Space tourists could ride this cosmic balloon to the edge of space


Competition in the space tourism industry is heating up, and a new company is taking a unique approach to near-space exploration.

The prospect of space travel has long-since enchanted humanity. Now, as competition heats up across the burgeoning spaceflight industry, this sci-fi fantasy may soon become reality. The company Space Perspective is offering a unique transport twist on the standard spacefaring business model. Rather than harnessing the latest propulsion technology or rocket busters, the company is using a pressurized cabin and a high-altitude balloon to chauffeur tourists to the cusp of the final frontier. But how much will it cost? Also, why balloons?

Space Perspective was founded by co-CEOs Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum. While a balloon may not immediately strike some as the ideal mode of transport for such an undertaking, the “serial entrepreneurs” behind the company have a rich history of lofty ideas tethered to these buoyant instruments.

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When we’ll return to these ‘normal’ activities, according to experts


Eating this close to a person outside your COVID bubble could be a long way offWictor Karkocha/Unsplash

Epidemiologists answer your burning questions.

Many Americans are clamoring to get back to normal life, whether the novel coronavirus is gone or not (and it most certainly is not). The banal hallmarks of everyday life—hair cuts! restaurants! physical human contact!—seem pretty tempting after more than three months of varying degrees of isolation.

Now is, unfortunately, not the time to get back to all of that, at least in the US. We haven’t yet gotten COVID under control. Cases are surging yet again in many states, and some places are now reversing some of their reopening steps in an effort to curb the growth. So, more people than ever are probably wondering: when the heck am I going to be able to live my normal life again?

For those of us who don’t know any epidemiologists to ask personally, the New York Times questioned 511 of them about when they would consider returning to a slate of normal activities. Some were extremely cautious (a few said they may never shake another person’s hand again) and others were cautiously optimistic (one epidemiologist told the Times that they were looking forward to dating again). Together, their responses can give us some guidance about when we might expect to have some semblance of normality again.

Here’s what they said:

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Six experts on how we’ll live, work, and play in cities after COVID-19


Architects and urban planners from Gensler, Harvard, and Bloomberg Associates explain the changes coming to our shared spaces.

For Fast Company’s Shape of Tomorrow series, we’re asking business leaders to share their inside perspective on how the COVID-19 era is transforming their industries. Here’s what’s been lost—and what could be gained—in the new world order.

This pandemic is challenging us, but it also offers a once-in-a-century chance to change course and undo some of the damage from the traffic and congestion and pollution. I work with mayors around the world to improve the quality of life in their cities, and transportation is at the heart of what we’re doing in response to the COVID crisis. Just 10 years ago, when I was transportation commissioner of NYC, closing car traffic through Times Square for pedestrians was on the front page of newspapers for weeks. Now cities around the world are turning to car-free streets as part of the recovery. Not because it’s fun or because of any political agenda, but it’s because streets that are accessible are better for business and better to live in. And the same things that make biking and walking attractive in a pandemic—that they’re resilient and reliable and affordable and you can be socially distanced—were true before the pandemic. The pandemic can give cities a head start on a new road order.

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Walmart’s movie plan will transform parking lots into drive-in theaters


Walmart just made a surprising announcement: it will turn some of its store parking lots into drive-in movie theaters, using its existing real estate to revive a largely defunct way to view movies. The drive-in theaters will start going live in early August, according to the company, but they won’t be available at every Walmart destination. In case you’re wondering: yes, there will be popcorn.

Walmart announced the new plan on Twitter and has already launched a website dedicated to the new move. The drive-in theaters will arrive in partnership with Tribeca, according to Walmart, which says that its new plan will help the public watch movies while maintaining social distancing.

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Spotify lands exclusive rights to new Kim Kardashian West podcast



Spotify has inked an exclusive deal to distribute Kim Kardashian West’s new podcast, a spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: The deal, unlike Spotify’s purchase of “The Ringer” in February and its exclusive arrangement to distribute “The Joe Rogan Experience” beginning this fall, includes female producers and hosts, which could lure a more diverse, female-centric audience to the platform.

Details: The podcast will be co-produced and co-hosted by West and television producer Lori Rothschild Ansaldi, according to the Wall Street Journal, which was first to break the news.

A Spotify spokesperson confirmed details of the Journal’s report, which notes that the podcast will be adjacent to West’s work with the Innocence Project, a nonprofit that focuses on exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals and criminal justice reform.

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Garth Brooks is hitting the road for a drive-in concert


Garth Brooks’ June 27 performance will air live at hundreds of drive-ins across the US.

(CNN)Garth Brooks might be headed to a drive-in concert near you.

