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Alt-week 7.21.12: Outer space, flying hotels and federal trolls

James Trew, @itstrew
July 21, 2012
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Alt-week peels back the covers on some of the more curious sci-tech stories from the last seven days.

Whether you've got your head in the clouds, or your feet firmly locked on terra firma (or is that terrorist firma?) the last seven days in Alt have something for you. We look at a massive aircraft, that could revolutionize air travel as we know it, as well as look back at a real-world project that heralded a significant shift even further up in the sky. There's the NASA logo that never came to be, and lastly, for those less fond of heights, we hear how a US government department is heading in the other direction -- albeit culturally -- all in the fight against terror. This is alt-week.

If you didn't manage to follow the whole Space X Dragon mission, then a handy video featuring the highlights of the recent journey found its way onto YouTube this week. Watch the world's first ever commercial spacecraft to visit the International Space Station make its journey from the comfort of your chair, train or car ride -- whatever, just as long as it's not you driving. Seeing it all unfold so quickly -- along with the rousing music -- we're not going to lie, we got a little lump in our throats.

There was a time when projects like Space X were the reserve of dream and fantasy, and this next vehicle -- for now at least -- also sits in that category. We've seen the Aeroscraft before, but this week CNET reminded us of the mega-ship, and seemed optimistic that it might even be coming soon. We're not reserving our ticket on the airborne hotel just yet, but if we did, we'd be joining another 179 passengers on the 20-ton, 310 foot long craft. It certainly looks a little more comfy than the Dragon, that's for sure.

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Okay, so this week it all seems to be a bit up in the air, so to speak, and it continues -- in a round about manner -- with this story relating to a redesign of the NASA logo. Despite being originally crafted by design firm Base back in 2010, it recently resurfaced online, and drummed up quite a bit of social media support. Despite the public backing, and the creator offering to hand over the branding to the space agency, sadly it declined. We don't know why, but there is something stylishly simple, yet futuristic about it. Just a shame we'll never see it adorning the side of any spacecraft.

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Now we can finally get out feet back on the ground, as we look at something much closer to home. In fact, something we're all sadly a little too familiar with -- Trolling. Wired reports that the US government has launched a new initiative to deliberately frustrate frequenters of known extremist internet forums in the way that only trolls know how. The article then goes on to explain that there's been no actual results to date, and that project budget is miniscule compared to even the most basic of regular military options, but we can't help but think any terrorist who give up after a flame war, wasn't really cut out for the job.

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Seen any other far-out articles that you'd like considered for Alt-week? Working on a project or research that's too cool to keep to yourself? Drop us a line at alt [at] engadget [dot] com

[Image credit: jasmine22bear (Instaview)]

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