Categories
GeekWire

HyperSciences wins support for ram accelerator

Mark Russell
HyperSciences CEO Mark Russell holds a test projectile that is used in the company’s ram accelerator system. (HyperSciences via YouTube)

Things are looking up, and looking down, for HyperSciences Inc. Either way, that’s good news for the four-year-old hypersonic startup in Spokane, Wash., and for its founder and CEO, Mark Russell.

Hypersciences’ key technology is a ram accelerator system that can be used to drill downward into rock up to 10 times more quickly than traditional methods — or send a projectile upward at 6,700 mph, roughly nine times the speed of sound.

The drilling application, known as HyperDrill, won more than $1 million in support from Shell Global’s GameChanger program for early-stage technology development. In May, Shell sent HyperSciences a non-binding letter of intent to provide another $250,000 in development funding, potentially leading to a $2.5 million field trial.

Also in May, NASA awarded HyperSciences a $125,000 Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grant to develop a hypersonic launch system based on the company’s HyperCore ram accelerator technology.

“There’s a new way to fly,” Russell told GeekWire.

To take HyperSciences to the next level, Russell and his team have turned to SeedInvest, an online platform for equity-based crowdfunding,

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

It’s prime time for seeing Mars and the moon

Mars
A global dust storm covers Mars’ disk in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope, captured on July 18. The planet’s two small moons, Deimos (left) and Phobos (right), appear in the lower half of the image. (NASA / ESA / STScI Photo)

It’s no hoax: Mars is bigger and brighter in the night sky than it’s been at any time since 2003. And you can watch the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.

There are caveats, of course: The only way folks in North America can see Friday’s eclipse is to watch it online. And Mars won’t look anywhere near as big as the moon, despite what’s been claimed in a hoax that dates back to, um, 2003.

Nevertheless, this weekend’s astronomical double-header is not to be missed.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Relativity rules star near our galaxy’s black hole

A 26-year-long observational campaign provides clear evidence of the effect that general relativity has on the motion of a star known as S2 as it boomerangs around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

EagleView aerial imagery venture expands

EagleView user
EagleView Technologies uses aerial imagery capture and data analytics to provide accurate property measurements. (EagleView via YouTube)

EagleView Technologies, a privately held aerial imagery and data analytics company headquartered in Bothell, Wash., says it intends to acquire Spookfish, an Australian company that’s in the same business.

The acquisition takes the form of an all-cash offer for Spookfish’s publicly traded shares, at a premium price of 0.08 Australian dollars (6 U.S. cents) per share.

The offer values Spookfish at about $89.7 million (121.6 million Australian dollars), according to public disclosure filings. EagleView already holds 10.49 percent of Spookfish’s shares, as the result of a 2016 investment that made EagleView the Australian company’s largest single shareholder.

“The price we are paying is for the approximately 89.51 percent of the remaining shares,” David Snider, EagleView’s vice president of marketing, explained in an email to GeekWire. That translates to $80.3 million.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

SpaceShipTwo zooms through third supersonic flight

SpaceShipTwo
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, VSS Unity, fires up its hybrid rocket motor during a supersonic test flight. (MarsScientific.com and Trumbull Studios via Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic sent its SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, VSS Unity, to its highest-ever altitude today during its third powered test flight — setting the stage for a full-powered push across the boundary of outer space.

Unity was hooked beneath its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane this morning for takeoff from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. About an hour into the flight, the rocket plane was dropped into the air and fired its single hybrid rocket motor, punching upward into the sky.

Virgin Galactic reported that the craft executed a 42-second rocket burn and hit a top speed of Mach 2.47. Maximum altitude was 170,800 feet (32 miles, or 52 kilometers). That’s higher than high-altitude balloons can fly, and more than halfway to outer space.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Scientists get time on a telescope for the brain

Jerome Lecoq in lab
Jerome Lecoq, senior manager of optical physiology at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, sets up a microscope in the Allen Brain Observatory. The observatory is run by a team of nearly 100 engineers, scientists and technicians. (Allen Institute Photo)

OpenScope is open for business.

The Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science has taken a page from the playbook for the Hubble Space Telescope to create its latest channel for open-access neuroscience.

Like Hubble’s handlers, the institute is taking requests from researchers for access to its experimental platform for observing neural activity in mice.

Leaders of the project went so far as to consult with leaders in the astronomy community, particularly at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, to learn how they divvy up telescope time.

“We seek to do the same in neuroscience, where we now have a brain-based observatory,” Christof Koch, the Allen Institute’s chief scientist and president, said today in a news release.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Tanker troubles bedevil Boeing financial report

Boeing KC-46 tanker
Boeing’s KC-46 tanker uses a boom to refuel an F-16 fighter jet. (Boeing Photo)

Second-quarter financial results that show higher revenue and earnings per share would typically please investors, but not for Boeing.

Instead, Boeing’s shares declined by as much as 3 percent after the results were announced. The price recovered to close at $355.92, representing a 0.6 percent loss on a trading day that was generally positive.

Investors were “rattled” by a $426 million charge against revenue due to cost overruns in Boeing’s KC-46 tanker program for the Air Force, Leeham News’ Dan Catchpole wrote. That assessment was seconded by other analysts.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

OceanGate gets sub set for Salish Sea expedition

Cyclops 1
OceanGate’s Cyclops 1 will take on a Salish Sea expedition in September. (OceanGate Photo)

OceanGate had to put off its plan to send a new breed of submersible to the wreck of the Titanic this summer, but now it’s gearing up for an undersea adventure closer to home.

The Everett, Wash.-based venture and its associated not-for-profit outreach organization, the OceanGate Foundation, are teaming up with the SeaDoc Societyfor an expedition in September.

During a weeklong series of dives in OceanGate’s Cyclops 1 submersible, researchers will study the ecosystem of the Salish Sea, the network of U.S.-Canadian coastal waterways that include Washington state’s Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands as well as British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and the Strait of Georgia.

“Just like the space shuttle provided a unique perspective for scientists to understand space, Cyclops 1 provides our only opportunity for direct human observation of these deep-sea environments,” SeaDoc science director Joe Gaydos said in a news release.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Orbiter detects signs of hidden lake on Mars

Mars Express
The European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, shown in this artist’s conception, has been circling Mars since 2003. (Spacecraft image credit: ESA / ATG Medialab; Mars: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

Radar readings from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter point to the location of what appears to be a 12-mile-wide lake of liquid water, buried under about a mile of ice and dust in the Red Planet’s south polar region.

The find is consistent with what scientists have been saying for years about the prospects for subsurface water on Mars, and is likely to give a boost to the search for Red Planet life.

“There are all the ingredients for thinking that life can be there,” Enrico Flamini, project manager for the MARSIS radar instrument on Mars Express, said today during a Rome news conference to discuss the results. “However, MARSIS cannot say anything more.”

The analysis of the MARSIS readings were published today by the journal Science.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

SpaceX rocket puts 10 Iridium satellites in orbit

Satellite deployment
A webcam shows the deployment of an Iridium NEXT telecommunications satellites from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 upper stage, with Earth in the background. (SpaceX via YouTube)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sent 10 more Iridium NEXT telecommunications satellites into space today from a fogged-in California pad, then executed a rough-and-tumble booster landing.

Today’s mission also featured an attempt to catch the rocket’s falling nose cone, using a boat equipped with a giant net. SpaceX said the effort was unsuccessful, in part because of the windy conditions at sea.

Liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base occurred on time at 4:39 a.m. PT, amid fog so thick that the two-stage rocket’s ascent could only be seen as a bright spot in the murk.

Minutes after launch, the Falcon 9’s second stage separated to continue the push to orbit, while the first stage maneuvered itself through a supersonic descent back down to a ship stationed hundreds of miles out in the Pacific Ocean.

Get the full story on GeekWire.