travel."

The shift came from a place of process, too, and represents something much more visceral than any other works she's done in the past. "I think even before we were all sort of locked in, I wasn't feeling comforted anymore by getting my ruler out and trying to be precise and clean and perfect with my work." She's also ruled out the type of gruelling, time-intensive installation work from "Of All Things," for the time being, unless they're commissions.

For the San Diego Art Prize, curator Chi Essary said this week that the exhibition will be rescheduled until the fall, set to open September 3 at Bread & Salt. This year's prize will veer away from the project's historical format, where they paired two emerging artist finalists with established artists for a collaborative residency. This year, all four finalists are emerging artists and each receives a cash prize and group exhibition, culminating in more for the eventual winner.

RELATED: Meet The Women Of The San Diego Art Prize

Whether Walter's already finished, space morality pieces will be what end up in that show remains to be seen. "I'm curious to know myself!" she said.

The uncertainty of COVID-19's impact on the industry also isn't new for Walter. "Being an artist, your life is up in the air all the time, you know? You never really know where the opportunities are gonna come from or if they're gonna work out," she said.

Maybe it's Walter's science side talking, but that uncertainty breeds a pragmatic approach to creating art anyway. "It's part of being creative; we're problem solvers," she said. "We hit a wall and we climb it, or go through it, or build a house out of it. That's what we do."

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Julia Dixon Evans Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

I write the weekly KPBS Arts newsletter and edit and produce the KPBS Arts calendar. I am interested in getting San Diegans engaged with the diversity of art and culture made by the creative people who live here.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.

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Astronauts experimented with Nickelodeon’s slime in space – CNN

Posted: at 6:03 pm

Even though things got as messy as can be expected, the biggest surprise of all was the strange and fascinating ways that Nickelodeon's famous green goo reacted in the absence of gravity.

The results of the experiment could have implications for handling liquids in space, including processing carbon dioxide and wastewater, watering plants grown on the space station and even life support systems on future deep space missions.

Nickelodeon sent about two liters of slime to the space station last summer and Koch, Parmitano and Morgan experimented with it for two hours in the space station's galley, or kitchen.

Koch has childhood memories of watching people get slimed on reruns of "You Can't Do That on Television" on Nickelodeon, but she never imagined she would be testing out the dynamics of slime in space.

While Koch and her fellow astronauts had fun with the slime, they were also surprised by the scientific observations they made during the activities.

"It's not often for your job on the space station that you're given a couple of hours to play with slime, with the ground teams directing you to shoot your friend with slime from a syringe or fill a balloon with slime," Koch told CNN.

"My favorite thing about that experiment is that it highlighted the concept of curiosity leading to discovery. This is discovery-based science. It's why we seek knowledge."

Liquids in space

On Earth, liquids are governed by gravity. But in space and the absence of gravity, bubbles don't rise, droplets don't fall, and liquid doesn't flow the way we're used to observing them on our home turf.

Think about a simple factor of your morning routine, such as pouring a cup of coffee. In space, you can't pour coffee into a cup, and you can't drink coffee from a cup because the coffee wouldn't slide out of the cup and down your throat.

Weislogel has a long history of conducting fluid experiments on the space station. So when Nickelodeon said they wanted to send slime to space, they worked with Weislogel and Rihana Mungin, a Portland State University mechanical engineering graduate research assistant.

Slime is considered a non-Newtonian fluid, which means that its viscosity changes in reaction to different forces.

Viscosity is the thickness of a liquid, defined as the resistance to motion when force is applied. Water is a Newtonian fluid because it follows Newton's law of viscosity, meaning the thickness doesn't change if force is applied.

Compared to water, slime is 20,000 times more viscous, or thicker, because it's a polymer substance that's part solid, part liquid. When the force of gravity is no longer acting on water, surface tension (the force on the surface of a liquid that causes it to act elastically) takes over.

The slime experiment is an example of fluid dynamics, with eight different demonstrations to showcase the properties of slime in the absence of gravity. A set of hydrophobic paddles, or paddles with water-repellent coating, were also sent along with the slime.

