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How Interns Stole NASA's Moon Rocks

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In 2002, a ragtag trio of NASA interns conspired to steal millions of dollars' worth of lunar rock samples from their secure storage vault. (Apparently they didn't have an old comic book handy -- they could have easily ordered all the Moon Rocks they wanted!!) Anyway, last week gadget blog Gizmodo published the story of how they carried out the theft, telling the specifics of how they did it -- though the details are somewhat suspect, as their source is the guy who claims to have done all the crazy spy-stuff himself...and who is now writing a novel based on the events. Anyway, here's a snippet:

Building 31 North, which sits on the grounds of Houston's Johnson Space Center, is where NASA keeps all 600 pounds of the moon rocks it has secured. They are the sole property of the government, collected over six lunar missions and protected with the dramatic intensity of national treasures. Building 31 North is one of the few buildings on earth constructed under Class 100 standards—it is a structure that can withstand 1000 years of water submersion, among other durability metrics that should not be tested this side of Armageddon.

Breaking into it is designed to be impossible for normal people. But not harder than building a shuttle, or figuring out how to put a rover on Mars. The agency hires people with the ability to find solutions for intimidatingly large problems exactly like this one. ...

Read the rest for a surprisingly compelling heist story.

(Via Waxy.org.)

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Animals
Watch a Rogue Pet Dog Interrupt a Russian News Anchor on Air
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Last week, a Russian news broadcast briefly went to the dogs after its host was startled by a surprise co-anchor: a friendly black canine that wandered on set, announced its presence with a loud bark, and climbed onto her desk.

 

As TODAY reports, Mir24 TV anchor Ilona Linarte went off script for a few minutes, telling viewers "I've got a dog here. What is this dog doing in the studio?" After the initial shock wore off, she gave her furry guest a tepid welcome, patting its head as she gently pushed it off the desk. ("I actually prefer cats,'' Linarte remarked. "I'm a cat lady.")

Linarte’s query was answered when the TV station announced that the dog had accompanied another show’s guest on set, and somehow got loose. That said, rogue animals have a proud tradition of crashing live news broadcasts around the world, so we’re assuming this won’t be the last time a news anchor is upstaged by an adorable guest star (some of which have better hair than them).

[h/t TODAY]

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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
SpaceX Is Sending Two Private Citizens Around the Moon
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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0

Two members of the public are set to take an historic trip around the Moon, according to an announcement from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. As The Verge reports, the anonymous private citizens have already placed substantial deposits on the commercial space flight.

The private spacecraft company SpaceX revealed on Monday that the Falcon Heavy rocket will be launching with its Crew Dragon spacecraft in late 2018. The mission will consist of a circumnavigation of the Moon, passing over the body’s surface before traveling farther into space and returning to Earth. In total, the trip will cover 300,000 to 400,000 miles and take a week to complete.

A noteworthy part of the plan is the human cargo that will be on board. Instead of professional astronauts, the craft will carry two paying customers into space. The passengers, who’ve yet to be named, will both need to pass several fitness tests before they're permitted to make the journey. According to The Verge, Musk said the customers are “very serious” and that the cost of the trip is “comparable” to that of a crewed mission to the International Space Station. The goal for SpaceX is to eventually send one or two commercial flights into space each year, which could account for 10 to 20 percent of the company’s earnings.

[h/t The Verge]

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