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3bn could struggle to get COVID-19 vaccine due to fridge shortages - Business Insider - Business Insider
Large parts of Asia, Latin America, and Africa lack sufficient cold storage facilities to keep a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
Billions of people may have to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine because of a dearth of effective cold storage facilities. Most vaccines need to be stored, transported, and administered at consistent, cool temperatures, usually between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. But a number of trial vaccines nearing the end of clinical trials require far lower temperatures, because they are RNA vaccines — a type of vaccine that carries instructions to cells to build protein. Those working on RNA vaccines include Moderna, which requires its vaccine to to be stored at minus 15 degrees Celsius, and Pfizer, which has told the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that its vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. But these stringent requirements may mean countries lacking sufficient cold storage facilities are unable to inoculate their populations in their entirety, according to the Associated Press. A volunteer receives an injection during a coronavirus vaccine trial in Soweto, Johannesburg, in June 2020. Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool via AP The AP identified parts of Central Asia, India, southeast Asia, Latin America, and "all but a tiny corner of Africa" as the areas most in need of cold storage facilities. Dr. Alberto Paniz-Mondolfi, a pathologist in Venezuela, told the AP that his country's infrastructure may not be developed enough to see a vaccine delivered to rural areas safely. "I'm not optimistic on how the vaccine would be distributed in the inner states because there is no infrastructure of any kind to guarantee delivery — or if it gets delivered, guarantees the adequate preservation under cold conditions," he said. The national vaccination director of Burkina Faso, Issa Ouedraogo, told the AP that the country requires around 1,000 extra clinical refrigerators to store coronavirus vaccines. Only 40% of health centers have reliable fridges, he added. Capped vials are being pictured during filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222. VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images India is also concerned that it will not be able to safely store enough vaccine doses for its 1.3 billion citizens, given that they may require extremely cold temperatures. "Most if not all the current frontrunners require extremely stringent cold chains, making them immensely challenging for India to implement," Satyajit Rath, of the National Institute of Immunology (NII,) told the Press Trust of India. Sam Roscoe, a senior lecturer in operations management at the University of Sussex and a fellow at the UK Trade Policy Observatory, previously told Business Insider: "The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and USAID will have an important role to play in ensuring the current lack of cold storage does not impede the vaccine being distributed around the world." A September report from the German logistics giant DHL said that "temperature requirements are likely to be the main challenge" to a COVID-19 vaccine rollout. "Regions with a particularly warm climate and those with limited cold-chain logistics infrastructure will pose the biggest challenge in a stringent vaccine distribution scenario," it said. A researcher works on a coronavirus vaccine at Copenhagen University's research lab on March 23, 2020. THIBAULT SAVARY/AFP via Getty Images In an article in The Conversation, Anna Nagurney, professor of operations management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, also said the supply chain is currently able to handle the production and rollout of around 6.4 billion flu vaccines a year — which is not enough for the entire world. "The current vaccine cold chain is not up to the task, and expanding the supply chain is not going to be easy," she said. Other logistics companies are upping their cold storage capabilities in anticipation. UPS is constructing two "freezer farms" containing "600 deep-freezers that can each hold 48,000 vials of vaccine at temperatures as low as -80 Celsius," Bloomberg reported. And a mission to ensure that the world's poorest do have access to a vaccine, when it is ready, is already underway. Covax — which is run by the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — aims to administer two billion doses to the world's poorest by 2022. Covax plans to prioritize vaccines that can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, the AP said. A researcher holds up a dose of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidate. Getty Experts also worry that other parts of the vaccine supply chain are not equipped to handle a global vaccination drive. For example, there is a shortage of glass vials used to bottle vaccines and fears that there will not be enough cargo planes to transport the vaccine all over the world. "They can't be left on a tarmac and fought over because they would actually be spoiled and they would have no value — or worse still, people would still be trying to distribute them," Glyn Hughes, the global head of cargo for the International Air Transport Association, told the AP. Several drugmakers are currently in the final stages of clinical vaccine trials. Pfizer and BioNTech said last week that they hope to submit their RNA vaccine candidates for emergency-use approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in late November. Loading Something is loading.
