In the last five years, Twitter has grown to 100 million monthly users, says the company, with about half of them logging in at least once a day. The analytics tool was debuted at the TechCrunch Disrupt event where Twitter’s director of Web business development April Underwood said the platform is driving 100 million clicks per day to sites across the Web, reports TechCrunch’s Leena Rao.Underwood told attendees that the analytics tool will be free. The company also plans to make the Twitter Web Analytics API available to developers to incorporate it into their products.TechCrunch has video from Underwood’s announcement at the Disrupt show. On Tuesday Twitter announced that it’s launching a new analytics tool that will initially be available to a select group of partners as a pilot program, but will be made available to everyone in the “next few weeks.”The tool will enable Web site developers to more accurately measure Twitter traffic referrals and how well the Twitter features they’ve integrated into their sites are performing.The tool is essentially the result of Twitter’s acquisition of BackType in July. According to the company’s announcement yesterday, the tool will have three core functions: the ability to understand how content is being shared across Twitter; the ability to measure the traffic Twitter is sending to a site; and measuring the effectiveness of the Tweet button integration.
Google Pay 99+ $899 Apple Aug 31 • Your phone screen is gross. Here’s how to clean it Authentication Best Buy Credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards Now playing: Watch this: 41 countries worldwide 29 countries worldwide Android phones with NFC and HCE support running KitKat (4.4) or higher Availability (see note below) Which one wins? Ultimately, choosing one of these payment systems is tied to your ecosystem and availability in your location. For Apple users, your only choice in the real world is Apple Pay, while Android users must use Google Pay. Samsung owners can choose between Samsung Pay or Google Pay — you can have both on your phone, but you will need to set one as the default and change that setting if you want to use the other. For sheer compatibility across the widest range of terminals, Samsung Pay wins because of MST technology. But paying in supported apps and websites is most seamless with Apple Pay, and Google Pay offers the most flexible way to pay friends, regardless of what phone they use. Editors’ note: This article was previously published on June 12, 2018. It is consistently updated with new information.Best phones of 2018: CNET editors pick the phones with the best cameras, screens and battery life. Mobile payments in the US still suck: Here’s why. iPhone X vs. Galaxy S9 Plus: Photos from our comparison Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. $899 Aug 31 • Verizon vs AT&T vs T-Mobile vs Sprint: Choose the best 5G carrier FaceID or fingerprint Now playing: Watch this: Where can you use? Works with NFC, magnetic stripe or EMV terminals, in-app purchases Samsung Galaxy phones since the Galaxy Note 5, Gear Watch and Gear Watch Active, Gear S2 and S3 Comments Credit, debit and loyalty cards 24 countries worldwide Apple Pay 4:32 Apple Pay vs. Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay See It Apple Pay is available for browser payments in Safari, and you’ll need to authenticate with your fingerprint or FaceID. You can do this from an iPhone or iPad; a MacBook Pro with fingerprint support; or a Mac and verify with an iPhone or Apple Watch. Google Pay offers browser payments as well in Chrome, Safari and Firefox, but not many online stores use it yet. Samsung Pay and Google Pay work on the 340,000 sites that use Visa Checkout, if you’re shopping from your phone. Chase Pay users also have the option to link their wallets with Samsung Pay.All three services also work when checking out in several apps. Advantage: All three Check your Apple Pay Cash balance through the Wallet app. Jason Cipriani/CNET Peer-to-peer payments Apple Pay and Google Pay are the only two services that let you pay friends. Samsung Pay does not currently have a peer-to-peer option. With Apple Pay Cash, you can send money to contacts with Apple IDs through iMessage. Unfortunately, that means you’re cut off from anyone who doesn’t have an Apple device. Money can be stored on your virtual card in the Wallet app or you can withdraw to your bank account. Apple Pay Cash is only available in the US for now. You can pay any phone number or email address from the Google Pay app on iOS, Android or from the desktop interface. (This was previously found in the Google Pay Send app.) Like Apple Pay, you can keep a balance or withdraw to your bank account. Paying friends through Google Pay is available in the US and coming soon to UK users.Advantage: Google Pay $611 Fingerprint, PIN, pattern or password See It Wide variety of banks: full list here Apple iPhone X Wide variety of banks: full list here; PayPal Amazon Wide variety of banks: full list here; PayPal Works with NFC terminals, in-app and web purchases Tags Preview • iPhone X: We’ve already got one. Here’s what it’s like. With regards