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The future of flight

<p>The X-51A Waverider in flight in an illustration courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. The unmanned aircraft can reach speeds of up to 3,600 mph. 
REUTERS/US Air Force</p>

The X-51A Waverider in flight in an illustration courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. The unmanned aircraft can reach speeds of up to 3,600 mph. REUTERS/US Air Force

The X-51A Waverider in flight in an illustration courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. The unmanned aircraft can reach speeds of up to 3,600 mph. REUTERS/US Air Force

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<p>DARPA's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) in an artist's conception. The unmanned hypersonic glider is capable of flying at 20 times the speed of sound. 

REUTERS/DARPA</p>

DARPA's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) in an artist's conception. The unmanned hypersonic glider is capable of flying at 20 times the speed of sound. REUTERS/DARPA

DARPA's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) in an artist's conception. The unmanned hypersonic glider is capable of flying at 20 times the speed of sound. REUTERS/DARPA

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<p>The EADS Atrium aircraft, which will enable space tourists to experience weightlessness briefly outside the earth's atmosphere. The aircraft, about the size of an executive jet, is designed to carry four passengers around 100 kilometres from the earth, where they will be able to experience about three minutes of weightlessness and see the curve of the earth. REUTERS/EADS Atrium/Marc Newson Ltd/NASA</p>

The EADS Atrium aircraft, which will enable space tourists to experience weightlessness briefly outside the earth's atmosphere. The aircraft, about the size of an executive jet, is designed to carry four passengers around 100 kilometres from the...more

The EADS Atrium aircraft, which will enable space tourists to experience weightlessness briefly outside the earth's atmosphere. The aircraft, about the size of an executive jet, is designed to carry four passengers around 100 kilometres from the earth, where they will be able to experience about three minutes of weightlessness and see the curve of the earth. REUTERS/EADS Atrium/Marc Newson Ltd/NASA

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<p>The X-51A Waverider under the wing of a B-52 Stratobomber in an illustration courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

REUTERS/US Air Force</p>

The X-51A Waverider under the wing of a B-52 Stratobomber in an illustration courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. REUTERS/US Air Force

The X-51A Waverider under the wing of a B-52 Stratobomber in an illustration courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. REUTERS/US Air Force

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<p>A 1.79 percent scale model of a future concept supersonic aircraft built by Boeing. In recent tests, researchers evaluated the performance of air inlets mounted on top of the model to see how changing the amount of airflow at supersonic speeds through the inlet affected performance. The work is part of ongoing research in NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate to address the challenges of making future supersonic flight over land possible. 

REUTERS/Quentin Schwinn/NASA</p>

A 1.79 percent scale model of a future concept supersonic aircraft built by Boeing. In recent tests, researchers evaluated the performance of air inlets mounted on top of the model to see how changing the amount of airflow at supersonic speeds...more

A 1.79 percent scale model of a future concept supersonic aircraft built by Boeing. In recent tests, researchers evaluated the performance of air inlets mounted on top of the model to see how changing the amount of airflow at supersonic speeds through the inlet affected performance. The work is part of ongoing research in NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate to address the challenges of making future supersonic flight over land possible. REUTERS/Quentin Schwinn/NASA

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<p>The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is seen above Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey during its first flight, August 7, 2012. The LEMV, like a blimp, is said to be capable of carrying multiple intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads for more than 21 days at altitudes greater than 22,000 feet. REUTERS/U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command</p>

The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is seen above Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey during its first flight, August 7, 2012. The LEMV, like a blimp, is said to be capable of carrying multiple intelligence, surveillance and...more

The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is seen above Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey during its first flight, August 7, 2012. The LEMV, like a blimp, is said to be capable of carrying multiple intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads for more than 21 days at altitudes greater than 22,000 feet. REUTERS/U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command

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<p>An artist's rendering of NASA's X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle. REUTERS/NASA</p>

An artist's rendering of NASA's X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle. REUTERS/NASA

An artist's rendering of NASA's X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle. REUTERS/NASA

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<p>The Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 (VSS Enterprise) glides toward Earth on its first test flight after being released from its WhiteKnight2 mothership (VMS Eve) over the Mojave, California area, October 10, 2010. 

