AIAA

The World's Forum for Aerospace Leadership

  • MY AIAA
  • Donate
  • Press Room
  • Renew
  • View Cart
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

is the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

Inside This Section

  • AIAA Governance
  • ARC
  • AIAA Foundation
  • Industry Guide

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 (formerly Custom Briefings).



30 November 2016
Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao Tabbed As New Transportation Secretary

ElaineChao-WikimediaCommons.pngPresident-elect Trump on Tuesday announced the selection of Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation, noting that her “extensive record of strong leadership and her expertise are invaluable assets in our mission to rebuild our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner,” reports the Washington Post. Chao previously served as deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation under the George H.W. Bush administration, and later as Labor Secretary in the George W. Bush administration. The Post explains that Chao “is expected to play a critical role in the administration if the president-elect follows through on his campaign promise to invest $1 trillion in restoring bridges, roadways and transit systems over the next 10 years.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)


30 November 2016
Japan’s F-35 Purchase Completed In Jet’s First Foreign Military Sale

F35_Wikipedia.jpgDefense Daily reports that on Tuesday, Japan took ownership of the first F-35 aircraft to arrive at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, marking the first foreign military sale of the F-35. Also at Luke, “pilots from participating foreign militaries will train alongside US F-35 pilots.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Defense Daily)


30 November 2016
FAA: California Has Highest Number of Unauthorized UAV Incidents

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgExecutiveGov reports that the FAA “has found that California had the most...reported unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems incidents among US states from October 2015 to September 2016.” ExecutiveGov adds that “Florida, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas also topped FAA’s list of most unauthorized UAS encounters by state.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (ExecutiveGov)


29 November 2016
Aircraft Demand Jumped 94% In October

Dreamliner-Boeing-2.jpgThe AP reported that orders for big-ticket manufactured goods increased in October “by the largest amount in a year, reflecting a surge in demand for commercial airplanes.” Last month brought “the best showing since a similar advance in October 2015.” The gain “primarily reflected a 94.1 percent jump in demand for commercial airplanes, an extremely volatile category.” In addition, orders for machinery rose a slight 0.2 percent, demand for primary metals such as steel fell 0.1 percent, and orders for computers rose 6.8 percent. (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Associated Press)


29 November 2016
SpaceX Expected to Deliver Report On September’s Rocket Explosion to Federal Authorities Soon

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that SpaceX is expected to deliver its preliminary investigative report on what caused September’s Falcon 9 rocket explosion on the launch pad to federal authorities as soon as next month, according to people familiar with the matter. According to the Journal, the report will pinpoint fueling procedures that the company believes most likely caused the explosion. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


28 November 2016
Airbus A350-1000 Widebody Makes First Flight

AirbusA350-1000_WikimediaCommons.pngThe newest Airbus passenger jet, the A350-1000 widebody, made its first flight on Thursday from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France, reports USA Today . The largest twin-jet aircraft made by the France-based aircraft manufacturer, Airbus’ A350-1000 offers a range of 7,950 miles while accommodating between 366 and 440 passengers. The article reports that Airbus is utilizing lightweight carbon-fiber composite materials for the aircraft’s construction, which allows “for greater fuel efficiency and more flier-friendly features, such as larger windows [and] more-comfortable cabin humidity levels.” The article also notes that the A350-1000 is “the latest bid in an ongoing battle for sales [primarily with Boeing] in the twin-engine long-haul jet market.” (Image By Pedro Aragão - http://www.jetphotos.net/photo/8393033, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)



28 November 2016
Cassini Spacecraft to Begin “Ring-Grazing Orbits”

Cassini-NASA.pngThe Daily Mail reported that NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is preparing to begin “a series of 20 orbits high above and below Saturn’s poles,” during which it will pass through the planet’s rings, collecting samples of particles and gases. Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker said, “We’re calling this phase of the mission Cassini’s Ring-Grazing Orbits, because we’ll be skimming past the outer edge of the rings.” Cassini will use gravity from Saturn’s moon Titan to enter the new orbiting phase starting November 30, and will continue until April 2017, when it will pass through the planet’s outer F ring. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Daily Mail)



23 November 2016
BEAM Inflatable Habitat Completes Six Months In Space

BEAM_Inflated_NASA.png Ars Technica reports that NASA has provided an update on its Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) inflatable space habitat, which has completed six months in orbit. BEAM Program Manager Steve Munday said, “BEAM is the first of its kind, so we’re learning as we go, and this data will improve our structural and thermal models and analyses going forward.” He added, “Through the NASA sensor suites on board, our teams on the ground, and astronaut support on station, we’re gaining extremely valuable data about the performance of expandable structures and habitats in space.” The article notes that inflatable habitats “offer a larger volume of living and working space in orbit than” conventional, rigid habitats. The BEAM project is being implemented by Bigelow Aerospace under a $17.8 million contract. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Ars Technica)



23 November 2016
NASA Administrator: ISS Cooperation Will Remain Strong

InternationalSpaceStation_NASA.png SPACE reports that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at a press conference in Russia last weekend that he expects cooperation between Russia and the US on the ISS to remain strong in coming months, despite broader geopolitical tensions. Commenting on future missions that bring crew to the ISS, Bolden said, “We should each have a crew member on whatever vehicle is flying. ... I do not expect that you’ll find an all-American vehicle or an all-Russian vehicle ever again.” Bolden also said, “As we have demonstrated, looking at incursions by one of our partners into other countries, that has not deterred or slowed work we have done on the” ISS. He added that regarding international cooperation, “we on the International Space Station are a model for the rest of the world to follow.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)



22 November 2016
Airbus A350-1000 To Make First Flight Thursday

AirbusA350-1000_WikimediaCommons.png Aviation Week reports that Airbus expects its A350-1000 aircraft to make its initial flight on the morning of Thursday, November 24, from Toulouse Blagnac Airport. Airbus currently has a total of 195 orders for the aircraft, and is due to deliver the first batch to Qatar Airways late next year. (Image By Pedro Aragão - http://www.jetphotos.net/photo/8393033, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Aviation Week)



22 November 2016
DOT Has 60 Days to Complete UAV Rules, Actions

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg Politico Morning Transportation reports that the Obama Administration “has 60 days to wrap up DOT rules and actions on drone use, vehicle technology and other high-profile issues before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.” The article features “a full breakdown...of what the White House may try to push out the door before January 20,” and mentions that “environmental groups are bracing for Trump to take aim at fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Politico Morning Transportation)



21 November 2016
NOAA Weather Satellite GOES-R Launched Into Orbit

Atlas-V-Launch_NASA.png ABC News reported that the NOAA weather satellite GOES-R launched into space from Cape Canaveral on Saturday aboard an Atlas V rocket. The satellite’s imager “will offer three times as many channels as the existing system, four times the resolution, and five times the scan speed, said NOAA Program Director Greg Mandt.” The satellite will provide images “of the Western Hemisphere every 15 minutes and the continental United States every five minutes,” while “specific storm regions will be updated every 30 seconds.” (Image Credit: NASA / YouTube)
More Info (ABC News)



18 November 2016
NASA Releases RFI for Private Rockets and Spacecraft

Boeing_CST-100.jpg Ars Technica reports that NASA has released a request for information (RFI) that seeks ideas on how to how to maximize “the long term efficiency and sustainability” of exploration systems programs, including its Space Launch System rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and their related ground systems. The RFI specifically calls for submissions on “competing exploration services in the mid-2020s timeframe and beyond if the market demonstrates such services are available, reliable, and consistent with NASA architectural needs.” The article interprets the statement as indicating that NASA will consider purchasing privately-developed rockets and spacecraft “in lieu of SLS and Orion” in order to reduce costs, which “presently consume more than $3 billion annually” for development. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Ars Technica)



18 November 2016
Europe Launches Four Galileo Satellites Aboard Ariane 5 Rocket

Ariane5Launch-WikimediaCommons.png Reuters reports that the EU launched four Galileo satellites aboard an Ariane 5 rocket Thursday, from French Guiana, bringing its total number of Galileo satellites in orbit to 18, out of a planned 30 total. The satellites will be used as an alternative to the US’ Global Positioning System (GPS), and are due to start providing initial service “in the coming weeks.” According to launch operator Arianespace, the satellites reached an orbit of 14,900 miles above the Earth approximately four hours after launch. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



17 November 2016
Flirtey, Domino’s New Zealand Partner To Provide “Pizza-By-Drone”

Flirtey-Delivery-Drone-Dropbox.png Inc. Magazine reports that UAV company Flirtey and Domino’s New Zealand are partnering to offer “pizza-by-drone” as a way to “continually test [UAV delivery] technology in real-world scenarios.” Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeny said, “We are moving closer and closer to widespread store-to-door drone delivery. ... To conduct these deliveries in an urban environment while delivering a hot, fresh pizza is a validation of our delivery system that assures Flirtey is prepared for mass market deliveries around the globe.”(Image Credit: Flirtey Technology/Dropbox)
More Info (Inc. Magazine)



17 November 2016
NTSB: Collision Avoidance Technology Could Have Prevented Two Deadly Plane Crashes

GeneralAviationAircraft_RaleighDurhamAirport_WikimediaCommons.png CBS News reports that the “NTSB believes available collision avoidance systems could have prevented” two deadly midair collisions last year that killed seven people. CBS News adds that “by 2020, all general aviation aircraft will be required to have new technology that better communicates with air traffic control but stops short of collision avoidance warnings.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (CBS News)



16 November 2016
AeroVironment Launches Quantix UAV System

AeroVironment_Quantix_UAV_AeroVironment.png Aviation International News reports that AeroVironment unveiled its new Quantix VTOL UAV and cloud-based Decision Support System (DSS) at the Drone World Expo in San Jose, California. The Quantix UAV is equipped with four rotors, a RGB color photographic camera, and “a multispectral sensor with normalized difference vegetation index” capabilities. The aircraft is designed for applications in the “agricultural, energy and transportation markets.” (Image Credit: Aerovironment)
More Info (Aviation International News)



16 November 2016
French Astronaut to Make First Trip to Space

Pesquet_Novitskiy_Whitson_NASA-Photo.png USA Today reports that GOES-R, a new weather satellite scheduled to launch this coming weekend, is expected to provide “the best images we’ve ever seen of severe storms, blizzards, hurricanes and lightning strikes.” WeatherBell Analytics meteorologist Ryan Maue said that the satellite “will revolutionize how severe weather forecasting is done.” GOES-R was developed by Lockheed Martin and will be operated by NOAA following its launch into geosynchronous orbit, “about 22,000 miles above the equator.” The satellite will use a camera called the “Advanced Baseline Imager” for capturing high-resolution images of weather systems, as well as a “Geostationary Lightning Mapper,” which it will use to monitor lighting strikes over North America. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



15 November 2016
GOES-R Satellite Images Expected to “Revolutionize” Severe Weather Forecasting

GOES-R-NASA.png Ars Technica reports that French astronaut Thomas Pesquet will fly into space on Thursday afternoon, alongside NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy. Together they will form the crew of the ISS for the next six months. The trip will be the first visit to space for Pesquet, who commented that in Europe, “You have one chance [to visit space]. Either you’re picked the first time, or 15 years later when there’s a second time, you’re too old.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Ars Technica)



15 November 2016
Toronto Flight Takes Evasive Action to Avoid Suspected UAV

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP.jpgThe AP reports that on Monday morning, a Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 turboprop approaching Toronto’s island airport at an elevation of about 9,000 feet “took evasive action” to avoid a suspected UAV. Two flight attendants who “sustained minor injuries” were taken to a hospital and released. The pilots initially assessed the object encountered to be a balloon, but “after debriefing, they believe it was possibly a drone.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



14 November 2016
American Airlines Engine Explosion Spurs Effort to Fix Second-Stage Disk Issue

MD-80_AmericanAirlines_WikimediaCommons.pngThe Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that last month’s fire onboard an American Airlines Boeing 767 flight, caused by the breakup of the stage-two disk inside the plane’s engine, “has already spurred a scramble by engine-maker General Electric,” the FAA, and the NTSB “to find and fix the vulnerability.” The Star Tribune reports that former NTSB member John Goglia “and other industry experts said [that] the sudden breakup almost certainly stemmed from a microscopic crack, caused by a flaw in the metal invisible to the eye, that grew over years of service.” According to the Star Tribune, metallurgists at the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, DC, are currently using electron microscopes to examine the broken pieces of the disk to determine what caused it to explode. (Image Credit: Bill Abbott, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Minneapolis Star Tribune)



14 November 2016
NASA, AT&T to Research Air Traffic Management for UAVs

Ikhana-NASA.png Avionics Magazine reported that NASA and AT&T have signed an agreement to research air traffic management for UAVs, and that NASA’s Ikhana UAV “recently flew 19 missions to test and validate algorithms developed to provide advanced Detect-and-Avoid alerts” to “help determine standards for integration into the National Airspace System.” NASA and AT&T have been working with other companies on UAV “flight path monitoring, flight planning, navigation, surveillance and tracking,” focusing on the role of wireless networking. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Avionics Magazine)



10 November 2016
Satellites Launch On ULA Atlas 5 On Friday

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA.png Spaceflight Now reports that a ULA Atlas 5 rocket carrying the WorldView 4 spacecraft “into a sun-synchronous polar orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California” is scheduled to launch on Friday. The WorldView 4 “will take the highest resolution pictures in the market,” as it is capable of seeing objects “as small as 1-foot-wide.” The Atlas 5 rocket also will carry seven cubesats “to be deployed into a different orbit from the primary payload as part of a National Reconnaissance Office-sponsored rideshare mission called ENTERPRISE.”(Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)



10 November 2016
Airlines Set to Make Case to Trump, Congress On Several Key Issues

MD-80_AmericanAirlines_WikimediaCommons.png Bloomberg News reports that with Republicans set to take control of both houses of Congress and the White House, airlines are preparing “to push their case on several issues they hold dear.” These include transferring “air traffic control from the FAA to a new not-for-profit entity similar to the model used in Canada to control airspace,” curbing “further expansion in North America by a trio of Middle Eastern carriers, Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways Ltd.,” continuing development of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the possibility of “fewer rules and fees the carriers had criticized under Obama.” (Image Credit: Bill Abbott, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



9 November 2016
Clemson’s Precision-Agriculture Program Granted License to Fly UAVs

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe Greenville Journal reports that the FAA “has granted Clemson University a special license for researchers to pilot unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)...in the United States,” as the university’s precision-agriculture research program looks to “develop techniques and technologies that could improve profitability and environmental sustainability in agriculture, South Carolina’s largest industry.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Greenville Journal)



8 November 2016
Juno Mission Could Extend Beyond 2019

JunoApproachesJupiter_NASA-JPL.jpg The Verge reports that NASA’s Juno probe will stay in its 53-day orbit around the planet Jupiter longer than originally planned, due to engine problems that are delaying a shift to a shorter, two-week orbit. During engine burns in October, engineers found that “a few engine valves were taking longer to open than they were supposed to,” forcing them to cancel the change in orbit. Juno Project Manager Rick Nybakken said, “We’re not going to do [the burn] if we can’t do it safely. And so we’re looking at different ways we can do the burn. Right now, it’s too early to say which way it’s going to go.” If Juno stays in its currrent orbit, its mission “could conceivably last beyond 2019, instead of its previously scheduled end of February 2018.” (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (The Verge)



8 November 2016
AIAA Executive Director Named Missouri S&T Alumna of Influence

SandyMagnus_NationalPressClub_2_4Mar2016.pngThe Missouri University of Science & Technology reports that AIAA Executive Director and former NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus has been named a Missouri University of Science & Technology 2016 Alumna of Influence, and was honored along with nine other graduates during an event held November 5 at the University’s campus. Magnus earned the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Physics and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Missouri S&T, in 1986 and 1990, respectively.  (Image: Sandy Magnus, AIAA executive director, provides remarks on "Ensuring U.S. Leadership In Space," at the National Press Club on 4 March 2016. Credit: Frank Slazer, @FSlazer, VP, Space Systems, AIA)
More Info (Missouri University of Science & Technology)



7 November 2016
SpaceX Explosion Caused by Solidifying Oxygen During Fueling

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpgThe New York Times reported that SpaceX believes it has identified the cause of an explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket in September. According to comments made by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk during a Friday CNBC interview, as “liquid oxygen flowed into a tank on the second stage, the propellant was so cold that it froze solid, setting off a domino effect that destroyed the rocket in a succession of fireballs on the launchpad.” Musk called the finding a “really surprising problem that’s never been encountered before in the history of rocketry. ... It basically involves a combination of liquid helium, advanced carbon fiber composites and solid oxygen...oxygen so cold that it actually enters solid phase.” The article noted that the Falcon 9’s upgraded design “uses supercooled liquid oxygen at -340 degrees, 40 degrees colder than what is typically used for rocket propulsion,” in order to increase the density of the oxygen and improve engine thrust. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)



7 November 2016
Orbital ATK to Use ULA’s Atlas V for Next Cygnus Mission Launch

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA.png SPACE reported that Orbital ATK “will launch its next Cygnus mission on a [ULA] Atlas V rather than its own Antares rocket,” in order to maximize the amount of cargo delivered to the ISS. The mission will launch from Cape Canaveral in spring of 2017. Frank DeMauro, Orbital ATK Vice President of Human Space Systems in the company’s Space Systems Group, said that NASA and Orbital ATK “jointly realized that getting a little more cargo on OA-7 in the spring was in NASA’s interest. ...We jointly realized that having the highest assurance that we could meet the schedule was also in NASA’s interest.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)



4 November 2016
China Launches Long March 5 Heavy-Lift Rocket

LongMarch-6Rocket_Wiki.jpg SPACE reports that China launched its Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket Thursday morning, “bringing the nation one step closer to building its own space station in Earth orbit.” The Long March 5 is a two-stage rocket capable of carrying 25 metric tons into low Earth orbit, or 14 metric tons to geostationary transfer orbit, and is “nearly as powerful” as ULA’s Delta IV Heavy launcher. The rocket launched from Hainan Island’s Wenchang launch center at 8:43 am Beijing time, carrying an “experimental satellite called Shijian-17,” designed to test electric-propulsion technology. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info SPACE



4 November 2016
Companies Cut Costs Using UAVs, Sensors for Monitoring

Drone_Wiki.jpgThe New York Times reports on UAVs used by Sky-Futures in the energy industry to collect “high-resolution videos and images that can spot potential infrastructure problems” on sites such as offshore platform and oil rigs, costing “roughly 80 percent less than traditional inspections.” Accenture’s Richard Holsman said, “It’s easier than ever to leverage this type of data” from UAVs and sensors. “What they learned is that they can avoid failures by taking a different approach to the data they already have.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (New York Times)



3 November 2016
DHS Sees Value In Deploying UAVs at Borders

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe New York Times reports that UAV-equipped cameras at the US-Canada border “are intended to compensate for the Department of Homeland Security’s lack of personnel and other surveillance equipment to adequately patrol the longest international border in the world.” The UAVs “fill a critical gap in border security, officials with Homeland Security say,” but they have been “criticized by government auditors as costing too much...and producing too little” in terms of apprehensions and arrests, while “privacy activists say that the government may be taking video of people who are not engaged in criminal activity.” Nonetheless, “Homeland Security is seeking to increase its use of the aircraft” and “recently requested proposals from Silicon Valley companies to develop smaller drones that would be used by individual border patrol agents.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)



3 November 2016
China Could Launch Long March 5 Rocket On Thursday

LongMarch-6Rocket_Wiki.jpg Spaceflight Now reports that on Thursday, China may launch its new Long March 5, a rocket capable of lifting space station modules, deep space probes, and satellites into space. The rocket “closely matches the capacity of United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4-Heavy rocket, the largest existing rocket in the US fleet,” and marks “a leap in capability for China’s space program.” Crews rolled out the rocket on October 28, transferring it to Hainan Island’s Wenchang spaceport. Chinese aviation officials issued a notice to pilots late Tuesday that indicates that the launch could occur “as soon as Thursday at around 1000 GMT.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)



2 November 2016
Virgin Galactic Postpones SpaceShip Two Glide Test

SpaceShip2_Wiki - Copy.jpg SPACE reports that Virgin Galactic postponed glide testing for its VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo vehicle on Tuesday due to strong winds, and plans to announce a new test date soon. In the test, the VSS Unity will be “carried to drop altitude” by the VMS EVE, “and then released so that it can glide back to Earth and make a runway landing.”(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (SPACE)



2 November 2016
NASA Issues RFI On Lunar Payloads

Lunar_Payload_NASA.png The Verge reports that NASA has released a formal Request for Information (RFI) “on lunar payloads that could be launched as early as 2017,” as it “works to understand the potential role of the Moon in future exploration activities.” The article notes that the RFI is “one of the few times in years that NASA has expressed a desire to send hardware to the surface of the Moon,” and reports that the agency has been “pivoting” focus back to the moon “as a potential stepping stone for Mars.” The article also reports that Moon Express, a company that is “developing a lunar lander called the MX-1,” has announced “a new funding initiative called the Lunar Scout Program” that would “give $500,000 for each payload that is selected by NASA to fly on the first three missions of the MX-1 lander.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (The Verge)



1 November 2016
Boeing Unveils Plans for Passenger Version of Tiltrotor VTOL Aircraft

V-22_Osprey_Wiki.jpgThe Daily Mail reports that Boeing has unveiled plans “for a radical passenger version” of a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft that features “two tilt-rotors on each wing that can be positioned like helicopter blades for takeoff and landing or like propellers for flying.” A version of the aircraft is currently in use by the US military. (Image: A V-22 Osprey flies a test mission. Credit: James Haseltine, U.S. Air Force, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Daily Mail)



1 November 2016
SpaceX Makes Progress Toward Finding Cause of Falcon 9 Explosion

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpgThe AP reports that astronauts “Kate Rubins of NASA, Japan’s Takuya Onishi, and Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia” returned from the ISS to Earth onboard Russia’s Soyuz space capsule Sunday morning, landing in Kazakhstan near the city of Dzhezkazgan. The three “were removed from the capsule and sat on the steppes still in their capsule seats while they readjusted to the forces of gravity after nearly four months in weightless conditions, then were taken to a nearby medical tent for initial examination.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



31 October 2016
Three ISS Crew Return to Earth

Expedition49Returns_NASA.pngThe AP reports that astronauts “Kate Rubins of NASA, Japan’s Takuya Onishi, and Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia” returned from the ISS to Earth onboard Russia’s Soyuz space capsule Sunday morning, landing in Kazakhstan near the city of Dzhezkazgan. The three “were removed from the capsule and sat on the steppes still in their capsule seats while they readjusted to the forces of gravity after nearly four months in weightless conditions, then were taken to a nearby medical tent for initial examination.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



26 October 2016
Safran Delivers Leap-1A Engines to Airbus

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.png Flightglobal reports that Safran has delivered “more than 40 CFM International Leap-1A engines” to Airbus, including 22 within the third quarter. According to Safran, “Entry into service [at Pegasus] was smooth, and aircraft in the fleet are regularly reaching 10 cycles per day.” Flight testing for Leap-1B-fitted Boeing 737 Max aircraft is planned for early next year, while the first flight of the Leap-1C-fitted Comac C919 is planned to occur “before year-end.” (Image Credit: Don-vip via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Flightglobal)



26 October 2016
Investigation Into SpaceX Explosion Focused On Second Stage Liquid Oxygen Tank

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpg Wired reports that the focus of the investigation into September’s SpaceX Falcon 9 explosion has been mainly on the second stage liquid oxygen tank, which some believe may have played a role in the incident. However, SpaceX has made little comment on the tank, referring reporters to an earlier statement it made in which it said that “a preliminary review of the data and debris suggests that a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank took place” and that “the cause of the potential breach remains unknown.” Wired adds that “NASA officials in Washington referred questions to the FAA’s Office of Commercial Spaceflight” and “the FAA spokesman for that office did not answer questions regarding the probe,” which “means experts and amateurs in the space-interested public can only speculate.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wired)



25 October 2016
NASA Testing UAVs Capable of Controlling Air Traffic

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP.jpg Business Insider reports that NASA recently has conducted tests on UAVs as part of a larger research project led by the agency and the FAA to develop an unmanned air traffic control system. The tests, which were conducted in Reno, Nevada, “were designed to see whether a mapping alert platform could track drones in real time, report flight paths, and alert the drones of unanticipated hazards.” Business Insider adds that the tests, according to NASA, “represented the first instance of drones flying beyond the line of sight of the operator while also being tracked by NASA’s drone platform.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Business Insider)



25 October 2016
National Geographic Produces Show On Future Mars Mission Technology

NASAonMars_CreditNASA.png Daily Mail reports that National Geographic has produced a documentary miniseries on space travel technology that “mixes interviews with experts with scripted elements showing the first crew arriving” on Mars. Director Ron Howard said, “It is a tremendous opportunity for us and one that we’re pouring all of our energy behind, and hoping to help be the innovators of something really original and dynamic for television.” Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Andy Weir are among the experts interviewed for the show. (Image: Artist's concept of a human mission on the surface of Mars – 1989 painting by Les Bossinas of Lewis Research Center for NASA. Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Daily Mail)



24 October 2016
Source: Investigators Believe Fueling Issue Caused SpaceX Explosion

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that, according to unidentified sources, investigators believe that a fueling issue, not a manufacturing one, likely caused SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to explode during ground tests last month. The Journal adds that if investigators reach that conclusion once the investigation is complete, SpaceX will be able to avoid having to redesign the rocket or put it through extensive quality-control checks before being able to resume Falcon 9 flights. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



24 October 2016
Gulfstream to Cease G450 Production In 2018

GulfstreamG450_Wiki.png Aviation International News reported that Gulfstream Aerospace “announced that it will cease production of the G450 as it prepares for service entry of its new fly-by-wire G500 in early 2018.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Aviation International News)



21 October 2016
Australian Company Looks to Make UAVs as Common as Delivery Trucks

DroneDeliveryTest1_France_AP.jpg Oil Price reports that Australian UAV delivery company Flirtey is the first company to get approval from the FAA for delivery service. The article notes that “Google and Amazon are still in earlier phases of their drone testing and won’t be making deliveries nearly as soon, especially in the United States.” The development of UAV deliveries is a concern for traditional shipping companies. The article explains, “Successfully creating a new logistics system would render UPS and FedEx useless.” The article adds that Flirtey hopes that its UAVs can become “as common as delivery trucks within the next several years.” (Image: A DPD Geopost prototype drone flies carrying a parcel during a test flight in Pourrieres, southern France, June 23, 2015. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Oil Price)



21 October 2016
NRO Open to Reusable Rockets

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOrigin.png Defense Daily reports that “the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is open to flying payloads on reusable rockets in the future, though it is unsure exactly how that will unfold, presumably because the technology is in its infancy.” NRO Director for Signals Intelligence Systems Acquisition Tina Harrington recently said “there would be a risk calculation to assess where reusable rockets might work with certain classes of NRO payloads.” At the Hosted Payload and Small Satellite Summit in Washington, DC, “Harrington said she toured Space Exploration Technologies Corp. this summer and looked at where it was going with reusable rockets.” Defense Daily reports that Harrington “said the agency is either now working with folks it has never worked with before, or it is working with familiar faces, but in unfamiliar roles.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
More Info (Defense Daily)



20 October 2016
UAV Traffic Management System Undergoes Second Stage of Testing Wednesday

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP.jpg USA Today reports that NASA, the University of Nevada, and Reno’s NUANCE Lab partnered to hold the second stage of testing Wednesday at the Reno-Stead Airport “for an air traffic management system designed to coordinate multiple drones flown by different operators.” USA Today adds that “Nevada is one of six official sites designated by the Federal Aviation Administration for testing unmanned aerial systems.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



20 October 2016
Musk: September SpaceX Explosion Likely an Accident

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpgThe Daily Caller reports that Elon Musk has backed away from speculation that SpaceX’s September 1 explosion might have been caused by sabotage, telling National Reconnaissance Office representatives in a meeting that the accident might have been caused by “‘formation of solid oxygen in the carbon over-wrap of one of the (helium) bottles in the upper stage tanks,’ according to an excerpt of Musk’s remarks.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Daily Caller)



19 October 2016
USPS Study: Amazon Most-Trusted Company for UAV Deliveries

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazon.jpg ConsumerAffairs reported that a new study conducted by the Inspector General at the US Postal Service suggests that “Americans like the idea of one-hour delivery but are concerned about the stability and safety of autonomous deliveries.” Amazon was found to be “the most trusted brand for making drone deliveries,” the study showed, “while Google was ranked as the least trusted,” with UPS, FedEx, and the US Postal Service coming in second, third, and fourth, respectively. The story further pointed out that current FAA regulations mean UAV deliveries are “still theoretical” until the line-of-sight rule is phased out. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Air)
More Info (Consumer Affairs)



19 October 2016
US Air Force, Navy Begin Preliminary Planning for Successor to F-35

F35_Wikipedia.jpg MSN reports that “just as the F-35 is getting up to speed, the [US] Air Force and Navy have begun preliminary planning for a long-term successor to the single seat F-35 jet fighter – one that includes futuristic features that once seemed out of reach.” MSN reports that even though the Air Force hasn’t yet identified a platform for the new aircraft, Navy officials say that its “new aircraft will at least partly replace the existing inventory of F/A-18 Super Hornets, which will be retired beginning in 2035.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (MSN)



18 October 2016
Antares Launches Cygnus from Wallops

Antares_launches_17Oct2016_NASA.png NASA reports that Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket successfully lifted off Monday at 7:45 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia, launching the company’s Cygnus spacecraft, loaded with 5,100 pounds of cargo, for the International Space Station (ISS). Cygnus is due to arrive at the ISS on Sunday, 23 October. This is the first flight on the upgraded Antares 230 launch vehicle, and the first launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility since 2014 when an Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft exploded on the launch pad just seconds after launch. Said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: “It’s great to see launches to the International Space Station happening again from the Virginia coast – and it shows what can be accomplish with a close partnership of federal and state agencies, along with the U.S. industry, all working together.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (NASA Press Release)



18 October 2016
NASA to Test Air Traffic Control System for UAVs, Manned Aircraft

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP.jpgThe Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that a NASA team will, for a week, conduct tests at Reno-Stead Airport on “an air traffic control system it is developing for both drones and manned aircraft.” NASA Ames Research Center Senior Technologist for Air Transportation Systems Parimal Kopardekar, “principal investigator for the agency’s unmanned aerial systems traffic management program, said the system will be put to the test with multiple beyond visual line of sight operations at the same time.” Tom Wilzcek, aerospace and defense specialist with Arizona Governor Brian Sandoval’s office, said, “We hope to leverage the fact that this is where this was tested to this is where we want the commercial applications to be used.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Las Vegas Review-Journal)



18 October 2016
Engine Glitch Delays Juno’s Engine Burn

JunoApproachesJupiter_NASA-JPL.jpgThe Washington Post reports that NASA’s Juno spacecraft, currently orbiting Jupiter, may have engine issues, delaying the next phase of its mission. NASA said that a set of valves “took several minutes” to open instead of a few seconds. Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, added in a statement, “We need to better understand this issue before moving forward with a burn of the main engine.” NASA scientists hope the time until a planned orbital adjustment on December 11 will allow them to make sure the “engine burn – the first firing of the main engine – won’t cause any long-term failures.” (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (Washington Post)



17 October 2016
Launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares Rocket Delayed 24 Hours

Antares_WallopsLaunch_Wiki.png Space News reported that the previously scheduled Sunday evening launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus cargo spacecraft from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was delayed until Monday, Oct. 17 at 7:40 p.m. EDT due to a problem with ground support equipment. Orbital ATK said Sunday afternoon that “a problem with a ground support equipment cable had forced them to delay the launch,” clarifying there are no problems with the Antares rocket nor the Cygnus spacecraft. The company said in a statement, “We have spares on hand and rework procedures are in process.” This will be first flight of the Antares since an October 2014 mission that “suffered an engine failure seconds after liftoff, causing the vehicle to fall back to the ground and explode,” causing $15 million in damage to the launch site.  (Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Space News)



17 October 2016
NASA Testing First UAVs Flying Beyond-Line-Of-Sight Wednesday

Antares_WallopsLaunch_Wiki.png Avionics Magazine reported that NASA will test the first UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research platform “to fly beyond-line-of-sight on Oct. 19, at Reno-Stead Airport in Reno, Nevada.” The test will consist of five UAVs flying “beyond the line-of-sight of their operators in order to test the planning, tracking and alerting capabilities of NASA’s UTM platform – what it sees as a critical step in the development of the technology and procedures for the safe management of drone air traffic.” NASA, in collaboration with the FAA, will review data collected from the test to refine its research. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Avionics Magazine)



17 October 2016
UK to Study What Would Happen If a UAV, Plane Collide

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP.jpgThe Daily Mail reports that the UK’s Department for Transport, Civil Aviation Authority, and the Ministry of Defense have “committed more than £250,000 to pay for a private study of what would happen if a drone struck a window or the fuselage of a plane.” The Daily Mail adds that the “secretive tests” will be carried out by Qinetiq. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Daily Mail)



14 October 2016
NASA Testing Blended Wing Body Aircraft Design

BlendedWing_NASA.jpgThe Daily Mail (10/13) reports that NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia is testing a scale version of the ‘Blended Wing Body’ (BWB) aircraft that NASA and Boeing are developing. In such a design, “the wing blends seamlessly into the body of the aircraft, which makes it extremely aerodynamic and creates dramatic cuts in fuel consumption, noise and emissions.” In the Langley subsonic tunnel, researchers map “the flow of air over the aircraft using lasers and smoke with a technique known as particle imagery velocimetry (PIV).” Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Daily Mail)



14 October 2016
NASA Testing Orion Capsule

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASA.jpgThe Daily Mail reports that NASA Glenn’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, recently completed a series of tests on a full-size test version of the Orion capsule’s service module “to verify that it can withstand the vibrations it will experience when it launches and travels into space atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.” The module’s testing was done using a mechanical vibration table. The next tests will involve “pyrotechnics to simulate the shocks the service module will experience as Orion separates from the SLS rocket.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Daily Mail)



13 October 2016
USPS Survey Reveals That Americans Are Wary of UAV Deliveries

DroneDeliveryTest1_France_AP.jpgThe Washington Post reports that a survey published by the US Postal Service (USPS) on Tuesday found that 57 percent of people are either neutral or feel negatively about the prospect of UAV delivery. The survey also found that 75 percent of people think UAV delivery technology is five years away, while the rest believe it will take longer. The article adds that the survey’s findings suggest, “No matter if you’re Amazon, Google or UPS, rolling out drone delivery would result in customers thinking less of your company.” Therefore, the article concludes that if companies really hope to make UAV deliveries successful, they “need to convince consumers that it will actually improve their lives – or suffer a blow to their reputation.” (Image: A DPD Geopost prototype drone flies carrying a parcel during a test flight in Pourrieres, southern France, June 23, 2015. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Washington Post)



13 October 2016
Elytron Aerospace Designing VTOL Fixed-Wing Plane

ElytronAerospace_VTOL-Aircraft.pngThe Daily Mail reports that “Elytron Aerospace is designing a fixed-wing aircraft which can take off and land vertically like a helicopter, while maintaining the speed and efficiency of planes.” One pair of fixed wings is mounted at the front, another at the back, “eliminating interference with the thrust of the” rotating, central wing. (Image Credit: Elytron Aerospace)
More Info (Daily Mail)



12 October 2016
Airlines Increasingly at Risk from Cyberattacks as They Digitize

MD-80_AmericanAirlines_WikimediaCommons.png Fast Company reports that major airlines will face increasing cybersecurity risks as they continue to digitize. PricewaterhouseCoopers Partner Mickey Roach said, “We don’t have a lot [of hacker attempts] in the airline systems yet where they’ve been successful,” but he added, “We know that they’re trying.” According to the article, a report last year by the Government Accountability Office “issued a general warning that increasingly connected systems on planes could boost the possibility of cyberattacks or malware.” Fast Company reports that hackers can possibly cause disruptions not only to in-flight systems, but also ticket systems, maintenance tracking systems, systems that track flight crews, or even access to customers’ frequent-flyer accounts. (Image Credit: Bill Abbott, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Fast Company)



12 October 2016
NASA to Allow Private Companies to Dock Habitat Modules to ISS

BEAM_Inflated_NASA.png The Verge reports that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has announced an initiative that will allow private companies to dock space habitat modules to the International Space Station (ISS), in a move aimed at fostering innovation and providing companies the opportunity to gain experience working and researching in space. The article notes that the initiative also will “presumably help jumpstart the space station’s transition from a state-run project to one helmed by the private sector.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (The Verge)



11 October 2016
Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Marks 500 Days In Orbit

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAF.jpg SPACE reports that the US Air Force’s X-37B unmanned space plane has marked 500 days in low Earth orbit since its launch on May 20, 2015 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The X-37B was developed by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems for the Air Force’s Orbital Test Vehicle-4 (OTV-4) mission. The aim of the mission has not been disclosed, though it is known that the aircraft carries “a NASA advanced materials investigation, as well as an experimental propulsion system developed by the Air Force.” Air Force Deputy Undersecretary for Space Winston Beauchamp said the space plane “remains a very useful way to test out things.” (Image Credit: USAF)
More Info (SPACE)



