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NASA, SpaceX to Launch First Astronauts to Space Station from U.S. Since 2011

A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 3:22 p.m. EDT May 30, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, for an extended stay at the space station for the Demo-2 mission. The specific duration of the mission is to be determined.

As the final flight test for SpaceX, this mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities. This also will be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit.

Behnken will be the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights. Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, and he performed three spacewalks during each mission. Born in St. Anne, Missouri, he has bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University and earned a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from California Institute of Technology. Before joining NASA, Behnken was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.

Hurley will be the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights. Hurley served as pilot and lead robotics operator for both STS‐127 in July 2009 and STS‐135, the final space shuttle mission, in July 2011. The New York native was born in Endicott but considers Apalachin his hometown. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tulane University in Louisiana and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland. Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lifting off from Launch Pad 39A atop a specially instrumented Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will accelerate its two passengers to approximately 17,000 mph and put it on an intercept course with the International Space Station. Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control will verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system and the maneuvering thrusters, among other things. In about 24 hours, Crew Dragon will be in position to rendezvous and dock with the space station. The spacecraft is designed to do this autonomously but astronauts aboard the spacecraft and the station will be diligently monitoring approach and docking and can take control of the spacecraft if necessary.

After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew. They will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.

Although the Crew Dragon being used for this flight test can stay in orbit about 110 days, the specific mission duration will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch. The operational Crew Dragon spacecraft will be capable of staying in orbit for at least 210 days as a NASA requirement.

Upon conclusion of the mission, Crew Dragon will autonomously undock with the two astronauts on board, depart the space station and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Upon splashdown just off Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the crew will be picked up at sea by SpaceX’s Go Navigator recovery vessel and return to Cape Canaveral.

The Demo-2 mission will be the final major step before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station. This certification and regular operation of Crew Dragon will enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place onboard the station, which benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars starting with the agency’s Artemis program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface in 2024.

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Source : https://www.nasa.gov/specials/dm2/

Elon Musk ‘overcome with emotion’ after SpaceX’s 1st astronaut launch

By Hanneke Weitering 5 hours ago

You’d be, too, when 18 years of work pays off like this.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk was choked up with emotion after his company successfully launched astronauts to space for the first time on Saturday (May 30). 

“I’m really quite overcome with emotion on this day, so it’s kind of hard to talk, frankly,” Musk said in a post-launch press conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Saturday evening. “It’s been 18 years working towards this goal, so it’s hard to believe that it’s happened.”

Musk’s comments came a few hours after SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the center’s historic Launch Complex 39A, carrying a Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board. 

By successfully launching its new Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts on board for the first time, SpaceX became the first private company to launch astronauts for NASA. The uncrewed test flight, called Demo-2, is also the first crewed launch from the United States since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. SpaceX and Boeing were both selected for NASA’s commercial crew program to wean the agency off its dependence on Russia’s Soyuz to fly  astronauts after the shuttle program was retired. 

“I think this is something that’s particularly important in the United States but appeals to everyone throughout the world who has within them the spirit of exploration,” Musk said. “This is something that I think humanity should be excited about proud of occurring on this day.”

If all goes well with the Demo-2 test flight, SpaceX will soon begin launching astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA as well as other space agencies and private companies. The first operational Crew Dragon mission, called Crew-1, could launch to the ISS as early as Aug. 30, with three NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency on board. 

This isn’t the first time SpaceX has launched a Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. Another Crew Dragon launched to the station in March 2019 for a weeklong demonstration mission called Demo-1, and there were no astronauts on board — only a test dummy named Ripley. Musk was an emotional wreck after that mission, too. 

Behnken and Hurley will arrive at the ISS Sunday morning (May 30), and the Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to autonomously dock with the orbiting lab at 10:29 a.m. EDT (1429 GMT). You can watch the docking live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.

The Demo-2 astronauts, who will be joining the three-person crew of ISS Expedition 63, will spend anywhere from one to four months at the station. SpaceX and NASA will determine the duration of their stay after they assess the condition of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in orbit as well as the Crew Dragon that will fly the Crew-1 mission this summer.

When asked about his conversations with the Demo-2 astronauts’ kids, Musk — who recently became a dad again(he has six sons) — got choked up. 

“It really hit home,” he said of the time he told their two boys that he would do everything in his power to bring their dads home safely. 

