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First Mode celebrates first steps in space exploration – and looks ahead to the moon

29 Jul 2019, 23:57 UTC
First Mode celebrates first steps in space exploration – and looks ahead to the moon
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First Mode’s president and chief engineer, Chris Voorhees, shows off the employee-owned company’s digs near Seattle’s Pike Place Market. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)
One year after engineers from the Planetary Resources asteroid mining company peeled off to form their own employee-owned startup, known as First Mode, they can point to the profitable work they’ve done on space missions that are heading for Mars and, yes, an asteroid.
But now they’re widening their focus to take in projects that are closer to home — including mining operations back here on Earth, and NASA’s Artemis effort to send astronauts to the moon’s surface by 2024.
“We’re growing our own infrastructure here,” Chris Voorhees, the company’s president and chief engineer, told GeekWire during a tour of First Mode’s office space in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, not far from Pike Place Market.
So far, First Mode has made a name for itself as a design and engineering consultancy, but now it’s putting the infrastructure in place to build hardware as well. Its in-house clean room bears testament to that ambition.
“We really like the idea of flight hardware getting delivered out of Pike Place Market,” Voorhees said. “We think that’s pretty cool.”
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