Launch Schedule Spaceflight Now

A regularly updated listing of planned orbital missions from spaceports around the globe. Dates and times are given in Greenwich Mean Time. NET stands for no earlier than. TBD means to be determined. Recent updates appear in red type. Please send any corrections, additions or updates by e-mailto:sclark@spaceflightnow.com.

See ourLaunch Logfor a listing of completed space missions since 2004.

Nov. 14: Antares/NG-10 delayedNov. 13: Adding time for GSLV Mk.3/GSAT 29; Adding seconds for Antares/NG-10 and Soyuz/Progress 71P; Adding GSLV Mk.2/GSAT 7ANov. 9: Adding date for Long March 3B/Beidou; Adding time for Soyuz 57S; Adding Falcon 9/PSN 6 & SpaceIL Lunar LanderNov. 7: Pegasus XL/ICON scrubbed; Falcon 9/Eshail 2 delayed; Adding Vega/Mohammed VI-B; Adding date for PSLV/HySIS; Updating time for Falcon 9/GPS 3-01; Adding window for Delta 4/WGS 10Nov. 1: Pegasus XL/ICON delayed; Soyuz/Progress 71P moved forward; Soyuz/Progress 72P delayed

Nov. 15Falcon 9 Eshail 2

Launch window: 2046-2229 GMT (3:46-5:29 p.m. EST)Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Eshail 2 communications satellite. Built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and owned by Qatars national satellite communications company EshailSat, Eshail 2 will provide television broadcasts, broadband connectivity and government services to Qatar and neighboring parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Eshail 2 also carries the first amateur radio payload to fly in geostationary orbit. Delayed from August. Delayed from Nov. 14. [Nov. 7]

Nov. 16Antares NG-10

Launch time: 0923:55 GMT (4:23:55 a.m. EST)Launch site: Pad 0A, Wallops Island, Virginia

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will launch the 11th Cygnus cargo freighter on the 10th operational cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station. The mission is known as NG-10. The rocket will fly in the Antares 230 configuration, with two RD-181 first stage engines and a Castor 30XL second stage. Delayed from March and Nov. 10. Moved forward from Nov. 17. Delayed from Nov. 15 by poor weather forecast. [Nov. 14]

Nov. 16Soyuz Progress 71P

Launch time: 1814:08 GMT (1:14:08 p.m. EST)Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch the 71st Progress cargo delivery ship to the International Space Station. Delayed from Oct. 31. [Nov. 13]

Nov. 19Long March 3B Beidou

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Xichang, China

A Chinese Long March 3B rocket with a Yuanzheng upper stage will launch two satellites for the countrys Beidou navigation network into Medium Earth Orbit. [Nov. 9]

Nov. 19Falcon 9 Spaceflight SSO-A

Launch time: 1832 GMT (1:32 p.m. EST; 10:32 a.m. PST)Launch site: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch with Spaceflights SSO-A rideshare mission, a stack of satellites heading into sun-synchronous polar orbit. Numerous small payloads will be launched on this mission for nearly 50 government and commercial organizations from 16 countries, including the United States, Australia, Finland, Germany, Singapore and Thailand. Delayed from July. [Oct. 25]

Nov. 20/21Vega Mohammed VI-B

Launch time: 0142 GMT on 21st (8:42 p.m. EST on 20th)Launch site: ZLV, Kourou, French Guiana

An Arianespace Vega rocket, designated VV13, will launch with the Mohammed VI-B Earth observation satellite for the government of Morocco. [Nov. 7]

TBDPegasus XL ICON

Launch window: 0800-0930 GMT (3:00-4:30 a.m. EST)Launch site: L-1011, Skid Strip, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

An air-launched Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket will deploy NASAs Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite into orbit. ICON will study the ionosphere, a region of Earths upper atmosphere where terrestrial weather meets space weather. Disturbances in the ionosphere triggered by solar storms or weather activity in the lower atmosphere can cause disturbances in GPS navigation and radio transmissions. The missions staging point was changed from Kwajalein Atoll to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in mid-2018. Delayed from June 15, Nov. 14, and Dec. 8, 2017. Delayed from June 14, Sept. 24, Oct. 6, Oct. 26 and Nov. 3. Scrubbed on Nov. 7. [Nov. 7]

Nov. 26PSLV HySIS

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India

Indias Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, flying on the PSLV-C43 mission, will launch Indias Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite, or HySIS. A collection of small international secondary payloads will accompany HySIS on this launch. Delayed from October. [Nov. 7]

Nov. 29Delta 4-Heavy NROL-71

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: SLC-6, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket will launch a classified spy satellite cargo for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. The largest of the Delta 4 family, the Heavy version features three Common Booster Cores mounted together to form a triple-body rocket. Delayed from Sept. 26. Moved forward from Dec. 3. [Oct. 18]

Late 2018Long March 2D SaudiSat 5A & 5B

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Jiuquan, China

A Chinese Long March 2D rocket will launch the SaudiSat 5A and 5B Earth observation satellites for Saudi Arabias King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. [Oct. 25]

Dec. 3Soyuz ISS 57S

Launch time: 1131 GMT (6:31 a.m. EST)Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch the crewed Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station with members of the next Expedition crew. The capsule will remain at the station for about six months, providing an escape pod for the residents. Delayed from Nov. 6 and Nov. 15. Moved forward from Dec. 20 after Soyuz MS-10 launch abort. [Nov. 9]

