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2015 Industry News Archive


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).


31 December 2015
2016 U.S. Postage Stamps to Feature Space Themes

USPS_2016_Stamp_Pluto.jpgOn its website, the United States Postal Service (USPS) features “a preview of its 2016 stamp program,” revealing that Pluto, the eight planets, and the moon, among other themes, will appear on U.S. postage stamps in 2016. Referring to the newly unveiled “Pluto-Explored” stamp set, the preview notes that in 2006, “NASA placed a 29-cent 1991 Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp in the New Horizons spacecraft,” adding that in 2015, “the spacecraft carried the stamp on its history-making mission to Pluto and beyond.” Alan Stern, lead scientist with the New Horizons mission team, explained that the “Pluto: Not Yet Explored” stamp has long served “as a rallying cry for many who wanted to mount this historic mission of space exploration,” remarking that with the successful flyby of Pluto, “it’s a wonderful feeling to see these new stamps join others commemorating first explorations of the planets.” According to the International Business Times , NASA’s New Horizons mission team “petitioned to have a stamp celebrating the achievement and the USPS agreed.” Referring to the preview by the USPS, SPACE reports that the first stamp in the Pluto set “shows an artist’s rendering of the New Horizons probe [whereas] the second uses the spacecraft’s image of Pluto taken near its closest approach,” adding that two copies of each stamp will be included in the souvenir sheet “set to be dedicated between May 28 and June 4 at the World Stamp Show...in New York City.” (Image Credit: USPS)
More Info (USPS)
More Info (International Business Times)
More Info (SPACE)



31 December 2015
Airbus Postpones Delivery of First A320neo Until Early 2016

AirbusA320neoNewEngineOption_Airbus.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Wednesday, Airbus said that it will miss its target to deliver the first unit of its new, single-aisle A320neo jetliner by the end of the year. On Wednesday, Lufthansa said that delivery of the upgraded narrow-body jet has been postponed until early 2016 due to its technical complexity slowing down the acceptance process. According to the Journal, Airbus said that it agreed with Lufthansa and engine supplier Pratt & Whitney to delay the delivery in order to address delivery documentation issues. Reuters reports that Airbus explained in a statement, “All three partners continue working with all efforts and full focus towards bringing the fuel-efficient A320neo into service within the next weeks.” Moreover, an Airbus spokesman said, “Discussions are continuing such that when we deliver the plane, it is truly operational in the Lufthansa fleet,” adding that the company expects to deliver the jet during the first two weeks of January. (Image Credit: Airbus)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (Reuters)



31 December 2015
Select Space Images of 2015 Highlighted

Earth_Oct2015_NASA.jpgGizmodo highlights its favorite satellite images of Earth in 2015, which was “a tremendous year for planetary imagery.” The article features several images taken by NASA, as well as agency astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren, and the ESA. Meanwhile, NBC News features 32 images from “This Year In Space Pictures,” including “Pluto close-up, distant galaxies, astronauts in orbit and other out-of-this-world photos from 2015.” (Image: The Americas, captured 15 Oct. 2015 by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on the NASA/NOAA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Credits: NASA/Goddard)
More Info (Gizmodo)
More Info (NBC News)



30 December 2015
Top 2015 Space Stories Highlighted

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgIn continuing coverage of the top space stories of the year, ABC News features “a look at six of the most impressive out-of-this-world moments from 2015.” The article highlights the New Horizons space probe and its flyby of Pluto and the successes of Space X and Blue Origin and the implications for commercial space travel, as well as the discovery of Earth-like planet Kepler-452b, and its sun-like star Kepler-452, situated 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (ABC News)



30 December 2015
Thailand Safety Overhaul, New Drone Rules Among Top Aviation Developments In 2016

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommons.jpgOn its website, CNN reports on “what 2016 holds for the aviation industry.” CNN predicts that the ongoing “makeover” of flight safety rules in Thailand, expected to continue until August, will be among the major stories next year. CNN notes that the overhaul began in 2015, “when the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) ‘red flagged’ Thailand on the heels of an audit questioning the country’s airline safety oversight,” and adds that the FAA has since “downgraded Thailand’s safety rating.” The article also lists the new FAA regulations concerning UAV operations in the U.S. as a major story, adding that in 2016, the FAA is “expected to release new rules for an estimated hundreds of thousands of drone operators.” (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (CNN)



29 December 2015
2015 Highlighted As Tremendous Year for Space

Falcon9Launch21Dec15_SpaceX.jpgNBC News reports that “2015 was a big year for space” and highlights some of the “biggest advances and events” that took place during the year. In particular, the article points out that “commercial spaceflight is making great progress in getting off the ground,” noting that NASA “has commissioned both Boeing and SpaceX to create crew capsules,” while acknowledging “some highly visible [launch] failures.” Moreover, in 2015, NASA scientists found that Mars “may have salty liquid water flowing on it right now,” while the Curiosity rover spent its 1,000th sol on the planet. Meanwhile, at the movies, “‘The Martian’ thrilled moviegoers with its tale of interplanetary isolation.” SPACE highlights that in July, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft “gave Pluto its first close-up” as it zoomed by within 7,800 miles of the planetary surface, “capturing spectacular images of towering water-ice mountains and flowing fields of nitrogen glaciers, among other features.” The article also highlights several other stories, including the beginning of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko’s year-long mission aboard the International Space Station; “the great spaceflight comeback” of Japan’s Akatsuki probe circling Venus; and the Dawn spacecraft becoming the first ever probe to visit dwarf planet Ceres. Image Credit: SpaceX – webcast)
More Info (NBC News)
More Info (SPACE)



29 December 2015
Amazon Testing Cargo Flights at Lehigh Valley International Airport

AmazonPrimAir__Amazon-YouTube.jpgThe Harrisburg Patriot-News reports that the Lehigh Valley International Airport is among five airports across the country used by online retailer Amazon to test its own cargo program. Despite widespread reports about the cargo service, Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman stressed that the company has “a longstanding practice of not commenting on rumors and speculation.” Meanwhile, delivery company UPS said in a statement about the purported program, “We will continue to help Amazon and all our customers solve their growth and customer service challenges,” adding, “UPS will not share confidential details about Amazon business contracts.”  (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
More Info (Harrisburg Patriot-News)



28 December 2015
Growing Number of UAS Enthusiasts and Entrepreneurs Adds to Safety Concerns

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgIn its Friday evening broadcast, NBC Nightly News reported that, “By some estimates, up to a million Americans woke up” on Christmas morning “to find a drone under the tree.” This surge in new UAV owners, along with the already growing number of close encounters between UAVs and manned aircraft,“has the government worried about crowded skies and close calls with planes, which is why all of those drones are now required to be registered with the FAA.” The broadcast focused not only on hobbyists, but also on the growing number of commercial UAS applications, profiling several examples of how UAS are being used around the country. “Already, the FAA has issued more than 2,100 exemptions for commercial drone use,” NBC Nightly News said. The AP reported that “thousands of entrepreneurs across the country want to jump into the potentially lucrative, rapidly growing business,” the only problem being that, “if they’re ready, the Federal Aviation Administration is not.” Entrepreneurs who want to operate UAS for commercial purposes must obtain a Section 333 waiver from the FAA until “the agency finalizes long awaited regulations.” Still, the article pointed out that many entrepreneurs are not “waiting” for the FAA to grant their permit applications and are “already flying to gain experience needed to market [their] services.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)



28 December 2015
More Than 45,000 Registered Their Drones In Days Before Christmas, FAA Website Maintenance Performed

DJIPhantom3_AssociatedPressAlexBrandon_Purchased.jpgThe NBC News website reported that over “45,000 people registered their drones in the two days after the Federal Aviation Administration opened the registry to the public,” forcing the website to be taken down for upgrades ahead of what was expected to be another huge rush on Christmas Day. The FAA stated that an “overwhelming number of people have successfully registered,” but that it had “received reports from a small number of users of performance issues.” Fortune reported online that on December 22, the FAA “was temporarily suspending online registration of drones for two nights to perform website maintenance.” According to agency estimates, “as many as 400,000 drones will be sold during the holidays … and the FAA [is] preparing its website to handle that.” (Image: DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (NBC News)
More Info (Fortune)



23 December 2015
AIAA Executive Director Comments On SpaceX Success In National Broadcast

SandyMagnus_NBCInterview_Dec2015.jpgIn a Tuesday evening broadcast featuring comments by AIAA Executive Director Sandy Magnus, NBC Nightly News reported on the “stunning accomplishment in Cape Canaveral,” where spaceflight company SpaceX “managed to launch an unmanned rocket into the night sky last night, then land it back on Earth paving the way to reuse rockets, not just discarding them after a single use.” Correspondent Tom Costello remarked that for “the first time ever, a rocket on a payload mission had returned and successfully landed vertically back on Earth,” adding that “the upstart next-gen engineers at SpaceX had overcome a challenge that had stood for decades.” Highlighting the implications of the successful mission, Magnus, a former NASA astronaut, told NBC News, “To see private companies doing this kind of innovation and making these kind of breakthroughs in the space realm is just exciting and we’re really at the beginning of a whole new era in space.” (Image Credit: NBC News video)
More Info (NBC News)



23 December 2015
NORAD to Track Santa On Christmas Eve

Norad_Tracks_Santa_USAirForce.jpgReuters reports that staff at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are getting ready to track Santa’s annual journey across the globe on Christmas Eve. According to the article, NORAD expects more than 1,300 holiday volunteers to answer about 120,000 calls from children inquiring about the location of Santa. The article notes that the annual tradition of tracking Santa began in 1955, when a Christmas newspaper ad accidentally misprinted “Santa’s North Pole phone number with the contact number of a high-level office at NORAD.” Yahoo! Good Morning America reports that for the fourth consecutive year, Google and Microsoft “will make it easy for people to follow Santa’s sleigh as he travels around the world delivering presents,” and adds that NORAD has partnered with Microsoft once again this season “to follow Santa on his busiest day of the year.” (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force, Brooke Davis, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)
More Info (Yahoo! Good Morning America)



22 December 2015
SpaceX Completes Historic Landing of Spent Orbital Rocket

Falcon9Launch21Dec15_SpaceX.jpgThe New York Times reports that on Monday at 8:29 p.m., following two days of scrubbed liftoffs, SpaceX launched its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and then successfully landed the first-stage booster after deploying 11 Orbcomm data satellites into orbit. According to the Times, the event was a “threefold success” for SpaceX, as it marked its return to spaceflight six months after its failed launch attempt in June, highlighted the capability of its upgraded rocket design, and, most importantly, signified the first time that the company has vertically landed a spent orbital rocket. The Wall Street Journal reports that eight minutes following launch, after sending the satellite payload into orbit, controllers used the spent booster’s thruster rockets to steadily control its descent back to Earth, gently landing it in an upright position back at the space complex. Following the successful landing, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk triumphantly tweeted, “11 satellites deployed to target orbit and Falcon has landed back at Cape Canaveral,” exclaiming, “Welcome back, baby!” The Washington Post reports that the “historic” landing marked “the first time a rocket launched a payload into orbit and then returned safely to Earth,” demonstrating that spaceflight industry leader SpaceX has regained its momentum. (Image Credit: SpaceX – webcast)
More Info (New York Times)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (Washington Post)



22 December 2015
FAA Drone Registry Goes Live

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgNBC Nightly News reported that “if you own a drone, starting [Monday] the federal government said you have to register it with the FAA.” NBC noted that “all drones purchased before [Monday] must be registered by February 19th” and “drones bought later should be registered before the first flight.” NBC News also reports online that “the maximum civil penalty is a fine of up to $27,500” and that “criminal penalties can reach $250,000 or three years in prison.” Eli Dourado, director of the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, expressed doubts that the FAA will be able to enforce this rule. An FAA spokesperson said, “Our focus is on educating owners who have not yet registered and to maximize compliance.”  USA Today reports that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has said, “Registration gives us the opportunity to educate these new airspace users before they fly so they know the airspace rules and understand they are accountable to the public for flying responsibly.” USA Today also points out that Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx emphasized that, “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.” BuzzFeed also reports that “the concept of a government registry has also drawn criticism over the privacy of owners whose information will be captured by the database.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (NBC News)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (BuzzFeed)



22 December 2015
Spacewalking Duo Fix Jammed ISS Rail Car In 15 Minutes

Spacewalk_21Dec15_NASA.jpgIn continuing coverage, Reuters reports that while NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Timothy Kopra were scheduled to spend about 3.5 hours on Monday performing a spacewalk to fix a stuck rail car at the International Space Station (ISS), the two astronauts needed only 15 minutes to latch the jammed car back into its parking spot. According to Rob Navias with NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the early completion time afforded the duo the needed time to prepare the ISS for new modules. The article notes that although NASA generally spends months planning a spacewalk, Monday’s operation was arranged over the weekend.  (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)



21 December 2015
SpaceX Delays Rocket Launch Until Monday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Sunday, just hours before its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, SpaceX decided to postpone the launch until Monday, with company founder Elon Musk tersely tweeting, “Punting 24 hours.” According to the Journal, Musk elaborated on the decision via Twitter, explaining that his team had determined that the satellite launch mission had a 10 percent greater chance of success with a Monday blastoff. USA Today specifies that there is an 80 percent chance of “favorable weather during Monday’s one-minute launch window,” and adds that Musk “said analysis showed better odds on Monday of landing the Falcon 9 booster back at the Cape, which is considered a secondary, experimental mission objective.”  Reuters also reports that Musk wrote on Twitter, “Tomorrow night (Monday) has a 10 percent higher chance of good landing. Punting 24 hours.” Reuters adds that the liftoff has been rescheduled for 8:33 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, noting that it is the first SpaceX mission “since June 28 when the Falcon 9 [rocket] failed during an attempt to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.” Reuters also notes that the upgraded Falcon 9 is 30 percent more powerful than the previous model. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (Reuters)



21 December 2015
ISS Astronauts Moving Stalled Rail Car During Spacewalk

Spacewalk_21Dec15_NASA.jpgABC News reported on its website that NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and new arrival Timothy Kopra could step outside the International Space Station (ISS) as early as Monday to perform a spacewalk “to free a stalled rail car.” The article notes that Houston flight controllers “were moving the rail car on the outside of the orbiting lab when it got stuck,” only four inches from its “lock-down position.” Kenny Todd, operations manager at NASA said on Friday that “the car needs to be securely attached to its guide rails before any docking by visiting spacecraft.” Highlighting the urgency of the spacewalk, Reuters adds that Russia plans to send a supply shipment to the ISS on Monday for a delivery on Wednesday. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (ABC News)
More Info (NASA TV)



18 December 2015
NASA Spots Cosmic “Lightsaber” In Space

Birth_of_Star_NASA.jpgUSA Today reports that on Thursday, “the same day the new Star Wars movie [hit] many theaters nationwide,” NASA posted on Twitter an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of a space object resembling “a cosmic, double-bladed lightsaber,” referencing the well-known weapon from the blockbuster film series. According to the article, the image is, in fact, that of “a newborn star that’s shooting out twin jets of superheated gas that escapes along the star’s spin axis.” NASA described the image, saying, “Intertwined by magnetic fields, the bipolar jets blast into space at over 100,000 mph,” adding, “It’s inside a turbulent birthing ground for new stars known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1,350 light-years away.” SPACE notes that “the two beams of light shoot outward from their star at supersonic speeds to create the two jets that look like the double-sided lightsaber wielded by Darth Maul in ‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.’” TIME reports that NASA also released video, as well as photographs of the newborn star, showing it “partially obscured by a dark, Jedi-like cloak of dust” within the Milky Way. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (SPACE)
More Info (TIME)



18 December 2015
Air Force to Demonstrate Laser-Armed Fighter Jets by 2020

Laser-Armed-Fighter_USAirForce.jpgCNN reports that aerial warfare may be facing a major shift, noting that the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) “said it’s on track to demonstrate a working laser weapon on a fighter jet by 2020.” Kelly Hammett, chief engineer for the directed energy directorate at AFRL, called the development of the weapons “a national tipping point,” adding, “We see the technology evolving and maturing to the stage where it really can be used.” While CNN notes that arming large aircraft with laser weapons “has been possible for years,” Hammett said that the more complex challenge is developing laser weapons that are compact, precise, and powerful enough to be used by fighter jets at supersonic speeds. The article further highlights recent technology developments and describes how laser weapons work. (Image Credit: USAF, From: www.youtube.com/user/CNN)
More Info (CNN)



17 December 2015
Omnibus Spending Bill Fully Funds NASA Commercial Crew Program

DragonApproachesISS_Apr2015_NASA_TerryVirts.jpgUSA Today reports that on Wednesday, Congress released its $1.1 trillion federal budget proposition for the 2016 fiscal year, which authorizes NASA to receive “a total $19.3 billion for the remainder of fiscal 2016, or about $1.3 billion more than the agency received in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.” According to the article, the omnibus spending bill includes “the full $1.24 billion the Obama administration requested this year for the Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s effort to replace the space shuttle with private rockets.” Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), said, “the space program’s biggest booster in Congress,” said, “We won’t have to rely on the Soyuz anymore,” adding, “We’ll be flying on American rockets. And that’s going to happen in a short two years." The Verge reports that the main motivation behind the budget increase for the Commercial Crew Program “seems to be ending NASA’s reliance on Russia as soon as possible,” noting that ever since 2011, “NASA astronauts have been riding into space on the Russian Soyuz rockets, which cost around $80 million per seat.” (Image: Dragon approaches the ISS. Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (The Verge)



17 December 2015
SpaceX to Launch Its Most Powerful Rocket On Saturday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that SpaceX is set to launch its upgraded Falcon 9 booster, carrying 11 communications satellites, on Saturday between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Speaking at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting on Tuesday, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that believes that the Falcon 9 is “a significantly improved rocket from the last one.” The AP notes that the upgraded booster is “now 229.6 feet tall and can produce up to 1.7 million pounds of thrust,” which is “about 200,000 pounds more thrust than earlier SpaceX rockets.” The article adds that due to the upgrades, “the Falcon 9 booster will have enough fuel after [lift] off to attempt a landing” — but it is not known “whether SpaceX will actually attempt a rocket landing.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)



16 December 2015
Soyuz Docks; First British Astronaut Aboard ISS

SoyuzApproachesISS_Dec2015_NASA.jpgReuters reports that following its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, successfully docked at the International Space Station at 17:33 GMT on Tuesday. Reuters highlights that Peake, a former military helicopter pilot who is on a six-month mission for the ESA, “became the first astronaut representing the British government,” on the ISS. CNN notes that Peake, Kopra, and Malenchenko are part of the ESA’s Principia mission, “which will run experiments and test new technologies for future exploration missions.” The Guardian reports that just before 8:00 p.m. GMT on Tuesday, more than ten hours after liftoff, Peake “stepped out of the Soyuz capsule and aboard the International Space Station,” and exclaimed, “It was a beautiful launch,” adding, “I hope you enjoyed the show.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)
More Info (CNN)
More Info (The Guardian)



16 December 2015
FAA Requires Drone Registration

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommons.jpgIn continuing coverage, The Hill reports that the FAA announced earlier this week that drone operators will be charged a $5 fee to register their drones by February 19 as part of a new registration system. The article notes that some groups, including the Consumer Technology Association, are criticizing the fee. The group warned that “even a small fee — essentially a drone tax — could undermine the FAA’s objective of widespread compliance and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s goal of associating a drone with an owner as often as possible.” Additionally, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that while “those with commercial interests” in drones welcomed the FAA’s new registration system, hobbyists criticized the FAA for requiring “almost everyone with anything larger than a pocket-sized aircraft to register.” Tony Stillman, technical director with the Academy of Model Aeronautics, told the paper that “making all radio- or remote-controlled craft register does not make sense,” adding that “it doesn’t solve any of the problems the FAA says it is having now.” (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (The Hill)
More Info (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)



15 December 2015
FAA Announces Drone Registration Rules

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgTom Costello reported on NBC Nightly News that the FAA released new rules to take effect December 21 that will require all drone owners 13 years and older to register their drones online, “including name, address, and email.” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said, “We think this is not just about registering. This is also about educating and providing folks with the information they need to do this safely.” Other rules include flying below 400 feet and at least five miles from airports. Each offense carries a potential $1,100 fine..” The New York Times notes that the registration process will be free for 30 days, after which a $5 fee will be required to procure a three-year registration certificate. The Times notes those who purchase UAVs prior to December 21 have until February 19, 2016, to register, while those buying the devices after that date must register aircraft before engaging first flight. Meanwhile, ABC News remarks that while “the $5 fee flies directly in the face of what an FAA task force recommended less than a month ago – that registration should be free,” the agency is “required by law to charge a fee to defray the cost of aircraft registration.” USA Today reports that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, “We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season. ... Registration gives us the opportunity to educate these new airspace users before they fly so they know the airspace rules and understand they are accountable to the public for flying responsibly.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)
More Info (ABC News)
More Info (USA Today)



15 December 2015
Russian Capsule Launches Towards ISS

SoyuzLaunches_Dec2015_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that on Tuesday, the Russian Soyuz capsule carrying NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, and British astronaut Timothy Peake, “blasted off for the International Space Station” on a six-month long mission.  SPACE notes that during live commentary of the launch, NASA spokesman Dan Hout said, “A flawless flight into orbit today.” The article also notes that the “mission is Peake’s first time traveling to space, and he will also be the first British astronaut to live aboard the space station.” In a statement in September, Peake said that the launch “opens the door for Great Britain; it opens the door in terms of the scientific community that can now enjoy participating in the scientific research we do onboard the space station.” The Telegraph profiles Tim Peake noting that with the launch, “Britain officially enters the space race” as Peake blasts off for the space station, signifying a first step for the United Kingdom, “which could eventually see Britons land on the Moon and Mars.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (SPACE)
More Info (The Telegraph)



15 December 2015
NASA Opens Up Applications for Next Astronaut Class

BruceMcCandless_STS-41-B_NASA.jpgIn a press release posted on its website, NASA announced on Monday that its “astronaut candidate application website is [now] live and accepting” applications. According to the release, the space agency intends to announce the finalist candidates in mid-2017, with those selected able to fly on “any of four different U.S. spacecraft during their careers,” including the International Space Station; the Orion deep-space exploration vehicle; as well as the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial spacecraft currently under development. In a statement, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars and we’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to help get us there,” adding, “This group will launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft and blaze the trail on our journey to the Red Planet.”  International Business Times notes that to be eligible to apply, candidates “must have a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics,” as well as three years of relevant experience, “along with promotions showing increased responsibility.” (Image Credit: NASA via Wikipedia)
More Info (NASA)
More Info (International Business Times)



14 December 2015
Aerodrome and Boulder City, NV Announce World’s First UAV Port

Assortment_of_UAVs_Wiki.jpgIn a press release posted on MarketWired, UAV developer Aerodrome announced on Saturday that “the world’s first commercial droneport and teaching facility in Boulder City, NV,” is being constructed in partnership with the city. According to the press release, the Eldorado Droneport “has already broken ground, is fully funded, permanent and currently operational,” and “has the full support and approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).” In a statement, Jonathan Daniels, president of The Aerodrome, said, “Unmanned air systems are inherently different from manned aircraft and require a whole new type of expertise in order to be executed safely,” adding, “There are currently over 2,500 companies in the U.S. with FAA 333 exemption to fly commercial drones, and only one place in the world where they now take priority over manned aircraft.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (MarketWired)



14 December 2015
Three ISS Astronauts Return to Earth

SoyuzTMA-17MUndocking_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that a group of aviation enthusiasts is looking to restore a historic airplane built by the Wright Brothers. The aircraft would then be displayed in Terminal A at Reagan National Airport. “We are supportive of the effort to bring the Wright Flyer to the nation’s airport. We have committed to finding space for the aircraft and any associated displays so travelers can appreciate the history and beauty it embodies,” said Christopher Paolino, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs National and Dulles airports.
More Info (Associated Press)



14 December 2015
Aviation Enthusiasts Looking to Rebuild Wright Brothers Plane

WrightBrosFlyer.jpgThe AP reports that a group of aviation enthusiasts is looking to restore a historic airplane built by the Wright Brothers. The aircraft would then be displayed in Terminal A at Reagan National Airport. “We are supportive of the effort to bring the Wright Flyer to the nation’s airport. We have committed to finding space for the aircraft and any associated displays so travelers can appreciate the history and beauty it embodies,” said Christopher Paolino, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs National and Dulles airports.
More Info (Associated Press)



11 December 2015
SpaceX Set to Launch Falcon 9 Rocket On December 19

SpaceXFalcon9_Launchpad_NASA.jpgUSA Today reports that on Thursday, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a Twitter post that the spaceflight company is aiming to test-fire the core engines of its Falcon 9 rocket on December 16, and then launch “about three days later” with a payload of 11 OG2 satellites for communications company Orbcomm. The launch “would be SpaceX’s first since a Falcon 9 broke apart about two minutes into a June 28 launch of International Space Station cargo, a failure blamed so far on a strut in the rocket’s upper-stage oxidizer tank.” Also on Wednesday, Orbcomm CEO Marc Eisenberg “reported that the satellites were fueled, attached to their dispensers and waiting for SpaceX to confirm a launch date.” Fast Company notes that the satellites are intended to enhance Orbcomm’s main line of business, “which centers around remote access to equipment and assets for transportation, maritime, and government.” In a press statement, Orbcomm “specifically noted that the new satellites will make it easier to track ships at sea.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (Fast Company)



11 December 2015
GoPro to Launch UAV Device In 2016

GoProCamera_YouTube-GoPro.jpgUSA Today reports that on Thursday, high-definition camera manufacturer GoPro announced that in 2016 it will launch a UAV product named Karma, and “released a one-minute teaser video showing footage taken from the air” using the aircraft. However, GoPro has not yet revealed additional information about Karma, “including what the drone looks like, compatibility with GoPro camera models, how the drone is controlled, and price.” TIME reports that GoPro CEO Nick Woodman conveyed that developing the device was a natural decision for the company, saying, “It’s something that’s in our DNA, and we are excited about it across the company.” Engadget notes that GoPro “reportedly set out to make its own drone after a partnership with DJI fell apart, according to Forbes.” According to Engadget, DJI CEO Frank Wang Tao said that GoPro “dealt with us like how they dealt with Taiwanese OEMs, so we never had a successful official partnership.” (Image Credit: GoPro/YouTube)
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10 December 2015
Honda Business Jet Receives FAA Approval

HondaJet_CreditHondaJet.jpgIn a press release posted on Business Wire, Honda announced that its recently unveiled business aircraft, the HondaJet, “received type certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday.” According to the press release, the FAA “presented the type certificate to Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino in front of more than 2,000 people, including FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, government representatives, community leaders, HondaJet dealers, suppliers, and Honda Aircraft associates.” In a statement, Fujino said that the certification for the business jet “is a monumental milestone for Honda,” adding that the design, testing and certification of the aircraft constituted “an unprecedented challenge” for the company. The AP notes that Honda now “has the U.S. regulatory approval it needs to launch full production of the auto-making giant’s first aircraft.” (Image Credit: Honda Aircraft)
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10 December 2015
Northrop Grumman Tests Drone Tracking System

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpg10 December 2015
Defense Systems reports that Northrop Grumman recently tested a UAS tracking system called Venom, which tracks small drones and provides accurate coordinates of drone flight paths. Northrop highlighted that the system is easily integrated into a variety of platforms. The article adds that the demand for systems that can “track and eliminate” drones are on the rise. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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10 December 2015
Cygnus Delivers Cargo to ISS

Assortment_of_UAVs_Wiki.jpgIn a press release posted on MarketWired, UAV developer Aerodrome announced on Saturday that “the world’s first commercial droneport and teaching facility in Boulder City, NV,” is being constructed in partnership with the city. According to the press release, the Eldorado Droneport “has already broken ground, is fully funded, permanent and currently operational,” and “has the full support and approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).” In a statement, Jonathan Daniels, president of The Aerodrome, said, “Unmanned air systems are inherently different from manned aircraft and require a whole new type of expertise in order to be executed safely,” adding, “There are currently over 2,500 companies in the U.S. with FAA 333 exemption to fly commercial drones, and only one place in the world where they now take priority over manned aircraft.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain via Wikimedia Commons)
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9 December 2015
Cygnus Delivers Cargo to ISS

Cygnus_arrives_at_ISS_2014_NASATV.jpgThe AP reports that on Wednesday morning, the International Space Station (ISS) received its first U.S. cargo shipment since April via the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft, consisting of “a capsule bearing 3 ½ tons of Christmas presents, food and other supplies.” The AP notes that NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren “used the station’s big robot arm to grab the cargo ship, operating the crane via joy sticks.” SPACE notes that the Cygnus capsule “launched toward the space station on Sunday (Dec. 6) aboard an Atlas V rocket built by United Launch Alliance,” adding that the delivery “heralds Orbital ATK’s return to flight after its previous supply mission, using the company’s Antares rocket, exploded during launch in October 2014.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 December 2015
Boeing Rolls Out First 737 MAX Jetliner at Employee Event

Boeing737Max.jpgUSA Today reports that on Tuesday, Boeing unveiled its first 737 MAX aircraft to employees at its factory in Renton, Washington, demonstrating “the latest update to Boeing’s popular 737 model, which has become the industry’s best-selling jet since it debuted in the 1960s.” The article notes that the latest update of the narrow-body jet “is not an incremental one, but rather a thorough ‘next generation’ modernization of the jet that Boeing hopes will keep the model flying for decades to come.” According to USA Today, the 737 MAX “includes larger and more powerful engines,” which, “in turn, necessitated a significant update to the wing to accommodate the heavier engines.” In addition, the latest model “comes as the U.S. jetmaker finds itself in an increasingly pitched battle with rival Airbus, which has already unveiled its next-generation update to its A320 family of jets that compete directly against Boeing’s 737.” The Seattle Times notes that by the end of November, “Airbus had firm orders for 4,443 [A320neos] compared with Boeing’s orders for 2,955 MAXs — a 60/40 market split.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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8 December 2015
Airbus 2015 Orders Reach 1,000 Ahead of Boeing, Deliveries Lag

AirbusA320neoNewEngineOption_Airbus.jpgReuters reports that on Monday, Airbus announced that it had sold 169 jetliners in November, reaching an overall total of 1,079 orders for 2015, or 1,007 after cancellations and conversions, surpassing the 655 orders reported by Boeing over the same period. However, Airbus delivered 556 aircraft during the first 11 months of the year, trailing the 709 deliveries made by Boeing, which has “a target of 750 to 755 deliveries in 2015.” According to analysts, the number of orders reported by Airbus reflects its increasingly stronger position in the market for medium-haul jets versus Boeing, landing 4,443 jet orders for the A320, compared to the 2,955 orders secured by Boeing for similar aircraft. Bloomberg News notes that Airbus “must accelerate output by 24 aircraft, or almost 50 percent, in December compared with the average for the first 11 months in order to meet the target set last January, according to calculations based on delivery and order numbers released Monday.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
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8 December 2015
U.S. Deploys Spy Plane to Singapore Amid South China Sea Tensions

P-8Poseidon_USNavy.jpgThe AP reports that the U.S. has deployed a P-8 Poseidon spy plane to Singapore “for the first time, amid heightened tensions in the region over China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.” The week-long deployment came as Defense Secretary Ash Carter met his Singaporean counterpart Ng Eng Hen in Washington, DC, and “signed a new agreement to step up defense cooperation.” According to Reuters, a Pentagon official said further deployments in Singapore are likely. (Image Credit: Greg L. Davis, U.S. Navy, via Wikimedia Commons)
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8 December 2015
FAA Rules Prompt Increasing Use of UAVs In Production of Commercials

DJIPhantom3_AssociatedPressAlexBrandon_Purchased.jpg AdWeek reports that UAVs are increasingly being used to produce commercials. The article adds that this rise was prompted by FAA rules released a year ago that allow the use of UAVs in the production of films and commercials. Aerial MOB, a UAV vendor in California, “reports that about 60 percent of its business comes from advertising agencies these days.” The article adds that prior to the new FAA rules, many producers went to Canada and Europe to capture UAV footage for commercials. (Image: DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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7 December 2015
Orbital ATK Supply Shipment Successfully Launches for ISS

OrbitalATKLaunch_Dec2015_NASA.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Boeing is set to introduce its 737 Max airliners this week without the spectacle of prior launches, noting that unlike the launch of the Dreamliner in 2007, which attracted 15,000 guests, the new aircraft models will be welcomed by company employees and a select group of advance-order customers. According to the article, the lack of fanfare surrounding the launch illustrates the need for the manufacturer to under-promise and deliver above expectations. (Image Credit: Boeing)
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7 December 2015
Boeing to Introduce 737 Max Aircraft With Little Fanfare

Boeing737Max_CreditBoeing.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Boeing is set to introduce its 737 Max airliners this week without the spectacle of prior launches, noting that unlike the launch of the Dreamliner in 2007, which attracted 15,000 guests, the new aircraft models will be welcomed by company employees and a select group of advance-order customers. According to the article, the lack of fanfare surrounding the launch illustrates the need for the manufacturer to under-promise and deliver above expectations. (Image Credit: Boeing)
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7 December 2015
UAS Operators Reminded of Federal Rules Ahead of Holiday Season

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Kansas City Star reports on the “increasingly crowded skies” that are expected to become even more crowded as “some 400,000 recreational drones, generally priced between $50 and $1,600, are expected to fly off retailers’ shelves this holiday season.” Referencing several of the complications associated with regulating recreational UAS in particular, the article points out that it is illegal to operate a UAV “within 5 miles of any major airport in the United States,” meaning that “significant swaths of” many metro areas are cut off from legal UAS use. The Star also reports on the recommendations recently made by the UAS Task Force to the FAA regarding the creation of a federal UAS registry, and described in depth the process for commercial UAS to receive approval from the agency. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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4 December 2015
Orbital ATK Launch Rescheduled for Friday Due to Bad Weather

AtlasV_ReadyForLaunch_Dec2015_AP.jpgBloomberg News reports that on Thursday, the Orbital ATK rocket set to launch from Cape Canaveral was delayed at 6:11 p.m. EST “when thick clouds and the possibility of rain hadn’t cleared as a launch window was closing,” adding that the liftoff “was rescheduled until 5:33 p.m. on Friday.” According to the article, a successful liftoff “would restart the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s effort to commercialize resupply missions to the ISS,” following recent launch accident by Orbital and SpaceX. On its website, Fox News reports that NASA “says there is a 30 percent chance of favorable weather for Friday’s rescheduled launch.” The Los Angeles Times also reports on the story. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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4 December 2015
Branson Unveils 747 Aircraft for Virgin Galactic Satellite Launches

VirginGalactic747SatelliteLauncher_VG-YouTube.The Washington Post reports that on Thursday, Virgin Galactic expanded on its ambitions to send miniature satellites into space, “showing off a new ‘mothership’ aircraft that would help launch its LauncherOne rocket.” At an airport near San Antonio, company founder Richard Branson unveiled the Boeing 747-400 aircraft, nicknamed “Cosmic Girl,” “that would carry LauncherOne into the sky.” The Post notes that unlike the case for vertical launch rockets, “Virgin plans to tether its rocket to the wing of the 747, which would fly to an altitude of about 35,000 feet.” Commenting on the significance of the launches, Branson said, “You need to be able to send a plane up with 24 hours notice,” adding, “If you’re waiting for one of these giant rockets to put small satellites into space, you sometimes have to wait six months, or a year.”  Bloomberg News reports that in a statement on Thursday, George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said, “Air launch enables us to provide rapid, responsive service to our satellite customers on a schedule set by their business and operational needs, rather than the constraints of national launch ranges.” The spaceflight company “expects to begin test flights of its LauncherOne rocket in 2017."
(Image Credit: Virgin Galactic/YouTube)
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4 December 2015
NASA Successfully Tests Drone Traffic Management System

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgGovernment Computer News reports that NASA successfully completed its first tests of its unmanned aerial systems traffic management (UTM) system. The UTM system “aims to serve as an air traffic control system for low-flying drones, roughly similar to ground traffic systems.” The article adds that partners, “such as Harris, Lockheed, Precision Hawk and Verizon” also carried out tests on tracking devices in real-time. A NASA spokesperson explained that the results of NASA’s tests will be used to “develop airspace integration performance requirements for stakeholders and [the] FAA.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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3 December 2015
Aerojet Rocketdyne Using 3-D Printer to Develop Parts for Orion Spacecraft

OrbitalATKPreparingforDec3Launch_NASA.jpgThe New York Times reports that on Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EST, Orbital ATK is scheduled “to launch 7,700 pounds of equipment, experiments and supplies” to the International Space Station (ISS), using its Cygnus capsule boosted by an Atlas V rocket developed by United Launch Alliance. The Times notes that if the launch takes place as scheduled, “the cargo spacecraft is [due] to arrive at the space station on Sunday, greeted by the six astronauts on board: two Americans, three Russians and one from Japan.” Moreover, according to the Times, the cargo set to be ferried to the space station includes miniature satellites, a jetpack for spacewalks, high-press oxygen and nitrogen tanks, as well as Microsoft HoloLens visors – “‘mixed reality’ devices that project holograms to appear next to real, physical objects.” USA Today notes while that the weather may be a concern on Thursday, meteorologists from the U.S. Air Force “are optimistic about the 60% odds of favorable launch weather.” On Wednesday, Todd McNamara, launch weather officer with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, said that there is “a great chance weather-wise to launch tomorrow.” However, according to USA Today, if the launch is postponed until Friday, there is only a 40 percent chance of acceptable weather conditions. (Image Credti: NASA)
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3 December 2015
Boeing Says Detailed Design of Longest Dreamliner Complete

Boeing787-10_WikimediaCommons.jpgReuters reports that Boeing has announced that it finished the detailed design for its 787-10 Dreamliner, the longest of three 787 aircraft, two weeks ahead of schedule. According to Boeing, the aircraft is expected to start assembly in May, take its maiden flight in 2017, and complete its first delivery in 2018. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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2 December 2015
SpaceX Plans to Launch, Land Next Booster Module at Cape Canaveral

Falcon9Launch_SpaceX.jpgFlorida Today reports that following its next launch, SpaceX “plans to fly a Falcon 9 booster back to a landing site” at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, “making its first attempt to bring a booster down on land rather than on a platform in the ocean.” According to the article, the test landing “has not yet been approved as part of a commercial launch license to be issued by the Federal Aviation Administration,” and the timing of the launch is uncertain, although SpaceX “could try to launch of a group of small commercial communications satellites for New Jersey-based Orbcomm Inc. as soon as Dec. 15,” just weeks after competitor Blue Origin successfully landed its New Shepard rocket on November 23. The Verge notes that Carol Scott of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program delivered the “very exciting news” on Tuesday to members of the media at the Kennedy Space Center. At the press briefing, Scott announced that SpaceX plans “to try to land [the next booster] out here on the Cape-side.” (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)
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2 December 2015
Aerojet Rocketdyne Using 3-D Printer to Develop Parts for Orion Spacecraft

3DPrintedPart_NASA.jpgIn a press release on Yahoo! Finance, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced that it “has completed 12 additively manufactured production nozzle extensions for use aboard the Orion spacecraft,” which are “part of Orion’s crew module reaction control system that Aerojet Rocketdyne is building for Lockheed Martin and NASA.” Jay Littles, director of advanced launch vehicle propulsion at Aerojet Rocketdyne, noted, “The company has had several successes in developing this 3-D printing technology for a broad range of products – from discrete component demonstrations, to hot-fire testing of engines and propulsion systems made entirely with additive manufacturing,” adding, “we can add qualifying components for human spaceflight programs to that list of accomplishments.” (Image: 3-D printed rocket injector. Credit: NASA/MSFC)
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1 December 2015
Last Boeing C-17 Leaves California Assembly Plant, Marking End of Operations

BoeingC-17_Wikimedia.jpgThe AP reported that on Sunday, the last C-17 Globemaster III aircraft manufactured at a Boeing facility in Southern California, which will be delivered to the Qatar Emiri Air Force next year, cemented its place in history “with a flyover that marked the end of an era for the region’s once-thriving aerospace industry.” According to company spokesman Felix Sanchez, the humongous cargo was celebrated in Long Beach as it flew over a crowd of about 1,000 onlookers. In a statement, Nan Bouchard, vice president and C-17 program manager, said, “It’s a sad day, but one that all of the Boeing employees and suppliers who have worked over the years building this great aircraft can be proud of.” (Image: A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III T-1 flies over Owens Valley, California, for a test sortie. Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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1 December 2015
NASA Set to Launch Commercial Resupply Mission On Thursday

ISSResupplyMission_NASA_2015.jpgABC News reports that following two catastrophic launch accidents less than a year apart NASA is set to resume its commercial resupply missions to the International Space Station on Thursday with the launch of the upgraded Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. According to the article, barring any setbacks, “the launch will be Orbital ATK’s fourth commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station and its first since a little over a year ago when an explosion shortly after launch destroyed the Antares rocket, Cygnus vessel and thousands of pounds of cargo.” For the upcoming launch, “Orbital ATK said it plans to use a different rocket,” the Atlas V, as well as an upgraded Cygnus module, which has 25 percent greater cargo capacity than its predecessor. (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 November 2015
Amazon Releases Video Showing Prime Air Prototype In Action

AmazonPrimAir__Amazon-YouTube.jpgOn Sunday, Amazon released an online video demonstrating its Prime Air delivery UAV prototype, which received extensive media coverage from online technology publications. Reuters reports that the video shows a family receiving a UAV delivery of replacement soccer shoes after its dog chews up the original pair. Notably, Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson narrates “the promotional clip,” and said that going forward, “there will be a whole family of Amazon drones,” with varying “designs for different environments.” USA Today reports that Amazon says that the UAVs “weigh 55 pounds and can carry packages weighing up to 5 pounds,” adding that the aircraft can “fly under 400 feet and use ‘sense and deploy’ technology to dodge potential obstacles en route to its delivery destination.” (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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30 November 2015
FAA to Issue Safety Directives for Boeing, Embraer Jets

Embraer1000.jpgIn continuing coverage of the UAS Task Force’s recommendations to the FAA on how to set up a national registry of UAVs, the GPS World website reported that the Task Force recommended the creation of a registration system that would be “based on the pilot, not the craft,” and be “free, electronic and immediate” in registering all UAVs sold weighing more than 250 grams. Noting that it was Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta who unveiled the creation of the Task Force made up of “retailers, pilots, industry representatives and others,” the article reported that the Task Force members held interviews with “FAA officials, met for three days and prepared final recommendations.” MSNBC, FierceGovernmentIT, Road Warrior Voices, and Manufacturing also reported on the story. (Image: Embraer ERJ-190-100ECJ Lineage 1000 - Ryabtsev by Sergey Ryabtsev - Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons.)
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30 November 2015
UAS Task Force Recommends Robust And Immediate Registration Process for Drone Operators

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgIn continuing coverage of the UAS Task Force’s recommendations to the FAA on how to set up a national registry of UAVs, the GPS World website reported that the Task Force recommended the creation of a registration system that would be “based on the pilot, not the craft,” and be “free, electronic and immediate” in registering all UAVs sold weighing more than 250 grams. Noting that it was Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta who unveiled the creation of the Task Force made up of “retailers, pilots, industry representatives and others,” the article reported that the Task Force members held interviews with “FAA officials, met for three days and prepared final recommendations.” MSNBC, FierceGovernmentIT, Road Warrior Voices, and Manufacturing also reported on the story. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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25 November 2015
Blue Origin Launches, Lands Fully Reusable Rocket In Industry Milestone

BlueOriginLaunch_Nov2015_BlueOriginYouTube.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Tuesday, spaceflight company Blue Origin, backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced that it had successfully launched its automated, fully reusable New Shepard launch vehicle into suborbital space and subsequently and successfully landed its capsule and spent rocket on Earth, achieving a significant milestone for the burgeoning commercial space industry. During the suborbital test flight on Monday, New Shepard flew to an altitude of 330,000 feet at almost four times the speed of sound before “both the capsule and its BE-3 liquid-fueled separately landed safely in West Texas—ready for another flight.” Noting that the vehicle is named after astronaut Alan Shepard, “the first American to reach space in a similar suborbital flight in 1961,” the New York Times reports that the flight capsule “descended to the ground under parachutes 11 minutes after blasting off,” while the rocket, “firing its engines again, set back down at the launchpad at 4.4 miles per hour,” and landed less than five feet away from its intended target. In an interview following the seminal event, Bezos said, “We’re walking on cloud nine,” adding, “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.” Bezos also said that the flight could be considered “the beginning of a thorough test program,” and that the next launch “should be [in] a matter of weeks.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin/YouTube)
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25 November 2015
Airbus A320neo Receives European, U.S. Approval

AirbusA320neoNewEngineOption_Airbus.jpgMarketWatch reports that Airbus received regulatory approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the FAA for its A320neo single-aisle jet. With these certifications, Airbus is now able to make their deliveries of the plane. The plane will have fuel-efficient PW1100G engines from Pratt & Whitney. The article adds that Qatar Airways will be the lead operator for the A320neo. Air Transport World reports that after announcing the development of the A320neo in December 2010, Airbus “secured more than 4,300 orders from more than 75 customers to date.” Reuters reports that Airbus was prompted to upgrade its popular A320 model after it saw its market-share challenged by the arrival of new jets by new manufacturers, including Bombardier. The article adds that while Airbus announced its certification for the A320neo this week, Bombardier spoke to investors about its new plans for the CSeries after delays and cash flow issues. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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24 November 2015
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter In Syria; Putin Vows “Serious Consequences”

TurkishFighter_Wiki.pngThe New York Times reports that on Tuesday, Turkish fighters patrolling the Syrian border shot down a Russian aircraft after it purportedly violated Turkey’s airspace, “a long-feared escalation that could further strain relations between Russia and the West.” According to the Times, while the Russian Defense Ministry “confirmed that one of its jets, a Sukhoi SU-24, had crashed in Syria,” it contended that the aircraft had been downed “presumably as a result of shelling from the ground.” The Ministry further stated that the aircraft “stayed exclusively above the territory of Syria throughout the entire flight,” and that its two pilots had ejected prior to the crash. Meanwhile, the Turkish military “did not identify the nationality of the plane but said in a statement on its website that its pilots fired only after repeated warnings to the other warplane.” USA Today notes that the Turkish “state-run Anadolu news agency said [that] the plane went down in Bayirbucak, northwestern Syria, near Turkey.” (Image: An F-16 Fighting Falcon of the Turkish Air Force. Credit: Wikipedia/SAC Helen Farrer RAF Mobile News Team)
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24 November 2015
FAA Releases Proposed UAV Regulations

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe New York Times reports that in a document released on Monday, the FAA outlined its proposed regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles, “widely expected to be approved in a few weeks,” based on the recommendations of a specialized task force created by the agency. According to the Times, the UAV task force “said that in addition to being entered in a federal database, drone owners should display a government-issued registration number on the machines,” and further “recommended that owners submit their names and addresses, but said email addresses and phone numbers should be optional.”  The Verge highlights that the task force recommended that for small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) weighing more than .55 pounds, owners will be required to complete “an electronic registration form through the web or through an application”; obtain “an electronic certificate of registration and a personal universal registration number for use on all sUAS owned by that person”; and denote “the registration number...on all applicable sUAS prior to their operation in the NAS.” USA Today reports that the task force, which included UAV developers, state regulators, airline pilots and police officials, “submitted its report Saturday to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who thanked members for their quick work.”  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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23 November 2015
SpaceX Selected to Launch Astronauts to ISS

SpaceXFalcon9_1_CreditSpaceX.jpgUSA Today reported that on Friday, SpaceX received official confirmation from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that it has been selected to transport astronauts from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station using its Dragon capsules. According to USA Today, the SpaceX order arrived “six months after NASA said Boeing … would fly crews in CST-100 Starliner capsules launched by Atlas V rockets from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.” However, while Boeing received its order ahead of SpaceX, “it has not yet been determined which company will fly the first official mission to the space station after NASA certifies the programs’ safety.” Still, in a press release, Kathy Lueders, manager of the Commercial Crew Program, stated, “It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from U.S. companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan.” The Verge noted that the Commercial Crew Program “tasks the two companies with creating and operating spacecraft that can ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station,” adding that NASA is currently “without a primary space vehicle and must rely on the Russian Soyuz rocket, which costs $80 million to get just one US astronaut into lower Earth orbit.” As such, according to The Verge, the program “will allow American astronauts to get to the ISS on American-made vehicles once again, and for much lower costs.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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23 November 2015
Utilities Explore Potential of Drones to Inspect Infrastructure

MicroDrone.jpgThe AP reports that U.S. utilities “see great potential in the use of remote-controlled drones to do the often-dangerous work of inspecting power lines and transmission towers,” but “strict regulations have so far slowed adoption of the technology.” The AP describes the FAA regulations and reports that seven utilities have been granted FAA approval for testing drone technology in 2015 including Consumers Energy, which tested drones equipped with lidars. Andrew Bordine, Consumers Energy executive, said the drones that it tested could also be programmed to automate their flight paths. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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20 November 2015
ULA Plans to Launch Miniature Satellites by Mid-2017

AtlasV_NewHorizons_Launch_NASA.jpgReuters reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, announced that it plans to launch a miniature satellite by mid-2017. The article notes that the venture will be competing with several other companies as the miniature satellite market is expected to grow rapidly due to growing commercial interests in cheap networks, according to SpaceWorks Enterprises. Florida Today notes that ULA “plans to start flying new carrier on the upper stage of its Atlas V rockets that could hold as many as 24 CubeSats, which measure as little as 4 inches on a side,” adding that ULA CEO Tory Bruno “said he envisioned the new carrier eventually flying on every Atlas V or its planned replacement, the Vulcan.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 November 2015
ISIL Claims Soda Can Bomb Downed MetroJet A321

AP_KogalymaviaAirbusA321.jpgAFP reports that on Wednesday, ISIL repeated claims in its online magazine Dabiq that it had smuggled an explosive device on board MetroJet A321, which was brought down in Egypt on October 31, after finding a “way to compromise the security” at Sharm el-Sheik Airport. AFP notes that in the magazine article, ISIL “published what it said was a picture of the explosive, apparently contained in a soda can, and a purported picture it said its fighters had obtained of passports belonging to dead passengers.” Initially planning “to down a plane belonging to a country from the US-led coalition targeting militants in Iraq and Syria,” ISIL said that “the target was changed to a Russian plane” after Moscow began its airstrikes in Syria. In a statement responding to the publication, State Department spokesman John Kirby said, “We have no reason to doubt ISIL’s claim of responsibility.” Reuters notes that ISIL also stated that “revenge was exacted upon those who felt safe in the cockpits,” and claimed that the soda can bomb “was smuggled onto the airplane, leading to the deaths of 219 Russians and five other crusaders only a month after Russia’s thoughtless decision.” The New York Times and USA Today also report on the story. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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19 November 2015
DJI Introduces Geo-Fencing Technology for Drones

