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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

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

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    The History of Flight from Around the World
    2010s

    2016   2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010

    2016

    • April 8, 2016 – SpaceX Completes Historic Booster Landing at Sea – Following four previously unsuccessful attempts to land a spent rocket booster on a drone ship at sea, SpaceX successfully pulls off the feat Friday, April 8, 2016, in its first launch to resupply the International Space Station since one of its rockets exploded in 2015. The sea landing, the first-ever for a first-stage booster, is considered a breakthrough for the burgeoning commercial spaceflight industry. In a press conference following the successful landing, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk remarked, “It’s another step toward the stars. In order for us to really open up access to space we have to have full and rapid reusability.”

    • April 5, 2016 – Google Awarded Patent for UAV Delivery of Medical Equipment – Google is awarded a patent for a device that can call for a drone to fly in with specific medical equipment in case of emergencies. The system, described as a cross between an old HAM radio and one of the callboxes found on the sides of highways, would deliver necessary medical equipment based on the type of emergency reported.

    • April 2, 2016 – Blue Origin Launches, Lands Reusable Rocket for Third Consecutive Time – Blue Origin takes another step toward making reusable rockets a reality by successfully launching and landing its New Shepard vehicle for a third consecutive time.

    • March 29, 2016 – FAA Increases Altitude Limit For Commercial UAVs – The FAA announces a new policy that will allow certain small, commercial unmanned aircraft vehicles to fly as high as 400 feet, doubling the previously authorized altitude of 200 feet, except in restricted airspace and other prohibited areas. The regulation applies to commercial and governmental unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators with a Section 333 exemption and an aircraft that weighs less than 55 pounds.

    • March 24, 2016 – FAA Predicts 7 Million UAVs Will Swarm U.S. Skies by 2020 – According to an annual aviation forecast report released on Thursday, March 24, 2016 by the FAA, annual UAV sales in the U.S. will reach a total of 2.5 million in 2016 and climb to 7 million by 2020.

    • March 21, 2016 – First American-Made Airbus Jet Performs Successful Flight Test – On Monday, March 21, 2016 Europe-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus performed the maiden test flight of its first American-made jetliner, taking off and landing the A321 passenger jet at its new facility near downtown Mobile, Alabama. In a statement following the three-hour test flight over the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley called the exercise a “major milestone” for the state’s aerospace sector, saying, “Aerospace and aviation industries are extremely important to Alabama, and it is exciting to know soon JetBlue will receive its first A321 proudly made in Alabama.”

    • March 16, 2016 – U.S. Air Force Facing Pilot Shortage for Fighter Jets, Drones – On Wednesday, March 16, 2016 during a subcommittee hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee,, U.S. Air Force General Herbert Carlisle warns that the service needs 511 additional fighter pilots as well as 200 more drone pilots in order to sufficiently fulfill its current military operations. In his testimony, Carlisle explained that “remote piloted aircraft enterprise is one that’s in high demand, we are in high demand for fighters as well, we don’t have enough of either.”

    • March 16, 2016 – Following a year of serving as its deputy director, Janet Kavandi is appointed director of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio, becoming the first woman and former astronaut to be named to the post.

    • March 10, 2016 – Flirtey Completes First FAA-Sanctioned UAV Delivery to Urban Target – Drone delivery startup Flirtey made history on March 10, 2016 by successfully delivering a package in Hawthorne, Nevada, via drone, the first time a UAV has made a fully autonomous delivery in an urban setting in the United States. Flirtey also conducted the country’s first legal drone delivery in a rural zone, having previously delivered supplies to a health clinic in provincial Virginia.

    • March 10, 2016 – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Celebrates 10 Years of Pioneering Scientific Work – NASA celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has, to this point, lasted five times longer than its primary investigative mission. In a NASA statement, Rich Zurek, NASA project scientist, said, “The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter remains a powerful asset for studying the Red Planet, with its six instruments all continuing capably a decade after orbit insertion.”

    • March 9, 2016 – Phantom 2 Breaks UAV-Altitude Record – and Law – with 11,000 Foot Flight – A European UAV hobbyist flies a DJI Phantom 2 to a record altitude of 11,000 feet, according a video posted on YouTube. The UAV reached the altitude in three-and-a-half minutes, draining its power, and it quickly returned back to the ground before the remaining 27% of its battery life ran out, landing with just 4% left. In order to accomplish the feat, it is believed that the operator most likely had to disable software restrictions that prevent out-of-the-box hobby drones from flying above a certain limit, as DJI’s quadcopters are capped at a 1,500 feet.

    • March 8, 2016 – NASA to Livestreams Total Eclipse – NASA Livestreams a full solar eclipse, visible to people in parts of southeast Asia, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa. THe eclipse occurs between 8:38 p.m. and 8:42 p.m. EST.

    • March 8, 2016 – Missing Malaysian Jet Remains “Agonizing Mystery” Two Years After Disappearance – On Tuesday, 8 March 2016, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, says that his government remains dedicated to solving the “agonizing mystery” of MH370, as the country marks the second anniversary of the aircraft’s disappearance. The search efforts to find the jet, covering 120,000 square kilometers of the southern Indian Ocean, are slated to be complete in June. In a distributed email, Najib says that if the efforts prove unsuccessful, officials from Malaysia, Australia, and China will coalesce “to determine the way forward.”

    • March 4, 2016 – AIAA Executive Director Speaks at National Press Club on “ Ensuring U.S. Leadership In Space” – A coalition of 13 space organizations release a joint white paper, “Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space,” at a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The work highlights and addresses the challenges facing continued U.S. exploration and use of space, and the need for the next administration and Congress to make space policy a priority. The paper offers sensible policy solutions to the four most common challenges that continued space exploration and use efforts face – unpredictable budgeting, foreign competition, the hostile space environment, and workforce trends.

    • March 3, 2016 – Aircraft Debris Found In Mozambique May Belong to MH370 – American tourist Blaine Allen Gibson finds a piece of aircraft wreckage washed ashore in Mozambique. It is believed that the piece of wreckage may belong to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously disappeared somewhere over the South China Sea almost two years prior.

    • March 1, 2016 – Scott Kelly Returns To Earth After Record Stay In Space – After 340 days in space, the longest–ever stint for a NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly returns to Earth, alongside Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. All three of the space travelers undergo field tests immediately after exiting the return capsule. Kelly’s and Kornienko’s stay in space was the longest by any astronauts aboard the ISS and seen as a vital chance to measure the effects of a prolonged period in space on the human body.

    • March 1, 2016 – DJI Launches New Autonomous UAV – China–based UAV developer DJI launches its most recent product, the Phantom 4 quadcopter, which uses multiple cameras and software to sense and avoid obstacles automatically. Using a mobile app, operators can tap on a destination and the drone will choose the best route to get there, and, while the aircraft is flying, pilots can focus on controlling the camera without worrying about navigation.

    • February 29, 2016 – U.S. Air Force Announces New Partnerships to Replace Russian Engines – Aerojet Rocketdyne and United Launch Alliance (ULA) announce the formation of a public–private partnership with the U.S. Air Force to develop an American–made rocket propulsion system to replace the Russian engine currently being used to launch many government satellites into orbit. The agreement will fund the development of Aerojet’s AR1 engine, intended to replace the Russian–made RD–180, which powers ULA’s Atlas V rocket. In addition, the Air Force is set to contribute two–thirds of the total investment needed to complete the project by 2019.

    • February 26, 2016 – Air Force Designates Next–Generation Bomber B–21, Unveils Artist Rendering – Air Force Secretary Deborah James reveals the first artist’s rendering of the next–generation long–range bomber (LRS–B) developed by Northrop Grumman, and discloses that the new stealth bomber has been officially designated as the B–21. The concept art reveals that the next generation aircraft is black and sleek with swept–back wings and stealthy design and resembles another famous bomber, the B–2 Spirit.

    • February 25, 2016 – House GOP Leaders Scrap Plan To Privatize Air Traffic Control – House Republican leaders decide to scrap the FAA reauthorization bill that would separate air traffic control from the FAA. GOP leaders instead plan to bring a temporary reauthorization measure before the House.

    • February 25, 2016 – Utah Bills Proposed that Would Allow Law Enforcement to Shoot Down UAVs – Two Utah legislators propose bills that would allow law enforcement officials to better deal with interference from UAVs during emergency response operations. State Sen. Wayne Harper proposes legislation that would allow law enforcement officials to neutralize UAVs, which could include shooting them, jamming their signals or convincing their operators to move them.

    • February 22, 2016 – UN Agency Bans Lithium Batteries As Cargo On Passenger Planes – The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) bans cargo shipments of lithium ion batteries on passenger planes, despite opposition from the rechargeable batteries industry. The FAA says that one such battery in the hold is enough to cause an explosion if it overheats and could result in a “catastrophic hull loss” in a process called “thermal runaway.” While the UN agency’s decision is not binding, most countries abide by its standards. The decision is also backed by the FAA, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the National Transportation Safety Board.

    • February 19, 2016 – Deadline to Register UAVs In FAA Database – Friday, 19 February 2016, is the official FAA deadline for the public to register drones weighing between half a pound and 55 pounds with the FAA.

    • February 19, 2016 – Record Number Apply To Become Next NASA Astronauts – NASA announces that it has received more than 18,300 applications to join its next astronaut class, constituting a record total that is more than double the previous record of 8,000 back in 1979, just before the space shuttle era began, and nearly three times the number who applied in 2012, just after the shuttle program’s retirement. NASA plans to select eight to 14 astronaut candidates by mid–2017.

    • February 16, 2016 – SpaceX Successfully Completes Parachute Test – SpaceX announces that it has successfully tested parachutes near Coolidge, Arizona, that will be used on its Dragon spacecraft to bring human passengers back to Earth. SpaceX is upgrading its Dragon vehicle to be able to send humans to the International Space Station starting in 2018 as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

    • February 15, 2016 – IATA: No Deadly Jetliner Accidents Occurr Globally In 2015 – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reveals that in 2015 not a single passenger worldwide died from a commercial jetliner accident attributed to pilot error, jet malfunctions, or poor weather, marking a long sought after milestone once deemed an unreachable goal for the global aircraft industry.

    • February 15, 2016 – DARPA Tests Self–Navigating Quadcopter – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announces that it has tested a self–navigating quadcopter using only onboard sensors / software at an old hangar set up as a warehouse at Otis Air National Guard Base. The test is part of DARPA’s fast lightweight autonomy program, which intends to develop and test algorithms that can reduce human intervention needed to fly small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) around a crowded urban surrounding.

    • February 11, 2016 – Scientists Discover Gravitational Waves – In a report published on February 11 in the journal Physical Review Letters, scientists with the LIGO group and the Virgo Collaboration reveal that they have detected gravitational waves, “the ripples in the fabric of space–time that Einstein predicted a century ago.” Szabolcs Marka, a Columbia University professor who is one of the LIGO scientists, remarks, “I think this will be one of the major breakthroughs in physics for a long time.” The project is led by researchers from CalTech and MIT, with support from an international consortium of scientists and institutions.

    • February 11, 2016 – NASA Plans to Return to Designing X–Planes – NASA’s 2017 budget proposal reveals plans to return to a decades–old tradition of developing and flying experimental aircraft projects, or ‘X–planes,’ in order to achieve new breakthroughs in supersonic and subsonic aeronautics research. NASA’s history of X–planes includes projects such as the supersonic Bell X–1 and the hypersonic North American X–15.

    • February 11, 2016 – Scientists Discover Gravitational Waves, Confirming Einstein’s Century–Old Theory – Scientists with the LIGO group and the Virgo Collaboration reveal that that they have detected gravitational waves, “the ripples in the fabric of space–time that Einstein predicted a century ago.” Szabolcs Marka, a Columbia University professor who is one of the LIGO scientists, remarks, “I think this will be one of the major breakthroughs in physics for a long time.”

    • February 9, 2016 – Airbus A321neo Completes Maiden Flight In Germany – An Airbus A321neo successfully completes its first flight using CFM International’s LEAP–1A engines. The five–and–a–half–hour maiden flight from Hamburg, Germany is considered unusual since the A321neo variant using Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan engine will enter service first.

    • February 8, 2016 – UN Agency Proposes Limits On Aircraft Emissions – Following more than six years of negotiations, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposes the first binding limits on aircraft carbon dioxide emissions, the latest in a series of international efforts to address climate change.

    • January 29, 2016 – Boeing 737 MAX Completes Maiden Flight – Boeing’s new 737 MAX jetliner takes off on its maiden flight from an airfield in Renton, Washington.

    • January 28, 2016 – Japan Reveals First Stealth Fighter – Japan’s Ministry of Defense unveils the first–ever Japanese–built stealth fighter jet featuring radar–evasion technology, with the aim of closing the gap with neighboring Russia and China, who have flown such aircraft for more than five years. The experimental $340 million X–2 is smaller than a typical fighter, unarmed and has under–powered engines, causing some analysts to suggest that Japan intends to use the prototype to signal its aspirations to develop a stealth aircraft in partnership with the U.S. and other international allies.

    • January 25, 2016 – U.S. Air Force Certifies Upgraded Falcon 9 to Launch Military Satellite – The U.S. Air Force certifies the latest version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, featuring higher–thrust engines, enlarged fuel tanks and a super–chilled propellant mixture, for launches of military most satellites. The formal sign–off of the rocket confirms that the modified launcher is eligible to compete for national security launch contracts.

    • January 20, 2016 – Scientists Find Evidence for Planet Nine – Two astronomers at the California Institute of Technology reveal that they have found compelling evidence indicating the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system.

    • January 20, 2016 – Airbus Completes A320neo Delivery to Lufthansa – Airbus completes the very first delivery of its newest jetliner, the A320neo, to Lufthansa.

    • January 13, 2016 – Airbus Develops Counter–UAV System – Airbus develops a counter–UAV system that is capable of disabling an unmanned aerial vehicle in a monitored area by jamming its signal. The system also has the ability to locate the operator of the device.

    • January 11, 2016 – Google Says UAV Deliveries Could Begin Within One Year – Davis Vos, the head of Google’s “Project Wing” initiative, says that it will be possible to deliver goods to customers via UAV within the next one to three years.

    • January 10, 2016 – “Starman” David Bowie Is Mourned by Astronauts, Scientists, Celebrities – The New York Times reports that the death of rock legend David Bowie “reverberated across Britain and the world” as fans gathered en masse outside his childhood home in London, on Monday, January 11,  “to express their deep and abiding affection for Mr. Bowie, a local hero whose gender–bending swagger and convention–busting music inspired generations of fans and provided a soundtrack for their lives.”

    • January 6, 2016 – EHang Unveils World’s First Passenger UAV – China–based UAV developer EHang releases what it calls "the world’s first drone capable of carrying a human passenger."  The UAV is powered by electricity and resembles a small helicopter but has four doubled propellers spinning parallel to the ground like other drones.

    Back to Top


    2015

    • December 21, 2015 – SpaceX Completes Historic Landing of Spent Orbital Rocket – SpaceX launches its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and then successfully lands the first–stage booster after deploying 11 Orbcomm data satellites into orbit. This is the first time that the company has vertically landed a spent orbital rocket.

    • December 21, 2015 – FAA Drone Registry Goes Live – NBC Nightly News reports that “if you own a drone, starting [Monday] the federal government said you have to register it with the FAA.” NBC noted that “all drones purchased before [Monday] must be registered by February 19th” and “drones bought later should be registered before the first flight.”

    • December 14, 2015 – FAA Announces Drone Registration Rules – Tom Costello reports on NBC Nightly News that the FAA is releasing new rules to take effect December 21 that will require all drone owners 13 years and older to register their drones online, “including name, address, and email.” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said, “We think this is not just about registering. This is also about educating and providing folks with the information they need to do this safely.” Other rules include flying below 400 feet and at least five miles from airports. Each offense carries a potential $1,100 fine.

    • December 12, 2015 – Aerodrome and Boulder City, NV Announce World’s First UAV Port – UAV developer Aerodrome announces on Saturday that the world’s first commercial droneport and teaching facility in Boulder City, NV, is being constructed in partnership with the city.

    • December 9, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Tests Drone Tracking System – Northrop Grumman recently tested a UAS tracking system called Venom, which tracks small drones and provides accurate coordinates of drone flight paths.

    • December 8, 2015 – Boeing Rolls Out First 737 MAX Jetliner at Employee Event – Boeing unveils its first 737 MAX aircraft to employees at its factory in Renton, Washington, demonstrating the latest update to Boeing’s popular 737 model, which has become the industry’s best–selling jet since it debuted in the 1960s.

    • December 8, 2015 – Honda Business Jet Receives FAA Approval – Honda announces that its recently unveiled business aircraft, the HondaJet, received type certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday.

    • December 3, 2015 – NASA Successfully Tests Drone Traffic Management System – NASA successfully completes its first tests of its unmanned aerial systems traffic management (UTM) system. The UTM system aims to serve as an air traffic control system for low–flying drones, roughly similar to ground traffic systems.

    • December 1, 2015 – Aerojet Rocketdyne Uses 3–D Printer to Develop Parts for Orion Spacecraft – Aerojet Rocketdyne announces that it has completed 12 additively manufactured production nozzle extensions for use aboard the Orion spacecraft,” which are “part of Orion’s crew module reaction control system that Aerojet Rocketdyne is building for Lockheed Martin and NASA.

    • November 29, 2015 – Last Boeing C–17 Leaves California Assembly Plant, Marking End of Operations – The commercial space bill is unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate.

