[Fox News] NASA seeks participants for second year-long Mars mission simulation

NASA is searching for the next four-person crew to participate in a one-year program at Johnson Space Center in Houston, simulating life and conditions on the planet Mars.

The mission will be the second of three year-long Mars surface simulations called Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, or CHAPEA, and is expected to kick off in the Spring of 2025.

The first four-person crew was locked into the habitat, called the Mars Dune Alpha, in June 2023, and is more than half way through their mission.

The inaugural crew consists of Commander Kelly Haston, a research scientist with experience in stem cell-based projects; flight engineer Ross Brockwell, a structural engineer and public works administrator; medical officer Nathan Jones; and science officer Anca Selariu.

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The data acquired through the simulations is intended to help NASA prepare for human exploration of Mars.

NASA said in a press release that the Mars Dune Alpha habitat simulates challenges of a mission to Mars, including resource limitations, equipment failures, communication delays and other environmental stressors.

Some of the tasks crew members may participate in are robotic operations, spacewalks, habitat maintenance, exercise and crop growth.

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NASA is looking for U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are healthy, non-smokers, between 30-55 years old and proficient in English.

The selection follows the standards NASA uses when considering astronaut candidates.

Specifically, a master’s degree in a STEM field like engineering, mathematics, or biological, physical or computer science from an accredited institution, plus two years of professional experience is required. Alternatively, anyone with over 1,000 hours piloting a plane will be considered.

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NASA said it may consider candidates with two years of work completed toward a doctoral program in STEM, a medical degree, four years of professional experience, military officer training or a Bachelor of Science degree in a STEM field.

The deadline to apply is April 2.

With backgrounds in science and engineering, the crew members will be part of a simulated mission to Mars, where the crew will eat, drink and exercise while in simulation.

The 1,700-square-foot, 3D printed facility is about the size of a three-to-four-bedroom house and will be used for NASA’s longest analog mission to date: 378 days.

The habitat will be a place where the crew will practice personal hygiene and healthcare, like drawing blood, while also allowing them to exercise, grow food and collect geological samples.

The habitat will be packed with all the supplies that will go to Mars. What the habitat will not be able to simulate, though, is the red planet’s gravity.

But that is where virtual reality comes into play. While in the habitat, virtual reality will allow crew members to simulate space walks or Mars walks, as well as other tasks the crew may encounter on Mars, including removing dust from the space suit or solar panels or repairing the habitat.

As crew members live within the confines of the simulator, scientists will be measuring their performance, cognition and health over the year to understand what the crew will go through.

The data collected will then be handed to the vehicle planners.

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[Fox Business] Fisker slumps as cash warning sends investors ‘running for cover’

Cash-strapped Fisker’s shares skid nearly 47% on Friday after the electric vehicle startup flagged going-concern risks, job cuts and a pause in investments into future projects until it secures a partnership with a manufacturer.

The company warned of a “difficult year” ahead, the latest sign of growing pain in the EV sector after weak production forecasts from Rivian and Lucid.

Fisker, whose shares hit a record low at 38 cents, has also received a notice from the New York Stock Exchange over non-compliance with a listing rule.

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High interest rates, range anxiety while driving and high repair costs are making consumers rethink EV purchases and instead opt for hybrids.

Fisker expects to make between 20,000 and 22,000 Ocean vehicles in 2024, below estimates of 35,600, according to Visible Alpha.

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“The company’s decision to cut 15% of its staff knocks its credentials as a growth stock and its warnings about its ability to operate as a going concern is understandably sending investors running for cover,” said Russ Mould, investments director at AJ Bell.

Fisker lacks the scale to compete effectively given high interest rates, Mould added.

The company ended 2023 with cash and cash equivalents of $325.5 million, down from $527.4 million as of Sept. 30, after its net loss more than doubled in the fourth quarter to $462.6 million.

Fisker also said current resources were “insufficient” to cover the next 12 months, despite a “higher-than-usual” cash injection in the first half of 2024 from late deliveries of its Ocean SUVs.

The company is trying to pivot to a dealer-partner model from the direct-to-customer model popular among EV peers.

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CEO Henrik Fisker said the firm was not planning to start “external expenditure” on future projects – the Alaska pickup truck and PEAR compact car – unless it secures another manufacturing partner.

He added that Fisker was in talks with a large automaker for an investment, joint development of EV platforms or manufacturing in North America.

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[Fox Business] GOP senators question FDA over official’s ‘alarming remarks . . . encouraging racial bias in hiring’

EXCLUSIVE – A group of Republican senators is questioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over what they call “alarming remarks” made by the agency’s principal deputy commissioner, Dr. Namandjé  Bumpus, expressing concern over the official’s comments “encouraging racial bias in hiring and promotions.”

GOP Sens. Mike Lee, Mike Braun and Eric Schmitt sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on February 8, flagging a series of comments Bumpus had made that had been brought to their attention by the American Accountability Foundation (AAF), a conservative watchdog group.

The lawmakers pointed to a “Nature” article Bumpus wrote while at Johns Hopkins University, encouraging “over-represented people in science” to help create an “anti-racist culture with the same vigor [they] apply to achieving every other dimension of scientific excellence,” and said that Bumpus has made several similar statements in speeches.

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In the letter, the senators said that Bumpus has repeatedly suggested that over-representation in science is a problem that needs fixing, and they argue that it is not difficult to see which groups she is referring to. The lawmakers pointed to the high percentages of Asian scientists and White male doctors in their respective fields, compared to the percentages they account for in the general population.

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They also said that Bumpus has openly called for racial hiring quotas.

The senators wrote that “[e]ach job at the FDA should be filled by the most qualified candidate,” and that “the measure of FDA officials should be scientific and professional merit alone, not ideological tests drawn on racial lines.”

Bumpus was promoted to principal deputy commissioner of the FDA on February 1 after serving as the agency’s chief scientist since 2022. Sens. Lee, Braun and Schmitt said in their letter that, based on Bumpus’ comments, they “believe she is ill-suited to such an important public health oversight position.”

“America’s government and scientific institutions must be completely free of racial bias, toxic woke policies, and discrimination in any form,” Sen. Lee told FOX Business in an exclusive statement. “Statements made by Dr. Bumpus call into question the ability of the FDA to serve our citizens equally and fairly, and Americans deserve answers.” 

When reached for comment, an FDA spokesperson acknowledged receipt of the letter and said the agency would respond to the senators directly. 

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“Dr. Namandjé N. Bumpus is a highly accomplished, nationally-renowned biomedical scientist, representing the best and brightest in public health and science,” the spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement. “Dr. Bumpus has a proven track record at the FDA and is critical to fulfilling the mission of the agency.”

The spokesperson added, “The FDA is incredibly fortunate to count her among the civil servants serving the American public in her leadership role.”

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