About five years ago, Netflix revamped its streaming apps and rolled out the worst feature it’s ever developed. Even if you like it, you know which one I’m talking about — bringing video playback “forward” to make things more like cable TV. At first, pulling up a show or movie and pausing for a moment too long would cause it to start playing. Then, simply highlighting a selection while scrolling meant it would start playing the trailer, or worse, playing a section of the movie backed by some random stock music Netflix pulled from somewhere.
It made casually browsing the service’s catalog a nightmare, but for whatever reason — I assume there was some analytical data showing it increased viewing — Netflix refused to change it. Since then, competitors like Disney+ and HBO Max have highlighted the “feature” as something they chose not to copy, and now, at long last, Netflix is providing a way to turn it off. You’ll need to pull up the Manage Settings page in your browser and disable AutoPlay Preview, but by pressing that one button, things can go back to the way they should’ve been all along. Was that really so hard, Netflix?
After 328 days in space, NASA astronaut Christina Koch is back on Earth. She returns holding the record for the longest stay in space by a woman, and she has earned bragging rights for another major milestone: She and fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir completed the first all-female spacewalk during Koch’s extended stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
To bolster road safety, Ford came up with a way to help cyclists communicate: a jacket that displays emoji. The prototype has an LED display on the rear, which is linked to a wireless remote attached to the handlebars. Cyclists might use it to display turn signals, a hazard symbol or just their current mood.
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In August, NASA detected a leak on the International Space Station. What followed was several weeks of investigation, including the isolation of crew members into one of the station’s Russian modules as an extreme precaution.
Ironically, NASA now believes the leak is located in the main work area of the Zvezda Service Module, the same one that was used for the evacuations.
More alarmingly, according to today’s update, ground analysis concluded that the leak “appeared to grow in size” — but it still doesn’t pose any immediate danger to the crew. The leak is “only a slight deviation to the crew’s schedule,” according to NASA.
“It’s a very, very small leak,” Greg Dorth, manager of the ISS Program External Integration Office at NASA, said during a Monday news briefing, as quoted by Spaceflight Now. “It’s an impact to our consumables, but we’ve planned for that. We can address the leak as we continue the investigation.”
The exact location of the leak is still unknown.
Current crew members, NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner used ultrasonic leak detectors to investigate the problem in both the US and Russian segments of the station.
Both Moscow and Houston Mission Control Centers have been tracking a tiny air leak for several months. A few weeks ago our crew isolated in the Russian segment of @Space_Station and closed as many hatches as possible in order to identify the location of the leak. pic.twitter.com/euJfQ6wuvF
SpaceX discovered unexpected damage to part of its Crew Dragon space capsule after the vessel carried its first astronauts this summer, officials said on Tuesday.
The Demo-2 mission flew NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on May 30. The two men stayed there for two months, then weathered a fiery fall through Earth’s atmosphere to splash down in the Gulf of Mexico on August 2.
But after the company recovered and studied the toasted space capsule up-close, examiners spotted something unusual: deep erosion on Crew Dragon’s heat shield.
That thermal protection system is a collection of heat-resistant tiles that line the spaceship’s vulnerable underbelly. It protects Crew Dragon by deflecting and absorbing heat that can reach 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit while the space capsule plummets through the atmosphere and creates superheated plasma on its return to Earth.
SpaceX expected to find some wear and tear, but not quite this much.
“We found, on a tile, a little bit more erosion than we wanted to see,” Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability, told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday.
Koenigsmann said the affected part of the heat shield is close to “tensions ties” that connect the Crew Dragon to its large cylindrical trunk. (The trunk helps propel the spacecraft in orbit but is thrown away before the spaceship begins reentry.) One of four areas surrounding those tension ties got deeply worn away by searing-hot plasma as Behnken and Hurley returned to Earth.
Still, the spaceship and its crew safely returned home despite the unexpected problem.
“At all times the astronauts were safe and the vehicle was working perfectly,” Koenigsmann said.
NASA and SpaceX revamped the heat shield for the next astronaut mission
Before Behnken and Hurley returned to Earth, Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO and chief designer, said reentry was the part of the mission that he worried most about.