11 October 2016
Schiaparelli Spacecraft to Land On Mars October 19

ATK_Pegasus_Wiki.png SPACE reports that the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Schiaparelli spacecraft is expected to land in the Meridiani Planum region of the planet Mars on October 19 as part of the ESA’s ExoMars Mission. The Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli lander were launched on March 14, and should separate on Sunday October 16, after which the lander will descend to the planet’s surface while the Orbiter will remain in orbit to study the planet’s atmosphere. From the surface, Schiaparelli “will study Mars’ wind speed and direction, humidity, pressure, air temperature and more,” in order to “pave the way for the life-hunting ExoMars rover, scheduled to launch in 2018.” (Image Credit: ESA/ATG medialab via Wikimedia Commons. WP:NFCC#4, Fair use)
More Info (SPACE)



7 October 2016
Stratolaunch to Use Orbital ATK Pegasus XL Rockets for Airborne Launch System

ATK_Pegasus_Wiki.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that Verizon announced Thursday that it intends to connect UAVs to its wireless network through plans that will start at $25 a month for 1 gigabyte of data, enabling them to stream video and images while in flight. Verizon said the service would support UAV applications such as infrastructure inspection and precision agriculture, and eventually could enable piloting of UAVs beyond the visual line of sight. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



6 October 2016
Verizon Developing Data Plans for UAVs

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Verizon announced Thursday that it intends to connect UAVs to its wireless network through plans that will start at $25 a month for 1 gigabyte of data, enabling them to stream video and images while in flight. Verizon said the service would support UAV applications such as infrastructure inspection and precision agriculture, and eventually could enable piloting of UAVs beyond the visual line of sight. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



5 October 2016
Antares Launch Date Now Scheduled for October 13

Antares_WallopsLaunch_Wiki.pngThe Washington Post reports that the $8.7 billion James Webb Space Telescope, under construction at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, is nearing completion and is scheduled to launch from French Guiana in 2018. According to the article, once in orbit around the sun, the telescope will “enable scientists to peer into the oldest, farthest reaches of the universe and search for signs of life on distant planets.” The telescope’s design uses a set of 18 gold-coated mirrors to detect light, which is analyzed and recorded by the telescope’s instruments. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Washington Post)



5 October 2016
Webb Space Telescope Nears Completion

HubbleSpaceTelescope_CreditNASA.jpgThe Washington Post reports that the $8.7 billion James Webb Space Telescope, under construction at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, is nearing completion and is scheduled to launch from French Guiana in 2018. According to the article, once in orbit around the sun, the telescope will “enable scientists to peer into the oldest, farthest reaches of the universe and search for signs of life on distant planets.” The telescope’s design uses a set of 18 gold-coated mirrors to detect light, which is analyzed and recorded by the telescope’s instruments. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Washington Post)



4 October 2016
IBM, Aerialtronics to Use UAVs for Inspection Services

Drone_Wiki.jpg Fast Company reports that IBM has partnered with Dutch UAV maker Aerialtronics to create an airborne inspection service that will use UAVs to inspect cellphone towers. Fast Company adds that the UAVs will use “Watson’s visual recognition APIs” to help identify problems and alert a company’s maintenance team to them. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Fast Company)



4 October 2016
NBC News Analysis: Satellites May Be Next Cybersecurity Battleground

GPS_Sat_NASA.png NBC News analyzes the possibility that space may be the next cybersecurity battleground. Jeff Matthews, director of venture strategy and research at the Space Frontier Foundation, said, “Space allows for some very unique business-use cases and opportunities,” but “we have to be very aware about the information security side up in space and down here.” NBC News notes that many of the “mundane...things we rely on, from GPS to making a credit card transaction,” could be affected if hackers targeted satellites. Chatham House recently released a report on space cybersecurity, saying the issue has “remained largely unrecognized as a potentially significant vulnerability.” The report recommends the creation of a “international space and cybersecurity regime” to defend space structures from cyberattack. (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (NBC News)



3 October 2016
Rosetta Collides with Comet 67P, Completing Mission

Rosetta_NASA_JPL.jpg USA Today, with the loss of signal having been confirmed by Rosetta Operations Manager Sylvain Lodiot, approximately 40 minutes after impact. Bonnie Buratti, NASA Rosetta project scientist, said, “It’s almost like watching a human being passing away.” Christopher Carr of Britain’s Imperial College London added, “The spacecraft and instruments operated exactly as expected right up to the end of the mission. ... We’re all quite emotional here at the control center.” Rosetta was able to relay images from 16 feet above the comet’s surface, captured moments before impact. The AP posted a timeline of Rosetta’s mission from its launch in 2004 until its collision with the comet Friday. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
More Info (USA Today)



30 September 2016
Marine Corps Plans to Add Quadcopter UAV to Every USMC Squad

USSoldier_Deploys_BackHornetUAV.jpgSpeaking at the Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, Virginia, on Wednesday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said, “At the end of next year, my goal is every deployed Marine infantry squad has got their own quad copter,” reports the Marine Corps Times . While a supplier of the UAV has not yet been named, the Marines have tested Prox Dynamics’ Black Hornet that has a range of one mile beyond line of visual sight, relies on GPS navigation, and “provides live stream video and still pictures in HD quality back to the operator,” according to Arne Skjaerpe, general manager of Prox Dynamics. (Image Credit: Prox Dynamics)
More Info (Marine Corps Times)



30 September 2016
Blue Origin Schedules New Shepard Abort Test for October 4

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOrigin.pngAbort system testing on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft has been set for October 4, reports Space News . Testing will include firing of the vehicle crew capsule’s abort motor, “sending [the capsule] away from the propulsion module,” and allowing it to parachute back to the ground “similar to that on a normal flight.” Although the rocket “was never designed to survive an in-flight escape,” according to Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, “some chance” still exists that it could survive an abort. Bezos noted that if it does, “we will in fact reward it for its service with a retirement party and put it in a museum.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
More Info (Space News)



29 September 2016
NASA TV to Air Rosetta Touchdown On Comet Friday

Rosetta_Spacecraft_JPL-NASA.png PRNewswire reports that the controlled descent of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is scheduled to be aired via NASA TV Friday at approximately 7:20 a.m., followed by live interviews with NASA scientists and engineers assigned to the Rosetta mission. (Image Credit: JPL-NASA)
More Info (PRNewswire)



29 September 2016
Avianca Working on Autonomous UAV for Aircraft Inspections

Drone-Aircraft-Inspection-AIRBUS.pngLatin American airline Avianca is currently in the process of developing an autonomous quad-rotor UAV to be used for inspections of grounded aircraft, reports Flightglobal . Featuring rotors covered in protective material, the quadcopter will be equipped with a GoPro camera to help inspect for damage. Avianca is also working on the development of a system that can create a three-dimensional view of the UAV’s environment, allowing it to navigate around the aircraft autonomously. (Image Credit: Airbus)
More Info (Flightglobal)



28 September 2016
Musk Gives Keynote on Mars Mission at IAC

ElonMusk.pngDuring a keynote address at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), SpaceX founder Elon Musk talked about “engineering details, optimistic timelines,” and presented a video that covered SpaceX’s plans to send a manned mission to Mars, reports the New York Times . In his remarks, Musk noted that rocket development will cost approximately $10 billion, and that first launch may take place as soon as 2024. (Image Credit: AIAA)
More Info (New York Times)



28 September 2016
Mavic Pro UAV with Foldable Rotors Unveiled by DJI

DJI_Phantom4_AP.pngWriting in a blogpost for The Verge , Ben Popper reports on DJI’s unveiling of its Mavic Pro UAV on Tuesday.  “About half the size and weight” of the Phantom, the UAV features foldable rotors that allows it to easily fit “into a backpack or even a purse.”  With a top speed of 40 miles per hour, the Mavic is capable of capturing 4K video at 30 frames per second and 1080 p HD video at 96 frames per second. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (The Verge)



27 September 2016
PwC Report Highlights Savings In Security Applications Through Use of UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Madison Capital Times highlights a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report that analyzes various commercial applications for UAVs within the security field. The report “highlights the advantage drones have in providing advanced electronics, sensors, and videos to tasks that are primarily done by humans today,” while noting that UAVs can monitor security fences “better and more efficiently” than humans are capable of. The article names Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s Insitu, and Aerovironment as major participants in the UAV market. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)



27 September 2016
SpaceX Test Fires Raptor Engine

Raptor_Engine_Test_CreditSpaceX.pngElon Musk said via Twitter Sunday evening that SpaceX has “achieved first firing of the Raptor interplanetary transport engine,” intended to serve as a spacecraft’s propulsion system on a manned mission to Mars, reports the Los Angeles Times . The engine is fueled by methane and liquid oxygen. Musk tweeted the announcement just ahead of his scheduled remarks at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), taking place this week in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)



26 September 2016
Fellowship Honors Trailblazer Taken Too Soon

BrookOwens.pngBrooke Owens died of cancer in June at 35. Over her short career, she worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center; the XPrize Foundation; the White House Office of Management and Budget and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Owens was “intelligent, professional, kind and warm-hearted,” says Virgin Galactic’s Will Pomerantz. (Image: Brooke Owens. Credit: www.brookeowensfellowship.org)
Full Story (Aerospace America)



26 September 2016
SpaceX Determines “Large Breach” In Helium System Caused Falcon 9 Launchpad Explosion

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpgSpaceX announced Friday that the September 1 explosion of one of its Falcon 9 rockets on the Launchpad at Cape Canaveral, was likely caused by a “a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank,” although the cause of the breach has yet to be determined, reports Forbes. The article mentions that a similar explosion occurred to a Falcon 9 in June 2015, also caused by a failure in the second stage liquid oxygen tank, which was determined to be caused by a “faulty strut” that forced pressure in the tank to increase. A SpaceX press release stated that “through the fault tree and data review process,” the chances that the September 1 incident occurred in the same way have been eliminated. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Forbes)



23 September 2016
Bell Helicopter Unveils V-247 “Vigilant” Tiltrotor UAV

BellHelicopter-V247-Vigilant-TiltrotorUAV.pngOn Thursday, Bell Helicopter unveiled a model of its V-247 “Vigilant” unmanned tiltrotor aircraft at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, reports Defense News . The article notes that the timing of the unveiling could be advantageous to Bell as the US military is seeking “unmanned aircraft that are runway-independent, less expensive to operate, offer more persistence, and require less space to store and transport.” Vince Tobin, Bell Helicopter vice president of Tiltrotor Systems, said that the company is currently focusing on the US Marine Corps as they are close to initiating a formal requirement. Per a company press release, the Vigilant fulfills “the comprehensive spectrum of capabilities outlined in the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan.” (Image Credit: Bell Helicopter)
More Info (Defense News)



22 September 2016
Senate Committee Authorizes Funding for NASA’s Mars Mission Efforts

NASAonMars_CreditNASA.pngOn Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed a bill authorizing $19.5 billion for NASA to continue work on a future Mars mission, as well as efforts to transport astronauts on commercial rockets to the International Space Station from the US, reports USA Today . Members of the committee offered their support for the bipartisan bill, stating it is their hope “to protect long-standing priorities of the nation’s space program from the potential upheaval of an incoming administration.” According to the bill, NASA’s official goal will be to launch a crewed mission to Mars within the next 25 years. While it is unclear when the NASA funding bill will arrive on the floor of the full Senate, it is expected to pass once it does. (Image: Artist's concept of a human mission on the surface of Mars – 1989 painting by Les Bossinas of Lewis Research Center for NASA. Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)



21 September 2016
DARPA Project Develops Hacker-Proof Code for UAVs

MQ-1_Predator.jpg Quanta Magazine , DARPA’s High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) project team has developed “hacker-proof” code to help protect unmanned systess. The code was able to defeat a “’Red Team’ of hackers” who were tasked with breaching the computer system of the “Little Bird” – an unmanned military helicopter built by Boeing. (Image Credit: Wikipedia / U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt)
More Info (Quanta Magazine)



21 September 2016
US Air Force, Aurora Flight Sciences Considering Applications for Orion UAV

OrionUAV-CreditAuroa.png Aviation Week reports on Aurora Flight Sciences CTO Tom Clancy, who recently spoke at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space, and Cyber Conference, where he announced that the US Air Force, along with Aurora, “are looking at maritime patrol applications for Orion, both domestic and international.” Clancy added that they’re “looking at ground surveillance and maritime domain awareness,” which are missions they’re “very interested in.” (Image Credit: Aurora Flight Sciences)
More Info (Aviation Week)



19 September 2016
Innovation and Diversity Propel Space Industry Forward

WandaAustin-SPACE2016.pngTo ensure the success of the space industry, it must embrace an inclusive vision for the future along with effective leadership, innovation and diversity, according to Wanda A. Austin, president and CEO of The Aerospace Corp. Austin spoke as this year’s honoree of the Yvonne C. Brill Lecture in Aerospace Engineering in a lecture titled “Engineering Leadership: The Need for Technical Excellence and Diversity” on Sept. 15 at AIAA SPACE 2016 in Long Beach, California. (Image Credit: AIAA)
More Info (AIAA SPACE 2016 Forum Notebook)



19 September 2016
Going Forward in Space Together

LarryJames_SPACE2016.pngAs global interest in the use and exploration for space grows, international cooperation and coordination are becoming more and more important, according to a panel of experts speaking Sept. 15 at AIAA SPACE 2016 in Long Beach, California. Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Larry James, deputy director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, kicked off the “Global Perspectives” forum by pointing out that activity in space is growing increasingly private and commercial in nature. He said the space budgets of the United States and all other space-faring nations combined only account for 28 percent of the total global expenditures on space exploration and use. (Image Credit: AIAA)
More Info (AIAA SPACE 2016 Forum Notebook)



19 September 2016
Humans Aren’t Yet on Mars, but Small Steps Are Happening Now

NextStopMarsPanel_SPACE2016.pngMany of the smaller pieces needed to eventually achieve the goal of landing humans on Mars are already in progress. “There are probably more human spaceflight vehicles in development than there ever have been in one time, and a lot of them are pointed to Mars,” said Frank Morring Jr., senior editor for space with Aviation Week and Space Technology, kicking off the “Next Stop Mars” panel Sept. 15 at AIAA SPACE 2016 in Long Beach, California. (Image Credit: AIAA)
More Info (AIAA SPACE 2016 Forum Notebook)



15 September 2016
Despite Challenges and Limitations, Reusability Is Key to Growing Space

Launch2020Panel_SPACE2016.pngStrong incentive exists for private industry to master launch reusability and open up commercial space opportunities, and collaboration will be key to overcoming many of the challenges and limitations, experts from the world’s leading commercial space launch companies said during the “Launch 2020” forum Sept. 13 at AIAA SPACE 2016 in Long Beach, California. “Space 2.0 is the new gold rush of space,” said John Steinmeyer, director of business development for Orbital ATK’s Launch Vehicle Division, referring to the idea that the main impetus for much of today’s space activity and growth no longer comes from the U.S. government, but instead from the commercial sector. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Launch 2020," on Tuesday, 13 September, at AIAA SPACE 2016, taking place 13–16 September 2016, in Long Beach, CA. Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AIAA SPACE 2016 Forum Notebook)



15 September 2016
Juno Mission Explores the Solar System’s Largest Planet

RickNybakken_SPACE2016.pngWhat happens when you set out to explore Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet — with the solar system’s largest magnetic field and fiercest radiation? Good things, according to Rick Nybakken, project manager of the Juno mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. During the William H. Pickering Lecture titled “The Juno Mission” on Sept. 14 at AIAA SPACE 2016 in Long Beach, California, Nybakken took audience members through the entire Juno program, from inception to the current status of the mission, and shared some amazing video and images collected so far. (Image: Rick Nybakken, project manager, Juno mission, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, delivers The William H. Pickering Lecture, "The Juno Mission," on the evening of 14 September, at AIAA SPACE 2016, taking place 13–16 September 2016, in Long Beach, CA. Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AIAA SPACE 2016 Forum Notebook)



14 September 2016
SpaceX Explosion Investigation Could Lead to Safer Astronaut Taxis

CommercialCrewPanel_SPACE2016.jpgWhen investigators pinpoint the cause of the Sept. 1 explosion of a SpaceX rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, NASA and SpaceX will use that information to make future astronaut transportation missions safer. "When we understand what happened, we will fold that back in to make the system more reliable, more safe," said Benji Reed, SpaceX director of crew mission management, speaking Sept. 14 at the "Commercial Crew Update" forum at AIAA SPACE 2016 in Long Beach, California. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Commercial Crew Update," on Wednesday, 14 September, at AIAA SPACE 2016, taking place 13–16 September 2016, in Long Beach, CA.
Full Story (AIAA SPACE 2016 Forum Notebook)



14 September 2016
Space: It’s About Cooperation

OpeningPlenary_SPACE2016.pngThe U.S. can no longer go it alone when it comes to space, said speakers at the opening plenary session of AIAA SPACE 2016 on Sept. 13 in Long Beach, California. If the U.S. is to move forward, they said, it will be in partnership with other nations, corporations and entities. The standing-room-only session offered attendees three separate views of space access and use: one from NASA, one from the Department of Defense and one from the investment sector. (Image Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AIAA SPACE 2016 Forum Notebook)



13 September 2016
Boeing to Unveil T-X Design

USAF_TXTrainers_Wiki.jpg Aviation Week reports that Boeing’s design for the T-X trainer competition will be unveiled today. The design, created in partnership with Saab, is the last aircraft in the competition to be revealed. While Boeing has not yet confirmed where the aircraft will be produced, the article notes that it is “doubtful” that it would be built anywhere other than St. Louis, since Boeing’s current F-15 and F/A-18 production lines there are “winding down.” (Image: USAF T-38 Talon, to be replaced by T-X program selection. Credit: SGT Jeffrey Allen, USAF, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Aviation Week)



12 September 2016
Musk Says Falcon 9 Explosion on Launch Pad “Most Difficult and Complex Failure” in SpaceX’s History

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpgAccording to a Wall Street Journal report, Elon Musk, SpaceX founder, has made a request to the public to help provide the company with any video recordings of the Sept. 1 explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in an effort to aid in the investigation into the cause of the mishap. On Friday, Must tweeted that the episode has “turn[ed] out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years,” adding that at the time of the explosion, “engines were not on and there was no apparent heat source.” According to Musk, investigators are attempting to figure out the source of a “quieter bang sound” that the recordings reveal, “a few seconds before the fireball goes off.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



12 September 2016
U.S. Air Force to Add 24 MQ-9 Reapers to Its Fleet

MQ-9Reaper.jpgThe U.S. Air Force has plans to add 24 General Atomics MQ-9s to its existing fleet of UAVs, reports IHS Jane’s 360 .  A base in Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, or South Carolina will be chosen to host the new MQ-9 operations group, where the MQ-9s will be piloted from, although the aircraft would be assigned to another base.  According the article, the second base would be located in Florida, California, or South Carolina. (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
More Info (IHS Jane's 360)



9 September 2016
NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex Lifts Off on Mission to Asteroid Bennu

OSIRIS-REx_Launches_8Sep2016_CreditNASA.jpgThe New York Times reports that NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral Thursday night mounted atop an Atlas 5 rocket. Having entered Earth orbit 12 minutes after liftoff, the rocket then fired its engines again to place the spacecraft on a trajectory around the sun. With OSIRIS-REx having “deployed its solar arrays and established communications with controllers on the ground,” Lockheed Martin’s Richard Kuhns noted that the “spacecraft is happy and healthy.” OSIRIS-Rex’s mission is to travel to the asteroid Bennu, take a sample of the asteroid’s surface material, and return it to earth for further study. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Times)



9 September 2016
FDNY to Deploy UAVs In Emergency Response Efforts

FireDeptDeploysUAV-AP-Purchased.jpgAccording to a New York Times report, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) will soon begin deploying UAVs where “major fires and emergencies” occur in an effort to provide “high-definition images in real time to commanders as they decide how to respond,” fire officials said. Due to the federally restricted airspace above New York City, the FDNY has coordinated with the FAA to reach an agreement that will allow the department to obtain a “clearance before sending up a drone,” which is expected to “take about 15 minutes,” according to Timothy E. Herlocker, director of FDNY’s operations center. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)



8 September 2016
Amazon Delivery UAV Prototype Photographed In Flight

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazon.jpgThe Daily Mail posts a photograph of an Amazon Prime Air UAV performing a flight test in Cambridgeshire, UK, making it “the first time a prototype of Amazon’s new delivery drone has been seen in action in Britain.” According to the article, the prototype hovered around 50 feet above the ground for approximately two minutes, until a team of engineers “picked up the device and made some adjustments.” The UAV was later seen toting a cardboard box. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Amazon Prime Air told the Daily Mail, “We are rapidly experimenting and iterating on Prime Air, working to make it a reality. This includes controlled testing of many different experimental vehicle components, designs, and configurations.” (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Air)
More Info (Daily Mail)



8 September 2016
Virgin Galactic Announces Restart of SpaceShipTwo Tests

SpaceShip2_Wiki - Copy.jpgVirgin Galactic announced on Wednesday that it will restart test flights for its SpaceShipTwo (SS2) spacecraft, in Mojave, California, in the “near future,” reports the Los Angeles Times . During the first test flight, SS2 will be attached to its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, for the entirety of the flight, allowing engineers to collect data on aerodynamic performance, as well as test one of SS2’s “abort modes.” The article reports that “the flight will be the first since the October 2014 crash of the original SpaceShipTwo, which killed one of two test pilots over the Mojave Desert.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)



7 September 2016
Cell Phone Networks Could Facilitate Beyond-Line-of-Sight UAS Operations

AltiGatorDrone_Wiki.jpg Digital Trends reports that in order for Amazon’s Prime Air UAS delivery service and other commercial UAS operations to come to fruition, “they will need a system of communication that allows them to travel farther, safer (and that will hopefully fend off doomsday scenarios).” According to a report in Wired , AT&T and Qualcomm are in the midst of developing a system for allowing “drones to connect to cell towers to achieve this goal.” If AT&T and Qualcomm are able to prove that it’s successful, they hope to reverse the FAA’s current ban on UAS flights beyond an operator’s line of sight. PC Magazine also reports on the story. (Image Credit: ZullyC3P via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Digital Trends)



7 September 2016
NASA Set for Launch of First Asteroid Sample Return Mission

OSIRIS-REX-NASA-Engineers-NASA.jpg NASA reports that its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) is set to launch on September 8, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on a mission to a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu with the goal of returning a small sample of the asteroid’s gravel back to Earth for further investigation. OSIRIS-Rex is set to launch on a ULA Atlas V Thursday evening and will return in seven years. According to the AP, the eventually returned sample “promises to be the biggest cosmic bounty since the Apollo moon rocks.” According to NASA, the weather forecast for launch “remains 80 percent ‘go’.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (NASA)



6 September 2016
SpaceX Explosion a Blow to Aerospace Industry

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased.jpgA New York Times report focused on the anticipated consequences of last week’s SpaceX Falcon 9 explosion. The article notes that the mishap extends “far beyond the losses on the launchpad,” as satellite-based Internet services will be “delayed and put in doubt,” Israel’s ability to market its satellite operator is now “imperiled,” and NASA now anticipates disruptions to future ISS delivery schedules. The article explains that what will be crucial for SpaceX moving forward is “how quickly it can satisfy federal investigators, rebuild the damaged launchpad at Cape Canaveral and resume sending satellites into space.”(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)



6 September 2016
Air Force Working with Private Contractors to Operate UAS Due to Pilot Shortage

MQ-1_Predator.jpgThe New York Times reports that the Department of Defense is relying more and more on private contractors to operate UAS in Iraq and Afghanistan because of “a shortage of Air Force pilots and other personnel to operate the aircraft.” Many of the contracted UAV pilots are performing reconnaissance missions that include “live video feeds of battles and special operations,” while Air Force officials maintain that they are “legally prohibited from being ‘trigger pullers’ and firing weapons.” Defense officials note that several hundred contractors are flying UAS, “many of them former drone or fighter pilots who are making double or triple their military salaries.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia / U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt)
More Info (New York Times)



2 September 2016
SpaceX Falcon 9 Explodes on Launchpad at Cape Canaveral

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgThe New York Times reports that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, loaded with a Facebook Communications satellite, “exploded on the launchpad” Thursday when performing a test-firing of its nine Merlin engines at Cape Canaveral. The mishap is described as a “major blow” to Facebook’s plan to provide worldwide Internet service. While the cause is still being investigated, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted that the problem initiated in the Falcon’s upper stage oxygen tank. The destroyed Amos-6 satellite was intended to provide Internet access to remote areas in Africa. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Times)
VIDEO

(Video by U.S. Launch Report)



1 September 2016
FAA Selects Drone Advisory Committee Members

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP.jpg Aviation International News reports that the FAA has announced the 35 “business, association, municipal and academic leaders” who will make up its new Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The DAC will make recommendations in regards to the implementation of UAVs into the US national airspace. Modeled after the FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee created in 2010 to make recommendations on ATC modernization, the DAC comprises the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, General Atomics, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Air Line Pilots Association, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Insitu, Rockwell Collins, and Lockheed Martin, in addition to others. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Aviation International News)



1 September 2016
Wash Post Opines New FAA UAV Rule Still “Quite Restrictive”

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgA recent Washington Post editorial maintained that even though the FAA’s new UAV rule that went into effect Monday avoids “several crucial mistakes that could have grounded a young [UAV] industry,” it is still “quite restrictive, particularly the requirement that operators keep drones within their line of sight.” The Post’s Editorial Board contended that “officials [who are] used to decades of regulating big airliners need to do a more nimble job [of] adapting to the revolution in unmanned and, someday soon, automated flight.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Washington Post)



31 August 2016
SpaceX to Launch SES-10 On Recycled Falcon Rocket

Falcon9Descends_Jan2016_WikimediaCommons.pngThe AP reports that SpaceX has a customer for the first launch of one of its recycled Falcon rockets. In a launch set for this fall from Cape Canaveral, Luxembourg-based SES will become the first SpaceX client to use one of SpaceX’s recycled rockets when one of its communications satellites (SES-10) is sent into orbit. On Twitter, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted the following message to SES, “Thanks for the longstanding faith in SpaceX. We very much look forward to doing this milestone flight with you.” In a press release, SES CTO Martin Halliwell said, “We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)



31 August 2016
Some ANA Dreamliners to Have Compression Blades Replaced On Rolls-Royce Engines

ANA_Dreamliner_WikimediaCommons.pngThe Fiscal Times reports that last week, All Nippon Airways (ANA) revealed that damaged compressor blades in some of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines in use on some of their Boeing Dreamliner aircraft will need to be replaced, which is expected to create a number of flight cancellations over the next few weeks. Explaining the problem with some of the engines, Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said that with ANA’s “more intensive use, the natural wear and tear on the engines” occurred sooner than anticipated, adding, “It is an issue but it’s a manageable issue.” (Image Credit: Kentaro Iemoto, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Fiscal Times)



30 August 2016
New UAV Rule Now In Effect

DJI_Phantom4_AP.pngThe FAA officially put in place a new rule on Monday that permits companies the use of UAVs without FAA approval, as long as they follow the FAA’s operating rules. According to USA Today , it is forecasted that the UAV industry will create as many as 100,000 new jobs and as much as “$82 billion in economic activity by 2025, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International [AUVSI].” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



30 August 2016
CNN Receives FAA Approval To Fly Over People

DJIPhantom3_AssociatedPressAlexBrandon_Purchased.jpg CNN announced on Monday in a press release that it has been granted a waiver by the FAA to fly UAVs over people within the United States, becoming the first organization to be granted such a waiver. CNN can now operate its tethered platform UAV, the Fotokite Pro, weighing less than two pounds, “over uncovered people who are not directly participating” in the UAV activity. Lisa Ellman, co-director of the Commercial Drone Alliance, said, “Not only is this a milestone moment for CNN, this approval is a milestone for the commercial UAS industry as a whole.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (CNN)



29 August 2016
FAA’s New UAV Rule Takes Effect Today

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe FAA is “preparing for a swarm of drone applications,’ The Hill reports, in anticipation of the new commercial UAV rule that becomes official Monday.  Earl Lawrence, the FAA’s Drone Integration Office director, said that “3,351 aspiring pilots already signed up to take the written test on Monday, while over 20,000 operators have registered commercial drones that will be able to take flight under the new rule.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (The Hill)



29 August 2016
First Class of Pilots Graduate from General Atomics UAV Training Academy

GenAtomics_TrainingAcademyHangar_NorthDakato_AP-Purchased.png ExecutiveBiz reported that the first class of UAV pilots has graduated from the General Atomics Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Training Academy in Grand Forks, ND, which was opened in June for the purpose of providing UAV pilot training – a program that can be completed in as little as two months. Among the graduating class are three pilots who are now qualified to fly the Predator A UAV. The article notes that the Academy also plans to offer a Predator B training program later this year. (Image: A temporary hanger built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. is seen Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at the Grand Sky drone park in Grand Forks, N.D. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (ExecutiveBiz)



29 August 2016
Dragon Returns With 3,000 Pounds of Research, Equipment

DragonDepartsISS_CreditNASATV-Aug2016.png NASA reports that SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule successfully returned to Earth on Friday, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT. Dragon returned from the International Space Station with 3,000 pounds of research and equipment after having delivered a new docking port last month for future use by SpaceX and Boeing, for docking of their commercial crew capsules. (Image credit: NASA)
More Info (NASA)



26 August 2016
ANA Cancels Flights, Orders Dreamliner Inspections Due to Rolls-Royce Engine Issue

ANA_Dreamliner_WikimediaCommons.pngThe Seattle Times reports that All Nippon Airways (ANA), the world’s largest operator of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, revealed on Thursday that it has canceled nine domestic flights scheduled for Friday due to possible corrosion on some of the aircraft’s engines. The article reports that Takeo Kikuck, ANA deputy senior vice president of engineering and maintenance, told reports in Tokyo that the airline might need to cancel more than 300 additional Dreamliner flights over the coming month as it investigates the potential need to replace engine parts. ANA said, via a statement, “We have learned of a possible issue with a component in the Rolls-Royce engines on a limited number of Boeing 787 aircraft,” adding that “We are communicating closely with Rolls-Royce and Boeing and performing inspections and maintenance on the aircraft involved.” (Image Credit: Kentaro Iemoto, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Seattle Times)



26 August 2016
ULA Awarded NASA Contract for Mars 2020 Rover Launch

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA.png Florida Today reports that on Thursday, NASA announced the awarding of a contract worth $243 million to United Launch Alliance (ULA) for the launch in 2020 of the next-generation Mars rover. The Mars 2020 rover, based on the design of NASA’s Curiosity rover that is currently exploring Mars’ Gale Crater, will look for evidence of previous life on Mars in addition to gathering rock and soil samples to eventually bring back to Earth. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Florida Today)



25 August 2016
New FAA Drone Rule Set to Take Effect On Monday

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg USA Today reports that the FAA’s new drone operator rule becomes official on Monday, and that thousands of UAS pilots are “eager” to obtain their certifications on the first day of eligibility. The article notes that Earl Lawrence, director of the FAA’s drone office, “said 3,351 people signed up to take a test of aviation knowledge Monday – the first day possible – to certify themselves as drone pilots,” and that another “20,000 commercial drone operators have already registered to start flying,” following successful completion of the FAA flying test. Addressing a group of congressional staffers on Wednesday, Lawrence said, “That’s a good indication we’re going to have a lot of people and a lot of aircraft operating from day one.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



25 August 2016
Northrop’s “Contender” for USAF T-X Next-Gen Trainer Competition Makes First Flight

USAF-T-38-Talon_OldTrainer_WikimediaCommons.png Aviation Week reports on Northrop Grumman’s “contender” for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X next-generation trainer and the completion of its first flight in Mojave, California, on August 24, where it went through “basic handling and systems tests.” According to the article, the new trainer is powered by a ““single, non-afterburning General Electric F404-102D turbofan and configured with side-mounted inlets and a conventional horizontal and large vertical tail.” (Image: USAF T-38 Talon, to be replaced by T-X program selection. Credit: SGT Jeffrey Allen, USAF, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Aviation Weeksubscription content)



24 August 2016
American Retires 20 MD-80s In One Day

MD-80_AmericanAirlines_WikimediaCommons.png Bloomberg News reports on American Airlines’ effort to accelerate its fleet transformation with the airline’s announcement on Tuesday that it has retired 20 of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft in “one of the largest single-day aircraft retirements in airline history.” The airline explained, through a statement, that “summer is the busiest time of the year for airlines, and with summer flying winding down, we can go ahead and park these aircraft.” The article notes that the retired jets will be sent to the Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico and that American intends to retire an additional 45 MD-80s in 2016, most of which are slated for the third quarter, “and be rid of all of them by the end of 2017 as part of a fleet renewal project.” (Image Credit: Bill Abbott, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



24 August 2016
Astronaut Jeff Williams to Set New U.S. Spaceflight Record

JeffWilliams_Works_Inside_BEAM_June2016_2NASA.png Florida Today reports on the breaking of the U.S. spaceflight record by NASA astronaut Jeff Williams who will establish the new mark on Wednesday with a collective 521 days in orbit, spanning four missions, breaking the previously established record set by recently retired astronaut Scott Kelly. Williams is expected to accumulate a total of 534 days in space by the time of his scheduled return to Earth on Sept. 6. (Image: NASA astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), June 2016. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Florida Today)



23 August 2016
NASA Restores Contact with STEREO-B

STEREO-NASA.pngNASA announced on Monday that it was able to re-establish contact with its STEREO-B solar observation satellite on Sunday after nearly two years of silence, CBS News reports. NASA said via a statement that the STEREO Missions Operations team is planning further recovery measures “to assess observatory health, re-establish attitude control and evaluate all subsystems and instruments.” Communications with the satellite were lost during a test that was performed on 1 October 2014. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CBS News)



23 August 2016
Aptonomy Unveils Autonomous UAV Flying Security Guard

AptonomyUAV.png TechCrunch features a story on UAV developer Aptonomy and its “flying security guard” UAV that is able to “record suspicious activity, shine a light on intruders, allow two-way communication with the intruder through loudspeakers, and generally scare off potential troublemakers as an intimidating presence in the air.” The UAV, using its artificial intelligence and advanced navigational capabilities, is able to fly fast and low to the ground while “avoiding obstacles in structure-dense environments, [while] detecting human activity or faces in the area, autonomously.” (Image Credit: Aptonomy)
More Info (TechCrunch)



22 August 2016
How Will the Internet Work on Mars?


(Video produced and provided by InternetProviders.com)

22 August 2016
IDA Installed at ISS, Enabling Access for Future Commercial Spacecraft

KateRubins_ISS-Spacewalk-Aug2016_CreditNASA.png USA Today reported that on Friday, astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins successfully performed a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS). The duo installed an International Docking Adapter (IDA) that is required in order to receive SpaceX and Boeing capsules that are “currently being developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.” NASA engineers on the ground used the ISS’s 58-foot robotic arm to initially move the docking port from SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship to a position near the Harmony module. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



22 August 2016
U.S. Air Force Awards Boeing KC-46A Tanker Production Contract

BoeingKC-46Tanker_CreditBoeing.jpgOn Friday, the U.S. Air Force awarded The Boeing Company a $2.8 billion U.S. Air Force (USAF) contract for KC-46A tanker low-rate initial production, Avionics Magazine reports. The company is aiming to produce a total of 179 KC-46s as replacements for the Air Force’s current fleet of KC-135 refueling tankers. (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Avionics Magazine)



22 August 2016
NASA Requesting Ideas for Commercial Use of ISS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASA.pngPer a Bloomberg News report, NASA is soliciting ideas from private industry on the most effective ways to utilize the International Space Station (ISS) “for commercial purposes,” in an effort to move the U.S. closer toward creating “a marketplace in space.” In a blog posted by NASA as "additional context" to its RFI, the agency said that commercial companies “continue to approach NASA,” with ideas on how “to use the ISS in ways we never imagined.” According to Bloomberg’s report, NASA has requested additional ideas on “operating models, contract structures, and other sustainable business plans for future commercial endeavors 250 miles above the planet.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



19 August 2016
ULA Launches Space Surveillance Satellites for U.S. Air Force

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA.png A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Friday morning, reports Space News , placing two space surveillance satellites into geosynchronous orbit on behalf of the U.S. Air Force. Known as the Air Force Space Command-6 (AFSPC-6) mission, a Delta IV rocket delivered the third and fourth satellites for the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP), which the U.S. Air Force refers to as kind of a “neighborhood watch” for the geosynchronous belt, home of some of the Pentagon’s most technically advanced satellites. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)



