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Elon Musk’s SpaceX Takes Dogecoin as Payment for Moon Mission

Is Elon Musk really taking Dogecoin to the moon? That’s what the Tesla chief executive has been pledging to do with the jokey cryptocurrency, mostly in terms of cheering on its skyrocketing price. But on Sunday, he tweeted that one of his other companies, SpaceX, is launching a satellite called Doge-1 on a mission paid for with Dogecoin, the DealBook newsletter reports.

Saturday Night Live,” at one point calling the token “a hustle.” Dogecoin, which is based on an internet meme about a Shiba Inu, fell by nearly a third in price on the night of the show. It was such an eventful night for the cryptocurrency that the Robinhood trading app couldn’t keep up. The crypto token is still up more than 10,000 percent in price this year.

SpaceX and Geometric Energy Corporation, a Canadian technology firm, are teaming up to carry a 90-pound satellite on a Falcon 9 moon mission, according to a statement on Sunday. “Having officially transacted with DOGE for a deal of this magnitude, Geometric Energy Corporation and SpaceX have solidified DOGE as a unit of account for lunar business,” said G.E.C.’s chief executive, Samuel Reid. (A company representative confirmed to DealBook that the project was not a joke but declined to explain further.)

growing contingent of lobbyists in Washington and a recent hiring spree of former regulators. This month, the House passed a bill backed by crypto lobbyists to create a working group to examine frameworks for regulating digital assets.

The bill, said Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts, was a chance “to act proactively toward financial innovation rather than to address gaps in our regulatory framework after the fact.”

The bill is now with the Senate Banking Committee. “Financial regulators have been slow when it comes to protecting consumers from private-sector digital assets that add more risks to our financial system,” Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the committee chair, told DealBook in a statement. He declined to provide a timeline for advancing the legislation.

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Cracked Lake Bed Is a Stark Symbol of Taiwan’s Drought. Influencers Take Notice.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Sun Moon Lake was once a popular tourist spot in Taiwan. But now the bottom of the lake is Instagram-famous for a grim reason: one of the worst droughts to hit the island in decades.

The parched lake bed — cracks snaking across the ground as far as the eye can see — has drawn the attention of influencers, who have trekked to the site to take visually arresting photos of the terrain and post them online.

But the situation is dire. Residents have prayed to the god Matsu for rain after a monthslong drought dried up the island’s reservoirs. Some parts of the lake have begun to grow grass, and jetties that normally float are sitting on dry mud. Tour boats sit idle.

“Our business is 90 percent less than last year,” said Wang Ying-shen, chairman of a group for businesspeople who rent boats to visitors.

putting pressure on the island’s semiconductor industry. More than 90 percent of the world’s manufacturing capacity for the most advanced chips is in Taiwan.

Farmers who need to flood paddies to raise rice, lotus root and other thirsty crops have been hit hard. “The lotus flowers and seeds I planted don’t produce well,” said Chen Chiu-lang, a farmer in the southern city of Tainan, standing in a dry paddy field.

Households in areas under top-level restrictions go without running water two days a week. They include Taiwan’s second-biggest city, Taichung, with 2.8 million people; Hsinchu, one of the biggest global enters for semiconductor manufacturing; and Tainan and Kaohsiung in the south. The economics minister, Wang Mei-hua, has warned that restrictions might be tightened.

The authorities are drilling extra wells, and military planes are dumping cloud-seeding chemicals in hopes of triggering downpours. The economy ministry allocated 2.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($88 million) in March to drill wells and build emergency seawater desalination facilities.

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China’s Rocket Debris Landed Near Maldives: Here’s What to Know

Debris from a large Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives early Sunday morning, China’s space administration announced.

It said most of the debris had burned up on re-entry. It was not immediately clear whether any of what remained had landed on any of the Maldives’s 1,192 islands.

The possibility, however slight, that debris from the rocket could strike a populated area had led people around the world to track its trajectory for days. The administrator of NASA, Bill Nelson, issued an unusual rebuke after China’s announcement, accusing the country of “failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.”

The rocket, a Long March 5B, launched the main module of China’s next space station, Tiangong, on April 29. Usually, the large booster stages of rockets immediately drop back to Earth after they are jettisoned, but the 23-ton core stage of the Long March 5B accompanied the space station segment all the way to orbit.

tracks the comings and goings of objects in space, said on Twitter that an ocean splashdown had always been the most likely outcome, but that the episode raised questions about how China designs its space missions.

“It appears China won its gamble (unless we get news of debris in the Maldives),” he wrote. “But it was still reckless.”

Long March 5B is China’s largest rocket, and one of the largest currently in use by any nation. The country’s space program needed a large, powerful vehicle to carry Tianhe, the main module of Tiangong, the new space station, which is to be operational by 2022 after more pieces are launched and connected in orbit.

routinely fell on rural areas downrange, occasionally causing damage. China has since moved many of its launches, including the Long March 5B’s, to a new site in Wenchang, a city on Hainan, an island off the southeastern coast.

Last year, the first launch of a Long March 5B rocket lifted a prototype of China’s crewed space capsule. The booster from that rocket also made an uncontrolled re-entry, with some debris raining down on a village in Ivory Coast.

an international legal framework based on treaties from the 1960s and ’70s in which a country can demand payment for damage caused by another country’s falling rocket.

That has happened once, after Cosmos 954, a Soviet satellite that was powered by a nuclear reactor, crashed in Canada in 1978. Canada billed the Soviet Union for part of the cost of cleaning up the radioactive debris.

In recent years, China has completed a series of impressive achievements in spaceflight. Months ago, it put a spacecraft — Tianwen-1 — in orbit around Mars, and in December it also collected rocks from the surface of the moon and brought them back to Earth.

In May or June, it hopes to further advance its Mars mission by landing a robotic rover, Zhurong, on the red planet’s surface. So far only the United States has had lasting success during attempts to land on Mars.

As it works to make steady progress on space station construction, China could also launch a crew to orbit next month in a spacecraft called Shenzhou. Once in space, they are to dock with the Tianhe module.

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Bidding Opens for a Seat on Blue Origin’s First Passenger Space Flight

Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, will launch a rocket into space with passengers on board for the first time in July, the company said on Wednesday.

One seat on the flight, which will carry six astronauts on a short jaunt to the edge of outer space, is up for auction.

The first astronaut flight of New Shepard, a suborbital spacecraft, is scheduled for July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

“We’ve spent years testing, so we’re ready,” Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut sales for Blue Origin, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

millions of people eventually living and working in space.

For now, most of Blue Origin’s business has stayed closer to Earth. It builds and sells rocket engines to another rocket company, United Launch Alliance. A rocket that would lift cargo to orbit is not expected to be ready for years, and the company recently lost a competition with SpaceX for a contract to build a moon lander for NASA’s astronauts (it has protested the award). Customers have also paid to fly science experiments for NASA and private scientists during test flights of the New Shepard spacecraft.

It has been preparing for years for the start of its space tourism program, which would offer suborbital trips to what is considered the boundary of outer space, 62 miles above Earth. A competitor, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, also plans to fly space tourists on suborbital jaunts. Virgin Galactic’s space plane, known as SpaceShipTwo, is flown by two pilots, so it has carried people to space on test flights, but no paying passengers yet.

Blue Origin’s tourist rocket is named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space. It has undergone 15 test flights, none of which had passengers aboard. Ahead of the latest test, in April, a crew rehearsed boarding and exiting the capsule.

For July’s crewed launch, astronauts will arrive to the launch site in West Texas four days before their flight for safety training, Ms. Cornell said.

terms of agreement for the auction listed on Blue Origin’s website, the winning bidder must have a height and weight from five feet tall and 110 pounds to 6-foot-four and 223 pounds.

The astronaut must also be comfortable with walking at heights above 70 feet above ground level on the gangway, be able to climb the launch tower — equivalent to seven flights of stairs — in less than 90 seconds and be able to fasten his or her own harness in less than 15 seconds.

The astronaut must also be comfortable with lots of pressure pressing down on him or her for several minutes during both the ascent and descent.

Proceeds from the winning bid will be donated to Club for the Future, a science and technology education foundation affiliated with Blue Origin, Ms. Cornell said.

Ms. Cornell declined to comment on potential pricing for regular tickets, and when they might go on sale for the general public. But she said there would be “a couple more crewed flights before the end of the year.”

She also declined to answer whether Mr. Bezos would be on the first flight and did not say if and when he would go to space.

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The Robot Surgeon Will See You Now

Sitting on a stool several feet from a long-armed robot, Dr. Danyal Fer wrapped his fingers around two metal handles near his chest.

As he moved the handles — up and down, left and right — the robot mimicked each small motion with its own two arms. Then, when he pinched his thumb and forefinger together, one of the robot’s tiny claws did much the same. This is how surgeons like Dr. Fer have long used robots when operating on patients. They can remove a prostate from a patient while sitting at a computer console across the room.

But after this brief demonstration, Dr. Fer and his fellow researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, showed how they hope to advance the state of the art. Dr. Fer let go of the handles, and a new kind of computer software took over. As he and the other researchers looked on, the robot started to move entirely on its own.

With one claw, the machine lifted a tiny plastic ring from an equally tiny peg on the table, passed the ring from one claw to the other, moved it across the table and gingerly hooked it onto a new peg. Then the robot did the same with several more rings, completing the task as quickly as it had when guided by Dr. Fer.

how surgeons learn to operate robots like the one in Berkeley. Now, an automated robot performing the test can match or even exceed a human in dexterity, precision and speed, according to a new research paper from the Berkeley team.

The project is a part of a much wider effort to bring artificial intelligence into the operating room. Using many of the same technologies that underpin self-driving cars, autonomous drones and warehouse robots, researchers are working to automate surgical robots too. These methods are still a long way from everyday use, but progress is accelerating.

where there is room for improvement — by automating particular phases of surgery.

significantly improved the power of computer vision, which could allow robots to perform surgical tasks on their own, without such markers.

The change is driven by what are called neural networks, mathematical systems that can learn skills by analyzing vast amounts of data. By analyzing thousands of cat photos, for instance, a neural network can learn to recognize a cat. In much the same way, a neural network can learn from images captured by surgical robots.

inserting a needle for a cancer biopsy or burning into the brain to remove a tumor.

“It is like a car where the lane-following is autonomous but you still control the gas and the brake,” said Greg Fischer, one of the Worcester researchers.

Many obstacles lie ahead, scientists note. Moving plastic pegs is one thing; cutting, moving and suturing flesh is another. “What happens when the camera angle changes?” said Ann Majewicz Fey, an associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin. “What happens when smoke gets in the way?”

For the foreseeable future, automation will be something that works alongside surgeons rather than replaces them. But even that could have profound effects, Dr. Fer said. For instance, doctors could perform surgery across distances far greater than the width of the operating room — from miles or more away, perhaps, helping wounded soldiers on distant battlefields.

The signal lag is too great to make that possible currently. But if a robot could handle at least some of the tasks on its own, long-distance surgery could become viable, Dr. Fer said: “You could send a high-level plan and then the robot could carry it out.”

The same technology would be essential to remote surgery across even longer distances. “When we start operating on people on the moon,” he said, “surgeons will need entirely new tools.”

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Biden Invites South Korea’s President to White House in May

President Biden will meet with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in Washington on May 21, the White House announced on Thursday.

“President Moon’s visit will highlight the ironclad alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and the broad and deep ties between our governments, people, and economies,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “President Biden looks forward to working with President Moon to further strengthen our alliance and expand our close cooperation.”

In an interview with The New York Times published last week, Mr. Moon urged Mr. Biden to sit down with North Korea and kick-start negotiations, calling denuclearization a “matter of survival” for South Korea.

Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump, left office without removing a single North Korean nuclear warhead. Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, has resumed weapons tests.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan at the White House on April 16, marking the first in-person visit of a foreign leader during his presidency.

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Blue Origin Challenges NASA Over SpaceX Moon Lander Deal

Mr. Smith said Blue Origin would put in bids on a future competition. But he added, “The idea that we’re going to be able to restore competition with something that right now is completely undefined and completely unfunded doesn’t make a lot of sense to us.”

When Bill Nelson, a former senator from Florida whom President Biden has nominated to be the next administrator for NASA, testified at a confirmation hearing last week, Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington and chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, asked him to commit to providing Congress with a plan for how NASA would ensure commercial competition in the moon lander program.

“I do,” Mr. Nelson said. “Competition is always good.”

Mr. Smith said that with similar programs in the past, like the space station missions, NASA had hired more than one company even though it lacked certainty on future budgets.

The Blue Origin-led bid, at $6.0 billion, was more than double the price of SpaceX’s. But Mr. Smith said NASA had gone back to SpaceX and negotiated the price of its proposal, even though it did not have similar discussions with the other two teams.

“We didn’t get a chance to revise and that’s fundamentally unfair,” Mr. Smith said.

Less than $9 billion would have paid for two landers, and that is comparable to the $8.3 billion cost of the commercial crew program that now provides transportation to the space station, the protest argued.

“NASA is getting some great, great value from these proposals,” Mr. Smith said.

NASA’s evaluations of the bids gave ratings of “acceptable” on the technical aspects of Blue Origin’s and SpaceX’s proposals. Dynetics’s rating was lower, at “marginal.” SpaceX’s management was regarded as “outstanding,” while Blue Origin and its partners were judged, “very good,” as was Dynetics.

Mr. Smith said NASA misjudged aspects of its proposal, like the communications system and redundancy in guidance and navigation, as weaknesses. He also said it downplayed the risks in SpaceX’s design like the need to refuel Starship in orbit, which has never been tried before.

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South Korea Celebrates Oscar Win for Youn Yuh-jung of ‘Minari’

SEOUL — “Minari,” the critically acclaimed movie about a hard-luck family of Korean immigrants in the United States, was not exactly a commercial blockbuster in South Korea: Fewer than a million people watched it in 54 days of screening across the country.

