Photokina 2014 highlights

David Szondy

Artist's concept of the Philae lander that is set to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Ger...

After you become the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid, what do you do for an encore? For ESA’s Rosetta comet probe, the answer is to get ready for the first soft landing on a comet nucleus. Only weeks after going into orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the unmanned Rosetta explorer is engaged in a fast-paced reconnaissance of the comet and has identified five candidate sites for putting down the Philae lander in November.  Read More

Artist's impression of New Horizons passing Pluto (Image: NASA)

Like a traveler on a very long road trip, a deep space probe has passed the last sign post before its destination. NASA has announced that its New Horizons probe has passed the orbit of Neptune – its last milestone before it flies by Pluto on July 14 next year. Launched in 2006, the piano-sized unmanned spacecraft is almost 2.75 billion mi (4.42 billion km) from Earth and is the fastest man-made object ever sent into space.  Read More

Northrop Grumman's preliminary design for DARPA's Experimental Spaceplane XS-1 (Image: Nor...

Northrop Grumman, in partnership with Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, has unveiled the preliminary design it is developing as part of DARPA’s XS-1 Spaceplane project. Looking like a windowless update of a 1960s Dyna Soar orbiter, it’s the next step in producing launch systems that will dramatically reduce the costs of getting into orbit.  Read More

The BAE smart skin would turn the entire hull of an aircraft into a sensor array

In some cases, a pilot discovering damage to an airplane involves noticing a frightening thump on the hull. That may indicate that something is wrong, but not what or where. On the other hand, when human beings are injured, the network of nerves in the skin tell us almost exactly where and what is wrong. Stealing a march on nature, BAE Systems’ Advanced Technology Centre is working on a "smart skin" that covers the fuselage of an aircraft with thousands of microsensors to send back a wide variety of detailed information in real time.  Read More

Lockheed Martin is providing the US Navy with two Fortis exoskeletons

Move over, Tony Stark; the US Navy is going Iron Man. The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) has ordered a pair of Fortis exoskeletons from Lockheed Martin for testing and evaluation. The unpowered exoskeletons won’t give sailors superhuman strength, but they will allow them to handle heavy equipment for longer periods with less fatigue.  Read More

An FR9 test rocket awaiting flight

SpaceX gave a dramatic demonstration on Friday of why spacecraft undergo such thorough testing. At its testing ground at McGregor, Texas, a SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable Development Vehicle 1 (F9R Dev 1) exploded in midair during a test flight. Nearby residents saw the fireball and local television station KXXV caught the incident on video. Elon Musk tweeted that the vehicle "auto-terminated," but there were no injuries or near-injuries, and that “Rockets are tricky …”  Read More

Nuship Canberra transiting the waters of Jervis Bay, New South Wales (Photo: RAN)

The largest ship ever built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has taken to sea as it begins its final contractor trials. The 27,800 tonne (30,600 ton) Nuship Canberra is the first of two Land Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships under construction for the Australian Defence Force and is billed by the RAN as “one of the most capable and sophisticated air–land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.”  Read More

Whoosh Innovations has developed a 'fish gun' to help salmon bypass man-made obstacles whe...

If you live in an area where salmon spawn, then summer treats you to a free nature drama as the fish battle against currents, fight through rapids, struggle up tiny streams, and leap up waterfalls to return to the calm pools where they were born. Unfortunately, however intrepid the odd salmon is, they weren't built to take on a 300-ft tall hydroelectric dam. That's why Whooshh Innovations has developed a system that sucks the fish up through a plastic tube and shoots them over obstacles low and tall like so many piscatorial projectiles.  Read More

GXV-T aims to make tanks half as heavy and twice as fast (Image: DARPA)

As a quick visit to any armored division will make obvious, tanks are big ... really big. A Challenger 2 main battle tank, for example, weighs 62.5 tonnes (68.9 tons) and costs about £4.2 million (US$7 million). And as anti-tank weapons get better, tanks can only get bigger. To avoid armies of tomorrow having to pay for land-going battleships, DARPA’s Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program aims at developing lighter, more agile successors to the tank that protect themselves with more than ever-thicker walls of steel.  Read More

Diagram of the ExoLance penetrator that would search for signs of life below the surface o...

If there’s life on Mars, it will have a great impact on Earth. But to answer the question, a group of engineers want to make an impact on Mars. Explore Mars, Inc., a private organization made up technologists and former NASA engineers, wants to look for signs of any present life on Mars not by scratching about on the surface, but by dropping supersonic lances on the planet that will penetrate deep into the Martian soil to seek out protected, potentially wet strata where life might still exist.  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 28,548 articles