Demo-2 astronaut Doug Hurley says goodbye to his family from inside the Tesla that transported him and his crewmate Bob Behnken to the launch pad, on May 30, 2020.
Demo-2 astronaut Doug Hurley says goodbye to his family from inside the Tesla that transported him and his crewmate Bob Behnken to the launch pad, on May 30, 2020. (Image credit: NASA TV)

“I think it was an argument that the return is more dangerous in some ways than the ascent, so in order to declare victory yet, we need to bring them home safely [and] make sure that we’re doing everything we can to minimize that risk of reentry and return,” Musk said. 

You can watch the Demo-2 mission live here and on Space.com’s homepage through docking tomorrow (May 31).

  • Trump hails SpaceX’s 1st astronaut launch success for NASA
  • Here’s what SpaceX’s 1st astronaut launch looked like from space (photo)
  • SpaceX just launched 2 astronauts into orbit. What’s next for the NASA crew?

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.MORE ABOUT…SpaceX’s 1st Crew Dragon with astronauts to dock at space station today. Here’s how to watch.Watch live! SpaceX Crew Dragon headed to space stationSEE MORE RELATEDLATESTAstronauts name SpaceX spaceship ‘Endeavour’ after retired shuttleSEE MORE LATEST SEE ALL COMMENTS (0)Advertisement


Watch a SpaceX Rocket Generate 2 Sonic Booms and Land in This Amazing VideoReturning from space, barreling through Earth’s thick atmosphere and ultimately settling gently onto a tiny landing pad is still a jaw-dropping achievement for a rocket, as a newly released SpaceX video makes very clear.Space

Source ; https://www.space.com/elon-musk-emotional-spacex-astronaut-launch.html

SpaceX, NASA make history with first launch of astronauts from US soil in years We have liftoff for the Demo-2 mission.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (right) and Doug Hurley sit in a Tesla after walking out of the Operations and Checkout Building on their way to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Welcome to space history, SpaceX Crew Dragon.

Elon Musk’s space company passed the crucial first part of its final test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program on Saturday. The Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully launched atop a fiery Falcon 9 rocket from Florida with two NASA astronauts on board.

he crewed Demo-2 mission is a human-spaceflight first for SpaceX. It also marks the return of astronaut launches from US soil for the first time since the end of the shuttle era in 2011. 

Now playing: NASA astronauts are about to fly a spacecraft using only… 4:17

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are now on their way to visit the International Space Station, where they’re scheduled to dock at 7:27 a.m. PT on Sunday morning. NASA TV is providing coverage of the mission and will livestream the arrival activities. 

“It was incredible. Appreciate all the hard work. Thanks for the great ride to space,” the crew said after reaching orbit about 12 minutes into the flight.  

The Falcon 9 booster used to propel Crew Dragon successfully returned for a clean landing on SpaceX’s Of Course I Still Love You droneship. 

The coronavirus pandemic didn’t slow down the launch schedule as NASA and SpaceX adjusted their working protocols and monitored the astronauts during a pre-flight quarantine period.

Scenes of SpaceX launching NASA astronauts into orbit, moment by moment



SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people spaced themselves apart using social distancing recommendations while witnessing the launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch

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“Our country has been through a lot. But this is a unique moment when all of America can take a moment and look at our country do something stunning again, and that is to launch American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil to the space station,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a briefing on Tuesday.

This might be the first big step for Demo-2, but there’s more to come. After spending time on the ISS, Behnken and Hurley will return to Earth inside Crew Dragon to complete the mission. If all goes smoothly, SpaceX will start regular operational Crew Dragon missions, a sign that NASA will no longer need to rely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the ISS.

All systems go for SpaceX and NASA in historic astronaut launch

 See all photos

SpaceX's Dragon

SpaceX Demo-2 lanuch

SpaceX Demo-2 lanuch


Discuss: SpaceX, NASA make history with first launch of astronauts from US soil in years

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SpaceX, NASA scrub historic Demo-2 launch due to weather

The first crewed flight of the SpaceX Dragon could launch this weekend — but weather conditions still appear unfavorable.


SpaceX and NASA will need to wait for their historic launch to the International Space Station after inclement weather postponed the first crewed flight of the Dragon Wednesday. 

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were supposed to launch from Florida aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:33 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Hans Koenigsmann, a vice president at SpaceX, said earlier in the week that preparations were complete, but to get off the ground, the team would need “the weather gods … working with us.” 

