SpaceX’s Starship could help this start-up beam clean energy from space. Here’s how (video)

LONDON — SpaceX’s Starship will be a game changer for space-based solar power generation and will make orbiting power plants not only affordable, but cheaper than many other methods of generating electricity on Earth, according to Michigan-based start-up Virtus Solis. 

Virtus Solis, founded by former SpaceX rocket engineer John Bucknell, introduced their solar power beaming concept at the International Conference on Energy from Space held in London on Wednesday, April 17. 

"For space-based solar power to work, you need to have heavy-lift launch, you need to have wireless power transfer and you need to have the economics," Bucknell said at the conference. "Once you have low-cost access to space, that’s one less miracle that you need to have solved."

Related: Space-based solar power may be one step closer to reality, thanks to this key test (video)

An illustration of a SpaceX Starship deploying several orbital manufacturing satellites in space. (Image credit: Victus Solis)

The cost of launching satellites to space has plummeted in recent years thanks to the advent of reusable rockets pioneered by SpaceX. The company currently charges under $3,000 per kilogram of payload, but that’s still too much for space-based solar power generation, which will require enormous orbiting arrays larger than the world’s largest currently orbiting object, the International Space Station

SpaceX promises that once Starship is fully up and running, it will cost as little as $10 per kilogram to loft satellites to space. Although that estimate might be a little too optimistic, Bucknell says that once the cost of launch into low Earth orbit falls below $200 per kilogram, space-based solar power will become cheaper than Earth-based nuclear plants or gas and coal-fired power stations.

"Once Starship is fully reusable, that will drive down the cost," said Bucknell. "SpaceX has recently flown a Falcon 9 booster for the 20th time and they are recertifying for 40 launches. Conceivably, Starship could do hundreds of launches. But we are basing our assumptions on a 15-times use."

Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!

Currently, Earth-based photovoltaic panels provide the cheapest source of electricity at less than $30 per megawatt-hour. But the sun doesn’t shine at night, and energy experts struggle to make up for that daily drop with other renewable sources. So far, nuclear, gas and coal-fired plants need to be on standby to cover the demand after dark or in bad weather. But gas and coal need to be phased out for the world to meet its emission reduction goals

And nuclear power, Bucknell said, is much more expensive. "The cost of nuclear power is between $150 and $200 per megawatt hour," said Bucknell. "We think that our system could get down to around $30 per megawatt hour once at scale."

Virtus Solis wants to build giant photovoltaic arrays up to 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) across that would be assembled in orbit by robots from 5.3-foot (1.6 meters) wide modules. Hundreds of such modules would be delivered by a single Starship into the Molniya orbit, a highly elliptical orbit with the closest point about 500 miles (800 km) above Earth and the farthest at 22,000 miles (35,000 km). 

An illustration of the Molniya orbit. (Image credit: NASA Earth observatory)

A satellite in this orbit takes 12 hours to complete one lap around the planet, but the nature of this orbit is such that the spacecraft stays for more than 11 hours in the most distant region from where it can view nearly an entire hemisphere. 

A constellation of two or more such arrays would therefore provide constant "baseload power" to a region, said Bucknell. A system of 16 arrays would cover the entire world, beaming energy in the form of microwaves to giant receiving antennas on the ground. 

A still from a Victus Solis promotional video showing an in-space manufacturing spacecraft maneuvering a solar power element into place in a large array. (Image credit: Victus Solis)

Bucknell said the company is now working on improving the efficiency of wireless power transmission, which is another major stumbling block for space-based solar power. Current systems have efficiencies of around 5 percent but for practical use, efficiencies of around 20 percent will be needed. 

In February, Virtus Solis announced plans to launch a demonstration power-beaming satellite in 2027 that would test in-space assembly of solar panels and transmit more than one kilowatt of power to Earth, according to Space News. The firm hopes to build a commercial megawatt-class solar installation by 2030.  

via Space

April 30, 2024 at 05:04AM

Young Sheldon Meets Old Sheldon in Fun Behind The Scene Video

Young Sheldon Meets Old Sheldon

The Young Sheldon channel on TikTok just dropped a delightful behind-the-scenes video that’s got everyone buzzing! In a surprise twist, young Sheldon, portrayed by the talented Iain Armitage, meets his older self, played by none other than Jim Parsons, in a playful crossover tease between the two shows.

