Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is almost ready to launch into outer space

October 11, 2017 by  
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After over a decade in development, Virgin Galactic, a private space travel service founded by billionaire Richard Branson , is almost ready to enter orbit. “We are hopefully about three months before we are in space , maybe six months before I’m in space,” said Branson at the Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki, Finland. If accurate, this moment for Virgin Galactic represents a culmination of years of hard work and setbacks, which included a fatal crash, delays, and technical problems. Branson’s Virgin Galactic is one of several companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX, in a high-stakes race to establish a private space travel service in the near future. Although Branson is reaching for the stars, he’s declined to reach as far as Mars. That’s Tesla territory. “I’m not as passionate about Mars as Elon [Musk] is,” said Branson. “My love for space is about how much it can do for people back here on earth, and that’s what Virgin Galactic is pushing towards.” As part of his SpaceX program, Musk plans to land rockets on Mars by 2022, in preparation for manned missions to the red planet . “[Getting to Mars] is an incredible challenge, and I suspect Elon [Musk] will get there first,” said Branson. “He’s more interested in big rockets going big distances. We’ve been more interested in taking people to space, and satellites, slightly closer to Earth.” Related: Richard Branson’s new supersonic jet will fly 2X faster than the speed of sound Earlier in 2017, Branson promised that Virgin Galactic would be bringing passengers into outer space by the end of 2018. Tickets to boldly go where few have gone before will not be cheap; each ride is expected to cost $250,000 per traveler. In addition to providing access to the wonder of space travel, the Virgin Galactic service will provide city to city travel across the world. “To get to space we’re going to be flying a craft that’s going 3000 miles per hour,” said Branson. “We are going to be the only people in the world, in a few months, to be flying a craft that’s going 3000 [mph]. Taking that craft and looking at point to point travel is something we are going to be in the best position in the world to do.” Via Business Insider Images via  Roderick Eime (1) and Land Rover

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Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is almost ready to launch into outer space

Airbus’ flying electric taxi is on track to soar next year

October 9, 2017 by  
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Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles are really taking off, and Airbus is set to launch a VTOL taxi by next year. The multi-passenger CityAirbus is powered by electric motors – and it’s designed to one day operate autonomously . The CityAirbus could allow commuters to escape traffic by turning to an affordable, environmentally friendly new mode of travel . Airbus announced they just finished their first full-scale testing for the CityAirbus’ propulsion system, describing the testing phase as successful. This means they’re on track for their first flight, scheduled for the end of next year. Related: Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular urban land and air transport system CityAirbus chief engineer Marius Bebesel said in a statement, “We now have a better understanding of the performance of CityAirbus’ innovative electric propulsion system, which we will continue to mature through rigorous testing while beginning the assembly of the full-scale CityAirbus flight demonstrator.” The CityAirbus boasts what Airbus describes as a four-ducted propeller configuration, which boosts safety and helps yield a low acoustic footprint. 100 kilowatt electric Siemens motors and four batteries help the CityAirbus get from point A to point B. As many as four people will be able to ride in a CityAirbus, which will cruise at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour, or around 75 miles per hour, along fixed routes. In the beginning a pilot will fly the VTOL, but Airbus plans for the vehicle to one day pilot itself. Airbus said there are benefits to adding a third dimension of travel to urban transportation , such as opening up accessibility for underserved or remote areas of a city . Self-piloted vehicles in particular can operate around three times faster than a typical road vehicle, and are energy efficient , running off electricity. Airbus said their VTOL method of travel will be quick and affordable. Via Airbus Images via Airbus ( 1 , 2 )

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Airbus’ flying electric taxi is on track to soar next year

