|Good morning || June 29, 2020|
Leading the News
SpaceX Postpones Friday’s Launch Of Starlink, BlackSky Satellites
SPACE (6/26, Thompson) reported that SpaceX “is standing down from the launch of its next batch of Starlink satellites to allow time for additional preflight checks of the Falcon 9.” The company “was scheduled to launch another batch of its Starlink internet-beaming satellites and two satellites for BlackSky on a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket” at 4:18 p.m. EST Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center. However, the company “chose to delay the launch attempt, and a new date has not yet been set.” On June 30, “a different Falcon 9 rocket will carry an upgraded GPS satellite into orbit for” the US Space Force.
CNET News (6/26, Mack) reported that SpaceX “tweeted a couple of hours before the scheduled” launch of the Falcon 9 rocket on Friday, “Team needed additional time for prelaunch checkouts, but Falcon 9 and the satellites are healthy. Will announce new target launch date once confirmed on the Range.”
SpaceX To Attempt Recovery Of Rocket Used In Military Satellite Launch For First Time. Space News (6/28, Erwin, Subscription Publication) reports that for Tuesday’s launch of a Global Positioning Satellite, SpaceX “is scheduled to make its first attempt to recover the Falcon 9 booster after launching a military satellite.” SpaceX is launching the satellite for the US Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), which “agreed to revise some mission requirements so SpaceX could fly back the booster.” In exchange, SpaceX “took off ‘several million dollars’ off the price of the launch, said Walter Lauderdale, chief of the Falcon’s systems operations operation division at SMC’s Launch Enterprise. The original contract awarded to SpaceX in 2017 was for $96.5 million.”
Administrators Worry About Students’ Behavior As They Consider Reopening Campuses
The “questions of whether, and how, to return to college campuses are ones with which millions of American families are grappling with, as schools from coast to coast cautiously unveil a patchwork of policies for allowing students back and permitting virtual learning.” It’s also a question that’s “come under sharp criticism as officials say young people are increasingly testing positive for the coronavirus and becoming a worrying vector for COVID-19.” But while students “decide whether they believe their colleges or universities will be acting responsibly in allowing students back, some school officials and health experts told ABC News (6/26) that they’re worried about the other end of the equation: how students will behave themselves, away from their parents and amid a nationwide pandemic.”
Many Students, Staff Remain Unconvinced About Universities’ Plans To Reopen This Fall
Vox (6/26) reported universities across the country are “being asked to weigh the public health of their community against their bottom line.” And many institutions, “particularly smaller schools that are dependent on tuition to survive, are wary of the possibility of low enrollment numbers and declining revenue if online classes continue into the fall.” But many “students (both undergraduate and graduate alike), staff, and faculty are unconvinced that reopening for the fall will be the best course of action.”
Incoming Freshman Frustrated By Colleges’ Opaque Fall Plans
The Washington Post (6/27, Anderson, Lumpkin) reported “one after another, colleges and universities in recent weeks have announced plans for operating a fall term in the shadow of a disease that has killed more than 120,000 Americans.” But some schools are “holding out, struggling to piece together a plan to bring students back safely.” And for many “incoming freshmen, the limbo has an off-ramp: gap years. How many will take that step remains to be seen,” yet, “jobs and internships are hard to find in a fragile economy.”
Research May Help Colleges Reestablish Their Band Programs Amid Persisting Pandemic
The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (6/26) reported research coming out of the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland may help administrators reestablish their band programs despite the persisting pandemic. At least 74 organizations – “including the band directors associations from every Power Five conference and the Florida Music Education Association – have donated to fund a pair of scientific studies starting up” at the aforementioned schools. And what those researchers “find in the coming weeks will influence everything from how Florida State fans hear the War Chant this September to how middle school directors lay out chairs for rehearsals.”
Michigan Higher Ed’s Fall Semester Plans Detailed
The Detroit Free Press (6/26) reported that though “cases of coronavirus continue to surge across the United States, college administrators are gearing up to reopen laboratories, residence halls and cafeterias come August.” The Free Press outlined the fall plans of 41 Michigan colleges and universities, including MSU. The university will have 50% of classes online, with the remainder split evenly between hybrid and in-person formats. MSU’s semester will begin “Sept. 2, with in-person instruction ending on Nov. 25. Virtual coursework and final exams will continue for the last three weeks of the semester. Fall break is canceled.”
College Towns Confront Existential Crisis Amid Pandemic
The New York Times (6/28, Hubler) reports, “Efforts to stem the pandemic have squeezed local economies across the nation, but the threat is starting to look existential in college towns.” According to the Times, “communities that have evolved around rural campuses – Cornell, Amherst College, Penn State – are confronting not only Covid-19 but also major losses in population, revenue and jobs.” In addition, facing budget deficits, local governments are cutting services, raising fees, and furloughing employees.