to availability, once you’ve added your cards to one of these mobile wallets you should be able to use them in any country that accepts contactless payments, as long as you would normally be able to use your physical card in that location. In the case of Samsung Pay, that also includes any terminal with a magnetic card reader.When you make a transaction with Samsung Pay, you’ll see a transaction notification pop up. Lexy Savvides/CNET Technology and availability Apple Pay and Google Pay use NFC, or near-field communication, to power contactless payments. Just tap your phone to a compatible terminal and the transaction is complete. Samsung Pay uses NFC and a technology called magnetic secure transmission (MST). When you hold the phone against any terminal, it emits a signal that simulates the magnetic strip on a card. This means it works with pretty much all terminals, without the merchant having to update their point of sale systems. The one situation where MST won’t work is when you need to insert a card into a slot, like at a gas station. Offline payments are also supported on all three platforms, so you can make a limited number of transactions if you have no cell or Wi-Fi signal. You are also able to use these mobile wallets to tap and go on public transit systems in various cities around the world.Advantage: Samsung Pay Security Mobile payment systems use a method called tokenization to keep card details secure. Once you add your cards to the app, it generates a virtual account number and your real card number is never given to the merchant. When you tap your phone to make a payment, it sends the tokenized card number and a cryptogram that acts like a password. The card network then verifies and processes the payment. Apple requires you to authenticate using TouchID (fingerprint), FaceID or PIN before a payment can go through. Samsung requires an iris scan, fingerprint or PIN to confirm purchases. But Google Pay only needs your phone to be unlocked with fingerprint, password, pattern or PIN before transactions can go through. If you lose your phone, all three allow you to remotely wipe the device which will also remove all your card details. Advantage: Apple Pay (though TouchID is still more convenient than FaceID) The Google Pay interface on a phone. Google Other ways to pay You’re not only tied to the phone. Here’s how you can also use them: Apple Pay: Apple Watch (in stores); on the iPad and Mac (for online purchases). Google Pay: on some Android Wear watches. Samsung Pay: Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Watch Active, Gear Sport, S2 and S3 (but MST support is only available on the Gear S3). Mobile payments are a mess. Here’s why See it Review • iPhone X review: This iPhone XS predecessor is still a contender $949 Mentioned Above Apple iPhone X (64GB, Space Gray) Which banks? Samsung Pay Mobile payments comparison See It CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Compatible devices 7:31 38 Photos Boost Mobile Apple iPhones since the SE, Apple Watch, MacBook Pro with TouchID, iPads since 5th generation, iPad Pro and iPad Mini reading • Apple Pay vs. Google Pay vs. Samsung Pay: Mobile payments compared Cards Aug 31 • iPhone XR vs. iPhone 8 Plus: Which iPhone should you buy? Fingerprint, PIN or iris Works with NFC terminals, in-app purchases and web purchases in Safari • See All Mobile payments could soon make your wallet obsolete by allowing you to pay with just the tap of your phone or smartwatch. But they’ve had a slow roll-out and not all options are made equal. The three most established systems are from Apple, Samsung and Google, although some wearables from brands such as Garmin and Fitbit also offer their own payment systems. So how do Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay compare, and which one is more widely accepted right now? Share your voice Credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards Aug 31 • iPhone 11, Apple Watch 5 and more: The final rumors Fitbit Target Apple Pay Garmin NFC Google Samsung Apple Phones
Best Buy Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case: $155 (save $45) DJI Osmo Action camera: $261 (save $89) Turo Elon Musk shows off the shiny SpaceX Starship $999 See at Amazon See It Rylo Apple iPhone XS Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) JBL Soundgear wearable speaker: $90 (save $160) 1 The Cheapskate Read DJI Osmo Action preview Rylo 5.8K 360 Video Camera: $250 (save $250) See at Turo Comment Lenovo Smart Clock: $59.99 (save $20) TVs Speakers Mobile Accessories Cameras Laptops Automobiles Smart Speakers & Displays The business end of the SpaceX Starship hopper prototype Elon Musk/SpaceX Less than three years after dazzling the world with a slideshow about going to Mars, SpaceX founder and real-life comic book character Elon Musk aims to present a progress report. But we’ll have to wait until after his red planet rocket gets off the ground for the first time.Musk said Sunday on Twitter that he “will do Starship presentation a few weeks after Hopper hovers, so prob late July.” Turo: Save $30 on any car rental Read the Rylo camera preview 7 Spotify and most other streaming