October 5, 2016

Congress Members Pen Letter to FAA in Support of SpaceX Investigation (Source: Tech Crunch)
Last week, a congressional delegation with ties to SpaceX competitor ULA issued an open letter to the FAA, criticizing their admittedly fully legal self-directed investigation into the cause of the early September Falcon 9 rocket explosion. Now, a group of 24 bipartisan members of congress have issued a retort.

This letter maintains that SpaceX has conducted the investigation in keeping with the established practice, which is true, and urges the FAA to ignore entreaties it claims aim to “politicize” the investigation, and implies that the purpose of doing so would be to hamper SpaceX’s ability to operate competitively with other, more established players. (10/4)

Pre-Election Jitters For U.S. Space Exploration Advocates (Source: Aviation Week)
The looming U.S. presidential election and the possibility of changes in Congress have many in the nation’s civil space community cringing at the thought of a repeat of President Obama’s 2010 decision to cancel the George W. Bush administration’s Constellation program.

The current administration’s plans for astronauts to rendezvous with an asteroid and prepare for a visit to the Mars environs in the 2030s are confronting many of the same cost and scheduling issues faced by Constellation, according to panels of independent experts ranging from the National Research Council to the NASA Advisory Council.

Add to those Washington’s ever-mounting political discord and the rise of private sector rock stars like SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who last week unveiled a vision for colonizing Mars with massive reusable rockets carrying up to 200 prospective settlers in relative luxury to the red planet. How can NASA—struggling to finance a plan that critics say lacks specific destinations and dates, yet well aware of the technical challenges and human physical and psychological toll of spaceflight—secure its future? Click here. (10/4)

Lawmakers Say SpaceX Rocket Explosion Investigation Should Not Be ‘Politicized’ (Source: Washington Post)
Less than a week after a group of 10 House Republicans urged the federal government to take over the investigation into the recent explosion of a SpaceX rocket, another group of lawmakers on Tuesday expressed support for the way the company was handling the review. In a letter to the heads of the Air Force, NASA and the FAA, 24 members of Congress said that it was proper that SpaceX was leading the investigation.

“Accidents are unfortunate events, and accident investigations should not be politicized,” wrote the bipartisan group led by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX). “We encourage you to reject calls for your organizations to abandon established, well-considered and long-standing procedures.” (10/4)

Iran Interested in Connecting with NASA (Source: MEHR)
The head of Iran’s space agency says the country wishes to start cooperation with NASA since it is an international body and not just an American one. Mohsen Bahrami made the announcement on Tuesday, saying “the level of our space cooperation has increased following the signing of Iran’s nuclear deal, and we have inked MoUs with a number of space agencies in other countries.”

“We are also hoping to hold talks with NASA and start cooperation with the space administration,” he added. Bahrami also maintained that international cooperation on the construction of Iran’s remote sensing satellite is in its final stage, adding “in order to provide for our national communications satellite, we have held talks with Intelsat, Eutelsat and Asiasat, as well as a number of international operators from France, Russia, China, Korea, Japan and Italy.” (10/4)

Meet the Black Women Who Broke Ground in NASA Space Race (Source: CBC)
When you think of computers you probably don't think of people, and you probably don't think of a group of women —many of them black women — solving math equations for what we now call NASA. But that's how it was half a century ago. "When we think about the first black Americans in the space program we're talking about women," Shetterly tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti. "I think that the everyday courage of these women definitely created opportunities for women of all colours and for African-American men." (10/4)

SpaceX and its Biggest Competitors are Waging a Space Battle on Capitol Hill (Source: Business Insider)
Lawmakers began sparring over issues central to each company's interests in the past week — just days after SpaceX founder Elon Musk debuted his bold vision for colonizing Mars. On Sep. 27, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who represents the district where ULA is headquartered, penned a four-page congressional letter with nine other House Republicans and sent it to the FAA, NASA, and the US Air Force.

The oversight letter — which has no legal authority, but government organizations almost always respond to — calls on the federal agencies to take control of SpaceX's internally led investigations and specifically references the company's most recent rocket failures. Beyond any convictions about how the commercial space industry should work, and what constitutes appropriate use of taxpayer dollars, lobbyist spending seems to be driving the latest feud. In 2015 alone, SpaceX dropped almost $1.8 million on its lobbying efforts — up from about $569,000 just 5 years earlier.

