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Elon Musk: Starship could make migrating from Earth to Mars affordable

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starship test hopper stainless steel spacesuit actual photo boca chica brownsville texas launch site elon musk twitter january 2019 DwmagBZX4AEbUN enlargedSpaceX’s “test hopper,” an experimental stainless-steel ship, in Texas. The person at the bottom is for scale.Elon Musk/SpaceX via Twitter

  • SpaceX is designing a new rocket ship, called Starship, to send about 100 people to Mars at a time.
  • Elon Musk, the rocket company’s founder, said on Twitter that Starship could be 10 times cheaper than the least-expensive rocket today.
  • Musk added he is “confident” Starship may be cheap enough for most people to “sell their home on Earth & move to Mars if they want.”

Elon Musk is trying to make it a no-brainer for you to move to Mars.

Musk, the founder of SpaceX, shared his thinking on cost-effective space travel on Twitter over the weekend.

“I’m confident moving to Mars … will one day cost less than $500k & maybe even below $100k,” Musk tweeted on Sunday, “low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth & move to Mars if they want.”

He added that if anyone decides they don’t like Mars (there are plenty of reasons to hate it), a “return ticket is free.”

The comments came after Muk revealed new details about his rocket company’s truck-size rocket engine, called Raptor, and the launch system it’d propel to the moon and Mars, called Starship.

On Sunday, Musk said the Raptor engine has been fired more than half a dozen times at a SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas. He also shared technical data from those tests, including the engine’s efficiency, chamber pressure, other details.

Raptor engines are crucial to making Starship work. Up to six of the engines will power the roughly 18-story Starship. Meanwhile, the system’s 22-story rocket booster, called Super Heavy, may use up to 31 Raptor engines.

SpaceX plans to fix the first Raptor engines onto a “test hopper” prototype at a site near Brownsville, Texas, then launch it on short “hops” up to a few miles high.

How Musk plans to make space travel cheap with Starship

big falcon rocket bfr spaceship bfs mars colony colonization illustration spacexAn illustration of spaceships of SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket system, or BFR, helping colonize Mars.SpaceX

Musk’s ultimate goal for the future of Starship and SpaceX is to enable human life on Mars. He began sharing that vision in 2015, saying he wants to back up the human race like hard drive in case something terrible befalls Earth.

Since then, Musk has worked toward replacing SpaceX’s mainstay rocket, called Falcon 9, with a larger yet dramatically lower-cost system. (Currently, that’s Starship, though it has gone by other names — most recently “Big Falcon Rocket.”)

“This will sound implausible, but I think there’s a path to build Starship / Super Heavy for less than Falcon 9,” Musk said.

SpaceX currently charges about $62 million per launch of a Falcon 9 rocket, which can carry up to 25 tons of payload into low-Earth orbit. On Sunday, Musk predicted that Starship would be “at least 10X cheaper” to send up the same mass of payload.

Starship is designed to take about 100 tons of cargo and 100 people to Mars. Part of the reason Musk expects it to be so cost-effective is the system’s size — launching more at once can lower costs.

But the biggest reason Starship could be so much cheaper is that it’s designed to be fully reusable. This prevents losing multi-million-dollar hardware after a single use (a typical practice in the rocket-launch industry) and limits launch costs to refilling fuel and refurbishing parts. Starship’s reusability may also allow it to refuel on liquid methane and oxygen once it has landed on Mars (Musk says this fuel can be manufactured on the red planet’s surface) for a return trip to Earth.

Musk also confirmed on Sunday that a recent and “radical” shift in the design of Starship will be a “big factor” in keeping costs down. Instead of making the rocket ship out of lightweight yet super-strong carbon-fiber composites, Musk has asked his engineers to use low-cost stainless-steel alloys.

Read more: Elon Musk says SpaceX has built a stainless-steel rocket ship in Texas that looks ‘like liquid silver’

Steel costs about $3 per kilogram, Musk told Popular Mechanics in December, while carbon-fiber can cost about $200 per kilogram — a 66-fold difference. Musk tweeted in January that using steel could counterintuitively make Starship lighter, allowing it to carry more cargo at a time.

SpaceX’s “aspirational” goal is to launch the first cargo mission to Mars in 2022 — just three years from now. Then in 2023, Musk hopes to send Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and a crew of artists on a trip around the moon. If all goes well with those two launches, he wants to send the first crewed Starship missions to Mars in 2024.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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