Evaluation: Purple Rocket Showcases Sean Baker’s Signature Model and Simon Rex’s Robust Efficiency

One of the most interesting aspects of Sean Baker filmmaking is his ability to achieve his unique vision in circumstances that other, less staunch filmmakers would consider disadvantages. Baker (Starlet, Tangerine, The Florida Project) routinely takes creative decisions that others would never make, let alone incorporate them into her visual style and approach to filmmaking. From working with aspiring actors (or non-actors at all) to Verité-style filming on location (Tangerine was shot exclusively on iPhones), Baker’s films always contain a sense of visceral reality that sets them apart. The filmmaker’s style and all of his signature choices come into their own in Red Rocket, Baker’s latest film starring Simon Rex, which is both captivating and slightly off-putting. The result, though perhaps not as poignant as the Oscar-nominated The Florida Project, is more than worth seeing, a modern exploration of hectic pace and opportunism.

Image courtesy of A24

Rex is Mikey, an articulate charmer who made a name for himself as an adult movie star in Los Angeles. But he’s out of luck, out of work and back to his hometown in Texas, where his first stop is his wife’s house. Right, Mikey has been away for years and fucked other women on camera, but he has a wife, Lexi (Bree Elrod), at home who still lives with her mother, Lil (Brenda Deiss). It takes a bit of persuasion, but Lexi finally lets Mikey back in the house (and eventually her bed) as he finds a way to make a living after his entertainment career is over. After convincing Leondria (Judy Hill), the local pot dealer, to give him some inventory to sell on, he asks his unemployed neighbor Lonnie (Ethan Darbone) to take him to the various strip clubs around town for his Sales. It is a life.

Looking for new customers, Mikey ends up in a donut shop outside a power station where all union workers take their breaks. Believing he is going to commit murder with them, he gets more than he expected when he meets Strawberry (Suzanna Son), the cute young clerk who calls him. She is seventeen, has large, innocent eyes and a confident demeanor that Mikey is immediately drawn to. This is where it gets interesting, because Mikey’s interest is real. It’s also a little creepy and predatory. Mikey never does anything obvious to Strawberry, and she is just as invested in their relationship, which is becoming sexual, as he is. But Mikey is always looking for a point of view, and soon he’s thinking about what a pretty young thing like Strawberry could do in his former industry and plans to convince her to move back to LA with him.

As the central character of Red Rocket, Mikey is never entirely lovable and never a villain. He’s that weird duck that you don’t see often enough in movies, a complex person with flaws and needs, someone with motivations that are not always honorable, but by no means illegal or immoral. His ambition puts him in some interesting situations, from confronting Strawberry’s teenage boyfriend (and the family who are defending him) to having unexpectedly deep conversations with Leondria’s partner June (Brittney Rodriguez). But he’s a man who knows how to get what he wants, and he’s not afraid to charm or flatter to get it. In fact, all of his charm and caress is basically a matter of course for him at this point, his usual course of action in planning his way through life. Rex perfectly manages this balance, can be anything the situation calls for – flirting with Strawberry, a frustrated husband held back by Lexi, a businessman with a vision with Lonnie.

In true Baker fashion, the non-actors surrounding Rex just elevate the process, from Lil’s natural comedic timing to Leondria’s no-nonsense performance. Suzanna Son can more than assert herself next to Rex and embodies this peculiar moment in the life of a young woman when she is no longer a child, not yet a grown woman, but is nevertheless fully capable of attracting a man’s attention. Filmed in the heat of the summer in Texas, Baker takes advantage of the wide sky and the vast landscapes and gives the film strong, bright colors that glow from the screen. While the script (co-written by Chris Bergoch) loses some of its momentum in the film’s final twenty minutes, there’s enough between Rex’s strong performance and Baker’s ever-compelling filmmaking to make Red Rocket an enjoyable ride.

Red Rocket is now playing in select cinemas.