@youngsheldoncbs Yeah, we’re finally on TikTok bc we heard about these great filters… #YoungSheldon #filters #BigBangTheory #JimParsons @Iain Armitage ? original sound – Young Sheldon

Yeah, we’re finally on TikTok bc we heard about these great filters…


This sneak peek is more than just a fun moment—it’s also a glimpse into the upcoming series finale of Young Sheldon, where Jim Parsons will reprise his role as adult Sheldon, bringing closure to his character’s journey. But that’s not all! Mayim Bialik is also set to make an appearance, sparking speculation about a potential mini-reunion from The Big Bang Theory universe.

I really like how the transition between the two versions of the character is staged as if young Sheldon used a Tiktok filter to see how he would look when he got older! It even changed his voice, which he does not appreciate at all.

Click This Link for the Full Post > Young Sheldon Meets Old Sheldon in Fun Behind The Scene Video

via [Geeks Are Sexy] Technology News

April 30, 2024 at 08:57AM

Boston Dynamics Unveils Sparkles the Cute and Fuzzy Robotic Dog #InternationalDanceDay

Yesterday, for #InternationalDanceDay, Boston Dynamics unveiled a delightful surprise! Meet Sparkles, the adorable and fuzzy robotic dog designed to steal your heart with its moves. Sparkles isn’t your average robotic companion; it’s a custom costume crafted exclusively for Spot, blurring the lines between robotics, art, and entertainment. As Spot and Sparkles groove together, they showcase a creative side of technology, proving that innovation can be as delightful as it is cutting-edge. Watch below!

Click This Link for the Full Post > Boston Dynamics Unveils Sparkles the Cute and Fuzzy Robotic Dog #InternationalDanceDay

via [Geeks Are Sexy] Technology News

April 30, 2024 at 08:57AM

Electric Vehicle Fast Chargers Are Catching Up to Gas Stations in California

Despite dedicating years of innovation and research toward convincing consumers to buy electric vehicles, automakers are still grappling with a lack of charging infrastructure across the United States. But California — a leader in EVs — says that isn’t too much of a problem for its residents.

The TikTok Ban is Law. What Now?

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that there is now one EV charging station for every five gas stations in the state, which is home to more than 39 million people. There are now 105,000 public or shared private electric charging stations in California and 500,000 at-home chargers. California has also approved a $1.9 billion investment plan to help deploy 40,000 additional EV chargers across the state. California had already put $1.8 billion into efforts to improve its zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure.

“California dominates in this space,” Newsom said Friday in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We want to maintain that leadership — maintain that dominance — as we transition from dirty tailpipes to a low-carbon, green growth future.”

A lack of easy access to charging is one of the most commonly cited obstacles to growing EV sales. Everyone from Ford Motor Co.’s CEO to the U.S. secretary of energy has run into issues finding an electric charger. And even if you can find a charger during a road trip, JD Power has found that 1 in 5 attempts to use a public EV charger fail.

A lack of access could be a major wrinkle in California’s plan to phase out the sale of new gasoline-only cars by 2035. The process will start in 2026, with a new mandate that requires 35% of all news cars sold to be electric or plug-in hybrid cars.

More than 1.84 million ZEVs have been sold in California to date, according to the governor’s office. More than a third of all ZEVs sold in the U.S. are sold in California. If California seceded from the U.S. and became its own country, it would be the fourth-largest seller of EVs worldwide, behind Germany, the U.S., and China.

As part of the push from carmakers to expand EV charging access for their customers, every major Western automaker has made deals to adopt Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS). Exact amounts vary, but those companies’ customers will gain access to more than 15,000 Tesla Superchargers across North America under their respective deals.

“This move will improve the public charging experience by giving our customers even more choice and is a vital part of our growth as an EV brand,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a statement earlier this year after his customers gained access to Tesla’s chargers. Ford was the first major automaker to sign a deal with Tesla.

