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John Young, Who Led First Space Shuttle Mission, Dies at 87

As Mr. Crippen put it: “It’s rare when an individual comes along that actually personifies his chosen profession, but rare is what John Young is.”After serving as a Navy test pilot, Mr. Young joined NASA in 1962 at the outset of the Gemini program, a bridge between the missions of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and the Apollo program, which sent men to the moon.Mr. Young flew twice in Gemini spaceships, commanded the Apollo mission that preceded Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s landing on the lunar surface and later drove a rover vehicle through the moon’s highlands. He closed out his explorations of space by flying on two shuttle missions.PhotoMr. Young aboard Gemini 3 in March 1965 awaiting its launching. It was the first manned mission of the Gemini program. He flew with Gus Grissom, who fired rockets to carry out the first manual change of orbit in a spacecraft.Credit NASAMr. Young had a mischievous side and something of a rebellious streak. He smuggled a corned beef sandwich aboard Gemini 3 to the consternation of NASA officials, who feared that crumbs could have damaged the spacecraft’s systems, though that did not happen.On his flight to the moon, he complained graphically to his fellow crewmen about his flatulence, evidently caused by the potassium-fortified orange juice he was required to drink. […]

Space Tourist Richard Garriott to SpaceX Moon Travelers: Get Ready for a ‘Profoundly Life-Changing’ Ride

The pair who paid SpaceX to take them on a historic trip around the moon can expect breathtaking views and a life-altering experience when they set out for space next year, according to Richard Garriott, a video game mogul and onetime space voyager. Garriott, who ventured into space in 2008 as the world’s sixth private space traveler, heralded SpaceX’s announcement this week as a major milestone for space exploration. He said the two passengers whom SpaceX has chosen for its 2018 mission, who have not been publicly identified, can buckle up for a “pinnacle life experience.” “Seeing the Earth from space is a profoundly life-changing event,” he told TIME on Wednesday. SpaceX on Monday said it plans to take two people, who paid a “significant deposit,” on a weeklong trip around the moon and back. It would be the first time in 45 years that humans will have returned to deep space. SpaceX said the pair will “travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.” Read More: Elon Musk’s Moon Mission Is Exciting, Audacious … and Iffy Garriott, a 55-year-old Texas computer game developer, said the feat would push human beings out of lower orbit and into new frontiers. “This proves that we are in a new golden age of space exploration,” he said. “This is a huge deal. It would be hard to overstate the importance. We’re beginning to push forward in the solar system again.” Garriott went to the Internal Space Station in 2008 aboard Russia’s Soyuz TMA-13. The journey to the Space Station — which is about 250 miles up, about the same as the distance from New York City to Washington, D.C. — was 12 days long and cost him $30 million, he said. “You’re traveling at 17,000 miles per hour. You go all the way around the Earth in 90 minutes. That means you see a sunrise or a sunset every 45 minutes. You cross entire continents in 15 minutes,” he said of his time in space. SpaceX’s guests can expect an even more dramatic experience since they’ll be flying away from Earth rather than around it. Garriott said he experienced what astronauts have called the “overview effect,” a cognitive shift in awareness about the world, when he looked out of the space station’s window. “It’s a feeling like, ‘I get it. I now understand the Earth at a much deeper level than I ever did,’” he said. “It was literally a physical moment. The hairs stand up on the back of your neck and arms.” “It’s a pinnacle life experience,” he added. “This journey is not one to underestimate.” […]

The True Resistance Is Investing In Education

You’ve just come across an infuriating post on Facebook. You open up the comment box and start typing furiously. You counter-argue using scientific sources, real numbers, and logic, and all you get back in response is name-calling and ridicule. Sound familiar? Welcome to the “educated elite.” See what they did there? They took something positive (“educated”), paired it with something negative (“elite”), and used it to label us. When did being “educated” become a bad thing? There was a time when education was revered and school teachers were respected. A time when scientists were heroes because they got us to the moon and people listened to doctors because their advice could save our lives. Today, I tell my kids to study or else they’ll never get a good job, and what do they reply? […]

Monday’s tremendous rare supermoon will be largest since 1948

November’s must-see majestic supermoon will be the closest full moon to date in the 21st century. […]

Climate Denial and Sea Level Rise

Like those who do not think the Holocaust took place, men landed on the moon, or President Obama is an American, there are equally deluded people who think that climate science is a hoax or some kind of left-wing conspiracy. As the New York Times reported last week, parts of Florida are already having ‘sunny-day floods’ due to the impact of sea level rise during some high tides. Last weekend I left my Long Island summer home early to return to the safety of Morningside Heights, a full 121 feet above sea level. […]

Do you see a devil in this orchid?

Named for ‘el diablo’ himself, a new and extremely rare orchid species reveals a wicked heart. […]

Small Moon Discovered Orbiting Dwarf Planet Makemake

Scientists have discovered a small moon orbiting Makemake, a dwarf planet found at the edge of our solar system in the Kuiper Belt region. “Makemake’s moon proves that there are still wild things waiting to be discovered, even in places people have already looked,” said Alex Parker, lead author of the paper detailing the findings, in a statement. Parker was also one of the researchers on the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team credited with discovering the moon. Parker spotted a faint point of light close to Makemake using data from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. The moon, which is thought to be less than 100 miles wide, evaded detection until now because of the glare of Makemake, which is sheathed in frozen methane. Makemake, which was discovered in 2005, is one of the largest and brightest of the “big four” planets that populate the Kuiper Belt region, and is second only to Pluto in terms of size. “With a moon, we can calculate Makemake’s mass and density,” Parker said. “We can contrast the orbits and properties of the parent dwarf and its moon, to understand the origin and history of the system. We can compare Makemake and its moon to other systems, and broaden our understanding of the processes that shaped the evolution of our solar system.” […]