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Space for Humanity sends out a global call for citizen astronauts with a cause

Space for Humanity sends out a global call for citizen astronauts with a causeRENTON, Wash. Space for Humanity is looking for more than a few good astronauts. The Colorado-based nonprofit group today opened up an online application process for expense-paid trips to the edge of space, with the goal of giving citizen astronauts a sense of planetary perspective known as the Overview Effect. This is actually Space for Humanity's second solicitation, following up on an initial call that went out two years ago. Like that earlier campaign, today's follow-up was unveiled in conjunction with the Space Frontier Foundation's NewSpace conference. The objective of the campaign is to raise global awareness about the Read More

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 02:01:17 -0400
Apollo 11: The inside story from rivalry between the astronauts to Buzz Aldrin's secret tragedy

Apollo 11: The inside story from rivalry between the astronauts to Buzz Aldrin's secret tragedyFifty years ago, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. Here, Robert Stone and Alan Andrestellthe story of a journey that changed the world It was a glorious New York tradition, which originated at the end of the 19th century with the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Since then Manhattan had held more than 160ticker-tape parades to celebrate visits from kings, queens, generals, sports heroes, explorers, and aviators. When the astronauts of Apollo 8 [the first mission to take humans to the vicinity of the moon] arrived in the city in early January 1969, there was no question: a ticker-tape parade was obligatory. More than 200 tons of confetti and scrap paper were transformed into a chaotic celebratory blizzard by the force of the bitter January winds rushing down the canyon of SixthAvenue. [The astronauts] Frank Borman, Jim Lovell,and Bill Anders smiled and waved at the hundreds of thousands of well-wishers. When the motorcade crossed on to Broadway, [they] noticed that the avenues signs had been changed to read Apollo Way. At precisely the same moment, journalists were gathering in an auditorium in Houston to meet another Apollo crew. Here there were no celebrations or marching bands. Instead, Nasa was introducing the newly named crew of what was expected to be the first mission to attempt a landing on the moon in just six months. Space fever started in early 1969 with a ticker-tape parade in New York to celebrate the Apollo 8 astronauts the first to reach the vicinity of the moon Credit: GETTY IMAGES Unlike the Apollo 8 crew, the Apollo 11 crew Neil Armstrong, the commander; Buzz Aldrin, the lunar-module pilot; and Michael Collins, the command-module pilot who would remain in orbit above the moon as the lunar module [known as Eagle] attempted its landing were fairly reserved when appearing in public. A perfectionist, Armstrong personified the disciplined,conscientious test pilot. His calm, soft-spoken style was the antithesis of the macho jet-jockey stereotype. Still, Armstrongs jet combat experience during the Korean War, while flying the experimental X-15 rocket plane [was] legendary. Ambitious and brilliant, Aldrin was a [strong] choice to serve as the lunar-module pilot. His intense personality was nearly the opposite of Armstrongs, whose deceptive lack of ego could make him disappear in a crowd. The lift-off of Saturn V, which propelled Apollo 11 from Earth, 16 July 1969 Credit: NASA During the Houston press conference, Aldrin revealed that his late mothers maiden name was Marion Moon. However, [he had] a sad secret. His mothers death the previous year had been the result of an overdose of sleeping pills, and he blamed himself for her suicide. She had struggled with depression in the past, and as attention surrounding her famous son increased, so did her anxiety, which proved overwhelming. Despite their contrasting temperaments Armstrong deceptively affectless and placid, Aldrin intense and focused both were as competitive as the other alpha-male astronauts. The Apollo 11 astronauts: Buzz Aldrin (left), Michael Collins (top) and Neil Armstrong (right), photographed with their wives and children Credit: GETTY IMAGES From the gallery of journalists came the inevitable question: Which one of you gentlemen will be the first man to step on the lunar surface? Aldrin had begun training for the lunar extravehicularactivity and had reason to assume that, as the lunar-module pilot, he would be the first to set foot on the moon, with Armstrong following him 40 minutes later. However, whenArmstrong answered the question, he revealed, uncomfortably, The current plan calls for one astronaut to be on the surface for approximately three-quarters of an hour prior to the second mans emergence. Now, which person is which has not been decided up to this point. Aldrin also left open the question of who would be first man. Outwardly, neither man showed much emotion about thematter. But the tension in the room did not go unnoticed. A solution arose out of practical necessity. The designers of the lunar module had placed the hinge of the square exit door on its right side. When the door opened inward, the lunar-module pilots movement within the spacecrafts cramped interior was confined; only the commander, on the left side of the cabin, had sufficient room to exit. Therefore, the commander would have to exit first and reenter last. Aldrin was disappointed but professionally stoic whenever the issue was discussed. Neil Armstrongs shadow on the surface of the moon Credit: NASA Although he received slightly less attention than his crewmates, Michael Collins [was] more socially at ease than they were. [He] possessed an observant eye and an understated wit. Collins described the Apollo 11 crew as amiable strangers, in contrast to other crews like Apollo 8, who bonded far more easily. For Collins, the unique personal challenges were of an entirely different sort. By remaining in the command module [known as