Munich 2024: Protecting Elections in the Age of AI
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from the launch pad at Launch Complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fl. in April 2022.

Alex G Perez/AGPfoto/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

The next frontier of warfare: Russian space-based nukes

Maybe Russia should’ve been invited to Munich after all … News dropped on Thursday that Moscow is developing new space-based nuclear weapons.

Could these new nukes hit American cities? No, according to the White House. But they could hit satellites, wreaking havoc on terrestrial communications, transportation systems, and even financial transactions. In other words, Russia could take cyberattacks to a higher level, literally.

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The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, aka SLIM, is seen in this handout image taken by LEV-2 on the moon, released on Jan. 25, 2024.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), TAKARA TOMY, Sony Group, Doshisha University /via REUTERS

Comeback kid: Japan’s moon lander resurrected by the sun

Hey Alexa, play “The Power” by Snap! Japan’s moon lander has come back to life after it was put to sleep for over a week to save juice. The spacecraft, known as Slim (no relation to Eminem), has power again after an awkward, upside-down landing initially prevented sunlight from hitting its solar panels. It just needed to wait for a change in the sunlight’s direction.
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Hundreds of Muslim activists gather to protest in solidarity in the wake of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip outside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 20, 2023

Zahim Mohd/NurPhoto via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Malaysia backs Hamas, Democrats win key races, fighting in Ethiopia's Amhara region, South Africa’s highway terror, Europe invests in space

77 billion: Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim jeopardized his country’s $77 billion trade relationship with the United States this week by coming out hard in support of Hamas, with which Malaysia has long maintained ties. Anwar, who compared the group to Nelson Mandela, could run afoul of the Hamas International Financing Prevention Act and invite US sanctions on his country — but the rise of the Islamist PAS party and the fragility of his multi-ethnic coalition are pushing him to appeal to such sentiment despite his reputation as a liberal reformer.

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Vehicles are seen departing the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nevada, U.S., on Sept. 4, 2023.

REUTERS/Matt Mills McKnight

Hard Numbers: Muddy festival, climate credits, Ukrainian amputees, astronauts return, "Barbie" tops charts

70,000: An unexpected storm this weekend trapped 70,000 attendees of the annual counter-culture Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada, as floods turned the sand to mud. One person reportedly died, but officials said the incident was “unrelated to the weather.” Many have now begun their trips home.

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A Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster with a Fregat upper stage and the lunar landing spacecraft Luna-25 blasts off from a launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, on Aug. 11, 2023.

Roscosmos/Vostochny Space Centre/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Fly me to the moon – or maybe not

Russia’s first lunar mission in 47 years made contact of the wrong kind this weekend when its Luna-25 spaceship crash-landed on the surface of the moon. According to the Russian space program Roscosmos, the craft, also called the Luna-Glob-Lander, “switched to an off-design orbit” before it met its demise.

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The future of space: congested and contested

Listen: Space might be a big place but the United Nations regards it as ‘congested, contested and competitive’.

This latest episode of Next Giant Leap, a podcast produced by GZERO Media in partnership with the space company MDA, explores the threats and tensions as space becomes busier and of greater strategic importance for an increasing number of countries.

“We have to avoid, by all means, that it becomes a Wild West,” says Tanja Masson-Zwaan, a space law expert at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She adds, “We have regulations, laws and treaties that have been in place for the last fifty years, but we need more to govern this new frontier of space utilization, because the rules that we have are basic principles and do not go into the details.”

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The satellite revolution in Low Earth Orbit


Listen: In the last twenty-five years, the number of active satellites orbiting the Earth has increased from about 500 to 8,000. “In the first quarter of this year, we deployed nearly 1,000”, says space industry analyst Carissa Bryce Christensen. She adds, “Instead of a smaller number of very large satellites mostly far away, we are seeing many, many small satellites very close in.”

The latest episode of Next Giant Leap, a podcast produced in partnership between GZERO and the Canadian space company MDA, explores the exponential increase in satellites that are being launched into Low Earth orbit (LEO). This is the zone of space between about 100 and 1200 miles above the Earth.

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Artemis and the lunar economy


Listen: There is a big difference between NASA’s current Artemis program and its Apollo program of five decades ago. This time, there is a long-term plan for humans on the moon. “We don't want to just touch it and come back and say we're done. We want to go there and stay there,” says NASA astronaut Raja Chari. He adds, “To do that, we need to go where there's resources.”

In the latest episode of Next Giant Leap, a podcast produced in partnership between GZERO and Canadian space company MDA, Raja Chari tells host Kevin Fong that the most valuable known resource on the moon is water ice, which could be used to sustain life in lunar bases. Water ice is most abundant in craters around the moon’s south pole. NASA is enlisting commercial companies such as SpaceX, Astrobotic Technology, and MDA to help get its astronauts to the polar region and in a position to ‘live off the land’ there.

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