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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

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It's an Aerospace World. Looking for the latest headlines in the aerospace industry? This is the place to find it. And, on the outside chance we don't have what you're looking for, email Lawrence Garrett, AIAA web editor, and he'll find somebody to help.

*For member access to the AIAA Daily Launch, please log in to www.aiaa.org/MyAIAA, navigate to "Access Publications & Materials" and select "Daily Launch." The AIAA Daily Launch, distributed to AIAA members each weekday morning, is a digest of the most important aerospace news selected from thousands of sources by the editors of Bulletin Media (formerly Custom Briefings).


23 February 2017
NASA Announces Discovery of Seven Potentially-Habitable Exoplanets

TRAPPIST-1-System-NASAFox News reports that astronomers have discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a star named TRAPPIST-1, which is 40 light years away from our Solar System. According to the report, NASA “calls the discovery of the fascinating solar system record-breaking,” and refers to the three planets in the habitable zone as TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g. Exoplanet “e” is roughly the same size as Earth and it is believed that it receives about the same level of star light as Earth. The report notes that while the Kepler Space Telescope, “one of the most important instruments in the search for other planets,” is credited overall with 2,331 confirmed exoplanet discoveries, this most recent one was made by the Spitzer Space Telescope. (Image: TRAPPIST-1 System. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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23 February 2017
Dubai Planning to Introduce Passenger UAV Taxis by July

EHang184_AP2_PurchasedThe New York Times reports that Dubai Roads and Transport Authority Director General Mattar Al Tayer said that the city will “spare no effort to launch” autonomous passenger UAVs by July. The Chinese-built Ehang 184 UAVs have already performed test runs past the Burj Al Arab hotel and will be directed and monitored from a command center. The UAVs are able to transport one passenger and a small piece of luggage up to 31 miles on a single charge, and reach speeds of 100 mph. Al Tayer said the Ehang 184 “is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies .” (Image: EHang 184. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)


23 February 2017
Korean Air Takes Delivery of First Boeing 787-9

DDreamliner-Boeing-2Reuters reports that on Wednesday, Korean Air Lines took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9. USA Today also reports that the delivery at Boeing’s South Carolina assembly line was the first of the airline’s order of 10 787-9s. Korean Air will debut the jetliner on domestic flights this spring before shifting the 787s to international routes during the summer. The company said that Toronto will be the first international destination, followed by Los Angeles, Seattle and Barcelona. (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Reuters)
More Info (USA Today)


22 February 2017
Xcel, FAA Collaborate On Research Focused On Using UAVs to Inspect Electrical Lines

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsThe Grand Forks Herald reports that Minneapolis-based electricity provider Xcel Energy is partnering with the FAA to research the feasibility of using UAVs beyond the line of sight for inspecting electric grids. The research will help the FAA craft its guidelines for such applications. Xcel Executive Vice President Kent Larson said that the company is “proud to partner with the FAA,” and explained that UAV technology “is already giving us better inspection data to efficiently and effectively monitor our systems, ensuring employee safety and improving reliability to better serve customers.” (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Grand Forks Herald)


22 February 2017
NASA Authorization Bill Calls for Study On Using Orion for ISS Missions

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASASpace News reports that the NASA authorization bill passed by the Senate last week would require NASA to study whether the Orion spacecraft can be used to transport crews to and from the ISS, and directs the agency to deliver a report on its findings within 60 days of the bill’s enactment. The provision represented “one of the few major changes” to the bill compared to the version passed by the Senate in December. While the 2010 reauthorization bill directed the agency to conduct such a study, there has “been little public discussion in recent years about using Orion to perform ISS missions” since NASA ceded access to the station to commercial crew providers. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


21 February 2017
SpaceX Launches for First Time from “Historic” Launch Pad 39A

Falcon9Launch-39A-Feb2017_NASAThe Washington Post reports that on Sunday morning, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule “christened historic Launch complex 39A” at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The launch was the first one from pad 39A since the space shuttle program retired more than five years ago. Launch occurred at 9:39 a.m. and about eight minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s first stage successfully returned to Earth “on a massive landing pad the company had constructed” at Cape Canaveral. The purpose of the unmanned mission is to deliver 5,500 pounds of cargo and supplies to the ISS, but the launch was also significant in that it represents “an important resurrection of the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Washington Post)


21 February 2017
NASA, FAA Testing New ATC Tech In Washington State

ATC-at-Dulles Digital Trends reports that the FAA and NASA are testing new air traffic control (ATC) technology around Washington State’s Grant County International Airport. According to Wired, a Boeing 757, a Boeing 737, and a Honeywell business jet will be equipped with the new technology and will then fly around the airport “so that researchers can make an assessment of the technology’s productivity.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower)
More Info (Digital Trends)


