Author: Darrell Etherington

SpaceX successfully launches and recovers second Falcon 9 in 48 hours

TECHCRUNCH SpaceX has succeeded in launching another Falcon 9 into space, this time for client Iridium, a global satellite telecommunications provider. The Iridium-2 mission on Sunday saw a Falcon 9 take off from SpaceX’s Vandenberg Air Force base in California, with a payload of 10 satellites destined to become part of Iridium’s NEXT constellation, which will comprise 75 satellites in total once SpaceX has launched them all, creating a network that Iridium says will allow anyone on Earth to contact anyone else, anywhere else on Earth. SpaceX also managed to land the Falcon 9 first stage on its autonomous ocean-borne landing barge, despite tricky conditions. Just ahead of launch, SpaceX founder Elon Musk noted that the drone ship “Just Read The Instructions” had to be repositioned at a late stage due to extreme weather conditions, which would result in less chance of a successful recovery. The mission also included the first ever use of a new grid fin system on a Falcon 9 first stage. Grid fins are used to help steer and orient the reusable first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere and returns to the planet’s surface. The new grid fins used on this rocket were made of solid titanium, instead of shielded aluminum. This should allow SpaceX to reuse them with a minimum of refurbishment required, lessening the time and...

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Watch SpaceX launch 10 satellites into orbit with a Falcon 9 live right here

TECHCRUNCH [embedded content] SpaceX is attempting its second launch in under 48 hours today at 4:25 PM EDT (1:25 PM PDT), from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch will be the second for client Iridium, a global telecommunications and data provider. The payload for today’s launch includes 10 satellites that make up the second batch of a total of 75 SpaceX is launching into space to help complete Iridium’s NEXT global satellite constellation. As mentioned, SpaceX’s last launch happened just a couple of days ago, on Friday, with its BulgariaSat-1 mission. This launch took place at SpaceX’s...

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SpaceX successfully launches reused Falcon 9 rocket, recovers first stage

TECHCRUNCH SpaceX has successfully launched a Falcon 9 to orbit during its BulgariaSat-1 mission Friday. The launch reused a first stage booster first employed during an Iridium Communications mission in January of this year, after that Falcon 9 first stage was recovered and refurbished. The mission on Friday was to delivery Bulgaria’s first ever geostationary communications satellite into orbit, so that it could begin operations broadcast communication networks and HDTV signals for clients on Earth in parts of Europe. The satellite was built by SSL out of Palo Alto, California. The first stage also landed successfully on the company’s drone ship in the Atlantic ocean, “Of course I still love you,” making it the first ever to have successfully landed on both of SpaceX’s two ocean-borne drone landing vessels. That recovery was also the most challenging successful landing so far for SpaceX, because of launch conditions. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk warned on Twitter prior to the launch that the Falcon 9 used would “experience its highest ever reentry force” during today’s launch, along with record levels of heat, making it less likely that SpaceX will be able to successfully recover the rocket for reuse this time around. In fact, Musk said there’s a “good chance” they don’t get the rocket back. The launch from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center is the second ever re-use of an...

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Nissan’s ProPILOT driver assist features coming to the new LEAF EV

TECHCRUNCH [embedded content] Nissan will be bringing its ProPILOT Assist ADAS features to the brand new Nissan LEAF, the redesigned version of its pioneering EV, which is still “coming soon” and mostly still a secret. We do, however, expect it to have around 200 miles of range on some models, which is more than double the current version. The ProPILOT features will provide semi-autonomous acceleration, braking and steering features while driving in single-lane settings on highways. It’s a feature that debuted first on Nissan vehicles in Japan, and the LEAF marks the first time it’ll make its way beyond the company’s home country. Nissan’s ProPILOT tech is its effort to build out to full autonomy eventually, with the end goal being a system that can navigate even busy city intersections as well as stretches of relatively uncomplicated open road. In this stage, it’s like a more limited version of Tesla’s Autopilot, but it’s still a step towards greater autonomy on consumer shipping...

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Satellogic raises $27M for affordable, high-resolution imaging satellites

TECHCRUNCH Space tech company Satellogic has raised $27 million in a Series B round led by Chinese internet giant Tencent, and with participation by CrunchFund (disclosure: co-founded by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington). The company also launches its sixth micro-satellite into orbit on June 15, aboard a Long March-4B rocket that took off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. What Satellogic offers that’s unique is affordable, high-resolution imaging in a micro-satellite pllatform, with the ability to capture photo data of the Earth at 1 meter resolution. By comparison, Planet Labs’ Dove cube-satellite constellation offers 3-5 meter resolution. Satellogic’s products also carry...

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Watch SpaceX launch a re-used Falcon 9 rocket live right here

TECHCRUNCH [embedded content] SpaceX is attempting to re-launch a Falcon 9 it used first in January, taking off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center with a two-hour launch window opening at 2:10 PM EDT today. The mission, BulgariaSat-1, will attempt to deliver a geostationary orbital commercial comms satellite, the first in Bulgaria’s history, to orbit. The broadcast above should kick off around 15 minutes prior to the opening of the launch window. The first stage rocket in the Falcon 9 was originally used to launch the Iridium-1 mission from Vandenberg this past January, meaning the rocket has...

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Logitech’s Slim Combo for iPad Pro really boosts your portable productivity power

TECHCRUNCH Logitech has a long history of making keyboard accessories for iPad, and it has a new product out in time for the release of the latest iPad Pro 10.5 and 12.9 updates. The Slim Combo, which is available for either size device, includes a back cover case with an integrated Apple Pencil sleeve, and a keyboard that uses the iPad’s Smart Connector. The two piece approach results in a slim, flexible accessory package for the iPad on the go, which is pretty much a perfect combo for business travelers or creatives who want to pack light. While it’s a ridiculous neologism, Microsoft’s ‘Lapability’ comes to mind when using the Logitech Slim Combo, since the back case includes a fold out kickstand that does a pretty good Surface Pro impression, letting you prop up your iPad Pro with a wide range of possible angles. It reliably stays open at the angle you set it, and you can even use it on your lap, as you probably guessed by now, making it a useful solution for iPad use on the couch, on the train or anywhere else you don’t have a dedicated desk. The case can be used with or without the keyboard, which just snaps magnetically onto the edge of your iPad Pro (intentionally left open by the case). The 12.9-inch version of the Slim Combo includes a keyboard...

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Watch this guy play Super Mario Bros. IRL in Central Park using HoloLens

TECHCRUNCH [embedded content] Super Mario Bros. is iconic, so it’s a natural target for augmented reality development, where everything nostalgic is new again. This demo, created by Abhishek Singh, really is amazing, however. Singh recreated the first level of Super Mario Bros. as an augmented reality game on Microsoft HoloLens, giving himself a first-person perspective into a unique 3D look inside the classic setting. This is a very cool interpretation of what it would be like to play Super Mario Bros. at scale in the real world, and the recording is taken directly from the HoloLens, with no post-production...

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Trump Death Watch Clock