Ole Scheeren’s modular office building looks like a giant Jenga tower

October 6, 2017 by  
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Architect Ole Scheeren unveiled images of his first project in Europe- a residential tower that will offer panoramic views of Frankfurt’s skyline. The designer will overhaul an entire 1970s office block to create 200 living units on the banks of the River Main. The modular apartments will be inserted into the framework of the building, with some recessed and others cantilevering out into space. The Riverpark Tower will be developed in cooperation with GEG, one of Germany ’s most prestigious real estate investment platforms. It will house 220 units on 23 floors, ranging in size from small apartment to four-room suites. Related: Thailand’s tallest building opens with new green spaces for Bangkok “This project is about the positive reinterpretation of an existing structure,” said the architect. “It’s quite a serious intervention, prompted by necessity not ambition,” he added. Modular , glass-fronted units will be inserted into the existing, free-spanning structural framework. They will cantilever out at some points, introducing an element of irregularity to the silhouette. New loft apartments will occupy the space at the four corners of the building which will be cut away at the top. + Buro Ole Scheeren Via Dezeen

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Ole Scheeren’s modular office building looks like a giant Jenga tower

10 European Cities with the Best Eco-Hotels

September 28, 2017 by  
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Vacation planning is difficult enough, but when you want to … The post 10 European Cities with the Best Eco-Hotels appeared first on Earth911.com.

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10 European Cities with the Best Eco-Hotels

New bridge linking Japan and Russia could enable 8400-mile rail trip from London to Tokyo

September 8, 2017 by  
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The Trans-Siberian railway could stretch over to Japan under a proposal from the Russian government. The two countries are reportedly having serious discussions to build a 28-mile bridge that would connect them for train travel. If the bridge is built, you’d be able to journey from Tokyo to London by train across 8,400 miles. Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly aims to increase investment in the country’s eastern areas. He recently hosted Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum, where the plans for the connection were revealed. The move could be a big step for the two countries: they never signed a formal peace agreement after WWII, so the proposal has been termed a bridge across history. Related: China takes on the Hyperloop with a supersonic ‘flying train’ The Siberian Times quoted first vice-premier Igor Shuvalov: “We are seriously offering Japanese partners to consider the construction of a mixed road and railway passage from Hokkaido to southern part of Sakhalin.” The Trans-Siberian line ends right now in Vladivostok, but under the new proposal the line would lengthen to the Russian island of Sakhalin, and then to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island. From there, travelers could connect to Japan’s rail network to make their way to Tokyo. The 28-mile bridge would stretch between Cape Crillon on Sakhalin and Cape Soya on Hokkaido. According to Shuvalov, the line would allow Japan to become a continental state. “Given modern technologies , it is not even that expensive,” he said. Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s environmental advisor, said a connection between Japan and Sakhalin is a long-held dream. He also said the line would benefit oil and gas production in Russia. Travelers right now typically travel from London to Moscow by train to connect to the Trans-Siberian railway. Via The Independent , The Times , and The Siberian Times Images via Boccaccio1 on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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New bridge linking Japan and Russia could enable 8400-mile rail trip from London to Tokyo

Ride the Chair of Death on world’s highest cliff drop swing

August 4, 2017 by  
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Picture it: you jump off a cliff edge 360 feet in the air and plummet past the rocky cliff face until the tension catches, and then you careen across the canyon on the world’s craziest swing . If that sounds like your idea of a good time, then you need to check out the Shotover Canyon Swing in New Zealand – the world’s highest cliff drop. Riders hook onto a 650-foot cable before launching off the cliff. As you fall, you can reach speeds up to 90 mph until your free-fall is arrested by the cable. If stepping off the cliff side isn’t enough for you, you can also choose to ride a bicycle off the cliff, shoot off on a slide, or be tipped over in a plastic chair, known as the “chair of death.” Related: Amazing Tiny Treehouse Boasts the World’s Wildest Swing 8,350 Feet Above Sea Level! Once you master the art of the world’s highest cliff drop, you can add in the “Canyon Fox” option, where you are tethered to two lines 600 feet above the canyon floor. You launch yourself off a sloped ramp, falling until the tether catches you and tosses you across the canyon on a massive zip line . The entire experience, including Swing and Fox ride, will cost you a cool $299 and possibly 10 years off your life. + Canyon Swing Via Thrillist

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Ride the Chair of Death on world’s highest cliff drop swing

How the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Preserves the Environment

August 2, 2017 by  
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Breathtaking surroundings, historic structures, screams of delight — this is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. An amusement part and a beach might seem like a combination that simply can’t be environmentally friendly, but step right up and see…

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How the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Preserves the Environment