Dec. 4Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS 16

Launch time: 1838 GMT (1:38 p.m. EST)Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 18th Dragon spacecraft mission on its 16th operational cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Delayed from Nov. 16. Moved forward from Nov. 29. Delayed from Nov. 27. [Oct. 31]

Dec. 4Ariane 5 GSAT 11 & GEO-Kompsat 2A

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: ELA-3, Kourou, French Guiana

Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA246, to launch the GSAT 11 communications satellite and the GEO-Kompsat 2A weather satellite. GSAT 11 is owned by the Indian Space Research Organization and is based on a new Indian satellite bus. The spacecraft, fitted with Ku-band and Ka-band transponders, will be Indias heaviest communications satellite. GSAT 11 was originally scheduled to launch on an Ariane 5 mission in May 2018, but ISRO recalled the satellite from the launch base in French Guiana back to India for additional inspections after the in-orbit failure of another spacecraft. The GEO-Kompsat 2A satellite is South Koreas first homemade geostationary weather satellite. Built in South Korea, the meteorological observatory will track storm systems in the Asia-Pacific region and monitor the space weather environment. [Oct. 25]

Approx. Dec. 8Long March 3B Change 4

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Xichang, China

A Chinese Long March 3B rocket will launch the Change 4 mission to attempt the first robotic landing on the far side of the moon. Change 4 consists of a stationary lander and a mobile rover. [Oct. 25]

Dec. 14GSLV Mk.2 GSAT 7A

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India

Indias Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk. 2 (GSLV Mk.2), designated GSLV-F11, will launch the GSAT 7A communications satellite for the Indian Air Force. [Nov. 13]

Dec. 15Falcon 9 GPS 3-01

Launch time: 1424-1450 GMT (9:24-9:50 a.m. EST)Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the U.S. Air Forces first third-generation navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System. Delayed from May 3 and late 2017. Switched from a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket. The second GPS 3-series satellite will now launch on a Delta 4. Delayed from September and October. [Nov. 7]

Dec. 18Soyuz CSO 1

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: ELS, Sinnamary, French Guiana

An Arianespace Soyuz rocket, designated VS20, will launch on a mission from the Guiana Space Center in South America. The Soyuz will carry into polar orbit the first Composante Spatiale Optique military reconnaissance satellite for CNES and DGA, the French defense procurement agency. The CSO 1 satellite is the first of three new-generation high-resolution optical imaging satellites for the French military, replacing the Helios 2 spy satellite series. The Soyuz 2-1b (Soyuz ST-B) rocket will use a Fregat upper stage. [Oct. 25]

DecemberElectron VCLS 1

Launch window: TBDLaunch site: Launch Complex 1, Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand

A Rocket Lab Electron rocket will launch on its fourth flight from a facility on the Mahia Peninsula on New Zealands North Island. The mission will be conducted under contract to NASAs Venture Class Launch Services Program, carrying 10 CubeSats to orbit for NASA field centers and U.S. educational institutions. Delayed from 3rd Quarter. [Aug. 9]

Dec. 25Proton Blagovest No. 13L

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

A Russian government Proton rocket and Breeze M upper stage will launch the Blagovest No. 13L communications satellite to cover Russian territory and provide high-speed Internet, television and radio broadcast, and voice and video conferencing services for Russian domestic and military users. [Oct. 25]

Dec. 25Soyuz Kanopus-V 5 & 6

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch the Kanopus-V 5 and 6 Earth observation satellites. The two spacecraft will assist the Russian government in disaster response, mapping and forest fire detection. Multiple secondary payloads from international companies and institutions will also launch on the Soyuz rocket. The Soyuz 2-1a rocket will use a Fregat upper stage. Moved forward from Dec. 26. [Oct. 25]

Dec. 27Soyuz EgyptSat-A

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch the EgyptSat-A Earth observation satellite. EgyptSat-A was built by RSC Energia for Egypts National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences. Delayed from Nov. 22. [Oct. 25]

Dec. 30Falcon 9 Iridium Next 66-75

Launch time: 1638 GMT (11:38 a.m. EDT; 8:38 a.m. PST)Launch site: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 satellites for the Iridium next mobile communications fleet. Delayed from October and November. [Oct. 18]

JanuaryLong March 5 Shijian 20

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Wenchang, China

A Chinese Long March 5 rocket will launch the Shijian 20 communications satellite. Shijian 20 is the first spacecraft based on the new DFH-5 communications satellite platform, a heavier, higher-power next-generation design, replacing the Shijian 18 satellite lost on a launch failure in 2017. Delayed from November. [Oct. 25]

JanuaryFalcon 9 Crew Dragon Demo 1

Launch window: TBDLaunch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft on an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station under the auspices of NASAs commercial crew program. Delayed from December 2016, May 2017, July 2017, August 2017, November 2017, February 2018, April 2018, August 2018, November 2018 and December 2018. [Oct. 14]

Early 2019Falcon Heavy Arabsat 6A

Launch window: TBDLaunch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the Arabsat 6A communications satellite for Arabsat of Saudi Arabia. Arabsat 6A will provide Ku-band and Ka-band communications coverage over the Middle East and North Africa regions, as well as a footprint in South Africa. Delayed from first half of 2018 and late 2018. [Oct. 14]

