Fly Me to the Moon: Japanese Billionaire to Achieve ‘Lifelong Dream’ on SpaceX Lunar Trip

HAWTHORNE, California — Yusaku Maezawa has always been fascinated with the moon.

A 42-year-old Japanese billionaire entrepreneur with a passion for collecting art, Maezawa wondered what masterpieces could have been created if only his favorite artists had had the opportunity to fly to the moon. Then he realized he had the ability to find out.

Maezawa is paying an undisclosed but substantial amount of money for SpaceX to fly him and six to eight artists of his choosing on a trip around the moon and back. The unprecedented mission is planned to launch on SpaceX’s yet to be built BFR (or “Big Falcon Rocket“) in 2023. [The BFR in Images: SpaceX’s Giant Spaceship for Mars & Beyond]

“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon. Just staring at the moon filled my imagination,” said Maezawa during a press conference at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California on Monday (Sep. 17). “That is why I could not pass up this opportunity to see the moon up close.”

At the same time, he did not to keep the experience to himself.

“That would be a little lonely. I don’t like being alone,” said Maezawa. “So I wanted to share this experience with as many people as possible. That is why I choose to go to the moon, I choose to go to the moon… with artists!”

SpaceX’s first private passenger for the BFR (“Big Falcon Rocket”), Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, is underwriting a 2023 flight to the moon and back.


Space for art… and artists

Maezawa, who runs his own fashion line and whose net worth has been reported to be upwards of $3 billion, said he sees art as a way to change the world.

“I thought long and hard about how valuable it would be to the first private passenger to go to the moon. At the same time, I thought about how I could give art to the world and how this could contribute to world peace. This is my lifelong dream,” he explained.

Maezawa first approached SpaceX to fly him to the moon using the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket and Dragon spacecraft, a mission that at one time had been targeted for launch later this year until SpaceX decided to pursue development of the BFR instead.

“With Falcon Heavy and Dragon, we would have had — especially for a trip around the moon — only room for two people,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO and chief technology officer. “It is like the size of an SUV inside [Dragon]. If you have a five day journey in an SUV, you’re going to be jam packed.”

On the other hand, the BFR is enormous, said Musk. With a 30-foot (9-meter) diameter, the BFS (“Big Falcon Spaceship”) has enough room to accommodate 100 people, though for this first mission, Musk suggested a smaller crew.

“We said maybe it is wise to have about a dozen people, or thereabouts, on the first trip into deep space,” recalled Musk. “[Maezawa] very graciously offered to provide those seats to artists and cultural influencers.”

Maezawa does not know yet the artists he will invite, but each will be asked to create something when they return to Earth “to inspire the dreamer within all of us.”

“If possible, I would like to invite the top artists that represent our planet from various fields including painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, film directors, fashion designers and architects,” he said. “Luckily, we still have some time before 2023, so I hope to work very closely with the SpaceX team and reach out to each artist personally.”

Maezawa is hopeful the artists will want to fly to the moon with him.

“By the way, if you should hear from me, please say ‘yes’ and accept my invitation. Please don’t say no.”

Artist’s rendering of a violinist performing in weightlessness on board SpaceX’s BFS while on a journey the moon.

Credit: SpaceX

Underwriting a spacefaring civilization

In addition to inspiring new works of art, Maezawa’s “#dearMoon” mission will also provide SpaceX the funding it needs to further develop and build the BFR.

First introduced in 2016 as a solution for how to send humans to settle Mars, the BFR has undergone a series of design changes as SpaceX has sought to address the challenges associated with building a rocket capable of flying almost anywhere in the solar system. The latest version, revealed on Monday, incorporates actuated flaps or wings to control the vehicle as it flies through a wide range of atmospheric densities and velocities.

“The way it operates is more like a skydiver than an aircraft,” said Musk. “Almost the entire time when it is reentering, it’s just trying to brake. It is just trying to stop.”

To date, SpaceX has completed the first cylinder section of the BFR prototype’s main body and has test fired the Raptor engine that will power its launch. But there is a long way to go before a BFR will be ready to fly anyone to the moon and that work requires funding.

“Funding BFR is definitely a key question,” said Musk. “We have got launching of satellites, we have got servicing the space station … and next year we will start transporting astronauts to and from the station. We have got the Starlink global broadband that we are developing, which will be a useful source of revenue. And then private customers, or any customers for BFR, [who] are incredibly helpful in funding development of the rocket.”

Maezawa is now the first of those private customers.

“[Maezawa] is paying a lot of money — we’re not disclosing the amount, but he is paying a lot of money — that will help with the development of the ship and booster,” Musk said, “and ultimately, this BFR system is intended to carry anyone to orbit, to the moon and to Mars. So he is ultimately helping pay for the average citizen to travel to other planets. It is a great thing.”

Follow on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Copyright 2018 All rights reserved.


September 20, 2018 at 01:38PM

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The government just made it easier for oil companies to leak methane on public land

California and New Mexico have sued over the Trump administration’s latest rollback of climate change protections to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The challenge came hours after the Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the U.S. Department of Interior, finalized a rule Tuesday letting companies off the hook for reducing air pollution from methane gas released during oil and natural gas production on federal lands.

The final rule is just one of three “common-sense standards” set by the Obama administration on the oil and gas industry that the Trump administration is trying to discard, says David McCabe, an atmospheric scientist with the Clean Air Task Force. In addition to changing how the Bureau of Land Management rule regulates new and existing oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands, the administration is focused on easing Environmental Protection Agency regulations of new oil and gas sites, as well as existing sites in areas with air pollution violating national standards.

Methane, the main component in natural gas, is a greenhouse gas 28 to 36 times more potent than carbon dioxide per ton over a 100 year period and 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the shorter term. Methane is also a public health hazard: it reacts with nitrogen oxides under sunlight to form ozone, better known as smog, which exacerbates asthma and other respiratory diseases and makes it more difficult for people to breathe.

The Bureau of Land Management’s mission is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations,” according to the Bureau’s website.

Oil and gas produced on public land made up about nine percent of domestic natural gas production and five percent of U.S. oil production in 2017, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Methane escapes from leaky infrastructure or emitted as a waste product.

“A typical scenario is when you’re drilling an oil well and you’ve also got natural gas that comes up,” says Robin Cooley, a staff attorney at Earthjustice. When there isn’t a pipeline in place yet to collect the excess natural gas, the company will burn it (a process known as flaring) or vent it directly into the air. It’s “incredibly wasteful” since methane is a valuable natural resource that can be captured and sold, Cooley says.

Operators reported releasing 426 billion cubic feet of natural gas between 2009 and 2015, according to the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources.

In 2016, the Obama administration passed a waste prevention rule requiring oil and gas facilities that operate on federal lands to increase how much methane gas they salvage rather than burn or vent. The rule also required producers to inspect equipment for infrastructure leaks. The Bureau estimated the rule would cost the industry $100 to $280 million per year over 10 years, but reduce annual methane emissions by up to 180,000 tons, producing an overall benefit of about $50 to $200 million each year.

However, the Trump administration postponed compliance deadlines while the rule was being challenged in court by industry groups and several western states and while the Bureau worked to get rid of the rule.

The Bureau’s replacement, finalized this week, argued that waste prevention doesn’t “require an operator to lose money capturing and marketing uneconomic gas.” The Bureau also calculated that the costs to industry of reducing methane waste outweighed the benefits to society from mitigating climate change—if you look domestically rather than globally—and that cutting methane pollution for public health and environmental reasons exceeded the Bureau’s regulatory authority and overlapped with the EPA’s responsibility.

A week before, the EPA proposed a rule that would reduce how often oil and gas producers needed to inspect new well sites, from twice a year to once a year or once every two years. It would also give producers 60 days instead of 30 days to make repairs. The change would save industry up to $75 million a year, the EPA said, but release 380,000 tons of methane, 100,000 tons of volatile organic compounds, and 3,800 tons of hazardous air pollutants between 2019 and 2025.

“We’re at a time when the dangers of climate change are ever more clear,” Cooley says. “This administration is just being dangerous and irresponsible by rolling back climate change regulations.”

via Popular Science – New Technology, Science News, The Future Now

September 20, 2018 at 02:49PM

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Tesla Model 3 earns five-star NHTSA crash rating

A video of a Tesla Model 3 crashing is rarely cause for celebration. But today it is, because the videos are of recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) safety tests, which the littlest Tesla just aced. Whether it was front impact, side impact, or rollover testing, the Model 3 performed to a tee, earning the full five stars on each test.

We probably should not act particularly shocked: both Tesla Model S and Model X also scored top marks in NCAP testing. What’s more, the very layout of battery EVs affords them inherent advantages.

For instance, a skateboard layout with a battery pack between the axles makes for a low center of gravity and polar moment of inertia. The safety structure of the battery pack adds extra stiffness to the vehicle. And compact electric motors mean there’s more room for impact protection for occupants, who also don’t have to be protected from bouncing off an engine.

Elon Musk was beaming about the test results on Twitter, telling the world that the “Model 3 has a shot at being [the] safest car ever tested.” Such good news must no doubt be welcome after what feels like a relentless string of negativity surrounding the automaker.

Listing image by NHTSA

via Ars Technica

September 20, 2018 at 02:16PM

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First hydrogen-powered train hits the tracks in Germany

  • A side view of the hydrogen-powered train. These two trains belong to a rail system that will serve 2 million passengers a year.

  • Seeing the train from head-on is best when the train has come to a complete stop.

    René Frampe, Alstrom

  • Reporters gathered to see what is likely the first such locomotive in the world.

    René Frampe, Alstrom

  • René Frampe

French train-building company Alstom built two hydrogen-powered trains and delivered them to Germany last weekend, where they’ll zoom along a 62-mile stretch of track that runs from the northern cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde, and Buxtehude. The new trains replace their diesel-powered counterparts and are the first of their kind, but they are likely not the last. Alstom is contracted to deliver 14 more hydrogen-powered trains, called Coradia iLint trains, before 2021.

via Ars Technica

September 20, 2018 at 05:35AM

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LEGO And The Nintendo Switch Go Very Well Together

Nintendo’s Labo system was designed for use with cardboard, but LEGO designer Vimal Patel (like, he actually works at LEGO designing) has other ideas.

