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Industry News

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.


26 April 2017
Boeing Close To Decision On MAX-10, Sources Say

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that according to unnamed sources, The Boeing Company is nearing a decision to produce the 737 MAX-10X variant. The company aims to unveil the new plane at the Paris Air Show in June and begin production in 2020, according to the sources. Asked to comment on the plans, “Boeing said no decision has been taken, and it’s too early to talk about launch.” According to the sources, Boeing is discussing the MAX-10X with airlines and expects to sell 1,000 of the jetliners to compete with strong sales of the Airbus A321neo. Travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt said that the MAX-10 would represent a “stop-gap in the Boeing product mix,” but would come “to market just as demand for aircraft has slowed.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Reuters)


26 April 2017
DJI Unveils Goggles Enabling First-Person View For UAV Operation

DJI_Phantom4_APThe Daily Mail reports that DJI has unveiled a set of goggles designed to provide operators of its Mavic Pro with “a seamless bird’s eye view of the world in full HD,” according to the company. DJI Goggles, priced at $449, stream a live, full HD video feed from the $999 Mavic Pro’s cameras. Senior Product Manager Paul Pan said, “DJI pilots deserve a first-person viewing experience with the same quality, power, and performance they have come to expect from our aerial platforms.” The company plans to start shipping the goggles May 20. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Daily Mail)


25 April 2017
USC Overcomes Crash To Win AIAA's Remote Aircraft Competition

USC-winning-teamTucson, Ariz. — University of Southern California students bounced back from a crash to eke out a win Sunday in the 2017 AAIA Design Build Fly contest, while a one-man team from India sparked a kind of international relief effort from dozens of fellow competitors. DBF, now in its 21st year, pits teams of undergraduate engineering students against each other for a weekend-long competition in which they must conceive and fly a remote controlled aircraft to meet a set of requirements unveiled in September. (Image: The University of Southern California team poses for a photo after winning the 2017 AIAA Design Build Fly competition. Credit: USC AeroDesign Team)
More Info (Aerospace America)
DBF 2017 Photo Album


25 April 2017
Page-Backed Startup Unveils Prototype For Flying Car

KittyHawkFlyerCNN Money reports that Silicon Valley-based startup Kitty Hawk, backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, unveiled its “flying car” prototype Monday in a demonstration shared online. Kitty Hawk said that the FAA has approved the “Flyer” to operate in “uncongested areas.” The Flyer, which buyers will not need a pilot’s license to operate, is slated to go on sale this year. (Image Credit: Kitty Hawk via YouTube)
More Info (CNN Money)


25 April 2017
Boeing-Saab Team Flight-Tests Second T-X Trainer Aircraft

USAF_TXTrainers_WikiFlightGlobal reports that Boeing and Saab have completed the first flight of their second “production-ready” T-X trainer aircraft. The Boeing-Saab team is one of at least three competitors – alongside a Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace team and Leonardo DRS – that have submitted proposals for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer contract to replace the service’s T-38 fleet, scheduled for 2026. Matt Giese, Boeing test pilot for Air Force Programs, said, “The jet handled exactly like the first aircraft and the simulator, meeting all expectations.” (Image: USAF T-38 Talon, to be replaced by T-X program selection. Credit: SGT Jeffrey Allen, USAF, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


24 April 2017
Northrop Grumman Dedicates New North Dakota UAV Facility

MQ-1-Predator-USAFReuters reported that NASA’s Cassini spacecraft entered the final stage of its mission Saturday, using Titan’s gravity to slingshot itself into a new, slightly smaller orbit around Saturn that will send it on a series of 22 exploratory, “finale dives” passing just inside the planet’s rings. The spacecraft is scheduled to make the first dive on Wednesday. During the final dive set for September 15, the spacecraft “is slated to destroy itself by flying directly into Saturn’s crushing atmosphere.” The AP (4/21) reported that the dives “should allow scientists to measure the mass of the multiple rings – shedding light on how old they are and how they formed – and also to determine the composition of the countless ring particles.” Project Scientist Linda Spilker said, “Imagine the pictures we’re going to get back of Saturn’s rings.” (Image: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


24 April 2017
NASA’s Cassini Slingshots Around Titan To Set Course For Final Dives

Cassini-NASAReuters reported that NASA’s Cassini spacecraft entered the final stage of its mission Saturday, using Titan’s gravity to slingshot itself into a new, slightly smaller orbit around Saturn that will send it on a series of 22 exploratory, “finale dives” passing just inside the planet’s rings. The spacecraft is scheduled to make the first dive on Wednesday. During the final dive set for September 15, the spacecraft “is slated to destroy itself by flying directly into Saturn’s crushing atmosphere.” The AP (4/21) reported that the dives “should allow scientists to measure the mass of the multiple rings – shedding light on how old they are and how they formed – and also to determine the composition of the countless ring particles.” Project Scientist Linda Spilker said, “Imagine the pictures we’re going to get back of Saturn’s rings.” (Image: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


20 April 2017
SpaceX’s NRO Launch To Mark Start Of New Era For Competition

MA370_LaurentErrera_WikiThe Orlando Sentinel reports that SpaceX’s upcoming launch of a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office under a DOD contract will usher in a “new area of competition” between the company and United Launch Alliance (ULA), which previously acted as the exclusive launch provider for national security payloads. Both companies launch from the Space Coast, and the competition “could mean more business for Florida.” Space Florida ‎Chief of Strategic Alliance Dale Ketcham said that “competition is a good thing,” explaining that it “will drive down prices and could result in it being cheaper to get into space, meaning more launches.” The launch is scheduled for no earlier than April 30. (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)


19 April 2017
Facebook Sets Radio Speed Record With Technology For Aquila UAV

MA370_LaurentErrera_Wiki Bloomberg News reports that Malaysia Airlines “has become the first airline to sign an agreement for space-based flight tracking of its aircraft,” reaching a deal with Aireon, SITAONAIR and FlightAware for monitoring everywhere on Earth. Malaysia Airlines COO Izham Ismail said, “Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community. ... We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution.” Aireon is working with Iridium Communications to launch a new satellite network, expected to be completed by next year, to monitor air traffic through ADS-B transmissions. (Image Credit: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


19 April 2017
US Surpasses Longest Period Without Manned Spaceflight

FinalLandingAtlantis-NASAArs Technica reports that former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale noted on Twitter Tuesday that the US has now surpassed its longest gap of no manned spaceflights since the first astronaut reached orbit. Hale highlighted that a total of 2,098 days have passed since Atlantis landed on July 21, 2011, surpassing the 2,089 days between the end of the Apollo program and the first space shuttle mission. Since the last shuttle mission, NASA has relied on Russia to ferry astronauts to the ISS. According to Ars Technica, “the latest and longest gap in US spaceflight activities should close within two years or less” thanks to private companies such as SpaceX and Boeing developing crewed launch platforms and NASA’s Space Launch System. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Art Technica)


18 April 2017
Malaysia Airlines Signs Agreement For Satellite Tracking Of Aircraft

MA370_LaurentErrera_Wiki Bloomberg News reports that Malaysia Airlines “has become the first airline to sign an agreement for space-based flight tracking of its aircraft,” reaching a deal with Aireon, SITAONAIR and FlightAware for monitoring everywhere on Earth. Malaysia Airlines COO Izham Ismail said, “Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community. ... We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution.” Aireon is working with Iridium Communications to launch a new satellite network, expected to be completed by next year, to monitor air traffic through ADS-B transmissions. (Image Credit: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


17 April 2017
Commercial UAV Boom Creates Opportunity For Mechanics

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe AP reported that the boom in commercial UAVs is creating a rising demand for repairs, presenting an opportunity for mechanics looking to specialize in a growing market and existing shops open to adding another business line. Some community colleges are now offering programs specializing in UAV repair, and companies are establishing more dedicated repair stations. Robotic Skies already operates more than 120 service stations for higher-end UAVs and has plans for more, while the Grand Sky UAV business park is considering building a repair depot for medium and large UAVs, the latter of which currently can be repaired only on military bases. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)


17 April 2017
NASA To Provide 360-Degree View Of This Week’s Cygnus Launch

Cygnus-on-launchpad-NASAThe Baltimore Sun reported that NASA announced Friday that it will broadcast a live 360-degree view of the Orbital ATK Cygnus launch scheduled for Tuesday. The mission, Orbital ATK’s seventh to resupply the ISS under a 10-flight contract with NASA, has faced multiple delays since its originally-scheduled March 27 launch date due to issues with ground support systems and booster hydraulics. NASA’s live broadcast on its YouTube channel will let viewers control the camera perspective of the launch. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Baltimore Sun)


14 April 2017
NASA’s Search For Life On Europa, Enceladus Just Got Easier

Enceladus_NASA-CassiniNASA on Thursday said data collected by the Cassini spacecraft show a strong possibility that the ocean beneath the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus is capable of supporting microbial life. Also, images of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa taken by the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that at least one geyser could exist there too, offering a potential target for the planned Europa Clipper mission when it flies by during its orbiting of the gas giant. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)
More Info (Aerospace America)


14 April 2017
Boeing 737 MAX-9 Makes Maiden Flight

Boeing737MaxBloomberg News reports that The Boeing Company conducted the maiden flight of its 737 MAX-9 variant Thursday, completing the milestone five days ahead of schedule. USA Today reports that the plane flew for nearly three hours, taking off from Boeing’s Renton, Washington, assembly line facility and landing at Seattle’s Boeing Field. The Boeing MAX-9 now will begin testing for certification. Boeing’s first MAX variant, the shorter 737 MAX-8, “is expected to begin flying passengers for commercial airlines within the next few months.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


