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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: October 14, 2020
The Military’s Puzzling Plan To Have SpaceX Deliver A C-17’s Worth Of Cargo Anywhere In An Hour (Updated) – The Drive
Posted: October 14, 2020 at 6:40 pm
Other experts have questioned the concept altogether, noting that point-to-point space launches will usher in a new host of issues that must be addressed before this concept gets off the ground. Victoria Samson at the Secure World Foundation told Breaking Defense's Theresa Hitchens that TRANSCOM's plans open up a regulatory can of worms:
It seems like it would provide a host of traffic management questions, as well as spaceport issues. Where would these craft be taking off/landing? Will we have spaceport bases in allied territory, and if not, how does this benefit our troops overseas if we still have to move them through ground transportation systems?
It isn't exactly clear what kind of scenarios would require this type of high-cost rapid transport, either. One could imagine using the system for moving very time-sensitive equipment and supplies to forward operating locations, but even if the cost is far less than an actual SpaceX orbital launch, it would still likely be a huge investment every time it is used. The exact infrastructure requirements are also unknown as is just how such heavy loads will be delivered safely. Suborbital flights would drastically increase the available payload of a system like Falcon 9, as opposed to its orbital insertion mission, but safely landing tens of tons of cargo in some sort of a cost-effective manner remains a question mark, albeit one that will be really interesting to see solved.
This certainly isn't the first time the U.S. military has fancied the ability to move things around the globe, including people, far faster than existing airlift concepts can provide. In 2018, now-retired Air Force General Carlton Everhart, then-head of that service's Air Mobility Command (AMC), which is part of TRANSCOM, made similar comments about space-based logistics after having sat down with SpaceX, as well as Virgin Orbit.
Think about this. Thirty minutes, 150 metric tons, [and] less than the cost of a C-5 [cargo plane], Everhart said. I said, I need to get me some of that. How do I do that?
Those remarks prompted many of the same questions that still exist now. Those same issues have dogged similar efforts that have come and gone since the 1960s, including the abortive Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion (SUSTAIN) effort, which received support from the Pentagon's National Security Space Office and U.S. Marine Corps in the 2000s and was said to be "doable" by the end of the 2010s. You can read more about that project and other efforts in the context of Everhart's 2018 comments in this past War Zone piece.
Still, SpaceX is no stranger to giving the DoD what it wants. It has previously teamed up with the U.S. Air Force to offer datalink services through their Starlink satellite constellations for the USAFs burgeoning Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). ABMS is designed to link U.S. forces and allies across all domains, enabling real-time data fusion and sharing on an unprecedented level. Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, has previously stated that data is now an essential warfighting resource as valuable as jet fuel, and is the key to next-gen warfare. SpaceX was recently awarded around 40% of the U.S. Space Forces launch service contracts through 2024 and another $149 million to develop early warning satellites for the Space Development Agency (SDA).
While Lyonss comments about the potential for planet-wide deliveries in one hour may sound like an exaggeration, it does follows along with other recent comments made by other military brass. Just last year, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Steven Kwast claimed that existing cutting-edge technology makes it possible to deliver any human being from any place on planet Earth to any other place in less than an hour."
While TRANSCOM hasn't mentioned delivering personnel using rockets, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has stated that the company's Starship rocket will soon enable point-to-point travel - for those willing to withstand the Gs such a trip would exert on the body. Kwast's comments remain peculiar, but using rockets for rapid transport across the globe could point in the direction of his claims. Still, we are not talking about a man rating for the system at this time, at least according to TRANSCOM.
SpaceX, Hughes and Viasat qualify to bid for $20.4 billion in FCC rural broadband subsidies – SpaceNews
Posted: at 6:40 pm
WASHINGTON SpaceX, Hughes Network Systems and Viasat are eligible to compete for a share of the $20.4 billion in broadband subsidies the FCC plans to dole out under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) starting later this month.
The Federal Communications Commission on Oct. 13 released a list of qualified bidders for the RDOF funds, which will be awarded via reverse auction to telecom providers bidding to bring subsidized voice and broadband internet services to rural communities and other underserved parts of the United States.
FCCs list of qualified bidders includes 386 telecom providers, including SpaceX, Hughes and Viasat.
