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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Eugene A. Cernan, a Purdue University alumnus and the most recent person to walk on the moon, stepped out of the lunar lander 40 years ago Tuesday. Commander of Apollo 17, Cernan made three moonwalks, explored the barren landscape in a lunar rover, collected about 250 pounds of soil samples and moon rocks, and took scientific measurements.
A team of researchers have built a new type of nuclear reactor that is reliable enough to be used on space flights. The prototype, which has been used to generate 24 W of electricity, relies on heat pipe technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1983. The fluid-based cooling system requires no moving parts and the reactor itself is based on a simply closed-loop Stirling engine.
Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University and Concurrent Technologies Corporation are working with the Air Force Research Laboratory and Ogden Air Logistics Center 309 AMXG to develop and demonstrate a robotic system that uses high-powered lasers to remove coatings from fighter and cargo aircraft. The continuous-wave lasers should replace abrasives and chemicals used in traditional coating removal processes.
At NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, a manufacturing technique called selective laser melting, or SLM, to create intricate metal parts for America's next heavy-lift rocket. Working from a 3D computer-aided design computer file, the machine basically “prints” complex parts using metal powder and lasers. The process significantly reduces the manufacturing time required to produce parts from months to weeks or even days, in some cases.
A California judge has tentatively ruled in favor of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by a former computer specialist who alleged he was singled out in part because of his belief in intelligent design.
A set of instruments aboard the rover has ingested and analyzed samples of the atmosphere collected near the "Rocknest" site in Gale Crater where the Curiosity rover is stopped for research. With these initial sniffs of Martian atmosphere, preliminary results reveal little to no methane. Methane is of interest as a simple precursor chemical for life.
Two months ago, a problem with a control fin caused an X-51A to lose balance and crash off the Southern California coast. Research on the cause pointed to a mysterious “random vibration issue”. The U.S. military says it is planning a fourth attempt at unmanned hypersonic flight next spring or summer.
An astronaut departing this week for the International Space Station said Monday that the bulk of the scientific benefits from the orbiting laboratory will be seen over the coming decade, amid questions on whether the estimated $100 billion spent in last 12 years is worth the effort. Portland, Indiana-born Kevin Ford said the station is just now entering the phase where the bulk of science being conducted there will come to fruition.
Predicted by Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, the waves occur when massive celestial objects move and disrupt the fabric of space-time. But by the time these waves reach Earth, they are so weak that the planet expands and contracts less than an atom in response. No instrument or observatory has ever directly detected them. A pioneering technology capable of atomic-level precision is now being developed to detect what so far has remained imperceptible.