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1. The next space race: SpaceX internet satellites go this week

SpaceX is set to launch its Falcon 9 on Wednesday, May 15th, from Cape Canaveral in Florida. But this one isn’t for a customer like NASA.

Musk revealed the launch date and payload over the weekend: 60 Starlink satellites, weighing around 13,000 kg (28,700 lb) ingeniously flat-packed away like an IKEA warehouse:

SpaceX Falcon fairing chock a block with Starlink satellites

What we see here is completely unprecedented – no satellite-dispenser system, an incredible density of satellites, and all done privately.

What we know:

  • This is SpaceX’s Starlink “v0.9” launch, an initial mid to large-scale test of its satellite system aiming to deliver broadband internet from orbit in space.
  • The above image shows the Falcon fairing – thought to be the Falcon 9 – which is 13 meters or 42.6 ft high. (Or, about six Shaq’s standing on top of each other)
  • 60 satellites sounds like a lot, but SpaceX is aiming for nearly 12,000 spacecrafts that will sit in a low Earth orbit.
  • The FCC approved one “constellation” of 4,409 satellites, followed by a second constellation of 7,518.
  • (As of March 31, the total number of operating satellites in low Earth orbit was 1,338.)
  • These 60 satellites won’t be offering any commercial internet just yet – lacking a critical laser optical interlink that will transmit data between orbiting satellites in each Starlink constellation.
  • So far, SpaceX has only launched two Starlink satellites for testing, called TinTin A and TinTin B, which have been in space since February 2018.
  • SpaceX isn’t the only player in this game. OneWeb launched six test satellites in February of this year for its own constellation, which is set at 650-satellites.
  • Telesat, LeoSat, Facebook, and Amazon most recently announced their own plans – Amazon wants to launch 3,236 sats as part of Project Kuiper.
  • Here’s a helpful video explainer for Starlink after a round of changes made to initial plans in November (YouTube).

What Musk is tweeting:


2. Google testing a limited automatic car crash detection in Android (Android Authority).


3. Galaxy S10 series turning the tide for Samsung, but industry overall struggles (AA).


4. ZTE Axon 10 Pro hands-on: Serious value (AA).


5. How to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers on your phone (AA)


6. Apple Beats Powerbeats Pro review: throw away your AirPods (SoundGuys).


7. At I/O, Google killed Nest: “The Nest platform is dead, Nest accounts are dead. Nest’s privacy firewall is dead.” (Ars Technica). From the comments comes this old joke: “Q: What do you get when you combine IBM and insert company here? A: IBM.” (But, now it’s Google.)


8. “This is one of the most important pieces I’ve ever written,” writes TechCrunch’s Josh Costine: “Friend portability is the must-have Facebook regulation” (TechCrunch).


9. Japanese railway company starts testing 249mph (400km/h) bullet train speeds (Ars Technica).


10. See if a book you want is available at your local library using the Library Extension – supports 4,000 libraries across the world (Chrome webstore).


11. May 11, 2019 was humanity’s first ever day with CO2 breaching 415 ppm in the air via the Mauna Loa Observatory (ucsd.edu). Oh no.


12. Today’s Google Doodle honors Pap smear inventor Georgios Papanikolaou (CNET).


13. If fevers are the immune system’s response to viral/bacterial infection, why try to reduce them? Is there a benefit to letting a fever run its course vs medicinal treatment? (r/askscience).


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