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Trailblazing tourist trip to orbit ends with splashdown

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Trailblazing tourist trip to orbit ends with splashdown

By MARCIA DUNN

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Four space tourists safely ended their trailblazing trip to orbit Saturday with a splashdown in the Atlantic off the Florida coast.

Their SpaceX capsule parachuted into the ocean just before sunset, not far from where their chartered flight began three days earlier.

The all-amateur crew was the first to circle the world without a professional astronaut.

The billionaire who paid undisclosed millions for the trip and his three guests wanted to show that ordinary people could blast into orbit by themselves, and SpaceX founder Elon Musk took them on as the company’s first rocket-riding tourists.

“Your mission has shown the world that space is for all of us,” SpaceX Mission Control radioed.

“It was a heck of a ride for us … just getting started,” replied trip sponsor Jared Isaacman, referring to the growing number of private flights on the horizon.

SpaceX’s fully automated Dragon capsule reached an unusually high altitude of 363 miles (585 kilometers) after Wednesday night’s liftoff. Surpassing the International Space Station by 100 miles (160 kilometers), the passengers savored views of Earth through a big bubble-shaped window added to the top of the capsule.

The four streaked back through the atmosphere early Saturday evening, the first space travelers to end their flight in the Atlantic since Apollo 9 in 1969. SpaceX’s two previous crew splashdowns — carrying astronauts for NASA — were in the Gulf of Mexico.

Within a few minutes, a pair of SpaceX boats pulled up alongside the bobbing capsule. When the hatch was opened on the recovery ship, health care worker Hayley Arceneaux was the first one out, flashing a big smile and thumbs up.

All appeared well and happy.

Next up: A helicopter ride back to shore for a reunion with their families at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, scene of their launch Wednesday night.

This time, NASA was little more than an encouraging bystander, its only tie being the Kennedy launch pad once used for the Apollo moonshots and shuttle crews, but now leased by SpaceX.

Isaacman, 38, an entrepreneur and accomplished pilot, aimed to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donating $100 million himself, he held a lottery for one of the four seats. He also held a competition for clients of his Allentown, Pennsylvania payment-processing business, Shift4 Payments.

Joining him on the flight were Arceneaux, 29, a St. Jude physician assistant who was treated at the Memphis, Tennessee hospital nearly two decades ago for bone cancer, and contest winners Chris Sembroski, 42, a data engineer in Everett, Washington, and Sian Proctor, 51, a community college educator, scientist and artist from Tempe, Arizona.

Strangers until March, they spent six months training and preparing for potential emergencies during the flight, dubbed Inspiration4. Most everything appeared to go well, leaving them time to chat with St. Jude patients, conduct medical tests on themselves, ring the closing bell for the New York Stock Exchange, and do some drawing and ukulele playing.

Arceneaux, the youngest American in space and the first with a prosthesis, assured her patients, “I was a little girl going through cancer treatment just like a lot of you, and if I can do this, you can do this.”

They also took calls from Tom Cruise, interested in his own SpaceX flight to the space station for filming, and the rock band U2′s Bono.

Even their space menu wasn’t typical: Cold pizza and sandwiches, but also pasta Bolognese and Mediterranean lamb.

Before beginning descent, Sembroski was so calm that he was seen in the capsule watching the 1987 Mel Brooks’ film “Spaceballs” on his tablet.

Aside from trouble with a toilet fan and a bad temperature sensor, the flight went exceedingly well, officials said

“A very clean mission from start to finish,” said Benji Reed, a SpaceX senior director.

Nearly 600 people have reached space — a scorecard that began 60 years ago and is expected to soon skyrocket as space tourism heats up.

Congratulations streamed in, including from the Association of Space Explorers to its four newest members.

Reed anticipates as many as six private flights a year for SpaceX, sandwiched between astronaut launches for NASA. Four SpaceX flights are already booked to carry paying customers to the space station, accompanied by former NASA astronauts. The first is targeted for early next year with three businessmen paying $55 million apiece. Russia also plans to take up an actor and film director for filming next month and a Japanese tycoon in December.

Customers interested in quick space trips are turning to Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. The two rode their own rockets to the fringes of space in July to spur ticket sales; their flights lasted 10 to 15 minutes.

___

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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Patriots-Chargers injury report: Devin McCourty not listed, 15 limited Wednesday

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50 Colo. Time dealers, Wells are auto fame inductees

Oct. 28—The Patriots listed 15 players on their initial practice report Wednesday — and that meant good news in New England.

Why?

