'New ways of solving problems': NASA promotes men dressed as women as part of 'diverse and inclusive teams'

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The government space agency is promoting transgender and nonbinary individuals, including men posing as women, as part of its Pride Month celebration of diverse teams.

NASA posted a video in support of Pride Month to promote "self-affirmation, dignity," and equal rights, the space program said, while adding that it wanted to create awareness of diversity and gender variance.

Despite the fact that the video was originally published in 2022, NASA had no issues with repurposing it for its 2024 push for sexuality- and gender-based hiring.

In the video, Rebekah Reed, associate director of exploration, integration and science directorate, stressed the idea that children need to be able to relate to "diverse" NASA employees. This includes gay, transgender, and allegedly nonbinary workers that were shown in the video.

"Every person, every kid, if they can see themselves in the astronauts that we send out in space, but also in the teams that make that possible, then we're doing our job," she claimed.

"We're doing incredibly difficult and complicated things," she continued. "We want people that look at things from a different perspective, that can bring us new ways of solving problems, and diverse and inclusive teams do that."

Also appearing in the video was a man named Amy Lendian, a protective systems engineer.

Lendian said that if someone is in the closet, seeing people like himself doing their jobs and being effective is "the biggest encouragement" he can give. He added that being a man who believes he is a woman, while working at NASA, shows that he can successfully complete his job while being his "true self."

"They accept me 100%. All together working on this."

'For the first time, we have raised the Intersex Progress Pride Flag at a NASA.'

On a multimedia page dedicated to Pride, Lendian made further remarks about being transgender, noting that he has worked on the Artemis moon project.

"So here I am, a transgender woman, an engineer, working at Kennedy Space Center, and I get to work around these really smart, wonderful people, supporting the Artemis mission," he said.

Harel Dor, a robotic systems engineer, also appeared in the Pride video. He spoke about the importance of using his plural pronouns because he is "nonbinary."

Dor shared a story about participating in a "candidate lunch," where he met someone who also uses the same irregular pronouns.
The video showed a photo of Dor dressed in women's clothes while he recalled that it "felt really nice to see someone else in the room using those pronouns."

"I made sure to introduce myself with my pronouns so that they could know you're not the only one here," he added.

Days after promoting the video, NASA's Ames Research Center announced that it decided to fly the "intersex progress" flag at the government facility. The flag promotes transgenderism, as well as racial politics.

"For the first time, we have raised the Intersex Progress Pride Flag at a NASA center to commemorate #PrideMonth," the government entity wrote on X.

NASA also claimed that there are still "obstacles in achieving full acceptance and protections for the LGBTQ+ community" but noted that they will continue to "rise" together to achieve their goals at NASA.

The space agency then said that there had been "significant contributions of LGBTQ+ employees" and that it recognizes their contributions to "advance NASA's priorities."

— (@)

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Apollo 8 astronaut, who snapped iconic 'Earthrise' photo, dies in fiery plane crash caught on video

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Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders died in a fiery plane crash over Puget Sound in Washington on Friday. The tragic incident was caught on video. Anders was 90.

At the time of the airplane crash, Anders was piloting his vintage Beechcraft T-34 Mentor – a single-engine, propeller-driven aircraft primarily used for flight training during the 1950s by the United States Air Force and U.S. Navy.

Video taken by Phillip Person shows Anders' plane suddenly falling from the sky and crashing into the Puget Sound, just 80 feet from the shore of Jones Island.

"I could not believe what I was seeing in front of my eyes," Person said. "It went into a barrel roll, sort of a loop, it was inverted."

"It tried to pull up before it hit the water, but it was too low when it started the loop, and it didn't clear the water," he said of the plane crash. "Looked like it clipped a wing at first, went down very hard, burst into flames, broke apart, and instantly went under water."

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement, "A Beechcraft T-34 Mentor crashed into the water near Roche Harbor, Washington, around 11:40 a.m. local time Friday, June 7. Only the pilot was on board."

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have launched an investigation into the deadly plane crash. The plane will be recovered from the water and will be examined by the NTSB at an offsite facility, where investigators will access tracking data, air traffic control communications recordings, and the pilot's flight experience.

You can watch video of the deadly crash here.

Anders' son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, confirmed his father's sudden death and told the Associated Press, "The family is devastated. He was a great pilot and we will miss him terribly."

NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson said of the famed astronaut, "In 1968, during Apollo 8, Bill Anders offered to humanity among the deepest of gifts an astronaut can give. He traveled to the threshold of the Moon and helped all of us see something else: ourselves. He embodied the lessons and the purpose of exploration. We will miss him."

Anders was part of the Apollo 8 team – the first manned mission to orbit the Moon. Anders was the lunar modular pilot, Frank Borman was the commander, and James Lovell was the command modular pilot.

Anders snapped the iconic "Earthrise" photo, which captured the moment our planet rose over the lunar horizon on Dec. 24. 1968.

CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

During the mission's Christmas Eve broadcast, Anders and the crew read from the book of Genesis.

We are now approaching lunar sunrise. And for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you. 'In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.'

Lovell is the last surviving member of the original Apollo 8 crew.

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Apollo 8's Christmas Eve 1968 Message www.youtube.com


FACT CHECK: NASA Claimed Alan Shepherd Piloted First Crewed Flight To Space

A post shared on social media  by NASA purports U.S. astronaut Alan Shepherd piloted the first crewed flight to space. #NationalAstronautDay 🚀💫 63 years ago, Alan Shepherd made history when he launched to space as the pilot of the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission. This marked the first ever crewed flight to space. Today, we are just a day […]

Laser transmission hits Earth from 140 million miles away — but it's not aliens

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Earth recently received a laser transmission from a record-breaking 140 million miles away. The development could present major consequences for the future of space travel, according to a recent report by NASA.

While this transmission seems like it could be extraterrestrial in origin, it is not. The transmission was sent from NASA's Psyche spacecraft, which is located around 1.5 times the distance between Earth and the Sun.

This breakthrough was achieved by using a Psyche feature called Deep Space Optical Communications, per the New York Post. The primary objective of the project is to investigate the metal asteroid known as 16 Psyche in the hopes of discovering gems.

The asteroid is expected to be around four billion miles away.

Meera Srinivasan — the project's operations lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California — said: "We downlinked about 10 minutes of duplicated spacecraft data during a pass on April 8."

“Until then, we’d been sending test and diagnostic data in our downlinks from Psyche. This represents a significant milestone for the project by showing how optical communications can interface with a spacecraft’s radio frequency comms system.”

The Post mentioned that NASA wanted to demonstrate the potential for laser communications to be carried out across large distances in space, which is 10 to 100 times what is currently available.

The development of this technology could have a large impact on the future of human space travel.

NASA stated:

NASA’s optical communications demonstration has shown that it can transmit test data at a maximum rate of 267 megabits per second (Mbps) from the flight laser transceiver’s near-infrared downlink laser — a bit rate comparable to broadband internet download speeds.

That was achieved on Dec. 11, 2023, when the experiment beamed a 15-second ultra-high-definition video to Earth from 19 million miles away (31 million kilometers, or about 80 times the Earth-Moon distance). The video, along with other test data, including digital versions of Arizona State University’s Psyche Inspired artwork, had been loaded onto the flight laser transceiver before Psyche launched last year.

The Psyche spacecraft is expected to move by Mars — humanity's next great mission — in 2026, and then it will continue its journey to its final destination, 16 Psyche, by 2029.

The spacecraft will ultimately aim to map out the rest of the surrounding region and possibly discover precious metals on 16 Psyche.

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At SpaceX stands the 'Gateway to Mars' and the future of the human race

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A few days after our recent interview, science writer Joe Pappalardo took his 89-year-old dad to the Space X Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, so I tagged along. Before he'd entered the facility, the elder Mr. Pappalardo had never seen anything like it. At the entrance, he examined the message inscribed on the giant outer wall: “GATEWAY TO MARS.”

These kinds of declarative (and imperative) statements rouse something prelinguistic in us. For some reason, humans have evolved into conquerors, desperate for more territory. This is good. It’s one of our finest qualities.

So, father and son approached the hulking megastructures of Elon Musk’s aerospace wonderland, and Musk’s promises became more noticeable. Space flight, of course, but most impressively, the possibility of a safe return, rocket and all.

Sunlight poured down, and the world around Mr. Pappalardo must have felt mechanically different as he strolled into the bustling, futuristic cityscape. Jutting up from the swarm are three giant modules, 160 feet tall. Were these the spires and beams of a science amusement park?

It was all so advanced.

He hadn’t expected so much construction, but when he considered it, it made sense: Invention and trial demand constant upkeep. Like ants ferrying soil into an empire, the hubbub of activity became a spectacle of its own. He couldn’t believe how many people were there, and he wondered why so many of them had cameras.

“One guy out there had a telephoto zoom lens on his camera,” he tells me. “He was taking pictures of everything. Maybe you're thinking, ‘Maybe he was a spy.’ Never know.”

Very large chopsticks

Kevin Ryan

Mr. Pappalardo remembers waking everyone up to witness Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the lunar surface. The entire family was vacationing on the Jersey Shore. After a day at the beach, they were all tired, but that didn’t matter because there was a man, an American, on the moon with his giant space boots.

But the machinery of Space X is insurmountably more advanced.

At 5,000 tons, Starship is the largest, most powerful rocket ever made, about the height of the Pyramid of Giza. It’s designed to be reusable. Starbase has 10 Starship launches, four of which also returned a landing.

