Boeing is frantically trying to save face in the wake of several electrical failures and at least one fire on several of its its much ballyhooed 787 Dreamliner airliners. Authorities in the U.S. and Japan are currently investigating the fires, and now one of the world’s best known inventors has chimed in by criticizing the battery technology onboard the planes.
I expect most Engineering on the Edge readers are old enough to remember GoldenEye. For those who don’t remember the flick (or didn’t see it), the plot revolves around a weapon that is capable of using electromagnetic pulses to destroy electronic equipment. Now, science fiction once more becomes science fact with the successful test launch of the CHAMP missile. Minus the femme fatales.
Boeing’s CHAMP missile (Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project) uses high power microwaves in place of GoldenEye’s electromagnetic pulses, but the end result is the same. The microwaves knock out electronic devices without causing any collateral damage or inflicting casualties in the target area. Continue reading
As noted previously, Curiosity’s landing on Mars is an amazing feat of engineering and another step forward for the exploration of space. In this period of monetary woes, some people have questioned whether the funding used for Curiosity might have been better spent elsewhere. I’m not going to say the $2.5 billion cost was cheap, but compare that to the approximately $14.4 billion spent on the 2012 Olympics and it might not seem quite as bad.
NASA’s cash flow has seen a steady decline since the heady days of the Apollo program, leading to the current plan of using commercial entities for manned trips to the International Space Station (ISS) and other such near-Earth jaunts. Currently, the U.S. is forced to rely on the Russians for travel to the ISS at the cost of $60 million a passenger. While that might seem expensive, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the nearly $1 billion per shuttle mission.
The April 30 date was set after the completion of NASA’s flight readiness review. This was to be the second SpaceX demonstration launch for the space agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule will launch from Cape Canaveral, conduct a series of testing procedures, and then rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station (ISS).
After SpaceX announced the delay, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, William Gerstenmaier, issued a statement: Continue reading