Since earliest recorded history, and presumably beyond, humans have always wanted to fly. First attempts involved imitation of winged creatures around them, and unfailingly ended in disaster.

No workable flying machines have ever looked particularly similar to nature's fliers, and today there is little comparison between a top of the range military chopper and the humble bumblebee, despite similar flight patterns.

In an era in which engineers are increasingly exploiting designs from nature, understanding this paradox is becoming ever more important. Dr Jim Usherwood, from the Royal Veterinary College, has studied the reasons behind these differences in aerodynamics and concluded that scientists should, in this instance, be more hesitant before imitating nature.

A self-healing aircraft could be available in the near future, thanks to an epoxy resin developed by Bristol University aerospace engineers that ‘bleeds’ from embedded vessels near the holes or cracks and quickly seals them up, restoring structural integrity.

As well as the obvious safety benefits, this breakthrough could make it possible to design lighter aeroplanes in the future. This would lead to fuel savings, cutting costs for airlines and passengers and reducing carbon emissions too.

By mixing dye into the resin, any ‘self-mends’ could be made to show as colored patches that could easily be pinpointed during subsequent ground inspections, and a full repair carried out if necessary. The dye mixed with the resin would be ultra-violet fluorescent and so would not show up in normal lighting conditions.

The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation stealth fighter. Three F-35 variants derived from a common design, developed together and using the same sustainment infrastructure worldwide, will replace at least 13 types of aircraft for 11 nations initially, making the Lightning II the most economical fighter program in history.

The program is on schedule to deliver aircraft to the U.S. military services beginning in 2010. The first test aircraft has completed 35 flights and has exceeded performance expectations. The inaugural flight of the first short takeoff/vertical landing F-35B is on schedule for mid-2008. All 19 test aircraft are in production flow or on the flightline, and assembly has begun on the first two production F-35s.

Although it's been a half century since America entered the space age, the basic propulsion concepts used to push Explorer I into space will be the same type of propulsion that the nation will use to begin the next half century of space exploration.

It was January 31, 1958 when a Redstone-Jupiter C rocket developed in Huntsville, Ala., lifted the 30-pound artificial satellite into space.

Clark Hawk, director of the Propulsion Research Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) has seen most of the advances that have taken place in rocket propulsion. He has spent 50 years conducting research in the field.


Sometimes scientists won't understand it even after they see it, but at least they'll believe it despite its improbability. Such is the case with bats, the bumblebee and the hummingbird, which according to classic wing theory should not be able to fly. Yet they seem to have forgotten to read that textbook.

In 1995, bumblebee flight got its answer. This week, the aerodynamics of a hovering bat species has been revealed. Its flight was studied in the wind tunnel laboratory of Lund University.

The wind tunnel at Lund University is specially crafted for research on bird flight. Birds fly “at the spot” against a headwind, allowing detailed investigation of wing movements using high speed video cameras.

NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate has amended its NASA Research Announcement to solicit additional research proposals. The Research Opportunities in Aeronautics 2007 has been amended to include new topics in support of the Subsonic Rotary Wing Project.

Lt. Col. James "Flipper" Kromberg of the U.S. Air Force became the first military service pilot to evaluate the F-35 Lightning II, taking the aircraft through a series of maneuvers Wednesday on its 26th flight.

Kromberg took off from Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant at 11:54 a.m. CST, flew the plane to 6,000 feet and checked handling qualities at 15-degrees angle of attack. He then climbed to 10,000 and 12,000 feet assessing the up-and-away flight-control response. Kromberg also tested the F-35's engine performance and formation-flying characteristics.

"The aircraft flew very well, exceeding my expectations," Kromberg said. "I was surprised by the amount of power on the takeoff roll. And the handling, particularly with the gear up, was phenomenal.

Scientific and Technical Aerospace Reports (STAR) is an online publication listing citations and abstracts of NASA and worldwide aerospace-related research. Updated biweekly, STAR highlights the most recent additions to the NASA scientific and technical information knowledge base.


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We've been waiting for a good personal jet pack system since seeing Sean Connery strap on that Bell-Textron thing in the opening sequence of Thunderball.

Thunderbolt Aerosystems founder Carmelo "Nino" Amarena must have seen that movie too because when he decided to try and shorten the grueling commute to his Bay Area office, he came up with what he says is a practical and economical personal air vehicle - one that won't blow up on your back like those hydrogen peroxide-powered prototypes of the early 1960s.

Don't get too excited just yet if you're a big guy. While the new version can stay aloft for up to 75 seconds, a 300% increase over what other systems offer, and go 65 MPH, it's limited to a 160 lb. man and a laptop. See it in action here:

The above address is a post on Science Daily about an antimatter cloud. This should be of interest to the hard core science types and SiFi fans like myself.

The post describes an antimatter cloud that surrounds the galactic center. This cloud is about 10,000 light-years across. The European Space Agency’s "Integral" satellite has provided clues to the possible origin of this antimatter cloud. This post is well worth reading.