Columbia] in orbit above the moon while his crewmates were on the surface, he would experience a form of solitude unknown to any [other] human being. During 47 minutes of each lunar orbit, Collins would be cut off from all communication and any sign of life. On one side of the moon would be the Earth, with its three billion inhabitants as well as Armstrong and Aldrin. On the other side would be Collins, entirely alone. Many camped out on beaches and roads close to the Kennedy Space Center before the launch Credit: NASA Apollo 11s chosen landing site was a relatively leveland smooth area in the Sea of Tranquillity, near the lunar equator. Should the moonwalk proceed as planned, the Apollo 11 crew would deploy a small array of scientificexperiments, including a seismometer, a device to measure the solar wind, and an optical reflector. It was hoped the latter would aid in determining the precise distance between the Earth and moon within an accuracy of about 3cm by using a laser beam sent from an Earth observatory station. In early spring, Nasa convened a Committee on Symbolic Articles Related to the First Lunar Landing [which] resolved that nothing during the lunar landing should suggest the United States was laying claim to the moons sovereignty. The State Department endorsed the idea of displaying the flagof the United Nations, a proposal that was immediately rejected by the Nixon White House. As a compromise, the committee recommended that the American flag be planted in the lunar soil and that the achievements larger humancontext would be conveyed by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque with a text that would be read aloud during the first moonwalk. The committee would not make any recommendations about one aspect of the mission that was increasingly invested with suspense: what Armstrong should say when taking his first step on another world. The Saturn V rocket prepares to launch Apollo 11 into space Credit: NASA Armstrong was admired for his emotional stability, lack of ego, and ability to make split-second decisions when under pressure. However, among his peers, he was one of the least compelling public speakers. He would now be placed in a situation that had already been imagined by scores of writers, filmmakers and illustrators. Esquire magazine commissioned a cover story that asked, What words should the first man on the moon utter that will ring through the ages? When questioned about it in early July, Armstrong grinned and merely said he hadnt given [the words] any consideration. In fact, one story indicates that, contrary to what he attested, he did do some advance preparation. Armstrongs brother, Dean, recalls that during a lull in a board game they were playing a few weeks before the launch, Neil handed his brother a piece of paper on which he had written a few words. He didnt explain the context, but none was necessary. Dean Armstrong sensed his brother wanted some feedback. He responded with one word: Fabulous. Primed and ready at the Launch Control Center, Nasa Kennedy Space Center Credit: GETTY IMAGES On the morning of Wednesday 16 July 1969, a fewjournalists assembled near the exit door of theKennedy Space Centers Operations Building before sunrise to catch a glimpse of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins as they boarded the white transport van that would drive them to the launchpad. When the trio exited the building, carrying their suitcase-size portable air-conditioning and ventilation units, they waved to the small crowd. One eyewitness compared it to watching Columbus sail out of port. An hour before launch, recognisable faces [began] arriving at the space centre. Vice President Spiro Agnew arrived with a contingent from the White House. Since on orders from the Apollo flight surgeon, President Nixon had been prevented from dining with the astronauts the evening before the launch, he remained at the White House, where he prepared to watch the TV coverage with [Apollo 8s] Frank Borman, and made plans to greet the crew on their return. We have a lift-off: 8.32am (EST), 16 July 1969 Credit: NASA The television cameras followed the arrival of former president Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson.The immediate suspense was heightening as the steady voice of Cape Canaverals veteran public-affairs announcer Jack King chronicled each moment of the countdown. Twelve, eleven, ten, nine, ignition sequence start. Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. Though his voice remained calm, the emotion of the moment affected Kings delivery, and he could be heard slightly stumbling his words as he said, All engine run-ning. Quickly recovering his composure, he continued, Lift-off! We have a lift-off, 32 minutes past the hour. Lift-off on Apollo 11. A wave of bodies rose to their feet, as everyone strained to get a better view and position their snapshot and 8mm movie cameras. Lady Bird Johnson beamed under a plastic cowboy hat. To her left, her husband watched the slow progress of the Saturn V. Former president Lyndon Johnson and Vice President Spiro Agnew watch as Apollo 11 is blasted into the sky Credit: NASA A few seconds after the billowing clouds at the base of the pad and the brilliant flame of the Saturns engines became visible, the observers heard a rolling and overpowering roar. With it came a buffeting concussive shock wave of pressure that could be felt through the ground and in the air pushing against their chests and eardrums. The violent controlled combustion needed to lift6.5 million pounds away from the force of the Earths gravity was an unequalled engineering achievement and remains unequalled half a century later. The spacesuit | Apollo 11 By late morning of Apollo 11s fourth day, the crew had been in lunar orbit for nearly 24 hours. Armstrong and Aldrin had checked out all systems on the lunar module Eagle and were preparing to separate it from the Columbia module. It was 20 July. Not long after Armstrong and Aldrin in the Eagle and Collins in Columbia reported that they had successfully undocked, the two spacecraft disappeared