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David Szondy

Aircraft

DARPA VTOL X-plane takes flight in miniature

It may look like a backwards airplane with a collection of fans for wings, but a miniature test version of DARPA's Vertical Take-off and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) took to the skies recently. According to the builder, Aurora Flight Sciences, the subscale vehicle demonstrator (SVD) prototype of the LightningStrike successfully completed a series of takeoff, hover, and landing maneuvers at an undisclosed US military base.Read More

3D Printing

Boeing proposes 3D printing "ice" for aircraft certification

In another potential aerospace application for 3D printing, Boeing has filed an application with the US Patent Office for a way to make artificial "ice." The company isn't planning on making novelty ice cubes for the first class passengers (yet), but has come up with a way of printing plastic and composite shapes that can be tacked onto the wings and other surfaces to simulate icing conditions. According to Boeing, this will help to streamline and reduce the cost of the aircraft certification process.Read More

I christen thee RRS Boaty McBoatface?

Last month, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) invited the public to help name its new £200 million (US$284 million) polar research ship. When voting closed on the weekend, the winner by a considerable margin was "RRS Boaty McBoatface," but there are doubts the words "I christen thee RRS Boaty McBoatface" will actually be muttered.Read More

Space

ExoMars opens its eyes en route to the Red Planet

ESA has confirmed that the ExoMars 2016's Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) mothership has opened its "eyes" and sent back its first test images. Launched on March 14 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the joint ESA/Roscosmos mission to Mars was over 83 million km from Earth on April 7 when it transmitted a picture of random section of sky near the southern celestial pole as part of its commissioning process.Read More

Drones

When drones and pork collide

In a display of true awesomeness, researchers from the Drone Research Lab at Denmark's Aalborg University have built a catapult that fires hobby drones at a pork roast. This display of porcine projectile piercing is not only high on the list of conversation starters, it also has the serious goal of finding out more about the safety hazards posed by the tiny aircraft to people and property.Read More

Marine

Underwater robot finds "Nessie"

The good news: The Loch Ness Monster has been captured on sonar by an underwater robot operated by the British division of Norway's Kongsberg Maritime. The bad news: "Nessie" is a prop from a Sherlock Holmes film that sank in the loch in 1969. The monstrous model was long thought lost until it was discovered this week by the Munin Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) as part of an underwater survey of the loch for The Loch Ness Project and VisitScotland.Read More

Space

NASA begins testing electronic sail technology for deep space probes

It took Voyager 1 over 30 years to reach interstellar space, but scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, are testing a new technology that could cut that time by two thirds. The Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS) or E-sail concept is a novel form of propellant-less propulsion that relies on a series of wires to catch the solar winds. The technology promises to reduce the travel time from Earth to the heliopause – about 123 AU (18 billion km, 11 billion mi) from the Sun – to under 10 years.Read More

Space

Lockheed Martin component brings Webb Space Telescope into focus

A key component of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) came through its latest tests at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center with flying colors. According to Lockheed Martin, the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) instrument exceeded its requirements as it went through its Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) testing and will now be integrated into the telescope's instrument cluster for combined testing.Read More

Space

Is this what Planet 9 looks like?

In January, Caltech professor Mike Brown and assistant professor Konstanin Batygin claimed to have found evidence of a ninth planet in the outer Solar System. But if it's there, what is it like and why hasn't it been spotted yet? A possible answer comes from a pair of astrophysicists at the University of Bern, who used models developed for studying exoplanets to determine the structure of the hypothetical Planet 9.Read More

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