Elon Musk’s SpaceX bags $1.5 billion contract for Starship to take humans to Moon

Artist’s rendering of SpaceX Starship human lander design. (Photo: Nasa)

  • SpaceX is developing the Starship and has recently conducted an engine test
  • Nasa had in July 2021 given the first contract to SpaceX
  • The objective of the contract is to develop and demonstrate a Starship lunar lander

By India Today Web Desk: Amid his chaotic management at Twitter, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has bagged another contract valued at $1.5 billion to develop its Starship human landing system to transport humans to the Moon. With Nasa launching the Artemis-1 mission that will return humans to the lunar world, Starship will be part of long-term lunar exploration plans.

SpaceX is developing the Starship and has recently conducted an engine test where it fired all 14 engines. The company is working to conduct the first orbital flight of Starship by either end of this year or the beginning of 2023. As part of the new contract, SpaceX will provide a second crewed landing demonstration mission in 2027 for the Artemis IV mission.

“Returning astronauts to the Moon to learn, live, and work is a bold endeavour. With multiple planned landers, from SpaceX and future partners, we will be better positioned to accomplish the missions of tomorrow: conducting more science on the surface of the Moon than ever before and preparing for crewed missions to Mars,” Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson, said in a statement.

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Surgeons Grow 3D-Printed Nose on Patient’s Arm

And then grafted it onto the patient’s face.

The ENT and Cervico-Facial surgery teams of the Toulouse University Hospital and the Claudius Regaud Institute carried out a surgical intervention at the Toulouse-Oncopole University Cancer Institute consisting in completely reconstructing a patient’s nose from a synthetic graft previously implanted in the patient’s forearm to pre-vascularize it.

The patient had been treated in 2013 for nasal cavity cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. As a result of this treatment, the patient lost a large part of their nose as well as the front part of their palate.

For more than four years, the patient lived without a nose, facing failures in nasal reconstruction by skin flap grafting and difficulty coping with wearing a facial prosthesis.

The patient was thus offered a nasal reconstruction using custom-made biomaterial, based on a surgical procedure carried out in two stages by Prof. Agnès Dupret-Bories and Dr. Benjamin Vairel.

This type of reconstruction had never before been performed on such a fragile and poorly vascularized area and was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the medical teams with the company Cerhum, a Belgian manufacturer of medical devices specializing in bone reconstruction . This new technique also makes it possible to overcome certain limitations presented by other techniques.

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Flexible AI computer chips promise wearable health monitors that protect privacy

A device like this could one day monitor and assess your health.

By Sihong Wang

My colleagues and I have developed a flexible, stretchable electronic device that runs machine-learning algorithms to continuously collect and analyze health data directly on the body. The skinlike sticker, developed in my lab at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, includes a soft, stretchable computing chip that mimics the human brain.

To create this type of device, we turned to electrically conductive polymers that have been used to build semiconductors and transistors. These polymers are made to be stretchable, like a rubber band. Rather than working like a typical computer chip, though, the chip we’re working with, called a neuromorphic computing chip, functions more like a human brain. It’s able to both store and analyze data.

To test the usefulness of the new device, my colleagues and I used it to analyze electrocardiogram data representing the electrical activity of the human heart. We trained the device to classify ECGs into five categories: healthy and four types of abnormal signals. Even in conditions where the device is repeatedly stretched by movements of the wearer’s body, the device could still accurately classify the heartbeats. 

Most of the signals from the human body, such as the electrical activity in the heart recorded by ECG, are typically weak and subtle. Accurately recording these small signals requires direct contact between electronic devices and the human body. This can only be achieved by fabricating electronic devices to be as soft and stretchy as skin. We envision that wearable electronics will play a key role in tracking complex indicators of human health, including body temperature, cardiac activity, levels of oxygen, sugar, metabolites and immune molecules in the blood. 

Analyzing large amounts of continuously acquired health data is challenging, however. A single piece of data must be put into the broader perspective of a patient’s full health history, and that is a big task. Cutting-edge machine-learning algorithms that identify patterns in extremely complex data sets are the most promising route to being able to pick out the most important signals of disease. 

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Techman Robot launches ‘all-in-one’ AI collaborative robot series

Techman Robot has launched its “TM AI Cobot” series, describing it as a “collaborative robot which combines a powerful and precise robot arm with native AI inferencing engine and smart vision system in a complete package”.

BY MAI TAO

The company says the new machine is ready for deployment in factories and can accelerate the transition to Industry 4.0.

Techman says the TM AI Cobot works on the principle of being smart, simple and safe. By combining visual processing in the robot arm, the AI Cobot can perform fast and precise pick and place, AMR, palletizing, welding, semi-conductor and product manufacturing, automated optical inspections (AOI) and food service preparation, among many other applications that can be accelerated by AI-Vision. 

The company claims it is the only intelligent robotic arm series on the market provided with a comprehensive AI software suite. It includes TM AI+ Training Server, TM AI+ AOI Edge, TM Image Manager, and TM 3DVision, allowing companies to train and tailor their system to precisely meet their application.