into radio silence as their orbits took them around the moons far side. In Houston, those in Mission Control knew that one of three possible scenarios could play out within the next 90 minutes. The lunar module would either crash, abort the landing attempt, or successfully touch down on the lunar surface. [Nasas second chief flight director] Gene Kranz addressed the White House team over a private audio channel. The hopes and the dreams of the entire world are with us. This is our time and our place, and we will remember this day and what we will do here always. Despite months of planning, the landing sequence contained hundreds of unknowns that could compromise the mission. Amid the curt audio communications peppered with technical acronyms, Armstrong and Aldrin offered few signs that revealed what they were feeling. Their voices remained alert and focused. Suddenly, in the midst of the data-filled transmissions, both Armstrong and Aldrin called attention to a computer-program alarm unknown to them. The Moon Landing (article) There was a sudden atypical urgency in Armstrongs voice as he mentioned it and then followed with a request to Mission Control for an explanation. It was a moment of added suspense that no one had expected. Had the alarm occurred during a practise simulation on the ground, a landing abort would likely have resulted. But the first powered descent to the lunar surface 239,000 miles from home was a rather different situation. Armstrong was determined to land successfully. His instincts proved right. The alarm had been caused by an unintended information-overflow problem in the lunar modules guidance system. Apollo 11 commander Armstrong leads the way from the Kennedy Space Center to the launchpad Credit: getty images Armstrongs attention soon turned to a bigger concern: the available fuel for the descent engine was running low as Eagle approached the moons surface. He had a good idea of his height as he came in for the landing, but he needed to find a safe location. There were more large craters than hed expected. His view of the surface was also becoming obscured as a mist of lunar-dust particles was agitated by the descent engines exhaust plume. Armstrong hovered above the moons surface while gently manoeuvring the lunar module to find the best landing spot. More than a half minute passed beyond the projected touchdown time. The descent engines fuel was running dangerously low, with only a few seconds of propellant remaining. In Houston there was still no word whether they had landed. Contact light, Aldrin announced. A moment later Armstrong responded, Shutdown. Armstrong later said he neither saw the contact light illuminate nor heard Aldrin announce it. The landing was so smooth, Armstrong couldnt even tell the precise moment when they were on the surface. This was the climax of the mission, in Armstrongs mind. The first step and moonwalk to come a few hours later were secondary. Then from the moon came the official word as Armstrong announced, Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. Aldrin prepares to take his first step on the moon Credit: NASA In New Yorks Central Park, a crowd had gathered to watch the moonwalk broadcast on a large screen. Unfortunately it was beginning to rain, and preparations and depressurising the lunar modules cabin took far longer than expected. Movement inside the small cabin while wearing the stiffened pressure suits and large backpack life-support units was proving cumbersome. Rather than 9pm, it was a little after 10.30pm when the door of the lunar module was pulled inward to open. [The] spectral, shadowy images [broadcast on televisions around the world came] from a small Westinghouse television camera, which Armstrong had deployed by pulling a release mechanism as he inched feet-first out of the lunar module. Aldrin poses beside the US flag, which was reinforced with metal so it appears to fly on the windless lunar surface Credit: NASA The television camera had been added to the lander very late in its development, and only after [Nasas assistant administrator of public affairs] Julian Scheer had learnt that the only broadcast camera scheduled to fly to the moon was the one designed exclusively for the command module. The picture was ghostly, but Armstrong could be seen descending the ladder of the lunar module. From a position at the bottom of the landers footpad, Armstrong provided an initial report. The surface appears to be very, very fine grained Its almost like a powder. And then, after an extended pause, Armstrong delivered the words for which he will be forever known: Thats one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Aldrin deploys two components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package Credit: NASA Armstrongs training for that first step included one bizarre precaution for a wildly unlikely scenario. Some lunar scientists theorised that the moons surface might be combustible and that when Armstrongs boot came into contact with the lunar soil, it could set off a reaction. Everyone thought the chances of this occurring highly remote, but to be safe Armstrong was advised to touch the heel of his boot gently upon the lunar surface when extending his initial step. After taking a few more steps and bending his knees in the suit, Armstrong reported that he was experiencing no trouble walking or moving around. His initial tasks before Aldrin joined him were to obtain a soil sample and take some photographs. After the sample was placed in a pouch attached to his leg, Armstrong took a panorama of the barren, flat landscape. He reported that he found it starkly beautiful, not unlike the high desert of California. Its different, but its very pretty out here. Aldrins reaction when he joined Armstrong on the lunar surface was Magnificent desolation. Earth photographed from the surface of the moon Credit: NASA The harsh sunlight was coming from an angle 14 degrees above the horizon, this being a lunar morning, which would last longer than an entire Earth day. The relatively low angle of the sun also meant the lunar