TAMPA: An engine flaw discovered during a launch pad test of Boeing’s Starliner spaceship, designed to carry humans to the International Space Station, has delayed its first crew test flight until next year.
The problem involved failures with several abort engines that did not close as planned and allowed propellant to leak, company officials said in a conference call on Wednesday. “We are confident we identified the root cause and are implementing corrective actions now,” said vice president and program manager of Boeing’s commercial crew program John Mulholland, indicating that “minor design changes” are underway.
The setback means the first crewed test flight will be pushed back to the middle of 2019, he said. Initially, the first test flights with people on board were scheduled to take place late in 2018. Both Boeing and SpaceX are building spaceships to transport astronauts and restore US access to the space station, a capacity lost when the shuttle program was retired in 2011, as planned after 30 years of operation.
It is unclear when these first flights will happen. A report issued last month by a US government auditor said Boeing and SpaceX are unlikely to be able to send astronauts to the ISS next year, resulting in a possible gap in the US presence on the spacecraft. The United States has bought seats for NASA astronauts on board Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft – at a price of more than $80 million each — through November 2019.
Neither SpaceX nor Boeing is expected to be ready to carry out flights with people on board by that date because of various delays in certifying their programs, the independent Government Accountability Office said in its July report. SpaceX and Boeing have not released updated timelines for the first flights of their respective Crew Dragon and Starliner capsules.
LG to supply 5G smartphone to US carrier Sprint in 2019
SEOUL: LG Electronics Inc. said today it will supply a fifth-generation (5G) network handset to U.S.-based mobile carrier Sprint Corp. in the first half of 2019, seeking to expand its presence the North American market.
“Sprint customers will be among the first in the world to experience the incredible speed, reliability and mobility of 5G on this innovative handset built for the country’s first mobile 5G network when it launches in first half of next year,” the U.S. mobile carrier said.
LG Electronics said the cooperation with Sprint will pave the way for the company to expand ties with North American mobile carriers.
“LG has done tremendous work developing technical designs that enable us to be among the first movers in mobile 5G,” Sprint also said.
The South Korean tech firm has not yet provided detailed specifications for the upcoming smart phone.
LG Electronics said the deal indicates that smartphone technologies are being acknowledged overseas, and claimed it will continue to focus efforts on releasing fast and stable 5G network services to users.
A relevant piece published earlier: Galaxy Note 9, Samsung Electronics Co.’s next flagship phablet, will be available for South Korean consumers starting August 24, two weeks after its global showcase, industry insiders said Friday.
The tech giant is set to unveil the Note 9 on Aug. 9 in New York, with local pre-orders to begin Aug. 14, according to sources in the wireless service sector.
Though no details have been released via official channels, a purported image of the device has been leaked by notable twitter user Ice Universe, showing a large smartphone with a new gold or yellow S Pen. There have been rumors that Samsung’s signature stylus may come with Blue tooth capability, a first for the accessory.
The image also revealed that a dual camera module and a fingerprint scanner are positioned horizontally on the rear of the phone, which could allow more room for a larger battery.
It has been widely speculated that the latest model Note will come with a battery capacity of 4,000 mAh compared with its predecessor’s smallish 3,300 mAh, as well as a 6.4-inch screen, which is a tad larger than the Galaxy Note 8’s 6.3-inch display. (Published on 14th July 2018)
Czech study shows chlorella algae prolongs bee’s lives
PRAGUE: A team of Czech specialists have been giving the bees chlorella algae in the form of powder or sweet dough and found out that bees had become more healthy and viable.
Vaclav Kristufek, with the Ceske Budejovice Biology Center of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, has revealed the results after a research on how chlorella algae affect the lives of bees.
Beekeeping farm Koblizek, in the central Czech city of Jihlava, has become the first in the country to offer natural feed supplement for bees with these algae, which helps them during the critical periods of development of the honeybee colonies.
Based on the results of the 4-year study of the scientists, honey production has increased by 17 percent since the bees got fed with algae.
The outcome of the experiment with 30 bee colonies from ten apiaries, made in 2015 and 2016, shows that the freshwater green microalga chlorella is an attractive food for bees, which they stored in pollen cells and used mainly as a source of protein.
