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Apprenticeships have been common among Jedi, Sith, and Europeans for ages, and now the soaring cost of college is encouraging Americans to give them serious consideration. The programs offer paths to good-paying jobs in everything from engineering to social work and even law. Typically, the instructional model combines classroom learning and on-the-job experience, all without the debt of expensive college tuition. However, detractors fear it’ll create a two-tiered system for those who can afford to go to an elite college and everyone else.
NASA has identified a map of near-surface water ice on Mars which is vital if the agency hopes to achieve its goal of landing humans on the Red Planet. The frozen H2O is locked away underground throughout the planet's mid-latitudes, and is believed to be only an inch below the surface meaning astronauts could get to it with a mere shovel. The find will help determine where any future spacecraft will land as visiting scientists will need to quickly harvest the resource for drinking water and rocket fuel.
Rocket Lab is having a December to remember. Last week it pulled off its 10th successful Electron mission (this time with rocket booster re-entry), and this week it opened its first US-based launchpad in Virginia. Even better, the aerospace company already has a paying customer lined up. The US Air Force has contracted the facility to launch a payload into orbit in Q2 2020.
NASA plans on going to the moon in 2024, and at long last it has the hardware for the job. On Tuesday, the agency unveiled SLS, the most powerful rocket ever built. Engineers tested the liquid hydrogen test article tank to failure, meaning they exploded it... on purpose. The real problem is that the SLS program, which was supposed to launch this year, is running way behind schedule. Plans are being made for a 2021 launch, but if the rumored $1 billion cost per flight is true, then, as we pointed out, NASA might turn to cheaper, private space companies.
On Wednesday, Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin performed its 12th successful mission using the New Shepard class of rockets. It was the sixth flight for this particular reusable booster which blasted off and returned safe and sound in eight minutes. During the brief trip the launch vehicle delivered a capsule full of children’s postcards and a bunch of science experiments into sub-orbital space.
This doesn't have to be the end. You can still check out last week's roundup here.