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgFortune reports that Chinese drone maker DJI introduced new software that automatically prevents drones from flying over restricted areas, including airports, prisons, and power plants. The article adds that DJI is also working with a digital airspace data company, Airmap, to incorporate the FAA’s temporary flight restrictions. The article notes that the software update will be installed on all DJI drones in the U.S. and Europe starting in December. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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19 November 2015
Bolden: Private Space Companies to Complement NASA

SpaceXFalcon9_1_CreditSpaceX.jpgSPACE reports that in his keynote address at the SpaceCom conference on Tuesday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden “talked about the need for a marketplace in low-Earth orbit where ‘NASA is not the only customer.’” Commenting on the passage of the recent space commerce bill, Bolden said, “Now that the doors have been kicked open, I’m looking forward to new ideas about what we do next and how we keep that market humming,” asking, “Who has a plan for non-NASA astronauts to conduct low-Earth orbit ops?” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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18 November 2015
Two U.S.-Paris Flights Diverted by Bomb Threats

AirFrance_Wiki.jpgReuters reports that according to Air France and the FAA, two commercial flights bound for Paris from the U.S. were diverted on Tuesday following security concerns emanating from anonymous bomb threats. An FAA spokesperson stated that Air France Flight 65, departing from Los Angeles, landed safely in Salt Lake City, while Flight 55, departing from Washington, DC, landed at Halifax International Airport in Nova Scotia. In a statement, the carrier said that both flights were “subjects of anonymous threats received after their respective take-offs,” adding, “As a precautionary measure and to conduct all necessary security checks, Air France, applying the safety regulations in force, decided to request the landings of both aircraft.” USA Today reports that Air France confirmed that a bomb threat prompted the diversion of Flight 65 from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. However, the AP reports that according to a statement from the FBI on Tuesday night, authorities had determined that there was no credible threat to the flight diverted to Salt Lake City. (Image Credit: Wikiepdia)
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18 November 2015
UAVs Expected to Sell Big Over Holidays

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgOn its website, NBC News reports that over the holiday season this year, developers are expected to ship 700,000 UAVs, “a 63 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association [CEA].” Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis at the CEA, notes that around 7 percent “of consumers surveyed plan to purchase a drone as a gift this year.” According to Koenig, most UAV buyers will purchase “quasi-toy” devices. He also said that retailers have a role in educating consumers on the proper use of drones. Highlighting the rapid growth of the UAV market, Forbes notes that Henry Seydoux, CEO of leading UAV developer Parrot, said, “There are now a dozen companies doing these types of drones,” adding, “It will put a lot of pressure on the market.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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18 November 2015
NASA Partners With MIT, Northeastern to Develop Space Exploration Robots

NASAR5HumanoidRobot_NASA.jpgNBC News reports that two different engineering teams from MIT and Northeastern University have been “selected to help upgrade NASA robots that could one day explore deep space and perhaps even Mars,” and they were “awarded prototypes of NASA’s R5 humanoid robot for advanced research and development work.” According to NBC News, NASA “envisioned that the R5 could some day be used in space missions, either performing tasks before humans arrive or working alongside the human crew.” In a press release, Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA, noted, “Advances in robotics, including human-robotic collaboration, are critical to developing the capabilities required for our journey to Mars.” NBC News notes that the two teams will each “receive up to $250,000 a year for two years from NASA to fund their R5 robot R&D.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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17 November 2015
Russian Security Head Confirms Bomb Downed MetroJet A321; Putin Vows Retaliation

RussianPlaneCrash_Egypt_1Nov2015_AP.jpgTASS (RUS) reports that on Tuesday, Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), confirmed that MetroJet A321 was brought down by explosives, stating, “In the estimates of our specialists, a self-made explosive device with its power of up to 1 kilogram in TNT equivalent went off aboard the airliner, due to which the plane broke up in the air and this explains the spread of the plane’s fuselage parts over a large distance.” According to Bortnikov, “It can be unambiguously said that this is a terrorist act.” TASS notes that the FSB public relations unit stated, “FSB and law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation are taking measures to detect the people involved in the crime,” and added, “For providing evidence that will contribute to the detention of criminals a reward of $50 million will be paid.” Flightglobal reports that according to the Russian presidential office, Bortnikov revealed the findings in a meeting with Vladimir Putin and other government officials on Monday. According to Flightglobal, Bortnikov “told Putin that personal belongings, baggage and debris from the MetroJet A321 had been studied by investigators,” and said that the findings “revealed traces of foreign-produced explosive.” In response to the findings, Putin stated, “We will look for them wherever they might be hiding,” vowing, “We will find them anywhere in the world, and punish them.” USA Today, Reuters, and The Guardian also report on the story. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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17 November 2015
Chinese UAV Developer to Open Flagship Store

DJIPhantom3_AssociatedPressAlexBrandon_Purchased.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that China’s SZ DJI Technology, the largest developer of unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, is opening “its first flagship retail store in a Shenzhen shopping center next month.” The Journal notes that this move comes as the consumer UAV market is expanding globally, and as DJI has indicated that it will open more flagship retail stores around the world. DJI generates most of its sales in overseas markets such as the U.S.  (Image: DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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17 November 2015
Congress Approves Space Commerce Bill, Allowing Private Space Industry to Avoid Regulation

SpaceXFalcon9_1_CreditSpaceX.jpgThe Verge reports that on Monday, Congress approved the Space Act, which “prevents the government from regulating private space travel for the next eight years.” Under the bill, the FAA will not be allowed to issue regulations and standards for commercial space travel until 2023. The Space Review notes that the bill extends what the space community has called the “learning period.” However, according to Space Review, FAA officials have “argued against an extension of the learning period, arguing that it prevented them from having the flexibility to develop regulations.” George Nield, FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, said at a meeting with the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, “We’ve encouraged the industry to develop consensus standards. But, frankly, there is currently no incentive for industry to work on them.” The Washington Times adds that the bill will allow “private companies to own any natural resources they manage to mine from asteroids.” However, opponents of the bill contend that the provision violates the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, “which declares no country can appropriate part of outer space.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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16 November 2015
FAA Closely Monitoring Aftermath of Paris Terror Attacks

Delta_and_AirFrance_CharlesdeGaulle_Wikipedia.jpgIn extensive coverage on the reaction of U.S. airlines and travel officials to the violence that rocked Paris on Friday, Reuters reported that U.S. airlines were operating flights on Saturday with relatively few cancellations. Reuters reported that an FAA official said that there was no change as of Saturday to the agency’s approach to the situation, which the FAA has been monitoring in case immediate action is required.  In a separate article, Reuters reported that airlines operating flights into and out of France have been warned to make sure that all passengers have valid documentation and travel papers or risk being fined. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Delta Air Lines is “perhaps most immediately affected by the events in Paris” but was saying on Saturday “that its flights from the U.S. to Paris were taking off as planned with no delays.” The article adds that UPS and Coca-Cola have both said that their operations are continuing as scheduled, with UPS spokesman Dan McMakin noting that, “Most deliveries take place during the week.” The WNBC-TV New York and Mic websites also report on the additional security measures in place since Friday’s attacks. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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16 November 2015
Wal-Mart Wants to Start UAS Research for Eventual Delivery Service, Quality Control

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpgThe Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the plans for UAS delivery by certain U.S. retailers, including Wal-Mart and Amazon. Wal-Mart not only wants “to maintain dominance...through drones” in the traditional retail space, but also wants “to test drones for grocery pickup service,” having “recently expanded online food orders, which consumers pick up, to 23 markets, with plans to add 20 more markets next year.” The company even submitted an application on October 28 to test drone delivery services, “asking for an exemption from current drone regulations that limit their commercial use to indoors and to begin testing them outdoors.” Additionally, Wal-Mart would test “drones as surveillance cameras in warehouses, buildings, and distribution centers to monitor inventory.” (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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16 November 2015
Cargo Payload Prepared for Launch to ISS

Cygnus_Spacecraft_Wikipedia.jpgUSA Today reported that this week Orbital ATK will roll out its Cygnus cargo craft, named in [NASA astronaut Deke Slayton’s] honor, to its Cape Canaveral launch pad. According to USA Today, this is “the first flight by a Cygnus carrying International Space Station cargo since one was destroyed by an Antares rocket’s explosion seconds after an October 2014 liftoff from Wallops Island in Virginia.” On Friday, Dan Tani, former astronaut and senior director of mission and cargo operations at Orbital ATK, said that “this time we’re confident we’re going to do it well.” Spaceflight Insider adds that Tani also said, “We’ve done even more enhancement by figuring out how to pack it even denser than we could and, we were originally going to fly 2,700 kilograms on an enhanced PCM, we’re fitting an additional 1,000 kilograms of cargo into this, well 800 more kilograms, 3,500 kilograms total will fly in this Cygnus.” (Image: Standard variant of Cygnus is seen approaching the ISS. Credit: Wikipedia)
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13 November 2015
FAA Reports More Than 20 Aircraft Targeted By Lasers On Wednesday

LaserInCockpit_FBIgov.jpgIn the lead story of its evening broadcast, NBC Nightly News reported that the FAA said that more than 20 aircraft across the country were struck by lasers on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the CBS Evening News also reported that Wednesday night was “part of a record-setting surge of laser strikes on aircraft.” According to CNN, the FAA said that laser strikes “were reported in 10 states as well as in Puerto Rico and Ontario, Canada.” In addition, USA Today reports that FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford said, “None of the pilots reported injuries.” However, Lunsford noted that “shining a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime that the U.S. vigorously pursues.” The Washington Post reports that the federal government has launched an official investigation following the laser strikes. Captain Joe DePete, first vice president of the Air Line Pilots Association, had told the Post “over the summer that lasers are most dangerous when pilots are trying to take off or land.” (Image Credit: FBI.gov)
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12 November 2015
UN Accord to Enable Global Satellite Flight Tracking

Malaysian_Airlines_Wiki.jpgThe CBS Evening News reported that in response to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014, a UN agreement will allow satellites “to track jetliners anywhere in the world using common radio frequencies.” Reuters reports that on Wednesday at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized UN communications agency, country delegates reached an agreement to allocate a portion of the radio spectrum to a global flight tracking system. Under the accord, satellites will be able to monitor Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) signals, which airliners currently only transmit to other aircraft and ground stations. According to François Rancy, head of the Radiocommunication Bureau at the ITU, “The allocation of frequencies for reception of ADS-B signals from aircraft by space stations will enable real-time tracking of aircraft anywhere in the world.” The AP notes that according to the ITU, current flight monitoring systems that are predominantly based on land are unable to track aircraft flying above the 70 percent of the globe covered by water. Moreover, following the disappearance of MH370, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) “called for quick action to allocate the spectrum so that satellites could help track planes in the future.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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12 November 2015
Commercial Space Bill Approved By Senate, Expected to Pass House

SpaceXFalcon9_1_CreditSpaceX.jpgIn continuing coverage of the commercial space bill unanimously approved by the Seatne on Tuesday, USA Today reports that a measure to “significantly overhaul rules governing the still-maturing commercial space industry for the first time in more than a decade” is expected to pass the House as early as next week. According to supporters, the measure, which would give “private companies gearing up to send humans into space...several more years to develop their projects without having to meet stringent safety standards,” would “provide the kind of long-term security critical to the growth of a host of applications, including space tourism and research.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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10 November 2015
Boeing Lands $8 Billion 737 Max 8 Order from Jet Airways at Dubai Airshow

Boeing737Max_CreditBoeing.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Boeing has received an $8 billion order from Jet Airways for 75 of its 737 Max 8 jetliners, 25 of which will be substituted in lieu of an earlier deal for standard 737 jets. Boeing also stated that it believes it can sell up to 100 additional P-8 surveillance aircraft around the world, including to the UK, which is looking to replace its now-canceled BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 jet program. Reuters reports that on Monday, Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal confirmed the deal, saying that the company anticipates that its Indian domestic flights will increase 15 to 20 percent over its “current level of 70 million annually.” Bloomberg News reports that the deal “was already on Boeing’s books with the buyer listed as undisclosed.” While the announcement “created some momentum,” this year’s Dubai Airshow sales announcements are much less than “the $179 billion in combined transactions for the U.S. company and rival Airbus Group SE at the 2013 show.” Currently, Boeing has eight years worth of backlog orders, while Airbus’ “stretches out for a decade.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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10 November 2015
Future Of UAVs “Uncertain, Promising And Pretty Awesome”

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe LiveScience section on the CBS News website reports that the first drone delivery in the U.S. took place over the summer and that the FAA has granted Amazon permission to begin testing drones for its drone delivery program. Meanwhile, the FAA predicts that drones will spur a $90 billion industry within a decade. The article mentions that in February, the FAA released proposed rules for the commercial use of small drones and “many industry members were surprised by how progressive the rules were.” The article also notes that the FAA has sped up the approval of Section 333 exemptions. However, “not everyone is satisfied with these incremental steps.” Michael Drobac, executive director of the industry-backed Small UAV Coalition, says that he is “very disheartened, because it doesn’t make any sense that the biggest problem companies face are arbitrary and capricious rules.” An FAA spokesman responded by pointing out that the FAA’s primary goal is the maintenance of high safety standards. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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9 November 2015
Officials Confident Russian Plane Crash Was Caused by Bomb

RussianPlaneCrash_Egypt_1Nov2015_AP.jpgMedia coverage of the crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt continues to be heavy, with much of the focus on officials’ growing certainty that the crash was caused by a bomb. The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. officials say they are “growing increasingly convinced” that the crash “was the result of a bomb.” Politico notes that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that if ISIL is responsible for the crash in the Sinai, the group “has now fully eclipsed Al-Qaeda as the gravest terrorist threat in the world.” In a report highlighting the lawmakers’ comments, the New York Times notes that the “senior House members” said there is “a mounting consensus among American intelligence officials” that a bomb caused the crash. Bloomberg News reports that French officials familiar with the investigation have backed the theory that a bomb brought down the plane. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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9 November 2015
Lockheed Martin Concludes Sikorsky Purchase

SikorskyCH-53Kheavylifthelicopter_APPurchased.jpgThe AP reported Lockheed Martin completed its acquisition of Sikorsky Aircraft on Friday. Sikorsky will maintain its Stratford, Connecticut, headquarters under the terms of the deal. Reuters reported that Lockheed Martin partially funded the transaction with $6 billion in borrowed funds. Lockheed Martin also announced that Dan Schultz, Lockheed vice president of ship & aviation systems, will serve as Sikorsky’s president. Schultz said that Lockheed did not expect to lay off employees in the wake of the takeover and will incorporate most of the Sikorsky’s current structure into Lockheed’s Missions Systems and Training business. The Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer reported that Sikorsky’s full official name is now “Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company.” Inside Defense also covered the story.
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9 November 2015
Kelly, Lindgren Perform Second Spacewalk

Kelly_Lindgren_Spacewalk_NASA.jpgSPACE reports that on Friday, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren conducted their second spacewalk in a little more than a week, “spending nearly eight hours outside the International Space Station on a truly out-of-this-world plumbing job,” which involved “synchronizing their actions to reconfigure and add ammonia to the port-side station cooling systems.” According to SPACE, Kelly and Lindgren sought to undo repairs made during a previous spacewalk by astronauts Suni Williams and Akihiko Hoshide, who “rerouted ammonia away from the primary port-side cooling system’s radiator to the backup system to try to stop an ammonia leak.” AP noted that since the leak is now plugged differently, “NASA wants the system back in its original setup.”  The Daily Mail (UK) also reported on the spacewalk. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 November 2015
Obama: Terrorism “A Possibility” In Russian Jetliner Crash

RussianPlaneCrash_Egypt_1Nov2015_AP.jpgIn continuing coverage surrounding the possibility that a bomb brought down a Russian airliner shortly after its departure from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the New York Times reports that President Obama spoke about the recent Russian passenger jet crash during an interview with Seattle radio station KIRO, saying, “I think there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board and we’re taking that very seriously,”, but he “did not go as far as his counterparts in Britain, who have suggested that the destruction of the plane, and the death of all on board, was most likely the result of a terrorist explosion.” The Washington Post reports that both “U.S. intelligence officials and key legislators echoed the president’s remarks but cautioned that while a bomb may have brought down the Russian plane, that cause has not been confirmed.” The AP reports that on Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that he “can’t discuss what U.S. intelligence officials have learned so far.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)



6 November 2015
NASA: Solar Storms Deteriorating Martian Atmosphere

SolarStormHitsMars_NASA-GSFC_ArtistsRendition.jpgThe AP reports that at a press conference on Thursday, NASA announced that its Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission currently orbiting Mars has found that solar storms likely stripped the planet of its atmosphere and water over billions of years. According to the AP, the “scientists reported that even today, the solar wind is stripping away about 100 grams of atmospheric gas every second.” Drawing a playful parallel, MAVEN scientist Dave Brain told reporters at the event, “I can’t help but imagine hamburgers flying out of the Martian atmosphere, one per second,” explaining, “It’s instead oxygen and carbon dioxide that are leaving the planet, which are important both for water and for the climate of the planet overall.” The Denver Post notes that the overall objective of the MAVEN mission is “to solve the mystery of Mars,” adding that the findings “can help scientists determine whether Earth might someday meet the same fate as the red planet.” At the news conference, Dave Brain, mission co-investigator, said, “The answer is mostly yes,” noting, “Earth is losing atmospheric particles, but Earth has a big global magnetic field that shields the atmosphere from the solar wind.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 November 2015
New Horizons Sets Course For 2019 Target

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgSPACE reports that the New Horizons spacecraft “completed the last of four trajectory-altering engine burns” on Wednesday, adding that the vehicle is “now on course to a small body called 2014 MU69, which lies more than 1 billion miles … beyond Pluto,” and that if approved, the mission “will study 2014 MU69 up close in January 2019.” Highlighting the four course adjustments, Curt Niebur, New Horizons program scientist at NASA, said in a statement, “These course adjustments preserve the option of studying an even more distant object in the future, as New Horizons continues its remarkable journey.” Space Reporter also reports on the story. (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 November 2015
British, U.S. Officials: “Significant Possibility” Bomb Caused Russian Plane Crash

RussianPlaneCrash_Egypt_1Nov2015_AP.jpgSeveral media sources report on the latest developments surrounding the crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt last weekend, centering on comments made on Wednesday by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Reuters reports that in a statement to Sky Television, Hammond said, “We’ve looked at the whole information picture, including that claim [that the Islamic State caused the crash], but of course lots of other bits of information as well, and concluded that there is a significant possibility.” On Wednesday, unnamed U.S. officials “say evidence now suggests that a bomb planted by Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate … was the likely cause of the crash.” The AP reports that while a U.S. official said there are “intercepted communications” that suggest ISIL is responsible, “other officials cautioned that intercepted communications can sometimes be misleading and that it’s possible the evidence will add up to a conclusion that there was no bomb.” The New York Times reports that an European Union official “said an initial inspection of the flight data recorder...indicated that the recording ceased abruptly, evidence that would support the theory of a midair explosion.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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5 November 2015
NASA Announces Search for New Astronauts

BruceMcCandless_STS-41-B_NASA.jpgOn Wednesday, NASA issued a press release announcing that it “will soon begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates,” which will “carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars.” As crew members of the International Space Station, the astronauts “will continue the vital work advanced during the last 15 years of continuous human habitation aboard the orbiting laboratory, expanding scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies.” In a statement, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” adding, “Those selected for this service will fly on U.S. made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space.” The Washington Post notes that in 2011, when NASA issued a call for applications, the agency received “over 6,100 applications and only selected eight as potential future astronauts,” constituting a 0.1 acceptance rate. (Image Credit: Wikipedia/NASA)
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5 November 2015
NASA to Announce ISS Cargo Contract Awards

DragonAtISS_CreditNASA.jpgUSA Today reports that as early as Thursday, NASA is set to announce the awardees of several multi-billion contracts that “will establish the fleet of U.S. vehicles servicing the International Space Station” between 2018 and 2024, and possibly “introduce a new spacecraft to Kennedy Space Center,” depending on the winner. According to USA Today, SpaceX and Orbital ATK, already under contract, aim to continue their cargo delivery services, “while Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp. hope to claim a piece of the action that could be worth up to $14 billion.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 November 2015
U.S. Satellite Imagery Detected “Heat” Near Russian Jet Before Crash

RussianPlaneCrash_Egypt_1Nov2015_AP.jpgAs the investigation into the recent crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt continues, much of the reporting focuses on U.S. satellite imagery having identified heat around the jet as well as the possible repercussions from the discovery. While the U.S. has ruled out a missile strike, the cause of the crash is still unknown and some other form of terrorism remains a possible explanation despite Egyptian and Russian efforts to downplay the likelihood. The AP reports that U.S. satellite photos “detected heat around” the Russian jet that crashed in Egypt on Saturday, according to American officials; however “the discovery doesn’t resolve the mystery of why the plane crashed.” The AP mentions that “the infrared activity...could mean many things, including a bomb blast” or an engine explosion, but an official indicated that a missile strike “was ruled out because neither a launch nor an engine burn had been detected.” USA Today reports that on Tuesday, investigators began examining the data and cockpit voice recording black boxes located in the wreckage of the Russian jet. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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4 November 2015
NASA to Reveal Finds On Mars Atmosphere Thursday

MarsMission_JPLNASA.jpgSPACE reports that on Thursday, NASA will host a press conference to announce its “new findings on [the] fate of Mars’ atmosphere.” According to SPACE, the speakers listed for Thursday’s event indicate that “the press conference will report discoveries made by NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, which has been studying the Red Planet from orbit since late 2014.” SPACE notes that the principal objective for MAVEN, or Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, is to examine “how, why and when the Red Planet lost most of its atmosphere.” Moreover, according to NASA officials, “Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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3 November 2015
Google Aims to Start UAV Package Deliveries In 2017

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpgReuters reports that on Monday, David Vos, head of the Project Wing initiative at Google, told the audience at the annual conference of the Air Traffic Control Association outside of Washington, DC, that the company expects to start using UAVs to deliver packages to customers as early as 2017. At the conference, Vos, who is also co-chair of the FAA’s UAV registration task force, said that Google is engaged in discussions with the FAA and other relevant stakeholders to develop an air traffic control system for UAVs that would coordinate UAV flights below 500 feet using Internet and wireless communications technology, adding that he would prefer to see low-altitude Glass G airspace allocated to the devices.  According to the Washington Post, “Google later confirmed Vos’s remarks, saying the service would use its Project Wing technology to deliver parcels, but the company declined to say where the deployment may occur.” (Image Credit: Google/YouTube)
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2 November 2015
AIAA: Ease Travel Restrictions for Government Employees

SandyMagus.jpgIn an op-ed for the Washington Post, Sandra H. Magnus, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), contends that the “well-intentioned restrictions” that Congress has placed on the travel of federal employees to scientific and technical conferences has “diminished their ability to engage in the collaboration with private-sector peers that is so critical to scientific innovation.” Magnus notes that a recent report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “revealed that federal workers often have to wait months to receive approval to participate in conferences...preventing many scientists and engineers from accepting speaking roles.” In response to these restrictions, Magnus writes that AIAA has partnered with “more than 100 scientific and engineering organizations to advocate the immediate easing of travel restrictions on federal employees seeking to attend science and technology conferences.” (Image: AIAA Executive Director Sandra H. Magnus)
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2 November 2015
Atlas V Launches, Deploys GPS Satellites Into Orbit

AtlasVLaunch_Feb2010_NASA.jpgThe Washington Times reported that army officials have announced that the prototype testing of an unmanned Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk was successful. According to the Paul Rogers, director of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, “The unmanned ground vehicle moved through a 10-kilometer scenario where it faced different chemical, biological hazards and then fed that data back via satellite.” The article mentions that older Black Hawks could be retrofitted with the new technology. (Image Credit: Sikorsky)
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2 November 2015
Unmanned Sikorsky Black Hawk Successfully Completes Test Run

Sikorsky_S-97Raider_Sikorsky.jpgThe Washington Times reported that army officials have announced that the prototype testing of an unmanned Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk was successful. According to the Paul Rogers, director of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, “The unmanned ground vehicle moved through a 10-kilometer scenario where it faced different chemical, biological hazards and then fed that data back via satellite.” The article mentions that older Black Hawks could be retrofitted with the new technology. (Image Credit: Sikorsky)
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29 October 2015
Atlas V Launch Postponed Until Saturday

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel reports that the launch of an Atlas V rocket, “originally scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday,” has been postponed until noon on Saturday after the discovery of a gas leak during recent launch preparations. The Sentinel notes that the rocket will launch carrying the Air Force’s GPS IIF-11 communications satellite, and that it will be the third Atlas V launched this year by United Launch Alliance. (Image Credit: NASA)
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29 October 2015
Google, Amazon Participating On UAS Task Force

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Washington Post reports on the FAA’s UAS registration task force, which includes representatives from Google X, Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy, as well as representatives from the aviation industry and government officials. The Post notes that the purpose of the registry “is to keep tabs on hobbyist drones to make sure they don’t get in the way of manned aircraft or put other people in danger,” and may require private UAS pilots “to carry the equivalent of airplane tail numbers for identification.” NBC News. also reports. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)



29 October 2015
Unmanned Military Surveillance Blimp Breaks Free, Comes Down In Pennsylvania

USAFAerostat.jpgThe Washington Post reports that one of the two unmanned surveillance blimps that the U.S. military “uses to watch the East Coast from a base in Maryland” became detached from its tethers on Wednesday “and floated aimlessly over Pennsylvania, downing power lines and cutting off electricity for tens of thousands of residents.” According to NORAD, “two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to ensure it didn’t collide with other aircraft.” After “drifting more than 100 miles,” the blimp came down close to Moreland Township in Pennsylvania, leaving “a trail of damage in its wake.” The Los Angeles Times reports that officials were concerned that “the blimp could drag its tether over a city or a power plant, or collide with an aircraft,” but noted that it “steadily deflated as it rode the winds and was not shot down by the F-16s.” According to the Times, an official from the Department of Homeland Security said that the state police in Pennsylvania had “cordoned off the crash site to make sure none of the blimp’s secret high-tech radar and electronics were stolen.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force)
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28 October 2015
Northrop Grumman Wins Historic Bid to Build Next-Generation Bombers

