Happy Friday, team. Welcome to the 398 of you who joined us in the last seven days. We're happy to have 'ya, and on an incredibly momentous week for space to boot.
For subscribers old and new, we’re running the third segment of our reader survey. Find the details below—and help us make Payload an even better experience for you.
In today's newsletter...
🌎 Digital weather twins
✈️ Hermeus engine test
📢 Reader survey, pt. 3
🗣️ Payload’s Picks
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A Digital Doppelganger for Weather
Lockheed Martin and Nvidia are joining forces to develop a global weather digital twin for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the two companies announced Thursday. The AI-driven earth observation system will help NOAA monitor and increase global weather conditions, including extreme events increasing in frequency.
Digital twin, you say?
Digital twins are virtual representations designed to accurately depict a physical object or system. The ability to run precise simulations, modeled on real-world environments, is the value driver here. Digital twin models are gaining popularity in fields ranging from product design to logistics, and applying them to planetary-scale phenomena is apparently no exception.
Why NOAA? The agency currently collects its Earth system data from a large number of disjointed sources, requiring vast amounts of work from administrators and researchers to stitch everything together and create a cohesive picture. The Lockheed-Nvidia digital twin will use satellite and ground-based sensor data to deliver a real-time, accurate, and high-res model of global weather conditions.
The first data point to come online will be sea surface temperature by September 2023. Sea surface temperature is an important indicator of ocean health, and can alter fish behavior, increase coral bleaching, and disrupt coastal weather.
More on the partnership: Lockheed Martin’s OpenRosetta3D platform will use machine learning modelsML to merge multiple data sources, while NVIDIA’s Omniverse Nucleus will convert the data to a universal simulation. The data will then travel to Lockheed’s Agatha, an Earth-centric 3D visualization platform, for NOAA to analyze.
This isn’t the first collab between the duo. Lockheed and Nvidia are already pairing these technology systems in an effort to help firefighters predict, detect, and fight wildfires.
Forward this to your favorite twins:
Hermeus Fires Up
Hermeus, a startup building a hypersonic aircraft capable of traveling five times the speed of sound, has completed a major milestone in engine testing. The company successfully demonstrated that its engine can transition from turbojet—like what’s used in passenger aircraft—to ramjet, a much more powerful engine technology.
Hermeus 101: The Atlanta startup is moving fast in every sense of the word. The founders came onto the scene in 2019 with plans for a hypersonic aircraft, won a $1.5M USAF contract a year later, and since then, have been heads-down building their technology.
Earlier this year, the company raised a $100M Series B to complete the development of this aircraft, which has its first flights slated for 2023.
Hermeus is building both military and commercial hypersonic aircraft. Its design, called Quarterhorse, would be the first reusable hypersonic aircraft.
Chimera: To reach Mach 5, the company has to design its engine to begin firing as a turbojet, then transition into a more powerful ramjet engine between Mach 2 and Mach 3.
The Chimera engine was built fast and on a budget. The company brought the engine from concept to testing in 21 months, and the whole process cost $18M.
- Using an off-the-shelf J85 turbojet engine as the foundation for Chimera contributed to the comparatively low price tag.
- About 15% of the engine is 3D printed, also helping to keep costs down.
In this engine test, the company successfully switched Chimera from turbojet to ramjet. The transition took about five seconds, as the engine redirected air around the turbojet, which shut down around Mach 3 so the ramjet could fully take over.
What’s next? The company is currently completing testing and gearing up to build its Quarterhorse aircraft ahead of planned flights next year. “We're not an airplane company till we start building airplanes,” Glenn Case, Hermeus CTO, told Defense One. “We're funded to flight—and we're gonna go fly.”
Share this with someone who spends way too much time on airplanes:
Where do you work?
Soar to New Heights in the Birthplace of Aviation
Ohio’s space industry is meeting the needs of our nation and is uniquely positioned for future growth. Our federal partners have the capabilities and facilities for testing advanced materials, in-space power and propulsion, and complete system integration of satellites, spacecraft, and propulsion engines.
The space industry also continues to make investments here in Ohio for R&D to mature new technologies that lower risk and cost to space. This includes Voyager Space’s announcement of The Ohio State University as the terrestrial site of the George Washington Carver Science Park (GWCSP), the research core of the Starlab commercial space station focused on sustaining human life in space.
Get on the leading edge of aerospace R&D by joining defense, civil, and commercial partners advancing the nation’s space missions from Ohio.
In Other News
- LightSail 2 has reentered the atmosphere and completed its 3.5-year mission, The Planetary Society said yesterday.
- ispace is targeting no earlier than Nov. 28 to launch its Mission 1 lunar lander.
- Employees fired by SpaceX earlier this year for publicly speaking out about Elon Musk’s tweets have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
- Two taikonauts—Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe—conducted a spacewalk outside Tiangong yesterday.
- Meanwhile, two cosmonauts—Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin—conducted another spacewalk outside the ISS.
- In a note to employees about layoffs, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy referred to Project Kuiper as one of the “newer initiatives that we’ve been working on for a number of years and have conviction in pursuing.”
- Boeing ($BA) recently tested an anti-jamming prototype for Space Force and DoD satellite communications systems.
- Twitter is censoring videos of rockets and space vehicles, and mislabeling them as adult content…and the company is owned by the CEO of a space company. 🤔
🌕 Parallax: This week’s edition of our weekly science newsletter is all about Artemis I. Spearheading humanity’s grand return to the Moon wasn’t enough—it had to get some science done too. Check out this week’s edition to read about the ten science cubesats deployed by the historic mission, and sign up below to catch the next one.
Thanks to AWS, where our space accelerator friends just launched the 2022 Healthcare Accelerator. Check it out and apply here.
🔊 Pod trifecta:
- We sat down with renaissance man and SkyFi Founder Bill Perkins for this week’s Pathfinder—check it out on YouTube, Apple, or Spotify.
- Mo, our cofounder and CEO, went on Minds Behind Maps to discuss Payload’s mission, origin story, the space industry, and EO—check out the convo here, which has an awesome visual intro.
- Mo also recently appeared as a guest on Village Global’s Solarpunk podcast to dish his thoughts on the future of the space economy.
💭 Laissez faire space: Reason has its mind on the Moon. The libertarian magazine’s December edition is devoted to the future of space exploration, with stories on topics such as the “military-UFO complex,” the FCC’s emergence as a de facto space agency, and the case for galactic terraforming. And don’t miss Eric Berger’s cover story on the importance of the commercial space industry in the Artemis era.
📚 Other good reads: The NYT profiled Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the first woman to serve as a NASA launch director. Observer ran a feature on the “crazy Kiwi” in Silicon Valley. Finally, over at Parabolic Arc, Doug Messier has a helpful status report on Starlink and OneWeb megaconstellation deployments.
The View from Space
Well…this is what we imagine the view from space looks like. Snoopy is Orion’s zero-gravity indicator, currently on his way to the Moon. This photo was taken prior to launch.
Bon voyage, Snoopy! And to all the rest of you Earthlings, have a great weekend.