Max Q is a weekly newsletter from TechCrunch about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Mondays in your inbox.includes two since I was out last week for a Canadian national holiday (and back today for the U.S. one, ironically). There’s plenty to cover, including bidding process, lunar landers, spaceships launching at sea, and the return of our space event.
Blue Origin’s big bid
Blue Origin is auctioning off one seat on its first-ever human spaceflight, and the bidding started at $1.4 million — or at least, the public bidding started there. Before last week, people submitted blind bids, but nowbid to its website whenever it hits a new high. It’s currently $2.8 million, meaning it’s to public scrutiny and presumably FOMO.
Everything’s building up to June 12, when the, real-time online competitive bidding round. If all goes to the current plan, the winning bidder will be flying on July 20 and accompanied by other passengers selected by Blue Origin through some other mechanism. We don’t yet know who else will be on the ride. Seems likely it’ll at least cross the $3 million mark before all’s said and done, which is good news for Blue Origin since run-of-the-mill going forward will probably end up more in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. Bezos maybe?
SpaceX’s Deimos spaceport is under construction.
SpaceX is flexing its sci-fi-made-real muscle with its latest move: The company is turning two offshore oil rig platforms into floating spaceports, and one of the two, codenamed “Deimos” after one of Mars’ moons, is already being worked on. SpaceX CEOshared that the company hopes to have it ready for operations next year, meaning it could host actual launches in 2022.
Eventually, Deimos and its twin, Phobos, will provide launch and landing services to SpaceX’s first fully reusable launch vehicle — Starship. after a high, but still very much atmospheric, flight test; however, it has a way to go before it makes amphibious departures and arrivals using the converted oil platforms. Putting these in the ocean presumably helps solve some key issues, not least of which is being mindful of the impact of launching massive near people. Ditto the landings, which, at least early on, are bound to be risky affairs better carried out with a buffer of the surrounding ocean.
Landers: lunar ones
There’s quite a bit of lunar lander news this week,revealing that it’ll provide commercial lunar lander service to Canada and Japan, with a ride for both provided by SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket. These will be two separate missions, with the first set for next in 2023. Both will use space’s Hakuto-R lander, developed initially to participate in the Google-backed Lunar XPRIZE competition. That , but some companies, including the area, continued to work on their landers with an eye to commercialization. The Hakuto-R being sent on behalf of JAXA will carry an adorable ball-shaped moon robot that looks like a novel take on a rover.