October 24, 2016

Blue Origin Buys Warehouse Facility in Washington (Source: Puget Sound Business Journal)
Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' outer space company, has paid just over $12.4 million for a big warehouse in Kent. Built in 1974, the 120,000-square foot building is across the street from the company's headquarters. Blue Origin officials declined Thursday to comment on why the company bought the building. Blue Origin is also expanding in Florida, where it recently filed a permit to operate two more orbital launch sites at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (10/20)

Elon Musk Provides More Details About How First Mars Colonists Will Live (Source: Ars Technica)
When he delivered his Mars colonization presentation at the International Astronautical Conference in September, SpaceX founder Elon Musk spent a lot of time discussing the Interplanetary Transport System rocket and spacecraft, But he offered precious little information about what the firsts visitors' life on Mars would look like.

During an AMA on Reddit Sunday afternoon, he filled in a few of those details. After a user named El-Psy-Kangaroo asked about initial missions to Mars, Musk replied that the first "Red Dragon" spacecraft sent to Mars, possibly in 2018 but more likely 2020, would prove the company could land propulsively on the red planet, and then experiment with chemical reactions to find the best way to derive methane and water from the Martian atmosphere. The resulting propellant would, eventually, be used for return missions from Mars. Click here. (10/24)

Musk Offers More Details About Mars Mission Architecture (Source: Space News)
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk provided some additional details Oct. 23 about a Mars transportation system he unveiled last month, including plans to test in the near future one of its key technologies. Musk answered more than a dozen questions posed by Reddit users about the Interplanetary Transport System.

That system consists of a large reusable booster that will use 42 of the company’s Raptor engines currently under development, along with a reusable spacecraft designed to carry 100 people to the surface of Mars and return to Earth. Development of the Raptor engine, which completed its first test firing shortly before his speech, was one of the key technologies for the system that he announced.

Another was a large propellant tank made of carbon composite materials, far larger than any tank of those materials produced to date. “This is really the hardest part of the spaceship. The other pieces we have a pretty good handle on, but this is the trickiest one, so we wanted to tackle it first,” he said in that speech, showing a full-sized tank the company had just completed. Click here. (10/23)

Astronaut Mark Kelly: The Anti-Trump (Source: Politico)
Mark Kelly is not averse to risk – his go-to Gulf War maneuver for dodging Iraqi SAMs was to flip, cockpit-down, in his A-6 Intruder and let the missile zip on past. Yet even this former Space Shuttle pilot feels an icy waft of danger when he approaches the glowering gun rights advocates who show up to protest his firearms control speeches.

After all, his wife, former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, was shot through her head five-plus years ago for chatting up her constituents outside a Tucson Safeway, and the couple has been the subject of numerous death threats over the years for their activism. But Kelly, a former astronaut and military pilot, is also a Jersey guy, and he believes deeply in the idea of talking it out with people who want him to shut the hell up, or worse. Click here. (10/24)

The Inside Story Behind Jeff Bezos’ Alien Cameo on ‘Star Trek Beyond’ (Source: GeekWire)
When “Star Trek Beyond” comes out on DVD next week, you can freeze-frame on the big-name cameo appearance that zipped past so quickly in the theaters: Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ moment as an alien Starfleet official. If you missed recognizing him, don’t feel bad. Even Bezos acknowledges that it was a quickie, and the fact that he’s loaded up with face prosthetics doesn’t help.

The “Star Trek” cameo was Bezos’ idea, all the way. He’s been a fan since childhood, and has told interviewers that Amazon’s Alexa AI assistant was inspired by the patient, know-it-all computer on the Starship Enterprise. A movie-prop Enterprise holds a prominent place at the Kent headquarters for Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture. Click here. (10/24)

No, the Universe Is Not Expanding at an Accelerated Rate, Physicists Say (Source: Futurism)
A new study out of Oxford University is questioning the accelerated expansion theory that says dark energy is driving the expansion of the universe. According to the study, accelerated expansion theories are based on an unobserved model, opening up the possibilities to new theories on our expanding universe. (10/23)

The Truth is Out There: Astronomers Capture 234 Signals From Space (Source: Russia Today)
Astronomers have recorded mysterious signals from 234 stars that they believe could indicate the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence - a notion that’s sure to excite alien truthers and beyond. Astronomers Ermanno Borra and Eric Trottier from Laval University in Canada analyzed 2.5 million stars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) project.

In their resulting study published in Solar and Stellar Astrophysics journal, the pair conclude that the peculiar signals they recorded could be from aliens trying to make contact with Earth. The researchers came to this potential explanation based on a previous study by Borra which predicted the shape of an extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) signal. The 234 signals identified match this shape exactly. The fact that only a small fraction - 234 out of 2.5 million - of the stars in our sun’s spectrum emitted this signal also matches the previous ETI hypothesis. (10/23)

Unmanned Federation Spacecraft to be Launched from Vostochny Spaceport in 2021 (Source: Tass)
The Federation spacecraft will be launched for the first time from the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East in 2021 in an unmanned version with Android equipment onboard, head of Roscosmos state space corporation Igor Komarov said on Monday. "The first launch of an unmanned version is planned in 2021," Komarov told a meeting devoted to the construction of the Vostochny spaceport.

According to the Roscosmos vice-president, 238 bln rubles ($3.8 bln) will be earmarked for the construction of the 2nd stage of the Vostochny spaceport. "The sum of 238 bln rubles includes 137 bln (rubles) from Roscosmos state corporation, 95 bln (rubles) from Spetsstroy (Federal Agency for Special Construction - TASS) and 6 bln (rubles) from FMBA," Alexander Ivanov said. (10/24)

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