Inverse - 🚀 Is Boeing’s Starliner An Anomaly?

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Science
Is Boeing’s Starliner An Anomaly, Or Is Space Flight Just Really Hard?

NASA and its space aviation partners are in the midst of a major problem. Their newest human-rated spacecraft, Boeing’s Starliner, is in the middle of a string of issues. The latest? A second helium leak. While it might seem easy to place full blame on Boeing, in reality, rocketry is, put simply, extremely difficult.

Boeing and SpaceX received contracts a decade ago to build out the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program. This would see astronauts launch into space from American soil for the first time since the Space Shuttle retired. In the interim, NASA paid Russia tens of millions of dollars to purchase individual seats on their Soyuz spacecraft. This mostly wrapped up when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon aced its summer 2020 astronaut debut flight.

Boeing’s Starliner is meant to join the Crew Dragon as a go-to transportation vehicle, but its been delayed longer than expected. NASA will conduct a flight readiness review next week, the space agency reported on Thursday. The new target launch date is June 1.

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Huge Meta-Analysis Shows This Ancient Diet Is Full of Health Benefits
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Reel Science
‘Star Trek: Discovery’s Series Finale Features Ridiculously Weird But Real Physics
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Featured
Lais Borges/Inverse; Getty
Tech
8 Years Ago, Google Beat Alexa — Then It Just Let the Assistant Waste Away

Google Assistant was supposed to be Google’s future. The voice assistant was an early attempt at ambient computing that gave customers a one-on-one relationship with all of the company’s products. Sure, Google was directly responding to Amazon’s announcement of Alexa and the Echo, but it was also deploying years of research it had already conducted on natural language processing and machine learning. In many ways, the Assistant was uniquely suited to supercharge a voice-driven Google Search.

And yet, eight years since Google Assistant and the Google Home smart speaker were first announced at I/O 2016, voice assistants were nowhere to be found at I/O 2024, and the category has few improvements to show for its near decade of existence. Gemini, the family of multimodal AI models integrated across Google’s products, is now the star of the show, and generative artificial intelligence is the bridge Google has to sell, if only to keep up with the clear lead OpenAI has with ChatGPT.

For a brief time, Google was on top, successfully making the case that the Assistant could be the default way people interacted with its services, and maybe even the entire web. But whether because of the limits of voice assistant technology or its wavering interest, Google is starting over again, and it’s not clear large language models have any more of a future.

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News
Yorgos Lanthimos’ Next Movie Sounds Perfect
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GAming
‘Helldivers 2’ Is Making Big Changes That Will Benefit Everyone On Super Earth
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Retrospective
‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Finale Remains Perfect
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