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Company Plans

Company plans space tourism flights in high-altitude balloon – CBS News

Researchers, armchair astronauts and even brides and grooms looking for an out-of-this-world wedding experience will be able to celebrate, collect data or simply enjoy the view from an altitude of 100,000 feet in a balloon-borne pressurized cabin, complete with a bar and a restroom, a space startup announced Thursday.

“Spaceship Neptune,” operated by a company called Space Perspective from leased facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, will carry eight passengers at a time on six-hour flights. The passenger cabin, lifted by a huge hydrogen-filled balloon, will climb at a sedate 12 mph to an altitude of about 30 miles high. That will be followed by a slow descent to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean where a recovery ship will be standing by to secure the cabin and crew.

Test flights carrying scientific research payloads are expected to begin in 2021. The first flights carrying passengers are expected within the next three-and-a-half years or so, with piloted test flights before that.

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Space tourists enjoy the view from 100,000 feet in this artist’s impression of a ride aloft in Space Perspective’s balloon-borne “Neptune” crew cabin.

Space Perspective


While the company initially will operate out of the Florida spaceport, the system could be launched from multiple sites around the world, with Hawaii and Alaska near-term possibilities.

Ticket prices for crewed flights have not yet been set, but company officials said Thursday the initial cost will probably be in the neighborhood of $125,000 per passenger. That’s about half what space tourists can expect to pay for sub-orbital flights aboard rocket-powered spaceplanes like those being developed by Virgin Galactic, which are designed to reach altitudes of more than 50 miles.

Spaceship Neptune will fly well under that altitude and passengers will not experience weightlessness, but they will still be above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere, nearly twice as high as the supersonic Concorde once flew. And unlike shorter sub-orbital rocket flights that only spend a few minutes at the top of their trajectory, Neptune passengers will enjoy two hours at peak altitude, taking in the view through large, wrap-around windows.

“One of the amazing things about the design we’e been able to work up is the ability to have events, things like weddings, corporate events. I can’t wait to see spiritual leaders flying with political leaders,” said Space Perspective founder and co-CEO Taber MacCallum.

“I think we’re going to see a wide variety of flights. Science flights are going to be really interesting, mixing tourism and science. The imagination runs wild. We’re getting lots of interest in all types of great ideas.”

Space Perspective has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA and the company has arranged to lease a facility at the 3-mile-long runway once used by returning space shuttles. Neptune flights will be regulated by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Spaceflight.

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An artist’s impression of a Space Perspective balloon and crew module high above Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. The company plans to begin test flights from the Kennedy Space Center next year.

Space Perspective


“Space Perspective is bringing a fundamentally new capability to the Cape, which will enhance the offering we have in Florida for space-related research and tourism,” Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said in a statement. “Its presence here in Florida creates not just job and supply chain opportunities, but opportunities for civilian astronauts to experience this planet Earth from the edge of space, a privilege previously available to only a few.”

MacCallum and co-CEO Jane Poynter said extensive market research showed untapped interest in such flights across a broad spectrum of users.

“When we take all the people that we want to take to the edge of space, we want them to really be able to experience what astronauts talk about, seeing the Earth in space (and) doing it comfortably, gently and accessibly,” Poynter said during a teleconference.

“There’ll be eight people at a time, with a crew member in the capsule. And of course, you’ll be able to connect with your friends on the ground. And we’ll have some really great communication systems so that we can have all kinds of live events up there as well. The whole capsule has been designed to be really flexible to allow for all kinds of things to go on and up in the space environment.”

As for weddings, she said Neptune will provide “the best place to get married, ever.”

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Company Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh company to deliver NASA moon rover – WTAE Pittsburgh

CHRIS: GET THIS. NASA CHOSE A PITTSBURGH COMPANY TO FLY ITS WATER-HUNTING ROBOT TO THE MOON. NASA BELIEVES THE ROBOT WILL HELP IN ITS MISSION TO DEVELOP A SUSTAINABLE AND LONG-TERM PRESENCE ON THE MOON. ASTROBOTIC WAS CHOSEN TO DELIVER ITS ROVER TO THE MOON’S SOUTH POLE. ASTROBOTIC WILL RECEIVE A CONTRACT WORTH NEARLY $200 MILLION. THE COMPANY WILL HANDLE THE ROVER THAT WILL ROAM SEVERAL MILES OF THE MOON, COLLECT DATA IN ITS SEARCH FOR ICE AND WATER, AND TAKE SOIL SAMPLES. TRY SAYING THAT FIVE TIMES FAS

Pittsburgh company to deliver NASA moon rover

Astrobotic’s Griffin lunar lander is to carry the NASA VIPER mission to the south pole of the moon in 2023, as a precursor to a human landing.

