Day: August 1, 2020

Astronauts successfully depart the ISS aboard SpaceX Dragon, starting their trip home

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have successfully undocked from the International Space Station, which is the first crucial stage of their return to Earth. Next, they’ll travel on a coast phase that will take them on a descent course back through the atmosphere from space, shedding speed as they prepare to deploy the parachutes of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and drop into the Atlantic Ocean for recovery.

The undocking, coast and splashdown phase are all meant to be performed entirely via automation, with the control systems SpaceX designed for Crew Dragon managing the entire process, including burns to control the capsule’s travel away from the Station and its controlled descent through the atmosphere. While re-entering the atmosphere, the Dragon will undergo tremendous stress, and its angle of descent is intended to slow its velocity to the point where it can safely deploy those parachutes to slow its fall even further, all the while keeping Behnken and Hurley safe.

The coast phase will take many hours, with SpaceX and NASA expecting the eventual splashdown of the capsule happening sometime around 2:42 PM EDT (11:42 PM PDT) tomorrow, Sunday August 2.

This is the final phase of SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission from its Commercial Crew program with NASA, which is the qualification program that the agency requires to certify Crew Dragon for regular operational missions taking astronauts to and from the station. Behnken and Hurley launched on the first part of this historic mission, which is the first to see humans fly aboard a SpaceX spacecraft, on May 30, and have spent the intervening months on the Space Station contributing to regular crew missions.

Crew Dragon will splash down off the coast of Florida to conclude Demo-2, and SpaceX crews are on hand to recover the astronauts at that point and bring them the rest of the way back to terra firma. If everything goes to plan, then SpaceX will officially be ready to begin standard astronaut flights, as mentioned – and the first of those is planned for sometime in late September, so they won’t have to wait long.

We’ll have updates for the remainder of this final leg as they become available, so stay tuned.

7 of the best reality shows from around the world

7 of the best reality shows from around the world

Scripted shows are great, but sometimes you just want to binge some good reality TV. Long-running reality television series such as The Bachelor, Survivor, and Say Yes to the Dress are popular options for scratching that unscripted drama itch, with all of them easy to flick on and devour. However, if you’re looking for a change of pace, consider casting your hungry eyes farther afield — like across an ocean.

Reality TV shows are deliciously addictive regardless of where they’re from, but different countries’ fresh approaches can make familiar formulas exciting and new. There’s also a ton of engrossing reality formats that haven’t yet found popularity in the U.S., offering a whole new world of engaging unscripted television to explore. Read more…

More about Television, Reality Tv, Reality Show, Masterchef, and Reality Television

Trump told reporters he will use executive power to ban TikTok

President Donald Trump said he could act to ban the world’s most popular short video app TikTok from the US as early as Saturday, according to The Hill.

The president said he could use “emergency economic powers or an executive order” to bar TikTok from the US, he told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.

The news came hours after reports broke that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok. Investors are reportedly valuing three-year-old TikTok at $50 billion. In his remark on Friday, Trump signaled he was not supportive of allowing an American company to acquire TikTok.

On the same day, Bloomberg reported that Trump could order ByteDance to divest its ownership of TikTok.

In response to Trump’s decision, TikTok, as usual, tried to make a case that it’s in the interest of the US to keep the app and it poses no national security threat:

“100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform,” said a TikTok spokesperson.

Trump’s announcement confirmed weeks of speculation that US regulators planned to block TikTok, which is immensely popular among American teens, over concerns that it could be a spying tool for Beijing.

The question is how a divestment or ban of TikTok will take shape. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, which has emerged as the most promising tech startup in China in recent times, reportedly valued at a staggering $100 billion. It operates Douyin, the popular Chinese version of TikTok, separately for China-based users.

ByteDance has sought various ways to distance TikTok from any Chinese association. Efforts in the past few months range from appointing former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as TikTok’s CEO, claiming the app’s data is stored on American land, through to promising to create 10,000 jobs in the US.

TikTok’s comms team also tried to assuage concerns by reiterating that four of its parent company’s five board seats are “controlled by some of the world’s best-respected global investors,” including Arthur Dantchik, managing director of Susquehanna International Group; William Ford, CEO of General Atlantic; Philippe Laffont, founder of Coatue Management; and Neil Shen, the boss of Sequoia China. ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming is the chairman of the board.

It’s worth noting that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) still hasn’t released its decision on whether the Musical.ly-TikTok merger constitutes a national security threat to the U.S. Even if it orders TikTok to shed Musical.ly, it’s unclear how the sale will happen in practice. When ByteDance merged the two apps back in 2018, it asked Musical.ly’s existing users to download the TikTok app, which already had users, so all of TikTok’s current users are, technically, TikTok users.

If the divestment is aimed at TikTok, will ByteDance be forced to sell all of its international assets? TikTok also has a substantial user base outside the US. Before India banned TikTok over national security fears, a favorite criticism among many US politicians, the country was the app’s largest overseas market.

It’s looking increasingly likely that Zhang Yiming’s worst nightmare is going to happen. The entrepreneur had aspirations to conquer the international market from the outset, and now his startup has become the latest pawn in US-China relations.