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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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Telecom Service Providers to start 5G trials in different locations across India

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NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India, approved today, permissions to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) for conducting trials for use and applications of 5G technology. The applicant TSPs include Bharti Airtel Ltd., Reliance JioInfocomm Ltd., Vodafone Idea Ltd. and MTNL.

These TSPs have tied up with original equipment manufacturers and technology providers which are Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance JioInfocomm Ltd. will also be conducting trials using its own indigenous technology.

The permissions have been given by DoT as per the priorities and technology partners identified by TSPs themselves. The experimental spectrum is being given in various bands which include the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), millimeter wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz) and in Sub-Gigahertz band (700 GHz). TSPs will also be permitted to use their existing spectrum owned by them (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz) for conduct of 5G trials.

The duration of the trials, at present, is for a period of 6 months. This includes a time period of 2 months for procurement and setting up of the equipment.

The permission letters specify that each TSP will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also in addition to urban settings so that the benefit of 5G Technology proliferates across the country and is not confined only tourban areas.

The TSPs are encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G Technology. It will be recalled that International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has also approved the 5Gi technology, which was advocated by India, as it facilitates much larger reach of the 5G towers and Radio networks.The 5Gi technology has been developed by IIT Madras, Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT) and IIT Hyderabad.

The objectives of conducting 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in the Indian context; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment andvendors; testing of indigenous technology; testing of applications (such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented/ virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring, etc.);and to test 5G phones and devices.

5G technology is expected to deliver improved user experience in terms of data download rates (expected to be 10 times that of 4G), up to three times greater spectrum efficiency, and ultra low latency to enable Industry 4.0. Applications are across a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, education, health, transport, traffic management, smart cities, smart homes, and multiple applications of IOT (Internet of Things).

DoT has specified that the trials will be isolated and not connected with the existing networks of TSPs. Trials will be on non-commercial basis.

The data generated during the trials shall be stored in India. TSPs are also expected to facilitate the testing of the indigenously developed use cases and equipment as part of the trials. One hundred applications/ use cases selected by DoT after conducting the recent Hackathon on 5G applications can also be facilitated in these trials.

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OPPO India launches its e-store in India

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NEW DELHI: OPPO, a leading global smart device brand, is all set to offer a premium shopping experience to its users through the launch of its e-store in India on 7th May.

With COVID-19 fast-forwarding consumers’ retail experience today, the OPPO-owned online store will allow customers and tech enthusiasts to shop for any of their favorite products just with a click of a button! sitting right from the comfort of their homes.

This step will ensure more convenience while allowing users to have access to the latest brand offerings. A one-stop shop for all innovative and latest OPPO offerings, customers will be able to avail all exciting offers accessible on the e-store.

The OPPO e-store will be shipping OPPO products to technology enthusiasts across all parts of the country while offering a seamless buying experience to customers.

Commenting on the announcement, OPPO India CMO, Damyant Singh Khanoria said, “The launch of the OPPO e-store is a big leap in increasing our omni chanel retail presence. We’re focusing on further strengthening our online and offline presence equally. This platform will empower users to stay connected in these difficult times by enabling access to innovative technology from the comfort of their homes”

OPPO has already built a robust network of retailers and distributors in the country. With 60,000 sales points and 180 retail outlets, the brand only aims to strengthen customer experience & showcase the unmatched power of its innovative products which meet and exceed customer expectations today.

With the brand’s philosophy of ‘Technology for Mankind. Kindness for the world’, making consumer’s life better through innovations and industry-first technology is of paramount importance for OPPO. This has led to the continued success of the brand. According to latest research report of Counterpoint, in January 2021 OPPO has risen through the ranks to become the number one smartphone brand in China.

 

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Nokia, Chunghwa Telecom accelerate 5G expansion in Taiwan

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NEW DELHI: Nokia has today announced that it has been chosen by Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) to expand the operator’s 5G network in Taiwan.

The deal aims to support CHT’s objective of achieving 80 percent population coverage as well as boost 5G subscriptions to over 20 percent of its current subscriber base.

The expansion will leverage products from Nokia’s AirScale portfolio to deliver enhanced connectivity for people and businesses in the southern and central areas of the country.

The expansion, which supports Chunghwa Telecom’s primary business objective to accelerate 5G rollout this year, focuses on high traffic areas, as well as locations with high business demand, including metropolitan cities, universities, subways, high-speed rail stations, industrial parks, and exhibition halls, and over 120 highly populated tourist hotspots. CHT is also looking to further expand its enterprise footprint by enhancing its 4G/5G coverage as well as deploying private network solutions.

The network will also be designed specifically to leverage Nokia’s competitive 5G radio solutions to support enterprise use cases. CHT will strengthen its cooperation with leading local manufacturers for industrial 4.0 applications using solutions in 3.5GHz and 28GHz spectrum to meet the high throughput requirements.

The deal includes the deployment of products from Nokia’s AirScale portfolio, including AirScale base stations and AirScale radio access products. These will include industry-leading Massive MIMO radios, enabling CHT to boost the capacity of the existing spectrum and increase throughput. Nokia’s AirScale products offer huge capacity scaling and market-leading latency and connectivity, as well as supporting current and future technology trends, including network slicing and Cloud RAN.

In addition, Nokia will continue its long-term vendor partnership with Chunghwa Telecom with ongoing support for 5G coverage enhancement, enterprise entry and enhancement, network optimization and Cloud RAN transformation.

Dr. Alex C.C. Chien, President of Mobile Business Group, Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd. said: “Supporting our enterprise and individual customers through advanced 5G services is an important focus for Chunghwa Telecom. We are committed to retaining our position as the number one mobile operator in Taiwan by delivering new and innovative services for our customers. Nokia continues to be a trustworthy and hard-working partner for Chunghwa Telecom throughout our journey.”

Mark Atkinson, SVP, Radio Access Networks PLM at Nokia at Nokia, said: “The Taiwan mobile market is highly competitive, driven by an expectation for innovative and high-quality services demanded by subscribers. Next-generation networks are enabling the types of immersive and productivity-driven mobile services that Taiwanese people expect, so we are excited to support Chunghwa Telecom by expanding its 5G network.”

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