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ExxonMobil, Apple, Boeing latest US giants to cut ties with Moscow******
Apple iPhone 13 smartphones on display in the re:Store shop in Tverskaya Street in Moscow on September 24, 2021.
Apple, ExxonMobil and Boeing announced on Tuesday in rapid succession steps to withdraw or freeze business in Russia as more US corporate giants take action after the Ukraine crisis.
The moves – in diverse industries and following earlier announcements by Disney, Ford, Mastercard and others – highlight the rising economic toll on Russia after its military operation in Ukraine unleashed massive sanctions across Western governments.
ExxonMobil will begin a phased withdrawal from the giant Sakhalin offshore oilfield that it has operated since 1995.
The US company operates in Russia on behalf of a consortium including Russian, Indian and Japanese companies, its only major project in Russia, after it pulled out of two joint ventures during the previous round of sanctions against Russia following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
ExxonMobil's move follows earlier decisions by British energy group BP and Shell to pull out of joint projects in Russia. France's TotalEnergies said it would stay in Russia, but refrain from investing more money there.
ExxonMobil stressed that "the process to discontinue operations will need to be carefully managed and closely coordinated with the co-venturers in order to ensure it is executed safely."
Focus on security of staff
Earlier, Apple said it would halt all product sales in Russia and limit the use of Apple Pay and other services in the country.
Ukraine's defiant government, which has urged its people to battle Russian forces, has asked for help from all quarters, including Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Boeing for its part said it was suspending its support for Russian airlines and its operations in Moscow, saying it was "focused on ensuring the safety of our teammates in the region."
The action could weigh heavily on flag carrier Aeroflot, which flies the Boeing 737 and 777, and last week announced it was suspending flights to Europe in response to the flight ban.
The United States and European allies have put tough sanctions on Moscow in recent days, including by cutting selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, while Washington has announced measures specifically targeting the country's central bank.
NASA telescope set for launch on million******AFP。
In this picture released by NASA, Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope onboard is seen at the launch pad on December 23 at Europe's Spaceport, the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.。
The world's most powerful space telescope is set to blast off on Saturday to its outpost 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, after several delays caused by technical hitches.。
The James Webb Space Telescope, some three decades and billions of dollars in the making, will leave Earth enclosed in its Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana.。
The launch, scheduled in a brief window after 9:20am (12:20pm GMT), will send the telescope on a monthlong journey to its remote orbit.。
It is expected to beam back new clues that will help scientists understand more about the origins of the universe and Earth-like planets beyond our solar system.。
Named after a former NASA director, Webb follows in the footsteps of the legendary Hubble – but intends to show humans what the Universe looked like even closer to its birth nearly 14 billion years ago.。
Speaking on social media, Webb project co-founder John Mather described the telescope's unprecedented sensitivity.。
"#JWST can see the heat signature of a bumblebee at the distance of the Moon," he said.。
All that power is needed to detect the weak glow emitted billions of years ago by the very first galaxies to exist and the first stars being formed.。
The telescope is unequaled in size and complexity.。
Its mirror measures 6.5 meters in diameter – three times the size of the Hubble's mirror – and is made of 18 hexagonal sections.。
It is so large that it had to be folded to fit into the rocket.。
That manoeuvre was laser-guided with NASA imposing strict isolation measures to limit any contact with the telescope's mirrors from particles or even human breath.。
Once the rockets have carried Webb 120 kilometers, the protective nose of the craft, called a "fairing," is shed to lighten the load.。
To protect the delicate instrument from changes in pressure at that stage, rocket-builder Arianespace installed a custom decompression system.。
"Exceptional measures for an exceptional client," said a European Space Agency official in Kourou on Thursday.。
Crew on the ground will know whether the first stage of the flight was successful about 27 minutes after launch.。
Once it reaches its station, the challenge will be to fully deploy the mirror and a tennis-court-sized sun shield.。
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