Inclusion on the list makes them eligible to participate in an RDOF reverse auction set to begin Oct. 29. Thats when the FCC will begin accepting bids from telecom providers for delivering services to some six million homes and businesses in census blocks entirely unserved by voice and broadband with download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second. A second round of awards, the dates for which havent been set, will expand the program to cover partially served locations as well as locations passed over during the first round.
Viasat is proud to be included on the FCCs list of Qualified Bidders for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction, John Janka, Viasat chief officer for global government affairs and regulatory, told SpaceNews by email. We believe we are well qualified to offer broadband connectivity under the FCCs performance metrics for RDOF, but are unable to comment further given the FCC rules governing the auction process.
While there was little doubt that Hughes and ViaSat would make the list of qualified bidders, SpaceXs inclusion wasnt a given because the Starlink constellation does not yet offer commercial service.
In the lead up to the competition, satellite operators complained that the RDOF rules put too much emphasis on low signal latency, which they say will make it too tough to win a share of the funds.
Hughes and Viasat have long provided consumer internet services via geostationary satellites, building and launching new satellites providing fast enough downloads to meet the FCCs definition of broadband. However, geostationary satellites because they orbit some 36,000 kilometers above the equator suffer a roughly 1/2-second signal lag that disqualifies them from competing as low-latency services, defined by the FCC as 100 milliseconds or less lag.
To achieve lower latency and qualify for additional FCC broadband subsidies, Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg has discussed the idea of launching a constellation of 288 satellites in low Earth orbit. Pradman Kaul, Hughes Network Systems president, said the firms $50 million investment in OneWeb means the company could offer LEO broadband in the FCC reverse auction.
SpaceX is going for faster speeds and lower latency than GEO broadband by deploying thousands of broadband satellites into low Earth orbit, boosting network capacity and reducing signal travel times. The company has launched more than 700 Starlink satellites since 2018 but has yet to introduce commercial service. While SpaceX has told the FCC that the low orbits chosen for Starlink ensure it can outperform the 100-millisecond performance standard, the FCC said this summerit remained unconvinced.
The rest is here:
SpaceX may have Dragon spaceships in orbit without a break for a year – Business Insider – Business Insider
Posted: at 6:40 pm
SpaceX is preparing to launch four NASA astronauts on its Crew Dragon spaceship this Halloween the first of six regular crewed missions the space agency has contracted from the rocket company founded by Elon Musk. (The one that concluded in August was considered a demonstration.)
That's on top of the cargo resupply missions that SpaceX will regularly launch to the International Space Station for NASA. The company has been sending a spaceship designed to carry supplies, called Cargo Dragon, to the orbiting laboratory since 2012. That vehicle has made more than 20 trips to the station and back.
Combined, the two types of Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to launch into space seven times over the next 14 months, leading to an unprecedented situation for SpaceX.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center with a "Starman" dummy aboard on March 2, 2019. NASA TV
"Every time there's a Dragon launch, there'll be two Dragons in space," Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX, said at a press conference earlier this month.
That's because each of the crewed SpaceX missions should overlap for a little while. The company's next astronaut mission, called Crew 1, launches at the end of the month, then the next one, Crew-2, is scheduled to launch in late March 2021. But the Crew-1 astronauts don't plan to leave the space station until April. The same thing should happen with the following mission, Crew-3: It's expected to launch in September 2021, so should tag up with Crew-2 in orbit.
The Crew-1 crew includes NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins, and Victor Glover, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Hopkins is to be the mission commander, Glover the pilot, and Walker and Noguchi mission specialists.
NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts participate in equipment testing in Hawthorne, California, on September 24, 2020. SpaceX
Before SpaceX launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the space station in May on its Crew Dragon, NASA hadn't been able to fly its own astronauts to space since 2011, when it ended its space-shuttle program.
The partnership with SpaceX was the product of the space agency's Commercial Crew Program, which put private firms in competition for billions of dollars' worth of government contracts. SpaceX and Boeing came out on top. Once the program is complete, NASA will have doled out more than $8 billion in awards and contracts over about a decade.
Boeing is expected to launch its first crewed CST-100 Starliner spaceship in December 2021. The Starliner-1 crew consists of commander Sunita Williams, mission specialist Jeanette Epps, and pilot Josh A. Cassada all NASA astronauts. The fourth member has not yet been announced.