    • November 24, 2015 – Blue Origin Launches, Lands Fully Reusable Rocket In Industry Milestone – Spaceflight company Blue Origin, backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announces that it has successfully launched its automated, fully reusable New Shepard launch vehicle into suborbital space and subsequently and successfully landed its capsule and spent rocket on Earth, achieving a significant milestone for the burgeoning commercial space industry.

    • November 24, 2015 – Airbus A320neo Receives European, U.S. Approval – Airbus receives regulatory approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the FAA for its A320neo single–aisle jet. With these certifications, Airbus is now able to make their deliveries of the plane.

    • November 23, 2015 – SpaceX Selected to Launch Astronauts to ISS – SpaceX receives official confirmation from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that it has been selected to transport astronauts from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station using its Dragon capsules. The SpaceX order arrives six months after NASA said Boeing would fly crews in CST–100 Starliner capsules launched by Atlas V rockets from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. While Boeing received its order ahead of SpaceX, it has not yet been determined which company will fly the first official mission to the space station after NASA certifies the programs’ safety.

    • November 20, 2015 – Turkey Downs Russian Fighter In Syria; Putin Vows “Serious Consequences” – On Tuesday, 20 November 2015, Turkish fighters patrolling the Syrian border shoot down a Russian aircraft after it purportedly violated Turkey’s airspace.

    • November 17, 2015 – DJI Introduces Geo–Fencing Technology for Drones – Chinese drone maker DJI introduces new software that automatically prevents drones from flying over restricted areas, including airports, prisons, and power plants. DJI is also working with a digital airspace data company, Airmap, to incorporate the FAA’s temporary flight restrictions. The software update will be installed on all DJI drones in the U.S. and Europe starting in December 2015.

    • November 16, 2015 – Chinese UAV Developer to Open Flagship Store – China’s SZ DJI Technology, the largest developer of unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, announces that is opening its first flagship retail store in a Shenzhen shopping center in December. The announcement comes as the consumer UAV market is expanding globally.

    • November 16, 2015 – Congress Approves Space Commerce Bill, Allowing Private Space Industry to Avoid Regulation – The U.S. Congress approves The Space Act, which prevents the government from regulating private space travel for the next eight years. Under the bill, the FAA will not be allowed to issue regulations and standards for commercial space travel until 2023.

    • November 11, 2015 – UN Accord to Enable Global Satellite Flight Tracking – In response to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014, a UN agreement will allow satellites to track jetliners anywhere in the world using common radio frequencies. At the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized UN communications agency, country delegates reach an agreement to allocate a portion of the radio spectrum to a global flight tracking system. Under the accord, satellites will be able to monitor Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B) signals, which airliners currently only transmit to other aircraft and ground stations.

    • November 10, 2015 – Commercial Space Bill Approved By Senate – The commercial space bill is unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate.

    • November 6, 2015 – Lockheed Martin Concludes Sikorsky Purchase – Lockheed Martin completes its acquisition of Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky will maintain its Stratford, Connecticut, headquarters under the terms of the deal. Lockheed Martin also announces that Dan Schultz, Lockheed vice president of ship & aviation systems, will serve as Sikorsky’s president. Sikorsky’s full official name is now “Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company.”

    • November 4, 2015 – NASA Announces Search for New Astronauts – NASA issues a press release announcing that it “will soon begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates,” which will “carry out deep–space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars.” As crew members of the International Space Station, the astronauts “will continue the vital work advanced during the last 15 years of continuous human habitation aboard the orbiting laboratory, expanding scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies.”

    • October 29, 2015 – Unmanned Sikorsky Black Hawk Successfully Completes Test Run – Officials announce that a recent prototype testing of an unmanned Sikorsky UH–60 Black Hawk was successful. According to the Paul Rogers, director of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, “The unmanned ground vehicle moved through a 10–kilometer scenario where it faced different chemical, biological hazards and then fed that data back via satellite.” Older Black Hawks could be retrofitted with the new technology.

    • October 28, 2015 – Unmanned Military Surveillance Blimp Breaks Free, Comes Down In Pennsylvania – One of the two unmanned surveillance blimps that the U.S. military uses to watch the East Coast from a base in Maryland becomes detached from its tethers and floats aimlessly over Pennsylvania, downing power lines and cutting off electricity for tens of thousands of residents. According to NORAD, “two F–16 fighter jets were scrambled to ensure it didn’t collide with other aircraft.” After drifting more than 100 miles, the blimp comes down close to Moreland Township in Pennsylvania, leaving a trail of damage in its wake.

    • October 27, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Wins Historic Bid to Build Next–Generation Bombers – The Pentagon announces that Northrop Grumman has been awarded a multi–billion contract to develop the next–generation Long Range Strike Bomber for the U.S. Air Force, outbidding a joint team from Lockheed Martin and Boeing. While the specific capabilities of the fighter jet are classified, the capabilities expected to be included are stealth, the ability to carry conventional and nuclear weapons, and the ability to possibly operate both with or without a pilot.

    • October 27, 2015 – U.S. Navy Appoints First Chief of Unmanned Systems – The U.S. Navy announced that Brigadier General Frank Kelley has been appointed as the very first deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy for unmanned systems. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus created the position in April, 2015, to address the growing importance of UAS.

    • October 22, 2015 – Space Launch System Finishes Critical Design Review – NASA announces that its Space Launch System (SLS), “designed to carry astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft into deep space,” has successfully completed its critical design review, signaling “the first time in nearly 40 years a manned rocket by the agency has achieved this stage in development," according to a NASA release.

    • October 16, 2015 – Lockheed’s Enhanced F–16V Fighter Makes First Flight – The newest model of the Lockheed Martin F–16, with a range of equipment enhancements including an active electronically scanned array...radar, makes its first flight from Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Texas production facility.

    • October 16, 2015 – Astronaut Scott Kelly Breaks American Record for Most Days In Space – Friday, October 16, 2016, marked the 383rd day that NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has spent living in space, breaking the American record. Kelly posted messages to his followers on Twitter, saying, “records are meant to be broken,” adding that one of his colleagues will likely break his record when NASA sends astronauts to Mars. By the end of his mission in March, 2016, Kelly will have spent 522 days in space, but Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka holds the overall human record with 879 days in space.

    • October 17, 2015 – Final US Airways Flight Completes Trip, Lands In Philadelphia – The last US Airways flight landed at Philadelphia International Airport at 5:54 am ET on Saturday, October 17, 2015, after departing from San Francisco on Friday evening. The AP notes that the flight number of the aircraft, 1939, was assigned for the founding year of the carrier.

    • October 13, 2015 – Dutch Report Says Russian–Made Missile Brought Down Malaysian Airliner – Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra announces that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 “crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane,” and investigators found “tell–tale fragments of a Russian–made BUK missile” in the bodies of the plane’s pilots. Russia, however, rejects the findings, saying that missile is no longer in its arsenal.

    • October 13, 2015 – Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra announces that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 “crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane,” and investigators found “tell–tale fragments of a Russian–made BUK missile” in the bodies of the plane’s pilots. Russia, however, rejects the findings, saying that missile is no longer in its arsenal.

    • October 2, 2015 – ULA Launches 100th Rocket – United Launch Alliance celebrated its 100th launch on Friday, October 2, with an Atlas V rocket carrying a Mexican communications satellite that will provide cellular voice, data, Internet, and video services.

    • October 1, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Wins Pentagon Global Hawk UAV Contract – Northrop Grumman wins a Defense Department contract for continued development, modernization, and maintenance of all Air Force variants of the Global Hawk UAV. The contract is valued up to $3.2 billion.

    • September 28, 2015 – NASA Announces Evidence of Liquid Water On Mars – NASA announced findings of the strongest evidence yet that liquid water is flowing or has flowed recently on the surface of Mars. NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld told reporters that “It suggests that it would be possible for life to be on Mars today.”

    • September 23, 2015 – FAA Grants Approval to NFL to Use UAVs – The FAA grants NFL Films permission to use UAVs, making it the first major sports league to receive authorization. The authorization will not allow the NFL to use drones to film live games, but they are allowed to gather footage from closed–set locations around NFL stadiums and practice facilities to make films and television segments. The NFL will also be required to submit flight plans three days in advance and maintain drone speeds under 100 miles per hour. The NFL’s petition is approved under a section of federal law that allows the Transportation Department to waive requirements for FAA approval for drone flights that are operated outside of restricted airspace and below 200 feet.

    • September 22, 2015 – FAA Approves Over 1,500 UAV Flight Exemptions – FAA has approves 1,546 Section 333 exemptions for nonmilitary UAV flights, as part of its continuing effort to safely expand and support commercial unmanned aircraft operations in U.S. airspace, The FAA says in a statement that it granted many of the exemptions to allow aerial filming for uses such as motion picture production, precision agriculture and real estate photography, The agency also issues grants for new and novel approaches to inspecting power distribution towers and wiring, railroad infrastructure and bridges.

    • September 20, 2015 – China’s Long March–6 Rocket Launched For First Time –China launches the Long March–6 rocket for the first time. Carrying 20 small satellites, the rocket is designed for carrying satellites aloft. The rocket was first announced in 2009, but was originally scheduled to make its first launch back in 2013.

    • September 17, 2015 – Orion’s First Manned Flight Pushed Back Until 2023 – NASA officials state that there is not much confidence that the Orion capsule can launch in 2021 on its first manned flight because of the history of running into unexpected problems in new programs.

    • September 17, 2015 – Naval Postgraduate School Students Create Swarm Of 50 UAVs – A Naval Postgraduate School project leads to the creation of a record–breaking drone swarm, in which 50 UAVs were all piloted by a single operator. The custom UAVs use a Wi–Fi–based system to communicate and create a cooperative flight plan that could lead to potentially useful and even life–saving applications down the road, such as aiding search–and–rescue efforts.

    • September 15, 2015 – Blue Origin Will Launch Payloads and Crews from Florida – Jeff Bezos announces that Blue Origin will build rockets that can launch science payloads and people — including space tourists and even himself — into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company, which plans to begin launches by the end of the decade, will use a Florida launch complex that was last used in 2005.

    • September 16, 2015 – Sweden Installs First Remote–Control ATC Tower – Ornskoldsvik Airport in northern Sweden is the first airport in the world in which its air traffic controllers will guide aircraft remotely using cameras installed at the airport. Similar technology is currently being tested at several European airports and one U.S. airport.

    • September 14, 2015 – North Korea Announces Space Rocket Launch – North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration states that it is pushing forward in the final phase [with] the development of a new earth observation satellite for weather forecast, a move that the U.S. and South Korea have been expecting as a way to test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

    • September 14, 2015 – Airbus Opens New Production Plant In Alabama – Airbus opens its first U.S. jetliner production facility in Mobile, Alabama. The U.S. facility will be able to produce planes at a lower cost than similar facilities in Europe and gives it potential leverage over its European workforce. The new plant is part of Airbus’ plan for challenging Boeing Co. for supremacy. Deliveries from the plant should start early next year ... with the production tempo increasing to four aircraft a month by early 2018.

    • September 14, 2015 – Three ISS Astronauts Safely Return to Earth – Astronauts Gennady Padalka, Andreas Mogensen, and Aidyn Aimbetov return to Earth on schedule on Saturday in a Soyuz capsule. While Padalka spent 168 days at the station, giving him a world record of 879 total days in space, the other two astronauts only spent 10 days in space, with Mogensen and Aimbetov having the distinction of being the first astronauts from their countries to fly into space.

    • September 9, 2015 – Ohio Community College Unveils $5 Million UAV Center – Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio unveils its $5 million National Unmanned Aerial Systems Training and Certification Center. The center will provide students with access to 3–D advanced manufacturing, drone simulators, a wind tunnel and improved labs. The facility will house about 120 UAVs, and nearly 500 students will take classes at the center during the first academic year.

    • September 5, 2015 – Scott Kelly Assumes Command of ISS – NASA astronaut Scott Kelly assumes command of the International Space Station during a brief ceremony in the Japanese Kibo module. As he turned over command, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka says he regrets his impending departure but thanks the other crew members for supporting each other and for working together. Kelly praises Padalka’s wisdom and experience, saying  it’s really been a privilege and an honor to serve as one of his crew members.

    • August 31, 2015 – NASA Announces Second Target for New Horizons Spacecraft – NASA announces New Horizons’ next target: a small, icy body known as 2014 MU69. If NASA approves a mission extension, the spacecraft will visit the object, an intermediate–size Kuiper belt object which is almost a billion miles beyond Pluto, in 2019.

    • August 28, 2015 – ISRO Conducts Successful GSLV Rocket Launch – ISRO successfully launches the GSAT–6 satellite using a GSLV–D6 rocket with an indigenous cryogenic engine, making it the second successful launch in a row for the technology. The first time the rocket was sent into space was back in January 2014 following two failures in 2010.

    • August 27, 2015 – NASA Tests Engine for Next–Gen Rocket – NASA completes the first series of developmental testing on its RS–25 engines, which will be used on the Space Launch System (SLS) for missions into deep space. The tests conclude following a seventh hot fire test from the A–1 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The test on the developmental RS–25 engine ran for 535 seconds.

    • August 26, 2015 – New Ceres Images Highlight Four–Mile–High Mountain – The latest images of the dwarf planet Ceres taken by the Dawn spacecraft, feature a four–mile–tall mountain. The images also reveal more of the Occator crater, along with its bright spots. JPL’s Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, says, The spacecraft’s view is now three times as sharp as in its previous mapping orbit, revealing exciting new details of this intriguing dwarf planet.

    • August 26, 2015 – Global Hawk UAV Launches Today to Study Tropical Storm Erika – NASA and NOAA launch a Global Hawk UAV from the Wallops Flight Facility to study Tropical Storm Erika for the preliminary phase of the Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology project. A NASA press release claims that the information from the flights may bring “a drastic improvement in predicting such weather events as tropical storms, winter storms and major floods."

    • August 24, 2015 – UK Airshow Turns Deadly – A military jet crashes into a busy road during the Shoreham Airshow in Sussex, causing a massive fireball. While the pilot survives the crash at least seven others are killed.

    • August 19, 2015 – Teal Group Study Finds UAV Market Will Triple Over Next Decade – According to a market study by the Teal Group, the UAV market will more than triple in value over the next decade to $14 billion with sales of about $93 billion over that same period. According to the article, the study found that the military will still account for 72% of the market, with consumer UAVs at 23%, and 5% from the civil/commercial sector.

    • August 14, 2015 – 2015 Sees Dramatic Increase In UAS Sightings Near Planes – NBC Nightly News reports a dramatic increase in drones spotted flying near planes, citing the FAA, and “now the government is looking for ways to take some of the air out of the high–flying hobby.” NBC said that the “latest high–flying scare” occurred in Fresno, California, when a drone was part of “a near miss” with a “medivac helicopter transporting a patient.” A new FAA report noted that “the number of incidents like this has tripled.” The The FAA said that through August 9, pilots spotted UAS while flying over 650 times in 2015, as opposed to only 238 sightings last year. The AP reports that there were 137 UAS sightings by pilots in June and 137 in July, a sharp rise from the 16 and 36 sightings reported in June and July of 2014, respectively.

    • August 13, 2015 – Startup Flies First Legal UAV Over New York City Today – Aerobo Aerial Robotics flies a UAV over New York City today using a federal permit. Bills have been introduced in the New York City Council that would limit most UAV flights while the FAA crafts regulations for commercial use of the pilotless aircraft. Councilman Daniel Garodnick has introduced a measure that would only allow law enforcement to operate UAVs.

    • August 10, 2015 – Astronauts Eat Food Grown In Space for First Time – For the first time, astronauts eat red romaine lettuce grown in space. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren calls it “awesome,” and Scott Kelly says it was like arugula. Kelly says, “Having the ability for us to grow our own food is a big step” toward sending people to Mars. The New York Times describes the event as “a long–awaited harvest for the astronauts.”

    • August 10, 2015 – 3–D Printed UAV Launched from Ship – Engineers at the University of Southampton, in the United Kingdom, build a UAV using 3–D printing, and then successfully launch it from the Royal Navy warship HMS Mersey. The craft flies approximately 1,640 feet to land safely on shore. The SULSA UAV takes about 48 hours to print and cool before it’s ready to use; its four parts click into place like a puzzle toy.

    • August 7, 2015 – Rosetta Spacecraft Marks First Anniversary Orbiting Comet 67P – ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft is still returning new images and insights into comet 67P one year after entering orbit. Nicolas Altobelli, acting Rosetta project scientist, says in a statement that there has been “a wealth of information” obtained over the past year.

    • August 4, 2015 – Airbus Patents Plane That Flies Faster Than Concorde – Airbus patents an ultra–rapid air vehicle featuring new turbojets and a hydrogen power system, that is able to travel twice as fast as the Concorde. The patent is only approved for a period of one year, and that it is unlikely the vehicle will become a reality any time soon.

    • July 31, 2015 – F–35B Ready to Take Part In Combat Missions –Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford announces that the F–35 is ready to engage in combat missions. The first squadron of 10 F–35Bs will operate out of Yuma Air Force Base.

    • July 30, 2015 – Facebook Creates Its First UAV, Which Will Eventually Use Lasers to Beam Data – Facebook announces that it has constructed its first unmanned drone and found a way to vastly increase the capacity of the lasers that will eventually beam data between the drone network and the ground. A team in Great Britain has been building the Aquila solar–powered UAV for about 14 months, and it is now ready for its first in–flight tests, likely to be in the U.S.

