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Flying cars and a glimpse into the life of a stranded cosmonaut

An idea for a future air taxi hovers over a municipal vertiport in this NASA illustration. Experts from NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility mission have signed agreements with four states and one city to host a series of workshops that will help local governments prepare their transportation plans to include this new form of air travel.
Lillian Gipson and Kyle Jenkins
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NASA
An idea for a future air taxi hovers over a municipal vertiport in this NASA illustration. Experts from NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility mission have signed agreements with four states and one city to host a series of workshops that will help local governments prepare their transportation plans to include this new form of air travel.

Air Taxis

The Jetsons' flying car could become a reality. NASA is working on new technology that will create a new mode of transportation in our skies with air taxis.

The goal is for these air taxis to be easily accessible for people to travel in, and NASA is working on a way for users to call the vehicle from a hub port, possibly with an app on their phone.

Nancy Baccheschi is the chief engineer for integration of automated systems under NASA. She says the vehicles will have very specific trajectory systems.

“It's communicating the intent of that aircraft," Baccheschi said. "So not only where am I now, but where am I going to be a second from now? Eight seconds from now? A very specific latitude, longitude, altitude and time. And so, we're working with various entities in NASA to develop that research.”

The air taxis will also be able to respond to conflicts very quickly. Bacchesci said the vehicles will be able to see the paths of other taxi's and quickly respond.

"What we're calling four dimensional trajectories or four DTS, the idea being that if everybody is eventually equipped with this type of automation," Bacchesci said. "My aircraft can be looking at all the other aircraft's intent and knowing, oh, you're planning to be here, at any given time, I'm planning to be here, I see a conflict five minutes down the way, if one or both of us makes a small correction, we can, you know, deconflict from each other, but still get to our endpoint at a very specific time."

313 Days in space

The podcast, The Last Soviet, tells the story of cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev’s 313 days stranded in space when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Sergei Krikalev, mission specialist representing the Russian Space Agency (RSA), floats in the Unity module on Flight Day 8. A banner displaying the flags of all the ISS participants is at right.
JSC
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NASA
Sergei Krikalev, mission specialist representing the Russian Space Agency (RSA), floats in the Unity module on Flight Day 8. A banner displaying the flags of all the ISS participants is at right.

Lance Bass from NSYNC is also the host of that podcast The Last Soviet. Bass said he stumbled upon Krikalev's story while he was training for a private space mission in Russia.

“I just thought it was so fascinating to hear about life before the ISS, the experiments, all stations, and I had never heard about Krikalev’s story, especially being stranded in space," Bass said. "313 days in the fall of communism and Soviet Union, it was such an insane time, and how his patriotism took over. And he might not agree with half of what his country is doing. But as a patriot, just stayed up there and decided to man the last outpost for his country.”

Marian is a multimedia journalist at WMFE 90.7 working as a reporter and producer for the 'Are We There Yet?' space podcast.
Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.
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