Defying Gravity

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Categories: Aerospace

3 April 2017


Ever since President Eisenhower established NASA in 1958, the world’s population has been hooked on pushing the boundaries of human exploration. In the 60 years that followed, humankind has travelled faster, further and more fantastically than ever before.

In early 1969, the first flight of the Concorde roared out of Toulouse, proving the colossal plane could take to the skies. Just a few short months later, the world watched as Neil Armstrong and ‘Buzz’ Aldrin took their first, tentative steps across the lunar surface. In quick succession, NASA sent missions to land on our nearest neighbours, tallying a list of firsts as they headed for Venus, then Mars, and finally set out to explore Jupiter.

Our endeavours weren’t limited to exploring space however, as closer to home McCready’s Gossamer Condor proved human-powered flight possible, and balloonists took to the air in a race around the globe. Last year alone, humans have seen the first circumnavigation of the world in a plane powered only by sunlight; witnessed the halting return of the hydrogen-filled airship; and sent a scientific satellite into Jupiter’s orbit for the first time in history.

Throughout April, we take a look at the latest in gravity-defying engineering and meet people whose jobs are out of this world.

First up, additive manufacture development engineer and QEPrize ambassador, Sean Gallagher, gives us an inside look at 3D printing technology for today’s aircraft. In an interview with the QEPrize, Sean shares his journey into engineering from his early days as an apprentice with BAE Systems.

Next, Emma Goulding explores how bringing a little ‘curiosity’ to the classroom can inspire students to take up engineering. Leading a series of STEM outreach sessions with Siemens, Emma has been helping young people get hands-on with engineering with a specially designed ‘mars lander’ challenge.

Finally, we hear from Anita Bernie, platforms and demos director at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). As the world’s leading commercial small satellite company, SSTL specialises in delivering space missions for small satellites throughout their life cycle; from design and build right through to launch and in-orbit monitoring and maintenance.

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