    • July 28, 2015 – NTSB Faults Scaled Composites and FAA for Fatal Flight Test – The NTSB announces on Tuesday, July 28, that the in–flight breakup of Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipTwo flight on October 31, 2014 was most likely the result of human error, which Scaled Composites failed to consider when designing the feather braking system.

    • July 24, 2015 – Kepler Finds Closest Earth Analog So Far – NASA announces that the Kepler space telescope discovered an exoplanet known as Kepler 452b, which may be the closest thing yet to Earth.

    • July 24, 2015 – Teams Have Completed SLS’ Critical Design Review – 13 teams complete the Space Launch System’s (SLS) critical design review at the Marshal Space Flight Center. If the SLS passes, NASA will begin full–scale building of the rocket. SLS Program Manager Todd May says, “Critical design review represents a major commitment by the agency to human exploration...and through these reviews, we ensure the SLS design is on track to being a safe, sustainable and evolvable launch vehicle that will meet the agency’s goals and missions. It’s an exciting time for NASA and our nation."

    • July 20, 2015 – UAV Delivers Prescription Medications in Rural Southwest Virginia – The “Kitty Hawk moment” in UAV deliveries is made by a medical drone in Virginia that brings multiple shipments of prescription drugs to about a dozen patients in the Appalachian region. The deliveries are one of the first federally approved deliveries by drone.

    • July 16, 2015 – Effort to Fly Solar–Powered Plane Around World Suspended – An attempt to fly a solar–powered plane around the world is ending in Hawaii after suffering battery damage. The Solar Impulse team says in a news release that it will continue the attempt to circumnavigate the globe, but overheating caused damage. The pilots say in a statement that while the flight has “cover[ed] nearly half of the journey, setbacks are part of the challenges of a project which is pushing technological boundaries to the limits.”

    • July 14, 2015 – New Horizons Reveals Pluto’s Size One Day Before Historic Flyby – The New Horizons mission reveals that Pluto is larger than previously calculated. The CBS Evening News broadcast that the first close–ups of Pluto will be seen on Wednesday, July 15.

    • July 13, 2015 – Prototype Electric Plane Crosses English Channel –Airbus Group SE’s electric two–seat E–Fan demonstrator plane flies across the English Channel – from Lydd, England to Calais, France – in 36 minutes. The craft misses being the first electric plane to cross the channel as private pilot Hugues Duval flew it in his home–built, single–seat Cri–Cri plane.

    • July 6, 2015 – Solar Impulse 2 Completes Record Setting Flight Across Pacific, Lands In Hawaii –Solar Impulse 2 flew a record–breaking 118–hour journey across the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii. With its landing on Friday, the plane completed the riskiest leg of the plane’s global travels as there was nowhere for it to land in an emergency.

    • June 29, 2015 – SpaceX Suffers Launch Failure – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket fails to launch cargo to the ISS, another setback for both NASA and SpaceX, which wants to one day send astronauts to the ISS. This is the third cargo launch failure in eight months. The ISS crew is in no immediate trouble, with ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini revealing that the station has enough food to last until October.

    • June 15, 2015 – Contact Reestablished With Philae Lander – Contact is reestablished with the Philae lander, which had not been heard from since it landed on a comet last year. Signals of activity were received for about a minute and a half.

    • June 9, 2015 – DJI Releases Its First UAV Guidance System – DJI releases its first guidance system for UAVs, which entails a combination of ultrasonic sensors and stereo cameras to sense objects within 65 feet. It will be technology like DJI’s that will allow UAVs to become part of “everyday life, enabling ambitious projects like Amazon’s Prime Air.”

    • June 5, 2015 – Russia Successfully Launches Its First Rocket Since Cargo Mission Failure –A Soyuz 2.1A rocket successfully launches with a Russian military satellite, the first time since a much–publicized failure in April of a Progress cargo spacecraft to the ISS.

    • June 2, 2015 – F–35 to Take Part In Its First Major Military Exercise – A F–35 fighter jet takes part in its first major military exercise. The exercise examines how the jet conducts air–to–surface encounters. General Herbert Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, says that even though the program still needs to work out how some data is displayed to pilots in the cockpit, the jet still is “impressive.”

    • May 27, 2015 – Marine Corps F–35s Undergoing First Operational Tests at Sea –Marine Corps F–35 jets are undergoing their first operational testing at sea from the amphibious assault ship Wasp.

    • May 22, 2015 – Sikorsky S–97 Raider Makes Its First Flight – Sikorsky’s S–97 Raider makes its first flight.  Officials expect the S–97 Raider to reach its top speed of 276 mph sometime this year.

    • May 20, 2015 – Gulfstream Announces First Test Flight of G500 – Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announces the first test flight of its G500 business jet. The plane will undergo three years of testing before the first delivery, planned for 2018.

    • May 19, 2015 – SpaceX Falcon 9 Certified by NASA –  NASA formally certifies SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket for use in all but the agency’s most costly robotic science missions. Its first launch will be for a United States and France oceanography satellite in July. 

    • May 13, 2015 – House Committee Adopts SPACE Act – The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee adopts the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015, which allows commercial spaceflight companies to “operate under clearer rules and extended liability protections.”

    • May 13, 2015 – NASA Releases Draft Technology Roadmaps – NASA releases a new series of draft 2015 Technology Roadmaps on Monday, providing a detailed examination of the agency’s anticipated missions and technological advancements over the next two decades. According to the plan, NASA believes sharing this document with the broader community will "increase awareness, generate innovative solutions to provide the capabilities for space exploration and scientific discovery and inspire others to get involved in America’s space program."

    • May 12, 2015 – SLS Enters Critical Design Review – The Space Launch System (SLS) enters its Critical Design Review (CDR), “the last step in the design process before the hardware starts to come together.”

    • May 11, 2015 – Airbus A400M Crashes During Test Flight In Spain – An Airbus A400M crashes during a test flight in Spain, which raises questions about the security of the brand new, propeller–driven transport aircraft. Four of the six crew members aboard the plane die. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says, “I hope there will be maximum transparency when explanations are made as to what happened here. That’s what I’m going to ask of Airbus.”

    • May 8, 2015 – Flight Tests Begin for Leap–1B Engine – Fights tests begin on CFM International’s Leap–1B engine that will be used by the Boeing 737 MAX, another step toward the start of 737 MAX flight tests in 2016.

    • May 7, 2015 – SpaceX Successfully Tests Pad Abort System –SpaceX successfully tests a launch escape system, an important advance in private space flight. NASA spokesman Mike Curie says that the test for the manned version of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft was “unlike any seen in Florida since the days of Apollo.”

    • May 5, 2015 – RMAX UAV Receives FAA Approval to Spray Crops – The FAA announces that a UAV called RMAX, which is large enough to carry tanks of fertilizers and pesticides, was given approval by the agency last Friday for use in the U.S. RMAX is manufactured by Yamaha Corp and is a remotely piloted helicoptermthat will spray crops.

    • May 4, 201 5 – Study Shows Astronauts Could Suffer Brain Damage from Radiation – A new NASA–funded study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Nevada determines that prolonged exposure to the radiation in deep space “could cause subtle brain damage,” negatively affecting memory and decision making.

    • April 30, 2015 – FAA Switches to New Air Traffic Control System –,The FAA announces that it has “switched to a new air traffic control system” called En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) “for the 20 regional centers that direct high–altitude planes between airports.” The system has “three times as many sensors to track planes more precisely.” While announcing the upgrade at Reagan National Airport, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says, “Here’s the bottom line: ERAM will use satellite technology to give us a much more precise picture of air traffic and it will allow us to more efficiently manage flights from takeoff to touchdown.”

    • April 30, 2015 – New Shepard Capsule Reaches Altitude of 58 Miles On First Flight – The first unmanned flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, which reaches an altitude of 58 miles. Although it “parachuted to a landing in the west Texas desert,” the booster itself was not recovered after it suffered from “a pressure problem.”

    • April 29, 2015 – Lockheed Martin Develops New UAV to Help Locate Lost Individuals – Lockheed Martin announces it has developed a new Indago UAV to assist in the location of people with cognitive disabilities or diseases. The new UAV should reduce the amount of time and costs involved in locating those who are lost.

    • April 22, 2015 – X–47B Becomes First Unmanned Aircraft To Undergo Aerial Refueling – The Northrop Grumman X–47B test aircraft became the first unmanned aircraft to undergo and successfully execute an aerial refueling. Navy Captain Beau Duarte, the program manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program, says that the capability demonstrated should improve the range of future UAVs.

    • April 15, 2015 – Airbus Reveals First Leap–Powered A320neo – Airbus reveals its first A320neo to be fitted with the CFM International Leap–1A powerplant. Although CFM produces the CFM56 for the A320 family, the Leap is designed to slash fuel–burn on the re–engined variant.

    • April 14, 2015 – UAV Flies Using Smartphone’s Camera – The University of Pennsylvania and Qualcomm demonstrate how a UAV with a smartphone strapped into its skeleton body can fly using the phone’s camera to steer from visual input.

    • April 13, 2015 – ULA Unveils New Vulcan Rocket Concept – United Launch Alliance (ULA) reveals details about its new Vulcan rocket, which will have reusable engines, which could lower launch prices. The rocket will be used for multistop missions as well. the rocket is ULA’s way to deal with the rise of SpaceX and Congress’ displeasure with the reliance on Russian engines for launches. Reuters reports that the Vulcan could fly as early in 2019, while the Centaur engine is scheduled to be replaced by 2023.

    • April 11, 2015 – Apollo 13 Launched 45 Years Ago – 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 launch, which becomes one of NASA’s “greatest triumphs” after crews successfully bring the astronauts back home safely on April 17.

    • April 9, 2015 – FAA Approves Amazon UAV Use for Delivery Service Research – USA Today reports that “the FAA announced that Amazon was one of 30 exemptions the agency granted a day earlier for commercial drones.” USA Today notes that Amazon plans to use drones in research for a proposed delivery service called Amazon Prime Air.

    • April 9, 2015 – AIG Becomes the Third Insurer to Gain FAA Approval for UAV Use – American International Group (AIG) has becomes the third insurer to gain the FAA’s approval to use a UAV for inspections. According to the article, UAVs can potentially transform the insurance industry. With insurers USAA and AIG, the FAA has approved a total of 99 commercial UAV operations.

    • April 7, 2015 – FAA Grants USAA Permission to Test Small UAVs In San Antonio – USAA receives FAA permission “to test small drones on its San Antonio campus and in some unpopulated, rural areas south of the city.” USAA “eventually wants to be able to use the drones to expedite insurance claims from customers following natural disasters.” State Farm is the first insurer to gain FAA approval to use a UAV.

    • April 6, 2015 – Reaper Takes Out Sea Target In Test – A MQ–9 Reaper UAV sinks a “sea–going target” for the first time during tests in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • March 30, 2015 – Astronaut Scott Kelly Begins Nearly Year Long Mission On Board ISS – ABC World News declares Astronaut Scott Kelly the “Person of the Week” on its Friday broadcast for agreeing to spend almost an entire year in space. NASA will now study [Scott Kelly and his brother Mark Kelly] with nearly identical genetic makeup to show what a year in space does to the human body. The idea being, one day, missions to Mars might take even longer than a year. The mission is about twice as long as a standard mission. This is NASA’s first attempt at a one–year spaceflight; four Russians have spent a year or more in space.

    • March 30, 2015 – NASA Chooses Option B for Asteroid Redirection Mission – Florida Today reports on the decision by NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot to send a spacecraft to an asteroid and retrieve a boulder from it and put it into orbit around the moon. Lightfoot explains the attraction of the chosen asteriod, saying, “I’m going to have multiple targets when I get there, is what it boils down to.” Current plans are to launch the spacecraft in 2020. The Spaceflight Insider reported that NASA concluded that Option B would cost $100 million more than Option A, towing an entire asteroid into lunar orbit. Lightfoot said that the mission “will provide an initial demonstration of several spaceflight capabilities we will need to send astronauts deeper into space, and eventually, to Mars.”

    • March 30, 2015 – Carriers, Regulators Move to Require at Least Two Pilots In Cockpits – United Airlines parent company United Continental Holdings ends its policy of allowing just one pilot in the cockpit of some Boeing Co. jetliners following the Germanwings crash, which investigators say was intentionally done by the co–pilot. Many airlines and regulators move to require that no pilot be alone. Lufthansa announces “that it will now require two authorized crew members in the cockpit of its flights at all times.” Similar announcements come from a number of other carriers, including Air Canada, EasyJet, and Norwegian Air Shuttle, even as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommends that all European airlines require two authorized people in the cockpit of a commercial flight. Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says a similar policy went into effect immediately for passenger flights there.

    • March 24, 2015 – German Airbus A320 Crashes in French Alps – An Airbus A320 airliner flying from Barcelona to Düsseldorf crashes in the mountains of southern France. The Airbus A320 making the flight for Lufthansa’s subsidiary, Germanwings, crashes near the small mountain village of Barcelonette in the southern Alps with at least 144 passengers and six crew members on board.

    • March 20, 2015 – FAA Approves Amazon’s Request for Experimental Use of Drones Outdoors – The Federal Aviation Administration gives 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.

    • March 18, 2015 – MQ–9 Reaper Fleet Achieves One Million Flight Hours – The operational fleet of MQ–9 Reaper UAVs, which serves 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. TGeneral Atomics Aeronautical Systems says that it could double the current production rate of the UAVs if needed.

    • March 17, 2015 – FAA Approves More UAV Uses by Commercial Companies – UAV operator 3D Aerial Solutions LLC Becomes one of the few firms in the U.S. with the FAA’s blessing to fly a drone commercially. The FAA program grants permission to less than 50 UAV operators around the country. TFAA rules are currently under public review and “may be in place within two years.”

    • March 12, 2015 – SLS Booster Tests In Spectacular Display – NASA successfully test fires a souped–up version of a space shuttle solid rocket booster, for two minutes. With the first pre–flight test for the Space Launch System,  NASA is one step closer to undertaking deep space missions.

    • March 9, 2015 – Solar Impulse–2 Begins Its Flight Around the World – Solar Impulse–2 starts 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. Desspite 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.

    • March 7, 2015 – Dawn Becomes First Spacecraft to Visit a Dwarf Planet –The Dawn spacecraft enters Ceres’ orbit, making it the first spacecraft ever to visit a dwarf planet. Dawn Chief Engineer Marc Rayman says: “It went exactly the way we expected. Dawn gently, elegantly slid into Ceres’ gravitational embrace. ... The real drama is exploring this alien, exotic world.”

    • March 6, 2015 – Dawn Spacecraft Arrives at Ceres Today – Once the spacecraft is in orbit, Ceres will no longer be "the largest unexplored space rock in the inner solar system," according to the Associated Press

    • March 5 2015 – FAA Approves Airworthiness For U.S.–Made Airbus AS350 AStar – FAA grants 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.

    • February 27, 2015 – Bombardier CSeries 300 Makes Its First Flight –Bombardier’s CSeries 300 makes its first flight after being delayed a day because of frigid winter weather. The flight was a welcome light at the end of the tunnel for a program that has suffered delays and rising costs.

    • February 27, 2015 – Solar Impulse 2 Flies Over Abu Dhabi In Test Flight – Thee Solar Impulse 2 plane completesa 12–hour test flight over Abu Dhabi preparing for its ambitious plan to fly around the world using just solar energy.

    • February 26, 2015 – Researchers Reveal First 3D Printed Engine – Monash University researchers reveal 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.

    • February 24, 2015 – Russia Will Remain In ISS Partnership Through 2024 – Roscosmos states that it plans to utilize the ISS through 2024. After that, Russia will use its segment of the station to develop its own space station.

    • February 24 2015 – X–37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team Wins AIAA Foundation Award For Excellence – The  AIAA Foundation announces it will award 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, says, “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.”

    • Feburary 18, 2015 – Progress Spacecraft Launches and Docks at ISS On Tuesday – A Progress cargo spacecraft launches from Kazakhstan and then docks at the ISS six hours later. There are problems with the automatic docking procedures.

    • February 15,  2015 – FAA Proposes Rules for Commercial UAV Use – The FAA unveils proposed rules that will permit the commercial operation of unmanned aircraft. Anchor Lester Holt states 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 reports 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.”

    • February 14, 2015 – Last ATV Leaves ISS – On Saturday, February 14, Europe’s last Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) undocks from the ISS to destructively reenter the atmosphere. Because of a minor power issue, a plan to use the “suicide plunge” to plan for the ISS’ eventual deorbiting is scrapped.

    • February 6, 2015 – Dassault Falcon 8X Begins Flight Test Campaign – Dassault Aviation begins flight testing its Falcon 8X ultra–long–range business jet on Friday, February 6, 2015. Test pilot Eric Gérard says that the plane has “excellent handling qualities.” Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation chairman and chief executive, added that the plane is now heading toward a 2016 certification.

    • February 5, 2015 – 2014 Was “Safest Year Ever” for Flying – BBC News reports 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.”

    • February 4, 2015 – TransAsia Airways ATR 72 Crashes Soon After Takeoff – A TransAsia Airways ATR 72 propjet aircraft with 58 passengers crashes 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. Tis the second time one of the airline’s ATR 72s has crashed this past year.

    • January 30, 2015 – First Citation Latitude Rolls Off Production Line – Cessna rolls the first Citation Latitude off its production line. The FAA could certify the plane in the second quarter of 2015.

    • January 28, 2015 – Boeing to Build Next Version of Air Force One – The Pentagon announces Wednesday, January 28, 2015, that the contract to build the next version of Air Force One will go to Boeing for the latest generation 747, the 800 series.

