Cape Canaveral, Nov 30 (AP/UNB) — America's next moon landing will be made by private companies — not NASA. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday that nine U.S. companies will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface. The space agency will buy the service and let private industry work out the details on getting there, he said.
The goal is to get small science and technology experiments to the surface of the moon as soon as possible. The first flight could be next year; 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.
"We're going at high speed," said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science mission directorate, which will lead the effort.
NASA officials said the research will help get astronauts back to the moon more quickly and keep them safer once they're there. The initial deliveries likely will include radiation monitors, as well as laser reflectors for gravity and other types of measurements, according to Zurbuchen.
Bridenstine said it will be up to the companies to arrange their own rocket rides. NASA will be one of multiple customers using these lunar services.
The announcement came just three days after NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars. NASA wants to see how it goes at the moon before committing to commercial delivery services at Mars.
This new partnership is loosely modeled after NASA's successful commercial cargo deliveries to the International Space Station, as well as the still-unproven commercial crew effort. SpaceX and Northrop Grumman, formerly Orbital ATK, have been making space station shipments since 2012. SpaceX expects to start transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab next year; so does Boeing.
Altogether, these Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts have a combined value of $2.6 billion over the next 10 years.
NASA wants lots of companies involved to encourage competition and get to the moon fast, so astronauts can benefit once an orbiting outpost is up and running near the moon.
Bridenstine expects to have humans working intermittently on the moon, along with robots and rovers, within a decade.
The nine companies, representing seven states, are:
Astrobiotic Technology Inc., Pittsburgh; Deep Space Systems, Littleton, Colorado; Draper, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Firefly Aerospace Inc., Cedar Park, Texas; Intuitive Machines, Houston; Lockheed Martin, Littleton; Masten Space Systems Inc., Mojave, California; Moon Express, Cape Canaveral; and Orbit Beyond, Edison, New Jersey.
Lockheed Martin already has a moon lander in the works modeled after the Mars InSight lander, which the company built for NASA. Insight arrived at Mars on Monday.
The McCandless Lunar Lander is named after the late astronaut and former Lockheed Martin employee Bruce McCandless, who in 1984 performed the first free-flying spacewalk without a lifeline to the orbiting shuttle, using a jetpack built by the company. The picture of McCandless floating by himself in the blackness of space, with the blue Earth in the background, is one of NASA's most iconic.
Bridenstine said while NASA wants the companies to succeed, the space agency is certain some of the efforts will fail. Expectations should not exceed 50 percent, Zurbuchen stressed.
"These are not expensive missions," Bridenstine told reporters before the announcement in Washington. "This is like a venture capital kind of effort where at the end of the day, the risk is high but the return is also very high for a low investment."
He added: "Our goal is to learn as much as we can possibly learn and help this fledgling industry develop here in the United States."
Dhaka, Nov 28 (UNB) – The government is likely to reduce the value-added tax (VAT) for the backward linkage of internet service providers to 5 percent with a view to lowering the internet price for the end users.
“This decision has been finalised by the Finance Ministry recently and will come into effect from December 1 next,” Posts, Telecommunications and IT Minister Mustafa Jabbar told UNB on Thursday.
This step will benefit more than 9 crore internet users as all the internet service-providing channels will be paying 5 percent VAT down from the existing 15 percent, he added.
“This will reduce the cost for internet users,” said the minister.
When contacted, President of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) MA Hakim told UNB over phone, “We heard that the decision was taken at a finance ministry meeting on Sunday, but no letter was yet to receive.”
Hong Kong, Nov 29 (AP/UNB) — A group of leading scientists has declared that it's still too soon to try making permanent changes to DNA that can be inherited by future generations, as a Chinese researcher claims to have done.
The scientists gathered in Hong Kong this week for an international conference on gene editing, the ability to rewrite the code of life to try to correct or prevent diseases.
Although the science holds promise for helping people already born and studies testing that are underway, a statement issued Thursday by the 14-member conference leaders says it's irresponsible to try it on eggs, sperm or embryos except in lab research because not enough is known yet about its risks or safety.
The conference was rocked by the Chinese researcher's claim to have helped make the world's first gene-edited babies, twin girls he said were born earlier this month. Conference leaders called for an independent investigation of the claim by He Jiankui of Shenzhen, who spoke to the group Wednesday as international criticism of his claim mounted.
There is no independent confirmation of what He says he did. He was scheduled to speak again at the conference on Thursday, but he left Hong Kong and through a spokesman sent a statement saying "I will remain in China, my home country, and cooperate fully with all inquiries about my work. My raw data will be made available for third party review."
Several prominent scientists said the case showed a failure of the field to police itself and the need for stricter principles or regulations.
"It's not unreasonable to expect the scientific community" to follow guidelines, said David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate from California Institute of Technology who led the panel.
There already are some rules that should have prevented what He says he did, said Alta Charo, a University of Wisconsin lawyer and bioethicist and a conference organizer.
"I think the failure was his, not the scientific community," Charo said.
Gene editing for reproductive purposes might be considered in the future "but only when there is compelling medical need," with clear understanding of risks and benefits, and certain other conditions, said Dr. Victor Dzau, president of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, one of the conference sponsors.
"Not following these guidelines would be an irresponsible act," he added.
Other sponsors of the three-day conference are the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, the Royal Society of the United Kingdom and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and U.S. National Academy Sciences.
Hong Kong, Nov 28 (AP/UNB) — A leader of an international conference on gene editing said Wednesday that the work of a Chinese scientist who claims to have helped make the world's first gene-edited babies showed a failure of self-regulation among scientists.
Nobel laureate David Baltimore said the work of the scientist who made the claim would "be considered irresponsible" because it did not meet criteria many scientists agreed on several years ago before gene editing could be considered.
Baltimore spoke at an international conference in Hong Kong, where the Chinese scientist, He Jiankui (HEH JEE-ahn-qway) of Shenzhen, made his first public comments since his work was revealed.
He said the twin girls were born this month. He said they were conceived to try to help them resist possible future infection with the AIDS virus.
Baltimore said he didn't think that was medically necessary. He said the case showed "there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community" and said the conference committee would meet and issue a statement on Thursday about the future of the field.
Another prominent American scientist speaking at the conference, Harvard Medical School dean Dr. George Daley, warned against a backlash to He's claim. Daley said it would be unfortunate if a misstep with a first case led scientists and regulators to reject the good that could come from altering DNA to treat or prevent diseases.
He has said his lab used the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR to alter the DNA of human embryos.
There is not yet independent confirmation of his claim, but scientists and regulators have been swift to condemn the experiment as unethical and unscientific.
The National Health Commission has ordered local officials in Guangdong province to investigate He's actions, and his employer, Southern University of Science and Technology, is investigating as well.
The Chinese researcher said he practiced editing mice, monkey and human embryos in the lab for several years and has applied for patents on his methods.
He said he chose embryo gene editing for HIV because these infections are a big problem in China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 that forms a protein doorway that allows HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to enter a cell.
Dhaka, Nov 27 (UNB)- The largest online school of the country, Robi- 10 Minute School, (www.robi10minuteschool.com) has received three awards in the 5th Digital Marketing Summit recently.
The summit a theme - “Delving Deep into Digital” was organised by Bangladesh Brand Forum.
The digital education platform won the Grand Prix award in Best User Generated Content for Shikhi O Shikhai campaign (Students’ Note Sharing in Facebook), Gold award in the category of best use of Facebook- for having the largest student community in Bangladesh and another Gold award in best content marketing- for Robi- 10 Minute School’s LIVE, crash course and master class programme.
Robi’s Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Shahed Alam, Vice President of Media, Communication and Sustainability, Ekram Kabir and Founder and CEO of Robi- 10 Minute School, Ayman Sadiq received the awards at the summit while the entire Robi- 10 Minute School team was also present on the occasion.
There are more than 4.6 million Robi- 10 Minute School users (Facebook and YouTube combined) exists currently in the country.