Top talent departs Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin as NASA lander fight escalates

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CNBC 20 August, 2021 - 03:39pm 36 views

Why is Jeff Bezos suing NASA?

In the summer of 2019, Jeff Bezos appeared at a space symposium marking the anniversary of the first moon landing. ... That's right—Jeff Bezos is suing NASA. His space company, Blue Origin, recently filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that NASA's process for choosing a supplier for its new landing system had “flaws.” The AtlanticBezos's Blue Origin Is Fighting for NASA's Lunar Lander

NASA and SpaceX will stand down until Nov. 1.

"NASA has voluntarily paused work with SpaceX for the human landing system (HLS) Option A contract effective Aug. 19 through Nov. 1," NASA officials wrote in a statement emailed to Space.com. "In exchange for this temporary stay of work, all parties agreed to an expedited litigation schedule that concludes on Nov. 1. NASA officials are continuing to work with the Department of Justice to review the details of the case and look forward to a timely resolution of this matter."

Three groups submitted proposals to fill that role: SpaceX, Dynetics and a so-called National Team led by Blue Origin. Many expected NASA would select two, as it did for the space station contracts; meanwhile, Congress allotted significantly less money for the program than NASA had requested, $850 million compared to more than $3 billion.

The suit marks another delay in a process that NASA presumably hoped would unfold smoothly. The agency's Artemis schedule was always ambitious; less than a year after its announcement, COVID-19 swept the globe, forcing the government and companies alike to halt on-site work.

"NASA is committed to Artemis and to maintaining the nation’s global leadership in space exploration," agency officials wrote in the statement. "With our partners, we will go to the moon and stay to enable science investigations, develop new technology, and create high-paying jobs for the greater good and in preparation to send astronauts to Mars."

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NASA halts human moon lander work with SpaceX amid Blue Origin lawsuit

Space.com 20 August, 2021 - 05:00pm

NASA and SpaceX will stand down until Nov. 1.

"NASA has voluntarily paused work with SpaceX for the human landing system (HLS) Option A contract effective Aug. 19 through Nov. 1," NASA officials wrote in a statement emailed to Space.com. "In exchange for this temporary stay of work, all parties agreed to an expedited litigation schedule that concludes on Nov. 1. NASA officials are continuing to work with the Department of Justice to review the details of the case and look forward to a timely resolution of this matter."

Three groups submitted proposals to fill that role: SpaceX, Dynetics and a so-called National Team led by Blue Origin. Many expected NASA would select two, as it did for the space station contracts; meanwhile, Congress allotted significantly less money for the program than NASA had requested, $850 million compared to more than $3 billion.

The suit marks another delay in a process that NASA presumably hoped would unfold smoothly. The agency's Artemis schedule was always ambitious; less than a year after its announcement, COVID-19 swept the globe, forcing the government and companies alike to halt on-site work.

"NASA is committed to Artemis and to maintaining the nation’s global leadership in space exploration," agency officials wrote in the statement. "With our partners, we will go to the moon and stay to enable science investigations, develop new technology, and create high-paying jobs for the greater good and in preparation to send astronauts to Mars."

Thank you for signing up to Space. You will receive a verification email shortly.

There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.

© Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036.

Blue Origin to perform first New Shepard launch under updated license

SpaceNews 20 August, 2021 - 05:00pm

SANTA FE, N.M. — Blue Origin will conduct its next New Shepard suborbital mission Aug. 25 with a set of research payloads, but not people, on board on the vehicle’s first flight under a revised launch license.

Blue Origin said Aug. 18 that it’s scheduled the NS-17 mission from its West Texas test site, called Launch Site One, for 9:35 a.m. Eastern Aug. 25. The flight will be the eighth for this vehicle, which is different from the one that carried the company’s first people to space on a July 20 launch.