Watch this: NASA astronauts are about to fly a spacecraft using only… 4:17

The weather gods, it seemed, had other plans. Demo-2 was down to about 17 minutes before launch when SpaceX and NASA officially called it off. 

“We did have to scrub because of [the] weather,” the SpaceX team announced during its live webcast. “To be more specific we were still in violation of one of the weather criterias: the strength of electric fields in the atmosphere.”

We needed a little bit more time if we were going to clear that launch weather constraint.”

Falcon 9 and Dragon had an instantaneous launch window, so SpaceX weren’t able to hold the count and wait until the weather passed. The fuel used to propel the rocket cannot sit in the booster on the pad, where it warms up and can affect performance, and the ISS orbits the Earth — so any hold would affect the ability to essentially aim Crew Dragon at the space station.

All in all that means we’ve got another few days of anticipation and hype-building to come.

There are two backup launch times available over the weekend. SpaceX has said the next window opens at 12:22 p.m. PT (3:22 p.m. ET) on Saturday, May 30, and a subsequent window will open at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) on Sunday, May 31. 

The weather could again be a factor, with recent reports from the 45th Weather Squadron showing only a 40% chance of favorable weather for both backup launch times.

To find out how you can (hopefully) watch the launch this weekend, head to CNET’s launch guide for everything you need to know.

All systems go for SpaceX and NASA in historic astronaut launch

SpaceX's Dragon

SpaceX Demo-2 lanuch

SpaceX Demo-2 lanuch


Crew Dragon lifted off at the scheduled time of 12:22 p.m. PT.  

Source : https://www.cnet.com/news/spacex-nasa-scrub-historic-demo-2-launch-due-to-weather/

Amazon Will Take Robot Cars to a Whole New Level

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Amazon.com Inc.’s interest in acquiring a self-driving car pioneer is the prime example (pun intended) of how expectations for driverless vehicles have been recalibrated.

The e-commerce giant is in advanced talks to buy Zoox Inc. for less than the $3.2 billion at which it was valued in 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Given the California-based startup’s approach to autonomous cars, its fate is particularly instructive.

In a very crowded field, Zoox was practically alone in aiming to build a whole new kind of electric-powered vehicle, and to operate the fleet itself. Peers such as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, General Motors Co.’s Cruise unit, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG’s joint venture Argo AI, and Aurora Innovations Inc. have focused solely on developing the self-driving technology that could subsequently be fitted into vehicles.

Back in 2015, that seemed like an attractive proposition. If the triple threat to the automotive industry was autonomous technology, electric drivetrains and ride-hailing, why not embrace all three? After all, there were expectations that by 2020 robotaxis would ferry you around the world’s metropolises. Capital flowed into self-driving car startups, typified by the $1 billion GM spent acquiring Cruise in 2016.

Those dreams, needless to say, have failed to materialize. Companies that had aimed to jump straight to the fourth of five levels of autonomy have quietly downshifted. (The first level of self-driving encompasses driver-assistance functions such as cruise control, and the fifth is full automation.) Bloomberg New Energy Finance doesn’t expect vehicles with Level Four automation to start gaining traction until 2034. Even then, they will likely represent just 831,000 of the 95 million-unit global car market that year.

What’s more, the expense of developing, building and operating a fleet of self-driving cars would be considerable. Even deep-pocketed Alphabet and GM have sought outside investment for their efforts. Established carmakers are meanwhile focusing their capital on electric cars, a more imminent threat. And owning and operating a fleet is expensive too. Zoox had a tough sell to investors: In 15 years’ time, it might have been an attractive business.

Which brings us to Amazon. Even if robotaxis aren’t coming any time soon, there are alternative applications for autonomous technology that fall squarely in the Seattle-based firm’s wheelhouse, namely, logistics. Given Amazon’s shipping costs are set to hit $90 billion a year, tech from Zoox could help save $20 billion in shipping costs, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. Its solutions could be used across warehousing and distribution. Buying Zoox could take Amazon’s other moves in this field — an existing investment in Aurora and experiments with self-driving truck specialist Embark and electric vanmaker Rivian — to a whole new level.

Amazon has become the fantasy acquirer for any number of companies seeking a soft landing: theater chains, brick-and-mortar retailers, food deliverers, mobile carriers, real estate brokers, dental suppliers, film studios and plenty more besides.

Sometimes, just sometimes, those deals make sense. Zoox is one of them.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe’s technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.

