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SpaceX’s second Super Heavy booster enters production in South Texas

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In a rare burst of visible activity, SpaceX’s South Texas Starship factory has begun fabricating a second Super Heavy booster and taken a significant step forward on the first prototype.

Set to be the largest operational rocket stage ever built by more than a factor of two, Super Heavy is the booster tasked with launching a fully fueled and loaded Starship (~1400 mT or 3 million lbs) out of the bulk of Earth’s atmosphere. Powered by up to 28 Raptor engines, Super Heavy and Starship will weigh upwards of 5000 metric tons (~11 million lbs) and produce anywhere from 5600 to 7700 metric tons (12.5-17 million lbf) of thrust at liftoff.

Most importantly, though SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has noted that an optimized Starship might be able to reach orbit on a one-way trip, a giant, reasonably efficient booster like Super Heavy is necessary to send Starship into a healthy orbit with all the extra hardware and mass needed to make the orbital spaceship reusable. More than twice as heavy and two-thirds as tall as SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, that will be no small feat.

(SpaceX)

Following the appearance of Super Heavy booster number 1’s (BN1) unique common dome, extra-large ‘transfer tube’ segments, and a donut-like eight-Raptor thrust section last month, visible booster work settled down for the next several weeks. In the interim, Musk revealed that SpaceX aims to hop the first Super Heavy booster (BN1) just “a few months” into 2021, followed by the bombshell that the CEO wants to eventually catch Super Heavy boosters to avoid the need for landing legs entirely.

Two weeks after that latest info from Musk and a month after major booster-related factory activity, the first hardware intended for Super Heavy prototype BN2 was spotted on January 19th. Featuring a never-before-seen structural addition in the form of what looks like a hexagonal or octagonal steel ring, the booster’s unique forward dome represents the first real evidence of the modifications needed to install a variety of hardware specific to Super Heavy.

The limited nature and number of current views make it hard to conclude with certainty that the BN2 forward dome’s add-on is hexagonal or octagonal – either could technically be made to work. Barring a surprise design change, Super Heavy – like Falcon 9 and Heavy boosters – will sport four equally spaced grid fins and use them to ensure aerodynamic stability and control authority from hypersonic to supersonic velocities. Based on official SpaceX graphics, Super Heavy’s grid fins will be built out of welded steel, measure some 7 meters (23 ft) tall, and likely weigh 5+ metric tons apiece, thus requiring extremely powerful actuation systems and strong structural support.

Like Falcon 9 boosters, Super Heavy will rely on four giant grid fins – fins that need complex actuator systems and structural support. (Richard Angle)

Meanwhile, beyond Super Heavy BN2’s first visible appearance, the process of assembling the first booster prototype also took a significant step forward. Sometime on January 19th, SpaceX ended a long period of inactivity, stacking the first Super Heavy ring sections since November 2020. More specifically, SpaceX teams appear to have installed either one or two four-ring sections on an existing booster segment already inside the high bay.

If at rest on top of the rest of the stack in Mary’s (BocaChicaGal) latest photo, one of two Super Heavy ‘stacks’ inside the high bay is now 12 rings (three sections) tall, representing almost a third of a complete 70-meter (~230 ft) tall booster. As of the most recent look inside the high bay, there were two separate stacks of Super Heavy rings – one with four and the other with eight. Based on the location of the new 12-ring stack, it’s more likely than not that SpaceX has simply combined the 12 rings last seen inside the high bay rather than adding one or two new ring sections to one of the two separate stacks.

Ultimately, the return of Super Heavy stacking activity after a two-month pause is an encouraging sign that SpaceX has settled on a design for the first few prototype boosters and could, in fact, be ready to start testing BN1 “a few months” from now.

