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Justice Department will investigate Ahmaud Arbery's death as a hate crime, family's attorneys say - CBS News
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia said his office is looking into why Glynn County and the state of Georgia took so long to make arrests, Arbery's family's attorneys said.
The U.S. Department of Justice is launching an investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed black man in Georgia as a hate crime, according to attorneys for the victim's family. Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot and killed by two white men while jogging in his neighborhood on February 23. Three arrests were made this month after video surfaced of the violent encounter. Attorneys for Arbery's family said the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine and his office will look into why Glynn County and the state of Georgia took more than two months to make an arrest and whether the region has historically violated the rights of its citizens. The U.S. Attorney said he plans to file criminal and civil charges. William Bryan, who recorded Arbery's killing from his car, was arrested and charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. His footage showed 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his 34-year-old son, Travis, confront Arbery before shooting him. Gregory and Travis were both arrested May 9. Travis was charged with murder and aggravated assault, and Gregory was charged with party to murder and aggravated assault. Ahmaud Arbery Family Handout On the day of the shooting, Arbery was spotted walking around an open construction site and the McMichaels pursued him in a pickup truck, according to the police report. When they passed Bryan's home, Bryan got in his own vehicle and followed, The New York Times reported. When Arbery ran around the McMichaels' car, Bryan tried to block him, Gregory McMichael told investigators. Arbery ran past Bryan's car, too, and the two vehicles reportedly turned around and continued pursuing him. At 1:14 p.m., Bryan took the video of Travis shooting Arbery, the Times said. McMichael told police he thought Arbery was a burglary suspect, adding that Arbery "violently" attacked his son, and the two fought "over the shotgun" before Travis shot him twice. In an interview with CBS affiliate WJAX-TV, Bryan said he had "nothing to do" with Arbery's death. "I had nothing to do with it. I'm trying to get my life back to normal, and it's been smeared for the last week," Bryan said. "I was told I was a witness and I'm not sure what I am, other than receiving a bunch of threats." "My client was responding to what he saw, which was someone in the community he didn't know being followed by a vehicle he recognized," Bryan's attorney told the outlet. "Without going into details about the level of crime in this community in this subdivision, I think most people in this subdivision were aware that there were issues." Georgia among 4 states with no hate crime laws Many have alleged Arbery was targeted because of his race, but Georgia is one of four states with no hate crime statutes, which generally allow for harsher sentencing for perpetrators of crimes ruled by a court to be bias-motivated. South Carolina, Wyoming and Arkansas also remain without hate crime laws, and some advocates also include Indiana on the list, calling a law passed in that state last year "uniquely and problematically broad." Previous efforts to pass a hate crimes bill in the Georgia general assembly have faltered, but since Arbery's killing there's been a "newfound resurgence of interest in making sure Georgia gets this on the books," Georgia Representative Karen Bennett, chairwoman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, told CBS News. HB 426, the latest proposed hate crimes bill, was introduced with bipartisan support last year and passed the state house of representatives. But the bill appeared stalled in a state Senate committee when the legislative session was suspended in March over coronavirus concerns. The Anti-Defamation League has joined a coalition of 35 advocacy groups known as Hate Free Georgia to call for HB 426 to pass; the bill would mandate enhanced sentencing for defendants convicted of targeting a victim because of their "actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origins, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability." While states are the primary prosecutors of hate crimes, the federal government also has the authority to bring charges under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The Department of Justice can act as a "backstop" to prosecute hate crimes in states without the statutes or where state laws don't cover the crime. The Department of Justice has previously said it is reviewing the Arbery case to determine whether federal hate crime charges are appropriate. It was also weighing a request by the Attorney General of Georgia to investigate the conduct of the first two district attorneys assigned to the case. They recused themselves amid questions over their links to Gregory McMichael, a former law enforcement officer, and handling of the case. Peter Martinez, Victoria Albert, Rodney Hawkins and Erin Donaghue contributed to this report.
Central Park "Karen": Woman placed on leave after video showing confrontation over unleashed dog in Central Park goes viral - CBS News
"I wanted folks to know what happened to make sure it never happens again from her. All she had to do was put her poor dog on the leash."
