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A Week Of Milestones For Spaceflight | Mexico Has Elected A Scientist President

Science Friday

07-06-2024 • 21 mins

A Week Of Milestones For Spaceflight

This has been a week of milestones for human spaceflight. After years of delays, Boeing’s Starliner capsule, carrying astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, successfully launched Wednesday on the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. On Thursday, it docked with the International Space Station.

Also on Thursday, SpaceX’s Starship rocket made its first successful launch and reentry after three previous attempts (the massive rocket burned up in the atmosphere on the last launch). And on a more sobering note, NASA announced that its famous 34-year-old Hubble Space Telescope is experiencing issues with its gyroscopes and is opting to only use one for the time being. The agency says Hubble can still do science, but less efficiently than it once could.

Maggie Koerth, science writer and editorial lead for Carbon Plan, joins Ira to discuss those and other top stories in science this week, including why the viral Joro spider you may have seen online does not pose a threat to humans, how a virus that’s spreading due to deforestation in South America could overwhelm local healthcare, and why the FDA voted against the medical use of MDMA.

Mexico Has Elected A Scientist President. What Will That Mean?

This week, Mexico elected a historic president: Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, who will be the first woman to lead the nation, and was also an environmental engineer before entering politics.

Despite the president-elect’s scientific past, Sheinbaum Pardo has committed to following the lead of her predecessor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose science policies were deeply unpopular with many researchers in the country.

Mexico’s scientific community is split on how this election will impact science and research in the country. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, a reporter at Science Magazine, joins Ira to talk through the complexities of this election and how scientists are reacting.

Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com.

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