The research landscape in Seattle and beyond

Seattle skyline

A panoramic camera mounted on the spire atop Seattle’s Space Needle captures a view of the city skyline, looking southeast toward Mount Rainier. (Space Needle PanoCam Photo)

Looking for a wide-angle view of the Seattle area’s scientific landscape? Download a PowerPoint slide show that provides a sampling of research institutions in aerospace, biomedicine, computer science, global medicine and more. It’s an extended version of a presentation given at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle.

Here’s a PDF version of the slideshow.

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Systima expands to meet hypersonic demand

Hypersonic test

Systima Technologies was a subcontractor on the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program, or HIFiRE, in 2012. (AFRL Photo)

Kirkland, Wash.-based Systima Technologies is taking on more employees and real estate to work on Defense Department contracts related to hypersonic and long-range weapon systems.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

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Boeing’s software missteps spark NASA review

Starliner landing

Boeing, NASA, and U.S. Army personnel put a protective cover over Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft shortly after its Dec. 22 landing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. (NASA Photo / Bill Ingalls)

An interim assessment of what went wrong during December’s first uncrewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner space taxi has turned up so many breakdowns that NASA is ordering a comprehensive safety review of the company’s procedures.

NASA and Boeing provided a status report on the Starliner post-flight reviews today, after concerns were raised publicly this week during a meeting of the space agency’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel.

“We are 100% committed to transparency,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters during a teleconference.

This week’s revelations add to concerns about engineering shortcomings in other lines of Boeing’s business — including commercial airplanes, where a software issue and lapses in training procedures led to two catastrophic crashes and the worldwide grounding of 737 MAX jets; and military airplanes, where Boeing is having to retrofit Air Force KC-46 tankers to fix a design flaw.

Douglas Loverro, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, alluded to those shortcomings as he discussed the decision he made with Bridenstine’s support to order a wider safety review. “There were several factors that were in my mind when I asked the boss if we could do this,” he said. “And those were obviously press reports that we’ve seen from other parts of Boeing, as well as what seemed to be characterized as these software issues.”

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Electron microscope heads for the final frontier

Voxa CEO Chris Own

Voxa CEO Chris Own stands in the middle of a living room that’s been converted into a workshop for building and testing electron microscopes. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

SHORELINE, Wash. — Running a startup out of your garage may sound like a tech cliche, but for Voxa CEO Chris Own, it’s routine.

What’s not routine are the breadbox-sized electron microscopes that are sitting in Own’s garage, and in the living room that’s been converted into a workshop. This weekend, one of those microscopes is scheduled to be launched to the International Space Station.

Voxa’s Mochii microscope is among the science payloads that are due to go into orbit inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo capsule as early as Sunday, as part of an uncrewed resupply mission launching from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast.

“The payload itself is an experiment,” Own told GeekWire at the family home in Shoreline. “It’s the first time an electron microscope — any instrument of this type of complexity in such a small, convenient form factor — has ever been flown.”

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Dozens of OneWeb satellites go into orbit

Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium today used a Russian-made Soyuz rocket to send 34 satellites into a near-polar orbit for OneWeb’s broadband internet constellation, sharpening a rivalry with SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation.

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SpaceX may spin out its Starlink satellite venture

Starlink satellite

An artist’s conception shows the deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. (SpaceX Illustration)

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell is quoted as saying that the company is planning to spin out its Starlink satellite internet operation — which is currently centered in Redmond, Wash. — and offer shares in an initial public offering.

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Astronaut lands after setting a record for women

NASA astronaut Christina Koch struck a joyful note today after finishing up 328 days in space aboard the International Space Station, a stay that has gone into the history books as the longest spaceflight made by a woman.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

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