An artist’s conception shows a passenger looking out the window of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship. (Blue Origin Illustration) Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture, , is playing down reports that a suborbital space trip on its New Shepard rocket ship could cost $200,000 to $300,000. “We have not set ticket pricing and have had no serious discussions inside of Blue on this topic,” Brett Griffin, a member of Blue Origin’s media team, told GeekWire in an email. “We will begin selling tickets sometime after our first human flights and are focused on developing New Shepard.” Blue Origin has flown eight uncrewed flight tests of the , which consists of a reusable booster that flies itself back to a landing and a crew capsule that floats back down at the end of a parachute. Further uncrewed flight tests reaching as high as 100 kilometers, the internationally recognized boundary of space, are expected in the months ahead. Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith told GeekWire in April that the company is aiming to start flying people by the end of this year. Those people won’t be commercial customers, however. “We will fly Blue Origin astronauts before we fly commercial passengers and haven’t done any real work on passenger selection or the ticket sale process,” Griffin said. Blue Origin does, however, offer an for would-be passengers, and it recently for an astronaut experience manager. (The ad was not that long ago, which could mean the position is filled. Or not.) They company has former NASA astronauts on its staff, and in private conversations, they tend to say they’d love to have first crack at flying on New Shepard. There have also been rumblings that Blue Origin employees would get an early chance to fly. Last year, one newly hired employee went so far as to tell a newspaper reporter that . (The company pooh-poohed that report.) , claiming that the price tag for a flight could be set in the range of $200,000 to $300,000, was attributed to two unnamed Blue Origin employees who were said to have knowledge of the pricing plan. For what it’s worth, those figures are in the same range as the price tag advertised by , which is also testing a suborbital spaceship for passenger flights. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the future price tag is a topic of conversation at the Blue Origin’s headquarters in Kent, Wash., particularly if there’s now an astronaut experience manager on the case. But today’s statement suggests that it’s too way too early to write a check. “We will fly passengers when we are ready,” Griffin said. “We have a flight test schedule, and schedules of those types always have uncertainties and contingencies. Anyone predicting dates is guessing.”
July 13, 2018
(University of Akron) Researchers will model response of colon cancer cells to anticancer drugs using 3D cultures. By exploring specific mechanisms of a cancer cell's feedback signaling that renders tumors non-responsive, they can design treatment strategies that effectively block tumor growth with significantly reduced toxicity to normal cells.
July 13, 2018
(University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine) Ultrasonic repositioning of kidney stones will be tested in emergency department patients at UW Medicine as part of the development of a new medical technology for NASA. Astronauts are prone to kidney stones during space missions. The hope is that pushing stones with an ultrasound tractor beam would offer pain relief and avoid medical complications of urinary backups for astronauts affected in space.
July 13, 2018
(Tokyo Institute of Technology) Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a ruthenium-based perovskite catalyst that shows strong activity even at low temperatures (down to 313 K). The reusable catalyst does not require additives, meaning that it can prevent the formation of toxic by-products. The oxidation of sulfides is a commercially important process with broad applications ranging from chemicals production to environmental management.
July 13, 2018