Deal: Take $50 off the BlackBerry KEYone for a limited time

When it comes to smartphones, the BlackBerry KEYone is the epitome of the basic phrase, “The complete is bigger than the sum of its components.” You can search at the keyboard, the processor, and the display screen as independent factors and frown at them, but place collectively, they make the BlackBerry KEYone a effective gadget that has carved a niche with the Android trustworthy.

Starting off tomorrow, October 18, that effective gadget will get pretty a little bit cheaper as the silver-coloured KEYone will be presented for $500, $50 cheaper than what it commonly goes for.

There are a handful of things to retain in intellect regarding the discount, the largest currently being that it will be in effect for only 24 several hours. This usually means that you have from 1am EST on October 18 until eventually 12:59am EST on October 19 to obtain the KEYone for $50 off. Also, the two the GSM and CDMA unlocked versions are discounted, but not the Black Version KEYone.

As previously stated, the KEYone is certainly bigger than the sum of its components, which start with the keyboard that functions touch-sensitive frets between rows of keys. The cellphone also functions Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625, which, when paired with the 3,505 mAh battery, usually means that battery lifestyle is amongst the greatest out of any recent cellphone. The KEYone also receives by with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, the latter of which is augmented by the microSD card slot.

Eventually, the cellphone at present operates a stock-ish version of Android Nougat, with an update to Android Oreo presumably incoming.

If you had your eye on the KEYone and were waiting around on some form of discount to decide it up, now is your prospect to do so. The phone’s flash sale is by way of Amazon and Finest Invest in, and fortunate for you, we have obtain hyperlinks down down below.

Activision ‘Destiny 2’ physical game sales fell more than 50 percent versus original

Activision Blizzard’s “Destiny 2” game sales are coming in significantly below expectations and faltering in comparison to the franchise’s first game, according to Wall Street.

U.S. physical game sales of “Destiny 2” declined more than 50 percent in the month of September versus the 2014 release of “Destiny” in its first month, according to NPD sell-through data sourced by three Wall Street analyst reports.

“The launch month of Destiny 2 was well short of the original iteration by a material amount,” Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson wrote in a note to clients Friday, citing the NPD data.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter also called the “Destiny 2” sales “underwhelming” in a Friday report.

Pachter added the September NPD “Destiny 2” sales data missed his forecast for the game by 37 percent.

The September “Destiny 2” U.S. sales data is similar in magnitude to the 58 percent year-over-year drop during the first week of “Destiny 2” sales in the United Kingdom versus the first title, according to Gfk Chart-Track physical sell-through data revealed on Sept. 11.

To be sure, overall unit sales may be better than the NPD and Gfk Chart-Track sell-through numbers as the data thus far only tracked physical game sales in retail stores not digital game sales.

Activision Blizzard on September 15 announced Destiny 2 sales “surpassed the original’s records for engagement and digital sales in launch week.” However the company did not reveal a total sales number for “Destiny 2” inclusive of physical retail store sales in contrast to the “more than $325 million” first week press release for original title in 2014.

The company’s CEO Bobby Kotick said on a Feb. 2016 earnings call that “for games like Destiny, it had, in the high-20%s in terms of digital downloads” versus total sales. In Feb. 2017, Activision executive Dennis Durkin said Destiny digital sales mix rose to a “mid-30s” percentage of its total sales, according to a FactSet transcript.

As a result even if “Destiny 2” digital sales are up significantly versus the original “Density,” it is highly likely overall sales will still be down materially compared to the first title.

Pachter now estimates total first month “Destiny 2” sales including full game digital downloads and physical retail sales will be “down roughly 40% from the first month sales of its predecessor.”

Analysts said part of the reason for the sales decline may be because it launched on two less console platforms versus the first title. In addition, some gamers may be waiting for the PC version, which launches on Oct. 24. However, the installed bases of Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One consoles increased significantly since 2014, counteracting the game not being released on Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 this time.

Activision Blizzard sent the following statement in response when asked for comment on the NPD sales data:

“The original Destiny became the biggest new console video game franchise launch in history, and Destiny 2 surpassed the original’s records for engagement and digital sales in launch week. The Destiny universe will welcome a new community of players for the first time on PC on October 24.”

NPD declined to comment.

The company’s shares declined 2.3 percent midday Friday after the report. Activision Blizzard stock is up 72 percent this year through Thursday compared to the S&P 500’s 14 percent return.

Morgan Stanley sees SpaceX value growing to more than $50 billion

Elon Musk, CEO for SpaceX, speaks during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sept. 27, 2016.

Susana Gonzalez | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Elon Musk, CEO for SpaceX, speaks during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sept. 27, 2016.

Elon Musk is making rocket launches mundane and that could be worth tens of billions of dollars.

SpaceX could become a $50 billion juggernaut through its launch of a satellite broadband network, a team of Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a report Thursday.

The private space company on Wednesday launched its 15th rocket this year, and the second this week. More importantly, the Falcon 9 rocket launch was the third time SpaceX reused the first stage booster, and with each of these so-called “flight-proven” launches, it should be easier to attract new customers.

Morgan Stanley says SpaceX developing reusable rockets is “an elevator to low Earth orbit.”

“When Elisha Otis demonstrated the safety elevator in 1854, the public may have struggled to comprehend the impact on architecture and city design. Roughly 20 years later, every multistory building in New York, Boston, and Chicago was constructed around a central elevator shaft,” Morgan Stanley said. “It all comes down to SpaceX.”

Reducing the cost to launch a satellite to about $60 million, from the $200 million that United Launch Alliance charged through most of the last decade, was a monumental breakthrough. SpaceX is trying to reduce its cost to $5 million per mission, and Morgan Stanley says the launch business “generates limited operating income.”

The cash cow, to Morgan Stanley, is the SpaceX plan to launch a satellite broadband network in two years and send humans to Mars in seven.

“The goal of the satellite internet business is to generate enough cash to be able to go to Mars” the research firm said, adding that it believes Musk is serious about his goal of planetary expansion.

SpaceX has denied that it is preparing an initial public offering, but Morgan Stanley says the prospect should not be counted out. Upcoming projects will require significant amounts of money. “It seems reasonable to us to consider whether the company could look to access capital in the public markets,” the analysts said.

With “substantial room to increase the investment in space,” Morgan Stanley says that “public investors will start to pay more attention to space when or if SpaceX decides to IPO.”

PlayStation 4 Update 5.0 (NOBUNAGA) Available Now; Offers Family on PSN, Team Tournaments, Message Updates & More

PlayStation 4 update 5.0, codenamed NOBUNAGA, is currently being deployed, and introduces ‘Family on PSN’, Team Tournaments, an enhanced Twitch broadcast option on PlayStation 4 Pro, and more.

The 5.0 firmware update for Sony’s console also offers the ‘Follow Anyone’ option alongside New System Language Additions and Friend List Management. You can find the release notes for the PS4 5.0 software update down below:

:: Release Notes

Main features in version 5.00 update

  • You can now add users of your PS4 as family members. This makes it easy to manage your child’s account information and to restrict PS4 features. To add family members, select(Settings) > [Parental Controls/Family Management].
  • As the family manager, you can set up your family.
  • Up to seven family members (including you) can be in your family and use online features.
  • Multiple adults can be in your family. The family manager can make other adults in the family parents or guardians. The family manager and family members who are parents or guardians can adjust parental controls for the children in your family.
  • You can configure parental control settings for each child. Using parental controls, you can restrict use of online features and communication with other players, set restrictions for games, restrict use of the Internet browser, and set spending limits for PlayStation Store.
  • You can configure parental controls anytime from your PC or smartphone.
  • You can now follow anyone, not just verified accounts. Select(Follow) on a person’s profile screen, and their activities and broadcasts will appear in [What’s New]. You automatically follow your Friends, but you have the option to unfollow them.
  • Recommendations for who to follow are now offered based on the games you play. SelectSelect(Friends) >(Follow).
  • You can now choose who can follow you and who can see your follow list.Select(Settings) > [Account Management] > [Privacy Settings], and then configure each setting.
  • (Custom Lists) has been added to(Friends). Create custom lists to easily organize your Friends and choose players to send messages or game invitations to.
  • For certain broadcasts,(Communities) now appears on the(Live from PlayStation) viewing screen. To access the broadcaster’s community, select(Communities).
  • You can now view(Notifications) on the quick menu.
  • The following languages have been added as system languages.
  • Czech, Indonesian, Hungarian, Romanian, Vietnamese, Greek, Thai
  • When broadcasting PlayStation VR gameplay, you can now see spectator comments on your VR headset screen.