14 April 2017
SSL Begins Work On DARPA Satellite Servicing Program

Satellite-Servicing-NASAWashington Technology reports that a day after expanding its Government Systems executive team, Space Systems Loral (SSL) announced that it has finalized a contract with DARPA to perform work for the agency’s robotic satellite servicing program, which Orbital ATK has sued to halt. SSL Vice President of Washington Operations Mike Gold said, “We are pleased and proud to begin work on this critical program to ensure that the U.S. becomes a global leader in satellite servicing.” Orbital ATK claimed in its lawsuit that the agency is subsidizing development of the technology for SSL, which eventually will own the intellectual property. DARPA filed a motion for dismissal Tuesday, and the US District Court for Virginia’s Eastern District is scheduled to hold a hearing on the case May 5. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Washington Technology)


13 April 2017
Airbus CEO Enders: Aerospace Industry On Brink Of “Third Revolution

AirbusA320Neo_AP_PurchasedAFP reports that Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in an interview that the global aerospace sector is on the cusp of a “third revolution” enabled by technological breakthroughs. Speaking to AFP on the sidelines of an Airbus annual general assembly in Amsterdam, Enders said, “I do genuinely believe that we are at a point where those technological changes and breakthroughs in electric propulsion, autonomous flight, artificial intelligence, machine learning, new materials, all come together, plus the data usage, (and) will be nothing less than a third revolution in aerospace.” He stressed that Airbus is playing a role in the advances, saying, “Overall we are investing much more in innovation and digitalisation than we’ve done in previous years. ... It’s inevitable to prepare for the future.” (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (AFP)


13 April 2017
Cygnus Freighter Slated To Make ISS Delivery Next Week

Cygnus-on-launchpad-NASASpaceflight Now reports that an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vessel is scheduled to launch Tuesday on a delivery mission to the ISS. The spacecraft, carrying nearly 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs) of scientific supplies and hardware, will launch from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. Among the new research equipment is an experiment intended to test how an antibody-drug conjugates in microgravity, another one that “aims to grow a new type of scintillator crystal for use in portable radiation detectors,” and an Advanced Plant Habitat. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


12 April 2017
US Air Force To Base New Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operations In Nevada

MQ-9ReaperThe Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the US Air Force will establish remotely piloted aircraft services at Nevada airfields under a recently-announced $3.6 billion contract awarded to URS Federal Services. URS was contracted to “provide testing, tactics development, advanced training, (and) Joint and Air Force urgent operational need missions” until 2034 at locations including the Nevada Test and Training Range, Creech Air Force Base and the Tonopah Test Range Airfield. Nevada UAS Test Site Director Chris Walach welcomed the news, saying, “Any time you’re bringing in contracts to the state of Nevada, the aviation industry benefits.” (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
More Info (Las Vegas Review-Journal)


12 April 2017
SpaceX Slated To Launch Classified NRO Mission This Month

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAThe New York Observer reports that it has received an email indicating that SpaceX is scheduled to “launch a classified payload to support clandestine activities for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)” on April 30 from Kennedy Space Center. The launch, not listed on the company’s customer manifest, represents “the first time the company is exclusively launching a classified payload for the NRO,” which previously used United Launch Alliance for launches. An NRO spokesperson said that the office is “anticipating the possibility of SpaceX supporting additional missions based on future competitions.” (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Observer)


11 April 2017
US Air Force Contracts Private Company To Research UAV Noise Characteristics

Drone_Over_Neighborhood_AP_PurchasedOn Friday, the FAA announced a ban on all unauthorized UAS operations over 133 US military bases, reflecting growing concern among top military, government, and industry officials that military facilities could become a prime target for malicious actors. The ban, agreed upon between the FAA and the Defense Department, takes effect on Friday, April 14. Reuters reported that aside from military bases, Federal officials also worry that airports or large venues such as stadiums could become the targets of hostile drone operations. According to Reuters, the FAA also is weighing whether to restrict UAS operation over other Federal buildings related to security or intelligence, having already banned all UAS operation in the Special Flight Rules Area centered around Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)


11 April 2017
Boeing Could Cut Cost Of 787 By $3M Through 3-D Printing Deal

Dreamliner-BoeingOn Friday, the FAA announced a ban on all unauthorized UAS operations over 133 US military bases, reflecting growing concern among top military, government, and industry officials that military facilities could become a prime target for malicious actors. The ban, agreed upon between the FAA and the Defense Department, takes effect on Friday, April 14. Reuters reported that aside from military bases, Federal officials also worry that airports or large venues such as stadiums could become the targets of hostile drone operations. According to Reuters, the FAA also is weighing whether to restrict UAS operation over other Federal buildings related to security or intelligence, having already banned all UAS operation in the Special Flight Rules Area centered around Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)


10 April 2017
FAA Announces UAS Ban Over 133 US Military Bases

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsOn Friday, the FAA announced a ban on all unauthorized UAS operations over 133 US military bases, reflecting growing concern among top military, government, and industry officials that military facilities could become a prime target for malicious actors. The ban, agreed upon between the FAA and the Defense Department, takes effect on Friday, April 14. Reuters reported that aside from military bases, Federal officials also worry that airports or large venues such as stadiums could become the targets of hostile drone operations. According to Reuters, the FAA also is weighing whether to restrict UAS operation over other Federal buildings related to security or intelligence, having already banned all UAS operation in the Special Flight Rules Area centered around Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)


10 April 2017
Musk: SpaceX Could Reuse Every Major Rocket Component By Next Year

Falcon9Descends_Jan2016_WikimediaCommonsFortune reports that SpaceX founder Elon Musk said Friday that he plans for the company to reuse all major components of Falcon 9 rockets by late next year. The benefits derived from reusing the first-stage booster - as SpaceX successfully achieved for the first time in a launch last month - “would only be amplified by full reusability, which would leave fuel - at $200,000-$300,000 per mission - as the primary material cost for launches,” which currently cost $61.2 million each. (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Fortune)


7 April 2017
Siemens’ Battery-Powered Plane Breaks Electric-Flight Speed Record

SiemensExtra330LEThe Daily Mail reports that Siemens’ Extra 330LE battery-powered plane “has hit a new speed record for electric flight,” reaching more than 210mph in a test-flight last month in Germany. For the flight, the 330LE - a test model for Siemens’ electric propulsion development - used a “powerful electric motor that weighed just 50 kilograms [110 pounds],” with 260 kW of power output, to exceed the previous record by 8.4mph. While electric aircraft still face a long road to commercial viability, Siemens Executive Vice President and head of eAircraft Frank Anton said, “By 2030, we expect to see the first planes carrying up to 100 passengers and having a range of about 1,000 km [621 mi].” (Image Credit: Siemens)
More Info (Daily Mail)


6 April 2017
US Naval Research Laboratory Planning Swarming Tests For CICADA UAV

NRL-Developed-microUAV-USNavyIHS Jane’s 360 reports that a US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) spokesman said Wednesday that the laboratory is planning swarming tests for its palm-sized Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) MK5 from a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft, which will deploy the UAVs from a single canister. Speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, the spokesman explained that the CICADA’s self-stabilization capability using spin recovery maneuvers has been tested in a wind tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center, where NRL has delivered 150 of the UAVs. (Image Credit: US Navy)
More Info (IHS Jane’s 360)


6 April 2017
SpaceX’s Shotwell: Reused Falcon 9 Boosters To Return Increasing Savings

Falcon9Descends_Jan2016_WikimediaCommonsSpace News reports that at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Wednesday that the cost of refurbishing the recovered Falcon 9 first stage used in last week’s launch “was substantially less than half” the cost of a new booster, and that the company expects greater savings for future launches as it increases refurbishment efficiencies. “We did way more on this one than we’re doing on future ones, of course,” she explained, reiterating that the company’s goal is “to refly a rocket within 24 hours. That’s when we’ll really feel like we’ve got reusability right.” Shotwell also noted that a payload fairing - which founder Elon Musk has said costs $6 million - recovered from the launch “looked pretty good.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Space News)


5 April 2017
Roscosmos Chief Open To Extending ISS Partnership

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAReuters reports that Roscosmos General Director Igor Komarov said Tuesday that Russia is “ready to discuss” extending the international partnership supporting the ISS beyond 2024, when the program is currently slated to end. Speaking at the US Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Komarov said, “I think that we need to prolong our cooperation in low-Earth orbit because we haven’t resolved all the issues and problems that we face now.” A US House of Representatives panel that oversees NASA has begun studying whether to extend ISS funding or use that money to accelerate other human space initiatives. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


5 April 2017
ULA Reschedules Cygnus Launch For 18 April

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASpace News reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced Monday that it has rescheduled the launch of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a Cygnus spacecraft for April 18. The company said that it had formulated a plan to resolve a booster hydraulics issue that delayed the launch of the OA-7 mission, which was originally scheduled for late March. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


4 April 2017
Aviation Community Still Deadlocked Over New Flight-Data Recording Technology

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsThe Wall Street Journal reports that a dispute pitting The Boeing Company and the FAA against Airbus Group and European regulators has deadlocked implementation of new flight-data recorder technology to supplement or replace current “black boxes.” Airbus and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have indicated support for adopting deployable recorders already used in military applications, but Boeing has contended that the technology is unnecessary given the number of jetliner crashes. Last year, the FAA moved closer to supporting Boeing’s position - calling deployable recorders “redundant and economically burdensome” - as it waited to see whether the EASA would issue a mandate, which the agency has not. (Image Credit: )
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


3 April 2017
Boeing Completes Successful Maiden Flight Of 787-10

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAUSA Today reported that The Boeing Company conducted a successful maiden flight Friday of its 787-10 Dreamliner from its North Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant. Boeing currently has 149 orders for the newest and largest Dreamliner variant, and “hopes to start delivering the 787-10s to airlines in 2018.” (Image: Boeing 787-10. Credit: Boeing)
More Info (USA Today)


31 March 2017
Musk Shares Updates On Falcon Heavy

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAArs Technica reports that following SpaceX’s successful launch of a reusable Falcon 9 booster last Thursday, founder Elon Musk provided several updates on the development of the Falcon Heavy rocket. He confirmed that a demonstration launch is slated for “late summer,” but he acknowledged that completing the current manifest of Falcon 9 missions remains the company’s highest priority. “Perhaps the biggest tidbit” shared by Musk was that the company may try to recover the upper stage, which “would essentially allow SpaceX to recycle an entire rocket.” Musk tweeted, “Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot.” Musk also said that developing the Falcon Heavy has proven “crazy hard,” and, speculating what the rocket could carry on its maiden flight, said, “Silliest thing we can imagine!” (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Ars Technica)


