By Alex

The first space race occurred in the 1960s. It was a heated battle between the United States and the now defunct Soviet Union. Now, in 2019 a new heated battle for privatization of space travel has arisen. There are four main competitors.

SpaceXVirginBlue OriginULA
   Founded and run by eccentric billionaire owner Elon Musk, SpaceX is best known for its extremely successful Falcon 9 and launching a car into space on the Falcon Heavy, a variant of the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 is a 23 story tall twin stage rocket that has a reusable first stage. The Falcon 9 has around half the government contracts for national security and the International Space Station, who they supply. The Falcon 9 is also used in the private sector.   English conglomerate Virgin has two units that deal with space travel. The first, Virgin Galactic, is known for its quad engine, dual body plane, White KnightTwo, which launches an eight seater reusable spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, from between its wings. At the end on 2018, Virgin launched SpaceShipTwo into sub-orbit with passengers in it for the first time, starting its era of space tourism (only $250,000 a pop!). Virgin’s second branch, Virgin Orbit, plans to launch smaller, lighter cargo rockets from the wing of a 747. Although this is only in prototype stage, it still works and will be somewhat revolutionary, as this is a less expensive way to launch a rocket, by around $70,000,000    Blue Origin, a space flight company run by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, specializes in suborbital rockets. The first rocket is New Shepard, named after one of the first American astronauts, Alan Shepard. It is nearing the end of its testing stage, and will soon not only carry experiments, but humans. Just like Virgin and SpaceX, the New Shepard is reusable. Blue Origin has a second rocket, although only on paper.They have designed the New Glenn, named after famed astronaut John Glenn. The New Glenn is a is a two stage, 31 story rocket with nine engines. Although it has not yet been built, it has already secured national security contracts and others in the private sector, most likely because it has two times as much storage then any other rocket on the market.     ULA is an acronym for United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between national security contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin space divisions. They hold the other half of the United States space contracts. They are producers of the Atlas family, and the Delta family, both of which are cargo rockets. ULA is also working on the starliner, a replacement for the cargo pod atop the Atlas 5, so the Atlas  can launch astronauts, and is expected to start ferrying astronauts to the ISS this year, limiting our dependence on Russia’s Soyuz for transportation.

Photo Gallery

The Falcon 9 illuminated at its Vandenberg, CA launchpad.

An under view of Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo, with SpaceShipTwo underneath.

Virgin Orbit’s 747-400 with the LauncherOne attached.

New Shepard illuminated at night at its west Texas launch site.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard flight path. The Karman line is defined as the start of space and you can earn US astronaut wings if you go above it.

Blue Origin’s New Glenn Rocket, as compared to a human (Which is the tiny grey spec in the bottom right corner).

A ULA Delta IV heavy taking off in California

A ULA Delta IV on the launch pad

A ULA Atlas 5 approaching the launch pad. This launch is carrying the Mars probe Curiosity.

Interviewing Mrs. Luchios

By Sean

Name:  Mrs. Louchios

Class & Grade taught: Currently 6th ELA

  1. What was your favorite subject in school?  Geography
  2. Who was your favorite teacher in middle school?  Mrs. Shintani – Spanish teacher
  3. To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?  S.O.S. club (Service Over Self club)
  4. What is your favorite holiday?  Christmas
  5. What’s your favorite sports team?  Not really a sports’ fan, but I support the Bears, Bulls, and Cubs.
  6. What’s your favorite song?  I don’t really have one favorite, but I love 80s and 90s music.  I’m also a fan of Bon Jovi.
  7. What is your favorite book?  I don’t have a favorite one I can think of, but I like mysteries and nonfiction dealing with history.
  8. What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?  Reading, watching movies, roller skating
  9. What is your favorite animal?  Dogs – especially Welsh Corgis
  10. What is one of your pet peeves?  Long-talkers…I like people to just get to the point!
  11. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students?  In this area, pressure to do well academically and be involved in too many extracurriculars.

