December 2, 2023

Hello and welcome back to Max Q. I hope all American readers have enjoyed Independence Day. In this case:

  • 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

Don’t forget to sign up to get our free Max Q newsletter delivered to your inbox. And by the way … TechCrunch + has Independence Day Sale! Save 50% on annual subscription here. More information here.

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

I spoke to CEO Tim Ellis in the news. It pumped as one might expect!

“Signing such big contracts before launch, and even before Terran 1 launches, I think really speaks to the confidence that people have in the team and in our approach,” he said.

We also talked about the company’s latest generation 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’re offering, Stargate can print a Terran 1 fuselage in just five days. This is not a typo.

Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis with Stargate. Image credits: Relative space

Very soon, humanity will be able to view the deepest images of the universe ever taken. In two weeks, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)–NASA’s ultra-expensive and extremely powerful optical deep space imager–will release its first full-color images, and agency officials today suggested it might just be the beginning.

“This is further from what humanity has previously looked like,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a media briefing on Wednesday. “We are just beginning to understand what Webb can and will do.”

Check back with TechCrunch for coverage of the July 12 release of the photo. Select 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 as a large space observatory optimized for infrared wavelengths, will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. It is scheduled to be released in October 2018. Image credits: Alex Wong / Getty Images

More news from TC…

  • Asterix Aeronautics Founder Fia Jones on how he wooed Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck to launch her startup, at TC+.
  • China National Space Administration It has released a series of images of Mars taken by the Tianwen-1 spacecraft, in case anyone needed any further proof that the country’s space program should be taken seriously.
  • rocket lab NASA’s CAPSTONE mission to the Moon was launched from the company’s launch complex in New Zealand. CAPSTONE will test a unique lunar orbit that could eventually be used by a lunar base/space station.

… and beyond

  • Airbus UK win – win Contract worth 160 million euros ($168 million) From the European Space Agency to develop a satellite capable of measuring heat emitted from Earth into space.
  • Axiom Space And the Collins outer space , The two companies that won bids to develop upcoming spacesuits for NASA astronauts, were the only companies to submit bids.
  • Boeing And the NASA The first manned flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft may take place as early as December, according to internal tables Eric Berger got it, although the agency hasn’t set an official date yet.
  • Exp Solid missile developer and subsidiary of the state-owned defense corporation China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, closed a $237 million from the second round.
  • Leanspace, French startup, closed a $6.35 million seed round for its space-focused cloud platform.
  • NASA agency space launch system missile can see the flight As early as August 23. That flight will be the first unmanned flight of the $20 billion rocket.
  • SpaceX It launched SES-22, a geostationary communications satellite, bringing the total number of Falcon 9 launches this year to 27.
  • SpaceX got permission from the US Federal Communications Commission to start operating Starlink satellite broadband service on a range of vehicles, including boats, planes and RVs.
  • Velo3D He made an in-kind investment of $250,000 in plasmaa startup propelled by the development of rocket engines.
  • Venture Orbital Systems closed $10.4 million Series A To further develop its orbital launcher, the Zephyr.
  • Virgin Orbit Create a Brazilian subsidiary It has received regulatory approval to conduct launches of its LauncherOne vehicle from Brazil as soon as possible by 2023.

picture of the week

Sunspots in Galileo Galilei

This illustrated panel, published in 1613 by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, shows the movement of sunspots on the surface of the Sun. Twenty years after this image was published, the Roman Inquisition convicted him of heresy, in part because he believed the Earth was not the center of the universe. Image credits: SSPL/Getty Images

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