Russian-US crew launches on fast track to the space station

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MOSCOW (AP) — A trio of space travelers launched successfully to the International Space Station, for the first time using a fast-track maneuver to reach the orbiting outpost in just three hours.

NASA’s Kate Rubins along with Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos lifted off as scheduled Wednesday morning from the Russia-leased Baikonur space launch facility in Kazakhstan for a six-month stint on the station.

For the first time, they tried a two-orbit approach and docked with the space station in just a little over three hours after lift-off. Previously it took twice as long for crews to reach the station.

They will join the station’s NASA commander, Chris Cassidy, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who have been aboard the complex since April and are scheduled to return to Earth in a week.

Speaking during Tuesday’s pre-launch news conference at Baikonur, Rubins emphasized that the crew spent weeks in quarantine at the Star City training facility outside Moscow and then on Baikonur to avoid any threat from the coronavirus.

“We spent two weeks at Star City and then 17 days at Baikonur in a very strict quarantine,” Rubins said. “During all communications with crew members, we were wearing masks. We made PCR tests twice and we also made three times antigen fast tests.”

She said she was looking forward to scientific experiments planned for the mission.

“We’re planning to try some really interesting things like bio-printing tissues and growing cells in space and, of course, continuing our work on sequencing DNA,” Rubins said.

Ryzhikov, who will be the station’s skipper, said the crew will try to pinpoint the exact location of a leak at a station’s Russian section that has slowly leaked oxygen. The small leak hasn’t posed any immediate danger to


U decisionmakers called ‘tone-deaf’ for thinking outdoor track doesn’t need indoor season

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Nearly 20 former and current Gophers athletes sat for hours Friday at the McNamara Alumni Center, waiting to hear the final decision on sports cuts from the Board of Regents.

Among the athletes were a handful representing track and field, who learned early in the meeting that men’s outdoor track would be saved as part of an amended resolution. But eventually, the regents voted 7-5 to eliminate men’s indoor track after this school year, along with men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis.

Based on the immediate buzz, it seemed far from a victory for Gophers men’s track.

“Obviously, it’s pretty shocking and pretty new for us just as an idea,” senior distance runner Jordan MacIntosh said. “Because what is track without indoor? That’s half our sport. Thinking that you can recruit just as well with an outdoor program and no indoor program is pretty naive.”

Athletic director Mark Coyle, who first announced the proposed sports cuts Sept. 10, said Friday’s new resolution sprouted from “ongoing conversations” with the regents.

While at least one regent called it a compromise, MacIntosh reiterated what many of his men’s track teammates told him, that the U decisionmakers “really don’t understand the sport.”

“That shows with their new proposal,” he said.

Among Big Ten men’s programs, the Gophers will join two other schools that don’t offer the standard trio of cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track. Maryland has outdoor track only, and Northwestern has none of the three on the men’s side.

There are an estimated 20 Division I schools in the country that have men’s cross-country and only have men’s outdoor track. In the Pac-12, Oregon State and Utah don’t have men’s track and field, while Southern California has only indoor track on the men’s side.

“These have been difficult, difficult decisions,” Coyle said on


Two Stunning Track Records With Evolving Technological Progress To The Fore

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The unwavering advance of technology continues unabated in athletics as two long-standing world records were obliterated within an hour at the same meeting by runners wearing Nike’s controversial track spikes and guided by pacemaking lights.

At a stadium in Valencia that was almost empty because of coronavirus restrictions, Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei smashed the men’s 10,000m world record on Wednesday, clocking 26min 11.00 sec to slice an astonishing six seconds off the mark set in 2005 by Kenenisa Bekele.

Cheptegei’s performance came after Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey chalked off an equally remarkable four seconds from the previous record for the women’s 5,000m set by Tirunesh Dibaba in 2008. Gidey was timed in 14:06.62.

Two world records in highly competitive events set in one heady hour did not just come about by accident.

They were premeditated and both performances factored in the latest technological advances, something that threatens to produce a rash of new marks, just as swimming had its record book rewritten with the introduction of the full-body suits that were later banned.

Both Cheptegei and Gidey were wearing Nike ZoomX Dragonfly spikes, a super-light shoe with a rigid plate and a unique foam that lends a propulsive sensation to every stride.

Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei beat the men's 10,000m world record previously set in 2005 by Kenenisa Bekele by an astonishing six seconds Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei beat the men’s 10,000m world record previously set in 2005 by Kenenisa Bekele by an astonishing six seconds Photo: AFP / JOSE JORDAN

Critics claim the shoes are the equivalent of mechanical doping, while supporters hail them as a revolutionary technical advance.

The spikes, nevertheless, are approved by track and field’s governing body.

Not only were the two athletes wearing the controversial Nike spikes, but they had a team of metronomic pacemakers around them who utilised Wavelight technology — a trackside visual time guidance system which lights up to indicate the world record pace.

“It will likely


GPS-enabled decoy eggs could help authorities track and catch sea turtle egg traffickers

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Oct. 5 (UPI) — GPS-enabled decoy eggs could help authorities track sea turtle egg poachers and disrupt illegal wildlife trade networks.

In a proof-of-concept study, published Monday in the journal Current Biology, researchers placed 3D-printed, GPS-enabled decoy eggs in the nests of endangered sea turtles in Central America.

Using the ingeniously named InvestEGGator, scientists were able to track the contraband from the beach to restaurants and bars where the eggs are sold as a delicacy.

“Our research showed that placing a decoy into a turtle nest did not damage the incubating embryos and that the decoys work,” lead study author Helen Pheasey said in a news release.

“We showed that it was possible to track illegally removed eggs from beach to end consumer as shown by our longest track, which identified the entire trade chain covering 137 kilometers,” said Pheasey, conservation biologist and doctoral student at the University of Kent.

Researchers created the decoy for the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, a request for proposals issued by the United States Agency for International Development. USAID wanted participating groups to come up with technologies that could be used to combat wildlife poaching.

Researcher Kim Williams-Guillen, who works with the conservation organization Paso Pacifico and helped develop the decoy egg, said she was inspired by a pair of her favorite TV shows, Breaking Bad and The Wire.

“In Breaking Bad, the DEA places a GPS tracking device on a tank of chemicals to see who receives the chemicals,” Williams-Guillen said. “In one episode of The Wire, two police officers plant an audio device in a tennis ball to surreptitiously record a suspected drug dealer.”

“Turtle eggs basically look like ping pong balls, and we wanted to know where they were going — put those two ideas together and you have