Monday, June 14, 2010

Captain's Log: Spacecraft and Aircraft News
The Japanese space program is making some impressive news. There's the widely reported return of its Falcon probe (pix above) from its 7 year mission to study an asteroid, which may have collected the first uncontaminated dust and gas samples from any asteroid. The craft landed in Australia successfully, but what it brought back is not yet known.

But in a less publicized success, a solar sail was deployed from a small spacecraft that Japan launched last month. It's part of an experiment to determine if a solar sail can actually power the spacecraft's acceleration. It's the first step in a long process to determine this method's feasibility. The craft itself was piggybacked into space on a rocket sending a Japanese exploratory craft to Venus.

While meant for earth transport, MIT unveiled designs for fast new airplanes that use 70% less fuel, and emit less noise and harmful emissions, meant for the skies of 2035. Check the link to see the pretty neat designs.

The U.S. Air Force also unveiled a new hypersonic using scramjet technology that allows it to ride on its own shockwave. Meanwhile, there are new photos from some of the final U.S. Space Shuttle missions.

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