TECH WEEKLY

November 20, 2020

SpaceX launches Crew-1 mission

On Monday night, the company’s Crew Dragon spaceship maneuvered into position in front of the ISS, slowly inched forward, then gently bumped into an ISS port and locked itself in. After hours of locking procedures, leak checks, and hatch openings, astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, floated into the open arms of their colleagues on the ISS.

The mission, called Crew-1, is the first of six operational astronaut flights that NASA has contracted from SpaceX. Assuming the astronauts stay on the ISS for six months as planned, it will be the longest human spaceflight in US history.

Not since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 has NASA sent humans to orbit from American soil in an operational mission. The launch for this particular mission has been delayed, pushed back and postponed multiple times – the original timeline included a launch date of November 2016. Four years and a few technical stumbles later, Resilience has now docked with the International Space Station.
Source: CNBC

Airbnb finally files for IPO

Airbnb, a vacation rental online marketplace company based in San Francisco, California, filed for an initial public offering on Monday. The company decided to trade on the Nasdaq exchange and chose the ticker symbol ABNB.

As a private company, Airbnb raised around $6.4 billion in funding from investors including FirstMark, General Atlantic, and Andreessen Horowitz. It last raised a $1 billion private equity round led by Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners, and $1 billion in debt financing in April 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic took a hammer to its business.

Airbnb’s business was severely hit by the pandemic and the winter projections have been significantly weakened due to the current situation. Although the company reported a profit of $219.3 million in the third quarter on $1.3 billion in revenue, this is still a drop of nearly 18% in revenue compared to the same quarter last year. This profit in the third quarter was a result of severe cost-cutting measures, which revealed just how much the pandemic has devastated the online booking and rental business. Airbnb’s second-quarter results plummeted due to countless booking cancellations and other pandemic-related impacts, leading to a net loss of $575.6 million. Its competitors Expedia and Booking reported similar results, with a 58% and 48% annual drop in their respective revenues.
Source: Tech Crunch

Nevada clears testing of self-driving cars from Hyundai-backed venture

Nevada has cleared the way for self-driving car operator Motional to test its fleet without any human drivers present.

Karl Iagnemma, the president and CEO of the company, said Tuesday that Nevada has given the company “permission to remove the driver from our vehicles.”

Iagnemma, whose AV startup nuTonomy was acquired by Aptiv in 2017 and has since evolved into Motional, said the company will spend the next several months completing what he describes as a “rigorous, self-imposed testing and assessment period.” That testing and assessment period, which is already underway, included studying the performance and safety of its vehicles on public and private roads. Based on that timeline, driverless testing on public roads will begin sometime in early 2021.

Motional is a joint venture of automaker Hyundai and technology company Aptiv. It has operations in Las Vegas, in addition to Pittsburgh; Santa Monica, California; Singapore and Seoul.
Source: The Verge