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David Szondy

The ESA Common Berthing Mechanism is intended to replace other devices, such as this Russi...

Docking is the paradox of spaceflight. On the one hand, it’s as boring to watch as an apple turning brown; on the other, it’s white-knuckle suspense when you realise that tons of paper-thin metal are one misstep away from destruction. What’s worse, the number of different docking port designs makes compatibility a major concern, so ESA is developing a universal docking mechanism that will allow any spacecraft to lock onto any other.  Read More

The cell stacks that are the heart of a home fuel cell system being developed by Fraunhofe...

As the world shifts to alternative forms of energy, ways to make homes less dependent on the grid continue to gather steam. Fuel cells, which are more efficient and have lower emissions than internal combustion engines seem like a logical candidate for taking up the slack, so the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) in Dresden is partnering with the heater manufacturer Vaillant to develop a domestic fuel cell system that uses natural gas to produce both heating and electricity.  Read More

The Solar Impulse 2 made its first flight on Monday

The maiden flight of Solar Impulse 2 took place on Monday morning at Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland. The solar-powered aircraft took off at 5:36 AM CET, when the weather around the aerodrome was at its calmest, with pilot Markus Scherdel at the controls. The aircraft flew for two hours and 17 minutes, reaching an altitude of 1,670 m (5,500 ft) and a ground speed of 55.6 km/h (30 kt). According to Solar Impulse, the in-flight data indicates that the aircraft slated to make the first all-solar global circumnavigation flight performed to expectations.  Read More

Kepler-10c is 17 times more massive than the Earth (Image: NASA/Harvard-Smithsonian Center...

Despite being currently offline, the Kepler space telescope is still turning up surprises. One of them is an Earth-like planet that’s so large that astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics call it a “mega-Earth.” Planet Kepler-10c is 17 times heavier than the Earth, and may require scientists to rethink their ideas on planet formation and the likelihood of life in our galaxy.  Read More

The Linda robot will mingle with visitors to London's Natural History Museum this month

Having a robot around the house might be nice, but not if it keeps stepping on the cat and tripping over the coffee table. This month, the public will get the chance to meet a robot at the Natural History Museum in London that may be a bit kinder to furniture and tabbies. The University of Lincoln’s Linda robot, which will mingle with visitors, is designed to learn about its surroundings and make it easier to work human environments.  Read More

The 35-year old spacecraft will be sent on a new comet flyby mission (Image: NASA)

A 35-year old space probe has come back to life after a 16-year slumber thanks to the world's largest single-aperture radio telescope. Using the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico, the ISEE-3 Reboot Project has re-established contact with the mothballed ISEE-3 space probe. The private organization took control of the unmanned ex-NASA spacecraft and is commanding it to execute functions as part of an assessment of its health before returning it to exploration service.  Read More

The first night-time flight of the Morpheus lander (Image: NASA)

Spacecraft lifting off at night are a beautiful sight, but equally impressive is when one lands in the dark under its own power. NASA’s robotic Morpheus prototype planetary lander did both of those in its first night-time free flight at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which included an autonomous landing in an artificial lunar landscape.  Read More

The Dragon V2 was unveiled at a brief media event

Having teased the public by showing off the SuperDraco engine, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk takes the wraps off the Dragon V2 manned spacecraft that it’s designed to propel. In a brief media event at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters, Musk introduced the larger, more powerful version of the reusable Dragon capsule, which will one day carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth to land under its own power.  Read More

Lasers could dramatically shrink the size and cost of particle accelerators such as the LH...

Particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are wonders of modern engineering and vending machines for Nobel prizes, but they’re also large – as indicated by the LHC's name – and costly. A new theoretical study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center suggests how lasers could dramatically shrink the size and cost of particle accelerator. If the models hold true, it could remove a significant bottleneck from physics research and open up such machines to industrial and medical applications.  Read More

The SuperDraco engine test firing

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is set for an upgrade with the company announcing the successful qualification testing of its SuperDraco rocket engine. Designed to replace the Draco engines used for attitude control on the Dragon orbital spacecraft, the SuperDraco will act as the Dragon’s launch emergency escape system, as well as giving it the ability to make a powered landing on Earth and other worlds.  Read More

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