A Case for a Market-Driven Green New Deal

A Case for a Market-Driven Green New Deal

Any serious energy transformation will need to harness America’s powerful and creative economic engine.

By Amory B. Lovins and Rushad R. Nanavatty

Mr. Lovins and Mr. Nanavatty work at Rocky Mountain Institute, which is focused on creating a clean, low-carbon energy future.

A wind farm in Pomeroy, Iowa.CreditCreditJim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The best thing to come from the Senate’s floor debate on the Green New Deal late last month may have been these eminently sane remarks, calling on lawmakers of both parties to “move together” in order “to lower emissions, to address the reality of climate change, recognizing that we’ve got an economy we need to keep strong, that we have vulnerable people we need to protect, that we have an environment that we all care about — Republicans and Democrats.”

Who said it? A Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who leads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “My hope is we get beyond the high-fired rhetoric to practical, pragmatic, bipartisan solutions,” she said on the chamber floor.

The path is there, if our leaders will only choose to take it. In 2011, Reinventing Fire, an energy study by Rocky Mountain Institute, where we work, showed how a business-led transition could triple energy efficiency, quintuple renewables and sustain an American economy 2.6 times larger in 2050 than it was in 2010 with no oil, coal or nuclear energy, and one-third less natural gas. The net cost was $5 trillion less than business-as-usual — or even more valuable if a price was put on carbon emissions.

Any serious energy transformation effort — whether the Green New Deal or “pragmatic, bipartisan solutions” called for by Senator Murkowski — will need to harness America’s immensely powerful and creative economic engine, not dismantle it. This means unleashing the market in sectors where we already know how to profitably reduce emissions (electricity, transportation, buildings), creating markets for solutions in areas where there aren’t yet enough answers (heavy industry, agriculture) and fixing market failures (unpriced carbon, for instance, or rewarding utilities for selling more electricity rather than cutting your bill).

Here’s how:

First, we should let competition and flexibility rule our electricity system. Abundant market data show that a renewably powered future would cost less than our current system. Electricity providers have gotten the memo, even if Washington hasn’t. To save their customers money, utilities in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Utah are phasing out old coal and nuclear plants and replacing them with wind and solar. Clean energy portfolios — including affordable battery storage and other flexible resources — are starting to displace natural gas in California and New York.

Concerns about round-the-clock availability of electricity from a highly renewable grid, a common fear, are mostly misplaced. The Department of Energy has assessed that renewables “that are commercially available today,” combined with a more flexible electric grid, can reliably supply up to 80 percent of our electricity in 2050 (and these technologies are advancing every year). Four European countries with modest or no hydropower get from 46 percent to 71 percent of their electricity from renewables, with grids more reliable than those in the United States.

In America, Iowa and Texas are leading the way on wind. Over 35 percent of Iowa’s electricity is wind-generated. This has provided a second source of income to farmers whose lands host turbines and given Iowans among the lowest power prices in the nation. Over all, the estimated $476 billion needed to build a flexible grid that integrates renewables would yield $2 trillion in saved energy and reliability benefits.

Second, correcting our biggest market failure by putting a price on carbon by taxing it and then rebating the revenues equally to all citizens would be “the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the necessary scale and speed,” according to a recent statement signed by more than 3,500 economists, including 27 Nobel laureates. Combining carbon pricing with border tax adjustments and rebates for citizens would ensure we didn’t export our emissions or hurt working-class Americans. Clearer price signals could drive cheaper and cleaner practices if we eliminated market barriers that are obstacles to efficiency and clean energy.

For sectors with fewer market-ready substitutes and less sensitivity to fuel prices, like industry and agriculture, we need other approaches. Hence our third point:

We need to take advantage of the world’s most successful research and development organization — the federal government — to solve our remaining technology challenges. Government R&D helped develop the internet, the Global Positioning System, fracking, many vital drugs and, more recently, breakthrough battery technologies. The government now needs to apply its early-stage investment muscle, in concert with private enterprise, to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in these harder-to-abate sectors.

Failures should outnumber successes, as in any sound early-stage investment portfolio. But just a handful of big wins can deliver potentially incalculable value to our economy and planet. Which brings us to our final point.

We should base investment decisions on net value, not cost alone.

Green New Deal critics often look at only one side of the accounting ledger. A columnist for The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently pointed to the $400 billion estimated cost of retrofitting American buildings without mentioning the $1.4 trillion net value (retrofit costs minus saved energy costs) of doing so.

