Ask any superhero who isn't fortunate enough to have a built-in flying ability whether they prefer jetpacks or rocket boots, and they'll always say rocket boots.* Why? Because rocket boots let you do tricks. We might not have proper rocket boots yet, but these water-powered ones are the next best thing. And they're even affordable.
Generally, tanks are not designed with the ability to fly, much less the ability to fall through the air from a couple thousand feet up and land safely. You can strap a bunch of parachutes to them and hope for the best, but a much more effective (and much more awesome) way to do it is to use rockets instead. Just ask the Russians.
NASA's new Space Launch System isn't going anywhere without some monstrous engines. The second stage engine will be the J-2X, a descendant of the Apollo-era J-2, and NASA just lit one off for 500 seconds in a very loud, steam-filled test.
Scientists have just figured out the means by which a certain type of microbe can convert urine into hydrazine. Yes, that's right: these tiny bugs chow down on your pee, and then poop out honest to goodness rocket fuel.
Video cameras are small enough nowadays that you can strap them onto anything that moves, including fireworks. For the first time ever, check out what a bottle rocket sees as it launches, blows up, and then falls back to Earth.
It's more or less impossible for us puny humans to duplicate the raw epic power of a lightning bolt. They can travel at 140,000 mph (or about Mach 184 if you're counting), heat the surrounding air to three times the temperature of the surface of the sun, and transmit enough energy to toast approximately 100,000 slices of bread. To study a lightning bolt, you first have to capture it, and it turns out that the best way to do that is to fire rockets at thunderstorms. Yeah, it's probably best not to try this at home.
Copenhagen Suborbitals launched their homebuilt, $70,000 HEAT-1X rocket for the first time today, complete with the Tycho Brahe single person standing room only spacecraft on top. After a few minor delays, everything went more or less according to plan. Well, everything except for the parachute deployment, that is.
This week, Rocketdyne completed a series of tests on their launch abort system for Boeing's future space capsule, which would power it clear in the event of a primary rocket failure. And if you like watching rocket engine test firings, we've got some tasty video for you.
Chemical rockets operate on essentially the same technology that we've had since the 1930s, and it's dangerous, expensive, and very inefficient. It's high time for a better way of getting to space, and lasers might be the way to do it.
The jury's still out on NASA handing over the reins to private companies to lead us into space, but SpaceX, one of said companies, just launched its first spaceship into orbit with the intent of bringing it back safely. In fact, it's the first time a private spaceflight company has ever done this — bringing it back being the important thing.