Imagine an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that could fly for days rather than hours, aiding soldiers on reconnaissance missions or supplying emergency communications to disaster-affected regions. AeroVironment, which built the first human- and solar-powered airplanes, has successfully flown a prototype of a UAV that will be able to remain at high altitudes for longer than a week at a time. Unlike earlier solar-powered systems, which had to power the vehicle and store enough electricity for nighttime flying, Global Observer uses fuel-cell-powered electric motors to drive eight propellers.
Meade's RCX400 is the first consumer scope that comes out of the box with all the features you need for optimal stargazing and astrophotography. In addition to its GPS tracking, it has a built-in cooling fan, a motorized focuser, and a heater to keep condensation off the lens. Its mirrors can be aligned electronically, and it offers customized settings for different celestial targets.
10- to 16-inch apertures; $5,150 - $16,400
Most business jets don't get anywhere near their maximum range traveling at top speed. The Dassault Falcon 7X, unveiled in February, is the exception. Its long, slender wings help lift the plane to 41,000 feet even when fully loaded (other jets must burn significant amounts of fuel to reach similar altitudes, where airplanes operate more efficiently) and suffer less drag at high speeds than do other wing designs. The result: a 6,560-mile range while traveling at 530 mph. Advanced flaps and slats let the Falcon land at slower speeds and on shorter runways.
Pointed at the surface of Mars, the half-meter telescope on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will reveal structures as small as three feet wide-cracks in the canyons, rock outcroppings that had been just a blur. Scientists hope the craft, which launched in August and will take up orbit around the planet in March, will be able to spot the twin Mars rovers still tirelessly rolling across the surface and trace the fate of the European Space Agency's failed Beagle 2 lander. Ground-penetrating radar will further
the search for water.
"A bullet hitting a bullet" is how NASA scientists described the Deep Impact mission. The 800-pound copper-and-aluminum impactor positioned itself in comet Tempel 1's path and, on July 4, slammed into it, offering a first-ever peek inside a comet. Sensors on the spacecraft that launched the impactor analyzed the detritus, which was packed with surprising ingredients such as carbonatesminerals typically formed in liquid waterand aromatic hydrocarbons, the principal ingredients of soot.
XSS-11 is an experimental Air Force technology demonstrator designed to track other satellites. Controllers simply tell the spacecraft where to look for a piece of orbiting hardwareanother U.S. satellite, for instanceand the XSS-11 autonomously plots a course, accelerates to the object, and begins to orbit and observe. It's the first step toward automatic satellite inspection and repair.
A $50,000 contest aims to inspire new ways to hoist you and your luggage into orbit
By Patrick Di JustoPosted 10.11.2005 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
Space travel is relatively cheap compared with the cost of leaving Earth. The space shuttle, for instance, burns more than half a million gallons of fuel blasting into orbit, making every pound of payload cost $10,000. Now the nonprofit Spaceward Foundation, with a $400,000 grant from NASA, hopes to fast-track the technology to reach space on the cheap, without rockets.
New technology. New methodology. T/Space has a plan for getting to space that's so crazy it just might work
By Michael BelfiorePosted 09.13.2005 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
It's a scene reminiscent of NASA's glory days, back when men still walked on the moon. A space capsule descends under a canopy of three orange-and-blue parachutes, swaying gently in the breeze. The spacecraft splashes down in the Pacific at a leisurely 15 miles an hour, and the chutes settle into the water beside it. A recovery boat rumbles into position beside the spacecraft, and divers hit the water.
With NASAâ€™s New Orleans fuel-tank factory out of commission, shuttle repairs could suffer serious delays
By Michael BelfiorePosted 09.12.2005 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
When Hurricane Katrina roared through the U.S. Gulf Coast on August 29, devastating New Orleans, it shut down a major NASA facility, bringing the space agency's seemingly endless struggle to resume shuttle flights to a swift halt. The Michoud Assembly Facility, located about 15 miles east of the French Quarter, manufactures and repairs the space shuttle's giant external fuel tank-the same tank whose shedding insulation led to the destruction of Columbia in February 2003 and grounded the shuttle fleet last July.