But before Boeing launches humans into space, it has to retry an uncrewed demonstration mission on Starliner, because the attempt in December failed: Starliner entered orbit successfully, but failed to rendezvous with the space station due to potentially "catastrophic" software errors that NASA then investigated. The vehicle also saw problems on its way back to Earth.
Until Starliner is ready for spaceflight, Crew Dragon remains the only ship the US has to carry people to and from the space station hence the crew changeovers will, for the foreseeable future, all be on SpaceX missions.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship "Endeavour" just before docking to the International Space Station on May 31, 2020. SpaceX/NASA via YouTube
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has said he envisions "the next era in human spaceflight" to be one in which NASA can be one of many customers in a "robust commercial marketplace."
In addition to Commercial Crew, NASA is forming other partnerships with private industry to bring in revenue.In September, the agency announced a $128,000 deal with Este Lauder to carry 10 bottles of the cosmetics company's Advanced Night Repair serum to the space station, where crew members will shoot videos and images.
Tom Cruise. Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
In October 2021, Tom Cruise and "Mission Impossible: Edge of Tomorrow" director Doug Liman are slated to travel to the ISS on a SpaceX tourist mission, where they'll shoot the first major blockbuster in space. NASA is also in talks with US production company Space Hero, Inc. to produce the first reality TV series filmed in space.
Musk’s SpaceX partners with US military to deliver weapons by rockets – Business Insider – Business Insider
Posted: at 6:40 pm
Elon Musk's SpaceX and the US military plan to build a rocket capable of delivering 80 metric tons of cargo anywhere in the world in 60 minutes.
Under a newly agreed contract, SpaceX will assess the costs and technical challenges of the project, while initial tests are expected in 2021, Gen. Stephen Lyons, the head of US Transportation Command, said Wednesday at a virtual conference.
A 7,652-mile journey from Florida to Afghanistan could be completed within about an hour with such a high-speed rocket, which could travel at 7,500 mph, per The Times.
In comparison, a US C-17 Globemaster, a military transport aircraft costing $218 million with a maximum speed of 590 mph, would complete this journey in about 15 hours.
"Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour," Lyons said.
"I can tell you SpaceX is moving very, very rapidly in this area. I'm really excited about the team that's working with SpaceX."
Another aerospace company, Exploration Architecture Corporation, will also be part of the research program.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, has already developed the Falcon 9, a reusable rocket designed to carry 22 metric tons of cargo and land vertically in a controlled descent.
The plan comes days after SpaceX landed a $149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the Pentagon, indicating that the aerospace firm is ramping up its military contracts.
As part of the deal, SpaceX will build four satellites fitted with wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensors in its assembly plant in Washington, where the firm builds satellites for its Starlink internet project.
In August, SpaceX won 40% of a billion-dollar agreement with the Department of Defense to launch new rockets for the Space Force. The remaining 60% went to United Launch Alliance.
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Posted: at 6:40 pm
After two weeks of delays, SpaceX delivered its 13th batch of controversial Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit this week (October 6, 2020).There are now 775 Starlink satellites in orbit. The 60 satellites launched this week are equipped with a sunshade called VisorSat in an effort to reduce their brightness. They were carried to orbit by a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, which blasted off from Pad 39A at NASAs Kennedy Space Center at 7:29 a.m. Eastern Time (11:29 UTC) on October 6. The Falcon 9 boosters first stage came back to Earth, landing on one of SpaceXs drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean, nine minutes after launch.
Poor weather conditions at Falcon 9s ocean recovery site had initially forced SpaceX to stand down from its first attempt to launch this particular Starlink mission one of multiple missions designed to provide satellite Internet access on September 17, 2020. Weather concerns also thwarted launch attempts on September 28 and October 5, while ground systems issues prevented the rocket from flying on October 1. However, the fifth time was the charm, and weather conditions finally cooperated for a smooth launch on October 6. Onlookers cheered as the Falcon 9 rocket leapt off the pad, signaling an end to the series of launch aborts and weather scrubs that have recently plagued the Space Coast.