    • January 26, 2015 – UAV Crashes On White House Lawn – A “small drone” crashes onto the White House grounds early Monday morning, “raising alarms.” ABC reports 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 say “it is developing counter measures, concerned that future drones might well be dangerous.”

    • January 23, 2015 – Aurora Flight Sciences Claims Orion UAV Achieved Endurance Record – Aurora Flight Sciences claims that its Orion UAV achieved “a world endurance record” when it flew for 80 hours in December. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) could certify the accomplishment “within weeks.” 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.

    • January 21, 2015 – UAV Crashes During Demonstration at Capitol Hill Hearing – 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 UAV was able to continue with the display.

    • January 20, 2015 – SpaceX Announces Satellite Internet Venture – Elon Musk hosts an event in Seattle to launch a new satellite Internet venture.

    • January 20, 2015 – FAA Approves UAS Testing at University of Missouri – The University of Missouri (MU) wins 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.”

    • January 16, 2015 – New Horizons Spacecraft Begins Approach Phase for Pluto Flyby – 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.”

    • January 15, 2015 – New Horizons Spacecraft Begins Approach Phase for Pluto Flyby – Today, January 15, 2015, marks 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.

    • January 14, 2015 – Navy Chooses V–22 Osprey for Future COD – The U.S. Navy decides to replace its C–2A Greyhound turboprop aircraft with V–22 Osprey tiltrotors for carrier on board delivery missions. The memorandum of understanding states 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.”

    • January 12, 2015 – CNN Teaming with FAA to Test UAVs for Reporting – CNN announcemes 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.”

    • January 12, 2015 – Airbus A330–300 Makes Its First Flight – On January 12, an Airbus A330–300, an A330 “with an increased 242–tonne maximum takeoff weight capability” makes 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.

    • January 10, 2015 – SpaceX Rocket Main Booster Returns to Platform but Fails to Stick Landing – On Saturday, January 10, 2015, SpaceX succesfully launches a Dragon capsule with cargo to the ISS, with its replacements for cargo lost during Orbital Sciences’ launch failure in October. However, SpaceX suffers a “high–profile flop” when its “unprecedented” attempt to land the Falcon 9’s main booster on a barge fails. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is reportedly “encouraged” that the booster was able to fly back to the barge even though it landed too hard.

    • January 6, 2015 – FAA Grants UAV Permits for Agriculture, Real Estate Companies – The FAA issues 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, marking 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.

    • January 7, 2015 – Small UAV Market To Exceed $8 Billion by 2019 – 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.”

    • January 2, 2015 – FAA Fails to Meet 2014 Goal for UAV Regulations – the FAA misses 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 30 September 2015.

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    2014  

    • December 23, 2014 – Airbus Delivers First A350 To Qatar Airways – Airbus delivers the first A350 to Qatar Airways, making it the first customer to receive the plane. 

    • December 11, 2014 – Four Companies Gain FAA Approval for UAV Operations – Four companies win FAA approval to fly commercial drones to conduct aerial surveys, monitor construction sites and inspect oil flare stacks. Trimble Navigation Limited, VDOS Global, Clayco Inc. and Woolpert Inc. were officially provided the agency’s approval.

    • December 5, 2014 – University of Maryland’s UAV Testing Site Now Operational – The University of Maryland’s UAV testing site is now operational. A team led by Matt Scassero, who also directs the facility, launched a Talon 240 UAV on Friday, December 5, 2014, as the inaugural flight. 

    • December 5, 2014 – Orion Test Flight Launches – NASA launchs its Orion spacecraft on a test flight on Friday morning, a day after various issues caused the agency to scrub the initial launch attempt. The AP reports Orion “streaked toward orbit Friday on a high–stakes test flight meant to usher in a new era of human exploration leading ultimately to Mars.” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. said, “The star of the day is Orion,” adding that this is “Day One of the Mars era.” 

    • December 5, 2014 – U.S. Navy Receives First Operational MQ–8C Fire Scout – The first operational MQ–8C Fire Scout UAV is delivered to the U.S. Navy. The delivery comes ahead of the Fire Scout’s first ship–board flight tests scheduled to begin on the USS Jason Dunham destroyer. 

    • November 26, 2014 – ISS’ 3–D Printer Creates First Object Made In Space – The ISS’s new 3–D printer replicates its first part: “a sample replacement part for itself.” Dan Huot, a NASA spokesman, said that some of the material stuck to the printer’s tray, but called it “part of the learning process.”  Made In Space, which developed the printer, calls the milestone “a transformative moment.” 

    • November 26, 2014 – FAA Launches NextGen at Washington, DC Area Airports – The FAA announces Tuesday that it has completed work related to the NextGen project in the Washington Metroplex, which covers the airspace that surroundsReagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Baltimore–Washington International Airport (BWI). FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the technology would significantly “ease air traffic congestion around the nation’s capital.” 

    • November 23, 2014 – Italy’s First Female Astronaut Arrives at ISS – NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency join their Expedition 42 crew members when hatches between their Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station opened at midnight EST Sunday, November 23, 2014.

    • November 13, 2014 – F–35 Makes Its First Nighttime Launch Off of Carrier – A U.S. Navy F–35C makes its first nighttime flight from an aircraft carrier Thursday, November 13, 2014. The milestone comes as the Navy approaches the end of sea–based testing aboard the USS Nimitz. To date, the Navy has conducted 101 catapult launches.

    • November 13, 2014 – FAA Certifies Airbus A350 – Airbus announced that the FAA has certified its A350 jetliner. This followed European Aviation Safety Agency certification back in September. Reuters reported that the A350 should enter service by the end of the year.

    • November 12, 2014 – Rosetta’s Lander Philae Lands Successfully on Comet – At 11:03 a.m. EST, Wednesday, the European Space Agency confirms that signals were received from the Rosetta spacecraft's Philae lander on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, marking the first time that a spacecraft has made a soft landing on a comet. Rosetta is an international mission led by the ESA, with instruments provided by member states, and additional support and instruments provided by NASA.

    • November 2, 2014 – F–35C Lands On Aircraft Carrier for First Time – A Lockheed Martin F–35C successfully lands on the USS Nimitz on Monday, November 2, 2014, the first time the jet has ever landed on an aircraft carrier using a tailhook system. Since the project was restructured back in 2010, the program has generally met scheduled targets, although testing has been delayed by 45 to 50 days because of a fleet–wide grounding earlier in 2014. The current sea–based trials will continue through November, 17, 2014.

    • October 31, 2014 – Assembly Complete On Orion Spacecraft – Lockheed Martin Space Systems completes assembly of the Orion capsule, and is ready to be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center for its first launch on December 4, 2014. 

    • October 30, 2014 – SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Test Flight – Virgin Galactic’s space tourism rocket, SpaceShipTwo, explodes after taking off on a test flight in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. One pilot is killed and another injured, according to the California Highway Patrol. The SpaceShipTwo rocket, which has been under development at Mojave Air and Space Port, is normally flown by a crew of two pilots. “During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo,” Virgin Galactic tweeted Friday, October 30, 2014.

    • October 29, 2014 – F–35C Jet Lands at Naval Air Station Oceana for First Time – For the first time, an operational F–35C jet lands at Naval Air Station Oceana, “the Navy’s master jet base on the East Coast.” The F–35C is sent to the base so that aviators can “view it and receive a briefing from the jet’s flight crew and maintainers.”

    • October 28, 2014 – Lifeguard UAV Set for Mass Production – Popular Science reports on a lifeguard UAV that will one day be able to help drowning swimmers by flying above them and releasing a life preserver. The Pars UAV is designed by Amin Rigi and RTS Labs, and now Rigi is “launching an RTS Labs offshoot, RTS London, to mass produce the drones.” In one test video, the UAV “reaches a swimmer in 22 seconds, more than a full minute faster than a lifeguard who started at the same time.”

    • October 21, 2014 – Bombardier’s Learjet 85 Debuts at NBAA – Bombardier’s Learjet 85 debuts at the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Orlando. Bombardier Business Aircraft President Eric Martel says the aircraft “flies beautifully and there are no changes planned,” but he does not disclose the certification timetable for the Learjet 85, which was launched in 2007 and was scheduled for service entry in 2013. He adds that its maiden flight took place in April, and that it has made 60 flights since then.

    • October 16, 2014 – After 674 Days In Space, X–37B Space Plane Lands – The U.S. Air Force’s X–37B “top secret” space plane lands safely at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday, October 16, 2014, after spending 674 days in orbit.

    • October 13, 2014 – Gulfstream Unveils Two New Business Jets – On Tuesday, October 14, 2014, Gulfstream rolls out a completed G500 test aircraft, which was developed in secret, as part of the unveiling of the new G500 and G600 business jets. 

    • October 15, 2014 – Bell Helicopter Shows First Full–Scale Mockup of Its V–280 Valor – Bell Helicopter debuts its first full–scale mockup of the V–280 Valor tiltrotor at the AUSA conference and exhibition. According to Bell, the aircraft will have “twice the range and double the speed of any existing helicopter,” and unlike the V–22 Osprey, its rotors “tilt independent of its two engines,” allowing for “variable pitch and better stability in hover and transition.” 

    • October 8, 2014 – NASA Testing Drones to Spot Wildfires – NASA’s Langley Research Center enters a one–year agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “to test small unmanned drones for the detection of brush and forest fires” at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Army provided the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at no cost to NASA, and infrared and visual cameras were added. Mike Logan, the research lead at NASA Langley, said that such UAVs, compared to manned aircraft, cost less, can be used more frequently, and can be used sooner when spotting fires.

    • October 3, 2014 – Sikorsky Unveils S–97 Raider Prototype – Sikorsky unveils the S–97 Raider, the prototype of a revolutionary rotocraft design that could dramatically improve the speed and hover capabilities of traditional helicopter. The S–97 Raider has dual coaxial rotors for vertical lift and a forward thrusting tail propeller, a combination, that allows for flight characteristics that are physically impossible for existing rotorcraft designs. 

    • October 1, 2014 – EASA Certifies Airbus A350 – The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approves the Airbus A350–900 for passenger flights. The A350–1000, will undergo a separate approval process before entering service in 2017. 

    • September 25, 2014 – FAA Grants Film Companies Exemption On Commercial UAV Ban – The FAA cracked open the door Thursday, September 25, 2014, to commercial drones in the continental USA by granting six movie companies exemptions to a general ban on commercial drones, marking a significant step as the agency develops comprehensive rules for drones to share the skies with passenger planes, an effort likely to take years.The announcement is made by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, and Christopher Dodd, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.

    • September 25, 2014 – Airbus A320neo Makes First Flight – Airbus flies its new A320neo – an updated, more fuel–efficient version of its medium–haul A320 passenger plane – on its first of several test flights before deliveries to waiting customers are expected to begin in 2015. The narrow–body, two–engine aircraft takes off from Toulouse–Blagnac airport in southwest France where Airbus is headquartered for a two–hour flight. The plane, whose "neo" designation stands for "new engine option,” is designed to consume 15 percent less fuel than the current A320s in service. Upgrades on the neo include aerodynamic improvements featuring little curved winglets, trimmed weight and more efficient engines.

    • September 24, 2014 – India’s First Interplanetary Spacecraft Enters Mars’ Orbit – India successfully inserts its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), its first interplanetary spacecraft, into an orbit about Mars. This is considered a “major feat” for the country, showing its capability of performing complex missions.

    • September 24, 2014 – F–22 Conducts Its First Combat Operation – The U.S. Air Force uses a “stealthy” F–22A Raptor in a combat mission for the first time. The jet was used to hit Islamic State targets in northern Syria. 

    • September 2, 2014 – MAVEN Successfully Reaches Mars – NASA confirms that MAVEN entered Mars’ orbit successfully. 

    • September 18, 2014 – Blue Origin to Develop Engines for ULA Rockets – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announces that Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos, will develop an engine to replace the Russian RD–180 engines in its rockets. Delta and Atlas rockets could be using the engines in about four years.

    • September 17, 2014 – NASA Chooses Boeing, SpaceX to Develop New Spacecraft – NASA selects Boeing and SpaceX to develop the spacecraft that will launch astronauts to the ISS from American soil. Under the new deal, Boeing will get $4.2 billion and SpaceX $2.6 billion, to certify, test and fly their crew capsules. The two contracts call for at least two and as many as six missions for a crew of four as well as supplies and scientific experiments.

    • September 11, 2014 – Curiosity Rover Reaches Base of Mount Sharp – Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson and two cosmonauts safely land back on Earth after spending almost six months at the ISS. The crew that Swanson led as commander accomplishes a record number of experiments, including a record 82 hours of research in a single week.

    • September 7, 2014 – SpaceX Launches AsiaSat 6 Satellite – SpaceX successfully launches the AsiaSat 6 communications satellite aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, its second launch in just over a month. Liftoff occurred Sunday morning, September 7, 2014, at 1:00 a.m. EDT. 

    • September 3, 2014 – Future Navy, Air Force Jets Expected to Have Some Form of Artificial Intelligence – Popular Science reports that according to the U.S. Naval Institute, the Navy and Air Force’s future jet fighters will have some form of artificial intelligence, although not necessarily the same type. By taking over some duties, a pilot will have a “cognitive advantage in battle” because they have fewer items to focus on. According to the article, artificial intelligence is “one major way” that the military will increasingly team robotics and humans together.

    • August 30, 2014 – Discovery Made Its First Launch 30 Years Ago – 30th anniversary of the first launch of space shuttle Discovery, the third space shuttle to join NASA’s fleet. Among the shuttle’s highlights were missions to launch the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in 1990 and a trip to the International Space Station in 2005. Following its last mission in 2011, Discovery was placed on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

    • August 27, 2014 – SLS Passes Key Review, But Slips First Launch to 2018 – NASA’s Space Launch System passes a key internal review, allowing engineers to move forward with further planning. However, the rocket’s first launch has been pushed back from 2017 to 2018. 

    • August 26, 2014 – F–35 Flight Program Achieves Milestones In August – The Lockheed Martin F–35 Joint Strike Fighter program reaches a number of flight–test milestones, progressing steadily toward Initial Operational Capability. These milestones included weapons separation, software compatibility and flight hours.

    • August 25, 2014 – Sea Launch Cuts Staff, Suspends Operations Until at Least 2015 – In order to compensate for the lack of launches, Sea Launch is cutting staff and taking its launch platforms out of service. The last launch took place in May 2014. Sea Launch expects to resume launches at some point during the mid–2015 to mid–2016 time frame.

    • August 22, 2014 – SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Test Flight – Due to an anomaly, a reusable Falcon 9 rocket explodes during a test flight. SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said that the flight was automatically terminated as soon as the issue was detected. No one was injured. 

    • August 22, 2014 – Air Force Issues RFI for New Booster System – The U.S. Air Force issues a request for information (RFI) for a “booster propulsion and/or launch system materiel options that could deliver cost–effective, commercially–viable solutions for current and future National Security Space (NSS) launch requirements.” The Air Force is looking for an alternate to the Russian–made RD–180 rocket engine currently used on some American rockets. 

    • August 21, 2014 – U.S. Army, Lockheed Martin Successfully Test K–Max Unmanned Helicopter – The U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin successfully test the capability of the K–Max unmanned helicopter to deliver an autonomous ground vehicle. During the “Extending the Reach of the Warfighter through Robotics” testing, the K–Max delivered the Squad Mission Support System, which weighs up to 5,000 lbs, via a slingload. 

    • August 17, 2014 – X–47B Flies Alongside Of F/A–18 Hornet After Launching From Aircraft Carrier – The Navy launches, flies and lands the X–47B, a prototype unmanned aircraft, alongside an F/A–18 Hornet. The test takes place aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Rear Adm. Mat Winter, head of the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, said this test is “history in the making.”

    • August 12, 2014 – ESA’s ATV Spacecraft Docks at ISS for Final Time – The ESA’s Georges Lemaitre Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the last spacecraft in the series, successfully docks at the ISS. This ATV spacecraft is expected to make history during its atmospheric reentry by gathering important data on the optimal angle to be used to de–orbit the ISS safely. 

    • August 7, 2014 – Rosetta Spacecraft Now Traveling with a Comet – The ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully reaches orbit around the comet it had been traveling toward over the past ten years. The pair are now flying in tandem, with plans for a gentle landing on the comet in November. 

    • August 5, 2014 – SpaceX Selects Texas for Commercial Launch Site – SpaceX decides to develop “the world’s first” commercial orbital launch site in Texas, which has offered more incentives to the company for the site.

    • August 4, 2014 – SpaceX Will Use 3D–Printed Parts for Manned Dragon Missions – SpaceX announces that parts of the Falcon 9 rocket that launched in January were developed using 3D printing. The company also plans to use 3D–printed parts in the Dragon V2 spacecraft, which could bring astronauts to the ISS.

    • August 1, 2014 – ULA Launches Next GPS Satellite – A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launches the U.S. Air Force’s GPS IIF–7 satellite on Friday, August 1, 2014, from Cape Canaveral. Liftoff occurred at 11:23 p.m. EDT. The satellite takes over the duties of a 17–year–old satellite, which will now become a backup satellite. It is the third of four GPS satellites launched this year to modernize the Department of Defense's largest constellation, now comprising 31 active spacecraft.

    • July 20, 2014 – Apollo Landing Took Place 45 Years Ago  – Sunday, July 20, 2014, marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder of the Apollo 11 lunar lander and placed his boot into the moon's dirt, as billions of people around the world watched. The moment still stands as perhaps the most memorable moment in all of human history, as the whole world stopped to watch what was taking place. 

