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Watch four "amateur astronauts" and a floating stuffed dog go to space

The first all-civilian mission to space, dubbed Inspiration4, blasted off from Launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:02 p.m. on Wednesday. Below, we have details from the historic launch and a link to the full video if you missed it.

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The crew of Inspiration4 poses for photos a few hours before the launch.Youtube

Inspiring stuff — This crew — Jared Isaacman, Dr. Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux, and Chris Sembroski — is now orbiting Earth some 360 miles above it, which is higher than the International Space Station. Think of it as the distance from Los Angeles to the Golden Gate Bridge.

These four are relatively normal, private citizens—no tax dollars funded this trip. The Washington Post described them as “amateur astronauts” in its breaking news headline on Wednesday night. It’s apt ... if a maybe a little blunt.

This dashboard will be the amateur crew’s main focus — as well as the depths of space right out the windows of the capsule — for the next few days.

The private mission, launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (the crew is inside the Crew Dragon capsule), is a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital in the near term. In the future, it may very well be seen as the start of humans going to space for reasons other than those of a governmental or scientific nature. Vacations. Fundraisers. Commercials. Art. Weddings. Births? Don’t rule it out.

Liftoff: The Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Capsule atop lifts off from the historic 39A launchpad, also used for the NASA Apollo program.

“The door is open now. The view is pretty incredible,” said Isaacman, a billionaire who founded a retail payment processing company, Shift4 Payments, in 1999.

In the cabin of the Crew Dragon was also a stuffed toy dog, floating as the fifth member of the team. A feature of this mission is a skylight of sorts in the Crew Dragon capsule, which SpaceX revealed in March. While there was supposed to be a view of the feature on the launch live stream, that didn’t go as planned, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to see that.

“A new view for crew,” a SpaceX tweet cooed alongside this photo, back in March 2021.

The splashdown of the Crew Dragon capsule with its four members and their stuffed dog is set for Saturday in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Covid-19 vaccine and infertility Emma Betuel reports that despite misinformation shared, there's no evidence that any of the Covid-19 vaccines available in the United States harm male fertility:

Met Gala tickets reportedly cost about $35,000. But in 2021, even if you had the cash you couldn’t get in without another ticket you can get for free: proof you received the Covid-19 vaccine, known to prevent severe disease and death.

That Covid-19 vaccination requirement was enough to keep at least one person from attending the event: Nicki Minaj. Instead, Minaj shared her hesitations, and unfortunately, a bit of vaccine misinformation on Twitter.

In particular, Minaj shared an anecdote about her cousin’s friend, who Minaj claimed became impotent after receiving the vaccine, suffered from some swollen balls, and was then dumped by his fiancé.

Read the full story.

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How one animal survived the asteroid that killed dinosaurs Tara Yarlagadda speaks with scientists on how they discovered snakes survived and diversified after the extinction event that killed off the majority of species on Earth, including dinosaurs:

Samuel L. Jackson bemoaned the slithering serpent in the movie Snakes on a Plane. He “had it” with these snakes on planes.

What has not had it with snakes, however, is Earth. From terrifying flying snakes to ‘horny’ sea snakes, these elongated reptiles are spread across the planet, maintaining ecosystems. Scientists estimate there are a whopping 3,921 species of snakes.

But it was never a foregone conclusion that snakes would dominate Earth. In fact, if it weren’t for the Cretaceous mass extinction — yes, the same one that killed off most dinosaurs — we might not have any snakes at all.

Read the full story.

The more you know:

"It's kind of hit me that it's probably going be a forever thing, which is really frustrating."file photo

The young people with long Covid — From the archives, we’re re-sharing this story from nearly a year ago about young patients of Covid-19 who were dealing with long-term effects. As more “breakthrough” cases occur, with some of them occurring in young people, we want to highlight this longform story by Ali Pattillo:

Christina Alexander was having an unsettling experience. It was a Saturday night in mid-March, and the 26-year-old was cooking up a stir-fry in her small Chicago apartment. Steam from the teriyaki-soaked vegetables rose into the air. But as the dish sizzled on the stove, something wasn't right.

Alexander couldn't smell her dinner.

In fact, she couldn't smell or taste anything. Then she realized: she had Covid-19. She had distorted sensory perception like an estimated 34 to 68 percent of people infected with the virus.

Read the full story.

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Actress, comedian, writer, producer, and director Amy Poehler marks a birthday today.MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images/MediaNews Group/Getty Images
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