Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith has told Axios that just a few test flights remain before the space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos starts putting people on its New Shepard suborbital spaceship.
Following through on 2015’s LightSail 1 mission, this latest flight is designed to demonstrate not only that the 18.4-foot-wide, 4.5-micron thick reflective Mylar sails can be successfully deployed from a shoebox-sized spacecraft, but also that they can be used to maneuver in orbit.
LightSail 2 is pushed by the pressure of sunlight, much as a seagoing sailboat is pushed by the pressure of the wind. Theoretically, bigger and more capable sails could be used to drive a spacecraft around the solar system, or even outward to other stars.
The $7 million project is largely funded by Planetary Society members and private donors. LightSail 2 was packed aboard the Falcon Heavy as part of a larger payload called Prox-1 and delivered to orbit on June 25. Since then, the spacecraft has been going through checkouts and snapping pictures of the planet below.
Since May, drone operators have been required to get LAANC clearance for flights they wanted to conduct within controlled airspace, but the system wasn’t available for recreational fliers. You could still fly your drone for fun in uncontrolled airspace, but those spots tend to be hard to find in areas anywhere close to an airport.
As a stopgap, the FAA set aside a limited number of fixed sites in controlled airspace where such flights would be OK, including four sites in Washington state. All of those sites cater to model-airplane hobbyists, and may require a membership fee.
Now recreational fliers have a wider range of places to choose from, as long as they use the LAANC system. You still have to comply with all the rules for drone flights, including keeping your craft below 400 feet and within your line of sight. There are also local regulations to consider: For example, drone flights are forbidden in Seattle city parks.
The startup incubator at Seattle’s Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence is getting so busy that it has to move into new digs across the street.
Starting Aug. 12, the incubator will occupy a 7,250-square-foot “long-term home” at 2101 N. 34th St., near Gasworks Park and AI2’s main offices on Northlake Way, the institute said in its email newsletter for friends and families.
“We anticipate having 50+ workstations for our EIRs and CTOs [entrepreneurs in residence and chief technology officers] — complemented by numerous team pods, phone booths, conference rooms, a classroom, a lounge and our own large outdoor deck overlooking Lake Union,” AI2 said.
Jacob Colker, a managing director for AI2’s incubator, told GeekWire in a follow-up email that the new space will be nearly four times bigger than the current 1,850-square-foot office space (above a dive shop that’s next door to AI2’s headquarters).
The name may have changed, but the result is the same: For the fourth time in a row, a German team registered the top speed in SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Hyperloop pod race for college-level engineers.
The TUM Hyperloop team from the Technical University of Munich — formerly known as WARR Hyperloop — sent its sleek pod racer through a specially built, mile-long test track next to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., at a top speed of 288 mph (463 kilometers per hour).
There was some drama at the end of the run, when the pod experienced what Teslarati photographer Tom Cross called a “rapid unplanned disassembly” — but the judges nevertheless gave the nod to the German team.
As WARR Hyperloop, the same team had the top speed during the threepreviousrunnings of the Hyperloop competition.
Fifty years after Apollo 11’s moonwalkers took one giant leap for humanity, luminaries including President Donald Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — the world’s richest individual — paid tribute to the achievement and looked forward to the future of spaceflight.
Today’s observances were about more than memories: There were also fresh questions about where that future might lead — plus a Russian rocket launch that resonated with references to the U.S.-Soviet space race of the 1960s.
The marquee observance on today’s anniversary of the landing on July 20, 1969, came at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where Vice President Mike Pence invoked the legacy of the Apollo program and hailed NASA’s initiative to send astronauts to the moon once again by 2024.
The objective of the campaign is to raise global awareness about the Overview Effect — a feeling of spiritual connectedness that has often been experienced by astronauts looking down at the planet below.
Space for Humanity says as many as 10,000 candidates could be selected for the project, with the expectation that those who travel to the high frontier will serve as ambassadors for the Overview Effect once they come back down to Earth.
RENTON, Wash. — Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture says it has test-fired its BE-7 rocket engine for the total six-minute duration it would need for a landing on the moon.
Patrick Zeitouni, Blue Origin’s head of advanced development programs, said the milestone for cumulative firing time was reached during a test conducted just a few days ago at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama — part of a series of tests that began a month ago.
“We’re very excited,” Zeitouni said here at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace conference. “That means we’re getting a whole lot closer to getting that engine fielded,” he said. “And as you guys know, propulsion, rocket engines are extremely important. They’re the long pole in the tent when you’re trying to develop a new system and bring it online.”
A single hydrogen-fueled BE-7 engine would power Blue Origin’s Blue Moon landerfor payload deliveries to the lunar surface, packing up to 10,000 pounds of thrust.
Two space tech companies that are headquartered in the Seattle area, Olis Robotics and Tethers Unlimited, are joining forces to create a new kind of remote-controlled robotic system that could be used on the International Space Station or other off-Earth outposts.
The companies say they’ve signed an agreement to explore further development of the system, in an arrangement that follows up on past collaborations.
Seattle-based Olis Robotics’ software platform allows robots to perform some tasks autonomously and reduce operator workload on other tasks. The platform makes it possible for robots in remote locations to execute their prescribed tasks safely even if their links with remote operators are subject to time delays or data dropouts.
That’s just the kind of resiliency that’s required for space operations, Olis CEO Don Pickering said. “Our variable autonomy software platform allows operators anywhere in the world to command new levels of precision, safety and efficiency in remotely operating robotics in space,” he explained in a news release.