Friday, June 29, 2012

Success! China's Astronaut Trio Return to Earth

The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft touched down safely after a successful 13-day mission to test orbital docking technologies.


1) Three Chinese astronauts, including the nations first female astronaut, have returned to Earth after 13 days in space.
2) The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft docked with the Tiangong-1 module during the mission.
3) Orbital docking had previously only been accomplished by two nations, the U.S. and Russia -- China is now the third.

Three Chinese astronauts returned to Earth on Friday after achieving China's most complex and longest operations in orbit, major steps forward in the country's effort to build a space station by 2020.

The return of the trio, including the country's first female astronaut, to a landing zone in a remote and sandy area of Inner Mongolia was broadcast to a national audience on state television network CCTV.

The return capsule of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, which lifted off on June 16, touched down at about 10:00 a.m. local time (10 p.m. EST), after an approach slowed by parachute.

BIG PIC: Meet China's First Female Astronaut:

Rescue workers quickly surrounded and opened the capsule, which had turned on its side and looked charred on the outside.

All three astronauts were in good physical condition, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, as CCTV showed them being carried out of the capsule on chairs, smiling and waving to the cameras.

The crew had successfully carried out China's first manual space docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 module, a difficult move that is essential in the process of building a space station -- which Beijing aims to do by 2020.

NEWS: China Starts Work on Its Own Space Hangout:

The maneuver -- completed by the Americans and Russians in the 1960s -- requires two vessels orbiting Earth at thousands of kilometers (miles) per hour to come together very gently to avoid damage.

It was the main goal of the mission, China's fourth manned trip to space.
Morris Jones, an Australia-based independent expert on the Chinese space program, said the length of the space flight -- the crew spent most of the 13 days in the Tiangong-1 -- was more significant than the manual space docking.

"This is China's longest and most complex space flight to date," Jones said.

"The most important thing about the mission is something they haven't said openly and it's the fact that this Tiangong laboratory is more than just a laboratory. It is a proper space station, albeit a very small one."

HOW STUFF WORKS: Is China winning the new space race?

China sees its space program as a symbol of its rising global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

Jones and other experts agreed that the success of Shenzhou-9, which means Divine Vessel in Chinese, had helped cement China's status in these areas.

"By demonstrating that they master (these procedures), China fully enters the club of big powers in human occupation (of space)", said Isabelle Sourbes-Verger, a space expert at France's National Center for Scientific Research.

"The political objectives for the space program -- to be able to demonstrate indisputable technological and scientific competence -- have been reached."
The Shenzhou-9 crew was headed by Jing Haipeng, a veteran astronaut on his third space mission.

Liu Wang carried out the manual docking and the third crew member was Liu Yang, the first woman China has sent into space. The 33-year-old air force pilot has been hailed as a national heroine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Indian five-year-old limbos her way to skating record - video

A flexible five-year-old from Maharastra in Indian has whizzed her way into the record books after setting a new benchmark for the farthest distance limbo skating under cars.

Kindergarten student Shreeya Rakesh Deshpande skated under 27 cars, covering a whopping distance of 48.2 metres (158ft 2in) during a successful world record attempt last week in Kolhapur.

GWR representative Nikhil Shukla was on hand to confirm that a new record had been set and presented Shreeya with her well-earned certificate as local press and her proud parents looked on.

An event celebrating Shreeya's achievement was organised later the same day in her hometown, with well-wishers once again treated to a demonstration of her amazing talent for limbo skating.

Shreeya's feat beats the previous record of 38.68 metres (126 ft 11 in) set by Rohan Ajit Kokane in February in Mumbai last year during filming for the TV show Guinness World Records - Ab India Todega.

Watch footage of Shreeya's moment of glory below.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Galleries / Flying in the Year 2052: Fast, Cushy, and Efficient


In its early days, air travel was glamorous. Decades of progress since then have made it safer and cheaper--but also grimmer and far more frustrating. These days the flight experience generally means hunching in a narrow seat, nibbling on a bag of pretzels, and straining to glimpse the sky through a tiny porthole.

What technology has taken away, another round of advancements could restore. By 2052,40 years from now, a new generation of aircraft could immerse passengers in panoramic views of the clouds. In their imagining of future flight, designers have envisioned fitness centers, theaters, even swimming pools aboard planes. Airbus suggests that by 2050, the biggest planes might resemble cruise ships, with swimming pools, virtual golf, and casinos. For working passengers, the plane will incorporate video and data links to the outside world.


This future vision of air travel may feel like mere fantasy. But with today's 3 billion passengers a year expected to quintuple by 2052, the only option is rethinking air travel from the ground up. One visionary is Ruben Del Rosario, manager of the NASA Subsonic Fixed Wing Project. His team is exploring aircraft that blend wings and body into a single, unbroken structure that reduces aerodynamic drag, cutting fuel costs and emissions. Crucially, the expanded body would allow the cabin to be less like a tube and more like an amphitheater, Del Rosario says. Boeing's unmanned three-engine X-48B resembles a manta ray with a 20-foot wingspan. The first phase of testing was completed in 2010.

To meet Defense Department goals for decreasing drag, Airbus suggests partially embedded engines into the main vehicle body. The engines would be built into the the top of the plane near the rear to shield people on the ground from noise.

