Connect with us

Tech

LIVE: Astronauts spacewalk to fix space station

NASA astronauts are undertaking a spacewalk lasting more than six hours today to repair the International Space Station.

Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold are going to replace a failed cooling component and install a camera system and communications receiver on the outside of the craft.

The pair previously completed another six-hour walk on 29 March to install wireless communications antennas and fix a buggy cooling system.

It will be the 210th spacewalk at the ISS since 1998, and the fourth so far this calendar year.

Specifically, the pair will be swapping out thermal control gear that circulates ammonia to keep the station's systems cool.

Image: There have been 209 spacewalks at the ISS. Pic: NASA

Any time an astronaut gets out of a vehicle while in space it's called a spacewalk.

The first ever spacewalk was conducted by Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on 18 March 1965 and lasted for 10 minutes.

American astronaut Ed White followed on 3 June 1965 and lasted 23 minutes.

The typical spacewalk today takes place outside of the ISS and lasts between five and eight hours, depending on the job.

The astronauts wear spacesuits which provide them with the oxygen they need to breathe and the water they need to drink, and put these on several hours before the walk.

In February 1984, astronaut Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to move about in space without being connected to a spacecraft. He used a jet-propelled backpack to move around.
Image: In 1984, Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to move about in space without a tether. Pic: NASA

While in their suits they breathe pure oxygen for a few hours, getting rid of all the nitrogen in their body to avoid getting the bends – also common among divers.

When on a spacewalk, the astronauts are tethered to their spacecraft to stop them floating off into space and their tools are tethered to their suits to stop them from floating off as well.

The real safety mechanism for astronauts is their SAFER backpack, which stands for Simplified Aid for Extra-vehicular activity Resure".

SAFER uses small jet thrusters to let the astronauts move around in space and is controlled with a small joystick.

IN SPACE - AUGUST 3: In this NASA handout, mission specialist, Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson, is anchored to a foot restraint on the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm, during his space walk to repair the underside of the space shutttle Discovery August 3, 2005. Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth August 8. (Photo by NASA via Business-Powers.com)
Image: Astronaut Stephen Robinson anchored to a foot restraint during a spacewalk. Pic: NASA

Before going into space, the astronauts train for spacewalks by swimming.

Astronauts practice spacewalks underwater in a large swimming pool called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, or NBL near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The pool holds 6.2 million gallons of water and astronauts spend seven hours training in the pool for every single hour they will spend on a spacewalk.

More from International Space Station

  • Russia to offer tourists spacewalks on International Space Station

  • Japanese astronaut worried after growing 9cm in space

  • Astronauts have pizza party on the International Space Station

  • Stray plane delays rocket launch to International Space Station

  • Faulty jetpack forces ISS astronaut to abandon spacewalk

  • 'Shape-shifting' bacteria spotted on International Space Station

They also train by using virtual reality, wearing a helmet with a video screen inside and special gloves.

A video of what they will see during a spacewalk is shown on the screen inside the helmet and when the astronaut moves, the special gloves allow the movements to be shown with the video.

Continue Reading

Tech

Branson’s astronaut training as space race hots up

Sir Richard Branson has said he is undergoing astronaut training and is just months away from being catapulted into space.

The 67-year-old Virgin boss has set his sights on turning commercial space travel into a reality since he founded Virgin Galactic and hopes to be among the first space tourists.

"We're talking about months not years – so it's close. There are exciting times ahead," he told BBC Radio 4's You And Yours, to be broadcast on Monday.

"I'm going for astronaut training, I'm going for fitness training, centrifuge and other training so that my body will hopefully cope well when I go to space."

Sir Richard Branson, who has revealed that he is training to become an astronaut
Image: Sir Richard Branson says 'exciting times' are ahead

He said he has increased his fitness training by playing tennis four times a day.

"Instead of doing one set of tennis every morning and every evening I'm doing two sets. I'm going kiting and biking – doing whatever it takes to make me as fit as possible."

Sir Richard is also taking part in gruelling centrifuge training which recreates the pressures the human body experiences during space flight.

All astronauts endure G-force training which simulates the experience of take-off and travel through the earth's atmosphere.

