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‘NASA rules,’ Elon Musk says as SpaceX wins $2.9 billion moon lander contract

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By Raphael Satter Hyunjoo Jin, and Munsif Vengattil

NASA awarded billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the moon as early as 2024, the agency said on Friday, picking it over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc.

Bezos and Musk – the world’s first and third richest people respectively, according to Forbes – were competing to lead humankind’s return to the moon for the first time sine 1972.

Musk’s SpaceX bid alone while Amazon.com (AMZN.O) founder Bezos’s Blue Origin partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) and Draper. Dynetics is a unit of Leidos Holdings Inc.(LDOS.N)

“NASA Rules!!” Musk wrote on Twitter after the announcement.

he U.S. space agency awarded the contract for the first commercial human lander, part of its Artemis program. NASA said the lander will carry two American astronauts to the lunar surface.

“We should accomplish the next landing as soon as possible,” Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, said during the video conference announcement.

“If they hit their milestones, we have a shot at 2024,” Jurczyk added.

NASA said SpaceX’s Starship includes a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moon walks and that its architecture is intended to evolve to a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and other destinations in space.

SpaceX also responded on Twitter, writing, “We are humbled to help @NASAArtemis usher in a new era of human space exploration.”

Unlike the Apollo landings from 1969 to 1972 – the only human visits to the moon’s surface – NASA is gearing up for a longer-term lunar presence that it envisions as a steppingstone to an even more ambitious plan to send astronauts to Mars. NASA is leaning heavily on private companies built around shared visions for space exploration.

SpaceX will be required to make a test flight of the lander to the moon before humans make the journey, NASA official Lisa Watson-Morgan told reporters.

NASA had been expected to winnow the lunar lander contest to two companies by the end of April, but instead it picked only SpaceX, a move that deepens their cooperation. On Thursday, NASA said it would send its crew to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket on April 22.

The agency aims to create regular service to the moon and said it will have a separate competition for that contract.

“We have to be able to provide for recurring lunar services,” said Mark Kirasich, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems division.

The announcement added to an extraordinary run for Musk, who has turned electric car maker Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) into the world’s most-valuable automaker, with a market capitalization of $702 billion.

Musk has become a one-person technology conglomerate, launching or controlling companies pursuing space flight, electric cars, neural implants and subterranean tunnel boring.

A factor in the choice of SpaceX was “what’s the best value to the government,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

NASA said in a news release that SpaceX’s HLS Starship, designed to land on the moon, “leans on the company’s tested Raptor engines and flight heritage of the Falcon and Dragon vehicles.”

NASA’s decision was a setback for Bezos, a lifelong space enthusiast who is now more focused on his space venture after having announced in February he would step down as Amazon CEO.

The contract was seen by Bezos and other executives as vital to Blue Origin establishing itself as a desired partner for NASA, and also putting the venture on the road to turning a profit.

Musk has outlined an ambitious agenda for SpaceX and its reusable rockets, including landing humans on Mars. But in the near term, SpaceX’s main business has been launching satellites for Musk’s Starlink internet venture, and other satellites and space cargo. SpaceX announced on Wednesday it had raised about $1.16 billion in equity financing. read more

An uncrewed SpaceX Starship prototype rocket failed to land safely on March 30 after a test launch from Boca Chica, Texas. The Starship was one in a series of prototypes for the heavy-lift rocket being developed by SpaceX to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars. A first orbital Starship flight is planned for year’s end.

Source: Reuters

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5g

Vi showcases 5G

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NEW DELHI: Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), leading telecom operator, today demonstrated a range of 5G-based technology solutions as part of its ongoing 5G trials on government allocated 5G spectrum in Pune, Maharashtra and Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

According to Ravinder Takkar, MD & CEO, Vodafone Idea Limited, “With our 5G trials underway, Vi is preparing to take India on the next journey of fifth generation wireless mobile communication technology. Our 5G trials showcase a whole new world of possibilities across various domains that promise a new era of technology advancement in India. I am confident that 5G will bring a better tomorrow that will deliver significant benefits to consumers, businesses and society, driving digital economy growth in India.”

