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Under the Radar

Saharan Snow

On January 8 16 inches of snow fell in the Algerian town of Ain Sefra in the Sahara Desert. This was only the third such occurrence in the past 37 years. Meteorologists said unusually high pressure over Europe forced frigid air down into North Africa.

Private Space Rockets

Private companies are becoming bigger players in the launch business. Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched 18 Falcon 9 rockets with commercial payloads in 2017. It is preparing to launch Falcon Heavy, essentially three Falcon 9s lashed together, which will be capable of putting 64 tons into orbit. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, also has a rocket company, Blue Origin. It plans on launching its New Glenn rocket in 2020 with an orbital space load of 45 tons.

Carillion Collapses

Carrillion PLC, Great Britain’s second largest construction company with over 43,000 employees, entered compulsory liquidation (bankruptcy) as it succumbed to excessive debt and poorly bid government contracts. It owes over $2.6 billion to over 30,000 firms and subcontractors so the knock on effects will be large. In addition its 14 pension plans were revealed to be in deficit by $1.2 billion.

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