Blue Origin to Open New Central California Test Site

Alan Boyle, GeekWire

GeekWire contributing editor Alan Boyle is an award-winning science writer and veteran space reporter. Formerly of NBCNews.com, he is the author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference." Follow him via CosmicLog.com, on Twitter @b0yle, and on Facebook and MeWe.

Blue Origin to Open New Central California Test Site

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture is partnering with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop a new test facility at Kern County's Edwards Air Force Base for Blue Origin's BE-7 rocket engine.

The hydrogen-fueled BE-7 is destined to power Blue Origin's Blue Moon lunar lander, which NASA is considering for crewed missions to the moon as early as 2024. Last month, the two partners signed a 15-year agreement that calls for Blue Origin to fund capital improvements at AFRL's rocket lab at Edwards. The Air Force base has a storied history as the place where flight tests and engine testing set the stage for the Space Race and the space shuttle era.


Blue Origin, which is headquartered in Kent, Washington, will add liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant capabilities and make other facility upgrades at the Kern County site. "Repurposing the infrastructure at the 1-42 test site enables us to accelerate development of the BE-7 engine for our Blue Moon lunar lander," Eric Blumer, senior director for the BE-7 engine program, said Monday in a news release. Blue Origin recently established a rocket engine development office in Los Angeles, and the company's careers website lists 10 L.A.-based jobs.

The industry team behind the Blue Moon landing system — which includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper as well as Blue Origin — is waiting to hear from NASA whether it will be selected for a development contract. That development work could lead to the system being used for NASA's Artemis moon program, but there are other companies in the commercial lunar lander competition — including Boeing, a team led by Dynetics and Sierra Nevada Corp., and probably SpaceX as well.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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