News Article | February 1, 2016
Student engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came out as the overall victors in the recently concluded SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend. The awarding ceremony was held on Saturday, during which more than 1,000 students gathered at the Texas A&M University System to await the announcement of winners. The second, third, fourth and fifth placers were Delft University of Technology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Virginia Tech and University of California Irvine, respectively. SpaceX also announced numerous other winners for specific categories such as propulsion, design, levitation, braking and innovation. "Congratulations to the finalists and all the student teams who competed in the first-ever SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition," says Texas A&M University System chancellor John Sharp. The two-day competition started on Friday when over 100 university teams presented their design concepts to the judges. The teams came from 27 U.S. states and 20 countries. The winners will be given a chance to create and test their pods at the world's first Hyperloop test track that is currently being installed near SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The competition aims to excite engineers and the public for the highly advanced transport system introduced by SpaceX's founder Elon Musk in 2013. Aside from that, the event may also serve as a countermeasure for the skeptics who have said that the Hyperloop was impractical, over-the-top and highly expensive. The Hyperloop is a conceptual ground transport system proposed by Musk and Tesla. The tube-like vehicle is said to transport passengers in aluminum pods by up to 760 mph, making travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco possible in 30 minutes. The Hyperloop is looking at transforming passengers' transportation experience while ensuring safety and speed. The estimated cost of the Hyperloop is $6 billion, but that's just for the passenger type. For a more extensive model that can serve as a freight transport vehicle, expenses are estimated to reach about $7.5 billion. Overall, the competition was a success, and there is no other person more thrilled than Musk. He was happy with the enthusiasm showed by the participants throughout the weekend. For this, he promised in his speech that it would not be the last. SpaceX will hold more competitions for the Hyperloop in the future.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senator Angus King (I-Maine) have filed an amendment to a wide-ranging energy bill to prevent state regulators from unduly altering state net metering policies. The amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012) would add new language to PURPA, a landmark 1978 energy law, to require that state regulators include the benefits of distributed solar in any change to net metering valuations. The Reid-King amendment would further prohibit regulators from retroactively changing net metering arrangements for existing customers. SunEdison, the renewable energy company, was once the darling of the hedge fund world. Big-name investors like Steven A. Cohen, Leon G. Cooperman and David Einhorn rode the stock as it soared to ever-increasing heights. And then it crashed. Now, under pressure, SunEdison has agreed to give Greenlight Capital, which is led by Mr. Einhorn, a seat on its board and said it would amend some of its policies. Elon Musk has bigger problems than "super rude" customers and exploding SpaceX rockets. Tesla's stock has crashed and burned too. Tesla stock is down more than 25% so far this year. It hit its lowest level since February 2014 on Wednesday. Wall Street has grown increasingly skeptical about the company in recent weeks. Scientists in Germany today switched on a new kind of nuclear reactor, the latest experiment in the quest to produce clean, sustainable power from controlled nuclear fusion. Chancellor Angela Merkel flipped the switch on the Wendelstein 7-X, a $435 million doughnut-shaped apparatus built at the Max Planck Institute for Particle Physics in Greifswald. Hydrogen was injected into the device and superheated by microwaves until it became type of matter known as plasma for a fraction of a second. Renewable Energy World: Geothermal Groups Collaborate on Guides for States to Meet EPA Standards New geothermal industry guidance for Clean Power Plan compliance has been made available for five U.S. states. The free state-by-state guides released by the Geothermal Energy Association, Geothermal Resources Council and the Geothermal Exchange Organization examine the benefits and uses of three major types of geothermal applications: power generation, direct use and heat pumps -- and cover Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Idaho and Colorado.
News Article | March 4, 2016
UPDATE, Feb. 28: SpaceX aborted the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket for a third time on Sunday night. The space technologies company went ahead with the... Read more: Spacex, Falcon 9, Elon Musk, Space Travel, Spacex Landing, Space, Science News
News Article | February 1, 2016
A team of engineering students from MIT has won the Best Overall Design Award at the SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend contest at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The MIT Hyperloop Team won for their design for pods that could travel via Hyperloop, a conceptual transportation system described in 2013 by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as a series of tubes that shuttle passengers in pods at up to 700 miles an hour. The MIT design beat out more than 115 student engineering teams from across the globe, reports the Texas A&M Engineering blog. The winning team said the philosophy behind their design "is to demonstrate high-speed, low-drag levitation technology. We aim to build a light pod to allow us to achieve the highest cruise speed." The design relies on a magnetic levitation system that keeps the pod 15 millimeters above the Hyperloop tube’s surface. The pod’s shell will be constructed of woven carbon fiber and polycarbonate sheets. In case of emergency, the pod design includes a braking system that will automatically activate if any system in the pod fails, and, if necessary, the pod would be able to drive itself forward or backward using physical wheels. Twenty-one other teams participating in the competition also won awards for innovation and technical excellence. All 22 teams will get the chance to actually test their designs on a real Hyperloop test track at SpaceX's Hawthorne, California headquarters this summer. Musk, who is also CEO of electric car company Tesla, made an appearance at the awards event, where he praised all the teams involved. "I'm starting to think this is really gonna happen. It’s clear that the public and the world wants something new, and I think you guys are going to bring it to them," Musk said. He added, "As soon as [the Hyperloop] happens somewhere, and people see it really work out, I think it will quickly spread throughout the world." Indeed, though public Hyperloop tracks are years away from being built, there are now plenty of companies looking to lay the groundwork for the future transportation system. However, Musk noted that SpaceX itself is focused on space travel right now. "We don't have any specific plans to back Hyperloop companies," Musk said. "It's possible that we would back a [Hyperloop team], but we're trying not to favor one organization over another."
The satellite, known as Jason-3, aims to offer a more precise look at how global warming and sea level rise affect wind speeds and currents as close as one kilometer (0.6 miles) from shore, whereas past satellites were limited to about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the coast. "That is a significant advantage over our predecessors," said Jim Silva, Jason-3 program manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The technology will also monitor global sea surface heights, tropical cyclones and help support seasonal and coastal forecasts. During a five-year mission, its data will also be used to aid fisheries management and research into human impacts on the world's oceans. The satellite is the fruit of a four-way partnership between NOAA, NASA, the French space agency CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). The launch is scheduled for Sunday, January 17 at 10:42 am (1842 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The weather outlook was clear for launch time, but in case of a delay, another launch window opens Monday at 1831 GMT. After the rocket sends the satellite on its way, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will power back toward Earth in a bid to set itself down on a barge, or droneship, as SpaceX calls the floating platform. The attempt is the latest in a series of trial runs as SpaceX attempts to make rocket parts reusable, lowering the cost of spaceflight and making it more sustainable and accessible. Currently, expensive rocket components are jettisoned into the ocean after launch, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars. The California-based company headed by Internet entrpreneur Elon Musk managed to land the Falcon 9's first stage—the long, towering portion of rocket—on land at Cape Canaveral last month. But an ocean landing has proven elusive, with prior attempts ending in failure. According to Hans Koenigsmann, president of mission assurance at SpaceX, the company decided to try an ocean landing because it did not have the "environmental approval" to attempt a landing on solid ground in the area, though it hopes to in the future. "We had a really good landing last time so things are looking good," he told reporters. There will not likely be any live images of the touchdown, due to the droneship's distance from shore, he added. Explore further: SpaceX to launch rocket Dec 19, six months after blast