19 August 2016
U.S. Navy Plans Upgrade to F/A-18 Super Hornet to Fly Alongside F-35

FA18SuperHornet_Wiki.jpgAccording to an Investor’s Business Daily report, the U.S. Navy will “continue to modernize” its Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets. The article mentions that in remarks on Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Naval Air Forces commander, called the new Super Hornets “4.5-generation” fighters, while underscoring that he is not calling for a reduction in the need for Lockheed’s fifth-generation fighter, the F-35, but instead calling for synergistic roles for both aircraft. According to the report, Shoemaker explained, “We absolutely need the F-35 as soon as we can get it,” adding, “We want to pair those two up together.” (Image: A U.S. Navy (USN) F/A-18F Super Hornet. Credit: U.S. Navy)
More Info (Investor's Business Daily)



19 August 2016
NASA Celebrates “Mars Day,” Provides Inside Glimpse at Eventual Mars Mission

MarsMission_JPLNASA.jpgNASA designated Thursday, 18 August, as “#NASAMarsDay,” in recognition of the Red Planet, NBC News reports, celebrating the occasion with a “a behind-the-scenes look on social media detailing the steps it has been taking to prepare for the eventual journey.” The celebratory day wrapped up with a test firing of an RS-25 rocket engine at NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. NBC News notes that the RS-25 engine will eventually power the Space Launch System (SLS), and “send astronauts on deep space missions.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (NBC News)


18 August 2016
F-35Cs Tested for Carrier Qualifications From USS George Washington

F35_Wikipedia.jpg Flightglobal reports on the ongoing testing of the Lockheed Martin F-35C carrier-based variant from onboard the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, including flight tests, takeoff and landing tests, and deck and hangar suitability tests. The performance of a redesigned arresting hook is also “being scrutinized,” after issues arose in testing last October. Flightglobal discusses other aspects of the tests, and notes that passing carrier qualifications is “one of the final steps” in the F-35C’s overall system development and demonstration program. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Flightglobal)



18 August 2016
NASA Ready to Launch Historic Asteroid Sampling Mission

AtlasV_PreparingToLaunch_OSIRIS-REx_NASA.png ABC News reports that NASA revealed on Wednesday that all systems are set for the space agency’s $800 million plan “to send a spacecraft to a nearby asteroid and bring back a sample to study the origins of the solar system.” After landing on the asteroid Bennu, “a dark, primitive body that may allow scientists a glimpse into the formation of life,” the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will be the first mission to ever attempt to retrieve a sample from an asteroid. The article explains that the mission will launch on September 8, and will, over the next few years, “approach, map and orbit the asteroid before the mission team picks the safest and most scientifically interesting place from which to take a sample.” If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will collect the “big prize” by July 2020, and arrive back on Earth by September 2023.(Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (ABC News)



18 August 2016
Giant British Airship Completes Maiden Flight

Airlander10_FirstFlight_HybridAirVehicles-YouTube.pngThe AP reports that the giant blimp-shaped Airlander 10 completed its maiden flight on Wednesday with “a short but historic jaunt” over Cardington Airfield in Central England. The 302-foot airship, deemed to be the world’s largest aircraft, flew a circuit around the area – “watched by hundreds of local people who had parked their cars around the perimeter of the airfield” – before landing about half an hour later. According to its developer, Hybrid Air Vehicles, the Airlander is designed to expend less fuel and carry heavier loads than conventional airships. CEO Stephen McGlennan called the hybrid airship “a great British innovation,” explaining that it is “a combination of an aircraft that has parts of normal fixed-wing aircraft, it’s got helicopter, it’s got airship.” (Image Credit: Hybrid Air Vehicles via YouTube)
More Info (Associated Press)



17 August 2016
Boeing Installs Crew Access Arm for Starliner at Cape Canaveral

Boeing_CST-100.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel reports that Boeing installed the Crew Access Arm for its CST-100 Starliner at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 on Monday, putting in place “the next puzzle piece for what will eventually be where Atlas V rockets run by United Launch Alliance will take the Starliner capsule into space.” The access arm is situated 160 feet above ground, and stretches 44 feet from “the launch tower to what will eventually be rockets that will take astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)



17 August 2016
U.S. Marine Corps Outlines Plans To Overhaul Super Stallion Fleet

Sikorsky_CH-53H_SuperStallion_Wikimedia.png Flightglobal reports that the U.S. Marine Corps has announced that all 147 of its Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion rotorcraft “will be overhauled to address safety and availability issues that have been evident in the fleet since” the fatal crash of a U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon variant in 2014. Col. Hank Vanderborght, program manager for the H-53 program office at the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, said, “What was discovered was that the material condition of the aircraft – both the CH-53E and the MH-53E – was degraded.” He added, “Those helicopters have been around since the early 1980s, so 30-plus years, and we’d been at war for the last 15 years, so the machines had been used pretty hard.” (Image: Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion. Credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Kristopher Wilson, U.S. Navy, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Flightglobal)



17 August 2016
NASA Astronauts to Install New Docking Port at ISS On Friday

IDA_NASA_Charles_Babir.png The Verge reports that NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams are set to perform a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk Friday morning in order to install a new International Docking Adapter (IDA) at the International Space Station (ISS). During their spacewalk, Rubins and Williams will receive assistance from fellow crew member Takuya Onishi, with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, who “will manage a control panel inside the station that will help to physically connect the IDA to its port.” The article explains that the IDA is a key component of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that will allow “space taxis” developed by private companies such as SpaceX and Boeing to dock at the ISS. (Image Credit: NASA/Charles Babir)
More Info (The Verge)



16 August 2016
Study Finds Use of Fixed-Wing Drones Lags Behind Quadcopters In Commercial, Industrial Markets

DJI_Phantom4_AP.png TechCrunch reports that a newly released study by DroneDeploy indicates that the use of quadcopters is rapidly outpacing the use of fixed-wing drones in every industry. The article notes that while fixed-wing drones can typically fly longer distances and cover larger areas than quadcopters, they are also “used in just 6 percent of the flights for commercial and industrial purposes.” By comparison, quadcopters, “which promise to be easier for drone operators to control in flight and allow for rapid takeoff,” are used much more extensively. DroneDeploy CEO and Co-Founder Mike Winn explained, “People would rather fly a quadcopter multiple times over a large area, or stop to change batteries, than go through the process of assembling a fixed-wing drone before a flight.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (TechCrunch)



16 August 2016
NASA Weighing Russian Proposal to Cut ISS Cosmonaut Staff

InternationalSpaceStation_NASA.png AFP reports that NASA is mulling a proposal by Roscosmos to reduce the number of Russian cosmonauts at the International Space Station (ISS) from three to two. During a press conference on Monday, ISS Operations Integration Manager Kenneth Todd said of Russia, “They are exploring the option of going down to two crew on the Russian segment,” adding, “They have made that known to the partnership.” Todd also remarked, “We will trade it against whatever risk that might put into the program,” including “the risk to our crew on board and the station itself.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (AFP)



15 August 2016
Zipline Set to Test Medical Drone Deliveries With White House Support

Zipline-Delivery-Credit_Zipline.jpg TechCrunch reported that following recent approval from the White House, robotics start-up Zipline is set to soon demonstrate the “viability of unmanned aircraft technology in disseminating critical care supplies” to hard-to-reach locations. According to the article, Zipline is teaming up with Ellumen, ASD Healthcare, and Bloodworks Northwest “on test deliveries of medical supplies in Washington, Nevada, and Maryland.” The article notes that Zipline’s testing program “could influence the national framework for the U.S. commercial done sector – projected to generate $82 billion in revenue by 2025.” (Image Credit: Zipline – Press Kit)
More Info (TechCrunch)



15 August 2016
Air Force Approves Production for Boeing KC-46 Tankers

BoeingKC-46Tanker_CreditBoeing.jpg Reuters reported briefly that the U.S. Air Force has approved Boeing’s KC-46A refueling aircraft for production with “the first two low rate initial production lots to be awarded in the next 30 days.” In a statement on Friday, Air Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, “The KC-46 program has made significant strides in moving the Air Force toward the modernization needed in our strategic tanker fleet.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Reuters)



12 August 2016
Delta: Small Fire Contributed to Operational Problems

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommons.pngIn continuing coverage of Delta Air Lines’ technical problems that caused the airline to cancel 2,100 flights this week, Bloomberg News reports that the airline has attributed some of the blame to a small fire at its computer center. Bloomberg notes that Delta CEO Ed Bastian told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that a power control module caught fire, which resulted in the power surge and the loss of power to the airline’s computers. Delta was able to put out the fire without assistance from the fire department. (Image Credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



12 August 2016
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff: Comparison Between F-35 and China’s J-20 Almost “Irrelevant”

F35_Wikipedia.jpg Business Insider reports that Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein stated in a briefing Thursday that comparisons between the US Air Force F-35 variant and China’s J-20 fighter are nearly “irrelevant,” saying, “I would tell you that as a first generation low observable pilot who flew the F-117, that’s a more relevant comparison with first gen than fifth gen because the first generation low observable technology F-117 was a reasonable one for one comparison against a J-20 or other aircraft.” Goldfein said Lockheed Martin’s F-117 Nighthawk, the nation’s first stealth aircraft, was “single domain” and “a closed system,” while the F-35 is networked and can share what it sees in the battlespace, creating “a family of systems.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Business Insider)



11 August 2016
Delta Cancels Fewer Flights On Wednesday, Will Return to Normal Operations Soon

DeltaFlight_AirbusA330-300_WikimediaCommons.pngWhile Delta Air Lines continued to cancel and delay flights in response to Monday’s and Tuesday’s technical problems, the airline did edge closer to resuming normal operations on Wednesday afternoon. Reuters reports that Delta had canceled 311 flights on Wednesday as of 2:30 p.m. EDT, “adding to the more than 1,600 cancellations since Monday.” However, 70 percent of Delta’s 2,540 flights that departed on Wednesday did so within 30 minutes of their scheduled departure time. Delta Senior Vice President for Airport Customer Service and Airline Operations Bill Lentsch said that the airline is in “the final hours of bouncing back from the disruption.” Reuters explains that experts believe “mergers – and sometimes insufficient investment in back-end technology – have left airlines with a hodgepodge of systems,” problems which have been exacerbated by the implementation of automated operations. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that the company has spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” upgrading its infrastructure, and Delta Spokesman Trebor Banstetter wrote in an email that there “have been no indications of a hack.” (Image Credit: Gietje via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



11 August 2016
U.S. Air Force, Navy, Raytheon Test-Fire AIM-9X Sidewinders From F-35

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimedia_.png Defense Daily reports that the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Raytheon successfully test-fired three AIM-9X Block I Sidewinder missiles from an F-35A at airborne targets for the first time, Raytheon announced Wednesday. The tests included “loading, in-flight carriage, target acquisition by the aircraft and passing a target cue to the missile on the rail, missile target acquisition and track, launch initiation, safe separation, in-flight guidance, and impact/proximity fuzing at target intercept.” Raytheon AIM-9X Program Director Mark Justus said in a statement, “We look forward to the remaining flight test and integration work, leading to fielding of the AIM-9X on the most advanced fighter aircraft.” (Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Defense Daily – subscription publication)



11 August 2016
UK Engineers Develop Tethered Drone With Unlimited Flight Time

TetheredDrone_AP-Purchased_CreditNatiHarnik.png Reuters reports that engineers with the University of Southampton in England have developed a tethered drone that allows for unlimited flight time. Dr. Stephen Prior, with the University of Southampton, explains that the drone could be attached to a land vehicle and be driven around to various areas while remaining in the air. He adds, “It’s basically a virtual mast, so you could imagine surveillance operations, rescue missions at sea or on land, surveillance of large complexes like nuclear power stations.” (Image: Tethered drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)



10 August 2016
NASA Teams Up With Companies to Develop Full-Scale Deep Space Habitats

BEAM_Inflated_NASA.png Engadget reports that NASA revealed on Tuesday that it has partnered with six different companies – including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada, NanoRocks, and Bigelow Aerospace – to develop full-scale ground prototypes of their preliminary deep space habitat designs. According to the article, one or more of the habitats “could serve as home to astronauts going to Mars and other locations farther than Low Earth orbit.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Engadget)



9 August 2016
Verifly Launches On-Demand Drone Insurance App

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Nevada-based Verifly, “the first on-demand drone insurance company,” debuted a new app on Monday for the burgeoning US drone industry. Verifly co-founder Jay Bregman explained that the app “draws a quarter-mile circle around you, and that’s the [insurance] coverage area.” Bregman added that the app “calculates the risks in that coverage area, and also environmental risks like wind.&rdquo (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Las Vegas Review-Journal)



8 August 2016
UK Serious Fraud Office Begins Airbus Probe

AirbusA380_WikimediaCommons.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Airbus disclosed on Sunday that the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has opened a criminal investigation into the company relating to its use of third-party consultants. Airbus said the investigation concerns allegations involving fraud, bribery, and corruption in its civil aviation division, and is related to irregularities in its use of overseas agents. The British government revealed in April that it was requesting information from Airbus regarding its use of foreign agents, and was weighing whether or not to launch a formal corruption probe. (Image Credit: Dmitry A. Mottl via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



8 August 2016
NASA Releases Over 1,000 Detailed Images of Mars

Curiosity_MarsImage_NASA.jpgThe Daily Mail reported that NASA has released more than 1,000 images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter circling Mars, “showing a range of gullies, dunes, craters, geological layering and other features.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Daily Mail)



5 August 2016
Amazon to Demonstrate Prime Air Cargo Jet At Seafair

AmazonPrimeAir-AP-Purchased.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon on Thursday showed off a Boeing 767-300 cargo jet with a Prime Air logo on its fuselage. Atlas Air Worldwide will operate the aircraft as part of the online retailer’s plan to grow its logistics operation. Amazon is leasing a total of 40 cargo jets to supplement its delivery partners. (Image: Amazon.com boxes are shown stacked near a Boeing 767 Amazon "Prime Air" cargo plane on display Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, in a Boeing hangar in Seattle. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



5 August 2016
NASA Celebrates Fourth Anniversary of Curiosity Mission With “Mars Rover” Game

Curiosity-on-Mars-ArtistsImpression_CreditNASA.jpg SPACE reports that NASA is celebrating the fourth anniversary of the Curiosity rover mission on Mars with a new app called “Mars Rover,” which allows users to virtually explore the “rugged terrain” of the Red Planet. NASA officials said that the game, which was co-developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and GAMEE, should allow users to gain a better appreciation of what the Curiosity rover is doing on Mars. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)



4 August 2016
Google Parent to Start Testing Delivery Drones In US

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpgIn continuing coverage, The Guardian reports that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, will soon begin experimenting with its Project Wing delivery drones after being granted approval by the White House on Tuesday. Alphabet will perform its tests at one of six FAA-designated testing locations within the US as part of a government effort “to promote research into unmanned flight and safety legislation.” In a statement, the White House said, “Project Wing is planning for the testing to include operations with external cargo loads and to build towards beyond line of sight capabilities. The company will also begin to develop and deploy an open-interface, airspace management solution for safe low-altitude small UAS operations using existing low cost, scalable communication and information technologies.” (Image Credit: Google/YouTube)
More Info (The Guardian)



4 August 2016
DJI to Open Drone Arena In South Korea

DJI_Phantom4_AP.png The Verge reports that DJI is “expanding its consumer outreach” with the launch of its first-ever “drone arena” later this month in Yongin, South Korea. The China-based drone manufacturer said that the 1,395-square-meter indoor venue will be outfitted with safety nets, an LED-light circuit, and support for first-person-perspective flight operations. DJI South Korea Manager Moon Tae-hyun explained that DJI wants to make drones “more accessible and easier to learn,” and that the arena can be booked by both individuals and by groups. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (The Verge)



4 August 2016
Military Officials Defend F-35 Against Claims It Has Too Much Technology

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimedia_.png Business Insider reports that Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis defended the F-35 against claims that the aircraft “has too much stealth, technology, and capability for pilots to handle.” Davis said, “We need the electronic warfare capabilities that airplane delivers.” Jeff Babione, head of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, said the fighter is equipped with “the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history.” Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program’s executive officer, said the declaration of the F35A’s initial operational capability “sends a simple and powerful message to America’s friends and foes alike, the F-35 can do its mission.” (Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Business Insider)



3 August 2016
White House Launches Effort to Expand Domestic Drone Use

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg The Hill reports that at a White House conference on Tuesday, the Obama administration revealed that it is spearheading a new effort to expand domestic drone use, “which includes boosting funding for research, directing federal agencies to use the technology for department missions and teeing up new rules for flying drones over crowds.” According to the article, the White House is looking to build on its prior efforts to integrate drones into US airspace, “following on the heels of its first major rule permitting small commercial drone use in June.”   (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (The Hill)



3 August 2016
U.S. Air Force: F-35A Ready for Combat

F35_Wikipedia.jpgCoverage of the U.S. Air Force’s announcement that the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II is ready for combat appeared throughout traditional media as well as industry sources. A wire story distributed internationally by Reuters reports that the announcement marks “a major milestone” for the program. Program Director USAF Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said in a statement that “the U.S. Air Force decision to make the 15 F-35As...combat ready sends a simple and powerful message to America’s friends and foes alike – the F-35 can do its mission.” The Air Force will buy 1,763 of the jets, giving it the largest fleet in the world. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



2 August 2016
Virgin Galactic Granted FAA License to Resume Spacecraft Testing

SpaceShip2_Wiki%20-%20Copy.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Virgin Galactic announced on Monday that it has received approval from the FAA to resume testing of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle following a fatal test flight crash in 2014 that raised concerns about the future of the commercial space industry. Virgin Galactic said that its operating license was approved following several years of in-depth negotiations with the FAA. According to the AP, the licensing process included “a review of the system’s design, safety analysis and flight trajectory analysis.” (Image Credit: Jeff Foust via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



2 August 2016
USAF Looks To 3-D Printing, Advanced Manufacturing Research For Replacement Parts

F35_USAF.jpgThe Air Force News Service reports that the Air Force Research Laboratory has invested $10 million in a research project aimed at “refining the efficiency of Air Force aircraft part replacements to the America Makes – National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio.” New techniques highlighted in the research include the use of 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing. Dr. Dennis Butcher, the America Makes program manager, said: “The goal of this Directed Project Opportunity is to improve the efficiency of Air Force air logistics complexes in rapidly replacing parts for legacy and other military aircraft by developing, demonstrating and guiding the transition to the use of additive manufacturing and other types of related advanced manufacturing technology.” (Image: An ORDbot Quantum 3D printer. Credit: Bart Dring via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Air Force News Service)



2 August 2016
F-35A Shoots Down UAS Units, Scoring First “Air-To-Air Kill

F35_USAF.jpg Defense Daily reports that an F-35A shot a Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder at a drone target and scored the aircraft’s “first air-to-air kill” on July 28. The plane’s test pilot, Air Force Maj. Raven LeClair, said “you don’t really have a fighter until you can actually hit a target,” and that following the test, “we crossed that threshold.” The F-35A is also testing other weapons, including the “Small Diameter Bomb, the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile.” (Image: This Air Force version of the F-35 Lightning II completed a test flight April 20, 2010, from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Credit: USAF)
More Info (Defense Daily)



1 August 2016
U.S. F-35s Too Advanced For Some Training Exercises

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimedia_.png Air Force Times reports that US F-35s are having difficulties with training because the aircraft are too stealthy for other military tracking units. The article provides an example in which the planes were slated to evade surface-to-air threats, but air defenses could not spot the plane. Commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base Lt. Col. George Watkins said that the units “couldn’t target us,” and if they had not elected to use their transponders to complete the training, “most likely we would not have suffered a single loss from any SAM threats while we were training.” (Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Air Force Times)



1 August 2016
Juno Reaches “Apojove,” Prepared For Science Mission

JunoApproachesJupiter_NASA-JPL.jpg CBS News reports that NASA’s Juno spacecraft has reached the “apojove” of its first 53-day orbit around Jupiter, “setting up a long plunge back toward its quarry and an Aug. 27 close encounter with all of its instruments up and running.” The article explains that on Sunday, Juno passed through the high-point of its orbit of Jupiter at a distance of about 5 million miles. In addition, on August 27, the probe will reach “perijove 1,” and fly by the gas giant at a distance of about 2,600 miles, “collecting data about Jupiter’s deep interior, its powerful magnetic field, the radiation environment and the hidden structure of its turbulent atmosphere.” (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (CBS News)



1 August 2016
New Sierra Nevada Dreamchaser Spacecraft Preparing for Ground Testing Ahead of 2019 ISS Supply Mission

DreamChaser_KenUlbrich_Wiki.pngThe Washington Post reported that the Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dreamchaser spacecraft will soon start “a series of ground tests that [will] eventually culminate with a flight from an altitude of 2.5 miles high.” The article explains that although the spacecraft was initially “something of a longshot” for winning a contract to delivery supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), it was awarded a portion of the resupply mission, “and could begin flying by late 2019.” According Sierra Nevada Space Systems Division Head Mark Sirangelo, the contract award reinvigorated the Dreamchaser program, and the company has been able to move forward ever since. (Image: Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser. Credit: Ken Ulbrich via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



29 July 2016
Study Suggests Lunar Astronauts Face Increased Heart-Related Risks Due to Deep Space Radiation

BruceMcCandless_STS-41-B_NASA.jpgThe New York Times reports that in a paper published on Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, Florida State University Professor of Human Sciences Michael Delp and a team of NASA-affiliated scientists “examined how deep space travel may have affected the cardiovascular health of Apollo astronauts.” Explaining the impetus for the research, Delp “said researchers need to better understand and study the effects of deep space travel on the human body.” In the study, the researchers found a higher rate of cardiovascular fatalities among Apollo astronauts than among those space travelers that flew only in low-orbit or never partook in any orbital mission. Other research conducted on mice suggests that “the cause of cardiovascular disease in these astronauts may have been deep space radiation.” (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (New York Times)



29 July 2016
SZ DJI Technology Increases Focus On Commercial Drones

DJI_Phantom4_AP.png Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports on drone maker SZ DJI Technology’s increasing focus on corporate customers, after accounting for roughly half of the US consumer drone market. To cater to commercial users, DJI has been adding new features and working with Android and iOS developers. That is in the context of the FAA preparing “to ease restrictions on commercial unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg Business Week)



29 July 2016
ULA Launches Classified NRO Satellite Into Orbit Atop of Atlas V Rocket

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA CBS News reports that the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket launched a classified National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) surveillance satellite into orbit on Thursday, “putting on a spectacular morning sky show before disappearing from view under a familiar cloak of secrecy.” Although ULA provided live footage from the launch, the feed blacked out five minutes later “at the request of our customer.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CBS News)



28 July 2016
General Atomics Opens Flight Training Academy In North Dakota

GenAtomics_TrainingAcademyHangar_NorthDakato_AP-Purchased.pngThe AP reports that defense contractor General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has opened a flight academy at the Grand Sky drone park in Grand Forks, North Dakota, “much to the delight of state officials who have pumped millions of dollars into promoting drones.” On Wednesday, General Atomics Director of International Programs Dan Fritz said that North Dakota’s open and unrestricted airspace provided a remarkable opportunity for the company, adding, “What we’re doing up there really is groundbreaking.” Noting that North Dakota has invested $34 million in drone projects and education in recent years, the AP highlights that Gov. Jack Dalrymple said about the new academy, “This is the next important step in an emerging, evolving story,” adding, “Now we have reached a critical mass where the investments are coming to us.” (Image: A temporary hanger built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. is seen Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at the Grand Sky drone park in Grand Forks, N.D. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



28 July 2016
NASA Estimates SpaceX Spending $300 Million On Red Dragon Mission to Mars

SpaceXRedDragon_Wiki.png Space News reports that NASA projects that SpaceX is spending about $300 million on its Mars-bound Red Dragon spacecraft, “a down payment on the company’s long-term ambitions for human Mars missions.” During a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s technology committee on Wednesday, Jim Reuter, deputy associate administrator for programs in NASA’s space technology mission directorate, gave an overview of the space agency’s agreement with SpaceX “to support that company’s plans for an uncrewed Mars landing mission that could launch as soon as May 2018.” Noting that NASA plans to spend $32 million over four years to support the mission, Reuter added that SpaceX “did talk to us [NASA] about a 10-to-1 arrangement in terms of cost: theirs 10, ours 1,” implying that SpaceX is investing about $300 million on Red Dragon. (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Space News)



27 July 2016
Pierre Chao Looks to the Future of the Propulsion and Energy Market

PierreChao_PE2016.pngWith world turmoil, sluggish markets and changing geopolitical landscapes, it pays to know where the U.S. aerospace community stands and in what directions it may go. Pierre Chao, founding partner of Renaissance Strategic Advisors, discussed the future of the market July 27 in the closing session of AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016 in Salt Lake City. Chao said that although current demand for propulsion and energy systems is sluggish, the industry will see a slight uptick — about 3 percent — in 2017. (Image: Pierre Chao, founding partner, Renaissance Strategic Advisors, delivers closing remarks on the afternoon of 27 July, at AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016, taking place 25–27 July in Salt Lake City. Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016 Forum Notebook)



27 July 2016
Aerospace Businesses Must Be Flexible, Adaptable, Innovative

RickyShyne_PE2016.pngSurviving in today’s dynamic aerospace environment, as well as succeeding and experiencing some amount of longevity, requires flexibility and an adaptability to the invariably changing times, as well as constant innovation, according to a panel of industry experts July 26 during the “Formula for Success and Longevity in the Aerospace Business” session at AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016 in Salt Lake City. (Image: Ricky Shyne, director of Research and Engineering at NASA Glenn Research Center, delivers remarks during the panel discussion, "Formula for Success and Longevity in the Aerospace Business” on the evening of 26 July, at AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016, taking place 25–27 July, in Salt Lake City, UT. Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016 Forum Notebook)



26 July 2016
Antares’ Return-to-Flight Edges Closer

Antares_WallopsLaunch_Wiki.png Orbital ATK says it is on schedule to launch its next Antares rocket by the end of August, nearly two years after a launch explosion in Virginia grounded the Antares rockets. “Everything is tracking to that [date] right now,” said Orbital ATK’s John Steinmeyer, director of business development, speaking July 26 at AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016 in Salt Lake City. (Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons)
Full Story (AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016 Forum Notebook)



26 July 2016
Solar Impulse 2 Completes Global Circumnavigation Trip, Demonstrates Potential of Clean Energy Aviation

SolarImpulse2_Lands_AbuDhabi_26July2016_AP-Purchased.pngThe AP reports that on Tuesday, Solar Impulse 2 became the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe by solely using solar energy as it landed in Abu Dhabi, “where it first took off on an epic 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometer) journey that began more than a year ago.” After landing the aircraft, pilot Bertrand Piccard “was greeted outside the cockpit by his Solar Impulse partner and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg.” Speaking to a crowd gathered at the airport where the aircraft landed, Piccard said, “The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let’s take it further.” In a prior statement this week, Borschberg said, “By flying around the world thanks to renewable energy and clean technologies, we have demonstrated that we can now make our world more energy efficient.” (Image: The Solar Impulse 2 plane lands in an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, early Tuesday, July 26, 2016, marking the historic end of the first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel, powered solely by the sun’s energy. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Assoicated Press)



26 July 2016
U.S. Air Force, NASA Pledge Bold Research Efforts

USAF_NASA_Panel_PE2016.pngRepresentatives from NASA and the U.S. Air Force discussed initiatives and issues, such as how much technical risk can be accepted when spending taxpayer dollars, July 25 during a freewheeling session titled “System Needs in Propulsion and Energy” at AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016 in Salt Lake City. (Image Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016 forum notebook)



25 July 2016
7-Eleven, Flirtey Complete First Customer Drone Delivery In U.S.

Flirtey-Delivery-Drone-Dropbox.pngThe Dallas Morning News reported that 7-Eleven announced on Friday that it had successfully completed a drone delivery from one of its convenience stores in Reno, Nevada. The retailer and its partner, independent drone delivery service Flirtey, said that the July 11 test constituted the first time a customer in the US has received a home delivery via drone. The article notes that the products delivered included “Slurpee drinks, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and candy.” (Image Credit: Flirtey Technology/Dropbox)
More Info (Dallas Morning News)



25 July 2016
Astronauts Using 3D Printer Aboard ISS

3DPrinter-ISS-CreditNASA.png TechRepublic reported that astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) “recently put a very interesting thing into orbit—a 3D printer...created in tandem by Lowe’s and a company called Made in Space.” The article explains that the 3D printer “could be used to produce tools and items needed in case of an emergency, or just for everyday use.” According to the article, the machine sent to the ISS “prints models using plastic filament in a process called fused deposition modeling (FDM)” and has thus far produced “a Kobalt-branded wrench to be used for projects on the ISS.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (TechRepublic)



22 July 2016
Facebook Successfully Tests Aquila Aircraft

Facebook_Aquila_Aircraft.png USA Today reports that Facebook has completed the first test flight of its solar-powered Aquila UAV, flying the aircraft for 96 minutes, three times longer than planned. Featuring a wingspan the length of a Boeing 737, the aircraft is designed to stay aloft for up to three months at a time, providing Internet access across a 60-mile radius using new laser-beam technology. However, Facebook still has significant challenges to address in order to make the technology fully operational, including “collecting enough energy during daylight hours to operate around the clock and designing high-energy, dense batteries that can efficiently store enough energy.”
More Info (USA Today)



21 July 2016
SpaceX Cargo Capsule Arrives at ISS

SpaceXCargoCapsule-at-ISS-NASA.pngThe AP reports that SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday morning, carrying over two tons of supplies, including “a docking port needed for future rocket ships.” As part of the operation, NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins used a robotic arm to dock the Dragon capsule at the ISS. Following the docking of the spacecraft, Williams said to Mission Control, “We’ve captured us a Dragon,” adding, “We look forward to the work that it brings.” In response, Mission Control said, “This event is an important step on the journey of the International Space Station mission. Now let’s get this vehicle berthed so we can get to work.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



21 July 2016
Search for MH370 Continues

MA370_LaurentErrera_Wiki.png CNN reports on the continued “intense” search for traces of Flight MH370 over two years after the Boeing 777 disappeared from radar. American attorney Blaine Gibson is leading a self-funded search, and “notified Malaysian and Australian authorities of the dozens of pieces of possible plane debris he has found off the east coast of Madagascar.” (Image Credit: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (CNN)



20 July 2016
Amazon Files Patent For UAV Pit Stops

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpg USA Today reports that a new patent filed last week by Amazon, as part of its Prime Air program, “paints a picture of flocks of unmanned aerial vehicles whizzing out of tiny depots perched on light poles, carrying packages bound for a broad geographical region.” The article explains that as part of the e-commerce giant’s “multi-use unmanned aerial vehicle docking station system,” the docking stations serve as pit stops to recharge UAVs flying between customer homes and distribution facilities. According to the article, the docking stations will be capable of accommodating several UAVs at once, and will be located up high in isolated places such as “cell towers, light and power poles, church steeples, office buildings, parking decks and other vertical structures.” (Image Credit: YouTube/ X: The Moonshot Factory)
More Info (USA Today)



20 July 2016
NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft Discovers Four Habitable Planets In Star System

Kepler_NASA.pngIn continuing coverage, the Los Angeles Times reports that NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has detected “the largest crop of confirmed exoplanets ever found by the K2 mission,” a set of discoveries that includes “a star system with four small planets that may be rocky, like Earth.” The article explains that in its system, the M dwarf star K2-72 “hosts four planets with diameters that are each between 20% and 50% larger than Earth’s,” and are likely to be rocky. While the four planets are located incredibly close to their star, “their temperatures are probably relatively cool because M dwarfs are relatively cool and dim.” (Image: Artist’s conception of the Kepler space telescope observing planets. Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)



19 July 2016
Airbus Using Drones to Accelerate Aircraft Inspection Process

Drone-Aircraft-Inspection-AIRBUS.png Engadget reports that Airbus showcased a new aircraft inspection method last week at the Farnborough Airshow, “where a drone equipped with an Intel RealSense camera autonomously circled an A330 while rapidly snapping photos.” The article explains that the captured images were then superimposed on a 3D model of the aircraft, allowing inspectors “to get a close, detailed look at the subject.” The article notes that while collecting inspection data manually by hand can take about two hours, using a drone only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. (Image Credit: Airbus)
More Info (Engadget)



19 July 2016
SpaceX Seeks Permission for Two Additional Space Coast Landing Pads

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASA.pngThe Orlando Sentinel reports that SpaceX is seeking federal approval for two additional landing areas at Florida’s Space Coast. The launch provider told the Sentinel that the new areas are required in order to prepare for the possibility of the near-simultaneous landings of three different SpaceX Falcon Heavy boosters. The article explains that the Falcon Heavy will lift off with three first-stage boosters, “and SpaceX hopes to return each booster to separate landing zones at its complex simultaneously.” (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)



18 July 2016
SpaceX Launches Cargo Capsule Toward ISS, Successfully Lands Booster

SpaceXLaunch_July2016_NASA.png Reuters reports that SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 first-stage booster from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early Monday morning, sending its Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station (ISS) carrying almost 5,000 pounds of food, supplies, and equipment, “including a miniature DNA sequencer,” and then landing the booster upright at the launch site. After the launch mission was complete, NASA mission commentator George Diller remarked, “Good launch, good landing, Dragon is on its way.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)



18 July 2016
FAA Releases Final Rule On Small Drones

DJI_Phantom2_AP.jpgIn continuing coverage, Wired reports that the FAA, after months of delay, released its highly-anticipated rule on small commercial drones, representing a significant step toward establishing comprehensive regulations for small unmanned aerial systems and integrating them into the nation’s airspace. Analysts believe the new rule could expand the growth of the nation’s commercial drone industry, catalyze American innovation in the global marketplace, and maintain the technological superiority of US military drones. The FAA expects the rule “could generate more than $82 billion for the US economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.” The rule, which takes effect in August, applies to drones used for commercial purposes and which weigh less than 55 pounds, and it is intended to ensure safety and mitigate the risks UAVs can pose to larger aircraft. The rule does not apply to recreational use of small drones, address privacy or surveillance issues, or deal with larger UAVs. (Image: DJI Phantom 2 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wired)



15 July 2016
Boeing 100-Year Anniversary Reflects Industry Staying Power

Boeing787Dreamliner_WikimediaCommons.jpg Forbes reports that 100 years after William E. Boeing founded Pacific AeroProducts on July 15, 1916, Seattle-based Boeing is now “the biggest builder of commercial and military airplanes in the world.” The article notes that while other aviation pioneers in the early 1900s “had as much drive and imagination as Bill Boeing,” their ventures “ended up being absorbed into other businesses,” with several of the best-known companies being incorporated into Boeing. Noting Boeing’s longevity throughout the years, the article highlights five factors “beyond skill in engineering, financial discipline and economies of scale that set Boeing apart,” including its “culture of excellence,” its ability to adapt to the market, and its focus on diversification. (Image Credit: Dave Sizer via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Forbes)



15 July 2016
DJI Launches UAV Camera With Built-In Optical Zoom

DJI_Phantom4_AP.png The Verge reports that DJI has launched the new Zenmuse Z3 aerial camera for its UAVs, which is the first to feature a built-in optical zoom. According to the article, the Z3 sells for $899, weighs 262 grams, and “can shoot video at 4K at up to 30 frames per second and [capture] images at a resolution of 12-megapixels.” In addition, the UAV-mountable camera has an up to 7x zoom capability, “combining a 3.5x optical zoom and a 2x digital zoom.” The article explains that DJI is marketing the camera mainly as a tool for “industrial applications.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (The Verge)



14 July 2016
Boeing, Airbus Land New Orders On Third Day of Farnborough Airshow

Boeing737Max.jpg USA Today reports that the world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers “continued to rack up orders” on the third day of the Farnborough Airshow. On Wednesday, Boeing disclosed that it has secured orders from Spain’s Air Europa, China’s Ruili Airlines, and EgyptAir. According to the article, Air Europa is buying 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, Ruili is purchasing six 787-9 Dreamliners, and EgyptAir is ordering nine 737s. By comparison, Airbus “was buoyed by a 62-jet order for A320s for Avianca’s Brazil unit.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



14 July 2016
F-35 Program to Test F-35C at Sea On USS George Washington

F35_Wikipedia.jpg Defense News reports that F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said the U.S. Navy’s F-35C jet will conduct its third round of developmental tests on the USS George Washington. Bogdan said the tests will “open up the full envelope of the airplane to land and take off from the carrier” and will include “heavyweight, asymmetric stores, heavy cross winds,” and high sea scenarios. Pilots will also conduct their carrier qualifications at the time. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Defense News)



13 July 2016
Airbus to Cut Production Rate of A380 Super Jumbos Drastically

AirbusA380_wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Airbus disclosed on Tuesday that it is cutting the production rate of its A380 superjumbo jet from 27 units per year in 2015 to just 12 per year starting in 2018 as airline demand for large-sized double-decker aircraft is dwindling. The article explains that while Airbus launched the aircraft to compete against Boeing in the market for super-sized jets, the A380 proved costly and technically difficult to manufacture, causing significant delays and budget overruns. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



13 July 2016
Solar Impulse 2 Arrives In Egypt

SolarImpulse2_Lands_in_Hawaii_AP_2.jpgThe Washington Post reports that the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft departed Seville, Spain, on Monday and arrived in Cairo on Wednesday “as part of its globe-circling voyage.” The article notes that the experimental solar-powered aircraft began its circumnavigation tour in March last year in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates “and is due to finish there, too.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Washington Post)



