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SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket for third time

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(Image: SpaceX)

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 rocket from California carrying 64 small satellites into low orbit around the Earth, which the company called the largest-ever “ride share” mission by a US-based rocket.

The mission, dubbed SSO-A, also marked the third voyage to space for the same Falcon 9 rocket — another milestone for SpaceX’s cost-cutting reusable rocket technology.

The Falcon 9 blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10.34am local time, carrying satellites from 34 different companies, government agencies, and universities.

SpaceX said the mission was “one of the most complex and intricate endeavours” for Seattle-based startup Spaceflight, the ride-share company that arranged passage for each satellite maker.

The mission comes days after India fired a rocket carrying 31 satellites from eight different countries into space.

After the launch, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster returned to earth as planned, landing on a ship off the coast of southern California, according to a live video of the flight.

However, the Falcon 9’s payload fairing — an enclosure that protected the satellites during launch — missed a landing net on the barge and ended up in the ocean.

“Falcon fairing halves missed the net, but touched down softly in the water,” Musk, SpaceX’s chief executive officer, said on Twitter. He said the boat was moving to pick them up.

“Plan is to dry them out & launch again. Nothing wrong with a little swim,” Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla, said on Twitter.

Hitching a ride on the Falcon rocket was a satellite from Australian Internet of Things (IoT) satellite technology startup Myriota, which will be put into a sun-synchronous orbit and add to the company’s existing constellation.

“We are committed to delivering superior satellite connectivity, and today’s launch is a valuable step in developing our direct-to-orbit communications capability,” co-founder and CTO Dr David Haley said.

“New and existing devices using Myriota technology will benefit, and we’re excited to see the impact across a variety of different sectors.”

Last month, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) announced using Myriota technology to trial ocean drifters that report back to base.

The low-cost drifters allow AIMS to receive data in “near-real time”, the agency said in a statement.

“Because they connect to LEO satellites, they avoid issues like coverage dropouts and connectivity issues that come from using traditional mobile phone networks,” AIMS technology development team leader Melanie Olsen said.

According to Myriota, the drifters monitor location, currents, sea surface water temperatures, and barometric pressure, and, in future, AIMS will be able to get oceanographic data every hour.

In November, SpaceX received approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to construct, deploy, and operate in excess of 7,000 satellites at very-low-Earth orbit, which is expected to boost internet connectivity across the globe.

The FCC also granted SpaceX’s request to add the 37.5-42GHz and 47.2-50.2GHz frequency bands to its previously authorised non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) constellation.

The authorisation allows SpaceX to expand its geographic coverage and will give the aerospace startup the green light to support broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users globally.

During the same month, Musk said that there is a 70 percent chance he will go to Mars on the SpaceX Starship and stay there.

“Your probability of dying on Mars is much higher than Earth. Really, the ad for going to Mars would be like the Shackleton’s ad for going to the Antarctic,” he said.

“It’s going to be hard, there’s a good chance of death going on a little can through deep space.”

Starship is the new name for SpaceX’s BFR.

With AAP

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Open Source Rover Project has published the designs and instructions for building a six-wheeled mini Curiosity rover.



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Callaway Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition trounces Ram TRX in a drag race

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American performance vehicle builder Callaway Cars has debuted its newest creation: The Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition, now officially the best sleeper truck on the road. How fast? Hold your breath: This Chevy Silverado has trounced the mighty RAM TRX in a drag race. That’s saying a lot since Ram made it clear the TRX is “the quickest, fastest, and most powerful mass-produced truck in the world.”

But as it turns out, Callaway has other plans. The company has a long and cherished history of building quirky yet high-end performance cars like the C4 Corvette Sledgehammer and C7 Corvette AeroWagen. However, what we really love about the Silverado SC602 is the way it looks.

It may resemble a factory-stock Chevy Silverado from some angles, but there are telltale signs of the truck’s outstanding stoplight-to-stoplight ability. Like those 20 or 22-inch Callaway lightweight wheels, for instance, or the bevy of chrome Callaway exterior badging, including a bold CALLAWAY script on the carbon fiber front grille.

As with any Callaway vehicle, what matters most is hiding under the sheet metal. The SC602 starts life as a Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss, RST, LTZ, or High Country with a standard 6.2-liter V8 motor and four-wheel drive. Next, Callway installs a GenThree Eaton TVS R2650 Supercharger with a TripleCooled intercooler. The blower offers 15-percent more displacement yet requiring 18-percent less power output.

It doesn’t stop there. The truck also gets a high-flow intake, low-restriction stainless steel dual outlet exhausts with quad exhaust tips, and a bespoke Callaway ECU with custom tuning. After all the dirty engine work is complete, the Callaway Silverado SC60’s blown V8 is now pumping out 602 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque.

But wait, the Ram TRX’s Hellcat V8 makes 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, 100 more horses (and 90 more torques) than Callaway’s truck, so how did it trounce the Ram? Two words: weight and tires. The Silverado SC602 tips the scales at only 5,820 pounds (2640 kg), while the Ram TRX weighs around 7,080 (3,211 kg) pounds.