21 February 2017
US Air Force Expects to Decide On Counter-UAV Program of Record Next Year

InsituPacific_ScanEagle_Wiki Inside Defense reported that a US Air Force spokeswoman announced that the service expects to establish a counter-UAV program of record by the close of fiscal year 2018 as the use of the unmanned aircraft grows in the Middle East. The spokeswoman explained that the Air Force’s primary focus is “non-kinetic” options, but that “kinetic options to defeat small UASs are also being explored.” In comments about the program last week, Air Force Special Operations Command Chief Lt. Gen. Brad Webb “did not elaborate on what ‘materiel and non-materiel’ approaches the service will take,” such as electronic jamming, reprogramming or firing shots, although the service did recently award a contract to explore the use of 12-gauge counter-UAV shotgun rounds. (Image Credit: Gunnery Sergeant Shannon Arledge of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Inside Defense)


17 February 2017
GAO Warns SpaceX, Boeing Delays Could Imperil NASA’s Access to ISS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAThe Washington Post “The Switch” blog reports that on Thursday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned that SpaceX and Boeing, the companies hired by NASA to build spacecraft for manned missions to the ISS, could encounter further delays in their vehicles’ development that would leave NASA without access to the space station unless the agency makes contingency plans. NASA has purchased seats for astronauts from Russia through 2018, and since the seats usually must be procured three years in advance “to avoid a potential crew transportation gap in 2019, the contracting process would have needed to start in early 2016.” Without alternative plans, NASA “risks not being able to maximize the return on its multibillion dollar investment in the space station.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Washington Post)


16 February 2017
Falcon 9 to Deliver NASA’s Raven Module

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki SPACE reports that the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for Saturday will deliver NASA’s Raven technology module to the ISS. The module “will perch outside” the ISS “to track vehicles docking with the station, collecting data for future autonomous rendezvous with orbiting spacecraft.” Ben Reed, deputy director of the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, explained that the solution was developed for the “vast, vast majority” of existing spacecraft that “were not designed to be rendezvoused with or docked to in orbit.”(Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


16 February 2017
OSIRIS-REx Begins Search For Earth-Trojan Asteroids

OSIRIS-REx_Launches_8Sep2016_CreditNASA Spaceflight Insider reports that last week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began its search “for an elusive type of near-Earth object known as Earth-Trojan asteroids.” On February 9, OSIRIS-REx started the two-week mission searching for the small bodies as it passes the L4 Lagrange point along its two-year journey to the asteroid Bennu. Only one Earth-Trojan asteroid has been found to date, but Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, said that the Lagrange point’s relative stability makes it “possible that remnants of the material that built Earth are trapped within it,” providing “a unique opportunity to explore the primordial building blocks of Earth.” (Image: OSIRIS-Rex mission launches 8 September 2016. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Insider)


15 February 2017
India Launches Record 104 Satellites Into Orbit On One Rocket

ISRO-Satellite_Launch-15Feb2017-APImages_PurchasedThe Washington Post reports that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched a record 104 nano satellites into orbit, aboard a single rocket, Wednesday. The ISRO said that the launch took place from southern India, and that the launch established a new record, surpassing Russia's mark of 37 satellites in a single launch set in 2014. The article mentions that the satellites included an Indian Earth observation satellite, "two small technology demonstration satellites," and that the remaining satellites were for international customers, inlcuding 96 for US companies. (Image: This photograph released by ISRO shows its polar satellite launch vehicle lifting off from a launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, Wednesday, 15 Feb. 2017 Credit: ISRO via Associated Press–©)
More Info (Washington Post)


15 February 2017
Boeing Plans to Fly 737 MAX-9 for First Time In April

Boeing737Max Reuters reports that in a “further sign” that Boeing is on track to start delivering its 737 MAX-9 jetliner next year, the company announced Tuesday that it plans to fly the new aircraft for the first time in April. Boeing 737 General Manager Keith Leverkuhn said, “We are anticipating our certification of the airplane within a matter of days-weeks.” On Monday, the company “showed off the first 737 MAX-9 sitting near the end of the assembly line at its factory in Renton, Washington.” Delivery of the fuel-efficient 737 MAX models “is crucial for Boeing to hit the financial targets it has promised” as the company slows output of its 777 and 747 lines. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)


15 February 2017
Amazon Files Patent for Dropping Parcels from Moving UAVs

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazon Business Insider reports that Amazon has made a patent filing for a system designed to drop parcels from moving UAVs. Published Tuesday, the filing explains that the system would “forcefully propel a package from a [UAV] while the UAV is in motion,” preventing the UAV from having to land, saving “time and energy resource inefficiencies.” According to the filing, the force for establishing the vertical descent path, controlled via an RF module, could be achieved in four ways: pneumatic actuators, electromagnets, spring coils, and parachutes. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Air)
More Info (Business Insider)