Other features in version 5.00

  • For(Messages), screen layout has been improved, and the following features have been added.
  • You can now receive music that has been shared with you as a message. Select the message to play the music.
  • Messages containing a URL now display a preview.
  • The following features have been added to the quick menu.
  • You can now select [Leave This Party] to leave the party.
  • You can now see albums and playlists for songs playing in Spotify.
  • A clock has been added.
  • The following features have been added to(Settings) > [Notifications].
  • You can now disable pop-up notifications during video playback.
  • You can now choose the color of pop-up notifications.
  • You can now choose to show or hide message details in notifications.
  • You can now choose to broadcast in 1080p (60 fps) when using Twitch on your PlayStation 4 Pro.
  • You can now enjoy Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD content in virtual surround sound when you connect headphones to PlayStation VR.
  • Blu-ray Disc™ is a trademark of the Blu-ray Disc Association.
  • Spotify is a registered trademark of Spotify Ltd.

More about the PS4 5.0 update can be read here. The beta for the 5.0 update went live some months ago. Sony recently released PS4 update 4.74 for all users, which caused some software limitations for those on the 5.0 Beta Software. An update to fix these issues was released some weeks ago.


Nvidia Leads These Five IBD 50 Stocks In Buy Range; S&P 500 Futures

Several stocks in the elite IBD 50 list are in buy range after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both hit record highs on Friday. The five highest-ranked are YY ( YY ), Advanced Energy Industries ( AEIS ), Nvidia ( NVDA ), Electronic Arts ( EA ), and Paycom ( PAYC ).

[ibd-display-video id=2324810 width=50 float=left autostart=true]

All five of these IBD 50 stocks have Composite Ratings of 95 or better. Composite Ratings, which go from 1 to 99, combine a variety of fundamental and technical ratings. All-time stock winners often have a 95+ CR near the start of their big runs. YY, Advanced Energy Industries have best-possible 99 Composite Ratings. Electronic Arts and Paycom have 98 CRs while Nvidia is at 96.

Futures for the S&P 500 index, Nasdaq 100 and Dow industrials rose 0.2% vs. fair value Sunday evening. On Monday, the Institute for Supply Management will release its September U.S. manufacturing index.

IBD’S TAKE: We’ve opened up our premium content and tools to non-subscribers from now until Oct. 8. So make sure to check out our Big Picture , Stock Checkup  as well as the IBD 50 and other Stock Lists  so you can find and evaluate stocks with ease – for free.


The Chinese social media company is rated No. 1 in the current IBD 50 list. YY is seeing strong earnings and revenue growth via users livestreaming themselves performing music or comedy, playing video games, or even eating. Last Tuesday YY blasted past an 83.10 buy point from a cup base , rising 9% in double normal volume. YY continued to edge higher the rest of the week. On Friday, YY briefly became extended, rising as high as 89.37, past the 5% chase zone that extends to 87.26. But YY pared gains to close at 86.83.

Advanced Energy Industries

Back in late July, Advanced Energy Industries reported 67% earnings growth in the second quarter and a 40% revenue gain, both better than expected. The chip-equipment maker also guided views higher.

Advanced Energy Industries on Friday rose 3.1% to 80.76, clearing a cup-with-handle base entry of 78.95. Volume was 33% above normal, which is OK but not great. The stock had rebounded from its 50-day line on Wednesday.


Nvidia is now back in a buy zone, but investors should be cautious. Technically, Nvidia is in a second-stage base because its early 2017 consolidation just undercut a prior base, but the stock has been on a huge run for the past three years, as Nvidia’s graphics chips are in high demand for self-driving cars, artificial intelligence and even bitcoin mining.

Nvidia roared out of a flat base with a 174.66 entry on Sept. 15, rising as high as 191.20 the following session, 9.5% over the buy point. Nvidia then quickly reversed amid unconfirmed reports that Tesla (TSLA) was working with AMD (AMD) on AI chips and that the automaker would use Intel (INTC) chips for its “infotainment.”

