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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

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Industry News

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

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

 


 

25 June 2015
Green Aviation: Many Possible Paths, One Goal

GreenAviationPanel_24June.jpgThe global aviation industry is attempting to pull off a neat trick: It aims to fly an ever-increasing number of passengers with ever-decreasing amounts of fuel and emissions. Making good on that green pledge is a daunting challenge, according to panelists at the AIAA Aviation 2015 forum. But advances in propulsion; lighter materials; smarter flight operations; biofuels; new airframe configurations and other innovations promise a new era of cleaner, quieter and more sustainable air travel. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "The Challenges of Green Aviation," which took place 24 June at AIAA AVIATION 2015. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (AIAA AVIATION 2015 Notebook)



24 June 2015
NASA’s Aeronautics Chief Says “Wake Up, Work Together”

Shin_June24.jpgNASA’s Jaiwon Shin delivered a message of tough love to an audience of academic and government aeronautics experts at AIAA’s Aviation 2015 forum: “The landscape of aviation is changing and the U.S. can no longer afford to rest on its past accomplishments if [it] wishes to maintain its role as a world leader,” said Shin, associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. Shin challenged the audience to “wake up, work together” and to realize that it will take a committed partnership between “NASA, industry, and academia” to keep U.S. leadership in aeronautics intact. (Image: NASA's Jaiwn Shin delivers remarks at AIAA AVIATION 2015. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (AIAA AVIATION 2015 Notebook)



23 June 2015
Calling for a New Engineering Mindset

Four-YearAirplane_Panel22June2015.jpgEngineers, program managers and companies aren’t innovating as quickly as many in the industry would like. Panelists from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab met at AIAA’s AVIATION 2015 forum to discuss the problem. Moderator Craig Willis, a group head for systems testing and verification at Gulfstream Aerospace, summarized the challenge this way: “Can we do a clean-sheet airplane in four years?" (Image: Panelists participate in the discussion on "Whatever Happened to the Four-Year Airplane?" at AIAA AVIATION 2015. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (AIAA AVIATION 2015 Notebook)



22 June 2015
Affordability Seen as Key in Next-Gen Airliner Tech

DesigningRightAircraftPanel_22June2015.jpgAirlines, manufacturers and maintenance providers must welcome new technology, but always with an eye toward affordability. That was the message from a panel of industry experts at AIAA’s AVIATION 2015 forum. Session moderator Chris Stonehouse, senior vice president of customer service at Airbus Americas, cited “airframe, aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, systems, avionics, navigation, innovative materials” as key areas for consideration. He said that all need to be “cheap to maintain, provide a high rate of return during operations, be secure from cyber attacks while allowing passengers to connect seamlessly to the world.” (Image: Panelists participate in the discussion, "The Voice of the Customer – Designing the Right Aircraft" at AIAA AVIATION 2015. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (AIAA AVIATION 2015 Notebook)



22 June 2015
Record Amount of Funding Being Invested In UAV Companies

DJI_UAV_Wiki.jpgBloomberg News reported that venture capitalists are investing “record amounts of funding” into UAV companies. Jon Ollwerther, vice president of Marketing and Operations at AeroCine, credited the field’s “potential” and “actual results” for the interest. According to the article, investors are willing “to look past the challenges” of bringing UAVs into the national airspace because they are looking to be part of the leaders in the field. Companies are even investing in the companies developing the systems that will manage UAVs. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



22 June 2015
SpaceX Pushes Back Next ISS Mission to 28 June

Falcon9_CapeCanaveral.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel “Go for Launch” blog reported that SpaceX has pushed back its next cargo mission to the ISS from June 26 to June 28. Its Dragon spacecraft will carry “science and research material,” as well as “two docking adapters, built by Boeing,” for use “by commercial crew spacecraft” docking at the ISS. Florida Today noted that the launch was not delayed because of a problem, but because SpaceX wanted “a bit more time to accommodate normal launch preparations.” Florida Today article focused on the new docking adapter, “the mission’s most prominent payload.” According to the article, it “remains to be seen how soon astronauts actually dock at the station in a U.S. spacecraft,” with Congress having proposed less funding for the program than NASA asked for. The article noted how NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has warned that by “gutting” funding, Congress is ensuring further reliance on Russia for launches. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)
More Info (Florida Today)
More Info (Florida Today)



19 June 2015
All-Electric Plane Flights May Be A Long Way Off

E-Fan1.jpgThe AIAA AVIATION 2015 website reports on Airbus Group’s E-Fan plane, which may be the “future of quiet, clean, all-electric airliners.” According to the article, that future, may be a long way off. In a presentation at Safran’s booth during the Paris Air Show, Serge Berenger, vice president of Innovation at Labinal Power Systems, predicted that neither he nor his children are likely to ever fly on an all-electric airliner. Berenger outlined some of the challenges facing development, noting that engineers are trying “to develop the hybrid solution for the engines.” Developing all of the needed technology could take “a long time,” as some items like the necessary power system are “very far” from completion. (Image Credit: Airbus Group)
More Info (AIAA AVIATION 2015 Notebook)



19 June 2015
Boeing, Airbus Have Hundreds of New Orders from Paris Air Show

Boeing767_AirbusA330_wikipedia.jpgBloomberg News reports that in the end, a surprise order for 110 A321neos placed Airbus ahead of Boeing in terms of total number of orders for the Paris Air Show. Each company now has hundreds of more planes to add to their backlogs, assuming all of the commitments are converted to firm orders. Both companies “face the challenge” of working though those orders. (Image: All Nippon Airways Boeing 767-381ER & Eva Air Airbus A330-302X. Credit: Wikimedia, Yonezawa-Shi, Yamagata, Japan)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



18 June 2015
UrtheCast Releases “Remarkably Close-Up” Video Taken from ISS

BostonFromSpace_UrtheCast.jpgThe CBS News website reports that on Wednesday, UrtheCast released “a remarkably close-up HD video of Earth” taken from its ultra-HD Iris camera attached to the ISS, “clearly” showing “individual cars driving past Boston’s Fenway Park.” According to the article, what makes that feat “pretty darn cool” is that it was shot from space. The article notes the company already has a deal to attach two more cameras to the ISS in 2017. Mashable notes that the company claims that these are “the first...full-color HD videos of Earth” taken from the ISS. According to the article, because of the ISS’ movements, producing usable products is “no easy feat,” requiring UrtheCast to develop algorithms to remove the added motion. (Image Credit: UrtheCast on Vimeo)
More Info (CBS News)
More Info (Mashable)



18 June 2015
Companies Focused On Delivering Large Boeing, Airbus Backlog

Boeing_737MAX_Boeing.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that even though Boeing and Airbus are currently working on new jets, both are considering building or upgrading other models as well. According to the article, these future plans are not as pressing in the minds of leadership of both companies and their suppliers as is trying to deal with the record amount of orders, which was added to this week at the Paris Air Show. Reuters reports that according to Airbus Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams, engine makers realize that there will be additional production increases in the future. The article notes that the industry is concentrating on trying to deliver promised planes on time at the desired rates. (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Wall Street Journal – subscription publication)
More Info (Reuters)



17 June 2015
Snecma Expects to Begin Ground Tests On Open-Rotor Concept In 2016

open-rotor_1.jpgThe AIAA AVIATION 2015 website reports that at the Paris Air Show, Snecma’s Francois Mirville briefed attendees on “Europe’s Counter-Rotating Open-Rotor concept,” which could result in “powerful but efficient open-rotor engines emitting up to 40 percent less carbon dioxide.” Ground tests on a concept engine may start next year, with “a more realistic version” then flown aboard an Airbus A340 at some undetermined time in the future as part of the Clear Sky initiative. According to the article, the exact date for the testing “depends on just how realistic the industry wants that engine to be.” Ron van Manen, Clear Sky 2 program manager, said that if the industry wants a “quick result,” the first flight could come as early as 2018. Meanwhile, the article notes that van Manen believes that there is “reason for encouragement” based on wind tunnel tests. (Image Credit: Antoine Gonin / Safran)
More Info (AIAA AVIATION 2015 Notebook)



16 June 2015
Airbus Considering Whether to Launch A380neo

AirbusA380_wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal notes that amidst the flurry of orders for Boeing and Airbus, Airbus gave a strong indication that it will make improvements to the A380’s engines, thus creating the A380neo. Aviation Week reports that Airbus is also considering whether to stretch the A380, and is already in talks with some airlines. (Image Credit: WIkipedia)
More Info (Wall Street Journal – subscription publication)
More Info (Aviation Week)



15 June 2015
Contact Reestablished With Philae Lander

Philae_on_Comet_ESA.jpgABC World News broadcast that there was “a huge surprise from space” when contact was reestablished with the Philae lander, which had not been heard from since it landed on a comet last year. There are now “hopeful signals” after the signals of activity were received “for about a minute and a half.” The AP reports that Stephan Ulamec, project manager at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), said that he is “not really surprised” contact was made, but he is still “very happy.” The article notes that operators will now try to orient the Rosetta orbiter in such a way that it can increase the amount of time they can remain in contact so that “fresh scientific data” can be obtained. According to the article, while contact has been made, Philae’s “exact location” on the comet is still unknown. In a separate article, the AP posts a timeline of the mission. AFP reports that NASA tweeted “Rise and shine!” when it received news of contact with the lander. BBC News reports that BBC Science Editor David Shukman called Philae’s reawakening “one of the most astonishing moments in space exploration. (Image Credit: ESA)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (AFP)
More Info (BBC News)



12 June 2015
Three Astronauts Safely Return to Earth

ISS_Crew_Returns_11June2015_NASA.jpgThe CBS Evening News broadcast that astronauts Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti returned safely to Earth on Thursday aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, noting that Cristoforetti holds the record “for longest space flight by a woman.”  The AP notes that the spacecraft, which was also carrying cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, conducted “a textbook homecoming,” according to a NASA commentator. The astronauts were “smiling,” with Virts saying, “I’m doing great. I feel really good.”  The Washington Post  “Speaking of Science” blog reports on the astronauts’ return by focusing on Cristoforetti’s accomplishments at the ISS, where she routinely engaged the public and gave “an exciting glimpse of what’s possible for women.” Public Radio International reports that Cristoforetti is the “pride and joy” of Italy. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (Washington Post)
More Info (Public Radio International)



11 June 2015
GL-10 Prototype Technology May Lead to Quieter UAVs

GL-10_NASA.jpgNew Scientist reports on the GL-10 prototype being developed at NASA Langley Research Center, which could help “silence” the “annoying noise” produced by UAVs. Key to the GL-10’s ability to reduce noise is the “large number of engines” and “novel Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller (LEAP) technology.” Project Controller Mark Moore said, “Since we have many propellers, we can operate every motor at slightly different rpm [revolutions per minute]. ... We have a whole bunch of smaller harmonics and can spread them out across the frequencies. We call this frequency-spectrum spreading, and it’s only possible because we have many propellers and very precise digital control of them.” According to the article, the technology could be of interest to those using UAVs for conservation work (where sound hurts monitoring wildlife), package delivery, or military missions. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New Scientist)



11 June 2015
Initial Assembly On First Airbus A321neo Now Complete

AirbusA321neo_CreditAirbus.jpgFlightglobal reports that initial assembly work on Airbus’ first A321neo is now complete. Now, the company will move the plane from its German Hamburg Finkenwerder plant in order to install “flight-test equipment.” The article notes that there is still no word on when the plane’s first flight will take place. (Image Credit: Airbus)
More Info (Flightglobal)



11 June 2015
Three Astronauts Return to Earth Today

ISS-NASA.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel “Go For Launch” blog reports that despite Tuesday’s unexpected firing of a Soyuz spacecraft engine, which repositioned the ISS, astronauts Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov, and Samantha Cristoforetti are still scheduled to leave the station today as planned. Ahead of their departure, Virts handed over command of the ISS to cosmonaut Gennedy Padalka. Meanwhile, NASA plans to livestream the undocking. AFP reports that according to some sources speaking with Russian media agencies, the Soyuz spacecraft may not have malfunctioned. Instead, someone at mission control may have given an improper command. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentienl)
More Info (AFP)



10 June 2015
Despite Failed Parachute, Officials Consider LDSD Test “A Success”

LDSD_Test_8June2015_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that on Tuesday NASA officials discussed what happened during Monday’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test when a parachute “disintegrated” right after it deployed. The test was designed to examine a potential way to land heavier equipment on Mars one day. Speaking during a telephone news conference, Steve Jurcyzk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said, “We very much want to have these failures occur here in our testing on Earth rather than at Mars. ... And so it’s a success in that we were able to understand and learn more about the parachute so that we can get confident and have highly reliable parachutes for when we have a large mission going to Mars where we can’t do anything about it.” According to the article, Jurcyzk stated that NASA would find a way to make a parachute that would not fail. Meanwhile, Ian Clark, principal investigator, said, “Supersonic parachutes are tremendously challenging,” and NASA needs to learn more about how they will function in extreme conditions. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



10 June 2015
Orion Capsule Heat Shield Now at Langley

OrionHeatShield_NASA.jpgThe Hampton Roads Daily Press reports that Langley Research Center engineers are about “to play” with the Orion capsule’s heat shield, which recently arrived at the center for testing. Chief engineer Ellen Carpenter said, “It’s a privilege to see something that’s gone in space. ... I personally have never seen anything or been able to touch any hardware that’s been before.” The shield will now be attached to “a mock-up of the crew capsule” for eight water-impact tests. Carpenter added, “When Orion landed in the Pacific, that was a picture-perfect landing and we hope that all landings in the future are going to be that way. ... But in the event that there is more velocity or more of an impact angle, we want to see what those different landing scenarios do to the structure as well as the astronauts.” The article notes that Orion will have an even better heat shield when it launches aboard the Space Launch System in 2018. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Hampton Roads Daily Press)



9 June 2015
LDSD Parachute Fails Again During Second Test

LDSD_Test_8June2015_NASA.jpgThe CBS Evening News broadcast that on Monday NASA was able to test its “flying saucer” by dropping it from “the edge of space over Hawaii.” The test “went well” until the parachute “tore apart” when the vehicle was traveling at around twice the speed of sound, causing the craft to crash into the Pacific. The AP notes that NASA spokesperson Kimberly Newton said that the agency will discuss the results of the test during a news conference today. According to the article, there is a chance that NASA may opt not to use the technology on future missions to land heavier spacecraft on Mars. This is the second time the parachute has failed while testing the system. According to USA Today, NASA said it will “study data from this test to learn and improve” the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD). (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (USA Today)



9 June 2015
DJI Releases Its First UAV Guidance System

DJI_UAV_Wiki.jpgThe Verge reports that DJI has released its “first guidance system” for UAVs, which entails “a combination of ultrasonic sensors and stereo cameras” to sense objects within 65 feet. According to the article, it will be technology like DJI’s that will allow UAVs to become part of “everyday life, enabling ambitious projects like Amazon’s Prime Air.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
More Info (The Verge)



9 June 2015
ISS Moves to Avoid Space Debris

ISS-NASA.jpgNASA Space Flight reports that on Monday the ISS moved out of the way of “a spent Minotaur rocket body” from a 2013 launch by conducting a Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver (PDAM). Even though the procedure changed the altitude of the station, the article notes that NASA stated that this should not affect the crew departure scheduled to take place on Thursday. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (NASA Space Flight)



8 June 2015
Russia Successfully Launches Its First Rocket Since Cargo Mission Failure

Soyuz_Launches_June2015.jpgThe AP reported that the Soyuz 2.1A rocket successfully launched on Friday with a Russian military satellite, “the first time since a much-publicized failure in April” of a Progress cargo spacecraft to the ISS. Spaceflight Now noted that the launch was supposed to take place in May, but it was postponed in order “for engineers to complete the inquiry into the April 28 Progress launch anomaly.” (Image Credit: @RussianSpaceWeb #Soyuz)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)



8 June 2015
Researchers Will Reveal How Plane Wings Could Repair Themselves During Flight

BA_Jet_Wikimedia.jpgThe Daily Mail (UK) reports that this week, at a Royal Society meeting in London, University of Bristol researchers will reveal that they have developed a way for aircraft wings to repair themselves while flying. Professor Duncan Wass said that the technology could also lead to quicker repairs because dyes could be added to show where mid-flight repairs took place. According to the article, Wass said that the technology could be ready “in the ‘very near future.’” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
More Info (Daily Mail)



8 June 2015
LDSD Test Delayed by Weather Once Again

LDSDTest1_NASA.jpgIn continuing coverage, the NBC News website reported that bad weather again delayed the test of NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) over Hawaii. On Friday, NASA decided not to make an attempt over the weekend because of “low-altitude wind conditions that would prevent the launch of the balloon.” According to the article, which primarily dealt with the background of the mission, NASA is currently aiming to conduct the test on Monday. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (NBC News)



5 June 2015
Weather Delays LDSD Test Once Again

LDSDTest1_NASA.jpgIn a brief update, the Orlando Sentinel “Go for Launch” blog, reports that the second test flight of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) was delayed again Thursday due to weather. Popular Science notes that “unstable wind conditions near the surface” prevented yesterday’s launch attempt. The NBC News website notes that “later Thursday,” NASA spokesperson Kim Newton stated that NASA would not attempt the test on Friday either “due to the unstable wind conditions.” The test could now take place on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Fox News website details the science behind the test, noting that developing a successful landing system is “the biggest challenge of any expedition to Mars.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)
More Info (Popular Science)
More Info (NBC News)
More Info (Fox News)



4 June 2015
Weather Will Determine If LDSD Launches Thursday Morning

LDSDTest1_NASA.jpgUSA Today continues coverage of the second Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test, which was delayed for a second time Wednesday because of the weather. NASA said, “Ocean wave height continues to be an issue for the crew that would recover the vehicle and its data after splashdown.” CNN notes that the LDSD could launch this morning, but only if there are “suitable” weather conditions. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (CNN)



4 June 2015
Eight New Projects Could Help Reintroduce Commercial Supersonic Flights

SuperSonicJet_ArtistsImpression_NASA.jpgThe Daily Mail (UK) reports that NASA has pledged to spend $2.3 million on eight research projects that will help bring about the next generation of supersonic planes. Peter Coen, head of the High Speed Project in the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said, “Lessening sonic booms – shock waves caused by an aircraft flying faster than the speed of sound – is the most significant hurdle to reintroducing commercial supersonic flight. ... Other barriers include high altitude emissions, fuel efficiency and community noise around airports.” NASA’s Ruben Del Rosario added, “We are nowhere near the maximum that we can get out of this industry. ... There is a lot of work to do.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Daily Mail)



4 June 2015
NASA, Verizon Exploring Ways to Use Cell Towers to Monitor UAS

Drone-Wiki.jpgThe Guardian (UK) reports that it obtained an agreement between NASA and Verizon “to jointly explore whether cell towers … could support communications and surveillance of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at low altitudes.” This is part of work now underway at the Ames Research Center, with plans to test the Verizon system in 2017. However, according to the article, NASA’s work on a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system is a “massive undertaking that would stretch [NASA’s] shrinking budget.” Missy Cummings, professor of Aeronautics at Duke University, said that she doesn’t think that NASA can accomplish much unless the government provides more money for the “incredibly underfunded” project. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
More Info (The Guardian)



3 June 2015
Boeing Has Started Constructing 737 MAX Wing Using New Automated Process

Boeing_737MAX_Boeing.jpgUSA Today reports that during a media tour on Tuesday, Boeing stated that last week it began construction of the 737 MAX’s wing, bringing the project “one step closer to...reality.” According to the article, Boeing is changing the way it manufactures the 737, which was “largely unchanged since the first 737 was introduced in 1968.” The company is now using the automated Panel Assembly Line (PAL) to mate the wing-skin panels and stringers, a process that used to be done by hand. The article notes that Boeing says that making the process more automated is “crucial” for meeting production targets. According to the Seattle Times, Barry Lewis, who is in charge of 737 wing manufacturing, said that the goal is to make the wing-fabrication process “90 percent automated once all the wing-panel machines are operating.” The process is currently at 70%. (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (Seattle Times)