Much of this value can accrue to working Americans who need it most. Nationally, the average energy burden for low-income families is three times greater than for the rest of the country. Low-income families tend to rely more on expensive heating fuels, and have older, less efficient furnaces, appliances and homes. They are likelier to get sick from living near fossil fuel production. Consequently, they can benefit the most from lower-cost renewable energy, phasing out fossil fuels and improved buildings.

And for economywide industrial competitiveness, we can’t afford not to speed these changes. In 2018 China added four times as much solar capacity as the United States, bolstering China’s industrial competitiveness for decades to come. And while American automakers suffer from the collateral damage of this administration’s trade war, China is expected this year to double its sale of electric cars, to two million — half of the world total, by some industry estimates.

Energy efficiency and renewables enjoy overwhelming public support because they offer so many benefits — for competitiveness and jobs, national security and community choice, health and environment, equity and innovation. If you like any of those outcomes, you can support a market-driven Green New Deal without needing to like every outcome — or agree on which outcome is most important.

To this point, America’s energy transition has been driven by insurgent entrepreneurs and the private sector, not politicians. Now we finally have an emergent legislative effort with ambition matching the existential crisis, and the unique opportunity, in front of us. Fully leveraging the power of the market through smart, trans-ideological policy would make us unstoppable.

Amory B. Lovins is co-founder and chief scientist and Rushad R. Nanavatty is a principal of Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent, apolitical nonprofit focused on speeding a market-based shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables.

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An earlier version of this article misquoted a statement by a group of economists. A carbon tax would be “the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the necessary scale and speed,” according to the economists, not a carbon tax or cap-and-trade.

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How Walmart keeps its prices so low (WMT)

How Walmart keeps its prices so low (WMT)

walmart asda comparo

Walmart is known for its low prices.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

  • Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, operating stores in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and in 27 countries, serving up to 100 million customers weekly.
  • Walmart is known for its low prices, which it has codified in its Every Day Low Price guarantee.
  • Here are seven ways Walmart manages to keep its prices so low even while recently raising the wages it pays its workers.

Walmart stores are known for their massive size and their vast selection, but if there is one thing that defines the company, it is low prices.

Walmart is unabashedly proud of its low-cost merchandise, stating on its website that “Every Day Low Price (EDLP) is the cornerstone of our strategy, and our price focus has never been stronger.”

While also long associated with low wages, the retailer has been working to better compensate its employees.

According to retail expert Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, “[Walmart] made huge strides in the last two years by increasing their average wages, their training opportunities, and promotion opportunities within the organization.”

Read more: Walmart is giving its workers a pay raise and a cash bonus of up to $1,000

That was welcome news to employees, more than a million of which are in the US. A robust Walmart is also good news for America generally: experts estimate that Walmart accounts for 2% of the US economy.

So how does Walmart manage to keep its prices so low even as it offers better compensation to employees?

Dawn Villella / AP

If Walmart didn’t keep its prices low enough to compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon, then it could soon enough go the way of Borders bookshops, Sam Goody’s record stores, and other once-ubiquitous retailers that saw their market share fade and then collapse as online sales grew ever larger.

While Amazon offers cheaper pricing on some items, such as foods offered through AmazonFresh, a 2018 analysis by Clark found that Walmart’s products are about 34% lower priced than Amazon’s.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Somewhat ironically, just as the rise of online sales (and the surging growth of Dollar General stores) prompts Walmart to keep costs low to stay competitive, in many areas, Walmart is the only major retailer in town.

About 90% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Walmart, and the company can count on millions of customers using its physical stores as their go-to spot for groceries, clothing, household goods, and more. This huge, reliable customer base allows them to keep prices low.

Sam Walton.

Associated Press

Since first opening in the early 1960s, Walmart has followed the guidance of late founder and namesake Sam Walton to keep operations costs low. Walton himself famously drove around in an old pickup truck long after he was a multimillionaire; in our era, the store keeps costs low by using a sophisticated and largely automated supply-chain management system, by keeping in-store design basic, by having executives use budget travel options, and, until recently, by paying hourly employees less than competitors.

Gunnar Rathbun/AP Images for Walmart

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart has huge bargaining power when it comes to its suppliers. Many brands depend on Walmart sales to stay in business, while even larger, established companies can little afford to be removed from Walmart’s aisles or webpages.

Walmart can demand lower wholesale rates than just about any other retailer on earth, and it passes these savings on to customers.

Gunnar Rathbun/AP Images

Walmart sells more of just about everything than pretty much any other seller, and it sells many products for less than anyone else. Taking that into account, Walmart could make more money even if the margins are smaller.

