The people who built the first private aircraft to fly into space are teaming up once again to construct the largest aircraft ever flown, a behemoth air-launched orbital cargo delivery system called Stratolaunch. And SpaceX, the first company to launch a privately built spaceship into orbit, will build the rocket. As a reusable rocket-plus-glider system, it certainly seems like a potential replacement for the space shuttle.
A little less than six months after the final space shuttle launch, a private space company will launch a rocket carrying a cargo capsule bound for the International Space Station. SpaceX said this week that it plans a Nov. 30 launch date for its first rendezvous with the ISS — an encounter that will mark a major milestone in private space exploration.
This is a fairly common scenario during the conflict in Afghanistan: A forward operating base along the Khyber Pass needs supplies, and a C-130 cargo plane is dispatched to deliver them. The plane aims to drop several 2,000-pound pallets carrying food, water and ammunition.
Enemy fire in the area will make a supply recovery mission risky, however. An Army convoy must risk IEDs and sniper fire to retrieve the goods. If only the pallet would only drop more precisely, much closer to the base''s boundaries, the soldiers could stay out of harm's way.
Along with causing water droplets to dance (which you can try at home) and protecting hands from liquid nitrogen (which you should definitely not try), the storied Leidenfrost effect can apparently help reduce drag, possibly cutting fuel emissions for cargo ships.
Hungry? Better turn on your linear induction motor and send a metal capsule through an underground polyethylene tube to retrieve some groceries.
That's the vision of Foodtubes, a UK program that seeks to reduce carbon emissions by building a pipeline-capsule system to deliver food and freight. A series of tubes could ferry 6-foot-long metal bins among neighborhoods, entire cities or even to different countries, moving goods at 60 mph using linear induction motors and intelligent routing software.
He has been crated up and shipped to Kennedy Space Center. At the Space Station Processing Facility there, he is going to be carefully packed into his SLEEPR -- the Structural Launch Enclosure to Effectively Protect Robonaut.
David Bashford of LaserMotive prepares the climber for their award-winning run.
courtesy of NASA
First proposed in 1895, and popularized by the Arthur C. Clarke book The Fountains of Paradise, space elevators have a rich history in the culture of space travel. Unfortunately, the history of their engineering success is far less impressive. But if the results from this week's Space Elevator Games are any indication, that might be about to change.
Forget about carrying cargo by truck, and instead imagine shuttling goods around inside a series of underground tubes. That's the hope of Henry Liu, a 73-year-old retired civil engineer and a past winner of PopSci's Inventions Awards for his environmentally safe green bricks.