SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has shared the first look of the firm’s Starlink Internet satellites packed and ready to be launched into orbit in a few days.
Musk posted a photo on Twitter, featuring the first 60 production satellites packed into the fairing of a Falcon 9 rocket ahead of their launch this coming week.
“First 60 @SpaceX Starlink satellites loaded into Falcon fairing. Tight fit,” he tweeted late on Saturday.
These Internet satellites represent the company’s plan to build an Internet satellite network — “Starlink”. The company is one of several, including Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, which are building these so called “constellations” of interconnected satellites to deliver high speed Internet from space.
Musk’s SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to put nearly 11,000 Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit between now and the mid-2020s, providing high-speed Internet access to areas of the planet where broadband is rare, spotty or non-existent.
The US space agency NASA on Thursday announced it has selected Elon Musk-run SpaceX, Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin and Dynetics (a Leidos company) to design and develop human landing systems (HLS) for the agency’s Artemis programme, one of which will land the first woman and next man on the surface of the Moon by 2024.
The total combined value for all awarded contracts is $967 million for the 10-month base period. “With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
NASA is on track for sustainable human exploration of the Moon for the first time in history.
“This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis programme,” he said in a statement.
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Blue Origin is developing the Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) – a three-stage lander to be launched on its own New Glenn Rocket System and ULA Vulcan launch system. SpaceX is developing the Starship – a fully integrated lander that will use the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket.
Dynetics (a Leidos company) from Huntsville, Alabama, is working on the Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS) – a single structure providing the ascent and descent capabilities that will launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system. Fifty years ago, NASA’s Apollo Programme proved it is possible to land humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth.
“We are on our way. With these awards, we begin an exciting partnership with the best of industry to accomplish the nation’s goals. We have much work ahead, especially over these next critical 10 months. I have high confidence that working with these teammates, we will succeed,” informed Douglas Loverro, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington.
NASA’s commercial partners will refine their lander concepts through the contract base period ending in February 2021. During that time, the agency will evaluate which of the contractors will perform initial demonstration missions.
Charged with returning to the Moon in the next four years, NASA’s Artemis programme will reveal new knowledge about the Moon, Earth, and our origins in the solar system. The human landing system is a vital part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, Orion spacecraft, and Gateway.
Slamming restrictions imposed on people’s movements in light of the COVID-19 crisis, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that telling people that they cannot leave their home is “fascist”.
Musk has been a fierce critic of COVID-19 restrictions from the very beginning of the outbreak. At one point he even called the coronavirus panic “dumb”. The latest rant against the restrictions came during Tesla’s Q1 2020 earning call on Wednesday.
While answering questions from analysts, Musk said “this is the time to think about the future and also to ask, is it right to infringe upon people’s rights, as what is happening right now.” “I think the people are going to be very angry about this and are very angry, because somebody should really — if somebody wants to stay in their house, that’s great. They should be allowed to stay in the house, and they should not be compelled to leave,” the Tesla CEO said.
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“But to say that they cannot leave their house, and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom. People back they’ve gotten their freedom,” he added. Tesla posted surprise profit of $16 million in the first quarter of 2020 despite temporary disruptions in productions due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Answering questions on the company’s liquidity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Musk said that he was worried about not being able to resume production in its factory in Fremont, California. “I should say we are a bit worried about not being able to resume production in the Bay Area, and that should be identified as a serious risk. We only have two car factories right now, one in Shanghai and one in the Bay Area, and the Bay Area produces the vast majority of our cars, all of S and X, and most of the 3 and all of the Y,” he said
He said that “forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional alliance” is “horrible and wrong”. Musk said that while Tesla will weather the storm, there are many small companies that will not.
While the Bay Area’s orders require non-essential businesses to stay shut and also ban many other activities, such as large public gatherings, they do not say that people cannot leave their house, CNBC reported. (IANS)