Microscopic Fibers Are Falling From the Sky In Rocky Mountains
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:
Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Wetherbee's mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains. "I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles," said the U.S. Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers. The discovery, published in a recent study (pdf) titled "It is raining plastic", raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth. Rainwater samples collected across Colorado and analyzed under a microscope contained a rainbow of plastic fibers, as well as beads and shards. The findings shocked Wetherbee, who had been collecting the samples in order to study nitrogen pollution. "My results are purely accidental," he said, though they are consistent with another recent study that found microplastics in the Pyrenees, suggesting plastic particles could travel with the wind for hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers. Other studies have turned up microplastics in the deepest reaches of the ocean, in UK lakes and rivers and in U.S. groundwater.
FAA Bans Recalled MacBook Pros From Flights
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has
banned select MacBook Pro laptops on flights after Apple recently said that some units had batteries that posed a fire risk. In a statement, the FAA said it was "aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops" and stated that it alerted major U.S. airlines about the recall. Bloomberg reports:
The watchdog also reminded airlines to follow 2016 safety instructions for goods with recalled batteries, which means that the affected Apple laptops should not be taken on flights as cargo or in carry-on baggage by passengers. The Apple laptops in question are some 15-inch MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017. Apple issued the recall in June, saying it had "determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk."
This week, four airlines with cargo operations managed by Total Cargo Expertise -- TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat -- implemented a ban, barring the laptops from being brought onto the carriers' planes as cargo, according to an internal notice obtained by Bloomberg News. A spokesperson for TUI Group Airlines said airport staff and flight attendants will start making announcements about these MacBook Pros at the gate and before takeoff. Laptops that have replaced batteries won't be impacted, the spokesperson said. The company also posted a notice on its website banning the recalled computers on board, in both cargo and passenger areas of its planes. It's unclear what efforts will, if any, be made at U.S. airports.
Domino's Launches E-Bike Delivery To Compete With UberEats, DoorDash
Domino's is planning to become more competitive with on-demand apps like DoorDash, GrubHub and UberEats
by delivering pizzas with custom electric bikes. According to TechCrunch, the pizza company has partnered with Rad Power Bikes to deploy hundreds of e-bikes across corporate-owned stores later this year in Baltimore, Houston, Miami and Salt Lake City. From the report:
The e-bikes supplied by Rad Power Bikes are equipped with small integrated motors to assist with pedaling, and can run for 25 to 40 miles, depending on the user, before needing a recharge, according to the company. The bikes are equipped with lights in the front and back, reflective materials for driver safety and have a top assisted speed of 20 miles per hour. Importantly, the e-bikes have been customized to hold pizza, drinks and sides. One e-bike can hold up to 12 large pizzas. The company tested the e-bikes and discovered that service and delivery times improved, Tom Curtis, Domino's executive vice president of corporate operations, said in the announcement. The e-bikes also opened up the labor pool for the company, allowing it to tap into candidates who might not have a car or driver's license. Some franchisee owners were already using e-bikes and found they are essential in hilly urban areas.
Researcher Makes Legit-Looking iPhone Lightning Cables That Will Hijack Your Computer
known as MG has modified Lightning cables with extra components to
let him remotely connect to the computers that the cables are connected to. "It looks like a legitimate cable and works just like one. Not even your computer will notice a difference. Until I, as an attacker, wirelessly take control of the cable," MG said. Motherboard reports:
One idea is to take this malicious tool, dubbed O.MG Cable, and swap it for a target's legitimate one. MG suggested you may even give the malicious version as a gift to the target -- the cables even come with some of the correct little pieces of packaging holding them together. MG typed in the IP address of the fake cable on his own phone's browser, and was presented with a list of options, such as opening a terminal on my Mac. From here, a hacker can run all sorts of tools on the victim's computer.
The cable comes with various payloads, or scripts and commands that an attacker can run on the victim's machine. A hacker can also remotely "kill" the USB implant, hopefully hiding some evidence of its use or existence. MG made the cables by hand, painstakingly modifying real Apple cables to include the implant. "In the end, I was able to create 100 percent of the implant in my kitchen and then integrate it into a cable. And these prototypes at Def con were mostly done the same way," he said. MG did point to other researchers who worked on the implant and graphical user interface. He is selling the cables for $200 each.
Russia Orders Evacuation of Village Near Site of Nuclear Accident, Then Cancels It
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times:
The Russian authorities on Tuesday announced the evacuation of the village nearest to the site of a nuclear accident in northern Russia, suggesting dangers more grave than initially reported. The still-mysterious episode last week killed seven people and released radiation, apparently when a small nuclear reactor malfunctioned during a test of a novel type of missile near a naval weapons testing site. Russian officials have released a flurry of misleading or incomplete statements playing down the severity of the accident, which the military first reported on Thursday as a fire involving a liquid-fueled rocket engine. It was not until Sunday that Russian scientists conceded that a reactor had released radiation during a test on an offshore platform in the White Sea. That pattern of murkiness continued on Tuesday, as news reports and official statements offered only the vaguest explanation for the evacuation, and hours later seemed to indicate that it had been called off.
Websites Can Discriminate Against You Even If You Don't Use Them, California Supreme Court Rules
thanks to an opinion issued by the California Supreme Court that could have wide-reaching implications for online businesses. Gizmodo reports:
The first thing you need to know is that, for whatever reason, Square's Prohibited Goods and Services policies include "bankruptcy attorneys or collection agencies," which you'll recall is plaintiff Robert White's line of work. California, where this case was tried and where a plurality of online services are headquartered, is also home to a state law -- the Unruh Civil Rights Act -- which provides broad protections against discrimination of many kinds, including occupation. But the question remained as to whether White needed to have entered into an agreement with Square (by agreeing to the terms of service) in order to have experienced said discrimination barring his "full and equal access" to the service. For the time being at least: no.
"In general, a person suffers discrimination under the Act when the person presents himself or herself to a business with an intent to use its services but encounters an exclusionary policy or practice that prevents him or her from using those services," Justice Goodwin Liu wrote in court's unanimous opinion. "We conclude that this rule applies to online businesses and that visiting a website with intent to use its services is, for purposes of standing, equivalent to presenting oneself for services at a brick-and-mortar store." The Supreme Court noted that the merits of White's case -- beyond his having standing -- were outside its purview, and that "mere awareness of a business's discriminatory policy or practice is not enough for standing under the Act," but that "entering into an agreement with the business is not required."
CenturyLink, FCC Reach Settlement Over 'Cramming' Fees On Phone Bills
said on Tuesday that CenturyLink
will pay $550,000 to settle an investigation into a practice known as "cramming": when phone companies add unauthorized third-party charges to customer bills. "CenturyLink will also stop billing for most third parties, start refunding affected customer accounts and let customers block future third-party charges," adds CNET. From the report:
"Over the years, the FCC has done yeoman's work in fighting cramming and getting major phone companies to stop this practice," Rosemary Harold, chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, said in a release. "With today's action, another major phone company will stop cramming and prevent unscrupulous third parties from adding fees to bills without prior express consent." CenturyLink has previously said its own internal investigation found no wrongdoing. The company has faced repeated complaints over issues related to alleged billing fraud, including an ongoing $12 billion class action lawsuit.
Amazon's Facial Recognition Misidentified 1 in 5 California Lawmakers as Criminals
The ACLU tested Rekognition, Amazon's facial recognition technology, on photographs of California lawmakers. It matched 26 of them to mugshots. From a report:
In a recent test of Amazon's facial recognition software, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California revealed that it mistook 26 California lawmakers as people arrested for crimes. The ACLU used Rekognition, Amazon's facial recognition software, to evaluate 120 photos of lawmakers against a database of 25,000 arrest photos, ACLU attorney Matt Cagle said at a press conference on Tuesday. One in five lawmaker photographs were falsely matched to mugshots, exposing the frailties of an emerging technology widely adopted by law enforcement. The ACLU used the default Rekognition settings, which match identity at 80 percent confidence, Cagle said. Assembly member Phil Ting was among those whose picture was falsely matched to an arrest photo. He's also an active advocate for limiting facial recognition technology: in February, he introduced a bill, co-sponsored by the ACLU, that bans the use of facial recognition and other biometric surveillance on police-worn body cameras.
