Solar Electric Propulsion, Magic Leap, and the New $20 | Vol. 3 / No. 26

Solar Electric Propulsion | Photo: NASA 

The Next Ion Drive

NASA has awarded rocket engine manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne (makers of the RS-68, the engines for the first stage of the Delta IV, and the J-2X, an engine in development for use in the future Space Launch System) a $67 million, 36-month contract to design and manufacture the next generation electric propulsion system for the upcoming Asteroid Redirect Mission. Part of NASA’s Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) program, the thruster will improve upon the design used in the Ceres-orbiting Dawn spacecraft, turning solar power into thrust by using electricity to accelerate tiny amount of fuel to very high speeds. In theory, the technology will also be a step toward a human mission to Mars — someday. Check out NASA for more.

A Magic Leap Forward

This week Wired published the most detailed piece of writing yet on Magic Leap, a highly secretive company working on AR or MR technology — Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality — as opposed to VR. Like Microsoft’s Hololens in principle, Magic Leap’s product (whatever it looks like, whatever it’ll be called, whenever it’ll be done) will create real-seeming artificial things in your field of vision. The technology involves the use of a mysterious clear glass-like chip (not a lens, they say, don’t call it a lens) that they’re calling a “photonic lightfield chip.” The company’s founder, Rony Abovitz, says it has microstructures in it that allow it to create images that trick your brain into thinking they’re real objects in real space. That’s about all we know so far, save that they’re already working on content deals with major networks, and that they aren’t afraid to wait in order to bring their ideas to perfection before releasing them to the world. So for now we’ll just read the piece in Wired and wait.

A Little Closer to Equality

Harriet Tubman bust | Photo: Maryland GovPics, CC BY 2.0
Harriet Tubman bust | Photo: Maryland GovPics, CC BY 2.0

After more than 100 years, we cannot delay, so the next bill to be redesigned must include women, who for too long have been absent from our currency.” That quote is from a letter released this week by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, announcing, among other things, that Harriet Tubman’s portrait will grace the front of the next design of the $20 bill. While it’s not an Equal Rights Amendment or a guarantee of parental leave or federally-funded childcare, the US has announced that it’ll be moving in the right direction in one sense: whose images are on the money. In 2020, to align with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution (that’d be the one granting women the right to vote) new $5, $10, and $20 bill designs will be released, depicting not only Tubman on the $20, but also civil rights scenes on the back of the $5, and scenes from the suffrage movement on the back of the $10. It’s a largely symbolic move in a country that seems to be actively trying to take away women’s agency (especially regarding their health) but it’s better than a kick in the teeth (or a $25 bill). You can read more at


We had, as usual, five other stories this week that you can (and should!) check out:

If you haven’t read them, you should check them out!

Best of the Rest

Other things happened this week. Here’s some of that:

That’s all for this week. Remember, I only get paid in my own (and your) enthusiasm, so please like This Week In Tomorrow on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @TWITomorrow, and tell your friends about the site!

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