    • July 18, 2014 – Texas Search–and–Rescue Group Readies Drones for Takeoff After Court Win Over FAA – Texas EquuSearch, a Houston–based group of volunteer search–and–rescue personnel who use drones to find missing persons across the U.S., is resuming operations following its courthouse victory, on Friday, July 18, 2014, against the FAA. A three–judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a “cease and desist” warning the FAA had issued against Texas EquuSearch in February 2014 to stop using UAVs didn’t have any legal consequences. The group had sued the agency, seeking to overturn its warning, although the FAA responded by issuing a statement saying the appeals judges’ ruling has no bearing on its authority to regulate the commercial use of UAVs. The FAA didn’t say whether it would take official action against EquuSearch to enforce a 2007 ban.

    • July 18, 2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight Downed by Suspected Surface–to–Air Missile Over Ukraine – U.S. military and intelligence sources confirm to NBC News that the U.S. has evidence a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by a missile while flying at a high altitude over eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. Eyewitnesses on the ground reported seeing what looked like a missile, then an explosion in the sky. Malaysia Airlines said there were no distress calls from the plane. U.S. officials say they believe it was shot down. Secretary of State Kerry issued a statement Thursday night, July 17, saying the State Department was still reviewing whether any American citizens were on board.

    • July 16, 2014 – Apollo 11 Launched 45 Years Ago – Wednesday, July 16, 2014, marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission launching on its mission to the moon. The Apollo missions helped blaze a path for human exploration to the moon and today we are extending that path to near–Earth asteroids, Mars and beyond. 

    • July 17, 2014 – NASA, SpaceX Plotting Mission to Mars In 2022 – Following three years of research, scientists at NASA Ames Research Center announce that a modified crew–carrying version of the Dragon X capsule from Space X could be a way to make it to the red planet and return samples of rocks, carrying 4,000 pounds of equipment–the most in history. The partnership is proposing a 2022 mission, which would serve as a precursor to a planned human flight to Mars.

    • July 15, 2014 – SpaceX Launches Orbcomm Satellites – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 11:15 a.m., delivering a half–dozen commercial communications satellites into orbit, completing a mission for Orbcomm Inc. While the satellites are successfully launched, a controlled landing test of the reusable booster ends less successfully. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that more work is needed to determine what caused the loss of hull integrity when it landed. 

    • July 13, 2014 – Cyngus Headed to ISS After Successful Antares Launch – Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket lifts off at 12:52 p.m. EDT from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on a mission to deliver supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station. 

    • July 9, 2014 – FAA Approves SpaceX Launch Site In Texas – SpaceX received final approval from the FAA to build a launch site near Brownsville, Texas. This clears the way for the company to decide whether or not to build the site there as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he would do if approved. 

    • June 30, 2014 – Aviation Industry Moving Fast On New System for Tracking Planes Over Oceans – The aviation industry, hoping to avoid a future aircraft being lost in the way Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been, is working to devise measures for tracking all flights that pass over oceans, amid obstacles such as minimal government radar over oceans, airlines’ costs in maintaining plane–to–satellite communication links, and an absence of official requirements that airlines stay in frequent–enough contact to find lost planes. While other airplanes have disappeared in the past, none have been of the size and the ability of Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777–200ER. In September 2014, an airline task force intends to recommend new government policies to better track flights to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and in February 2015 the ICAO will conduct a high–level conference to begin negotiating standards for governments to require better tracking, with a goal of completing the global rule by 2017.

    • June 28, 2014 – NASA Tests “Flying Saucer” Technology – Following several weather delays, NASA launches a helium balloon carrying a saucer–shaped vehicle high into Earth's atmosphere to test technology that could someday be used to land on Mars. After taking off at 11:40 a.m. from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, the balloon boosted the disc–shaped vehicle over the Pacific, where its rocket motor ignited, carrying the vehicle 34 miles high at supersonic speeds. As the vehicle prepared to drop back to Earth, a tube around it expanded, creating atmospheric drag to dramatically slow it down from Mach 4, or four times the speed of sound. The vehicle splashed down about three hours later. At 110 feet in diameter, the parachute is twice as big as the one that carried the Curiosity rover through the Martian atmosphere in 2011.

    • June 23, 2014 – FAA Approves UAS Testing for Texas A&M Corpus Christi – The FAA gives its approval to Texas A&M University Corpus Christi to use unmanned aerial systems to collect data that will be used to create safety rules nationwide. University researchers will conduct flights from 11 ranges in Texas that offer access to a wide range of geography and climate. The school is one of six UAS test sites selected in the country. The university is using data collected from the UAS flights to observe changes in coastal habitats and the shoreline, but the FAA will also examine the data to help determine how to regulate unmanned commercial and civilian aircraft.

    • June 20, 2014 – UAVs to be Banned In All National Parks for Now – The National Park Service (NPS) bans drones from 84 million acres of public lands and waterways, including all 401 national parks, citing expectations that unmanned aircraft would cause disruptions to visitors and wildlife, and threaten safety. NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis signs a policy memorandum Friday, June 20, 2014, directing all national park superintendents to write rules barring the launching, landing, or operation of drones, joining a few parks where prohibitions are already in place. The NPS has been working with the FAA, although the parks service’s action is separate from the FAA’s ban on the commercial operation of drones.

    • June 18, 2014 – Bolden Calls Orion Flight “Most Significant Human Spaceflight Milestone” of 2014 – On Wednesday, June 18, 2014, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was at the Kennedy Space Center speaking about the Orion capsule, which is scheduled to make its first test flight aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket near the end of 2014. During the test, Orion is scheduled to go 15 times further away than the International Space Station before returning to Earth. Bolden said, “It’s possibly the most significant human spaceflight milestone this year.” It is expected to take at least seven years before astronauts fly in the spacecraft.

    • June 10, 2014 – Nevada Cleared to Begin UAS Tests – The FAA approves the opening of its third of six Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) testing sites at Desert Rock Airport in Nevada, which is owned by the Department of Energy. The first tests will involve an Insitu ScanEagle. The ScanEagle will help test whether UAS can fly safely at an airport. The opening of the Nevada location follows the FAA's recent announcement that it will consider allowing the use of small UAS for filming movies and television shows.

    • June 8, 2014 – FAA Approves Commercial Use of UAV Over Land for First Time – For the first time, the FAA allows a commercial UAV to be flown over land. BP and AeroVironment use a Puma AE UAV to survey Alaskan oil fields in order to target maintenance activities. The first flight takes place on Sunday, June 8, 2014. 

    • June 2, 2014 – Solar Impulse 2 Makes First Flight Over Switzerland – Solar Impulse 2 makes its first flight, flying for two hours and 17 minutes over Switzerland. Solar Impluse 2 is a bigger and improved version of the solar–powered plane that first flew five years ago. After several more flights, team founders Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg hope to take the plane on a round–the–world flight in 2015. The pair claim that Solar Impulse 2 should potentially be able to stay in the air indefinitely.

    • June 3, 2014 – Lockheed Chosen to Construct Space Fence – Lockheed Martin is chosen by the U.S. Air Force to develop the Space Fence, which will detect smaller orbital debris than currently done under an Air Force system installed in 1961. This system is deemed a priority because space debris endangers the ISS and other satellites. Once constructed, the Space Fence should be able to detect debris as small as the size of a baseball, as compared to the current system that detects items the size of a basketball. Some of the junk now in space includes old satellites, rocket boosters and even a tool bag that drifted away from an astronaut at the space station.

    • May 30, 2014 – Virgin Galactic, FAA Sign Agreement On Integrating Launches Into National Airspace – Virgin Galactic, Spaceport America, and the FAA finalize an agreement on how Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo launches will be integrated into the National Airspace System once they begin. While a step closer to that start–date, it still is unclear when exactly that would be. New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson said that this is the first agreement of its kind because it involves both a space and air system. The agreement was needed before the FAA could grant commercial licensing for the launches.

    • May 29, 2014 – SpaceX Unveils Manned Version of Dragon Spacecraft – SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils the Dragon V2, the manned version of the cargo spacecraft already making deliveries to the ISS. Musk touts the fact that it should be able to be relaunched relatively frequently because it has the “accuracy of a helicopter” when landing, thus revolutionizing access to space.

    • May 22, 2014 – ULA Atlas V Launches NRO Payload – A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:09 a.m. EDT, carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) military payload. Many of the details surrounding the launch, such as the type of satellite being deployed, are classified. The rocket is believed to have headed East after liftoff, flying over the Atlantic, which could suggest that the Atlas will be targeting a geosynchronous transfer orbit, the only low–inclination orbit generally used for NRO payloads of this size.

    • May 22, 2014 – Commission Recommends Work Begin On New Engine Program – Based on a summary briefing of a yet–to–be–released report, a commission led by Air Force Maj Gen (ret.) Howard Mitchell, along with former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin as deputy chair, recommends that the U.S. begin work as soon as possible on a new liquid oxygen (LOx)/hydrocarbon engine program to mitigate the effects if Russia decides to ban the sale of RD–180 engines to the U.S. The group found that, if in a worst–case scenario the Atlas V rocket was retired because of a lack of engines, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and ULA’s Delta IV would not be able to immediately pick up the launch slack. SpaceX, in particular, could only accommodate a small number of the satellites. Therefore, a joint NASA/Air Force engine program would provide options in the future, including an alternative to the Delta IV.

    • May 20, 2014 – Bolden: No One Nation Can End ISS – Following Russia’s threat to pull out of the ISS program in 2020, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells reporters at Berlin’s annual airshow that the ISS could continue to function. Bolden says, “There is no single partner that can terminate the international space station.” Bolden also added that despite the tensions on Earth, the relationship between the U.S. and Russian space programs has not changed “one iota.” As for whether or not NASA could work with China in the future, Bolden says, “There is nothing that I see in the tea leaves that says our relationship is going to change.”

    • May 16, 2014 – Delta IV Successfully Launches New GPS Spacecraft – A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket successfully launches with its Global Positioning System (GPS) payload. The launch, which took place at 8:03 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, had been delayed one day due to the weather. This is the sixth in a series of 12 new–generation GPS spacecraft that will help ensure the system stays online. With over 30 of the spacecraft now in orbit, the GPS constellation needs at least 24 satellites for global service, but many are getting older. Two more GPS launches are planned this year, with all 12 expected in orbit by 2016. 

    • May 14, 2014 – Sikorsky to Develop Autonomous Black Hawk – Sikorsky announces it will demonstrate a fully autonomous version of the UH–60 Black Hawk helicopter after having already shown a version operated remotely by a pilot on the ground. The company has acquired a UH–60A to serve as a proof–of–concept demonstrator that a Black Hawk can take–off, fly and land under control of onboard computers and a newly–installed fly–by–wire flight control system. The company is in the process of selecting partners to develop the autonomous version of the Black Hawk.

    • May 13, 2014 – Russia Threatens to Pull Out of ISS Partnership, Halt Engine Sale – Cooperation in space between the U.S. and Russia could be in jeopardy, according to a report that says Russia will no longer send astronauts to the ISS after 2020. Just ahead of the return of three astronauts, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin issued Russia’s intent to leave the partnership, saying the U.S. is an “unreliable partner” for “politicizing everything.” He adds that Russia’s segment “can exist independently of the American one, but the American segment cannot exist on its own without the Russian one.” Rogozin also says that Russia will not sell the U.S. any Russian RD–180 engines unless they are used only for non–military launches. United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket currently uses those engines.

    • May 9, 2014 – Sikorsky Unveils King Stallion Helicopter – Sikorsky unveils the King Stallion, the third evolution of its Stallion helicopter. This version is similar to the Super Stallion, the company’s helicopter that entered service in 1981 and has served in both Iraq wars. Although they appear similar, the King is much stronger than the Super—able to carry 27,000 pounds, or almost three times as much cargo.

    • May 8, 2014 – Easyjet Developing UAVs to Inspect Aircraft – Easyjet will begin developing UAVs that it will use to scan and assess its fleet of Airbus aircraft, reporting damage back to engineers. They may also introduce flying maintenance robots as early as next year. The UAVs are being developed by a team that includes experts from the University of Bristol, with tests expected in coming months. The UAVs can be remotely controlled, but Easyjet wants UAVs with automated laser scans.

    • May 6, 2014 – Quadriplegic Drives Racecar Using Aerospace Technology – Former Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt refuses to let a disabling crash end his love affair with auto racing when the quadriplegic motorsports business owner gets back in the driver’s seat with the help of aerospace engineers and scientists. On Tuesday, May 6, Schmidt demonstrates an experimental system that allows him to control a car with head movements. He drives a modified 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray on a closed runway at Wright–Patterson Air Force Base behind the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at speeds of up to 84 miles per hour.

    • May 6, 2014 – FAA Approves Start of UAV Testing In Alaska – The FAA approves UAV testing to begin at sites overseen by the University of Alaska, one of the six programs selected in 2013 to help integrate UAVs into the national airspace. The University of Alaska testing sites are the second of six testing sites to be approved by the FAA, the first being in North Dakota. Two of the testing sites planned as part of the University of Alaska’s Pan–Pacific Unmanned Aircraft System Test Range Complex will be located at two small airports in Oregon and Hawaii. The test sites located in Alaska include the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Poker Flat Rocket Range, and sites near Barrow, Kodiak, and Homer.

    • May 5, 2014 – SpaceX Conducts Another Test of Falcon 9 Reusable Rocket – SpaceX makes another test flight of its Falcon 9 Reusable rocket at its McGregor, Texas facility, while collecting hexacopter–filmed footage of the test as well. The tests are designed to help the SpaceX engineers devise a way of eventually bringing full–size, fully–loaded launch vehicles back to the launch pad. As it currently stands, most space launch vehicles simply fall into the ocean, never to be used again.

    • May 2, 2014 – Falcon 7X Sets New Speed Record Between London and New York – On May 2, 2014, the Dassault Falcon 7X sets a new speed record for flying between New York and London. There are currently 218 Falcon 7Xs in service, with the 7X being the only aircraft that can fly non–stop from London City Airport to New York. The flight set a new speed record of 5 hours and 54 minutes between New York’s Teterboro Airport and London City Airport.

    • May 1, 2014 – Bolden: Dispute with Russia Has Not Harmed Space Programs’ Relationship – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells Congress on Thursday, May 1, 2014, that the ongoing dispute with Russia has not harmed Americans’ ability to get astronauts to the International Space Station. Bolden was attempting to reassure lawmakers who are concerned the U.S. space program could be disrupted after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said U.S. “astronauts soon will need a trampoline to get to the space station.” Bolden says ties between the two countries’ space programs remain strong. Bolden also suggests that U.S. launches to the ISS could be accelerated with additional funds.

    • April 30, 2014 – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Warns U.S. Could “Use Trampoline” to Access ISS – With more U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine, Russia’s deputy prime minister says that the U.S. could “use a trampoline” if it wants to get its astronauts to the ISS. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin comments that the sanctions do not seem to be working and that the U.S. and Europe are causing more damage to themselves. Despite the statement, analysts believe that Russia will not halt launches because it is heavily reliant on the millions of dollars the U.S. spends per launch. Sergei Oznobishchev, director at the Institute for Strategic Assessments, believes that Russia will lose out in the end because Russia also needs the West’s high–tech electronic components and is not prepared at this time to produce them.

    • April 29, 2014 – NASA Asking for Proposals to Open Up ISS to Industry – NASA officials ask for ways to increase the commercialization of the ISS, a shift in the agency’s position as it previously gave little consideration to allowing private citizens to pay millions to travel there. To date, the agency has accommodated seven private citizens. American Dennis Tito was the first in 2001, with Canadian Guy Laliberte the most recent in 2011. NASA is soliciting innovative ideas from companies interested in using the space station and the low–Earth orbit environment to help develop a strong commercial market and assist NASA in achieving its exploration goals.

    • April 29, 2014 – S2 Personal Plane Could One Day Make Runways Obsolete – As part of its Invention Awards 2014, Popular Science reports on the S2 personal electric airplane created by JoeBen Bevirt, that launches like a helicopter but flies aerodynamically like an airplane. His team has developed two dozen 10–pound models that have drawn the interest of NASA, as the agency is now funding construction of a 55–pound unmanned aerial vehicle. The full–scale vehicle could one day fly two people 200 miles on the equivalent of 1.5 gallons of fuel, which is five times more efficient than typical two–seaters. If successful, the plane could someday make runways obsolete.

    • April 25, 2014 – Musk Announces Reusable Rocket Test Success, Suit Against Government – Elon Musk says that his company SpaceX is going to sue the government to protest the U.S. Air Force awarding United Launch Alliance (ULA) a contract to launch 36 rockets back in December. Musk tells the National Press Club that he does not think that SpaceX necessarily deserves the award, just that it should have been given the chance to compete. Musk said there is no reasonable basis that his company should be able to send cargo to the ISS and yet is not allowed to launch a GPS satellite. At the same news conference, Musk also says that the Falcon 9 first stage successfully made a soft landing although the weather and unsafe sea conditions prevented its recovery. The data from that attempt was so promising that SpaceX now thinks it can return the booster successfully to land before 2015.

    • April 28, 2014 – NASA Testing Designs That Could Make Overland Supersonic Flights Possible – NASA is currently working on designs aimed at decreasing the strength of sonic booms. Supersonic flights over land are currently banned by the FAA because of how loud sonic booms can be. NASA currently is exposing small–scale model designs by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to wind tunnel tests to see how they react. The agency also is examining how air flows through the engines. Capturing this flow rate is considered important because it directly impacts a supersonic aircraft’s thrust performance in flight, as well as cruise efficiency.

