After 52 years of conceiving, testing and waiting, one of Stanford's and NASA's longest-running projects comes to a close with a greater understanding of the universe, and a better mastery of global positioning systems. The Gravity Probe B satellites carried four ultra-precise gyroscopes able to detect some of the smallest fluctuations in gravitational force.
Like a travel sticker-covered suitcase, the orange fuel tank that will help propel the space shuttle Endeavour to orbit is already battle-tested. Completed by Lockheed Martin in 2001, the tank was grounded for retrofitting after the Columbia accident, then spent another eight months undergoing a patchwork of repairs after Hurricane Katrina ripped open its storage building.
The launch team began loading more than a half-million gallons of fuel into Endeavour at dawn, moments after royal wedding vows were exchanged across the ocean between Prince William and Kate Middleton in London. The historic launch will be this afternoon’s center of attention as both Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wife of Endeavour’s commander, Mark Kelly, and Pres. Barack Obama and his family will be in attendance.
NASA has released a trove of data from its sky-mapping mission, allowing scientists and anyone with access to the Internet to peruse millions of galaxies, stars, asteroids and other hard-to-see objects. Many of the targets in the celestial catalog released online this week have been previously observed, but there are significant new discoveries.
Pre-sintered preforms are a sintered metallurgy product composed of a customized blend of brazing and superalloy powders. MTC offers these in a larger variety for customized applications, such as those in aircraft maintenance.
Russia will test a next-generation spacecraft, build a new cosmodrome and even consider a manned mission to Mars after 2035, the nation's space chief said Wednesday. Plans include a new launch pad in far east Russia, nuclear rocket engines, and a new spacecraft named Rus.
Russia must preserve its pre-eminence in space, President Dmitry Medvedev declared Tuesday on the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The statement followed warnings by another cosmonaut that Russia risks losing its edge in space research by relying solely on Soviet-era achievements and doing little to develop new space technologies.
Industry-based researchers recognize the value of government-sponsored research, but some do not want to pay extra for it.
Although the Falcon Heavy has been in SpaceX’s plans for some time, Tuesday marks the first time founder Elon Musk has announced his company’s intentions to launch the first Heavy in 2013. The rocket would put 117,000 pounds of cargo into the same orbit as the International Space Station, more than twice as much as the Space Shuttle.
“Mars 3D” won’t be arriving in theaters anytime soon. The NASA rover Curiosity, scheduled to leave for the red planet later this year, will voyage without a pair of proposed 3-D zoom-cameras that filmmaker James Cameron had championed. Despite the absence of 3-D capability, the Mastcam currently installed is expected to fulfill the mission’s science goals.
Setting the aeronautics field aflutter, advanced mathematics outduels supercomputers to quell a deadly aeronautical vibration phenomenon.
Because they don’t dent like metals, damaged composites often appear to be in perfect condition even when internal structures have been compromised. Engineers at MIT have devised a new way to inspect these materials using carbon nanotubes and an applied electric current.
The aeronautics company unveiled a cavernous test facility at its Waterton Canyon site south of Denver on Monday and showed off a test version of the Orion spacecraft, a design which was initially meant to return humans to the moon but may wind up being an escape vehicle for the International Space Station or taking astronauts beyond Earth orbit.
Astronauts at the International Space Station unpacked Robonaut on Tuesday, more than two weeks after arriving at the space station. Prying open its “coffin”, the crew was surprised to find the robot was missing. They soon found the ‘bot in front of a work station, already attempting to gain system control, HAL 9000-style.
When a NASA spacecraft goes into orbit around Mercury Thursday evening (March 17, 2011), a team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers will be paying close attention. The researchers developed a germanium-based gamma ray spectrometer that has been winging its way aboard the Mercury MESSENGER for the past six-and-half years.
Plans are in place to send three scientists from Southwest Research Institute as payload specialists aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial crewed spaceship. The arrangement, which includes additional flights aboard the XCOR Lynx I high-altitude rocket plane, is among the first to place independent scientists in a commercial spacecraft.
A NASA technology originally developed for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions has successfully reduced the painful side effects resulting from chemotherapy and radiation treatment in bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients.
A second version of the secretive X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is scheduled to rocket to space this afternoon from Cape Canaveral. Current forecasts predict a 70 percent chance that bad weather may delay the flight. The unmanned craft resembles the space shuttle, but is much smaller. The Air Force won't say what the shuttle is to be used for, but they do confirm that it operates completely autonomously.
Built for DARPA, one of the smallest spy planes ever devised could easily have emerged from the Q branch. Instead, a California company recently demonstrated the drone, which weighs less than an ounce, can hover and move in any direction, and is able to perch on a flat surface to gather intelligence.
In what is now a routine task, astronauts on board the space shuttle Discovery will be surveying their ship for signs of launch damage Friday before finally docking with the International Space Station. Already destined to be a museum piece, the Discovery made its last launch three minutes late on Thursday. Just two more shuttle missions are tentatively planned.
Scientists at Idaho National Lab’s Center for Space Nuclear Research have designed long-lived rocket-powered hoppers that could travel the Martian surface autonomously. Weighing about as much as a penguin, the hoppers don't have to carry fuel with them; they can suck up the carbon-dioxide-rich Martian atmosphere and use stored heat from a radioisotope power source to convert it to a propellant.
Technicians close the clamshell doors of space shuttle Discovery's payload bay in preparation for the STS-133 launch to the International Space Station. The Permanent Multipurpose Module inside is packed with 6,500 pounds of supplies and critical spare parts, as well as Robonaut 2. The module will hopefully solve a storage crisis on board the space station.
JAXA is considering putting a talking humanoid robot on the International Space Station to watch the mission while astronauts are asleep, monitor their health and stress levels and communicate to Earth through the microblogging site Twitter. It’s part of a larger effort by the Japanese space agency to refine robots that can be used by the elderly in Japan’s rapidly aging population.
On Sunday, Boeing unveiled its newest and largest passenger airplane, the 747-8 Intercontinental at the company’s factory in Everett, Wash. Its red paint job was a departure from the usual Boeing blue, but the 40-year-old profile of the 747 is familiar. The revision indicates that the 747 will likely be around when Boeing anticipates that aviation biofuels will be ready for industry-wide use.
In his State of the Union address in late January, President Barack Obama identified the nation’s urgent need for innovation as “our generation’s Sputnik moment”. Is this political rhetoric? A first volley in budget negotiations? Or, is it a wake-up call for researchers and the organizations that fund their work?