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Purdue, the Cradle of … Spacefarers?
Plus, Purdue stops routine surveillance of unvaccinated students, employees. Sen. Young explains his pending no vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court. And one more chance for 10% off
Thanks to Long Center for the Performing Arts for its ongoing support of the Based in Lafayette reporting project. For more on what’s coming to The Long Center, including a link to show and movie schedules, scroll through today’s edition.
PURDUE’S FIRST ALUMNI ‘SPACEFARER’
Marc Hagle, Purdue class of 1971, earned a distinction at his alma mater Thursday, when he and his wife, Sharon, were passengers on a Blue Origin flight that touched space.
Hagle became the first alum to be what the university is calling a Purdue Spacefarer.
It’s a distinction the university, known for its space mission history, is making as space tourism takes off.
Bottom line: Hagle is not counted among Purdue’s Cradle of Astronauts, which remains with a roll of 27 alums.
The Hagles – who recently gave the lead, $10 million donation for Hagle Hall, the new, $20 million home of the Purdue Bands and Orchestras going up at the corner of Third and Russell streets – were among the passengers for Blue Origin’s 20th mission. Video of their flight showing the Hagles, the first married couple to reach space, sharing a weightless kiss as they took in the view more than 60 miles above the Earth.
Marc Hagle, president and CEO of Tricor International, a residential and commercial property development group in Florida, graduated with a bachelor’s from Purdue in 1971 and a master’s in 1972. Sharon Hagle, a Morris Harvey College graduate, is founder of SpacekidsGlobal that focuses on getting elementary students interested in space travel and STEM fields.
Purdue had to consider the distinctions that qualified an alum of staff member to be part of the Cradle of Astronauts, which includes some of NASA earliest pioneers through those working on commercial missions today, as an era of tourist spaceflight arrived.
According to university accounts, Purdue added Beth Moses, Sirisha Bandla and Audrey Powers, all part of commercial missions but all of whom had worked as trained crew on board crafts that reached an altitude of at least 80 kilometers, or just shy of 50 miles. That’s what the Federal Aviation Administration defines as “space.” (Also of note, Steven Collicott, an aerospace engineering professor, was chosen in 2021 to accompany an experiment into suborbital space aboard an upcoming Virgin Galactic flight.)
The university put it this way in a 2021 release that touted Bandla’s accomplishments:
“Future Boilermakers who venture to space may not merit inclusion in the Cradle simply by breaking the 80-km boundary, however. The (School of Aeronautics and Astronautics) faculty approved an additional classification, Purdue Spacefarer, for Boilermakers who purchase a ticket for space tourism, publicity or other non-research purposes and who are not working on the flight crew. The university will not recognize those in the Purdue Spacefarer category as members of the Cradle.”
PURDUE STOPS ROUTINE COVID SURVEILLANCE
With COVID cases waning after January and February’s Omicron surge, Purdue officials said Friday they suspended routine surveillance testing for the 10% of students, staff and faculty who remain unvaccinated.
Purdue reported that the number of cases is low enough – six positives out of more than 2,000 tests administered since March 18 – to stop a program that had required vaccination or routine testing for students, staff and faculty. The university, in a release, said it would continue to do targeted testing as necessary “for individuals and groups, vaccinated and unvaccinated, where potential spread of infection is possible and case numbers might be growing.” The university also will continue to do wastewater surveillance testing through the city’s plant.
Purdue extended this caveat: “If a change in circumstances arises – such as a surge in case numbers or new variants emerge – routine surveillance testing could be reinstated.”
SEN. YOUNG IS A ‘NO’ ON SUPREME COURT NOMINATION
Sen. Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, said Friday he plans to vote against confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. A vote could come as soon as next week in the Senate, where, as long as Democrats vote for President Joe Biden’s nominees, she’ll be confirmed.
Young joined a raft of Republicans saying they’d vote against the confirmation. Here’s his full statement, released Friday morning:
“After carefully reviewing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s judicial record and statements, I will not be supporting her nomination. The role of a Supreme Court justice is to apply the law as written and uphold the Constitution, not legislate from the bench. Both Judge Jackson’s record and testimony during her confirmation hearings indicate that she does not adhere to originalism as her guiding judicial philosophy.
“Every nominee to our nation’s highest court deserves a thorough but fair vetting, which was not afforded to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominees. Restoring civility to the Supreme Court confirmation process is in our national interest. It can help rebuild trust in both the Court and the Senate itself.
“Throughout this process, I have taken my constitutional responsibilities seriously by researching Judge Jackson’s record and reviewing her testimony. I appreciated Judge Jackson taking time to meet with me this week and respond to my questions, but I will be a no vote when her nomination comes to the Senate floor.”
CLINTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S CASE: Clinton County commissioners’ case against Sheriff Rich Kelly is pretty tangled, with accusations that Kelly and his wife, Ashley, are profiting off an LLC they set up to run the county jail’s commissary. The Kellys have been called out by the State Board of Accounts. And the county is looking to undo the arrangement in a case that includes accusations of nepotism and misuse of public funds. A portion of that case is rolling through Tippecanoe Circuit Court, where Judge Sean Persin held a hearing over arguments over whether the Kellys may use commissary money to pay legal fees connected to the case. Purdue Exponent reporter Joe Duhownik does a pretty good job untangling the arguments this week. Here's a way into that account.
LAST CHANCE … AGAIN: I know I said the 10% off deal for new monthly or yearly subscriptions would cut off at the end of March. But here’s one last shot, through the end of Saturday. As always, I’ll do my best to make it worthwhile.