NASA’s Orion Crew Capsule Aced Its Abort System Test

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 09:22 AM PDT

NASA tested its Orion spacecraft's Launch Abort System (LAS) on Tuesday — and it seems the astronaut escape plan worked exactly as hoped.

Orion Exit Strategy

Before NASA can attempt to send astronauts back to the Moon, it needs to know they have a way to GTFO of harm’s way if something goes wrong during the trip.

To that end, the space agency tested its Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS) on Tuesday — and it seems NASA’s astronaut escape plan works exactly as hoped.

Mission Aborted

To start the three-minute-long Ascent Abort-2 test, NASA launched an Orion crew module on a modified Peacekeeper missile built by Northrop Grumman.

Once the pair reached an altitude of about 9.6 kilometers (6 miles), the abort sequence triggered. This sent the crew module blasting away from the rocket and on its journey to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Moving Forward

NASA’s now rounding up the 12 data recorders the crew capsule ejected during its descent so it can analyze the data to confirm that everything went as planned.

At first glance, however, it appears we’re now one step closer to returning humans to the Moon.

“It was a very smooth liftoff,” Orion Program Manager Mark Kirasich said in a press release. “By all first accounts, it was magnificent.”

READ MORE: NASA performs successful test of Orion spacecraft launch abort crew escape system [TechCrunch]

More on Orion: Congress Denies NASA Request for More Moon Mission Money

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‘Spaceteam’ Is a Frantic Sci-fi Card Game That Makes Dying in Outer Space Fun!

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:44 AM PDT

The Spaceteam card game is here.

If you saw the movie Alien, or any of its sequels, you know what happens when you’re marooned in space and you don’t work together as a team. Cooperation is key in all dangerous environments, and that’s especially true in a malfunctioning spaceship. And that’s pretty much the entire premise behind Spaceteam, a fast-paced, a science-fiction-themed cooperative card game.

Spaceteam is an adaptation of a popular mobile game of the same name. The game puts you and up to five more players (and even more if you buy the expansion packs) on board a spaceship that’s in need of increasingly urgent repairs. The goal is to avoid obliteration by repairing the ship before it’s too late. But the repairs in question require the cooperation of all players, and also a lot of friendly shouting.

Spaceteam: A Fast-paced, Cooperative, Shouting Card Game

Spaceteam is based of the popular mobile game.

The game seems simple enough on the surface: Each player starts with five Tool Cards, with absolutely real names like "Centrifugal Disperser" or "Kilobypass Transformer.” Each Tool Card can only work on certain Malfunction Cards, which are randomly drawn, and represent the various problems plaguing your imaginary spacecraft. Cards can be passed to adjacent players,, but never across, meaning the team has to find out who has the proper card and get it from point A to point B within the allotted amount of time, or risk being sucked into the vacuum of space.

The game is a proven winner, even among new players, because learning how to play is half the fun. Within minutes of starting the game, even a group of total strangers will soon be treating each other like old friends thanks to the transformative magic of cooperative shouting. As one happy Amazon customer put it:

Brought this to a game night where I didn't know many of the people and by the end of the third round we were screaming at each other like we'd known each other for years."

The basic Spaceteam set comes with 90 playing cards, a timer, and instructions. But if you’re curious about those aforementioned expansion packs, they include extra cards that add some interesting twists to the game. To keep things family-friendly (like the game itself), go with the TRIANGULUM EXPANSION. But for an adults-only version of the game, take a look at the NSFS EXPANSION, which adds provocative gadgets like Anesthetizers, Inebriators, and Pleasurizers into the mix.

It’s worth noting that the game was produced using funds from an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign which managed to raise almost $200,000 in the first thirty days, so obviously it has some loyal fans. And if you’re interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, click here to get your copy of Spaceteam, today.

Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with an affiliate partner. We may collect a small commission on items purchased through this page. This post does not necessarily reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.

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Sorry, but ’Oumuamua the Asteroid Wasn’t Sent by Aliens, Say Scientists, For Some Reason Dignifying This Yet Again

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 07:07 AM PDT

An in-depth study of 'Oumuamua, the first interstellar visitor to our solar system, seems to finally put to bed the theory that it's an alien spacecraft.

Sorry, SETI

In 2017, an asteroid came barreling past the Earth. That alone isn’t particularly noteworthy, but this object was unlike any other.