But the company could be vastly outspent by its competitors. ULA dropped nearly $1.5 million in 2015, up from $120,000 in 2010. Meanwhile, Boeing poured nearly $21.9 million in 2015 into defense and aerospace lobbying (up from $17.9 million in 2010) and Lockheed Martin spent almost $13.8 million in 2015 (up from $12.7 million in 2010). It's unclear if and how much the joint owners of ULA spend to back its interests, but it stands to reason some of it could be used to support ULA. (10/4)

Hurricane Matthew Poses a Significant Threat to Kennedy Space Center (Source: Ars Technica)
Early on Tuesday, Hurricane Matthew ravaged Haiti and eastern parts of Cuba with winds of up to 145mph, and it appeared likely to do the same to the Bahamas on Wednesday. Beyond that point, considerable uncertainty remains in the storm's track as it moves northwest toward Florida. But arguably the world's best weather model, the European forecast system, now suggests a potential landfall along, or a significant grazing of, Florida's space coast. (10/3)

Orbital ATK Plans Antares Return-To-Flight on Oct. 13 (Source: Space News)
NASA and Orbital ATK have set Oct. 13 as the launch date for the first Antares flight in nearly two years. The launch, from Wallops Island, Virginia, will send a Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. The launch was previously planned for a window between Oct. 9 and 13; the new window runs though Oct. 19. The launch will be the first of an upgraded version of the Antares with new first stage engines, and the first since an October 2014 launch failure. (10/4)

Lunar Science Stars in Inspiring Music Video (Source: Space.com)
Musicians Javier Colon and Matt Cusson have released an earnest new music video highlighting NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the inspiration derived from studying the moon. The video, "The Moon and More," was created in collaboration with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. It follows a young boy on his journey to becoming a NASA engineer and working on the LRO mission. Click here. (10/4)

Saturn's Moon Dione Harbors a Subsurface Ocean (Source: Phys.Org)
A subsurface ocean lies deep within Saturn's moon Dione, according to new data from the Cassini mission to Saturn. Two other moons of Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, are already known to hide global oceans beneath their icy crusts, but a new study suggests an ocean exists on Dione as well.

In this study, researchers of the Royal Observatory of Belgium show gravity data from recent Cassini flybys can be explained if Dione's crust floats on an ocean located 100 kilometers below the surface. The ocean is several tens of kilometers deep and surrounds a large rocky core. Seen from within, Dione is very similar to its smaller but more famous neighbor Enceladus, whose south polar region spurts huge jets of water vapor into space. (10/5)

CASIS Appoints Randy Giles as Chief Scientist (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) announced today that Dr. Randy Giles, a world-renowned scientist, thought leader in optical technologies, and elected member of the US National Academy of Engineering, has joined CASIS as chief scientist.

In this role, Dr. Giles will lead the scientific research and technology development for the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. Dr. Giles has spent the past three decades at Bell Labs, where he has led global research and development teams with technologies ranging from medical diagnostics to quantum physics, microelectromechanical systems, and advanced optical networking. (10/4)

In Canada’s North, a Single Satellite Outage Means Losing Basic Services (Source: Motherboard)
Around 5 PM Eastern time on Sunday, a satellite providing internet services to most of North America went offline due to a technical glitch, the CBC reported. If you live the vast majority of communities in southern Canada or the US, you probably didn’t notice. But in some parts of Canada’s sparsely populated North, losing just one satellite means giving up basic services like access to ATMs or a flight out of town.

In other words, life went offline before the satellite’s function was restored on Monday afternoon. The satellite in question was Ottawa-based Telesat’s Anik F2, which first went online in 2004 and has a coverage area spanning Canada’s northernmost tip down to the southern US. (10/3)

Goodbye World: We’ve Passed the Carbon Tipping Point For Good (Source: Motherboard)
It’s a banner week for the end of the world, because we’ve officially pushed atmospheric carbon levels past their dreaded 400 parts per million. Permanently.