Source : https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/amazon-will-take-robot-cars-to-a-whole-new-level

Electric vehicles next wave to drive Alabama’s auto-manufacturing success

Alabama has long been a leader in the automotive manufacturing sector in the United States and, now, we have the opportunity to sustain that momentum for years to come through significant investments in the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

Dating back to 1993 when Mercedes-Benz announced their opening of their only U.S.-based assembly plant in Tuscaloosa County, our state has continued to provide a favorable business climate that has helped recruit Hyundai, Honda, Toyota and Mazda. The substantial investments of these companies have only furthered economic activity through the numerous tier 1 and tier 2 automotive suppliers that have also located to our state.

Combined, these Alabama-based automakers and suppliers produced nearly 1.6 million engines in 2018 and created over 40,000 automotive manufacturing jobs. Alabama currently ranks as the number three auto exporting state in the country, and exports of Alabama-made vehicles and parts totaled $7.5 billion in 2018.

Now, as we continue toward a 21st century transportation system and economy, we must acknowledge – and prepare for – the electric vehicle wave that is coming.

Significant research shows that consumer interest in electric vehicles is exponentially on the rise and so is the production of EVsby manufacturers. Globally, total EV sales surpassed 1 million vehicles in 2017, then quickly doubled to cruise past 2 million in 2018 and that number is expected to double again in 2020 to reach 4 million total sales. According to a Deloitte report, it is expected that global EV sales will top 21 million by 2031.

In recognition of the growth in EV sales, Mercedes-Benz broke ground in the fall of 2018 in Bibb County to build a plant producing high-voltage batteries for the all-electric EQ brand of Mercedes vehicles, as well as batteries for Mercedes hybrid plug-ins. This project alone is well over a billion-dollar investment in Bibb County and, with it, Mercedes has now invested more than $6 billion in its operations here in the state.

We know that expanding EV sales and production in Alabama will require a number of investments from the industry, the legislature and eventually the consumers of this state. To cement our reputation as a forward-leaning automotive leader, we must prepare for the future of electric vehicles, production of electric vehicles parts and ensure the necessary EV infrastructure is in place to be competitive for generations. Doing so will show that our state supports this burgeoning sector of automotive manufacturing and help recruit even more of these projects that will provide numerous high-paying jobs and produce significant economic benefits.

The Rebuild Alabama Infrastructure Plan, approved legislatively in 2019, provided a foundational first step as it included a provision that helps propel Alabama toward the cutting-edge of EV infrastructure. The landmark legislation established a grant program that proactively facilitates the installation of new EV charging stations across the state. These stations will supplement the Electrify America charging stations currently being installed in the state and add to Alabama’s EV infrastructure.

Additionally, the full body of the state Senate and our colleagues in the House have shown a commitment to the expansion of EV production in Alabama with a $2 million investment in this year’s budgets to educate and promote the use of electric vehicles to the public. We believe this will further Alabama’s reputation as a premier automotive manufacturing state as these funds will go toward developing an EV industry educational website with mapping of charging stations and other useful resources, as well as funding to further build out Alabama’s EV charging infrastructure.

Mercedes-Benz has been a game changer for our state. With their initial investment in 1993 to their significant investments in EV batteries, it’s clear the electric vehicle wave is coming and, with it, significant opportunities for automotive manufacturing growth in Alabama. Now is the time for us to show our state’s ongoing ingenuity by supporting this sector’s transformation to electric vehicle production with these significant investments and overall support of the growing EV industry.

Source : https://www.al.com/opinion/2020/05/electric-vehicles-next-wave-to-drive-alabamas-auto-manufacturing-success.html

Source : https://www.al.com/opinion/2020/05/electric-vehicles-next-wave-to-drive-alabamas-auto-manufacturing-success.html

FAQs for Electric Vehicle Shoppers We answer your questions about charging, which EVs have the most range, cost of operation, tax credits, and every electric vehicle model currently on the market.

It’s only taken about 120 years, but electric vehicles are becoming viable competitors to gasoline-powered automobiles. Virtually every automaker now either offers one or more EVs or has them coming soon. Several independent EV manufacturers have sprung up seemingly overnight to challenge both Tesla and the long-established carmakers. Battery technology is improving steadily, and EVs are becoming more affordable. Charging networks have grown across the country that make both daily driving and long-distance travel in EVs feasible, if not entirely convenient. If you’re thinking of purchasing an EV or just want to know all about them, we’ve pulled together this list of frequently asked questions and done the investigative homework to answer them for you. Everything you need to know about EVs is right here.

  1. What’s the Real Story on EV Range?
    When it comes to electric vehicles, range is the all-important stat. Whether or not you make it to the next public-charging spot, are able to complete your daily commute, or are instead stranded on the side of the road depends on it. The EPA rates range for EVs just like it does fuel economy for gas cars. We test that range in the real world. Here’s what you need to know about range, what affects it, and what you can expect from your EV.


EV Range: Everything You Need to Know

  1. How Does EV Charging Work?
    Navigating the EV world is like traveling in a foreign country for the first time. It can seem unnerving until you’ve learned your way around and gotten familiar with the local customs. To live comfortably with an EV in America, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of charging: how charging stations work, how you purchase the electricity to refill your EV’s battery, and where to find those recharge locations around the country. Here’s how it all works.


Where to Find EV Chargers and How to Use Them

  1. Which EVs Have the Longest Range?

How far will it go? That’s the single most important question anyone considering an EV wants the answer to. It’s a generally accepted fact that most EVs can’t be driven nearly as far on a single charge as most gas-powered car can go on a tank of fuel. And EV batteries can’t be rejuiced in the five minutes it takes to top up a car’s tank at a gas station. So, if you’re thinking about buying an EV, you want to know what your choices are, starting with range. We have your answers right here: every currently available EV model ranked by its EPA combined driving range, from worst to best.


EV Range Ranked From Worst to Best

  1. How Do EV Tax Credits Work?
    EV tax credits are nonrefundable federal tax credits available to purchasers of vehicles with a battery propulsion system that draws power from an external power source. In other words, both pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids qualify. The federal government has been offering a $7500 credit since 2010, and most carmakers’ EVs are still eligible for it. The credits earned depend on a variety of factors and are used to decrease taxes you owe in a given year. They can bring down the price of an EV significantly, so you need to know about how to apply for and receive them.

5. How Long Does it Take to Charge an EV?

Whether you plan on using your EV for local, daily driving, or longer cross-state treks, recharging time is going to have a significant impact on how you use your time behind the wheel. Refilling a depleted battery pack takes more time than topping up your gasoline-powered car’s tank. But how much more time? And why does that differ depending on where you choose to charge it up? Here’s what to expect when you plug in your EV. EV CHARGING BASICSVariables That Affect Charging Time

6. What Are My EV Choices?

There are 14 electric vehicles on the market today and plenty more coming soon. Here’s the full list of on-sale models, and a preview of what’s in store in the months ahead. CURRENT AND FUTURE EVS FOR SALEGuide to Every EV for Sale in the U.S.Every Electric Pickup Truck on the Horizon

7. Are There Any Great Lease Deals on EVs Due to Slow Car Sales?

Car sales are dragging these days, and dealers are eager to move the metal. You’ve seen the ads for great new-car deals with deferred payments and zero-percent financing. With the price of fuel at rock bottom, there’s even less demand for EVs. Does that translate into any special deals? We’ve scoured the country to find the best lease deals on EVs. Here they are. MORE ON EV LEASE DEALSElectric Vehicle Lease Deals

8. Can I Buy a CPO EV?

Any Certified Pre-Owned car, SUV, or truck offers numerous positives, from an extended factory-backed warranty to the repair of any defects before the vehicle is sold by a participating dealer. Here’s what to know about CPO programs, including a list that connects you to every automaker’s CPO program with a single click. ALL ABOUT CERTIFIED PRE-OWNED EVSBuying a CPO EV Makes A Lot of SenseHere’s Every Automaker’s CPO Program

9. Is an EV More Expensive to Own and Operate Than a Regular Car?

EV aficionados will tell you that electric vehicles are cheaper to own and operate. EV skeptics will counter with the premium pricing of many EVs. To answer the question of whether an EV can save you money, we dig into the data and compare the cost of buying and running of a pair of EVs against their gasoline counterparts—including purchase prices, energy costs, maintenance charges, tax credits, and depreciation. COST COMPARISON: EV V GASEV vs. Gas: Which Cars Are Cheaper to Own?ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW

10. Does an EV Work for a Long Trip?

With electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure that supports them evolving and improving almost daily, has it become feasible to drive long distances comfortably in an EV? We attempt a 1046-mile round trip in our Tesla Model 3 long-term test car to find out. Here’s what we learned that just might affect your plans to buy a EV. ROAD-TRIPPING IN A TESLAIs a 1000-Mile Trip in a Tesla Model 3 Feasible?