Not only was it the first to hail from outside our solar system, but it also had a weird shape and spin, plus it accelerated in an unexpected way while passing the Sun.

Astronomers dubbed the strange asteroid ‘Oumuamua, and soon, speculation swirled that the object was sent by aliens — but a new study may finally put the extraterrestrial theory to bed.

Natural Origin

On Monday, an international team of researchers published a new study on ‘Oumuamua in the journal Nature Astronomy. In it, they write that they found “no compelling evidence to favour an alien explanation” for the strange interstellar object.

“'Oumuamua's properties are consistent with a natural origin,” researcher Matthew Knight, an astronomer from the University of Maryland, told Reuters, “and an alien explanation is unwarranted.”

Seems the asteroid would have needed to do something far more out-of-the-ordinary to convince the team it was sent by ET, with Knight telling Reuters, “Yes, if it made a sudden, unexplainable turn that would certainly have warranted further exploration.”

READ MORE: Interstellar object ‘Oumuamua almost definitely not aliens, we think [New Scientist]

More on ‘Oumuamua: Harvard Astronomer Defends Hypothesis That Object Is Alien Probe

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Stunning Cosmic Fireworks Display Captured by Hubble, Right on Time

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 06:28 AM PDT

The most extravagant Fourth of July fireworks can't hold a candle to the stunning cosmic fireworks display the Hubble telescope has captured.

Explosions in the Sky

Roughly 7,500 light-years away from Earth is a double star system called Eta Carinae. In 1838, one of the system’s two stars underwent a near-death experience astronomers dubbed the “Great Eruption,” and for nearly two centuries, scientists have been watching the stunning aftermath of that event.

On Monday, researchers from NASA and the ESA released new photos of Eta Carinae captured by the Hubble telescope — and the most extravagant Fourth of July firework display can’t hold a candle to this cosmic one.

The Big Show

The new images are Hubble’s highest resolution photos of Eta Carinae, and they provide a remarkable view of the star system’s expanding gases, which glow in a holiday-appropriate red, white, and blue.

The cosmic fireworks aren’t just notable for their beauty, either, according to researcher Nathan Smith.

“We had used Hubble for decades to study Eta Carinae in visible and infrared light, and we thought we had a pretty full account of its ejected debris,” Smith said in a press release. “But this new ultraviolet-light image looks astonishingly different, revealing gas we did not see in either visible-light or infrared images.”

READ MORE: Hubble Captures Cosmic Fireworks in Ultraviolet [ESA]

More on Eta Carinae: What's the Biggest Star in the Universe? Depends on Your Definition of "Big"

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NASA’s TESS Mission Has Spotted Its Smallest Exoplanet Ever

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:58 PM PDT

NASA's TESS mission has a new discovery: a small exoplanet named L 98-59b, the tiniest TESS has ever spotted, which NASA says could have its own atmosphere.

Little Big Exoplanet

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) keeps knocking it out of the park with planet discoveries. The satellite’s most recent finding is a little exoplanet called L 98-59b — and it’s the tiniest exoplanet TESS has ever spotted.

Measuring slightly bigger than Mars, but still smaller than Earth, the exoplanet orbits its own bright, cool nearby star about 35 light-years away, alongside two other exoplanets. NASA wants to begin studying the three planets to study whether they’ve got atmospheres, and if they do, what gasses comprise these atmospheres. The three exoplanets “are prime targets for further follow-up observations” according to research on the discovery published in The Astronomical Journal, and studying them could potentially reveal a host of other nearby undiscovered planets.


Small Planets, Big Potential

All three worlds in the L 98-59 system were discovered by TESS using “transits,” or periodic dips in a star's brightness. These happen when each planet passes in front of the satellite. TESS holds still for about 27 days at a time to monitor one 24-by-96-degree sector of the sky during this process, and in July, the mission will have completed its first year of observations.

The other two worlds in the system, L 98-59c and L 98-59d, are about 1.4 and 1.6 times bigger than Earth. Unfortunately, NASA says none of the planets lie within their star’s habitable zone, which would make the existence of liquid water possible. But despite that, the planets do occupy the “Venus zone,” where a planet with an Earth-like atmosphere could experience a greenhouse gas effect, that would (theoretically!) give it a Venus-like atmosphere — but NASA says more study of the planets is required before we know for sure.

“The discovery is a great engineering and scientific accomplishment for TESS,” said Veselin Kostov, an astrophysicist for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. “For atmospheric studies of small planets, you need short orbits around bright stars, but such planets are difficult to detect. This system has the potential for fascinating future studies.”

