Remembering Robert Lawrence, The First African-American Astronaut
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On June 30, 1967, the U.S. Air Force selected the first African-American astronaut, Major Robert Lawrence, to train for a highly secretive mission to spy on the Soviet Union from space.

Lawrence, an accomplished jet pilot with a doctorate in physical chemistry, was selected for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program the day after he graduate from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot school in 1967. Publicly, the goal of the joint Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office project was to study whether crewed spaceflight could be useful for the military. Behind the scenes, however, MOL’s real goal was to keep an eye on the Soviet Union from low polar orbit.

From a series of small orbiting stations, two-man crews – composed entirely of Air Force officers – would spent 30 days at a time photographing Soviet operations around the world. Polar orbits are perfect for reconnaissance, because they can take advantage of the fact that the Earth rotates beneath the orbital path, giving a satellite the chance to view the entire planet at least once a day. A series of satellites, like those planned for MOL, would have even better coverage. The crews would launch and return to Earth in a modified version of the Gemini capsule that carried pairs of NASA astronauts into orbit in 1965 and 1966.

MOL astronauts trained to operate their orbital stations and take reconnaissance photographs, to work in pressure suits in case of an emergency in space, and to survive launch and re-entry in the cramped capsules. They practiced desert, jungle, and Arctic survival, but water survival was the most vital component of training. At the end of a mission, the capsule would splash down in the ocean, and the crew would have to survive at sea while they awaited pickup – which could take several days, according to astronaut Donald H. Peterson, who was part of the MOL program before transferring to NASA as a Space Shuttle astronaut.

The partially classified nature of the program meant that the Air Force announced its astronaut selections publicly, but the officers often travelled incognito for training. That presented some challenges when Lawrence’s status as the first African-American astronaut caught the attention of the public and the media.

“The rest of us were unknown, and we could travel on false I.D., and nobody knew – had any idea who I was. But they worried because the press learned to recognize [Lawrence]. In other words, they knew him on sight,” Peterson recalled in a 2002 NASA oral history interview. “And it becomes much harder to run a secret program when one of your guys is, a high interest to the media, and he really was for a while. He kind of shunned that, obviously to try to shut some of that down. We always worried that we’d show up at some place and somebody would recognize him and make a big to-do about it.” The Air Force and the NRO fully declassified the MOL program in 2015, releasing a massive archive of documents, video, and photos.

Lawrence was the perfect astronaut candidate. He’d been a cadet officer in the Air Force ROTC program during his undergraduate years at Bradley University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. At Ohio State University, he completed a doctorate in physical chemistry with a dissertation entitled The Mechanism of the Tritium Beta Ray Induced Exchange Reaction of Deuterium with Methane and Ethane in the Gas Phase. That made him the only MOL astronaut with a PhD.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Disabled people are ‘invisible by exclusion’ in politics, says Assemblymember running to be the first openly autistic member of Congress
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Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou

By , Business Insider

The halls of Congress have yet to see an openly autistic legislator, but New York Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou could change that.

Niou, who was diagnosed with autism at 22, said she was “surprised” to learn she could be the first openly autistic Congressmember but also said it showed a lack of representation of disabled communities in policy making.

“I think we hear a lot of the first and only sometimes,” Niou told Insider. “While it’s an amazing thing, I think that what’s more important is that there are people understanding that it’s also a really lonely thing. And I think that it really is important to have representation because you need that lens to talk about everything in policy.”

Niou, a progressive Democrat and Taiwanese immigrant who represents New York’s 65th district, announced her run for Congress this year in a high-profile race against Bill de Blasio and Rep. Mondaire Jones.

Niou’s diagnosis became well known after Refinery 29 published an article discussing it in 2020. After parents and kids reached out to her relating to her, she became aware of how talking openly about her autism helped to “drive away stigma.”

Among full-time politicians, disabled Americans are underrepresented. People with disabilities make up 6.3% of federal politicians, compared to 15.7% of all adults in America who are disabled, research from Rutgers shows.

“People with disabilities cannot achieve equality unless they are part of government decision-making,” said Lisa Schur in the 2019 Rutgers report.

The number of disabled Americans may have increased in the past two years. Estimates show that 1.2 million more people may have become disabled as a result of COVID-19.