3 June 2015
Public Will Get to Watch LDSD Test Live

LDSDTest1_NASA.jpgUSA Today continues coverage of how NASA plans to try to test its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) today after bad weather postponed Tuesday’s planned attempt. Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, “This year’s test is centered on how our newly-designed supersonic parachute will perform. We think we have a great design ready for the challenge, but the proof is in the pudding and the pudding will be made live for everyone to see.” The article notes that the public will be able to “share” in the test because NASA will broadcast the test live through the LDSD. Adler added, “You get to see all the same video I do, at the same time I do.” The NBC News website reports that poor weather has delayed the test again for the second day in a row. Now, the test will take place no earlier than Thursday. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (NBC News)



3 June 2015
New Aircraft Will Be Based On X-51 Waverider

X51Waverider_USAF.jpgThe Washington Times reports that Air Force Chief Scientist Mica Endsley said that the Air Force and DARPA have decided to develop a hypersonic aircraft by 2023 that is based off of the result of 2013’s X-51 Waverider hypersonic scramjet jet. Endsley said that the test “showed that you could get a scram jet engine, launch it off an [aircraft], and it could go hypersonic. It was able to go more than Mach 5 until it ran out of fuel. It was a very successful test of an airborne hypersonic weapons system.” Endsley cautioned that in order to build such a plane, “a bunch of technological challenges...have to be addressed.” (Image: An X-51A WaveRider hypersonic flight test vehicle is uploaded to an Air Force Flight Test Center B-52 for fit testing at Edwards Air Force Base on July 17, 2009. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Chad Bellay)
More Info (Washington Times)



2 June 2015
LDSD Set to Undergo Second Test

LDSDTest1_NASA.jpgThe Fox News website reports that NASA will conduct the second “ambitious” test of its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) today by launching it to an altitude of 180,000 feet in order to see how its “doughnut-shaped airbag” and other systems perform. Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, said, “That airbag helps it slow down by adding more area and drag. ... Then we deploy a supersonic parachute about 100 feet in diameter.” According to Jurczyk, at that altitude, the LDSD will be tested in conditions that simulate Mars’ atmosphere, noting, “With this LDSD technology we hope to land about five metric tonnes, that will enable more capable robotic missions” and possibly a Mars sample return mission. The article notes that NASA said that the LDSD could also help land people on Mars.  According to the Daily Mail (UK), NASA hopes “to learn just as much” from this test as it did with the first test. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Fox News)
More Info (Daily Mail)



2 June 2015
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to Conduct UAV Flights

UAVTesting_TexasAMCC.jpgThe AP reports that researchers from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center are scheduled today to start “day-and-night test runs” of UAVs, assuming the weather cooperates. The article notes that the school manages one of the FAA’s designated UAV test sites. (Image Credit: tamucc.edu)
More Info (Associated Press)



2 June 2015
F-35 to Take Part In Its First Major Military Exercise

F35_USAF.jpgReuters reports that an F-35 fighter jet is scheduled to take part in its first major military exercise this week, according to the U.S. Air Force. The exercise will examine how the jet conducts air-to-surface encounters. General Herbert Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said that even though the program still needs to work out how some data is displayed to pilots in the cockpit, the jet still is “impressive.” (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)



1 June 2015
Several Flights Over New York Area Report UAV Sightings, Laser Incidents

LaserInCockpit_FBIgov.jpgABC World News broadcast about a “passenger jet that had to make a swift move” on Friday in order “to avoid a near collision with a drone” during its final approach to LaGuardia International Airport. The UAV was “flying illegally over Brooklyn,” and now the “search for that person is on.” Near JFK International Airport, there were several laser-related incidents in which, between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Thursday, “five jet liners in all” were “hit by a laser.” The pilots believe that the person pointing the laser was somewhere “on Long Island.”  The AP reported that the FAA is investigating five laser incidents in the Tri-State area, four of which were targeted at American Airlines, Shuttle America, and Delta flights while over Long Island, and one involving a Sun Country Airlines flight “about 14 miles southwest” of JFK. Sen. Charles Schumer, “who was briefed on Thursday’s laser incident by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta,” wants the FDA to ban all “high-powered, long-range green lasers.” The Hill reports that Schumer stated, “Green laser pointers have been a repeated danger to pilots across the metropolitan area and country ... quickly becoming the weapon of choice for those who want to harass our pilots.” (Image Credit: FBI.gov)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (The Hill)



1 June 2015
Solar Impulse II Now On Its Way Across Pacific

SolarImpulse2_departs_9March_APpurchased.jpgMcClatchy reports that Solar Impulse II pilot Andre Borschberg has begun an unprecedented flight “across the Pacific with no fuel, only solar power.” If successful, the plane will take “five or six days” to reach Hawaii from China. The article notes that Borschberg will need “to avoid cross-winds and any unexpected thunderstorms,” as well as “maximize energy efficiency,” for any chance of success. However, he and fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard are prepared to ditch the plane over the Pacific if forced to, because each has “a parachute and life raft and has been trained in ocean survival.” (Image Credit: Associated Press – purchased )
More Info (McClatchy)



29 May 2015
Airbus A320neo Expected to Enter Service On Schedule Despite Engine Issue

AirbusA320_CreditAirbus.jpgReuters reports that Didier Evrard, executive vice president for Programs at Airbus, said that the A320neo should still enter service this year despite an issue with the “snap ring inside the Pratt & Whitney engines for the first aircraft.” A Pratt & Whitney spokesperson issued a statement via email stating that the issue should be fixed soon, allowing flight tests to resume. Flightglobal reports that Evrard said that the plane has so far “accumulated over 440h” of flight testing over more than 130 flights. According to the article, Evrard believes the situation with the engine seals should be resolved “within a few days.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
More Info (Reuters)
More Info (Flightglobal)



28 May 2015
Rolls-Royce Starts Work On First Test Gearbox for UltraFan Turbofan

Rolls-RoyceTrent900-test.jpgAviation Week reports that Rolls-Royce has started “machining work on components” for the “first test gearbox for the UltraFan high-bypass geared turbofan,” while simultaneously developing “an evaluation rig in Dahlewitz, Germany.” According to the article, Rolls-Royce intends for the UltraFan to be used for “medium- and higher-thrust applications up to the 100,000-lb. power range,” similar to what Pratt & Whitney intends for the PW1000G geared turbofan family of engines. Even though work has begun, the article notes that many of the UltraFan’s design details are still confidential. (Image: Rolls-Royce Trent 900 AEDC-d0404084 USAF" by USAF employee - Inside Arnold Air Force Base (Direct link). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons).
More Info (Aviation Week)



28 May 2015
ISS’ Permanent Multipurpose Module Moved to New Location

LeonardoModule_NASA.jpgFlorida Today reports that NASA successfully relocated the ISS’ Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) “from the Earth-facing port on the station’s Unity node” to the “Tranquility node’s forward port.” With additional space now available for future commercial spacecraft to dock at the station, SpaceX, in June, will launch “a new docking adapter for one of the planned commercial crew ports.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 May 2015
SpaceX Now Cleared for Military Launch Contracts

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki.jpgThe Los Angeles Times reports that on Tuesday, “after a two-year effort,” the Air Force cleared SpaceX to compete against United Launch Alliance (ULA) for the chance to launch military satellites. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, “SpaceX’s emergence as a viable commercial launch provider provides the opportunity to compete launch services for the first time in almost a decade,” as well as the chance to lower launch costs and increase “our military’s resiliency.” The Washington Post “The Switch” blog notes that this is “the latest in a series of victories for SpaceX,” which include obtaining commercial resupply contracts from NASA. According to the article, ULA has already taken steps to prepare for the increased competition, including changing its CEO and unveiling the new Vulcan rocket that should be “more affordable.”(Image Credit: SpaceX)
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27 May 2015
ISS Reconfiguration Takes Place Today

LeonardoModule_NASA.jpgThe ABC News website continues coverage of how NASA will relocate the ISS’ Permanent Multipurpose Module today, transporting it “via a robotic arm to the forward port of the station’s Tranquility module.” NASA posted an animation of the move, showing what controllers expect will happen. With the move, NASA will make more space for future commercial spacecraft to dock at the ISS. The WAAY-TV Huntsville, AL “Space Alabama” website and SPACE explain how the public can watch the operation online. (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 May 2015
Marine Corps F-35s Undergoing First Operational Tests at Sea

F35_Wikipedia.jpgDefense News reports that several Marine Corps F-35 jets are undergoing their “first operational testing at sea” from the amphibious assault ship Wasp. The sorties now underway are for “the first part of the final phase of real-world testing” ahead of the jet reaching initial operational capability in July. So far, the F-35 has undergone “launching and landing” trials, as well as “elaborate war games.” According to the article, “the most valuable lessons” being learned are how to maintain the jet, which is “bigger than an F/A-18 Hornet and more complex than an AV-8B Harrier.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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26 May 2015
Sikorsky S-97 Raider Makes Its First Flight

Sikorsky_S-97Raider_Sikorsky.jpgPopular Science reported that on Friday, Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider made its first flight. Pilot Bill Fell said the helicopter performed “exactly like the simulation.” The article noted that if upcoming tests go smoothly, officials expect the S-97 Raider to reach its top speed of 276 mph sometime this year. Aviation Week noted that Mark Miller, vice president of Research and Engineering at Sikorsky, said the S-97 flew for an hour during the test instead of the planned 30 minutes. According to the article, Fell added that he was able to complete all 97 tests on the first flight, “including piloted frequency sweeps in all axes, something normally considered too risky for a first flight.” Meanwhile, a second Raider is now under development and should be flying this year as well. According to Flightglobal, the S-97 is one vehicle in “a wave of industry investment in high-speed technology,” which includes the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey that can fly “faster than 260kt and land vertically using a tiltrotor configuration.” (Image Credit: Sikorsky)
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26 May 2015
Leonardo Module to Be Relocated On Wednesday

LeonardoModule_NASA.jpgFlorida Today reports that on Wednesday, the ISS’ Permanent Multi-purpose Module (PMM), also known as Leonardo, will be relocated, one of “the biggest change[s] to the station’s structure since its assembly was completed in 2011.” The process will be broadcast on NASA TV. This was part of a series of brief reports, including a report on the end of the NASA Railroad as well as one on the books that ISS Commander Terry Virts and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana are recommending. (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 May 2015
House Passes Legislation to Aid Private Space Industry

Boeing_CST-100.jpgUSA Today reports that on Thursday, the House passed legislation 284-133 that “would extend important legal protections to aerospace firms for the next decade while exempting the firms from certain rules.” The bill would extend to 2025 an exemption for the industry from certain Federal Aviation Administration rules, as well as indemnification protections. Republicans said that the SPACE Act would prolong the “learning period” for the developing commercial space industry “as it makes key strides in getting people and goods into space.” Many Democrats opposed the bill, arguing it “would compromise safety and leave taxpayers on the hook if disaster strikes.” The Wall Street Journal reports that the bill highlighted partisan differences on how long to extend protections to the commercial spaceflight industry. The Journal notes that for the first time, the bill also allows companies to have legal rights to minerals or other resources recovered from asteroids, which critics say may violate treaties. Democrats say that the House didn’t hold adequate hearings to consider the legal and diplomatic issues. (Image Credit: Boeing)
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22 May 2015
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Returns to Earth from ISS

DragonReturns_21May15_CreditSpaceX.jpgThe AP reports that a SpaceX Dragon capsule “containing more than 3,000 pounds of experiments and equipment” returned to Earth from the International Space Station, splashing down in the Pacific off Southern California. The science samples will be handed off to NASA “within two days, after the spacecraft is transported to a port near Los Angeles.” Florida Today reports NASA astronaut and Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts radioed to the ground, “It was a great vehicle.” SPACE reports Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforett tweeted from the ISS, “We just got word of the successful splashdown. Congrats!” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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21 May 2015
Atlas V Launches With X-37B, LightSail

AtlasVLaunch_20May2015.jpgThe AP reports that atop the Atlas V rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral, “a mysterious space plane rocketed into orbit” with “no crew but a full load of technology experiments.” The X-37B “is shrouded in secrecy.” Among the experiments are “a materials-sample experiment on board for NASA,” and “an experimental electric-propulsion thruster for the Air Force.” The AP says that the Planetary Society’s LightSail is “perhaps the most intriguing payload, at least from the public point of view.” It describes the satellite as possessing “a large, light, shiny Mylar sail measuring 32 square meters.” The Sacramento (CA) Business Journal reports on Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., which is responsible for the “space propulsion technology” being tested. The Washington Post reports in its “The Switch” blog that the “super secretive X-37B space plane” is “scheduled to stay in orbit for 270 days. Or maybe more.” The LightSail is also mentioned and briefly described. USA Today carries a report from Florida Today saying “the launch appeared to be off to a good start,” but that the “broadcast was blacked out about five minutes into the flight because of the secrecy surrounding the fourth X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle mission.” (Image Credit: ULA/YouTube)
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20 May 2015
Atlas V Rocket to Launch X-37B, CubeSats

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgCBS News reports that later today, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral carrying an “Air Force X-37B spaceplane” and “a small publicly-funded satellite built to test the feasibility of using sails and the pressure of sunlight for propulsion.” Details surrounding the X-37B’s flight and its mission are classified. CBS also cites Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye who wrote on a Kickstarter page that the LightSail CubeSat could “revolutionize access to space for low-cost citizen projects.” The LightSail is “the first of two publicly-funded Planetary Society missions” to test the concept of using “the pressure of sunlight to propel spacecraft.” CNN reports that 10 CubeSats will be launched from the Atlas 5. In addition to LightSail, other satellites are being provided by the National Reconnaissance Office, NASA, the U.S. Naval Academy, the Aerospace Corporation, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and California Polytechnic State University. (Image Credit: NASA)
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20 May 2015
Gulfstream Announces First Test Flight of G500

GulfstreamG500_Gulfstream.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced the first test flight of its G500 business jet. The plane will undergo three years of testing before the first delivery, planned for 2018. Business In Savannah (GA) reports that the plane “is part of Savannah-based Gulfstream’s new family of aircraft — the G500 and G600.” Forbes reports that “during the 2-hour, 16-minute flight on May 18, the crew exercised all primary flight control systems.” (Image Credit: Gulfstream)
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19 May 2015
Government Sources Doubt Claims That Airplane’s Controls Were Hacked

UnitedAirlinesJet_Wiki.jpgTwo of the three major networks and several print outlets continue coverage of computer expert Chris Roberts’ claims in an affidavit that he hacked an airliner’s controls. In addition to reporting on Roberts’ claims, some sources contain conflicting expert statements regarding their feasibility. Bloomberg News reports that Roberts claims to have accessed a critical onboard computer by hacking a plane’s entertainment system. According to an affidavit filed by the FBI, in two conversations with investigators Roberts claimed to have hacked into planes between 15 and 20 times since 2011. Bloomberg News notes that the FBI’s seizure of Roberts’ electronics occurred on April 15, after Roberts said on social media that he might “start playing” with a critical aircraft computer system while aboard a flight. The Washington Post reports that security experts said that Roberts’ claims to have changed code on a plane’s computers by hacking into a seat outlet were improbable. “Hacking a plane’s engine controls through its entertainment system, they argue, is a bit like controlling a car’s steering wheel through its CD player.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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19 May 2015
Atlas V to Launch X-37B, CubeSats

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgSPACE reports on the fourth launch of “the United States Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane” on Wednesday, “atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.” In addition to carrying classified work by the Air Force, NASA has included an experiment from its Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS) in which it is examining the effects of the space environment on “nearly 100 different types of materials.” Space Coast (FL) Daily reports there is “60 percent chance of favorable conditions.” It also notes that the Atlas V will “launch an Aft Bulkhead Carrier (ABC) containing eight P-Pods that will release 10 CubeSats.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 May 2015
SpaceX Falcon 9 Certified by NASA

Falcon9_CapeCanaveral.jpgParabolic Arc reports, “NASA has formally certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket” for use in “all but the agency’s most costly robotic science missions.” Its first launch will be for “a United States and France oceanography satellite” in July. NASA spokesman George Diller said that the agency had “concluded the multi-year certification on Tuesday.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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18 May 2015
Farmers Increasingly Using UAVs

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe New York Times reported that the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed rules to “allow people to fly small unmanned aircraft for commercial reasons,” and “few are as excited about this technology as farmers,” who are able to use the technology to spot areas that need care and to fine-tune fertilizer and pesticide applications. A growing number of farmers are already illegally using UAVs “to gather information about the health of their crops” because “the technology holds such promise.” Meanwhile, “technology companies are moving quickly in anticipation of wider uses for drones, positioning themselves for an explosion in demand — and catering to rogue fliers in the meantime.” Les Dorr, a spokesman for the FAA, said, “We recognize that unmanned aircraft have an enormous potential for monitoring crops,” but called on people to be patient and wait for the rule-making to be completed. (Image Credit: Associated Press – Purchased)
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18 May 2015
HondaJet to Debut Following Final FAA Approval

HondaJet_CreditHondaJet.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that, following final approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, Honda Motor Co. will debut the HondaJet, a seven-seat ultrafast jet that costs about $4.5 million. The company hopes that the aircraft’s technological advances will allow it to compete with entrenched competitors in the field. The plane is the creation of Honda Aircraft Co. Chief Executive Officer Michimasa Fujino. Sporting engines above the wing, the plane challenges industry convention but offers up to 17% better fuel efficiency than competitors and, at 420 knots, the highest speed in its class. (Image Credit: HondaJet)
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18 May 2015
SLS Critical Design Review Has Begun

SLS-NASA-2013.jpgThe Houston Chronicle reported that NASA has begun a “critical design review” of the Space Launch System, at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The review seeks “to demonstrate that the project meets all system requirements with acceptable risk and does it within time and budget constraints.” In a statement, Todd May, the project’s program manager, said, “Thousands of documents and months of time are put into making sure the design is sound, safe and sustainable, and will make NASA’s mission of furthering human spaceflight possible.” NASA Space Flight reported that the project “is expected to pass without any major technical issues.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 May 2015
New GE Ceramic Allows Lighter, Hotter Jet Engines

GEJetEngine_GE.jpgThe AP reports that three decades of work along “a tortured path of fluctuating research funding and disappointments” by General Electric researcher Krishan Luthra has produced a new “lightweight, strong” ceramic that can withstand extreme temperatures. It is being incorporated into “jet engines and promises to save billions of gallons of fuel” through reduced weight and by allowing higher operating temperatures. The GE engine using the new material, the LEAP, already has 8,000 orders worth $100 billion, and it will be used on the Airbus 320neo and Boeing 737 MAX, with “the first test flight...expected to take off in the next several weeks.” GE predicts that, by 2020, with more components made with this material, “engine thrust could be increased by 25 percent and fuel consumption could improve by 10 percent.” (Image Credit: GE)
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14 May 2015
China Progressing In Development of STOVL Capabilities

ChineseSTVOL_YouTube-HenryLau.jpgReuters reports that “Chinese researchers are getting closer to developing a military aircraft” with the capability to make short takeoff and vertical landings (STOVL), which is viewed as an important component if China wants to conduct amphibious maneuvers off its only aircraft carrier or other ships. (Image Credit: Henry Lau/YouTube)
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14 May 2015
House Committee Adopts SPACE Act

House_SSandTC.jpgFlorida Today reports that on Wednesday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee adopted the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015, which would allow commercial spaceflight companies to “operate under clearer rules and extended liability protections.” With the bill now moving to the House floor, Democrats on the committee complain that the measure is being passed “without proper review.” Rep. Alan Grayson complained that the “corporate subsidy” is removing incentives for companies to avoid accidents. According to the article, this was “a rare moment of friction” because both parties typically approve of commercial spaceflight initiatives. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson added, “I want to see this industry continue to grow and be successful. ... But I don’t want that growth to be at the expense of the safety of the space-flying public.” (Image Credit: democrats.sciences.house.gov)
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13 May 2015
Astronauts to Spend Another Month In Space Due to Progress Failure

