In less than 10 years, the International Space Station—the site of many an interstellar marvel—will become a relic in Earthling’s minds, vanishing like it never existed. NASA plans to decommission the orbital outpost at the end of 2030 and actualize the ISS’s retirement by crashing it into the Pacific Ocean in January 2031.
The space station, which made its maiden launch in 1998 and was first occupied by humans in 2000, is destined to make its descent home alone—with no humans on board—before sharply plunging into a very remote area often dubbed the “spacecraft cemetery,” reports Gizmodo.
Point Nemo, as the crash zone is called, is 1,670 miles away from the closest inhabited area.
Although a 2030 date is expected, Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, warns the news outlet that this deadline could arrive earlier, since NASA hasn’t disclosed if partnering space forces, like the one in Russia, would agree to back the ISS through 2030.
Be that as it may, with the outpost’s retirement, NASA will hand over the keys of space exploration efforts to a private sector, whose activities will continue to be supported by the space agency.
“The private sector is technically and financially capable of developing and operating commercial low-Earth orbit destinations, with NASA’s assistance,” explains Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters. Combined with the resources of private entities, NASA will continue “sharing our lessons learned and operations experience… to help them develop safe, reliable, and cost-effective destinations in space.”
The ISS was, in actual fact, scheduled to retire in 2024, but the Biden-Harris administration quietly prolonged its operations to last through 2030. It is believed that this will be the last extension.
As it approaches its last legs, the ISS is reported by NASA to be “busier than ever” and entering its “most productive decade,” as well as paving way for more diversity in space exploration roles.
“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, and researchers,” notes the space agency. “It is thus crucial to our nation and NASA’s efforts to maintain the interest and curiosity of today’s students so they continue to be inspired by and participate in the wide scope of space exploration roles.”
John Oliver discusses the large and diverse group of people who fall under the term “Asian American”, the history of the model minority stereotype, and why our conversations on the subject need to be better-informed.
When one thinks of the transcontinental railroad, rarely do Chinese migrants come to mind. But in a new exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, a vital revision is presented.
But this exhibition takes a different tack, tracing the forgotten Chinese workers who built the western leg of the railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountains, connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad in 1869.
“Historians have always known and written about the Chinese workers, but it’s forgotten by society,” said Peter Liebhold, who co-curated the exhibit with Sam Vong. “We’ve forgotten the contribution of these workers, and in fact, we forget the contribution of all workers. We tend to focus on the achievement of the few and not the stories of the average everyday person.”
Ittells the story of Chinese workers through old maps, detailing where they worked, their labor materials – from conical hats to miner’s picks – and photos, showing the tents they lived in, their working conditions and their nomadic lifestyle.
“The artifacts on view are meant to help visitors understand how forgotten workers had to endure hazardous, unfair conditions, in addition to backbreaking labor,” said Leibhold. “The 150th anniversary is not just about completing a railroad, but the workers involved.”
Chinese workers made up most of the workforce between roughly 700 miles of train tracks between Sacramento, California, and Promontory, Utah. During the 19th century, more than 2.5 million Chinese citizens left their country and were hired in 1864 after a labor shortage threatened the railroad’s completion.
The work was tiresome, as the railroad was built entirely by manual laborers who used to shovel 20 pounds of rock over 400 times a day. They had to face dangerous work conditions – accidental explosions, snow and rock avalanches, which killed hundreds of workers, not to mention frigid weather.
“All workers on the railroad were ‘other’,” said Liebhold. “On the west, there were Chinese workers, out east were Irish and Mormon workers were in the center. All these groups are outside the classical American mainstream.”
The exhibition features a century-old pair of chopsticks, as well as canisters for tea and soy sauce. The railroad company provided room and board to white workers, but Chinese workers had to find their own meals, which were often brought to them from local merchants.
There are also miner’s picks and shovels, conical hats, as well as photos of the camp sites where the workers lived in Nevada in 1869. There are photos, as well, of the Native Americans, many of whom protested against the building of the railway in 1869, which displaced the Lakota, Shoshone, Cheyenne and other communities.
The Chinese workers were educated and organized; 3,000 laborers went on strike in 1867 to demand equal wages, as the white workers were paid double.
“They were unsuccessful because they were out in the middle of nowhere,” said Liebhold. “The railroad stopped them from getting food. That’s one way it failed.”
One telling photo on view is a shot of the Union Pacific board members sitting in a business class train car from 1869. By paying laborers a low wage, they were able to skim millions from the construction and get rich.
“Building railroads is often profitable but operating them isn’t necessarily, if you look at the history of railroads in the US,” said Liebhold. “To totally condemn the businessmen is challenging because they took huge risks raising money to build a railroad that was astronomically difficult. Many people didn’t think it was possible.”
There is one photo from 1869 that shows how the company commemorated the last hammered spike to complete the railroad, however, only one Chinese worker is in the photo. Many of the actual workers were left out.
This story could still be one which resonates with today’s America. “There’s no question this is a story about migrant labor,” he said. “Chinese workers were not citizens, weren’t allowed to become citizens. From the 1850s to 1882, they were tolerated in the US, but not accepted as peers.