The booster powering the October 6 launch is a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage that the company has identified as B1058.3. This booster, now with three flights under its belt, previously carried two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on May 30 as part of SpaceXs historic first crewed mission. The rocket then lofted a communications satellite for South Koreas military in July. Emblazoned with NASAs iconic worm logo, still visible underneath the boosters scorched appearance from its two trips to space and back, B1058 made its landing on the deck of the SpaceX drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, which was waiting out in the Atlantic Ocean.
The successful launch and landing marks SpaceXs Falcon 9s 94th flight to date and 61st recovery of a Falcon first stage booster since SpaceX recovered their first one in 2015.The launch also came amid World Space Week 2020, which is celebrating the impact satellites have on everyday life.
SpaceXs Starlink megaconstellation is designed to provide global broadband coverage for high-speed internet access, particularly for people across the world in rural and remote areas. Its download speeds are currently going through a private beta-testing phase, but are now able to be extended to the public with broader participation. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted
Once these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll out a fairly wide public beta in northern U.S. and hopefully southern Canada.
Other countries to follow as soon as we receive regulatory approval.
Starlink controversy within the astronomy community. Despite the promise of high-speed broadband internet, SpaceX has taken criticism within the astronomical community for its Starlink satellites, due to their brightness and potential to disrupt observations of the night sky. The National Science Foundation and the American Astronomical Society released a report on the situation in August 2020. Discussions among more than 250 experts at the virtual Satellite Constellations 1 (SATCON1) workshop expressed concern that the bright train of satellites marching across the sky will hinder their observations.
In response, this is the third batch of Starlink satellites now that are outfitted with a blackened sunshade called VisorSat that the company hopes will reduce the satellites apparent brightness by reducing the amount of sunlight thats reflected. This is just one of the six suggestions proposed by the SATCON1 team. Initial efforts at mitigating the spacecrafts impact involved launching a prototype Starlink satellite later dubbed DarkSat earlier this year, which features a black antireflective coating. Recent ground-based observations of DarkSat in orbit found it half as bright as a standard Starlink satellite, which is a good improvement, according to experts, but still far from what astronomers say is needed. Jeremy Tregloan-Reed, a University of Antofagasta astronomer on the observational team that assessed the prototype, commented:
I would not consider DarkSat as a victory but instead a good step in the right direction.
The team compared DarkSat with a typical Starlink sibling using a 0.6-meter telescope at the Ckoirama Observatory in Chile and found that although DarkSats antireflective coating rendered it invisible to the naked eye, it remains far too bright to avoid interfering with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory now under construction in Chile and other major telescopes. Additionally, DarkSats darker color retains too much heat, so the company is sticking with the visor alternative instead.
Astronomers are hoping to observe VisorSat and compare it with DarkSat once observatories reopen following the Covid-19 shutdown. The Federal Communications Commission has currently granted SpaceX permission to launch as many as 12,000 of the flat-panel broadband satellites, but have indicated goals to send up to 30,000. With those plans as well as Amazons Project Kuiper aiming for 3,236 satellites and OneWeb, a now-bankrupt company recently acquired by the United Kingdom government, perhaps striving for 2,000 the scale of astronomys satellite-constellation problem will only increase.
A time-lapse image shows the passage of a Starlink satellite cluster, creating bright streaks through a telescopes field of view at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory of Chile in November 2019. Image via CTIO/ NOIRLab/ NSF/ AURA and DECam DELVE Survey.
Bottom line: After 2 weeks of delays, SpaceXs Falcon 9 rocket blasted off October 6, 2020, hauling a full stack of 60 Starlink VisorSat satellites. The rocket successfully landed at sea aboard a drone ship, just minutes later.
Read more:Astronomers Issue Report on the Effect of Satellite Constellations on Astronomy
Read more: SpaceX launches 60 starlink satellites and lands rocket at sea
San Antonio company working with military, SpaceX to move cargo anywhere in world in an hour or less – San Antonio Express-News
Posted: at 6:40 pm
A San Antonio company is partnering with the military and SpaceX to move cargo anywhere in the world in an hour using commercial spacecraft including vertical-landing rockets built in Texas.
U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for moving military personnel and equipment around the world, said its working with Exploration Architecture, or XArc, and Elon Musks SpaceX to develop rapid transportation through space capabilities.
XArc, with six employees, is responsible for determining whats needed on the ground to launch and land commercial spacecraft around the world.
The collaboration is the latest development in Texas still-expanding role in space travel and could help the U.S. military more quickly respond to threats and humanitarian crises around the world.