Black Holes: Yin and Yang

By Smaran

In every end there is a beginning. For every beginning there is an end. When life is take away, life is also given. We all know that the standard black hole devours and destroys and it is the end of all things. We know that once something enters the gravitational field and has passed the point of no return, kaput. But what if i told you that a black hole actually could give life. When you think about it while factoring in the information and evidence, it starts to piece together so just here me out. The incredibly immense gravitational pull of the black hole – what we call its tidal force, the same force that the Moon exerts to cause the ocean tides (only on a much larger scale) – will tear the star apart, and devour, or accrete, the remains. But if the star is a white dwarf, the evolutionary endpoint of low- to middle-mass stars like our Sun, something interesting can happen. In these white dwarves, hydrogen fusion has already come to a halt before they get gobbled up. But as the black hole’s tidal forces simultaneously stretches and compresses the star in opposing directions in what is called a tidal disruption event, the compression can actually reignite fusion in the star’s core, even if just for a few seconds, according to new simulations. The destroyer of worlds instead feeds the spark of life.

But here’s the catch: this can only happen if it’s an intermediate mass black hole. For some reason, those seem to be missing from the Universe. There are two categories of black holes in the Universe. There are your regular stellar-mass black holes, typically below around 100 times the mass of the Sun. These are the ones whose collisions are responsible for gravitational wave observations. Then there are the supermassive black holes, ranging from a lower limit of  around 100,000 solar masses, but ranging up to millions or billions of solar masses. Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, is about 4 million solar masses. But the problem is that neither stellar-mass nor supermassive black holes will produce the white dwarf resurrection effect. It is basically as Goldilocks being the dwarf star and the little bear’s stuff being the teenage black holes. A stellar-mass black hole is quite physically small, which means that initially the white dwarf will engulf it; and a supermassive black hole’s tidal forces are so strong that the star will fall into it before it can be disrupted. Only the teenage sized black holes provide just enough leeway for the process to happen.

But for the sake of the article, lets just say that it actually happened. If a white dwarf was to be swallowed by an intermediate mass black hole, the reignited nuclear fusion can convert the typical white dwarf composition of helium, carbon, and oxygen into heavier elements such as iron and calcium. Simulations show that, when the white dwarf is a little farther away from the black hole, more calcium is produced; but when it’s closer, more iron is produced. Since not all of the star ends up devoured by the black hole, these elements can then be blown out into space, where eventually they’ll be incorporated into new stars. So it is basically a win win for both the black hole because it is getting more food and for the universe because it just had a couple of new stars born.

And you can make your own star for the low low price of your soul, Mc. Scrooge’s bank account (Duck Tales), and the Eye of Vishnu. If you give me that then with a little compression here, a time machine there, a white dwarf over there, and a whole lot of matter all the way over there (I don’t know why we need matter but what’s the matter with you), you will make your own little star! Batteries not included.

Like how for every beginning there is an end, this is the end of this article and this series, and thank you for reading the black holes series. If you have any ideas, please ask this email account, and no it is not my real name and my actual account.

Cursed Orb-Chapter 2

By Nikhil

The Gateway Arch

The heroes clashed in the fight of their lives. The man had charged them but a second before he had hit them, he simply vanished a wisp of black smoke and appeared behind them.

He raised his arms and shouted, “nellaf eht fo senob esir!” Immediately undead skeletons clawed their way in from the roof and dropped in a circle around the heroes.

“ If we’re going down, we’ll go down fighting,” George commanded the others. They all nodded in agreement and charged as one. The man’s robes were set on fire by Connor. Jackson used some of the water he stored up and blasted the nearest skeleton into the lava where it slowly burned. Luke slashed down monster left and right and then throwing their bones into the fire. Phoebe slipped a knife out of her utility belt and stabbed one of the skeletons, however it did no damage.

“ My knives don’t work,” Phoebe shouted as she scampered away. But, despite her attempt to run away she struck in the back of the head by a rib thrown by the skeleton. She simply lay their, still and unmoving.

“ I’ll help her. You guys focus on killing those beasts and the demon behind them.” Malcolm exclaimed, “ Jackson! Need some water here!”

