Friday, October 31, 2014

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Just Crashed During A Mojave Test Flight [Updated]

SpaceShipTwo
Virgin Galactic

We will continue to update this post as new details become available.

There’s a shadow looming over the private spaceflight industry this week. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital rocket just experienced an “in-flight anomaly" during a test run in the Mojave desert. While the company hasn’t specified what that anomaly is just yet, multiple reports are pointing to some kind of crash. If so, it marks this week’s second high-profile disaster for private spaceflight, following the explosion of Orbital’s Antares rocket shortly after takeoff on Tuesday.

According to Spaceflight Now, first responders to the scene indicated that there was wreckage from a crashed aircraft. Eye witnesses also report seeing the explosion and subsequent debris.

We drove to one of the debris sites. Debris from the ship was scattered all over the road. @VirginGalactic #SpaceShipTwo

— Parabolicarc.com (@spacecom) October 31, 2014

It’s assumed that two pilots were aboard SpaceShipTwo, as most test flights of the spacecraft include two pilots.  ABC7 reports that one person was taken away from the scene on a stretcher.

RT @ABC7: #SpaceShipTwo UPDATE: Rescue crew seen carrying person on stretcher to chopper http://t.co/fahuxdltQ7 http://ift.tt/1G33Q0h

— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) October 31, 2014

Designed for space tourism, SpaceShipTwo is the followup to Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipOne, which was the winner of the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004. Powered by a rocket motor, it is meant to take passengers to the edge of space and then glide back down to Earth, landing on a runway like a plane. In May 2014, Virgin Galactic announced that SpaceShipTwo would be switching fuel types for its rocket engine -- utilizing a plastic-based propellant rather than a rubber-based one.

We will continue to update as we get more information.

Update 3:05 PM

Virgin Galactic just released a statement to NBC News:

"Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier today.  During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle.  The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely.  Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time.  We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so."

The WhiteKnightTwo is a cargo aircraft used to lift the SpaceShipTwo.

Update 3:17 PM

The FAA announced that airspace "from the surface up to and including 12000 feet" is closed to provide a safe environment for rescue. Local news from Bakersfield revealed what the crash site looks like:

A Piece Of SpaceShipTwo Wreckage
screenshot, ABC

The California Highway Patrol has an update on the pilots:

BREAKING: California Highway Patrol reports 1 fatality, 1 major injury after SpaceShipTwo accident.

— The Associated Press (@AP) October 31, 2014

Update 3:44 PM

The FAA has released an official statement about the incident:

"Just after 10 a.m. PDT today, ground controllers at the Mojave Spaceport lost contact with SpaceShipTwo, an experimental space flight vehicle. The incident occurred over the Mojave Desert shortly after the space flight vehicle separated from WhiteKnightTwo, the vehicle that carried it aloft. Two crew members were on board SpaceShipTwo at the time of the incident. WhiteKnightTwo remained airborne after the incident. The FAA is investigating.

Please contact Scaled Composites about the condition of the crew members."

Update 4:01 PM

Joel Glenn Brenner, a former Washington Post reporter, did a telephone interview with CNN, talking about her experiences with Virgin Galactic. Brenner has been covering the company and is currently writing a book about SpaceShipOne. She had a few harsh words to say about the readiness of the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. "This engine that exploded today, even if they had had a successful flight and even if they had not stolen my friend's life, they would not have ever gotten anywhere near space with this engine," said Brenner.

She also went on to say that the crash of SpaceShipTwo marks a huge setback for Virgin Galactic . "They do not have any vehicle anywhere near completion. This really marks the end for what they can do."

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is reportedly en route to the Mojave Spaceport.

Thoughts with all @virgingalactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I'm flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team.

— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) October 31, 2014
read more "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Just Crashed During A Mojave Test Flight [Updated]"

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Just Crashed During A Mojave Test Flight

SpaceShipTwo
Virgin Galactic
There’s a shadow looming over the private spaceflight industry this week. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital rocket just experienced an “in-flight anomaly" during a test run in the Mojave desert. While the company hasn’t specified what that anomaly is just yet, multiple reports are pointing to some kind of crash. If so, it marks this week’s second high-profile disaster for private spaceflight, following the explosion of Orbital’s Antares rocket shortly after takeoff on Tuesday.

According to Spaceflight Now, first responders to the scene indicated that there was wreckage from a crashed aircraft. Eye witnesses also report seeing the explosion and subsequent debris.