services rely on compressed audio, which robs the listener of full fidelity. Enter Tidal, the only “major” service that delivers lossless audio — meaning at least on par with CD quality, if not better. Want to see (er, hear) the difference for yourself? Grab this excellent extended trial while you can. It’s just $6 for three months, and it’s good for up to six listeners. What’s cooler: A snapshot of a firework exploding in front of you, or full 360-degree video of all the fireworks and all the reactions to seeing them? Oooh, ahhh, indeed. At $250, the compact Rylo dual-lens camera is selling for its lowest price yet. And for an extra $50, you can get the bundle that includes the waterproof housing.This deal runs through Sept. 3; it usually costs $500. CNET may get a commission from retail offers. $999 Google Nest Hub: $59 (save $70) $90 at Daily Steals via Google Express Sarah Tew/CNET I thought this might be a mistake, but, no, the weirdly named HP Laptop 15t Value is indeed quite the value at this price. Specs include an Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive and a 15.6-inch display. However, I strongly recommend paying an extra $50 to upgrade that display to FHD (1,920×1,080), because you’re not likely to be happy with the native 1,366×768 resolution. Formerly known as the Google Home Hub, Google’s Nest Hub packs a wealth of Google Assistant goodness into a 7-inch screen. At $59, this is within a buck of the best price we’ve seen. It lists for $129 and sells elsewhere in the $89-to-$99 range.This is one item of many available as part of eBay’s Labor Day Sale (which, at this writing, doesn’t specifically mention Labor Day, but that’s how it was pitched to us). $59 at eBay Tags Angela Lang/CNET Share your voice HP Laptop 15t Value: $520 (save $780) $60 at Best Buy Sarah Tew/CNET 16 Photos $999 Read the AirPods review Chris Monroe/CNET Read Lenovo Smart Clock review Sci-Tech Lenovo 130-15AST 15.6-inch laptop: $210 (save $90) Will do Starship presentation a few weeks after Hopper hovers, so prob late July. If that timing works, free LJ chips for all present!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2019 An Echo Dot makes a fine match for any Fire edition TV, because you can use the latter to say things like, “Alexa, turn on the TV.” Right now, the 24-inch Insignia Fire TV Edition starts at just $100, while the 32-inch Toshiba Fire TV Editions is on sale for $130. Just add any Fire TV Edition to your cart, then add a third-gen Echo Dot, and presto: The latter is free. Share your voice Sarah Tew/CNET $261 at Daily Steals via Google Express $155 at Google Express Read Google Home Hub review See It Sprint Though not technically a Labor Day sale, it’s happening during Labor Day sale season — and it’s too good not to share. Nationwide Distributors, via Google Express, has just about the best AirPods deal we’ve seen (when you apply promo code ZBEDWZ at checkout). This is for the second-gen AirPods with the wireless charging case. Can’t imagine these will last long at this price, so if you’re interested, act fast. The problem with most entry-level laptops: They come with mechanical hard drives. That makes for a mighty slow Windows experience. This Lenovo model features a 128GB solid-state drive, so it should be pretty quick to boot and load software, even with its basic processor. Plus, it has a DVD-burner! That’s not something you see in many modern laptops, especially at this price. Comments See it $520 at HP Use promo code 19LABOR10 to get an unusually good deal on JBL’s interesting hybrid product — not quite headphones, and not quite a traditional speaker, but something you wear like neckphones to listen to music on the go. Elon Musk Space SpaceX,I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that stores are turning Labor Day into an excuse to sell stuff. Wait — no, I’m not. As much as I respect the original intent of the holiday (which became official back in 1894), to most of us, it’s just a bonus day off — one that’s blissfully tacked onto a weekend. So, yeah, stores; go ahead, run your sales. I’m listening. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Labor Day doesn’t bring out bargains to compete with the likes of Black Friday (which will be here before you know it), but there are definitely some sales worth your time.For example:We’ve rounded up the best Labor Day mattress deals.We’ve also gathered the best Labor Day laptop deals at Best Buy.The 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum is back under $999.Be sure to check out Amazon’s roughly three dozen Labor Day deals on TVs and audio. Google Express is having a big sale as well, one that includes deals on game consoles, AirPods, iPhones, laptops and more.Below I’ve rounded up a handful of individual items I consider to be the cream of the crop, followed by a handy reference guide to other Labor Day sales. Keep in mind, of course, that products may sell out at any time, even if the sale itself is still running. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. $6 at Tidal See It Recently updated to include digital-photo-frame capabilities, the Lenovo Smart Clock brings Google Assistant goodness to your nightstand. It’s a little smaller than the Amazon Echo Show 5, but also a full $30 less (and tied with Prime Day pricing) during this Best Buy Labor Day sale. $299 at Amazon Turo is kind of like Uber meets Airbnb: You borrow someone’s car, but you do all the driving. I’ve used it many times and found it a great alternative to traditional car-rental services — in part because you get to choose exactly the vehicle you want (not just, say, “midsize”) and in part because you can often do pickup and dropoff right outside baggage claim.Between now and Sept. 1, the first 300 people to check out can get $30 off any Turo rental with promo code LDW30. Other Labor Day sales you should check out Best Buy: In addition to some pretty solid MacBook deals that have been running for about a week already, Best Buy is offering up to 40% off major appliances like washers, dryers and stoves. There are also gift cards available with the purchase of select appliances. See it at Best BuyDell: Through Aug. 28, Dell is offering an extra 12% off various laptops, desktops and electronics. And check back starting Aug. 29 for a big batch of Labor Day doorbusters. See it at DellGlassesUSA: Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 only, you can save 65% on all frames with promo code labor65. See it at GlassesUSALenovo: The tech company is offering a large assortment of deals and doorbusters through Labor Day, with the promise of up to 56% off certain items — including, at this writing, the IdeaPad 730S laptop for $700 (save $300).See it at LenovoLensabl: Want to keep the frames you already love and paid for? Lensabl lets you mail them in for new lenses, based on your prescription. From now through Sept. 2 only, you can save 20% on the blue light-blocking lens option with promo code BLOCKBLUE. See it at LensablSears: Between now and Sept. 7, you can save up to 40% on appliances (plus an additional 10% if you shop online), up to 60% on mattresses, up to 50% on Craftsman products and more. The store is also offering some fairly hefty cashback bonuses. See it at SearsNote: This post was published previously and is continuously updated with new information.CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page, and find more great buys on the CNET Deals page. $999 Sarah Tew/CNET Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR $210 at Best Buy Free Echo Dot with an Insignia or Toshiba TV (save $50) DJI’s answer to GoPro’s action cameras is rugged little model that’s shockproof, dustproof and waterproof down to 11 meters. It normally runs $350, but this deal drops it to $261 when you apply promo code 19LABOR10 at checkout. Boost Mobile SpaceX has been building a Starhopper prototype of its Starship vehicle at the company’s facility in south Texas. Starship is the vehicle Musk and SpaceX hope to use for a highly publicized trip around the moon in a few years, as well as for future trips to Mars and perhaps even very quick international flights via space. So far, testing of Starhopper has been limited to hold-down firings of its single Raptor engine. Plans for it to actually lift off the ground and at least hover (or “hop”) before landing have been delayed in recent weeks. Musk also said Sunday that Starhopper is “almost ready to hover” after a vibration problem with the Raptor engine was resolved. The Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO has conceded in the past that he isn’t always great about sticking to his own timelines. Starship, however, seems like it could be progressing steadily toward a first crewed trip to Mars in 2024 as hoped. Of course, it still has to get off the ground first. Tidal 3-month family subscription: $5.99 (save $54) Tags Amazon
[Representational Image]The future of the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka is at stake due to the ongoing political turmoil prevailing in the state after the resignation of 14 MLAs.Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy returned from the US and held meetings with the party leaders of both the Congress and the JD(S) on Sunday (July 7) night. The 13-month-old coalition has faced several hurdles but is still unsuccessful in having a stable government.Although Congress has accused the BJP of poaching its legislators to destabilise the government by offering them money and power, the party leaders are confident of the coalition government completing its term. The Congress party has given an Adjournment Motion Notice in Lok Sabha to discuss the political crisis in the state.The Congress troubleshooter and water resources minister DK Shivakumar has also accused the saffron party of the political drama unfolding in the state. He said that the BJP is indulging in ‘Operation Kamala’ to sabotage the coalition. Even though DKS tried to pacify the rebel MLAs to retreat from their resignation, they are adamant on quitting. After submitting their resignations, 10 MLAs from the coalition government left for Mumbai and is camping at Sofitel Hotel.Meanwhile, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara has called all the Congress ministers of the state for a breakfast at his Sadshivnagar residence.
