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Space Industry develops rapidly

The space industry is taking off after decades of stagnation. Driven largely by the rapidly developing space programs of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and China, the world saw 114 orbital launches in 2018 — the first triple-digit showing since 1990. This year, orbital launches are on track to exceed 130 for the first time since the 1970s. And that count doesn’t include recent suborbital tourism excursions from Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Between NASA planning its lunar return, SpaceX constructing a massive megaconstellation of internet satellites, China crewing a space station and suborbital companies sending crews of tourists to the edge of space, launches may soon become a daily occurrence. But will the new space boom come at a price to the planet? Researchers are scrambling to figure out how the Earth might react to more billowing plumes of rocket exhaust by studying the overall blend of carbon dioxide, soot, alumina and other particles collectively spewed by a proliferating variety of rockets. So far, the fledgling space industry does not seriously threaten the environment and likely has room to grow. Whether that will change as the new space race accelerates, however, is anyone’s guess. As the world grapples with transitioning away from fossil fuels, the rise of a new industry — especially one involving giant clouds gushing forth from mighty engines — might seem troubling. Most rockets do emit more planet-warming carbon than many planes. (CNBC)

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Electric vehicle maker Rivian said it has confidentially filed paperwork with regulators for an initial public offering, setting the stage for a blockbuster year-end market debut as it looks to tap into a red-hot IPO market in the US. Rivian, which counts Amazon.com, Soros Fund Management and BlackRock among its major investors, will seek a valuation of around US$70-80 billion at the time of its initial public offering, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday. At that valuation, Rivian would have a bigger market capitalization than General Motors Co, the largest U.S. automaker. But it would still be dwarfed by Tesla, which boasts of a market cap of nearly US$700 billion and is currently planning to build a pickup truck that would compete with Rivian’s own version. Rivian’s stock market flotation is expected to lead the year-end line-up for US IPOs, which have so far raised a record haul of over US$225 billion this year, according to data from Dealogic. (CNA)

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The US Commerce Department has denied any loosening of its trade restrictions on Huawei Technologies – but did not refute reports that the Chinese tech giant has won approval to procure American semiconductors for its automotive parts business. The policy has not been eased or amended, a department spokesperson said on Friday. The department was responding to the outcry that followed the recent news that it had approved an exemption to Huawei, which has been on the department’s entity list and prohibited from doing business with American suppliers, to buy auto chips. The department said that Huawei remained on the entity list and continued to be subject to Commerce’s licensing policy. Shortly after the news broke on Wednesday about the approval, Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state during the Trump administration, tweeted that “I worked to secure America from the Chinese Communist Party threat, esp. Huawei’s predatory espionage. (South China Morning Post) mannyrabacal1144@ gmail.com