11. How Long Have There Been EVs?

We’d bet that many people think of electric vehicles as a relatively new method of transportation, but history says otherwise. Electricity has actually been competing with gasoline—and steam—to power automobiles since the very dawn of the horseless carriage. Today’s modern EV miracles such as the Tesla Model S and the Porsche Taycan were preceded by more than a century of electric-powered automotive experiments. In this illustrated history, we’ve pulled together the most influential—and sometimes smile-inducing—EVs produced during the past 120 years. EVS THROUGH TIME: A KOOKY HISTORYMost Influential EVs: An Illustrated History

12. Can I Ask a Really Dumb Question about EVs?

Sure you can. Here are a handful of them that are actually not so dumb at all. And we answer them, too. 

Source : https://www.caranddriver.com/shopping-advice/a32668797/ev-faqs/

SpaceX and NASA postpone historic astronaut launch due to bad weather


  • SpaceX postponed its historic first astronaut launch on Wednesday due to severe weather in the Kennedy Space Center region.
  • The mission, called Demo-2, represents the first time SpaceX is attempting to launch NASA astronauts.
  • The launch had attracted a full cadre of VIPs, with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump both flying down to Florida.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — With just under 17 minutes to go, SpaceX decided to postpone its historic first astronaut launch on Wednesday due to severe weather in the region.

The launch director announced the Demo-2 mission was a scrub out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the crew on board. It would have been the first time NASA astronauts launched with SpaceX and the first time NASA has launched its own crew since 2011.

NASA and SpaceX had closely watched weather conditions throughout the day, as local thunderstorms passed through the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Additionally, severe weather off the coast of South Carolina was a factor that launch directors were monitoring, as conditions on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean could affect the spacecraft in the event of an abort mid-launch.

Before the weather delay, the SpaceX countdown was smooth and without technical hurdles or hitches for an estimated launch time of 4:33 p.m. ET. The rocket has to launch at a specific time because it needs to send the spacecraft on a trajectory that will meet the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth.

The company will try again to launch the Demo-2 mission on Saturday at 3:22 p.m. ET.

In a tweet, NASA said, “we are not going to launch today.”

“Due to the weather conditions, the launch is scrubbing,” NASA wrote. “Our next opportunity will be Saturday, May 30 at 3:22pm ET.”

The launch had attracted a full cadre of VIPs, with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump both flying down to Florida to watch the mission in person. Several members of Elon Musk’s family had joined him in the mission control room to watch, as well.

The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing is giving a 60% probability of favorable weather on Saturday.

Source : https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/27/spacex-and-nasa-postpone-historic-astronaut-launch-due-to-bad-weather.html

Autonomous cars could revolutionise transport for disabled people – if we change the way we design

The move towards driverless cars isn’t just a chance for people to relax at the wheel. It’s an opportunity to revolutionise personal transport in a way that offers life-changing benefits to people with disabilities.

But for this to happen, we need the car industry to commit to more inclusive design practices that right now are widely absent, and overcome the challenges of designing new ways to interact with autonomous vehicles. The solution could involve manufacturers drawing inspiration from diverse areas of product design to get the balance right between style and real-world user-friendliness.

The term “inclusive design” is used to describe the consideration of the needs and abilities of a diverse range of people in the design process. The car industry has traditionally focused on designing for people with driving licences – who by definition tend to be the more able-bodied section of the population.

Yet people with disabilities make up a significant minority – 22% of people in the UK (13.9 million) as of 2016-17. Many of these people may be unable to drive today’s cars, whether due to issues such as sight loss, significant physical impairments or cognitive issues.

Having a disability and being reliant on public transport is fraught with difficulties. And having trouble getting around is key among the barriers disabled people cite as stopping them taking greater part in society, whether visiting friends and family or joining a club. 

Anyone who has had to have a difficult conversation with an older relative, encouraging them to give up driving often because of cognitive or physical decline, will understand what this can mean. So making transport more accessible is key to enabling people to improve their quality of life – whether through better economic opportunities, less social isolation or restoring dignity.

