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SpaceshipTwo successfully completes second flight test

September 6, 2013 3:04 pm | Videos | Comments

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.

Terramechanics research aims to keep Mars rovers rolling

September 5, 2013 11:34 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In May 2009, the Mars rover Spirit cracked through a crusty layer of Martian topsoil, sinking into softer underlying sand. The unexpected sand trap permanently mired the vehicle. The mission mishap may have been prevented by a better understanding of terramechanics, which describes the interaction between vehicles and deformable terrain.

Video: First microdrone crosses the Alps

September 5, 2013 10:17 am | News | Comments

Earlier this summer, a small drone managed something that even larger flying robots had not yet been able to do. Equipped with an HD camera, and in adverse conditions, it set off from Switzerland and crossed the Saint-Gotthard Massif towards Italy. The company behind this experiment has just released video of the record flight.

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Ion thruster: A new idea for nanosatellite micro-rockets

September 3, 2013 8:10 am | by Marcia Goodrich, MTU | News | Comments

Though nanosatellites already borrow several components, including cameras and radios, from terrestrial gadgets, propulsion systems have to be built from scratch. Researchers are working on electrospray ionic liquid “rockets”, but the microscopic needles they require are difficult and tedious to make. A researcher has found a way to let nature do the work, simplifying the fabrication process.

Space laser to prove increased broadband possible

August 29, 2013 12:07 pm | by Dewayne Washington, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.

NASA tests limits of 3-D printing with powerful rocket engine check

August 28, 2013 8:27 am | News | Comments

The largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA hsa ever tested blazed to life Thursday, Aug. 22 during an engine firing that generated a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. This test is a milestone for one of many important advances the agency is making to reduce the cost of space hardware.

California vies for new space industry

August 28, 2013 7:52 am | by Mihir Zaveri, Associated Press | News | Comments

As several new private ventures to take people on trips to space come closer to becoming reality, California lawmakers are racing other states to woo the new space companies with cushy incentives. They are debating a bill now in Sacramento that would insulate manufacturers of spaceships and parts suppliers from liability should travelers get injured or killed on a voyage, except in cases such as gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing.

ANA, Japan Airlines check 787s for wiring problem

August 14, 2013 4:55 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines are checking their Boeing 787 fleets for wiring problems unrelated to battery defects that plagued the aircraft earlier this year. ANA said Wednesday the departure of a 787 plane was delayed over problem wiring for a system to put out engine fires.

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World's first pop-art satellite headed to space

August 12, 2013 1:37 pm | by John Rogers, Associated Press | News | Comments

If aliens ever target Earth, Jon Gibson and Amanda White are counting on them having an appreciation for pop art and a sense of humor. The duo has created an elaborate, Andy Warhol-like design that has been etched into a satellite's panel, transforming the spacecraft into a replica of an oversized electrical charging device. Is it the world’s first orbiting work of art? Possibly.

A year of Curiosity on Mars

August 7, 2013 3:06 pm | Videos | Comments

Curiosity Rover team members re-live the dramatic Aug. 6, 2012 landing and the mission's achievements to date in a recent event aired on NASA Television and the agency's website. In the year since inspiring millions of people worldwide with its one-of-a-kind landing in a crater on the Red Planet, Curiosity has achieved its primary scientific objective; finding evidence that ancient Mars could have sustained microbial life.

Japan launches talking humanoid robot into space

August 5, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Kirobo—derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot"—was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan. The childlike robot was designed to be a companion for astronaut Koichi Wakata and will communicate with another robot on Earth, according to developers.

Japan launches talking humanoid robot into space

August 4, 2013 8:27 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Japan has launched the world's first talking humanoid robot "astronaut" toward the International Space Station. Kirobo—derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot"—was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said.

NASA technologist makes traveling to hard-to-reach destinations easier

August 1, 2013 7:48 am | by Lori Keesey, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Traveling to remote locations sometimes involves navigating through stop-and-go traffic, traversing long stretches of highway and a lot of  maneuvering. The same can be said for guiding spacecraft to far-flung destinations in space. A NASA technologist has developed a fully automated tool that gives mission planners a preliminary set of detailed directions for efficiently steering a spacecraft to hard-to-reach interplanetary destinations.

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GOES-R satellite magnetometer boom deployment successful

July 30, 2013 9:23 am | by Rob Gutro and Kevin Mc Laughlin, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

The GOES-R Magnetometer Engineering Development Unit at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center completed successful boom deployment test at an ATK facility in Goleta, Calif. The magnetometer, which will deploy aboard the boom after launch, will provide measurements of the space environment magnetic field, which controls charged particle dynamics in the outer region of the magnetosphere.

