Tech Digest daily roundup: Virgin Orbit set to launch first space mission on UK soil

Image: Virgin Orbit

The first space mission on British soil is due for lift-off in the coming weeks after the regulator granted licences. Virgin Orbit has been awarded licences to operate the UK’s first space launch. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s company demonstrated it has “taken all reasonable steps to ensure safety risks arising from launch activities are as low as reasonably practicable”. Virgin Orbit is planning a launch from Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay in the coming weeks. The mission named Start Me Up in tribute to rock band The Rolling Stones will involve a repurposed Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 aircraft and Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket. Telegraph 

The UK government has ordered the Russian oligarch-backed investment company LetterOne to sell regional broadband provider Upp, saying its current ownership was a national security risk. The business secretary, Grant Shapps, said the risk to national security relates to “the ownership of Upp … and Upp’s expanding full-fibre broadband network”. LetterOne or L1, whose owners include the oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, said it was disappointed by the British government’s decision to order it to sell 100% of Upp within a specified period and by following a specified process. “We believe that L1 ownership of Upp is not a threat to national security in any way,” said L1, which bought Upp, previously known as Fibre Me Ltd, in 2021. The Guardian 

New York City is famous for not giving a damn, but I was still surprised that not a single passerby gave me a funny look as I ambled down Fifth Avenue. To be clear, I don’t expect to turn heads on a daily basis. It’s more that I was wearing the $949 Dyson Zone, a gigantic futuristic pair of headphones complete with a shiny coppery mask that floated over my nose and mouth. I felt like the cyberpunk love child of Batman villain Bane and D.Va from Overwatch. The Zone is Dyson’s first foray into both wearables and audio. In a nutshell, it’s a pair of high-end noise-canceling headphones that attach to a magnetic visor — Dyson’s term — that sits in front of your face. The Verge 

Elon Musk has said he will resign as Twitter’s chief executive officer when he finds someone “foolish enough to take the job”. The billionaire had promised to abide by the result of a Twitter poll which saw 57.5% of users vote “yes” to him quitting the role. He says he will still run the software and servers teams after his replacement is found. Changes on the platform since his takeover have been much criticised. Since Mr Musk bought the social media site in October, he has fired about half of its staff and attempted a rollout of Twitter’s paid-for verification feature before putting it on pause. The feature was relaunched last week. BBC 


Apple has released two firmware updates for its AirTag item trackers since November, but at the time the company didn’t provide any information on what was changed. Earlier this week, Apple finally updated a support document explaining what’s new. According to Apple, firmware update 2.0.24 allows AirTag owners to use Precision Finding to help locate an unknown AirTag with their iPhone. Also introduced in update 2.0.24, if a user’s iPhone is awake, a new notification alerts them when an AirTag that’s been separated from its owner is nearby and emitting a sound to indicate it has been moved. It can then be tracked down by sound or Precision Finding if the feature is available. Mac Rumors 

Chris Price
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