Bianca Ferland was deeply concerned about her daughter, Tiffany. The three-year-old, like most three-year-olds, was a merry little tot pre-pandemic, full of smiles and laughter and light. But as schools closed, social distancing became the norm and families retreated into themselves, Tiffany started struggling.
She didn’t understand why she couldn’t see her little friends and couldn’t venture further than the balcony of her parents’ second-floor apartment in Sudbury, Ont. She grew terrified of the “bad germs,” while nights for Ferland and her husband, Steve McArthur, became epic, talking their daughter down from her latest nightmare and soothing her back to sleep.
“Tiffany was having a really hard time and it was taking a toll on all of us,” Ferland says. “So I posted something on Facebook about it and a lot people left me kind messages, but Kass was the only one who reached out asking if she could help.”
“Kass” is Kassie Bazinet, a family friend of Ferland, and a 22-year-old communications major at Laurentian University. Before COVID-19 Bazinet — or “Baz” for short — was studying, driving a bus for the disabled 30 hours a week and, in her spare time, working on her music. She has been performing with her father, Rod, a social worker by day and a musician by passion, for as long as she can remember. She plays a mean guitar, has a voice that soars and had an idea about how she might help Ferland with Tiffany.
Tiffany loves princesses, none more than Elsa and Anna from the animated Disney blockbuster Frozen. For those without little girls in their lives, the film’s plot summary — a sequel was released in 2019 — is thus: Elsa and Anna are sisters and princesses. Elsa is older, with magical powers born of ice, and has the whirl of snow, winter, ice castles and talking snowmen at her fingertips. Anna is the happy-go-lucky younger sibling.
Alas, when the pair are but wee, Elsa accidentally zaps Anna with her magic, nearly killing her. The gates of the palace are closed. Elsa quits playing with Anna, and the princesses are more or less isolated from one another within the palace walls. A bunch more stuff happens after that — the opening of the palace gates, for example — the sum of which made Frozen the highest grossing animated film ever, and an Oscar-winner twice over including for the song sung by Elsa and known by rote by parents with children of a certain age worldwide, “Let it Go.”
Bazinet, herself a Frozen fan, offered to rustle up a Princess Anna costume, throw on a wig and come to the parking lot beneath Tiffany’s balcony to belt out some tunes and say a few words.
“I planned out a whole script explaining how the gates might be closed right now, and that Princess Elsa and I had lived a really long time with the gates closed, but that I believed that they would open again, and if Tiffany believed they would open again – they would,” Bazinet says.
Says Ferland: “I had no idea Kass was going to show up in character. I was totally blown away.”
Tiffany’s nightmares went away. When a princess speaks, a princess-lover listens.
Ferland posted a video of Bazinet’s April 18 parking lot performance to Facebook. It was shared and, just like that, an accidental star was born, a princess with a message ideally suited to the pandemic age.
“Parents started sending me messages saying their kids were sad, and I kind of just jumped on it,” Bazinet says. “I started telling people, “I’ll come. I’ll sing. I’ll talk to them.’”
A natural extrovert, Bazinet lives alone. COVID-19 cost her her job, while all her classes moved online. Now she is performing 10 gigs a day in driveways and parking lots across Sudbury, and feeling fulfilled. It takes her two hours to get ready each morning, make-up being the toughest part of being a princess, before she hits the road in her grey SUV with a speaker and cordless microphone that she borrowed from her Dad.
Kids typically will have one of two reactions at the sight of Elsa (or Anna) in front of their home: shock or questions, such as, why don’t you use your magical powers? “I tell them since it just warmed up in Sudbury that I don’t want to use my magic and make everybody cold again,” Bazinet says, laughing.
Sudbury city council has acknowledged Bazinet’s efforts; Mayor Brian Bigger spoke to her personally by phone.
“Kassie has picked up on something that is so important to young families,” he says. “If you see videos of Kassie — the kids are singing along. It raises hope. She has made a lot of people happy.”
Next week, sadly, Bazinet is temporarily scaling back on her performances due to a final exam. But she promises the princesses will return once her studies are done, though for how long she can’t say.
“I don’t know if I am going to keep doing this after the pandemic is over,” Bazinet says. “I really wasn’t expecting to make such a difference.”
Watch SpaceX launch its latest batch of Starlink satellites, including one with a sun visor – TechCrunch
SpaceX just launched its most important and historic launch ever this past weekend, flying NASA astronauts for the first time – on Wednesday, it’s set to follow that up with a less significant Falcon 9 rocket launch, but one that’s still vital to the company’s future. This mission is the latest of SpaceX’s Starlink launches, which the company is using to put up a vast network of small satellites to provide low-cost, high-bandwidth internet access to customers globally.
SpaceX’s Starlink mission today has a launch window of 9:25 PM EDT (6:25 PM PDT) and includes a payload of 60 more satellites for the constellation, which already has 420 operating in low Earth orbit. The goal is ultimately to launch as many as 40,000 or of these small satellites in order to blanket the globe with connectivity that’s broadly available, and that provides rock solid network consistency by handing off connections among the satellites as they make their way around the Earth.
This launch was originally scheduled to fly the week prior to SpaceX’s Demo-2 crewed mission, which carried NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on Saturday and Sunday, but was bumped due to a scheduling conflict with a ULA launch, and then further postponed until after the astronaut flight. It’s still already the fifth batch of 60 Starlink satellites that SpaceX has flown in 2020. In total, SpaceX is hoping for up to two dozen Starlink launches in total before year’s end, which will help it meet its goal of launching an initial beta service in Canada and the U.S. later this year, with a more global rollout following in 2021 or 2022.
This launch will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and will use a Falcon 9 first stage that flew previously on four previous missions. SpaceX will attempt to recover the booster again through a controlled landing, and will also try to catch the fairing halves used to protect the satellite cargo using its ‘Ms. Tree’ and ‘Ms. Chief’ ships.
One key novel element for this flight is the test of a new technology SpaceX is hoping will help mitigate the impact of the Starlink constellation on night sky observation from Earth. Scientists have complained that Starlink is bright enough to interfere with sensitive optical instrumentation used to gather data deep space bodies and phenomena. To address that, SpaceX has designed a deployable ‘visor’ system which extends from Starlink satellites post-launch and attempts to block sunlight reflecting off of their communications arrays.
SpaceX has equipped one of the 60 satellites on this launch with that system, as way of testing its efficacy before making it a standard part of the Starlink satellite build going forward. Depending on results, it could become a permanent fixture on all SpaceX’s Starlink spacecraft for future missions.
Should today’s launch be delayed (weather is currently looking around 60% favorable for the mission), there’s a backup opportunity tomorrow, June 4 at 9:03 PM EDT (6:03 PM PDT).
Why a rocket launch can’t unite us right now – The Verge
At 9:30AM ET on Tuesday, three American astronauts symbolically rang the Nasdaq opening bell from space — a celebration of SpaceX’s historic launch that sent astronauts into orbit three days prior. The short ceremony played out live on the Nasdaq’s giant screen in Times Square, with various NASA personnel clapping as one astronaut clanged a bell on the International Space Station.
The video glowed over the same streets where, in the days and nights before, thousands of demonstrators had gathered nearby to protest systemic racism and police brutality against black Americans.
This kind of cognitive dissonance has permeated SpaceX’s first passenger flight — the first time that NASA astronauts have launched from the US in nearly a decade. NASA has been waiting for this moment since the last Space Shuttle landed in 2011, and now the agency wants to celebrate. It wants the United States and the world to celebrate, too. But if the space community expects the world to care about the things we do in space, there must be an acknowledgment of how broken things are on the ground and the injustices that still exist in the United States.
