Categories
GeekWire

Xcraft probe lands in Xtronaut 2.0 board game

Xtronaut 2.0 playing cards
Xplore’s Xcraft space probe is featured on the Xtronaut 2.0 card at far right. (Xplore / Xtronaut Illustration)

Seattle-based Xplore isn’t due to launch its first Xcraft space probe until late 2021, but it’s already landed in an educational board game.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Hey, kids: Send a space postcard to Blue Origin

Club for the Future
Blue Origin employees who volunteer for the Club for the Future sort postcards. (Blue Origin Photo)

Are you looking for educational activities to occupy the kids while you’re cooped up due to the coronavirus outbreak? One option is to make space postcards for the Club for the Future, an educational campaign created by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Astronaut and kids celebrate socks in space

A student from Seattle’s Rainier Prep listens to NASA astronaut Jessica Meir answer a question posed via an Earth-to-space video link. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

Astronauts on the International Space Station get thick calluses on the tops of their feet instead of the bottoms, but today students tried out ways to make the final frontier a little friendlier for feet.

Not only did they get a chance to talk with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir about socks in space, over a video link between the space station and Seattle’s Museum of Flight, but they also ran their own experiment as part of an Astro Socks Challenge created by NASA and Microsoft Education.

The challenge, and the Earth-to-space chat, made a teachable moment out of a fact of life for long-duration spacefliers.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Pick your favorite name for NASA’s Mars rover

2020 Mars rover
More than 28,000 students submitted names for the rover that NASA plans to launch toward Mars in July. (NASA / JPL-Caltech Illustration)

NASA and an army of nearly 4,700 volunteer judges have selected nine potential names for a rover that’s due to be launched to Mars in July, and you have just six days to cast an online vote for your favorite name.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Blue Origin puts postcards and art on a space ride

Blue Origin New Shepard launch
A drone’s-eye view shows Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship blasting off from its West Texas launch pad. (Blue Origin via YouTube)

Thousands of postcards, an array of science experiments and a couple of art projects took a suborbital ride to space today on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship, during a test flight aimed at blazing a trail for space travelers.

Today’s uncrewed flight was the 12th test mission for the New Shepard program, which is just one of the space initiatives being pursued by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ space venture. It’s been seven months since the previous test flight in May.

Liftoff from Blue Origin’s suborbital launch facility in West Texas came one day after weather concerns forced a postponement. Even today, the launch team had to wait for heavy fog to clear before sending up the 60-foot-tall reusable spacecraft at 11:53 a.m. CT (9:53 a.m. PT).

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Jeff Bezos touts space postcard campaign for kids

Jeff Bezos and kids
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin, checks out some of the postcards submitted for spaceflight as part of his nonprofit Club for the Future campaign. (Jeff Bezos via Twitter)

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a mockup of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander in May, he also unveiled a more down-to-earth enterprise: the Club for the Future, a nonprofit effort aimed at promoting science education through fun space-oriented projects.

Its first project? A campaign to solicit postcards that would be flown into space aboard Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard rocket, and then sent back to the kids who submitted them.

Today in a tweet, Bezos says thousands have responded so far.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Global Learning XPRIZE gives $10M to tech teams

Global Learning XPRIZE ceremony
Tech billionaire Elon Musk, at center, awards an XPRIZE trophy to KitKit School creators Sooinn Lee and Gunho Lee, with XPRIZE executives Peter Diamandis, Anousheh Ansari and Emily Church in on the picture. (XPRIZE via YouTube)

Two educational companies shared the $10 million top award in the Global Learning XPRIZE, a contest backed by Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla.

Musk provided a total of $15 million in prize money for the project, which is designed to boost open-source educational software. The $10 million grand prize was shared by KitKit School and Onebillion.

The two teams and three other finalists each received $1 million in 2017 to develop their projects.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Moonshot funding gets tangled up in politics

NASA town hall
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, at left, discusses the plan to send astronauts to the moon by 2024 as three of his associate administrators — William Gerstenmaier, Jim Reuter and Thomas Zurbuchen — look on during a town hall at NASA headquarters. (NASA Photo / Joel Kowsky)

Will NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 fly with Congress? The Artemis program’s implications are still sinking in on Capitol Hill, but there’s already a political problem having to do with where the money’s supposed to come from.

Trump administration officials confirmed that the $1.6 billion being sought as a “down payment” for accelerating the push to the moon would be taken from a roughly $8 billion reserve account for the popular Pell Grant program, which funds education for millions of low-income students annually.

Due to the economy’s rebound from the 2008-2009 Great Recession, the number of Pell Grant recipients has been declining in recent years, leading to a buildup in reserves. Because of that, taking money from the reserves would not affect current recipients, who will be receiving up to $6,195 for the 2019-2020 academic year..

“This does not cut any spending for Pell Grant programs as the budget continues to ensure all students will get their full Pell Grant and keeps the program on sound fiscal footing,” Office of Management and Budget spokesman Wesley Denton told The Associated Press in a statement.

However, that glosses over the fact that the carryover reserve is meant to buoy the Pell Grant program through hard times, and avoid the multibillion-dollar shortfalls that were experienced during the last recession.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Minecraft helps revive lost monuments virtually

Mosul mosque
Islamic State forces blew up the Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, as they withdrew from the city in 2017. (Photo Courtesy of History Blocks)

Can a video game reclaim centuries’ worth of lost cultural heritage in the Middle East? Microsoft’s Minecraft Education Edition is being used to do just that, in league with UNESCO and schools around the world.

History Blocks takes advantage of the educationally oriented Minecraft platform to build virtual versions of ancient monuments — starting with sites that were destroyed by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, and by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The project was conceived and developed by Agencia Africa in Brazil, and put to its first test this February at Escola Bosque, a private school in São Paulo.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Kids get to re-enact Apollo 11 moon landing

Moon landing re-enactment
A Lego Mindstorms robot, with a plastic astronaut strapped to the front, approaches a toy lunar lander during an Apollo moon mission re-enactment. (University of Washington Photo / Dennis Wise)

Fifty years after the first Apollo moon landing, students from across the country will get a chance to re-enact the feat with drones and robots, thanks to an educational challenge orchestrated by NASA and the University of Washington’s Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline.

The event — known as the Apollo 50 Next Giant Leap Student Challenge, or ANGLeS Challenge for short — got its official kickoff today at Kent-Meridian High School in Kent, Wash.

“This is a truly interdisciplinary challenge, involving computer programming, robotics, remote sensing and design,” Robert Winglee, who’s the director of the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline as well as a UW professor of Earth and space sciences, said in a news release.

Get the full story on GeekWire.