SpaceX Launch Vehicle Lands Perfectly After Flight
SpaceX completed a vertical landing of its Falcon 9 rocket on December 21, the first time such a feat had been achieved. The launch and landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida, were the first from the spaceflight company since its rocket exploded on liftoff in June. SpaceX had not previously attempted to land a rocket on land, and it marked the firm's first successful attempt to recover a rocket from an orbital flight. Previous attempts, all unsuccessful, were tried on floating landing pads. The 15-story first stage of rocket propelled a payload to a height of 62 miles where a second stage booster took over. Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, landed a launch craft in November after a suborbital flight.
Nontoxic Firefighting Foam
Fighting large-scale fires usually involves the use of foams based on synthetic substances, such as prefluorinated surfactants. Despite their effectiveness, these foams can be toxic for living organisms. Complete biodegradation of such foams can take more than 200 years, with residues penetrating deep into soil and surface water. This can lead to the accumulation of toxic elements in plants and animals. A team of chemists from ITMO University, in collaboration with research company SOPOT, has developed a firefighting foam based on inorganic silica nanoparticles. The foam creates a polymer network when exposed to air. This network embraces and adheres to the burning object and cools it down. At the same time, the foam itself hardens. After the fire is out, the substance actively absorbs water, softens and falls apart. Should the foam at this point be ingested by plants or animals, it poses little, if any, danger to them.
Setting Sail with LNG-Powered Engines
A unit of General Dynamics has completed bunkering liquefied natural gas for a container ship powered by LNG. Upon delivery to TOTE Maritime, the vessel will join a sister ship for its trade route between Jacksonville, Fla. and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ships are part of a fleet of vessels whose owners are opting against using heavy fuel oil in advance of new emission regulations that come into effect in 2020. Under rules from the International Maritime Organization, sulfur content from ships will not be permitted to be above 0.5% in the open sea and as low as 0.1% in some emission control areas. The Marlin-class ships will reduce particulate matter by 99%, sulfur dioxide emissions by 98% and nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide by 71% over the ships TOTE currently uses in Puerto Rico.