Japan's space junk cleaner hunts down major target

Plus: Australia to age limit social media; Hong Kong's robo-dogs; India's new tech minister

Asia in brief The space junk cleaning mission launched by Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully hunted down one of its targets.

The Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration saw Japanese outfit Astroscale work with JAXA to launch a satellite named ADRAS-J that demonstrates capabilities needed to de-orbit space junk. Last Friday, the two entities revealed that one of the mission's four goals – making a close approach to a target and observing it from a fixed point while providing continuous images at a required image quality and data volume – was achieved in late May.

The object observed was the upper stage of a H-IIA rocket, launched in 2009 to carry the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite into space. The image below depicts that upper stage, as viewed by ADRAS-J from a distance of just 50 meters.

One of the images of the target space debris taken during the "fixed-point observation" (H-IIA upper stage, which launched Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT), also known as Ibuki in 2009, H2A R/B, International Designator: 2009-002J, Catalog Number: 33500, the bottom of the image is toward the nadir direction).

One of the images of the H-IIA upper stage captured by ADRAS-J – Click to enlarge

The image is said to demonstrate that Japan's aim of developing commercial space cleaning services is progressing satisfactorily.

India names new tech minister

India's re-elected government has named a new minister in a key technology portfolio.

One minister from the previous government, Ashwini Vaishnaw, retained his position in Cabinet, along with the portfolios of Railways, Information and Broadcasting, and Electronics and Information Technology.

Jitin Prasada was asked to serve as a minister of state in the Electronics and Information Technology portfolio. The previous minister of state for that portfolio, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, unexpectedly decided to end his time in politics.

Singapore techie reportedly jailed for deleting former employer's VMs

An Indian national who once worked for Singaporean services outfit NCS has reportedly been jailed for deleting virtual machines after being dismissed.

Singapore media report that the man, an Indian national, was let go by NCS and returned to his home country but remained able to log on to the company's services.

He then deleted multiple VMs in a test environment. After the disappearance of the VMs was noticed, authorities reportedly found evidence the convicted man searched for scripts that would delete resources. The former employee explained that he was confused and angry after being fired, and has been sentenced to two years and eight months jail.

Hong Kong uses robodog to sniff out pollution

Hong Kong's government has tested a robot dog as a means to sniff out pollution.

A government case study published on Sunday explains that environmental officers currently rely on their own noses to sniff out pollution.

Environmental Protection Department senior environmental protection officer Law Chi-wing said the robodog "provides objective data and quickly tracks the location of such sources."

The department envisions a future where this gas-sniffing robot dog can replace human investigators when it comes to entering dangerous and enclosed spaces during pollution investigations, enhancing both the efficiency of their investigations and the occupational safety of the investigators.

Forrester predicts APAC tech spending surge

Analyst firm Forrester last week predicted tech spending in the APAC region would grow by 6.4 percent during 2024, to reach a total of $710 billion.

Compound annual growth rates will persist at between 6.4 percent to 7.4 percent per year from 2024 to 2027, meaning spend in the latter year will reach $876 billion.

India will be the region's fastest-growing nation in 2024, with its 10.8 percent tech spend acceleration outpacing the 8.1 percent across six nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam), China’s 7.2 percent, Singapore’s 5.6 percent, and Australia’s 4.0 percent growth.

Australia likely to impose social media age requirement

Australia's two main political parties have both endorsed the idea of limiting social media access to people over 16.

Late-boomer prime minister Anthony Albanese (61) and Gen-X opposition leader Peter Dutton (53) have both backed the idea, and suggested age verification will be needed to make it happen. Neither, however, has suggested a mechanism for age verification.

Last week Australia also launched an information sharing scheme aimed at restricting the effectiveness of financial scams. The Australian Financial Crimes Exchange (AFCX) sees multiple financial institutions share info on scams they have observed, or suspected perps. The Exchange will work with other government agencies to identify more scams and scammers – in some cases by using data provided by social networks.

APAC Dealbook

New deals, partnerships and alliances we spotted around the region last week included:

  • NTT Data acquired a majority stake in India's ProvenTech Pvt Ltd – an outfit that provides quality management and manufacturing solutions to the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and food industries using its own products, SAP, and other enterprise software.
  • Australia's Macquarie Cloud struck a "strategic relationship" with Dell and Microsoft that will see it offer a hybrid cloud service that combines Azure Stack HCI and Dell's Apex ITaaS service. We're told customers will get "workload flexibility, a single management plane, consistent experience, 24x7 mission critical support and evergreen compliance across public, private and hybrid cloud environments."
  • Huawei signed a memorandum of understanding with South African telco MTN under which the pair will "jointly promote the large-scale application of key capabilities of Net5.5G, such as 400GE, SRv6, slicing, and Network Digital Map, to continuously improve MTN's service experience and network availability in the Consumer and B2B fields." Huawei is a leading backer of 5.5G – an evolution of the wireless standard that includes some elements expected to appear in the 6G spec late this decade.
  • Infosys has reportedly won a deal to assemble new IT capacity for IKEA. The deal is said to see the Indian concern take on hundreds of IKEA IT staff across Europe, in pursuit of innovation.


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