ProgressSpacecraft_Wiki.jpgThe AP reports that as a result of the recent Progress cargo spacecraft launch failure, the three ISS astronauts scheduled to return to Earth this week will remain aboard the station until “early June.” According to the article, officials are using the time to identify exactly what happened in order to make sure it will not be repeated because the Soyuz spacecraft used to deliver the crew and the Progress spacecraft use the same Soyuz rocket during launches. The New York Times reports that the astronauts should experience few problems while on their extended stay. Stephanie Schierholz, a NASA spokesperson, said, “We keep plenty of supplies on the space station so we can have the flexibility to do something like this.” Meanwhile, the next set of astronauts scheduled to head to the ISS will now launch in late July, and Schierholz stated that another Progress cargo mission will launch for the station in July instead of August. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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13 May 2015
NASA Releases Draft Technology Roadmaps

CharlesBolden.jpgNextGov reports that NASA released “a new series of draft 2015 Technology Roadmaps” on Monday, providing “a detailed examination of the agency’s anticipated missions and technological advancements over the next two decades.” According to the plan, “NASA believes sharing this document with the broader community will increase awareness, generate innovative solutions to provide the capabilities for space exploration and scientific discovery and inspire others to get involved in America’s space program.” The article notes that NASA’s budget raises questions about the feasibility of these roadmaps, especially when the 2016 proposed budget has “significant cuts to both planetary science and aeronautics – two areas that play an important role in the tech roadmaps.” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told a House hearing last month, “I had to decide where we could pick up the most with money that we had, and aeronautics was once again an area that I had to take some funds from.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 May 2015
Airbus to Resume A400M Flights Today

AirbusA400_Wikimedia.jpgBloomberg News reports that Airbus plans to resume A400M “routine development tests” today, just days after one of its jets suffered a fatal crash. According to reports in Der Spiegel, the plane may have suffered from “multiple engine failure” before crashing. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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12 May 2015
SLS Enters Critical Design Review

SLS-NASA-2013.jpgThe WAAY-TV Huntsville, AL “Space Alabama” website reports that the Space Launch System (SLS) has now entered the Critical Design Review (CDR), “the last step in the design process before the hardware starts to come together.” SLS Program Manager Todd May said, “One of the things I’m really excited about is once we complete the critical design review board, we are now fully in the mode of putting the rocket together, testing the pieces, and getting it ready to ship down to Kennedy Space Center.” To celebrate this milestone, the Marshall Space Flight Center held a “CDR kickoff” event yesterday, hosting “hundreds of NASA and space industry experts, many from around the country.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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11 May 2015
Airbus A400M Crashes During Test Flight In Spain

AirbusA400M_Crashes_in_Spain_AP-Purchased.jpgThe AP reported that on Saturday, an Airbus A400M crashed during a test flight in Spain, which “raised questions about the security of the brand new, propeller-driven transport aircraft.” Four of the six crew members aboard the plane died. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, “I hope there will be maximum transparency when explanations are made as to what happened here. That’s what I’m going to ask of Airbus.” The article noted that last month Airbus dismissed the person in charge of its military programs after various governments took issue with delays in the A400M. Meanwhile, since the crash, the UK has suspended all Airbus A400M flights. The Wall Street Journal noted that Germany has also suspended flights of the plane, but France has not yet taken any such action.
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11 May 2015
KSC Making Launch Pads Available to Commercial Customers

KSC2013_NASA.jpgFlorida Today reported that if private companies express interest in a draft announcement, the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) could host two more launch sites as part of its efforts “to become a multi-user spaceport.” Scott Colloredo, director of KSC’s Center Planning and Development office, said, “It’s hard to say how much interest we’ll get, but we do want to make that known that they are available.” The article noted that any project would have to pass “a more detailed” environmental assessment than the one expected to be completed by the fall. (Image Credit: NASA)
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8 May 2015
Industries Hope FAA’s UAV Regulations More Lax Than Anticipated

UAV_Wiki.jpgThe Knoxville News Sentinel reports that private industries are hoping that the upcoming release of FAA regulations on drone technology for commercial use will be more lax than previously anticipated. The Sentinel reports that although the FAA has “granted many exemptions” for private companies investing in and developing the technology, it is committed to a “staged implementation” of new UAV regulations, according to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta who spoke at this week’s Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Unmanned Systems conference. Meanwhile, the AP notes that while at least two companies have been approved to use UAVs for the primary purpose of gathering news, the FAA still has in place “strict restrictions on drone operations.” The AP adds that journalistic “bread and butter” cannot currently be fulfilled by UAVs because of the flight preapproval process, which would make reporting on unforeseen events almost impossible. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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8 May 2015
Flight Tests Begin for Leap-1B Engine

Leap-1BEngine_Wiki.jpgAviation Week reports that flights tests have begun on CFM International’s Leap-1B engine that will be used by the Boeing 737 MAX, another step toward the start of 737 MAX flight tests in 2016. According to the article, this is just part of “an increasingly hectic test and certification effort” for CFM “over the three engine models.” CFM Executive Vice President Allen Paxson said that the early indications from ground data showed that the Leap-1B is performing “exactly” as predicted. Keith Leverkuhn, Boeing 737 MAX vice president and general manager, added that while the flight tests will demonstrate how the engine performs, so far there is no “cause for concern.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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7 May 2015
SpaceX Successfully Tests Pad Abort System

SpaceXLaunchAbortTest_May2015.jpgThe CBS Evening News provided brief coverage on SpaceX’s successful test of a launch escape system, “an important advance...in private space flight.” The AP reports that NASA spokesman Mike Curie said that the test for the manned version of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft was “unlike any seen in Florida since the days of Apollo.” According to the article, SpaceX did not immediately announce what the results of the test were, but it appeared to have “unfolded more or less as anticipated.” The Washington Post “The Switch” blog notes that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a press conference that had astronauts participated in the test, they would have come out of it “in great shape.” According to the article, engineers will now review how the spacecraft and the dummy onboard fared during the test. Meanwhile, Musk would not specifiy exactly when the Dragon would be ready to carry people, stressing that estimates are “hard” when “in unexplored territory.” (Image Credit: @PezhmanZarifian)
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6 May 2015
Bolden: NASA Has Feasible, Affordable Plan to Reach Mars

CharlesBolden.jpgThe Hill reports that at the Humans to Mars conference in Washington, DC, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “It is my firm belief that we are closer to getting [to Mars] today than we have ever been before in the history of human civilization. ... We are just a few years away from being inside 20 years to the realistic feasibility of putting humans on Mars.” Bolden said that the government’s plan to put people on Mars in the 2030s is “clear...sustainable and...affordable.” According to the article, NASA has reached “a number of milestones” toward this goal in the past few months alone. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 May 2015
Today’s Launch Pad Abort Test Will Be Very Quick

LaunchAbortTest_SpaceX.jpgThe CBS News website continues coverage of today’s scheduled SpaceX launch pad abort test. Astronaut Garrett Reisman, SpaceX director of Crew Operations, said that this test will be “amazing,” but quick, so “don’t blink.” Reisman also discussed the work being done to modify shuttle launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, which he said should be operational “later this year.” Because of the ongoing work on the pad and the various tests planned, Reisman said that 2015 should be “a very aggressive and exciting year” for SpaceX. Christian Science Monitor, the test is a “milestone” toward NASA’s efforts to allow commercial companies to take over launching crews to the ISS. Meanwhile, Florida Toda reports that for an unknown reason, SpaceX delayed the test by two hours. The article notes that if “gusty winds” scrub the test, weather conditions for another attempt should be better on Thursday. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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6 May 2015
RMAX UAV Receives FAA Approval to Spray Crops

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe AP reports that on Tuesday FAA authorities announced that a UAV called RMAX, which is “large enough to carry tanks of fertilizers and pesticides,” was given approval by the agency last Friday for use in the U.S. RMAX is manufactured by Yamaha Corp and is a “remotely piloted helicopter” that will spray crops. “The FAA is taking an important step forward to helping more industries in the U.S. realize the benefits (drone) technology has to offer,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Bloomberg News reports that in a May 1 waiver, the FAA said, “while the Yamaha RMAX Type II G has been used to apply chemicals to farms in Japan and other countries for 20 years, it won’t be permitted to perform that in the U.S. initially.” (Image Credit: Associated Press, purchased)
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5 May 2015
SpaceX Abort System Features Thrusters to Rescue Astronauts

LaunchAbortTest_SpaceX.jpgFlorida Today continues coverage of Wednesday’s test of SpaceX’s launch abort system. The article notes that the pad abort test could “bring back memories of NASA’s early human spaceflight programs.” However, where Mercury and Apollo astronauts could be pulled away during an emergency “by pointy towers equipped with solid rocket motors,” SpaceX’s system uses no tower. Instead, there are “powerful, liquid-fueled thrusters built into [the Dragon capsule’s] sides.” According to the article, both NASA and SpaceX “cautioned” that there could be issues because this is a system under development. Jon Cowart, a partner manager in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said, “SpaceX is actually pulling back the curtain a little bit to let us see, and let you folks see, exactly the nuts and bolts of going and doing a developmental test. ... One good test is worth a thousand expert analyses.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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5 May 2015
New ISS Espresso Machine, Zero-G Cups Will Provide Scientific Data

ScottKellyDrinksEspresso_ISS.jpgThe AP continues coverage of how Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti drank the first espresso brewed in space, while also testing a new pitcher-like zero-g cup. Scott Kelly also drank an espresso. The article notes that “coffee maestro” Lavazza and Argotec, which helped design the machine, were both “thrilled” to see the tweeted images of Cristoforetti drinking the product. TIME reported that the “so-called Space Cups” were designed not just to drink the espresso but also to help scientists gather information “on how complex fluids (such as coffee or tea with sugar) move in zero gravity.” That data not only is useful in space, but also could be applied to “improving portable medical diagnostic devices used to quickly test blood for infectious diseases in remote areas of the world.” (Image Credit: @StationCDRKelly)
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4 May 2015
Study Shows Astronauts Could Suffer Brain Damage from Radiation

spacewalk_7Oct14_NASA.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that a new NASA-funded study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Nevada determined that prolonged exposure to the radiation in deep space “could cause subtle brain damage,” negatively affecting memory and decision making. The article noted that while NASA declined to be interviewed about the results, it did issue the following statement: “NASA recognizes the importance of understanding the effects of space radiation on humans during long-duration missions beyond Earth orbit, and these studies and future studies will continue to inform our understanding as we prepare for the journey to Mars.” The Los Angeles Times  “Science Now” website noted that Charles Limoli of UC Irvine, who led the research, decided to investigate the issue in relation to astronauts “as an outgrowth of his work on the effects of radiation on brain cancer patients.” Limoli stressed that if organizations want to deal with the radiation in space, they need to know what will happen. (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 May 2015
FAA Could Allow Beyond-Line-of-Sight UAV Operation

UAV_Wiki.jpgIn continuing coverage of the FAA’s proposed commercial UAV regulations, Reuters reported that in the coming week the FAA could announce its plans for partnering with the private sector to develop standards for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) technology for UAVs. Although current regulations limit commercial UAS operation and do not permit BVLOS capabilities, companies would be able to apply for case-by-case exemptions to the FAA’s current rules in order to develop BVLOS technology and techniques. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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1 May 2015
MESSENGER Mission Ends With Impact On Mercury

Messenger-Mercury-Flyby.jpgABC World News broadcast on the end of the MESSENGER spacecraft, which NASA “intentionally smashed onto the surface of Mercury” on Thursday. The broadcast showed the last image the spacecraft took of the planet, which was tweeted by NASA as well. The AP reports that Sean Solomon, lead scientist, said the spacecraft was “one of the most resilient and accomplished spacecraft ever to have explored our neighboring planets.” NASA posted a message on the mission’s twitter feed that said, “On behalf of Messenger, thank you all for your support. We will continue to update you on our great discoveries. We will miss it.” USA Today includes more positive statements about the mission from scientists. The article notes that other spacecrafts’ missions have also ended by impacting a planetary surface, such as the Grail spacecraft and LADEE. According to the Los Angeles Times “Science Now” website, Solomon stated that MESSENGER did “exemplary work” while orbiting Mercury. (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 May 2015
FAA Switches to New Air Traffic Control System

ATC-at-Dulles.jpgUSA Today reports that on Thursday, the FAA announced that it has “switched to a new air traffic control system” called En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) “for the 20 regional centers that direct high-altitude planes between airports.” The article notes that the new system has “three times as many sensors to track planes more precisely.” While announcing the upgrade at Reagan National Airport, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Here’s the bottom line: ERAM will use satellite technology to give us a much more precise picture of air traffic and it will allow us to more efficiently manage flights from takeoff to touchdown.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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30 April 2015
New Shepard Capsule Reaches Altitude of 58 Miles On First Flight

BlueOrigin_Shepard_FirstFliight_YouTube.jpgThe AP continues coverage of the first unmanned flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, which reached an altitude of 58 miles. Although it “parachuted to a landing in the west Texas desert,” the booster itself could not be recovered after it suffered from “a pressure problem.” The Washington Post “The Switch” blog reports that Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said that the flight was a “testament” to private spaceflight development. Meanwhile. Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin founder, said in a statement that this test would have been “flawless” had the vehicle not been designed from the start to be reusable.
(Image Credit: YouTube/Blue Origin)
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30 April 2015
Progress Spacecraft Fails to Reach ISS With Its Cargo

Progress_Wiki.jpgABC World News, in continuing coverage, broadcast that the Russian Progress cargo spacecraft that went “out of control” following its launch is now “doomed” and falling back to Earth without delivering its “vital supplies” to the ISS. ISS astronaut Scott Kelly said, “The program plans for these kinds of things to happen. They’re very unfortunate when they do. But we do have supplies on board.” Reporter Matt Gutman said that because of other recent launch failures, the astronauts may be “in jeopardy” if June’s SpaceX cargo mission is not successful. According to the CBS Evening News, the spacecraft should burn up when it enters the atmosphere “next week.” The AP reports that Kelly said, “We should be OK. ... I think we’re going to be in good shape.” The article also notes that experts believe that the Progress spacecraft should “burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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29 April 2015
Spinning Progress Delays Docking at ISS

ProgressDockedAtISS_NASA.jpgThe AP continues coverage of the troubled launch of a Progress cargo spacecraft from Russia. After having trouble receiving data from the spacecraft, NASA’s Mission Control said that a camera on the spacecraft showed that it was spinning at a “rather significant rate,” which caused the scheduled docking at the ISS to be postponed until at least Thursday. The article notes that it is “unclear” how long Russian flight controllers have to rectify the situation before the spacecraft is lost.  Another AP article reports that Russia’s Mission Control is not yet giving up its efforts to stabilize Progress, even though all efforts so far have been unsuccessful.  According to TIME, even if Progress does not deliver its supplies, the ISS astronauts have enough stores “to last them beyond their next planned delivery.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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29 April 2015
Lockheed Martin Develops New UAV To Help Locate Lost Individuals

LMC_UAV_CreditLMC.jpgEdwin Kee at UberGizm reports that Lockheed Martin, in partnership with the non-profit Project Lifesaver, has developed a new Indago UAV “to assist in the location of people with cognitive disabilities or diseases.” According to Kee, the new UAV should reduce “the amount of time and costs involved” in locating those who are lost. (Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Corporation)
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29 April 2015
Boeing to Incorporate Auto Industry Techniques Into 777X Construction

Boeing777_wiki.jpgReuters reports that Boeing will use standardized manufacturing techniques to save money on the production of its 777X jet. The article notes that these techniques are commonly used in the automobile industry, but are not common for planemakers. Walter Odisho, Boeing’s vice president of Manufacturing and Safety, discussed Boeing’s plans in his first interview since he joined the company from Toyota. The article notes that Airbus is already utilizing similar techniques. (Image Credit: Wikipdedia)
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28 April 2015
GAO, Pentagon Investigators Find Issues with F-35 Engine Program

F35_Wikipedia.jpgThe Washington Post reports that an audit performed earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s engine has “very poor” reliability and “a long way to go to achieve” its goals. The Pentagon’s internal investigators just released another report that discovered 61 violations in the program’s management by Pratt & Whitney. The Pentagon office managing the F-35 disagreed with some of the findings, saying that some of the recommended corrective measures are “unnecessary” and would add to the program’s cost and timeline. The GAO, meanwhile, determined that “improving engine reliability will likely require additional design changes and retrofits.” According to the article, the GAO predicted there would be an increase in “the literature of criticism” as the program continues. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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28 April 2015
Amazon and Other Companies Ask FAA to Expand UAV Rules

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpgUSA Today reports that “Amazon is among a host of companies” asking the FAA to “expand the abilities of small commercial drones and the traffic control system that would monitor them.” The FAA’s current UAV proposal, released in February, would allow “individual drones weighing up to 55 pounds to fly within sight of their remote pilots during daylight hours.” USA Today says that the FAA received over 4,400 comments on their proposed rules by the April 24 deadline. The Hill reports that Amazon said in its comments that its “only objections to the FAA’s proposed drone rules are related to its ability to use the technology to make deliveries.” (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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27 April 2015
Public Comment Period On Commercial UAV Proposal Ends

UAV_Wiki.jpgThe Hill reported that on Friday the FAA’s “comment period on its proposed rules for commercial UAVs under 55 pounds ended. Listing some of the rules that the FAA is proposing, The Hill pointed out that the agency has had to deal with ‘tremendous pressure to approve a rapid expansion of nonmilitary drone use.’” Bloomberg News reported that the FAA received “less reaction from the public than expected,” having received less than 4,000 public comments, but this “may help speed implementation of the proposal.” Aviation International News reported that the UAV industry wants “more flexible regulation than the agency has proposed for commercial use of small drones,” asking for the allowance of “nighttime” UAV use, as well as use “beyond-line-of-sight.” According to the article, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta wants to have UAV rules finalized by the end of the year. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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27 April 2015
SpaceX Ready for Monday Launch if Weather Holds

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiThe Orlando Sentinel reports that SpaceX is set to launch the TurkmenÄlem52E/MonacoSat on Monday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.  Launch is scheduled for 6:14 p.m. EDT with a 90-minute launch window. If the launch is successful, it will place the “first national telecommunications satellite for Turkmenistan” into space. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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27 April 2015
MESSENGER Mission Ends 30 April

Messenger-Mercury-Flyby.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel reports that after operators tried what they could “to further delay the inevitable impact,” the MESSENGER spacecraft, now out of fuel, will crash into Mercury’s surface on April 30. This follows “the last of six planned maneuvers on Thursday” to try and extend the mission a little bit. (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 April 2015
NASA Releases Image In Celebration of Hubble Anniversary

NASA_Releases_HubbleImage_23Apr2015.jpgThe CBS Evening News broadcast that to mark the Hubble Space Telescope’s 25th anniversary in space, NASA released “a stunning new image” of the Westerlund 2 cluster. It also “produced a fly-through video.” The AP reports that there was no “better way” to celebrate the anniversary than with the unveiling of the image at the Newseum in Washington, DC, which was attended by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, one of the “five former shuttle astronauts who flew on Hubble missions.” Bolden said, “A quarter-century later, Hubble has fundamentally changed our human understanding of our universe and our place in it.” Grunsfeld added, “Hubble inspires the world.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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23 April 2015
X-47B Becomes First Unmanned Aircraft To Undergo Aerial Refueling

X-47B_First_Aerial_Refueling_CreditNGC.jpgReuters reports that on Wednesday the Northrop Grumman X-47B test aircraft became the first unmanned aircraft to undergo and successfully execute an aerial refueling. Navy Captain Beau Duarte, the program manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program, said that the capability demonstrated should improve the range of future UAVs. (Image Credit: @northgrumman)
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23 April 2015
ADM to Utilize UAVs to Expedite Crop Insurance Claims

