Monthly Archives: June 2013

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope #FRP

Northrop Grumman and teammate ATK have completed manufacturing of the backplane support frame (BSF) for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the design and development of the Webb Telescope’s optics, sunshield and spacecraft.

When combined with the centre section and wings, the support frame will form the primary mirror backplane support structure, the stable platform that holds the telescope’s beryllium mirrors, instruments and other elements. It holds the 18-segment, 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while the telescope is peering into deep space. The backplane support frame is the backbone of the observatory, is the primary load carrying structure for launch, and holds the science instruments.

Living in Sustainable Cities of the Future

Masdar City, United Arab Emirates – This gleaming example of sustainable urban living just 17km east of Abu Dhabi is currently more university and business campus than metropolis, but when Masdar City is complete in 2025, it will be home to 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters. The city’s master plan, designed by the architects Foster + Partners, put roads underground (and bans cars that use petrol), allowing for very narrow pedestrian streets that capture and funnel the breezes, aided and shaded by thick city walls, a technique Arab builders have used for centuries. The city’s modern elements come in the renewable energy and clean tech sources being developed at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which currently houses 250 students on campus. The city is completely powered by renewable energy sources such as solar, and the buildings are being constructed with recycled materials, including steel and aluminium. Energy and potable water demands have been reduced by more than 50%, using a quarter of the energy of a conventional city the same size. “We are addressing social, economic and environmental sustainability and also making sure it’s affordable,” said Omar Zaafrani, communications manager for Masdar City. The building that houses both the Masdar and International Renewable Energy Agency headquarters will have stores and restaurants in addition to office space, powered by 1,000sqm of photovoltaic panels. While no residential buildings beyond dormitories have been built, they are in the works. “There are various residential plots around the city, and over the coming years they will be tendered out to global architects,” Zaafrani explained. The city’s economic free zone – with zero taxes, import tariffs or restrictions on foreign hires – is set up to specifically attract clean energy and tech companies, clustering them together in incubator office buildings. “The number one target is people who work in Abu Dhabi and around the UAE,” Zaafrani said. “We are trying to make sure as we build up the city, there will be demand for both commercial and residential spaces.” Currently, a four-bedroom villa in central Abu Dhabi rents for around 200,000 dirhams a year, while a two-bedroom flat in Reem Island rents for around 100,000 dirhams. Over the next two years, 45,000 new flats and houses will come available.

New York to Spend Billions on Climate Resiliency

Nearly eight months after Hurricane Sandy slammed the north-eastern United States, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a far-reaching $20 billion plan to build flood barriers and “green infrastructure” to protect low-lying areas of Manhattan from future superstorms.

Following Sandy, the mayor appointed a task force to assess the city’s vulnerability. In a report released this week based on its recommendations, the mayor cited scientists’ predictions that sea levels could rise as much as 31 inches by 2050, accompanied by severe storms and prolonged spells of extreme heat and cold.

“Hurricane Sandy made it all too clear that, no matter how far we’ve come, we still face real, immediate threats,” Bloomberg said in a speech at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the same location where IceStone, a Sustainable Industries-profiled company, was nearly wiped out following Sandy (in this case, workers rallied to restore the factory). “Much of the work will extend far beyond the next 200 days — but we refuse to pass the responsibility for creating a plan onto the next administration. This is urgent work, and it must begin now.”

Bloomberg’s recommendations are highlighted by “green infrastructure” projects, including supporting renewable and distributed energy generation systems, planting more trees and vegetation on streets and rooftops, upgrading building codes, enhancing natural wetlands, and refurbishing drainage systems to manage runoff. The mayor also  appointed a “director of resilience” named Daniel Zarilli.

The plan is heavy on construction of stormwalls and barriers, but Bloomberg suggested these could come in the form of elevated parks and boardwalks.

The mayor’s report was endorsed by a cadre of business and environmental organizations, including the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy, Real Estate Board of New York, Environmental Defense Fund, Building Resiliency Task Force, The Rockefeller Foundation, NRDC, New York Smart Grid Consortium, the American Institute of Architects New York chapter, and the region’s largest energy utility, Con Edision.

“These new guidelines place New York City at the forefront of thinking on resiliency relevant for coastal communities around the world,” said Christopher Collins, executive director of Solar One. “This continues a series of strategic steps that the Bloomberg administration has taken, including investment in new, sustainable building models, to help create a new paradigm for construction that addresses both the fact of climate change, as well as the need for renewable and sustainable practices.”

How will New York pay for it all? The city can rely on $10 billion in city capital funding and federal aid, and another $5 billion in U.S. disaster relief, the mayor said. Additional federal funding and capital raised through the sale of municipal bonds would be needed to cover the remaining $4.5 billion, he added. The plan outlines a number of ways to raise the additional billions that would be required for the plan to become a reality.

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