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SpaceX gets ready to launch first all-civilian crew to orbit

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(Last Updated On: September 12, 2021)

Yet another billionaire entrepreneur is set to ride into space this week, strapped inside the capsule of a SpaceX rocketship, as part of an Astro-tourist team, poised to make history as the first all-civilian crew launched into Earth orbit.

Jared Isaacman, the American founder and chief executive of e-commerce firm Shift4 Payments, will lead three fellow spaceflight novices on a trip expected to last three days from blastoff at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to splashdown in the Atlantic.

The 38-year-old tech mogul has plunked down an unspecified but presumably exorbitant sum to fellow billionaire and SpaceX owner Elon Musk to fly Isaacman and three specially selected travel mates into orbit aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

The crew vehicle is set for blastoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center atop one of Musk’s reusable Falcon 9 rockets, with a 24-hour targeted launch window that opens at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT) on Wednesday. That window will be narrowed or possibly altered a few days before, depending on the weather.

Dubbed Inspiration4, the orbital outing was conceived by Isaacman primarily to raise awareness and support for one of his favorite causes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a leading pediatric cancer center. He has pledged $100 million personally to the institute.

But a successful mission would also help usher in a new era of commercial space tourism, with several companies vying for wealthy customers willing to pay a small fortune to experience the exhilaration of supersonic flight, weightlessness and the visual spectacle of space.

Setting acceptable levels of consumer risk in the inherently dangerous endeavor of rocket travel is also key and raises a pointed question.

“Do you have to be both rich and brave to get on these flights right now?” said Sridhar Tayur, a professor of operations management and new business models at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, in an interview with Reuters on Friday (September 10).

Inspiration4 officials stress that the mission is more than a joyride. Once in orbit, the crew will perform medical experiments with “potential applications for human health on Earth and during future spaceflights,” the group said in its press materials.

“There is a certain amount of frivolousness and ego in it. But I also believe that we have moved in our understanding of science and our capability and technologies because people have taken these kinds of extraordinary risks. I mean, that is the human endeavor to push the limits,” Tayur said.

The SpaceX flight is designed to carry its four passengers where no all-civilian crew has gone before – into Earth orbit.

There, they will circle the globe once every 90 minutes at more than 17,000 miles per hour, or roughly 22 times the speed of sound. The target altitude is 575 kilometers, or nearly 360 miles high, beyond the orbits of the International Space Station or even the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Inspiration4 crew will have no part to play in operating their spacecraft, despite some largely honorary titles, though two members – Isaacman and geoscientist Sian Proctor – are licensed pilots.

Rounding out the crew are “chief medical officer” Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a bone cancer survivor turned St. Jude physicians’ assistant, and mission “specialist” Chris Sembroski, 42, a U.S. Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer.

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Three national snooker team players off to good start in world champs

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

Afghanistan’s National Snooker Team has gotten off to a good start in this year’s Six-Red World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

National team member Raees Khan Sindzai won his first match against his opponent from Ukraine ending with a score of 5-4.

Sindzai also defeated his Iraqi rival 5-4 in his second match and his next game will be against Bahrain.

Saleh Mohammad Mohammadi, another Afghan team member, beat his Egyptian rival 5-0 but lost his second match to his Belgian opponent, 4-5.

His third game will be against Palestine.

The Six-Red World Championships comes just days after the three team members took part in the Asian Snooker Championships, which were also held in Doha.

The tournaments are part of three major billiards and snooker events – including the GCC Billiards and Snooker tournament – organised by the Qatar Billiards and Snooker Federation.

It is the first time a country hosts these three major championships in succession, separated by only a few days.

The competitions started with the Asian championship from September 12 to 16, then the Six-Red World Championship from September 17 to 21. This championship will be followed by the GCC Billiards and Snooker Championship from September 22 to 28.

President of the International Snooker Federation and Executive Director of the Qatar Federation, Mubarak Al Khayarin, described Qatar’s hosting of the World and Asian Championships as a great challenge, especially after stopping nearly two years of activity due to the repercussions of the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Qatar’s The Peninsula reported.

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Three brothers killed in Paktia in dispute over land

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

Three members of one family were killed and one more wounded in a clash in eastern Paktia province, local officials said Sunday.

According to Islamic Emirate officials, the clash happened between two families in Shakar Khel village in Gardez city, the provincial capital, on Saturday evening.

The incident happened after an argument broke out over a land dispute between the two sides, the officials said.

The officials stated that all the victims were brothers.

Mawlawi Hemat, police chief of Gardez PD1, stated that three members of one family have been arrested in connection with the incident.

He said Islamic Emirate forces are investigating and hope to arrest the other culprits.

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Kabul municipality drawing up service plans, order removal of T-walls

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

The acting head of Kabul municipality on Sunday ordered the removal of the city’s blast walls and said plans are being drawn up to address urban challenges and to provide effective services.

Addressing a press conference in Kabul, Mawlawi Hamdullah Nomani said the removal of barriers and concrete walls is a part of the plan going forward

Mawlawi Nomani said that the construction of high rise buildings and usurpation of land are challenges that will be addressed in future.

“Investigations about buildings and land grabbing, which were [prone to] corruption will be addressed. We will not allow this, people cannot misuse this. We will investigate this when all institutions resume work,” said Mawlawi Nomani.

According to him, the Islamic Emirate will urge donors to complete projects that have stopped in the past month.

“We are in contact with donors of 100 projects that have now stopped. We have not received a positive or negative answer about the fate of the projects,” he said.

Mawlawi Nomani also said that the removal of barriers and concrete blast walls will be completed soon.

“We will remove barriers that spoil the city, most of these were placed by security institutions. We are telling people who erected barriers to remove them, otherwise we will remove them and the people will have to pay municipality expenses,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of concrete walls, known in Kabul as T-walls, have for years spoilt the look of the city.

Almost everywhere you look in the Afghan capital, you see these tall, thick walls, which range in height from three to seven metres, that surround homes, businesses, schools, embassies and government compounds.

Over the years demand was high and as more walls went up, traffic problems increased as roads were all too often blocked when new walls went up.

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