JanuaryFalcon 9 PSN 6 & SpaceIL Lunar Lander

Launch window: TBDLaunch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the PSN 6 communications satellite and SpaceILs Lunar Lander. Built by SSL and owned by Indonesias PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, PSN 6 will provide voice and data communications, broadband Internet, and video distribution throughout the Indonesian archipelago. A privately-funded lunar lander developed by Israels SpaceIL will ride piggyback on this launch, along with several smaller payloads under a rideshare arrangement provided by Spaceflight. [Nov. 9]

Jan. 23Delta 4 WGS 10

Launch window: 2340-0035 GMT on 23rd/24th (6:40-7:35 p.m. on 23rd)Launch site: SLC-37B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket will launch the 10th Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft, formerly known as the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite. Built by Boeing, this geostationary communications spacecraft will serve U.S. military forces. The rocket will fly in the Medium+ (5,4) configuration with four solid rocket boosters. Delayed from Nov. 1 and Dec. 13. [Nov. 7]

Jan. 30GSLV Mk.3 Chandrayaan 2

Launch window: TBDLaunch site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India

Indias Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk. 3 (GSLV Mk.3) will launch the Chandrayaan 2 mission, Indias second mission to the moon. Chandrayaan 2 will consist of an orbiter, the Vikram lander and rover launched together into a high Earth orbit. The orbiter is designed to use on-board propulsion to reach the moon, then release the lander and rover. Chandrayaan 2 was originally slated to launch on a GSLV Mk.2 vehicle, but Indian officials decided to switch to a larger GSLV Mk.3 vehicle in 2018. Delayed from March, April and October 2018. Delayed from Jan. 3. [Oct. 25]

TBDVega PRISMA

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: ZLV, Kourou, French Guiana

An Arianespace Vega rocket, designated VV14, will launch with the PRISMA satellite for the Italian space agency ASI. PRISMA is an Earth observation satellite fitted with an innovative electro-optical instrument, combining a hyperspectral sensor with a medium-resolution panchromatic camera. The mission will support environmental monitoring and security applications. Delayed from November and December 2018. [Oct. 25]

Feb. 8Soyuz Progress 72P

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch the 72nd Progress cargo delivery ship to the International Space Station. Delayed from Feb. 7. [Nov. 1]

Feb. 17Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS 17

Launch window: TBDLaunch site: Cape Canaveral, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 19th Dragon spacecraft mission on its 17th operational cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Delayed from Nov. 16 and Feb. 1. [Sept. 6]

NET Feb. 18Falcon 9 Radarsat Constellation Mission

Launch time: TBDLaunch site: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Radarsat Constellation Mission for the Canadian Space Agency and MDA. Consisting of three radar Earth observation spacecraft launching on a single rocket, the Radarsat Constellation Mission is the next in a series of Canadian Radarsat satellites supporting all-weather maritime surveillance, disaster management and ecosystem monitoring for the Canadian government and international users. Delayed from November. [Oct. 18]

FebruarySoyuz OneWeb 1

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Launch Schedule Spaceflight Now

Take a Virtual Ride Through the Boring Company’s First Tunnel

Can’t Hardly Wait

You don’t have to wait until next month to get a sneak peak inside the Boring Company’s first tunnel.

On October 21, Elon Musk tweeted that construction on his company’s two-mile-long test tunnel in Hawthorne, CA, was nearing completion. He claimed the Boring Company would host an opening party for the tunnel on December 10, at which time the public would get a chance to take free rides through it.

This weekend, Musk confirmed via Twitter that the December 10 date was still a go — and shared a remarkable time-lapse video of a tunnel walkthrough.

Sneak Peak

Be forewarned that the below clip is pretty hypnotic. We’re not doctors, but if you’re prone to seizures, you might want to skip watching this one.

Tunnel Trance

In his tweet Musk called the tunnel “disturbingly long,” but the two miles it covers might eventually seem like a short jaunt. After all, the ultimate plan is a network comprising hundreds of layers of tunnels dug out below the greater Los Angeles area.

This test tunnel is just the start of that vision, and if watching the walkthrough makes you want to experience the tunnel firsthand, just make sure you’re in the Hawthorne area on December 10.

READ MOREElon Musk Shares First-Look Into the Boring Company’s ‘Disturbingly Long’ Tunnel [Business Insider]

More on the Boring Company: Elon Musk: First Boring Company Tunnel Will Open December 10

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Take a Virtual Ride Through the Boring Company’s First Tunnel

More Robots Means Fewer Seasonal Workers for Amazon This Holiday

Alexa, Buy Me a Gift

The holiday season is upon us, and Amazon is getting ready for the seasonal onslaught with 100,000 additional warehouse hires.

That’s about 20,000 fewer than last year. According to analysts, the drop is because the company’s automation efforts are succeeding.

Automating Santa

In 2012, Amazon bought Kiva Systems — the maker of little orange robots that are quickly becoming the gold standard in warehouse distribution center automation.

They are proving particularly useful in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, where they move orders around massive warehouses quietly and efficiently — and without complaining about horrendous working conditions. The result: fewer human workers.

Prime Real Estate

Automation has also brought much higher productivity to Amazon’s many smaller distribution centers.

And it’s packing as many robots into each of them as it can. The company is planning on using cubic instead of square feet to measure the size of its warehouses thanks to multi-story warehouse systems, CNBC reports.

And if you’re one of the unlucky few warehouse workers working grueling overtime during the holiday season: happy holidays.

READ MORE: Reduced holiday temp hiring is a sign Amazon is turning to more automation and robots: Citi [CNBC]

More on Amazon robots: Amazon Is Ramping up Its (Still Rather) Secretive Home Robot Project

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More Robots Means Fewer Seasonal Workers for Amazon This Holiday

Doctors Can Now Prescribe FDA-Approved Drug Derived From Cannabis

Marijuana Medication

Just a few decades ago, the idea of a medical use for cannabis was little more than a pipe dream. Now, there’s a cannabis-derived drug on the market that doctors can prescribe as readily as any other medication.

As of Thursday, doctors in the nation are free to prescribe patients Epidiolex, making it the first drug on the market specifically designed to treat a rare form of childhood epilepsy. It’s also the first prescribable cannabis-derived drug.

First Step

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of Epidiolex to treat treat two rare forms of epilepsy that manifest during childhood: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

While a few treatments for the former were already available, none existed for the latter. Epidiolex showed remarkable promise during trials, though, reducing seizures by up to 40 percent.

Final Step

Even though the FDA approved Epidiolex in June, prescribing it was still illegal because the Drug Enforcement Agency classifies all forms of cannabis as a Schedule I drug — the same category that heroin and LSD fall under.

That changed on September 27 when the DEA classified Epidiolex as a Schedule V drug. That classification means that doctors in all 50 states are now as free to prescribe Epidiolex as they are cough suppressants containing small amount of codeine.

The cannabis-derived drug has already improve the lives of many of the young patients who participated in its trials, and now that it’s widely available, it has the opportunity to improve many more.

READ MORE: The First FDA-Approved Cannabis-Based Drug Is Now Available [Fast Company]

More on Epidiolex: The Digest: A Marijuana-Derived Medication Is Now Approved for Sale in the US

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Doctors Can Now Prescribe FDA-Approved Drug Derived From Cannabis

A Giant Space Laser on Earth Could Blast Messages at Alien Planets

Phone Home

Scientists have a new idea to contact alien civilizations: build a huge laser and start blasting exoplanets with messages.

We could build such a laser, according to research by MIT scientists published Monday in The Astrophysical Journal, with technology that either exists today or requires just minor developments.

Death Star

The laser is more of a homing beacon than a death ray. A one or two-megawatt laser, beamed out through a 30 to 45-meter telescope, would be powerful enough to reach planets as far as 20,000 light years away. For reference, the star nearest our sun is Proxima Centauri, which is just over four light years from us.

If any planet hit with our laser that happens, by some infinitesimally small chance, to host extraterrestrial life that had developed advanced technology, its occupants would be able to look back at Earth and see signs of life.

Waiting Game

The scientists behind this research are counting on SETI, the government agency responsible for scanning the night sky for alien life, to complete more full-sky scans and invest in the infrared technology that could help identify which distant planets likely have habitable atmospheres.

With those advances and if there are aliens out where with a laser of their own — that’s a big “if” — the researchers argue that we could have a back-and-forth conversation over decades or centuries, with each message taking many years to reach its target.

READ MORE: E.T., we’re home [MIT News]

More on the search for alien life: Scientists want Your Help Crafting a Message to Aliens

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A Giant Space Laser on Earth Could Blast Messages at Alien Planets

A New Nanobot Drills Through Your Eyeball to Deliver Drugs

Mobile Bots

Famed futurist Ray Kurzweil thinks tiny robots will flow through our bodies by 2030 to help us stay healthy. We now have one more reason to believe he’s right.

Compelling nanobots to move through liquids such as blood has proven tricky but doable. It’s been much harder to get tiny bots to navigate dense tissues, such as those found in the eyeball, without damaging them.

Thanks to a bit of design ingenuity, though, an international team of researchers has managed to create a nanobot that can do just that.

Teflon-Inspired

The team describes how a few key design features gave their propeller-shaped nanobot that unique ability in a paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

First, the bot is incredibly tiny, approximately 200 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. Second, a non-stick coating helps it slip through dense tissue. And finally, the inclusion of a bit of magnetic material in the nanobots makes them easy to steer with an external magnetic field.

To test the nanobots, the researchers injected tens of thousands of them into a dissected pig’s eye. Using a magnetic field, they were able to direct the swarm to the retina at the back of the pig’s eye — just as they’d hoped.

Drugs On Demand

Eventually, the researchers believe this technique will allow them to deliver drugs directly to hard to reach parts of the human body — not just the back of the eyeball.

“That is our vision,” researcher Tian Qiu said in a press release. “We want to be able to use our nanopropellers as tools in the minimally-invasive treatment of all kinds of diseases, where the problematic area is hard to reach and surrounded by dense tissue. Not too far in the future, we will be able to load them with drugs.”

