Spectacular and breathtakingly wonderful telescope – TechCrunch
Hello and welcome to Max Q. In this issue:
- The first images from the James Webb Space Telescope are here
- Lunar Outpost targets lunar markets
- News from ABL Space Systems, Skyrora and more
By the way… we are just around the corner from TC Sessions: Robotics, an all-day digital gathering of some of the world’s leading robotics and AI founders, technologists, engineers, researchers and investors! Sign up and learn more here.
Alright, let’s get to the news.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been one of the most exciting astronomical missions in years. With JWST, scientists hope to learn more about the universe, from star formation to black holes to exoplanets.
This week NASA released the first five images of the optical instrument and they did. not disappoint. The first image, revealed by President Joe Biden, is a sublime photo of the SMACS 0723 cluster. As NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “If you hold a grain of sand on the end of your finger at arm’s length, that’s the part of the universe you see, just a little speck of the universe.
Check out this story about what the other four images tell us about the universe and this deep dive from Devin Coldewey into how a spacecraft a million miles away manages to send tens of gigabytes of data back to Earth.
I caught up with Lunar Outpost CEO Justin Cyrus a few months after the company closed a $12 million funding round, led by Explorer 1 Fund with participation from Promus Ventures, Space Capital, Type 1 Ventures and Cathexis Ventures.
Lunar Outpost develops rovers and other technology for ground and space applications, and it already has a handful of space missions planned for 2023 and beyond. For the first mission, Lunar Outpost will send a 10-kilogram rover, called Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform (MAPP), to the moon’s south pole on a mission in partnership with Nokia and Intuitive Machines in early 2023. The company is also sending a rover to explore the mysterious Reiner Gamma feature on the moon in a fully funded mission for NASA, also in partnership with Intuitive Machines. To top it off, he is part of a team including Northrop Grumman, Michelin, AVL and Intuitive Machines bidding on a contract to build a crewed lunar terrain vehicle for NASA.
“We saw our competitors start trying to catch up and we felt that this funding could not only be used to differentiate ourselves more and drive a little bit of a gap, if you will, but also accelerate our time-to-market for the cislunar space,” Cyrus said.
More news from TC and beyond
- ABL space systems has successfully completed a static fire test of the RS1 rocket at Kodiak’s Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska, CEO Harry O’Hanley said.
- Black sky received $4.4 million from the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) for the machine learning technology incorporated into IARPA’s Space-based Machine Automated Recognition Technique program.
- Aerospace Dawn was awarded €1.4 million ($1.4 million) of the European Commission to further develop its alternative propulsion technology to hydrazine.
- The European Space Agency The Vega C rocket has successfully completed its first flight from French Guiana, with the launch operated by Arianespace and the vehicle designed by prime contractor Avio. Arianespace said it was aiming four launches per year.
- ESA has officially terminated its cooperation with the Russian Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission.
- Augsburg Rocket Factory fired its Helix engine for 74 seconds, ending the engine’s long-lasting hot-firing campaign. Next comes the integrated system test, the company said.
- rocket lab launched the first of two missions for the US National Reconnaissance Office. It aims to launch the second mission just 10 days later, the fastest launch cadence for the company to date.
- Roscosmos terminated its leader Dmitry Rogozin the same day the Russian space agency and NASA announced they would swap seats for astronauts on missions to the International Space Station.
- Skyrora opened a 55,000 square foot rocket engine factory in Scotland that will power the company’s inaugural launch vehicle, Skyrora XL.
- SpaceX launched over two tons of cargo to the International Space Station, including a number of very interesting science experiments and a NASA instrument that will measure dust and dust cycles, an important variable for modeling climate scenarios future and ecological phenomena such as snowmelt and algal blooms.
- by SpaceX The Super Heavy booster had a little, uh, hiccup when the engine start test ended with a fiery explosion.
- space capital published its quarterly report on investments in the space sector, finding that an additional $6.1 billion was paid into 92 companies in the second quarter of this year. The venture capital firm said it did not believe the industry was at “existential risk” despite dire macroeconomic conditions.
- Galactic Virgo opens a new manufacturing plant in Arizona, which it says will have the capacity to produce six spacecraft per year.
Picture of the week
Come on… how could I not to choose JWST Deep Field Landscape? ! As an aside, see this nice story by Mary Beth Griggs on why it looks like there’s so much lens flare in this image (spoiler: it’s not lens flare).
Bonus links related to JWST:
This cool tool by John Christensen who compares JW’s images to those taken by the noble Hubble Space Telescope. It really drives home how crazy the new optical instrument is.
A Reddit user make a video showing where, exactly, the “cosmic cliffs” are located in the universe. It’s breathtaking.
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