Last Thursday, NASA awarded contracts to Blue Origin, SpaceX, and one other Company to compete for building Moon Landers by 2021, at which point the winner will be tasked with getting that lander on the moon in 2024, and will also probably play a big role in the larger project of building a permanent base on the south pole of the moon. The selected companies are notable, mostly for excluding Boeing who has been a long-time partner for NASA in the past.
If you need any further proof that there is a changing of the guard in aerospace technology, here’s SpaceX gloating about being the first private shuttle to take astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA later this month.
It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for the American space program though. Elon Musk, the head of SpaceX and Tesla, had a full on Twitter meltdown last Friday, demanding that Americans be freed from the Coronavirus lockdown, AND maybe it’s the Fast Radio Burst (FRB) activity that has Elon’s wires crossed. I'm assuming he's more sensitive to cosmic activity than the rest of us, and FRBs have been off the charts recently.
FRBs have been called “space volcanoes” by some because they are clusters of radio wave bursts being blasted at the earth from all directions in outer space, but nobody has the slightest clue as to why…. until now since one is going off in our own galaxy.
Turns out it's just a type of neutron star called a “Magnetar” that releases intense amounts of energy (up to 500 million time stronger than our sun) for only fractions of a second at a time. Basically the magnetar starts flashing so brightly it sends out FRBs rippling through space all the way into neighboring galaxies. I was really hoping that FRBs were coming from something cooler than a random blinky star, this is a huge letdown for me honestly.
Another couple of things I thought were space aliens but turned out just to be weirdos on earth. Companies in Russia are going to start making glowing house plants that will make you feel like you’re living inside the jungle from Avatar (they better put a few of those in the first NASA Moon Base); and while I was at Vice dot com I saw another article about human beings that have sex with the actual earth who are called “Eco-Sexuals", so also thought that could be a funny prank the aliens are playing on us before they decide to invade…
Regardless of where those things really came from, space is fun to think about, as always, and I hope you have a great fucking evening. May the Fourth be with you as we prepare to aggressively delete cervezas tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo.
For more space, and other, news listen to Hard Factor Monday-Friday.