    • April 25, 2014 – Ostapenko: Russia Plans to Increase Collaborations with China – Oleg Ostapenko, head of Roscosmos, says that the Russian space agency could function without any Western space technology, contradicting concerns that more sanctions from the U.S. could damage the country’s efforts in space and harm the ISS program. He also reportedly states that Russia will be increasing its collaborative efforts with China, and that Russia is the country other nations most rely on because it currently has the only rockets that can send astronauts to the ISS. Ostapenko also says that the draft Federal Space Program (FSP) includes plans to develop a super–heavy carrier rocket that could launch 70 to 80 metric tons into space and eventually 100 to 120 metric tons, payload capacities that are similar to the Space Launch System that NASA is developing.

    • April 24, 2014 – X–37B Space Plane Reaches 500th Day In Orbit – Thursday, April 24, 2014, marks the U.S. Air Force’s X–37B space plane’s 500th day in orbit. It is still unknown to the public when the spacecraft could return to Earth. 

    • April 21, 2014 – Texas EquuSearch Sues to Use UAVs for Search and Rescue – Texas EquuSearch files a federal lawsuit on Monday, April 21, 2014, against the law prohibiting the use of UAVs for humanitarian search and rescue activities, which it claims is not governed by the guidelines prohibiting the use of UAVs for business purposes. The non–profit organization has four unmanned model aircraft that have been grounded since the FAA ordered the group to stop flying the planes earlier this year. The FAA said it is reviewing the case. This is the second such challenge to the FAA’s guidelines on private use of UAVs.

    • April 21, 2014 – North Dakota’s UAV Test Site to be First of Six to Fly Missions – FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says on Monday, April 21, 2014, that North Dakota will be the first of six UAV test sites around the nation to begin flight tests, with the first flights scheduled as early as May 2014. In that first set of flights, a Draganflyer X4ES UAV will fly at North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center to examine the ways UAVs could be used to check soil quality and the status of crops. In a statement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says, “North Dakota has really taken the lead in supporting the growing unmanned aircraft industry.”

    • April 18, 2014 – SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 – SpaceX successfully launches its Falcon 9 rocket at 3:25 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft is carrying critical supplies for the International Space Station’s Expedition 39 crew, as part of a 12–mission contract with NASA. 

    • April 18, 2014 – LADEE Orbiter Completes Mission by Impacting Moon – NASA’s LADEE spacecraft mission at the moon comes to an end when it is intentionally crashed into the lunar surface. NASA confirms that the spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 12:30 and 1:22 a.m. EDT Friday, April 18, 2014. The operation goes as planned, but teams have to scramble near the end to make sure that all the data the spacecraft captured is sent back to Earth before impact. The last bit of information is sent back about a minute before communication ended. LADEE was launched Friday, September 6, 2013, from the Mid–Atlantic Regional Spaceport, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA.

    • April 16, 2014 – Pentagon Document Provides Look at Drone Fleet’s Future – In a strategic document known as the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Vector, the Pentagon has laid out a road map for the future of its drone fleet. The document takes a 25–year look from 2013 to 2038, and provides insight into where the Air Force wants to expand technologies. It includes unmanned planes with fuel–filled wings with the ability to carry more sophisticated weapons systems to more isolated hot spots, and smaller drones capable of operating in unison to swarm an enemy. 

    • April 15, 2014 – FAA Completes Installation of ADS–B Upgrades – As part of the NextGen program aimed at improving the air traffic control network in the U.S., the FAA completes the installation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B) radio network nationwide. The upgrade will enable air traffic controllers to track aircraft with greater accuracy and reliability, while providing pilots more information in the cockpit. Currently, 100 installed air traffic facilities are using the system, with all 230 expected to be connected and operating by 2019. All planes will be required to have the necessary equipment to use ADS–B by 2020.

    • April 14, 2014 – X–47B Wins Collier Trophy – The Northrop Grumman X–47B wins the 2013 Collier Trophy. NASA awards what many consider aviation’s top prize to the Northrop Grumman X–47B, which spent much of 2013 testing runway and carrier take–off and landing operations. Making its first night flight just a week prior, the X–47B is scheduled to be deployed by the Navy in 2019. 

    • April 11, 2014 – Global Airline Accident Rate Hits Record Lows – The International Civil Aviation Organization said that 2013’s global accident rate for commercial airline flights was the lowest ever recorded, falling 13 percent from the previous year to 2.8 accidents per 1 million departures. The statistics are even better in the U.S. where about 3.7 billion passengers flew American carriers in the last five years without injury. Most of the improvements are attributed to increased international cooperation, better data collection, and better pilot training.

    • April 10, 2014 – Atlas V Launches with NRO Satellite – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite successfully launches. Liftoff occurrs at 1:45 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

    • April 9, 2014 – Solar Impulse 2 Unveiled – The Solar Impulse team unveils its Solar Impulse 2 plane at Payerne Air Force Base in Switzerland. The plane is a bigger and better version of the one that made its test flights across the U.S., Europe, and Africa. The plane, which will be used to fly around the world, can theoretically remain in the air indefinitely with its improved batteries and longer wingspan. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, who will pilot the plane on its long–distance flight, reportedly say that they themselves are the weakest link now in the project.

    • April 9, 2014 – Aviation Organizations, Agriculture Groups Send Letter to FAA Urging Expediency In UAS Rulemaking – With the FAA under pressure to develop clearer regulations on small drones, some businesses are now pushing the government for an interim set of policies in advance of an official set of rules. Over two dozen industry groups, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and the National Association of Realtors (real estate agents have been using drones to take pictures of properties from the air), send a letter addressed to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta that reads, “The current regulatory void has left American entrepreneurs and others either sitting on the sidelines or operating in the absence of appropriate safety guidelines.”

    • April 9, 82014 – Pentagon to Review Russian–Built Atlas V Engine in Wake of Crimea Crisis – The U.S. Defense Department initiates a review to determine whether using a Russian–built rocket engine to launch military satellites has any national security implications, following Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea. The review, which defense officials expect to wrap up in late May, will examine the security risks, as well as the costs of developing and producing a replacement for the RD–180 engine used in the Atlas V rocket.

    • April 8, 2014 – United Preparing to Operate World’s Longest Boeing 787 Non–Stop Routes – United is planning two of the world’s longest 787 flights for later this year. The airline is offering a Los Angeles–Melbourne flight starting 26 Oct. that will travel 7,927 miles, currently the longest route to be operated by the 787 family. United will also begin service 9 June on a San Francisco–Chengdu flight, which would not only be the first non–stop flight ever from the U.S. to Chengdu, but also would be the longest 787 flight to operate non–stop in both directions, until the Melbourne flight begins. The San Francisco–Chengdu route is 6,587 miles.

    • April 3, 2014 – NASA Bans Cooperation With Russia, ISS Exempted – Due to the situation over Ukraine, NASA will curtail work with Russia over space matters, but this does not include the big–ticket items such as sending astronauts to the ISS. This policy comes after NASA was insisting there would be no change in how the agency interacts with Russia. Despite the end of almost all other cooperative efforts, NASA said in a statement that it would continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the ISS.

    • March 31, 2014 – NASA Announces New Commercial Spaceflight Initiative – NASA is trying to increase its ties with commercial space companies by proposing a new initiative called the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC), which would give companies greater access to NASA’s resources through unfunded Space Act Agreements (SAAs). NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier said that the agency looks forward to sharing its 50 years of spaceflight experience and fostering partnerships in ways that benefit the nation’s spaceflight goals. 

    • March 28, 2014 – FAA Approves Nighttime UAS Flights for North Dakota Police – The FAA gives the Grand Forks County, North Dakota, Police Department permission to fly drones in 16 counties in northeast North Dakota during the night. Sheriff Bob Rost made the announcement of the approval on Friday, March 28, 2014, marking the first time the FAA has given a law enforcement agency the federal authorization to fly unmanned aerial vehicles at night throughout the jurisdiction.

    • March 28, 2014 – Facebook Announces Internet Connectivity Project – Through the use of drones, lasers and satellites, Facebook wants to connect those who currently do not have access to the Internet, some of whom live in remote parts of the world. On Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the formation of the Facebook Connectivity Lab, which will feature employees hired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Ames Research Center, and Ascenta. The lab’s goal is to support Internet.org, the Facebook–led project that aims to connect the more than 70 percent of the world’s population who are not yet online.

    • March 24, 2014 – NASA Asks for Proposals to Help Develop Asteroid Redirect Mission – NASA requests new proposals for its Asteroid Redirect Mission. These studies need to examine “capture mechanisms, sensors, precursor missions and opportunities to adapt commercial spacecraft and lower costs.” 

    • March 18, 2014 – Scientists Discover Evidence of Gravitational Waves – A team led by John Kovak of Harvard University, using a telescope at the South Pole, discovers evidence of gravitational waves. The discovery may help prove the Big Bang theory, and if confirmed, would provide a new tool for researchers to study the entire universe. Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were part of the team that made the discovery. Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, who was not involved in the study, reportedly says that this could be among the greatest breakthroughs in astrophysics over the last 25 years. 

    • March 14, 2014 – ISS Crew Discusses Space Life In “Live From Space” Event – During a “Live From Space” television event that aired on the National Geographic Channel, the crew of the ISS discuss everything from space toilets and experiments to dangerous spacewalks and space junk. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio says, “I’ve been up here for four months. I’ve been away from home for almost six months. I know I’m going to miss the great views out the window and I’m definitely going to miss sleeping in a zero–g environment. It’s absolutely fantastic. When this mission is over, I’m definitely going to be happy to go home and see my family.” Meanwhile, Astronaut Ron Garan was asked about what it was like to go into space and return. He said that spaceflight is a wonderful experience and that everyone gets along with each other when up there.

    • March 12, 2014 – NASA Joins Search for Missing Malaysian Jetliner – NASA joins the search for a Malaysian commercial jetliner that vanished over the weekend. A NASA spokesman says activities under way include mining data archives of satellite data acquired earlier and using space–based assets, such as the Earth–Observing–1(EO–1) satellite and the ISERV camera on the International Space Station, to acquire new images of possible crash sites. The resolution of images from these instruments could be used to identify objects of about 98 feet or larger. In addition, NASA will be sending relevant data to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observations and Science Hazard Data Distribution System.

    • March 12, 2014 – Satellites Helping to Search for Missing Malaysian Plane – DigitalGlobe’s online crowdsourcing platform starts getting as many as 100,000 people visiting per hour to search its archive for any sign of the missing Malaysian aircraft. The campaign to search the data started Monday. Meanwhile, China has also redeployed its satellite assets to search for the missing plane, including the Beidou navigation satellite system.

    • March 11, 2014 – Sikorsky Announces First Flight of Manned/Unmanned UH–60 Black Hawk Helicopter – Sikorsky announces that it conducted the first flight demonstration of an “optionally piloted” UH–60 Black Hawk helicopter on March 11, 2014, at the company’s flight test center near West Palm Beach, Florida. During the flight, the unmanned aircraft hovered and conducted flight operations under the control of an operator using a ‘man–portable’ ground control station. The company said that unmanned Black Hawks could be used for resupply missions and expeditionary operations, allowing crews to conduct more sensitive operations.

    • March 11, 2014 – Flower Delivery Company Will Resume Deliveries by UAV – Following a ruling by NTSB Administrative Law Judge Patrick Geraghty that the FAA does not have the authority to ban the commercial use of UAVs, FlowerDeliveryExpress.com resumes using UAVs to deliver flowers. The company was previously stopped from making such deliveries by the FAA following an initial test delivery on February 8, 2014.

    • March 8, 2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Goes Missing– An international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China, disappears on Saturday, March 8, 2014, with 227 passengers, including three Americans, and 12 crew on board. The cause of the disappearance is unknown and under investigation. Flight 370, operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft, departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport for a scheduled six–hour flight to Beijing Capital International Airport. Air Traffic Controllers lost contact with the plane while it was over the Gulf of Thailand, and it was reported missing. A joint search–and–rescue effort, focusing on the Gulf of Thailand, Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, is being conducted by cooperating agencies of several national governments. At least two passengers were using false identities. The head of Malaysia's Civil Aviation Authority says officials had not ruled out hijacking as a cause of the plane's disappearance.

    • March 7, 2014 – Hubble Telescope Witnesses Asteroid Break Up – For the first time, the Hubble Space Telescope observes an asteroid breaking up into 10 pieces up to two football fields long. The pieces are expected to mostly aim towards the sun. Researchers, led by David Jewitt of UCLA, believe light from the sun is causing the asteroid to break up by increasing its rotation. Meanwhile, for the third time over a period of 24 hours, an asteroid flew past the Earth, coming six times closer than the orbit of the moon, however Earth was not at risk of an impact with any of these objects.

    • March 5, 2014 – NASA Says Working Relationship with Russia is “Normal” Despite Tensions Over Ukraine – During a briefing on NASA’s proposed budget, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden indicates that everything is normal in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia at the International Space Station despite tensions between the two countries over Ukraine. Even though Russian rockets are the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS, Bolden said he sees no reason for contingency planning. 

    • February 27, 2014 – GPM Core Observatory Successfully Launched from Japan – The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory is successfully launched from Japan at 1:37 p.m EST. No problems are reported. The spacecraft is the most sophisticated platform yet for measuring rainfall, capable of recording amounts as small as a hundredth of an inch an hour. With the GPM’s expected lifespan, NASA will have an unbroken 25– to 30–year rainfall record to help improve forecasts and climate models. 

    • February 27, 2014 – Demand to Launch CubeSats from ISS Increasing Beyond Expectations – The demand to launch CubeSats from the ISS is increasing, exceeding all expectations from NASA and groups like NanoRacks. Jeffrey Manber, CEO of NanoRacks, said that despite what people thought even two years ago, commercial companies are expressing the greatest interest in launching CubeSats, followed by the government and then academia. To help increase the options at the ISS, NASA, JAXA, and NanoRacks are working together to formulate a plan.

    • February 21, 2014 – FAA Announces New Helicopter Safety Regulations – The FAA has announces that it will require helicopters to have radio altitude meters and life vests for pilots. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says the improvements will better prepare pilots, and better equip helicopters, ensuring a higher level of safety for passengers and crew. The rules will require that helicopters be equipped with emergency location transmitters that could be used in the event of accidents, and new weather warning systems.

    • February 19, 2014 – United Makes First Commercial Flight with Split Scimitar Winglets – United Airlines announces that it has made the first commercial flight with new split scimitar winglets on a freshly retrofitted Boeing 737–800. United maintains that planes using scimitar winglets enjoy significant aircraft drag reduction compared to planes using the basic Blended Winglet, resulting in fuel savings of an additional 2% per aircraft.

    • February 18, 2014 – Cessna Flies Citation Latitude for the First Time – The Cessna Citation Latitude makes its debut flight from the company’s factory in Wichita, Kansas, meeting the commitment schedule laid out in October 2011. The aircraft reportedly behaves just as anticipated during the flight up to a peak altitude of 28,000 feet and top speed of Mach 0.6. Company officials look to gain FAA Part 25 airworthiness certification by the second quarter of 2015 for the aircraft, which will hold seven to nine passengers.

    • February 18, 2014 – Cygnus Wraps Up First ISS Resupply Mission – Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus spacecraft, which delivered nearly one–and–a–half tons of supplies and scientific equipment to the International Space Station in January, completes its first commercial cargo mission to the orbiting laboratory. NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins, with assistance from Japanese Astronaut Koichi Wakata, uses the station’s 57–foot Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Cygnus from the station at 5:15 a.m. EST. Packed with disposable cargo, the spacecraft is set to burn up over the Pacific Ocean in a destructive re–entry.

    • February 17, 2014 – Asteroid Misses Earth As Predicted – As predicted, an asteroid with an estimated diameter of three football fields misses hitting Earth late Monday, February 17, 2014. Traveling at about 27,000 miles per hour, the asteroid came within about 2 million miles of Earth, which is considered a close call in space. 

    • February 11, 2014 – FBI Cracks Down On Laser Strikes On Planes – The FBI announces a major initiative to catch individuals shining lights into aircraft cockpits, a crime that has taken place with increased frequency and which agency officials fear could lead to a major aviation disaster. The FBI offers a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of someone committing the crime. The agency notes that there were almost 4,000 laser strikes against aircraft reported just last year, nearly 11 incidents per day. The penalty for the crime is a sentence of up to five years in jail.

    • February 7, 2014 – Canada Releases New Space Policy – Industry Minister James Moore unveils Canada’s new space policy at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, although he does not say how much money will be put toward it. Some of the key priorities in the policy include the development of cutting–edge technology, support of Canadian industry, encouraging international partnerships, and motivating the public to enter fields related to space. Moore says the country will also invest in the James Webb Space Telescope.

    • January 30, 2014 – X–37B Space Plane Now Over 400 Days In Space – The U.S. Air Force’s classified unmanned X–37B space plane has now been in space for more than 400 days, having launched on 11 December 2012. OTV–3 (Orbital Test Vehicle–3) has been aloft for 413 days as of 28 January. The current record is 469 days, set during OTV–2, which launched in 2011.

    • January 30, 2014 – Insects Inspire New Class of “Microdrone” – An article in the January 2014 edition of Popular Science reports that with the development of the first insect–inspired vehicles, engineers are now creating the first microdrone–class UAVs. While there are still significant engineering challenges to overcome, such as developing external power sources or contending with strong wind gusts, engineers still believe that by basing the designs on insects, lighter, smarter UAVs can be made.

