World’s biggest satellite blasts off into space courtesy of Ariane 5

via DVICE Atom Feed by Addy Dugdale on 7/2/09
World's biggest satellite blasts off into space courtesy of Ariane 5

There was a rumble in the jungle yesterday as the TerreStar-1 satellite set off on its one-way trip into space from a launch pad in French Guyana. After storms delayed blast-off, the 7.6-ton behemoth finally went up, hitching a lift aboard euro rocket Ariane 5 at 17:52 GMT. You can see it kiss the sky in a video after the jump.

The mighty space bird is the mothership parent satellite of the new $700 Terrestar satellite phone, which yesterday had its own, somewhat less stellar, launch back on Earth.

TerreStar-1 should be put into action in around a week’s time, when its 60-foot reflector umbrella is unfurled in a procedure that should take around four hours. Once up and running, expect the satellite and its super-slimline handsets to change the worlds of drug-running, drug-busting, terrorism and counterterrorism. Forever.

Via BBC News

Phelps-beating swimsuits proliferating, but are they legal?

via DVICE Atom Feed by Charlie White on 7/2/09
Phelps-beating swimsuits proliferating, but are they legal?

There’s a techno-storm brewing in the swimming world. After Michael Phelps smacked down seven world records at the Olympics last summer, attention focused on his Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit. Rival technology has surfaced, including the Jaked 01 swimsuit you see here, worn by French swimmer Frederic Bousquet when he beat out Phelps in a 100m freestyle event in Charlotte two months ago.

Not so fast, says FINA, the sports federation that rules over such events. Even though the officials allowed Bousquet to claim the world record wearing that Jaked 01 suit, it was not officially approved. The ruling body disqualified it and nine other high-tech swimsuits for “not passing the test of buoyancy and/or thickness.” What the heck does that mean? Besides giving swimmers a skin similar to a shark’s, some of these suits trap too much air inside, giving them more buoyancy, which is deemed unfair.

The most frustrating part of this story: Even if the new technology is eventually approved, some swimmers such as Phelps are contractually bound to Speedo, and won’t be able to use these faster suits because of legalities. Phelps can still win, though — there’s more to winning swimming races than a stupid swimsuit. He’ll just have to train harder and lay off that bong for a while.

Via DailyTech

Archos 9 PCtablet netbook runs Windows 7

via DVICE Atom Feed by Charlie White on 7/2/09
Archos 9 PCtablet netbook runs Windows 7

Archos follows its competent media players — the Archos 5 and Archos 7 — with the Archos 9 PCtablet. Instead of a 5- or 7-inch screen, this one has a 9-inch touch-sensitive display, and its new-found versatility makes the 22-ounce unit more netbook than mere media player.

It’s packing more power than its brandmates, employing the latest Intel Atom Z515 processor, with storage choices consisting of either a 60GB or 120GB hard drive. Thankfully, instead of Archos’s own clumsy operating system, this one comes loaded with Microsoft Windows 7.

We’re hoping Archos has improved that touchscreen, which we found a bit cumbersome in the Archos 5 and Archos 7. Whether its resistive touch system will be as responsive as other advanced capacitive touchscreens remains to be seen. The company hasn’t announced pricing yet, planning to ship the PCtablet this Fall. Here’s the Archos press release.