He’s taken (via Gamasutra) some of Labo’s existing cardboard tools, like the piano and handlebars, and built them out of LEGO Technic instead. Which is more complicated and less accessible than Nintendo’s original idea, of course, but also way more durable.

via Kotaku

September 18, 2018 at 06:39PM

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Porsche, Hyundai invest in WayRay augmented reality for road and track

A number of incipient future technologies such as solid state batteries, Level 5 autonomy, and augmented reality simply await the breakthrough moments that will enable mass-market scalability. The last one of those took another step closer to its breakthrough with news of


leading an $80 million Series C investment round for six-year-old Switzerland-based AR startup WayRay. The German carmaker was joined in the augmented reality play by


, JVCKENWOOD, China Merchants Capital, a group of sovereign wealth funds, and Alibaba Group, a previous investor.


tied up with WayRay earlier this year on an AR project during Startup Autobahn, a European initiative devoted to automotive innovation. Sounds like the cooperation proved fruitful, with Porsche saying, “Their innovative ideas and products have great potential. We are convinced that on this basis we’ll be able to offer our clients customized Porsche solutions,” and putting its money where its windshield is.

Blue chips have apparently backed the company because its AR solution is better than others out there, being smaller than competitor units, adaptable to any make and model, and usable over a much wider field of view, easing the strain on a driver’s eyes.


said it wants to use the technology in its cars, and for applications beyond vehicles like an entire AR ecosystem incorporating smart buildings and smart cities.

On the mundane safety side, the AR system could highlight crosswalks, warning signs, parking spots, construction zones, and provide more precise navigation directions all within the driver’s natural line-of-sight. Porsche, unsurprisingly, is thinking about the performance aspects and widening the suite of digital services it can offer to customers. A short video and a series of graphics showed how a potential WayRay system could enhance the driving experience, especially on track. The Porsche driver not only gets an image of the ideal driving line laid down ahead of him, he could get prompts for braking and turning, a “ghost” car acting as rabbit to show him where he gains and loses time, lap times, track position, and more.

As much as this kind of feature makes sense for the Porsche brand and the new


GT4 owner working to hook up his personal best at his local track, WayRay’s possibilities seem like an even better boon for hypercar buyers. This would get the

Bugatti Divo


Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro

buyer much closer to his car’s limits than he’d otherwise get before investing years in paid instruction and practice laps. Whenever this AR hits mass adoption, it might spell the end of Nürburgring crash compilation videos, though.

WayRay, with more than 250 employees in four countries, does

80 percent of its work in-house

, from R&D to prototyping, including the development of polymers for the windshield display and new laser technology. In 2015 we

heard about WayRay when it was called Navion

and WayRay was the name of the


augmented reality product Navion was working on. In addition to the name change, the startup has refocused on OEM equipment instead of aftermarket solutions, the CEO saying automakers are lining up to integrate the technology, and that’s where the money is.

The firm says it will invest its cash infusion in more R&D, to build a factory in Germany to manufacture finished units, and expand its AR offerings into nascent automotive sectors like

autonomous vehicles

, as well as fields beyond automotive such as smart homes and construction.

Heads up displays for cars alone

are projected to be worth $1 billion by 2023.

Related Video:

via Autoblog

September 19, 2018 at 08:25AM

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GeForce RTX 2080 Benchmarks From Final Fantasy XV Posted By Square Enix

Posted by

Nathan Kirsch |

Tue, Sep 18, 2018 – 9:18 AM

We aren’t able to publish our own benchmark results on the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 280 until September 19th, but it appears benchmark results are being posted by game developers. Over the weekend it looks like Square Enix posted some of their numbers to the Final Fantasy XV benchmark result site. Please keep in mind that Final Fantasy XV is a GameWorks title. Let’s take a quick look at Square Enix’s results at 1440p and 4K resolutions with the “High” image quality preset.

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti tops the 1440p performance chart with a substantial lead over the NVIDIA Titan V ‘Volta’ card. We believe this is without NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Super-Sampling (DLSS) as that is not available in the public benchmark. NVIDIA says that DLSS will boost frame rates even higher rather than using TXAA. The AMD Radeon RX Vega has half the performance of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti according to this chart.

When you move up to a 4K display the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti still tops the chart with the RTX 2080 performing just below the Titan Xp. These are impressive numbers and show just how powerful the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 are. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition card better be performing well as the card is available for pre-order at $1199!

We don’t use this benchmark tool on Legit Reviews as Square Enix has noted that it suffers from LOD and stuttering issues. The benchmarking tool does not contain fixes that are included in the retail game. It’s still valid to use to compare cards, but it’s not really representative of what you’ll see in the shipping game title.

via Legit Reviews Hardware Articles

September 18, 2018 at 09:20AM

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