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2021-12-02 23:02:47| Engadget

Following October's news that Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin spaceflight company planned to build its own commercial space station in low Earth orbit, NASA announced on Thursday it has selected the program for funding through a Space Act Agreement to further develop the the station's design. The funding is part of NASAs Commercial LEO Development program, which aims to "develop a robust commercial space economy in LEO, including supporting the development of commercially owned and operated LEO destinations." Blue OriginWe are pleased that NASA supports the development of Orbital Reef, a revolutionary approach to making Earth orbit more accessible to diverse customers and industries, Brent Sherwood, Senior Vice President of Advanced Development Programs for Blue Origin, said in a prepared statement. The station would be an orbital "mixed-use space business park" that would offer any number of turnkey services as well as reduced operational costs for burgeoning low-g industries "in addition to meeting the ISS partners needs." Blue Origin is partnering with Sierra Space in this project with the former focusing on the architecture and infrastructure of the station everything from its design and construction to managing lift logistics using the New Glenn heavy launch system while the latter is tasked with developing the station's LIFE (Large Integrated Flexible Environment). Boeing is also helping out, designing the operations-maintenance-science module and leveraging its Starliner crew capsule. Genesis Engineering Solutions is involved as well. It's working on a single person spacecraft that tourists and employees alike will be able to putter around in. Thursday's announcement, ironically, comes a the end of a year in which Blue Origin protested NASA's fundamentally unfair decision to award a lunar lander contract to rival SpaceX to the GAO, which quickly dismissed the claims. Blue Origin then sued NASA literally, sued NASA "in an attempt to remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA's Human Landing System," a spokesperson for Blue Origin told Engadget in August. The company subsequently lost that suit as well but, hopefully, Thursday's deal will serve as a balm for Bezos' critically wounded ego.Northrop GrummanThe Orbital Reef team hopes to have its first modules in orbit by the end of the decade with further expansions happening throughout the 2030s. But Orbital Reef isn't the only egg in NASA's commercial LEO basket. Northrop Grumman announced on Thursday that it too had signed a Space Act Agreement to the tune of $126 million to design a "free flying" space station that will be a permanent presence in LEO for at least 15 years."Our station will enable a smooth transition from International Space Station-based LEO missions to sustainable commercial-based missions where NASA does not bear all the costs, but serves as one of many customers, Steve Krein, Northrop Grumman's vice president of civil and commercial space, said in a statement. The company plans to leverage its existing Cygnus spacecraft, its Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) and its Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), as the basis for the station's design. As part of its agreement with NASA, these development proposals will have to account for every aspect of the station's "commercialization, operations and capabilities," according to Northrop Grumman, "as well as space station requirements, mission success criteria, risk assessments, key technical and market analysis requirements, and preliminary design activities."


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2021-12-02 22:21:13| Engadget

NVIDIA's plan to acquire ARM just hit a major stumbling block. The Federal Trade Commission has sued to block the merger over concerns the $40 billion deal would "stifle" competition for multiple technologies, including datacenters and car computers. ARM is a "critical input" that fosters competition between NVIDIA and rivals, the FTC said, and a merger would give NVIDIA a way to "undermine" those challengers.The FTC was also worried NVIDIA would have access to sensitive info from ARM licensees. The merger could reduce the incentive for ARM to develop tech that might run counter to NVIDIA's business goals, officials added. The administrative trial is due to start August 9th, 2022.The company didn't appear bothered. NVIDIA characterized the lawsuit as the "next step" in the FTC process, and repeated its arguments in favor of the buyout. The acquisition would "accelerate" ARM's product plans, foster more competition and still protect the chip architecture designer's open licensing model, according to NVIDIA. You can read the full statement below.Despite the claims, an FTC lawsuit is a huge issue for NVIDIA. The Commission files lawsuits like these when it believes a company is breaking the law concessions might not be enough. It also comes after the European Commission launched an investigation into the purchase in October. NVIDIA is facing questions from major regulators clearly wary of the acquisition, and those agencies might not accept the answers.As it stands, NVIDIA's competition likely isn't happy. Qualcomm reportedly objected to the ARM deal in communications with the FTC (among other bodies) over fears NVIDIA might refuse to license designs. And when heavyweights like Apple, MediaTek and Samsung also depend on ARM, it's doubtful the rest of the market would be enthusiastic. At the least, the trial would likely delay closure of the union past NVIDIA's original 2022 target.As we move into this next step in the FTC process, we will continue to work to demonstrate that this transaction will benefit the industry and promote competition. NVIDIA will invest in Arms R&D, accelerate its roadmaps, and expand its offerings in ways that boost competition, create more opportunities for all Arm licensees and expand the Arm ecosystem. NVIDIA is committed to preserving Arms open licensing model and ensuring that its IP is available to all interested licensees, current and future.