The aim is to use commercial space vehicles, including SpaceXs Starship, to deliver payloads anywhere in the world. Starship can carry loads of 220,000 pounds.
Our role is to understand the ground support infrastructure required to make it happen, XArc CEO Sam Ximenes said. What are the ground facilities and cargo standardizations so that it is seamlessly integrated into the (militarys) current logistics system.
His company is teaming with Houston engineering firm KBR to evaluate three types of rocket landing areas: rugged sites with no infrastructure, remote sites with limited support and mature sites that have established capabilities.
Related: NASA contractors stake out San Antonio's place in space
The nine-person team is considering the logistics, including fuel and cargo requirements, needed to support spacecraft around the world, Ximenes said.
Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload (170,900 pounds) anywhere on the globe in less than an hour, Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, head of U.S. Transportation Command, said in a statement. Think about that speed associated with the movement of transportation of cargo and people.
The companies could begin testing ground-support concepts as early as 2021.
In addition to SpaceXs Starship, XArcs study is looking at commercial space vehicles under development, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos Blue Horizon and Virgin Galactics Stratolaunch.
Founded in 2007, XArc specializes in space architecture and engineering, and it consults on designs for spaceports, space stations, planetary surface systems and terrestrial space-related facilities, the company website states.
On ExpressNews.com: A Grunt Style Reckoning: A look inside San Antonio apparel makers rowdy past, near-death experience and current leadership battle
For the past 75 years or so, we have been constrained to around 40,000 feet altitude and 600 miles per hour in our very fastest method of logistics delivery airlift, said Navy Vice Adm. Dee Mewbourne, deputy commander of U.S. Transportation Command.
Rockets traveling through space could speed cargo delivery by 10 times.
Its time to learn how our current strategies to project and sustain forces can evolve with a new mode of transportation, he said.
In addition to speed, commercial space lift eliminates en-route stops or air refueling, officials said in a statement. This capability has the potential to be one of the greatest revolutions in transportation since the airplane.
The no-cost agreement allows U.S. Transportation Command and the companies to exchange research and technology as they study the use of commercial space launches to move cargo around the globe. What the contractors glean from the project could help them secure future space-cargo contracts.
SpaceX currently is building and testing its Starship, which is 400 feet tall and 30 feet wide, in Boca Chica, near Port Isabel and South Padre Island.
SpaceX has launched Starship from Boca Chica on short hops to 500 feet. Its expected to launch to 60,000 feet in the next few weeks. However, SpaceX has not announced the date.
I had no sense for how fast SpaceX was moving, but I've received their update, and I can tell you they are moving very rapidly in this area, Lyons said.
SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.
Brandon Lingle writes for the Express-News through Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. ReportforAmerica.org. brandon.lingle@express- news.net
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Posted: at 6:40 pm
Only several hundred satellites into its planned mega-constellation of thousands, SpaceX's Starlink network appears to already be paying dividends for the company that wants to use it for funding eventual trips to the moon and Mars.
In batches of about 60 at a time, SpaceX has launched 13 successful Starlink missions from a mix of Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, boosting the internet-beaming network'ssize to 718 currently in orbit. That cadencemade the California-based company the world's largest satellite operator by volume last November.
Emergency personnel battling wildfires, a Native American tribe, and even the Department of Defense have all stepped up to express their interest in the broadband constellation designed tobypass complicated ground infrastructure.
The company's private beta testing program is moving ahead, too, with public access expected to open sometime late this year or early next year. The northern U.S. and southern Canada will be the first regions targeted for public testing.
A rendering of a SpaceX Starlink satellite in low-Earth orbit.(Photo: SpaceX)
CEO Elon Musk hasmade it clear that Starlink wasn't necessarily designed to compete with ground-based options already entrenchedin cities and suburbs. He sees potential in rural, on-the-go, and underserved customers.
In late September, for example, Washington state's Emergency Management Division took to social media to announce it had partneredwith SpaceX to provideinternet to emergency responders and residents in Malden, a town that lost 80% of its buildings towildfires, according to CNN.
"Happy to have the support of SpaceX s Starlink internet as emergency responders look to help residents rebuild the town of Malden," the division said on Twitter, noting the internet infrastructure had been destroyedas well. "Maldenis an area where fiber and most of the town burned down."
