Crew of first private flight to ISS return to Earth

Crew of first private flight to ISS return to Earth
From left: Mark Pathy, Larry Connor, Michael Lopez-Alegria and Eytan Stibbe. (SpaceX Via AP)
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Updated 26 April 2022

Crew of first private flight to ISS return to Earth

Crew of first private flight to ISS return to Earth

AFP

WASHINGTON: Three wealthy businessmen and a former NASA astronaut splashed down Monday off the Florida coast after spending more than two weeks aboard the International Space Station, in a landmark mission for the commercial sector.
After a dizzying descent, a SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying the Axiom-1 gently floated down to the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville at 1:06 p.m. (1706 GMT) on four huge parachutes.
The spaceship was affectionately referred to as a “toasted marshmallow” because of the scorch marks on its heat shield from re-entering the atmosphere at 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour).
The crew was quickly retrieved by a waiting ship, marking the official end of the first fully private mission to the orbiting outpost — and a turning point in US space agency NASA’s goal to commercialize the region of space called low Earth orbit (LEO).
“We proved that we can prepare the crew in a way that makes them effective and productive on orbit, and we’re ready to go do it again,” Derek Hassmann, operations director of Axiom Space, told reporters on a press call.
Axiom Space paid SpaceX for transport services and NASA for use of the ISS, while charging the three tycoons a reported $55 million each for the privilege.
“Welcome home, Axiom-1!” tweeted NASA chief Bill Nelson. “#Ax1 and all of the progress we’ve seen in the commercial space sector wouldn’t be possible without NASA’s collaboration with private industry.”
NASA is increasingly looking to private industry to handle operations in LEO, leaving itself free to focus on exploration missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.
American real estate mogul Larry Connor, Canadian financier Mark Pathy, Israeli impact investor Eytan Stibbe and veteran Spanish-American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria had blasted off on April 8.
They were originally scheduled to spend only eight days on the space station but bad weather forced repeated delays.
In total, the crew spent 17 days in orbit, 15 of those on the ISS — but Hassmann said Axiom and its crew did not incur additional costs because of the delay.
Axiom had been keen to stress its mission shouldn’t be considered tourism, unlike the recent, attention-grabbing suborbital flights carried out by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.
On board the ISS, which orbits 250 miles (400 kilometers) above sea level, the quartet carried out research projects, including an MIT technology demonstration of smart tiles that form a robotic swarm and self-assemble into space architecture.
Another experiment involved using cancer stem cells to grow mini tumors, then leveraging the accelerated aging environment of microgravity to identify early changes in those tumors, to help improve screening methods.
Ahead of the voyage, some had questioned whether the Ax-1 mission might impact regular work on the ISS, currently crewed by three Americans, a German and three Russians.
“There were a lot of eyes on this mission just to see if it was practical,” said Hassmann, adding that, in the event, fears of disruption proved unfounded.
NASA has already given the green light to a second mission, Ax-2, with Hassmann telling reporters the crew would be revealed in the coming weeks, and the ship should fly around a year from now.
Monday’s sea landing of a crewed SpaceX Dragon capsule was the fifth to date.
SpaceX, owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, is now regularly ferrying NASA astronauts to and from the space station.
Last year, Musk’s company launched another entirely private mission, which orbited Earth for three days without linking up with the ISS.
Axiom sees its voyages as the first steps of a grander goal: to build its own private space station. The first module is due to launch in 2024.
The plan is for the station to initially be attached to the ISS, before eventually flying autonomously when the latter retires and is deorbited sometime after 2030.


Dubai’s Crown Prince meets delivery rider after goodness act goes viral

Dubai’s Crown Prince meets delivery rider after goodness act goes viral
Updated 1 min 32 sec ago

Dubai’s Crown Prince meets delivery rider after goodness act goes viral

Dubai’s Crown Prince meets delivery rider after goodness act goes viral

DUBAI: Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has met with delivery rider who went viral on social media after removing two concrete blocks from the road.
Abdul Ghafoor Abdul Hakeem gained widespread admiration across the UAE after a video captured him removing blocks from at a busy road intersection and placing them in a safe place before returning to his bike.
“An honor to meet you Abdul Ghafoor, a true example to be followed,” tweeted Sheikh Hamdan.


Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue
Updated 11 August 2022

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue
  • A team of 80 people tried to save the animal’s life by transporting the cetaceous into a refrigerated truck to the port in Ouistreham, in Normandy region.