A woman is facing backlash over a viral video that appears to show her calling the cops on a black man who asked her to leash her dog. She has since been placed on administrative leave by her employer. The woman was in an area in New York City's Central Park known as the Ramble that requires dogs to be leashed. The sister of the man who filmed the confrontation, Melody Cooper, explained that he had asked the woman to put her dog on its leash. Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm — Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020 As the exchange escalated, the woman threatened to call the police on the man and claim that he was threatening her and her dog. The woman appears to call 911 and demand they "send the cops immediately." She can be seen pulling on the dog's collar rather than leashing the animal throughout the apparent call. The woman was quickly identified on social media, prompting the company where she works to issue a statement. In response to an incident involving an employee on May 25th, Franklin Templeton issued the following statement. pic.twitter.com/8f2lMwK0r5 — Franklin Templeton (@FTI_US) May 26, 2020 CBS News has reached out to Franklin Templeton to confirm the tweet is about the viral video. In addition to being placed on leave, the woman also "voluntarily surrendered" her dog to the rescue she adopted it from. In a Facebook post, Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. wrote that "the owner has voluntarily surrendered the dog in question to our rescue while this matter is being addressed." A spokesperson for the animal rescue confirmed the dog that was surrendered was the same one in the viral video. Thank you to the concerned public for reaching out to us about a video involving a dog that was adopted from our rescue... Posted by Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. on Monday, May 25, 2020 As for the man who filmed the woman, his sister said in a follow-up tweet that he is safe. My brother & I are so grateful for your concern! He is fine and left to continue birding after she leashed the dog, as he politely requested. I wanted folks to know what happened to make sure it never happens again from her. All she had to do was put her poor dog on the leash. — Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 26, 2020 "I wanted folks to know what happened to make sure it never happens again from her. All she had to do was put her poor dog on the leash," Cooper said.
Trump responds to critics of him playing golf amid pandemic; calls for schools to reopen - CBS News
President Trump commemorated Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery and Baltimore's Fort McHenry. It comes just after the Trump administration imposed new restrictions on travelers to the U.S. from Brazil, as that country sees a surge of coronavirus infe…
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Shoppers call out woman who wasn't wearing mask at Staten Island ShopRite in viral video - CBS News
The video shows furious customers yelling at the woman to leave the grocery store.
Video showing a group of furious shoppers berating a woman who wasn't wearing a face covering at a Staten Island ShopRite went viral over Memorial Day weekend. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, New Yorkers are required to wear masks or face coverings when out in public and unable to follow social distancing guidelines. The footage shows customers yelling at the woman and demanding she leave the ShopRite because she isn't wearing a mask. The video, which was originally shared on Facebook, gained popularity on social media after a Twitter user reposted it Sunday night. (Warning: The following video contains language that may be offensive to some.) Staten Islanders with masks drive out non-mask wearing person in grocery store. #Coronaviruspic.twitter.com/iPQwk7lD9y — McAuley (@McauleyHolmes) May 25, 2020 A ShopRite spokesperson told CBS News in a statement Monday that the incident happened two weeks ago and the store management reported it to authorities. ShopRite said customers who notice others that aren't wearing face coverings should notify customer service and not take the matter into their own hands. "Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility. At ShopRite, we continue to adhere to our sanitation and social distancing protocols to ensure our stores remain a safe place for associates and customers to work and shop," the company said in a statement. "We are all in this together and we ask for everyone to be patient and understanding during this difficult time." Many Twitter users came out in support of the customers who called the woman out, including actress Alyssa Milano. "Never been prouder of growing up in Staten Island," Milano tweeted. Never been prouder of growing up in Staten Island. https://t.co/QYgBjgr5Sr — Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 25, 2020 Others made light of the situation. Sam Biederman, an NYC Department of Parks and Recreation official, wrote, "In Staten Island they call this 'asking her politely to leave.'" The video comes as some Staten Island local leaders have called on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow the borough to reopen earlier than the rest of New York City. Cuomo has resisted those calls. "If you live on Staten Island, you very well may be working in Manhattan, you're traveling through the New York City area," the governor said. "So Staten Island is a part of New York City. Staten Island just practically is still part of New York City, and that's the region in which the infection would spread."