14 February 2017
Northrop Grumman Challenges Students to Develop UAV Countermeasures

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased Alabama Live reports that a scenario from Northrop Grumman challenging a University of Alabama in Huntsville senior design class to develop UAV countermeasures has led to a campus-wide collaboration. The company posed a scenario – which it has worked to solve itself – for the electronic capture or disabling of a UAV. Northrop Grumman, which serves as “the primary driver and the customer of the project,” has provided three employees as advisers, and hopes that the program helps interest students in pursuing related careers. Bob McCaleb, Northrop Grumman corporate lead executive, said, “it is vital that NGC enable the best and brightest” STEM workforce. Northrop Grumman will review the results in May. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Alabama Live)


14 February 2017
Airlines Push for Privatizing Air Traffic Control

ATC-at-Dulles McClatchy reports that “major airlines and their trade associations” are asking the Trump Administration to privatize the national air traffic control system, which the FAA has operated since 1958. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has been “noncommittal,” and “Democrats and a few congressional Republicans” have opposed the idea, arguing that it “could hurt small airports and companies that make business and personal aircraft.” Congress must reauthorize the FAA by September 30 and disputes over air traffic control could make it more difficult to meet that deadline. In a new development, the National Business Aviation Association said in a statement Monday that it would oppose any privatization effort, explaining the debate cannot be “distracted by a decades-old push by the airlines to take over the nation’s aviation system.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower)
More Info (McClatchy)


13 February 2017
Companies Betting On Revival of Commercial Supersonic Air Travel

BAConcorde_Wiki The Los Angeles Times reported that some companies “are betting that technological advances in materials and computing, as well as the boom in global business travel, could power a resurgence in economically viable supersonic passenger jets.” Airbus Group and Aerion Corp. are developing a supersonic business jet called the AS2, and Boom Technology is developing one called the Boom. Boom CEO Blake Scholl explained that in the 14 years since the Concorde’s last flight, “the amount of international business and international travel has skyrocketed.” Along with that expanding market, technological advances including carbon fiber composites, stronger computing power, and the ability to test prototypes through computer models rather than physical tests all make the economic case for the jets more alluring. (Image Credit: Eduard Marmet via Wikipedia)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)


13 February 2017
Facebook Preparing to Fly Stratospheric UAV After First-Flight Incident

FacebookUAV2_YouTube Aviation Week reports that Facebook is readying its Aquila stratospheric UAV for a second test flight after the unmanned aircraft experienced structural failure during its first test flight on June 28. The NTSB continues to investigate that incident. (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
More Info (Aviation Week)


10 February 2017
Report: UAV Deliveries Won’t be “Major Factor” for Several Years

Flirtey-Delivery-Drone-Dropbox 10 February 2017
Fortune reports that despite “news organizations’ fascination with the subject,” a new report by Gartner has concluded that “widespread deliveries by drones ‘will not be a major factor for several years.’” The report, released Thursday, forecast that deliveries will represent less than 1 percent of the commercial UAV market by 2020, explaining that “return on investment has not been proven either in regard to the cost of the drone, operational costs and a single customer delivery.” Amazon and Google “are still exploring the use of drones for deliveries,” although Google recently scaled back its Project Wing UAV delivery initiative. (Image Credit: Flirtey Technology/Dropbox)
More Info (Fortune)


9 February 2017
SpaceX Schedules First Launch From 39A for February 18

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki SPACE reports that in a Twitter post yesterday, SpaceX announced February 18 as the planned date for its first launch from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center. During a news briefing, NASA officials said that the Falcon 9 rocket to be launched from the pad “will loft into orbit a robotic Dragon spacecraft filled with more than 5,500 lbs...of cargo” for the ISS, and “will return nearly 5,000 lbs...of cargo to Earth.” Dragon’s cargo will include equipment for multiple experiments. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


9 February 2017
Atlanta Effort Could Demonstrate Usefulness of UAVs for Airports

Drone-Aircraft-Inspection-AIRBUS Business Insider reports that an Atlanta partnership, under a “special exception” from FAA rules, is using UAVs to conduct airport operations, which “could serve to prove to” FAA officials the value of the aerial vehicles at airports, where they are currently banned. The city, robotics company 3DR, software firm Autodesk, and engineering firm Adkins “are working together to map out the airspace of the city’s Hartfield-Jackson International Airport to prepare for a potential expansion,” and their use of UAVs in the project could demonstrate the aircrafts’ usefulness – if regulated properly – in airport operations including the collection of airspace and weather data and the coordination of takeoffs and landings. (Image Credit: Airbus)
More Info (Business Insider)


8 February 2017
FAA: Number of Launch Applications In Fiscal 2016 Increased by 55 Percent

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA Federal Computer Week reports that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said during the 20th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference that the number of launch applications filed by private companies in fiscal 2016 increased by 55 percent compared to the year before. In order to handle these applications, the FAA is considering allowing the Department of Defense to take over space traffic control and is also “investigating how to restructure its current regulatory framework...to make it appropriate for a variety of airborne vehicles...that also contain a rocket-powered launch vehicle.” (Image: United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launch. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Federal Computer Week)


8 February 2017
Airbus to Begin A320neo Final Assembly In China, US This Year

AirbusA320Neo_AP_Purchased FlightGlobal reports that Airbus plans to begin A320neo final assembly at its Chinese plant “around mid-year,” and at its US Mobile plant “at the end of 2017,” complementing its current production in Toulouse and Hamburg. While it has not specified a specific timeline, Airbus has said that its first A320neo would be delivered “well before summer.” (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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7 February 2017
SpaceX President: New Launch Pad to Enable Launches Every Two to Three Weeks

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASA Reuters reports that in an interview on Monday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that the company’s new launch pad at NASA Kennedy Space Center should enable Falcon 9 launches “every two to three weeks,” a pace the company was approaching before the September 1 accident. Shotwell also addressed the Falcon 9’s turbopump issue, explaining that new versions of the pumps will be installed before commencement of the commercial space taxi test flights scheduled for November. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


6 February 2017
Amazon’s Super Bowl Ad Teases That “Prime Air” UAVs Are Coming “Soon”

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazon Ars Technica reports that on Sunday, one of Amazon’s short Super Bowl television ads “included a surprise cameo: an Amazon delivery drone, described to viewers as a ‘Prime Air’ delivery,” with a voiceover saying, “Look for delivery soon.” The ad showed a branded UAV delivering a snack shortly after a woman placed an order. The ad’s disclaimer said, “Prime Air is not available in some states (or any really). Yet.” The ad and other signs “suggest Amazon is ramping up its efforts” to introduce UAV delivery, although the FAA has not issued rules for UAVs operating outside of the operator’s “line-of-sight,” as Amazon’s would. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Air)
More Info (Ars Technica)


6 February 2017
Boeing Starliner Space Taxi to Use 600 3D-Printed Parts

BAConcorde_Wiki Reuters reported that Boeing has contracted Oxford Performance Materials “to make about 600 3D-printed parts for its Starliner space taxis.” The first shipments have already been completed. Part of wider “strategic bets” on printed plastics, the move underscores confidence that they “can perform flawlessly even under the extreme stress of a rocket launch and sub-zero temperatures of space,” and means that “key components in the United States manned space program are being built with additive manufacturing.” Leo Christodoulou, director of structures and materials engineering at Boeing, said that the parts are a “significant fraction of the Starliner,” and that they take “out a lot of cost.” Oxford previously worked with NASA and Northrop Grumman to demonstrate the aerospace applications of its products. (Image Credit: Eduard Marmet via Wikipedia)
More Info (Reuters)


3 February 2017
Companies, Entrepreneurs Believe Supersonic Passenger Jets May Stage Comeback

Boeing_CST-100.jpgThe Los Angeles Times reports that a “handful” of companies and entrepreneurs believe that technological advances in materials and computing and an increase in the amount of global business travel could lead to a resurgence in “economically viable supersonic passenger jets.” The Times reports that Colorado-based Boom Technology Inc. is developing a supersonic airliner called the Boom. Meanwhile, Aerion Corp. is partnering with Airbus Group to develop the “AS2, a supersonic business jet that could shoot through the air at a maximum speed of Mach 1.5, or one and a half times the speed of sound.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Los Angeles Times).


3 February 2017
New Horizons Fires Engine To Aim For Kuiper Belt’s 2014 MU69

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA SPACE reports that on Wednesday, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft briefly fired its engine to refine its course for its next flyby target: Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond the probe’s last target, Pluto. The adjustment increased the spacecraft’s speed by only one mile per hour, but the mission’s principal investigator said that “will add up to an aim point refinement of almost 6,000 miles.” The adjustment was made in response to recent observations of 2014 MU69’s orbit by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. New Horizons is on course to reach the object on January 1, 2019. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


2 February 2017
AIAA’s Magnus Addresses Global Space Congress

SandyMagnus_NBCInterview_Dec2015The The National (ARE) reports that on Wednesday, experts gathered for the second day of the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi to discuss how to better convey the importance of space exploration to secure more public support. AIAA Executive Director Dr. Sandra Magnus, who spent 134 days aboard the ISS, said that “it’s obvious that Earth is our spaceship” when viewed from orbit, but explained that to spread enthusiasm beyond the space community, “we need to put ourselves in the place of those we want to reach” and show them why exploration is important for humanity. Several other participants are also quoted stressing the importance of expanding the appeal of space exploration. (Image Credit: AIAA)
More Info (The National)


2 February 2017
FAA Announces UAV Ban Near Super Bowl

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe AP reports that on Wednesday, the FAA announced that certain aircraft, including UAVs, “won’t be allowed in the airspace around the Super Bowl on Sunday in Houston.” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that UAVs “are becoming much more popular, but they also pose certain safety risks.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)


