Cluster Newsletter vol. 6: The New Space Race Is Afoot

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

November 7, 2019

Hi there,

The new Space Race has kicked into high gear, but this time it's commercial companies competing to send astronauts into space. SpaceX just pulled off 13 consecutive tests of its Crew Dragon's upgraded parachute system, which means it's nearly ready to carry astronauts. Not to be outdone, Boeing just successfully tested its launch pad abort system for its Starliner capsule – a critical step in getting it mission ready.

Both SpaceX and Boeing are taking part in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and competing for the privilege of being the first private company to send NASA astronauts to the ISS. But the competition isn't just about bragging rights, UBS estimates that today's $400 billion space economy will balloon to $805 billion by 2030. So SpaceX, Boeing, and several other private space companies are investing heavily in maturing launch technologies in order to claim their share of an increasingly lucrative market.  

While we're on the topic of launches, we just launched our revamped blog using the all-in-one design platform Webflow. The tool is a dream machine for easy web design and development so it gets two enthusiastic thumbs up. Head over to our articles page to have a look, and we'll see you in a fortnight!

Kim Taylor
CEO, Cluster

Total Manufacturing Jobs - October 2019

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Source: Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

Attack of the Drones
  • While companies have been saying for a decade that delivery drones are coming, it looks like the fateful day really is just around the corner. Amazon, Google, and Uber have all commenced the most advanced trials of drone delivery in U.S. history. Meanwhile, UPS recently gained FAA approval to build out its own drone fleet.
  • The FAA predicts that next year sales of commercial drones will realize nearly a five-fold increase from 2016, jumping from 600,000 to 2.7 million.
  • When it comes to design, Amazon’s drones feature a hexagonal shape that stabilizes the UAV in windy conditions and protects the six propellers. It’s capable of carrying a 5lb payload and can complete a 15-mile roundtrip journey in 30 minutes or less.
  • Google’s Wing drone resembles a small plane and features 14 propellers that can give it farther flight while conserving energy and reducing noise. The UAV never actually lands, but rather, it lowers deliveries to the ground via a tether to create a safe space between the drone and customers.
  • The Uber drone, built by AirRobot, has 6-propellers and can make a 3-mile trip in about seven minutes. Uber’s goal is for the UAV to land on top of an UberEats automobile. The driver would then make the last leg of the delivery to limit drone-customer interaction.

       more here >>

Tesla Back On Top As Most Valuable US Automaker
  • Tesla’s stock is soaring following its recent earnings report in which the company announced a quarterly profit on the heels of improvements in operating efficiency and a reduction in manufacturing and material costs.
  • The just 16-year-old automaker now has the largest market cap of any US car company, putting it ahead of GM as the country’s most valuable auto brand.
  • The company has held the top spot before, but its repeated failures to meet financial and production targets have led to a drubbing of its stock, which is still down from its 2018 peak of nearly $390.
  • The recent surge in Tesla’s share price is bad news for traders shorting the stock. After Apple, Tesla’s is the second most shorted stock of any U.S. company.
  • Wall Street analysts are on the fence as to whether Tesla can continue turning a profit, although the opening of its new Chinese factory should help in sustaining its positive momentum.  

       more here >>

Today’s roundup was written by Lawren Henderson with contributions from Kim Taylor and Justin Parker in Los Angeles.

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Upcoming Events in SoCal


Nov 7-8:  4th Annual Wonder Women Tech National Conference
Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center
Long Beach
Wonder Women Tech is hosting its annual conference. This year's gathering will revolve around themes including the future of work, innovation and creating a Culture of Belonging. Attendees will enjoy interactive experiences and network with other professionals in the Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM) industries. Info

Nov 14: Looking Home: OCO-3 and Science from the ISS
The von Kármán Auditorium at JPL
Pasadena
JPL’s von Kármán Lecture Series presents a discussion on how we use the International Space Station as a platform for Earth Science Research. A quartet of representatives from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 will deliver insights on how the ISS helps improve our understanding of the interaction between carbon and climate. Info

Check out our calendar for all the latest SoCal events here

We've Come A Long Way

Source: NASA

Ramjet I-40 engine in Jet Static Lab showing the making of high speed motion pictures of thrust augmentor flame. Cleveland, OH. 1946