Planetary pact: China and Russia to launch lunar space station

  by Anastasia CLARK Agence France Presse MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) – Russia and China unveiled plans Tuesday for a joint lunar space station, as Moscow seeks to recapture the glory of its space pioneering days of Soviet times, and Beijing gears up its own extraterrestrial ambitions. Though Moscow was once at the forefront of space travel — it sent the first man into space — its cosmic ambitions have dimmed thanks to poor financing and […]

Israeli 5-minute battery charge aims to fire up electric cars

by Alexandra Vardi HERZLIYA, Israel (AFP) — From flat battery to full charge in just five minutes — an Israeli start-up has developed technology it says could eliminate the “range anxiety” associated with electric cars. Ultra-fast recharge specialists StoreDot have developed a first-generation lithium-ion battery that can rival the filling time of a standard car at the pump. “We are changing the entire experience of the driver, the problem of ‘range anxiety’… that you might […]

Mars rover Perseverance holds its first test drive on ‘Red Planet’

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The Mars rover Perseverance has successfully conducted its first test drive on the Red Planet, the US space agency NASA said Friday. The six-wheeled rover travelled about 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in 33 minutes on Thursday, NASA said. It drove four meters forward, turned in place 150 degrees to the left, and then backed up 2.5 meters, leaving tire tracks in the Martian dust. “This was our first chance […]

Fly me to the Moon: Japan billionaire offers space seats

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — It’s the sort of chance that comes along just once in a blue Moon: a Japanese billionaire is throwing open a private lunar expedition to eight people from around the world. Yusaku Maezawa, an online fashion tycoon, was announced in 2018 as the first man to book a spot aboard the lunar spaceship being developed by SpaceX. Maezawa, who paid an undisclosed sum for the trip expected to launch around 2023, […]

Hi, Robot: Japan’s android pets ease virus isolation

by Harumi OZAWA TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Nami Hamaura says she feels less lonely working from home thanks to her singing companion Charlie, one of a new generation of cute and clever Japanese robots whose sales are booming in the pandemic. Smart home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa have found success worldwide, but tech firms in Japan are reporting huge demand for more humanlike alternatives, as people seek solace during coronavirus isolation. “I felt my […]

NASA releases first audio from Mars, video of landing

  by Chris Lefkow and Lucie Aubourg Agence France Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The US space agency NASA on Monday released the first audio from Mars, a faint crackling recording of a gust of wind captured by the Perseverance rover. NASA also released the first video of last week’s landing of the rover, which is on a mission to search for signs of past life on the Red Planet. A microphone did not […]

America has sent five rovers to Mars — when will humans follow?

by Issam Ahmed and Lucie Aubourg Agence France Presse With its impeccable landing on Thursday, NASA’s Perseverance became the fifth rover to reach Mars — so when can we finally expect the long-held goal of a crewed expedition to materialize? NASA’s current Artemis program is billed as a “Moon to Mars” mission, and acting administrator Steve Jurczyk has reiterated his aspiration of “the mid-to-end of the 2030s” for American boots on the Red Planet. But […]

NASA’s Perseverance rover beams back spectacular new images

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — NASA on Friday released stunning new photographs from Perseverance, including one of the rover being gently lowered to the surface of Mars by a set of cables, the first time such a view has been captured. The high-resolution still was extracted from a video taken by the descent stage of the spacecraft that had transported the rover from Earth. At that moment, the descent stage was using its six-engined […]

Touchdown: NASA’s Perseverance rover ready to search for life on Mars

  by Issam Ahmed and Lucie Aubourg Agence France Presse After seven months in space, NASA’s Perseverance rover survived a nail-biting landing phase to touch down gently on the surface of Mars on Thursday, ready to embark on its mission to search for the signs of ancient microbial life. “Touchdown confirmed,” said operations lead Swati Mohan at around 3:55 pm Eastern Time (2055 GMT), as mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena erupted […]

Deep-freeze case could help transport vaccines in Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) — A South African company is seeking to help solve the logistical nightmare of keeping Covid-19 vaccinations at the ultra-cold temperatures necessary as they are shipped across the continent. Johannesburg-based natural gas producer Renergen is developing an ultra-cold biologic transport freezer for the task as countries throughout Africa plan for rollouts of comprehensive vaccination programmes. The vaccines developed jointly by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech must be stored at […]

Behind the power crisis in petroleum center Texas

by John BIERS and Daniel HOFFMAN Agence France-Presse NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Some 2.7 million households in Texas were still without power as of Wednesday morning in the wake of extremely cold weather buffeting the region. But while the unusual Arctic air mass has lashed numerous states with snow and sleet with more on the way Thursday, Texas, the heart of the country’s oil industry, has seen the worst of the power outages. […]

Perseverance rover lands on Mars this week

  by Lucie AUBOURG Agence France Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — After a seven-month journey, NASA’s Perseverance rover prepares to touch down on Mars on Thursday after first negotiating a risky landing procedure that will mark the start of its multi-year search for signs of ancient microbial life. The Mars 2020 mission, which set off late from Florida in late July, includes the largest ever vehicle to be dispatched to the Red Planet. Built […]