With the purpose for a better tomorrow, Vi has been conducting 5G trials and developed a wide range of use cases relevant for Enterprises and Consumers in India. Vi has partnered with industry leaders like L&T Smart World & Communication, Athonet, Indian start-ups like Vizzbee & Tweek Labs, and technology leaders – Ericsson and Nokia for trialling use cases in the two locations.

Committed to helping its customers thrive and have a better tomorrow, Vi is leveraging the power of 5G technology across segments such as industry 4.0, smart cities, smart healthcare, smart workplace, smart education, smart agriculture, gaming, amongst others. Vi’s trials have proven that high data speed, low latency and reliability of 5G technology, can bring about massive developments by enhancing business performance, revolutionizing customer experience, changing consumer lifestyle and positively impacting people dwelling in remote corners of India.

Vi has been allocated 26 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum in the mmWave band by the DoT, for 5G network trials and use cases. Vi has achieved peak speeds in excess of 1.5 Gbps on 3.5 GHz, more than 4.2 Gbps on 26 GHz and up to 9.8 Gbps on backhaul spectrum of E-bands.

The 5G trial network set up by Vi in Pune, deploys Ericsson Radios and Ericsson Dual Mode Core based on cloud native technology comprising of 5G SA, 5G NSA & LTE packet core functions. All use cases demonstrated in Pune have been developed over Ericsson’s 5G technology solutions.

In Gandhinagar, Vi is using Nokia’s AirScale radio portfolio and Microwave E-band solution for the trial that support enterprises, both large and small and medium businesses with reliable connectivity. Vi use cases in Gandhinagar were demonstrated via a live telecast at the special media preview held in Pune.

 

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Mobile Services

Vi launches new tariff plans for Digital India

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NEW DELHI: Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), India’s leading telecom service provider, has announced the launch of its new tariff plans for prepaid users in India. The new plans will be available starting 25th November 2021.

The new plans will start the process of ARPU improvement and help address the financial stress faced by the industry.

These tariff plans will allow VIL to continue improving India’s Fastest Mobile Network, verified by Ookla®, the global leader in fixed broadband and mobile network testing applications. Vi remains committed to play its role in accelerating the realization of the Digital India vision of the government.

In line with its commitment to providing its customers with simple and convenient products, Vi has curated an optimum range of feature rich plans for both voice and data. Customers can avail their benefits by selecting the plan best suited to their specific needs.

Users can visit www.myvi.in for more details, starting 25th November, 2021.

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Mobile Services

Airtel announces revised mobile tariffs

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has always maintained that the mobile Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) needs to be at Rs 200 and ultimately at Rs 300, so as to provide a reasonable return on capital that allows for a financially healthy business model.

We also believe that this level of ARPU will enable the substantial investments required in networks and spectrum. Even more important, this will give Airtel the elbow room to roll out 5G in India.

Therefore, as a first step, we are taking the lead in rebalancing our tariffs during the month of November. Accordingly our new tariffs as indicated below will come into effect from November 26, 2021.

Airtel’s New Prepaid Tariffs

Current Price (Rs) Validity New Price (Rs) Benefits
Tariffed Voice Plans
79 28 days 99 50% more talktime of Rs 99, 200MB data

1p/sec voice tariff

Unlimited Voice Bundles
149 28 days 179 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB data
219 28 days 265 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 1 GB/day data
249 28 days 299 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 1.5 GB/day data
298 28 days 359 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB/day data
399 56 days 479 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 1.5 GB/day data
449 56 days 549 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB/day data
379 84 days 455 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 6 GB data
598 84 days 719 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 1.5 GB/day data
698 84 days 839 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB/day data
1498 365 days 1799 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 24 GB data
2498 365 days 2999 Unlimited calling, 100 SMS/day, 2 GB/day data
Data Top-ups
48 Unlimited 58 3 GB data
98 Unlimited 118 12 GB data
251 Unlimited 301 50 GB data
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