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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, offers a compelling alternative to more traditional manufacturing approaches at NASA, where the need for highly customized spacecraft and instrument components is quite high. The agency has recently launched a number of formal programs to prototype new 3-D printed components, including rocket engine injectors, and 3-D printers for use in space.
The concept of a hypersonic aircraft that takes off from the runway and doesn’t need a rest, inspection or repair is still a unbuilt dream, but Univ. of Cincinnati researchers are developing the validation metrics that could help predict the success or failure of such a model before it is even built, as test data becomes available from component, to sub-system, to the completely assembled air vehicle.
Since the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster, business professor Peter Madsen at Brigham Young Univ. has examined how NASA recognizes “near-misses”, where narrowly averted failures result in successful outcomes. A new study of NASA’s safety climate finds that recognition of those near-misses goes up when the significance of a project is emphasized, and when organizational leaders emphasize safety relative to other goals, such as efficiency.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, Sierra Nevada Corp. will publicly discuss expansion plans for its Dream Chaser Space System Program. The press conference, to be held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will detail the company’s efforts to build a winged, lifting-body spacecraft that provides a flexible, credible, affordable solution for ISS crew transportation.
Aircraft maker Boeing Co., Etihad Airways, the oil company Total and others say they will work together on a program to develop an aviation biofuel industry in the United Arab Emirates. Etihad ran a 45-minute demonstration flight Saturday in a Boeing 777 partially powered by aviation biofuel produced in the UAE.
According to Anupam Agrawal, a professor of business administration at the Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, firms can manage their sourcing better by developing relationships not only with their suppliers but also with their suppliers’ suppliers. The lack of communication or collaboration between the big players at either end of the supply chain spectrum can prevent gains in efficiencies.
The completion of the 30-day Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) mission has helped confirm laser communication capabilities from a distance of almost 250,000 miles. In addition to demonstrating record-breaking data download and upload speeds to the moon at 622 and 20 Mbps, respectively, LLCD also showed that it could operate as well as any NASA radio system.
Astronomers are still largely working with a “flat” map of the galaxy, and the European Space Agency hopes to change that with Gaia, its star-surveying satellite which launched into space Thursday. The spacecraft will produce the most accurate 3-D map of the Milky Way yet. Gaia is now heading for a stable orbit on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, and will always keep its back to the sun.
Although researchers have determined the ages of rocks from other planetary bodies, the actual experiments have been done on Earth. Now, for the first time, researchers have successfully determined the age of a Martian rock with experiments performed on Mars. The work could not only help in understanding the geologic history of Mars but also aid in the search for evidence of ancient life on the planet.
R&D among aerospace, defense and security firms is primarily driven by two sectors: the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the global airline industry. The major aerospace and defense contractors plan R&D in close coordination with DOD to meet the needs of national defense and global security, while capacity, economics and efficiency are drivers for civil aviation requirements.
The ChemCam laser instrument aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover fired its 100,000th shot recently, chronicling its adventures on Mars with a coffee-table-book’s worth of spectral data that might rival snapshots gathered during a long and satisfying family vacation here on Earth. ChemCam zaps rocks with a high-powered laser to determine their composition and carries a camera that can survey the Martian landscape.
On Monday, China launched its first rover mission to the moon, sending a robotic craft named Jade Rabbit to trundle across the lunar landscape, examine its geology and beam images back to Earth. If the Chang'e 3 successfully soft-lands on the moon, China will become the third country to do so, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Professor Ken Naitoh of Waseda Univ.'s Faculty of Science and Engineering has discovered a new compressive combustion principle that could yield engines with a much higher level of thermal efficiency: up to 60% or more in applications including automobiles, power generation and aircraft.
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working with aircraft makers to determine energy savings through the use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing. The research team is printing airplane parts to show additive manufacturing’s potential as a technology that should be considered foundational to processes seeking more energy efficiency.
When pilots encounter an in-flight emergency they consult with manuals, emergency procedures and other reference materials contained in their flight bags for information on how to respond. In the future, these cumbersome flight bags could be replaced by “electronic flight bags” consisting of a lightweight tablet computer loaded with electronic versions of documents that today are printed on paper.
NASA's Jupiter-bound spacecraft hit a snag last week after it flew past Earth to increase its speed to barrel beyond the asteroid belt to Jupiter. The Southwest Research Institute, which leads the mission's science operations, now reports that Juno is out of "safe mode."
A SpaceX rocket launched from the California coast Sunday carrying a Canadian satellite intended to track space weather in what was billed as a test flight. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, shortly after 9 a.m. under clear skies.
Within its first three months on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity Rover saw a surprising diversity of soils and sediments along a half-kilometer route that tell a complex story about the gradual desiccation of the Red Planet. Perhaps most notable among findings from the ChemCam team is that all of the dust and fine soil contains small amounts of water.
Chinese scientists described the country's first moon rover on Wednesday and invited the global public to come up with a name for it. The rover has two wings, stands on six wheels, weighs 140 kg and will be powered by solar energy. It will soft-land on the moon after a launch aboard the spacecraft Chang'e-3 in December.
On Thursday, Virgin Galactic demonstrated the SpaceShipTwo’s full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time. The second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle marked the first high altitude deployment of the unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism and achieved the highest altitude and greatest speed to date.