Outtakes

Earlier this month, NASA’s Juno spacecraft completed a flyover of Jupiter, resulting in some of the most detailed photos of Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot to date. This enhanced-color image from nearly 6,130 miles above the planet. For more information about the Juno mission, visit NASA’s website.
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Aurora Flying Sciences’ Aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) reached a milestone recently as it pulled off a simulated landing of a Boeing 737. According to Aurora, the purpose of the ALIAS technology is to “function as a second pilot in a two-crew aircraft allowing for standard and even improved aircraft performance, while reducing individual crew operations and workload, lowering costs, and simplifying training.” “Having successfully demonstrated on a variety of aircraft, ALIAS has proven its versatile automated flight capabilities,” said John Wissler, Aurora’s Vice President of Research and Development. “As we move towards fully automated flight from take-off to landing, we can reliably say that we have developed an automation system that enables significant reduction of crew workload.”
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A German team named HY4 which is comprised of a group of engineers, entrepreneurs and flight enthusiasts is working to develop a local network of short distance flights that are completely flown by zero-emission aircraft. The “electric air taxi” network will feature aircraft that run on sustainable electric propulsion systems using hydrogen fuel cells that can fly a maximum range of a little over 900 miles. The current HY4 body has a wingspan of 76 feet and a length of just under 25 feet. The aircraft can fir four passengers with one being the pilot.
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Canadian airline Westjet got into the Guinness Book of World Records recently as they lit up a Utah desert with the world’s largest circulation projection. The airline projected a giant prize wheel on the ground, visible to passengers on flight from Toronto to Las Vegas. The prize wheel landed on a single seat number, 4A, and the lucky passenger in that seat was awarded a $2,500 shopping spree, tickets to see a Cirque du Soleil show and more. “WestJet turned 21 this year and as the international airline that brings the most guests to Las Vegas, we celebrated by lighting up the desert," said Rob Daintree, WestJet Director of Marketing. "Inspired by the brilliance, energy and wonderful experiences Las Vegas provides, we created a unique event for our guests by flying over a radiant prize wheel.” The wheel also broke the record for greatest light output in a project image.  For the record, the wheel measured 3,300-feet wide, with the light output at 4,666,000 lumens. The wheel took 61,483 feet of cable.
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Swiss company SolarStratos recently achieved its first successful flight of its two-seat solar aircraft. The aircraft uses electricity harnessed from approximately 238 square feet of solar cells spread across its 82-foot wingspan to power the vehicle for 24 hours straight. Weighing in at about 992 pounds gross and with a 28-foot-long fuselage, SolarStratos engineers estimate the aircraft will be 90 percent efficient. And while the recent flight reached 1,000 feet, the goal of SolarStratos is to reach 83,000 feet.
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According to a new report by Nokia, cybercrime is shifting its way faster and faster to the mobile space. Nokia’s latest “Threat Intelligence Report” said that malware infections on mobile devices reached an all-time high in 2016, rising almost 400 percent in the past year. The report said that Android phones are the most vulnerable phones, representing 81 percent of malware infections in the second half of 2016, while iPhones and other mobile devices made up only 4 percent of attack victims. To read the rest of Nokia’s findings, you can find the report here.
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Aviation startup Kitty Hawk has unveiled the prototype of its first personal flying vehicle. The company says that the ultralight, all-electrical aircraft can even fly over water and a pilot’s license won’t be needed. “We hope that this is more of an exciting concept than what most people have had in their minds about flying cars,” said Kitty Hawk aerospace engineer and test pilot Cameron Robertson. The company says it hopes to have a retail product by the end of 2017.
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The Dubai police force welcomed a new recruit recently: the world’s first operational robot officer. Dubbed “Robocop,” the robot stands just under six-feet-tall and weighs 220 pounds and is fully capable of engaging with residents and tourists through features like an “emotion detector” and the ability to read body language from five feet away. Robocop can also speak six languages, answer questions, shake hands, military salute and most importantly, can spot criminal offenders using facial recognition. "With an aim to assist and help people in the malls or on the streets," said Brigadier-General Khalid Nasser Al Razzouqi, director-general of smart services at Dubai Police, "the Robocop is the latest smart addition to the force and has been designed to help us fight crime, keep the city safe and improve happiness levels."