Seven automakers — including Stellantis, GM, and Mercedes-Benz — have also formed a joint venture to launch the IONNA charging network, which aims to have at least 30,000 charging stations across North America by 2030. Those stations will be compatible with Tesla’s NACS and the Combined Charging System (CCS).

This article originally appeared on Quartz.

via Gizmodo

April 29, 2024 at 12:04PM

DARPA’s New 12-Ton Robot Tank Has Glowing Green Eyes for Some Reason

DARPA announced successful tests of its new autonomous vehicles on Wednesday, all part of the agency’s Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency (RACER) program. And while the tests sound impressive, we found ourselves transfixed by one little visual detail: The 12-ton tank’s glowing green eyes.

The Best Things You Didn’t Know Your Switch Could Do

The RACER Heavy Platform (RHP) vehicles are enormous, weighing in at 12 tons and measuring 20 feet long. The vehicles are programmed using the Textron M5 base system, already used in many driverless vehicles by the U.S. Army, and are meant to complement the RACER Fleet Vehicles (RFVs) which are comparatively small at just 2 tons and 11 feet long.

The vehicle tests, aided by teams from the University of Washington and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, happened at military training sites in Texas back in late 2023, but are just being announced by DARPA today.

Videos from the Texas tests are now available on YouTube, demonstrating the fully autonomous driving of these gigantic vehicles in off-road conditions. And again, we can’t stop staring into the vehicle’s glowing green eyes. They give the entire demonstration an almost Pixaresque feel. Just look at that little face.

RACER Experiment 4 — RACER Heavy Platform (RHP) Highlight Video

DARPA also posted a new video to YouTube showing the smaller RFV tests, which were notable for their adaptability in an autonomous mode. The teams running the tests had no experience in the area, making it as close to fresh for them as possible. The goal, of course, was to see how these types of vehicles could perform in a completely foreign environment.

“Using fully unoccupied RFVs, RACER demonstrated autonomous movement within a 15 square mile terrain area including highly diverse ground vegetation cover, trees, bushes, rocks, slopes, obstructed ditches, and creek crossings typical of the varied, complex Texas terrain familiar to armored maneuver,” DARPA said in its press release.

RACER Experiment 4 – Cockpit view of an autonomous off-road run in TX

DARPA has been working on autonomous vehicles for decades, starting in earnest back in 1983 with the Strategic Computing Initiative. And it’s incredible how far the U.S. military has come. During testing, the Autonomous Land Vehicle of 1985 would get confused with just a little bit of snow on the road. But that kind of obstacle is clearly no issue here in the 2020s.

“Having two radically different types of vehicles helps us advance towards RACER’s goal of platform agnostic autonomy in complex, mission-relevant off-road environments that are significantly more unpredictable than on-road conditions,” Stuart Young, RACER program manager, said on Wednesday.

DARPA didn’t respond to emailed questions about the glowing green eyes, which we still can’t stop staring at. But we’ll update this post if we hear back. Do you know what purpose the green eyes serve? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

via Gizmodo

April 24, 2024 at 11:51AM

Here’s Where to Find Verizon and AT&T Broadband Facts

By April 10, the FCC asked all broadband providers in the US to list broadband facts or labels on their sites that provide easy-to-digest information about their wired and wireless plans. These labels would be used like the nutrition labels on food are, in a way that lets you know the straight-forward details without having to go digging.

T-Mobile made a big announcement last week to let customers know that their “broadband facts” were presented on plan pages and should be easy for everyone to find. I can confirm that their broadband labels are indeed on plan pages and are easy to spot. After opening their unlimited data plans page, a simple click on each plan’s dedicated “Broadband Facts” box expands into a lengthy list of plan pricing, features, data speeds, etc. They are super handy.

For Verizon and AT&T, I’ve been looking off and on for the past week to see if their broadband facts would land on plan pages, which I’d imagine is where the FCC would like them to be placed. As far as I can (still) tell, they are not there. Looking through the overview from the FCC on the new labels (here),  they don’t specify that they want providers to list them on plan pages, only that each plan has a broadband label somewhere online or at point of sale. So of course, I struggled to find them.

