Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Unmanned

Technicians at Lockheed Martin prepare the InSight Mars lander for propulsion proof and le...

At some point in every project, you stop unpacking the parts and start putting them together. What's true for flat-pack furniture is also true for spacecraft, so Lockheed Martin has begun the Assembly, Test and Launch Operations (ATLO) phase of NASA's INterior exploration using Seismic investigations, geodesy and heat transport (InSight) Mars lander project. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the unmanned InSight probe will be the first deep-drilling mission sent to the Red Planet.  Read More

Artist's concept of New Horizons flying by Pluto (Image: NASA)

In what must be history’s longest distance wake up call, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft comes out of hibernation on December 6 at 3:00 pm EST. Now about 2.9 billion miles (4.6 billion km) from Earth, and 162 million miles (260 million km) from Pluto, the spacecraft will be put through a month-long preparation for its six month flyby of Pluto, with the primary phase of the mission slated to begin on January 15.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Philae lander (Image: ESA) (Image: ESA)

After its historic landing on a comet, the Philae spacecraft has gone silent. Trapped on its side in a shadowed hole, the unmanned European Space Agency lander was unable to receive enough sunlight to recharge its battery and contact was lost today at 00:36 GMT when power levels dropped below critical.  Read More

First surface image from Philae after comet landing (Image; ESA)

During Wednesday’s historic landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency's Philae lander suffered a setback that may cut its mission short. Due to equipment malfunctions, the unmanned, washing machine-sized lander failed to secure itself to the surface of the comet. In the 1/100,000 gravity, Philae bounced back into space twice, eventually landing in a hole about a kilometer (0.6 mi) from its designated landing area, where its batteries may not be able to charge properly.  Read More

Large military aircraft, such as the C-130 transport pictured above, could be converted to...

DARPA has submitted a request for information on how to turn existing military aircraft into "aircraft carriers of the sky." Ideally, the successful response would allow large manned aircraft to launch and recover multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), whilst requiring only minimal cost-effective adaptations to existing aircraft.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Philae lander at site Agilkia (Image: ESA)

Last month, ESA designated the spot where Rosetta’s Philae lander will touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as "Site J." However, the space agency didn't think that was zippy enough, so it's now known as "Agilkia," after an island on the Nile.  Read More

The spacecraft’s components have all been assembled, including the launch abort escape tow...

NASA and Lockheed Martin announced on Thursday that they have completed final assembly and testing of the Orion spacecraft, which is designed to carry NASA astronauts on deep space missions. This clears the way for the first test flight in December as NASA prepares to re-enter the manned spaceflight business.  Read More

The ScanEagle 2 boasts a reciprocating internal combustion engine propulsion system specia...

Since its first flight in June 2002 and introduction to the US Navy in 2005, the ScanEagle UAV developed by Boeing subsidiary Insitu has received a steady stream of improvements, including a short-wave infrared (SWIR) camera and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and clocked up over 800,000 combat flight hours over land and sea. Now Insitu has announced the next generation of the platform in the form of the ScanEagle 2.  Read More

The accident occurred less than 20 seconds after lift off of the Antares rocket (Image: NA...

At a press conference arranged only a few hours after the event, NASA released details of the explosion of the Antares rocket carrying the unmanned Cygnus supply ship to the International Space Station (ISS). The space agency said that the launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia, where the 240,000-kg (530,000-lb) rocket went up in flames seconds after lift off has been cordoned off by firefighters until daylight because of the on-going hazards from fires, and scattered solid and hypergolic fuel from the Antares.  Read More

No personnel were injured in the explosion, however the launch facility itself was damaged...

An unmanned resupply mission to the International Space Station has suffered a catastrophic failure six seconds after launch from the Wallops Island launch facility, Virginia. All personnel have been accounted for with zero injuries, however damage was sustained to the launch site.  Read More

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