December 01, 2016

"This morning, United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno unveiled a new website that allows satellite makers to figure out what it will really cost to launch a vehicle on one of ULA’s rockets."

the verge: It’s like going to “Ford or Chevy and building your car,” Bruno said, except in the end you wind up with a more than $100 million rocket that can take cargo to space. by Loren Grush

'And just like checking out on Amazon, the website allows you to save your rocket and submit it to ULA to start the process of finalizing a launch contract.

'The site, called RocketBuilder.com, looks to be ULA’s attempt to further infiltrate the commercial satellite market, after launching mostly government satellites and NASA missions for the past decade. Bruno says the site is meant to provide an “unprecedented level of transparency” to commercial customers about the true cost of launching a satellite with ULA. “The sticker price on the rocket is just the tip of the iceberg,” Bruno said at a press conference this morning in Washington, DC. “There is a whole host of other costs.” The site is supposed to give potential customers an idea of what those costs might be.

'Rocket Builder allows you to pick when you want to launch and what orbit you want your satellite to go to. And then, depending on its destination and how big the satellite is, the site will help you calculate the size of your payload fairing — the nose cone that encases the satellite on the top of the rocket — as well as how many additional boosters you’re going to need for thrust. Customers even have the option of picking customizable “service options,” which include adding an onboard video system to the rocket, or conducting “expanded mission rehearsals.” There’s even the option of purchasing a VIP experience, where you can invite 100 customers or investors to come watch the launch as a marketing tool.'

"On Wednesday, a federal judge authorized a summons requiring Coinbase, America’s largest Bitcoin service, to provide the IRS with the records of every user who traded on the site between 2014 and 2015."

gizmodo: Covering the identities and transaction histories of millions of costumers, the request is believed to be the largest single attempt to identify tax evaders using virtual currency to date. by Hudson Hongo

'As a so-called “John Doe” summons, the document targets a particular group or class of taxpayers—rather than individuals—the agency has a “reasonable basis” to believe may have broken the law. According to The New York Times, the IRS argued that two cases of tax evasion involving Coinbase combined with Bitcoin’s “relatively high level of anonymity” serve as that basis.

'“There is no allegation in this suit that Coinbase has engaged in any wrongdoing in connection with its virtual currency exchange business,” said the Justice Department on Wednesday. “Rather, the IRS uses John Doe summonses to obtain information about possible violations of internal revenue laws by individuals whose identities are unknown.”'

"State-sponsored hackers have conducted a series of destructive attacks on Saudi Arabia over the last two weeks, erasing data and wreaking havoc in the computer banks of the agency running the country’s airports and hitting five additional targets, according to two people familiar with an investigation into the breach."

Bloomberg: Saudi Arabia said after inquiries from Bloomberg News that “several” government agencies were targeted in attacks that came from outside the kingdom, according to state media. No further details were provided. by Michael Riley, Glen Carey, and John Fraher

'Although a probe by Saudi authorities is still in its early stages, the people said digital evidence suggests the attacks emanated from Iran. That could present President-elect Donald Trump with a major national security challenge as he steps into the Oval Office.

'The use of offensive cyber weapons by a nation is relatively rare and the scale of the latest attacks could trigger a tit-for-tat cyber war in a region where capabilities have mushroomed ever since an attack on Saudi Aramco in 2012.'

"Back in February, seismologists at UC Berkeley released MyShake, an app that passively monitors for seismic activity, both watching for earthquakes and warning users if one is underway."

tech crunch: In the months since its introduction, the app has outperformed its creators’ expectations, detecting over 200 earthquakes in more than ten countries. by Devin Coldewey

'The app has received nearly 200,000 downloads, though only a fraction of those are active at any given time; it waits for the phone to sit idle so it can get good readings. Nevertheless, over the first six months the network of sensors has proven quite effective.

'“We found that MyShake could detect large earthquakes, but also small ones, which we never thought would be possible,” one of the app’s creators, Qingkai Kong, told New Scientist.'