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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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NASA astronaut set to launch on Russian rocket as US transitions to private spacecraft

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A new crew of three astronauts are launching to the International Space Station late tonight, blasting off on a Russian Soyuz rocket out of Kazakhstan. The trio are heading to the station about a month ahead of SpaceX’s next crewed Dragon launch, which will bring another set of four astronauts aboard the ISS in mid-November.

Heading up on this Soyuz flight are two Russian cosmonauts — Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov — and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, on her second trip to space. The trio will join three crew members who have been living on the ISS since April: Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. However, their living arrangement won’t last long. Cassidy and his cosmonaut crew mates are slated to head back to Earth on October 21st, riding inside the Soyuz capsule that brought them to the space station.

Just a few weeks later, in early- to mid-November, Rubins and her team are set to welcome the four-member crew of SpaceX’s first operational Crew Dragon mission, called Crew-1. That flight will carry three NASA astronauts — Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker — and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the ISS for a six-month stay. Their arrival on SpaceX’s new passenger vehicle will bring the total population of the ISS to seven — a larger cohort than usual for the ISS, which has typically held six-person crews since the end of the Space Shuttle program.

Rubins’ flight on the Soyuz comes amid a time of transition in NASA’s human spaceflight program. Since the last flight of the Space Shuttle in 2011, the only way NASA astronauts could get to the station was on Russia’s Soyuz rocket. But through NASA’s Commercial Crew

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Mini moon called 2020 SO to orbit Earth may be NASA Surveyor 2 rocket

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CLOSE

One cosmic rock a half-mile wide could change our planet forever, unless we spot it well-ahead of time.

USA TODAY

An asteroid likely to get caught in Earth’s orbit and become a “mini moon” for several months may in fact not be an asteroid at all.

Dubbed 2020 SO, the object is on track to be pulled into Earth’s orbit in the coming weeks and circle the planet until it returns to its own track.

But instead of being space rock, experts think it is actually part of a rocket from a failed moon-landing mission in 1966.

“I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The Associated Press. “It’s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I’ve been doing it for decades now.”

Mini moons – objects that temporarily orbit Earth – are rare. While more have likely occurred over history, only two have been confirmed: one from 2006 to 2007 and another discovered earlier this year that was in orbit from 2018 to 2020, according to space and astronomy news outlet Universe Today.

While those mini moons were space rocks, 2020 SO has a few characteristics that make scientists skeptical.

Its orbit is nearly a circle, similar to Earth’s, and is not tilted, on the same plane as Earth. The object is also moving much slower than scientists would expect a similar asteroid to move.

“The velocity seems to be a big one,” space archaeologist Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia told science news outlet ScienceAlert. “What I’m seeing is that it’s just moving too slowly, which reflects its initial velocity. That’s essentially a big giveaway.”

The object was discovered by a telescope in Hawaii

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SpaceX’s next astronaut mission for NASA has been pushed to November following an issue with its rocket engines

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Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover, Soichi Noguchi that are standing in the snow: From left: mission specialist Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on September 24, 2020. SpaceX


© SpaceX
From left: mission specialist Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on September 24, 2020. SpaceX

  • NASA’s next mission with SpaceX will launch “no sooner than early-to-mid November,” the agency announced Saturday.
  • That mission, called Crew-1, will ferry four astronauts to the International Space Station and back.
  • The launch was previously slated for Halloween. The delay allows SpaceX to investigate an issue with its Falcon 9 rocket engines.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NASA’s four-astronaut team will have to wait a little longer to visit the International Space Station. The agency announced Saturday that Crew-1, its joint mission with SpaceX, won’t take off until at least early-to-mid November.

The mission was previously scheduled for 2:40 a.m. ET on October 31. The latest delay allows SpaceX to evaluate an issue with its Falcon 9 rocket engines during a recent test launch. The rocket’s gas generators demonstrated abnormal behavior, NASA said in a statement, though it didn’t specify what went wrong.

SpaceX aborted a scheduled launch of its Falcon 9 rocket on October 2 after a gas generator saw an unexpected rise in pressure.


Falcon 9's first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines at the bottom of the rocket. NASA


© NASA
Falcon 9’s first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines at the bottom of the rocket. NASA

This isn’t the first time SpaceX has delayed Crew-1, the company’s first official, contracted astronaut mission for NASA. The mission was originally slated to launch as early as September. It was pushed back until Halloween to better coordinate with the schedules of other cosmonauts and astronauts going to and from the ISS. 

NASA said it could have more information on the engine problem in a matter of days. 

“The teams are actively working this finding on the engines,” Kathy Lueder, associate

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College Football Power Rankings: North Carolina, Texas A&M rocket upwards after top 25 wins

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CBS Sports graphic

If you didn’t believe it before, you’d better believe it now: Defense is all but extinct. It certainly seemed that way on a weekend where 31 of the 58 teams playing scored at least 30 points.

That shouldn’t be surprising because the average FBS team is scoring 30.3 points per game in 00. If that holds up, it would be a record.

Adding to the fun …

  • Ole Miss and Alabama combined for the most yards ever in a regulation SEC game.
  • Texas and Oklahoma played in the highest-scoring Red River Showdown, which went to four overtimes.
  • Texas A&M beat a top five team (Florida) for the first time since 2002. The Aggies needed 41 points to do it.

What that means for this week’s biggest game is fascinating. Alabama just rolled up its most yards ever on Ole Miss. It now hosts Georgia, which is No. 2 nationally in total defense. I’m sensing something similar to nuclear fission where everything around that clash is reduced to ash, especially if Nick Saban needs his offense to run up 743 yards to win.

“I’m not really calm,” Saban said after surviving Ole Miss, 63-48. “I’m boiling and bubbling, trying to be encouraging to the players.”

First, he has to settle down himself if recent history repeats. The Crimson Tide have given up at least 42 points three times in the last eight games. Before that, Alabama gave up 42 points three times in the prior 65 games.

Editor’s note: Teams from the five conferences not yet playing in the 2020 college football season will be eligible for the Power Rankings beginning Monday, Oct. 19.

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Clemson

The trees wasted on newsprint chronicling whether Clemson will finally be challenged in the ACC could

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