'What we're going to need to live and work in space' - Politico - Canadanewsmedia
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'What we're going to need to live and work in space' – Politico

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When Rob Meyerson took over as president of Blue Origin in 2003, the upstart spacecraft company had just 10 employees. When he left a year ago to establish his own management consulting firm, the workforce had grown to more than 1,500.

Now the aerospace engineer has a new focus: enlisting construction firms, mining companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and even the hospitality industry to begin thinking about the role they can play in the economic development of the moon — or as he puts it, “What we need to live and work in space.”

“I think when you look to the middle of the next decade you’re going to have commercial space stations, commercial transport from Earth to low-Earth orbit and from low-Earth orbit to lunar orbit, and commercial transport to the surface of the moon,” says Meyerson. “And I think that infrastructure is going to form the basis for a marketplace where other companies start to build businesses on top of that.”

To help carry forward the vision, Meyerson is also helping to organize an effort by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics that is kicking off next year to convene non-space companies who will be needed to help develop a more mature space economy.

Meyerson also spoke to POLITICO about what he sees as some of the major obstacles to investing in public and private space development – as well as his fears that if America doesn’t get serious it could be outpaced by new and innovative competitors.

“I really do believe that we have to kind of focus in and start to produce again,” he says. “We’ve gotten out of the habit of delivering on promises. If we continue to go the way we have in the recent past we do run the risk of losing what is a significant lead in space technology. And I think that that can be very dangerous.”

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about your new firm Delalune Space.

I spent the last 15 years at Blue Origin as president and led the company from its start as an engineering company. Blue was a think tank prior to my getting there. There were about 10 people there when I joined it. I worked for Jeff Bezos and led the company from about 10 people to 1,500. Prior to that I was at NASA ‘s Johnson Space Center and at Kistler Aerospace. So really I have been in the commercial space industry for 23 years now.

I formed Delalune Space to steer toward my long term vision of developing space and using the resources on the moon, using space resources to lower costs and ultimately to bring in adjacent markets, non-space markets, and try to help attract some of the companies to the space industry that we’re going to need to grow the space industry over time.

What types of “adjacent markets” are we talking about?

What we’re going to need to live and work in space — mining companies, construction companies, companies that’ll utilize resources like manufacturing, pharmaceutical materials development, healthcare. But also hospitality, food and beverage, and agriculture. Ultimately, roads on the surface of moon, landing pads, the power infrastructure we’re going to need to support resource utilization.

I think when you look to the middle of the next decade you’re going to have commercial space stations, commercial transport from Earth to low Earth orbit and from low Earth orbit to lunar orbit, and commercial transport to the surface of the moon — all sort of funded in a combination of public,-private partners. And I think that infrastructure is going to form the basis for a marketplace where other companies start to build businesses on top of that. I think that’s very exciting.

You are partnering with AIAA on their ASCEND Forum?

It stands for Accelerating Space Commerce, Exploration, and New Discovery. It’s going to be an annual event and it starts in November of 2020. It’ll be held in Las Vegas. This will be different from your classic conferences. It’s not going to be just a bunch of space professionals talking to each other. We’re bringing in these adjacent markets. We want to bring in the investment community, we want to bring in the business community, and we want to bring in these markets like I mentioned earlier — hospitality, mining, agriculture, infrastructure, construction, telecommunications.

The other difference between ASCEND and other conferences is it is going to be outcomes focused. We’ll have working groups designed to generate position papers, white papers, policy constructs, projects that we can do, or we’ll form a working group that will go off over a period of months or years to solve a problem — to figure out what is it going take to build this business or this idea and the roadblocks that are in the way.

What are some of the biggest roadblocks to space development you envision?

Funding is an obvious one. That’s something we’ve always had and always will have. Single individuals are not going to pay for this. It’s going to cost tens to hundreds of billions of dollars to settle space.

I think there are some policy roadblocks like space mining property rights. Space traffic management is another one — operating launch vehicles with aircraft in the national airspace and managing both launch vehicles and satellites from low-Earth orbit and all the way up to cislunar space eventually.

How do you see the United States stacking up against China and other nations with big goals?

Right now I see us arguing over a lot of things. For example, should we go to the moon or should we go to Mars? Should we do it with humans or do it robotically? Should we add a Gateway or go straight to the moon? I think all the arguing doesn’t add any value. We need to do all of it.

I really do believe that we have to kind of focus in and start to produce again. We’ve gotten out of the habit of delivering on promises. If we continue to go the way we have in the recent past we do run the risk of losing what is a significant lead in space technology. And I think that that can be very dangerous.

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Look up! Northern lights to dance across Canada overnight – CTV News

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TORONTO – Forecasters say the northern lights will be unusually vibrant and visible Wednesday night and early Thursday morning across almost all of Canada.

This is because energy from a solar storm is expected to hit the earth Wednesday night, amplifying the usual aurora borealis.

According to the aurora forecast from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Canadians in cities including Edmonton and Winnipeg will see dazzling displays from the natural phenomenon, if the skies are clear.

The entire country will, weather permitting, potentially be able to see the lights low on the horizon. So will people in U.S. cities such as Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Seattle.

Based on midday forecasts, cloud cover blocking the lights looked to be a serious concern in Winnipeg and Halifax, less serious in places such as Edmonton and Toronto, and not a concern at all in Vancouver and Montreal.

However, skywatchers whose plans are foiled by clouds on Wednesday may not be out of luck.

While the aurora borealis is expected to recede from its peak by Thursday night, it will still be visible in many of the same areas. People in parts of Nova Scotia, southern Ontario and Vancouver Island, however, will not be expected to see any sort of repeat performance.

Anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the northern lights should head to a dark location far from the lights of the city, as light pollution can obscure the aurora. Peak viewing conditions are typically between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. local time, although the aurora can be visible anytime between sunset and sunrise.

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New SpaceX Starship prototype pops its top during test… literally – CNET

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Starship Mk1 experienced a bit of rapid disassembly.


LabPadre/Screenshot by CNET

It looks as though a little re-assembly may be required on the biggest prototype yet of Elon Musk’s Mars Starship

The early version of the next generation SpaceX rocket appeared to fail during a pressurization test, sending billowing clouds of gas and its hood miles into the air at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas test site on Wednesday.

A webcam streaming from nearby South Padre Island caught the “anomaly” that occurred at 3:27 p.m. Central Time.

A more distant view catches the sizable hood falling back to the ground:

“The purpose of today’s test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected,” a SpaceX spokesperson told CNET. “There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback.”

Fortunately, SpaceX also has another prototype – “Mk2” – at its Florida facilities, so we may still see the next phase of Starship development soon.   

On Twitter, Musk said SpaceX will take the opportunity to move on to its next iteration, “Mk3,” which he says will have a more advanced flight design.

It’s important to remember this in no way dooms Starship’s development and it’s not clear how much it may set the program back, if at all. It seems, however, that Mk1 is pretty much old news now with a SpaceX spokesperson telling CNET ” the decision had already been made to not fly this test article and the team is focused on the Mk3 builds, which are designed for orbit.”

The previous single-engine prototype, dubbed “Starhopper,” successfully performed a few very short hops, topping out at 150 meters (492 feet) earlier this year.  


Now playing:
Watch this:

SpaceX aces Starhopper rocket test

2:41

Updated 4:22 p.m. PT: Adds comment from SpaceX spokesperson.

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Six tips to get great photos of the northern lights tonight – County Weekly News

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Northern lights along the Red Deer River west of Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday March 18, 2015.

Mike Drew / Postmedia

The stars are aligning for a potentially great northern lights show in the skies above Calgary Wednesday night.

The aurora forecast from the University of Alaska is predicting activity of 4-to-5 out of 9 on the KP index, with anything 5 or above being considered a geomagnetic storm.

The predicted activity, coupled with a forecast of clear skies for Alberta and an early sunset means the odds of seeing the lights tonight are in your favour.

While seeing the northern lights should be on every Canadian’s bucket list, you’re going to want some photos of that potentially once-in-a-lifetime event.

We spoke with two seasoned photographers about their tips for capturing a solid shot of the aurora.

Get outta town

Postmedia photographer Mike Drew said getting away from light pollution will make all the difference.

“The best direction to go is northeast of the city, because there’s less light pollution out that way,” he said. “So out towards Beiseker or Irricana.”

Freelance photographer Christy Turner agreed with Drew, but noted it’s not impossible to see them from within the city.

“It definitely is possible, but you want to go somewhere where there’s little light pollution,” she said.


Christy Turner captured this amazing shot from a balcony in Mission, proving it is possible to get good northern lights photos without leaving the city.

Christy Turner /

Christy Turner Photography

“Even Nose Hill is a great spot because you can definitely see it from Nose Hill.”

Turner said those in the deep south of the city could just drive 10 minutes west or east (preferably east) outside the city limits to find some darker skies.

Be sure to look to the north and northeast to see the lights if they’re out.

Use a DSLR

Drew said the really new cell phones might get you an image of the lights, but really you’ll want a DSLR camera.

“If (the northern lights are) quite bright, the new iPhone 11 or the newest Google pixel phone, they should both give you something at least, but it won’t be as good as a DSLR,” he said.

Long exposure is key

The trick with the aurora is to let as much light as possible hit the camera sensor. Turner said for those familiar with manual setting on a DSLR, they need to use their lowest f-stop, start at an ISO of 1600, and have an exposure time of 12 seconds.

Drew said 15 seconds is not too long an exposure time. He also recommends a wide-angle lens, if you have one.

Both photographers agree that a tripod is a must, and a remote trigger is great to have if you want crisp photos. Turner suggested an easy workaround for those who don’t have a trigger.

“You can just put it on the self-timer for three seconds, and that way there’s no motion on the photo.”

Add a subject

Drew said getting shots of the sky is easy enough, but a true artist will want to add something to the foreground to make their photos really pop.

“Something like a barn, or something without a big yard light in it, so that when you have the picture you know where you are,” he said.


Adding something to the foreground of your shot can take a northern lights photo to the next level.

Christy Turner /

Christy Turner Photography

Safety first

If you spot the lights while driving, it could be tempting to just pull over and get out your camera, but Drew cautions against that.

“You have to be in a place that’s really safe to park. Try to get off to side roads – the roads less traveled.”

Turner said dressing for the weather is also an important part of safety. She recommends bringing hand warmers and blankets just in case you end up stuck and waiting for someone to come pick you up.

Ask for help

If it’s photos you’re after, Turner said you’re not alone in Alberta.

“My top tip would be to join Alberta Aurora Chasers on Facebook because there’s over 24,000 members spread across Alberta,” she said. “If there’s anything happening, they always start a thread and reports will come in from all over the province.”

If you capture a great aurora photo tonight, we’d love to see them. Send submissions to online@postmedia.comand we’ll create a gallery.

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