    • January 29, 2014 – BAE Systems Certifies 3–D Printed Part – BAE Systems produces and certifies a 3–D printed replacement part for the BAE 146 regional jet. It is also looking at producing additional parts for other aircraft types. Many in the aerospace industry believe that additive manufacturing, or "3–D printing" technology will be especially valuable in producing parts with complex geometries, especially as they typically weigh less and produce less waste during production.

    • January 28, 2014 – Challenger Tragedy Remembered – Twenty–eight years ago, on January 28, 1986, NASA and the world watched as space shuttle Challenger and its crew of seven were lost shortly after liftoff in a catastrophic launch failure. AIAA remembers Astronauts: Francis "Dick" Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Mike Smith and Ellison Onizuka, and payload specialists Sharon Christa McAuliffe and Gregory Jarvis.

    • January 244, 2014 – Texas Engineering Institute Receives FAA Certificate for UAV Testing – The FAA certifies the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute (UTARI) for UAV testing, clearing the way for new research partnerships. Noting that the Fort Worth, Texas campus testing program will have both military and practical applications, a UTARI student is quoted as saying that the UTARI student body wants to use the FAA certificate as well as other opportunities to become “the new generation of engineers.”

    • January 23, 2014 – Surveillance Craft to be Deployed in Maryland Later This Year – Two blimp–like surveillance craft will be deployed near Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground later this year for a three–year test. From 10,000 feet, they will cast a vast radar net from Raleigh, N.C. to Boston and out to Lake Erie, with the goal of detecting cruise missiles or enemy aircraft for interception before they can reach Washington, DC.

    • January 21, 2014 – Rosetta Spacecraft Wakes Up from Hibernation – Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully awakes from two plus years of hibernation. Rosetta is now on its way to meet up with a comet, which is considered an almost impossible target. If it is able to reach the comet and land a probe on its surface, the mission would make history. The ESA turned this into a social media event, as the spacecraft triggered several tweets saying “Hello World!” in several languages. This is considered one of the final milestones for the spacecraft before arriving at comet 67P later this year.

    • January 17, 2014 – ISS Made No Collision–Avoidance Maneuvers In 2013 – The ISS reportedly makes no collision–avoidance maneuvers last year despite the growing amount of orbital debris intersecting its orbit. NASA says this demonstrates the chaotic nature of the debris population. In comparison, there was a record of four collision–avoidance maneuvers in 2012, with 16 maneuvers in total over the past 15 years.

    • January 16, 2014 – Texas A&M Researchers Test RS–16 UAV – Just a few weeks after Texas was designated a UAV test site by the FAA, researchers from Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi begin testing the RS–16 UAV with the hopes of developing a system that can spot oil spills and wildfire hotspots, monitor hurricanes, and count cattle for ranchers. Test flights like these are seen as a critical step toward advancing the industry inside the U.S. The test flights are expected to help integrate the UAVs into the national airspace so they can fly safely. The RS–16 has been facing some communication issues, losing radio contact at times.

    • January 15, 2014 – Pilots, Passengers Reflect on Anniversary of “Miracle” Landing – Wednesday, January 15, 2014, marks the 5 year anniversary of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III safely making an emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. It was 208 seconds from the time the birds hit the plane, to the time the plane was down in the water. All 155 people aboard survived, and the safe landing would quickly become known as "The Miracle on the Hudson."

    • January 10, 2014 – Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Reaches Highest Altitude Yet – Virgin Galactic reaches its highest altitude yet Friday, January 10, 2014, in a supersonic space plane that’s set to carry paying customers into sub–orbit later this year. The SpaceShipTwo flight is the program’s third rocket–powered test flight, and the latest milestone in Virgin Galactic’s goal to take dozens of people into space multiple times each day. Reportedly, the spacecraft reaches an altitude of 71,000 feet, or roughly 13.5 miles up in the air, and attains a speed of Mach 1.4. 

    • January 9, 2014 – Delta Retires DC–9 Planes – Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launches its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 1:07 p.m. EST from the Mid–Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus is expected to reach the International Space Station on Sunday, January 12, for the Orbital–1 cargo resupply mission, the first of eight commercial cargo missions that Orbital will make to the ISS under its contract with NASA.

    • January 6, 2014 – Delta Retires DC–9 Planes – On Monday, January 6, 2014, Delta Air Lines flies its DC–9 for the final time on a passenger flight before retiring the jet. Dozens of aviation enthusiasts bought tickets for the flight, with others lining up to see it land at LaGuardia airport. Most DC–9s were retired in the 1990s, but airlines could fly them as long as they wanted, provided that they remained under the number of regulated takeoffs and landings. While this passenger flight is believed to be the DC–9’s last, the plane could fly again in an emergency if another jet is unexpectedly out of service.
     

    2013

     

    • December 31, 2013 – FAA Selects Sites to Conduct UAV Tests – The FAA announces six test sites in six states to guide the future course of UAVs in the U.S. Each of the six test sites pose unique challenges for drone operations, and it is expected to take years before the necessary safeguards and regulations are in place. The six institutions selected to operate test locations include Griffiss International Airport near Rome, New York, Virginia Tech, which has an agreement with Rutgers University in New Jersey for testing there as well, the University of Alaska, which plans to test in Hawaii and Oregon as well as Alaska, the State of Nevada, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. The FAA anticipates that within five years, 7,500 commercial drones will share the skies with passenger planes.

    • December 27, 2013 – 2013 Called a "Big Year" for UAVs – Six events took place in 2013 that made it a significant year for UAVs. All told, 2013 was the year the public started to understand UAVs are not just unmanned attack aircraft for the military, but can reshape commerce and transportation and even ethics. Among some of the significant UAV events in 2013, Amazon unveiled its plans to start shipping packages by delivery drone sometime in the next five years, Washington began work on drone regulation, and a Colorado town proposed open season on drones.

    • December 13, 2013 – China Successfully Lands Rover on the Moon – China completes the first soft landing on the moon’s surface in 37 years on Saturday, December 13, 2013, becoming only the third country to pull off the feat. Chinese television showed scientists shaking hands and congratulating each other after the craft, Chang’e 3, landed safely at 9:12 p.m. local time. The landing marks a significant advance in China’s space program and a step toward its ambitions of one day following the United States in mounting a manned lunar mission. On Sunday, a six–wheeled rover named Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, was scheduled to emerge from the landing vehicle and begin a three–month–long mission to explore the moon’s surface.

    • December 12, 2013 – Scorpion ISR Strike Aircraft Makes Its First Flight – Textron announces the Cessna Aircraft Scorpion Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike aircraft made its first flight Thursday, December 12, 2014. The aircraft takes off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas and flew for 1.4 hours. The aircraft is developed in 24 months and has a cruising speed of up to 450 knots. It is expected to be deployed on ISR and homeland security missions.

    • December 10, 2013 – Curiosity Finds Ancient Freshwater Lake, Dates First Rock on Mars – NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover finds signs of an ancient freshwater lake thought to have existed 3.5 billion years ago, a perfect spot for any life that may have once lived on the planet. John Grotzinger of Caltech said the lake appears to be a lot like an ordinary Earth–like lake. Even though the question of whether life on Mars existed is still being debated, this reinforces the idea that it could be possible. 

    • November 30, 2013 – Bezos Unveils Amazon’s Plans for Delivery by UAV – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, speaking on 60 Minutes Sunday, November 30. 2014, says that Amazon.com is testing delivering packages using drones. The delivery service would be called Prime Air and was displayed in a demonstration video. It is intended to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less. Bezos says the service may be available in as little as four years, depending on improved technology and the FAA’s rules and regulations. The FAA has said that it will develop rules for commercial use of drones by 2015.

    • Novmeber 25, 2013 – China Announces Test of Stealth Drone – China says it tested its first stealth ‘killer’ drone, the Lijian, or "Sharp Sword." The drone is similar to the X–47B drone being tested by the U.S. Navy. Some reports say the drone is a reverse–engineered copy of Russia’s Mikoyan Skat unmanned aerial vehicle. Additional reports indicate no weapon bays were visible in any of the photos of the drone. Additionally, the stealth features that would make a drone like this a potential ‘balance–shifter’ remain unproven in this design. The flight is significant due to the new capabilities that such drones provide for China’s rapidly modernizing armed forces. As a result, China may have an edge in spreading such technology around the world due to fewer technology export controls.

    • November 7, 2013 – BAE Systems Flight Tests Taranis UAV – For the first time, the UK Parliament’s defense committee acknowledges that BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defense company flight tested the Taranis UAV, its first combat drone with jet fighter–like capabilities. It is the first public acknowledgment that the model has flown. Europe is trying to catch–up to the U.S. when it comes to UAV development. However, even with advances like this one, Europe is still years behind U.S. capabilities, as evidenced by the 100+ flights the X–47B has already made.

    • November 6, 2013 – Lockheed Martin Announces "Son of Blackbird" for 2030 – Lockheed Martin Corp. announces on its website a project for the SR–72 “Son of Blackbird,” the successor to the SR–71 Blackbird. Lockheed Martin anticipates completion of the project by 2030. The SR–72 is slated to feature hypersonic missiles and speeds of Mach 6.

    • November 5, 2013 – India Launches Its Mission to Mars – India launches a PSLV rocket with its Mars Orbiter Mission, which is now in an elliptical orbit around the Earth before beginning its journey to Mars. The mission launches at 09:08 GMT from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India’s east coast. The spacecraft is set to travel for 300 days, and is expected to reach Mars’ orbit in 2014. If the satellite successfully orbits the Red Planet, India's space agency will become the fourth in the world, following the U.S., Russia, and Europe to undertake a successful Mars mission.

    • October 25, 2013 – Orion Capsule Powered Up for the First Time – Ahead of its first scheduled launch next year, the electronics in Orion's crew module are powered up for the first time last week (October 19–25, 2014). This is the first step in six months of testing as more electronics are added. So far, reports are that the avionics are all working as hoped. Orion is being prepared to launch without a crew next fall atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. Orion is designed to eventually carry a human crew farther than one has ever traveled before, first to near–Earth asteroids and one day to Mars.

    • October 24, 2013 – Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration Breaks Records – NASA’s groundbreaking Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration aboard the LADEE spacecraft accomplishes a record–shattering data download rate of 622 megabits per second, a download rate six times faster than the most recent state–of–the–art radio system from the moon. In 2017, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration is going to test the ability to relay data from one ground station at White Sands, N.M., to another at NASA JPL through a laser communications terminal in geostationary orbit. The 2017 mission will involve a commercial satellite that will transfer information between the ground and other missions in low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station. Eventually, this technology might help NASA stay in contact with very distant spacecraft.

    • October 10, 2013 – Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter Passes Away – Legendary Mercury astronaut, and American pioneer, Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, passes away at the age of 88, leaving John Glenn as the only Mercury 7 astronaut still alive today. Along with Glenn, who flew three months before him, Carpenter was one of the last two survivors of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. He lived in Vail, CO, until a few weeks ago, when he suffered a stroke. AIAA President Mike Griffin said, “We mourn the passing of Scott Carpenter, a true American hero, a space pioneer who risked his life to advance our nation's understanding of space flight in its very earliest days. His efforts, and those of the other Mercury astronauts, paved the way for the later triumphs of the American space program. His bravery, boldness, and vision will echo down through the years as an inspiration to those who seek to further humanity's progress in space.”

    • October 3, 2013 – SM–3 Block 1B Interceptor Hits Target, Ready for Production – The Defense Department announces that a Raytheon SM–3 Block 1B interceptor, the most advanced interceptor being developed for launch from a ship, successfully hit a target during a flight test from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai late Thursday, October 2. 2014. Because this was the fifth successful back–to–back flight test, it is believed that the SM–3 Block 1B can go into production whenever the government gives authorization to proceed. The interceptor has been scheduled to be deployed by the Navy in 2015.

    • September 29, 2013 – SpaceX Launches Updated Falcon 9 – SpaceX reaches another milestone Sunday, September 29, 2013, successfully launching its most powerful rocket from California. The updated, nine–engine Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly after 9 a.m. PDT delivering the CASSIOPE satellite into orbit, a project of the Canadian Space Agency. It marks the first time that a rocket made by SpaceX launched from California. Until Sunday, SpaceX had launched its rockets from Cape Canaveral in Florida. By launching from Vandenberg, SpaceX will have access to another launch facility as it aims to launch rockets carrying government and commercial satellites at a rate of about once a month over the next five years.

    • September 25, 2013 – Unmanned F–16 Breaks Sound Barrier In First Flight – For the first time, the U.S. Air Force flies a zombie F–16, an unmanned version of the F–16 that has flown with pilots for millions of hours. During the test, the aircraft breaks the sound barrier. The unmanned jet, the QF–16, was able to achieve all the maneuvers of the piloted craft. Instead of being a hunter drone, this jet is expected to be a faster, more agile target for fighter pilot training, an upgrade on the Vietnam–era F–4 now used. Once these flight tests are completed, the jets will be sent to Holloman Air Force Base for air–to–ground control system and live–fire testing. They are expected to be fielded next year.

    • September 20, 2013 – Deep Impact’s Mission Has Ended – NASA announces Friday, September 20, 2013, that the Deep Impact mission ends after the agency fails to regain contact with the spacecraft during the past month. While a cause for the failure was not determined, researchers believe control was lost, and in the end it lost power and froze to death. Scientists are disappointed because they wanted to use the spacecraft to monitor Comet ISON as it approached the inner solar system. The spacecraft did live three to four times longer than originally planned, and mission team members were pleased by what the spacecraft observed, and by the data it collected, while functioning.

    • September 18, 2013 – Cygnus Makes Maiden Launch to ISS – Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule have a successful debut with its launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Wednesday, 18 September. The 13–story rocket blasts off at 10:58 a.m. EDT. The capsule named Cygnus, carrying 1,300 pounds of supplies, is now on its way to the ISS and is scheduled to arrive on Sunday. This is a “demonstration” mission to prove that Orbital has the capabilities to send cargo to the station. Once the Cygnus spacecraft reaches the space station it will remain docked until late October.

    • September 17, 2013 – Boeing 787–9 Makes Its First Test Flight – A longer version of Boeing Company’s 787 Dreamliner successfully completes its first flight on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. The 787–9 jet, which lands at 4:18 p.m. PDT at Boeing Field in Seattle, has room for 290 passengers, 40 more than the original 787–8 jetliner, and has about 300 more nautical miles of range. The jet flew at a speed of up to 366 knots (421 mph) and an altitude of 20,000 feet. The trip took it over Puget Sound and then over the eastern part of Washington State.

    • September 13, 2013 – Voyager 1 Leaves Solar System – NASA confirms that its Voyager 1 spacecraft has become the first probe to exit the solar system, an extraordinary achievement that NASA could only dream about when Voyager was launched in 1977. When it left Earth 36 years ago, it was only designed as a four–year mission to Saturn. Voyager 1 can now investigate the unexplored region in between the stars and send back details about conditions there. It takes 17 hours and 22 minutes for Voyager’s signals to reach NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The lonely probe, which reached interstellar space on August 25, 2012, is now 11.7 billion miles from Earth, moving at 38,000 miles per hour, and is expected to keep sending back data until roughly 2025.

    • August 30, 2013 – Virginia, Alaska Agree to Coordinate Spaceport Activities – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell announce a new operating agreement for the coordination of commercial space activities between the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority and the Alaska Aerospace Corp. The two spaceports will work together to share engineering, technical knowledge and operating procedures.

    • August 20, 2013 – Newest Astronaut Class Officially Introduced. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden formally introduces NASA’s new astronaut class at the Johnson Space Center Tuesday, 20 August 2013. The astronaut candidates are Josh A. Cassada and Victor J. Glover, both lieutenant commanders in the U.S. Navy; Tyler N. "Nick" Hague, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force; Christina M. Hammock; Nicole Aunapu Mann, a major in the U.S. Marine Corps; Anne C. McClain and Andrew R. Morgan, both majors in the U.S. Army; and Jessica U. Meir. They were selected from more than 6,100 applicants through a rigorous process. Bolden said the candidates “not only have the right stuff, they represent the full tapestry of American diversity.”

    • August 13, 2013 – SpaceX Grasshopper Demonstrates Successful Vertical–Takeoff–and–Landing. SpaceX successfully stages the most challenging test flight yet of its Grasshopper test vehicle, sending the vertical–takeoff–and–landing rocket 250 meters into the air and steering it 100 meters laterally before bringing it in for a landing. The test takes place August 13, 2013, at SpaceX’s test facility near McGregor, Texas. Grasshopper is a part of SpaceX’s initiative, first announced in 2011, to develop an orbital rocket with a reusable first stage. The test vehicle is based closely on the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket but has landing legs and is powered by a single kerosene–fueled Merlin 1–D engine.

    • Augsut 12, 2013 – Coast Guard Deploys ScanEagle UAV In Tests. During the spring of 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard deployed a ScanEagle UAV during a two–week trial that resulted in the seizure of cocaine, the first time the Coast Guard deployed a unmanned aerial system from a cutter in a drug interdiction. The Coast Guard plans to purchase a small UAV as early as 2016, but this plan is an interim solution until a larger one like the Fire Scout is ready. UAVs would be used to augment manned operations.

    • August 5, 2013 – Japanese Talking Robot On Its Way to the ISS. A small talking robot launches into space aboard a Japanese cargo ship Saturday, August, 3. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launches the humanoid “Kirobo” robot astronaut into orbit from southern Japan as part of nearly 3.5 tons of supplies and equipment to resupply the space station's six–person crew. After it arrives at the ISS on Friday, Kirobo's primary role will be to keep Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata company.

