Crucial test of Europe’s long-delayed Ariane 6 rocket delayed

Hotfire testing of the new Ariane 6 rocket has been delayed due to problems with ground equipment. 

Test firing of the huge Ariane 6 rocket’s core stage did not take place as planned on Aug. 29 at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, the European Space Agency announced via X (formerly known as Twitter) a day later. 

The cause was a technical issue affecting the control system that governs the rocket’s critical fluid operations, used for filling the launcher and the automated countdown. “Specialists are working on a solution. The next attempt is planned for 5 September 2023,” the ESA post read.

Related: See Europe’s powerful new Ariane 6 rocket on launch pad (photos)

The short hotfire test will see the rocket’s Vulcain 2.1 engine fire for a matter of seconds. A longer test firing is planned for Sept. 26, despite the delay, while the rocket’s upper stage will go through a third hot-firing test at the German aerospace agency DLR’s technical center in Lampoldshausen on Sept. 1, according to an Aug. 9 ESA statement.

Earlier this month the CEO of France-based company Arianespace confirmed that the inaugural launch of the new Ariane 6 heavy-lift rocket will slip into 2024.

Ariane 6 was initially planned to begin flying in 2020 and replace the aging Ariane 5. That rocket has since retired, launching for the final time in July. This, coupled with the grounding of the Vega C rocket following a failure last year, means Europe is currently without independent access to space. 

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September 1, 2023 at 03:13PM

Boom’s supersonic jet moves toward debut flight (photos)

A new supersonic jet has completed further milestones on the runway toward its debut faster-than-sound flight. 

Aviation startup Boom Technology’s XB-1 demonstrator jet has moved from a hangar in Centennial, Colorado, to the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. At Mojave, the 71-foot-long (22 meters) carbon-composite jet has been undergoing extensive ground testing, the company said in a statement, including “taxi testing” this week. 

“The recent progress made toward XB-1’s first flight reflects the team’s collective efforts to build and safely fly the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet,” Boom Supersonic Founder and CEO Blake Scholl said in the statement.

The plane is designed to fly at Mach 2.2 — 2.2 times the speed of sound, or around 1,700 mph (2,700 kph). The first flight will occur over the Mojave desert in the same patch of airspace where, in October 1947, Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier  in the Bell X-1 experimental aircraft.

Related: NASA’s X-59 ‘quiet’ supersonic jet looks ready to fly in new photos

The XB-1 also recently took another important step toward its first flight, receiving an experimental airworthiness certificate from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after a detailed aircraft inspection.

Additionally, authorities have approved the use of airspace over the Mojave desert by XB-1, and Boom has letters of authorization to allow Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker and test pilot Tristan “Gepetto” Brandenburg to fly the supersonic jet during the test flight.

“It’s fitting that XB-1 is now progressing toward first flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port, home to more than 50 first flights and other significant aviation events,” Shoemaker said. “I’m looking forward to flying XB-1 here, building on the achievements of other talented engineers and pilots who inspire us every day to make supersonic travel mainstream.”

Boom Technologies’ XB-1 supersonic jet on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Image credit: Boom Technologies)

Both Boom test pilots have completed hundreds of hours in a simulator and a T-38 trainer jet to help them train for the flight.

According to Boom, the company brought together 60 years of airplane technology, including advancements in carbon fiber composites and advanced avionics, to create the carbon composite body and titanium fuselage of the XB-1.

The supersonic aircraft features a modified delta wing — a wing pairing in the form of a triangle, named for its resemblance to the uppercase Greek letter delta — that not only allows it to reach above Mach 2 but also enables safe takeoff and landing. Boom says that the XB-1 possesses three General Electric J85 engines that provide the jet with a combined thrust of up to 12,300 pounds.

Overtures toward commercial supersonic flight

The XB-1 represents a milestone in the development of Boom’s planned commercial airliner, called Overture, which Scholl said could soon make supersonic flight mainstream. 

Provided all goes well with XB-1 testing, Boom aims to roll out the Overture craft in 2026, with the first flight of the aircraft planned for no sooner than 2027. 

Overture will be a successor to the last commercial supersonic aircraft, the Concorde, which operated between 1969 and 2003. Concorde was grounded due to rising operating costs and falling ticket sales. That latter problem resulted primarily from two factors: the crash of Air France Flight 4590 in 2000, which killed all 109 passengers and crew as well as four people on the ground, and a general downturn in the aviation industry in late 2001 following the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Concorde’s last supersonic passenger flight was on Oct. 24, 2003, according to, when it flew at twice the speed of sound between  John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Heathrow Airport in London carrying 100 passengers.

