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Webb Space Telescope Sunshield Gets Full Size Test

October 18, 2011 11:08 am | Articles | Comments

Tests on five tennis-court sized sunshield layers designed to protect NASA's James Webb Space Telescope mirrors and instruments from the heat of the sun will tell Northrop Grumman Corp. (Falls Church, Va.) engineers how the full-size sunshield layers will behave in orbit.

Antennas Enable Early Science at ALMA

October 18, 2011 11:02 am | Articles | Comments

Thirteen 12-m antennas manufactured by General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies have been installed at the 16,500-foot-high Chajnanator plateau in Chile, home to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) astronomical observatory.

GPS-directed Flight Paths Seek Validation

October 18, 2011 10:58 am | Articles | Comments

Boeing and Lion Air, the largest private carrier in Indonesia, pioneered precision navigation technology in South Asia with the introduction of Required Navigation Performance (RNP) flight operations.


Biofueled Passenger Flights Take to the Skies

October 18, 2011 10:48 am | Articles | Comments

In July, Lufthansa launched the first daily commercial passenger flights using biofuel—50% Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA)—flying four daily flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt on an Airbus A321.

Branson, officials dedicate Virgin Galactic’s space terminal

October 18, 2011 7:04 am | by Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press | News | Comments

Joined by Gov. Susana Martinez, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and scores of would-be space travelers, billionaire Richard Branson rappelled from a balcony in New Mexico Monday to christen the world’s first built-from-scratch commercial spaceport. More than 450 people have already purchased Virgin Galactic tickets.

ESA finds that Venus has an ozone layer too

October 10, 2011 4:40 am | News | Comments

The European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft has discovered an ozone layer high in the atmosphere of Venus. Ozone has only previously been detected in the atmospheres of Earth and Mars. On Earth, it is both generated by and protects life from the sun’s harmful rays, but on Mars and Venus, the effect is non-biological.

Dark and bright: ESA chooses next two science missions

October 5, 2011 5:42 am | News | Comments

The powerful influence of the Sun and the nature of mysterious dark energy motivate ESA’s next two science missions. Solar Orbiter will venture closer to the Sun than any previous mission, and Euclid will be a space telescope designed to map out the large-scale structure of the cosmos.

SpaceX to attempt fully reusable orbital booster

September 30, 2011 1:01 pm | by John Antczak, Associated Press | News | Comments

California space-launch entrepreneur Elon Musk said Thursday his company will try to develop an orbital booster system with components capable of flying back to Earth for reuse. The complexities of the engineering have canceled previous efforts by others.


Six months of orbiting reveals Mercury’s surface secrets

September 30, 2011 7:30 am | News | Comments

For decades scientists had puzzled over whether Mercury had volcanic deposits on its surface.  The latest set of images from MESSENGER, the NASA orbiter, affirmed their existence and also discovered a new class of landform known as a ‘hollow’.

China launches module for space station

September 29, 2011 10:36 am | by Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press | News | Comments

On Thursday, the box car-sized Tiangong-1 module was shot into space from a launch pad at the edge of the Gobi Desert. Within the next few weeks, another spacecraft will be launched to practice remote-controlled maneuvers with this experiment capsule, setting the stage for what China hopes to a full space station launch beginning in 2020.

Scientists release most accurate simulation of universe to date

September 29, 2011 10:25 am | News | Comments

The Bolshoi supercomputer simulation, the most accurate and detailed large cosmological simulation run to date, gives physicists and astronomers a powerful new tool for understanding such cosmic mysteries as galaxy formation, dark matter, and dark energy.

Keep track of NASA’s falling UARS satellite

September 23, 2011 9:19 am | News | Comments

NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere late Sept. 23 or early Sept. 24 Eastern Daylight Time, almost six years after the end of a productive scientific life. Although the spacecraft will break into pieces during re-entry, not all of it will burn up in the atmosphere.