Over five sessions, Tesla fell as low as 170.16 on Sept. 25. But two days later, Nvidia moved back above the 174.66 entry, finishing the week at 178.67.

Investors should never let a 10% gain go to zero or turn into a loss. Because Nvidia only rose 9.5% above its buy point, and didn’t fall 7% below its buy point, the stock’s old entry is still valid. But it hasn’t been great action.

Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts broke out of a flat base with a 116.14 buy point on July 26, a day before reporting solid earnings. Since then, EA’s stock has largely traded sideways, with a few brief forays just above or below 5% buy zone.

On last Monday’s tech stock shakeout, Electronic Arts fell 3.6% to 114.20, dropping below its buy point and through its 50-day moving average. But by Thursday, EA was back in buy range and closed the week at 118.05, back above its 50-day line.

Video game makers like EA are counting on a strong holiday season.


Paycom offers cloud-based payroll and human resource software, mostly for small- to mid-sized businesses. Paycom edged past a 73.71 entry on Aug. 22. But since then shares have been trading just above or below the buy point. On Friday, shares edged up to 74.96.


The Big Picture: These 2 Sectors Continue To Lead Market

Young Chinese Leader Shrugs Off Monday’s Tech Rout, Breaks Out

Best Chinese Stocks To Buy And Watch

Nvidia Gets Price-Target Hike On Artificial Intelligence View

Video Game Stocks Hot As Holiday Season Looms

IBD 50: What To Do When Your Stock Has A Frightening Accumulation Grade

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Sony Releases New PlayStation 4 Firmware Beta 5.0 Update To Address Limitations In Update 4.74

Sony has released a small PlayStation 4 firmware beta 5.0 update, which should address the software limitations for beta 5.0 users caused by the 4.74 update.

Last week’s PS4 4.74 firmware update caused some issues for those running the 5.0 beta firmware. Various beta users reported crashes and bugs due to the new update, after which Sony sent out an official e-mail to those running the 5.0 Beta firmware warning them for various “limitations” when updating (or downgrading?) to 4.74:

Important information for Beta Trial testers

PlayStation 4 system software update 4.74 has been released. When trying to start certain games, you may be prompted to update the system to 4.74 from the 5.00 Beta.

Updating from 5.00 Beta to 4.74 will result in the following restrictions:

  • You will not be able to revert back from 4.74 to the current 5.00 Beta. (You will be able to update to the upcoming 5.00 Beta 6.)
  • The order in which content is displayed on the home screen will be reset.
  • Download links on the home screen (such as for SHAREfactory or Media Player) that you deleted will be displayed again.
  • Some items in [Notifications] will be deleted.
  • Some items in [Discover] that you have already seen will be displayed again.
  • Activities that were created and some settings you configured while using the 5.00 Beta will be stored on the PlayStation Network server. You may see notifications related to these activities and settings even after updating to 4.74.
  • Games that were downloaded while using the 5.00 Beta may not start properly after updating to 4.74. If this happens, delete the game, and then download it again

Please refrain from updating to 4.74 and wait for the upcoming 5.00 Beta 6 update if you would like to avoid these limitations.

A new Beta 5.0 update has now been deployed which should fix these issues, and fortunately, users are now able to restore their PS4 console to the latest beta 5.0 version.

The PlayStation 4 5.0 firmware update is likely to be released to the public in the coming weeks.


More Than 50% Of Brands On Instagram Posted At Least One Instagram Story Last Month

Welcome to our Instagram growth and engagement study for August 2017.

In these monthly studies, we look at 2,500 Instagram profiles and their growth and engagement on the platform.

We also look at the latest product improvements and other news too to help you identify the trends and standards on the platform.

More Than 50%25 Of Brands On Instagram Posted At Least One Instagram Story Last Month

Engagement still at the record low

Follower growth in August was at 0.07% of the total audience. This is a 40% increase compared to the record low follower growth we saw in July.

Post engagement in August was consistent with July at 0.8% with 99% of all engagements being likes. This continues to be the lowest engagement rate we’ve seen since we started doing our studies in May 2015.

Photo posts engaged 0.8% of the audience while video posts engaged 0.6%.

Profiles were trying to combat the decrease in engagement by posting more. The average profile posted 3 times per day in August with 84% of all posts being images.