We drove to one of the debris sites. Debris from the ship was scattered all over the road. @VirginGalactic #SpaceShipTwo

— Parabolicarc.com (@spacecom) October 31, 2014

It’s assumed that two pilots were aboard SpaceShipTwo, as most test flights of the spacecraft include two pilots.  ABC7 reports that one person was taken away from the scene on a stretcher.

RT @ABC7: #SpaceShipTwo UPDATE: Rescue crew seen carrying person on stretcher to chopper http://t.co/fahuxdltQ7 http://ift.tt/1G33Q0h

— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) October 31, 2014

Designed for space tourism, SpaceShipTwo is the followup to Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipOne, which was the winner of the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004. Powered by a rocket motor, it is meant to take passengers to the edge of space and then glide back down to Earth, landing on a runway like a plane. In May 2014, Virgin Galactic announced that SpaceShipTwo would be switching fuel types for its rocket engine -- utilizing a plastic-based propellant rather than a rubber-based one.

We will continue to update as we get more information.

Update 3:05 PM

Virgin Galactic just released a statement to NBC News:

"Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier today.  During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle.  The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely.  Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time.  We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so."

The WhiteKnightTwo is a cargo aircraft used to lift the SpaceShipTwo.

Update 3:17 PM

The FAA announced that airspace "from the surface up to and including 12000 feet" is closed to provide a safe environment for rescue. Local news from Bakersfield revealed what the crash site looks like:

A Piece Of SpaceShipTwo Wreckage
screenshot, ABC

The California Highway Patrol has an update on the pilots:

BREAKING: California Highway Patrol reports 1 fatality, 1 major injury after SpaceShipTwo accident.

— The Associated Press (@AP) October 31, 2014

Update 3:44 PM

The FAA has released an official statement about the incident:

"Just after 10 a.m. PDT today, ground controllers at the Mojave Spaceport lost contact with SpaceShipTwo, an experimental space flight vehicle. The incident occurred over the Mojave Desert shortly after the space flight vehicle separated from WhiteKnightTwo, the vehicle that carried it aloft. Two crew members were on board SpaceShipTwo at the time of the incident. WhiteKnightTwo remained airborne after the incident. The FAA is investigating.

Please contact Scaled Composites about the condition of the crew members."

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Brazil Is Keeping Its Promise to Disconnect from the U.S. Internet

Brazil Is Keeping Its Promise to Disconnect from the U.S. Internet

Brazil was not bluffing last year, when it said that it would disconnect from the United States-controlled internet due to the NSA obscenely invasive surveillance tactics . The country is about to stretch a cable from the northern city of Fortaleza all the way to Portugal. This is a big deal.

Read more...








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PHOTOS: American Airlines’ First Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Full Livery

American Airlines' first Boeing 787 Dreamliner seen in full livery - Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

American Airlines’ first Boeing 787 Dreamliner seen in full livery – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

American Airlines’ first Boeing 787 came out of paint last night giving us a first glimpse at the Dreamliner in AA’s new livery.

When the airline takes delivery, by the end of the year, they will become the second US-based airline to operate the Dreamliner, after United. American has 16 787-8s and 26 of the larger 787-9 Dreamliners on order.

American's first 787-8 in the paint booth - Photo: American Airlines

American’s first 787-8 in the paint booth – Photo: American Airlines

Learn more and see a few more photos over with our friends at Airways News…

The post PHOTOS: American Airlines’ First Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Full Livery appeared first on AirlineReporter.com.

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This Android smartphone is too thin for a headphone jack

Chinese phone makers have been engaged in a long-running battle to see who can produce the thinnest possible smartphone, and today Oppo has scooped the title with the scarcely believable 4.85mm-thick R5. There is a caveat to that measurement since the camera sticks out from the ultra-slim body of the phone, but this is still the first handset of its kind to fit in under half a centimeter. Oppo has done its best not to compromise a spec sheet that includes a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display, an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, and 13-megapixel camera, however the small 2,000mAh battery and the absence of a headphone jack mark significant drawbacks for the R5.

Continue reading…

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NATO worried by an “unusual level of Russian air activity over European airspace”: 19 warplanes intercepted today

Il-76_and_Tu-95_over_Moscow_on_Victory_Day_Parade

Russian air activity across Europe is surging: three more formations intercepted today.