University Of Utah Shelving SAT/ACT Requirements For Two Years
The AP (6/26) reported “prospective students at the University of Utah will no longer be required to submit ACT or SAT scores for the next two years in response to the coronavirus pandemic.” Steve Robinson, senior associate vice president for enrollment management, “announced the decision Thursday after high school students have faced limited access to testing centers amid the pandemic.”
Princeton To Remove Woodrow Wilson’s Name From Public-Policy School
The Washington Post (6/27, Aratani) reported Princeton University’s board of trustees has “voted to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its school of public and international affairs, saying the late president’s segregationist policies make him an ‘especially inappropriate namesake’ for a public policy school.” The school will now be known as the “Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.” The trustees also voted to “change the name of a residential college that had been named for Wilson to First College.”
The New York Times (6/27, Pietsch) reported Monmouth University, also located in New Jersey, “said last week that it would remove Wilson’s name from its marquee building after administrators, professors and students said that the former president held abhorrent views on race and reinstituted segregation in the federal work force.” These decisions contrast with a 2016 vote by Princeton trustees “to keep Wilson’s name on campus buildings and programs, despite student protests that led to a review of his legacy there.”
Also reporting are the AP (6/27), Chronicle of Higher Education (6/27), Wall Street Journal (6/27, Korn, Subscription Publication), Reuters (6/27, Carew), and NJ News (6/27).
Baylor University Creates Panel To Access Statues, Buildings’ Connections To Region’s Racist Past
The AP (6/26) reported Baylor University regents are “creating a panel to consider whether any statues, buildings or other tangible tributes on the Waco campus reflect a racist past.” The regents adopted a resolution Thursday that “recognizes that most of the university’s founding fathers were slaveholders, racists and white supremacists when the school was founded in 1845. Those persons included Judge R.E.B. Baylor himself, as well as the Rev. James Huckins, the Rev. William M. Tryon, most members of its initial board of trustees, and several early leaders of the institution.”
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Research and Development
NASA Astronauts Complete Spacewalk Outside ISS
SPACE (6/26, Howell) reported that on Friday, NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken completed a spacewalk outside the ISS that lasted for 6 hours and 7 minutes. The walk concluded at 1:39 p.m. EDT, after the astronauts successfully “swapped out three aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two more efficient lithium-ion batteries” in the “first of four excursions to upgrade” the ISS’ solar arrays. Cassidy and Behnken “finished the work so quickly that in their fifth hour, they started get-ahead tasks for their next spacewalk, planned for Wednesday (July 1), which will include another set of battery replacements.”
CNN (6/26, Strickland) reported that “these spacewalks are the culmination of a series of power upgrades that began in January 2017 to replace nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium ion batteries. The new batteries arrived last month on a Japanese cargo ship.” The battery replacements, “which will have a 20-year lifetime, will put the station in a much better configuration for the long term, said Kenneth Todd, deputy International Space Station program manager, during a NASA press conference on Wednesday.”
The AP (6/26, Dunn) reported that during the walk, Cassidy lost “a small mirror on his sleeve as soon as he emerged from” the ISS. Cassidy “said the mirror quickly floated away. The lost item posed no risk to either the spacewalk or the station, according to NASA.”
Boeing Working On Update To Remote Vision System For KC-46
Aviation Today (6/26, Wolfe) reported that Boeing “has outlined a number of fixes for its Remote Vision System (RVS), which allows air refueling operator station (AROS) personnel in the front of KC-46A aircraft to steer refueling booms using Collins Aerospace cameras on the fuselage.” The “cameras have faced problems with sunlight glare and providing correct depth perception for accurate boom placement in refueling receptacles.” Boeing is working with Collins Aerospace to address these issue in the RVS 2.0 upgrade. A Boeing representative said, “The initial phase of RVS enhancements includes upgrades to the existing cameras to provide improved video imagery. ... It also adds a new LIDAR sensor that provides information about the distance between the boom and the receiver aircraft.” Boeing “said that a second phase of upgrades will incorporate technological advancements for the entire RVS system.”
Universities Using Recently Received Federal Grant To Build Research, Education Program In Louisiana
The AP (6/27) reported new materials are “needed to produce metal and plastic products with fewer defects and longer life.” Thus, five universities in Louisiana have a “$20 million federal grant to design complex alloys and polymers for 3D printing and to build a sustainable research and education program in Louisiana.” The new Louisiana Material Design Alliance includes “Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech, Tulane University, Southern University and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.”
Arianespace Scheduled To Launch Vega Rocket Monday
SPACE (6/28, Howell) reports that on Monday, Arianespace plans to launch its Vega rocket from Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana at 9:51 p.m. EDT. The rocket will carry 53 satellites from 13 nations, and for 21 different customers. The launch “will be the first flight of a Vega rocket since a launch failure” on July 10, 2019. Monday’s launch was scheduled to take place on June 18, and then on June 27, but both of those scheduled launches were canceled due to weather.
