Reaches New Heights in
Commercial Space Flight
Besides lettuce, pickles, onions and cheese, technology can now be added to one of America’s favorite food pastimes , hamburgers.
Last week, San Diego’s Titan Corp.’s wholly owned subsidiary, SureBeam Corp., and Minnesota-based Huisken Meats introduced Huisken Beef Patties, the first food product in America to be electronically pasteurized with Titan’s SureBeam technology. The hamburgers are now available in leading supermarkets in Minneapolis.
The roll-out follows President Bill Clinton’s recent mandate for regular listeria testing of hot dogs, luncheon meats and other prepared meats.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, food-borne diseases sicken 76 million Americans and kill more than 5,000 people annually.
While food irradiation is said to rid food of such diseases, some still fear the technology.
In March, Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C.- based public interest group, called on consumers not to buy packaged meat from Wal-Mart once the discounted retail chain began test-marketing irradiated meat.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved irradiation of red meat in 1997. Irradiation uses Cobalt 60, a radioactive isotope, to bombard food with electromagnetic gamma rays. The technology has been controversial due to its use of radioactive materials.
Titan’s SureBeam technology, which had its genesis in the Star Wars missile defense program 16 years ago, does not use radioactive materials.
The SureBeam system, which uses electricity as its energy source, kills harmful bacteria instantly and extends the food’s shelf life, without changing its taste or texture.
“Today’s introduction of the first electronically pasteurized meat products marks the beginning of a new era in providing consumers with the highest quality, safest and most wholesome foods available,” said Gene Ray, Titan’s chairman, president and CEO.
Do you want fries with that?
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Space Talk: Jim Benson believes his company, SpaceDev, Inc., is putting the “Pow” in Poway.
Dubbed as the first commercial space exploration and development company, SpaceDev sells rides for scientific instruments to governments and companies to transport their instruments and experiments through deep space to a near-Earth asteroid. SpaceDev intends to sell the data acquired by its instruments as commercial products.
The company, barely 3 years old, reported a small net operating profit for the first three months ended March 31. SpaceDev, which had net sales of $1 million for the three months ended March 31, had a net operating profit of $16,000, compared to a net operating loss of $793,000 for the same period in 1999.
So far this year, SpaceDev has been awarded $305,000 in grants. One of the grants, worth $105,000, was awarded by the California Space and Technology Alliance. SpaceDev will use the grant money to perform test firings of its hybrid rocket motors, which are designed to power SpaceDev’s Orbital Transfer Vehicle.
“We appreciate the state of California supporting this technology,” said Charlie Lloyd, CEO of SpaceDev’s local Integrated Space Systems subsidiary. “This grant helps confirm SpaceDev’s corporate direction and the value of our commercial space products as we move forward to market these innovative new technologies to our diverse customer base.”
SpaceDev was one of nine award recipients out of 35 competitors for the CSTA grant.
“This year’s increased number of grant applications is a reflection of the growing interest in and participation of California companies in the expanding international space marketplace,” CSTA executive director Andrea Seastrand said.
SpaceDev’s most recent grant, awarded this month, comes from the California Trade and Commerce Agency. The $200,000 grant is part of a pool of $1 million worth of matching grants seven companies will share in an effort to keep California competitive in the commercial space industry in the 21st century.
Projects funded include improving launch capabilities and low-earth-orbiting for satellites weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
Under its grant, SpaceDev has proposed to build a Satellite Assembly and Test facility capable of manufacturing and operating low-cost satellites for California academic institutions, government programs and commercial industry.
SpaceDev’s recent grants will also help pay for the completion of the company’s 1,800-square-foot clean room.
While the grant money may not seem like a lot, Benson is thrilled.
“It continues to add to our credibility and helps us get world-class facilities in place,” he said. “This is really accelerating us. We’re still in the early stages of development and we have a lot of prospects and irons in the fire and we’re pretty optimistic.”
Earlier this year, SpaceDev and the Boeing Co. announced they have teamed to investigate opportunities of mutual strategic interest in the commercial deep-space arena.
SpaceDev also recently designed inexpensive orbital transfer vehicles, and secondary payload “micro-kick” motors for the U.S. Air Force. For more information on SpaceDev, check out its Web site (www.spacedev.com).
Bits & Bytes: Attention gamers! San Diego’s Presto Studios (www.presto.com) is developing the next chapter of the Myst saga, “Myst III: Exile.” The Myst PC game series, published by the entertainment division of Mattel Interactive, was originally developed by Spokane, Wash.-based Cyan, Inc. and is considered to be the cornerstone of PC gaming. Presto will add new panoramic navigation technology to the game. “Exile” will also feature five new ages for players to explore and will introduce a new villain, played by Academy Award nominee Brad Dourif (“One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”). Presto Studios, which is known for its award-winning “Journeyman Project,” also released Stephen King’s “F13” this year. San Diego-based Tachyon, Inc. has teamed with San Jose-based Concentric Network Corp. to offer high-speed Internet access over Tachyon’s satellite systems. Tachyon is the first company to bring two-way, high-performance, satellite-delivered Internet service. Nine U.S.-based Internet Service Providers and one European ISP have become Tachyon partners since the San Diego firm introduced its satellite service in January. Escondido-based FICOM, which provides high-performance voice and data cabling management solutions, has received a $1.8 million contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division at Point Magu. Teaming up with San Diego-based Gray Systems, FICOM will design and install the Range Telecommunications Distribution System for Navy facilities at San Nicolas Island, Point Magu and Laguna Park. The project is expected to be finished by December.
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