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Unmanned

A K-MAX unmanned helicopter autonomously delivering an SMSS by sling load as part of a fir...

While aircraft such as the X-47B are paving the way for unmanned aircraft filling combat roles, autonomous aircraft are also being developed to tackle more mundane – but still dangerous – military operations. To this end, the first fully autonomous resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance and target-acquisition demonstration using the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) unmanned ground vehicle, K-MAX unmanned helicopter and Gyrocam optical sensor was recently conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia.  Read More

X-47B is readied for launch along side an F/A-18 Hornet (Photo: Mass Communications Specia...

Anyone who’s seen an aircraft carrier in full operation knows that everything needs to be carried out with absolute precision by a small army of sailors as one plane lands and is hurried aside to make room for the next. To show that its X-47B Unmanned Combat Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) can work in this hectic environment alongside manned ones, the US Navy sent it to carry out landing and deck maneuvers aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in concert with an F/A-18 fighter.  Read More

Artist's concept of ISEE-3 (Image: NASA)

A chapter of space history closed today as an ambitious project by a private organization to bring a 36-year old spacecraft back to life came to an end. Despite efforts by the ISEE-3 Reboot Project to restart the ISEE-3’s propulsion system, the unmanned probe has now been hurled back into deep space after a lunar flyby.  Read More

The Rosetta spacecraft is now in orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (Image: ESA)

The list of space firsts got a little longer this week. On August 6 at 11:30 am CET, ESA's Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany received radio signals confirming that Rosetta had begun its approach and was going into orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, making Rosetta the first spacecraft to go into orbit around a comet.  Read More

Artist's impression of Venus Express skimming the Venusian atmosphere (Image: ESA–C. Carre...

Facing the alternative of a fiery death, the ESA’s Venus Express orbiter has completed a daring maneuver that extended the life of the unmanned explorer by several months. Under command from Earth, the spacecraft spent a month skimming the outer edge of the Venusian atmosphere to alter its velocity and send it into a new orbit that will keep it operating until perhaps the end of the year.  Read More

The Taranis UCAV demonstrated its stealth capabilities in its latest test

Combat pilots aren't going on the dole queue any time soon, but they might want to start dusting off their resumes. BAE Systems Taranis Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle has flown for the first time in a full stealth configuration, making it almost invisible to radar ... and bringing the day of the unmanned war plane that much closer to reality.  Read More

The Leidos ACTUV is part of DARPA's submarine tracking program (Image: DARPA)

As part of DARPA's Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program, Reston Virginia-based company Leidos is building the first robotic autonomous vessel designed to locate and track the extremely quiet diesel submarines that are finding their way into the navy fleets around the world.  Read More

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project was unable to successfully file the craft's engine (Image: NASA)

The private effort to recover the 35-year old ISEE-3 spacecraft has ended in apparent failure. In an interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Keith Cowing of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project said that though the group had been able to establish radio contact with the unmanned probe, it was unsuccessful in getting the engines to fire properly. This means it will not be able to make the planned course correction and the craft will head back into deep space.  Read More

Artist's impression of Orion's service module fairing separation in low-Earth orbit (image...

With the launch date of the Orion next-generation spacecraft approaching fast, NASA scientists have set out what they hope to learn from its maiden launch. The test flight, dubbed EFT-1 is the first of three proving missions set to trial many of the in-flight systems essential to the success of any manned mission to Mars, or beyond.  Read More

The autonomous Land Tamer vehicle, which will be dropped off to explore a rugged area by a...

This April, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp and the US Army used a one-of-a-kind autonomous Black Hawk helicopter to perform an unmanned cargo flight demonstration. Known as the Optionally Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) Demonstrator, that same chopper has now been enlisted to take the autonomy concept even further. In the new Extended Operational Reach with Autonomous Air and Ground Vehicles project, it will deliver an all-terrain vehicle to a remote site, and that vehicle will then autonomously explore the site from ground level.  Read More

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