10 YEARS AGO — 2000 -- Keep watching the skies: It’s easy to track construction of the International Space Station without telescopes or binoculars: Located between 208 and 285 miles above Earth, the structure is becoming one of the brightest fixtures in the night sky as it orbits Earth 16 times a day. When complete, the 470‑ton “city in space” will be brighter than Venus. NASA’s “Liftoff to Space Exploration” Web site (htp://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/) tells users how to identify the space station and how to determine when it will pass over their hometown. The site also lets visitors track other objects in Earth orbit, including Mir, the Russian space station.
30 YEARS AGO — 1980 -- The frontrunners and technology: Will the reins of government guide technology or strangle it over the next four years? With the Presidential election of 1980 in full swing, MD sent questionnaires to the election headquarters of both President Carter and Governor Reagan to get an idea of what they propose to do on issues of interest to engineers.
50 YEARS AGO — 1960 -- Ten motors to the cubic inch: The aspirin-size solution to an airborne timer-drive problem is a hysteresis motor rated at 1.5 × 10-6 hp. A. W. Haydon Co., Waterbury, Conn., uses the “world’s smallest” electric motor to power the smallest digital elapsed-time indicator ever manufactured (bottom right). The four-digit timer is 0.5 in.2 × 1.0625 in. long. The motor is 0.378 in. in diameter × 0.281-in. long and weighs 0.11 oz. Operating on 115 V, 400 cps, it requires less than 0.5 W.