America’s first crewed spaceship to fly to the International Space Station in nearly a decade returned safely to Earth on Sunday, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico.
The mission, carried out jointly by NASA and the private company SpaceX, demonstrated that the United States has the capacity once more to send its astronauts to space and bring them back.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour splashed into the water off Pensacola, Florida at 2:48 pm (1848 GMT), trailed by its four main parachutes.
It was the first water landing for a crewed US spaceship since the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission.
“It’s truly our honor and privilege,” said pilot Doug Hurley, who was joined on the mission by commander Bob Behnken.
“On behalf of the NASA and SpaceX teams, welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” replied SpaceX’s Mike Heiman, to laughter in the control room.
– Uninvited visitors –
A flotilla of civilian boats swarmed the landing zone as a recovery ship sped to the scorched capsule and hoisted it aboard with its crane.
The Coast Guard said it had warned people to stay away from the capsule but “numerous boaters” ignored the requests.
The “capsule was in the water for a good period of time,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, “the boats just made a beeline for it.”
The hatch opening was delayed as a team worked to stop a potentially dangerous leak of rocket fuel vapor.
“What’s not common is having passers-by approach the vehicle at close range with nitrogen-tetroxide in the atmosphere… We need to make sure we’re warning people not to get close to the spacecraft in the future,” Bridenstine said.
Around an hour after splashdown, the astronauts exited the capsule and headed for shore on a helicopter.
They were reunited with their families in Houston, where they walked off a plane — in apparently good physical shape and upbeat spirits — at a military base.
Addressing a socially distanced welcome ceremony in a hangar, Behnken, a veteran of the Space Shuttle program, praised the SpaceX team behind the successful mission.
“There’s something special about having that capability to launch and bring your own astronauts home,” he said.
A visibly excited SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the mission heralded a new era.
“We’re going to go to the Moon, we’re going to have a base on the Moon; we’re going to Mars,” he said.
“I’m not very religious but I prayed for this one.”
– Space autonomy –
President Donald Trump — who had travelled to Florida for the capsule’s launch two months ago — hailed its safe return.
“Thank you to all!” he tweeted. “Great to have NASA Astronauts return to Earth after very successful two month mission.”
The United States has had to rely on Russia for rides to space since the last Space Shuttle flew in 2011.
The mission is also a huge win for Musk’s SpaceX, which was founded in only 2002 but has leap-frogged its way past Boeing, its main competitor in the commercial space race.
The US has paid the two companies a total of about $7 billion for their “space taxi” contracts, though aerospace giant Boeing’s efforts have floundered.
– Atmospheric re-entry –
The Crew Dragon capsule performed several precisely choreographed sequences in order to return home safely.
First, it jettisoned its “trunk” that contains its power, heat and other systems, which burned up in the atmosphere.
It then fired its thrusters to maneuver into the proper orbit and trajectory for splashdown.
As it re-entered the atmosphere at a speed of around 17,500 mph (28,000 kph), it experienced temperatures of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1900 degrees Celsius).
It deployed two sets of parachutes on its descent, bringing its speed down to a mere 15 mph as it hit the Gulf of Mexico.
Endeavour will now undergo a six-week inspection to certify the vessel as worthy of future low-Earth orbit missions.
The next mission — dubbed “Crew-1” — will involve a team of four: three NASA astronauts along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission specialist Soichi Noguchi.
Launch is set for late September, and the crew is due to spend six months on the space station.
A week after a freak accident claimed the lives of some bus passengers at Ilasamaja bus stop in Lagos State, the mother of one of the victims is seeking for justice.
Mrs Chineze Ajoku who is a widow and mother of 27-year-old Chidinma Ajoku who died alongside her colleague while returning from work, wants the state government and other relevant agencies to see to it that unlatched container-laden trucks are prohibited on our roads.
Her daughter, Chidinma died when a container fell on the bus she was travelling in on Sunday, July 26.
“I am not coping, I am heartbroken. My heart is shattered in pieces. Her siblings, sometimes I wake up and they cry.
“If she was sick, it would have been better for us. She was just killed in cold blood like that. How can we just accept this thing? You don’t just kill people on the road carelessly and everybody just folds their arms and expects it as a norm.
“Let them investigate and know who the driver is and the owner of the vehicle, why it is not latched the way it is supposed to be,” she said.
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While calling for the prosecution of the driver of the truck, Ajoku noted that the move by the state government will serve as a deterrent to other erring drivers.
According to her, this is to prevent further loss of lives and safeguard other residents of Lagos and road users.
Channels Television learned that the truck fell on the commercial bus while discharging passengers at Ilasamaja bus-stop, leading to the death of two, while three others sustained injuries.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) described the accident as ‘an avoidable accident’ given that reckless driving of the truck driver led to its attached 20ft container falling on a commercial bus.
One of the presidential candidates in the 2020 elections of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dele Adesina, has asked the Body of Trustees of the association to cancel the just concluded polls.
