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NASA has just purchased the remaining crew flights of SpaceX’s space station

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NASA has just purchased the remaining crew flights of SpaceX’s space station
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Flying with Dragons

” We will require additional missions from SpaceX in order to implement our strategy. “


A Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are ready to launch NASA's Crew-4 mission.

Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are ready to launch NASA’s Crew-4 mission.

Trevor Mahlmann

NASA said this week that it plans to purchase five additional Crew Dragon missions from SpaceX to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Although the space agency’s news release does not specifically say so, these may be the final flights NASA needs to keep the space station fully occupied into the year 2030. Although there is currently no international agreement to keep it flying, this procurement signals that the space agency believes the orbital outpost will continue to fly for as long as possible.

The announcement also suggests that SpaceX will fly more than twice as many crews to the space station than the other partner in NASA’s commercial crew program, Boeing. Under the new agreement, SpaceX would fly 14 crewed missions to the station on Crew Dragon, and Boeing would fly six during the lifetime of the station.

Let’s run down the math on that. SpaceX has already launched four operational crew missions to the space station, dating to the November 15, 2020, launch of the Crew-1 mission. SpaceX currently has two additional flights under its original NASA crew contract. In February 2022, NASA awarded fixed-price contracts for the Crew-7, Crew-8, and Crew-9 missions to SpaceX. The latest announcement would bring the total number of Crew Dragon missions to 14.

As for Boeing, it has yet to fly an operational mission to the station. The company recently completed a largely successful uncrewed test flight in May. Looking ahead, Boeing will probably complete a crewed flight test of Starliner late this year or early in 2023 and then fly its first operational mission sometime in 2023, or possibly later if issues are discovered on the crewed test flight.

“Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 went very well and we hope to be able to certify the Starliner system in the near future,” said Phil McAllister, director of commercial space at NASA, said in the agency’s news release. “However, SpaceX will require additional missions to help us implement our strategy of each commercial provider flying alternate missions once a year. “

NASA has yet to announce the purchase of additional Starliner missions. This is prudent as Boeing has not yet demonstrated Starliner’s capabilities onboard with crew. Based on this week’s announcements, however, it seems likely that Boeing will not be awarded any additional crewed missions.

Why? NASA plans to fly only two crewed space station missions per year with four astronauts. SpaceX would be contracted for 10 additional missions, and Boeing has six on the books. There are eight years of lifetime left in the space station if it stops flying in 2030. While additional modifications to these contracts are always possible, NASA appears to have booked all of the rides it needs for a station lifetime into 2030.

This does not necessarily mean that Starliner will fly just six crewed missions. Boeing indicated its intention to use the vehicle for private missions. This is likely to be commercial space stations in development. Boeing, for example, is a partner in Blue Origin’s “Orbital reef” space station project.

But it is worth noting that at present Starliner is only capable of flying on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. Boeing has not been able to launch enough rockets to complete the six Starliner missions it had planned for NASA. To fly Starliner into orbit, Boeing will need to pay money to human-rate United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket or another vehicle. Boeing has not yet made clear its plans for Starliner’s post-Atlas V missions.

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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