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Brits spent more time online than people in Spain, France, and Germany last year
by Paul Hill
The UK’s digital regulator, Ofcom, has released its annual Online Nation report. One of the significant findings in the report is that people in the UK spent more time online (03:37 hours) than people in France (02:20 hours), Germany (02:06 hours), or Spain (03:06 hours) and it also recorded the most app downloads compared to those countries. The age group with the highest amount of time online were those aged 15 to 16 who spent a huge four hours and 54 minutes online each day.
Ofcom looked at how the country was using different services including online shopping, dating apps, video streaming, and social media. The report for the year is interesting too because the pandemic drastically affected how much time people have been spending online. Commenting on the virus’ impact, Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Group Director of Strategy and Research, said:
The report found that online shopping sales rose in the UK by 48%, accounting for £113 billion in 2020 due to the forced closure of high street shops. Those that saw the biggest increase in traffic were food and drinks retailers (up 82%) and household goods retailers (up 76%). Household goods retailers saw an increase in traffic because more people decided to get into home improvement seeing as they were spending most of their time there now.
Interestingly, Ofcom reported that digital pocket money apps and pre-paid debit cards saw an increase in children’s online purchasing power. The availability of pre-paid debit cards has been enabled by the rise of innovative challenger banks in the UK such as Starling Bank which offers Kite accounts for kids.
According to the new report, around 20% of adults between 15 and 34 were using online dating apps before the first lockdown came into effect in March 2020. The most popular app among the 18 to 24s was Tinder while Plenty of Fish was the most popular service in the 45 to 54 age group. Scams all across the board rose last year, including romance scams. Ofcom says that romance scams increased by 12%, causing losses of £18.5 million last year.
With not much to do under lockdown, most adults turned to social video sites with young adults being recorded as particularly heavy users of these services. The 18 to 24 age range saw average YouTube usage increase to one hour and 16 minutes per day, up 11 minutes from 2019. TikTok has grown also greatly with 11 million more people joining the service between September 2019 and March 2020.
Further, Ofcom provided details about visits to adult websites; it said 49% of UK adults (around 26 million) visited an adult website or app in September 2020. The website most popular among Brits was Pornhub which was visited by a third of adults in September 2020 – Ofcom says this represents half of all online men and 16% of online women in the UK.
Finally, social media has a mixed impact on people’s lives according to the report. Nine in ten children between eight and 15 said that social media helped them feel connected to their friends but among those aged seven to 16, social media increased popularity pressures; 66% of boys and 75% of girls said they experienced these pressures.
While social media websites have a minimum age requirement of 13, nearly two-thirds of kids have a social media account by their 11th birthday. By age 15, 95% of kids are on social media.
You can download the report in full from Ofcom’s website.
TWIRL 12: Remains of Chinese rocket land in sea after space station launch
by Paul Hill
Background image via SpaceX There are a handful of fairly routine rocket launches this week but it’s worth mentioning that the remains of the Long March-5B Y2 carrier rocket, which launched the Chinese Space Station recently, landed in the Indian Ocean luckily missing populated areas. In response to the rocket’s remains falling back to Earth in the uncontrolled manner that they did, the United States government called for “responsible space behaviors.”
Friday, May 14
It’s going to be quiet for most of next week in terms of rocket launches but from Friday we could see up to four launches. On Friday, there is one mission marked with ‘no earlier than’ which means Friday is the earliest time the mission will launch but it could come later. The mission in question will see Virgin Galactic launch its VSS Unity rocketplane carrying several revenue-generating payloads as part of the NASA flight opportunities program.
The possible launch of VSS Unity was mentioned in last week’s edition of TWIRL with a no earlier than launch penned in for May 5. The launch did not go ahead last week and is now due on Friday or later.
Saturday, May 15
On Saturday, there are two missions marked with no earlier than and one more definite launch. The two marked as NET are Northrup Grumman’s TacRL-2 mission, which was mentioned in TWIRL 10, and Rocket Lab’s ‘Running Out of Toes’ mission that will carry two BlackSky satellites into orbit. SpaceX has its Starlink 26 mission marked for Saturday too.
The BlackSky satellites that Rocket Lab aims to launch will be part of a constellation that can capture 1000 images per day in four bands and panchromatic mode at 1-metre resolution. The two satellites going up are newer Block 2.1 satellites which come with increased solar arrays that will deliver more power to the satellite. In all, BlackSky will operate 60 satellites that it will renew every three years.
The SpaceX Starlink 26 mission will carry 60 Starlink satellites into orbit which will join the existing Starlink satellites in beaming internet connectivity to subscribers back on Earth. As a secondary payload, there will be two Capella Space satellites aboard too.
SpaceX Starlink 25
Originally scheduled for a launch last Tuesday, SpaceX finally managed to launch its Starlink 25 mission earlier today. The recorded stream is now available to watch below:
TWIRL 11: SpaceX to launch 60 Starlink satellites and maybe Starship SN15
by Paul Hill
Background image via SpaceX We’ve got a pretty quiet week in terms of rocket launches this week. SpaceX will try to launch its Starlink 25 mission, we may see Virgin Galactic launch its VSS Unity rocketplane, and a Long March rocket will put three satellites into orbit to carry out possible SIGINT work. We may also see SpaceX launch its Starship SN15 this week as a launch was scrubbed on Friday.
Tuesday, May 4
On Tuesday, we’ve got just one launch from SpaceX who will be launching its Starlink 25 mission. This mission will send 60 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit where they’ll beam internet connectivity back down to the planet. The satellites will be taken into space atop SpaceX’s trusty Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket which has reliably sent hundreds of Starlink satellites to space. If you’d like to watch the launch, head over to SpaceX’s website at 7:01 p.m. UTC on Tuesday.
Wednesday, May 5
May 5 will be the first date that we could see the launch of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo-class VSS Unity. It’s really important to point out that this launch is marked as no earlier than which means the launch could take place after Wednesday. If the flight does go ahead, VSS Unity will launch from a VMS EVE carrier aircraft and fly to the edge of space. It will carry payloads as part of the NASA flight opportunities program that will generate revenue for Virgin Galactic.
Friday, May 7
The final flight of the week will launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China. A Long March CZ-2C rocket will launch three satellites that have been designated as Yaogan 30 Group 08. The satellites will perform electromagnetic detection and perform other technical tests but to what ends is unknown. It’s speculated that the satellites could be being used for signals intelligence work. No live stream will show this launch but post-launch videos could appear on YouTube afterwards.
We could see SpaceX launch its Starship SN15 from Monday onwards following its flight last Friday that was scrubbed due to bad weather. SpaceX has still not performed a smooth landing of a Starship vehicle to date but NASA recently selected SpaceX’s Starship to land the next Americans on the Moon; this should motivate the firm to nail the landing process.
Rocket Lab to launch more BlackSky satellites in new deal
by Paul Hill
Rocket Lab has announced that it has signed a deal with BlackSky to launch nine of the latter’s satellites across five Electron missions after the successful launch of a BlackSky satellite by Rocket Lab earlier this week. The satellites will be taken into low Earth orbit where they will help deliver real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring services.
Commenting on the deal, Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck said:
According to the announcement, this deal is the largest number of satellites that BlackSky has committed to a single launch provider. Under the arrangement, eight of BlackSky’s 130kg satellites will be launched on four missions throughout the year and will demonstrate Rocket Lab’s responsive launch capability. The agreement also includes options for two additional launches in the fourth quarter.
The year is shaping up to be an important one for Rocket Lab. At the start of the month, it announced a merger with Vector Acquisition Corporation which will see the firm become a publicly-traded company and appear as RKLB on the Nasdaq. This year, the company also has a launch lined up for the U.S. Space Force and it will be sending a mission to the Moon for NASA.
By Ather Fawaz
SpaceX reveals further details for its spaceport in Texas
by Ather Fawaz
Image via SpaceX(Twitter) Back in June, we received confirmation from SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk that the company is building a floating spaceport for space travel and hypersonic flights around the Earth. The floating spaceport would be built from refurbished oil platforms, will house a hyperloop for transportation to and from the land, and will be based in Boca Chica, Texas. Now, we have more details about the project.
As spotted by Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) from CNBC, a new job posting by SpaceX for a 'Resort Development Manager' at Brownsville, Texas, deems the future spaceport at the Boca Chica Village in Texas as a "21st-century Spaceport” and the company’s first resort. Before enlisting the key responsibilities expected of a resort development manager, the company states:
Judging from this and the fact that Starship is now the major focal point of SpaceX's efforts, development and construction for the spaceport have picked up the pace. Just recently, the SN5 prototype for Starship completed a liftoff and landing sequence as part of a test. Though Musk stated that it will be at least a further two to three years before any complete test flights commence.