READ MORE: TESS Finds Its Smallest Planet Yet [NASA]

 Read more on recently-discovered exoplanets: Scientists Find the Most Earth-Like Exoplanet Ever — and It’s Nearby

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US Army Announces First Deployment of Its Pocket-Sized Drones

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:55 PM PDT

Soldiers in Afghanistan will be the first in the United States military to use its pocket-sized Black Hornet recon drones.

First Action

In February, we found out that the United States Army was spending $39 million on Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance Systems, tiny reconnaissance drones small enough to fit in a soldier's palm.

Now we now know whose palms the drones will inhabit first.

Afghani Push

A spokesperson for the 82nd Airborne Division told Stars and Stripes that troops with the Division's 3rd Brigade Combat team will be the first in the military to use the Black Hornets.

Specifically, the Brigade’s 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, will employ the drones while deployed in Afghanistan this July. If all goes well, the rest of the Brigade could start leveraging the drones soon after.

Life Saver

Each of the tiny drones is equipped with several cameras it uses to survey an environment while deployed. It can then provide a soldier with live video and still images that could literally save their lives while in a combat situation.

“This kind of technology will be a life-saver for us because it takes us out of harm's way while enhancing our ability to execute whatever combat mission we're on,” Ryan Subers, an Army sergeant trained to use the Black Hornet, said in an Army statement.

“I'm very grateful for technology like this and to be a part of the first unit to use it.”

READ MORE: First Army battalion with mini drones heading to Afghanistan [Stars and Stripes]

More on the Black Hornet: The US Army Is Equipping Soldiers With Pocket-Sized Recon Drones

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This Is What You Get When You Rent Friends From the Internet

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:05 PM PDT

You can now peruse online profiles to pick someone you want to hang out with on a platonic level —as long as renting friends is something you can afford.

Pick Your Person

Lots of people think they know how to address the loneliness epidemic sweeping the globe.

More than 1,000 cafes in the U.K. now have designated tables for lonely people to chat with one another, and lonesome folks can now take advantage of a growing number of algorithm-powered friendship apps.

In South Korea, engineers have built a robot that encourages young people to socialize, while University of Chicago scientists are currently hard at work developing a pill to make it easier for lonely people to reach out to others.

But long before “loneliness epidemic” was even a term, entrepreneur Scott Rosenbaum was already attempting to help people feel less socially isolated — by renting friends to them by the hour.

Renting Friends

Rosenbaum launched RentAFriend.com in 2009, and today, members pay $24.95 per month for the ability to contact the available “friends” with profiles on the site.

The two then negotiate an hourly rate for the friend rental, with the friend keeping 100 percent of the agreed-upon fee, which is delivered in cash upon meeting.

According to RentAFriend’s about page, that usually starts at $10 per hour, meaning Vox writer Jean-Luc Bouchard must’ve rented a top-of-the-line friend for his recent investigation into the website.

Expensive Not-a-Date

In the piece, Bouchard recounts how he paid a woman he found on RentAFriend $20 per hour to join him for a movie, a walk through New York City, and a meal of cactus tacos. The afternoon cost him a total average of $47 per hour, if you count what he paid for the membership fee, movie tickets, and food.

While his afternoon with Lyla (not her real name) was perfectly pleasant, the exchange of money prevented it from feeling like a genuine encounter with a new friend — but that’s not to say Bouchard didn’t see the value in the service provided by RentAFriend.

“Renting a friend felt worse than regular friendship — it lacked its ease, the mutual respect and comfort that familiarity allows, and the certainty that it will last longer than an afternoon,” Bouchard wrote, “but it also felt better than being lonely.”

Paid Friends vs. No Friends

Today, more Americans are living alone than at any other time in the nation’s history, and the average household size in shrinking as more people choose to forgo marriage and parenthood.

Those changes and others have contributed to a doubling of the percentage of American adults who say they're lonely over the past few decades, from 20 percent in the 1980s to 40 percent by 2013.

Former U.S. surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy described that growing sense of loneliness amongst Americans as a public health crisis back in 2017 for good reason — research has linked loneliness to countless health problems, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, dementia, and suicide attempts.

So, while Bouchard may have found RentAFriend to fall short of genuine friendship, the potential health benefits of renting friends might be worthwhile for those for whom the free kind of companionship isn’t an option.

