Ars Technica Australia
Rocket Report: Starship pops on purpose, Delta IV Heavy ready to try again - Ars Technica
“Suppression of information will be viewed seriously and action will be initiated.”
Enlarge/ Firefly tests the first stage of its Alpha rocket. 52 with 22 posters participating, including story author Welcome to Edition 3.17 of the Rocket Report! Weather and technical issues permitting, we're looking at a busy weekend in Florida, with a Delta IV Heavy booster set for liftoff early on Saturday, followed by a Falcon 9 launch on Sunday morning. In the meantime, catch up on all the booster news below. As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar. New Shepard scrubs launch attempt. On Thursday, Blue Origin scrubbed the first launch attempt of its first New Shepard rocket since December 2019. The mission was due to fly several commercial payloads and some lunar landing technology for NASA. "We've detected a potential issue with the power supply to the experiments," Blue Origin stated. The company added that it would try to launch again on Friday, September 24, at 15:00 UTC. Things have moved slowly, but ... Some people have started to take a ho-hum attitude toward New Shepard, as it is taking so long to get into service for humans and is "only" a suborbital system. But as I outlined on Twitter, I think this is still an exciting program, and it really does take time to certify that a system capable of launching cargo can do so safely for humans as well. (submitted by Tfargo04 and Ken the Bin) ISRO plans two launches in November. After nine months of standing down, largely due to COVID-19 issues at the country's primary spaceport, the Indian Space Research Organization is planning two launches of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in November, The New India Express reports. According to the publication, the PSLV-C49 and PSLV-C50 missions are now targeted for that month. Best not to suppress information ... This schedule is tentative and predicated on effectively controlling the virus as employees return to work at Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. Employees must immediately report if members of their family undergo a virus test. "Suppression of information will be viewed seriously and action will be initiated," the spaceport told employees. (submitted by Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17) The easiest way to keep up with Eric Berger's space reporting is to sign up for his newsletter, we'll collect his stories in your inbox. German rocket company seeks to disrupt European launch. The co-founder of German rocket firm Isar Aerospace said he believes the European launch industry, led by state-backed Arianespace, is ripe for disruption. "Europe is where the US launch industry was 15 years ago," said Daniel Metzler, co-founder and chief executive of the Munich-based company, in an interview with Ars. Serving a growing market? ... Isar grew from 25 to 100 employees this year, and it is targeting a 2022 launch for its "Spectrum" rocket, which is designed to have the capacity to launch up to 1,000kg to low Earth orbit. The company has not set a price per launch, but it is targeting a competitive price point of 10,000 euros ($11,700) per kilogram. The company believes there is a growing number of European companies and other groups that will seek affordable access to space for small satellites. Firefly conducts a successful first-stage test. On Saturday, the Texas-based rocket company performed a test of its Alpha rocket's flight first stage. The four Reaver engines performed 35 seconds of thrust vector control maneuvers. Firefly described the test as a major step in Firefly's march to first flight. This may come as early as November. (video here) A deep dive into Firefly's owner ... The mysterious Ukrainian backer of Firefly who saved the company from bankruptcy, Max Polyakov, has stirred controversy in the aerospace industry for a business portfolio that includes racy dating sites. However, a new feature by Bloomberg Businessweek provides some perspective on Polyakov and his interest in space. Worth your time. (submitted by Ken the Bin) Two suborbital rockets launch from Australia. The Australian small-satellite launch firm Southern Launch said it has completed two polar suborbital launches in a row on a Netherlands-designed two-stage DART rocket, SpaceWatch.Global reports. The launches, from the Koonibba Test Range northwest of Ceduna in South Australia, were separated by a period of only 1 hour 40 minutes. Getting the public excited ... "We as Australians have achieved something incredible today, because today at Koonibba, Australia took its first small step towards once again being a proud space-capable nation," Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said. This appears to have been an effort to spur public interest in Australia, as the company hopes to develop its own orbital rockets in the future. (submitted by Cognac) OneWeb and Arianespace to restart launches. After emerging from a period of financial uncertainty, OneWeb says it plans to start launching satellites into low Earth orbit again, with the goal of providing high-speed Internet from space. Prior to its bankruptcy the company had planned to launch 18 more missions on Europeanized Soyuz rockets, deploying a constellation of 648 satellites before the end of 2021. Flipping from the Ariane 6 ... Now, under an amended agreement, Arianespace will provide 16 additional launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022. The revised contract canceled two Soyuz launches and also removed OneWeb as the customer for the inaugural Ariane 6 launch, SpaceNews reports. According to OneWeb, Arianespace plans to commence commercial services by the end of 2021 for regions including the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, and Canada. (submitted by Ken the Bin, Tfargo04, platykurtic, and JohnCarter17) China may see commercial space as key. A new study by the US Air Force's university think tank, titled "China's Space Narrative," assesses China's use of soft power and diplomacy as potentially powerful weapons that could undermine the United States. One of the topics it focuses on is the potential of commercial space in the coming years, SpaceNews reports. Envious of SpaceX ... Chinese analysts, according to the report, see the US commercial space sectorand especially SpaceXas role models that Chinese companies should emulate. China views the US commercial space industry as a major advantage for the United States. The report says China's private commercial sector faces many challenges, including a lack of a supportive policy environment and the central government's favoritism toward the state-owned sector. (submitted by JohnCarter17) Oft-delayed UAE satellite launch delayed yet again. The launch of Russia's Soyuz-ST rocket with UAE's Falcon Eye 2 satellite from the Kourou launch facility in French Guiana, scheduled for October, is postponed until early November, the Russian state news agency TASS reports. No reason was given for the additional delay. Everything slips ... The UAE satellite was originally planned to launched on March 6, but it was postponed for one day because of problems with the rocket's Fregat upper stage. Later, UAE and Arianespace decided to replace the stage and postpone the launch. As the novel coronavirus pandemic continued to gain momentum, all work at the Kourou launch facility has been suspended, and the mission has been postponed again. After this the launch was set for October. (submitted by JohnCarter17) Starship blows its top. On Wednesday morningearly Wednesday morning, just before 5am local time in South TexasSpaceX finally managed to burst a test tank for its Starship project. The so-called SN 7.1 tank was built to test a new steel alloy that SpaceX engineers believe will be stronger for the Starship and Super Heavy vehicles. The failure was on purpose. Watching the top pop ... The good folks at NASASpaceflight.com have video of the pop, which occurred after the tank was pressurized. So far, SpaceX has not revealed what pressure the tank sustained before popping. Now the focus at the company's Boca Chica site will turn to preparing SN 8a full-scale prototype with flaps, a nose cone, and three Raptor enginesfor a flight campaign. It may roll over to the launch site today. That will be something to see. Weather looks OK for Delta IV Heavy launch attempt. Weather conditions this weekend should be favorable for a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy mission, marking the three-core rocket's third attempt to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida Today reports. The updated forecast calls for a 60-percent chance of "go" conditions. Third time's the charm? ... If schedules hold, the rocket will lift off at 12:14am EDT Saturday (04:14 UTC) from Launch Complex 37, carrying a National Reconnaissance Office intelligence-gathering satellite. The primary concerns revolve around clouds. Two previous launch attempts in late August were scrubbed due to technical issues. The first occurred when pneumatics issues in ground equipment forced teams to stand down; the second was caused by a torn diaphragm in a pressure regulator just seconds before liftoff. (submitted by JohnCarter17) NASA invites media to SLS Green Run test. On Wednesday, the space agency opened media registration for access to the first test firing of the Space Launch System core stage. As part of the invitation, NASA said the test was expected to occur in "early November." Ars plans to be there. A key test ... This will be a big moment for NASA and the core-stage prime contractor, Boeing, which has labored for years to build the large liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen tanks and engine section that will house four space shuttle main engines. Under a nominal test, the rocket will fire for about eight minutes to simulate an ascent into orbit. If the booster passes the test, it will be shipped to Florida for a potential launch in late 2021. (submitted by Ken the Bin) Sept. 26: Delta IV Heavy | NROL-44 | Cape Canaveral, Fla.| 04:14 UTC Sept. 27: Falcon 9 | Starlink-12 mission| Kennedy Space Center, Fla. | 14:43 UTC Sept. 28: Soyuz | Three Gonets satellites | Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia| 11:20 UTC
How your PS4 and Xbox One games will work on PS5 and Series X - Ars Technica
From backward compatibility to “optimized” upgrade plans, it’s all explained here.
Enlarge/ A tense standoff across the demilitarized zone. 46 with 34 posters participating, including story author Console gamers looking at upgrading to a new system at the end of the year likely have a few major questions about how their existing game libraries will work across console generations, such as:
- Will I be able to play my current games on the new system?
- How will those games be improved when running on more powerful hardware?
- Will I have to buy another copy of the game to get those enhancements?
- Now we know what PlayStation 5 looks like...
- ...and we also know what its "Digital Edition" sibling looks like, too. But many questions remain unanswered.
- The entire PS5 hardware library, as revealed by Sony on Thursday.
- Handsome, slow-motion pans across the hardware reveal how blue LED lights will glow through the system.
- The all-important "PS" logo.
- The console appears to have one USB Type-A and one USB Type-C slot on its front face.
- Revealed peripherals: the DualSense controller (which we'd already seen).
- An official charging station! Well, now.
- Sony is continuing its streak of launching a brand-new camera peripheral for a new console.
- Sony's continued talk of the Tempest 3D Audio Engine makes this headset announcement pretty unsurprising.
- Instead of concluding with a new VR headset, Sony showed fans... a new media remote. I mean, it looks nice enough.
- Xbox Series X, due in November 2020. It's tall. And it has a modified controller compared to the Xbox One pad.
- Straight-ahead perspective.
- Phil Spencer confirms "15 Xbox game studios" are working on new games for the console.
- This is a better look at the new controller, along with a peek at at least one front-of-box USB Type-A port.
- Xbox Series X. It's hovering in a watery landscape.
- Apparent ventilation dots on the top of the console's tower.
- Halo Infinite is still slated to launch close to Xbox Series X's "holiday 2020" launch window.
- Let's rumble a sports car through a detailed valley. Assumedly taken from the Forza franchise.
- Another dramatic Halo landscape view.
- Phil Spencer then showed off new game Hellblade II: Senua's Saga, which he said was "all captured in-engine as being built to take full advantage of Xbox Series X."
- The apparent real-time rendering of Senua's detailed face was stunning.
- Lots of eerie, spooky stuff in the Hellblade II trailer. Thus, on brand.
New Chrome experiment promises up to 28% more battery life - Ars Technica
- Google's first test, with 36 background tabs and a blank foreground tab.
- Test #2 is more realistic, with a YouTube video in the foreground and 36 tabs in the background.
Guinness reinstates Billy Mitchell's Donkey Kong, Pac-Man records [Updated] - Ars Technica
Evidence review results in public split with Twin Galaxies.
52 with 48 posters participating Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday announces the reversal of its decision on Billy Mitchell's records. Guinness World Records has reinstated a number of classic video game world records held by Billy Mitchell. The move comes just over two years after Mitchell's records were expunged following an investigation by Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard, which partners with Guinness to adjudicate video game records.That investigation found that recordings of some of Mitchell's record performances on Donkey Kong were not achieved on legitimate arcade hardware, based on extensive video analysis. Twin Galaxies has not changed its position on Mitchell's records, resulting in a split between the two record-tracking organizations. Guinness now once again recognizes Mitchell as the first player to achieve a perfect Pac-Man score of 3,333,360 points in 1999 and the first player to reach 1 million points in Donkey Kong in 2005. "It's been a long time coming," Mitchell said in an interview with Ars Technica. The evidence In a video announcing the decision, Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday said the organization "review[ed] both the existing evidence and newly sourced eyewitness testimony, plus some new expert gameplay analyses and hardware verification. In the end, we found that there just wasn't sufficient evidence to support the disqualification across the board." "In cases such as this where there is debate, we would typically defer to the original contemporaneous adjudication, and this is the case here," Glenday continued. Speaking to Ars Technica, Mitchell said Guinness relied on the expert analysis of Robbie Lakeman, who currently holds the Donkey Kong record of 1,260,070 points. Lakeman's analysis was also included in a massive evidentiary package Mitchell released publicly last year."After reviewing Billys gameplay and reproducing similar games myself, I can honestly say that this is legitimate gameplay," Lakeman said in a statement. "I do not see a reason why Billy would need to even use MAME or save states to film both games with this style of play." Mitchell added to Ars that his scores "occurred in live public venues under the observation of numerous referees and third-party eyewitnesses. In the 1,050,200 world record, I played on hardware verified by the senior engineer at Nintendo. "To this day, I still possess the box used to ship the hardware, with his name and Nintendos UPS account number. Those are the facts." Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day said in Guinness' video that he is "very pleased to see this happen, and I had faith it would turn out this way. All of those people who were part of the old days who played the old games and saw Billy Mitchell playthey knew that he was completely capable of getting these records, and they also knew that there was no MAME capable of being played on back in the golden age." Enlarge/ Billy Mitchell competes at a (presumably authentic) Donkey Kong cabinet. In a written statement, Day also cites "industry veteran Todd Tuckey," in saying that "what Twin Galaxies' [new owners] assert about Billy Mitchells score is simply not possible. There has never and will never be an emulsion [sic] board that plugs into a Donkey Kong machine. It is simply impossible for anything but legitimate hardware to have been inside Billy Mitchells machine. "Everybody's really going to embrace this situation because they know Billy Mitchell is a tremendous player and his scores are legitimate," Day added, perhaps underestimating the controversy that has surrounded Mitchell throughout his game playing career. Legal maneuvering? Mitchell told Ars he has known about the results of Guinness' investigation since December but that today's announcement was delayed because "we had to wrap up the legal agreement." Mitchell wouldn't comment any further on that, saying he was bound by a confidentiality agreement. While Mitchell last year threatened to sue Guinness World Records over his score removal, he told Ars that this legal threat had been previously rendered moot and did not play into Guinness' decision. "We had no chance to beat [Guinness] in court, because we could not prove it acted with actual malice... that it knew its statements were false or they had a reckless disregard for truth or falsity," he said. "You must prove this to win a defamation case. GWR made [today's] decision because it was true and correct. Those are their values... At best, I feel that the legal sphere simply got their attention." Earlier this year, Mitchell moved forward with a defamation lawsuit against Twin Galaxies in Los Angeles county court, first reported publicly by Ars Technica. Mitchell tells Ars his lawyers have "sent [Twin Galaxies] a second retraction demand. We plan to either receive a retraction or proceed to a jury trial."A hearing in the Twin Galaxies trial is set for July 6. Twin Galaxies representatives were not immediately available for comment on Guinness' decision. "Unfortunately, in 2018 I became the subject of false allegations," Mitchell said in summary in the Guinness video. "I just shook my head as to how this would happen. I didn't shake my head long. My support system simply wouldn't let me." Update: Reached for comment by Ars Technica, Twin Galaxies owner and CEO Jace Hall sent the following meme as an image, which he said could serve as his quote on the matter: