SpaceX launches first satellites for Musk’s Starlink Internet service

A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket with a payload of 60 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network, lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Florida Today via AP)
Updated 24 May 2019
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SpaceX launches first satellites for Musk’s Starlink Internet service

  • The rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 10:30 p.m. local time
  • The Falcon 9 was due to release its cargo of 60 satellites into orbit about an hour after Thursday’s launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: High-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX company launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida on Thursday on a mission to carry the first batch of five dozen small satellites into low-Earth orbit for his new Starlink Internet service.
The rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 10:30 p.m. local time (0230 GMT Friday), marking a milestone in a global enterprise aimed at generating cash for Musk’s larger ambitions in space.
The launch came a week after two back-to-back countdowns for the mission were scrubbed — once due to high winds over the Cape and the next night in order to update satellite software and “triple-check” all systems.
The Falcon 9 was due to release its cargo of 60 satellites into orbit about an hour after Thursday’s launch. Each one weighs 500 pounds (227 kg), making it the heaviest payload for any SpaceX rocket to date.
Those satellites are designed to form the initial phase a planned constellation capable of beaming signals for high-speed Internet service from space to paying customers around the globe.
Musk has said he sees the new Starlink venture as an important new revenue stream for his California-based Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, whose launch service income he expects to top out at around $3 billion a year.

Speaking to reporters last week, Musk said that makes Starlink pivotal in helping pay for his larger goals of developing a new spacecraft to fly paying customers to the moon and for eventually trying to colonize Mars.
“We think this is a key stepping stone on the way toward establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon,” said Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who is also chief executive officer of automaker Tesla Inc.
At least 12 launches carrying similar payloads are needed to achieve constant Internet coverage of most of the world, Musk said. Starlink is only currently authorized for operations in the United States.
Musk faces stiff competition. In February, Airbus SE-backed OneWeb launched its own clutch of satellites, while LeoSat Enterprises and Canada’s Telesat are also working to build data networks.
In each network, the tiny satellites orbit closer to Earth than traditional communications satellites, a technological shift made possible by advances in laser technology and computer chips.
Musk said SpaceX would begin approaching customers later this year or next year. As many as 2,000 satellites will be launched per year, with the ultimate objective of placing up to 12,000 into orbit.


Travel platform creates new job opportunities for Egyptian guides

Updated 21 September 2019

Travel platform creates new job opportunities for Egyptian guides

  • Showaround is a platform that allows travelers to hire locals as personal tour guides

CAIRO: Apps have become increasingly popular in Egypt in recent years, creating new job opportunities and challenging traditional business and marketing channels.

For instance, Uber has around 90,000 monthly active drivers in the country, and Airbnb has grown massively.

Showaround, a platform that allows travelers to hire locals as personal tour guides, has attracted more than 6,300 locals.

“It’s a wave of change. It’s the fourth industrial revolution. Expect more and more apps to change how business is done,” Mohsen Aziz, 41, a software company owner in Cairo, told Arab News.

“Moreover, it opens up the space for new job opportunities and new products and services that were almost impossible to offer previously.”

Aziz said of Showaround: “Regardless of the local guides’ background, they still get recruited by global tourists. Subscribers’ profile picture, write up and service users’ reviews drive demand.”

On the app, men and women, primarily aged 21-35, post interesting pictures that include ancient sites, yoga positions and hiking.

Tour prices range from $3 to $15 per hour, but many locals offer their services for free to gain reviews.

“While I’m happy we’re driving better tourist services through such platforms, I’m concerned that these locals aren’t trained or have enough of a background to be ambassadors for our country to explain thousands of years of history,” said professional tour guide Rasha Hussein.

“Guides should get government licenses to practice. It doesn’t sound fair. We spent years studying and practicing to be eligible.”

Egypt aims to attract 12 million tourists in the fiscal year 2019-20, an 11 percent increase from 2018-19, according to government plans.

The Tourism Ministry recently announced partnerships with six international companies, including CNN and Expedia, to promote tourism through global platforms and modernize marketing mechanisms for Egyptian tourist destinations.

The government aims to increase the number of tourist nights spent in Egypt to 127 million, compared to 113 million in 2018-19.

Egypt’s tourism revenues reached $11.4 billion in 2018, an increase of around 50 percent ($7.6 billion) from 2017, according to figures from the Tourism Ministry.