On Monday night, Virgin Orbit made its first-ever orbital launch attempt from the United Kingdom, a historical event that ultimately ended in devastating failure. Everything appeared to be going according to plan as the LauncherOne rocket was released from their Cosmic Girl aircraft, its NewtonThree main engine igniting and commencing the ascent towards orbit.
The rocket’s first stage operated as expected with a nominal shutdown, after which point the second stage ignited to complete an 8.5-minute burn to low-Earth orbit. However, shortly after this point, a problem occurred that prevented the upper stage and payloads from reaching orbit as intended.
Virgin Orbit released a statement 35 minutes after ignition via Twitter indicating that “We appear to have an anomaly that has prevented us from reaching orbit” and deleted their earlier tweet claiming mission success.
Although this launch failure is likely to be devastating for Virgin Orbit, a US-based small launch company that had successfully reached orbit on four out of five previous attempts, it represents an even bigger setback for British officials who had worked for eight long years to bring horizontal launch capability to Spaceport Cornwall – situated on the site of Newquay Airport – in order to make this feat possible. The spaceport had worked alongside the UK Space Agency and Virgin Orbit in order to address any necessary regulatory concerns about handling and launching over international waters near Ireland before commencing the mission.
In addition to its historical significance, Monday’s attempted Virgin Orbit also intended orbital launch as an opportunity to demonstrate what they are capable of while impressing potential investors and government officials in attendance at Britain’s southwest spaceport – all of whom likely left disappointed by the unsuccessful mission outcome. The rocket was additionally carrying nine payloads belonging to customers, including both the US and UK governments, adding further importance and expectation surrounding this eventful evening.
Though Virgin Orbit is still evaluating information concerning why exactly their mission failed to reach orbit, they remain hopeful that they can continue making progress toward their goal of establishing a regular cadence of launches with which they can break even financially through launch contract checks in future endeavors.
Struggling to Keep Up: Exploring Solutions as Egg Prices Skyrocket
Erin Davis of Huntington Township, Pennsylvania, is a dedicated chicken keeper and takes great pride in providing her family with fresh eggs from her flock. Erin began keeping chickens as an investment for her family in the summer of 2019 and invested around $700 for feed, materials for the coop, and four hens: Sugar, Cookie, Dorothy, and Blanche. Her sons Cade (age 5) and Beau (10) were excited to help out with tending to their new feathered friends. After seven months of waiting patiently, they were delighted when their first egg was laid on December 14th.
Before beginning her own backyard chicken operation, Erin had to ensure that she complied with local zoning laws. She was relieved to find that although keeping chickens was not legal when they lived in Wilkes-Barre, it was allowed in Huntington Township due to its more rural character. Now every day, they can expect to reap between three and six eggs from these hardworking birds.
Not only does keeping chickens offer the reward of fresh eggs, but there are many other benefits as well. Knowing what goes into their food is a huge plus for Erin and her family, who often provide leftovers such as carrots, cauliflower, or spinach leaves for their feathered friends to enjoy. They also provide free range time daily to the hens so that they can roam about, which makes them happy and keeps them healthier too. Even some of the more dramatic moments involving hawks trying to make off with one of the brood have served to heighten their appreciation for these valuable members of their household.
The Davis’ experience is shared by Dakota and Kaili Bowman, who run Bow & Branch Chicken Ranch near Shickshinny Lake in Pennsylvania as well. The couple owns 35 chickens – originally purchased as chicks and ones that Kaili rescued when previous owners no longer wanted them. They look forward to increasing egg production in the coming springtime this year, when there will be a rainbow array of shells from pink through green, turquoise, and white available! To make delicious local farm-fresh eggs available more widely, they plan on opening an egg stand at 57 Cherokee Drive by the end of March, where customers will be able to pick up a dozen or eighteen eggs at great prices; $3 per dozen or $4 for 18 respectively – much cheaper than store-bought! Not only do locally grown farm fresh eggs taste better, but it’s also nice knowing exactly where your food comes from! Plus, Dakota & Kaili are happy to share tips if anyone wants information on raising their own chickens themselves – through potential keepers must realize how much work goes into taking care of these animals properly!
