Max Q: Capped – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome to Max Q. I hope all my American readers had a restful Independence Day. In this problem:

  • Rocket Lab launches NASA’s CAPSTONE mission
  • The first images from the James Webb Space Telescope are almost here
  • News from AWS, SpaceX and more

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Relativity Space will send OneWeb’s second-generation broadband satellites into orbit starting in 2025 using its fully reusable 3D-printed Terran R rocket, under a new multiple-launch agreement. This is Terran R’s fifth customer, and the only one to be publicly named, bringing the total value of all binding launch agreements for this rocket to more than $1.2 billion.

I spoke to CEO Tim Ellis on the news. He was pumped, as you would expect!

“To have such large contracts signed before launch, and before we even launch Terran 1, I think it really speaks to the trust people have in the team and in our approach,” he said.

We also discussed the latest generation of the company’s line of 3D printers, which it calls Stargate. Ellis said this new generation can print up to 10 times faster than the previous generation. But how fast is that? At the current rate they are demonstrating, a Stargate can print a Terran 1 fuselage in just five days. It’s not a typo.

Relativity Space Tim Ellis Stargate

Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space, with Stargate. Picture credits: relativity space

Very soon, humanity will be able to see the deepest images of the universe that have ever been captured. In two weeks, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) — NASA’s super-expensive and super-powerful optical deep-space imager — will release its first color images, and agency officials suggested today that they may just be the start.

“It’s further than humanity has ever looked before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a press briefing on Wednesday (he was calling because he had tested positive for COVID -19 the night before). “We are only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do.”

Check back with TechCrunch for coverage of the image’s July 12 release. Mark your calendars!

james webb space telescope

GREENBELT, MD – NOVEMBER 02: Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope on November 2, 2016 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The telescope, designed to be a large space observatory optimized for infrared wavelengths, will succeed the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Its launch is scheduled for October 2018. Picture credits: Alex Wong/Getty Images

More news from TC…

  • Asterix Aeronautics founder Fia Jones on how she wooed Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck to launch her startup, at TC+.
  • China National Space Administration released a series of images of Mars taken by its Tianwen-1 spacecraft, in case anyone needs further proof that the country’s space program is something to be taken seriously.
  • rocket lab launched NASA’s CAPSTONE mission to the Moon from the company’s New Zealand Launch Complex. CAPSTONE will test a unique lunar orbit that could potentially be used by a lunar outpost/space station.

…and beyond

  • United Kingdom won a 160 million euro ($168 million) contract from the European Space Agency to develop a satellite capable of measuring the heat emitted by the Earth into space.
  • Axiom space and collins Aerospace, the two companies that won bids to develop the next spacesuits for NASA astronauts were the only ones to bid.
  • Boeing and Nasa could make the first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft as early as December, according to internal timelines obtained by Eric Berger, though the agency has yet to set an official date.
  • Space, a solid-state rocket developer and a subsidiary of public defense firm China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, closed a $237 million Series B round.
  • lean space, a French startup, has closed a $6.35 million funding round for its space-focused cloud platform.
  • from NASA The Space Launch System rocket could fly as early as August 23. This flight would be the $20 billion rocket’s maiden uncrewed voyage.
  • SpaceX launched SES-22, a geostationary communications satellite, bringing the total number of Falcon 9 rocket launches to 27 this year.
  • SpaceX has obtained clearance from the US Federal Communications Commission to begin operating its Starlink satellite broadband service on a range of vehicles, including boats, planes and motor homes.
  • Bike3D made an in-kind investment of $250,000 in Plasmosa propulsion startup developing rocket engines.
  • Venture Orbital Systems closed a $10.4 million Series A to continue developing its orbital launch vehicle, Zephyr.
  • pristine orbit established a Brazilian subsidiary and received regulatory approval to conduct launches of its LauncherOne spacecraft from Brazil as early as 2023.

Picture of the week

Galileo Galilei Sunspots

This illustrated plate, published in 1613 by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, shows the movement of sunspots on the surface of the Sun. Twenty years after this image was published, he was found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition, in part because of his belief that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Picture credits: SSPL/Getty Images

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