31 March 2017
SpaceX Makes Aerospace History With Launch and Landing of Used Rocket

SpaceXFalcon9Launch_feb2017-NASAThe New York Times reports that on Thursday, SpaceX successfully “launched a commercial satellite into space” from Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket that had previously been used, “a feat that may open an era of cheaper space travel.” The company reused a Falcon 9 first stage, or booster, to power the launch, before landing the rocket on a “floating platform in the Atlantic.” The Times notes that the booster “could conceivably launch again, since it returned in one piece.” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the booster “did this mission perfectly. It dropped off the second stage, came back and landed on the drone ship, right in the bulls-eye,” adding that the accomplishment “means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Times)


30 March 2017
FAA Considering DJI’s Electronic ID Concept

DJI_Phantom4_APFox News reports that the FAA is considering UAS manufacturer DJI’s concept for an electronic ID system for small devices as a way to identify UAV operators. According to Fox News, DJI suggests that UAV operators “should use the radio equipment already on board most systems to transmit a unique registration number” and that number would ID the operator to “law enforcement in the event of a complaint or flight through a restricted area.” Fox News adds that DJI’s idea has been submitted to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which is a group responsible for collecting ideas on possible ID systems. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)


30 March 2017
Experts Warn Satellites Are Increasingly Vulnerable To Foreign Threat

GPS_Sat_NASAUSA Today reports that House lawmakers heard Wednesday from experts about “the vulnerability of U.S. commercial satellites” to foreign threats. Former US Air Force Space Command Director Gen. William Shelton, USAF (Ret.), said communications, imaging, weather, and GPS satellites are increasingly susceptible to foreign interference because many adversaries “have developed a full quiver of these methods, ranging from satellite signal jamming to outright destruction of satellites via a kill vehicle, such as that successfully tested by China in 2007.” He added that “the pace of these counterspace efforts appears to be accelerating, and the impact of the use of counterspace capabilities likely would be felt by all sectors of the space community.” According to former Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Joseph Nimmich, losing satellite capability would devastate the agency’s efforts, particularly in crises and in areas especially vulnerable to natural disaster. (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)


29 March 2017
SpaceX Preps For Historic Rocket Launch With Reused Booster Thursday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASAThe Wall Street Journal reports that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is scheduled to launch the first liquid-fueled rocket to be powered by reused engines on Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company has repurposed the Falcon 9’s lower stage engines and hopes to demonstrate that “flight-proven” engines can be reused, which they say will help facilitate inexpensive space travel. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


29 March 2017
NASA Faces Tough Choice Between ISS, SLS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAQuartz reports that NASA may have to choose between maintaining the ISS and continuing a “$23 billion and growing program to develop a huge new deep-space rocket and spacecraft to carry humans to the moon and beyond.” Former NASA and Lockheed Martin executive A. Thomas Young said in February that “about half of the current [NASA] budget is allocated to low-Earth orbit endeavors” and half to “human exploration which includes [the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket] and Orion [spacecraft],” opining that “a $4.5 billion annual budget is clearly inadequate for a credible human exploration program” and warning that “a choice must be made and made soon between [low-Earth orbit] and exploration.” Quartz notes that “the decision won’t be made this year” and “most independent experts” agree “that the budget does not meaningfully change the balance Young described between supporting the ISS and its commercial programs, and funding the deep-space exploration budget."
More Info (Quartz)


28 March 2017
DJI: UAVs Should Transmit Identifier For Security

DJI_Phantom4_APAP reports that in a paper released on Monday, DJI argued that continual transmission of an identification code by unmanned aircraft could help to address governments’ security concerns while safeguarding operators’ privacy. DJI suggested that the system could be developed using existing technology, and an attorney for the company equated the transmitted codes to license plates. Also on Monday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the agency will create an advisory committee to make recommendations regarding remote UAV tracking and to facilitate discussions on security between government agencies and the commercial UAV industry. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Associated Press)


28 March 2017
Juno Makes Fifth Close Flyby Of Jupiter

Juno_NASASPACE reports that on Monday morning, NASA’s Juno spacecraft completed its fifth close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft’s JunoCam took close-up color photos of the planet, and all eight of its science instruments were active and collecting data. NASA scientists said that they expect to publish new papers using data from the first flybys within the next four months. (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (SPACE)


27 March 2017
US Air Force’s X-37B Sets New Earth-Orbiting Record

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFFlorida Today reports that on Saturday, the US Air Force’s classified X-37B space plane surpassed its own record for the longest time spent orbiting Earth by a spacecraft, reaching 675 days, having eclipsed the 674-day mark set by its predecessor, OTV-3, in October 2014. Officials have not confirmed when the X-37B will land, but the article notes that it is expected to do so at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), which would mark the first landing at KSC since the final space shuttle landing in 2011. (Image Credit: USAF)
More Info (Florida Today)


27 March 2017
SpaceX’s First Launch Of Recovered Booster Slated For Wednesday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASAUSA Today reported that SpaceX is scheduled to conduct its first launch using a “flight proven” booster this Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center. The reusable Falcon 9 first-stage booster to be used in the launch successfully landed on a ship last April. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)


24 March 2017
Records Show FAA Has Granted 314 Special-Use Permits For UAV Flights

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedUSA Today reports that since the agency issued its new comprehensive rules for UAVs last year, the FAA has granted 314 special permits, including - with some overlap - 306 for flying at night, 11 for flying multiple UAVs at once, three for flying beyond-line-of-sight, and several for other situations. Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) CEO Brian Wynne said that the numbers show the expanding applications for UAVs, and underscore the need for the FAA to issue new regulations allowing flights in such circumstances without special permits. He claimed that doing so would benefit the economy. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (USA Today)


24 March 2017
NASA Officials Praise Funding Levels For Planetary Science

NASA-Planetary-Science-NASASpace News reports that at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference earlier this week, NASA officials praised the 16 percent increase in funding for planetary science programs proposed by the White House’s budget blueprint released last week. NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green called the $1.9 billion funding level “historic,” noting that “we’ve never had a proposed budget this high.” Green said that the agency will wait until budget details are released in May to determine and comment on timelines for specific projects. Green said little about the $100 million in cuts to the agency’s Earth science program. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


23 March 2017
NASA: Laser System Could “Revolutionize” Space Communications

LCRD-NASAPhys provides an update on NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) program, which aims to develop much higher data rates for communications between Earth and spacecraft in near-orbit and deep space. LCRD recently entered its integration and test phase and is scheduled to launch in 2019 for two to five years of testing. NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that the “technology has the potential to revolutionize space communications.” The agency is working with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the US Air Force on the project. (Image Credit: NASA)
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23 March 2017
Southern California Aerospace Industry Could See “Major Windfall” From Defense Budget

F35-LukeAFB_USAF-WikipediaThe Los Angeles Times reports that Southern California’s defense and aerospace industry “could get a major windfall” from President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. The defense spending increase could help revitalize the industry in the region, which has seen aerospace-related jobs decline from 273,000 in 1990 to 92,000 today. According to experts, the blueprint request “would flush federal dollars to hundreds of Pentagon contractors” in Southern California, including 240 for the F-35 alone. The F-35’s fuselage is produced by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, and General Atomics produces Gray Eagle UAVs in Poway. (Image: F-35 Lightning II. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann via Wikimedia Commons)
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22 March 2017
FAA Predicts UAVs To Increase Dramatically By 2021

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APReuters reports that on Tuesday, the FAA predicted that the number of UAVs in the US “will jump dramatically over the next five years.” The agency forecast that the number of hobbyist UAVs will more than triple to 3.5 million by 2021, the number of commercial UAVs will increase almost ten-fold to 441,000, and that the number of UAV pilots will increase by a multiple of 10 to 20. The FAA attributed the difference in hobbyist and commercial UAV growth rates to “how quickly the regulatory environment will evolve, enabling more widespread routine uses of (drones) for commercial purposes.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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22 March 2017
FAA Predicts Substantial Growth In Aviation Industry

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsAir Transport World reports that the FAA released its annual Aerospace Forecast for fiscal years 2017-2037, and forecast that the US will see a “competitive and profitable aviation industry characterized by increasing demand for air travel [with] airfares growing more slowly than inflation” over the next two decades. According to the report, the FAA projected that “traffic growth by US mainline and regional carriers will increase at an average rate of 2.4% per year,” while “passenger growth on US carriers will increase at an average 1.9% per year.” (Image Credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
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21 March 2017
Airlines For America Forecasts Record Number Of Fliers This Spring

AmericanAirlinesThe Washington Post reports that Airlines for America has issued its spring travel forecast, which predicts that a record 145 million travelers - a 4 percent increase from 2016 - will fly in March and April. To accommodate the expected demand, US airlines are adding 110,000 seats per day during the period. (Image Credit: Sergey Kustov via Wikipedia)
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21 March 2017
Iridium Builds Satellites Capable Of Continuously Tracking Airplanes Worldwide

Iridium-satellite-artistImpression-IridiumPopular Science reports that Iridium has built 66 satellites that will be able to “continuously track airplanes’ position, speed, and altitude across the entire globe.” The company launched ten of those satellites in January, and two of them started sending back data a few weeks ago. Still, the “network won’t be operational until the end of 2018 at the earliest.” (Image: Iridium satellite constellation. Credit: Iridium)
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20 March 2017
ULA Successfully Launches Delta IV Carrying WGS-9 Military Satellite

ULA-DeltaIV-Rollout-NASAThe Daily Mail reported that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is only days away from breaking its own mission-duration mark. The Boeing-built aircraft will break its endurance record of 674 days on March 25 if it remains in orbit, but with secrecy surrounding plans for the space plane, “it’s unknown if it will hit this milestone.” The current milestone was set in October 2014. (Image Credit: USAF)
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20 March 2017
US Air Force’s X-37B Days Away From Setting Endurance Mark

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFThe Daily Mail reported that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is only days away from breaking its own mission-duration mark. The Boeing-built aircraft will break its endurance record of 674 days on March 25 if it remains in orbit, but with secrecy surrounding plans for the space plane, “it’s unknown if it will hit this milestone.” The current milestone was set in October 2014. (Image Credit: USAF)
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17 March 2017
Canada Issues New Rules For Recreational UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe Globe and Mail reports that Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau has announced new “rigorous rules,” effective immediately, governing the use of recreational UAVs. The safety restrictions forbid UAV operation within nine miles of any airport, within 75 meters of buildings, vehicles or people, at night, or near emergency scenes. Garneau, pointing to the recent increase in UAV incidents, said, “When there is a significant risk to aviation, I have the power to issue an immediate measure until new regulations can be enacted. And that is what I have done.” Garneau noted that the government plans to propose new unmanned aircraft regulations in June. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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16 March 2017
SpaceX Launches EchoStar 23 Satellite

SpaceX-Launch-Feb2017-APSPACE reports that early this morning, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the EchoStar 23 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Space Systems/Loral-built satellite is “near the limit of the booster’s capability,” and due to its weight and orbit demands SpaceX decided not to attempt a powered descent and landing of the booster. (Image: In this image from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. NASA TV via AP)
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16 March 2017
DJI Releases Study Showing UAVs Have Saved 59 Lives

DJI_Phantom4Digital Trends reports that on Tuesday, DJI released a study that found that UAVs “have rescued at least 59 people from life-threatening conditions in 18 separate incidents” since 2013. The study was based on an analysis of news reports and determined that rescues using UAVs are quickly accelerating, with 39 of the 59 occurring in 2016 and 2017. DJI notes that “professional rescue crews are just beginning to adopt” UAVs. The study included only confirmed, published reports, and “DJI suggests the actual number is much higher.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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15 March 2017
AIAA Supporting NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

HumanExpRover2016Winners_NASALive Trading News reports that on March 30, NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge will host 100 high school and college teams from across the world at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for an engineering design competition to construct human-powered rovers. The event challenges teams to design and build rovers for a race on a three-quarter-mile obstacle course. Major corporate sponsors for the challenge include The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, while “other contributors” include the AIAA Greater Huntsville Section, SAIC and Orbital ATK. (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 March 2017
US Air Force Evaluating Use Of Small UAVs For Maintenance Inspections

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsAviation International News reports that last week, the US Air Force revealed that it is evaluating the use of small UAVs for aircraft maintenance inspections and other applications. In the most recent demonstration, a new “emerging technologies combined test force” at Edwards Air Force Base demonstrated the capabilities of the 3DR Solo quadcopter in inspecting a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. UAVs could cut the time required for external inspections from an hour to several minutes. The Air Force said that the inspection demonstration and an earlier test using a UAV to calibrate telemetry antennas were both promising. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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14 March 2017
Xinhua: Boeing’s China Plant To Deliver 100 737s Per Year

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that according to the state-run Xinhua news agency, The Boeing Company plans for its new 737 completion plant in China to deliver 100 jetliners per year at full production. Citing sources from the Zhoushan aviation park where the plant will be located, Xinhua said that construction of the facility will begin at the end of this month, with the first delivery expected in 2018. As Boeing’s first 737 completion plant outside of the US, the factory will be operated in partnership with the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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13 March 2017
SpaceX Slated For Tuesday Falcon 9 Launch Following Test Fire

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASASPACE reported that SpaceX remains on track for its scheduled Tuesday launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a EchoStar 23 satellite following a successful test fire on Thursday. Previously, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that the company will not attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster following launch due to EchoStar 23’s weight and transfer altitude. The slated launch will be SpaceX’s second from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 March 2017
ULA Rocket Issue Delays Launch Of Orbital ATK Cygnus Carrying ISS Cargo

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASPACE reported that on Friday, NASA announced that the launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship scheduled for March 19 has been delayed at least two days due to a “booster hydraulic issue” found during an inspection of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The Cygnus ship is loaded with 7,600 pounds of cargo for the ISS and the launch represents Orbital ATK’s seventh ISS delivery mission for NASA using Cygnus. (Image: ULA Atlas 5 rocket launch. Credit: NASA)
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10 March 2017
US Air Force On Track To Close SpaceX Explosion Investigation Next Month

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-PurchasedBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that tourism “is going to be a real driver of our technology” in the space industry, just as entertainment has driven electronics innovations. While he announced Blue Origin’s first contract, Bezos indicated that he would continue his significant personal investment in space even as revenues start flowing to the company. He said that starting Amazon was “a lottery winning for me,” and that he is “taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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9 March 2017
Bezos: Tourism to Drive Space Technology

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that tourism “is going to be a real driver of our technology” in the space industry, just as entertainment has driven electronics innovations. While he announced Blue Origin’s first contract, Bezos indicated that he would continue his significant personal investment in space even as revenues start flowing to the company. He said that starting Amazon was “a lottery winning for me,” and that he is “taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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9 March 2017
US Air Force UAV Pilots Now Outnumber Manned Aircraft Counterparts

MQ-1-Predator-USAFInside Defense reports that on Thursday, a US Air Force official said that next month, the service plans to conclude its investigation into the September explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The Air Force has been conducting its own probe into the incident, and Commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in an email that preliminary findings concur with SpaceX’s own conclusion, released in January, that the explosion originated from a pressure vessel carrying cold helium. The Falcon 9 is one of three launch vehicles certified by the Air Force to fly Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Class missions, and SpaceX is contracted to fly the first GPS III satellite for the Air Force by next year. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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8 March 2017
Bezos Announces Blue Origin’s First Commercial Customer

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos announced that Blue Origin has signed Eutelsat Communications as its first client, marking the space company’s entrance into the commercial satellite market. Under undisclosed terms, Eutelsat “purchased one launch” on a Blue Origin New Glenn orbital rocket scheduled to launch in 2021. Bezos said that “Eutelsat was very interested right away” when Blue Origin began approaching customers several months ago. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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8 March 2017
Boeing Planning New Mid-Range Jetliner Dubbed the 797

Dreamliner-Boeing-2The Wall Street Journal reports that according to industry executives speaking Tuesday at the ISTAT (International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading) annual conference, The Boeing Company is marketing an all-new midrange commercial jet intended to fill the market range between the 737 and 787. United Continental Holdings CFO Andrew Levy said that the carrier was surprised to see that Boeing favors a twin-aisle design. Many customers had expected Boeing to opt for a single-aisle design for the concept, which Air Lease Corp. CEO Steven Udvar-Házy said that Boeing had named the 797. The plane would enter service in 2024 or 2025 if Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg decides to pursue development. (Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Boeing)
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7 March 2017
Orbital ATK Schedules Cygnus Cargo Flight to ISS for March 19

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASPACE reports that Orbital ATK “is targeting March 19” for its next Cygnus cargo flight to the ISS. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the craft is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral during a 30-minute window. The Cygnus’ 7,500 pounds of cargo includes supplies, equipment for experiments, and 38 cubesats, four of which “will deploy directly from the Cygnus craft during the flight.” Experiments include the “largest plant-growth system” ever to reach the ISS, a test examining how cancer-fighting drugs work in microgravity, and an experiment that uses “magnets to study cell cultures as they grow into 3D shapes in microgravity.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 March 2017
Boeing Releases First Images Of 737 MAX-10

Boeing737MaxAviation Week reports that on Monday at the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Americas convention in San Diego, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth unveiled the first image of the company’s proposed 737 MAX-10X jetliner and confirmed that the company has begun making firm offers to customers for the variant. Tinseth claimed that the 737-10X will have “the lowest seat costs ever for a single-aisle airplane” and would be the “most profitable single-aisle airplane the industry has ever seen.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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6 March 2017
Bezos Expected to Reveal Further Blue Origin Plans This Week

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginThe Wall Street Journal reports that according to industry officials, Amazon Chairman Jeff Bezos plans to announce this week several updates on Blue Origin. Those sources said that Bezos could disclose new initiatives, further details about the company’s reusable rockets, and, for the first time, the names of specific customers. Bezos - who is scheduled to speak at SATELLITE 2017 in Washington, DC, on Tuesday - is expected to reveal the news through a series of announcements and Twitter posts. They will follow last week’s story reported in the Washington Post - which Bezos owns - about his bid to win NASA support for cargo missions to the moon enabling a permanent lunar settlement. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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6 March 2017
SpaceX, NASA Collaborating, Not Launching New “Space Race

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAThe Los Angeles Times reports that while SpaceX founder Elon Musk last week announced plans for a 2018 lunar flyby eclipsing NASA’s timetable for its own mission, “that doesn’t mean they’ve launched a new space race.” Rather, SpaceX’s success is “validation of the public-private partnership envisioned” by the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984. Following Musk’s announcement, NASA said that it is “changing the way it does business through its commercial partnerships,” in part to “free” the agency to concentrate on deep space. American University Professor Howard McCurdy said that under the model, “NASA is at the point of a spear” in exploration, while NASA Division Director for Commercial Spaceflight Development Phil McAlister said that “moving human presence deeper into space is going to require the best of NASA and the private sector.” Credit: NASA)
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3 March 2017
Boeing Sets 737 MAX-9 Rollout For March 7

Boeing737MaxFlightGlobal reported that Boeing has scheduled the public debut of its 737 MAX-9 for March 7 in Renton, Washington, keeping the project on track for an April maiden flight and entry into service by 2018. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 March 2017
China’s Newest Combat UAV Makes Maiden Flight

ChineseDrones_AP-Images.jpgDefense News reports that on Wednesday, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) announced that its Wing Loong II, China’s latest-generation military UAV, made its maiden flight on Monday. The UAV has a 67-foot wingspan, can stay airborne for 20 hours, and can carry a payload of more than 1,000 pounds - far more than the 220-pound payload of its predecessor. “State media say the drone should become a leading export item for China,” and on its website, AVIC said that the flight “allows China to follow the U.S. in producing a new generation of integrated surveillance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles.” (Image: In this Oct. 1, 2009 file photo, a truck loaded with the Chinese made drone, the ASN-207, takes part in a military parade marking China’s 60th anniversary. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 March 2017
Prospects for Space Tourism Examined

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASA2 March 2017
On its website, USA Today features a video examining the prospects for space tourism following SpaceX’s announcement that it will send two private citizens on a flight to the moon in 2018. While SpaceX founder Elon Musk did not reveal how much the passengers will pay for the opportunity, the video states that they should “be prepared to pay a premium.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2017
NASA’s Supersonic Jet Designed to Reduce Sonic Boom.

