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Moon bricks could keep the lights on and the heat up in Lunar colonies – TechCrunch

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There may be no “dark side” of the Moon, but when and where it is dark, it’s dark — and stays that way for two weeks. If we’re going to have colonists up there, they’ll need to stay warm and keep the lights (among other things) on for the long lunar night. Turns out bricks made of Moon dust could be part of the solution.

Of course they will use the readily available solar power during the lunar day, and you might think that they could just charge up some batteries to last them through the night. But batteries are large and heavy — not the kind of thing you want to pack for a trip to the Moon.

How else could lunar colonies store energy? The European Space Agency partnered with Azimut Space to find out whether a sort of improvised geothermal energy solution would be feasible.

The one thing they’ll have a lot of up there is dust — lunar regolith, to be precise. And thanks to samples brought back by the Apollo missions, we’re pretty familiar with the stuff. So the team simulated some using terrestrial materials to see what they could do with it.

“In this study, we used Earth rock with comparable properties to Moon rock, crushed into a powder until the particles matched the size of those in the lunar regolith,” said the ESA’s Aidan Cowley, who oversaw the project.

The faux-regolith was compressed into bricks, which were then wired up and heated using current like what they might be able to pull from solar cells on the Moon’s surface. The brick was then placed in an imitation lunar environment — near-vacuum and around -150 degrees C — and hooked up to a system that could withdraw heat from the bricks and convert it to electricity.

“Using lunar regolith to store heat on the Moon would provide us with an abundance of readily-available material meaning space travelers wouldn’t need to take much from Earth,” said Azimut’s Luca Celotti.

The ESA write-up says only that the process “worked well,” which isn’t particularly descriptive. I’ve contacted Azimut for more information. It seems, however, that if the method had worked but poorly, we wouldn’t be hearing about it at all.

There are plenty of fundamental challenges in creating what amounts to an enormous, crude battery out of Moon dust, but if it works even marginally well it could become an important part of the energy and heat storage suite that any lunar colony would have to employ.

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The Real Reason The US Cancelled This Multi-Billion Dollar Helicopter Project

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Prior to UAVs like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper capturing the public’s attention during the War on Terror, stealth aircraft were all the rage. Aircraft like the B2 Spirit showed the potential for stealth attack aircraft. The RAH-66 Comanche was supposed to follow that same trend. 

The Comanche was a joint venture by Sikorsky and Boeing and was originally intended to act as a reconnaissance aircraft and pinpoint targets of interest, according to Boeing. 

Looking like a PlayStation One render of a helicopter, the Comanche was designed to operate stealthily. Its angular body panels allowed it to fly into enemy territory virtually undetected. The Comanche was not designed to be a flying weapons platform like the AH-64 Apache, but it wasn’t a slouch either. It boasted a 20mm chin gun and the wing pylons could be equipped with air-to-air or air-to-ground missiles (via Hotcars).

With nearly 20 years of hindsight, it’s easy to see why the military favored drones over the stealth wizardry of the Comanche. But back then, a stealth helicopter was the future of warfare.  

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American Airlines New Supersonic Jets Could Slash Flight Times In Half

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Being built to travel at Mach 1.7, or about 1,304 miles per hour (when traveling over water), the Overture would get passengers to their destinations much faster than the average commercial flight. Though one of its primary trade-offs is capacity, as Boom says the jet can only manage between 65 to 80 passengers at a time. That’s roughly half of the commonly-used Airbus A320’s 140 to 170 passenger capacity or the 149 to 220 maximum seating of the Boeing 737 series. Though on paper the Overture does boast more range — up to 4,250 nautical miles — than either of its mass transit contemporaries.

A ride in an Overture aircraft should also be just as safe as today’s typical flights, with Boom on the hook to make sure the new plane meets the current industry standards. Additionally, the new models will also have to meet American’s own requirements even before it delivers its first plane.

If all goes according to plan, Boom should begin rolling out manufactured Overtures sometime in 2025. It expects to start carrying passengers by 2029. So far nothing has been said about the availability of Overture flights to American Airline customers once it has the planes in hand, nor anything about ticket pricing.

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The 5 Best Ways To Celebrate May The 4th: Star Wars Day

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While you’re perfectly welcome to head to your local LEGO retailer to pick up a set and snap it together, we’ve got another bit of a treat for you. Straight from yesterday’s Toys-R-Us “May The 4th Be With You” Star Wars LEGO event, here are the directions to the Wookie Gunship mini-build.

Above you’ll see the first half of the directions, below you’ll see the second. These pieces should be relatively easy to find – supposing you’ve got stacks of LEGO blocks handy to build with.

These sets weren’t sold – they were given away to the tiniest and newest fans of Star Wars, the kids! The next generation!

Below you’ll see a gallery provided by Toys-R-Us of the Star Wars event held at (most) Toys-R-Us locations across the United States.

Celebrate along with us by sharing your Star Wars Day experience right now!

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