PARIS: A beluga whale that became a French celebrity after a wrong turn took it up the Seine River had to be euthanized Wednesday after experiencing health complications during an urgent rescue operation, authorities said.
The sparkling white marine mammal appeared deep inside France last week, having accidentally veered off the normal ocean migration route that takes belugas to and from Arctic waters.
Fearing the malnourished creature would not survive in the Seine much longer, a wildlife conservation group and veterinarians planned to move the lost whale to a saltwater port in Normandy, from where they hoped to return it to the open sea.
A team of 80 people assembled to try to save the animal’s life, and it was successfully moved Tuesday night from a river lock in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris, into a refrigerated truck for the 60-kilometer (99-mile) journey to the port in Ouistreham.
But during the drive, the 4-meter-long (13-foot-long) whale started to breath with difficulty, according to Florence Ollivet Courtois, a French veterinarian who worked on the rescue operation.
“During the journey, the veterinarians confirmed a worsening of its state, notably in its respiratory activities, and at the same time noticed the animal was in pain, not breathing enough,” Courtois said.
“The suffering was obvious for the animal, so it was important to release its tension, and so we had to proceed to euthanize it,” she added.
Environmentalists had acknowledged the plan to move the beluga risked fatally stressing the mammal. But marine conservation group Sea Shepherd said that it couldn’t have survived much longer in the Seine’s fresh water.
The group and veterinarians noted the whale had responded to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins over the last few days, making them hopeful it would recover once it was back in a saltwater environment.
A necropsy is planned on the whale, which weighed about about 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).
Rescuers had hoped to spare the whale the fate of an orca that strayed into the Seine and died in May. In 2006, a bottlenose whale — nicknamed “Willy” — swam up the Thames River as far as London and died during a its attempted rescue.
Another complicating factor during the beluga’s rescue attempt was the extreme heat gripping France. Authorities tried to keep it cool and wet with soaked towels and moved it at nightfall when temperatures are at their lowest.
The sad end to a saga that gripped France in recent days came after experts determined the whale “was too weakened to be put back into water,” Guillaume Lericolais, the sub-prefect of France’s Calvados region, said.
Rescuers tried to feed the whale fish without success since Friday. Sea Shepherd France said veterinary exams after the beluga’s removal from the river showed it has no digestive activity.


Iraqi actress Enas Taleb, fat-shamed by The Economist, set to sue British magazine

Iraqi actress Enas Taleb, fat-shamed by The Economist, set to sue British magazine
Updated 10 August 2022

Iraqi actress Enas Taleb, fat-shamed by The Economist, set to sue British magazine

Iraqi actress Enas Taleb, fat-shamed by The Economist, set to sue British magazine
  • In July, the British publication used an image of the actress for an article titled ‘Why women are fatter than men in the Arab world’

LONDON: Iraqi actress and TV host Enas Taleb is suing The Economist for using her image in an article about the epidemic of obesity among women in the Arab world, according to Newlines Magazine.

In July, The Economist ran a feature titled “Why women are fatter than men in the Arab world,” in which it pointed blame at socioeconomics — on the grounds that the cheapest local foods are usually the unhealthiest — and pervasive social conservatism in the Arab region.

The British magazine chose an image of Taleb performing at Iraq’s annual Babylon Festival to go with the piece, portraying the actress as an example of such obesity, with a line in the last paragraph stating “Iraqis often cite Enas Taleb, an actress with ample curves (pictured), as the ideal of beauty.”

In an interview with Newlines Magazine, Taleb said she was preparing to sue the English publication.

“I have decided to take legal action against The Economist for their cover story. I am demanding compensation for the emotional, mental and social damage this incident has caused me. My legal team and I are arranging the next steps,” Taleb told Rasha Al-Aqeedi of Newslines Magazine.

“Audiences have loved me for many years. It was disappointing to see an international outlet label me as if all my accomplishments mean nothing. I am healthy and happy with the way I look, and to me that is all that matters,” she added.

The Economist did not respond to questions from Arab News.

The feature sparked outrage among Arab and non-Arab readers with some accusing the publication of double standards.

“In reaction to the piece in The Economist, some readers voiced their incredulity at what they described as a double standard in the conversation about women’s bodies in the West versus in ‘other” cultures,’” Al-Aqeedi wrote in her piece.

