SpaceX successfully re-launches and recovers Falcon 9 flown in March

SpaceX’s launch today from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base went off without a hitch, carrying three satellites that make up the RADARSAT constellation to be used for observation by the Canadian government.

The launch today included use of a Falcon 9 first stage that flew a mission only a few months ago, when it carried SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to orbit during an uncrewed demonstration mission in March. The first stage was refurbished and reflown, bringing SpaceX yet another step closer to its goal of narrowing the window between flights for its reusable rocketry further still.

SpaceX also recovered the first stage with a controlled landing back at the company’s LZ-4 landing pad at Vandenberg. SpaceX has now demonstrated its ability to land up to three boosters at once when launching its larger Falcon Heavy orbital rocket.

The SpaceX rocket also successfully deployed all three of its cargo of RADARSAT observation satellites into their respective target orbits, completing the mission for its customer MDA.

The next launch on the schedule for SpaceX is another Falcon Heavy launch set for June 24, which will be its third flight and its first for the US Air Force. On board, it’ll have the USAF’s Space Test Program Flight 2, which includes experimental small sat payloads and a number of research projects from NASA.

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MIT and US Air Force team up to launch AI accelerator

The Pentagon is one of the largest technology customers in the world, purchasing everything from F-35 planes (roughly $90 million each) to cloud services (the JEDI contract was $10 billion). Despite outlaying hundreds of billions of dollars for acquisitions though, the Defense Department has struggled to push nascent technologies from startups through its punishing procurement process.

The department launched the Defense Innovation Unit a few years back as a way to connect startups into the defense world. Now, the military has decided to work even earlier to ensure that the next generation of startups can equip the military with the latest technology.

Cambridge, Mass.-based MIT and the U.S. Air Force announced today they are teaming up to launch a new accelerator focused on artificial intelligence applications, with the Air Force committed to investing $15 million into roughly 10 MIT research projects per year. The accelerator will be called the MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator (clearly, the Pentagon hasn’t gotten better at naming things).

The accelerator will be housed on campus at MIT’s new computing college, which received a $1 billion commitment last year, including $350 million from Stephen A. Schwarzman. The college is expected to officially launch later this fall.

This will not be the Air Force’s first foray into accelerators. The service also built out an accelerator with Techstars that is directly targeted at solving the Air Force’s problems. It’s not yet clear whether the Techstars accelerator, which is also based in Boston, is being merged into the MIT accelerator or will remain a separate entity.

While MIT has had close relationships with the military going back decades, concerns have increased among some technologists about working on frontier tech like artificial intelligence and drones within a military context, especially an offensive military context. Last year, employees at … Read the rest