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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.

Hardware's Role in Aircraft Lightweighting

Posted March 04, 2015 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

It's important to consider the subjective experience of end users when designing lightweight materials into aircraft. For example, torque hinging can impart a feeling of sturdiness to items such as lightweight seatback trays. Standardizing on components such as hinges and latches throughout the aircraft can also offset some of the expense of redesign and retooling. Since engineers will be familiar with the capabilities of the component they will know what to expect when they use it in different applications. Beside hinges, another example is remotely actuated safety latches, which can be used throughout the cabin for access control.

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2 comments; last comment on 03/04/2015
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Lasers Speed Space Communications

Posted February 22, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

To continuously stream data from its Sentinel-1 Earth-observing instruments to ground-based receivers - regardless of location - the European Space Agency is testing laser data link-ups with geostationary satellites. Similarly, NASA is using laser communications to transmit text and images to Earth from the International Space Station. In demonstrations, the system required just seven seconds to downlink a video that required 12 hours to uplink by radio transmission, the current technology.

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1 comments; last comment on 02/22/2015
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Pulse Detonation Engines

Posted February 14, 2015 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author

Talking about engines is a mechanical engineer's treat and we are sure that this one is going to be a special one for you. We are talking about the pulse detonation engine (PDE).

It can be defined as a type of propulsion system in which detonation of the air-fuel combustible mixture is done to generate super power. Detonation here means compressing the air-fuel mixture prior to the ignition process. Due to this, a compressor is not used in this engine. The pressure can go as high as 10 MPa. This is done for creating a pulsejet that can detonate the mixture.

This process is different from deflagration which is used in car engines, where low pressure is required for gentle ignition. But here the ignition is violent. It is so violent that mechanical shutters that are widely used in engines are of no application. To counter that, a series of valves is used to carefully time the process.

PDE can be operated with many fuels. We can use bio-gas, natural gas, propane, coal, kerosene, octane and jet fuels. By the way, this engine can be operated on literally any fuel but it will take a high level of engineering to make such adjustments.

A PDE is an engine where the main scientific attraction is its design and versatility. Because of its design that offers power, it finds many areas of application, especially in defence services.

  • In missiles and UAVs
  • In the USA military aircraft Rutan Long-EZ (pictured)
  • For electric power generation in both civilian and military work fields
  • In both small scale and large scale power plants

PDEs are our future. A lot of research has been conducted and more research needs to be carried out in order to increase its area of application and make it a 'real' household name.

image - Wikipedia

5 comments; last comment on 02/16/2015
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Tilt Rotor Aircraft

Posted February 10, 2015 12:39 PM by CR4 Guest Author

The tilt rotor aircraft is one of the most versatile vehicles in terms of application and usability. It is an aircraft that can take off just like a helicopter and can easily cruise forward at high speeds like an airplane. It's a modern day aircraft with adjustable rotors.

The tilt rotor aircraft was developed out of necessity. While helicopters can be useful, they do have some disadvantages:

  • Forward speed is determined by the speed at which the horizontally-mounted rotor turns
  • Increasing the speed leads to a high probability that the aircraft can lose its balance
  • 277km/hr is the approximate maximum speed
  • Maximum altitude is about 10,000 feet

A tilt rotor aircraft has the following advantages:

  • Adjustable rotors can tilt vertically
  • A maximum cruise speed of 560km/hr can be achieved
  • Maximum altitude is about 20,000 feet

image - wikipedia

16 comments; last comment on 02/21/2015
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Extrapolating the Fuel Benefits of a Composite Fleet

Posted January 27, 2015 6:23 PM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

As global air traffic increases, so does the need to reduce emissions. Evaluating the life cycle assessment of a composite plane and extrapolating the results to a global fleet helps quantify the challenge. A new study out of the UK examines the environmental impact of a global fleet of composite planes such as the Dreamliner 787 or Airbus 350. While composite construction lowers fuel consumption, the research includes the manufacture of composite planes, where emissions are more than "double those of aluminium planes." This report from SAE International presents the conclusions.

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2 comments; last comment on 02/03/2015
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3 Advantages to Commercializing Space Travel

Posted January 22, 2015 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author
Pathfinder Tags: space travel

In the year 2010, ironically the same year 2010: Odyssey Two sequel takes place, the federal government of the United States developed a budget that eliminates the space travel budget. In 2010: Odyssey Two competing nations are racing to learn more about the monolith guarding the planet Europa and a variety of nations develop unique technology that propels them to that distant planet all in a race to arrive first. The new budget and funding strategy set forth by the US government seems to have set the stage for either the private sector to step up and commercialize space travel or to promote a reliance on foreign governments for any space travel.

So what are the benefits to the space industry with this new strategy?

Improve creativity and reduce bureaucracy

It is no secret that government contracts can be hindered by bureaucracy to the point that creativity is squelched and progress is stalled. One strategy that the federal government had considered when developing this space exploration budget was to gradually phase out the space program and transition this work to the commercial arena. This idea was not accepted by the private sector as they were not interested in taking on the overhead burden of managing government bureaucracy in their development efforts.

They chose to focus their engineering and development teams on engineering the next generation technology rather than transitioning old government projects. By avoiding government bureaucracy, these new space travel companies have already demonstrated success and come up with new ideas and designs that are currently being tested in the field.

Innovative, can-do attitude

The NASA space program is filled with talented engineers who solved many of the early problems encountered with space travel and led the world in space exploration, but now is the time for a new generation of engineers to come on board. This new talent is raised in the electronic age and has new ideas and work ethics that they bring to the industry. They are not burdened by the 'that's just how things are done' attitude and have been brought up to challenge the status quo and look for innovative creative solutions to problems. In addition, these innovative designers are more open to collaborating with all available resources worldwide instead of working in closed silos that so often happen with government development projects.

Advancement through competition

The space program evolved and gained popularity by national pride when your own country achieved a technology milestone before another country. This lasted for many decades of space exploration but has now gone to the wayside as other countries are achieving these important milestones and contributing to the international space station research and space exploration. By moving space exploration into the private sector it reawakens that competitive spirit in the entrepreneurs that chose to invest resources in developing the next generation of space travel. The newly created company Virgin Galactic has stepped up to the challenge of developing the next generation space vehicle using a shuttle system that carries a space vehicle underneath a launch plane and releases it at a designated altitude. This unique strategy is currently being tested and Virgin Galactic has sold space travel tickets to many wealthy buyers that have helped to fund their development costs. These innovative thoughts and designs have put them in first place for the commercialization of space travel.

When technology is commercialized and moved out of the government arena is when some of the biggest advances are made. No longer are people hampered by the government bureaucracy that hampers development and squelches creativity but instead they can reach for the stars and come up with new ideas so that in the words of Star Trek's Captain Kirk, they can "boldly go where no man has gone before."

image credit

1 comments; last comment on 01/25/2015
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