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Vertical Aerospace, a UK aviation start-up, has unveiled the designs for the VA-1X, the world’s first certified electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which is scheduled to take flight in 2024.

According to Globetrender, the emission-free aircraft, with room for four passengers, luggage, and a pilot, can reach cruising speeds of 150 mph, and a flying range of up to 100 miles, meaning it can serve London to Brighton in 30 minutes.

The company aims to create an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to helicopters, particularly for airport transfers, potentially causing a revolution within the luxury travel and transportation sector.

Vertical Aerospace says that the entry-level price point for commercial flights is “expected to be between a helicopter flight and a private car and will decrease as adoption grows.”

As well as being cost-effective and sustainable, the flying taxis will be certified to meet commercial airline standards, and be 30-times quieter than a helicopter, due to the electric propulsion system and the large open rotors.

The 15-metre wingspan means the VA-X1 can take off and land from existing helipads, allowing for a smooth transition between the two means of transportation.

Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace is the first company to implement Formula One technology into the eVTOL aircraft, helping reduce the weight of the aircraft and weave in tech-inspired by racing cars’ electric motors. The firm is one of only a small handful of companies that have experience flying multiple eVTOL prototypes.

Manufacturing of the VA-X1 will take place in the UK with prototype production and flight trails to start in 2021 and commercial production starting in 2023/2024 for certification in 2024 and service starting shortly thereafter.

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Hydrogen propulsion systems are often used in space exploration rather than road vehicles, but one firm has now developed a hydrogen-electric supercar that is capable of doing zero to 60 miles per hour in just 2.2 seconds.

The Sportsman shared the design of the Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-electric supercar, which utilises the same technology used by NASA for space propulsion to create an environmentally friendly car.

The stats for the Hyperion XP-1 are impressive. It’s estimated to have a top speed of 221 mph, and a range of up to 1,000 miles, far outstripping many other electric cars already on the roads. What’s more, it produces zero emissions.

There are also “air blades” that wrap around the sides of the car to provide an aerodynamic structure that improves its handling. These air blades also include solar panels that are able to change their position to track the course of the sun.

Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris commented: “This is only the beginning of what can be achieved with hydrogen as an energy storage medium. The potential of this fuel is limitless and will revolutionise the energy sector.”

As CleanTechnica recently reported, sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK climbed significantly during the lockdown. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that EVs accounted for 32 per cent of new vehicle registrations in the UK in April this year.

Sales of EVs have continued to be strong in May, June and July this year too, indicating that consumers are increasingly happy to choose a vehicle that isn’t diesel or petrol powered.

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On Thursday 30 July, NASA’s latest mission to Mars successfully launched, propelling its Perseverance rover to continue the exploration of the Red Planet that has fascinated astronomers, and science fiction writers who wondered if there was life on Mars since Galileo first observed it in 1610.

Following in the tyre tracks of its predecessors, Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers, Perseverance, a one-tonne, six-wheeled robot, is equipped with the very latest technology to complete its mission - to discover if life ever existed on Mars, reports the BBC.

Soon after the spacecraft separated from the Atlas rocket booster that took it into orbit, it began its cruise phase on its 300 million miles, seven-month journey, travelling at a speed of around 24,600 mph. NASA engineers will be keeping an eye on its journey, making adjustments to its flight path along the way, to reach its destination of the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet.

NASA’s team, based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, have confirmed that the spacecraft is healthy, and on its way to Mars.

Perseverance is set to land in a river delta within Jezero Crater, looking to repeat the same exciting entry, descent and landing that NASA’s Curiosity rover had in 2012, which still continues to roam the Martian surface today, sending back incredible photos and data.

Perseverance will use seven scientific instruments to explore the geology and climate of Mars and also look for signs of ancient microbial life.

It will also be tasing the atmosphere of Mars to see if the planet’s carbon dioxide atmosphere can be converted into oxygen, which would be essential for future manned missions.

The rover will also collect rock samples with a drilling arm, keeping them safe so that the samples can be one day returned to Earth for much more in-depth testing and investigation.

As for the moment, Mars is still the only known planet to be entirely populated by robots, and we all look forward to seeing Perseverance join its brothers and sisters.

Electron beam welding is an essential part of manufacturing in space exploration, so get in touch if you want to know more.

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The Food and Drink Sector Council (FDSC) has launched a COVID-19 Recovery Plan for the industry, after the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the strength and fragility of the food chain.

A report from the FDSC stated that the COVID-19 lockdown saw the UK food system face its biggest challenge since 1945—“to keep the nation fed.”

It highlighted a number of areas of significant economic impact in varying ways. Panic buying sparked by the pandemic prompted some food manufacturers to boost production by up to 50%. Many retailers, farmers and other producers also increased sales—while the hospitality industry saw “sales evaporate” as a result of social distancing rules and regulations.

Terry Jones, industry co-chair of the FDSC and Director General of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) spoke on the matter, saying how the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the strength of the UK food chain, and how well industry and government can work together—but that COVID-19 also laid bare the fragility of our food system:

“This report clearly outlines what needs to be done to ensure the entire sector can restart successfully and build a greener, healthier system for all.”

Overall, the report builds on the positive response to changing consumer demands during this extremely challenging time, commending the ways in which businesses and people came together to ensure food supplies were maintained, shelves stacked, and the most vulnerable people protected.

However, its key message is to look at the lessons we can learn from the coronavirus outbreak to make the food system more resilient in the future.

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The International Space Station (ISS) is going to be visible in the skies above the UK from now until the start of August, allowing us three weeks to see a real spaceship, carrying its astronaut crew.

But that’s not all we will be able to see. Comet Neowise will also be visible to the naked eye until the end of July, as it races towards its closest approach to Earth - a mere 64 million miles away (That’s 260 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon).

Even at these vast distances, there have been many reports of it being spotted on clear nights recently. If we get a break from the cloudy weather for some clear nights, look out for it low in the northern sky about an hour after sunset.

There will also be planets visible at the same time, giving us all a proper tour of the solar system. Jupiter and Saturn should be visible in a clear sky all night.

However, if it is the International Space Station you’re holding out for, then you might have to be prepared for some late nights or some early mornings. To get an up to date schedule for what time daily you can see the ISS pass overhead, MeteorWatch has a guide for you.

You might need to allow ten minutes either side of the scheduled appearance, as the ISS might need to make orbital adjustments, which will affect the time it passes overhead.

Electron beam welding is an essential part of space exploration, as well as many other applications. Get in touch today if you need our services.
Over the last few months, many of us have faced shortages of our favourite food products at the supermarkets. Even after the hoarding crisis died down, when consumers emptied shelves in panic, major retailers have failed to supply everything their customers want to buy due to countries locking their borders.

Without being able to rely on trade as much as before, it has led experts to question whether one of the legacies of the coronavirus pandemic is the UK becoming more self-sufficient in its food production.

An article in World Crunch revealed that 86 per cent of Germans wanted the nation to “be able to meet its own needs for basic foodstuffs through domestic agriculture”.

The study, carried out by the University of Gottingen, revealed the majority of Germans wanted the country to improve its agricultural food production so consumers would not have to restrict the amount of pasta, sugar, yeast, or flour they could buy in the future.

However, this might not be as simple as it seems, with many ingredients being flown in from all over the world.

Rudolf Trettenbrein, managing director of the consultancy firm Inverto Austria, said: “Many ingredients that could be produced in Germany actually come from China. That’s often the case, for example, with dried fruits such as apricots, peaches and plums.”

This has helped countries make substantial savings. Furthermore, food production industries are able to benefit from international trade, with Germany exporting 71.6 billion euros (£64.1 billion) worth of food products around the world in 2019.

To cope with the challenges of food production, which would need to increase by up to 70 per cent over the next 30 years to keep up with growing populations, researchers at the University of Copenhagen have come up with a solution.

They have determined 75 new technologies could “transform the entire food chain”, including artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, robotics, vertical farming and micro-algae production.

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On 14 July, the UAE will become the first Arab country to launch a mission to Mars, as part of a wider regional effort to build knowledge and create opportunities, especially for young people.

