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Rocket Report: SpaceX hits the century mark, vote for Atlas V on Election Day - Ars Technica
“Falcon 9 and Delta 4 stopped within seconds of launch? This is good stuff.”
Enlarge/ The "In Focus" mission takes to the skies this week. 35 with 20 posters participating Welcome to Edition 3.22 of the Rocket Report! After a spate of recent scrubs, the Cape gets down to business in the coming week with back-to-back government launches, one by United Launch Alliance and the other by SpaceX. Fingers (and toes) are crossed. 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. Rocket Lab orbits its 15th mission. Rocket Lab successfully launched its 15th Electron mission and deployed Earth-imaging satellites for Planet and Spaceflight Inc. customer Canon Electronics, the company said. The "In Focus" mission launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand's Mhia Peninsula at 21:21 UTC Wednesday. So many Electrons ... The mission (see the video) was Rocket Lab's fifth launch in this calendar year, making Electron the second-most-frequently flown US launch vehicle in 2020 after the Falcon 9 rocket. The company said its next mission is scheduled to take place from Launch Complex 1 in the coming weeks. (submitted by Ken the Bin and platykurtic) Concerns raised about Virgin Orbit debris in Pacific Ocean. The US Federal Aviation Administration is evaluating a proposal by Virgin Orbit to fly its LauncherOne rocket from Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific Ocean. The applicationfor a maximum of 10 launches in a single year, and no more than 25 from the period of 2021 to 2025includes a draft environmental assessment. Rockets dropping into oceans ... As part of its launch procedure, the Cosmic Girl aircraft would fly east of Guam before releasing the two-stage rocket. Along this flight path, the FAA has determined that falling debris may adversely affect endangered marine mammals, sea turtles, and fish species. "The impact of debris striking a marine mammal or sea turtle may result in injury or mortality to individuals," the environmental assessment states. The FAA is accepting public comment on the assessment until November 16, Pacific Daily News reports. 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. Firefly bets on making rockets with robots. On Thursday, the Texas-based rocket company announced "a substantial commitment" to increase its manufacturing capacity by transitioning large-parts manufacturing from Ingersoll Machine Tools to Automated Fiber Placement systems beginning next year. Once fully operational, the AFP capabilities could enable production of the all-composite Alpha rocket airframe in as little as 14 days, the company said. Going big on composites ... "From the outset Firefly chose to utilize 21st-century materials and manufacturing processes in our spacecraft and rocket designs. Metallics were the most prevalent aerospace material of the last century; composites, which are stronger and lighter than metallics, are the choice for modern aircraft. Firefly's Alpha is the world's largest all-carbon-fiber liquid-fueled rocket," said Firefly CEO Tom Markusic. The company will begin installing the manufacturing systems next May. (submitted by Ken the Bin) SpaceX details "lacquer" issue with new Falcon 9 boosters. NASA and SpaceX confirmed on Wednesday that they are targeting November 14 for the launch of the Crew-1 mission that will carry four astronauts to the International Space Station. Originally scheduled to launch on Halloween, NASA delayed the launch after an engine issue aborted an October 2 launch attempt of a Falcon 9 rocket, at T-2 seconds, carrying a GPS III satellite for the US Air Force. "You have to be on your toes" ... During a teleconference with reporters on Wednesday, SpaceX's Hans Koenigsmann explained what happened with the October 2 launch abort and what has been done to address the issue going forward. In short, some masking lacquer applied before an anodizing process was not properly cleaned away before flight. For the longer, more complete story, see this Ars Technica article. Space Force not concerned about spate of scrubs. A streak of United Launch Alliance and SpaceX launch scrubs has frustrated rocket-company executives and space aficionados. But Space Force launch managers are not discouraged and in fact see scrubs as proof that systems are working like they should, Col. Douglas Pentecost said in a report from SpaceNews. Range safety, security are paramount ... "We see that as a success," said Pentecost, the deputy director of the Space Force's Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise. Pentecost spoke at a virtual space industry conference organized by AFCEA, the National Defense Industrial Association and the Air Force Association. "Falcon 9 and Delta 4 stopped within seconds of launch? This is good stuff," said Pentecost. "We're learning a lot; we're working with both ULA and SpaceX to understand what happened." (submitted by Ken the Bin) Atlas V set for Election Day launch. United Launch Alliance teams mounted a top-secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office on top of an Atlas 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral Monday in preparation for a liftoff scheduled just after sunset November 3, Spaceflight Now reports. Codenamed NROL-101, this launch will be the first Atlas 5 rocket flight to be powered by a new model of strap-on solid-rocket boosters built by Northrop Grumman, replacing solid-fueled motors from Aerojet Rocketdyne. Swapping with Delta ... The Atlas 5 flight from pad 41 is going ahead next week as ULA continues resolving launch pad infrastructure issues at the company's other Cape Canaveral launch facility. Those problems have delayed the flight of a Delta 4-Heavy rocket with a different NRO spy satellite since late August and caused ULA to swap the order of its missions to have the next Atlas 