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Boeing HorizonX invests in Cuberg battery venture

Richard Wang
Cuberg co-founder and CEO Richard Wang holds up one of the company’s original battery designs. (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Photo / Marilyn Chung)

Boeing’s HorizonX venture investment team says it has led a seed funding round for Cuberg, a California startup focusing on next-generation battery technology for potential aerospace and industrial applications.

Among the most relevant applications would be power storage for electric airplanes and underwater drones — both of which are in Boeing’s wheelhouse.

“Cuberg’s battery technology has some of the highest energy density we’ve seen in the marketplace, and its unique chemistries could prove to be a safe, stable solution for future electric air transportation,” Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing HorizonX, said today in a statement.

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No joke: Elon Musk sells $500 flamethrowers

Flamethrowers
The Boring Company’s $500 flamethrower gets a demonstration. (Elon Musk via Instagram)

We thought Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, was kidding when he promised that his tunneling venture, the Boring Company, would follow up on its sale of 50,000 logo caps by selling flamethrowers.

We still thought he was kidding when it turned out there was a stealthy, password-protected page on the Boring Company website, offering flamethrowers for $600.

But Elon Musk is not kidding, folks — and the flamethrower is a steal at $500.

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SpaceX sets Falcon Heavy’s first liftoff for Feb. 6

Falcon Heavy
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy stands tall at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida during ground testing. (SpaceX Photo)

The world’s most powerful rocket finally has a date for its debut: Feb. 6.

In a tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed the target date for the first test launch of his company’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which is due to send Musk’s red Tesla Roadster sports car on a flight of fancy ranging out as far as the orbit of Mars.

He touted “easy viewing” of the scheduled liftoff from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which previously served as the site of liftoffs for moon rockets and space shuttles.

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U.S. trade panel bats down Bombardier jet tariff

Bombardier jet
Sales of Bombardier’s CS100 jet won’t be hit by tariffs after all. (Bombardier Photo / Patrick Cardinal)

Canadian airplane maker Bombardier scored an unexpected victory today over Boeing when the U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously rejected a plan to levy a 292 percent tariff on the company’s U.S. sales.

In a statement, the commission said it determined that U.S. industry “is not materially injured or threatened with material injury” by imports of Bombardier’s 100- to 150-seat CSeries jets.

That runs counter to Boeing’s claim that Bombardier’s Canadian government subsidies would threaten its sales of 737 jets. The U.S. Commerce Department sided with Boeing and called for the tariff, but it was up to the ITC to approve the penalty.

The decision suggests that Bombardier’s multibillion-dollar sale of up to 125 single-aisle CS100 jets to Delta Air Lines, announced last April, will go forward.

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How mosquitoes associate scents with swats

Mosquito
A mosquito flies on the end of a tether during an experiment to study responses to a swat-like shock. (Kiley Riffell Photo via University of Washington)

Does it do any good to swat at a mosquito if you miss? Yes, according to a newly published study.

A novel experiment conducted primarily by biologists at the University of Washington found that mosquitoes seem to associate the shock of the swat with the swatter’s scent, and learn to stay away.

“Once mosquitoes learned odors in an aversive manner, those odors caused aversive responses on the same order as responses to DEET, which is one of the most effective mosquito repellents,” senior author Jeff Riffell, a UW biology professor, said in a news release.

“Moreover, mosquitoes remember the trained odors for days,” he said.

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Amazon seeks patent for autonomous ground vehicle

Autonomous ground vehicle
A diagram shows the configuration for an autonomous ground vehicle with two compartments. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)

Is a robotic retriever in your future?

Amazon thinks so: In a patent application published today, inventors working for the Seattle-based online retailer lay out a detailed plan for an autonomous ground vehicle that can roll out from someone’s home, pick up a package from a delivery truck and bring it to the right place.

The boxy robot depicted in the 2016 application looks a lot like the delivery robot that Starship Technologies has built for delivering meals on wheels. But the AGV’s intended function is more of a throwback to the 1950s idyll in which the family dog fetches the newspaper and lays it at its master’s slippered feet.

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15 years after Columbia, NASA honors fallen fliers

NASA Day of Remembrance
Amy Resnik, sister-in-law of Challenger astronaut Judy Resnik, and Kristy Carroll, family friend of Columbia astronaut William McCool, embrace by the Space Shuttle Columbia and Challenger Memorials at Arlington National Cemetery on NASA’s Day of Remembrance. (NASA Photo / Bill Ingalls)

The last Thursday of January is NASA’s time to pay tribute to fallen astronauts, including 1967’s Apollo 1 astronauts and the Challenger shuttle astronauts who were lost in 1986. Today, there’s an added emphasis on the shuttle Columbia’s last crew, due to the 15th anniversary of that tragedy.

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Pull out of space station by 2025? It could happen

Image: International Space Station
The International Space Station has been continuously occupied since 2000. (NASA photo)

White House budget plans are zeroing in on zeroing out federal funding for the International Space Station by 2025, to free up money for a Deep Space Gateway in lunar orbit.

The plan is already generating opposition from those who want to leave the door open for continued government involvement in the space station beyond 2025, including Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

“If the administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they’re going to have a fight on their hands,” Nelson, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement.

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Southwest Airlines announces Everett flights

Southwest 737
Southwest Airlines is the third and final airline to announce commercial passenger service to Paine Field in Everett, Wash. (Boeing Photo)

Southwest Airlines says it’ll add up to five flights to the daily departure schedule for the yet-to-be-completed passenger terminal at Paine Field in Everett, Wash.

That makes Southwest the third airline to plan service to Everett, after Alaska Airlines and United — and the terminal’s operator, Propeller Airports, says there’ll be no more.

“We’re full,” the Everett Herald quoted Propeller CEO Brett Smith as saying. “That’s it, there are no more airline announcements. Any other airline that comes will be told there’s no more room.”

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Spoof touts Quentin Tarantino’s R-rated ‘Star Trek’

What would an R-rated “Star Trek” movie directed by Quentin Tarantino look like?

We may find out someday soon: The director of “Kill Bill,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Inglorious Basterds” and other violence-laced neo-noir films is reportedly working with “Revenant” screenwriter Mark L. Smith and producer J.J. Abrams on a harder-edged version of the Starship Enterprise’s saga.

Nerdist has already put together a must-see video trailer for a Tarantino-tinged Trek, titled “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek: Voyage to Vengeance.”

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