- Blue Origin creates six more astronauts
- SpaceX teams up with OneWeb
- Seraphim Space piles into Pixxel
Blue Origin: Space tourists aplenty
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin successfully completed its fourth tourist flight to space on Thursday, marking the increasing accessibility of space – to the few that can afford it.
Bezos, who made his fortune via e-commerce giant Amazon, took six passengers into space in a trip of a lifetime, which lasted just 10 minutes and four seconds.
Thursday’s launch was the 20th mission for New Shepard, Blue Origin’s reusable suborbital rocket system named after astronaut Alan Shepard.
The passengers pushed just past the Karman line, the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.
The crew, made up of five paying customers, included Blue Origin chief architect Gary Lai, businessman Marty Allen, real estate developer Marc Hagle and his wife Sharon Hagle, entrepreneur Jim Kitchen, and Dr. George Nield, president of Commercial Space Technologies.
Comedian Pete Davidson was also supposed to be on the flight, but he dropped out of the plans earlier this month.
SpaceX: Not only doing the hard things
SpaceX boss Elon Musk said earlier this week that his space venture will “do the right thing for OneWeb”, despite the UK satellite company rivalling its Starlink space broadband service.
Taxpayer-backed OneWeb abandoned the launch of 36 satellites via Russian Soyuz rockets in March, following the invasion of Ukraine in late February.
OneWeb and SpaceX instead decided to team up, to get OneWebs tech into the sky, on board of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket later this year.
Musk on Wednesday tweeted: “SpaceX will do the right thing for OneWeb, even though they are a competitor.”
Negotiations between the pair reportedly took just 72 hours.
In a statement, following the deal’s announcement, OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said: “We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision for the boundless potential of space.
“With these launch plans in place, we’re on track to finish building out our full fleet of satellites and deliver robust, fast, secure connectivity around the globe.”
Seraphim: Doing the rounds
London-listed space investment fund Seraphim has this week piled into a $25m (£19m) funding round for earth-imaging tech firm Pixxel.
Pixxel, a US and Indian manufacturer, has tabled plans to launch a more than 30-strong constellation of microsatellites into a sun-synchronous orbit, strictly for observation.
The Series A, led by Toronto-based Radical Ventures, saw Lightspeed Partners, Blume Ventures, Sparta and Jordan Noone invest in the firm.
“We’re committed to providing a critical tool in the fight against climate change, helping researchers and on-the-ground responders detect and develop effective strategies to combat imminent environmental threats,” CEO and co-founder Awais Ahmed said.
“This funding will not only assist us with this goal but will help us improve our software capabilities so that organizations of all sizes can access and understand this data.”
The satellite firm will launch the first of its satellites in SpaceX’s Transporter-4 mission in April.
“Our investment in Pixxel reflects Seraphim’s increasing commitment and focus on companies that can provide the frequent and accurate data needed to create a sustainable future on earth,” investment manager at Seraphim Space, Lewis Jones said.
“Pixxel’s constellation will be vital for applications such as monitoring the health of crops, measuring climate risks such as floods and famine, and detecting pipeline leaks. Seraphim’s investment is set to fuel the company’s next stage of growth and we’re excited to be part of something so revolutionary.”