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Shrink-wrapping spacesuits

September 18, 2014 7:32 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For future astronauts, the process of suiting up may go something like this: Instead of climbing into a conventional, bulky, gas-pressurized suit, an astronaut may don a lightweight, stretchy garment, lined with tiny, muscle-like coils. She would then plug in to a spacecraft’s power supply, triggering the coils to contract and essentially shrink-wrap the garment around her body.

NASA's Maven spacecraft reaches Mars this weekend

September 17, 2014 3:37 pm | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Mars, get ready for another visitor or two. This weekend, NASA's Maven spacecraft will reach the...

NASA's newest human spacecraft on the move

September 11, 2014 12:59 pm | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

Workers at Kennedy Space Center gathered to...

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Space station supply ship exits, now packing trash

August 15, 2014 7:22 am | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A commercial cargo ship has ended its monthlong space station visit. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station released the Cygnus supply ship, now full of trash for disposal early Friday. They parted company 260 miles above Africa's southwest coast. Orbital Sciences Corp. launched the Cygnus from Virginia in mid-July under a NASA contract.

Lunar-landing rocket research hits milestone with “hot-fire” test

August 13, 2014 8:00 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ. student team has designed, built and tested a critical part of a new a rocket engine as part of a NASA project to develop spacecraft technologies needed to land on the moon, Mars and other cosmic venues. The students are making a central part of the new engine—called the thrust chamber or combustor—as part of NASA's Project Morpheus.

Multiple UAVs perform autonomous formation flight

August 8, 2014 8:05 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

These days, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) typically fly alone with a team of ground operators controlling their activities through teleoperation or waypoint-based routing.  But one aircraft can only carry so many sensors, limiting its capabilities. That’s one reason why a fleet of autonomous aircraft can be better than one flying alone.

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SpaceX to build rocket launch site in South Texas

August 5, 2014 8:29 am | by Christopher Sherman, Associated Press | News | Comments

The world’s first commercial site for orbital rocket launches is to be built in the southernmost tip of Texas, east of Brownsville. SpaceX says it plans to launch 12 rockets a year from this site, investing $85 million and creating 300 jobs.

NASA to test making rocket fuel on Mars

August 4, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

Taking fuel to Mars for return flights is heavy and expensive. The $1.9 billion Mars 2020 rover that NASA announced on Friday will include an experiment that will turn carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere into oxygen. It could then be used to make rocket fuel and for future astronauts to breathe. The device, named MOXIE, will make about three-quarters of an ounce of oxygen an hour.

Audit: NASA doesn't have the money for big rockets

July 24, 2014 8:14 am | News | Comments

The Government Accountability Office issued a report Wednesday saying NASA's Space Launch System is at "high risk of missing" its planned December 2017 initial test flight. The agency doesn't have enough money to get its new, $12 billion rocket system, the largest ever built, off the ground.

Students to design, build, fly experiment to test green propellant

July 22, 2014 1:43 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

The Zero-Gravity Flight Experiment course at Purdue Univ. will see its creation soar to the upper atmosphere to study a new green propellant. The students are partnering with Aerojet Rocketdyne to demonstrate that the propellant can replace the traditional but highly toxic hydrazine fuel. They will design and build their experiment at Purdue, then NASA will launch it on a commercial suborbital rocket flight for weightless experiment time.

Why airlines didn't avoid risky Ukraine airspace

July 18, 2014 3:22 am | by David Koenig - AP Airlines Writers - Associated Press | News | Comments

The possibility that the civilian jetliner downed over war-torn eastern Ukraine with nearly 300 people onboard was hit by a missile could have profound consequences for the world's airlines. Airlines might have to be more vigilant about avoiding trouble spots, making flights longer and causing them to burn more costly fuel. They may even be forced to reconsider many international routes.

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Drones: Next big thing in aviation is small

July 15, 2014 2:21 pm | by Danica Kirka - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The next big thing in aviation may be really small. With some no bigger than a hummingbird, the hottest things at this week's Farnborough International Airshow are tiny compared with the titans of the sky, such as the Airbus 380 or the Boeing Dreamliner.

Mars '”flying saucer” splashes down after NASA test

June 30, 2014 7:49 am | by Christopher Weber, Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA has tested new technology designed to bring spacecraft safely down to Mars, with the agency declaring the experiment a qualified success even though a giant parachute got tangled on the way down. Saturday's $150 million experiment is the first of three involving the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator vehicle, which creates atmospheric drag to dramatically slow the spacecraft from Mach 4.

GE to be lead research sponsor at new Notre Dame tech center

June 27, 2014 3:03 pm | News | Comments

The University of Notre Dame, along with GE and four other public entities, are collaborating on a $36 million project to create a research and testing center to advance the technology of gas turbine engines used for jet aircraft, power generation plants and the oil and gas industry. GE has committed $13.5 million over the next five years to fund research at the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Facility, which was unveiled this week in Indiana.