SpaceX found surprising heat-shield wear after NASA astronaut mission - Business Insider - Business Insider
SpaceX is about to launch four astronauts for NASA, but it had to fix a weak spot in the heat shield that protects them when returning to Earth.
SpaceX discovered unexpected damage to part of its Crew Dragon space capsule after the vessel carried its first astronauts this summer, officials said on Tuesday. The Demo-2 mission flew NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on May 30. The two men stayed there for two months, then weathered a fiery fall through Earth's atmosphere to splash down in the Gulf of Mexico on August 2. But after the company recovered and studied the toasted space capsule up-close, examiners spotted something unusual: deep erosion on Crew Dragon's heat shield. That thermal protection system is a collection of heat-resistant tiles that line the spaceship's vulnerable underbelly. It protects Crew Dragon by deflecting and absorbing heat that can reach 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit while the space capsule plummets through the atmosphere and creates superheated plasma on its return to Earth. SpaceX expected to find some wear and tear, but not quite this much. An illustration of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship returning to Earth with a blaze of plasma ahead of its heat shield. SpaceX via YouTube "We found, on a tile, a little bit more erosion than we wanted to see," Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of build and flight reliability, told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday. Koenigsmann said the affected part of the heat shield is close to "tensions ties" that connect the Crew Dragon to its large cylindrical trunk. (The trunk helps propel the spacecraft in orbit but is thrown away before the spaceship begins reentry.) One of four areas surrounding those tension ties got deeply worn away by searing-hot plasma as Behnken and Hurley returned to Earth. Still, the spaceship and its crew safely returned home despite the unexpected problem. "At all times the astronauts were safe and the vehicle was working perfectly," Koenigsmann said. Before Behnken and Hurley returned to Earth, Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO and chief designer, said reentry was the part of the mission that he worried most about. NASA surveyed the heat shield for damage ahead of that return flight, while the Crew Dragon capsule was still docked to the space station. During its two months attached to the orbiting laboratory, small bits of space debris could have damaged the ship's heat shield. The inspection relied on a robotic arm on the space station and some onboard cameras but did not turn up any problems. It was only after Behnken and Hurley were safely back on Earth that SpaceX discovered the weak spot in its heat shield. But these are the types of issues Behnken and Hurley's flight was meant to find and iron out. Whereas theirs was considered a demo mission, the Crew Dragon is next set to carry a crew on its first routine mission, called Crew-1. NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi are scheduled to launch aboard the Crew Dragon on October 31. NASA and SpaceX have already reinforced the vulnerable part of the heat shield ahead of that flight, Koenigsmann said. NASA's Crew-1 crew members in SpaceX's Crew Dragon (left to right): NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, as well as JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. SpaceX via NASA "We've gone in and changed out a lot of the materials to better materials," Steve Stich, the program manager for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which oversees the SpaceX astronaut missions, told reporters on Tuesday. "We've made the area in between these tiles better." NASA tested five samples of the new tile in a simulated environment that mimics reentry — a wind tunnel at its Ames Research Center in California. "I'm confident that we fixed this particular problem very well," Koenigsmann said. "Everything has been tested and is ready to go for the next mission." It's unclear why the excessive heat-shield erosion didn't show up on the prior demo mission, an uncrewed test flight in which Crew Dragon launched, docked to the space station, and returned to Earth with no human passengers. Koenigsmann speculated that the capsule may not have experienced the problem because it was lighter and had a slightly different trajectory on that mission. "At the end of the day, it's great that we found it on this ride," he said. "This was not an unsafe situation at all. This is something that we observed and and then, basically, changed to make sure that nothing nothing bad will ever happen."
Google is closing a loophole for developers to avoid paying its in-app payment tax - Business Insider - Business Insider
Google also said in a blog post it will make it easier for users to install alternative app stores to its own.
