Photo courtesy of NASA

Houston company lands exclusive spacesuit deal for NASA's mission to moon

go for launch

When astronauts make a historic return to the surface of the moon, presumably 2025 or 2026, they’ll don Houston-crafted, life-protecting suits.

Houston-based Axiom Space has landed the rights to create spacesuits and supporting systems for NASA’s Artemis III mission, which will see humans back on our satellite for the first time since the legendary Apollo missions more than 50 years ago.

This award is the first for a competitive spacesuits contract, NASA notes in a press release. NASA tapped Axiom Space for a task order boasting a base value of $228.5 million. As previously reported, Axiom Space was one of two companies NASA pegged for spacesuit and supporting system development.

These new suits are pivotal, as plans for NASA’s Artemis lunar program call for not just lunar orbit, but trips to the lunar south pole and even a crewed outpost on the moon.

Axiom Space will be responsible for the design, development, qualification, certification, and production of its spacesuits and support equipment. Spacesuits will be tested for moonwalks and spacewalks.

This spacesuit contract, which will advance spacewalking capabilities in low-Earth orbit and on the Moon, is managed by the Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program (EHP) at Johnson Space Center.

“NASA is proud to partner with commercial industry on this historic mission that will kickstart the United States building a lasting presence on the surface of the Moon,” said Lara Kearney, manager of NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility program. “What we learn on Artemis III and future missions on and around the Moon will pave the way for missions to Mars. Spacesuits enable us to literally take that next step.”

The first lunar mission since 1972, Artemis will be historic in myriad ways, none of least for seeing the first woman and the first person of color on the moon, as well as a testing ground for eventual Mars missions.

Artemis I is set to launch on September 19, barring any delays.

Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Houston tops Texas as No. 1 city for growth in tech jobs, says new report

Plugged in

While a certain city tends to draw all the buzz as the top Texas tech hub — especially since Elon Musk moved there — Houston has just emerged as No. 1 in the Lone Star State regarding tech jobs.

A new report from Dice, an online platform for tech professionals, shows Houston No. 5 among major U.S. cities for the growth of tech job postings from the first half of 2021 to the first half of 2022.

Houston, says the Dice report, registered an increase of 83 percent — making it tops in Texas.

Elsewhere in Texas, San Antonio No. 6 among major U.S. cities (and No. 2 in Texas) with an increase of 80 percent. Dallas appeared at No. 15 on the list, recording a 58 percent growth rate for tech job postings. Surprisingly, Austin failed to make the top 25 in this category.

Overall, Orlando, Florida topped the list, boasting a 111 percent growth rate for tech job postings.

This news is hardly surprising for Houston. In March, as CultureMap reported, Houston landed at No. 2 on Blinds list of the best-paying Texas cities for software engineers. Here, the average annual salary is $111,625, and the average annual compensation is $137,987.

“Long before Austin became a magnet for jobs, there was Houston. Long a hub for the aerospace, defense, and energy industries, the aptly named Space City has been a go-to place for a job in tech,” Blind noted.

In October 2021, as CultureMap and sister site InnovationMap reported, employers in the Houston area posted openings for 14,714 tech jobs in the third quarter of 2021, which was up 44 percent from the same period last year. Through the first nine months of this 2021, Houston-area employers listed nearly 39,000 openings for tech positions.

University of Houston chips in with upcoming moon mission with special Coog-crafted cargo

cosmic coogs

The University of Houston is are playing a role in the latest mission to the moon. The Artemis I mission Orion spacecraft will carry dozens of tiny microchips made at UH on Saturday, September 3.

The Coog-crafted microchips were created to honor the thousands of people who made the Artemis mission possible, according to the school and NASA. Artemis I is set to launch Saturday, after a failed August 29 attempt due to an engine problem.

Long Chang, a research associate professor in the Cullen College of Engineering and expert at the UH nanofabrication facility, answered the call when NASA was looking for a way to honor the thousands of people contributing to the Artemis I mission.

"NASA wanted microchips with everyone's name on them. But I had some creative liberties in the design because they didn't really know what we were capable of," Chang said. "I figured out how to do this so quickly that I decided to position the names so when you see it, it looks like the NASA logo, the Artemis logo, and the European Space Agency logo. Each logo is made of those 30,000 names."

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Continue reading this story, with accompanying video, on our news partner ABC13.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'Ridiculously' big Houston freeways drive comedian crazy in viral TikTok video

"It's got spurs!'

Try as we might to explain to Newstonians how ridiculously large the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land region is (our fave: it’s literally larger than the state of New Jersey in square miles), few truly understand until they navigate our highways and freeways.

Comedian/actor/filmmaker Kevin Fredericks, known professionally as KevOnStage, has taken to social media to announce what we already know: Houston is ridiculously big.

In a TikTok video boasting more than 55,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments, Kev (who lives in equally sprawling Los Angeles) hilariously sums up our freeway system with declarations like, “Houston has interstates. Four of them!”

He goes: “It’s got toll roads, it’s got loops, it’s got spuuuuurs!”



Perhaps our favorite:

"Houston is so big….that its freeways have a Wikipedia page. Look. At. This!"

Kev then marvels at our farm to market roads: “That means you live on a farm, this road take you to the market!”

He just can’t stop on the Wikipedia page, as he bellows: “It’s got: Planned. Future. Freeways! More. Freeways!”

Sheesh, Kev, no need to shout.

Scratch that: Kev should absolutely shout (as many of us do daily) when his rant turns to our traffic and construction. “It’s too much. If you wanna drive across Houston, you might as fly to Dallas — it’s the same amount of time.”

