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Inspiration4 readies for launch

Plus: Watch elephants can make sounds on cue

The Inspiration4 crew

The Inspiration4 mission prepares for launch... Elephants trumpet on cue, and it sounds incredible... Why Volvo’s SUV got such high marks from our car reviewer... Next week is your best chance all year to see the densest giant planet. We’re rounding out the work week with some incredible stories for you.

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Inspiration4 mission commander Jared Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments, stands for a portrait in front of the recovered first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket at Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) on February 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California.


Countdown to launch — Inspiration4 will send up four crew members in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, launched with a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida as early as Wednesday, September 15, reports Mike Brown.

The mission set to be the first crewed SpaceX mission not to feature NASA, and it could pave the way for more ambitious missions to the Moon and Mars.

“We're not going to get to the moon again, or to Mars and beyond, if we don't get outside our comfort zone a little bit,” Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 passenger who is also funding the mission, told Inverse earlier this month.

The three additional crew members have been chosen by their relation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or Isaacman’s company Shift4. A goal of the mission is to raise $100 million in private donations for the hospital, supplemented by an additional $100 million donation by Isaacman. This team will comprise the first all-civilian mission to space.

Read the full story.

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Elephants can make sounds on cue Jenn Walter reports on researchers who trained 13 elephants how to make sounds on command -- including a few that they normally don't make in the wild.

Having a “memory like an elephant” isn’t an understatement.

We know a lot about these beasts’ intelligence, but their ability to memorize sounds is just starting to come to light.

For a September 6 study in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, a team of researchers trained 13 African elephants to produce an array of sounds when humans prompted them.

See the video and read the full story.

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Car reviewer Jordan Golson: “I think the Volvo XC60 is the best-looking luxury SUV on the market.”


One type of driver will call the 2021 Volvo XC60 T8 perfect Jordan Golson reviews the Volvo XC60, which he observes is the ideal luxury car for a whole lot of buyers, thanks to its sharp design, excellent safety, and tech features, and some of the most comfortable seats you can find:

I recommend the Volvo XC60 to many people when they ask me what kind of car to buy. It’s a good size, especially if you do not have children. It’s not decadent for a luxury car, and everything on it is practical and well-considered.

If you’re the type of person who appreciates a thoughtful, safe, practical luxury car, this XC60 is perfect. There is none better.

Read the full review.

More new auto headlines:


The best time of year to see Neptune — Neptune will be in opposition on Tuesday, September 14 at 5:12 a.m. Eastern. Fittingly, it will be in front of the constellation Aquarius the Water Carrier.

Elana Spivack writes that the planet reaches its highest point in the sky around midnight Eastern (or in any time zone). Neptune’s opposition occurs annually, but every year the exact date shifts forward by several days in part because of how large the planet’s orbit is in comparison to how fast the Earth flies around the Sun.

Read the full story.

More space science

Actor Colin Firth marks a birthday today. Here is Firth in 1999.

Eleanor Bentall/Corbis Entertainment/Getty Images
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