Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Flight

Felix Baumgartner prepares to skydive from an unofficial altitude of 128,097 feet (39 km) ...

    "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.  Read More

The quadrocopters in the skies over Linz, Austria, as part of the annual Klangwolke (Photo...

Many see small quadrocopters as the future of surveillance, aerial photography, warfare and even construction, but a new demonstration involving a world record-setting swarm of 50 quadrocopters has shown the aircraft can also pull off some pretty impressive dance moves.  Read More

Solar Impulse comes in the land in Payerne, marking the end of the first ever solar-powere...

As anticipated, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA experimental solar-powered aircraft completed the first ever solar-powered intercontinental roundtrip journey between Europe and Africa today. The roughly 6,000 km (3,728 mile) trip commenced on May 24 and consisted of a total of eight legs averaging 800 km (497 miles) before reaching its conclusion with a landing back where it all began in Payerne, Switzerland at 8:30 pm on July 24, local time.  Read More

The Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) is an inflatable heat shield effective...

Legendary science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) scored another hit in the prediction department on Monday, July 23, 2012 when NASA tested an inflatable heat shield that he foresaw back in the 1980s. The test of the Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by rocket into a suborbital trajectory from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA. The unmanned vehicle reached velocities of up to 7,600 mph (12,231 kph), yet was protected from atmospheric heating by the mushroom-shaped shield.  Read More

The flight time of the Stalker UAS has been improved by 2,400 percent using a wireless las...

Late last year, DARPA researchers upped the standard two-hour endurance of Lockheed Martin’s Stalker small unmanned aerial system (UAS) by a factor of four using a propane-fueled compact solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Now the flight time of the aircraft has been improved by a whopping 2,400 percent, with a test flight lasting more than 48 hours using a laser power system to wirelessly transfer power to the UAS from the ground.  Read More

The Masten Xaero landing vertically on it's launch platform in the Mohave desert

In celebration of the two hundred and thirty sixth anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence from British rule, Masten Space Systems has performed a record-setting flight of their vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) Xaero suborbital rocket at the Mohave Air and Space Port. Unlike the rockets designed specifically for the NASA Lunar Lander challenge, the Xaero is the only VTVL rocket intended to carry payloads into suborbital trajectories. The test flight saw the Xaero propelled to an altitude of 444 meters (1,457 feet), before returning to Earth and making a perfect landing on its jets. However, the test flight took place on July 3 - after all, who wants to work on the fourth?  Read More

Terrafugia flying car during Phase I flight test (Photo: Terrafugia)

Six years after the initial announcement that Terrafugia, Inc. would develop a "roadable airplane", the Transition has completed the first phase of flight testing. The flight testing, carried out at Plattsburgh International Airport in northern New York State, assessed the light sport aircraft's full performance envelope. The Transition prototype was reported to perform "exceptionally well", allowing the testing to be carried out quickly.  Read More

VSS Enterprise glides to earth on its latest successful glide flight test (Photo: Chris Va...

Virgin Galactic’s suborbital, air-launched spaceplane, SpaceShipTwo (SS2), aka VSS Enterprise, is back in the air after a break of nearly nine months following a recent integration period for rocket motor systems and maintenance. The June 26 flight coincided with another successful full duration test fire of the spaceship’s engine RocketMotorTwo (RM2) on the same day. The tests mark an intensification of activity that sees Virgin Galactic aiming for powered flights by the end of the year.  Read More

The X-37B features a similar design to the Space Shuttle but is around a quarter of the si...

The second Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:48 a.m. Pacific time on Saturday, marking the successful completion of its first flight. Being developed for the Rapid Capabilities Office of the U.S. Air Force, the X-37B is intended to demonstrate the capabilities of reusable unmanned spacecraft in the wake of the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet.  Read More

Synergy is designed to be more comfortable, more efficient and less expensive than other s...

The airplane is arguably the biggest single revolution in travel ever. Voyages that used to entail weeks of dangerous, life-threatening navigation can now be done in the matter of hours. No single invention has connected physical space like the plane. Yet, there's still much room for improvement in terms of cost, efficiency and comfort. With this in mind a team of U.S. designers is developing what they believe is a better solution for flying: the Synergy aircraft.  Read More

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