If the corner store sells three razors for $2.99 that it bought at wholesale for $1.99, that shop just made $3, for example. If Walmart sold the same three razors for a lower price of, say, $2.49, it would have made only $1.50.

But when it does that another 10,000 times in a single day and also sells cat litter, fresh lettuce, basketballs, blue jeans, and everything else, its tighter margins have little appreciable impact on overall profits.

Aggressive shoplifting prevention

Bob Chamberlin/Getty Images

In 2015, Walmart said that it loses up to $3 billion each year to theft, or 1% of its total $300 billion in sales that year. That figure would be much higher if the retailer didn’t aggressively combat shoplifting. The company keeps a registry of all confirmed shoplifters, and it reportedly pushes for prosecution in many cases of theft.

And for a time, the company used a controversial Corrective Education program in which shoplifters could see charges dropped if they paid for attending a course meant to help reeducate and reform thieves.

Sundry Photography/Shutterstock


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UK firms propose low-cost satellite radar

UK firms propose low-cost satellite radar

CarbSAR concept

Image copyright

Image caption

The CarbSAR concept could fly as a demonstration in 2021

Two British companies are to push forward with the development of an ultra-low-cost radar satellite.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and Oxford Space Systems hope the work will lead to a demonstration flight in 2021.

The mission would marry OSS’s novel antenna design with SSTL’s expertise in small satellite systems.

Space radar’s unique selling point is its ability to sense the ground in all conditions – day or night, and no matter the amount of cloud in the sky.

Traditionally, the satellites that have operated in this field have been big and expensive, but, with the falling price and miniaturisation of electronics, new approaches are becoming possible.

Finnish company Iceye and American start-up Capella Space are already flying small pathfinders, and expect eventually to launch constellations of their radar spacecraft.

The British pairing would like to join the fray.

Image copyright

Image caption

Radar senses the ground in all weathers, day and night

“There’s a lot of interesting stuff taking place at the moment and we’ll have to see how it all plays out. We’re all taking a slightly different approach,” said Andrew Cawthorne, SSTL’s director of sales and business development.

OSS is working on a “wrapped rib”, carbon-fibre antenna that can be stowed in a very small volume for launch but then sprung into shape once in orbit. This antenna would transmit (via a smaller inner-structure) and receive the radar pulses that are used to image the surface of the Earth.

SSTL has helped pioneer the development of small satellites and has an ultra-low cost variant it calls Carbonite. So far, this platform has only been launched with camera systems that take still and moving imagery in optical bands (the light we detect with our eyes).

But SSTL wants now to put a radar payload in the Carbonite chassis, or bus.

“We have this concept now for CarbSAR, which will take the latest deployable antenna technology from OSS and couple it with what we’ve been doing on the electronics and avionics side,” said Andrew Cawthorne.

SSTL launched a radar satellite in 2018 called NovaSAR-1. This weighed in at 450kg, but the company said at the time the payload, or brains of the spacecraft, could fit in a much smaller package. CarbSAR would be that smaller package.

The development work is being supported by a grant from the UK’s National Space Technology Programme.

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

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WOW Air Ceases Operations – VOCM

WOW Air Ceases Operations – VOCM

A low-cost long-haul Iceland-based airline, which flew out of various Canadian hubs, has suddenly ceased operations.

A travel alert was issued today indicating that all WOW Air flights have been cancelled, leaving thousands of travelers scrambling to find alternate arrangements.

Passengers who booked their flights through a credit card are being advised to contact their credit card company while those who purchased travel protection, or whose credit card offers travel protection, may be entitled to claim compensation and assistance due to travel disruption.

Further information is being offered through the Icelandic Transport Authority.

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New York’s Plan to Make Manhattan Drivers Pay Extra Is a Big Deal for People and the Planet

New York’s Plan to Make Manhattan Drivers Pay Extra Is a Big Deal for People and the Planet
Illustration for article titled New York's Plan to Make Manhattan Drivers Pay Extra Is a Big Deal for People and the Planet
Photo: Getty

The next best thing to banning cars is crafting policies that factor in the toll they take on society. And that’s exactly what New York has now done. After toying with the idea for more than a decade, on Sunday the state legislature passed a budget that would implement congestion pricing, making New York the first city in the U.S. to do so.

The move will charge drivers entering Lower Manhattan, money that will be used to fix public transit. The policy is likely to make a direct reduction (albeit a small one) to carbon emissions. More importantly, it could open the door to bolder climate policies, all while not screwing over poor people.

