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Air taxis are the future of urban mobility and Joby Aviation is leading the way. The startup out of Santa Cruz just announced it raised a $590 million Series C, including $394 million from lead investor Toyota. Joby is developing an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that can fly 200mph over a distance of 150 miles on a single charge. Even better, there’s no reason to fret about the sound of all those air taxis crisscrossing the skies. Joby says its eVTOL is 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing, and near-silent when flying overhead.
Ever heard of cluster hiring? According to the Wall Street Journal, this process of hiring a team of collaborators has been around in the world of academia for awhile now. Some have likened it to a sort of “Hunger Games” where individuals assemble into groups and the team that demonstrates it can work together the best are all hired together. In 2018, The Boyce Thompson Institute invited 13 plant scientists to form their own groups and prepare proposals for research projects they’d like to work on. Two of the teams were given job offers. The question being asked now is, could this alternative approach to hiring also work in the business world? 🤔
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If you're thinking about becoming an astronaut, the odds are decidedly not in your favor. In 2016, some 18,300 candidates applied to become an astronaut – and only 13 made the cut. Nicknamed the Turtles, these seven men and six women recently finished two years of training with NASA and graduated to full astronaut status, making them eligible for upcoming space missions to the ISS or even the moon. Still, it could be years before the Turtles see any space action as members of the 2013 class are just now getting their first assignments. But when it is finally time to blast off, it’ll likely be aboard a zippy new SpaceX or Boeing engineered spacecraft developed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program.
Speaking of SpaceX engineered spacecrafts, Elon Musk’s private aerospace firm is preparing for a monumentally important safety test to take place on Saturday. The company is conducting an in-flight abort test of its Crew Dragon vehicle designed to take the Turtles and other seasoned astronauts into space. Last April, an accident during a static fire test resulted in an explosion, leading to a major setback for the company’s commercial crew program. SpaceX and NASA have pinpointed the culprit as a faulty component which leaked liquid oxidizer into the wrong fuel tank plumbing. Now that a fix has been implemented, SpaceX is keen to demonstrate that it’s ready to safely ferry astronauts to and from the cosmos.
One day, probably long after everyone reading this is pushing daisies, a new generation of NASA astronauts will launch in search of life on some distant planet, and astronomers just recently discovered two very good candidates. The ever so elegantly named planets GJ180 d and GJ229A c are a mere 19 and 39 light-years away from Earth, respectively. That makes them practically our neighbors when you consider that our Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light-years wide. Astronomers currently don't know much about these Super-Earths, so called because they are slightly bigger than our own world, but suggest they could be potentially habitable since they're not tide locked to their stars. A tide locked celestial body, like our lovely moon, doesn't bode well for habitability because the surface facing the star would run too hot, and the opposite surface too cold. But GJ180 d and GJ229A c may be just the right distance to support human, and perhaps alien, life.