Israel, Apr 12 (AP/UNB) — An Israeli spacecraft crashed into the moon Thursday just moments before touchdown, failing in an ambitious attempt to make history as the first privately funded lunar landing.
The spacecraft lost communication with ground control during its final descent. Moments later, the mission was declared a failure.
"We definitely crashed on the surface of the moon," said Opher Doron of Israel Aerospace Industries.
He said the spacecraft's engine turned off shortly before landing, and scientists were still trying to figure out the cause. The spacecraft, called Beresheet, was in pieces scattered at the landing site, he said.
Doron nonetheless called the mission an "amazing success," for reaching the moon and coming so close to landing successfully.
"It is by far the smallest, cheapest spacecraft ever to get to the moon," he said. Beresheet was about the size of a washing machine.
The mishap occurred in front of a packed audience that included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was broadcast live on national television.
"We will try again," Netanyahu said. "We reached the moon, but we want to land more comfortably, and that is for the next time."
It had been hoped that the small robotic spacecraft, built by the nonprofit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, would match a feat that has been achieved only by U.S., Russia and China.
The failure was a disappointing ending to a 6.5 million kilometer (4 million mile) lunar voyage, almost unprecedented in length, that was designed to conserve fuel and reduce price. The spacecraft hitched a ride on a SpaceX rocket launched from Florida in February.
For the past two months, Beresheet, which means "Genesis" or "In the Beginning," traveled around the Earth several times before entering lunar orbit.
Around 20 minutes before the scheduled landing, engine firings slowed Beresheet's descent. Engineers watched in silence as the craft, its movements streamed live on dozens of screens, glided toward a free-fall.
But then the screens showed the engine misfiring, and the velocity surging as it headed toward the lunar surface. Radio signals from the spacecraft, abruptly cut off.
Standing before darkened computer screens, controllers declared the mission a failure. The craft crashed near the historic Apollo landing sites.
President Reuven Rivlin hosted dozens of youngsters at his official residence, one of several celebrations scheduled across the country. The children, some wearing white and blue spacesuits, appeared confused as the crash unfolded.
"We are full of admiration for the wonderful people who brought the spacecraft to the moon," Rivlin said. "True, not as we had hoped, but we will succeed in the end."
Beresheet carried a small laser retroreflector from NASA intended to measure magnetic fields and provide insight on the moon's iron core. It also had a time capsule that included a Bible, Israeli cultural symbols and a picture of famed Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the crash of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia in 2003.
The head of NASA, Jim Bridenstine, said he regretted the mission didn't succeed, but "I have no doubt that Israel and SpaceIL will continue to explore and I look forward to celebrating their future achievements."
The Google Lunar X Prize Competition, which offered $20 million for the first privately funded venture to make it to the moon, is what first drove SpaceIL to get Beresheet off the ground.
Beresheet made the final cut, but after several deadline extensions, the competition ended last year without a winner.
SpaceIL pressed on with its dream, convinced the mission would help inspire Israel's next generation to study science and engineering. The $100 million mission was financed largely by Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn and a handful of other investors.
"The second I heard their dream, I wanted to support it," said Kahn. "I knew it would give us in Israel a sense of pride."
The XPrize Foundation congratulated the SpaceIL team despite the failed landing.
"We're extraordinarily proud they made it this far," said Peter Diamandis, XPrize founder.
Spacecraft crash more on other planets than they do on the moon, but the moon has had seen failed missions previously, said American University professor Howard McCurdy, who has written several books about space.
In the 1960s, before the Apollo lunar landings, NASA sent seven unmanned Surveyor flights to the moon and two failed, he said.
"What makes it hard is the conditions — the geological and atmospheric conditions are different on the moon and the planets than they are on Earth," McCurdy said. "It makes it really hard to test" the spacecraft's landing back on Earth.
Phil Larson of the University of Colorado, who was a space adviser in the Obama White House, said the Israeli effort underlines that "space is still extremely hard, and landing human made objects on other worlds is an utmost challenge."
But, he added, "While it failed to land successfully, overall it was a path-breaking and innovative project."
Cape Canaveral, Apr 12 (AP/UN B) — SpaceX launched its second supersized rocket and for the first time landed all three boosters Thursday, a year after sending up a sports car on the initial test flight.
The new and improved Falcon Heavy thundered into the early evening sky with a communication satellite called Arabsat, the rocket's first paying customer. The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in use today, with 27 engines firing at liftoff — nine per booster.
Eight minutes after liftoff, SpaceX landed two of the first-stage boosters back at Cape Canaveral, side by side, just like it did for the rocket's debut last year. The core booster landed two minutes later on an ocean platform hundreds of miles offshore. That's the only part of the first mission that missed.
"What an amazing day," a SpaceX flight commentator exclaimed. "Three for three boosters today on Falcon Heavy, what an amazing accomplishment."
The Falcon Heavy soared from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, using the same pad that shot Apollo astronauts to the moon a half-century ago and later space shuttle crews.
Nearby beaches and other prime viewing spots were packed with tourists and locals eager to catch not just the launch but the rare and dramatic return of twin boosters, accompanied by sonic booms. The roads were also jammed for Wednesday night's launch attempt, which was scuttled by high wind.
Because this was an upgraded version of the rocket with unproven changes, SpaceX chief Elon Musk cautioned in advance things might go wrong. But everything went exceedingly well and the satellite ended up in the proper orbit. SpaceX employees at company headquarters in Southern California cheered every launch milestone and especially the three touchdowns.
"The Falcons have landed," Musk said in a tweet that included pictures of all three boosters.
NASA offered swift congratulations. "From our iconic launch pads at @NASAKennedy, we will continue to support the growing commercial space economy," NASA tweeted. Musk replied with three red hearts.
Musk put his own Tesla convertible on last year's demo. The red Roadster — with a mannequin, dubbed Starman, likely still at the wheel — remains in a solar orbit stretching just past Mars.
The Roadster is thought to be on the other side of the sun from us right now, about three-quarters of the way around its first solar orbit, said Jon Giorgini, a senior analyst at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
A couple dozen ground telescopes kept tabs on the car during its first several days in space, but it gradually faded from view as it headed out toward the orbit of Mars, Giorgini noted.
The Roadster could still look much the same as it did for the Feb. 6, 2018, launch, just not as shiny with perhaps some chips and flakes from the extreme temperature swings, according to Giorgini. It will take decades if not centuries for solar radiation to cause it to decompose, he said.
SpaceX plans to launch its next Falcon Heavy later this year on a mission for the U.S. Air Force. The boosters for that flight may be recycled from this one.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine last month suggested possibly using a Falcon Heavy — and another company's big rocket — to get the space agency's Orion capsule around the moon, minus a crew, in 2020. But the preferred method remains NASA's own Space Launch System mega rocket — if it can be ready by then.
Bridenstine said everything is on the space table as NASA strives to meet the White House's goal of landing astronauts back on the moon by 2024.
NASA's Saturn V rockets, used for the Apollo moon shots, are the all-time launch leaders so far in size and might.
SpaceX typically launches Falcon 9 rockets. The Falcon Heavy is essentially three of those single rockets strapped together.
Until SpaceX came along, boosters were discarded in the ocean after satellite launches. The company is intent on driving down launch costs by recycling rocket parts.
Dhaka, Apr 11 (UNB)-With a mission to let the world know about Pahela Baishakh, Bangla New Year, Robi, has launched a unique campaign titled “Tomar tola chhobi te bishsho ke chenao Pahela Baishakh”.
The prime objective of this initiative is to demonstrate the celebration and cultural festivities of Pahela Baishakh through posting pictures on Instagram.
In order to be a part this campaign, what the photo enthusiasts need to do is to take pictures and post in Instagram with a set of hashtags like “Hello World, #meetBoishakh #travelgram # Pahela Baishakh” on the day of Pahela Baishakh.
The campaign also aims to ensure that Pahela Baishakh trends in number 1 globally on Instagram on the day.
Pahela Baishakh is celebrated with much fervor and enthusiasm by Bengali people all over the world on the April 14 every year.
Dhaka, Apr 11(UNB)- A five-day special event “Advancing Digital Bangladesh, 2019” organised by ICT solutions provider Huawei concluded on Thursday in the city.
The event was held at Huawei Customer Solution Innovation and Integration Experience Center (CSIC) in Gulshan area.
Dhaka Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Limited introduced various advanced features of next generation networking equipment, massive data-driven industry operations, lifestyle changes in 5G and other hi-tech solutions under the theme of "5G is On" on the programme.
The event also emphasized on the future implementations of 5G in country.
Huawei arranged the event for their customers, partners as well as whole industry to give a better concept of Global Digital Transformation, 5G opportunities, readiness of operators and customers to adopt 5G and many more.
Other key demonstrations of the event were remote production, 5G Air Fiber, 5G Cloud, Wireless Connected Factory, Agile Telco Cloud, Transport Network Evolution, Experience Monetization, Efficient Data Storage, Full-Stack Cloud and Unified AI.
Menlo Park, April 11 (AP/UNB) — Facebook said Wednesday it is rolling out a wide range of updates aimed at combatting the spread of false and harmful information on the social media site — stepping up the company's fight against misinformation and hate speech as it faces growing outside pressure.
The updates will limit the visibility of links found to be significantly more prominent on Facebook than across the web as a whole, suggesting they may be clickbait or misleading. The company is also expanding its fact-checking program with outside expert sources, including The Associated Press, to vet videos and other material posted on Facebook.
Facebook groups — the online communities that many point to as lightning rods for the spread of fake information — will also be more closely monitored. If they are found to be spreading misinformation, their visibility in users' news feeds will be limited.
Lawmakers and human rights groups have been critical of the company for the spread of extremism and misinformation on its flagship site and on Instagram.
During a hearing Tuesday on the spread of white nationalism, congress members questioned a company representative about how Facebook prevents violent material from being uploaded and shared on the site.
In a separate Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday, the company was asked about allegations that social media companies are biased against conservatives.
The dual hearings illustrate the tricky line that Facebook, and other social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube, are walking as they work to weed out problematic and harmful materials while also avoiding what could be construed as censorship.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg's latest vision for Facebook, with an emphasis on private, encrypted messaging , is sure to pose a challenge for the company when it comes to removing problematic material.
Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of integrity, acknowledged the challenge in a meeting with reporters at Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters Wednesday. He said striking a balance between protecting people's privacy and public safety is "something societies have been grappling for centuries."
Rosen said the company is focused on making sure it does the best job possible "as Facebook evolves toward private communications." But he offered no specifics.
"This is something we are going to be working on, working with experts outside the company," he said, adding that the aim is "to make sure we make really informed decisions as we go into this process."
Facebook already has teams in place to monitor the site for material that breaks the company's policies against information that is overtly sexual, incites violence or is hate speech.
Karen Courington, who works on product-support operations at Facebook, said half of the 30,000 workers in the company's "safety and security" teams are focused on content review. She said those content moderators are a mix of Facebook employees and contractors, but she declined to give a percentage breakdown.
Facebook has received criticism for the environment the content reviewers work in. They are exposed to posts, photos and videos that represent the worst of humanity and have to decide what to take down and what to leave up in minutes, if not seconds.
Courington said these workers receive 80 hours of training before they start their jobs and "additional support," including psychological resources. She also said they are paid above the "industry standard" for these jobs but did not give numbers.
It's also not clear if the workers have options to move into other jobs if the content-review work proves psychologically difficult or damaging.
Even with moderators for material that clearly goes against Facebook's policies, the company is still left with the job of dealing with information that falls into a more gray area — that is not breaking the rules but would be considered offensive by most or is false.
Facebook and other social media companies have long tried to avoid seeming like content editors and "arbiters of truth," so they often err on the side of leaving material up, if less visible, if it is in the gray areas.
But if Facebook knows information is wrong, why not remove it? That's a question posed by Paul Barrett, deputy director at the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.
"Making a distinction between demoting (material) and removing it seems to us to be a curious hesitation," he said.
He acknowledged, however, that even if Facebook did remove information more aggressively, the site would never be perfect.
"There's a tension here," said Tessa Lyons, Facebook's head of News Feed. "We work hard to find the right balance between encouraging free expression and promoting a safe and authentic community, and we believe that down-ranking inauthentic content strikes that balance."
The company said Wednesday it would share more of its misinformation issues with experts and seek their advice.
Facebook faces a tough challenge, said Filippo Menczer, a professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University. He said he's glad to see the company consult journalists, researchers and other experts on fact-checking. Menczer has spoken with the company on the issue of misinformation a couple times recently.
"The fact that they are saying they want to engage the broader research community, to me is a step in the right direction," he said.