lunar lander

‘Fallout Shelter’ joins Tesla arcade in latest software update

Nearly a year ago, Todd Howard, the director of Bethesda Games, said that the company’s “Fallout Shelter” game would be coming to Tesla displays. It arrived, via the 2020.20 software update, this week, which was first noted at driver’s platform Teslascope.

Fallout Shelter is the latest — and one of the more modern games — to join Tesla’s Arcade, an in-car feature that lets drivers play video games while the vehicle is parked. It joins 2048, Atari’s Super Breakout, Cuphead, Stardew Valley, Missile Command, Asteroids, Lunar Lander and Centipede. The arcade also includes a newly improved (meaning more difficult) backgammon game as well as chess.

The 2020.20 software update that adds the game, along with a few other improvements, hasn’t reached all Tesla vehicles yet, including the Model 3 in this reporter’s driveway (that vehicle has the prior 2020.16.2.1 update, which includes improvements to backgammon and a redesigned Tesla Toybox).

However, YouTube channel host JuliansRandomProject was one of the lucky few who did receive it and released a video that provides a look at Fallout and how it works in the vehicle. Roadshow also discovered and shared the JuliansRandomProject video, which is embedded below.

Fallout Shelter is just one of the newer features in the software update. Some functionality was added to the steering wheel so owners can use the toggle controls to play, pause and skip video playback in Theater Mode, the feature that lets owners stream Netflix and other video (while in park).

Tesla also improved Trax, which lets you record songs. Trax now includes a piano roll view that allows you to edit and fine tune notes in a track.

CMU’s tiny robot rover passes NASA design review ahead of 2021 trip to the Moon

Carnegie Mellon University is one step closer to operating its robotic rover on the surface of the Moon: The school’s diminutive bot has passed a crucial NASA design review, performed by the agency in collaboration with Astrobotic, whose Peregrine lunar lander will be providing the ride for the robot down to the surface of the Moon on a mission set for 2021.

The positive result from the design review did include a few design tweaks that the team will now implement as it moves from prototype to flight-ready rover, a process that’s designed to take place this summer. That version will stress tested for conditions during the launch and flight to Moon, to ensure its own safety, and the safety of other payloads on board the Peregrine lander, which is taking a number of experiments to the lunar surface on behalf of NASA.

CMU’s rover, dubbed Iris, weighs roughly four pounds, and it’s about the size of a large toaster. It’ll get the distinction of becoming the first U.S. robotic rover to explore the surface of the Moon, however, should it make its flight target. Eventually, it could also pave the way for a line of “CubeRovers,” or tiny, relatively inexpensive rovers that could contribute to a range of scientific investigations and endeavors, both public and private, without breaking the bank.

Iris has four wheels, but also two video cameras, which represent the main sensor loadout for the little robot. Camera miniaturization means that it’s a lot easier to collect quality image and video data from even small robot exploratory platforms, which is great news for companies like Astrobotic that hope to kickstart a whole new market of private deep space exploration using lightweight, affordable lander platforms like Peregrine.

SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics will build human lunar landers for NASA’s next trip back to the Moon

NASA has selected the companies that will provide them with the human landing system for their Artemis Moon missions, including a lander vehicle which will carry astronauts from space to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics were picked from a larger field of competitors to develop and build human landing systems (HLS) to carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon, a goal which NASA still hopes to accomplish by 2024.

SpaceX’s Starship was selected as a lander that will launch using the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket. Starship is the spacecraft that SpaceX currently has in development, which is designed as a fully reusable spacecraft for missions to orbit, to the Moon and to Mars . Super Heavy is also currently in development, and will act as a fully reusable booster that’s capable of propelling the large mass of Starship to orbit with a full payload. Starship as a lander choice is an interesting one, because it’s a very different model and design from landers that have made the trip previously.

Blue Origin’s Blue Moon is more traditionally designed, as far as dedicated landers go, and involves a multipart descent and ascent system that’s less integrated than Starship. At last year’s International Astronautical Congress, Jeff Bezos presented a more detailed look at Blue Origin’s bid for the job, along with his partners and what roles they’ll play. That “national team” sees Lockheed Martin building the ‘ascent element’ part of the launch system, which will provide liftoff for their HLS, while Northrop Grumman will provide the system for transferring the lander craft from the launch vehicle to its descent position, and then Blue Origin is building the lander and the descent system for actually bringing it down to the Moon’s surface. Draper is providing avionics and descent guidance.

The companies vying for this contract included Blue Origin, with Jeff Bezos’ company taking the lead for its collaborative industry-spanning team; Boeing, which is one of NASA’s providers for its Commercial Crew program; SpaceX, which developed the other vehicle for Commercial Crew, and is targeting its first crewed flight for late May; and other smaller companies including Sierra Nevada Corportation, which has been developing a reusable space plane for use in various missions including space station resupply, and Dynetics, which was a surprise winner in the race.

The award here reflects NASA’s stated goal to have at least two systems in parallel development from multiple providers, which offers redundancy in case of any major setbacks, and which also means that the agency will theoretically have at least two human landing systems to choose from going forward. The purpose of Artemis is to not only return humans to the lunar surface, but help NASA establish a permanent deep space presence for human exploration, including to Mars and potentially beyond.