Outtakes

Back in 2015, e-commerce giant Amazon had a great idea: free bananas to anyone who wanted one. So the company opened up a community banana stand on its Seattle campus and has been giving them away ever since. Now, according to Amazon, they’ve given out their one millionth banana and are averaging about 5,000 a day. Bananas are free to literally anyone, says Amazon, not just company employees. “Bananas are a great healthy snack with built-in compostable packaging,” an Amazon spokesman said in a statement. “We hope the community likes it, and if they do, we’ll keep doing it.”
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NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer each took part in a spacewalk recently on board the International Space Station to repair a faulty computer and install a data cable on the craft. The repairs took the crew three hours which was long enough to circle the earth nearly twice. Whitson, the current commander of the ISS, spent enough time outside to reach third place for most time spend on spacewalks at 60 hours and 21 minutes. And while an emergency spacewalk isn’t entirely rare, it’s not common either. The last emergency walk occurred in 2015.
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After a record-breaking 718 consecutive days in orbit, the United States Air Force’s X-37B space plane landed recently landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight, which is part of the USAF’s Orbital Test Vehicle program, added to the total amount of days spent in orbit for the program putting it at 2,085. "The landing of OTV-4 marks another success for the X-37B program and the nation," said Lt. Col. Ron Fehlen, X-37B program manager. "This mission once again set an on-orbit endurance record and marks the vehicle's first landing in the state of Florida. We are incredibly pleased with the performance of the space vehicle and are excited about the data gathered to support the scientific and space communities. We are extremely proud of the dedication and hard work by the entire team." While the next launch of the X-37B will take place at some point this year, the bigger mystery remains what the mission of the program might be. The details remain classified.
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Microsoft’s Minecraft Education Edition will be getting a Codebuilder add-on. Students will be able to learn how to code by traveling around the pivelated universe and typing “/code” which will bring up a list of snippets and commands. Using the popular Tynker plugin kids can place blocks of code with ease and produce instant, recognizable results. Minecraft's code-builder "Agent" allows kids to visualize code being executed in real time, performing loops to craft buildings, for example. “One of the things we talk a lot about...is the creator in us all,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an interview with Marketplace. “It's that moment when the students say, ‘wow, look what I did.’ And I see it with my own daughters when they come and show me something that they did. That's the brand. I always feel that Microsoft is at best when we are right behind that moment of creation whether it's a developer or a student. It's their success with our technology that we should celebrate. That's who we are.” The beta version is available now here.
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SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral on May 1 in a top-secret mission to help boost a spy satellite into orbit for the U.S. military. It was the 34th launch for Elon Musk’s commercial spaceflight company.
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When the United Launch Alliance sends their Atlas V rocket into space on April 18, it will mark the end of an era for NASA TV as longtime launch announcer George Diller calls his final liftoff. Diller has served as a launch commentator on NASA Television for the launch countdown of both expendable launch vehicles and the space shuttle, including STS-135, the final space shuttle mission with the launch of Atlantis. He has called the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope aboard Discovery as well as the countdown for the Atlas V rocket carrying the Mars Science Laboratory with the Curiosity rover. In addition to serving as the NASA TV launch commentator, he has also worked as a public affairs specialist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center for 37 years. During a recent press conference, Frank Culbertson, a former NASA astronaut who is now president of Orbital ATK's Space Systems Group, thanked Diller for his service. “A real, true fan of the space program, but also a real contributor,” Culbertson said. “So George, thank you for everything.”
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The U.S. Navy Blue Angels recently treated guests of the Happiest Place on Earth to a magical moment as the team of F/A-18 Hornets executed two passes 500 feet above the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The Blue Angels were on their way to Lakeland, FL, for the annual Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In.
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Norway is planning to build the world's first ship tunnel through the Stadlandet peninsula, an area known to be dangerous to ships because of its rocky terrain and poor weather. The 5,000-foot tunnel will accommodate boats up to 118 feet wide and 162 feet tall and weighing up to 16,000 tons. The cost of the tunnel is estimated at $314 million with work beginning in 2019. The tunnel is expected to be finished in 2023.
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UK-based Surrey NanoSystems have released a video demonstrating their newest product, Vantablack 2.0, a spray-on coating that can trap more than 99.8 percent of incident light. The company says the material is so dark that if you aimed a laser pointer at it, you couldn't even see the dot. The company originally created the coating for aerospace applications such as satellites.  "The original Vantablack coating marked a major milestone, and is fundamental to many companies developing higher-performance equipment," said Ben Jensen of Surrey NanoSystems. "We continue to develop the technology, and the new sprayable version opens-up a whole new range of applications. This is significantly less reflective than, for example, the super-black paint used for managing stray-light in the Hubble Space Telescope."
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The sun highlights the face of Saturn in a recent photo of the gas giant sent back from the Cassini mission. This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 7 degrees below the ring plane and was shot at a distance of approximately 630,000 miles (1 million kilometers) from Saturn. The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency.
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CNN recently undertook a series about iconic aircraft that today's aviation enthusiast may still be able to fly in. In part one of the series, they look at their 20 favorite planes from the last 50 years including aircraft such as the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, the Boeing 747 and the Bombardier CRJ. Head over to CNN to see photos and info on their top 20.
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Nothing to see here but a couple of retired astronauts hanging out at this week's South by Southwest Conference in Austin, TX. Worldwide alumnus and retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts met up with NASA legend Buzz Aldrin right before Aldrin gave a speech at the yearly festival. Virts is seen in the photo wearing Aldrin's credentials.  My friend @AstroTerry showed up to hang with me at #SXSW but if he starts impersonating me since he has my pass don't buy it. You can learn more about Virts and his time as the commander of the International Space Station in this Embry-Riddle interview.  
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LEGO has announced a new series of mini figures that will honor five female researchers and astronauts that have been crucial to the history of NASA. The set will include: Computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, who developed the flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon Katherine Johnson, a mathematician and space scientist who is known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs Sally Ride, the first American woman in space Nancy Grace Roman, one of the first female executives at NASA who was known for planning the Hubble Space Telescope Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space This was designed by science writer Maia Weinstock.
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The United Kingdom’s Birmingham Airport is so famous for its crazy crosswinds that people often gather just to watch the planes attempt to land. Many a pilot have been sent rocking and swaying down the airport’s already uneven landing strips. Check out the video for a compilation of some of the difficult landings.
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After an amazing Super Bowl LI which saw the New England Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons, one of the real stars of the game might not have been the players on the field but the 300 Intel drones in the sky. As halftime performer Lady Gaga began her first number, the foot-long drones danced in the sky behind her, forming the American flag. The drones, fresh off a three-week show at Walt Disney World, each are about a foot long square, weigh just over eight ounces, and are made of simply plastic and foam body to soften any accidental impact. And for those wondering how the NFL was able to fly the drones over the Houston’s NRG Stadium and the 80,000 people inside with current FAA regulations prohibiting either? The answer is two-fold: The NFL got a temporary dispensation from the feds, oh and the opening number was filmed earlier in the week with no audience. You can check out the full performance here.
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