Telescope project honors astronomer and billionaire

LSST

Artwork shows the Vera Rubin Observatory’s Simonyi Survey Telescope scanning the sky. (LSST Illustration)

The next great ground-based astronomical observatory, previously known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, has been named after the late astronomer Vera Rubin — with a nod to Seattle software billionaire Charles Simonyi as well.

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Dynetics and SNC team up for lunar lander

Lunar lander

An artist’s conception shows Dynetics’ design for a lunar lander. (Dynetics Illustration)

Alabama-based Dynetics says it’s leading a team of companies proposing a crew-carrying lunar lander for NASA, in competition with other companies including Blue Origin and Boeing.

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Reality-TV dating game offers moon trip as prize

Yusaku Maezawa

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa tweeted a casting call for a woman to go on a round-the-moon trip with him, for a streaming-video documentary. (Yusaku Maezawa via Twitter)

What do you get when you cross “The Bachelor” with “Survivor,” and then throw in a round-the-moon trip? You might get the reality-TV project that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has signed on for.

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Boeing’s new CEO puts safety first on his first day

David Calhoun

Boeing’s new CEO, David Calhoun, gives a talk at Virginia Tech, his alma mater, in 2018. (Virginia Tech Photo)

Veteran aerospace executive David Calhoun took the reins as Boeing’s CEO today, telling employees in a company-wide email that his top priorities are to get the 737 MAX flying again and restore confidence in the troubled aerospace giant.

It was just the kind of email you’d expect Calhoun to send — and that’s the problem.

In the midst of what’s likely to be a yearlong grounding of Boeing’s most widely sold airplane, questions about other airplane programs ranging from the 777X to the yet-to-be-announced 797, and a setback to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner space taxi project for NASA, bolder action will be needed.

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Iran admits shooting down 737 jet by mistake

Iran crash site

Emergency teams survey the wreckage left by the crash of a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 passenger jet in Iran. (IRNA Photo)

Days after claiming that the catastrophic crash of a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 plane was caused by a mechanical failure, the Iranian military acknowledged that it erroneously downed the jet with a missile strike, killing all 176 people aboard.

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NASA goes public with astronaut graduation party

Graduating astronauts

The newest astronauts in the corps for NASA (and the Canadian Space Agency) wave from the stage during their graduation ceremony at Johnson Space Center. From left: Kayla Barron, Zena Cardman, Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Bob Hines, Warren Hoburg, Jonny Kim, Joshua Kutryk (CSA), Jasmin Moghbeli. Loral O’Hara, Jessica Watkins, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons (CSA) and Frank Rubio. (NASA Photo / James Blair)

Over the course of six decades, NASA has celebrated the selection of its astronauts in groups ranging from the Mercury 7 of 1959 to the Turtles of 2017 — but there’s never been much of a public celebration for their graduation from astronaut training. Until today.

The 11 astronaut candidates selected in 2017, plus two Canadian astronauts who joined them in training, received a grand send-off at Johnson Space Center in Texas from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and other VIPs to mark their eligibility for assignment to future space missions.

NASA raised the graduation ceremony’s public profile in part to build up enthusiasm for this year’s expected debut of U.S.-built commercial space taxis, as well as the drive to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 — a campaign known as Artemis.

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OceanGate raises $18M to boost submersible fleet

Maintenance check for Cyclops 1 sub

OceanGate’s team puts the Cyclops 1 submersible through its annual maintenance check at the company’s shop in Everett, Wash. (OceanGate Photo)

OceanGate says it has raised $18.1 million in new investment, laying the financial groundwork for an expansion of its fleet of deep-sea submersibles and setting the stage for dives to the 108-year-old Titanic shipwreck in 2021.

The funding round was reported in documents filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. OceanGate CEO and founder Stockton Rush said the figure reported in the documents, $19.3 million, would be amended to reflect the actual size of the round.

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