AerospaceThe technology and science of commercial and military air and space flight
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At the recent International Space Development Conference in Huntsville, Augustine committee member and CEO of XCOR Aerospace Jeff Greason gave a talk on the goals of human spaceflight. While he discussed many things that I agree with (in particular, making the use of off-planet resources a high priority), one idea in particular stood out. Greason [...]
June 03, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
We’re still not sure whether to take the folks at Copenhagen Suborbitals seriously in their quest (eventually) to launch people into space. But they plan to test-launch their HEAT-1X rocket from the Baltic Sea tomorrow. The last attempt, in September, was ruined by a liquid oxygen valve failure. Now they’ve regrouped for another try, with [...]
June 02, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
This video of Endeavour‘s picture-perfect landing at 2:35 a.m. today offers a little surprise, even for some veteran shuttle watchers. Can you guess what we’re referring to? If you guessed the flickering light at the base of the vertical tail, you’re spot on. And if you stuck with the video to the 1:20 mark, the [...]
June 01, 2011 | By Mike Klesius
In 1966, Second Lieutenant Larry Liss was on the Czech-German border during a snowstorm, freezing his varlata off, when he saw something beautiful. It was a Bell UH-1 helicopter, still on the ground. The pilot—who was wearing short sleeves and drinking a cup of coffee—took one look at Liss and shook his head. “He said, [...]
May 31, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Landing a shuttle while re-adapting to gravity can be disorienting. Now there's a way to simulate it on the ground.
May 31, 2011 | By Mark Betancourt
Since 1963, hundreds of artists (and musicians, poets—even one fashion designer) have interpreted NASA’s aeronautic and space projects. The artists were given carte blanche to create what they wanted, in any medium, on any subject. In celebration of NASA’s 50th anniversary in 2008, more than 70 diverse artworks from the program began touring the country [...]
May 27, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Whether it's a single letter or a 100-foot greeting, aircraft carrier crews stand ready to spell it out.
May 27, 2011 | By Roger Mola
A few random thoughts on Day 11 of Endeavour‘s last flight: Tomorrow STS-134 astronaut Mike Fincke will become the U.S. record holder for time spent in space, eclipsing chief astronaut Peggy Whitson’s 377-day mark. Not bad for a guy who once washed out of Air Force fighter pilot training. “My arms weren’t golden enough to [...]
May 26, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s special address to Congress – a request for supplemental appropriation for a variety of projects but most famously remembered for the announcement of his Man-Moon-Decade goal of Project Apollo. That event, cited by space advocates and excerpted in space and history documentaries, is remembered as [...]
May 24, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
During World War II, the Smithsonian Institution aided the war effort in many different ways. An “Ethnogeographic Board” was established to act as a clearinghouse for government wartime needs, and one of their major undertakings was the “Survival Project,” requested by the U.S. Navy. Smithsonian historian Pamela Henson writes in “The Smithsonian Goes to War: [...]
May 24, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
In this time of endings for the space shuttle, there are still a few firsts left. On Saturday morning, Pope Benedict XVI made the first ever papal “visit” (via video link) to astronauts in orbit. In many ways it was an extraordinary conversation, ranging from the future of space exploration to condolences (to Paolo Nespoli [...]
May 23, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
The “glass cockpit,” named for the new generation of flat panel, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), is commonplace now in all types of aircraft from the Cessna to the space shuttle. LCD technology began to appear in earnest in the 1990s. Today, with the continued price plunge of electronic displays, the perforated instrument panel, like that [...]
May 20, 2011 | By Mike Klesius
With just one space shuttle flight left to go, every milestone on the current STS-134 mission is poignant for the astronauts and other folks who work on the program, and for those of us who’ve been watching them for a long time. Here’s a scene we’ll see only once more: A shuttle full of astronauts [...]
May 19, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
From bomb-bearing balloons to the Global Hawk.
May 18, 2011 | By Ed Darack
In the history of aviation, there were ideas that didn’t quite work out. Take the Avro VZ-9-AV Avrocar, one of ten odd aircraft profiled in the Smithsonian Channel film “Unbelievable Flying Objects.” (It’s number 5). The U.S. Air Force became interested in the Avrocar as an early “stealth” aircraft that could hover beneath radar, then [...]
May 17, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
A perennial hand-wringing topic among policy geeks is America’s decline in math and science proficiency. This sentiment has been expressed the entire 30 years I’ve worked on space science and exploration – new generations don’t care about space, can’t do math and science, can’t think properly and ...
May 14, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
A post-splashdown scandal did not undermine the mission’s scientific achievements.
May 13, 2011 | By Diane Tedeschi
Plenty of buzz going around about the mysterious stealth chopper left behind by U.S. Navy SEALs after they shot and killed Osama bin Laden last Monday morning, local time, in Pakistan.Having suffered technical problems and a hard landing, the helo apparently couldn't fly back out of bin Laden's com...
May 06, 2011 | By Mike Klesius
Who can forget billionaire ex-spaceman Jeff Tracy and his five sons (Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon, and John), each named after a Mercury astronaut? Remember how they—through their organization (International Rescue)—um...rescued people...internationally? Ok, so they were puppets. Deal with it, peop...
May 05, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
The first American spaceflight was a triumph—for an astronaut and for a nation.
May 05, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt