Science & technology

Feds lift export ban on commercial satellites

The aerospace industry can now begin exporting commercial satellites. In a final rule published in the Federal Register on Monday, the Department of Commerce removed commercial communications satellites from its list of military technology.

Obama thrills left with Web fight

Obama on Monday released an unusual video statement urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact the toughest possible rules on Internet service providers, thrilling liberal activists who have long pushed him to take a firmer stand on net neutrality. Net neutrality — the principal that all traffic on the Internet should be treated the same — was a plank of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and appears to be taking on added significance as he enters the twilight of his term.

New Pentagon Innovation Strategy Coming in Days

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will roll out an “innovation initiative” later this week, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said Wednesday. The Pentagon has been working on a new “offset strategy” that would put the US military on a path to developing and fielding a new generation of technologies to counter the advances being made by China, and to a lesser extent Russia, officials have said.

From earphones to jet engines, 3D printing takes off

Many manufacturers are at an early stage of discovering the benefits of 3D printing, but one of the clearest strengths is customization. After three decades in relative obscurity, 3D printing, which employs lasers to "print" objects from metals or plastics according to a digital design, has suddenly become one of the hottest areas of technology.

U.S. Pilots Say New Chinese Stealth Fighter Could Become Equal of F-22, F-35

Many suspect the J-31 is designed using technology stolen from the Pentagon’s nearly $400 billion Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. “They sure look like F-35 and F-22s don’t they?” one Air Force operational test pilot told USNI News.

China Flight Tests New Stealth Jet During Obama Visit

China obtained secrets from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter through cyber attacks against a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin. The technology has shown up in China’s first stealth jet, the J-20, and in the J-31. Both of the jets’ design features and equipment are similar to those of the F-35.

Beyond politics, America and Russia soar in space

Even as U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated this year, Fuller says the partnership between Roscosmos and NASA has rarely been closer. That’s because Russians value personal relationships, he said, and more than 15 years working alongside Americans has strengthened those bonds. Americans and Russians share a common goal of flying safely, first around the Earth and then to destinations such as the moon and Mars. The two countries realize the only way to do that now may be together, and by doing so they are setting an example for humanity.

Elon Musk's Next Mission: Satellites

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk shook up the automotive and aerospace industries with electric cars and cheap rockets. Now, he is focused on satellites, looking at ways to make smaller, less-expensive models that can deliver Internet access across the globe, according to people familiar with the matter.

US space industry girds for more oversight after accidents

Executives in the fledgling commercial U.S. space industry are bracing for increased scrutiny and oversight after two accidents last week, including one that killed a pilot, but say they view the mishaps as temporary setbacks that will not halt launches.

Tech industry drawing up wish lists for new U.S. Congress

A Republican majority in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives presents opportunities and challenges for technology-related legislation in Congress. Big industry groups are drawing up wish lists and honing strategy. The following are some of the developments technology and telecommunications lobbyists are watching in the next Congress:

NASA Tests Revolutionary Shape Changing Aircraft Flap for the First Time

NASA's green aviation project is one step closer to developing technology that could make future airliners quieter and more fuel-efficient with the successful flight test of a wing surface that can change shape in flight.

The Military Wants New Technologies To Fight Drones

As many as 30,000 unmanned aerial vehicles will be darkening America’s skies by 2020, according Todd Humphreys of the University of Texas at Austin. They could be engineered to carry dangerous payloads or simply used as weapons. It’s an area that has attracted increasing Pentagon focus.

Commercial space accidents not expected to slow NASA

"I think this is going to raise fears about commercial space flight, but I think they are unjustified," said Howard McCurdy, a professor at American University who specializes in space policy and history. "There's a reason NASA has more than one commercial partner. I think there's a lot of redundancy or slack in the system. It's set up to handle these kinds of issues. You want everything to be perfect but it never is. Since it never is, the goal is to set up a system that can recover. That's what NASA has done."

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Set to Roll out to Launch Pad for its First Flight

Orion is in the final stages of preparation for its uncrewed flight test, targeted for Dec. 4, that will take it 3,600 miles above Earth on a more than four hour flight to test many of the systems critical for future human missions into deep space. After two orbits and 60,000 miles, Orion will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at almost 20,000 mph before its parachute system deploys to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

NASA Rocket Experiment Finds the Universe Brighter Than We Thought

The findings redefine what scientists think of as galaxies. Galaxies may not have a set boundary of stars, but instead stretch out to great distances, forming a vast, interconnected sea of stars.

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