Outtakes

Swiss company SolarStratos recently achieved its first successful flight of its two-seat solar aircraft. The aircraft uses electricity harnessed from approximately 238 square feet of solar cells spread across its 82-foot wingspan to power the vehicle for 24 hours straight. Weighing in at about 992 pounds gross and with a 28-foot-long fuselage, SolarStratos engineers estimate the aircraft will be 90 percent efficient. And while the recent flight reached 1,000 feet, the goal of SolarStratos is to reach 83,000 feet.
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According to a new report by Nokia, cybercrime us shifting its way faster and faster to the mobile space. Nokia’s latest “Threat Intelligence Report” said that malware infections on mobile devices reached an all-time high in 2016, rising almost 400 percent in the past year. The report said that Android phones are the most vulnerable phones, representing 81 percent of malware infections in the second half of 2016, while iPhones and other mobile devices made up only 4 percent of attack victims. To read the rest of Nokia’s findings, you can find the report here.
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Aviation startup Kitty Hawk has unveiled the prototype of its first personal flying vehicle. The company says that the ultralight, all-electrical aircraft can even fly over water and a pilot’s license won’t be needed. “We hope that this is more of an exciting concept than what most people have had in their minds about flying cars,” said Kitty Hawk aerospace engineer and test pilot Cameron Robertson. The company says it hopes to have a retail product by the end of 2017.
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The Dubai police force welcomed a new recruit recently: the world’s first operational robot officer. Dubbed “Robocop,” the robot stands just under six-feet-tall and weighs 220 pounds and is fully capable of engaging with residents and tourists through features like an “emotion detector” and the ability to read body language from five feet away. Robocop can also speak six languages, answer questions, shake hands, military salute and most importantly, can spot criminal offenders using facial recognition. "With an aim to assist and help people in the malls or on the streets," said Brigadier-General Khalid Nasser Al Razzouqi, director-general of smart services at Dubai Police, "the Robocop is the latest smart addition to the force and has been designed to help us fight crime, keep the city safe and improve happiness levels."
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Everybody wishes they had a secret life as a powerful, famous individual. But when you’re powerful and famous, what do you wish for? For King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, it’s to be a commercial airline pilot. Recently the king told Holland’s Telegraaf newspaper that he’s been moonlighting a few times a month for a KLM airlines affiliate for more than two decades flying the airline’s Cityhopper flights and now he’s training to take on a Boeing 737. "You can completely switch off and focus on something else," he told the Telegraaf. He said it is impossible to fly a plane if you bring "problems from the ground with you." KLM pilot Maarten Putman, who regularly flies with the King, told the Telegraaf that Willem-Alexander is an excellent co-pilot.
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The lunar sample bag that NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong broke back from the Apollo 11 moon landing could soon be yours, if the price is right. The bag, which still contains traces of moon dust will be auctioned off at Sotherby’s in New York on July 20, the anniversary of the moon landing. It is expected to fetch between $2-4 million. It’s not the first time the bag has been up for auction. The government lost track of the bag until a few years ago when it was bought at an auction by an Illinois woman for less than $1,000. The bag was found in the garage of the president of a Kansas space museum who was arrested for stealing artifacts that were donated by the government. The bag was confiscated and mistakenly labeled as a bag from the Apollo 17 space mission, which would have been worth significantly less. The bag was offered up for auction several times by the U.S. Marshal’s office until finally it received the $995 bid. After getting the bag authenticated, it was discovered that the bag was actually from Apollo 11 and a lengthy court battle between NASA and the winning bidder ensued with courts ultimately ruling in her favor. For more on the bizarre journey of the lunar sample bag, check out this piece in the Washington Post.
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The folks at Disney have filed a patent application which could bring “humanoid” robots to their parks. The patent is for a “soft body robot for physical interaction with humans" that would act like an animated character. The sketches included in the patent resemble that of Baymax from the company’s 2014 film “Big Hero 6.” The robot described in the patent application has soft, squeezable skin that supports “playful physical interaction,” posable joints, and pressure sensors that “sense contact and provide protection to the child and robot while interacting.” Disney’s droids are meant to be “huggable and interactive,” so that children at the park could play with them in a fun and safe manner, according to the filing. Disney filed the patent application in February 2016 and it was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office last week.
