March 20, 2015

Orbital Insight Raised $8.7 Million To Use AI To Analyze Satellite Data (Source: Forbes)
Orbital Insight, a company that provides data analytics of satellite imagery, announced this week that it had closed an $8.7 million Series A round led by Sequoia. Bloomberg Beta, Google Ventures, and Lux Capital also participated in the round. Sequoia partner Bill Coughran of Sequoia will be joining the board of Orbital Insight as part of the deal.

Orbital Insight was founded by Dr. James Crawford, an artificial intelligence researcher and entrepreneur who has experience building intelligent systems for NASA and other organizations. He was also previously the Engineering Director of Google Books, an experience that helped lead to the idea for his new company. (3/20)

NASA Went to Space and All Humans Got Was This Acne Treatment (Source: The Atlantic)
Earlier this week, researchers from Imperial College London announced that they had developed a way to make dialysis more effective for patients with kidney failure—inspired by, of all things, outer space. Specifically, the researchers redesigned the Arterio-Venous Fistulae (AFV), a doctor-created connection between a patient’s vein and artery that allows the blood to filter.

These pathways can easily become clogged, a phenomenon the researchers attribute to the atypical blood-flow patterns they create. Using a computer program originally created for the aerospace industry, they were able to model blood flow across several different iterations of the AFV. This is far from the first time space technology has been adapted for earthly healthcare concerns. Click here. (3/20)

Space Coast Man in No Rush for Mars Trip (Source: Florida Today)
A Merritt Island resident will continue his pursuit of a potential one-way trip to Mars despite news this week that any such voyage would be delayed at least two years, to more than a decade from now. George Hatcher, a 35-year-old NASA engineer at Kennedy Space Center and a father of two, is one of 100 finalists competing to be selected as an astronaut for the pioneering missions by Dutch nonprofit Mars One.

But Mars One this week acknowledged it had been unable to secure funding in time to launch a first unmanned mission in 2018, a delay that pushes back any human launch until at least 2026. The slip fueled already massive skepticism about whether Mars One can come close to raising the $6 billion it estimates will be necessary to launch a crew to Mars.

But for Hatcher, who is also a graduate student at the University of Central Florida, there is a pretty big upside to the delay. “My general reaction is relief,” he said. “If I am selected, I get two more years with my family.” (3/20)

U.S. Bases are Falling Apart for Lack of Maintenance Funds (Source: Military Times)
U.S. military bases are deteriorating amid budget constraints, installation officials recently told the Senate Appropriations Committee. "We understand this backlog must eventually be addressed, but we think we can't afford to do so at this time," said Erin Kern, director of the Navy's Shore Readiness Division. (3/18)

Is Titan Submarine the Most Daring Space Mission Yet? (Source: BBC)
Dropping a robotic lander on to the surface of a comet was arguably one of the most audacious space achievements of recent times. But one concept mission being studied by NASA could top even that. Scientists are proposing to send a robot submarine to the oily seas of Saturn's moon Titan. The seas are filled not with water, but with hydrocarbons like methane and ethane. Click here. (3/18)

Orlando Firm Supports Citizen Science in Space (Source: TSG)
Orlando-based Terran Sciences Group (TSG) will support the nonprofit US Rocket Academy’s Citizens in Space Project, offering the opportunity to fly qualified payloads on private spaceflights at no cost to “Citizen Science” groups, which usually consist of K-12, University, or Hacker/Maker teams. Support from TSG comes in the form of a Microgravity Experiment Developer’s Kit, which is a collection of flight-qualified modular components that can be 3-D printed, assembled, and then easily integrated with the Citizens in Space prefabricated payload containers.

Microcontrollers, specimen vials, cameras, and other useful sensors are among the modules in the pre-release library. The primary aim of TSG’s kit is to enable greater accessibility to programs like Citizens in Space without the need for backing from aerospace engineering professionals. For cases where groups don’t have access to or are familiar with 3D printers or sensor/controller hardware, TSG will offer small-scale fabrication and assembly services at cost.

Dr. Justin Karl of TSG will be partnering directly with the management of Citizens in Space to provide official documentation that will serve as a guideline through design, qualification and integration. Official launch of this effort will be in conjunction with an announcement and talk at the New Space Researchers Workshop (NSRW) in Houston this spring, including a workshop organized by Astronauts4Hire on May 4. (3/19)

Florida Lawmakers Seek Cap for State Money to Attract Business (Source: Naples News)
The Senate and House agreed to cap the amount of money that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration can use each year for economic development projects, state Sen. Jack Latvala said. Legislation authored by Latvala, R-Clearwater, puts a $50 million annual cap on a host of programs, which are collectively termed the state’s “economic tool kit.” The programs use cash and tax incentives to lure companies to Florida, and entice existing ones to expand. The House plan calls for a $60 million cap. (3/19)

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