$3 Million Fortnite Winner Becomes Latest Swatting Target
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
Kotaku reports that Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf was streaming a Fortnite game late Sunday when he abruptly left his desk and abandoned the game with the livestream still running. The cause? His father coming to tell him that armed police were at the front door. Fortunately, Bugha returned unharmed to the stream several minutes later. "That was definitely a new one," he can be heard saying on a recording of the stream. "I got swatted." The comparatively quick and peaceful resolution of the issue was in part due to sheer good luck. "I was lucky because the one officer, yeah, he lives in our neighborhood," Bugha explained on the stream.
Bugha won $3 million for his first-place finish in the first-ever Fortnite World Cup in July and even appeared on The Tonight Show to talk about his win with host Jimmy Fallon. He is also all of 16 years old, and so a threat against him also involved his parents, whose personal information may have been easy to find. "Swatting" occurs when someone places a hoax emergency call to a police department, hoping to mobilize an emergency response (i.e., a SWAT team) to the victim's home. Bugha was lucky in that the officers who responded to his address were of a mood to ask questions first. Not all swatting victims are so lucky. In 2017, a Kansas man named Andrew Finch was
killed during a swatting event even though he was not the intended target. The man behind the hoax call was
sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this year for his role in Finch's death.
Vulnerability in Microsoft CTF Protocol Goes Back To Windows XP
CTF, a little-known Microsoft protocol used by all Windows operating system versions since Windows XP,
is insecure and can be exploited with ease. From a report:
According to Tavis Ormandy, a security researcher with Google's Project Zero elite security team and the one who discovered the buggy protocol, hackers or malware that already have a foothold on a user's computer can use the protocol to take over any app, high-privileged applications, or the entire OS, as a whole. Currently, there are no patches for these bugs, and a quick fix isn't expected, as the vulnerabilities are deeply ingrained in the protocol and its design.
What CTF stands is currently unknown. Even Ormandy, a well-known security researcher, wasn't able to find what it means in all of Microsoft documentation. What Ormandy found out was that CTF is part of of the Windows Text Services Framework (TSF), the system that manages the text shown inside Windows and Windows applications. When users start an app, Windows also starts a CTF client for that app. The CTF client receives instructions from a CTF server about the OS system language and the keyboard input methods. It is unclear how Microsoft will patch the CTF problem.
Facebook Paid Contractors To Transcribe Users' Audio Chats
Facebook has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to
transcribe clips of audio from users of its services,
Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the work. From the report:
The work has rattled the contract employees, who are not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained -- only to transcribe it, said the people, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. They're hearing Facebook users' conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said. Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users' audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies.
"Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago," the company said Tuesday. The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook's Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. The contractors were checking whether Facebook's artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, which were anonymized. [...] The social networking giant, which just completed a $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after a probe of its privacy practices, has long denied that it collects audio from users to inform ads or help determine what people see in their news feeds.
Bedbugs Are Giving Airbnb Users Headaches
Waking up with bedbug bites can be a nightmare. It's also a costly and traumatic problem for Airbnb guests and hosts. CNET:
CNET spoke to eight people who dealt with bedbugs in Airbnb rentals within the last three years. All of them said Airbnb, which was founded in 2008, doesn't seem to have a systematic procedure in place for handling outbreaks. And most said that while they eventually received some form of compensation from Airbnb, the company failed to provide adequate support. "This is my first real issue with Airbnb," says Dariele Blain, whose weekend away with friends went awry after she says the critters emerged at her Airbnb rental in Philadelphia. "But it's such an egregious one that I don't know if I'll book with them again." Like other Silicon Valley unicorns -- private companies with a high valuation -- Airbnb is known for "disruption," the idea of changing a service or product with technology to make it better. It's turned the lodging industry on its head by getting regular people to use its platform to rent out rooms or entire homes to travelers. Airbnb's service is now operating in almost every country on Earth and it has over 6 million listings for rent. That's more rooms than the top five hotel chains combined.