5 flight go first. (submitted by Ken the Bin) Advertisement SpaceX reaches the century milestone. On Saturday, with a Starlink mission, SpaceX launched its 100th successful flight. This milestone dates to September 28, 2008, and the fourth launch attempt of the company's Falcon 1 rocket. Fly and re-fly ... To mark the moment, the company released a video with a snippet from each of these 100 missions, and it is pretty cool to behold. SpaceX also noted that it has recovered 63 of the first stages it has launched and re-flown boosters 45 times. (submitted by Ken the Bin) Axiom close to finalizing private ISS launch. Axiom Space hopes to soon finalize its first commercial mission to the International Space Station, scheduled for late 2021, SpaceNews reports. Michael Suffredini, president and chief executive of Axiom Space, said his company had lined up the customers for that first mission, a 10-day flight to the space station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2021. Just about done ... "We have all of our customers identified and we're about to finish their contracting," he said. The company previously announced a contract with SpaceX for the flight and is "just about done" with a NASA contract for the mission. "We're cautiously optimistic that, by the end of October, we will have everything in place to move forward for a launch in the fourth quarter of 2021," he said. Finding private customers for orbital space tourism would be a real boon for launch companies such as SpaceX. (submitted by Joey SiVB, platykurtic, and JohnCarter17) BE-4 rocket engine moving into production. Blue Origin appears to have solved some development issues related to the turbopumps in its powerful BE-4 rocket engine. United Launch Alliance Chief Executive Tory Bruno said Friday that the problem was "sorted out" and that the full-scale flight-configured BE-4 engine is now accumulating a lot of time on the test stand, Ars reports. Getting past the technical stuff ... Bruno's company, ULA, is buying the BE-4 engine to provide thrust for the first stage of its upcoming Vulcan-Centaur rocket. This booster may make its debut next year, although ULA is still awaiting delivery of BE-4s for the first flight. Bruno said the focus at Blue Origin is shifting from development of the engine to ramping up production. "That is always a good moment in time in the development program, because that means your big technical stuff is behind you," he said during Friday's interview on The Space Show. Ariane 6 rocket delayed until 2022. The debut flight of the Ariane 6 rocket will slip into the second quarter of 2022, European Space Agency officials said during a teleconference with reporters on Thursday. The delay is attributed to the need to resolve final technical difficulties as well as to the interruption of work due to COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe, where the rocket is being assembled, and the launch site in French Guiana. ESA will also ask member states for an additional 230 million Euros to finance the rocket's development. Responding to SpaceX ... Developed over much of the last decade, Ariane 6 is Europe's answer to the rise of SpaceX and its low-cost Falcon 9 rocket. Although the rocket is not reusable, it is designed to be simpler, more efficient, and to deliver payloads at a lower cost. Originally, it was due to launch in 2020, but earlier this year the European Space Agency announced it would slip to the second half of 2021. Daniel Neuenschwander, director for Space Transportation for ESA, also said the Vega C rocket debut would slip to June 2021. Advertisement SLS Green Run test delayed again. As of earlier this month, NASA and Boeing were targeting mid-November for the SLS Green Run test in Mississippi. But now that's off. In a blog-post update, NASA said Tuesday that it now expects to set a new date next week, after Hurricane Zeta and after assessing "data from recent tests to ensure the team is ready to proceed." Saw something they didn't like ... Chris Bergin reported on Twitter that the test would slip into December "and possibly further" due to technical issues. The Boeing and NASA teams seem to have discovered some data from the sixth of the eight tests that are due to be completed. They want to review what they've found before conducting the wet dress rehearsal and, ultimately, a hot-fire test of the large core stage. This slip makes it all but certain that the SLS rocket will not make its debut launch in 2021. (submitted by Ken the Bin) Starship to be used to collect orbital debris? SpaceX could use its Starship vehicles to clear out space debris in Earth orbit, alongside the program's more publicized purpose of ferrying people and cargo to the Moon and Mars. "Starship is an extraordinary new vehicle capability," President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said in a discussion posted online October 22, Spaceflight Now reports. Junk in the trunk ... "Not only will it decrease the costs of access to space, it's the vehicle that would transport people from Earth to Mars," Shotwell said in an interview with Time's technology columnist Patrick Lucas Austin. "But it also has the capability of taking cargo and crew at the same time, and so it's quite possible that we could leverage Starship to go to some of these dead rocket bodiesother people's rockets, of coursebasically pick up some of this junk in outer space." Starship will no doubt be a game changer if and when SpaceX gets it flying. (submitted by platykurtic and Ken the Bin) Nov. 3: Atlas V | NROL-101 classified mission| Cape Canaveral, Fla. | 22:58 UTC Nov. 4: Falcon 9 | GPS III-04 | Cape Canaveral, Fla. | 23:28 UTC Nov. 6: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle | RISAT-2BR2 mission | Satish Dhawan Space Center | 09:45 UTC
How a tiny bit of lacquer grounded new Falcon 9 rockets for a month - Ars Technica
"Rocketry is tough and requires a lot of attention to detail."
