Boeing Bungles Starliner Debut, Joby Aviation and Uber Join Forces, SpaceX Not Winning Any Friends Over at Amazon

Lawren Henderson
Staff Writer at Cluster

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Middling Job Growth in the Midwest Could Impact the Election 

It’s been a tale of two cities when it comes to job growth across the US. Some states like California, Texas, Florida, Nevada, and Utah have experienced robust increases in total employment since December 2016. But areas of the Midwest including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio have not added jobs at the same brisk clip. The lackluster employment growth in these key states which helped elect President Trump could torpedo his 2020 bid. The agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing sectors are struggling in the region as a result of the trade war, and it’s anyone guess if the recently announced US-China agreement will spark an economic recovery before Americans return to the polls. 

Read More at the New York Times

Boeing Halts 737 Max Production with Rippling Ramifications 

Boeing has 400 new 737 Max airplanes grounded with no place to go, and since it’s unlikely the FAA will recertify the model anytime soon, the company is halting further production of the planes come January. The inability to deliver the planes remains an albatross on the company's bottom line. Boeing is hemorrhaging money; free cash flow has plummeted from $4.1 billion in Oct 2018 to -$2.9 billion. And as the country’s biggest single manufactured export product, the suspension will continue weighing on national economic output, exacerbating the trade imbalance. 

Read More at The Seattle Times

Boeing Bungles Starliner Debut  

Boeing, desperate for a win after such a rotten year, was looking forward to a successful inaugural outing of its Starliner spacecraft. The launch aboard an Atlas V rocket went smoothly, but the spacecraft experienced an anomaly in orbit causing it to burn more fuel than anticipated and preventing it from docking with the International Space Station. The cargo vessel is filled with a dummy astronaut, fresh food, sundries, equipment, and Christmas gifts for the ISS crew spending the holidays in space. Now that a rendezvous with the space station is impossible, NASA and Boeing are looking at options for retrieving the spacecraft. This unfortunate turn of events is sure to pose a setback in Boeing's plans to ferry real live astronauts next year. 

Read More at Space

Joby Aviation Partners with Uber

Some 19 companies are reportedly working on developing flying cars, and one of them just landed a huge partner. Joby Aviation, flush with a cool $100 million in financing, snagged Uber to help in launching its urban air taxi service. While Joby is keeping details of its eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft hush hush, the startup announced it signed a multiyear contract with the ride-sharing giant to offer reliable, clean and affordable rides in its aircraft to consumers in select markets starting in 2023.

Read More at The Verge

The Battle for Space Internet Dominance Intensifies

You’d think that space, in all of its vast and infiniteness, surely can accommodate multiple satellite internet providers, but think again. Before it can launch its internet-beaming satellites (Project Kuiper), Amazon must receive approval from the FCC to operate within a certain frequency spectrum. Jeff Bezos' company has requested a special wavier to bypass the approval process, but  SpaceX and OneWeb, both with their competing satellite internet constellations, are lobbying the FCC to deny the request. That’s because the valuable frequencies needed to transmit data is limited. With the spectrum being a zero-sum game, Amazon’s failure to achieve approval would be its rivals’ gain. 

Read More at Vice 

One good turn deserves another so check out last week's roundup.

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Published on
December 20, 2019