For each rental, Airbnb typically gets a cut of between 14% and 20%. The company, which may go public this year, is currently valued at $31 billion. Airbnb proponents say these short-term rentals help hosts make ends meet, while also bringing more visitors to cities where people can't afford high-cost hotels. But its business model has also triggered unintended consequences. The company has been blamed for rising rent and reduced rental stock in many cities, including its hometown of San Francisco. And in the case of bedbugs, Airbnb's use of millions of independent hosts means that trying to keep a lid on the pest epidemic can be hard to do, experts say.
CBS, Viacom Strike Deal To Recombine
Viacom and CBS have struck a deal for a merger on Tuesday with an
agreement to recombine in the latest entertainment industry mega-deal. From a report:
As expected, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will lead the combined company as CEO, while CBS acting CEO Joe Ianniello will also remain in a top executive position that will have him oversee CBS-branded assets. CBS CFO Christina Spade will serve as CFO of the merged firm. Shari Redstone, vice chair of both companies, will serve as chair of the combined company. The companies had previously agreed on the management setup and the composition of the board of the merged company, with the stock exchange ratio for the deal being the final haggling point that was finally resolved early in the week. The boards of both companies have approved the deal.
Consolidation to gain more scale amid competition from streaming video and technology giants has been a key focus for the entertainment sector in recent years. The CBS-Viacom deal agreement comes after Walt Disney's $71.3 billion acquisition of large parts of 21st Century Fox and AT&T's $85 billion takeover of Time Warner. CBS is also understood to have offered Lionsgate $5 billion to buy its premium TV unit Starz.
US To Delay China Tariffs on Some Products, Including Laptops, Cell Phones
The Trump administration on Tuesday
delayed imposing a 10% import tariff on laptops, cell phones, video game consoles and a wide range of other products made in China, in an abrupt pull-back from a hardline stance on Chinese trade. From a report:
The U.S. Trade Representative's Office action was published just minutes after China's Ministry of Commerce said Vice Premier Liu He conducted a phone call with U.S. trade officials. The delay in the tariffs that had been scheduled to start next month provides some relief to retailers. Although most stores would have stocked their holiday merchandise before the earlier September deadline, some might have faced the tariffs for fill-in orders late in the holiday shopping season. "We're doing this for the Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers," President Donald Trump told reporters as he prepared to depart from New Jersey for an event in Pittsburgh.
YouTube Tests Bigger Thumbnails
YouTube is experimenting with
making video thumbnails much larger on its homepage, according to several screenshots that appeared on Twitter and Reddit this morning. From a report:
The new homepage design changes quite a bit about the current setup. Videos are no longer grouped by categories, fewer videos appear in a line for people to scroll through, and, yes, the thumbnails are noticeably larger. It's unclear just how many people have been served the new layout. So far, it's not going over well with users. People are complaining that the bigger thumbnails make the homepage more difficult to scroll through.
Insect 'Apocalypse' in US Driven by 50x Increase in Toxic Pesticides
America's agricultural landscape is now 48 times more toxic to honeybees, and likely other insects, than it was 25 years ago,
almost entirely due to widespread use of so-called neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a new study published this month in the journal PLOS One. From a report:
This enormous rise in toxicity matches the sharp declines in bees, butterflies, and other pollinators as well as birds, says co-author Kendra Klein, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth US. "This is the second Silent Spring. Neonics are like a new DDT, except they are a thousand times more toxic to bees than DDT was," Klein says in an interview. Using a new tool that measures toxicity to honey bees, the length of time a pesticide remains toxic, and the amount used in a year, Klein and researchers from three other institutions determined that the new generation of pesticides has made agriculture far more toxic to insects. Honey bees are used as a proxy for all insects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does the same thing when requiring toxicity data for pesticide registration purposes, she explained.
The study found that neonics accounted for 92 percent of this increased toxicity. Neonics are not only incredibly toxic to honeybees, they can remain toxic for more than 1,000 days in the environment, said Klein. "The good news is that we don't need neonics," she says. "We have four decades of research and evidence that agroecological farming methods can grow our food without decimating pollinators." "It's stunning. This study reveals the buildup of toxic neonics in the environment, which can explain why insect populations have declined," says Steve Holmer of American Bird Conservancy. As insects have declined, the numbers of insect-eating birds have plummeted in recent decades. There's also been a widespread decline in nearly all bird species, Holmer said. "Every bird needs to eat insects at some point in their life cycle."
Americans Would Rather Get Food Poisoning on Vacation Than Not Have Internet Access, Study Finds
Americans would rather endure such vacation travesties as lost luggage or food poisoning, rather than go without internet while on vacation. Almost half of respondents (49 percent) in a study commissioned by Roku said that
no internet access would qualify as a vacation disaster.
AI Used To Narrate E-books in Authors' Voices
Chinese search engine Sogou is creating
artificial-intelligence lookalikes to read popular novels in authors' voices. From a report:
It announced "lifelike" avatars of Chinese authors Yue Guan and Bu Xin Tian Shang Diao Xian Bing -- created from video recordings -- at the China Online Literature+ conference. Last year, Sogou launched two AI newsreaders, which are still used by the government's Xinhua news agency. Appetite for audiobooks in China is on the rise, mirroring trends in the West. Chinese think tank iiMedia expects the market to more than double between 2016 and 2020, to 7.8bn Chinese yuan ($1.1billion) a year. It is now a simple process to use text-to-speech technology to quickly generate an audio version of a book, using digitised, synthetic voices. But most people prefer audiobooks that are "professionally narrated" by authors, actors or famous public figures.
How One City Saved $5 Million by Routing School Buses with an Algorithm
The Boston Public School District held a contest to determine the best solution for busing around 25,000 students to school every day. The
winning algorithm improved the efficiency of the routes in 30 minutes. From a report:
In 2017, the district was facing serious challenges. On a per-pupil basis, Boston Public Schools had the highest transportation costs in the country, around $2,000 per student per year, representing 10% of the district's budget. The schools dealt with rising costs each year, despite declining ridership. The on-time performance rate of their buses was also well below that of other large districts. With no clear vendor to turn to with this problem, BPS instead sought out experts, hosting a competition where researchers could experiment with anonymized BPS data sets to create efficient routes and optimal start times for each school.
"To put it simply, we wanted a solution that worked," said Will Eger, the BPS senior strategic projects manager. "There are lots of quirks in this transportation situation, and we wanted something that could address the vast majority of those issues while also being highly efficient, something that could run overnight at least." Those quirks represent millions of decision variables that affect any solution, including varying road widths, differing bus infrastructures (for example, the presence of wheelchair lifts or child safety restraint seats), students who require the same bus driver every year, students who have monitors, and students who have been in fights and, therefore, need to be on different buses. It also includes the roughly 5,000 students who have a special need that requires door-to-door pick up and drop off (sometimes to non-BPS schools, as the city provides yellow bus service to students who attend charter and private schools within Boston, and to special education facilities outside the city).
Considering all those possibilities creates a "number of solutions so large that you can't even enumerate it," said Arthur Delarue, a PhD candidate who worked with the team from the MIT Operations Research Center whose algorithm won the competition. The team spent hundreds of hours devising a solution to what Delarue called a "bold and unusual" challenge. Their solution replaced what had before been an incredibly laborious process, one that took ten school system routers thousands of hours to create custom routes for each child and school. Those employees still work with BPS, tracking routes that struggle with on-time performance, and managing route guidance for drivers (Google Maps isn't sufficient since it's built for cars, and 70-passenger buses can't, for example, easily make u-turns). But now, the MIT algorithm routes the entire system at once, providing a base for the human routers to tweak.
Google's Jobs Search Draws Antitrust Complaints From Rivals
Google's fast-growing tool for searching job listings has been a boon for employers and job boards starving for candidates, but several rival job-finding services contend anti-competitive behavior has
fueled its rise and cost them users and profits. From a report:
In a letter to be sent to European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday and seen by Reuters, 23 job search websites in Europe called on her to temporarily order Google to stop playing unfairly while she investigates. Similar to worldwide leader Indeed and other search services familiar to job seekers, Google's tool links to postings aggregated from many employers. It lets candidates filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply.
