Of Course the First Object Ever Recovered From Orbit Was for Spying

In the early days of the U.S. satellite surveillance program, our orbital cameras employed state-of-the-art technologies to get the physical film back to Earth for development and analysis. They shot it back into the atmosphere like 300-pound bullets, and tried to catch the falling canisters by their parachutes using… » 8/21/14 11:40am Today 11:40am

This Passive Exoskeleton Makes 36 Pounds Feel Like Nothing

You all remember the TALOS, right? That big cybernetic exosuit designed to boost the physical abilities of its wearer? This is its unpowered cousin and, while it won't turn you into Captain America (regardless of how friggin awesome that would be), it is already revolutionizing how America's Navy builds its… » 8/20/14 11:45am Yesterday 11:45am

​Africa's First Indigenous Aircraft Will Compete With Surveillance UAVs

While Africa's backyard space program has yet to get off the ground, the continent's first (arguably) homegrown aircraft has already taken flight. Throughout the continent, these ultralight two-seaters could soon fill the skies where long-range surveillance UAVs are too expensive to fly. » 8/19/14 11:40am Tuesday 11:40am

This Electron Gun Turns Titanium Powder Into Turbine Blades For Planes

Titanium aluminide is a 3D-printable metal compound that holds great promise for lighter, stronger aircraft turbines but is notoriously difficult to work. That is, it was notoriously difficult to work with, until additive manufacturing firm Avio developed this metal-melting 3 kW electron gun. » 8/18/14 11:55am Monday 11:55am

The Secret US Drone Program that Killed JFK's Eldest Brother

The Ryan Firebee is widely considered the first true UAV developed by the US military, however, it was far from their first attempt. Take Operation Aphrodite, which loaded B-17s with high explosives and remotely crashed them into enemy targets, for instance. This early UAV program wasn't just an abject failure, it may… » 8/15/14 11:40am 8/15/14 11:40am

The Salmon Cannon Will Launch Live Fish Over Dams

It's not easy being a migratory fish these days. Not only do you have to deal with natural obstacles like friggin bears, there are also man-made obstacles standing in the way—like 500-foot-tall dams. One enterprising company has figured out a safe and effective way to get around these problems: a fish cannon. » 8/13/14 12:13pm 8/13/14 12:13pm

The World's First Fully Robotic Telescope Is Hunting for New Earths

Tracking down Earth-like exoplanets with a terrestrial telescope is no easy feat because our planet's atmosphere makes distant solar systems even harder to see. Adaptive optic technology can help make things go a little faster, but it does so at a snail's pace—requiring up to 10 minutes per target. The fully… » 8/12/14 12:18pm 8/12/14 12:18pm

The World's Largest Natural Gas-Powered Ships Are Almost Ready to Sail

Getting a fully-laden cargo ship across an entire ocean requires enormous amounts of energy—usually derived from pollutant-rich diesel fuel. But one environmentally-minded shipping company has bucked that convention and instead begun construction on a pair of hybrid containerships—the first of their kind—that run… » 8/11/14 2:52pm 8/11/14 2:52pm

The World's Most Badass Combine Harvester Will Shuck Your Mind

For untold centuries, humanity manually harvested and threshed our grains to separate the literal wheat from the chaff. The advent of combine harvesters—those that both harvest and thresh the grains in a single, automated process—however has vastly increased our ability to cultivate crops. And the new CR10.90 from New… » 8/08/14 11:40am 8/08/14 11:40am

How Big Data Is Helping Snuff Out California's Wildfire Epidemic

California is currently in the grips of a major drought, one of the worst of this generation. The region's lack of precipitation has not only hindered California's agricultural industry, it's also turned our forests into tinder. But researchers at the University of California San Diego have a potential solution: just… » 8/07/14 11:40am 8/07/14 11:40am

This Whale of a Flying Boat Used to Fight Nazis, Now It Fights Fires

General Douglas MacArthur once famously quipped, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away." Obsolete military equipment should be so lucky. While most outdated systems are simply scrapped, a lucky few find new purpose after their time in service—like the Martin JRM Mars, a coastal patrol bomber that now demolishes… » 7/31/14 11:47am 7/31/14 11:47am

​It's a Miracle WWI US Naval Destroyers Managed to Hit Anything at All


When you're on a destroyer steaming full speed through the North Atlantic firing at an enemy ship 15,000 meters away that's trying its best to sink you, you'd better make well sure your shot hits first. To ensure our sailors stood a fighting chance during WWI's intense naval engagements, the DoW built and outfitted… » 7/30/14 11:43am 7/30/14 11:43am

China's Building the World's Biggest Sea Plane

Just because the Spruce Goose never took off doesn't mean that aquatic planes in general are wholly useless; these aquatic turbo-props are still used for a variety of humanitarian efforts throughout the world. Now, China has announced that it's currently developing the world's biggest functional sea plane. But will it… » 7/29/14 11:40am 7/29/14 11:40am

20,400 Tons of Deliveries Later, the Pilotless K-Max Is Coming Home

Even though it's still officially a prototype transport system, the K-max unmanned delivery helicopter from Lockheed Martin and Kamen has become a workhorse for US Marine Corps But despite its strong showing throughout the War in Afghanistan, the future of this pilotless chopper remains uncertain. » 7/28/14 12:00pm 7/28/14 12:00pm