“ On it,” Jackson screamed back. He then sent some water over to Malcolm. Malcolm quickly morphed it into water vapor, then a hurricane. He sent it in front of him, battering away the skeletons and clearing a path to Phoebe. Once he reached her, he ordered it to surround them to keep them from being attacked. He then felt for her pulse and found it to be a soft beat but it was still there.

“ She’s still alive!” Malcolm shouted with joy. This filled the whole team with renewed energy. Malcolm and Martha worked together to create a fiery whirlwind which they sent blazing around the room, incinerating the skeletons on the spot. Soon after, all the skeletons were burned to a crisp. The only one left standing was the demon himself.

“ We killed all your minions, and know we’re going to kill you as well,” snarled Jackson.

“ Bravo,” the man said with a exasperated sigh. “ You defeated those weaklings. I’ll grace with my presence in battle because you’re starting to bore me.”

Oh no! She’s going to die. What will we do,” he said in a perfect mimic of Malcolm, “ Do you know how boring that gets after hearing the same thing for thousands of years? It’s nothing more than a soap opera.”

The team looked at each other and nodded in agreement. They were going to crush this man like a gnat. Malcolm laid Phoebe down on the floor gently, careful to avoid the flowing lava. They thrust out their hands and summoned all of their strength, and readied it. On George’s command, they each released their powers in the most devastating way and directed it at the monster. A mixture of fire, water and earth all streaked toward the demon, yet it did no damage. He simply opened his robes and the elements were sucked into it. What they saw represented a black hole. The inside of the cape was a swirling black mass with purple specks.

“ This,” he said pointing at his cloak in dramatic fashion, “ My friends, is the cloak of Tratustan, the glorious city of demons. It absorbs all elements that can come it’s way,” the demon responded. Despite this development, instead of giving up, the heroes gained hope because they realized that they had learned something. Maybe elements couldn’t hurt him, but weapons could. Malcolm secretly picked up Phoebe’s knife and hurled it at the demon with all of his might. It was headed straight at the head of the beast, but inches from the beast’s face the knife suddenly froze.

“ Did you really think a parlor trick like that could kill me. I’m an all-powerful demon from the depths of the pits of Mother Motu. And you thought that a simple knife could kill me,” he said after a slight pause, “ You humans are even lower of a species than I could have thought of. How low you have fallen in the last thousand years. If you are the earth’s greatest heroes, you have no chance.”

“ Oh, shut up. We’re more than a match for you,” Luke replied while pointing his sword at the demon.

Phoebe roused a little and Malcolm saw her and went to her side.

“You have to learn his name and banish him,” she silently whispered into Malcolm’s ear.

“ Hey demon, how do we know how powerful you are. We don’t even know your name,” Malcolm called out.

“ Up to your tricks again. I know the banishing spell you are trying to cast. You need my name and you I’ll never find out,” the fiend replied.

“ Well then, looks like we’ll have to kill you the old fashioned way,” George snarled.

He grabbed the dagger out of the air and swung at the demon. At that moment all chaos broke loose. Luke advanced toward the demon with sword swinging and eyes blazing. Meanwhile, George was pulling up pillars to trap the demon. Martha combined powers with Malcolm again and sent it spinning around behind the demon. Connor tried to set the cloak on fire, but to no avail. Jackson blasted the walls above the beast to make it collapse on him. The battle raged on for a few minutes. It ended with the demon’s cloak in tatters and the heroes still standing.

“ It’s time to end this, once and for all,” George exclaimed. Once again, they each released their powers and directed it at the demon. His screams shook the earth and the ceiling threatened to collapse.

“ We have to leave now,” Martha shouted, “ Malcolm! Get Phoebe.” Malcolm picked up Phoebe and all them ran for the gate. When they reached the gate a swirling white portal opened and they entered through. They seemed to be spinning for a few moments until they finally were released. They landed on hard ground and were astounded by what they had found.


There’s snow place like home

By Alexis

Do you have a tradition for the holidays? A secret Santa exchange or a traditional cookie recipe? Do you make snow angels and read books in front of the fire? Many people do, there’s no other way to celebrate the holidays with your family and friends.

