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China launched its 1st unmanned Cargo Spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country’s space station

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Long March-7 rocket carrying Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft lifts off from the launching pad in Wenchang, Hainan province, China, April 20, 2017. VOA
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China on Thursday launched its first unmanned cargo spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country’s space station, marking further progress in the ambitious Chinese space program.

The Tianzhou 1 blasted off at 7:41 p.m. (1141 GMT) atop a latest-generation Long March 7 rocket from China’s newest spacecraft launch site, Wenchang, on the island province of Hainan.

Minutes later, as the spacecraft cleared the atmosphere, the mission was declared a success by administrators at ground control on the outskirts of Beijing.

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It is programmed to conduct scientific experiments after reaching the now-crewless Tiangong 2, China’s second space station. A pair of Chinese astronauts spent 30 days on board the station last year.

China launched the Tiangong 2 precursor facility in September and the station’s 20-ton core module will be launched next year. The completed 60-ton station is set to come into full service in 2022 and operate for at least a decade.

Communications with the earlier, disused Tiangong 1 experimental station were cut last year and it is expected to burn up on entering the atmosphere.

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China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program’s strong military connections.

Chinese officials are now looking to internationalize their own program by offering to help finance other countries’ missions to Tiangong 2.

Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon. A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back samples is set to launch in 2020, while China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.

The two-stage, medium lift Long March 7 is expected to form the backbone of China’s rocket fleet, and burns a fuel combination that is safer and more environmentally friendly.

It is tasked with the launch of the Shenzhou capsules that have carried out six crewed missions and, along with the heavy lift Long March 5, is key to the assembly of the Tiangong 2. (VOA)

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Apple Decides to Update iPhones in China To Avoid Ban

The ban does not cover the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XR, which were not yet available when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit

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Apple, Iphone XR, Apple Watch
Apple to update iPhones in China to avoid ban. Flickr Commons

Apple has decided to update iPhones in China to avoid a ban after a court ruling banned the sale and import of most iPhone models after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple.

According to a report in The New York Times on Friday, the Cupertino-based tech giant said it would update the software of iPhones in China early next week to try to resolve the legal dispute.

The company said it would update its iPhones “to address any possible concern about our compliance with the order”.

“Apple said its update would change the iPhones’ software so it did not infringe on Qualcomm patents, which relate to switching between apps and changing the size and appearance of photographs,” said the report.

Apple and Qualcomm are suing one another in courts across the world. Billions of dollars are at stake, and each side has claimed some victories.

A Chinese court had banned the sale and import of most iPhone models after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple, a stunning decision that comes amid the trade war between the US and China.

Apple, however, is still selling iPhones in China.

Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

According to Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Apple is violating the court’s order.

“They are legally obligated to immediately cease sales, offers for sale and importation of the devices identified in the orders and to prove compliance in court,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple has also appealed against the Chinese court ruling.

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It accused Qualcomm of playing dirty tricks, including asserting a patent that had already been invalidated by international courts, and other patents that it had never before used.

“Qualcomm’s effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world,” Apple said in a statement earlier this week.

The ban does not cover the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XR, which were not yet available when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit. (IANS)