Coronavirus still not showing its hand - msnNOW
Coronavirus still not showing its hand - msnNOW
The coronavirus has killed so many people in Iran that the country has resorted to mass burials, but in neighboring Iraq, the body count is fewer than 100.
The coronavirus has touched almost every country on earth, but its impact has seemed capricious. Global metropolises like New York, Paris, and London have been devastated, while teeming cities like Bangkok, Baghdad, New Delhi, and Lagos have, so far, largely been spared. The question of why the virus has overwhelmed some places and left others relatively untouched is a puzzle that has spawned numerous theories and speculations but no definitive answers. There are already hundreds of studies underway looking into how demographics, preexisting conditions, and genetics might affect the wide variation in impact. Many developing nations with hot climates and young populations have escaped the worst, suggesting that temperature and demographics could be factors. But countries like Peru, Indonesia, and Brazil, tropical countries in the throes of growing epidemics, throw cold water on that idea. Draconian social distancing and early lockdown measures have clearly been effective, but Myanmar and Cambodia did neither and have reported few cases. One theory that is unproven but impossible to refute: Maybe the virus just hasnt gotten to those countries yet. Russia and Turkey appeared to be fine until, suddenly, they were not. Interviews with more than two dozen infectious disease specialists, health officials, epidemiologists, and academics around the globe suggest four main factors that could help explain where the virus thrives and where it doesnt: demographics, culture, environment, and the speed of government responses. Each possible explanation comes with considerable caveats and confounding counterevidence. If an aging population is the most vulnerable, for instance, Japan should be at the top of the list. It is far from it. Nonetheless, these are the factors that specialists find the most persuasive. Many countries that have escaped mass epidemics have relatively younger populations. Young people are more likely to contract mild or asymptomatic cases that are less transmissible to others, said Robert Bollinger, a professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. And they are less likely to have certain health problems that can make COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, particularly deadly, according to the World Health Organization. Africa with about 45,000 reported cases, a tiny fraction of its 1.3 billion people is the worlds youngest continent, with more than 60% of its population under age 25. In Thailand and Najaf, Iraq, local health officials found that the 20-to-29 age group had the highest rate of infection but often showed few symptoms. By contrast, the national median age in Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries, is more than 45. The average age of those who died of COVID-19 there was around 80. Younger people tend to have stronger immune systems, which can result in milder symptoms, said Josip Car, an expert in population and global health at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Cultural factors, like the social distancing that is built into certain societies, may give some countries more protection, epidemiologists said. In Thailand and India, where virus numbers are relatively low, people greet each other at a distance. In Japan and South Korea, people bow, and long before the coronavirus arrived, they tended to wear face masks when feeling ill. In much of the developing world, the custom of caring for the elderly at home leads to fewer nursing homes, which have been tinder for tragic outbreaks in the West. However, there are notable exceptions to the cultural-distancing theory. In many parts of the Middle East, such as Iraq and the Persian Gulf countries, men often embrace or shake hands on meeting, yet most are not getting sick. The geography of the outbreak which spread rapidly during the winter in temperate-zone countries like Italy and the United States and was virtually unseen in warmer countries such as Chad or Guyana seemed to suggest that the virus did not take well to heat. Other coronaviruses, such as ones that cause the common cold, are less contagious in warmer, moist climates. But researchers say the idea that hot weather alone can repel the virus is wishful thinking. Some of the worst outbreaks in the developing world have been in places like the Amazonas region of Brazil. The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be so contagious as to mitigate any beneficial effect of heat and humidity, said Dr. Raul Rabadan, a computational biologist at Columbia University. But other aspects of warm climates, like people spending more time outside, could help. The ultraviolet rays of direct sunlight inhibit this coronavirus, according to a study by ecological modelers at the University of Connecticut. So surfaces in sunny places may be less likely to remain contaminated, but transmission usually occurs through contact with an infected person, not by touching a surface. Countries that locked down early, like Vietnam and Greece, have been able to avoid out-of-control contagions, evidence of the power of strict social distancing and quarantines to contain the virus. In Africa, countries with bitter experience with killers like HIV, drug-resistant tuberculosis and Ebola knew the drill and reacted quickly. Airport staff from Sierra Leone to Uganda were taking temperatures (since found to be a less effective measure) and contact details and wearing masks long before their counterparts in the United States and Europe took such precautions. Counterintuitively, some countries where authorities reacted late and with spotty enforcement of lockdowns appear to have been spared. Cambodia and Laos both had brief spates of infections when few social distancing measures were in place, but neither has recorded a new case in about three weeks. Finally, most specialists agree that there may be no single reason for some countries to be hit and others missed. The answer is likely to be some combination of the above factors as well as one other mentioned by researchers: sheer luck.
