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Test Flights

A Portuguese company that wants to use drones to provide internet access to offline areas of the world has completed its first test flight. Quarkson plans to use solar-powered SkyOrbiter drones that will stay airborne for weeks, months or even years at a time and will fly at altitudes of up to 22,000 m (72,000 ft). Read More

Switzerland has joined an elite club with its first homegrown business jet taking to the air for the first time. With the call sign of HB-VXA, the twin-engine prototype Pilatus Aircraft PC-24 Super Versatile Jet made its maiden flight last week, traveling from Buochs Airport in a 55-minute journey across central Switzerland to Brünig.

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When you're developing something as complex and ambitious as a flying car, you've got to expect a few hiccups along the way – and Slovakia-based AeroMobil certainly experienced one last Friday, when its AeroMobil 3.0 prototype crash-landed.

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In anticipation of more ambitious planetary missions, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, in collaboration with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, has recently been testing new landing technologies using an Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT). Aimed at developing new systems for landing on Mars and other planets with much greater precision, a new imaging landing system and algorithm were tested using the demonstration vehicle on two successful flights. Read More
The European Space Agency is preparing to test the atmospheric re-entry capabilities of its new early concept spaceplane, the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). The test flight is slated for launch in November atop a European made Vega rocket, with the hope that results will inform the design of future ESA spacecraft. Read More
NASA has successfully carried out the first of three airborne tests for its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a saucer shaped test vehicle which will one day be used to slow down scientific payloads entering the atmosphere of Mars. This new system of atmospheric deceleration will allow the agency to contemplate heavier, more ambitious endeavors, building towards a manned mission to the red planet. Read More
NASA scientists are eager to get to grips with a new toy for observing the heavens, the Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph (EXES). Mounted on a heavily-customized Boeing 747, the spectrograph has undergone two successful test flights and when declared operational, will comb the sky for infrared frequency light aboard the largest flying telescope ever constructed. Read More
As the still-to-be-announced date of the first commercial flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo approaches, more and more of the technology involved is getting nailed down. A case in point is the company's announcement that it has decided which fuel will be used in the first passenger-carrying flights of the suborbital spacecraft. The solid fuel grains that will fuel the world’s largest operational hybrid rocket will be a thermoset plastic similar to nylon. Read More

Following on from the completion of flight envelope expansion trials in December 2013, AgustaWestland gave the first customer demonstration flights of the AW609 tiltrotor aircraft in February. This was followed by autorotation trials, which the company has announced were successfully completed earlier this month. Read More

For all the advancements made in solar power technology, developing an airplane that could harvest enough of the sun's energy to not only be flown for extended periods, but take another person along for the ride has proven a difficult task. The team at Solar Flight recently took on this challenge, unveiling its plans for what would be the world's first two-seater solar aircraft, the Sunseeker Duo. Today, the company announced that it has spent the last few months testing the plane's flight performance and the results hold some promise for helping achieve its lofty ambitions. Read More
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