Tag Archives: Mark Kelly

China a major investor in World View

It appears that one of the major financial backers of the Arizona-based high-altitude balloon company World View is a Chinese investment company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

World View’s long-time investors include Tencent Holdings, a Chinese tech company that operates the WeChat messaging and social media service that is among the world’s largest. And like other tech companies in China, it has close working ties to the ruling Communist Party in Beijing. Tencent has sought to expand its relations with American tech firms, a move that has raised national security concerns that the Chinese government could be surreptitiously gathering information using American technology.

Hartman [World View CEO] said that isn’t happening, noting the Pentagon’s Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency examined the company last year to ensure its work was secure from foreign interference. The agency cleared World View to handle work for the military.

Tencent has “zero access, zero input and zero control,” Hartman said.

The article at the link is focused mostly on the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Arizona, Mark Kelly, and his ties to World View with its Chinese investor. To my mind the World View links are more important, as World View under Hartman has been selling its high altitude balloons as a way to do military surveillance and reconnaissance at less cost and with more flexibility than with satellites.

Getting investment capital from China means that, despite Hartman’s reassurances, China will likely get access to this technology, either to use in its own country, or maybe even use surreptitiously in the U.S., inside a World View balloon.

As much as I really would like to see World View succeed, as long as they rely on Chinese money they should be denied any military contracts. And Kelly’s involvement as a co-founder of the company, without raising this issue himself, does suggest his focus on protecting the U.S. from foreign influence and spying is quite weak. It does indicate that he can be brought, from the highest bidder, whoever that bidder might be.

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ISS twin study suggests weightlessness stresses the body in unexpected ways

The first preliminary results from NASA’s comparison of Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days on ISS, and his twin brother Mark, who did not, suggests that weightlessness stresses the body’s genetic system in ways not previously measured.

Preliminary results are in from NASA’s unprecedented twin study — a detailed probe of the genetic differences between astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent nearly a consecutive year in space, and his identical twin Mark. Measurements taken before, during and after Scott Kelly’s mission reveal changes in gene expression, DNA methylation and other biological markers that are likely attributable to his time in orbit.

From the lengths of the twins’ chromosomes to the microbiomes in their guts, “almost everyone is reporting that we see differences”, says Christopher Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. He and other project scientists reported the early results on 26 January in Galveston, Texas, at a meeting of scientists working in NASA’s Human Research Program. “The data are so fresh that some of them are still coming off the sequencing machines,” Mason says.

It remains unclear at this point the medical consequences of these genetic changes. The data from this first experiment is still too preliminary, and it only involves looking at two people, a sample that is obviously too small. Nonetheless, it is a beginning, and of some significance.

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How scientists are using the Kelly twins during Scott Kelly’s year-long mission to ISS to learn how weightlessness effects the human body

Link here. Scott Kelly launches today to the station to begin the flight.

The article’s headline and initial focus on how the Kellys’ privacy rights might interfere with the research seems inappropriate. It is as if the author and Nature wanted to spin the story to force the Kellys to reveal private medical data they would prefer to keep private.

The real story the article tells is that an incredible wealth of knowledge about microgravity will be gained by this flight, because the Kellys are both participating. And depending on what is learned when their entire genomes are sequenced, we might also be able to study that fully as well.

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Two astronauts gear up for one year in space

The final preparations are under way for sending two astronauts, one American and one Russian, to ISS for a full year.

Their launch is scheduled for March 27 in a Soyuz capsule.

One other cool aspect of this long mission: The American astronaut, Scott Kelly, has a twin brother, Mark Kelly, who is also an astronaut, though retired. Mark will be duplicating some of Scott’s in-space activities during the mission. Doctors will also compare how Scott’s body changes in weightlessness over time, in comparison to his brother here on Earth.

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Astronaut Mark Kelly says he won’t run for political office

Astronaut Mark Kelly says he won’t run for political office, leaving politics to his wife, Gabrielle Giffords.

It was a terrible tragedy that Giffords was so seriously injured in the Tucson shooting in January. However, I am completely baffled why people think this incident has somehow elevated the qualifications of both her and her husband for higher office. How does getting shot in the head make you a better leader/executive? It is absurd. If anything, this injury should sadly force us to question her ability to continue in office. As for her husband, mere name recognition isn’t enough. I respect him for recognizing that and bowing out.

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