Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy Makes Car a Star
Those who have doubted the capacity of space entrepreneur Elon Musk to fulfill his many astounding promises about the future, received a dramatic warning in February—don’t bet against the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (the electric car company). As the whole world watched, SpaceX successfully launched its much-touted Falcon Heavy rocket from launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and then returned two of its booster rockets to safe landings at the same complex where they had just launched.
The most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, the Falcon Heavy has the ability to lift 64 metric tons (141,000 lb.) into orbit—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel. On this demonstration flight, however, the payload was Musk’s personal Tesla roadster, complete with dummy driver in a SpaceX suit. The car is expected to spend billions of years patrolling the asteroid belt.
The launch was witnessed live on the Internet and worldwide television, and attended by many thousands, along Florida’s Space Coast. Most seemed to be hoping that Musk can fulfill his dream of making humans an interplanetary species by ultimately colonizing Mars. With the Falcon Heavy, Musk has demonstrated that his private company can build the necessary equipment. Like Apollo 11, launched from the same complex in 1969, however, SpaceX may first take a stopover on the moon, but even that is still a few years away.
Amateur Astronomer Finds Missing NASA Satellite
When NASA mislays a very expensive satellite, the services of the private sector may be required. Fortunately, there is at least one amateur astronomer willing and able to help out.
After a top secret satellite known as Zuma, atop a SpaceX Falcon rocket, apparently failed to orbit in January 2018, Canadian researcher Scott Tilley tried to locate its signal, but without success. He did, however, find the signal from another lost NASA satellite, the IMAGE spacecraft, originally launched in 2000. The IMAGE signal had suddenly disappeared in 2005 and had been given up for dead, until Tilley stepped in. Tilley’s discovery is authentic, says NASA, and an attempt to reestablish communications with the long-lost IMAGE was planned.
The Zuma mission was top secret, so no one is explaining publicly what happened to it. SpaceX, however, says they did their job, and any possible problems with Zuma are not their fault. These days the credibility of the private sector in general, and SpaceX in particular, may be somewhat higher than that of government work.
Could the Future Save Our Skin?
Electronic skin has arrived, and that, researchers say, is a good thing. According to the Journal Science Advances, engineers have created a recyclable version of our venerable epidermis, which can be loaded with sensors to measure such things as pressure, temperature, humidity, and airflow. E-skin, furthermore, can heal itself. It may not seem to be warm and fuzzy, but it is, we’re told, soft, although not as stretchable as the real thing.
Many labs around the world are reported to have ‘skin’ in their game and to be working to develop the many possibilities for this very superficial idea. In Japan, for instance, there is a lot of interest in creating a smart shirt, which can act as a video game controller. In Europe, magnets are combined with e-skin so users can control virtual objects in computer simulations. Wild new fashion statements and super powers may not be far behind, but, the question remains: is ‘beauty’ really only skin deep?