According to a blog post last Friday from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, “it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year—or ever again for the indefinite future.” Their findings are based on weekly observations of carbon dioxide at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory, where climate scientists have been measuring CO2 levels since 1958. (9/28)

'Alien Megastructure' Star Keeps Getting Stranger (Source: Space.com)
The more scientists learn about "Tabby's Star," the more mysterious the bizarre object gets. Newly analyzed observations by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope show that the star KIC 8462852 — whose occasional, dramatic dips in brightness still have astronomers scratching their heads — has also dimmed overall during the last few years.

"The steady brightness change in KIC 8462852 is pretty astounding," study lead authorBen Montet, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said in a statement. "Our highly accurate measurements over four years demonstrate that the star really is getting fainter with time," Montet added. "It is unprecedented for this type of star to slowly fade for years, and we don't see anything else like it in the Kepler data." (10/5)

Report Recommends Less Frequent Reviews of Ongoing NASA Science Missions (Source: Space News)
As a series of NASA planetary spacecraft begin extended missions, a recent National Academies report recommends that the agency work with Congress to stretch out the review process that determines whether science missions should continue. Among the missions that formally started two-year extended missions Oct. 1 was NASA’s flagship Mars mission, the rover Curiosity.

Most NASA science spacecraft are in some form of an extended mission. A report on the senior review process, released last month by the National Academies, noted that about three-quarters of the 60 active science missions are in some form of extended mission. Those extended missions, though, account for only 12 percent of the overall budget of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), far less than those under development.

The study largely supported NASA’s implementation of the senior review process, where missions submit proposals on what they plan to do over the next two years, and how much funding they require to do so. “Overall, the committee was impressed with the way NASA SMD conducts its mission-extension review process and how much the four SMD divisions communicate amongst themselves regarding the reviews,” the report concluded. (10/4)

Posey Declares War on Red Tape, Even in Space (Source: Washington Examiner)
The last big space bill we passed, which was the majority leader's legislation, incorporated a couple of our bills. One of them said NASA and the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration need to work together to reduce redundancies and red tape that's counterproductive.

We tried to help privatization and we had what we called the asteroid mining bill in there. We have companies in our country that want to mine asteroids... They just want assurance that if they go to the potentially multibillion-dollar cost of extracting these minerals and bringing them home, that the government won't claim them. So we passed probably the largest property rights bill in history, and the first one for outer space, with that idea in mind. Click here. (10/3)

Spaceport America's Open House Was a Tribute to Empty Space (Source: Popular Science)
Spaceport America held an open house last Saturday, and guests who registered a car with at least two people in it were allowed to visit. The location is essentially an airport for the super-elite, the terrestrial stopping point between private jets and, eventually, short hops beyond the atmosphere and then back down to earth. For the people who came to explore on foot, it is three hours of interstate, then state highway, then gravel roads.

Without Virgin Galactic launches, the Spaceport is struggling to justify its cost while trying to answer another question about empty space: what does one do while waiting to go to space? The open house is one such answer: the hangar is a destination by name alone, and a few hundred people, myself and my parents included, came to see it just for that.

But unless someone arrived already convinced of the merits of a spaceport half an hour from the nearest town, and two hours from the nearest airport, the open house did not do much to make the case. The event only ran until 3:00 in the afternoon, and Spaceport America struggled to fill the schedule. (10/3)

Richard Branson Envisions 'Sexy Hotels' in Space (Source: Mashable)
Imagine waking up in a little spaceship orbiting around the moon, spending the day hanging out there and then going back to your fancy hotel pod in space for the evening. Just a daydream? The subject of a sci-fi novel? Not according to Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Galactic, who envisions a future where private citizens can fly to space as well as professional astronauts.

"I'd like to have really sexy Virgin hotels in space where people can go and stay in pods, head off in little spaceships around the moon, where they wake up in the morning and then they go back to their pods in the evening," he said. Branson, 66, also said he'd like to get everyone connected in the world "because if you're not connected you're held back massively."

