Australian remote sensing startup Esper wants to capture hyperspectral imagery from space at a fraction of the price of its competitors. Armed with just $1 million in pre-seed funding and assistance from the Australian government in their first mission, Esper is aiming to beat out its better-capitalized peers with lower-cost tech. That’s what really separates us from all the other spectrometers and hyperspectral hardware that’s being put up there,” Esper CEO and co-founder Shoaib Iqbal said. There’s a lot of software that really comes into play to make sure it works that way. Esper is planning on launching a second demonstrator satellite with identical hardware later this spring with India’s ISRO.
The lawsuit says that OpenAI has shifted to a for-profit model focused on commercializing its AGI research with Microsoft, the world’s most valuable company. “This was a stark betrayal of the Founding Agreement.”The lawsuit follows Musk voicing displeasure with OpenAI’s shift in priorities in the past year. For the first several years, Musk was the largest contributor to OpenAI, the lawsuit adds. He alleges OpenAI and Microsoft have improperly licensed GPT-4 despite agreeing OpenAI’s AGI capabilities would remain non-profit and dedicated to humanity. Musk is seeking to compel OpenAI to adhere to its original mission and bar from monetizing technologies developed under its non-profit for the benefit of OpenAI executives or partners like Microsoft.
Intuitive Machines’ first moon mission will come to a premature end due to the spacecraft landing on its side, which altered how the solar panels are positioned in relation to the sun, the company said in an update Tuesday morning. Intuitive Machines made history when it landed its spacecraft, called Odysseus, near the lunar south pole last week. The lander is the first American hardware to touch the lunar surface since NASA’s final crewed Apollo mission in 1972. It’s also the first privately built and operated spacecraft to land on the moon — ever – and the closest a lander has ever come to the lunar south pole. Intuitive Machines and NASA leadership will host a second televised news conference tomorrow to discuss updates to the mission.
“Groundbreaking Achievement: Intuitive Machines Successfully Lands First Commercial Spacecraft on the Moon”
Intuitive Machines has landed a spacecraft on the lunar surface, in a historic first for a private company. “What we can confirm without a doubt is that our equipment is on the surface of the moon and we are transmitting,” mission director and Intuitive Machines CTO Tim Crain said. Instead, the lander leveraged one of the onboard payloads, NASA’s laser and doppler lidar sensors, to guide the spacecraft to the lunar surface. All in all, Intuitive Machines’ contract is worth a little less than $118 million. Intuitive Machines’ victory comes shortly after another CLPS awardee, Astrobotic, failed to put its lander on the moon.
First-of-its-Kind: Varda Space and Rocket Lab Successfully Execute Historic Spacecraft Landing in Utah
A spacecraft containing pharmaceutical drugs that were grown on orbit has finally returned to Earth today after more than eight months in space. Varda Space Industries’ in-space manufacturing capsule, called Winnebago-1, landed in the Utah desert at around 4:40 p.m. EST. The first-of-its-kind reentry and landing is also a major win for Rocket Lab, which partnered with Varda on the mission. Rocket Lab hosted Varda’s manufacturing capsule inside its Photon satellite bus; through the course of the mission, Photon provided power, communications, attitude control and other essential operations. Varda’s mission launched on June 12 and was supposed to be just a month long, but it was extended after the company encountered regulatory issues.
Ingenuity, the small helicopter that’s been buzzing around the Red Planet for almost three years, took its final flight late last week. In the end, the helicopter ended up performing a staggering 72 flights, collectively traveling 11 miles and climbing up to 79 feet at the highest altitude. Most of these people have not been subjected to the rigorous psychological tests that Shuttle astronauts receive. On January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after lift-off, killing all seven crew members. The disaster resulted in a nearly three-year moratorium on Space Shuttle missions and subsequent investigations identified myriad issues within NASA culture that indriectly or directly led to the disaster.
For the second week in a row, we have lunar lander news to report on. Story of the weekHow could the story of the week be anything other than SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon), the Japanese lunar lander that touched down on the moon on Friday? But even with the issue, the mission achieved a huge portion of its goal, which was to demonstrate a soft lunar landing using optical navigation technology. Launch highlightsWe saw our first crewed mission this year – but even more notably, it was a completely private mission (as in not a NASA astronaut mission). Axiom Space launched its third mission with launch partner SpaceX on Thursday, with the crew successfully docking with the International Space Station at 5:42 AM EST on Saturday, January 20.
Japan’s long-planned Smart Lander for Investigating Moon has successfully touched down on the lunar surface, making the nation the fifth in history to do so. But all is not well for SLIM, which may have a limited lease on life due to trouble with its solar cells. In a press conference following the early-morning (local time) landing on the Moon, the directors of JAXA and the mission explained that “The soft landing was itself successful; SLIM has been communicating and it receiving commands. However, as the other sensors are working correctly and showing healthy values, they feel confident it is limited to the solar cells themselves. The initial press conference was primarily to announce the initial success of a soft landing and functioning lunar lander.
Astrobotic’s lunar lander will be reentering Earth’s atmosphere over a remote part of the South Pacific Ocean tomorrow afternoon, bringing to a close the failed moon landing mission. Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic has been providing frequent updates on the Peregrine lunar lander since it launched on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur on January 8. The source of the anomaly was an ongoing propellant leak, which were preventing Peregrine from pointing its solar arrays at the sun. But by the time it reenters the atmosphere tomorrow, Peregrine will have operated in space for over ten days. Due to the propellant leak, Astrobotic said it had devised a two-step process to maneuver the spacecraft to the projected trajectory for reentry.
Axiom Space is gearing up to launch its third fully private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. Per NASA rules, all private missions to the ISS must be led by a former NASA astronaut. Houston-based Axiom’s first private mission launched in April 2022 and the second followed in May 2023. But Axiom is not stopping at private astronaut missions — as if that wasn’t ambitious enough. Instead, the company aims to eventually attach commercial modules to the ISS, that Axiom owns and operates, which would detach by the end of the decade to become a free-flying Axiom Space Station.