surface hadnt yet reached the maximum temperature of 127C. Armstrong and Aldrins first ceremonial task was to remove a protective metal cover from the memorial plaque. Scheer had drafted the initial text, but [a] White House speechwriter had insisted on adding A.D. (Anno Domini) after July 1969 so as to subtly acknowledge God. The final plaque read: Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, a.d. we came in peace for all mankind. When, shortly after landing on the lunar surface, Aldrin had requested that every person listening in pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way, few were aware he was in the process of taking communion with a small bit of bread, a plastic vial of wine and a silver chalice. A second silent religious observance during the moonwalk may have occurred as well. Film-maker Theo Kamecke spoke with Neil Armstrongs grandmother shortly after the moon landing. Neil made me a promise, she told him. He promised the first thing he would do when he stepped on the moon was to say a prayer. Kamecke concluded that this explained Armstrongs unusually long pause when he stepped off the lunar module; he was saying a silent prayer just between him and the universe. Joan Aldrin, centre, applauds her husbands arrival back to Earth as she watches TV coverage Credit: GETTY IMAGES It was estimated that when Armstrong and Aldrin unveiled the plaque, one-fifth of the worlds population 600 million people was watching. After mounting the small Westinghouse camera on a tripod to offer a long shot of their working area in front of the lunar module, Aldrin decided to give viewers a spontaneous demonstration. First he walked at a regular pace, then he tried a kangaroo hop; he followed that with a manoeuvre in which he moved rapidly and then attempted to change direction by countering his momentum, putting his foot out to the side and making a cutting motion, which he likened to a football player dodging down a field. Never forgetting the small television camera watching him, Aldrin made an effort to remain within the lenss field of view. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the moonwalk. President Richard Nixon speaks on the phone to Armstrong from the White House Credit: NASA Before Armstrong and Aldrin deployed a small array of scientific instruments, there were two other ceremonial duties to perform. The first was the erection of the American flag, which had been outfitted with a simple metallic support to fully display it in the windless lunar environment. The second was a live telephone call from President Richard Nixon in the White House, [which he] described as the most historic telephone call ever to be made from the White House. As you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquillity, Nixon said, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquillity to Earth. For one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth. Now all attention was focused on the lunar modules powered ascent from the surface, a procedure that had never been attempted, even by an automated spacecraft. There existed no contingency backup should the lunar modules ascent engine fail to operate properly. If it didnt work, Collins would be forced to return alone. At the New York Daily News, a typesetter had already prepared a special disaster edition of the paper if the astronauts were stranded on the moon. It was a stark front page with a one-word headline: Marooned! Fortunately, Eagles launch countdown proceeded flawlessly. The ascent engine worked perfectly, and the subsequent rendezvous and docking with the command module in lunar orbit [were] almost routine. All that remained was leaving lunar orbit and re-entry. Eight months earlier, the idea of executing both of these procedures had been fraught with suspense. Now, compared to what had just been accomplished, they seemed business as usual. Armstrong (right), Aldrin and Collins inside the quarantine vehicle where they stayed for 21 days Credit: GETTY IMAGES Minutes after Columbias successful splashdown, the trio was required to don biological isolationgarments, and the men were then helicoptered [to] a specially prepared sealed living area constructed from a converted Airstream trailer. This would serve as a temporary quarantine facility until their return to Houston where they would spend the remainder of a planned 21-day period of isolation. All these precautions stemmed from the remote possibility that the astronauts could return with an unknown contagion. When Nixon finally came face-to-face with the Apollo 11 crew, they looked at one another through a small plate-glass window and relied on microphones and speakers. Standing outside the trailer, Nixon awkwardly engaged in small talk about baseballs All-Star Game before pronouncing the recent events, the greatest week in the history of the world since the creation. Nixon was as intoxicated by the moon landing as much of the world He invited the crew to be honoured with the largest presidential state dinner ever planned. Aldrin, Collins and Armstrong wave to the crowds from an open-top car during the New York parade Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Dinner of the Century, as the Los Angeles event a month later was nicknamed, was conceived as both a national patriotic observance and a television spectacular. Massive ticker-tape parades in New York and Chicago had greeted the astronauts [before] they flew to the West Coast for the event. A long calendar of tributes, parades, formal dinners and award ceremonies continued as the three men undertook an exhausting 37-day round-the-world Giant Leap Goodwill Tour. Apollo demonstrated to the world that not only was itpossible to dream the impossible dream, but it wasachievable. While the world of the late 1960s was rife withturmoil and division, a better future seemed certain. Abridged extract from Chasing the Moon: The Story of the Space Race from Arthur C Clarke to the Moon Landings, by Robert Stone and Alan Andres (William Collins, 20). To order your copyfor the discounted price of 16.99, visit books.telegraph.co.uk

