Aviation authority investigating UFOs over Ireland

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is investigating multiple reports of UFOs over the coast of Ireland on Friday. From the BBC:

(A British Airways) pilot, flying from the Canadian city of Montreal to Heathrow, said there was a "very bright light" and the object had come up along the left side of the aircraft before it "rapidly veered to the north..."

(Another Virgin pilot said) there were "multiple objects following the same sort of trajectory" and that they were very bright.

The pilot said he saw "two bright lights" over to the right which climbed away at speed.

One pilot said the speed was "astronomical, it was like Mach 2" - which is twice the speed of sound.

According to the IAA, the matter will be "investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process." Meanwhile, the BBC quotes an astronomer who suggests what the pilots saw could have been a meteoroid aka "shooting star."

image: not the actual UFO over Ireland Read the rest

Supersonic: a glorious new art book about the Concorde airplane

During its 1970s heyday, the Concorde, the commercial supersonic plane that did NYC to London in under three hours, wasn't just a revolution in aerospace engineering; it was an icon of industrial design, set the bar in luxury travel, and, quite literally, embodied the jet-set lifestyle. Now, my friend qnd colleague Lawrence Azerrad, the creative director of the Grammy-winning Voyager Golden Record vinyl box set we released last year, has created a glorious art book about the Concorde and its scene in the sky. The book, Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde, overflows with historical and technical information and stunning photos of the plane, its marketing materials, and amenities designed by the likes of Andrée Putman, Raymon Loewy, and Sir Terence Conran who wrote this book's foreword. From CNN:

Taking a branded item home was part of the experience. Anything that could be removed from the plane would be taken by passengers as a souvenir. Some of these items were particularly sought after, like those designed by Raymond Loewy, the father of industrial design who created cabin interiors for Air France.

"He used a very forward-thinking, futuristic approach for that time, down to the design of the seats, the headrests, the fabric and, probably more famously, the stainless steel flatware, which Andy Warhol would famously steal," said Azerrad. "There's a story where (Warhol) asked if the person sitting next to him was taking theirs, she said no and he took her set."

Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde is a magnificent celebration of the history of our in-flight future. Read the rest

Clap on/clap off giant metal firefly sculpture

Sculptor Jud Turner (previously) has created a giant shiny metal firefly with the tail-light from a 1959 Cadillac, wired up to a clapper-style switch. It's called "MerKaBot" and it was created for Firefly Aerospace. Read the rest

Swarm robots for airplane engine maintenance

Rolls Royce and Harvard University are exploring how tiny swarm robots could someday crawl through an airplane engine for mechanical check-ups and maintenance.

Each robot measures around 10mm in diameter which would be deposited in the centre of an engine via a ‘snake’ robot and would then perform a visual inspection of hard to reach areas by crawling through the engine. These robots would carry small cameras that provide a live video feed back to the operator allowing them to complete a rapid visual inspection of the engine without having to remove it from the aircraft.

"SWARM Robots" (Rolls Royce via Uncrate)

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Watch pilots eject at over Mach 8 on test track

Servicemembers willing to undergo dangerous test pilot duties are remarkably brave. The military is now conducting tests on different body sizes to ensure women serving as pilots get the same safety benefits. Read the rest

This 3D printed titanium fuel tank part shaved 18 months off spacecraft production schedule

Lockheed Martin just made the largest 3D printed part they've ever ever built for space. The titanium domes used to take a couple of years to make from scratch, but this was completed in about three months. Read the rest

Watch these heart-pounding jet maneuvers from the pilot's POV

A very skilled pilot takes a Saab Gripen fighter jet through its paces, and his audio from the recording indicates just how physically and mentally taxing this kind of flying is. Read the rest

Watch military swarm drones lock on and surround a target

Autonomous weapon bans (previously) are currently being debated, but in the meantime, the US Department of Defense continues work with its Perdix Micro-Drone project. Ostensibly for surveillance, it's clear these could easily be modded with lethal weaponry. Read the rest