As reported yesterday, on Oct. 28, the German Air Force Eurofighter jets on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) to provide NATO Baltic Air Policing were scrambled to intercept 2x MiG-31 Foxhound, 2x Su-34 Fullback, 1x Su-27 Flanker and 2x Su-24 Fencer jets over the Baltic Sea.

The following day, Oct. 29, three large packages of Russian planes skirting NATO “airspace” were detected and monitored by aircraft on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) in both northern Europe and Turkey.

“These sizable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace,” said NATO in an official statement.

At approximately 3:00 a.m. CET NATO radars detected and tracked eight Russian aircraft flying in formation over the North Sea, in international airspace.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force scrambled its F-16s in QRA that intercepted and identified the Russian aircraft as four Tu-95 Bear H strategic bombers and four Il-78 tanker aircraft.

In what can be seen as a “show of force”, two of the Russian strategic bombers flew parallel to the Norwegian coast, heading to the south-west and were intercepted by Eurofighter Typhoon jets scrambled by the Royal Air Force (whereas the remaining 6 Russian Air Force planes returned towards Russia).

West of Portugal the two Bears were intercepted by F-16s from the Portuguese Air Force.

According to NATO, “The bomber and tanker aircraft from Russia did not file flight plans or maintain radio contact with civilian air traffic control authorities and they were not using on-board transponders. This poses a potential risk to civil aviation as civilian air traffic control cannot detect these aircraft or ensure there is no interference with civilian air traffic.”
Later on the same day, whilst the Tu-95 returned towards Russia, NATO radars detected and tracked four Russian aircraft flying over the Black Sea in international air space: 2 Tu-95 Bear-H bombers and 2 Su-27 Flanker fighter jets.
Turkish Air Force F-16s were scrambled and intercepted the Russian aircraft in international airspace.
During the afternoon of Oct. 29 October, NATO radars detected and tracked 7 Russian planes over the Baltics (needless to say, in international airspace): 2x MiG-31 Foxhound, 2x Su-34 Fullback, 1x Su-27 Flanker and 2x Su-24 Fencer jets (these were probably the very same aircraft intercepted on Oct. 28).
Portuguese F-16 Fighters assigned to the Baltic Air Policing Mission were scrambled from Šiauliai, Lithuania. It’s unclear whether they reached the package or not; anyway, the Russian Air Force planes returned to Russia’s airspace.
Image credit: Wiki
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Microsoft Unveils $199 'Microsoft Band' Fitness Wearable

Shortly after apps on the Mac App Store and iOS App Store revealed Microsoft's fitness wearable, the company has revealed its $199 Microsoft Band fitness wearable to Re/code. The device will go on sale tomorrow at Microsoft's online and retail stores.

microsoft-band_hero_2
The Microsoft Band is designed to last 48 hours on a single charge and can be worn all day and all night, as it tracks both physical activity and sleep. It includes 10 sensors that track standard health statistics like heart rate as well as unique points of data that other fitness bands do not track, like a UV sensor to measure sun exposure and galvanic skin response, which can identify stress. Like smart watches, the Band can also receive notifications from a user's smartphone.

Microsoft is also launching a cloud-based health service called Microsoft Health, which can gather data from both the Microsoft Band and other fitness data gathering devices, like smartphones and other fitness bands. The service spans the web and multiple mobile platforms like iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The Windows Phone app, however, integrates Microsoft's voice assistant Cortana.

The company also says that the feature set of device and services will grow, as users will be able to pay for things at Starbucks with the Band and will be able to see how certain events influence health or sleep.
The company also notes that–if customers want to– Microsoft Health can combine work and personal data and gather insights such as how a big meeting with the boss affects that night’s sleep. Other features include access to Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as weather and stock data.
The Microsoft Band goes on sale tomorrow for $199.


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NASA launch of Antares ends in smoke and flames: rocket explodes after liftoff

ant5

NASA's launch of an Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket and Cygnus resupply spacecraft for the International Space Station today ended abruptly when the rocket exploded in smoke and flames shortly after liftoff. This was to be Orbital's third resupply mission to the ISS. Such an incident is referred to in NASA parlance as a "Catastrophic Anomaly." An Accident Investigation Board (AIB) is being assembled to review the mishap. Read the rest

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Building One of the World’s Most Efficient Electric Cars

Tecplot 360 EX helps Stanford University students optimize design of solar-powered car to compete in the Australian Outback’s World Solar Challenge

The sun shines down upon the immense Australian Outback like nowhere else, drenching the land in solar energy that begs to be tapped. Where better to stage the World Solar Challenge, a design competition established to find the world’s most efficient solar-electric car? Every two years, some of the brightest student minds from leading universities around the world, and even some corporate competitors, gather in Australia’s Outback with solar-powered cars they’ve designed and built from the ground up to vie for the champion’s title. This brutally competitive five-day, cross-continental solar race begins in the Northern Territory city of Darwin and runs more than 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) south to Adelaide in South Australia.

