Max Q: Halloween special • TechCrunch
Hello and welcome back to Max S. I hope you have a very terrifying day. By the way… we’re counting down to TC’s Space event in December! Learn more here. In this case:
- The bottleneck of the space bus
- Starlink GPS?
- News from BryceTech, Quantum Space, and more
Apex Spacea startup with the goal of transforming the satellite bus industry, came out of stealth on Monday with an initial $7.5 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
The Los Angeles-based company has set its sights on the satellite bus – the part of the spacecraft that hosts the payload – which it says is the “new bottleneck” hitting the space industry. Apex founders, Ian Cinnamon and Maximilian Benassi, said in a Blog post They independently observed fundamental changes in the industry that convinced them of the need for a new solution to satellite carrier manufacturing.
Cinnamon, founder of a tech startup whose company Palantir acquired Synapse Technology in 2020, said he’s seen payload customers “delayed” by the lengthy and costly process associated with building custom satellite buses. Benassi, an engineer whose career includes six years at SpaceX and nearly a year and a half at Astra, has noted changes in the launch economy that make mass manufacturing — rather than the custom engineering process that has characterized satellite buses thus far — more sense.
“Given this transformative change, we should start thinking about spacecraft differently and adapting to new market conditions,” the pair said. “We can’t just build a spacecraft. We have to build it on a large scale.”
With nearly 3,000 satellites in orbit, the Starlink constellation is easily the largest in history and of course presents a tremendous opportunity for global connectivity. But its signals can also be analyzed and used as an alternative to traditional GPS, a new research system that claims, with or without SpaceX’s blessing. It will be a public service and it won’t cost SpaceX much of anything to implement, but it’s also a valuable service for which there is no business in its right mind (especially one that has just committed to implementing Very unprofitable call deal in Ukraine) will be implemented and provided free of charge. Having said that, the genie might be out of the bottle – the data in the paper “lights the path” to this use, and someone might find a way to make it work no matter what anyone says.
TC’s Darrell Etherington briefed us on our coverage of Musk’s purchase of Twitter, a months-long story that ended abruptly and tumultuously last week. CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, it’s hard to imagine how Musk will find the time to dedicate to running the social media site, but it’s in his head first By firing senior executivesincluding former CEO Parag Agrawal. In the coming weeks, Twitter will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange (the nearly nine-year period as a public company expires) and will become a private company under X Holdings I, Inc. from Musk.
This is only the beginning. There is wild speculation, but only time will tell how Twitter will turn out under Musk’s formidable leadership.
More news from TC and beyond
- Amazon It will build a 172,000-square-foot facility outside Seattle dedicated to making satellites for the Project Kuiper satellite Internet initiative. (Amazon)
- array laboratoriesThe YC ’22 alum who wants to create a 3D map of the world closed a $5 million seed tour led by Seraphim Space and Agya Ventures. (YC)
- Boeing It incurred another $195 million in charges for costs related to the Starliner capsule, bringing the total loss to nearly $900 million, the company said in its third-quarter financial results. (Boeing)
- Price Tech It released its quarterly launch and satellite report, and once again found that SpaceX leads in the number of launches and the number of spacecraft launched into orbit. (Price Tech)
- Firefly Aerospace Former NASA Administrator James Bridenstine to its advisory board. Bridenstine was NASA administrator from 2018 to 2021, during which the agency launched the Artemis lunar exploration program and prepared the Lunar Commercial Payload Services program. (firefly)
- NanoAvionics It is now Kongsberg NanoAvionics, having acquired the Norwegian tech giant Kongsberg. In addition to the name change, the company said it will increase production capacity at its facilities in Lithuania to focus on “the serial manufacturing of satellite buses.” (Kongsberg NanoAvionics)
- NASA It generates economic returns three times the size of its annual budget, according to a new report published by…NASA. (CNBC)
- Orbit Fab It has lined up a new investor, 8090 Industries, in its quest to build “gas stations” in space. (Orbit Fab)
- Polaris The first mission has been delayed from late this year to March 2023, and that date may be delayed even more. Polaris is supporting billionaire Jared Isaacman, who traveled on the Inspiration4 mission to the International Space Station. (space news)
- soldierThe orbital debris tracking startup founded by Alex Fielding, Steve Wozniak and Moriba Jah is calling on amateur astronomers to help it collect unwanted space data through a new partnership with consumer telescope manufacturer Celestron. (spacewatch)
- quantum space Its first mission to determine the lunar path will launch in late 2024. The mission will collect space field data and space awareness. (space news)
- Relative space It unveiled the fourth generation of its Stargate 3D printer, which the company says has improved print speeds, improved print capacity with a horizontal print structure, and other updates. These printers will run for Relativity’s Terran R heavy rocket. (Relativity)
- Russia He suggested that a military strike against Western satellites supporting Ukraine would be fair game in times of war, highlighting the unstable and uncharted war zones in space. (Reuters)
- Sierra Space IBM signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the development of next-generation technology for spacecraft and infrastructure in Sierra, such as the Orbital Reef private space station. (mountain range)
- SpaceX It is now NASA’s second largest vendor, after Caltech, which operates the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. That second spot was occupied by the Boeing Company. (Erin Kloots)
- starlink Unlock pre-orders for a new piece of hardware equipped for use in moving vehicles, such as moving vehicles. The antenna will cost $2,500 up front. (SpaceX)
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