1 February 2017
NASA’s “Twins Study” Finds Several Changes In Astronaut Scott Kelly

ScottKelly_ISS_NASAIn continuing coverage of NASA’s “Twins Study” comparing astronaut Scott Kelly – after his almost year in space – to his identical twin brother Mark, who was on Earth during that time, USA Today expands on yesterday’s reporting on DNA changes to cover other observations. Among them: Scott “was a full two inches taller” upon return; his “cognitive abilities in speed and accuracy slowed just slightly after the mission”; his “bone formation slowed during the second half of his trip”; his “stress hormone was ‘low normal’ throughout the trip but increased over the course of the expedition”; and “two dominant bacterial groups were more prevalent in Scott when he was in space versus when he was on Earth.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)


1 February 2017
ARES VTOL Aircraft Listed Among Top DARPA Projects for 2017

ARES-VTOL-LockheedMartinSkunkWorksAmong various DARPA projects “that will make great strides in 2017,” IHS Electronics360 highlights the new unmanned Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) VTOL aircraft being developed by Lockheed Martin and Piasecki Aircraft under a $77 million contract. The model is “designed to exceed the speed, range, and altitude limits of helicopters,” with a top speed of 195 mph and an elevation ceiling of 20,000 feet. (Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)
More Info (IHS Electronics360)


31 January 2017
General Atomics Launches “SkyGuardian” Variant Of Predator B UAV

USBorderPatrolUAV-wiki UPI reports that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) announced that it has launched the new “SkyGuardian” variant of its Predator B UAV “that meets international standards for flying in civilian airspace.” The variant, developed in coordination with the German Military Aviation Authority, is compliant with NATO’s UAV System Airworthiness Requirements and Britain’s DEFSTAN 00-970 standards. GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said the SkyGuardian name illustrates the UAV’s capacity to perform “non-military missions like border-surveillance, maritime patrol, and relief over-watch in cases of natural disaster.” (Image Credit: Gerald L Nino via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (UPI)


31 January 2017
China Space Agency Announces Missions to Mars, Jupiter

Curiosity-on-Mars-ArtistsImpression_CreditNASAIn an article produced in partnership with the China’s People’s Daily, the Daily Mail reports that on Monday, China National Space Administration Vice Director Wu Yanhua announced plans for two missions to Mars and a probe to Jupiter. The first Mars probe, Yinghuo-2, is “expected to launch in 2020 to collect data on Mars,” and following that mission, a “rover will be sent to Mars to carry out exploration.” The plans also include “a fly-by of Jupiter” and “exploration of an asteroid.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Daily Mail)


30 January 2017
Mattis Orders Reviews of F-35, Air Force One

F35_WikipediaThe Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary James Mattis “in a pair of memorandums dated on Thursday...ordered Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work to initiate reviews of plans to build new presidential aircraft and another to move forward with fielding the F-35 stealth jet.” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, issued a statement calling the reviews a “prudent step” to aid the budget process. He said that it is “consistent with the president’s guidance to provide the strongest and most efficient military possible for our nation’s defense, and it aligns with the secretary’s priority to increase military readiness while gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense.” Boeing and Lockheed Martin welcomed the review and commended the administration for focusing on costs. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)


30 January 2017
SpaceX To Launch Dragon Ship to ISS In Its First Pad 39A Launch

Launch Pad 39A Modified For SpaceX - NASA Spaceflight Now reports that SpaceX has scheduled a Dragon supply ship mission to the ISS for its first launch from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, pushing back a mission with an EchoStar communications satellite that was originally scheduled to be the company’s first from the location. “This schedule change allows time for additional testing of ground systems ahead of the CRS-10 mission,” SpaceX said, adding that both launch vehicles “are all healthy and prepared for launch.” The EchoStar launch could follow soon after the Dragon, “perhaps taking off as soon as the end of February.” The company is shifting all of its Florida launches to the refurbished 39A after the September 1 rocket explosion damaged its Complex 40 facility. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


27 January 2017
GOES-16 Weather Satellite Performing Well In Tests

GOES-R-NASA Space News reports that NOAA’s first Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) “is performing well in its initial post-launch tests, although months of work lie ahead before the satellite is declared operational.” Earlier this week, the agency released the first images from the satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), built by Harris Corporation. John Van Naarden, lead engineer of the ABI program at Harris, said that the “results are just stunning” and “comparing well with our expectations.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


27 January 2017
SpaceX Envisions LC-39A as Base for Mars Mission Launches

Launch Pad 39A Modified For SpaceX - NASAThe New York Observer reports that according to early concepts by SpaceX, the company plans to use the historic Launch Complex (LC) 39A at Kennedy Space Center – which it leased from NASA – to one day launch its “Interplanetary Transport System – an enormous spaceship that is designed to carry infrastructure to build a fueling facility on Mars and eventually transport the Red Planet’s first human colonists.” SpaceX has already completed renovations to enable launches of its Falcon 9 rocket and upcoming Falcon Heavy vehicles, and its first launch from the pad is scheduled for February 3. For its future Mars plans, SpaceX “envisions those first missions, which are over a decade away, being launched from LC-39A.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Observer)