JointStrikeFighter_Wiki.jpgThe New York Times reports that the Pentagon announced on Tuesday that Northrop Grumman has been awarded a multi-billion contract to develop the next-generation Long Range Strike Bomber for the U.S. Air Force, outbidding a joint team from Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The Los Angeles Times notes that the contract consists of two parts, and that in the first stage, “Northrop will receive more than $20 billion to develop the bomber,” while in the second, the company will be paid $550 million for each of the 80 to 100 bombers it is expected to deliver. The AP reports that at a Pentagon news conference, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stated, “The long-range strike bomber will support America’s defense strategy by forming the backbone of the Air Force’s future strike and deterrent capabilities.” The AP notes that the selection signifies “an important step in the Pentagon’s broader plan to modernize the entire nuclear force,” which includes “submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range bombers.” According to The Hill, while the specific capabilities of the fighter jet are classified, “the broad strokes expected to be included are stealth, the ability to carry conventional and nuclear weapons, and the ability to possibly operate both with or without a pilot.” (Image: "NextGenBomber." Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia)
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28 October 2015
Navy Appoints First Chief of Unmanned Systems

X-47B_CarrierDeck_USN.jpgReuters reports that on Tuesday, the U.S. Navy announced that Brigadier General Frank Kelley has been appointed as the very first deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy for unmanned systems. Reuters notes that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that Kelly is highly qualified to lead this new initiative, while adding that Mabus created the position in April to address the growing importance of UAS. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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27 October 2015
Air Force to Announce $80 Billion Bomber Award On Tuesday

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgReuters reports that on Monday, Wal-Mart filed a request with the FAA for permission to test unmanned aerial vehicles for its home delivery and pickup services, in addition to other tasks aimed at improving its distribution system. The move is part of a broader company initiative to enhance its ability to compete with Amazon for online delivery services. The Washington Post adds that the retailer specifically intends to employ aircraft for four distinct services, including home delivery, grocery pickup, aerial data collection, and inventory and distribution control. The New York Times notes that while individuals are currently allowed to fly UAVs, “federal regulations still prohibit their commercial use.” The Times reports that according to experts, one major obstacle to lifting the prohibition “will be convincing regulators that operators can safely fly drones out of their field of vision.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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27 October 2015
Air Force to Announce $80 Billion Bomber Award On Tuesday

JointStrikeFighter_Wiki.jpgBloomberg News reports that according to defense officials, the Air Force intends to announce the awarding of its $80 billion contract to develop its Long-Range Strike Bomber fighter jet as early as Tuesday. The officials added that on Friday, Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, informed senior leaders at the Pentagon of the winning selection from the final round of proposals submitted by Northrop Grumman and a joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin team. In an interview, Richard Aboulafia, a Teal Group defense analyst, said, “It’s the biggest airframe contract of the decade at a pivotal moment in the industrial base,” adding, “it’s fascinating.” Flightglobal reports that the contract is “the biggest deal since the Joint Strike Fighter award to Lockheed 14 years ago on 26 October 2001, and there are compelling reasons for the decision to go either way.” (Image: "NextGenBomber." Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia)
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27 October 2015
Cassini Spacecraft to Fly Through Plume of Saturn Moon On Wednesday

Cassini_NASA.jpgSPACE reports that on Wednesday, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will travel just 30 miles above the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, “flying through and sampling the plume of material that erupts from the satellite’s south polar region.” In a press conference on Monday, Curt Niebur, Cassini program scientist at NASA, said that this coming Wednesday, “we will plunge deeper into the magnificent plume coming from the south pole than we ever have before, and we will collect the best samples ever from an ocean beyond Earth.” The Daily Mail adds that Niebur also said, “‘This incredible plunge through the Enceladus plume is an amazing opportunity for [NASA] and its international partners on the Cassini mission to ask, ‘Can an icy ocean world host the ingredients for life?’” (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 October 2015
American Airlines Reports Record Quarterly Earnings

AmericanAirlines_Wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that on Friday, American Airlines announced a record profit for the third quarter of 2015 with $1.7 billion in earnings (an increase of $942 million from a year prior); a 17.7 percent pretax profit margin (an increase of 6.7 percent from 2014); and $10.7 billion in revenue (a 3.9 percent decline from 2014). Additionally, revenue based on per passenger mile decreased by 6.8 percent from 2014, though overall expenses declined by 12 percent as jet fuel costs fell by 43 percent. Moving forward, American Airlines said that for the fourth quarter of the year, “it expects its pretax margin to be 12 to 14%”; a one percent quarterly increase in capacity, and a 5 to 7 percent year-on-year decrease in revenue per passenger mile. The carrier also announced “another $2 billion share-repurchase plan to be completed by the end of next year,” for a total of $6 billion in share buy-backs “authorized this year.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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26 October 2015
Atlas V Rocket to Launch Friday

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgFlorida Today reported that United Launch Alliance (ULA) is set to launch its third rocket this month, the Atlas V, at around noon on Friday, together with a GPS satellite payload for the U.S. Air Force. Florida Today added that the “upcoming mission follows ULA’s successful launches on Oct. 2 of a Mexican communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and less than a week later of an intelligence satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 October 2015
NASA Developing Next-Generation UAV Integration

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgFlightglobal reported that NASA intends to conduct beyond line-of-sight testing of its UAV traffic management (UTM) system in October 2016, adding that the agency is planning “to help enable low-scale, low-altitude UAV integration in the next five years, followed by a ramp-up of these low-altitude operations to enable more routine use of the systems alongside manned aviation by 2030.” Noting the importance of the system, Parimal Kopardekar, manager of the NextGen concepts and technology development project at NASA Ames Research Center, told attendees at The Commercial UAV Show in London, “You need some way to manage the density of systems that we will see in the next 10 years.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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23 October 2015
United Announces Third-Quarter Earnings, Interim CEO Says Company to Stay On Target

UnitedAirlines_Wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Thursday, United Continental Holdings announced a profit of $1.7 billion, or $4.53 per share, for the third quarter of 2015, compared to earnings of $924 million, or $2.37 per share, reported for the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, profits for United Airlines’ parent company decreased by 2.4 percent, over the past year, to $10.3 billion. Noting that the company was “crimped by a lack of pricing power,” Bloomberg News reports that United’s earnings per share for the quarter missed the $4.55 average of 15 estimates compiled by Bloomberg, while its revenue met “analysts’ estimate of $10.3 billion.” According to Bloomberg News, “even United’s fuel savings from the rout in global crude prices weren’t enough to blunt the pressure on airfares from U.S. discount carriers and in overseas markets including China.” Notably, United reported an average jet fuel cost of $1.97 per gallon for the quarter, compared to $3.02 a year prior. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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23 October 2015
Space Launch System Finishes Critical Design Review

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASA.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel reports that the Space Launch System (SLS), “designed to carry astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft into deep space,” has successfully completed its critical design review, signaling “the first time in nearly 40 years a manned rocket by the agency has achieved this stage in development, according to a NASA release.” In a press release, John Honeycutt, SLS program manager, said, “We are moving forward with building this rocket,” adding, “We are qualifying hardware, building structural test articles, and making real progress.” International Business Times notes that the SLS “was designed to be NASA’s most powerful rocket ever ahead of the journey to Mars.” Additionally, in a statement, Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Division, said, “this review gives us confidence that we are on the right track for the first flight of SLS and using it to extend permanent human presence into deep space.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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23 October 2015
NASA Cancels Plans For Commercial Launch Pad

KSCLaunchPads_NASA-CoryHuston.jpgUSA Today reports that after an evaluation of proposals, NASA “has decided not to award either of two potential sites for development of commercial vertical launch pads that had been dubbed pads 48 and 49.” In a press release, the Kennedy Space Center stated, “While no decision has been made at this time to issue another (Announcement for Proposals), as demand grows, Kennedy will look to make the sites available for commercial partnerships in the future.” (Image: "LC39A and LC39B." Credit: NASA/Cory Huston)
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22 October 2015
Boeing Announces 25-Percent Profit Increase In Third Quarter, Record Number of Commercial Aircraft Deliveries

BoeingDreamliner787.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Wednesday, Boeing announced that its profit increased 25 percent in the third quarter based on a record number of commercial aircraft deliveries. For the quarter, Boeing reported a profit of $1.7 billion, or $2.47 per share, compared to $1.36 billion, or $1.86 per share, a year prior, and a quarterly revenue of $25.8 billion, representing an 8.7 percent increase. In addition, Boeing increased its full-year earnings expectations “for 2015 by five cents a share to a range of $7.65 to $7.85, and increased revenue expectations by $500 million to a range of $95 billion to $97 billion.” USA Today reports that during the third quarter, Boeing delivered 199 commercial jetliners for almost “$17.7 billion in record revenue, compared to 186 deliveries for $16.1 billion” a year prior.  (Image Credit: Boeing)
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22 October 2015
Lockheed’s Enhanced F-16V Fighter Makes First Flight

LockheedMartinF-16_USAF-Wiki.jpgFlightglobal reports that the newest model of the Lockheed Martin F-16 has made its first flight, “with a range of equipment enhancements including an active electronically scanned array...radar,” adding that the aircraft is “aimed at potential export customers, including Indonesia.” Flightglobal notes that additional enhancements on the F-16V model include “the addition of a centre pedestal display for the pilot, plus a modernised mission computer, other new avionics equipment and an updated electronic warfare system.” (Image Credit: USAF/Wikipedia)
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21 October 2015
NASA Captures Images of Sun’s Coronal Hole

coronalHoleSun_NASA.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel reports that NASA has released an image of a so-called coronal hole in the sun taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on October 10 that “was more than 50 times the size of the earth, and was responsible for a geomagnetic storm outside Earth’s atmosphere that gave our planet several nights of auroras.” Noting that the term does not literally refer to a hole, the Sentinel notes that the observed coronal hole is actually “a part of the sun that’s cooler with less energy, allowing the magnetic field to dissipate and have solar flares escape.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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21 October 2015
Commentators Caution FAA On Breadth of Drone Registration Plans

DJIPhantom3_AssociatedPressAlexBrandon_Purchased.jpgFollowing the FAA’s announcement this week that it plans to develop a system for registering recreational drones, several commentaries suggest the agency needs to exercise discretion in selecting devices subject to the regulation. Criticizing the plan in the Boston Herald, Jessica Van Sack says that the regulators’ oversight of consumer drones is “below their pay grade and beyond superfluous,” and could “crush sales” of smaller models if they are included. She believes that they should “Enforce the laws we already have” instead. Alexander Howard writes in the Huffington Post that “the proposal is running into some skepticism” amid “unclear criteria for what constitutes a drone.” A “task force of government regulators and industry stakeholders” will make that determination, which could include thresholds for weight and use. Hobbyists and industry members with whom the Post spoke with questioned “whether creating a drone registry is feasible or wise,” suggesting it could lead to higher costs for the emerging industry as well as privacy issues. Similarly, a Washington Times editorial says “where to draw a line between small toys for backyard use and more airworthy machines is the key” to a successful registry. (Image: DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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21 October 2015
Orionid Meteor Shower Expected to Light Up Sky Wednesday Night, Thursday Morning

MeteorShower_NASA.jpgThe Daily Mail (UK) reports on the Orionid meteor shower set to occur this week, noting that “astronomers are expecting a spectacular show.” The meteor shower consists of “remnants of Halley’s Comet, which was last seen in 1986, and is not due to brighten the Earth skies until 2061.” According to the Daily Mail, those living in areas without a lot of light pollution will be able to observe the spectacle, which will peak on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. (Image Credit: NASA/Pete Lawrence)
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20 October 2015
Federal Regulators to Require Registration of UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased2.jpgIn continuing coverage, the New York Times reports that in an effort to “discourage mischief and negligence among drone pilots,” federal regulators are developing “a new system to require owners to register their unmanned aircraft.” On Monday, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said that his department had “formed a task force to come up with the details for the registration process,” adding that the group has been asked “to deliver a report with its findings by Nov. 20, with the goal of putting them into place by December.” Noting the “unusually speedy process for a new aviation rule with the potential to affect millions of drones,” Foxx said, “We feel the level of urgency here is sufficient for us to move as quickly as we possibly can.” The AP notes that the move is prompted by concerns over “rising reports of close calls and safety risks involving drones.” According to Foxx, “pilot sightings of drones have doubled since last year, including near manned airplanes and at major sporting events, and there are reports of interference with wildfire-fighting operations.” USA Today reports that Foxx said, “We want to ramp up on enforcement,” adding that violators could face up to $25,000 in FAA fines and possible criminal penalties. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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19 October 2015
FAA, NTSB to Announce Federal UAS Registry Plans On Monday

scottKelly_NASA.jpgSeveral media sources are reporting that Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta are expected to announce new regulations for overseeing commercial UAS operations in the coming days. The regulations are expected to require all private users to register their systems with the federal government to assist in accident prevention efforts and alleviate public safety concerns. The Wall Street Journal reports that — according to a draft news release that it obtained — on Monday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will announce its plans to require all commercial UAV operators, excluding those with minimal safety risk, to register their devices with the federal government. According to the Journal, the DOT reportedly intends to create a task force consisting of government and industry officials to develop specific policy recommendations with regards to the implementation of the new registry, including details related to the overall registration process and the criteria for inclusion in the registry. Bloomberg News notes that in the case of a UAS-related incident, “a registry may help the government track down the operator.”  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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19 October 2015
Astronaut Scott Kelly Breaks American Record for Most Days In Space

scottKelly_NASA.jpgUSA Today reported that, according to NASA, Friday marked the 383rd day that astronaut Scott Kelly has spent living in space, breaking the American record. On Friday, Kelly posted messages to his followers on Twitter, saying, “records are meant to be broken,” adding that one of his colleagues will likely break his record when NASA sends astronauts to Mars. According to the AP, “Kelly and his ex-astronaut twin Mark, on the ground, are part of an experiment on the long-term effects of space.” Providing additional detail, Inquisitr, notes that Kelly wrote in a blog entry on Facebook, “Scientists are observing the changes in my body over a year to learn how to live in space longer, all so we can venture further into space on a journey to Mars or other destinations.” Florida Today noted that by the end of his mission in March, 2016, Kelly will have spent 522 days in space, but that Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka holds the “overall human record” with 879 days in space.  (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 October 2015
Final US Airways Flight Completes Trip, Lands In Philadelphia

FinalUSAirwaysFlight_Oct2015_AP-Purchased.jpgIn continuing coverage, the AP reported that the last US Airways flight landed at Philadelphia International Airport at 5:54 am ET on Saturday after departing from San Francisco on Friday evening. The AP notes that the flight number of the aircraft, 1939, was assigned for the founding year of the carrier.  Meanwhile, Flightglobal featured an extensive analysis examining whether the revenue forecasts for the merger between American Airlines and US Airways have been met two-and-half years after then-CEOs Tom Horton and Doug Parker, respectively, “outlined at least $1.05 billion in annual revenue synergies by the end of 2015 at a cost of about $1.2 billion on three years.” Flightglobal notes that “the revenue results are mixed,” but adds that “analysts are largely willing to give American a pass on the revenue benefits, at least through 2016.” (Image: US Airways flight 1939, the final US Airways flight, prepares to depart Philadelphia International Airport for Charlotte, N.C. on Friday, 16 Oct. 2015. All future flights will fly under the American Airlines banner, following the completion of a merger announced in 2013. Credit: Associated Press ©)
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16 October 2015
Final US Airways Flight to Depart Friday Evening

USAirwaysFlight_Wiki.jpgUSA Today reports that a flight from San Francisco to Philadelphia late Friday night will mark “the last ever departure under the US Airways name as the carrier’s merger with American nears completion.” After the plane has departed San Francisco on Friday evening, USA Today notes, “American will unify its own reservations systems for the flights of both airlines.” In addition, according to USA Today, American Airlines will “commemorate the last day with gate-side festivities at each stop.” In a statement, American Airlines spokeswoman Martha Thomas said, “We definitely wanted to give a nod to US Airways and everyone that helped us build this airline.” According to CBS Money Watch, “Airline passenger advocates are marking U.S. Airways’ passing as another setback for air travelers.” In a statement, Charlie Leocha, chairman and co-founder of Travelers United, said, “Prices are going to be going up, capacity (the number of available seats) will be held as low as possible, so that demand is kept high, and we’re not in a very good position anymore.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia/SvdMolen)
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16 October 2015
NASA Releases Saturn Moon Images Taken by Cassini Spacecraft

Enceladus_NASA_Oct2015.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel reports that on Thursday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released three processed images, and additional unprocessed footage of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, taken by the Cassini spacecraft on October 14 when it flew within 1,140 to 6,000 feet of the lunar surface. According to the Sentinel, “Cassini captured Enceladus’ fractured and heavily cratered north pole.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 October 2015
Delta Reports Record Profits Because of Lower Fuel Costs

DeltaFlight_Wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Wednesday, Delta Airlines reported a record profit of $1.32 billion for the third quarter of 2015, representing a $357 million increase over the previous year. In addition, the earnings-per-share reported by the airline increased to $1.65 for the most recent quarter compared to just 42 cents the year prior. The Journal notes that decreasing fuel costs contributed to half of the $2.2 billion profit reported by the airline before excluding special items. (Image Credit: Wikipedia/Gietje)
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15 October 2015
Bombardier Says CSeries to be Certified by End of Year, Fully Committed to Jet

Bombardier_CSeries_Wikipedia.jpgReuters reports that Canadian aerospace company Bombardier said that it is on schedule to meet the certification requirements for its CSeries CS100 jetliner by the end of the year, and that it is fully committed to bringing the aircraft to market, despite having failed to secure any new orders over the last year. At the ERA regional airlines conference in Berlin, Ross Mitchell, vice president of Business Acquisition at Bombardier, said that the company is in discussions with airlines in Europe but declined to comment on specifics with respect to timing. Comtex News Network features a press release issued on Wednesday by Bombardier, announcing that “its all-new CS100 aircraft has successfully completed over 90 per cent of the certification program and is now in the final stage of flight testing,” adding that “production ramp-up is underway, including the first aircraft for launch operator, SWISS.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia/Yan Gouger)
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15 October 2015
NASA Selects Primary Payload Missions for CubeSats

ISSCubeSatLaunch_Wiki.jpgUSA Today reports on the three companies that the Launch Services Program (LSP) at the Kennedy Space Center has chosen “to fly demonstration missions carrying to orbit bunches of small satellites known as CubeSats, some measuring as little as 4 inches on a side and weighing just a few pounds.” According to USA Today, “the Launch Services Program hopes the contracts...help the new vehicles prove by April 2018 that they are ready to serve a growing demand for launches of small satellites.” The Orlando Sentinel reports that Jim Norman, director of Launch Services at NASA, said in a press release, “LSP is attempting to foster commercial launch services dedicated to transporting smaller payloads into orbit as an alternative to the rideshare approach and to promote the continued development of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia/NASA)
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14 October 2015
Dutch Report Says Russian-Made Missile Brought Down Malaysian Airliner

MalaysiaAirlinesFlight17_Wiki.jpgABC World News reported that on Tuesday, Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra said that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 “crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane,” and investigators found “tell-tale fragments of a Russian-made BUK missile” in the bodies of the plane’s pilots. Russia, however, rejects the findings, “saying that [that] missile is no longer in its arsenal. The Washington Post reports that the “long-awaited findings...offered a chilling account of the devastation” aboard the airliner, but they “left unresolved the central question of responsibility.” The New York Times reports that while the findings “stop short of assigning responsibility for the crash, a task that has been left to Dutch prosecutors, they appear consistent with a theory widely promoted by the authorities in the United States and Ukraine: that the plane...was shot down by Russian-backed separatists armed with an SA-11, or [BUK], surface-to-air missile launcher.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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14 October 2015
AeroVironment To Sell Raven UAS To Seven Allied Nations

RQ-11BRaven_Wiki.jpgReuters reports that UAS-developer AeroVironment has announced that it has won an $18.5 million firm-fixed-price contract from the U.S. Army to supply initial RQ-11B Raven Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, spare components and other services to seven allied nations through the Foreign Military Sales program. Reuters notes that the Raven is currently the most widely used UAS around the world. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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14 October 2015
SpaceX Says Upgraded Falcon 9 Rocket to Launch by Early December

SpaceXFalcon9_Launchpad_NASA.jpgReuters reports that on Tuesday, at the International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem, Lee Rosen, vice president of Mission and Launch Operations at SpaceX, said that the company expects that its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket will be ready for launch at the start of December, less than six months after an earlier model of the rocket exploded after liftoff. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 October 2015
Boeing Announces Plane Orders Through Three Quarters of 2015

BoeingDreamliner787.jpgThe Motley Fool reports that last Thursday, Boeing publicly announced the number of plane orders it received from January through September, including 516 gross orders along with 69 cancellations, for a net total of 447 orders. (Image Credit: Boeing)
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13 October 2015
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Findings to be Released Today

MalaysiaAirlinesFlight17_Wiki.jpgUSA Today reports that on Tuesday the Dutch Safety Board will publish the final report of its investigation into the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster. According to USA Today, the latest report has sought to address four key questions including: “What caused the crash? Why was the plane...flying over a region in the throes of a violent separatist conflict? Why did it take up to four days for some relatives of the victims to receive official confirmation their loved ones were on the flight? To what extent were passengers and crew aware of what was happening?” USA Today notes that the report will not directly address who was responsible for the crash, adding, “The Dutch Safety Board has repeatedly stressed that its mission is not to apportion blame.” Bloomberg News also reports on this story. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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9 October 2015
U.S. Navy Tests F-35C Fighter Jets

F35_Wikipedia.jpgReuters reports that two Lockheed Martin Corporation F-35 fighter planes successfully completed a second round of flight tests off of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower located 100 miles off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. According to Reuters, the tests evaluated the effectiveness of a redesigned helmet during night flights and the ability of the planes to take off at lower airspeeds. In a statement, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John Haley told reporters on board the carrier that the F-35C is about two years away from being operational. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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8 October 2015
FAA Plans to Test UAV Detection Technology

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe FAA announced on Wednesday that, through a partnership with CACI International, it will test technology intended to detect and track UAVs flying near airports. The AP reports that the FAA said the technology will enable the government to “track radio signals used to operate drones within a 5-mile radius and identify the operator’s location.” FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker noted that “One of the biggest challenges we’re having is locating the operator.” According to USA Today, Whitaker told the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation that the “testing could be conducted safely without interfering with normal airport operations.” Reuters reports that Whitaker said that the FAA is also testing other technologies, such as geo-fencing, to address the spike in UAV flights near airports. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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8 October 2015
Atlas V Scheduled To Launch NRO Mission This Morning

AtlasV_Vandenberg_USAF.jpgFlorida Today reports that United Launch Alliance “aims to launch its second Atlas V rocket in less than a week with a blastoff planned Thursday morning from California’s Central Coast.” The rocket “is targeting a liftoff at 8:49 a.m. Eastern time (5:49 a.m. local time) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying a classified mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. ‘We are excited and ready to take on our first Atlas launch of 2015,’ said Col. J. Christopher Moss, commander of the 30th Space Wing, in a statement Wednesday. ‘Our team and mission partners have put a lot of hard work into preparing for this important mission for our nation.’” SPACE reports that “a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch the NROL-55 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that operates the United States’ spy satellites, at 8:49 a.m. EDT (1249 GMT) Thursday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.” (Image Credit: freerepublic.com / U.S. Air Force)
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7 October 2015
NTSB: Engine Failure Behind British Airways 777 Fire

BA777Fire_Sept2015_AP_1.jpgThe AP reports that the NTSB released its updated findings regarding British Airways Flight 227, which was taking off from Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport on September 8, and had to abort its departure due to a fire, saying that the blaze started with the spool in the left engine. All 170 people aboard the flight managed to safely exit the plane, some sustaining minor injuries. “We’re doing a full pare down of the spool and analysis of the components,” said Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE Aviation. The company “said that the spool, which holds the blades in the GE90-85B engine, was among the first ever made for that model in 1995,” the article reports, adding that “The manufacturer is voluntarily analyzing 38 similar spools ... awaiting maintenance and repairs.” GE explained this is the first engine failure of its kind. NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss “said there’s no talk about grounding any planes with similar spools.” The Wall Street Journal reports that the NTSB said that GE is “performing high-priority, focused inspections” of similar engines to assist investigators. The Board explained that the fire started in the high-pressure compressor. The Seattle Times adds that investigators from the FAA and GE “are trying to narrow down the possible causes and the number of engines to be inspected.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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7 October 2015
FAA Proposes $1.9 Million Fine Against SkyPan for Unauthorized Drone Use

UnmannedHelicopter_APurchased_1.jpgNBC News reports on its website that the FAA has proposed a $1.9 million fine against Chicago drone company SkyPan for having conducted 65 unauthorized drone flights “between March 21, 2012, and Dec. 15, 2014” in “congested airspace and heavily populated cities.” NBC notes that SkyPan has 30 days to dispute the allegations. CNN Money adds that the unauthorized flights were conducted in New York City and Chicago. SkyPan told CNNMoney that “it had not yet reviewed the case and could not comment on the fine.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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6 October 2015
Boeing Says Third-Quarter Commercial Plane Deliveries Were Up

Boeing787Dreamliner.jpgThe Wall Street Journal that Boeing said deliveries of commercial airplanes were up seven percent in the third quarter. Boeing delivered 199 commercial aircraft in the quarter, compared with 186 in the third quarter of 2014. Boeing said it delivered 37 787 Dreamliners, up from 31 a year earlier. (Image Credit: Boeing)
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6 October 2015
More Than 1,700 Teams Express Interest In SpaceX Hyperloop Competition

hyperloop-artistsImpression_creditTeslaMotors.jpg Fortune reports that “more than 1,700 teams reportedly registered for or expressed interest in” the SpaceX Hyperloop competition. The final competition, “open to both university and independent teams, will be at a SpaceX-built test track in California in June 2016. Pods for the competition won’t be full-size, but SpaceX’s initial requirements document says they’ll have to have braking, levitation, communications, and monitoring systems.”  (Image Credit: Tesla Motors)
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5 October 2015
ULA Launches 100th Rocket, But Finds Itself Under Pressure from Congress, Competitor

ULA_100thLaunch_CreditULA.jpg Florida Today reported that United Launch Alliance “celebrated” its 100th launch on Friday, with an Atlas V rocket carrying a Mexican communications satellite. “With competition likely to reduce ULA’s government launch schedule, the company must start to compete for commercial satellite missions like” the recent launch. ULA CEO Tory Bruno said that the company needs the revenue from Atlas V launches for “continuing development of the Vulcan” rocket. He added that Congress needs to allow the company to buy more Russian rocket engines for the Atlas until the Vulcan and its American engines are ready. Reuters reported that the Mexican Morelos-3 communications satellite will provide cellular voice, data, Internet, and video services.  The Washington Post reported that ULA “for years has had a monopoly on launching Pentagon payloads to space,” until SpaceX recently received Air Force certification, allowing it to compete for contracts. Meanwhile, the Atlas’ rocket engine is “entangled in a messy political fight that could threaten its ability to compete at all.” Congress banned using the RD-180 engine for national security launches after 2018 due to “tensions with Russia,” and the domestic BE-4 engine that the company is working on with Blue Origin isn’t expected to be ready in time to replace it. Bruno said the company needs at least 14 RD-180 engines, but Congress has only proposed allowing four. Claire Leon, the Air Force’s launch enterprise director, “said senior officials are working with Congress to loosen the restriction” or to get a waiver from the Secretary of Defense. (Image Credit: ULA)
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5 October 2015
GE Building Additive Manufacturing Research Center

AdditiveManufacturing_GE.jpgThe Pittsburgh Business Times reported on General Electric Co.’s 125,000-square-foot additive manufacturing research center being built in the Pittsburgh area. The plant will be “a testing ground for different businesses to tap into additive technologies.” Greg Morris, general manager for Additive Technologies at GE Aviation, said, “From prototyping to tooling there are many opportunities to use additive throughout GE’s business to make us more efficient and reduce overall costs.” (Image Credit: GE)
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5 October 2015
House to Hold Hearing On UAS Safety

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Hill reported that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee has scheduled a Wednesday hearing to discuss methods for “ensuring aviation safety in the era of Unmanned Aircraft Systems [UAS].” There is “tremendous pressure” from companies to expand nonmilitary UAS use, and law enforcement groups are seeking approval to use the technology.  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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2 October 2015
One Million Drones Could Be Given as Gifts This Holiday Season

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgCiting a report from Aviation Week, the NBC News website reports that Rich Swayze, assistant administrator for Policy, International Affairs, and Environment at the FAA, recently said at a conference that about one million drones could be given as presents over the holiday season this year. The article notes that on Thursday, the FAA told NBC News that the “number is not an official administration projection for holiday sales.” According to NBC News, Swayze was at the conference discussing the “broader issue” of “how to balance a growing industry around civilian drone use with privacy and safety concerns.” Meanwhile, Forbes notes that Swayze said that the FAA has launched an education initiative aimed at drone manufacturers and retailers “and others who see them as this year’s hot Christmas gift items.” The article says that the FAA is concerned over “toy drones” but Swayze argues that “while not entirely harmless, [toy drones] do not pose a threat serious enough to warrant spending much of the agency’s expensive time, or our tax dollars on.”  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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2 October 2015
Pentagon Restricting Lighter Pilots From Flying F-35 While It Fixes Ejection Seat Issues

F35_Wikipedia.jpgReuters reports that the Pentagon announced on Wednesday that it will restrict pilots weighing less than 136 pounds from flying F-35 fighter jets while it addresses issues with ejection seats that could injure them during a low-speed ejection. The ban was introduced after tests showed the seat would rotate too far forward during a low-speed ejection by a lighter pilot, which could cause injury to his or her back or neck, according to a defense official. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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1 October 2015
ULA Set for 100th Launch On Friday

AtlasV_NewHorizons_Launch_NASA.jpgUSA Today reports that Friday morning’s scheduled launch “of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be United Launch Alliance’s 100th mission since the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture was formed nearly nine years ago. A celebration befitting the milestone surely will follow a successful launch of the Mexican government’s Morelos-3 communications satellite during a 20-minute window” beginning at 6:08 a.m. (Image Credit: Wikipedia/NASA/Kim Shiflett)
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1 October 2015
Northrop Grumman Wins Pentagon Global Hawk UAV Contract

GlobalHawk_USAF.jpgReuters reports that Northrop Grumman has won a Defense Department contract for continued development, modernization, and maintenance of all Air Force variants of the Global Hawk UAV. The contract is valued up to $3.2 billion. (Image Credit: Wikipedia/USAF/Bobbi Zapka)
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1 October 2015
Airbus Finds “Minor Damage” On A320neo Engine After Tests

AirbusA320neoNewEngineOption_Airbus.jpgReuters reports that Airbus said it found “minor damage” on an A320neo jet’s engine after a recent flight test. Airbus said it still plans to start delivery of the new plane before the end of 2015. Spokesman Clay McConnell said, “We had findings of minor damage on one engine, which we’re evaluating. Our target remains unchanged to start aircraft deliveries this year.” MarketWatch reports that the A320neo test plane “was undergoing hot-weather testing in the Middle East when the incident occurred in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
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30 September 2015
NASA Faces Conundrum Over Next Steps In Search for Mars Life

Curiosity-on-Mars_NASA.jpgThe Guardian (UK) reports that while NASA is “celebrating their discovery of liquid water on Mars,” the agency now faces “some serious questions about how they can investigate further and look for signs of life on the red planet. The problem is how to find life without contaminating the planet with bugs from Earth.” NPR reports on its website that “the site where the water was found is off-limits to Curiosity” because the rover “may still be carrying some bacterial spores from Earth, and the last thing NASA wants to do is seed Mars with Earth bacteria.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 September 2015
Airbus Develops SHARP Option for A320neo

AirbusA321neo_CreditAirbus.jpgAir Transport World reports that Airbus “has developed an aerodynamic option” called the SHort AiRfield Package (SHARP) “for the A320neo to improve its short field performance.” SHARP “is designed to increase lift at low speeds and improve takeoff and landing performance on short runways.” It also “includes a Kevlar composite panel modification to the wing’s root fillet fairing to improve landing performance.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
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30 September 2015
NASA Improves Orion Heat Shield

OrionHeatShield_NASA.jpgAmericaSpace reports, “Engineers working on NASA’s Orion capsule are taking a different approach to building the heat shield that will fly on Exploration Mission (EM)-1. The next version Orion heat shield will be able to withstand the extreme environments Orion will encounter on the second unmanned flight test traveling deeper into space.” Improvements to the heat shield design “will save money and cut the current manufacturing time by about two months.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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29 September 2015
NASA Announces Evidence of Liquid Water On Mars

EvidenceWaterOnMars_NASA-JPL.jpgNASA’s Monday morning announcement of the strongest evidence yet that liquid water is flowing or has flowed recently on the surface of Mars was covered by all three broadcast networks and most major national newspapers, as well as by many online science publications. ABC World News cited NASA as saying a “Mars mystery” had been revealed. “There is flowing water and ice, so, could there be life?” asked network anchor David Muir. Bloomberg News reports that “The holy grail of space exploration is to find extraterrestrial life. An important precursor to that is finding liquid water — and that’s exactly” what NASA announced. Reuters reports that NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld told reporters that “It suggests that it would be possible for life to be on Mars today.” USA Today reports that “until now, ‘we thought of the current Mars as a barren, extremely dry and cold desert,’ SETI Institute planetary scientist Janice Bishop ... said via email. ‘What is new and exciting here is that this provides evidence for liquid water on Mars in the current environment.’” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
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29 September 2015
Conditions Look Favorable for Friday’s Atlas V Launch

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgFlorida Today reports that “The early forecast looks good for a pre-dawn Friday launch of a Mexican government communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with meteorologists predicting a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions.” United Launch Alliance hopes to launch an Atlas V rocket with Mexico’s Morelos-3 spacecraft at around 6:08 a.m. The “liftoff just over an hour before sunrise would be the 57th by an Atlas V rocket and ULA’s 100th mission since the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture was formed in 2006.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 September 2015
NASA Expected To Announce “Major Science Finding” About Mars This Morning

Mars-creditNASAJune2013.jpgABC World News briefly reported on Sunday evening that “NASA is preparing for a big announcement tomorrow, after this tweet: ‘Mars mystery solved?’ And lots of ideas out there. Some theories: ‘This better be aliens,’ ‘Water on Mars of course.’” USA Today reports that NASA “announced last week that the agency will reveal a ‘major science finding’ from its exploration of Mars” at a Monday morning news conference. Participants include “Jim Green, NASA director of planetary science; Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program; Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta; Mary Beth Wilhelm of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. and the Georgia Institute of Technology and Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment at the University of Arizona in Tucson.” CNN reports on its website that “three of the scientists slated for the news conference are listed as authors of a new paper to be delivered at this week’s European Planetary Science Congress. In it, the researchers say analysis of imaging from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter proves that seasonal dark streaks on the Martian surface are the result of briny water periodically flowing across the planet’s surface.” The confirmation of water on Mars “would be important and would raise a host of questions, chief among them: Where is the water coming from, and what does it mean for the prospect of life, past or present?” (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 September 2015
NASA Says UAV Traffic At Wallops Could Increase Tenfold Once New Airstrip Opens

UAVLandsAtWallops_NASA.jpgThe Delmarva Daily Times reported that NASA predicts that UAV traffic at the Wallops Flight Facility “could increase up to 10-fold” once a new airstrip dedicated to such flights opens. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International “recently put the total economic impact of drones during the first three years they were integrated into the national airspace in the United States at more than $13.6 billion, with more than 70,000 jobs created.” (Image: NASA's Global Hawk unmanned aircraft descends for landing at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., on 7 September 2012. Credit: NASA)
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25 September 2015
Scientists Unable to Explain Features In Hi-Res Color Image of Pluto

NewImage_of_PlutosSurface_Sept2015_NASA.jpgUSA Today reports that on Thursday, NASA released “the first hi-res color shot of the planet” Pluto developed from New Horizons data. The image has “a remarkable range of subtle colors, enhanced in this view to a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges and deep reds.” William McKinnon from Washington University in St. Louis said that the image also shows a region with features “more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology,” which will require more time to explain. In its coverage of the “breathtaking” new images, the Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog notes that New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern said that the high resolution color images “turned a new page in the study of Pluto.” The Orlando Sentinel “Go For launch” blog reports that John Spencer with the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team said that in the new image, “many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a wonderfully complex geological and climatological story that we have only just begun to decode.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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25 September 2015
Officials Outline Two Potential SLS Launch Sequences for Humans to Reach Mars

ExpMission-1_NASA.jpgNASA Space Flight reports that a NASA Technical Interchange Meeting has laid out “two potential hardware launch sequence options” for the Space Launch System (SLS) “to utilize SLS’s capabilities while realizing human exploration of Mars.” The first would use Solar Electric Power (SEP) units “to pre-deploy elements to near-Mars space before human Phobos and Mars transit missions begin.” The other “involves a hybrid of SEP and storable chemical propulsion systems for both the crew and cargo missions,” reducing the number of required launches to reach Phobos. (Image Credit: NASA/YouTube)
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24 September 2015
FAA Grants Approval to NFL to Use UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Washington Post reports that the FAA granted NFL Films permission to use UAVs, making it the first major sports league to receive authorization. The Post notes that the authorization will not allow the NFL to use drones to film live games. However, they can use UAVs to “gather footage from closed-set locations around NFL stadiums and practice facilities to make films and television segments.” The NFL will also be required to submit flight plans three days in advance and maintain drone speeds under 100 miles per hour.  The Hill adds that the NFL’s petition was approved “under a section of federal law that allows the Transportation Department to waive requirements for FAA approval for drone flights that are operated outside of restricted airspace and below 200 feet.” USA Today adds that Steve Marks, an aviation lawyer in Miami, said that while the NFL could make the use of UAVs more popular for advertising purposes, the use of UAVs over crowds “remain[s] risky for crashing after suffering a mechanical defect or losing the link to the remote pilot.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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24 September 2015
Next F-35C Tests Aboard Carriers Will Include Improved Helmet, Internal Weapons

F35_Wikipedia.jpgReuters reports that during the next round of Lockheed Martin F-35C tests aboard Navy carriers, pilots will be using the improved Generation-3 helmet, and the jets will be fully stocked with internal weapons, although these will not be fired during the tests.(Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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24 September 2015
Engineers Only Need Seven Main Welds to Construct Orion

OrionHeatShield_NASA.jpgMika McKinnon at io9 writes that through their “ingenuity,” engineers working on the Orion module have “cut down the number of main weld-points from 33 to just 7 in the latest prototype, dramatically reducing mass by the equivalent of several astronauts.” McKinnon comments that he was “seriously impressed” that the engineers found a way to “dramatically” reduce the weight by 320 kilograms. (Image Credit: NASA)
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23 September 2015
ULA To Use Only Orbital ATK Boosters for Atlas V Rockets Starting In 2018

AtlasVLaunch_NASA.jpgThe Denver Post reports that on Tuesday United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced that Orbital ATK will become “the sole provider of solid rocket boosters for ULA’s Atlas V launch vehicle in 2018 and its upcoming Vulcan launch system in mid-2019.” Those boosters had been supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne until now. According to the article, “many industry analysts” think that Aerojet Rocketdyne’s attempt to purchase ULA was “a ploy to guarantee its AR-1 engine is chosen to power Vulcan, rather than the favored BE-4 engine.” (Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)
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23 September 2015
Officials Say F-35 Is Unmatched by Any Other Jet Under Development

F35_Wikipedia.jpgFlightglobal reports that after the unveiling of Norway’s first F-35A, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), and F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan praised the F-35 as being unmatched when compared to other jets under development today. Kendall said that no plane is “seriously competitive.” Bogdan also countered criticisms that the F-35 could not outmaneuver Russia’s and China’s next-generation fighters. Bogdan said that any encounter would “end very, very quickly.” Defense News reports that Kendall also said that Canadian suppliers will still be “an essential part of the program, even if the nation does not buy the aircraft.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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22 September 2015
NASA Explains Reality Of Martian Dust Storms

MarsDustStorm_NASA.jpgThe ABC News website reports that via a blog post, NASA explained just how strong Mars’ winds are in advance of the debut of the movie, “The Martian,” which features “powerful winds.” NASA said that in actuality, “even the wind in the largest dust storms likely could not tip or rip apart major mechanical equipment. The winds in the strongest Martian storms top out at about 60 miles per hour, less than half the speed of some hurricane-force winds on Earth.” Scientist William Farrell added, “The key difference between Earth and Mars is that Mars’ atmospheric pressure is a lot less. ... So things get blown, but it’s not with the same intensity.” The article notes that this fact-check should help moviegoers “impress ... friends.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 September 2015
FAA Approves Over 1,500 UAV Flight Exemptions

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe Hill reports that the FAA has approved 1,546 Section 333 exemptions for nonmilitary UAV flights, as part of its “continuing effort to safely expand and support commercial unmanned aircraft operations in U.S. airspace,” The FAA said in a statement that it granted many of the exemptions to “allow aerial filming for uses such as motion picture production, precision agriculture and real estate photography, The agency also has issued grants for new and novel approaches to inspecting power distribution towers and wiring, railroad infrastructure and bridges.” The article notes that companies like Amazon that want to use drones to make faster online deliveries have pressured the FAA to approve nonmilitary UAV use. (Image Credit: Associated Press - Purchased)
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21 September 2015
China’s Long March-6 Rocket Launched For First Time

LongMarch-6Rocket_Wiki.jpgAFP reports that on Sunday, China launched the Long March-6 rocket for the first time. Carrying 20 small satellites, the rocket is designed “for carrying satellites aloft.” The article notes that the rocket was first announced in 2009, but was originally scheduled to make its first launch back in 2013. According to Xinhua (CHN), the Long March-6 is the first Chinese rocket “that uses fuel free of toxicity and pollution,” which Gao Xinhui, an official at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said reduces “costs by a great margin.” NASA Space Flight described the launch as “a new era in its space exploration” for the nation. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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21 September 2015
Airbus Package Will Help A320neo Perform Better On Short Runways

AirbusA320neoNewEngineOption_Airbus.jpgFlightglobal reported that Airbus is working on a “performance-enhancement package” that would modify the A320neo so that it performs better “on short runways.” The optional package includes “a composite panel modification to the wing-root fairing which will ‘optimise’ airflow, and enable slower approach speeds.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
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21 September 2015
Bolden: NASA Closer to Manned Mission to Mars Than Ever Before

MarsMission_JPLNASA.jpgSPACE reported that as part of an event on Thursday to discuss NASA’s plans to send a crew to Mars, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “We are farther down the path to sending humans to Mars than at any point in NASA’s history. ... We have a lot of work to do to get humans to Mars, but we’ll get there.” NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman and Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, as well as Andy Weir, author of “The Martian,” took part in the event, which was broadcast live on NASA TV. As examples of the progress now being made, officials cited the work on the SLS and Orion, the one-year ISS mission, and the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) heading to Mars in 2020. Bolden added, “I have no doubt that we can accomplish what we have set our minds to do.” (Image Credit: JPL/NASA)
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18 September 2015
New Images Highlight Pluto’s Hazy Atmosphere

Pluto_Image_NASA_Sept2015.jpgThe CBS Evening News broadcast that NASA released more new images of Pluto from the New Horizons flyby. The images reveal an atmosphere “made up of more than a dozen thin, hazy layers, and a mountain range in striking detail.” The AP reports that the images also show “dramatic backlighting” from the sun. Principal Investigator Alan Stern said that the new views make “you feel you are there.” Rachel Feltman at the Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog calls one of the new images of Pluto “one of the most beautiful planetary images ever.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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18 September 2015
Electric Propulsion Systems Will Open Up Aircraft Designs

Electric_Plane_Crosses_EnglishChannel_AP-Purchased2.gifIn an article appearing in its print edition, The Economist, reports on the possibilities stemming from using an electric propulsion system on planes, saying that this method “provides the opportunity to build radically different aircraft.” Mark Moore, a principal investigator into electric flight at Langley Research Center, said the distributed electric propulsion (DEP) that the agency is researching “enables a fundamental shift in how we design aircraft.” After testing “a DEP wing mounted above a truck,” NASA next plans to begin test flights under the Sceptor program in 2017. The article notes that Airbus is developing its own E-Thrust plane, but that “is further from the runway.” (Image: Airbus Group SE’s electric two-seat E-Fan demonstrator plane Credit: Associated Press - Purchased)
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17 September 2015
Orion’s First Manned Flight Pushed Back Until 2023

ExpMission-1_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that on Wednesday, NASA officials stated that there is not “much confidence” that the Orion capsule could launch in 2021 on its first manned flight because of the “history of running into unexpected problems in new programs.” The article notes that officials will still aim for 2021, but the official launch date has been reset to 2023. While there are no current hardware or software problems causing the delay, NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said, “We have to account for those because we’ve got a lot of runway in front of us here before we get there, and those things could pop up.” The Washington Post “The Switch” blog reports that Lightfoot said that NASA needed to assume a delay to be “prepared for unforeseen future hurdles. We’re committing to this funding and readiness level to stay on the journey we’ve outlined to get to Mars.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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17 September 2015
Naval Postgraduate School Students Create Swarm Of 50 UAVs

UAV-Swarm-DefenseTech.jpgDiscovery News reports that a Naval Postgraduate School project led to the creation of a “record-breaking drone swarm,” in which 50 UAVs were all piloted by a single operator. The custom UAVs used a Wi-Fi-based system to communicate and create a “cooperative flight plan” that could lead to “potentially useful and even life-saving applications down the road,” such as aiding search-and-rescue efforts. (Image Credit: DefenseTech)
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16 September 2015
Blue Origin Will Launch Payloads and Crews from Florida

CapeCanaveralSpaceport_wiki.jpgThe AP reports that on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos announced that Blue Origin will build rockets that can launch “science payloads and people — including space tourists and even himself” — into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company, which plans to begin launches by the end of the decade, will use “a Florida launch complex that was last used in 2005.” The Wall Street Journal reports that the announcement is good news for those wanting to commercialize activities around Kennedy Space Center. The Los Angeles Times notes that Bezos also plans to test Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine in Florida. According to the Washington Post “The Switch” blog, Blue Origin is among “a growing number of commercial entities that are slowly transforming the Cape into what NASA calls a ‘multi-user spaceport.’” These efforts have been “propped up” by NASA’s decision to use commercial companies for resupply missions to the ISS. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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16 September 2015
Sweden Installs First Remote-Control ATC Tower

RemoteControlledATC_OrnskoldsvikAirportSweden_CreditLFV.jpgThe AP reports that Ornskoldsvik Airport in northern Sweden is the first airport in the world in which its air traffic controllers will guide aircraft remotely using cameras installed at the airport. Similar technology is currently being tested at several European airports and one U.S. airport. (Image Credit: www.airlinersnow.com/LFV)
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16 September 2015
Kelly Reaches Official Halfway Point of ISS Mission

scottKelly_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that ISS astronaut Scott Kelly officially reached the halfway point of his yearlong mission at the ISS yesterday. He said, “I’m not going to start counting days down yet. I think I’m going to wait until March, then I’m going to allow myself to count how many days I have remaining. I’m counting up for the time being.” To commemorate the occasion, Kelly spoke with some of the cast of “The Martian” who were at the Johnson Space Center. He told them he wished he had the “the ability to leave here. Something people don’t recognize is that being on the space station is probably a lot like being in some kind of confinement — like isolation. ... Although I’m not claustrophobic at all, it would be nice to get outside.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 September 2015
North Korea Announces Space Rocket Launch

NorthKoreanUnha-3rocket_Wiki.jpgThe Washington Post reports that on Monday, North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration stated that it is “pushing forward in the final phase [with] the development of a new earth observation satellite for weather forecast,” a move that the U.S. and South Korea have been expecting as a way to test an intercontinental ballistic missile “capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.,” The announcement heightens “fears that Kim Jon Un wants to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party on Oct. 10 with a literal bang.” A North Korean defector living in Seoul, who says he’s in contact with those working on the North’s missile research program, said on Monday that North Korea will launch an intercontinental rocket from the Dongchang-ri site on October. 8. State Department spokesman John Kirby said any launch using missile technology would be a “clear violation” of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. The AP notes that the Korean Central News Agency said that the country has the “legitimate right” to develop its space assets “for peaceful purposes ... and the people of (North Korea) are fully determined to exercise this right no matter what others may say.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia, Sungwon Baik/VOA)
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15 September 2015
DARPA Interested In Developing “Transportation Hub” In Space

DragonBerthingAtISS_NASA.jpgSPACE reports that at DARPA’s “Wait, What? A Future Technology Forum” last Thursday, Pam Melroy, deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, discussed how the agency is interested in developing a “transportation hub” in geosynchronous orbit where spacecraft could be built and serviced robotically. Melroy said that such a system would require “robotic arms very much like the one that was used to build the International Space Station, but with greater levels of automation and safety. ... DARPA is building just such a robotic arm. ... We think this is a critical capability to building a transportation hub that allows” transportation “to and from the Earth’s surface, from low-Earth orbit to GEO, and even beyond Earth orbit.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia/NASA)
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14 September 2015
Airbus Opens New Production Plant In Alabama

AirbusA321neo_CreditAirbus.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that today, Airbus will open its first U.S. jetliner production facility in Mobile, Alabama. According to the article, analysts believe that the U.S. facility will be able to produce planes at a lower cost than similar facilities in Europe and gives it “potential leverage over its European workforce.” Bloomberg News reports that the new plant is part of Airbus’ plan for “challenging Boeing Co. for supremacy.” Deliveries from the plant should “start early next year ... with the production tempo increasing to four aircraft a month by early 2018.” Reuters notes that Airbus officials claim that the plant’s production rate can easily double to eight planes per month just by adding extra shifts. According to the article, the plant will also be the first one of its kind in the U.S. that will not be certified by the FAA. Instead, certification will be handled by the European Aviation Safety Agency. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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14 September 2015
Three ISS Astronauts Safely Return to Earth

ISSAstronautsReturn_12Sep15_NASA.jpgThe AP reported that astronauts Gennady Padalka, Andreas Mogensen, and Aidyn Aimbetov returned to Earth on schedule on Saturday in a Soyuz capsule. While Padalka spent 168 days at the station, giving him “a world record of 879 total days in space,” the other two astronauts only spent 10 days in space, with Mogensen and Aimbetov having the distinction of being “the first astronauts from their countries to fly into space.” Reuters, unlike the AP, said that Aimbetov was the third, not the first, Kazakh astronaut in space. Meanwhile, astronaut Scott Kelly is now the commander of the ISS. The article noted that he is also past the halfway point in his mission. (Image Credit: NASA)
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11 September 2015
Aborted British Airways Takeoff Was Due to “Uncontained Engine Failure”

