- - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NEW YORK

Google Plus network now open to everyone

NEW YORKGoogle Inc. has opened up its Google Plus social network to everyone after testing it with a limited audience for 12 weeks.

Google said in a blog post Tuesday that it will now let anyone sign up for Google Plus. Previously the service was available only by invitation, though it got easier to join in recent weeks.

The company also added a search capability to Google Plus that will let users sift through posts on the site.

Google Plus is the online search leader’s attempt to compete with Facebook, by far the world’s most populous online social network with more than 750 million users. Tuesday’s upgrades come two days ahead of Facebook’s f8 conference in San Francisco, where the company is expected to unveil several new features.

CALIFORNIA

Desert factory completed for passenger-ready spaceships

MOJAVE — Space tourism is closer to reality after the completion of an $8 million Mojave Desert production plant where the world’s first fleet of passenger-ready spaceships will be built.

Hundreds of public officials and reporters were invited Monday to tour the giant hangar where the White Knight and SpaceShipTwo craft will be built. Up to 200 people will work at the assembly plant, which will be used primarily for the final assembly, integration and testing before the aircraft are delivered to customers.

The Spaceship Co. facility is a joint venture of Mojave-based Scaled Composites and British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

“Today marks another important step along the road to opening space for everyone,” Mr. Branson said. “From this hangar, the talented team at the Spaceship Co. will be at the forefront of making space access safe, reliable and affordable.”

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides told the Los Angeles Times that completion of the production facility moves Galactic closer to sending paying passengers into space. A ticket costs $200,000 and more than 400 people have paid the full price or a deposit for a chance to experience weightlessness, according to Virgin Galactic.

SpaceShipTwo is based on Burt Rutan’s award-winning SpaceShipOne prototype, which became the first privately financed manned rocket to reach space in 2004.

NEW JERSEY

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