Weather outlook improves somewhat for historic SpaceX launch - CBS News
After heavy rain Monday, the forecast has improved for Wednesday's launch of American astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Working through dismal weather, SpaceX engineers pressed ahead Monday with preparations to launch two astronauts aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft Wednesday, the first piloted flight to orbit from U.S. soil in nearly nine years. SpaceX and NASA held a launch readiness review to verify the Falcon 9 booster and spacecraft are ready for flight while NASA and its international partners went over preparations to welcome two new crew members to the lab complex. Both meetings concluded with an official "go" for launch. Keeping tabs on the weather, Crew Dragon commander Douglas Hurley and joint operations commander Robert Behnken plan to don their pressure suits and head for launch pad 39A around 1:15 p.m. ET Wednesday. Blastoff is targeted for 4:33:33 p.m., roughly the moment Earth's rotation carries the pad into position for a flight to the station. The Crew Dragon spacecraft is equipped with a powerful abort system that can propel the capsule safely away from a failing booster at any point from the launch pad to orbit. Before the rocket can be cleared for launch, mission managers must assess the weather along the spacecraft's northeasterly trajectory, shown here, to ensure acceptable conditions for a safe splashdown in the unlikely event of an abort. NASA No major technical issues of any significance were under discussion Monday, but the weather could be a factor. Forecasters initially predicted a 60% chance of a weather-related launch rule violation, but Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer with the 45th Weather Squadron, said conditions appeared to be improving somewhat. "If I was to issue the forecast today, right now we would probably be down to 40% chance of violation," he said. "We have a bit more rain to go here and maybe another round of afternoon thunderstorms tomorrow, but ... it looks like much less (cloud) coverage. So we have some hope for launch day." But McAleenan's forecast does not include downrange conditions in the Atlantic Ocean along the Crew Dragon's trajectory where Hurley and Behnken could be forced to ditch in the unlikely event of a catastrophic booster failure during the climb to space. SpaceX managers will assess a complicated mix of weather models, high-altitude balloon data and actual wind, rain and wave data from multiple buoys along the ground track to determine whether conditions, on average, are acceptable for launch. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Douglas Hurley participate in a test of critical crew flight hardware at a SpaceX processing facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 30, 2020, ahead of the Crew Dragon launch scheduled for May 27, 2020. SpaceX Hoping for the best, Hurley and Behnken are expected to begin strapping into the Crew Dragon around 2 p.m. Wednesday. The astronauts will arm the spacecraft's emergency abort system around the T-minus 40-minute mark, a few minutes before propellant loading begins. Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and flight reliability, said a final assessment of the weather will be made shortly before the abort system is armed. If mission managers are not confident conditions at the launch site and along the trajectory are acceptable, the launch will be scrubbed for the day before fueling begins. "Usually when we have a satellite to launch we go sometimes all the way down to the wire, to the last minute and then Mike says no, and then we don't go," Koenigsmann said. "In this case, we don't want to do that because we would expose the crew to risk that would be unnecessary." "So six hours before (launch), four hours before, and then I guess the final call comes at the end, at 45 minutes when we're about to arm the escape system. By that time, we have come to a conclusion whether we go or no-go." Backup launch opportunities, based on the space station's orbit and the Crew Dragon's ability to catch up with the lab complex, are available Saturday, at 3:22:41 p.m., and Sunday, at 3:00:07 p.m. "It's getting a little bit far out to have a lot of confidence, but it certainly looks like the guidance is shaping up that the 30th and 31st look much less dynamic than what we have with the tropical low development across Florida," McAleenan said. "So overall, those look like a better probability of launching and lower risk numbers across the Atlantic." Chris Cassidy: SpaceX launch is "a gigantic deal," "very confident" crew will arrive safely
Grimes says she and Elon Musk have tweaked their baby's name - CBS News
"Did you change the baby name because of Californian laws ? What is the baby's new name?" a fan wrote, prompting a reply from Grimes.
A few weeks after Elon Musk and Grimes revealed their baby's confusing name, the couple has apparently altered the unique moniker. In an Instagram comment, a fan asked Grimes if the couple changed the name of their newborn son due to California laws that require only alphabetical letters. The singer replied, confirming they did make a tweak to X Æ A-12. "Did you change the baby name because of Californian laws ? What is the baby's new name?" the fan wrote on Grime's latest Instagram photo. Grimes responded to a commenter curious about her baby name. Instagram "X Æ A-Xii," she replied, revealing the slight alteration to the end of the baby's name, changing the "12" to Roman numerals. In reply to another commenter, Grimes simply wrote that Roman numerals look better. It is still unclear how to pronounce the name — or if it is even legal. The California Department of Public Health Vital Records Handbook explains the requirements for completing a birth certificate: "The form is to be completed using the 26 alphabetical characters of the English language," the handbook says. Some punctuation symbols are allowed when necessary, like in a hyphenated last name or one with an apostrophe. However, using numbers is not allowed under those rules, and using pictures, like an emoji or ideogram, in a name is expressly forbidden. It appears that only some parts of the original name were valid — the X, the A, and the hyphen. The 12 would not be allowed under state rules, and the two-letter combination Æ is also not a standard character in the English alphabet. So, while Grimes changed the 12 to XII — which could be considered letters — the Æ is a symbol and might still be invalid. It is unclear how this name is written on the baby's birth certificate and if it is legally accepted. Grimes, whose real name is Claire Elise Boucher, had previously tweeted an explanation of the name that still left some people scratching their heads. "X, the unknown variable," she wrote. "Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence)." "A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft). No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent + (A=Archangel, my favorite song) ( metal rat)," her tweet continued. "Thanks this didn't help at all," one person replied to Grimes' explanation on Twitter.