SpaceShipTwo landed about 10 after detaching from its carrier aircraft
Image: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo

Earlier this year Virgin Galactic completed a supersonic test flight of its SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship.

It was the first return to the air for the company since a crash in the Californian desert in 2014 in which one pilot was killed and another was injured.

:: Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy is a space race game-changer

Sir Richard, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are in a race to get tourists into space.

While Sir Richard believes Mr Musk is "doing fantastically well" in getting cargo into space and building bigger and bigger rockets, the real tussle is between the Virgin boss and Mr Bezos.

"I think we're both (Sir Richard and Mr Bezos) neck and neck as to who will put people into space first," he said.

"Ultimately we have to do it safely. It's more a race with ourselves to make sure we have the craft that are safe to put people up there."

Continue Reading

Tech

I created the first digital meme

Technology

The mind behind the Dancing Baby regrets his most famous work.

When Michael Girard created a digital animation of a cute baby dancing, he had no idea it would become one of the first viral sensations of the digital age.

Continue Reading

Tech

John ‘TotalBiscuit’ Bain, YouTube star, has died

YouTube star and video game critic John Bain, better known as TotalBiscuit and the Cynical Brit, has died aged 33.

Bain, who publicly announced he had bowel cancer in 2015, revealed last month that his liver was failing and that he was retiring from reviewing games.

"I'm currently coming to terms with the fact that I don't have long left," he wrote in a lengthy post on Reddit.

He said his body had become resistant to all forms of chemotherapy and that his wife Genna would be taking over his YouTube channel.

Rest in Peace my Dearest Love
John @Totalbiscuit Bain
July 8, 1984 – May 24, 2018 pic.twitter.com/hg9ytHsItJ

— Genna Bain (@GennaBain) May 24, 2018

Bain wrote: "I can't do the job anymore. I'm under the influence of too much medication to think clearly."

A message on his official Twitter account confirmed his passing, while his wife tweeted: "Rest in Peace my Dearest Love."

"I'm more overwhelmed with grief than I could possibly express," she wrote.

Tributes poured in for the popular YouTuber with fans describing Bain as a "warrior", a "fighter" and "an inspiration".

More from Entertainment

  • LIVE: Weinstein arrives at police station to face arrest

  • Danny Boyle to direct new James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig

  • Morgan Freeman sorry after harassment allegations

  • Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson 'pretty upset' to be paid less than co-star Aidan Turner

  • Liam Gallagher meets daughter Molly Moorish, 21, for first time in 19 years

  • Prince William joins Rio Ferdinand and Liam Payne in contention for dad of the year award

One tweeted: "One of the best game reviewers that was. Thanks for everything you've done John."

Another wrote: "I never thought the death of a man I never met would affect me so much. I literally cannot put into words how much your channel and podcast affected me for the better. Rest now good sir. You will be truly missed."

Continue Reading

Tech

‘Unlikely’ string of events sees Alexa go rogue

An American woman says she feels "invaded" after an Amazon Alexa device recorded a private conversation and sent it to a random contact without being asked to.

US news outlet KIRO 7 reported that a woman, identified only as Danielle from Portland, Oregon, had been unaware of what happened until she received a phone call from her husband's employee.

The employee said that Alexa, Amazon's popular voice assistant, had recorded the family's conversation and sent it to him.

Luckily, the conversation was not too personal – it was about hardwood floors.

Nonetheless, Danielle said she felt "invaded".

She added: "Immediately I said: 'I'm never plugging that device in again, because I can't trust it'."

An Amazon.com Inc driver stands next to an Amazon delivery truck in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on May 21, 2016
Image: Amazon says it is 'evaluating options to make this case even less likely'

Amazon confirmed the woman's conversation had been inadvertently recorded and sent, blaming an "unlikely" string of events for the error.

Alexa starts recording after hearing its name or another "wake word" chosen by users, meaning that even having a TV switched on can result in the device being activated.

Amazon said this was what happened to Danielle, adding: "The subsequent conversation was heard as a 'send message' request.

"At which point, Alexa said out loud 'To whom?' At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer's contact list.

"We are evaluating options to make this case even less likely."