“Then, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred immigrants from coming into US, unless you were a diplomat or a businessperson,” said Liebhold. “You’re always welcome if you’re affluent, then you’re allowed to come in.”
On Tuesday, New Yorkers commuting through the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center subway station will find it transformed with vibrant portraits of Black, Asian and Pacific Islander people along with anti-discriminatory messages like “I did not make you sick” and “I am not your scapegoat.”
The series is the work of the neuroscientist turned artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (pronounced PING-bodee-bak-ee-ah). In August, Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya was named a New York City Public Artist in Residence through a program that has partnered artists with city agencies since 2015. She is one of two artists currently embedded with the city’s Commission on Human Rights, which invested $220,000 in this campaign.
Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya’s “I Still Believe in Our City” series was created as a response to a grim statistic. From February to September, the Commission received more than 566 reports of discrimination, harassment and bias related to Covid-19 — 184 of which were anti-Asian in nature. It’s a troubling spike not just appearing in New York, but in Asian-American communities across the country.
“My goal with this art series was to turn these hurts into something beautiful and powerful,” Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said in a phone interview. She added, “I really wanted to find a way to say, despite everything we have faced as Asian-Americans and New Yorkers, that I still believe in New York.”
From Nov. 3 to Dec. 2, the series of 45 pieces will be displayed in the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, a central hub that serves a diverse group of commuting New Yorkers. Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said that it was also the site of a reported, Covid-related bias incident in March, when a 26-year-old Asian-American man reported he was spat on.
A description of that incident has been included in one of the pieces, alongside portraits of Asians and flowers that Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said have symbolic meanings in Chinese and East Asian cultures. Other panels offer information and historical context about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and statistics about Asian-owned businesses.
Responding to what officials called increased acts of hate in recent years, most notably against Asian-Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County on Wednesday announced a campaign aimed at encouraging reporting of such incidents and responding to them.
The “L.A. vs Hate” campaign is a three-pronged effort that will include a marketing outreach campaign encouraging people to report acts of hate, improved resources for residents to report such acts through the county’s 211 hotline and a network of agencies to assist victims and develop prevention strategies.
“L.A. County is one of the most culturally diverse and vibrant communities in the world,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “Despite our diversity, these past few years have seen a steady rise in reported hate acts in our county. We also know that as a result of COVID-19, there has been an ugly backlash toward our Asian-Pacific Islander community. Spikes in calls to the 211 hotline reflect that racism.”
After widespread backlash from local Hawaiʻi residents, the alumni’s business idea, titled ‘The U Experience,’ will no longer come to fruition at either property.
Lane Russell ’18 and Adam Bragg ’16 started The U Experience in response to many colleges’ decisions to conduct fully virtual fall semesters. They planned to house about 150 college students, who would take classes online in a ‘bubble’ hotel, where they could “come to live out the college experience with total peace of mind,” according to the company’s website.
On the same day Russell appeared on CNN, a seven-member team of Hawaiʻi residents published a Change.org petition titled “Stop Bringing Nonresident Students to Hawaiʻi During a Pandemic,” which garnered over 11,000 signatures in just three days.
According to Lexi Figueroa, who helped write the petition, the authors also received an outpouring of support from non-residents, including University alumni, who expressed opposition to The U Experience, citing the “selfish, irresponsible, and disrespectful nature of this project.”
“We only have 340 ICU beds to service the entire population of Oʻahu,” the team behind the petition wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “A single outbreak in a The U Experience ‘bubble’ would deplete nearly half of our health resources.” In total, Oʻahu has a population of nearly one million.
On Aug. 11, the U Experience announced that it had suspended plans with Park Shore Waikīkī and Graduate Fayetteville — just four days after the Business Insider feature.
In their Aug. 11 update, The U Experience team maintained, “our goal is to disrupt education, not local communities.”
A new study from UCLA reports that since the start of the pandemic, 83 percent of the Asian American labor force with high school degrees or lower has filed unemployment insurance claims in California — the state with the highest population of Asian Americans — compared to 37 percent of the rest of the state’s labor force with the same level of education.
At the same time, new research shows that discrimination against Asian Americans is surging. More than 2,300 Asian Americans had reported bias incidents as of July 15, according to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, or A3PCON, which hosts the self-reporting tool Stop AAPI Hate.
The UCLA report, published last week, examined the impacts of the coronavirus on the Asian American labor force in California. It revealed that disadvantaged Asians working in service industries have been “severely impacted.”
Researcher Paul Ong, who worked on the report, said that beyond pervasive service industry struggles, he believes people are abandoning Asian establishments because of biases.
“This is why racializing COVID-19 as ‘the China virus’ has profound societal repercussions. We have seen this in the increase in verbal and physical attacks on Asians and in material ways in terms of joblessness and business failures,” he said in an interview.
The movement secured initial approval from two counties and aims to get enough signatures to put the proposal on ballots in November, according to the group called Greater Idaho.
If the group succeeds, voters in southeast Oregon may see a question on whether their county should become part of Idaho by redrawing the border.
“Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” Mike McCarter, one of the chief petitioners, said in a news release. “We tried voting those legislators out, but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored. This is our last resort.”