Northrop Grumman Awarded $222.5 Million Contract For Update Of Defense Support Program Satellites
Space News (6/27, Subscription Publication) reported that Northrop Grumman “has been awarded a $222.5 million contract for technology upgrades to the Defense Support Program, a constellation of early warning satellites that has been in operation since the 1970s.” The contract “announced on June 26 by the Space and Missile Systems Center would add another decade of service life to the DSP constellation. Northrop Grumman will provide technical and engineering support until 2030.” The satellites “detect ballistic missile launches and nuclear detonations using infrared detectors that sense the heat from missile plumes against the earth background.”
Ford Partners With New Lab To Address Complex Transportation Problems
dbusiness (MI) (6/25, King) reports that on Thursday, Ford Motor Co. “announced a collaboration with New Lab, a co-working platform where tenants work on ‘frontier technology,’ to address complex transportation problems related to connectivity, autonomy, and electrification at the automaker’s emerging mobility campus in Detroit’s Corktown district.” According to the Ford Authority (6/25), “Ford Michigan Central and Newlab will launch two new studios focused on mobility that will ultimately live within the district.” The first “corporate studio sponsored by Ford will kick off this summer to address macro mobility issues.” The second studio “will follow, focusing on more immediate mobility issues in the neighborhoods around Michigan Central Station.” The Ford Authority adds that “in establishing these mobility innovation studios for Michigan Central, Newlab will work together with the existing community of accelerators and incubators in Detroit and Michigan, attracting talent and capital from outside the region and supporting homegrown companies and entrepreneurs.”
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Engineering and Public Policy
Commerce Department: Consumer Spending Rose By The Most On Record In May
Reuters (6/26, Mutikani) reports U.S. consumer spending in May “rebounded by the most on record.” The Commerce Department “said consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, jumped 8.2% last month,” after having “tumbled by a historic 12.6% in April.” However, according to Reuters, “the gains are not likely to be sustainable, with income dropping and expected to decline further as millions lose their unemployment checks starting next month.” Reuters adds that “the surge in spending reported by the Commerce Department on Friday is also under threat from a jump in coronavirus cases in many parts of the country, including densely populated California, Texas and Florida.”
The Washington Post (6/26, Denham) similarly reported that May’s increase in spending “comes despite a 4.2 percent drop in personal income, which the Commerce Department report says reflects a decrease in government social benefits and economic recovery program funds for individuals in response to the covid-19 pandemic. The $1,200 stimulus checks have been spent, and some experts, like economist Chris Rupkey, expect more job losses to come.”
The Wall Street Journal (6/26, Mitchell, Subscription Publication) provided similar coverage.
Consumer Sentiment Stalled In Southern States Facing Increased Coronavirus Cases
Reuters (6/26, Mutikani) reported the University of Michigan “said on Friday its measure of consumer sentiment rose only 0.5 point among residents in the South in June,” which comes as “southern states, including Texas, South Carolina and Florida, which had reopened by mid-May, are reporting a surge in cases of the respiratory illness.” According to Reuters, “In the West, where coronavirus infections have also jumped despite early adoption of stringent measures to slow the spread of the disease, consumer sentiment increased 3.3 points in June. In contrast, sentiment among residents in the Northeast soared by a record 19.1 points this month.” Reuters added the University of Michigan’s survey “also found that consumers’ confidence in government economic policies dropped in June to its lowest since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.”
Four Automakers Request Permission To Voice Views In Court Challenge To Trump Fuel-Economy Rules
Reuters (6/26, Shepardson) reported Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, and BMW “will not take a position on legal challenges to the Trump administration’s decision to dramatically weaken Obama-era fuel economy standards but want to weigh in on any court fix.” The automakers will request a federal appellate court in Washington hear their views on the matter of requiring a 1.5-percent annual increase in fuel efficiency through 2026, as opposed to the Obama administration’s proposed five-percent annual increase. While those four automakers have declined to take a position on the new CAFE and tailpipe emissions standards, “Other major automakers like General Motors Co, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Toyota Motor Corp have sided with the Trump administration on the rollback.”
Amazon Awards Houston-Area High School Seniors $40,000 In Scholarships As Part Of Its Future Engineer Program
The Houston Chronicle (6/26) reported Amazon has “awarded three Houston-area high school seniors $40,000 scholarships as part of the online retail giant’s Future Engineer program, which focuses on computer science students in underserved communities.” The winners also will be “offered a paid internship with Amazon after they complete their first year of college.” Notably, the students were “selected after responding to a series of questions and letters of recommendations from teachers.”
Friday's Lead Stories
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