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The future is now NASA develops one-person hovercraft

on Wednesday,January 20,2010 22:01

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For fans of science fiction, hovercrafts, jet packs and flying machines always seemed like an inevitability. Yet after continued disappointment at the absence of hover-boards and personal rocket packs, it began to seem like one childhood dream that would never come true. Until now.

Earlier this week, NASA released preliminary designs for a personal aircraft that can take off vertically, hover and cruise horizontally according to a report in the Science News. The ship, called the Puffin, would see a single pilot standing within the aircraft and lying flat while mid-flight, similar to a hang glider.

The ship, which would be constructed of carbon-fiber composites and would weigh only 400 pounds, would be powered by twin engines run on a compact re-chargeable battery pack that would render the machine nearly silent.

NASA claims that the 12-foot-tall Puffin would be capable of hitting speeds of nearly 300 miles per hour with an average cruise speed of 150 mph, though early designs would only be capable of traveling about 50 miles on a single charge.

Designers chose the name puffin for the ships awkward appearance.
"If you''ve ever seen a puffin on the ground, it looks very awkward, with wings too small to fly, and that''s exactly what our vehicle looks like," said lead designer Mark Moore in a release from NASA.
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