This mission will carry 18 research payloads inside the capsule, 11 of which are supported by NASA through its Flight Opportunities program. An additional NASA experiment will collect data during the powered landing of the booster to test a sensor and computer system designed for future lunar landers. The spacecraft will also carry paintings by Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo on the parachute covers of the capsule as part of an art project by Uplift Aerospace.

The flight will be the first for New Shepard since that July 20 crewed flight. At the time, company officials said they planned to do two more crewed New Shepard launches this year, as well as a payload-only flight.

It will also be the first since the latest update to the company’s launch license, issued by the Federal Aviation Administration Aug. 13. The license is primarily a renewal of previous ones issued by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation dating back to 2017, with the new one valid for two years.

A major change in the new license is in its “financial responsibility” requirements. Licensees must demonstrate that they are able to cover losses in the event of an accident up to a maximum probable loss, or MPL, determined by the FAA in the licensing process. In the case of New Shepard, that MPL figure is $150 million.

Launch companies usually meet this requirement though liability insurance. However, a new section of the Blue Origin license sets up an alternative approach where an unnamed “parent guarantor” places the funding in an account exclusively intended to cover any losses. The agreement between Blue Origin and that parent guarantor “shall guarantee all necessary and required resources for compliance with FAA’s financial responsibility requirements, specifically in the amount of the MPL,” the license states.

The license includes other provisions requiring that the company demonstrate that the funding is in place before each launch and that, before the first launch, provide a legal opinion from an independent law firm that the guarantee agreement is binding and enforceable.

Blue Origin did not answer questions about why it took this alternative approach in its new license. One industry source, speaking on background, said it would allow Blue Origin to avoid paying premiums for the liability insurance that would otherwise be needed to meet the requirement. Those premiums would have grown as the FAA increased the MPL value on the license from $75 million to $150 million in July, when the agency modified the license to allow Blue Origin to carry people on the vehicle.

Most companies opt not to self-insure because of the requirement to set aside a significant amount of money to cover losses. Blue Origin, though, is owned by Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s wealthiest people with a net worth of nearly $200 billion.

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9 great reads from CNET this week: Bezos vs. NASA, California movies, Facebook VR, more

CNET 20 August, 2021 - 04:30pm

Jeff Bezos clearly enjoyed his rocket ride to the edge of space last month, but his ambitions extend well beyond the occasional stratospheric joyride. He sees big business opportunities in space -- hence his startup Blue Origin -- and he's not taking no for answer.

So when NASA said no to Blue Origin's bid for a contract to build the vehicle that carries astronauts back to the moon, picking Elon Musk's SpaceX instead, Bezos didn't back down. Blue Origin filed suit, alleging flaws in NASA's acquisition process. It's not just the space agency, though. There's also tension between Bezos and Musk, two billionaires with strong visions for humanity's future in space.

Eric Mack's story on that feud is among the many in-depth features and thought-provoking commentaries that appeared on CNET this week. So here you go. These are the stories you don't want to miss.   

The space agency prefers Elon Musk's spaceship for lunar landings. Now, a judge will decide if that union will stand.  

For years, California has worked to bring back TV and film productions that fled the state. But it's not just LA that wants to win over studios.

Celeste Drake, who's overseeing the government's Made in America ambitions, says the president is serious about "putting his money where his mouth is."  

Horizon Workrooms, an Oculus Quest 2 VR software beta for meetings, just launched. Facebook has been using it for remote meetings for months. Here's how it works.   

Global supply chain issues crimped a larger rollout.  

Australia was a pandemic success story, but it has been overwhelmed by the delta variant. What happened?   

The film, about a Deaf family with a hearing teen, showcases how sign language can be visual poetry -- as raunchy as a limerick, as sublime as a sonnet.

Does esports have a future at the Olympics? Experts aren't sure.

Social media didn't exist when the Taliban last held power. The group has quickly learned how to use it.

9 great reads from CNET this week: Bezos vs. NASA, California movies, Facebook VR, more

SlashGear 20 August, 2021 - 04:30pm

Jeff Bezos clearly enjoyed his rocket ride to the edge of space last month, but his ambitions extend well beyond the occasional stratospheric joyride. He sees big business opportunities in space -- hence his startup Blue Origin -- and he's not taking no for answer.