12 July 2016
House Passes Bill to Boost Airport Security, Extend FAA Programs

AirportSecurity_Dulles_AP-Purchased.pngThe AP reports that the House of Representatives “passed an aviation bill Monday aimed at boosting airport security, reducing screening lines and refunding fees to passengers whose luggage is lost or arrives late.” The bill “authorizes a doubling of Transportation Security Administration teams that stop and search suspicious passengers in airport public areas that are outside the security perimeter,” in response to the Brussels and Istanbul attacks, and also toughens vetting of airport employees with access to secure areas. The bill also extends FAA programs at current funding levels for 14 months, though the Senate must act by Friday “to avoid a partial shutdown of the [FAA].”(Image: A security sign is posted at Air Canada at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 in Chantilly, Va. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



12 July 2016
F-35 Cost-Cutting Program Extended, Second Program Started

F35_Wikipedia.jpgA series of articles primarily focusing on the growing affordability of the F-35 report the U.S. Defense Department announced on Monday that it has provided a two-year extension for the F-35’s Blueprint for Affordability cost-cutting program, which has dropped the cost of each plane by $1 million, and created a new project targeting the costs of operations and maintenance. Reuters (7/11) reports that Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems were all participants in the original program, and collectively pledged to invest $170 million into cost-cutting measures. The costs would then be reimbursed when the savings are verified. The extended program will see the $24 million remaining from the earlier program and up to $170 million more invested into cost-cutting technologies, materials, and processes, while the new program is set to invest up to $250 million as a “bridge” before an upcoming F-35 block buy. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



11 July 2016
NASA, Boeing Working to Develop “Self-Aware” Aircraft

Boeing737Max.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that scientists and researchers in the aviation industry are working to develop “self-aware” aircraft that have the ability to monitor their surrounding environment and make calculated decisions about how to operate safely. NASA and Boeing are currently working jointly to develop the digital system that could potentially become part of the next generation of airliners, pending the approval of the FAA, and support from customers and other regulators. (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



11 July 2016
Virgin Galactic to Restart Flight Tests Next Month

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_Purchased.png Bloomberg News reported that commercial space company Virgin Galactic is scheduled to resume test flights next month after the last flight test two years ago ended in a fatal crash. According to the NTSB’s investigation of the crash, the design company Scaled Composites should have included measures that protected against a flaw that allowed the pilot to prematurely activate a brake, which caused the spaceship to break apart. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



8 July 2016
Lawmakers Announce FAA Extension Bill

AirportSecurity_Dulles_AP-Purchased.pngNews outlets report that U.S. lawmakers announced a 14-month FAA extension on Wednesday. Politico reports that the bill incorporates several parts of the Senate-passed FAA bill, which includes increasing “the number of dogs patrolling unsecure areas in airports, growing TSA’s PreCheck program to improve the flow of travelers at screening checkpoints and creating stricter airport worker vetting requirements.” The article notes that Rep. Bill Shuster’s (R-PA) proposal to privatize the US air traffic control system will “have an uphill climb to convince the myriad tax writers, appropriators and Democrats who opposed his effort that his idea is the kind of change FAA needs – especially given the impact his unyielding stance has had on the contours of this year’s deal.” Aviation Week reports that the extension requires an assessment of the TSA’s staffing approach and “orders the TSA to partner with the private sector to expand the PreCheck expedited screening program.” The extension also aims to “streamline interagency cooperation for using UAS during emergencies, levy fines against UAS users who interfere with government emergency responses and create new ways to detect, identify and mitigate UAS use around airports.” (Image: A security sign is posted at Air Canada at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 in Chantilly, Va. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Politico)



8 July 2016
Lockheed Martin Wins $560 Million Contract To Support Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Production

F35_USAF.jpg Reuters briefly reports that the Department of Defense announced on Thursday that Lockheed Martin has won a $559.5 million contract to support the “production of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.” (Image: This Air Force version of the F-35 Lightning II completed a test flight April 20, 2010, from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Credit: USAF)
More Info (Reuters)



8 July 2016
Editorial: Launch Competition Revolutionizing Space Industry

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgIn an editorial, the Orlando Sentinel states that although some lament that the US is “no longer great,” others such as “astropreneurs” Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are “busy proving it still is.” The Sentinel notes that both Musk and Bezos have “set their sights beyond the horizon with private space initiatives that just a few years ago were the stuff of dreams.” The editorial explains that the competition between Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin is “revolutionizing the space industry,” adding that recent industry innovations come at “a critical juncture as NASA is stalled by uncertainty over its next major mission.” The Sentinel also contends that the modern space race is “now between corporations with profit as an incentive.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)



7 July 2016
Enhanced Soyuz Spacecraft Blasts Off Toward International Space Station

SoyuzMS-01_Launches_July2016_NASA PC Magazine reports that NASA has set “a new flight duration record for its Super Pressure Balloon,” which is used to perform scientific experiments in the upper atmosphere. The latest mission began on May 16 in New Zealand and lasted for almost 47 days until NASA brought it down over a mountainous region in Peru due to altitude variations. NASA’s Balloon Program Office Chief Debbie Fairbrother stated that the mission was “far and away the longest mid-latitude flight of a NASA heavy-lift balloon to date,” adding, “We’ll continue to strive for even longer duration flight, 100 days or more, and what we learn from this year’s mission will help take us there.” (Image Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman)
More Info (PC Magazine)



7 July 2016
NASA Super Pressure Balloon Sets Flight Duration Record

NASA_HighTech_Balloon_NASA.png PC Magazine reports that NASA has set “a new flight duration record for its Super Pressure Balloon,” which is used to perform scientific experiments in the upper atmosphere. The latest mission began on May 16 in New Zealand and lasted for almost 47 days until NASA brought it down over a mountainous region in Peru due to altitude variations. NASA’s Balloon Program Office Chief Debbie Fairbrother stated that the mission was “far and away the longest mid-latitude flight of a NASA heavy-lift balloon to date,” adding, “We’ll continue to strive for even longer duration flight, 100 days or more, and what we learn from this year’s mission will help take us there.” (Image Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman)
More Info (PC Magazine)



7 July 2016
Juno Spacecraft Arrives On-Time at Jupiter, Captures First Footage of Planet Moving Against Jovian Moons

JunoApproachesJupiter_NASA-JPL.jpgIn continuing coverage, USA Today reports that after departing Earth for its cosmic journey five years ago, NASA’s Juno probe “traveled 1.7 billion miles through the solar system and reached its destination within a tick of scientists’ prediction.” Juno Project Manager Rick Nybakken remarked on the spacecraft’s finely timed orbital insertion near Jupiter on Monday, saying, “We hit our burn targets within one second,” adding, “On a target that was just tens of kilometers large. Isn’t that incredible?” Explaining the near-perfect precision of the spaceflight to USA Today, Nybakken said, “With Jupiter they were able to target it a long time ago, and they were just able to anticipate every possible influence on the spacecraft so well that the last time adjusted anything was back in February and they still hit it that precisely.” (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (USA Today)



7 July 2016
DEMAND for UNMANNED Student Competition

StudentDroneCompetition.jpg As part of the DEMAND for UNMANNED symposium held in conjunction with AIAA AVIATION 2016, the AIAA K–12 STEM Committee, led by Tucker Hamilton, presented a concept for a new student competition. Christopher Reynolds, chair of the Aerospace Robotics Competition Working Group of the K–12 STEM Committee, led a group of University of Michigan students in developing an idea for high school students to build and program unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Full Story (AIAA AVIATION 2016 Forum Notebook)



6 July 2016
Juno Spacecraft Settles Into Jupiter’s Orbit, Poised to Unlock Mysteries of Solar System

JunoApproachesJupiter_NASA-JPL.jpgABC World News Tonight reported that NASA’s Juno spacecraft is “now in orbit around Jupiter, after a journey of more than 1.7 billion miles that took five years” to complete, adding that “in spite of those staggering numbers, Juno arrived just one second off” the forecasted arrival time. Reporting from the headquarters of Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, where Juno was built, ABC correspondent Clayton Sandell explained, “Juno hit a target so precise, engineers say it’s like launching a golf ball from New York to LA and getting a hole in one.” The New York Times explained that ahead of its orbital insertion around Jupiter, Juno ignited its core engine for 35 minutes, “slowing it down just enough to be captured by Jupiter’s gravity.” (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (New York Times)
 



6 July 2016
Three F-35A Jets Complete First Transatlantic Crossing Ahead of Air Show Appearance

F-35s_WikimediaCommons.png Popular Mechanics reports that on Thursday, the US Air Force completed its first transatlantic flight with the F-35A, “the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant of the Lightning II used by the USAF.” The article notes that three F-35A jets are set to partake in the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), “one of the largest airshows in the world,” taking place between July 8 and 10 at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. Upon landing his aircraft at RAF Fairford, F-35A Lightning II Heritage Flight Team Commander Major Will Andreotta said, “It’s a milestone,” adding, “It really is an honor to be a part of it. A lot of people have never seen this aircraft. They have read about it, both positive and negative things, and this is our chance to bring the F-35 to the people for the first time.” (Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katerina Slivinske via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Popular Mechanics)
 



6 July 2016
NASA Extends New Horizons Mission to Study Mysterious Object In Kuiper Belt

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgThe Washington Post reports that NASA has officially extended its New Horizons spacecraft mission, funding the probe’s new journey to visit the mysterious object 2014 MU69 by January 1, 2019. NASA’s Director of Planetary Science Jim Green remarked in a statement, “We’re excited to continue onward into the dark depths of the outer solar system to a science target that wasn’t even discovered when the spacecraft launched.” The article explains that 2014 MU69 is situated in the Kuiper Belt, which is believed “to contain objects that formed billions of years ago during the early days of our solar system.” Due to their distance from the sun, objects located in the asteroid belt “contain some pristine relics of the oldest building blocks from which our solar system formed.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Washington Post)
 



5 July 2016
NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Successfully Enters Jupiter’s Orbit

JunoApproachesJupiter_NASA-JPL.jpg CBS News reports that NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on Monday, “surviving hellish radiation and unseen ring debris during a nail-biting 35-minute rocket firing, slowing down just enough to slip into orbit.” The article highlights that while radiation poses a significant threat for the mission, Juno faced no apparent problems during its arrival, “and when signals reached Earth confirming a successful, full-duration burn, mission managers and engineers broke out in cheers and applause.” Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton said, “We just did the hardest thing NASA’s ever done!” and explained that Jupiter has “the strongest magnetic field, it’s spinning the fastest, it has the strongest gravity field, it has the most intense radiation... And we’re flying the fastest of any spacecraft, and we’re carrying these giant solar arrays (and the spacecraft is) spinning.”  (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (CBS News)



5 July 2016
Airlines Invest In Aviation Cybersecurity

RichardClarke_AVIATION2016.png Infosecurity Magazine reports on airline investment in aviation cybersecurity and notes that security researcher Chris Roberts was accused by the FBI last year of hacking into a plane’s controls through the in-flight entertainment system computers, “enabling him to make it fly sideways for a period.” Boeing has said that would be impossible, as flight and navigation systems are separate from in-flight entertainment computers. (Image: Richard A. Clarke, chairman and CEO, Good Harbor Security Risk Management LLC, delivers keynote address on, "Cybersecurity,” on the morning of 15 June, at AVIATION 2016, taking place 13-17 June in Washington, DC.)
More Info (Infosecurity Magazine)



5 July 2016
London Police Weighing Use of UAVs to Chase Thieves On Motorcycles

DJIPhantom4_WikimediaCommons.pngThe London Evening Standard reports that the Metropolitan Police Service in London is evaluating the use of UAVs to pursue thieves riding motorcycles through the streets of the British capital. The article explains that Scotland Yard has begun a review of pursuit tactics after a jury determined that 18-year-old Henry Hicks, who had not been involved in a theft, was “trying to flee police in two unmarked cars” when he fatally crashed his moped during a high-speed chase. Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey “said crime involving thieves on two wheels was rising but that police face difficulties in tackling moped gangs due to the dangers of pursuing them.” He also “said the Met was reviewing all its options and considering all available tactics, including the use of drones.” (Image Credit: Doodybutch via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (London Evening Standard)



1 July 2016
Juno Spacecraft En Route to Fourth of July Encounter With Jupiter

Industry_News/JunoApproachesJupiter_NASA-JPL.jpg CBS News reports that following the transmission of NASA’s last set of commands on Thursday, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is quickly accelerating on a path toward Jupiter, “reaching a record velocity of some 165,000 mph before a critical 35-minute rocket firing July 4 to slow down enough to slip into orbit.” In a statement, Juno Mission Manager Ed Hirst said, “A couple of days ago, we pressurized the whole system so that the engine is ready to go, all the pipes and valves are all ready,” adding, “Today, we’re sending the last commands up to the spacecraft and once those commands are sent, it’ll be hands off from the team here on the ground.” (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (CBS News)



1 July 2016
Pilots: F-35 Can Outperform All Other Aircraft

F35_Wikipedia.jpg Scout reported that in an interview, F-35 pilot Lt. Col. Matt Hayden opined that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is superior to all other fighter jets, saying, “There is nothing that I have seen from maneuvering an F-35 in a tactical environment that leads me to assume that there is any other airplane I would rather be in.” The article adds that several other F-35 pilots are “clear in their resolve” that the F-35 multi-role fighter can outperform “any other platform in existence.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Scout)



1 July 2016
AIAA DEMAND for UNMANNED Puts Focus on Drone Technology and Research

Industry_News/DJI_Phantom2_AP.jpgSome of the most influential names in the drone and aviation industries participated in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) inaugural DEMAND for UNMANNED symposium, 15–16 June, in Washington, DC. Issues ranging from regulation to autonomy were discussed in a series of panel sessions and keynote addresses. More than 250 engineers, developers and pilots attended the symposium, which was held in conjunction with the AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition 2016 (AIAA AVIATION 2016). AIAA plans to hold the event annually. (Image: DJI Phantom 2 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (AIAA AVIATION 2016 Forum Notebook)



30 June 2016
New Artificial Intelligence Able to Beat Human Pilots In Dogfight

AerialManoeuvring_Wiki.png Forbes reported that researchers with artificial intelligence (AI) company Psibernetix have developed a new AI named ALPHA that is capable of defeating human pilots in aerial combat. According to a new report published in the Journal of Defense Management, retired Air Force Colonel Gene Lee said following his first test against ALPHA, “It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment.” While experienced pilots are usually able to defeat most AI opponents, Lee “couldn’t score a single kill and was repeatedly shot out of the air.” Lee, who is an expert in combat tactics, said that ALPHA is “the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I’ve seen to date.” (Image: Aerial Manoeuvring. Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Forbes)



29 June 2016
U.S. Airports Increase Security Following Attacks at Istanbul Airport

AirportSecurity_Dulles_AP-Purchased.pngThere was widespread coverage on Tuesday of the terrorist attack at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, which is widely suspected to have been perpetrated by ISIL. All three news networks, NBC Nightly News (6/28, lead story, 2:25), ABC World News Tonight (6/28, lead story, 2:55), and CBS Evening News (6/28, lead story, 2:25) led with reports on the attacks. CBS News reports online that “additional police officers are being deployed to airports across the U.S.” The article mentions that a statement was released saying, “Reagan National and Dulles International airports have a robust security structure, both publicly visible and behind the scenes.” (Image: A security sign is posted at Air Canada at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 in Chantilly, Va. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (CBS News)



28 June 2016
Aerospace, Defense Sector Express Concern Over Brexit Impact

RollsRoyceJetEngine_AP-Purchased.png CNBC reports that major aerospace and defense companies are calling on the UK to move quickly “to arrange clear trading relationships or risk losing business.” In a statement on Friday, Rolls-Royce, which employs 23,000 workers in the UK and another 14,000 across Europe, “warned the longer impact of Brexit is as yet unclear,” saying, “The medium and long-term effect will depend upon the relationships that are established between the U.K., the EU and the rest of the world over the coming years.” Echoing similar sentiments, Paul Everitt, CEO of industry trade association ADS Group, said, “The aerospace, defense, security and space industries will work with government to minimize the negative impacts of the decision to leave the EU, creating an environment in which these strategically important sectors can continue to prosper.”(Image: Visitors walk next to the Rolls Royce jet engine of a Qatar Airways Airbus A380, at the Paris Air Show, June 18, 2015 Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (CNBC)



28 June 2016
Drones Interfering With Wildfire Fighting Efforts Becomes National Issue

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommons.jpg Ars Technica reports the Monrovia Fire Department had to temporarily ground all fire-fighting aircraft on Sunday morning after a few private drones were spotted flying in the aircraft’s’ path above the San Gabriel Mountain wildfire. These drones not only stall fire-fighting efforts but also put the lives of crew members at risk. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Temporary Flight Restriction over the area. Drone operators found violating the restriction could face serious fines. (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Ars Technica)



28 June 2016
NASA Testing World’s Most Powerful Rocket Ahead of 2018 Launch

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASA.jpg Wired reports that NASA is conducting a second and final round of qualification testing for the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) booster on Tuesday morning at Orbital ATK’s facilities in Utah “to determine whether SLS is ready to send the Orion spacecraft on the first leg of Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), an unmanned mission planned for 2018.” The article explains that EM-1 needs the SLS, “the most powerful rocket in the world,” in order to launch the Orion capsule 40,000 miles beyond the moon, “which is further than any spacecraft built for humans has ever gone.”  (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wired)



27 June 2016
Aircraft Manufacturers Respond to Brexit Vote

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.png Reuters reported that in a statement on Friday following the UK’s vote to exit the EU, Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders said that the decision was a blow, but called on Britain to focus on staying competitive once it leaves the EU. The article noted that while Airbus has previously “said its UK operations will not be affected any time soon,” it has also “has warned it could reconsider its position in the country in the long term.” On Friday, Airbus shares declined 6%, “but avoided the worst of the post-referendum turmoil on financial markets as analysts cited the short-term benefits of a stronger dollar, making its planes more competitive against U.S. rival Boeing.” (Image Credit: Don-vip via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



27 June 2016
ULA Launches First Atlas Rocket Since March Grounding

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA.pngThe AP reported that for the first time in three months, on Friday United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully delivered a Navy communications satellite into orbit atop of its unmanned Atlas V booster, which has been grounded since March, when a fuel-valve issue developed during an International Space Station (ISS) cargo delivery launch mission. The article noted that the mission payload was “the fifth in a series of advanced Navy communication satellites for use by the U.S. military worldwide.”  (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



27 June 2016
FAA Releases Updated UAS Rules

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgIn continuing coverage of the release of the new commercial UAS regulations from FAA this past week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the new rules will not only allow for greater development and activity in the commercial UAS space but set the legal precedent necessary to usher in a new era of technology in the nation’s airspace. The Journal pointed out that the agency plans to spend $150 million at the minimum through 2020 in order to hire new employees to implement the rules. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



24 June 2016
Airbus Says UK Exit From EU “Wake-Up Call” for Europe

AirbusA320Neo_AP_Purchased.png Flightglobal reports that Airbus said that the UK’s decision to exit the EU “should be seen as a wake-up call for Europe and as a catalyst for change.” The article notes that the France-based aircraft manufacturer, which maintains operations in the UK, “had strongly backed the UK’s membership of the EU ahead of the 23 June referendum,” and had previously “warned that a UK exit from the EU would present long-term economic risks,” Airbus said, “We will work constructively with the UK government to minimise any impact on our operations,” adding, “Clearly we will continue to support our workforce and operate our UK facilities. We will study the longer-term consequences of this decision on the competitive environment. (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 (Flightglobal)



24 June 2016
Solar Impulse 2 Lands In Spain After Three-Day Transatlantic Flight

SolarImpulse2_Lands_in_Spain_23June16_AP-purchased.png 24 June 2016
Reuters reports that the solar powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2 landed in Seville, Spain early Thursday morning following a three-day transatlantic flight from New York City in “one of the longest legs of the first ever fuel-less flight around the world.” After landing the solar-powered aircraft, Swiss aviator Bertrand Piccard, who alternates piloting the plane with compatriot Andre Borschberg, said, “Oh-la-la, absolutely perfect.” (Image: Pilot Bertrand Piccard, celebrates after landing the solar-powered plane at San Pablo airport in Seville, Spain Thursday, June 23, 2016. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)



23 June 2016
India Sends 20 Satellites Into Orbit With Single Launch

ISRO_Launch_22June2016.png Bloomberg News reports that India successfully launched 20 satellites into space atop a single booster on Wednesday, demonstrating the country’s technological prowess as it “touts its low-cost space program to lure customers frustrated by a global backlog.” The 20-satellite launch marks India’s largest-ever payload ferried into orbit, “trailing Russia’s 33 in 2014 and NASA’s 29 the year before.”  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



23 June 2016
Boeing Says It Is On Schedule to Launch Starliner In Early 2018

Boeing_CST-100.jpg Ars Technica highlights its visit to Boeing’s offices in the Houston area and the ongoing development of the aerospace giant’s Starliner spacecraft, which is in a race against the SpaceX Dragon capsule to be the first commercial vehicle to send astronauts into space as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program. Speaking about the development of the Starliner during the visit, retired NASA astronaut and Boeing CST-100 Director of Crew and Mission Operations Chris Ferguson, the last person to command a space shuttle, said, “If everything goes well, we’ll meet our schedule.” Later during the visit, Ars spoke with Boeing’s Space Exploration Vice President and General Manager John Elbon, who similarly said, “The schedule we have now laid out is one which we have a legitimate chance of making. I can’t speak to what the other guys do.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Ars Technica)



22 June 2016
FAA Issues Commercial Drone Regulations

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe New York Times reports that the FAA issued its long-awaited commercial drone regulations on Tuesday, allowing a wide range of businesses to use drones weighing less than 55 pounds for a slew of different purposes, “but with several restrictions.” According to the new rules, a drone may be operated only by “a pilot who has passed a written test and is at least 16 years old,” and “can only be flown below 400 feet, during the day, and at least five miles away from airports.” In addition, the new regulations do not allow for the use of drones to deliver packages, a key goal of Google and Amazon, “which have pushed the F.A.A. to create rules that would transfer much of their ground-based delivery system to the sky.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)



20 June 2016
NASA Announces Development of All-Electric Aircraft at AIAA AVIATION 2016

Bolden_AVIATION2016.pngThe New York Times reported that during AIAA AVIATION 2016 in Washington, DC, on Friday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden unveiled plans for a fully electric-powered aircraft, X-57, “part of the agency’s efforts to make aviation more efficient and less of a polluter.” In his announcement of the new aircraft, Bolden said, “The X-57 will take the first giant step in opening a new era of aviation.” According to the Times, NASA hopes that “the technology can be incorporated into smaller, general-aviation and commuter aircraft some years from now.” AIAA’s Aerospace America also covered the story. (Image Credit: AIAA)
More Info (New York Times)
More Info (Aerospace America)



20 June 2016
Collaboration, Coordination Key to Successful Supersonic Flight Testing Program

HypersonicsFlightTestPanel_AVIATION2016.pngCommunication and collaboration between flight test engineers and test pilots was significant in developing hypersonic flight — from the early X-1 and X-15 rocket planes to the progression of the now retired shuttle program — and will remain so into the future, aerospace industry experts agreed June 17 at the final session of AIAA AVIATION 2016 in Washington, DC. (Image Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AIAA AVIATION 2016 Forum Notebook)



17 June 2016
Tomorrow’s Drones Are Amazing, but Obstacles Exist

LilyCameraDroneDrones that essentially fly themselves are available now, but there are obstacles, and the future needs humans working with drones, experts said June 16 at the 2016 AIAA Demand for Unmanned Symposium in Washington, D.C. In the panel, “Visions of the Future,” Andrew Lacher, UAS integration research strategist for Mitre, showed examples of what the future of drones looks like. (Image: The Lily Camera drone.
Credit: Associated Press–©).
Full Story (AVIATION 2016 Forum Notebook)



17 June 2016
Aircraft Designs Test the Limits of Regulation, CFD Software Simulation

AircraftDesignandTestingPanel_AVIATION2016Aeronautics technology has advanced beyond what FAA regulations were originally written to cover, and although computational fluid dynamics has helped reduce the cost and time burden of aircraft testing, it is not yet a finished science, experts said June 16 during the panel “Aircraft Design and Testing: Today and Tomorrow” at AIAA AVIATION 2016 in Washington, D.C.  (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Aircraft Design and Testing: Today and Tomorrow,” on the afternoon of 16 June, at AVIATION 2016, in Washington, DC. Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AVIATION 2016 Forum Notebook)



16 June 2016
Fresh Hope for General Aviation Community

GregoryBowles_AVIATION2016The general aviation industry has been hampered by an out-of-date FAA certification rule that has driven up the costs of aircraft and too-often stifled innovation, but a solution could be on the way, said experts June 16 at AIAA AVIATION 2016 in Washington, DC. A rewritten part 23 rule covering aircraft up to 19 passengers will be in place by the end of the year, predicted Greg Bowles of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Full Story (AVIATION 2016 Forum Notebook)



16 June 2016
John Langford: UAS Industry Is Growing, and Focus Needs to Shift

JohnLangford_AVIATION2016The unmanned aerial system industry has outpaced the growth of the general aviation business, and now is the time to work on the details of this revolution with the help of new stakeholders, John Langford said June 16 at the 2016 AIAA Demand for Unmanned Symposium in Washington, DC.  In the session, “Ascent of Unmanned,” Langford, chairman and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., said people are “entranced” by the UAS because it provides a different reality. But with a new reality comes concerns.



16 June 2016
SpaceX Rocket Delivers Satellites Into Orbit, Suffers Hard Landing During Recovery Attempt

Falcon9Descends_Jan2016_WikimediaCommons.png Fox News reports that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday morning, “successfully deploying two communications satellites into orbit but failing to land the rocket’s first stage on a floating barge.” In a Twitter post, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that the drone ship landing was perhaps the “hardest impact to date.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Fox News)



15 June 2016
Cyberattacks Are a Constant Threat That Keeps Changing

RichardClarke_AVIATION2016.pngFormer national counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke returned to AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition in Washington, D.C., on June 15, to speak on the same topic he’d discussed in 2013: cybersecurity. And the problem seemed as unchanged as ever, with Clarke holding a copy of The Wall Street Journal in his hand and scanning fresh headlines about the Russian government breaching the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and North Korean hackers stealing wing designs for U.S. F-15 fighters from Korean Air Lines. (Image: Richard A. Clarke, chairman and CEO, Good Harbor Security Risk Management LLC, delivers keynote address on, "Cybersecurity,” on the morning of 15 June, at AVIATION 2016, taking place 13-17 June in Washington, DC.)
Full Story (AIAA AVIATION 2016 Notebook)



15 June 2016
Resilience and Technology Are the Keys to the Future of U.S. Military Aviation

OHanlon_AVIATION2016.pngU.S. military aviation faces a number of challenges, including a declining national infrastructure and industrial base, lengthy acquisition process times, tightening budgets, and a rapid proliferation of technological advancements around the world that are beginning to challenge America’s longstanding military edge. Despite these hurdles, panelists addressing “The Future of Military Aviation” June 14 at AIAA AVIATION 2016 in Washington, DC, said U.S. military aviation will remain paramount to the security of the nation for the foreseeable future. (Image: Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, comments during the panel discussion, "The Future of Military Aviation,” 14 June, at AVIATION 2016, taking place 13-17 June in Washington, DC)
Full Story (AIAA AVIATION 2016 Notebook)



14 June 2016
Rep. Steve Knight: Winning the Next Aeronautical Race Requires Help From Congress

SteveKnight_AVIATION2016Congress has a history of stepping up in worry for aviation and space research. After all, Congress founded NASA’s predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in 1915 out of concern that Germany, Great Britain and France had more advanced warplanes than the United States. NASA itself was formed a year after the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik 1, which stirred fear in the U.S. that it was falling behind in the race to space. (Image Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (AIAA AVIATION 2016 Notebook)



13 June 2016
ULA Rocket Successfully Launches NRO Payload Into Orbit

DeltaIVHeavyLaunch_USAF.png USA Today reported that a US “spy satellite” was carried into orbit on Saturday by a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral. Amateur observers “who study [National Reconnaissance Office] NRO missions believe this one, labeled NROL-37, was lifting a heavy eavesdropping satellite known as a Mentor or Advanced Orion.” (Image Credit: USAF)
More Info (USA Today)



13 June 2016
Globe-Trotting Solar Aircraft Flies Over Statue Of Liberty, Lands at JFK Airport

SolarImpulse2_over_SF_Apr2016_AP-PurchasedThe New York Times reported that during the fourteenth leg of its journey circumnavigating the globe, the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft “soared” above New York Harbor early Saturday morning before landing at nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport. The solar-powered aircraft, which took off on its “hopscotching” mission in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi, is flown alternatively by Swiss compatriots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, who piloted the aircraft on Saturday. (Image: Solar Impulse 2 flies over San Francisco, Saturday, April 23, 2016. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)



10 June 2016
ULA Scrubs Delta IV Heavy Launch with NRO Payload Due to Storms

ULA_Nov2010_Wiki.jpg Florida Today reports that storms delayed the scheduled Thursday launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket until Saturday. The United Launch Alliance’s booster will carry a surveillance satellite into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). USA Today (6/9) explains that the Delta IV Heavy, “the most powerful rocket available today,” is required to send the NRO payload, suspected to weigh around 15,000 pounds, to an altitude of more than 22,000 miles above the equator. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Florida Today)



9 June 2016
ULA Set to Launch NRO Surveillance Satellite Today

ULA_Nov2010_Wiki.jpgIn continuing coverage, USA Today reports that United Launch Alliance’s powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket is set to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday afternoon, carrying a classified surveillance satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). According to the article, amateur spacecraft trackers who have examined prior NRO missions suggest that the satellite “is likely the seventh of a type called Mentor or Advanced Orion.” Canada-based observer Ted Molczan said, “We certainly don’t know in detail what these spacecraft look like, we don’t know exactly what they’re doing. But we can guess that it’s some kind [of] eavesdropping.” In order to maintain the secrecy of the mission, “Thursday’s full launch window has not been released, and ULA will black out its launch broadcast about five minutes into the flight.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)



9 June 2016
Passenger Drone Testing to Begin In Nevada

EHang184_AP2_Purchased.jpgThe NPR “Two-Way” blog reports that the state of Nevada and Chinese aerospace company EHang plan to test the “world’s first passenger drone capable of autonomously carrying a person in the air for 23 minutes” later this year. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems agreed last month to “help guide EHang through the FAA regulatory process with the ultimate goal of achieving safe flight,” the GOED statement said. The EHang 184 premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas, Nevada. There is doubt however that “drone taxis” will become a reality in the near future, considering that “fully autonomous road vehicles are unlikely to be widely available until the middle of next decade.”(Image: EHang 184. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (NPR "Two Way" blog)



9 June 2016
Blue Origin to Perform Fourth Reusable Rocket Launch In June

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOrigin.png SPACE reports that Blue Origin’s founder Jeff Bezos has disclosed that the commercial space venture company plans to conduct the most ambitious test mission thus far of its reusable rockets by the end of June. In an emailed newsletter disseminated on June 3, Bezos wrote, “We’re planning to demonstrate the redundancies built into the capsule on this re-flight of the vehicle by intentionally failing one drogue and one main parachute during descent,” adding, “The crew capsule is equipped with a two-stage crushable structure that absorbs landing loads, along with seats that use a passive energy-absorbing mechanism to reduce peak loads to the occupant.” In addition, the mission is also intended to “further test and demonstrate the reusability of the overall New Shepard system, and allow detailed data about how the rocket and capsule maneuver to be gathered.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
More Info (SPACE)



8 June 2016
SpaceX Looking to Relaunch First Successfully Landed Reusable Rocket This Fall

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgThe Los Angeles Times reports that on Tuesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company is aiming to relaunch the first of its four recovered Falcon 9 rockets in either September or October. SpaceX has previously indicated that the first booster that landed on a sea barge would be the first booster to lift off once again. Additionally, the space company has also “said a number of customers have already expressed interest in launching their payloads on a reusable rocket,” including Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES, which launched “one of its satellites aboard a Falcon 9 three months ago and has a contract with SpaceX to launch six more.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)



8 June 2016
ULA Set to Deliver Surveillance Satellite Into Orbit Atop Delta 4-Heavy Rocket

ULA_Nov2010_Wiki.jpg Spaceflight Now reports that one of the largest satellites in the world is set to launch into orbit atop of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta 4-Heavy booster on Thursday, “riding that power to a listening post 22,300 miles above the planet for its clandestine eavesdropping mission” for the National Reconnaissance Office. (NRO). While the rocket is scheduled to lift off in the early afternoon, meteorologists predict a possibility of showers and thunderstorms, decreasing the probability of acceptable launch conditions to 40 percent. The article notes that the Delta 4-Heavy rocket is “capable of delivering 14,900 pounds of payload into a circular geosynchronous orbit,” the most of any booster model operating today. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)



7 June 2016
ISS Astronauts Enter Inflatable Space Room

JeffWilliams_Works_Inside_BEAM_June2016_NASA.pngThe AP reports that astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) opened the doors to the first inflatable space room on Monday and “floated inside.” The AP notes that the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) arrived at the ISS in April and was inflated to its full size in late May. NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, who was first to enter the space room, “said it was pristine but cold inside.” NASA Mission Control “said the temperature registered 44 degrees, as anticipated, at one end of the 13-foot-long, 10 ½ -foot-wide chamber.” According to the article, Williams and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka “collected air samples, took expansion measurements and made sure the air-pressurization tanks were empty, before exiting and closing the door behind them.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



7 June 2016
Sikorsky Successfully Tests DARPA Autonomous Helicopter Flight Project

Sikorsky_S-76_WikimediaCommons.png C4ISR & Networks reports that a “Sikorsky S-76 helicopter flew 30 miles while being operated by controllers on the ground, in a demonstration flight of DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program.” The report notes that “the flight marked the completion of Phase I of the $8 million DARPA contract for ALIAS, which aims to automate many cockpit functions.” A Sikorsky press release said, “This flight highlighted the ability for an operator to plan and execute every phase of an autonomous mission with a tablet device.” (Image Credit: James from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (C4ISR & Networks)



7 June 2016
U.S. Reportedly Moving Closer to Clearing Private Moon Mission

MoonExpressMX-1Lander_NASA.pngIn continuing coverage, the Los Angeles Times reports that commercial space venture company Moon Express is moving toward receiving US government approval to land its MX-1 spacecraft on the moon “in a regulatory move that might help open space exploration beyond Earth orbit to private firms.” According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, the FAA may officially approve the project within the next few weeks. Moon Express said in a statement that while it could not delve into the details of the “groundbreaking developments,” it is “very optimistic” about its project. The article adds that the MX-1 lunar lander is slated “to blast off in 2017 on Los Angeles-based Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)



6 June 2016
Qatar Airways Cancels First A320neo Order Due to Delays, CEO Says

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.png Reuters reported that on Friday, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker disclosed that the carrier has canceled its first order for the Airbus A320neo aircraft over delays caused by engine issues. Speaking to reporters at the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Dublin, Al Baker said, “We are 5 aircraft down this summer. This is why we are screaming because it is making a huge impact on my bottom line,” adding, “We are still at an impasse. We have walked away from our first A320neo because [it is] more than a certain number of days late, so [we] exercised a walk away clause.” (Image Credit: Don-vip via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



6 June 2016
Blue Origin Lands NASA Deal For Suborbital Research Flights

Bezos_Garver_at_BlueOrigin_NASA.pngIn continuing coverage, Fox News reported that Blue Origin has secured a contract to conduct suborbital flights for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, “which tests how emerging technologies perform to see if they might be useful on current and future missions.” With the deal, Blue Origin joins five other space ventures in the program, including Virgin Galactic, World View Enterprises, Masten Space Systems, Near Space Corporation, and UP Aerospace. Associate Administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Steve Jurczyk said, “Adding additional flight providers enables NASA and the broader aerospace community to demonstrate and transition space technologies, developing new capabilities faster and, potentially, at lower cost.” (Image: NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver meets Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos next to Blue Origin's crew capsule along with other Blue Origin team members. 8 Dec. 2011. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Fox News)



6 June 2016
FAA Senior UAS Adviser Says Agency Could Put Limit On Max Speed, Altitude of Drones

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that FAA Senior Advisor on UAS Integration Marke “Hoot” Gibson “said FAA officials could announce new small-drone commercial use rules within the next few weeks” that would “apply to unmanned aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds” and possibly “include provisions that would limit drone flights to daytime hours, speeds of 100 mph or slower, and an altitude ceiling below 500 feet.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)



3 June 2016
Two Military Demonstration Jets Crash In Tennessee, Colorado

BlueAngelTakeOff_Wiki.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that two military demonstration jets crashed in separate incidents in Tennessee and Colorado on Thursday. The US Navy confirmed that an F/A-18 Hornet from its demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, went down close to an airfield in Smyrna, Tennessee, while partaking in practice exercises ahead of a Saturday airshow. In Colorado, an F-16 fighter jet went down near Peterson Air Force Base during the Air Force Academy graduation, where President Obama delivered the commencement address.  (Image Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Hight, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



