More than two years later than originally planned, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has taken to the skies for its maiden test flight.
The aircraft is constructed in large part of plastics, making it lighter, quieter and greener, the company said.
The plane – powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines – took off from a runway in Washington State.
Pilots Michael Carriker and Randall Neville kept the Dreamliner in the air for around three hours before landing at Seattle’s Boeing Field.
They took the aircraft to an altitude of 15,000 feet and an air speed of 180 knots, or about 207 miles per hou
This artist’s conception shows the WISE telescope mapping the whole sky in infrared. The mission will unveil hundreds of thousands of asteroids, and hundreds of millions of stars and galaxies. Credit: NASA
NASA is getting ready to launch a new space telescope that will scan the entire sky for the infrared glow of hidden asteroids and stars that are close to Earth but too dim to be easily seen.
Unlike telescopes that look for visible light, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE telescope, will pick up infrared light. All objects that have any heat give off infrared light — and that includes things we normally think of as being cold. WISE will be able to see objects at a wide range of temperatures, from as cold as liquid nitrogen to as hot as molten aluminum, according to NASA.
To make sure WISE isn’t blinded by its own heat, it has to be kept supercold. It will work inside a giant thermos bottle called a cryostat, and hydrogen ice will keep the telescope at -438 degrees Fahrenheit. “We have now 40 pounds of solid hydrogen in our cryostat,” says William Irace, WISE project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California. “Some people think it looks like R2D2 without wheels. It’s kind of a funny-looking thing.”
The funny-looking thing is about the size of a polar bear. A rocket will blast it into orbit around the Earth. NASA is targeting launch for Monday morning.
Once it reaches orbit, WISE will spend about six months taking over 1 million images that will be stitched together to create a panoramic, infrared view of the entire sky.
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NASA is still perplexed over the parachute failure that damaged its new Ares I-X test rocket during its October test launch, but otherwise the debut flight went well, mission managers said.
The $445 million suborbital Ares I-X rocket, NASA’s first prototype of the vehicle it plans to carry humans to orbit after the space shuttles retire, blasted off Oct. 28 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It soared eastward into the sky, peaked at about 28 miles altitude, then the solid-rocket first stage separated from its dummy second stage and dropped into the ocean as planned.
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NASA’s launch of its Ares test rocket has Buzz Aldrin questioning the vehicle’s design and outlining the need for better rockets.
The launch of NASA’s new rocket, Ares I-X, on October 28 was the first test flight of a new launch vehicle since the Apollo missions. The flight was spectacular and historic, but the famous Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin says it was little more than a half-a-billion dollar political show.
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