Niou also said that she knows what it feels like to be shut out of the government process. In 2016, Niou became the first Asian to serve as Assemblymember in her district, a large Asian district that includes New York’s Chinatown.

Disabled people have been “invisible by exclusion from the policy-making process,” Niou said. Her disability status helps her bring perspective to a host of laws from transportation to housing, and she wants to make sure that neurodivergent people have more of a say in the legislative process.

“We’re not considering all the different diverse perspectives, especially when you’re talking about neurodivergent [issues] or when we’re talking about disability issues,” Niou said.

Disabled people are more likely to be incarcerated, are at a higher risk of homelessness, and more likely to face impoverishment.

Click here to read the full article on Business Insider.

NASA Invites Media to Launch of New Mega-Moon Rocket and Spacecraft
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Mega Moon Mission. An aerial view of Launch Complex 39B with Exploration Ground Systems’ mobile launcher for the Artemis 1 mission on the pad. The mobile launcher, atop crawler-transporter 2, made its final solo trek from the Vehicle Assembly Building on June 27, 2019, and arrived on the surface of pad B on June 28, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mobile launcher will remain at the pad over the summer, undergoing final testing and checkouts. Its next roll to the pad will be with the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft in preparation for the launch of Artemis 1.

By NASA

Media accreditation is now open for launch and prelaunch activities related to NASA’s Artemis I mission, the first mission in exploration systems built for crew that will travel around the Moon since Apollo. Approximately a week’s worth of events will lead up to the launch of the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, targeted for no earlier than March 2022 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The uncrewed Artemis I mission will launch from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39B and is the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Artemis deep space exploration systems. The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, the mission will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration and demonstrate NASA’s commitment and capability to establish a long-term presence at the Moon and beyond.

NASA will set an official target launch date after a successful wet dress rehearsal test – one of the final tests before launch involving fuel loaded into the rocket – currently planned for late February.

U.S. media must apply by 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, and international media without U.S. citizenship must apply by 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31. A copy of NASA’s media accreditation policy is online.

The agency continues to monitor developments related to the coronavirus pandemic, and Kennedy will grant access to only a limited number of media to protect the health and safety of media and employees. Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions at Kennedy, international media coming from overseas must follow quarantine requirements.

NASA will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s chief health and medical officer and will immediately communicate any updates that may affect media access for this launch.

Media who would like to bring large vehicles (satellite trucks, microwave trucks, etc.) or any manner of infrastructure (scaffolding, stages, etc.) must notify the Kennedy media team by filling out a forthcoming survey. The survey will be distributed to media once the accreditation window for this launch has closed.

All parties requesting to bring stages, scaffolding, or raised platforms will be required to submit plans, including access limitations/controls, height/width/length, configuration, capacity, and load ratings of the elevated structure and any training, inspection, or other pertinent requirements.

Click here to read the full article on NASA.

NASA Perseverance Rover Records First-Ever Sound of Wind on Mars
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The NASA Rover rests on the brown sands of Mars

By Natalie Colarossi

NASA’s Perseverance rover, which successfully landed on Mars on February 18, has obtained the first ever audio recording of wind on the red planet.

In a video shared by CBS news on Friday, NASA engineer Elizabeth Duffy describes the recording as “awesome,” and said the new audio will allow scientists to discover a “whole complete story of Mars.”

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Hearing the wind is just so awesome. When you think about it, we are hearing something that is so far away on another planet, and now we know what that wind actually sounds like,” Duffy told CBS News.

“It’s going to be able to tell us a whole complete story of Mars, which is what we’re after.”

Along with 25 onboard cameras, the rover also carries two microphones. Though one failed to work during the rover’s descent, the other captured the sounds of wind blowing past, as well as the noise of the spacecraft itself, CBS reported.

The audio tape was first released on February 22, and marks the first time noise has ever been recorded on another planet. NASA released two separate clips of the same recording, one that filters out the noise of Perseverance and one that includes it.

“I think of the microphones on the rover as adding another sense for us,” Duffy told CBS. “It just is going to give us this whole picture of what it’s like to be on Mars.”

Mission team members have said that they hope to hear many more sounds from Mars, including storms, falling rocks and the sound of the rover’s wheels as it moves across the planet’s surface.