Shi-chi Ho, Techman Robot president, says: “Techman Robot has redefined the future of industry robotics with the introduction of its AI Cobot series that are equipped with a native AI engine, powerful and precise robotic arm and vision system that represents a perfect combination of ‘brain, hands and eyes’.

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Embark launches coast-to-coast autonomous trucking network

Embark Trucks, a developer of autonomous technology for the trucking industry, has launched its “coast-to-coast backbone of the Embark Coverage Map”, preparing key Sunbelt markets to be served by Embark fleet partners.

BY MARK ALLINSON 

The Coverage Map includes nine transfer point sites in cities across the Sunbelt, including new locations in Dallas, El Paso, Atlanta, and Jacksonville, to accommodate planned autonomous freight volume in key markets and provide anticipated operational support for carriers and shippers using Embark-powered trucks.

Embark secured optimized real estate sites and support services through its partnerships with Alterra Property Group and Ryder. The Coverage Map expansion represents the next step in a journey to deliver coast-to-coast operational availability that began with Embark’s first Los Angeles to Jacksonville run in 2018. 

Embark strategically selected these nine sites to eventually automate crucial shipping lanes for its carrier partners.

The expanded network that Embark is positioned to serve through these nine sites covered 9.5 billion miles of annual freight in 2020, including Dallas to Houston, San Antonio to Houston, and Dallas to Atlanta – some of the highest-volume inter-city lanes in the US.

As a result, by opening these nine sites, 28 percent of US shipping volume in the Sunbelt is available for autonomous transport by Embark’s fleet partners, who will be able to own and operate the trucks and to begin hauling goods autonomously once Embark’s technology is commercialized.

By operating autonomously across the network, Embark’s carrier partners should be able to deliver faster than is currently possible, due to 24/7 operations. 41 percent of US shipment miles in the expanded Coverage Map are on lanes that are longer than drivers can complete in a single shift due to Hours of Service regulations.

Embark anticipates that the 3.3 million loads on these lanes should become eligible for earlier delivery once automated.

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Unmanned, solar-powered US military space plane returns from record 908-day flight

The robot craft – which has now clocked up over 1.3 billion miles in orbit across its six missions – was carrying experiments for the US Air Force, Navy and also NASA.

By IAN RANDALL

United States Space Force: ULA launch X-37B spaceplane.

An unmanned, solar-powered US military space plane returned from its sixth mission on Saturday, having spent a record-breaking 908 days in orbit. Built by Boeing, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle — which resembles a miniature space shuttle — was developed to test space technologies. It was launched on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida back in May 2020. The craft landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the same complex from which the Artemis I Moon rocket will hopefully be blasting off early tomorrow morning.

For the first time, the space plane carried a so-called service module designed to increase the total number of payloads it could carry. This carried scientific experiments for partners including the Naval Research Laboratory and the US Air Force Academy.

To ensure a safe landing, the module was jettisoned from the vehicle before it left orbit. The space plane and the module then returned to Earth separately.

Boeing Space and Launch senior vice president Jim Chilton said: “Since the X-37B’s first launch in 2010, it has shattered records and provided our nation with an unrivalled capability to rapidly test and integrate new space technologies.

“With the service module added, this was the most we’ve ever carried to orbit on the X-37B and we’re proud to have been able to prove out this new and flexible capability for the government and its industry partners.”

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NASA’s quiet supersonic X-59 now has a jet engine

Lockheed Martin’s X-59 aircraft

By Ameya Paleja

The first flight is likely in 2023.

The jet engine for NASA’s ambitious X-59 aircraft that will demonstrate the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) has now been installed, the space agency said in a press release. 

NASA has teamed up with Lockheed Martin and General Electric Aviation to bring this ambitious plan to reality that could one day revive supersonic travel for the general public. While fighter aircraft can routinely fly at speeds much higher than sound speed, commercial airliners flying over populated areas cannot do the same. 
The reason is the sonic boom, the shockwaves created by an object traveling faster than the sound, which has enough energy to shatter windows and sound like thunderclaps to the human ear. The now-defunct Concorde flights faced the same problem two decades ago and could never truly unlock the full potential of supersonic flight. 

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Flywheel energy will help charge rental EVs in New York

Chakratec flywheel-based Kinetic Energy Storage systems for EV charging, grid-balancing

By STEPHEN EDELSTEIN

Zooz Power will use its flywheel technology to charge electric rental cars at New York City’s LaGuardia airport, the Israel-based company formerly known as Chakratec announced earlier this month.

Zooz recently announced a memorandum of understanding with an unnamed car rental company to pilot flywheel energy charging at LaGuardia beginning in the second quarter of 2023.

The partner rental company “is operating thousands of car rental sites in over 100 countries,” Zooz said in a press release, adding that more sites will be considered if the 12-month New York pilot program is successful.