The first off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes are shipping to customers this year

June 6, 2017 by  
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Want to travel to the beach or a mountaintop or a jungle – and spend the night in style every time? The Ecocapsule offers that flexibility in a tiny off-grid package. The company just announced it has secured financial backing to move forward with the microhome – and they’re planning to deliver the first Ecocapsules to clients later this year. Late night television host James Corden recently tested the versatile pods out in a peaceful garden, a horse ranch, and a restaurant rooftop – check out his take after the break. Corden hit up the Ecocapsule to explore the latest trends in travel and eco-friendly living. The egg-shaped, mobile microhome is around eight feet high, seven feet long, and 14.5 feet wide, and it’s powered by rooftop solar cells and a small wind turbine . It also collects rainwater to be reclaimed as drinking water. A folding bed, bathroom, kitchenette, and living area provide travelers with all the amenities of a luxury hotel . The Ecocapsule can be towed via trailer or sent to a location in a shipping container. Related: The world’s first off-grid EcoCapsule is now available for pre-order Corden envisioned the Ecocapsule in exotic locations like the Grand Canyon or a beach in Ibiza. He took his characteristic humorous approach to the design of the pod, asking founder Tomas Zacek, “How do I know this isn’t just some sort of spaceship?” Ecocapsule will only make 50 of the first edition pods, but they plan to start mass producing the microhomes for a lower price in 2018. It seems Corden enjoyed his time wandering in the Ecocapsule; he said in the video, “I could stay here for years.” He also told Zacek that snuggling encapsulates the ethos behind the Ecocapsule. + Ecocapsule

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The first off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes are shipping to customers this year

Oregon couple spends years building their net-zero ‘extreme green dream home’

June 6, 2017 by  
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Some people may spend years designing their dream home, but one ambitious couple in Oregon has just spent years building their “extreme green dream home.” As beautiful as it is sustainable , the Desert Rain home by Tozer Design is a 2,236-square-foot net-zero structure that was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge’s green building criteria – the industry’s most stringent. The couple began to build their “conventional” dream home on the same 0.7 acre lot in 2008, but upon hearing about the Living Building Challenge in the fall of 2009, they made the painful decision to scrap their original plans and shoot for the challenge. The result is a beautiful estate made up of five buildings, including the main residence, a detached apartment, a second detached building that can be used as an office or guest space, and the home’s two garages. Related: California city could become the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S. The new construction began by repurposing materials from two aging mill houses that were previously on the lot. In addition to salvaging the existing materials, the team went far and beyond in finding sustainable, locally-sourced materials for the new home. In addition to the recovered wood already salvaged, reclaimed wood and FSC-certified lumber were brought in from the surrounding region. Additional materials were also specially made for the home’s green construction , such as the exterior plaster, which is almost entirely made out of local clay, straw, and sand. To conserve energy and costs whenever possible, other materials were constructed by the team by ordering and crafting the materials onsite. For example, rather than purchasing the items separately, a large roll of steel was ordered and cut onsite to construct the roofing, eaves, and rain gutters. Desert Rain is a power house of sustainability as well as energy efficiency . The home uses three renewable energy systems , including a solar array on the rooftop, a solar thermal drainage system that heats water and powers the hydronic floor system, and an innovative solar “hot air” system that is used to evaporate liquid from the home’s composting system. Given that the home is located in the arid high-desert region of Eastern Oregon, where the climate is dry and annual rainfall scarce, water conservation can be complicated for any homeowner. This made achieving the Net Zero Water criteria of the project a complicated task. However, using the unique layout of the five buildings, a rainwater collection system was conceived using the standing seam metal roofs to route rainwater through downspouts to the ground-level gravel filters to be used in the landscaping, which features mainly native plantings. + Tozer Design Via Living Future Photography by Chandler Photography

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Oregon couple spends years building their net-zero ‘extreme green dream home’

5 Strategies for Recycling on the Go

June 2, 2017 by  
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Most of us have developed pretty good systems for recycling and composting at home, but recycling on the go is a different story. This typically requires advance planning and foresight, which starts with booking hotels, planning meals, and packing…

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5 Strategies for Recycling on the Go

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