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EOS customer completes extensive testing of 3D printer




EOS customer completes extensive testing of 3D printer

EOS, a leading supplier of manufacturing solutions based on industrial 3D printing technology, has completed extensive testing of its EOS P 500 polymer system, assessing production suitability for series applications together with its Austrian customer, 1zu1 from Dornbirn.

Together, both have concluded that the system has the highest overall system effectiveness available on the market in terms of uptime, performance, and quality for industrial 3D manufacturing solutions. As a result, 1zu1 has now purchased two EOS P 500 polymer systems, enabling it to process customer orders even faster.

“Our company stands for precise, fast and highest quality industrial production,” stated 1zu1 Prototypen’s CEO, Hannes Hämmerle. “The EOS P 500 fulfils all requirements for homogeneous and repeatable component quality while keeping production time short.

“Parts produced on this system have dimensional accuracy very close to that of injection moulded parts and can also keep up in terms of productivity. With the EOS P 500 we can produce an exemplary build job of 2,400 pieces in 16 to 17 hours, this is about 25 seconds per part. At the same time, we can process build jobs overnight that are ready to be unpacked the next morning, also enabling very short delivery times.”

David K. Leigh, CTO at EOS, added: “The modular design of the EOS P 500 provides increased throughput utilising automated interfaces and optimised accessories, which will come soon. These features give companies an intelligent and stable technology to manufacture flexibly, reliably and economically.

The system also offers 6-channel heating which allows for better thermal management of the part bed. We have seen a significant decrease in the distortion of warpage critical components. Parts are now produced with better dimensional accuracy regardless of placement in the build.”

Optimised uptime for increased productivity

The EOS P 500 features a build rate that is twice as fast as the fastest laser-sintering system currently available in the polymer sector (EOS P 396). Numerous factors contribute to this, including two powerful 70-watt lasers for precise energy input into the powder during material melting. The innovative recoater can be precisely controlled and applies a new layer of polymer powder to the build platform at very high speed (up to 600mm/s).

Another important contribution to a high-quality build process is made by a three-stage filter unit that filters material outgassing and particles from the build area of the EOS P 500. Unlike previous EOS systems, the EOS P 500 brings the material to optimum processing temperature before application, thus shortening the time required for recoating and exposure.

The work steps before and after the actual build process also run much more quickly: Preheating and cooling of the interchangeable frame (with the 3D printed part) after production optionally takes place outside the EOS P 500. Users can start a new production process just fifteen minutes after completing a build job. The system needs to be cleaned less frequently and serviced only once a year, so the uptime of the EOS P 500 is up to 75% higher, compared with predecessor systems and competitor models.

Digital production control

The EOS P 500 can be seamlessly integrated into existing MES/ERP systems and at the same time includes a range of solutions for process monitoring and system integration. This enables quality assurance on an industrial scale by evaluating extensive sensors as well as camera-based measurement data (optical and thermal). Users receive important system information, for example on the residual oxygen content or the temperature in the build space. EOSCONNECT MachinePark enables comprehensive and user-friendly monitoring of a company’s own machine pool. All EOS systems are displayed in an intuitive dashboard, allowing customers to collect machine and production data, retrieve it in real time and integrate it into existing IT infrastructures.


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Axelspace raises $24 million in Series C round




SAN FRANCISCO – Axelspace, the Japanese firm planning to offer daily global optical imagery, raised 2.58 billion Japanese yen ($23.8 million) in a Series C investment round announced May 14 in Tokyo, May 13 in the United States.

The Space Frontier Fund managed by Sparx Innovation for Future Co. provided funding alongside other venture capital firms and investment funds managed by Global Brain Corp., Japan Post Investment Corp., Kyocera Corp., Mitsubishi UFJ Capital Co. Ltd., Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd. and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Investment Co. Ltd.

Axelspace launched its first 100-kilogram satellite in 2018 and raised $22.8 million in a Series B funding round. The company sent four more satellites into sun-synchronous orbit in March.