NASA-X-PlaneUSA Today features a video about NASA’s supersonic passenger jet X-PLANE project, which “some people are calling the new Concorde.” The aircraft, which could fly people between London and New York City in three hours, is designed to be quieter than past supersonic jets and creates a sonic “heartbeat” rather than a sonic “boom.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2017
ADF Planning To “Significantly Increase” UAV Fleet

AeroVironment-Wasp-USAF-wikipediaIHS Jane’s 360 reports that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) plans “to significantly increase” the number of UAVs in its fleet. The force currently operates Textron Systems’ Shadow and IAI’s Heron, and is also evaluating AeroVironment’s Wasp, Prox Dynamics’ Black Hornet, and Schiebel’s S100 rotary-wing platform. The ADF program office has said that it intends to supply a Black Hornet system to each army section, and indicated that costs would be reduced as the volume of its purchases increases. (Image Credit: USAF via Wikipedia)
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28 February 2017
Efforts Seek To Map Space Debris Threatening Low-Orbit Commercialization

SpaceJunk-NASABloomberg News reports that the “cosmic junkyard” of space debris in low-Earth orbit “poses an existential risk” for further commercialization of space. Now, some companies are endeavoring to map the detritus to help companies avoid objects. LeoLabs announced Monday that it has opened a second radar center for tracking debris, and its CEO Dan Ceperley said that commercial space “is growing so rapidly we really have to run quickly to keep up.” The US Defense Department has acted as “the most authoritative tracker” of space debris and shares its data on 20,000 orbital objects, but Ceperley explained that a market is currently developing for richer, customized tracking. Separately, the US Air Force has contracted with Lockheed Martin for a $1 billion “Space Fence” radar system designed to track up to 200,000 objects, which is scheduled to become operational late next year. (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 February 2017
Facebook to Increase Frequency of Aquila UAV Test Flights

FacebookUAV2_YouTubeBloomberg News reports that Facebook plans to step up test flights for its experimental Aquila UAV, a solar-powered, high-altitude glider featuring “a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737.” The company conducted its first test flight of the massive UAV in June last year, during which the aircraft “suffered a ‘structural failure’ as it was coming in for landing.” At the Mobile World Congress on Monday, Facebook head of Engineering and Infrastructure Jay Parikh said, “We learned a lot, from data, to how it turned, how it handled, and the battery performance. But we need to fly a lot more and more regularly.” The UAV is part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s drive to find “new ways to connect...much of the world’s population to the internet.” (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
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27 February 2017
US Air Force Announces It Will Retire MQ-1 Predator Next Year

MQ-1-Predator-USAFUPI reported that last week, the US Air Force announced that it will retire its fleet of MQ-1 Predator UAVs in 2018 and complete its transition to an all-MQ-9 Reaper fleet. The MQ-1 has been in service for 21 years. Both systems are built by General Atomics. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt via Wikipedia)
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27 February 2017
Long-Delayed James Webb Space Telescope Nearing Launch

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASAThe Washington Post reported on the development of NASA’s long-delayed $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which still faces extensive testing and a long trip to French Guiana for a scheduled October 2018 launch before it can begin observations in April 2019 - a full quarter century after it was conceived. The instrument became known as the telescope that ate astronomy” due to its delays and cost overruns. John Mather, a Nobel laureate who is the telescope’s senior project scientist, said last week that “no one had appreciated the difficulty of the test program.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 February 2017
AIAA’s Magnus Speaks to Students About Careers In Science

Magnus-ChesterbrookElementary-23Feb2017In an online article accompanying a video of its broadcast, WJLA-TV Washington reports that to mark Engineers Week, AIAA Executive Director Sandra Magnus visited Chesterbrook Elementary School in Fairfax County on Thursday to speak with students about career options and the importance of following their dreams. Magnus, sharing her past as a NASA astronaut, said, “If you’re a young person dreaming of what your future can be you can’t dream it if you haven’t been exposed to it.” Magnus also met with a small group of female students for “Girl Day,” a celebration created to introduce girls to engineering. “ I’m hoping that they see myself and other successful women, no matter what the field, as role models and say...you can do whatever you put your mind to,” she said. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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24 February 2017
NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Stuck In Long Orbit Around Jupiter

Juno_NASAThe AP reports that NASA’s Juno spacecraft is “stuck making long laps” around Jupiter, increasing its intended 14-day orbit to 53 days. Last week, NASA decided that an issue with “sticky valves” made it too risky to conduct an engine firing that would have shortened Juno’s orbit. The agency said that the quality of data will not be affected, but it will take more time to collect, meaning the mission will need additional funding to gather the data sought. NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said that the decision “is the right thing to do — preserving a valuable asset so that Juno can continue its exciting journey of discovery."(Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
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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-©)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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21 February 2017
NASA, FAA Testing New ATC Tech In Washington State

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

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

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSPACE 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)
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16 February 2017
OSIRIS-REx Begins Search For Earth-Trojan Asteroids

OSIRIS-REx_Launches_8Sep2016_CreditNASASpaceflight 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)
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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-©)
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15 February 2017
Boeing Plans to Fly 737 MAX-9 for First Time In April

Boeing737MaxReuters 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-©)
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15 February 2017
Amazon Files Patent for Dropping Parcels from Moving UAVs

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazonBusiness 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)
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14 February 2017
Northrop Grumman Challenges Students to Develop UAV Countermeasures

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedAlabama 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-©)
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14 February 2017
Airlines Push for Privatizing Air Traffic Control

ATC-at-DullesMcClatchy 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)
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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)
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13 February 2017
Facebook Preparing to Fly Stratospheric UAV After First-Flight Incident

FacebookUAV2_YouTubeAviation 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)
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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)
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9 February 2017
SpaceX Schedules First Launch From 39A for February 18

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSPACE 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)
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9 February 2017
Atlanta Effort Could Demonstrate Usefulness of UAVs for Airports

Drone-Aircraft-Inspection-AIRBUSBusiness 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)
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8 February 2017
FAA: Number of Launch Applications In Fiscal 2016 Increased by 55 Percent

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASAFederal 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)
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8 February 2017
Airbus to Begin A320neo Final Assembly In China, US This Year

AirbusA320Neo_AP_PurchasedFlightGlobal 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_NASAReuters 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)
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6 February 2017
Amazon’s Super Bowl Ad Teases That “Prime Air” UAVs Are Coming “Soon

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

BAConcorde_WikiReuters 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)
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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_NASASPACE 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)
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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)
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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-©)
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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)
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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)
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31 January 2017
General Atomics Launches “SkyGuardian” Variant Of Predator B UAV

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

Launch Pad 39A Modified For SpaceX - NASASpaceflight 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)
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27 January 2017
GOES-16 Weather Satellite Performing Well In Tests

GOES-R-NASASpace 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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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24 January 2017
Some Say Military Could Save Money by Modifying Commercial UAVs

DJIPhantom AP PurchasedWired 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-SciTech2017Reuters 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.pngReuters 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-PurchasedUSA 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)
Full Story (2017 AIAA SciTech Forum Notebook)


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)
Full Story (2017 AIAA SciTech Forum Notebook)


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
Càrdova: 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. Càrdova, 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-NASASPACE 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-NASADefense 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_wikimediaBusiness 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)
More Info (Business Insider)


5 January 2017
Space Shuttle Veteran, Former CIA Intel Officer Selected for 2018 ISS Mission

InternationalSpaceStation_NASASPACE 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)
More Info (SPACE)


4 January 2017
NASA Awards Crew Missions to Boeing, SpaceX

Boeing_CST-100Defense 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)
More Info (Defense Daily)


3 January 2017
SpaceX Announces Its Ready to Resume Launch Operations

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiAFP 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)
More Info (AFP)


3 January 2017
NASA Delivers OMS Engine to Germany for Orion Service Module

OMS_Pod_removal-NASASpaceflight 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)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


3 January 2017
Government’s “Slow Pace” Increases Demand for Counter-UAV Technologies

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedReuters 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-©)
More Info (Reuters)


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6 April 2017
US Naval Research Laboratory Planning Swarming Tests For CICADA UAV

NRL-Developed-microUAV-USNavyIHS Jane’s 360 reports that a US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) spokesman said Wednesday that the laboratory is planning swarming tests for its palm-sized Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) MK5 from a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft, which will deploy the UAVs from a single canister. Speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, the spokesman explained that the CICADA’s self-stabilization capability using spin recovery maneuvers has been tested in a wind tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center, where NRL has delivered 150 of the UAVs. (Image Credit: US Navy)
More Info (IHS Jane’s 360)


6 April 2017
SpaceX’s Shotwell: Reused Falcon 9 Boosters To Return Increasing Savings

Falcon9Descends_Jan2016_WikimediaCommonsSpace News reports that at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Wednesday that the cost of refurbishing the recovered Falcon 9 first stage used in last week’s launch “was substantially less than half” the cost of a new booster, and that the company expects greater savings for future launches as it increases refurbishment efficiencies. “We did way more on this one than we’re doing on future ones, of course,” she explained, reiterating that the company’s goal is “to refly a rocket within 24 hours. That’s when we’ll really feel like we’ve got reusability right.” Shotwell also noted that a payload fairing - which founder Elon Musk has said costs $6 million - recovered from the launch “looked pretty good.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Space News)


