0

San Antonio company working with military, SpaceX to move cargo anywhere in world in an hour or less

Posted on

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 it’s working with Exploration Architecture, or XArc, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop “rapid transportation through space” capabilities.

XArc, with six employees, is responsible for determining what’s 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 SpaceX’s 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 (military’s) current logistics system.”

Sam Ximenes is chief executive of XArc. His company is teaming with Houston engineering firm KBR to evaluate three types of rockets.

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

0

Augmented reality goggles could help military dogs find bombs, chemicals

Posted on

Oct. 6 (UPI) — Researchers have developed augmented reality goggles that would allow handlers to give commands to military working dogs while staying out of harm’s way.

The military often uses dogs to scout areas for explosive devices and hazardous materials and to assist in rescue operations.

But working dogs need handlers who can give them commands while they work — typically by using hand signals or laser pointers, which can pose a safety risk by providing a light source.

Being present to give those commands can put soldiers in harm’s way, and generating a light source can also be dangerous in some situations.

Handlers have tried audio communication — using a camera and walkie talkie placed on the dog — but the verbal commands can be confusing for the dog.

So researchers funded by the Army’s Small Business Innovation Research program and managed by the Army Research Office have developed goggles dogs can wear while working — and get directional commands from soldiers working elsewhere.

The first prototype was built by Command Sight, a Seattle-based company started in 2017 by A.J. Peper to bridge human-animal communication.

The goggles are tailored to fit each dog and have a visual indicator that lets the dog be directed to a specific spot by responding to a visual cue in the goggles, using input from a soldier, who can see everything the dog sees while using a separate device.

“Augmented reality works differently for dogs than for humans,” said Dr. Stephen Lee, a senior scientist with the Army Research Office. “AR will be used to provide dogs with commands and cues; it’s not for the dog to interact with it like a human does. This new technology offers us a critical tool to better communicate with military working dogs.”

The prototype is wired