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Space companies are racing to beam web access to the entire planet. But ‘space junk’ is a big worry – CNBC

February 16th, 2020

An computerized image showing a satellite orbiting the Earth.

Jose Luis Stephens | EyeEm | Getty Images

Space companies, from Elon Musk‘s SpaceX to start-up OneWeb, are racing to launch satellites into space with the aim of creating global internet coverage on Earth. But there’s one big problem, experts say — the creation and threat from so-called “space junk.”

This debris floating in space could interfere with future space missions and satellite launches — and even send objects hurtling back to Earth.

The latest episode of CNBC’s “Beyond the Valley” podcast looks at London-based start-up OneWeb’s mission to launch satellites into space and the issues surrounding space junk and regulation.

What is space junk?

There have been over 5,000 launches into space since the late 1950s, according to the European Space Agency (ESA) with nearly 9,000 satellites put up there. About 5,000 are still in space but under 2,000 are actually functioning.

These human-made objects, which can be an entire satellite or even bits of rockets, are dubbed as space junk.

The ESA said there are 22,300 pieces of debris that are traceable but there could be hundreds of thousands more than can’t be tracked.

Space junk has gotten worse for a number of reasons. When rockets are launched, certain “stages” of rockets detach from the main body of the vessel. These explode, splintering into lots of pieces. That’s one cause of the growing amount of junk.

One particular major event happened in 2009, when two satellites collided with each other, resulting in 2,300 trackable fragments being generated, the ESA said.

The other big problem is countries launching anti-satellite missiles. For example, in 2007, China blew up one of its own missiles, increasing the amount of trackable debris size by 25% in that one incident. And in 2009, India carried out a similar missile launch on one of its own satellites.

As space junk increases, there could be a snowball effect. If more debris is travelling at thousands of miles per hour in space and it hits another object, that can result in more splintering and more junk.

“Imagine how dangerous sailing the high seas would be if all the ships ever lost in history were still drifting on top of the water,” ESA Director General Jan Worner said in a statement last year.

What’s the issue?

The biggest concern right now is the plans for thousands of satellites from various companies being launched into space.

SpaceX and OneWeb are among the companies in this race. The aim is to create so-called mega-constellations that are able to provide internet access to anywhere in the world, even the remotest parts of Earth. Both SpaceX and OneWeb have already begun launching satellites.

There are a number of risks associated with space junk. The first is that this debris could hit spacecraft carrying humans or even the International Space Station.

Another risk is satellites hitting each other. And finally, the ESA warns that large space debris that “reenter into the atmosphere in an uncontrolled way can reach the ground and create risk to the population on ground.”

“The space environment is a very delicate one,” Christopher Newman, professor of space law and policy at Northumbria University in the U.K., told CNBC’s “Beyond the Valley” podcast.

“And for many, many years there was the prevalence of what we call ‘big sky theory’ — space is big, we don’t need to worry about it. But actually the amount of operational space we are using is really quite small and especially now, with the constellations looking to occupy large areas of low Earth orbit, it’s becoming even more crowded.”

What is being done?

Projects have been authorized with the aim of removing the floating space rubbish.

Last year, ESA commissioned a consortium led by Swiss start-up ClearSpace, to lead a mission to remove a specific item of debris from space.

A video on ClearSpace’s website shows how its technology would work. A spacecraft would be sent up toward the junk and an arm would extend out to grab the item. This mission is slated for 2025.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has commissioned another start-up Astroscale to remove space debris, and the mission is slated to begin in 2022.

“Active debris removal is going to become an area where I think we’re going to have to pay increased attention to,” Newman said.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, explained how he’s trying to make his company’s launches sustainable.

“We are making sure that what we are putting up in space … what really matters is you take this stuff down, when we take it down our satellites will disintegrate … upon re-entry (into Earth),” Steckel said during an interview for CNBC’s “Beyond the Valley” podcast.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by CNBC.