While autonomous cars will increasingly take away the need for people to physically drive the vehicles, there are other barriers to disabled people using cars that need to be considered. Simply getting in and out of vehicles presents difficulties to many people with physical disabilities – not just wheelchair users – and to many older people as muscle strength decreases with age. This makes thoughtful design touches such as grab handles and side steps widely beneficial. 

Autonomous cars will provide an opportunity for a complete design overhaul. Coventry University, Author provided

Operating features that require significant effort, such as folding car seats or tailgates, can be difficult so it’s essential they are designed to work with a reasonable level of force using handles and large contact surfaces. Seat belts also present difficulties as they can be difficult to reach and insert. Restraint systems need a fresh look and a redesign using inclusive design principles to ensure they can be easily used by all in the population. 

And for those who are wheelchair users, a simple, easy-to-use restraint system is also required. That’s assuming there’s a well-designed ramp, lowered floor and appropriate space for the wheelchair user to first enter the vehicle.

Self-driving cars will also introduce new challenges, such as the need for interfaces to enable passengers to select a destination or receive information about their journey. To cater for disabled people, they can’t be reliant on only one type of input or feedback. Visual displays may not be suitable for some passengers, just as voice input may be inappropriate for others.

Yet, despite the considerable discussion and resources going into changing personal transport through the development of self-driving cars, there’s little evidence that inclusive design is a major part of the process. This includes from regulators, who are updating their codes to accommodate trials of autonomous vehicles, but apparently without considering how vehicle design could benefit people with disabilities.

Including inclusive design

It’s not difficult to design accessible cars if the needs and capabilities of a diverse population are considered early in the design process. A few car makers have adopted this philosophy, for example, Ford uses a “third age suit” that simulates the limited mobility, vision and sense of touch that many older people experience. 

This helps the firm’s engineers and designers to get those important details right, such as their 360-degree door handlesthat allow the door to be easily opened from the outside using the the whole arm and hand, rather than pull-up handles that require the fingers and wrist to operate them. 

Similarly, firms in other sectors have already found ways to develop accessible interfaces. Samsung’s work in producing smart TVs accessible for blind and partially sighted people received the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s Inclusive Society Award. The TV can read on-screen text back to the user and provides verbal feedback about the channel, volume and programme information. It even reads aloud the on-screen programme guide. 

The car industry has a choice to make: business class travel for a select few, or truly accessible transport for the wider population, offering dignity and an enhanced quality of life to those who face significant challenges everyday. I know which I prefer.

  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Automotive industry
  • Driverless cars
  • Car design
  • People with disabilites
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Source : https://theconversation.com/autonomous-cars-could-revolutionise-transport-for-disabled-people-if-we-change-the-way-we-design-137684

Source : https://theconversation.com/autonomous-cars-could-revolutionise-transport-for-disabled-people-if-we-change-the-way-we-design-137684

Volkswagen will only sell its ID electric cars online

A new ‘agency’ model should make buying an EV more straightforward.

A new ‘agency’ model should make buying an EV more straightforward

Volkswagen is switching up the way it sells its electric vehicles. The company’s dealerships will no longer be the primary point of sale for the ID family of EVs — instead, they will assume the role of an “agent” that facilitates the sale.

If you’re in the market for a VW EV, you can now place an order directly with Volkswagen and choose your preferred dealer. Instead of giving you the hard sell when you walk into the dealership, the dealer will now be focused on organizing test drives, facilitating the transaction and making sure you get the keys to your new wheels without a hitch. The price of the vehicle, plus the dealership’s commission, is fixed, which will bring some financial relief to dealers, too.

The new system — which is being adopted by all of VW’s retail partners across the globe — will roll out first in Europe next month, with the launch of the ID.3. It represents another way that EVs are ultimately reshaping the automotive industry, and should help to maximize EV sales, too — removing the dealership from the equation should make the purchase process a lot more straightforward, particularly as EV-buyers tend to already know what they want.

Source : https://www.engadget.com/volkswagen-will-only-sell-its-id-electric-cars-online-104048481.html

How the American Auto Industry Is ‘Reopening’ Today

Masks, partitions, fewer shifts, temperature checks—and a lot of nervous workers. 

PATRICK GEORGEView Patrick George’s Articlestwitter.com/@bypatrickgeorge

Good morning and welcome back to Speed Lines, The Drive’s a.m. roundup of what matters in the world of transportation. It’s May 18, and that means today marks the cautious, tepid reopening of many of America’s automotive factories. Let’s dive right into all of that.

