Archive for the ‘Space and Aviation’ Category
The more cynical among us would argue that allowing cellphones in-flight is only a guarantee of an even more unpleasant trip, at least for anyone wanting a distraction-free cabin. There must still be a few optimists: Boeing is promising that future production runs of the 747-8 and 777 will have the necessary support for in-flight cellphone use, live TV and internet access that comes through either headrest screens or WiFi. Aircraft with the upgrade should roll off the production lines before the end of 2013, and they’ll be following a slight change to the 787 later this year that makes the technology support a common option. Some of us may wind up reaching for the earplugs in countries where regulators approve in-air wireless, but there’s definite upsides for all but the biggest curmudgeons — Boeing’s moves could lead to more ubiquitous in-flight WiFi next year, on top of ready-made wireless media streaming due in 2014.
SOURCE via Tecca
The battle amongst full-size pickup trucks from Ford, Chevy and Ram is as close to a bloodsport as the auto industry has, but now it might be Toyota that gets the last laugh in the tonnage towing race. In what should prove to be the mother of all publicity stunts, a showroom-stock 2012 Toyota Tundra will tow the space shuttle Endeavour to its final resting place at the California Science Center.
How exactly does a bone-stock, half-ton pickup tow almost 300,000 pounds, you ask? A quarter mile at a time using a specially designed rig.
Endeavour will be towed 12 miles from Los Angeles International Airport to the museum on October 13, and the Tundra will hitch up to the shuttle for the last quarter mile of the trip. The towing rig was made specifically for this event, allowing the full-size Tundra to pull almost 30 times its regular towing capacity. Toyota says that the truck used to tow Endeavour will be a stock V8 Tundra with no enhancements or modifications.
The Endeavour exhibit opens at the California Science Center on October 30, joining other airplanes and spacecraft including the capsule from the Gemini 11 mission. The Tundra that tows the shuttle will remain on display at the museum as well.
SOURCE via Toyota
You don’t have to wait for an FAA rethink to use your iPad on an airliner below 10,000 feet — if you’re part of an American Airlines crew, that is. As of this month, the air carrier is the first cleared by the FAA to use iPads in the cockpit at every point during a flight. The program starts just with Boeing 777 pilots at first, but it should eventually grow to save $1.2 million in weight-related fuel costs per year across the airline, not to mention a few trees and the strain of 35-pound flight bags. American is confident enough in the tablet switchover that it plans to stop handing out any paper updates to its charts and manuals as of January, just days after its entire fleet gets the regulatory nod for iPads at the end of this year. We just wouldn’t anticipate Android or Windows tablet rollouts anytime soon. American isn’t opposed to the concept, but it’s only promising that slates beyond the iPad will be “evaluated for use” if and when the FAA applies its rubber stamp.
SOURCE via TheNextWeb
NASA isn’t just interested in extra-terrestrial exploration, but in pushing the boundaries of atmospheric flight as well, which is why it’s just awarded $100,000 in funding for the supersonic plane concept shown above. As you can see, the symmetrical plane is basically all wing, and that’s because it has two different configurations based on how fast you want to go. For normal, subsonic flight, a plane needs a decent wingspan to get off the ground and sustain flight at lower speeds. But, when you want to go supersonic, large wings become a bit of a drag, which is where the concept’s bi-functional design comes in. The plane begins its journey in the long-winged setup, but spins 90 degrees amongst the clouds to use its stubby wings for efficient faster-than-sound flight and “virtually zero sonic boom.” Gecheng Zha from the University of Miami has been touting his concept for quite some time, but now he’s got the cash to refine the design, run simulations and do some wind tunnel testing, with the potential for more funding in the future. Unfortunately, the concept is, at best, decades from becoming a reality, but we’re sold on the ninja star-like design. Guile, however, is not impressed.
SOURCE via NASA
Folks over in the US of A have been utilizing Gogo’s up-in-the-air wireless amenities for quite some time now, which isn’t something we can say about our dear neighbors from The Great White North — unless, of course, you count the company’s current Aircell’s Gogo Biz service. That said, Gogo’s finally received the go-ahead to bring its in-flight WiFi goods to both commercial and business planes that are traveling within Canada and cross-border to the States, allowing the internet provider to deliver “seamless service” all-around. According to Gogo, the network will be fully operational by the end of next year, with the company assuring fellow Canadians that they, too, can “soon experience the same technology that has a proven track record of performance and reliability in the U.S.”
SOURCE via GoGo
It’s hard to find a good specialist on earth, let alone when you’re floating 240 miles above it. That’s why NASA will test the Microflow, a breadbox-sized device that instantly detects cancer and infectious diseases, and can even sense the presence of rotten food. The Canadian-made device is a “flow cytometer,” which works by analyzing microparticles in blood or other fluids and replaces hospital versions weighing hundreds of pounds. Here on Earth, the device could let people in remote communities be tested more quickly for disease, or permit on-site testing of food quality, for instance. It will be particularly advantageous in space, however, where Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield will test it during his six-month ISS mission, allowing crew to monitor, diagnose and treat themselves without outside help. Now, if we could just get it down to a hand size, and use some kind of radio waves instead — oh wait, that’s not until Stardate -105352.
The stargazers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have released a huge three-dimensional map of outer space, a core part of its six-year survey of the skies. Encompassing four billion light-years cubed, the researchers hope to use the map to retrace the movements of the universe through the last six billion years. Using the latest Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III), the center says the data will help improve their estimates for the quantity of dark matter in space and the effect that dark energy has on the universe’s expansion, “two of the greatest mysteries of our time” — if you’re an astrophysicist. Even if you’re not, you’ll still want to board the animated flight through over 400,000 charted galaxies — it’s embedded after the break.
NASA’s Curiosity rover hasn’t even been on Mars a full 24 hours, and already the science world is reaping the benefits. Nerds, too, actually. The shot above is the the first high(ish) resolution photo shown to the public from its cameras, depicting a shadow of its top, a peculiar Martian landscape and the three-mile Mount Sharp. Just beyond the break, you’ll find video footage of the intense descent onto Mars’ surface. It’s a low-res stop-motion affair displaying 297 frames as it found its way from space to a foreign land. Trust us — it’s worth the 1:03 time investment.
The Enterprise has been on what we’d call a very leisurely trip around the East coast, but it’s finally time for the original Space Shuttle to settle down. As of Thursday, the only way to glimpse the prototype spacecraft will be under an inflatable roof at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. It’s a quiet yet noble end for the vehicle, which didn’t go on formal missions but set the ground– sorry, spacework for the Shuttles that came later. If you’re interested in seeing more animated forms of the Enterprise’s legacy, you can either sit down to watch its namesake TV franchise or follow the private expeditions that owe it a debt of gratitude.
SOURCE via phys.org
3D printing may still be in its infancy, but at least one Airbus designer sees things progressing quite a bit over the next 40 years or so. As Forbes reports, the company’s Bastian Schafer has been working on a new concept plane for the last two years with other Airbus designers — one that would largely be “printed” using a hangar-sized 3D printer. “It would have to be about 80 by 80 meters,” he told Forbes, adding that such a thing “could be feasible.” According to Schafer, 3D printing could not only lead to some significant cost savings, but also allow for parts that are 65 percent lighter than those made with traditional manufacturing methods. Naturally, the concept plane itself is also a showpiece for a raft of other new technologies, including a transparent wall membrane, a 100 percent recyclable cabin, and “morphing” seats that could harvest body heat from passengers. You can get a peek at what the plane might look like in the video after the break.