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Redbox debuts a free, ad-backed live TV service – Engadget

February 16th, 2020

Chance The Rapper 2020 NBA All-Star Haltime! – NBA

February 16th, 2020

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GWENT: The Witcher Card Game Coming to Android Next Month – Comicbook.com

February 16th, 2020

You might be able to see Mars disappear behind the moon this week – The Loop

February 16th, 2020

If the sky is clear Tuesday morning, then most Canadians will get a chance at seeing a unique astronomical phenomenon.

The moon will pass by Mars, in what skygazers call the occultation of Mars.

“You’ll have Mars and the Moon moving closer and closer together as the sun comes up. Eventually, the Moon will cover Mars, or occult it, and we’ll be able to watch that happen from Canada – weather allowing, of course,” Elaina Hyde, a professor of physics and astronomy at York University in Toronto, said Sunday on CTV News Channel.

What anyone looking up at that moment will see is the bright shine of Mars suddenly vanishing behind the moon.

B.C. and most of Alberta won’t get to witness the occultation. Should the skies be clear, Medicine Hat, Alta. will be the first sizable Canadian community to spot Mars vanishing behind the moon, at approximately 4:47 a.m. MST.

Over a period of 90 minutes or so, Mars will disappear west-to-east across Canada. Projections from the International Occultation Timing Association call for the disappearance to occur in Winnipeg at 6:02 a.m. CST, in Toronto at 7:26 a.m. EST, in Montreal at 7:39 a.m. EST, in Halifax at 9:02 a.m. AST and in St. John’s, N.L. at 9:51 a.m. NST.

In all areas, Mars will be visible in the sky for about three hours prior to its disappearance and will reappear on the other side of the moon approximately 75 to 80 minutes after it vanishes – although the reappearance will be difficult to spot if sunrise has occurred.

Calgary is too far west to see the vanishing act, but will witness the red planet’s reappearance at approximately 5:59 a.m. MST. Ditto for Edmonton three minutes later.

The occultation will also be visible across most of the continental U.S., save for some parts of the West Coast, as well as Mexico and most of Central America.

“We’re not going to have another chance to see an occultation of Mars by the moon this whole entire year,” Hyde said. There will be four other occultations in 2020, all visible from the Southern Hemisphere.

The occultation will be too distant to be visible with the naked eye, but anyone with a telescope or binoculars will be able to spot Mars in its final moments before it vanishes and first moments after it reappears.

For everyone else, York University will have a telescope in its observatory pointed at the moon Tuesday morning, and will be livestreaming video of the occultation as long as the view is clear.

More on this story from CTVNews.ca

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StarCraft: Ghost Xbox leak reveals what could have been two decades ago – SlashGear

February 16th, 2020

Blizzard may have been getting a lot of flak lately for its failure to reinvigorate the classic WarCraft III through its Reforged remaster but that is just one of the recent high-profile flops the game developer has made. More than a decade ago, it called quits on what could have been a major milestone for Blizzard’s entry into the console space but, after years of delays, StarCraft: Ghost was eventually canceled. Now thanks to the magic of the Internet and some brave source, the public is getting a taste of what the game on the Xbox could have been.

Ghost was a huge test of Blizzard’s game development chops, which is probably also a factor in its failure. Unlike the main StarCraft series, Ghost was a third-person shooter rather than a real-time strategy. It was also intended for the then-current generation of consoles, including the Xbox, the PlayStation 2, and even the GameCube, further increasing the hype around the title.

That was in 2002 and by 2008, it was clear that StarCraft: Ghost wouldn’t be coming at all. It was only in 2014 that Blizzard publicly acknowledged that it was canceled, along with WarCraft Adventures and the Titan MMO. This weekend, however, it seems that someone was able to get hold of an Xbox build of the game which has then made rounds on YouTube.

