|Good morning || March 20, 2020|
Leading the News
NASA Announces Plan For Crewed Flight Of SpaceX Crew Dragon To ISS In May
Space News (3/19, Foust, Subscription Publication) reports that on March 18, NASA “announced it plans to perform a crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, with two NASA astronauts on board, as soon as the latter half of May.” In a “media advisory, NASA said the launch of the Demo-2 mission was scheduled for no earlier than mid-to-late May on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. While that date is subject to change, the fact that NASA is starting the media accreditation process indicates some degree of confidence in that timeframe.” NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley “will fly the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS, remaining there for at least several days before returning to Earth.” Challenges for the success of the mission and its timely departure include the failure of one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 engines on March 18 – “a problem that appeared to lead to the failure of the booster to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean” – and the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on NASA operations.
Florida Today (3/19, Kelly) reports that “if all goes well with Crew Dragon’s launch in May – technically its last test mission – it will pave the way for full, certified flights of the capsule to the space station.” To “return crews to the ISS on American hardware, NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing under multibillion-dollar contracts.” The “astronauts are required aboard the...ISS for a variety of reasons, ranging from maintaining its day-to-day operations to conducting scientific experiments that fly on different spacecraft.”
American Universities Differ On Offering Tuition, Housing Refunds
The Wall Street Journal (3/19, Korn, Belkin, Subscription Publication) reports college students across the nation are grappling with a new set of financial frustrations as they unexpectedly move out of dorms and transition to online classes. Many were hoping to receive partial housing refunds or reduced tuition rates. Universities are offering varied responses.
Indeed, “many assume all universities can, and should, provide students with a refund,” Dr. Kent Ingle says in commentary published by Fox Business (3/18, Ingle). But as “president of Southeastern University, a private institution, I can tell you providing refunds is not a black and white issue.” According to Ingle, “prorating room and board fees will be a challenge for many institutions, as those are attached to fixed costs that the school still has to pay regardless of whether there are students on campus or not.” The Boston Business Journal (3/19, Subscription Publication) and the Triangle (NC) Business Journal (3/19, Subscription Publication) provide additional coverage.
New Research Paper Likely To Spur Debate Over Value Of Standardized Tests In Predicting College Performance
The Los Angeles Times (3/19, Watanabe) reports that as “University of California regents prepare to discuss Thursday whether to drop SAT and ACT test scores as an admission requirement, a new research paper is likely to deepen the sharp disagreement over the value of standardized tests in predicting college performance.” The new analysis by a senior associate at the UC Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education “strongly rejects a key conclusion of a highly anticipated report by a UC Academic Senate task force.” Its preliminary findings “concluded that the tests may actually help boost enrollment of disadvantaged students and better predict college performance than high school grades.” But opponents of the tests say they “unfairly discriminate on the basis of race, income and parent education levels.”
Dozens Of Four-Year Universities Decide To Expand Pass/Fail Options For Students Due To Coronavirus Crisis
Inside Higher Ed (3/19) reports “more than a dozen four-year universities have decided to expand pass/fail options for students due to” the coronavirus crisis. “We expect that this strategy will ease the necessary transitions into remote course delivery and promote strong engagement,” Duke University explained via email. In “some cases students have advocated for the change. Online petitions asking for shifting university grading structures are plentiful.”
Dorms Would Most Likely Not Be Hospitals’ First Choice For Housing People With COVID-19 Infections, Expert Says
In continuing coverage, the Chronicle of Higher Education (3/19) reports that in the “midst of an unprecedented pandemic, Tufts University, Middlebury College, and New York University are considering how to donate their dorms and other buildings to local hospitals in case of a surge in patients.” With that said, “dorms would most likely not be the first – or second, or third – choice for people with confirmed infections,” according to Terri Rebmann, director of the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis University. Dorms “can’t easily be set up to provide intensive care,” they often “don’t have spacious-enough hallways for workers to roll in large equipment,” and if a college has “allowed some students to remain in on-campus housing, there’s a risk they’d be exposed to the virus.”
Commentary: Higher Education Should Pay More Attention, Offer Systematic Support To Vulnerable International Students
In a piece published by Inside Higher Ed (3/19), an international enrollment director at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs says institutions in the US are “quickly reacting to how the outbreak might impact their domestic students who are studying abroad.” But Ruby Cheng is “extremely disappointed at the level of attention that has been paid to international students throughout this crisis.” Indeed, they are “providing specialized supports for international applicants to encourage them to apply.” But, argues Cheng, it is “simply not enough to encourage new international students to enroll at our institutions. We must offer comprehensive support to those who are already with us.”
ASEE's Online Collaboration Forum During Virus Crisis
ASEE has created Facebook groups for collaboration during this unique period. Join the Collaborative Discussion Forum, the P12 Instructors and Parents Forum, the Online Teaching Repository, and the Research Operations Repository.