Veteran safety Devin McCourty, who missed the second half of last Sunday’s game with an abdomen injury, was not listed. As a full participant in Wednesday’s padded practice, McCourty should be expected to play this weekend at the Chargers.

None of his teammates were absent Wednesday, including rookie corner Shaun Wade, who had missed the last three weeks with a concussion. Pats linebacker Dont’a Hightower has also recovered from the hurt elbow that contributed to him missing Sunday’s win over the Jets. He’s now only limited because of an ankle injury.

The Patriots’ complete injury report is below. The Chargers’ will be released later Wednesday evening.

Limited

C David Andrews (ankle)

LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (ribs)

WR Kendrick Bourne (shoulder)

DT Carl Davis (hand)

S Kyle Dugger (neck)

K Nick Folk (left knee)

DT Davon Godchaux (finger)

LB Dont’a Hightower (ankle)

LB Brandon King (thigh)

G Shaq Mason (abdomen)

TE Jonnu Smith (shoulder)

LB Josh Uche (shoulder)

LB Kyle Van Noy (groin)

CB Shaun Wade (concussion)

DE Deatrich Wise (knee)

(c)2021 the Boston Herald Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Omar Kelly: Dolphins players say lack of veteran leadership contributes to skid

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Omar Kelly: Dolphins players say lack of veteran leadership contributes to skid

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Last year Ryan Fitzpatrick lost his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa, the rookie quarterback the Miami Dolphins wanted to build around.

Nevertheless, the savvy veteran was still called on in emergency game situations when clutch play was needed and retained his alpha male status in the locker room, which is why he was given the Leadership Award by his teammates at the end of the 2020 season.

Ereck Flowers taught Miami’s young offensive linemen how to be pros on and off the field, and former Dolphins center Ted Karras taught them how to study film and made proper in-game protection calls.

Former Dolphins safety Bobby McCain held the secondary together, making all the coverage checks and calls, keeping the unit on one accord.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy made many of the front-line checks and got everyone in position. According to team sources, Van Noy also routinely challenged the coaching staff about troublesome game plans and in-game calls, keeping them accountable to the players.

If we’re doing a deep dive on what’s gone wrong this season with the Dolphins — attempting to explain how a 10-6 team in 2020 delivered a 1-6 start in 2021 — we have to bring up the purge of leaders that took place this offseason.

As a free agent, Fitzpatrick moved to Washington, where he was named the starter before injuring his hip in the season opener, and Tagovailoa has struggled to come out of his shadow as a leader, not player.

“He’s great, and he’s trying,” one Dolphins player said about Tagovailoa, who owns a 7-6 record as Miami’s starting quarterback heading into Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills (4-2). “But it’s not Fitz.”

Releasing Van Noy and McCain, trading away Flowers to move up 14 spots in the seventh round of the draft, and not re-signing Karras created cap space. But their departures left leadership voids on units that have struggled this season.

Miami’s linebacker unit has have been a mess, and Jaelan Phillips has struggled to replace Van Noy. The secondary constantly features breakdowns, although Jevon Holland has shown early promise as the starting free safety. The offensive line is on its third starting center and lacks a quality NFL starter like Flowers, who has started every game for Washington this season.

In a tough stretch like Miami’s six-game losing streak, leadership matters, because it is those veterans who are responsible for the heavy lifting when it comes to restoring morale and instilling fight and belief into the team.

Elandon Roberts, Jesse Davis and Clayton Fejedelem, who were all captains in 2020, and receiver Mack Hollins are doing their best to steer the Dolphins into less troubling waters.

But somehow, this team has lost its way.

“As a leader, you learn that it’s hard to motivate people. You’ve got to learn from each individual person what each individual person needs,” said Hollins, who was named an offensive captain this season.

“There are guys that need to get [yelled at]. There are guys who need to be brought over to the side. There are guys that you need to tell their best friend that [they] need to talk to them. Being able to maneuver that is something all leaders [must do]. You never complete that job. It’s never I know how to work with everybody, especially in this league because there are always people changing, there are always new teammates, there are always new players.”

And that’s part of the problem the Dolphins have had trying to build on 2020′s success.

Two weeks ago, the Dolphins held a players-only meeting to address what they felt were the team’s pressing issues.

There was talk about accountability, lack of effort and commitment, doing the extra things in practices and the team’s preparation, the need for more excitement and energy on the field.

Plenty of talk happened.

The problem is, it didn’t stop the bleeding, and sources say the solutions proposed — more energy, more accountability — weren’t going to fix anything, because it’s on-field execution that has been the issue.

“Are players who make mistakes getting benched?” a Dolphins defender asked. “Are they losing their roles? They pushed out the veterans for the young guys, and then wonder why we don’t look the same. It’s because mistakes keep getting made, and who is being held accountable?”

More importantly, who has this team been able to lean on for performances that back up the words of wisdom, or inspirational prep talk?

After all, words are better followed up with action.

“We’ve just got to take it one game, one play and one practice at a time. It’s no secret,” said Roberts, who will likely have more responsibility if Jerome Baker, the team’s leading tackler, is sidelined by the knee injury he suffered in last Sunday’s 30-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

“There’s no magical thing that you need to do as a captain or as a teammate. It’s nothing. You just got to come in every day with the work mentality to get it right, and that’s by taking it one practice at a time, taking it one play at time and taking it one game at a time.”

©2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Jets owner Woody Johnson still has confidence in Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh

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Jets owner Woody Johnson still has confidence in Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh

NEW YORK — Despite the Patriots’ 54-13 obliteration of the Jets in Week 7, Jets owner Woody Johnson still believes in the organization’s new infrastructure.

“I have unwavering, steadfast confidence in Joe [Douglas], Robert [Saleh] and the coaching staff,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I’ve been around for going on 22 years, with my little absence that I had recently, and this is a good group. So we will get it right.”

Johnson — who returned to helm his struggling football team earlier this year after four seasons away while serving as President Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom — spoke to the media at the start of the NFL owners’ meetings in Manhattan.

Johnson labeled the beatdown from their arch-rival last weekend “frustrating,” but said his focus has turned to the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) who crushed the Baltimore Ravens, 41-17, in Week 7 and are tied for the best record in the AFC. The Jets are 1-5 under Saleh, who was hired while Woody’s brother Christopher was still running Gang Green and is a first-time head coach. Douglas was hired in June 2019.

In the two seasons with Adam Gase as head coach the Jets started 1-8 (2019) and 0-13 (2020). But regardless of which Johnson is running the show, the Jets have been one of the worst-run franchises in the league and have the longest active playoff drought (10 seasons and counting).

The Jets’ latest embarrassing start is due to another inept offense and struggling defense. They rank in the bottom five in scoring offense and points allowed. Their offense hasn’t scored a point in the first quarter through six games.

But Johnson still believes in the direction of the long-term plan.

Why?

“Just talking to the leadership with Joe and Robert, talking to them and seeing how their plans are put together, how they’re deep thinkers,” Johnson said. “I think they want to do things like establish a culture and they’re getting the right players in the right positions.”

Johnson might have complete faith in this leadership team, but he might be one of the few.

Ex-Jets coach Rex Ryan — who led Gang Green to back-to-back conference title games at the start of his tenure with the team — blasted Saleh after the loss.

“A complete embarrassment for Robert Saleh and his coaching staff,” Ryan, now an ESPN analyst, said Monday on “Get Up!” “By the way, guys, here’s the scary thing — they’re coming off a bye, a bye! … There’s no passion.”

“You saw a team that knows what the hell they’re doing, the coaching staff with a rookie quarterback, the New England Patriots. That kid [Mac Jones] looks like a seasoned pro. You look at the other side, you’ve got a horrendous coaching staff with a quarterback [Zach Wilson] that looks 100 percent lost.”

There’s no question the shiny new toy hasn’t played well during his rookie year. The first-year quarterback has thrown for 1,168 yards with four touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing just 57% of his passes. It’s not all on the former BYU star, though. There have been offensive inconsistencies across the board from shaky offensive line play to an invisible running game to underperforming weapons.

And to add injury to insult, Wilson suffered a sprained PCL in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss in Foxborough that will likely sideline him between two to four weeks. But Johnson claimed he has zero concerns about the No. 2 overall pick.

“It’s a very young team with a young quarterback. He’s 22 years old. He just turned 22,” Johnson said. “So he’s seeing things for the first time. Like a lot of the young quarterbacks. It’s gonna take him a little bit of time but I have a lot of confidence in Zach, too.”

Wilson’s injury prompted the Jets to trade a conditional sixth-round pick to the Eagles for Joe Flacco on Monday because their only backup QB was Mike White, who saw his first NFL game action when Wilson went down on Sunday.

The Jets don’t look much different than how they did in 2020 — or for much of the last decade — but at least the boss seems to have an abundance of confidence in Wilson, Saleh and Douglas to get Gang Green in the right direction.

©2021 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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