Unprompted, creepy laughter from Alexa is freaking out Echo users  Amazon knows about the bug and is working to fix it. 0:09
Video: March: Echo spooks users with creepy cackle

Amazon wants Alexa to become a popular home accessory, used for everything from dimming the lights to ordering a pizza, but to achieve this, it must be able to assure users of the device's security.

There were fears raised after US researchers found in 2016 that sounds unintelligible to humans could set off voice assistants.

According to The New York Times, the group showed that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on flight mode or open a website.

More from Amazon

  • YouTube enters Oscars race against Netflix and Amazon with Vulture's Club movie

  • Amazon cleared after Alexa ad 'triggers cat food order'

  • Amazon plans to lay off 'hundreds of staff' in Seattle and elsewhere

  • Amazon opens supermarket with no check outs

  • Amazon's Bezos sees wealth top $100bn amid Black Friday boost

  • Amazon smart glasses 'to use bones instead of headphones'

In May, some of those researchers went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text.

This would mean that, while a human listener hears an orchestra, the voice assistant might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list.

Continue Reading

Tech

Govt facial recognition delays ‘unacceptable’

By Alexander J Martin, technology reporter

The government's approach to a High Court ruling regarding facial recognition technology has been slammed as "unacceptable" by MPs.

As revealed by Sky News last year, police in the UK have amassed the facial images of more than 20 million people, including hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens.

These images have been used to automatically scan crowds across the country despite questions over whether this constitutes illegal mass surveillance.

facial recognition technology
Image: Just 67 people have asked police to delete their images

The activity has also been challenged by a High Court ruling in 2012 which said that retaining the pictures of innocent people on the custody images database was unlawful.

Despite this ruling, the government said it would be too expensive to delete innocent people's images and told police forces only to consider whether to delete images if the innocent individuals themselves complained.

This was slammed as "unacceptable" by the MPs, who explained that "unconvicted individuals may not know that they can apply for their images to be deleted".

The committee noted a report by Associated Press that only 67 of hundreds of thousands of innocent individuals had applied to police forces to have their images deleted.

In a report published on Friday, MPs on the science and technology committee criticised the government for being four years late in producing the biometrics strategy it had promised would address these issues.

2:23
Video: Facial recognition tech wrongly identifying people as criminals

The biometrics strategy is now technically five years overdue as it was originally to be published as a joint biometrics and forensics strategy in 2013.

Although the government said it would be publishing separate strategies in 2014, the publication date for the biometrics strategy has still not been confirmed.

MPs have demanded that it must be published by June of this year.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Analysis of images plays a critical role in helping the police to protect the public. When doing so it is important that the police act legally, ethically, and transparently.

"We are examining whether, with new police IT systems, it will be technically feasible to link custody images to conviction status as is the case with fingerprints and DNA."

The Home Office say they are now considering the Select Committee's report and are "committed to publishing the Biometrics Strategy in June".

The forensics strategy was two years late when it was published in 2016, although it was still criticised as "inadequate" and "vague and incoherent".

Laboratory
Image: Planned forensic retesting involves all but one of Britain's police forces

A series of scandals have since rocked police handling of forensic evidence, prompting the MPs to demand a rewrite of the strategy.

The report published on Friday states that police are "unduly focusing on cutting costs" which is causing damage to producing evidence.

Their criticism comes as an urgent review is being conducted into the Metropolitan Police amid allegations that 33 cases were affected by forensics mishandling.

Last November, Sky News reported that rogue laboratory staff at the outsourced forensics firm Randox Testing Services may have tampered with evidence in more than 10,000 cases, including murders and sex crimes.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ""The majority of forensic services are being delivered to a higher-quality standard than ever before and are closely scrutinised.

More from Metropolitan Police

  • Woman walking alone attacked with acid in London's Isle of Dogs

  • Three-month search for mother of abandoned baby Harry

  • Dead babies' ashes recovered by police after 'heartbreaking' burglary

  • Pedestrian killed in crash with police car attending 999 call

  • Police appeal after serial suspected child sex attacker targets 25th victim

  • Teen and man, 21, face jail for Halloween murder in Croydon

"We are, however, taking the opportunity to work with policing partners to review provision of forensic science.

"This work will ensure providers and police continue to provide sound forensic evidence for the criminal justice system."

Continue Reading

Trending