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SpaceX plans to resume space launch this week

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WASHINGTON (JAN 03, 2017): American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (aka SpaceX) has said that it has identified the cause of a launchpad explosion that destroyed a satellite in September and is ready to start launches again.

The company discontinued its launch operations after an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket exploded in Cape Canaveral, destroying a satellite that Facebook planned to use to beam high-speed internet to Africa.

Facebook-Satellite-has-over-by-SpaceX-rocket-blasts

SpaceX Falcon

In a statement today, the California-based company said it had traced the problem to a pressure vessel in the second-stage liquid oxygen tank.

“It will change the way it fuels for now, and in the future will redesign its pressure vessels,” it said.

The statement further said that the company hopes to launch 10 Iridium NEXT communications satellites from a base in California this week.

However, the Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the conclusions of the SpaceX investigation of the September failure.




 

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Electric scooter-sharing moves into the fast lane

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WASHINGTON: How fast is the electric scooter-sharing craze growing? Fast enough to be declared a nuisance and kicked off the streets of San Francisco and a handful of others cities to allow local officials to mull regulations.

And fast enough to draw big investments to allow nimble startups to reach billion-dollar valuations. In the US capital Washington, the electric two-wheelers have become a fixture on city bike paths, zipping along at speeds up to 25 kilometers (15 miles) per hour, sometimes veering onto sidewalks despite warnings to the contrary.

The scooters are “dockless,” meaning they can be rented and left at any location, unlocked with a smartphone app which also indicates the location of the vehicles, in a model similar to new-style bike-sharing startups. Most systems charge $1 to unlock the scooter and 15 cents per minute, so a 10-minute trip would cost $2.50.

“The economics work very well” for both the consumer and the companies, said Sanjay Dastoor, founder and chief executive of Skip Scooters, one of four startups authorized by Washington to deploy up to 400 dockless scooters.

Dastoor offered no specific figures but said riders get inexpensive transportation for short-term trips and companies are able to recoup the costs of the scooter quickly.

Just this year, dockless scooter programs have been launched in a dozen US cities and college campuses. On Friday, California-based Limebike was set to launch scooters in Paris as part of a global expansion plan.

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Delivery robots hit the road in Beijing

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BEIJING: Self-driving delivery robots have emerged in Beijing’s Haidian District delivering packages to their customers.

The service was launched on Monday by China’s leading e-commerce platform JD.com. More than 20 delivery robots have been put on the street to deliver parcels purchased by customers from the platform. Destinations of the initial deliveries cover residential communities nearby JD’s distribution centre in Shangdi and Zhongguancun Software Park.

With a maximum speed of 15 km per hour, each robot can carry up to 30 parcels at a time. Each robot is equipped with radar and sensors to help them recognize traffic lights and their surroundings. Customers will receive a message from JD.com when the robot is about to arrive, and are able to pick up their parcels through face recognition, inputting a code or using a mobile phone app.

“It is very convenient. I believe delivery robot technology will continue to improve. One day, I expect to see them in our buildings, not just waiting outside,” said a JD customer surnamed Cui.

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Google desktop browser support for Android Messages

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ISLAMABAD: Google is set to roll out desktop browser support for Android Messages, allowing users to send, view and receive messages they get on their Android devices to their personal computers (PCs).

The search engine giant plans to roll out the feature that supports text, images and stickers on the web in the coming weeks, The Verge reported. This is reportedly one of the first significant steps in Google’s “push towards chat”, which is the company’s implementation of Rich Communication Services (RCS) inside Android Messages.

“To get started, on the Android Messages website, you scan a quick response (QR) code using the Android Messages mobile app, which creates a link between the two,” the report said. Other improvements to Android Messenger include built-in graphics interchange format (GIF) search, support for smart replies on more carriers, in-line link previews and easy copy/paste for two-factor authentication messages.

According to the report, Google has recommended users to toggle their WiFi network “off and on again” in case they experience problems with the feature. The feature would also function on cellular data.

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