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By Ather Fawaz
"Mars, here we come!!" exclaims Elon Musk despite explosive ending to Starship's test flight
by Ather Fawaz
Image via Trevor Mahlmann (YouTube) The Starship initiative by SpaceX is meant to make spaceflights to Mars a reality. After a scrubbed launch yesterday courtesy of an auto-abort procedure in the Starship's Raptor engines, once again, SpaceX geared up for a re-run of the test a few hours back. This time, Starship SN8 successfully took flight from its test site in Boca Chica, Texas. A trimmed version of the complete event is embedded below from Trevor Mahlmann's YouTube channel.
Compared to the scrubbed launch, things went better on this one, but not entirely. The gargantuan 160-feet tall rocket, propelled by three Raptor engines, took flight, and intended to rise to a height of 41,000 ft (12,500 m). SpaceX founder Elon Musk called the ascent a success, but it's not clear whether the rocket reached its intended altitude. Nevertheless, after reaching its highest point, the rocket began its journey back to its earthly test site.
Image via Trevor Mahlmann (YouTube) The SN8 prototype performed a spectacular mid-air flipping maneuver to set itself on course to land vertically back to the earth—a feat we've all grown accustomed to seeing with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. The SN8 executed the landing flip successfully, and SpaceX tweeted a closer look at the event as it happened. Impressively, SpaceX claimed that by doing so, the SN8 became the largest spacecraft to perform a landing maneuver of this sort.
But as the rocket prepared to touch down and its boosters tried to slow down its descent to cushion the landing, the rocket's fuel header tank pressure got low. This caused the "touchdown velocity to be high & RUD," during the landing burn, Musk tweeted. Unfortunately, this meant that upon touchdown, the Starship SN8 prototype exploded into flames.
Image via SpaceX Livestream Notwithstanding the fiery, unfortunate event right at the final few moments, SpaceX and Musk hailed the test as a success. For the company, "SN8 did great! Even reaching apogee would’ve been great, so controlling all way to putting the crater in the right spot was epic!!" Musk tweeted, "We got all the data we needed. Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!", he continued; before following up with another tweet exclaiming "Mars, here we come!!"
Elon Musk asks Twitter if it wants to see a gigafactory built in Texas
by Paul Hill
Elon Musk has issued a poll on Twitter asking followers if they want to see a new gigafactory built in Texas. While he didn’t expand much in the post, it has gained over 139,000 votes in the first four hours with almost a full day left to go. At the time of writing, “Hell yeah” responses are beating “Nope” responses 79.3% to 20.7%.
Now that the Chinese-based Gigafactory 3 has been built and Gigafactory 4 construction is underway in Germany, Musk is trying to find the next location for a new gigafactory. The firm also has Gigafactory 1 and Gigafactory 2 based in Storey County, Nevada, U.S., and Buffalo, New York, U.S. respectively.
At an earnings call last week, Elon Musk outlined the vital need to ramp up battery capacity to produce high-capacity models such as the Cybertruck. Commenting on the matter he said:
Throughout Monday and Tuesday, Tesla had been enjoying a rise in share price with prices going from $650 to $960 before tapering off slightly towards the end of trading on Tuesday. It’s unclear what effect Musk’s tweet will have the price going into Wednesday but in pre-market trading, the price was down 1.7% on yesterday’s close price.
Apple announces new green campus in Austin, Texas
by Paul Hill
Apple has announced that it’s expanding operations in Austin, Texas, with the start of construction on a new campus. The new facility will cost $1 billion and cover 3-million-square-feet. The new campus will initially house 5,000 employees from 2022, with the capacity being upgraded to accommodate 15,000 employees later on. When the work is complete, the 15,000 employees will join the already existing 7,000 employees bringing the total to 22,000.
Apple also mentioned the fact that the new Mac Pro, which is due in December, is currently being manufactured in Austin, just a short distance away from the planned campus. The Mac Pro facility currently employs over 500 people who work in a range of including electrical engineering and electronic assembly.
Commenting on the Mac Pro assembly and the planned campus, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said:
In a bid to improve its green credentials, Apple announced that the new campus would be home to native trees. The company is partnering with Austin-based Bartlett Tree Experts to help preserve and increase the native tree stocks. The firm said the trees that have been planned represent a “significant” increase over the number that was on the site before construction started.
According to the latest plans, 60 percent of the campus will be a green space. Included in the 60 percent figure is a 50-acre nature and wildlife preserve which will be open to the public. Lastly, Apple mentioned that the Austin campus will run on 100% renewable energy, some of which will be sourced from on-site solar panels.
By Rich Woods
Apple will once again manufacture its new Mac Pro in Texas
by Rich Woods
Announced at WWDC this year, Apple's new Mac Pro will begin production soon, and today, the Cupertino company confirmed that the new PC will be manufactured at the same Austin, Texas plant where the previous model was manufactured since 2013. The firm said that it's receiving a federal product exclusion, so it's likely that manufacturing these PCs in the U.S. is getting it a deal on taxes on products coming in from China.
"The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful computer ever and we’re proud to be building it in Austin. We thank the administration for their support enabling this opportunity," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. "We believe deeply in the power of American innovation. That’s why every Apple product is designed and engineered in the US, and made up of parts from 36 states, supporting 450,000 jobs with US suppliers, and we’re going to continue growing here."
According to the announcement, the parts in the new Mac Pro are sourced from over a dozen American companies, which are from Arizona, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont. Apple also said that there are two and a half times as many American-made parts in the new Mac Pro compared to the old one, in terms of value.
Apple's plan is to invest $350 billion into the United States economy through 2023, and it says that it's on track to reach that goal. The firm says it supports 2.4 million jobs across the country, and that includes 90,000 of its own employees.
By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft partners with Nextlink Internet in the latest Airband Initiative milestone
by Hamza Jawad
In 2017, Microsoft unveiled the Airband Initiative to bring broadband internet to two million people living in unserved rural areas in the U.S., a goal which was later increased to three million. This year, as part of the initiative, the tech giant has partnered up with the U.S. state of Vermont, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and more recently, with Watch Communications. Last month, Microsoft also termed the rural broadband gap an "urgent national crisis".
Now, the Redmond firm is teaming up with Nextlink Internet to further advance this initiative. Both companies will be aiming to serve high-speed internet access to more than nine million people in the Central U.S., with around one million of them living in rural areas.
Shelley McKinley, Vice President of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft, commented on this partnership in the following way:
States in the U.S. that will benefit from this collaboration include Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Over 29 million people in these places are noted to be living without access to internet at broadband speeds. A number of broadband connectivity technologies will be deployed to significantly decrease the aforementioned figure. While work regarding this is already underway in Texas and Oklahoma, deployment efforts in the other four states will also commence immediately, with rollouts planned through 2024.
Nextlink's CEO, Bill Baker, detailed the advantages offered by this partnership, noting:
These states also contribute around $120 billion in annual agricultural value for the U.S., or 29% of the agricultural output of the country. Microsoft believes broadband internet will provide farmers in these areas with better access to information regarding their crops, and thus, increase the economic output. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has estimated that connected tech in widespread use could increase the annual gross benefit in the U.S. by $47 billion.
Microsoft and Nextlink will be ensuring that once increased connectivity is provided, people living in these states are also given the necessary digital skills training to benefit them further.