READ MORE: Nanorobots Propel Through the Eye [Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems]

More on nanobots: Kurzweil: By 2030, Nanobots Will Flow Throughout Our Bodies

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A New Nanobot Drills Through Your Eyeball to Deliver Drugs

The Inventor of the Web Says It’s Broken and Net Neutrality Can Fix It

It’s Alive

Tim Berners-Lee, who’s often credited with inventing the World Wide Web in 1989, sees a modern Frankenstein’s Monster in how his creation is being used today.

That’s the gist of Berners-Lee’s comments at Monday’s Web Summit tech conference, where CNBC reported that he laid out ground rules for a new “Contract for the Web“and called for a return to net neutrality.

Crowd Surfing

The new contract, published by Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation, calls for safeguards that protect users’ data from being sold, stolen, or misused. Looking back at the history of the web, Berners-Lee argued that without explicit protections against them, hate speech, misinformation, and abuse have been allowed to proliferate online.

If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I would have said humanity is going to do a good job with this,” Berners-Lee told CNBC. “If we connect all these people together, they are such wonderful people they will get along. I was wrong.”

Bad Feeling

Apparently Facebook and Google, two of the largest perpetrators of privacy violations and unscrupulous online activity, have already signed onto the contract. It raises the question of how useful such an agreement could possibly be, given the fact that these tech giants are unlikely to sign anything that would hurt their bottom line.

All the same, anything that helps restore net neutrality is a good thing, especially if Berners-Lee is willing to throw his weight around.

READ MORE: The inventor of the web says the internet is now at a ‘tipping point’ — and reveals a plan to fix it [CNBC]

More on net neutrality: Net Neutrality Is Officially Gone. Here’s How This Will Affect You.

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The Inventor of the Web Says It’s Broken and Net Neutrality Can Fix It

General Motors Will Give You $10,000 to Name Its New eBike

What’s In a Name?

Want to flex your creative muscles for a chance to win $10,000?

On Friday, General Motors (GM) unveiled two new electric bike designs it plans to begin selling in 2019, one compact and the other foldable. Each boasts a pair of wheels, a battery-powered motor, and a slew of safety features. What they don’t have, though, is a name — and that’s where you come in.

Ten (eBike) Racks

In the press release announcing the new eBikes, GM also launched a contest to name its eBike brand. The person who submits the winning name will receive a prize of $10,000, while nine runners-up will each receive $1,000.

If you’d like to get in on this naming contest, you have until November 26 at 10 a.m. EST to submit your suggestion via the contest website, which includes further details.

Electric Love

GM is far from the first major auto manufacturer to design an eBike. However, it is rare to see the vehicles actually make it to market — after all, each eBike sold could translate to one fewer car sale.

Still, GM has claimed repeatedly that it is committed to electric vehicles, and the eBike could be one more example of that commitment in action.

Other than the 2019 release date, the press release is pretty short on details. How far can these eBikes travel on a single charge? Will they be part of a bike-sharing network? Who knows?

But with $10,000 up for grabs, the question most people are probably pondering is, “What the heck should we call these things?”

READ MORE: General Motors Is Building an eBike and Wants You to Name It [General Motors]

More on electric bikes: Tow an SUV With This Incredible Electric Bike

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General Motors Will Give You $10,000 to Name Its New eBike

Having a Bad Day? An Adorable Video Shows AI Learning to Get Dressed

Rise and Shine

Most animators would agree: making a cataclysmic explosion destroy a planet is easy, but human figures and delicate interactions are hard.

That’s why engineers from The Georgia Institute of Technology and Google Brain teamed up to build a cute little AI agent — an AI algorithm embodied in a simulated world — that learned to dress itself using realistic fabric textures and physics.

Blessed

The AI agent takes the form of a wobbling, cartoonish little friend with an expressionless demeanor.

During its morning routine, our little buddy punches new armholes through its shirts, gets bopped around by perturbations, dislocates its shoulder, and has an automatic gown-enrober smoosh up against its face. What a day!

Great Job!

Beyond a fun video, this simulation shows that AI systems can learn to interact with the physical world, or at least a realistic simulation of it, all on their own.

This is thanks to reinforcement learning, a type of AI algorithm where the agent learns to accomplish tasks by seeking out programmed rewards.

In this case, our little friend was programmed to seek out the warm satisfaction of a job well done, and we’re very proud.

READ MORE: Using machine learning to teach robots to get dressed [BoingBoing]

More on cutesy tech: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Amazon Warehouse Robots Slipped On Popcorn Butter

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Having a Bad Day? An Adorable Video Shows AI Learning to Get Dressed

AI Can Tell If You’re Depressed by Listening to You Talk

Diagnosing Depression

Depression can manifest with many different symptoms, from a “loss of energy” to “indecisiveness” — broad criteria that make the condition difficult to diagnose with a high degree of certainty.

Now, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory are working on an algorithm that could eliminate some of that guesswork. They used text and audio data from 142 interviews with patients — 30 of whom had been diagnosed with depression — to teach a machine learning algorithm to listen for signs of depression in speech.

Tone of Voice

What makes this effort stand out is that the researchers examined the patients’ tone of voice, not just the specific words they used. That technique made the model surprisingly accurate: It was able to identify subjects who had been diagnosed with depression with a 77 percent success rate.

But before we go on and implement AI as a tool to diagnose mental disorders in the real world, we’ll have to take these results with a substantial grain of salt.