Even large businesses dealing with large quantities of eggs, like The Avenue Restaurant & Catering, are feeling the pinch due to rising costs. Especially during high-demand seasons like Easter when many people use extra eggs, making sure supplies don’t break easily is one added challenge faced by producers today! Ultimately everyone involved wants what’s best for consumers, however – accessibly priced tasty food options produced sustainably – so despite all the challenges, it’s nice that folks like Erin Davis & Dakota & Kaili Bowman have stepped up to address demand while putting quality & sustainability first – something we should all appreciate!
Ahead of the AFC Championship, KC Bakery and Boutique are Preparing for a Surge in Business this Week
The week leading up to the AFC Championship is a time of celebration for local businesses in Kansas City. KC stores are stocking their shelves with Chiefs merchandise in anticipation of the big game, and customers are lining up to get their hands on items that will help them join in the festivities.
Robert Duensing, the Best Regards Bakery and Cafe owner in Overland Park, knows that his business is always busy this season. They specialize in making cookies decorated as Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and Isiah Pacheco jerseys, which fly off the shelves before each game. Last year, however, there was a bit of a dip in sales during the later stages of playoffs until they reached the AFC Championships – an effect Duensing jokingly refers to as “the New England effect,” believing fans got so used to them reaching this point that it became taken for granted. He encourages fans to remain engaged in the present instead; as Duensing puts it himself: “As a fan, I’m excited about the prospect [of going to the Super Bowl], but as a business, we don’t give it one ounce of thought” – their focus lies completely on getting through this week’s demand first! This weekend he expects sales between 2000-3000 cookies alone – no doubt an impressive figure!
On top of bakeries celebrating this season’s success, local boutiques such as Shop Local KC have also seen a spike in demand. Owner Katie Mabry van Dieren has her shop in two locations (one in Leawood and one in Midtown), which stock everything from Chief-themed earrings and hats to stickers and shirts – all made by Kansas City locals! These items have been her best sellers by far, proving her belief that when Kansas City does well, everyone does well. Katie has also commented on how she never expected sports to have such an effect on her business: “I never thought sports would have such a big effect on us…Kansas City loves Kansas City, so everything with Kansas City written on it always does well because I think we just have pride here”.
So while we wait with bated breath for Sunday’s game against Tennessee Titans, let us not forget that all those delicious snacks at our Superbowl parties are thanks to small businesses like Best Regards Bakery and Cafe and Shop Local KC who put so much hard work into supplying us with our Chiefs memorabilia!
Microsoft’s Dismissals Show Clear Departure from XR Goals
Devastatingly, the teams responsible for developments such as HoloLens, AltSpaceVR, and MRTK have been laid off.
Microsoft’s announcement of 10,000 job cuts shocked many, representing nearly 5% of the company’s workforce. While current and former employees have been vocal about their frustrations on social media platforms, there has been a particular interest in understanding why certain business areas have seen significant job losses.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has long espoused the importance of the ‘metaverse’ and how it will shape consumer and work lives in the future. One such area is the virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality (XR) space. Despite this, it appears that Microsoft’s XR ambitions may be faltering, with reports of teams involved in projects like HoloLens, AltSpaceVR, and MRTK (Mixed Reality Tool Kit) being dissolved entirely.
HoloLens has been subject to various refocusing efforts since its inception, as well as the controversy surrounding its chief architect Alex Kipman stepping down from his role just a few months ago. There have also been reports that suggest HoloLens failed US military trials which could mean limited resources available to further develop the project. Additionally, Microsoft decided to end its support for MRTK even though version 3 was due to launch in February 2023. This open-source project was designed to help developers by providing support for platforms such as Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Meta Quest. Although MRTK is still open-source, community groups may be able to continue development without official support from Microsoft.
Microsoft’s 2017 acquisition of AltSpaceVR, with plans to create ‘Microsoft Mesh’ as a successor, is yet another loss in the job cut casualties. Unfortunately, there are still queries concerning how extensive these plans will be, considering that entire teams behind other projects have been laid off or disbanded altogether. Despite this hurdle, Microsoft remains dedicated to its XR goals and future visions.
It is difficult to gauge whether this move signals another Windows Phone moment for Microsoft, where they are forced into strategic withdrawals due to failing competition, or if their XR strategy simply needs clarification and more resources invested into it at a later stage. The BUILD developer conference in May might provide us with more insights regarding the changes made by Microsoft’s latest round of layoffs and a clearer picture of what the new XR strategy may entail.