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NASA rover prepares to analyze Mars rock dust

February 20, 2013 3:21 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Fresh off drilling into a rock for the first time, the Mars rover Curiosity is prepping for the next step—dissecting the pulverized rock to determine what it's made of. NASA said Wednesday it received confirmation that Curiosity successfully collected a tablespoon of powder from the drilling two weeks ago and was poised to transfer a pinch to its onboard laboratories. It's the first time a spacecraft has bored into a rock on Mars to retrieve a sample from the interior.

Japan probe finds miswiring of Boeing 787 battery

February 20, 2013 6:49 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

A probe into the overheating of a lithium ion battery in an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 found it was improperly wired, Japan's Transport Ministry said Wednesday. The Transport Safety Board said in a report that the battery of the aircraft's auxiliary power unit was incorrectly connected to the main battery that overheated, although a protective valve would have prevented power from the APU from doing damage.

Russia, Kazakhstan may manage space base together

February 15, 2013 8:39 am | by Peter Leonard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Russia may suspend its lease for some facilities at the Baikonur space complex in Kazakhstan, opening the way for its joint administration by the two countries, a senior Russian space official says. The launch pad for satellite-deploying Zenit rockets at the complex will be the first facility to be reviewed, Roscosmos deputy head Sergei Savelyev told the Ivzestia newspaper in an interview published Thursday.

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Magnetic shielding innovation improves ion beam rockets

February 13, 2013 12:19 pm | News | Comments

Electric rocket engines known as Hall thrusters, which use a super high-velocity stream of ions to propel a spacecraft in space, have been used successfully onboard many missions for half a century. Erosion of the discharge channels walls, however, has limited their application to the inner solar system. A research team at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found a way to effectively control this erosion by shaping the engine's magnetic field in a way that shields the walls from ion bombardment.

U.N. agency moves to kill aircraft battery exemption

February 12, 2013 11:08 am | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A U.N. agency that sets global aviation safety standards is moving to prevent aircraft batteries like the one that caught fire on a Boeing 787 last month from being shipped as cargo on passenger planes, people familiar with the effort said.

US: 787 battery approval should be reconsidered

February 7, 2013 7:15 pm | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. government should reassess its safety approval of the Boeing 787's lithium ion batteries, America's top accident investigator said Thursday, casting doubt on whether the airliner's troubles can be remedied quickly.

NTSB: Plane batteries not necessarily unsafe

February 6, 2013 12:20 pm | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The use of lithium ion batteries to power aircraft systems isn't necessarily unsafe despite a battery fire in one Boeing 787 Dreamliner and smoke in another, but manufacturers need to build in reliable safeguards, the nation's top aviation safety investigator said Wednesday.

Supersonic skydiver reached 844 mph in record jump

February 5, 2013 8:14 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

Supersonic skydiver Felix Baumgartner was faster than he or anyone else thought during his record-setting jump last October from 24 miles up. The Austrian parachutist known as "Fearless Felix" reached 843.6 mph, according to official numbers released Monday. That's equivalent to Mach 1.25, or 1.25 times the speed of sound. His top speed initially was estimated at 10 mph slower at 834 mph, or Mach 1.24.

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Japan 787 probe finds thermal runaway in battery

February 5, 2013 2:37 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Japan's Transport Safety Board says the lithium ion battery aboard a Boeing 787 flight in Japan last month found evidence of the same type of "thermal runaway" seen in a similar incident in Boston. The board said in a report Tuesday that CAT scans and other analysis found damage to all eight cells in the battery that overheated on an All Nippon Airways 787 on Jan. 16, prompting an emergency landing.

AP Exclusive: 787 grounded, but batteries can fly

February 3, 2013 4:34 am | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

At the time the government certified Boeing's 787 Dreamliners as safe, federal rules barred the type of batteries used to power the airliner's electrical systems from being carried as cargo on passenger planes because of the fire risk. Now the situation is reversed.

U.S. satellite lost in failed launch from Pacific

February 1, 2013 4:44 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Sea Launch AG says a U.S. communications satellite was lost after a booster rocket carrying it into space failed shortly after its launch from a floating platform in the Pacific. The company said in a statement Friday the Intelsat 27 satellite was lost 40 seconds after the launch due to the failure of the Zenit-3SL rocket.

Japan to send investigators to US for 787 probe

January 31, 2013 10:55 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau is sending investigators looking into problems with Boeing 787 batteries to Seattle, where the aircraft are assembled. The Transport Ministry said members of the team working on the investigation would leave Tokyo on Sunday for Seattle. It provided no further details.

Boeing sticks to production plans, battery for 787

January 30, 2013 3:34 pm | by JOSHUA FREED - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Boeing is sticking with plans to speed up production of its 787 and sees no reason to change the lithium-ion battery design at the center of the troubled plane's problems, its CEO said Wednesday. Boeing's full-speed-ahead approach comes even as it became clear that airlines were replacing 787 batteries more often than Boeing had expected.