The Restart Begins

After being idled since March, more than 50 Big Three automotive plants—in Detroit, Chicago, New York, Missouri, Ohio and more—are opening their doors today and allowing workers back in. It won’t be full steam ahead for many reasons we’re about to discuss, but this is the restart day for Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler in North America. (Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of who’s back.) In previous weeks, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and more have restarted their U.S. plants as well; now it’s time for the American automakers to do the same. 

This is a big deal for obvious reasons. The global auto industry has been battered by the pandemic and its subsequent stay-at-home orders and economic downturn, and while some buyers have taken advantage of big deals on trucks and SUVs, sales and profits for all automakers have been abysmal. Dealer supplies are beginning to run low for trucks, especially. And factory workers, salespeople and everyone else whose livelihood.

depends on this industry have bills to pay. 

But this restart is also a major test of whether large-scale American manufacturing can be done safely, without reinfections, worker deaths and supply chain disruptions. As a result, this will be “a slow and arduous process,” as the Wall Street Journal put it today. 

GM says it will take at least four weeks to return to full production, and its output will be dependent on buyer demand. Ford’s operations chief Jim Farley said Thursday he isn’t sure when the company’s U.S. factories will resume full output. 

Automakers in all are expected to produce fewer than nine million vehicles in the U.S. this year, the lowest output since 2011, according to industry research firm LMC Automotive.

Some car companies are taking pains to reassure staff that protection is paramount. GM last week sent care packages to all of its nearly 100,000 factory and office U.S. employees, complete with face masks, return-to-work information and a letter from Chief Executive Mary Barra.

Those workers will return to a markedly different atmosphere than the one they left. FCA, for example, has a rundown of everything it’s doing: daily cleanings, daily temperature checks, mandatory masks and goggles, plastic partitions on the assembly lines and in break rooms to separate workers, some 17,000 workstations modified for distancing, thermal imaging cameras to detect fevers and equipment packages mailed to 47,000 employees. GM and Ford are, of course, taking similar measures.

It’s all very aggressive, and a lot of it is gleaned from precautions taken at Asian factories when that region was the epicenter for the virus earlier this year. Still, it’s a scary proposition for workers.

How Do Workers Feel?

One UAW Local president says “Some people are looking forward to coming back and some people are concerned. It’s a balance between the two,” according to the Detroit Free Press. But I can’t imagine there are many people who are doing this without at least some trepidation. As another story from the paper notes, the Detroit area, to use just one example, has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. It’s one of the worst U.S. regions for it after New York. And the industry itself has seen numerous workers die of COVID-19 in recent months. 

So while factory workers have bills to pay the same as anyone, many are understandably nervous:

The rest said it was too soon or talked about the loss of life from COVID-19. At this plant alone, where the popular, older version of the Ram 1500 pickup is built, the toll has been tragic, with four dead, although it’s not known where any of them contracted the virus.

Jay Peebles of Roseville, who installs seats, worried about his 4-month-old daughter, Jasmine.

“I just think I should be home with my family, my wife, with my child. I don’t think building a truck is going to save lives right now, you know what I mean? But we’ve got to make money so …” Peebles said.

“(My wife) don’t like that I’m back here already this soon, when we’ve lost people at this exact plant. Multiple people. I knew a few of them,” he said, noting that he’s lost people in his family, too, grandparents. 

Auto industry officials point to the success they’ve had instituting these measures in China and South Korea. But cleanings and screenings had better run like a military operation for this to work.

The Supplier Problem

Finally, I’ll reiterate that this “restart” won’t be an overnight move back to 100 percent production capacity. Besides the slowness needed to ensure worker safety, and shaky consumer demand for new cars as unemployment skyrockets, there’s also the fact that the entire supply chain has been disrupted for months. Many supplier companies lack materials and orders to call back their workers, so plants will be left without parts needed to make cars. And there’s the fact that Mexico, whose factories make some 40 percent of car parts imported to the U.S., hasn’t reopened yet. 

As that WSJ story I linked to above notes, at least one plant—a Daimler plant in Alabama—will have to halt production this week again over issues with international supplier companies. The interconnected, globalized model of building modern cars is great for cutting costs, but in this case, its complexity is more a liability than anything else.


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  • Source : https://www.thedrive.com/news/33512/how-the-american-auto-industry-is-reopening-today