Hong Kong standoff leaves U.S. and China on "brink of new Cold War" - CBS News
Beijing bristles as U.S. officials join global chorus backing huge protests against perceived power-grab by China over semi-autonomous region.
A day after thousands of angry Hong Kong residents hit the streets in the biggest protests since last year's massive pro-democracy demonstrations, Beijing warned that some in the U.S. were driving bilateral ties to a nadir unseen in a generation. "Some political forces in the U.S. are hijacking the China-U.S. relations and pushing our two countries toward a 'new Cold War'," said China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi. "This dangerous attempt to turn back the wheel of history will undo the fruits of decades of long cooperation between the two peoples." Beijing unveiled its plan Friday to impose new, controversial national security laws to clamp down on the former British colony by banning treason, secession and subversion. The laws would also allow security forces from mainland China to operate inside the semi-autonomous region for the first time since the U.K. handed it back over in 1997. China's "Cold War" warning came a day after National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien made it clear that Hong Kong could lose its vaunted trade status with the U.S., which exempts the global financial hub from U.S. tariffs and trade restrictions imposed on mainland China, if the law is enacted. O'Brien on Kim Jong Un reappearance, Hong Kong national security law "I can't see how Hong Kong remains an Asian financial center if the Chinese Communist Party goes through and implements its national security law," O'Brien told "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan. Many in Hong Kong fear Chinese authorities' interpretation of the looming laws will lead to new censorship of speech and the press, limits on the freedom to assemble, and protesters being accused of terrorism. On Sunday, riot police fired tear gas and deployed water cannon against furious protesters in the first large-scale reaction to the draft legislation. Almost 180 people were arrested, mostly for violating coronavirus-related regulations that ban gatherings of more than eight people. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has criticized China's proposed national security laws, warning they could be an early death knell for the "one country, two systems" principle under which Beijing pledged to leave Hong Kong's semi-autonomy intact until 2047 – half a century after the U.K. handed its former colony back to Beijing. Hong Kong set for new crackdown by China? Nearly 200 political figures from around the world have criticized Beijing's draft national security laws for Hong Kong, including 17 members of the U.S. Congress, calling it a "flagrant breach" of that agreement. Hong Kong pro-democracy legislator Claudia Mo told CBS News that the idea of one country, two systems, "doesn't mean anything anymore." "It's very saddening," she said, "very depressing." But the fiery politician added that Beijing's push for more power "doesn't mean that we'll all just… take it all lying down." The new laws are widely expected to be adopted at the end of this year's National People's Congress. The annual gathering of China's rubber-stamp legislature, which began last week in Beijing, is set to wrap up on Thursday.
NASA and SpaceX launching two astronauts on Crew Dragon this week, beginning new era in U.S. space program - CBS News
The first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil since 2011 marks a milestone for NASA – and private sector space travel.
Watch live coverage on CBSNWednesday, May 27. Launch is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. EDT. Opening a new chapter in American spaceflight, two veteran space shuttle fliers will blaze a fresh trail to orbit aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Wednesday, weather permitting — the first launch of American astronauts from U.S. soil since the space shuttle's final flight nearly nine years ago. The historic mission, the first orbital flight of a new piloted spacecraft in 39 years, is the culmination of a six-year, multibillion-dollar NASA drive to end the agency's sole reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for transportation to and from the space station. The government-financed, privately owned and operated astronaut ferry ships will enable NASA to expand the space station's crew to seven, including four full-time NASA and partner agency astronauts, maximizing the amount of research that can be carried out in the $100 billion lab complex. This week, NASA plans to resume U.S. astronaut launches from American soil using a commercially developed SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX successfully tested the system during an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station in 2019. SpaceX The mission, known as Demonstration Test Flight No. 2 — Demo 2 — will mark the second launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with astronauts on board. If no major problems are found, the agency is expected to certify the spacecraft for operational space station crew rotation missions, clearing the way for launch of a three-man, one-woman crew this fall. Longer term, NASA also expects the Commercial Crew Program, under which SpaceX and, eventually, Boeing, will launch private citizens as well as professional astronauts, to open up the high frontier to private sector development, including privately operated space stations. "This is a new generation, a new era in human spaceflight," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "NASA has long had this idea that we need to build, own and operate hardware to get to space. And in the past that has been true. "But now in this new era, NASA, especially in low-Earth orbit, has an ability to be a customer, one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace. ... We want to have numerous providers that are competing against each other on cost and innovation. And that's really what we are entering into with this new era of human spaceflight." Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and agency-wide workforce restrictions, Crew Dragon commander Douglas Hurley, the pilot of the final shuttle mission in July 2011, and crewmate Robert Behnken flew to the Kennedy Space Center this past Wednesday to begin final preparations. Behnken, left, and Hurley rehearse procedures in a Crew Dragon flight simulator at SpaceX's Hawthorne, California, rocket factory. SpaceX They looked on Friday as SpaceX test fired the their booster's nine first-stage engines, then donned their spacesuits and strapped in Saturday for a dress rehearsal countdown. If all goes well, they will blast off Wednesday at 4:33:33 p.m. EDT and dock with the International Space Station at 11:40 a.m. the next day. "It's tremendously exciting to be where we are, on the cusp of launching a commercial crew vehicle," Hurley told Vice President Mike Pence during a video chat last week with the National Space Council. "It's an exciting time to be in the space business. ... I almost wish I was a young astronaut again because it's going to be an exciting time for folks who fly in space." Pandemic limits public viewing NASA normally would expect enormous crowds across Florida's "Space Coast" to share that excitement, especially for the first such flight in nearly a decade. But the Kennedy Space Center remains closed to non-essential personnel, part of NASA's agency-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic. And so, for the first time in its history, NASA will not open the space center for public launch viewing and has sharply limited the number of journalists on site while implementing strict social distancing protocols. "The challenge that we're up against right now is we want to keep everybody safe," Bridenstine said. "That's the number one, highest priority of NASA, keeping people safe. And so we're asking people not to travel to the Kennedy Space Center. "We don't want an outbreak. We need a spectacular moment that all of America can see and all of the world can see to inspire not just those of us who've been waiting years for this, but to inspire the generations that are coming. And we need to do it in a way that's responsible. "So we're asking people not to travel to Kennedy but to watch on line or watch on your television at home. ... But we're asking people not to make the trip to Kennedy." That includes the crew's extended families and friends. Instead of being able to invite hundreds of guests to share the excitement of launch, the usual NASA practice, Hurley's wife, veteran astronaut Karen Nyberg, and fellow astronaut Megan McArthur, Behnken's wife, were limited to just 15 guests each. "We were looking forward to celebrating with lots of people who could physically come to the Cape and enjoy watching the launch in person," McArthur said. "But I have gotten so many notes of support from people all over the country saying hey, we're still going to be with you, we're going to be watching from home, but we're still cheering Bob and Doug on, you know — go, Dragon! — and so people are still really, really excited about it." Hurley and Nyberg have one son, 10-year-old Jack, as do Behnken and McArthur, 6-year-old Theodore. Arriving in Florida with a flyby of your dad’s spaceship on the launch pad... Priceless. #LaunchAmerica#CrewDragonpic.twitter.com/qnFIfPsHkM — Karen L. Nyberg (@AstroKarenN) May 24, 2020 "One good thing for us, the positive side, is that our sons have been basically quarantined from other children for two months," said Nyberg. "So they do get a little extra time with their dads closer to launch, which is nice." The immediate families plan to watch the launch from the roof of NASA's Launch Control Center just 3.2 miles from pad 39A. Dragon launch may be "smoother" but "louder" Launching directly into the plane of the space station's orbit, the Falcon 9 will climb away on a northeasterly trajectory atop 1.7 million pounds of thrust from its first stage engines. As has become commonplace with SpaceX, the rocket's first stage, after powering the spacecraft out of the thick lower atmosphere, will attempt to land on an off-shore droneship while the second stage continues the climb to orbit. Twelve minutes after liftoff, the Crew Dragon will be released to fly on its own. "Based on our shuttle experience, the first stage was pretty rough and rumbly as well from a noise perspective," Behnken said. "We expect Dragon to kind of be a little bit of both. We expect it to be smoother, but we also expect it to be louder (during) that initial portion of the launch." An artist's impression of a Crew Dragon spacecraft on final approach to the International Space Station. NASA Throughout their trip to the space station, Hurley and Behnken will communicate with flight controllers through engineers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, not traditional "capsule communicators," or CAPCOMs, in mission control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Instead, a SpaceX employee, known as a "crew operations responsible engineer," or CORE, will relay instructions to the astronauts, answer questions, provide flight plan updates and generally serve as the crew's interface with the SpaceX control team overseeing Crew Dragon operations from company headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Once Hurley and Behnken begin their final approach to the station, NASA CAPCOMs and flight directors will resume