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgBloomberg News reports that ADM announced yesterday that it received approval from the FAA to “fly drones that will locate and assess crop damage.” Greg Mills, ADM Crop Risk Services unit president, said, “We are on track to have this technology in the air for our customers next year.” According to Reuters, Mills said in a phone interview, “I think it will create some general efficiencies and some specific efficiencies for claims.” Mills added, “The goal is to test the savings to the business in the Midwest and then potentially release nodes of equipment by next spring to be used for the summer of 2016 for use in a larger area.” (Image Credit: Associated Press, purchased)
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22 April 2015
Solar Impulse 2 Resumes Journey After Unexpected Delay

SolarImpulse2_departs_9March_APpurchased.jpgThe Daily Mail (UK) reports that “after [an] unexpected delay of three weeks,” Solar Impulse 2 resumed its flight around the world by taking off from the Chinese city of Chongqing. The delay was due to “weather and safety concerns.” Co-pilot André Borschberg also had to be treated for migraines in Switzerland. AFP reports that Solar Impulse 2 completed its sixth stage of the trip when it landed in Nanjing late Tuesday. Borschberg is now scheduled to return to China by Friday after his treatment. (Image Credit: Associated Press; purchased)
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22 April 2015
Nield: Blue Origin Test Flights Could Take Place In Coming Weeks

Hubble_NASA.jpgSpace News reports that George Nield, FAA associate administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, told the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board that Blue Origin will “be flying their reusable launch vehicle [RLV] in the next couple of weeks. Watch the news for that.” He described the company as a “really professional, first-class organization.” When asked to confirm Nield’s statement, Blue Origin spokesperson Jessica Pieczonka would only say that the company is aiming for flights this year. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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21 April 2015
Hubble Has “No Lack” of Topics to Study 25 Years Into Its Mission

Hubble_NASA.jpgDiscovery News reports on this week’s 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Kenneth Sembach, head of the Hubble Mission Office at the Space Telescope Science Institute, said that with the telescope’s current health, there is “no lack of things” the telescope can yet accomplish. SPACE reports that as part of the anniversary, the film “Hubble’s Cosmic Journey” debuted on the National Geographic Channel on Monday. Jeff Hester, a NASA scientist, who appears in the film, said that when it was launched, “Hubble was touted as the best thing for astronomy since Galileo pointed a telescope at the heavens,” but “almost overnight, Hubble went from being a jewel in the crown of NASA astrophysics, the heir apparent, to a running joke.” Hester, as well as Ed Weiler, NASA’s chief scientist for the Hubble telescope from 1979 to 1998, described the steps NASA took to correct the telescope’s early issues. Weiler noted that if it wasn’t for the astronaut servicing missions over the years, the Hubble would be “a piece of floating space junk.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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20 April 2015
SpaceX Dragon Arrives at ISS

DragonApproachesISS_Apr2015_NASA_TerryVirts.jpgThe Los Angeles Times “Science Now” website reported that SpaceX ‘s robotic Dragon cargo spacecraft has arrived at the ISS with “the station’s first Italian espresso machine” and “zero-gravity coffee cups,” according to NASA spokesman Dan Huot, who said, “Something as simple as being able to smell your morning coffee can go a long way.” He added, however, that “there’s a lot of science on board that’s going to take priority” before the espresso machine is unpacked. The Boulder Daily Camera reported that the spacecraft also delivered the Observation and Analysis of Smectic Islands in Space (OASIS) experiment, the first study involving smectic liquid crystal in space, and the first one to “examine the behavior of liquid crystals in microgravity.”
(Image Credit: Astronaut Terry Virts tweeted this picture of the SpaceX Dragon supply ship approaching the ISS. Credit: NASA/@AstroTerryNASA)
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17 April 2015
MESSENGER Spacecraft Set To Crash Into Mercury On April 30

Messenger-Mercury-Flyby.jpgThe AP reports that NASA recently revealed the date of the MESSENGER spacecraft’s “impending demise.” On April 30, the spacecraft will crash into Mercury, which it has been orbiting since 2011. The article notes that scientists “celebrated” the spacecraft’s successful mission, and hope to gather more information about the planet “until almost the bitter end.” The Los Angeles Times “Science Now” website reports that NASA paid “tribute” to the spacecraft on Thursday. James Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said, “The spacecraft and the instruments have worked virtually flawlessly over those four years” it has been in orbit. Principal Investigator Sean Solomon also made “a top-10 list of [MESSENGER’s] greatest discoveries.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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16 April 2015
SpaceX Video Shows Booster Landing Attempt

SpaceXBoosterLanding_Apr2015_SpaceX.jpgThe CBS Evening News broadcast that SpaceX released a video of its attempt to land a rocket booster “Buck Rogers style on an ocean barge” after it launched cargo to the ISS. The booster fell “just after touchdown instead of landing on its feet.” Aviation Week reports that SpaceX is possibly looking into whether “static friction in an engine throttle valve” caused the unsuccessful booster landing. According to the article, the company is “encouraged” that the booster was able to land on target, even if it tipped over. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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15 April 2015
SpaceX Launches Dragon Toward ISS, But Does Not Complete Landing Test

SpaceXDragonLaunch_14Apr15_NASA.jpgNBC Nightly News, in continuing coverage, broadcast that SpaceX successfully launched a spacecraft toward the ISS on Tuesday. However, “once again,” SpaceX was not able to land its rocket “on a drone ship” following the launch, as planned. According to the broadcast, SpaceX was a “bit closer” to a successful landing than it was back in January when it made its last attempt. The AP reports that the rocket booster “landed too hard” before falling over. The company will make another attempt in June when it sends another Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. Meanwhile, NASA praised SpaceX for Tuesday’s “spectacular” launch. The article notes that NASA was “eager” to get the cargo to the ISS astronauts because last October’s Orbital ATK launch failure left “a month-or-two backlog for food and equipment.” The Los Angeles Times notes that in a tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that “excess lateral velocity” may have caused the booster to fall over upon landing. (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 April 2015
GAO Report: Aircraft Could be Vulnerable to Hacking

UnitedAirlinesJet_Wiki.jpgUSA Today reports commercial airliners could be hacked in flight by passengers using the plane’s Wi-Fi network, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. CNN reports one of the authors of the GAO report said “the planes include the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Airbus A350 and A380 aircraft, and all have advanced cockpits that are wired into the same Wi-Fi system used by passengers.” The report said, “Modern communications technologies, including IP connectivity, are increasingly used in aircraft systems, creating the possibility that unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems.” The AP reports Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the lawmaker who requested the GAO report, said a “worst-case scenario is that a terrorist with a laptop would sit among the passengers and take control of the airplane using its passenger Wi-Fi.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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15 April 2015
Airbus Reveals First Leap-Powered A320neo

AirbusA320_CreditAirbus.jpgFlightglobal reports that Airbus revealed its “first A320neo to be fitted with the CFM International Leap-1A powerplant.” The article notes that although CFM produces the CFM56 for the A320 family, the “Leap is designed to slash fuel-burn on the re-engined variant.” The article also reports that Airbus is flight-testing the PW1100G-powered A320neo, but no date has been set “for the Leap-1A version’s maiden flight.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
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14 April 2015
SpaceX Launch Delayed Until Tuesday

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki.jpgPopular Science reports that University of Pennsylvania and Qualcomm have demonstrated how a UAV “with a smartphone strapped” into its “skeleton body” can fly using the phone’s camera “to steer from visual input.” According to the article, this could mean that UAV hobbyists may “soon substitute smartphones for other hardware at the heart of their drones." (Image Credit: )
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14 April 2015
UAV Flies Using Smartphone’s Camera

UAV_Wiki.jpgPopular Science reports that University of Pennsylvania and Qualcomm have demonstrated how a UAV “with a smartphone strapped” into its “skeleton body” can fly using the phone’s camera “to steer from visual input.” According to the article, this could mean that UAV hobbyists may “soon substitute smartphones for other hardware at the heart of their drones." (Image Credit: )
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14 April 2015
ULA Unveils New Vulcan Rocket Concept

ULA_DeltaIV_wikipedia.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Monday, United Launch Alliance (ULA) revealed details about its new Vulcan rocket, which will have reusable engines, which could lower launch prices. The rocket could be used for multistop missions as well. According to the article, the rocket is ULA’s way to deal with the rise of SpaceX and Congress’ displeasure with the reliance on Russian engines for launches. Reuters reports that the Vulcan could fly as early in 2019, while the Centaur engine is scheduled to be replaced by 2023. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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13 April 2015
Weather Could Delay Today’s SpaceX Launch

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki.jpgFlorida Today reported that there is only a 60% chance that the weather will be good enough for today’s scheduled SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch, scheduled for 4:33 p.m. EDT. If the launch does go off, the rocket will send a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the ISS with over “4,300 pounds of food, equipment and experiments.” The article noted that forecasts call for better weather on Tuesday if the launch is delayed. SPACE focused on SpaceX’s reusable rocket test. The article only briefly noted that this test is a secondary objective of the launch. Another Florida Today article reports that during a press conference on Sunday, Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Mission Assurance at SpaceX, said there would be an “epic landing party” if the launch and a reusable rocket went well. Koenigsmann estimated that the Falcon 9’s first stage now has “a 75 percent to 80 percent chance” of landing successfully, up from the “50-50” the company thought back in January. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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13 April 2015
Apollo 13 Launched 45 Years Ago

Apollo13-Launches-wiki.jpgFlorida Today reported that Saturday marked the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 launch, which became one of NASA’s “greatest triumphs” after crews successfully brought the astronauts back home safely on April 17. A dinner and panel discussion were scheduled at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Apollo/Saturn V Center to raise funds for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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10 April 2015
FAA Approves Amazon UAV Use for Delivery Service Research

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpgUSA Today reported that “the FAA announced Thursday that Amazon was one of 30 exemptions the agency granted a day earlier for commercial drones.” USA Today noted that Amazon plans to use drones in research for a proposed delivery service called Amazon Prime Air. USA Today mentioned some of the restrictions placed on this research and added that Amazon “has said it will abide by much stronger safety measures than required for hobbyists.” The Air Line Pilots Association said “each flight should be coordinated with air-traffic controllers” in densely populated areas, adds the piece, noting that the FAA said it would “distribute warnings to pilots in the area when drone flights are planned.” Bloomberg News reported the FAA waiver meant that “Amazon’s drone delivery test program is back in business” after regulatory frustrations over the past several months. (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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10 April 2015
Branson: Virgin Galactic’s First Flight to be Delayed One Year

spaceshiptwo-credit-VirginGalactic.jpgBloomberg News reported that in an interview on Bloomberg Television, Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson said that there will be a year’s delay for commercial space tourist flights, even though the team developing a second spacecraft is “confident” about progress. (Image Credit: Virgin Galactic)
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9 April 2015
AIG Becomes Third Insurer to Gain FAA Approval for UAV Use

UAV_Wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that American International Group (AIG) has become the third insurer to gain the FAA’s approval to use a UAV for inspections. According to the article, UAVs can potentially transform the insurance industry. However, the article noted that the FAA’s proposed rules could still hinder the industry. GPS World noted that with insurers USAA and AIG, the FAA has approved a total of 99 commercial UAV operations. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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9 April 2015
SpaceX to Conduct Another First Stage Landing Attempt On April 13

SpaceXFalcon9_Launchpad_NASA.jpgBusiness Insider continued coverage of SpaceX’s next scheduled cargo mission to the ISS on April 13. After the company launches the Dragon cargo spacecraft, it will make “another historic SpaceX rocket landing attempt.” It will try for the second time to land the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage on an offshore platform. According to the article, SpaceX’s work is ushering in “a new era of reusable rockets.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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8 April 2015
Blue Origin’s BE-3 Engine to Start Test Flights This Year

BlueOrigin_ShepardSpacecraft_Wiki.jpgIn its blog “The Switch,” the Washington Post reported that Blue Origin revealed Tuesday that its BE-3 engine will make its first test flight with the company’s “reusable New Shepard spacecraft” this year. According to the Post, this is “a significant milestone” toward Blue Origin’s plan for suborbital tourist flights. The company’s president, Rob Meyerson, didn’t specify a date for the flight. The article noted that Jeff Bezos, who owns Blue Origin, is part of the “new vanguard of ultra-wealthy entrepreneurs” with spaceflight projects. The Seattle Times noted that Blue Origin is still “a long way” from providing “safe, reliable and affordable” space trips for the masses. Meanwhile, Meyerson explained that so far, the engine has gone through “450 tests, running for a total of 500 minutes and consuming 3.3 million gallons of liquid hydrogen.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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7 April 2015
FAA Grants USAA Permission to Test Small UAVs In San Antonio

UAV_Wiki.jpgThe San Antonio Express-News reported that USAA has received FAA permission “to test small drones on its San Antonio campus and in some unpopulated, rural areas south of the city.” USAA “eventually wants to be able to use the drones to expedite insurance claims from customers following natural disasters.” State Farm was the first insurer to gain FAA approval to use a UAV. The San Antonio Business Journal reported that last year USAA applied for an exemption from federal UAV use laws. USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Group President Alan Krapf said, “We’re proud to be among the first insurers approved to test this technology. It’s our responsibility to explore every option to improve our members’ experience.” The article noted that USAA has also submitted another application to use UAVs “during catastrophes.” The FAA’s ruling on that request could come “soon.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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7 April 2015
Technology May Make Pilots Obsolete

UnitedAirlinesJet_Wiki.jpgThe New York Times reported that advances in artificial intelligence and other technology “are making human pilots less necessary.” Government “agencies are experimenting with replacing the co-pilot” with a robot. The article noted that in written testimony submitted to the Senate in March, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) warned, “It is vitally important that the pressure to capitalize on the technology not lead to an incomplete safety analysis of the aircraft and operations.” ALPA, defending human pilots, added, “A pilot on board an aircraft can see, feel, smell or hear many indications of an impending problem and begin to formulate a course of action before even sophisticated sensors and indicators provide positive indications of trouble.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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6 April 2015
NASA “Quietly” Considering Return to the Moon

MoonMission_NASA.jpgThe Houston Chronicle reported that “senior NASA engineers” are “quietly” working on a manned lunar mission as part of an “Evolvable Mars Campaign.” According to the article, William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, does not think that astronauts can complete a direct mission to Mars like the Obama administration wants, placing him “in a delicate position.” The article noted that Gerstenmaier seems “to be steering” NASA back to the moon, where “many critics” believe NASA should head toward next. Gerstenmaier said, “We have seen and done several studies that look at Mars missions as a logistics and resupply problem. ... These studies show that resources from the moon could be extremely beneficial for Mars missions.” When released later this year, NASA’s new Evolvable Mars Campaign would avoid “flags-and-footprints” missions for “a more step-by-step, sustainable path.” (Image Credit: NASA/Charlie Duke)
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6 April 2015
Reaper Takes Out Sea Target In Test

MQ-9Reaper.jpgPopular Science reported that an MQ-9 Reaper UAV sunk a “sea-going target” for the first time during tests in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the article, sinking “small armed boats” is a job “perfect” for a Reaper, freeing jets like the F-16 and F-35 to take out targets that “make tactical sense.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)



3 April 2015
New Plan Could Have Astronauts Orbiting Mars by 2033

MarsMission_JPLNASA.jpgAviation Week reported that a workshop hosted by The Planetary Society and chaired by Scott Hubbard and John Logsdon determined that with “inflation-adjusted funding levels comparable to what NASA is spending on its human-spaceflight effort today,” the U.S. could afford to send astronauts into Mars’ orbit by 2033 and onto its surface by 2039. The article noted that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory tasked The Aerospace Corporation with evaluating the cost of the proposal. The plan, would require no “dramatic advances in technology,” and relies on NASA’s Orion and Space Launch System. SPACE noted that Hubbard called the proposal a “long-term, cost-constrained, executable humans-to-Mars program.” Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye said that while the technical issues involved are challenging, “the real problem” facing the proposal is politics. (Image Credit: JPL/NASA)
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3 April 2015
X-47B Will Soon Undergo Its First Aerial Refueling

X-47B_CarrierDeck_USN.jpgMilitary reported that sometime in the next few weeks, the Navy’s X-47B UAV will take part in its first aerial refueling. According to the article, the milestone would come even as the Unmanned Carrier Launched Aircraft Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program is being criticized by those in Congress wanting “a stealthy, long-endurance, penetrating strike platform.” Military officials are still working out the requirements they want before launching “a formal proposal.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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2 April 2015
White House: U.S. Pilots Are “Appropriately” Screened For Mental Health Issues

TwoPilots_Cockpit_Wiki.jpgThe Hill reported that after the recent news that Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally crashed a jet last week in the French Alps, the White House said Wednesday that pilots in the U.S. were “‘appropriately’ screened for mental health issues.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the FAA “tries to balance the privacy of pilots with the interests of protecting passengers.” Earnest added that “ensuring the interests of the traveling public” is a top priority for federal regulators, which is why agencies, including the NTSB and the FAA, “have in place regulations that — that are related to the health and well being of train conductors and airline pilots.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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2 April 2015
Atlas 5 Rockets May Soon Roll Out and Launch On Same Day Again

ULA_AtlasV_wiki.jpgSpaceflight Now reported that United Launch Alliance (ULA) may resume rolling out and launching an Atlas 5 rocket on the same day. The article noted that the “whirlwind experience” has not taken place since the launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005. Depending on what officials determine during a mission evaluation, the first such rollout and launch could take place “later this summer.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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1 April 2015
LDSD Undergoes Spin Test at JPL

LDSDTest_NASA.jpgThe CBS Evening News reported on NASA’s spin test on what it called a flying saucer, using “a table in Pasadena, California.” The broadcast noted that the “saucer” will take part in a flight test over Hawaii this June. The Los Angeles Times “Science Now” blog noted that the saucer tested at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was actually “a 15-foot wide, 7,000-pound aerodynamic test vehicle” called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) that NASA designed to “try out new technologies for landing spacecraft, and someday people, on Mars.” According to the article, so far the methods used to land spacecraft on Mars have “worked fabulously,” but different techniques are needed for larger objects. Jeff Weiss, LDSD deputy project manager, said last year’s test flight “was fascinating to watch. ... And since then we’ve looked at the footage frame by frame to see where it failed and where it didn’t, and learn from those lessons.” Weiss added that he is “hopeful” the LDSD’s redesigned parachute works as planned, “but until we test it, we really don’t know.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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31 March 2015
South Korea Awards KAI, Lockheed KF-X Fighter

F-4_Wiki.jpgAFP reported that on Monday, South Korea selected Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and its partner Lockheed Martin for an 8.6 trillion won ($7.8 billion) contract to develop 120 fighter jets. The bid from KAI and Lockheed, “which is subject to a screening process before being officially approved, was always seen as the favorite … over a rival bid by civilian carrier Korean Air (KAL) teamed with Airbus.” The contract is for the “KF-X fighter project,” which aims to develop and produce new, indigenous fighter jets to replace South Korea’s aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s. The article noted recent South Korean military contracts awarded to Lockheed and Raytheon, as well as a recent bid by Airbus for “a $1.38 billion deal to provide air refueling tankers.” The AP noted that in the past, South Korea “traditionally” imported jets from the U.S. China Daily and other media sources provide similar coverage. (Image: McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. Credit: Wikipedia)
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31 March 2015
Amazon Testing Its UAV In British Columbia

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpgThe Vancouver Sun reported that Amazon is in British Columbia to test a UAV that could one day deliver packages. According to the article, the tests are being conducted “at a secret ... location” because of the FAA’s “go-slow approach” to UAV regulations. Transport Canada approved the project with certain specified conditions, “such as maximum altitudes, minimum distances from people and property, operating areas, and coordination requirements with air traffic services.” (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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31 March 2015
Solar Impulse 2 On Its Way to China

SolarImpulse2_departs_9March_APpurchased.jpgAFP reported that Solar Impulse 2 is now on its way to China after the weather grounded the plane for a week in Mandalay. The team believes that this leg of the journey will be “challenging” because of the “strong, low-level winds in Chongqing.” (Image Credit: Associated Press – purchased)
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30 March 2015
Astronaut Scott Kelly Begins Nearly YearLong Mission On Board ISS

SoyuzTMA-16M_Launch_27Mar15_NASA.jpgABC World News declared Astronaut Scott Kelly the “Person of the Week” on its Friday broadcast for agreeing to spend “almost an entire year,” in space. “NASA will now study [Scott Kelly and his brother Mark Kelly] with nearly identical genetic makeup to show what a year in space does to one brother and obviously not the other. What space does to the human body. The idea being, one day, missions to Mars might take even longer than a year.” The AP reported that the mission is “about twice as long as a standard mission.” The story noted that it is “NASA’s first attempt at a one-year spaceflight; four Russians have spent a year or more in space.” The Washington Post reported that the “launch went off without a hitch,” lifting off at 3:42 Eastern time, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 March 2015
NASA Chooses Option B for Asteroid Redirection Mission

Asteroid_Redirect_NASAJPL.jpgFlorida Today reported on the decision by NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot to send a spacecraft to an asteroid and retrieve a boulder from it and put it into orbit around the moon. Lightfoot explained the attraction of the chosen asteriod, saying, “I’m going to have multiple targets when I get there, is what it boils down to.” Current plans are to launch the spacecraft in 2020. The Spaceflight Insider reported that NASA concluded that Option B would cost $100 million more than Option A, towing an entire asteroid into lunar orbit. Lightfoot said that the mission “will provide an initial demonstration of several spaceflight capabilities we will need to send astronauts deeper into space, and eventually, to Mars.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
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30 March 2015
Carriers, Regulators Move to Require at Least Two Pilots In Cockpits

TwoPilots_Cockpit_Wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that United Airlines parent company United Continental Holdings has ended its policy of allowing just one pilot in the cockpit of some Boeing Co. jetliners following the recent Germanwings crash, which investigators say was intentionally done by the co-pilot. Many airlines and regulators have since moved to require that no pilot be alone. USA Today reported that on Friday, Lufthansa announced “that it will now require two authorized crew members in the cockpit of its flights at all times.” Similar announcements have come from a number of other carriers, including Air Canada, EasyJet, and Norwegian Air Shuttle, even as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommended “that all European airlines require two authorized people in the cockpit of a commercial flight.” Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said a similar policy “went into effect immediately for passenger flights there.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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27 March 2015
Kelly Scheduled to Launch On One-Year Mission Today

Kelly_Kornienko_SetToLaunch27Marc15_NASA.jpgThe AP continued coverage of today’s impending launch of astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka to the ISS. During a press conference on Thursday, Kelly and Kornienko spoke about their upcoming one-year mission, and what they would miss back on Earth. Although other astronauts have spent one year or more in space, Kelly said, “One of the differences here is that we’re doing it as an international partnership, and if we’re going to go beyond low-Earth orbit again, perhaps to Mars, because of the cost and the complexity it will most likely be an international mission so we see this as a stepping stone to that.” Kornienko added that the new study will involve techniques not available during the last long-term mission “almost 20 years” ago.  Launch is set for 3:42 p.m. EDT. (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 March 2015
AIAA Executive Sandra Magnus Urges Building Consensus on Future of Space

Magnus_Kimbrough_STS_126_NASA.jpgOn Feb. 19 and 20 a diverse group of over 100 space leaders from academia, government and industry came together at the Pioneering Space National Summit in Washington. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and several other space-related nonprofit organizations were also present. Why was this a remarkable event? (Image: Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Sandra Magnus, STS-126 mission specialists. Credit: NASA)
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25 March 2015
FAA Streamlines Rules to Expedite UAV Permits

UAV_Wiki.jpgThe Associated Press reported that the FAA announced that it has streamlined rules to expedite permits to operate small, commercial drones. Under the new rules, the agency will “grant blanket flying permission” to operators of UAVs that weigh under 55 pounds and “who agree to keep flights under 200 feet, to fly only in the daytime, and to keep away from airports,” according to the article. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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24 March 2015
German Airbus A320 Crashes in French Alps

Germanwings_AirbusA320_wiki.jpgAn Airbus A320 airliner flying from Barcelona to Düsseldorf has crashed in the mountains of southern France. The Airbus A320 making the flight for Lufthansa’s subsidiary, Germanwings, crashed near the small mountain village of Barcelonette in the southern Alps with at least 144 passengers and six crew members on board. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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24 March 2015
UAS Tests to Begin at Joint Base Cape Cod Later This Year

Assortment_of_UAVs_Wiki.jpgThe Boston Globe reported that Massachusetts-based Avwatch will manage unmanned aircraft system tests from Joint Base Cape Cod. The program is a chance for companies “and independent engineers to send their lab work skyward.” Flights could start “in just a few months.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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23 March 2015
Sources: FAA Plans to Introduce Ways to Speed Commercial UAV Use

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpgReuters reported that according to sources with knowledge of the matter, the FAA plans to unveil new steps to make it easier for companies to use UAVs commercially. The agency intends to no longer require companies with exemptions to obtain a new certificate of authority for each new use of a UAV. The FAA added that the FAA could announce the change this week ahead of a congressional hearing on drones scheduled for Tuesday. (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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23 March 2015
SpaceX to Launch ISS Cargo Mission Next

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki.jpgThe WTEV-TV Jacksonville, FL website reported that SpaceX has decided to move up the launch of its cargo mission to the ISS so that it is the next one to take place. “Technical issues” delayed another launch, allowing the ISS cargo mission launch, with its possible reusable rocket landing attempt, to be scheduled for April 10. However, the article noted that this launch date could also be adjusted “in the next few weeks.” Spaceflight Now noted that the launch of Turkmenistan’s first communications satellite will not take place before April 24. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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23 March 2015
Kelly’s Yearlong ISS Mission Starts Friday

ISS-NASA.jpgABC’s This Week broadcast a report on astronaut Scott Kelly’s upcoming year-long mission in space, and how he and his twin brother Mark are the “perfect subjects” for studying how spaceflight affects people. NASA Flight Surgeon Stevan Gilmore said, “You can look in detail at how the genes and the proteins that are made from them change as a result of this unique environment.” Scott, who will start his mission on Friday, acknowledged that such a study does have risks, but he is “willing to accept that for what we’re going to learn for it.” The Houston Chronicle noted that Kelly’s year-long adventure is the “next step” toward sending astronauts to Mars. (Image Credit: NASA)
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20 March 2015
FAA Approves Amazon’s Request for Experimental Use of Drones Outdoors

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpgThe New York Times reported that the Federal Aviation Administration has “given Amazon a green light to begin testing drones,” allowing the company to “conduct test flights of its drones outdoors, as long as [it] obeys a host of rules like flying below 400 feet and only during daylight hours.” The drones must “be operated by a pilot with a certificate to fly a private manned aircraft.” The company continues to seek “more flexibility” from the FAA. The Wall Street Journal reported that the company will be able to test “the drones in more real-world conditions than an enclosed laboratory.” The AP reported that the aircraft has to “remain within the line of sight of the pilot and observer.” (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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20 March 2015
Expandable Habitat to Go to ISS for Testing

BigelowBEAM_NASA.jpgSPACE reported on the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) by Bigelow Aerospace, “scheduled to depart later this year for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and then blast toward the station atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster.” Its launch will offer “a key test for expandable space habitats.” The hope is that “expandable habitats” may offer “dramatically larger volumes than rigid, metallic structures as well as enhanced protection against both radiation and physical debris.” They are also lighter and less expensive to transport.  Jason Crusan, NASA’s director of Advanced Exploration Systems, said, “We’re fortunate to have the space station to demonstrate potential habitation capabilities like BEAM,” adding that the ISS “provides us with a long-duration microgravity platform with constant crew access to evaluate systems and technologies we are considering for future missions farther into deep space.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 March 2015
Boeing Conducts Tests of 757 ecoDemonstrator

BoeingecoDemonstrator_Boeing.jpgAviation Week reported that Boeing has “conducted the initial functional-check flight and handling-qualities test sortie” for the 757 ecoDemonstrator, on a flight from Boeing Field in Seattle. The plane “will test two design technologies for the wing leading edge and an active flow control feature in the vertical tail.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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18 March 2015
Air Force Officials Address Launch Concerns at Congressional Hearing

ULA_DeltaIV_wikipedia.jpgUSA Today reported that on Tuesday, Pentagon officials warned that a “congressional directive to phase out the use of Russian-made rocket engines could leave the U.S. unable to launch military communications or intelligence satellites for several years.” Air Force officials cautioned members of the House Armed Services subcommittee on Strategic Forces that “alternatives may not be in place when United Launch Alliance exhausts its supply of the RD-180 engines,” which is expected around 2018. However, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the subcommittee chairman, stressed, “It’s extremely important that we work to transition off of relying on Russian engines for national security launch purposes.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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18 March 2015
MQ-9 Reaper Fleet Achieves One Million Flight Hours

MQ-9Reaper.jpgFlightglobal reported that the operational fleet of MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, which serve “the U.S. air force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, and the Italian, U.K. and French air forces,” has flown for “a cumulative one million flight hours” as of this month. The article noted that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems said that it could double the current production rate of the UAVs if needed. (Image Credit: USAF)
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18 March 2015
Next SpaceX Launch Pushed Back Due To Technical Issue

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki.jpgFlorida Today reported that because of issues with “the helium system that pressurizes propellant tanks on the Falcon 9 rocket,” SpaceX is pushing back the launch of “Turkmenistan’s first communications satellite.” The article noted that no new launch date has been set.  However, Spaceflight Now reported that the launch will take place “no earlier than March 28,” after the launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket with a GPS satellite. The article noted that it is unclear whether this delay will impact other launches in the company’s manifest, including the currently scheduled April 10 launch of a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the ISS. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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17 March 2015
Grunsfeld “Absolutely Compelled” to Send Humans to Mars

MarsMission_NASA.jpgRe/code interviewed John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas about a manned mission to Mars and the technology improvements necessary for one to happen. Grunsfeld said he’s “absolutely compelled” to get humans to Mars, especially because current robots are “primitive to what a geologist in graduate school would do on Earth here today. Getting a team of scientists on Mars could be transformative.” Asked about the public’s apparent lack of interest in space, especially compared to the Apollo program, Grunsfeld said, “I think there’s actually much more interest today. When we look back at Apollo, we think of the high points. ... [People] watched the big events, but overall there was probably less public interest in space than there is now. We literally had hundreds of millions of people watching around the world as we arrived at Mars [with the Curiosity rover]. It was because of social networking.” Still, Grunsfeld thinks it will take “nuclear propulsion of some kind” before people can effectively explore the solar system. (Image Credit: NASA)
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17 March 2015
FAA Approves More UAV Uses by Commercial Companies

Drone-Wiki.jpgThe Dayton (OH) Daily News reported that UAV operator 3D Aerial Solutions LLC will become one of the few firms in the U.S. with the “FAA’s blessing to fly a drone commercially.” The FAA program granted permission to less than 50 UAV operators around the country last fall. The article noted that the FAA rules are currently under public review and “may be in place within two years.” Meanwhile, a San Francisco Business Times blog reported that “in the latest move indicating the intense interest in using drones for industrial purposes,” the FAA has approved the use of “Berkeley-based 3D Robotics’ drones by railroad giant BNSF and a California company that visually documents large construction sites.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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16 March 2015
Real Estate Agents Eagerly Await FAA’s UAV Rules

UAV_Wiki.jpgThe The Tennessean reported on the excitement among real estate agents around the U.S. for the FAA “guidelines permitting the use of drones for commercial purposes, such as marketing real estate.” The story noted that some of the proposals that the FAA is considering. The Orlando (FL) Sentinel reported that “some real-estate agents are already hiring companies to shoot footage of some of their listings with unmanned aerial vehicles.” The article explained how “real-estate drone photography is among specific uses that require special permission from the FAA.”  (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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16 March 2015
ARM Decision Could Come March 24

ARM_Mission_ArtistsConcept_NASA.jpgThe Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press reported that after months of waiting, Dan Mazanek of the Langley Research Center said that NASA officials could possibly announce on March 24 which of two Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) architectures NASA will move forward on. Mazanek heads one of the projects now under consideration. The article noted that there are critics of ARM, such as astronomer Phil Plait, who believes it is a “colossal” waste of resources. He also thinks the Space Launch System is similarly a “colossal waste of money” because SpaceX can do the same thing for much less. Mazanek disagrees, saying, “I think we’ll look back someday on the ARM mission and just be amazed at all of the different areas that spun off from it. It’s not just about the short-term goal, but also the long-term goals that that mission will provide.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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16 March 2015
SpaceX Expects Air Force Certification by June

SpaceXFalcon9_Launchpad_NASA.jpgReuters reported that on Friday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told the publication that she expects the Air Force to certify the company to compete for security launches by June, adding that relations between the two sides are at a new high following the settlement of a lawsuit in January. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 March 2015
MMS Launched Successfully

MMSLaunches_12March15_NASA.jpgThe AP reports on Thursday’s successful launch of the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft. Launch Manager Omar Baez said the launch was “picture-perfect.” Craig Tooley, NASA project manager, added that the four spacecraft that make up the mission are “all healthy and turned on. Essentially, we’re all green and headed into our mission.” The article notes that the spacecraft will now undergo “a five-month checkout” before the “primary science-gathering” starts. (Image Credit: NASA TV)
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12 March 2015
SLS Booster Tested In “Spectacular” Display

NASATestFiringShuttleSolidRocketBooster_NASATV.jpgThe CBS Evening News broadcast that there was a “spectacular display” in Utah on Wednesday when NASA successfully test fired “a souped-up version of a space shuttle solid rocket booster,” for two minutes. The AP noted that with “the first pre-flight test for the Space Launch System,” NASA is “one step closer” to undertaking deep space missions. According to the article, Orbital ATK, which helped carry out the test in coordination with NASA, claimed it was “an important milestone” because it involved a five-segment motor for the first time. The article also noted that officials stated that the rocket motor produced “3.6 million pounds of thrust” as expected. (Image Credit: NASA TV)
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12 March 2015
Atlas V Rocket On Pad for MMS Launch

ULA_AtlasV_March2015_ULA.jpgFlorida Today reported that the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that will launch the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is now at the pad. The forecast for today’s launch continued to predict “a 70 percent chance of favorable weather during the 30-minute launch window.” Another Florida Today article focused on the scientific objectives of the four spacecraft, noting that it will observe magnetic reconnection “with instruments up to 100 times more [sensitive] than anything flown previously.” Jeff Newmark, interim director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, said, “This entire journey is a story of space weather, space physics and magnetic reconnection.” (Image Credit: Ryan Morrell @ThePlanNerd, via Twitter)
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12 March 2015
U.S. Falling Behind Canada In Commercial UAV Operations

Assortment_of_UAVs_Wiki.jpgPopular Science reported on why the U.S. has fallen behind Canada in commercial UAV operations. The article pointed out that the civil aviation authority Transport Canada, “with a quick, flexible process” for granting permits to commercial operators, and a “blanket exemption for small UAS,” issued 1,672 commercial UAV licenses in 2014. It noted that the FAA has issued a total of 28. Even though the FAA has proposed regulations, “the agency’s cumbersome rule-making process means that nothing will change for at least another 18-24 months.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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11 March 2015
Solar Impulse 2 Successfully Ends Its Second Leg In India

SolarImpulse2_departs_9March_APpurchased.jpgThe AP reported that last night, the Solar Impulse 2 landed in Ahmadabad, India, after traveling for 16 hours from Oman, completing the second leg of its journey around the world, as well as the longest distance ever flown by a solar airplane in aviation history. It will now remain in Ahmadabad for two days before taking off for northern India. (Image Credit: Associated Press - purchased. Description: "Solar Impulse 2", a solar-powered airplane flies after taking off from Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday, 9 March 2015, marking the start of the first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel.)
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11 March 2015
NASA “Back In Business” With SLS

SLS-NASA.jpgRichard Hollingham, in an article on the BBC News “Future” website, wrote that NASA is “back in business” with the development of the Space Launch System (SLS). The story included input from SLS Systems Engineer Dawn Stanley, who highlighted how “versatile” the rocket will be. Stanley said, “If they want us to go to an asteroid to do a retrieval mission, this rocket can get you there or if you want to go to Mars, this rocket can get there. ... The SLS can meet those many missions that our government has.” Meanwhile, Hollingham described a tour of the Michoud Assembly Facility, where he was impressed by the “remarkable” friction stir welding process he saw, as well as the “most impressive” final assembly hall. Hollingham commented that because of current funding, it is “almost certain that, unlike previous rocket programmes, the SLS will fly.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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11 March 2015
Air Force May Finish Certifying SpaceX by June

SpaceXFalcon9_Launchpad_NASA.jpgReuters reported that Air Force Lieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski said that the Air Force wants to complete certifying SpaceX for military launches by June. Pawlikowski regrets that the process is still ongoing, but is pleased that certification is almost done. (Image Credit: NASA)
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10 March 2015
Exelis To Unveil UAV Surveillance Systems This Month

Drone-Wiki.jpgReuters reports that this month, Exelis will unveil its Symphony UAS-Vue and RangeVue low-altitude surveillance systems for UAVs. The article notes that NASA has been working with Exelis and others like Amazon to develop a UAV air traffic management system, something necessary if UAVs are ever to be used beyond the line of sight, which is currently prohibited under proposed FAA regulations. Furthermore, according to the article, aviation safety experts and the public both fear the use of UAVs without more ways to regulate and track them. Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association International, said, “I need to be able to see them on my display just like I see a 747.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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10 March 2015
Experts Want NASA To Consider Post-ISS Future

ISS-NASA.jpgSpace News reported that space industry experts want NASA to start considering what the agency will do regarding space stations once the ISS is no longer in operation in order not to lose what has been learned over the years. Based on comments last month by William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, and Sam Scimemi, ISS director at NASA Headquarters, the article noted that NASA agrees that the process should start now, but the future will likely not involve “a station built and operated by the space agency.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 March 2015
Dawn Becomes First Spacecraft to Visit a Dwarf Planet

DawnSpacecraft_NASA.jpgThe AP reported that the Dawn spacecraft “flawlessly” entered Ceres’ orbit on Friday, making it the first spacecraft ever to visit a dwarf planet. Dawn Chief Engineer Marc Rayman said: “It went exactly the way we expected. Dawn gently, elegantly slid into Ceres’ gravitational embrace. ... The real drama is exploring this alien, exotic world.”  USA Today reported that NASA officials said that they were “exhilarated” by Dawn’s arrival. The New York Times highlighted the capabilities of Dawn’s ion engine. Rayman said, “Ion propulsion, with its continuous thrust, produces trajectories that don’t fit with intuition. ... But any point along that trajectory after orbit capture, if we did stop thrusting, it probably would look to you more the way you think of an orbit.”  According to the Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog, Dawn made “history twice over”: once for arriving at a dwarf planet, and a second time for being “the first spacecraft to orbit two different alien bodies during its mission.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 March 2015
Solar Impulse-2 Begins Its Flight Around the World

SolarImpulse2_departs_9March_APpurchased.jpgBBC News reports that Solar Impulse-2 has started its effort to become the first solar-powered plane to fly around the world. This will be a “more dramatic and daunting” trip than the one it took across the U.S. two years ago. According to the article, despite all the preparations, success is not guaranteed because of the weather. However, simulations have shown that the trip is possible, “given the right weather conditions.” (Image Credit: Associated Press - purchased. Description: "Solar Impulse 2", a solar-powered airplane flies after taking off from Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday, 9 March 2015, marking the start of the first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel.)
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6 March 2015
Plane Skids Off LaGuardia Runway During Snowstorm

