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Martin Aircraft's  will start deliveries of its new P12 Jetpack prototype in 2014 (Photo: ...

The Martin Jetpack being developed by Martin Aircraft Company in New Zealand has undergone a major design overhaul. Reemerging as the P12 prototype, the ducted-fan personal VTOL is fully certified for manned test flights as a Class 1 microlight. The first commercial sales, now expected in mid-2014, will be for first responder applications, such as rescue, fire, and police missions. According to the company, sales to individuals will follow shortly after the initial models are vetted in field use.  Read More

The Grasshopper returning to the launch pad, in yesterday's test flight

For those readers who haven’t been following its progress, SpaceX’s Grasshopper is a prototype reusable launch vehicle that’s designed to perform a vertical landing back on Earth after delivering its payload into space. While it’s already managed a few low-altitude test hops, yesterday (Aug. 13) it reached a new milestone by performing a “lateral divert test.”  Read More

View from the aircraft testing the Ultraviolet 'Light Detection and Ranging' (LIDAR) instr...

For most air travelers, turbulence provides nothing more serious than the odd moment of extreme panic, but it costs airlines hundreds of millions of dollars each year in injury compensation and aircraft damage. There are various different types of turbulence, but the most dangerous, because it is invisible and extremely difficult to detect, is clear-air turbulence (CAT). A new CAT detection technology that could help pilots choose a smoother route is now being tested as part of a European joint project called DELICAT (Demonstration of LIDAR based CAT detection).  Read More

The SpaceX Grashopper on its most recent test flight

Back in June, SpaceX's Grasshopper reusable VTOL rocket was flown to an altitude of 325 meters (1,066 feet) before landing on its original launch pad. The video of the flight (taken by a hexacopter drone hovering at 325 meters) has now been made available. The purpose of the flight was to test Grasshopper's full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to improve the precision of its landings. Grasshopper is designed to develop and test the technologies needed to return a reusable rocket from space missions. (There is no word on whether the cowboy mannequin was carried along by Grasshopper on this flight.)  Read More

SpaceX's Grasshopper VTVL testbed ascending from its launch pad

The SpaceX Grasshopper vertical takeoff vertical landing (VTVL) testbed has successfully flown to a height of 40 meters (131 ft), hovered for a bit and subsequently landed in a picture perfect test on December 17, 2012. The Grasshopper had previously taken two hops less than 6 m (20 ft) in height, but the latest test was the first that saw it reach an altitude taller than the rocket itself, which is a modified Falcon 9 orbital launch vehicle. The flight lasted 29 seconds from launch to landing, and carried a 1.8 m (6 ft) cowboy dummy to give an indication of scale.  Read More

The 100 percent biofuel-powered Falcon 20 being tailed by the data-collecting T-33

Earlier this year, Air Canada joined a growing number of airlines conducting flights using biofuels. Like similar flights by Boeing and Lufthansa, the aircraft was powered by a mix of petroleum and biofuel. Now the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has removed the fossil fuel component completely with the first flight of a civil jet powered by 100 percent unblended biofuel.  Read More

Artist's impression of the CHAMP missile

This week, science fiction became science fact as a Boeing CHAMP missile knocked out a building full of electronics in the Utah desert at Hill Air Force Base. There was no explosion and no flying shrapnel. There was only the sound of the missile’s engine as it flew overhead and the sputtering of sophisticated computers crashing as they were hit by a beam of high-energy microwaves.  Read More

Artists concept of the X-51A (Image: US Air Force)

The United States Air Force (USAF) has released the results of last August’s third test of the X-51a Waverider, which resulted in the crash of the unmanned scramjet demonstrator. At a press teleconference featuring the Program Manager for Air Force Research Laboratory, Charles Brink, it was confirmed that a malfunctioning fin was the cause of the crash. However, engineers are confident of correcting the fault in time for the fourth test flight scheduled for (Northern Hemisphere) late spring or early summer of next year.  Read More

The Martin Jetpack is now regularly being flown at speeds of 50 km/h (31 mph)

When we first covered the Martin Jetpack back in March, 2010, the creators were hoping to get it on the backs of buyers sometime in 2011. While 2011 has come and gone, the New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company is continuing test flights and is now seeking investors to help bring the manned Jetpack to market in mid 2013.  Read More

Artists concept of the X-51A (Image: US Air Force)

Wright Patterson AFB has confirmed in an official press release that Tuesday’s test of the Waverider X-51A unmanned hypersonic missile has failed. Launched from a B-52 bomber over Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at 11:36 AM PST, the separation from the bomber and ignition of the X-51A’s rocket booster went as planned. However, 16 seconds into the flight a fault occurred in one of the missile’s control fins before the scramjet could start and the X-51A was today officially reported as "lost." At present, there are no further official details, but the New York Daily News reports that the missile crashed into the Pacific Ocean while NBC News states that the X-51A broke up in flight and fell into the ocean "in pieces."  Read More

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