“Plus-size artists such as Lizzo and models like Ashley Graham are celebrated for their role in making the body-positive movement mainstream. It is difficult to find an example of an internationally respected publication that has held up a photo of a ‘fat’ Western woman as a means of shaming her,” she added.

The article was widely criticized across the Arab world for falling short in examining the factors that contribute to the obesity issue, where women in particular are affected.

Even though there seems to be a general consensus about the issue, the reality is more complex.

An outdated vision of Arab women being “mere sedentary housewives,” the rise of globalization, which brought significant lifestyle changes and rapid urbanization across the Arab region, and a general predilection for staying up late at night, are all considered contributing factors to the epidemic in the region, which The Economist failed to address.

Despite the magazine’s backhanded compliment to the Iraqi star, Taleb claims The Economist’s piece was an insult not just to her, but to all Arab women.


Was pineapple a topping too far for Domino’s in Italy?

Was pineapple a topping too far for Domino’s in Italy?
Updated 10 August 2022

Was pineapple a topping too far for Domino’s in Italy?

Was pineapple a topping too far for Domino’s in Italy?
  • The US restaurant chain has decided to take a bight of humble pie and withdraw from the birthplace of pizza

DUBAI: Mamma Mia! Did Domino’s go a topping too far when it started selling pineapple pizza pies in Italy?

Whatever the reason, the US restaurant chain has decided to take a bite of humble pie and withdraw from the birthplace of pizza.

The world’s largest pizza chain called it quits in Italy after closing the last of its 29 stores, only seven years since struggling – but failing – to win over the hearts and stomachs of locals with the American versions of the pie.

With an ambitious plan of distinguishing itself from local restaurants by providing a structured national delivery service, plus a promise to use purely Italian ingredients including “100% tomato sauce and mozzarella,” Domino’s strategy appears to have failed to satisfy the palates of Italians overly protective of their cherished national dish.

But notwithstanding the pineapple pizza, Domino’s pizza varieties suchas Mexican, cheeseburger, kickers BBQ and BBQ chicken failed to impress Italians who profess for their unending love for simple and traditional pizzas like margherita and marinara.

The American chain’s exit from Italy was met with derision on social media for even attempting to establish a foothold in the birthplace of pizza.

“Trying to open Dominos Pizza in Italy is like trying to sell snow in the North Pole,” one Twitter user said.

Domino’s ambitious expansion gameplan was seriously unhinged at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which practically shut dine-out businesses in all of Italy, and the scaling up of home deliveries by traditional pizza makers through third party services such as Deliveroo, Just Eat Takeaway.com or Glovo.

“We attribute the issue to the significantly increased level of competition in the food delivery market with both organized chains and ‘mom & pop’ (independent) restaurants delivering food, to service and restaurants reopening post pandemic and consumers out and about with revenge spending,” the company reported in its fourth-quarter 2021 results.

Franchise holder EPizza was earlier granted protection from its creditors for 90 days as part of its bankruptcy process it filed in April, but that protection ended last month.

The company had $10.8 million of debt at the end of 2020, according to the latest audited annual reports.


New Dubai Hindu temple goes digital with QR-coded bookings

New Dubai Hindu temple goes digital with QR-coded bookings
Updated 10 August 2022

New Dubai Hindu temple goes digital with QR-coded bookings

New Dubai Hindu temple goes digital with QR-coded bookings
  • The online booking system for visitors was launched with the aim to prevent crowding in the area and ensure the safety of visitors, officials said

DUBAI: A Hindu temple, set to open in Dubai later this year, will be accepting QR code-based appointment bookings for visitors, officials told national daily, Gulf News

The online booking system for visitors was launched with the aim to prevent crowding in the area and ensure the safety of visitors, officials said, adding that the temple accommodated about 1,000 people. 

“We will be opening the booking system through our existing website and a new app that will be launched by September 1,” temple trustee Raju Shroff told Gulf News. 

The temple – an extension of the Sindhi Guru Darbar temple in Bur Dubai – will open on Oct. 5, but bookings can be made starting from September. 

The 70,000-square-feet temple and community center is located in the Corridor of Tolerance in Jebel Ali that houses several churches and the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, the report added. 

Temple officials said it would be opening in two phases: the place of worship will open in October and the rest of the facilities will open by Jan. 14. 

The facilities include a 4,000 square-foot banquet hall, a multipurpose room, and a knowledge room. 

The knowledge room is open to interfaith leaders who want to organize on-site and online sessions, the officials added. The temple will also organize celebrations for Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Navratri after the official opening.