DeltaJet_LaGuardia_5Mar15_APpurchased.jpgABC World News broadcast that a Delta Airlines jet skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport during a snowstorm Thursday, stopping feet away from the waters of Flushing Bay. Some passengers suffered minor injuries, but there were no fatalities. The NTSB was on the scene to begin its investigation shortly after the accident occurred. The New York Times reported that the FAA said that the “flight was Delta Air Lines 1086, an MD-88 aircraft that slid off” the runway “after landing around 11:10 a.m.” The flight was arriving from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Patrick J. Foye, the head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, said that the runway had been plowed shortly before the Delta jet landed. Meanwhile, the AP noted that LaGuardia Airport is “known for its disconcertingly close proximity to” Flushing Bay, and “is one of the most congested airports” in the nation. The article added that the airport is also “one of the most difficult at which to land.” (Image Credit: Associated Press - purchased)
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6 March 2015
Dawn Spacecraft Arrives at Ceres Today

Ceres_from_Dawn_1Mar15_NASA.jpgThe AP, in continuing coverage, listed “five things to know about Ceres” ahead of today’s arrival of the Dawn spacecraft. Once the spacecraft is in orbit, Ceres will no longer be “the largest unexplored space rock in the inner solar system.” USA Today reports that it took “inventive engineering” to get Dawn to Ceres, as well as its “high-tech propulsion system.” According to the ABC News website, Dawn’s arrival is another achievement in “a banner year for ‘firsts’ in space.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)
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5 March 2015
NASA Performing Tests to See What Caused Curiosity Short Circuit

Curiosity-on-Mars_NASA.jpgThe Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog continued coverage of the short circuit that has sidelined the Curiosity rover for the time being. In a statement, Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson said, “We are running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration before we move the arm or drive. ... This gives us the best opportunity to determine where the short is.” The article noted that it is “possible” that there is no major issue with the rover, or that the problem could cause operators “to restrict the use of certain instruments.” The CBS News website, and SPACE, also covered the story.(Image Credit: NASA)
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5 March 2015
FAA Approves Airworthiness For U.S.-Made Airbus AS350 AStar

AirbusAS350_Wiki.jpgThe AP reported that the FAA granted airworthiness certification to the first Airbus AS350 AStar helicopter to be entirely assembled in the U.S. Airbus said that its Columbus, Mississippi, plant was “set up to produce 30 AStars in 2015 and 60 or more in 2016 and beyond,” according the article. (Image: A Canadian AS350 BA AStar. Credit: Wikipedia)
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4 March 2015
ULA Plans On Eliminating Delta 4 Heavy as Early as 2018

ULA_DeltaIV_wikipedia.jpgSpace News reported that in order “to sharpen its competitiveness in the face of a challenge by SpaceX,” United Launch Alliance (ULA) could stop producing the Delta 4 Heavy rocket “as early as 2018,” although it will continue to do so as long as the Air Force wants it, according to ULA CEO Tory Bruno. Bruno said that the plan is to eliminate “the redundant, more expensive Delta single-stick-line and fly only Atlas” until the Next Generation Launch System (NGLS) is developed. Ultimately, the NGLS will replace the Atlas line as well. Meanwhile, the article noted that Bruno is also working on obtaining “some legislative relief” from the current ban on rockets using Russian-made engines for security missions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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4 March 2015
Airbus Helicopters Unveils H160 Rotorcraft

Airbus_H160_AirbusVideo.jpgFlightglobal reported that after “months of speculation,” Airbus Helicopters unveiled the H160 medium-class twin-engine rotorcraft at the Heli-Expo. According to the article, in order to successfully compete with the AgustaWestland AW139, Airbus “significantly altered” the H160 from its initial concept studies so that it can match “the performance of the AW139, while weighing” one ton less and “being more ‘energy efficient’.” Because of its capabilities, CEO Guillaume Faury called the new model “the AW139 killer.” According to Aviation Week, the H160 is “more evolutionary than revolutionary” in its capabilities. Detailing the H160’s specifications, the article noted that Airbus has 68 patents on the technology employed only by the H160. (Image Credit: Airbus Helicopters video)
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4 March 2015
FAA Seeks to Speed Up Commercial UAV Approval Process

Assortment_of_UAVs_WikiReuters reported that the FAA is looking at ways to speed up the approval of commercial UAVs, but said they have been stymied by the agency’s lack of authority to review multiple exemption applications on a group basis. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told the U.S. House Aviation subcommittee, “Anything that we can do that would enable us to look at classes of operators that have substantially identical facts or very similar characteristics could be quite helpful.” The article noted that out of the roughly 450 exemption applications the FAA has received, only 28 have been approved. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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3 March 2015
Dawn About to Arrive at One of Solar System’s “Fossils”

DawnSpacecraft_NASA.jpgThe AP reported on NASA’s Dawn mission, which arrives at Ceres on Friday. On Monday, Project Manager Robert Mase of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “It’s been a roller coaster ride. It’s been extremely thrilling.” Deputy Project Scientist Carol Raymond said that the team members are “really, really excited about” unusual bright spots on Ceres’ surface because they are “unique in the solar system. ... We will be revealing its true nature as we get closer and closer to the surface. So the mystery will be solved, but it is one that’s really got us on the edge of our seats.” Raymond added that Ceres and Vesta, which Dawn visited in 2011, are “literally fossils” dating back to the formation of the solar system. The Los Angeles Times “Science Now” website noted that there initially will not be “a deluge of fresh photos” from the spacecraft after it arrives because the spacecraft is “approaching...from the dark side of the dwarf planet.” Mase said, “The floodgates are really going to open when we get to our first science orbit, in late April.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 March 2015
Robotic Arm Helps Flight Simulator Become More Realistic

RoboticArmFlightSimulator_DLR.jpgPopular Science posted a video of a German flight simulator “that uses a robotic arm to make virtual flying seem real.” According to the article, the developers want organizations “around the world” to use the simulator. (Image Credit: Grenzebach – YouTube video)

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Video courtesy of Flying Magazine



2 March 2015
Astronauts, NASA Pay Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

LeonardNimoy_Spock_Wiki.jpg NBC Nightly News broadcast that ISS astronauts paid tribute to “Star Trek” actor Leonard Nimoy after his recent passing. Astronaut Terry Virts tweeted an image of the Vulcan “salute” over Nimoy’s home state of Massachusetts. The AP briefly reported that Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, now at the ISS, tweeted her condolences. The Lincoln (NE) Journal Star reported that astronaut Clayton Anderson also paid tribute to Nimoy, saying that he was inspired by “Star Trek.” Even though he never met Nimoy, Anderson reportedly said that it was “clear” Nimoy supported NASA. The Hill “Blog Briefing Room,” in an article that included a statement from NASA, noted that President Obama also honored Nimoy, saying that Nimoy “served as an inspiration to generations of scientists, engineers and sci-fi fans around the world.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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2 March 2015
Astronauts Complete Third Successful Spacewalk to Prepare for Future Spacecraft

NASASpacewalk_1March2015.jpgThe AP reported that ISS astronauts Terry Virts and Butch Wilmore successfully completed their third spacewalk to prepare the ISS for the arrival of future commercial spacecraft. The three spacewalks were “the quickest succession of spacewalks since NASA’s former shuttle days.” After the spacewalk, Virts reported that water reappeared in his helmet, but it was “not a big deal.” Virts told Mission Control, “I couldn’t feel it on my skin. I could just see the thin film on the visor.” Meanwhile, the article noted that “Wilmore’s much newer suit” had no issues whatsoever. (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 March 2015
Bombardier CSeries 300 Makes Its First Flight

Bombardier_CSeries_Wikipedia.jpgUSA Todayreported that Bombardier’s CSeries 300 made its first flight on Friday after being delayed a day because of “frigid winter weather.” According to the article, the flight was “a welcome light at the end of the tunnel” for a program that has suffered delays and rising costs. However, the article noted that even with the first CSeries model expected to be delivered later this year, it is still “unknown” whether more issues could follow. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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27 February 2015
Earth Sciences Division Has Active Year With Five Satellite Launches

NASA_MinotaurLaunch_NASA.jpgThe Pasadena Star-News reported that today ends NASA’s Earth Sciences Division’s “most active year...in more than a decade.” Over the past 12 months, NASA launched five spacecraft, starting with the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) orbiter. Peg Luce, deputy director of the Earth Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said, “What the view from space has given us is an ability to see the entire globe in multiple dimensions and multiple ways. ... It’s completely transformed our understanding of the Earth, yet we have a high regard for the accuracy of our data, so there’s always an extensive calibration program and that can often include ground-based, ship-based or airborne campaigns or sensors.” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement, “This has been a phenomenally productive year for NASA in our mission to explore our complex planet from the unique vantage point of space.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 February 2015
Solar Impulse 2 Flies Over Abu Dhabi In Test Flight

SolarImpulse2FirstFlight_CreditSolarImpulse.jpgThe Daily Mail (UK) reported that the Solar Impulse 2 plane completed a 12-hour test flight over Abu Dhabi to prepare for next month’s “ambitious plan to fly around the world using just solar energy.” Flightglobal noted that this was a “mostly low-altitude flight over the capital of the UAE.” (Image: Solar Impulse 2 first flight. Credit: Solar Impulse)
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26 February 2015
Researchers Reveal First 3D-Printed Jet Engine

First3DPrintedJetEngine_AFP-LydiaHale.jpgReuters reports that today, Monash University researchers revealed the first 3D-printed jet engine, which is now being commercialized by Amaero Engineering. Simon Marriott, chief executive of Amaero, said that the engine could be flight-tested within a year, with certification to follow two to three years from now. According to the article, if successful, the product could significantly boost Australia’s manufacturing sector. (Image: A handout photo taken and released on February 26, 2015 shows a 3D printed jet engine on display at the Avalon Airshow in Melbourne. AFP Photo/Lydia Hale)
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26 February 2015
Water Found In Astronaut’s Helmet After Successful Spacewalk

VirtsSpacewalk_Feb2015_NASA.jpgABC World News broadcast that at the end of a spacewalk, a U.S. astronaut found water in his helmet. Even though NASA stated that there was “no immediate danger,” the broadcast claimed that the incident raised “important safety questions.” The AP noted that the water found in Terry Virts’ helmet at the end of the spacewalk was “scarily reminiscent of a near-drowning” during a spacewalk in 2013. Unlike the previous incident, the water was discovered after Virts returned to the ISS. Meanwhile, Virts and Butch Wilmore had “no trouble” during the spacewalk itself, “breezing” through tasks to prepare the ISS for future commercial spacecraft. The third and last spacewalk in the series to prepare the station had been planned for Sunday, but the article noted that its status was “uncertain” until officials “meet Friday, as planned, to discuss the situation.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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25 February 2015
Cruz Says Human Space Exploration A National Priority

MarsMission_NASA.jpgUSA Today reported that Sen. Ted Cruz “isn’t a proponent of big government programs,” but he said on Tuesday that NASA’s manned spaceflight program is “a national priority that deserves congressional support.” During a Senate hearing, Cruz said that developing a Mars program is “critical,” while he “also stressed the need to speed completion of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.”  The Wall Street Journal noted that Cruz said that the Commercial Crew program is a “critical” venture for the U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said that he “completely” agrees with Cruz about what many of NASA’s priorities should be. However, astronaut Walter Cunningham testified that these statements are just words unless they are backed by more funding for NASA, which currently is given too little money for its programs. (Image Credit: NASA)
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25 February 2015
Russia Will Remain In ISS Partnership Through 2024

ISS-NASA.jpgThe AP reported that Roscosmos stated Tuesday that it plans to utilize the ISS through 2024. After that, Russia would use “its segment of the station” to develop its own space station. The article noted that Roscosmos also stated that it plans to conduct a manned lunar mission “around 2030,” but did not release any other details about that mission. (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 February 2015
Lobbyists Plan Push-Back Against UAV Regulations

UAV_Wiki.jpgReuters reported that lobbyists representing aerospace firms, news media, and even Google and Amazon are preparing to push back against the FAA’s proposed UAV regulations. They are expected to argue that the sense and avoid technology that the groups are working on would make some of the new rules obsolete. According to the article, it may be hard to sway the FAA. Phil Finnegan, Director of Corporate Analysis at research firm the Teal Group, said that the agency is acting conservatively because it wants to avoid an accidental collision with an airliner. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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24 February 2015
X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team Wins AIAA Foundation Award For Excellence

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFAIAA announced that the AIAA Foundation has awarded the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team the 2015 AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence, which is given to those “deserving organizations or individuals for extraordinary accomplishments in the promotion of aerospace.” Mike Griffin, chair of the AIAA Foundation, said, “There can be no more deserving winner for this year’s Foundation Award for Excellence than the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team. ... Through three missions the vehicle has advanced our national security interests, enhanced our ability to operate in space, and served as a reliable test bed for technologies that could transform the future of spaceflight. Future programs will owe much to the X-37B team, and that is why the Foundation selected it for this year’s award.” (Image Credit: USAF)
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23 February 2015
Astronauts Finish First of Three Spacewalks to Rewire ISS

Feb2015Spacewalk_NASA.jpgNASA Space Flight reported that SpaceX is making progress on its Falcon Heavy rocket, with “visible progress” modifying the Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A and the fabrication of hardware. So far, there was no set date for a first launch, but there is an “aim...for a summer debut.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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20 February 2015
NASA Pushes Spacewalk Back to Saturday

ISS-NASA.jpgThe AP reported that NASA pushed back a spacewalk until Saturday “to complete a spacesuit investigation.” This will be the first of three planned spacewalks to prep the ISS for the arrival of commercial crew spacecraft in 2017. The article noted that while two spacesuits were returned to Earth after “two critical fan and pump units for the astronauts’ spacesuits failed,” the spacesuits Butch Wilmore and Terry Virts are scheduled to wear are “fine.” According to the CBS News website, managers wanted to give those taking part in the spacewalk “a chance to catch their collective breath after exhaustive troubleshooting” found that the astronauts’ suits were “healthy and not likely to suffer failures due to corrosion.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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20 February 2015
Somerville Utilizing UAVs to Scan Buildings for Snow Buildup

MicroDrone.jpgThe Boston Globe reported that Somerville, Massachusetts has tasked Above Summit with using UAVs “to survey municipal buildings for excessive snow buildup.” Daniel Hadley, chief of staff to Mayor Joseph Curtatone, said, “They hover the drones right above the city building roofs, and then send us video that they capture as it comes in, almost on a real-time basis.” Jovan Tanasijevic, co-founder of Above Summit, noted that using UAVs in this manner does adhere to FAA regulations. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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19 February 2015
SpaceX Making Progress On Falcon Heavy Rocket

Falcon9ReusableRocketTest_SpaceX.jpgNASA Space Flight reported that SpaceX is making progress on its Falcon Heavy rocket, with “visible progress” modifying the Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A and the fabrication of hardware. So far, there was no set date for a first launch, but there is an “aim...for a summer debut.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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19 February 2015
Farmers Not Satisfied with FAA’s New UAV Rules

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgReuters reported that U.S. farmers were not fully satisfied by the FAA’s recently released rules for using commercial UAVs. Farmers are critical of the height and visibility restrictions which make UAV-use less effective for those trying to monitor livestock or fields over large areas. Others investing in UAVs warn that the two years before the rules are implemented could result in the rise of competing technologies like micro-satellites. (Image Credit: Associated Press, purchased)
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18 February 2015
State Department: U.S. Will Sell Armed UAVs to Allies

MQ-9Reaper.jpgBloomberg News reported that the State Department announced “in an e-mailed statement yesterday that the U.S. has for the first time established a policy allowing the sale of armed drones to allies.” The statement indicated that the policy “sets guidelines for all drone exports, which the department said it will assess on a ‘case-by-case basis,’ including armed systems.’” An unnamed “senior State Department official” quoted by the Washington Post said of the U.S. move, “The technology is here to stay. ... It’s to our benefit to have certain allies and partners equipped appropriately.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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18 February 2015
Progress Spacecraft Launches and Docks at ISS On Tuesday

ProgressDockedAtISS_NASA.jpgThe CBS News website reported that yesterday, a Progress cargo spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan and then docked at the ISS six hours later. There were “no problems” with the automatic docking procedures. Rob Navias, NASA’s mission control commentator, added, “A perfect rendezvous, a perfect docking.” According to the article, the docking starts “a busy two weeks” at the station, including a spacewalk on Friday by astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts. (Image Credit: NASA)
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18 February 2015
SpaceX Must Demonstrate It Can Safely Land Rockets Before Using New Pad

Falcon9ReusableRocketTest_SpaceX.jpgThe Orlando (FL) Sentinel reported on how SpaceX is leasing the Launch Complex 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station so that it can land its rockets on land rather than on a barge at sea. However, the article noted that before that can happen, Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, said that SpaceX has to demonstrate that it can safely land its rockets on a “consistent basis,” potentially through “numerous” tests. Still, DiBello said that the company’s progress is already “impressive.” (Image Credit: YouTube/SpaceX)
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17 February 2015
FAA Proposes Rules for Commercial UAV Use

UAV_Wiki.jpgOn Sunday, the FAA unveiled proposed rules that would permit the commercial operation of unmanned aircraft. Anchor Lester Holt said on NBC Nightly News that although unmanned commercial UAVs are currently banned, with the FAA proposal, “they’re one step closer to getting permission to fly now.” Correspondent Tom Costello reported that, under the rules, drones “would only be permitted to fly during daylight hours, under 500 feet at 100 miles per hour or less and five miles away from airports.” In addition, pilots “would have to maintain constant visual contact with their drones and be required to hold a new FAA flight certificate.” Bloomberg News called the announcements from the FAA and the White House “the most significant attempt so far to set a framework for controlling a new technology that has at times evolved faster than the government was able to react.”  The Washington Post noted that in a conference call on Sunday, Foxx told reporters, “We’re putting forward what we believe to be the safest possible approach at the moment, but of course we look forward to hearing back from the public.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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17 February 2015
Last ATV Leaves ISS

EuropesATV_Wiki.jpgAFP reported that on Saturday, Europe’s last Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) undocked from the ISS “ahead of an operation on Sunday” to destructively reenter the atmosphere. The article noted that because of a “minor” power issue, a plan to use the “suicide plunge” to plan for the ISS’ eventual deorbiting was scrapped. Furthermore, the operation was pushed forward to Sunday “as a precaution.” The CBS News website noted that the cargo spacecraft “burned up safely” over the Pacific. ISS astronaut Terry Virts was able to capture the spacecraft leaving the ISS in a time-lapse video. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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17 February 2015
Mars One Names Final 100 Candidates for First One-Way Trip

MarsMission_JPLNASA.jpgThe Washington Post “Style Blog” reported that Mars One released the 100 people, 50 men and 50 women, who have made it to the next round of its selection process for one-way trips to Mars starting in 2024. The article noted that of those 100, 38 hail from the U.S. According to Mars One, the remaining candidates will undergo training to form the teams that can survive “all the hardships of a permanent settlement on Mars.” (Image Credit: JPL/NASA)
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13 February 2015
Requirements For T-X Trainer Could Be Released In Coming Weeks

USAF_TXTrainers_Wiki.jpgDefense News reported that the Air Force will release its requirements for the next-generation T-X trainer in the next couple of weeks, according to Gen. Robin Rand, head of the Air Education and Training Command. Rand stressed that the exact timing will be contingent upon the Air Force secretary allowing the details to be released. The article noted that at this week’s Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, Rand did give some “hints” as to what those requirements will be, such as the idea that the T-X would only be “a replacement for the T-38” trainer. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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13 February 2015
Virgin Galactic to Build LauncherOne In Long Beach

LauncherOne_Virgin_Wiki.jpgThe Los Angeles Times reported that Virgin Galactic has decided to open a Long Beach, California facility to develop the LauncherOne vehicle, designed to launch satellites into space. Local officials “welcomed” the news because of the potential 100 jobs the region will gain. Mayor Robert Garcia said, “They are bringing excellent jobs we need for the talented and hard-working aerospace professionals who already call Long Beach home.” The company will host a job fair for positions at the facility in March. The Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram reported that Marco Caceres, senior space analyst for Teal Group, said that there was increasing interest in small satellite launchers, “especially for colleges who will now be able to share in the cost of a single launch of 10 to 20 satellites.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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12 February 2015
After Multiple Delays, DSCOVR Launches Into Space

