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‘One heck of a ride’: SpaceX launches astronauts into space

Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX launched four astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station on Sunday, NASA’s first full-fledged mission sending a crew into orbit aboard a privately owned spacecraft….

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX launched four astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station on Sunday, NASA’s first full-fledged mission sending a crew into orbit aboard a privately owned spacecraft.

SpaceX’s newly designed Crew Dragon capsule, which the crew has dubbed Resilience, lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 7:27 p.m. eastern time (0027 GMT on Monday) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“That was one heck of a ride,” astronaut Mike Hopkins said from Crew Dragon to SpaceX mission control about an hour after liftoff. “There was a lot of smiles.”

Crew Dragon will gradually raise its orbit for the next 27 hours through a series of onboard thruster firings, giving the astronauts time to eat pre-packaged dinners and roughly eight hours to rest before docking at the International Space Station at 11 p.m. eastern time on Monday.

An air leak caused an unexpected drop in capsule pressure less than two hours before launch, NASA officials said. But technicians said they conducted a successful leak check, and the scheduled launch was still on.

The Resilience crew includes Hopkins and two fellow NASA astronauts, mission pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker. They were joined by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to space after previously flying on the U.S. shuttle in 2005 and Soyuz in 2009.

The 27-hour ride to the space station, an orbiting laboratory some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, was originally scheduled to begin on Saturday. But the launch was postponed for a day due to forecasts of gusty winds – remnants of Tropical Storm Eta – that would have made a return landing for the Falcon 9’s reusable booster stage difficult, NASA officials said.

The astronauts donned their custom white flight suits and arrived at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad on schedule at 4:30 p.m. in three white Tesla SUVs, flanked by NASA and SpaceX personnel.

SpaceX mission operator Jay Aranha, speaking from the company’s Hawthorne, California headquarters, told the crew to “have an amazing trip, and know that we are all for one.”

Mission commander Mike Hopkins responded, saying “to all the people at NASA and SpaceX, by working together through these difficult times, you’ve inspired the nation the world.”

“And now it’s time for us to do our part, Crew 1 for all,” Hopkins said.

Vice-President Mike Pence attended the launch and said beforehand that under President Donald Trump, America had “renewed our commitment to lead in human space exploration.”

President-elect Joe Biden Tweeted his congratulations, saying the launch was “a testament to the power of science.”

FIRST PRIVATE MISSION

NASA is calling the flight its first “operational” mission for a rocket and crew-vehicle system that was 10 years in the making. It represents a new era of commercially developed spacecraft – owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA – for sending Americans into orbit.

A trial flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon in August, carrying just two astronauts to and from the space station, marked NASA’s first human space mission to be launched from U.S. soil in nine years, following the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. In the intervening years, U.S. astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

NASA contracted SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to develop competing space capsules aimed at replacing its shuttle program and weaning the United States from dependence on Russian rockets to send astronauts to space.

SpaceX’s launch on Sunday was the first of six operational missions for NASA. The company has also booked private astronaut missions, including one slated to carry actor Tom Cruise in the coming years.

Musk, the billionaire SpaceX chief executive who is also CEO of electric carmaker and battery manufacturer Tesla Inc TSLA.O, did not watch the liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center launch control room, NASA officials said. Musk said on Saturday he “most likely” has a moderate case of COVID-19.

SpaceX and NASA have conducted contact-tracing and determined Musk had not come into contact with anyone who interacted with the astronauts.

“Our astronauts have been in quarantine for weeks, and they should not have had contact with anybody,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Friday. “They should be in good shape.”

Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Cape Canaveral and Joey Roulette in Washington; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Leslie Adler, Chris Reese & Simon Cameron-Moore

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Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-exploration-spacex/spacex-nasa-begin-first-operational-astronaut-mission-to-space-idUSKBN27V0I3

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Reuters

Chipmaker TSMC says too early to say on Germany expansion

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

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The logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is pictured at its headquarters, in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Jan. 19, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang

TAIPEI, July 26 (Reuters) – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW) said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

The European Commission had held discussions with global chip giants, including Intel (INTC.O) and TSMC, as the EU seeks to boost semiconductor production and shield itself from shocks in the global supply chain. read more

Taiwan and TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, have become central in efforts to resolve the pandemic-induced chip shortage that has forced automakers to cut production and hurt manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and even appliances.

“We are currently doing reviews on Germany seriously, but it’s still in very early stages,” TSMC chairman Mark Liu told an annual shareholder meeting when asked about building chip fabrication plants in the EU country.

“We continue to communicate with our major clients in Germany to see whether this is most important and effective for our clients,” he said. “It’s too early to say.”

TSMC signalled in July plans to build new factories in the United States and Japan amid concern over the concentration of chipmaking capability in Taiwan, which produces most of the world’s most advanced chips and is geographically close to political rival China. read more

On TSMC’s $12 billion factory in the U.S. state of Arizona, Liu said the expansion would support client demand, especially in infrastructure and national security.