Category: Marketing and Advertising

 

2021-12-02 22:10:45| Engadget

Rumors of a Google-branded smartwatch have persisted for years, but they might be close to coming true. Insidersources claim Google is planning to release its first self-developed smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," in 2022. The Wear OS device would be an eye-catching device with a round display, but no physical bezel the Galaxy Watch 4 might seem antiquated by comparison.Rohan would be a relatively typical smartwatch on the inside with a heart rate sensor and a battery that would still require daily charging. It would use proprietary watch bands, so you'd have to forget about using conventional straps. A tipster talking to The Verge claimed the watch would "cost more than a Fitbit" and serve as an Apple Watch competitor.The software may be the most important feature. Like Pixel phones, Rohan would serve as a "showcase" for Google's platform in this case, Wear OS 3. The smartwatch (not necessarily called "Pixel Watch," despite the name floating around) would theoretically show customers what Wear OS can do, and give hardware partners a reference point to work from. It might also include a Fitbit tie-in, nicknamed "Nightlight."Google has already declined to comment, citing a policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation. However, the concept might not be new. Google supposedly axed its first attempt at an official watch in 2016 and instead has put its trust in third-party offerings from Fossil, LG and others. It's moving forward now that it has not only finished acquiring Fitbit, but has reportedly merged its wearable team with Fitbit's and otherwise tried to replicate Apple's focus on health.A first-party watch might be necessary. Apple continues to dominate the smartwatch market despite a flurry of low-cost hardware and competition from major brands like Samsung and Garmin. Some of this has been blamed on lackluster Wear OS hardware, not to mention a lack of significant OS updates. An official Google watch won't necessarily up-end the marketplace, but it could spur other watchmakers to try harder and add some (arguably needed) excitement.


Category: Marketing and Advertising

 

2021-12-02 20:57:36| Engadget

Now that everyone you know on social media has shared their Spotify Wrapped year-in-review, SoundCloud would like you to know it too has a chronicle of what you listened to over the last 11 months. Starting today, you can access Your 2021 Playback. Its a personalized playlist that features your most-played tracks from 2021. Since this is SoundCloud were talking about, it will have a different feel to your Wrapped 2021 playlist. If you turn to the platform to listen to the latest tracks from artists like BabySantana and Polo G, theres a good chance theyll show up here.Thats not the only way you can revisit your listening history. Hidden Gems, another new personalized playlist, highlights tracks you may have glossed over or missed since January. Additionally, SoundCloud Go and Go+ subscribers can see a list of the artists they supported through the companys recently launched listener-based royalties system. Lastly, theres The SoundCloud Play, which chronicles the year that was on SoundCloud from a platform level. There, you can see things like the artist whose song attracted the most comments, among other things.


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2021-12-02 20:54:22| Engadget

Nissan has unveiled the lunar lander prototype it has been working on with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The automaker has been collaborating with the agency on driving controllability since January 2020.To help ensure the rover doesn't get stuck on the lunar surface, Nissan has employed a version of its e-4orce all-wheel control technology. The company says its driving-force controls can minimize wheel spin "in accordance with surface conditions." Not only could that prevent the rover's wheels from digging into the moon's powdery, rocky terrain, it might help the lander conserve precious energy.Nissan announced the e-4orce powertrain system early last year. The tech, which is featured in the Ariya electric crossover and upcoming next-gen Leaf, allows for precise, independent control for all four wheels. The Ariya has front and rear motors, and the torque of each can be controlled individually to deliver traction during acceleration.The company believes "the knowhow gained from this joint research with JAXA will lead to innovations in our vehicles that will bring benefits to customers," according to Toshiyuki Nakajima, general manager of Nissan's Advanced Vehicle Engineering Department.The current design of the rover isn't aesthetically exciting, unfortunately. Right now, it's a rectangular box on wheels. But, as is usually the case, it's what's on the inside that really counts.


Category: Marketing and Advertising

 

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