With the Most Reused Parts Ever, SpaceX’s Mission Successfully Sent Its Cargo to the ISS

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Unlike the hit song played nonstop on the radio or your mother questioning you about when you’re going to give her grandchildren, rocket launches are one thing that never gets old. That’s lucky, because SpaceX has done two in the span of just four days. Today, the company again launched its Falcon 9 rocket, this time with 2,630 kilograms (5800 pounds) of deliveries to the International Space Station, from the base in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The theme for this launch: reusable. One of the Falcon boosters first flew on the CRS-12 mission in August 2017. And this particular Dragon module flew in April 2016, on the CRS-8 mission. It’s the first time two reused (or, as SpaceX calls it, “flight-proven”) components have been combined in a single mission.

This marks SpaceX’s 14th successful flight for Dragon, and 15th flight overall (CRS-7, in 2015, failed before reaching orbit). It’s the end of the line for this particular first stage — SpaceX did not attempt to recover it, though the engineers did gather information about it to improve future missions.

Today’s launch was perfectly choreographed, no surprises. It’s a testament to how efficiently SpaceX now operates with missions like these. They’ve really got it down to a science. Things can still happen, of course, but nothing abnormal did today.

Screencap of the livestream of April 2, 2018 SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. Image Credit: Alexandra Ossola

The Dragon is en route to deliver food, gear, and other supplies to the ISS, according to Space.com. It also contains materials for 50 science experiments conducted there, one fifth of the total experiments on board (more info about research on board the ISS can be found here). According to the Kennedy Space Center website and Space.com, those include:

  • An Earth observatory that will study thunderstorms and how they affect Earth’s atmosphere and climate. 
  • An investigation about how to best make products from metal powders in low gravity in order to improve manufacturing techniques. 
  • Experiments on how to best give plants the proper nutrients as part of continued studies to grow food in space.
  • Studies that analyze how fruit flies and wasps interact in microgravity
  • A study that assesses how space affects bone marrow, blood production, and wound healing

It’s not necessarily as exciting as, say, launching a cherry red sports car into the ether. But it’s still pretty dope.

If everything continues to go according to plan, the Dragon will get within docking range of the ISS around 7 AM ET on Wednesday, April 4, at which point “ISS crew members will use the station’s 57.7-foot (17.6- meter) robotic arm to reach out and capture the Dragon spacecraft and attach it to the orbiting laboratory,” notes a SpaceX press release. And you thought those claw machine games were stressful.

Dragon will be back again. After a month-long stint at the ISS, it’s slated to return to Earth, where, if its descent goes well, it will plop right into the Pacific near Baja California.

The post With the Most Reused Parts Ever, SpaceX’s Mission Successfully Sent Its Cargo to the ISS appeared first on Futurism.


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Safari exploit successfully demonstrated at Pwn2Own 2018

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Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative kicked off its annual Pwn2Own hacking competition on Wednesday with two attempts to exploit Apple’s Safari web browser, one of which was successful.
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SpaceX successfully launches Falcon 9 carrying internet satellites

SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon 9 rocket today carrying Spain's radar imaging Paz satellite as well as two of its own satellites, Microsat-2a and -2b. The two experimental satellites will be used to test SpaceX's plan to deliver internet…
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The Falcon Heavy Just Launched Successfully. Next Stop, Mars.

A New Era

Today, February 6, SpaceX successfully launched Falcon Heavy.

At 3:45 p.m. ET, Falcon Heavy took off from Launch Complex 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. It had successful stage and booster separation, and the two side cores executed a beautifully in sync landing at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2.

Unfortunately, it seems the center core did not settle on the company’s “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean as planned. While SpaceX has yet to confirm the loss of the core, in the audio of a SpaceX clip from the launch, a voice can be heard saying, “We lost the center core.”

Falcon Heavy, which is now the world’s most powerful rocket, carried a limited-edition Tesla Roadster as its payload, which will travel in an elliptical orbit around the Sun on its way toward Mars. Yes, seriously.

Don’t let the sports car (complete with spacesuit-clad dummy) playing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” distract you from the real, concrete achievement here, though. In addition to adding to the issue of space junk in a unique way, the car’s trip toward Mars proves that Falcon Heavy is able to carry impressive payloads far beyond Earth.

