NASA has awarded Cedar Park company Firefly Aerospace with $93.3 million to deliver a module of 10 science experiments and technology demonstrations to the moon in 2023.
The company, which specializes in providing spacecraft and other space technologies, will not perform the launch itself but will create the spacecraft and lander, known as the "Blue Ghost," for the mission.
The award is a part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services, an initiative that brings American companies into upcoming lunar projects.
Firefly's lander will head for the Moon's Mare Crisium basin, a basin on the "light" side of the moon facing Earth. The spacecraft will be loaded up with technologies meant for testing the moon's mantle, a laser that will identify the exact distance from Earth to the Moon and other tools to test the Moon's surface. The project is also a part of the Artemis project and will help gain information for future human habitation.
Firefly will develop the "Blue Ghost" at its Cedar Park location, according to lander program manager Shea Ferring.
"We are utilizing our Austin-based AS9100-certified engineering, test, and production facilities to build and operate world-class spacecraft," Ferring said. "NASA's support for our lunar program allows us to increase our capabilities for in-space services to the benefit of both U.S. government and commercial customers."
Although this isn't Firefly's first NASA order, it is the first delivery project awarded to the company and by far its largest-scale project to date. Dr. Max Polyakov, founder of Firefly's largest investor Noosphere Ventures, said in a press release that the contract is rewarding and will help the company gain recognition toward national projects in years to come.
"This award is further validation of Firefly, its team and its mission to become a versatile provider of a broad range of space-related services,'' Polyakov said. "It's extremely gratifying to know that NASA recognizes the tremendous talent we've assembled at Firefly. Our recently appointed board members bring the highest level of U.S. Government expertise and provide strategic guidance to further strengthen the company as we move into this next phase of accelerated growth. It's an exciting time.''
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Life was so sweet for music junkies in the Live Music Capital of the World—up until the venues closed, the stages went dark, and the world of Austin music closed down.
Miss your places? Miss your people? Miss blowing all your money on music?
Don't fret, fans!
You may not be sitting on the patio at Sahara or chilling in the Continental Gallery on a Wednesday evening, but in the months that Austin has been on lockdown, local musicians, venues and studios have figured out how to bring a world of live music to you online.
So check out our sampling of the myriad ways you can get your live music fix from your own home, any day of the week. This is not comprehensive—start with these and go down the rabbit hole on your own!
From studios to artists to venues to radio stations, we have a solid list that will get you started on your journey back into the live music world that is the very heart of our city.
Also, these are regular shows, not one-offs, and they are all free or very cheap—but if you have the means, you'll find a link to let you tip the musicians or bartenders.
It's going to be a long road back, but as Patrice Pike would say, keep the faith and, as we all would say, long live the music.
Jagtronica Wednedsays, Purple Bee TV
Interstellar grooves and psychedelic explorations improvised by a full band - live in the Purple Bee studios. Wednesdays 8 p.m.
Patrice Pike Band Keep the Faith Livestream
Iconic hard rock favorite unplugs in her home space. Thursdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Afro Jazz Saturdays at the Sahara Lounge
Join this East Austin gem of a bar for regular virtual live shows from the stage, including a regular online residency by African jazz musicians Ibrahim Aminou and Aboubacar Sylla. Saturdays 8 p.m. https://www.facebook.com/SaharaLoungeATX
This local Austin-centric arm of KUT hosts various performance livestreams nearly every day of the week. Find their schedule here.
Live in the Virtual Gallery with Bonnie WhitmoreAugust 2020 — Bonnie Whitmore
Raucous and talented local singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore brings back the Continental Gallery with musical guests every weekend. Fridays 8:30 p.m.
BettySoo's Nobody's Happy (Online and Isolated) HourBettySoo's Nobody's Happy Hour - Summer 2020
Take the heartfelt lyrics of Townes and mix it with the comedic timing of Janeane Garofalo and the voice of an angel, you might come close to defining this engaging and popular performer. Tuesdays 6:30 p.m.
DJ Mel's Living Room Dance Party
A streaming staple practically since the day the venues shut down, DJ Mel Cavaricci (aka DJ Mel) spins from his living room. Saturdays 6-10p.m.
Dreadneck Wednesdays from the Flamingo CantinaDreadneck Wednesdays Live Stream w/ Mau Mau Chaplains
The Mau Mau Chaplains bring the irie back at this iconic 6th Street venue each week. Wednesdays 8:30 p.m.
James McMurtry's Wednesday residency
A fixture on the alt-country music scene in Austin and beyond, McMurtry brings his weekly residency at Continental Club home to you (from his place) with opening acts. Wednesdays 8 p.m.
Not at Donn's Depot
The slightly obvious but oh-so-telling title for pianist Chris Gage's Monday livestream, where he tickles the ivories from his home studio, joined occasionally by wife Christine Albert, and recreates his popular and long-running Monday residency at Donn's. Mondays 8 p.m.
Austin born-and-bred singer songwriter, brings her guitar and her truth-telling music to her live-streaming page. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 9 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. https://jackievenson.com/livestream/
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The three-mile wide, 4.5 billion-year-old NEOWISE comet is currently visible over Texas and has brought out observers and photographers, like Austin-based Erin Newman-Mitchell, who took this shot in Cranfills Gap, Texas and posted the image to Instagram.
It was not the first time Newman-Mitchell shot the NEOWISE comet, which first appeared earlier this month and will remain visible until about mid-August. It won't come this close to us again for about 6,800 years.