Dick "Spe" Spehalski leads the engineers who designed the most complex interplanetary spacecraft ever created: Cassini. The spacecraft--including its orbiter and Huygens probe to the moon Titan--is currently winging its way towards a rendezvous with Saturn in 2004. But for five years prior to its October '97 launch, Spehalski championed the mission past cancellation threats by cutting weight, lowering power requirements, and putting the project back on track. And when it came to resolving complex engineering issues with the project's 16 international partners, Spehalski was the man everyone turned to. This isn't the first time NASA tapped him to lead one of the agency's flagship programs; he also served as project manager for the Galileo mission to Jupiter. Following a term as project manager for the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, Spehalski retired in June 1998, but not before NASA awarded him its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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