The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large infrared telescope with a 6.5 meter primary mirror. This telescope will eventually replace the Hubble Telescope. The Webb Telescope is a good deal larger and should be able to provide significantly better images than the magnificent images seen from the Hubble.
Here's a quick run down of the specs:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be taking on several new roles as the US moves into a future of private and commercial space travel. They are currently preparing to issue their first license for re-entry to Space-X for a test flight of their craft, Dragon.
The FAA is also preparing for an expanded role in space travel. According to Irene Klotz of Discovery News, they FAA is currently organizing a research consortium to look into issues of 1) space launch operations and traffic management; 2) launch vehicle systems, payloads, 3) technologies and operations; 4) commercial human spaceflight; and 5) space commerce, including space law, space insurance, space policy and space regulation. If funding goes ahead they will also be establishing a technical operations center at Kennedy Space Center.
Here's a bit of machinery related eye candy. There are some more at the link for mytechnologyworld.blogspot.com listed below.
Maltese Cross / Geneva Mechanism
Constant Velocity (CV) Joint
Bigelow Aerospace has been signing "memorandums of understanding" with various national space interests. The countries that they have spoken to include Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom. These agreements are described as a way for these countries to have a space research alternative to the international space station.
Bigelow Aerospace is currently undergoing a $20 million dollar, 185,000 sq-ft, expansion to it's facilities in Las Vegas. The inflatable space modules they produce will be launched by Atlas 5 rockets in the future. The Atlas 5 rocket is described in the article as being a well tested and the safest option currently available. Bigelow and Boeing have been working on putting together a larger project called the 'Bigelow-provided Orbital Space Complex'. This project will utilize Boeing's CST-100 capsule (from NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program) launched atop the Atlas 5.
On the subject of commercialization of space,
Bigelow said what they have found is a hunger by clients to do activities in space far beyond just microgravity experimentation.
Almost two months, and only a single post! Engineering school has started back up. Time is in short supply. I'll be doing what I can to get my impressive backlog of articles posted, but I can make no promises.
Gostai is encouraging people to submit a programming project that involves Urbi. The contest runs from Sept 15 - Dec 15, 2010.
Gostai will also provide various free environments running Urbi for people entering the contest, which can be used to create the project:
The winners will receive gift cards, software and other schwag.
The little robot shown in the linked video is called Nao, developed by a company called Aldebaran in France. Alok Jha of the The Guardian writes that this robot 'develops and displays emotions' and 'form bonds' with people depending on the person's mood. It looks to me as though the people at Aldebaran have programmed a few emotional postures and that those emotional postures are triggered by very specific cues from the user. This falls short of the claim.
Bill Nelson, a US Senator from Florida has proposed the creation of 5 'space capital' investment zones within the United States. This proposal is outlined in an amendment to the 1986 Internal Revenue code titled 'Commercial Space Jobs and Investment Act 2010'.
The bill would set aside 5 locations, to be determined by the Commerce Secretary, which would provide investment monies and a 20% tax break for qualified 'commercial space entities'. The areas to be designated must have 'high unemployment and economic dislocation in the public space sector' and 'well developed human and capital infrastructure and the capacity to effectively use Federal tax incentives to promote progress in commercial space capability, including crew and cargo transportation systems, research and technology development and other potential activities in low-Earth orbit.'. There are a few other sections of the Bill that dictate the potential locations for the economic zones.
On August 16th, Tracy Dyson and Douglas Wheelock successfully installed a new cooling pump on the International Space Station. The installation took two weeks and three spacewalks to complete. The repair was initially scheduled to take two spacewalks, but the old cooling pump released some ammonia after being unstuck from the station. This hazardous ammonia release was concern for caution during the installation.
There are two cooling pumps on the Space Station. If the second pump had failed before the repair was completed, the space station would have been abandoned because the station would not have been safe for the astronauts. When the first cooling pump stopped functioning, many of the experiments and machinery on board needed to be shut down.
According to the International Energy Agency, China has overtaken the US as the world's largest energy consumer. The United States still blows them out of the water with our per-capita demand for juice.
According to Jonathan Watts in the UK Guardian:
China's use of coal, oil, wind and other sources of power more than doubled in the past decade to reach the equivalent of 2.26bn tonnes of oil in 2009, creeping past the US total of 2.17bn tonnes
China is currently a major importer of coal from Australia. Presently, 50% of the nation's oil is imported. This could, and according to the Guardian, does have major ramifications for international energy markets. The Chinese have becomes a huge driver in the price of energy world-wide. In the same vein, the Chinese could become a major global driver for clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, and nuclear.
Gorilla Glass is a product from Corning. Originally developed in 1960, it was then called 'Chemcor'. Corning made only two changes to the composition of the glass in order to re-release it as Gorilla Glass in 2008.
What makes this glass neat is that it is wicked strong. The glass is 2 to 3 times stronger than other versions of lime-soda glass, even at half the thickness. According to Corning's website, "Currently, Gorilla glass is available as-drawn in thicknesses ranging from .5 mm – 2.0 mm." This additional thinness can make products such as televisions lighter and less expensive to ship. It is currently in use in some handheld and touch screen devices.
The process by which the glass is made sounds pretty neat too:
"Corning devised an ingenious method called "fusion draw" to make super-thin, unvaryingly flat glass. It pumped hot glass into a suspended trough and allowed it to overflow and run down either side. The glass flows then meet under the trough and fuse seamlessly into a smooth, hanging sheet of glass.
Professor Roman Kezerashvili recently presented at the International Symposium on Solar Sailing at New York's City College of Technology. The topic of his presentation was using a sail sail space craft to test one of the hypothesis of Einstein's general theory of relativity, namely the frame dragging hypothesis.
What is the Frame Dragging Hypothesis
Frame Dragging predicts that a spinning object will drag space time around itself as it spins. This effect will move an object out of the position predicted by Newtonian physics. There are three types of frame dragging effect listed by Wikipedia; Rotational, Linear, and Static Mass Increase. It sounds like the solar sail would test the Rotational Frame Dragging effect. From WikiPedia:
United Space Alliance, the private contractor which has been servicing NASA's space shuttle will layoff 1394 workers in October 2010. NASA has two scheduled flights of the shuttle remaining to complete the space station. After that, the maintenance contracts will no longer be needed.
There is some possibility that a Senate draft bill may change these plans by creating a third shuttle flight, or directing NASA to maintain some ability to carry large equipment to the space station in case of emergency.
Buckyballs, a molecule also known as C60 or C70 depending on the number of carbon atoms within the molecule, has been observed forming naturally in space. The buckyballs were discovered in the planetary nebula Tc-1 about 6500 light years away in the constellation Ara. On earth, laboratories have been able to create buckyballs by vaporizing graphite in the presence of helium. Until now the natural occurrence of buckyballs has been theoretical.