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Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket Launches a New Line of Business

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West Texas is not quite like the moon. But it can serve as a handy stand-in.

On Tuesday, Blue Origin, the rocket company started by Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, launched — and landed — its small New Shepard rocket and capsule for the 13th time as part of tests to verify safety before any passengers climb aboard.

One day, this will be New Shepard’s main business: flying well-to-do people above the 62-mile altitude generally considered the beginning of outer space where they will experience a few minutes of weightlessness as the capsule arcs.

Blue Origin is not a new company — Mr. Bezos founded it in 2000 — but for most of its existence, it operated in secret without generating much revenue. Three years ago, Mr. Bezos said he was selling a billion dollars a year in Amazon stock to finance Blue Origin’s research and development. And he has declared broad ambitions for its business, such as competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and others in the orbital launch business, building a moon lander for NASA astronauts and eventually making it possible for millions of people to live and work in space.

But the cargo of Tuesday’s launch from a test site near Van Horn, Texas, shows that the company is finding a more modest business in the short term: turning the reusable New Shepard rocket and capsule into an effective, and profitable, platform for testing new technologies and performing scientific experiments.

“It was fantastic,” said Erika Wagner, Blue Origin’s payload sales director, who was in West Texas. “We were watching across the valley and watching the rocket climb up.”

Tucked under the collar at the top of the booster on Tuesday’s launch were prototypes of sensors that could help NASA astronauts safely reach the lunar surface

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Blue Origin launches, lands NASA moon landing sensor experiment

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Oct. 13 (UPI) — Blue Origin successfully launched a NASA moon landing experiment aboard the company’s reusable New Shepard rocket Tuesday morning in Texas.

Liftoff took place from the company’s launch facilities about 150 miles east of El Paso.

The capsule separated from the rocket minutes into the flight and spent about three minutes at the height of an arc just over the Kármán line, the altitude at which space begins.

The rocket booster, with NASA sensors mounted on the exterior, landed smoothly about 7 minutes, 30 seconds after launch. The capsule landed with the aid of parachutes a few minutes later, kicking up a cloud of dust and sand.

The NASA experiment is part of the agency’s Tipping Point program, which seeks to demonstrate technology that can be adopted by private industry.

The project includes a collection of sensors designed to help locate a safe site on the moon for upcoming landings, according to NASA and Blue Origin’s mission description. Some of the sensors use LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging technology, which uses laser light to map out the surface.

“A NASA-developed sensor suite could allow robotic and crewed missions to land precisely on the lunar surface within half the distance of a football field,” NASA said of the project. “The rocket’s flight path is relevant to lunar landings, providing a unique opportunity to mature sensors and algorithms for potential use on Artemis [moon] missions.”

Those sensors require clear skies to function properly, which is why the mission had been delayed once in September due to cloudy weather at the launch site. But Tuesday’s weather was ideal, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said.

“It’s a great day for us to actually try that new type of experimentation on the outside of the vehicle,” Smith said during a prelaunch

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Biden Widens Electoral College Lead Over Trump as Projection Shows Arizona, New Hampshire Shift Blue

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Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has increased his Electoral College lead over President Donald Trump, as a projection map shows Arizona and New Hampshire shifting blue.

The projection map, named Sabato’s Crystal Ball is created by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, and the election race ratings “are based on a number of factors, including electoral history, polling, candidate quality, modeling, and reporting,” according to the map.

The map shows Electoral College changes for three key swing states, including Arizona, New Hampshire and Georgia. According to the map, Arizona moved from a “toss up” to “leans Democratic,” New Hampshire moved from “leans Democratic” to “likely Democratic” and Georgia went from “leans Republican” to a “toss up.”

According to Ballotpedia.org, during the 2016 election, Trump won Arizona by 3.6 points but lost New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton by 0.3 points.

The shift to blue in Arizona and New Hampshire push Biden past 270 electoral votes needed as well as increasing his lead over the Republican president.

According to the map, Biden and the Democrats are projected 290 electoral votes, with 13 states listed as “safe Democratic,” six states listed as “likely Democratic and five states as “lean Democratic.”

In comparison, the map shows Trump and the Republicans having 163 electoral votes, with 13 states listed as “safe Republican,” seven states listed as “likely Republican” and just one state listed as “lean Republican.”

The remaining five states, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida are listed as a toss-ups.

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, speaks to the press before boarding his campaign plane at Wilmington Airport on October 8 in New Castle, Delaware. The increase in Biden’s Electoral College lead over Trump comes within a month till Election Day.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty

Last week, the Crystal Ball Electoral College projection map showed

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Halley’s Comet Meteors, Dazzling Mars And Halloween’s ‘Blue Moon’

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October is always a great month to go stargazing, and in 2020 it’s got some truly unmissable sights.

In the northern hemisphere October means longer nights, and when the clocks change it makes stargazing a possible in the early evening.

It’s also the month that the jewels of the winter night sky begin to return; the unmissable Andromeda Galaxy—the closest giant galaxy to our Milky Way—is becoming visible right after dark while towards the end of the month the sparkling Pleiades star cluster will rise in the east before midnight.

The planets are lingering. Jupiter and its four Galilean moons shine brightly in the southwest after dark with dimmer Saturn in tow, but this month it’s the turn of Mars to dominate post-sunset skies as it comes to opposition. Meanwhile, Venus sparkles in the pre-dawn skies.

MORE FROM FORBESWhat’s That Really Bright ‘Star’ In The Night Sky?

Insert a couple of meteor showers—one that’s visible right after sunset and another caused by none other than Halley’s Comet—and you’ve got a busy celestial month that deserves an intriguing finale.

Cue a rare “Halloween Hunter’s Blue Moon” on October 31, 2020, which will be best caught at Moonrise.

Here’s exactly what you need to know about when, where and how to catch October 2020’s stargazing highlights:

1. Draconids meteor shower

When: Anytime after dark on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Where to look: all-sky

Most meteor showers are at their best around midnight when the viewer is firmly on the night-side of the planet. Not so the Draconids meteor shower, which peaks tonight and is best seen right after dark.

The calling card of a short-period comet called 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, which was last in the Solar System

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Harvest moon tonight and a rare blue moon on Halloween

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As if 2020 isn’t weird enough, it’s a year with 13 full moons rather than 12 — and two of these will occur in October.





© NASA


October’s first full moon is the harvest moon on October 1, and the second full moon will occur on October 31. That’s right: a full moon on Halloween.

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The full harvest moon will rise at 5:05 pm ET on October 1. The name is given to the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. While this full moon usually occurs in September, a full moon on September 2 was too early to be known as the harvest moon. In 2019, the full harvest moon occurred on Friday, September 13.

The full harvest moon provides light for farmers harvesting their crops into the night, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

The moon will appear full for about three days, according to NASA.

October will also close with a full moon on Halloween — the rare full Halloween blue hunter’s moon.

While the moon won’t actually look blue, the second full moon in one month is usually referred to as a blue moon. This happens every 2.5 to three years, or “once in a blue moon.”

Previously, a blue moon was known as the third or fourth full moon in a single season.

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Typically, the next moon after the harvest moon is known as the hunter’s moon — when hunters used moonlight to hunt prey and prepare for winter.

While a blue moon seems rare, a full moon on Halloween across time zones is even more rare — an event that hasn’t occurred since 1944.

However, a full moon occurs on