“The launch pad has these appendages called ‘chopsticks’,” Mr. Pappalardo tells me, “where they plan on having the rocket come back and land on the launch pad where it left, which is quite remarkable.”

As you can tell by his quotes, the man is incredibly sharp, not for his age, but in general. We spoke for 30 minutes, late afternoon, and he could have kept chatting for an hour.

Born and raised in Haverstraw, New York, Mr. Pappalardo was a chemist for decades. His demeanor and intellectual precision reflect this, though not in the form of austerity.

I ask, “Do the principles of the laboratory emerge in the Starbase setting?”

“Well, it is very different,” he says, “ because in the laboratory, we're dealing with little things, but the principles are the same. When you want to achieve something, you develop a hypothesis of how you want to get there, and you test it and get there.”

The seafarer

In his northeastern baritone, Mr. Pappalardo recalls his sailing days. One trip took him from Antigua in the Caribbean to Charleston, South Carolina. He quickly learned the difference between sailing on the sea straight through the Bermuda Triangle and navigating the beastly power of the Atlantic Ocean.

When storms hit, the waves could become mountainous.

“You can see waves higher over your head on your left and waves over your head on your right,” he tells me. “Now, you know the physics of it, that the waves can't do this,” he brings his hands together, “they can't combine, but while you're there you're not too sure.”

Sometimes, the endless waves stung with loneliness — the howl of repetition full of clouds. But, perhaps most of all, he remembers the moments of tranquility.

“At nighttime when you hold the wheel and the boat is just hissing along through the surf and nothing around, it's all dark and just the moon: It's beautiful, absolutely beautiful.”

Remember: Humans used to know a world of clear water, and what we did was build a ship and explore.

The ways that history fell

Head east a smidge along the Gulf of Mexico, and you’ll run into South Padre Island, where enthusiastic college kids have been known to chug until they start puking.

Brownsville, in the other direction, has repeatedly been a battleground of all sorts over the past two centuries. It is one of America’s southernmost points — you can practically sneeze at Mexico and make contact.

The closeness of it all feels uncanny, yet American, as if these locations had spilled out by accident and suctioned together like a Ziploc full of random souvenirs that don’t belong.

Of course, what’s more American than this uncanny accidental mishmash of events, ideas, and places, where a person like Mr. Pappalardo can begin life as the son of Italian immigrants and then quickly, invisibly plug into the depths of a history like ours, so vibrant and strong and broken?

Dromology

We discuss the engulfing pace of change, the fever of acceleration that keeps outpacing everything, even itself, too powerful and inhuman to get tired. These breakthroughs leap to action daily.

“The problem is that they're advancing so fast that no one can possibly keep up,” he tells me. “But every time this subject comes up, I always think of my father. He went from the horse-and-buggy days to the man on the moon. You don't get any more variation than that.”

The debate is between the evangelists of a neuro-connective frontier, where technology, as an instrument, builds and destroys only at someone’s command, and the rapture-loving snobs all too eager to convince greater society to be sad about capitalism in a whole new depressing way.

In his spaz of a book “One-Dimensional Man,” Frankfurt School mainstay Herbert Marcuse characterizes technology as “an instrument for control and domination” and mass media as an integral part of that process. (Well, at least he’s right about the dubious habits of the media apparatus.)

Marcuse frames this as the technological domination of our “advanced industrial society,” and thus devotes himself to rattling the “new forms of control” that arise as part of this “one-dimensional society.”

It strikes me as a paranoid and stubbornly theoretical stance, itself one-dimensional. There’s an incoherence to this lot’s obsession with characterizing technology as totalitarian. Instead, we have a society shaped by technological monks and bureaucrats who, yes, have special access to mass events. But this is entirely different than owning an iPhone.

Tech is precisely what diminishes and even capsizes any sort of political rapture. It does appear that technology has eradicated geography as a reality or obstacle. But in its place, we have limitless access to the code of human thought.

Like every other anecdote Mr. Pappalardo provides, this is guided by a spirit of exploration.

As Italian philosopher Bifo Berardi observes in his book "Futurability," “Technology is not a chain of logical implications, but a field of immanent conflicting possibilities.” These potentialities strengthen the connective force of digital neural networks.

In a world that constantly grows closer to all of its network machinery, including us, and all the equipment we have transformed into accidents and failures, with the one periodic success among them — the ship still belongs to both the expedition and the shipwreck.

Because method, questions, and curiosity can calm the rigors of progress.

FACT CHECK: Image Shows Art, Not Recent Solar Eclipse From Space

The image is not a real photo from space, and has circulated online since 2009

Staring at the sun: The eclipse, technology, and the Final Frontier

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Staring at the Eclipse with Joe Pappalardo | Return: Tech by Blaze Media youtu.be

The memes about staring at the eclipse were misguided in their assumption: The temptation to stare at the apocalyptic burn would afflict plenty of us.

