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Future Moon landings and MOD's hypersonic investment: 10 top stories of the week

Professional Engineering

The MOD is collaborating on hypersonic propulsion with Reaction Engines, which is developing the Sabre Engine (Credit: Reaction Engines)
The MOD is collaborating on hypersonic propulsion with Reaction Engines, which is developing the Sabre Engine (Credit: Reaction Engines)

This is what the next Moon landings will look like

Professional Engineering

The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 has dominated proceedings in cinemas, on television and in the news for weeks, but what about the next missions to the Moon? We had a look at some of the technologies, concepts and designs that could define the next era of lunar exploration.

Hypersonic investment


The Ministry of Defence (MOD) will work with Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and hypersonic engine specialist Reaction Engines on new propulsion systems designed to help military planes reach the incredibly high speeds – and hopefully evade air defences. The MOD announced £10m of funding for the work this week.

The 'superhuman' brain-computer interface


Not content with disrupting everything from online payments, electric cars and space launchers, this week Elon Musk announced successful monkey tests of a brain-computer interface and set out plans for human testing. The device includes 3,000 electrodes mounted on incredibly thin, flexible threads to monitor the brain's neurons. It could help paralysed people control computer systems, and even potentially augment human capabilities by including AI aspects.

Go, go, go! Contenders aim for engineering glory at Formula Student

Professional Engineering

Formula Student 2019 is well underway after starting on Wednesday. The 21st edition of the event includes the first autonomous competition. We had a look at some of the teams taking part before the action kicked off. 

HS2's 'automated people mover'

Rail Technology Magazine

HS2 Ltd has released plans for an 'automated people mover' to transport passengers between the new trainline's Interchange Station in Solihull and Birmingham International Airport. The driverless rail vehicle will travel on a raised viaduct, taking an average of six minutes to make the journey.

360º steering

Protean Electric has revealed a new all-in-one powertrain, steering and suspension module, capable of 360º steering. The "corner module" uses a rotating interface above the main arm of the module. It could make new autonomous urban mobility vehicles highly manoeuvrable. 

All aboard the sunshine train

Rail Technology Magazine

Solar panels will directly power UK trains for the first time thanks to a new scheme from South Western Railway. The operator is installing 135 panels on derelict land near Aldershot station, and will turn them on next month.

Second life for food packaging

The Engineer

Researchers from Swansea University have reportedly recycled hard-to-process plastic used for food packaging, turning it into carbon nanotubes for use in electronics. The new materials can help prevent electricity cables overheating and failing, said researcher Dr Orbaek White.

Retraining scheme to fight impact of automation


The government has launched a retraining scheme for workers affected by automation. The scheme is aimed at making people more flexible and resilient to change, helping them move into better jobs. It will start in Liverpool before launching across England. 

Print-in-one robots come a step closer with sensors embedded in soft machines

Professional Engineering

‘Get-up-and-go-bots’ that trundle off the production line after being built in one 3D-printing session have come a step closer after researchers successfully printed a machine with built-in sensors. Print-in-one robots are desirable because they could be produced much more quickly than conventional machines. They could even be built without human supervision – on the Moon or Mars, for example.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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