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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

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

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

     

     


    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)
    More Info > (Space News)



    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)
    More Info > (Associated Press)



    24 March 2015
    German Airbus A320 Crashes in French Alps

    Germanwings_AirbusA320_wiki.jpgAn Airbus A320 airliner flying from Barcelona to Düsseldorf has crashed in the mountains of southern France. The Airbus A320 making the flight for Lufthansa’s subsidiary, Germanwings, crashed near the small mountain village of Barcelonette in the southern Alps with at least 144 passengers and six crew members on board. (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
    More Info > (The Guardian)
    More Info > (ABC News)



    24 March 2015
    UAS Tests to Begin at Joint Base Cape Cod Later This Year

    Assortment_of_UAVs_Wiki.jpgThe Boston Globe reported that Massachusetts-based Avwatch will manage unmanned aircraft system tests from Joint Base Cape Cod. The program is a chance for companies “and independent engineers to send their lab work skyward.” Flights could start “in just a few months.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia)
    More Info > (Boston Globe)



    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)
    More Info > (Reuters)



    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)
    More Info > (WTEV-TV)
    More Info > (Spaceflight Now)



    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)
    More Info > (ABC News)
    More Info > (Houston Chronicle)



    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)
    More Info > (New York Times – subscription publication)
    More Info > (Wall Street Journal – subscription publication)
    More Info > (Associated Press)



    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)
    More Info > (SPACE)



    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)
    More Info > (Aviation Week)



    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)
    More Info > (USA Today)



    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)
    More Info > (Flightglobal)



    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)
    More Info > (Florida Today)
    More Info > (Spaceflight Now)



    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)
    More Info > (Re/code)



    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)
    More Info > (Dayton Daily News)
    More Info > (San Francisco Business Times)



    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)
    More Info > (Tennessean)
    More Info > (Orlando Sentinel)



    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)
    More Info > (Hampton Roads Daily Press)
    More Info > (Reuters)



    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)
    More Info > (Reuters)



    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)
    More Info > (Associated Press)



    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)
    More Info > (CBS Evening News)
    More Info > (Associated Press)



    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)
    More Info > (Floriday Today)
    More Info > (Florida Today)



    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)
    More Info > (Popular Science)



    11 March 2015
    Solar Impulse 2 Successfully Ends Its Second Leg In India

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



    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)
    More Info > (BBC News)



    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)
    More Info > (Reuters)



    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)
    More Info > (Reuters)



    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)
    More Info > (Space News))



    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)
    More Info > (Associated Press)
    More Info > (USA Today)
    More Info > (New York Times)
    More Info > (Washington Post)



    9 March 2015
    Solar Impulse-2 Begins Its Flight Around the World

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



    6 March 2015
    Plane Skids Off LaGuardia Runway During Snowstorm

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



    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)
    More Info > (Associated Press)
    More Info > (USA Today)
    More Info > (ABC News)



    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)
    More Info > (Washington Post)
    More Info > (CBS News)
    More Info > (SPACE)



    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)
    More Info > (Associated Press)



    4 March 2015
    ULA Plans On Eliminating Delta 4 Heavy as Early as 2018

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



    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)
    More Info > (Flightglobal)
    More Info > (Aviation Week)



    4 March 2015
    FAA Seeks to Speed Up Commercial UAV Approval Process

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



    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)
    More Info > (Associated Press)
    More Info > (Los Angeles Times)



    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)

    More Info > (Popular Science)


    Video courtesy of Flying Magazine



    2 March 2015
    Astronauts, NASA Pay Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

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



    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)
    More Info > (Associated Press)



    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)
    More Info > (USA Today)



    27 February 2015
    Earth Sciences Division Has Active Year With Five Satellite Launches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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