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return SpaceX

Nasa SpaceX crew return: Dragon capsule splashes down – BBC News

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Media caption“Thank you for flying SpaceX” – Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken return to Earth

Two American astronauts have splashed down, as the first commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station returned to Earth.

The SpaceX Dragon Capsule carrying Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken came down in the Gulf of Mexico just south of Pensacola on Florida’s Gulf coast.

A recovery vessel moved in to pick up the vehicle and extricate the men.

The touchdown marks the first crewed US water landing since the final outing of an Apollo command module 45 years ago.

Hurley’s and Behnken’s capsule hit the water at about 14:48 EDT (19:48 BST; 18:48 GMT).

Private boats which came close to the Dragon were asked to leave amid concern over hazardous chemicals venting from the capsule’s propulsion system.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said the presence of the boats “was not what we were anticipating”.

“What is not common is having passersby approach the vehicle close range with nitrogen tetroxide in the atmosphere; that’s not something that is good,” he said. “And we need to make sure that we’re warning people not to get close to the spacecraft in the future.”

Photos of the boats were shared on social media.

“It’s truly our honour and privilege,” said Hurley as the astronauts arrived home.

“On behalf of the SpaceX and Nasa teams, welcome back to Planet Earth. Thanks for flying SpaceX,” SpaceX mission control responded.

President Donald Trump – who attended the capsule’s launch on 30 May – hailed its safe return.

“Thank you to all!” he tweeted. “Great to have NASA Astronauts return to Earth after very successful two month mission.”

Saving the government billions

The successful end to the crew’s mission initiates a new era for the American space agency.

All its human transport needs just above the Earth will in future be purchased from private companies, such as SpaceX.

The government agency says contracting out to service providers in this way will save it billions of dollars that can be diverted to getting astronauts to the Moon, as part of its Artemis programme, and afterwards to Mars.

The Dragon capsule launched to the space station at the end of May on a Falcon 9 rocket, also supplied by SpaceX.

Hurley’s and Behnken’s mission served as an end-to-end demonstration of the astronaut “taxi service” the company, owned by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, will be selling to Nasa from now on.

The Boeing corporation is also developing a crew capsule solution but has had to delay its introduction after encountering software problems on its Starliner vehicle.

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NASA/Bill Ingalls

The sight of the vehicle’s four main parachutes floating down over the Gulf of Mexico was confirmation the spacecraft had survived its fiery descent through the atmosphere.

The parachutes then slowed the capsule from about 350mph (560km/h) to just roughly 15mph (7m/s) at splashdown.

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NASA/Bill Ingalls

Rigging was used to hoist the capsule out of the water and on to the recovery vessel. Technicians monitored “remnant vapours” around the spacecraft before the hatch was opened.

The men were checked over by medical staff before being flown to shore by helicopter.

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Media captionWhat is SpaceX and why is it working with Nasa?

The astronauts’ Dragon capsule launched to the space station at the end of May on a Falcon 9 rocket, also supplied by SpaceX.

It will now be refurbished to fly again next year.

Mr Bridenstine lauded the efforts of everyone involved in Hurley’s and Behnken’s mission, and then spoke of his agency’s shift in philosophy.

“We don’t want to purchase, own and operate the hardware the way we used to,” he said.

“We want to be one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit. But we also want to have numerous providers that are competing against each other on cost and innovation and safety, and really create this virtuous cycle of economic development and capability.”

Gwynne Shotwell, the president of SpaceX, added: “Today is a great day. We should celebrate what we all accomplished here, bringing Bob and Doug back, but we should also think about this as a springboard to doing even harder things with the Artemis programme. And then, of course, moving on to Mars.”

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

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Anonymous return

The return of the Anonymous hacker collective – BBC News

An Anonymous mask is seen next to a US flag in this photograph, which was actually taken in Hong Kong during the pro-democracy protest there in 2src19

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Getty Images

As the United States deals with widespread civil unrest across dozens of cities, “hacktivist” group Anonymous has returned from the shadows.

The hacker collective was once a regular fixture in the news, targeting those it accused of injustice with cyber-attacks.

After years of relative quiet, it appears to have re-emerged in the wake of violent protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, promising to expose the “many crimes” of the city’s police to the world.

However, it’s not easy to pin down what, if anything, is genuinely the mysterious group’s work.

Who are Anonymous?

The “hacktivist” collective has no face, and no leadership. Its tagline is simply “we are legion”, referring to its allegedly large numbers of individuals.

Without any central command structure, anyone can claim to be a part of the group.

This also means that members can have wildly different priorities, and there is no single agenda.

But generally, they are activists, taking aim at those they accuse of misusing power. They do so in very public ways, such as hijacking websites or forcing them offline.

Their symbol is a Guy Fawkes mask, made famous by Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta, in which an anarchist revolutionary dons the mask to topple a corrupt fascist government.

What actions have they taken?

Various forms of cyber-attack are being attributed to Anonymous in relation to the George Floyd protests.

First, the Minneapolis police department website was temporarily taken offline over the weekend in a suspected Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

This is an unsophisticated but effective form of cyber-attack that floods a server with data until it can’t keep up and stops working – in the same way that shopping websites can go offline when too many people flood it to snap up high-demand products.

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Media captionEXPLAINED: What is a DDoS attack?

A database of email addresses and passwords claiming to be hacked from the police department’s system is also in circulation, and being linked to Anonymous.

