Rocket Lab on road to reusability after successful booster recovery

Rocket Lab is now confident that its reusability dreams can come true.

The company recovered the first stage of its two-stage Electron rocket for the first time on Thursday (Nov. 19), fishing the booster out of the Pacific Ocean a few hours after it had helped launch a 30-satellite mission aptly called “Return to Sender.”

The stage survived its trip back from space in great shape, helping to validate Rocket Lab’s reusability vision, according to company founder and CEO Peter Beck.

“The test was a complete success,” Beck said during a call with reporters today (Nov. 23). “We’re really confident now that Electron can become a reusable launch vehicle.”

Related: Rocket Lab and its Electron booster (photos)

The 58-foot-tall (18 meters) Electron, which gives small satellites dedicated rides to orbit, has been an expendable vehicle since its debut launch in 2017. Last year, however, Beck announced that the company plans

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Next-generation drones could learn from bumblebees’ amazing flight

Next-generation drones could learn from bumblebees' amazing flight
A bumblebee flying within shrubs while foraging needs to devise effective strategies to avoid collisions that may cause damage to its wings and body. By perceiving the gaps between obstacles in relation to its own wingspan and body shape, bees display a remarkable ability to safely fly through even tight spaces. Credit: Charlotte Doussot.

An international study, led by researchers from UNSW Canberra, has discovered the secret of bumblebees’ self-aware dexterous flight—with potential applications for the next generation of drones and autonomous vehicles.


Research lead author, Dr. Sridhar Ravi, studied how bumblebees navigated through a tunnel with a series of gates featuring different-sized holes. The bees were able to successfully fly through the apertures, thanks to a remarkable sense of their own size and a detailed perception of the obstacles’ openings.

Dr. Ravi said that by scanning the aperture, bumblebees were able to skilfully fit through the gates by manipulating

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Even Mount Everest, the World’s Tallest Peak, Can’t Escape Microplastics | Smart News

Two years ago, scientists reported that plastic pollution has found its way into the Mariana Trench, the darkest, deepest part of the ocean. Now, plastic has officially infiltrated the highest point above sea level: Mount Everest.

A study published November 20 in the journal One Earth reveals microplastics have been found up and down Mount Everest in staggering concentrations, reports Carolyn Wilke for Science News.

Last year, a team of 34 scientists embarked on an icy expedition up Mount Everest to better understand how climate change is affecting the highest point above sea level on Earth. (Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador is the furtherest point away from Earth’s core, and Mauna Kea is the tallest from base to peak.) As part of their research, they scooped up snow samples from various spots on the mountain and stored them in stainless steel jars to bring back to the lab for testing, reports

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Scientists Recommend Listing Platypuses As ‘Vulnerable’

KEY POINTS

  • Researchers found a decline in platypus population and habitats
  • The declines may continue in the future because of persistent threats to the species
  • They recommend officially listing platypuses as “vulnerable” to protect them

Scientists have recommended listing platypuses as a “threatened species” after learning that their population and habitats are shrinking.

Platypuses, iconic for their duck-like bill and strange cuteness, are facing an increasing number of threats, such as extreme droughts, climate change, and land clearing.

The species was included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as “lower risk/least concern” in 1996. By 2016, however, platypuses were considered “near threatened,” a new report on the conservation status of platypuses notes.

Under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, platypuses are listed as endangered in South Australia.

To determine the state of platypuses, a team of scientists collected all the available data from

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How Archaeologists Are Using Deep Learning to Dig Deeper

Finding the tomb of an ancient king full of golden artifacts, weapons and elaborate clothing seems like any archaeologist’s fantasy. But searching for them, Gino Caspari can tell you, is incredibly tedious.

Dr. Caspari, a research archaeologist with the Swiss National Science Foundation, studies the ancient Scythians, a nomadic culture whose horse-riding warriors terrorized the plains of Asia 3,000 years ago. The tombs of Scythian royalty contained much of the fabulous wealth they had looted from their neighbors. From the moment the bodies were interred, these tombs were popular targets for robbers; Dr. Caspari estimates that more than 90 percent of them have been destroyed.

