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
NASA announced on Tuesday that Blue Origin had successfully test fired its new BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine at the company’s West Texas facility in Van Horn. The test, which took place on November 20, was a series of static firings to simulate the engine sequence of an actual suborbital flight from lift off to landing and is part of the development of Blue Origin’s manned Orbital Launch Vehicle for carrying passengers and cargo into low Earth orbit. Read More
What do you wear on your wrist, is one-third the size of a deck of cards, and helps you troubleshoot your latest electronics project? The Oscilloscope Watch, of course. The Swiss army knife of electronics, this tiny test lab (or bulky watch) includes a 2-channel oscilloscope, frequency analyzer, arbitrary function generator, and a protocol sniffer. The price? An amazing US$125. Oh yes ... it also tells time. Read More
After a 70-year absence, it appears that a new rigid frame airship will soon be taking to the skies over California. Aeros Corporation, a company based near San Diego, has received experimental airworthiness certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin flight testing the Aeroscraft airship and, as these new photographs of the airship undergoing tethered testing show, the company has wasted no time in getting started. Read More
Legendary science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) scored another hit in the prediction department on Monday, July 23, 2012 when NASA tested an inflatable heat shield that he foresaw back in the 1980s. The test of the Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by rocket into a suborbital trajectory from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA. The unmanned vehicle reached velocities of up to 7,600 mph (12,231 kph), yet was protected from atmospheric heating by the mushroom-shaped shield. Read More
Six years after the initial announcement that Terrafugia, Inc. would develop a "roadable airplane", the Transition has completed the first phase of flight testing. The flight testing, carried out at Plattsburgh International Airport in northern New York State, assessed the light sport aircraft's full performance envelope. The Transition prototype was reported to perform "exceptionally well", allowing the testing to be carried out quickly. Read More
Your spacecraft is falling from the skies at an initial speed of Mach 25. Your reentry heat shield, that has to survive a 7,800 degrees Celsius (14,072° F) plasma shock, is a finely tuned hi-tech amalgam of refractory metals and carbides and reinforced carbon-carbon ablation materials. Care to replace your mighty heat shield with a balloon? Not likely! But that is exactly what NASA is considering. Read More
A team of scientists from the UCSF School of Pharmacy, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and SeaChange Pharmaceuticals has developed a set of computer models that can predict negative side effects associated with existing drugs. By speeding up the process and increasing accuracy, the software could potentially save billions in research and decrease the number of animals used in toxicity tests. Read More
According to figures reported by the University of Tennessee, even though 85 percent of a child’s learning is vision-related, about 80 percent of American children have never had their eyes tested before starting kindergarten. Even when tests are performed, they are usually only capable of detecting no more than a couple of conditions. Unfortunately, this means that vision-related learning disabilities such as dyslexia can be missed, and may not be noticed until they are well-established. Now, however, researchers at U Tennessee’s Space Institute have developed a new type of vision-testing system for young children, that could catch a variety of vision problems while they’re still reversible. Read More
In the same way that polluted water can be deceptively clear, polluted soil can just look like plain old dirt. Given the contaminants that can be left behind by gas plants, oil refineries and other industries, however, it's very important to check that the soil in an area isn't toxic, before building houses or growing crops there. Presently, soil samples have to be sent off to laboratories, where processing can take up to two weeks. British entrepreneur Ed Bell, however, has invented a briefcase-sized soil-testing unit that can be carried into the field, where it provides results within minutes. Read More