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Watch Blue Origin launch and land a New Shepard rocket on its seventh trip to space

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This morning, Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin is set to conduct another test launch of its New Shepard rocket, a reusable vehicle designed to take paying tourists to the edge of space and back. Just like New Shepard test flights of the past, no people will be on board this trip, but the rocket will be carrying a dozen research payloads to space for NASA.

Today’s test will mark the 13th launch of the New Shepard program and the seventh overall flight for this particular rocket. But it’s been a long time since the New Shepard fleet has seen any action, with the last test flight (featuring the same rocket launching today) taking place back in December 2019. In April, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, the company had hoped to conduct another New Shepard test launch, despite concerns voiced by employees at the time. That launch was ultimately delayed, and Blue Origin waited until late September to try again, though it had to push the launch back until this week due to a power supply issue.

Now, after the long downtime, New Shepard appears ready to fly again, with multiple experiments in tow to be tested out in space. Typically, these experiments ride inside the New Shepard crew capsule, perched on top of the rocket, but one NASA experiment will actually remain mounted to the outside of the rocket for the entire flight. Called “Safe and Precise Landing – Integrated Capabilities Evolution,” or SPLICE for short, this payload is equipped with sensors, instruments, and software that NASA has developed to help future crewed and robotic spacecraft land on the Moon. Throughout the New Shepard flight, NASA will determine how well the technology works as the rocket flies to space and then attempts to land gently back down on Earth.

New Shepard’s flight profile makes it a great testbed for trying out lunar landing technologies, says NASA. The rocket takes off vertically from the ground, flying up to around 62 miles high, where any passengers inside would experience microgravity. (Similarly, lunar landers also experience microgravity and the vacuum of space before touching down on the Moon.) After reaching space, the crew capsule detaches from the rest of the rocket, and both vehicles fall back down to Earth. A series of parachutes deploy to land the crew capsule safely on the ground while the rocket reignites its engine to land upright. Lunar landers also employ similar landing techniques on the Moon, using onboard engines to slow down and touch down gently on the lunar surface. During that descent and landing, NASA’s SPLICE experiment will be collecting a whole lot of data.

The New Shepard rocket with NASA’s SPLICE experiment mounted on the outside. Two white sensor packages are attached to the bottom of the ring fin.
Image: Blue Origin

If all goes well, SPLICE’s software and instruments could help future crewed landers land more precisely on parts of the Moon. In fact, it’s a tool that could be helpful for Blue Origin’s own lunar lander, Blue Moon, which the company is developing for NASA’s Artemis program. “Precision landing is critical for a sustainable lunar future that builds a lunar base with successive missions,” Brent Sherwood, vice president of advanced development programs at Blue Origin, said in a statement. “On New Shepard together with NASA, we are demonstrating in flight the capabilities America can use to conduct lunar exploration.”

Along with SPLICE, New Shepard will also be carrying payloads from John Hopkins University, Southwest Research Institute, the University of Florida, and more. The rocket will also hold tens of thousands of postcards written by students, arranged by Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s nonprofit, which will be returned to their senders later.

As crucial as these tests are, the ultimate goal of the New Shepard program is to fly people to space and back. Blue Origin envisions flying paying tourists on the rocket, but NASA is also pursuing ways to fly research scientists and NASA astronauts on New Shepard. Blue Origin still has a ways to go before that happens, though. At the start of this year, Blue Origin hoped to conduct crewed test flights in 2020. But the company first has to fly the fourth iteration of its New Shepard rocket, which still hasn’t flown yet. That vehicle is the one that will supposedly carry the first passengers, and the company has not given a timeline for when it will be ready.

In the meantime, Blue Origin is focused on today’s flight, and the company says it’s taking necessary safety precautions ahead of the launch. “Safety is our highest priority,” a Blue Origin spokesperson said in a statement. “We always take the time to get it right to ensure our vehicle is ironclad and the test environment is safe for launch operations.” When it comes to keeping people safe during the pandemic, “all mission crew supporting this launch are exercising strict social distancing and safety measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks to personnel, customers, and surrounding communities,” the spokesperson said.

Takeoff is scheduled for 9:35AM ET out of Blue Origin’s launch facility in West Texas. The flight should last just about 11 minutes from launch to landing. Blue Origin plans to start live-streaming the launch roughly 30 minutes before takeoff and will provide updates on its Twitter account.

