3 Chinese astronauts land safely at China’s new space station
China has sent its third crew to its new Tiangong space station. On Saturday, June 4th, a Long March 2F rocket carrying a Shenzhou 14 spacecraft lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in East Asia’s Gobi Desert.
After the launch, the three Chinese astronauts, Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe, safely arrived at China’s new space station seven hours later. The crew will inhabit the station for six months, managing the implementation of two new modules arriving soon. They will also conduct scientific experiments, monitor equipment on the station, and get everything ready to begin full operations once completed.
The 54-foot-long space station core module Tianhe, meaning “Heaven’s Goal,” went into orbit in April 2021. It has thus far been visited by six astronauts who formed the Shenzhou 12 and Shenzhou 13 missions. In late July and October, two new modules, Mengtian, or “Dreaming of the Heavens,” and Wentian, “Quest for the Heavens,” will be sent into space, and the three newcomers will be in charge of their arrival. There will be no veteran Chinese astronauts aboard this mission, as all three team members came to the program in China’s second astronaut selection round in 2010.
China’s crewed space station, set to finish by the end of the year, will establish a significant milestone in China’s three-decade-long crewed space program, first authorized in 1992. “The Shenzhou-14 mission is a pivotal battle in the construction stage of China’s space station,” Commander Chen told Al Jazeera in a news conference on Saturday. “The task will be tougher, there will be more problems and the challenges will be greater.”
So far, outer space news has been a hot topic for 2022. From the upcoming Axiom Space AX-1 mission on Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon, to a report that Amazon plans 83 space launches over the next five years, get ready to hear more and more about our starry skies.
In other news
- France bans English terms used in video games. The French government has long been opposed to English words and phrases creeping into the French language. According to the Guardian, French officials will regulate video games to ensure that popular English phrases are replaced with their French equivalents. This means that “pro gamer” will become “joyeur professionnel”, and “streamer” will become “joyeur-animateur en direct”. The Ministry of Culture told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that too many English phrases could be a “barrier to understanding”. The ministry searched for existing phrases in French to find the most suitable. They explained that the main idea is to make communication easier for people.
- China prepares to destroy Starlink satellites. Engadget reports that the Chinese military is working on its capabilities to disable or destroy Starlink spacecraft. This is SpaceX’s constellation of satellites that provides internet service for 33 countries. The reason given by military scientists in the Chinese journal Modern Defense Technology is that the satellites may threaten China’s national security. The scientists also called for two methods of combating the satellites: the soft-kill approach attacks the satellite’s software and operating system, while the hard-kill involves the complete destruction, possible using a missile. Chinese researchers are also advocating the development of a surveillance system so Starlink satellites can be tracked. China Military Online also claimed that Starlink has a “strong military background” though it claims to be a civilian program.
- Canadian coffee app broke privacy laws. Canadian regulators found the mobile app for Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee chain, to be in violation of data privacy laws, according to Reuters. In a two-year joint investigation, provincial and federal authorities discovered that the app tracked users’ locations even when they were not using the app, and the app gathered a large amount of sensitive data. It was also found that the app did not have a sufficient privacy management program, which may have highlighted the privacy issues. Tim Hortons agreed to the recommendations made by the privacy authorities and said it removed the geolocation technology from the app. It also said the data was never used for marketing purposes. You can learn more about the importance of online privacy here.
- Smart speaker imitates parent’s voice to read stories to kids: In news that’s either welcome or deeply unsettling, depending on your mindset, Takara Tomy’s new AI-powered smart speaker may be set to take over your bedtime story duties. Gizmodo reports that the speaker uses deepfake technology to make an AI copy of a parent or caregiver’s voice. The speaker will then use the voice to entertain children with over 60 classic songs and stories from around the world. Whether or not you could abide by a speaker using your voice, it is nice to report a positive deepfake story for once.
- Scientists may have found the reason for frailty in the elderly: A team of Cambridge researchers studying blood cells across ages ranging from newborns to the elderly have discovered a ‘catastrophic’ change in blood cell composition that can occur later in life. According to The Guardian, this change can impact the ability of white blood cells to fight infection and also increases the risk of anemia and blood cancers. The researchers believe similar changes may happen throughout the body’s organs, which may explain why people can age healthily until they reach their 70s or 80s when a rapid decline in health often occurs. The researchers hope this discovery could lead to ways to slow down the aging process.
Tip of the week
Your email and other accounts can be golden to a hacker.
Have you ever logged into a website using your Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, or Twitter account? That’s possible thanks to OAuth, a web protocol that allows websites to send a request to the big sites to authenticate your account. This can be super helpful, especially if you don’t remember your password or you’re on mobile and it doesn’t autofill. Or maybe you use Google to auto-save your passwords. And then there are those websites that send you an email to verify your identity.
If someone breaches your email or another account, this could give them the keys to the kingdom, so to speak. It could enable them to not only lock you out of your account but also give them access to many other accounts as well.
To keep your website credentials safe, you need to be extra vigilant and guard your Google, Facebook, etc. accounts against potential account breaches.
Two things you can do right now:
- Change your Google, Facebook, Apple, and other major site passwords, especially if it has been more than a year, and use strong passwords. You’ll have to update them on all of your devices, but it’s a great way to protect all of your accounts.
- Enable two-factor authentication on every site that offers it as an option. This will ensure that if someone does get your password, they won’t be able to log in as you.
By taking these two steps, you can thwart hackers and other scammers and save yourself a lot of headaches down the line. For more, check out our piece on password security.