Van Allen probes pinpoint driver of speeding electrons

July 25, 2013 7:08 pm | News | Comments

After studying data from a pair of NASA probes roaming the harsh space environment within the Van Allen radiation belts, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory believe they have solved a lingering mystery about how electrons within Earth’s radiation belt can suddenly become energetic enough to kill orbiting satellites.

Choosing a wave could accelerate airplane maintenance

July 24, 2013 8:26 am | by Hannah Y. Cheng, Penn State | News | Comments

Ultrasonic waves can find bubbles and cracks in adhesive bonds holding airplane composite parts together. Different ultrasonic modes work best for different materials and configurations using the right one will locate more flaws with higher precision. Recent research has produced a technique that lets aerospace engineers more quickly select the best frequencies to detect adhesive failures in hard-to-reach places.

Zero Gravity Solutions nearing goal for stock trade

July 18, 2013 9:50 am | News | Comments

Biotechnology company Zero Gravity Solutiuons aims to utilize the unique effects of extended zero/micro gravity environments available on the International Space Station to promote gene expression and accelerate stem cell research. The company has completed filings required prior to trading of the company’s stock.

Kickstarting tiny satellites into interplanetary space

July 16, 2013 8:12 am | News | Comments

Two Univ. of Michigan engineering professors are turning to the Kickstarter online community to help fund an interplanetary satellite mission. They are teaming up to create two new technologies in a matter of months, with the goal of using a plasma thruster to push a CubeSat into deep space—something that has never been done before.

Navy to attempt first unmanned carrier landing

July 10, 2013 9:16 am | by Brock Vergakis, Associated Press | News | Comments

Landing an airplane on an aircraft carrier deck is one of the most difficult tasks a pilot is asked to do. On Wednesday, the Navy will attempt to accomplish the same task with a drone. If all goes as planned, a successful landing of the X-47B experimental aircraft will mean the Navy can move forward with its plans provide around-the-clock surveillance and strike capability.

New system to transform communications for airline pilots

July 1, 2013 1:27 pm | News | Comments

Digital systems are an everyday routine for more and more passengers, and even Internet is now available. But pilots are largely cut off from this development with a system that is separate and largely analog. Under development in Germany is a new system that will digitally transmit air traffic and weather communications with the ground and via satellite at high speeds.

The science of impact: "Shields to maximum, Mr. Scott"

June 27, 2013 2:43 pm | by Aaron Dubrow, TACC | News | Comments

According to NASA, there are more than 21,000 pieces of “space junk roughly the size of a baseball in orbit, and about 500,000 pieces that are golf ball-sized. These pieces can be dangerous, which is why researchers at Texas Advanced Computing Center’s supercomputers are simulating orbital debris impacts on spacecraft and fragment impacts on body armor to help NASA design better shielding.

Air travel changes at less than supersonic speed

June 21, 2013 11:19 am | by LORI HINNANT - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

When the Concorde started flying in the 1970s, hopes were high that the traveling masses would soon streak through the air faster than the speed of sound or soar in planes that hurtled like missiles above the earth's atmosphere. Instead, jetliners still look the same as they did five decades ago and travel times have barely budged.

New trophallactic strategy allows multiple UAVs to fly in formation

June 21, 2013 10:24 am | News | Comments

In recent years, formation control of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles has an important aerospace research topic. Engineers in China have recently investigated the trophallactic—or fluid exchange by direct contact—swarming behavior exhibited by a variety of animals, including birds and insects. By imitating that behavior and considering the communication requirements of the network control system, a new network control method was proposed.

Boeing launches plans for longer 787 jet

June 18, 2013 5:41 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Boeing Corp. is starting work on a stretched-out version of its popular 787 Dreamliner jet, in the hope of reigniting interest in the aircraft after battery-related problems. Boeing announced the formal launch of its 787-10 program at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday and says it already has commitments from several customers, including United Airlines.

Chinese spacecraft blasts off with three astronauts

June 11, 2013 10:49 am | by Andy Wong, Associated Press | News | Comments

China's fifth and longest manned spacecraft successfully blasted off Tuesday on a 15-day mission to dock with a space lab and educate young people about science. The spacecraft was launched aboard a Long March 2F rocket and will transport the crew to the Tiangong 1, which functions as an experimental prototype for a much larger Chinese space station to be launched in 2020.

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