Webinar – Storytelling to Advance Research and Teaching
April 9 at 1 PM, ET: What’s your story? Tune in for a free webinar to learn how storytelling techniques can be used to propel your research and teaching, helping you communicate research impacts, write proposals, share best teaching practices, and teach difficult concepts. Register today at http://bit.ly/3c99jba
Webinar – Training Tomorrow’s Engineers to Combat Climate Change
April 15 at 1 PM, ET: In support of Earth Day 2020, tune in for a new webinar and learn how two NSF-funded projects, RISE-UP and ReNUWIt, are training tomorrow’s engineers to build resilience and combat the effects of climate change through robust interdisciplinary initiatives. Register today: http://bit.ly/2Tlt4F9
Research and Development
FAA Issues Order For Boeing To Fix Computer Issue Within 15 Days
FlightGlobal (3/19, Hemmerdinger) reports that the FAA “has issued an airworthiness directive to address a computer issue that could lead to incorrect flight data being displayed in Boeing 787 cockpits,” which applies to 787-8s, 787-9s and 787-10s. The “order responds to a report that the 787’s ‘common core system’ can experience data monitoring problems after the system has been continuously powered for 51 days.” Data “monitoring problems can cause issues with the 787’s ‘common data network,’ which handles all the flight-critical data, including airspeed, altitude, attitude and engine operation, says the FAA’s order.” Consequences “can include display in the cockpit of ‘misleading’ attitude, altitude, airspeed and engine operation data, says the FAA, or the aircraft could lose stall and overspeed warnings.” The order “requires airlines, within 15 days of 20 March, to complete actions detailed in a February service bulletin issued by Boeing to address the issue.”
NASA Moves New Orleans, Mississippi Facilities To Stage Four Of Coronavirus Outbreak Response, Halting SLS Testing
Space News (3/19, Foust, Subscription Publication) reports that on March 19, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine “announced that the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi will move to ‘Stage 4’ of its response framework for the coronavirus disease COVID-19.” This decision will halt “preparations for a major test of the” Space Launch System (SLS). All work “at a center effectively ends at Stage 4,” including work by mission-essential personnel. The “elevation of Michoud and Stennis to Stage 4 will strongly affect work on the Space Launch System and, to a lesser extent, the Orion spacecraft. The core stage for the first SLS mission was recently completed at Michoud, after extensive delays, and shipped to Stennis for testing leading up to a ‘Green Run’ static-fire test later this summer.” The move “will delay SLS testing at Stennis for an unknown period.”
Spaceflight Now (3/20, Clark) reports that Bridenstine said, “The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team.” Bridenstine added, “NASA will temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware.” Meanwhile, NASA officials “said Thursday they are making plans to try and keep the agency’s next Mars rover and the multibillion-dollar James Webb Space Telescope on schedule for launches in later this year and in 2021.”
NASA Asks Public For Sensor Designs For Venus Rover
SPACE (3/19, Howell) reports that NASA is asking for public help in designing a sensor for a Venus rover. The “early-stage conceptual vehicle,” called the Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) “will use wind power to spend several months carefully crawling Venus’ surface. The vehicle requires the sensor to navigate obstacles in its environment, such as rocks and steep terrain.” Several “prizes will be awarded for sensor concepts; the device must be able to withstand the extreme temperatures and pressures of the surface. One common problem, NASA said, is that state-of-the-art electronics fail at just over 250 F (120 C).”
Boeing Considering Temporary Work Stoppage
Reuters (3/19, Johnson) reports that The Boeing Company “is leaning toward a temporary work stoppage at its twin-aisle jetliner factories due to the spread of coronavirus, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.” Boeing “would use a stoppage of a few days to conduct a deep clean of its Washington state and South Carolina twin-aisle factories, but seems broadly committed for now to keeping production lines running after the suspension, the people said.” Boeing “has some 14 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday, many reported at its Everett hub north of Seattle.”
No Guests Will Be Allowed For April 9 Launch In Kazakhstan Due To Coronavirus Outbreak
The AP (3/19, Dunn) reports that NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy “said Thursday that he won’t have any guests at his April 9 launch from Kazakhstan,” including his family, due to the coronavirus outbreak. Cassidy, along with his crew mates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, will leave for the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, where the three will be isolated “in a special hotel for astronauts, as is customary.” Cassidy said of the restrictions on guests to the launch, “It really is going to be strange.” He added, “The things that are stressing the rest of the world and the rest of America, are the same things that are stressing me right now.”