3 June 2016
Musk Predicts Humans On Mars In Nine Years

HumansOnMars_Wiki.pngThe AP reports that during an interview on Wednesday at the Code Conference in southern California, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk relayed that humans could land on Mars within the next nine years, saying that “we should be able to launch people in 2024, with arrival in 2025.” In addition, Musk intimated that he is planning to participate in a spaceflight mission himself in about four or five years that would only orbit Earth. (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)



2 June 2016
FAA To Test Anti-UAV Defense System At US Airports

anti-UAV-Defense-System-Blighter.png BBC News reports that the FAA is testing “a UK-developed system capable of jamming signals to small drones” as part of an expanded effort “to source technology that can detect small, unmanned aerial vehicles near airports.” The Anti-UAV Defense System (AUDS) was created by British developers Enterprise Control Systems, Blighter Surveillance Systems and Chess Dynamics. According to FAA Senior Advisor Marke “Hoot” Gibson, “Sometimes people fly drones in an unsafe manner. ... Government and industry share responsibility for keeping the skies safe, and we’re pleased these three companies have taken on this important challenge.” BBC News notes that US-based firms Gryphon Sensors LLC and Sensofusion will also participate in the trials. (Image Credit: Blighter)
More Info (BBC News)



2 June 2016
Orbital ATK Completes Successful Antares Rocket Test at Wallops Island

Antares_WallopsLaunch_Wiki.pngThe Washington Post reports that on Tuesday, Orbital ATK performed “a successful full-power test of the of the upgraded first stage propulsion system of its Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.” Over the next two weeks, engineers will examine testing data to determine whether all test parameters were met. If confirmed, the spaceflight company “will resume cargo resupply services to the International Space Station from the Wallops Flight Facility in July.” (Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



1 June 2016
Airbus A320neo With LEAP-1As Receives EASA/FAA Certification

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.png Air Transport World reports that Airbus President & CEO Fabrice Brégier announced Tuesday that the Airbus A320neo operating with LEAP-1A engines has received joint EASA/FAA certification. The “on-schedule type certification” followed the certification of airworthiness of the aircraft variant using the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared turbofan. The first aircraft with the LEAP engines will be delivered mid-year. (Image Credit: Don-vip via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Air Transport World)



1 June 2016
European Manufacturer Plans for Turboprop Comeback In U.S.

ATR72-500_wiki.png USA Today reports that European aircraft manufacturer ATR is planning a U.S. comeback for turboprops. During a visit to Dulles International Airport, ATR CEO Patrick de Castelbajac said, “We know we’re not very well known here in the U.S.” The article notes that turboprops were once common at small U.S. airports, particularly for flights “connecting passengers to hub airports on routes of about 300 miles or less.” The article mentions that the low operating cost of turboprops gives them “an advantage on sub-300-mile routes like State College, Pa.-to-Washington Dulles or Abilene, Texas-to-Dallas/Fort Worth.” (Image: CCM ATR 72–500. Credit: Mili99 via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)



1 June 2016
China Says First Stealth Warplane Soon to Debut, Enter Active Service

Chinese-J20_YouTube.png Reuters reports that on Tuesday, China’s air force said that it is still conducting tests on its first stealth fighter jet, the J-20, but added that the aircraft would soon be put into service, after reports in Chinese media suggested that the warplane was already partaking in formal training exercises. In its official microblog, the air force stated, “At present, the J-20 has yet to be equipped for air force service,” adding, “In the near future, the J-20 and Y-20 will, in succession, be equipped for service, effectively raising the air force’s ability to fulfill its mission.”  (Image Credit: Video Film Files/ YouTube)
More Info (Reuters)



31 May 2016
NASA Successfully Inflates Experimental Space Habitat

BEAM_Inflated_NASA.pngThe AP reported that NASA successfully inflated the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) at the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, “producing the world’s first pump-it-up compartment for astronauts.” The article explained that NASA astronauts spent seven hours “opening and closing an air valve to expand the compartment,” which eventually swelled to “the volume equivalent to a small bedroom.” Following the operation, Bigelow Aerospace, creator of the experimental room, tweeted, “A significant milestone has been accomplished.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



31 May 2016
SpaceX Completes Fourth Successful Rocket Landing

Falcon9Lands_wiki.pngThe Washington Post reported that SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on Friday evening, sending a Thaicom commercial communications satellite into orbit, and subsequently “pulled off another stunning landing on a ship 422 miles off the Florida coast that was broadcast in real time on its website.” Although SpaceX had hedged its bets on successfully landing the spent rocket, given the long travel distance, the webcast “showed the rocket screaming back from space, its engines firing to slow it down,” until it was “standing triumphantly once again.” The article added that after the rocket had settled vertically on the sea barge, eight minutes after liftoff, a SpaceX webcast commentator said, “Falcon 9 has landed!” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



27 May 2016
SpaceX Delays Thursday Launch, Landing Attempt Until Today

Thaicom8_SpaceX.png Business Insider reports that SpaceX scrubbed the launch attempt of its fifth rocket mission of the year on Thursday, and announced that it was postponing the liftoff of its Falcon 9 booster “until no earlier than tomorrow” due to technical issues. The rocket is now set to blast off on Friday from the Florida Space Coast, “carrying a communications satellite called Thaicom 8 that weighs nearly 7,000 pounds.” Once deployed into orbit, the Orbital ATK-developed satellite “will provide TV and Internet services to Southeast Asia” on behalf of Thailand’s first satellite company Thaicom. (Image: THAICOM 8. Credit: SpaceX
More Info (Business Insider)



27 May 2016
Two Navy Jets Collide Off North Carolina Coast

FA18SuperHornet_Wiki.jpgNews outlets report that two F/A-18 Super Hornets collided mid-air off the coast of North Carolina. ABC World News Tonight reported that that the Coast Guard and commercial fishermen were able to pull out all four of the crew members from the water. ABC News (5/26) adds that the Coast Guard said in a news release, “A good Samaritan fishing vessel crew rescued four survivors following a plane collision 25 miles east of Oregon Inlet, North Carolina.” (Image: A US Navy (USN) F/A-18F Super Hornet. Credit: U.S. Navy)
More Info (ABC News)



26 May 2016
Watch SpaceX Launch Live at 5:40 p.m. EDT

Thaicom8_SpaceX.pngSpaceX’s Falcon 9 is set to launch the Thaicom 8 communications satellite this evening at 5:40 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The booster’s first stage is then set to return to Earth and attempt to land on a robotic ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Watch it all live courtesy of SpaceX. (Image: THAICOM 8. Credit: SpaceX)
Watch Launch (SpaceX)



26 May 2016
Entrepreneurs Interested In UAVs’ Commercial Possibilities

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe New York Times reports that entrepreneurs are uncovering ways to use UAVs “as the core of their business ideas.” The Times describes how the co-founders of HoneyComb are using UAVs to “scout fields for irrigation and pest problems.” Instead of farmers scouting for problems on foot at the rate of 10 acres an hour, HoneyComb’s AgDrone “can cover 700 acres an hour, producing 2-D and 3-D maps that can be used to assess most aspects of crop health.” According to The Times, starting a new business centered on UAVs is challenging, because of the difficulties of obtaining venture financing and a commercial exemption from the FAA. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)



26 May 2016
More Fire Departments Using UAVs, Despite Controversies

Ikhana_WildfireImagingFlight_NASA.png WRC-TV Washington reports that more fire departments across the country are using UAVs, “though there are some controversies and hurdles surrounding their use.” Santa Clara Fire Chief Bill Kelly said that UAVs provide a “vantage point” that “helps us figure out tactical methods, like where to put the hose stream.” According to WRC-TV, CalFire does not own its UAVs, but “the state agency borrows U.S. Forest Service-owned, military-grade drones that can fly above 10,000 feet to document how large fires have spread, find hot spots and survey damage.” CalFire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said the agency is studying “where a non-military-grade drone...would be of practical use” but acknowledges the challenges UAVs present, such as getting “in the way of large firefighting helicopters dousing the fires with buckets of water.” (Image: NASA's Ikhana unmanned aircraft on a Southern California wildfires imaging mission. Credit: Jim Ross/NASA)
More Info (WRC-TV Washington)



25 May 2016
Airbus Receives Patent For What Would Be World’s Fastest Helicopter

Eurocopter_Wiki.jpgThe Daily Mail reports that Airbus has been awarded a US patent for the “Compound Helicopter,” which claims to be “the fastest helicopter in the world.” Illustrations indicate a “unique design with components found in fixed-wing airplanes, two Rolls Royce Turbomeca RTM322 series engines and technology that transforms the copter into an airplane.” The patent describes the aircraft as a “high speed, long range hybrid helicopter that maxes out at speeds of 293 miles per hour.” The fastest helicopter on the market today is the US Army’s CH-47F Chinook, which can reach a speed of 195 miles per hour. There is no guarantee that this aircraft will be manufactured, but “if Airbus...does get one out of production it will beat the army issued vehicle by almost 100 miles per hour.” (Image: Eurocopter X3 at the ILA Berlin 2012. Credit: Bernd.Brincken via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Daily Mail)



25 May 2016
Boeing Pushing Advanced Super Hornet Upgrades

FA18SuperHornet_Wiki.jpgThe U.S. Naval Institute reports that Boeing is “still pushing for conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit system and a new engine” as add-ons for the US Navy’s Advanced Super Hornet program, which would upgrade F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18G Vice President and Program Manager Dan Gillian said the company is looking to determine what the units need “based on what the carrier air wing needs in the ‘20s and ‘30s – and that means a complementary way to F-35.” Gillian added that while the proposed Advanced Super Hornets feature fewer upgrades than in 2013, when it had “an enclosed weapons pod” and “internal IRST,” the company has shifted from what the units could be to “what we think Advanced Super Hornet needs to be to fill out the carrier air wing.” (Image: A US Navy (USN) F/A-18F Super Hornet. Credit: U.S. Navy)
More Info (U.S. Naval Institute)



25 May 2016
SpaceX, ULA to Launch Rockets Nine Days Apart from Cape Canaveral

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX are preparing to launch three rockets within a 30-day timeframe from Cape Canaveral. SpaceX previously launched a rocket into space on May 5, and is planning to launch a broadcasting satellite for a company based in Thailand on its Falcon 9 rocket this Thursday, May 26. SpaceX will again attempt to land the rocket on a sea barge after releasing its payload into orbit. Nine days later on June 4, ULA intends to launch a rocket for a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. Industry experts predict that the rate of launches will continue increasing “as companies experiment with rocket reusability.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)



24 May 2016
India Enters Space Race Against Musk, Bezos With Launch Of First Reusable Spacecraft

RLV-TD_ISRO.png Fox News reports that India successfully launched a miniature model of a reusable spacecraft on Monday, “marking the latest milestone for the country’s space program.” According to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) mini-shuttle lifted off atop of a HS9 rocket from the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Sriharikota, ascending to a peak altitude of 41 miles above the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere at around Mach 5, subsequently landing in the Bay of Bengal. In a post on Twitter following the launch, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the successful test, tweeting, “Launch of India’s first indigenous space shuttle RLV-TD is the result of the industrious efforts of our scientists. Congrats to them.” (Image Credit: ISRO)
More Info (Engadget)



24 May 2016
NASA Relying On “Mixed Reality Experiments” To Facilitate Spacecraft Design

OnSight_Technology_NASA-JPL.pngIn an article for Engadget , Mona Lawlani reports on her experience at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the mixed reality experiments, ProtoSpace and OnSight. According to the article, ProtoSpace allows engineers and designers at JPL “to not only visualize their designs as virtual 3D objects, but also pinpoint potential problems that could affect space missions along the way.” Meanwhile, JPL researchers have been using OnSight “to recreate a hologram of Mars based on the Curiosity rover’s current exploration.” JPL Mission Operations Lead Jeff Norris remarked, “Mixed reality brings data from our missions and the environment they’re exploring to us in ways that feel familiar and natural,” adding that engineers need to be able to observe spacecraft designs “at full human scale so they can use their natural abilities for the feeling of how large a part is or how tight the clearance might be.” (Image: OnSight uses real rover data to create a 3-D simulation of the Martian environment. Credit: NASA/JPL)
More Info (Engadget)



24 May 2016
Netherlands Receives First Two F-35s

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimedia_.png Popular Science reports that the Netherlands received its first two F-35 fighters on Monday. A video embedded in the article shows the planes as they land. .(Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Popular Science)



23 May 2016
Egypt: “All Scenarios” Being Considered In EgyptAir Crash

EgyptAir-flies-over-Cairo_AP_Purchased.pngThe Washington Post reports that on Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said that “all scenarios” are being considered in the investigation of the crash of EgyptAir flight 804 into the Mediterranean Sea last week, but “warned the media against speculation it was brought down by a terrorist attack.” In his first public comments on the crash, Sisi also said, “The investigation will take time.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Washington Post)



23 May 2016
FAA Issues “Unprecedented” Warning To Air Carriers In Alaska

AlaskaAirlines_Wiki.png Alaska Dispatch News reported that the FAA issued “an unprecedented warning to Alaska’s charter and commuter air operators following a yearlong spike in plane crash injuries and deaths.” In a letter from the FAA’s Alaska office, carriers in Alaska are requested to “help in solving a significant safety issue that impacts the aviation community and the traveling public in Alaska.” The article mentioned that the crashes all occurred when the planes flew into “rising or flat ground, often in low cloud ceilings, reduced visibility or flat light that makes it difficult to pick out topography below.” No new regulations or enforcement actions are included. The article noted that the NTSB is not mentioned in the letter. The article added that according to the NTSB, five crashes in the last 12 months led to 24 deaths in the state. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Alaska Dispatch News)



23 May 2016
High-Flying UAV Takes Off for Inaugural Flight

ElbitSystemsHermes450UAV_Wiki.pngThe AP reported that on Friday, the high-flying Elbit Systems Hermes 450 UAV took off for its inaugural flight from the Hillsboro airport in North Dakota “to start a summer-long project that will take pictures of farmland in the fertile Red River Valley.” According to the article, the purpose of the project is “to show whether the larger drone is more efficient to capture imagery of agricultural land than satellites or smaller unmanned aircraft.” (Image: A Hermes 450 taking off. Credit: Gerald L. Nino via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)



20 May 2016
High-Tech NASA Balloon Traveling Across Globe

NASA_HighTech_Balloon_NASA.pngIn continuing coverage, Fox News reports that on Tuesday, NASA launched a so-called “super-pressure balloon” from an airport in New Zealand, and it was traveling at “a good clip at an altitude of over 108,000 feet in the neighborhood of Australia.” According to the article, the 18 million cubic feet balloon “carries a gamma ray telescope and a device with microphones that NASA said is ‘designed to record acoustic wave field activity in the stratosphere.’” The article explains that the larger purpose of the mission is “to test this kind of balloon technology as the craft spends a long period of time in the air – maybe over 100 days, NASA said.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Fox News)



20 May 2016
NASA, Australia Successfully Test Hypersonic Rocket

HIFiRE_NASA.png Popular Science reports that NASA, in partnership with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and the Australian Department of Defense, is working on the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program (HIFiRE) to determine whether aircraft are capable of flying several times faster than the speed of sound. This week, the partners successful sent a rocket to an altitude of 172 miles, “with a maximum speed 7.5 times the speed of sound.” In a statement from the Australian Department of Defense, Dr. Alex Zelinsky remarked, “The success of this test launch takes us one step closer to the realisation of hypersonic flight,” explaining that the technology could revolutionize air travel, “providing cost-effective access to space.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Popular Science)



19 May 2016
Saab Reveals Gripen E Fighter

Saab_Grippon_E_Jet_18May2016_AP_Purchased.pngSaab revealed its new Gripen E fighter jet on Wednesday at its facility in Linkoping, Sweden, after a 10 year development period. The AP reports that the event was attended by Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and Brazilian Air Force Commander Nivaldo Luiz Rossato. The fighter is larger than earlier designs and offers improved engine and radar capabilities. The fighter’s first flight is expected by the end of the year.(Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



19 May 2016
California Has Most Drones In US

DJI_Phantom4_AP.png MarketWatch reports that according to the FAA, California has the highest number of registered drones in the US, with the cities of Menlo Park, Los Angeles, and Burbank topping the list. Also at the top of the list is Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. In terms of commercial drone registrations, Menlo Park, California, is number one, while Houston comes in first place for recreational drone registrations. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (MarketWatch)



19 May 2016
NRO Discloses March 2017 SpaceX Mission

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpg Space News reports that SpaceX “is scheduled to launch a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in March 2017 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a spokeswoman for the intelligence agency said May 18 in response to questions from SpaceNews.” While SpaceX has not announced the launch, the NRO “is thought to have previously discussed the contract – even broadly – in a public setting just once, during a House subcommittee hearing three years ago.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)



18 May 2016
France Implementing Anti-UAV Measures at Euro 2016

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommons.jpgThe AP reports that on Tuesday, organizers of Euro 2016 said that new technology will be deployed at the month-long soccer tournament beginning June 10 in France to protect against unauthorized UAV operations. Speaking to the AP, Euro 2016 Security Chief Ziad Khoury explained that during most matches, “anti-drone measures – which are quite innovative – will be deployed, working with the state, which will interfere with drones and take control of them if they are spotted.” France’s General Secretariat for Defence and National Security “confirmed to the AP that anti-drone measures will be in place for Euro 2016 but said the exact type of technologies to be deployed will be decided in coming days.” (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)



17 May 2016
International Space Station Completes Milestone 100,000th Orbit of Earth

InternationalSpaceStation_NASA.pngThe AP reports that following 17 ½ years in orbit, the International Space Station (ISS) circled the Earth for a milestone-setting 100,000th time on Monday morning. According to the article, NASA “said these 100,000 orbits are akin to traveling more than 2.6 billion miles.” The article notes that each orbit around the Earth takes the ISS 90 minutes, adding that it completes 16 orbits per day. In a celebratory video from space, NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, said, “One-hundred-thousand orbits, the journey continues.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



17 May 2016
Lockheed Martin UAV Illustrates Future Of Flying Robots

LMC_ARES_DARPA.png BBC News reports that UAVs may soon be able to play an “indispensable” role in human society, “building skyscrapers using 3D printing technology; transporting cargo across town; crop spraying; or helping find people trapped in buildings.” The article highlights Lockheed Martin’s remote-controlled Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (Ares) aircraft, which features “rotating engines that allow it to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but also fly fast like a conventional aeroplane.” Lockheed Martin’s Business Development Manager Andy Horler explained that Ares “can carry lots of different types of pods under it,” which allows “the system to be used for a wide range of tasks, such as transporting personnel or carrying cargo or medical supplies.” (Image Credit: DARPA)
More Info (BBC News)



17 May 2016
DARPA Pursuing Reusable Spaceplane

XS-1_DARPA.png Space News reports that during his speech at the 2016 GEOINT conference on Sunday, Brad Tousley, who heads the tactical technology office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, called SpaceX’s and Blue Origin’s landings of first stage boosters “very, very impressive accomplishments,” while adding, “we want to go beyond that.” In his remarks Tousley “said the agency’s experimental spaceplane, known as XS-1, also has ambitious plans,” explaining, “We want to launch again in 24 hours.” The article explains that under an ideal scenario the XS-1 spaceplane “would launch 10 times in 10 days and carry payloads weighing as much as 1,360 kilograms into low earth orbit for $5 million,” as well as be able to deter threats against national security satellites that have emerged in recent years. (Image Credit: DARPA)
More Info (Space News)



16 May 2016
TSA Asks Travelers to be Patient With Waiting, Won’t Compromise On Safety

AirportSecurity_Dulles_AP-Purchased.pngOn Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson addressed travelers’ frustration with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) during a press conference at the Reagan National Airport. The AP (5/13) reported that amid a backlash from travelers who have been forced to wait in security checkpoint lines that sometimes take as long as 90 minutes to clear, the TSA has urged travelers “to be patient” while the government seeks to shorten security checkpoint wait times. Johnson said, however, “Our job is to keep the American people safe. ... We’re not going to compromise aviation security in the face of this.” Further, he indicated that summer travelers should expect to wait. The AP points out the TSA “has fewer screeners and has tightened security procedures.” (Image: A security sign is posted at Air Canada at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 in Chantilly, Va. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



13 May 2016
Denmark Announces Intent to Buy F-35s

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimedia_.pngAs expected by earlier reports, the Wall Street Journal writes that the Danish Defense Ministry announced on Thursday that it would recommend the purchase of 27 F-35s to fulfill the country’s modernization efforts under a $3 billion contract. While the government will still need to approve the plan, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen expressed his support for the purchase, saying the fighter jets would let Denmark “monitor our airspace and repel violations at home” as well as “work to stop wars and conflicts abroad spreading and affecting us.” Denmark expects to receive the planes between 2021 and 2026, with basic operations starting in 2025 and full operational capacity in 2027. (Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



13 May 2016
Interview: NASA Veteran Discusses Supersonic Jet Project

Concorde_Wiki.png TIME reports that NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project Manager Peter Coen believes that his team could solve the “sonic boom” issues that limited the viability of the retired Concorde jet, “potentially opening the door for a new era of faster-than-sound commercial travel.” The article notes that in February, NASA issued a $20 million contract to Lockheed Martin “for preliminary work on a new supersonic aircraft that could travel quickly and quietly, the holy grail of supersonic aeronautics.” The article features an interview about the project with Coen, a 33-year NASA veteran, who says, “We’re working on breaking down some of the barriers to successful commercial supersonic flight,” and also “to make sure the airspace system is compatible with having fast airplanes trying to use their speed to the maximum extent they can.” (Image credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (TIME)



13 May 2016
Boeing Delays First Launch Of CST-100 Starliner

Boeing_CST-100.jpgIn continuing coverage, CNN Money reports that on Tuesday, Boeing disclosed that it has delayed the first launch of its astronaut-ferrying CST-100 Starliner spacecraft from 2017 to 2018, thereby falling behind fellow NASA Commercial Crew contractor SpaceX, which “says it intends to have a manned mission in 2017 using its Dragon space capsule.” The article explains that unlike Boeing’s Starliner, SpaceX’s Dragon is already developed and in use, “delivering supplies to the International Space Station with unmanned missions,” although “it will need to go through further testing before it can carry humans.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CNN Money)



12 May 2016
Malaysia Says South Africa, Mauritius Aircraft Debris Belongs to Missing MH370

MA370_LaurentErrera_Wiki.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Thursday, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that two pieces of debris found in South Africa and Mauritius earlier this year “almost certainly” came from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. According to the Journal, an Australia-led investigation team examined the debris and concluded that both pieces were consistent with the panels of the Malaysia Airlines-operated Boeing 777 aircraft that mysteriously vanished more than two years ago. (Image Credit: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



12 May 2016
SpaceX Capsule Returns to Earth With 3,700 Pounds of ISS Cargo

DragonSplashesDown_12May2016_NASA.png USA Today reports that SpaceX’s Dragon capsule plunged into the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday after a month-long trip to the International Space Station (ISS), “returning to Earth with more than 3,700 pounds of equipment and science research.” The article notes that among the 1,300 pounds of experiments aboard the spacecraft were 1,000 tubes of biological samples collected from former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly during his year-long stint at the ISS, which the space agency intends to study “to learn more about the long-term effects of microgravity on the human body.” In a post on Twitter, Kelly wrote, “Thanks SpaceX for getting our science safely back to Earth! Very important research.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



11 May 2016
NASA Confirms Record-Breaking Discovery of 1,200 New Exoplanets

KeplerPlanetDiscovery_May2016_NASA.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that at a press briefing on Tuesday, researchers using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope confirmed the record-breaking discovery of more than 1,284 new exoplanets, doubling the number of extraterrestrial worlds found by the space agency’s planet-hunting spacecraft. According to the scientists, who published their findings on Tuesday in the Astrophysical Journal, nine of the newly verified planets are potentially habitable, located in star systems warm enough for water to exist in liquid form, while another 550 are rocky planets similar to Earth, and more than 100 are the same size as Earth or smaller. (Image Credit: NASA/W. Stenzel)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



11 May 2016
Air Force Issues RFP for Design of Next Air Force One

AirForceOne_WikimediaCommons.png Flightglobal reports that ahead of the presidential election in November, the US Air Force has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to Boeing for the initial design of the next model of Air Force One. The article explains that the RFP issued on Tuesday concerns “preliminary design activities required to begin development of two Presidential mission-ready aircraft, based on two government furnished Boeing 747-8 aircraft procured under a separate contract action on this contract.” According to the article, the Air Force “expects to award a sole-source contract to Boeing later this year for delivery of two 747-8s,” with development set to begin in mid-2018. (Image Credit: John Murphy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Flightglobal)



10 May 2016
Global UAV Market To Approach $127 Billion By 2020, PwC Says

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg Bloomberg News reports that according to a new study published on Monday by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the global market for commercial UAV applications, currently estimated at around $2 billion, will skyrocket to as much as $127 billion by 2020. Speaking to reporters, Piotr Romanowski, PwC partner and Business Advisory Leader for central and eastern Europe, said that “the cost of drone technology is falling so quickly that a number of everyday applications are becoming cost-efficient.” According to PwC, new UAV technologies may prove useful for infrastructure projects, insurance claim verification, and various security applications, and may also revolutionize both the movie and transportation industries, given appropriate legislation. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



9 May 2016
UPS Supporting Drone Startup’s Blood, Vaccine Deliveries In Rwanda

AmazonPrimeAir_Drone.jpg Reuters reports that the UPS Foundation is providing Zipline International Inc. and Gavi an $800,000 grant along with logistics support to help the startup with its primary mission of using UAVs to transport blood and vaccines in Rwanda. Reuters notes that by backing drone projects in other countries, UPS can avoid the regulatory hurdles faced by other U.S. companies experimenting with UAV deliveries. Reuters mentions that other prominent companies such as Amazon, Google, and Walmart have also invested in UAV projects. (Image Credit: YouTube/ X: The Moonshot Factory)
More Info (Reuters)



9 May 2016
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Set to Return from ISS

Dragon_at_ISS_NASA_May2016.jpg USA Today reports that SpaceX is set to accomplish yet another milestone this week, as its unmanned Dragon spacecraft “is scheduled to depart the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth on Wednesday morning,” after arriving at the ISS on April 10. According to the article, due to a failed launch attempt last summer, the Dragon capsule “will be the first to return science experiments and hardware from the ISS in a year,” as no spacecraft operating today “can bring large quantities of cargo back down to the ground.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



6 May 2016
NASA’s Asteroid-Sample Spacecraft OSIRIS-REx Taps Into Design History

OSIRIS-REx-spacecraft.jpgDid you know that NASA is building a miniature robot bulldozer that will scoop up gravel from an asteroid? Workers at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Colorado have been hard at work testing the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that will be launched toward the asteroid Bennu in September. Attendees at an April NASA social-media tour were able to glimpse the spacecraft in the Lockheed Martin clean room where the completed spacecraft is on display, and learn from the engineers and scientists involved in the mission to collect a sample from an asteroid for study on Earth. (Image: The completed OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in the cleanroom at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Thoreson)
Full Story (Aerospace America)



6 May 2016
SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite, Sticks Sea Landing for Second Time

SpaceXLaunch6May2016_SpaceX.jpg CBS News reports that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster blasted off from Cape Canaveral early Friday morning, “lighting up the night sky with a streak of fiery exhaust as it boosted a powerful Japanese communications satellite into space.” In a dual success, the JCSAT-14 relay satellite “was delivered to the intended preliminary orbit,” while the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster landed smoothly on a droneship at sea following the launch, “the second such successful landing in a row.” A few moments after the landing, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, tweeted, “Woohoo!!” He also tweeted, “This was a three engine landing burn, so triple deceleration of last flight,” adding, “That’s important to minimize gravity losses.” Bloomberg News reports that prior to the mission, SpaceX “said because the Falcon 9 rocket returned at high speed, a successful landing was unlikely.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
More Info (CBS News)



5 May 2016
Boeing 737 Max Leap 1-B Jet Engine Completes Certifications

Boeing737Max.jpgThe Puget Sound Business Journal reports in its “Techflash” blog that the Boeing 737 Max’s Leap 1-B jet engine has completed certification from authorities in the U.S. and Europe. CFM International executive vice president Francois Bastin said, “We couldn’t be happier with the way this engine is performing,” adding that Boeing “is racking up an impressive number of flight hours with the test aircraft, and initial indications are that engine performance is meeting expectations.” The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the certificates will allow the engine to enter into commercial service in the third quarter of 2017. Boeing must still receive certification for the Boeing 737 Max itself before deliveries to Southwest Airlines can begin. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Puget Sound Business Journal)



5 May 2016
Implications of Trump, Clinton Presidency On U.S. Space Program Highlighted

Clinton-Trump.jpgIn continuing coverage, Mic reports on how the U.S. space exploration program would fare “under a Trump presidency or a Clinton presidency.” The article highlights that in response to a recent questionnaire from AIAA’s publication Aerospace America, Donald Trump said, “What we spend in NASA should be appropriate for what we are asking them to do,” adding, “Our first priority is to restore a strong economic base to this country. Then, we can have a discussion about spending.” Meanwhile, the article highlights that during a town hall meeting last year, Hillary Clinton said, “I really, really do support the space program,” adding that the government ought to continue to invest in space exploration.
More Info (Mic)
More Info (Aerospace America)



5 May 2016
Amazon Looking Toward Integration of UAV Services

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpg Flightglobal reports that while speaking at the AUVSI Xponential show on Monday, Amazon Prime Air Vice President Gur Kimchi “stressed that movement needs to be made on airspace integration methods now, so that services are ready to be carried out when the necessary authorisations are granted.” The article notes that Amazon is proposing that “a no-fly zone be established at 400-500ft, to allow for UAVs to travel to delivery destinations,” and that real-time no-fly zones “can also be imposed on UAV operations to allow for manned operations as necessary, and the systems can simply wait until it is safe to enter the zone again.” Kimchi maintained, “The only way this will work is if everybody speaks the same language.” (Image Credit: YouTube/ X: The Moonshot Factory)
More Info (Flightglobal)



4 May 2016
SpaceX to Launch Japanese Satellite Into Orbit, Attempt Another Rocket Landing at Sea

SpaceXBoosterLanding_April2016_SpaceX.pngThe Orlando Sentinel reports that SpaceX is set to launch a replacement satellite early Thursday morning for Japanese telecommunications company SKY Perfect JSAT that will help the satellite operator “restock its satellite constellation, improving reception for the company’s nearly 3.5 million subscribers.” According to the article, the satellite will be hoisted into orbit atop of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, “and take its place in space above Japan and Australia, providing improved coverage for Perfect’s broadcasts in parts of Asia, Russia and even as far east as Hawaii.” Additionally, the commercial spaceflight company will also attempt “to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 on a drone ship off Florida’s coast,” although company officials have “said they don’t expect to succeed,” stating that “the first stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing unlikely.”(Image Credit: SpaceX via YouTube)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)



4 May 2016
FAA: UAS Developing Too Fast for Airspace Restructuring

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommons.jpg Aviation International News reports that the FAA “has no current plan” to “reclassify low-altitude airspace” to accommodate small UAS. Speaking at the Xponential 2016 conference in New Orleans, FAA Air Traffic Organization Manager Randy Willis said that the establishment of a new airspace structure is inhibited by the fast pace of change in UAS technology. At the conference, Harris Corporation unveiled an “ADS-B Xtend” service to help UAS tracking below 500 feet. However, an FAA rulemaking process would still be required for airspace restructuring. (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Aviation International News)



3 May 2016
Scientists Detect Three Earth-Like Planets

Earth-sizeplanetKepler-452b_NASA.jpgThe Washington Post reports that researchers using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope have discovered a trio of potentially habitable, Earth-like planets that may represent “our best-ever shot at finding signs of alien life.” The article explains the three exoplanets located 40 light years away in the constellation Aquarius were detected using data from the star they orbit. In addition, the scientists, who published their findings on Monday in the journal Nature, believe the worlds are tidally locked, indicating that “they have one hot side that faces their star and one cold side plunged in eternal darkness,” and that they orbit their star in a matter of days. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Washington Post)



2 May 2016
New Report Highlights Growth of Commercial UAV Market

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg Business Insider highlights a few of the key takeaways from a recently released BI Intelligence report, which “provides forecasts for the business opportunity in commercial drone technology, looks at advances and persistent barriers,” and “digs into the current state of US regulation of commercial drones.” According to the article, the commercial UAV market “will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19% between 2015 and 2020, compared with 5% growth on the military side.”(Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Business Insider)



2 May 2016
ISS Now Equipped With 3D Printer Supplied By Made In Space And Lowe’s Innovation Labs

3DPrinted_ISS_NASA.jpgUnder the headline “The First 3D Printing Facility In Space Is Open For Business!,”  Motley Fool reports on the International Space Station’s (ISS) permanent 3D printer, which was “supplied by privately held Made In Space and partner Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the innovative hub of the home retailer.”
(Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Motley Fool)



29 April 2016
Bombardier Secures Major Aircraft Order With Delta

Bombardier_CSeries_Wikipedia.jpgIn continuing coverage, the Seattle Times reports that on Thursday, Delta Air Lines finalized a firm order for 75 of Bombardier’s CSeries narrowbody aircraft, “providing the market validation from a high-profile U.S. airline the Canadian jet maker has long sought.” The article notes that the new jet “features new, fuel-efficient Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines and carbon-composite plastic wings,” adding that Bombardier “claims the CSeries will be 15 percent cheaper to operate than the current Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 models, and 10 percent cheaper than the new MAX and neo models.” (Image Credit: Yan Gouger via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Seattle Times)



28 April 2016
SpaceX Plans to Send “Red Dragon” Capsule to Mars In 2018

SpaceXRedDragon_Wiki.pngThe Washington Post reports that on Wednesday, SpaceX announced on Twitter that it plans to land an unmanned “Red Dragon” spacecraft on Mars as early as 2018 in collaboration with NASA, “laying out an ambitious timeline for an incredibly difficult mission that only governments have dared try.” In a statement, NASA said it would provide “technical support,” but no financial support, for the Mars mission, and in return, SpaceX would provide “valuable entry, descent and landing data to NASA for our journey to Mars, while providing support to American industry.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



27 April 2016
F-35 Airborne Software Problem Resolved

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimedia_.png Defense News reports that on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, head of the U.S. Air Force’s F-35 joint program office, said that software problems on the F-35’s Block 3i release have generally been cleared and will not pose a challenge to meeting the aircraft’s operational deadline. Bogdan added that the new software has been tested on 44 flights over 96 hours and has seen a marked improvement in stability. He is “leaning towards” using the updated 3i software as the software in the aircraft during IOC, and said the improvements were implemented thanks to “really smart guys at Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, who own the sensors and stuff, getting down into the nitty gritty and doing good root cause analysis.” While airborne software stability has improved, the main computer still has some problems starting while the aircraft is “on the ground.” Bogdan anticipates a solution to the problem within a month or two. (Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class D. Keith Simmons, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Defense News)



27 April 2016
Google Awarded New Delivery Drone Patent

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpg Quartz examines a patent awarded to Google on April 25 that would allow a delivery drone to hover over a delivery target and lower the package using a tether. When the package has been placed on its destination, the drone would detach and retract the tether cable. Quartz highlights the patent’s mention of how the drone would interact with humans, potentially warning them, “Caution: Stay back,” or chiming in with “Delivery complete.” (Image Credit: YouTube/ X: The Moonshot Factory)
More Info (Quartz)



26 April 2016
Airbus Delivers First U.S.-Made Aircraft From Alabama Plant

AirbusA320Neo_AP_Purchased.pngThe AP reports that on Monday, France-based Airbus delivered its first aircraft manufactured in the U.S. to JetBlue Airways. In the handover ceremony at Airbus’ manufacturing plant in Mobile, Alabama, CEO John Leahy “said in a statement that delivering the first aircraft after breaking ground on the facility three years ago is an amazing accomplishment and a testament to teamwork throughout Airbus and in Mobile.” Meanwhile, Airbus officials “say there are nine other A320 family aircraft in production and Airbus plans to deliver four per month from Mobile by the end of 2017.” (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 (Associated Press)



26 April 2016
Experts: E-Enabled Aircraft to Increase Aviation Cybersecurity Concerns

AirbusA380_2_wiki.png Air Traffic Management reports “expert alumni from US Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University” say that as the aviation industry relies more on Internet- and satellite-based technologies, cybersecurity vulnerabilities will increasingly “threaten the nation’s airspace.” The article notes that the Boeing 787, Airbus 380, and Airbus 350 are “e-Enabled” aircraft that have systems networked to ground stations in real time, receiving and transmitting data “that can influence flight operations including navigation, maintenance performance and airplane health management.” Mike Gordon, Lockheed Martin’s director of cyber intelligence and operations for corporate information security, “says Lockheed Martin acknowledges its aircraft are flying computers, designing them at the onset with cybersecurity in mind,” and that the modernization of legacy aircraft systems is a growing security concern. (Image Credit: P.loos via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Air Traffic Management)



25 April 2016
FAA Mandates Repairs On Some 787 Dreamliner Engines For Icing Problems

Dreamliner-Boeing-2.jpgMedia outlets reported on the urgent airworthiness directive issued on Friday by the FAA requiring immediate repairs to Boeing 787 Dreamliners with GE-manufactured GEnx-1B PIP2 engines. The AP reported that the agency’s “order comes after a Jan. 29 incident when one of the two engines on a Japan Airlines 787 shut down mid-flight” due to an icing problem “and couldn’t be restarted.” According to the article, GE distributed a service bulletin on the issue in March, “so some of the affected engines have already been reworked.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Associated Press)



25 April 2016
NASA, FAA Conduct Drone Management Test

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg Aviation International News reports in continuing coverage that NASA on April 19 conducted simultaneous tests of multiple drones at six FAA-sponsored ranges throughout the United States. Mathew Nelson, one of the UAS pilots at the Texas site, said, “Using a traffic management framework to separate the aircraft and provide position awareness to air traffic control or to a mission commander helps us provide space between manned aircraft and unmanned aircraft and actually promotes the safety of integrating those two into the airspace.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Aviation International News)



25 April 2016
Solar Plane Travels from Hawaii to California

SolarImpulse2_Lands_in_Hawaii_AP_2.jpgThe AP reports that on Saturday, the solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2 touched down in California following a three-day flight from Hawaii “without fuel.” According to the article, the aircraft flies at an average speed of about 28 miles per hour, “though that can double during the day when the sun’s rays are strongest,” and carries “17,000 solar cells” on its wings. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



22 April 2016
FAA Clears First Nighttime Drone Flights

DroneFliesAtDusk_AP.png Bloomberg News reports the FAA “granted the first approval for commercial drone flights at night” to Ohio-based Industrial Skyworks USA, which “uses drones for industrial inspections.” Company president Michael Cohen said the FAA is “trending in the right direction.” The article reports the FAA “will require more stringent pilot requirements than it has imposed on other commercial operators to ensure they understand the potential risks of flying at night, according to the agency’s exemption dated April 18.” In addition, drones will be required to be equipped with lights in order for operators and other aircraft to be able to spot them.  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


21 April 2016
DJI Complying With Requests to Share UAV Data With Chinese Government

DJI_Phantom4_AP.pngThe New York Times reports that during a press briefing at DJI’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China on Wednesday, DJI spokesman Zhang Fanxi said that DJI is still looking to reach a deal with China concerning the collection of UAV flight data, but added that the company is currently complying with requests from the Chinese government to share information, and that it may also provide the government with data regarding flights in Hong Kong. Additionally, Zhang remarked, “This data, exactly how we use it, when we use it and which government departments we give it to” is an ongoing discussion. Zhang maintained that DJI will not provide Chinese authorities direct access to UAV data unless requested, and that users would be informed in such cases. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)



21 April 2016
Aerojet Rocketdyne Lands $67 Million NASA Contract To Develop Fuel-Efficient Rocket Engines

Solar_Electric_Propulsion.pngThe Seattle Times reports that Aerojet Rocketdyne has secured a three-year contract worth $67 million that will help NASA increase fuel efficiency for deep space travel nine-fold by “using an electric-propulsion system, rather than a chemical system.” In a statement, Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, explained, “Development of this technology will advance our future in-space transportation capability for a variety of NASA deep space human and robotic exploration missions, as well as private commercial space missions.”  (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Seattle Times)



21 April 2016
UAV Filmmaking Raising Safety Concerns, Interest In Hollywood

DJIPhantom_Capricorn4049_Wiki.pngThe Seattle Times reports that Aerojet Rocketdyne has secured a three-year contract worth $67 million that will help NASA increase fuel efficiency for deep space travel nine-fold by “using an electric-propulsion system, rather than a chemical system.” In a statement, Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, explained, “Development of this technology will advance our future in-space transportation capability for a variety of NASA deep space human and robotic exploration missions, as well as private commercial space missions.”  (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Seattle Times)



20 April 2016
Senate Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill

AirportSecurity_Dulles_AP-Purchased.pngThere was significant media coverage on Tuesday of the Senate’s approval of legislation authorizing the FAA programs through September 30, 2017. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 95-3 to pass the FAA reauthorization bill, which now heads to the House. News sources report on the various provisions of the legislation, with several focusing on the provisions covering airport security, drones and airline consumer protections. According to the AP, the bill would enhance airport security, provide “new protections to airline passengers and help speed the introduction of package-delivery drones.” The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), said the measure “does more to enhance security against the threat of terrorism and help frustrated passengers than any proposal in recent history.” (Image: A security sign is posted at Air Canada at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 in Chantilly, Va. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



20 April 2016
NASA Tests UAV Air Traffic Control System In Six States

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg Popular Science reports that since there are no flight-tracking systems for flights at lower altitudes, and because small UAVs do not broadcast their location while flying, the FAA has partnered with NASA to develop the Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management system, essentially providing air traffic control for UAVs. Following an earlier test at just one site last fall, NASA tested the system once again on Tuesday using 24 UAVs at six different FAA test locations across the country, including in Alaska, Maryland, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, and Texas. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Popular Science)



20 April 2016
Former Astronaut: Space Tourism, Mars Landings Soon Likely

Bigelow_Expandable_Habitat_Wikimedia.png Philly (PA) reports that “manned missions to Mars may be closer to reality than one might expect, according to former NASA astronaut Don Thomas.” In a recent interview, the 60-year-old veteran of four space missions said, “It’s going to be near the end of my lifetime,” adding space tourism will likely be possible “very soon, in two to three years.” Remarking on the challenges of a human mission to Mars, Thomas said, “It will take a lot of money to test out the rockets, to land supplies ahead of time, before we get there,” adding, “The greatest challenge is political and economic, the budgets and funding.” (Image: Full-scale mockup of Bigelow Aerospace’s Space Station Alpha. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Philly)



19 April 2016
Senate Votes to Move FAA Bill Forward to Final Vote

CapitolHill_Wiki.png The Hill reports that on Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to end debate on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S.2658) and move to a final vote. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said he “hopes a package of 26 amendments will be attached by voice vote before final passage.” Nelson added, “They are all non-controversial.” The Hill mentions that many of the amendments deal with airport security and drone safety. (Image Credit: Elliot P. via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (The Hill)



18 April 2016
Drone May Have Collided With British Airways Flight

BritishAirwaysTakeOff_Wikipedia.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Sunday, a British Airways flight bound for London’s Heathrow Airport appears to have collided with an airborne UAV in what may be the first such incident involving a major airline. Patrick Ky, chief of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Europe’s primary safety regulator, said he wants to create an international standard for drone regulations, and hopes to coordinate with U.S. and Asian officials to achieve that goal. None of the 132 passengers and 5 crew members aboard the aircraft were hurt and the British Airways Airbus A320 didn’t sustain any damage, but ABC World News Tonight reported that experts warn that the growing popularity of drones brings with it a “serious potential for disaster.” Col. Stephen Ganyard, former deputy assistant Secretary of State, commented that “Sooner or later, we’re going to lose an airplane due to a drone collision.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



18 April 2016
Inflatable Space Room Attached to ISS

BEAM_Installed_on_ISS_CreditNASA.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Sunday, a British Airways flight bound for London’s Heathrow Airport appears to have collided with an airborne UAV in what may be the first such incident involving a major airline. Patrick Ky, chief of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Europe’s primary safety regulator, said he wants to create an international standard for drone regulations, and hopes to coordinate with U.S. and Asian officials to achieve that goal. None of the 132 passengers and 5 crew members aboard the aircraft were hurt and the British Airways Airbus A320 didn’t sustain any damage, but ABC World News Tonight reported that experts warn that the growing popularity of drones brings with it a “serious potential for disaster.” Col. Stephen Ganyard, former deputy assistant Secretary of State, commented that “Sooner or later, we’re going to lose an airplane due to a drone collision.”  (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



15 April 2016
ESPN to Broadcast Drone Racing

DroneRacer.png CNBC reported that on Wednesday, the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) announced that it had reached a multi-year agreement with ESPN to broadcast “the new sport of drone racing to the sports network.” In a statement, Matthew Volk, director of programming and acquisitions for ESPN, remarked that drone racing is “an opportunity to reach and connect with a growing and passionate audience.” Meanwhile, IDRA Chairman Dr. Scot Refsland explained that since “everyone can experience the thrill of racing as if they were sitting in the drone cockpit, the sport is skyrocketing,” adding that going from “a first ever, US national drone race to partnering with ESPN for international distribution in eight months is truly a sign of great things ahead.” (Image Credit: HeliPal via YouTube)
More Info (CNBC)



14 April 2016
Rep. Bridenstine Announces “American Space Renaissance Act”

SLS-Artists-Concept-of-Launch-NASA.jpg Space News reports that on Tuesday, in a speech at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) formally announced the “American Space Renaissance Act,” emphasizing that it is “a comprehensive bill, because ensuring that America is the preeminent spacefaring nation requires a holistic approach to [the] entire American space enterprise.” According to the article, the proposed legislation includes “separate sections covering military, civil and commercial policy topics, from changes to responsibilities for space situational awareness to giving the NASA administrator a fixed five-year term.” Noting that there “doesn’t seem to be one national space enterprise,” Bridenstine explained, “What we’re trying to do is to bring a lot of elements together and make sure that in the end, the technologies being advanced are relevant to all the different enterprises that exist.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)



14 April 2016
New Study Details Commercial Uses of UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg USA Today reports that according to a new study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the most popular commercial purposes for UAVs include photography, real estate, and various types of inspections. The study, which reviewed more than 3,000 of the nearly 4,700 permits granted by the FAA, found that UAV permits have been issued to businesses in all 50 states, including 360 permits in California, 328 in Florida, and 268 in Texas. In addition, among the FAA exemptions reviewed in the study, which cited 38 different business functions for UAVs, there “were 2,557 for photography, 1,969 for real estate and 1,671 for inspections.” AUVSI CEO Brian Wynne said in a statement that the UAV industry “is poised to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. and these numbers demonstrate that a wide variety of industries are eager to take advantage of this technology.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



13 April 2016
Tech Billionaires, Hawking Join Forces to Laser-Propel Nanocraft Toward the Stars

Lightsail_NASA.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Tuesday, Russian billionaire and tech investor Yuri Milner and famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking unveiled a plan, dubbed Breakthrough Starshot, to send nanocrafts toward Alpha Centauri via so-called light sails. The article explains that high-powered laser beams would apply pressure on the light sails, enabling the tiny spacecraft to accelerate to about 20% of the speed of light. On their journey toward the neighboring star system, the camera-equipped probes would capture photos of various celestial phenomena and beam the footage back to Earth through the same laser system propelling them through the cosmos. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



13 April 2016
Jeff Bezos Wants “Millions of People Living and Working In Space”

Bezos_Garver_at_BlueOrigin_NASA.pngThe Denver Post reports that on Tuesday in his first appearance at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos told the audience, “I want millions of people living and working in space. I want us to be a space-faring civilization,” adding, “I think we need to explore and utilize space in order to save the Earth.” Comparing his experiences in the e-commerce and commercial space industries, Bezos said in the case of Amazon, “There was a bunch of pieces already existing,” which facilitated the Internet retailer’s rapid growth, adding that in regards to space, “If you want to see a dynamic Golden Age where thousands of entrepreneurs can be doing really amazing things in space, we can’t do that yet. ... The big heavy-lifting pieces aren’t in place.”(Image: NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver meets Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos next to Blue Origin's crew capsule along with other Blue Origin team members. 8 Dec. 2011. Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Denver Post)



13 April 2016
Airlines Looking to Satellite-Based Wi-Fi

Gogo_inFlight_SatelliteSystem_MLammersWiki.png Yahoo! News reports that “companies such as Gogo, Panasonic, ViaSat, and Global Eagle Entertainment are working on next-generation satellite-based Wi-Fi solutions that should provide better bandwidth, speeds, and coverage than what’s currently offered now.” Internet access is currently provided through air-to-ground (ATG) technology which relies on land-based towers, causing airlines to experience dead spots when moving between service areas. Therefore, airlines are exploring satellite-based technologies, which are faster and allow global, uninterrupted service. Major developers include Gogo with its Ground to Orbit (GTO) hybrid system, ViaSat with its Exede service and two Ka-band-based high-capacity satellites, ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3, and Inmarsat with its Global Xpress network and I-5 F2 satellite. (Image Credit: Matthew Lammers via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Yahoo! News)



12 April 2016
NASA’s Space Shuttle Launched for First Time 35 Years Ago Today

STS1Launch_Wikimedia.png USA Today reports that Tuesday marks the 35th anniversary since the beginning of NASA’s space shuttle era, which first took flight “with Columbia’s blastoff from Kennedy Space Center on one of the space program’s most daring test flights.” After Commander John Young and pilot Bob Crippen took to the skies from pad 39A, NASA’s launch commentator Hugh Harris said, “And we have liftoff, liftoff of America’s first space shuttle.” During the mission, Crippen said, “I think we have got something that is really going to mean something to the country and the world.” The article recounts that despite damage and other issues affecting the test flight, “Young and Crippen landed safely two days and 37 orbits later on a dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.” (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)



12 April 2016
ULA to Launch Expandable Habitats to Space for Tourists, Researchers

Bigelow_Expandable_Habitat_Wikimedia.pngThe Washington Post reports that although Bigelow Aerospace’s expandable habitat was just delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, the company is already mulling “flying even larger inflatable habitats into space to be used for research and even space hotels.” In a news conference at the annual Space Symposium on Monday, the company revealed that in 2020, United Launch Alliance (ULA) will start ferrying the habitats to space as part of a deal that the two companies say constitutes the “first-ever commercial partnership between a launch provider and a habitat provider.” According to the article, Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow “hopes that eventually his space habitats could provide another destination in low Earth orbit besides the space station.” (Image: Full-scale mockup of Bigelow Aerospace’s Space Station Alpha. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



12 April 2016
NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft Revived Following Cosmic Emergency

Kepler_NASA.png CBS News reports that in a tweet on Monday, NASA announced that it had successfully revived the planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft after it unexpectedly moved into emergency mode last week 75 million miles from Earth. Elaborating on the recovery in a statement posted online, Kepler Mission Manager Charlie Sobeck said, “Mission operations engineers have successfully recovered the Kepler spacecraft from Emergency Mode (EM),” adding that on Sunday, “the spacecraft reached a stable state with the communication antenna pointed toward Earth, enabling telemetry and historical event data to be downloaded to the ground.” According to the article, NASA officials are “hopeful that the mission will continue as planned as soon as Kepler’s systems are checked out."  (Image: Artist’s conception of the Kepler space telescope observing planets. Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (CBS News)



11 April 2016
SpaceX Cargo Capsule Docks at ISS

DragonApproachesISS_April2016_NASA.pngThe AP reports that SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft docked at the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday, “two days after launching from Cape Canaveral.” The article notes that the capsule holds 7,000 pounds of freight, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, an inflatable space room, which “could change the way astronauts live in space.” The article explains that NASA “envisions inflatable habitats in a couple of decades at Mars, while Bigelow Aerospace aims to launch a pair of inflatable space stations in just four years for commercial lease.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



11 April 2016
Drones Considered for First Response

Drone_Over_Neighborhood_AP_Purchased.pngIn continuing coverage, The Hill reports that one of the world’s largest drone manufacturers, DJI, is partnering with the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) with the aim of developing “a blueprint for using unmanned aircraft for emergency response efforts.” Stateside, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) is pushing for a similar agenda. The article reports that Warner “filed an amendment to the Senate’s long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that would authorize public entities to use drones in response to disasters, catastrophes and other emergencies.” He said, “I firmly believe that unmanned systems have the potential to revolutionize how we go about our business and our lives.”
(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (The Hill)



11 April 2016
Kepler Spacecraft Switches Into Emergency Mode

Kepler_NASA.png USA Today reports that NASA’s planet-searching Kepler spacecraft, currently situated 75 million miles away from the Earth, has entered an emergency mode, “which means the spacecraft is operating minimally while fuel intensive.” The article explains that NASA mission engineers were looking to direct Kepler toward the Milky Way’s center on April 7 “when it was determined that Kepler had moved into an emergency mode.” According to the article, the spacecraft last made contact with Earth-based ground control on April 4, “with Kepler’s operating systems reporting that it was functioning properly.” Mission Manager Charlie Sobeck remarked on the communication issues, stating, “The spacecraft is nearly 75 million miles from Earth, making the communication slow. Even at the speed of light, it takes 13 minutes for a signal to travel to the spacecraft and back.” (Image: Artist’s conception of the Kepler space telescope observing planets. Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (NASA Update, 11 April 2016)



9 April 2016
SpaceX Completes Historic Booster Landing at Sea

SpaceXBoosterLanding_April2016_SpaceX.pngThe Washington Post reported that following four previously unsuccessful attempts to land a spent rocket booster on a drone ship at sea, SpaceX “finally pulled off the dramatic feat Friday afternoon in its first launch to resupply the International Space Station since its rocket exploded last year.” According to the Post, the sea landing, the “first-ever” for a first-stage booster, “was heralded as a breakthrough for the burgeoning commercial spaceflight industry, and its leader, SpaceX.” In a press conference following the successful landing, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk remarked, “It’s another step toward the stars. In order for us to really open up access to space we have to have full and rapid reusability.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via YouTube)
More Info (Washington Post)



8 April 2016
Boeing Lands Four New 747 Jetliner Orders In Surprise Deal

Boeing_747_wiki.png Bloomberg News reports that on Thursday, Boeing revealed on its website that it has secured four new orders from an undisclosed buyer for its 747 jumbo jets, each valued at $379 million, “giving life to a program starved for sales amid waning demand for four-engine aircraft.” The article notes that Boeing landed only two deals for the jetliner last year and “had 23 unfilled jumbo orders as of March,” adding that the Chicago-based company has repeatedly shrunk the production rate of the 747, “most recently to an output of six jets a year, as the order book thinned.” (Image: Boeing 747-8 First Flight. Credit: moonm via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



8 April 2016
DJI to Train European First Responders to Use UAVs In Rescue Operations

DJIPhantom_Capricorn4049_Wiki.png The Verge reports that on Thursday, China-based DJI announced that in partnership with the Brussels-based European Emergency Number Association (EENA), it will begin training first responders in Europe on how to use UAVs in rescue operations. According to the article, the partnership program “will give carefully selected teams of European pilots access to Phantom, Inspire, and Matric 100 (M100) drones.” The article adds that the first two pilot training events, slated for May and September this year, will take place in Denmark and Ireland. (Image Credit: Capricorn4049 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (The Verge)
 



8 April 2016
SpaceX Set to Resume Supply Missions to ISS Today

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgThe New York Times reports that following a nine-month hiatus due to a rocket failure, SpaceX is set to resume its resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, when it is scheduled to launch its Dragon spacecraft into orbit and deliver nearly 7,000 pounds of cargo from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The article notes that if SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off successfully, the Dragon capsule will dock at the ISS on Sunday, where it will remain until May, “and then return to Earth carrying experimental samples including blood samples of Scott Kelly.” The article adds that following four previous unsuccessful attempts, SpaceX will once again, “try to land the booster, on a floating platform instead of on land.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Times)



7 April 2016
FAA Panel Recommends Easing Drone Restrictions

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgSeveral news outlets report on a new set of proposed rules from an FAA panel of experts. CNN Money writes that the proposed rules include allowing drones to “fly 20 feet above people’s heads, and have a 10-foot buffer space on all sides, mostly for safety during [takeoff] and landing.” CNN Money explains that the rules were proposed by a panel that included “members from the drone industry, GoogleX, 3D Robotics, Intel, DJI, airlines and realtors.” The article adds that the FAA will review the proposed rules before releasing them for public comment ahead of the FAA’s formal proposal. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (CNN Money)



7 April 2016
SpaceX to Ferry Inflatable Habitat to ISS On Friday

BEAM_NASA.pngOn its website, ABC News (4/6) reports that when SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule lifts off toward the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, “it will be carrying with it an inflatable habitat that could one day be used by astronauts traveling to Mars or on another deep space mission.” The article explains that the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is “a fabric room NASA envisions astronauts will be able to set up and pack up with ease,” adding that it also contains sensors to monitor temperature and radiation changes as well as how it may respond to any impact from potential orbital debris. In a blog post, NASA explained, “When we are traveling to Mars or beyond, astronauts need habitats that are both durable and easy to transport and to set up. That’s where expandable technology comes in.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (ABC News)



6 April 2016
Google Awarded Patent for UAV Delivery of Medical Equipment

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpg Quartz reports that on Tuesday, Google was awarded a patent for a “device that can call for a drone to fly in with specific medical equipment” in case of emergencies. Quartz describes the system as “a cross between an old HAM radio and one of the callboxes found on the sides of highways” that would deliver necessary medical equipment based on the type of emergency reported. (Image Credit: YouTube/ X: The Moonshot Factory)
More Info (Quartz)



6 April 2016
NASA Science Chief John Grunsfeld to Retire at End of Month

JohnGrunsfeld_NASA.png SPACE reports that on Tuesday, NASA officials announced that John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, will retire on April 30, 2016, following nearly a quarter-century of service at the space agency. The article notes that Grunsfeld has led NASA’s Science Mission Directorate since January 2012, “and has therefore been in charge for big moments such as the Mars rover Curiosity’s Red Planet touchdown in August 2012 and the New Horizons spacecraft’s epic flyby of Pluto in July 2015.” In a statement on his pending retirement, Grunsfeld, a former astronaut, said, “After exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life in the universe, I can now boldly go where I’ve rarely gone before – home.” Meanwhile, in the same statement, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden added, “John leaves an extraordinary legacy of success that will forever remain a part of our nation’s historic science and exploration achievements.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)



6 April 2016
SpaceX, Boeing Still On Schedule for 2017 Astronaut Launches

Boeing_CST-100.jpg SPACE reports that according to NASA, SpaceX and Boeing are still on schedule to begin launching astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2017. Speaking to reporters near the Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s Misty Snopkowski, who is working with SpaceX, said, “We’re currently targeting next year for our [first] launch to the space station with those providers,” adding, “We’ve been working with the providers to make sure they meet our human spaceflight requirements for the astronauts, and they also have to go through a really rigorous safety-review process to make sure that their design is safe and keeps our astronauts safe on their journey up to the space station.” (Image: Boeing CST-100 spacecraft. Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)



5 April 2016
New Report Finds Carrier Complaints Rising, Virgin America Ranked Best Airline

VirginAmerica_Wiki.pngThe AP reports that according to the annually published Airline Quality Rating report, while U.S. flights are increasingly arriving on time and carriers are losing less luggage, but still flier complaints rose 34 percent last year, reaching the highest level since 2000. In the new report, published on Monday, co-authors Dean Headley, a professor at Wichita State University, and Brent Bowen, dean of the aviation school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, “use publicly available information from the U.S. Department of Transportation [DOT] to rate the airlines for on-time performance, baggage handling, bumping passengers because of oversold flights, and complaints filed with the government.” (Image Credit: Kentaro Iemoto via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)



5 April 2016
FAA Data Reveals Risk of UAVs to Aircraft

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommons.jpg Bloomberg News reports in depth on the “potentially more fearsome prospect” of UAVs entering airport airspace, incidents which the FAA says “have surged since 2014, with more than 1,200 reports nationwide last year,” according to a Bloomberg News analysis of agency data released last week. Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) President Tim Cannoll said of the risk drones pose to airliners, “We’re not kidding when we say it has to be mitigated as a threat. ...Your imagination can run wild with the problems of hitting hard metal objects at 200 mph.” In a statement released with its data the FAA said that it hopes “to send a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal.” (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



5 April 2016
FAA Committee Recommends Standards for Commercial UAV Use

DJIPhantom3_AssociatedPressAlexBrandon_Purchased.jpgThe AP reports that a government-sponsored committee is “recommending standards” that could “clear the way” for the use of UAVs to deliver packages, record news footage, inspect cell phone towers, and provide other services that require flight over populated areas and crowds. The recommendations call for the creation of different categories of UAVs: smaller-sized UAVs could fly “at least 20 feet” over the heads of crowds, while larger-sized UAVs might not be able to fly over crowds or be subject to other restrictions. The FAA formed the committee in February in order to expedite the rule-making process. The committee is made up of 27 companies or trade associations, including UAV manufacturers, as well as “airline and private pilots, airports, crop dusting companies, and helicopter operators.” (Image: DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



4 April 2016
Blue Origin Launches, Lands Reusable Rocket for Third Consecutive Time

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOrigin.png USA Today reported that on Saturday, Blue Origin “took another step toward making reusable rockets a reality” by successfully launching and landing its New Shepard vehicle for a third consecutive time. Declaring the mission a success on Twitter, Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos “said the rocket’s hydrogen-fueled BE-3 engine fired properly to enable a soft booster touchdown in west Texas, followed by a crew capsule landing nearby under parachutes. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
More Info (USA Today)



4 April 2016
Drone Racing Gaining Popularity

DroneRacer.pngThe CBS Evening News reported that drone races are growing in popularity across the U.S. The pilots wear first-person view (FPV) goggles that receive “streaming video from a camera on the drone” and give “racers the sensation that they are flying, that they are the drone.” Drone racing can be “disorienting because your body is giving you one sensation and your eyes are giving you something else,” according to expert drone racer Chad Nowak. CBS News also carries the story on its website.
(Image Credit: HeliPal via YouTube)
More Info (CBS Evening News)



4 April 2016
Bolden Discusses Journey to Mars, Commercial Space Partnerships

CharlesBolden.jpgIn an interview with CNBC (4/2), NASA Administrator Charles Bolden discussed planning for the journey to Mars and the commercial space industry. Speaking with CNBC’s “On the Money,” Bolden said, “We think we’re on the right trajectory to get humans to Mars in the 2030’s,” explaining that “we’ve been sending precursor missions to Mars for almost 50 years now.” Remarking on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners, Bolden said, “They’re good for NASA and the nation, primarily because they help us to bring launches back to American soil, whether it’s for cargo or people.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CNBC) (Image Credit: NASA)



1 April 2016
Four Companies Leave Small UAV Coalition to Form Consumer-Focused Group

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg USA Today reports that four member companies of the Small UAV Coalition—DJI Technology, Parrot, GoPro, and 3DR—have left the advocacy group to form their own organization, which will specifically focus on consumer issues. The article explains that as the UAV market continues to mature, “a shifting of needs was inevitable,” since larger companies such as Amazon, Google, and others “are looking more at drones for delivery, cargo and more commercial uses,” while consumers are using UAVs for photography, racing and other recreational purposes. In a statement, Adam Lisberg, DJI Technology spokesman, explained that “the business is growing so big that we thought we would most benefit [from] a group focused on the issues that are important to small drone manufacturers and our customers.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



31 March 2016
State Farm Begins Using Drones for Roof Inspections

Drone_Over_Neighborhood_AP_Purchased.png USA Today reports that State Farm, “the first insurer to win approval from the [FAA] to use drones commercially, has launched hundreds of experimental drone flights for routine roof inspections.” Airwave CEO Jonathan Downey, who is working with State Farm, said that companies are increasingly likely to use drones for inspections in difficult-to-reach as well as dangerous places. He adds that along with reducing employee risks, drones are less expensive than helicopters. The article mentions that the FAA is “granting more than 4,200 special permits for companies to fly drones for commercial purposes such as aerial photography and crop monitoring.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



31 March 2016
Oil Industry Woes Spurring Blimp Revival

LMC_Hybrid_Airship_AP_Purchased.jpgIn continuing coverage, Bloomberg News reports that Lockheed Martin has landed an order to deliver as many as 12 airships to UK-based Straightline Aviation (SLA) as decreased oil revenues have prompted cost-conscious fossil fuel companies “to consider aircraft able to carry workers and cargo to remote locations without the need for hefty investment in runways and roads.” In an interview, SLA Chief Executive Officer Mike Kendrick remarked, “Building huge infrastructure might have been acceptable when oil was at $90 a barrel, but nowadays they need to make economies like the rest of the planet.”  (Image: Straightline Aviation (SLA) signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 12 Lockheed Martin Hybrid Airships. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



31 March 2016
NASA Set to Officially Unveil Green Rocket Fuel Mission Spacecraft Today

NASA_GPIM_ArtistsConcept.png Fox News reports that Colorado-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies, which was selected in 2012 to research alternative rocket fuels for NASA, will open its doors today to reveal NASA’s Green Propulsion Infusion Mission (GPIM) spacecraft. According to the article, the space vehicle is scheduled to launch in early 2017, “where it will have the ability to display its hydroxyl ammonium nitrate-based fuel and oxidizer propellant blend – known as AF-M315E.” In a recent overview of the GPIM, NASA explained the benefits of the fuel, stating, “AF-M315E has significantly reduced toxicity levels compared to hydrazine, making it easier and safer to store and handle,” adding that it “also requires fewer handling restrictions and potentially shorter launch processing times, resulting in lower costs.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Fox News)



30 March 2016
FAA Increases Altitude Limit For Commercial UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg The Hill reports on the FAA’s announcement of a new policy that will allow certain small, commercial unmanned aircraft vehicles to fly as high as 400 feet, doubling the currently authorized altitude of 200 feet, except in restricted airspace and other prohibited areas. The article explains that “the regulation applies to commercial and governmental unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators with a Section 333 exemption and an aircraft that weighs less than 55 pounds.” The regulatory change could decrease the workload for Certificate of Waiver or Authorization applications by up to 40%, according to The Hill. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that “Expanding the authorized airspace for these operations means government and industry can carry out unmanned aircraft missions more quickly and with less red tape.” Brian Wynne, head of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), said the agency’s move “provides greater flexibility to those receiving FAA exemptions.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (The Hill)



30 March 2016
WSJournal Analysis: Airships Poised For Return Nearly 80 Years After Hindenburg Disaster

LMC_Hybrid_Airship_AP_Purchased.jpgIn an analysis, the Wall Street Journal reports that almost 80 years after the Hindenburg disaster, companies such as Lockheed Martin say there is renewed commercial interest in giant airships. According to the article, England-based aviation-services company Straightline Aviation recently signed a $480 million deal with Lockheed to purchase 12 new hybrid blimps, each 280 feet long and able to carry up to 47,000 pounds of cargo. The article notes that unlike traditional blimps, hybrid vessels use both internal gas systems and their aerodynamic design to facilitate flight, which provides them with great fuel efficiency and makes them attractive for operations that involve the transport of heavy loads to distant and secluded locations. (Image: Straightline Aviation (SLA) signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 12 Lockheed Martin Hybrid Airships. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



29 March 2016
Boeing 737 Max 8’s Leap-1B Engines Significantly More Efficient

Boeing737Max.jpgSaj Ahmad, Strategic Aero Research chief analyst, writes in the Khaleej Times (ARE) that the Boeing 737 Next Generation family features “some of the most radically advanced technologies and safety systems” and is “one of the safest airplanes you can hope to fly on.” Ahmad adds that the Boeing 737 Max 8, “powered exclusively by CFM International’s Leap-1B engine,” has a “good chance” of entering service sooner than originally anticipated. The engine features “15 per cent fuel efficiency over the existing CFM56-7BE engine.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Khaleej Times)



28 March 2016
Flirtey Completes First FAA-Sanctioned UAV Delivery to Urban Target

DroneDeliveryTest1_France_AP.jpgThe AP reported that drone delivery startup Flirtey made history on March 10, 2016 by successfully delivering a package in Hawthorne, Nevada, via drone, the first time a UAV has made a fully autonomous delivery in an urban setting in the United States. Flirtey also conducted the country’s first legal drone delivery in a rural zone, having previously delivered supplies to a health clinic in provincial Virginia. The article noted that Nevada is one of the states approved by the FAA as a test site for unmanned aerial systems. (Image: A DPD Geopost prototype drone flies carrying a parcel during a test flight in Pourrieres, southern France, June 23, 2015. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



28 March 2016
Lockheed Martin to Develop Hypersonic SR-72 UAS

SR-71B_Blackbird_NASA831_wiki.pngThe Washington Post reported that the Pentagon is “pushing an effort to develop new hypersonic weapons capable of flying at Mach 5 and faster,” partially in response to concerns that China is developing hypersonic technology that could give it a tactical advantage, and that Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is developing an unmanned follow-on to the SR-71 Blackbird called the SR-72 that could fly at Mach 6. The article also noted that Raytheon won a DARPA contract last year to develop a Mach 5 aircraft and, more recently, won a $20 million NASA contract to develop a faster-than-sound passenger jet. (Image: SR-71B Blackbird, NASA 831. Credit: USAF/Judson Brohmer - Armstrong Photo Gallery - via wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



25 March 2016
FAA Predicts 7 Million UAVs Will Swarm U.S. Skies by 2020

Drone_Over_Neighborhood_AP_Purchased.png Bloomberg News notes that according to an annual aviation forecast report released on Thursday by the FAA, annual UAV sales in the U.S. will reach a total of 2.5 million this year and climb to 7 million by 2020. The report indicates that UAV purchases are rising both for hobbyists and for commercial operators conducting inspections, aiding farmers, and monitoring construction sites. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



24 March 2016
Pentagon to Allocate $5 Billion On Space Investments In 2016

GPS_Sat_NASA.png Space News reports that on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that the Department of Defense (DoD) will allocate $5 billion in 2016 toward new space investments, including $2 billion for space control efforts “to address potential threats to U.S. space systems.” The article explains that DoD officials are “concerned about China and Russia developing anti-satellite systems, jamming and electronic warfare that could render national security satellites useless.” (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Space News)



24 March 2016
UAV Market to Grow Into a $100 Billion Industry In Five Years

DJI_Phantom4_AP.png Forbes reports on the growing UAV market, deeming it a “revolution” that has “all the earmarks of a new product category.” Last year, about one million drones were sold in the U.S. Thus far, nearly a billion dollars have been invested in UAV companies, which does not include spending from companies such as Boeing, General Atomics, Intel, and Qualcomm. According to Goldman Sachs, the UAV market will become a $100 billion industry within five years. Additionally, Forbes notes that “the future for drones is as much about policymakers and regulators as it is about the technologists.” Senator David Vitter (R-LA), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on small business and entrepreneurship, said, “The FAA’s failure to meet regulatory deadlines has limited the growth of the commercial “drone” industry.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Forbes)



23 March 2016
Senate Democrats Call for New Airport Security Measures In FAA Bill Following Brussels Attacks

AirportSecurity_Dulles_AP-Purchased.png Politico reports that following the terror bombings in Brussels, Senate Democrats “will push for a package of airport security measures as part of a must-pass reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.” Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced the plan on Tuesday, calling for “improving screening for Transportation Security Administration officers to place more emphasis on counterterrorism training, as well as adequate funding for those efforts,” and “for tougher vetting of aviation workers with access to security areas at airports.” In addition, Schumer’s plan also calls for “tightening up security at airport perimeters and providing sufficient funding to do so.” (Image: A security sign is posted at Air Canada at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 in Chantilly, Va. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Politico)



23 March 2016
Orbital ATK Cargo Ship Launches Toward ISS Under Light of Full Moon

OrbitalATKLaunch_22March2016_CreditNASA.png CBS News reports that an Atlas V rocket carrying an Orbital ATK cargo capsule bound for the International Space Station (ISS) “thundered to life” beneath the full moon Tuesday night, “lighting up the night sky with a rush of fiery exhaust from its Russian-built RD-180 first-stage engine.” According to the article, the Atlas V booster put on “a spectacular show” as it rose above Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, “smoothly accelerating as it burned up its first-stage load of liquid oxygen and RP-1 rocket fuel.” If the mission goes as planned, the cargo spacecraft “will catch up with the station early Saturday, pulling up to within about 30 feet and then standing by while Expedition 47 commander Timothy Kopra, operating the station’s robot[ic] arm, locks onto a grapple fixture.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CBS News)



23 March 2016
Australia: “Highly Likely” That Mozambique Debris From Missing MH370

MA370_LaurentErrera_Wiki.pngThe AP reports that an analysis conducted by a team of international investigators indicates that the two debris fragments recently found along the coast of Mozambique are “highly likely” to belong to the mysteriously vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370). Noting that the discovered parts are consistent with panels from the missing Boeing 777 aircraft, Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement, “The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370.” Still, according to the Times, “the chances that the debris itself could offer any fresh clues into precisely where the plane crashed are slim.” (Image Credit: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)



22 March 2016
Orbital ATK Preps Cygnus for Fifth ISS Cargo Mission

ULA_AtlasV_FirstStage_NASA.png Seeking Alpha reports that Orbital ATK is in “final preparations” for the company’s Cygnus spacecraft mission to the International Space Station (ISS), and that “for the second time,” Cygnus, carrying approximately 7,900 pounds of cargo, will launch atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Seeking Alpha)



