Max Q is a weekly newsletter from TechCrunch about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Mondays in your inbox.includes two since I was out last week for a Canadian national holiday (and back today for the U.S. one, ironically). There’s plenty to cover, including Blue Origin’s bidding process, lunar landers, spaceships launching at sea, and the .
Blue Origin’s big bid
Blue Origin is auctioning off one seat on its first-ever human spaceflight, and the bidding started at $1.4 million — or at least, the public bidding started there., people submitted blind bids, but now Blue Origin posts the current top bid to its website whenever it hits a new high. It’s currently $2.8 million, meaning it’s doubled since the recommendations opened up to public scrutiny and presumably FOMO.
Everything’s building up to June 12, when the, real-time online competitive bidding round. Seems likely it’ll at least cross the $3 million mark before all’s said and done, which is good news for Blue Origin since run-of-the-mill going forward will probably end up more in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range.
If all goes to the current plan, the winning bidder will fly on July 20 and be accompanied by other passengers selected by Blue Origin through some other mechanism. We don’t yet know who else will be on the ride. Bezos maybe?
SpaceX’s Deimos spaceport is under construction.
SpaceX is flexing its sci-fi-made-real muscle with its latest move: Thespaceports, and one of the two, codenamed “Deimos” after one of Mars’ moons, is already being worked on. SpaceX CEO shared that the company hopes to have it ready for operations next year, meaning it could host actual launches in 2022.
Eventually, Deimos and its twin, Phobos, will provideto SpaceX’s first fully reusable launch vehicle — Starship. Starship only managed to land successfully after a high, but still very much atmospheric, , however, so it has a way to go before making amphibious departures and arrivals using the converted oil platforms.
Putting these in the ocean presumably helps solve some, not least of which is being mindful of the impact of launching massive rockets on land anywhere near people. Ditto the landings, which, at least early on, are bound to be risky affairs better carried out with a buffer of the surrounding ocean.
Landers; lunar ones
There’s quite a bit of lunar lander news this week, including Japan’s space revealing that it’ll provide commercial lunar lander next year and the second set in 2023.and Japan, with a ride for both provided by SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket. These will be two separate missions, with the first set for
Both will use space’s Hakuto-R lander, developed initially to participate in the Google-backed Lunar XPRIZE competition. The Hakuto-R being sent on behalf of JAXA will carry an adorable ball-shaped moon robot that looks like a very novel take on a rover. That ended without a winner, but some companies, including the area, continued to work on their landers with an eye to commercialization.
Meanwhile, GM announced this past week that it’s working with space industry veteran Lockheed Martin to develop a next-gen moon rover to provide future lunar astronauts with more speed and fantastic range. GM and Lockheed will still have to win a NASA contract to make the thing, but they’re excited about the prospect.
TC Sessions: Space is back in December
we held our first dedicated space event, and it went so well that we decided to host it again in 2021. This year, it’s happening on December 14 and 15, and it’s likewise going to be an entirely , so people from all over the world can join.
We had a fantastic line-up of guests and speakers atevent, including Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, NASA’s Kathy Lueders, and more, and we’re already working on a fantastic follow-up agenda that’s sure to thrill all kinds of space fans. You can already get tickets; if you get in early, you save $100.