Max Q - Space is getting just lousy with billionaires

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Monday, July 19, 2021 By Darrell Etherington

Richard Branson’s trip to space was the big story last week, but that’s old news now. Move on with your life. There’s a new billionaire crossing the imaginary technical boundary (albeit a slightly different, higher one) that separates Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, and it’s Jeff Bezos.

Spaceman Bezos

There are actually two Bezos(es?) going to space this week: Both Jeff, who I assume you’re aware of, and Mark, who is not a household name but who is getting a ride courtesy of his brother on Blue Origin’s first ever human spaceflight on Tuesday morning.

The Bezos boys are flying alongside Wally Funk, an 82-year old lifelong aviator who broke a number of glass ceilings, but who never went to space when the Mercury 13 program was cancelled. She’ll become the oldest person ever in history to make the trip to space during the flight, and she’ll be joined by 18-year old Oliver Daemen, who will become the youngest in history to do the same. Blue Origin’s padding the record books with this one.

You’ll be able to watch the whole thing go down live on YouTube starting at 7:30 AM EDT / 4:30 AM PDT. It’s happening in West Texas, in a tiny town basically in the middle of nowhere where Blue Origin has its launch and landing site. Our own Aria Alamalhodaei will be there in person to offer up all the details, and you can check out our live stream, too.

Spaceman Bezos image

Virgin Galactic president dishes on what's next

I was dismissive of Virgin Galactic’s flight last week earlier in this newsletter, but that was in jest of course. Branson’s flight was a major milestone for the company, as it marked its first full complement flight — carrying the same number of people that the eventual commercial tours will take. Our own Devin Coldewey got the chance to talk to Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses about what that flight means, and what’s next for Virgin’s spacecraft as it ramps up operations.

Another company focused on private human space exploration also made some noteworthy moves last week: Axiom Space contracted Thales Alenia Space to build pressurized sections for its future commercial space station. Axiom has been bold about its vision for creating a private orbital space destination, but this marks one of the more concrete moves its made to date to turn that vision into a reality.

Virgin Galactic president dishes on what's next image

Image Credits: Virgin Galactic

Masten will make Moon GPS

It’s hard to understate just how massive an impact the development of GPS had here on Earth. Most of the stuff we take for granted today, like getting directions on our phones, wouldn’t be possible without it.

Masten Space Systems announced this week that it will be making a GPS-type system for the Moon, which could greatly aid with future Moon exploration and colonization efforts. All navigation done currently on the lunar surface relies on local sensors and obstacle avoidance, but a GPS-style locating system for lunar destinations could change all that.

Masten will make Moon GPS image

Image Credits: Masten Space Systems

Join us at TC Sessions: Space in December

Last year we held our first dedicated space event, and it went so well that we decided to host it again in 2021. This year, it’s happening December 14 and 15, and it’s once again going to be an entirely virtual conference, so people from all over the world will be able to join — and you can, too.

Join us at TC Sessions: Space in December image

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