Aerospace TechnologyInventions and engineering achievements, including rockets, jet engines and navigation systems
Robonaut 2—the humanoid robot soon to be tested as an astronaut’s helper on the International Space Station—is being powered up for the first time this morning (screen shot at left). Since arriving on the space shuttle last February, the robot has been sitting on its pedestal, lifeless. It won’t be commanded to move for a [...]
August 22, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
Hint: Plan ahead.
August 2011 | By Mark Huber
In the 1950s, engineers at Cleveland's brand-new supersonic wind tunnel battled shock waves, unstarts, and the local power company.
August 2011 | By Jeremy Davis
August 2011 | By J.R. Dailey
Quick: What’s the strangest way to deliver mail that you can think of? By mule? On foot? By ship? By airplane? How about by missile? That’s right. More than one person thought delivering packages by rocket was an excellent idea. Our neighbor, the National Postal Museum, notes that Austria and Germany were the first countries [...]
July 01, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Air travelers, fear not.
July 2011 | By Jack Williams
Sikorsky’s X2 is more hot rod than helicopter.
July 2011 | By George C. Larson, Member, NAA
Wallops Island and I don’t get along. Twice in the last two years I’ve made the long drive from my home in ex-urban Washington D.C., hoping to finally see an orbital launch from this quaint and historic launch site on Virginia’s eastern shore. Twice I’ve come away empty-handed. It happened for the second time Tuesday [...]
June 30, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
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
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
From bomb-bearing balloons to the Global Hawk.
May 18, 2011 | By Ed Darack
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
Late in 2014, a radically different type of rocket propulsion is set to show up on the International Space station for a period of experimentation.The technology is called the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR). It's a rocket engine that uses electricity to ionize a gas such as...
May 02, 2011 | By Mike Klesius
A community of alternative rocketeers who may one day dominate the space biz.
May 2011 | By Stephen Joiner
...And the high-tech horse it rode in on.
May 2011 | By Dino Brugioni
On May 5, 2011, Bonhams auction house will hold its annual space history sale. (The date commemorates the 50th anniversary of Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard's suborbital flight in Freedom 7.) Some 250 items are up for grabs, a few coming from the Forbes Collection, others from the personal collect...
April 28, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
Each year, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) and the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) organize an art contest meant to encourage young people to become familiar with (and participate in) aeronautics, engineering, and science."The quality of the art we see is unbeliev...
April 25, 2011 | By Rebecca Maksel
I became fascinated by the Xbox 360 Kinect system long before it hit the stores—back when Microsoft was still developing it under the name Project Natal. The commercial product hasn't yet delivered on the full promise of this demo, but I expect that it will, and fairly soon. Kinect is already the f...
April 18, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
You've heard of the UAV (unmanned air vehicle). Now check out the AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle): The REMUS 6000. It looks like a yellow torpedo. It's a lot smarter. And it dives a lot deeper.Yesterday, the tenacious underwater 'bot located at long last the remains of Air France flight 447, w...
April 05, 2011 | By Mike Klesius
Wow. Aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal would have loved this. German automation company Festo has built a "SmartBird" modeled on the herring gull that, according to the company, can take off, fly, and land autonomously—just by flapping its wings.The design features a number of innovations, including...
March 28, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt