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Jeff Bezos rides on company's 1st passenger flight to space and back – CBC.ca

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Jeff Bezos blasted into space Tuesday on his rocket company’s first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft.

The Amazon founder was accompanied by a hand-picked group: his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space.

“Best day ever,” Bezos said after the capsule touched down on the desert floor at the end of the 10-minute flight.

A post-launch media briefing will be held at 11 a.m. ET and streamed online.

Named after America’s first astronaut, Alan Shepard, the Blue Origin rocket soared from remote West Texas on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a date chosen by Bezos for its historical significance. He held fast to it, even as Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson pushed up his own flight from New Mexico in the race for space tourist dollars and beat him by nine days.

Blue Origin reached an altitude of about 106 kilometres, more than 16 kilometres higher than Branson’s July 11 ride. The 18-metre (60-foot) booster accelerated to Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound to get the capsule high enough, before separating and landing upright.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space tourism company Blue Origin, exits Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule after it parachuted safely down to the launch area with passengers Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk, near Van Horn, Texas, on Tuesday, July 20. (Blue Origin/The Associated Press)

The passengers had several minutes of weightlessness to float around the spacious white capsule. The window-filled capsule landed under parachutes, with Bezos and his guests briefly experiencing nearly six times the force of gravity, or 6 G’s, on the way back.

Sharing Bezos’ dream-come-true adventure was Wally Funk, from the Dallas area, one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests as NASA’s all-male astronaut corps in the early 1960s but never made it into space.

Joining them on the ultimate joyride was the company’s first paying customer, Oliver Daemen, a last-minute fill-in for the mystery winner of a $28 million US auction who opted for a later flight. The Dutch teen’s father took part in the auction, and agreed on a lower undisclosed price last week when Blue Origin offered his son the vacated seat.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket lifts off on Tuesday. The 18-metre booster accelerated to Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound to get the capsule high enough, before separating and landing upright. (Blue Origin/The Associated Press)

How to get on the next two 2021 flights

Blue Origin — founded by Bezos in 2000 in Kent, Wash., near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters — has yet to open ticket sales to the public or reveal the price. For now, it’s booking auction bidders. Two more passenger flights are planned by year’s end, said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith.

The recycled rocket and capsule that carried up Tuesday’s passengers were used on the last two space demos, according to company officials.

Virgin Galactic already has more than 600 reservations at $250,000 US apiece. Founded by Branson in 2004, the company has sent crew into space four times and plans two more test flights from New Mexico before launching customers next year.

Passengers of the Blue Origin ship enter the capsule near Van Horn, Texas, on Tuesday, before their 9 a.m. flight. (Blue Origin/The Associated Press)

Blue Origin’s approach was slower and more deliberate. After 15 successful unoccupied test flights to space since 2015, Bezos finally declared it was time to put people on board. The Federal Aviation Administration agreed last week, approving the commercial space licence.

Remarkable passengers for a space flight

Bezos, 57, who also owns The Washington Post, claimed the first seat. The next went to his 50-year-old brother, Mark Bezos, an investor and volunteer firefighter, then Funk and Daemen. They spent two days together in training.

University of Chicago space historian Jordan Bimm said the passenger makeup is truly remarkable. Imagine if the head of NASA decided he wanted to launch in 1961 instead of Alan Shepard on the first U.S. spaceflight, he said in an email.

“That would have been unthinkable!” Bimm said. “”It shows just how much the idea of who and what space is for has changed in the last 60 years.”

(Left to right) Mark Bezos, brother of Jeff Bezos; Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space tourism company Blue Origin; Oliver Daemen, of the Netherlands; and Wally Funk, aviation pioneer from Texas, flew on Blue Origin’s first space tourism flight today. (Blue Origin/The Associated Press)

Bezos stepped down earlier this month as Amazon’s CEO and just last week donated $200 million US to renovate the National Air and Space Museum. Most of the $28 million US from the auction has been distributed to space advocacy and education groups, with the rest benefiting Blue Origin’s Club for the Future, its own education effort.

Fewer than 600 people have reached the edge of space or beyond. Until Tuesday, the youngest was 25-year-old Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov and the oldest at 77 was Mercury-turned-shuttle astronaut John Glenn.

Both Bezos and Branson want to drastically increase those overall numbers, as does SpaceX’s Elon Musk, who’s skipping brief space hops and sending his private clients straight to orbit for tens of millions apiece, with the first flight coming up in September.

Despite appearances, Bezos and Branson insist they weren’t trying to outdo each other by strapping in themselves. Bezos noted this week that only one person can lay claim to being first in space: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who rocketed into orbit on April 12, 1961.

“This isn’t a competition, this is about building a road to space so that future generations can do incredible things in space,” he said on NBC’s “Today.”

WATCH | The impact of Richard Branson’s space flight:

Former NASA scientist Tanya Harrison discusses the importance of Virgin Galactic’s first space flight with Richard Branson and the impact it could have on future space travel. 3:01

Blue Origin is working on a massive rocket, New Glenn, to put payloads and people into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The company also wants to put astronauts back on the moon with its proposed lunar lander Blue Moon; it’s challenging NASA’s sole contract award to SpaceX.

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Oil Starts August With A Loss – OilPrice.com

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Oil Starts August With A Loss | OilPrice.com


Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Oil prices fell early on Monday to start August with losses after posting a fourth consecutive month of gains in July.  

Oil settled higher on Friday to end the fourth straight month of gains but erased Friday gains on Monday on resurging COVID cases globally, weak Chinese economic data, and higher oil supply from the OPEC+ group.

As of 11:05 a.m. EDT on Monday, WTI Crude was down 2.31 percent at $72.24 and Brent Crude was trading at $73.89, down 2.02 percent.

“Crude futures had more than reversed Friday’s modest gains in the early hours of Monday’s trading in Asia as headlines over the weekend brought mostly discouraging news on the Delta variant-led Covid resurgence marching across the globe,” Vanda Insights said in a note early on Monday.

“Top-of-mind for the oil market was China, where the worst Covid outbreak in months has spread to two more parts of the country — Fujian province and the megacity of Chongqing — health authorities said on Saturday,” Vanda Insights added.

China also saw its weakest manufacturing sector expansion in 15 months, according to the Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).

The weaker economic data and resurgence of COVID cases combined with the higher production from the OPEC+ group to weigh on oil prices at the start of August.

OPEC alone is estimated to have pumped in July its highest oil volumes since April 2020—at 26.72 million barrels per day (bpd), up by up 610,000 bpd from June, the monthly Reuters survey found on Friday. As of August, the OPEC+ alliance is putting another 400,000 bpd on the market.

This week, the market will be watching the new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi taking office and the potential implications for the nuclear talks, especially in light of last week’s drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker offshore Oman, after which the U.S. and the UK joined Israel in blaming Iran for the attack.

“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing throughout the region,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Ottawa sees slight drop in active COVID-19 cases Monday – CTV News Ottawa

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OTTAWA —
Ottawa Public Health is reporting a slight drop in the number of confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in the capital.

The public health unit said Monday that seven more people in Ottawa have tested positive for COVID-19 and eight people’s cases have resolved, dropping the number of known active cases by one.

To date, Ottawa has seen 27,827 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and 593 residents have died.

There are zero active COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa. There are no Ottawa residents in local hospitals with COVID-19 for a second straight day. No new deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Ottawa for an 18th straight day.

Ottawa Public Health reported a data correction in the number of people in Ottawa who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, saying those individuals who were previously listed among Ottawa vaccinations were not residents of Ottawa and have been removed from the total number of vaccinated residents. This resulted in a slight drop in the percentage of residents 12 and older who had received at least one dose.

There was no update from the provincial government Monday because of the Civic Holiday. Public Health Ontario will release Monday’s provincial figures alongside Tuesday’s at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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 25 to July 31): 4.6 (up from 4.1)
  • Positivity rate in Ottawa (July 23 to July 29): 0.5 per cent (unchanged)
  • Reproduction number (seven day average): 1.15 (up from 1.08)

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.

COVID-19 VACCINES IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health updates vaccine numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As of Monday:

  • Ottawa residents with 1 dose (12+): 767,352 (-4,274)*
  • Ottawa residents with 2 doses (12+): 661,965 (+7,096)
  • Share of population 12 and older with at least one dose: 83 per cent*
  • Share of population 12 and older fully vaccinated: 72 per cent
  • Total doses received in Ottawa**: 1,333,790

*As a result of ongoing quality assurance work on vaccination records in COVax, vaccinations previously assigned to Ottawa residents were found to be for people living outside of Ottawa. These corrections resulted in a small difference in the coverage from what Ottawa Public Health has previously reported.

**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. 

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

There are 50 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Monday, down from 51 on Sunday.

Ottawa Public Health reported eight newly resolved cases on Monday. The total number of resolved cases of coronavirus in Ottawa is 27,184.

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 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals and zero in intensive care.

Local ICUs have been COVID-19 free for more than a month.

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 CASES IN OTTAWA BY AGE CATEGORY

  • 0-9 years old: Two new cases (2,306 total cases)
  • 10-19 years-old: Three new cases (3,584 total cases)
  • 20-29 years-old: Zero new cases (6,245 total cases)
  • 30-39 years-old: One new case (4,254 total cases)
  • 40-49 years-old: One new case (3,663 total cases)
  • 50-59 years-old: Zero new cases (3,334 total cases)
  • 60-69-years-old: Zero new cases (1,965 total cases)
  • 70-79 years-old: Zero new cases (1,097 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)  

VARIANTS OF CONCERN

Ottawa Public Health data*:

  • Total Alpha (B.1.1.7) cases: 6,834
  • Total Beta (B.1.351) cases: 406
  • Total Gamma (P.1) cases: 35 
  • Total Delta (B.1.617.2) cases: 51 (+2)
  • Percent of new cases with variant/mutation in last 30 days: 42 per cent
  • Total variants of concern/mutation cases: 9,150 (+3)
  • 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 TESTING IN OTTAWA

The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce’s next testing update will be released Tuesday, Aug. 3 because of the Civic Holiday on Monday.

On Friday, the taskforce said the positivity rate in Ottawa residents for the week of July 23 – July 29 was 0.5 per cent.

The average turnaround from the time the swab is taken at a testing site to the result is 17 hours.

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COVID-19 vaccine wastage concerns in Canada as Moderna doses expire this week – Global News

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Thousands of COVID-19 vaccines are set to expire in Canada this week, with pharmacists in Ontario raising concern about wastage amid hesitancy to mix different doses.

In Ontario alone, “several thousand” doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will expire on Aug. 6, said Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA).

“It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances,” he said in an interview with Global News on Monday.

Read more:
Ontario pharmacists groups says province in `critical’ period to use up Moderna shots

The vaccine supplies come in their frozen state each week and once they are delivered to a pharmacy and thawed, there is a 30-day window for the doses to be used — or they have to be disposed of.

Bates said they were looking at transferring some doses to pharmacies in other parts of the health-care system so they don’t have to throw them away.

“We’re going to use every tool we have to avoid wastage, but the reality is that we’re going to see some wastage starting Aug. 6.”


Click to play video: 'Expiry date for thousands of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses extended'



2:30
Expiry date for thousands of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses extended


Expiry date for thousands of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses extended – May 29, 2021

Meanwhile, thousands of expired AstraZeneca vaccine doses have already gone to waste in provinces in Atlantic Canada after demand dried up in June and July.

The government in Newfoundland and Labrador was able to transfer 1,400 doses of AstraZeneca to Ontario in mid-May for use there as they neared their expiry date. However, the province had 2,848 doses of the vaccine expire at the end of June. Nearly 2,900 doses were wasted in July.

Prince Edward Island also disposed of 3,200 expired doses of AstraZeneca, the province announced last month.

Read more:
Experts fear AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine wastage after NACI recommends mixing doses

But the national wastage rate so far has been “very minimal and far below initial estimates,” according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

As of July 12, less than 0.05 per cent of total doses delivered by the federal government have been wasted, PHAC told Global News.

The boost in vaccine supply coupled with dropping vaccination rates has left unused doses nearing expiration data, said Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious diseases specialist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“We’re now into that smaller group, which … has been a little bit reluctant (to get vaccinated) up until now,” he said.


‘Brand hesitancy’

Bates said there has been a steep decline in demand for the Moderna shots over the last two weeks in Ontario.

“We’ve seen that in public health clinics where people are turning away when they find out it’s Moderna or not showing up,” he said.

Read more:
Pfizer or Moderna? ‘There’s no better or worse,’ Ontario’s COVID-19 science chief says

Hesitancy around the Moderna vaccine and mixing doses has led to a lot of cancellations and no-shows at pharmacies, said Bates, adding that people demand Pfizer over Moderna.

Since June, several provinces have been mixing COVID-19 vaccines under the recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

According to NACI, people who have received a first dose of an mRNA vaccine should be offered the same vaccine for their second dose, but mRNA vaccines can be interchangeable if the same product is not readily available for the second dose.


Click to play video: 'Health officials allay concerns about mixing mRNA vaccines'



1:44
Health officials allay concerns about mixing mRNA vaccines


Health officials allay concerns about mixing mRNA vaccines – Jun 21, 2021

The so-called “brand hesitancy” is also present in Alberta, where an Edmonton pharmacist said that he’s noticed roughly 40 per cent of customers have turned down the Moderna vaccine after a first dose of Pfizer.

“Once they hear that we’re giving Moderna, there’s been a little bit of a pushback,” pharmacist Eddie Wong told Global News in a previous interview.

Evans said while both the mRNA vaccines are equally effective, Pfizer has done a “really good job of branding itself.”

“It’s not so much that Moderna has a bad name, it’s just that Pfizer has really dominated the market in mRNA vaccines.”

As for mixing doses, he said there was evidence in several studies that backed the strategy used by Canada and in Europe, adding it “was not an inferior approach.”


How to prevent wastage?

Amid wastage concerns, Evans said Canada should look towards either donating vaccines to other countries facing financial issues or other constraints.

Selling them to nations like Australia, which has seen a spike in cases recently and is short on vaccine supply, is another option.

“If we have large quantities like that, we should be right now talking to other countries.”

Provinces should also try to send doses that haven’t been thawed yet to other regions where there is a shortage in supply, he said.

Bill Campbell, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Health, told Global News on Monday that the province was “working with federal partners to explore vaccine donation opportunities in the future”.


Click to play video: 'Will Canadians need third COVID-19 vaccine dose?'



2:14
Will Canadians need third COVID-19 vaccine dose?


Will Canadians need third COVID-19 vaccine dose?

According to Bates, one strategy to avoid wastage would be to start offering a third booster dose to seniors, high-risk populations of morbidities and immunocompromised people.

“That’s a scenario that we’re asking the Ministry of Health to explore and move on quickly,” he said.

Read more:
Canada doesn’t need vaccine boosters yet, but planning for possibility: Tam

But some experts are skeptical about the lack of clinical evidence when it comes to booster shots.

Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada, told reporters during a virtual news conference on July 30, that even though the evidence is quickly “evolving,” there’s “not enough data” to support it quite yet – despite countries like Israel pushing ahead with a vaccination top-up.

“There’s not enough data to suggest that in Canada we would go into boosting as of yet,” she said. “But it is something that we’re watching very carefully.”

— with files from Global News’ Sean O’Shea, Chris Chacon and the Canadian Press.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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