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Boeing shows what its deep space habitat could look like

NASA teamed up with six companies to develop deep space vehicles as part of its NextSTEP program last year. Boeing, one of the six, has now given us an idea of what its creations could look like. The company has revealed concept images of its deep space habitat and transport vehicle that could make it possible to send humans to Mars from a lunar base. Pictured above is the Deep Space Gateway, the habitat Boeing wants to send to cislunar space. It could house critical research for human exploration and could dock other vehicles using a system similar to the International Space Station’s.

It could also serve as the home base for the Deep Space Transport vehicle Boeing will build to send humans to Mars. The transport system pictured below will have living quarters so spacefarers can endure the lengthy journey. Astronauts can either stay on board or send a lander to the red planet for surface missions.

Both the transport vehicle and the gateway habitat will be powered by solar electric propulsion system, the promising technology NASA used for the Dawn spacecraft and the same one it’s developing further for future Martian missions. Boeing says it plans to launch the habitat in four parts through NASA’s powerful Space Launch System rocket. It expects to start sending to and assembling the Gateway in cislunar space as soon as the early 2020s

Boeing Deep Space Transit Vehicle

Source: Boeing

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Autonomous delivery drone network set to take flight in Switzerland

Matternet has long used Switzerland as a testing ground for its delivery drone technology, and now it's ramping things up a notch. The company has revealed plans to launch the first permanent autonomous drone delivery network in Switzerland, where its flying robot couriers will shuttle blood and pathology samples between hospital facilities. The trick is the Matternet Station you see above: when a drone lands, the Station locks it into place and swaps out both the battery and the cargo (loaded into boxes by humans, who scan QR codes for access). Stations even have their own mechanisms to manage drone traffic if the skies are busy.

And the automation isn't just for the sake of cleverness -- it might be crucial to saving lives. Company chief Andreas Raptopoulos expects the drone network to transfer medical supplies within 30 minutes, and the reliability of a largely automated system means that hospitals don't have to worry about unpredictable delivery times (particularly on the ground).

Don't expect drones to blanket the skies. Matternet explains that there will only be one or two drones per network, and expansions to Germany and the UK will only happen once it's comfortable with Switzerland. The company got permission to fly over densely populated urban areas in March, if you want a sense of the time scales involved. Still, this is an honest-to-goodness example of a practical drone delivery network, and one performing crucial tasks at that -- this isn't just a nice-to-have luxury. If this network succeeds, it might persuade other countries to at least consider allowing drone networks..

Via: The Verge

Source: Matternet

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