Governmental Aerospace ProgramsThe Federal Aviation Administration, air mail, space programs and military aviation
If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at this video of the Martin Aircraft Company’s recent mile-high test of its personal jetpack and safety parachute system. The flight topped out at 5,000 feet, but could have gone higher. While a dummy was on board for this test, the New Zealand-based company is marketing [...]
June 13, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
We don’t generally give shout-outs to fellow bloggers, but in this case it’s deserved: Paul Spudis, who writes the “Once and Future Moon” blog on this site, recently won the National Space Society’s Space Pioneer Award for finding what may be a way out of the doldrums that currently afflict U.S. space policy. That isn’t [...]
June 10, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
Maybe the most amazing thing about this photo is that it took 12 years of docked operations before someone got a picture of the space shuttle attached to the International Space Station. But here it is. Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli captured this view on May 23 from the departing Soyuz spacecraft. Click on the photo [...]
June 07, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
Not a day goes by without some TV news reporter asking an astronaut or NASA official, “How do you feel now that Americans will have to rely on the Russians to get to orbit?” Folks, we’ve been doing that for 16 years. Tomorrow the Soyuz TMA-02M is scheduled to blast off from Kazakhstan, bound for [...]
June 06, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
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
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