Where top VCs are investing in travel, tourism and hospitality tech – TechCrunch

The venture community has been fixated on travel and hospitality since the dot-com era and early-2000s, when mainstays like Kayak and Airbnb were still Silicon Valley darlings. As the multi-trillion-dollar global travel and hospitality market continues to grow, VCs are still foaming at the mouth for the opportunity to redefine the ways we move and stay around the world.

Despite the cyclical nature of the travel sector, deal flow in travel and hospitality has remained strong and largely stable over the last half-decade, according to data from Crunchbase and PitchBook. Over the same period, weve seen more than a handful of startups in the space reach unicorn status, including companies like Klook, Sonder, Flixbus, Vacasa, Wheels Up, TripActions and others.

High-profile funding rounds also appear to be popping up across travel and hospitalitys various sub-sectors, including bookings, activity marketplaces, short-term rental, tourism and hotel platforms. And companies are continuing to pull in funding rounds in the hundreds of millions to billion-dollar range, such as India hotel network company Oyo, which raised $1.5 billion in funding as recently as December.

While VC investment in the space has remained resilient, some investors are predicting its only a matter of time before the travel startup world hits a downturn. To get a temperature check on the state of the travel market, the outlook for fundraising and which sub-sectors might present the most attractive opportunities for startups today, we asked five leading VCs at firms spanning early to growth stages to share whats exciting them most and where they see opportunity in travel, tourism and hospitality tech:

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Where top VCs are investing in travel, tourism and hospitality tech - TechCrunch

The First Cookies Baked in Space Have Returned to Earth – Smithsonian.com

In December 2019, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano radioed down to Earth from the International Space Station with an important update.

So this time, I do see some browning, Parmitano said, according to Marcia Dunn of the Associated Press. I cant tell you whether its cooked all the way or not, but it certainly doesnt look like cookie dough any more.

Parmitano had been given a unique and unusual task: bake five chocolate chip cookies in a zero-gravity oven and see how the snacks fare. The experiment marked the first time that food had been baked in space from raw ingredients, and may contribute to efforts to make long-haul space missions a little more sweet.

DoubleTree by Hilton provided the pre-made cookie dough, which was sent up to the ISS along with an oven created by Zero G Kitchen. Nanoracks, a leading provider of commercial access to space, also collaborated on the project.

The Zero G Oven, which arrived at the Space Station in November, needed to contend with a number of culinary conundrums, including a limited power supply and, of course, a lack of gravity. According to CNNs Ashley Strickland, the appliance came equipped with a cylindrical chamber and an insertable silicone frame, which surrounded the cookies and stopped them from bouncing around. The design allowed heat to rise more slowly than ovens we use on Earth, and coils directed heat to the chamber's center, explains Strickland.

Here on Earth, chocolate chip cookies by DoubleTree bake in a convection oven for 16 to 18 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Prior to the mission, how the sweet treats would behave in space was anyones guess. Parmitano and his colleagues, among them NASA astronaut Christina Koch, were therefore instructed to bake four cookies for varying times at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and the fifth one at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The goal of the experiment was to determine ideal baking conditions for in-orbit snack times.

The first cookie was popped in the oven for 25 minutes, but it was underbaked. With the second cookie, astronauts noticed a fresh-baked cookie scent after 75 minutes, according to DoubleTree. In the microgravity environment on board the ISS, notes Chelsea Gohd of Space.com, smells spread via individual aroma molecules that travel in whatever direction they are moved; on Earth, aroma molecules collide randomly with air molecules and move in all directions.

The fourth and fifth cookies, which were baked for a whopping 120 minutes and 130 minutes, respectively, were deemed to be the most successful. Prior to the experiment, there had been some speculation that the snacks would take on a more spherical shape in microgravity, but the initial shape and consistency of the DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies appeared the same in space as they are on Earth, according to a DoubleTree statement.

Would the results of this Great Extra Terrestrial Bakeoff satisfy the likes of Prue and Paul? Its hard to say, because no one has had a chance to taste them. The baked cookies were shuttled back to Earth onboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft in early January, and further testing is required to determine if they are safe to eat. Scientists also are not sure why the discrepancy between baking times on Earth and in space was so largelarger, in fact, than experts anticipated.

Theres still a lot to look into to figure out really whats driving that difference, but definitely a cool result, Mary Murphy, a manager for Nanoracks tells the AP, said this week. Overall, I think its a pretty awesome first experiment.

At this point, the first batch of space cookies is perhaps more likely to end up in a museum than in someones belly; DoubleTree has offered to donate one to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. But experts hope that the experiment will add some freshly-baked options to the menu that is currently available in orbitsomething that is particularly important as scientists prepare for extended missions to the moon and Mars.

The reminder of home, the connection with home, I think, cant be overstated, former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, who is a paid spokesman for DoubleTree, tells the AP. From my personal experience food is pretty important for not just nutrition but also for morale in keeping people connected to their home and their Earth.

And dont worry: The ISS astronauts, though surely tempted by the tantalizing smell of cookies they could not eat, were not entirely deprived of baked goods. According to Space.com, a special batch of pre-baked DoubleTree cookies was sent up to the crew in November.

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Meet Vyomitra, Indias First Humanoid To Be Sent To Outer Space – 10 daily

Ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut? It seems like a robot may have beaten us to it. Meet Vyomitra, India's first female humanoid astronaut.

Vyomitra was recently developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to be sent into space multiple times, as part of Indias ambitious Gaganyaan mission. The project ultimately aims to send three astronauts to space in 2022, which, if it happens, will be a record-breaking first for India.

New it girl Vyomitra is a busy woman! She made her debut public appearance when she was unveiled at an ISRO public event in Bengaluru, India, on Wednesday. She impressed audiences by stating in her own words, that she can mimic the activity of a crew of astronauts and recognise them and respond to their queries. ISRO are proud to name Vyomitra their first female astronaut.

Outer SpaceIf anything, the ISRO have proven themselves to be determined and resilient as they continue to gain support from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to fund upcoming space travels. In September 2019, ISRO were hopeful that India would become just the fourth country to soft-land a spacecraft on the moon with itsChandrayaan-2 mission, but in a disappointing turn of events, thespacecraft crash-landed due to a braking error.

However, they are not giving up, with chief Kailasavadivoo Sivan confirming at the beginning of January that a third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, had been approved and could launch as early as this year! The larger Gaganyaan project will send two unmanned crafts into space in December 2020 and June 2021, before sending three shortlisted astronauts and possibly Vyomitra, in 2022.

Despite facing criticism for endorsing funding for space travel whilst India battles with economic issues as a developing nation, Chief K Sivan insists that space innovation encourages the youth of India to think big. He has previously stated that starting a space program in India in 1960 was a big crazy idea but founder Dr. Vikram Sarabhai predicted the potential of space technology in transforming the country.

Now the ISROs latest innovation, Vyomitra might even encourage more young people, particularly women, to dream of becoming an astronaut. Afterall, Vyomitra has guts she will be alone in the first two space missions of project Gaganyaan, representing her country as they skillfully speed ahead in the realm of space technology.

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Glowing green ‘dunes’ in the sky mesmerized skygazers. They turned out to be a new kind of aurora. – Space.com

When mysterious glowing stripes of green lit up Finnish skies in 2018, it didn't go unnoticed by avid aurora chasers. The pattern of light was unfamiliar and strangely perfect, reaching out toward the horizon like a set of celestial sand dunes.

Sure enough, the light show dubbed by the citizen scientists as "the dunes" turned out to be a new type of aurora. This aurora is formed by the dramatic dance of gravity waves and oxygen atoms, according to new findings published today (Jan. 29) in the journal AGU Advances.

The path to discovery began years ago when a group of aurora enthusiasts emailed Minna Palmroth, a professor of computational space physics at the University of Helsinki, asking her to join their Facebook group. The goal? Have Palmroth explain the physics behind the auroras they were photographing.

Related: Aurora Photos: Northern Lights Dazzle in Night-Sky Images

Palmroth was happy to do so. After a while, she realized her answers were becoming repetitive so she went on to publish an aurora guidebook. But in October 2018, the aurora chasers came back to her with images of a puzzling aurora.

"Then I realized that oh no ... I haven't seen these before," Palmroth told Live Science. Upon first look, these stripes looked to be the result of gravity waves, or density disturbances in the upper atmosphere. The upper atmosphere is streaked with many different gravity waves that run in different directions and are of different frequencies and sizes. But that explanation didn't seem possible, because the waves were so evenly spread.

So Palmroth and her team organized a campaign for the evening of Oct. 7, gathering scientists and citizens throughout Finland to photograph the dunes. By analyzing these photographs, the team began to understand the physics behind the phenomenon.

This isn't the first time aurora chasers have identified a new celestial phenomenon; citizen scientists also discovered the sky glow affectionately dubbed STEVE in 2018.

"Collaborations with citizen scientists are getting increasingly important because they can become 'mobile sensors' that chase interesting aurora easily and catch new features that scientists didn't notice before," said Toshi Nishimura, a research associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Boston University's Center for Space Physics, who was not part of the study.

Auroras result when the sun hurls charged particles toward our planet. Those particles travel along the magnetic field lines at our planet's poles and slam into the atoms and molecules in our atmosphere, causing those molecules to emit light. These stunning light shows can come in many different shapes and colors; oxygen glows in green and red while nitrogen glows in blue and purple, according to NASA. Astronomers also use the shape of auroras to learn what's happening in the upper atmosphere where they form.

While most auroras extend vertically, the dunes extend out toward the equator horizontally in undulating waves. No one had observed such a wave-like structure in an aurora before, Palmroth said.

The scientists theorize that the dunes are lighting up a type of rare atmospheric gravity wave called mesospheric bores. These mesospheric bores occur when a gravity wave that's rising up in the atmosphere becomes bent and sandwiched between two relatively colder layers of the atmosphere the inversion layer, 49.7 miles (80 kilometers) high, and the mesopause, 62 miles (100 km) high.

In this channel, the waves propagate horizontally and over long distances without subsiding, creating alternating folds that are either enriched with oxygen or depleted of oxygen. When the electrons from the sun stream in, the folds with higher oxygen levels light up more than the places lacking in oxygen, creating the characteristic stripes.

"This is a very interesting observation," said Steven Miller, the deputy director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University, who was not a part of the study. "My first reaction when seeing the pictures were that those might be atmospheric gravity waves that are being 'highlighted' by the auroral activity it appears that this is the hypothesis of the authors as well."

Mesospheric bores can account for the patterns seen in the dunes, but "I surmise that [these] 'dunes' are in fact a subset of a much more widespread region of atmospheric gravity waves that happen to be highlighted by the aurora," Miller told Live Science.

By using stars in the photos as reference points, the team was able to calculate the altitude of the dunes to be around 62 miles (100 km) high, which is typical of auroras. But this poorly studied region of the atmosphere is too high to measure with radars and balloons, and too low to send spacecraft without them burning up. So it's sometimes called the "ignorosphere," Palmroth said.

"This is the first time these gravity waves are observed," Palmroth said. "In general the bores are rather a rare phenomenon." But observing the dunes could reveal more about the bores, Palmroth said.

For instance, scientists found that the dunes occur at the same time and in the same region where electromagnetic energy from space transfers to the upper atmosphere, which Palmroth suspects could be connected to the creation of the inversion layer mesospheric bores. "We want to see whether this is really true," she said.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Glowing green 'dunes' in the sky mesmerized skygazers. They turned out to be a new kind of aurora. - Space.com

Hyten: ‘Space Force’ comedy is good for the US Space Force – SpaceNews

Netflix 'Space Force' is a comedy but it "puts that issue in front of people and people start paying attention," said Gen. John Hyten.

WASHINGTON Gen. John Hyten, the U.S. militarys second highest-ranking officer who spent most of his career in space operations, looks forward to watching Space Force, the upcoming Netflix comedy series.

Its going to be great, Hyten said Jan. 29 during a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by the Air Force Association.

Hyten has been vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since November and serves as a senior adviser to the secretary of defense and the president. But he remains especially focused on space and on the standup of the U.S. Space Force as a separate branch under the Air Force, which he had strongly advocated. Space is my passion, he said. Ive been behind the scenes working space issues constantly.

Since President Trump called for the creation of a Space Force in June 2018, the militarys sixth branch has been mocked and criticized. Hyten said the jokes and satire should be viewed as an opportunity to raise public awareness of the issue of space as a national security concern.

Hyten said the Netflix Space Force series will be more than just entertainment. It puts that issue in front of people and people start paying attention, he said.

According to Netflix, the series will be about a group of people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services known as the Space Force.

Hyten said he experienced the militarys own version of Space Force humor during the USOs New Year Tour when he joined other top officials and entertainers at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania.

One of the cool things I get to do as vice chairman is travel with the USO to visit troops, he said. In one of the skits in Romania, comedians came onstage dressed in Space Force uniforms made of aluminum foil that had $14 million price tags on them. The helmet cost $20 million, Hyten said. And they do a whole skit on Space Force, making fun of us right and left, the whole nine yards, he said.The soldiers were loving it. I love that.

Hyten said he looks forward to the Netflix show but I want them to get the technical stuff right, he insisted. If youre a space guy, all you care is that you get the technical stuff right. Just do that and well be fine.

His advice to the real U.S. Space Force is to embrace the moment and make it a bridge to conversation. Space is important not because its funny. Its important because its deadly serious, said Hyten. The attention its getting in the pop culture world allows us the opportunity for us to stand in front of people and say, you understand this is actually a warfighting domain, he said. We have threats in space that we have to deal with. These are not Powerpoint threats. We have adversaries that are going faster.

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Space Force logo furore is a massive overreaction – Creative Bloq

The internet has gone wild over President Trump's 'Star Trek' redesign of the Space Force logo (above right), which was unveiled on Friday 24 January. Reactions to the design have judged it as a hilarious rip off of the fictional Starfleet's logo (above left), and it's true that the new Space Force insignia is extraordinarily similar to that found on the uniforms of the Starfleet personnel. But is it really that simple?

We're somewhat disappointed to point out that the logo redesign may not be as ridiculous as we first thought. Or at least, it looks as if Trump wasn't the first one to emulate the Star Trek logo, anyway. (See our logo design tips for how to craft a unique logo that won't be accused of plagiarism.)

John Noonan tweeted the above just after the Space Force furore began, alerting the Twittersphere to the fact that the logo already looked a lot like the Starfleet Command one from Star Trek. The Space Force emblem is the same as it has been since 1982 (when the Government department was called Air Force Space Command the name changed to Space Force in 2019), the starry background is reminiscent of the original, and there are still loops circling it.

The reduction of the number of loops from four to one definitely emulates the design of the Starfleet logo, that's for sure. But there's more precedent to this design in the history of US space branding, which may let the current incarnation off the hook.

The image above (from this SlashGear article which examines the origins of the various logo incarnations in more detail) shows that the single loop is a proud part of the NASA logo. And different numbers of loops can be found in all of the US Space Command insignia, dating back to 1985.

The circling typography is also in the Space Command logo, though the font and placement is definitely more Star Trek than it has been previously.

So who copied who? Well, the Starfleet logo was actually first found in... drumroll please... 1996. In fact, according to Ex Astris Scientia, the Star Trek Sticker book contains an inscription from Mike Okuda (a graphic designer who worked on Star Trek and created the insignia) that states: "The Starfleet Command seal was first seen on 'Homefront' (DS9) and later in 'In the Flesh' (VGR), although the agency itself, of course, dates back to the original Star Trek series. The symbol was intended to be somewhat reminiscent of the NASA emblem."

The US government branding existed first, and Star Trek emulated it intentionally. However, the current Space Force incarnation is clearly the most like the Star Trek insignia out of all the previous versions, and it could definitely be argued that Trump and his team should have noticed. The design definitely takes parts of the previous logos and puts them together in a decidedly Star Trek-like fashion.

Maybe it's a deliberate branding decision (note: the government says it isn't). Playing with the connotations of futuristic space travel, and enhancing a link between popular culture and the government is sure to invoke strong feeling from the public whether positive or negative. In either case, it's one of those controversial branding moments that's got people talking and just before an election, too.

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Space Force logo furore is a massive overreaction - Creative Bloq

Mars mystery solved: Experts find supporting evidence of free flowing water on Mars – Express.co.uk

In 1966, a thin layer of carbon dioxide (CO2) was detected in the atmosphere of Mars by the Mariner IV, a NASA fly-by spacecraft. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) theorised at the time that Co2 levels in the atmosphere vary depending on the seasonal changes of Mars.

The scientists believed that as one of the poles faced the Sun, the polar deposit of CO2 ice would melt, leading to more CO2 in the atmosphere.

This would ultimately alter the atmospheric pressure of Mars and have major implications for the Red Planets climate, which has a surface pressure of just 0.6 percent that of Earths.

Scientists Robert B Leighton and planetary scientist Bruce C Murray, believed at the time atmospheric pressure could swing from just one-quarter that of todays Martian atmosphere to twice that of today over cycles of tens of thousands of years.

Now, a new model run by current Caltech experts has proved the 54 year theory to be true, which supports the theory that Mars once had free-flowing water.

The team state that as the CO2 packed ice melted in the past, it allowed more surface pressure to build, which suited for a better environment on Mars.

In theory, the CO2 packed ice deposit should not be possible, because water ice is more thermally stable and darker than CO2 ice; CO2 ice, scientists long believed, would quickly destabilise if it was buried underneath water ice.

A statement from Caltech said: The new model by Buhler and colleagues shows that the deposit could have evolved as a result of the combination of three factors.

These are:

1) the changing obliquity (or tilt) of the planets rotation.

2) the difference in the way water ice and CO2 ice reflect sunlight.

3) the increase in atmospheric pressure that occurs when CO2 ice sublimes.

READ MORE:Stunning statement reveals agency's breakthrough space travel scheme

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Mars mystery solved: Experts find supporting evidence of free flowing water on Mars - Express.co.uk

‘Avenue 5’ and the History of TV Space Comedy – Book and Film Globe

The world is cooing over the return of Star Treks Jean-Luc Picard. But over on HBO, Armando Iannuccis Avenue 5 is putting a prick in the bloated balloon of space heroics. General incompetence and the unpredictability of space travel knock the title craft, a sleazy Carnival-style corporate space cruise ship, off course, forcing it into an interstellar Gilligans Island kind of situation. Avenue 5 takes place in the near-future, or an alternate present, where space looks more like the buffet line at the Bellagio. The captain is an actor, the only astronaut on board is a ponytailed Boomer, who refers to himself as the first Canadian on Mars, and billionaire Josh Gad bumbles around in a blond wig, bellowing stupid orders and eating all the food.

Avenue 5 is the latest iteration of a strange and intermittently popular TV subgenre, the space comedy. Space comedies fill needed gap in the sci-fi universe, which often takes itself very seriously. Sci-fi like The Expanse serves mostly as a metaphor for World War III. The most recent Star Trek, Discovery, bludgeoned the viewer, taking all the joy out of its phaser battles with excessively woke messaging. Avenue 5 may not be as overtly filthy or delightful as Iannuccis recently-completed Veep, but it fits well into the history of space sitcoms. Heres a rundown of that history, with strange clips to watch for hours.

Created by the late Buck Henry, Quark ran as a midseason replacement on NBC just before the network entered its quality phase with Hill Street Blues and Cheers. Richard Benjamin plays Adam Quark, the captain of a ship tasked with cleaning up all the garbage in the Milky Way. His crew includes two gorgeous twins, one of whom is a clone of the other and both of whom are in love with him.

Also in the mix is a transmute named Gene, who at times is a macho blusterer and other times is a stereotypical housewife, a person who is actually a plant, a clunky robot, and a disembodied head who rules the galaxy. Quark predates even Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but Henry clearly targets the original Trek, with mixed and sometimes sexist results. Unjustly canceled after eight episodes, Quark was a trailblazer of sorts, and was often quite funny despite the laugh track.

If modern audiences know an adaptation of Douglas Adamss classic absurdist sci-fi satire, its the mediocre, if well-cast, 2005 movie. But this six-part BBC TV adaptation remains the definitive article. In the scene above, the crew of Zaphod Beeblebroxs ship faces a nuclear-missile attack, which falls apart when bathrobe-wearing Arthur Dent unleashes the Improbability Drive. Though the effects are 40 years dated, Hitchhiker remains the mothership of all TV space comedy. Futuramas Bender would never have existed without Marvin The Paranoid Android.

In Red Dwarf, the show that will not die, Dave Lister is a space janitor on a mining ship. His bosses cryogenically freeze him as a punishment after they catch him bringing his cat on board. While hes frozen, a radiation leak kills everyone on board. The computer revives Dave three million years later, and he finds that hes the last living human in the universe. However, he has various creatures, robots, and computers to keep him company. Dysfunctional sitcom relationships result.

Red Dwarf is a very strange program, and so popular in the UK that theyre currently making a 13th series. Your mileage may vary on the humor, but you cant doubt its influence, including on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was also an early show to use color-blind casting. Lister, a dead ringer for Jordan Peele, has dreads, and his anthropomorphic Cat is also black. Characters come and go, seemingly without explanation, only to re-emerge at regional Comic-cons across the British Commonwealth.

A couple of brothers buy a used spaceship and head off on galactic adventures in this short-lived Fox sitcom so offensive, the NAACP condemned it. In retrospect, Homeboys, though definitely bad, was really just bringing the tropes of the 90s black sitcom into the universe. It featured some pretty inspired bits, including a planet of white people who worshipped George Jefferson as a God.

The sci-fi comedy reached its apotheosis with this animated series from Matt Groening. Futurama, as if you didnt already know, follows the adventures of Philip J. Fry, a slacker who ends up cryogenically frozen and then re-appears in the 31st century to work for an interstellar delivery company. Futurama doesnt only venture into space. It upends every sci-fi trope in every genre, and even takes a visit to Robot Hell. But space is its main place, and its hard to look at self-serious space operas like Ad Astra the same way after watching even five minutes of Futurama.

This appealing Star Trek parody from the prolific Paul Feig had the misfortune of launching on Yahoo Screen, a streaming service that was ahead of its time and also had no chance to succeed. Like the final season of Community, Other Space disappeared into the void. But it featured a good-looking, funny young cast, and better writing than the somewhat schticky-feeling laugh-track-based space sitcoms of old. However, it did suffer from a kind of nerd pervert syndrome, as the least attractive male cast member attracted the eternal love of the death-defyingly beautiful ships central intelligence system. Hot chicks in space is time-honored, but Other Space didnt seem particularly self-aware about its leering.

The world met the announcement of a Seth MacFarlane-created Star Trek parody that also starred Seth MacFarlane with almost universal derision. Consider everyone, including me, surprised, when The Orville turned out to not only be better than Star Trek Discovery, it also proved to be truer to the original vision of Star Trek. In an era of TV sci-fi hued darker than the Great Depression, The Orvilles bright palate, optimism, mild snark, and cheery character comedy has proven very popular, and Fox has just renewed it for a third season. Combined with Avenue 5, were in a good quadrant for space comedies on TV.

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'Avenue 5' and the History of TV Space Comedy - Book and Film Globe

Stuck on Space? 4 Workouts to Try When Traveling – GearJunkie

These travel-friendly workout sessions can be done almost anywhere. And you dont even need equipment to do them.

Next time youre stuck in a hotel room or have some downtime between meetings, give these workouts a try. In this video, fitness trainerLuka Hocevarguides us through a series ofbodyweight workouts that can be done almost anywhere. (Yes, hes doing the circuit in a gym, but you dont need a gym or equipment to follow along.)

His philosophy is simple: Do as much as you can with what youve got. Youve got your body, and, many times, thats all you need.Whether youre doing these workouts for strength or general exercise, theyll get the job done.

Seriously, you can do these quick workouts in a hotel room, in the office, or at a roadside rest stop. For the first exercise, get creative: sub in a couple of books for weights and a towel or pillow as a mat, and youre good to go.

Starting a new fitness habit can be an intimidating prospect. Here are a few ways to overcome your nervousness and hit the gym. Read more

Mary is based in Denver, Colorado, but frequently travels abroad. Her outdoor interests span from climbing to landscape photography to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

Topics: Fitness, Travel

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Stuck on Space? 4 Workouts to Try When Traveling - GearJunkie

The Bezos, Musk and Branson billionaire space race is happening right now – Yahoo Finance

With a presidential election, the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo and yes, Ludwig van Beethovens 250th birthday celebration, 2020 promises to be a humdinger of a year.

But also happening in 2020if all systems are gowill be the beginning of regular U.S. space tourism flights, either by Richard Bransons Virgin Galactic (ticker: SPCE) or Jeff Bezos Blue Origin or both. Also possibly coming this year are tourist trips to the International Space Station (ISS) on a craft built by Elon Musks SpaceX. (Boeing has a spaceship too, but that company might be otherwise occupied.)

So apologies to Donald, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Ludwig van, but commercial space travel could end up being the biggest damn thing to happen this year. In fact, I think its the beginning of a real game-changer for humanity.

If youve been following the space biz, you know that the go year has been pushed back a number of times, but Ann Kim, aerospace banker and managing director of Silicon Valley Bank, is feeling it. These companies are close. They wanted to get humans into space in 2019, but were not as successful in delivering promises as originally thought. 2020 is a good year to see that inflection point.

It has been a long time coming. In fact these three companies are more or less of the same vintage. Bezos founded Blue Origin (named after Earth, the blue planet, as the place of origin), in 2000. SpaceX, which has colonizing Mars as its ultimate mission, was founded in 2002. And Branson started Virgin Galactic two years after that.

While you may snort at all this silly space stuff, its worth noting that three of the most successful entrepreneurs of our lifetimes have been working on space travel for a collective 54 years now. Remember, once upon a time folks laughed at online bookstores, electric cars and branded air travel too.

Yes, there is a bit of a space race going on, although this time its not Russia v. the U.S., its Branson v. Bezos, who are battlingin the suborbital space (pun intended), with Musk as a competitor longer term on more ambitious projects.

Some play down the competitive aspects of the business though. Its not a race at all, future Virgin Galactic passenger Namira Salim told Yahoo Finances The Final Round, we all say that in the industry. I think its safe to say there is room for all three. (Space is a big place, right?)

Its important to remember that intermittent space tourism has been around for a while. Between 2001 and 2009, seven space tourists traveled to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Dennis Tito was the first, remember him? Also top Microsoft exec Charles Simonyi made the trip. And British singer Sarah Brightman signed up but later canceled. The trips were arranged by a U.S. company, Space Adventures, and cost, gulp, $20 million a pop. But the Russians terminated the program and despite talk of restarting it, havent. In any event the Soyuz trips were always one-offs, where Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin aim to be scheduled operations and the first steps to more extensive programs.

American multimillionaire Dennis Tito, 60, gestures shortly after his landing on the steppes, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Arkalyk, Kazakstan, Sunday, May 6, 2001. Others are unidentified. The Russian Soyuz capsule carrying the world's first paying space tourist landed successfully on Sunday, ending Tito's multimillion dollar cosmos adventure. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

Virgin Galactic has been a moonshot of a stock over the past month, up over 60%. Some of that might have to do with CEO George Whitesides telling CNBC recently that demand for tickets keeps ticking up by a good chunk every month.The company says it has sold tickets to more than 600 customers at around $250,000 per person. It froze ticket sales after a crash in 2014 killed one of its pilots. Virgin Galactic now says it may reopen sales later this yearand raise prices.

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Yes, there is risk. This is not as safe as airline travel, says Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and rocket expert at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysic. Suborbital flight, [what Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are doing now] can be made very safe. It will just take a lot more flights and experience to make it so. Whether orbital flight will ever be that safe is more of an open question. Sir Richard says not to worry. Hell be going up as Virgin Galactics first test-space-tourist astronaut.

Branson took his company public by merging with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), or blank-check company, founded by Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive (who has since somewhat famously soured on his former employer.) Palihapitiya still owns 49% of Virgin Galactic.

Blue Originits motto is, Gradatim Ferociter, Latin for "Step by Step, Ferociously.hasnt pre-sold any tickets, but it too has indicated that the time is near to send passengers into space. The company just moved into a swank new 232,000-square-foot headquarters in Kent, Washingtonnear the Sea-Tac Airportto house many of its 2,500 employees. Geek Wire reports, Hundreds more are based elsewhere in the Kent area, south of Seattle, as well as at Blue Origins suborbital launch site in West Texas, the Florida rocket factory where Blue Origins New Glenn orbital-class rocket will be assembled, and at the site of its future BE-4 rocket engine factory in Alabama.

Bezos, who loved space as a child, is incredibly passionate about space and Blue Origin, so much so that I pulled these two quotes from this 2018 interview to give you an idea. (The whole piece makes for good reading, btw.)

I get increasing conviction with every passing year, that Blue Origin, the space company, is the most important work that Im doing. And so there is a whole plan for Blue Origin.


The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it. Blue Origin is expensive enough to be able to use that fortune. I am liquidating about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin. And I plan to continue to do that for a long time.


Imagine if Blue Origin ends up being a bigger deal than Amazon? Could be.

Jeff Bezos speaks in front of a model of Blue Origin's Blue Moon lunar lander, Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

SpaceX is a different beast, not surprisingly playing at an Elon Musk, super-ambitious, Tesla-like level. With its Falcon rockets and Dragon spacecraft, SpaceX was the first private company to go into orbit. Dragon has gone to the ISS 18 times. A Falcon has orbited around the sun. And working with NASA, SpaceX is reportedly set to launch its first crewed Crew Dragon next month. Tourism to the ISS is on the agenda.

Who will launch the first U.S. space flight for tourists?

I think that Virgin Galactic is the closest, says Kim. A lot of people are putting in their deposits. It seems to be the leader of the pack. Blue Origin is close behind. SpaceX has more longer term potential. I think all three can be very successful.

Where is this all going? Space tourism needs to be more than billionaires taking selfies in space, says Tess Hatch, who once worked at SpaceX and is now a vice president at Bessemer Venture Partners, which has invested in the space business. There needs to be business reasons to be in space. Hatch says space tourism and the space economy need to catalyze business models, and cites business opportunities such as zero gravity research and pharmaceutical testing.

As for Bezos, Branson and Musk, Hatch says, ...these people made their billions in totally different industries and are now turning to space. They will make billions if not trillions in space.

I must admit, I have mixed feelings about space being dominated by the likes of Bezos, Branson and Musk. On the one hand I cant help but admire what theyve done as entrepreneurs. I dont think theyre evil. And they are filling a breach voided by governments abdication of having a consistent, strategic space program. So sure, go for it guys!

On the other hand, I worry about the inevitable lack of consensus that accompanies each of these three efforts. How much thinking about pure science, medicine or even art will be brought to bear in space endeavors controlled by billionaires. I guess I dont blame them or fault them, none of that thinking is necessarily their purview or responsibility.

In a way its just another example of our economy and society being co-opted by the technocrat class. Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Teslathose companies are all name-checked in this article. Fifty years ago, yes there were private defense contractors involved in the process, but NASA and DOD were the drivers. The amount of technological innovation and products that came from NASA is stunning and too long to list here. Now the script has been flipped. Will these tech moguls be so free with their IP? Who knows. Maybe they will be even more collaborative about fostering and sharing research and scientific breakthroughs.

One things for sure, it looks like we are going to find out. Maybe starting this year. (Roll over Beethoven.)

This article was featured in a Saturday edition of the Morning Brief on December 14, 2019. Get the Morning Brief sent directly to your inbox every Monday to Friday by 6:30 a.m. ET.Subscribe

Commentary by Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter:@serwer.

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The Bezos, Musk and Branson billionaire space race is happening right now - Yahoo Finance

Virgin Galactic Is Getting Closer Than Ever To Commercial Flights In Space – Hong Kong Tatler

Globetrotters itching to take their travel to the next level (or planet) are one step closer to being able to book a flight to space. Virgin Galactic, Richard Bransons space travel company, has announced that all major elements of its second spacecraft have been assembled and has achieved its weight on wheels. In other words, its now capable of carrying its own weight.

Weight on wheels is an important milestone because it gets us closer to having an operational fleet of spaceships, said Enrico Palermo, president of The Spaceship Company in a statement. This is a critical milestone in the build of any airplane or any spaceship because it signifies major structural assembly is complete.

Work on the new spaceship will now undergo a series of ground tests to ensure its safety, before beginning test flights at Mojave Air & Space Port in California.

We now have two spaceships which are structurally complete, with our third making good progress, CEO George Whitesides said in a statement. These spaceships are destined to provide thousands of private astronauts with a truly transformative experience by performing regular trips to space.

The spacecraft was designed to fit up to six passengers and two pilots on flights that will take about 15 minutes from launch to landing, where travelers will visit the lowest levels of space and experience a few moments of weightlessness before returning to Earth. The roundtrip price will run customers about US$250,000 a ticket. High profile customers already include Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber.

While Virgin Galactic has not announced an official launch date for its customers to take the first commercial flight, Branson said last year that the company anticipates a 2020 launch date.


Virgin Galactic Is Getting Closer Than Ever To Commercial Flights In Space - Hong Kong Tatler

Watch out for these space missions in 2020 – Livemint

When Apollo 11s lunar module, Eagle, landed on the Moon in July 1969, the world media scrambled to cover the momentous occasion. A leading Indian newspaper carried an article, courtesy The New York Times, by the then administrator of US space agency Nasa, Thomas Paine, describing how the lunar surface would accommodate domed cities in the future. It was headlined: Earth-Moon Flights May Become Common Soon".

Paine also wrote that these bases would evolve into self-sustaining communities thanks to the use of modern technology powered by solar and nuclear energy that would find a way to process lunar resources".

While humans havent visited the Moon since 1972, a return mission is now just four years away, with the Artemis programme aiming to land the first woman astronaut there in 2024. It all begins in 2020 though, with space agencies in China and Europe also working on lunar missions. This year is also big on launches for Mars, owing to the favourable alignment of the two planets (the distance between Earth and Mars reduces). Heres a closer look at some of the most exciting space missions slated to launch in 2020.

Nasa Mars 2020 rover

Launch date: July

Nasas Mars 2020 rover mission will take off on the Atlas V rocket, hoping to land in the planets Jezero crater, which was once thought to be a lake. The aim is to take the scientific goals of Nasas Mars Exploration Program to a whole new level. According to Nasa, the new rover comes with a drill that can collect rock, soil samples and store them in a cache on the planets surface. The plan is to get these samples to Earth through a future mission. Apart from studying the planets geology, the Mars 2020 rover will also try to understand if earlier environments on Mars were enough to support microbial life, seeking biosignatures in rocks that are known to preserve signs of life. In addition, the aim is to test oxygen production in the Martian atmosphereimperative to plans for establishing human colonies on the planet. The current rovers design is inspired by the Curiosity rover, which landed in 2012 and is still operational on Mars. The proposed mission has a duration of one Mars year, or around 687 Earth days.

ESA solar orbiter

Launch date: February

The European Space Agencys (ESAs) Solar Orbiterwill take off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in February and aim to perform close, high-resolution studies of the Sun and inner heliosphere. The orbiter will carry its telescopes and other scientific instruments to just one-fifth of Earths distance from the Sun. It will also provide the first images of the Suns polar regions and become only the second spacecraft to study the Sun from close proximity after the ongoing mission of the Parker Solar Probe, which was launched in 2018. The data and imagery collected from the Solar Orbiter could tell scientists more about solar winds and eruptions, and how the Sun creates and controls the heliosphere. The Solar Orbiter is expected to go closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft beforeit will be exposed to sunlight 13 times more intense than what we experience on Earth. In order to protect it from the searing heat, the Orbiters Sun-facing side is protected by a sunshield. According to the ESA, the spacecraft will also be kept cool with the help of special radiators that will dissipate excess heat into space.

Indias maiden solar mission

Launch dates: To be decided

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) successfully launched its GSAT-30 communications satellite aboard the Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana on 17 JanuaryIndias first launch of 2020. But it wont be its last this year. After recently announcing another lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, and sharing big developments on the countrys first manned mission, Gaganyaan, Isro will also launch its first solar mission, Aditya-L1, to study the Suns corona. According to Isro, the Aditya-L1 mission will be inserted into a halo orbit around the L1, or the Lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system, roughly 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. The missions primary payload is a coronagraph (a visible emission line coronagraph designed by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics), which is like a telescope that can see and capture things close to the Sun. Isro also aims to conduct an orbital test flight of its small satellite launch vehicle, or SSLV, this year. The SSLV is designed to carry small satellites into low Earth orbit and can be assembled within days for quick launches. It is smaller and cheaper than bigger launch vehicles like the PSLV and GSLV.

Virgin Galactic

Launch dates: To be decided

Space tourism is all set to take flight with Virgin Galactic, the commercial spaceline launched by British investor and philanthropist Richard Branson, which hopes to start commercial operations this year. Earlier this month, the company achieved a major construction milestone after assembling all the major structural elements of its second rocket spaceship, which now stands on its own landing gear at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California. According to an official statement, the spaceships assembly team will now work on connecting the vehicles integrated systems, including the flight control systems and fuselage. Virgin Galactic wants to open space travel to private astronauts and researchers. Last year, Nasa also announced that the International Space Station was open to commercial opportunities and hosting tourists.

The idea of space tourism is expected to reel in some big numbers. In 2019, Swiss investment bank UBS estimated that space tourism would become a $3 billion (around 21,000 crore now) market by 2030. The entire space sector, it added in a report, could grow to a staggering $926 billion by 2040. With private space enthusiasts willing to shell out as much as $250,000 per ticket for a seat on the Virgin Galactic spaceships, these numbers dont look far-fetched.

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Watch out for these space missions in 2020 - Livemint

Can Your Gut Leak In Space? Probably. Here’s What That Means For Astronatus – WMFE

UC Riverside's Dr. Declan McCole studied the effects of microgravity on the gut. Photo: UC Riverside

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Space travel could cause a leaky gut. A new medical study found that microgravity reduces an important barrier in the stomach which could mean nasty germs could get inside Astronauts bodies on deep-space missions. Well chat with UC Riverside medical researcher Dr. Declan McCole about the gut biomes of astronauts and how his research can all help our guts down here on Earth.

Then, how do you count the planets? The answer to how many planets there are isnt a simple one. On this weeks Id Like to Know segment, well talk to our panel of planetary experts about the task of counting the planets and the controversies surrounding their definitions.

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Can Your Gut Leak In Space? Probably. Here's What That Means For Astronatus - WMFE

Hear from the Williamsburg woman selected as one of NASAs newest astronauts – WTKR News 3

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Wearing blue jumpsuits and with eager grins, 11 men and women walked across a stage in Houston, Texas, last week.

"It is s still surreal everyone in feels incredibly lucky to be here," said Zena Cardman.

They are history makers - the next NASA class to head to space - and one of those graduates is Cardman, a Williamsburg resident. Cardman spoke to News 3 on Friday from the Johnson Space Center.

"I found out the answer was 'yes,' and it was an utterly overwhelming moment," said Cardman.

Two years ago - while sitting with friends and watching "Apollo 13," of course - she got the call from NASA that she was chosen among 18,000 applicants.

"At every round of the interview stage, I felt in total awe and inspired by other people I was interviewing with," she said.

Cardman and the 10 other astronauts are the first to join NASA since its Artemis program was announced. In 2024, the program aims to send the first humans to the moon since 1972 and to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

NASA says the moon mission will include the first woman, and statistically that could be Cardman.

"No matter what mission we get assigned to eventually - or missions if we are lucky enough - anything would be an absolute joy," said Cardman.

Cardman has been undergoing immense training in Houston for the past two years to prepare for space flight.

"We learn everything from the engineering systems on board the International Space Station, emergency procedures, jets. We learn the Russian language, space walk training - it's very diverse," she said.

Cardman graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a biology and marine sciences degree, she says her passion is Microbiology.

"I am excited to get to use my training, no matter where it takes me," she said.

Wherever she goes, she will have a fan club cheering for her on from Williamsburg and the Peninsula.

"It fills me with pride and happiness to know that people are following along with this journey. There is something so engaging about space travel and to have people from my hometown rooting for me - that is really exciting," she said.

To learn more about Zena, click here.

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Hear from the Williamsburg woman selected as one of NASAs newest astronauts - WTKR News 3

I rode the ‘Lunar Rover’ from ‘Ad Astra’ and it was awesome (video) – Space.com

Out in the desert in New Mexico, in the dusty terrain bordering a commercial spaceport, I got the chance to take a wild ride in a "lunar rover."

Why is "lunar rover" in quotation marks, you might ask? Well, the all-terrain vehicle that I rode through the desert never left tracks on the moon's surface and, in fact, wasn't even built by NASA or any other space agency to be used by astronauts on the moon. Instead, it is a stock Polaris RZR, which is a dune buggy made for tough terrain. It was also used as a mock lunar rover in the hit space thriller "Ad Astra."

In the film (mild spoilers ahead), astronaut Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt, has to travel across the lunar surface to a remote launch site. En route to the launch site on a rover, McBride is accosted by moon pirates, who are riding in slightly different rovers. (The vehicle that I rode appeared to be one of these "pirate rovers.")

Watch:See a Sneak Peek of 'Ad Astra' Moon Action!

This scene was shot in Death Valley in the northern Mojave Desert in California and later edited to look like the surface of the moon. But, out in the New Mexico desert near Virgin Galactic's commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, I got a taste of what the desert chase was really like.

At a media event supporting the Blu-ray and DVD release of the film, which was hosted at Spaceport America, I had the opportunity to ride in one of the vehicles that was used as a lunar rover in the film. The vehicle was driven by Eric Underwood, who worked as a stunt driver in the movie and a mechanic for the vehicles. He drove me around the desert and I got a chance to feel the thrill of "driving on the moon."

The ride was exhilarating, and I felt like Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke, who co-piloted a real lunar rover on the moon's surface decades ago. And, while the vehicle didn't have tires made of zinc-coated piano wire and titanium threads woven into a chevron-pattern mesh (like the real lunar rovers did, to prevent the wheels from sinking into the soil), it gave me a tiny look into what such a ride might be like.

Apparently, during the filming of the movie, the cast loved riding around in the rovers as much as I did. "Everybody was super excited," Underwood told me during the ride, referring to the cast.

I attended the 'Ad Astra' media event for Space.com on a trip paid for by 20th Century Fox.

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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I rode the 'Lunar Rover' from 'Ad Astra' and it was awesome (video) - Space.com

A Freshly Cooked Meal In Space? It Could Happen Sooner Than You Think. – Forbes

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren corrals the supply of fresh fruit that arrived on the Kounotori 5 H-II ... [+] Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5.)

With both NASAs Commercial Crew Program and Virgin Galactic on track to launch crew into space this year, the 2020s are on track to become the decade of space tourism. In anticipation of the industrys expansion, companies such as Bigelow Aerospace have gone as far as to design hotels that will house private space travelers during their stays on orbit. Virgin Galactic, in turn, has a waiting list more than 600 people long for its first suborbital tourist flights.

As a 2010 study by The Tauri Group found, the main customer base for private spaceflight is high net-worth individuals, many of whom are seeking a new luxury travel experience after patronizing the worlds finest hotels and resorts. These individuals, who are willing to pay between $250,000 and $25M USD for a private spaceflight experience, are accustomed to white glove treatment: Not only are they visiting a destination when they travel, but they expect the cream of the crop in accommodation, amenities, and dining during their stay.

Various examples of encapsulated space food including a space shuttle food tray.

Given that the majority of astronaut food is currently freeze-dried and consumed in packages similar to military meal ready-to-eat packets (MREs), private spaceflight providers will need to consider what they can do to help the dining experience meet the rest of the trips luxury standards. Food, as it turns out, is one of the most multidimensional and fundamentally human experiences on Earth, and the psychological benefits of sitting down for a meal or drink should not be underestimated. To date, the design of space food has rightfully focused on nutrition and convenience, as the majority of spacefarers have been government astronauts with scientific mission objectives. However, for space tourism to gain traction among the ultra wealthy, space vehicle operators must begin thinking of their flights as a premium passenger experience rather than a set of minimum requirements.

How, exactly, can the industry make the leap from bagged fruit to fine dining? Certainly, some technological advances will be necessary, some of which are already in work by the scientific research community. It may still be too early to envision a five star meal service in space, but a look at some of the major space food experiments conducted over the past few years can give us a sneak peek at what lies ahead.

1. Cookies In Space

A chocolate chip cookie was baked aboard the International Space Station in December 2019 using Zero ... [+] G Kitchen's microgravity oven.

DoubleTree by Hilton has long touted freshly baked cookies as its signature welcome amenity. Now, the company has teamed up with Zero G Kitchen to create Cookies In Space, a joint venture in which the DoubleTrees famous chocolate chip cookies recently became the first food to be baked in space.

Although baking cookies may hardly seem like advanced science, baking food in space is no trivial feat. Traditional ovens rely on convection - the natural process where hot air rises and cool air falls - which does not occur in the absence of gravity. Additionally, being in microgravity presents the extra challenge of keeping food stationary while it cooks. All of this must be accomplished on a limited power supply so as not to blow a fuse on the ISS. To do so, Zero Gs oven uses a silicone frame to hold objects in place during baking. The ovens cylindrical heating coils surround the food at the center of the ovens chamber and rise to temperature more slowly than a normal oven to accommodate ISS power constraints.

Five chunks of dough in silicone pouches were sent to the space station, awaiting baking in Zero G ... [+] Kitchen's oven.

Zero Gs oven was built in partnership with Nanoracks, the company responsible for commercial plug-and-play payload interfaces aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The oven is the first of a series of appliances that Zero G intends to develop as part of its space kitchen, which the company states will eventually include a refrigerator, blender, slow cooker, and more.

The oven and supplies were launched to the ISS aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft in November, where they were received by the ISS crew and used to bake cookies in late December. The finished cookies were returned to Earth with SpaceXs CRS-18 mission earlier this month, where they were be analyzed to inform future attempts at baking in space.

2. ISSPresso and Space-Certified Coffee Cups

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti takes a sip of espresso from the zero-gravity cup.

For many adults, theres nothing quite like starting out the day with a fresh cup of Joe. However, being in space can get in the way of this morning ritual, since until recently astronauts were forced to consume all liquids from plastic bladders to prevent them from floating away in the microgravity environment.

Specially-designed 3D-printed Space Cups are being used on the International Space Station.

In 2008, Oregon-based company IRPI teamed up with NASA astronaut Don Pettit in search of a better solution. The team came up with a coffee cup design that exploited the effects of surface tension and wetting angles to recreate the experience of drinking from a mug on Earth. When Italian company Lavazza launched a modified version of its expresso machine (dubbed ISSPresso) to the Station in 2015, IRPI saw a perfect opportunity to test out its design. The company flew 6 of its cups as part of NASAs 2015 Capillary Beverage Experiment, and upon successful checkout by the ISS crew, the cups officially became space-qualified hardware.

3. Vostok Space Beer

Unlike Ninkasi Beer (made with yeast that traveled to space back in 2015) or Bridgeport Brewings ... [+] The First IPA (craft beer that was launched into space in early 2018), Vostok is the first beer designed for consumption in space.

Like having a morning coffee, sitting down for a cold beer is one of the most universal experiences known to humanity. However, beer bottles suffer from the same problems as coffee cups in microgravity: The open top bottles cannot prevent beer from floating away haphazardly. Additionally, gases and liquids do not separate in microgravity, the bubbles in beer tend to stick together and form one huge ball of gas surrounded by a shell of beer, leading to an uncomfortable (albeit harmless) condition called wet burp among many who ingest it.

In 2010, the founders of Australian companies 4 Pines Brewing Company and Saber Astronautics began collaborating on a beer that could surmount these problems. To reduce the products potential to cause wet burp, carbonation was reduced while other flavors were strengthened to complement the drinks smaller bubbles. The bottle was then fitted with an insert similar to a rocket fuel tank, utilizing a shaped insert to wick fuel in the direction of the outlet valve.

Inside the space beer bottle

In 2018, the team launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund testing and flight certification for their product. The campaign was unfortunately unsuccessful, raising only 3% of its $1M USD goal. Nonetheless, the team has pressed forward with its efforts, which have included 2 crewed parabolic flights to validate the bottles usability.

4. NASAs VEGGIE Experiment

A picture of Tokyo Bekana Chinese cabbage growing in a NASA Veggie unit.

As depicted in The Martian, one of the greatest challenges associated with long-duration space missions is the difficulty of obtaining food in space. For most of the space programs history, all food consumed by astronauts has been packaged and shipped in from Earth. The lack of direct sunlight in most space habitats and the scarcity of water away from Earth present significant challenges in implementing a space-based crop-growing infrastructure.

Although growing crops on Earth allows humans to continue following processes that are well understood, the price-per-pound of launching cargo (currently just under $30,000 USD per pound using a SpaceX Dragon capsule) into orbit prevents humans from expanding its long-term presence in space using these methods. The ISS program currently costs NASA between $3 and $4 billion USD per year to sustain a maximum of 6 people on orbit, and a large portion of these costs is attributable to the cargo missions used to resupply the Space Station with food and other astronaut provisions. For the industry to reduce costs enough to make space tourism profitable, a more sustainable method of food production is needed on orbit.

In the early 2000s, NASA began testing out potential solutions using its Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE). The deployable aquaponic plant growth unit is capable of producing salad-type crops using its integrated lighting and nutrient delivery system, and relies on the ISS cabin environment for temperature control and carbon dioxide supply. In addition to supplementing the Stations food supply with fresh vegetables, the VEGGIE unit has the potential to produce mental health benefits associated with recreational gardening.

As of January 2020, 4 VEGGIE experiments have been launched to the ISS. Though no results have been released to the public regarding the psychological benefits of the unit, experiments continue to measure the effect of lighting, fertilizer, and environmental conditions on the quality of crops produced.

As these experiments continue in orbit, researchers continue to examine the effect of food on both individual happiness and group dynamics. While the psychological effects of eating in space have yet to be quantified, facilities such as the NASA-funded Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) have conducted initial ground-based observations on the benefits of freshly prepared group meals during long-term confinement. Some preliminary research has shown that individuals who consumed food they liked experienced improved morale and productivity, and that groups who prepared meals together experienced improved team cohesion.

The participants of 2015's 8 month HI-SEAS mission.

Although not all of the findings of space analog research are directly applicable to space tourists, it is clear that the quality of ones meals has a direct effect on satisfaction with ones living conditions. As humanity expands its presence beyond Earth, care must be taken to ensure that human factors are not ignored in the design of everyday experiences. If new technologies must be developed to accommodate human preferences, investments should be made accordingly years ahead of the technologys planned use.

The next decade will undoubtedly be a defining moment for space tourism, and commercial spaceflight companies will be forced to make an important decision: Will space tourism be a luxury only in price, or also in quality of passenger experience?

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A Freshly Cooked Meal In Space? It Could Happen Sooner Than You Think. - Forbes

Storm to bring 1 to 5 inches of snow, dangerous travel conditions to Western Pa. – TribLIVE

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Storm to bring 1 to 5 inches of snow, dangerous travel conditions to Western Pa. - TribLIVE

Why It Shouldn’t Be so Difficult for a Woman to Fly Gaganyaan First But Is – The Wire

Next year, India is to launch Indians into space. Critics in the science policy community may argue that six decades after Yuri Gagarin first orbited Earth, the scientific and technical objectives of such a mission are questionable. Nevertheless, even if they are right, it is entirely appropriate to launch a mission just to test ones capabilities. It is also appropriate to use that test to prove that capability to the world. Space travel makes for good propaganda. Better cutting edge science than gigantic statues standing on environmentally devastating reservoirs, mocking those whose homes it submerged.

But we must ensure that we get the maximum propaganda bang for the Big Science buck. Cynics will tell you that the easiest way to do this today is to be seen to be doing something about two issues, one of which is the environment. But the odd solar panel notwithstanding, space travels significant but still uncertain impact on the environment will not be easy to mitigate.

Token action on the question of gender may make for an easier win. If the first Indian to travel in an Indian spacecraft were to be a woman, Gaganyaan would assume global historical significance. For the briefest of moments, we could forget the appallingly low female representation in parliament, legislative assemblies, cabinets and corporate boards, and bask in woke glory. So the fact that no woman has been selected to be the first vyomanaut, as ISRO chairman K. Sivan recently reiterated, is disappointing.

Perhaps no female candidate was deemed fit to withstand the physical demands of space travel. The authors got a sense of just how physically gruelling space travel could be at the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum in London, where the cramped seat of the Vostok 6, in which Valentina Tereshkova had spent long hours during her maiden voyage in 1963, was on display.

In the popular imagination, the Soviets were particularly good at propaganda. This is why Tereshkova was not only a woman but also a mere textile worker. Orphaned by war of a working-class father, she had been raised by her mother who worked in a factory. But Soviet women in all sections of the workforce made real gains, especially in science and technology.

In contrast, the Americans, who replicated every single Soviet achievement within months during the early space race, only sent Sally Ride into space in 1983. Astonishingly, this was barely a year before Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian in space, with his voyage on a Soyuz T-11, undertaken while a woman was Indias prime minister. Victory in the space race was clearly not important enough for the Americans to make a one-off exception in the postwar reimposition of motherhood and domesticity on its women, who lost the meagre gains they had made by entering the workforce in large numbers during the Second World War. As Sophie Pinkham wrote in The New York Times, with the large number of women and members of disadvantaged racial groups it had sent into space, the Soviets won the space race for equality.

Despite promises of induction of women into combat, the number of trained female pilots in the Indian Air Force are still low. In 2015, when it allowed women to become fighter pilots, the force had 94 female pilots. In response to a parliamentary question, the government revealed that the force had 1,905 female officers of which only eight were fighter pilots, in July 2019. But only military test pilots were to be chosen for the mission, as a senior ISRO official said in August, and there were no women in such roles.

Thus, one reason women werent selected for Gaganyaan was the low population of qualified applicants in the pool due to systematic discrimination at the lower levels, which is a problem in many sectors. This is undoubtedly where policy intervention must focus most strongly.

However, we must also ask whether the Department of Space could have undertaken more efforts to accommodate women in the first Gaganyaan flight. According to the ISRO official, they decided to open the pool only to test pilots because most maiden missions undertaken by different countries in the past had test pilots.

ISRO has been known as the worlds leader in frugal engineering and for building space applications suited for developing countries, and has always blazed its own path. So in the wake of the national need for a symbolic victory in the battle for gender equality, ISRO should arguably have strayed from the well-trodden path to yet again test the limits of its technological development capabilities and achieve a world first.