their traditional roles, coordinating rendezvous procedures and closely monitoring the final stages of the docking procedure. Described as a "flying iPhone," the highly automated spacecraft, equipped with large state-of-the-art touch-screen displays in its futuristic cockpit, is designed to execute a fully autonomous rendezvous and docking. But for this initial test flight, Hurley and Behnken plan to take the controls and "fly" the capsule to test their ability to manually maneuver shortly after reaching orbit and again during final approach to the station. Asked to compare the Crew Dragon to the much larger, much more complex -- and expensive -- space shuttle, Hurley said "what's not to like? It's a flying vehicle. It's a spaceship. And we're going to get to fly it." Weather constraints – and an escape system In a major departure from past U.S. launch systems, the Crew Dragon is equipped with a "full envelope" abort system capable of blasting the capsule safely away from its booster at any point from the launch pad to orbit if a major malfunction is detected. The capsule also is capable of carrying out an emergency return from orbit. NASA's single-seat Mercury and three-seat Apollo capsules were equipped with solid-propellant rockets to pull the capsule away during the initial stages of launch. Two-man Gemini capsules relied on ejection seats. The Crew Dragon is equipped with eight liquid-propellant SuperDraco engines, capable of pushing the capsule a half mile away from the Falcon 9 in 7.5 seconds. The abort system was successfully tested during a January flight, accelerating an unpiloted Crew Dragon to 400 mph relative to the rocket. In January, SpaceX carried out a dramatic unpiloted test of the Crew Dragon's abort system, deliberately shutting down the first stage engines of a Falcon 9 rocket to simulate a catastrophic failure. The Crew Dragon's powerful SuperDraco abort engines then propelled the capsule safely away from the booster in a convincing safety demonstration. SpaceX Hurley said the abort system, and the capsule design, make Crew Dragon intrinsically safer than the space shuttle. The space shuttle had a record of two catastrophic failures in 135 flights, putting the demonstrated odds at just under 1-in-70. The commercial crew program risk assessment calls for a 1-in-270 chance of a vehicle-related in-flight fatality. "This vehicle has end-to-end abort capability, on the pad all the way up to orbit," Hurley said. "And so that perspective for me is huge compared to shuttle where there were what we call 'black zones' where it didn't really matter if you had the right combination of failures, you were likely not going to survive an abort." When Behnken told his 6-year-old son that he would be flying on the Crew Dragon, "the only question he had was whether or not the Dragon was going to roar." He showed his son it would, in fact, roar with a visit to the space center to take in a Dragon cargo launch. "We've done everything we can, and so have the folks (at SpaceX), to make sure that the Dragon isn't gonna bite us," Behnken said. "And if it tries, there's an escape system that's going to help us get away from the Falcon." But depending on when an abort might be executed, Hurley and Behnken could be forced to splash down at any point along a trajectory stretching from Cape Canaveral to the North Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland or, on the other side of an "exclusion" zone, near the coast of Ireland. A Crew Dragon's launch trajectory will carry the astronauts along a northeasterly path paralleling the the East Coast of the United States and out over the North Atlantic Ocean on the way to orbit. Air Force personnel stationed at Patrick Air Force Base near the launch site are responsible for post-abort crew rescue within 200 nautical miles of the launch pad while a team sanding by at Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina will be on ready alert to carry out rescues farther along the trajectory. To avoid the possibility of a landing in the remote and often stormy North Atlantic, the Crew Dragon's computer is programmed to fly the capsule east toward the United Kingdom or west toward Newfoundland to bypass the downrange abort exclusion zone, or DAEZ. NASA Air Force helicopters, two C-130 aircraft, a C-17 jet and teams of parajumpers equipped with jet skis, inflatable rafts and other equipment will be standing by at nearby Patrick Air Force Base and Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina for every commercial crew launch, on alert to mount a rescue mission if needed. Rescue personnel practice astronaut recovery procedures that will be in place for every commercial crew launch in case of problems that force an emergency descent to splashdown. NASA/Michael Downs But to pull off a successful splashdown, the Crew Dragon used for the Demo 2 mission requires relatively light winds and mild sea states. Given the vast area that must be considered, that will be a tall order for weather officers normally focused on local conditions. "Certainly, we do expect a higher risk of weather related scrubs on this mission," said Benji Reed, SpaceX director of crew mission management. "We need to think about the weather along the track of where Dragon can come back down. ... I would expect there to be a very high chance of scrub due to weather." One NASA document said it could take up to 30 days to get the Crew Dragon cleared for launch given historical weather data for this time of year. Catching up to the space station But assuming an on-time launch and problem-free climb to space, Hurley and Behnken will check out the Crew Dragon's systems and take a few moments to test its manual control system before calling it a day. Catching up to the space station will be the