Private mission's important innovations launch new
Private mission's important innovations launch new space age - Arab News
Donald Trump and Mike Pence watch the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 30, 2020. (Reuters)
https://arab.news/nx9r5 The international media, and with it millions of people worldwide, cheered this weeks successful launch of a manned spacecraft by SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS). It wasnt always clear to everyone why this mission was being hailed as historic. After all, the ISS is only 400 kilometers above Earth and, over its 20-plus years, there have been countless such trips to it, by both the US (NASA) and Russia (Roscosmos). OK, this time it was by a private company, SpaceX, although partially funded by NASA, but does that make it such a big deal? And why now, while we have a pandemic to contend with? Are there no risks of contaminating the ISS, where disinfection would be very difficult? Indeed, it was a bit surreal to see the astronauts and mission officials not wearing face masks; it was as if this whole event was happening pre-coronavirus, or was somehow totally disconnected and isolated from the rest of the world. First, one should remember that space missions are always thoroughly disinfected (mainly with radiation) to ensure that no germs are ever carried to space. Secondly, and confirming that the coronavirus wasnt going to stop important projects around the world, on April 9 Russia launched its Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS, carrying one NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts (the Russians call them cosmonauts riders and explorers of the cosmos). This leads me to the strategic aspects of the latest mission, which Jim Bridenstine, the current administrator (director general) of NASA described as a high-priority mission for the United States of America. Why? Because the US could not afford, literally and figuratively, to keep paying Roscosmos $86 million for each American astronaut sent to the ISS. Indeed, since its space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011, NASA has sent 38 astronauts aboard Soyuz, at a total cost of $3.3 billion, with one more to go in November. Moreover, the US wants to be in total control of who, what and when to launch into space. Most importantly, the US has always encouraged competition within the private sector in all fields. In space technology, as private companies started to emerge and mature (SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, and other upcoming firms), it became logical and strategic to entice them with contracts (NASA has signed multibillion-dollar contracts with SpaceX and Boeing) to push them to innovate and bring the price down. This brings me to what I consider the most important aspect of this mission and the reason why it can be considered a historic moment and a step up (not quite a quantum leap, to be honest) in the history of spaceflight: SpaceX has made important innovations, most notably its ability to bring the main launch rockets back to land on Earth after successfully sending up a spacecraft. This has not only helped bring the overall price down by more than 30 percent (since rockets can be reused for dozens of flights), it has also allowed for the introduction of new safety measures that protect the astronaut-carrying capsules. And now that SpaceX has proven itself capable of handling manned missions another first for this ambitious company it can guarantee its financial future (through vital contracts with NASA) and safely and confidently pursue its bigger goal: Getting humans to Mars. Who can believe that, more than 50 years after man first walked on the Moon (there were six Moon landings in total, with 12 astronauts walking on our nearest cosmic neighbor, performing various tasks and bringing back half a ton of rocks), no human has been sent farther than the ISS, 400 kilometers above ground? If you had asked people, specialists and laymen alike, back in the 1970s about when we would walk on Mars, I imagine that most would have said the early 2000s. Granted, Mars is hundreds of times farther and harder to reach than the Moon (seven months each way, with all that this implies in terms of supplies and safety measures), but manned missions to the red planet kept being pushed back decades that is until Elon Musk (the visionary founder and owner of SpaceX and other innovating companies) stepped up. Musk has always considered Mars his main goal and priority, and he knows that taking people there requires important quantum leaps in space technology. But he is doing it, one development at a time. SpaceX can now guarantee its financial future and safely and confidently pursue its bigger goal: Getting humans to Mars. Nidhal Guessoum This mission has opened up space to the private sector. The heavens are no longer reserved for the big superpowers (the US, Russia and China, with India soon to join); they are all of humanitys, including private companies and people. This will multiply missions and goals, including trips to space stations, asteroids to mine, the Moon, Mars, and who knows where else. The success of this new, different and somewhat spectacular mission (rockets separating, one of them landing back on a platform, everything broadcast live and in high resolution) comes at a good time for the US and the world. Much like back in the late 1960s, the US is suffering from deep political and racial divisions, while the world is also struggling to contain and overcome a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and broken economies big and small. In such times, any project that unites people and turns their attention to loftier goals and vistas, where race and nationality do not matter, is very welcome.