Scientists say that chlorella also contains substances that can act as prevention against the bee plague.
Kristufek, who himself is a beekeeper, noticed an interesting coincidence – the bees tend to keep in clouds near the algae dryer.
“It was in the spring when nothing was blooming and there was no pollen at all,” Kristufek said. This was how the idea to use algae as a supplementary food for bees appeared, he added.
Chlorella contains 40 to 50 percent of proteins and other substances that are important for immunity. According to scientists, when a bee receives food with algae, it becomes more lively, there are more bees in the hive, the queen bee lays more eggs, more larvae appear, and bee life gets visibly longer.
Scientists then developed a new natural feed supplement for bees called apialgaprotein. It is designed to be given to bees at certain periods of time, such as in the spring at critical periods of honeybee hive development, in the summer after June 20, when the generation of long-lived bees is being developed, and in autumn.
When chlorella is offered to bees in powder, they use it as pollen. According to the research, this has enhanced the function of the pharyngeal glands of the honeybee.
In 2015, there were 54,416 beekeepers in the Czech Republic who kept 596,313 bee colonies. Annual honey production in the country is around 10,000 tons per year. In 2015, the average honey production was 15.5 kilograms per hive.
NASA counts down to launch of first spacecraft to ‘touch Sun’
TAMPA: NASA counted down Friday to the launch of a $1.5 billion spacecraft that aims to plunge into the Sun’s sizzling atmosphere and become humanity’s first mission to explore a star.
The car-sized Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to blast off on a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida early Saturday.
The 65-minute launch window opens at 3:33 am (0733 GMT), and the weather forecast is 70 percent favorable for takeoff, NASA said.
By coming closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history, the probe’s main goal is to unveil the secrets of the corona, the unusual atmosphere around Sun.
Not only is the corona about 300 times hotter than the Sun’s surface, it also hurls powerful plasma and energetic particles that can unleash geomagnetic space storms, wreaking havoc on Earth by disrupting the power grid.
But these solar outbursts are poorly understood. “The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth,” said Justin Kasper, one of the project scientists and a professor at the University of Michigan.
The probe is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that is just 4.5 inches thick (11.43 centimeters).
The shield should enable the spacecraft to survive its close shave with the center of our solar system, coming within 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometers) of the Sun’s surface.
The heat shield is built to withstand radiation equivalent up to about 500 times the Sun’s radiation here on Earth.
Even in a region where temperatures can reach more than a million degrees Fahrenheit, the sunlight is expected to heat the shield to just around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,371 degrees Celsius).
Scorching, yes? But if all works as planned, the inside of the spacecraft should stay at just 85 F (29 C).
The goal for the Parker Solar Probe is to make 24 passes through the corona during its seven-year mission.
“The sun is full of mysteries,” said Nicky Fox, project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.
“We are ready. We have the perfect payload. We know the questions we want to answer.”
The tools on board will measure the expanding corona and continually flowing atmosphere known as the solar wind, which solar physicist Eugene Parker first described back in 1958. Parker, now 91, recalled that at first, some people did not believe in his theory. But then, the launch of NASA’s Mariner 2 spacecraft in 1962 – becoming the first robotic spacecraft to make a successful planetary encounter – proved them wrong.
“It was just a matter of sitting out the deniers for four years until the Venus Mariner 2 spacecraft showed that, by golly, there was a solar wind,” Parker said earlier this week.
He added that he is “impressed” by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it “a very complex machine.”
Scientists have wanted to build a spacecraft like this for more than 60 years, but only in recent years did the heat shield technology advance enough to be capable of protecting sensitive instruments, according to Fox.
Tools on board will measure high energy particles associated with flares and coronal mass ejections, as well as the changing magnetic field around the Sun. “We will also be listening for plasma waves that we know flow around when particles move,” Fox added.
“And last but not least, we have a white light imager that is taking images of the atmosphere right in front of the Sun.” When it nears the Sun, the probe will travel rapidly enough to go from New York to Tokyo in one minute – some 430,000 miles (700,000 kilometers) per hour, making it the fastest human-made object.