Bezos and his three crewmates engaged in a crash course of training on Sunday in preparation for the flight. The suborbital launch from a site in the high desert plains of West Texas marks a crucial test for Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, a 60-foot-tall (18.3 meters) and fully autonomous rocket-and-capsule combo that is central to plans by Bezos to tap a potentially lucrative space tourism market.
The planned 11-minute trip from the company’s Launch Site One facility is set to include the oldest person ever to go to space – 82-year-old trailblazing female aviator Wally Funk – and the youngest – 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen. Joining them for Blue Origin’s launch will be Bezos, the founder and current executive of Amazon.com Inc, and his brother Mark Bezos.
Jeff Bezos invites brother to space on first crewed flight of rocket
The mission would represent the world’s first unpiloted flight to space with an all-civilian crew. Blue Origin, which will have none of its staff astronauts or trained personnel onboard, expressed confidence at a briefing on Sunday.
“We are not currently working any open issues and New Shepard is ready to fly,” Flight Director Steve Lanius said, adding that the weather forecast appeared favorable for the scheduled liftoff at 8 a.m. CDT (13:00 GMT) on Tuesday.
New Shepard is due to launch nine days after rival Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, successfully carried out a suborbital from New Mexico with the British billionaire inside its rocket plane.
Blue Origin’s training program, according to the company, includes safety briefings, a simulation of the spaceflight, a review of the rocket and its operations, and instruction on how to float around the craft’s cabin after the capsule sheds Earth’s gravity.
Bezos and his crewmates had started the 14-hour program on Sunday and would be ready to “experience the flight of a lifetime,” Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut sales at Blue Origin, said. Cornell said Funk was keen to do a few somersaults during the flight.
New Shepard, which cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft, is named for Alan Shepard, who in 1961 became the first American in space during a suborbital flight as part of NASA’s pioneering Mercury program.
New Shepard, like Virgin Galactic’s flight, will not enter into orbit around Earth but will take the crew some 62 miles up (100 km) before the capsule returns by parachute. Virgin Galactic’s flight reached 53 miles (86 km) above Earth.
Billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s space transportation company, SpaceX, is pledging to go even higher in September, sending an all-civilian crew for a several-day orbital flight aboard its Crew Dragon capsule.
Blue Origin launches reusable New Shepard rocket into space
Illustrating tensions in the high-stakes “billionaire space race,” Blue Origin has described Virgin Galactic as falling short of the 62-mile-high-mark (100 km) – called the Kármán line – set by an international aeronautics body as defining the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
The U.S. space agency NASA and the U.S. Air Force both define an astronaut as anyone who has flown higher than 50 miles (80 km), as Branson achieved with his flight.
Blue Origin’s next flight would likely be at the end of September or early October, said Chief Executive Officer Bob Smith. Smith said the “willingness to pay continues to be quite high” for people interested in future flights.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; additional reporting by Nathan Layne in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; Editing by Will Dunham and Lisa Shumaker)
© 2021 Reuters
Toronto Pearson Airport begins separating arrivals based on vaccination status – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
International passengers arriving at Toronto Pearson Airport will now be separated by vaccination status before heading through customs, the airport confirmed Saturday.
“Passengers entering Canada from the U.S. or another international destination may be split into vaccinated and non/partially-vaccinated queues prior to reaching Canada Customs,” Beverly MacDonald, Senior Advisor of Communications at Toronto Pearson told CTV News Toronto Saturday,
The airport said the decision was made to help streamline border clearance, as there are different entry requirements for vaccinated and non- or partially-vaccinated travellers.
Currently, fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada may qualify for certain exemptions to quarantine and testing requirements, while non- or partially-vaccinated travellers will not qualify for exemptions to quarantine and testing requirements.
Come Aug. 9, fully vaccinated U.S. citizens will be exempt from quarantine and testing requirements, much like their Canadian counterparts.
“We know that the arrivals experience is different for passengers than it was in pre-pandemic times, and we appreciate passengers’ patience,” MacDonald said.
Pearson isn’t the first Canadian airport to implement this strategy. Vancouver International Airport has also begun separating arrivals by vaccination status, installing signs directing vaccinated and non- or partially- vaccinated travellers into separate customs lines.
Recently, Ontario Premier Doug Ford shut down the idea of “vaccine passports” — proof of vaccination intended to help streamline international travel.
“The answer is no, we’re not gonna do it. We’re not gonna have a split society,” Ford told reporters last week.
However, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table issued a 21-page briefing on the potential of a provincial vaccine certification program Wednesday, claiming that one “could be useful in reopening higher-risk settings … sooner.”
Ottawa's new COVID-19 cases back in double digits – CTV Edmonton
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is back above 40 for the first time in two weeks, as the city’s vaccine administration pace slows down.
Ottawa Public Health reported seven new cases of the virus in Ottawa on Friday. There were no new resolved cases for the second straight day, so the number of active cases has climbed to 41.
It’s the most since July 9, when there were 43 active cases in the city.
There are still no COVID-19 patients in hospital in the city, which has been the case for nine days now.
Earlier provincial officials had reported 10 new cases in Ottawa on Friday. Their numbers sometimes differ from Ottawa Public Health’s data due to different reporting times.
Provincewide, officials reported 192 new cases as the seven-day average crept up slightly.
The city administered an average of about 5,500 second shots on Wednesday and Thursday, down from more than 13,000 second doses per day last week.
Eighty-three per cent of eligible residents have received at least one shot. Sixty-nine per cent are now fully vaccinated.
Earlier this week, the city closed several vaccination clinics due to decreasing demand.
OTTAWA’S KEY COVID-19 STATISTICS
Ottawa is now in Step 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan.
Ottawa Public Health data:
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (July 15 to July 21): 3.9 (up from 2.7)
- Positivity rate in Ottawa (July 16 to July 22): 0.5 per cent (up from 0.2 per cent July 14-20)
- Reproduction number (seven day average): 1.28 (up from 1.18)
Reproduction values greater than 1 indicate the virus is spreading and each case infects more than one contact. If it is less than 1, it means spread is slowing.
ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA
There are 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, up from 24 on Wednesday. It’s the most active cases in the city in nearly two weeks.
For the second straight day, no more people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. The total number of resolved cases of coronavirus in Ottawa is 27,134.
The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.
HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA
Ottawa Public Health is reporting zero people in Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19 related illnesses for a ninth straight day.
There are no patients in the intensive care unit.
These data are based on figures from Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, which refer to residents of Ottawa and do not include patient transfers from other regions.
COVID-19 VACCINES IN OTTAWA
Ottawa Public Health updates vaccine numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As of Friday:
- Ottawa residents with 1 dose (12+): 765,350 (+2,089)
- Ottawa residents with 2 doses (12+): 624,143 (+10,919)
- Share of population 12 and older with at least one dose: 83 per cent
- Share of population 12 and older fully vaccinated: 69 per cent
- Total doses received in Ottawa: 1,237,860 (+8,008)
*Total doses received does not include doses shipped to pharmacies and primary care clinics, but statistics on Ottawa residents with one or two doses includes anyone with an Ottawa postal code who was vaccinated anywhere in Ontario.
VARIANTS OF CONCERN
Ottawa Public Health data*:
- Total Alpha (B.1.1.7) cases: 6,830 (+7)
- Total Beta (B.1.351) cases: 405
- Total Gamma (P.1) cases: 35 (+1)
- Total Delta (B.1.617.2) cases: 43 (+5)
- Percent of new cases with variant/mutation in last 30 days: 45 per cent
- Total variants of concern/mutation cases: 9,117 (+8)
- Deaths linked to variants/mutations: 101
*OPH notes that that VOC and mutation trends must be treated with caution due to the varying time required to complete VOC testing and/or genomic analysis following the initial positive test for SARS-CoV-2. Test results may be completed in batches and data corrections or updates can result in changes to case counts that may differ from past reports.
COVID-19 CASES IN OTTAWA BY AGE CATEGORY
- 0-9 years old: Zero new cases (2,299 total cases)
- 10-19 years-old: One new case (3,572 total cases)
- 20-29 years-old: One new case (6,234 total cases)
- 30-39 years-old: Three new cases (4,246 total cases)
- 40-49 years-old: Zero new cases (3,649 total cases)
- 50-59 years-old: One new case (3,332 total cases)
- 60-69-years-old: One new case (1,962 total cases)
- 70-79 years-old: Zero new cases (1,095 total cases)
- 80-89 years-old: Zero new cases (856 total cases)
- 90+ years old: Zero new cases (520 total cases)
- Unknown: Zero new cases (3 cases total)
CASES OF COVID-19 AROUND THE REGION
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit: Zero new cases
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health: Two new cases
- Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health: Zero new cases
- Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: Zero new cases
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit: Three new cases
Jeff Bezos' very negative rocket launch: One minuscule fix could have avoided it – Inverse
A tsunami of dunks arrived in the wake of Jeff Bezos’ 11-minute rocket ride in a questionably shaped New Shepard launch vehicle earlier this week.
It seemed that large percentages of highly-online people were of the opinion that the world’s wealthiest man had just squandered enormous amounts of cash on a pointless joyride and that the reportedly $10 billion he’s invested so far in Blue Origin, his aerospace company, could have been better spent elsewhere.
