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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 ( 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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