Machine Design

Looking Back 3/8/2012

10 YEARS AGO — 2002
Up, up, and away!: The strap-on, upright-flying aircraft known as the SoloTrek Exo-Skeletor Flying Vehicle has made its first controlled, manned flight. During the test trip, Michael Moshier, CEO and CTO of the aircraft’s developer Millennium Jet Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., hovered for 20 sec about 2 ft off the ground. Safety tethers kept the aircraft in check while it hovered. “The tethers provide enough slack so we can fine-tune the fly-by-wire control and stability system, but not so much that we can get into trouble,” explains Moshier. Engineers plan to remove the tethers for the next development phase: free-hover testing.

30 YEARS AGO — 1982
Coil readied for fusion tester: An 11-ton magnetic-field coil is the first of 22 identical units being built by Westinghouse Electric Corp. for the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor. Some 1,500 ft of copper conductor were used to wind the coil to a 10-ft ID and 14-ft OD. At the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory, the water-cooled electromagnets will be used in proof-of-principle experiments designed to achieve fusion-energy breakeven for the first time. The strong magnetic field provided by the coils will hold the fusion plasma, which is expected to be at sun temperatures.

50 YEARS AGO — 1962
Turbine casing completes Hoover Dam: When delivered to the Hoover Dam, this massive turbine spiral casing completed the hydroelectric project. Shown undergoing final machining in the Eddystone, Pa., shops of Industrial Equipment Div., Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp., the casing will channel and distribute Colorado River water to runner blades of a Francis-type hydraulic turbine. Surfaces are held to dimensional and flatness tolerances within a few thousandths of an inch, assuring watertight mating with matching covers. The turbine, rated at 115,000 hp, 180 rpm under a net effective head of 480 ft, is the sixth and final large powerplant phased into the Hoover-Dam project over the past 25 years.

© 2012 Penton Media, Inc.

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