Tag Archive: Flying

London to New York in Less than an hour: The X-51A Waverider is designed to ride on its own shockwave, accelerating to about Mach 6

Perhaps Han Solo said it best in Star Wars when, describing his hyper-fast smuggling spaceship the Millennium Falcon, he said, “It may not look like much, but it’s got it where it counts.”

While the Air Force might take exception to being likened to the Falcon, in reality the platypus-nosed X-51A Waverider hypersonic flight test vehicle really doesn’t look like much. But it definitely has it where it counts.

On Tuesday, the unmanned 25-foot-long vehicle will be dropped off of the wing of a converted B-52 bomber off the California coast and try to fly for 300 seconds at science fiction-like speeds of Mach 6, over 4,500 mph – fast enough to fly from New York to London in less than an hour.

It is the Pentagon’s latest test as it studies the possibilities of hypersonic flight, defined as moving at speeds of Mach 5 (about 3,400 mph) and above without leaving the atmosphere. The technology could eventually bring missiles or airplanes to the other side of the planet in minutes instead of hours.

The Air Force and the Pentagon are not saying much about Tuesday’s test, but the military could use such technology for reconnaissance aircraft, cruise missile-like weapons or vehicles that could carry people or cargo so fast adversaries would not have time to react, according to military analysts.

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Squid can save energy by flying rather than swimming, according to calculations based on high-speed photography.

Squid of many species have been seen to ‘fly’ using the same jet-propulsion mechanisms that they use to swim: squirting water out of their mantles so that they rocket out of the sea and glide through the air. Until now, most researchers have thought that such flight was a way to avoid predators, but Ronald O’Dor, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, has calculated that propelling themselves through the air may actually be an efficient way for squid to travel long distances.

The creatures are rarely seen flying, so some researchers argue that the mode of travel is not widespread in migration, but over years of study O’Dor has gathered hints that the behaviour is more common than was thought. Since the 1970s, he has been keeping Northern shortfin squid, Illex illecebrosus, in a 15-metre indoor pool. At first, his research team would often find dead squid around the pool in the morning, the creatures having jumped out of the water over night. “It was clear that if two or three died every night we were going to run out of animals fairly quickly,” says O’Dor. The team ultimately lowered the water level to keep the squid in.

Further evidence came from Julia Stewart, a marine biologist at Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University in Pacific Grove, California, who uses tagging to track Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas). Her recent work found that they travelled faster than anyone had seen before. “The question this raised in my mind was, ‘Maybe they really are flying?’” says O’Dor.

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Experience Zero Gravity will hopefully provide you with the feeling and the emotion that we feel when we think about the experience of Base Jumping in the most scenic locations of the world.

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