The Hope Mars Mission is expected to reach the planet by February, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the UAE. The project has been planned, managed and implemented by an Emirati team overseen and funded by the UAE Space Agency, according to the BBC

“This mission is not just about the UAE it’s about the region, it’s about the Arab issue,” Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), said.

“The region is going through tough times and we do need good news and we need the youth in the region to really start looking inwards, building their own nations and putting differences aside to co-exist with people with different faiths and backgrounds and work together.”

Developing talent, creating opportunities for engineers, scientists, and researchers working in natural sciences are the next important endeavours for the country, Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Sciences added.

“Mars provided us with the necessary challenge to rigorously develop talent in engineering, it gave us an appetite for risk and being able to circumvent the risk and push forward with the mission for development. It allows us to start integrating and creating new opportunities for scientists within the UAE and those that are studying the natural sciences,” said Al-Amiri.

Since the project was launched in 2014, the team has designed, developed and assembled the spacecraft, and repeatedly tested it through the harsh conditions it is expected to encounter.

Over the last 60 years, only six countries have sent missions to the Red Planet.

Sir Ian Blatchford, director of the UK’s Science Museum Group, described the UAE’s project as fascinating.

“What they are trying to achieve is remarkable for a country that is developing this infrastructure, but particularly I think they’re being very modest in describing the fact that they’re doing it in half the time,” he said.

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Almost exactly three days after SpaceX’s historic first crew launch from the Kennedy Space Centre on 30 May, the 15-storey tall Falcon rocket booster has been returned to shore, after landing itself aboard a football field-sized drone ship off the coast of Florida shortly after the weekend launch.

Local residents, tourists, and space enthusiasts flocked to Jetty Park and Port Canaveral to witness the return of the reusable rocket booster, as the SpaceX drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ brought the rocket home, reports

A tug boat pulled the drone ship through the inlet leading to Port Canaveral at around 2 pm local time (around 7 pm BST) on Tuesday 2 June, and the Falcon 9 rocket booster was carefully hoisted off the drone ship by a crane, and into an onshore stand.

SpaceX planned to remove or retract the rocket’s landing legs, then rotate the booster horizontal for transport back to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for further inspections, and likely refurbishment for another launch.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 3:22 p.m. local time on Saturday 30 May from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre carrying NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a test flight to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The launch grabbed the attention of space enthusiasts all around the world, as it marked the first time US astronauts have launched from U.S. soil into Earth orbit since the last space shuttle launch July 8, 2011.

After the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket detached from the upper stages, around two-and-a-half minutes after launch, it deployed four fins for aerodynamic stability, then reignited a subset of its Merlin engines to steer toward a landing on the drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ a few hundred miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.

A single-engine burn slowed the rocket for the final descent to the drone ship’s deck, and four black landing legs made of carbon fibre extended just before touchdown.

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The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published guidance for employers, employees, and the self-employed within the food industry. The guidance is to help understand safe working practices during the coronavirus pandemic.

No matter whether it’s more traditional food production, or modern foodtech facilities, the guidance focusses on hygiene practices and requirements that must be adhered to by businesses and people.

The FSA has suggested that business owners should ensure risk assessments address the risks of COVID-19, using the government social distancing guidance to inform decisions and control measures.

Food manufacturers

The guidance states that food manufacturers are required to implement and maintain hygiene procedures based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

It notes that manufacturers should consider the need for additional verification of existing controls or validation of any new controls that have been introduced. Any changes need to be documented to be presented to the relevant food authority or the FSA.

The guidance includes the following:

• Food manufacturers should ensure that materials passed their use-by date are disposed of properly
• Stock checked for damage and check temperature control records
• They should ensure that any new suppliers or contractors meet requirements. This should be specified in their HACCP or HACCP-based Food Safety Management System (FSMS)
• Manufacturers should check that they have stocks of cleaning chemicals and personal protective equipment (PPE)
• If suppliers or ingredients have changed, food manufacturers will need to review their allergen management and labelling in line with their HACCP or HACCP-based FSMS
• Machinery and equipment that has been idle may need inspection and testing to ensure it is capable of normal function.
• By law, food business operators must ensure that food handlers receive the appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene

The guidance also advises on the use of PPE in the food industry for the protection of workers, and to prevent contamination of food during production.

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