So when NASA said no to Blue Origin's bid for a contract to build the vehicle that carries astronauts back to the moon, picking Elon Musk's SpaceX instead, Bezos didn't back down. Blue Origin filed suit, alleging flaws in NASA's acquisition process. It's not just the space agency, though. There's also tension between Bezos and Musk, two billionaires with strong visions for humanity's future in space.

Eric Mack's story on that feud is among the many in-depth features and thought-provoking commentaries that appeared on CNET this week. So here you go. These are the stories you don't want to miss.   

The space agency prefers Elon Musk's spaceship for lunar landings. Now, a judge will decide if that union will stand.  

For years, California has worked to bring back TV and film productions that fled the state. But it's not just LA that wants to win over studios.

Celeste Drake, who's overseeing the government's Made in America ambitions, says the president is serious about "putting his money where his mouth is."  

Horizon Workrooms, an Oculus Quest 2 VR software beta for meetings, just launched. Facebook has been using it for remote meetings for months. Here's how it works.   

Global supply chain issues crimped a larger rollout.  

Australia was a pandemic success story, but it has been overwhelmed by the delta variant. What happened?   

The film, about a Deaf family with a hearing teen, showcases how sign language can be visual poetry -- as raunchy as a limerick, as sublime as a sonnet.

Does esports have a future at the Olympics? Experts aren't sure.

Social media didn't exist when the Taliban last held power. The group has quickly learned how to use it.

‘Sabrina’ Star Melissa Joan Hart Reveals Covid Diagnosis from Her Bed

The Washington Post 20 August, 2021 - 11:55am

‘Sabrina’ Star Melissa Joan Hart Reveals Covid Diagnosis from Her Bed

The Sabrina The Teenage Witch star posted a video describing her condition as she recovers from the virus

Melissa Joan Hart posted a video on Instagram, with the comment, "Wanted to share this with all of you. Im not posting this to be political or gain pity, I just want to share my journey. This isn't up for debate, it's just how I feel today on my page."

In the video itself, the actress spoke of how the virus has been affecting her and how her family set up has been impacted. She said, "I am vaccinated and I got COVID, and it's bad," she began. "It's weighing on my chest. It's hard to breathe. One of my kids, I think, has it so far. I'm praying that the other ones are okay. I think as a country we got a little lazy and I'm really mad that my kids didn't have to wear a mask at school. I'm pretty sure where this came from."

"I just really hope my husband and the other ones don't get it, because if someone has to be taken to the hospital, I can't go with them," Hart continued. "I'm just scared and sad, and disappointed in myself and some of our leaders... I just wish I'd done better, so I'm asking you guys to do better. Protect your families. Protect your kids. It's not over yet," she concluded alluding to the pandemic. "I hoped it was, but it's not, so stay vigilant and stay safe."

by The Penny Hoarder

While many countries have pulled back their Covid restrictions, leading many to believe that the pandemic is now behind us and everything is back to normal, there have been a number of signs that the virus is still causing issues across the US as well as many other countries around the world. In the last month, recovering cinemas have seen a number of high profile movie releases pushed back due to rising number of cases of the Covid Delta Variant and an unwillingness by many movie fans to venture with their families into theaters for the sake of seeing a movie. Covid numbers overall are still varying in different parts of the world, and although the vaccine does seem to be lessening symptoms suffered by those who contract the virus, there are still many who have not yet been vaccinated and in at risk groups.

Fans and fellow actors on Instagram were quick to offer their best wishes and support to the actress, including notes from Bobcat Goldthwait, who said, "Sending love and don't be so hard on yourself." Nancy Travis commented, "Oh man, this really sucks to hear and I hope it moves through you quickly. Thank God you are vaccinated...I guess. You are right: NOT over, very disillusioned and angry."

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