"I'd like Virgin Galactic to be involved in deep space exploration," he added. "Stephen Hawking, who's going to go to space with Virgin Galactic one day, wants us to colonise other colonies because, if a disaster happens to earth, he doesn't want to see evolution wasted... In 100 years' time I suspect we would've colonized somewhere like Mars," Branson added. (10/3)

Why Scheduling Naps is One of NASA’s Most Important Jobs (Source: Washington Post)
Russian astronaut Vasily Tsibliyev hadn’t had a good night’s sleep for 12 days. He was being kept awake on purpose, as part of a study about sleeping on board the space station Mir. On the 13th day, June 25, 1997, he was assigned to guide a cargo ship to dock with the space station. But the ship came in too fast, crashing into Mir and knocking out half of the station’s power.

A NASA case study later found that there were problems with the docking procedure for the cargo ship — problems Tsibliyev might have been able to mitigate if he hadn’t been so badly fatigued. “It could have killed everyone,” said psychologist Erin Flynn-Evans, who runs the sleep research program at NASA’s Ames Research Center. “It was really a disaster.” (10/3)

Gravitational Waves Get New Focus From NASA (Source: Space Policy Online)
NASA has decided to resume technology development for a space-based facility to detect gravitational waves in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA is planning to launch such a mission in the 2030s.  Funding constraints led NASA to curtail planning for a Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) earlier this decade and its role in ESA's mission was expected to be minor, but dramatic advances in the field have altered the landscape.

A recent report from the National Academies recommended that NASA reconsider its role and the agency has done just that. Paul Hertz, Director of NASA's Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate, told a NASA Advisory Council (NAC) subcommittee yesterday that the agency has agreed to increase its participation in ESA's L3 gravitational wave mission to 20 percent, the maximum ESA will allow. The L3 mission is expected to be launched in 2033 or 2034. Over that period of time, Hertz said, NASA will spend approximately $300-350 million. (10/4)

Opinion: Are Tiny Satellites The Future? (Source: Aviation Week)
Cubesats have the potential to change the way we operate in space. Instead of building a satellite over the course of a decade at a cost of several hundred million dollars, we can build a lunch-box-sized cubesat (about 10 X 10 X 10 cm) (3.9 X 3.9 X. 3. 9 in.) within months for just $100,000 and change. These cubesats hitch a ride on a rocket with a bigger payload and launch into low Earth orbit (LEO). There, they begin their work.

It is not just that cubesats are more cost-effective, they’re also more adaptable: Unlike traditional satellites, cubesat software can be quickly reprogrammed from the ground. The capability of large satellites, however, should not be shortchanged. The ability to collect information from very sophisticated sensors cannot be replicated by cubesats. And while small might be “sexy,” that doesn’t mean it’s always successful. (9/28)

Six Trends That Will Change Space Exploration Forever (Source: Motherboard)
Here, cutting edge space science and policy is discussed in an open and accessible manner. Based on what was discussed during these sessions, here are some major trends to watch out for in the future of space exploration—without the sales pitch. Click here. (10/3)

'UFO' Seen in Live Space Station Video Is Just Fluff (Source: Seeker)
In a recent DNews article, I analyzed another video uploaded by the same user that apparently contained evidence of a UFO that seemed to fall toward the limb of the Earth before pausing its descent when NASA "cut the feed." After analyzing archival footage from the ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment, it quickly became clear what the bright object was. Every 90 minutes at dusk, the space station camera would see the same bright dot drop to the horizon. That dot was Venus.

But why did NASA cut the feed? I hear you cry. Well, NASA didn't cut the feed. The International Space Station passed out of range of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) that are used to relay the HD video to Earth. The live feed drops signal all the time throughout its orbit, but the fact that the feed just happened to drop as the UFO (Venus) made its descent was enough for some to think "conspiracy!" (10/3)

NASA Rocket Brings Home Cosmic X-Ray Answers — and a New Mystery (Source: Space.com)
A NASA sounding rocket zoomed above Earth's atmosphere, confirming one interstellar source for X-rays and one more local one — and discovering others whose origin remains a mystery. NASA's rocket, called the Diffuse X-ray emission (DXL) rocket, discovered that some of the X-rays that bombard Earth's atmosphere likely come from the "Local Hot Bubble," which is believed to be a zone of hot interstellar material surrounding the solar system. While the bubble has been hypothesized since the 1990s, DXL showed that its existence is likely true. (10/3)

Here’s Why a Clinton Administration Might Pivot NASA Back to the Moon (Source: Ars Technica)
There remains a significant subset of engineers, and especially astronauts, at NASA who would prefer to use the Moon as a waypoint to Mars. They may get their way if Hillary Clinton is elected. A physicist named Neal Lane offered comments in favor of a return to the Moon: “Today there’s a lot of international interest in having a presence on the Moon,” Lane said. “I think we don’t want to look down from lunar orbit and watch China and India and Europe and other parts of the world starting to establish missions there, even if they’re small ones, while we’re going around and around.”

