NASA, SpaceX make history with Launch America / Amazon, Facebook hold AGMs / Boris Johnson to be questioned over coronavirus handling

By Lucy Ingham


Good morning, here’s your Wednesday morning briefing. Look out for these three things happening around the world today.

NASA, SpaceX make history with Launch America

NASA and SpaceX will make history today by launching two US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on US soil, in a US-made rocket.

This has not happened in almost a decade, when Space Shuttle Atlantis made its last journey in 2011. Since then, NASA astronauts have been transported to the ISS from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome by Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Today’s event, known as Launch America, will see former space shuttle astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken transported to the ISS by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It will take off from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 39A, which was previously used to send Apollo astronauts to the Moon.

The launch, which is scheduled to begin at 4:33pm EDT, will be livestreamed by both NASA and SpaceX, with coverage set to begin 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

Amazon, Facebook hold AGMs

Tech investors will have their fill today, with both Amazon and Facebook set to hold their annual general meetings (AGMs) for shareholders.

Amazon’s AGM follows a warning from CEO Jeff Bezos that despite doing roaring trade amid the pandemic, the company would be spending at least the $4bn profit it made in Q1 2020 on coronavirus-related expenses, which could prompt probing questions. It also follows a charged 2019 AGM where shareholders demanded action on climate change and diversity.

Facebook’s AGM, meanwhile, follows a Q1 earnings report in which the company reported revenue growth despite “unprecedented uncertainty”, and the launch of embedded shopping platform Facebook Shops. 2019’s AGM also saw CEO Mark Zuckerberg fight off an attempt to force him to step down as chairman of the company.

Amazon’s virtual AGM will begin at 9am PT and be available to stream via its website, while Facebook’s will begin at 10am PT and can be streamed here.

Boris Johnson to be questioned over coronavirus handling

UK Prime Minister will today face questioning by the UK Parliament Liaison Committee, which is made up of chairs of the various select committees, on how the government has handled the coronavirus.

It follows a week of significant criticism of the government over the actions of Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings, who has been accused of breaking the lockdown by making a 270 mile journey to Durham while suffering symptoms of Covid-19. The government’s backing of Cummings has already led to the resignation of the minister for Scotland, Douglas Ross, in protest, and is likely to be a key topic in today’s questioning.

Johnson is also likely to be questioned on topics such as the decision to reopen schools from 1 June; the much-criticised switch in messaging to the phrase “Stay Alert”; the shortages of personal protective equipment and the economic impact of the virus.

The session will begin at 4pm BST and will be available to stream via Parliament’s website.

Tuesday’s Highlights



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Public 5G launched in Sweden despite spectrum auction delay