READ MORE: I paid $47 an hour for someone to be my friend [Vox]

More on loneliness: Feeling Lonely? Scientists Are Developing a Pill to Fight Loneliness

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Excerpt: Three Key Takeaways From Your Clouds Can 2019

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 12:50 PM PDT

At Your Clouds Can 2019, Futurism and IBM turned the typical conference structure on its head. During the day-long event, a select group of individuals visited four different NYC companies that use cloud computing to innovate in their fields – all while exploring topics like vision, design, and scale.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from Your Clouds Can 2019.


It all starts with a vision for how to create a deeper connection with your customers by delivering on their needs and desires proactively. How do you orient your organization around this North Star?

1. Who are you really competing against?

In order to fully understand your organization's trajectory and the needs and expectations of your customers, it's best to determine exactly who (or what) your competition is. While all of us are working to make the world a better place and trying to make life easier for our customers, the realm of business competition is shifting.

"We used to compete with people who made a product like ours. Now we compete against the best customer interaction that your customer has had anywhere."

– Deborah Leff. Global Leader and Industry CTO for Data Science at AI Elite Team at IBM


Data is your most valuable resource. But like any untapped resource, it takes work, understanding, and human ingenuity to fully utilize the resource and unleash the true power of data.

2. Strategy is paramount to getting the most out of your data.

Data must be analyzed, leveraged, shaped, and developed, but the data itself has no value unless it's rooted in strategy. How your company organizes data, the way your teams work to mine insights and make recommendations with that data is absolutely vital and part and parcel to the value of your data.

"We get calls from a lot of advertising partners, asking for a trend newsletter… and the answer is you can't, all of these insights don't work for everybody."

– Talia Halperin, VP of Brand Partnerships, BuzzFeed

With the right team and proper organization, you can take your raw stone data and yield highly polished, precious gems.


Think big. Start small. Move fast. If you don't know what you're testing, all the results in the world will tell you nothing. These Lean Startup concepts are not new but they are becoming ever more important when leveraging data and building for scale.

3. Flywheel: spinning into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Successful businesses transition from giving their customers what the executives think they want, to giving their customers what they actually want, based on data, feedback, insight, and experimentation.

"What are consumers actually saying about my brands, my business? How do I take what my consumer is saying and help fuel product development? And then you take product development, you provide products that people actually want, they love, they like, and that’s the point where you can then have the data relationship with them to then stick it back into the system to keep listening to them, to keep building better product."

– Mike Simpson, CMO, Stanley Black and Decker

To access the remaining 7 key takeaways from the event, visit YourCloudsCan.com

Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with IBM, who sponsored this post. They help us keep the lights on. This post does not reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.

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SpaceX Being Sketch(X) About the 3 Starlink Satellites That Failed

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 10:44 AM PDT

A month after launch, SpaceX confirmed that three of the 60 Starlink satellites it sent into space have failed — and it won't elaborate as to why.

Starlink Failures

Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched 60 satellites into Earth’s orbit on May 23 as part of Starlink, an initiative to deliver broadband internet to the entire world.

On Friday, a company spokesperson sent a statement to Business Insider detailing the current state of SpaceX’s ambitious project. That statement revealed that three of the 60 satellites have failed in the past month — and SpaceX won’t say why.

No Explanation

SpaceX declined to elaborate on the satellite failures when asked by Business Insider, so it either doesn’t know what caused them or, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to say.

All the company noted in the statement was that the bunk satellites will now “passively deorbit” and disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere.

SpaceX also confirmed plans to purposefully send two satellites on to a similar fiery fate, intentionally deorbiting the pair to prove that the Starlink satellites won’t contribute to Earth’s space debris problem once no longer in use.

Bigger Problems

If SpaceX really doesn’t know what caused the satellite failures, it’s possible they’re just not saying until they know. And they’d definitely want to know.

The obvious desire to understand why one’s satellite broke not withstanding, the company eventually wants to include 12,000 satellites in the Starlink network, and a loss of 5 percent of those would be a whopping 600 satellites.

Hopefully, the deorbitting goes as planned, too — three faulty satellites in space might not be such a big deal, but 600 would be a whole lot of space junk.

READ MORE: SpaceX lost contact with 3 of the Starlink internet satellites it launched in May, but the company seems pleased with its first batch overall [Business Insider]

More on Starlink: SpaceX Just Unleashed 60 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit

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