Verizon’s Broadband Facts for both consumer and business plans can be found here.

Verizon Broadband Facts

AT&T’s Broadband Facts for wireless and wireline plans can be found here.

ATT Broadband Facts

Each of those sites will ask you to enter an address to get the plans and facts that are available to you. Like T-Mobile’s labels, they provide price for a single line, the charges and fees that will be added to your bill, discounts if you add multiple lines, and speeds depending on network type.

Read the original post: Here’s Where to Find Verizon and AT&T Broadband Facts

via Droid Life: A Droid Community Blog

April 16, 2024 at 05:58PM

Fake Footage of Iran’s Attack on Israel Is Going Viral

In the hours after Iran announced its drone and missile attack on Israel on April 13, fake and misleading posts went viral almost immediately on X. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a nonprofit think-tank, found a number of posts that claimed to reveal the strikes and their impact, but instead used AI-generated videos, photos, and repurposed footage from other conflicts that showed rockets launching into the night, explosions, and even President Joe Biden in military fatigues.

Just 34 of these misleading posts received over 37 million views, according to ISD. Many of the accounts posting the misinformation were also verified, meaning they have paid X $8 per month for the ‘blue tick’ and their content is amplified by the platform’s algorithm. ISD also found that several of the accounts claimed to be open source intelligence (OSINT) experts, which has, in recent years, become another way of giving legitimacy to their posts.

One X post claimed that “WW3 has officially started,” and included a video seeming to show rockets being shot into the night—except the video was actually from a YouTube video posted in 2021. Another post claimed to show the use of the Iron Dome, Israel’s missile defense system, during the attack, but the video was actually from October 2023. Both these posts garnered hundreds of thousands of views in the hours after the strike was announced, and both originated from verified accounts. Iranian media also shared a video of the wildfires in Chile earlier this year, claiming it showed the aftermath of the attacks. This, too, began to circulate on X.

“The fact that so much mis- and disinformation is being spread by accounts looking for clout or financial benefit is giving cover to even more nefarious actors, including Iranian state media outlets who are passing off footage from the Chilean wildfires as damage from Iranian strikes on Israel to claim the operation as a military success,” says Isabelle Frances-Wright, director of technology and society at ISD. “The corrosion of the information landscape is undermining the ability of audiences to distinguish truth from falsehood on a terrible scale.”

X did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.

Though misinformation around conflict and crises has long found a home on social media, X is often also used for vital real-time information. But under Elon Musk’s leadership, the company cut back on content moderation and disinformation has thrived. In the days following the October 7 Hamas attack, X was flooded with disinformation, making it difficult for legitimate OSINT researchers to surface information. Under Musk, X has promoted a crowd-sourced community notes function as a way to combat misinformation on the platform to varying results. Some of the content identified by ISD has since received community notes, though only two posts had by the time the organization published its findings.

“During times of crisis it seems to be a repeating pattern on platforms such as X where premium accounts are inherently tainting the information ecosystem with half truths as well as falsehoods either through misidentified media, or blatantly false imagery suggesting that an event has been caused by a certain actor or state,” says Moustafa Ayad, ISD executive director for Asia, the Middle East and Africa. “This continues to happen and will continue to happen in the future, making it even more difficult to know what is real and what is not.”

And for those that are part of X’s subscription model and ad revenue sharing model, going viral could potentially mean making money.

Though it’s not clear that any of the users spreading fake or misleading information identified by ISD were monetizing their content, a separate report released by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) earlier this month found that between October 7 and February 7, ten influencers, including far-right influencer Jackson Hinkle, were able to grow their followings by posting antisemitic and Islmaphobic content about the conflict. Six of the accounts CCDH examined were part of X’s subscription program, and all ten were verified users. The high-profile influencers part of X’s ad revenue sharing program receive a cut of advertising revenue based on ”organic impressions of ads displayed in replies” to their content, according to the company.

via Wired Top Stories

April 15, 2024 at 12:36PM