The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) logo is seen at the BSE building in Mumbai, India, January 25, 2017. Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) policies have helped buoy banking stocks. ReutersBanking and financial institution stocks have been outperforming the market from December when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) began pumping liquidity into the economy, despite some bad debt woes. HDFC Bank may have emerged as the best bet for equity investors as it has helped deliver for top fund managers more growth than the National Stock Exchange (NSE) Nifty 50. No wonder that four of the five equity mutual funds that topped the 11.7 per cent growth of the National Stock Exchange’s (NSE) benchmark index, which rose from a low of 10,488 on December 10 close to mark a high of 11,761 on April 3, had HDFC Bank as one of the top three stakes on their portfolios.Since former bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das took over as RBI governor from Urjit Patel, who left after strident criticism by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over a liquidity squeeze that smothered economic growth, the central bank has taken a series of measures to help build liquidity in the market. The economy’s liquidity is vital for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is heading the coalition government of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), in the general election 2019.The RBI added to the liquidity by reducing the repo rates twice by 25 basis points each. It is making available to the government dividend to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore, a substantial part of which has gone to recapitalise the ailing public sector banks that have been victims of bad loans and banking scams including by some high-profile economic offence fugitives who fled the country. Foreign institutional investors (FII) have sustained a healthy net fund inflow through the first three months of the year, sustaining a long due market rally.From October 31, 2018, low of 1885, HDFC Bank rallied to top 2,332 on April 1, 2019. The stock has come off the highs during the last two weeks, with the chart last week showing signs of a reversal, closing the week on Friday at 2,265 after hitting a high of 2,272. HDFC Bank building. The top private bank has been one of the top three stocks on the portfolios of four of the five funds that beat the benchmark index in growth since December 2018.ReutersNifty Bank has been doing well over the last two quarters with the sectoral benchmark hitting an all-time high of 30,648 on April 1, 2019. After a consolidation over the past two weeks, technical experts say another uptrend is in sight unless there is some grave election campaign goof-up on the part of the ruling party. The daily chart is showing the bullish inverted hammer on April 11, and closed the week on Friday at 29,938, coming off the day’s high of 30,000. With the RSI (relative strength indicator) reigning above 60 showing strong momentum and price action above the Ichimoku cloud, experts suggest the prices must be headed north.Of the five funds that the Economic Times surveyed last week, the HDFC Multicap Fund, IIFL Focused Equity Fund, Franklin India Focused Equity, and SBI Focused Equity Fund had HDFC Bank as one of the three top stocks on their portfolios. Only HDFC Equity Fund did not include the bank stock. The HSBC Multicap Fund, which has Rs 516 crore assets under management (AUM) achieved 13.14 per cent growth while IIFL Focused Equity Fund with Rs 164 crore AUM notched up 16.33 per cent growth, according to the report. SBI Focused Equity Fund with Rs 3,580 crore AUM came with returns to the tune of 13.11 per cent while Franklin India Focused Equity handling Rs 7,445 crore achieved returns of 13.84 per cent. Only the Rs 22,503-crore HDFC Equity Fund’s 12.95 per cent returns were managed without HDFC Bank on its portfolio.
