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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 2

NASA says SpaceX, Boeing one step closer to launching astronauts

SpaceX and Boeing successfully completed milestones in their effort to launch astronauts into space, according to NASA during a press conference to discuss the Commercial Crew Program.

 

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"I don't ever want to have to write another check to Roscosmos," said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, during the press conference. SpaceX hopes to begin launching personnel into space starting in early 2017, and wants to fly 50 Falcon 9 missions before reaching its ambitious goal.

 

As NASA continues to develop its next-generation space shuttle, the US government has called upon private sector companies to help fill the void. Following political tensions, NASA stopped relying on the Russian government to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA previously relied on SpaceX launches to help resupply the ISS, as additional private sector companies try to jump into the business.

Quadcopter drone crashes on White House grounds, Secret Service says

A government employee crashed a small quad-copter drone on the South Lawn of the White House on early Monday morning, telling the Secret Service he didn't intentionally fly it near the complex. President Obama and Michelle Obama are on a three-day visit in India, but Malia and Sasha are still in Washington.

 

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The drone was reportedly being flown around 3:00 a.m. near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but the pilot lost control and it crashed near the White House.

 

"There is a device that has been recovered by the Secret Service at the White House," said Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, in a statement to the media. "The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House."

Continue reading 'Quadcopter drone crashes on White House grounds, Secret Service says' (full post)

Australian man fined for illegal drone flight thanks to YouTube upload

A man from Queensland, Australia has just received a harsh reminder of the drone flight regulations after receiving an $850 fine thanks to uploading drone flight videos to YouTube - in which he displayed illegal activities.

 

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The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) rang up the Queensland resident, notifying him of multiple breaches he had conducted. He's gotten off lightly as according to CASA, with the investigator stating that "while each individual breach was not major in itself, the number of breaches has caused me concern," as seen on EFTM.

 

As a quick recap of the basic rules, CASA states that non-commercial drone flight must not be conducted:

 

  • Within 3 nautical miles of an airport
  • Above 400 feet in controlled airspace (large towns and cities)
  • Over populous areas
  • Within 30 meters of people
  • At night

Continue reading 'Australian man fined for illegal drone flight thanks to YouTube upload' (full post)

Researchers developing wearable brain scanner able to measure activity

Researchers are working on a portable positron emission tomography (PET) scanner that can be worn to show brain activity throughout the day. Normal PET scanners used in hospitals are large and unable to provide a better understanding of brain function and neurological disorders - but the new device could change that.

 

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Using a helmet that has PET detectors located in a ring, the helmet can help monitor stroke patients while they do rehab, or study when someone with autism has to interact in social environments. If released to hospitals and other researchers, there are a number of different uses for the portable PET scanner.

 

Tested using a brain slice tagged with a radiotracer chemical, the scanner successfully worked, despite capturing images that were a bit fuzzy - which researchers will work to improve

Continue reading 'Researchers developing wearable brain scanner able to measure activity' (full post)

Private drone pilots taking to the skies, but safety concerns mount

Many first-time drone pilots are taking to the skies in the United States, and that has increased safety concerns regarding drone crashes. One such concern is a "flyaway" when the small drones catch a jet stream and simply blow away - and pilots are unaware of how to regain control of the flying craft.

 

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Most consumer drones weigh around 2.2 pounds, and if it was being flown at 400 feet, can yield more than 900 pounds of force if it slammed straight into the ground.

 

"There's just too many people that just have no idea what they're doing flying with their cool cameras," said Bill Stockwell, drone flight instructor at McHenry County Community College, in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. "I fly a competitive 7-foot helicopter that goes about 140 mph. If it was flying at 400 feet, which is legal, it would hit the ground with 2,200 pounds of force. Can you imagine what that would feel like?"

NASA is testing helicopter drones that could be used to explore Mars

Exploring Mars has proven to be a beneficial yet extremely tricky operation for NASA, with the Mars rovers helping yield a lot of insightful knowledge - and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory hopes to use the Mars Helicopter to add to exploration.

 

 

The Mars Helicopter would be able to travel up to three times the distance that either rover can travel in a single Martian day, along with pinpointing new locations for the rovers to explore.

 

The light craft could weigh just 2.2 pounds and measure 3.6 feet from the tip of one blade to the other - and the prototype body looks similar to a medium-sized tissue box. The JPL is currently testing the proof-of-concept in California, with no possible launch dates discussed.

Continue reading 'NASA is testing helicopter drones that could be used to explore Mars' (full post)

Europe, China team up for robotic space mission ready before 2021

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have announced a partnership to launch a robotic space mission that will lift off by 2021. Both programs will share proposals and development duties equally, as each proposal must be signed by a lead investigator from Europe and in China.

 

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Proposals are due in March, peer review begins in April, and mission selection is scheduled to occur before the end of the year.

 

"The goal of the present Call is to define a scientific space mission to be implemented by ESA and CAS as a cooperative endeavor between the European and Chinese scientific communities," the ESA recently said in a statement. "The mission selected as an outcome of the present Joint Call will follow a collaborative approach through all the phases: study, definition, implementation, operations and scientific exploitation."

Continue reading 'Europe, China team up for robotic space mission ready before 2021' (full post)

Commercial drone industry poised to boom over next six years

The consumer and commercial drone markets are booming, despite continued hesitancy demonstrated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the commercial market could rise from $609 million in 2014 to $4.8 billion by 2021.

 

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There are a few verticals that are expected to drastically increase commercial drone use, including package delivery, utility line inspection, agriculture, and for use in oil and gas mapping. The FAA is quickly trying to create guidelines to provide guidance regarding drone flights and safety regulations that must be met by operators.

 

Commercial drones have been used in Japan, Australia and select markets since the 1980s - but with increased hardware developments and lowering costs - will increase in the United States, UK, Western Europe, and other developed nations.

Drug smuggling drone crashes near US-Mexico border, police report

A drone quadcopter flying with more than six pounds of methamphetamine crashed in a parking lot on the Mexico side of the US-Mexico border.

 

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A Mexican citize informed authorities regarding the crashed drone, with police saying the crystal meth was tethered to the drone using plastic materials and black tape.

 

Drug smuggling is a major business for organized cartels in Mexico, with techniques ranging from hiding drugs insides humans and vehicles to using catapults and sophisticated tunnels under the border. The use of drones, however, provides a typically fast, reliable method to smuggle a few pounds of narcotics across the border.

Google teams up with SpaceX for satellite Internet project

Google is wanting to get back into space, where it is teaming up with SpaceX to join its Internet satellite venture. The Mountain View-based search giant has agreed to value SpaceX at over $10 billion, before it invests large sums of money into Elon Musk's space transportation business.

 

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The total round of funding on SpaceX is said to be even bigger, with some very big names throwing their checks into the company. SpaceX wants to launch countless micro-satellites that would operate in low-orbit around Earth, with the company already in the early stages of development. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and real-life Tony Stark has said that this venture will end up providing cheap Internet for the entire world.

 

This project would eventually see wireless networks installed around Mars, when humans get to the point of colonizing the red planet. While satellite Internet is usually considered worse than most wired and fiber methods, it will bring Internet connectivity to parts of the world that wouldn't otherwise receive Internet connections.

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