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Blue Origin’s bigger HQ starts to take shape

Blue Origin construction site
The peaked roof that covers Blue Origin’s construction site looms between a traffic sign and a tree in Kent, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

KENT, Wash. — Construction workers have raised the roof on a new headquarters and research-and-development facility for Blue Origin, the private space venture founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

For now, the roof protects a bare patch of concrete laid out on a 31-acre plot here in Kent, about 16 miles south of Seattle. But don’t be fooled by the spartan setting: Even on a Saturday, workers wearing hardhats were making progress on what’s expected eventually to become a 236,000-square-foot warehouse-style building and more than 100,000 square feet of office space.

Blue Origin purchased the site, on the opposite side of the street from the company’s existing 26-acre production facility and headquarters, from a longtime farming family in 2017 for $14.1 million. The company has also been using a 120,000-square-foot warehouse just up the street.

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Boeing CEO rebuffs idea of resigning over 737 MAX

Dennis Muilenburg
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg takes questions at a news conference in Chicago. (AP via YouTube)

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stuck to his positions on the safety of the 737 MAX airplane today during a contentious annual shareholder meeting and news conference in Chicago.

Muilenburg took questions in a face-to-face public forum for the first time since last month’s grounding of the 737 MAX due to concerns raised by two catastrophically fatal crashes last October and this March.

At one point, a reporter asked Muilenburg whether he’d resign.

“My clear intent is to continue to lead on the front of safety and quality and integrity,” he replied. “That’s who we are as a company.”

Muilenburg said that he’s been talking with factory workers in Renton, Wash., and with Boeing test pilots over the past few weeks.

“To the core of our people, they care about this business and the safety of our airplanes,” he said. “That’s what I’m focused on.”

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Elon Musk shows off Starship on moon and Mars

Starship on moon
An artist’s rendering shows SpaceX’s Starship on the moon. (Elon Musk via Twitter)

New renderings of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket, shared by CEO Elon Musk on Twitter early today, show the shiny spaceship sitting on bare ground on the moon and Mars.

The artwork is similar to less shiny renderings that came out a couple of years ago when Musk laid out the architecture for the Starship launch system (which was then known as the BFR) at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia.

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Elon Musk resolves tiff with SEC over Tesla tweets

Image: Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks about the Model 3 during its unveiling in 2016. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to keep his Twitter habit in check — and feels comfortable enough with the arrangement to refer to it in a teasing tweet.

The April 26 settlement was a serious matter: Musk could have faced sanctions for contempt of court if he failed to patch up the rift with the SEC over whether he was following the terms of an earlier settlement.

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Tech spotlight shines on Digital Winglets and Wi-Fi

Tilden and Worzel
Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden and Nordstrom’s chief digital officer, Ken Worzel, share a laugh during the Technology Alliance’s 2019 State of Technology Luncheon. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

There was a heavy aerospace spin to this year’s State of Technology Luncheon,presented today by the Technology Alliance at the Seattle Sheraton.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden was the keynote speaker for what’s been billed as “the premier annual event of Washington’s innovation community.”

Three other aerospace executives had their time in the spotlight as well, and hundreds of representatives from the tech industry, academia and government were in attendance.

Check out highlights from the event on GeekWire.

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FCC approves SpaceX’s revised satellite plan

Starlink simulation
A simulation shows how a 4,425-satellite constellation could be deployed for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service. (Mark Handley / University College London)

The Federal Communications Commission today approved SpaceX’s proposed revisions in its plan to put thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit to provide global broadband connectivity, clearing the way to start launching satellites next month.

SpaceX already had authorization for 4,425 Starlink satellites that would use Ku- and Ka-band radio spectrum to beam internet data, but last November, the company asked the FCC to sign off on a plan that would put more than a third of the satellites in 550-kilometer-high (340-mile-high) orbits rather than the previously approved 1,150-kilometer (715-mile) orbits.

Eventually, SpaceX plans to add another wave of more than 7,500 satellites in even lower orbits to enhance the constellation’s coverage.

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Blue Origin’s enigmatic tweet hints at moon mission

Endurance
A photo shows British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, stuck in Antarctic pack ice. (Royal Geographic Society)

Is Jeff Bezos planning to send a lander to the moon’s south pole?

It’s possible to leap to that conclusion, based on an enigmatic tweet from Blue Origin, the Amazon CEO’s private space venture.

The tweet consists of a photograph taken during British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s famously difficult Antarctic expedition, showing the ship Endurance stuck in polar pack ice. Accompanying the picture is a date: “5.9.19.”

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SoftBank and Loon team up in global internet race

Hawk30 high-altitude drone
An artist’s conception shows HAPSMobile’s Hawk30 aircraft in flight. (HAPSMobile / SoftBank Illustration)

HAPSMobile, a joint venture created by Japan’s SoftBank Corp. and California-based AeroVironment, is jumping into the race to provide global broadband access from above, alongside SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb and Telesat.

Unlike those four companies, HAPSMobile plans to use high-flying, solar-powered planes rather than satellites to transmit signals wirelessly over a wide swath of the planet’s surface. In that respect, the concept has more in common with the aerial broadband concept that Facebook was pursuing until last year.

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Tech experts weigh in on the future of AI

AI panel
SalesPal CEO Ashvin Naik, Google Cloud’s Chanchal Chatterjee, Audioburst’s Rachel Batish and T-Mobile’s Chip Reno discuss the future of artificial intelligence at the Global AI Conference in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

Artificial intelligence can rev up recommendation engines and make self-driving cars safer. It can even beat humans at their own games. But what else will it do?

At today’s session of the Global Artificial Intelligence Conference, a panel of techies took a look at the state of AI applications — and glimpsed into their crystal balls to speculate about the future of artificial intelligence.

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OceanGate sets titanic record with 4-person dive

OceanGate Titan crew
The crew of OceanGate’s Titan submersible gets set for a dive of Titanic proportions. From left are Karl Stanley, Petros Mathioudakis, pilot Stockton Rush and Joel Perry. (OceanGate Photo)

OceanGate set a deep-diving record last week when a crew of four rode inside the Everett, Wash.-based company’s Titan submersible to the Titanic-level depth of 3,760 meters (12,336 feet) in the Bahamas.

The April 17 voyage, which served as a test run for this summer’s trips to the wreck of the Titanic, marked the first time a non-military submersible carried more than three people to that depth, OceanGate said.

“This dive was another important step toward deep-sea exploration to more people and places,” OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who served as Titan’s chief pilot for the trip, said today in a news release. “We are developing technologies and designing submersibles and infrastructure that is making underwater exploration more accessible than ever before.”

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