Heroes

On his 4th trip to space, he'll be doing something no American has ever done before.

Astronaut Scott Kelly gives us a tour of his rocket. He also shows us how to use a fancy stick to push the buttons.

On March 27, 2015, Scott Kelly will be leaving Earth for space.

He'll be doing something no American has ever done before: living in space for almost a full year.


He'll be joined by Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.

They're going to be running experiments that will help NASA—and, therefore, humankind—figure out how we might make it to Mars.


The rocket taking them to the space station isn't too roomy.

I can just see the Craigslist post now: "Cozy one-bedroom, all new appliances, great for sharing. One-year lease required."

The rocket is actually called a Soyuz capsule.

And, it's not all fun and astronaut ice cream in the Soyuz capsule.


For example, because the buttons are so far out of reach during blastoff, a lot of astronauts use a high-tech device to push them.

That high tech device is called a stick. Not even a space stick. Just a stick.

Unbelievable, but true. Unless Scott is playing one last Earth prank on us?

And in that tiny spacecraft, with their "fancy" stick, they fly in circles, not straight lines, to get to the space station.

Maybe, like me, you once imagined that the rocket zooms straight up off the ground and just goes direct as an arrow to the space station?

Nope. It's actually a lot more like looking for parking downtown in a busy city: You circle and circle, making wider and wider loops.

Astronauts literally make a U-turn in the middle of space, then slam on the brakes, and try to glide gently into contact with the space station.

It's called "orbital mechanics," baby.

Then, they have to park their spaceship on another moving spaceship.

At 17,000 miles an hour. No big deal.

¯\\_(ツ)_/¯

They're doing this so that one day we'll get to live on Mars.

"You know NASA's ultimate goal is one day to put people on Mars, so there's a lot we still need to learn about that. Some of it has to do with, you know, how the space environment affects the human body over long periods of time, particularly with regards to bone loss, muscle loss, effects of radiation on our genetics, our vision. We have problems with vision with crew members during long duration space flight. Our immune system, vestibular system. So that's kind of the human part of it, and there's also the hardware part of it, you know, traveling that far away from Earth represents a challenge with regards to how we design our life support systems, how we produce oxygen, produce water, and you know, those kinds of things." — Scott Kelly

That's what makes a year in space worth missing 365 hot showers, 52 pancake breakfasts, and probably the next season of "House of Cards."

Scott's been making longer and longer voyages in space, to practice and research what spending extended time in space is like. (Mars is real far away!)


On prior missions, he's already spent almost 200 days in space. But every day he spends up there, learning and collecting data, is one day closer to the day we land on Mars.

Scott recently gave a tour of his model rocket to a YouTuber named Destin and showed him about all the incredibly challenging things astronauts do while terrifyingly hurtling through space. You can see the whole shebang in the video below. (They also talk about underwear.)

Here's wishing Scott and his team a safe, scientifically-fruitful, and wondrous year in space!

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

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Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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