WASHINGTON: With an eye to launching the first tourists to space by year’s end, Blue Origin, the rocket company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, blasted off the 10th test flight of its New Shepard rocket on Wednesday.
The rocket, carrying no people on board but eight science experiments for NASA, soared skyward from a launchpad in west Texas at 1508 GMT against a clear blue sky. A few minutes into the flight, the capsule separated as planned from the booster and reached its peak height of 66 miles (106 kilometers).
“That is exactly what we were targeting,” said Ariane Cornell, an astronaut for Blue Origin and commentator on the company’s live webcast of the launch.
The frontier of space is internationally agreed to be 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth, known as the Karman Line. Eight minutes after blast-off, the rocket booster fired its engines and made a controlled, upright landing back on Earth, marking the fourth flight for this particular rocket, and the 10th flight test for New Shepard overall. “That, everybody, is a reusable rocket,” said Cornell.
Moments later, the capsule floated to Earth, aided by a trio of parachutes, and touched down in a cloud of dust. The entire mission lasted 10 minutes, 15 seconds. “Looks to have been a wholly successful flight today,” wrote Blue Origin on Twitter. More test flights lie ahead, but the first flights with passengers on board could start by late 2019. “We are aiming for the end of this year,” Cornell said.
“We are not in a rush. We want to take our time and do this right.” The passenger capsule is “roomy,” Cornell said, with six seats and six “big gorgeous windows.” The price per ticket has not yet been announced. The New Shepard rocket first reached space last year, achieving a height of 66 miles in April 2018. Virgin Galactic, headed by British billionaire Richard Branson, is also working on a vessel of its own to carry tourists to space.
On 13th December 2018, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, flew higher than it ever had before, surpassing what the US Air Force considers the boundary of space (50 miles), and marking the first manned flight to space from US soil since 2011. The spaceship made it to a peak height of 51.4 miles (82.7 kilometers). The brief flight – with two pilots on board – was a key milestone for the Virgin Galactic, which is striving to send tourists to space at a cost of $250,000 per seat.
Facebook says it stored ‘millions’ of unencrypted Instagram passwords
SAN FRANCISCO: “Millions” of Instagram users had their passwords stored in unencrypted form on internal servers, Facebook said Thursday, raising its original estimate of tens of thousands.
“We discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format. We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users,” Facebook said in a blog post.
“We will be notifying these users as we did the others. Our investigation has determined that these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed,” the social network said.
Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, revealed last month that the unencrypted passwords of hundreds of millions of users had been stored, putting the number of Instagram users affected in the tens of thousands.
The social network’s handling of user data has been a flashpoint for controversy since it admitted last year that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, used an app that may have hijacked the private details of 87 million users.
Facebook has announced a series of moves to tighten handling of data, including eliminating most of its data-sharing partnerships with outside companies.
The California firm reaches an estimated 2.7 billion people with its core social network, Instagram and messaging applications.
Samsung to inspect Galaxy Fold phones after reviewer complaints
SEOUL: Samsung announced Thursday it will inspect units of its highly anticipated folding smartphone after some reviewers reported screen damage.
A handful of US-based reporters were given the flagship Galaxy Fold phones, priced at $1,980, ahead of the model’s official release next week, and they reported screen issues within days of using the devices.
“The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in,” Bloomberg’s Mark Gunman tweeted.
And Dieter Bohn of The Verge said: “Something happened to my Galaxy Fold screen and caused a bulge… It’s broken.”
Samsung spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold, which is part of the South Korean tech giant’s strategy to propel growth with groundbreaking gadgets.
“We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in a statement after reports of the screen damage emerged.
The firm suggested some reviewers encountered screen failures because a section of the display was removed.
“The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches,” it said.
“Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”
Some of the reviewers, including Bloomberg’s Gunman, had removed this layer.
CNBC’s Steve Kovach said he had not, but still faced major problems with the device.
Samsung is the world’s biggest smartphone maker, and earlier this month launched the 5G version of its top-end Galaxy S10 device.
But despite the recent announcements about its new high-end devices, Samsung has warned of a more than 60 percent plunge in first-quarter operating profit in the face of weakening markets.
The firm is also no stranger to device issues.
Its reputation suffered a major blow after a damaging worldwide recall of its Galaxy Note 7 devices over exploding batteries in 2016, which cost the firm billions of dollars and shattered its global brand image.
Samsung has said it will release the Galaxy Fold as scheduled on April 26.
Ericsson, Swisscom launch Europe’s first large scale 5G network
STOCKHOLM: Telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson said Wednesday it had launched the first European large scale commercial 5G network together with Swiss operator Swisscom, as Ericsson posted a first quarter profit boosted by sales in North America.
The Swedish supplier of network equipment said in a statement that the 5G network, launched in 54 cities in Switzerland, had been switched on just after midnight on April 17, after Swisscom secured a license to operate a 5G network in the country.
Ericsson made the announcement as it reported a first quarter net profit of 2.4 billion kronor ($260 million, 230 million euros), compared to a net loss of 725 million kronor in the corresponding quarter a year ago.
Net sales grew to 48.9 billion kronor, up from 43.4 billion in Q1 of 2018.
Chief executive Borje Ekholm said growth had primarily been driven by sales in North America.
“To date we have publicly announced commercial 5G deals with 18 named operator customers, which, at the moment, is more than any other vendor,” Ekholm said in a statement.
Ekholm also said that as 5G technology was being rolled out, the company would continue to incur costs for field trials and they were expecting large-scale deployments of 5G to begin in parts of Asia by the end of 2019.
“Combined, this will gradually impact short-term margins but strengthen our position in the long term,” he said.
Shares in Ericsson traded up more than three percent on the Stockholm stock exchange following the release of the earnings report, hitting a four-year high in early trading on Wednesday.
Ericsson, one of Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s main rivals in the 5G market, said earlier this year it hadn’t felt any effects from US pressure on countries to ban Huawei’s equipment amid fears that it could compromise the security of the mobile phone networks.