- Nidhal Guessoum is a professor of physics and astronomy at the American University of Sharjah, UAE. Twitter: @NidhalGuessoum
Other News Australia
Chiara de Blasio arrested in New York protests over George Floyd’s death - NEWS.com.au
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter Chiara arrested during New York protests
The mayor of New York Citys daughter is one of the almost 800 people who have been arrested in the city since the start of protests against the death of George Floyd in police custody.A law enforcement official said 25-year-old Chiara de Blasio was arrested Saturday night. An arrest report obtained by The New York Postsaid she refused to leave a Manhattan street, ordered cleared by officers because people were throwing objects. MORE: George Floyd’s family call for independent autopsy Chiara de Blasio, who is black, was later given a court summons and released. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is white, didn’t mention the arrest in his Sunday media briefing. City Hall spokespeople didn’t have an immediate comment. She had allegedly been blocking traffic on Broadway and was arrested after refusing to move, a police source told TheNew York Post. “That was a real hotspot, police cars were getting burned there, people were throwing and yelling, fighting with cops. There were thousands of people in that area at that time,” the source said. Chiara de Blasio graduated from Santa Clara University in 2016 with plans to pursue a career in social work. New York endured a fourth day of protest on Sunday after the death of George Floyd that have seen mass protests in the day turn violent in the evening. Demonstrators in downtown Brooklyn and parts of Manhattan pelted officers with objects and set fires. Officers charged into crowds to clear streets, sending people sprawling and battering bystanders who couldn’t get out of the way. Small groups smashed shop windows and stole merchandise. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had no plans to impose a curfew, unlike other major U.S. cities. The Democrat credited police for “tremendous restraint,” but appointed two city officials to review incidents caught on video, including an officer ripping a man’s mask off to spray his face with a chemical and two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators in Brooklyn. “We all better get back to the humanity here,” de Blasio said. “The protesters are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect. The police officers are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect.” Since the protests began days ago, at least 790 people have been arrested, 33 officers have been injured and 27 police vehicles have been damaged or destroyed, police said.
Drugmakers Focus on Coronavirus Vaccine by 2020: 4 Winners - Yahoo News Australia
Clinical trials of non-COVID-19 drugs have taken a backseat as most drugmakers and biotechnology companies are speeding up development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
On May 29, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc. PFE said that a vaccine to treat COVID-19 could be ready by the end of October 2020. Pfizer is working with German firm BioNTech SE BNTX for several possible vaccines in Europe and the United States. Although treatment for COVID-19 is yet to be found, a large number of drugmakers and biotech companies have made remarkable progress in developing a vaccine over the past couple of months. Of these, many have also started their clinical trials and are expecting preliminary results over the next few days. Also, some have started ramping up production of their vaccine candidates, anticipating huge demand if they prove successful. Pfizer Hopeful About Early Vaccine Pfizers CEO Albert Bourla said that a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by October 2020, according to a The Times of Israel report. Bourla also said that the company has enough evidence of safety and efficacy for the FDA to feel comfortable about a vaccine on time. Pfizer is conducting clinical trials in the United States and Europe for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19. The report also quoted the AstraZeneca boss who said that the company, which is working in collaboration with the University of Oxford, expects at least one vaccine by the end of this year. All Focus on COVID-19 vaccine Clinical trials of non-COVID-19 drugs and vaccines have taken a backseat as most drugmakers and biotechnology companies are speeding up development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. On May 29, former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb said that clinical trials of drugs not related to coronavirus could get delayed as most of the agencys staff is focus on work related to COVID-19. Of more than 100 labs across the world working toward a vaccine against the deadly virus, 10 have made to the clinical-trial stage. Also, many big companies have joined forces to develop a vaccine. However, the World Health Organization has said that to increase chances of success, it is critical to test all candidate vaccines until they fail. Our Choices Although the FDA is yet to approve a drug or treatment for the novel coronavirus, it would be prudent to invest in companies focused on developing a coronavirus vaccine or treatment. Each of our picks has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of todays Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Amgen, Inc. AMGN is one of the biggest biotech companies in the world, with a strong presence in the oncology/hematology and cardiovascular disease, neuroscience. In April, Amgen and Adaptive, Inc. ADPT collaborated to work on antibodies that can be used to prevent or treat COVID-19. Amgen also plans to test Otezla as a COVID-19 therapy treating respiratory distress in late-stage patients in the coming days. Amgens expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 5.1%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 0.2% over the past 60 days. BioNTech SE collaborated with Pfizer in March to develop a vaccine for coronavirus. The 360 patients in the U.S. trial started to receive the first doses of the four vaccine candidates included in the study as of May 5. Dosing in 200 participants in the German trial began on Apr 23. The companys expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 15.8%. Shares of BioNTech SEhave jumped 4.3% over the past 30 days. Gilead GILD earlier this month received an emergency-use authorization from the FDA based on preliminary results from two clinical trials of its experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir. Results showed that patients taking the drug had a median recovery time of 11 days compared with 15 days for those taking placebo. The companys expected earnings growth rate for next year is 3.1%. Its shares have rallied 19.8% year to date. GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK has announced a string of wide-reaching collaborations during the pandemic, most notably with Sanofi. The company expects to launch clinical trials in the second half of the year. The expected earnings growth rate for next year is 1.4%. Its shares have gained 3.4% in the last three months. Zacks Single Best Pick to Double From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each picked their favorite to gain +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Zacks Director of Research, Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all.