NASA suspends work on the James Webb Space Telescope – Blog – 10 minute

What just happened? NASA recently completed its first assessment of missions, projects and programs since the coronavirus outbreak to identify mission-critical work that must be done on-site, tasks that can be worked on by employees remotely and projects that have to be paused.
Unfortunately for the James Webb Space Telescope, it falls into the latter category.
NASA is suspending integration and testing operations on the Hubble Space Telescope’s successor to ensure the safety of the agency’s workforce. NASA didn’t say when work on the project would resume but noted that decisions could be adjusted as the situation unfolds over the weekend and into next week.

On a brighter note, all work associated with supporting the International Space Station will continue including commercial resupply activities to keep the space station crew fully supplied and safe. Earlier this month, the agency took steps to reduce the risk of exposure for flight controllers working in the mission control center at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Work on the Commercial Crew Program is also pressing ahead. NASA further added that its Mars 2020 mission, which includes the Mars Helicopter and the Perseverance Rover, remains a high priority. The agency is additionally keeping its supercomputing resources online, we’re told.
Masthead credit: NASA by Edwin Verin

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Ads We Like: LeBron James and other famous mouths promote AT&T TV’s voice activation tech- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

AT&T has enlisted a batch of celebrities, including new brand ambassador LeBron James, to promote its new voice command technology on AT&T TV by featuring just their mouths and voices.
On the heels of the launch of AT&T TV, the comms company has launched a campaign to promote the ease of its voice command technology showing ‘Famous Mouths.’ The most prominent of the mouths is LeBron James, who has signed a multi-year marketing and brand collaboration with AT&T.
As part of the partnership, James will promote new AT&T products and services, including a new advertising campaign for AT&T TV which has launched nationwide. In a series of spots, James is seen from the nose to his finely trimmed beard, asking his remote to “play basketball” and other commands, like “play Tom & Jerry”.
A fun version has a group of top celebrities – people, puppets and animations – also giving their chin wags to the campaign. We see Evan Rachel Wood start off in her Westworld garb, saying “show me reality” before handing it over to the likes of RuPaul, Elijah Wood (in Lord of the Rings attire), Missy Elliott, LeBron James, Rick Sanchez (Rick & Morty), Tracy Morgan and Cookie Monster.
The long-term strategic partnership with James launches with a philanthropic commitment to Lebron’s I Promise Community, rooted in the mutual mission to use technology, entertainment and innovation towards social advancement.
As part of the multi-year, multi-faceted collaboration, AT&T states it is committed to developing a learning institute at the LeBron James Family Foundation’s I Promise Village by Graduate Hotels, which serves as transitional housing for the I Promise School’s students and families in immediate need of safe and stable housing.
“To have one of the biggest communications companies in the world believe in my kids and the work we’re doing to uplift families is incredible,” said James in a release. “I’m excited about this partnership and the opportunities we’ll have to continue bringing people together across so many different platforms.”
James’ production company, SpringHill Entertainment, has worked with AT&T’s WarnerMedia in film and television, including developing the upcoming Warner Bros. Space Jam film and the programs The Shop and Student Athlete on HBO.
“Through our extensive work with the NBA, WNBA and the WarnerMedia family of brands, we’ve grown to know LeBron as so much more than the star basketball player,” said Fiona Carter, chief brand officer, AT&T Communications. “His commitment to his foundation, empowering others, and storytelling combined with AT&T’s mission to inspire human progress through the power of communication and entertainment will create endless creative opportunities.”

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James Whatley: Ofcom now has a duty of care to protect your children online- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

In a move that many would call long overdue, the official UK regulator for nearly all communications services, Ofcom, has been appointed as the sole regulator for ‘online harms’. This itself coming off the back of last April’s DCMS report on the same topic.
The powers it is being given are unclear; the penalties that would follow lack clarity; and Ofcom itself is arguably woefully under-resourced to deal with the size of the task at hand.
But make no bones about it – this is a large positive step in the right direction.
The main thrust of the press today talks about placing the duty of care of users onto the platform owners. Platforms that allow the sharing of UGC. From Facebook to Forums and every Reddit in-between.
Duty of care for Ofcom’s brief is about keeping users safe and tackling harmful and/or illegal content and activity. The latter means terrorism. Child sexual exploitation and abuse. Dangerous content that should be shut down and prevented from dissemination completely. That is clear. Harmful content on the other hand – that covers everything from bullying to images of self-harm and suicide. Young adults and children being highlighted as being at risk of exposure to this content. There will be grey areas – and they will need to be tested.
As a side note: you can – and should – find more detail under Chapter 7 of the Online Harms White Paper ‘Fulfilling the duty of care’ – which outlines specifically what else this covers and how.
The platforms will tell you they are already doing this – and the effort thus far should be applauded. But with no legislation or regulation to ensure that this is executed well and at scale, the platforms have had no policing over their commitment or their methods.
Last week the Huffington Post highlighted the ongoing issue of vaccine-related misinformation appearing on Instagram. March 2020 marks a year since Facebook committed to reducing it and yet still it remains – at scale. This is one of myriad issues that the platform owner should be increasingly investing in and, if deemed not to be doing so sufficiently enough, should have a government to answer to when it doesn’t.
This time last year I wrote that the politicians were coming. That the difference between what Facebook says and what Facebook does is often vast with varying levels of opacity.
Having one regulator to watch over it all is a good thing. It keeps things clean and simple. This time last year Mark Zuckerberg was calling for stronger regulation of the internet. This is the first step towards that regulation and one wonders how his lobbyists will react.
Today’s announcement should come as no surprise; it has been telegraphed for months – if not years.
I congratulate Ofcom on its new role and I wish it luck. It’ll need it.
James Whatley is a strategy partner at Digitas UK.

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will likely miss its rescheduled launch date of March 2021 – Blog – 10 minute

What just happened? In its latest report, the US Government Accountability Office found that although NASA’s JWST project has made significant progress since GAO’s March 2019 report, new technical challenges emerging later in the year have resulted in schedule strain. This could increase the project costs even further, with NASA planning a reassessment of the current launch date in spring 2020.
For curious minds, the James Webb Space Telescope seems to take forever to make its way into space and report back data about the origins and mysteries of the universe. The project has faced several delays since inception, leading to a 95 percent increase in development costs, and now it looks like it won’t be making its March 30, 2021 launch date as announced in 2018.
The GAO annually audits NASA’s progress on the JWST program and in its eighth report, the agency “assessed the extent to which (1) the JWST project is executing within the revised schedule and cost targets established in 2018, and (2) NASA implemented and sustained key improvements to performance and oversight undertaken since 2018.”
It found that the project faced new technical challenges that not only consumed a large portion of the schedule reserve but also resulted in longer employment of the contractor workforce than planned, potentially adding to project costs. “NASA continues to monitor multiple, other risks that could place further schedule and cost strains on the project” notes the report.

Fixing issues with two communication components caused the schedule reserve to decline sharply in April-May 2019
NASA’s replanning of the project in June 2018 after “technical and workmanship issues” saw the space agency addressing “all recommendations” from an independent review board. It had also managed to achieve a number of integration and testing milestones, such as deployment of the secondary mirror assembly and observatory level testing.
“The cost and schedule analysis completed by the project in October 2019 indicated that the project will not exceed the cost commitment established in the 2018 replan even if launch is delayed further by a few months,” says GAO, adding that officials deem the project funding to be sufficient to continue work “even if the launch date slips 3-4 months past the March 2021 launch date.”

As for recommendations, GAO doesn’t have any new ones at this time. The government agency notes that its made “several recommendations to NASA on the management of this project in previous reports and NASA has agreed with and taken action on many of them,” with the most recent being a joint cost and schedule level analysis for the project which NASA completed in October 2019.
A new launch date for JWST is expected to be announced later this year by NASA as it works its way through the troubled project.

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Engineers Connect Two Halves of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope for First Time


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Development of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) stretches all the way back to the mid-90s. No one at the time could have anticipated how long it would take to get the monstrously complex instrument built, but we’re in the home stretch now. Engineers at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, California have assembled the two halves of the telescope for the first time. It’s not quite ready for launch yet, but it’s finally starting to look like the renders we’ve seen for years. 

The James Webb Space Telescope is NASA’s successor to Hubble, which is still working after more than a quarter-century. However, that telescope hasn’t had a service mission since the Space Shuttle was retired, and some of its components are starting to fail. The JWST won’t just replace Hubble; it will massively expand our ability to observe distant objects. It’s also a much more complex piece of technology. It uses a larger multi-segment beryllium mirror, and the high infrared sensitivity means it needs a deployable sunshield to protect the instruments. 

Engineers constructed the telescope in two halves out of necessity. There’s the Webb telescope itself with the mirrors and scientific instruments, and then the spacecraft frame with the sunshield and communication equipment. Northrop Grumman temporarily connected the two halves last year to make sure they could communicate with each other, but now they’re physically connected in their final conformation. The team carefully moved the telescope over top of the spacecraft with a crane, and then lowered it into place, allowing engineers could link it with the frame. Northrop is now working to connect the electronics to get the two halves fully integrated. 

JWST-Feature

What the JWST will look like in space.

The next step is for engineers to test the five-layer sunshield. After launch, the JWST will head near the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point almost a million miles away (1.5 million kilometers). If the sunshield doesn’t deploy properly, the telescope could be inoperative with no way to fix it. So, it’s absolutely vital the team makes sure it works before packing it up in the Ariane 5 rocket. 

The current timeline, which has been delayed repeatedly, calls for the James Webb Space Telescope to launch in March 2021. It’s designed to operate for at least five years, but the team hopes for 10 or more. We can only hope it’s as successful as Hubble, which is nearing its thirtieth anniversary.

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Fitbit cofounders James Park and Eric Friedman are coming to Disrupt SF – gpgmail


Ten years ago, a hardware startup launched a fitness device on stage at gpgmail 50. The $99 gadget combined a pedometer with a diet monitoring system, designed to help wearers meet their fitness goals.

Of course, a lot has changed for Fitbit in the intervening decade. The company has since become synonymous with fitness trackers in the U.S. In 2015, it filed for a $358 million IPO.

After several years of defining the wearables category, things have gotten a bit rockier, however, as the company contends with increased competition from the premium Apple Watch and low cost trackers from companies like Xiaomi.

Through acquisitions like Pebble and Vector, the company has improved its fortunes by building its own smartwatch line. Fitbit has also begun to transition into the healthcare industry through partnerships wit companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Fitbit’s cofounders James Park and Eric Friedman will join us on stage to discuss their process for growing a hardware startup and navigating often fickle industry trends.

Disrupt SF runs October 2 to October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here.

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