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Everybody wishes they had a secret life as a powerful, famous individual. But when you’re powerful and famous, what do you wish for? For King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, it’s to be a commercial airline pilot. Recently the king told Holland’s Telegraaf newspaper that he’s been moonlighting a few times a month for a KLM airlines affiliate for more than two decades flying the airline’s Cityhopper flights and now he’s training to take on a Boeing 737. "You can completely switch off and focus on something else," he told the Telegraaf. He said it is impossible to fly a plane if you bring "problems from the ground with you." KLM pilot Maarten Putman, who regularly flies with the King, told the Telegraaf that Willem-Alexander is an excellent co-pilot.
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The lunar sample bag that NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong broke back from the Apollo 11 moon landing could soon be yours, if the price is right. The bag, which still contains traces of moon dust will be auctioned off at Sotherby’s in New York on July 20, the anniversary of the moon landing. It is expected to fetch between $2-4 million. It’s not the first time the bag has been up for auction. The government lost track of the bag until a few years ago when it was bought at an auction by an Illinois woman for less than $1,000. The bag was found in the garage of the president of a Kansas space museum who was arrested for stealing artifacts that were donated by the government. The bag was confiscated and mistakenly labeled as a bag from the Apollo 17 space mission, which would have been worth significantly less. The bag was offered up for auction several times by the U.S. Marshal’s office until finally it received the $995 bid. After getting the bag authenticated, it was discovered that the bag was actually from Apollo 11 and a lengthy court battle between NASA and the winning bidder ensued with courts ultimately ruling in her favor. For more on the bizarre journey of the lunar sample bag, check out this piece in the Washington Post.
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The folks at Disney have filed a patent application which could bring “humanoid” robots to their parks. The patent is for a “soft body robot for physical interaction with humans" that would act like an animated character. The sketches included in the patent resemble that of Baymax from the company’s 2014 film “Big Hero 6.” The robot described in the patent application has soft, squeezable skin that supports “playful physical interaction,” posable joints, and pressure sensors that “sense contact and provide protection to the child and robot while interacting.” Disney’s droids are meant to be “huggable and interactive,” so that children at the park could play with them in a fun and safe manner, according to the filing. Disney filed the patent application in February 2016 and it was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office last week.
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According to a new study by advisory firm Korn Ferry, salaries for new engineering graduates are at an all-time high.
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Back in 2015, e-commerce giant Amazon had a great idea: free bananas to anyone who wanted one. So the company opened up a community banana stand on its Seattle campus and has been giving them away ever since. Now, according to Amazon, they’ve given out their one millionth banana and are averaging about 5,000 a day. Bananas are free to literally anyone, says Amazon, not just company employees. “Bananas are a great healthy snack with built-in compostable packaging,” an Amazon spokesman said in a statement. “We hope the community likes it, and if they do, we’ll keep doing it.”
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NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer each took part in a spacewalk recently on board the International Space Station to repair a faulty computer and install a data cable on the craft. The repairs took the crew three hours which was long enough to circle the earth nearly twice. Whitson, the current commander of the ISS, spent enough time outside to reach third place for most time spend on spacewalks at 60 hours and 21 minutes. And while an emergency spacewalk isn’t entirely rare, it’s not common either. The last emergency walk occurred in 2015.
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After a record-breaking 718 consecutive days in orbit, the United States Air Force’s X-37B space plane landed recently landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight, which is part of the USAF’s Orbital Test Vehicle program, added to the total amount of days spent in orbit for the program putting it at 2,085. "The landing of OTV-4 marks another success for the X-37B program and the nation," said Lt. Col. Ron Fehlen, X-37B program manager. "This mission once again set an on-orbit endurance record and marks the vehicle's first landing in the state of Florida. We are incredibly pleased with the performance of the space vehicle and are excited about the data gathered to support the scientific and space communities. We are extremely proud of the dedication and hard work by the entire team." While the next launch of the X-37B will take place at some point this year, the bigger mystery remains what the mission of the program might be. The details remain classified.
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