5 April 2017
Roscosmos Chief Open To Extending ISS Partnership

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAReuters reports that Roscosmos General Director Igor Komarov said Tuesday that Russia is “ready to discuss” extending the international partnership supporting the ISS beyond 2024, when the program is currently slated to end. Speaking at the US Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Komarov said, “I think that we need to prolong our cooperation in low-Earth orbit because we haven’t resolved all the issues and problems that we face now.” A US House of Representatives panel that oversees NASA has begun studying whether to extend ISS funding or use that money to accelerate other human space initiatives. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


5 April 2017
ULA Reschedules Cygnus Launch For 18 April

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASpace News reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced Monday that it has rescheduled the launch of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a Cygnus spacecraft for April 18. The company said that it had formulated a plan to resolve a booster hydraulics issue that delayed the launch of the OA-7 mission, which was originally scheduled for late March. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


4 April 2017
Aviation Community Still Deadlocked Over New Flight-Data Recording Technology

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsThe Wall Street Journal reports that a dispute pitting The Boeing Company and the FAA against Airbus Group and European regulators has deadlocked implementation of new flight-data recorder technology to supplement or replace current “black boxes.” Airbus and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have indicated support for adopting deployable recorders already used in military applications, but Boeing has contended that the technology is unnecessary given the number of jetliner crashes. Last year, the FAA moved closer to supporting Boeing’s position - calling deployable recorders “redundant and economically burdensome” - as it waited to see whether the EASA would issue a mandate, which the agency has not. (Image Credit: )
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


3 April 2017
Boeing Completes Successful Maiden Flight Of 787-10

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAUSA Today reported that The Boeing Company conducted a successful maiden flight Friday of its 787-10 Dreamliner from its North Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant. Boeing currently has 149 orders for the newest and largest Dreamliner variant, and “hopes to start delivering the 787-10s to airlines in 2018.” (Image: Boeing 787-10. Credit: Boeing)
More Info (USA Today)


31 March 2017
Musk Shares Updates On Falcon Heavy

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAArs Technica reports that following SpaceX’s successful launch of a reusable Falcon 9 booster last Thursday, founder Elon Musk provided several updates on the development of the Falcon Heavy rocket. He confirmed that a demonstration launch is slated for “late summer,” but he acknowledged that completing the current manifest of Falcon 9 missions remains the company’s highest priority. “Perhaps the biggest tidbit” shared by Musk was that the company may try to recover the upper stage, which “would essentially allow SpaceX to recycle an entire rocket.” Musk tweeted, “Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot.” Musk also said that developing the Falcon Heavy has proven “crazy hard,” and, speculating what the rocket could carry on its maiden flight, said, “Silliest thing we can imagine!” (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Ars Technica)


31 March 2017
SpaceX Makes Aerospace History With Launch and Landing of Used Rocket

SpaceXFalcon9Launch_feb2017-NASAThe New York Times reports that on Thursday, SpaceX successfully “launched a commercial satellite into space” from Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket that had previously been used, “a feat that may open an era of cheaper space travel.” The company reused a Falcon 9 first stage, or booster, to power the launch, before landing the rocket on a “floating platform in the Atlantic.” The Times notes that the booster “could conceivably launch again, since it returned in one piece.” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the booster “did this mission perfectly. It dropped off the second stage, came back and landed on the drone ship, right in the bulls-eye,” adding that the accomplishment “means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Times)


30 March 2017
FAA Considering DJI’s Electronic ID Concept

DJI_Phantom4_APFox News reports that the FAA is considering UAS manufacturer DJI’s concept for an electronic ID system for small devices as a way to identify UAV operators. According to Fox News, DJI suggests that UAV operators “should use the radio equipment already on board most systems to transmit a unique registration number” and that number would ID the operator to “law enforcement in the event of a complaint or flight through a restricted area.” Fox News adds that DJI’s idea has been submitted to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which is a group responsible for collecting ideas on possible ID systems. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)


30 March 2017
Experts Warn Satellites Are Increasingly Vulnerable To Foreign Threat

GPS_Sat_NASAUSA Today reports that House lawmakers heard Wednesday from experts about “the vulnerability of U.S. commercial satellites” to foreign threats. Former US Air Force Space Command Director Gen. William Shelton, USAF (Ret.), said communications, imaging, weather, and GPS satellites are increasingly susceptible to foreign interference because many adversaries “have developed a full quiver of these methods, ranging from satellite signal jamming to outright destruction of satellites via a kill vehicle, such as that successfully tested by China in 2007.” He added that “the pace of these counterspace efforts appears to be accelerating, and the impact of the use of counterspace capabilities likely would be felt by all sectors of the space community.” According to former Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Joseph Nimmich, losing satellite capability would devastate the agency’s efforts, particularly in crises and in areas especially vulnerable to natural disaster. (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)


29 March 2017
SpaceX Preps For Historic Rocket Launch With Reused Booster Thursday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASAThe Wall Street Journal reports that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is scheduled to launch the first liquid-fueled rocket to be powered by reused engines on Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company has repurposed the Falcon 9’s lower stage engines and hopes to demonstrate that “flight-proven” engines can be reused, which they say will help facilitate inexpensive space travel. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


29 March 2017
NASA Faces Tough Choice Between ISS, SLS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAQuartz reports that NASA may have to choose between maintaining the ISS and continuing a “$23 billion and growing program to develop a huge new deep-space rocket and spacecraft to carry humans to the moon and beyond.” Former NASA and Lockheed Martin executive A. Thomas Young said in February that “about half of the current [NASA] budget is allocated to low-Earth orbit endeavors” and half to “human exploration which includes [the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket] and Orion [spacecraft],” opining that “a $4.5 billion annual budget is clearly inadequate for a credible human exploration program” and warning that “a choice must be made and made soon between [low-Earth orbit] and exploration.” Quartz notes that “the decision won’t be made this year” and “most independent experts” agree “that the budget does not meaningfully change the balance Young described between supporting the ISS and its commercial programs, and funding the deep-space exploration budget."
More Info (Quartz)


28 March 2017
DJI: UAVs Should Transmit Identifier For Security

DJI_Phantom4_APAP reports that in a paper released on Monday, DJI argued that continual transmission of an identification code by unmanned aircraft could help to address governments’ security concerns while safeguarding operators’ privacy. DJI suggested that the system could be developed using existing technology, and an attorney for the company equated the transmitted codes to license plates. Also on Monday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the agency will create an advisory committee to make recommendations regarding remote UAV tracking and to facilitate discussions on security between government agencies and the commercial UAV industry. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Associated Press)


28 March 2017
Juno Makes Fifth Close Flyby Of Jupiter

Juno_NASASPACE reports that on Monday morning, NASA’s Juno spacecraft completed its fifth close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft’s JunoCam took close-up color photos of the planet, and all eight of its science instruments were active and collecting data. NASA scientists said that they expect to publish new papers using data from the first flybys within the next four months. (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (SPACE)


27 March 2017
US Air Force’s X-37B Sets New Earth-Orbiting Record

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFFlorida Today reports that on Saturday, the US Air Force’s classified X-37B space plane surpassed its own record for the longest time spent orbiting Earth by a spacecraft, reaching 675 days, having eclipsed the 674-day mark set by its predecessor, OTV-3, in October 2014. Officials have not confirmed when the X-37B will land, but the article notes that it is expected to do so at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), which would mark the first landing at KSC since the final space shuttle landing in 2011. (Image Credit: USAF)
More Info (Florida Today)


27 March 2017
SpaceX’s First Launch Of Recovered Booster Slated For Wednesday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASAUSA Today reported that SpaceX is scheduled to conduct its first launch using a “flight proven” booster this Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center. The reusable Falcon 9 first-stage booster to be used in the launch successfully landed on a ship last April. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)


24 March 2017
Records Show FAA Has Granted 314 Special-Use Permits For UAV Flights

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedUSA Today reports that since the agency issued its new comprehensive rules for UAVs last year, the FAA has granted 314 special permits, including - with some overlap - 306 for flying at night, 11 for flying multiple UAVs at once, three for flying beyond-line-of-sight, and several for other situations. Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) CEO Brian Wynne said that the numbers show the expanding applications for UAVs, and underscore the need for the FAA to issue new regulations allowing flights in such circumstances without special permits. He claimed that doing so would benefit the economy. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (USA Today)


24 March 2017
NASA Officials Praise Funding Levels For Planetary Science

NASA-Planetary-Science-NASASpace News reports that at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference earlier this week, NASA officials praised the 16 percent increase in funding for planetary science programs proposed by the White House’s budget blueprint released last week. NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green called the $1.9 billion funding level “historic,” noting that “we’ve never had a proposed budget this high.” Green said that the agency will wait until budget details are released in May to determine and comment on timelines for specific projects. Green said little about the $100 million in cuts to the agency’s Earth science program. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


23 March 2017
NASA: Laser System Could “Revolutionize” Space Communications

LCRD-NASAPhys provides an update on NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) program, which aims to develop much higher data rates for communications between Earth and spacecraft in near-orbit and deep space. LCRD recently entered its integration and test phase and is scheduled to launch in 2019 for two to five years of testing." NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that the “technology has the potential to revolutionize space communications.” The agency is working with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the US Air Force on the project. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Phys)


23 March 2017
Southern California Aerospace Industry Could See “Major Windfall” From Defense Budget

F35-LukeAFB_USAF-WikipediaThe Los Angeles Times reports that Southern California’s defense and aerospace industry “could get a major windfall” from President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. The defense spending increase could help revitalize the industry in the region, which has seen aerospace-related jobs decline from 273,000 in 1990 to 92,000 today. According to experts, the blueprint request “would flush federal dollars to hundreds of Pentagon contractors” in Southern California, including 240 for the F-35 alone. The F-35’s fuselage is produced by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, and General Atomics produces Gray Eagle UAVs in Poway. (Image: F-35 Lightning II. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)


22 March 2017
FAA Predicts UAVs To Increase Dramatically By 2021

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APReuters reports that on Tuesday, the FAA predicted that the number of UAVs in the US “will jump dramatically over the next five years.” The agency forecast that the number of hobbyist UAVs will more than triple to 3.5 million by 2021, the number of commercial UAVs will increase almost ten-fold to 441,000, and that the number of UAV pilots will increase by a multiple of 10 to 20. The FAA attributed the difference in hobbyist and commercial UAV growth rates to “how quickly the regulatory environment will evolve, enabling more widespread routine uses of (drones) for commercial purposes.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Reuters)


22 March 2017
FAA Predicts Substantial Growth In Aviation Industry

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsAir Transport World reports that the FAA released its annual Aerospace Forecast for fiscal years 2017-2037, and forecast that the US will see a “competitive and profitable aviation industry characterized by increasing demand for air travel [with] airfares growing more slowly than inflation” over the next two decades. According to the report, the FAA projected that “traffic growth by US mainline and regional carriers will increase at an average rate of 2.4% per year,” while “passenger growth on US carriers will increase at an average 1.9% per year.” (Image Credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Air Transport World)


21 March 2017
Airlines For America Forecasts Record Number Of Fliers This Spring

AmericanAirlinesThe Washington Post reports that Airlines for America has issued its spring travel forecast, which predicts that a record 145 million travelers - a 4 percent increase from 2016 - will fly in March and April. To accommodate the expected demand, US airlines are adding 110,000 seats per day during the period. (Image Credit: Sergey Kustov via Wikipedia)
More Info (Washington Post)


21 March 2017
Iridium Builds Satellites Capable Of Continuously Tracking Airplanes Worldwide

Iridium-satellite-artistImpression-IridiumPopular Science reports that Iridium has built 66 satellites that will be able to “continuously track airplanes’ position, speed, and altitude across the entire globe.” The company launched ten of those satellites in January, and two of them started sending back data a few weeks ago. Still, the “network won’t be operational until the end of 2018 at the earliest.” (Image: Iridium satellite constellation. Credit: Iridium)
More Info (Popular Science)


20 March 2017
ULA Successfully Launches Delta IV Carrying WGS-9 Military Satellite

ULA-DeltaIV-Rollout-NASAThe Daily Mail reported that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is only days away from breaking its own mission-duration mark. The Boeing-built aircraft will break its endurance record of 674 days on March 25 if it remains in orbit, but with secrecy surrounding plans for the space plane, “it’s unknown if it will hit this milestone.” The current milestone was set in October 2014. (Image Credit: USAF)
More Info (Daily Mail)


20 March 2017
US Air Force’s X-37B Days Away From Setting Endurance Mark

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFThe Daily Mail reported that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is only days away from breaking its own mission-duration mark. The Boeing-built aircraft will break its endurance record of 674 days on March 25 if it remains in orbit, but with secrecy surrounding plans for the space plane, “it’s unknown if it will hit this milestone.” The current milestone was set in October 2014. (Image Credit: USAF)
More Info (Daily Mail)


17 March 2017
Canada Issues New Rules For Recreational UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe Globe and Mail reports that Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau has announced new “rigorous rules,” effective immediately, governing the use of recreational UAVs. The safety restrictions forbid UAV operation within nine miles of any airport, within 75 meters of buildings, vehicles or people, at night, or near emergency scenes. Garneau, pointing to the recent increase in UAV incidents, said, “When there is a significant risk to aviation, I have the power to issue an immediate measure until new regulations can be enacted. And that is what I have done.” Garneau noted that the government plans to propose new unmanned aircraft regulations in June. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Globe and Mail)


16 March 2017
SpaceX Launches EchoStar 23 Satellite

SpaceX-Launch-Feb2017-APSPACE reports that early this morning, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the EchoStar 23 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Space Systems/Loral-built satellite is “near the limit of the booster’s capability,” and due to its weight and orbit demands SpaceX decided not to attempt a powered descent and landing of the booster. (Image: In this image from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. NASA TV via AP)
More Info (SPACE)


16 March 2017
DJI Releases Study Showing UAVs Have Saved 59 Lives

DJI_Phantom4Digital Trends reports that on Tuesday, DJI released a study that found that UAVs “have rescued at least 59 people from life-threatening conditions in 18 separate incidents” since 2013. The study was based on an analysis of news reports and determined that rescues using UAVs are quickly accelerating, with 39 of the 59 occurring in 2016 and 2017. DJI notes that “professional rescue crews are just beginning to adopt” UAVs. The study included only confirmed, published reports, and “DJI suggests the actual number is much higher.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Digital Trends)


15 March 2017
AIAA Supporting NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

HumanExpRover2016Winners_NASALive Trading News reports that on March 30, NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge will host 100 high school and college teams from across the world at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for an engineering design competition to construct human-powered rovers. The event challenges teams to design and build rovers for a race on a three-quarter-mile obstacle course. Major corporate sponsors for the challenge include The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, while “other contributors” include the AIAA Greater Huntsville Section, SAIC and Orbital ATK. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Live Trading News)


15 March 2017
US Air Force Evaluating Use Of Small UAVs For Maintenance Inspections

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsAviation International News reports that last week, the US Air Force revealed that it is evaluating the use of small UAVs for aircraft maintenance inspections and other applications. In the most recent demonstration, a new “emerging technologies combined test force” at Edwards Air Force Base demonstrated the capabilities of the 3DR Solo quadcopter in inspecting a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. UAVs could cut the time required for external inspections from an hour to several minutes. The Air Force said that the inspection demonstration and an earlier test using a UAV to calibrate telemetry antennas were both promising. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Aviation International News)


14 March 2017
Xinhua: Boeing’s China Plant To Deliver 100 737s Per Year

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that according to the state-run Xinhua news agency, The Boeing Company plans for its new 737 completion plant in China to deliver 100 jetliners per year at full production. Citing sources from the Zhoushan aviation park where the plant will be located, Xinhua said that construction of the facility will begin at the end of this month, with the first delivery expected in 2018. As Boeing’s first 737 completion plant outside of the US, the factory will be operated in partnership with the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Reuters)


13 March 2017
SpaceX Slated For Tuesday Falcon 9 Launch Following Test Fire

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASASPACE reported that SpaceX remains on track for its scheduled Tuesday launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a EchoStar 23 satellite following a successful test fire on Thursday. Previously, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that the company will not attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster following launch due to EchoStar 23’s weight and transfer altitude. The slated launch will be SpaceX’s second from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


13 March 2017
ULA Rocket Issue Delays Launch Of Orbital ATK Cygnus Carrying ISS Cargo

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASPACE reported that on Friday, NASA announced that the launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship scheduled for March 19 has been delayed at least two days due to a “booster hydraulic issue” found during an inspection of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The Cygnus ship is loaded with 7,600 pounds of cargo for the ISS and the launch represents Orbital ATK’s seventh ISS delivery mission for NASA using Cygnus. (Image: ULA Atlas 5 rocket launch. Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


10 March 2017
US Air Force On Track To Close SpaceX Explosion Investigation Next Month

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-PurchasedBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that tourism “is going to be a real driver of our technology” in the space industry, just as entertainment has driven electronics innovations. While he announced Blue Origin’s first contract, Bezos indicated that he would continue his significant personal investment in space even as revenues start flowing to the company. He said that starting Amazon was “a lottery winning for me,” and that he is “taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


9 March 2017
Bezos: Tourism to Drive Space Technology

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that tourism “is going to be a real driver of our technology” in the space industry, just as entertainment has driven electronics innovations. While he announced Blue Origin’s first contract, Bezos indicated that he would continue his significant personal investment in space even as revenues start flowing to the company. He said that starting Amazon was “a lottery winning for me,” and that he is “taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


9 March 2017
US Air Force UAV Pilots Now Outnumber Manned Aircraft Counterparts

MQ-1-Predator-USAFInside Defense reports that on Thursday, a US Air Force official said that next month, the service plans to conclude its investigation into the September explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The Air Force has been conducting its own probe into the incident, and Commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in an email that preliminary findings concur with SpaceX’s own conclusion, released in January, that the explosion originated from a pressure vessel carrying cold helium. The Falcon 9 is one of three launch vehicles certified by the Air Force to fly Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Class missions, and SpaceX is contracted to fly the first GPS III satellite for the Air Force by next year. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Inside Defense)


8 March 2017
Bezos Announces Blue Origin’s First Commercial Customer

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos announced that Blue Origin has signed Eutelsat Communications as its first client, marking the space company’s entrance into the commercial satellite market. Under undisclosed terms, Eutelsat “purchased one launch” on a Blue Origin New Glenn orbital rocket scheduled to launch in 2021. Bezos said that “Eutelsat was very interested right away” when Blue Origin began approaching customers several months ago. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


8 March 2017
Boeing Planning New Mid-Range Jetliner Dubbed the 797

Dreamliner-Boeing-2The Wall Street Journal reports that according to industry executives speaking Tuesday at the ISTAT (International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading) annual conference, The Boeing Company is marketing an all-new midrange commercial jet intended to fill the market range between the 737 and 787. United Continental Holdings CFO Andrew Levy said that the carrier was surprised to see that Boeing favors a twin-aisle design. Many customers had expected Boeing to opt for a single-aisle design for the concept, which Air Lease Corp. CEO Steven Udvar-Házy said that Boeing had named the 797. The plane would enter service in 2024 or 2025 if Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg decides to pursue development. (Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


7 March 2017
Orbital ATK Schedules Cygnus Cargo Flight to ISS for March 19

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASPACE reports that Orbital ATK “is targeting March 19” for its next Cygnus cargo flight to the ISS. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the craft is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral during a 30-minute window. The Cygnus’ 7,500 pounds of cargo includes supplies, equipment for experiments, and 38 cubesats, four of which “will deploy directly from the Cygnus craft during the flight.” Experiments include the “largest plant-growth system” ever to reach the ISS, a test examining how cancer-fighting drugs work in microgravity, and an experiment that uses “magnets to study cell cultures as they grow into 3D shapes in microgravity.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