In his 11 page petition to the body, Adesina described the election as “electronic fraud, illegal and unconstitutional.”
The elections were conducted electronically on July 29th to July 30th at the end of which, the immediate past chairman of the NBA’s Section on Business Law, Olumide Akpata emerged the winner.
He defeated Dr. Babatunde Ajibade and Mr Dele Adesina.
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But reacting to the outcome, Adesina called on the Chairman of NBA Board of Trustees, Olisa Agbakoba to “rise up and save the Association by cancelling the elections and conducting a fresh one.”
Adesina said he was one of the builders of the association and his call was driven by the members’ interest.
He cited some pre-election concerns and agitations which were studiedly neglected and disregarded by the electoral committee and alleged among other things that the Voters’ Register used in the 2020 Election was a sham, illegal, doctored and manipulated.
The candidate also alleged that the data in the election results monitoring site was programmed to produce a premeditated result and many voters were also disenfranchised.
Police authorities in Katsina State have arrested two nurses for allegedly trafficking a newly born baby girl.
Speaking during a press conference on Monday, the spokesman of the State Police Command, Gambo Isah, said the nurses – Misira Tijjani, and Grace Ejigu – were arrested on July 28 after a tip-off.
According to Isah, they conspired and sold the child to one Eucharia Onyema, aged 45 years of Sabuwar Kasuwa quarters in the state.
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“On July 25th 2020 at about 10:00hrs, one Shamsiyya Sani, aged 25 years of Dandagoro quarters, Katsina was delivered of a baby girl at Okomos Clinic, Kofar Kaura, Katsina.
“She later abandoned the child at the hospital with a handwritten note stating that she was born out of wedlock hence the abandonment.
“Nemesis caught up with them when they were arrested on their way from the hospital to their houses with the child through the help of a Keke Napep rider who suspected them of stealing of the child. An investigation is ongoing,” he said.
The Ogun state government has stepped down its stand which held that the COVID-19 test is to be used as a mandatory requirement for returning students in exit classes.
Governor Dapo Abiodun announced the cancellation of the initial injunction via a Twitter statement on Monday.
In his communique which was titled “Ogun Makes COVID-19 Test Free For All Returning SS3 Boarding Students”, Governor Abiodun further stated that the admittance of students into boarding houses in private secondary schools will be at the discretion of the management and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of such private schools.
Parents of pupils in private secondary schools in Ogun had protested over the request of N25,000 COVID-19 test fee by the government, but the governor has assured that the test will now be carried out free of charge for all returning students.
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The governor ordered the Government Laboratories in the state to carry out tests for all returning SS3 boarding students at no cost.
He also directed that all those who have paid for tests be refunded.
According to the governor, the new directive has become imperative because the health of children remains an utmost priority to his administration.
The governor, however, noted that in view of the total number of boarding students to be tested (5,340 private and 500 public), and bearing in mind the limitation of the state’s installed testing capacity of 500 tests per day, it may not be feasible for all boarding students to get tested and get their results prior to the resumption or even exams which commences on 17th August 2020.
He recommended that students who do not have to stay in boarding houses should attend school from home, especially those with underlying health conditions. Adding that face masks will be availed to all students in both private and public schools.
Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana has called on the National Assembly to probe the conditions of Nigeria’s foreign loans totalling about $79.5bn.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, Falana wondered why much emphasis should just be on the $3.1billion to be secured from China.
According to him, the masses are being misled by leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
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“We are being misled. What is the basis of this cessation about Chinese loan which is only $3.1billion out of $79billion loan?
“Why are we not talking about the remaining $76billion whose conditionality is much worse than the Chinese loans we are talking about?
“So, why don’t you look at the entire loan portfolio? Look at the conditions. For instance, some of the western loans are to the effect that the government should increase electricity tariff, increase fuel price and so on and so forth,” he said.
Falana also knocked the federal lawmakers for “not complaining about those multiple taxations dictated by western imperialism.”
While admitting that every country has the right to enter into an agreement with issues relating to loans, the senior lawyer maintained that the National Assembly is required by law to look at the terms and conditions.
In doing this, Falana asked the Ministry of Justice to always scrutinise the terms and conditions of the agreements to the benefits of all Nigerians.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said the late Isa Funtua was a pillar of support to his government, saying his death is a national loss.
Funtua passed away on Monday, July 20th, aged 78 with President Buhari in a letter to the family, saying the late publisher helped his government in several ways.
“Malam Isma’ila was of great assistance to me and my administration. He helped in many ways to strengthen the government and the country before his ultimate demise,” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted his principal as saying in the letter.
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In the letter, written in Hausa language and personally signed by the Nigerian leader, Buhari told late Funtua’s wife, Hajiya Hauwa, the children and family that the Funtua’s demise was not just a loss to them but the country at large.
Buhari recalled that “in his active politics, Malam Isma’ila served as a minister,” stating that “he was also a businessman and contractor who built several government buildings in Abuja.”
The President equally urged the family to stay united and not allow division in set in in the absence of his late associate.
