Why some folks in Kent are celebrating: Today So Far
- A busted up, inoperable guitar onced owned by Kurt Cobain was just auctioned off for $596,000.
- Pandemic blows to education greatly depended on your zip code (aka your tax bracket).
- Folks at a Kent-based company are major players in the USA's return to the moon.
This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for May 22, 2023.
Concerns about kids' education rose during pandemic shutdowns. Now we're getting a picture of exactly how much of a hit education took during that time.
Recent studies indicate that how much of a setback a student experienced depends on where they live. I'll break this down real easy: High-income students did OK, lower-income students were hit pretty hard.
KUOW's Sami West reports that learning loss greatly depended on economic status over the past few years. One example is looking at Mercer Island and the Highline School District. Only about 3% of students in Mercer Island are on a free and reduced lunch program. Down the road in the Highline School District, 65% of students qualify for this low-income program. Such programs are often used to measure the level of lower-income students in an area. Mercer Island only registered minor learning losses, while Highline students were set back seven months in math and reading.
There are other Washington districts that West looks into, but the story is generally the same. There are a lot of reasons that could be behind this. Wealthier students could have more access to tech for remote learning, or could have extra guidance that the parents could afford. One official tells KUOW that many students in lower-income areas suffered more trauma during the pandemic from losing family members. Read the full story here.
I once heard Nirvana band members say in an interview that the reason they destroyed their instruments at the end of a show was so they didn't have to do encores. They destroyed a lot of guitars, drums, and amps. One such destroyed guitar, played by Kurt Cobain, was put back together and saved. It was just auctioned off for $596,000, which was 10 times the opening bid ... and still not nearly enough to buy a home in Seattle.
The black Fender Stratocaster was beat up in 1990, before the release of the "Nevermind" album that rocketed Nirvana to historic heights. After being pieced back together, the guitar was signed by members of the band and gifted to Mark Lanegan, singer of the Screaming Trees. Lanegan was known for collaborating far and wide. He worked with members of Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. He was a member of Queens of the Stone Age and wrote music with Belle & Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell. He also collaborated with Cobain, mostly around their mutual love for blues musician Leadbelly.
Lanegan passed away in 2022. Read more about the auctioned Cobain guitar here.
Growing up, my knowledge of Kent was mostly based on "Almost Live" parodies with trucker hats and big hair. How things have changed. Kent is now a key player in the journey back to the moon.
Kent is where Blue Origin is based. That's Jeff Bezos' aerospace company. It just landed a major NASA contract to help develop vehicles to both travel into lunar orbit, and land on the moon's surface. Folks at the Kent operation will now develop systems for the Artemis 5 mission, slated for 2029. Check out the full story here.
This mission will take a crew to the moon's surface (after SpaceX takes a crew there first). It's a significant story for a few reasons. One is that it shows there is business competition for space travel and contracts, which implies where the economy is headed. And two, the moon is the first step toward larger goals. We've been to the moon, but it's still impressive to go there. It will be even more mind expanding to go to Mars, which is the next stop. Think of the moon as a space station of sorts. With its lower gravity, it could be a more economical place to launch longer missions from. If there is ice discovered there, then that makes it even better. You can make rocket fuel from ice.
Whenever I bring up news like this, I find it surprising that locals often don't realize that the Seattle region is a major player in what is called the "space economy" or "space industry." It's like living in Detroit in the early 1900s and not knowing what Henry Ford is up to with those automobile things. It's like living in Seattle in the 1980s and scratching your head anytime someone talks about Nintendo. It's like living around San Jose between the 1950s and 1970s and acting surprised upon hearing the name "Silicon Valley." Within the past few years, this industry doubled in our region — 13,000 jobs contributing to $4.6 billion in annual economic impact in 2022. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell recently noted that Washington state has about 1,300 companies involved in this industry. So there is a lot more space going on around here than just the Space Needle.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
Olena, left, and Iryna, right, smile while tossing bouquets to their wedding guests shortly after getting married on Saturday, April 8, 2023, at a home in Bellevue. The couple first married seven years ago in Ukraine, but gay marriage is not recognized in that country. As refugees in Washington state, their union is recognized. (Megan Farmer / KUOW)
DID YOU KNOW?
What's in a name? When it comes to "Artemis," there's a lot of history — enough to go to the moon and back.
Artemis is the name NASA has given to its current mission to return to the moon. It's actually five separate missions to send robots and humans to the moon's surface using a new spacecraft called "Orion." So far, Artemis 1 is the only mission to be carried out. In 2022, it sent Orion into lunar orbit and brought it back to Earth. Artemis 2 is slated for 2024 and will send a crew of four around the moon and back. Artemis 3 will bring two people back to the moon's surface in 2025. Artemis 4 (2028) and 5 (2029) will bring crews back to the moon, but will use the new Lunar Gateway, which will be a space station around the moon.
NASA did not choose the name Artemis at random, or because it sounds cool. The first time NASA went to the moon, it was through the Apollo program (1968-72). Apollo comes from ancient Greek and Roman mythology. As the story goes, Apollo had a twin sister named Artemis. So when NASA started planning to return to the moon after so long, it seemed appropriate to go with Artemis and link the moon endeavors together.
NASA seems to like taking names from ancient mythology. Before Apollo, there was the Gemini program (from the Zodiac in reference to twins Castor and Pollux in Greek mythology), and before that there was the Mercury program (Roman mythology), both with the goal of perfecting space flight and sending humans into Earth orbit.
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