Lane served as President Clinton’s science advisor from 1998 to 2001. And although it may not be widely known in aerospace circles, Lane is now serving as an informal advisor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign on the topics of science and technology, including space policy. There is no formal space policy yet for a Clinton White House, but it’s likely that Lane would have a meaningful voice in setting that policy after the election if Clinton were to win the presidency.

The former science advisor offered two primary reasons for his view that NASA should refocus on the Moon before setting off deeper into the Solar System. For one, the space agency really doesn’t know enough about living and working for long periods of time in harsh environments, Lane said. The lunar surface would offer such a low-gravity test bed, while also offering the safety of being close to Earth. Perhaps more importantly, Lane views lunar exploration as a powerful tool of international diplomacy. (10/4)

This Digging Robot Will Help Mine Mars for All It's Worth (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Elon Musk and his private spaceflight company SpaceX recently outlined their plan to make space travel to Mars an affordable reality—just $500,000 for a one-way ticket to the Red Planet. To shuttle people to Mars (within the next decade if ambitious goals can be met) SpaceX is working on a carbon fiber fuel tank for a massive 400-foot-tall reusable rocket that only exists on the drawing board at this point.

But getting people to Mars is only half the battle. Making sure that they can survive, possibly for decades, is a whole different challenge. SpaceX might be the perfect organization to launch people to the Red Planet on massive rockets, but they are going to need some help from NASA to build a sustainable colony, which is its proposed goal.

Fortunately, NASA has been quietly working on ways to harvest Martian resources for some years—a necessary step to ultimately realize a self-sustained Martian colony. In April 2016, NASA published a scientific and technical information (STI) paper titled "Frontier In-Situ Resource Utilization for Enabling Sustained Human Presence on Mars." (10/3)

How One Planetary Scientist Became a Cold War Spy For the CIA (Source: Air & Space)
The CIA called Jim Burke in 1963, just after he finished up as project manager of the Ranger satellite program and went back to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The USSR had just tested two enormous Lunik rockets, a dead giveaway they were getting ready to send up big space probes. “We wanted to know how their approach differed from ours,” says Burke. “We wanted to gain from their experience wherever we could.”

So Burke packed up his family and moved to Langley, Virginia, where he oversaw development of a protocol for intercepting the signals transmitted between the USSR’s spacecraft and its ground station in Crimea.

First, the Americans needed a receiver at the same longitude as the ground station, since the Soviets talked to their probes only when they were over their own territory. An out-of-the-way U.S. Navy installation on the Horn of Africa, in what is now the Eritrean capital Asmara, was the ideal spot. Two giant dishes were constructed at the site, code-named Stonehouse, and outfitted with cutting-edge equipment to detect and interpret radio signals. (10/3)

Leonardo DiCaprio Says He's Signed Up for Elon Musk's Trip to Mars (Source: Business Insider)
Leonardo DiCaprio has achieved so much as an actor on earth, you might think he's getting a little bored of life on the planet. Well, he has apparently already set his sights on Mars. DiCaprio revealed during a talk with President Barack Obama about climate change that he had signed up to visit Mars on Elon Musk's first trip there. Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, plans to get humans to Mars as soon as 2025, a journey Musk expects to be quite risky.