With funds from the Series C round, Axelspace will manufacture, launch and begin operating five additional satellites in 2023, Axelspace CEO Yuya Nakamura told SpaceNews. With a ten-satellite constellation, Axelspace will have daily opportunities to obtain imagery of mid-latitude regions including Japan, he added.

Axelspace’s GRUS satellites are designed to gather panchromatic imagery with a resolution of 2.5 meters and red, blue and green, near-infrared and red-edge imagery with 5-meter resolution. Axelspace also sells 2.5 meter pan-sharpened images through AxelGlobe, its web-based platform.

The red-edge band, introduced on commercial satellites by the RapidEye constellation, is a popular tool for monitoring the health of vegetation. Planet retired the RapidEye constellation in 2020.

Axelspace sees a competitive advantage in capturing large areas in a single image.

“Axelspace is about capturing macro data,” said Yasunori Yamazaki, Axelspace chief brand officer. “Horizontally, we are able to capture 57 kilometers and we are able to capture 1,000 kilometers vertically. One shot coming from one sensor on the same satellite is easier for clients to analyze than a mosaic of images with data coming from different times of the day, different orbits and different sensors.”

Of Axelspace’s 80 employees, more than 50 are engineers from all over the world. Attracting global talent is priority for the firm, Yamazaki said.

Closing an investment round during the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges. In spite of limitations on travel and supply chain disruptions, the firm succeeded in keeping its work moving forward and attracting investors, Nakamura said.

One investor, Shinji Kato, a project manager in the venture co-creation department business development group at Japanese real estate firm Mitsui Fudosan said in a statement, that AxelGlobe’s plan to monitor the whole Earth with high frequency offers “big potential to create a new industry beyond our core business of community development.”

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SpaceX outlines plans for Starship orbital test flight




Artist’s concept of a Super Heavy booster and Starship vehicle stacked together during launch. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX has revealed the flight plan for the first orbital test launch of the company’s huge stainless steel Starship rocket, a 90-minute, around-the-world mission that will originate from South Texas and culminate with a controlled re-entry and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

SpaceX included an exhibit outlining the flight plan in a filing posted on the Federal Communications Commission’s website Thursday.

The test flight — without any passengers on-board — will take off from SpaceX’s Starship development facility at Boca Chica Beach in South Texas, just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The Starship launch site, which SpaceX calls Starbase, is the same location where technicians are rapidly building new prototpes for the giant next-generation rocket.

When fully assembled, the gigantic reusable rocket will stand nearly 400 feet (120 meters) tall, making the Starship stack the largest launcher ever built.

The booster stage, called the Super Heavy, will have as many as 28 methane-burning Raptor engines on operational flights, producing some 16 million pounds of thrust, twice the power of NASA’s Apollo-era Saturn 5 rocket. Six Raptor engines will be fixed to the bottom of the rocket’s upper stage, which is itself also named the Starship.

The Starship vehicle doubles as an upper stage and a refillable transporter to ferry people and cargo through space to destinations in Earth orbit, the moon, Mars, and other distant locations.

SpaceX is developing the Starship vehicle as a fully reusable launch and space transportation system capable of ferrying more than 100 metric tons of cargo into low Earth orbit, more than any other rocket in the world.

During an orbital launch attempt, a reusable Super Heavy first stage booster will detach from the Starship and come back to Earth for a vertical landing. Eventually, SpaceX wants to use catcher arms on the launch tower to capture the descending first stage, making it easier to configure and refuel for another mission.

The Starship will continue into orbit and deploy its payloads or travel to its deep space destination, and finally return to Earth to be flown again.

The Starship’s first orbital test flight, though audacious in scale, will aim to prove out the rocket’s basic launch and re-entry capabilities without fully testing out the complicated landing and recovery systems, according to SpaceX’s filing with the FCC.

This trajectory illustration filed with the Federal Communications Commission shows the course SpaceX’s Super Heavy booster will follow on the first Starship orbital test flight. Credit: SpaceX

The rocket’s Super Heavy booster will fire its cluster of up to 28 Raptor engines for around 2 minute, 49 seconds, on a track toward the east from the Starbase launch site.

