Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Rocket

Francois Gissy on his rocket-powered bicycle

On May 19 of this year, Francois Gissy claimed a new land speed world record by reaching 263 km/h (163 mph) on a rocket-powered bicycle. Now the flying Frenchman has gone even faster, hitting a peak speed of 285 km/h (177 mph) in just 6.7 seconds.  Read More

A sampling spacecraft launching a penetrator missile (Image: NASA)

In what at first glance seems like a terrible sense of direction, in March students from the University of Washington fired rockets from kites and balloons at an altitude of 3,000 ft (914 m) straight into the ground at Black Rock, Nevada: a dry lake bed in the desert 100 mi (160 km) north of Reno. This may seem like the ultimate in larking about, but it's actually a serious effort to develop new ways of collecting samples from asteroids.  Read More

Final launch of SpaceX Grasshopper v1.0 test bed for reusable Falcon 9 first stage (Photo:...

SpaceX made another successful Grasshopper flight last week, which was also the last flight for Grasshopper v1.0. Its swan song lasted some 80 seconds, during which time Grasshopper reached an altitude of 744 meters (nearly half a mile), more than twice the previous record. Grasshopper v1.1 is well along the road to flight tests.  Read More

The Tri-D engine test firing

Like something out of a Robert Heinlein novel, students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have built a metal rocket engine using a technique previously confined to NASA. Earlier this month, the students conducted a hot fire test for a 3D-printed metal rocket engine at a launch site in California’s Mojave Desert. This is the first such test of a printed liquid-fueled, metal rocket engine by any university in the world and the first designed and printed outside of NASA.  Read More

SpaceShipTwo broke the altitude and speed record that it set in April

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) broke its own speed and altitude records on Thursday as it successfully completed its second rocket-powered, supersonic flight. At 8:00 AM PDT, SS2 took off slung beneath the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft from Virgin Galactic’s Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. According to the company, the tourism spacecraft went through its full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time, including the deployment of its “feathering” re-entry mechanism at high altitude.  Read More

Hot-fire test of a 3D printed rocket part (Image: NASA/MSFC/NASA/David Olive)

NASA has shown a keen interest in 3D printed rocket components lately with a series of tests that have had considerable success, with printed parts in test firings working as well as those made by conventional methods. In the latest test firing on August 22, the largest 3-D printed rocket engine component yet tested by NASA withstood ten times the thrust previously generated by an engine using printed components.  Read More

The BLOODHOUND SSC hopes to reach speeds of more than 1,000 mph (1,610 km/h) in 2015 with ...

The Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC) team from the UK is continuing its journey towards claiming the world land speed record. After testing its rocket engine last year, the team has turned to 3D printing technology for another critical part of the high speed vehicle – a tip that, if all goes well, will be the first part of the car to break through the 1,000 mph (1,610 km/h) mark in 2015.  Read More

A nuclear-powered spacecraft is one winning concept of NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts...

A dozen inventors have received a chance to demonstrate the potential for their pet space projects as winners of NASA's 2013 Innovative Advanced Concepts Program Phase I awards. The award winners were chosen based on their potential to transform future aerospace missions by enabling either breakthroughs in aerospace capabilities or entirely new missions. Read on for a closer look at some of the most promising proposals with a view to how they would work, and where the tricky bits might be hiding.  Read More

Marshall engineers hot-fire tested 3D-printed injectors at 6,000° F (Image: NASA/MSFC)

3D printing technology has already made the move from engineering workshop to the home, and now it's set to make its mark in space. NASA has hot-fire tested 3D-printed rocket engine components, which have managed to withstand incredibly high temperatures and pressures to the same standard as traditionally manufactured parts. Being cheaper and faster to produce, 3D-printed parts have the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing of rocket engine components and save the space agency considerable time and money.  Read More

Serial numbers on engine recovered from the Atlantic

A lost bit of the Moon landing era isn't lost anymore. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos announced on Friday that one of the F-1 rocket engines found by his deep-sea expedition was indeed part of the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket that sent the first astronauts to land on the Moon in 1969. A conservator at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas, where the engine was being restored, was removing corrosion from the engine when he discovered evidence confirming the significant find.  Read More

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