April 25, 2016

NASA Moves to Begin Historic New Era of X-Plane Research (Source: NASA)
History is about to repeat itself. There have been periods of time during the past seven decades – some busier than others – when the nation’s best minds in aviation designed, built and flew a series of experimental airplanes to test the latest fanciful and practical ideas related to flight.

Short wings. Long wings. Delta-shaped wings. Forward swept wings. Scissor wings. Big tails. No tails. High speed. Low speed. Jet propulsion. Rocket propulsion. Even nuclear propulsion – although that technology was never actually flown.

Individually each of these pioneering aircraft has its own story of triumph and setback – even tragedy. Each was made by different companies and operated by a different mix of government organizations for a myriad of purposes. Together they are known as X-planes – or X-vehicles, since some were missiles or spacecraft – and the very mention of them prompts a warm feeling and a touch of nostalgia among aviation enthusiasts worldwide. Click here. (4/22)

SpaceX Hoping to Repeat Ocean-Landing with May 3 Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
SpaceX is hoping for a repeat performance of the landing success that it achieved on April 8, 2016. Although the 45th Space Wing, who manage the Eastern Range, have stated no official launch date has been announced – an attempt could be made to launch the JCSAT-14 communications satellite as early as May 3.

A Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket has been tasked with sending the Japanese communications satellite some 22,000 miles above the Earth. As was the case earlier this month, SpaceX will try to have the Falcon 9’s first stage conduct a controlled landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship that will be waiting for the stage’s return out in the Atlantic Ocean. (4/24)

Texas Town Considers Viewing Site Options for SpaceX Launches (Source: Brownsville Herald)
A city eyesore is now considered an ideal location for a SpaceX rocket launch viewing center. The idea of the city purchasing the Chaos building and property is on hold for now as city leaders say they need for more time to decide whether to move forward with the project. But the mayor adds, “I would love to see that building purchased and torn down to have a nice SpaceX viewing building there.”

The decision to put the idea on hold came after officials reviewed SpaceX’s plans to begin launching rockets in 2018. At one point, the plan was to begin launches at Boca Chica beach in 2016. They also received good advice from potential attraction providers insisting the city wait before moving forward. “It’s our judgment at this time to delay the project,” Stahl said. However, Patel and Stahl are talking with SpaceX to get a timeline from them to keep the city on track to have a facility ready in time for the first launch. (4/25)

Chinese Female Astronauts Ready to "Hold Up Half of Space" (Source: Xinhua)
China's first female astronaut has claimed that women have unique advantages in working in space. "Women's inherent patience, sensitivity and sympathy mean they are more likely to avoid conflicts, especially in cramped conditions of most spacecraft," said Liu Yang on Sunday, China's first "Space Day."

"Women will play a more important role when spending a long time in space," Liu said. China was the third country to send a female citizen into space using its own technology. Liu's flight is part of a remarkable turnaround in Chinese attitudes to women. They occupied a lowly status in thousands of years of feudal society. As recently as 100 years ago, many Chinese women were made to endure the pain of foot binding to please men and to share their husband with other women.

It was not until the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, and Chairman Mao Zedong's remark that "Women hold up half the sky," that things began to change. Today, Liu believes that women are ready to "hold up half of space" and that she was "in the right place at the right time" to take advantage of Chinese women being allowed to assume a bigger role. (4/24)

China Open to U.S. Collaboration (Source: Xinhua)
China is open to space cooperation with all nations including the United States, the heavyweights of China's space program said. "China will not rule out cooperating with any country, and that includes the United States," said Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut.

Payload has been reserved in the Chinese space station, due to enter service around 2022, for international projects and foreign astronauts, said Yang on the occasion of the first China Space Day, an annual celebration newly designated by the government. Upon request, China will also train astronauts for other countries, and jointly train astronauts with the European space station, Yang said. (4/24)

Indian Lunar Project Team Advances Nation's Engineering and Startup Culture (Source: Live Mint)
If Team Indus succeeds in soft landing a spacecraft on the moon and wins the Lunar X Prize, it could set the stage for the company and India to be a big contender in space engineering. India now claims to be No. 3 in number of start-ups, after the US and Israel. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay director Devang Khakhar was recently quoted as saying that one in four IIT Bombay graduates is taking the start-up route.

The Team Indus project represents a major challenge for Indian engineering. Lunar landing is just one of the challenges that Team Indus spacecraft will encounter but gives us a sense of the technical complexities involved. Soft landing on the moon has been achieved only by three superpowers, the Americans and the Russians in the 1960s and 1970s, and China in 2013. (4/12)

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