Ultrathin "blanket" spacecraft could someday wrap up dangerous space junk for destruction

There are more than 500,000 pieces of dangerous space junk orbiting the Earth, not including paint flecks and other tiny bits flying around at 17,500 miles per hour that put spacecraft at risk. The Brane Craft, in the conceptual phase at Aerospace Corporation, is a bulletproof "blanket," one yard across and thinner than a human hair, that the company thinks could wrap around space junk and pull it into the atmosphere where it will safely burn up. The project just received another grant from NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program that funds radical concepts that may never work but would have great impact if they do. From Space.com:

The thin spacecraft is not only lightweight, which reduces fuel consumption, but is easy to stack in a launcher and deploy in a swarm of dozens of bots, each on a track to a different rogue piece of debris. Brane Crafts will be powered by ultrathin solar cells as well as a little bit of propellant. The company plans to launch the craft frequently, with many Branes deployed at the same time, helping to reduce costs...

The NIAC grant provides two years of funding for laboratory demonstrations of the thin film. The investigators plan to outline how to develop the technology and which fabrication technologies hold the most promise.

"We're also looking at how we can get government or other companies interested in this to take this to the next level," (Aerospace Corporation principal investigator Siegfried) Janson said, pointing out that readiness for space would likely take a few million dollars.

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Watch 'Dot of Light,' inspiring documentary on female astronauts

This lovely short subject documentary gives some cool insights into the awe-inspiring experience of space travel, as told by several women who have had the honor of doing so. Imagine shedding a tear at the beauty, then laughing as it floats away. Read the rest

Bill Nye urges Trump to recommit to the U.S. Space Program

Bill Nye and The Planetary Society released a direct appeal to the Trump administration, asking that the government continue to focus on Mars and support commercial space industry. Trump proposed a reduction in the NASA budget. Read the rest

Watch India launch a record 104 satellites in one mission

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) just launched an amazing 104 satellites in one mission, setting a new record. Read the rest

Boeing's new spacesuit is far out

Boeing revealed its new sleek and chic spacesuit designed for astronauts aboard the Boeing/Bigelow CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Launched on Atlas V rockets the Starliner capsule will shuttle commercial crew members to and from the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit locales. From Boeing:

The Starliner spacesuit provides greater pressurized mobility and is about 40 percent lighter than previous suits. Its innovative layers will keep astronauts cooler as well. The touchscreen-friendly gloves allow astronauts to interact with the capsule’s tablets while the boots are breathable and slip resistant. Zippers in the torso area will make it easier for astronauts to comfortably transition from sitting to standing. In addition to protecting astronauts during launch and the return to Earth, the suit also helps connect astronauts to ground and space crews through the communications headset within the helmet. The suit’s hood-like soft helmet sports a wide polycarbonate visor to give Starliner passengers better peripheral vision throughout their ride to and from space.

Video from Boeing:

Photo from Boeing:

Photo from NASA/Cory Huston:

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Vintage photos show NORAD's construction and operation

The legendary underground lair of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was so secretive that few photos have been published. Russ Kick at Memory Hole was good enough to locate one of 27 libraries in the world with an obscure book titled NORAD Command Post: The City Inside Cheyenne Mountain. The photos he shared will make you want to watch Dr. Strangelove again. Read the rest

NASA's Juno is about to reach Jupiter after a 5-year journey. I visited JPL before the big show.

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Strange space balls fell in Vietnam

Three strange metal spheres fell from the sky in Vietnam's Tuyen Quang province. They range in size and weight, with the smallest at 250 grams and the largest at 45 kilograms. According to the Ministry of Defense, they are likely compressed air tanks from an aircraft or rocket. That said, Nguyen Khoa Son of the National Research Program on Space Science and Technology suggests that they could be debris from a failed satellite launch. Apparently the balls were made in Russia.

(BBC News)

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Virgin Galactic crash blamed on “single human error”

Federal safety officials say the builder of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is at fault for not anticipating the copilot error that caused the spaceship's disintegration during a test flight nine months ago.

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