Category Archives: Transportation

Views from the Solar System (230)


Astronaut Reid Wiseman on the First Spacewalk of Expedition 41

NASA – On Oct. 7, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman (pictured here) and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst completed the first of three spacewalks for the Expedition 41 crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacewalkers worked outside the space station’s Quest airlock for 6 hours and 13 minutes, relocating a failed cooling pump to external stowage and installing gear that provides back up power to external robotics equipment. Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore of NASA operated the Canadian robotic arm, maneuvered Gerst during the course of the spacewalk and served as the spacewalk coordinator.

A second U.S. spacewalk is set for Oct. 15. Wilmore will don a U.S. spacesuit and follow Wiseman outside the Quest airlock for a 6-1/2 hour excursion. Gerst will serve as the spacewalk choreographer. The goal of the excursion is to replace a failed voltage regulator component on the starboard truss of the station. They will also move external camera equipment in advance of a major reconfiguration of station modules next year for the arrival of new docking adapters for commercial crew vehicles.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Alexander Gerst

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Updates from GE


A Short Flight for a Jet, A Giant Leap for a Jet Engine

GE – Over the last several weeks, crews at GE Aviation’s flight test base in Victorville, CA, at the edge of the Mojave Desert, installed a next-generation jet engine with ceramic components and 3-D printed parts to the wing of a modified Boeing 747, and readied it for its maiden flight.

The engine, called LEAP, successfully took to the skies on Monday (Oct 6).
(GE)
There are three versions of the jet engine: the LEAP-1A for the new Airbus 320neo passenger jets, the LEAP-1B for Boeing’s 737MAX aircraft, and the LEAP-1C for China’s COMAC C919 planes.

The LEAP is the bestselling family of jet engines in GE history. CFM has received more than $100 billion in orders (U.S. list price) from airlines like United, Air Asia, American Airlines and easyJet. They will use them on single-aisle aircraft, the fastest growing market in commercial aviation. more> http://tinyurl.com/qzqsbqj

Space Launch System (25)


Launch Abort System Installed for Orion Flight Test

NASA – The launch abort system for the Orion Flight Test is lowered by crane for installation on the Orion spacecraft inside the Launch Abort System Facility, or LASF, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The completed crew and service modules will be tested and verified together with the launch abort system. Orion will remain inside the LASF until mid-November, when the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket is ready for integration with the spacecraft.

Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars.

It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.

The first unpiloted test flight of the Orion is scheduled to launch in December atop the Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to an altitude of 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface. The two-orbit, four-hour flight test will help engineers evaluate the systems critical to crew safety including the heat shield, parachute system and launch abort system.

Image Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Views from the Solar System (229)


Fall Colors Arriving

NASA – A few days after autumn showed up on the calendar in the Northern Hemisphere, it showed up on the landscape of North America. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this view of fall colors around the Great Lakes on Sept. 26, 2014.

The changing of leaf color in temperate forests involves several causes and reactions, but the dominant factors are sunlight and heat. Since temperatures tend to drop sooner and sunlight fades faster at higher latitudes, the progression of fall color changes tends to move from north to south across North America from mid-September through mid-November.

In late summer and autumn, tree and plant leaves produce less chlorophyll, the green pigment that harvests sunlight for plants to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars. The subsidence of chlorophyll allows other chemical compounds in the leaves—particularly carotenoids and flavonoids—to emerge from the green shadow of summer. These compounds do not decay as fast as chlorophyll, so they shine through in yellows, oranges, and reds as the green fades. Another set of chemicals, anthocyanins, are associated with the storage of sugars and give the leaves of some species deep purple and red hues.

> More information

Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz at NASA GSFC. Caption by Mike Carlowicz

Updates from GE


Everything is Bigger in Texas, but These New Gas Turbines Up the Ante

GE – Harriet, whose real name is the 9HA, is the largest and most efficient gas turbine in the world.

GE spent more than $1 billion to develop the turbines. The company built a special testing center in Greenville, where engineers are currently putting the first Harriet through tests.

The turbine, which was manufactured at a GE plant in Belfort, France, is equipped with more than 3,000 sensors. They collect mechanical, temperature and exhaust data, and feed it to a brand new data-crunching center next door.

Under the hood, Harriet combines designs and materials originally developed by GE scientists for supersonic jet engines and other advanced technology. They include aerodynamic blades made from single-crystal alloys, thermal barrier coatings and ceramic matrix composites. Later generations of the turbine will also include 3D-printed parts. more> http://tinyurl.com/m2np8km

Updates from BOEING



Boeing – The updated Next-Generation 737 interior offers improvements in passenger comfort and design elements to modernize the cabin.

The package can include new LED lighting, updated forward and aft entry coves, Boeing Sky Interior sidewall panels and air grilles, and larger-capacity stow bins. The upgrades create a greater sense of spaciousness at the ceiling. more> buildsomethingbetter.com/

Space Launch System (24)


Rocket Boosters Prepared For Orion Spacecraft’s First Flight

NASA – Engineers took another step forward in preparations for the first test flight of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft in December. At the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF), at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, the three primary core elements of the ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket recently were integrated, forming the first stage of the launch vehicle that will send Orion far from Earth to allow NASA to evaluate the spacecraft’s performance in space.

The three common booster cores are 134 feet in length and 17 feet in diameter. Each has an RS-68 engine that uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant producing 656,000 pounds of thrust. All totaled, the three Delta IV boosters collectively generate 1.96 million pounds of thrust.

The upcoming flight test will use the Delta IV Heavy to launch the Orion and send it 3,600 miles in altitude beyond the Earth’s surface. During the two-orbit, four-hour mission, engineers will evaluate the systems critical to crew safety, the launch abort system, the heat shield and the parachute system. The data gathered during the mission will influence design decisions and validate existing computer models. The flight also will reduce overall mission risks and costs for later Orion flights.

> Delta IV Booster Integration Another Step Toward First Orion Flight

Image Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky