Certainly, one of the most profitable realms that SpaceX is involved in is satellite Internet service with its Starlink satellites. With the potential to make huge profits, satellite Internet service is something other competing companies are also trying to get into, including Amazon. This week, Amazon’s satellite Internet project attempted to clarify its position in response to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s accusations that Amazon is trying to stifle competition in the sector.
Amazon’s satellite Internet service is called Kuiper, and the company is working to build a broadband network by placing satellites into orbit, just as Starlink has done. Amazon said in the past that the FCC should consider Starlink as a “newly designated system” and subject it to a broader range of regulatory processing after SpaceX submitted a modification request last year.
This week, Amazon representatives have spoken to FCC officials urging the FCC not to approve a modification request SpaceX made for part of its satellite network. According to Amazon, the changes that SpaceX has proposed are too significant to be considered a simple modification by the FCC. Rather, Amazon wants the system to be designated as a “newly designed system” enforcing broader regulatory processing.
Amazon believes that doing so would be consistent with the precedent set by the FCC and would protect the public interest, encourage coordination, and promote competition. Other satellite Internet providers are also pushing back on the Starlink modification request. SpaceX’s modification request was to move about 2800 satellites in the Starlink constellation initial phase to a lower altitude orbit than previously authorized.
The FCC has yet to decide on the proposal, although it allowed SpaceX to put ten satellites into a different orbit last month. SpaceX believes that Amazon is trying to hamstring its operations because Amazon is at least several years away from launching its first satellites.
SpaceX sticks 75th Falcon rocket landing after launching 60 more Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now – Spaceflight Now
Launching through a blanket of low-hanging clouds and light mist, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into the sky over Florida’s Space Coast early Thursday and delivered 60 more Starlink internet satellites to orbit. The rocket’s first stage touched down on SpaceX’s floating landing platform in the Atlantic Ocean to complete its eighth trip to space and back.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket flashed to life and lifted off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 3:24:54 a.m. EST (0824:54 GMT). Fifteen seconds later, the liquid-fueled launcher disappeared into a cloud deck over the seaside spaceport, leaving behind an orange flow that slowly faded with the roar of the Falcon 9’s powerful main engines.
Arcing toward the northeast, the Falcon 9 exceeded the speed of sound and dropped its first stage booster about two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. A single Merlin engine on the upper stage ignited to continue the flight into space, while the first stage descended to a propulsive landing on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” positioned about 400 miles (630 kilometers) downrange from Cape Canaveral.
The successful landing marked the 75th intact recovery of a Falcon rocket booster since December 2015. The booster on Thursday mission — designated B1049 — made its eighth launch and landing after debuting in September 2018, tying another first stage for the most number of flights in SpaceX’s fleet.
A Falcon 9 booster on SpaceX’s previous launch Feb. 15 failed to land on the drone ship after one of its nine main engines shut down prematurely during ascent.
After reaching a preliminary parking orbit, the upper stage coasted halfway around the world before firing its engine again for a one-second orbit adjustment burn over the Indian Ocean. The 60 Starlink satellites deployed from the Falcon 9’s upper stage at 4:29 a.m. EST (0929 GMT) while flying 172 miles (278 kilometers) above Earth just south of New Zealand.
The on-target launch came after a series of delays kept the mission grounded since late January. The delays were caused by weather and unspecified technical issues, and two other Falcon 9 missions with Starlink satellites took off from nearby pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station while the flight from pad 39A stayed earthbound.
The change in the order of missions meant the batch launched Thursday was on the 20th Falcon 9 flight dedicated to carrying Starlink satellites, despite its designation on the military-run Eastern Range as Starlink V1.0-L17. Launches No. 18 and 19 ended up flying before No. 17.
Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket with 60 more satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink internet network.
— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) March 4, 2021
The 60 Starlink satellites, each weighing about a quarter-ton, will unfurl their solar panels and switch on ion krypton thrusters to begin raising their altitude to 341 miles (550 kilometers) in the coming weeks. At that altitude, the satellites will join more than 1,000 active Starlink satellites flying in orbits inclined 53 degrees to the equator, taking them above nearly all of the world’s populated regions.
SpaceX has launched 1,205 Starlink satellites to date with the 60 fresh relay stations delivered to orbit Thursday. But 63 of the Starlinks have been intentionally deorbited or re-entered the atmosphere after failing, and another 20 are not maneuvering or appear to be in the process of deorbiting, according to a tally of Starlink satellites from Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and respected tracker of spaceflight activity.
