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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy And The Race To Space

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People are looking to the stars again — even though they might just be looking for Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster that’s somewhere in orbit between Mars and the asteroid belt. The successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which sent that car on its potentially billion-year journey, has everyone scrambling to get their rocket program on the same level as SpaceX. What does the Falcon Heavy launch mean for the future of space travel and the possibility of a new space race?

The Falcon Heavy

On Feb. 6, Elon Musk and SpaceX celebrated the maiden voyage of the Falcon Heavy. This miracle of engineering was launched successfully at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, powered by a whopping 27 Merlin engines — nine inches each of the side booster rockets, and nine more in the center core.

The two booster rockets successfully separated and landed almost simultaneously at Landing Zones 1 and 2 back at Cape Canaveral in a mind-blowing feat of synchronization — if you haven’t had a chance to watch the replay of this landing, you should. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

The third core, which was supposed to land on the autonomous droneship Of Course I Still Love You about 300 miles off the Florida coastline, didn’t fare as well. According to the post-launch press conference, the core didn’t have enough fuel to reignite all three of its engines for its final landing burn. It hit the water at about 300 miles per hour — hard enough to take out two of the engines on the droneship.

If the cameras on Of Course I Still Love You weren’t damaged in the crash, we may be in for some spectacular crash footage in the coming weeks.

It’s not a great loss, though — Space X wasn’t planning to reuse any of the cores from the Heavy’s maiden launch. The two Falcon 9 boosters that landed successfully are Block 4 style rockets — the ones that will be used for future Heavy launches will be Block 5.

Despite the spectacular failure of the center core, the launch itself was a complete success — pretty good for something Elon Musk was expecting to explode before it even made it off the launchpad. As Musk put it, “Crazy things can come true. When I see a rocket lift off, I see a thousand things that could not work, and it’s amazing when they do.”

Now that it’s off the ground and proven its viability as a reusable heavy lift option, the Falcon Heavy is much cheaper than any other currently available options. “At $90 million per launch, it’s the cheapest heavy lift option available,” said William Ostrove, a space industry analyst. “The Delta IV Heavy, for example, typically costs $350 million to $400 million per launch.”

The Future of SpaceX

Now that his Roadster is traversing the solar system, what is next for Elon Musk and SpaceX?

In the short term, the next big milestone for SpaceX and for the Falcon Heavy specifically is to get certified by the U.S. Air Force to carry secure and government payloads. The Falcon 9 received this certification back in 2015 and has since carried several military and classified payloads into their places in orbit. The next flight for the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for June for the Air Force — and depending on its outcome, it could be the flight that qualifies the Heavy for military and government contracts.

Next year, in addition to continuing to develop the Falcon Heavy, there are two more projects on SpaceX’s plate — Crew Dragon and the BFR.

Crew Dragon is an upgraded incarnation of the currently used Dragon capsule, but instead of just hauling cargo to the International Space Station autonomously, Crew Dragon will be outfitted for carrying astronauts into orbit and beyond.

This will likely become an essential part of the space program, or at least in getting America’s astronauts to space, especially with the current administration’s plan to defund the International Space Station by 2025 and hand it over to private investors, shifting that funding toward the goal of putting humans back on the Moon.

The BFR — short for Big F*****g Rocket — is designed for use a lot closer to home, at least to start. Once completed, the BFR will be even larger than the gargantuan Falcon Heavy. A BFR with a capsule could potentially turn a 12-hour airline flight into a 30-minute hop around the globe. It could also change the way we look at travel to the Moon, Mars and other planets, as well as facilitating asteroid mining to allow us as a species to take advantage of the resources in the rest of the solar system.

Experts estimate the BFR, once it’s off the ground, could turn space into a multi-trillion-dollar industry — currently, space travel is worth about $300 billion.

The New Space Race

The U.S. hasn’t really been in a “space race” since the 1960s, when we threw everything at the wall to see what would stick. This grand idea resulted in the Apollo program, and we sent men to the Moon for the first time. During his Falcon Heavy post-launch news conference, Elon Musk set forth a challenge: “We want a new space race. Space races are exciting.”

They most certainly are — and Musk isn’t the only billionaire with his eyes turned toward the stars. Jeff Bezos, the mind behind Amazon, is also throwing his hat into the ring, as is Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, Tory Bruno of the United Launch Alliance and the Sierra Nevada Corp.

Bezos’ entry into the space race is his company Blue Origin — he’s launched and landed his New Shepherd rocket multiple times, even before SpaceX managed a successful landing, though all his flights were suborbital. Bezos was planning on his first space tourism launches in 2017, but that fell through. Musk and Bezos regularly launch friendly barbs at one another on Twitter, but when it comes down to it, they each support the other’s endeavors.

Virgin Galactic, headed by Richard Branson, has been trying to make it into orbit for a while now, and has even started selling $250,000 tickets. Unfortunately, Virgin Galactic has hit a few roadblocks, namely the explosion of the space plane during a test flight in 2014 that killed the copilot of the flight.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) is the mind behind NASA’s Space Launch System and the Delta IV Heavy rockets. Bruno and Musk are butting heads on Twitter, but Musk isn’t worried. He’s actually said if ULA can launch a national security mission before 2023, he’ll eat his hat — with a side of mustard.

The Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) is one of the most exciting entrants in this space race. Their space plane, dubbed Dream Chaser, completed its first successful suborbital test flights in 2017 and recently landed a contract with NASA for an ISS resupply mission in 2020. Musk might have some stiff competition if SNC can manage to nail this launch.

SpaceX might be the first one out of the gate, but they’re not the only game in town anymore — and that’s exactly how Elon Musk wants it. “I think it’s going to encourage other companies and countries to say, ‘Hey, if SpaceX, which is a commercial company, and it can do this and nobody paid for the Falcon Heavy, it was paid with internal funds,’ then they could do it too. So I think it’s going to encourage other countries and companies to raise their sights and say, ‘We can do bigger and better,’ which is great,” Musk said at the post-launch press conference.

The Falcon Heavy launch was history in the making, and being able to witness this launch is an amazing feeling. You can expect SpaceX to continue to push forward in their quest to find new and innovative ways to explore the solar system, but they’re not the only company we need to watch anymore — they’re just the only ones with rockets in the air. Elon Musk may have provided the spark to start this new space race, but he’ll have to come up with some amazing innovations to stay on top!

And if this launch has taught us anything, it’s that we need to keep looking at the stars — and believe crazy things can happen.

Kayla Matthews is a tech journalist and writer whose work has been featured on The Week, VICE and MakeUseOf. Read more posts by Kayla on productivitybytes.com.

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These Are All of the Industries Experiencing The Amazon Takeover

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amazon takeover

Amazon’s continuous growth is prompting the company to expand into a variety of industries well beyond their initial scope of electronic commerce. Beginning as an online bookstore, Amazon now represents the most valuable United States retailer regarding market capitalization. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is presently the world’s richest personA combination of success and drive for constant expansion is resulting in an Amazon takeover of several important industries. Amazon still reigns supreme as an online retailer, though clearly that title alone is not enough to satisfy Bezos. His areas of interest are vast, including the following.

Brick-and-Mortar Retail

Just last year, the Amazon takeover included Whole Foods, where they were acquired for $13.7 billion. The move continues Amazon’s battle with Walmart to reign supreme in the retail space. On the other side, Walmart is continuing to refine their online space, while remaining America’s top employer. The battle between these two giants will continue to wage on, with Amazon’s interest in the brick-and-mortar space being no secret.

Even before the Whole Foods acquisition, Amazon’s plans to build convenience stores and curbside pickup locations shows a deep infatuation with becoming a strong brick-and-mortar presence. Beyond a mere presence, Amazon is confident that consumers will continue embracing a model that allows them to order online and pick up in person.