He suspects that thousands of tombs are spread across the Eurasian steppes, which extend for millions of square miles. He had spent hours mapping burials using Google Earth images of territory in what is now Russia, Mongolia and Western China’s Xinjiang province. “It’s essentially a

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Aliens or Artists? Metallic Monolith Discovered in Rural Utah

Illustration for article titled Unexplained Monolith Discovered in Rural Utahs Red Rock Country

Photo: Utah Department of Public Safety

Officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety discovered a shiny metallic monolith in rural Utah’s Red Rock Country on November 18 while surveying big horn sheep by helicopter. The monolith has drawn comparisons to the black monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the helicopter crew said there’s “no obvious indication” of who may have placed the object there.

The Utah agency published photos and videos to its website, showing the team’s investigation of the strange looking object. The monolith appears to have three sides and measures roughly 10-12 feet high, according to the people who found it. The crew did note that it’s firmly planted into the ground and didn’t appear to have been dropped from above. It would seem someone really wanted that thing to stay anchored into the rock.

“One of the biologists

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Solving the mystery of canine distemper in wild tigers

Big cats and small dogs: solving the mystery of canine distemper in wild tigers
Amur tigers share their taiga forest habitat with wild carnivores that act as a reservoir of canine distemper virus. Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society

If you think getting your cat to the veterinarian is tricky, new Cornell Wildlife Health Center research has revealed that vaccination of endangered Amur (Siberian) tigers is the only practical strategy to protect them from a dangerous disease in their natural habitat in the Russian Far East.


Canine distemper virus (CDV) causes a serious disease in domestic dogs, and also infects other carnivores, including threatened species like the Amur tiger, which numbers fewer than 550 individuals in the Russian Far East and neighbouring China. It is often assumed that domestic dogs are the primary source of CDV, but in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Cornell Wildlife Health Center’s Dr. Martin Gilbert and colleagues found that other local

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Colt Single Action Army Revolver Facts

On October 26, 1881, shots rang out at the O.K. Corral. Within the first 30 seconds of the shootout, three members of the Clanton gang were killed. Men on both sides, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Billy Clanton, would become legends in part because of what happened in Tombstone, Arizona. They were firing a legendary weapon, too.

The Colt Single Action Army held many names over the years. First came its clunky official title, the New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol. But soon it became known as the Frontier, the Equalizer, the Model P, and most famously, the Peacemaker.

There was no peace that October day in Tombstone. But the shootout was one of many that cemented the reputation of this six-chamber gun that saw more than 20 years service with the United States Army and became the iconic revolver of the West.

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Deep Space Might Not Be Completely Dark, New Study Suggests

When we look out at the darkest night skies available on Earth, even the emptiest abyss we can find isn’t completely dark. We can look between the individual stars in the Milky Way, seeing out into the Universe beyond. We can look at the space between the myriad of galaxies populating the Universe, finding many regions without identifiable light sources of any type. But even when we do, the light from our own backyard still gets in

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China calls launch a success as robotic spacecraft heads to moon

WENCHANG, China (Reuters) – China hailed as a success its pre-dawn launch on Tuesday of a robotic spacecraft to bring back rocks from the moon in the first bid by any country to retrieve lunar surface samples since the 1970s, a mission underscoring Chinese ambitions in space.

The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang’e-5 lunar probe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center, in Wenchang, Hainan province, China November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

The Long March-5, China’s largest carrier rocket, blasted off at 4:30 a.m. Beijing time (2030 GMT on Monday) in a launch from Wenchang Space Launch Center on the southern Chinese island of Hainan carrying the Chang’e-5 spacecraft.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) called the launch a success and said in a statement that the rocket flew for nearly 37 minutes before sending the spacecraft on its intended trajectory.

The Chang’e-5 mission, named after the ancient

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