"I suspect the damage, the potential from the eclipse is kind of overblown,” he says, smiling a bit. “But now I'm not so sure. I'm still seeing spots."

Joe Pappalardo is undoubtedly my favorite science writer. He’s one of my favorite writers in general. As a magazine writer and contributing editor at Popular Mechanics, with bylines in National Geographic, TIME, Esquire, Texas Monthly, and the Smithsonian Magazine, he has given us a writing style that’s part Hemingway, part Kerouac, and part science-minded philosophy.

Joe has written about B-17 gunners, jungle spaceports, Western shootouts, and sunflowers. His book “Sunflowers: The Secret History” charts sunflowers' complicated, mind-blowing history.

Why is there a spaceport in a remote jungle of French Guiana? How will people die on Mars? How do we preserve the Declaration of Independence? Should we be terrified of drones? What was the Wild West like for lawmen and criminals? What would it be like to follow a solar eclipse in a Concorde jet? How bad are the battle scenes in the Star Wars sequel trilogy? Will there ever be a spiritual element of AI? How would it fully achieve original creation? Why did the CIA employ killer monks? Are North Korean nukes an actual threat? Will the future of space exploration depend on the egos of wealthy Big Tech giants? What roles did sunflowers play when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union?

These are just some of the topics that Joe Pappalardo knows well.

So, I wanted to chat with him about the solar eclipse.

And, perfectly, this led us into the cosmos, climbing the stars and whatnot.

You can feel the joyful back-and-forth between wonder and doom throughout this interview. How lovely, a tug like this is, between progress and demolition.

The solar eclipse brought people together and created a sense of unity. "There's very few things that really do sort of unite everybody in an event like this."

Joe also describes a generational divide in embracing new ideas and disruptive technologies, with some people resisting change.

He chatted about the unique characteristics of an astronaut and the future of space travel, which may involve more diverse participants and commercial space flights. SpaceX has ambitious plans for the next couple of years, including launching Starship and landing the booster on the same launch pad.

As Giorgio Agamben put it, “Technology is in fact nothing other than a human action directed at a goal.”

His father influenced Joe's interest in space and science. They’re going to a launch at Starbase this week. We’ll check back with them when they finish their journey.

During The Total Solar Eclipse, Consider The Heavens

You can take time away from the chaos of daily life and absorb the majesty of it all, if only briefly.

NASA welcomes the latest class of astronauts after 2 years of intense training in Houston

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The Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, welcomed 12 new astronauts after the candidates completed a two-year training program through NASA. There are reportedly 10 Americans and two individuals from the United Arab Emirates who make up the latest class of astronauts.

Space.com reported that these astronauts will be assigned to missions on the International Space Station and future commercial space stations. They will also be focused on missions to the moon in preparation for an eventual journey to Mars.

NASA announced the news on its website earlier this month:

The most recent astronaut candidates wave to the crowd in this image from their March 5, 2024, graduation ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Nicknamed “The Flies,” this cohort is now eligible for spaceflight assignments to the International Space Station, future orbiting destinations, the Moon, and beyond.

Selected for training in 2021, the astronaut graduates were chosen from a pool of more than 12,000 applicants and successfully completed more than two years of required basic training, including spacewalking, robotics, space station systems, and more.

Fox News Digital reported that Luke Delaney — a retired United States Marine Corps major from Florida — said graduating from the program was a dream come true. For some, the dream of becoming an astronaut takes decades to come to fruition.

Delaney discussed the first time he put on the spacesuit, saying, "The first time you put that on, and you’re getting in the water, it’s impressive. You just feel like you’ve made it in some ways," he shared.

The process of becoming an astronaut is intense. Reports mentioned that all the members of the current class are doctors, scientists, engineers, and researchers, and they were chosen from a pool of 12,000 applicants. After making the initial cut, they were sent to Houston to begin physical and mental training for their first spaceflight.

Jack Hathaway — another member of the newest astronaut class — said there is "just so much to be excited about."

"There's a lot of hard work that the whole team is going to have to do. The whole thing is just such a cool time to be part of the [astronaut] office. You're coming into the office with all the commercial partners doing lunar landings and lunar missions, and the opportunity to have multiple commercial partners building lunar landers and human landing systems. I'm just really excited about this."

There is a lot of buzz around the possibility of astronauts making another trip to the moon. Medical physicist Christopher Williams said the team is prepared to get back to the moon and to use their specialized skills to get there.

"It just gives me goosebumps that some of the folks that I walked across the stage with today, I think, are going to be on the moon," he told Space.com.

"We're not only growing, but adding to our portfolio, getting beyond low Earth orbit. I think it connects with a lot of people in terms of exploration and getting out there."

There is no timetable for when the astronauts could make a return to the moon.

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