Amazon’s opening of the Amazon Go Store in Seattle in January marks an exciting time for these interests. Customers enter the store and scan their Amazon Go app as they do. Cameras and other sensors track customers’ activity as their browse, registering an item into their virtual cart when they take it off the shelf. Customers are charged when they leave the store with their goods. Amazon terms the idea “Just Walk Out” shopping and hopes to attract customers who despise waiting in lines, as many do.

Amazon’s reshaping of the typical brick-and-mortar presence is introducing consumers to new ideas like “Just Walk Out” shopping. Combined with the acquisition of Whole Foods, the company will without a doubt continue to redefine the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

Delivery

amazon

Amazon has been shaping the delivery industry for many years now, especially since Amazon Prime’s introduction in 2005. The company’s vow to deliver items to Prime customers in two days or less still presents a challenge to online retail competition, who are well aware that they must match these shipping expectations or compensate in some other way, like offering lower prices. Meeting Amazon’s delivery promises and their costs is a major challenge, especially to new eCommerce businesses.

Beyond Amazon Prime’s major influence on shipping expectations among online retailers, Amazon is redefining what the delivery space means through their utilization of drone technology. Specifically, Amazon Prime Air is introducing a new delivery system, where unmanned aerial vehicles can safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

Amazon, already familiar with quick parcel delivery, is upping the ante even more in the delivery industry with such lofty ambition. Still, with a private trial already underway in the UK, Amazon Prime Air and the use of drones in delivery is a very real aspect of the future. Upon receiving the regulatory support, we can anticipate Amazon Prime Air to be an option for many.

Technology

amazon

It makes sense that Amazon is continuing to make significant moves in the tech sphere. There’s no doubt regarding the company’s technical expertise and how technology can accommodate access to their variety of products.

Among their technological products is Amazon Fire TV, which streams live TV and enables users to watch hundreds of shows and movies. There’s also the Amazon Kindle Fire, which capitalizes on Amazon’s vast digital library in the form of a tablet computer with a seven-inch multi-touch display. Many still view Kindle Fire as a strong competitor to Apple’s iPad.

Amazon’s Dash buttons, while simple, are also an exciting addition to their array of tech. The Dash Button is a single-function controller that consumers can place around their house near items that need replenishing. Need a new order of Tide paper towels? Order a specific Dash button for Tide, put it near the towels and press the button when you notice them running low. They will then arrive on your doorstep in a couple of days.

Entertainment

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Amazon Prime offers much more than free two-day shipping. One of Prime’s most notable benefits is the increasingly impressive Amazon Video platform. The Amazon Prime Video show Transparent won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy in 2005, while 2017 Oscar Best Picture nominee Manchester by the Sea is also developed by Amazon Studios.

Amazon is increasing their influence in both TV and film by producing excellent content, including many notable releases in development. They’re emerging as a viable competitor to cable, Netflix and Hulu.

Whether a consumer prefers reading a book or watching a movie, Amazon is seeking to have the entertainment niche covered.

Is This Amazon’s Peak?

Amazon’s firm grasp across multiple industries begs the question: Is this Amazon’s peak? While it’s impossible to tell definitively, stockholders should monitor the situation closely. Amazon has been a model of consistent growth since 2000. Presently, Amazon’s stock trades for approximately 130 times the business’s projected earnings for 2018 and almost four times its projected sales for 2018.

These growth prospects rely on revenue per customer growth. Although there will certainly be customers who increase their spending on Amazon, it’s difficult to think of any huge breakthroughs or offerings that will prompt more revenue per customer, especially upon Prime’s increase to $119 per year. Many customers may opt to spend that on a Costco membership instead.

Additionally, it’s important to note that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods plays a significant role in the stock increases the past year for Amazon. The market seems to be operating under an assumption that Amazon will make a similarly buzzworthy acquisition this year, which is far from a given.

Still, even if market projections seem a bit optimistic at the moment for Amazon, there’s no doubting that the company will continue playing a significant role in shifting expectations within several industries, from delivery and entertainment to the brick-and-mortar experience.

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Why Amazon’s Second Headquarters Should Choose Northern Virginia

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Amazon’s second headquarters

Among the top 20 shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters, Northern, Virginia is not a stranger to the massive tech company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have frequently conducted business in the region. Bezos is known to own The Washington Post and Amazon’s cloud service AWS is situated in a huge data center in the northern Virginia region. It is no surprise that Northern, VA is listed on the list. This region proved to be a safe home for Bezos’ businesses, it would only make sense that Northern, VA is the next home for HQ2.

While the nation waits for the announcements of Amazon’s second headquarters, speculations rise as Amazon employees crowd ARLnow.com. The local news-source for Arlington Virginia have reported major traffic from an internal Amazon site. The article reporting the county’s green building council had received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 visitors from an Amazon web page that is only visible to Amazon employees. Amazon’s interest in the community’s dedication to sustainability is predicted to help the company’s future development of a sustainable building of their own.

The area is surrounded by copious international airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Richmond International Airport for Amazon’s consideration  of transportation. The bid for Amazon had reports of the Hub property as a potential site for Amazon’s second headquarters. This 85-acre undeveloped location is near the Dulles Airport, perfect for Amazon’s demands.

Amazon’s second headquarters

Amazon announced that they are developing a second headquarter of up to 8 million square feet in order to accommodate 50,000 workers. The plan to bring in 50,000 lucrative jobs to the new location will create billions of dollars in investment for the community. This opportunity for economic expansion does not come often, but neither does a perfect business location in Northern Virginia that is close to Bezos’ other businesses.

A possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters is on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Metro’s Silver Line. “We are very excited that Northern Virginia is included on the short list as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” spoke the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova. “Fairfax and Loudoun counties are able to offer a great quality of life coupled with an innovative and business friendly culture for future Amazon corporate neighbors and employees. With our highly educated and talented workforce and a location close to Dulles International Airport and a new Silver Line train station, we hope we will have the opportunity to welcome Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.”

Small businesses and agencies within Virginia are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Virginia.

If you are an agency from Virginia, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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Why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Chicago

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HQ2

Most of the cities on the top 20 shortlist for Amazon HQ2 had given some extreme proposals. The majority of the pick is located on the East Coast with an important city that is Chicago, Illinois. The city of Chicago is an important business hub that is currently attracting millennial entrepreneurs and corporate talents. The region offers a broad selection of professionals that are specialized in tech, logistics, advertising, and more. This is a huge bonus for Amazon if the tech company picks Chicago as the rightful city for HQ2.

Chicago ranks high in tech, affordability, and infrastructure. These benefits will fulfill Amazon in their search for employment, land, and logistics. The city offers the O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport to the company for traveling affairs. This is just one of the city’s proposal, the entire bid for Chicago was put together by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner. There is a promising bid that if Amazon chooses Chicago, then the massive tech company will collect at least $2 billion in incentives and $1.3 billion in tax revenue back. Employees are still expected to pay the taxes, however, it would be Amazon who is receiving that money back and not Illinois.

HQ2

Image From PBS

There are 10 total potential sites to situate HQ2. One includes the Sterling Bay’s 70-acre Lincoln Yards, and many more sites including the Illinois Medical District. The forefront for a new location is The River District, Riverside Investment and Development in River West. This 37-acre site connects to Chicago’s downtown, River North, Fulton Market, and more. The best deal for any other location. 

Amazon will be able to create a substantial amount of benefits from Chicago’s bid for Hq2. Illinois has given over $1.4 billion of tax money to companies like Amazon ever since 2001 when EDGE was created. The EDGE Tax Credit Program provides tax credits for businesses that make capital investments in Illinois and more. The massive tech company is more than qualified for this program and this will be deemed beneficial to Amazon if they participate. 

The Chicago metro area grew by 0.6% and it will only get better from here. The region is populated by a big number of young and educated students from the notable schools of University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The work force in Chicago are tech driven and strives for professional support, which is an attractive atmosphere for all companies. Amazon  should be using up that advantage as well. 

HQ2

Proposals are still being presented to Amazon by representatives. Small businesses and agencies within Chicago are now able share their professional insight to Amazon. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Chicago.

If you are an agency from Chicago, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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