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NASA selects SpaceX as its sole provider for a lunar lander

Enlarge / Rendering of SpaceX's Starship vehicle on the surface of the Moon. (credit: NASA) In an extraordinary announcement on Friday, NASA said that it has selected SpaceX and its Starship vehicle to serve as the lunar lander for its Artemis Program. This is NASA's plan to return humans to the Moon later this decade. About a year ago, NASA gave...

Arkansas House passes unconstitutional bill putting creationism in schools

Enlarge / The Arkansas state capitol. (credit: Daniel Schwen) Last week, the Arkansas state House of Representatives passed a bill that would amend state education law to allow teachers in public schools to teach creationism as "a theory of how the earth came to exist." As it stands, the act promotes blatantly unconstitutional behavior as made clear...

SARS-CoV-2 variant found in Brazil: More infectious, may limit immunity

Enlarge / COVID-19 has taken a terrible toll on Brazil. (credit: Michael Dantas / Getty Images) Almost from the moment it made the jump to humans, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been picking up mutations and creating new lineages as it expands into different populations. In practical terms, the vast majority of these mutations make absolutely no difference;...

Rocket Report: SpaceX to build huge launch tower, Branson sells Virgin stock

Enlarge / New Shepard crew capsule is seen landing in West Texas. (credit: Blue Origin) Welcome to Edition 3.41 of the Rocket Report! As always there is plenty of news in the world of launch, and this week we have several stories about heavy lift vehicles. Perhaps most interesting, SpaceX has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration...

99.992% of fully vaccinated people have dodged COVID, CDC data shows

Enlarge / Residents wait in an observation area after receiving Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Richmond, California on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg) Cases of COVID-19 are extremely rare among people who are fully vaccinated, according to a new data analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among...

MIT scientists study spider web structure by translating it into music

Now you can walk through a virtual spider web, using VR headset and controllers to interact with a web sonification model. A spider weaving its intricate web is a bit like a person composing a song, at least in the eyes of MIT materials engineer Markus Buehler, whose research involves translating web structure into musical melodies. Together with...

CDC expert panel punts on deciding fate of J&J COVID vaccine

Enlarge / Boxes of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Florida. (credit: Getty | Paul Hennessy) An advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declined to vote on the fate of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, likely leaving in place a pause on the vaccine’s use until...

Comparing the actual US grid to the one predicted 15 years ago

Enlarge (credit: VCG / Getty Images) On Monday, the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley Lab released a report entitled "Halfway to Zero," referring to a goal of a zero-emission US electric grid. The report's headline claim is a bit bogus, in that we've not cut our emissions in half relative to any point in history. Instead, they're down to...

The very common vaccine ingredient at the center of J&J, AstraZeneca drama

Enlarge / Adenoviruses seen via transmission electron microscopy. (credit: Getty | BSIP) Out of an abundance of caution, US officials on Tuesday recommended pausing use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. Officials linked the vaccine to six peculiar illnesses in which people developed life-threatening blood clots in combination with low...

It now seems likely that Starliner will not launch crew until early 2022

Enlarge / What a docking of Boeing's Starliner to the International Space Station will look like. (credit: Boeing) About five weeks have passed since Boeing updated the status of its Starliner spacecraft, with the company saying it was "evaluating" a new target launch date for its next mission. This test flight of Starliner, which will not carry...

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