Mostly Good News for SpaceX, Great News for NASA, and Bad News for Warming Deniers | Vol. 4 / No. 11

SOON. | Photo: SpaceX, CC0

This week’s top stories are the trials and tribulations of SpaceX and Roscosmos, the first black American assigned to an ISS crew mission, and yet another shovel of dirt on the coffin of the global warming “hiatus.” Come take a look!

Space is Hard

SpaceX got some great news this week with the official FAA signoff on its investigation into the September 1 destruction of a Falcon 9 rocket during its static fire test. There are a number of things that could have caused the “fast fire” that destroyed the rocket and its cargo four months ago, but all of them are related to the “buckling” of the composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) otherwise known as the helium tank, during fueling. It looks as though the temperatures were just too low and some possibly solid oxygen found its way into the “buckles” where the added pressure and stress seems to have caused friction, sparks, and ignition. They’ll be loading up with slightly-less-cold helium in the short term, and redesigning the COPVs in the longer term. Unfortunately, they won’t be launching until Saturday at the earliest — but for more mundane reasons. It turns out that California is getting a wee bit of rain this week (read: atmospheric rivers) and as such they’ve had to push back until NET January 14.

And SpaceX aren’t the only ones having issues. Turns out that the cause of the destruction of the Russian Progress cargo module at the start of December is still unknown, meaning that they aren’t cleared to launch any new astronauts to the ISS. Which is awkward, when they’re the only ones capable right now. Roll on, Crew Dragon!



Dr. Jeanette Epps, NASA astronaut | Photo: NASA

ISS Expedition 56

This week NASA announced two new International Space Station astronauts, and the one that really caught my eye is Dr. Jeanette Epps. Epps will be a first-time astronaut when she flies to the ISS in May of 2018. She’ll then serve as a flight engineer for Expeditions 56 and 57, returning to Earth in November 2018 (possibly aboard a Crew Dragon!). Epps will also be the first black crew member of the International Space Station. Now, just for clarity’s sake, she isn’t going to be the first black person aboard the ISS — there’s a long and distinguished list of black Americans who helped to build the ISS in a number of space shuttle missions. But Epps is going to be the first crew member, and that’s something awesome. Now if only it didn’t leave me wondering what took so long. You can read the NASA press release here, and learn more about Epps herself here (and you can follow her on twitter @Astro_Jeanette!).



Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

The Global Warming “Hiatus” Never Happened

Look, guys, just so we’re clear, I don’t even think we should be talking about this. Anthropogenic Climate Change is real, it’s happening, it’s not slowing down or plateauing or stopping, and nobody who understands how science works thinks otherwise. It’s fact. But just so we’re clear, a new study has come out reminding us, once again, that this is true. That so-called global warming “hiatus” didn’t happen. I’m not going to go into too much detail, because Phil Plait literally says it better every time, but you can check out the actual study itself here, and definitely, definitely read Phil Plait’s post on it here. Let’s put this one to bed, and get to work actually fixing the problem, yeah?



It’s been another week, so here’s another five posts you might have missed!

If you missed any of that, well, get on it!


Best of the Rest

And as ever, there’s too much for us to cover in one week, so here’s a list of things we might’ve covered (but didn’t!)

And lest but not least, Sanrio — makers of Hello Kitty — have introduced a new character, who is likely to become the spirit animal of my generation. Aggretsuko is a red panda who, by day, works with a pack of morons in cubicle hell, and by night, drinks heavily and does screamo karaoke so that the bodies don’t start piling up. We feel you, Aggretsuko. We feel you.


That’s all for today folks, thanks for reading! Except for the very *very* occasional tip (we take Venmo now!), we only get paid in my own (and your) enthusiasm, so please like This Week In Tomorrow on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @TWITomorrow, and tell your friends about the site!

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Richard Ford Burley is a human, writer, and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as Deputy Managing Editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.