Rocket Lab’s next launch will deliver 30 satellites to orbit

Rocket Lab’s next mission will put dozens of satellites into orbit using the launch company’s Kick Stage “space tug,” as well as a 3D-printed garden gnome from Valve Software’s Gabe Newell. The latter is a test of a new manufacturing technique, but also a philanthropic endeavor from the gaming industry legend.

Scheduled for no earlier than November 15 (or 16 at the New Zealand launch site), the as-yet-unnamed launch — Rocket Lab gives all of their missions cheeky names — will be the company’s “most diverse ever,” it said in a press release.

A total of 30 satellites will be deployed using Rocket Lab’s own Kick Stage deployment platform, which like other “space tugs” detaches from the second stage once a certain preliminary orbit is reached and then delivers its payloads each at their own unique trajectory. That’s the most individual satellites every taken up at once by Rocket Lab.

24 of them are Swarm Technologies’ tiny SpaceBEEs, the sandwich-sized communications satellites it will be using to power a low-cost, low-bandwidth global network for Internet of Things devices.

The most unusual payload, however, is certainly “Gnome Chompski,” whose passage was paid by Valve president Newell: a 3D-printed figure that will remain attached to the Kick Stage until it burns up on reentry. The figure, a replica of an item from the popular Half-Life series of PC games, was made by Weta Workshop, the effects studio behind Lord of the Rings and many other films. It’s both a test of a potentially useful new component printing technique and “an homage to the innovation and creativity of gamers worldwide.”

More importantly, Newell will donate a dollar to Starship Children’s Hospital for every viewer of the launch, so you’ll definitely want to tune in for this one. (I’m waiting to find out more from Newell, if possible.)

The launch will also deliver satellites for TriSept, Unseenlabs, and the Auckland Space Institute — the last will be New Zealand’s first student-built spacecraft.

Rocket Lab has worked hard to make its launch platform all-in-one, so prospective customers don’t have to shop around for various services or components. Ideally, the company’s CEO has said, anyone should be able to come to the company with the barebones payload and the rest is taken care of.

Image Credits: Rocket Lab

“Small satellite operators shouldn’t have to compromise on orbits when flying on a rideshare mission, and we’re excited to provide tailored access to space for 30 satellites on this mission. It’s why we created the Kick Stage to enable custom orbits on every mission, and eliminate the added complexity, time, and cost of having to develop your own spacecraft propulsion or using a third-party space tug,” Beck said in the press release.

Rocket Lab recently launched its own home-grown satellite, First Light, to show that getting to orbit doesn’t have be such a “pain in the butt,” as Beck put it then.

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Nokia, Smart Mobile Labs deliver 5G SA private wireless networking for Technical University Kaiserslautern research

Press Release

Nokia, Smart Mobile Labs deliver 5G SA private wireless networking for Technical University Kaiserslautern research


22 October 2020

Espoo, Finland – Nokia today announced, in partnership with Smart Mobile Labs AG, it will deploy Nokia 5G standalone (SA) campus-wide private wireless networking at the University of Kaiserslautern (Technische Universität Kaiserslautern TUK), Germany.

Smart Mobile Labs AG has won the overall TUK public tender for five campus networks that are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure as part of the 5G-Kaiserslautern project. TUK is a recognized center of excellence for technology and industry research.

Under an initial three-year agreement, Nokia will provide TUK with pervasive 5G SA connectivity enabling development of new 5G research and use case testing across the university’s world-leading faculties. The industrial-grade networks will be based on Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC), a digitalization platform capable of providing high-bandwidth, hyper-fast industrial-grade private networking.

Professor Dr Hans Schotten, 5G-Kaiserslautern coordinator, TUK said: “Deployment of our own 5G private wireless network creates a controlled environment in which our researchers can  explore 5G’s ability to unleash new applications and use cases.

“Areas of particular interest include industrial automation and logistics, construction and  agriculture. The networks will also be applied to existing university-based research projects, as well as technology platform and software development. These efforts will be carried out both independently and in collaboration with a range of other stakeholders and industry partners.”

