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Bezos in space: Amazon CEO, brother claim seats on first flight

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Bezos in space: Amazon CEO, brother claim seats on first flight. Just weeks after he formally steps down as CEO of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos plans to blast off into outer space.

The billionaire founder of space firm Blue Origin announced Monday that he would be one of the passengers on the first crewed flight of its New Shepard rocket on July 20. He will be joined by his brother, Mark Bezos.

“Since the time I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos, 57, said in a video announcement posted to Instagram. “On July 20th, I will take that venture with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

The Bezos brothers will be joined by four other passengers, including the victor of a private auction Blue Origin launched in May to raise money for its charity, Club for the Future. The non-profit organization’s mission is to promote science, math, engineering and technology careers.

The auction’s final round will conclude with live bidding on June 12, with the champ joining the Bezos brothers on the trip of a lifetime. The current highest bid stands at $3.2m.

Flight details

Blue Origin has spent the last couple of years putting its rocket and crew container through a progression of 15 test flights to ensure it can safely transport people.

The New Shepard rocket — named after the first American in space, NASA astronaut Alan Shepard — and crew case are designed to carry six people and scientific equipment just beyond an invisible line known as the Karman line, what separates Earth from space.

To get past the Karman line, generally 100km (62 miles) above the Earth, the crew case with passengers on board is launched atop the rocket. The rocket then detaches and lands itself, while the case descends by parachute before touching down in the desert in Texas in the United States.

The company’s most recent test flight, which occurred in April, included preflight astronaut operations in which company executives dressed as astronauts went through tests and procedures then disembarked the vehicle before liftoff.

According to Blue Origin, the exercise was “a verification step for the vehicle and operations before flying astronauts”. The company says it’s now ready to start flying passengers as right on time as July.

Zero-gravity tourism

Passengers will be treated to epic perspectives on space just as the Earth below thanks to the case’s massive windows.

Crew members will spend about 11 minutes in zero gravity, where they can float within the cabin before the craft returns to Earth.

“You see the Earth from space and it changes you,” Bezos said in his video announcement Monday. “It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity.”

Bezos’ participation in the flight could potentially boost the worth of the winning bid for the final seat — or lead to criticism, said Lori Garver, a former deputy administrator for NASA.

“Personal participation in the flight will probably heighten interest,” Garver told Al Jazeera. “But it could tease a backlash over perceived billionaire ‘junkets.'”

Bezos and his rivals, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson, have all said they want to reduce the cost of traveling to space.

But so far, only very wealthy people have been able to afford seats on future flights — or donate them to others.

Billionaire Jared Isaacman used his four seats on SpaceX’s first flight to raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, awarding them to a community college educator from Arizona and a former Air Force missileman from Washington. That flight is set to take off no earlier than mid-September.

Virgin Galactic, which intends to begin flying people in 2022, has announced its very own couple passengers, most recently a payload specialist named Kellie Gerardi.

As a researcher at the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences, Gerardi will blast off sometime next year to conduct research during her flight.

“This is an opportunity to set a precedent for the next generation of researchers,” Gerardi told Al Jazeera. “In the past, only handfuls of humans had access to space. Now platforms like Virgin Galactic will enable researchers and scientists to travel to space with their payloads.”

Battling billionaires

Each space firm has honed its own design to ship passengers.

Virgin Galactic relies on a rocket-powered plane to transport its passengers to suborbital space. Travelers will have generally a similar experience as those with Blue Origin, although the view will be out of smaller windows.

Musk’s SpaceX is arguably the most fruitful of the space tycoon endeavors thus far, as the company has effectively carried three different crews of astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA and has several private astronaut flights already on the books.

SpaceX and Blue Origin are currently battling over a multibillion-dollar contract to design and launch a human landing system as part of NASA’s efforts to return to the moon. The US space agency awarded SpaceX a sole contract worth $2.9bn, but Blue Origin and a third contender, Dynetics, have filed formal protests over the process.

There is no love lost between Bezos and Musk, who openly taunted the Amazon CEO storage space style after SpaceX won the contract.

In addition to the competition between their organizations, Bezos and Branson are locked in a race to be the first tycoon to make the trip themselves, while Musk has expressed easygoing interest in traveling to space.

Branson has said he wants to take a Virgin Galactic flight himself before welcoming passengers on board, and Musk has previously said he wants to go to space one day but still can’t seem to make definitive arrangements to do as such.

In the event that all goes as planned and Bezos flies on July 20, he will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere with bragging rights, too.

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India’s April industrial output jumps to 134.4% because of low-base effect

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India’s industrial production in April jumped pointedly to 134.4 per cent in comparison to the corresponding month a year ago, according to government data released Friday.

The sharp recovery in industrial output is basically because of the low base effect, which is a result of the nationwide lockdown that hit economic activity last year. It may be noted that the factory output, measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), rose 22.4 per cent in March 2021.

In the year-ago period, factory output contracted by a sharp 57.3 per cent because of the strict nationwide lockdown.

The manufacturing sector output registered a growth of 197.1 per cent in April 2021, compared to a contraction of 66 per cent in the year-ago period.

The government has also said that the numbers are not comparable to the figures for the year-ago period because of the impact of the nationwide lockdown last year. It said so because many units reported ‘nil’ production in April 2020.

In the mean time, mining activity observed a growth of 37 per cent in April 2021 compared to a contraction of 26.9 per cent in the corresponding period a year ago. Electricity generation grew 38.1 per cent compared to a de-growth of 22.8 per cent in April 2020.