    When winter break rolls around, you expect at least one thing— snow. As elementary students, we ran outside at the sighting of the first flake and built snowmen, made snow angels, and went sledding. This year, there was almost no snow, but we got our snow in January. When we get older however, we need to help our moms and dads with shoveling and we need to deal with the traffic that holds up our schedules. Either way— young or old, we all need a snow day in our agenda!

    As you bake cookies or drink hot chocolate, a holiday song usually plays in the background, whether it’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey or “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel. Festivals of all sorts also encourage this kind of cheer, such as Jingle Bash. There are other festivities in Illinois as well, such as the Homewood chocolate fest and one in Chicago, the Winter Wonderfest.

Starving Knight

By Richard

By: Richard

    Madness had nothing to do with the ‘peculiar’ disease, no, it was my own determination that led me to get my passionate degree of true devotion! Someone with a higher intelligence than the average joe would understand me, someone, someone that would not think of me to be infatuated. For you see, twas’ my own dogged attempts to cure this world of such diabolical evils of the world. To be one of the greats, it was my own self-indulgent motivation to persevere to be one of the great. Achilles, the great Greek warrior, Hector, the Trojan Warrior, Hercules the son of Zeus, but, my dear camarades, do you know the major downfall of all of these so-called “heroes”? HA! It is the very presence of their weaknesses! Achilles’ Heel, Hector’s fall, Hercules’s quality of being mortal! These poisonous qualities would inevitably painfully stab each of these heroes in the back. But, that time and age has gone away, and made way for new supernatural people, such as the humble yet courageous Kazimir, the embodiment of the greatness that has fallen from the sky. You might have embedded in your mind that I might be contradicting myself, but, to change your mind, to shift your paradigm, to change the very perspective that you might have acquired, you must go into my shoes. Days long ago that seem eons away, my earlier life. My humble beginning starts like any ordinary lad, a dream, and a burning, scorching desire to achieve it.

    My family had been ‘poor’ so to speak, we were on welfare for most of our lives in fact. My dad was a wretched man who would go loiter around the town, being reputable for doing unspeakable crimes and always having the worst mood of anybody. My mother would seem to not even acknowledge my existence, to her, I was insignificant… Anyway, before this becomes any slight more tedious, let us get back to my youthful self. At that time, no matter the circumstances, I thought the world was a beautiful place, a place where dreams were achievable, a place where the impossible was possible. This world would be my oyster, and I was sure to conquer it. I was aided in this dream of mine with a group of friends, people who had also suffered in similar situations. As we headed toward our futures, the fateful day had come… That day had been a normal day at first, my friends and I were playing together near an active militia, the army men were preparing to fire their broad muskets at targets, except for one wrong thing; one of the new members had just come into the militia. This member was, if I can put it into nice terms, needing extra-practice. His balance was steady, but, his aim was off, which would be included in the terrible event in that near future at the time. As we were playing, that one member had loaded his musket, aimed at the target, but, without realizing, he would inevitably miss, and hit one of my friends…

    It happened so fast we didn’t know what was going on. But, one thing remained, I survived by hiding behind a wagon, and I would get those militiamen if it were the last thing I did. So, I would spend a year trying to accuse them guilty, but, no such luck. Mad at the entire town, I fled, looking for salvation.

    Knowing that my family wouldn’t care about me and whether or not I left or not. I sent out on my miserable adventure, still having a small, but still existent, flame for glory. I had stole an old yet sturdy and favorable horse, Ash, due to its dark, cloudy color. For food rations, I got some bread and goat cheese as compensation for my friends’ deaths. As I sent out in my way, I gazed at the small, wooden, straw, houses and the passing horses, chickens, and people peacefully going among their way. Suddenly, in the far away distance, I saw angry citizens. Citizens with pitchforks and flaming torches. I was perplexed when I saw this, but I soon realized that they were chasing me. “How could you?!”, “How dare you insult our noble militia?!”. Were they serious? How wrong they were! How could they be so lacking in intelligence?! Finally, a sensation came up in my mind that I had never experienced in my mind before.