NASA being in the frontier of astrophysics is always working on developing better ways to discover the history of our galaxy and the universe. The next project NASA is working on is going to be the Mars 2020 rover, it’s going to be a more developed and better engineered rover and expected to launch in 2021. The rover will be designed to investigate the environment on Mars and possibly collect Martian soil and rocks that may show evidence for an ancient life on Mars. More importantly; this mission is going to mark the first of many missions to Mars because the scientists are looking to find ways to bring soil and rocks back to earth. The Mars 2020 rover is going to mark a significant milestone in NASA’s journey to discovering the cosmos.
The Mars 2020 rover will include new scientific instruments that will aid in exploring the red planet. For example, the new rover will carry entirely new subsystems to collect soil and rocks that will be placed in tubes and then deposited at a secure location for returning to earth on future missions. Not to mention the technological advances on the camera systems and the parachute system for when the rover lands on Mars. Microphones are another tool that can provide useful information to the engineers; microphones have traveled to the red planet on previous rover missions but never have been used on the surface of the red planet. This will be a great chance for the people to be able to hear the sounds of Mars for the first time.
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From the skies of New Zealand, NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) has successfully launched a super pressure balloon (SPB) to investigate the balloon’s enhanced technology on enduring long flights which could last over 100 days. This was also an opportunity to complement the SPB with a sophisticated telescope such as The Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) to explore the origins of galactic positrons, examine the galaxy’s nucleosynthesis, and measuring polarization from Gamma ray eruptions and black holes. This launch is the second attempt of equipping the SPB along with The Compton Spectrometer and Imager for a multi-purposed exploratory mission.
The enormous 18.8 million cubic foot balloon has flown in a trajectory path of 110,000 feet in altitude in just over 2 hours. The SPB was guided by the winds of Wanaka, New Zealand to float all the way to southern Australia before crossing over to the stratosphere zone. Depending on wind speeds in the stratospheric region, it has been estimated by NASA that the gigantic balloon will circumnavigate the globe once every one to three weeks.
Not only this, the launch is also considered the fifth attempt of testing the Carolina Infrasound Instrument’s (CII) performance in the stratospheric space to record acoustic wave field activity. Previous experimental trials using the University of North Carolina’s developed instrument (CII) was believed to record low frequency sounds that are new to science. Prior attempts were not as operational since the weather conditions weren’t convenient enough to launch the SPB out to the stratosphere. NASA’s current record for the SPB flight is 54 days. Residents in countries such as Argentina, South Africa and others that are in the southern hemisphere region may actually see the balloon floating during its journey, especially during sunrise.
These similar experiments by NASA are now introducing a new approach for future scientific explorations related to astrophysics and other atmospheric related studies near outer space, at a significantly lower cost.
Today the NASA Flight Facility in Virginia is managing the SPB program with at least 10 flights annually from different launch sites worldwide. Alongside with Orbital ATK which provides planning and engineering services to the balloon program, the CSBF crew has managed to launch over 1,700 pressure balloons over a period of 35 years.
NASA has reached another milestone with the successful two-minute test launch of its biggest rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), bringing the space agency one step closer to Mars.
The startup test took place in Promontory, Utah, and was streamed online on NASA’s website for the public. After the successful completion of the 82 qualification objectives set, the booster in now competent to fly. The first time the test took place, it was conducted in 93 degrees Fahrenheit. The second time, the booster was launched at only 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order to test out how the propellant will burn under different temperature conditions. During this last test, the equivalent of 3.6 million pounds of thrust were needed for takeoff.
When the SLS is finally launched in 2018, the temperature of the 5-segment booster will reach around 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit and launch the Orion spacecraft with enough force to break free from the Earth’s gravity. Further advancements in technology to make the mission possible are still needed, especially since a bigger rocket with more power is needed to even come close to Mars. The launch of the SLS and Orion is currently on schedule, with different parts of the rocket undergoing production.
Perhaps the most ambitious part of Mars exploration, is NASA’s plan to send a manned aircraft to Mars in the 2030s. This breakthrough would mark the start of human presence in deep space.
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Gulfstream engineers have developed a way to enhance the quality of the design process. The integration of the new 3-D projection technology will ensure customers get exactly what they envision. This removes the need for a 2-D phase, which required engineers to first create a design on a flat surface. That process did not always deliver the same design intended to, as 2-D designs do not take into account the curved surfaces aircrafts have. That is what makes the addition of the new 3-D technology a revolutionary. The execution of the paint schemes is even better than the already state-of-the-art paining process. In addition, any changes in the design can take place in real time. This provides both technicians and customers with the knowledge of the design throughout the entire painting process, ensuring 100% satisfaction with the completed aircraft.
