They learned to handle explosives in the U.S. Army and they met while skydiving in Wisconsin (he was flying, she was jumping). Now, Rich and Dee Gibson travel the country blowing stuff up, creating dazzling pyrotechnic displays for airshows--and even for the occasional film--that are second to none.
For a nation that prides itself on "firsts," America's 2011 is shaping up pretty poorly. Two American firsts will experience their lasts this year: the space shuttles, the first and only reusable space vehicles of their kind, will retire this week, and Fermilab's Tevatron--once the world's most powerful particle collider--will cease smashing in September. While all good things must come to an end, neither of these world-beating technologies has a homegrown successor to pick up where its predecessor left off. With regularity, the "firsts" are happening elsewhere these days.
For those of us who grew up on Big Science--where big projects regularly hit big milestones that were a big deal--these are strange days. I want to see Americans build the first fusion reactor. Actually, I want to see American robots build it, and I want them do it on the moon.
For Terrafugia, the long road to making its “roadable aircraft” a commercial reality hasn’t been exactly straight, but the company keeps on rolling forward. Its Transition aircraft just received a few special exemptions from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that further clear the way for first deliveries of the vehicle, which are now slated for late next year.
Airbus has seen the future, and it's spacious, sunlit and full of interactive screens. Oh, and cocktails will be served in the virtual bar, assuming someone isn’t playing 18 holes in there.
After revealing its larger vision of what aviation hardware will offer us in 2050 at last year’s Paris Air Show--reduced emissions, lower fuel consumption, reductions in noise and increases in speed--the company has turned its attention toward the passenger experience, offering a sneak peak of the future via the video below.
Copenhagen Suborbitals, the not-for-profit Danish aerospace organization that is trying to build the first amateur-built rocket for human space travel, is preparing to give its launch vehicle another go. After a scrubbed launch late last year in which the rocket motor wouldn’t fire up, the group has set a launch window of June 1-5, with a target launch time set for June 2.
The folks at Martin Jetpack wanted to test their ballistic parachute, but there was a problem--their previous tests had only taken their prototype "jet pack" up to very low altitudes, heights too low to deploy their safety 'chute. No guts, no glory, as it is said.
The Skylon spaceplane, a concept spacecraft that has been incubating in the UK for something like three decades, has all of a sudden taken a big leap forward thanks to a technical review by the European Space Agency. And if the money comes through--Skylon is a privately funded venture--this summer’s test program could quickly turn into a full-fledged ground demonstrator engine followed by a fifth scale model of one of the engines that would actually take to the skies.
Want to see history made in the blink of an eye? About two weeks ago we wrote about Gamera, the University of Maryland's human-powered helicopter that is chasing after the Sikorsky Prize, a $250,000 purse offered to anyone who can meet a set of ambitious flight criteria with a human-powered helicopter.
Virgin Galactic just keeps on ticking off the milestones on its way to becoming the first commercial company to take tourists on high-altitude flights to suborbital space and return them safely through the atmosphere to Earth. In the video below, we actually get to see Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo (aka VSS Enterprise) making its first “feathered” flight.
Yves Rossy, a.k.a. “Jetman,” made good on his promise to dazzle onlookers at the Grand Canyon this morning by flying his one-of-a-kind jet-propelled wing through a leg of Grand Canyon West in Arizona, soaring just 200 feet above the rim of the canyon itself. The feat marks Rossy’s first U.S. flight--as well as his first run-in with our Federal Aviation Administration.