Days of extreme heat raise the odds of hospitalization for infants and expecting mothers, especially black women....

These findings from a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper highlight additional ways that climate change could impair human health and exacerbate racial health disparities.

The results: An additional day of unusually high temperatures during a pregnancy increases the chances of hospitalization by around 2.6% for white women and 5% for black women, according to the analysis of discharge records in Arizona, New York, and Washington state. Another hot day during the second trimester also raises the likelihood that babies will be born dehydrated by 31% and the odds that they’ll be readmitted to the hospital before their first birthday by 3.4%.

The study notes that black women are more likely to be exposed to extreme heat because they tend to live in hotter areas and have less access to air conditioning or other ways of avoiding the heat. 

Other heat risks: The dangers of extreme heat to humans are well known, if not fully understood.

Earlier studies have found that extreme temperatures during gestation and early life result in lower birth rates, higher infant mortality, and impaired cognitive function. Maya Rossin-Slater, an economist at Stanford’s School of Medicine and coauthor of the new study, also worked on a 2017 paper finding that early exposure to high temperatures could affect a person’s earnings three decades later.

That study notes that still-developing fetuses and infants may be especially susceptible to high temperatures. But heat waves also harm adults, increasing violence, suicide rates, hospital visits, deaths, and global inequality.

Worse to come: This is all bad news, because the US is set to experience many more hot days as global warming increases. An earlier United Nations study estimated that the number of days with mean temperatures above 32 ˚C (89.6 ˚F) could climb from one per year in the average US county now to more than 40 by about 2070.

Expand

Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Blue Origin, announced today that his company is teaming up with three other major aerospace firms to design and develop a lunar lander that will help NASA return...

Rivals turned partners: Under the new agreement, Blue Origin will work with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper to develop all the major elements that make up a human-capable lunar lander system. The coalition brings several big rivals into a single prominent bid for NASA’s lunar lander contract for the Artemis program. Lockheed Martin and Blue Origin in particular had both made significant strides on their own lander designs: the former revealed its concept in April, and the latter unveiled Blue Moon a month later

Delegating technologies: Blue Origin, the group’s primary contractor, will build the lander, Blue Moon. It’s propelled by the company’s new BE-7 engine, which packs 10,000 pounds of thrust. The company still needs to make big modifications to ready the vehicle for a human mission, though. 

Lockheed will build the ascent module, which will return astronauts from the lunar surface back into space. The group says that vehicle will be reusable. The company will also train and lead the team that will pilot the lander.

Northrop Grumman will provide the transfer vehicle that ferries astronauts and all essential architecture from NASA’s Gateway platform, which will sit in lunar orbit, to an orbit much closer to the moon that enables Blue Moon to make its descent. This vehicle will likely be based on the company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft. 

Last but not least, Draper will head the development of the descent guidance and avionics software that actually gets Blue Moon on the ground safely. 

The lander system is meant to exploit the capabilities of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, but it could also fly on other rockets. It’s not yet clear whether sending the system to the moon will require multiple launches, nor how extensively this system will interface with Gateway.

Time crunch: NASA’s call for lunar lander proposals has a November 1 deadline. Whoever gets the green light will have to hustle: the agency is behind schedule in developing pretty much every piece of significant hardware needed for Artemis. There already isn’t time to do an uncrewed test landing with the vehicle before a 2024 mission.

Expand