Robotic moon bases, chips implanted in our brains, self-driving cars, and high-speed rail linking London to Beijing. According to a dazzling number of technology predictions that single out the year 2020, it's going to be to be one hell of a year. Here, we take a look at some of the wonders it holds in store.
The tadpole-shaped airship formerly known as STS-111, currently known as Argus One, and commonly referred to as the sperm blimp, has completed initial flight tests and is on its way to the U.S. Army’s Yuma proving ground to undergo military testing.
The jetpack dream is moving forward--or perhaps upward--once again. Martin Aircraft, makers of the Martin Jetpack (a PopSci Best of What’s New winner in 2008), have set a new flight duration record with their personal flight device, putting it in the air for seven solid minutes during a recent outdoor test.
“JetMan” Yves Rossy, the Swiss aviator, engineer, and PopSci favorite whose jet-powered wing has carried him across the English Channel and Lake Geneva, is planning yet another jet-winged feat, his first on U.S. soil. On May 6, Rossy plans to fly through the Grand Canyon in Arizona, notching what is sure to be a number of “firsts” for both Rossy and the Canyon.
Anyone who has seen the grim images of a crumbling Detroit circulating the Internet, or watched another so-called “Sputnik moment” wander idly by with nothing but lip service from our leaders, may feel that we aren't exactly pushing boundaries like we used to. But in a beautiful eulogy for an era of bygone glory, the WSJ has hit upon a point that’s particularly sobering: for the first time in centuries, humanity is quite literally slowing down.
To fly the military's baddest, most technologically advanced planes, you once had to have what Tom Wolfe called "that righteous stuff," the willingness to strap yourself to a jet-fuel laden machine and push it to the very limits of its mechanical capabilities. Nowadays, unmanned systems have taken the human danger out of some combat missions, though human pilots remain at the sticks.
But not for long.
German company PC-Aero is trying to win NASA's CAFE Green Flight Challenge, and Saturday they took a big step toward doing just that. The company's Elektra One aircraft, designed by PC-Aero's founder and president Calin Gologan, made its successful first flight. But this one-seater isn't your average single-prop. Elektra One flies on electricity alone.
For some, retirement means moving to Florida. For others, it means winding down one's professional life and settling into a hobby. And for still others, it means having your forward reaction control system completely removed and thoroughly cleaned of all oxidizer chemicals and toxic fuels. So it is for the retired space shuttle Discovery, which is currently being broken down, cleaned, and reassembled for future display.
When it comes to space-based missile defense, history tells us it’s a good idea to be skeptical of any given development. Nonetheless, it appears Northrop Grumman has gone and done something pretty cool, tracking a ballistic missile through all phases of flight, a feat one Grumman VP called “the Holy Grail for missile defense.”