The private wireless system will be deployed across the Kaiserslautern university campus, the Wissenschaftsmeile covering the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence DFKI as well as the research farm ‘Hofgut Neumühle’.

Rüdiger Hnyk, Chief Product Officer, Smart Mobile Labs AG said: “Smart Mobile Labs will provide TUK with the installation, operations and application integration work of the first true 5G standalone Nokia DAC campus network in Germany. This next-generation private wireless network will be the basis for many future use cases such as self-driving cars, drone control and real-time video applications for logistics and mobility services, as well as  production and agriculture scenarios.”

Raghav Sahgal, President, Nokia Enterprise, Nokia said: “As one of the leading research organizations in Germany with a strong track record in 5G development, TUK’s investment in Nokia’s 5G Digital Automation Cloud – deployed in partnership with Smart Mobile Labs –  illustrates its commitment to research excellence. Today’s announcement extends a long-standing relationship with TUK, which has seen close co-operation with Nokia Bell Labs on Smart Factories and industry applications made possible with 5G.”

Smart Mobile Labs is the largest 5G system integrator in Germany, supplying the first 5G campus networks to many customers in 2020. Nokia partners with Smart Mobile Labs AG, who provides deployment and integration services to deliver the Nokia DAC solution.

Nokia DAC is an industrial-grade digital automation service platform that provides a reliable, secure, and high-performance private wireless network. A compact, plug-and-play system with automation enablers, it comprises network equipment and a cloud-based operation monitoring system. With Nokia DAC,

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HPE to deliver Pawsey’s new AU$48m research supercomputer

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Western Australia will be receiving a new supercomputer thanks to a AU$48 million contract signed with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

The new supercomputer will deliver up to 30 times more compute power — 50 petaflops — than its predecessor systems Magnus and Galaxy.

Magnus, a Cray XC40, was commissioned in 2014 and the Galaxy, a Cray XC30, in 2013. The new supercomputer will be built using the HPE Cray EX architecture and it is expected the new single general-purpose supercomputer will boast the capability to handle the workloads of both systems.

The HPE Cray EX supercomputer will be used by researchers in fields such as medicine, artificial intelligence, and radio astronomy.

Magnus and Galaxy currently occupy 11 cabinets; the new system will occupy eight. The Cray EX will boast more than 200,000 cores across 1,600 nodes, over 750 GPUs, and more than 200,000 AMD CPU cores.

The Pawsey centre is an unincorporated joint venture between CSIRO, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, and the University of Western Australia.

It currently serves over 1,600 researchers across Australia that are involved in more than 150 supercomputing projects. Nine Australian Research Centres of Excellence also benefit from the Pawsey centre.

“Supercomputers like those at Pawsey are increasingly crucial to our ability to conduct world-class, high-impact research,” executive director at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre Mark Stickells said.

“The upgrades we’re announcing are a critical move in strengthening Australia’s position in the global research environment and playing a part in major global research projects, from helping in the fight against COVID-19 to working with the precursor telescopes to the Square Kilometre Array.

See also: Square Kilometre Array supercomputer design completed

“The new supercomputer will not only deliver next generation compute power to meet these growing requirements, it will enable entirely new research projects with global reach and impact.”

The new system will be delivered in two stages, with phase 1, pencilled in for Q3 2021, to provide a 45% increase in raw compute power in one-fifth of the size compared with the Magnus and Galaxy systems.

Full commissioning of the system will occur by the second quarter of 2022. In publishing a request for tender for the new supercomputer on behalf of Pawsey, CSIRO said the new system would be ready by September 2020.

Funding for the new supercomputer is part of Pawsey’s Capital Refresh Program, delivered under a AU$70 million grant from the Australian government in 2018 to upgrade its supercomputing infrastructure.


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Houston company to deliver ice mining experiment to the moon

Houston-based Intuitive Machines will deliver an ice mining experiment to the moon’s south pole by December 2022, a precursor to NASA’s water-hunting rover that’s set to land on the moon in late 2023.

The Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment (PRIME-1) will drill into the moon, harvest ice and then bring it to the surface. A mass spectrometer will be used to measure how much is lost as the ice turns from solid into vapor in a vacuum.

