At a press conference on 5 July 1969, 11 days before the launch of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sat on stage in a plastic box with blowers making sure they did not inhale airborne germs from the sizeable gathering of journalists.
Asked about the risk of getting stranded on the moon, Armstrong replied: “Well, that’s an unpleasant thing to think about.”
More than half a century later humans are now finally going back to earth’s nearest neighbour and, once again, obliged to sell the enterprise to the public. The four astronauts – three Americans and a Canadian – who will fly around the moon on Nasa’s Artemis II came to Washington last week to charm members of Congress and the media.
The turnout for a press conference at the Canadian embassy was more modest than for Armstrong and co. Instead of a plastic box, the blue flight suited astronauts spoke in an open air courtyard dominated by The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, a bronze sculpture of 13 mythological figures in a canoe.
But the most obvious break from the Apollo era was the diversity of the crew.
Christina Koch is the first woman and Victor Glover the first person of color assigned to a lunar mission. Nasa administrator Bill Nelson has called it “humanity’s crew”. The agency that does its best to stay above the political fray is aware of the potency of representation when it comes to public support and congressional funding.
Koch, mission specialist, noted on Wednesday that the many teams working on the mission “are a little bit different than the last time we went back to the moon, because we are going in an era this time where we go for all and by all, where everyone who has a dream and who’s willing to work hard on that dream is welcome at the table to contribute, and we’re going to be more successful as a result”.
Koch grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and spent summers on her family’s farm in Michigan. She studied electrical engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was selected as a Nasa astronaut in 2013.
Koch holds the world record for the longest spaceflight by a woman with a total of 328 days and took part in the first all-female spacewalks. The Nasa website says she enjoys “backpacking, rock climbing, paddling, surfing, running, yoga, community service, photography and travel”.
Glover, pilot, was born in Pomona, California, and holds various qualifications in engineering and military operational art and science. He joined the navy while still in college, was a test pilot in F-18 fighter jets and flew combat missions in Iraq. He was working as a legislative fellow in the office of Senator John McCain in 2013 when he was selected as an astronaut.
Glover served as pilot and second-in-command on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience and became the first Black astronaut to live on the International Space Station as part of a long-duration mission. During 168 days there he completed four spacewalks, spoke with vice-president Kamala Harris and delivered a university commencement address.
On Wednesday the Guardian asked both Koch and Glover about the challenge of growing up without obvious role models in a space program dominated by white men. Did they run into a set of assumptions from parents, teachers and others about who an astronaut is – and isn’t?
Koch replied: “When you look at the missions from 50 years ago, they looked very different than what you’re seeing here and I feel fortunate that, when I told my kindergarten teachers and all the teachers after that, I wanted to be an astronaut, they supported me. No one told me that that was unattainable. .
“What I can credit is people believing in me but also the role models I had. Even though I had never seen a female engineer in my small town in North Carolina, I did see people that believed in something and were brave enough to pursue what they believed in. Those were my heroes in North Carolina of the civil rights movement, who I learned about.”
Koch also named Sally Ride, who in 1983 became the first American woman to fly in space, and Mae Jemison, who in 1992 became the first African American woman to fly in space, among her sources of inspiration.
Glover, whose grandfather broke racial barriers to serve in the air force, recalled his childhood. “I took apart all my toys when I was a kid and I would put them back together and make new toys,” he said. “My parents were like, OK, they let me do it. I told them I want to pole vault – this was the earliest opportunity to leave the ground for an extended period of time – and my parents said, OK, be careful.”
“I told them I was going to go and fly after being in college to study engineering, and they were like, ooh, that sounds really dangerous and you might fly in combat but eventually they got to the point where they said, OK, be safe, we love you.”
He added: “I may have faced those challenges but I didn’t face them alone. I hope that I can continue to be there for someone who may be going through that in their own life. I’m sure we faced unique challenges but my mentors and my role models also weren’t just folks who looked like me. That’s a part of this as well.”
