Boats Gatecrash SpaceX Landing
It was the first of its kind; a spaceship made by civilians taking American astronauts to the space station. It was an event to celebrate and applaud, and apparently, people wanted an up-close and personal view of the landing.
When astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour successfully splashed into the sea off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, on August 2, they were not expecting to be met by boatloads of people wanting to capture the event on camera. But that is exactly what happened.
“That was not what we were anticipating,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a briefing. “After they landed, the boats just came in. We need to do a better job next time for sure.” Some of the boaters were able to get fairly close to the floating capsule. One enthusiast even had a Trump banner waving on his boat.
The U.S. Coast Guard had cleared the landing zone earlier, making sure there were no obstacles – including people in boats – that might get in the way of the splashdown, but spectators still found a way to get a closeup view of the SpaceX ship. “That capsule was in the water for a good amount of time and those boats just made a beeline for it,” Bridenstine said. “There are things that we’re going to look at, that we need to do better at, for sure.”
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell elaborated on the need for better security. “The lesson learned here is that we probably need more Coast Guard assets, and maybe more SpaceX and NASA assets as well,” she said. “This was a demonstration mission. This is the time that you go learn about these things, and we’ll certainly be better prepared next time.”
Other than the friendly party crashers, the SpaceX mission was a success. It was the first test of the spacecraft using humans instead of robots to travel to the international space station.
President Trump Threatens Nevada Over Mail-In Votes
The 2020 presidential election is quickly approaching. In November, Americans will cast their votes and the United States will find out whether it will have another four years of President Donald Trump or a new commander in chief to lead and guide our nation. However, the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown that has resulted from it has changed the way voting may be done this year – and the president is displeased enough that he is contemplating suing at least one state for trying to go from traditional in-person voting to mail-in ballots.
Voter fraud is a real concern among many Americans, including the president. In April, Trump argued that mail-in voting “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” There have been cases where deceased people have cast votes, and multiple ballots have been sent in from the same person. Mail-in voting, it is argued, will make it easier for fraudulent votes to be mistakenly counted.
Nevada recently switched to mail-in voting and President Trump responded to the act in a tweet on August 3. “In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state,” he tweeted. “Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”
In the past couple of decades, U.S. Mail has been experiencing financial troubles. Part of this is due to the invention of the internet with free email, as well as FedEx and UPS courier deliveries taking away a big portion of the business. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said there have already been severe cuts to reduce costs, and he was concerned that they would not be able to deliver the ballots in time for the election.
The move to mail-in ballots has swept the nation. While Mr. Trump is adamantly against the move, he does not oppose absentee voting because those voters have to go through an approval process first, which means there will be some vetting, which reduces the chance of fraudulent voting.
Coronavirus Sniffer Dogs in Training
Man’s best friend can play fetch, warn of intruders, take you on walks, and now maybe even detect Coronavirus. Service dogs are well-known to help people with certain conditions such as blindness and even those suffering from chronic anxiety disorders. Some have also been trained to detect when their owners are getting ready to have a seizure. Claire Guest is the co-founder and chief executive of Medical Detection Dogs in Milton Keynes, England, where they are beginning a trial to see if the dogs can detect the virus.
Six dogs are currently participating: Asher, Digby, Jasper, Norman, Star, and Storm. Sterilized socks, stockings, and face masks worn by health care staff in London will be sent for the animals to sniff in a test to see if they can detect the disease. They expect to receive about 3,200 samples to test. “At the moment, we are cutting up tiny strands of a tennis ball and then touching the strands with a piece of paper and hiding the paper, and they are able to find it,” Guest said. “They are incredibly skilled.”
Only the virus is new to Dr. Guest, who has previously trained dogs to scent out cancer, malaria, and Parkinson’s disease. She began training dogs to detect cancer in 2002 and then set up the charity group in 2008. In 2009, Daisy, a fox-red Labrador, started pawing at her chest. The canine had been trained to find bladder and prostate cancer. Guest visited her doctor, and they discovered she had a breast tumor, which was so deep it would have been difficult to find had Daisy not warned her. “I know from my own experience how clever these dogs are,” she said. “They are primed and ready for the task and we are very optimistic we can help in the fight against coronavirus.”
Once the dogs are trained, the group anticipates they can test about 250 people per hour. The idea is to take the canines to airports to check travelers.