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Today's news includes a big reveal about Lockheed Martin's bid for the next space station resupply contract. They propose to build a tug that stays in orbit and has a robot arm. Then they'll launch unpowered pods of supplies and have the tug head out from the space station to fetch them, instead of giving each one a docking/propulsion system that has to be launched every time. The tug is built on the platform we're using for most of our Mars orbiters, can be refueled from the pods, and can haul things around between orbits generally. This is the sort of thing that appears early in most 1970s future-histories (complete with ion drive) and it looks like it'd have nice synergy with some of the other interesting work that's going on in the space business these days.

That's not the cool part.

They're calling the tug Jupiter, after the Central Pacific locomotive that participated in the Golden Spike ceremony. But that's not the cool part either.

The cool part is that the guy in charge of this project is named Jim Crocker. I wonder what relation he is to Charles.

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