26 January 2017
Boeing Unveils New Starliner Spacesuits

Starliner Mockup Cockpit-NASAThe Washington Post reports that NASA, which “ultimately...answers to the White House,” is waiting for direction from the new administration amid few clues into its priorities for the agency. The Post writes that “what Trump will want out of NASA is unclear, because no one’s talking,” and the agency “so far has flown under the radar” during the transition. Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that there “has been no command from on high to change policies,” including on communications related to climate change. The administration’s “beachhead team” for NASA arrived Monday, and Lightfoot said that everyone is still getting situated. Employees now wait for news on the reported planned reestablishment of the National Space Council, Trump’s approach toward the private sector space industry, and potential plans for missions to Mars and the moon. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)


26 January 2017
NASA Awaiting Direction from New Administration

Mars Mission JPL-NASAThe Washington Post reports that NASA, which “ultimately...answers to the White House,” is waiting for direction from the new administration amid few clues into its priorities for the agency. The Post writes that “what Trump will want out of NASA is unclear, because no one’s talking,” and the agency “so far has flown under the radar” during the transition. Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that there “has been no command from on high to change policies,” including on communications related to climate change. The administration’s “beachhead team” for NASA arrived Monday, and Lightfoot said that everyone is still getting situated. Employees now wait for news on the reported planned reestablishment of the National Space Council, Trump’s approach toward the private sector space industry, and potential plans for missions to Mars and the moon. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)


25 January 2017
China Planning Ambitious Space Program

Long March 6The New York Times (Subscription Publication) reports that on Tuesday, “private access to the moon grew a little closer to reality” as the XPRIZE Foundation chose five finalists for its lunar mission contest. To win the $20 million top prize, “a spacecraft must land on the moon, move 500 meters and send back video and photographs”; the second team to do so would win $5 million. The teams “span the globe: Moon Express in the United States, Hakuto in Japan, SpaceIL in Israel, Team Indus in India, and Synergy Moon, an international collaboration.” Each will now “dash to finish” and attempt to launch their spacecraft by the end-of-year deadline. XPRIZE Foundation Senior Director Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer said the contest has “incentivized this whole business of the niche space economy.” (Image Credit: XPRIZE)
More Info (New York Times) (Subscription Publication)


25 January 2017
XPRIZE Foundation Chooses Five Finalists for Lunar Mission Contest

XPRIZE-graphic_XPRIZEThe New York Times (Subscription Publication) reports that on Tuesday, “private access to the moon grew a little closer to reality” as the XPRIZE Foundation chose five finalists for its lunar mission contest. To win the $20 million top prize, “a spacecraft must land on the moon, move 500 meters and send back video and photographs”; the second team to do so would win $5 million. The teams “span the globe: Moon Express in the United States, Hakuto in Japan, SpaceIL in Israel, Team Indus in India, and Synergy Moon, an international collaboration.” Each will now “dash to finish” and attempt to launch their spacecraft by the end-of-year deadline. XPRIZE Foundation Senior Director Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer said the contest has “incentivized this whole business of the niche space economy.” (Image Credit: XPRIZE)
More Info (New York Times) (Subscription Publication)


24 January 2017
Some Say Military Could Save Money by Modifying Commercial UAVs

DJIPhantom AP Purchased Wired reports that according to some experts, the US military could save money and research time by purchasing civilian UAVs already available on the market and modifying them for scouting missions. While the military does have some smaller UAVs, including Ravens and Pumas, their “biggest limitation” is that they are designed to fly outside, and not within building interiors; the civilian market, however, already offers UAVs capable of indoor flight. While Major Jeffrey Persons, head of the Aviation Combat Element Branch for the US Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory said that “commercial drones still aren’t quite ready for military action,” the Center for a New American Security’s 20YY Warfare Initiative Project Director Paul Scharre said that technology that will make them ready for military use is “right around the corner.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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24 January 2017
NASA Asked Public to Choose Juno’s Next Photo Locations

Juno NASAOn its website, USA Today features a video about the Juno spacecraft’s upcoming “close pass” of Jupiter on February 2. Ahead of the flyover, NASA “for the first time” asked the public to choose the sites where Juno will take photographs, allowing people to vote on locations. Voting ended January 23. (Image Credit: )
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18 January 2017
Panelists at AIAA Forum Discuss Space Traffic Management