The 201-foot-long (61 m) long Overture will be capable of reaching a cruising speed of Mach 1.7, traveling over land 20% faster than current commercial aircraft and over water twice as fast as today’s fastest airliners. Overture will be capable of carrying between 64 and 80 passengers and will operate on 100% sustainable aviation fuel, Boom says.

According to the company, when operational, the plane should be able to travel between New York and Rome in just 4 hours and 45 minutes, a journey that currently takes around 8 hours, and between San Francisco and Seoul in just over 8 hours, instead of just over 12 hours.

via Space

September 3, 2023 at 05:01AM

India’s Chandrayaan-3 landed on the south pole of the moon ? a space policy expert explains what this means for India and the global race to the moon

India made history as the first country to land near the south pole of the moon with its Chandrayaan-3 lander on Aug. 23, 2023. This also makes it the first country to land on the moon since China in 2020.

India is one of several countries — including the U.S. with its Artemis program — endeavoring to land on the moon. The south pole of the moon is of particular interest, as its surface, marked by craters, trenches and pockets of ancient ice, hasn’t been visited until now.

The Conversation U.S. asked international affairs expert Mariel Borowitz about this moon landing’s implications for both science and the global community.

Related: Watch Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan rover take its ‘1st steps’ on the moon (video)

Why are countries like India looking to go to the moon?

Countries are interested in going to the moon because it can inspire people, test the limits of human technical capabilities and allow us to discover more about our solar system.

The moon has a historical and cultural significance that really seems to resonate with people – anyone in the world can look up at the night sky, see the moon and understand how amazing it is that a spacecraft built by humans is roaming around the surface.

The moon also presents a unique opportunity to engage in both international cooperation and competition in a peaceful, but highly visible, way.

The fact that so many nations – the United States, Russia, China, India, Israel – and even commercial entities are interested in landing on the moon means that there are many opportunities to forge new partnerships.

These partnerships can allow nations to do more in space by pooling resources, and they encourage more peaceful cooperation here on Earth by connecting individual researchers and organizations.

There are some people who also believe that exploration of the moon can provide economic benefits. In the near term, this might include the emergence of startup companies working on space technology and contributing to these missions. India has seen a surge in space startups recently.

Eventually, the moon may provide economic benefits based on the natural resources that can be found there, such as waterhelium-3 and rare Earth elements.

Are we seeing new global interest in space?

Over the last few decades, weve seen a significant increase in the number of nations involved in space activity. This is very apparent when it comes to satellites that collect imagery or data about the Earth, for example. More than 60 nations have been involved in these types of satellite missions. Now were seeing this trend expand to space exploration, and particularly the moon.

The successful landing prompted celebrations across the country, like this one in Mumbai. (Image credit: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

In some ways, the interest in the moon is driven by similar goals as in the first space race in the 1960s – demonstrating technological capabilities and inspiring young people and the general public. However, this time it’s not just two superpowers competing in a race. Now we have many participants, and while there is still a competitive element, there is also an opportunity for cooperation and forging new international partnerships to explore space.

Also, with all these new actors and the technical advances of the last 60 years, there is the potential to engage in more sustainable exploration. This could include building moon bases, developing ways to use lunar resources and eventually engaging in economic activities on the moon based on natural resources or tourism.

How does India’s mission compare with moon missions in other countries?

Indias accomplishment is the first of its kind and very exciting, but its worth noting that its one of seven missions currently operating on and around the moon.

Students in India prayed for the safe landing of Chandrayaan-3. (Image credit: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

In addition to Indias Chandrayaan-3 rover near the south pole, there is also South Korea’s Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, which is studying the moons surface to identify future landing sites; the NASA-funded CAPSTONE spacecraft, which was developed by a space startup company; and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The CAPSTONE craft is studying the stability of a unique orbit around the moon, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is collecting data about the moon and mapping sites for future missions.

Also, while India Chandrayaan-2 rover crashed, the accompanying orbiter is still operational. China Chang’e-4 and Chang’e-5 landers are still operating on the moon as well.

Other nations and commercial entities are working to join in. Russia Luna-25 mission crashed into the moon three days before the Chandrayaan-3 landed, but the fact that Russia developed the rover and got so close is still a significant achievement.

The same could be said for the lunar lander built by the private Japanese space company ispace. The lander crashed into the moon in April 2023.

Why choose to explore the south pole of the moon?

The south pole of the moon is the area where nations are focused for future exploration. All of NASA 13 candidate landing locations for the Artemis program are located near the south pole.

This area offers the greatest potential to find water ice, which could be used to support astronauts and to make rocket fuel. It also has peaks that are in constant or near-constant sunlight, which creates excellent opportunities for generating power to support lunar activities.

via Space

September 3, 2023 at 07:02AM

The ozone hole above Antarctica opened early this year. Huge Tonga undersea volcano eruption may be to blame

The ozone hole above Antarctica has opened up unusually early this year. Scientists think the cataclysmic Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption that sent shockwaves around the world in January 2022 may be to blame.

The development is not unexpected. Ozone experts predicted earlier this year that the eruption, which injected 50 million tons (45 million metric tons) of water vapor into Earth’s atmosphere, is likely to have an impact on Earth’s protective ozone layer in the years following the eruption. 

Concentrations of water vapor in the stratosphere, the second lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere where the ozone layer resides, increased by 10% due to the explosion of the undersea volcano. That, according to Paul Newman, the chief scientist for atmospheric science at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, resulted in “significant cooling” in the stratosphere, which is bad news for ozone levels. 

New data released by the European environmental monitoring agency Copernicus now suggest that the predictions were likely correct. Concentrations of ozone above Antarctica dropped extremely low in early July. Such early onset of the ozone layer’s destruction has been recorded only about a dozen times in the 43 years since scientific measurements began, Copernicus said in a statement

Related: Auroras blasted a 250-mile-wide hole in Earth’s ozone layer

This animation shows the early onset of the Antarctic ozone hole in early July, 2023, and its fast progress throughout August.   (Image credit: Copernicus)

The data show that the extent of the ozone hole in August 2023 ranks as the 10th largest on record. Currently, the hole is over 6 million square miles (16 million square kilometers) in size. It will continue to grow until about the end of September when Antarctica begins to warm as it moves into its spring period. The hole will take at least until the end of November to close, but it may survive much longer.

The stratospheric cooling that results from increased concentrations of water vapor in the stratosphere leads to more frequent formation of polar stratospheric clouds. Scientists believe that these eerie iridescent clouds that form at altitudes between 9 to 15 miles (15 to 25 kilometers) provide the right chemical environment for ozone depleting substances (ODS) present in the stratosphere to do their destructive work. Although most of these substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons previously used in aerosol sprays and refrigerators, were banned by the 1987 Montreal Protocol, their natural breakdown takes decades and their concentrations in the atmosphere are still high. 

Vincent-Henri Peuch, the director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), said in the statement that although researchers can’t tell for sure whether Hunga Tonga is to blame for this year’s above-average ozone depletion, they hope to learn more from measurements in the coming months. 

“Our ability to provide three-dimensional analyses and forecasts of the ozone in the poles is a powerful approach to monitor in real time how ozone holes develop, and to assess what are the key drivers behind what is being observed,” Peuch said. “This gives us insights about the extent to which particular events affect this year’s development of the Antarctic ozone hole, such as the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption of last year that increased the amount of water vapor in the stratosphere.”

The aftermath of the Hunga Tonga eruption is a completely new territory for scientists as no previous volcanic eruption in documented history has injected so much water into the atmosphere. 

Other factors, however, are at play, when it comes to the unusual behavior of the ozone layer, according to Copernicus. 

The previous three years saw very large and long-lasting ozone holes, although those holes opened later in the season than they did this year. Scientists think that the progressing climate change may be contributing to ozone depletion despite the gradual decrease in atmospheric concentrations of ozone depleting substances. Processes in the atmosphere are complex, and models suggest that while temperatures near Earth’s surface are getting undoubtedly higher, the stratosphere is in fact cooling down (even without the additional water from Hunga Tonga)  — and that means more ozone destruction.

“The previous three years have been characterized by strong and persistent Antarctic stratospheric polar vortices and the ozone holes have been among the largest and longest lasting on record,” Copernicus said in the statement. “This does not imply that the Montreal Protocol to ban the use of ozone depleting substances is not working. On the contrary, under these conditions, ozone depletion would have been even stronger without the ban.”

