NASA Teams Up With SpaceX for Mission
American astronauts are once again going to make a trek into space. This mission is the first time NASA will send astronauts to space from U.S. soil since 2011, and everyone is pretty excited about the adventure. Lift off will occur on May 27 of this year in Florida, from the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island.
The travelers will be riding in a Crew Dragon spacecraft and thrust into the orbit by a Falcon 9 rocket. These designs were created by SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk in 2002, and this will be the first time a private company is responsible for sending astronauts into space. The purpose of the NASA-SpaceX partnership is to transport American astronauts to the International Space Station.
The Space Station is the biggest object in Earth’s orbit that was created by mankind. It is 357 feet long and supports crews stationed there who conduct experiments in the low gravity environment. From 1981 to 2011, American-made shuttles took astronauts into orbit, but on July 21, 2011, the final mission ended. Then, Americans depended on Russian Soyuz rockets to take them into orbit.
For nearly a decade, these were the only rockets that were able to transport people to the International Space Station. As of April this year, the Russians charged a whopping $86 million to foreign astronauts wanting a ride on missions.
The goal of this new NASA/SpaceX mission is to test how well a crew will be able to function in the craft. A test was conducted in March 2019 with an Earth-shaped plush toy and a dummy named “Ripley” as its only passengers – no humans. The mission was successful, and the Crew Dragon landed in the Atlantic Ocean just off Florida’s eastern coastline.
“Dragon will be fully autonomous,” SpaceX crew mission director Benjamin Reed said. “The expectation is [that] it can carry the crew safely to the station and bring them home without direct intervention.”
Mexicans Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo, which translates to the fifth of May, is not, as some think, the celebration of Mexico’s independence. In fact, the holiday is not celebrated nearly as much in Mexico as it is in the United States. In its native country, the day is also known as Battle of Puebla Day, to commemorate when the Mexican army claimed victory over France on May 5, 1862.
In 1861, Benito Juarez became president of Mexico. Unfortunately, the country had a lot of debt to European countries. Britain, France, and Spain sent their naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, to recoup some of that money. Britain and Spain reached an agreement with Mexico, but France decided it was a ripe opportunity to try and claim the territory for itself.
Later that year, a French fleet brought a force of troops to the area, which forced President Juarez to retreat. Although outnumbered and lacking in supplies, the Mexican troops fortified the town and were able to resist the French invasion. The battle only lasted for one day.
In Mexico, the festival might include military parades and reenactments of the Battle of Puebla, but for most citizens, it is an ordinary day.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is more about celebrating Mexican heritage and culture than a battle. Activists first brought the holiday to attention in the 1960s, and since then, May 5 has grown in popularity. Today, people across the nation celebrate with Mariachi bands, parades, and traditional foods.
Chinese Students Use Hats to Social Distance
Students in China headed back to school this month. With the Coronavirus still a threat and social distancing in place, young children at one school have used creativity and a history lesson to keep a safe distance from each other.
In a city called Hangzhou in Eastern China, children at Yangzheng Elementary School designed hats that have extensions on the sides. The “wings” span about 3.2 feet across. The students were inventive, using balloons, birds, rainbows, and leaves to decorate the hats. One funny student added googly eyes to their creation while another decided to be decked out as royalty with a crown on top of the cap.
The hats are designed to remind the kids to keep a distance from each other during school hours. “We’re advocating students to wear a one-meter hat and maintain one meter’s distance,” said the school’s principal, Hong Feng.
The hats are a throwback to the Song Dynasty, who were the rulers of China between 960 and 1279. The founder of the dynasty, Emperor Taizu of Song, didn’t like the idea of people whispering when they got together, afraid they were plotting against him. He added wide prongs onto the sides of headwear, making a great tool to prevent quiet conversations. As Eileen Chengyin, a Duke University professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies, said, “The long horizontal plumes on Song Dynasty toppers were supposedly to prevent officials from conspiring sotto voce with one another while at court – so social distancing was in fact their original function.”