Computerized planes would largely fly themselves; pilots could oversee matters using spoken commands and touch screens, enabling them to absorb and respond to information more rapidly than if they had to flip switches or hit keys.


As the plane moves toward new, more efficient shapes, the surface of the craft itself could become more aerodynamic. A material comparable to sharkskin--an outer casing made of plastic, shaped with microscopic grooves--could repel dirt and reducing air friction up to 5 percent. (Strange but true: Bug carcasses appreciably add to aerodynamic drag.) Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, suggests that by midcentury aircraft skin could alternate between transparent and opaque, somewhat like today's light-sensitive eyeglasses, giving passengers a wide-angle view of the clouds.

The surfaces of planes may achieve further efficiency gains by dynamically adapting to each situation. "You might have a morphing wing," says David Hills, an aerodynamicist at Airbus. "When a bird hovers, it makes microchanges to capture every last degree of performance from the conditions it's experiencing. That's where we need to go." Instead of slats and flaps, wings could be covered with sensors and small moving plates, allowing them to change shape during flight and counteract turbulence. Airbus may embed small, instantly responsive air jets to improve aerodynamics. Doing so would let airlines fly more people while burning less fuel.


Today's challenges extend beyond the plane itself. Inconvenient airports, security lines, and delayed takeoffs obliterate the speed advantages of flying. No surprise, then, that for trips under 250 miles, air travel has declined some 45 percent since 2000. Customers have been reduced to clamoring for an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights that mandates potable water, ventilation, and working toilets during grounded flights. But engineers and planners are conceiving more dramatic fixes. Airports of 2052 could emphasize relaxation and play, with minimal waiting and few checkpoints.

As the global movement of people and products grows, the airport of 2052 would take on the role of self-contained urban center. Pointing the way is South Korea's sprawling new Inchon Airport, which has its own casino, spa, and 72-hole golf course. The designer of Inchon's main terminal, Curtis Fentress, notes that for years airport design was mostly just "decorating the hangar." He foresees a time when quieter planes, possibly designed to take off and land vertically, will allow airports to sprout in traditional downtowns; this whimsical image shows some of the features suggested by Stanford University engineers and Fentress Architects. "What was grand about historical train stations is that they symbolically said, 'Welcome!'?" Fentress notes. An airport should do the same.

Improvements to airports won't just make airports more pleasant but also more efficient. Terminal gates may be closer together, like train station platforms, eliminating long hikes for passengers. To make this possible, Boeing has looked to the design of aircraft carrier jets in hopes of building planes with fold-up wings. And Siemens is testing high-speed luggage conveyors that zip from floor to floor, shortening connection times and bringing bags to passengers upon arrival. GPS-enabled ID tags will let people track their luggage.

Once air traffic control finally dumps radar for GPS (a long-overdue change), planes in flight would no longer have to stay miles apart. Precise positioning would let pilots customize flight routes according to conditions, instead of joining airborne queues or circling ad nauseam.


To ease the tedious check-in process on the ground, Siemens AG, the German technology giant, has begun testing face-recognition software so passengers do not have to show photo IDs in long lines. By 2020, scanners, sensors, and sniffers in stroll-through security corridors will check your bona fides quickly and nearly invisibly while you pass, predicts Kenneth Dunlap, director of global security for the International Air Transport Association.

You could saunter out of a karaoke bar (or whatever they have in 2052) and straight onto your plane.


For the wealthiest passengers--the ones who pioneered air travel in the first place--the aviation industry is researching high-speed civilian aircraft, which could be flying by 2030. These would cater to the free-spending uber-CEO as well as the adventure seeker, who might spend six figures for a ride.

The SpaceLiner, a hydrogen-powered rocket plane conceived by the German Space Agency, could someday carry up to 50 passengers through the upper atmosphere. Brussels to Sydney? A 90-minute hop. Virgin Galactic and others are proposing similar suborbital flights. Only the 10-minute launch would be powered. "The other 80 minutes is gliding, atmospheric flight," says Martin Sippel, the SpaceLiner's chief investigator. Top speed: Mach 20, nearly 24 times the cruising speed of a Boeing 787.


Passengers on the same connecting flight could be seated together in wheeled, ergonomically designed "pods" at the departure gate. Pods scheduled for the same destination would automatically travel in groups to connecting flights.

Our Wounderful Age Of Abundance

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Iguazu Falls, Halong Bay On Natural Wonders List

Iguazu Falls, Halong Bay On Natural Wonders List
  • The Amazon rainforest, Vietnam's Halong Bay and Argentina's Iguazu Falls were named among the world's new seven wonders of nature, according to organizers of a global poll.

  • The other four crowned the world's natural wonders are South Korea's Jeju Island, Indonesia's Komodo, the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River and South Africa's Table Mountain, said the New7Wonders foundation, citing provisional results.
  • Discovery Of Real Mermaids

    Discovery Of Real Mermaids

  • The new discovery of real mermaids was found near the sea shore. A strange mermaid-like creature found washed ashore. This variant claims that the mermaid was found on a sea shore may be washed by tsunami.

  • The snap shots show the 'mermaid' lying dead on the shores of the island. Still the mermaid creature remains to be an Unexplained Mystery.