About two seconds later, the 230-foot-tall (70-meter) Super Heavy booster will jettison to begin a descent to a landing in the Gulf of Mexico around 8 minutes, 15 seconds, after launch. The giant booster will aim to land about 12 miles, (20 kilometers) from shore, according to SpaceX.

Meanwhile, the Starship orbital stage will ignite its Raptor engines at T+plus 3 minutes, 56 seconds, and accelerate into orbit, heading east over the Gulf of Mexico and following a track passing between South Florida and Cuba. Cutoff of the Raptor engines is expected about 8 minutes, 41 seconds, into the mission, SpaceX said, once the rocket achieves the required orbital velocity of around 17,000 mph (more than 27,000 kilometers per hour)

“The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits. It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing,” SpaceX said.

The entire flight — from liftoff in Texas to splashdown near Hawaii — will last around 90 minutes.

“SpaceX intends to collect as much data as possible during flight to quantify entry dynamics and better understand what the vehicle experiences in a flight regime that is extremely difficult to accurately predict or replicate computationally,” SpaceX said. “This data will anchor any changes in vehicle design or CONOPs (concept of operations) after the first flight and build better models for us to use in our internal simulations.”

This trajectory illustration filed with the Federal Communications Commission shows the course SpaceX’s Starship orbital stage will follow on the first Starship orbital test flight. Credit: SpaceX

The company did not identify a target date for the Starship program’s first orbital test launch, but SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk has said the Starship’s first shot into space could happen before the end of the year.

SpaceX’s request for authority from the FCC to operate communications equipment on the orbital Starship test flight suggests the company expects the demonstration mission to occur some time between June 20 and Dec. 20.

The first Starship orbital test flight, which Musk suggested earlier this year might happen as soon as July, will follow a series of ongoing atmospheric flights intended to validate the rocket’s performance at relatively low altitudes.

The five Starship prototypes launched since December have each used three Raptor engines to power the 16-story test rockets to altitudes of more than 30,000 feet (about 10 kilometers) over South Texas. Four test rockets exploded during or soon after landing, but the most recent Starship prototype — Serial No. 15 — nailed its vertical, propulsive touchdown back at the Starbase facility.

The Starship stage, like the Super Heavy booster and SpaceX’s partially reusable Falcon 9 rocket currently in operation, will use variable thrust from its main engines to slow down for landing.

This trajectory illustration filed with the Federal Communications Commission shows the course SpaceX’s Starship orbital stage will follow during re-entry to conclude the first Starship orbital test flight. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX plans more atmospheric test flights of Starship prototypes to fine-tune the rocket’s takeoff and landing. The company also plans a first “hop” test of a full-size Super Heavy booster, presumably before pressing ahead with an orbital launch attempt.

Engineers have tested coupon samples of heat shield material on the Starship’s stainless steel skin, but the orbital-class rocket will require a more extensive thermal barrier to withstand the super-hot temperatures of atmospheric re-entry.

The SN15 prototype that successfully launched and landed May 5 debuted several upgrades to the Starship rocket. The changes “will allow more speed and efficiency throughout production and flight,” SpaceX said.

The upgrades on SN15 include “a new enhanced avionics suite, updated propellant architecture in the aft skirt, and a new Raptor engine design and configuration,” SpaceX said.

The next jump in capability for the Starship rocket will come with SN20, which will be outfitted for an orbital test flight.

Musk tweeted earlier this year that the Super Heavy/Starship combination will initially have a high probability of achieving a successful launch into orbit, but it will likely take many attempts before SpaceX perfects the Starship’s re-entry and landing maneuvers from orbit.

Last month, SpaceX won a $2.9 billion contract from NASA to develop a derivative of the Starship vehicle to land astronauts on the Moon through the space agency’s Artemis program. SpaceX bested bids from Blue Origin and Dynetics to win the contract for NASA’s next human-rated lunar lander.

