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American astronaut to return to Earth on Russian spacecraft despite Ukraine invasion

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NASA has confirmed that one of its astronauts will return back to Earth on a Russian rocket

The US Space Agency says astronaut Mark T. Vande Hei will return from the International Space Station as planned.

He will travel on a Russian spacecraft later this month, despite the ongoing tensions between Russia and the US back on Earth.

NASA says that it’s still working closely with its Russian partners, and that joint operations are “going well”.

The astronaut launched to the ISS in April 2021, and is scheduled to return home on March 30.

The Chief of Russia’s space agency has previously grounded the launch of telecom satellites from A UK start-up, and has pledged to no longer sell Russian rocket engines to US companies.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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SpaceX funded flying car company boasts huge pre-orders

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Alef Aeronautics, a pioneering flying car company backed by SpaceX, has announced a significant milestone in its journey towards revolutionizing personal transportation.

The California-based firm revealed that preorders for its futuristic electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle have surpassed 2,850, signaling robust demand for its innovative technology.

The Alef Model A, a two-seater flying car, has garnered widespread attention, with eager customers securing preorders by placing a $150 deposit online.

Alef aims to offer customers flexibility by allowing them to withdraw their deposits at any time, ensuring they’re not committed to the purchase.

Groundbreaking offering

With a planned price tag of $300,000 per vehicle, the cumulative order value from the preorders has exceeded $850 million, underscoring the significant market interest in Alef’s groundbreaking offering.

Jim Dukhovny, CEO of Alef Aeronautics, expressed pride in achieving this milestone, highlighting the Model A’s position as the bestselling aircraft in history, surpassing established aviation giants like Boeing and Airbus.

Despite the substantial investment required from prospective buyers, Dukhovny emphasized the necessity of the higher price point for Alef’s startup operations.

Alef is committed to delivering cutting-edge technology and ensuring the utmost safety and performance standards, factors that contribute to the pricing strategy.

The Alef Model A, showcased as a half-size model at the Mobile World Congress, distinguishes itself from competitors with its innovative design.

Unlike traditional eVTOLs, which often resemble drones or helicopters, the Model A bears a closer resemblance to a conventional car, with a mesh shell housing rotors that facilitate vertical takeoff and landing.

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Apple unveils M3 powered MacBook Air

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The unveiling includes updated models in both 13-inch and 15-inch variants, showcasing Apple’s continued innovation in the laptop market.

The M3 chip, initially introduced in October alongside versions for the iMac desktop and MacBook Pro laptops, aims to enhance performance and user experience across Apple’s product lineup.

The introduction of these new MacBook Air laptops comes as Apple reported $7.78 billion in Mac revenue during its fiscal first-quarter earnings, reflecting a modest growth of less than 1%. With the latest computers boasting advanced features and capabilities, Apple anticipates a potential boost in sales.

Key enhancements in the new MacBook Air lineup include sharper 1080p webcams, support for faster Wi-Fi networks, and an impressive battery life of up to 18 hours.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Design is consistent

Despite these improvements, the design of the laptops remains consistent with earlier models.

Notably, the M3 chip enables users to connect up to two external displays, a notable improvement from previous chip iterations which supported only a single screen.

Apple’s marketing strategy around artificial intelligence (AI) takes center stage with the new MacBook Air release.

The company brands the MacBook Air as the “world’s best consumer laptop for AI,” signaling a heightened focus on AI capabilities. This shift in language suggests Apple’s intent to compete with emerging Windows laptops marketed as “AI PCs.”

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Headache for Musk and Tesla as Chinese EV slashes prices

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China’s leading electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD has unveiled a new version of its best-selling car at a price lower than its predecessor.

It signals a fierce price battle in the world’s largest automobile market.

In a bid to maintain its competitive edge, BYD has slashed prices for several models, following similar moves by rivals.

The price change represents a significant 12% reduction compared to the final sales price of its predecessor.

Analysts suggest that BYD’s aggressive pricing strategy aims not only to capture a larger share of the domestic market but also to enhance profitability through increased exports.

As competition intensifies and consumer preferences evolve, manufacturers like BYD are strategically adjusting their pricing strategies to remain competitive and sustain growth both at home and abroad.

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