Apr 15, 2017

Why you might start hearing about genetically modified astronauts

Terry Renna / AP

Don't take my word for it — check out this piece that posted today from MIT Technology Review, that shameless clickbait factory. No, it's not something that's happening right now, and the piece doesn't give any evidence that NASA is actively considering it. But it is something that a few scientists are starting to think about — because it might be a way to solve some of the health hazards of long-term space travel:

  • You can't send people to Mars without radiating them to a crisp.
  • That's one of the biggest problems to solve if people ever want to visit Mars, other than how to physically get there.
  • But what if someone could be genetically re-engineered to be radiation-proof?

Yes, but: Where to begin? It's a long way off, sort of far-fetched, and it raises all of the ethical concerns scientists are already worrying about with gene editing. But some futurists say they should make an exception for space travel. "You can't send someone to another planet without genetically protecting them if you are able to," said Weill Cornell Medicine's Christopher Mason, one scientist who's thinking about it. "That would also be unethical."

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Airline industry braces for a forever-changed world

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The airline industry got a $58 billion lifeline in the coronavirus federal aid package. But the path is unclear for these companies, whose operations and prospects will be forever changed by the global pandemic.

Why it matters: People may want to minimize travel for the foreseeable future. Investors, analysts and industry watchers are trying to determine how much airlines will need to spend — and how much more in lost revenue they'll see — while they adapt to the new reality.

Trump denies seeing Navarro memos warning about toll of coronavirus

President Trump said at a press briefing Tuesday that he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning in January and February that the coronavirus crisis could kill more than half a million Americans and cost close to $6 trillion.

Why it matters: Trump insisted that despite not seeing the memos, he did "more or less" what Navarro suggested by banning non-U.S. citizens from traveling from China effective Feb. 2.

Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship

Thomas Modly. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday after apologizing for comments he made about Capt. Brett Crozier, who was removed when a letter he wrote pleading with the Navy to address the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt was leaked to the press. The resignation was first reported by Politico.

Why it matters: The controversy over Crozier's removal was exacerbated after audio leaked of Modly's address to the crew, in which he said Crozier was either "too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this." After initially backing Modly's decision, President Trump said at a briefing Monday that he would "get involved."

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