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Analysts Expect Slow Recovery For Airline Industry Once Coronavirus Outbreak Is Contained
Aerospace America (3/19, Hofacker) reports that aerospace-focused consultancy Brian Foley Associates Founder Brian Foley said, “it’s not going to be a rapid bounce back” for the airline industry once the coronavirus outbreak is contained. Foley said, “There won’t be a rush back [to the airlines] to go on vacation” by consumers once travel restrictions are lifted. Foley added, “It’s going to be a month-by-month thing as people get comfortable getting up in the air again.” In “the short term, he said, U.S. government aid is the most crucial factor.” On Tuesday, the Department of the Treasury “proposed a $1 trillion stimulus package that includes $50 billion in loans for passenger and cargo carriers.” Mike Boyd, president of the aviation consulting group Boyd Group International, said regarding the conditions of government aid, “There’s going to have to be those kinds of offers made, some strict use of this money.” Boyd added, “The airline industry needs to be proactive in saying ‘this is what we’re going to do.’” He predicted, “If we get a handle on the virus and find out that it’s either abating or it’s not as severe as we thought it was, overall, I think it’s going to get better” for the airline industry.
Engineering and Public Policy
Senate Republicans’ Proposal Would Provide Loans To Airlines
Reuters (3/19, Shepardson, Shepardson, Shalal) reports that a Republican “proposal introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday would grant up to $58 billion in secured loans to help passenger and cargo airlines hit by the coronavirus crisis, but bar cash grants and could result in the government getting equity stakes.” Under the proposal, the Department of the Treasury “could receive warrants, stock options, or stock as a condition of government assistance in order for the government to participate in gains and be compensated for risks.” Airlines would also be forbidden from “increasing compensation for, or provide golden parachutes to, executives for two years and airlines would be required to maintain some services.” The proposal “would suspend some aviation taxes.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “the airline industry just spent billions and billions in stock buybacks in the last two years – liquidity that would come in handy at a time like this.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “We’re not talking about so-called bailouts for firms that made reckless decisions. We’re not talking about a taxpayer-funded cushion for companies that made mistakes. We’re talking about loans which must be repaid.”
Bloomberg (3/19) reports that a proposal from Senate Republicans would provide $58 billion in loans and loan guarantees for airlines, with passenger airlines receiving $50 billion and cargo airlines receiving $8 billion. While the dollar figure is the amount requested by Airlines for America, A4A was seeking half of the $58 billion in loans. A4A said, “Loans alone are not sufficient and should be coupled with a worker payroll assistance program and targeted tax relief.” The group said its approach would “allow airlines to keep operating through this crisis and protect the 750,000 jobs of hard-working individuals who are directly employed by the industry.” The Secretary of Transportation “would be authorized in the legislation to ensure that airlines continue to make flights that were scheduled as of March 1.”
CNBC (3/19, Hirsch) reports that Trump said he would support the government taking stake in some companies that were supported by the bailouts. However, “he would not say specifically which companies he would want the government to take a stake in, but did expand on the kinds of companies in which the move might make sense.” Trump said, “People are coming in for money, in some cases through no fault of their own, but in some cases, where they did certain things over the course of the years, including buying back stock.”
UAS Service Suppliers Submit Comments To FAA On Its Remote Identification Approach
Aviation Today (3/19) reports that the FAA “is working through more than 53,000 comments on its proposed approach to remote identification for remote aircraft and hopes to issue a final ruling before the end of the year, according to FAA administrator Stephen Dickson — although that timeline will likely be affected by the global coronavirus outbreak.” Remote ID “will play a vital role in identifying and grounding unauthorized unmanned aircraft flights in restricted areas, but many details are yet to be decided, and the FAA’s current timeline for implementation – expected to be 3-5 years – frustrates many in industry and government.”
NASA Offers Parents-Turned Teachers STEAM Content
Fox News (3/19, Diaz) reports the NASA-funded “Space Racers” series, which includes videos, hands-on activities and curriculums for parents-turned-teachers, “is now being made available for free in its entirety to help children and parents stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Parents can long on to SpaceRacers.com, where “you can choose from a variety of games to let children play, activities to do together away from the screen, and even educational curriculums chock-full of STEAM-focused content (science, tech, engineering, art and math).”
Also in the News
Experts Say Coronavirus Pandemic Will Only Temporarily Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Los Angeles Times (3/19, Barboza) reports the global coronavirus pandemic “is certain to shrink greenhouse gas emissions this year, according to climate scientists.” However, experts say history suggests that the emissions decrease will only be temporary. Scientists and environmentalists also “worry the pandemic will at the same time undermine government and industry’s resolve to cut emissions in the long term.” The Times says “a look back over the decades shows a steady rise in greenhouse gases punctuated by temporary dips caused by economic downturns, including the 2008 global financial crisis and the oil shocks of the 1970s.”
Thursday's Lead Stories
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