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Tuesday November 29th, 2022

SpaceX rocket soars toward Mars with Tesla car

AFP – The world’s most powerful rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, blasted off Tuesday on its highly anticipated maiden test flight, carrying CEO Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla roadster toward an orbit near Mars.

Screams and cheers erupted at Cape Canaveral, Florida as the massive rocket fired its 27 engines and rumbled into the blue sky over the same NASA launchpad that served as a base for the US missions to Moon four decades ago.

"Wow, did you guys see that? That was awesome," said SpaceX commentator Lauren Lyons as applause thundered through mission control.

SpaceX commentator John Innsbrucker said it was "everything you could want in a test flight."

Loaded with Musk’s red Tesla and a mannequin in a spacesuit, the monster rocket’s historic test voyage has captured the world’s imagination.

SpaceX’s webcast showed Musk’s Tesla roadster soaring into space, as David Bowie’s "Space Oddity" played in the background — with the words "DON’T PANIC" visible on the dashboard, in an apparent nod to the sci-fi series the "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy."

Musk posted a video of the car on Twitter after launch, in which he can be heard laughing in the background as a camera behind the mannequin’s head shows the car apparently in orbit around Earth.

"It actually really doesn’t look real, it’s crazy," Musk can be heard saying.

He later posted another video showing a "live view of Starman" appearing to cruise, its gloved hand on the wheel, through the darkness of space, the Earth’s image reflected on its glossy red surface.

The car was also outfitted with a high-data storage unit containing Isaac Asimov’s science fiction book series, the Foundation Trilogy, and a plaque bearing the names of 6,000 SpaceX employees.

– ‘Giant step’ –

About two minutes into the flight, the two side boosters peeled away from the center core and made their way back toward Earth for an upright landing.

Both rockets landed side by side in unison on launchpads, live video images showed.

"New Olympic sport – Synchronized Landings!" wrote NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik on Twitter.

"HUGE congrats to the @SpaceX team on your maiden flight! Another giant step towards making spaceflight for everyone a reality."

The third, center booster was to attempt a landing on an ocean platform although its status was still unclear.

Experts said the launch would likely catch the eye of the US space agency NASA, which may consider using the Falcon Heavy as a way to fast-track its plans to reach the Moon again for the first time since 1972.

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot congratulated SpaceX and called it a "tremendous accomplishment."

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said "the successful launch of a new vehicle on its first flight is a significant accomplishment they can be very proud of."

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted:

"What we’re watching is @SpaceX leaving all other rocket companies in the dust. Congrats to everyone there!"

– Falcon Heavy specs –

The Falcon Heavy launched from the same NASA pad that was the base for the Apollo-era Moon missions of the 1960s and 1970s.

It is "the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two," SpaceX said.

That means it can carry twice the payload of United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy, at a far lower cost — about $90 million per launch compared to $350 million for its competitor.

But the Falcon Heavy is not the most powerful rocket ever — just the biggest in operation today.

The Saturn V rocket that propelled astronauts to the Moon could deliver more payload to orbit. The Soviet-era Energia, which flew twice in 1987 and 1988, was also more powerful.

The Falcon Heavy is essentially three smaller, Falcon 9 rockets strapped together, adding up to a total of 27 engines.

The 230-foot (70-meter) tall rocket is designed to carry nearly 141,000 pounds (64 metric tonnes) into orbit — more than the mass of a fully loaded 737 jetliner.

It was initially designed to restore the possibility of sending humans to the Moon or Mars, but those plans have shifted and now the Falcon Heavy is being considered mainly as a potential equipment carrier to these deep space destinations, Musk said Monday.

Instead, another rocket and spaceship combination being developed by SpaceX, nicknamed BFR — alternately known as "Big Fucking Rocket," or "Big Falcon Rocket" — would be the vehicle eventually certified for travellers.

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Sri Lanka rubber farmers to get boost from France, Michellin

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will start a project supported by France and Michellin group to support 6,000 rubber farmers, cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena said.

Rubber farmers in Badalgama and Medagama in the Moneragala district will be supported improve their capacity and supply chains at a cost of 726,700 Euros.

Financial support will be provided by France’s Michellin group which has a subsidiary in Sri Lanka and the government of France.

The project will be implemented by France’s Ksapa group under the guidance of Ministry of Industries.

The cabinet of ministers had cleared a proposal by the Plantations Industries Minister to enter into an agreement to implement the project. (Colombo/Nov29/2022)

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A new Sri Lanka monetary law may have prevented 2019 tax cuts?

ECONOMYNEXT – A new monetary law planned in 2019, if it had been enacted may have prevented the steep tax cuts made in that year which was followed by unprecedented money printing, ex-Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.

The bill for the central bank law was ready in 2019 but the then administration ran out of parliamentary time to enact it, he said.

Economists backing the new administration slashed taxes in December 2019 and placed price controls on Treasuries auctions bought new and maturing securities, claiming that there was a ‘persistent output gap’.

Coomaraswamy said he keeps wondering whether “someone sitting in the Treasury would have implemented those tax cuts” if the law had been enacted.

“We would never know,” he told an investor forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, a Colombo-based brokerage.

The new law however will sill allow open market operations under a highly discretionary ‘flexible’ inflation targeting regime.

A reserve collecting central bank which injects money to push down interest rates as domestic credit recovers triggers forex shortages.

The currency is then depreciated to cover the policy error through what is known as a ‘flexible exchange rate’ which is neither a clean float nor a hard peg.

From 2015 to 2019 two currency crises were triggered mainly through open market operations amid public opposition to direct purchases of Treasury bills, analysts have shown.

Sri Lanka’s central bank generally triggers currency crises in the second or third year of the credit cycle by purchasing maturing bills from existing holders (monetizing the gross financing requirement) as private loan demand pick up and not necessarily to monetize current year deficits, critics have pointed out.

Past deficits can be monetized as long as open market operations are permitted through outright purchases of bill in the hands of banks and other holders.

In Latin America central banks trigger currency crises mainly by their failure to roll-over sterilization securities. (Colombo/Nov29/2022)

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Sri Lanka cabinet clears CEB re-structure proposal: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet has cleared proposals by a committee to re-structure state-run Ceylon Electricity Board, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijeskera said.

“Cabinet approval was granted today to the recommendations proposed by the committee on Restructuring CEB,” he said in a twitter.com message.

“The Electricity Reforms Bill will be drafted within a month to begin the unbundling process of CEB & work on a rapid timeline to get the approval of the Parliament needed.”

Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Electricity Board finances had been hit by failure to operate cost reflective tariffs and there are capacity shortfalls due to failure to implement planned generators in time. (Colombo/Nov28/2022)

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