SpaceX and the Supermodel
Blue Origin may have New Shepard, but SpaceX has Karlie Kloss.
The model recently did a photo shoot at SpaceX’s headquarters that made the cover of WSJ Magazine, where she posed with a Dragon capsule, Merlin engine, and in SpaceX mission control.
In a separate video, Kloss took viewers behind the scenes of the shoot, or as much as she could, given the restrictions on filming there.
She came away from it impressed with SpaceX. “The rockets were so cool,” she said. “It’s probably the coolest shoot I’ve ever been a part of.”
Moreover, she said she got to bring her father along: “He’s the biggest space nerd I’ve ever met.”
With the Amos-5 satellite likely a total loss, customers are switching to other satellites. David Pollack, the CEO of Israeli satellite operator Spacecom, said there was little hope now of restoring contact with Amos-5, which malfunctioned Saturday, and that his company would be filing an insurance claim declaring the satellite a total loss. The cause of the Amos-5 malfunction isn’t known, and the company said the failure took place without warning. Spacecom has offered to make bulk purchases of replacement capacity for its customers, but Pollack said some unnamed competitors are offering those customers capacity on their satellites at prices below cost. [SpaceNews]
The outgoing head of acquisition at the Air Force warned Tuesday that the country is facing a “serious” problem in space access. William LaPlante, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, said it’s not possible in the next several years to promote launch competition, maintain assured access, and also replace the RD-180 with a domestic engine. “You’re going to have to choose two of those three,” he said. The Air Force announced last week LaPlante was leaving the Pentagon to take a position with Mitre. [Reuters]
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The head of United Launch Alliance is hopeful Congress will lift limits on access to RD-180 engines. ULA CEO Tory Bruno said he hopes a recent competition to launch a GPS 3 satellite is the only one the company has to sit out because of limits on the number of RD-180 engines available to it. Bruno said the engines that it is currently allowed to use for competed launches were already allocated to other missions, including non-military ones, to avoid production gaps. [Denver Business Journal]
Blue Origin’s successful suborbital test flight turned into something of an argument between two billionaires. After Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced the successful launch and landing of its New Shepard vehicle, SpaceX founder Elon Musk took to Twitter to congratulate Bezos, but also noted his company had been doing vertical takeoff and landing tests, albeit not to the same altitude, for several years. Bezos, asked about Musk’s comments in a conference call, suggested New Shepard’s landing was at least as difficult as SpaceX’s unsuccessful attempts to date to land a Falcon 9 first stage on a ship. [SpaceNews]
The successful launch of a communications satellite could unlock future commercial launch orders for Japan’s H-2A rocket. The H-2A successfully launched Telesat’s Telstar 12 Vantage satellite Tuesday on the first commercial mission for the launch vehicle. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the prime contractor for the H-2A, hopes to sell up to three commercial launches a year of the vehicle while seeking to reduce the vehicle’s costs. [SpaceNews]
A pair of major contracts was good news Tuesday for Aerojet Rocketdyne’s stock price. The company’s share price closed Tuesday at $18.23, up 12 percent for the day. Aerojet announced late Monday contracts with Boeing to provide propulsion systems for the CST-100 spacecraft and with NASA to restart production of RS-25 engines for the Space Launch System. The two contracts have a combined value of nearly $1.4 billion. [Sacramento Business Journal]
As NASA ramps up plans for human missions in cislunar space in the 2020s, it’s also thinking about what other things those crews can do. NASA’s “Journey to Mars” plan calls for a series of human missions in habitats orbiting between the Earth and Moon, lasting up to a year at a time, to test technologies needed for later missions to Mars. NASA is studying other uses for those missions, ranging from teleoperating rovers on the lunar surface to maintaining space telescopes. [SpaceNews]
A long-running NASA mission to confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity has finally come to a conclusion. Scientists involved with the Gravity Probe B mission published a final set of papers this month on results from the mission, verifying several predictions Einstein’s theory made on the nature of spacetime. NASA launched Gravity Probe B in 2004 on a 1.5-year mission, although initial studies of the mission date back to the early 1960s. The publication of the final results from the mission coincide with the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s initial paper on general relativity. [Science News]
Scientists are skeptical that a star with unusual light patterns could have alien “megastructures” orbiting it. Astronomers reviewing observations of the star, KIC 8462852, say they believe that the most likely explanation for the star’s unusual lightcurve is the presence of a cloud of debris created by the destruction of a family of comets. But one scientist involved in the study at least left the door open to the alien megastructures explanation that got so much media attention recently: “We can’t really say it is, or is not.” [Iowa State Univ.]
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