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International

SpaceX brings 4 astronauts home with midnight splashdown

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By Marcia Dunn in Cape Canaveral

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX brought four astronauts home with a midnight splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, capping the busiest month yet for Elon Musk’s taxi service.

The three U.S. astronauts and one German in the capsule were bobbing off the Florida coast, near Tampa, less than 24 hours after leaving the International Space Station. NASA expected to have them back in Houston later in the morning.

NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer, embraced the seven astronauts remaining at the station, before parting ways.

“It’s the end of a six-month mission, but I think the space dream lives on,” Maurer said.

SpaceX brought up their U.S. and Italian replacements last week, after completing a charter trip to the station for a trio of businessmen.

That amounts to two crew launches and two splashdowns in barely a month. Musk’s company has now launched 26 people into orbit in less than two years, since it started ferrying astronauts for NASA. Eight of those 26 were space tourists.

“Welcome home,” SpaceX Mission Control radioed at splashdown. “Thanks for flying SpaceX.”

“That was a great ride,” replied Chari, the capsule commander. As for the reintroduction to gravity, he noted: “Only one complaint. These water bottles are super heavy.”

All four were out of the capsule an hour later, waving and giving thumbs-up as they were hustled away on rolling chaises for medical checks.

The astronauts said their mission was highlighted by the three visitors and their ex-astronaut escort who dropped by in April, opening up NASA’s side of the station to paying guests after decades of resistance.

On the down side, they had to contend with a dangerous spike in space junk after Russia blew up a satellite in a missile test in mid-November. More than 1,500 pieces of shrapnel spread across Earth’s orbit for years to come.

While the war in Ukraine has caused tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the astronauts have stood by their Russian crewmates, and vice versa. Flight controllers in Houston and Moscow also continued to cooperate as always, according to NASA officials.

As he relinquished command of the space station earlier this week, Marshburn called it “a place of peace” and said international cooperation would likely be its lasting legacy. Russian Oleg Artemyev, the new commander, also emphasized the “peace between our countries, our friendship” in orbit and described his crewmates as brothers and sisters.

Up there now are three Russians, three Americans and one Italian.

It was Marshburn’s third spaceflight, and the first for the three returning with him. Chari and Barron’s next stop could be the moon; they are among 18 U.S. astronauts picked for NASA’s Artemis moon-landing program. Two others in that elite group are now at the space station.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Alberta

Judge sides with Enbridge Inc. in Michigan’s latest effort to halt Line 5 pipeline

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A judge in Michigan has ruled in favour of Enbridge Inc. in the company’s long-running dispute with the state over the Line 5 cross-border pipeline.

In her ruling, Judge Janet Neff says the case belongs in federal court — a blow to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s bid to shut down the pipeline.

It’s the second time in nine months that Neff has sided with Enbridge on the question of jurisdiction.

Whitmer has been trying since November 2020 to shut down Line 5 for fear of a spill in the Straits of Mackinac, where the pipeline crosses the Great Lakes.

Proponents, including Canada’s federal government, call Line 5 a vital and indispensable source of energy for Ontario, Quebec and several Midwestern states.

Environmental activists fear an anchor strike or technical failure could trigger a catastrophe in one of the area’s most important watersheds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.

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Business

A look at the world’s skinniest skyscraper: Steinway Tower

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From left, Central Park Tower, One57, Steinway Tower and the MoMA Expansion Tower. One skyscraper stands out from the rest in the Manhattan skyline. It’s not the tallest, but it is the skinniest — the world’s skinniest, in fact. The 84-story residential Steinway Tower, designed by New York architecture firm SHoP Architects, has the title of “most slender skyscraper in the world” thanks to its logic-defying ratio of width to height: 23 1/2-to-1. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

By Kiana Doyle in New York

NEW YORK (AP) — One skyscraper stands out from the rest in the Manhattan skyline. It’s not the tallest, but it is the skinniest — the world’s skinniest, in fact.

The 84-story residential Steinway Tower, designed by New York architecture firm SHoP Architects, has the title of “most slender skyscraper in the world” thanks to its logic-defying ratio of width to height: 1-to-23 1/2.

“Any time it’s 1-to-10 or more that’s considered a slender building; 1-to-15 or more is considered exotic and really difficult to do,” SHoP Architects founding principal Gregg Pasquarelli said. “The most slender buildings in the world are mostly in Hong Kong, and they’re around 17- or 18-to-1.”

The 60 apartments in the tower range in cost from $18 million to $66 million per unit, and offer 360-degree views of the city. It’s located just south of Central Park, along a stretch of Manhattan’s 57th Street known as “Billionaires’ Row.”

At 1,428 feet (435 meters), the building is the second-tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere, second to the nearby Central Park Tower at 1,550 feet (470 meters). For comparison, the world’s tallest tower is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,717 feet (828 meters).

Steinway Tower is so skinny at the top that whenever the wind ramps up, the luxury homes on the upper floors sway around by a few feet.

“Every skyscraper has to move,” Pasquarelli said. “If it’s too stiff, it’s actually more dangerous — it has to have flexibility in it.”

To prevent the tower from swaying too far, the architects created a counterbalance with tuned steel plates. And while the exterior has the de rigueur reflective glass, it also includes a textured terracotta and bronze facade that creates wind turbulence to slow the acceleration of the building, Pasquarelli said. About 200 rock anchors descend at most 100 feet (30 meters) into the underlying bedrock to provide a deep foundation.

Steinway Tower has a long history as the former location of Steinway Hall, constructed in 1924. JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group bought the building in 2013, and now they’re looking to the future.

“What I’m hoping is that 50 years from now, you’ve only known New York with 111 West 57th St.,” Pasquarelli said. “I hope it holds a special place in all future New Yorkers’ hearts.” ___

AP contributor Aron Ranen contributed to this report.

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