|In addition to showcasing some of the globe's most advanced robotics, NextFest 2006 also included some of the world's most advanced environmentally friendly gadgets.|
NextFest 2006: The Future of Earth Toys
by James Russo
Between September 28th and October 1, 2006, New York City's premiere expo center, Jacob Javits Center, was the host of NextFest 2006 sponsored by Wired magazine. In addition to showcasing some of the globe's most advanced robotics, NextFest 2006 also included some of the world's most advanced environmentally friendly gadgets.
Environmentally friendly automobiles were top on the list at NextFest. Chevy was represented at the expo by the Split-hybrid Chevy Equinox produced by General Motors Corporation. The Equinox is a split parallel hybrid with two electric engines designed by engineering students at Virginia Tech University to also run on E85 ethanol-gas blend. The SUV won the recent Challenge X competition which is sponsored by GM and the Department of Energy to encourage environmentally friendly automobile designs.
General Motors had several new vehicles at NextFest 2006. Also on display was the E85 Chevrolet Avalanche. The Chevy Avalanche runs on E85 which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The Chevy Avalanche is a flex-fuel vehicle that burns standard unleaded gas or any blend of gasoline and the fuel mix in the truck's tank can hold up to 85 percent ethanol.
Road transportation was not the only area of transportation highlighted at this year's Nextfest. With NASA aging shuttle fleet now scheduled to be decommissioned starting around 2010, many companies are actively seeking alternatives to the successful, but costly shuttle orbiter system. Some craft have already been introduced to the public and are raising eyebrows among countries interested in buying piggyback space on these craft.
Burt Rutan built SpaceShipOne for billionaire Paul Allen using his own company, Scaled Composoites. SpaceShipOne, built entirety with privately held money, was the first privately built craft to leave the earth's atmosphere. When the craft accomplished the feat twice in five days in October 2004, it won the coveted $10 million dollar Ansari X Prize.
Not satisfied to stop there, Rutan's Scaled Composites company have now contracted the much anticipated SpaceShipTwo. In actuality, the craft is a joint project between Rutan's Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic ( an offshoot of Virgin Atlantic airways). Now in testing phase, once SpaceShipTwo is cleared for commercial flights, you and five other passengers, along with two pilots, can experience 4g (4 timed the normal force of gravity) acceleration up to outer space, then float weightlessly in outer space, and finally descend at 7g back to Earth.
Both craft, SpaceShipOne and SpaceShip Two, mark a huge move forward in space exploration. Both craft utilize far less dangerous fuel than the current NASA orbiter and both craft can bring passengers into space with far less land and resources than is needed now.
Ultimately, these two craft could set a new standard for both orbital and suborbital flight. Craft such as these could one day replace fuel thirsty and environmentally harmful aircraft such as 747's and supersonic jets in bringing people to other parts of the globe.