Google said it will clamp down on a loophole that allows big developers like Netflix and Spotify avoid paying 30% commission on in-app payments. Until now, developers have been able to side-step the 30% commission that comes with using Google's in-app payment system by getting users to enter their card details directly. Google's vice president for product management, Sameer Samat, wrote in a blog post on Monday that the company was giving "clarity" on its billing policies. Samat wrote that "all apps selling digital goods" will have until September 30, 2021 to move to Google's billing system. The upshot is that apps that sell you subscriptions, digital media, or virtual items will have to shift to this system and pay Google's 30% levy, and it may mean an accompanying rise in prices. Business Insider has approached Spotify, Netflix, and Tinder for comment. Samat wrote that Google's own apps will also be subject to the commission, and that the changes would only impact less than 3% of developers. This announcement from Google comes after a drawn-out fight between Apple and developers on a similar mandatory commission on the App Store. This resulted in major developers including Spotify, Epic Games, and Match Group forming an alliance called the "Coalition for App Fairness" on Thursday. It also comes after Apple waived its usual fee for a Facebook feature in a rare concession. Epic Games is currently suing both Apple and Google over their fees. Unlike Apple, which only allows iOS devices to support its App Store, Samat wrote in his blog post that Google plans to make it easier for users to get their apps from places other than the official Play Store. "We believe that developers should have a choice in how they distribute their apps and that stores should compete for the consumer's and the developer's business," Samat wrote, adding that the release of Android 12 next year will include functionality to make it easier for users to install alternative app stores on their phones. However, there appears to be some nuance here. Samat suggested that developers would not be able to tell users how to avoid Google's in-app tax within their Google Play app. He wrote, emphasis ours: "Developers have asked whether they can communicate with their customers directly about pricing, offers, and alternative ways to pay beyond their app via email or other channels. "To clarify, Google Play does not have any limitations here on this kind of communication outside of a developer's app." Google's post appears geared towards heading off accusations of anti-competitive behavior. Developers have complained in the past that Apple wields monopolistic power by only allowing iOS devices to use its App Store, which in turn forces developers to pay its 30% payment commission. Google allows Android users to install apps from stores other than its Play Store, though the Play Store is still the primary way most people access apps. Google is under particular antitrust scrutiny in the US at the moment, with the Department of Justice (DOJ) getting ready to announce an investigation into the company — though this probe will reportedly focus on Google's dominance as a search engine.
Estée Lauder pays NASA for night repair serum photoshoot in space - Business Insider - Business Insider
The 10 bottles of Estée Lauder's "advanced night repair" serum will be carried by a NASA craft to the International Space Station in October.
Beauty giant Estée Lauder is sending one of its skincare serums to the International Space Station for a four-and-and-half hour photoshoot by NASA astronauts. The brand is paying NASA about $128,000 to send its "advanced night repair" serum to space. A spacecraft delivering commercial supplies, including radish seeds, a new toilet, and 10 bottles of Estée Lauder serum, will launch from Virginia "no earlier than October 1," and take around four days to reach the ISS, the companies said. NASA astronauts will film and photograph the serum in the ISS's Cupola, an observatory with seven windows that provide panoramic views of space. The shoot will last around four-and-a-half hours, an agreement between the two organizations said. But the astronauts won't appear in the images — or be paid extra to take the photos. The items will return to Earth in the spring, and Estée Lauder will auction one bottle for charity. The photoshoot forms part of NASA's efforts to promote business opportunities on the ISS. NASA announced plans in 2019 to develop what it calls a "low-Earth orbit economy" that opens the ISS up to businesses. It will dedicate around 5% of crew time to commercial activities, it said, totalling around 90 hours of astronaut work time per year. Estée Lauder is the first beauty brand to launch into space with NASA, it said in its release.
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will vote from space in November election - Business Insider - Business Insider
"It's really important for everybody to vote, and if we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground too," Kate Rubins told AP.
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins plans to vote from space during the upcoming general election. Rubins told The Associated Press on Friday that astronauts cast votes from the orbit because they "feel that it's very important." "It's critical to participate in our democracy," she said. "We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space, and so we fill out a form and we vote via absentee ballot, and I plan on doing that in November." Rubins is in Star City, Russia, the AP reported, where she is getting ready for a mid-October launch to the International Space Station. She will spend six months there. Most American astronauts live in Houston, Texas, the AP said. The state's law permits them to use a secure electronic ballot to cast a vote, which Mission Control sends to the county clerk, once it's completed. "I think it's really important for everybody to vote, and if we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground too," Rubins said. Rubins and her fellow astronaut Shane Kimbrough voted from space during the 2016 presidential election, per AP.
One Chart Shows The Best And Worst Face Mask Types, Based on The Latest Research - ScienceAlert
A mask made of multiple layers of high-thread-count cotton is preferable to one made from a dishcloth or cotton T-shirt.
A simple trick can reveal whether your face mask offers sufficient protection: Try blowing out a candle while wearing it. A good mask should prevent you from extinguishing the flame. The rule isn't foolproof, but it should help weed out masks that aren't very protective. Ever since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending cloth masks for the general public in April, researchers have been evaluating the best materials for filtering the coronavirus. An ideal mask blocks both large respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes — the primary method by which people pass the virus to others — along with smaller airborne particles called aerosols, which are produced when people talk or exhale. It should be sealed around the nose and mouth, since any gaps, holes, or vents could allow droplets to leak out and infect another person. Assuming masks are worn properly, certain materials consistently perform better than others in studies. Based on the latest research, here's a ranking of the best and worst face coverings: Yuqing Liu/Business Insider 'Hybrid' masks are among the safest homemade options As a general rule, mask fabrics should be woven as tightly as possible. That's why fabrics with higher thread counts are better at filtering particles. It's also preferable to have more than one layer. The World Health Organization recommends that fabric masks have three layers: an inner layer that absorbs, a middle layer that filters, and an outer layer made from a nonabsorbent material like polyester. N95 masks are the most protective because they seal tightly around the nose and mouth so that few viral particles seep in or out. They also contain tangled fibers to filter airborne pathogens — the name refers to their minimum 95% efficiency at filtering aerosols. A recent Duke study showed that less than 0.1% of droplets were transmitted through an N95 mask while the wearer was speaking. That's why they're generally reserved for healthcare workers. Disposable surgical masks are also made of non-woven fabric. A 2013 study found that surgical masks were about three times as effective at blocking influenza aerosols as homemade face masks (that was true, at least, when air flow was slower than a cough but faster than a human breathing during light work). Still, there are homemade options that come close to the level of protection of an N95 or a surgical mask. Packaged surgical face masks. InkheartX/Shutterstock An April study from the University of Chicago determined that "hybrid" masks — combining two layers of 600-thread-count cotton paired with another material like silk, chiffon, or flannel — filtered at least 94% of small particles (less than 300 nanometers) and at least 96% of larger particles (bigger than 300 nanometers). Two layers of 600-thread-count cotton offer a similar level of protection against larger particles, but they weren't as effective at filtering aerosols. That study, however, conducted measurements at low air-flow rates, so the masks might offer less protection against a cough or a sneeze. Still, multiple layers of high-thread-count cotton are preferable to face coverings made from a dishcloth or cotton T-shirt. Fabrics like silk or cotton have more variable performances A June study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found that masks made from vacuum-cleaner bags were among the most effective alternatives to surgical masks, followed by masks made from tea towels, pillowcases, silk, and 100% cotton T-shirts, respectively. A woman sewing hospital masks at the Detroit Sewn facility in Pontiac, Michigan, on March 23. Rebecca Cook/Reuters Research from the University of Illinois, meanwhile, found that a brand-new dishcloth was slightly more effective than a used 100%-cotton T-shirt at filtering droplets when a person coughed, sneezed, or talked. That study (which is still awaiting peer review) also found that a used shirt made of 100% silk was more effective at filtering high-momentum droplets, most likely because silk has electrostatic properties that can help trap smaller viral particles. The University of Chicago study came to a different conclusion, however: Those researchers found that a single layer of natural silk filtered just 54% of small particles and 56% of larger particles. By contrast, four layers of natural silk filtered 86% of small particles and 88% of large particles at low air-flow rates. Bandanas and scarves don't offer great protection Kevin Houston using a bandana to cover his face on April 23 in Evanston, Illinois. Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images Bandanas and scarves have performed poorly in multiple studies. The Journal of Hospital Infection study found that a scarf reduced a person's infection risk by only 44% after they shared a room with an infected person for 30 seconds. After 20 minutes of exposure, the scarf reduced infection risk by just 24%. Similarly, the Duke researchers found that bandanas reduced the rate of droplet transmission by a factor of two, which makes them less protective than most other materials. For the most part, though, any mask is better than no mask, with one notable exception: The CDC cautions people not to wear masks with built-in valves or vents. Masks with one-way valves can expel infectious particles into the atmosphere, helping to fuel transmission. Mask studies should be taken with a grain of salt Though research is coalescing around the idea that a few types of masks offer the best protection, it's not always easy to simulate how a mask will perform in real life. That's because only certain tests directly mimic the size of novel coronavirus particles, while others evaluate performance based on viruses like influenza. Researchers also still aren't sure about the degree to which the virus gets transmitted via aerosols, since those tiny particles are hard to trap and study without killing the virus. Some scientists even have different ideas of what constitutes an aerosol — the generally accepted cutoff is less than 5 microns (that's roughly the size of a dust particle) — and many experts think the delineation is arbitrary. Different studies also test masks under different circumstances: Some mimic the heavy air flow produced when a person coughs, while others mimic the air flow when a person is talking or breathing normally. And of course, masks perform differently depending on how they're worn. That's why it's better to stick with more protection over less. Loading Something is loading.
NASA successfully test-fired the most powerful rocket booster ever - Business Insider - Business Insider
NASA hopes to fly the full Space Launch System in 2021, then send astronauts to the moon in 2024 as part of its Artemis program.
With a spark, a burst of flames, and a thunderous roar on Wednesday, NASA completed a pivotal test of a rocket booster expected to power a return to the moon. The 176-foot boosters being tested — which NASA calls "the largest, most powerful boosters ever built for flight" — are part of the agency's Space Launch System (SLS), which it intends to use to fly astronauts to the lunar surface. It's part of a larger program called Artemis: a roughly $30 billion effort to put boots back on the moon for the first time since the 1970s. Wednesday's test involved a booster prototype built by Northrop Grumman, one of several private companies NASA has contracted to build the 365-foot-tall SLS. The prototype rumbled to life at 3:05 p.m. ET, at the company's testing facility in the hills of Promontory, Utah. It belched out an estimated 3.6 million pounds of thrust, blasting the desert with fire, smoke, and sand for 126 seconds — the exact amount of time it'd have to work during a real flight. "The results are looking really good so far, [but] it takes us a while to dissect the information," Charlie Precourt, Northrop Grumman's vice president of propulsion systems, said during a post-test call with reporters. A broadcast on NASA TV captured live footage of the test (below). NASA's Artemis program calls for SLS to launch the first woman and next man to the moon in 2024. The agency eventually plans to build a space station orbiting the moon, called the Gateway, and a permanent moon base to and from which it can regularly shuttle astronauts. If realized as designed, SLS will be made of a small upper-stage rocket, a massive core stage, and two flight-support boosters attached to the side. Each booster is made of five segments full of solid fuel. Precourt, a former NASA astronaut, said the material has a consistency similar to a pencil eraser. Getting the entire 2.2-million-pound system off the ground requires enormous power. Together, the twin boosters are designed to provide about 75% of the force necessary to propel the rocket during the first two minutes of flight. After that, the spent boosters will fall away, allowing the core stage to propel the upper stage with an Orion spaceship on top. From there, Orion and its astronaut crew can chart a course to the moon. An illustration of NASA's Space Launch System rocketing toward space. NASA via Associated Press But that's years away — first NASA must extensively test the mettle of its new launch system, including the boosters. The recent ground test was designed to expose materials or processes that need tweaking. "This test, dubbed Flight Support Booster-1, or FSB-1, will evaluate new propellant materials and verify that all ballistic requirements of the motor are met," Northrop Grumman ballistics engineer Nikolas Ciaston said during NASA's live broadcast. Precourt said the primarily aim was to test changes to the booster's nozzle, as well as the solid fuel itself. Of the 30 fuel-filled segments required for the first three planned SLS flights, Precourt said Northrop Grumman has manufactured 26 and is close to finishing the other four. However, the SLS program as a whole is already far over budget (as is NASA's other human spaceflight initiative, the Commercial Crew Program). The rocket's development cost has increased 30% since 2017, when it was estimated at $7 billion, according to a report from the US Government Accountability Office. NASA expects to complete a crucial series of ground tests, dubbed "Green Run," this fall. Kathy Lueders, the newly anointed manager of NASA's human spaceflight program, wrote in a blog post last month that she's "confident" the first full, uncrewed test flight of SLS could happen in November 2021. She added, however, that "it is too early to predict the full impact of COVID-19" on the program's timeline.
SpaceX may attempt 3 rocket launches on Sunday - Business Insider - Business Insider
SpaceX, Elon Musk's aerospace company, has scheduled two back-to-back Falcon 9 launches in Florida, just nine hours apart.
SpaceX is aiming to launch three rockets on Sunday, including two back-to-back Falcon 9 launches in Florida and a Starship test flight in Texas, if weather permits. The aerospace company said it intends to launch its twelfth Starlink mission at 10:12 a.m. EST from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending 60 Starlinks into orbit. The second Falcon 9 launch is scheduled to occur nine hours and six minutes later, taking off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:18 p.m. and sending a SAOCOM 1B spacecraft into orbit. Both the Starlink and the SAOCOM 1B launches will be live-streamed. Separately, SpaceX is also reportedly aiming to launch the Starship SN6 from Boca Chica, Texas, for a low-altitude test flight. Earlier in August, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that the company is planning to do "several short hops to smooth out launch process, then go high altitude with body flaps." Though it's unclear what time the Texas launch — if it goes forward — will occur, Cameron County in Texas has announced highway closures between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CST "due to anticipated test launch activities for SpaceX." On Friday, Musk acknowledged the efforts for the multiple launches on Twitter, saying there was a "good chance something will slip, but, yeah, Sunday is intense."
NASA: A truck-sized asteroid is headed toward Earth one day before the November election - Business Insider - Business Insider
An asteroid has a slim chance of putting us out of our misery on November 2 as it heads toward Earth one day before the US election, according to NASA.
An asteroid has a slim chance of putting us out of our misery on November 2 as it heads toward Earth one day before the US election, according to NASA. Named "2018 VP1," the asteroid is pretty tiny, with an estimated diameter of 1.8 to 3.9 meters, NASA data show. It's only 0.41% likely to actually impact the Earth, CNN reported, but celestial objects that size tend to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere anyway, according to NASA. Between the coronavirus pandemic, a reckoning with racial justice, sky-high depression and anxiety, election season, and murder hornets (which aren't really invading the US, by the way) perhaps some are wishing the chances were a bit higher. 2018 VP1 has had a few close encounters with Earth before, dating back to 1970. It last visited in November of 2018, roughly when it was discovered at California's Palomar Observatory. It's due back, after a two-year orbit around the sun, to come within 4,800 and 260,000 miles of our atmosphere, NASA data show. For reference, the International Space Station sits about 254 miles above the planet. The size of asteroids like this one makes them hard to spot until they get close to Earth, but the majority pass by much farther away than the Moon, NASA said in a recent release. In fact, one dubbed 2020 QG passed the earth just 1,830 miles above the Indian Ocean last week — the closest such encounter on record — and NASA didn't even see it coming, they said. "It's quite an accomplishment to find these tiny close-in asteroids in the first place, because they pass by so fast," said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "There's typically only a short window of a couple of days before or after close approach when this small of an asteroid is close enough to Earth to be bright enough but not so close that it moves too fast in the sky to be detected by a telescope," he said. NASA did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for more information. Loading Something is loading.