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High-tech cargo airship being built in California

January 30, 2013 9:09 am | by Raquel Maria Dillon, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new massive blimp-like aircraft was recently hovering just a dozen feet off a military hangar floor during flight testing south of Los Angeles. The fact that the hulking Aeroscraft could fly for just a few minutes represents a step forward in aviation, according to the engineers who developed it. According to the Department of Defense and NASA, their prototype could one day carry more cargo than any other aircraft to disaster zones and forward military bases.

NASA testing vintage engine from Apollo 11 rocket

January 28, 2013 9:46 am | by Jay Reeves, Associated Press | News | Comments

Young engineers who weren't even born when the last Saturn V rocket took off for the moon are testing a vintage engine from the Apollo program. The engine, known to NASA engineers as No. F-6049, was grounded because of a glitch during a test in Mississippi and later sent to the Smithsonian Institution. Now, NASA engineers are using to get ideas on how to develop the next generation of rockets for future missions to the moon and beyond.

Boeing 787 probe shifts to monitoring system maker

January 28, 2013 1:08 am | by YURI KAGEYAMA - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The joint U.S. and Japanese investigation into the Boeing 787's battery problems has shifted from the battery-maker to the manufacturer of a monitoring system. Japan transport ministry official Shigeru Takano said Monday the probe into battery-maker GS Yuasa was over for now as no evidence was found it was the source of the problems.

U.S. officials defend handling of Boeing 787 mishaps

January 23, 2013 4:10 pm | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Obama administration officials struggled Wednesday to defend their initial statements that the Boeing 787 is safe while promising a transparent probe of mishaps involving the aircraft's batteries. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stood by his Jan. 11 assertion that the 787, Boeing's newest and most technologically advanced airliner, was safe.

Pentagon researches new life for dead satellites

January 23, 2013 10:42 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

When satellites retire, certain parts—such as antennas and solar panels—often still work. There's currently no routine effort to salvage and reuse satellite parts once they're launched into space.  The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is spending $180 million to test technologies that could scavenge defunct communication satellites for their valuable parts and recycle them to build brand new ones for cheap.

Boeing investigation turns to battery maker

January 21, 2013 4:13 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Japanese and U.S. investigators are conducting a probe of the maker of the lithium ion batteries used in Boeing's grounded 787 jets. Tsutomu Nishijima, a spokesman for GS Yuasa, said Monday that the investigators visited the company's headquarters in Kyoto, Japan and that Yuasa was cooperating with the probe.

Aviation technology advances, U.S. tries to keep up

January 20, 2013 2:22 pm | by DAVID KOENIG - AP Airlines Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The battery that caught fire in a Japan Airlines 787 in Boston last week was not overcharged, but U.S. investigators said Sunday there could still be problems with wiring or other charging components. An examination of the flight data recorder indicated that the battery didn't exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement.

Airbus confident of avoiding Boeing battery issue

January 17, 2013 4:47 pm | by CARLO PIOVANO - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Airbus said it was confident its planes would not encounter the same technical problems afflicting archrival Boeing's 787s, even though they use the same kind of batteries that have this week raised security concerns. The company may nevertheless be affected eventually, experts say. If investigations show that authorities had approved parts for the 787 that turned out to be deficient, Airbus may face tougher tests when it tries to launch a new plane this year.

Space station to get $18 million balloon-like room

January 17, 2013 3:07 pm | by Hannah Dreier, Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA is partnering with a commercial space company in a bid to replace the cumbersome "metal cans" that now serve as astronauts' homes in space with inflatable bounce-house-like habitats that can be deployed on the cheap. A $17.8 million test project will send to the International Space Station an inflatable room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery.

Boeing: 787 production continues as planned

January 17, 2013 12:37 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Boeing says production of its 787 is continuing as planned, even though airlines have grounded the plane because of safety concerns. Federal aviation officials grounded the plane until they can figure out a solution to electrical problems that have caused one battery to catch fire and another to leak in the past two weeks. It's not clear how long the grounding will last.

Space station to get $18 million balloon-like room

January 16, 2013 8:59 pm | by HANNAH DREIER - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA is partnering with a commercial space company in a bid to replace the cumbersome "metal cans" that now serve as astronauts' homes in space with inflatable bounce-house-like habitats that can be deployed on the cheap. A $17.8 million test project will send to the International Space Station an inflatable room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery, officials said Wednesday in a news conference at North Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace.

Boeing defends Dreamliner, safety questions remain

January 9, 2013 6:35 pm | by JOSHUA FREED - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

  Boeing's 787 is supposed to revolutionize air travel. It just needs to get out of its own way first. The new plane is undoubtedly Boeing's most visible. It's built from composites instead of aluminum and comes with the promise of the most comfortable ride in the sky. At $200 million each, 787s are an important part of Boeing's future, even though it will be a while before it makes money on them.

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