Accuracy is a key component of the 3-D projection technology. It gives engineers an edge during the execution process. The 3-D mapping software lets engineers know how to correctly shape each image to reflect it accurately on the surface. This software is based on another commercial 3-D software used in aircraft manufacturing- the Delta Sigma Co.’s Projection Works. This program is used to map out where fasteners and other connectors should be located in an aircraft.
The implementation of the new 3-D technology gives everyone exactly what is envisioned every step of the way and cuts the amount of anticipation in waiting for the final product. The execution of the paint schemes through the 3-D projection technology pioneered by Gulfstream is sure to lead other manufacturers to change the way they handle their printing process.
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On May 22, 2016, Chris Ziegler posted an article on The Verge that talks about how Airbus’s subsidiary APWorks has created the world’s first 3D printed motorcycle. APWorks suggest that this motorcycle might be the lightest in the world. The motorcycle weighs approximately 75 pounds or 35 kilograms. The motorcycle is considered to be all electric which is comprised of aluminum. The terminology APworks uses to describe this material is “Scalmalloy” which is comprised of a custom aluminum alloy powder that may or may not have the same amount of strength at as titanium. In order to create the Scalmalloy, APWorks has to compress much of this material together to create the desired custom aluminum.
APWorks calls this the Light Rider. The Light Rider as the capability to go up to 50 miles per hour or 80 kilometers per hour. The Light Rider can go from 0-45km/h in an incredible timeframe of 3 seconds. This is according to Ziegler in the realm of superbikes. The Light Rider also has a battery that can be swapped out. The battery has 35 miles or 60 kilometers on charge, ready to go.
So far, at this time, APWork has manufactured 50 of these Light Riders. These are roughly $55,000 per unit. Although a bit pricey for the average individual, the Light Rider as least gets market exposure which can work in APWork’s favor.
APWorks is a subsidiary of Airbus Group. Airbus Group was founded in 2000 with headquarters in Leiden, Netherlands. There is also a main office located in Blagnac, France.
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Chad Trautvetter wrote an article on May 5th 2016 on AIN Online talking about NASA and how it is working on its ATC Aircraft Ground Datalink. Engineers from the NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio NASA are working on an FAA Bombardier Global 5000 plane. NASA was working on a wireless communication system for the aircraft while it was on the ground. This project was coined the Aeronautical Mobile Airport Communications Systems (or AeroMacs for short). This demonstration took place at the NASA Glenn communication, navigation, and surveillance test facility.
Here is what Paul Nelson, the Glenn’s project manager for Cyber Security and Secure CNS, has to say about this project.
“This was the first time we provided this type of information to an airplane over a ground wireless network.”
The demonstration yielded results that showed that the aircraft could be able to transmit aviation information while the plane was taxing at a speed of 70 mph on the runway located at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. In order to transmit this data, there was FAA technology that was complete.
Here is what NASA has to say about the project.
“Together, AAtS and AeroMacs will improve situational awareness and reduce the potential for human error by giving pilots access to the information they need to make decisions. The trials consisted of three test cases designed to evaluate performance of both the AAtS and AeroMacs technologies. We demonstrated that AeroMacs can simultaneously transport multiple services seamlessly.”
NASA, also known as National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was formed on July in 1958. Now it currently has over 17,000 employees.
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and NASA are in the process of developing and refining a Dragon spacecraft intended to launch to Mars by 2018.
A manned mission to Mars has been a long-term goal for SpaceX, and with that possibility in sight, their goal is to reach even further. Elon Musk, the SpaceX founder recently announced on Twitter that the new Dragon will be designed to land anywhere in space. Mars will be its first destination.
The current Dragon model carries a significant amount of cargo to Earth, but this new project aims to have humans transported as well. The Dragon has an internal capability the size of a sports utility vehicle, which will provide an environment that is not only comfortable, but also safe for those on board.
Currently, versions of the Dragon’s cargo capsule are flown to and from the International Space Station under SpaceX’s contract with NASA valued at just under $2 billion. Meanwhile, under another contract valued at $2.6 billion, SpaceX is working on making the Dragon capsule available for astronauts to be transported as well.
NASA has made a statement informing that it will not take part in SpaceX’s Mars mission financially. Instead, NASA has announced that they will be providing technical support in exchange for data from SpaceX. Information on entry, descent, and landing, that could be essential for the firm’s own mission to Mars planned for some time in the 2030s.
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Effectively immediately, an angle-of-attack (AoA) indicator is now a standard feature across the board for the Cessna 172 cockpit. This standard offers general aviation pilots a most critical tool in preventing loss of control accidents. Cessna, who is a subsidiary of Textron Aviation, launched the Cessna 172 Skyhawk equipped with the Safe Flight SCc AoA system on April 5th at the Sun-n-Fun fly-in in Florida. The exact same technology can now also be found as a priced option for the 206 Turbo Stationair and the Cessna 182 Skylane.
Scott May, Textron vice-president of Piston Aircrafts has expressed his excitement with the changes citing,
“We are thrilled to work with Safe Flight to bring this latest enhancement to the cockpit, providing an improved flying experience for our customers.”As many within the aviation field can attest, loss of control is the leading cause of general aviation injuries and fatalities. It often occurs shortly after the aircraft takes off or right before it lands as the pilot is often making low-speed turns in the pattern. With the Safe Flight SCc system, the integration of a lift transducer in the leading edge of the wing allows the system to feeding AoA data to a dashboard-mounted display in the cockpit that will alert a pilot through a series of lights when he/she is approaching stall conditions. Stalling conditions almost always invariably leads to an unrecoverable loss of control at low altitudes.
With AoA systems now becoming more popular after a new standard for low-cost systems was developed in 2014 by an industry group. They were able to reduce the price of the technology from more than $10, 000 per unit to now as low as $2,000. It’s only a matter of time before this becomes an industry standard across all manufacturers.
AoA indicators might seem like the way of the future but pilots with even basic knowledge of aviation history can verify that this has been a topic that has emerged and resurfaced countless times over the past years. Experienced pilots will also tell you that airspeed is a great proxy for AoA and while AoA is a great tool in addition to your standard equipment, it’s not much more informative than the airspeed indicator. Most pilots that have been in the industry for an extended amount of time will preach that the most important thing is to teach pilots how to maintain proper airspeed and practice their stick an rudder skills in addition to all the new technology offered.
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The US Navy just increased its fire power with the brand new Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). Developed by world renowned defense contractor Lockheed Martin, the LRASM is specifically engineered to locate and engage long range enemy targets. Tipping the scales at 2,500 pounds measuring 168 inches long, the LRASM will utilize next generation tracking software to seek out and eliminate a wide variety of enemy vehicles including drones, submarines, aircraft and land targets.
The LRASM is currently progressing through development testing, and the US Navy hopes that it will be fully operational by 2019. Once the LRASM program is complete, the NAVY intends to use them as a first response to important enemy targets.Navy officials expanded upon this idea stating
"The objective is to give Sailors the ability to strike high-value targets from longer ranges while avoiding counter fire. The program will use autonomous guidance to find targets, reducing reliance on networking, GPS and other assets that could be compromised by enemy electronic weapons.”
Although the NAVY will primarily launch LRASM from F-18s and B-1B bombers, they will also conduct test launches from ships using the Vertical Launch System. The NAVY has yet to officially decide which missile to support for their ship to ship application, but if the LRASM can successfully complete its tests then it certainly has a strong case to be selected.
In its current form, LRASM utilizes a digital global positioning system as well as a multimode sensor to seek and destroy individual targets even within a group of other ships. The LRASM program goes hand-in-hand with the NAVY’s current goal of arming the entire fleet with precision longer-range capabilities. Look for Lockheed to collaborate with the NAVY on even more exciting defense projects in the years to come.
Airbus, the French manufacturer of civil aircrafts, has recently announced that the company has been taking into consideration the redesign of their A380 wide body, double deck aircraft. In its current state, the A380 aircraft is the largest passenger airplane in the world, as it is capable of carrying up to 544 passengers in a four-class configuration. In the single class configuration, the A380 aircraft is capable of carrying up to 853 passengers. In order to accommodate the world’s largest passenger airliner, the airports at which this superjumbo aircraft operates have been upgraded with facilities to better serve this large aircraft.
The Airbus A380 aircraft features a stunning stairway which has been designed to resemble the staircases found in an ocean cruise ship. The two levels of this double decker aircraft are connected by a grand stairway in order to make the airplane more attractive to its customers and operators as well as to increase the passenger capacity.
“However, the plane manufacturer noticed, that passengers do not feel the need to walk between the main deck and the upper level during the journeys and the stairway could be redesigned to accommodate as many as 60 passengers without the reduction of the width of seats or the aisle,” suggested Aero Time.
“The passengers would be seated in a 3-5-3 setting, instead of the current 3-4-3 setting. In addition, the crew rest area could be redesigned to create more room.”
At its current rate, the profit margin of the Airbus A380 aircraft remains very low. The aircraft manufacturer has barely broken even with this aircraft, prompting the company to search for new options in order to make the aircraft more attractive to potential carriers. Last year in 2016, the aircraft manufacturer delivered 27 A380 aircrafts as the company was assembling slightly more than 2 aircrafts per month. As of April of 2016, Airbus had received a total of 319 orders for their A380 aircraft. Starting in 2017, Airbus expects the assembly rate to decrease to 1.7 aircrafts per month.