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Can Elon Musk's satellite plan solve New Brunswick's rural internet problems? – CBC.ca

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At twilight last April 26, Hampton astronomer Paul Owen was hunkered down in his front yard, ready to capture an important moment with his high–resolution camera. He would not be disappointed.

Suddenly, just above Venus, a broken line of light streaked across the western sky. The show lasted barely 90 seconds.

“It’s like looking at a train in the dark, a passenger train in the dark, all these things going by,” said Owen. “It’s quite something to see.”   

What he saw — and photographed — really was a train. A line of 60 individual satellites briefly reflecting in the sun before disappearing from the atmosphere into low Earth orbit. 

It was among the first chains of what will eventually be a network of thousands of new satellites orbiting the Earth 550 kilometres above us.  

The low orbit allows faster internet response times than traditional satellites.

Today, five months and several launches later, nearly 800 of those Starlink satellites are in position.

It is the fulfilment of the dream of superstar engineer Elon Musk to bring high-speed internet service to hard-to-reach rural areas around the globe. And New Brunswick could soon be one of those places.

Paul Owen’s photograph of the April 26 SpaceX satellite launch. The broken line is a train of 60 satellites leaving the Earth’s atmosphere. (Paul Owen, submitted)

That can’t happen soon enough for Stephen Wortman of Durham Bridge. Wortman gets his phone, television, and internet service through Xplornet Fixed Wireless.

He filed one of the 2000 plus intervention letters now attached to the SpaceX Starlink application with the Canadian Radio–television and Telecommunications Commission to provide telecommunications services, including internet, from an international location.

“To have an opportunity to get internet that is comparable to that available for urban citizens is something I didn’t think I would ever see,” wrote Wortman. “I am fully in support of allowing this service to be implemented in Canada.” 

“When it works, it’s great,” Wortman said to CBC News of his current internet service. “Other times, it’s not so great.”

“All I’m looking for is a service provider that can give me quick, consistent internet.”

It’s not clear how well Starlink’s service will perform. Public testing with volunteer households is set to begin this fall. Wortman has applied to be one of the participants.

SpaceX founder Musk, who is also the force behind electric car manufacturer Tesla, is himself cautious about predictions, telling attendees at the Satellite 2021 Conference in Washington, DC last March the service is aimed at the three to four per cent of rural customers “who simply have no connectivity right now, or the connectivity is really bad.”

He did say, however, the service would be superior to 5G wireless in rural settings and subscribers would have enough speed to watch high-definition movies and play video games without difficulty.

But in recent days technology journalists have jumped on a research report from financial analysts at the investment bank Cowen that suggests it may be several years and thousands of more satellites before Starlink will have the capacity to provide faster Internet service to large numbers of consumers.

Engineer Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla. His plan will see thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

“While Starlink has the ability to provide a practical satellite-based broadband solution for the under served, the capacity has limitations in most of the U.S., especially considering the growing demand for bandwidth driven by in-home data-rich applications and devices,” says the report.

It notes, however, the low Earth orbit satellites could eventually prove an “excellent solution” for four billion people around the globe with no access to broadband. 

Starlink has not responded to a request for an interview. A person answering a Starlink Canada phone number in Calgary said simply “We don’t know,” when asked how soon the service would be available. He said there was no one he could refer the call to.

The CRTC, in the meantime, is saying little about the regulatory timeline that would allow the service to be offered to subscribers in Canada.

“As per usual practice, the application was published on the CRTC’s “Interventions” web page for public comment,” reads an unsigned statement to CBC. “The Commission is currently reviewing the application.”

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Two flights into Abbotsford have had recent COVID-19 exposures – Surrey Now-Leader

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Two flights to Abbotsford have each had a recent COVID-19 exposure, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

The agency indicates on its website that the flights involved were WestJet flight 637 from Calgary to Abbotsford on Wednesday, Oct. 14 (rows nine to 15) and Swoop flight 107 from Hamilton to Abbotsford on Monday, Oct. 19 (rows 20 to 26).

The CDC advises that anyone who was on these flights should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

RELATED: Vancouver airport to pilot pre-flight COVID-19 tests for select WestJet passengers

Passengers on domestic flights are not required to self-isolate, but those who have travelled outside of Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival.

