NASA clears SpaceX test flight to space station

This undated photo made available by SpaceX on Feb 6, 2019 shows the Dragon crew capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida where the Saturn Vs and space shuttles were launched. (AP)
Updated 23 February 2019
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NASA clears SpaceX test flight to space station

  • NASA has awarded SpaceX $2.6 billion, and aerospace rival Boeing Co. $4.2 billion to build separate rocket and capsule launch systems to carry US astronauts to and from the space station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: NASA gave its final go-ahead on Friday to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX company to conduct its first unmanned test flight of a newly designed crew capsule to the International Space Station on March 2.
The approval cleared a key hurdle for SpaceX in its quest to help NASA revive America’s human spaceflight program, stalled since space shuttle missions came to an end in 2011.
NASA has awarded SpaceX $2.6 billion, and aerospace rival Boeing Co. $4.2 billion to build separate rocket and capsule launch systems to carry US astronauts to and from the space station, an orbital research laboratory that flies 250 miles (402 km) above Earth.
“Following a full day of briefings and discussion, NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with plans to conduct the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station,” NASA said in a statement announcing its decision.


US senator asks FBI, FTC to probe Russia’s FaceApp that alters users’ photos

Updated 18 July 2019
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US senator asks FBI, FTC to probe Russia’s FaceApp that alters users’ photos

  • Chuck Schumer says the mobile software app could pose security risks
  • FaceApp has denied selling or sharing user data with third parties.
WASHINGTON: US Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called on the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a national security and privacy investigation into Russia-based FaceApp, whose mobile software application alters users’ photos, in a letter sent on Wednesday.
FaceApp’s artificial intelligence application for editing photos requires users to provide it with “full and irrevocable access to their personal photos and data,” which could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of US citizens,” Schumer said in his letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FTC Chairman Joe Simons.
Schumer posted the letter on his Twitter account.
Users’ photos can be edited to make a user look older or younger or to change their gender, he said.
“FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of US citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign governments, ” Schumer said in the letter.
It is not clear how the artificial intelligence application retains the data of users or how users may ensure the deletion of their data after usage, Schumer said.
Schumer said the photo editing app’s location in Russia raises questions about how FaceApp lets third parties, including foreign governments, have access to the data of American citizens.
In a statement cited by media outlets, FaceApp has denied selling or sharing user data with third parties.
“99% of users don’t log in; therefore, we don’t have access to any data that could identify a person,” the company said in a statement cited by TechCrunch, adding that most images are deleted from its servers within 48 hours of the upload date.
While the company’s research and development team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia, according to the statement.
FaceApp’s website says it has over 80 million active users. FaceApp’s website promotes the app by saying: “Transform your face using Artificial Intelligence with just one tap,” showing photos with changes in users’ appearances.