Huntsville, AL--NASA and Lockheed Martin have announced
restructuring of the X-33 reusable spaceplane demonstrator program. The vehicle,
which was previously slated to make its first flight this year, won't liftoff
now until 2003 (see Design News 9/6/1999, p. 82 or www.manufacturing.net/magazine/dn/archives/1999/dn0906.99/feature1.html
for technology details).
The vehicle's carbon-composite liquid-hydrogen fuel tank failed
load testing last November due to microcracks in its structure. The vehicle is
currently about three-quarters completed and 95% of its components have been
built and delivered. Except for a new aluminum hydrogen tank, which is being
designed, the demonstrator is to be completed by the end of this year. Gene
Austin, NASA program manager at the Marshall Space Flight Center says, "The
aluminum tank design still permits us to demonstrate the technologies for a
reusable, single-stage, next-generation vehicle."
The revamped program calls for greater emphasis on mission safety
and additional ground demonstration of critical technology prior to first
flight. No additional NASA funds are needed through March 2001. Lockheed Martin
will compete for the additional funding needed to complete the project under the
agency's Space Launch Initiative program.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
Using Siemens NX software, a team of engineering students from the University of Michigan built an electric vehicle and raced in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. One of those students blogged for Design News throughout the race.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.