He said Nigerians across all walks of life have nothing but kind words for Funtua, noting that “late Isma’ila was reputed throughout his life for his kindness, generosity and support for public causes, big and the not so big.”
Mallam Funtua was born in Funtua, Katsina State, and a pioneer student of the Federal Training Centre, Kaduna.
The Minister of Water Resources in the defunct Second Republic, established the Democrat Newspapers during the military era in Nigeria.
Also, he was trained as an administrative officer at the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria as well as an administrator at Manchester University in the UK.
The late Funtua worked as the Katsina Native Authority as an Administrative Officer and later served in many ministries in the defunct Northern Region
More than 2,200 firefighters were battling a blaze that was burning out of control Monday in southern California, threatening thousands of people and homes east of Los Angeles.
The Apple Fire, which broke out Friday near the city of San Bernardino, has so far burnt more than 20,000 acres (8,000 hectares), sending up columns of smoke visible for miles.
Record low moisture in the vegetation, low humidity and high temperatures are fuelling the blaze, the United States Forest Service said.
At least 2,600 homes and nearly 7,800 people were evacuated. Officials said it was not clear when they might be able to return.
By early Monday about 2,260 firefighters backed by helicopters, water-dumping planes and trucks were working to put out the fire.
Crews managed to contain five percent of the fire by Monday, after losing control of the blaze during Sunday afternoon.
There were no reports of casualties, and the only damage so far has been to two buildings and one home.
The edges of the fire are burning on rugged hills hard for crews to reach, authorities said.
Dense vegetation fueled the blaze near homes, said Fernando Herrera, fire chief in Riverside County, while hot and dry conditions Monday will help the flames keep alive.
Officials said the fire may have been set deliberately and a probe is underway.
The Emergency Committee of the Confederation of African Football, (CAF) has approved the revised calendar for the Inter-clubs competitions which was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CAF also announced that the semi-final matches of the CAF Champions League will be played on a home and away basis in September.
Following the withdrawal of Cameroon Football Federation from hosting the final four, and in line with the principle of fairness, it was decided against hosting a final four in either Egypt or Morocco, whose representatives constitute the semi-finalists, thus Al Ahly & Zamalek (Egypt) and Raja Club Athletic & Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco).
Still operating with the principle of fairness, the final will be played at a neutral venue in the event a team from Egypt and Morocco qualify from the semis.
The first leg matches in the CAF Champions League will be played on 25 & 26 September 2020 in Morocco while the second leg action will happen on 2 & 3 October 2020 in Egypt.
Consequently, the bidding process has been opened to Member Associations excluding Egypt and Morocco for the hosting of a one-off final.
Interested Member Associations are to submit their bidding file including the venue for the match and the mandatory Government guarantee no later than 17 August 2020.
In case the two Egyptian clubs or Moroccan clubs progress to the final, the one-off match will be played in either Egypt or Morocco with a proposed date of 16 or 17 October 2020.
In that regard, the concerned Member Associations, Egyptian Football Association, and the Royal Moroccan Football Federation have been issued a deadline of 15 August 2020 to confirm their availability.
CAF also confirmed that they will continue discussions with the various stakeholders on the possibilities of organizing the remaining matches of the Total CAF Champions League 2019/20 behind closed doors or otherwise.
CAF Confederation Cup
With Morocco already confirmed as hosts for the Confederation Cup, the semi-final match between Pyramids (Egypt) and Horoya (Guinea) will at Mohammed V Complex, Casablanca 22 September 2020.
On the same date, RS Berkane (Morocco) and HUSA (Morocco) will clash at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat.
The final match will Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat on 27 September, 2020.
All matches will be played behind closed doors.
Covid-19 Health Guidelines
The CAF guidelines for the restart of competitions put together by the CAF Medical Committee in collaboration with the CAF Technical & Development Department will be applied for the staging of the remaining matches of the Interclubs 2019/20 season.
The guidelines highlight effective and continuous medical assessments which include testing of players and officials, plans for training sessions, disinfection of sporting facilities, as well as strict adherence to the global preventive protocols.
Kano State Government has approved the reopening of Senior Secondary Schools in the state on August 10 to enable exit students to sit for their final examinations.
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Monday by the state Commissioner of Education, Sunusi Kiru.
The Commissioner explained that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje approved the resumption date to enable SS3 students to write their West African Senior School Certificate Examination scheduled to commence on August 17.
According to Kiru, the state government has directed all principals and proprietors of secondary schools to note that they have only a week from August 3 to commence preparation and put adequate measures against COVID 19.
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Following this development, schools have been warned against reopening before the planned date.
Also, principals are expected to ensure that working hours are reduced in the schools while adhering to the social distancing guidelines.
Meanwhile, the resumption dates for other examinations and for the rest of the classes including the SS1, SS2, and JSS 1-3 as well as primary schools will be announced in due course.
While noting that the Ministry of Education is encouraging the e-learning education program and other online platforms until full normalcy is fully returned, Kiru commended the efforts of stakeholders for their continued support.