22 March 2016
First American-Made Airbus Jet Performs Successful Flight Test

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.pngThe AP reports that on Monday, Europe-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus performed the maiden test flight of its first American-made jetliner, taking off and landing the A321 passenger jet at its new facility near downtown Mobile, Alabama. In a statement following the three-hour test flight over the Gulf of Mexico, which included “a series of maneuvers and tests of all the airplane’s operating systems,” Alabama Governor Robert Bentley called the exercise a “major milestone” for the state’s aerospace sector, saying, “Aerospace and aviation industries are extremely important to Alabama, and it is exciting to know soon JetBlue will receive its first A321 proudly made in Alabama.” The article notes that the jetliner “will be delivered to purchaser JetBlue in a few weeks after final preparations.” (Image Credit: Don-vip - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)



22 March 2016
World’s Longest Aircraft Set For Maiden Flight this Spring

Airlander10_FirstFlight_HybridAirVehicles-YouTube.png Reuters reports that on Monday, UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles announced that the world’s longest aircraft, the 92-meter long Airlander 10, is set to perform its maiden flight later this spring. At a media event showcasing the massive airship, Hybrid Air Vehicles said that the vessel could remain airborne for up to two weeks, and indicated that it could be “useful for humanitarian missions or coastguard monitoring,” according to the article. Reuters explains that the UK-based company is looking to sell the Airlander 10 to potential customers who are looking to ferry cargo and delivery aid for the purposes of surveillance, communications, or leisure. (Image Credit: Hybrid Air Vehicles via YouTube)
More Info (Reuters)



21 March 2016
Future of UAS Industry Considered

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg Newsweek reported on the burgeoning UAS industry and “the future of drones being a significant part of a connected world.” The article mentioned that the FAA’s Marke Gibson spoke of the “huge commercial benefit” of UAS technology, which will have to come with sound safety regulations and a “balance between the public trust and safety and enabling innovation.” Likewise, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that his agency will not “sit back and say, ‘OK, we’re done’” when it comes to UAS rules, as “Maintaining the highest levels of safety requires us to constantly evolve in our approach, whether we’re talking about commercial aircraft like Boeing 747s, or unmanned quadcopters that weigh a few pounds.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Newsweek)



21 March 2016
NASA Astronauts, Russian Cosmonauts Join Crew At ISS

Exp47-48_NASA.pngThe Orlando Sentinel reported that following a six-hour spaceflight lifting off from Kazakhstan, the Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS) at 11:09 ET on Friday after “orbiting the Earth four times to align with the station.” The article explained that during his stay at the ISS, Williams “will become the new American record holder for cumulative days in space, at 534, beating Scott Kelly’s one-year mission.” In addition, Williams will take command of the ISS on June 4, commencing Expedition 48 and marking his third expedition, which is also a record. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)



18 March 2016
Veteran Astronaut Jeff Williams Set To Launch For ISS On Record-Setting Mission

JeffWilliams_NASA.png USA Today reports that veteran NASA astronaut Jeff Williams is set to depart from Kazakhstan today on “a record-setting mission that will make him America’s most experienced space traveler.” When he returns from his six-month trip to the International Space Station (ISS), Williams will have spent a total of 534 days in space, “two weeks more than the mark NASA’s Scott Kelly set during a yearlong mission that ended this month and was the longest single U.S. flight.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



18 March 2016
U.S. Air Force Facing Pilot Shortage for Fighter Jets, Drones

NGC_RQ4_Wiki.png CNN reports that on Wednesday, during a subcommittee hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee,, U.S. Air Force General Herbert Carlisle warned that the service needs 511 additional fighter pilots as well as 200 more drone pilots in order to sufficiently fulfill its current military operations. In his testimony, Carlisle explained that “remote piloted aircraft enterprise is one that’s in high demand, we are in high demand for fighters as well, we don’t have enough of either.” (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (CNN)



17 March 2016
Senate Approves Amended FAA Extension

ATC-at-Dulles.jpg The Hill reports that on Thursday, the Senate approved a four-month extension of the FAA funding, unanimously approving “an amended version of legislation the House passed on Monday.” The difference between the Senate and House versions is the Senate’s extension of aviation taxes through July 15, shorter than the March 31, 2017 extension proposed by the House.  (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (The Hill)



17 March 2016
Former Astronaut Janet Kavandi Appointed Director Of NASA Glenn Research Center

JanetKavandi_2NASA.pngThe Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that following a year of serving as its deputy director, Janet Kavandi has been appointed as director of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio, becoming the first woman and former astronaut to be named to the post. Stepping into her new role, Kavandi succeeds Jim Free, who is in a new position at NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. Noting what he called her extraordinary leadership throughout her career at the agency, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “I know she’ll bring that same excellence to bear on Glenn’s critical role in our journey to Mars.” (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Cleveland Plain Dealer)



17 March 2016
FAA Approves Rule Allowing Drone Pilots to Fly During Emergencies

DJIPhantom_Capricorn4049_Wiki.png The Verge reports that since June 2015, the number of commercial drone operators in the U.S. has increased from 500 to more than 3,000, with the emergency services category growing the fastest. According to The Verge, “hundreds of drone pilots with no direct connection to local police, fire, or medical agencies have now been granted permission by the FAA to pursue emergency services missions with their drones, and to charge for that work.” However, an FAA spokeswoman said that even though drone pilots have FAA permission for emergency missions, other rules and regulations may prevent them from undertaking that type of mission. The article adds that Amazon and other tech companies have called “for regulations based on performance and safety standards.” (Image Credit: Capricorn4049 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (The Verge)



16 March 2016
Boeing Starts Assembly Of Next-Generation Dreamliner

Boeing787_Wikipedia.pngThe Chicago Sun-Times reports that in a press release distributed Monday Boeing announced that it has begun major assembly for the first unit of the 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft, putting it two weeks ahead of schedule. In the press release, Ken Sanger, vice president of 787 airplane development at Boeing, said, “We are taking all the right steps to ensure we integrate the 787-10 into the production system smoothly.” The Sun-Times notes that the 787-10 jet is a longer variant of the 787-9 Dreamliner, “which commercial airlines began using in 2014,” and adds that it “will undergo final assembly at a Boeing plant in South Carolina.” (Image: The first public appearance of the 787 on July 8, 2007. Credit: I, Yasobara via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Chicago Sun-Times)



16 March 2016
UAV Industry Concerned About Upcoming FAA Regulations

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Washington Post reports that on Wednesday, the Senate will consider “how much regulation is needed for a burgeoning industry that is projected to supply 2.8 million drones this year, with a bottom line rapidly approaching $1 billion in annual sales.” The Post adds that the FAA is expected to introduce regulations on drones weighing up to 55 pounds this spring. The article also mentions that the UAV industry is concerned about these new regulations, which may limit the development and use of newer UAV technologies. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Washington Post)



15 March 2016
ICAO Looks to Establish Commercial Space Tourism Guidelines

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_Purchased.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that at the Abu Dhabi aerospace symposium, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said that it plans to establish guidelines for commercial space tourism. The ICAO set a deadline of 2019 for proposals. The Journal notes that while the ICAO does not have any enforcement authority, its regulations often establish benchmarks for national laws. The article mentions that the FAA currently has a non-interference policy regarding regulation of commercial space tourism, noting that the FAA did not step in even after that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crash in 2014. (Image: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo at a Virgin Galactic hangar at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA, Sept. 25, 2013. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



14 March 2016
Scott Kelly to Hang Up Spacesuit, Retire On April 1

ScottKelly_ISS_NASA.pngThe AP reports that less than two weeks after returning from a record-long 340 day stay in space, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is “hanging up his spacesuit,” and will retire on April 1. In a post on Facebook, Kelly, who joined the U.S. Navy in 1987, wrote, ‘‘I look forward to continuing my 30 years of public service in a new role,” adding, ‘‘To continue toward any journey, we must always challenge ourselves to take the next step.’’ Additionally, in a statement issued by NASA, Kelly said, “This year-in-space mission was a profound challenge for all involved, and it gave me a unique perspective and a lot of time to reflect on what my next step should be on our continued journey to help further our capabilities in space and on Earth.’’ The Washington Post added that Kelly, “who has amassed a cult following thanks in large part to the steady stream of photos from space he posted to social media, tweeted, On my @NASA #retirement after a #YearInSpace: https://t.co/5InAr0R3se Thanks for following! The journey continues... pic.twitter.com/PIWpZlJ34K.” (Image Credit: NASA via YouTube)
More Info (Associated Press)



11 March 2016
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Celebrates 10 Years of Pioneering Scientific Work

MRO_NASA.pngThe Washington Post reports that NASA is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and notes that thus far it has lasted five times longer than its primary investigative mission, “delivering unprecedented data on Mars and its history back to scientists on Earth.” In a statement, Rich Zurek, NASA project scientist, said, “The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter remains a powerful asset for studying the Red Planet, with its six instruments all continuing capably a decade after orbit insertion.” The article explains that while NASA’s Mars rovers “get most of the attention,” the MRO “was responsible for last year’s studies on the possibility of seasonal liquid water on the Red Planet,” and the images it captures also “help scientists determine landing sites and new destinations for rovers.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Washington Post)



11 March 2016
Review: DJI Phantom 4 Is Obvious Choice for First-Time UAV Buyers

DJI_Phantom4_AP.png The Verge features a review of DJI’s newly released Phantom 4, highlighting the quadcopter’s autonomous obstacle avoidance and auto-tracking features. The review concludes that “the addition of these autonomous features makes it the obvious choice for anyone looking to purchase their first drone.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press –©)
More Info (The Verge)



11 March 2016
Thriller “Eye In The Sky” Highlights Ethical Considerations of Drone Warfare

HelenMirren_as_Col_KatherinePowell.pngIn a review for the New York Times , Stephen Holden writes that the Gavin Hood-directed drone thriller “Eye in the Sky” is “a grim, suspenseful farce in which unpredictable human behavior repeatedly threatens an operation of astounding technological sophistication.” According to Holden, the drone “reinforces the Orwellian notion that nowadays there are no hiding places if the powers-that-be are out to get you.” Holden highlights the various ethical considerations presented by the film, and notes that it does not “present as overtly critical a view of drone warfare” as the recently released “Good Kill.”  Aerospace America also published a review. (Image: Helen Mirren stars as Col. Katherine Powell in Gavin Hood’s “Eye in the Sky." Credit: Aerospace America )
More Info (Aerospace America)
More Info (New York Times)



10 March 2016
Qatar Airways CEO Prepared to “Walk Away” from A320Neo Deal Over Engine Issue

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.png Bloomberg News reports that Qatar Airways said it could soon cancel its $6.4 billion order with Airbus for the manufacturer’s upgraded A320neo jetliner if supplier Pratt & Whitney is unable to resolve a cooling issue affecting the aircraft’s engine. The article notes that if the issue cannot be resolved, the Doha-based carrier “could potentially switch its contract for 50 planes and 30 options to jets powered by the CFM International venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA, [although] first deliveries aren’t due until next year.” (Image Credit: Don-vip via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



10 March 2016
Phantom 2 Breaks UAV-Altitude Record – and Law – with 11,000 Foot Flight

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg Popular Mechanics reports that a European UAV hobbyist has apparently flown a DJI Phantom 2 to a record altitude of 11,000 feet. According a video posted on YouTube, the UAV reached the altitude in three-and-a-half minutes, draining its power, and it quickly returned back to the ground before the remaining 27% of its battery life ran out, landing with just 4% left. The article explains that in order to accomplish the feat, “the operator most likely had to disable software restrictions that prevent out-of-the-box hobby drones from flying above a certain limit,” as DJI’s quadcopters are capped at a 1,500 feet. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Popular Mechanics)



9 March 2016
United Confirms Order of 25 Additional Boeing 737 Jets

Boeing737Max.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that United Continental Holdings has confirmed that it will purchase 25 additional Boeing 737 jets, saying that the aircraft will be delivered at the start of 2017, and will replace the smaller 50-seat regional jets that the carrier is phasing out of its fleet. The article notes that the deal allows Boeing to stymie the efforts of Canada-based Bombardier and Brazil-based Embraer to make inroads with United, “considered one of a small global group of airlines whose stamp of approval can open doors for a manufacturer seeking credibility.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



8 March 2016
Missing Malaysian Jet Remains “Agonizing Mystery” Two Years After Disappearance

MA370_LaurentErrera_Wiki.png Bloomberg News reports that on Tuesday, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, said that his government remains dedicated to solving the “agonizing mystery” of MH370, “as the country marks the second anniversary of the aircraft’s disappearance.” The article notes that the search efforts to find the jet, covering 120,000 square kilometers of the southern Indian Ocean, are slated to be complete in June. In an email on Tuesday, Najib said that if the efforts prove unsuccessful, officials from Malaysia, Australia, and China will coalesce “to determine the way forward.” Najib also said, “The search has been the most challenging in aviation history,” adding that he remains “hopeful” that the aircraft will be found during the current search efforts, which have thus far covered 85,000 square kilometers. (Image Credit: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



8 March 2016
Orbital ATK Plans In-Space Satellite Servicing

InOrbitSatelliteServicing_NASAArtistsImpression.png Reuters reports that on Monday, Orbital ATK said that within six to eight weeks it “hopes to announce” a contract to extend “the life and uses of aging commercial satellites in geosynchronous orbit,” and quotes an Orbital ATK official who said that 70 of the 380 communications satellites in orbit could need servicing to replenish their propellant fuel. Reuters reports that the company plans to operate 10 MEV spacecraft that can perform refueling and repositioning services. (Image: Artist's concept. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)
More Info (Reuters)



8 March 2016
NASA to Livestream Total Eclipse This Evening 

Solar_Eclipse_Wiki.png Yahoo! Good Morning America reports that on Tuesday, a full solar eclipse “will be visible to people in parts of southeast Asia, while people in parts of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa will be able to enjoy a partial solar eclipse, according to NASA.” The article notes that NASA will live-stream the total eclipse, which is predicted to happen between 8:38 p.m. and 8:42 p.m. EST Tuesday night. (Image Credit: Sancho Panza via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Yahoo! Good Morning America)
More Info (NASA)



7 March 2016
Scott Kelly Speaks About His Return to Earth

ScottKelly_ISS_NASA.pngIn a front-page article, the Washington Post reported that after nearly a year of “whirling through space,” NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned home last week “invigorated by the breathtaking views he photographed throughout his odyssey for the gravity-bound denizens of Earth.” The article highlighted that despite the widespread popularity of Kelly’s social media presence, the chief goal of his one-year mission “was an experiment in analyzing the physical and psychological effects of long-term spaceflight in anticipation of an eventual manned mission to Mars.” (Image Credit: NASA via YouTube)
More Info (Washington Post)



7 March 2016
SpaceX Succeeds On Fifth Launch Attempt; Rocket Lands Hard at Sea

Falcon9Launch_CapeCanaveral_NASA.pngThe AP reported that on their fifth attempt in just under two weeks, SpaceX successfully launched an SES communications satellite into orbit Friday evening on its fifth attempt in one-and-a-half weeks. While SpaceX also attempted to perform a rocket landing on an ocean barge situated 400 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, but immediately before the rocket was expected to touch down, “the TV camera on the platform cut out, drawing loud groans from the crowd gathered at company headquarters in Hawthorne, California.” Posting on Twitter about an hour after the hard landing, CEO Elon Musk disclosed, “Didn’t expect this one to work [very hot reentry], but next flight has a good chance.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



4 March 2016
AIAA Executive Director Speaks at National Press Club on “Ensuring U.S. Leadership In Space”

SandyMagnus_NationalPressClub_2_4Mar2016.pngA coalition of space organizations today released a joint white paper, “ Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space,” at a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The work highlights and addresses the challenges facing continued U.S. exploration and use of space, and the need for the next administration and Congress to make space policy a priority. The paper offers sensible policy solutions to the four most common challenges that continued space exploration and use efforts face – unpredictable budgeting, foreign competition, the hostile space environment, and workforce trends. (Image: Sandy Magnus, AIAA executive director, provides remarks on "Ensuring U.S. Leadership In Space," at the National Press Club on 4 March 2016. Credit: Frank Slazer, @FSlazer, VP, Space Systems, AIA)
More Info (AIAA)



3 March 2016
Aircraft Debris Found In Mozambique May Belong to MH370

MA370_LaurentErrera_Wiki.pngSeveral media outlets report that American tourist Blaine Allen Gibson found a piece of aircraft wreckage washed ashore in Mozambique. It is believed that the piece of wreckage may belong to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously disappeared somewhere over the South China Sea almost two years ago. While breaking the story for NBC Nightly News, correspondent Tom Costello said that Gibson sent a photograph of the wreckage “to the search command center in Australia which sent it to investigators in Malaysia, the U.S. and at Boeing.” Costello added, “Sources close to the investigation tell NBC News there’s a high probability the debris is part of the skin of a horizontal stabilizer on the tail of a Boeing 777 and very possibly from MH-370.” Reuters reports that the NTSB and Boeing both declined to comment on the discovery, and referred questions to authorities in Malaysia. (Image Credit: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



3 March 2016
Kelly Embraces “Fresh, Frigid” Air Upon Return to Earth

KellyReturnsISS_NASA.jpg CBS News reports that Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko ended their record 340-day stay at the International Space Station (ISS), “with a fiery Super Tuesday plunge to Earth, settling in a jarring rocket-assisted touchdown on the steppe of Kazakhstan to close out a medical research voyage that may help pave the way for eventual flights to Mars.” Veteran ISS astronaut Jeffrey Williams told CBS News in an interview on Monday that a Soyuz landing is “quite a ride.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CBS News)



3 March 2016
Army Preparing for Next-Generation Helicopters

V-22_Osprey_Wiki.jpgIn an extensive article, Scout reports that the U.S. Army is preparing for its first official flights of two technologically advanced, next-generation helicopters, currently being developed to include such capabilities as “flying faster, flying farther without needing to refuel, operating in high-hot conditions and having an ability to both reach high speeds and hover like a helicopter.” According to the article, the new aircraft are part of the Army-led Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) initiative, “aimed at paving the way toward ultimately engineering a new fleet of aircraft for all the services to take flight by 2030.” In an interview, Dan Bailey, JMR TD program director, said that the high-tech helicopters are expected to begin ground testing later this year, and initial flight testing will begin in 2017. (Image: A V-22 Osprey flies a test mission. Credit: James Haseltine, U.S. Air Force, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Scout)



2 March 2016
Scott Kelly Returns to Earth After Record Stay In Space

KellyReturnsISS_NASA.jpg CNN reports that after 340 days in space, the longest-ever stint for a NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly is now back on Earth, having safely landed late Tuesday night in the Kazakhstan desert, alongside Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. According to CNN, images from the landing site show Kelly “pumping his fist and giving a thumbs up after being hoisted from the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that brought the trio back.” The article adds that all three of the space travelers underwent field tests immediately after exiting the return capsule, noting that while long stays in space could negatively impact a person’s eyesight and bone strength, Kelly “said last week that physically, he feels pretty good.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CNN)



2 March 2016
DJI Launches New Autonomous UAV

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg Bloomberg News reports that China-based UAV developer DJI is providing “an answer to concerns that amateur pilots will crash their aircraft into things” with the launch of its most recent product, the Phantom 4 quadcopter, which “uses multiple cameras and software to sense and avoid obstacles automatically.” The article explains that using a mobile app, operators “can tap on a destination and the drone will choose the best route to get there,” and, while the aircraft is flying, “pilots can focus on controlling the camera without worrying about navigation.” According to the article, semi-autonomous UAVs such as the Phantom 4 “could help appease U.S. regulators and politicians,” as legislators have called on developers “to create technology that would make it impossible for the devices to operate in restricted areas.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



1 March 2016
Scott Kelly Hands Over Command of ISS to Tim Kopra Ahead of Today’s Return

scottKelly_NASA.jpg The Telegraph (UK) reports that on Monday, NASA’s Scott Kelly handed over the reins of the International Space Station (ISS) to fellow astronaut Tim Kopra, “as he prepares to make his return to Earth after spending a year in space.” During a special ceremony at the ISS, Kelly called his pending departure “bittersweet.” According to the article, Kelly “will leave the ISS and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Tuesday March 1 after 340 days in space,” and “will be joined by Russian cosmonaut colleague Mikhail Kornienko, his roommate for the past year,” and cosmonaut Sergey Volkov.
(Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (The Telegraph)



1 March 2016
NASA Unveils Design for Quiet Supersonic Jetliner

QueSST_NASA.png USA Today reports that on Monday, NASA unveiled its design of a supersonic aircraft capable of flying at speeds of 1,100 mph, nearly twice as fast as modern commercial jetliners and comparable to the retired Concorde, “but without that jet’s sonic boom.” According to the article, the “weird-looking” new jet, coined Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST), features “a long, skinny nose, oddly angled wings and a tail fin folded into what looks like an origami airplane.” The article explains that while supersonic jets normally create sonic booms from shock waves formed as they cut through the air, QueSST “would be designed to dissipate the many small shock waves so they can’t meld together.” NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said that QueSST’s signature sound would therefore be “more like a soft thump,” rather than “the annoying sonic boom that currently prohibits commercial supersonic flight over land.” (Image: artist’s concept of a possible QueSST x-plane design. Credit: Lockheed Martin via NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



1 March 2016
U.S. Air Force Announces New Partnerships to Replace Russian Engines

RD-80engine_Wiki.jpgThe Los Angeles Times reports that on Monday, Aerojet Rocketdyne and United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced the formation of a public-private partnership with the U.S. Air Force “to develop an American-made rocket propulsion system to replace the Russian engine currently being used to blast many government satellites into orbit.” The agreement will fund the development of Aerojet’s AR1 engine, intended to replace the Russian-made RD-180, which powers ULA’s Atlas V rocket. In addition, the Air Force is set to contribute two-thirds of the total investment needed to complete the project by 2019, including an initial $115.3 million “for a total agreement value of $804 million.” ULA CEO Tory Bruno stated that the rocket launch company “continues to work with both Blue Origin and Aerojet Rocketdyne to pursue two options for a next-generation American engine and that is why we’re teaming with two of the world’s leading propulsion companies.” (Image: RD-180 test firing. Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)



29 February 2016
SpaceX Aborts Third Consecutive Launch Attempt, Seconds Before Liftoff

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpg USA Today reports that just seconds before a planned liftoff on Sunday night, SpaceX “scrubbed its third attempt in five days to launch a commercial communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.” Explaining the aborted launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk “said on Twitter that a low thrust alarm led computers to cut off the rocket’s nine Merlin 1D main engines about a second before it would have lifted off from Launch Complex 40.” Musk elaborated that the issue was caused, in part, by the rocket sitting on the launch pad for 35 minutes longer than expected after a boat off the coast entered its flight path. According to the article, the delay “caused liquid oxygen loaded into the rocket’s propellant tanks to heat up, and a ‘helium bubble triggered (the) alarm,’ Musk said.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



29 February 2016
Air Force Designates Next-Generation Bomber B-21, Unveils Artist Rendering

USAF_B-21Bomber_ArtistRendering_USAF.png Reuters reported that on Friday, Air Force Secretary Deborah James revealed the first artist’s rendering of the next-generation long-range bomber (LRS-B) developed by Northrop Grumman, and disclosed that the new stealth bomber has been officially designated as the B-21. Speaking at the annual Air Warfare Symposium hosted by the Air Force Association, James said that the name of the new aircraft will be decided in a contest among service members. (Image Credit: USAF)
More Info (Reuters)



29 February 2016
Kelly’s Year In Space Highlighted

scottKelly_NASA.jpgIn continuing coverage, USA Today reported that during his tenure at the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will return to Earth this Thursday, “documented his year in hundreds of social media posts.” The article highlighted Kelly’s “#YearInSpace,” describing it as “a year of Earth photography, spacewalks and freeze-dried food.” Among other events, the article noted that Kelly “watched Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos defeat the Carolina Panthers with the rest of America in Super Bowl 50,” and “captured a stunning photo of the blizzard that hit Washington, D.C., with nearly three feet of snow in mid-January.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



26 February 2016
SpaceX Scrubs Satellite Launch for Second Time

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgIn continuing coverage, USA Today reports that SpaceX once again aborted the rescheduled launch of its satellite-carrying Falcon 9 booster, which was slated to liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday following a scrubbed mission a day prior. The article notes that SpaceX, which has not announced a new launch date, delayed its initial launch attempt on Wednesday “to ensure that liquid oxygen in the two-stage rocket’s fuel system would be kept as cold as possible, improving the rocket’s performance.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



26 February 2016
House GOP Leaders Scrap Plan To Privatize Air Traffic Control

ATC-at-Dulles.jpgSeveral major national news outlets report that House Republican leaders are scrapping the FAA reauthorization bill that would separate air traffic control from the FAA. GOP leaders are instead planning to bring a temporary reauthorization measure before the House. According to the AP, Republicans report that details about the temporary extension are still being considered.  (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (Associated Press)



26 February 2016
Utah Bills Would Allow Law Enforcement to Shoot Down UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe AP reports that two Utah legislators are proposing bills that would allow law enforcement officials to better deal with interference from UAVs during emergency response operations. According to the article, state Sen. Wayne Harper has proposed legislation, which was debated on Thursday, that would allow law enforcement officials to “neutralize” UAVs, “which could include shooting them, jamming their signals or convincing their operators to move them.” Meanwhile, state Rep. David Lifferth – who is sponsoring a different bill, which is yet to be debated – “said he came up with the idea after hearing of numerous incidents in which law enforcement had to stop fighting fires because drones flew too close.” After noting that he supports the technology, he added, “if you get in the way of some acute activity you run the risk of losing it.”  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



25 February 2016
NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Shares His Experiences In Orbit Ahead of Next Week’s Return to Earth

scottKelly_NASA.jpg USA Today reports that on Wednesday evening, SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying an SES-9 satellite. The launch is “the first of what could be three missions this year for European satellite operator SES.” According to USA Today, the launch of the SES-9 commercial communications satellite highlights SpaceX’s comeback from a failed Falcon 9 launch attempt last June, “as the company flies an upgraded version of the rocket for the second time since December.” The article adds that while SpaceX will once again attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform situated about 400 miles offshore, the company also said that “a successful landing is not expected.”(Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



25 February 2016
FAA Considers Allowing Drones to Fly Over People

Drone_Over_Neighborhood_AP_Purchased.pngSeveral major news sources report that the FAA is considering drone regulations that would allow some drones to fly over people who are not associated with the aircraft. The FAA announced on Wednesday that it established an advisory panel to develop recommendations. Reports point out that the panel has until April 1 to submit its recommendations. USA Today reports that the April 1 deadline sets a “blistering pace for federal regulators,” but adds that the “strategy worked in setting up a national registry for drone owners in December within weeks of a proposal.” On Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “The department continues to be bullish on new technology.” He added, “The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety.” USA Today mentions that the FAA, until now, “has discouraged drone flights over people who aren’t associated with the aircraft.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



24 February 2016
SpaceX Falcon 9 Set To Launch SES-9 Satellite

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpg USA Today reports that on Wednesday evening, SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying an SES-9 satellite. The launch is “the first of what could be three missions this year for European satellite operator SES.” According to USA Today, the launch of the SES-9 commercial communications satellite highlights SpaceX’s comeback from a failed Falcon 9 launch attempt last June, “as the company flies an upgraded version of the rocket for the second time since December.” The article adds that while SpaceX will once again attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform situated about 400 miles offshore, the company also said that “a successful landing is not expected.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)



24 February 2016
Giant Facebook Drone Preparing to Go Online

FacebookUAV2_YouTube.jpg Popular Science reports that despite recent setbacks in India, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to move forward with his ambitious goal “to connect the world through his philanthropic organization, Internet.org,” a vision that heavily relies on “a drone infrastructure, to fly over remote locations and beam internet access down to the ground.” The article adds that on Tuesday, Zuckerberg wrote that the social media giant “has been flying prototypes of its drones every week, and [that] the company is in the process of building a full-scale aircraft for a larger test.” The Facebook CEO also wrote about the drone, known as Aquila, which has a 139-foot wing span. “It has solar panels on the wings and propellers for thrust. It communicates using lasers (!!) and it can fly for 3-6 months in the air before having to land again. It should work in all weather conditions.”  (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
More Info (Popular Science)



23 February 2016
UN Agency Bans Lithium Batteries As Cargo On Passenger Planes

787DreamlinerBatteryProblems_wiki.png NBC News reports that on Monday, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) banned cargo shipments of lithium ion batteries on passenger planes, despite opposition from the rechargeable batteries industry. The FAA said that one such battery in the hold is enough to cause an explosion if it overheats and could result in a “catastrophic hull loss” in a process called “thermal runaway.” While the UN agency’s decision is not binding, most countries abide by its standards. The decision is also backed by the FAA, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the National Transportation Safety Board. (Image Credit: NTSB via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (NBC News)



23 February 2016
Airbus Urged to Produce More Jets for China Amid Booming Demand

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.png Bloomberg News reports that Chinese budget carrier Spring Airlines wants Airbus to manufacture more aircraft since demand in China is growing rapidly. In an interview on Tuesday, Spring Airline Vice President Stephen Wang said that Airbus “isn’t producing fast enough,” adding that “for the Chinese aviation industry, there’s still at least 10 golden years, that is 10 years of big growth.” The article explains that the airline “wants more aircraft than it has ordered because of rising demand in a country projected to become the world’s biggest air travel and aerospace market in two decades.” (Image Credit: Don-vip - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



23 February 2016
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Cargo Ship Leaves ISS

Cygnus_Departs_ISS_NASAImage.png ExecutiveBiz reports that “an Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft has departed the … International Space Station after a 72-day stay there for astronauts to collect cargo and supplies for science experiments on the ISS.” Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK’s space systems group, said, “We now turn our efforts toward final preparations for the next Cygnus cargo mission in March with a continued focus on supporting the needs of the crew members aboard the ISS.” ExecutiveBiz explains that the company “has begun preparations for the next resupply mission called OA-6, which is awaiting approval from the Eastern Range for a March 22 launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (ExecutiveBiz)



22 February 2016
Virgin Galactic Unveils New SpaceShipTwo

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_Purchased.pngThe Los Angeles Times reported that billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson reentered the commercial space race on Friday with the rollout of Virgin Galactic’s new SpaceShipTwo at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The article noted that in a voice message played at the event, famed physicist Stephen Hawking named the new passenger spacecraft VSS Unity, and “said his ultimate ambition was to go to space,” adding, “If I’m able to go and if Richard will still take me, I will be very proud to fly on this spaceship.” Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic’s CEO George Whitesides stated that the company is “opening space to people in all walks of life,” remarking that “it’s time for all of humanity to get out and experience it.” The AP explained that Virgin’s new SpaceShipTwo is “designed to be flown by a crew of two and carry up to six passengers on a high-speed suborbital flight to the fringes of space,” where, at an altitude greater than 62 miles above Earth, “passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the Earth below.” (Image: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo at a Virgin Galactic hangar at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA, Sept. 25, 2013. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)



22 February 2016
Friday Marked Deadline to Register UAVs In FAA Database

DJIPhantom3_AssociatedPressAlexBrandon_Purchased.jpgSeveral news outlets provided coverage of Friday’s deadline for the public to register drones weighing between half a pound and 55 pounds with the FAA. Coverage focused on the FAA’s goal of raising awareness about federal UAS rules, as well as the steep penalties and possible criminal charges that face anyone who fails to register their UAV with the government. NBC News featured on its website a video showing FAA Administrator Michael Huerta saying that “We want to raise public awareness,” because “[f]or many operators or unmanned aircraft, particularly hobbyists, they may not be aware of what the rules are.” (Image: DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (NBC News)



22 February 2016
Record Number Apply To Become Next NASA Astronauts

BruceMcCandless_STS-41-B_NASA.jpg USA Today reported that on Friday, NASA announced that it has received more than 18,300 applications to join its next astronaut class, constituting a record total that “is more than double the previous record of 8,000 back in 1979, just before the space shuttle era began, and nearly three times the number who applied in 2012, just after the shuttle program’s retirement.” The article noted that NASA “plans to select eight to 14 astronaut candidates by mid-2017,” adding that its ultimate goal is “to send a crew to Mars by the late 2030s.”  (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)



19 February 2016
Virgin Galactic To Unveil New Spacecraft Today

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_Purchased.png USA Today reports that on Friday, Virgin Galactic will unveil its new SpaceShipTwo passenger spacecraft at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, replacing the first SpaceShipTwo vehicle that was destroyed during a deadly test flight on October 31, 2014. The article notes that the original spacecraft performed 55 test flights before it was destroyed, adding that Virgin Galactic officials “say each of its flights provided important lessons.” The article adds that after it is introduced today, the new SpaceShipTwo “will be subject to extensive on-the-ground testing before it’s carried aloft, unpowered, for further testing.” If the spacecraft successfully completes initial testing, “it will eventually be tested under its own rocket power.” Reuters notes that on Thursday, during a tour of Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne rocket design and manufacturing facility in California, Richard Branson expressed his eagerness to reenter the commercial space race alongside fellow high-profile entrepreneurs Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Paul Allen. Branson told Reuters, “To have three or four people who are fairly entrepreneurial competing with each other means we’ll be able to open up space at a fraction of the price that governments have been able to do so in the past.” (Image: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo at a Virgin Galactic hangar at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA, Sept. 25, 2013. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



19 February 2016
China’s Commercial UAS Market Set For Explosive Growth

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg CNBC reports that “research firm IDC recently said it estimates camera drone shipments in the Chinese mainland to hit 3 million units by 2019, up from their prediction of 390,000 shipments in 2016.” Jean Xiao, research manager for IDC China’s Client System Research Group, said, “Currently we can see that most drones in the Chinese market are used for photography. They are mainly applied in areas of media and consumer entertainment.” She added “in the near future with necessary technology development and government policy support, ‘drones will have various vertical applications in areas of agriculture, education, transactionals, and more.” CNBC notes “five things to watch out for” in the Chinese drone market, including: the importance of 4K cameras, stiff price competition, movement “from specialized to general distribution channels,” growth in commercial camera drones, and “more competition from new entrants.”  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (CNBC)



18 February 2016
Bombardier Lands First C-Series Order Since 2014, Still Expects to Cut 7,000 Jobs Amid Earnings Drop

Bombardier_CSeries_Wikipedia.jpgThe New York Times reports that on Wednesday, Bombardier disclosed its plans to lay off about 7,000 employees worldwide over the next two years as it struggles to attract buyers for its new C-Series aircraft. According to the article, the Montreal-based transportation company said that the layoffs, which will impact both its rail and aviation businesses, would affect nearly 3,400 jobs in Europe and another 2,800 jobs in Canada. Bombardier also revealed that Air Canada has signed a letter of intent to purchase 45 C-series jets, with options to buy an additional 30. The article notes that although Air Canada has not yet signed a formal contract, the deal puts Bombardier at 288 firm orders for its C-Series aircraft. The Wall Street Journal adds that the deal would be valued at about $3.8 billion at list prices, and could potentially increase to $6.4 billion if Air Canada chooses to buy the additional 30 jets. In addition, during a conference call with analysts, Bombardier’s CEO Alain Bellemare said that the firm order, its first since September 2014, constitutes a strong endorsement of the C-Series and marks a turnaround for the company. (Image Credit: Yan Gouger via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (New York Times)



18 February 2016
U.S. Navy Offers UAS For International Sale

FireScout_Wiki.png Defense News reports that “several of the U.S. Navy’s key unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are now available for international sale, including the diminutive Fire Scout helicopter able to operate from small surface ships.” Michael Sears, assistant program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons, international weapons, said that the systems available include “the RQ-21 Blackjack, a relatively new UAS in service with the US Marine Corps, built by Boeing Insitu; the MQ-8B Fire Scout made by Northrop Grumman, and the latter company’s MQ-4C Triton large-scale maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, which the Navy announced on Tuesday had completed its operational assessment.” Defense News points out that “Triton, previously known as the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, already has at least one probable international partner in Australia, which is in discussions with the US over the arrangement to buy the system.” (Image: Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout. Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Defense News)



18 February 2016
NTSB Backs Ban On Lithium Batteries On Planes

787DreamlinerBatteryProblems_wiki.png Air Cargo News reports that the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Air Navigation Commission has recommended a ban on the transport of rechargeable lithium ion batteries on passenger aircraft. NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart said that his agency “urges the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration [PHMSA] to take action on safety recommendations to reduce the likelihood and severity of potential cargo fires and to provide additional time for the crew to safely land a cargo aircraft in the event a fire is detected.” He added, “The NTSB wants shippers to physically separate lithium batteries from other flammable hazardous materials stowed on cargo aircraft and to establish maximum loading density requirements that restrict the quantities of lithium batteries and flammable hazardous materials.” According to the NTSB, “Lithium batteries carried as cargo can be a fire and explosion ignition source, a source of fuel to an existing fire, and subjected to overheating that can create an explosive condition.” While PHMSA “cannot issue regulations or enforce requirements,” Hart said “Congress has given PHMSA authority to do so if it finds credible evidence of a deficiency in the international regulations that has substantially contributed to the start or spread of an on-board fire.” (Image Credit: NTSB via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Air Cargo News)



17 February 2016
Jobs In U.S. Aerospace, Defense Sector Expected to Rise 3.2% This Year

FighterJetEngines_UndergoesTesting_USAirForce.png Reuters cites a study released on Tuesday by Deloitte that forecasts that the nation’s aerospace and defense industry will add 39,443 jobs in 2016, an increase of about 3.2% from 2015, marking the sector’s first job growth in five years. According to Deloitte, the rebound will be focused on the U.S. military market. (Image: A fighter jet engine undergoing testing. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