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Look inside Firefly House as rocket builder prepares for second launch

Space company Firefly prepares for its Alpha rocket’s second orbital launch attempt as the company plans to build the foundation of its business.

“Firefly aims to become the next SpaceX, a very transformative space transportation company,” said Tom Markusic, CEO of Firefly, to CNBC.

The company recently gave CNBC a look at its manufacturing and testing facilities near Austin, Texas as well as during its first alpha rocket launch in September.

“The rocket gives you the key to space. It’s critical, but the big sales do things in space, ”said Markusic.

Markusic – whose experience, among other things, in management positions Virgo galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX – compared the Firefly-built lunar lander called Blue Ghost to SpaceX’s series of Dragon capsules that put cargo and people into low-earth orbit. While Firefly’s Alpha missile costs $ 15 million per launch, Markusic says the lunar lander is far more lucrative per mission.

“Blue Ghost has approximately $ 150 million in revenue for the company on a full payload,” said Markusic.

Firefly Aerospace CEO Tom Markusic stands in front of the company’s Alpha rocket on SLC-2 at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Andrew Evers | CNBC

While the initial Alpha launch hit several milestones for the company in September, an electrical problem shut down one of the rocket’s four engines and resulted in an intentionally explosive end about two minutes after the flight.

Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha missile explodes in a ball of fire in the skies over California after being launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base on September 2, 2021.

Andrew Evers | CNBC

Undeterred, Firefly expects to make a second attempt in early 2022, with reaching orbit and beginning regular flights, which are critical to the company’s goals, stated Firefly COO Lauren Lyons.

“We want to launch 24 missiles in 2024,” said Lyons. “One of the things that will help us get that cadence is to fly our next flight as fast as possible and the next as fast as possible and overcome that learning curve as quickly as possible so we can get into repeatable builds . “

Firefly currently spends about $ 10 million a month, Markusic said, and he wants revenue to solidify “before we go public”. The company has raised more than $ 200 million in venture capital to date.

“I don’t want to use the IPO as just another avenue to finance development,” Markusic told CNBC. “I think there is a chance around this time next year we could talk about a public offer from Firefly.”

SpaceX lands Starship rocket SN15 after take a look at flight

Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched and landed the latest prototype of its Starship rocket on Wednesday’s fifth test flight of the system at high altitude.

The spaceship prototype rocket Serial Number 15 or SN15 launched and flew up to 10 kilometers or about 33,000 feet in altitude. It is constructed of stainless steel and represents the early version of the rocket that Musk unveiled in 2019.

“Spaceship is nominally landing!” Musk tweeted after landing. Nominal is a space industry term used to denote when things go according to plan.

SN15 was the first Starship prototype that SpaceX did not destroy after a test flight at high altitude. While a small fire broke out at the base of the rocket after landing, the fire appeared to be contained a few minutes later.

The company is developing Starship to bring cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars.

Earlier this month NASA has awarded SpaceX nearly $ 3 billion Contract to build a moon variant of Starship to bring astronauts to the surface of the moon for the agency’s Artemis missions. While Musk’s company continues to develop Starship, NASA has stopped SpaceX work on the HLS program thereafter Jeff Bezos’ Blue origin and Read‘Daughter of Dynetics each filed protests against the NASA contract award.

The SN15 flight was similar to what SpaceX has conducted over the past six months with the test flights of the prototypes SN8, SN9, SN10 and SN11. While each of the previous missiles was successfully launched and several development goals were met, all four prototypes were explosively destroyed – SN8 and SN9 on impact during landing attempts. SN10 a few minutes after landingand SN11 shortly before the attempt to land.

The Starship prototypes are about 150 feet tall, or about the size of a 15-story building, and are each powered by three Raptor rocket engines.

The Starship prototype SN15 rocket is on the company’s launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas.


SpaceX noted in a statement on its website that the SN15 has “vehicle enhancements in terms of structure, avionics and software” compared to previous Starship prototypes.

