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Aerospace Blog

The Aerospace Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about aeronautics, astronautics, fixed-wing aircraft, future space travel, satellites, NASA, and much more.

System Detects and Disables Unauthorized UAVs

Posted June 25, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Each month, the FAA receives more than 100 reports from pilots and others who spot what appear to be unmanned aircraft flying too close to an airport or manned airplane. An Anti-UAV Defense System (AUDS), to be tested by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), promises to detect a drone six miles away using electronic scanning radar. In addition, AUDS will track the drone using precision infrared and daylight cameras as well as specialist video-tracking software. Finally, it will disrupt the unauthorized UAV's flight by blocking the radio signals that control it.

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10 comments; last comment on 06/26/2016
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Gourmet Space Food

Posted June 22, 2016 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

Space food is something most people think is sold at the museum gift shop. But for astronauts in the International Space Station, space food is all they get.

Luckily, red pepper risotto is now available on the menu, thanks to teenagers at the Passasic County Technical Institute in Wayne, NJ. Three students won the High School Students United with NASA culinary challenge.

The fire roasted pepper puree, edamame, asiago cheese and risotto dish had to be between 300 and 500 calories (less than 30% of those from fat), 300 mg or less of sodium, 8 grams or less of sugar, and 3 grams or more of fiber. It also needed to be something that can be processed well for flight and for use in microgravity...a tall order for the young chefs.

The high school teams had to submit a video and paper detailing how their dish would translate to be rehydrated on the space station. The dishes were judged on taste, texture and odor by a former astronaut, the ISS deputy program director, the directory of Johnson Space Center's Food Lab, HUNCH representatives, and food lab scientists.

The winning dish will be sent up in November after the Food Lab processes it for flight. Most food on the ISS is preserved through freeze-drying or thermostabilization, or preservation by heat.

And if you want to try it for yourself…here's the recipe.

Red pepper risotto

  • ½ cup Arborio rice
  • 2 teaspoons chili confit
  • 2 cups house made vegetable stock
  • 2 ounces shelled edamame
  • 2 teaspoons pignoli nuts
  • 10 basil leaves
  • ½ ounce Asiago cheese
  • ½ ounce red pepper puree

In a saucepan, warm the vegetable broth over low heat.• Warm 2 teaspoons chili confit in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.• Add rice, stirring to coat with oil for about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, add ½ cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth has been absorbed.• Continue adding broth ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.• Remove from heat, and stir in edamame, pignoli nuts, basil leaves, Asiago cheese and red pepper puree.• Place the risotto in the bowl and garnish with edamame, pignoli and Asiago.

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Will Bag Tracking Tech Meet Today's Travel Needs?

Posted June 19, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Delta Airlines is betting $50 million that it will. The airline plans to replace barcode hand scanning with digital, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) baggage-tracking technology. Users hope RFID scanners, coupled with the Fly Delta mobile app, will bring more transparent, interactive tracking. Bag check agents look forward to speeding up the inventory process and lowering lost luggage rates.
In a related development, Samsonite has unveiled its own "Track&Go" technology based on Bluetooth technology.

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1 comments; last comment on 06/20/2016
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NASA Blows Up the Newest Part of the ISS

Posted June 01, 2016 1:22 PM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: Mars NASA Space Station

Proving that even astronauts aren't immune from holiday weekend honey-do lists, flight engineer Jeff Williams blew up the first inflatable space structure on the ISS on May 28. Dubbed the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, Williams spent the better part of seven hours filling the BEAM via a manual air valve and slowly letting the pressure in the module equalize.

Inflatable structures could be a key solution to humanity's increased attention towards space exploration. According to Science News, the timeline and checklist for landing a human on Mars looks about the same as it did in the 1990s, meaning the first mission to Mars is on track for the 2030s. This comes after NASA constructs an orbiting station around the Moon in the 2020s, to serve as a jumping off point for future missions.

The primary benefit is that inflatable structures take up considerably less room in the cargo holds of LEO-bound rockets, when each ounce of cargo is precious and itemized. BEAM is outfitted with several sensors and instruments to determine the habitability of inflatable structures in space. Scientists are primarily concerned with how BEAM handles collisions with space debris and exposure to radiation. Over the course of the next two years, astronauts will spend test periods in the BEAM collecting data and assessing its utility.

BEAM is constructed of two metal bulkheads, an aluminum structure, and panels of fabric layered with internal bladders-once inflated, it will occupy 565 cubic feet. When testing of BEAM is complete, NASA will jettison BEAM from the ISS via the Canadarm2 so that the BEAM burns up before reentering Earth's atmosphere. If the BEAM proves viable, NASA intends to develop more inflatable structures for future space missions.

The concept of space inflatables has been floating around NASA for many years. It was first envisioned in the TransHab project launched by NASA in the 1990s, which would replace the ISS with an inflatable space station. The TransHab featured a foot-thick shell made of 24 material layers that would protect the station from debris and meteorites that could travel seven times faster than a bullet. TransHab was shelved when ISS budget cuts force NASA to abandon the project. Instead, NASA licensed the technology to Bigelow Aerospace, who parlayed the concept into the BEAM 15 years later.

Had NASA been able to develop TransHab further, it's possible we as a species would be just a bit closer to Mars. Nonetheless, BEAM and space inflatables look like a promising way to begin the next odyssey of space exploration.

5 comments; last comment on 06/06/2016
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Inflatable Habitats to Expand Space Research

Posted May 21, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Recently, SpaceX delivered an inflatable modular habitat to the International Space Station (video). Developed by Bigelow Aerospace, the BEAM - for Bigelow Expandable Activity Module - will help scientists better understand requirements for deep space habitats. Inflatable habitats could further research in fields like materials, medicine, and biology. They could also be used for space tourism. Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance have announced they will develop much larger inflatable modular habitats for these purposes. Deployment for Low Earth Orbit is targeted for 2020.

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6 comments; last comment on 05/24/2016
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