Tech Digest daily roundup: China brings forward plans for solar plant in space


China has brought forward by two years its programme to launch a solar power plant in space that will beam energy back down to Earth. A similar energy project had been proposed by NASA more than two decades ago but was never developed, while the UK government commissioned independent research supporting a £16bn British version in orbit by 2035. The first launch for China‘s project is scheduled for 2028, when a trial satellite orbiting at a distance of around 400km (248 miles) will test the technology used to transmit energy from the power plant. Sky News 

Elon Musk has threatened to walk away from his $44bn takeover of Twitter, accusing the social media company of “thwarting” his requests to learn more about its user base. In a letter filed with regulators, Mr Musk said he was entitled to do his own measurement of spam accounts. The letter formalises a dispute that has simmered for weeks after Mr Musk declared the deal “on hold” pending further information. Twitter has defended its estimates. But Mr Musk has said he believes spam and fake accounts represent a far greater share than the less than 5% of daily users that Twitter reports publicly. BBC

Alongside a redesigned MacBook Air powered by the company’s new M2 processor, Apple also introduced a charger for the laptop with an unexpected perk: a spare USB-C port. The charger has two USB-C ports, giving you the freedom to charge another device alongside the laptop. An unannounced dual-port 35-watt charger from the company was leaked back in April, so it’s likely that’s exactly the product we’re seeing today. The M2 MacBook Air starts at $1,199. But Apple is also selling the charger standalone for $59. It’ll be available in the US, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. The Verge

Just because you use a password manager doesn’t mean you want to enter passwords every time you check that manager… and now, you don’t have to. LastPass has launched an option to access your vault using a passwordless sign-in — it’s the first password manager with this feature, the company claims. Grant permission through the LastPass Authenticator mobile app and you can update account info on the web without entering your master password. The approach relies on FIDO-compliant password-free technology. The feature is available to both personal and business users. LastPass is also promising options beyond the Authenticator app in the future, such as relying on biometric scans or hardware security keys. Engadget

The boss of a Chinese chipmaker has been accused of spying on one of the world’s biggest microchip companies and stealing trade secrets. ASML, the Dutch company whose equipment is used to manufacture cutting edge semiconductor circuits, said Zongchang Yu, a former employee, had transferred trade secrets to Dongfang Jingyuan Electron, a Chinese company supported by the country’s Communist party. Mr Yu, the company’s chief executive, is wanted in California on charges that he stole technology from ASML. He worked for the company in the US until 2012 before founding Dongfang two years later. Telegraph 

Chris Price
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