“Specifically, a new, improved avionics suite, an updated fuel architecture in the tail skirt, and a new design and configuration for Raptor engines,” said SpaceX.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which has an inspector at the SpaceX facilities to monitor the test flights, conducted a “breakdown” investigation of the SN11 flight.

Last week, the FAA announced the approval of the next three Starship launches – SN15, SN16, and SN16 – and said it would “verify that SpaceX has implemented corrective actions resulting from the SN11 breakdown investigation”.

The FAA approved multiple launches “because SpaceX makes few changes to the launcher and relies on the FAA-approved method to calculate the risk to the public.”

Inside Astra’s rocket manufacturing unit, as the corporate prepares to go public

Astra VP of Manufacturing Bryson Gentile (left) and CEO Chris Kemp remove a protective cover from a missile fairing half.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Astra missile maker wants to simplify the launch business. The soon-to-be-listed company aims to both reduce manufacturing costs and drastically increase the number of starts on a daily rate.

Astra is preparing to go public by the end of June through a merger with SPAC holiness, in a deal that will bring up to $ 500 million in capital to the company. Meanwhile, Astra is expanding its headquarters in San Francisco Bay as the company prepares for its next launch this summer.

A SPAC, or special purpose vehicle, acquires capital from an IPO and uses the proceeds to buy a private company and bring it public.

CNBC toured Astra’s growing facility earlier this month, which was attended by Chairman and CEO Chris Kemp and Vice President of Manufacturing Bryson Gentile.

Benjamin Lyon, Executive Vice President of Engineering, as well as Senior Vice President of Factory Engineering Pablo Gonzalez and Vice President of Communications Kati Dahm also attended.

The company’s management comes from a variety of backgrounds in space and technology: Kemp from NASA and cloud software provider OpenStack, and Gentile from SpaceX. Meanwhile Lyon came out Apple, Gonzalez out Teslaand Dahm from the electric vehicle manufacturer NOK.

An overview of the location of the Astra headquarters on San Francisco Bay in Alameda, California.

Google Maps

The Astra facility uses the infrastructure left over from the former Air Station Alameda of the US Navy. The company initially started with around 30,000 square meters. It now spans around 250,000 square feet – including all the way to the edge of the bay, where a newly built city ferry terminal connects Alameda with the 10-minute drive from downtown San Francisco.

The main area of ​​the company’s headquarters, approximately 25% of its floor space, provides open space for much of its missile development and assembly.

Astra has also put all of its equipment on wheels, with management emphasizing the flexibility it wants to maintain in expanding its manufacturing capabilities.

The production floor of the Astra headquarters in Alameda, California.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

The short-term goal is to reach orbit, the next hurdle after the last launch that broke the barrier to space in December. The next launch of Astra is planned for this summer, which will also be the first to generate revenue for the company.

Astra’s rocket is 40 feet high and can launch up to 100 kilograms into orbit. So it belongs to the category of small missiles, a category currently run by Rocket Lab.

However, Astra is focused on keeping the price of the rocket as low as possible. It’s priced at just $ 2.5 million per launch versus Rocket Labs Electron’s roughly $ 7 million per launch.

A closer look at half an Astra missile nose cone, also known as a fairing.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

The company emphasized the cost-cutting methods implemented in its approach, with Astra believing that it is possible to achieve a production rate of one rocket per day within a few years. The company’s employees compare their rocket to building a small Cessna airplane.

An example of Astra demonstrating during the tour how to build fairings – the nose cone of the rocket that protects the satellites during launch.

The company said the first cladding was made of composite carbon fiber, which is typical in the aerospace industry because the material is light and stiff. However, the carbon fiber fairing cost $ 250,000, which required a different solution as the company ultimately wants to bring the total cost of its rocket down to less than $ 500,000.

Astra decided to build its second metal fairing, which cost about $ 130,000. However, the company had to go further.

