On Aug. 19, National Aviation Day, a lot of people are reflecting on how far aviation has come in the last century. Could this be the future – a plane with many electric motors that can hover like a helicopter and fly like a plane, and that could revolutionize air travel? Engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., are studying the concept with models such as the unmanned aerial system GL-10 Greased Lightning. The GL-10, which has a 10-foot wingspan, recently flew successfully while tethered. Free-flight tests are planned in the fall of 2014. This research has helped lead to NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate efforts to better understand the potential of electric propulsion across all types, sizes and missions for aviation. Image Credit: NASA Langley/David C. Bowman
The space shuttle Discovery climbs toward Earth orbit following a successful liftoff from KSC’s Pad 39A at 8:41:50 a.m. (EDT), Aug. 30, 1984. Inside the spacecraft are six crewmembers looking forward to a busy week in space. The scene was photographed by astronaut John W. Young in the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA). Photo credit: NASA
At long last Earthlings may be on the verge of colonizing another planet—but those first Terran ambassadors will be plants, not humans.
NASA is expected to announce within days whether they will attach a one-liter “greenhouse” to its next Mars rover to be launched in 2020. A similar greenhouse would take a voyage to the moon with any team that manages to land a robot there by 2015 to snag Google’s Lunar X PRIZE. These experiments could illuminate whether human colonization of the moon or Mars could be possible.