That might mean passing up the chance to ring the bell on Wall Street while the economy remains in tatters. It might mean a compassionate statement from the crew addressing the people on the Earth below, instead of answering rote questions from dignitaries and press.
There are eerie echoes between this SpaceX launch and Apollo 8, as others have pointed out. That mission, the first to reach the vicinity of the Moon, launched in 1968, a year that mirrors 2020 in its apocalyptic bleakness. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. had sparked protests throughout the country. Space enthusiasts like to look back on that mission with rose-colored glasses, as something that served as a shining beacon of hope during a tough time for the country.
But as others have pointed out, Apollo 8 didn’t fix the turmoil of the time. Just look at where we stand today. Likewise, SpaceX’s launch did not unite the country or the world, though NASA certainly tried to make that claim. “This was an amazing moment of unity for the nation,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a call with the astronauts after the launch. “It was an amazing moment for the whole world to look out in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges. We’re able to have very, very special moments where we can all look at the future and say that things are going to be brighter tomorrow than they are today.”
If only it were that simple. The problem that NASA and the space community doesn’t often understand is that spaceflight still isn’t inclusive. These launches may be fun and emotional to watch, but they don’t always feel like they’re for everyone. Space is still an exclusive and expensive domain, and the people who are in charge of this industry are still predominately male and white. The idea that a launch could bring the public together during a time when widespread racism and injustice are at the forefront of people’s minds is naive at best.
To be fair to NASA, Bridenstine acknowledged that an important space launch couldn’t “fix” the world. “Look, I think what NASA does is astonishing. It’s impressive, and it does bring people together,” he said. “If the expectation was that things on the ground were going to change because we launched a rocket, I think maybe the expectation might have been a little high.” He then proceeded to talk about just how many people tuned into NASA and SpaceX’s launch coverage over the weekend.
Those numbers are just not important right now. Yes, the launch must have been a small bright moment for people who turned their attention to a rocket soaring into space for one brief moment this weekend. But if the space community wants to really have a uniting effect on the world, it must be deeply rooted in the happenings of Earth. And the space world seems to exist in a bubble where these things just don’t have an effect.
While NASA acknowledged the problems going on down on the surface throughout the SpaceX launch, the statements didn’t stray much from touting the idea that this launch was a beacon of hope for the world during a difficult time. Meanwhile, the industry has mostly sheltered in its celebratory bubble. While many other major industries have issued a flurry of statements addressing the protests, the giants of the spaceflight industry remained silent.
Instead, compassionate demands for change have been left to individuals in the spaceflight world, including former astronauts.
“It is not this mission that will bring us together but the individual people following it who step forward to lock arms with people we don’t know but must learn to trust,” former astronaut and former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said on Twitter.
“Today demands we take pride not only in reaching the sky, but also sustained heights of decency, truth, compassion and justice for all, now!” former astronaut Mae Jemison said on Twitter.
“America let’s get our crap together,” former astronaut Leland Melvin said during a Facebook video. “This is unsatisfactory. We’ve got to stop this. And it’s going to be the good people that do nothing now that start doing something to stamp this hatred, evil, and racism out.”
Even if the space industry were to come out with a unified statement, from the outside, it feels like it’s more or less business as usual within the space world. NASA and space companies continue to move forward with many of the same things they had planned, such as handing out contracts for major programs, making major announcements, and launching vehicles. But the times are anything but business as usual. If the space community wants to unite people, then it must make people feel like they are part of space, and that means being conscious of where people’s lives are on the ground. It means committing to fix the wrongs in our society while also building vehicles to break the bonds of gravity.
Only then will people feel like they can come together to wonder in our journey toward the stars.
Archer (shoulder) will miss 2020 season – TSN
2 new cases of COVID-19, bringing total long-term care residents infected to 5 – CBC.ca
Watch SpaceX launch its latest batch of Starlink satellites, including one with a sun visor – TechCrunch
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