17 February 2016
SpaceX Successfully Completes Parachute Test

SpaceXParachuteTest_Feb2016_NASA.png SPACE reports that SpaceX has “successfully tested parachutes that will be used on its Dragon spacecraft to bring human passengers back to Earth,” adding that in the most recent Dragon test video, “four red-and-white chutes helped a simulated spacecraft descend to the desert near Coolidge, Arizona, after the system was released from a C-130 cargo aircraft.” The article adds that SpaceX is upgrading its Dragon vehicle to be able to send humans to the International Space Station starting in 2018 as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA explained in a statement that “SpaceX continues to perform tests of flight-like hardware that allows engineers to assess the reliability,” adding, “Later tests will grow progressively more realistic to simulate as much of the actual conditions and processes the system will see during an operational mission.” (Image Credit: NASA/YouTube)
More Info (SPACE)



17 February 2016
FAA’s Drone Registration Deadline Is Friday

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg The Hill reports the FAA’s February 19 deadline for drone registration is quickly approaching. The agency notes that “failure to register an aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions” including “civil penalties up to $27,500.” Criminal penalties can include fines up to $250,000 with the possibility of up to three years of imprisonment. The FAA is imposing a $5 fee for drone registrations, but provided refunds for those who registered their drones within the first 30 days of the requirement. Approximately 325,000 drones have been registered so far, the agency said. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta praised the response to the drone registration rules in a recent speech: “The speed with which we were able to roll this out is a testament to the invaluable input we received from the diverse task force of stakeholders we brought to work on this issue.”  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (The Hill)



16 February 2016
IATA: No Deadly Jetliner Accidents Occurred Globally In 2015

Asiana_Crash_Wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that in data released on Monday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that in 2015 not a single passenger worldwide died from a commercial jetliner accident attributed to pilot error, jet malfunctions, or poor weather, marking a long sought after milestone once deemed an unreachable goal for the global aircraft industry. The Journal notes that the IATA reported three deadly jetliner accidents in 2014 and six in 2013, while adding that the data excludes aircraft believed to have been downed by criminal acts. Given that 37.6 million commercial aircraft flights globally transported more than 3.5 billion passengers in 2015, the IATA called it an “extraordinarily safe year.” USA Today adds that the overall crash rate for commercial airlines was “one for every 3.1 million flights worldwide in 2015,” explaining that the four crashes recorded last year involved turboprop aircraft and occurred outside of the U.S. The article adds that despite the report’s findings, safety experts are particularly concerned about the increasing use of aircraft automation. (Image Credit: NTSB via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



16 February 2016
DARPA Tests Self-Navigating Quadcopter

DARPA_Drone_Program.png Aerospace Technology reports that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) “has tested a self-navigating quadcopter using only onboard sensors / software at an old hangar set up as a warehouse at Otis Air National Guard Base.” The report explains that the test was part of DARPA’s fast lightweight autonomy program, “which intends to develop and test algorithms that can reduce human intervention needed to fly small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) around a crowded urban surrounding.” The report notes that “two years ago, DARPA started a challenge for researchers to build an autonomous drone” and that the teams that competed included MIT “collaborating with US-based nonprofit engineer laboratory Draper, the University of Pennsylvania and technology firm Scientific Systems in Woburn, Massachusetts,… in collaboration with AeroVironment.” Aerospace Technology notes that “researchers at DARPA were able to achieve the targeted speed of 20m per second for the unmanned quadcopters using a commercial DJI Flamewheel 450 airframe, E600 motors with 12in propellers and 3DR Pixhawk autopilot as the common quadcopter UAV platform for the test.” (Image Credit: DARPA/YouTube)
More Info (Aerospace Technology)



12 February 2016
Scientists Discover Gravitational Waves, Confirming Einstein’s Century-Old Theory

GravitationalWaves_ArtistsImpression_NASAThe New York Times notes that in a report published on Thursday in the journal Physical Review Letters, scientists with the LIGO group and the Virgo Collaboration revealed that thatthey have detected gravitational waves, “the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago.” According to the Times, the discovery “means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.” The article explains that if the findings are replicated in future experiments, the slight chip discovered by LIGO in September, “seems destined to take its place among the great sound bites of science.” Szabolcs Marka, a Columbia University professor who is one of the LIGO scientists, remarked, “I think this will be one of the major breakthroughs in physics for a long time.” (Image Credit: R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL via NASA)
More Info (New York Times)



11 February 2016
NASA Plans to Return to Designing X-Planes

NA-X-15_NASA-Wiki.png Flightglobal reports that NASA’s 2017 budget proposal reveals plans to “return to a decades-old tradition of developing and flying experimental aircraft projects, or ‘X-planes,’ in order to achieve new breakthroughs in supersonic and subsonic aeronautics research.” The article notes that the budget request shows a 23 percent increase from $640 million in 2016 to $790 million in funding for NASA’s aeronautics research. The article mentions that NASA’s history of X-planes included projects such as “the supersonic Bell X-1 and the hypersonic North American X-15.” (Image: The North American X-15 aircraft. Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Flightglobal)



11 February 2016
Boeing to Reduce Executive and Management Jobs In Cost-Cutting Drive

BoeingEverettPlant_Wiki.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that in an effort to slash costs amid increased industry competition, Boeing revealed on Wednesday that it plans to cut executive and management jobs at the company. In a webcasted event, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner discussed his concerns about the Chicago-based company’s loss in market share to rival Airbus and other industry upstarts, and its possible repercussions. Meanwhile, Boeing spokesman Doug Alder stated, “We will start reducing employment levels beginning with executives and managers first,” adding, “We will also use attrition and voluntary layoffs. As a last resort, involuntary layoffs may be necessary.” (Image: Boeing Everett Factory October 2011. Credit: Jeremy Elson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



11 February 2016
U.S. Air Force Still Expecting to Ramp Up F-35 Orders Moving Forward

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that despite Air Force plans to cut F-35 orders this year, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, program executive officer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, said the service nevertheless expects a long-term increase in output and intends to grow production from 50 aircraft in 2016 to 160-170 by the middle of the 2020s. Higher production levels are important to cut the average cost of each plane. The Pentagon is expected to put $100 million into cost-cutting efforts next year, on the heels of the $170 million that Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems have already collectively invested.(Image: This Air Force version of the F-35 Lightning II completed a test flight April 20, 2010, from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Credit: USAF)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



11 February 2016
FAA Shrinks “No Drone Zone” Around Washington National Airport

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgIn continuing coverage, DCist reports that the FAA “has updated its drone policies in the D.C. region, with the most significant regulation allowing hobbyists to fly unmanned aircrafts closer to the District than was permitted in recent months.” DCist explains, “last December, the FAA extended the ban from 15 to 30 miles, causing hobbyist parks within 30-miles of Ronald Reagan National Airport to shutter” but, effective Wednesday, “the special flight rules area prohibits drones from flying within 15 miles of Washington, without specific FAA authorization.” DCist points out that “the new regulations also mandate that hobbyists who plan to operate within five miles of an airport or heliport notify the facility and air traffic control tower before operating.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (DCist)



10 February 2016
White House Proposes $19 Billion NASA Budget for 2017 Fiscal Year

SLS-Artists-Concept-of-Launch-NASA.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that in its proposed budget released on Tuesday, the White House called for NASA to receive $19 billion in funding for the 2017 fiscal year starting October 1. The Journal notes that while the spending plan constitutes just a 1.5% decrease in funding from the current fiscal year, it is likely to face stiff opposition in Congress due to its proposed significant cuts to human space exploration initiatives. According to the article, despite strong bipartisan support for manned deep-space exploration missions, the budget request aims to decrease spending on such programs by about $800 million. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



10 February 2016
NASA Plans to Return to Designing X-Planes

NA_X-15_NASA-Wiki Flightglobal reports that NASA’s 2017 budget proposal reveals plans to “return to a decades-old tradition of developing and flying experimental aircraft projects, or ‘X-planes,’ in order to achieve new breakthroughs in supersonic and subsonic aeronautics research.” The article notes that the budget request shows a 23 percent increase from $640 million in 2016 to $790 million in funding for NASA’s aeronautics research. The article mentions that NASA’s history of X-planes included projects such as “the supersonic Bell X-1 and the hypersonic North American X-15.” (Image: The North American X-15 aircraft. Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Flightglobal)



10 February 2016
Airbus A321neo Completes Maiden Flight In Germany

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.png Reuters reports that on Tuesday, an Airbus A321neo successfully completed its first flight using CFM International’s LEAP-1A engines. According to the article, the five-and-a-half-hour maiden flight, which began in Hamburg, Germany, was considered unusual since the A321neo variant using Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan engine will enter service first.  (Image Credit: Don-vip - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)



9 February 2016
UN Agency Proposes Limits On Aircraft Emissions

Aircraft_Emissions_NASA.png The New York Times reports that on Monday, following more than six years of negotiations, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposed the first binding limits on aircraft carbon dioxide emissions, “the latest in a series of international efforts to address climate change.” According to the article, while some environmentalist groups “said the proposed rules were too weak and failed to include aircraft currently in use,” others, including the Obama administration, “praised it, saying that it was an important first step and that it tackled one of the most intractable rifts over reducing carbon emissions.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Times)



8 February 2016
United Nations Condemns North Korean Satellite Launch, Vows “Significant” New Sanctions

NorthKoreanUnha-3rocket_Wiki.jpg USA Today reports that on Sunday, the UN Security Council “unanimously condemned North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile as a violation of UN resolutions banning ballistic missile tests and promised ‘significant’ new sanctions.” The Security Council contended that “even though North Korea characterized the rocket test as a satellite launch, it was clearly an effort to develop a ballistic missile and violated four U.N. resolutions dating to 2006.”  (Image Credit: Sungwon Baik / VOA via Wikimedia  Commons)
More Info (USA Today)



8 February 2016
Airbus Switches Engines For A321neo Maiden Flight

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that Airbus has changed its plans to use engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney for the maiden flight of its A321neo jetliner, set to occur as early as this week, and will instead use engines developed by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran. The article calls the engine switch for the maiden flight unusual given the length of time used in developing new jets. However, while Airbus said that the first A321neo with CFM engines will take flight “in the coming days,” the Pratt & Whitney-powered model will follow “in the coming weeks.” Airbus stated that “it doesn’t matter which engine comes first.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



8 February 2016
NRO Payload Expected To Be Launched From Vandenberg On Wednesday

ULADeltaIV_ReadyForLaunch_NASA.pngThe Santa Ynez Valley News reports that Vandenberg Air Force Base is “scheduled to launch a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload from Space Launch Complex-6 on Wednesday, with a launch window opening at 3:39 a.m. PDT.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Santa Ynez Valley News)



5 February 2016
Bill Seeks To Remove Air Traffic Control Operations From FAA

ATC-at-Dulles.jpgIn continuing coverage, the Washington Post reports that the FAA reauthorization bill that was introduced by House Republican leaders this week includes a proposal to move air traffic control (ATC) operations away from the FAA. According to the article, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx released a statement, which suggested that the Obama administration “has yet to decide whether to support” the proposal. On Tuesday during a meeting with reporters, Foxx said, “It’s important for me to leave room for our team to digest the ideas that are put out there.” He added, “I’ve been careful to say that while I’m not reflexively saying yes or no, I want to leave myself room to look dispassionately at what’s presented and to try to offer an opinion at some point that will reflect our best thinking.”  (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (Washington Post)



4 February 2016
Private Space Launches Set To Surge In 2016

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpg Reuters reports that private space companies such as SpaceX and United Launch Alliance are set to perform more than 30 launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station this year, signaling an increased demand for commercial communications and imaging satellites in addition to NASA and military missions. In a commercial space webcast on Wednesday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said, “We want to be able to fly every week, for sure, if not multiple times in a week.” Meanwhile, Dale Ketcham, Space Florida business strategist, remarked on the launch rate, saying, “The last time we saw 30-plus launches would have been back in the 1960s.” (Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 on launch pad. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)



4 February 2016
Super Bowl to be “No Drone Zone”

LevisStadium_Wiki.jpg NBC News reports that the FAA announced a prohibition on operating UAVs within a 32-mile radius of the Super Bowl stadium on game day. According to FAA regulations, the U.S. government “may use deadly force” against UAVs determined to be a security threat, while violating operators could face “civil penalties and criminal charges,” NBC reports. (Image: Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Credit: Jim Bahn via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (NBC News)



3 February 2016
North Korea Declares Plans to Launch Satellite Into Orbit, Drawing Global Ire

NorthKoreanUnha-3rocket_Wiki.jpgThe New York Times reports that in “a new dare to the United States and its allies,” North Korea has notified the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) that it is planning to launch a payload-carrying multi-stage rocket into space on a yet-to-be specified date between February 8 and 25. According to the Times, Natasha Brown, spokeswoman for the specialized UN agency, which is responsible for navigational safety at sea, “said North Korea’s notification described the payload as an Earth observation satellite it called Kwangmyongsong, which translates as Lode Star.” The notification said that if the launch goes according to plan, the first stage of the rocket would fall in the waters situated west of South Korea, while the second stage would fall in the waters east of the Philippines.  (Image Credit: Sungwon Baik / VOA via Wikimedia  Commons)
More Info (New York Times)



3 February 2016
ULA to Launch GPS Satellite On Friday In First 2016 Mission

Atlas5ReadyForLaunch.jpg Spaceflight Now reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA), set to kick off an “ambitious 2016,” is scheduled to launch its Atlas 5 rocket into orbit on Friday, deploying “the last satellite in the current generation of Global Positioning System navigation spacecraft,” the GPS 2F-12. The article notes that the GPS 2F-12 is “the 12th and final spacecraft built by Boeing for the Air Force under the Block 2F program,” which features “improved accuracy, better anti-jamming and longer design lives than previous designs.” Colonel Steve Whitney, director of the Air Force’s Global Positioning Systems Directorate, remarked, “This mission will signify an end of an era with completion of the 2F series and exemplify the historic milestone and achievement for all of us involved.” (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)



2 February 2016
Amazon Testing UAV Deliveries In The Netherlands

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpg Fortune reports that on Monday during a Washington Post event, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that his company is testing Prime Air UAVs in the Netherlands, as well as in Canada and the UK. According to the article, the FAA has placed restrictions on commercial UAV use, making it difficult for Amazon to roll out its Prime Air service in the U.S. While the FAA granted Amazon approval to test unmanned aircraft in April, the company is restricted from flying UAVs at night or outside the line of sight of the operator. Meanwhile, on Monday, Dutch law enforcement officials said that they are considering using eagles rather than weaponry or UAV-tracking technology to prevent unmanned aircraft from flying into restricted airspace. (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
More Info (Fortune)



2 February 2016
Washington Post Analysis: Investors Betting On Commercial Space Sector

SpaceXLaunch_Wiki.jpgIn an analysis, the Washington Post reported that following recent high-profile breakthroughs led by entrepreneurs Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson, “the commercial space sector has started to capture the public imagination and make space travel cool again.” The article noted that while “getting investors to place a bet is perhaps one of the greatest hurdles of all” for spaceflight companies, with the recent “revolutionary advancements” within the industry, an enterprise such as SpaceX can now “afford to turn money away.” Steve Jurvetson, partner at Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm DFJ, which was asked “to kindly hold off” during the latest round of SpaceX funding, remarked that following years of stagnation, “the commercial space industry is enormous and ripe for disruption,” contending that “a 100-fold improvement is actually a piece of cake,” while “a thousand-fold improvement is feasible.” (Image: First-ever SpaceX launch from Space Launch Complex-4, Sept. 29, 2013. Credit: U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



1 February 2016
Boeing 737 MAX Completes Maiden Flight

Boeing737Max.jpg USA Today reported that on Friday, Boeing’s new 737 MAX jetliner took off on its maiden flight from an airfield in Renton, Washington, “ushering in the next chapter for the aerospace giant’s longest-running and best-selling airplane.” In a post-flight press conference following the aircraft’s landing three hours after take-off at nearby Boeing Field in Seattle, pilots manning the flight “praised the jet’s handling and performance.” Test pilot Craig Bonben remarked that the jet “flew beautifully, the engines were extremely quiet,” adding that “there weren’t any problems.” The article noted that the first jet, coined the “Spirit of Renton,” “will soon be joined by four other 737 MAX aircraft in a rigorous flight test and certification program expected to be completed in 2017.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)



29 January 2016
Japan Reveals First Stealth Fighter

JapaneseStealthFighter.pngThe Wall Street Journal that on Thursday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense unveiled the first-ever Japanese-built stealth fighter jet featuring radar-evasion technology, with the aim of closing the gap with neighboring Russia and China, who have flown such aircraft for more than five years. According to the Journal, the experimental $340 million X-2 is smaller than a typical fighter, unarmed and has under-powered engines, causing some analysts to suggest that Japan intends to use the prototype to signal its aspirations to develop a stealth aircraft in partnership with the U.S. and other international allies. Aerospace analyst Yoshitomo Aoki explained, “In order to participate in a project as an equal partner, Japan has to offer knowledge, experience or technologies worthy of an equal partner.” (Image Credit: AFP/YouTube)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



29 January 2016
Musk Wants to Go to ISS, Launch Mars Missions by 2025

ElonMusk.png GeekWire reports that at the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong this week, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk “said he’d unveil his detailed plan for sending settlers to Mars in September at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.” During a panel session, Musk told moderator Kristie Lu Stout of CNN International that personally “going to the space station would be nice,” and that he would hope to do so “maybe four or five years from now.” Musk added that “he was hoping to start flights to Mars around 2025.” When asked about the short time frame, Musk replied, “Well, nine years,” adding. “Seems like a long time to me.” (Image Credit: Heisenberg Media - Flickr: Elon Musk - The Summit 2013, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (GeekWire)



28 January 2016
Patent Application Shows Google Drone Delivery Differs Considerably from Amazon Prime Air

AmazonPrimeAir_Drone.jpg Fortune reports that Google filed for a patent this week for a wheeled receptacle to receive drone deliveries, which would help drones avoid hazards like trees or homes, in addition to ensuring orders aren’t placed on wet grass. Fortune notes that Google’s patent application and Amazon’s Prime Air plans, as shown in a recent commercial, are “notably different.” Amazon’s plans involve its drones leaving a package on a small mat in the backyard, which might be more convenient, but Google’s patent application explains that delivering packages to doorsteps or backyards could be risky. The patent application says that the drones’ propellers could potentially harm pets or damage power lines, or the drones may not be able to find a safe landing spot.  (Image Credit: YouTube/ X: The Moonshot Factory)
More Info (Fortune)



28 January 2016
Airbus Helicopters Flies Second H160 Prototype

AirbusHelicoptersH160_AirbusGroup.png Flightglobal reports that “Airbus Helicopters has flown the second prototype of its new medium-class H160 rotorcraft – the first to be equipped with the new 1,100-1,300shp (820-969kW) Turbomeca Arrano engines that will power production models.” Flightglobal explains that “its initial flight-test article – which uses the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210 powerplants now dropped from the programme – had accumulated 75h by the end of 2015 since first taking to the skies in early June.” According to Bernard Fujarski, head of the H160 program, “After a very busy year [in] 2015, in terms of flight activities, introducing PT2 is an important step in the H160’s development as we will launch performance testing with the Turbomeca Arrano engines.” (Image Credit: Airbus/YouTube)
More Info (Flightglobal)



27 January 2016
Lufthansa Partners with DJI to Provide UAV Monitoring Services

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Tuesday, German carrier Lufthansa disclosed that it has agreed to collaborate with China-based DJI Technology, the largest UAV manufacturer in the world, to develop unmanned aircraft technology for commercial purposes. According to the airline, its subsidiary Lufthansa Aerial Services intends to offer DJI-developed UAVs equipped with thermal-imaging technology to allow its customers to monitor key infrastructure assets such as electricity lines, roads, railways and above-ground pipelines. Andreas Jahnke, managing director of Lufthansa Consulting, remarked, “Lufthansa will offer clients a one-stop UAV-shop.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



27 January 2016
U.S. Air Force Awards Boeing $6 Million Rocket Technology Research Contract

RocketLaunch_NASA.png Space News reports that the U.S. Air Force has awarded “$6.1 million to Boeing Network & Space Systems and $3.6 million to Arctic Slope Regional Corp. to perform rocket technology research.” The article explains that the contracts “are part of a broader effort to help end reliance on a Russian rocket engine used for launching national security satellites.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)



26 January 2016
U.S. Air Force Certifies Upgraded Falcon 9 to Launch Military Satellites

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpg Spaceflight Now reports that the U.S. Air Force has certified the latest version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, “featuring higher-thrust engines, enlarged fuel tanks and a super-chilled propellant mixture, for launches of the military’s most valuable satellites.” The formal sign-off of the rocket “clears up any question that the modified launcher is eligible to compete for national security launch contracts.” All future Falcon 9 launches will include the latest iteration of the booster, “which debuted Dec. 21 with the launch of 11 Orbcomm message relay satellites from Cape Canaveral.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)



26 January 2016
Boeing Prepares for First Flight of 737 Max On Friday

Boeing737Max.jpg Reuters reports that Boeing has set the first flight of the 737 Max for Friday. Boeing previously announced that it planned to make the first flight of the next generation of Boeing’s 737 aircraft in the first quarter of 2016. Boeing said that it has finished key development steps and has readied the plane for its first takeoff. The flight may be delayed due to weather or other conditions. The 737s are due to be delivered starting in 2017. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)



26 January 2016
Blue Origin to Increase Frequency of New Shepard Suborbital Test Flights

BlueOrigin_Shepard_FirstFliight_YouTube.jpg Space News reports that Blue Origin plans to increase the frequency of future test flights of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle following the successful completion of two flights in two months. Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson said in a January 25 interview that the company is reviewing data from the most recent flight, but initial indications suggest the vehicle performed as expected. He said, “We expected to shorten” the turnaround time between future test flights “over time this year, and fly this vehicle again and again.” Meyerson added that the company plans to perform “dozens” of test flights of the New Shepard over the next few years, “with hardware and software modifications as needed between flights.” Blue Origin also plans to start carrying uncrewed research payloads on New Shepard later this year. (Image Credit: YouTube/Blue Origin)
More Info (Space News)



22 January 2016
Amazon Provides Details On UAV Delivery Program

AmazonPrimAir__Amazon-YouTube.jpg Quartz reports that Amazon’s “quest for 30-minute delivery by drone doesn’t just face an uphill battle with regulators, who in the US and elsewhere are still grappling with the challenge of ensuring airspace is kept safe in the age of unmanned shipment services.” Quartz adds that consumers have also expressed concerns about noise levels, privacy, and the associated dangers from crashing drones. Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public policy, said during a recent interview with Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue “that sound-dampening is one of the ‘cool’ engineering challenges that Amazon’s drone program – dubbed Amazon Prime Air – will tackle.” He also said that these aircraft apparently will be sporting “sense-and-avoid technology.”  (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
More Info (Quartz)



22 January 2016
SpaceX Releases Footage of Crew Dragon “Hover Test”

SpaceXHoverTest.png Mashable reports that SpaceX has released video footage from November showing its Crew Dragon capsule performing a “hover test,” with the spacecraft’s SuperDraco thrusters “allowing the vehicle to hover for about five seconds under its own power.” SpaceX, which is conducting the tests under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said that the “jet packs” generated “approximately 33,000 lbs of thrust before returning the vehicle to its resting position.” The article notes that SpaceX “wants to use this kind of Dragon to bring astronauts to and from the International Space Station.” Meanwhile, NASA explained in a blog post that the thrusters “would be used to slow the vehicle’s return to Earth through the atmosphere and ultimately set the spacecraft and its crew down gently.” ( SpaceX/YouTube)
More Info (Mashable)



21 January 2016
Scientists Find Evidence for Planet Nine

FwdLookingInfared_Wiki.pngThe New York Times reports that on Wednesday, two astronomers at the California Institute of Technology revealed that they have found compelling evidence indicating the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system. In a study published in The Astronomical Journal, Caltech professors Michael E. Brown and Konstantin Batygin “laid out a detailed circumstantial argument for the planet’s existence in what astronomers have observed: a half-dozen small bodies in distant elliptical orbits.” According to the researchers, the odds that the peculiar orbital movements of these six bodies would occur by chance are about 1 in 14,000, suggesting that a ninth planet could be gravitationally keeping them in orbit. In addition, the scientists estimate that the planet likely has a mass equal to 10 times that of Earth and that its orbit puts it between 20 to 100 billion miles away from the sun. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)
More Info (New York Times)



21 January 2016
Airbus Completes A320neo Delivery to Lufthansa

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that after missing its year-end deadline due to aircraft documentation issues, on Wednesday, Airbus completed the very first delivery of its newest jetliner, the A320neo, to Lufthansa. In a statement, Carsten Spohrsaid, CEO of the German carrier, which has ordered 101 jets from Airbus, said, “We are pleased to be the first airline in the world to take possession of the Airbus A320neo today.” According to the Journal, the France-based jet manufacturer has already landed 4,400 orders for the new aircraft, making it the company’s fastest selling jetliner thus far. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



20 January 2016
NASA Glenn Research Center Celebrates 75 Years Of Scientific, Economic Achievements

NASAGlennResearchCenter.pngThe Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that NASA’s Glenn Research Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary this month, noting that over time, researchers at Glenn “have done acclaimed work on propulsion, communications, safety and many other technologies crucial to flight.” Remarking on its low profile, Larry Ross, who worked at the center from 1963 to 1995, said, “It’s often been described as one of the best-kept secrets in Cleveland,” adding, “We at the center did a lousy job of promoting it.” Still, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) maintained that, “It would be almost impossible to overstate NASA Glenn’s importance to northern Ohio.” A report from Cleveland State University indicates that with a $612.5 million budget in fiscal 2014, Glenn helped generate $1.382 billion in revenue across Ohio, including $1.253 billion in Northeast Ohio where it is located. (Image: Aerial View of Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field - GPN-2000-002008. Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Cleveland Plain Dealer)



19 January 2016
SpaceX Launches NOAA Satellite, Unable to Land Rocket at Sea

SpaceXFalcon9_Launches_Jason3_CreditNASA.pngThe New York Times reports that on Sunday, SpaceX successfully sent a Jason-3 ocean-monitoring satellite into orbit atop of its two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, adding that following the launch, SpaceX’s attempt “to recover one of its rockets by landing it on a platform in the ocean failed in a ball of fire.” According to the Times, while the first-stage booster was able to make its descent atop of the droneship in the Pacific Ocean, “a problem with one of its four legs sent it toppling over.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
More Info (New York Times)



15 January 2016
NASA Selects SpaceX, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada For 8-Year Commercial Resupply Contracts

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Thursday, NASA announced that it had selected incumbent contractors SpaceX and Orbital ATK, as well as newcomer Sierra Nevada, to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS) over the next eight years, through 2024. NASA officials said that under the new plan, which calls for about four supply flights per year, each company would be responsible for at least six total cargo missions to the ISS, with additional missions to be awarded later. According to the officials, while the new cargo missions will have a fixed price, the contracts, with a total value of up to $14 billion, were designed to provide suppliers with flexibility in terms of price, schedule and mission assurance. Ars Technica reports that according to Jim Muncy, a space policy consultant and commercial space industry advocate, “NASA investing in three different ways of delivering experiments and supplies to the ISS is more evidence that the agency is committed to opening up the Space Station and low-Earth orbit to new commercial and scientific uses.” (Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 on launch pad. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



14 January 2016
Airline Pilots Over Relying On Automated Flight Systems

AirlinePilots_Wiki.pngThe Washington Post reports, in continuing coverage, on a recent Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report, which found that the FAA is failing to ensure that pilots are capable of flying planes without having to rely on automated systems. “While airlines have long used automation safely to improve efficiency and reduce pilot workload, several recent accidents, including the July 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, have shown that pilots who typically fly with automation can make errors when confronted with an unexpected event or transitioning to manual flying,” the OIG said in a letter to the FAA. The NTSB found that the Asiana flight crew’s reliance on automation contributed to the crash. “We’ve recommended that pilots have more opportunity to practice manually flying the aircraft,” said the NTSB’s Robert Sumwalt. “We talked about the pilot’s overreliance on the auto throttle system” in the NTSB crash report, he said, adding, “The general rule of thumb is that any time you’re not sure what the automation is doing, you should disconnect and fly manually.”  (Image Credit: Alex Pereslavtsev via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



14 January 2016
U.S. Air Force Seeks Proposals For New Airborne Sensors

FwdLookingInfared_Wiki.png Military & Aerospace Electronics reports that on Tuesday, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, issued a notice for the Airborne Sensors for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance project, which “focuses on airborne sensor applications like signals intelligence (SIGINT) and geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) using electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR), multispectral imaging, and hyperspectral imaging sensor technologies, as well as ground-surveillance radar, full motion video, light detection and ranging (LIDAR), and on-board data fusion.” According to the article, proposals in response to the notice “should assume the target aircraft for such technologies are the MQ-9 Reaper medium-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a business jet, and RQ-4 Global-Hawk long-range UAV.” (Image: Forward looking infrared. Credit: David.Monniaux via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Military & Defense Electronics)



13 January 2016
Musk Confirms Plans to Land Rocket On Droneship

SpaceXBoosterLanding_Apr2015_SpaceX.jpg CNN reports that in a tweet on Monday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that his company will attempt to launch and land a rocket on a platform at sea on January 17, writing, “Aiming to launch this weekend and (hopefully) land on our droneship.” Musk explained in a separate tweet, “Ship landings needed for high velocity missions.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
More Info (CNN)



13 January 2016
Airbus Develops Counter-UAV System

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Daily Mail reports that Airbus has developed a counter-UAV system that is capable of disabling an unmanned aerial vehicle in a monitored area by jamming its signal. According to the article, the system also has the ability to locate the operator of the device. Thomas Müller, head of the Electronics business unit at Airbus Defence and Space, explained that development of the system was prompted after “small drones have revealed a security gap with regards to critical installations such as military barracks, airports or nuclear plants.” The article adds that the system has been tested at Airbus’ facilities and during presentations in Germany and France. (Image Credit: Associated Press –©)
More Info (Daily Mail)



13 January 2016
ESA, NASA Astronauts to Perform ISS Spacewalk During “Night Pass”

TimKopra_Dec2015Spacewalk_CreditNASA.png AFP reports that according to NASA, the ESA’s Tim Peake and NASA’s Tim Kopra are set to perform a spacewalk on Friday in the dark to replace a malfunctioning power unit at the International Space Station (ISS), an excursion expected to take 6.5 hours. For the spacewalk, Peake and Kopra will have to carry a rectangular voltage regulator, a device that weighs 200 pounds on Earth, for 200 feet to the work site. In a press briefing, Paul Dum, lead spacewalk officer for NASA, explained, “It’s about as far at the space station as you can go from the airlock, which certainly raises the pucker factor for the crew.” According to the article, since NASA is unsure about the causes of the power unit failure, “they want the astronauts to avoid any danger from potential sparks by doing the work when the space station is doing a night pass.”  (Image: NASA astronaut Tim Kopra during a spacewalk on Dec. 21, 2015. Credit: NASA)
More Info (AFP)



12 January 2016
“Starman” David Bowie Mourned by Astronauts, Scientists, Celebrities

DavidBowie_Wiki.pngThe New York Times reports that the death of rock legend David Bowie “reverberated across Britain and the world” on Monday, as fans gathered en masse outside his childhood home in London “to express their deep and abiding affection for Mr. Bowie, a local hero whose gender-bending swagger and convention-busting music inspired generations of fans and provided a soundtrack for their lives.” Numerous celebrities and public figures, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Tony Blair, Madonna, and Kanye West, also chose to pay tribute to the musical pioneer. Meanwhile, in a tweet sent from the International Space Station, British astronaut Tim Peake said, “Saddened to hear David Bowie has lost his battle with cancer,” adding, “His music was an inspiration to many.” According to the Times, Peake has received the nickname Major Tim, “a nod to Mr. Bowie’s fictional astronaut Major Tom, who was immortalized in the song ‘Space Oddity.’” (Image Credit: Adam Bielawski via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (New York Times)



12 January 2016
Google Says UAV Deliveries Could Begin Within One Year

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpg CNN reports that Davis Vos, the head of Google’s “Project Wing” initiative, said that it will be possible to deliver goods to customers via UAV within the next one to three years. CNN explains that “Google is currently working with NASA to create an air traffic control system that would allow for the safe operation of drones in the United States airspace.” On Monday, Vos said that “there is room for commercial drones in the already busy airspace” and that “it is developing the technology to be even safer than general aviation.” CNN points out that Google’s vision is contingent upon the FAA, which “is expected to finalize rules for commercial drones sometime this year,” and that an early draft of the rules would allow for UAVs “to be flown within the user’s line of sight, which would be extremely restrictive for companies looking to make deliveries by drone.” (Image Credit: Google/YouTube)
More Info (CNN)



11 January 2016
AIAA SciTech 2016: NASA Sees Proposed Moon Orbiting Station As Step Toward Mars

CislunarSpacePanel_SciTech2016.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that government and industry officials attending AIAA SciTech 2016 said that NASA and its contract partners are developing preliminary plans for a manned spacecraft to orbit the moon by 2024, the year the International Space Station (ISS) is set to retire. According to the Journal, speakers on the panel, “Research Enabling and Enabled by a Cis-Lunar One-Year Mission,” told attendees that the proposed missions aboard the spacecraft would initially last for a month, extending to yearlong ventures into cislunar space by 2030, which would set up the building blocks for an eventual three-year round-trip manned mission to Mars. The article also noted that while NASA officials have previously spoken in general about the logistics of reaching Mars, the January 8 panel at AIAA SciTech 2016 provided some of the most detailed technical and policy recommendations thus far regarding a slow, step-by-step approach for reaching the Red Planet. (Image: AIAA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (AIAA SciTech 2016 Forum Notebook)



11 January 2016
AIAA SciTech 2016: NASA Progressing On Development of Hybrid Aircraft Engine

Boeing_CST-100.jpg Spaceflight Insider reported that as one of the two spaceflight companies participating in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), Boeing “is looking to take large strides in the development and production of their CST-100 ‘Starliner’ spacecraft in 2016.” According to the article, CCP astronauts Eric Boe and Bob Behnken “recently reviewed some of the systems that the Starliner will have incorporated into its design via a simulator,” and also “got an advanced peek at what are referred to as ‘trainers’ that will simulate how the spacecraft is expected to perform.” Boe remarked, “The trainers look great, and this visit gives us an opportunity to meet with the Boeing engineers,” adding, “We appreciate them allowing us to give input on these trainers so the devices are ready when they arrive at Johnson Space Center.” The article added that Boeing is set to meet a number of milestones during 2016 as well. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Insider)



8 January 2016
AIAA SciTech 2016: NASA Progressing On Development of Hybrid Aircraft Engine

FutureAirplaneConcepts_NASA.jpg RT reports that at the ongoing AIAA SciTech 2016 forum, NASA is highlighting “the current state of its propulsion research.” The article specifies that at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, agency scientists and engineers “are looking at electrical systems that could either replace or complement the current turbine engines, turning electricity into thrust,” while adding that doing so “is not going to be simple.” Jim Heidmann, manager for the Advanced Air Transport Technology project at NASA, explained that switching toward “alternative systems requires creating new aircraft designs as well as propulsion systems.” Amy Jankovsky, sub-project lead engineer, added, “Part of our research is developing the lightweight machinery and electrical systems that will be required to make these systems possible.” Meanwhile, Cheryl Bowman, project technical lead, remarked, “Our work is laying a foundation for planes that will require less fossil fuel in the future.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (RT)



8 January 2016
Boeing Announces Record Delivery Numbers for 2015

Boeing737Max.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Thursday, Boeing announced that it delivered a record 762 jetliners in 2015, topping its delivery target of 755 and positioning the company as the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world for the fourth consecutive year, ahead of rival Airbus, which delivered 556 jets. According to the Journal, Boeing spearheaded its delivery growth through an increase in production of its narrow-body 737 jet, and its advanced long-haul 787 Dreamliner. However, its number of new net orders fell by nearly half for the year – dropping to 768 orders compared to the 1,432 orders secured in 2014 – as the company sought to match its delivery and order counts. Meanwhile, Airbus netted 1,000 new deals in 2015. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)



8 January 2016
SpaceX Planning to Perform Drone Ship Rocket Landing

SpaceXBoosterLanding_Apr2015_SpaceX.jpgOn its website, NBC News reports that SpaceX has confirmed that it intends to make history once again on January 17 by landing its Falcon 9 first-stage booster on a drone ship at sea after launching NASA’s Jason-3 satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The article notes that SpaceX has previously attempted to land a rocket on a drone ship, “an automated seagoing landing platform,” explaining that “a last-minute failure saw the rocket topple over and explode in spectacular fashion.” According to the article, a mobile landing platform could provide “more flexibility in when and how launches can proceed,” and could also “conceivably be placed where it is safest or most fuel-efficient for the rocket to come down.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)