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Aug 23, 2020

Pentagon approves five US drone makers ahead of likely ban on China’s DJI

Posted by in categories: drones, government, military, robotics/AI

Ahead of a likely ban on the US federal government’s use of Chinese-made quadcopters, including popular DJI drones, the Department of Defense has approved the products of five US-based unmanned air vehicle (UAV) makers for government use.

Those companies are Altavian, Parrot, Skydio, Teal and Vantage Robotics.

Small UAVs from these manufacturers have been deemed cyber-secure by the Pentagon – not vulnerable to backdoor spying that some suspect might be possible from the video cameras and other sensors attached to Chinese-made DJI drones. The US Congress is considering banning the US federal government from using foreign-made drones as part of its 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

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Aug 23, 2020

SES taps SpaceX for two additional Falcon 9 launches

Posted by in categories: energy, government, satellites

Fleet operator SES on Aug. 20 said it selected SpaceX to launch four recently ordered O3b mPower broadband satellites.

SES’s four-satellite expansion order, announced Aug. 7, further increased its launch needs.

SES has now grouped the satellites into trios for the first three Falcon 9 launches, scheduled for the third quarter of 2021, the first quarter of 2022, and the second half of 2022. The last two satellites are projected to launch in the second half of 2024. Each mission will take place from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Aug 21, 2020

Surviving bacteria in space

Posted by in categories: government, space travel

Research has shown that bacteria are surprisingly resistant organisms, both on Earth and in space, especially when they form ‘biofilms’. The relative isolation of astronaut crews poses a particular challenge to the field of biohazard management and this will only increase for future missions to the Moon and Mars. This article, based on a presentation at the Asgardia Space Science & Investment Congress (ASIC) in Darmstadt, Germany, in October, explains some of the issues and describes the state of play in this research.


The potential of ionising radiation to manage biofilm contamination.

Aug 20, 2020

These drugs carry risks and may not help, but many dementia patients get them anyway

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government

Nearly three-quarters of older adults with dementia have filled prescriptions for medicines that act on their brain and nervous system, but aren’t designed for dementia, a new study shows.

That’s despite the special risks that such drugs carry for older adults—and the lack of evidence that they actually ease the dementia-related behavior problems that often prompt a doctor’s prescription in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. In fact, some of the drugs have been linked to worse cognitive symptoms in old adults.

The study looks at several classes of psychoactive drugs, including ones that the federal government has actively encouraged nursing homes to limit using in residents with dementia. The new study suggests a need to reduce prescribing to people living at home with dementia, too.

Aug 14, 2020

Exclusive: China-backed hackers ‘targeted COVID-19 vaccine firm Moderna’

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cybercrime/malcode, government

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Chinese government-linked hackers targeted biotech company Moderna Inc, a U.S.-based coronavirus vaccine research developer, this year in a bid to steal data, according to a U.S. security official tracking Chinese hacking.

China on Friday rejected the accusation that hackers linked to it had targeted Moderna.

Last week, the U.S. Justice Department made public an indictment of two Chinese nationals accused of spying on the United States, including three unnamed U.S.-based targets involved in medical research to fight the novel coronavirus.

Aug 12, 2020

Moderna Signs COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Deal with U.S. for $1.525 Billion

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government

As one of the leaders in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna signed a contract worth up to $1.525 billion with the U.S. government to supply 100 million doses of mRNA-1273, the company’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

The agreement also includes incentive payments for hitting a production schedule. Moderna had a previous award of up to $955 million from BARDA for the development of the vaccine to licensure, which brings the U.S. government’s commitment for early access to the vaccine up to $2.48 billion. The U.S. government, as part of Operation Warp Speed, also can acquire another 400 million doses.

As part of this deal, the U.S. government says Americans will receive the vaccine at no cost. It is possible that healthcare professionals will charge for the cost of administering it.

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Aug 12, 2020

SpaceX, ULA win huge defense contracts totaling more than $650 million

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, economics, government, military, satellites

The Space Force’s announcement last week that United Launch Alliance and SpaceX will launch expensive spy satellites and other military payloads brings a long and often fierce battle for government funds to an end — at least for now.

Why it matters: This type of government money — particularly in light of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic — is key for space companies that often work on thin margins.

The state of play: ULA was awarded the bulk of the funds — $337 million — for two missions due to launch in 2022, with SpaceX winning $316 million for one mission launching that year.

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Aug 10, 2020

We have no strategy for tackling the dark side of digital

Posted by in categories: education, ethics, government

The Ogba Educational Clinic is pioneering ethics in Digital technology in Africa.


The federal government’s cyber plan is long on action points but short on any organising principles. This is worrying.

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Aug 10, 2020

SpaceX is building the road to the moon and Mars in Texas

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, government, space travel

It would be fun to die in Mars.


Imagine living in Texas a few decades from now and suddenly being possessed with the desire to visit the moon. Traditionally, the only way such a dream could become reality would be for you to go through the arduous process of becoming a NASA astronaut and then hoping that Congress would fund a back-to-the-moon program.

If SpaceX’s Elon Musk has his way, a new road will be devised to go to the moon — and Mars and beyond. The scrappy, entrepreneurial space launch company is planning to build an offshore spaceport to launch its Starship spacecraft. The rocket ship would not only fly to far distant destinations in space, but to similar offshore spaceports around the world. Travel to Europe and Asia would be cut from many hours to tens of minutes.

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Aug 8, 2020

F-16 pilots to face off against AI in simulated dogfight for DARPA

Posted by in categories: government, information science, robotics/AI

An aerial combat simulation between an F-16 pilot and an artificial intelligence algorithm is part of the government-sponsored “Alpha Dog Trials” on Aug. 20.

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