On a remote mountain in Hawaii, there's a fake planet Mars. Six volunteers are secluded in an imitation Mars habitat where they will work as imitation astronauts for one very real year. The goal: to help NASA understand what life might be like on the red planet—and plan for the day when the dress rehearsals are over, and we blast off for real. Host Lynn Levy has been chronicling this experiment from the moment the crew set foot in their habitat, communicating with them through audio diaries ...
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Unfortunately this week we have an example of where safety was improved over the decades – but the growing tension in the world appears to have reversed some of the gains made. This is largely because of trigger-happy military personnel. Most passengers are blissfully unaware of just how close many commercial airliners have come to being shot down in the recent past, let alone during World Wars. This week we deal with the relatively recent shooting down of Ukraine Airlines SR 752 by the Iranian military. First a few examples of commercial airliners being shot out of the sky. As I mentioned briefly in an earlier podcast, the first known example was on 24 August 1938 during the Second Sino-Japanese War when a DC-2 known as the Kweilin operated by China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) was forced down by Japanese Aircraft inside Chinese territory just north of Hong Kong. The DC-2 was carrying 18 passengers and crew. Apparently all survived the emergency water landing, but not the follow up strafing run by the Japanese pilots. Fifteen died. The next reported commercial airliner shot down was the Kaleva OH-ALL incident on 14th June 1940- a civilian transport and passenger Junkers Ju 52-3/mge) operated by the Finnish carrier Aero O/Y. This time is was shot down by two Soviet Ilyushin DB-3 bombers while en route from Tallinn, Estonia, to Helsinki, Finland. The Soviet Soviet DB-3s bombers opened fire with machine guns and badly damaged Kaleva, causing it to ditch in water a few kilometers northeast of Keri lighthouse. All seven passengers and two crew members on board died. In episode three of this series, I explained how Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was brought down by a Soviet-made Buk surface to air missile. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board the Boeing 777-200 ER died when the missile hit the plane near Donetsk in the Eastern Ukraine. It was fired by separatist rebels who’d been using an older model Buk missile which was promptly wheeled back into Russia after the case of mistaken identity. And that brings us directly to the 8th January 2020 Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 Boeing 737-800 that was shot down by Iran’s armed forces shortly after take-off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 people on board. Initially, Iran denied responsibility suggesting an engine had blown up. Eventually on 11 January, three days after the incident, Iran said it unintentionally shot down the commercial airliner mistaking it for a hostile target. For a start, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was extremely jittery because they had fired dozens of missiles at American bases in Iraq only a few hours before. That was in response to General Qassim Suleimani being killed by an American Drone in Iraq in late 2019.