AI Therapy

While chatbots like Woebot have recently surfaced help people to deal with depression, they won’t be able to replace a human therapist, at least for the time being.

There are far too many variables, and while 77 percent sounds promising, a false positive could raise serious ethical concerns. For instance, AI diagnostic tools could fall into the wrong hands — like your employer or insurance company.

But the researchers are realistic about their machine learning model’s ability to detect depression. Rather than replacing human therapists, they see it as another tool in [a clinician’s] toolbox,” MIT researcher James Glass, who worked on the model, told Smithsonian.

READ MORECan Artificial Intelligence Detect Depression in a Person’s Voice? [Smithsonian]

More on treating depression: New App for Depression Uses Artificial Intelligence for Therapy Treatments

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AI Can Tell If You’re Depressed by Listening to You Talk

This Gadget Tells You Exactly What Allergens You’re Inhaling

Allergic Reaction

Every minute you’re outside, you’re likely inhaling hundreds of “bioaerosols” — pollens, spores, microbes, and other tiny objects that can cause allergic reactions.

Today’s best method for measuring that allergen load is decidedly low-tech — researchers catch bioaerosols in filters or spore traps and study them under a microscope to identify each one. But a new gadget, hacked together by UCLA researchers, uses machine learning to dramatically speed up that process. Eventually, it might even give you a better sense of the air you’re breathing.

Pollen Kingdom

The UCLA researchers describe their device, which they built for less than $200 in parts, in a new paper published in the journal ACS Photonics. 

Basically, the apparatus catches bioaerosols on a sticky surface and scans them with a laser and a small sensor. Then it feeds the resulting image into a neural network trained to recognize common allergens such as oak, ragweed pollen, and certain mold spores. Finally, it tells you exactly what’s making you sneeze.

Air Apparent

Though promising, the UCLA prototype isn’t quite ready for action. Its algorithm can only recognize five allergens, and its accuracy is a good-not-great 94 percent.

But incremental improvements could result in a compelling gadget that would let you analyze the air around you — and maybe decide whether it’s time to pop an antihistamine.

READ MORE: New Mobile Device Identifies Airborne Allergens Using Deep Learning [UCLA]

More on allergies: The FDA Has Approved a Faster Way to Check for Allergies

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This Gadget Tells You Exactly What Allergens You’re Inhaling

Our Efforts to Heal the Ozone Layer Are Finally Paying Off

Good News, Everyone

It seems like every recent study on the environment has had the same takeaway: We’re heading toward a climate catastrophe.

A newly released report backed by the United Nations bucks that trend with some very positive news. It seems our global efforts to repair the ozone layer are actually paying off — and even better, future efforts already in the works have the potential to help us address global warming.

How’s that for a breath of fresh, non-toxic air?

In the Zone

Every four years, an international team of researchers releases a report focused on the state of Earth’s stratospheric ozone, a naturally occurring gas that shields the planet from ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Unfortunately, our actions on Earth have had a detrimental effect on the ozone layer. For decades, we pumped chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the air, and these depleted the ozone layer, leaving us vulnerable to that harmful UV radiation.

In 1987, the world decided to take action against this damage to the ozone layer through the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty focused primarily on the phasing out of CFCs. As of 2010, the harmful chemicals were completely banned.

Based on this newly released report, those efforts have paid off.

Ozone in certain parts of the stratosphere has increased by 1 to 3 percent every decade since 2000. Based on current projections, the ozone layer above the Northern Hemisphere will be completely healed by the 2030s, with the Southern Hemisphere following in the 2050s and the polar regions by 2060.

Building Momentum

Though the findings of this new report are promising, we are far from any sort of “mission accomplished” moment when it comes to the ozone.

We already know that not everyone is abiding by the CFC ban — looking at you, China — so we’ll need to figure out a way to address that issue.

We’re also just months away from the implementation of the Kigali Amendment, an update to the Montreal Protocol that will guide the phasing out of another type of harmful chemical, hydroflourocarbons (HFCs). This amendment has the potential to not only build on the ozone-repair efforts already in place, but also help us avoid up to 0.4 percent of global warming this century, so we’ll need to ensure the world is as committed to phasing out HFCs as it has been CFCs.

If we can do that, who knows? Maybe environmental reports containing positive news could become the norm.

READ MORE: Healing of Ozone Layer Gives Hope for Climate Action: UN Report [UN News]

More on CFCs: Report Identifies China as the Source of Ozone-Destroying Emissions

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Our Efforts to Heal the Ozone Layer Are Finally Paying Off

Go Phub Yourself: How Phones Pull You Away From Your Loved Ones

Phub off

When it comes to smartphone etiquette, we tend to be pretty rude. Most of us — 62 percent according to a new Australian poll— have checked our phone in the middle of an in-person conversation.

The people we snub the most are romantic partners and close friends, according to The Conversation, perhaps because those relationships can survive the occasional rudeness in the form of phubbing — phone snubbing.

All Night Long

Aside from commuting and lunch breaks — honestly, we get it — the most common place people phubbed was in bed, scrolling Reddit or Twitter for hours before falling asleep next to their partner, according to the research, which will be published next month in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems.