NASA surveyed the heat shield for damage ahead of that return flight, while the Crew Dragon capsule was still docked to the space station. During its two months attached to the orbiting laboratory, small bits of space debris could have damaged the ship’s heat shield. The inspection relied on a robotic arm on the space station and some onboard cameras but did not turn up any problems.
It was only after Behnken and Hurley were safely back on Earth that SpaceX discovered the weak spot in its heat shield.
But these are the types of issues Behnken and Hurley’s flight was meant to find and iron out.
Whereas theirs was considered a demo mission, the Crew Dragon is next set to carry a crew on its first routine mission, called Crew-1. NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi are scheduled to launch aboard the Crew Dragon on October 31.
NASA and SpaceX have already reinforced the vulnerable part of the heat shield ahead of that flight, Koenigsmann said.
“We’ve gone in and changed out a lot of the materials to better materials,” Steve Stich, the program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which oversees the SpaceX astronaut missions, told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ve made the area in between these tiles better.”
NASA tested five samples of the new tile in a simulated environment that mimics reentry — a wind tunnel at its Ames Research Center in California.
“I’m confident that we fixed this particular problem very well,” Koenigsmann said. “Everything has been tested and is ready to go for the next mission.”
It’s unclear why the excessive heat-shield erosion didn’t show up on the prior demo mission, an uncrewed test flight in which Crew Dragon launched, docked to the space station, and returned to Earth with no human passengers. Koenigsmann speculated that the capsule may not have experienced the problem because it was lighter and had a slightly different trajectory on that mission.
“At the end of the day, it’s great that we found it on this ride,” he said. “This was not an unsafe situation at all. This is something that we observed and and then, basically, changed to make sure that nothing nothing bad will ever happen.”
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Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and his American peers on Tuesday expressed their readiness and excitement to fly aboard a spacecraft developed by U.S. aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, currently scheduled for liftoff on Oct 31.
“We are ready to fly,” Noguchi told a joint press conference with the crew ahead of what would be the second manned mission for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, while pointing out the diversity of the team members with various experiences and backgrounds as their strength.
The upcoming mission will mark the first in a series of regular, rotational flights to the International Space Station by SpaceX’s new crew transportation system following its certification by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Upon the first launch with astronauts of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in May, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch humans into orbit. Two NASA astronauts safely returned in August.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the next Crew-1 mission will be another “critical milestone” in the development of U.S. ability to launch astronauts in American rockets from the country’s soil since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
He also pointed to the significance of having an international crew, namely Noguchi, joining the mission and the importance of sending more astronauts to the ISS, increasing the capacity for scientific research on the orbiting laboratory.
The Crew-1 mission team is scheduled to launch aboard the Crew Dragon capsule, which they named “Resilience,” on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:40 a.m. on Oct. 31, and will stay on the ISS for approximately six months.
The team members are Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover and two mission specialists, Shannon Walker and Noguchi. Glover, a former military test pilot and a rookie astronaut, will reportedly be the first African American to stay on a long-duration mission to the ISS.
Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is a 55-year-old veteran of two space missions, having been aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2005 and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for a 161-day stay on the ISS between 2009 and 2010.
Noguchi said he and Walker had a “relatively short” time for preparation as they joined the team around February and March, but that the important thing is all of the members “contribute to this wonderful team.”
“This diversity definitely brings the team’s resilience,” he said.
SpaceX, officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and founded by Tesla Inc. billionaire Elon Musk, is working with NASA to develop a successor to the Space Shuttle transportation system.
NASA has invested in private companies in hopes of creating a safe, reliable and cost-effective means of transporting humans to the ISS and to foster commercial access to space.
Hopkins said at the press conference that he hopes the upcoming mission will mark the start of “opening up low-Earth orbit to more people — to potentially not just NASA astronauts and JAXA astronauts and cosmonauts, but to civilians that are out there.”
Meanwhile, as the liftoff is scheduled just ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, the American crew members said they are planning to cast their ballots from the ISS.
According to Walker, the astronauts will mark their choices on an electronic PDF file and email it to election officials.
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