Vice President Gentile explained how the company is now using aluminum tubing to give the cladding its strength, combining that with a dozen petals, which are thin, curved pieces of metal. That reduces the cost of the fairings to $ 33,000.

Astra plans to get under $ 10,000 per disguise by stamping them instead of riveting them together.

Members of the Astra management team gathered from the right around a rocket in production: Vice President of Production Bryson Gentile, SVP of the factory engineer Dr. Pablo Gonzalez, Vice President of Communication Kati Dahm, Founder and CEO Chris Kemp, EPP of the engineer Benjamin Lyon.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

Another long-term hurdle for the company will be to work with regulators to get licenses for launches quickly if it is able to hit a daily rate. Astra’s leadership said they are working very closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to streamline the licensing process, noting that they want a dozen or more spaceports around the world.

Astras Mission Control Center for launches.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

Astra is also optimizing the operational aspect of its launches, reducing the number of people in its mission control to less than 10 and requiring only six people to set up the missile at the physical launch site.

The aim is to reduce the number of people in mission control to just two, effectively a pilot and a co-pilot, by automating most of the processes.

Astra’s outdoor workstation, where pieces of missile ground support equipment are assembled and prepared for launch.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

The missile system, including the strong back that lifts the vehicle vertically for a launch, is packed in a few shipping containers.

First, Astra rolls a strong back out of the container and into the factory. Then an overhead crane drops the missile directly onto the strongback. Finally, the entire system is rolled into a container and then shipped.

Astra has three strong backs in assembly, more will follow.

The thick doors that led to one of Astra’s rocket engine test facilities, which was previously a US Navy engine test facility.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

The former marine facility also has two engine test areas with thick reinforced concrete walls.

The night before the CNBC tour, Astra conducted tests on the top tier of a missile. This made the engine bay a cool place thanks to the sub-zero temperatures of a liquid oxygen tank.

In an Astra test bunker where Senior Manager Andrew Pratt shows a pair of fuel tanks connected to a missile that was tested the night before.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

During a hot fire test, the interior of the chambers reaches 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit when one of Astra’s Dolphin rocket engines is ignited. Astra officials said the company can run up to 10 to 15 first stage tests of a missile in a day, or more than 30 upper stage tests in a day.

Review of the exhaust tunnel of the test bay from Astra.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

Astra will continue to expand its current presence in Alameda, including a lease for a 500-foot pier and plans for an ocean launch platform that can be loaded with a rocket in the bay.

The view behind Asta’s headquarters in Alameda, California overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

Chris Kemp, CEO of Astra, shows part of the space the company plans to use to expand its headquarters.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

Rocket Lab going public through SPAC with Neutron rocket enlargement

Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, stands with his company’s electron rocket.

Missile laboratory

Rocket Lab, the leader among companies that build small rockets to launch satellites, is going public through a SPAC merger that valued the company at more than $ 4 billion at the time of the deal.

The company works with Vector Acquisition, a special-purpose acquisition company. Rocket Lab will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker RKLB when the deal closes, which is expected in the second quarter.

“This milestone accelerates Rocket Lab’s ability to realize the full potential of space through our launch and spacecraft platforms and catalyzes our drive to create a new multi-billion dollar space application business,” said Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab. in a press release.

Vector’s SPAC is currently trading under the ticker VACQ. The SPAC’s shares were up more than 20% in premarket trading from the previous closing price of $ 10.25 per share.

The SPAC deal values ​​Rocket Lab at an enterprise value of $ 4.1 billion. The company expects cash around $ 750 million after the merger is complete. That cash includes up to $ 320 million from Vector Acquisition and $ 470 million PIPE Round led by Vector Capital, BlackRock and Neuberger Berman, among others.

PIPE, or private investment in public equity, enables private investors to buy public shares at below market prices. A SPAC is a special-purpose acquisition company where investors essentially give a company a blank check for the purpose of unspecified acquisitions of other companies.

Beck will continue to lead Rocket Lab as CEO. Alex Slusky, Vector Capital’s Chief Investment Officer, will join the company’s board of directors, alongside Sven Strohband from Khosla Ventures, David Cowan from Bessemer Venture Partner, Matt Ocko from DCVC and independent director Mike Griffin.

In particular, the Rocket Lab announcement comes on the same day as The satellite data company Spire Global announced that it will also merge with a SPAC go public. Both Rocket Lab and Spire Global count Bessemer as investors, with partners Cowan and Tess Hatch being represented on the respective boards of the companies.

Unveiling of the larger neutron rocket

Rocket Lab also revealed plans for a second, larger rocket called the Neutron to lift even more payloads than the current Electron rocket. The company has so far launched 97 satellites on 18 electron missions.

The electron rockets cost about $ 7 million per launch, are about 60 feet high, and can lift up to 300 kilograms into orbit.

Neutron, which is expected to launch for the first time in 2024, will have a height of 30 meters and be able to carry up to 8,000 kilograms into low-earth orbit, the company said. Rocket Lab did not disclose how much Neutron is expected to cost per launch, and noted that the company will need to build a new launchpad at NASA’s Wallops facility in Virginia on initial launch.

Rocket Lab said Neutron will have a reusable first stage, also known as a booster, that will “land on an ocean platform”. The company also determined that Neutron will be able to take astronauts to the International Space Station, adding another role to the company’s repertoire.

Building on pole position

Rocket Lab’s electron rocket launches on July 4, 2020.

Missile laboratory

Rocket Lab was founded by Beck in New Zealand in 2006 and is based in Long Beach, California and employs 530 people. The company is starting from a private complex on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula and has built a launchpad for electron launches at Wallops.

Rocket Lab has a strong position in the launch market alongside SpaceX. Currently, the two leading companies regularly launch privately developed rockets into orbit.

However, the starting market, which is generally divided into the three sections for small, medium and heavy lifts, is growing steadily. Rocket Lab’s Electron is facing increasing competition from the rockets built by such as Astra and Virgin Orbit, while Neutron will face the medium-lift rockets being developed by Firefly Aerospace, ABL Space, Relativity space and more.

Beck’s company has recently tested a method of recovering their electron amplifiers – the most expensive part of the rocket – to reuse it SpaceX has made a routine. Unlike SpaceX, given the small size of its rockets, Rocket Lab tested a new approach: the company uses the atmosphere to slow the rocket, then parachutes and uses a helicopter to pluck the booster from the sky.

In addition to Electron, the company also did last year expanded his business to include spacecraft that mate with his rockets. Called photonRocket Lab is building the spaceship as a A new versatile platform for companies and organizations to test and operate technologies in space.

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Watch SpaceX try to launch and land Starship prototype rocket SN9

[This livestream has ended. A replay is available above.]

UPDATE: SpaceX’s latest prototype launched successfully, but like its previous test flight, the rocket exploded on impact during an attempted landing. Read more here.

SpaceX is preparing to launch the latest prototype of its next-generation Starship rocket in the system’s second high-altitude test on Tuesday.

The spaceship prototype Serial Number 9 or SN9 flies up to 10 kilometers or approximately 32,800 feet in altitude. The flight will be similar to the SpaceX conducted in Decemberwhen it took off the prototype SN8 on the highest and longest flight to date. The SN8 flight met several development goals, including testing the system’s aerodynamics and performing a flip to orientate yourself for landing. However, the prototype exploded on impact because the missile could not slow down enough.

SN9 is made of stainless steel, with the prototypes representing the early versions of the rocket CEO Elon Musk unveiled last year. The company is developing Starship with the aim of bringing cargo and up to 100 people simultaneously on missions to the moon and Mars.