Humanity’s Next Stop

Though originally designed to carry people, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told reporters during a teleconference on February 5 that Falcon Heavy will likely not be used for crewed missions. “It looks like BFR development is moving quickly, and it will not be necessary to qualify Falcon Heavy for crewed spaceflight,” said Musk, according to SpaceNews. “We kind of tabled the Crew Dragon on Falcon Heavy in favor of focusing our energy on BFR.”

However, Musk did note that unexpected delays in BFR development could change that. “We’ll see how the BFR development goes,” he said. “If that ends up taking longer than expected, then we will return to the idea of sending a Crew Dragon on a Falcon Heavy around the Moon and potentially do other things with crew on Falcon Heavy.”

It may or may not be Falcon Heavy, but someday, you or I could travel to Mars aboard a SpaceX craft. Seem like sci-fi? So does the idea of a billionaire entrepreneur sending his personal car into space to test a massive rocket.

Falcon Heavy
Image Credit: SpaceX

Beyond SpaceX, humanity’s options for vehicles to the Moon or Mars are limited. NASA is currently developing the Space Launch System (SLS), which is set to be more powerful than Falcon Heavy and just as capable of ferrying passengers. Current estimates suggest that it will be ready in 2022, but delays are common where massive rockets are concerned.

Overall, Falcon Heavy seems like the clear winner between the two vehicles because it’s less expensive. Heavy launches will only cost $ 90 million as opposed to the $ 500 million to $ 1 billion a SLS launch would run. Given the limitations of NASA’s budget and the current administration’s urgent desire to return to the Moon, SpaceX’s rocket seems to be a compelling alternative for a Mars mission.

Today’s successful Falcon Heavy launch will help SpaceX generate interest in space exploration. That interest could translate to new partnerships and increased funding, which the company will need to support their ambitious work to get humanity to our next stop: Mars.

The post The Falcon Heavy Just Launched Successfully. Next Stop, Mars. appeared first on Futurism.


SpaceX successfully launches its Falcon Heavy rocket

Today, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket successfully lifted off from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the first flight of the 27-engine rocket; so far, the mission appears to be going well. The rocket made it through the the moment of…
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Chinese Scientists Successfully Cloned a Monkey –– Are We Next?

Researchers with the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience have officially cloned a [really cute] pair of long-tailed macaque monkeys, Reuters news reported on Wednesday.

The scientific milestone was achieved, interestingly enough, using a decades-old technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) — a process by which the nucleus of a cell is strategically transferred to an egg from which the nucleus has previously been removed.

The result? A beautiful pair of identical twin macaque monkeys — named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong — who were born six and eight weeks ago, respectively.

They’re not only the first primates in history to have been cloned from a non-embryonic cell, but the achievement itself represents a much more significant, scientific breakthrough, which could (but probably won’t) lead to humans being cloned in the future.

Back in 1996, University of Edinburgh researchers working with biotechnology company, PPL Therapeutics, utilized a variant of the same SCNT process to procure Dolly — the world’s first domestic sheep cloned from an embryo. And while a number of additional mammals including horses, rabbits and dogs have been cloned since Dolly’s days, what makes the inherent findings so significant is that up until this point, monkeys on the cloning block have exhibited resistance to the SCNT technique, researchers noted.

They appear to have succeeded, however, where other researchers in the past have failed, by “switching on and off genes” previously determined to be interfering with the cloned embryo’s successful development. And although the team was ultimately successful, Gizmodo was quick to note the accomplishment didn’t come without great difficulty.

For starters, it took the researchers a total of 127 eggs to produce just two baby monkeys. On top of that, they were only successful transferring nuclei from fetal cells — not from adult cells, such as the kind used to clone Dolly.

Regardless, Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong are scientific miracles in the flesh. And researchers hope their findings, published Wednesday in the journal Cell, will make it possible to study things like disease among populations of genetically uniform monkeys, for example.

Since monkeys and humans are both primates, today’s findings may also raise questions about the feasibility of cloning humans.

“Humans are primates. So (for) the cloning of primate species, including humans, the technical barrier is now broken,” Muming Poo, a leading supervisor of the inherent study, said. “The reason … we broke this barrier is to produce animal models that are useful for medicine, for human health. There is no intention to apply this method to humans.”

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Rocket Lab Has Successfully Launched Its Electron Rocket Into Orbit

Rocket Race

The United States-based space flight startup, Rocket Lab, launched its Electron rocket for a second time on January 21, 2018. The launch successfully deployed three small commercial satellites — each the size of a loaf of bread — into orbit in just eight and a half minutes after liftoff.

Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s CEO, said in a statement: “Rocket Lab was founded on the principle of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step towards that.”

