When life gets you down, remember: You’re much more likely to join the cast of a reality TV series than you are likely to become a billionaire. But we can still recognize when billionaires do impressive things, like MacKenzie Scott giving all her money away or Axiom Space sending a few rich folks off to the International Space Station.
Eventually, Axiom Space wants to build a private space station. Personally, I’d prefer ultra-wealthy people to give all their money away to help build better on Earth, but in any case, you can read a little bit more about the future of private space stations in today’s newsletter, along with stories about cosmonauts and wolves. MacKenzie Scott, if you are reading, call me!
“Over the weekend, the Axiom-1 mission carried four rich guys and philanthropists, a celebrity-chef menu, and biomedical experiments to the International Space Station,” writes Inverse science writer Doris Elín Urrutia.
The April 8 launch aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, initiated Axiom Space’s game plan to create the first commercial space station.
No matter what your taste is for celebrity chef-sponsored space missions (the businessmen on the flight will be treated to Iberian ham and chicken paella, among other things), Axiom-1 is notably the first private mission to the ISS.
And already four full days into the historic event, things seem to be going perfectly fine.
“At 10:13 a.m. on Saturday (April 9), the Axiom-1 crew successfully docked to the ISS,” writes Urrutia. Through the week, the crew will help assist NASA with experiments on “genetic markers in cellular aging, changes to brain activity in microgravity, and a DNA editing system,” writes Urrutia.
If you have to go to space, promise to protect your eyes. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences proposes that extended time in space might swell the brain and, as it were, cause problems in the body.
The study is particularly interested in brain changes from spaceflight causing deteriorating eyesight, but, intriguingly, it suggests that “Russian cosmonauts suffered less than NASA astronauts” due to certain microgravity countermeasures they use, reports Charles Q. Choi. “For example, Russian cosmonauts undergo lower body negative pressure sessions beginning two weeks prior to landing that NASA and ESA do not — these shift blood from the upper to the lower body by placing a person in a cylindrical airtight metal tank that is sealed off around the pelvis, and a vacuum pump then reduces the air pressure around the legs.”
NASA and ESA also use free weights to exercise during lengthy missions, which might trap more fluid in the brain. This new research could be instrumental in protecting astronauts from a space-flight-associated, neuro-ocular syndrome, or SANS, which can involve a flattening of the back of the eye, blurry vision, and other nasty symptoms.
In this card story, Inverse card story editor Jennifer Walter takes readers somewhere they have undoubtedly never gone before: in the eyes of a wolf.
“What do wolves do all day in the summer?” Walter asks about the seasonally solitary creatures. “To find out, researchers in Minnesota set out to track a day in the life of a lone wolf living in the northern part of the state for the Voyageurs Wolf Project.”
One of the project’s most recent installments is a 25-minute video taken from a camera hanging off a wild wolf’s neck. The video spans 14 hours for a true day in a wolf’s life. “In many ways, the wolf’s day was quite predictable,” writes Walter.
“It did a lot of walking, spent hours resting in the shade, and even killed a fawn.” But the video is the first of its kind, the first chance humans have had to see a wolf’s day on its own terms and from its own perspective. Click through Walter’s entire card story to learn more about the research and see highlights from the wolf’s sleepy, scratchy, bloody day.
Wolves may spend the summer alone, but humans don’t mind letting things heat up in pairs. In this Inverse long read, writer Vivian Lam makes a case for gay yearning as an important motivator for fans and artists alike.
“Gay yearning is both the longing for something that is often decidedly gay in flavor and the projection of that longing onto how different characters feel for one another,” writes Lam.
“For fans who can turn horror-thrillers into romcoms and sitcoms into Greek tragedies, gay yearning is what draws many of them into creative communities — often collectively referred to as fandoms.”
Fandoms, like any group whose members pledge undying devotion to one, probably flawed thing, can help as much as they can hurt. But it's undeniable that fervid loyalty is what helps a mundane Netflix show transcend into something of consequence.
“In a world where queer people are alienated, hunted, and feared, shows that allow anti-protagonists just like them to survive give queer fans a chance to vicariously transcend even the most hostile of circumstances they face in their own lives,” writes Lam. By translating yearning into fanfiction, fanart, or other fanworks, queer fans can “redefine what is worthy of attention and care.”
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- On this day in history: Today in 1970, an oxygen tank burst on Apollo 13 while the ship was more than halfway to the Moon. Though they were stuck in a dangerous and unprecedented situation, the astronauts on board were able to find their way back to Earth; they splashed safely down onto the Pacific Ocean a few anxious days later, on April 17.
- Song of the day: “Pacific Theme,” by Broken Social Scene.