The division later confirmed that SpaceX provided the equipment primarily pizza box-sized ground terminals that look like mini satellite dishes free of charge.
About 350 mileswest of Malden, meanwhile, the Native American Hoh tribe also took to social mediato announce it too had entered into a Starlink partnership.
"What a difference high-speed internet can make," the Hoh tribe said on Twitter Wednesday."Our children can participate in remote learning, residents can access healthcare."
Before Starlink, the tribe said, it was only gettingspeeds of less than 1 Mbps. The low-Earth-orbit constellation, meanwhile, can deliverbeyond 100 Mbps if conditions are ideal.
"We felt like we'd been paddling up-river with a spoon on this," the tribe said. "SpaceX Starlink made it happen overnight."
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sits on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center with 60 Starlink internet satellites on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.(Photo: Craig Bailey / FLORIDA TODAY)
The military has taken notice of SpaceX's new satellite experience, too.
The Air Force, for example, has already awarded the company at least $28 million for testing internet connectivity while aircraft are in the skies. Then on Monday,Starlink scored a coup in the lucrative world of defense satellites when theSpace Development Agency chose SpaceX to develop and build four brand new spacecraft.
The company was awarded nearly $150 million for the "Tracking Layer Tranche 0Wide Field of View" program, part of theNational Defense Space Architecture. The satellites, launched sometime in or after 2022,will help detect and track ballistic missiles.
It marks the first military production order for SpaceX and, if all goes well, likely won't be the last the Tracking Layer is slated to grow much larger in the coming years. The company is expected to use its Seattle assembly line.
SpaceX was just one of two companies selected to build the missile-detecting satellites for the SDA. The other, also tasked with building four similar satellites for $193 million, will sound familiar to Space Coast residents:L3Harris.
Contact Emre Kelly at email@example.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly. Support space journalism by subscribing atfloridatoday.com/specialoffer/.
U of A Students to Host Virtual Panel Discussion With SpaceX and Boeing Engineers – University of Arkansas Newswire
Posted: at 6:40 pm
The University of Arkansas student chapter of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Women in Engineering invites the community to join them for a virtual panel of five engineers from SpaceX and Boeing as they share their experiences in the workforce.
The panel will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. Central Time.
The panelists will be Kaleigh Gerlich, Ruthie Gilman and Amanda Quan from Boeing and Liz Held and Zan Song from SpaceX. They'll be talking about their experience in the aerospace industry, diversity in the work environment and more.
Allison Rucker, an electrical engineering student and member of WIE, said all majors are invited to join especially those in industrial, electrical, aerospace, mathematics, and engineering sciences.
"We're excited to host this panel discussion," she said. "Aerospace is important because many advancements that have been made go beyond the what many people would think. Recent advances in things like solar panels and firefighter gear all have roots in the aerospace industry."
Rucker and her team hope students will be able apply tips from the panelists to their own lives.
"We want this event to make an impact," she said. "We feel lucky to get the opportunity to hear from these five engineers and hope the UA community will join us."
The panel will be held on Blackboard. To join, click here: https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/e47d7e2577c14b81b4f5a4e71742e9a3
About the Panelists:
Kaleigh Gerlich is a Technical Lead Engineer at Boeing in Seattle. She has experience working on both commercial and military derivative airplanes and has a broad technical background including propulsion, fuel systems, aerodynamics, test, and systems engineering. Gerlich has a master's in aerospace engineering from the University of Washington and a dual Bachelors in Aeronautical & Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Outside of work, Gerlich enjoys running, reading, baking, sailing, and volunteering in her community.
Ruthie Gilman graduated with her B.S.E.E. from Seattle University in 2004. She works for Boeing Commercial Airplanes as a senior lead for 777X Electrical Design. Over her 15 years-plusexperience she has worked on other commercial aircraft like the 787, consulted on electrical designs for multiple commercial and military vehicles and helped develop new processes and tools for designing the integrated wiring for aircraft. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, playing video games, volunteering with local German Shepherds rescues and reading.
Held graduated with a bachelor's in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University in December 2017. At Purdue, she was an engineering co-op at General Motors and dida couple of internships at Tesla at the Fremont, California, factory. She went straight to SpaceX after graduating and worked as a technical writer for two years. She wrote the manufacturing instructions for machining, inspecting, and spin forming metallic nozzles and domes for Falcon structures, Merlin engines, and Dragon subtanks.
Held then moved on to become a manufacturing engineer, responsible for building ground station antennas that connect SpaceX Starlink satellites to the fiber internet backhaul. She designed the production system, owned the build process, designed tools, and ran the electro-mechanical troubleshooting for the antennas. Held applied techniques such as design-for-manufacturability and lean manufacturing to reduce labor hours to meet our production rate targets. The antenna builds moved to Starlink HQ in Seattle, so she moved on to be the manufacturing engineer for Falcon Vertical Barrel Integration, where they install hardware to segments of the Falcon rocket before welding them into each 1st and 2nd stage. Outside of work, most of her hobbies have been robbed by the pandemic but she has been getting by with watching movies, making cocktails, thrifting, reading by the pool, and trying new things.
Quan studied electrical engineering and mathematics at Seattle University and went on to pursue a master's degree in electrical engineering at the University of Washington. She started work for Boeing in 2005, spending most of her time in Electrical Power testing with a short stint in the wind tunnels. Working through 787, 777X, and NMA programs, she has experience in leading design and test teams through systems integration and certification of the power system. Currently, she is working to expand her knowledge regarding Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and its applications to airplane design.
After graduating from Dartmouth College with a bachelor's degree in engineering sciences in May 2017, Songwent straight to work for SpaceX. In her first role, shewas a Falcon build reliability engineer, and she owned a final technical review of all build instructions and product deviations of high-risk subassemblies. Song drove reduction of defect rates, escapes and issue labor. I also evaluated risk, drove rework for fleet-wide containments and defined the containment risk analysis process. Fun fact, she hasresolved the highest number of product deviations of all engineers in company history.
In early 2020, Song moved to work for the program management team of Starship as an integration and test engineer. In her new role, she establishes and stabilizes new processes for critical path projects outside the scope of defined engineering teams in analysis, integration, test and program management. Shealso identifies long-term process owners and ensures the allocation of resources for the transition to steady-state. Outside of work, Song loves to hike, climb, rollerblade, and camp.
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Posted: at 6:40 pm
Russia is getting into the reusable rocket game.
The nation's space agency, Roscosmos, announced last week that it aims to develop a two-stage rocket called the Amur, whose first stage will return to Earth for vertical, powered landings like those performed by SpaceX's Falcon 9 boosters.
Indeed, the Amur bears a remarkable resemblance to the Falcon 9, down to the stabilizing grid fins on the rocket's first stage and the desire to launch each booster up to 100 times eventually.
Related: The history of rockets
There are differences, however. For example, the Amur will be considerably smaller and less powerful than the Falcon 9, standing just 180 feet (55 meters) tall with the ability to loft 11.6 tons (10.5 metric tons) of payload to low-Earth orbit (LEO). The Falcon 9 is 230 feet (70 m) tall and can deliver 25.1 tons (22.8 metric tons) to LEO, according to the rocket's SpaceX spec sheet.
The Amur's first stage will feature five engines, according to the Roscosmos announcement, compared to the Falcon 9's nine. And whereas the Falcon 9's Merlin engines are powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene, those of the Amur which have yet to be built will swap kerosene out for methane. (There are yet more SpaceX parallels here, though: SpaceX's next-generation Raptor engine, which will power the company's Starship vehicle, is methane-fueled.)
The Amur will launch from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Amur region (hence its name). Landings of the reusable first stage will take place at several sites, which are still being determined, Roscosmos officials said. The agency is currently not planning to conduct any touchdowns on floating platforms, as SpaceX does with its two "drone ships," because the neighboring Sea of Okhotsk is notoriously rough. But that option will remain open going forward.
The plan calls for the Amur to be developed for no more than 70 billion rubles (about $900 million US at current exchange rates), fly for the first time in 2026 and feature a per-launch cost of $22 million, Roscosmos officials said. For comparison, a Falcon 9 mission with a completely new rocket currently goes for about $60 million, and one with a used first stage is about $50 million.
"If all the key indicators of the Amur program are implemented, we plan to provide the majority of commercial launches in the light and medium class with our new rocket," Alexander Bloshenko, Roscosmos executive director for long-term programs and science, said in the statement.
