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Insider Report: Pickup truck pulls a space shuttle

Published October 15, 2012

As the Space Shuttle Endeavour made its way to its new home at the California Science Center, the 145-ton space craft had to be towed across the Manchester Boulevard Bridge. The problem is that the bridge was not designed to hold the weight of the shuttle and its tow vehicle. Long time sponsor of the Science Center, Toyota, suggested that their Tundra pickup would be able to fulfill the historic role.

While the truck used was bone stock, it’s a pretty safe bet that trying to move this much weight with your own truck will void your warranty!

Rally car lands on a house in Italy
Ask most rally drivers why they choose rally over other forms of motorsport and most will reply that it is the most pure form of the sport. Production based cars on real roads provide more thrill for drivers than just about any other type of racing. Real roads sometimes lead to real world obstacles, like houses.

During the IRC San Remo rally recently, Finnish driver Juho Hanninen had fallen back from the leader and was pushing a bit too hard when it all when wrong. The subsequent roll left the Skoda parked atop a small house. I don’t speak Finnish, but a youtube commenter says the co-driver tells Hanninen to “Let it be, we are on the top of house” as the driver attempts to drive back to the road from his perch.

Watch models use yoga to create human motorcycles
When the folks at the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows needed a new ad campaign, they decided they wanted something a bit different. Something with a bit of an edge, a bit of sex appeal. For many folks, few things are more sexy than a woman that rides a motorcycle, so why not a woman who rides a motorcycle sitting atop a motorcycle made of women?

The ad agency brought in sports reporter Erin Bates, who is a rider, and a group of yoga practitioners, applied body paint and set out to create a trio of human motorcycles. The video below is a behind the scenes look at how artist Trina Merry transformed the team into remarkably realistic motorcycles.

The man who fell to Earth

This may fall into the non-automotive category but did anything cooler happen over the weekend in the automotive stratosphere? Think about it, travel to the edge of space was once limited to NASA and the military. Felix Baumgartner, a civilian, set out to break a world record, set by U.S. air force pilot Joseph Kittinger in 1960.

In case you’ve missed the story, the plan was for Baumgartner to ride aboard a sophisticated helium balloon to the edges of space, where he would jump out and freefall to faster than the speed of sound. After weather setbacks, yesterday was the big day and the sky diver and base jumper went to work on project Red Bull Stratos. Like everything else Red Bull does, there were cameras galore on hand to capture the moment, be it success or failure.

Baumgartner not only beat Kittinger’s descent velocity record, but several others as well. From a height of 39 km, the Austrian reached and incredible 1,342 km per hour, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle.

As a little kid, I remember being glued to the television for the later Apollo space missions. They were monumental, historic moments that left their mark on my young brain. I had the same feeling watching the lead up to Baumgartner’s jump today. Remember, this was not a NASA event. While it was far from a back yard project, the team involved are regular people, without military involvement. The Red Bull Stratos team should be an inspiration to adventurers and tinkerers around the globe!

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