Daily Archives: December 7, 2014

Astronauts lift our spirits. But can we afford to send humans into space?

US Astronaut Bruce McCandless on a Nasa mission in 1984. Photograph: Print Collector/Getty Images The success of the Orion spacecraft test flight has paved the way for America to carry humans to Mars and beyond. Yet many scientists say that manned missions are expensive and unnecessary and that robot probes are the future

Robin McKie

Saturday 6 December 2014 19.03 EST

America’s first step in its attempt to reconquer worlds beyond our planet ended in spectacular success on Friday. An unmanned version of its Orion spacecraft soared more than 3,000 miles into space before splashing down on target in the Pacific ocean. The flight was hailed by Nasa, which says that the spaceship is destined to be the first of a fleet that will carry humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

In many laboratories and research centres, this delight was shared by scientists. A return to sending men and women to other parts of the solar system – years after the US scrapped its last manned space vehicle, the shuttle – cannot come soon enough for them.

But for others, the test flight was viewed as a distinctly unhappy event. Putting humans into space is futile, expensive and ultimately harmful to real science, argue researchers who believe that robot craft represent the future of space exploration and are dismayed by the US’s commitment to return to expensive manned missions.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

CEO pay rises at double the rate of workers

The recession is history if you’re a senior executive. The money is great, the perks are numerous and jobs are plenty in the C-suite universe

Microsoft’s board recently cleared an $84m pay package for CEO Satya Nadella. Photograph: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Siri Srinivas

Friday 5 December 2014 08.15 EST

If you’re a CEO, rest easy this Friday jobs report day.

Economists, policy-makers and other finance spectators may lose sleep over unemployment numbers each month, but experts say that there may be no better time to be a senior executive.

The US unemployment rate for November is expected continue its downward march, after it hit a 5.8% low in October. But the Fed’s beige book predicts a mere 0.2% increase in hourly wage growth this month, which is only a modest 2% boost from the previous year.

If this appears to be only a marginal improvement from the recession years for the middle class, top-level executives have had less to worry about.

Microsoft shareholders just cleared a fat $84m pay package for CEO Satya Nadella. The amount includes base pay, of $918,917, a $3.6m bonus and $79.8m in stock grants that won’t vest until 2019.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice