With all the hype surrounding the successful launch, docking, and return of the Crew Dragon capsule, and the upcoming tests of the Starhopper, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that SpaceX has other projects in the works as well. The Falcon Heavy, which originally launched just over a year ago, is just about ready for its second trip skyward, but it might take a miracle for SpaceX to meet its current launch window.
Falcon Heavy's second launch was supposed to happen shortly after its first, but had to be repeatedly pushed back from March 2018 to late 2018 and then finally early 2019. The company is excruciatingly close to being ready for the big day, but its current projected launch dates of April 7th or 8th are looking increasingly unrealistic.
Right now, SpaceX is expecting to static fire its rocket today. That was supposed to happen on March 31st, but now that it's been pushed back by several days, it's likely that the actual launch will also see a relatively short delay.
In late March, SpaceX planned on a static fire test of the rocket on March 31st and then a seven-day turnaround to get the rocket ready for flight, putting the launch on April 7th. Assuming SpaceX plans on firing the rocket today, it's highly unlikely that the rocket could be made ready for launch in just three days, even if everything goes perfectly.
In any case, the Falcon Heavy will definitely be ready for its second trip sooner rather than later, and even if it slips out of its April 7th launch window it'll likely only be a delay of a few days.
Unlike its first Falcon Heavy launch, which was largely just a demonstration that SpaceX could pull off a heavy-lift vehicle, this launch will include a payload from a client. Saudi Arabia's Arabsat needs SpaceX to deliver its Arabsat 6A communications satellite into orbit. Once it's sent into space it will expand communication coverage in parts of Africa and the Middle East.
Amazon’s secretive Lab126 hardware division has reportedly been told to prioritize work toward the development of a new piece of consumer hardware that could help accelerate the growth of the its cloud-based voice technology.
The company has reportedly watched the runaway success Apple has enjoyed with its wireless AirPods earbuds and wants to make a rival product of its own, apparently setting a goal of even better audio quality for its offering.
All of that is according to new reporting from Bloomberg, which notes that Amazon is teeing up a pair of wireless earbuds that include Alexa access built in for later this year. Based on details revealed from unnamed sources who talked to the news outlet, it seems these earbuds would sit inside the ear and look similar to Apple's AirPods, with "Alexa" as the wake word that summons them to attention.
You would have to pair the earbuds with a smartphone, as they'll have no built-in connectivity. As envisioned, you'd be able to order goods, play music and access weather and news using just your voice, though there will also be gestures that let you switch songs and tap to pick up calls. Bloomberg goes on to report that Amazon would include a storage case for the buds that also works as a charger and uses a USB cable to plug in.
A product like this would represent a serious attempt by Amazon to keep expanding its Alexa technology into new places, a task that it's been hard at work at since the disastrous failure of the company's Fire smartphone. Since the company doesn't have a smartphone platform to rival iPhones or the myriad Android handsets, it's been producing as many products as it can, like speakers and other devices, that are powered by Alexa.
Per today's report, it seems that Amazon has faced some delays in production of the buds, and it's been looking for manufacturing partners over the past few months. For the last couple of years, Amazon has launched a selection of new products in September, so we'll see if that holds true again this year for the earbuds it's working on.