“Imagine yourself sitting on the surface of Mars and listening to the surroundings,” Dave Gruel, lead engineer for the rover’s camera and microphone subsystem, said during a February 22 news briefing. “It’s cool. Really neat. Overwhelming, if you will.”

In addition to audio, the rover has captured some of the most stunning images of the planet to date.

Color photos have been captured using the rover’s Mastcam-Z camera system, which can zero in on the planet with extraordinary detail.

Images so far have shown the arid landscape of the rover’s landing site—the 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater. Researchers believe this area was once home to a river delta billions of years ago, making it a promising spot to search for signs of ancient microbial life.

The agency says the rover’s cameras can zoom in, focus, and take 3D pictures and video at high speed, enabling the detailed examination of distant objects.

Read the full article at Newsweek.

Jill Biden Pushes for Free Access to Community College, Training Programs: ‘We Have to Get This Done’
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jill biden up close photo wearing a white mask with flowers

Jill Biden is pushing free access to community college and training programs, saying the schools will be an important part of Biden administration efforts to rebuild the economy.

A longtime community college professor and advocate, the first lady said people struggling to get by during the coronavirus-induced economic slump need access to these schools.

“We have to get this done. And we have to do it now. That’s why we’re going to make sure that everyone has access to free community college and training programs,” Jill Biden said in taped remarks broadcast Tuesday during a virtual legislative summit hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees and the American Association of Community Colleges.

She was not more specific. As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden promised two years of community college or training “without debt.”

Similar proposals have been put forward in the past.

In 2015, President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden pushed a plan to provide two years of free community college, but the proposal languished in Congress.

Jill Biden indicated that the administration would revive the idea.

“We’re going to make sure students have the support they need to cross that finish line,” she said. “We’re going to invest in programs that prepare our workers for jobs of the future.”

Average annual tuition and fees at a community college cost $3,730 during the 2019-2020 academic year, compared to an average of $10,440 for in-state tuition and fees at a four-year public college, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

Jill Biden, who continues to teach — albeit virtually — and is the first first lady with a paying job outside of the White House, said community colleges are no longer America’s “best kept secret” as she has long been fond of saying.

“They are our most powerful engine of prosperity,” she said.

The first lady teased a future White House summit on community colleges. She gave no hints on when it would be held and her office did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment. She helped lead a White House community college summit during the Obama-Biden administration.

Read the original article at KTLA.
Keke Palmer Hosts ‘Our White House,’ Inauguration Day Program for Kids
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Keke Palmer wearing black upper body shot split image Capitol

By Kait Hanson for Today

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will make history on Wednesday when she is sworn in as the first female Vice President of the United States — but that’s not the only way the Biden-Harris team is making history.

For the first time ever, a special Inauguration Day program, made especially for children, will be live-streamed from Washington, D.C.

(Image Credit – Today)

“Inaugurations are one of the most important American traditions,” soon-to-be First Lady Dr. Jill Biden said in a video posted to the Biden Inaugural Instagram account. “And this year, for the first time ever, we’re streaming a special live broadcast made for students and families across the country. Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans.”

“Join me and host Keke Palmer, along with lots of other special guests, as we come together to make history,” Biden said. “See you at the Capitol!”

Our White House will feature commentary from historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Erica Armstrong Dunbar, as well as excerpts of student voices from PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs’ “We the Young People” programming.

While specifics of the event have not been revealed, highlights to look forward to include a Nickelodeon-produced segment on presidential pets and trivia questions from Vice President elect-Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff.

Inauguration Day 2021 will look vastly different than in previous years. Instead of in-person spectators, a field of 200,000 flags stands in honor of the upcoming swearing in and packs the space traditionally filled with Inauguration Day crowds at the National Mall.

Dr. Biden ends the short social media clip with a jubilant smile saying, “See you at the Capitol!” It’s a feat only feasible this year thanks to technology.

Read the original post at Today.

This American Astronaut Voted from Space. Here’s how She did it.
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Astronaut Kate Rubins

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins casting her vote from some 200 miles above Earth should be all the motivation you need to make a plan to vote this year.

