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Musk's SpaceX wins Pentagon award for missile tracking satellites - CNA
Elon Musk's SpaceX won a US$149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the Pentagon, the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) said on Monday, in the company's first government contract to build satellites.
LONDON: Elon Musk's SpaceX won a US$149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the Pentagon, the US Space Development Agency (SDA) said on Monday (Oct 5), in the company's first government contract to build satellites. SpaceX, known for its reusable rockets and astronaut capsules, is ramping up satellite production for Starlink, a growing constellation of hundreds of internet-beaming satellites that chief executive Elon Musk hopes will generate enough revenue to help fund SpaceXs interplanetary goals. Advertisement Advertisement Under the SDA contract, SpaceX will use its Starlink assembly plant in Redmond, Washington, to build four satellites fitted with a wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensor supplied by a subcontractor, an SDA official said. Technology company L3 Harris Technologies Inc., formerly Harris Corporation, received US$193 million to build another four satellites. Both companies are expected to deliver the satellites for launch by fall 2022. The awards are part of the SDAs first phase to procure satellites to detect and track missiles like intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which can travel long distances and are challenging to track and intercept. SpaceX in 2019 received US$28 million from the Air Force to use the fledgling Starlink satellite network to test encrypted internet services with a number of military planes, though the Air Force has not ordered any Starlink satellites of its own. Advertisement Advertisement
US COVID-19 deaths projected to more than double to 410000 by January - CNA
U.S. deaths from the coronavirus will reach 410,000 by the end of the year, more than double the current death toll, and deaths could soar to 3,000 per day in December, the University of Washington's health institute forecast on Friday.
REUTERS: US deaths from the coronavirus will reach 410,000 by the end of the year, more than double the current death toll, and deaths could soar to 3,000 per day in December, the University of Washington's health institute forecast on Friday (Sep 4). Deaths could be reduced by 30 per cent if more Americans wore face masks as epidemiologists have advised, but mask-wearing is declining, the university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said. Advertisement Advertisement The U.S. death rate projected by the IHME model, which has been cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, would more than triple the current death rate of some 850 per day. "We expect the daily death rate in the United States, because of seasonality and declining vigilance of the public, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December," the institute, which bills itself as an independent research center, said in an update of its periodic forecasts. "Cumulative deaths expected by January 1 are 410,000; this is 225,000 deaths from now until the end of the year," the institute said. It previously projected 317,697 deaths by Dec 1. Advertisement Advertisement The model's outlook for the world was even more dire, with deaths projected to triple to 2.8 million by Jan 1, 2021. The United States, which has the world's third largest population, leads the planet with more than 186,000 COVID-19 deaths and 6.1 million coronavirus infections. The institute made waves earlier this year when its aggressive forecasts contrasted with President Donald Trump's repeated statements that the coronavirus would disappear. But deaths have surpassed some of the institute's dire predictions, which have been frequently updated to reflect new data, revised assumptions and more sophisticated information sources. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues forecasts only four weeks in advance, and its latest estimate is for 200,000 to 211,000 dead by Sep 26. But the institute said with so many Americans still refusing to wear masks, there remains "an extraordinary opportunity" to save lives. "Increasing mask use to the levels seen in Singapore would decrease the cumulative death toll to 288,000, or 122,000 lives saved compared to the reference scenario," it said. "Mask use continues to decline from a peak in early August. Declines are notable throughout the Midwest, including in some states such as Illinois and Iowa with increasing case numbers," the report said. Although US infections have declined to around 45,000 per day from a peak of around 70,000 per day in July, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death, the institute said. That would place it behind only heart disease, having surpassed cancer as a cause of death in the United States. Infection rates have recently fallen in large states such as Texas, Florida and California, leading to the national decline in cases. But 10 states, many of them in the Midwest, still average more than one secondary case per infected person, an indication of rapid spreading, the report said. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
'Ring of fire' solar eclipse thrills skywatchers in Africa, Asia - CNA
Skywatchers along a narrow band from west Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, India and the Far East witnessed Sunday a dramatic "ring of fire" solar eclipse.
NAIROBI: Skywatchers along a narrow band from west Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, India and the Far East witnessed on Sunday (Jun 21) a dramatic "ring of fire" solar eclipse. So-called annular eclipses occur when the moon - passing between Earth and the sun - is not quite close enough to our planet to completely obscure sunlight, leaving a thin ring of the solar disc visible. Advertisement Advertisement They happen every year or two, and can only been seen from a narrow pathway across the planet. Sunday's eclipse arrived on the northern hemisphere's longest day of the year - the summer solstice - when Earth's north pole is tilted most directly towards the sun. The "ring of fire" was first visible in northeastern Republic of Congo from 5.56am local time (0456 GMT) just a few minutes after sunrise. Advertisement Advertisement This is the point of maximum duration, with the blackout lasting 1 minute and 22 seconds. Arcing eastward across Africa and Asia, it reached "maximum eclipse" - with a perfect solar halo around the moon - over Uttarakhand, India near the Sino-Indian border at 12.10pm local time (0640 GMT). More spectacular, but less long-lived: The exact alignment of the Earth, moon and sun was visible for only 38 seconds. In Nairobi, east Africa, observers saw only a partial eclipse as clouds blocked the sky for several seconds at the exact moment the moon should have almost hidden the sun. Despite some disappointment Susan Murbana told AFP: "It was very exciting because I think I'm so obsessed with eclipses. "Today has been very kind to us in terms of the clouds. And we've been able to see most of it," said Murbana who set up the Travelling Telescope educational programme with her husband Chu. Without the coronavirus pandemic, they would have organised a trip to Lake Magadi in southern Kenya where the skies are generally clearer than over the capital. "With the pandemic situation, we're not able to have crowds ... and get kids to look through or do stuff," she said but still managed to share the event on social media. "We had around 50 people joining us via Zoom and then we have so many people via our Facebook live." The annular eclipse is visible from only about 2 per cent of Earth's surface, Florent Delefie, an astronomer at the Paris Observatory, told AFP. "It's a bit like switching from a 500-watt to a 30-watt light bulb," he added. "It's a cold light and you don't see as well." ANIMALS GET SPOOKED Animals can get spooked - birds will sometimes go back to sleep, and cows will return to the barn. The full eclipse was visible at successive locations over a period of nearly four hours, and one of the last places to see the partially hidden sun was Taiwan. People hundreds of kilometres on either side of the centreline across 14 countries could also see light drain from the day but not the "ring of fire". Weather conditions are critical for viewing. A solar eclipse always occurs about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse, when the moon moves into Earth's shadow. Lunar eclipses are visible from about half of the Earth's surface. There will be a second solar eclipse in 2020 on Dec 14 over South America. Because the moon will be a bit closer to Earth, it will block out the sun's light entirely.