Apple, 'Fortnite' feud shows holes in iPhone-maker's antitrust defense - Business Insider - Business Insider
Apple's efforts to prove that the App Store is a fair and level playing field doesn't seem to be working.
Less than a month ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared before Congress in a blockbuster antitrust hearing to address concerns that the company's App Store policies were harming competition. In his opening statement, Cook pointed out that the vast majority of developers pay nothing to Apple, drawing comparisons to the old days when software makers would have to pay for shelf space at brick-and-mortar stores. Ahead of the hearing, Apple even commissioned a study showing that the 30% cut Apple takes from App Store purchases was not dissimilar to the rates charged by other digital marketplaces. But developers have long criticized these policies, arguing that the cut Apple takes makes it difficult to price their offerings competitively alongside Apple's own products, like Apple Music or Apple Arcade. That tension culminated into somewhat of a powder-keg moment in recent weeks when "Fortnite" maker Epic Games sued Apple after the tech giant removed the game for bypassing its payments policies. While Epic is not the first company to voice these concerns or mount a legal campaign, it's certainly one of the most high-profile, and its calculated play has galvanized other app makers, including news publishers, to come out against the so-called App Store Tax. The whole debacle suggests Apple's efforts to downplay accusations that the company isn't providing a level playing field for developers aren't working. Rather, they may be further fueling developers' concerns — and poking holes in Apple's own antitrust defense in the process. Even before the iPhone maker yanked "Fortnite" from its App Store earlier this month, Epic began taking shots at the company. In an email dated June 30, a month before the antitrust hearing, Epic urged the tech giant to change its payments policy. After Apple declined to negotiate, the game developer sent another email on August 13 opposing the policy outright. "I'm writing to tell you that Epic will no longer adhere to Apple's payment processing restrictions," CEO Tim Sweeney said in that email, which was revealed on Friday in court documents. "We choose to follow this path in the firm belief that history and law are on our side." That day, Apple and Google removed "Fortnite" from their app stores after Epic launched a way to purchase in-game currency directly — skirting Apple's and Google's payment systems to avoid the 30% cut. Epic then filed a lawsuit against Apple, released a video mocking Apple's iconic "1984" ad that cast the company in a bad light, and is even planning to hold an anti-Apple event called #FreeFortnite. It all appeared to be a deliberate attempt by Epic to illustrate its point that Apple's policies are anticompetitive, and Apple took the bait, as my colleague Troy Wolverton wrote. In its statement on the matter, Apple said it removed "Fortnite" from the App Store because Epic Games violated guidelines that apply to every developer. "Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we're glad they've built such a successful business on the App Store," the company said. "The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users." Apple's clash with Epic came after the tech giant explained why Microsoft's cloud gaming service won't be allowed in the App Store when it launches in September, citing App Store rules that would require Apple to approve each game included in the service. The effect of these two giant showdowns has inspired others to confront Apple. News publishers are now pressuring Apple for a better deal that would allow them to keep a bigger cut of digital subscriptions sold through the App Store. A trade group that counts news outlets such as Business Insider, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and The Washington Post among its members wrote a letter to Apple asking about the conditions Amazon satisfied in order to land a better deal, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. That comes after The New York Times pulled out of Apple News in June because the relationship gave the Times "little control over its business." Cook mentioned such conditions during the July antitrust hearing but did not specify what they were. Apple has a strong incentive to ensure that all developers abide by its rules and use its in-app payments system. The company's services business, which includes revenue from App Store transactions, is now its second-largest money-maker behind the iPhone when it comes to quarterly revenue. Apple relies on businesses like its services division to juice its revenue during periods when iPhone sales are slow. Apple even held an entire event last year — a ritual usually reserved for tentpole hardware launches — to introduce new digital offerings like Apple TV Plus, the Apple Card, and Apple Arcade. It also prides itself on a rigorous app approval process and the high bar it sets for developers looking to publish their apps on its platform — and that's a good thing. But if Apple's policies are driving away or excluding products from major players like Epic, Microsoft, or The New York Times, it starts to raise the question: Are Apple's decisions coming at the detriment of the consumer, and ultimately its own services?