Photo via Twitter @US_ag_policyThe Environmental Protection Agency says an internal task force appointed to revamp how the nation’s most polluted sites are cleaned up generated no record of its deliberations.EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May announced the creation of a Superfund Task Force that he said would reprioritize and streamline procedures for remediating more than 1,300 sites. Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, appointed a political supporter from his home state with no experience in pollution cleanups to lead the group.The task force in June issued a nearly three dozen-page report containing 42 detailed recommendations, all of which Pruitt immediately adopted. The advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, known as PEER, quickly filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking a long list of documents related to the development of Pruitt’s plan.After EPA didn’t immediately release any records, PEER sued.Now, nearly six months after the task force released its report, a lawyer for EPA has written PEER to say that the task force had no agenda for its meetings, kept no minutes and used no reference materials.Further, there were no written criteria for selecting the 107 EPA employees the agency says served on the task force or background materials distributed to them during the deliberative process for creating the recommendations.According to EPA, the task force also created no work product other than its final report.“Pruitt’s plan for cleaning up toxic sites was apparently immaculately conceived, without the usual trappings of human parentage,” said Jeff Ruch, the executive director of PEER. “It stretches credulity that 107 EPA staff members with no agenda or reference materials somehow wrote an intricate plan in 30 days.”The recommendations adopted by Pruitt include prioritizing cleanup sites that can be redeveloped for new construction or where nearby residents are under threat from spreading pollution. EPA held no public hearings about the plan.“Task force members were all volunteers from EPA staff with no selection criteria,” Johnny Walker, a Justice Department lawyer representing EPA, wrote to PEER last month. “The Task Force recommendations were intended to provide guidance to EPA staff. As such, there was no plan for public review and comment on the recommendations.”Pruitt has pledged to make mitigating decades-old pollution EPA’s core mission, even as he has moved to block or delay Obama-era regulations aimed at curbing ongoing contamination from coal-fired power plants and fossil-fuel production.President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget seeks to cut the program by 30 percent. Congress has not yet approved a budget for the current fiscal year, which began in October.The task force was led by Albert “Kell” Kelly, whom Pruitt hired at EPA as a senior adviser at an annual salary of $172,100. Kelly was previously the chairman of Tulsa-based SpiritBank, where he worked as an executive for 34 years.The Associated Press reported in August that Kelly was barred by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from working for any U.S. financial institution after officials determined he violated laws or regulations, leading to a financial loss for his bank. The FDIC’s order didn’t detail what Kelly is alleged to have done. Without admitting wrongdoing, he agreed to pay a $125,000 penalty. Share
Share David J. Phillip/APNASA Mission Control founder Chris Kraft in the old mission control at Johnson Space Center in Houston. This original mission control of the Apollo era is a national historic landmark.One of NASA’s first employees, key to creating the U.S. space program, has died at 95. Chris Kraft was the agency’s first flight director and managed all of the Mercury missions, as well some of the Gemini flights. He was a senior planner during the Apollo lunar program. Later he led the Johnson Space Center in Houston and oversaw development of the space shuttle.Anyone who has ever watched a rocket launch, marveled at the moon landings or seen the space station streak across the night sky can thank Kraft. “Chris Kraft really was the architect of mission control,” said Andrew Chaikin, who has written extensively about the space program. He says Kraft is synonymous with NASA, having directed some of the most important missions in the agency’s history including NASA’s first manned launch in 1961.It was a short, 15-minute suborbital flight piloted by Alan Shepard. A recording of the controllers during the mission captures Kraft coolly talking to his colleagues. In a 2015 NPR interview, Kraft said he might have sounded cool, “but I was shaking like a leaf. I wasn’t too bad after the first one. But that first one was something else.”During the 1960s, NASA was full of ideas and energy as the agency rushed to meet the end-of-decade challenge to land humans on the moon. The organization took risks and succeeded, in large part because of Kraft.He was a quick study (he finished his aeronautical engineering degree at Virginia Tech in two years). He joined NASA not long after it was created in 1958 and helped design