Capital goods output that signals private investment registered a growth of over 1,000 per cent in comparison to a 92.7 per cent contraction in production in April 2020. The consumer durables output saw the sharpest jump of 1,943 per cent in April 2021 in comparison to a fall of – 96.6 per cent last year.

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China’s highest producer inflation in over 12 years highlights global value pressures

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China’s May factory gate prices rose at their fastest annual pace in over 12 years because of surging commodity prices, highlighting global inflation pressures at a time when policymakers are trying to revitalize COVID-hit growth.

Investors are increasingly worried pandemic-driven stimulus measures could supercharge global inflation and force central banks to tighten policy, potentially curbing the recovery.

China’s producer cost index (PPI) increased 9.0%, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Wednesday, as prices bounced back from last year’s pandemic lows.

The PPI ascend in May – the fastest on-year acquire for any month since September 2008 – was driven by significant cost increases in crude oil, iron ore and non-ferrous metals, the NBS said.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected the PPI to rise 8.5% after a 6.8% increase in April.

Shortly after the inflation data, the National Development and Reform Commission said China will closely monitor value movements of commodities and step up value forecasts to maintain market order.

“The concern is PPI may hover at an elevated level for an extended period of time, which would create economic headaches if mid-or downstream firms fail to absorb higher costs,” said Nie Wen, chief economist at Hwabao Trust.

The PPI surge still can’t seem to substantially feed through to consumer inflation, which means the People’s Bank of China is probably not going to stress for now.

Consumer prices rose 1.3% in May – the biggest year-on-year increase in eight months – but came in below expectations for a 1.6% addition. Consumer inflation remained well below the government’s official target of around 3%.

“Producer value inflation is probably close to a peak…we don’t expect (consumer value inflation) to transcend 2% in the coming quarters. All things considered, (the data) is probably not going to trigger any shift in monetary policy,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.

But there are some signs Chinese factories, facing already tight edges, are giving higher raw material costs to overseas clients, which could reinforce the global inflation loop.

The release comes as U.S. inflation data on Thursday is being closely watched by investors, who stress another high reading might put pressure on the Federal Reserve to start thinking about tapering its stimulus.

Chinese coal and resource shares rose after the NBS’s producer value inflation data, driving the broader stock market higher.

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Bitcoin sinks after Colonial Pipeline ransom recovery

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Bitcoin sinks after Colonial Pipeline ransom recovery. Bitcoin slumped to a two-week low, with analysts pointing to a technical breakdown just as the recovery of Colonial Pipeline Co’s. ransom as evidence that crypto isn’t beyond government control.

The largest token tumbled as much as 9.9% to $31,036 in New York trading. The wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index fell as much as 15%, with altcoins, for example, Ether, Litecoin and EOS dropping more.

The fact that investigators “could trace the untraceable and hold onto it might be undermining the libertarian, free-of-government-control case,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda. The implications of that may have provoked the selling, he said.

The U.S. recovered almost all the Bitcoin ransom paid to the perpetrators of the cyber attack on Colonial last month in a sign that law enforcement is capable of seeking after online criminals in any event, when they operate outside the nation’s borders.

The FBI had the option to discover the Bitcoin by uncovering the digital addresses the hackers used to transfer the funds, according to an eight-page seizure warrant released by the Justice Department on Monday.

While the FBI’s ability to track and recoup the crytocurrency may go against the anti-establishment ethos that led to the development of Bitcoin, it can also been seen as a positive sign for the sector as it seeks broader mainstream acceptance.

To Bloomberg Intelligence’s Mike McGlone, Tuesday’s decline is “linked to fears of the Feds holding onto people’s Bitcoins,” he said. Simultaneously, “we’ve been in a down-stage for a month now and this is part of it. It’s a continuation of the latest downtrend and this is the latest spark. I thought Bitcoin would be up today on the Colonial news so I’m befuddled.”

In the interim, strategists are also watching key technical levels for the cryptocurrency.

On the off chance that Bitcoin doesn’t continue creating higher lows, it could retest $30,000, which it briefly touched last month during a brutal selloff. Assuming the coin breaches that round-number level, another wave of selling could follow given the lack of technical support between $20,000 and $30,000. In any case, Bitcoin’s 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) is approaching the oversold level, currently at 32, indicating the coin may discover some reprieve.

On the off chance that the coin continues to decline and $31,000 and $30,000 are taken out, it could retrace its entire breakout from $20,000 and fall back to that level, according to Tallbacken CEO Michael Purves. “This type of ’round trip’ would not be unusual for an asset (or a stock) which put in an exponential rally,” he wrote in a note, adding that something comparable happened after its 2017 rally.

Other market-watchers agree. “The significant price support stands at the $30K level, and a slide below this handle could run into stops and accelerate the auction in the short run,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote.

Oanda’s Halley also says that a break below $30,000 could lead to “another capitulation.” Evercore ISI’s Rich Ross sees a test of support around $29,000.

Bitcoin is still up 9% this year but the token has plunged from a pinnacle of almost $65,000 in mid-April, casting a pall over the cryptocurrency sector. The recent selloff was exacerbated by billionaire Elon Musk’s public rebuke of the amount of energy used by the workers underpinning the token. Unforgiving Chinese regulatory oversight also soured the mood.

“You had this phenomenon where Bitcoin got extended, but nothing goes up in a straight line,” said Dan Russo, portfolio manager at Potomac Fund Management. “That’s something to be expected — you’ve seen throughout its short history these bouts of deep drawdowns. It just got extended to the upside and started to roll over.”

The virtual currency — which has more than tripled over the past year — is now in a “cooling off period” that could last “a couple of months” longer, said Vijay Ayyar, head of Asia-Pacific at crypto exchange Luno Pte.

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