Locowise Instagram Stats for August

One-year anniversary of Instagram Stories

It’s a one-year anniversary of Instagram introducing (Snapchat) Stories to its platform. Instagram has released more than 20 new Stories-features during the year. The latest is the announcement that users can now view Stories on the desktop or mobile web. The ability to post stories using mobile web is coming soon too, but the platform doesn’t plan to allow social media managers to post from the desktop.

Today, Stories have more than 250 million daily active users. Over 50% of brands on Instagram have posted at least one Instagram story during the last month. One in five organic stories from brands gets at least one direct message as a response.

Instagram has also announced that its users under 25 years of age spend “more than 32 minutes a day” and users over 25 years of age “spend more than 24 minutes a day” on the Instagram app.

Why did Instagram suddenly release their time spent in app stats for the first time in three years? To prove that their Snapchat copy is now actually more engaging than the original.

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Webcast, September 27th: How to Double Your Email List

Latest statement from Snapchat in February 2017 had users of 25 years of age or under spending “over 30 minutes on Snapchat every day” and users over 25 years of age spending “approximately 20 minutes on Snapchat every day”.

Instagram Stories

This news has caused the share price of Snapchat to go to an all-time low during the month.

A hack hits millions of Instagram users

Not everything was all positive for Instagram during the month. The platform was hit by a hack that affected millions of users including many verified accounts and celebrity users.

There was a bug on the platform that could be used to access private information such as email addresses and phone numbers of users.

Victims’ contact information is available to purchase on the dark web including phone numbers for celebrities such as:

● Actors: Emma Watson, Emilia Clarke, Zac Efron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Channing Tatum.
● Musicians: Harry Styles, Ellie Goulding, Victoria Beckham, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Adele, Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears.
● Athletes: Floyd Mayweather, Zinedine Zidane, Neymar, David Beckham, Ronaldinho.

In other news, it has been reported about “several employees getting fired for selling verification” of profiles on the platform. There is a black market for those blue checkmarks designated for public figures and celebrities. The fee can be anywhere up to $15,000.

Other improvements to the platform

Users can now choose between landscape and portrait formats when posting posts with multiple photos or videos. All photos or videos within the post must be in the same format though. Users can now also edit tagged people after the post has been published and even saving these posts as drafts for publishing in the future.

Users can now reply with photos or videos within direct messages. There’s also an option to send split-screen replies.

All data and metrics now available in the API

Instagram has had an upgrade to its API. Businesses with Instagram Business Profiles can now get access to a new and improved API with access to all the metrics and data. The API now also includes the option for brands to moderate comments including hiding of individual comments or turning the comments off completely.

$50 Google Home Mini leaks online ahead of October 4 Pixel event

Why it matters to you

If you’re looking for a Google Assistant speaker to place in all your rooms, the Google Home Mini might be the affordable option for you.

The Amazon Echo has been well received for a number of reasons, including the fact that you don’t necessarily always have to buy a full Amazon Echo for each room. Google has already launched its full-sized Google Home speaker, but now it’s launching a more affordable speaker that you can put in each room — rumored to be called the Google Home Mini.

The Google Home Mini has been rumored for some time now, but the latest leak gives us a pretty good look at what the speaker is supposed to look like. The leak, which comes from Droid-Life, shows off a puck-shaped speaker in three colors — which happen to match the leaked colors for the Google Daydream headset.

According to the leak, the speaker will be available in Chalk, Charcoal, and Coral colors, and it seems as though the speaker will be powered — not wireless — based on the leaked images. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — the idea here is that you’ll be able to get a speaker for each room.

Of course, if you’re buying one for each room, you’ll probably want something pretty affordable, and thankfully the Home Mini reportedly will be. You’ll be able to get one for $50.

The Home Mini should be able to do pretty much everything the standard Google Home can. It’ll come with Google Assistant, and will allow you to schedule things, set reminders, and so on — like Google Assistant on the Home speaker and on an Android phone. The speaker in the device may not be as loud as the standard Google Home, but it will be great for those who don’t necessarily need a loud speaker or those who simply want things like smart home control.

The Google Home Mini isn’t the first non-Home speaker to be launched with Google Assistant. In the past few months, we’ve seen a few devices launch from the likes of JBL, Mobvoi, and even Panasonic, coming in at different price points and with different focuses. The thing that really brings them all together, however, is Google Assistant, which powers all of the speakers. Check out our full list of the Assistant-powered speakers to be launched so far.

U.S. astronauts are climbing back into space capsules. Here’s how they’ve improved over the past 50 years

In 1961, an American astronaut reached space for the first time and soared through the heavens in a gumdrop-shaped capsule.

Since then, people have flown to the moon, created space planes and designed rockets that return to Earth for precision landings. But when astronauts lift off next year from U.S. soil for the first time in six years, their vehicle of choice will be another capsule.

Boeing Co. and SpaceX are relying on the tried-and-true design as the two companies each develop spacecraft under NASA contracts to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Despite the sleek spaceships of sci-fi imaginings or the familiar winged body of the shuttle, engineers have returned to the seemingly clunky capsule again and again for a simple reason — it works.

“The capsule is a very durable technology,” said Matthew Hersch, assistant professor of the history of science at Harvard University. “It may not be romantic to fly, but it’s going to get you there and back safely.”

A rendering of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule.
A rendering of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule. (Boeing)

Since the end of the shuttle program, the U.S. has relied on Russia to transport its astronauts to and from the space station in the Soyuz spacecraft, another capsule.

Boeing and SpaceX said they are confident their vehicles will fly next year, despite recent reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office noting that delays for the two companies have pushed the first test flights past the initial deadline.

The new spacecraft have a number of features that weren’t available on earlier capsules — touchscreen displays, large windows, more powerful electronics and lighter materials.

The spacesuits that astronauts will wear also have been slimmed down. SpaceX has released several photos of its spacesuit, which Chief Executive Elon Musk said was tested to ensure astronauts would stay safe even if the pressure in the capsule dropped suddenly. Boeing’s “Boeing blue” spacesuit is about 40% lighter than previous suits, and the gloves were specially designed to let astronauts interact with touchscreens.

Chris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and current Boeing director of Starliner crew and mission systems, wears the Boeing spacesuit.
Chris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and current Boeing director of Starliner crew and mission systems, wears the Boeing spacesuit. (Boeing)

Back in the early days of the U.S. space program, astronauts lamented riding in anything that allowed for such limited human control. Borrowing the name from something you swallow didn’t enhance the appeal.

Initially, there was great enthusiasm for making those spacecraft look like airplanes, but it was difficult to create wings that could navigate various parts of a mission and survive the heat of reentry, Hersch said.

Any spacecraft rated to carry humans has a specific set of requirements. It must be efficient in its volume with enough space for all necessary life systems, but have as low mass as possible. It also has to withstand tremendous g-forces, pressure and heat during launch and reentry.

The heat shield on a capsule’s blunt, slightly curved bottom helps protect the crew as the vehicle reenters the atmosphere.

Capsules are aerodynamically stable when traveling at supersonic speeds during reentry and require little maneuvering to return to Earth in an emergency, giving them “inherent stability,” said David Giger, senior director of Dragon development engineering at SpaceX.

“What’s really interesting about capsule design is it’s aerodynamically efficient both on ascent and descent,” said David Barnhart, director of the USC Space Engineering Research Center. “It only takes one event to take it back down, which is essentially a reentry burn, and that’s good because it minimizes moving parts and complexities.”

A person wears the SpaceX astronaut spacesuit and stands near the Dragon 2 capsule.
A person wears the SpaceX astronaut spacesuit and stands near the Dragon 2 capsule. (SpaceX)

In creating spacecraft for NASA’s commercial crew program, both Boeing and SpaceX have built on the example of their predecessors.

Boeing constructed its design based on some of the data from the 1950s and 1960s era Mercury and Gemini, as well as NASA’s Orion, a crew spacecraft that first flew in 2014 and is slated to ride into space atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket in 2019.

Rob Adkisson, Boeing’s chief engineer for the commercial crew program, said the CST-100 Starliner’s compact capsule design matches its mission as a “people mover,” compared to the larger space shuttle that essentially functioned as a “truck back and forth.”

“It looks a lot like Gemini and Mercury,” he said of the Starliner. “But it’s quite a bit different.”

