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White House orders NASA to get American astronauts back on the moon

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NASA is going back to the moon — somehow, someway. The White House has ordered the agency to put American boots back on the lunar surface. The major unknowns at this point include the when, how, scale of the operation and cost. Also unclear is what exactly NASA would accomplish with such a mission and how it might affect plans for a human mission to Mars.

NASA put 12 astronauts on the moon between 1969 and 1972. With the death Friday of Apollo 16’s John Young, only five of those astronauts are still alive, and they range in age from 82 to 87. No human being has been beyond low Earth orbit since the end of the Apollo program.

NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot told The Washington Post that the agency will partner with other countries in the return to the moon, but he did not say which ones. He said the moon plan will be a public-private partnership, but did not name any companies that might be involved. Details will emerge with the president’s annual budget request to Congress, he said. He provided no specifics about the architecture of a moon program.

“We have no idea yet,” Lightfoot said.

NASA is trying to do this without additional funding or a permanent administrator — another top science position that hasn’t been filled in the Trump administration. NASA’s ongoing challenge in recent years has been reconciling the orders of politicians with the hard realities of flat budgets and the immutable laws of physics. This is the third time this century that NASA has been ordered to make a major shift in the focus of its human spaceflight program.

“We’re always asked to change directions every time we get a new president, and that just causes you to do negative work, work that doesn’t matter,” former astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent nearly a year on the International Space Station in his last spaceflight mission, told The Post. “I just hope someday we’ll have a president that will say, ‘You know what, we’ll just leave NASA on the course they are on, and see what NASA can achieve if we untie their hands.’”

Scott Hubbard, former director of the NASA Ames Research Center, said he has heard grumbling in the space community about this latest change in NASA strategy. He said people are saying, “Please don’t push the reset button again, because you’re just going to waste billions of dollars of previous investment.”

NASA’s long-term human spaceflight strategy still includes a Mars mission in the 2030s, starting with a mission to orbit the planet and return home, followed by landing astronauts on Mars at an unspecified future date. Hubbard said that’s still doable — “but not if NASA does a major re-pivot and goes all-in on a base on the moon. Then clearly Mars is pushed way off into the future.”

But Lori Garver, the NASA deputy administrator during President Barack Obama’s first term, said the people who don’t want to see changes at NASA are “whiners.” She has experience with implementing a major strategic shift, because after she and her fellow political appointees arrived at NASA headquarters in 2009, they upended the plans of George W. Bush for a return to the moon.

“This is a democracy,” she said. “Elections matter.”

She noted that NASA is already building a jumbo rocket and crew capsule that could be used in a moon program. And she said NASA hasn’t built anything yet that’s specifically designed for a Mars mission.

“Mars was more of a talking point,” she said. “It’s out there as an aspirational goal.”

NASA is a $19 billion agency that does far more than just launch people into space. It spends roughly $5 billion a year on science missions, including robotic exploration of Mars and other planets. But the human spaceflight program has always been the heart of the agency and the foundation of its political support in Congress. The truism on the Hill has always been “No Buck Rogers, no bucks.”

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Peter Dinklage & Morgan Freeman to Face Off in Super Bowl Commercial

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PepsiCo has announced its two brands, Doritos and Mountain Dew, will air a 60-second spot together for the Super Bowl, a first for the parent company. PepsiCo has a released a teaser trailer in anticipation of the spot, where it features actors Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage as the stars of the upcoming ad.

The ad will focus on two new products from the respective brands, spicy Doritos Blaze and a lemon-lime Moutain Dew Ice. “This is a great example of the power of PepsiCo’s food and beverage portfolio coming to life for consumers on one of the world’s largest stages. Doritos and Mountain Dew go perfectly together, and both brands have passionate fan bases. We think consumers will love Doritos Blaze and MTN DEW ICE, as well as this engaging Super Bowl ad,” Al Carey, chief executive officer, PepsiCo North America, said in a statement. Check out the teaser for the upcoming Super Bowl spot above and share your thoughts in the comments below.

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mastermind JAPAN & SearchNDesign Team Up for "Ghost Sox"

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mastermind JAPAN joins forces with Italian footwear imprint SearchNDesign for a special drop, centering around a unique silhouette dubbed the “Ghost Sox.”

The “Ghost Sox,” named for the removable neoprene sock inside the shoe, blend Japanese heritage with progressive sneaker design; the inner sock can be removed and worn when entering a house. Italian vegetable-tanned leather uppers feature minute holes on the toe for breathability, gold eyelets and a lace-crossing strap for foot support. A zipper on the heel of the sneaker eases wearability and tonal laces, matching the red, black and white colorways, keep the shoe looking clean. mastermind’s iconic skull logo appears on the outside heel and tongue of the sneakers, while the insoles feature co-branding.

Look for the sneakers to drop alongside a matching hoodie and T-shirt on February 1 for €1,217 EUR, or approximately $1,490 USD on SearchNDestroy’s website. For more Italian leather sneakers, check out Vans Vault’s latest Old Skool pack.

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Travel: The Williamsburg Hotel, Brooklyn

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Up until a couple of years ago, finding a descent hotel in Williamsburg was pretty tough. There was of course always The Wythe leading the charge opening in 2012, but over the past year, North Brooklyn has welcomed a couple new hotels all within walking distance of each other. The latest is the aptly named Williamsburg Hotel.

Located in North Brooklyn, in possibly the easiest location to get in and out of Manhattan, the hotel features 150 guest rooms spanning the eight-story brick, Corten steel, and glass structure, elegantly designed by London design firm Michaelis Boyd Studio (Soho House Berlin & Babington House) to pay homage to Williamsburg’s industrial past.

In addition to the usual comforts of hotel living, The Williamsburg will offers up its own vegetable focused restaurant – Harvey, as well as rooftop pool and lounge, an expansive grand ballroom and three distinct bars, one of which is housed inside a retrofitted water tower, how very Brooklyn of them. Hotel guests can also borrow one of their custom bikes, or hitch a ride on their adorable pink Tuk-Tuk.

While much of the amenities weren’t ready when we stayed here earlier this month, the hotel it self was quite impressive to say the least. Housing five different room-types, we had the opportunity to stay in one of their Queen rooms, which featured floor to ceiling windows, a private balcony with a view of Brooklyn and Manhattan (somewhat of a rarity in NYC), and a rather impressive bathroom. Complete with classic white marble and Waterworks brass hardware, the bathroom featured toiletries by Brooklyn based brand Apotheke you’ll definitely want to pocket before you leave.

While much of the food and beverage program is still to come, we highly recommend pulling up a seat at the bar for a cocktail on your next visit and look forward to heading back again soon.

Flip through some of our photos from our stay below now and click here for more information on The Williamsburg Hotel.

 

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