And aside from frying your eyes by staring at a bright blue screen in a dark room, phubbing could be a serious detriment to your relationships. Research published in the journalPsychology of Popular Media Culture in 2016 suggests that cell phone use — texting your bud during dinner or tweeting during movie night — can harm personal relationships and personal well-being.

Screen Time

Of course, these findings alone aren’t enough to extrapolate the future of relationships. But all signs are pointing to the increasing presence of personal technology in our lives, especially our bedrooms, are getting in the way of human intimacy.

Next time, instead of scrolling Reddit for relationship horror stories, see if you can try and prevent your own.

READ MORE: Phubbing (phone snubbing) happens more in the bedroom than when socialising with friends [The Conversation]

More on smartphones: Musk: You’ll be Able to Remote Control Your Tesla Within 6 Weeks

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Go Phub Yourself: How Phones Pull You Away From Your Loved Ones

Exercise Your Civic Duty by Shaming Your Friends Into Voting

Everyone Else Is Doing It

Barring a few special circumstances, every U.S. citizen has the right to vote — or not vote — in government elections. But don’t expect to stay home on election day guilt-free.

In the U.S., your voting record is public information — depending on the state, your record could include anything from the political party you’re affiliated with to whether or not you voted in past elections.

Now, at least two tech startups have created apps that use this information to give people an easy way to peer pressure their friends into voting.

Text the Vote

On Sunday, The New York Times published a compelling story on two political apps, VoteWithMe and Outvote. The apps pull the voting data of everyone in your contact list and group those contacts based on how engaged they are in the voting process.

You can then use the apps to encourage your contacts to vote in the coming election in several ways. For example, you could send reminders of the election date to the less-than-committed voters in your contact list or ask your more committed friends to be sure to encourage their friends to vote.

Shifting Focus

Unfortunately, these political apps might work better in theory than in practice.

First, there’s the fact that they don’t really provide a full picture of your voting history — they only show the data for the state you’re currently registered in. Then there’s the possibility that the apps might affect how people vote — not just how often.

Right now, you might not think twice about registering as a Democrat even though you work for a decidedly Republican-leaning company, but you might if you knew your boss was likely to download an app that reveals that information.

It’s a tricky situation. Democracies work best when everyone participates, but is app-delivered peer pressure really the best way to encourage a higher voter turnout in the future? Just a thought, but maybe we should all focus on securing our elections and restoring Americans’ faith in the democratic process instead.

READ MORE: Did You Vote? Now Your Friends May Know (and Nag You) [The New York Times]

More on democracy: Pre-Teen Hackers Prove It: The U.S. Election System Simply Isn’t Secure Enough

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Exercise Your Civic Duty by Shaming Your Friends Into Voting

An Ancient Star Reveals Our Galaxy Is Older Than We Thought

Old Kid on the Block

In the outer layers of the Milky Way is an old star, newly discovered by Johns Hopkins University astronomers, that might be one of the oldest in the universe.

New research which will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal describes a star with the mouthful of a name, 2MASS J18082002-5104378 B. It’s about one-sixth the size of our sun and dates back 13.5 billion years — just 300 million years younger than the entire universe.

Old-School Metal

We know this star is so old because of its metal composition. As stars die and their leftover materials form new stars, the nuclear fusion reactions that power their cores give off heavy metals like gold and platinum. The more heavy metals, the more generations a given star must have been through.

But this star, still dimly twinkling, has such a small heavy metal content that astronomers think it comes from just the second generation of all the stuff in the universe — its celestial predecessor would have been formed in the Big Bang itself. For reference, our sun first emerged many generations after that, a 4.6 billion-year-old youngster compared to 2MASS.

I Wish I Might

This star is far older than anything else found in our galaxy so far, and its discovery opens the doors to finding even older stars.

That means we may soon learn more about how the Big Bang gave rise to the universe — and a better understanding of our own origins.

READ MORE: Johns Hopkins Scientist Finds Elusive Star with Origins Close to Big Bang [Johns Hopkins University]

More on old stars: Scientists Now Know When the First Stars Formed in the Universe

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An Ancient Star Reveals Our Galaxy Is Older Than We Thought

Huge Wind Farms Could Weaken Hurricanes Before They Make Landfall

Breezing Up

The devastation of hurricanes such as Florence and Harvey is a reminder of the terrible power of storms and our apparent helplessness when they strike.

But new research suggests that there might be a way to fight hurricanes before they come ashore and it might even help generate renewable electricity.

Tilting Windmills

According to a paper published this summer in the journal Environmental Research Letters, computer simulations suggest that offshore wind turbines suck the energy out of hurricanes and force them higher into the sky, resulting in decreased rainfall and potentially less destruction when they make landfall.

“Offshore wind farms definitely could be a potential tool to weaken hurricanes and reduce their damage,” author Cristina Archer, a professor at the University of Delaware, told Popular Science. “And they pay for themselves, ultimately, which is why I am excited about this.”

Damage Plan

Today’s wind farms often switch turbines off during high winds, so current wind farms aren’t a good defense mechanism against hurricanes.

But turbines scheduled to hit the market by 2020, Archer said, will be strong enough to withstand hurricane winds — so she’s hopeful they’ll be able to protect coastal communities, and maybe even generate some electricity in the process.

