iFive: Space Business and Science, Google Strict on Apps, iPad 2 Rumors, Gaddafi Jams Sat Phones, YouTube Subscription Movies

1. While one of the final missions of the Space Shuttle flies in orbit, the new commercial space biz is also getting off the ground: XCOR Aerospace revealed that the Southwest Research Institute has bought six suborbital flights for scientific study equipment plus one mission specialist. It represents something of a first for the new private suborbital space industry, and is an unmistakable sign of changing times.

2. Is Google cloning Apple's stern management policy for its mobile App Store as well as everything else? It may be: Google's pulled the "Visual VoiceMail" app, a popular one, from the Android app market citing violation of policy. Specifically, it seems in-app payments or the fact its developers offer an ad-free version on the web is the trouble—or possibly as it competes with an "official" app. Sounds like Apple?

3. New excitement about the upcoming iPad 2 is being stirred up by gadget site Engadget, which is claiming "eleventh hour changes" have resulted in ditching the SD card slot and retina-quality high-res screen. All other new features, like a skinnier chassis, faster CPU, and twin cams are still there, apparently. We doubt the last-minute claims, since we've heard this rumor for a while, but everything else is plausible.

4. As well as stamping on human rights, and shuttering the Net and phone networks inside Libya, Gaddafi's government is taking a further technological step that didn't happen in Egypt or Tunisia—it's jamming satellite phone signals. Specifically it's targeting UAE-based Thuraya's service, which provides cover in the Mideast, north Africa, and Europe.

5. Google is priming YouTube to rival Netflix, Amazon, and Apple—it's planning an unlimited subscription service for streaming quality movies, and will begin a trial overseas (specifically in the U.K.) before bringing it to the U.S. The company has set aside $100 million for negotiating deals and securing content from movie studios.

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  • John Powell

    The new spaceplanes are cool, however students have been flying their projects for a while now. PongSats have been flying to the edge of space for nearly a decade for free.
    Over 3400 experiments done by nearly 10,000 students. All flown by JP Aerospace.
    The next flight is in April and will carry over 700 experiments
    http://www.jpaerospace.com

    JP