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SpaceX aces last Dragon parachute test before crew launch - Spaceflight Now
A Crew Dragon mass simulator descends under four main parachutes during a drop test Friday. Credit: SpaceX SpaceX completed Friday the last drop test of the Dragon crew capsule’s parachutes before the first launch of astronauts on the human-rated ship May 27, while technicians at Cape Canaveral have mated the spacecraft’s crew module with its unpressurized trunk section. The drop test from a C-130 cargo plane Friday was the 27th and final test of the “Mark 3” parachute design SpaceX will use for the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Drogue parachutes and then four main chutes unfurled from a test vehicle designed to mimic the Crew Dragon’s weight during return to Earth. SpaceX said in a tweet that the parachute test moves the Crew Dragon “one step closer” to flying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station, “and safely returning them back to Earth. Meanwhile, SpaceX’s Dragon processing team at Cape Canaveral have connected the spaceship’s pressurized crew module with the spacecraft’s rear trunk, which generates electricity through body-mounted solar panels and houses radiators for thermal control in orbit. The parachute and spacecraft processing milestones kick off a busy month of preparations ahead of the the Crew Dragon’s launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket set for May 27 from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test flight will head for the International Space Station, where Behnken and Hurley will live and work for one-to-four months before returning to Earth for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean just off Florida’s East Coast. The launch later this month will mark the first time astronauts have flown into Earth orbit from a U.S. spaceport since the retirement of the space shuttle in July 2011. “My heart is sitting right here (motioning to throat), and I think it’s going to stay there until we get Bob and Doug safely back from the International Space Station,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, in a press conference Friday. “But between now and then, there’s still work to do.” NASA has awarded SpaceX more than $3.1 billion since 2011 to develop, test and fly the Crew Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX has put in its own funding, but Shotwell could not provide a figure Friday for the level of internal funds SpaceX has spent on developing the crew capsule. The public-private partnership is a hallmark of NASA’s strategy since the end of the space shuttle program to commercialize transportation to and from low Earth orbit, beginning with cargo services for the space station pioneered by SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and the Cygnus supply ship owned by Northrop Grumman, formerly known as Orbital ATK. “This is a new generation, a new era in human spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “And when I say it’s new what I mean is, NASA has long had this idea that we need to purchase, own and operate hardware to get to space. In the past that has been true, but now, in this new era … NASA has an ability to be a customer, one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace in low Earth orbit.” NASA selected Boeing alongside SpaceX in 2014 to design and build new commercial spaceships to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. Boeing’s Starliner ship is unlikely to fly with astronauts until early 2021 after an unpiloted test flight in December encountered software trouble, preventing the capsule from docking with the space station. Bridenstine said NASA and SpaceX are continuing preparations for the Crew Dragon test flight — designated Demo-2 — amid the coronavirus pandemic while introducing new physical distancing guidelines for the astronauts and support teams. “We’re going to do it in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” Bridenstine said. “I’m going to tell you that this is a high-priority mission for the United States of America. We, as a nation, have not had our own access to the International Space Station for nine years.” In the time since the last shuttle flight, all astronauts traveling to the space station have flown aboard Russian Soyuz capsules. In the most recent agreement with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, NASA paid the Russian government more than $80 million per round-trip seat on the Soyuz spacecraft. NASA’s inspector general last year reported the agency is paying SpaceX approximately $55 million per Crew Dragon seat. Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, said Friday that NASA and SpaceX engineers are “making sure that all the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed” in preparation for the Crew Dragon launch. In parallel with hardware preparations at the Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX and NASA engineers are completing pre-flight data analyses, safety assessments and readiness reviews. The work in the coming weeks will make sure SpaceX and NASA “are ready for this important mission to safely fly Bob and Doug up to the International Space Station, serve as a lifeboat, and return them to their families,” Lueders said. “This is a humbling job,” she said. “I think we’re up to it.” Behnken, 49, will serve as joint operations commander for the Demo-2 mission, responsible for rendezvous, docking, undocking and other activities at the International Space Station. Hurley, 53, will be the spacecraft commander, responsible for launch, landing and recovery, according to NASA. Both astronauts joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2000, and each has flown twice on space shuttle missions. Behnken and Hurley are also both married to other astronauts. “I think we have a different perspective of the importance of coming to Florida, launching again on an American rocket from the Florida coast,” Behnken said. “And generations of people who maybe didn’t get a chance to see a space shuttle launch, getting a chance again to see human spaceflight in our own backyard, if you will, is pretty exciting to be a part of. “I think that’s the thing that’s most exciting for me, as well as on my first flight, I didn’t have a small child,” he said. “I didn’t have a son, so I’m really excited to share the mission with him and have him have a chance to be old enough at six to see it and share it with me when I get home and while I’m on orbit.” Astronauts Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken (right) pose for a photograph at launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida before the launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort Test in January. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett Hurley piloted the shuttle Atlantis on the final space shuttle mission in July 2011. “It’s well past time to be launching an American rocket from the Florida coast to the International Space Station, and I am certainly honored to be part of it,” Hurley said. “We would be asked questions along the lines of, well, the space program is over because the shuttle is not flying,” Hurley said. “And that certainly was not the case. We’ve had people on board the International Space Station since the fall of 2000. And we continue to fly to the space station on Soyuz vehicles. So part of it was just a lack of understanding by the public as far as what we were continuing to do as an agency, but it was also the time it took to develop new vehicles in order to take their place, take the shuttle’s place, to get folks to and from the International Space Station from the United States.” Once Behnken and Hurley return to Earth, NASA will formally certify the Crew Dragon for regular crew rotation flights to the space station, each carrying four astronauts. Another Crew Dragon is scheduled for launch later this year with three NASA astronauts and a Japanese space flier. The Dragon crew has essentially been in quarantine since March, when the threat of coronavirus interrupted daily life for millions of Americans. Behnken and Hurley will begin a formal quarantine protocol next week, then spend a few days inside a controlled facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston before flying to Kennedy in a NASA aircraft May 20. The astronauts will participate in a final integrated simulation Monday with NASA and SpaceX ground controllers and mission managers. “Then we start a quarantine process which escalates as we get closer to launch,” Hurley said. “And we also get some off time to kind of get everything in our lives sort of squared away since we’ve been busy getting ready for this flight, and we are likely to be in space for a few months.” “We have a few more sims with SpaceX, we’ll have some proficiency sims later on, before we go down to Kennedy,” Hurley said. “And then we’ll get down to Kennedy around six or seven days before launch and then spend the rest of the time (in Florida) prepping from that location in the astronaut crew quarters down there.” SpaceX plans a flight test readiness review May 8, followed by a NASA-led test readiness review May 11. Lueders said Friday that NASA has reviewed SpaceX’s investigation into an engine failure that occurred on a Falcon 9 launch in March. One of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines shut down prematurely during a launch with 60 Starlink Internet satellites, but the rocket overcame the malfunction and still delivered the payloads to their intended orbit. “We’re finishing testing on some other launch vehicle components,” Lueders said. “We have reviewed the anomaly resolution of the Starlink launch and actually have cleared the engines on our vehicle for that failure, so that actually is behind us right now. “But like everybody knows, the spacecraft is still processing, the launch vehicle is still processing, and as you’re processing vehicles there are little issues that come up that we have to work through,” Lueders said. “Most of our human certification activities are being completed with this mission, so the team is going through really about 95 percent of the human-rating certification on this mission.” In mid-May the Dragon spacecraft is expected to be transferred from a processing facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to the nearby Kennedy Space Center, where the crew capsule will be attached to its Falcon 9 launcher inside a hangar near the southern perimeter of pad 39A. The Crew Dragon spacecraft’s pressurized module has been mated with the ship’s unpressurized trunk section at Cape Canaveral. Credit: SpaceX Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to fly to Florida’s Space Coast on May 20. A test-firing of the Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled around May 22, followed the next day by a “dry dress” rehearsal when the astronauts will put on their black and white SpaceX flight suits and strap inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft at the launch pad. A launch readiness review is scheduled for May 25. On May 27, Behnken and Hurley will again put on their flight suits inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy, the same facility where Apollo and shuttle astronauts prepared for launch. They will ride inside a Tesla Model X from the O&C Building to pad 39A, passing by the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building and the Press Site on the way to the seaside launch complex. They will begin boarding the Crew Dragon spaceship around three hours before liftoff. SpaceX’s ground crew will close the Dragon’s side hatch and evacuate the pad before fueling of the Falcon 9 rocket with super-chilled kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants. SpaceX’s sleek crew access arm, installed on pad 39A in 2018, will retract around 42 minutes before liftoff. The Dragon’s powerful abort engines will be armed 37 minutes prior to launch, giving the astronauts the ability to escape an explosion or other emergency during fueling of the Falcon 9 rocket. Kerosene and liquid oxygen will begin flowing into the two-stage launcher 35 minutes before liftoff, which is timed for 4:32 p.m. EDT (2032 GMT) on May 27. Assuming liftoff occurs May 27, the Crew Dragon is slated to autonomous dock with the International Space Station on May 28 at approximately 11:29 a.m. EDT (1529 GMT). Hurley and Behnken will take over manual control of the spaceship at multiple points during the Dragon’s trip to the space station, testing out their ability to fly the capsule using novel touchscreen controls in the cockpit. Email the author. Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.
How to watch The Last Dance online: stream this week's new episodes anywhere for free - TechRadar
New episodes are raining down
Lost without the NBA and your regular dose of hoops action? The lone silver lining of the global Covid-19 lockdown is that one of the most anticipated sports series of all-time has landed early. Basketball aficionado or not, you've heard of MJ and probably owned the sneakers, so here's how to watch The Last Dance online and stream the latest episodes of the new Michael Jordan documentary wherever you are. The Last Dance cheat sheet The Last Dance follows Michael Jordan and the 1997/98 Chicago Bulls as they embark on the final NBA championship run of their dynasty. Two episodes of the 10-part miniseries air each Sunday until May 19 on ESPN starting at 9pm ET (6pm PT). Those without cable can easily tune in to ESPN via a great value Sling TV Orange package, which is now discounted to just $20 for the first month. Originally scheduled to air in June to coincide with the 2020 NBA Finals, The Last Dance's release date was brought forward to April due to the pandemic. It's directed by veteran sports filmmaker Jason Hehir, who's also behind the critically acclaimed Andre the Giant documentary, and charts the final championship run of the 90's Chicago Bulls dynasty and its mercurial leader, Michael Jordan. With six NBA titles to his name, Jordan isn't just the best basketball player of all time - sorry not sorry, LeBron fans - but arguably the greatest athlete in the history of US sports. Only Tom Brady and Tiger Woods even get a seat at the same table. Read on as we've got more information about this groundbreaking new series below - but first, we'll tell you how to watch The Last Dance online and stream new episodes of the Michael Jordan documentary from anywhere in the world. How to watch The Last Dance online from abroad Keep reading for specific country-by-country options to watch The Last Dance. It's all pretty straightforward stuff - until you find yourself abroad and annoying geo-blocking restrictions cut you off from your normal streaming provider. Admittedly, most people aren't going anywhere anytime soon right now. But global travel will one day resume and, in an absolute worse case scenario, you may even be stuck abroad. Fortunately, there's an easy solution to this problem. Downloading a VPN will allow you to stream The Last Dance no matter where you are. This useful bit of software changes your IP address so that you can access episodes of your favorite shows and movies live or on-demand as soon as they become available - just as if you were lying on the couch back home. While there's a confusingly large number VPNs to choose from, we always recommend ExpressVPN. As well as being fast, simple, and straightforward to install, it's also compatible with a whole host of devices - Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS and Android to name some of the main ones. Plus, ExpressVPN's flexible 30-day money back guarantee is difficult to argue with. Even better, you can purchase an annual plan for a 49% discount and 3 months extra FREE – a brilliant offer for an essential bit of software. Once installed, select the location of your home country and simply click connect. Youll then be able to easily watch The Last Dance online from nearly anywhere on the planet. Is The Last Dance on Netflix? For a great many people, this is a firm yes - but folk in the US are not among them. Netflix is the global distribution partner for The Last Dance and new episodes of the miniseries are set to drop on the popular streaming service just after they air on the cable channel - around 3am ET or 12am PT every Monday in North America, or 8am BST in the United Kingdom, where it will likely find itself among the best Netflix UK shows sooner rather than later. Netflix Australia and Netflix Canada will also be offering the series for streaming after it first airs on ESPN in the US, so read on and we'll explain how to watch The Last Dance wherever you are. As we say though, you won't find The Last Dance on Netflix in the US for its first run. How to watch The Last Dance in the US right now In the US, ESPN is showing two episodes of The Last Dance every Sunday at 9pm and 10pm ET (6pm and 7pm PT) through May 19. ESPN is a cable channel, of course, so anyone wanting to cut the cord and watch without the commitment should consider checking out Sling TV. It's a great value streaming service that features ESPN as part of its Orange package - you can currently get your first month for just $20 as part of a limited time offer and the line-up also includes AMC, BBC America, and much more Alternatively, you can get ESPN with a Hulu + Live TV bundle, which costs a hefty $54.99 a month - but can be tried for FREE for 7-days. And anyone who finds themselves outside of the US wanting to access streaming services like these - just as they would from home - need only grab some clever software like ExpressVPN to relocate back to the US. To be clear, the US is almost unique in the fact that Netflix won't show you the action. But at least there are plenty of other alternative ways to watch. (Image credit: Focus on Sport/Getty Images) How to watch The Last Dance: stream the documentary online in the UK Basketball fans and, more specifically, Netflix members in the UK have it good, as new episodes of The Last Dance will rain down to the popular streaming service every Monday after they air on ESPN in the States. This means anyone with a Netflix subscription will be able to watch The Last Dance on a range of devices including Smart TVs, set-top boxes, mobile phones, tablets, PCs, laptops, Mac machines, consoles and much more. If you're not in the UK for whatever reason and can't access your usual streaming service, remember you can always just grab a VPN and point yourself back to Blighty to watch Netflix just like you would from home. Stream The Last Dance online: how to watch the Michael Jordan documentary in Australia Luc Longley? Sorry Aussies, he doesn't feature so much...but you do get a glimpse of Perth's most famous export. And as in the UK, Netflix has the exclusive streaming rights for The Last Dance in Australia. This is great news for those who already subscribe to the service, but those who don't will find that it's great value from just $9.99 a month. New episodes will be released every Monday at around 6pm AEST. If you happen to be going abroad and are worried that geo-blocking will stop you from watching The Last Dance and Netflix Australia like you normally would, don't worry - just use a VPN to point yourself back Down Under. How to watch The Last Dance: stream new episodes in Canada this week Sensing a theme? Netflix Canada is home to The Last Dance and episodes will go live on the service each Monday. Anyone who might find themselves outside of Canada and wants to watch shows like The Last Dance just as they would at home can do so by using a VPN. What is The Last Dance? Far from being just a collection of standard highlight reel stuff, The Last Dance features candid new interviews and previously unseen behind-the-scenes footage. The 1997/98 NBA season is explored in such a way that draws attention to Jordan's domineering personality just as much as it does his epic dunks. It was to be his last year with the Bulls and the culmination of a return odyssey that started back in 1995 when the legend decided to furlough his ambitions as a professional baseball player in the MLB. To compile all of this, an NBA Entertainment film crew went behind-the-scenes with the Bulls throughout the campaign, having gained the approval of Jordan, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and head coach Phil Jackson. And in addition to reminding us why we were desperate to 'be like Mike' in the 90s and would queue for hours for the latest pair of Air Jordan sneakers, the documentary also hones in on other key members of the Bulls team - fellow Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, as well as sharp-shooter Steve Kerr (now head coach of the Golden State Warriors).