A few details are missing such as how much drivers will pay, and there are very real concerns about how the policy will be implemented and how much control the city will have, but the basic outlines are there. Cars traveling below 60th Street—the start of Manhattan’s dense business district—will have to pay a fee starting at the end of 2020. Those that live below 60th Street and make less than $60,000 a year will be eligible for credits to offset the cost. All told, the budget estimates congestion pricing could raise up to $1 billion a year, which would then be leveraged against bonds to help fix the subway.

Aside from the net benefit of fewer whiny tweets from New Yorkers, the plan could also help combat climate change and environmental injustice. On the climate front, the direct benefits are comparatively small. Charles Komanoff, who heads the Carbon Tax Center, told Earther that the plan would eliminate about a million tons of carbon annually. Using the social cost of carbon, a metric that puts a dollar figure on the net benefits of every ton of carbon, Komanoff said that amounts to a savings of roughly $50 million. Not chump change, but pretty tiny in the grand scheme of things. But then, the direct carbon savings itself is only a small sliver of the climate and other benefits tied to the policy.

“I think this is an extraordinary win or can be for climate on a couple of levels,” Komanoff said. “One way is that revitalizing and making cities work and not just for the wealthy is key to climate survival.”

The money raised will go toward un-fucking the subway, which is in shambles for a variety of reasons, as well as improving other parts of New York’s sprawling, decidedly 20th century transit system. Improved service means more people using those systems not just to access the city, but to get around it. It also means fewer people could choose to leave New York, and in fact, more people could move here if the city becomes more livable. New Yorkers (and city dwellers in general) tend to have smaller carbon footprints than suburban and rural Americans owing to access to mass transit and jobs, stores, and recreation opportunities closer to home. More people living a car-free or car-light lifestyle means lower emissions.

The second—and possibly more impactful—way congestion pricing could be a climate victory is by setting a precedent when it comes to making polluters pay for things that cause collective harm. The tolls motorists will pay aren’t a carbon fee per se, but they act like one by putting a cost on something that damages the environment and the city. Policies that reduce emissions has proven hard to execute, particularly under the banner of climate action. Progressive Washington state, for instance voted down a carbon tax last year. Putting aside the influx of Big Oil money that influenced that vote, the reality is big policies like this have largely failed. 

“[There have been] victories here and there but nothing systemic,” Komanoff said. “We have [now] disproved the idea that we’re never, in this country, going to tax or charge a significant environmental harm.”

That’s not say that individuals should have to shoulder all the burden of reducing emissions when there are plenty of bad corporate actors who should be held accountable, too. And as with any policy that will cost people money, one of the biggest considerations is how it will affect working class people. We’ve seen what the failure to do that looks like in the form of the yellow vest protests that roiled France in wake of a gas tax, and California’s rooftop solar mandate that leaves out the poor. The credit for people making less than $60,000 annually is one way to ensure that low income drivers won’t bear the brunt of the policy, though details will still need to be sorted out for how those credits are determined and disbursed.

But for what it’s worth, the working poor make up an exceedingly small portion of drivers in lower Manhattan. Irene Lew, a policy analyst at the nonprofit Community Service Society (CSS), put it bluntly to Earther: “[A]s an anti-poverty group, we wanted to see if this would be regressive. Our analysis shows it’s not. Having congestion pricing is going to help the working poor who depend on mass transit everyday.”

A 2017 analysis by the group found that just two percent of the working poor residents commute daily from the outer boroughs by car and could pay a congestion fee. In comparison, 58 percent take public transit. The analysis showed 38 working poor residents would benefit from improved transit for every one impacted by congestion pricing.

What’s more, the new policy is likely to yield air quality benefits by reducing idling and the number of cars traversing the city. For communities of color that disproportionately suffer from asthma and other air quality-related illnesses, that could provide a huge health benefit.

“I’m not going to say that this is a panacea for everything that ails cities but it is a big step,” Komanoff said.

This post has been updated to reflect that the congestion pricing credit will be available to those earning $60,000 per year who live below 60th Street.

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Woman ‘infatuated’ with Columbine, connected to Colorado school threats found dead, sheriff says – Fox News

Woman ‘infatuated’ with Columbine, connected to Colorado school threats found dead, sheriff says – Fox News

A manhunt for a woman allegedly “infatuated” with the Columbine massacre who traveled from Florida and forced schools in Colorado to close after threatening violence came to an end Wednesday after she was found dead of an apparent suicide in the mountains southwest of Denver.

Sol Pais,18, was found near the base of Mount Evans in Clear Creek County, located about 60 miles southwest of Denver, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader. Shrader said that Pais was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Everything that I’ve heard in briefings does not indicate that she had any assistance or friends in the area, just a fascination with the Columbine area and the horrendous crime that went on there 20 years ago,” he told reporters.

A photo taken near Echo Lake, Colorado by FOX31 showed police officers swarming a parking lot close to where the 18-year-old’s body was discovered.

Clear Creek County Sheriff’s vehicles can be seen near Echo Lake, Colorado, where Sol Pais was found dead on Wednesday.

Clear Creek County Sheriff’s vehicles can be seen near Echo Lake, Colorado, where Sol Pais was found dead on Wednesday.

The FBI’s Denver Office said on Twitter there was “no longer a threat to the community.”

Before Pais’s death was reported, 20 to 30 officers were seen Wednesday morning near the Echo Lake Campground during an extensive search operation, according to CBS Denver.

A woman who was hiking in the area Wednesday morning told CBS Denver she was told to leave the area because “a naked woman matching the description with a gun was spotted in the area running through the woods.”


The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI had said the 18-year-old was “considered to be extremely dangerous” after traveling to Colorado from Miami on Monday night before purchasing a pump-action shotgun and ammunition. Shrader said the gun was legally purchased at a gunshop in the Littleton, Colorado area and followed the state’s legal process.

Gun buyers in Colorado must provide fingerprints and pass criminal background checks.

This combination of undated photos released by the Jefferson County, Colo., Sheriff's Office shows Sol Pais, who was found dead on April 17, 2019.

This combination of undated photos released by the Jefferson County, Colo., Sheriff’s Office shows Sol Pais, who was found dead on April 17, 2019.
(Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office)

Colorado law allows someone who is not a state resident to purchase a “long gun,” but not a handgun, from dealers with federal firearms licenses. Buyers of long guns, such as shotguns, must be at least 18 years old while handgun purchasers must be at least 21 years old.

Pais had made threats to “commit an act of violence in the Denver metropolitan area” just days before the 20th anniversary of the attack, according to officials.

At an afternoon news conference, FBI agent in charge Dean Phillips, in Denver, said they learned through the FBI’s Miami office and local authorities there about comments Pais allegedly made that raised concern. He added that she also had bought three one-way tickets.

“She made several comments to folks that we obtained through interviews, comments that were troubling with regard to her infatuation with Columbine. The recognition that the Columbine anniversary is coming this weekend. Things like buying three one-way tickets in consecutive days, very unusual activity,” he said.

Pais flew to Colorado on Monday, using the first of the three tickets, and allegedly bought a weapon upon her arrival, Phillips said.

Her alleged comments were taken “as a credible threat to the community and potentially a threat to schools in the area, although non-specific to any particular school,” he said.


Pais had apparently been last seen not far from Columbine — in the Jefferson County foothills outside Denver — in a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots. The alert initially released by authorities said police who came into contact with her should detain her and evaluate her mental health.

Because of the threat, Columbine and more than 20 other schools outside Denver locked their doors for nearly 3 hours Tuesday afternoon, and some canceled evening activities or moved them inside. About a half million students in the Denver area were forced to stay home Wednesday because authorities believed Pais still posed a threat to a school.

“We deal with a lot of threats at Columbine,” John McDonald, executive director of security for the Jefferson County school system, said when the manhunt was over. “This one felt different. It was different. It certainly got our attention.”

Following a lockdown at Columbine High School and other Denver area schools, authorities had sought a woman suspected of making threats.

Following a lockdown at Columbine High School and other Denver area schools, authorities had sought a woman suspected of making threats.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jefferson County Sheriff Superintendent Jason Glass said that normal school operations are expected Thursday with “heightened security.”

“We are relieved that the threats to our schools and our community is no longer present,” he said at a news conference.

The Douglas County School District confirmed in a news release Wednesday evening that their schools would be open on Thursday “with heightened safety and security measures in place.”


On Tuesday night, her father, in Surfside, Florida, told reporters through a closed door at the family home the experience was “like a bad dream.”

Her father, who was not identified, said the family last saw Pais on Sunday. A neighbor said the family moved to the area about 10 years ago, and that Pais was frequently spotted in the neighborhood and attended Miami Beach High School.

Miami-Dade Public Schools confirmed in a statement to Fox News that Pais was a senior at the high school.

“We are disturbed about the events that have transpired and saddened by the heartbreaking outcome,” Superintendent of Miami Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in a statement. “Our Mental Health Department and our crisis team have been deployed to Miami Beach Senior High to assist students and employees through this difficult time.