SpaceX’s second Super Heavy booster enters production in South Texas

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-second-super-heavy-booster-production/

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Mercedes-Benz EQS Interior Teaser Lets Designers Explain The Cabin

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JLR Cancels Electric Road Rover, Jaguar J-Pace Likely Dead As Well

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Uber spins out delivery robot startup as Serve Robotics

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Postmates X, the robotics division of the on-demand delivery startup that Uber acquired last year for $2.65 billion, has officially spun out as an independent company called Serve Robotics.

TechCrunch reported in January that a deal was being shopped to investors.

Serve Robotics, a name taken from the autonomous sidewalk delivery bot that was developed and piloted by Postmates X, has raised seed funding in a round led by venture capital firm Neo. Other investors included Uber as well as Lee Jacobs and Cyan Banister’s Long Journey Ventures, Western Technology Investment, Scott Banister, Farhad Mohit and Postmates co-founders Bastian Lehmann and Sean Plaice.

Serve Robotics didn’t share specifics of the funding except to confirm that the round, which will be a Series A, has not been completed yet. Funding a spin out can occur in phases, with the first tranche used for the initial launch and the rest of the round closing once IP has been transferred.

The new company will be run by Ali Kashani, who headed up Postmates X. Other co-founders include Dmitry Demeshchuk, the first engineer who joined the Serve team at Postmates and MJ Chun, who previously led product at Anki, has been heading up product strategy at Serve. The company is launching with 60 employees with headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada.

Serve Robotics Uber Postmates

Image Credits: Serve Robotics

“While self-driving cars remove the driver, robotic delivery eliminates the car itself and makes deliveries sustainable and accessible to all,” said Kashani, co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics. “Over the next two decades, new mobility robots will enter every aspect of our lives–first moving food, then everything else.”

Postmates’ exploration into sidewalk delivery bots began in earnest in 2017 after the company quietly acquired Kashani’s startup Lox Inc. As head of Postmates X, Kashani set out to answer the question: why move two-pound burritos with two-ton cars? Postmates revealed its first Serve autonomous delivery bot in December 2018. A second generation — with an identical design but different lidar sensors and few other upgrades — emerged in summer 2019 ahead of its planned commercial launch in Los Angeles.

The company’s mission to design, develop, and operate delivery robots specialized in navigating sidewalks will continue, albeit with an eye towards expansion. Serve will continue its delivery operations in Los Angeles. It plans to ramp up research and development in the San Francisco Bay area and expand its market reach through new partnerships.

The spin out is consistent with Uber’s aim to narrow the focus of its business on ride-hailing and delivery in a push towards profitability. This strategy began to take shape after Uber’s public market debut in May 2019 and accelerated last year as the COVID-19 pandemic put pressure on the ride-hailing company. Two years ago, Uber had enterprises across the transportation landscape, from ride-hailing and micromobility to logistics, public transit, food delivery and futuristic bets like autonomous vehicles and air taxis. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has dismantled the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach as he pushes the company toward profitability.

In 2020, Uber offloaded shared scooter and bike unit Jump in a complex deal with Lime, sold a stake worth $500 million in its logistics spinoff Uber Freight and rid itself of its autonomous vehicle unit Uber ATG and its air taxi play Uber Elevate. Aurora acquired Uber ATG in a deal that had a similar structure to the Jump-Lime transaction. Aurora didn’t pay cash for Uber ATG. Instead, Uber handed over its equity in ATG and invested $400 million into Aurora, which gave it a 26% stake in the combined company. In a similarly crafted deal, Uber Elevate was sold to Joby Aviation in December.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/02/uber-spins-out-delivery-robot-startup-as-serve-robotics/

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The 2022 C40 Recharge will be Volvo’s first leather-free EV

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Volvo is going all in on going green, the company announced during an online press event on Tuesday. The car maker pledged to produce nothing but electrics by 2030, go fully carbon neutral by 2040 and to begin selling its vehicles virtually — startin… Checkout PrimeXBT
Source: https://www.engadget.com/the-2022-c-40-recharge-will-be-volvos-first-leather-free-ev-161142216.html

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