BritishAirwaysTakeOff_Wikipedia.jpgThe New York Times reports that NTSB investigators “said on Thursday that they found multiple breaches in the engine of a British Airways aircraft that was forced to abort its takeoff on Tuesday at the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, suggesting the airplane had suffered an uncontained engine failure,” leading to the fire. Pieces of the high-pressure compressor spool were also found on the runway, and the NTSB said it planned to examine the engine in order to determine the cause of the failure. The Seattle Times adds that the “pieces of the high pressure compressor spool” found on the runway by the NTSB suggest “an explosive ejection of the inner parts of the jet engine through the walls of the pod that surrounds the engine.” Initial findings from the NTSB “revealed that the left engine and pylon, left fuselage structure and inboard left wing were substantially damaged by the fire.” The pilot managed to stop the plane and evacuate the passengers and crew. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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10 September 2015
Boeing Boosts Production of 767s

Boeing767_Boeing.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that Boeing has announced it will ramp up production of its new 767s from 1.5 per month to 2.5 per month by 2017, in order to accommodate a large order placed by FedEx. Boeing expects 767 production to reach two aircraft per month in early 2016; with construction of the new 767s taking place at a Boeing facility in Everett, Washington. The Everett Herald notes that FedEx’s order of 50 additional 767s placed in July is the “biggest single order for 767s in the program’s history.” The Seattle Times reports that a source said Boeing is in talks with UPS for “another large 767 order.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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9 September 2015
Aerojet Makes Offer for ULA

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that people familiar with the matter say that Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. made a $2 billion all-cash offer for United Launch Alliance (ULA), with an announcement possible next week. ULA has been under increasing financial and political pressures due to SpaceX offering lower-cost services and congressional disapproval of ULA’s use of Russian-built engines.  Reuters reports that a source said former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin could be offered the top spot in the separate unit of Aerojet that ULA would become. Aerojet Rocketdyne, which makes rocket engines, had been rejected by ULA in its efforts to adapt Aerojet’s AR-1 engine for ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket. ULA instead has sought to create a new rocket using an engine being developed by Blue Origin. (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 September 2015
Construction Continues On EM-1 Orion

ExpMission-1_NASA.jpgNASA Space Flight reports that the construction of NASA’s Exploration Mission-1 is underway at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The spacecraft is also in the “process of completing its all-important paperwork, as the Critical Design Review (CDR) process continues” in anticipation of its “key meeting” in October. Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters, said, “Every day, teams around the country are moving at full speed to get ready for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), when we’ll flight test Orion and SLS together in the proving ground of space, far away from the safety of Earth.” (Image Credit: NASA/YouTube)
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9 September 2015
Ohio Community College Unveils $5 Million UAV Center

UAV1_Wiki.jpgThe Columbus Dispatch reports that Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio unveiled its $5 million National Unmanned Aerial Systems Training and Certification Center. According to the Dispatch, the center “will provide students with access to 3-D advanced manufacturing, drone simulators, a wind tunnel and improved labs.” The facility will house about 120 UAVs, and nearly 500 students will take classes at the center during the first academic year. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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8 September 2015
Scott Kelly Assumes Command of ISS

scottKelly_NASA.jpgCBS News reported via its website that NASA astronaut Scott Kelly assumed command of the International Space Station on Saturday during a brief ceremony in the Japanese Kibo module. As he turned over command, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka said he regretted his impending departure but thanked the other crew members “for supporting each other and for working together.” Kelly praised Padalka’s wisdom and experience, saying “It’s really been a privilege and an honor to serve as one of his crew members.” The CBS Evening News also reports that Kelly took command of the ISS, adding that he “shared more stunning sights from space today,” including a “solar storm … captured from a window on the International Space Station.” Spaceflight Insider also reports on this story. (Image Credit: NASA)
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8 September 2015
Aldrin Discusses Mars Mission On “Face The Nation”

Buzz_Aldrin_Wiki.jpgThe CBS News website carries video of Sunday’s “Face the Nation” program, in which host John Dickerson interviewed Apollo 11 astronaut and author Buzz Aldrin and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about space exploration. Noting that Aldrin spoke of a mission to Mars on Face the Nation back in 1969, CBS News reports that, when asked this Sunday “why he thought a Mars mission had taken so long, Aldrin cited ‘growing public apathy’ as well as the enormous cost.” In Gingrich’s view, pork-barrel politics are also to blame. The article also notes that Aldrin “is the author of a new children’s book Welcome to Mars. Separately, the CBS News website provides a transcript of the program. Along with his new book, Aldrin also discussed his vision for colonizing Mars. He said, “I believe that this nation is the nation that can begin to” do that, and he praised American courage. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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8 September 2015
Technology, Regulatory Challenges Delay Advancement of UAV Delivery Services

Mini_UAV_Credit_YouTube_Amazon.jpgScientific American reports that technology and regulatory hurdles are likely to delay the widespread use of UAV deliveries in the near future. The article says that further development of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) system, which transmits data about an aircraft’s position and velocity to air traffic controllers and prevents midair collisions, is necessary for delivery UAVs. However, the article notes that the tool is not “useful” until everyone else in the air relies on the system as well, which will not happen until the FAA requires most aircraft to be equipped with it. (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
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4 September 2015
Soyuz Safely Docks at International Space Station

ISSCrew_Sept2015_NASATV.jpgReuters reports that the Soyuz TMA-18M carrying Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov, and Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday. According to Reuters, a NASA representative announced at 7:40 a.m. GMT that the Soyuz had successfully docked. SPACE reports that officials with NASA said that the hatches between the two spacecraft were scheduled to open at 10:15 a.m. GMT. After that, the new arrivals will join “the six crewmembers already there — cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko, Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka; NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren; and Japanese spaceflyer Kimiya Yui.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 September 2015
Aldrin to Discuss Vision for Mars On “Face the Nation”

Buzz_Aldrin_Wiki.jpgThe CBS News website carries a video clip of the 1969 interview that “space pioneers” Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins gave on the program “Face the Nation” after returning from their historic Apollo 11 mission. The website reports that “Aldrin will be back with us this Sunday, 46 years later, to talk about his vision for Mars.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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3 September 2015
Pioneering Space Will Require Technology, Profitability, Political Will

PioneeringSpace_SPACE2015.jpgDeep-space exploration to Mars and beyond will require a mix of new technological advances, financial enticements and political will. That was the verdict from a panel of experts Wednesday from AIAA's Space 2105 Forum in Pasadena, California. Moderator Greg Williams, deputy associate administrator for the human exploration and operations mission directorate at NASA, defined "pioneering space" as “an endeavor that is a mix of strategy and barely controlled chaos, of publicly funded activity and private-sector ventures which is very exciting.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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1 September 2015
Satellite Servicing Has Potential to Transform Space Industry

OnOrbitPanel_SPACE2015.jpgOn-orbit satellite servicing, which can breathe new life into inoperable spacecraft, could transform the space industry. From satellite inspection, to supporting a spacecraft launched into the wrong orbit, to active servicing tasks such as refueling or hardware replacement, spacecraft with the capability of rendezvousing and docking with other satellites could deliver enormous savings. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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1 September 2015
Amid Schedule Pressures, Progress Cited On NASA-Backed Commercial Crew Capsules

CommercialCrewPanel_SPACE2015.jpgThe New York Times reported that NASA has announced New Horizons’ next target: “a small, icy body known as 2014 MU69.” If NASA approves a mission extension, the spacecraft will visit the object, “an intermediate-size Kuiper belt object” which is “almost a billion miles beyond Pluto,” in 2019. The article noted that as the spacecraft closes in on 2014 MU69, it will take “more distant measurements of 20 other Kuiper belt objects en route.”NASA’s Kathryn Lueders had a quick answer when pressed by a digital questioner whether either of the commercial crew capsules in development by Boeing and SpaceX will be ready in time to get America back to launching astronauts to the international space station in 2017 as planned. “The goal is to fly when it’s the right time,” Lueders said during an Aug. 31 panel discussion at AIAA’s Space 2015 Forum in Pasadena, CA. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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31 August 2015
NASA Announces Second Target for New Horizons Spacecraft

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgThe New York Times reported that NASA has announced New Horizons’ next target: “a small, icy body known as 2014 MU69.” If NASA approves a mission extension, the spacecraft will visit the object, “an intermediate-size Kuiper belt object” which is “almost a billion miles beyond Pluto,” in 2019. The article noted that as the spacecraft closes in on 2014 MU69, it will take “more distant measurements of 20 other Kuiper belt objects en route.” The Orlando Sentinel “Go For Launch” blog reported that John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, said, “Even as the New Horizon’s spacecraft speeds away from Pluto out into the Kuiper Belt, and the data from the exciting encounter with this new world is being streamed back to Earth, we are looking outward to the next destination for this intrepid explorer.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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31 August 2015
Tropical Storm Erika Delays Atlas V Launch

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel  “Go For Launch” blog reported that United Launch Alliance (ULA) has decided to delay the launch of the Navy’s MUOS 4 satellite aboard an Atlas V rocket because of “the uncertainty of weather conditions produced by Tropical Storm Erika.” The launch will now take place no earlier than Wednesday. (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 August 2015
ISRO Conducts Successful GSLV Rocket Launch

ISRO_Launch_27Aug2015_ISRO.jpgThe Press Trust of India reports that the ISRO successfully launched the GSAT-6 satellite using a GSLV-D6 rocket with an indigenous cryogenic engine, making it the second successful launch in a row for the technology. The first time the rocket was sent into space was back in January 2014 following two failures in 2010. According to the article, the “precise text book launch” also was noted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who congratulated the team on its “phenomenal accomplishment.” The Times of India notes that ISRO Chairman A. S. Kiran Kumar said that the launch shows that India understands cryogenic engines, but it will take more successful attempts to “demonstrate the reliability of the launches. ... If we keep showing a good success rate, GSLV will be a good candidate for commercial launches.” Meanwhile, in contrast to the positive coverage from the media in India, Space News notes that it is not yet clear when India could produce and launch the GSLV frequently enough to make it “commercially competitive,” and whether there will be anything hindering “U.S.-built satellites or satellite components to be exported to India for commercial missions.” (Image Credit: ISRO)
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28 August 2015
NASA Tests Engine for Next-Gen Rocket

RS-25EngineTest_27Aug2015_CreditNASA.jpgPer a NASA release, the agency has completed the first series of developmental testing on its RS-25 engines, which will be used on the Space Launch System (SLS) for missions into deep space. The tests concluded Thursday following a seventh hot fire test from the A-1 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The test on the developmental RS-25 engine ran for 535 seconds. Steve Wofford, engines manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said, “The completion of this test series is an important step in getting SLS ready for the journey to Mars.” Testing of operational RS-25 engines for the first SLS missions is expected to begin at Stennis this fall. (Image Credi: NASA)
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27 August 2015
NASA Completes Its Third Cessna Crash Test

CessnaCrashTest_NASA_Aug2015.jpgPopular Science reports on Wednesday’s crash test of a Cessna aircraft by NASA as part of a study to try to improve emergency location transmitters (ELTs). This third test involved “a tail-first crash into soil, which flipped the plane but didn’t crush it in on its crash-test-dummy occupants so much.” Mashable notes that before the test, NASA said in a statement, “ELTs have to work in the extreme circumstances involved in an airplane crash. Included in those extreme circumstances are the possibilities of excessive vibration, fire and impact damage. ... NASA research is designed to find practical ways to improve ELT system performance and robustness, giving rescue workers the best chance of saving lives.” NASA added that this third test was specifically designed to be “severe but survivable.” The WAVY-TV Norfolk, VA website reports that NASA’s Lisa Mazzuca added, “Models only get you so far. ... You need the real data and then feed it into the models to make them even stronger.” SPACE also covers the story. (Image Credit: NASA Langley Research Center/YouTube)
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27 August 2015
Costs Limit Use of UAVs for Farming In Virginia

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe Newport News Daily Press reports that on Tuesday, Kevin Kochersberger of the Unmanned Systems Lab at Virginia Tech, said that Virginia farmers are interested in using UAVs, but the cost is currently “prohibitively expensive for all but the big agri-businesses.” Young Kim of Digital Harvest similarly noted that only the largest customers can afford the services, but this should change in the coming years “as the market evolves and technology and prices improve.” (Image Credit: Associated Press)
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27 August 2015
NASA Tests Whether Global Hawk UAV Could Replace Satellites In An Emergency

GlobalHawk_NASA.jpgThe WTKR-TV Norfolk, VA website reports that a Global Hawk UAV launched from the Wallops Flight Facility on Wednesday “for a 24 hour flight to study Tropical Storm Erika.” NASA said that one of the benefits of using this UAV is that it “allows data collection from 60,000 feet, an altitude nearly twice as high as manned aircraft, to the ocean surface.” The article notes that not only will more flights be made over the Atlantic Ocean, but NASA will try to determine whether the Global Hawk data could “replace data collected by satellites in the unlikely event that a satellite goes down." (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 August 2015
New Ceres Images Highlight Four-Mile-High Mountain

DawnImage_Ceres_Aug2015_NASA.jpgTIME reports on the latest images of the dwarf planet Ceres taken by the Dawn spacecraft, which feature a four-mile-tall mountain. The article notes that the spacecraft is already sending back images with “an impressively granular resolution,” which are expected to improve when the spacecraft descends to “just 25% of its current altitude, improving image detail dramatically.”  The CBS News website notes that the images also reveal more of the Occator crater, “along with its bright spots.” JPL’s Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, said, “The spacecraft’s view is now three times as sharp as in its previous mapping orbit, revealing exciting new details of this intriguing dwarf planet.” However, according to the article, scientists still cannot explain “the origins of the color and texture variations on the surface of Ceres.” The Christian Science Monitor reports that Rayman added, “Dawn is performing flawlessly in this new orbit as it conducts its ambitious exploration.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 August 2015
Global Hawk UAV Launches Today to Study Tropical Storm Erika

GlobalHawk_NASA.jpgNextGov reports that today, NASA and NOAA will launch a Global Hawk UAV from the Wallops Flight Facility to study Tropical Storm Erika for the preliminary phase of the “Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology” project. The article notes that a NASA press release claims that the information from the flights may bring “a drastic improvement in predicting such weather events as tropical storms, winter storms and major floods.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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25 August 2015
Japanese Spacecraft Arrives at ISS with Liquor Samples

JapaneseHTV_DocksAtISS_Aug2015_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that a Japanese cargo spacecraft arrived at the ISS on Monday with “six liquor samples” for experimentation. The article notes that these experiments are planned with “NASA’s blessing.” According to the article, the spacecraft carried “considerable equipment” to replace items lost when SpaceX’s launch attempt failed during the last cargo mission earlier this year, not to mention Orbital’s Antares launch failure last October and “a Russian cargo ship [that] went out of control in April.” The Los Angeles Times notes that whiskey expert Steve Ury doesn’t think the whiskey that Suntory shipped to the ISS will actually be any different from whiskey aged on Earth, calling the idea “an absurdity.”  CNN likewise spoke with whiskey expert Tom Fischer, who said that the experiment is more of a “gimmick” than actual science. The Orlando Sentinel “Go For Launch” blog similarly focuses on the alcohol that was part of the “Kounotori” HTV spacecraft cargo. (Image Credit: NASA/YouTube)
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25 August 2015
Airports Evaluate Possible Ban On UAV Sales

UAV1_Wiki.jpgThe Washington Post reports that airports are evaluating “whether to allow their retailers to sell drones following increased fears about potential collisions between drones and airplanes.” The article notes that while UAVs have become popular with vacation photographers, a recent report by the FAA revealed a rise in pilots reporting UAV sightings, raising new concerns about the risks UAVs pose to airports. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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25 August 2015
Orion to Undergo Parachute Test This Week

OrionParachuteTest_NASA.jpgPopular Mechanics reports that the Langley Research Center released a “roundup video” showing “50 glorious years of dropping things on the ground” for testing. Vehicles in the video include “early stage moon landers, crashtest dummies, experimental airplanes, helicopters, heat shields, whatever.” The article notes that later this week, the Orion capsule will be put through a parachute test, “dropping from a high altitude and deploying the parachutes in such a way to test what happens if they malfunction.” (Image: Orion Parachute Drop Test on 12 Feb. 2013. Credit: NASA)
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24 August 2015
UK Airshow Turns Deadly

ShorehamAirshowCrash_YouTube_JukinMedia.jpgOn the CBS Evening News, Jonathan Vigliotti broadcast that a military jet crashed into a busy road during the Shoreham Airshow in Sussex, causing “a massive fireball.” While the pilot survived the crash and is currently “fighting for his life at a local hospital,” at least seven others were killed. ABC World News broadcast that the pilot was “attempting a routine loop” when the jet began to “plummet,” although “it’s too soon to say what brought down the vintage jet.” The New York Times noted that “the crash was the second at the airshow in recent years.” Previously, stuntman Brian Brown was killed in a 2007 crash. BBC News reports that Shoreham Airshow officials are defending “the event’s safety record as police warn the death toll could rise.” (Image Credit: Junkin Media/YouTube)
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24 August 2015
NASA TV to Broadcast HTV Berthing Live

Kounotori_JapanHTV_Wiki.jpgFlorida Today, in a series of brief articles, reported that Japan’s HTV “Kounotori” cargo spacecraft is on track to arrive at the ISS on Monday, with NASA planning to broadcast the astronauts’ berthing of the vehicle on NASA TV.  The CBS Evening News broadcast that “Kounotori” is carrying the “fleet of toaster sized satellites” from Planet Labs, “part of a growing wave of opportunities far from Earth.” Reporter John Blackstone described how the 87 satellites already launched are making discoveries like finding “two remote towns” in Nepal no one knew existed, which allowed aid workers to send supplies following the recent earthquake. CEO Will Marshall said even with the recent launch failures, there is “a bit of a space renaissance” underway. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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24 August 2015
SCEPTOR Helps NASA Prepare for Next X-Plane Design

TecnamP2006T_NASA.jpgIn an article titled “NASA’s Electric-Propulsion Wing Test Helps Shape Next X-Plane,” Aviation Week reports that NASA’s Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology and Operations Research (SCEPTOR) test aircraft is allowing NASA to “demonstrate distributed electric propulsion,” which in turn is helping NASA understand “the challenges it will face” when it starts work on its next X-plane. (Image Credit: NASA)
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21 August 2015
Navy to Test F-35C Off USS Eisenhower In Early October

F-35C_USN.jpgDefense News reports that the U.S. Navy is planning upcoming sea trials of the F-35C, the “carrier variant” of the JSF, in early October aboard the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower. This will be the second phase of testing for the F-35C, in which the Lockheed Martin team will “evaluate the aircraft’s ability to launch and recover from the carrier, and its performance in suboptimal conditions and during night operations.” The Navy conducted initial sea trials from the carrier USS Nimitz near Southern California last November. (Image Credit: USN)
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20 August 2015
Investigators: 2013 Dreamliner Fire Caused by Short-Circuit

BoeingDreamliner787.jpgThe AP reports that Britain’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) released its final incident report on a 2013 fire on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Ethiopian Airlines at London’s Heathrow Airport. The report found that the fire was most likely caused by a short-circuit involving “crossed and trapped wires under the battery compartment” of the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter, which then “spread to the fuselage, which is made of composite material.” The AAIB recommended that the FAA collaborate with its equivalents in Europe and Canada to ensure that equipment operated with lithium-ion batteries contains “an acceptable level of circuit protection.” NBC News reports that a check of other Boeing 787s found “at least three other instances of crossed ELT battery wires.” Seattle Times reports that an FAA official said the agency “will have to go back and look at the effects of any new standards on existing aircraft,” but that the FAA has not yet addressed the new AAIB report. Boeing insists that it is “confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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20 August 2015
Japanese Cargo Spacecraft On Its Way to ISS

JAXA_HTV_ReadyForLaunch_18Aug15_NASA.jpgThe AP (8/20) reports that on Wednesday, JAXA launched its fifth HTV cargo spacecraft to the ISS, which is scheduled to dock on Monday. ISS astronaut Scott Kelly previously said that this cargo mission was “pretty important” for the program because otherwise the crew would be “pretty low on certain consumables probably in the late September, early October.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 August 2015
AIAA Marks National Aviation Day

WrightBrosFlyer.jpgAIAA celebrates National Aviation Day today, Wednesday, 19 August, the anniversary of the birth of Orville Wright. This day honors all who work in aviation and aerospace, and commemorates the sacrifices of the early aviation pioneers who first dared to prove that powered flight was possible. (Image: Wright Brothers Flyer. Credit: AIAA)
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19 August 2015
FAA Blames Software Glitch for ATC Failure

Controllers_Using_NextGen_FAA.jpgThe Washington Post reports that the FAA confirmed on Tuesday that a software update for NextGen’s En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system conducted by contractor Lockheed Martin was “to blame for the debacle Saturday that tied East Coast air travel in knots,” prompting “mass confusion for airlines with flights in and out of” the Washington, DC, region. The article suggests that the “silver lining for the beleaguered FAA...was that Congress is away on August recess,” because if lawmakers had been in session “at least a few House and Senate members” would have been stuck at Reagan National Airport.  According to The Hill, the FAA “is downplaying the impact of [the] air traffic control failure,” saying, “Despite the outage, air traffic controllers safely handled 70 to 88 percent of Saturday’s scheduled arrivals and departures at the region’s three major airports by using backup systems and procedures.” In its “Morning Transportation” briefing, Politico notes that while the FAA “backpedaled Monday night in admitting” ERAM’s update “was at fault,” the agency is “staying positive” about the system. (Image: Controller looking at an En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) display. Credit: FAA)
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19 August 2015
Teal Group Study Finds UAV Market Will Triple Over Next Decade

DJI_UAV_Wiki.jpgFlightglobal reports that according to a market study by the Teal Group, the UAV market “will more than triple in value over the next decade” to $14 billion with sales of about $93 billion over that same period. According to the article, the study found that the military will still account for 72% of the market, with “consumer UAVs at 23%, and 5% from the civil/commercial sector.” The article notes that this is the first time the Teal Group has included consumer UAVs when conducting the study. (Image Credit: Wikipedia/Alexander Glinz)
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18 August 2015
Lawmakers Demand Investigation Into FAA’s ATC System After “Flypocalypse”

ATC-at-Dulles.jpgThe Hill reports that lawmakers are demanding an investigation into the FAA’s En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system after the “troubled” air traffic control system “failed on Saturday, resulting in thousands of flights in the Washington, DC, area being delayed or canceled” in what Twitter users dubbed a “flypocalypse.” According to the article, “the FAA has attributed the problem to a software update that went awry” and “has sought to downplay any broader negative implications about the NextGen system.” The article notes that Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has praised the technology as a way for passengers “to get to their destinations, faster, safer, and have a smoother ride – all while burning less fuel to get there.” Air Transport World mentioned that “Foxx has said ERAM will mean fewer flight delays” as well as more energy efficiency. (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower. Credit: AIAA)
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18 August 2015
Pentagon Plans to Increase Number of Daily UAV Flights

MQ-9Reaper.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports in a front-page story that according to a senior defense official, in an effort to provide military leaders with more intelligence and increase firepower amid the growing number of hot spots around the world, the Pentagon plans to increase the number of daily UAV flights by 50 percent over the next four years. (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
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17 August 2015
Air Traffic Control Outage Cancels Flights Along East Coast

ATC-at-Dulles.jpgThe FAA stated that it was not “immediately able to determine” the cause of a system malfunction that led “airlines to delay or cancel hundreds of flights nationwide” on Saturday, the Washington Post reports. The FAA noted in a statement that it “is working closely with airlines to minimize impacts to travelers,” but that some passengers were not likely to “reach their destinations until Sunday.” Reuters reports that tens of thousands of travelers were affected by the cancellations and delays. In an online story, USA Today quotes FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen, who said, “The FAA is continuing its root cause analysis to determine what caused the problem.” The AP reports that flight delays began on Saturday morning and affected airports in “the Washington area” the hardest. At Reagan National Airport, around “50 percent of inbound and 42 percent of outbound flights” were “canceled,” while at Baltimore International the numbers were 58 percent inbound and 36 percent outbound. Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower. Credit: AIAA)
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17 August 2015
Air Force to Retire MQ-1 Predators In 2018

MQ-1_Predator.jpgFlightglobal reported that the Air Force plans to retire its General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1 Predators in 2018. The UAV “ushered in the armed drone revolution,” and has been slated for retirement since the “more capable General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper” came online in 2007. However, “the insatiable demand for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance and target strikes” delayed the originally scheduled retirement date. The article noted that even though “many retirement dates for the MQ-1 have come and gone,” its operation rate has decreased this year, and an Air Force spokesperson confirmed the timeframe. (Image Credit: Wikipedia / U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt)
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14 August 2015
2015 Sees “Dramatic Increase” In UAS Sightings Near Planes

UAV1_Wiki.jpgNBC Nightly News reported on a “dramatic increase in drones spotted flying near planes,” citing the FAA, and “now the government is looking for ways to take some of the air out of the high-flying hobby.” NBC said that the “latest high-flying scare” occurred in Fresno, California, when a drone was part of “a near miss” with a “medivac helicopter transporting a patient.” A new FAA report noted that “the number of incidents like this has tripled.” The Wall Street Journal cites the FAA who said that through August 9 pilots spotted UAS while flying over 650 times in 2015, as opposed to only 238 sightings last year. The AP reports that there were 137 UAS sightings by pilots in June and 137 in July, a sharp rise from the 16 and 36 sightings reported in June and July of 2014, respectively. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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14 August 2015
RS-25 Engine Undergoes Its Sixth Successful Test