Rocket Lab is hoping to carve out a niche in a satellite launch market dominated by companies like SpaceX. But SpaceX launches that use a Falcon 9 rocket — which tends to have a larger payload — can cost up to $ 60 million. The Electron rocket, which carries smaller payloads into orbit, can launch for a cool $ 4.9 million. This cheaper means of getting into orbit could alleviate the daunting financial burden smaller satellite companies face when trying to get their hardware off the ground.

Image Credit: Rocket Lab
Image Credit: Rocket Lab

SpaceX has is seen as the gold standard in spaceflight, and continues to play a major role in shaping what the industry will look like in the coming years. But the advent of Rocket Lab and similar micro-satellite launch companies like Vector Space Systems are a response to SpaceX’s limitations. Smaller companies can offer competition in the industry, and make spaceflight more accessible for companies unable to afford costly SpaceX launches.

To the Moon

While this was the Electron rocket’s first successful mission, it wasn’t its first flight. The company’s first test  — aptly named “It’s a Test” — was unable to make it into orbit because it lost contact with communications equipment on the ground, causing the rocket to abort the mission. This second test flight, aka “Still Testing,” was so successful that Rocket Labs is considering forgoing its planned third test to begin flying commercial missions for its long backlog of interested customers.

Once company on Rocket Lab’s roster is Moon Express, which is hiring the launch company to deliver a lunar lander on the Moon in hopes of mining it for resources. If Rocket Lab’s commercial missions deliver as promised, we could be one step closer to making space mining a reality.

Rocket Lab is reviewing the data that the Electron collected during its successful flight into orbit before making plans for its next launch. The company hopes to launch another one of its five available Electron rockets in “early 2018.” But Beck’s company has some lofty goals. The Rocket Lab website states that, at full production, the company expects to launch more than 50 times a year.

A diverse group of companies, offering a variety of services, is beginning to shape the future of spaceflight. Industry giants like SpaceX and Blue Origin tend to grab more headlines. But other companies like Rocket Lab are also doing critical work, and ensuring that satellite companies have a cost affordable option of getting into orbit.

The post Rocket Lab Has Successfully Launched Its Electron Rocket Into Orbit appeared first on Futurism.


What it Takes to Implement and Advance Continuous Testing Successfully

2018 is quickly becoming the year of DevOps and Continuous Testing. Some experts suggest that organizations that are moving towards DevOps should operate with the highest percentage of test automation and while this is a good suggestion, it takes more than just that to be successful in DevOps.

You need a mature DevOps strategy with a robust continuous testing method that is more than the simple automating functional and non-functional testing. While a clear key enabler to be agile is test automation and the ability to release software quickly; continuous testing (CT) does require additional implementations that are continuously measured, to achieve and sustain success.

The main question I get from organizations is how to implement Continuous Testing and advance my DevOps maturity successfully. Here are five steps you can utilize in order to implement CT for your business:

1. Risk vs. Reward – It’s obviously about coverage but you know you can’t test everything. You need to understand the best coverage for browsers and mobile devices for your business.

2. End-to-end testing – You need automated end-to-end testing that compliments your existing development process. In order to create this environment while excluding errors and allowing continuity throughout SDLC, you need to: Implement the right tests, make sure your CT test buckets are correct and leverage reporting appropriately. In addition, these tests that supports various team members and features, need to run per each code commit as part of a consolidated CI process.

3. Stable lab and test environment – The lab needs to be central to everything in your CT process. Your lab needs to be able to support your coverage requirements in addition to the test frameworks that were used to develop the tests.

4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML) –These can help you optimize your CT test suite and reduce the amount of time in release activities. If you are looking for more guidance on how to scale up your test automation, check out our latest ebook.

5. Software delivery pipeline and DevOps toolchain – CT needs to work seamlessly with everything. No matter the framework, environment (front or back-end) and IDEs that are used in the DevOps pipeline – continuous testing needs to pick up all the appropriate testing, execute them automatically and provide feedback for a GO/NO GO on the release.

In 2018, we will continue to see more companies transition into DevOps and Continuous Testing. Those that will stay ahead of the curve need to implement the correct foundation for continuous testing by adopting these five steps and creating a plan that is continuously optimized, maintained and adjusted as things change in the market or on your product roadmap.

Looking for even more insight on automation in DevOps and Continuous Testing?

Sign up for our Top 5 Test Automation Challenges and How to Solve them Webinar on January 30, 2018!

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