SpaceX is well on the way to finish deployment of its initial tranche of 1,584 Starlink stations — including spares — later this year. SpaceX won’t stop there, with plans to launch additional orbital “shells” of Starlink satellites into polar orbit to enable global coverage, with a first-generation fleet totaling some 4,400 spacecraft.
The Federal Communications Commission has authorized SpaceX to eventually operate up to 12,000 Starlink satellites.
The company is already providing an interim level of service over parts of the Earth, such as Canada, northern parts of the United States, and the United Kingdom. Beta testing of the Starlink services is already underway with users in those regions. SpaceX is also accepting pre-orders from Starlink consumers, who can pay $99 to reserve their place in line to get Starlink service when it becomes available in their area. For people in the southern United States and other lower-latitude regions, that should come by late 2021, SpaceX says.
Once confirmed, customers will pay $499 for a Starlink antenna and modem, plus $50 in shipping and handling, SpaceX says. A subscription will run $99 per month.
“Starlink continues to improve as SpaceX deploys additional infrastructure and capability, averaging two Starlink launches per month, to add significant on-orbit capacity alongside activation of additional gateways to improve performance and expand service coverage areas across the country,” SpaceX wrote in the filing.
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, tweeted Feb. 9 that SpaceX’s Starlink subsidiary will go public once it has a predictable cash flow.
“Once we can predict cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will IPO,” Musk tweeted.
Until then, SpaceX will be spending cash at a high rate to maintain the Starlink network’s high-tempo deployment, from satellite launches at an average pace of every couple of weeks to the manufacturing of user ground terminals. SpaceX has said the entire project could cost more than $10 billion, but Musk has said the revenue opportunities are even higher, providing resources for SpaceX to advance its audacious plans to send people to Mars.
The centerpiece of SpaceX’s Mars plans is a next-generation fully reusable rocket called the Starship, which the company says will eventually replace the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.
The Falcon 9 launch early Thursday occurred less than a half-day after at atmospheric test flight of a Starship prototype from SpaceX’s development facility in South Texas. The Starship test vehicle made a controlled landing, a first for a Starship descending from high altitude, and a major step forward for the rocket program.
But the prototype exploded a few minutes later, scattering debris across the landing site on Texas Gulf Coast. Nevertheless, SpaceX declared the test a success.
Sixty more Starlink internet satellites are in orbit.
The 60 quarter-ton satellites deployed from a Falcon 9 rocket while flying 172 miles (278 kilometers) above Earth south of New Zealand.
— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) March 4, 2021
SpaceX’s jam-packed launch schedule continues with the next Falcon 9 mission set to blast off Sunday night from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station with 60 more Starlink satellites. That flight is scheduled for 10:41 p.m. EST Sunday (0341 GMT Monday), followed by more Falcon 9 launches with Starlink satellites in the coming weeks.
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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover deploys wind sensor as health checks continue – Firstpost
tech2 News StaffMar 04, 2021 13:59:12 IST
A fortnight since its widely-documented touch down on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover continues to find its bearings and stretch its numerous ‘arms’ on the Red Planet. Since the 18 February landing, the rover team has been performing a methodical battery of tests on its seven science instruments, and begun deploying the ones that work. In the latest deployment, Perseverance deployed its wind sensor, as seen in photographs captured by the navigation cameras on board.
The wind sensor is one of the instruments part of a weather monitoring experiment on the rover called the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). The sensor collects data on air temperature, humidity, radiation, dust and wind around the rover, which is currently parked in its landing site – the Jezero Crater, a 45-km-wide depression in the ground that is thought to have once been home to an ancient lake and river delta.
— Dr. Moogega (무지개) Cooper (@moogega) March 1, 2021
The High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, spotted Perseverance at its landing site, six days after touchdown and in the process of system checks.
From the orbiter’s vantage point over 250 kilometres away in orbit, the ground below Percy’s wheels appears to be loose, dark material, with brighter material underneath. The bright zones are visible on either side of the rover, likely “scoured clear by the descent stage rockets” during descent, as per a statement on the HiRISE website.
In late February, ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter shared another wide view of the rover and components after its descent, littering the surface of the Red Planet. The Perseverance rover is visible in images as a relatively faint spot next to a ridge connecting to one of the smaller craters in the vicinity.
Ingenuity: Perseverance rover’s first ‘big job’
Perseverance’s first big job will be to find an airfield where its little helicopter buddy can take off, according to a Space.com report. Mission controllers received the first status report from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attached to the belly of the rover, hours after its landing. Ingenuity will remain attached to the rover for the next several weeks, NASA had said in a statement at the time. Provided Ingenuity survives the frigid Martian nights to come, where temperatures dip to lows of minus 90 degrees Celsius, the mission team will proceed with the first flight of an aircraft on another world.