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 02:00:00 -0400
The Weather Channel's moon landing simulation is real extra

The Weather Channel's moon landing simulation is real extraLook, we're all psyched about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20 -- but The Weather Channel is really, really into it. And we mean into it -- as in, they've literally inserted themselves into it.Not satisfied with the (definitely not filmed on a soundstage) original footage, they've created an Immersive Mixed Reality (IMR) simulation that does the absolute most.It starts with TWC host and meteorologist Jim Cantore standing on the moon, obviously. He's surrounded by a forest of CGI features, from Apollo 11 astronauts descending from the command module and sweeping aerodynamic patterns glowing in mid-air, to an American flag planted in the moon-dirt.It then dives dizzyingly to follow the module back to Earth, where co-host Tevin Wooten is hanging out on the U.S.S. Hornet to talk you through the retrieval mission.Be warned, the module's fiery blasters seem to come out of nowhere and are really in your face upon return.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 00:43:06 -0400
One more step to the moon: Blue Origin fires BE-7 lander engine for full 6 minutes

One more step to the moon: Blue Origin fires BE-7 lander engine for full 6 minutesRENTON, Wash. Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture says it has test-fired its BE-7 rocket engine for the full six-minute duration it would need for a landing on the moon. The hot-fire test, conducted just a few days ago at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, follows up on a series of shorter-duration tests that began a month ago. "We're very excited," Patrick Zeitouni, Blue Origin's head of advanced development programs, said here at the Space Frontier Foundation's NewSpace conference. "That means we're getting a whole lot closer to getting that engine fielded," he said. "And Read More

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 00:04:22 -0400
Preparing and Dressing Apollo 11s Crew for the New Frontier

Preparing and Dressing Apollo 11s Crew for the New FrontierHundreds of employees at ILC Dover worked on the Apollo 11 space suits, which required inspections for each and every adjustment.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 00:01:55 -0400
China's New Nasdaq-Style Venue Set for Monday Trading Start

