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Elon Musk's Starship 11 explodes after launch


Elon Musk's latest rocket, SpaceX's Starship 11, has exploded just before its attempted landing sequence, raining debris down on the surrounding launch pad.

It is the latest misadventure for the new rocket series, which is far larger than the previous Falcon 9 rocket line at more than 160ft, after a series of failed landings.

The rocket took off in dense fog and attempted to flip itself into its landing position, when the rocket drops straight down using its boosters to slow its descent. However, the Starship rocket appears to have failed during this stage. Cameras on the ground recorded debris falling from the sky.

Mr Musk said "something significant" had happened shortly after the landing burn sequence begun and that the company would be examining what happened. He later added: "At least the crater is in the right place".

The SN11 test was the latest in a series of tests of SpaceX's Starship, which the company eventually hopes to take to Mars.

05:45 PM

That's all for today

Thanks for reading, we'll be back tomorrow.

04:39 PM

Government backs Cornwall lithium mine to boost electric car production

Here's Morgan Meaker with the news:

The government has backed a project that could turn Cornwall into a lithium mining hub, as part of efforts to turbocharge electric car battery production.

Cornish Lithium, which is currently building a lithium extraction plant in Cornwall, will work on one of 22 "feasibility studies" which will share a £9m government fund and plot the future of the country's electric vehicle supply chain.

The company plans to use the investment, which was officially announced on Tuesday, to understand how realistic it would be to build a sustainable UK battery supply chain by constructing a plant in St Austell.

Demand for lithium is expected to dramatically surge as carmakers transition en masse to producing electric vehicles that require the metal in their batteries.

The bank UBS has predicted this battery rush means lithium could be in short supply from 2024, creating a bottleneck in the electric vehicle industry and spelling trouble for the UK's ambitions to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

However in September last year, Cornish Lithium countered gloomy forecasts when the company announced it had used historical records to discover significant grades of lithium underground in Cornwall.

As well as helping to combat supply shortages, Cornish Lithium boss, former mining executive Jeremy Wrathall, has previously argued a Cornish mine would have a lower carbon footprint than continuing to import lithium from Chile, Australia or China.

“We’ve set an ambitious target to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and it’s therefore crucial that we invest in research to power ahead with the shift to electric vehicles," Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said.

“The funding announced today covers both ends of the supply chain, from developing batteries to researching how to recycle them, and all points in between. We’re committed to covering all steps on the road to zero emissions, ensuring we build back greener from the pandemic.”

The Cornish lithium project receives funding alongside a Cheshire plant which hopes to build magnets for electric vehicle motors and a Loughborough project planning to build lightweight hydrogen storage for cars.

04:11 PM

Here's that explosion viewed from space

02:27 PM

Elon Musk responds to the crash landing

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk has been pragmatic in his reaction to the latest crash of his Starship rocket - perhaps unsurprising, given SpaceX is used to trouble with its launches.

On Twitter, Musk said he expected later versions of the rocket to come with multiple improvements and could be ready "in days".

He said: "SN15 rolls to launch pad in a few days. It has hundreds of design improvements across structures, avionics/software & engine.

"Hopefully, one of those improvements covers this problem. If not, then retrofit will add a few more days."

01:27 PM

The explosion from the ground

It is not yet clear whether the Starship exploded on landing or just before, but this footage from appears to suggest it detonated while still airborne as debris falls down around one camera set up to record the landing.

The launch took place in dense fog, but chunks of craft can be seen falling towards the landing area.

01:24 PM

Starship goes boom

Elon Musk's 160ft tall Starship, which he one day hopes will provide the building blocks of a flight to Mars, appears to have lost contact with control in what would be the latest set back for the venture.

A live feed of Starship's launch showed the craft blasted into the air from its take-off and was performing its return sequence, which would ultimately have seen it drop down into a landing so the craft can be reused for another launch.

However, the live feed went dead just over five minutes into its flight.

An announcer said: "As you can see from the frozen camera view we lost the feed at T plus 5 minutes and 49 seconds. Looks like we've had another exciting launch of Starship 11."

Reporters on the ground said the Starship appeared to come down "hard" and pieces of debris scattered around a Nasa camera set up to record the flight.

12:42 PM

Ransomware attack leaves London students without email

Tens of thousands of pupils across London have been left without access to email or school-issued devices following a ransomware attack.

The Harris Federation, which operates 50 academies in the capital, said it was forced to temporarily disable emails while it investigated the cyber attack. It also de-activated devices given to students.

It added that data was encrypted and should be hidden from cyber criminals.

“We are at least the fourth multi-academy trust to have been targeted in March,” a statement on the Harris Federation website said.

“This is a highly sophisticated attack that will have a significant impact on our academies but it will take time to uncover the exact details of what has or has not happened, and to resolve."

It comes after he National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) last week issued a warning that hackers are targeting schools.

11:51 AM

Virgin Galactic unveils ‘VSS Imagine', its next generation spaceship

Billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson has today Virgin Galactic's newest spacecraft, VSS Imagine.

VSS Imagine, finished with an entirely mirror-like material, is part of the company's third generation of spaceships - which the group says will "lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles".

The craft is designed to reflect the surrounding environment, allowing it to change colour and appearance as it travels from Earth to space.

Virgin Galactic said the third generation of spaceships was "built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate".

The company also said VSS Imagine demonstrates progress towards efficient design and production as it works to "scale the business for the long-term".

As the new ship is ground-tested, Virgin Galactic will progress the manufacturing of another third generation vehicle, VSS Inspire.

The company said it is targeting 400 flights per year, per spaceport, as part of a multi-year effort.

11:33 AM

ICYMI: The flawed technologies behind vaccine passports

Vaccine passports are supposed to be our ticket to freedom, providing a much longed for route to normality after the tedium of lockdown.

Countries around the world are now rushing to develop the technology to underpin them, with the UK due to launch its Covid 'certification' review in early April.

But in the race to create a passports app, experts warn we could be placing our privacy and security at risk. James Cook and Hannah Boland take a look at some of the issues:

Security researchers point to the troubled launch of Israel’s vaccine passport system as a key example of what should be avoided.The country’s “green pass” app, which has been in use since February, allows those who have already had Covid-19, or who have been vaccinated, to visit places such as gyms and restaurants by presenting a code.

However, the app was quickly found to have potential security issues because it was built using outdated computer code. The initial version of the app also sent feedback to the personal email address of an employee of the country’s Ministry of Health

11:23 AM

Apple supplier Foxconn says components shortage could last until 2022

Apple supplier Foxconn has said the shortage of electronics components could last well into next year.

“In the first two months of the first quarter, the impact [of the shortage] was not so palpable, but we are gradually seeing that change,” Young Liu, Foxconn chair, told investors on an earnings call.

Semiconductor industry in numbers
Semiconductor industry in numbers

Booming demand for laptops, tablets and other electronics from people stuck at home during the pandemic triggered a semiconductor shortage late last year that has since snarled production of everything from automobiles to gaming consoles. Car manufacturers got hit particularly hard and are expected to miss out on $61bn of sales this year alone.

There was a glimmer of good news today, however. Renesas Electronics said production at a semiconductor factory hit by a fire is on track to resume by mid-April,

Output at one of the company’s most advanced lines at the plant in Naka, north of Tokyo, has been halted since a fire broke out late on March 19. Production will resume after about a month, as Renesas had previously projected, Chief Executive Officer Hidetoshi Shibata said at a briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday.

09:42 AM

TikTok owner Bytedance valued at $250bn

The parent company of viral video app TikTok has been valued at as much as $250bn in private sales of its shares, far above the $140bn valuation it achieved in its last financing, according to Bloomberg.

It comes despite a year of uncertainty for the Chinese tech giant where its app faced being banned in the US. It was nearly forced to sell the app under President Donald Trump, but the deal fell through. Now, any ban on TikTok appears unlikely.

08:14 AM

Oxford Nanopore to hit the market later this year

Biotech firm Oxford Nanopore, which has helped build technology that can keep track of coronavirus mutations, is planning a listing later this year, the company has confirmed.

“Oxford Nanopore Technologies Limited has today informed its shareholders that it has started the process of preparing for a potential initial public offering.

“While the timing of a potential IPO is dependent on market conditions and other matters not fully within the Company’s control, at this stage the Company expects that the IPO would occur in the second half of 2021 on the London Stock Exchange.”

Oxford Nanopore was among companies met by Boris Johnson late last year in an effort to encourage listings in the City.

07:17 AM

Markets: Deliveroo prices float at lower end of range

Despite talk earlier this week that it was preparing to float towards the upper end of a range of between 390p to 460p, now it seems Deliveroo will go public at the lower end of that spectrum.

Bloomberg reports that it has seen term sheets for the food delivery company to hit markets at a value of 390p. This lower end would value the company at around £7.6bn.

That is £1.3bn less than the more optimstic assumptions made by the company going into its roadshow, when it had hoped to hit a value of as much as £8.9bn.

Deliveroo has been clattered over the past seven days by stories questioning its business model, which uses freelance riders, and its plans to use dual-class shares that give its founder outsized control. Several leading UK fund managers have publicly said they will withhold investing in the float over these concerns.

A Deliveroo spokesman said: “Deliveroo has received very significant demand from institutions across the globe. The deal is covered multiple times throughout the range, led by three highly respected anchor investors. Given volatile global market conditions for IPOs, Deliveroo is choosing to price responsibly and at an entry point that maximises long-term value for our new institutional and retail investors.”

06:55 AM

'Monzo of pensions' to hit the stock market

Good morning. Throughout your career, an array of saving options and pensions can build up and make it hard to keep track of just how well your pot is doing. That is where PensionBee comes in.

Its app and online portal allow users to combine their various contributions into a single place while picking from a range of funds and plans.

That concept is about to give its founder, Romi Savova, 35, a substantial nest egg of her own. PensionBee this morning confirmed its intention to go public in a deal that is expected to value it at around £300m. Savova still owns almost 45pc of the company, giving her a tidy sum from the start-up.

Her stake will be worth £135m, although she is not planning on selling any shares.

She said: "Becoming a publicly traded company has long been part of our strategy to be the best universal online pension provider and I am delighted to confirm PensionBee's intention to float. There is a significant growth opportunity for PensionBee, as a result of the acceleration of the shift to digital, the frequency of individuals moving jobs and the increased duration of working life."

06:22 AM

Five things to start your day

1) Apple loses legal claim over 'One More Thing' phrase Apple had opposed Swatch registering the term, often used by founder Steve Jobs, as a trademark

2) Staff at Cazoo in line to share £400m payout as it prepares to go public The publisher of the Daily Mail will also own a stake worth £1bn

3) Viasat invests £300m in UK cyber centre The new investment will create 75 cyber jobs in Aldershot

4) Royal Navy takes delivery of robot super-vessel to counter Channel traffickers The self-driving MadFox vessel carries sensors which can detect specific types of sips attempting the crossing between Calais and Kent

5) The flawed technologies behind vaccine passports Various start-ups are developing different technologies to allow people to prove they have had their jab