Being a game developed for the early generation of consoles in the mid-2000s, you shouldn’t get your hopes up about the quality of the graphics. Allegedly lifted from a developer kit, the game is also buggy and has caused at least one console to crash during video recording. Still, it’s interesting to finally see the vision Blizzard had for the game in action.

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The Xbox build for StarCraft: Ghost is going around on the Internet, in secret of course. Only time will tell before Activision Blizzard wields its mightly DMCA hammer to wipe its traces off the Internet. Until then, perhaps it could inspire fans of the franchise to pick up where the company failed to take off. Who knows, maybe 13 years later, fans will get a VR “sequel” to the franchise as well.

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Drew Carey’s ex-fiancée Amie Harwick murdered, ex-boyfriend arrested, police say – Fox News

February 16th, 2020

Dr. Amie Harwick, the ex-fiancée of comic and “The Price Is Right” host Drew Carey, was found dead in a Hollywood Hills neighborhood, and an ex-boyfriend was arrested on suspicion of murder, police told multiple news outlets Sunday.

Harwick, 38, a Los Angeles family therapist, apparently plummeted from a third-floor balcony to her death early Saturday, TMZ reported.

The suspect, 41-year-old Gareth Pursehouse, was arrested outside his home in Playa del Rey and booked on murder charges, the website added. Harwick and Pursehouse recently had broken up and she filed a restraining order against him, but it recently expired, Deadline reported.

Dr. Amie Harwick, seen here with Drew Carey in December 2017, was murdered in Los Angeles over the weekend, police said.

Dr. Amie Harwick, seen here with Drew Carey in December 2017, was murdered in Los Angeles over the weekend, police said. (Michael Bezjian/WireImage, File)

FORMER ‘PRICE IS RIGHT’ MODEL SAYS DREW CAREY ‘CELEBRATES WOMEN’

Harwick and Carey had started dating in 2017 and announced their engagement in 2018 — but called it off less than a year later. A representative for Carey described the split as “very amicable.”

Police said they were responding to reports of a “woman screaming” on Saturday when her roommate said Harwick was being attacked, KCBS reported. When officers found Harwick, they determined her injuries were “consistent with a fall.” Doctors pronounced her dead at a nearby hospital.

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Detectives also found “possible evidence of a struggle,” the news station added.

In addition to Harwick’s work in therapy, she also appeared in the 2015 documentary, “Addicted to Sexting.”

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Japan’s economy shrinks at fastest rate since 2014 – BBC News

February 16th, 2020
Commuters walk on concourse at a railway's terminal station in Tokyo on January 31, 2020.Image copyright Getty Images

Japan’s economy shrank at the fastest rate in five years at the end of 2019 as it was hit by a sales tax rise, a major typhoon and weak global demand.

Annualised gross domestic product (GDP) fell by a much steeper than expected 6.3% in October-December.

There are also concerns the coronavirus outbreak will mean the slump continues this quarter.

That has raised fears that the world’s third-biggest economy may fall into recession.

During the period Japanese consumer spending fell 2.9% after the country’s sales tax was raised in October to 10% from 8%. In the same month Typhoon Hagibis hit large parts of the country.

Last quarter, capital spending dropped by 3.7% and exports slipped 0.1% amid the ongoing US-China trade war.

Investors are now watching to see whether the economy will rebound after the coronavirus forced China to shut down factories and led to a big drop in Chinese tourists visiting Japan.

In response to today’s data economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the Japanese government was ready to take all necessary steps to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy and tourism.

In December Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government approved $120bn (£90bn) in spending aimed at cushioning the impact of the sales tax rise.

The shrink in GDP was the first in more than a year and the largest since a 7.4% fall in 2014, the last time Japan raised its sales tax.

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Nintendo Is Likely to Suffer Global Switch Shortages From Virus – Bloomberg

February 16th, 2020

Ranking Every Dodge Viper Model From Best To Worst | TheThings – TheThings

February 16th, 2020