DSCOVR_launches_Feb2015_NOAA.jpgNBC Nightly News broadcast that on Wednesday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) into space “to keep watch for solar storms.” The broadcast noted that this was the company’s third launch attempt after delaying two other tries “in part due to weather.” While the weather was good enough to launch, SpaceX decided not to attempt to return the rocket’s first stage booster to its ocean platform because of “rough seas.” The New York Times noted that even though SpaceX did not attempt to land on the platform, it did obtain “useful data for refining future landing attempts” by proceeding with a landing “over the water instead of onto the platform.” The Los Angeles Times reported that SpaceX has another launch planned for later this month. (Image Credit: NOAA)
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12 February 2015
IXV Conducts Successful Test of Reentry Technology

ESA_IXV.jpgThe AP reported that the ESA’s Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV), a “prototype mini-shuttle,” conducted a successful test flight on Wednesday. The IXV achieved an altitude “high enough to reach the International Space Station” before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain said that the flight “couldn’t have been better.” The article noted that the ESA may develop a future reusable spacecraft called PRIDE, but that program has not been approved for development. Reuters noted that if successful, PRIDE will be similar to the U.S.’ X-37B spaceplane, albeit less costly and smaller in size. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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11 February 2015
DSCOVR Launch Delayed Again Due to High Winds

DSCOVR_SpaceX.jpgThe AP reported that on Tuesday, “dangerously high winds” forced the delay of SpaceX’s launch of the DSCOVR satellite and its “radically new” booster landing test. SpaceX must now launch Wednesday or wait until Feb. 20 to make another attempt because of the effects of the moon’s gravity. Meanwhile, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully returned to Earth after departing the ISS. Florida Today noted that when discussing the latest scrub, NASA TV commentator Mike Curie said, “Safety prevails.” According to the CBS News website, SpaceX still had a “busy day” even with the launch scrub. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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11 February 2015
Ohio Engineering Firms Want to Use UAS to Monitor Oil and Gas Infrastructure

DSCOVR_SpaceX.jpgThe Columbus (OH) Business First reported in its “EnergyInc” blog that “drones could soon be buzzing over oil and gas infrastructure in eastern Ohio as engineering firms eye the devices as a cost-saving way to better survey massive developments.” Central Ohio firms “are already using or want to use the technology to help clients, but Federal regulations are up in the air.” The FAA “generally forbids drones for commercial use” and has several restrictions in place, and is also expected to release new rules on UAS this year. Jeff Miller, corporate survey practice lead for Civil & Environmental Consultants, said “the big holdback” is the FAA, as they “don’t want to do anything illegal.” (Image Credit: YouTube/BP)
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10 February 2015
DSCOVR Scheduled to Launch On Same Day Dragon Returns to Earth

DSCOVR_SpaceX.jpgThe AP reported that the launch of the DSCOVR satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was delayed again, with the next scheduled launch opportunity on Tuesday. The latest postponement was due to poor weather conditions. The article briefly noted that, also on Tuesday, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will undock from the ISS to return “science samples, broken spacesuit parts and other unneeded gear” to Earth. The Dragon is scheduled to land in the Pacific Ocean “off the Southern California coast.” The Orlando (FL) Sentinel noted that there is a 70 percent chance that the weather conditions will be good enough for the launch on Tuesday. According to Reuters, SpaceX’s simultaneous rocket launch and spacecraft recovery has never been attempted before. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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10 February 2015
ESA Ready to Launch IXV On Wednesday

ESA_IXV.jpgSPACE reported that the ESA is on track to launch its Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) on Wednesday. The IXV’s suborbital flight will test technology “needed for vehicles to survive the return to Earth from space.” Giorgio Tumino, ESA’s project manager for IXV, noted that “several missions worldwide” have failed when conducting similar test flights. Meanwhile, the article noted that the ESA is also studying re-entry technology with its Automated Transfer Vehicle-5, now stationed at the ISS. When that spacecraft leaves the ISS on February 27 and breaks apart in the Earth’s atmosphere, it will have “internal sensors to track the vehicle’s behavior.” AFP noted that Tumino said that the IXV is “fundamental” for Europe if it ever wants to return its own astronauts from space aboard European spacecraft. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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9 February 2015
DSCOVR Launch Scrubbed Due to Radar-Tracking System

Falcon9_CapeCanaveral.jpgThe AP reported that the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was scrubbed because of an issue with “a critical radar-tracking system.” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that another attempt could be made Monday. The Orlando (FL) Sentinel noted that SpaceX also cited an issue with its rocket, but that problem involved “a non-critical video camera on the rocket that will be easily replaced.” According to Florida Today, although Sunday’s weather was “perfect,” there is only a “40 percent chance of acceptable weather” on Monday. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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9 February 2015
Dassault Falcon 8X Begins Flight Test Campaign

Falcon8x_YouTube_Dassault.jpgFlightglobal reported that Dassault Aviation began flight testing its Falcon 8X ultra-long-range business jet on Friday. Test pilot Eric Gérard said that the plane had “excellent handling qualities.” Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation chairman and chief executive, added that the plane is now heading toward a 2016 certification. (Image Credit: YouTube/Dassault)
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9 February 2015
NASA Intends to Purchase Six More Soyuz Seats for 2018 ISS Flights

Soyuz_TMA-13_Launches_NASA.jpg Space News reported that NASA is “hedging its bets” by issuing a sole source notice to purchase “six more round-trip [Soyuz] seats” for astronauts traveling to the ISS in 2018. NASA wrote, “NASA needs to secure crew transportation with a known reliable provider to ensure a continued U.S. presence aboard the ISS until the sustained availability of a U.S. commercial vehicle. .. The intent of this proposed action is to provide the Government the ability to procure these uninterrupted services until a U.S. provider demonstrates full operational capability.” According to the article, NASA has stated that congressional funding will decide whether commercial spacecraft can be ready in 2017 as NASA wants. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 February 2015
NASA Releases a Better Image of Ceres

Ceres_NASA.jpgThe Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog reported that NASA released a “better” image of Ceres than the one it released just last week. The Dawn spacecraft took the image on February 4. While an unknown white spot is “becoming more and more clear”; scientists still cannot identify what it is. Because the spacecraft is getting close to the dwarf planet, “obviously” these images will improve, making the upcoming weeks “exciting times.” According to BBC News, the spot is likely an impact crater, but “time will tell.” Popular Science noted that NASA was “not content” with just releasing still images, so it made “a movie, a spinning recreation of what most of Ceres’ surface looks like.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 February 2015
Weather Forecast “Excellent” for Sunday’s DSCOVR Launch

Falcon9_CapeCanaveral.jpgFlorida Today reported that the weather forecast for the launch of the DSCOVR satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is “excellent.” Currently, there’s a 90% chance the weather will be good enough for the launch to take place, which is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. EST. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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5 February 2015
NASA Releases New Images of Pluto

Pluto_NASA.jpgThe Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog reported that to honor the birthday of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto, NASA released images of the dwarf planet that the New Horizons spacecraft captured on January 25. The new images showed a “fuzzy” Pluto. In a Reddit Ask Me Anything on Wednesday, New Horizons team members said that Pluto will not “start looking like a planet – as opposed to a bright, star-like blur --” until “a few weeks” before the spacecraft’s July flyby. The Baltimore Sun described the new image as “man’s clearest-ever view of the distant dwarf planet.” The image, according to the article, will be used by the spacecraft’s operators to determine if a “slight” course correction is needed. The article noted that Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, stated that scientists will also try to learn more about Pluto’s speed of rotation. (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 February 2015
2014 Was “Safest Year Ever” for Flying

Boeing757_CreditBoeing.jpgBBC News reported that “when you look at the number of crashes and fatalities compared to the huge number of people flying today,” we are “in a golden era of aircraft safety.” According to “safety analysts Ascend, 2014 was narrowly the safest year ever, with one fatal accident per 2.38 million flights, compared to every 1.91 million flights the year before.” According to the article, “every new generation of aircraft has been safer than the one before.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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4 February 2015
TransAsia Airways ATR 72 Crashes Soon After Takeoff

TransAsia_Taiwan_Crash_APpurchased.jpgThe AP reports that a TransAsia Airways ATR 72 propjet aircraft with 58 passengers crashed soon after takeoff in Taiwan after it “turned on its side in midair, clipped an elevated roadway and careened into a river.” Officials are reporting that at least 15 people are dead and that 30 people are still missing. The article notes that this is the second time one of the airline’s ATR 72s has crashed this past year. USA Today, BBC News, and other media sources also cover the story. (Image Credit: Associated Press)
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4 February 2015
FAA Grants Eight More Exemptions for Commercial UAVs

UAV_Wiki.jpgThe Hill reported that the FAA has granted eight more businesses exemptions from rules prohibiting the commercial use of UAVs. The article noted that the agency has now “granted a total of 24 exemptions for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems.” The Hollywood Reporter reported that Helinet Aviation Services and Alan D. Purwin were among those that were granted exemptions “for film and television production.” Additionally, it noted that the FAA “amended the exemptions previously granted to Pictorvision and Aerial MOB” to allow the companies to “fly additional types of small UAS.” According to the Reporter, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx “found that the drones in the proposed operations” do not require “an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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3 February 2015
Administration Would Give NASA $18.5 Billion In 2016 Budget

SLS-NASA-2013.jpgThe Washington Post “Federal Eye” reported that the Obama administration has requested that NASA receive $18.5 billion in 2016, keeping NASA “on its current trajectory” with projects like the Orion capsule, Space Launch System, and the James Webb Space Telescope. Furthermore, the administration is requesting $1.2 billion, a “significant” amount, for the Commercial Crew program. The Houston Chronicle reported that in a speech at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that the budget proposal was “a clear vote of confidence” in the agency adding, “Some have said that NASA is adrift. ... If you travel the world, as I regularly do, and see the enthusiasm I see for NASA everywhere I go, or interact with, as I do regularly, the tens of thousands of students around the world from elementary through graduate school who are excited about the dream of one day traveling into space and visiting Mars, I think you’ll come to a different conclusion.” Meanwhile, David Radzanowski, NASA’s chief financial officer, said that if Congress does not fully fund the Commercial Crew program, “we would no longer be able to commit to having certified vehicles by the end of 2017.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 February 2015
SpaceX to Make Another Booster Landing Attempt During DSCOVR Launch

Falcon9_CapeCanaveral.jpgFlorida Today reported that NASA confirmed last week that SpaceX plans to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission on Sunday. SpaceX also plans to use the opportunity to make another attempt to land the Falcon 9 rocket’s booster on an ocean platform after the satellite is launched. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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2 February 2015
SMAP Satellite Successfully Launched

SMAPSat_ReadiesForLaunch_NASAJPL.jpgThe AP reported on the successful launch of the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite aboard a Delta 2 rocket on Saturday. NASA Launch Manager Tim Dunn reportedly stated that there were “zero launch problems.” Geoffery Yoder, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for Programs, said that the data that SMAP will return when commissioned “will benefit not only scientists seeking a better understanding of our planet, climate and environment ... it’s a boon for emergency planners and policy makers.” The Los Angeles Times noted that it will be a year before the satellite can “gather, calibrate, verify and analyze the information in a way that is suitable for scientific research.” (Image Credit: JPL/NASA)
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30 January 2015
First Citation Latitude Rolls Off Production Line

CessnaLatitude_Cessna.jpgFlightglobal reported that Cessna has rolled the first Citation Latitude off its production line. According to the article, Scott Donnelly, chief executive of Cessna’s parent company, Textron Aviation, said during an earnings call that the FAA could certify the plane in the second quarter of this year. Donnelly said that he sees a “kind of a stabilisation” in the light and mid-size jet market, which the article noted went against “Bombardier’s pessimistic outlook” when it stopped work on the potential rival plane, the Learjet 85. (Image Credit: Cessna)
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29 January 2015
Boeing to Build Next Version of Air Force One

AirForceOne_Wiki.jpgNBC Nightly News reported that, “The Pentagon announced [Wednesday] the contract” to build the next version of Air Force One, which “as expected will stay in this country. It [will go to] Boeing for the latest generation 747, the 800 series.” Defense News reported that Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the Boeing plane “is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States” that also “meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest.” The Washington Post reported that James said in a statement that the Pentagon “will insist upon program affordability through cost-conscious procurement practices.” Politico reported that “delivery of any new jets is not expected for at least five years.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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29 January 2015
FAA Prohibits UAVs and Aircraft Near Super Bowl

SuperBowlSite2015_2_AP.jpgUSA Today reported that the FAA “released a video Wednesday urging fans to enjoy” the Super Bowl “but to leave their unmanned aircraft at home.” The FAA has restricted “nearby flights from 3:25 p.m. until midnight,” extending “10 miles from the stadium in all directions, up to 18,000 feet in the air.” Anyone caught flying a UAV could be “intercepted, detained and interviewed,” as well as fined or put in jail. (Image Credit: Associated Press)
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28 January 2015
UAV that Landed On White House Grounds Illustrates “Broader Problem”

WhiteHouse_Wiki.jpgMcClatchy reported that President Obama said “the drone that dropped into the White House grounds on Monday” highlighted the “broader problem” posed by the need to balance security and privacy with recreational activities. In an interview conducted with CNN before he left for India, Obama said he has “asked federal agencies to look into the issue.” Obama noted that UAVs serve “incredibly useful functions,” but “we don’t really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it.” Bloomberg News reported that the comments are some of “Obama’s first about regulating the drone industry.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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28 January 2015
Astronauts to Continue Launching On Soyuz Spacecraft to Prevent Potential Problems

SoyuzLaunch_Wiki.jpgThe CBS News website continued coverage of how NASA plans to continue sending astronauts to the ISS aboard Russian Soyuz rockets even after commercial spacecraft developed by SpaceX and Boeing are ready for service. This was considered “a hedge against problems, like crew illness,” which could result in a spacecraft’s crew returning to Earth. If the crews were not mixed, that would leave the ISS entirely in the hands of one nation. However, ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini said on Tuesday, “We would not be buying seats from each other,” but instead engage in “an operational understanding.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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28 January 2015
SpaceX Will Initially Return Astronauts Using Water Landings

SpaceXFalcon9_Launchpad_NASA.jpgSpaceflight Now reported that during Monday’s press conference at the Johnson Space Center, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said that for initial astronaut flights, SpaceX will “not execute helicopter-like propulsive touchdowns” when returning astronauts to Earth aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft, instead landing in the Pacific Ocean. The article noted that SpaceX had been touting the ability to descend onto land during previous events, like its “glitzy” unveiling of the spacecraft back in May. However, SpaceX plans to add the capability after testing it in a manner “similar to the way engineers wrung out the design of the Falcon 9 booster’s vertical landing capability.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 January 2015
UAV Crashes On White House Lawn

WhiteHouse_Wiki.jpgABC World News broadcast that a “small drone” crashed onto the White House grounds early Monday morning, “raising alarms.” ABC reported that about six hours after the crash, “a man called the Secret Service to tell them that he lost control of the device, which he says he was using recreationally.” The Secret Service said “it is developing counter measures, concerned that future drones might well be dangerous.” The New York Times reported that a government employee, who “does not work for the White House,” told the Secret Service that he was “flying the drone for recreational purposes at about 3 a.m. in the area around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when he lost control of it.” The “small drone” crashed into a tree on the South Lawn, forcing “a brief lockdown of the White House complex.” The Washington Post noted that the “latest security breach at the executive mansion came as President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were visiting India, but their two daughters remained behind in Washington.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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27 January 2015
Commercial Crew Providers On Course For 2017 Flights

Boeing_CST-100.jpgThe AP reported that yesterday at the Johnson Space Center, Boeing and SpaceX said that they are on pace to deliver NASA astronauts to the ISS in 2017 at a lower cost than what Russia charges today. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that after 2017, “I don’t ever want to have to write another check” to Russia. The article noted that Bolden also stressed that without commercial companies delivering supplies to the ISS, NASA would not be able to afford going deeper into space. Kathy Lueders, commercial crew program manager, said that NASA wants to have two “robust providers” in case there is an accident with one of them. According to the article, the event was “the first in-depth public description” of the program with NASA and the spacecraft providers, which had been “stalled” while a challenge by Sierra Nevada was being resolved. (Image Credit: Boeing)
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26 January 2015
SpaceX Settles Its Lawsuit With Air Force

SpaceXFalcon_SpaceX.jpgThe AP reported that SpaceX and the Air Force announced Friday that they have come to a settlement over SpaceX’s lawsuit alleging that the Air Force “improperly” gave United Launch Alliance a “lucrative” contract. SpaceX dropped its case after coming to an agreement through sessions mediated by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to court documents. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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26 January 2015
FAA Finalizing New UAV Rules

Assortment_of_UAVs_Wiki.jpgThe Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the federal government is finalizing new rules for using UAVs “for uses such as monitoring oil fields and pipelines, and real-estate photography.” The regulations have been eagerly awaited by “businesses, including the news media, the motion-picture industry, and farmers.” FAA spokesman Les Dorr said, “We are trying to write regulations that will maintain today’s extremely high level of safety in the nation’s airspace, while at the same time not putting an undue regulatory burden on this emerging industry.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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23 January 2015
NTSB Calls for Improvements In Locating Downed Aircraft

Search_for_MA_Flight370_wiki.jpgAviation Week reported that Aurora Flight Sciences claims that its Orion UAV achieved “a world endurance record” when it flew for 80 hours in December. The article compared this feat with the current record holder, a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, which flew for 30.4 hours back in 2001. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) could certify the accomplishment “within weeks.” According to the article, the Orion UAV is being developed to provide the Air Force with a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) vehicle that can fly up to five days. (Image Credit: Aurora Flight Sciences)
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23 January 2015
Aurora Flight Sciences Claims Orion UAV Achieved Endurance Record

Aurora_OrionUAV.jpgAviation Week reported that Aurora Flight Sciences claims that its Orion UAV achieved “a world endurance record” when it flew for 80 hours in December. The article compared this feat with the current record holder, a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, which flew for 30.4 hours back in 2001. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) could certify the accomplishment “within weeks.” According to the article, the Orion UAV is being developed to provide the Air Force with a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) vehicle that can fly up to five days. (Image Credit: Aurora Flight Sciences)
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22 January 2015
UAV Crashes During Demonstration at Capitol Hill Hearing

UAVDemo_CapitolHill_21Jan2015_1_AP.jpgThe Washington Post reported that on Wednesday at a House Science, Space and Technology Committee meeting regarding the FAA’s UAV regulations, a Parrot Bebop UAV “stole the show” when it crashed during a demonstration. The article noted that the UAV was able to continue with the display. The Dallas (TX) Morning News reported on the testimony at the hearing, emphasizing claims that there would be substantial job creation if it is legal to use UAVs commercially. The National Journal also covered the story. (Image Credit: AP)
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22 January 2015
Next Orion Flight Will Include 11 Scientific Missions

ArtistConceptOfSLSOrion_NASA.jpgThe WAAY-TV Huntsville, AL “Space Alabama” website reported that when the Orion capsule next launches on the Space Launch System (SLS) in 2018, the rocket will be carrying “eleven different scientific missions.” Joseph Pelfry, a deputy project manager at the Marshall Space Flight Center, said, “What we’re really excited about is the fact that we’re able to take this [unmanned] test flight and actually get science out of it, and we’re expanding the capability. ... SLS is designed for a lot more payload capability, but we’re trying to take advantage of every bit of capability the vehicle has.” Pelfry added, “Flying these secondary payloads is something we’re going to do for missions to come and really provide the science community an opportunity that they haven’t had before. ... That’s what the SLS enables beyond the journey to Mars.” The article noted that because these missions are not the primary cargo, they will not “threaten” the main task of testing Orion and the SLS.
(Image Credit: NASA)
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21 January 2015
Google, Fidelity to Invest $1 Billion In SpaceX