Just how easy it may be to attain this flight of fancy emerges if we look at Tereshkovas qualifications for the role. In 1959, at the age of 22, she made her first amateur skydive at the local aeroclub. She became a member of the Communist Party in 1962, and was selected that year along with four other women to be trained as cosmonauts. After less than a year of pilot training, she was deemed fit to fly. Tereshkovas achievement was astounding. On her voyage, she spent three days in space compared to Gagarins 108 minutes and logged more flight time in that single flight than all the American astronauts before her combined.

But of course, only the people at the very top of the national political leadership, rather than those at ISRO or the air force, could ever decide to tailor a crewed mission around the skills of the best qualified women. This is unlikely to happen given how the establishment even some parts of the science establishment has tacitly, and sometimes explicitly, condoned the recent brutal assaults on young women studying science and other disciplines at our finest universities. It is not merely that this government is blind to the gender question that its otherwise aggressive PR machinery has failed to seize the possibilities of a female astronaut. Its policy failings may well be deliberate. For this is Ram Rajya 2.0, and Ram always goes first.

The morale of female astronauts as well as of the millions of little girls who dream of voyaging to the stars is at a low point. NASA finally got on the wokeness bandwagon and announced the first all-female spacewalk only to call it off in May 2019 for want of an appropriately sized space suit. And by selecting an all-male crew, India has lost a crucial opportunity to boost the spirits of female science and technology workers all over the world.

Indian women privileged enough to have the choice are often forced to make the decision to move abroad to even be able to pursue their passions. It is sad that the India of 2022 seemingly only justifies Kalpana Chawlas 1984 decision to move to the US.

Virjana Dwarkan is a radical feminist. She tweets at @BahutFeminist. Kapil Subramanian is a historian of science.

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Why It Shouldn't Be so Difficult for a Woman to Fly Gaganyaan First But Is - The Wire

Elon Musk says SpaceX could send one million people to Mars by 2050 – The Nation


10:59 AM | January 18, 2020

Musks SpaceX is now developing a next-generation spacecraft called Starship that the company said would land on the Moon in 2022 with manned flights to Earths natural satellite planned shortly after. Musk and SpaceX also plan to use Starship to send people to Mars.

Tech visionary Elon Musk has saidSpaceX could send one million people to Mars by 2050 during a conversation with social media users on Twitter. On 17 January, Musk posted a tweet saying: Megatons per year to orbit are needed for life to become multiplanetary. Users then asked how many flights a day his company SpaceX plans to make. To that the engineer maverick replied:

His posts caused even more questions with one user suggesting that with an average rate of 3 flights per day SpaceX could send one million people to the Red Planet by 2050. To which Musk eloquently replied: Yes.

The 48-year-old outlined his plans about the colonisation of the Red Planet in a Mars Base Alpha initiative in 2018. Photos posted on his Twitter account show landing sites for the Falcon Heavy rocket and large dome-like structures, which appear to be powered by a solar farm. The domes will be used to house humans, protecting them from low temperatures and UV radiation.

SpaceX plans to landhumans on the Moonshortly after 2022 and said the first manned mission to Mars could follow as early as 2024. Musk said the most important factor in simplifying space travel is to make a reusable rocket, which will drastically decrease the cost of sending humans into space. The tech maverick once claimed that an individual ticket could one day cost less than $100,000 dollars.

Musk also noted that once SpaceX finishes developing the Starship spacecraft it could be used to travel anywhere on Earth with passengers able to get to any part of our planet in under an hour.

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Elon Musk says SpaceX could send one million people to Mars by 2050 - The Nation

Learning To Fly With The Birdies Behind Troop Zero – Forbes

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 13: (L-R) Director Bert, Johanna Colon, Bella Higginbotham, and ... [+] Allison Janney pose for a portrait at the premiere of Amazon Studios' "Troop Zero" on January 13, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Troop Zero is a film about finding your tribe and your truth according to actress McKenna Grace. The story of a misfit group of Birdie Scouts growing up in 1970s Georgia and their dream of landing on NASAs Golden Record is at the heart of Amazons Troop Zero, but it also opens up discussions about our disconnected interest in space in a world of privatization as well as the age old question of what it means to be the perfect woman. Grace, actor Jim Gaffigan, Troop Zeros screenwriter Lucy Alibar, and directing duo Bert & Bertie sat down to discuss tackling these issues with a film that, at the core, is about having a fun adventure.

The overall tone when talking to Troop Zeros cast and crew is that of warmth. When directors Bert and Bertie read Alibars script they saw themselves. We were weird as brownie scouts. We were outsiders; we were different, Bertie says. For years they felt they had to fall in line with the popular crowd, a story they believe nearly everyone can relate to, and in reading Alibars tale of a little girl named Christmas Flint (Grace) and her dream of being on the Golden Record they found a deeper message behind the fun, according to Bert. They made a pitch that showed our creative hearts to the producers in the room and the rest was history.

For Alibar, best known as the scribe behind Beasts of the Southern Wild, she knew she wanted to make a movie about children and her hometown in Florida, but she also found herself pulled into the world of the Golden Record, a phonograph record sent into space as part of the Voyager mission containing a time capsule of life on Earth meant to teach any alien life about us. I just couldnt get this idea of the Golden Record out of my head and this imagination of what I would have done if I were nine years old, Alibar says. How would that have changed my life to know that this opportunity was out there. The rapid changes that have come to the South have been, in part, because of the rise of the internet, which Alibar says she wanted to go back and revisit.

Though the story isnt autobiographical, per se, Alibar utilized elements of her life for the story, including making Christmas dad, Ramsay, played by Jim Gaffigan, a criminal defense attorney who works out of the house like Alibars own father did. Gaffigan, for his part, wasnt just drawn to the feature because he got to work with Viola Davis but how his character was written by Alibar. He considers Ramsay a flawed yet well-intentioned father...who would do anything for his kids. He wouldnt be caught up in the gender discussions of the 1970s, right down to volunteering to help Christmas and the Birdie Scouts by being their troop leader. Its just one element that showcases the wacky yet inclusive world Troop Zero wants to focus on. McKenna Grace explains that much of what makes the movie so positive for viewers is how it espouses the idea that its okay to be yourself. In a world where she says her interaction with social media is limited due to cyber bullying, Troop Zero emphasizes that if people in society cant accept you, its up to you to go out into the world and find people who do.

For Bert and Bertie, as well as Alibar, much of this is bound up in how women, specifically, are forced into a societal ideal. Christmas is a girl who loves stories, according to Alibar, but that imagination is at odds with the aesthetics of the Birdie ethos as espoused by Allison Janneys character, Miss Massey. The notion of what makes a proper little girl is something I dont think weve grown out of, says Alibar. Beauty isnt owed to anyone and yet there is still a reliance on physical appearance as a means of perpetuating goodness. Furthermore, weve been told culturally that girls can be mean to each other, Bertie says, But weve also not been told that we can find our girls and work together, and that were stronger together.

And its hard to deny the desire to showcase Christmas interest in space. In a day where space travel is now open to tourists with deep pockets and NASA doesnt send rockets into regular exploration, Troop Zero reminds us of a time where scientific wonderment was encouraged. Space represents not just that were part of the huge, expansive universe according to Bert, but also Christmas desire to connect with her deceased mother. Taking the large and transitioning into the niche, in terms of making Christmas quest connect with her individually, was an element that came late to the directors but presents a unifying theme. Gaffigan agrees with its necessity, calling Christmas the scientific dreamer, illustrating how science can be a medium for creativity.

Everything about Troop Zero is meant to charge your heart. McKenna Grace enthusiastically mentions that the child cast keeps in touch and, if anything, the filming of Troop Zero has turned a group of actors into lifelong friends. Theres plenty to wonder in the universe, but Troop Zero reminds us that were less alone together.

Troop Zero is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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Learning To Fly With The Birdies Behind Troop Zero - Forbes