Passengers seated on a plane with a case of COVID-19 that was later identified are no longer directly notified of their potential exposure. Instead, anyone who has travelled is asked to monitor the CDC website.

Passengers seated in the affected rows are considered to be at higher risk of exposure due to their proximity to the case.

RELATED: WestJet to offer full refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic



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Two flights into Abbotsford have had recent COVID-19 exposures – Chilliwack Progress

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Two flights to Abbotsford have each had a recent COVID-19 exposure, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

The agency indicates on its website that the flights involved were WestJet flight 637 from Calgary to Abbotsford on Wednesday, Oct. 14 (rows nine to 15) and Swoop flight 107 from Hamilton to Abbotsford on Monday, Oct. 19 (rows 20 to 26).

The CDC advises that anyone who was on these flights should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

RELATED: Vancouver airport to pilot pre-flight COVID-19 tests for select WestJet passengers

Passengers on domestic flights are not required to self-isolate, but those who have travelled outside of Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival.

Passengers seated on a plane with a case of COVID-19 that was later identified are no longer directly notified of their potential exposure. Instead, anyone who has travelled is asked to monitor the CDC website.

Passengers seated in the affected rows are considered to be at higher risk of exposure due to their proximity to the case.

RELATED: WestJet to offer full refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic



vhopes@abbynews.com

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Asteroid samples escaping from jammed NASA spacecraft – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A NASA spacecraft is stuffed with so much asteroid rubble from this week’s grab that it’s jammed open and precious particles are drifting away in space, scientists said Friday.

Scientists announced the news three days after the spacecraft named Osiris-Rex briefly touched asteroid Bennu, NASA’s first attempt at such a mission.

The mission’s lead scientist, Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, said Tuesday’s operation 200 million miles away collected far more material than expected for return to Earth – in the hundreds of grams. The sample container on the end of the robot arm penetrated so deeply into the asteroid and with such force, however, that rocks got sucked in and became wedged around the rim of the lid.

Scientists estimate the sampler pressed as much as 19 inches (48 centimetres) into the rough, crumbly, black terrain.

“We’re almost a victim of our own success here,” Lauretta said at a hastily arranged news conference.

Lauretta said there is nothing flight controllers can do to clear the obstructions and prevent more bits of Bennu from escaping, other than to get the samples into their return capsule as soon as possible.

So, the flight team was scrambling to put the sample container into the capsule as early as Tuesday – much sooner than originally planned – for the long trip home.

“Time is of the essence,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, chief of NASA’s science missions.

This is NASA’s first asteroid sample-return mission. Bennu was chosen because its carbon-rich material is believed to hold the preserved building blocks of our solar system. Getting pieces from this cosmic time capsule could help scientists better understand how the planets formed billions of years ago and how life originated on Earth.

Scientists were stunned – and then dismayed – on Thursday when they saw the pictures coming from Osiris-Rex following its wildly successful touch-and-go at Bennu two days earlier.

A cloud of asteroid particles could be seen swirling around the spacecraft as it backed away from Bennu. The situation appeared to stabilize, according to Lauretta, once the robot arm was locked into place. But it was impossible to know exactly how much had already been lost.

The requirement for the $800 million-plus mission was to bring back a minimum 2 ounces (60 grams).

Regardless of what’s on board, Osiris-Rex will still leave the vicinity of the asteroid in March – that’s the earliest possible departure given the relative locations of Earth and Bennu. The samples won’t make it back until 2023, seven years after the spacecraft rocketed away from Cape Canaveral.

Osiris-Rex will keep drifting away from Bennu and will not orbit it again, as it waits for its scheduled departure.

Because of the sudden turn of events, scientists won’t know how much the sample capsule holds until it’s back on Earth. They initially planned to spin the spacecraft to measure the contents, but that manoeuvr was cancelled since it could spill even more debris.

“I think we’re going to have to wait until we get home to know precisely how much we have,” Lauretta told reporters. “As you can imagine, that’s hard. … But the good news is we see a lot of material.”

Japan, meanwhile, is awaiting its second batch of samples taken from a different asteroid, due back in December.

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