United Technologies to buy Goodrich in $18.5B deal

September 22, 2011 10:01 am | by Alex Veiga, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Rumored for days, the purchase of aerospace manufacturer Goodrich Corp. by industrial conglomerate United Technologies Corp. was confirmed Wendesday. The combined companies will have annual sales of about $66 billion, as United Technologies strengthens its position in the aerospace and defense industries.


Eco aircraft to paint California skies green

September 21, 2011 8:08 am | News | Comments

Vying for a $1.65 million purse, the largest aviation prize ever offered, competitors in the Green Flight Centennial Challenge will take to the air this weekend. To qualify, the electric, biofuel, and hybrid-powered planes must exceed 200 passenger miles per gallon, about double what even the best large commercial jets now achieve.

Earth to satellite: When will you hit, and where?

September 20, 2011 11:56 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

A 6-ton, 20-year-old research satellite is expected to break into more than 100 pieces as it enters the atmosphere this week, most of it burning up. NASA says 26 of the heaviest metal parts, including one of about 136 kg, are expected to reach Earth. But nobody knows exactly where they will hit.

Robots coming to aircraft assembly

September 16, 2011 9:29 am | News | Comments

Up to now, aircraft have been put together in huge assembly cells, but building the necessary facilities is expensive and time consuming. That is why Fraunhofer researchers have come up with a flexible assembly line concept that features robots working in the same way they do in automotive production.

Chemists help astronauts make sure their drinking water is clean

September 15, 2011 5:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have developed chemistry and procedures that astronauts can use to test the quality of their drinking water at the International Space Station. The testing technology is now considered operational hardware at the space station. Astronauts will begin using refinements to the tests in late September.

Students building rocket for moon vehicle

September 13, 2011 9:10 am | News | Comments

Purdue University students are designing and building a rocket engine that might be used in a vehicle to land on the moon. These students are part of a team developing a rocket motor through the NASA-funded Project Morpheus, which includes research to develop new technologies for future trips to the moon, Mars, or asteroids.

New tool analyzes black-box data for flight anomalies

September 12, 2011 3:52 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Spain have devised a detection tool that spots flight glitches without knowing ahead of time what to look for. The technique uses cluster analysis, a type of data mining that filters data into subsets, or clusters of flights sharing common patterns.

Wind delays NASA launch of twin moon spacecraft

September 8, 2011 5:45 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

High wind has forced a one-day launch delay for NASA's newest moon spacecraft. An unmanned rocket was supposed to blast off from Cape Canaveral today with the twin probes. But the countdown was halted because of gusty wind in the flight path.

MIT-led GRAIL lunar mission scheduled to launch

September 8, 2011 4:55 am | by John Tylko, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Today's expected launch of NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) twin spacecraft, a carefully choreographed mission to precisely map the moon's gravitational field, could help scientists understand fundamental questions about the moon's composition, internal structure, and evolution.

Recent trends show recession's effect on U.S. advanced technology exports

September 6, 2011 3:56 am | News | Comments

U.S. exports of advanced technology products (ATP) fared better than other non-advanced technology exports during the recent U.S. recession, says a new report from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Space junk littering orbit; might need cleaning up

September 2, 2011 8:04 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

According to some experts, we’ve lost control of the environment in Earth’s orbit. There are 22,000 objects in orbit that are big enough to track and countless more smaller ones, anyone on of which could do damage to human-carrying spaceships and valuable satellites. The problem now is how to pick up the pieces.

Mars rover Opportunity examining rocks at new site

September 1, 2011 8:10 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Snapping pictures like a tourist, NASA’s solar-powered rover is beaming back images of the horizon, soil, and rocks unlike any it has seen during its seven years roaming the Martian plains. At the western rim of the crater Endeavour, Opportunity has a few more missions to complete.

Automation in the air dulls pilot skill

August 31, 2011 5:26 am | by Joan Lowy, Associated Press | News | Comments

Pilots' "automation addiction" has eroded their flying skills to the point that they sometimes don't know how to recover from stalls and other mid-flight problems, say pilots and safety officials. The weakened skills have contributed to hundreds of deaths in airline crashes in the last five years.

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