SpaceXFalcon_SpaceX.jpgThe AP reported that Google and Fidelity will invest a total of $1 billion into SpaceX, garnering them “a nearly 10 percent stake” in the company. The deal would increase the value of SpaceX to $10 billion. The article noted that the funds could help SpaceX conduct a manned Mars mission “within the next 12 years.” SpaceX’s mission of launching a satellite Internet program also aligns with one of Google’s projects, according to the article. The New York Times noted that Google may have invested in SpaceX because it wants to develop “satellites with other kinds of sensors, like infrared detectors that show the health of crops, or lasers that can pierce forest canopies to show underlying terrain.” SpaceX said that it will use the funds “to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability and satellite manufacturing.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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21 January 2015
DSCOVR Will Not Launch Before 8 February

DSCOVR_graphic_NOAA.jpgThe Boulder (CO) Daily Camera reported that SpaceX, “with concurrence from NOAA and NASA,” has announced that the launch of the DSCOVR satellite will take place no earlier than 8 February. NOAA, on its website, said that it “continues to monitor any risk to the schedule in close coordination with its partners and will provide updates as they are available.” (Image Credit: NOAA)
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20 January 2015
SpaceX Announces Satellite Internet Venture

Satellite_Wiki.jpgBloomberg BusinessWeek reported that on Friday, Elon Musk hosted an event in Seattle to launch a new satellite Internet venture. According to the article, it will be a “hugely ambitious” project involving “hundreds of satellites.” The article noted that last week, OneWeb’s Greg Wyler announced a similar venture being funded by Qualcomm and the Virgin Group. Musk said that his project, which will take at least five years or more to complete, can compete with Wyler’s because his project has a distinct architecture that’s “an order of magnitude more sophisticated.” However, Virgin’s Richard Branson said that Musk cannot compete because he does not own the spectrum rights the satellites will use yet, unlike OneWeb. GeekWire has a full transcript of Musk’s talk in Seattle. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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20 January 2015
Lightfoot: Next Three Years “Exciting” Because of SLS

SLSLaunches_artistsConcept_NASA.jpgThe Huntsville (AL) Times reported on NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot’s visit to Huntsville on Friday. Lightfoot said that when it comes to the three years between now and when the Space Launch System (SLS) launches, “our teams aren’t thinking it’s a long time. ... They’re actually thinking we’ve got a ways to go to get there. It’s exciting.” The article listed seven milestones NASA plans to accomplish, “working hard” at centers like the Marshall Space Flight Center and Michoud Assembly Facility before the SLS is sent off to the Kennedy Space Center for integration with the Orion capsule. (Image Credit: NASA)
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20 January 2015
FAA Approves UAS Testing at University of Missouri

Assortment_of_UAVs_Wiki.jpgThe Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune reported that the University of Missouri (MU) won federal approval “to fly drones over university-owned lands in south-central Missouri,” making it “the first approval the university has received for a drone project.” The FAA granted approval to the joint application between MU, the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Saint Louis University, which plan to do “a slew of research and economic development projects at the Wurdack Research Center in Cook Station.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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16 January 2015
Navy Secretary Says USMC F-35 Should Be Ready On Time For Combat Operations

F35CarrierLanding_Wiki.jpgReuters reported that on Thursday, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that the Lockheed Martin F-35 B-model, the Marine version of the plane, is on schedule to meet the Marine’s target date for being declared ready for combat use. The F-35 C-model, which can be flown off of aircraft carriers, should also be ready for operations as planned. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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16 January 2015
Ten News Outlets to Test UAVs for Journalism

MicroDrone.jpgBloomberg News reported that ten U.S. news companies are following CNN’s lead in testing UAVs for news gathering, in efforts to persuade the FAA to remove the ban on UAVs for reporting purposes. Virginia Tech University will assist the UAV study at one of the six test areas approved by Congress. The media outlets include the New York Times Co., the AP, NBCUniversal, Advance Publications, A.H. Belo, Gannett, Getty Images, E.W. Scripps, Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Washington Post. According to the New York Times, the news companies said in a statement that the study is “designed to conduct controlled safety testing of a series of real-life scenarios where the news media could use small U.A.S. technology to gather the news.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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16 January 2015
New Horizons Spacecraft Begins Approach Phase for Pluto Flyby

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgNewsweek reported that yesterday was a “significant day” for NASA and the New Horizons mission with the start of “the first phrase of approach” of Pluto. The spacecraft is still 135 million miles away from its closest approach, which will come in July. According to the article, later this month, New Horizons will begin taking images that will help it navigate, with scientific observations starting in April. By mid-May, the images of Pluto are expected to “surpass” those taken by the Hubble telescope. Sen noted that while New Horizons approaches Pluto, it will take daily “measurements of dust, the solar wind and high-energy particles in the region near Pluto.” NASA will also continuously track the spacecraft to see whether an engine burn will be necessary in March. According to the article, NASA is expected to submit a budget request to extend the mission so it can try to reach a second Kuiper Belt object once it flies past Pluto. (Image Credi: NASA)
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15 January 2015
False Alarm Causes Astronauts to Relocate to Russian Segment of ISS

ISS-NASA.jpgNBC Nightly News broadcast on the “tense day” at the ISS when astronauts had to relocate to the Russian segment following an alarm concerning a potential ammonia leak. Reporter Tom Costello said that after checking equipment, operators became “more convinced” that this was just a false alarm and later gave the astronauts permission to resume “normal operations.” The AP called the situation a “rare scare” for the station, describing how it took 11 hours to resolve before measurements taken by astronauts concluded there were no leaks. Suffredini said that NASA wanted to take the time to ensure “that the system is tight like we believe it to be.” According to the article, Suffredini also stressed that this event does not seem to have “jeopardized” any of the SpaceX cargo that was being unloaded at the time of the alarm. (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 January 2015
Airbus A330-300 Makes Its First Flight

AirbusA330-300_Airbus.jpgAerospace Manufacturing and Design reported that on 12 January, Airbus A330-300, an A330 “with an increased 242-tonne maximum takeoff weight capability” made its first flight in its test campaign. If all goes as planned, it should be delivered to its first customer in the second quarter. The article noted that this version of the A330 is the “basis” for the A330neo now under development. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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14 January 2015
Airbus Launches New A321 Model to Fill Boeing 757’s Market

AibusA321_CreditAirbus.jpgBloomberg News reported on how both Boeing and Airbus are aiming to “fill the market void for trans-Atlantic flying” created when Boeing discontinued its 757. Airbus just announced a new long-range A321 model, while Boeing has spoken with 30 customers about what they would like for a replacement. Airbus’ new plane will include “a third auxiliary tank to fly 206 passengers across the Atlantic and other routes as long as 4,000 nautical miles.” However, Randy Tinseth, Boeing vice president for Marketing, said that it was “laughable” that Airbus thinks it can sell 1,000 of the planes when only about 50 or 60 757s currently fly the long distances. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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14 January 2015
Navy Chooses V-22 Osprey for Future COD

V-22Osprey_Wiki.jpgBreaking Defense reported on the U.S. Navy’s decision to replace its C-2A Greyhound turboprop aircraft with V-22 Osprey tiltrotors for carrier on board delivery missions after obtaining a January 5 memo signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford. The memorandum of understanding said that the Navy will purchase four Osprey aircraft “each year from fiscal 2018 to 2020.” Breaking Defense called the decision a “milestone in the history of the revolutionary V-22” and “a major triumph for the Naval Air Systems Command V-22 program office, the Marine Corps and other Osprey advocates.” The article noted that the memorandum of understanding between the Navy and Marine Corps “must be ratified in the next defense budget and by Congress” and also partly depends on “a prospective third V-22 multiyear procurement contract that would begin in fiscal year 2018.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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14 January 2015
Cape Canaveral Could Be World’s Busiest Spaceport In 2015

CapeCanaveralSpaceport_wiki.jpgFlorida Today reported that during a meeting of the National Space Club Florida Committee, Col. Thomas Falzarano, commander of the 45th Operations Group, said that Cape Canaveral could launch “10 missions by United Launch Alliance – eight on Atlas V rockets and two on Delta IVs – and as many as 14 launches by SpaceX’s Falcon rockets” this year, making it “the world’s busiest spaceport in 2015” if it holds. One of those SpaceX missions includes the debut of the Falcon Heavy at the Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A. The article noted that the spaceport will likely not conduct all of these missions due to how “frequently” the launch schedule changes. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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13 January 2015
CNN Teaming with FAA to Test UAVs for Reporting

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpgUSA Today reported on CNN’s announcement Monday that the cable network is teaming with the FAA in a “Cooperative Research and Development Agreement” to advance efforts to use UAVs as a reporting tool, attempting to find solutions to obstacles before possible widespread deployment by the media. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said: “Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities. ... We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.” The Wall Street Journal reported that CNN is testing a range of UAV types, and that NBC and others are also considering researching how to use UAVs for reporting at the Mid-Atlantic test site. CNN’s Money added that CNN partnered with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to collect data, which the FAA will analyze. The article noted that many companies have already hired staff for UAV-related projects, including Amazon, Facebook and Google. (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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13 January 2015
Dragon Arrives with Supplies for ISS

DragonAttachedtoISS_Jan2015_NASA.jpgThe AP, in continuing coverage, reported that a SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully arrived at the ISS with its “shipment of much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents.” ISS Commander Butch Wilmore, after grabbing the Dragon with the ISS’ robotic arm for berthing, said, “We’re excited to have it on board. ... We’ll be digging in soon.” Meanwhile, the article noted that SpaceX is still examining the data to see why its Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage was not able to successfully land after launching the Dragon. The Washington Post “The Switch” blog noted that even though the landing attempt was not completely successful, it was still “a major coup” because the rocket’s first stage made it back to the landing barge. (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 January 2015
Teams Gathering More Data On How Well Orion Performed

Orion_Crew_Vehicle_NASA.jpgSpaceflight Now reported that Lockheed Martin engineers at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) are now starting to disassemble part of the Orion capsule to get more data on how it performed during December’s first flight. So far it is known that Orion completed “all but two of 87 demo objectives.” Jules Schneider, Lockheed Martin’s Orion operations manager at KSC, said that because of how well the vehicle performed, there is now “a lot of debate” about how much will be disassembled. Schneider added that overall, engineers are “incredibly pleased” by how well Orion performed. Meanwhile, a final report is expected to be submitted to NASA by March 5. (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 January 2015
SpaceX Rocket Main Booster Returns to Platform but Fails to Stick Landing

ISScapturesDragon_Jan2015_NASA.jpgThe AP reported that on Saturday, SpaceX “flawlessly” launched a Dragon capsule with cargo to the ISS, with its “hasty replacements” for cargo lost during Orbital Sciences’ launch failure in October. However, SpaceX suffered a “high-profile flop” when its “unprecedented” attempt to land the Falcon 9’s main booster on a barge failed. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was reportedly “encouraged” that the booster was able to fly back to the barge even though it landed too hard. Musk is already planning another test in February with more hydraulic fluid in the booster’s fins, which ran out during the latest test. Meanwhile, according to the article, NASA had a “keen interest” in the results of SpaceX’s test, even if it was more focused on the cargo heading to the station. The Wall Street Journal similarly contrasted SpaceX’s flawless launch with the failed landing attempt. According to Florida Today, SpaceX’s failed landing attempt “was of little consequence to NASA,” which was more concerned with the cargo. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said in a statement, “We are delighted to kick off 2015 with our first commercial cargo launch of the year.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 January 2015
Teams Gathering More Data On How Well Orion Performed

Orion_Crew_Vehicle_NASA.jpgSpaceflight Now reported that Lockheed Martin engineers at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) are now starting to disassemble part of the Orion capsule to get more data on how it performed during December’s first flight. So far it is known that Orion completed “all but two of 87 demo objectives.” Jules Schneider, Lockheed Martin’s Orion operations manager at KSC, said that because of how well the vehicle performed, there is now “a lot of debate” about how much will be disassembled. Schneider added that overall, engineers are “incredibly pleased” by how well Orion performed. Meanwhile, a final report is expected to be submitted to NASA by March 5. (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 January 2015
North Dakota Companies Want To Work At UAS Test Site

Assortment_of_UAVs_Wiki.jpgThe AP reported that “hundreds of companies” want to work at North Dakota’s UAS test site, contacting the site “over the past year hoping to test drones, cameras or other technology.” While there is a real need for research, what lacks in turn “are rules,” because the FAA “has yet to write regulations governing drone use in the United States.” Still, the agency could release its regulatory proposals for commercial UAS under 55 pounds “within the next month,” but then “those rules won’t likely be final until 2017, extending the uncertainty for unmanned aircraft businesses.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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9 January 2015
FAA Outlines Its UAV Efforts at This Year’s CES

UAV_Wiki.jpgU.S. News & World Report continued coverage of how UAVs have their own section at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The FAA was also in attendance, with Jim Williams, the manager of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Office, discussing efforts to integrate UAVs into the national airspace. Speaking about the exemptions the agency has handed out, Williams said, “We are now up to 15 permissions granted. ... We are also in the process of streamlining in and accelerating that effort, because we now have over 200 applications for those permissions.” Meanwhile, the FAA also has a booth at the show “to educate businesses and drone users about the safe – and legal – way to operate the machines.” (Image credit: Wikipedia)
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8 January 2015
Next SpaceX Launch Attempt Pushed Back to Saturday

SpaceXFalcon9_Launchpad_NASA.jpgThe AP reported that SpaceX has pushed back its next attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket with cargo for the ISS to Saturday. No reason for the change was provided by the AP. According to Reuters, NASA spokesperson Allard Beutel said that SpaceX requires “more time to work the issue that caused the scrub.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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8 January 2015
Researchers Working On Developing Sense and Avoid Technology for UAVs

CamcloneT21_wiki.jpgThe AP reported that if UAVs are ever going to be able to be integrated into civilian airspace, engineers need to develop a “fully autonomous” way for them “to sense and avoid...objects like trees, streetlights, buildings and even other drones.” While this kind of software is available on commercial jets, it has yet to be scaled down or made inexpensive enough for use on UAVs, according to the article. The article noted that “researchers around the world” are working on solutions to the problem. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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8 January 2015
McGee: 2015 Will Be Worse Year for Air Travel

DeltaAirlinesFlight_Wiki.jpgIn his column for USA Today, Bill Mcgee wrote about five key stressors that will make 2015 a worse year for air travel than 2014: tighter seating, airplane crowding, more “economy-minus” service, less competition among merged air carriers, and fee increases. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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7 January 2015
FAA Grants UAV Permits for Agriculture, Real Estate Companies

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe Associated Press reports that on Tuesday, the FAA issued exceptions to the commercial UAV ban, permitting Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, to monitor crops and Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona, to photograph properties for sale. This is the first time permits have been granted to agriculture and real estate companies. The FAA had previously granted exemptions for the oil and gas, filmmaking, landfill, and other industries. The permits are conditional upon UAV operations using both a ground pilot and an observer; the pilot having at least an FAA private pilot certificate and a current medical certificate; and the UAV remaining within sight of the operator. FAA officials said that preventing potentially deadly collisions between UAVs and manned aircraft is their top priority. (Image Credit: Associated Press)
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7 January 2015
Steering Mechanism Issue Stops SpaceX Launch with Minute to Go

SpaceXFalcon9_Launchpad_NASA.jpgThe Associated Press continued coverage of SpaceX’s failed launch attempt yesterday, noting that the countdown ended “just over a minute before launch” because of a malfunctioning “steering mechanism.” With the next attempt set for Friday, NASA took this latest delay “in stride.” ISS Commander Butch Wilmore said, “Certainly, there’s a little bit of disappointment because it had fresh fruit and those types of things that we’re all interested in getting. ... But they’ll get off the ground here in a couple of days and it will all be great.” Meanwhile, according to the article, ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini stated that even with the delays and the loss of an Orbital Sciences rocket back in October, the ISS is “nowhere near being short on food or other critical supplies.” Bloomberg News similarly reported that NASA spokesperson Jay Bolden said before the launch that the ISS has enough materials “to last until the summer.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 January 2015
Small UAV Market To Exceed $8 Billion by 2019

UAV_Wiki.jpgFlightglobal reported that according to ABI Research, the small UAV market will exceed “$8.4 billion by 2019.” It is estimated that commercial usage alone will reach $5.1 billion or more. ABI categorizes small UAVs as those with “a maximum take-off weight of less than 11kg.” Dan Kara, practice director at ABI Research, said that the dominance of commercial UAV use is leading defense contractors and hobbyist manufactures to engage in “acquisitions, internal development, partnerships and investment” to better access that market. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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6 January 2015
SpaceX Launch Delayed Until Friday

Falcon9LaunchScrubbed6Jan15_NASA.jpgThe SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for this morning at 6:20 a.m. EST was forced to abort with one minute, 21 seconds left on the countdown clock. A thrust vector control actuator for the Falcon 9’s second stage failed to perform as anticipated, resulting in a launch abort. SpaceX is currently evaluating the issue and will determine the next opportunity to launch its next commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The next available launch opportunity is Friday, 9 January. (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 January 2015
Tuesday’s SpaceX Launch Features Reusable Rocket Test

Falcon9_CapeCanaveral.jpgThe New York Times reported that when SpaceX makes its next launch to the International Space Station on Tuesday, it will try “to upend the economics of space travel” by attempting to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform. If that works, SpaceX will reuse the stage on a future launch, bringing it one step closer to its goal of developing a reusable rocket. Florida Today reported that according to weather forecasters, there is only “a 60 percent [chance] of acceptable conditions” for Tuesday’s launch. If there is a delay, SpaceX will try again on Friday when there’s a “70 percent chance of acceptable weather.” Spaceflight Insider detailed where the public can watch the launch live. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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5 January 2015
Testing About to Begin On SLS Engines

RS-25Engine_NASA.jpgNASA Space Flight reported that this month, NASA will start the test program at the Stennis Space Center for the Space Launch System’s (SLS) RS-25 engines, “formally known as the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME).” SLS Program Manager Todd May said, “We’ve got three things that we’re really interested in making sure that we shake out on these engines, because you’re actually talking about engines that have flown in space before. These are engines that have flown on the Shuttle before – they’re qualified engines.” Meanwhile, the article noted that more hardware is under development at the Michoud Assembly Facility, “utilizing an array of new machinery.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 January 2015
FAA Fails to Meet 2014 Goal for UAV Regulations

UAV_Wiki.jpgReuters reported that the FAA missed a self-imposed year-end deadline for releasing rules for commercial UAVs, much to the chagrin of a multi-billion-dollar industry that was eagerly awaiting the regulations. The FAA sent a draft of the rules to the White House on Oct. 23, but the Office of Management and Budget has not released them yet. The FAA asserted that they are more focused on getting the rules right than releasing them quickly, as they contend they must deal with complex issues. Bloomberg News reported that the FAA said, “We are continuing to work with our administration colleagues to finish the rule[s]. ... It is our goal to get the proposal right.” In 2012, Congress ordered the FAA to publish rules to integrate commercial drones by Sept. 30, 2015. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
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2 January 2015
ISS Experiences The New Year 16 Times

ISS-NASA.jpgThe ABC News website continued coverage of how the ISS would celebrate the New Year, noting that the station would “be over midnight somewhere on earth sixteen times.” ISS Commander Barry Wilmore said in a video, “We plan to celebrate New Year’s sixteen times with our comrades, our people down on Earth that are doing it at that very moment, so we’re going to do the same thing, that’s our plan.” The WAAY-TV Huntsville, AL website noted that the astronauts took time to discuss how they celebrate the New Year while “in the midst of scientific work.” According to the article, astronauts were “working hard” on their experiments. (Image Credit: NASA)
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