Glover recalled how a boy once came up to him and said Glover reminded him of Captain America, a Marvel comic book hero typically portrayed as white. “That really hit me in the heart. That kid looks up to me and he doesn’t look anything like me and that’s important. Some of my role models didn’t look like me but some of them did and so it’s great for us to have people that we look like and that we can relate to when we think about the things we want to do in the future.”
The mission’s commander is Reid Wiseman from Baltimore, Maryland. During a 165-day mission on the International Space Station, he and his crewmates completed more 300 scientific experiments.
Wiseman said: “These are our professional colleagues and we just look at them as astronauts, but every once in a while it hits me that we have the first woman, the first person of colour, the first Canadian on this mission to go see the far side of the moon.
“One of those moments was about three hours ago when we’re leaving Capitol Hill and there were just a couple of people outside. They’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, astronauts, we want to get a picture with you!’ We stopped, did a quick picture, and as we were walking away, it was a group of women and we overheard them go, ‘And there’s a woman!’ She [Koch] just stopped and turned around and it was this magical moment.
“We are astronauts and we start to just see who we are as professionals but those magical moments when we realise how much it does matter for people to see themselves in this crew, to see themselves in the professional Nasa astronaut corps, it is foundational to our nation and to our world.”
This is also the first moon crew to include someone from outside the US: Canada’s Jeremy Hansen, a former fighter pilot and the crew’s lone space novice.
He said: “It is important for me to see Canadians take ownership of their wins, and I often feel like as Canadians, we sell ourselves a little bit short, we maybe wouldn’t see ourselves as part of a moonshot and that just couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The Artemis crew, all in their 40s, will be the first to fly the Orion capsule, launching atop a space launch system rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida late next year. They will not land or even go into lunar orbit, but rather fly around the moon and head straight back to earth, a prelude to a lunar landing a year later.
Facing competition from China, Nasa aims to establish a long term moon presence to pave the way for sending the first humans to Mars in the late 2030s. But getting to the red planet will take an estimated nine months – a punishing physical and psychological journey for anyone.
Wiseman said: “The Earth is the most beautiful place we’ve ever seen and when you leave Earth and look back at it, you realise it’s alive and it is gorgeous. Floating is amazing. But floating also, after six months or a year, takes a huge toll on the human body. When we go to Mars, we’re going to have other issues that are going to become huge factors, which is: you’re not going to get to see your Earth every day. You’re not going to get that connection to your friends and family at home. You’re going to start to experience longer and longer communication delays, very high levels of radiation.”
“There are challenges that we will have to overcome. But in the last 20 years, working on the International Space Station, we’ve had people living off our planet since in the year 2000 continuously. So we’ve learned how to tackle these challenges and we’ve learned how important it is to have human interaction, human connection, to uplift those that are doing these missions. I know for sure when you put a crew on a vehicle and say you’re going to Mars, they are going to absolutely crush that mission and do well.”
Koch expressed a similar sentiment that implied, despite all the acrimony and self-doubt engulfing Washington in recent years, the can-do spirit is not dead yet. “After almost 11 months in space, my main thought in coming home about a Mars mission was: we can absolutely do this,” she said.
The City of Pointe-Claire invites residents to participate in the annual drinking water sampling and analysis campaign, conducted by the Service de l’eau de la Ville de Montréal, in order to measure the presence or absence of lead, in response to the requirements of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELCCFP).
To participate in the sampling campaign, your property must meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:
Lead water service line suspected or confirmed;
Property built before 1970 (for which the water service line has not been rebuilt);
Residential property with fewer than eight housing units;
Establishment offering services to children 6 years of age and younger.
If you wish to participate in this simple, quick and free sampling procedure, you must contact the City of Pointe-Claire Engineering Department before Wednesday, July 12 at 514-630-1208 or firstname.lastname@example.org. An appointment will be assigned to you between July 31 and August 9, 2023.
At the date and time of the appointment, a member of the Ville de Montréal’s personnel will visit your address and collect a small quantity of water, which will then be analyzed. The appointment should last about 45 minutes:
10 minutes in the home to take the water sample;
Stagnation period (30 minutes). The technician will wait in his or her vehicle;
5 to 10 minutes in the home for sampling after stagnation.
