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Virgin Galactic will launch its first fully manned flight on 11 July including founder Richard Branson, who will enter space just over a week before fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos. 

The next test flight of the firm’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity will see Branson trying out the private astronaut experience that Virgin Galactic eventually plans to sell to rich space tourists at a price of around £175,000 per ticket.

It will be the twenty-second flight test for the ship and its fourth crewed spaceflight, although the first to carry a full crew of two pilots and four mission specialists in the cabin.

The flight is designed specifically for Branson and his crew to evaluate the commercial experience, including the cabin environment, seat comfort, the weightlessness, as well as the views of Earth that the spaceship delivers.

Following this flight the team plans to complete inspections of the vehicles and an extensive data review, which will inform the next steps in the test flight programme. Two additional test flights are planned before Galactic’s expected commencement of a commercial service in 2022. 

Sir Richard Branson said: “I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good.

“It’s one thing to have a dream of making space more accessible to all; it’s another for an incredible team to collectively turn that dream into reality.

“As part of a remarkable crew of mission specialists, I’m honoured to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also planning a trip to space on 20 July with his brother Mark as a passenger on the first crewed flight of New Shepard. Like Virgin Galactic, his space firm Blue Origin ultimately plans to have a space tourist option, with tickets costing around $200,000 to $300,000.

Virgin Galactic only received approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration last week following a successful test flight in May. There has been caution around the firm’s safety procedures following a test flight crash in 2014 that killed one of the pilots. IET Sites

Photo by TecheBlog

Apple AirPods Max are headphones for those who demand the ultimate in sound quality, and you can get a pair for $489 shipped, this weekend only, originally $549. Featuring a custom acoustic design, H1 chips, advanced software to power computational audio with Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and spatial audio. Product pageRead more for a hands-on video review and additional information.

  • Apple-designed dynamic driver provides high-fidelity audio
  • Active Noise Cancellation blocks outside noise, so you can immerse yourself in music
  • Transparency mode for hearing and interacting with the world around you
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking provides theater-like sound that surrounds you
  • Computational audio combines custom acoustic design with the Apple H1 chip and software for breakthrough listening experiences

Unlike its competition, AirPods Max boasts a breathable knit mesh canopy, spanning the headband, designed specially to distribute weight and reduce on-head pressure. Its stainless steel headband frame not only provides strength, flexibility, but also comfort for a wide variety of head shapes and sizes. Worried about them falling off? Make use of the telescoping headband arms to ensure they maintain the desired fit. 

AirPods are the most popular headphones in the world, beloved for their effortless setup, incredible sound quality, and iconic design. With AirPods Max, we are bringing that magical AirPods experience to a stunning over-ear design with high-fidelity audio. The custom acoustic design, combined with powerful H1 chips, and advanced software enable AirPods Max to use computational audio to wirelessly deliver the ultimate personal listening experience,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. TecheBlog

Photo The New Times


High school students undertaking Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects have been urged to consider mathematics as a needed tool in their daily routines.

The call was made by the state minister in charge of primary and secondary education during a ceremony to award the Team Rwanda winners in the Pan-African Mathematical Olympiad, which took place last week at AIMS Rwanda centre Remera Campus.

The six bronze medalists are Joseph Desire Abayo and Nadine Akimana from Ecole des Sciences Byimana, Honorine Munezero of Lycée Notre Dame de Cîteaux and Abdulkarim Mugisha from Riviera School.

Others are Jean Nepo Munezero from Petit Seminaire Ndera and GS Saint André’s Kelly Uwase.

According to Minister Twagirayezu, mathematics is not just numbers but a way of life.

“We are all aware that mathematics is not only numbers, but a tool to help individuals, organizations and the society at large to deal with the most pressing issues in our communities,” he said.

He also hailed the students and their respective schools for the stellar performance in the pa-African competition, saying that despite the Rwandan team being a first time participant, they managed to be top in East Africa and seventh across the continent.

“I would also like to take this time to thank everyone who was involved in preparing our champions. We know that it takes a village to educate a child and I would want to recognize the hard work of the parents, teachers, and coaches,” he added.

Twagirayezu also commended the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) which is the contest’s organiser.

“We also appreciate AIMS efforts for not only being a champion for mathematical sciences on the continent, but to also support us in strengthening mathematics and sciences in our schools,” he said.

Through the Teacher Training Programme, the minister said that AIMS has been training mathematics and science teachers in the country. This is an important step in ensuring that our teachers are properly prepared to train tomorrow’s problem solvers, he concluded.

Organised by AIMS, the Pan-African Mathematical Olympiad is the most prestigious high school mathematics competition on the continent and it focuses on testing the participants’ ability to think critically and solve problems. - Bertrand Byishimo, The New Times

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