Startup Orion Span plans to launch its “Aurora Station” space hotel in late 2021 and begin accommodating guests by 2022. One caveat: a 12-day stay aboard Aurora Station will cost you at least $9.5 million. Still, compared to trips taken by other orbital tourists who have paid anywhere between $20 million – $40 million each time, this is still relatively affordable to the wealthy. (These private missions were brokered by the Virginia-based company Space Adventures and employed Russian Soyuz spacecraft and rockets.) “We are launching the first-ever affordable luxury space hotel,” said Orion Span founder and CEO Frank Bunger. Read more for another video and additional information.
Photo credit: Daily Star
If you have arachnophobia, then it may not be the best time to visit Brazil right now, as there is at least one area where it seemingly is raining spiders. Residents living in the inland state of Minas Gerais reported seeing thousands of these eight-legged creatures in the sky, but in actuality, they were just crawling on a giant sticky web they created to capture prey. João Pedro Martinelli Fonseca, a 14-year-old who witnessed the bizarre phenomenon while visiting family in the area, said he was “stunned and scared” by the sight, particularly when at least one spider fell to the ground. Read more to watch the video he filmed.
For the first time ever in the Space Needle’s history, the landmark’s 25th annual New Year’s Eve celebration will put on a 30-minute musically-choreographed light show that begins at 10 pm (PST) on Monday, December 31. There has been over $1-million of cutting edge lighting equipment installed throughout the structure designed to emit brilliant colors and moving beams of light across the tower as well as the Seattle night sky, creating a dramatically enhanced New Year’s Eve spectacle. This iconic landmark has been renowned for producing one of the best structure-launched fireworks displays in the world, and has recently added more than 176 tons of glass to its structure, including The Loupe, the world’s first and only revolving glass floor. Read more for two more videos and additional information.
No, this isn’t an exclusive opportunity for a billionaire or lottery winner, but rather a real Studio Ghibli theme park that’s set to open in 2022, built on the Aichi Commemorative Park in Nagakute City, Japan. The attractions will be based on popular animated movies like ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ and ‘Spirited Away,’ while the main gate resembles the buildings from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. Currently, a basic plan of the park has been released, showcasing a few of the rides, attractions, and forest trails. It will be themed after the iconic, European-style brick buildings seen in many Ghibli movies, as well as include statues of boars, spiders, and other creatures. The local government says that the park will be built at the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park in Nagakute city. Read more for a video, additional pictures and information.
Disney has just released a behind-the-scenes video for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which is set to open in 2019 at both Disneyland (summer) in California and at Disney World (fall) in Florida. This sneak peak gives us a preview of two of its main attractions: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. “It will be jaw-dropping and incredibly emotional to walk into the land for the first time, to actually be standing there amongst the buildings, amongst the ships and have this feeling that it is all real, that it has been brought to life, and it is right there in front of you. It’s overwhelming,” said Carrie Beck, vice president of Lucasfilm Story Group. Read more for pre-alpha Millennium Falcon ride footage and additional information.
Photo credit: The Drive
You’ve probably seen, or at least heard of, the ICON A5, but it’s currently the closest thing to a flying car that has actually hit the roads, waters, and skies. This high-wing, flying boat-type amphibious monoplane boasts a carbon fiber airframe and retractable undercarriage with seating for two people in an enclosed 46-inch-wide cockpit. It’s powered by a single 100 hp Rotax 912 iS engine driving a three-bladed pusher propeller, while Dornier-style sponsons provide hydrodynamic stability and also house the retracted main landing gear. Read more for another video, additional pictures and information.
If you’ve never heard of Hot Wheels, it’s basically a brand of 1:64, 1:43, 1:18 and 1:50 scale die-cast toy cars introduced by toy maker Mattel in 1968. The original Hot Wheels were made by Elliot Handler, and conceived to be more like “hot rod” cars, as compared to Matchbox cars which were more like small-scale models of production cars. Mattel Inc. wanted to enter the record books, so they built the longest Hot Wheels track, measuring a massive 560.30 m (1,838 ft 3.05 in) in length – making it longer than the height of New York’s Empire State Building. Read more for various geeky Guinness World Records you probably never knew existed.
Earthrise refers to a photograph of Earth and a part of the Moon’s surface captured from lunar orbit by astronaut Bill Anders on December 24, 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. It’s “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken,” claimed nature photographer Galen Rowell. To be more specific, it was photographed with a highly modified, electric-drive equipped Hasselblad 500 EL camera that had a simple sighting ring rather than the standard reflex viewfinder and was loaded with a 70 mm film magazine containing custom Kodak Ektachrome film. In 1969, the USPS issued a stamp (Scott# 1371) commemorating the Apollo 8 flight around the Moon featuring the Earthrise photograph, and the words, “In the beginning God…”, recalling the Apollo 8 Genesis reading. Read more for additional interesting images that you probably haven’t seen before.
Unlike previous single-location installments, Ken Block’s Gymkhana TEN takes viewers on an epic journey to five very unique and different locations in several vehicles. The hooning begins in Luleå, Sweden, with Block piloting the current 2018 Ford Fiesta WRC on snow and ice, and then jumps to Detroit, Michigan, where he decimates the tires of a Ford Mustang RTR Hoonicorn V2 with 1,400 horsepower on the streets of the Motor City. From there, you’re transported to Guanajuato, Mexico in his Ford Focus RS RX rallycross car. Read more for a behind-the-scenes video and additional information.
Anthony Levandowski, a former Google and Uber engineer, has completed what he claims is the first US coast-to-coast drive completed entirely by self-driving technology. The 3,099 mile journey between San Francisco and New York was made in October, with him only taking charge of his vehicle to refuel and stop overnight. “I’ve admittedly grown frustrated – and at times impatient – with the industry’s inability to deliver on its promises,” said Levandowski. Read more for a time-lapse video of his journey and additional information.