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Aerospace

Aerospace engineers are behind some of the most awe-inspiring feats of mankind. That's space and terrestrial flight – of course – but also the equipment that makes weather forecasts, mobile phones and TV broadcasts possible.

Series

Quick read

An illustration of two women scientists in a lab with an array of brightly coloured test tubes.
  • Aerospace
  • How I got here
  • Issue 97

Q&A: Khadijah Ismail

After completing a degree apprenticeship with BAE Systems, Khadijah Ismail has turned her hand to writing STEM children’s books to inspire the next generation of engineers.

Quick read

View of planet Earth from space, being orbited by a satellite harvesting solar power
  • Aerospace
  • Innovation Watch

Generating solar energy from space

Renewable solar energy harvested from space could help us to meet net zero by putting large arrays of photovoltaic panels in orbit to send solar energy down to Earth.

Quick read

  • Aerospace
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Technology & robotics
  • Innovation Watch

How AI can help 3D print perfect plane parts

Finding and correcting 3D printing errors is especially tough in the aerospace sector: a part with even a 300-micron defect could be catastrophic.

A NASA satellite floating in space, with the Moon visible behind it.
  • Aerospace
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 95

Lift-off for the UK's space industry

The UK has an impressive history in space and a now-thriving space sector, with three new spaceports on the way.

Quick read

  • Aerospace
  • How I got here

How I got here – Darrel Njogu

A passion for aviation led engineering student Darrel Njogu to pursue a career as an aerospace engineer, combining it with his love for science. Having spent a year on placement with BAE Systems, he plans to return to the company when he graduates later this year.

A black and white photograph of a young man sitting in a helicopter.
  • Aerospace
  • Mechanical
  • Profiles
  • Issue 92

The helicopter flight fixer

When Philip Dunford FREng started his career, flight test engineers flew alongside pilots. As his career progressed, flying time gave way to developing new aircraft.

To represent the importance of time to the economy, a hand holding a coin with a clock face is moving to insert it into a slot.
  • Aerospace
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Technology & robotics
  • Issue 92

Why microseconds matter

Time’s time to shine: why is ultra-precise time so important for everything from bank transactions to public transport? The NPL’s Dr Leon Lobo explains all.

Quick read

An engineer standing in a manufacturing facility.
  • Design & manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • How I got here
  • Issue 90

Q&A: Kate Todd-Davis

Apprentice Kate Todd-Davis followed her passion for aerospace and automotive engineering to Rolls-Royce – and gained a degree in manufacturing technology from the University of Sheffield along the way.

  • Aerospace
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Software & computer science
  • Issue 90

Supercharging GPS precision

With the help of startup FocalPoint (headed up by ‘the real-life Q’), we examine the past, present and near-future of this integral technology.

  • Aerospace
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Issue 88

Why a 1960s technology is at the frontier of space exploration

In February 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars, fitted with a suite of seven instruments designed to search for signs of past and present life. Tereza Pultarova spoke to Paul Jerram, Chief Engineer at Teledyne e2v, about the CCD technology at the heart of two of these cutting-edge scientific devices.

A concept image of ZeroAvia's 19 seat plane in the sky.
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Aerospace
  • Issue 88

Towards zero carbon aviation

The aerospace industry has a problem. It’s the same problem faced by every other energy-using industry: find a way to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. No industry will find it easy. However, for several reasons, the aerospace industry may find it the hardest of all. Stuart Nathan talked to Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO of California-based startup ZeroAvia, about the first step on the road towards hydrogen-powered aircraft.

A concept image of a solar orbiter in space, facing the sun.
  • Aerospace
  • Issue 82

Flying close to the sun

A new European spacecraft, the Solar Orbiter, is set to improve our understanding of the Sun, including what gives rise to solar wind, a phenomenon that can affect technologies such as communications satellites and electric grids. The UK has invested €200 million in the €1.3 billion project and helped develop four of the instruments onboard. Tereza Pultarova spoke to Ian Walters, Solar Orbiter Project Manager at Airbus Defence and Space, about the space probe.

A Virgin modified plane flying above Earth and launching a small satellite into low Earth orbit.
  • Aerospace
  • Issue 82

Launching low Earth orbit satellites from UK spaceports

Spaceports represent an ingenious solution to the logistical challenges of launching small satellites into orbit. Neil Cumins reports on two spaceports at opposite ends of the UK that will use different methods to launch low Earth orbit satellites into space.

The ExoMars rover at the Stevenage Airbus aerospace premises. It is placed in a sandpit that is covered with rocks in a room full of lights.
  • Aerospace
  • Issue 81

Finding life on Mars

The UK has sent dozens of spacecraft to space, but has never successfully landed one on another planet. Tereza Pultarova spoke to UK engineers working on the European ExoMars rover about the technology that will enable some ground-breaking discoveries – including finding traces of what may have been life on Mars.

A schematic of Earth with 28 satellites orbiting in three orbital planes for the Galileo satellite navigation system.
  • Electricals & electronics
  • Aerospace
  • Technology & robotics
  • How does that work?
  • Issue 81

Global positioning system

The global positioning system (GPS) enables anyone with a smartphone or navigation units on cars to pinpoint their location or tell the time. Initially developed for military use, it now has applications ranging from aviation safety and banking to rescuing ships in distress.

The inside of a factory with an aircraft wing being being lifted from a jig in Belfast.
  • Aerospace
  • Materials
  • Issue 80

Composites take off

When the Airbus A220 took to the air, it flew with the first certified commercial aircraft wing made using resin transfer infusion. The composite, carbon fibre wing is 10% lighter than a metal one, which reduces its environmental impact by consuming less fuel while flying and requiring less energy for its manufacture. These achievements won Bombardier the 50th anniversary MacRobert Award for engineering innovation.

An electric plane taking off in a city from a helicopter landing pad.
  • Aerospace
  • Environment & sustainability
  • Opinion
  • Issue 79

Can electrification solve aviation’s emissions problem?

A growing population and the efficiency and decreasing costs of air travel are leading to concerns about the aviation industry’s green credentials. As focus increases on creating a more sustainable planet for the future, the industry is looking to make changes. Paul Stein FREng, Chief Technology Officer at Rolls-Royce, sets out why the industry and policymakers should be looking at electrification to address such challenges.