China's New Nasdaq-Style Venue Set for Monday Trading Start(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.Less than a year after President Xi Jinping first touted the project, Chinas new stock venue designed for technology startups will start trading on Monday.Twenty-five companies will be part of the launch in Shanghai, out of the more than 100 hopefuls that applied to go public on the platform. Endorsement from top officials helped generate such enthusiasm that the firms raised a combined $5.4 billion, about 20% more than planned. Demand from retail investors has outstripped supply by an average 1,800 times, even as some analysts voiced concern over lofty valuations. One company priced its shares at 171 times earnings.The first-batch listings are expected to be boosted by investor demand, said Mark Huang, an analyst at Bright Smart Securities. Theres a good chance well see a rush into these stocks due to the limited supply.Modeled after the Nasdaq Stock Market in the U.S., the so-called STAR board is Chinas latest attempt to avoid losing the next Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. or Tencent Holdings Ltd. to exchanges in New York or Hong Kong. Its also a testing ground for regulators, who have waived rules on valuations and first-day price limits for the first time since 2014. The venue will be the first in China to welcome companies that have yet to make a profit, as well as shares with unequal voting rights.The listing companies include China Railway Signal & Communication Corporation Ltd. -- already listed in Hong Kong -- and gastrointestinal equipment maker Micro-Tech (Nanjing) Co. Ltd. Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment Inc., which sells products used to make semiconductors, is the most expensive stock of the batch. Its 171 multiple compares with an average of 53 times for the group, and 33 for similar stocks on other Chinese venues.Two more firms joined the queue on Friday. Amlogic (Shanghai) Co. and Shanghai Friendess Electronic Technology are aiming to raise a combined 2 billion yuan ($291 million), according to their prospectuses.Despite the hype, there are questions about whether the excitement will give way to the lukewarm sentiment thats blanketing the worlds second-largest equity market. On the other hand, a sustained period of ultra-high demand risks draining funds other exchanges, where volumes are shrinking. Mainland markets sank earlier this month after China announced the STAR boards official start date.Its not the first time China has sought to create an alternative venue for smaller companies. The ChiNext board was launched in Shenzhen almost a decade ago with fewer listing requirements than the main venues. The tech-heavy exchange was at the center of a spectacular boom and bust in 2015 that burned hordes of novice traders. Officials will be keen to avoid such extreme volatility -- the ChiNext remains more than 60% below its peak four years ago.Shares on the STAR board will have no daily price limits for the first five trading days, followed by a 20% cap in either direction. To limit volatility, the venue will feature a mechanism that suspends activity for 10 minutes if a stock moves by 30% and then 60% from the opening price in the first five trading days, a wider band than the rest of the stock market.The STAR boards launch dovetails with Beijings pledge to boost direct financing for companies struggling to raise funds, and has taken on added significance as heightened trade tensions with the U.S. threaten Chinas technology supply chain.Its one of Chinas key strategies to support technological innovation, said Zhang Yankun, fund manager at Beijing Hone Investment Management Co. If investors can get decent returns from these listings, it would attract more money to the sector and help Chinas capital market compete with developed markets.(Updates with new candidates in sixth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Irene Huang and Lujia Yu.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Ken Wang in Beijing at ywang1690@bloomberg.net;Evelyn Yu in Shanghai at yyu263@bloomberg.net;Fox Hu in Hong Kong at fhu7@bloomberg.net;Ludi Wang in Shanghai at lwang191@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sofia Horta e Costa at shortaecosta@bloomberg.net;Sam Mamudi at smamudi@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 22:44:59 -0400
Machine-meshed super-humans remain stuff of fantasy

Machine-meshed super-humans remain stuff of fantasyA bold vision by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk to mesh human brains with artificial intelligence remains more science fiction than reality. Musk, founder of the automaker Tesla and the private space firm SpaceX, has long contended that a neural lace meshing minds with machines is vital if humans are to avoid being outpaced by artificial intelligence. "A monkey has been able to control a computer with his brain, just FYI," Musk said, surprising the Neuralink president during a question-and-answer session.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 21:43:05 -0400
Vodafone Idea Picks Banks for $1.9 Billion Fiber Sale

