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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

Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds aims for $2 bln valuation in U.S. IPO

Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds Inc said on Monday it aims to be valued at over $2 billion in its New York IPO, joining a growing number of firms tapping into surging consumer demand and investor interest for such products.

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A sign on the entrance to the Allbirds flagship store is seen in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 7, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Oct 25 (Reuters) – Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds Inc said on Monday it aims to be valued at over $2 billion in its New York IPO, joining a growing number of firms tapping into surging consumer demand and investor interest for such products.

The company, backed by asset manager Franklin Templeton, said it is offering 19.2 million shares priced between $12 and $14 each, along with the selling stockholders. At the top end of that range, the IPO would fetch about $269 million.

As global calls grow to limit global warming and switch to more environmentally friendly ways of living, several companies have come under investor and activist pressure to contribute to the change.

Among a handful of startups that recently tapped into investor interest in such sustainable offerings were Oprah Winfrey-backed vegan milk maker Oatly Group AB (OTLY.O) and Jessica Alba’s consumer goods company Honest Co (HNST.O). read more

Founded in 2015, Allbirds is also backed by Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and uses wool, fiber derived from eucalyptus and other plant-based alternatives in its products. It has partnered with Adidas to create a range of sustainable sneakers, some of which have become immensely popular across Silicon Valley where the company is headquartered.

Numerous celebrities, top business executives and high-profile personalities such as Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher and Google co-founder Larry Page have been spotted wearing Allbirds sneakers in recent years.

Allbirds, however, toned down some of its environmental references in an amended filing earlier this month. The company, which said in August it would pioneer a framework to conduct the first-ever “sustainable public equity offering”, later removed references to the claim.

In its latest filing, Allbirds said it expects net revenue to grow up to 32% to $62.5 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, due to higher sales at its physical stores.

However, higher expenses are expected to drive up net losses to about $15 million to $18 million in the quarter, from nearly $7 million a year earlier.

Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and BofA Securities are the lead underwriters for the offering.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Founded in 2015, Allbirds is also backed by Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and uses wool, fiber derived from eucalyptus and other plant-based alternatives in its products. It has partnered with Adidas to create a range of sustainable sneakers, some of which have become immensely popular across Silicon Valley where the company is headquartered.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/footwear-maker-allbirds-targets-over-2-bln-valuation-us-ipo-2021-10-25/

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Reuters

Facebook apologizes for second outage in a week, services back up

Facebook Inc apologized to users for a two hour disruption to its services on Friday and blamed another faulty configuration change for its second global outage this week.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Oct 8 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) apologized to users for a two hour disruption to its services on Friday and blamed another faulty configuration change for its second global outage this week.

The company confirmed its social media platform, Instagram, Messenger and Workplace were impacted by the latest outage.

“Sincere apologies to anyone who wasn’t able to access our products in the last couple of hours,” the company said. “We fixed the issue, and everything should be back to normal now.”

During the latest outage, some users were unable to load their Instagram feeds, while others were not able to send messages on Facebook Messenger.

People swiftly took to Twitter to share memes and jokes about the second service disruption this week. “Looks like Facebook went to a 3-day work week. Monday and Friday shutdowns?” a Twitter user said.

Instagram thanked users for their patience and “for all the memes this week”.

On Monday, the social media giant blamed a “faulty configuration change” for a nearly six-hour outage that prevented the company’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

The outage on Monday was the largest that web monitoring group Downdetector had ever seen and blocked access to the apps for billions of users, leading to a surge in usage of rival social media and messaging apps. read more

Moscow officials said Monday’s outage showed Russia was right to develop its own social media networks, while EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager highlighted the repercussions of relying on just a few big players, underscoring the need for more rivals. read more

Both the outages piled pressure on Facebook this week after a former employee turned whistleblower accused the company on Sunday of repeatedly prioritizing profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation. read more

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in Dallas; Additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

“Sincere apologies to anyone who wasn’t able to access our products in the last couple of hours,” the company said. “We fixed the issue, and everything should be back to normal now.”

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/instagram-feeds-not-loading-some-users-2021-10-08/

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Chinese social media platforms to “rectify” financial self-media accounts

China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

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WeChat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

SHANGHAI, Aug 28 (Reuters) – China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

This follows an announcement by China’s cyberspace regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), that it would look into accounts that have repeatedly released financial news illegally, distorted economic policy interpretation, badmouthed financial markets, spread rumours and disrupted network communications.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Wechat said in a statement on Saturday that from now until Oct. 26, it would investigate and shut down financial self-media accounts that “badmouth the financial market” and “blackmail and spread rumors.”

Sina Weibo, Douyin and Kuaishou also released similar statements on Saturday, reported the Global Times, with Sina Weibo and Kuaishou adding that they would severely crack down on accounts that violate the rules.

The announcements come amid a recent crackdown by Beijing on the tech sector, with the latest regulations targeting “chaotic” celebrity fan culture and algorithms that technology companies use to drive their business. read more

China is also framing rules to ban internet companies whose data poses potential security risks from listing outside the country, including in the United States. read more

Reporting by Emily Chow. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinese-social-media-platforms-rectify-financial-self-media-accounts-2021-08-28/

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