The result is nothing short of astonishing. The SC602 goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.3-seconds, zero to 100 mph in 9.80-seconds, and breaks the quarter-mile in 12.5-seconds @ 113 mph. Meanwhile, the Ram TRX goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.99-seconds, a bit quicker than the Chevy.

But the latter is faster from zero to 100 mph as the Ram needed 10.14 seconds to perform the deed, proof of the Callaway Silverado SC60’s mid to high-range pulling power. And yeah, those sticky performance tires were partly responsible for the Callaway’s drag strip prowess.

What’s more, the Silverado SC602 is 50-state emissions compliant and carries a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty to supplement Chevy’s bumper-to-bumper warranty. Other goodies include aluminum door sills, billet aluminum pedals, an Alcantara-covered horn cover, and ID plaques to let other people know you’re driving the genuine article.

How much? We have no idea. But you can get in touch with Callaway if you fancy the ultimate Ram-beating sleeper truck.

Callaway Chevy Silverado SC602 Signature Edition Gallery

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Ford reveals the custom 2021 Mustang Mach-E to be given away for charity

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Ford has supported various charities for a long time, often donating customized automobiles to be auctioned off. Each year Ford offers a customized car for the AirVenture charity, and typically that car is a Ford Mustang of some sort with a big V8 engine under the hood. This year, the car Ford is donating to the charity is a different kind of Mustang.

Ford has revealed the customized electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E that will be auctioned off this year. The vehicle was built to honor the sacrifices of Women Air Force Service Pilots. The special Mach-E is inspired by the female volunteer pilots and the planes they flew during World War II.

Proceeds from the vehicle auction support the EAA initiative to provide young women and underserved youths more access to careers in the aviation industry. Ford notes that it has worked with AirVenture for more than two decades and has donated 12 custom aviation-themed performance vehicles so far, raising a total of more than $4 million. 2021 marks the first year Ford has donated an electric vehicle.

The custom Mach-E was designed by Ford and has a custom paint scheme with military badging inspired by the warplanes the volunteers flew. Women Air Force Service Pilots flew almost every type of military aircraft in World War II as they rolled off the factory floor after assembly. Ford put badges, including the US Army Air Force star on both sides, wings logos on the hood and fender, and No. 38 on the front fascia, rear bumper, and inside the cabin.

That number represents the 38 volunteers who died serving their country. Women Air Force Service Pilots are a group of American volunteers who transported warplanes to US Army bases worldwide to be used in combat. The female pilots flew more than 60 million miles during the war and weren’t recognized as active military personnel until 1977 when the pilots were granted retroactive military status.

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This Porsche 911 Turbo S pays homage to Mexican driving ace Pedro Rodriguez

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In collaboration with Porsche Latin America, Porsche Mexico, and Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, German automaker Porsche has built a custom 911 Turbo S in memory of the late, great Pedro Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the most successful Mexican racing driver of all time.

He walked away with 11 titles in the World Championship of Makes – now known as the World Endurance Championship – and helped Porsche capture the crown in 1970 and 1971 aboard a Porsche 917 KH in Gulf Oil livery. Rodriguez claimed two Formula Grand Prix wins, four wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans before losing his life in 1971 at the Norising street circuit in Nuremberg, Germany.

Fifty years on after that fateful and deadly crash, Porsche is reliving the glory days with a custom 911 Turbo S ‘One of a Kind’ Pedro Rodriguez. The car debuted at a Sportscar Together Day event at the Centro Alto Rendimineto in Toluca, Mexico, where it drew oohs and ahhs with its custom Gulf attire.

Porsche claims the 911 Turbo S ‘One of a Kind’ Pedro Rodriguez is, well, genuinely one of a kind. “This configuration, with these specific details and equipment, has been locked in the Porsche configurator, as well as in the production system, so that this car is literally unrepeatable,” said Camilo San Martin, Director of Porsche Mexico.

Wearing the iconic Gulf Blue paint with single orange striping, it also has custom high-gloss black wheels, an aluminum center lock, and a black number 2 in a white circle graphic on the doors and front hood. Look closely at the B-pillar and you’ll find a silhouette of the 917 KH race car wearing the colors off the Mexican flag, complete with the name and signature of Pedro Rodriguez.

Other bespoke elements include unique carbon moldings on the lower door frames (which illuminate when the doors are open), Graphite Blue leather seats with orange stitching, and an engraved tribute of the eight races that Rodriguez won aboard the Porsche 917 KH under the rear spoiler.

Also included are a Gulf Blue key fob (with Rodriguez’s signature) and a luggage set wearing the same blue and orange colors. It still has a turbocharged 3.8-liter flat-six pumping out 640 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox under the hood.

The Porsche 911 Turbo S Pedro Rodriguez will hit the auction block later this year. Porsche will donate the auction proceeds to various charities.

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