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Flywheel energy will help charge rental EVs in New York”
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Electrical zaps can ‘reawaken’ lost neural connections, helping paralyzed people walk again

Scientists identified the specific neurons needed for people to recover the ability to walk after spinal cord injuries. 

By Nicoletta Lanese

Scientists identified specific spinal nerve cells that people likely need to regain the ability to walk after paralyzing injuries.

People with paralyzing spinal cord injuries can walk again with the help of medical devices that zap their nerves with electricity. But the designers of these new implants weren’t completely sure of how they restored motor function over time — now, a new study provides clues. 

The new study of humans and lab mice, published Nov. 9 in the journal Nature, pinpoints a specific population of nerve cells that seems key to recovering the ability to walk after a paralyzing spinal cord injury. With a jolt of electricity, an implant can switch these neurons on and thus jumpstart a cascade of events in which the very architecture of the nervous system changes. This cellular remodel restores the lost lines of communication between the brain and the muscles needed for walking, allowing once-paralyzed people to walk again, the researchers concluded.

Understanding how the nerve-zapping system, called epidural electrical stimulation (EES), “reshapes spinal circuits could help researchers to develop targeted techniques to restore walking, and potentially enable the recovery of more-complex movements,” Eiman Azim, a principal investigator at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, and Kee Wui Huang, a postdoctoral fellow in Azim’s lab, wrote in a commentary.

Nine people with paralyzing spinal cord injuries participated in the new study. Six were mostly or completely unable to move their legs but retained some feeling in the limbs; the other three participants had no motor control or sensation from the waist down. 

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Is Space-Based Solar Power Ready for Its Moment in the Sun?

An artistic depiction of sunlight-harvesting satellites supplying electricity from Earth orbit by beaming power to ground-based receiving stations.

By Leonard David

When inventor Charles Fritts created the first crude solar photovoltaic cells in the 1880s, one might have thought the achievement would rapidly revolutionize global electricity production. There is, after all, no power source cheaper, cleaner and more ubiquitous than sunlight. Yet despite enormous (and ongoing) technical advances making solar power ever more capable and affordable, some 140 years on it still supplies less than 5 percent of the world’s electricity. For all its benefits, solar power does have drawbacks that can limit its use—chief among them the fact that half the planet’s surface is in darkness at any given time.

In 1968 U.S. aerospace engineer Peter Glaser detailed a potential solution to these problems that was not only “outside the box” but entirely outside Earth’s atmosphere. Instead of building gigantic solar farms across vast, ecologically vulnerable tracts of land, Glaser proposed to loft the photovoltaics into orbit on fleets of solar power satellites. In orbit—unattenuated by clouds and freed from planetary cycles of day and night—sunlight could be harvested with optimum efficiency, then beamed as microwaves to ground-based “rectifying antennas” (rectennas). Back on Earth, the microwaves would be converted to electricity and channeled into power grids across the globe.

At the time and for decades afterward, however, the cost of space launches was too high and the performance of photovoltaics was too low to make Glaser’s bright idea a reality. But now technological advances, paired with the growing need for clean energy, are reinvigorating the concept of space-based solar power (SBSP), with pilot projects emerging in the U.S., China, Europe and Japan. As a new wave of research begins, the question lingers: Will SBSP ever be ready for its moment in the sun?

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The unimon, a new qubit to boost quantum computers for useful applications

Artistic impression of a unimon qubit in a quantum processor.

A group of scientists from Aalto University, IQM Quantum Computers, and VTT Technical Research Center have discovered a new superconducting qubit, the unimon, to increase the accuracy of quantum computations. The team has achieved the first quantum logic gates with unimons at 99.9% fidelity—a major milestone on the quest to build commercially useful quantum computers. This research was just published in the journal Nature Communications.

Of all the different approaches to build useful quantum computers, superconducting qubits are in the lead. However, the qubit designs and techniques currently used do not yet provide high enough performance for practical applications. In this noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) era, the complexity of the implementable quantum computations is mostly limited by errors in single- and two-qubit quantum gates. The quantum computations need to become more accurate to be useful. 

“Our aim is to build quantum computers which deliver an advantage in solving real-world problems. Our announcement today is an important milestone for IQM, and a significant achievement to build better superconducting quantum computers,” said Professor Mikko Möttönen, joint Professor of Quantum Technology at Aalto University and VTT, and also a Co-Founder and Chief Scientist at IQM Quantum Computers, who was leading the research.

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Red Wing Shoes wants virtual homes designed in Roblox to become real homes


This is a tiny home designed in Roblox.

Talk about moving from the metaverse to real life. 

Red Wing Shoes is launching the Builders Exchange Program so that people can design “tiny houses” in the virtual world of Roblox that could become actual homes in the real world.

For every five skilled trades workers leaving the industry, only one is joining. But Red Wing Shoes figured out people are building but not in the traditional way we all think about; millions of young people are building in the virtual world in places like Roblox.

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