“Clients are the backing of our global expansion. We will move very cautiously,” Liu said, adding that the company’s customers would help share costs of overseas operations.

TSMC announced this year plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity, riding on what it called a “multiple years of growth opportunities”, as the COVID-19 pandemic and new technologies drove global demand for advanced chips.

Reporting By Yimou Lee. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Taiwan and TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, have become central in efforts to resolve the pandemic-induced chip shortage that has forced automakers to cut production and hurt manufacturers of smartphones, laptops and even appliances.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/chipmaker-tsmc-says-too-early-say-germany-expansion-2021-07-26/

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EXCLUSIVE India watchdog accuses Amazon of concealing facts in deal for Future Group unit

India’s antitrust regulator has accused Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) of concealing facts and making false submissions when it sought approval for a 2019 investment in a Future Group unit, a letter to the U.S. e-commerce giant seen by Reuters showed.

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A man walks past an Amazon logo outside the company’s collection point in Mumbai, India, March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

  • India antitrust watchdog threatens Amazon with fine, action
  • Amazon has yet to respond to antitrust body’s notice -source
  • CCI says Amazon made different statements at other legal forums

NEW DELHI, July 22 (Reuters) – India’s antitrust regulator has accused Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) of concealing facts and making false submissions when it sought approval for a 2019 investment in a Future Group unit, a letter to the U.S. e-commerce giant seen by Reuters showed.

The letter complicates Amazon’s bitter legal battle with Future Group over the Indian’s firm’s decision to sell its retail assets to Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) – a matter that is now before India’s Supreme Court.

Amazon has argued that terms agreed upon in its 2019 deal to pay $192 million for a 49% stake in Future’s gift voucher unit prevent its parent, Future Group, from selling its Future Retail Ltd (FRTL.NS) business to Reliance.

In the letter dated June 4, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Amazon hid factual aspects of the transaction by not revealing its strategic interest in Future Retail when it sought approval for the 2019 deal.

“The representations and conduct of Amazon before the Commission amounts to misrepresentation, making false statement and suppression or/and concealment of material facts,” the letter said. It also noted that its review of the submissions made had been prompted by a complaint from Future Group.

In the four-page letter, a so-called ‘show cause notice’, the CCI asked Amazon why it should not take action and penalise the company for providing false information.

Amazon has yet to respond, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be identified as the letter has not been made public.

Amazon said in a statement to Reuters it had received a letter, was committed to complying with India’s laws and would extend its full cooperation to the CCI.

“We are confident that we will be able to address the CCI’s concerns,” it said.

Representatives for Future and the CCI did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Vaibhav Choukse, a competition law specialist and partner at J. Sagar Associates, said it was rare for the CCI to issue such a notice and that if the CCI was not satisfied by Amazon’s response, it could lead to a fine and even a review of the deal.

“The CCI has wide powers which includes directions to re-file the approval application and even revoke the approval under exceptional circumstances,” Choukse said.

The CCI’s 2019 approval order states its decision “shall stand revoked if, at any time, the information provided” is found to be incorrect.

Shares in Future Retail jumped after Reuters published details of the letter, extending gains to be up nearly 5% in Thursday afternoon trade.

SUBMISSIONS COMPARED

The dispute over Future Retail, which has more than 1,500 supermarket and other outlets, is the most hostile flashpoint between Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and Reliance, run by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, as they try to gain the upper hand in winning over the country’s consumers.

Amazon also has a host of other challenges in India, a key growth market where it has committed $6.5 billion in investments, including a separate CCI probe into alleged practices that small businesses say have hurt them. read more

In addition, it faces the prospect of more regulations that would restrict the sale of private labels and would prohibit the U.S. firm from allowing its affiliates to list products on its website. read more

The CCI letter compared three sets of submissions Amazon made to it in 2019 with submissions made later to other legal forums, saying they were “contradictory.”

In particular, it said Amazon had explained its interest in investing in Future’s coupon unit as one that would address gaps in India’s payments industry. But the letter stated Amazon had disclosed in other legal forums that the foundation of its relationship with Future Coupon was certain special rights it obtained over Future Retail.

“Amazon has concealed its strategic interest” in Future Retail, the letter said, adding: “Such interest and the purpose of the combination … was not disclosed to the Commission despite specific requirements.”