Rubins, the only American voter not currently on Earth, said she was able to vote from the International Space Station last week.
This isn’t the first time Rubins has cast her ballot from space: She voted in 2016 when she was also researching at the space station.
Rubins, along with two Russian cosmonauts, began their mission earlier this month and will spend a total of six months in space as part of the Expedition 63/64 crew. Rubins will research “the use of laser-cooled atoms for future quantum sensors” and conduct cardiovascular experiments from the space station, according to NASA.

How to vote from space

Astronauts registered to vote in Texas got the right to vote from space in 1997, when Texas lawmakers ruled they could electronically cast their ballot off-planet if they’d be on a spaceflight during the early-voting period or Election Day, according to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Kayla Barron Graduates as NASA Astronaut with Eye on Artemis Missions
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Astronaut Candidate Kayla in spacesuit

Washington native Kayla Barron joined the rest of NASA’s first class of astronaut candidates under the Artemis program, for a graduation ceremony on Friday, Jan. 10, at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

After completing more than two years of basic training, she is eligible for spaceflight assignments to the International Space Station (ISS), Artemis missions to the Moon, and future missions to Mars.

The ceremony aired live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The class included 11 NASA candidates, as well as two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) candidates, selected in 2017. The NASA candidates, including Barron, were chosen from a record-setting pool of more than 18,000 applicants. The CSA candidates have been training alongside their NASA classmates.

Barron, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, is originally from Richland, Washington. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. As a submarine warfare officer, Barron served aboard the USS Maine (SSBN 741), completing three strategic deterrent patrols. She came to NASA from the U.S. Naval Academy, where she was serving as the flag aide to the superintendent.

All astronaut candidates have completed training in spacewalking, robotics, ISS systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and Russian language. At the ceremony, each candidate will receive an astronaut pin, marking their graduation from basic training and their eligibility to be selected to fly in space.

As astronauts, they’ll help develop spacecraft, support the teams currently in space and ultimately, have the opportunity to join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space. NASA continues its work aboard the space station, which is preparing to mark the 20th consecutive year of humans living onboard in November 2020. The agency also is on the verge of launching Americans from American soil aboard commercial spacecraft and is preparing to send humans to the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

Source:  prnewswire.com

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Two female astronauts make history. How to watch NASA’s first all-female spacewalk
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two women in spacesuits pictured working outside spaceship

Men have floated out the hatch on all 420 spacewalks conducted over the past half-century. That changed recently with spacewalk No. 421.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir ventured outside the International Space Station recently and spevt over five hours replacing a broken battery charger, or BCDU. NASA’s livestream of the historic spacewalk features astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson as one of the female narrators.

The units have previously been replaced using a robotic arm, but the newly failed unit is too far away for it to reach.

The units regulate how much energy flows from the station’s massive solar panels to battery units, which are used to provide power during nighttime passes around Earth. Three previous spacewalks had been planned to replace lithium-ion batteries, but those will be rescheduled until the latest BCDU issue is resolved.

The hardware failure does present some concern, especially since another BCDU was replaced in April and there are only four more backups on the station. In total, there are 24 operational BCDUs.

The battery charger failed after Koch and a male crewmate installed new batteries outside the space station last week. NASA put the remaining battery replacements on hold to fix the problem and moved up the women’s planned spacewalk by three days.

All four men aboard the ISS remained inside during the spacewalk.

The spacewalk is Koch’s fourth and Meir’s first.

Continue on to USA Today to read the complete article.

Why your business needs cyber liability insurance
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cybersecurity

By Joseph E. Guimera

While cyberattacks against large companies, such as Target, Home Depot and Experian, dominate the headlines, smaller companies also face computer liability risks. Most, if not all, businesses use email, text message or social media; provide products or services through a website; send or receive documents electronically; or store and use company, customer or employee data.

If the data you maintain is compromised, either through a cyberattack, or even through a lost or stolen laptop or smartphone, your business can be held liable. In addition to possible damages, restoring or repairing the data can be costly. Your business could be exposed to:

  • Costs incurred by customers and third parties as a result of the incident.
  • Costs in repairing or replacing computer systems or lost data.
  • Loss resulting from your inability to remain operational while your system is down.
  • Costs for notification expenses to customers as required by your state’s notification requirements. Some states require notification if a data breach is even just suspected.
  • Regulatory fines if your business has failed to meet state or federal compliance requirements.
  • Damages and attorney’s fees from lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, if you have a large number of customers.

