Space Industry Investments Hit Record High As Venture Capital Seeks The Next SpaceX

Venture capitalists invested in $5.8 billion in 178 commercial space startups worldwide last year, up 38% in dollar terms from the prior year, making 2019 the biggest year for private space investments, according to a new report from venture capital firm Space Angels.

U.S. billionaire-backed startups Blue Origin and SpaceX accounted for about 41% of the dollar investments, which extended to space ventures in China and the United Kingdom. More investors also sought to get in on companies at later stages.

“We believe this reflects a healthy maturation of the entrepreneurial space ecosystem as early-stage companies graduate from concept to growth,” CEO Chad Anderson said in an email that accompanied the report.

Amazon cofounder Jeff Bezos invested about $1.4 billion into his company, raising the capital by selling shares of Amazon stock, estimates the report. Elon Musk’s SpaceX wasn’t far behind—the company raised a little over $1 billion in 2019 in series J, K and L rounds, valuing the …

NASA graduates new class of astronauts to join Artemis-era missions

HOUSTON — NASA's newest astronauts are ready to come out of their shells and walk on the moon.

Nicknamed the "Turtles," the space agency's 22nd class of astronauts graduated from basic training and became eligible for spaceflight assignments on Friday (Jan. 10). A ceremony held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston honored the 11 Americans, together with two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts who trained with them.

"Two years ago, this group of new astronuts arrived here at Johnson for the very first time and they already came in with very impressive resumes. Now they have become part of an elite group of people qualified for spaceflight and ready to train for the exciting missions ahead," said Mark Geyer, director of the Johnson Space Center.

"They are beginning a journey that will take them on voyages of exploration like humankind has never seen before," said Geyer.

The new class, which includes six women and seven men, expands NASA's …

NASA's TESS Planet Hunter Finds Its 1st Earth-Size World in 'Habitable Zone'

TOI 700 d is a landmark discovery for NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
NASA's newest planet hunter just bagged some big game.
For the first time, the agency's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered a roughly Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of its host star, the zone of orbital distances where liquid water could be stable on a world's surface, researchers announced today (Jan. 6).
The newfound exoplanet, known as TOI 700 d, lies just 101.5 light-years from Earth, making it a good candidate for follow-up observations by other instruments, scientists added.
"TESS was designed and launched specifically to find Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby stars," Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. "Planets around nearby stars are easiest to follow up with larger telescopes in space and on Earth. Discovering TOI 700 d is a key science finding for TESS."

Finding Over 100 Million Exoplanets By 2050

The cumulative number of exoplanets that have been discovered has been following power law scaling for the past 25 years and if this continued to 2050 then we would find about 100 million exoplanets.

20,000 exoplanets should be found from the past primary Kepler mission and the completed K2 mission and from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and from the planned 2026 PLATO mission.

The Gaia mission should find between 15,000 and 90,000 depending on the final mission duration and the actual occurrence rates of massive planets in wide orbits.

The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope is expected launch in 2025 and a mission duration of five years and it is supposed to find another about 70,000 to 150,000 transiting exoplanets, details depending mostly on the actual occurrence rate of hot Jupiters in the WFIRST observing fields. The total exoplanet count should be between 105,000 and 260,000 by 2030.

Rigidized polymers appear to be a feasible technology to create space telescopes …

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Elon Musk Expects Starship Flight Hopefully in Two-Three Months

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is currently building a flight design of Starship, a vehicle designed to transport people to the moon and Mars, said the rocket manufacturer’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk.

Starship’s first “flight is hopefully 2 to 3 months away,” Musk said in a Twitter post.

Flight is hopefully 2 to 3 months away — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 28, 2019