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Mashable
Monday, May 21, 2012
TRENDING STORIES IN TECH & GADGETS
Changed Windows 8 Desktop Revealed, Interface Improved [VIDEO]
7 Fun Accessories for Your Geeky Pet
7 Hot Startup Tips for Raising a Killer Seed Round
ALL STORIES IN TECH & GADGETS

SpaceX Replaces Faulty Rocket Valve for Space Station Flight
Sunday, May 20, 2012 4:04 PMSpace.com

SpaceX engineers have replaced a faulty engine valve on a private rocket carrying the first commercial space capsule bound for the International Space Station following the last-second abort during an attempted liftoff Saturday (May 19).

The valve replacement came after SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which will lift the firm's unmanned Dragon capsule toward the station, aborted its launch attempt a half-second before liftoff from a pad here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Technicians investigating the glitch discovered a faulty check valve was to blame for the high engine pressure that forced the booster's engines to unexpectedly shut down.

SpaceX engineers replaced the balky valve late Saturday, and are now inspecting the Falcon 9 rocket in preparation for a possible second launch attempt early Tuesday (May 22).

"We will continue to review data on Sunday," company officials said in a statement Saturday evening. "If things look good, we will be ready to attempt to launch on Tuesday, May 22nd at 3:44 AM Eastern."

Dragon is set to become the first non-governmental spaceship to rendezvous and berth at the space station during a mission sponsored by NASA's COTS program (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) aimed at procuring commercial U.S. vehicles capable of filling the gap left by the retired space shuttles.

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX (short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) planned to launch Dragon atop its Falcon 9 rocket Saturday, but a high pressure reading in the booster's fifth engine caused a last-second abort.

"We had a nominal countdown right until about T minus 0.5 seconds," SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said during a news briefing following the abort. "Software did what it was supposed to do, aborted engine five, and we went through the remaining engine shutdown."

Technicians went out to the rocket's launch pad at the Air Force station's Complex 40 Saturday to examine the engines for signs of the issue's root cause.

"During rigorous inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine," officials said in the statement.

The robotic Dragon capsule is due to deliver food, clothes, science equipment and other supplies to the space station when it arrives.

The mission is the final test flight scheduled for SpaceX before it can begin running regular delivery missions to the outpost. The company is contracted to fly at least 12 of these for NASA at a total price tag of $1.6 billion.

You can follow SPACE.com assistant managing editor Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz. Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.



5 Smart Companies Using Tech For Good
Sunday, May 20, 2012 1:14 PMLauren Hockenson

In our social entrepreneurship series, The World at Work, Mashable interviews the faces behind the startups and projects that are working to make a global impact.

By harnessing the power of the web and digital technology, these organizations help children with autism communicate, match volunteers to their perfect charity and fund classrooms all over the country. While the companies are diverse, they are all on a mission to change our lives for the better and improve society.

Here's a roundup of featured projects from the last week, including exclusive video interviews with the founders of these innovative startups. To read more and watch the videos, click through to the full story, and follow the series to learn about more breakthrough companies.

1. Keepon

Big Idea: Keepon is a little robot developed in Japan that is used to research childhood communication and interaction. The consumer version, MyKeepon, funds the construction and distribution of Keepons to labs around the globe.

Why It's Working: Keepon's simple design and mannerisms make it an effective communication tool that doesn't intimidate kids with autism. Also, its cuteness factor is nothing short of infectious.

Read the full story here.

2. Donors Choose

Big Idea: Donors Choose is an educational charity that allows donors to choose to fund a variety of classroom projects and materials.

Why It's Working: With more than $116 million raised and 6 million kids helped in classrooms all over the country, Donors Choose has been increasing its impact and surpassing funding records every year since it went live in 2003.

Read the full story and see the video here.

3. Social Reality

Big Idea: Social Reality is an app developer that integrates philanthropy and gaming into brands' social media strategies.

Why It's Working: The app network blends gaming and social good to create viral digital engagement programs as part of a brand's social strategy. Its network of social apps reaches more than 300 million visitors each month.

Read the full story here.

4. Idealist

Big Idea: Idealist is a platform that helps connect non-profits and charities with volunteers, interns and employees.

Why It's Working: With more than one million registered users, Idealist is a conduit for those interested in working at non-profits or charities to find a job with purpose. It's also a win for non-profits and charities, which benefit from visibility and resources found on Idealist's website.

Read the full story and see the video here.

5. Raspberry Pi

Big Idea: Raspberry Pi is a small, lightweight computer that runs on Linux and costs next to nothing -- the Model A retails at $35, while the forthcoming Model B will be priced at $25.

Why It's Working: By far the cheapest computer on the market, the creator of Raspberry Pi hopes to get the gadget in the hands of children all over the world.

Read the full story here.

What do you think of the efforts of these startups and foundations? Let us know in the comments below.



 
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