DiCaprio said this while talking to Obama and the climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe on Monday as part of the South by South Lawn event at the White House, Inverse reports. The three discussed climate change before the premiere of DiCaprio's new documentary on the subject, "Before the Flood." Musk and the Mars trip came up while Hayhoe was explaining the need to get regular people to connect to the reality of climate change and its effects. (10/4)

Under Hawaii's Starriest Skies, a Flight Over Sacred Ground (Source: New York Times)
Two years ago, this mountaintop in Hawaii was the scene of a cosmic traffic jam: honking horns, vans and trucks full of astonomers, VIPs, journalists, businesspeople, politicians, protesters and police -- all snarled at a roadblock just short of the summit. Click here. (10/3)

Superfast Spinning Stars Cause Strangest Weather in the Universe (Source: New Scientist)
Like a sped-up movie, planets orbiting stars that spin rapidly might go through their seasons in double time. Earth’s seasons come from the planet’s tilt: as we orbit the sun, one hemisphere leans towards it, receiving more direct sunlight, while the other leans away. Our star is a particularly calm one. Hot, massive “early-type” stars can spin almost 100 times faster than the sun, causing them to bulge in the middle.

The gas around the star’s equator is then farther away from its center, so it cools more than other parts of the star’s surface, in a phenomenon called gravity-darkening. The poles, meanwhile, remain hot and dense. John Ahlers at the University of Idaho in Moscow wondered how gravity-darkening might change the seasons on a planet orbiting such a squished star. If the planet orbits in the plane of the star’s equator, like the planets in our solar system do, then gravity-darkening could have no effect at all. (10/3)

Giant Hidden Jupiters May Explain Lonely Planet Systems (Source: New Scientist)
Lonely planets can blame big, pushy bullies. Giant planets may bump off most of their smaller brethren, partly explaining why the Kepler space telescope has seen so many single-planet systems. Of the thousands of planetary systems Kepler has discovered, about 80 per cent appear as single planets passing in front of their stars. The rest feature as many as seven planets – a distinction dubbed the Kepler dichotomy.

Recent studies suggest even starker differences. While multiple-planet systems tend to have circular orbits that all lie in the same plane – like our solar system – the orbits of singletons tend to be more elliptical and are often misaligned with the spins of their stars.

Now, a pair of computer simulations suggest that hidden giants may lurk in these single systems. We wouldn’t be able to see them; big, Jupiter-like planets in wide orbits would take too long for Kepler to catch, and they may not have orbits that cause them to pass in front of their stars in our line of sight. (10/3)

S7 Poised to Resurrect Sea Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
S7 Group is paying approximately $150 million for Sea Launch. “I’m happy to say that this is one of the few deals where a Russian private investor (invests) in the high technology industry,” Solntsev said through a translator. “The project is fairly complex, but S7 Group has a new business approach, and I’m certain that with our support the project will be a success,” Solntsev said in a statement.

The sale is subject to approval from the U.S. State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Control and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, according to a press release posted on Energia’s website. “According to political agreements between Russia and the United States, Sea Launch is under United States control,” Filev said. “It will take some six to nine months to get approval, and after approval, I suppose it will take another 18 months to be ready for operations.”

If S7 Group’s tentative timetable stands, Sea Launch could return to flight in late 2018. “For us, acquisition of a space launch system is an ‘entry ticket’ to (the) space industry,” Filev said in a statement. “Space infrastructure grows by leaps and bounds, this is a very interesting line of business, the long-term outlook for which is good.” “We expect that without large investment in the Sea Launch upgrade we will be able to make up to 70 launches over the period of 15 years,” Filev said. (10/4)

Northrop Gets $70 Million to Support B-2 Satellite Communication System (Source: UPI)
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. has received a $70 million U.S. Air Force delivery order to support the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber's satellite communication system. The cost-reimbursable, firm-fixed-price delivery order covers work on the Spirit's Ultra High Frequency Satellite Communication Receiver Transmitter program. (10/3)

Boeing CEO Vows to Beat Musk to Mars (Source: Bloomberg)
Boeing once helped the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the race to the moon. Now the company intends to go toe-to-toe with newcomers such as billionaire Elon Musk in the next era of space exploration and commerce. Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg sketched out a Jetsons-like future at a conference Tuesday, envisioning a commercial space-travel market with dozens of destinations orbiting the Earth and hypersonic aircraft shuttling travelers between continents in two hours or less.

And Boeing intends to be a key player in the initial push to send humans to Mars, maybe even beating Musk to his long-time goal. “I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg said at the Chicago event on innovation, which was sponsored by the Atlantic magazine. Click here. (10/4)

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