The plane that brought America into the Space Age

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Image Credit: NASA

On August 27, 1939 the first jet engine plane was flown by German test pilot Erich Warsitz. While the technology was available during the Second World War, it was not mass produced, so there were very few non-propeller aircraft on either side. Shortly after the war ended and companies stopped manufacturing goods specifically for troops, there were some advances to the jet engine.

Test pilots from around the country flocked to Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California to try out the new aircraft being developed by the military. …


Why SpaceX’s new technology is way ahead of its time

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Image Credit: SpaceX

With a possible six different types, the reusable Starship rocket designed by SpaceX may be one of the most complicated pieces of machinery ever built, and a successor to the American Space Shuttle.

Starship is scheduled to make its first launch in 2023. There have already been a few successful test flights for Starhopper, an aircraft made to model the Starship. The Starhopper’s test on August 27, 2019 reached a maximum height of 150 meters (about 500 ft.), and autonomously returned to the ground without incident.

Granted, a 57 second test without getting too high up in the air doesn’t seem like much compared to a vehicle launching into space and entering an orbit around Earth, but the Starhopper is very critical. to Starship’s success. The Starhopper is a good way to test the takeoff and landing accuracy of Starship and to examine the effects that different conditions may have on the spacecraft. …


Why asteroid mining may be more feasible than most people think

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Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

Mining on Earth is a difficult process. It requires large and heavy equipment to dig up the ground to find just a few fragments of a precious gem. Additonally, mining is taking away the natural environments of many species of animals. Mining here on Earth also causes climate change and deforestation, so why do we do it?

Mining companies exist because when they do find something, it is incredibly valuable. …


Why electric planes sound great, but aren’t very practical, at least for right now.

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Recently, there has been some news circulating the development and testing of a new type of transportation: an electric plane. There have already been many electric planes manufactured that have worked and been able to fly reliably across somewhat long distances. The problem is that they are slow, really slow.

An airplane called the Solar Impulse 2 with solar panels on its wings can fly continuously using nothing but solar power and advanced aerodynamics. The drawback is its lack of sheer power, moving at an average speed of 28–34 miles per hour. …


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Image Credit: AeroMobil

For years, people have been wondering when the general public will have access to flying cars. Even now, these magical machines that combine air and ground travel are in development all across the globe. Since the early 20th century, people have been trying to build flying cars - so why don’t we have them now?

The problem with a machine that both flies and drives is that to make it safe enough to be on the road where it may be in an accident, the car portion must be heavier than the maximum takeoff weight of the plane portion, meaning that it couldn’t fly effectively. …


A detailed look at the tools and technology needed to create a self-sustaining colony on the red planet

It’s human nature to always be looking ahead at what’s next. The minute Neil Armstrong took his historic first steps on the moon, scientists and civilians alike were already turning towards Mars, and wondering how we could go about landing humans there.

The Set-Up of a Colony

For there to be any well-working colony on Mars, there must be extensive research done ahead of time. Scientists and engineers need to determine the optimal locations of future landing sites and how to effectively transport crew and cargo to the Martian surface safely. …


What melting ice means for humanity as a whole

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Photo by Sam Wiggle on Unsplash

This past summer, wildfires were everywhere in the Arctic. One of the reasons why these fires were so prevalent this year was due to the temperatures being so high and the winds so fierce. Because of the higher than average temperatures this year, Greenland’s ice and glaciers are quickly melting as well.

The size and intensity of the wildfires located in the Arctic in June was greater than any other time since the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring System started tracking wildfires in the Arctic, which was 16 years ago.

How Do the Fires Start?

The wildfires in the Arctic are most commonly started by lightning. However, according to the World Meteorological Organization, this year in June exceptionally hot temperatures and dry air resulted in fires starting sooner and being more devastating. …


A success and failure at the same time

The American Space Shuttle is arguably the most complex flying machine of all time. While it was revolutionary at the time of its initial design, many people believe it to have cost many more dollars and lives that it bargained for.

The Components of the Shuttle

The entire mechanism at launch is known as the Space Shuttle, but the spaceplane part of it is the Space Shuttle orbiter. Attached to the orbiter are two Solid Rocket Boosters, (SRB) and an external fuel tank.

The SRBs would be used to get the orbiter and fuel tank off the ground and increase their velocity, but after about two minutes they would fall down to earth and be recovered for later use. From then on, the external tank would provide the necessary fuel for the orbiter’s engines to propel the spacecraft into orbit. When there was no more fuel in the external tank, it would be dropped, to burn up in the atmosphere upon reentry. After that, the orbiter would go on its journey, usually ferrying cargo or people to the space station, launching a satellite, or doing some sort of experiment. …


Planets are formed when a dense cloud of dust and gas spins around a newly formed star. Over time, gravity causes the bits of matter to clump together and eventually form into planets. Scientists believe that they have discovered a reason why this process tends to take a while. This hindrance is known as the bouncing barrier. Scientists have recently observed that particles over 1 millimeter in size tend to bounce off each other more than they tend to combine with one another, meaning that the forming of planets is slowed.

As time passes, particles will begin to overcome the bouncing barrier and form into larger masses that will become planets orbiting a star one day. To understand the process better, a team of researchers conducted an experiment using glass beads in place of protoplanetary dust grains. The glass beads were each a little less than half a millimeter in size. In the experiment, the researchers noticed that Earth’s gravity was having a distinct affect. To deal with this, they ran their experiment in a 120 meter tall drop tower in Bremen, Germany, moving the capsule containing the glass beads up and down repeatedly, basically making them weightless. …


Recently, scientists were able to capture a video of a black hole ripping apart a star. For an event like this to occur, a star must pass by a supermassive black hole and be drawn into that black hole by its immense gravity. When something is sucked into a black hole, it is spaghettified. Spaghettification is the vertical stretching and horizontal compression of objects into long thin shapes.

An event like this is extremely rare. An astronomer at the University of Maryland, Suvi Gezari, says that events like this occur only about once every 100,000 years in any given galaxy.

Scientists were able to identify the event at first from telescopes catching bright flares. When they saw this, they started using more precise devices to lockdown and tell what was happening. …

About

Leo Ferguson

Student, Storyteller, and Space Enthusiast

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