7 March 2017
Boeing Releases First Images Of 737 MAX-10

Boeing737MaxAviation Week reports that on Monday at the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Americas convention in San Diego, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth unveiled the first image of the company’s proposed 737 MAX-10X jetliner and confirmed that the company has begun making firm offers to customers for the variant. Tinseth claimed that the 737-10X will have “the lowest seat costs ever for a single-aisle airplane” and would be the “most profitable single-aisle airplane the industry has ever seen.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Aviation Week)


6 March 2017
Bezos Expected to Reveal Further Blue Origin Plans This Week

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginThe Wall Street Journal reports that according to industry officials, Amazon Chairman Jeff Bezos plans to announce this week several updates on Blue Origin. Those sources said that Bezos could disclose new initiatives, further details about the company’s reusable rockets, and, for the first time, the names of specific customers. Bezos - who is scheduled to speak at SATELLITE 2017 in Washington, DC, on Tuesday - is expected to reveal the news through a series of announcements and Twitter posts. They will follow last week’s story reported in the Washington Post - which Bezos owns - about his bid to win NASA support for cargo missions to the moon enabling a permanent lunar settlement. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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6 March 2017
SpaceX, NASA Collaborating, Not Launching New “Space Race”

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAThe Los Angeles Times reports that while SpaceX founder Elon Musk last week announced plans for a 2018 lunar flyby eclipsing NASA’s timetable for its own mission, “that doesn’t mean they’ve launched a new space race.” Rather, SpaceX’s success is “validation of the public-private partnership envisioned” by the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984. Following Musk’s announcement, NASA said that it is “changing the way it does business through its commercial partnerships,” in part to “free” the agency to concentrate on deep space. American University Professor Howard McCurdy said that under the model, “NASA is at the point of a spear” in exploration, while NASA Division Director for Commercial Spaceflight Development Phil McAlister said that “moving human presence deeper into space is going to require the best of NASA and the private sector.” Credit: NASA)
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3 March 2017
Boeing Sets 737 MAX-9 Rollout For March 7

Boeing737MaxFlightGlobal reported that Boeing has scheduled the public debut of its 737 MAX-9 for March 7 in Renton, Washington, keeping the project on track for an April maiden flight and entry into service by 2018. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 March 2017
China’s Newest Combat UAV Makes Maiden Flight

ChineseDrones_AP-Images.jpgDefense News reports that on Wednesday, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) announced that its Wing Loong II, China’s latest-generation military UAV, made its maiden flight on Monday. The UAV has a 67-foot wingspan, can stay airborne for 20 hours, and can carry a payload of more than 1,000 pounds - far more than the 220-pound payload of its predecessor. “State media say the drone should become a leading export item for China,” and on its website, AVIC said that the flight “allows China to follow the U.S. in producing a new generation of integrated surveillance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles.” (Image: In this Oct. 1, 2009 file photo, a truck loaded with the Chinese made drone, the ASN-207, takes part in a military parade marking China’s 60th anniversary. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 March 2017
Prospects for Space Tourism Examined

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASA2 March 2017
On its website, USA Today features a video examining the prospects for space tourism following SpaceX’s announcement that it will send two private citizens on a flight to the moon in 2018. While SpaceX founder Elon Musk did not reveal how much the passengers will pay for the opportunity, the video states that they should “be prepared to pay a premium.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2017
NASA’s Supersonic Jet Designed to Reduce Sonic Boom.

NASA-X-PlaneUSA Today features a video about NASA’s supersonic passenger jet X-PLANE project, which “some people are calling the new Concorde.” The aircraft, which could fly people between London and New York City in three hours, is designed to be quieter than past supersonic jets and creates a sonic “heartbeat” rather than a sonic “boom.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2017
ADF Planning To “Significantly Increase” UAV Fleet

AeroVironment-Wasp-USAF-wikipediaIHS Jane’s 360 reports that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) plans “to significantly increase” the number of UAVs in its fleet. The force currently operates Textron Systems’ Shadow and IAIs Heron, and is also evaluating AeroVironment’s Wasp, Prox Dynamics’ Black Hornet, and Schiebel’s S100 rotary-wing platform. The ADF program office has said that it intends to supply a Black Hornet system to each army section, and indicated that costs would be reduced as the volume of its purchases increases. (Image Credit: USAF via Wikipedia)
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28 February 2017
Facebook to Increase Frequency of Aquila UAV Test Flights

FacebookUAV2_YouTube Bloomberg News reports that Facebook plans to step up test flights for its experimental Aquila UAV, a solar-powered, high-altitude glider featuring “a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737.” The company conducted its first test flight of the massive UAV in June last year, during which the aircraft “suffered a ‘structural failure’ as it was coming in for landing.” At the Mobile World Congress on Monday, Facebook head of Engineering and Infrastructure Jay Parikh said, “We learned a lot, from data, to how it turned, how it handled, and the battery performance. But we need to fly a lot more and more regularly.” The UAV is part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's drive to find “new ways to connect...much of the world's population to the internet.” (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
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27 February 2017
US Air Force Announces It Will Retire MQ-1 Predator Next Year

MQ-1-Predator-USAF UPI reported that last week, the US Air Force announced that it will retire its fleet of MQ-1 Predator UAVs in 2018 and complete its transition to an all-MQ-9 Reaper fleet. The MQ-1 has been in service for 21 years. Both systems are built by General Atomics. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt via Wikipedia)
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27 February 2017
Long-Delayed James Webb Space Telescope Nearing Launch

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASAThe Washington Post reported on the development of NASA's long-delayed $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which still faces extensive testing and a long trip to French Guiana for a scheduled October 2018 launch before it can begin observations in April 2019 – a full quarter century after it was conceived. The instrument became known as the telescope that ate astronomy” due to its delays and cost overruns. John Mather, a Nobel laureate who is the telescope's senior project scientist, said last week that “no one had appreciated the difficulty of the test program.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 February 2017
AIAA's Magnus Speaks to Students About Careers In Science

Magnus-ChesterbrookElementary-23Feb2017In an online article accompanying a video of its broadcast, WJLA-TV Washington reports that to mark Engineers Week, AIAA Executive Director Sandra Magnus visited Chesterbrook Elementary School in Fairfax County on Thursday to speak with students about career options and the importance of following their dreams. Magnus, sharing her past as a NASA astronaut, said, “If you're a young person dreaming of what your future can be you can't dream it if you haven't been exposed to it.” Magnus also met with a small group of female students for “Girl Day,” a celebration created to introduce girls to engineering. “I'm hoping that they see myself and other successful women, no matter what the field, as role models and say...you can do whatever you put your mind to,” she said. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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24 February 2017
NASA's Juno Spacecraft Stuck In Long Orbit Around Jupiter

Juno_NASAThe AP reports that NASA's Juno spacecraft is “stuck making long laps” around Jupiter, increasing its intended 14-day orbit to 53 days. Last week, NASA decided that an issue with “sticky valves” made it too risky to conduct an engine firing that would have shortened Juno's orbit. The agency said that the quality of data will not be affected, but it will take more time to collect, meaning the mission will need additional funding to gather the data sought. NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said that the decision “is the right thing to do — preserving a valuable asset so that Juno can continue its exciting journey of discovery.” (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
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23 February 2017
NASA Announces Discovery of Seven Potentially-Habitable Exoplanets

TRAPPIST-1-System-NASA Fox 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–©)
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23 February 2017
Korean Air Takes Delivery of First Boeing 787-9

DDreamliner-Boeing-2 Reuters 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)
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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)
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22 February 2017
NASA Authorization Bill Calls for Study On Using Orion for ISS Missions

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

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

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

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSPACE 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)
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16 February 2017
OSIRIS-REx Begins Search For Earth-Trojan Asteroids

OSIRIS-REx_Launches_8Sep2016_CreditNASASpaceflight 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)
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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-©)
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15 February 2017
Boeing Plans to Fly 737 MAX-9 for First Time In April

Boeing737MaxReuters 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-©)
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15 February 2017
Amazon Files Patent for Dropping Parcels from Moving UAVs

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazonBusiness 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)
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14 February 2017
Northrop Grumman Challenges Students to Develop UAV Countermeasures

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedAlabama 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-©)
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14 February 2017
Airlines Push for Privatizing Air Traffic Control

ATC-at-DullesMcClatchy 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)
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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)
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13 February 2017
Facebook Preparing to Fly Stratospheric UAV After First-Flight Incident

FacebookUAV2_YouTubeAviation 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)
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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)
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9 February 2017
SpaceX Schedules First Launch From 39A for February 18

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSPACE 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)
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9 February 2017
Atlanta Effort Could Demonstrate Usefulness of UAVs for Airports

Drone-Aircraft-Inspection-AIRBUSBusiness 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)
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8 February 2017
FAA: Number of Launch Applications In Fiscal 2016 Increased by 55 Percent

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASAFederal 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)
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8 February 2017
Airbus to Begin A320neo Final Assembly In China, US This Year

AirbusA320Neo_AP_PurchasedFlightGlobal 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_NASAReuters 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)
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6 February 2017
Amazon’s Super Bowl Ad Teases That “Prime Air” UAVs Are Coming “Soon

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

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

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASASPACE 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)
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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)
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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-©)
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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)
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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)
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31 January 2017
General Atomics Launches “SkyGuardian” Variant Of Predator B UAV

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

Launch Pad 39A Modified For SpaceX - NASASpaceflight 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)
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27 January 2017
GOES-16 Weather Satellite Performing Well In Tests

GOES-R-NASASpace 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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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24 January 2017
Some Say Military Could Save Money by Modifying Commercial UAVs

DJIPhantom AP PurchasedWired 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-SciTech2017Reuters 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.pngReuters 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-PurchasedUSA 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
Càrdova: 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. Càrdova, 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-NASASPACE 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-NASADefense 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_wikimediaBusiness 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_NASASPACE 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-100Defense 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_WikiAFP 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-NASASpaceflight 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_PurchasedReuters 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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