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Sep 24, 2021

Astronaut Who Helped Build Space Station Says Damage Is “Serious”

Posted by in categories: government, space

The space station has been showing its age, with new damage and other signs of wear being found in various modules. Most recently, Russian cosmonauts spotted about half a dozen new cracks in their Zarya module. And while both NASA and Roscosmos say the cracks don’t pose a threat to crewmembers, Insider reports that Shepherd spoke to a House of Representatives committee on Tuesday, telling the lawmakers that they need to pay attention to the possible hazard, which he called a “serious problem.”

NASA is currently trying to secure another four years’ worth of funding for the ISS, which would allow it to keep the orbital outpost running until 2,028 according to Insider. But Shepherd says NASA would be unwise to do so before actually investigating these cracks to determine not only how bad they are today but whether they’ll continue to get worse, as Russian officials have warned they might.

“Getting to the bottom of this is a fairly serious issue,” Shepherd told Congress. “I don’t think the station’s in any immediate danger. But before we clear the station for another so many years of operational use, we should better understand this.”

Sep 24, 2021

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots.

Sep 24, 2021

Turkey’s Baykar rolls out its vertical take-off, landing drone

Posted by in categories: drones, robotics/AI

Leading defense company Baykar has unveiled for the first time its newly designed drone that can hover, take off and land vertically at Turkey’s largest technology and aviation event, Teknofest.

The flight tests of the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) are due to be completed soon. Mass production and delivery phases are expected to start in 2022.

The new UAV does not need a landing track and can take off from several different places, including naval or mobile platforms, said Burak Özbek, an air vehicle design engineer at Baykar, which is already known worldwide for its landmark Bayraktar TB2 and Akıncı drones.

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Sep 24, 2021

Artificial Intelligence Accurately Predicts RNA Structures, Too

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, robotics/AI

Researchers recently showed that a computer could “learn” from many examples of protein folding to predict the 3D structure of proteins with great speed and precision. Now a recent study in the journal Science shows that a computer also can predict the 3D shapes of RNA molecules [1]. This includes the mRNA that codes for proteins and the non-coding RNA that performs a range of cellular functions.

This work marks an important basic science advance. RNA therapeutics—from COVID-19 vaccines to cancer drugs—have already benefited millions of people and will help many more in the future. Now, the ability to predict RNA shapes quickly and accurately on a computer will help to accelerate understanding these critical molecules and expand their healthcare uses.

Like proteins, the shapes of single-stranded RNA molecules are important for their ability to function properly inside cells. Yet far less is known about these RNA structures and the rules that determine their precise shapes. The RNA elements (bases) can form internal hydrogen-bonded pairs, but the number of possible combinations of pairings is almost astronomical for any RNA molecule with more than a few dozen bases.

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Sep 24, 2021

Moon-shaped Las Vegas resort costs 500 times less than trip to space

Posted by in category: space travel

Would you shell out $500 for a discount lunar experience?

The world’s richest private citizens spend $200,000 to $250,000 per ticket to secure spots on Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights. And SpaceX’s recent civilian flight was a nine-figure endeavor.

But one design company plans to launch out-of-this-world space travel to fill the gap for non-billionaires, offering a mini-lunar experience for only $500 — up to 500 times less than the price of an actual trip to space.

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Sep 24, 2021

William Shatner’s Going to Space on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Rocket Ship

Posted by in category: space travel

Decades after he last played the role, William Shatner’s going to become a real-life Captain Kirk… because he’s going to space… on Jeff Bezos’ rocket ship… TMZ has learned.

Sep 24, 2021

Northrop Grumman to launch new satellite-servicing robot aimed at commercial and government market

Posted by in categories: government, robotics/AI, satellites

WASHINGTON — Northrop Grumman today has two Mission Extension Vehicles in orbit providing station-keeping services for two Intelsat geostationary satellites that were running low on fuel.

The company meanwhile is preparing to launch a new servicing vehicle equipped with a robotic arm that will install propulsion jet packs on dying satellites.

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Sep 24, 2021

Rocket Lab to launch Astroscale inspection satellite

Posted by in category: satellites

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab will launch an Astroscale mission to rendezvous with a spent rocket stage in low Earth orbit, a prelude to eventually deorbiting the stage.

Rocket Lab announced Sept. 21 that it won a contract from Astroscale for the launch of its Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J) spacecraft. A Rocket Lab Electron will launch ADRAS-J from its Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand in 2023.

ADRAS-J will rendezvous with and inspect an upper stage left in orbit by a Japanese launch. The Japanese space agency JAXA awarded Tokyo-based Astroscale a contract in 2020 for the mission as part of its two-phase Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration project. The second phase, which will involve an attempt to deorbit the upper stage, has not yet been competed by JAXA.

Sep 24, 2021

NASA’s Got A New, Big Telescope. It Could Find Hints Of Life On Far-Flung Planets

Posted by in category: alien life

The James Webb Space Telescope will let scientists study small, rocky planets around distant stars in more detail than ever before. After decades of work, it could head into orbit later this year.

Sep 24, 2021

SpaceX shares moment Inspiration4 crew saw Earth for first time

Posted by in category: space travel

One of the modifications was the cupola, or giant window, that let the four astronauts have a panoramic view of space in the modified Crew Dragon craft.

The Inspiration4 crew splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida on September 18 at 23:06 UTC, bringing an end to their historic three-day mission orbiting Earth, 360 miles above the surface.

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