Enlarge/ Nine Merlin engines power the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket. 34 with 28 posters participating NASA and SpaceX confirmed on Wednesday that they are targeting November 14 for the launch of the Crew-1 mission that will carry four astronauts to the International Space Station. Originally scheduled to launch on Halloween, NASA delayed the launch after an engine issue aborted an October 2 launch attempt of a Falcon 9 rocket, at T-2 seconds, carrying a GPS III satellite for the US Air Force. During a teleconference with reporters on Wednesday, SpaceX's Hans Koenigsmann explained what happened with the October 2 launch abort and what has been done to address the issue going forward. Two of the rocket's nine first-stage engines ignited early during the early October launch attempt, and this triggered an automatic abort of the engines. (Had the abort not triggered, it is likely that nothing bad would have occurred, but Koenigsmann said under certain, extreme scenarios, rattling from an early ignition may have caused significant damage to the Merlin engines). Replicating the issue SpaceX technicians removed the two engines and shipped them from Florida to the company's test site in McGregor, Texas, where they were able to replicate the problem. They found that a relief valve within the gas generatora tiny rocket within the engine that starts up and powers its machinerywas clogged with a masking lacquer akin to nail polish. They were able to show that removing the lacquer from the vent hole allowed the engines to start up normally. This lacquer is applied during an anodizing process to treat aluminum components of the gas generator. It is supposed to be subsequently removed, but in the case of these two engines, a tiny amount of the material had been trapped within a bore hole less than 2mm across. Advertisement "So it was a really great find in that sense, and allowed us to fix something that is very subtle but can have obviously some negative impact on the engine operation," Koenigsmann said. After this, SpaceX inspected other engines across its fleet (the company inspected new boosters only, as Falcon 9 first stages that have already flown are not subject to this issue). SpaceX found that two of the engines on the Falcon 9 rocket that will be used for the Crew-1 launch also had this problem. Those two engines are now being swapped out for new Merlins. The new plan If all goes to plan, SpaceX will launch two new Falcon 9 first stages before Crew 1: the GPS III mission on November 4, and the Sentinel-6 mission for NASA on November 10. Provided those launches go well, NASA will likely stick to the November 14 date for the Crew-1 mission that will send NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission specialist Soichi Noguchi, to the International Space Station. Their Crew Dragon would rendezvous with the space station about 8.5 hours after launching at 7:49pm EST (00:49 UTC on November 15). This lacquer issue came as a surprised given that SpaceX has literally launched hundreds of new Merlin 1D rocket engines over the last decade and, until now, had not seen this problem with the masking agent. "It's certainly possible that we had cases of it earlier, and they were appreciably so harmless that we completely missed them," Koenigsmann said. It is also possible that a small process was changed so that all of the lacquer was not removed, as this particular treatment is done by an outside vendor. But, he admitted, "It's difficult to explain how this works for so many years and then, suddenly, you see this coming up in the data." What Koenigsmann seems confident in is that the issue will not occur again. The company's engineers now understand it, know how to look for it, and won't be surprised by it again. "Rocketry is tough and requires a lot of attention to detail," he said. "It's always a challenge. It's always difficult. You have to be on your toes to get this right."
AMD’s newest graphics cards: RDNA2 power from $579 to $999 - Ars Technica
Pricing is a mixed bag—we expect to see price cuts on the low-end RX 6800 soon.
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- AMD CEO Lisa Su holds the Radeon RX 6900 XT.
- Radeon RX 6900 XT, committed to the VirtualLink standard that Nvidia has since left behind.
- Radeon RX 6900 XT, fans and ports.
- Radeon RX 6800 XT, fans and ports.
- Radeon RX 6800 XT, blown up.
- The Radeon RX 6900 XT, with a bit more embellishment on one of its edges than its RDNA 2 siblings.
- Radeon RX 6800 (not XT). Three fans, two 8-pin connectors.
- The Radeon RX 6800 (not XT), showing off its ports and backplate.
- Big Navi offers huge generation-on-generation gains... much like Nvidia's RTX 3000 series did, versus its RTX 2000 series.
- 4K frameratesgenerally the best metric for raw GPU performanceare at a pretty much dead lock between the RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT.
- Smart Access Memory is the ability for Ryzen 5000 series processors to access the GPU's entire memory pool; "Rage Mode" is what the company is calling one-click overclocking this week.
- For the most part, we're still looking at a dead heat between Nvidia's RTX 3090 and AMD's new RX 6900 XT.
- AMD has positioned the non-XT version of the RX 6800 against a last-generation RTX 2080Ti, rather than the new RTX 3070.
|AMD card||AMD price||Most comparable Nvidia card||Nvidia price|
|Radeon RX 6800||$580||RTX 3070||$500|
|Radeon RX 6800 XT||$650||RTX 3080||$700|
|Radeon RX 6900 XT||$1,000||RTX 3090||$1,500|
Nvidia RTX 3070 review: AMD’s stopwatch just started ticking a lot louder - Ars Technica
Ahead of Radeon RX 6000 series reveal, we examine Nvidia’s new mid-high RTX card.
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- Air is pulled from the bottom via this fan.
- Top exhaust fans, tighter zoom.
- Bottom intake fan, tighter zoom.
- Go on, plug it in. You know you want to.
- Nvidia's new 12-pin connector standard, which connects here.
- It comes with an adapter cable for existing 8-pin PSUs.
- Plug this end into one of your PSU's 8-pin cables.
- 3xDisplayPort, 1xHDMI 2.1.
|RTX 3080 FE||RTX 3070 FE||RTX 2080 Ti FE||RTX 2080 Super||RTX 2070 Super||GTX 1080 Ti|
|Memory Bus Width||320-bit||256-bit||352-bit||256-bit||256-bit||352-bit|
|Memory Size||10GB GDDR6X||8GB GDDR6||11GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||11GB GDDR5X|
|MSRP at launch||$699||$499||$1,199||$699||$499||$699|
Google Fi now sells the Pixel 4a on a subscription plan for $9 a month - Ars Technica
If you're OK with paying for Fi for two years, you'll actually save some money.
Google Fi is Google's MVNO (Mobile virtual network operator) business. It resells cellular service from T-Mobile and US Cellular with a bunch of Google Voice-style features on top, like Web-based texts and voicemail. Fi offers two forms of billing: the first is a pay-as-you-go plan where your monthly bill is $20 for unlimited texts and calls plus $10 per GB of data you use. Google likes to call the billing "$10 per GB of data," but data billing isn't actually in 1GB increments; you'll be billed down to the penny for exactly what you use. The second option is a $70 "unlimited" plan that will get you 22GB of high-speed data per month, the usual free texts and calls, and 100GB of Google cloud storage. With either plan, there are also no extra fees for tethering or usage on additional data-only SIM cards. On the flexible plan, you still just pay for the data you use, and on the unlimited plan, anything goes until you hit your 22GB cap. Google Fi also just keeps working internationally in 200+ countries with no extra fees.
Bunches of Amazon devices are back down to their Prime Day prices today - Ars Technica
Dealmaster also has deals on Switch controllers, Apple Watch Series 6, and more.