READ MORE: Scientists Want to Put ‘Speed Bumps’ in Hurricane Alley to Slow Down Storms [Popular Science]

More on nanobots: Death Count from Hurricane Maria Was Way Off. That Might Slow Puerto Rico’s Recovery.

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Huge Wind Farms Could Weaken Hurricanes Before They Make Landfall

China’s New Space Station Is Called The “Heavenly Palace”

Heavenly Palace

The first components of the International Space Station (ISS) launched into space more than 20 years ago, and it’s been continuously occupied for 18. Right now, it’s the only operational space station in orbit — but that’s about to change.

China just unveiled a life-size replica of the country’s new space station at Airshow China, the largest aerospace exhibition in the country. The new station is called Tiangong, which means “Heavenly Palace” in Chinese.

American Football

The new ISS competitor’s central module is 55 feet (17 meters) long, weighs 60 tons, and can fit three astronauts. That’s actually quite a bit smaller than the ISS, which is about as large as an American football field if you count its large solar panels.

WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

The new space station will allow astronauts to conduct cutting-edge scientific research in the fields of biology and microgravity, according to the Associated Press.

The new station will technically belong to China, but will open its doors to all UN countries. Construction is expected to be completed around 2022.

Here’s to hoping that China’s new space station will fare better than the Tiangong-1 space lab, which crashed into the Pacific earlier this year after authorities lost control of it in orbit.

READ MORE: China unveils new ‘Heavenly Palace’ space station as ISS days numbered [Phys.org]

More on Tiangong-1: The Chinese Space Station Has Crashed in the Pacific. Why Was It So Hard to Track?

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China’s New Space Station Is Called The “Heavenly Palace”

SpaceX Reveals How It Would Handle an Astronaut Emergency

Ready for Anything

When it comes to space travel, we can’t overprepare — countless things could go wrong at any step in the process, and even a brief delay in response could be the difference between life and death.

To that end, Elon Musk’s SpaceX recently demonstrated it was ready to handle one of our worst-case space flight scenarios: an injured or sick astronaut.

Testing the Waters

SpaceX will eventually transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

Some of those return flights will end with the Crew Dragon splashing down in the ocean near Florida’s eastern coast. A crane aboard SpaceX’s recovery ship, GO Searcher, will then lift the craft from the water and place it onto the ship’s main deck. Doctors can then evaluate the returning crew to ensure they’re in good shape before GO Searcher heads to Cape Canaveral.

At least, that’s if everything goes according to plan. If the astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon are sick or injured, SpaceX will need to get them medical attention as quickly as possible.

To prepare for that possibility, SpaceX rehearsed a scenario in which a helicopter landed on GO Searcher. The crew then loaded a stretcher onto the aircraft for transportation to a nearby hospital. The helicopter is also equipped to transport doctors and other medical personnel to GO Searcher so they can care for patients at the ship’s medical treatment facility.

Prior Preparation

SpaceX is ahead of the game with this dress rehearsal — there isn’t even a date set yet for the first water landing of an astronaut-carrying Crew Dragon.

Still, it’s encouraging to know Elon Musk’s space company is taking every precaution to ensure it’s prepared to provide NASA astronauts with the best possible medical care long before they might ever need it.

READ MORE: SpaceX Rehearses Helicopter Landing at Sea [NASA]

More on the Commercial Crew program: NASA Announces the First Commercial Astronauts to Pilot the Next Generation of Spacecraft

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SpaceX Reveals How It Would Handle an Astronaut Emergency

China Can Now Identify a Citizen Based on Their Walk

Big Brother

China’s latest weapon in its war against citizen privacy: gait recognition software.

According to a new story by the Associated Press, police in Beijing and Shanghai are using a gait recognition system developed by artificial intelligence company Watrix to identify Chinese citizens — even when their faces aren’t visible.

Walk This Way

Watrix claims its system can identify a person from up to 165 feet away even if their back is to a camera or their face turned away. It doesn’t require any special cameras, either — it can analyze existing surveillance footage to ID an individual with 94 percent accuracy.

“You don’t need people’s cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity,” Watrix CEO Huang Yongzhen told the AP. “Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet, or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body.”

However, the software doesn’t yet work in real time. It needs roughly 10 minutes to analyze about an hour’s worth of video, during which time it extracts a person’s silhouette and then creates a model of their individual gait.

Eyes Everywhere

It’s easy to see how this technology could be useful on a smaller scale. A company could produce a database of all its employees’ gaits and then use that database to ensure unauthorized individuals aren’t in restricted areas.

It’s harder to imagine how China could make use of the technology on a nationwide scale, though.

Facial recognition tech is easy to implement because the faces of most citizens are already in government databases. Would the nation need to produce a similar database of citizen gaits? Or would the tech work retroactively — arrest someone for a crime, have them walk for you, and then compare their gait to that of the criminal caught on camera?

Whatever the case may be, police in Beijing and Shanghai are making use of this tech somehow, which means it might just be a matter of time before anyone on the move in China will find themselves under the watchful eye of the nation’s government.

READ MORE: Chinese ‘Gait Recognition’ Tech IDs People by How They Walk [Associated Press]

More on Chinese surveillance: If You Jaywalk in China, Facial Recognition Means You’ll Walk Away With a Fine

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China Can Now Identify a Citizen Based on Their Walk