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The 10 Best Deals of October 27, 2020

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Gif: Juliana Clark

Best Deals of the DayBest Deals of the DayThe best deals from around the web, updated daily.

Tuesday’s Best Deals | Kinja Deals

It’s October 27, and we at Kinja Deals are here to bring you the top 10 deals of the day. Kick back with some vegan CBD gummies. Prep for your future Zoom calls with the MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit. Try your hand at indoor gardening with the AeroGarden Harvest 360.

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If you’re still looking to snag some deals, take a look at Tuesday’s best deals overall.

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If you’re going to give OLED a try, this might be the time to start considering. I’ll contend you can still get away with an LG B7, the baseline from a couple of generations ago, but the TVs have gotten exceptional. Burn-in and input lag are two of the biggest knocks against OLED, especially for gamers, but according to reviews, that should be a non-issue on the LG CX. So long as you’re not watching the news or playing games with the same HUD for many consecutive hours on end, you shouldn’t run into any nasty image retention issues anytime soon.

Now down to its all-time low price of $1,497 on Amazon and at BuyDig, this 55″ TV is one of the best LG currently has to offer. It begins with that beautiful OLED panel, of course, which bids sayonara to muddy grays and backlight bleed thanks to its per-pixel lighting. For movies, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR return to give you the best cinematic experience possible, the latter adding a feature that automatically tunes the picture around your ambient lighting conditions and the content you’re watching.

The TV also includes both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, both of which are gaming features that eliminate screen tearing with little (if any) added input lag.

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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You can now commemorate your digital rags to riches story in Animal Crossing with a real world bell bag, now bundled with the game for $55. The bag alone is normally $20, and with Animal Crossing: New Horizons usually hovering around $50 these days, it’s a nice $15 value. We’ve talked at length about the game ‘round here, but this rave is all about that bag!

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This soft plush bag is super authentic with a brown star patch and a red drawstring to keep whatever you decide to carry inside from spilling out. The bag is about 5.95 inches wide and 4.9 inches tall, which isn’t a whole lot of room, but I’m sure you can find a good use for it!

Put down your purses, backpacks, and pocketbooks and try on an oldish-new way to transport your personal items and currencies. (Or, you know, just add it to your ever-growing Nintendo shrine.)

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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There’s nothing more vegan than letting everyone know you’re vegan, and while I don’t partake in the diet myself, I do try to reduce my animal-based intake where possible. And for avid CBD users like myself, it can be hard to find gummies that don’t use gelatin or other animal products to get their chewy mouthfeel. Complete with vitamins D3 and B12, Sunday Scaries Vegan AF gummies yield all the benefits of its classic Gummies for Chillin’ except, you know, without the dissuasive ingredients. Made from broad spectrum CBD oil and coconut oil, unlike some competing brands, Sunday Scaries’ gummies contain no THC, not even like trace amounts of the stuff. So if you’re trying to cut down on the devil’s lettuce, let our exclusive discount help with that.

Because CBD lacks the psychoactive chemical found in THC, it doesn’t get you “high” per se. Instead, it makes you feel relaxed while sober. Just pop a tasty gummy or two and you’re set to lie down for the night, free from racing thoughts about the impending doom of work tomorrow, hence the name Sunday Scaries. For a limited time, you can save 25% on these vegan CBD gummies using the promo code ESINV25 to see what it’s all about. Automatically applied at checkout, this brings the grand total down to $35, or $31 if you choose to subscribe and save. Before long, you’ll be singing its praises without ethical concern for environmental impact (well, save for the packaging I presume).

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This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey.

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If you need a massive storage upgrade and don’t need SSD transfer speeds, this Seagate Gold Box is perfect timing. External hard drives are up to 35% off at Amazon for the day, including a 2TB Backup Plus Slim that’s only $53, and you can get more than double the space for less than double the cost with this 5TB for $98.

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If you have tons of big games and large movies, you might want to step up to this 8TB instead, which is just $123 with the discount. There are options all the way up to a massive 10TB at Amazon, so shop around before the calendar turns.

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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Over 11,000 customers can’t be wrong. 60% of Amazon reviewers have given the MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit a 5-star rating. If you’ve been looking to clean up a few coffee stains or make those pearly whites a little brighter this is the kit you’ve been searching for. Save 30% on this kit today.

If you’ve seen these sets before you know it comes with a LED light that helps accelerate the whitening process. It has a built-in timer so you don’t need to worry about setting one yourself and each session will be accurate. Also in this kit are the three 3mL teeth whitening gel syringes and the mouth trays for top and bottom. This kit provides enough gel for nine treatments. The trays don’t need to be molded which alleviates a huge headache and is usually my biggest gripe when I’ve tried kits akin to this one. Several customers have mentioned this worked just as well with their sensitive teeth which are really nice to know if you’re on the delicate side. Use these bad boys once a day for ten minutes and see stains from your life fade away even after one treatment. If only you could remove other problems that easily.

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This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari.

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I live in a basement apartment so I thought this would be a fun experiment when I got one of these. I also with a roommate who is an excellent cook and constantly looking for fresh herbs and our garden isn’t reliable with the neighborhood creatures. I was pleasantly surprised by the AeroGarden Harvest 360 and if you’re a foodie with a green thumb this is the deal for you. Save $50 on this model right now.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I don’t think it was for them to all grow so quickly. I put the AeroGarden in my room on a high shelf away from all the dogs, so a pretty lightless area. I will say the 20W LED grow-lights are very bright, but duh, they’re supposed to be the sun. They’re on a timer too so you don’t need to worry about turning it on and off. It was easy to set up and I really love that it’s got light indicators that let you know when your plant babies need water or food. Yes, it comes with plant food that’s easy to measure out and pour in the well. It was simple enough to get the pods into the AeroGarden with relatively no mess. I haven’t figured out how to harvest them yet which will need to be done very soon. My pack came with Genovese basil, Thai basil, dill, curly parsley, mint, and thyme. I can say the basil smells lovely. This was a fun experiment that I was pleasantly surprised by and I’d be willing to try some more advanced things like lettuce or tomatoes. The AeroGarden is a great alternative for the plant minded individual worried about pesticides or herbicides.

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This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari.

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Listen, no matter how loud the anti-maskers have a temper tantrum, masks protect yourself and others from COVID-19. We’re living in a pandemic and you know, it requires a bit of preparation for going out in public. This 40-Pack of KN95 masks is $24. Yes, masks are overpriced these days, but these five-layer KN95 masks block 95% of air particles up to .3-micron levels. What are you waiting for? Grab a box and start using them!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher. 

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If you’ve been looking for a way to take your temperature (or anyone else’s) without touching, you should look into this infrared forehead thermometer. It measures the heat coming off you in about a second for the best possible reading. You can also use it in the ear. It’s only $22, which is about $40 off the original list price. I would grab it before it’s gone.

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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Our pals at Elle Paradis want to treat you not trick you this week unless you’re into that. As a lead up to the spookiest day of the year grab 2 extra good when you spend $75.

My favorite little devil bullet ($22) is one of the free goodies. Channel your dark side in a discrete and clever manner. This smooth silicone little satan vibe has ten different settings and will be as naughty as you want to. Easy to use as it has one button and it’s splash-proof for simple cleaning. This buzzing Beelzebub will need AAA batteries but it’ll be worth it when get to dance with diablo.

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A handful of bundles are on sale for All Hallows’ Eve too. This Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun Bundle ($55) that’s discounted 77% in this deal. I do like the variety in this set though. A little something for the backdoor and the front door. Two massagers and a G-spot vibe. Stimulate the spirits just remember to clean the ectoplasm after.

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Free shipping on all orders.

This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari.

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If you have the occasional pimple, much like me, chances are you don’t want it to be there. You should check out Rael Pimple Patches. Only $16, they’re made with hydrocolloid that’ll extract all the nasty-ass puss straight from your pimple without ever having to pop them. Which means no acne scars! They also come in two sizes, 10mm and 12mm for regular and extra-large pimples. Shoot, I might buy some!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.


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Microsoft gets a pandemic boost thanks to Surface, Xbox, and cloud services

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Microsoft posted the first quarter of its 2021 financial results today, reporting revenue of $37.2 billion and a net income of $13.9 billion. Revenue is up 12 percent, and net income has increased by 30 percent. While the ongoing pandemic continues to force many to work remotely during an economic downturn, Microsoft is benefiting from the shift in the way people are now working, playing games more, and connecting to others through videoconferencing.

Cloud services are the biggest boost to Microsoft’s revenues from the pandemic shift in behavior. Both Office commercial and consumer are up, with Office 365 Commercial revenue growth up by 21 percent. Server products and cloud services revenue has also increased 22 percent as more businesses rely on cloud services for remote working. Azure revenue itself grew 48 percent.

The biggest news here from a consumer point of view is that Microsoft 365 Consumer subscribers have also increased to 45.3 million. That’s a jump of 27 percent year-over-year, and likely thanks to Microsoft’s renewed focus on consumers with Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams earlier this year.

Cloud and Office aren’t the only products driving Microsoft’s growth, though. Surface revenue has jumped by 37 percent this quarter to $1.5 billion. That’s a big increase for a quarter that hasn’t seen any new Surface devices introduced. Microsoft only just introduced a new Surface Laptop Go device and updated Surface Pro X earlier this month, but those will count to next quarter’s revenue.

Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox consoles.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Over on the gaming side, Xbox content and services revenue has also increased significantly by 30 percent compared to the same quarter last year. A number of consumers have turned to gaming and services like xCloud or Game Pass during the pandemic, and it’s clear there’s an increased demand for Microsoft’s gaming services. Microsoft notes that Xbox Game Pass subscriptions and strength in third-party and first-party titles helped with revenue.

Microsoft is now gearing up to launch its next-gen Xbox Series X and Series S consoles on November 10th. The consoles complement Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service that launched last month, and the company’s ongoing efforts with Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft revealed it has 15 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers last month, but the company hasn’t provided any fresh numbers today.

Microsoft appears to be bullish about demand for the Xbox Series X and S consoles. “We expect very strong demand following the launch of our next-generation Xbox Series X and S consoles,” said Microsoft CFO Amy Hood during a call with investors. This demand should drive “supply constrained hardware revenue growth of approximately 40 percent” next quarter.

Microsoft reported a jump in Windows usage earlier this year after lockdowns throughout many parts of the world led to remote working for many. This jump in usage hasn’t resulted in increased Windows OEM revenue during this quarter, though. Windows OEM revenue has dropped 5 percent, and Microsoft blames lower commercial demand for the dip.

While commercial demand for PCs might be softening, Windows OEM non-pro revenue has grown by 31 percent, thanks to consumer PC demand. It’s likely that students and families are driving this growth during the pandemic, turning to PCs to help support remote learning. During an earnings call with investors, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said “PCs have become mission critical,” and that Microsoft is seeing double digit growth in monthly active devices for Windows 10.

Surface Laptop Go.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Elsewhere, LinkedIn revenue has also grown by 16 percent year-over-year with 722 million users. Search revenue has decreased by 10 percent, though. Microsoft splits its various businesses into three buckets: productivity and business processes, intelligent cloud, and more personal computing. The more personal computing bucket includes Surface, Xbox, and Windows, and Microsoft says gaming and Surface drove its revenue growth of 6 percent for this quarter.

Azure drove the intelligent cloud revenue growth, and Office 365 and LinkedIn helped the productivity and business processes bucket. It’s clear that these main revenue drivers — Azure, gaming, Surface, and Office — have been influenced by the pandemic.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the beginning of this pandemic that the company had witnessed “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” That transformation appears to be continuing for many businesses, students, and consumers.

Update, October 27th 6:10PM ET: Article updated with comments from Microsoft’s investor call.

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You can now buy Vizio’s rotating Atmos soundbar

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Vizio’s Elevate soundbar has finally hit shelves. You can buy it today for $999.99. The 48-inch soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The soundbar houses 18 speakers and comes with a wireless eight-inch subwoofer. The cool thing is that some of the speakers rotate — they face upward while you’re playing Dolby Atmos content and point forward for standard audio.

I spoke to Vizio CEO William Wang about the Elevate earlier this year. He said the soundbar is intended to hook non-enthusiast customers on Dolby Atmos by showing them, visually, the difference between the two tiers of audio. He also noted that while the Elevate is asking a steep price, he expects the rotating speakers to appear in lower-cost devices down the road. The Elevate is being positioned as a good companion purchase for Vizio’s first 4K OLED TV, which is also now available.

Currently, you can order the Elevate at Best Buy and Walmart. Vizio says it’s coming to Amazon and Sam’s Club, too, but those don’t appear to have active links yet.

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