But when one of its stars, Yuh-Jung Youn, won the Academy Award for best supporting actress, South Koreans rejoiced not only because it was a first for a Korean actor, but also because of the recipient.

On Monday morning, the South Korean media sent out news flashes when Ms. Youn won her Oscar. Cable channels announced plans to screen her previous films. Social media was abuzz with fans congratulating her.

“Her performance brilliantly helped us relive the memories of our own mothers and grandmothers,” President Moon Jae-in said in a statement, referring to Ms. Youn’s character in the film.

“Woman of Fire,” but left acting to marry Jo Young-nam, one of South Korea’s best-known singers. In the 1970s, she followed him to the United States, where Mr. Jo tried on a career as a gospel singer. The marriage ended in divorce in the 1980s.

“A Good Lawyer’s Wife” (2003), many female actresses declined the role of a woman who has sex with another man while her husband is terminally ill. Ms. Youn took the role, saying she could used the money to redo her living room.

She once performed the role of a spiteful queen in a Korean soap opera so well that people often cursed when they saw her on the street.

“People like her because they know her life story,” said Huh Eun, a retired college media professor in Seoul. “When they think of her, they don’t think of the glorious spotlight usually associated with film stars, but of a woman who has struggled to make a living all these years like the rest of us.”

Ms. Youn’s global breakthrough came when she was offered a role in “Minari.”

quoted Ms. Youn as saying. “This is our first time living this life, so we can’t help but feel regretful and hurt.”

Ms. Youn’s Oscar acceptance speech went viral for a characteristic tongue-in-cheek attitude. The award was presented by Brad Pitt, whose production company financed the film. “Mr. Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you!” she said to the American superstar. “Where were you when we were filming in Tulsa?”

“Minari” depicts a Korean family struggling to build a life as farmers in rural Arkansas in the 1980s, when many poor Koreans headed for the United States for a better life. It is the second film about Koreans to make history at the Academy Awards, after “Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon Ho, won four Oscars last year.

“Parasite” grossed more than 10 million viewers within two months of its release. Part of the reason “Minari” failed to achieve the same commercial success in South Korea is because the immigrant experience of the 1980s that it portrays is quickly fading.

These days, far fewer Koreans emigrate to the United States, and those who do are usually the children of rich families who go there to study. That may change, too, as Koreans watch hate crimes involving Asian-American victims soar in the United States.

But Ms. Youn struck a chord with South Koreans in her role as Soonja, the foul-mouthed but loving grandmother in “Minari” who moves from South Korea to the United States to take care of her grandchildren. Her grandson doesn’t consider Soonja a “real grandma” and complains that she “smells like Korea.” They slowly build a bond by playing cards together and sharing Mountain Dew, which Soonja seems to think is a health drink because it is made from “dew from the mountains.”

After “Minari” began accumulating awards at film festivals in recent weeks, fans started calling Ms. Youn “the Meryl Streep of Korea.” She has done what no other Korean actor or actress has done: while “Parasite” won best picture and best director, none of its actors were nominated for Oscars.

On Sunday night during the award ceremony, Ms. Youn said her true inspiration was her two children. “I’d like to thank my two boys who made me go out and work,” she said while holding her statuette.

“This is the result because mommy worked so hard.”

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4 Astronauts Float Into the International Space Station and Open Arms

“Endeavour arriving.”

With those words, the four members of the Crew-2 Dragon Endeavour began floating one by one into the International Space Station on Saturday morning, about 24 hours after their capsule lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Dragon Endeavour docked onto the space station shortly after 5 a.m., according to Space X, the company run by Elon Musk that built the spacecraft.

Waiting to greet the crew were seven astronauts who beamed and hugged each of the new arrivals as they slowly made their way through a hatch and into the station.

“Their arrival means there are now 11 humans aboard our orbiting laboratory, a number not seen since the space shuttle era,” NASA said on Twitter.

according to NASA.

The journey to the station was relatively smooth, though at one point the crew was warned that a piece of space debris was going to whiz past the capsule at about 1:43 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.

The astronauts were told to put on their spacesuits, get back in their seats and lower their protective visors. The debris was not immediately identified. NASA said the debris ended up passing about 28 miles from the capsule, a safe distance, and that the spacecraft was not at risk.

The crew will remain with three other astronauts: Mark Vande Hei of NASA, and two Russians, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, all of whom arrived at the station on April 9.

The four members of Crew-1, who arrived in November on the Dragon Resilience, will spend five days with Crew-2 before returning to Earth.

Douglas G. Hurley and Robert L. Behnken, who is married to Ms. McArthur — to the space station for a test flight to work out any remaining glitches in the systems.

Earlier this month, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop a giant rocket called Starship, which the company said will one day take people to Mars. Its first mission, however, will be to drop off NASA astronauts on the moon.

Kenneth Chang contributed reporting.

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