“In an abundance of caution, M-DCPS will remain on heightened alert through the end of the week and will continue reviewing all documents related to this case in an effort to inform our mental health detection practices,” Carvalho added.

After the manhunt was over, Police Chief Julio Yero asked that the family be given “privacy and a little time to grieve.”

“This family contributed greatly to this investigation from the very onset. They provided valuable information that led us to Colorado and a lot of things that assisted in preventing maybe more loss of life,” he said.

Another neighbor told CBS4 in Miami that Pais was a quiet person but well behaved.

“She always kept to herself. She never got in trouble at school,” Patricia Bilstin told the television station. “So surprising, and I feel sorry for the family.”

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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NASA astronaut Christina Koch’s first space mission now set to break ISS record – The Verge

NASA astronaut Christina Koch’s first space mission now set to break ISS record – The Verge

Today, NASA announced which astronauts will be traveling to and from the International Space Station through the end of the year, and the new schedule means one astronaut will now be breaking a big record while in orbit. Because of the new arrangement, NASA astronaut Christina Koch — who is already in space — will soon hold the title for longest single spaceflight by a woman, beating out the last titleholder, former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

Koch launched to the ISS on March 14th, along with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. But rather than stay for six months, as most of NASA’s astronauts do, Koch is now slated to remain on the station through February 2020. That means she’ll spend 328 days, or nearly a full year, in orbit, which is one of the longest consecutive stays in space by any NASA astronaut. She’ll just miss beating Scott Kelly’s record of 340 straight days in orbit, the all-time record for a NASA astronaut. But she’ll beat Whitson’s time of 288 consecutive days in space.

The lengthy stay could be helpful for NASA to better understand how long-duration spaceflight affects the human body. While Kelly was in space for his year-long mission, he gave samples of his own blood and did other health analyses so that NASA could see how his body changed while in orbit. The space agency then compared Kelly’s health data to that of his twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth throughout the full year. The experiment revealed a few surprising ways that space messes with the body, like damaging DNA and affecting cognition. NASA noted that Koch’s flight will also add to this growing area of research.

In addition to announcing Koch’s long trip, NASA also detailed when certain crew members will depart this summer as well as who will arrive later this year. After three crew members leave in June, a new set of three is slated to launch to the ISS in July, followed by another set of three in September. That means nine people will be on the station briefly before three people leave in early October. One crew member arriving in September is NASA astronaut and first-time flyer Jessica Meir who is also scheduled to stay for an extended mission, similar to that of Koch’s. She’ll be leaving in spring 2020.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir.
Photo: NASA

The new crew schedules also mean that two women — Koch and Meir — will be on the station at the same time once again after current ISS crew member Anne McClain leaves in June. That opens up that possibility of a coveted all-female spacewalk actually happening in the year ahead. NASA had been planning to do the first all-female spacewalk in history last month with Koch and McClain, but McClain ultimately chose to swap out of the excursion due to issues with spacesuit sizing and logistics. More work still needs to be done on the outside of the station, so it’s possible that Koch and Meir may be assigned to do a spacewalk together. However, NASA did not make any indication that such a spacewalk would happen.

Today’s crew announcements also add some clarity to how the ISS will be staffed while NASA transitions to a new way of transporting astronauts to and from the station. Possibly before the end of the year, two of NASA’s commercial partners — SpaceX and Boeing — will begin flying crews to and from the International Space Station, as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX is slated to launch its first crew of two to the space station during a quick test flight in July, while Boeing is supposed to launch a crew of three sometime before the end of the year.

However, those flights are not at all guaranteed to occur as planned, as the Commercial Crew program has already experienced numerous delays and schedule changes. So while SpaceX and Boeing continue to prepare for those flights, NASA must continue to rely on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to transport its astronauts to space. All of the crews announced today will be flying on the Soyuz. So no matter what happens with the Commercial Crew flights, today’s announcements ensure that NASA will have at least a couple of astronauts on the ISS through the spring of next year.

If SpaceX and Boeing do fly people before the end of 2019, that means even more crews could be heading to the ISS this year, in addition to the ones announced today.

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Relativity, the 3D printed rocket manufacturer, inks multi-year contract with Telesat

Relativity, the 3D printed rocket manufacturer, inks multi-year contract with Telesat

Relativity, the Los Angeles-based manufacturer of 3D-printed rockets, has signed its first public commercial contract with Telesat, the longtime vendor of satellite services for telecommunications and business information. 