3 with 3 posters participating Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a wide range of deals on Amazon Echo, Fire, Kindle, and Fire TV devices, almost all of which equal the deal prices we saw during Amazon Prime Day last week. Kohl's and Best Buy appear to have the largest collection of deals available, but a handful are also live at other retailers including The Home Depot, B&H, and Target. (Amazon, meanwhile, is not matching the discounts on its own storefront.) Best Buy's landing page says its sale will end at 11:59pm CT on October 22. You can find our full list of the most noteworthy deals in the sale below, but the highlights include Amazon's Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets available for $55 and $80, respectively. Both deals match the all-time lowest prices that were available on Prime Day. We've detailed the Fire HD line before, but in general it remains a solid value for those who want an competent tablet for as low a cost as possible. You'll have to deal with a heavily customized version of Android that doesn't support Google apps by default, although there are ways around that. But the hardware itself is comfortable and quick enough for light reading, video viewing, and Web browsing.A Fire HD 8 Plus adds a USB-C port, an extra GB of RAM (3GB in total), and wireless charging to the 8-inch slate, while the Kids Edition models continue to provide a more durable design and a year's subscription to Amazon's Kids+ (formerly FreeTime Unlimited), which is a library of child-friendly books, shows, and apps. All of those are back at their Prime Day discountsand thus lowest prices to dateas well.Elsewhere, the Kindle Paperwhite is available for $80, which ties the best price we've seen for what remains the best e-reader for most people. A number of Echo speakers and smart displays are similarly available at joint-lows, including the third-gen Echo Dot for $19, the Echo Show 5 for $45, and the brawnier-sounding Echo Studio for $150. In general, these devices remain convenient for lighter smart home control and less complex tasks, though anyone considering an Echo should remain aware of the manyprivacyandsecurity concerns that Amazon's handling of user data has raised over the years. It's also worth noting that none of the redesigned Echo devices Amazon announced last month is on sale, which was the case on Prime Day as well.Nevertheless, if you were interested in one of these deals last week but don't subscribe to Amazon Prime, consider this an opportunity to take advantage ahead of Black Friday (when we expect to see these same deals crop up again). And if you want nothing to do with any Amazon device, we also have deals on the Switch Pro Controller and Joy-Cons, the new Apple Watch Series 6, and more. You can check out our full deals roundup below. Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. The Dealmaster has launched its very own newsletter! Sign up to receive a shorter, tightly curated list of the very best tech deals on the Webno nonsense, direct to your inbox, and often before they make it to the Ars homepage. Top 10 deals of the day Enlarge/ Amazon's Fire HD 10 tablet makes you deal with Amazon's heavily-skinned version of Android but remains good value for those who want a 10-inch tablet on the cheap. Amazon device deals
- Amazon Fire HD 8 (32GB, ads) tablet for $54.99 at Kohl's and Best Buy (normally $85).
- Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (32GB, ads) tablet for $74.99 at Kohl's, Best Buy, and Target (normally $110).
- Amazon Fire HD 10 (32GB, ads) tablet for $79.99 at Best Buy (normally $140).
- Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition (32GB) tablet for $79.99 at Kohl's and Best Buy (includes 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription - normally $125).
- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition tablet for $129.99 at Kohl's and Best Buy (includes 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription - normally $190).
- Amazon Fire TV Cube 4K HDR media streamer + smart speaker for $79.99 at Best Buy and Target (normally $120).
- Amazon Fire TV Recast (500GB) over-the-air DVR for $129.99 at B&H and Best Buy (normally $230).
- Amazon Echo Flex smart plug-in speaker for $9.99 at Kohl's and Best Buy (normally $25).
- Amazon Echo Dot (3rd gen) smart speaker for $18.99 at Kohl's, Home Depot, and Best Buy (normally $40).
- Amazon Echo Show 5 smart display for $44.99 at Kohl's, Home Depot, and Best Buy (normally $75).
- Amazon Echo Show 8 smart display for $64.99 at Kohl's, Best Buy, and Bed Bath & Beyond (normally $105).
- Amazon Echo Show (2nd-gen) 10.1-inch smart display for $149.99 at Kohl's, B&H, and Best Buy (normally $230).
- Amazon Echo Studio smart home speaker for $149.99 at Kohl's, Best Buy, and Target (normally $200).
- Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (8GB, ads) e-book reader for $79.99 at Best Buy and Target (normally $130).
- Amazon Kindle (4GB, ads) e-book reader for $59.99 at Best Buy (normally $90).
- Amazon Kindle Kids Edition (8GB) e-book reader for $74.99 at Best Buy (includes 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription - normally $110).
- Amazon Kindle Oasis (8GB, ads) e-book reader for $174.99 at Best Buy (normally $250).
- Amazon Eero (3-pack, 2019 model) mesh Wi-Fi system for $174.99 at Kohl's and Best Buy (normally $249).
- Dell G5 15 gaming laptop - Intel Core i5-10750H, 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q for $1,199.99 at Dell (normally $1,500).
- Razer Blade Stealth 13 gaming laptop - Intel Core i7-1065G7, 13.3-inch 1080p 120Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, GeForce GTX 1650 Ti for $1,450.99 at Amazon (normally $1,600).
- 27-inch Dell S2721QS monitor - 3840x2160, 60Hz, IPS, FreeSync for $299.99 at Amazon (normally $360).
- Samsung T5 (1TB) portable external SSD for $129.99 at Amazon (normally $145).
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 (PS4, Xbox) for $33.99 at Amazon (normally $40).
- Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) for $39.99 at Amazon and Walmart (normally $50).
- The Last of Us Part II (PS4, used) for $27.99 at GameFly (normally $60).
- Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Switch) for $55.47 at Amazon (normally $60).
- Super Mario Odyssey (Switch) for $44.99 at Amazon (normally $50).
- Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (Switch) for $39.99 at Best Buy (normally $60).
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) for $49.94 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $60).
- Luigi's Mansion 3 (Switch) for $49.94 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $55).
- Pokemon Sword / Pokemon Shield (Switch) for $39.99 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $45).
- LEGO City Undercover (Switch, digital) for $8.99 at Nintendo eShop (normally $25).
- Mark of the Ninja: Remastered (Switch, digital) for $4.99 at Nintendo eShop (normally $20).
- Xbox Live Gold only: Red Dead Redemption 2: Special Edition (Xbox) for $27.99 at Microsoft (normally $80).
- Titanfall 2: Ultimate Edition (Xbox, PS4) for $4.49 at Microsoft and PlayStation Store (normally $25).
- Madden NFL 21 (Xbox, digital) for $40.19 at Microsoft (includes free next-gen upgrade - normally $60).
- Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection (Xbox, digital) for $11.99 at Microsoft (normally $17).
- Paper Mario: The Origami King (Switch, used) for $34.99 at GameFly (normally $60).
- Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Switch, digital) for $24.99 at Amazon (normally $40).
- Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4, digital) for $9.99 at PlayStation Store (normally $16).
- Pre-order: Assassin's Creed Valhalla (Xbox) for $49.94 at Amazon (includes free next-gen upgrade - normally $60).
- Amazon Kindle Unlimited 6-month membership for $29.97 at Amazon (normally $60).
- $200 Apple Gift Card (email delivery) + $20 Best Buy e-gift card for $200 at Best Buy (normally $220).
- Samsung EVO Select (128GB) microSDXC card - UHS-I, U3, Class 10 for $18.49 at Amazon (normally $20).
- Samsung EVO Select (512GB) microSDXC card - UHS-I, U3, Class 10 for $79.99 at Amazon (normally $88).
- Twelve South BookArc vertical desktop stand for MacBooks for $44.20 at Amazon (normally $60).
- LectroFan Classic white noise machine for $32.17 at Amazon (normally $41).
- Anker PowerLine II (6ft, MFi certified) USB-C to Lightning cable for $9.99 at Amazon (clip $2 coupon and use code: ANKERCTL - normally $17).
- Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C hub - 85W USB-C PD, USB-C, 2x USB 3.0, microSD, SD, HDMI ([email protected]) for $25.49 at Amazon (normally $38).
- Anker PowerCore Slim 10000 PD portable battery - 18W USB-C PD, USB-A, 10,000mAh for $21.99 at Amazon (clip $8 coupon - normally $30).
- Anker PowerCore Essential 20000 PD portable battery - 18W USB-C PD, USB-A, 20,000mAh for $34.99 at Amazon (clip $15 coupon - normally $50).
- Anker PowerPort Cube USB power strip - 3x AC, 3x USB-A for $16.14 at Amazon (normally $20).
- Anker PowerStrip Pad USB power strip - 2x AC, 30W USB-C PD, 2x USB-A for $31.99 at Amazon (clip 20% coupon - normally
- Vava VA-UC006 9-in-1 USB-C hub - 49W USB-C PD, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI ([email protected]), SD, microSD, 3.5mm, Ethernet for $49.99 at Amazon (clip $10 coupon - normally $60).
- Aukey Omnia PA-B3 USB-C wall charger - 65W total, 65W USB-C PD, USB-A, GaN for $25.48 at Amazon (normally $38).
- Prime only: Aukey PA-D1 USB-C wall charger - 30W total, 30W USB-C PD, USB-A for $15.29 at Amazon (clip 15% coupon - normally $20).
- Aukey PA-D4 USB-C wall charger - 60W USB-C PD, GaN for $14.29 at Amazon (clip 20% coupon and use code: N326FEYW - normally $26).
Senior space officials met to “war game” Biden administration space policy - Ars Technica
This is one of the first gatherings of people who might craft a Biden space plan.
