Even on military flights, regular manned aircraft need to stop regularly so the crew can rest, bathe and unwind. But an unmanned drone can keep flying until it runs low on fuel, so the U.S. military drew up plans for nuclear powered drones that could stay airborne for months at a time.
This concept (from NASA and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) is called AMELIA, which stands for Advanced Model for Extreme Lift and Improved Aeroacoustics. There are two relevant bits there: "extreme lift" and "improved aeroacoustics," and both of these things come from mounting jet engines on top of the aircraft's wing instead of underneath.
It doesn't have crazy swept wings and it doesn't fly at Mach 7, but this concept aircraft from Boeing is what we'll all probably be stuffed into by 2045. It runs on cryogenic liquified natural gas, and beats the fuel efficiency by the current generation of passenger jets by a whopping 60%.
Aerospace companies and NASA have been exploring lots of different ways to deal with sonic booms, and most of their designs are similar: long, skinny aircraft with pointy noses designed to "mitigate" the noise problem. Researchers at Tohoku University are trying a completely different and awesomely retro-futuristic idea: a supersonic biplane that eliminates sonic booms entirely.
I don't know how long the Russians have been developing this concept for a supersonic business jet, but it must have started back when "2011" still seemed like a date way, way in the future. Oh well, at least it still looks futuristic. Apart from the paint job, anyway.
Every year since 1986 has just been another year wasted without a movie about fighter jets and the oversized pairs of aviator sunglasses that fly them. But the long national nightmare is over, as rumor has it that Tommy C. will be playing the role (the starring role) of an F-35 test pilot in the upcoming sequel to Top Gun, which is probably not called Top Gun 2: They Wouldn't Let Us Use F-22s.
In a move that already has me checking the prices on 3D printers, CNET's Daniel Terdiman is reporting that the Smithsonian will be making swathes of its collection available online as 3D printable objects. Admittedly, I may just be a tad too excited — here's what's going on.
The designer of this concept says that he was inspired by a moving shark, but to us, it looks more like a flying sperm. Or maybe a stingray. Heck, let's just call it a spermray.
After 16 years of development and an investment of somewhere around five billion dollars, the Air Force has decided to retire their Airborne Laser test bed, a 747 fitted with a rotating turret in the nose that could shoot down ballistic missiles from long range with a giant chemical laser.
I've spent a lot of time in small aircraft, and nothing (short of a wing falling off) scares me more than getting into a spin. Good pilots can recover from most stalls and spins given enough altitude, but it's still a very dangerous situation to be in, which is why it's a great idea to design an airplane that sucks at getting into spins in the first place.