Japan successfully powers steam-powered spacecraft • The Register

Asia in brief The Japanese space agency has successfully used water to propel a spacecraft and claims it represents “the world’s first successful orbit control beyond low Earth orbit using a water-fuel propulsion system.”

The vehicle in question is EQUULEUS, the 6U CubeSat that rode on NASA’s Orion mission.

After the moon flyby, EQUULEUS was aimed at the second Earth-Moon Lagrange point (EML2). To get there, an engine called AQUARIUS (AQUA ResIstojet propUlsion System) was used, which uses water as fuel. The vehicle uses waste heat from the communications kit to heat the water into steam, which is expelled to create thrust.

As explained in this presentation [PDF]Water is easier to store and handle than other fuels, making it ideal for use in small, cheap satellites.

AQUARIUS also requires little power to operate, but is not very powerful. EQUILEUS will take a year and a half to reach EML2 – a point in space worth visiting because it is beneficial for transfer to other orbits. This includes interplanetary orbits.

The combination of EQUULEUS and AQUARIUS makes a visit to EML2 cost-effective and a test case for future on-site visits.

EQUULEUS carries an instrument called DELPHINUS (DEtection camera for Lunar impact PHenomena IN 6U Spacecraft) designed to observe lunar impact flashes and near-Earth asteroids from EML2. Another instrument on board EQUILEUS will observe the Earth’s plasmasphere.

-Simon Sharwood

$2 billion fund targeting data center construction in APAC

Singaporean real estate investment firm SC Capital and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority have formed a $2 billion venture to fund the construction of data centers across APAC.

The investment will be overseen by SC Zeus Data Centers, a company SC Capital founded in early 2022 to manage its data center portfolio.

The fund focuses on Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia.

SC Zeus is already present in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. The company designs, develops and manages data centers across the region.

-Simon Sharwood

Singaporean authorities are investigating criminal activities at crypto exchange Hodlnaut

Singapore Police announced last week that the city-state’s commercial crimes investigative body – the Commercial Affairs Department – has launched an investigation into local crypto exchange Hodlnaut.

“Between August and November 2022, police received multiple reports alleging that Hodlnaut and/or its directors made false statements about the company’s exposure to a particular digital token,” Singapore Police said. Hodlnaut was reportedly involved in the collapsed crypto firm FTX.

“Based on these police reports, the CAD is investigating Hodlnaut and its directors for possible fraud and fraud offences.”

Hodlnaut entered “judicial administration” – a legal status similar to receivership – in September 2022 and has issued regular updates to investors whose funds have been frozen following a liquidity crisis.

-Simon Sharwood

Korea and Singapore sign digital partnership

Trade ministers from Singapore and Korea signed a digital partnership last week, completing years of efforts to strike a deal.

Known as the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA), the partnership establishes digital trade rules that promote system interoperability.

Main features of the agreement [PDF] These include support for e-payments development, ways to avoid data localization, responsible AI, source code protection, consumer protection, personal data security and more.

The KSDPA is Korea’s first digital partnership and Singapore’s fourth – albeit Singapore’s first with an Asian country.

Korea’s Commerce Minister Dukgeun Ahn said the KSDPA will also serve as a model and stepping stone in Korea’s growing digital trade network.”

The two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Korea-Singapore Digital Economy Dialogue. Associated meetings will be attended by government and private sector representatives and will begin early next year.

Letters of intent for digital Certificates of Origin (COO), data sharing for verification of digital customs clearance documents, and joint R&D projects on AI ethics and governance systems are also in the works.

Bosch opens research and development center for intelligent mobility in Shanghai

German auto parts maker Bosch opened a research and development center in the Pudong district of Shanghai last week.

The facility represents a total investment of approximately $21 million and includes an office spanning more than 10,000 square meters2). The center will employ over 540 people.

It is the third and largest R&D center for Bosch in China. The company employs a total of 1,400 people in China – 80 percent of whom work in research and development.

The center will focus on mobility, with projects on digital cockpits, smart cars and software-related research expected, Bosch said on Chinese social media.

The auto parts maker hopes to mass produce its new full-stack smart driving platform with sensors, computing platforms, algorithm applications and cloud connectivity in 2023.

The company said its intelligent cockpit platform already has six major Chinese OEM projects. A next-gen version is currently in development.

“The new platform will integrate some driver assistance features to offer customers smarter cockpit products,” Bosch said.

“We hope to actively cooperate with Jinqiao Economic Development Zone and its upstream and downstream companies in the automotive industry chain to jointly promote the innovation and development of intelligent vehicles in the Chinese market.”

LG Electronics reorganizes to drive growth

South Korean company LG Electronics has announced a reorganization as it pursues a new strategy and improved profits.

The big change is the creation of a “Corporate Customer Experience (CX) Center” that will report directly to LG HQ.

“The main task of the CX Center will be to create a seamless and enhanced customer experience,” LG said in an announcement. “It will also develop strategies and roadmaps to encourage more innovation at every stage of the customer experience, from product planning and customer service to future business models.”

The reorganization envisages LG’s Home Entertainment (HE) Company establishing an R&D department in Indonesia “to improve cooperation between overseas R&D and manufacturing bases”.

The company has also launched an electric vehicle charger division — one of several efforts targeting the automotive industry.

-Simon Sharwood

Pakistan’s government subsidizes smartphone purchases

Pakistan last week launched a program called “Smartphone for All,” in which the government makes an upfront payment equal to 30 percent of the price of a smartphone.

Low-income Pakistanis pay the rest of the price in installments.

The program aims to connect more citizens to government services.

Pakistan’s communications minister recently pledged that 5G mobile services will come to the nation next year.

-Simon Sharwood

China plans robotic outpost on the moon

China plans to build a robotic outpost on the moon by 2028.

state organ China Dailylast week reported plans to send a robotic mission called Chang’e 6 to collect samples from the far side of the moon. Next comes the robot Chang’e 7 on a mission to search for water and other resources at the south pole of the moon.

Chang’e 8 will also land at the South Pole and together with Chang’e 7 create a robotic outpost that will have orbiters, landers, rovers and detectors working as a “prototype robotic scientific outpost”.

-Simon Sharwood

In other news…

Our regional coverage last week included coverage of

UK bans Chinese surveillance cameras in ‘sensitive’ government facilities.

China’s antitrust watchdog proposed an overhaul of the national competition law to further target tech companies. The move comes after an unusual period of dormancy by China’s regulators.

Baidu executives have shrugged off suggestions that US chip export restrictions have had a negative impact on the company’s business, claiming that the sanctions have accelerated the country’s quest for self-sufficiency.

Meanwhile, Beijing declared victory over the addition of video games for teens, claiming that around 70 percent of Chinese children are complying with government-mandated gaming time limits.

Protests erupted at Foxconn over payment issues and COVID-19 lockdowns. Foxconn has not denied wage discrepancies, calling them a “technical error”.

After massive delays in passing data protection regulations, India has enacted two separate regulations within a week.

Also in India, IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar called for the development of global artificial intelligence standards to prevent the technology from harming humanity.

And Amazon exited India’s edtech market as “one of many” cuts across the company.

AWS opened a new infrastructure region in Hyderabad, making it the second in India. The other region is in Mumbai.

Similar to the rest of the tech industry, Asia’s superapps are shedding staff despite reporting “strong” third-quarter results.

Apple said it will change the odd way it charges developers in South Korea commissions for selling software on its App Store. According to the country’s Fair Trade Commission, local developers no longer pay three percent more than their international counterparts.

Japan’s payload on NASA’s Orion spacecraft saw mixed success this week. One of its CubeSats, EQUULEUS, sent back photos from the far side of the Moon, while OMOTENASHI missed its only chance to de-orbit and hit the Moon thanks to unresponsive radios.

https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/28/asia_tech_news_brief/ Japan successfully powers steam-powered spacecraft • The Register

Rick Schindler

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