The Experimental Hypersonic Rocket Plane That Ushered in the Space Age

Chuck Yeager's historic supersonic flight in 1947 set off a firestorm of research into flight beyond the speed of sound. The most ambitious of these projects was the X-15 program, a top secret USAF program that aimed to test the limits of Mach 7. In X-15: The World's Fastest Rocket Plane and the Pilots Who Ushered in… »2/14/14 11:45am2/14/14 11:45am

Drones Now Have an AC/DC Soundtrack, via Laser Beam

What is it about technology and Aussie rock band AC/DC? In July a computer hack led to the band's track Thunderstruck belting out at top volume in an Iranian nuclear power plant. Now AC/DC's signature hit Highway to Hell is riding on a laser beam that's being bounced off a drone in mid-flight. When the beam is… »12/11/12 8:42am12/11/12 8:42am

A 500-pound Model Plane Tests the Next Generation of Aircraft Design

While the design has yet to catch on with civilian air travelers (focus groups hate amphitheater-style seating), Blended Wing Body aircraft hold great promise for military operations. To better study this innovative design without sinking untold extra millions into R&D, NASA built the next best thing—a 1:8.5 scale RC… »8/09/12 12:00pm8/09/12 12:00pm

Helicopters Are About to Get Faster Thanks to Humpback Whale Fins

A helicopter's rotor design may allow for vertical takeoffs but that comes at a price—the backwards moving blade counteracts the helicopter's forward momentum, causing it to stall at high speeds. But one German firm believes that outfitting the blades with bumps inspired by the fins of humpback whales will speed… »1/31/12 12:00am1/31/12 12:00am