Cement, extreme cold experiments to launch on Orbital cargo ship

by Kerry Sheridan Agence France Presse TAMPA, United States (AFP) — Food for astronauts, new space gardening gear and an experiment to test how cement forms in weightlessness are poised to launch Monday to the International Space Station aboard Orbital ATK’s unmanned Cygnus spacecraft. An extreme cold experiment and a European module to invite plug-and-play research are also among the three tons of cargo scheduled to blast off on an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, […]

US spacewalkers swap, check coolers ‘Leaky’ and ‘Frosty’

by Mariëtte Le Roux Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Astronomers have observed a galaxy a very distant 13.28 billion lightyears away, zooming in closer than ever to the “cosmic dawn” of the Universe’s first stars, they said Wednesday. Pinpointing this period of star birth — which gave rise to oxygen, carbon and other elements in the Universe — is a holy grail for astronomers chasing down the beginning of everything. Now, thanks to […]

Twitter tweak steps up fight against trolls

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Twitter said Tuesday it was stepping up its long-running battle against online trolls, trying to find offenders by looking at “behavioral signals.” The new approach looks at behavioral patterns of users in addition to the content of the tweets, allowing Twitter to find and mute online bullies and trolls. Even if the offending tweets are not a violation of Twitter policy, they may be hidden from users if they […]

Trump pledges to safeguard Chinese telecoms jobs

    by Issam Ahmed © Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump said Sunday he was working with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to prevent telecom giant ZTE from going out of business after it was hit by an American technology sales ban. Writing on Twitter, Trump said he had issued instructions for officials to come up with a rescue plan, saying too many jobs were at risk. “President Xi of […]

The challenge of space gardening: One giant ‘leaf’ for mankind

  Kerry Sheridan Agence France Presse MIAMI, Florida, United States (AFP) — It’s not easy having a green thumb in space. Without gravity, seeds can float away. Water doesn’t pour, but globs up and may drown the roots. And artificial lights and fans must be rigged just right to replicate the sun and wind. But NASA has decided that gardening in space will be crucial for the next generation of explorers, who need to feed […]

NASA plans to send mini-helicopter to Mars

  by Kerry Sheridan Agence France Presse TAMPA, United States (AFP) — The US space agency said Friday it plans to launch the first-ever helicopter to Mars in 2020, a miniature, unmanned drone-like chopper that could boost our understanding of the Red Planet. Known simply as “The Mars Helicopter,” the device weighs less than four pounds (1.8 kilograms), and its main body section, or fuselage, is about the size of a softball. It will be […]

Helicopter taxi apps offer escape from traffic-choked megacities

by Elizabeth Law with Harry Pearl in Jakarta Agence France-Presse Within minutes of using an app to book a ride, Agostino Fernandes was looking down on lush greenery from a helicopter taxi high above Bangalore — one of several Uber-style chopper services taking off to help commuters tackle increasingly congested megacities. In under 30 minutes — a quarter of the time it would have taken from downtown Bangalore by road — Fernandes was strolling through […]

Facebook makes major management overhaul

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Facebook on Tuesday confirmed an unprecedented management team shakeup in the aftermath of a major data privacy scandal that has rocked the social network. Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg remained chief of Facebook, with chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg his second-in-command. Chris Cox, a longtime member of Zuckerberg’s inner circle, was put in charge of Facebook’s core application as well as smartphone services Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, the California-based company confirmed. […]

Uber shows off its vision for future ‘flying taxi’

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — It’s not a bird, nor a plane. But Uber’s new prototype vehicle unveiled Tuesday shows off its vision of the future of transportation — a “flying taxi” that aims to alleviate urban congestion. A model of Uber’s electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle concept (eVTOL) — a cross between a helicopter and a drone — was displayed at the second annual Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles. “Our goal […]

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship heads back to Earth

TAMPA, United States (AFP) — SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon cargo ship left the International Space Station Saturday carrying 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) of gear and prepared to splash down in the Pacific Ocean by mid-afternoon, NASA said. The white supply vessel detached from the orbiting outpost at 9:23 am (1323 GMT), fired its engines three times and slowly began its journey to Earth. “Release confirmed,” said commentator Rob Navias on NASA TV, noting that separation occurred […]

NASA blasts off Mars-bound spacecraft to study quakes

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, United States (AFP) –NASA on Saturday blasted off its latest Mars lander, InSight, designed to perch on the surface and listen for “Marsquakes” ahead of eventual human missions to explore the Red Planet. “Three, two, one, liftoff!” said a NASA commentator as the spacecraft launched on a dark, foggy morning atop an Atlas V rocket at 4:05 am Pacific time (1105 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, marking NASA’s […]

NASA counts down to liftoff of Mars lander, InSight

by Kerry SHERIDAN Agence France Presse TAMPA, United States (AFP) — NASA counted down Saturday to the long-awaited launch of its latest Mars lander, InSight, designed to perch on the surface of the Red Planet and listen for “Marsquakes.” The spacecraft was scheduled to blast off atop an Atlas V rocket at 4:05 am Pacific time (1105 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Foggy weather was the only technical concern ahead of the […]