Solar plane circles globe in first for clean energy

ABU DHABI A solar-powered aircraft successfully completed the first fuel-free flight around the world on Tuesday, returning to Abu Dhabi after an epic 16-month voyage that demonstrated the potential of renewable energy.The plane, Solar Impulse 2, touched down in the United Arab Emirates capital at 0005 GMT (0405 local time) on Tuesday.It first took off from Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015, beginning a journey of about 40,000 km (24,500 miles) and nearly 500 hours of flying time.Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the Swiss founders of the project, took turns piloting the aircraft, which has a wingspan larger than a Boeing 747 but weighs no more than an average family car."More than an achievement in the history of aviation, Solar Impulse has made history in energy," Piccard, who piloted the plane on the last leg, told a large crowd on landing. "I’m sure that within the next 10 years we’ll see electric airplanes carrying 50 passengers on short- to medium-haul flights," he said in a statement.He said the technologies used on Solar Impulse 2 could be used on the ground in daily life to halve emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for climate change.The propeller-driven aircraft's four engines are powered by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells built in the wings. Excess energy is stored in batteries. Unfavorable weather at times hindered smooth flying, causing the plane to be grounded for months in some countries. In all, the plane had 16 stopovers.The pilots also had to demonstrate the mental stamina required to tackle vast distances alone at a cruising speed of no more than 90 km (56 miles) per hour and altitudes of up to 9,000 meters (29,500 feet)."We were facing the oceans... We had to build up this mindset, not just the plane and technology," Piccard told reporters. For the two pilots, landing back where they started is only "the beginning of the continuation" of a longer journey, said Piccard, who in 1999 became the first person to circumnavigate the globe non-stop in a hot air balloon.Aside from continuing to promote renewable energy, they plan to launch an international council to advise governments and develop new applications for clean energy technology. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho, editing by Sami Aboudi and John Stonestreet)

Read more

SpaceX rocket lifts off on cargo run, then lands at launch site

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. An unmanned SpaceX rocket blasted off from Florida early on Monday to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station, then turned around and landed itself back at the launch site.The 23-story-tall Falcon 9 rocket, built and flown by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:45 a.m. EDT (0445 GMT).Perched on top of the rocket was a Dragon capsule filled with nearly 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg) of food, supplies and equipment, including a miniature DNA sequencer, the first to fly in space.Also aboard the capsule was a metal docking ring of diameter 7.8 feet (2.4 m), that will be attached to the station, letting commercial spaceships under development by SpaceX and Boeing Co. ferry astronauts to the station, a $100-billion laboratory that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth. The manned craft are scheduled to begin test flights next year.Since NASA retired its fleet of space shuttles five years ago, the United States has depended on Russia to ferry astronauts to and from the station, at a cost of more than $70 million per person.As the Dragon cargo ship began its two-day journey to the station, the main section of the Falcon 9 booster rocket separated and flew itself back to the ground, touching down a few miles south of its seaside launch pad, accompanied by a pair of sonic booms. "Good launch, good landing, Dragon is on its way," said NASA mission commentator George Diller.Owned and operated by Musk, the technology entrepreneur who founded Tesla Motors Inc, SpaceX is developing rockets that can be refurbished and re-used, potentially slashing launch costs. With Monday’s touchdown, SpaceX has successfully landed Falcon rockets on the ground twice and on an ocean platform during three of its last four attempts.SpaceX intends to launch one of its recovered rockets as early as this autumn, said Hans Koenigsmann, the firm's vice president for mission assurance. (Reporting by Irene Klotz, Editing by Chris Michaud and Clarence Fernandez)

Read more

Google notifies users of 4,000 state-sponsored cyber attacks per month: executive

A senior executive of Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google unit said on Monday that the company was notifying customers of 4,000 state-sponsored cyber attacks per month.Speaking at a Fortune magazine tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, Google senior vice president and Alphabet board member Diane Greene mentioned the figure while touting Google's security prowess. The internet search leader, which develops the Android mobile system and also offers email and a range of other applications for consumers, has led the way in notifying users of government spying. Others, including Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), have since followed suit. Google had previously said that it had been issuing tens of thousands of warnings every few months and that customers often upgraded their security in response. (Reporting by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Read more

Samsung Electronics set for best quarter in over two years on second-quarter smartphone boost

SEOUL Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is poised to issue guidance for its best quarterly profit in more than two years, propelled by a surge in mobile earnings on the back of robust sales of its flagship Galaxy S7 smartphones. The South Korean giant will disclose its estimates for second-quarter earnings on Thursday, with analysts predicting a strong mobile division contributed to a 13 percent jump in operating profit from the same period a year earlier. The average forecast from a Thomson Reuters survey of 16 analysts tips Samsung to report April-June operating profit of 7.8 trillion won ($6.8 billion), the highest since an 8.5 trillion won profit in January-March of 2014. The mobile division of the world's top maker of smartphones and memory chips was likely its top earner for the second straight quarter with a 4.3 trillion won profit, according to the survey. Samsung surprised many with better-than-expected first-quarter earnings, and issued guidance for a further pickup in April-June."Galaxy S7 sales are better than expected in the first half, and the semiconductor business is also outperforming rivals," said KTB Asset Management's Lee Jin-woo. The fund manager estimated the firm's quarterly operating profit would also stay strong in both the third and fourth quarters at between 7 trillion won and 8 trillion won in each. Samsung's smartphone business had been squeezed before the start of this year between Apple Inc, at the high end of the market, and Chinese rivals like Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] in the budget segment. But the Galaxy S7 has provided a catalyst for the earnings rebound, likely putting the mobile business on track to record its first annual profit growth in three years.Some analysts say Samsung shipped around 16 million Galaxy S7s in April-June, with a higher-priced curved-screen version outselling its flat-screen counterpart and boosting margins. Lackluster sales of offerings from rivals such as Apple and LG Electronics also helped reduced marketing expenses, they said. "While operating profit margins for the mobile phone business will decline in the third and fourth quarters as the Galaxy S7 effect fades, operating profit will continue to grow on an annual basis," Korea Investment & Securities said in a report. As its smartphones thrive, Samsung's chip business - last year's key profit driver - probably saw quarterly profit sink to its lowest in nearly two years due to weak demand from makers of other smartphones and personal computers. But signs of some price recovery for DRAM chips starting last month and Samsung's dominance in the premium solid-state disc drive market with its 3D NAND chip production technology suggest a pickup in coming months, analysts said. (Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Tony Munroe and Kenneth Maxwell)

Read more

Solar plane lands in Spain after three-day Atlantic crossing

SEVILLE, Spain An airplane powered solely by the sun landed safely in Seville in Spain early on Thursday after an almost three-day flight across the Atlantic from New York in one of the longest legs of the first ever fuel-less flight around the world.The single-seat Solar Impulse 2 touched down shortly after 7.30 a.m. local time in Seville after leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport at about 2.30 a.m. EDT on June 20.The flight of just over 71 hours was the 15th leg of the round-the-world journey by the plane piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. "Oh-la-la, absolutely perfect," Piccard said after landing, thanking his engineering crew for their efforts. With a cruising speed of around 70 kilometers an hour (43 miles per hour), similar to an average car, the plane has more than 17,0000 solar cells built in to wings with a span bigger than that of a Boeing 747. (Reporting by Marcelo Pozo; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Read more
Older Post