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David Szondy

Lead spacewalk officer Allison Bolinger with a prototype of the space snorkel (Photo: NASA...

Putting a snorkel on a space suit seems about as daft as making water wings for a meerkat, but that’s exactly what NASA has done. It isn’t some bureaucratic error, but a serious piece of life-saving engineering inspired by an incident in July, when an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) almost drowned in his own helmet when water started leaking in. Now faced with urgent repairs due to a faulty cooling system, NASA has come up with a quick fix, so a team can venture outside the station in safety while the cause of the leak remains under investigation.  Read More

Lift off of Gaia (Photo: ESA)

A cosmic census got under way this morning as ESA’s Gaia mission lifted off atop a Soyuz–Fregat from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 9:12:19 AM GMT (10:12:19 AM CET). The 2,030 kg (4,475 lb) unmanned probe is at the start of a five-year mission to carry out a survey of one percent of one percent of the 100 billion stars that make up our galaxy as part of a project to produce the most detailed three-dimensional galactic map ever attempted.  Read More

The Mini John Cooper Works concept will debut at the North American International Auto Sho...

The holidays are a time for stocking stuffers and BMW has given us one with a hint of what’s to come in the new year. On Monday, the car maker announced that it would present the new Mini John Cooper Works concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2014, running January 13 to 26 in Detroit. Since we’re getting just a taste of what is still a concept, there aren’t a lot of details and BMW is keen to talk more about style than engineering, but we do get a bit of an idea of what this track-oriented concept is about.  Read More

The tests aim at reducing the weight of the SLS by 20 percent (Image: NASA)

On December 9, NASA began what is either an impressive engineering test or a classic example of world-class larking about. At the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, engineers are crushing an enormous can by subjecting it to almost one million pounds of force. This may seem like a party trick that’s gone out of control, but there’s a serious reason behind this … or so NASA says. The crushing is part of the project to design the fuel tanks for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which will be used to launch the Orion spacecraft and deep space missions.  Read More

The spacewalks have delayed the flight of the Cygnus cargo ship (Image: NASA) Christmas will be another work day for the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) this year. While many Earthlings are sitting down to turkey and plum pudding, NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins will be carrying out the third and final of three spacewalks announced by NASA managers on Tuesday.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Successor submarine (Image: Ministry of Defence)

As part of an update to Parliament on the progress of the Trident replacement program, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released a concept image of the Royal Navy’s next ballistic nuclear missile submarine. This coincides with the awarding of two contracts to BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines for £47 million (US$76 million) and £32 million (US$60 million) to begin preliminary design work on the nuclear-powered submarines, currently called the Successor class, which are intended to replace the Navy’s aging fleet of of Vanguard-class boats by 2028.  Read More

The famous Earthrise photo from Apollo 8 (Image: NASA)

When the first astronauts landed on the Moon, it wasn’t a straight jump from Earth to the lunar surface on the first try. Instead, the first footsteps only came after a long series of preliminary steps, one of which was a manned orbital mission to the satellite. This December 21st marks the 45th anniversary of the day in 1968 when Apollo 8 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and into history as the first manned mission to orbit the Moon. It not only paved the way for Apollo 11, but is also seen by some as a greater achievement than the Moon landing itself.  Read More

The new suit undergoing neutral buoyancy testing (Image: NASA)

Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. NASA is carrying out initial tests on a new, lighter spacesuit for use by the crew of the Orion spacecraft that is currently under development. The tests are being carried out in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on a modified version of the pumpkin orange suit normally worn by Space Shuttle crews during liftoff and re-entry and is a return to a space suit design of the 1960s.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Juno flyby (Image: NASA)

If you want to have a starship captain’s view of flying past the Earth, then NASA is happy to oblige. This week, the space agency released a video made of images taken by the Juno space probe as it shot past our planet last October. The unmanned spacecraft was using the Earth’s gravity to build up its velocity by over 8,800 mph (14,100 km/h) and slingshot it on its way to Jupiter. And as it did so, it took the time to receive a “Hi” from ham radio operators back home.  Read More

The Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) is designed to track space debris and small objects

In order to dodge something, you need to see it. If that something is space debris then sometimes the best thing to use is an old-fashioned telescope – or, in the case of the US Department of Defense, a state-of-the-art telescope capable of searching an area larger than the United States in seconds. That’s why DARPA is preparing to deliver the new Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) to Western Australia, where it will help track small satellites and space debris orbiting the Earth when it becomes operational in 2016.  Read More

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