However, there is no evidence that the police servers have been hacked and one researcher, Troy Hunt, says the credentials are likely to have been compiled from older data breaches.

A page on the website of a minor United Nations agency has been turned into a memorial for Mr Floyd, replacing its contents with the message “Rest in Power, George Floyd”, along with an Anonymous logo.

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UN

On Twitter, unverified posts have also gone viral, apparently showing police radios playing music and preventing communication.

However, experts suggest it is unlikely to be a hack, and could instead be the result of a stolen piece of hardware being commandeered by protesters on the scene – if the videos are genuine in the first place.

Anonymous activists are also circulating years-old accusations against President Trump, taken from documents in a civil court case that was voluntarily dismissed by the accuser before it went to trial.

Have they acted over race issues before?

Despite there being no single unified approach among Anonymous’ members, the group has targeted groups over race relations in the past.

In 2014, when the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, prompted widespread protests, members of Anonymous threatened to target the city if protesters were harmed.

They then disabled the city’s website, compromising communications at city hall, and targeting the city’s police chief.

Later that year, they “declared war” on the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), releasing personal details of alleged members online.

Some Anonymous members also attacked the campaign group Black Lives Matter’s website over alleged “anti-white racism”.

Is this return credible?

George Floyd’s death has led to what the BBC’s New York correspondent Nick Bryant described as the most widespread racial turbulence and civil unrest since the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.

It is against this backdrop that a Facebook page claiming to be linked to Anonymous released a video about Mr Floyd’s death, alleging a string of other crimes involving Minneapolis police, and threatening to act.

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Facebook

The same Facebook page posted similar videos about UFOs and “China’s plan for world domination” in recent weeks which – like the George Floyd video – feature an electronically-disguised voice discussing previously published news stories.

But it received much wider attention after the Minneapolis police department’s website appeared to be knocked offline.

Is this the sort of cyber-attack what Anonymous is known for?

The first major Anonymous operation to make headlines was against the Church of Scientology in 2008, in which it used DDoS attacks to knock some of the organisation’s websites offline, along with prank calls and empty fax messages designed to disrupt their communications.

In the years that followed, in the aftermath of a global financial crisis, the group acted in support of the Arab Spring protest movements, targeted Sony Entertainment over its attempt to crack down on hacking of the PlayStation 3 console, and supported the Occupy Wall Street protests, among others.

They have continued to lend support to similar causes, and staged anti-establishment rallies around the world, but their prominence in mainstream media had diminished in recent years.

The revolutionary image and willingness to take on powerful entities, however, appears to be striking a chord during the current crisis in the United States.

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companies return

Only 13 companies have said they will return coronavirus small business loans – New York Post

April 27, 2020 | 10:15am | Updated April 27, 2020 | 2:24pm

A tiny fraction of the publicly traded companies that got coronavirus loans have pledged to give them back — despite urging from the feds and a public outcry, records show.

Just 13 public firms that received a combined $98.5 million through the federal Paycheck Protection Program — which was meant to help Main Street merchants keep workers employed — have said they would return the loans as of early Monday afternoon, according to regulatory filings compiled by data-analysis firm FactSquared.

That suggests many of the 223 public companies that received so-called PPP loans will keep them — despite the Small Business Administration urging firms to repay them by May 7. Some companies may still be deciding whether to return their loans while others may have yet to publicly disclose their decision.

Companies returning funds include five big restaurant chains that qualified for the so-called PPP loans even though they each employ more than 1,000 people. The program allowed pandemic-battered restaurant companies to apply as long as they had no more than 500 employees at any one location.

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, the company behind Ruth’s Chris Steak House, has pledged to return two loans worth $20 million while sit-down chain J. Alexander’s will return $15.1 million, SEC filings show. Fast-casual chains Shake Shack and Potbelly Sandwich Shop are each giving back $10 million and California-based Kura Sushi is returning $5.9 million.

Some lesser-known health care and biotechnology companies are also returning their loans. Among them is Wave Life Sciences, which got $7.2 million weeks after disclosing hefty losses and telling investors it could be “many years” before it had any products ready to sell, the Associated Press reported last week.

The other public companies returning PPP loans include:

  • IDT Corporation ($10 million)
  • Aquestive Therapeutics ($4.8 million)
  • OptiNose ($4.4 million)
  • Ultralife Corporation ($3.4 million)
  • Ballantyne Strong ($3.1 million)
  • BK Technologies Corporation ($2.1 million)
  • BioLife Solutions ($2.1 million)

Scores of public companies snagged at least $872 million in PPP loans as the program burned through its initial $349 billion budget in just two weeks, according to FactSquared data. The Small Business Administration started accepting loan applications again Monday morning after Congress approved $310 billion in new funding last week.

The US Treasury Department warned last week that public companies with “substantial market value and access to capital markets” would be unlikely to qualify for the program because they could not say “in good faith” that they needed the loans to keep operating amid the pandemic.

But firms run by one of the program’s biggest beneficiaries — hotel tycoon Monty Bennett — have no plans to give back the money. Bennett is tied to three publicly traded hotel companies that said they applied for $126 million in loans through various subsidiaries.

“The PPP program was specifically designed to help companies like ours as part of the national objective of shoring up businesses and getting people back to work,” the companies — Ashford Inc., Ashford Hospitality Trust and Braemar Hotels & Resorts — said in a statement. “We … intend to use the PPP funds to do our part.”

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