RS-25_Test_Aug2015_NASA.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel “Go For Launch” blog reports that 1,200 people watched as NASA tested the “powerful RS-25 engine” at the Stennis Space Center on Thursday. The engine, which will eventually be used by the Space Launch System, was successfully fired for over eight minutes, making this “the sixth and next to last test firing of the RS-25 engine.” NASA is now “on schedule” to complete the testing this year. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 August 2015
Gulfstream G500 Flight Tests Resume Following Modifications

Gulfstream_G500_2.jpgFlightglobal reported that at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (LABACE) on August 10, Gulfstream announced that “after a break of ‘several weeks,’” G500 flight tests have resumed. The break was required to install “winglet and horizontal flutter vanes and the aircraft’s attitude recovery chute.” The company said that it also used the period to prepare pilots for the upcoming flutter tests. (Image: Flexjet chairman Kenn Ricci admires the Gulfstream G500 unveiled 10/14/14. Credit: AP Images)
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13 August 2015
Startup to Fly First Legal UAV Over New York City Today

DJI_UAV_Wiki.jpgBloomberg News reports that Aerobo Aerial Robotics will fly a UAV over New York City today “using a federal permit,” according to Jon Ollwerther, the startup’s vice president of Marketing and Operations. Bills have been introduced in the New York City Council that would limit most UAV flights while the FAA crafts regulations “for commercial use of the pilotless aircraft.” Councilman Daniel Garodnick has introduced a measure that would only allow law enforcement to operate UAVs. “We need to have the FAA act here. Until they do, it’s our job,” Garodnick said in an interview. While the agency “works on finalizing regulations for operating commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms), it has been granting exemptions to companies that qualify.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia/Alexander Glinz)
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13 August 2015
Suborbital Rocket With Student Experiments Launches from Wallops

Terrie-Improved_Malemute_Suborbital_SoundingRocket_Test_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that on Wednesday, a Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket carrying student experiments developed through the RockSat-X program launched from the Wallops Flight Facility. The article notes that NASA said that over “60 university and college students and instructors from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico” were on hand for the launch. (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 August 2015
HondaJet Awaits FAA Airworthiness Approval

HondaJet_CreditHondaJet.jpgFlightglobal reports that Honda Aircraft’s HondaJet is on its “world tour” while it waits for airworthiness approval from the FAA. According to the article, there is “no clear timeline” for when the approval could come. At the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (LABACE) yesterday, HondaJet Chief Executive Michimasa Fujino said approval could come in “late summer,” but that it really depends on the FAA. According to the article, the FAA has “a new ‘special condition’ for the HondaJet to prove its airworthiness.” (Image Credit: Honda Aircraft)
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12 August 2015
Commercial Crew Participants Continue Work On Their Spacecraft

Boeing_CST-100.jpgNASA Space Flight reports that even with the budget shortfalls to the Commercial Crew Program, Boeing continues to successfully reach milestones with its CST-100 spacecraft program. Currently, Boeing plans to make its first crewed mission to the ISS in August 2017, which “represents a four month cushion in the schedule toward December 2017.” Meanwhile, Chris Mills at Gizmodo writes that for the first time, SpaceX simulated a manned mission to the ISS, demonstrating that the avionics works as designed. (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 August 2015
Next Round Of Cubesat Launch Initiative Opens

ISSCubeSatLaunch_Wiki.jpgSPACE reports that NASA has initiated the next round of its Cubesat Launch Initiative to supply launch opportunities for small satellites developed by “NASA, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.” NASA wrote in a statement, “Selected experiments will fly as auxiliary payloads on agency rocket launches or be deployed from the International Space Station beginning in 2016 and running through 2019. .. To date, NASA has selected 105 cubesats from 30 states. Thirty-seven cubesats have been launched, and 16 more are scheduled to go into space in the next 12 months.” NASA will make its selection in February. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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11 August 2015
Astronauts Eat Food Grown In Space for First Time

ISS_Crew_EatsISSGrownFood_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that the ISS is in its “salad days of scientific research” because for the first time, astronauts ate red romaine lettuce grown in space. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren called it “awesome,” and Scott Kelly said it was like arugula. USA Today notes that NASA “streamed the harvest and first taste” on NASA TV. Kelly said, “Having the ability for us to grow our own food is a big step” toward sending people to Mars. The New York Times describes the event as “a long-awaited harvest for the astronauts.” According to the article, half of the crop will return to Earth for further tests. Gioia Massa, a NASA payload scientist who is in charge of the “veggie experiment,” said, “The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits.” (Image Credit: NASA/YouTube)
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11 August 2015
Aerial Assault Selling UAV That Can Assess Internet Network Strength

DJI_UAV_Wiki.jpgInternational Business Times reports that Aerial Assault is now selling a UAV that can “assess Internet network strength and relay details back to the drone’s owner” for just $2,500. According to the article, such a capability could help those looking “to infiltrate Internet networks in skyscrapers or hidden in out-of-reach areas.” Furthermore, an earlier version of the UAV with a WiFi connection would even have allowed someone “to sweep up data that passes through the connection, including credit card numbers, banking information and the like.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia/Alexander Glinz)
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10 August 2015
UAS Market Could Top $11.4 Billion by 2022

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgNorthern Nevada may be “well positioned” to capture part of the market for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the U.S., which “could top $11.4 billion by 2022,” reports the Reno Gazette-Journal. However, the Federal Aviation Administration “acknowledged that the size of UAS markets” are dependent on a number of “regulatory and legal structures that grow up around the industry.” The FAA has a Sept. 30 deadline to “issue rules to safely integrate commercial operation of unmanned aerial vehicles,” but the article cites numerous regulatory, political and potential liability issues with UAS. (Image Credit: Associated Press)
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10 August 2015
3-D Printed UAV Launched from Ship

UAV_LaunchesFromHMSMersey_CreditUofSouthhampton.jpgLiveScience reported on its website that engineers at the University of Southampton, in the United Kingdom, built a UAV using 3-D printing, and then successfully launched it from the Royal Navy warship HMS Mersey. The craft flew approximately 1,640 feet to land safely on shore. The SULSA UAV takes about 48 hours to print and cool before it’s ready to use; its four parts “click into place like a puzzle toy.” Engineers said that making “a robust, fast-flying drone” able to be easily assembled in under five minutes without bolts or screws was a “real challenge.” The “convenience” of such UAVs “may be invaluable for the military,” which could custom-design them and then print them on-site. (Image Credit: University of Southhampton/YouTube)
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10 August 2015
DARPA Awards Boeing Additional $6.6 Million For Space Plane Development

XS-1_SpacePlane_DARPA.jpgSPACE reported that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Boeing another $6.6 million to continue developing the XS-1 robotic space plane, bringing the contract’s value to $16.6 million. The goal is an unmanned vehicle that can “fly 10 times in a 10-day span and launch 3,000- to 5,000-lb. (1,361 to 2,268 kilograms) payloads for less than $5 million per mission.”  The Washington Times reported that the XS-1 “is meant to defend against the growing threat of Russian and Chinese space weapons.” The Telegraph (UK) also covered this story. (Image Credit: DARPA/YouTube)
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7 August 2015
Costs of Repairing Virginia Launch Site Will Be Split Three Ways

Wallops_Following_Antares_Explosion_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that under a renegotiated deal, Orbital ATK will pay for repairs to a launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport damaged during a failed ISS cargo mission and insure the pad for future launches. During the deal’s announcement on Thursday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said that his administration renegotiated the deal because “I did not like the idea that we launched a rocket and we had no protection for the state.” Orbital, NASA, and the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority will now evenly split the costs to correct the damage. The Hampton Roads (VA) Daily Press notes that McAuliffe called the new deal “historic...because there was a chance that our space activities going forward may not have occurred. ... It may have ended. And clearly if the rocket had landed on the pad and destroyed the pad — that $150 million investment — that might have been the end of space travel here in Virginia.” Meanwhile, Frank Culbertson, president, Space Systems Group, Orbital ATK, said that NASA told his company to work toward a March launch at the site because “we need as many launches as we can get to get cargo to the space station.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 August 2015
Rosetta Spacecraft Marks First Anniversary Orbiting Comet 67P

Rosetta_NASA_JPL.jpgThe ABC News website reports that the ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft is still returning “intriguing new images and insights” into comet 67P one year after entering orbit. Nicolas Altobelli, acting Rosetta project scientist, said in a statement that there has been “a wealth of information” obtained over the past year. The article notes that the mission could have “one of its biggest science days yet next Friday” when the comet reaches the closest point to the sun. SPACE reports that Paul Weissman, a mission interdisciplinary scientist, who just retired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday, said Rosetta will provide scientists “a continuous record of nearly three years of how a comet behaves, and how material comes off of it, and if it varies [as the comet] goes around the sun.” The article notes that Weissman and his team “will try again during the next New Frontiers opportunity, likely next year.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
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6 August 2015
Bolden Blames Need for New Soyuz Contract On Congress

Soyuz_Launches_June2015.jpgThe AP reports that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden wrote to Congress to inform members that because they did not provide full funding for the Commercial Crew Program, NASA will need to secure six Soyuz seats through 2017. NASA will have to pay “nearly $82 million a seat, up from $71 million a seat.” Furthermore, the article notes that Bolden indicated that the first commercial launches from the U.S. are “pushed back two years.”  USA Today reports that Bolden, who claimed that a 2017 launch from the U.S. is a “long shot,” wrote, “Congress, while incrementally increasing annual funding, has not adequately funded the Commercial Crew Program to return human spaceflight launches to American soil this year, as planned. ... This has resulted in continued sole reliance on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft as our crew transport vehicle for American and international partner crews to the ISS.” He added, “I am asking that we put past disagreements behind us and focus our collective efforts on support for American industry – [The] Boeing Corporation and SpaceX – to complete construction and certification of their crew vehicles so that we can begin launching our crews from the Space Coast of Florida in 2017.” The article is reprinted in Florida Today. (Image Credit: @RussianSpaceWeb #Soyuz)
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6 August 2015
RS-25 Engine to be Tested at Stennis On August 13

RS-25Engine_NASA2.jpgThe WHNT-TV Huntsville, AL website reports that NASA plans to test the RS-25 engine at the Stennis Space Center on August 13. Corey Harrell of the Marshall Space Flight Center said, “The RS-25 is one piece to the puzzle for us to eventually get [manned] flight to Mars.” Combustion Devices Engineer Paul Gradl added that because the engine has been changed since it was used on the space shuttle, “we want to understand all of these small changes because any small change could have an effect on the performance of the engine.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 August 2015
UAS Flies Beneath American Airlines Flight Landing In Phoenix

AmericanAirlines_Wiki.jpgThe AP reports that the Phoenix Police Airport Bureau said on Tuesday that American Airlines flight 605 was flying at about 7,000 feet on approach to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Sunday evening when the co-pilot spotted “a black-and-yellow, three propeller drone flying at about 100 feet below the jetliner’s nose.” “Flight 605 landed safely without having to alter its route, but the flight crew still reported the sighting to the Federal Aviation Administration,” according to the Arizona Republic. Per the Phoenix Business Journal, the incident prompted two members of the Phoenix City Council to call for a new “ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor to fly drones over private property without consent, to spy on others without their consent or to use an unmanned aerial vehicles as some kind of weapon.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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5 August 2015
First Russian RD-181 Engines Shipped to Orbital ATK In July

RD-80engine_Wiki.jpgSputnik News reports that the first two RD-181 rocket engines “under a $1 billion contract with” Orbital ATK were shipped last month, according to Energiya. The engines will be used in the company’s Antares rocket. Last year, Orbital said the Russian engines provided “the best combination of schedule availability, technical performance and cost parameters as compared to other possible options.” The RT notes that the delivery will allow the Antares rocket to begin making new runs to the ISS starting in early 2016. (Image: RD-180 test firing. Credit: Wikipedia)
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4 August 2015
Airbus Patents Plane That Flies Faster Than Concorde

X-51A_Demonstrator.jpgTIME reports that Airbus has just patented an “ultra-rapid air vehicle” featuring “new turbojets and a hydrogen power system,” that is able to travel “twice as fast as the Concorde.” The article notes that the patent was only approved for a period of one year, and that it is unlikely the vehicle will become “a reality any time soon.” The Business Insider similarly considers it “unlikely” that this jet, which could have both civilian and military applications, will ever fly as designed. However, there is a chance for some of the technology to become part of “Airbus’ other less extreme products.” The Daily Mail (UK) notes that Airbus is not alone in putting out designs for a hypersonic plane. The Air Force also has plans to design one by 2023, and has already tested vehicles such as the X-51A WaveRider, which achieved a speed of Mach 5.1 last year. (Image: X-51A WaveRider. Credit: Wikipedia)
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4 August 2015
Panel Discusses Mariner 4 Flyby 50 Years Ago

Mariner4Flyby_NASA.jpgThe Pasadena Star-News reports that “four NASA experts and one science fiction writer” took part in a panel at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to discuss the Mariner 4 spacecraft Mars flyby that took place 50 years ago. Gentry Lee, chief engineer for the Solar System Exploration Directorate, said, “Before that moment in all of history, human beings were free to think Mars could be anything they wanted it to be. ... In 1938, Orson Welles did a radio show ... story about the Martians landing, and there was panic all over the East Coast because someone actually believed the Martians landed in New Jersey.” Sarah Milkovich, a JPL science systems engineer, added, “Mariner 4 was the moment where Mars went from the hands of the astronomers into the hands of the geologists, and we’re starting to see that with the Pluto flyby.” Panelists also discussed ongoing efforts to send people to Mars. Lee, for instance, is skeptical that people will ever be sent to Mars because it is inhospitable. (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 August 2015
Virgin Galactic Addressing Issues Raised by SpaceShipTwo Crash

SpaceShipTwo_AP.jpgDoug Messier at Parabolic Arc lists what Virgin Galactic told the NTSB it was doing “to address issues raised by the crash of SpaceShipTwo last October.” In each entry, Messier notes the status of the corrections.  Meanwhile, Tech Insider reports that Roger Handberg of the University of Central Florida said that Virgin Galactic cannot succeed on just space tourist flights alone. Handberg believes that the company will achieve success by launching cubesats using its LauncherOne, although it will not completely abandon space tourist flights. (Image Credit: Associated Press)
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3 August 2015
Rogue UAV Interferes With Flights Landing at JFK

DeltaFlight_Wiki.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that on Friday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford announced that the F-35 is ready to engage in combat missions. The first squadron of 10 F-35Bs will operate out of Yuma Air Force Base. However, Mandy Smithberger, a director at the Project on Government Oversight, which has been critical of the jet’s cost, said the aircraft isn’t fully ready and was only cleared to meet a July target. Defense News noted that supporters “unsurprisingly” issued “swift and glowing” comments on the achievement. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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3 August 2015
F-35B Ready to Take Part In Combat Missions

F35_Wikipedia.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that on Friday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford announced that the F-35 is ready to engage in combat missions. The first squadron of 10 F-35Bs will operate out of Yuma Air Force Base. However, Mandy Smithberger, a director at the Project on Government Oversight, which has been critical of the jet’s cost, said the aircraft isn’t fully ready and was only cleared to meet a July target. Defense News noted that supporters “unsurprisingly” issued “swift and glowing” comments on the achievement. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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3 August 2015
ULA Begins Stacking Atlas V Rocket for Navy Launch

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgSpaceflight Now reported that the United Launch Alliance (ULA) is now stacking the Atlas V rocket that will launch the Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) 4 satellite on August 31. It will be part of “a run of military satellite deployments this summer” and the second Navy-related launch aboard an Atlas V rocket this year. The article also noted that before the year is out, an Atlas V will launch Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS. (Image Credit: NASA)
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31 July 2015
Facebook Creates Its First UAV, Which Will Eventually Use Lasers to Beam Data

FacebookUAV2_YouTube.jpgThe New York Times reports that Facebook “has moved several steps closer to fulfilling its grand ambition of building an Internet network in the sky.” The company announced on Thursday that it had constructed its “first unmanned drone and found a way to vastly increase the capacity of the lasers that will eventually beam data between the drone network and the ground.” A team in Great Britain has been building the Aquila solar-powered UAV for about 14 months, and it is now ready for its first in-flight tests, likely to be in the U.S. The Los Angeles Times notes that the UAV is “the size of a Boeing 737 aircraft.” A Facebook spokeswoman would not specify the company’s plans for flying the UAV because it is currently “discussing regulations with local governments.” Drone Analyst CEO Colin Snow said the project is “technically feasible” and realistic, although it could run into issues if there are “unexpected maintenance requirements or disruption from solar flares.” (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
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30 July 2015
Researchers Find Blood Samples Can Be Delivered By UAVs

TestDroneDeliversBlood_PublicLibaryofScience.jpgPopular Science reports that Johns Hopkins University’s Timothy Amukele led a joint study with Uganda’s Makerere University to see whether UAVs could deliver “a small amount of blood without damaging it.” Researchers flew samples “between six and 38 minutes in a hand-tossed drone.” The researchers discovered “no meaningful differences” between those samples flown on the UAVs and those that were driven to a hospital. Motherboard reports that Amukele believes that because blood samples can sometimes deteriorate when transported by car, samples could also be affected by a “rough launch and landing.” He added that “the next big hurdle” for the group will be to test the delivery method “for real patients and using real samples in real environments.” The article notes that the team wants to make sure “a proper infrastructure is in place” before any deliveries are made. MedCity News posted a video of one of the test flights on their website. (Image Credit: Public Libary of Science - Timothy K. Amukele, Lori J. Sokoff, Daniel Pepper, Dana P. Howard, and Jeff Street)
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30 July 2015
How to Recruit, Retain and Inspire Next Generation of Aerospace Engineers

WorkforcePanel_PE2015_29Jul.jpgData shows that the aerospace industry is having trouble keeping young technical talent, and panelists at the 2015 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum discussed ways to address that problem. “It’s a true statement that you are only as good as your people,” said Mark Lewis, director of the Science and Technology Policy Institute, at the start of the “Workforce Development” session. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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30 July 2015
Model-based design reshaping Disney parks

DisneyKeynote_PE2015_29Jul.jpgEngineers can be a great asset to creative storytelling, and model-based design and engineering are helping to reshape The Walt Disney Co. theme parks, said Michael Tschanz, director of technology and analysis with design and engineering at Walt Disney World, during “Developing Creative Storytelling Using Model Based Design,” a lecture at the 2015 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum. There’s been a change in culture at Disney over the past 15 to 20 years, Tschanz said, “in how we build and design new attractions, new guest-facing experiences, and some of it has to do with transferring technology that all of you have been involved with for decades.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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29 July 2015
NTSB Faults Scaled Composites and FAA for Fatal Flight Test

SpaceShipTwo_AP.jpgThe NTSB announced on Tuesday that the in-flight breakup of Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipTwo flight on October 31, 2014 was most likely the result of human error, which Scaled Composites failed to consider when designing the feather braking system. The Wall Street Journal reports that the NTSB openly criticized the safety culture at Scaled Composites, which is owned by Northrop Grumman and has worked closely with Virgin Galactic, as it took just a single human error to ruin the entire test flight in which co-pilot Michael Alsbury died and Commander Peter Siebold escaped. The New York Times reported that NTSB Chair Christopher Hart stated that the crash was entirely avoidable, resulting “not from the novelty of a space launch test flight, but from human factors that were already known elsewhere in transportation.” Bloomberg News reports that the NTSB called the FAA’s oversight “deficient,” but Sumwalt placed most of the blame on Scaled, saying “Humans will screw up anything if you give them enough opportunity,” which the company should have realized. The Board recommended that the FAA “streamline its oversight of space ventures and create a central database modeled on an airline industry version that allows competitors to share safety-related information.” (Image Credit: Associated Press)
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29 July 2015
Kennedy Space Center Evolves to Serve New Generation of Space Explorers

RoberCabana_PE2015.jpgLong considered the nerve center of the U.S. space program, the site of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, has witnessed every manned mission the U.S. has started. With the end of the space-shuttle era in 2011, Kennedy faced an uncertain future with many worrying that the best days of the center were behind it. Not so, according to Robert Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center. Cabana told an audience at “The Transformation of the Kennedy Space Center,” a lecture during the 2015 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Orlando, Florida, that Kennedy is “rapidly evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of space explorers,” who will need a safe place to leave from and return to as they go about their explorations. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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29 July 2015
Digitization, Electrification and Additive Manufacturing to Revolutionize Propulsion and Energy

TechTrendsPanel_PE2015.jpgWhether with aircraft, space launch vehicles or missile systems platforms, the aerospace propulsion and energy sector is undergoing dramatic changes sure to revolutionize the industry. From advancements in additive manufacturing to rapidly advancing digitization and bandwidth, connectivity and cybersecurity, the propulsion and energy sector is working hard to keep pace. That was the main theme during “Technology Development and Trends in Propulsion and Energy,” a panel at the 2015 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum. “Additive really is revolutionizing the way we design hardware,” said Mary Beth Koelbl, deputy director of the Propulsion Systems Department with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “It’s enabling you to design hardware with geometries and shapes and features that you’ve never really been able to do before.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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28 July 2015
Electric Airliners: Finding the Missing Ingredient

ElectricAricraftPanel27July.jpgCreating an electric passenger plane capable of carrying more than 100 people will require persistence and an unprecedented cross-domain collaboration among aircraft designers, battery makers and the auto and marine industries, said members of a panel at the 2015 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Orlando, Florida. “How do we get all these different communities, all these different subject-matter experts, together to go and execute a real system?” asked Marty Bradley, a technical fellow at Boeing Co. and chairman of AIAA’s Green Engineering Program Committee. (Image Credit: AIAA)

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28 July 2015
Global Collaboration for Aerospace Companies Is Result of Market, Brings Advantages

GlobalCooperationPanel_PE2015_28Jul.jpgThe global collaboration panel at the 2015 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum, moderated by James G. Maser, vice president of strategy, marketing and business development with Pratt & Whitney, asked representatives from global aviation and space industry companies to discuss their experiences in international collaborations or joint partnerships. Marc Vales, head of future programs with Airbus Safran Launchers, said Airbus and Safran collaborated to better align with the newly competitive nature of the commercial space launch industry. (Image Credit: AIAA)

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27 July 2015
Latest Images Show Pluto’s Glaciers, Hazy Atmosphere

Pluto_BacklitBySun_NASAJuly2015.jpgABC World News broadcast that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft spotted “a slow-moving icy glacier” on Pluto. It also returned “the first full-color images” and an image of “Pluto’s back side, back-lit by the sun.” The AP reported that on Friday, principal scientist Alan Stern said that these were among the new “mind-blowing discoveries,” including that the atmosphere is hazier than expected. The New York Times noted that Stern said that early data indicates that Pluto’s atmosphere is disappearing “as it moved farther away [from the sun] along its elliptical orbit.” Michael Summers of George Mason University said that the haze illustrated in the photographs may be what is causing Pluto to have a reddish color. The Los Angeles Times reported that Summers said that scientists now have to rework everything that was thought to be known about Pluto’s atmosphere in light of the new findings. (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 July 2015
In-Space Propulsion Investments Are All About Return On Investment

GovtInvestmentsPanel_PE2015_27Jul.jpg“Competition in the global space-propulsion market continues to increase as industry continues to invest in technology and strategy and as agencies use tech programs to push the boundaries,” said Mitchell Walker, associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, during a full 2015 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum 360 Panel titled “Government Investments Enabling Advancement of In-Space Propulsion.” (Image Credit: AIAA)

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27 July 2015
Commercial UAS Expected to Become Ubiquitous In Agriculture

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP.jpgThe Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the applications for UAS in the agriculture sector, noting that “Remote sensors on drones could scan crops for health problems, monitor hydration and growth rates and locate disease problems.” According to the article, the agriculture sector could “make up 80 percent of the potential market for drones in the near term,” with that growth only poised “to take off after the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes regulations on commercial use of drones, probably late next year.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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24 July 2015
Kepler Finds Closest Earth Analog So Far

Earth_and_Kepler-452b_NASA.jpgIn its final segment for the evening, ABC World News broadcast that NASA announced that the Kepler space telescope discovered an exoplanet known as Kepler 452b, which may be “the closest thing yet to Earth.” Reporter David Wright said that this discovery is “the second big news in a week from NASA,” following last week’s Pluto flyby. Wright notes that although researchers are not certain, the planet, which is larger than Earth, could have liquid water and an atmosphere. The AP reports that Jon Jenkins of Ames Research Center said that the newly discovered planet, one of 500 added Thursday to Kepler’s catalog, “is the closest thing that we have to another place that somebody else might call home. ... Today the Earth is a little less lonely because there’s a new kid on the block.” Grunsfeld added that he wanted to “emphasize” that the telescope could still find even better analogs to Earth. The article notes that Kepler 452b was just the first of 12 potential exoplanets with less than twice the radius of Earth in the new set “confirmed as a true planet, thanks to ground observations.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 July 2015
Teams Have Completed SLS’ Critical Design Review

