Here at Ars, we tend to be skeptical of the regularly recurring rumors that two major video game competitors are going to be merging or teaming up in some way. From the early 2000s whispers that Microsoft would buy a struggling Sega to suggestions that Apple should buy Nintendo, these rumors often reflect wishful thinking at least as much as actual insider knowledge.
That said, we're still intrigued by recent rumors that Microsoft could be bringing certain Xbox One games—and a version of its Xbox Game Pass subscription service—to the Nintendo Switch and other consoles.
As the current scuttlebutt has it, an Xbox app to be released for the Switch would let players with an Xbox Game Pass subscription play a selection of Xbox One games on Nintendo's hardware. High-end games would work on Nintendo's lower-end hardware thanks to streaming via Microsoft's recently announced Project xCloud. Meanwhile, Microsoft would also sell certain low-end first-party Xbox One games, like the Ori series, to the Switch directly, according to the rumors.
Google is dropping forced arbitration requirements for its employees, the company announced on Thursday. Starting March 21, both existing and new employees will have the option to sue Google in court and to join together in class-action lawsuits.
The news is a victory for a group of activist Google employees who have been pressuring Google to make this change since last fall. Thousands of Googlers walked out last November to protest Google's handling of recent sexual harassment controversies.
Google quickly agreed to drop forced arbitration requirements in certain sexual harassment cases. But critics kept up the pressure, and Google is now exempting all employees and direct contractors from forced arbitration requirements in a broader range of cases.
Facebook has pulled its privacy-invading Onavo Protect VPN app off the Google Play store and will reportedly stop gobbling up data from users who still have the app on their devices.
Facebook "will immediately cease pulling in data from [Onavo] users for market research though it will continue operating as a Virtual Private Network in the short term to allow users to find a replacement," TechCrunch reported yesterday.
Facebook's Onavo website still exists, but links to the Android and iOS apps are both broken. Facebook pulled the app from the iPhone and iPad App Store in August 2018 after Apple determined that Onavo violated its data-collection rules. Facebook purchased Onavo, an Israeli company, in 2013.
On Friday, Texas-based rocket company Firefly announced that it has reached an agreement to develop manufacturing facilities and a launch site at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida. The new facility will support the production of up to 24 Alpha rockets a year, with the ability to scale from there, company officials said.
These are sizable plans. Over an unspecified period of time, the company said it will invest $52 million into the facilities. Florida’s spaceport development authority, Space Florida, will also provide an additional $18.9 million in infrastructure investments.
The company will build its launch facilities at Space Launch Complex 20, where Space Florida hopes to develop a multiuser facility for small-satellite launch companies like Firefly. It will also build an expansive facility to assemble its Alpha (and eventually the larger Beta) rockets, near the large Blue Origin plant in Florida's Exploration Park area.
A mild winter breeze blew along the Florida coast when the final Apollo mission roared into the sky shortly after midnight on December 7, 1972. More than half a million people turned out to watch Apollo 17 lift off despite the late hour. Imagine you were lucky enough to be among them.
After the rocket disappears and nighttime closes in, you're musing about when humans might return to deep space, when an aging drifter in a Steppenwolf t-shirt interrupts your reverie.
Won't see that again in our lifetimes.
A rocket sending a lander to the Moon. Ain't gonna happen again for nearly 50 years.
That's impossible. NASA is talking about going to Mars in a decade or so.
Well, the next rocket from here that's sending a lander to the Moon won't launch until 2019.
I can't believe that. And how can you know that—
And that rocket will already have flown twice.
What? Our rockets fall into the ocean.
Yeah, well, there will be a boat to catch this one.
I think I've got to be going.
Oh, and the rocket will be built by a dude from South Africa, and the lander will carry an Israeli flag.
You'd probably better call a cab to get home, old-timer.
In December 1972, Elon Musk was one year old, living in South Africa. Israel was just three months removed from the Munich massacre, in which 11 members of its Olympic team were taken hostage and killed during the summer games. And yet nearly five decades later on Thursday night, Musk's company, SpaceX, would link up with a private Israeli effort to launch a small lander to the Moon's surface.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that it had obtained a document suggesting that the Trump administration is considering combining two areas where it has consistently dismissed expert conclusions: climate change and intelligence analysis. While the intelligence community has consistently accepted that climate change creates security risks for the United States, the document suggests that Trump will circumvent its advice by setting up an advisory committee in an effort headed by a retired professor noted for not accepting the conclusions of the scientific community.
The document is a National Security Council discussion paper, and it suggests using an executive order to set up a Presidential Committee on Climate Security. The committee would provide advice to Trump on the current climate and its future changes and how those affect the national security of the US.Adversarial
Normally, these functions are provided by the scientific community and the intelligence community, respectively. But these parties have been giving Trump evidence that he's not interested in accepting.
Welcome to Edition 1.37 of the Rocket Report! Lots of news this week about plans to develop smallsat launchers, from India to Australia to the United Kingdom. We also have some serious shade throwing from Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos, who doesn't think a flight near (but not above) the Karman line will come without an asterisk.
As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.
India smallsat launcher to fly later this year. Indian space officials have confirmed that their new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle will attempt its first flight in "July or August" of this year, The Economic Times reports. The rocket will carry two Indian defense satellites for the mission, each weighing about 120kg. The rocket has undergone a complete technical review, officials said.
The comments come as the US has pressured its allies to exclude China's Huawei from their 5G networks.
Sites that run the Drupal content management system run the risk of being hijacked until they're patched against a vulnerability that allows hackers to remotely execute malicious code, managers of the open source project warned Wednesday.
CVE-2019-6340, as the flaw is tracked, stems from a failure to sufficiently validate user input, managers said in an advisory. Hackers who exploited the vulnerability could, in some cases, run code of their choice on vulnerable websites. The flaw is rated highly critical.
"Some field types do not properly sanitize data from non-form sources," the advisory stated. "This can lead to arbitrary PHP code execution in some cases."