Alphabet's Google places a large widget for the 2-year-old tool at the top of results for searches such as "call center jobs" in most of the world. Some rivals allege that positioning is illegal because Google is using its dominance to attract users to its specialized search offering without the traditional marketing investments they have to make. Other job technology firms say Google has restored industry innovation and competition.
The Banana Is One Step Closer To Disappearing
An anonymous reader quotes a report from National Geographic:
A fungus that has wreaked havoc on banana plantations in the Eastern Hemisphere has, despite years of preventative efforts, arrived in the Americas. ICA, the Colombian agriculture and livestock authority, confirmed on Thursday that laboratory tests have positively identified the presence of so-called Panama disease Tropical Race 4 on banana farms in the Caribbean coastal region. The announcement was accompanied by a declaration of a national state of emergency. The discovery of the fungus represents a potential impending disaster for bananas as both a food source and an export commodity. Panama disease Tropical Race 4 -- or TR4 -- is an infection of the banana plant by a fungus of the genus Fusarium. Although bananas produced in infected soil are not unsafe for humans, infected plants eventually stop bearing fruit. First identified in Taiwanese soil samples in the early 1990s, the destructive fungus remained long confined to Southeast Asia and Australia, until its presence was confirmed in both the Middle East and Africa in 2013. Experts feared an eventual appearance in Latin America, the epicenter of the global banana export industry. No known fungicide or biocontrol measure has proven effective against TR4.
How Netflix Is Using Its Muscle To Push Filmmaking Technology Boundaries
Carolyn Giardina from The Hollywood Reporter writes about
the growing influence Netflix has from hardware and software development to industry display standards. For example, as recently as six months ago, Netflix forbid Hollywood cinematographers from using a highly-popular camera because the standard model employed a 3.2K resolution sensor instead of a 4K sensor required for the streamer's original programming.
Netflix also pressured TV manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic to feature a "Netflix calibrated mode" and "Netflix Recommended TV" logo in their consumer TVs. From the report:
To make sure its content is being produced how it wants, the streamer in September launched a Netflix Post Technology Alliance with MTI, Adobe, Sony and others. It shares its roadmap with these companies, and if these firms develop tools -- from cameras to editing systems -- that meet its requirements, they are permitted to use the "Netflix Post Technology Alliance" logo. The logo has been visible in the past year at industry trade shows -- a literal sign of growing influence. Netflix also is involved in industry standardization and development efforts. For instance, it recently joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Academy Software Foundation, a forum for open source software developers.
While Netflix is involved in collaborations, the company also maintains robust engineering efforts in-house -- beyond the teams working on its secret distribution algorithms. It is pioneering new interactive content, such as Bandersnatch, which was made incorporating Branch Manager, a software system developed in-house. Other homegrown advances include Netflix's scheduling software and its work to bring more automation to audio dubbing through artificial intelligence. There's likely much more in the works that Netflix does not share with the public. But one thing is certain: The company is having a penetrating impact not only on which content is made and how it is distributed and consumed, but also on the very tech that creates it.
Nuclear Reactor For Mars Outpost Could Be Ready To Fly By 2022
A nuclear power system that could one day provide juice to colonies on Mars is closer to being ready than previously expected. According to project team members, the Kilopower experiment fission reactor
could be ready for its first in-space trial by 2022. Space.com reports:
A flight test is the next big step for the Kilopower experimental fission reactor, which aced a series of critical ground tests from November 2017 through March 2018. No off-Earth demonstration is on the books yet, but Kilopower should be ready to go by 2022 or so if need be, said Patrick McClure, Kilopower project lead at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
"I think we could do this in three years and be ready for flight," McClure said late last month during a presentation with NASA's Future In-Space Operations working group. "I think three years is a very doable time frame," he added, stressing that this is his opinion, not necessarily that of NASA, which is developing the Kilopower project along with the DOE. As its name suggests, the Kilopower reactor is designed to generate at least 1 kilowatt of electrical power (1 kWe). Its output is scalable up to about 10 kWe, and it can operate for about 15 years, McClure said. So, four scaled-up Kilopower reactors could meet the energy needs of NASA explorers, with a fifth reactor likely landed to provide a spare.