a space program from scratch. It was a mighty undertaking. There were so many things he had to think through — like developing a communications system that would allow him to speak to the crew every 15 minutes. “What do I have to do to do that?” he asked, “Well, I had to build a whole damn worldwide network which had never been before. That, in itself, was quite a job.”In addition to the technical, he had to put together his team: dozens of controllers who monitored the astronauts and their spacecraft — anything to do with the mission. Chaikin said, “He was the general in battle with his troops and, you know, he had to coordinate all of them. He had to digest all these bits of data that were coming at him from all these different systems, all these different flight controllers.”“When I gave them the job,” Kraft recalled, “I said it’s your job to now take this on and get it done. I’m not going to stand behind you and push you. You come up with your ideas on how to do it.”His leadership was tested after the Apollo 1 launchpad fire in 1967. Three astronauts died during a countdown rehearsal. Kraft said he wrestled with whether the rush to the moon ultimately killed the crew. “We allowed the poor workmanship to happen,” he said. “That was unforgivable, frankly. That we knew it was happening. We weren’t willing to stop the wheels to fix it.” He said he never got over the disaster.After he retired in 1982, Kraft complained about the high cost of developing the next generation of rockets and NASA’s plans to land humans on asteroids, and he lamented the loss of shuttles Challenger and Columbia.Recalling the 1986 Challenger explosion, he seemed to still think of himself as part of the team, saying, “We weren’t willing on the shuttle to fix the O-rings in the boosters. We weren’t willing to take the damn system by the hand and fix it before we said we were going to fly. … We had a creed in Mercury that we came up with and that said we will never fly with a known problem that will kill us. Never. … We did on the shuttle. … That was unforgivable.”Still, he was proud of what he was able to accomplish, and pushed for more. He said, “We need to have that curiosity. We need to have that innate feeling of be ready. Be prepared. It pays off in success.” Kraft thought NASA had stopped being bold after the moon missions. He said, “We didn’t do the follow-on and we could have and we should have.”Many of his original ideas remain in use today. In fact, Mission Control Center in Houston is named after him. And he told NPR he had flown in space himself, sort of.“I flew on every flight — vicariously. I didn’t have to go. I mean that. I used to tell people back then when we’re flying, I have this feeling that’s what we’re doing all the time. And then when we stop flying, I don’t believe we did it. That was a strange feeling. … I was in my revelry when we were flying. My people were the same way. It was such a tremendous pleasure out of making things happen well and safely and knowing that they were contributing to that part of the program. I think it was extremely important to all of us and that was our payoff. We didn’t make any money working for the government. But we sure got a hell of a lot of enjoyment out of it.”Kraft never saw a launch with his own eyes. He was either working the mission or, later in life, watching from home on television.Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
December 19, 2014 Imagine shooting like a bullet from San Francisco to Los Angeles in only 30 minutes, zipping at just below the speed of sound through a steel vacuum tube, strapped into a spacey aluminum pod. Buh-bye traffic. Hello, Hyperloop.Yes, that Hyperloop – the crazy one Elon Musk proposed as the “fifth mode of transport” back in August 2013 but had no time to realize. (The former PayPal Mafia member was too busy sweating artificial intelligence and making history at the helm of SpaceX and Tesla. Give the guy a break.)Related: Japan Proposes ‘Super-Maglev’ Train Connecting Baltimore to D.C. in 15 MinutesNow, thanks to 100 of some of the world’s smartest engineers and designers, Musk’s Jetson-esque Hyperloop vision isn’t forever on the backburner. The dream team is now officially clocking hours for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc. [HTT], a unique JumpStartFund collaborative that formed back in September. Its express mission is to rise to the challenge laid out in Musk’s 57-page Hyperloop whitepaper.The company yesterday released several documents detailing its ambitious plans moving forward. On top of needing to raise an estimated $16 billion to bring a commercially viable operation to fruition, the brains at HTT certainly have their work cut out for them. There are plenty of tricky physics, funding, construction and legal roadblocks assured ahead.Related: Here’s Elon Musk’s Plan to Deliver Internet Access to BillionsStill, HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn says the high-speed, solar-powered transport could become a reality in the next decade or so. If you regularly brave the almost 400-mile drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles — and a lot of commuters do — that’s not soon enough. The Hyperloop could get you there at a brisk 760 mph, in the length of a typical yoga class, in theory at least. And it won’t be terribly expensive. It’s expected to cost around only $30 per quick trip.An L.A.-to-SanFran Hyperloop trip isn’t likely geographically and politically feasible, though, so HTT engineers are looking into alternate routes. Vegas, anyone? Los Angeles to Sin City might be a more attractive first route. Wherever the Hyperloop eventually debuts, yes, please, sign us up for a first ride.Related: Why California Can’t Be Home to the Hyperloop 2 min read