The CCI also objected to one section of a submission where Amazon had told the regulator it had nothing to do with one particular legal agreement that two Future entities had signed between themselves days ahead of its 2019 deal. But Amazon later claimed before an arbitrator that the agreement was an “integrated part” of the transaction, the letter said.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Abhirup Roy; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Amazon has argued that terms agreed upon in its 2019 deal to pay $192 million for a 49% stake in Future’s gift voucher unit prevent its parent, Future Group, from selling its Future Retail Ltd (FRTL.NS) business to Reliance.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/exclusive-india-watchdog-accuses-amazon-concealing-facts-deal-future-group-unit-2021-07-22/

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EXCLUSIVE HK’s Apple Daily to shut within days, says Jimmy Lai adviser

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities froze the company’s assets under a national security law, an adviser to jailed owner Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

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  • Adviser says impossible to conduct banking in financial hub
  • Two executives charged under security law denied bail
  • Newspaper could cease publication on Saturday – memo

HONG KONG, June 21 (Reuters) – Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities froze the company’s assets under a national security law, an adviser to jailed owner Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

The closure of Apple Daily would undermine the former British colony’s reputation as an open and free society and send a warning to other companies that could be accused of colluding with a foreign country, media advocacy groups said.

Next Digital (0282.HK), publisher of the top-selling 26-year-old newspaper, would stop publication on June 26 if a board meeting on Friday decided to halt operations, an internal memo seen by Reuters showed.

“We thought we’d be able to make it to the end of the month. It’s just getting harder and harder. It’s essentially a matter of days,” the adviser, Mark Simon, said by telephone from the United States.

Vendors had tried to put money into the company’s bank accounts but have been rejected, he said.

Another senior company source with direct knowledge of the matter said the freezing of the firm’s core assets – before any trial or due legal process proved any criminality – had made it impossible to pay wages or even electricity bills.

CHOKED ‘TO DEATH’

“This is an extraordinary thing for a place that prides itself on (being) a global financial center, that you haven’t even filed charges against people and yet you’ve decided you’re going to try to … choke this company to death.”

Hong Kong officials have repeatedly said that media freedoms are respected but are not absolute.

Apple Daily management could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The newspaper said on Sunday the freezing of its assets had left it with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations. read more

Chief Editor Ryan Law, 47, and Chief Executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail on Saturday after being charged with conspiracy to commit collusion with a foreign country.

Three other executives were arrested on Thursday when 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices, drawing condemnation from Western countries, global rights groups and the U.N. spokesperson for human rights.

Those three are still under investigation but were released with bail.

Security Secretary John Lee told a news conference on Thursday the police operation against the Apple Daily was aimed at those who use reporting as a “tool” to endanger national security and did not target the media industry as a whole.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said it would not comment given ongoing legal proceedings and any application related to the frozen property would be handled according to the law.

China’s Liaison Office in the city did not respond to requests for comment.

A supporter holds a copy of Apple Daily newspaper during a court hearing outside West Magistrates’ Courts, after police charge two executives of the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper over the national security law, in Hong Kong, China, June 19, 2021. REUTERS/Lam Yik

‘WE CAN’T BANK’

In May, Reuters reported exclusively that Hong Kong’s security chief had sent letters to tycoon Lai and branches of HSBC (HSBA.L) and Citibank (C.N) threatening up to seven years’ jail for any dealings with the billionaire’s accounts in the city. read more

A Hong Kong-based spokesperson for Citibank said at the time the bank did not comment on individual client accounts. HSBC declined to comment.Authorities are also prosecuting three companies related to Apple Daily for alleged collusion with a foreign country and have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their assets.

Simon told Reuters it had now become impossible to conduct banking operations in the global financial hub as authorities had “criminalised” any activities with the company’s accounts.

“We can’t bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favour … and it was rejected.”

Reuters could not determine the banks where Apple Daily vendors had tried to deposit funds only to have their transactions rejected.

Rights group Amnesty International said on Twitter that this is “effectively a HK government ban of a newspaper.”

The paper has come under increasing pressure since owner and Beijing critic Lai, who is now in jail, was arrested under the national security law last August and has since had some of his assets frozen.

The senior company source with direct knowledge of the board’s discussions said an application had been made to the Security Bureau to ask Hong Kong security chief John Lee to unfreeze the assets to allow essential payments to staff and suppliers, setting a Friday deadline to respond.

Apple Daily said in an article on Sunday it might challenge the government in court if it refused. read more

The company has about 600 journalists, according to Simon.

The U.S.-based adviser said some reporters had received threatening phone calls from unknown sources.

“Our staff are now just worried about personal safety,” he said.

Police have said dozens of Apple Daily articles were suspected of violating the national security law, the first case in which authorities have cited media articles as potentially violating the legislation.

Simon and the source said their understanding was that about 100 articles were under scrutiny.

“After all this is said and done, the business community is going to look up and recognise that a man’s company was gutted and stolen by a communist regime in Hong Kong,” he said.

“That’s a big deal.”

Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Next Digital (0282.HK), publisher of the top-selling 26-year-old newspaper, would stop publication on June 26 if a board meeting on Friday decided to halt operations, an internal memo seen by Reuters showed.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/exclusive-adviser-jailed-hk-tycoon-jimmy-lai-says-apple-daily-shut-within-days-2021-06-21/

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