KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Ending months of suspense, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden today announced the winners of a national competition to display the agency's three space shuttles after the fleet is retired and decommissioned later this year, choosing sites in Florida, California, and, as expected, the Washington, D.C., area.
Speaking on the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle flight on April 12, 1981, Bolden said the shuttle Discovery, NASA's senior orbiter, will be displayed near Washington at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
The shuttle Atlantis will remain at the Kennedy … Read more
The crew of the International Space Station joined Russian leaders and space officials, their NASA counterparts, and international partners around the world to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's launch on April 12, 1961, to become the first human in space.
"In the 20th century, it has become the most extraordinary event, the most significant event not only in Russia but the whole world and we're very proud of the fact that the first cosmonaut went into space on April 12, 1961, and he was our compatriot," Anatoly Perminov, director general of the Russian space … Read more
Thirty years on, NASA's space shuttle program is now in its last lap, but its place in history is assured.
On the morning of April 12, 1981, the shuttle Columbia, strapped to an enormous external fuel tank and a pair of solid rocket boosters, lifted off on its maiden voyage--and launched a new era in the Space Age. Never before had there been a spacecraft that could be used over and over again, that could land on Earth like an airplane--a glider, specifically.
That flight lasted 2 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes, and 53 seconds, in which time … Read more
TOKYO--Robots and remote-controlled heavy machinery finally got to work at the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear plant in an effort to minimize human exposure to radiation as Japan raised the severity of the disaster from 5 to 7, putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.
A month after the 9.0-magnitude March 11 earthquake, operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) deployed three remote-controlled excavators equipped with cameras to clear radioactive debris around the unit 3 reactor, according to a Tepco spokeswoman.
The excavators were donated by two Japanese construction companies. Remote-operated power loaders sent to Japan by Qinetiq North America … Read more
"Fire the laser!" may sound like something straight out of "Star Wars," but that phrase could one day be common on U.S. Navy ships.
Northrop Grumman and the Office of Naval Research recently concluded a series of successful solid-state laser defense firing tests aboard the decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer USS Paul F. Foster (a remotely driven self-defense test ship). The Maritime Laser Demonstrator zapped away at an assortment of objectives at the Pacific Ocean Test Range off the central California coast, including land-based targets and remotely driven small boats that traveled at various speeds.
It was the first time a laser of such strength had been fired from a moving ship at sea. This is also the first system to be integrated with a Navy ship's radar and navigation system, ensuring a much higher level of accuracy. The U.S. Navy collaborated with the Office of the Secretary of Defense's High Energy Joint Technology Office and the Army's Joint High Powered Solid State Laser program to bring this once-imagined weapon to life. … Read more
NEW HAVEN, Conn.--In an ambitious attempt to replicate nature, various researchers are seeking to create fuels from water and sunlight, much the way plants do.
California Institute of Technology professor Nate Lewis on Saturday gave a snapshot of the "swing for the fences" research his lab is pursuing to make fuels directly from water and sunlight. Caltech last year was picked as the lead for a newly created Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) to run the Department of Energy's Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub.
During a talk at the Yale Climate & Energy Institute's annual conference, Lewis described the concepts driving his research and what form a solar fuel generator could take.
The sun is the largest source of energy, but storing solar energy with conventional means, such as batteries, is very expensive, he said. The notion behind his research is to store solar energy in the chemical bonds of fuels. Light-duty transportation will move toward electric vehicles because they are more efficient than internal combustion engines, but there is still a need for liquid fuels in other forms of transportation or to generate power when there is no sun.
"It's inevitable that we will find a way to efficiently take the biggest energy source we have in the sun and store it in chemical fuels, thereby obviating the storage problem, thereby having a drop-in replacement fuel, and thereby solving the (fuel) infrastructure problem," he said. "We are going to do this. The question is how fast and how soon." … Read more
For conspiracy theorists, it sounded like a giant step closer to their "Eureka" moment.
Earlier, the British publication The Sun set the ticker hopping with a report that "real-life FBI X-Files have emerged sensationally claiming flying saucers piloted by aliens did crash on Earth." The Telegraph published a similar piece and the Internet did the rest. It wasn't long before their lead was followed by dozens of other publications around the world.
A call to the FBI may have helped, where the only news at the agency's Washington headquarters was that traffic to its … Read more
Sure, Bobby Boy Scout can tie a square knot and start a fire using flint and steel, but can he build a robot? If so, he'll now be able to sew a robotics merit badge to his sash.
The badge is part of the Boy Scouts of America's new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum. One of 31 STEM-related merit badges, it's a nod to robots' increasingly wide-reaching impact and part of the BSA's ongoing attempt to teach its ranks relevant skills.
"While the guiding principles of scouting--service to others, leadership, personal achievement, and respect for the outdoors--will never change, we continue to adapt programs to prepare young people for success in all areas of life," BSA Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca said in a statement.
Earning the bot badge will mean a scout not only has a handle on actuators, sensors, and programming, but on the myriad ways robots are tightening their metallic grip. … Read more
In this week's episode of Crave, Eric and Donald break out of the podcast studio and follow the trail of vodka and servos to BarBot 2011, an expo of cocktail robotics. Based on Vienna's annual Roboexotica festival (a government-funded exercise in motor-controlled hedonism that runs four days), San Francisco's BarBot is equal parts science fair and nerd cocktail party. Highlights included the White Russian Hippie Maker, the Drink Making Unit 2.0, iLush 2, and the gravity-defying Cosmobot 2.0.
Usually, when someone says "this is the coolest thing I've ever seen," you know that no matter what they're looking at, they're resorting to a little hyperbole.
But today, when I saw two videos taken from the window seat of a Virgin America flight that show Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo flying alongside in tandem (give the video about 35 seconds before the spaceship appears), my reaction was, well, "this is the coolest thing I've ever seen."
And that was before hearing the audio of the person shooting the video saying … Read more