REUTERS/Mark Greenberg-Virgin Galactic</p>

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 (VSS Enterprise) glides toward Earth on its first test flight after being released from its WhiteKnight2 mothership (VMS Eve) over the Mojave, California area, October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Greenberg-Virgin Galactic more

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 (VSS Enterprise) glides toward Earth on its first test flight after being released from its WhiteKnight2 mothership (VMS Eve) over the Mojave, California area, October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Greenberg-Virgin Galactic

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<p>The Solar Impulse aircraft is pulled out of the hangar for take off at Payerne airport in Switzerland, May 24, 2012. The Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype aircraft, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its 193 foot wings, will attempt a round-the-world flight in 2014. 

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>

The Solar Impulse aircraft is pulled out of the hangar for take off at Payerne airport in Switzerland, May 24, 2012. The Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype aircraft, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its 193 foot wings, will attempt a...more

The Solar Impulse aircraft is pulled out of the hangar for take off at Payerne airport in Switzerland, May 24, 2012. The Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype aircraft, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its 193 foot wings, will attempt a round-the-world flight in 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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<p>Former professional Swiss military pilot Yves Rossy, also known as "Fusionman", flies in the sky like a rocketeer in the southern Swiss Alps near Bex, May 14, 2008. Rossy is the first man ever to successfully fly with wings, powered by four engines on his back. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>

Former professional Swiss military pilot Yves Rossy, also known as "Fusionman", flies in the sky like a rocketeer in the southern Swiss Alps near Bex, May 14, 2008. Rossy is the first man ever to successfully fly with wings, powered by four engines...more

Former professional Swiss military pilot Yves Rossy, also known as "Fusionman", flies in the sky like a rocketeer in the southern Swiss Alps near Bex, May 14, 2008. Rossy is the first man ever to successfully fly with wings, powered by four engines on his back. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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<p>The EADS Atrium aircraft outside the earth's atmosphere. 


REUTERS/EADS Atrium/Marc Newson Ltd/NASA</p>

The EADS Atrium aircraft outside the earth's atmosphere. REUTERS/EADS Atrium/Marc Newson Ltd/NASA

The EADS Atrium aircraft outside the earth's atmosphere. REUTERS/EADS Atrium/Marc Newson Ltd/NASA

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<p>An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. 



REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Bobbi Zapka</p>

An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Bobbi Zapka

An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Bobbi Zapka

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<p>The SpaceEx Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket. The Falcom Heavy could lift twice as much cargo into orbit as the recently-retired space shuttles. The first launch is slotted for 2013. 

REUTERS/Courtesy of SpaceEx</p>

The SpaceEx Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket. The Falcom Heavy could lift twice as much cargo into orbit as the recently-retired space shuttles. The first launch is slotted for 2013. REUTERS/Courtesy of SpaceEx

The SpaceEx Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket. The Falcom Heavy could lift twice as much cargo into orbit as the recently-retired space shuttles. The first launch is slotted for 2013. REUTERS/Courtesy of SpaceEx

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<p>Eurocopter's X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter, which combines forward-facing propeller engines astride two short aircraft wings with overhead rotor blades, during a demonstration in September 2010. 

REUTERS/HO/Eurocopter/Penna</p>

Eurocopter's X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter, which combines forward-facing propeller engines astride two short aircraft wings with overhead rotor blades, during a demonstration in September 2010. REUTERS/HO/Eurocopter/Penna

Eurocopter's X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter, which combines forward-facing propeller engines astride two short aircraft wings with overhead rotor blades, during a demonstration in September 2010. REUTERS/HO/Eurocopter/Penna

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<p>NASA's X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle in an artist's rendering. 

REUTERS/NASA</p>

NASA's X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle in an artist's rendering. REUTERS/NASA

NASA's X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle in an artist's rendering. REUTERS/NASA

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