According to NASA’s plans, astronauts will depart Earth on the agency’s government-owned Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule, then rendezvous with a Starship pre-positioned in lunar orbit. The Starship would launch from Earth without anyone on-board.

After landing on the moon, the astronauts will exit the Starship and ride an elevator down to the surface. Once their work is complete, the crew members will launch on the Starship back into lunar orbit, meet up with the Orion capsule, and return to Earth.

Last month, SpaceX won a $2.9 billion contract from NASA to develop a derivative of the Starship vehicle to land astronauts on the moon through the space agency’s Artemis program. SpaceX bested bids from Blue Origin and Dynetics to win the contract for NASA’s next human-rated lunar lander.

According to NASA’s plans, astronauts will depart Earth on the agency’s government-owned Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule, then rendezvous with a Starship pre-positioned in lunar orbit. The Starship would launch from Earth without anyone on-board.

After landing on the moon, the astronauts will exit the Starship and ride an elevator down to the surface. Once their work is complete, the crew members will launch on the Starship back into lunar orbit, meet up with the Orion capsule, and return to Earth.

SpaceX has succeeded in cutting launch costs with the Falcon 9 rocket, which has a reusable first stage and payload shroud. But neither part is rapidly reusable, and the Falcon 9’s second stage is brand new for every mission.

“With Starship, we’ll hopefully reuse the whole thing,” Musk said last month. “This is a hard problem for rockets, that’s for sure. It’s taken us, we’re like 19 years in now. I think the Starship design can work. It’s just, it’s a hard thing to solve, and the support of NASA is very much appreciated in this regard. I think it’s going to work.”

Musk eventually wants to have a fleet of ocean-going platforms to recover and re-launch Super Heavy boosters and Starship rockets.

“It’s intended to be such that the booster can be used, I don’t know, a dozen times a day, basically every couple of hours,” Musk said in an X PRIZE webcast last month. “And that mostly is about reloading propellant and mounting the ship. and then the ship can probably be used, in theory, every three hours … But certainly every, say, six to nine hours. We’ll call it twice a day for the ship. And we’ll make more ships than there are boosters.”

SpaceX officials have suggested that Starships could be tasked with high-speed point-to-point intercontinental travel on Earth.

“Once we have the floating space platforms, we can position them such that the ship can come back in a single orbit,” Musk said. “So then it can be, let’s say we have three ship launches per day, that’s 1,000 flights a year, each with 100 to 150 tonnes of payload to orbit.”

“I’d say it’s only recently though that I feel that full and rapid reusability can be accomplished,” Musk said. “I wasn’t sure for a long time, but I am sure now.”

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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Japanese billionaire, Russian actress to fly to ISS




WASHINGTON — A Japanese billionaire best known for buying a SpaceX Starship flight around the moon will go to space first on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station, two months after a Russian actress and director visit the station.

Space tourism company Space Adventures and the Russian space agency Roscosmos announced May 13 that Yusaku Maezawa will fly to the ISS on the Soyuz MS-20 mission launching Dec. 8 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. He will be accompanied by a production assistant, Yozo Hirano, on the 12-day flight, commanded by Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

“We are excited for Maezawa-san, and we are honored to have enabled this opportunity for him to fly to space,” Eric Anderson, chairman and chief executive of Space Adventures, said in the statement.

The mission will be the first brokered by Space Adventures, which arranged all previous space tourists to visit the ISS, since Guy Laliberté, the Canadian founder of Cirque du Soleil, flew to the station in 2009. British singer Sarah Brightman was to fly to the station in 2015 through a deal arranged by Space Adventures, but she backed out several months in advance, citing personal issues.

Space Adventures had been working on this mission, the first dedicated commercial Soyuz flight to the station, for some time, but the selection of Maezawa and Hirano was a surprise. Earlier reports suggested that Austrian pilot Johanna Maislinger and Japanese entertainer Yumi Matsutoya would fly on Soyuz MS-20.