The country singer announced on Thursday that he is going to perform at a drive-in theater on June 27. But here’s the best part for his fans: The concert will air live at 300 drive-ins across the country.

“They’re going to run it just like a regular concert, but this is going to be all over North America, one night only,” Brooks said on “Good Morning America.” “We are excited because this is a reason to get out of the house, but at the same time you get to follow all the Covid rules from every individual state and you get to have fun and stay within the guidelines of social distancing … we’re calling it ‘social distancing partying.'”

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Travel after coronavirus (COVID-19): Six ways it will change forever


Flying with masks, for cabin crew and passengers, will become common practice.

Things might be better, or things might be worse, but if there’s one thing that is certain, travel will never be the same again.

Everything will change. It has to. Even if a vaccine is discovered for the novel coronavirus, the way in which we move around and see the world will be forever altered.

After an initial run of discounted fares, flying is likely to be more expensive post-COVID-19.

The big question is: how?

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The future of movie theaters might look a lot like an apple store


From the people who brought you the iPhone: a whole new theatrical experience.

It’s no big secret that the movie theater industry is facing an existential crisis, with serious challenges coming from streaming platforms developed by technology giants like Apple, Netflix, and Amazon, and now a pandemic that’s forced cinemas to shutter around the globe. Weighing the future of movie theaters has become a favorite guessing game for media analysts. Last Friday, the New York Times asked: “Movie Theaters Are on the Brink. Can Wine and Cheese Save Them?”

Maybe not. But there’s reason to believe that the very tech companies threatening the industry could breathe new life into movie theaters.

Last week, rumors circulated that Amazon is interested in acquiring AMC, the largest theater chain in the United States. The news caused a sharp spike in AMC’s stock price. The company has had a rough year: The chain lost money in 2019, despite multiple billion-dollar tentpole releases such as Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, and Frozen 2. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic shut down theaters worldwide. Now, some analysts have speculated that the company might file for bankruptcy. While the theater chain denied the speculation, it raised $500 million in additional debt to weather the current crisis.

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Get ready for all-electric flying car races, they’re coming


The Formula E electric-vehicle racing series was conceived in 2011. Nearly a decade later, EVs are well on the way to mass commercialization. Airspeeder, the first motorsports program for electric flying cars, this week announced raising a seven-figure sum to launch its series. Founders of the flying EV series believe it could accelerate progress toward mainstream sustainable, electric air mobility.

The company announced it had secured funding from two of Australia’s leading technology venture capital firms, Saltwater Capital and Jelix Ventures. Alauda, the tech company behind the series, is based in Adelaide, South Australia. Other investors include EQUALS, a financial firm, and the German logistics company DHL.

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Bursting the bubble : Why sports aren’t coming back soon

The NBA, NFL and MLB are dreaming up ways to play amid a pandemic, with talk of isolating players in Arizona or Las Vegas or maybe on the moon. It all sounds great, until you talk to people who actually know science.

The proposals multiply almost as fast as the coronavirus: The NHL can play in North Dakota! The NBA can play on a cruise ship! MLB can play in a biodome! The NFL can play in its stadiums, with 70,000 fans packed in!

These are fun thought experiments, at least as good a way to spend time in isolation as watching Tiger King. And everyone wants to believe we will be buying peanuts and Cracker Jack this summer. But fans deserve a reality check: According to the experts—medical experts, not the money-making experts in league offices—we will not have sports any time soon. And when we do, we will not attend the games.

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eSports surge as professional sports get canceled


Major sports broadcasters are leaning into eSports to fill the programming gaps left from leagues canceling professional sports games because of coronavirus.

The state of play: ESPN on Sunday aired 12 hours of esports including Rocket League, NBA 2K, and Madden.

Fox Sports aired its first Madden esports tournament last week after agreeing on a broadcast deal with the NFL.

Be smart: Without live sports, the players themselves are looking to eSports to stay connected to fans.

Some athletes, like NBA star Kevin Durant, are using eSports tournaments to raise money for charity. A few tournaments will be used to fund coronavirus relief efforts.

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Roku predicts half of US homes will have cut the cord and dropped cable by 2024


Roku predicts that by 2024, half of all U.S. homes will have never had cable TV or will have canceled their subscription.

Roku sees this trend boosting its business, which it frames as being a “neutral partner at the center of the streaming ecosystem.”

Roku predicts that within four years, half of all U.S. homes will have never had cable TV or will have canceled their subscription, the company said in a letter to investors on Thursday released along with the company’s fourth quarter 2019 results.

The consumer shift from expensive cable TV packages to cheaper and more flexible “over-the-top” internet streaming services has been driving a wave of investment and competition in the media industry.

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