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According to a new study by advisory firm Korn Ferry, salaries for new engineering graduates are at an all-time high.
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Back in 2015, e-commerce giant Amazon had a great idea: free bananas to anyone who wanted one. So the company opened up a community banana stand on its Seattle campus and has been giving them away ever since. Now, according to Amazon, they’ve given out their one millionth banana and are averaging about 5,000 a day. Bananas are free to literally anyone, says Amazon, not just company employees. “Bananas are a great healthy snack with built-in compostable packaging,” an Amazon spokesman said in a statement. “We hope the community likes it, and if they do, we’ll keep doing it.”
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NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer each took part in a spacewalk recently on board the International Space Station to repair a faulty computer and install a data cable on the craft. The repairs took the crew three hours which was long enough to circle the earth nearly twice. Whitson, the current commander of the ISS, spent enough time outside to reach third place for most time spend on spacewalks at 60 hours and 21 minutes. And while an emergency spacewalk isn’t entirely rare, it’s not common either. The last emergency walk occurred in 2015.
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After a record-breaking 718 consecutive days in orbit, the United States Air Force’s X-37B space plane landed recently landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight, which is part of the USAF’s Orbital Test Vehicle program, added to the total amount of days spent in orbit for the program putting it at 2,085. "The landing of OTV-4 marks another success for the X-37B program and the nation," said Lt. Col. Ron Fehlen, X-37B program manager. "This mission once again set an on-orbit endurance record and marks the vehicle's first landing in the state of Florida. We are incredibly pleased with the performance of the space vehicle and are excited about the data gathered to support the scientific and space communities. We are extremely proud of the dedication and hard work by the entire team." While the next launch of the X-37B will take place at some point this year, the bigger mystery remains what the mission of the program might be. The details remain classified.
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Microsoft’s Minecraft Education Edition will be getting a Codebuilder add-on. Students will be able to learn how to code by traveling around the pivelated universe and typing “/code” which will bring up a list of snippets and commands. Using the popular Tynker plugin kids can place blocks of code with ease and produce instant, recognizable results. Minecraft's code-builder "Agent" allows kids to visualize code being executed in real time, performing loops to craft buildings, for example. “One of the things we talk a lot about...is the creator in us all,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an interview with Marketplace. “It's that moment when the students say, ‘wow, look what I did.’ And I see it with my own daughters when they come and show me something that they did. That's the brand. I always feel that Microsoft is at best when we are right behind that moment of creation whether it's a developer or a student. It's their success with our technology that we should celebrate. That's who we are.” The beta version is available now here.
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SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon rocket from Cape Canaveral on May 1 in a top-secret mission to help boost a spy satellite into orbit for the U.S. military. It was the 34th launch for Elon Musk’s commercial spaceflight company.
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When the United Launch Alliance sends their Atlas V rocket into space on April 18, it will mark the end of an era for NASA TV as longtime launch announcer George Diller calls his final liftoff. Diller has served as a launch commentator on NASA Television for the launch countdown of both expendable launch vehicles and the space shuttle, including STS-135, the final space shuttle mission with the launch of Atlantis. He has called the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope aboard Discovery as well as the countdown for the Atlas V rocket carrying the Mars Science Laboratory with the Curiosity rover. In addition to serving as the NASA TV launch commentator, he has also worked as a public affairs specialist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center for 37 years. During a recent press conference, Frank Culbertson, a former NASA astronaut who is now president of Orbital ATK's Space Systems Group, thanked Diller for his service. “A real, true fan of the space program, but also a real contributor,” Culbertson said. “So George, thank you for everything.”
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The U.S. Navy Blue Angels recently treated guests of the Happiest Place on Earth to a magical moment as the team of F/A-18 Hornets executed two passes 500 feet above the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The Blue Angels were on their way to Lakeland, FL, for the annual Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In.
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