“We’re operating with very tight design constraints,” says Guillermo Gomez, team lead for the Stanford Solar Car Project. “We can use no more than six square meters of solar panels, for instance. The solar car has to be a fully-functional vehicle, too, with a suspension, brakes, room for a driver, and so forth. The only two ways we can achieve any real design advantage is through a good power management strategy and an aggressively-shaped aerodynamic design.”

Stanford Solar Car 2013

Stanford Solar Car Project finished fourth in the world at the 2013 World Solar Challenge with this solar-powered car. The car has a carbon-fiber body and is powered by energy from the sun that’s collected by six square meters of solar panels and stored in a battery pack as electricity.


The Stanford Solar Car Project, which finished fourth in the world at the 2013 competition, is a non-profit organization run entirely by students at Stanford University. They have built nine generations of award-winning solar-powered vehicles since 1989, and are presently designing their entry for the 2015 competition. With previous World Solar Challenge winners averaging between 79.67 and 90.7 km/h (49.5 and 56.36 mph) over the course of the race, it’s safe to say that the aerodynamic designs for these solar-powered vehicles are already very finely-tuned. Squeezing a little more efficiency out of the car’s design requires increasingly-powerful and sophisticated tools.

CFD Analysis Helps Students Effect Significant Changes in Design

Fairing Reveal

Tecplot 360 EX image showing pressure and airflow around the leading edge of the car’s main airfoil and right fairing.

“We could improve the battery only so much, so aerodynamics are where we know we can realize the most improvement,” says Gomez. “We had some ideas about what we wanted to do with the body to optimize performance, but needed to test them. That’s when we started collaborating with the SU2 team at Stanford to better integrate more advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) into the design process.”

One key design challenge was optimizing the vehicle’s body for the wide and constant range of cross winds in the Australian Outback. The Stanford team not only had to optimize the body for airflow moving over the vehicle as it moved forward, but also needed to consider how winds might push the side of the body and the wheels from a select range of angles.

Optimizing for frontal drag at 25 meters per second and a range of cross winds, the Stanford team ran their CFD analyses using SU2, the open-source CFD solver code developed in the Aerospace Design Lab at Stanford’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, meshed the car bodies with Pointwise software, and visualized results with Tecplot 360 EX with SZL Technology.

“These three tools integrate so well together that it was easy to set up, run, export, and visualize the data, which was 10 to 15 million cells in size,” says Gomez. “The resulting visuals have been really impressive and very appealing. Of greatest importance, though, the CFD analysis has helped us make significant changes to the body design that should help us compete more effectively.”

There’s still quite a bit of work and testing to be done, and the final design will not be unveiled until the summer of 2015, but Gomez promises that the end result will be a beautiful, aerodynamically-optimized solar-powered car that should give their competitors a run for their money in the Outback.

Leading Edge

Close-up showing pressure and airflow around the main airfoil’s leading edge.

Trailing Edge

Pressure and airflow around the trailing edge of the car’s main body airfoil and the rear of the fairing.

 

Future Applications

The primary objective of the Stanford Solar Car Project is to provide students with valuable hands-on engineering, technical, and business experience while also serving to help raise community awareness of the power of solar-electric energy. But the technologies being developed today also promise to lead to more efficient electric cars in the future, and if history can tell us anything about the future, it may lead to many uses not yet imagined.


Stanford Solar Car Project  |  Tecplot 360  |  Pointwise  | Standford SU2


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Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Entry-Level to Enthusiast DSLR Comparison Guide

Gizmag compares the specifications and features of some of the best entry-level to enthusi...

So you're thinking about getting a new DSLR. Maybe it'll be your first interchangeable lens camera, or you might have been using one for years, but want to scratch the upgrade itch. Either way, we should have you covered with Gizmag's 2014 comparison of the specifications and features of some of the best DSLRs on the market from entry-level to enthusiast models... Continue Reading 2014 Entry-Level to Enthusiast DSLR Comparison Guide

Section: Digital Cameras

Tags: Cameras, DSLR, Photography, Product Comparison

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