We’re having trouble spotting any lies told here. Bravo, Kev. We can’t wait for your next rant when you navigate the ongoing and always fun 610/69 construction closures.

Homey new art installation moves into Discovery Green this fall

Welcome Home

Remember the playful, larger-than-life spinning tops that took over Discovery Green in 2015? The team behind that public art installation is back with another unique, interactive exhibit.

Called Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0, it features 16 glowing, house-like play structures on the Sarofim Lawn that create a space for Houstonians to sit, swing, relax, and come together as a community.

The installation from Mexican designers Esrawe + Cadena is inspired by the mercados of Latin America — lively street markets where human connections are made every day.

The goal is for visitors to make new friends, try new activities, dance to music, and enjoy the city’s diverse cultural and art experiences for the duration of the exhibit, which runs October 8-November 14, 2022.

But that's not all. To help bring Houstonians together, there will be public art programming inspired by the installation and sponsored by Houston Association of Realtors, starting with a big opening night celebration.

On October 8 from 6-10 pm, get ready for:

  • Two evening performances of Lifted by Mimbre, an all-woman acrobatic dance group from the United Kingdom on their first U.S. tour.
  • Houston artist Ange Hillz live-painting the newest President's Mural: Discovery Green from A to Z. Hillz will paint accompanied by DJ Monstaa and pianist DJ Pee Wee from The Too Laid Back Band. The painting will be on view through January 29, 2023.

"During the past two years, many Houstonians have felt isolated in their homes and have missed the opportunity to be part of a community," says Jennifer Wauhob, chair of the Houston Association of Realtors, which is sponsoring the public art programming. "Our 49,000 Realtors know how important community connection is and Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 creates a space where strangers can become friends in the comfort of an exhibit that feels like home."

Here's what else you can enjoy throughout the installation's six-week run:

  • Listen to a “Houston Strong” playlist courtesy of ROCO while enjoying the Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 art installation.
  • Catch two more performances of Lifted on October 9 at noon and 2:30 pm.
  • Watch the Houston Pride Band’s SaxWorx and Brass Tax quartet perform on October 14 from 7-9 pm.
  • Enjoy traditional Indonesian music from Gamelan of the New Moon performed live on October 21 from 7-9 pm.

And especially for children:

  • On Saturday, October 8, from 1:30-3 pm, kids can create a mini casa using toothpicks and gumdrops with the help of Girlstart STEM.
  • On Saturday, October 15, from 1:30-3 pm, kids can sing and dance along with Encanto characters Isabela, Mirabel, and Dolores.
  • On Saturday, October 29 from 1:30-3 pm, they can enjoy cultural crafts created by exhibitors visiting from different parts of Mexico.

Discovery Green is a 12-acre park that features sprawling lawns, a one-acre lake, an interactive fountain, a playground, public art installations, gardens, and an allée of century-old live oaks. Since opening in April 2008, the park has welcomed more than 20 million visitors.

As Discovery Green prepares to celebrate its 15th birthday party, Houstonians are invited to “discover themselves” at the park with free concerts, entertainment, relaxation, and more. More info at www.discoverygreen.com.

Photo courtesy of Creos

Esrawe + Cadena's Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 is on display October 8-November 14, 2022.

Conroe-born country star Parker McCollum headlines RodeoHouston 2023 Opening Day celebrations

parker saddles up for rodeo

A familiar face will headline the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s wildly popular Opening Day performance. Conroe native and country star Parker McCollum will take the NRG Stadium stage on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the rodeo announced.

Individual tickets for McCollum’s Opening Days show start at $25, plus a $4 convenience fee and are on sale at 10 am on Thursday, October 6 via rodeohouston.com. As always, an Online Waiting Room will open at 9:30 am; customers who join the Waiting Room from 9:30 to 9:59 am will be randomly selected to purchase tickets at 10 am. (A place in the Waiting Room does not guarantee tickets.) Customers can purchase a maximum of eight tickets.

McCollum, who boasts more than 3.3 million followers on Spotify with favorites such as “Pretty Heart,” “To Be Loved by You,” and “Hell of a Year,” has won fans with his mix of Americana and country, infused with a bit of blues, soul, and folk rock. Currently touring with country crooner Thomas Rhett, McCollum is a natural choice to open the 2023 RodeoHouston concert series, as the singer-songwriter drew a crowd of 73,243 at last year’s rodeo, marking the fourth-highest paid rodeo/concert attendance in 2022.

Fittingly, custom-designed caps commemorating Opening Day and McCollum’s return to RodeoHouston will be available for purchase online.

New for 2023, a special Opening Day celebration will feature a performance by a local band on the Stars Over Texas Stage before McCollum’s show. Special giveaways will include 10,000 custom-made Howdy bobbleheads for early arrivers that morning (starting at 10 am). Visitors can expect a host of activities including an Opening Day Parade at NRG Park.

As for the highly anticipated 2023 RodeoHouston entertainer will be announced at a later date, plus more Opening Day details, per the rodeo.

“Everyone looks forward to the upcoming Rodeo season all year long, and we hope all Rodeo fans will circle Opening Day on their 2023 calendars, as this will be a day you won’t want to miss,” Chris Boleman, rodeo president and CEO, noted in a statement. “February 28 will truly be a Houston-themed celebration, as we kick off the 2023 Rodeo season with Houston’s-own country music star Parker McCollum closing out the day with another unforgettable RodeoHouston performance.”

The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and all RodeoHouston performances are scheduled for February 28–March 19, 2023 at NRG Park.