Sunday, 20 November 2011

The £60,000 Jetlev Ocean Toy

Want to join the jet set? Water-powered jetpack propels fliers up to 30ft into the air... but it still costs £150 a go!

For years their use has been limited to the rich and famous or wealthy James Bond enthusiasts.

But walking on water with a jetpack is now one step closer thanks to a device which uses water from the ocean to propel users across the waves.

The £60,000 Jetlev uses jet stream technology to propel fliers up to 30ft in the air by sucking up water in a huge hose from the ocean and blasting it back out of the pack.

And while the £150 cost for a day using the Jetlev jetpack will still be too excessive for many, the lowered price has at least made jetpack technology available to more than just the incredibly wealthy.

Jetlev trainer Dean O'Malley said: 'This is actually fairly light, it's about 9kg, so it doesn't take much pressure to get you into the air.

'The key to the whole thing is, they off-loaded all the weight from the pack into the actual pod unit.'

The Jetlev R200 has a harness that straps the user into the jetpack's frame, two handles for steering and stability, a throttle for speed control, and two water jets that forcefully propel out streams of water that is pumped in through a hose.

For just £150 per day the adventurous can train to become fliers and experience first-hand the rush of jetpacking over water, eventually pull off dramatic figure of eight turns, fly so low so as to walk on water and even fly hands free.

It is now available for hire at Lake Havasu, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Florida, in the US as well as Germany and Singapore.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Giant Orbiting Power Plants

Giant orbiting power plants could harvest the sun's energy to provide world's power needs Scientists claim...

Harvesting the sun's abundant energy from space could provide a cost-effective way to meet the world's power needs, a group of international scientists have said.

Orbiting power plants capable of collecting solar energy and beaming it to Earth appear 'technically feasible' within a decade or two based on technologies now in the laboratory, it has been claimed.
Such a project may be able to achieve economic viability in 30 years or less.

'It is clear that solar power delivered from space could play a tremendously important role in meeting the global need for energy during the 21st Century,' a study group of the Paris-headquartered International Academy of Astronautics said.

The study, which was led by John Mankins, a 25-year Nasa veteran and the U.S. space agency's former head of concepts, was billed as the first international assessment of potential ways of collecting solar energy in space and delivering it to Earth via wireless power transmission.

The study said government money would probably be needed to get the concept, known as space solar power, to market.

Private-sector funding is unlikely to proceed alone because of the 'economic uncertainties' of the development, it said.

But the study said that both governments and the private sector should fund research to pin down the economic viability of the concept, amid concerns about humankind's continuing reliance on finite fossil fuels that contribute to global pollution.

An estimate of the potential overall price tag for completing the project was not given.

Some scientists believe that space solar power is a potential long-term energy solution for Earth.

The idea is to put first one, then a few, and later scores of solar-powered satellites in orbit over the equator.
Each will be as wide as several kilometers across and the spacecraft would collect sunlight up to 24 hours a day.
This is compared with surface panels now used to turn sunlight into electricity which collect half of that at most.

The power would be converted to electricity on-board the spacecraft and sent to wherever it is needed on Earth by a large microwave-transmitting antenna or by lasers, then fed into a power grid.

Skeptics deem the concept a non-starter, at least until the cost of putting a commercial power plant into orbit drops dramatically.

Other hurdles include space debris, a lack of focused market studies and high development costs.

The study, conducted from 2008 to 2010 then subjected to peer review, found that the commercial case had substantially improved during the past decade, partly as a result of government incentives for nonpolluting 'green' energy systems.

A pilot project to demonstrate the technology even as big as the 400-tonne International Space Station could go ahead using low-cost expendable launch vehicles being developed for other space markets, Mr Mankins said.

Ultimately, tens of billions of dollars would be needed to develop and deploy a sufficiently low-cost fleet of reusable, earth-to-orbit vehicles to launch full-scale commercial solar power satellites, the study group estimated.

The group said the necessary research and development work should be undertaken by countries and organisations in concert, including space agencies, companies, universities and nongovernmental organisations.

International interest in the concept has grown during the past decade, spurred in part by fears that in coming decades global production of petroleum and possibly other fossil fuels will peak and start to decline.

Adding to a quest for new energy sources are projected jumps in worldwide per capita demand for energy to fuel economic development and concern over the accumulation in Earth's atmosphere of fossil fuel-derived greenhouse gases.

The idea of harnessing solar power in space has been studied off and on for 40 years, including by the U.S. Energy Department and Nasa.

U.S. and Indian business, policy and national security analysts in September called for a joint U.S.-Indian feasibility study on a cooperative program to develop space-based solar power with a goal of fielding a commercially viable capability within two decades.

The study group, co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank and Aspen Institute India, included former U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Naresh Chandra, a former Indian ambassador to the United States.

Colonel Michael Smith, the U.S. Air Force's chief futurist as director of the Center for Strategy and Technology at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, said the idea has the potential to send safe, clean electrical energy worldwide 'if we can make it work.'

'Isn't that what government and industry should be working to do?' he said.

Friday, 4 November 2011

World's first manned flight with an Electric Multicopter

At the end of October 2011, Thomas Senkel of e-volo made the first manned flight with an electric multicopter at an airstrip in the southwest of Germany. The flight lasted one minute and 30 seconds, after which the constructor and test pilot stated: "The flight characteristics are good natured. Without any steering input it would just hover there on the spot". This could be the future of flight, piloting a device as simple as a car.

80kg machine can take off vertically like a jump jet
Powered by Lithium Ion batteries
Inventor claims the 16-rotor machine will make helicopters 'obsolete
Could be used for 'air sports' - or even as a flying car

It might look like as space hopper surrounded by model helicopters, but the 16-rotor E-Volo is an entirely new kind of helicopter - which can hover motionless in the air without input from the pilot

Its bold engineer, Thomas Senkel, took the machine on its first manned flight this week - lasting 1 minute 30 seconds.

It's not the first electric helicopter flight - but this is a new kind of machine, steered simply by joystick, with the pilot sitting above the rotors. Senkel says it could revolutionise transport.

The multicopter is currently only able to fly for around 20 minutes because it runs on lithium-ion batteries.

But E-volo hope rapidly developing technology will mean they can complete hour-long flights in the near future.

A hybrid drive, in which a conventional internal combustion engine generates the electrical power, would already show an hour-long flight time.

A one-hour flight would cost around six euros in electricity. The machine has few parts, which could wear out, meaning the aircraft needs little maintenance.

E-volo say their aircraft is special because of the 'simplicity of its engineered construction without complicated mechanics, and redundant engines.'

In an emergency, it can land even if four of its 16 rotors fail. And since the propellers sit below the pilot, a safety parachute can also be deployed.

The controls could be integrated with GPS software, the three friends claim, and the machine could even automatically avoid obstacles and direct itself to pre-determined locations. E-Volo have already completed several successful 'drone' flights with the vehicle, controlled remotely from the ground.