Traditional commercial general liability insurance policies exclude cyber risks from their terms. Damage to electronic data doesn’t qualify as property damage under a CGL policy. Also, most CGL policies contain a specific electronic data exclusion, which eliminates coverage for claims based on the loss, damage, corruption, or inability to use data.

Some standard business insurance policies, such as a Business Owners Policy (BOP), may provide limited coverage for certain types of cyber incidents. For example, if you lose electronic data as a result of a computer virus or hardware failure, the BOP insurance may pay recovery or replacement costs. However, for extended coverage for cyber liability risks, you will need a cyber liability policy customized for your business.

Cyber liability policies vary widely from one insurer to another. Some insurers have developed special policies for specific businesses such as healthcare providers or technology companies, while other insurers allow the customer to purchase only the coverage they need.

Many cyber liability policies cover both “first-party risks” and “third-party risks.” First-party risks are the losses suffered by the insured as a result of the cyber incident, including income lost and expenses incurred due to a full or partial shutdown of computer systems; cost of restoring or reconstructing lost or damaged data; cost of notifying affected customers as required by law, and the cost of providing credit monitoring to affected customers; cost of paying ransomware; and cost of hiring legal, public relations and computer consultants.

Third-party risks include the business’s potential liability to clients or to governmental or regulatory entities, including lawsuits or claims from third parties resulting from the data breach and governmental fines.

Cyber liability insurance can be a great asset to a business trying to cope with, and respond to, a breach. Businesses should take the time to learn what coverage they have and what coverage they need to ensure they are adequately protected.

NASA Headquarters Could Soon Name a Street in Honor of the Women Who Inspired Hidden Figures
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These three Black women changed the course of history.

Before Margot Lee Shetterley’s book led to the making of the blockbuster 2016 film of the same name, Hidden Figures, very few people knew of three groundbreaking Black female mathematicians who helped send John Glenn into space in 1962. But soon, a street sign could be named in honor of 100-year-old Katherine Johnson and her colleagues, the late Dorothy Vaughan and Mary W. Jackson.

Yes, the scientific contributions this trio left on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) between the ’40s and ’60s is documented in Hollywood film. However, a Washington, D.C. Council voted unanimously this week to make sure they have the opportunity to be permanently etched into the city’s infrastructure. The council approved the Hidden Figures Way Designation Act of 2018, selecting a street that’s located outside of NASA Headquarters to be named Hidden Figures Way.

As expected, the name is derived from both the book and the film, which stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced the legislation in September “to honor the historic women scientist and mathematicians who contributed to NASA’s mission.”

“Despite facing segregation and adversity, these women computers played an integral role in the development of aeronautical and aerospace research during turning points in our nation’s history, including World War II and the development of the Space Task Force,” Mendelsen said, according to NBC Washington.

The mission Mendelson is referencing is the Space Race competition, which took place between 1957 and 1975. During that time, different nations competed against each other to send astronauts into space. Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson were part of the team who helped Glenn become the first American to orbit Earth, but they were still overlooked, ignored, and demeaned as depicted in the film and book.

Now that the bill received preliminary approval this week, the act will have to be reviewed in the upcoming weeks and voted on for a second time. Upon acquiring the appropriate number of votes, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will sign the bill, ensuring the trio will always be remembered for their historic achievements.

Continue onto The Oprah Magazine to read the complete article.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. Diversity Alliance for Science (DA4S) Geo Cluster
    June 27, 2022
  4. Business Beyond Barriers Conference + Expo
    July 14, 2022
  5. The 2022 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference Heads to Las Vegas!
    August 2, 2022 - August 5, 2022
  6. 44th Annual BDPA National Conference
    August 18, 2022 - August 20, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. Diversity Alliance for Science (DA4S) Geo Cluster
    June 27, 2022
  4. Business Beyond Barriers Conference + Expo
    July 14, 2022
  5. The 2022 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference Heads to Las Vegas!
    August 2, 2022 - August 5, 2022
  6. 44th Annual BDPA National Conference
    August 18, 2022 - August 20, 2022