Space Traffic Mgmt Panel-SciTech2017 Reuters reports that after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that the two “made progress” in discussions on lowering the cost of the future Air Force One fleet and a potential sale of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets to compete with the F-35 fighter. While not commenting on details, “Muilenburg said the ‘excellent conversation’ with Trump could lead to a deal ‘in the very near term.’” (Image Credit: John Murphy via Wikimedia Commons) (Image Credit: )
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18 January 2017
Boeing CEO: “Excellent Conversation” With Trump About Air Force One, F/A-18s

AirForceOne_WikimediaCommons.png Reuters reports that after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that the two “made progress” in discussions on lowering the cost of the future Air Force One fleet and a potential sale of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets to compete with the F-35 fighter. While not commenting on details, “Muilenburg said the ‘excellent conversation’ with Trump could lead to a deal ‘in the very near term.’” (Image Credit: John Murphy via Wikimedia Commons) (Image Credit: )
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17 January 2017
Last Man to Walk On Moon Dies at 82

Eugene-A-Cernan-AP-PurchasedThe New York Times reports that on Monday, NASA announced that “Eugene A. Cernan, the commander of the Apollo 17 lunar-landing mission in 1972 and the last human to walk on the moon, died” in Houston. (Image: U.S. Navy commander and astronaut for the upcoming Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan, is pictured in his space suit (Foto von 1972). Credit: Associated Press–©)
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17 January 2017
SpaceX Launches First Falcon 9 Rocket Since September Mishap

SpaceXFalcon9Launch14Jan2017-AP-Purchased USA Today reported that on Saturday, SpaceX successfully launched a reusable Falcon 9 rocket, the company’s first launch since an explosion on the launchpad last September had grounded the company’s fleet of rockets for the past several months. The successful launch on Saturday allowed for the insertion of 10 replacement satellites into orbit for Iridium Communications, Inc. Meanwhile, the AP reported that on its descent to earth, the Falcon 9’s first stage “made a perfect upright touchdown on the floating pad,” an “important step for SpaceX” in its effort to perfect reusable rockets. (Image: Space-X's Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA on Saturday, 14 Jan., 2017. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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17 January 2017
Workforce Needs for Advances in Aerospace

StudentMembersAttendSciTech2017SessionThe aerospace industry will undoubtedly continue to transform society in positive ways for decades to come despite the challenges it faces with attracting and retaining younger talent, a panel of industry experts said Jan. 13 at 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. Darryll Pines, moderator for the "Next Generation Workforce" panel, said the collective mission is to figure out the needs of the workforce and explore methods by which industry, academia and government can "work together to create the workforce of the future." (Image Credit: AIAA)
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17 January 2017
FAA Eager to Start Space Traffic Transition

SpaceTrafficManagementPanel_SciTech2017The U.S. is gravitating toward giving the FAA the job of warning satellite operators about potential collisions, something the Air Force currently does. At the moment, no one knows exactly how the FAA would manage space traffic and what role the industry might play. The "Space Traffic Management" panel discussed those issues Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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12 January 2017
Balancing Piloted Flight Tests Against Automation

Lab-to-Flight-Test-Panel_SciTech2017Flight testing is vitally important to advance aircraft development, and the industry should not overly rely on machines to do that testing, a panel of experts said Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. The "Transitioning Your Idea From the Lab to Flight Test" panel examined the need for flight testing, the ways testing is conducted and the need for humans in the test process. The panel concluded that humans must be part of the flight testing process. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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11 January 2017
Presidential Transitions and How They Shake Things Up

PresidentialTransitionsPanel_SciTech2017Presidential transitions really alter the aerospace landscape, bringing new people, new policies, new politics and new perspectives to Washington, D.C., a panel of experts said Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. The "Disruptive Policy Issues — Presidential Transitions" panel examined how presidential transitions shake things up. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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11 January 2017
Wild Ideas for Stopping Climate Change

GeoengineeringPanel_SciTech2017If humanity wants to get serious about stopping human-caused climate change, it's going to have to actively intervene in the functioning of the atmosphere, said panelists Jan. 10 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. Exactly how is the question. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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10 January 2017
Còrdova: Basic Research Is Key to Sustaining Innovation

Cordova_SciTech2017To ensure the U.S. maintains its standing as the global leader in innovation and scientific advancement, basic research needs support, said France A. Còrdova, director of the National Science Foundation, during the Durand Lecture for Public Service on Jan. 9 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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9 January 2017
NASA Asks Astronomers for JWST Observation Proposals

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASA SPACE reported that NASA has asked scientists to start planning proposals for observations by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) scheduled to start in April 2019, about six months after its planned launch. Officials released the call for proposals at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) on January 5. “This year marks the return of the [science] community to the program,” said NASA JWST Program Director Eric Smith, who explained that priorities to this point have focused more on the telescope’s development than what it would observe. The call follows an “anomaly” last month that temporarily halted testing on the telescope. (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 January 2017
US Air Force Exploring Integrating Commercial Satellite Communication Technology

