Tech expert Jefferson Graham took this photo of the SpaceX launch of Iridium satellites in Southern California Dec. 22, 2017. (Photo: Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY
A reused SpaceX rocket carried 10 satellites into orbit from California on Friday, leaving behind a trail of mystery and wonder as it soared into space.
The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg air force base, carrying the latest batch of satellites for Iridium Communications.
The launch in the setting sun created a shining, billowing streak that was widely seen throughout southern California and as far away as Phoenix, Arizona.
Calls reportedly flooded TV stations as far afield as San Diego, more than 200 miles south of the launch site, as people puzzled about what caused the strange sight.
Cars stopped on freeways in Los Angeles so drivers and passengers could take pictures and video.
The Los Angeles fire department issued an advisory that the “mysterious light in the sky” was from the rocket launch.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off in the air, as seen from Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Social Media/Reuters
Jimmy Golen, a sports writer for Associated Press in Boston who was in southern California for the holidays, said he and other tourists saw the long, glowing contrail while touring Warner Brothers studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank.
“People were wondering if it had something to do with movies, or TV or a ufo,” he said. “It was very cool.”
The same rocket carried Iridium satellites into orbit in June. That time, the first stage landed on a floating platform in the Pacific ocean. This time, the rocket was allowed to plunge into the sea.
It was the 18th and final launch of 2017 for SpaceX, which has contracted to replace Iridium’s system with 75 updated satellites. SpaceX has made four launches and expects to make several more to complete the job by mid-2018.
The satellites also carry payloads for global aircraft tracking and a ship-tracking service.
The flash of bright light in the skies over California had social media buzzing Friday afternoon, as of this report my Facebook newsfeed contains a plethora of images. Many making comments about an attack from another planet or from North Korea. As the images were shared on social media, fretting about an alien attack was soon debunked.
Many in the desert took to Facebook and Twitter to show images of the bright white light that illuminated the clouds over the San Jacinto Mountains.
Apace entrepreneur extraordinaire Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, had some fun with the spectacular sight, taunting the Twitterverse with a video and something about a “nuclear alien UFO from North Korea.”
Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea pic.twitter.com/GUIHpKkkp5
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 23, 2017
SpaceX began tweeting around 5 p.m. PT about the launch, which was aired live on its website. Falcon 9 launched around 5:30 p.m., according to tweets from the SpaceX Twitter account.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 23, 2017
Around 5:45 p.m., the engine cut off and the stage separation was confirmed; the second stage engine burn was underway. But that didn’t stop residents across Southern California from tweeting about the light show.
— Amanda (@alias_amanda) December 23, 2017
— Alberto Moreno (@alberto23m1) December 23, 2017
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket delivered 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a company focused on data satellite communications, according to a SpaceX press release.
This launch carried the fourth set of 10 satellites out of 75 total satellites that will form Iridium’s “next generation global satellite constellation,” called Iridium NEXT.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 23, 2017
The satellites were deployed from the rocket about an hour after the initial launch.
SpaceX did not attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first stage of the rocket after launch, as it has done after launches from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Iridium NEXT plans to replace the world’s largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites for a “tech upgrade.”
Iridium is a communications company that says it hopes to deliver “fast speeds and higher throughputs for…aviation, maritime, Internet of Things, terrestrial and government organizations,” according to a press release.
The company said it aims to improve aircraft tracking and surveillance systems. When the full satellite system is completed, Iridium said it hopes air traffic control companies and aircraft operators will purchase its service, which will provide real-time, global visibility of aircraft that are equipped with automatic dependent surveillance broadcast technologies.
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Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop
The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.
As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.
Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.
To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:
- Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
- Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
- Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
- Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.
Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.
Photo: Getty Images
Source: Discount Tire
Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft: Protecting Seniors From Fraud
Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.
A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.
That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.
New Medicare Card for 2018. (Video Courtesy of YouTube)
The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.
People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure lookup tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.
Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:
- Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
- When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
- Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
- Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
- Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
- Report suspected instances of fraud.
- Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.
- Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
- Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
- Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
- Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
- Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.
Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.
With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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