Please note that 20 properties are analyzed each year. If all the spots are filled for 2023, your name will be put on the list for 2024.
The sampling results will be communicated to the participating residents in fall 2023.
Sampling has been done for several years to analyze whether or not lead is present in the water. The results to date show an absence or presence of lead below the standards of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (MELCCFP), for all the addresses sampled in Pointe-Claire’s territory.
Every year, the City of Pointe-Claire informs its citizens of municipal projects that will be taking place over the year through its Web page, Major construction sites. The purpose of this informative page is to keep Pointe-Claire residents up to date on investments made to the reconstruction and maintenance of the City’s infrastructure.
This year, the City continues to refurbish and improve more than a dozen municipal infrastructures to ensure that streets, sidewalks and utilities remain in good condition for the next 50 years.
The drop-down menu, Major Construction Sites in 2023, is currently available to all Pointe-Claire residents.
One of the first things I did with Dyson Zone noise-cancelling and air-purifying headphones was pack them for a 6-hour flight from New York to California. And while I was initially excited to travel with the futuristic device, the experience wasn’t as user-friendly as I hoped.
The $949 Dyson Zone are headphones with air purification technology in the ear cups. The cups push filtered air through a magnetic visor that many have compared to the mask worn by DC super villain Bane. But concerns about looking nefarious aside, I thought that current fed to my nose and mouth through the Dyson Zone would be a major improvement to stale airplane air.
I knew that the headset wouldn’t protect me from any airborne viruses lurking among my fellow passengers. In fact, airplane air is filtered through sophisticated HEPA systems, while the Dyson Zone is only rated to filter certain pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide. In other words, there was little the Zone would offer in terms of improving the air I breathed. Instead, I hoped a constant, cool airflow could ease some of my flying anxiety. Bonus points if it fended off unsavory odors.
It’s a bulky product
When it came to packing the Dyson Zone, I had to leave behind the included purse-like carrying case. I opted for the soft drawstring bag in order to fit the headphones and visor into my backpack along with all my other tech and flight snacks.
But in the confines of the coach section, getting the Dyson Zone system out of my bag proved a struggle. Not only is the device a hefty 1.47 pounds with the visor, but the visor doesn’t stay attached if the headset gets bumped around. Juggling my iPad, water bottle and neck pillow, the Dyson Zone certainly didn’t grant me grace.
People didn’t stare
Once I had the Dyson Zone set up for use, I sat watching passengers fill into their seats, waiting for someone to notice the contraption on my face. No one did, or at least, I didn’t catch anyone giving a curious glimpse.
I’ll admit, I didn’t really care about whether people stared. But it surprised me that people didn’t seem interested in what I was wearing. Don’t they know the Dyson Zone could be a glimpse at the type of thing everyone uses in the future? At least I could settle in for the long flight knowing everyone around me would be minding their own business.
Battery life became a problem
About two hours into my flight, a status chime in the headphones indicated a low battery life (you can also check the battery status of the headphones on your iPhone, too). My options were to a) detach the visor and enjoy a bit more time with audio only or b) spend the rest of the flight tethered to a charging cable.
As I had been enjoying the filtered air, I opted for the latter. Luckily, I could reach the outlet between the seats. But the receptacle must’ve been a bit loose, because not long later, I heard the low battery life chime in my ears again. I eventually wiggled the charger at an angle that offered consistent charging through the flight. Still, not all airplanes provide outlet access, so I could’ve had a problem. I didn’t have room to pack my Sony WH-1000XM5s as a back up, after all.
Would I wear the Dyson Zone on a flight again?
Between the bulk and battery life struggle, the Dyson Zone probably won’t be coming with me on any more flights. As much as I enjoyed the cool airflow and the sound quality sufficed for binging reality TV, they’re impractical for air travel.
Unless I had more room at my seat (or perhaps a hook to hang the headset on) and guaranteed outlet access, the Dyson Zone isn’t worth the hassle. Plus, an airplane isn’t the ideal environment to benefit from the headset’s filtering features. Instead, I’ll stick to my non-air-purifying headphones for my next trip, and give Dyson Zone a go outside in the busy city.
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Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom’s Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.