4 min read February 1, 2016 This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazine A student-led Hyperloop design team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the winner on Saturday of a SpaceX-organized competition to build passenger pods for the futuristic transportation system known as the Hyperloop. Teams from Delft University in the Netherlands, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Virginia Tech and University of California at Irvine rounded out the top five finishers.Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX first publicized the idea of a Hyperloop in 2013 in which pods would carry passengers and cargo through tubes at up to 700 miles per hour. The pods would levitate on either air cushions or magnetic fields while they travel though tubes that are kept at low pressure to reduce air resistance.SpaceX organized the Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend at Texas A&M in College Station to help accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop. A total of 22 student teams, and one non-university team organized through online forum Reddit, advanced through the first phase of the competition and will test their pods this summer on a SpaceX-built Hyperloop test track in Hawthorne, Calif. The field included 115 teams that had been winnowed from more than 1,000 applicants.Twelve awards were also given to teams that focused on particular subsystems and design concepts.After the finalists were named, the crowd got a surprise when Musk himself strolled onto the stage to give an unscheduled pep talk to the jubilant crowd.“I have a good feeling about this,” he said about the competition. “I think the work you guys are doing is going to blow people’s minds.”The competition results were based on concept designs, and teams will spend the next six months building their pods at roughly half scale. Musk encouraged the teams to take a hands-on approach.“You want to do a lot of dry runs with your pod,” he said. “Test it out very thoroughly, as close to the competition conditions as possible.”Peter Chamberlain, a member of the winning MIT team, acknowledged that the construction and testing phases will be at least as challenging as the initial design. All of the teams will need to raise significant funding to build their pods, and he said his team is already actively looking for sponsors. It’s also considering a crowdfunding campaign.“Now we have to do a lot of thinking,” echoed Keio University team member David Chew. His team, like a rival team from Delft in the Netherlands, will have the additional challenge of getting its multi-ton pod across an ocean.Prizes for the teams with the best performance on the test track have not been finalized, but Musk provided new details of exactly how the next phase of the pod challenge will work. “The basic idea of the competition is that we want to get to the highest possible speed,” he said. The test track in Hawthorne will have a large display showing each pod’s speed, for what he anticipates will be a large audience.“And then, of course, you have to slow down before the end,” continued Musk, laughing. “There’ll be a bit of tension — will it brake in time?”Also finishing in the top 22 were teams from Carnegie Mellon University, Japan’s Keio University, Oral Roberts University and Texas A&M itself. According to judges, between three and 10 more teams will also be invited to the finals after further review.In addition to the student teams, private companies have begun work on various aspects of the Hyperloop project. The most progress has been made by Hyperloop Tech, whose chief technology officer, Brogan BamBrogan, said in an interview at the event that the Hyperloop will be roughly as energy efficient as a conventional train, and much more efficient than high-speed rail or conventional magnetic levitation trains –while moving faster than any of them.Musk went on to answer questions from the audience for about 20 minutes, in what has become his signature style — relaxed, forthright and slightly awkward. He reiterated his desire to colonize Mars, and expressed some surprise that the Hyperloop concept has sparked such fascination, including from hundreds of members of the public who came to the event from as far as Dallas. He also gave a glimpse of what could be his next big idea.“I’ve been thinking about the vertical takeoff and landing electric jet a bit more,” Musk said. “I think I have something that might be close.”“I’m quite tempted to do something about it.” This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Free