The data from this PRIME-1 mission will help scientists understand how NASA’s rover, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), can search for water at the moon’s pole, according to the Intuitive Machines news release. It will also test early versions of the drill and mass spectrometer used by VIPER. The 1,000-pound rover will use another commercial company, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Astrobotic Technology and its Griffin lunar lander, to reach the moon, where it will spend 100 Earth days gathering samples to create water resource maps.

More on VIPER: NASA developing new lunar rover to the moon to drill for water ice

The PRIME-1 mission could also help researchers determine how much water may be available on the moon to support a sustained human presence. Its drill and mass spectrometer weigh 88 pounds, and Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C Lunar Lander is capable of carrying 220 pounds to the moon.

PRIME-1 will be the company’s second trip to the moon. Its first mission is set to launch for the the Oceanus Procellarum, a scientifically intriguing dark spot on the moon, in the fourth quarter of 2021. On this first mission, Nova-C will carry commercial cargo, 11-pound race cars and five NASA payloads, including cameras to observe the dust kicked up by Nova-C’s engines (measuring this could help determine if the dust would damage a human landing system) and an experiment that will demonstrate autonomous navigation.

“Laying the foundation to return humans to the moon is an incredible honor and even greater challenge,” Steve Altemus, president and CEO of Intuitive Machines, said in a news release. “At Intuitive Machines, we’re hungry for the pursuit of these audacious missions. Winning our second opportunity to land on the moon and help NASA accomplish its Artemis mission is incredibly humbling.”

And on Wednesday, it was announced that Intuitive Machines will receive $41.6 million from NASA to develop a robot that can hop into craters and photograph hard-to-reach crevices that might be worthy of exploration.

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Balfour Beatty to Deliver Jacksonville University’s New Basketball Performance Center

Balfour Beatty has been awarded by Jacksonville University (JU) to construct its new Basketball Performance Center that will serve as the future home of the institution’s men’s and women’s basketball program and day-to-day operations. The new facility will provide a new home for student-athletes, enhance the university’s ability to recruit quality individuals and allow students to be better prepared academically and athletically.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Photo renderings courtesy of Quinn Evans Architects.

The Basketball Performance Center at JU will be a two-story, 26,000-square-foot practice facility that will feature coaching staff offices, weight room, training room, and a full court and a half of playing surface which will serve as the new practice venue for athletic programming. The new building will also offer 24-hour gym access for coaches, a rare amenity in collegiate athletics, and a weight room directly off the practice floor for daily use to improve individual performance and injury prevention programs.

“This project has been a top priority for our University and athletics department for several years,” said Alex Ricker-Gilbert, athletic director at JU. “Facilities can set programs apart from their peers, and in the sports of men’s and women’s basketball, the landscape is increasingly competitive. The Basketball Performance Center will provide a new home for our student-athletes, enhance our ability to recruit quality individuals, and will allow them to be better prepared academically and athletically. This is a major component of a larger scale plan to chart our successful future in men’s and women’s basketball.”

Adjacent to Historic Swisher Gymnasium, the Basketball Performance Center will solve current logistical issues and create more functionality and connectivity between the court and the coaching offices. With two courts, the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball programs will find it easier to schedule practice time, and it will unlock new opportunities for summer youth programming.

“This basketball facility will have a significant impact on the way our program can operate beginning with the recruitment process and spanning our players’ entire time at Jacksonville University,” said Tony Jasick, JU men’s basketball head coach. “Having a space with unlimited access for their individual improvement is a significant piece in our continued growth. Jacksonville University has a storied tradition in men’s basketball, this commitment by the University will significantly help as we aim to add to that tradition moving forward.”

“A new centrally-located facility will impact our programs’ culture tremendously,” said Darnell Haney, JU women’s basketball head coach. “A one-stop shop where we can train, build team camaraderie, and attract top recruits will help us compete at a high level and carry out the mission of our program. It is our program’s goal to positively impact the lives of our student-athletes, the JU community, and the city of Jacksonville through winning basketball and quality education.”

Funding for Jacksonville University’s new $8 million performance center is a part of the college’s successful completion of its ASPIRE campaign, the school’s largest fundraising initiative to-date. In 2018,

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