NASA stands by its X-planes

By Pat Host and Ben Iannotta

November 1, 2023

A substantial portion of the agency’s aviation budget over the next four fiscal years will be dedicated to building and flying demonstration aircraft, including some with X-plane designations. NASA is staying with that plan, despite setbacks since the initiative was announced in 2016. Why is the agency so determined to continue, and when will the first of the experimental planes fly? Pat Host and Ben Iannotta set out to find out.

Listening for turbulence

By Keith Button

April 1, 2023

In recent months, airline passengers have been injured by encounters with clear air turbulence that, at the moment, crews have no way to detect. A solution could be at hand through a collaboration between NASA and the National Research Council Canada. Keith Button tells the story.

Battery breakthrough

By Keith Button

March 1, 2023

Lithium-air batteries have intrigued futurists with their promise of storing vastly more electricity than today’s lithium-ion versions. But they have always suffered from an Achilles’ heel: They couldn't be charged and discharged over and over again, as required for commercial applications, including air travel. Keith Button spoke to researchers who have made a breakthrough in that part of the lithium-air equation.

The comet conundrum

By Jon Kelvey

February 1, 2023

Hollywood loves its comets, but many of those in the planetary defense field are more focused on the threat of an asteroid strike, given the long odds of a comet smashing into Earth. Who is right? Here’s what Jon Kelvey found out.