private enterprise

LightSale 2 Unfurls

LightSail 2 Unfurls, Takes Next Step Toward Space Travel by Solar Sail: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/23/science/lightsail-solar-sail.html. The Planetary Society crowd-funded and deployed LightSail 2 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, aiming to further demonstrate the potential of the technology for space propulsion.

“The ability to sail across the cosmos, powered by the energy of the sun, is finally becoming a reality.

Engineers in California pressed a button on Tuesday that unfurled the sails on a satellite that can be steered around Earth, advancing long held hopes for an inexhaustible form of spaceflight and expanding the possibilities for navigating the voids between worlds.”

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Big Bucks For the Promise of AGI

Microsoft invests $1 billion in artificial intelligence project co-founded by Elon Musk: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/22/microsoft-invests-1-billion-in-elon-musks-openai.html. The project is OpenAI, and its goal is AGI - Artifical General Intelligence - what us old-school futurists consider “true” artificial intelligence (to be distinguished from both the chatbots marketers are calling AI and the narrow, specialized AIs that are beating humans at all those games).

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Neuralink - Or, the 1,000 Steps to eVis

Most great technological advances are actually the culmination of 1,000 baby steps, each one pushing against the limits of our capabilities until those limits nudge a little further out and punctuated by breakthroughs that solve 50 or 100 of those steps in one fell swoop. My feeling is that we're about 1/3 of the way through the thousand steps required to get to eVis, and we're due for one of those breakthroughs to leap us closer (this isn't one, though the work these companies are doing will likely trigger one, hopefully soon).

"Elon Musk unveils Neuralink’s plans for brain-reading ‘threads’ and a robot to insert them": https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/16/20697123/elon-musk-neuralink-brain-reading-thread-robot

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Originally posted on Facebook.

The View From LightSail 2

Crowdfunded spacecraft LightSail 2 snaps amazing photos ahead of solar sail deployment: https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/17/crowdfunded-spacecraft-lightsail-2-snaps-amazing-photos-ahead-of-solar-sail-deployment/.

LightSail 2’s development was funded in part via a successful crowdfunding campaign run by the Bill Nye-led Planetary Society. Its goal is to test a spacecraft’s ability to fly powered only by the force of photons from the Sun striking a solar sail constructed of Mylar. This method of space-based transportation is extremely slow to get started, but thanks to the inertia-free medium of outer space, it could be an extremely energy-efficient way for research craft to travel long distances.

It launched on June 25 as part of the shared payload of SpaceX’s most recent Falcon Heavy launch.

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Originally posted on Twitter.

The Next Space Race

In 2019, on the brink of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the competition that will rocket humanity into the cosmos is between two passionate and brilliant multi-billionaires: Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

This blog outlines each of their capabilities, as well as their near-term and long-term vision for the final frontier: https://singularityhub.com/2019/05/24/the-next-space-race-bezos-vs-musk/.

The article includes a lot of insights into the personalities at play, their origins, and the details of their respective visions.

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Originally posted on Twitter.

A Vision Of Our Future

Lots of big news out of Blue Origin! Jeff Bezos gave an inspirational and aspirational speech in which he laid out a far-reaching vision for getting humans, manufacturing and resource development out into the solar system. That starts with the moon, and he unveiled a new lunar lander module, secretly in development for the last 3 years, which he causally offered to NASA for use in their 2024 lunar landing plans.

Here’s an overview of the event: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/05/jeff-bezos-unveils-his-sweeping-vision-for-humanitys-future-in-space/, or you can watch the entire presentation here (it’s worth it if you have the time): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ98hGUe6FM.

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Trifecta

SpaceX has successfully landed all 3 boosters of its Falcon Heavy rocket at 3 separate locations - and it's only the 2nd flight of the Falcon Heavy.

Space is hard, and in a very busy week for our accelerating journey into the stars, 2 huge success and one near miss isn't too bad. 🤗

Here's some insane footage of the side booster landings from multiple cameras at once: https://twitter.com/DJSnM/status/1116472530531958784

Credit for the images below: Jason Major (https://twitter.com/JPMajor/status/1116471931002400776) and Roman Tkachenko (https://twitter.com/_RomanTkache…/status/1116471879093620736).

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For a ton of jaw-dropping images of the launch, including the ones below, check out astrophotographer Trevor Mahlmann’s Twitter feed and website.

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Originally posted on Facebook.

The Moon Is In Fact A Harsh Mistress

The Israeli Beresheet lunar lander encountered engine trouble during the final minute of its descent, and the craft wasn't able to slow down enough, resulting in a crash landing. 😔

Space is hard, guys. And the moon is a MFing harsh mistress.

Below is the last image Beresheet beamed back before its crash landing. So beautiful! 

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Originally posted on Facebook.

A Busy Week in the Stars

It's a busy week for our accelerating journey into the stars, so keep one eye on the news - or this page, because you know I'll be posting. 😎

Wednesday at 9am EST, scientists are expected to reveal the first ever direct imaging of the event horizon of a black hole 😯, as part of the results of the Event Horizon Telescope (actually 10 radio telescopes on 4 continents). It's a surprise whether the image and data will relate to Sag A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, or the one in the M87 galaxy. You can watch the press conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7WUmAgTKJg.

Wednesday evening (EST), SpaceX will conduct its second launch of its massive Falcon Heavy rocket - then attempt to land the central core and both side boosters at 3 separate locations. 😲 You can watch the launch and landings here: https://www.spacex.com/webcast.

Thursday afternoon (EST), the Israeli privately funded Beresheet lunar lander will attempt to - you guessed it. Land on the moon. 🌝 You can watch the landing here: https://contactgbs.com/space/.

✨💫✨

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Originally posted on Facebook.

Crew Dragon

LIFTOFF! The next big leap in a new chapter of U.S. human spaceflight systems has begun. @SpaceX’s #CrewDragon demo flight is the 1st commercially-built & operated American spacecraft designed for humans to dock at the @Space_Station. NASA: “Today’s successful launch marks a new chapter in American excellence, getting us closer to once again flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil."

For this demo launch, Crew Dragon is staffed with a sensor-laden dummy named “Ripley.” The capsule will arrive at the ISS on Sunday, where it will attempt its first autonomous docking (previous non-crew Dragon capsules have been snagged and guided in by an arm on the ISS controlled by astronauts on board).

NASA Press Release: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-spacex-launch-first-flight-test-of-space-system-designed-for-crew

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter (1st tweet, 2nd tweet).