Maezawa, an entrepreneur who made billions with the Japanese online apparel retailer Zozo, is best known in the space industry for his 2018 decision to buy a SpaceX Starship circumlunar flight. He said he planned to fly on that mission along with eight artists.

In March, Maezawa announced a contest to choose the people who will accompany him on that “dearMoon” mission, scheduled for 2023. That process is scheduled to conclude with the selection of the crew by the end of June, but the project has not provided any public updates since late March, and few details in general about the process it will use to determine who will accompany Maezawa.

“I’m so curious, ‘what’s life like in space’? So, I am planning to find out on my own and share with the world on my YouTube channel,” Maezawa said in the Space Adventures statement, which added that Hirano “will be responsible for documenting Mr. Maezawa’s mission.”

Maezawa said he was still planning to fly on Starship around the moon. “Going to the ISS before the Moon,” he tweeted.

The announcement of the Space Adventures flight came the same day that Roscosmos announced actress Yulia Peresild will accompany director Klim Shipenko and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov on the Soyuz MS-19 mission to the ISS, launching Oct. 5.

Peresild and Shipenko will spend 12 days on the station, shooting scenes for a Russian movie called “Vyzov” (“The Challenge”) that Roscosmos is producing with a Russian network, First Channel. The two will return on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft currently at the station with Oleg Novitsky.

Novitsky launched on Soyuz MS-18 April 9 with Russian cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov and American astronaut Mark Vande Hei. Dubrov and Vande Hei will have to remain on the station for an extended mission because their seats will be occupied by Peresild and Shipenko.

Vande Hei, formally added to Soyuz MS-18 just a month before launch after NASA and Roscosmos worked out a deal for a seat that involved a third party, Axiom Space, said before launch that he was aware he could stay longer than the typical six-month increment on the station. “Honestly, for me it’s just an opportunity for a new life experience. I’ve never been in space longer than six months,” he said. “I’m really enthusiastic about it.”

Peresild, an actress who has appeared extensively in Russian television and film, was one of four finalists for the mission. Another actress, Alena Mordovina, will train as the backup for the mission. A third finalist, Galina Kairova, a pilot and amateur actress, was invited by Roscosmos to train to become a professional cosmonaut.

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Shareholders approve extension of Momentus deal




WASHINGTON — Shareholders in the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) seeking to merge with in-space transportation company Momentus have narrowly approved a three-month extension of a deadline to complete the deal.

Stable Road Acquisition Corporation said May 13 a little more than 65% of the company’s shareholders had voted in favor of extending the deadline for closing a deal by three months, to Aug. 13. Had the vote failed, the SPAC would have been liquidated, with stockholders receiving $10.03 per share.

In a statement, Brian Kabot, chairman and chief executive of Stable Road, thanked shareholders for their “overwhelming support” in favor of the extension, noting that 98.2% of shares that participated in the vote approved the extension. However, because of shareholders who chose not to vote, the total fraction of shares voting in favor of the extension was 66.2%, just above the 65% threshold required for passage.

Stable Road made a full-court press in the last two weeks to win approval for the extension, including news releases and a one-hour webinar. It argued that it needed the extra time to complete the deal, and that it was not uncommon for SPACs to see three- and six-month extensions to close deals.

A SPAC typically has a two-year period from the time it raises money by going public to merge with a privately held company. Stable Road had only an 18-month deadline for completing a deal, Kabot noted earlier this month.

While Stable Road now has three more months to complete a merger with Momentus, it still faces several obstacles for doing so. Momentus announced May 11 that the Federal Aviation Administration denied its payload review application, which the company sought in order to fly its first two tugs as part of a SpaceX rideshare launch in June. The FAA informed Momentus that an interagency review concluded “the launch of Momentus’ payload poses national security concerns” because of the company’s foreign ownership.

The company has spent months addressing those foreign ownership concerns, raised early this year by the Defense Department. Mikhail Kokorich, the Russian co-founder of the company, stepped down in January, and in March he and Brainyspace LLC, a firm owned by co-founder Lev Khasis and his wife, agreed to divest their shares within three years.

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