NASA to test giant Mars parachute on Earth

June 2, 2014 12:00 pm | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The skies off the Hawaiian island of Kauai will be a stand-in for Mars as NASA prepares to launch a saucer-shaped vehicle in an experimental flight designed to land heavy loads on the red planet. For decades, robotic landers and rovers have hitched a ride to Earth's planetary neighbor using the same parachute design, but NASA needs a bigger and stronger parachute if it wants to send astronauts there.

Solar Impulse 2 makes maiden flight

June 2, 2014 9:20 am | Videos | Comments

A Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft has made a successful inaugural flight as its makers prepare for what they hope will be the first round-the-world solar flight. The aircraft spent 2 hours and 17 minutes in the air above western Switzerland early Monday. The Solar Impulse 2 is a bigger and better version of a single-seat prototype that first took flight five years ago and can theoretically stay airborne indefinitely.

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SpaceX finishes qualification testing for 3-D printed rocket engine

May 30, 2014 8:58 am | Videos | Comments

The SuperDraco thruster, an engine that will power SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to orbit, has completed a test regimen held over the last month at SpaceX’s Rocket Development Facility in Texas. This qualification test involves a variety of conditions conditions including multiple starts, extended firing durations and extreme off-nominal propellant flow and temperatures.

SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth from space station

May 19, 2014 9:55 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

The commercial cargo ship Dragon returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Sunday, bringing back nearly 2 tons of science experiments and old equipment for NASA. SpaceX's Dragon splashed into the Pacific, just five hours after leaving the orbiting lab. It is the only supply ship capable of returning items to Earth.

Engineers find way to lower risk of mid-air collisions for small aircraft

May 19, 2014 7:57 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have developed new modifications for technology that helps pilots of small aircraft avoid midair collisions. The modified tools significantly improved pilot response times in making decisions to avert crashes. At issue are cockpit displays of traffic information (CDTIs). These are GPS displays used by private pilots to track other aircraft in their vicinity.

News media challenges journalism drone ban

May 6, 2014 3:55 pm | by Joan Lowy, Associated Press | News | Comments

More than a dozen media organizations challenged the government's ban on the use of drones by journalists Tuesday, saying the Federal Aviation Administration's position violates First Amendment protections for news gathering. The organizations, including The Associated Press, filed a brief with the National Transportation Safety Board in support of aerial photographer Raphael Pirker.

Easter morning delivery for space station

April 20, 2014 8:20 am | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via a Dragon, versus a bunny. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. Astronauts used a robot arm to capture the capsule 260 miles above Egypt.

SpaceX will try again Friday to launch station cargo

April 16, 2014 12:22 pm | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

SpaceX is shooting for another launch attempt Friday to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. NASA confirmed the launch date Wednesday, two days after a last-minute rocket leak delayed the mission. Stormy weather, however, is forecast for Friday. Saturday is the backup launch date.

Rocket leak delays space station delivery launch

April 14, 2014 4:21 pm | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A space station cargo ship will remain Earthbound for a while longer. With just over an hour remaining, the Space X company called off Monday's planned launch because of a rocket leak. A new launch date was not set; the next opportunity would be Friday. Officials said a helium leak in the first-stage of the unmanned Falcon rocket forced the postponement. The launch already had been delayed a full month for various reasons.

NASA OKs space station visit despite dead computer

April 13, 2014 3:20 pm | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA is pressing ahead with Monday's planned launch of a supply ship despite a critical computer outage at the International Space Station, promising the situation is safe. Mission managers decided Sunday to proceed with the countdown for the SpaceX capsule, Dragon, already a month late in delivering more than 2 tons of cargo.

Recycling astronaut urine for energy and drinking water

April 9, 2014 3:09 pm | News | Comments

On the less glamorous side of space exploration, there’s the more practical problem of waste: in particular, what to do with astronaut pee. But rather than ejecting it into space, scientists are developing a new technique that can turn this waste burden into a boon by converting it into fuel and much-needed drinking water.

Scale model World War II craft takes flight with fuel from the sea

April 7, 2014 6:06 pm | News | Comments

Navy researchers have recently demonstrated sustained flight of a radio-controlled P-51 fighter replica fueled by a new gas-to-liquid process that uses seawater as carbon feedstock. The fuel is made using an innovative and proprietary electrolytic cation exchange module that separates gases from water at 92% efficiency. Catalysis converts the gases to liquid hydrocarbons.

Possible pings heard from jet’s black boxes

April 7, 2014 12:54 pm | by Nick Perry, Associated Press | News | Comments

Underwater sounds detected by a ship searching the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet are consistent with the pings from aircraft black boxes, an Australian official says Monday, dubbing it "a most promising lead" in the month-long hunt for the vanished plane.

ESA launching satellite for new monitoring system

April 3, 2014 1:14 pm | News | Comments

The European Space Agency is launching the first of six satellites for a new system designed to better monitor climate change, environmental disasters and catastrophes like floods, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.           

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