If Ingenuity manages to land successfully and remain operable, NASA may send four successors, “each building on the success of the last”, the agency said. These descendants of the Ingenuity rotorcraft can bring an aerial dimension to exploration of Mars.
Asking 'Where do you think you got COVID?' helps contact tracers zero in on superspreader events – CBC.ca
The painstaking detective work of contact tracing usually starts with an infected person and works forward, asking who has that person seen since they became potentially contagious with COVID-19.
But that mainstay of public health has a less high-profile cousin that’s become instrumental in spotting superspreader events quickly — working in reverse.
“Instead of asking who did that person potentially give the virus to, you’re asking where did that person get the virus?” said Dr. Trevor Arnason, associate medical officer of health with Ottawa Public Health.
“It makes you become better at finding people who have COVID-19 who you might not have known about.”
COVID-19 tends to spread explosively in situations where the virus can infect a bunch of people all at once, public health experts say, which is where what’s known as backward tracing comes in handy.
Ottawa Public Health cottoned on to the benefits of backward tracing when emerging evidence from Japan showed how focusing on where a person got COVID-19 and going back to that location helped to find many more who were infected.
“We started more systematically asking everybody, ‘Where do you think you got it? Or who do you think you got this from? And then we started working back from those places. You start to notice these patterns, which we’ve put together in infographics that we’ve shared with the public,” Arnason said.
Another Ottawa example of community transmission. In September, an individual with mild symptoms attended a wedding. 15 days later, 207 people were self-isolating & needed testing. Kids missed school, their parents couldn’t work & testing lines were longer. Our. Actions. Matter. <a href=”https://t.co/QUgqAL7C8O”>pic.twitter.com/QUgqAL7C8O</a>
Infographics tracing how many were affected from one indoor wedding allowed the public to see how seemingly disparate locations tied together, resulting in 22 people from eight households being affected in two weeks.
“Backward contact tracing is used to find the superspreading events. That’s the main goal.”
Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious diseases epidemiologist in Toronto, said most people who are infected don’t pass it to others.
But the instances where an individual goes on to transmit to many others likely reflect how coronavirus transmission clusters at a particular location or environment.
An indoor gym where those working out are unmasked, breathing heavily in what may not be the best ventilated conditions is one example.
“It’s clear that telling people to wear masks when they move around a gym, but not when they’re exercising, which I think has been the protocol in a lot of places, wasn’t enough,” Tuite said.
WATCH | Day in the life of COVID-19 contact tracers [May 2020]:
Backward contact tracing is a lot of work for public-health staff facing down outbreaks, said Tuite, but also potentially high yield.
It can be particularly helpful at the early stages an epidemic — which is long-gone for normal coronavirus, but the introduction of more-transmissible variants of concern is like a do-over, said Tuite, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
“It’s an effective way of suppressing the growth of the variants of concern amongst this larger epidemic that’s happening,” she said.
“Overall, we have declining case counts and so if we can control sparks that are happening with the variants of concern, there is the potential to really keep it under control and at least keep case counts declining.”
Declining case counts mean hospital and health-care capacity can accommodate more surgeries and preventative care and allow the economy underpinning society to recover, too.
For now, Tuite said case counts will only decline if people restrict their interactions.
For Dr. Susy Hota, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto’s University Health Network, keeping the variants of concern at bay is another goal of vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible.
“If we continue to allow transmission to occur, [the variants] will take over a larger and larger proportion of the market, so to speak,” said Hota, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Stopping spread fast
Regardless of variants, forward contact tracing to identify high-risk contacts and possible cases as aggressively as possible so they know to isolate quickly will always be a key public health tool.
For instance, a Manitoba spokesperson said they routinely collect information on where a COVID-positive case may have been exposed. But the focus is on forward contact tracing to stop spread as quickly as possible.
WATCH | Workplace physical distancing innovation:
Hota cautioned there are even more recall challenges with backward contact tracing than forward, using herself as an example.
“Do you think you were more than two metres away when you talked to that person? I think so. But I didn’t have a yardstick with me. And how long do you think you were talking? Oh, I’m terrible at that. I’ll tell you, like, five minutes. I have no idea.”
The recall problem gets amplified because to do backward contact tracing effectively means going back the full 14-day incubation period of the coronavirus. Hota does see a role for backward contact tracing in trying to pin down if there’s a single source of multiple cases, say at a meat-packing plant.
“The truth often doesn’t emerge until the epidemic is over,” Hota said.
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