The deal marks the first agreement between a major satellite operator and an entirely venture-backed company in the “New Space” industry and is a huge win for Relativity’s low-cost rocket manufacturing platform.

Relativity’s first launch of its Terran 1 rocket, the first fully 3D-printed rocket built using Relativity’s proprietary printing technology, is slated for the end of 2020.

The company already has a launch site at Cape Canaveral in Florida and a test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center right on the Mississippi-Louisiana border. It’s currently in the process of acquiring a launch site in California that will expand its launch capabilities for customers, according to Relativity chief executive, Tim Ellis.

Relativity’s launch services come in at around $10 million for a 1,250 kilogram payload to low Earth orbit, Ellis said. That’s about $10 million to $20 million less than it would cost to launch a similar payload on the Indian PSLV rocket or European Ariane rocket.

The company keeps costs low by relying heavily on automation and metal 3D printing technology at almost every step of the design and manufacturing process for its launch vehicles. Instead of taking 18 months to build, Relativity claims that it can make its rockets in 60 days with hundreds of components instead of the hundreds of thousands of parts that comprise a traditionally manufactured launch vehicle.

Telesat was certainly convinced by the company’s pitch.

“Early in our LEO program we decided that, in addition to working with outstanding leaders in satellite manufacturing and launch services who we know well, Telesat should also include New Space companies whose technologies and manufacturing methods offer lower costs and greater flexibility for deploying our constellation,” said Dave Wendling, Telesat’s chief technology officer. “Relativity is just such a company with their metal 3D printing, use of robotics and other advances. Telesat continues to establish a world-class supplier team to construct, deploy and operate our global LEO network and we are very pleased to welcome Relativity to the Telesat LEO program.”

With the revelation yesterday of Amazon’s plans to create a satellite network of its own, Telesat may be relying on Relativity’s services for more launches — since Blue Origin, Bezos’ own rocket company, may have its hands full launching satellites for its sister company.

“It’s comparable in magnitude to when SES first signed with SpaceX back in early Falcon 9 days,” says Ellis of his company’s first public contract. “We’ve been working with their team for a very long time vetting our capabilities and our progress.”

The company has done 136 engine tests and has received its avionics systems, which are currently being tested now.

As for the overall industry, Ellis says it’s still the earliest days for New Space companies.

“We’re still in the phase of laying fiber in the ground,” Ellis says. “As far as space infrastructure and network…it’ll follow the path of the internet… the application layers will get built on top of that.”

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How to Get Your Teen’s SAT or ACT Fees Subsidized

How to Get Your Teen’s SAT or ACT Fees Subsidized

Because getting a college education isn’t expensive enough, the fees for taking the SAT and ACT tests as part of the admissions process can be a hardship for many high school students and their families.

Vox breaks down the costs:

Currently, it costs $47.50 to take the SAT ($64.50 with the Essay portion), and $22 for each of the SAT subject tests, not including the $26 registration fee. The ACT costs $50.50 ($67 with the Writing portion), and for each test there are extra costs for late registration. Advanced Placement (AP) tests cost $94.

Add in the fact that many college counselors recommend taking the test multiple times to use the best scores, and the numbers can get out of hand very quickly.

Some colleges and universities are de-emphasizing the need for SAT and ACT test results, particularly if students meet a minimum grade point average or class rank. Functionally speaking, however, these tests are still very much ingrained in the college application process.

Low-income high school students may qualify for fee waivers, though, if they meet certain requirements. The College Board details who is eligible for SAT fee waivers, as well as how to apply:

You’re eligible for fee waivers if you say “yes” to any of the following:

  • You’re enrolled in or eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
  • Your annual family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • You’re enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., Federal TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
  • Your family receives public assistance.
  • You live in federally subsidized public housing or a foster home, or are homeless.
  • You are a ward of the state or an orphan.

Similarly, the ACT fees are waived for students who meet these criteria:

1. They are currently enrolled in high school in the 11th or 12 grade.

2. Are testing in the United States, U.S. territories or Puerto Rico.

3. Meet one or more of these indicators of economic need:

  • Are enrolled in a federal free or reduced-price lunch program at school, based on the USDA’s income levels.
  • Are enrolled in a program for the economically disadvantaged, such as federally funded programs like GEAR UP or Upward Bound.
  • Reside in a foster home, is a ward of the state or is homeless.
  • Family receives low-income public assistance or lives in federally subsidized public housing.
  • Family’s total annual income is at or below USDA levels for free or reduced-price lunches on the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.