"Interestingly, we define liquid on Earth as something that takes the shape of its container," Koch said. "Water just turns into a sphere in microgravity, so we've had to remake definitions of different kinds of matter in space. This experiment is a great demonstration of how microgravity can contribute to our understanding of things on Earth, especially the things we take for granted."

Getting slimy

Slime has never been to the space station, so the astronauts tested it in a variety of ways. And they had fun doing it.

They started by releasing a similar amount of slime and water into the gallery. Both formed floating blobs, which the astronauts then tried to spin. While the wobbly water blob spun continuously unless it was interrupted by the paddle, the slime actually stretched out into a solid-looking oblong shape and rotated. It sprang back to a sphere when the rotation was stopped.

They also used dental floss in an attempt to cut the slime, which didn't work, and pumped air into a slime blob to create a slime bubble.

Parmitano got slimed when Koch shot a jet of slime through a slime blob floating in front of him. Koch was also slimed when a jet of slime was shot at one of the paddles held at an angle and redirected toward her.

Koch expected to be slimed again when slime-filled balloons were popped. The balloons peeled back, but the slime maintained its shape as if it were still cocooned by the balloon. Perhaps the biggest surprise occurred when Parmitano put slime on the paddles. The slime appeared to stick to the paddle despite its water-repllent coating, and he created 3D waves in the slime by moving the paddle up and down.

Then, without being directed to, Parmitano brought two slime-coated paddles together. When he pulled them apart, a long "liquid bridge" of slime formed, then broke into five perfectly placed satellite droplets, Mungin said.

This is something Mungin once saw in Weislogel's class, but on a tiny scale within a thousandth of a second beneath a microscope.

"We were able to see that exact phenomenon with this large and bright liquid in free-floating space," Mungin said.

They hung a shower curtain in the galley to keep slime from getting all over the space station, but it still took them an hour to clean up after the experiments were over. Slime is designed to make a mess and cover everything, but luckily, they could capture the floating blobs.

Fun experiment, big insights

In the footage of the experiments, the researchers could study what they call the viscous limit, a benchmark for liquid analysis. The results of the experiments will be published in journals and used when studying liquids on Earth, as well as designing future experiments for the space station.

Slime acts as an analog for other liquids on the space station because if a droplet is small enough, it will act like slime, Weislogel said. And slime is safe, without posing a risk to the astronauts, so they could handle it in the open cabin, Mungin said.

Future experiments on the space station could involve tabletop experiments, rather than being contained in boxes. Understanding how liquids and droplets behave in the open cabin is key to safely carrying out those experiments.

"When gravity is small, our intuition stalls when it comes to liquids in space," Weislogel said. "Without bubbles rising and droplets falling, most of our fluid systems we design for life on Earth don't work."

And if systems dependent on liquids in space fail, it would be more difficult to fix them the farther out missions travel away from Earth. Experiments on the space station involving liquids are critical to pushing technology ahead.

"We have so much to learn in terms of intuition, to build intuition, because we're so used to making spherical tanks and round tubes," Weislogel said. "In space, that's not the way forward."

Weislogel envisioned pump-less systems where liquid moves based on the shape and size of containers, like fuel depots that can orbit the moon and transfer propellant to a spacecraft without a pump. Watering plants on the space station also requires crew intervention, but Weislogel would love to see a system that can grow plants autonomously.

The space station is unique in that it doesn't focus on one kind of science, but what it can offer is something that other labs can't withholding gravity as a variable, Koch said. And the space environment provides a wide spectrum of discovery, she said.

Experiments on the space station have another power: inspiration, especially for kids.

"It's such a unique experience," Mungin said. "It was pure joy sending slime to space and then getting to come back to it by doing experiments with kids who had the same excitement level as mine. The ultimate science can have such an impact on kids looking to go into STEM."

Especially during this unique time as the pandemic keeps students at home and out of their traditional classrooms, Koch hopes that the slime experiments cause kids to look around their homes and environment and ask new questions and "bring their curiosity" to each thing they encounter.

Koch's curiosity, dreams and hard work led her to become an electrical engineer and an astronaut.

"There's trepidation to dream too big," Koch said. "Even if you're thinking about something that seems too lofty, it isn't out of reach."

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