10 YEARS AGO — 2000
Get on the bus: SmarTrip contactless fare cards let commuters just stroll near a card reader to pay for Washington Metro trains. The technology comes from Cubic Transportation Systems, a subsidiary of San Diego-based Cubic Corp. Rolled out in Washington a year ago, the system will eventually be used throughout the Baltimore/Washington corridor. It handles transactions in less than one-tenth of a second. The fare-card chip has 50 times the memory and higher transaction speeds than current magnetic-fare cards. The embedded chip, together with an antenna, communicates via radio frequency with readers on fare gates.

30 YEARS AGO — 1980
Current, future Phoenix missiles score well: Both the current and future models of the Navy’s Phoenix air-to-air missile are turning in impressive performances during 1980 test launches. In its first three firings, the improved version of the radar-guided Phoenix, the AIM-54C, scored three successes, each passing well within the lethal distance to the drone target. The operational missile, the AIM-54A, was successful in 10 of 12 launches, with one failure due to a problem in the launch aircraft. Hughes’ Missiles Systems Group currently is upgrading the Phoenix AIM-54C with a new digital electronics unit, inertial navigation-reference system, and solid-state radar transmitter.

50 YEARS AGO — 1960
Free turbine for a Skycrane: The JFTD-12 gas-turbine engine, chosen to power Sikorsky’s Skycrane helicopter, provides a maximum of 4,050 shaft hp. Now under development at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Div., United Aircraft Corp., the new engine will have ground and marine capabilities. Since it features a free-turbine drive (which extracts energy from the exhaust gases of the jet to provide power), the engine can provide high torques over a wide range of output-shaft speeds. An industrial model, called the FT-12, develops up to 3,000 hp and weighs 1,150 lb (280 lb more than the helicopter engine).

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