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Amazon founder’s rocket company to begin suborbital test flights

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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Amazon founder’s rocket company to begin suborbital test flights
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A space company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has finished work on a rocket engine for a suborbital spaceship and expects to begin flight tests this year, Blue Origin officials said on Tuesday.

The so-called New Shepard spaceship is designed to fly three people and/or a mix of passengers and payloads to altitudes about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth. It will launch from Blue Origin’s west Texas facility near Van Horn, Texas, southeast of El Paso.

Testing and development of the rocket engine, called BE-3, has been completed, the last major milestone before the liquid oxygen- and liquid hydrogen-fueled motor is attached to the New Shepard capsule for flight, Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson told reporters on a conference call.

Privately owned Blue Origin has not started selling tickets for flights on New Shepard or released pricing information.

“The engine is ready for flight … and ready for other commercial users,” Meyerson said. He declined to be more specific about when New Shepard would fly, except to say “soon.”

The capsule will fly dozens of times unmanned before the test flights include pilots, Meyerson added.

Blue Origin is among a handful of companies planning to offer commercial spaceflight services. New Shepard is a suborbital system, like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger, two-pilot space plane that is expected to resume test flights later this year following a fatal accident in Mojave, California, on Oct. 31, 2014.

Another company, privately owned XCOR Aerospace, is working on a two-seater space plane called Lynx that also is slated to debut this year, founder and chief technology officer Jeff Greason said.

Other companies, including Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, and Boeing, are skipping suborbital spaceflight and developing systems to carry people into orbit.

Blue Origin intends to parlay its suborbital New Shepard vehicle into an orbital launch system, expected to begin flying later this decade. That vehicle will be powered by a liquefied natural gas motor, called the BE-4, that is being developed with United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing.

The recently completed BE-3 engine also will be modified to serve as an upper-stage motor to fly satellites into orbit, Meyerson said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Weather

This year’s most powerful typhoon will hit Philippines tomorrow

The Thaiger

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This year’s most powerful typhoon will hit Philippines tomorrow | The Thaiger

Typhoon Goni continues to bear down on The Philippines in one of the South China Sea’s busiest storm years. 220,000 people have now been evacuated as of today.The typhoon, packing “destructive winds’, is expected to reach the south-east of the Philippine’s main island of Luzon tomorrow morning with the eye of the storm passing over during Sunday afternoon. Forecasters are expecting wind speeds of over 200 kilometres per hour.

Typhoon Goni is known locally as “Rolly”.

A warning has been issued “moderate to high risk” of storm surges up to 3 metres high along the east coast over the next 2 days.

On Wednesday this week Typhoon Molave smashed into Vietnam’s central coast, killing up to 35 people and flooding low-lying villages and then dropping heavy rain on southern Laos and Central Thailand. Molave killed 20 people as it passed over The Philippines.
This year's most powerful typhoon will hit Philippines tomorrow | News by The Thaiger
GRAPHIC: Typhoon Goni will reach Philippine’s island of Luzon tomorrow.

Schools are being used as emergency shelters as well as government-co-ordinated evacuation centres and gymnasiums. Authorities are ramping up preparations in the Bicol region southeast of Philippine capital Manila, readying rescue vehicles, emergency response teams and relief goods ahead of the storm.

The Philippines averages around 20 storms and typhoons every year, wiping out harvests, infrastructure and homes. The deadliest storm on record for The Philippines was Typhoon Haiyan, which dumped huge wave surges on the central city of Tacloban killing over 7,300 people in 2013.

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Economy

Dow and S&P 500 take a breath after an ugly week, tech stocks lead the way down

The Thaiger

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Dow and S&P 500 take a breath after an ugly week, tech stocks lead the way down | The Thaiger

US stocks closed lower yesterday to end an ugly week downbeat with ‘uncertainty’ remaining the overwhelming sentiment. Tech stocks led the march downwards. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped in its biggest monthly collapse since March with investors reacting to rising Covid-19 cases in the US and Europe, peppered by nervousness ahead of next Tuesday’s US presidential election. The increased volatility forced all three major indexes seeing their biggest weekly declines since the worst of the coronavirus-inspired selloff 8 months ago.

The Dow fell around 157 points, to end near 26,502, according to preliminary figures, while the S&P 500 lost around 40 points, or 1.2%, to finish near 3,270. The Nasdaq Composite gave up around 274 points, or 2.4%, closing near 10,912. The Dow had a 6.5% weekly fall and a 4.6% monthly drop. Friday’s decline saw the Nasdaq negative for the month of October, falling 2.3%. The Nasdaq was down 5.5% for the week.

The Dow dropped more than 500 points at its session low with tech stocks – primarily Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook – leading the market decline.

A number of stocks were on the move, down, following a slew of earnings, including from the tech giants. Twitter sank more than 20% on slowing growth, while Exxon reported its 3rd straight quarter of losses.

Key moments yesterday…

  • Dow closed down 0.59% for its 5th negative day out of 6
  • S&P 500 closed down 1.21% for its 4th negative day in 5
  • Dow closed down 6.47% this week for its worst week since March 20
  • S&P closed down 5.64% this week for its worst week since March 20 when the S&P lost 14.98%
  • S&P closed down 2.77% this month for its second-straight negative month
  • Nasdaq closed down 5.51% this week for its worst week since March 20 when the Nasdaq lost 12.64%

Dow and S&P 500 take a breath after an ugly week, tech stocks lead the way down | News by The Thaiger

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Tourism

From tourist heroes to zero – how the world’s former tourist magnets are coping

The Thaiger & The Nation

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From tourist heroes to zero – how the world’s former tourist magnets are coping | The Thaiger

If over-tourism became the buzzword in the travel industry in 2019, the opposite applies in 2020 when most of the world’s most popular tourist magnets are now facing a genuine economic crisis, forced on them by government closures and a risk-averse travel public, most of whom are prevented from travel beyond their own borders. We visit Dubrovnik, Santorini, Ibiza, Barcelona, Venice, Bali and Phuket.

Despite the perils of overtourism, and all sorts of plans to limit the rising foot-traffic, nothing could have prepared these bucket list locations for the challenge they now face. Travel bans, quarantines and nationwide lockdowns are forcing travellers to stay home and face their own domestic economic issues.

Travel is a long way down the list now for much of the world’s middle class who made up the vast majority of global travellers. More than most industries, Covid-19 has brought the world’s travel industry to its knees.

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