Satellite-NASA Defense Systems reported that the US Air Force is exploring integrating “commercial technology and high-throughput satellites” into its military satellite systems to “help protect communications and reduce vulnerabilities for hacking or jamming.” Hughes Defense Systems Vice President Rick Lober explained that the “military may lease more SatCom bandwidth from commercial suppliers such as Hughes, ViaSat or Intelsat, among others,” in order to increase system diversity. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 January 2017
Aerospace Firms Looking to Promote STEM Careers as Early as Kindergarten

STEM-K12-AIAAThe Los Angeles Times reports that US aerospace firms have faced challenges in recent years in recruiting young engineers, who have tended to prefer tech firms in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Moreover, “aerospace companies are facing an even stiffer challenge as Web and computer companies, and other sectors like the auto industry, move into areas like drones and autonomous systems.” Such firms as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp. are “realizing they have to dig deeper – and adjust their messaging – to capture top tech talent.” Such firms are “starting to reach out earlier to potential employees – as early as elementary school or even pre-kindergarten – to get them interested in science and math.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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6 January 2017
Airbus Moves US Engineering Unit to Wichita State University Facility

AirbusEngineeringCenter-AirbusThe Wichita Eagle reported that Airbus has moved its “US engineering outpost” to “a new building at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.” Airbus Americas Engineering’s move “was more than just a means to consolidate its work into one building,” said John O’Leary, vice president of Airbus Americas Engineering, adding that the draw “is being at the university and its new Innovation Campus, where new ideas flourish and a pipeline for its future workforce exists.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
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5 January 2017
F-35C Report Finds Variant Hurts And Disorients Pilots

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimedia Business Insider reports that an F-35C “red team” has issued a report in which it has determined that the F-35C remains behind the other F-35 variants due to “rough takeoffs that hurt and disorient pilots at the critical moment when they’re taking off from a carrier.” The team concluded that the problem stems from “several factors central to the plane’s design” and will require fixes that would begin in 2019 and would require up to 36 months to implement. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
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5 January 2017
Space Shuttle Veteran, Former CIA Intel Officer Selected for 2018 ISS Mission

InternationalSpaceStation_NASA SPACE reports that on Wednesday, NASA announced the names of two American astronauts selected to visit the ISS in 2018, Andrew Feustel and Jeanette Epps. Feustel, a veteran of two NASA space shuttle missions, will launch in March 2018 as a flight engineer and “then take command of the station’s Expedition 56 crew a few months later.” Epps, who will be making her first visit to space, joined NASA’s astronaut corps “in 2009 after serving seven years as a technical intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency,” and will become “the first African-American crewmember of an ISS expedition.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 January 2017
NASA Awards Crew Missions to Boeing, SpaceX

Boeing_CST-100 Defense Daily reports that NASA has awarded “four additional Commercial Crew missions each” to Boeing and SpaceX under current Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities contracts. Boeing has an unmanned flight test scheduled for June 2018, and a manned test scheduled for August 2018, while Space X has unmanned and manned tests scheduled for November 2017 and May 2018, respectively. Following testing, NASA is expected to certify the companies for flight ahead of missions to the ISS. (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
SpaceX Announces Its Ready to Resume Launch Operations

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki AFP reports that SpaceX announced Monday that following its determination of the cause of a launchpad explosion in September it is now ready to resume launches “as early as Sunday.” According to the article, in a statement released Monday, SpaceX said it had identified the issue to a pressure vessel in the second-stage liquid oxygen tank, and that the company hopes to launch 10 communications satellites from California on Sunday. (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
NASA Delivers OMS Engine to Germany for Orion Service Module

OMS_Pod_removal-NASA Spaceflight Now reports that a “former space shuttle orbital maneuvering system [OMS] engine” refurbished by NASA has been delivered to Airbus Defense and Space’s spacecraft assembly facility in Germany, to be attached to an Orion spacecraft module for use in ESA’s Exploration Mission-1. The article notes that “Lockheed Martin is prime contractor for the Orion crew module, which will house the astronauts, their living quarters and the cockpit.” The refurbished OMS engine was built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, flew on 19 space shuttle missions, and is rated for 100 missions “rated for multiple restarts on each flight.” (Image: View of shuttle Endeavour’s left-hand orbiter maneuvering system, or OMS, pod. Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
Government’s “Slow Pace” Increases Demand for Counter-UAV Technologies

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased Reuters reports that the “slow pace of government regulation” for UAVs and the increase in consumer UAV sales “has spawned a counter-industry of start-ups aiming to stop drones flying where they shouldn’t, by disabling them or knocking them out of the sky.” The article reports that dozens of start-up firms from around the world “are developing techniques – from deploying birds of prey to firing gas through a bazooka – to take on UAVs that are being used to smuggle drugs, drop bombs, spy on enemy lines or buzz public spaces.” Reuters mentions that the FAA “is testing various counter-drone technologies at several airports” in the US. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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