News Roundup: Another Successful Test Launch For Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ Spaceflight Company

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartJuly 19, 2018 12:59 pm

Private aerospace company Blue Origin completed a successful launch of its New Shepard rocket yesterday in West Texas.

It’s the rocket’s second launch of the year and the ninth flight overall for the company, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The New Shepard, named after American astronaut Alan Shepard, is designed to eventually take commercial passengers into suborbital flight.

Yesterday’s mission was to test the crew capsule escape motor at around 400,000 feet, its highest altitude yet. The successful test shows that the abort mechanism, there in case on an emergency, is able to work at low, middle and high altitudes.

As the capsule touched back down after the test, Blue Origin announcer Ariane Cornell hailed the launch as a success, calling it “picture perfect.”

The company says piloted test flights are expected to begin later this year, but no date has been set.

So far, crew capsules have been manned by a test dummy called “Mannequin Skywalker.”

Texas Public Radio’s Ryan Poppe reports that Texas pollinators, like the honeybee and monarch butterfly, have seen declining populations over the past decades. Yesterday, lawmakers in the Texas House of Representatives discussed what can be done to boost their numbers.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, honeybees and other agricultural pollinators contribute an estimated $25 billion a year to the U.S. economy. But those pollinators are under threat in Texas.

Ben Hutchins, an invertebrate biologist with Parks and Wildlife, told a joint committee of the House Committees on Agriculture and Livestock and Culture, Recreation and Tourism that Texas’ honeybee and monarch butterfly populations have declined for several decades “due to a number of reasons” including “habitat loss, as natural lands are replaced by urban and suburban environments.”

Clint Walker, owner of the Walker Honey Farm and a member of the Texas Beekeepers Association, says one way the legislature could reverse that trend is to attract more urban beekeepers to Texas by increasing the number of state agricultural exemptions on the property taxes.

“Urban beekeepers do quite well,” Walker said. “They don’t suffer droughts.”

Walker added that he would also like to see legislation that could balance the needs of farmers who use pesticides and beekeepers who rely on flowering plants killed by these pesticides.

Triple digit temperatures across much of the state have Texans reaching into the freezer for cool treats – but check your ice cream before digging in.

H-E-B is issuing a voluntary recall for two variety packs of its in-house Creamy Creations ice cream brand. According to the grocery chain, pieces of broken metal were found in processing equipment.

Two variety packs are included in the recall: chocolate/vanilla 12 packs and orange/lime sorbet 12 packs.

The company says that the products were not distributed to stores in Houston and Mexico.