Almost two-thirds of the world still does not have access to high-speed internet, but Google is determined to change that. Unfortunately, setting up an affordable infrastructure in remote areas is beyond even a huge multinational corporation's capabilities, which is why the company had to devise a completely out-of-the-box solution called Project Loon. As part of the project, Google recently launched a series of internet-enabled balloons into the stratosphere over New Zealand to provide broadband connectivity to rural areas.
Instead of shelling out for a complete radio-controlled plane, why not just add a powered propeller and steerable rudder to a paper plane of your own? That’s the thinking behind PowerUp Toys’ PowerUp 3.0
kit. Now, Canada’s Plantraco MicroFlight has applied that same sort of thinking to blimps. The resulting Nanoblimp, billed as “the world’s smallest RC blimp,” uses a plain ol’ party-variety helium balloon as its gas envelope.
When it comes to resealing an opened bottle of wine, most people either use the cork that the bottle came with, or a hand-pumped vacuum stopper. Now, however, there’s another option – it’s called the Air Cork, although we also kind of like its previous name, the Wine Balloon.
"Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are" – Felix Baumgartner, standing outside his capsule at an altitude of 24 miles (39 km) on October 14, 2012.
Well, Felix has gone and done it. Today over the arid countryside near Roswell, New Mexico, the Austrian daredevil successfully accomplished a feat that has been in the works since 2003 – he broke the record for the world’s highest parachute jump, dropping from an unofficial altitude of 128,100 feet (39,045 meters) – about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) higher than expected. In the process, he also became the first skydiver to exceed the speed of sound by reaching an estimated speed of 833.9 mph (1342.8 km/h) while in freefall. That's Mach 1.24 – the first supersonic skydive.
With the increasing availability of things like GPS tracking systems, we’re hearing more and more about regular people using weather balloons to launch items into the sky’s upper reaches - examples have included a video camera
, a miniature airplane
, and even spacesuit-wearing teddy bears
. While such efforts might get you interested in sending something of your own into almost-outer-space, the hassle involved in getting hold of all the necessary equipment could likely keep you from actually doing it. If you can fit your cargo into a ping pong ball, however, the folks at JP Aerospace will send it up for
Skydiver "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner has done it again - successfully carrying out an 18.3 mile (29.5 km) skydive from the Red Bull Stratos
balloon high above Roswell, NM. His top speed was 536 mph (865 km/h). At that altitude, the speed of sound is about 673 mph (1083 km/h), so Baumgartner's top speed was Mach 0.80!
There’s wind in that thar sky
... That’s the sort of thing that – conceivably – might be wistfully said by someone who is tasked with looking for locations in which to locate wind turbines. Their job could soon be getting a little easier, however, thanks to a new balloon-based wind-prospecting system.
Daring Austrian base-jumper and skydiver Felix Baumgartner is aiming to break a record that has stood for almost 52 years. In fact he is aiming to break four long established records, starting with world's highest manned balloon flight (120,000 feet or 36,576 meters) highest skydive (currently 102,000 feet ) and the longest freefall, which may well see him break the sound barrier as he plummets for nearly 23 miles (37 km) towards Earth. Last week Baumgartner jumped from 71,581 feet in the first manned flight test by the Red Bull Stratos project
, but to reach its ultimate goal the team must beat Joe Kittinger's record for the highest freefall set in August, 1960.
For those who dream of one day shooting aerial footage without the bulky cranes and cables to hold everything aloft, Japan's NHK may have just the thing: a tethered, balloon-mounted, four-axis gyro-stabilized camera rig that weighs in at about 2 kg and can soar up to 300 meters.
On October 22nd, just a day after the first manned flight of an electric multicopter
took place in Germany, California’s JP Aerospace achieved an aeronautical feat of its own – it broke the record for the world’s highest airship flight. Remotely controlled from the ground, the all-volunteer group’s Tandem twin-balloon airship
reportedly ascended to an altitude of 95,085 feet (28,982 meters). That’s almost four miles (6.4 km) higher than any airship has gone before.