SpaceShipTwo fires rocket engine in supersonic flight

CNET brings you the Pictures of the Week -- the images from this week's tech stories that stood out, defining the future and all that the world might become.

From outer space to the inner ear, biology to bionics, here are a few of this week's greatest hits.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, billed as the world's first commercial space plane, notched an important milestone by firing its rocket engine during flight for the first time during a test flight this week at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

During the flight, the space-ready passenger space plane detached from its dual-hull mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, at an altitude of 47,000 feet while being piloted by Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury of builder Scaled Composites.
Updated:
Photo by: Virgin Galactic/MarsScientific.com / Caption by:

Every atom matters in tiny film

Called "A Boy and His Atom," this animated film features a small boy having a good old time as he bounces around, plays catch, and dances. The twist? The film, produced by IBM, was shot at the atomic level and features 130 atoms that were painstakingly placed, atom by atom, as the researchers shot 250 individual frames.
Updated:
Photo by: IBM / Caption by:

3D printed bionic ear

Using off-the-shelf 3D printing tools, silver nanoparticles, and cell culture, scientists at Princeton University, New Jersey, have created a 3D-printed cartilage ear with an antenna that extends hearing far beyond the normal human range.
Updated:
Photo by: Frank Wojciechowski / Caption by:

Saturn's super-sized hurricane

In a stunning image released this week, NASA's Cassini spacecraft snapped this spectacular picture of an enormous hurricane on Saturn this past November. The storm is such an extreme size that the image of the gigantic hurricane has a scale of about 1 mile per pixel.
Updated:
Photo by: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI / Caption by:

Iron Man costume from scratch

The materials for Archie Whitehead's Iron Man suit cost around $500, with some portions of the costume made from foam rubber, automotive spray paint gives it the glossy, just-built-by-a-billionaire look. Battle scars across the helmet hint at some epic conflict. It took several months to put the costume together.
Updated:
Photo by: Archie Whitehead / Caption by:

The flexible phone

The MorePhone is made with a flexible display and shape memory alloy wires. When a call comes in, it activates the wires and causes the whole phone to curl up. It's an unmistakeable visual cue that you've got someone on the line.
Updated:
Photo by: Queen's University / Caption by:

Can Google Glass ever be fashionable?

When real, normal people get a hold of Google Glass, they may be fascinated, or you might see uber-dork Robert Scoble in the shower, and just get really freaked out, like we did.

The heads-up display augmented reality is so awkward, many just laugh when first confronted with someone wearing Glass. It might just be strange enough to make nerds nerdy again.
Updated:
Photo by: Robert Scoble/Google+ / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

CNET's Holiday Gift Guide

'Tis the season for a gadget upgrade

Check out these 8 tablets you'll want to bring home for the holidays.

Hot Products