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Repeatedly putting an aircraft on an up-and-down parabolic trajectory angled at up to 50° creates brief periods of weightlessness. During the climb and pulling out of the descent, the occupants then endure almost twice normal gravity. Throughout the “Space Race” of the 1960s NASA used two Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers in this way to provide periods of “weightlessness” to train astronauts. Because of the radical flight maneuvers necessary to create this condition the ai ...
Among the 15 proposals NASA has for study under Phase I of its NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program is one that calls for the use of a soft-robotic “swimming” rover for missions that can’t be accomplished with conventional power systems. This rover would resemble an eel with a short antenna on its back that harvests power from locally changing magnetic fields. The goal is to enable amphibious exploration of gas-giant moons such as Europa. A proposal from the Jet Pr ...
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a contract to Intel Corp. as prime contractor for two next-generation supercomputers to be installed at the Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago.. The contract is part of the DOE’s multimillion dollar initiative to build state-of-the-art supercomputers at Argonne, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories that will be five to seven times more powerful than today’s top supercomputers. DOE says the joint Collaboration of ...
Stanford University Professor Hongjie Dai and colleagues have developed a high-performance aluminum battery. While it has been well known for some time now that rechargeable aluminum-based batteries could offer the possibility of low cost, low flammability and high capacity, research efforts have encountered numerous problems, such as cathode material disintegration, low cell discharge voltage and inadequate life cycles with rapid capacity decay.  A key challenge has been in finding a ...
The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville TN was established by auto enthusiast Jeff Lane in 2002 based on his personal collection. The museum now has over 400 cars, 150 of which are on display at any time.   Of all the vehicles in the museum, perhaps the strangest is the Helicron (above), which receives its propulsion via an aircraft propeller and engine. It is not a car-and-plane hybrid as it cannot fly and was meant to be driven on public roads. Discovered in a French barn in 2000, having been ...
  If you saw the 2014 film American Sniper (or read the book on which it is based,  telling the story of Chris Kyle) much time was spent showing the preparation military snipers go through to acquire moving targets, especially in unfavorable conditions such as high winds and dusty terrain. There is good reason for this preparedness: any shot that doesn’t hit a target risks the safety of troops by exposing their presence and location.   DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked ...
The U.S. Navy's X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator (UCAS-D) successfully completed its first aerial refueling last week, quite an achievement given that it doesn't have a pilot to help maneuver it to capture the tanker's fueling probe in mid-air.   The X-47B vehicle 2, also known as Salty Dog 502, was launched from the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland. It received over 4,000 lbs. of fuel from an Omega Aerial Refueling Services Boeing 707 tanker aircraft while flying ...
Artist’s rendition of the Tactical Laser Weapon Module deployed on a drone aircraft. Perhaps it was apropos that around the same time trailers for the upcoming Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens” were circulating on the blogosphere General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced that a U.S. Government appointed independent measurement team had completed beam quality and power measurements of its Gen 3 High Energy Laser System (HEL). The new laser represents the third genera ...

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