The Chicago aerospace giant’s Starliner will blast into space on an Atlas V rocket before deploying and docking autonomously at the space station. Upon its return to Earth, the spacecraft will jettison its service module, deploy parachutes to slow down and drop its heat shield so the vehicle’s airbags can inflate for a softer ground landing.

Rob Adkisson, right, chief engineer with Boeing's Commercial Group Program, examines a capsule heat shield component with David Schiller, aerostructures lead for the company's commercial crew program.
Rob Adkisson, right, chief engineer with Boeing’s Commercial Group Program, examines a capsule heat shield component with David Schiller, aerostructures lead for the company’s commercial crew program. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Mannequins riding the Starliner during a recent test were “barely jostled” inside, Adkisson said. The capsule is designed to be reused 10 times.

A version of the capsule is undergoing tests at a Boeing facility in Huntington Beach where space structures like Apollo, the original Delta and Delta II rockets and parts of the space station were also cleared before their missions. The CST-100 Starliner capsule is set to make its debut test flight in June 2018, with a crewed test flight two months later.

“You design robust margins into what you do, demonstrate that everything operates as we expect it to,” Adkisson said. “That gives us a lot of confidence and gives our customer a lot of confidence that we’ve got it nailed.”

One major development is the fine-tuning of the capsule’s heat protection. The Starliner’s base heat shield has an ablator, a proprietary material that absorbs energy on reentry and only chars “like a marshmallow,” said David Schiller, leader of Boeing’s commercial crew aerostructures integrated product team.

The command module from the 13th Lunar mission in 1995 at the Space Works Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas, where it was restored for display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.
The command module from the 13th Lunar mission in 1995 at the Space Works Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas, where it was restored for display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. (Dan Bayer / Associated Press)

The base heat shield and its four backshells located around the crew vehicle are made of composite materials. A glass/phenolic honeycomb core is wedged between the composite layers, like an ice cream sandwich, to provide high strength while staying lightweight. The entire vehicle is covered with thermal protection, including a type of woven ceramic “blanket” similar to the ones used on the space shuttle, and ceramic tiles on the backshells to deflect heat.

Like Boeing, SpaceX also looked to previous capsules when it first embarked on its Dragon spacecraft.

Back then, the Hawthorne company was still very young, so engineers looked back at the legacies of Mercury, Gemini and the moon program’s Apollo. The lessons are incorporated in its Dragon 2 crew transporter capsule, along with those learned from developing SpaceX’s Dragon 1 vehicle, currently used by NASA to take supplies to the space station.

The Dragon 2’s abort system is a marked change from Apollo, which used a rocket on a tower located at the top of the capsule and was discarded on the way up to orbit. SpaceX’s launch abort system can be used at any time during the entire ascent trajectory and stays on the capsule so it can be recovered on splashdown — part of the company’s emphasis on reusability, said Giger of SpaceX.

A mockup of NASA's Orion, which is designed to eventually travel to Mars, hits the water in a simulated ocean splashdown test at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
A mockup of NASA’s Orion, which is designed to eventually travel to Mars, hits the water in a simulated ocean splashdown test at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. (Steve Helber / AP)

Dragon 2 will also utilize more advanced avionics technology than was possible during Apollo — the capsule’s avionics draw less than half the power of the Apollo spacecraft and lunar module combined — and the avionics are smaller and can be consolidated into fewer numbers of components. The most obvious example is the touchscreen displays inside the capsule.

The SpaceX capsule will also utilize more automation, such as its docking ability, to improve safety and allow crew to focus on crucial tasks, he said. The company is also working on developing the capsule’s precision landing capability in the ocean so recovery crews can arrive within minutes.

“Just because it looks like a capsule does not mean the inherent technology is the same,” Giger said.

Dragon 2, which will ride into space on a Falcon 9 rocket, is set to make its first test flight in February 2018, and a crewed flight will come four months later.

In the meantime, the capsule’s hardware is going through qualification testing and software is being developed and evaluated, said Garrett Reisman, director of space operations at SpaceX and a former NASA astronaut who flew on two space shuttle missions.

“We’re trying to take a giant leap forward in safety,” he said. “We have the opportunity to do that through design, improvements in technology and also by leveraging all the history that our partner NASA brings to the table … to make sure we don’t repeat mistakes made in the past.”

Twitter: @smasunaga


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