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By Aria Alamalhodaei

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Hello and welcome back to Max Q!

In this issue:

  • Pixxel’s new investor
  • Mission delays for Boeing, Rocket Lab
  • News from SpaceX and more


Max Q is brought to you by me, Aria Alamalhodaei. If you enjoy reading Max Q, consider forwarding it to a friend. 


TechCrunch Disrupt 2023

Join us at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco this September as we explore the impact of space exploration on our world today. New this year, we will have a whole day dedicated to all things space, featuring some of today’s leading space figures. Save up to $800 when you buy your pass now through August 11, and save 15% on top of that with promo code MAXQ.

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Pixxel’s hyperspectral orbital imagery attracts investment from Google

Hyperspectral imagery startup Pixxel has closed $36 million in funding as it prepares to roll out new remote sensing and analytics capabilities to customers.

The LA- and Bangalore-based startup also scored a new strategic investor: Google, the tech giant that’s as well known for its mapping products as it is for its search engine. While Google led the Series B funding round, this does not mark the start of its relationship with Pixxel, CEO Awais Ahmed said in a recent interview.

“We were already working with them as a client before this,” he explained, with an AI research team from Google employing Pixxel’s hyperspectral data in agricultural applications. Google also rolled out its Earth Engine last year, a powerful tool that gives governments and businesses access to a massive trove of Earth observation data from hundreds of sensors in orbit. Many of Pixxel’s users separately use Earth Engine, Ahmed said, and the ultimate goal is to integrate the startup’s data onto that service.

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Pixxel’s hyperspectral orbital imagery attracts investment from Google image

Image Credits: Pixxel

NASA, Boeing delay the first crewed flight test of the Starliner capsule…again

Boeing and NASA said that the first crewed flight test of the Starliner capsule would be further delayed due to a new crop of technical issues with the spacecraft.

The first crewed mission was scheduled to fly two NASA astronauts on July 21 after being pushed back from an earlier April launch date. Officials did not provide a new launch date during a media briefing, though Boeing’s VP of commercial crew, Mark Nappi, said leadership would spend the next week or so figuring out a plan to ensure the capsule is safe for flight.

“The bottom line here is: safety is always our top priority,” a Boeing official said. “It’s always been that way with human spaceflight. And so that’s what drives this decision. You can say we’re disappointed because it means a delay, but the team is proud that we’re making the right choices.”

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NASA, Boeing delay the first crewed flight test of the Starliner capsule…again image

Image Credits: United Launch Alliance

City Spotlight: Atlanta

On June 7, TechCrunch is going to (virtually) be in Atlanta. We have a slate of amazing programming planned, including the mayor himself, Andre Dickens. If you are an early-stage Atlanta-based founder, apply to pitch to our panel of guest investors/judges for our live pitching competition; the winner gets a free booth at TechCrunch Disrupt this year to exhibit their company in our startup alley. Register here to tune in to the event.

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City Spotlight: Atlanta image

More news from TC and beyond

  • Axiom Space’s second private mission to the International Space Station concluded with a successful splashdown late on May 30. (TechCrunch)
  • China aims to land taikonauts on the moon before 2030. Meanwhile, the country is also at work developing its answer to Starlink. (SpaceNews/SpaceNews)
  • The European Space Agency is inviting commercial companies to submit proposals for cargo transportation services to and from the ISS. (ESA)
  • Hubble Network raised $20 million to build out its satellite network that any Bluetooth-enabled device will be able to connect to. (TechCrunch)
  • Rocket Factory Augsburg conducted a full-duration hot fire test of its upper stage for 280 seconds, a first for an EU-based company. (RFA)
  • Rocket Lab’s private mission to Venus has slipped to January 2025 after the company missed the launch window last month. (TechCrunch)
  • Sierra Space powered up its Dream Chaser spaceplane for the first time. (Sierra Space)
  • SpaceX’s role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict is not over yet, with the Pentagon ordering more Starlink terminals to go to Ukrainian troops. (TechCrunch)
More news from TC and beyond image

Image Credits: SpaceX

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