Pfizer’s plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan shipped operational doses of a COVID-19 vaccine across the United States on 13 December 2020. UPS and FedEx are carrying the shipments across the United States. Healthcare workers will be among the first to receive the doses.
This follows the FDA’s emergency use approval for the vaccine on the 12th, shortly following Health Canada’s approval on the 9th. The earliest shipments will provide enough doses to vaccinate 124,500 Canadians and 1.5 million Americans. In this phase, health care workers receiving the vaccine will be receiving it nearly immediately. Though procedures will vary, for the moment states and provinces will receive doses, then send out smaller shipments to health facilities. Those facilities have already pre-designated their most at-risk individuals to get the shot as soon as possible, and one additional follow-up dose a few weeks later.
Though the Pfizer vaccine must be shipped and warehoused at -70 C, the temperature of dry ice or specialized medical or scientific ultracold freezers, it has sufficient stability at standard temperatures to still allow for robust distribution options. These issues will not be a problem in the earliest stages of vaccine distribution. As this and other vaccines become more widely available, they will be offered to additional people based on local distribution plans. It will be at this stage that the Pfizer vaccine’s shelf life of a few days at standard -20 C and 4 C refrigeration temperatures is put to a real-world test.
Though work continues on other vaccines, the moment 18-wheelers and airplanes departed West Michigan represents a climactic moment in a banner year for biotechnology, as well as a triumph for science and industry in the Midwest.
In addition to mentorship and professional development, there is a 2020 scheduled event series. The first event, on 1 Oct 2020 at 6pm Central Time, is an online groupwatch and discussion on the documentary film Picture a Scientist (film trailer).
US space agency director Jim Bridenstein and Human Spaceflight Director Kathy Leuders featured heavily in a 21 September 2020 session that turned mainly around bolstering public interest in NASA’s headline human lunar exploration program, even as they were unable to answer detailed mission design questions that have been delegated to contractors.
Details on just what the plan is for the Artemis lunar landing, however, remained scarce. Kathy Leuders, the main NASA officer in charge of getting astronauts to the Moon, deferred questions about certain mission details, such as whether or not Artemis III would rendezvous with the Lunar Gateway. This was characterized as an optional decision within the scope of the HLS final proposals, which NASA has not yet received, though Bridenstein suggests that part of the Lunar Gateway will be in place by that time.
Landing Artemis III on the Moon by 2024 is possible, according to Bridenstein, but it will take more funding than a continuing resolution or the approximately 600 M$ proposed for HLS by the House of Representatives. NASA’s proposed budget would spend 3.2 G$ on HLS, to support all three ongoing efforts from Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX. Leuders said that without a confirmed budget by February or March 2021, NASA won’t be able to keep its end of the deal with HLS contractors, and the Artemis III mission will miss any chance of a 2024 landing date.
The new LE-9 engine for Japan’s H3 rocket continues to have problems and requires another redesign. As such the first flight of the H3 will be delayed a year, as late as Q1 2022, and its second flight will follow about a year after that.
The additional delay means Japan may have problems meeting its logistical commitments to the International Space Station. The next JAXA cargo mission to the ISS on HTV-X1 had been slated for the third H3 launch, and scheduled for February 2022, a date that was already delayed due to earlier problems with development of the H3 rocket. As JAXA is now redesigning both its flagship rocket and signature human spaceflight support module at the same time, further delays are likely to pile up due to any issues with one or the other.
Though JAXA could theoretically pair the HTV-X with another rocket available commercially, or even, perhaps, replace the missed February 2022 cargo run with one or more commercial ISS resupply routes from the various space companies now offering such services, it would be a distinct shift in its space policy goals and also will cost more money than originally budgeted.
Here is a list of recent aviation safety incidents in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northwest Ontario that were reported to the Transportation Safety Board through 15 August 2020:
17 Jul 2020 – C-FHBS gear up landing at Olds-Didsbury AB 17 Jul 2020 – C-GDUK load jettison near Slave Lake AB 18 Jul 2020 – C-GUSD emergency landing near Winnipeg-St.Andrews 21 Jul 2020 – C-FFVS load jettison north of Red Lake ON 21 Jul 2020 – C-FVIY landing gear issue at Lethbridge 21 Jul 2020 – C-GQNS wire strike at Medstead SK 23 Jul 2020 – C-GRGO equipment failure near Calgary 24 Jul 2020 – C-FBRG damaged on landing at Chapleau ON 27 Jul 2020 – C-GEDF damaged on takeoff near Calmar AB 28 Jul 2020 – N370JA, N53134 loss of separation at Fort McMurray 29 Jul 2020 – AMT200 gear up landing at Regina 30 Jul 2020 – Learjet bird strike on takeoff at Thunder Bay 31 Jul 2020 – C-GKGA cowling separation incident at Regina 01 Aug 2020 – C-FSCT damaged on landing near Sault Ste. Marie ON 04 Aug 2020 – C-FCJZ icing incident at Regina 04 Aug 2020 – C-FHZB damaged on landing at Springbank AB 04 Aug 2020 – C-FSPN control issues at Leaf Rapids ON 04 Aug 2020 – C-GKIB damaged on landing at CFR7 (AB) 08 Aug 2020 – C-GQIF fuel spill at Estevan 11 Aug 2020 – C-FAJR hit by drone at Winnipeg-St.Andrews
Here is a list of recent aviation safety incidents in the Dakotas, Iowa, upper and western Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, as reported to the Federal Aviation Administration through 14 August 2020:
17 Jul 2020 – N1962N damaged on landing at Osceola WI 20 Jul 2020 – N47T gear up landing at Burlington WI 20 Jul 2020 – N570WH wire strike near Dickeyville WI 21 Jul 2020 – N208MP damaged on landing at Thompson Falls MT 21 Jul 2020 – N2943C damaged on landing at Cambridge MN 25 Jul 2020 – N327WB crashed near Imperial NE 25 Jul 2020 – N502KJ fatal crash near Grant NE 27 Jul 2020 – N9278G emergency landing at Hartington NE 27 Jul 2020 – N53163 fatal crash near Corsica SD 27 Jul 2020 – N570WH collision on landing at Dakota WI 27 Jul 2020 – N771GB emergency landing at Hebron NE 29 Jul 2020 – N22709 emergency landing near Watertown SD 30 Jul 2020 – N4388T emergency landing near Powell WY 30 Jul 2020 – N337V fatal crash in Madison County MT 31 Jul 2020 – N16810 wire strike at Hubbard NE 01 Aug 2020 – N58B emergency landing near Helena 03 Aug 2020 – N45303 downdraft crash near Jackson Hole 03 Aug 2020 – N185GK runway excursion on landing at Kalispell 03 Aug 2020 – N67CD gear up landing at Sioux City 08 Aug 2020 – N5580W runway excursion on landing at Sparta WI 09 Aug 2020 – N89LA crashed near Logan IA 09 Aug 2020 – N6849B crashed in residential area near Burlington WI 10 Aug 2020 – N298WY crashed near Grover WY 12 Aug 2020 – N6299R emergency landing at Mosinee WI
On 17 August 2020, a major party convention started a week of events in Milwaukee. Due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the character of the event was changed to emphasize a 2020 that has become a national test on the boundaries of networked telepresence, though a smaller list of dignitaries have still flown in for local events at the Wisconsin Center.
Meanwhile, another major party candidate for president of the United States flew through Minnesota and Wisconsin, speaking on the tarmac at Minneapolis, and at FBOs in Mankato and Oshkosh.