Aeronautics & Space

Inflatable ceramic heat shield a success

By / September 3, 2009

An inflatable heat shield was successfully tested, demonstrating for the first time that light, flexible devices could be used to protect a spacecraft as it enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. The outside of the shield is made of several layers of 3M’s Nextel heat-resistant fabric woven from thin strands of ceramic. This covers several…

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Score another first for aerogel

By / August 20, 2009

Artist’s rendering of Stardust’s aerogel packs. Credit: NASA NASA reported Monday that the aerogel grid that was carried by the agency’s Stardust spacecraft captured an amino acid, a finding that suggests that some of the building blocks of life may be present in much of the universe. The amino acid is glycine, the smallest of…

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New Mars rover to employ largest heat shield

By / July 24, 2009

NASA’s next Mars rover’s massive heat shield is finally ready for the robot. It is the largest heat shield ever built for a spacecraft destined for the red planet. The extra size is needed because this rover – dubbed Curiosity – is about the size of a small car and could endure temperatures up to…

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National labs top list of R&D 100 award recipients

By / July 21, 2009

R&D Magazine hosts the R&D 100 Awards, which are presented annually to researchers who have developed the year’s 100 most outstanding advances in applied technologies. ACerS just learned that 49 out of the 100 awards were presented to U.S. national labs. The labs competed in an international pool that included universities, start-ups and large corporations.…

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3-2-1, Liftoff!

By / July 16, 2009

After five failed attempts, space shuttle Endeavour lifted off at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the STS-127 mission to the International Space Station. Endeavour’s flight will deliver the final components of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory to the ISS. The 16-day mission will include five spacewalks and the installation of two…

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Would 441 pounds satisfy your sapphire craving?

By / July 11, 2009

Rubicon Technology claims it has successfully grown the world’s largest Al2O3 crystal, a boule that weighs in at 200 kg (441 lb). The company says it plans to use the material to form “high quality large-size optical windows and next-generation wafer products with dimensions over 12 in.” This is quite a leap for Rubicon. Normally,…

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Proposal for new space heat shield

By / June 22, 2009

As NASA and other space agencies send space vehicles on missions that bring them closer and closer to the sun, one problem is finding improved heat shields. Recently, a group from Johns Hopkins University announced it has some innovations to offer for near-solar environments, using a shield with an alumina optical surface. Their research is…

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