Contact your child’s school counselor for help with the fee waiver application process or to determine whether you qualify.

For more from Lifehacker, be sure to follow us on Instagram @lifehackerdotcom.

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4 Tips for Creating a Digital Product That Can Make You a Tidy Profit

4 Tips for Creating a Digital Product That Can Make You a Tidy Profit

Digital Marketing

It has no physical form, and therefore little or no development cost; but a ‘digital product’ like an ebook or audio cost can earn you a bundle.

4 Tips for Creating a Digital Product That Can Make You a Tidy Profit

Image credit:

Andrius Aleksandravicius/EyeEm | Getty Images

Guest Writer

Entrepreneur, Growth Hacker and Marketer

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the past, creating your very own product may have seemed like a pipedream. There was so much work involved in building a product, not to mention the fortune often required just to get a product to market. But not anymore.

Related: Research Finds Digital Goods Area a Tougher Sell Than Entrepreneurs Think

Now, anyone can create a digital product and make money online. One of the biggest perks of creating this category of product is that you create it once and sell it over and over again.

So, what does a “digital product” mean? It means a product without a physical form. Consider these examples:

  • ebooks and pdf guides

  • video tutorials

  • audio courses

  • templates

  • WordPress themes

  • images and icon sets

  • stock photos

These products are low-cost to create because you don’t have to deal with shipping or manufacturing costs or a lengthy development time. The product is also all yours, so you get to keep all the profits. Plus, while creating it is super low-cost, it has the ability to generate you a ton of money.

Before you dive in head-first, however, make sure your digital product will be successful. Check out these four tips for creating a digital product that sells.

Related: The Top 8 Digital Trends to Watch in 2017

Choose a winning digital product.

The first step is to choose the right digital product: What good will it do you to spend your time creating something that no one wants to buy? That’s why you’ve got to create something that solves a problem for your audience.

To determine what niche will sell best, look at what your audience comes to you for, now. Do they come to your blog for budgeting advice? If so, consider creating budgeting templates. Is your most popular blog post a beginner’s guide to email marketing? Then create an ebook guide for email marketing.

If you don’t know what the pain points are for your audience, look at your website analytics or consider asking your visitors by adding a survey or poll to your site. Analyzing what your audience is most interested in from you will help you come up with a digital product that’s irresistible to them.

Make your product visually appealing.

Just because you’re creating a digital rather than physical product doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look good. Consumers buy with their eyes; if your product looks impressive, they’ll be more likely to want it, and even to pay for it. According to a study on Science Direct, when a product’s design is powerful and impressive, consumers are less sensitive to its price. So, make sure you spend time to create visually appealing product images.

Now, you might be wondering how to create images for a product that isn’t actually tangible. For most digital products, you don’t want to post a photo of the product itself, but instead visually demonstrate a glimpse of what the user will be getting. For instance, you could create a little mockup of what’s included in a guide or workbook, as in the example below.

Image source: Melyssa Griffin’s Pinfinite Growth blog 

Establish and promote your expertise.

If you’re thinking of creating your own digital product, you probably already have your own website and a blog. If not, you need them ASAP. Because, of course, not many people will want to buy a digital product from some mystery person online. A website and blog will establish you as a thought leader in your industry and help build trust between you and your potential customers.

And trust is key to generating sales of your digital product. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, when trust is high, people are much more likely to take risks and make a purchase.

So, start blogging on a regular basis and make sure your blog posts relate to your digital product. If your digital product is a course on Pinterest marketing, write about Pinterest marketing. This will show your potential customers that you know what you’re talking about. Don’t forget to promote yourself across social media too; and consider guest-blogging on other popular online publications to broaden your reach and further prove your authority in your niche.  

Collect feedback.

After you’ve created your digital product, it’s time to send it off into the world … or is it? Before you let your digital product loose for people to buy, first do some testing, and collect feedback. It would be a disaster to release your product, only to find out it doesn’t meet expectations. To avoid disappointing your customers, make sure first that what you’ve got is a hit.

Consider offering some of your biggest fans the chance to preview your digital product and then collect their feedback. Updating a digital product is easy, so take your audience members’ feedback into account. If they suggest adding another element you may have overlooked, you can easily add it. By getting feedback, you can ensure you’re putting out the best digital product possible.

Related: The Road From Product to Experience for Luxury Offerings

Over to you.

When you first launched your website or blog, you might never have thought creating a product was in your future. But with these tips for creating a digital product that sells, you can add “digital product creator” to your resume and watch your revenue grow.

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