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Another successful flight for SpaceX’s Starship apart from the landing-in-one-piece thing • The Register

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SpaceX continued its rich tradition of destroying Starship prototypes with SN11 succumbing to an explosive end during a high-altitude flight test.

Originally planned for 29 March, the test flight from the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, had been postponed until this morning because a Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) had been unable reach the site in time to observe the test.

The inspector was present today to witness another demonstration of Tesla Technoking Elon Musk’s prowess at blowing up big, shiny rockets.

The test was a repeat of the Serial Number 10 prototype vehicle flight earlier in March. SN10 broke the heart of SpaceX fanbois around the globe by coming so close to complete success. That vehicle managed to return from its high-altitude test in one piece, landing upright. However, seconds later it exploded spectacularly, leaving the way clear (except for some bits of twisted metal) for SN11.

With SN10 almost succeeding, hopes were high for SN11.

The silver rocket, obscured by mist, launched on time. The three Raptor engines appeared to burn normally during the flight, with one shutting down just after the two-minute mark as planned. A second engine was then shut down before the vehicle reached the desired 10km point and the last engine was cut off.

Despite spotty video, the signature “belly flop” of the vehicle was visible as SN11 flipped over for its return to Earth. As it passed through 1km in altitude (according to the SpaceX announcer) the Raptors could be seen gimballing into position and at least one igniting.

And then the video froze again.

However, the audio continued for a few more seconds before a very audible bang was heard. Shortly after, SpaceX’s announcer returned to the air to confirm “another exciting test.”

Exciting for those on the ground, perhaps, as the rocket exploded in the mist.

Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly aside, the test was relatively successful, though there were a few issues during ascent. Musk noted: “Looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed.”

However, the big issue according to SpaceX’s boss was that “something significant happened shortly after landing burn start [sic].”

You think? Not so much Technoking, more Monty Python Swamp King at the rate Musk is ploughing through Starship prototypes, high production rate or not.

Still, we’ll leave the last word to the man himself. ®

®



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France hails victory as Facebook agrees to pay newspapers for content | France

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France has hailed a victory in its long-running quest for fairer action from tech companies after Facebook reached an agreement with a group of national and regional newspapers to pay for content shared by its users.

Facebook on Thursday announced a licensing agreement with the APIG alliance of French national and regional newspapers, which includes Le Parisien and Ouest-France as well as smaller titles. It said this meant “people on Facebook will be able to continue uploading and sharing news stories freely amongst their communities, whilst also ensuring that the copyright of our publishing partners is protected”.

France had been battling for two years to protect the publishing rights and revenue of its press and news agencies against what it termed the domination of powerful tech companies that share news content or show news stories in web searches.

In 2019 France became the first EU country to enact a directive on the publishing rights of media companies and news agencies, called “neighbouring rights”, which required large tech platforms to open talks with publishers seeking remuneration for use of news content. But it has taken long negotiations to reach agreements on paying publishers for content.

No detail was given of the exact amount agreed by Facebook and the APIG.

Pierre Louette, the head of the media group Les Echos-Le Parisien, led the alliance of newspapers who negotiated as a group with Facebook. He said the agreement was “the result of an outspoken and fruitful dialogue between publishers and a leading digital platform”. He said the terms agreed would allow Facebook to implement French law “while generating significant funding” for news publishers, notably the smallest ones.

Other newspapers, such as the national daily Le Monde, have negotiated their own deals in recent months. News agencies have also negotiated separately.

After the 2019 French directive to protect publishers’ rights, a copyright spat raged for more than a year in which French media groups sought to find common ground with international tech firms. Google initially refused to comply, saying media groups already benefited by receiving millions of visits to their websites. News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions complained about not receiving a cut of the millions made from ads displayed alongside news stories, particularly on Google.

But this year Google announced it had reached a draft agreement with the APIG to pay publishers for a selection of content shown in its searches.

Facebook said that besides paying for French content, it would also launch a French news service, Facebook News, in January – a follow-up to similar services in the US and UK – to “give people a dedicated space to access content from trusted and reputable news sources”.

Facebook reached deals with most of Australia’s largest media companies earlier this year. Nine Entertainment, which includes the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, said in its annual report that it was expecting “strong growth in the short-term” from its deals with Facebook and Google.

British newspapers including the Guardian signed up last year to a programme in which Facebook pays to license articles that appear on a dedicated news section on the social media site. Separately, in July Guardian Australia struck a deal with Facebook to license news content.

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Flight Simulator says Windows 11 has been downloaded on Xbox • The Register

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Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves.

Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has suffered numerous setbacks and delays. Just in August, a second unmanned test flight was scrapped after 13 of 24 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system jammed. In a briefing this week, Michelle Parker, chief engineer of space and launch at Boeing, shed more light on the errant components.

Boeing believes the valves malfunctioned due to weather issues, we were told. Florida, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the Starliner is being assembled and tested, is known for hot, humid summers. Parker explained that the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick.

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NUI Galway part of global team that detected giant collision in space

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The joint study between NUI Galway, MIT and Cambridge used the ALMA telescope to provide a ‘window to the composition of young planets’.

An astronomer from NUI Galway is part of an international team that for the first time found evidence of a planet’s atmosphere being stripped away by a giant collision in a nearby star system.

At just 95 light years from Earth, the young star named HD172555 was witness to a massive collision between two newly-formed planets in its planetary system which are estimated to be about the size of Earth.

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile, the joint study between NUI Galway, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Cambridge University, studied the collision and unexpectedly detected a ring of carbon monoxide gas in the dust produced.

“This, for the first time, indicates that impacts can release large amounts of gas as well as dust, and that this gas can survive long enough to be detected,” said Dr Luca Matrà, an advisor for the study and lecturer at NUI Galway’s Centre for Astronomy.

Based on the amount of gas detected, the team was able to estimate that the size of the impact was likely massive and dated it to around 200,000 years ago. “This has the potential to revolutionise our understanding and observability of giant impacts,” Matrà added.

‘Window to composition of planets’

Findings of the study were published yesterday (20 October) in the journal Nature. It solves years of mystery around the unusual composition of dust observed by scientists in the region – indicating the aftermath of a planetary impact like the one that led to the formation of the moon.

The ALMA observatory used for the study consists of 66 radio telescopes working in unison. Ireland gained access to it after joining the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in 2018. In July, it was used in a study to understand how moons are formed.

Carbon monoxide gas was found orbiting in large amounts in the outer terrestrial planet region of the solar system. Matrà said that the amount of gas discovered is 10 to 20pc of the mass of Venus’ atmosphere, which “goes on to show the incredible sensitivity of the obersvations”.

“This puts forward gas observations as a viable detection method of terrestrial planet-forming collisions, and as a window to the composition of young planets,” she said.

Lead author Tajana Schneiderman of MIT said that this the first time scientists have detected the phenomenon of protoplanetary atmosphere being stripped away in a giant impact.

“Everyone is interested in observing a giant impact because we expect them to be common, but we don’t have evidence in a lot of systems for it. Now we have additional insight into these dynamics.”

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