Enlarge/ US Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a public memorial service for former astronaut and US Senator John Glenn at Ohio State University on December 17, 2016. 24 with 21 posters participating, including story author On Tuesday about a dozen space officials met virtually to simulate how a National Space Council might operate during a Joe Biden administration, should the Democratic Party nominee win the 2020 presidential election. The American Foreign Policy Council convened what it characterized as a "closed-door" and "scenario-based simulation" to understand how the Biden administration would think through important space events. Invitations were sent to officials in the aerospace industry whom the Biden administration might call upon as advisers or to fill key leadership roles. The event was not organized at the behest of the Biden campaign. Invitations from the non-profit organization to would-be participants explained that they would be assigned various roles to play, such as NASA administrator and the head of other agencies such as the Department of Defense and Department of Commerce. The participants would then act as a "National Space Council" to war-game scenarios. "The simulation moderator will provide anticipatable year-by-year headlines, and members of the National Space Council will roleplay and discuss how they would react in each situation," the invitation stated. "We are hoping to field about 12 individuals with expertise across the space enterprise who could convincingly role-play interests and responses, and develop ideas for anticipatory policy under a democratic administration and individuals likely to be part of the brain trust of such an administration." The meeting was not public and was conducted under the Chatham House Rule, so two sources familiar with what happened declined to provide specifics. "It was a great group of people, well executed, with a view to possible future scenarios that might arise in an upcoming administration," said one source. "It was a healthy, serious dialog that was respectful and well done." About a dozen officials participated. Attendees included two former astronauts, Charlie Bolden and Pam Melroy, who have worked in space policy since their retirements. Bolden was NASA administrator under President Obama. Also participating were two former senior NASA officialsMike French, chief of staff under Bolden, and Doug Loverro, a chief of human spaceflight for the Trump administration. Loverro was forced to step down in February and is now under investigation for improper contact with Boeing. The meeting also had participation from industry, including entrepreneur Rick Tumlinson and Marc Berkowitz of Lockheed Martin. Although some of the meeting's participants may be involved in a future Biden administration, sources say there are no formal advisers yet to the campaign specifically for space. It is expected that such a group would only be named after the election, should Biden win, to help lead his transition team on space-related issues.
PS5 will use downloadable updates to control game-by-game fan speed - Ars Technica
Plus more on the system's massive chassis, liquid gallium thermal solution.
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- The PlayStation 5 comes with everything seen here. Some assembly required. Batteries not included. From Sony!
- The entire rear of the system is pretty much one big air vent.
- The stand at the base of the (vertical) system is attached with a single large screw.
- The stand and the screw sit alone.
- In horizontal orientation, the stand snaps into place without tools.
- The white panels on the sides of the system can be slid off without tools.
- The cooling fan draws air from both sides of the system.
- The massive cooling fan itself.
- One of two "dust catcher" holes that should be easy to vacuum out after extended use.
- This panel for PCIe storage expansion can be opened with a screwdriver.
- The PS5's Ultra HD Blu-ray drive and an insulating layer that Sony says reduces noise and vibration from spinning discs.
- One side of the motherboard, featuring the CPU...
- And the other, featuring a ring of RAM chips near the center.
- Sony says it tested the PS5's liquid metal heating conductor for two years before putting it in the system.
- Sony says this heat sink uses a pipe with a "shape and airflow [that] make it possible to achieve the same performance as a vapor chamber."
- The PS5's 350W power supply is a big boy.
- Otori says "there is no difference in cooling performance between vertical and horizontal installation," in case you were worried.
- The PS5's 350W power supply is built with slits in the front and rear, to allow direct air flow from the system's cooling fan.
- The optical drive, on the other hand, is completely sealed in a layer of double insulation that "functions as a suspension and absorbs vibration from the optical drive module."
Seven countries join NASA to explore the Moon peacefully, transparently - Ars Technica
“The law right now prohibits us from engaging China on bilateral activities.”
Enlarge/ NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks during a State of NASA address on Feb. 10, 2020. 59 with 40 posters participating NASA appears to be making good progress in building international support for a plan to return humans to the Moon in the 2020s. On Tuesday, during the virtual meeting of the International Astronautical Foundation, the space agency signed "accords" with seven other countries that will establish norms for cooperation among nations to explore the Moon, Mars, and other destinations in the Solar System. Signing the Artemis Accords alongside the United States were Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Essentially, partner nations agreed to 10 basic norms as part of their space activities, such as operating transparently and releasing scientific data. "I want it to be really clear that this is the beginning," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, during a teleconference with reporters. "There are many other nations that are not only interested in the Artemis Accords but anxious to sign them. But countries all around the world have to go through their own interagency processes to be able to sign on to the accords." NASA has done well to get so many countries on board so soon. NASA only first published its proposed language for these agreements in May. At the time, the agency's associate administrator who led these negotiations, Mike Gold, told Ars that he hoped to have at least one signatory by the end of this year. It's October, and he has found seven partners already. Bridenstine said the accords are based on the Outer Space Treaty, which forms the basis of international space law, and said the goal is to establish a framework by which the agreements can be enforced. That is, if nations want to participate in a NASA-led program of human exploration into deep space they have to agree to do things like mitigate orbital debris. "If one of the participants chooses to disregard the guidance of the other participants, I guess ultimately they could be asked to leave the Artemis Program," he said. "But I would hope that they would come to a better resolution than that." NASA is still working out the details of which countries will participate, and how, in its plans to return humans to the Moon by as early as 2024. Some countries have already pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to support these initiatives. Japan has talked about delivering cargo to the Moon with an upgraded version of its new H3 rocket, and Italy may build pressure vessels for lunar surface habitats. In return, their astronauts may get seats on future lunar missions. One country that has publicly resisted participation in the accords is Russia, a nation that NASA has worked with for nearly 50 years in space and upon whom the United States relied until recently to get its astronauts to the International Space Station. During the virtual meeting on Monday, the head of Russia's space corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, complained that the Artemis Program is too "US-centric." This mirrors his past criticism of the planin contrast to other members of the International Space Station partnership. "The most important thing here would be to base this program on the principles of international cooperation that weve all used to fly the ISS," Rogozin said.
- This gallery highlights each tenet of the Artemis Program. First up: Peaceful Purposes.
- Release of scientific data.
- Deconfliction of activities.
- Orbital debris and spacecraft disposal.
RIP to Crucible, Amazon Games' first PC shooter: 2020-2020 - Ars Technica
Server shutdown set for November 9; game will live after servers go dark.
Enlarge/ We've previously put these Amazon Games mascots behind prison bars; now, they're in flames. RIP, Crucible. We hardly knew ye. 14 with 12 posters participating As it turns out, Amazon's idea of a Crucible couldn't handle the intense heat and pressure of the games industry. After launching in May of this year, Crucible, Amazon Games' first large-scale shooter title for PC, will stop receiving updates and matchmaking support on November 9, the studio announced on Friday (at the exact end-of-week hour that bad game-news stories are typically sent to pasture). The company is taking the extreme measure of offering a "full refund" for any purchases made during the free-to-play game's lifespan, and it's directing customers to make refund requests through either Steam Support or Amazon's own contact form, depending on where purchases were originally made. This followed the game's formal delisting from Steam in July, which followed painfully low concurrent player counts (as low as 200) that made it difficult for players to successfully matchmake with each other. Though the game launched with considerable attention, including a promotional blitz on the Amazon-owned game-streaming platform Twitch, it only briefly maintained a player population exceeding 10,000 users. According to Amazon, the game's July delisting was meant to let the developers test and implement a "roadmap" of future content and fixes, and this included features that were woefully missing from its retail launch. As an "action-MOBA" game (think League of Legends or Dota 2, mixed with shooter mechanics), Crucible failed to clarify key information to players in terms of where they might find teammates and objectives on the massive map, and it launched without anything in the way of player communication options (meaning, no text or voice chat, nor a visual "pinging" system).On top of those issues, the game launched with three significantly different gameplay modes, which stretched the issue of character balancing all over the place. One of Amazon Games' first big changes before the Steam delisting was to focus its matchmaking to a single gameplay mode, but the damage had already been done. In a Friday post titled "Final Crucible developer update," the game's devs placed the blame on two factors: "the feedback weve heard from you, paired with the data weve collected." But the letter doesn't explain what that data spelled outwhich was likely scant data, gathered from whatever miniscule playerbase remained after the Steam delisting. We'd been keeping an eye on Crucible's Steam updates and saw the developers continue to post detailed patch notes, which we thought might be paid forward by an official "relaunch" at a later date. Weirdly, Amazon Games has promised to continue patching and touching up the game in its 30-day end-of-life period before shutting down development and "transitioning" its staff to the upcoming MMORPG New World (which received its own delay from this fall into 2021) and "other upcoming projects." Once the game's matchmaking service is shut down on November 9, its client will continue to support "custom" peer-to-peer matchmakingwhich we seriously appreciate at Ars, as opposed to making a game die with its serversand the staff will host a last-hurrah matchmaking frenzy with fans before that November 9 date.Friday's news follows this week's Amazon Games report at Wired (full disclosure: Conde Nast is the parent company of both Wired and Ars Technica), in which staff writer Cecilia D'Anastasio follows the ups and downs of nearly a decade of game development within the company, based on insider accounts. That included the story of Crucible's considerable six-year development journey (reportedly hampered by Amazon management's insistence on using its hacked-together Lumberyard rendering engine), along with claims that the game nearly launched in 2018. Though developers wanted to launch it while "battle royale" fever was peaking, executives reportedly feared launching anything short of "a billion-dollar product."