flight computer's job. Approaching from behind and below, the Crew Dragon will loop up to a point directly ahead of the station with its nose aimed at a docking port on the front end of the lab's leading Harmony module where space shuttles once docked. After another test of the capsule's manual controls, Hurley and Behnken will monitor an automated final approach and docking. Standing by to welcome them aboard will be space station commander Chris Cassidy and his Expedition 63 crewmates, cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Hurley served as pilot of the shuttle Atlantis during the program's final flight in July 2011. His commander was Chris Ferguson, now a senior Boeing manager assigned to fly aboard back to the space station aboard the company's CST-100 Starliner commercial crew ship. During the 135th and final shuttle flight, Ferguson and Hurley left an American flag aboard the station for retrieval by the next U.S. crew to visit. The flag was first launched aboard the shuttle Columbia during the orbiter's maiden flight in 1981. "It was a good way to just say 'hey, the next time somebody flies something from the United States, this flag is going to be up here waiting for them,'" Hurley said. "I didn't think I was gonna fly again, let alone potentially be the guy that goes up and gets it. I mean, I still sometimes have a hard time believing it." It will be the third visit to the space station for both Hurley and Behnken, veterans of two space shuttle assembly flights each. They originally expected a one- to two-week test flight, but repeated commercial crew delays, and the presence of just one Soyuz-launched NASA astronaut aboard the station, prompted NASA to extend the mission. Hurley and Behnken received extra training to help Cassidy with on-board research and Behnken, a spacewalk veteran, may join Cassidy for one or more high-priority excursions to install new solar array batteries and/or complete outfitting of a European experiment platform. But it's not yet known how long the Crew Dragon mission might actually last. The longest the capsule assigned to Hurley and Behnken can remain in orbit is about 120 days due to predicted degradation of the Crew Dragon's solar cells from exposure to atomic oxygen in the space environment. Slightly scorched after a successful unpiloted 2019 test flight, a Crew Dragon is hauled aboard a SpaceX recovery ship in the Atlantic Ocean. For piloted missions, the astornauts will stay inside the capsule until it is safely aboard the recovery ship. SpaceX The actual performance of the arrays in orbit, along with forecasts for the offshore landing zone, will factor into the eventual return date. Whenever they come home, they'll have to contend with initial re-adaptation to gravity after splashdown while strapped into a bobbing crew capsule. It will be the first ocean landing for U.S. astronauts since the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission. "Everybody's body is different coming back from space, you know?" Hurley said. "Some people do really well. And some people do pretty poorly, and then everything in between. "The one thing we're certain of is water landings (are going to) exacerbate that to some degree. We'll just do the best we can. Bob and I do pretty well coming back (from space) normally. But, you know, it'll be a longer duration mission for both of us ... and landing in the water, it's not ideal. But that's just part of the process." Commercial crew program critical for space station NASA managers originally hoped to begin launching astronauts aboard SpaceX and Boeing commercial crew ships in 2017, ending the agency's sole reliance on the Soyuz and to assure the presence of up to four NASA and partner agency astronauts to carry out scientific research. Anticipating the advent of U.S. commercial crew ships, Russia scaled back production of its three-seat Soyuz spacecraft and only two will be launched this year: the Soyuz MS-16/62S vehicle, which carried Cassidy and his two Russian crewmates into space April 9, and the second around October 14. At the time of their launch, Cassidy's seat was the last one under contract to NASA. Since then, agency managers have negotiated one more seat aboard the Soyuz scheduled for launch in October. The International Space Station with Earth below and moon above. NASA And that's critical to NASA. At least one U.S. crew member must be aboard the station at all times to operate U.S. and partner agency equipment and systems. The additional Soyuz seat will assure a NASA presence through next spring even if the commercial crew program runs into major delays. But the issue highlights the importance of a successful Crew Dragon mission. "For 20 years we've had this space station crewed," Bridenstine said. "We need to make sure that we keep it crewed, and not just crewed, but we need to make sure that it has its maximum complement so we can get the highest return on investment. And that's what commercial crew is all about." Since 2006, NASA has spent nearly $4 billion buying 70 seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, according to a report last November from NASA's Office of Inspector General. Those numbers include 12 Soyuz seats NASA purchased since 2017, at a cost of about $1 billion, in large part because of delays in the Commercial Crew Program. The numbers do not include the cost of the recently negotiated seat that will be used in October. But the Crew Dragon test flight goes well, NASA plans to launch three U.S. astronauts and one Japanese flier aboard the first operational Crew Dragon in the fall timeframe, joining Cassidy and boosting the NASA-sponsored presence aboard the station to five. They would remain in orbit for about six months and return to Earth next spring. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner is expected to begin carrying astronauts to the station next year, after the company repeats a problematic unpiloted test flight later this year. "It's been a long time since we've put humans on a brand new spacecraft," Bridenstine said at a briefing. "But that's what this is, and it is truly a test flight. Yes, they're going to go to the International Space Station and Bob and Doug are going to do amazing work while there. But we should not lose sight of the fact that this is a test flight. We're doing this to learn things." "This is something they believe in" SpaceX President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell reflected the feelings of many when she pointed at her neck during that same news conference and said "my heart is sitting right here, and I think it's gonna stay there until we get Bob and Doug safely back from the International Space Station." "I think we have pounded the issues associated with Falcon and Dragon more than any other mission we've had in our in our history," she said. "We've also spent years working with the crew office and getting to know Bob and Doug. "I wanted to make sure everyone at SpaceX understood and knew Bob and Doug, as astronauts, as test pilots — badass — but dads and husbands. I wanted to bring some humanity to this very deeply technical effort." Our son’s version of Crew Dragon. I love it. pic.twitter.com/GIYRRMOXd4 — Col. Doug Hurley (@Astro_Doug) April 30, 2020 So do the crew's families. "I would like people to realize that neither Bob nor Doug are people who seek the spotlight, they are doing this because this is something they believe in," Megan McArthur, Behnken's wife, told CBS News. "I think it would be important for them to say that they're part of a large team that has all been involved in this effort for the last five years to get to this moment. They may be the most visible team members, but it's important to them to recognize that they're part of a team that's making this happen."
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Climate change is causing Antarctica's snow to turn green, study says - CBS News
As the climate warms, scientists expect more and more of the snowy desert to turn bright green.
In coastal Antarctica, some snow isn't white — it's green. And while small amounts of the green snow have been visible for years, it's starting to spread across the continent because of climate change. According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, the vibrant color is caused by microscopic algae blooming across the surface of the snow. Using satellite data and fieldwork observations, a team of researchers at the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey have created the first large-scale map of the green algae and predicted the future spread of the bizarre snow. Green snow appears along the Antarctic coast, growing in "warmer" areas, where the average temperatures reach just above freezing in the summer. Although the individual algae are microscopic, when they grow at scale, the green snow can even be seen from space. For the study, the team combined on-the-ground research from two summers in the Antarctic Peninsula with images from the European Space Agency's Sentinel 2 satellite taken between 2017 and 2019. In total, the team identified over 1,600 separate algal blooms on the snow surface. Lead author Matt Davey samples snow algae on Lagoon Island, Antarctica. Sarah Vincent The team found that the distribution of green snow algae is strongly influenced by marine birds and mammals, because their excrement works extremely well as fertilizer. Over 60% of blooms were found near penguin colonies, and others were found near birds' nesting sites. "This is a significant advance in our understanding of land-based life on Antarctica, and how it might change in the coming years as the climate warms," lead author Dr. Matt Davey of the University of Cambridge said in a press release. If bird populations are strongly affected by climate change, as they likely will be, the algae could lose key sources of nutrients. But the results of the study indicate that green snow will massively spread as global temperatures rise. That's because in order to flourish, the organisms need an available supply of water. Temperatures on the peninsula where the green snow is found have risen dramatically in recent decades, increasing the amount of water available. As the planet warms and more of Antarctica's snow melts, the algae will spread, the scientists said. And while some algae will be lost to areas that lose snow altogether, much more will be gained. A photograph showing Anchorage Island dominated by green algae starting to melt out from beneath surface snow on January 26, 2018. Nature Communications "As Antarctica warms, we predict the overall mass of snow algae will increase, as the spread to higher ground will significantly outweigh the loss of small island patches of algae," said co-lead author Dr. Andrew Gray, of the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh. It's unclear how the spreading algae will affect the planet. It plays a key role in cycling nutrients and pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, Davey said, but also darkens snow, and absorbs more heat from the sun. The amount of algae found by the team creates a carbon sink that absorbs about 500 tons of carbon each year, the equivalent of about 875,000 average car journeys in the U.K., researchers said. The amount of algae found is actually a conservative estimate, because the satellite was only capable of picking up green algae, missing its red and orange counterparts. "The snow is multi-colored in places, with a palette of reds, oranges and greens — it's quite an amazing sight," Davey said.