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SpaceX Crew Dragon creates history, docks with space station

The operational Crew Dragon spacecraft will be capable of staying in orbit for at least 210 days as a NASA requirement.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon

Washington, May 31 : The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley successfully docked with the International Space Station on Sunday, marking the beginning of a new era in the US space programme.

“Docking confirmed – Crew Dragon has arrived at the @space_station,” SpaceX tweeted.

The spacecraft lifted off at 3.22 p.m. EDT on Saturday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

This is the first-ever crewed mission for SpaceX. This was also the first crewed launch from the US after the government retired the space shuttle programme in 2011.

Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations.

Behnken and Hurley will work with SpaceX mission control to verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system, and by manoeuvring the thrusters, among other things.

The Demo-2 mission is the final major test before NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station.

For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members at a time and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, allowing for an increased number crew members aboard the space station and increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, as well as returning more science back to Earth.

The first operational Crew Dragon mission, called Crew-1, could launch to the space station as early as August 30, Space.com reported. The Crew Dragon being used for this flight test can stay in orbit about 110 days, and the specific mission duration will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

The operational Crew Dragon spacecraft will be capable of staying in orbit for at least 210 days as a NASA requirement.

At the conclusion of the mission, Behnken and Hurley will board Crew Dragon, which will then autonomously undock, depart the space station, and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. Upon splashdown off Florida’s Atlantic coast, the crew will be picked up by the SpaceX recovery ship and returned to the dock at Cape Canaveral.

NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems to low-Earth orbit as part of its Commercial Crew Programme to reduce the agency’s dependence on Russia’s Soyuz capsule for transportation of astronauts to the space station.

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Make a WhatsApp voice or video call with Google Assistant

If you have set up the Google Assistant app on your Android device, you may directly invoke it by saying OK Google or Hey Google.

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New Delhi, July 12 : Google recently announced that Assistant would be able to make video and audio calls with WhatsApp.

This means that one can easily access WhatsApp and some of its options by triggering the Google Assistant from the home screen on your smartphone.

The voice calls commenced by Assistant were earlier used to place a network call for the user. While video calls could be set up via Hangouts or Duo only.

If you have set up the Google Assistant app on your Android device, you may directly invoke it by saying OK Google or Hey Google.

One may also wake up the assistant app using the dedicated key, if available or by long-pressing the Home button on your device.

When Google Assistant is open, use one of the two commands, “Make a WhatsApp call to [contact-name]” or “Call [contact-name] on WhatsApp and for video call just say “Make a WhatsApp video call to [contact-name]”.

To make things faster, one should add a nickname to the most frequently called contacts.

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Bill Gates warns ‘deadlier pandemic’ if vaccine goes to ‘highest bidders’

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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San Francisco, July 12 : Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned about a deadlier pandemic if successful drugs or a COVID-19 vaccine, when developed, go first to the highest bidders and not reach the common people who need it the most.

Addressing a remote COVID-19 conference hosted by the International AIDS Society on Saturday, Gates said democratizing the vaccine must be the goal, reports CNBC.

“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we”ll have a longer, more unjust deadlier pandemic,” he said.

“We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors,” Gates added.

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The fear is that once the vaccine is developed, the rich and the powerful people would grab it first.

However, despite encouraging preliminary data coming from some research labs, a Covid-19 vaccine is nowhere near while new corona cases are mounting in several countries including in India.

No vaccines have yet started their large and critical Phase-III trials in the US.

WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that AstraZeneca”s coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently the most advanced vaccine in terms of development.

AstraZeneca”s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, developed by researchers from the Oxford University, will likely provide protection against the disease for one year, the British drug maker”s CEO told Belgian radio station Bel RTL recently.

The vaccine developed at the Oxford Jenner Institute is currently on trial in the UK, where over 4,000 participants have enrolled and additional enrollment of 10,000 participants is planned for the clinical trial. The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine has been licenced to AstraZeneca.

“Global cooperation, a resolve to invent the tools and get them out where they”re needed most is critical,” said Gates at the virtual event.

Gates in May said the vaccine development may take at least nine months to two years.

“Most of the drug candidates right now are nowhere near that powerful. They could save a lot of lives, but they aren”t enough to get us back to normal,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote in his GatesNotes blog.

In the absence of an “almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19”, it becomes imperative that every person on the planet gets vaccinated against coronavirus.

“Realistically, if we”re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.

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Google to boost fake news, illegal content monitoring on YouTube

In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic.

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Seoul, July 12 : Google’s video-sharing platform YouTube will cooperate with South Korea to closely monitor and prevent the spread of fake news and illegal content.

Google’s Senior Vice President Neal Mohan made the comments during a videoconference with Han Sang-hyuk, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC).

The remarks came after Han requested such cooperation, considering fake news surrounding Covid-19 and a recent high-profile digital sexual abuse case in South Korea, in which such illegal materials were distributed across social media platforms.

The regulator has kept a close watch over the tech giant this year.

Last month, Google voluntarily corrected subscription practices on its YouTube Premium service in the country, after the KCC found they were unfair for users.

The regulator also imposed a fine of $720,000 on Google for violating local telecom laws, as it did not properly notify users of YouTube Premium’s charged service.

In March this year, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company has taken down thousands of videos on YouTube related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information using its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology.

In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic.

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