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Tech Talk

•A Russian weather satellite and nearly 20 micro-satellites from various nations failed to enter their designated orbits Tuesday following the launch from Russia’s new cosmodrome, another blow to the nation’s space programme.

Russia’s Roscosmos space agency said it has failed to establish communications with the Meteor M 2-1 satellite that was launched atop a Soyuz-2 booster rocket Tuesday from Russia’s new Vostochny launch pad in the Far East. The agency says it’s trying to determine what happened.

Russian news agencies reported the likely cause was the failure of the booster’s final stage, the Fregat, possibly caused by a software flaw.

The booster also carried 18 micro satellites built in Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the Meteor and other satellites fell into the ocean or were stranded in low orbit.

The glitch follows other failed launches in recent years that tarnished the reputation of Russian space industries. Some of the glitches were traced to manufacturing flaws.

Asked about the failed launch, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov refrained from immediate comment, saying that the Kremlin was expecting space officials’ report on the situation.

The failed launch is the second since the Vostochny cosmodrome made its debut in April 2016.

Russia spent billions of dollars to build the new launch pad as a possible alternative to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan that Moscow has leased from its former Soviet neighbour.

• Facebook is turning to artificial intelligence to detect if someone might be contemplating suicide.

Facebook already has mechanisms for flagging posts from people thinking about harming themselves.

The new feature is intended to detect such posts before anyone reports them.

The service will scan posts and live video with a technique called “pattern recognition.”

For example, comments from friends such as “are you ok?” can indicate suicidal thoughts.

Facebook has already been testing the feature in the U.S. and is making it available in most other countries.

The European Union is excluded, though; Facebook won’t say why.

The company is also using AI to prioritise the order that flagged posts are sent to its human moderators so they can quickly alert local authorities.

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