The Amur's development timeline may make it tough to accomplish this goal, however, even if everything goes according to plan. SpaceX is already test-flying early prototypes of Starship, a huge, fully reusable vehicle that company founder and CEO Elon Musk believes has the potential to revolutionize spaceflight via ultralow launch costs.
"It's a step in the right direction, but they should really aim for full reusability by 2026. Larger rocket would also make sense for literal economies of scale. Goal should be to minimize cost per useful ton to orbit or it will at best serve a niche market," Musk said via Twitter last week, referring to the Amur plan (and in response to a tweet by Ars Technica's Eric Berger.)
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.
Posted: at 6:39 pm
Vertex might be the dominant force in cystic fibrosis, but there is still a small subset of patients in whom the companys drugs are not effective. Companies developing inhaled RNA-targeting projects, including Ionis, Arrowhead and Translate Bio, are hoping to reach the patients that Vertex cannot.
Potentially promising phase I data on Ioniss IONIS-ENAC-2.5Rx, reported yesterday, suggest this project as one to watch, though full results, due later this month, will be needed to gauge the assets chances properly. Meanwhile, phase I/II trials of Arrowhead and Translates candidates are set to read out next year.
CF is caused by mutations in the CFTR gene, which in turn leads to a defective and/or missing CFTR protein, which is vital for chloride transport. The result is the poor flow of salt and water into and out of cells in organs including the lung, and a build-up of a thick, sticky mucus.
Vertex has made strides with its CFTR modulators, but even its most advanced drug, the triplet Trikafta, can only treat 90% of the population.
The hope now is that new therapies could be effective in the remaining 10% of CF patients, who have a so-called nonsense mutation that essentially leads to no functional CFTR protein being produced.
Some of the projects, including those being developed by Arrowhead and Ionis, could also act synergistically with CFTR modulators.
Both assets are designed to reduce activity of the epithelial sodium channel (Enac) in the lung, as CTFR dysfunction also causes increased Enac activity, which is thought to contribute to airway dehydration. Ionis is using an antisense oligonucleotide, while Arrowhead is employing RNA interference.
Notably, Vertex already tried to inhibit Enac with small molecules licensed from Parion Sciences. But after the lead project, VX-371, fell short in clinical trials, Vertex returned rights to the smaller group at the beginning of this year.
According to Arrowhead, the development of inhaled small molecule Enac inhibitors was limited by on-target renal toxicity and short duration of action in the lung.
In August, that company started a phase I/II study of its candidate, ARO-ENaC, in up to 24 healthy volunteers and up to 30 CF patients. The primary endpoint is safety, but the trial will also evaluate various exploratory efficacy endpoints in CF patients including changes in lung clearance index and forced expiratory volume.
Ionis is slightly further ahead, having reported somephase I data yesterday with IONIS-ENAC-2.5Rx. However, there is not much to go on: all the company has said is that in healthy volunteers given 75mg there was a mean 56% reduction in Enac mRNA expression and that this was statistically significant, withp<0.05.
The company also noted that, in mouse models, Enac mRNA reductions of 40% or more led to improvement in CF lung disease.
But it is data in humans that matter, and investors will be watching for full presentation of the results, due at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference, taking place virtually on October 21-23.
Stifel analysts raised several key questions, including whether any toxicity issues arose and whether the reduction in Enac expression, measured via bronchial cell brushings, was representative of what is happening across the lung.
Both projects could also have utility in other lung diseases like COPD; indeed, Ionis is already planning a phase II trial here.
Translate Bio, meanwhile, also hopes that its lead project, MRT5005, could be used in all CF patients, regardless of their mutation. But it is taking a different approach: the asset is designed to deliver mRNA encoding a fully functional CTFR protein to the lungs.
The group reported interim results from the single-ascending dose portion of its phase I/II trial in CF patients last year; data from the multiple-ascending dose portion had been due in 2020, but the trial was stopped earlier this year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Enrolment and dosing resumed last month, but Translate has not yet provided updated timelines for data.
For now, Translate is the lead mRNA player in CF, but there are a couple of other projects in preclinical development. Notably, Vertex and Moderna extended their research collaboration in CF in September. Given Vertexs success in the largerCF market, it might be too soon to count the company out completely.
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