Even reporter Soledad O’Brien got in on the pessimistic hot takes:
The question is, did Bezos and Blue Origin miss an opportunity to better shape the narrative around their media event? And, if so, what could they have done?
Revelations that Bezos might only pay a true tax rate of 0.98 percent — far less than the average American — and his moves to squash unionizing efforts at his company Amazon, certainly didn’t help the matter. The cowboy-hat-wearing CEO’s own comments thanking “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this,” were similarly tone-deaf, drawing condemnation from U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others.
But in some ways, those issues are orthogonal to the matter of what kind of value a suborbital flight like Bezos’ can bring to the world.
To put it another way, there is one tweak that Bezos could have made to improve the public’s perception of space travel and science, which undoubtedly took a severe beating because of his clumsy approach.
It’s something that Elon Musk — who is, no doubt just as big a huckster as Bezos — does with ease, and claims an army of space-loving fans because of it: Musk merely often explains there’s a larger purpose at play than just a rich boomer going to space.
The technology developed for the dick-shaped rocket can be used for good here, and the scientific discovery and research that tech may enable is potentially good for all humanity.
“People didn’t understand why it was important that commercial companies replicate something government did decades ago,” Laura Forczyk, owner of the space consulting firm Astralytical, tells Inverse.
“I like to talk about how money spent in space isn’t really spent in space; it’s spent on Earth. All the technologies created in spaceflight are useful to society.”
Forczyk saw the jaunt in terms of its potential for scientific discovery. New Shepard has already carried experiments for universities, NASA, and private companies on previous uncrewed flights and intends to continue to do so. Along with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which has also started taking experimental payloads into suborbital space, a larger market could develop for research opportunities in this region, Forczyk says.
Yet Blue Origin’s ham-handed attempts at self-promotion haven’t always been the finest. The company, which did not respond to a request for comment from Inverse, sent what appeared to be an extremely petty tweet aimed at their competitor, Virgin Galactic, shortly before the latter’s launch a week earlier:
“They were perhaps trying to point out, from a marketing standpoint, that their product and service had superior features,” Chris Lewicki, an engineer and space entrepreneur, tells Inverse. “In retrospect that was clearly a bad idea.”
Lewicki thinks that the misstep was relatively minor and likely to be soon forgotten. “But it creates a bit of a predisposition for people to be less receptive to the message that follows,” he said.
Perhaps Blue Origin won’t ultimately pay much of a price for such lapses in judgment. Research has shown that even negative word-of-mouth can increase public awareness of a brand and help sell goods, Jessie Liu, a marketing professor at Johns Hopkins University, tells Inverse.
“Compared to [Elon Musk’s] SpaceX, Blue Origin was born with far less hype and publicity in the game of space travel,” she writes via email. “So even criticism about Jeff Bezos that gets people to talk about Blue Origin and create awareness is not necessarily a bad thing for the company.”
There might be an opportunity for the aerospace company to identify and covert the most engaged consumers through negative word-of-mouth, Liu added, since such comments tend to stem from people’s emotional investment, and passion can lead to activity.
Though he understood where some of it was coming from, the negative commentary frustrates Lewicki: “There seems to be a lot of attention on two or three individuals, and a wish that they shouldn’t be that wealthy or that they should be using their wealth in some different way.”
Both he and Forczyk point out that the fact that Bezos and other billionaires aren’t paying as much as they might to the U.S. government in taxes is more a matter for legislators to try to solve, and that Bezos is taking active steps to donate parts of his vast wealth to causes he deems valuable.
“For me, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection,” says Lewicki. “If I’m complaining that Bezos isn’t using his resources to charitably solve problems, then how do I rank up with using my time?”
For us standing at this moment in history, it can be hard to know what future results will come from something like this first passenger launch of New Shepard. Comparing Blue Origin to Amazon, Lewicki says that Bezos seems particularly adept at creating never-before-seen kinds of infrastructure to, say, routinely deliver packages quicker than anyone thought possible.
In the end, the haters are going to say whatever they want about Bezos and his pursuits. It’s possible (probable, even) that even if Bezos was clear about the loftier ambitions of Blue Origin — “millions of people living and working space” is the tag line — the launch would still be received poorly.
But the billionaire’s passion for space travel is deep-seated, and Lewicki says Bezos has personally told him he’s never planning to give up on that dream.
“Right now, the message he’s talking about is building the road to space,” he said. “That’s the theme he’s employing.”
Advocates for space exploration and the advancement of science and technology can hope that the road to space is a well-thought-out one, with the no-good optics and naked commercialism of this past week’s 11-minute flight quickly replaced with efforts that more clearly serve the greater good.
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