As with SN8, the goal of the SN9 flight is not necessarily to reach maximum altitude, but rather to test several important parts of the spacecraft system. The Starship prototype stands about 150 feet tall, or about the size of a 15-story building, and is powered by three Raptor rocket engines. SpaceX fires all three engines to take off, then shuts them down one by one as they approach the intended altitude.

SN9’s attempt to launch was delayed for about a week as SpaceX worked to get permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to launch. His SN8 flight violated the company’s existing Starship license. The Verge reported first and the FAA later confirmed when the federal aerospace agency rejected a SpaceX exemption application to exceed the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety regulations, the FAA said in a statement.

SpaceX had to investigate its non-compliance and force Musk’s company to suspend launch until the investigation was completed and the FAA signed.

“The FAA determined late Monday (Feb. 1) that SpaceX complies with all safety and related federal regulations and is authorized to conduct SN9 operations under its launch license,” the FAA said.

Key tests for the SN9 flight include turning off the engines one at a time, transferring propellant from the main tanks to the header, flipping it over for the “belly flop” reentry maneuver, and controlling the descent through the air with the missile’s four flaps.

SpaceX stressed that “the dynamic development test schedule” may result in the attempt to launch being delayed, as was the case with previous Starship launches.

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Photo voltaic flare-style rocket thruster ‘may ship astronauts to outer photo voltaic system’

PPPL physicist Fatima Ebrahimi in front of an artist’s impression of the fusion rocket (Photo credit: Elle Starkman (PPPL Office of Communications) and ITER)

A new type of rocket engine, mimicking the mechanism behind solar flares, could send people to Mars and beyond, one researcher has claimed.

Fatima Ebrahimi, a senior research physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in New Jersey, suggested the concept. The engine would apply magnetic fields to cause plasma particles to shoot out of the rear of the rocket and propel it forward. Current space-proven plasma thrusters use electrical fields to propel the particles.

The new concept would accelerate the particles through magnetic reconnection – a process found throughout the universe, including the surface of the sun – in which magnetic field lines converge, suddenly separate, and then join again, creating a lot of energy. Reconnection is also done within donut-shaped tokamak fusion devices.

“I’ve been cooking this concept for a while,” said Ebrahimi, the author of a paper that included the idea in the Journal of Plasma Physics. “I got the idea in 2017 while sitting on a deck pondering the similarities between a car’s exhaust and the high-speed exhaust particles produced by PPPL’s ​​National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX). During its operation, this tokamak generates magnetic bubbles called plasmoids, which move at a speed of about 20 kilometers per second, which seemed to me very much like thrust. “

Current plasma thrusters, which use electric fields to propel the particles, can only generate a low specific impulse. However, computer simulations showed that the new plasma engine concept can generate exhaust gases at speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second, ten times faster than other engines.

That faster speed at the beginning of a spacecraft’s journey could bring the outer planets within reach of astronauts, Ebrahimi said.

“Long-distance travel takes months or years because the specific momentum of chemical rocket engines is very low, so it takes a while for the vehicle to be up to date,” she said. “But if we make engines based on magnetic reconnection, we could potentially complete long-range missions in less time.”

There are three main differences between Ebrahimi’s engine concept and other devices. The first is that changing the strength of the magnetic fields can increase or decrease the amount of thrust. Second, the new thruster creates motion by ejecting both plasma particles and plasmoids, adding power to the engine. The third difference is that, unlike electric field thrusters, the magnetic fields in Ebrahimi’s concept allow the plasma to be made up of either heavy or light atoms.

“While other thrusters require heavy gas made from atoms like xenon, you can use any type of gas you want in this concept,” she said. In some cases, scientists may prefer light gas because the smaller atoms can move faster.

Ebrahimi emphasized that her engine concept resulted directly from her research into fusion energy. “This work was inspired by previous fusion work and this is the first time plasmoids and reconnections have been proposed for space propulsion,” she said. “The next step is building a prototype.”

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