The Obama administration has worked tirelessly towards nuke reductions in recent months, signing an arms control treaty with Russia and ratcheting up the rhetoric -- and the promises of further sanctions -- towards Iran. But at the center of President Obama's arms reduction campaign is an antimissile defense rocket known as the SM-3, and depending on who you ask the interceptor is either "proven and effective," or an absolute failure 80 percent of the time.
Automobile design has changed drastically over the last half century, and computers have gone from filling entire rooms to fitting neatly in our briefcases. The Boeing 737, however, has changed very little. An MIT team aims to bring aviation into the 21st century with two bold new designs for commercial airliners that could trim fuel use by up to 70 percent while increasing passenger capacity.
New York City may be on the cutting edge of cuisine and fashion, but in nerdier pursuits like cartography, NYC has unfortunately fallen behind -- like, 30 years behind. But a twin-engine airplane fitted with LIDAR scanners has lately been gathering data that will close the city's map gap, creating extremely detailed digital maps of the city that will lead to better land management, inform emergency protocols, and help identify the best places to install solar panels across the five boroughs.
With a budget battle looming and its Ares I rocket program all but dead, today NASA test-fired its $220 million Orion crew capsule, which it is currently repurposing into an escape vehicle, per President Obama's new vision for NASA. Conducted at the Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the launch came off without a hitch, launching Orion more than a mile skyward before deploying parachutes and drifting back to the desert floor a mile from the launch site.
"Wow, that went like clockwork from what I can see," said Jay Estes, NASA's deputy manager of the Orion project office. "That's an amazing test."
Most of us consider airports an unglamorous, necessary evil. Between the inevitable delays, grumpy travelers, long lines, and lost baggage, we can barely summon the energy to appreciate our surroundings, let alone how they were conceived.
Like us, past generations have envisioned a future of efficient, aesthetically-pleasing airports, and our 137-year archive certainly yields a few fantastical gems.
If you're like most people, there's a thought that runs through your mind anytime you're checking into a flight, passing through airport security, changing terminals at the last minute, trying to sort out a missed connection, or standing close to anything an airline has touched: "There has to be a better way to do this." And you would be right. Southwest Airlines took a big step toward the future of commercial flight this week by implementing GPS satellite-guided landings.
Northrop Grumman has released a new photo of their carrier-based attack drone, the X-47B. It's due to make its first flight later this year as part of the Navy's J-UCAS program seeking a multi-purpose sea-based drone.
Piloting a plane older than two of the three crew on board, a Swiss team shattered Steve Fossett's around-the-world flight record by almost ten hours over the weekend, the first time the record has been set in this weight class with refueling stops. But the pilots didn't just have to negotiate the usual headwinds and bad weather -- their flight was nearly derailed by a volcanic eruption in Iceland that forced them to make an extra refueling stop and add an unexpected 12th leg to their journey.
In 1983, engineers at General Electric experimented with an "unducted fan" engine. Without the external casing, airflow through the blades increased, delivering more power for the same amount of fuel. The thing was loud, but the company pressed on because the trick could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 26 percent. Then fuel prices dropped, gas guzzling became acceptable, and GE mothballed the project. Now that airlines are again conscious of fuel costs and carbon, the idea is back, and new tech is making it feasible.