AEROVIRONMENT CONTRIBUTES TO MARS HELICOPTER
If all goes according to plan, Simi Valley aircraft developer AeroVironment Inc. will have had a hand in developing the first helicopter to land—and eventually fly—on Mars. The hovering payload will be attached to the belly of the Mars 2020 rover, scheduled to land on the Red Planet in February 2021. While the aircraft was developed as a test vessel, results will inform the future approach of aerial reconnaissance in areas that are inaccessible to land-bound rovers. The Martian atmosphere, 100 times thinner than that of Earth’s, presents aerodynamic challenges because of the massive amount of energy required to achieve lift. AeroVironment designed and developed the vehicle’s airframe and major subsystems, including rotor, rotor blades, hub, and control mechanism hardware. The Southern California company previously developed the FQM-151 Pointer, one of the first drones to be deployed in combat.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SPACE JAM
As if SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, Rocket Lab, Relativity Space, and others hadn’t done enough to establish Southern California as a hub for a new era of space exploration, along comes Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator. A partnership between L.A. startups Techstars and Starburst Aerospace, the entity provides yet another avenue of entry for stratosphere-bound entrepreneurs. The new aerospace program will be managed by Matt Kozlov, who previously spearheaded a health-focused accelerator between Techstars and Cedars-Sinai. In comments during the announcement, Kozlov indicated that bringing together vital industry leaders via the endeavor will quicken the pace of innovation and ease logistical hurdles to getting new technologies to market. “We will help founders achieve two years of commercial traction in three months,” he predicted in an early 2019 interview with TechCrunch. The program begins in July, with a Demo Day scheduled for October 10, 2019.
TOP TECH CITY? MOVE OVER, FRISCO
The Big Apple, tops in tech? Somewhere, Steve Jobs is raising an eyebrow. According to Savills Tech City, which reports annually on such matters, that is indeed the trend. New York City now tops San Francisco as the No. 1 technology hub in the world. Savills, a global real estate brokerage firm, bases its results on factors such as costs of living and doing business, real estate prices, talent, and transport. Cited among the reasons for New York’s ascent were its deep talent pool and recent big tech expansions. Rounding out the top-five finishers were San Francisco, London, Amsterdam, and Boston. Los Angeles finished seventh.
ENTER THE DRAGON 2
Continuing to cement its place on the galactic stage, SpaceX took another bold step with the launch of Dragon 2, a reusable “astronaut taxi” that deployed for the International Space Station on March 2, 2019. The vessel, christened “Crew Dragon,” was carrying supplies and no live occupants. After the launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the Dragon 2 was a “major improvement” over Dragon 1, aka “Cargo Dragon.” The new model is designed to carry up to seven astronauts.
CHOPPING THROUGH GRIDLOCK
Conventional four-wheeled travel is becoming increasingly incompatible with productivity as traffic remains the bane of professional humanity’s existence. But where Uber and Lyft heretofore have dared not tread, New York air taxi service Blade is soaring above by carving its niche in the air transport sector. In barely five years, the startup has expanded its platform to both coastal U.S. urban markets, specializing in shuttle services to tony destinations and high-profile events like Coachella as well as offering point A to point B expediency to the busy executive. A recent $38M Series B funding round placed the company’s value at $140M. The sky’s the limit, even when it comes to your commute.