Pittsburgh company Astrobotic has been awarded $199.5 million by NASA to deliver the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the south pole of the moon in 2023.Griffin’s delivery of VIPER will be Astrobotic’s second delivery, following the company’s Peregrine lander delivery in 2021. When VIPER disembarks from Griffin’s ramps onto the moon, it will survey the surface and subsurface for water ice, which could be used for breathable air and rocket propellant by future deep space explorers. VIPER’s mapping of lunar water ice could be the first step toward utilizing resources in the space environment to enable more affordable and sustainable space exploration.

PITTSBURGH —

Pittsburgh company Astrobotic has been awarded $199.5 million by NASA to deliver the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the south pole of the moon in 2023.

Griffin’s delivery of VIPER will be Astrobotic’s second delivery, following the company’s Peregrine lander delivery in 2021.

When VIPER disembarks from Griffin’s ramps onto the moon, it will survey the surface and subsurface for water ice, which could be used for breathable air and rocket propellant by future deep space explorers.

VIPER’s mapping of lunar water ice could be the first step toward utilizing resources in the space environment to enable more affordable and sustainable space exploration.

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Company Starbucks

Company Says Starbucks Employees Can’t Wear Black Lives Matter Clothing – Eater

Update, June 12, 12:55 p.m. EST: On Friday — and after public calls to #BoycottStarbucks — Starbucks announced a reversal of its original policy, saying that employees would be allowed to wear clothing and accessories that showed support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a public letter posted on its website, executives Roz Brewer, Rossann Williams, and Zing Shaw wrote in response to employee pushback: “We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter. That is a fact and will never change… We’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt. We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity.”

The announcement also notes that Starbucks plans to print 250,000 t-shirts for employees to wear that “demonstrate our allyship”: Created with the Starbucks Black Partner Network, the graphic on the new shirts says, among other things, “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice No Peace.”


In the long and sacred tradition of major corporations celebrating LGBTQ pride for exactly one month each year, Starbucks has launched a line of rainbow mugs and tote bags. But when it comes to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding justice, and an end to police brutality across the country, the multi-billion dollar corporation has taken a different approach.

In an internal memo acquired by Buzzfeed News, Starbucks executives responded to requests by staff asking to wear Black Lives Matter clothing and accessories by noting that “partners (employees) may only wear buttons or pins issued to the partner by Starbucks… Partners are not permitted to wear buttons or pins that advocate a political, religious or personal issue.”

Some — like Starbucks’s own Twitter account — might argue that stating the importance of Black life is neither a political or personal issue, so much as it is a global and universal one. In the memo, it’s suggested that staff show support for Black Lives Matter by wearing a pre-approved shirt from the company’s Black Partner Network, a group whose mission is to “cultivate, enhance and share the African & African American experience.” The shirt in question reads “keep it brewing” in bold capital letters. Below the text is a small illustration of a steaming cup of coffee, overlaid with a print of Africa.

Many Starbucks employees say a branded shirt is not an adequate show of support. “I don’t think asking for and supporting those who want basic human rights is necessarily political,” one employee told Buzzfeed. Starbucks announced on Twitter that they were “committing $1 million to organizations promoting racial equity and more inclusive and just communities,” but staff suggest that these public displays of support were part of an effort to save face — not support a movement.

The company’s outward-facing celebration of the queer community raises the question of which employees they are willing to vocally support. “Starbucks not only exempts buttons and attire celebrating LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, but hands them out,” Buzzfeed notes. While Pride — a holiday rooted in riots against police brutality — has become an easily digestible month of celebrations, the Black Lives Matter movement, it seems, threatens to hurt Starbucks’ bottom line.

In a now-deleted video made available to employees, Starbucks’ VP of inclusion and diversity said that “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles” of Black Lives Matter could use the opportunity to “amplify divisiveness.” Benson, a Black, transgender employee told Buzzfeed that “we have partners who experienced harassment and transphobia/homophobia for wearing their pins and shirts, and Starbucks still stands behind them.”

Managers and employees around the country told Buzzfeed they feel “muted,” and ignored. Now, #BoycottStarbucks is trending on Twitter, where the company tweeted a link on June 1 to an article from Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “We have always believed in being a different kind of company,” the letter reads. “We are a family. We act with empathy and compassion. And we honor our differences, always.”

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