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via Space

September 5, 2023 at 05:03AM

Marvel Just Shifted Around Most of Its Disney+ Shows (Again)

Agatha’s show not only has a new release, it has a new title.
Image: Marvel Studios

Season two of the Marvel Studios show Loki is still set to hit Disney+ next month, but everything after that just got thrown in a blender. Some shows are coming earlier, some are coming later, and some are not coming at all. At least for a while.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of the schedule shifts as follows. What If…?, the animated show entering its second season, will now be the only other Marvel show hitting Disney+ this year. It’ll be out sometime around Christmas Day. Echo, the Hawkeye spinoff starring Alaqua Cox, was supposed to drop in November but now has moved to January 2024. That’ll be followed by the long-awaited, highly anticipated X-Men ‘97. The animated series will arrive sometime in early 2024. The WandaVision spinoff starring Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha Harkness not only has a new release plan, it’s got a new name. The show will now be called Agatha: Darkhold Diaries and won’t be out until fall 2024.

That’s what’s coming, at least for now, but there are also a bunch of shows on temporary hold. Ironheart, the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever spinoff starring Dominique Thorne, finished filming but, for some reason or another, can’t be finished until after the strikes. Daredevil: Born Again and Wonder Man were both in production as the strikes happened, and had to be shut down. So none of those have any official timeframe anymore.

So what does all these mean for Marvel as a whole? Well, first of all, that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige should call his boss, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and yell at him to make a fair deal with the writers and actors. The company is obviously beginning to feel it. Short of that happening, what most fans expected in terms of Phase 5 and 6 of the MCU is going to be stretched out even further.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

via Gizmodo

September 1, 2023 at 04:57PM

Volkswagen will produce an EV version of its GTI hot hatch

Volkswagen’s ID lineup is pretty well fleshed out by now, with vehicles ranging from the ID.2all compact to the ID.4 crossover — but where are the enthusiast vehicles? VW has answered that question with the ID.GTI concept, an electric hot hatch that will eventually head to production. 

Much like original GTI that inspired it (the "I" no longer stands for injection but "intelligence"), it’s a sporty, compact hatch that looks fast standing still. Size-wise, it’s shorter but taller than the current Golf GTI, with slightly more interior volume. The ID.GTI is based on (and strongly resembles) the ID.2all compact, adding features like 20-inch wheels, front, side and rear spoilers, a rear diffuser, a honeycomb grill, striped graphics, LED fog lights and more. 

Volkswagen will produce an EV version of its GTI hot hatch

It’ll have handling and performance tweaks as well, but VW didn’t provide any details. The ID.2all comes with a 223HP motor, good for a 62MPH sprint in under seven seconds, with an estimated 280-mile range. The ID.GTI is likely to beat those figures handily, though, and the top speed should be faster too. 

VW did say that the ID.GTI would have an electronically-controlled front-axle differential lock offering traction control, just like the current Golf GTI. And it will work even better, the company wrote, "because the setup of the electric drive motor, as any electric system, can be varied almost infinitely." It also has a low center of gravity to aid handling, thanks to the battery’s location in the vehicle floor.

Volkswagen ID.GTI

Inside, the ID.GTI concept has tartan sport seats, a drive selector, a sportier steering wheel and a 10.9-inch instrument cluster, along with a 12.9-inch infotainment system. It also features an AR head-up display, projecting information like speeds and even track layout, both for the driver and front passenger. A special GTI button activates a red lighting scheme. 

Volkswagen said that it will produce the ID.GTI concept, but didn’t say when or what it would sell for. It’s a good bet that it’ll arrive around the same time as the ID.2all, though, which is priced under $30,000 and slated for a 2025 release.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

via Engadget

September 4, 2023 at 08:06AM

The Human Camera: Autistic Artist Recreates Complete Cityscapes From Memory

This documentary recounts the tale of Stephen Wiltshire, who started his journey as a nonverbal autistic boy. At just eight years old, he amazed the world by producing his initial artwork depicting Salisbury Cathedral. As he grew, he transformed into a dynamic and captivating young artist, now recognized as one of the globe’s most exceptional savants.

Click This Link for the Full Post > The Human Camera: Autistic Artist Recreates Complete Cityscapes From Memory

via [Geeks Are Sexy] Technology News

September 2, 2023 at 08:54AM