Vodafone Idea Picks Banks for $1.9 Billion Fiber Sale(Bloomberg) -- Vodafone Idea Ltd. has hired Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley to help sell its fiber assets as Indias largest mobile carrier by users seeks to bolster its finances, people familiar with the matter said.The bankers will initiate discussions with potential buyers for the fiber assets, which could be valued at as much as 130 billion rupees ($1.9 billion), the people said, asking not be identified as the talks are private.A final decision has yet to be made on the valuation and the stake to be sold, and the company could bring in more banks for the sale, the people said. Representatives for Vodafone Idea and Morgan Stanley declined to comment, while a Bank of America spokesman didnt immediately respond to requests for comments.A deal, if successful, would help the phone-service provider add to the funds its been raising to pare debt and fend off rivals Bharti Airtel Ltd. and billionaire Mukesh Ambanis Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., an upstart that upended the market after its debut in 2016. In April, Vodafone Idea raised 250 billion rupees from a rights issue, building a war chest as India readies for a 5G network.Vodafone Idea, which was formed by the merger of Vodafone Group Plcs local unit with tycoon Kumar Mangalam Birlas Idea Cellular Ltd., has reported losses in every quarter since the deal was announced in 2017.Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea top the list of Asian peers with highest borrowings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Mumbai-based Vodafone Idea is in the process of transferring all of its fiber assets into a separate company before the sale. The unit has about 158,000 kilometers (98,177 miles) of fiber, according to a presentation posted on its website in February.Shares of Vodafone Idea fell 5.4% on Thursday, the biggest drop in almost two months. The stock declined 50% this year, while Indias benchmark Sensex index rose 7.8%.(Updates to add shares performance in the final paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Baiju Kalesh in Mumbai at bkalesh@bloomberg.net;P R Sanjai in Mumbai at psanjai@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at fli59@bloomberg.net;Sam Nagarajan at samnagarajan@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 21:17:10 -0400
Billionaire Premji Helps Create Indias Newest Tech Unicorn

Billionaire Premji Helps Create Indias Newest Tech Unicorn(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Azim Premji has helped create Indias latest tech unicorn: a fast-rising software startup that symbolizes the growing investor interest in the Asian nations enterprise technology space.Icertis, which competes with SAP SE and Oracle Corp. to help businesses manage contracts in the cloud, has raised $115 million, propelling it to unicorn status as investors flock to enterprise software makers.The advanced-stage funding round in Bellevue, Washington and Pune, India-based Icertis was co-led by Greycroft Partners LLC and PremjiInvest, the fund managed by the family office of Indian tech billionaire Premji. Existing investors including B Capital Group, Eight Roads Ventures and Cross Creek Advisors participated. With this, Icertis has raised over $211 million.The enterprise software segment is heating up as investors from Tiger Global Management to Sequoia and Accel scour the industry for Indias next startup giants. Many are expected to be business- rather than consumer-focused, as the countrys talent pool shifts from IT outsourcing services for global clients toward designing and providing online software.Icertis said it now helps customers worldwide manage over 5.7 million contracts, from supply chain and procurement deals to employee agreements and nondisclosure pacts, that have a total value of more than $1 trillion.As contracts get converted from static documents to digital assets for the first time in history, every dollar in or out is governed by a contract, putting them at the heart of every enterprise, said Samir Bodas, Icertiss co-founder and chief executive officer. Every global company faces unprecedented global competition and needs software to manage contracts.Icertis is currently valued at well north of one billion dollars, Bodas added. The company will use the additional funding to grow its business, including by expanding sales and marketing. Global compliance demands involving Brexit, tariffs, European data privacy regulations as well as rapid digitization has worked in Icertiss favor, while technologies like artificial intelligence helped enhance the sophistication of its services.We have been able to ride the technology wave and assert leadership in the space despite large competitors, Bodas said, citing consultancies Forrester Research and Gartner.Icertis works on a subscription model, charging customers based on the number of contracts drawn up and tracked using its software. MGI Research forecasts the total spending by companies for such contract management at over $20 billion from 2018 to 2022, with services on the cloud growing around 37% annually over the same period.Founded in 2009 when Bodas and friend Monish Darda began exploring cloud-based applications, Icertis in 2015 homed in on building a contract management platform. Today, more than 600 of its 850 employees are based in Pune, where the product is developed. The startup operates a dozen offices from Sofia to Sydney.(Corrects wording to reflect right definition in fourth-to-last paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Saritha Rai in Bangalore at srai33@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 21:07:49 -0400
Iceland tries to bring back trees razed by the Vikings

Iceland tries to bring back trees razed by the VikingsBefore being colonised by the Vikings, Iceland was lush with forests but the fearsome warriors razed everything to the ground and the nation is now struggling to reforest the island. When seafaring Vikings set off from Norway and conquered the uninhabited North Atlantic island at the end of the ninth century, forests, made up mostly of birch trees, covered more than a quarter of the island. Within a century, the settlers had cut down 97 percent of the original forests to serve as building material for houses and to make way for grazing pastures.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 19:59:02 -0400
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