SLS-NASA-2013.jpgThe Huntsville (AL) Times reports that 13 teams completed the Space Launch System’s (SLS) critical design review at the Marshal Space Flight Center. If the SLS passes, NASA will begin “full-scale building of the rocket.” SLS Program Manager Todd May said, “Critical design review represents a major commitment by the agency to human exploration...and through these reviews, we ensure the SLS design is on track to being a safe, sustainable and evolvable launch vehicle that will meet the agency’s goals and missions. It’s an exciting time for NASA and our nation.” Garry Lyles, chief engineer for the SLS Program Office, added, “We’ve nailed our review schedules. ... The team is performing at a really high level. And I’m unbelievably positive in the structural robustness of this vehicle.” The article notes that the results have been turned over to an “independent Standing Review Board,” which will come up with its own conclusions. (Image Credit: NASA)
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23 July 2015
New Crew Arrives at International Space Station

Exp44_NASA.jpgThe AP reports that a Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts, including NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, “docked smoothly” at the ISS after it launched almost six hours earlier from Kazakhstan. The article notes that this launch was put off for two months “after the April failure of an unmanned Russian cargo ship.” The Orlando (FL) Sentinel “Go For Launch” blog reports that there was “a communication error,” which led to agencies reporting that everything was fine before correcting that one of the spacecraft’s solar arrays did not deploy. However, in the end, this problem did not cause any issues “navigating the craft or docking.” The article notes that this is not the first time the spacecraft has had a problem with its solar array. (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 July 2015
New ISS Crew Ready for Today’s Launch

Exp44SetToLaunch_NASA.jpgFlorida Today reports that two missions “half a world apart from each other” are ready to launch today. The first will involve three astronauts, including Kjell Lindgren, who will be heading to the ISS. The other involves the launch of the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite aboard a Delta IV rocket. The article notes that the crew launch was delayed by the April 28 launch failure of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft, but that was followed by a successful Progress launch earlier this month. Lindgren said, “We were elated to see that successful (Progress) launch. ... That was certainly a milestone for us as we’re preparing for our launch.” He added, “We all have to be ready and willing to flex to whatever occurs, and so we took that time, got a little bit of additional training, took a little bit of time off, and I think we’re fresh and ready to fly.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 July 2015
Tests Resume On Leap-Powered Airbus A320neo

AirbusA320neoNewEngineOption_Airbus.jpgFlightglobal reports that tests are now underway for “the CFM International Leap-powered A320neo,” which were put on hold by Airbus while “the powerplants and on-board equipment” were upgraded. Meanwhile, testing on the two A320neos with Pratt & Whitney PW1100G turbofans have been on hold “while a minor technical flaw in the engine was addressed.” According to the article, Airbus should receive upgraded engines by the end of July. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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21 July 2015
Snapped Strut, Complacency Caused SpaceX Launch Failure

SpaceXFalcon9_Launch_Wiki.jpgThe CBS Evening News broadcast that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that last month during an ISS cargo mission, “a steel strut snapped inside the Falcon 9 rocket,” creating “a catastrophic chain reaction.” The AP reports that Musk “stressed” that the results were preliminary, but the company could be launching again in “maybe just a few months.” Musk, who noted that it was “pretty crazy” that a strut designed to withstand 10,000 pounds of force failed at 2,000, said that SpaceX “became maybe a little bit complacent.” According to the article, the preliminary results do seem “to jive with the over-pressurization of the second stage detected in the immediate aftermath of the accident.” According to the Los Angeles Times, even though the fault may lie with “a shoddy part from a supplier,” SpaceX will no longer be “somewhat complacent” and “just depend on the subcontractor’s certification of their strength.” Meanwhile, Musk said that the Dragon cargo capsule will include “software to deploy its parachutes in an emergency,” which might have saved the spacecraft when the failure occurred. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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20 July 2015
UAV Delivers Prescription Medications in Rural Southwest Virginia

DJI_UAV_Wiki.jpgThe CBS Evening News broadcast about the “Kitty Hawk moment” in UAV deliveries, made by “a medical drone” in Virginia that “brought multiple shipments of prescription drugs...to about a dozen patients” in the Appalachian region. The deliveries are “one of the first federally approved deliveries by drone” and proof of “what’s possible and the future of the plan is to deliver medicine and medical supplies right to a remote patient’s front door.” The Wall Street Journal reported that the highly planned event not only showed the possibilities of future deliveries by UAS, but also outlined the challenges for companies like Amazon that want to dominate this space. Crucially, a NASA aircraft still had to ferry the packages for large parts of the journey. NBC News reported from its website that the UAV delivered “medical supplies to a health clinic in rural southwest Virginia” in Wise County. Startup company Flirtey made the deliveries after a NASA aircraft brought the medications to the county’s regional airport.  USA Today reported online that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said this was the “Kitty Hawk moment” in an industry that will “revolutionize the way we deliver health care.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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20 July 2015
New Horizons Team Releases More Surprising Images of Pluto

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgABC World News continued coverage of New Horizons’ Pluto flyby with “new fly-over images of Pluto. The icy mountain ranges [are] in clear view.” The CBS Evening News broadcast that NASA has only received “two percent of the data captured by New Horizons.” The AP reported that during a briefing on Friday, Principal Investigator Alan Stern said that no one “expected this kind of complexity” from Pluto. Jeff Moore, head of the New Horizons geology team at the Ames Research Center, added, “I’m still having to remind myself to take deep breaths. ... I mean, the landscape is just astoundingly amazing.” Scientists noted that there could even be geysers resurfacing Pluto, but Moore “stressed” that there was no “hard evidence” of that yet. The article noted that more images will be released this Friday, and “should keep getting better and better.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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20 July 2015
Airbus Will Improve A380, But No Word Yet On New Engines

AirbusA380_wiki.jpgBloomberg News reports that Fabrice Bregier, chief executive officer of Airbus Group’s airliner unit, said that the company would “offer an improved version of its A380 for service by 2025 although no decision has been made on whether to offer new engines.” According to the article, Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon said that the company is still deciding which elements of the plane will change when it comes out with a more efficient version of the A380. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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17 July 2015
New Horizons Reveals “Mountain In A Moat” On Charon

Pluto_NASA17July2015.jpgThe Los Angeles Times “Science Now” website reports on a new image of Pluto’s moon Charon taken by New Horizons “just 1.5 hours before its closest approach to Pluto,” revealing unusual features like “a mountain in a moat.” Jeff Moore, head of New Horizons’ Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team, said, “This is a feature that has geologists stunned and stumped.” The article notes that even the early data from the spacecraft have “defied scientists’ expectations.” The Washington Post “Speaking of Science” notes that the new image also has “very few craters,” which is not what scientists were expecting. This could indicate “incredibly recent (or even active) geological processes to smooth out old craters.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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17 July 2015
Panelists Advocate for UAV Use by Small Businesses

DJI_UAV_Wiki.jpgThe Washington Post reports that while big corporations look to use UAVs, small businesses in the U.S. “stand to benefit most from the cheap availability of drone technology,” according to panelists before a House Small Business Committee hearing on Wednesday. The hearing, which “examined the benefits and pitfalls” of a variety of small business uses for UAV, also “raised concerns about privacy issues and the liability for small businesses.” Three panelists called on lawmakers to speed up the FAA’s “rule-making process for unmanned aerial vehicles.” Aviation Today also reports that small businesses are urging the FAA to expedite the publishing of “a final rule on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) integration into the National Airspace System (NAS).” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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16 July 2015
New Horizons’ Hi-Res Images Reveal Geologically Active Pluto

Pluto_NASAJuly2015.jpgABC World News continued coverage of the New Horizons mission by noting that the latest Pluto images “surprised” scientists by revealing mountains “11,000 feet high” and “relatively young at just 100 million years old.” NBC Nightly News notes that the images are “the very first high resolution images” of Pluto and include “the clearest image” so far of Charon. The AP reports that Pluto’s “total absence of impact craters” is “astonishing” scientists, indicating that it may even be geologically active today with an internal heat source. John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute said that these findings may be “a game-changer” for how researchers view the Kuiper belt. According to the USA Today, the images have “a permanent place in scientific history.” Stern added that scientists were engaging in “something close to bedlam” trying to explain all the new features. Cathy Olkin of the Southwest Research Institute added that the images of Charon “blew our socks off” because of deep chasms and cliffs spotted. (Image Credit: NASA)
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16 July 2015
Effort to Fly Solar-Powered Plane Around World Suspended

SolarImpulse2_Lands_in_Hawaii_AP_2.jpgThe AP reports an attempt to fly a solar-powered plane around the world is ending in Hawaii after suffering battery damage. The Solar Impulse team “said in a news release that it will continue the attempt to circumnavigate the globe,” but overheating caused damage that will pause the effort until at least April. The pilots said in a statement that while the flight has “cover[ed] nearly half of the journey, setbacks are part of the challenges of a project which is pushing technological boundaries to the limits.” (Image Credit: Associated Press - Purchased)
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15 July 2015
New Horizons Sends Back Signal Of Its “Triumph” at Pluto

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgNBC Nightly News ended its Tuesday broadcast with a report on the New Horizons flyby of Pluto. At the time of the broadcast, the successful pass had not yet been confirmed. The broadcast focused on how the mission is “raising the profile” of Pluto and reigniting the debate over whether it is a planet or not. Anchor Lester Holt noted that NASA said that the Pluto flyby “completes its initial survey of our solar system.” The AP reports that the spacecraft has sent back “word of its triumph,” which was not certain until NASA received the signal. John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, said, “This is truly a hallmark in human history. ... It’s been an incredible voyage.” The article notes that Alice Bowman, mission operations director, was “drowned out by cheers and applause” when she announced the mission’s success, and that the White House, Congress, and physicist Stephen Hawking congratulated the team. The Los Angeles Times“Science Now” website reports that the mission is “far from over,” even once all the data from the flyby has been sent back to Earth. (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 July 2015
ULA Rocket Will Make First Launch From Cape Canaveral Since SpaceX Failure

AtlasV_CapeCanaveral.jpgThe Orlando Sentinel continues coverage of how a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is set to launch the GPS IIF-10 satellite into orbit today if the weather continues to be favorable. The article notes how this is the first launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station since SpaceX’s launch failure in June, and could add to the Atlas V’s “record of 54 consecutive missions without failure.” (Image Credit: ULA)
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14 July 2015
New Horizons Reveals Pluto’s Size One Day Before Historic Flyby

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgNBC Nightly News continues coverage of the New Horizons mission, “just hours from its destination.” The spacecraft is revealing that Pluto is larger than previously calculated. The CBS Evening News broadcast that “the first close-ups” of Pluto will be seen on Wednesday. The AP reports that Pluto is measured to be “1,473 miles, plus or minus 12 miles” in diameter. The article notes that the dwarf planet’s size was one of three new findings, “a tantalizing sneak preview” of what will be discovered during today’s flyby. The New York Times “Summer of Science” website has a timeline of today’s flyby. The Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog notes that the new size measurement means that Pluto has regained its status as “the largest known object in the Kuiper Belt,” but there is “no guarantee” that it is the absolute largest object in the region. (Image Credit: NASA)
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14 July 2015
Battery Damage Grounds Solar Impulse 2 Until at Least August

SolarImpulse2_Lands_in_Hawaii_AP_1.jpgPopular Science reports that Solar Impulse 2 team members discovered that the solar-powered plane’s batteries experienced “irreversible” damage, which will prevent the plane from flying on its next leg before August. The article notes that the team has “a small window” to complete its around-the-world flight before the day is too short to store enough energy to fly “during the day and overnight.” (Image Credit: Associated Press - Purchased)
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13 July 2015
Prototype Electric Plane Crosses English Channel

Electric_Plane_Crosses_EnglishChannel_AP-Purchased2.gifThe Wall Street Journal reported that Airbus Group SE’s electric two-seat E-Fan demonstrator plane flew across the English Channel – from Lydd, England to Calais, France – in 36 minutes. The craft missed being the first electric plane to cross the channel when private pilot Hugues Duval flew it in his home-built, single-seat Cri-Cri plane. NASA said that electric motors have the same weight as turbine engines and are more efficient. Mark Moore, principal investigator for NASA’s experimental electric propulsion aircraft project, said that advances in consumer and auto batteries are helping electric aviation. He added that NASA is working with commuter operator Cape Air toward creating passenger electric to replace its fleet of aging Cessna aircraft by 2022. Also covering the electric planes’ flights over the English Channel are the Discovery Channel, Popular Science, and Flightglobal. (Image Credit: Associated Press - Purchased)
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13 July 2015
New Horizons’ Stern: Pluto Flyby Will “Knock Your Socks Off”

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgThe New Horizons spacecraft received intense media coverage over the weekend, most of it focusing on the upcoming flyby of Pluto. The AP reports that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly by Pluto on Tuesday, and “the curtain hasn’t been pulled back like this since NASA’s Voyager 2 shed light on Neptune in 1989.” Principal scientist Alan Stern said, “We’re going to knock your socks off.” Scientists are seeking information on the surfaces and chemical composition of Pluto and Charon, as well as “the temperature and pressure in Pluto’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere and...how much gas is escaping into space.” The Wall Street Journal reported that it will take 16 months for New Horizons to send back all the data that it will collect during the flyby. The New York Times reports that “mission managers are confident that they have aimed precisely enough that the spacecraft, traveling 31,000 miles an hour, will pass through a rectangle just 60 miles by 90 miles at its closest approach to Pluto.” Two teams calculate “the necessary trajectory” and compare results, which should avoid mistakes like the metric-imperial unit mix-up that put NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter off course. (Image Credit: NASA)
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10 July 2015
NASA Names Astronauts Flying On First Commercial Crew Missions

Boeing_Capsule.jpgThe AP reports that on Thursday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden revealed the “four veteran astronauts” – Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley, and Sunita Williams – who will make the first flights on SpaceX and Boeing’s commercial spacecraft on trips to the ISS. Bolden said, “These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail, a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars.” Bolden added that NASA will pay $58 million per seat on the spacecraft, compared to the $76 million it now pays Russia for rides on the Soyuz. Meanwhile, in an interview posted online, Hurley said, “There are lot more than just the four of us who will be responsible for the safety and the certification of the vehicle.” The Washington Post “The Switch” blog notes that the 2017 time frame for the first commercial flights is now threatened by congressional budget cuts. Furthermore, even though there are “renewed concerns” about whether it is safe to launch astronauts aboard commercial spacecraft, Bolden said that the Commercial Crew Program is “a worthy successor to the incredible...run of the space shuttle program.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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9 July 2015
United Grounds Over 1,100 Flights Due to Computer Glitch

UnitedAirlinesJet_Wiki.jpgA computer glitch affecting its passenger reservation system forced United Continental Holdings Inc. to cancel 61 flights and delay over 1,100 flights on Wednesday morning, according to the New York (NY) Times. The Times reports that 55 of the 61 canceled flights would have been operated by United Express, adding that 615 of the delayed flights were operated by United Airlines while 547 were operated by United Express. United CEO Jeff Smisek “said in an interview in New York that the computer issue had prevented the airline from dispatching planes.” A United spokesman blamed the issue on a “network router problem,” and some security experts believe an investigation may find “the issue could very well have been caused by a security incident.” However, the AP quotes White House spokesman Josh Earnest, “There is no indication at this point either that there is malicious activity involved.” United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm said at midday on Wednesday, “We fixed the router issue, which is enabling us to restore normal functions.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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8 July 2015
F-16, Cessna Collide In South Carolina

F-16_YouTube_NirvanaNews.jpgABC World News reports that a mid-air collision involving an F-16 fighter jet and a Cessna 150 took place ten miles from Charleston, South Carolina. The NTSB and the Air Force are investigating the incident, which was described as having caused a fireball mid-air with debris falling over neighborhoods. “The military says the pilot of their aircraft ejected safely, but state officials say that two people flying the Cessna were killed,” ABC reported. The CBS Evening News reports on the ongoing search for the two people who were aboard the Cessna that collided with the military fighter jet on Tuesday morning. The F-16 was on a training mission after it departed from nearby Shaw Air Force Base. CBS reports that the NTSB “is expected to take over the investigation” starting Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times reports that while Peter Knudson, a spokesperson for the NTSB, confirmed that the two Cessna occupants had died, it is “unclear whether authorities have recovered the victims’ bodies.” The Washington Post adds that no bystanders on the ground suffered any injuries. (Image Credit: YouTube/Nirvana News)
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8 July 2015
SpaceX Still Trying to Determine Cause of Launch Failure

SpaceXLaunch_June2015_CreditNASA.jpgThe AP reports that at the ISS R&D Conference on Tuesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that officials are “close” to determining why the Falcon 9 rocket failed on its recent ISS cargo mission. Musk said that the failure was “not a sort of simple, straightforward thing,” but was “a huge blow” to the company. Meanwhile, ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini told attendees that “never in [his] wildest dream” did he think there would be three launch failures in a row. According to the article, Suffredini stated that the crew is “healthy and safe, with plenty of scientific work.” Florida Today reports that Musk said that “no clear theory” has yet been developed for the failure because the data is “quite difficult to interpret.” He added that engineers “very much welcome any feedback” from NASA and the FAA. According to the article, Musk is “confident” that SpaceX could start launching again this year. (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 July 2015
New Horizons Overcomes “Speed Bump” In Flight to Pluto

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgThe AP continues coverage of how the New Horizons spacecraft recovered from a “speed bump” in its operations, resulting in the loss of “about 30 observations out of 500 planned over the next week.” Jim Green, NASA’s director of Planetary Science, told journalists yesterday, “We’re on to Pluto!” Principal investigator Alan Stern also stressed that instead of being concerned about the lost observations, the most important issue is maintaining the spacecraft’s health, and now scientists are “excited” to get back to work. The Washington Post “Speaking of Science” blog reports that the issue that affected the spacecraft was so minor that NASA will not adjust “its science mission plans” as it would have if it took longer to resolve. Green said on Monday, “New Horizons is operating flawlessly, on course, and so are all of the instruments in the payload. ... In fact in the last few days we’ve been receiving tremendous data, and I couldn’t be happier with what we’re already seeing from this great distance.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 July 2015
SpaceX to Release Results of Preliminary Investigation Into Recent Launch Failure

SpaceXLaunch_June2015_CreditNASA.jpgFlorida Today reports that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that this week the company will post the preliminary results of its investigation into its recent launch failure during an ISS cargo mission “after briefing the Federal Aviation Administration.” The full investigation is expected to take months to complete. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 July 2015
Team Briefly Loses Contact With New Horizons

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgThe Orlando (FL) Sentinel “Go For Launch” blog reports that contact was lost with the New Horizons spacecraft for over an hour on Saturday “after experiencing an anomaly.” The article notes that an Anomaly Review Board “found the cause of the anomaly was a timing flaw in a command sequence to prepare for the Pluto flyby.” The team is “working to resume science operations on July 7 and the Pluto flyby will happen as planned.” Jim Green, NASA’s director of Planetary Science, said, “I’m pleased that our mission team quickly identified the problem and assured the health of the spacecraft. ... Now – with Pluto in our sights – we’re on the verge of returning to normal operations and going for the gold.” Chris Mills at Gizmodo writes that NASA said that the problem was due to a “hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence that occurred during an operation to prepare for the close flyby [of Pluto].” (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 July 2015
Solar Impulse 2 Completes Record Setting Flight Across Pacific, Lands In Hawaii

SolarImpulse2_Lands_in_Hawaii_AP_2.jpgThe AP reported that the solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 flew a record-breaking 118-hour journey across the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii. With its landing on Friday, the plane completed “the riskiest [leg] of the plane’s global travels as there was nowhere for it to land in an emergency.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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6 July 2015
Progress Spacecraft Reaches ISS with New Supplies

Progress_arriving_at_ISS_NASA.jpgABC World News led off its “Instant Index” highlights with the arrival of a Russian cargo spacecraft at the ISS. It brought “a sigh of relief” for operators after the last two failed cargo runs. ISS astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted, “Christmas in July! Great gift for my 100th day in space! Only ~250 more to go (not that I’m counting)” The AP similarly reported that the Progress M-28M cargo spacecraft successfully launched on Friday and then delivered its cargo to the ISS on Sunday “after the successive failures of two previous supply missions.” It delivered “2.5 metric tons of fuel, oxygen, water, food and other supplies.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 July 2015
F-35 Reportedly Outperformed by F-16 In Test Fight

F35_Wikipedia.jpgThe ABC News website reports that officials are countering a report on War Is Boring that a test pilot said that the F-35 was outperformed by an F-16 “in close-up, high maneuvering fighting.” Joe DellaVedova, a spokesperson for the Pentagon’s F-35 Program Office, wrote in an email to reporters that the test, which took place in January, was not completely accurate because the F-35 was not equipped with some of the systems it will have in the future. He added, “The F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual ‘dogfighting’ situations.” DellaVedova stressed, “The F-35 of today is not what the F-35 will be in the coming years.” According to Aviation Week, pilots “were surprised by the magnitude of the shortfall in energy maneuverability but not by its existence.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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2 July 2015
Today’s Progress Launch Very Important After Recent Failures

Soyuz_Launches_June2015.jpgThe Houston Chronicle reports that tonight’s Progress cargo spacecraft launch from Kazakhstan is very important for the ISS program “after a flurry of mishaps with space station supply vehicles.” The article notes that following Sunday’s failed SpaceX launch, this launch is receiving attention it normally would not get. Meanwhile, even though both SpaceX and Orbital ATK have stumbled recently on their separate cargo runs, NASA, according to the article, is “pressing ahead” with the next round of contract awards. NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said, “The CRS-2 award is an ongoing procurement, so we cannot comment on it.” (Image Credit: @RussianSpaceWeb #Soyuz)
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1 July 2015
Boeing, Embraer to Work Together On EcoDemonstrator Program

BoeingecoDemonstrator_Boeing.jpgMarketWatch reports that on Tuesday, Boeing and Embraer announced they will work together “to test technologies to reduce carbon emissions and noise from airplanes” under the ecoDemonstrator program. Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, said that for the first time, Boeing will use another manufacturer’s plane as the testbed for the program. The article notes that before now, “various Boeing platforms, including an American Airlines 737-800 and a 757 with TUI Group and NASA,” have been used. (Image Credit: Beoing)
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1 July 2015
Images of Pluto and Charon Are Clearer As New Horizons Approaches

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA.jpgSPACE reports that New Horizons is now only two weeks away from its July flyby of Pluto and Charon. Officials released the latest image of the two, which highlight the fact that images of the objects are “getting clearer every day.” Alice Bowman, missions operations manager for New Horizons, noted that operators plan to transmit the command sequence for the flyby “in the next few days,” with a chance of another course correction. (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 June 2015
Astronauts Not In Jeopardy After SpaceX Launch Failure

ISS-NASA.jpgABC World News, in continuing coverage, reported on Sunday’s failed SpaceX launch. With the number of recent launch failures, there is “a new question” about whether the ISS crew has enough supplies. Reporter David Kerley said NASA was reporting that the crew “isn’t in jeopardy, but pressure is on for” upcoming flights or else the agency will need to look into “the first ever evacuation.” As for SpaceX, Kerley notes that it says that its Falcon 9 “was working fine” when the explosion occurred in the rocket’s second stage. The AP reports that Wayne Hale, “a former NASA shuttle chief,” cautioned not to necessarily base any opinion on what appears to be the cause, because the initial diagnosis can often be incorrect. Hale noted that investigations can take up to a year to complete. On Monday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that engineers still do not know the exact cause of the failure. USA Today notes that experts claim that this launch failure should not necessarily have “a long-term effect on the pioneering commercial aerospace company.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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29 June 2015
Solar Impulse 2 Takes Off from Japan for Hawaii

SolarImpulse2_departs_9March_APpurchased.jpgPopular Science reports that after its first two scheduled flights from Japan to Hawaii were scrapped due to bad weather, “the Solar Impulse 2 is finally on its way. ... This eighth leg of the solar plane’s round-the-world trip is the most dangerous – it’s been called the ‘Earhart Leg’ after Amelia Earhart, who vanished on a similar route.” (Image Credit: Associated Press - purchased)
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29 June 2015
SpaceX Suffers Launch Failure

SpaceXLaunch_June2015_CreditNASA.jpgNBC Nightly News broadcast that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket failed to launch cargo to the ISS, “another setback” for both NASA and SpaceX, which wants to one day send astronauts to the ISS. Reporter Tom Costello noted that this is the third cargo launch failure in eight months. ABC World News broadcast that NASA is not “publicly” concerned by a third lost cargo mission, with the next one scheduled for Thursday. The AP, like other coverage, reiterates that the ISS crew is in “no immediate trouble,” with ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini revealing that the station has enough food to last until October.  The Los Angeles Times reports that while another failed launch raises challenges for NASA, some analysts caution that Congress shouldn’t “overreact,” because there will continue to be launch failures as the pace of launches increase. (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 June 2015
Gulfstream Exec Touts G650 Engineering

Erbacher_Gulfstream_AVIATION2015.jpgKurt Erbacher, vice president for the G650 Aircraft Program at Gulfstream, spent Friday morning describing the breakthroughs represented by this fast-flying business jet. There are “well over 100 airplanes [now] in service,” Erbacher said in an address at the AIAA Aviation 2015 forum. “Customers love the airplane” in part because it is “continually breaking speed records.” Erbacher described a long list of notables. The plane was developed quickly considering its many innovations. Gulfstream began designing the 650 in May 2005 when the company received approval from its parent company, General Dynamics. The aircraft was certified on September 7, 2012, entering service near the end of 2012. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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)
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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)
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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: Wikipedia, Yonezawa-Shi, Yamagata, Japan)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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–© )
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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)
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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).
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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: Wikipedia)
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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–©)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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.
(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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–©)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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–©)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: "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. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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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: "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. Credit: Associated Press–©.)
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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–©)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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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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: Wikipedia)
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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–©)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Associated Press–©)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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: Wikipedia)
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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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