    • July 19, 2013 – Bezos Announces Recovery of Apollo 11 Engine. Coinciding with the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, billionaire Jeff Bezos reveals Friday, July 19, 2013, that one of the engines he recovered from the ocean earlier this year is from the Apollo 11 mission. A NASA spokesperson verified the discovery was confirmed using information from the Marshall Space Flight Center.

    • July 16, 2013 – NASA HS3 Team Deploying UAVs to Track Hurricane Intensity. NASA’s Ames Research Center has scheduled unmanned flight missions for hurricane research in the Atlantic from 20 August to 23 September. The mission will involve two Global Hawk aircraft equipped with instruments to measure atmospheric humidity, pressure, temperature, aerosols and wind; and will focus on tracking intensity changes of hurricanes, which is the most difficult aspect for forecasters. Researchers hope the data from the Global Hawk flights will refine the existing models forecasters rely on to predict the course of storms.

    • July 10, 2013 – X–47B Navy Drone Completes First Ever Unmanned Carrier Landing. The U.S. Navy’s X–47B drone made history Wednesday, July 10, 2013, as the first unmanned aircraft to land on the moving flight deck of an aircraft carrier at sea. The drone, named "Salty Dog 502," takes off from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, on a flight to the USS George H. W. Bush, in the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia. The drone lands by deploying a tailhook that catches a wire across the ship’s flight deck, just like a traditional fighter jet. Unlike other military drones, the X–47B isn't remotely piloted and relies upon an automated computer system to complete its maneuvers. On May 14, 2013, the X–47B executes the first ever "catapult takeoff" and lands successfully at Patuxent an hour later.

    • July 6, 2013 – Solar–Powered Plane Completes Cross–Country Flight. Solar Impulse, a solar–powered, single–seated plane, completes the last leg of its history–making cross–country journey Saturday night, July 6, 2013, safely touching down at New York’s JFK International Airport at 11:09 p.m. The cross–country journey began in California in early May, with Saturday’s final leg taking off from Dulles International Airport a little before 5 a.m. The final leg of the flight, while short on distance, took the longest time because of the need to avoid air traffic. The only problem noted was a wing issue resulting from a tear in the fabric.

    • July 3, 2013 – UAV Swarms Expected to Benefit a Variety of Fields. Scientists are working on applying swarm intelligence to UAVs because it could be beneficial to deploy several coordinated flying vehicles in a variety of fields. One application for UAV swarms would be search and rescue. A swarm could cover a lot of ground quickly while requiring only one operator. Another is exploration. Swarms could scan sites rapidly, whereas larger UAVs cannot. Swarming UAVs could also play a role in defense, as it is thought that such a coordinated attack could overwhelm standard missile–defense systems.

    • June 29, 2013 – New Atlantis Exhibit Opens. The space shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center officially opens on Saturday, 29 June 2013. Atlantis, the last space shuttle to fly, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit that chronicles the entire 30 year history of the shuttle program. The $100 million exhibit, showcasing the workhorse of the shuttle fleet that flew 33 times and more than 125 million miles, displays the orbiter as if in flight.

    • June 27, 2013 – FAA Releases NexGen Plan. The FAA releases the NextGen air traffic control modernization plan, saying NextGen improvements will reduce delays by 41% compared with what would happen if no further NextGen improvements were made beyond what the agency has done already. The plan, described as one of the FAA’s highest priorities, provides some detail on progress so far and what is expected in the near term.

    • June 14, 2013 – Airbus A350 Completes Maiden Flight. The Airbus A350 successfully completes its maiden flight Friday, June 14, 2013. The flight, with two former fighter pilots at the controls, takes off at 10:01 a.m. local time (4:01 a.m. EDT) from the Airbus factory in southwestern France. It is watched by more than 10,000 staff and spectators. The A350 touches down at 2:05 p.m. local time after flying past the Toulouse production site, concluding eight years of development estimated to have cost $15 billion.

    • June 10, 2013 – Opportunity Rover Makes New Discovery Before Heading to Next Locale. Nearly ten years after its launch, NASA’s Opportunity rover analyzes what may be the oldest rock captured, and found its first evidence that Mars once had nonacidic water – the kind of water that could sustain life on Earth.

    • June 7, 2013 – Orion Capsule Passes Critical Pressurization Tests. NASA’s Orion crew capsule achieves key milestones Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center by successfully passing its static loads tests, thus demonstrating it could survive what it is expected to experience in space, and validating its design. Orion was successfully pressurized to 110 percent of the conditions it will be subjected to in flight, also demonstrating that repairs made to superficial cracks will hold when it makes its first flight. Orion is scheduled to launch aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket in September 2014.

    • June 1, 2013 – SpaceX Performs First Test Firing of Falcon 9–R Rocket. SpaceX performs the first test firing of its Falcon 9–R prototype rocket on June 1, 2013. News of the test is announced June 3 by Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder. The test lasts about 10 seconds and includes nine Merlin 1–D engines. Falcon 9–R is the name SpaceX is using for a planned Falcon 9 variant with a fully reusable first stage. The company has been testing reusable launch vehicle technology under its Grasshopper technology demonstrator program. (Image Credit: SpaceX)

    • May 22, 2013 – Triton Completes First Flight. The Northrop Grumman–built MQ–4C Triton high–altitude unmanned aircraft successfully completes its first flight Wednesday, May 22, 2013, from the company’s manufacturing facility in Palmdale, CA. The MQ–4C Triton is being produced for U.S. Navy high–altitude maritime surveillance missions, and is designed to fly up to 24 hours and 11,500 miles without refueling. The aircraft is a heavily modified version of the RQ–4 Global Hawk, and has a strengthened airframe and de–icing features that allow it to fly at altitudes nearly ten miles above sea level, giving it a 2,000–nautical–mile view of the ocean in every direction. The first flight is considered a major step in the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.

    • May 22, 2013 – Solar Impulse Sets Distance Record for a Solar–Powered Flight. Solar Impulse, a solar–powered plane, flies from Arizona to Texas on the second leg of its cross–country journey on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, landing in Dallas Thursday morning at 2:08 a.m. EDT. Solar Impulse's 12,000 photovoltaic cells kept the plane going in the dark. While not setting any speed records, the flight takes more than 18 hours setting a new distance record for a single solar–powered flight.

    • May 17, 2013 – X–47B UAV Makes Its First Touch and Go Landing. Less than a week after completing its first catapult launch from a carrier deck, the X–47B UAV achieves another milestone on Friday, May 17, 2013, when it executes its first touch and go landings aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, bringing the technology demonstrator ever closer to being fully carrier–capable. The tests demonstrate the ability for the UAV and the carrier to communicate with each other over the super–fast datalink that they share. This is especially important if conditions become unsafe for a landing and it needs to be waved off.

    • May 14, 2013 – X–47B UAV Launches from Aircraft Carrier for First Time.The U.S. Navy makes aviation history on Tuesday, 14 May 2013, by launching an unmanned jet off an aircraft carrier for the first time. The X–47B stealth drone is catapulted at 11:18 a.m. EDT from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia Beach, VA. The X–47B flies a series of pre–programmed maneuvers around the ship before heading off for Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland where it later lands. The successful launch of the X–47B is “an inflection point in history on how we will integrate manned and unmanned aircraft on carrier flight decks in the future,” Rear Adm. Mat Winter wrote on the Navy’s official blog. With a range of 2,000 nautical miles, an unmanned jet like the X–47B could give the Navy both a long–range strike and reconnaissance capability.

    • May 2, 2013 – Navy Announces First Aircraft Squadron to Include Both Manned, Unmanned Vehicles. The U.S. Navy establishes its first aircraft squadron made up of both traditional helicopters and remotely piloted drones. The squadron’s first deployment is expected next year, and is designated Helicopter Maritime Strike 35, “the Magicians.” Its pilots will fly the drones from a control room inside the ship. The Magicians squadron will be made up of eight MH–60R Seahawks and 10 MQ–8B Fire Scouts.

    • May 1, 2013 – X–51A Waverider Successfully Achieves Flight Above Mach 5. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Boeing X–51A Waverider demonstrator, on May 1, 2013, successfully achieves sustained, scramjet–powered, air–breathing hypersonic flight above Mach 5 in its final test flight. The X–51A is thought to have experienced positive acceleration to speeds in excess of Mach 5 and run for the full duration of the planned powered phase of the test. The success of the test follows less successful prior tests and could be pivotal in helping drive further research and development to meet the Air Force's long–term goal of hypersonic capability.

    • April 29, 2013 – Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Makes First Rocket–Powered Flight. Virgin Galactic’s passenger spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, completes its first rocket–powered flight Monday, April 29, 2013 above the Mojave Desert in California. Approximately 45 minutes into the flight, SpaceShipTwo was released from its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, triggering ignition of the rocket motor, carrying SpaceShipTwo to a max altitude of 56,000 feet. During the 16–second engine burn, the spaceship broke the sound barrier, according to a statement released by Virgin Galactic. The rocket–powered portion of the flight lasted a little more than 10 minutes, and the entire flight took about an hour. Virgin Galactic said it will continue testing this year and plans to reach full space flight by the end of 2013.

    • April 21, 2013 – Antares Launches from Wallops. Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launches its Antares rocket at 5 p.m. EDT, Sunday, April 21, 2013, from the Mid–Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The goal of this launch is not to connect with the space station, but to make sure the rocket works and that a simulated version of a cargo ship that will dock with space station on future launches separates into orbit.

    • April 15, 2013 – X–48C Aircraft Makes Last of 30 Test Flights. The experimental X–48C ‘blended wing body’ aircraft recently makes the last of 30 test flights concluding an eight–month program backed by Boeing and NASA. The two organizations hope to build a bigger, faster (transonic – in the vicinity of the speed of sound) blended wing body aircraft at some point, and that within 15 to 20 years, the concept could be developed into military aircraft for cargo–carrying and aerial refueling missions. All 30 test flights were conducted at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The X–48C flew for approximately 30 minutes on most flights, attaining an altitude of about 9,800 feet. Very quiet and efficient, the hybrid wing body has shown promise for meeting all of NASA's environmental goals for future aircraft designs.

    • March 13, 2013 – Curiosity Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited for Ancient Life on Mars. An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon – some of the key chemical ingredients for life – in the material Curiosity drilled out of a rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet.

    • February 6, 2013 – Embry–Riddle Offers the First Degree in Commercial Space Operations. Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University announces on February 6, 2013, plans to launch an undergraduate degree in Commercial Space Operations this fall at its Daytona Beach campus, the first of its kind in the United States. Officials say the timing is right for a specialized program with companies like SpaceX launching cargo to the ISS, and Virgin Galactic and XCOR preparing for suborbital tourist flights.

    • February 1, 2013 – 1 February 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. The seven–member crew of the STS–107 mission was just 16 minutes from landing on the morning of 1 Feb. 2003 when Mission Control lost contact with the shuttle Columbia. A piece of foam, falling from the external tank during launch, had opened a hole in one of the shuttle’s wings, leading to the breakup of the orbiter upon re–entry. Addressing the nation, President Bush said, “mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.”

    • January 28, 2013 – 28 January 2013 marks the 27th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. The shuttle exploded less than two minutes after lift–off from the Kennedy Space Center in 1986. All seven crew members were killed. An investigation revealed that the cold temperatures compromised the seals on the solid rocket boosters, which led to the explosion.

    • January 23, 2013 – Deep Space Industries Announces Plans for Asteroid Mining. Deep Space Industries (DSI) announces it is raising $20 million to fund the first stage of a mission to identify asteroids close to Earth and mine them for valuable materials. DSI is targeting 2015 to launch satellites called “Fireflies” to identify targets, followed a year later by “Dragonflies” to return samples. It plans to pay satellite companies to allow its 55–pound Fireflies to ride piggyback on existing launches of commercial satellites. The company also has a patent pending on a 3–D–printing process that can create high–strength metal objects from schematics in zero–gravity conditions.

    • January 2013 – Aviation Group Reports 2012 Safest Year On Record Worldwide. According to the Aviation Safety Network, 2012 is the safest year for air travel since 1945. The world's airlines – including passenger and cargo flights – reported only 23 accidents resulting in 475 fatalities last year, compared with the 10–year average of 34 accidents and 773 fatalities per year. The declining accident numbers are the result of several efforts by international aviation groups to require audits of airlines around the world to comply with safety standards. In the U.S., the Aviation Safety Network's database shows only two fatal commercial airline accidents last year, resulting in two deaths.

    • January 2013 – Over the past year, humankind's efforts to push farther out into the solar system have resulted in launching the first commercial spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station, landing a car–size rover on Mars, docking the first Chinese manned spacecraft, and sending 18 people to live and work off the planet. As these and other firsts enter history, they will join a half century of international space milestones. Looking ahead into the coming year, 2013 will mark several key anniversaries for the events of the previous five decades of human activity outside the Earth.



    2012


    • November 16, 2012 – NASA, Boeing Mark Testing Milestone for X–48C Aircraft – NASA and Boeing's blended wing X–48C flies its 100th flight, marking a major milestone for the experimental aircraft. The unmanned aerial vehicle has been modified to investigate noise–shielding concepts with a blended wing body design, combined with mounting the engines on top of the fuselage and shielding them with both the horizontal and vertical tail surfaces. Twenty more test flights are expected before the blended wing body program is completed.

    • November 15, 2012 – Pentagon Agrees to Station Space Debris–Tracking Radar In Australia – Following high–level discussions with Australia’s Defense Minister Stephen Smith, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta announces that the U.S. military will station in Australia an advanced radar to help track space junk threatening satellites, and is working toward placement of a new, state–of–the–art deep–space telescope, called the Space Surveillance Telescope, developed by DARPA.

    • November 14, 2012 – Northrop Grumman Unveils Bigger Firebird – Northrop Grumman Corporation unveils a bigger Firebird aircraft, some 30 percent larger than the Firebird demonstrator it unveiled in 2011, when it began test flights on the medium–altitude optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) demonstrator

    • November 4, 2012 – Boeing's 787 Dreamliner Makes Debut for United – Boeing's 787 Dreamliner makes its commercial debut for United Airlines on Sunday, November 4, 2012, on a flight from Houston to Chicago. Sometimes referred to as "the aircraft of the future," the Dreamliner is expected to save money on fuel and potentially gain consumer preference for its comforts.

    • November 2, 2012 – space shuttle Atlantis Moves to KSC Visitor Complex – On Friday, November 2, 2012, space shuttle Atlantis makes its final departure from the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, making a 10–mile journey from the assembly building to its new display site at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Atlantis arrived at Kennedy in April 1985. The spacecraft traveled 125,935,769 miles during 33 spaceflights, including 12 missions to the International Space Station. Its final flight, STS–135, closed out the Space Shuttle Program era upon landing on July 21, 2011.

    • October 30, 2012 – California Science Center Opens Endeavour Exhibit – After a nearly two–decade career ferrying astronauts into space, space shuttle Endeavour begins its final mission as the centerpiece of a long–awaited museum exhibit paying tribute to California's aerospace industry and the American shuttle program. Elected leaders, NASA officials and astronauts joined hundreds of schoolchildren and space fans for a ceremony commemorating the opening of the shuttle display at the California Science Center.

    • October 28, 2012 – SpaceX Dragon Returns to Earth in Successful Pacific Splashdown – SpaceX's Dragon, an unmanned space capsule carrying medical samples from the International Space Station, splashes down in the Pacific Ocean Sunday, October 28, 2012, completing the first official private interstellar shipment under a NASA contract. It lands in the Pacific via parachutes at 12:22 p.m. PDT, a couple hundred miles off the Baja California coast. The Dragon carried nearly 2,000 pounds of science experiments and old station equipment as well as nearly 500 frozen samples of blood and urine collected by station astronauts over the past year. It was the first of 12 scheduled deliveries.

    • October 26, 2012 – Missile Defense Agency Completes Historic Test – The U.S. Military successfully intercepts four of five targets over the Pacific Ocean in the largest and most complex test to date of the nation's ballistic missile defense system. The targets used during the test at Kwajalein Atoll include one medium–range ballistic missile, two short–range ballistic missiles and two low–flying cruise missiles. The missiles are launched from the ground, air, and sea in an exercise that took about 30 minutes to complete. It is the first time in a live–fire test that multiple weapon systems engaged a raid of multiple targets nearly simultaneously.

    • October 15, 2012 – Cassini Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary – NASA's Cassini spacecraft celebrates 15 years of uninterrupted drive time. Since launching on October, 15 1997, the spacecraft logs more than 3.8 billion miles of exploration, enough to circle Earth more than 152,000 times. After flying by Venus twice, Earth, and then Jupiter on its way to Saturn, Cassini pulls into orbit around the ringed planet in 2004 and spends its last eight years weaving around Saturn, its rings and moons. Cassini sends back some 444 gigabytes of scientific data to date, including more than 300,000 images.

    • October 14, 2012 – Felix Baumgartner Makes Successful Jump from Stratosphere – Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner becomes the first man to break the sound barrier in a record–breaking freefall jump from the edge of space. The 43–year–old jumps from a capsule more than 24 miles above the Earth, reaching a top speed of 833.9 miles per hour, or 1.24 times the speed of sound. The veteran skydiver is in freefall for four minutes and 20 seconds before opening his red and white parachute and floating down to the desert in New Mexico. His launch coincides with the 65th anniversary of American pilot Chuck Yeager breaking the speed of sound.

    • October 10, 2012 – SpaceX Falcon Successfully Docks with ISS – Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s unmanned cargo ship successfully docks with the International Space Station during the first regular cargo mission in commercial spaceflight. Astronauts use the station’s robotic arm to grab the Dragon capsule at 6:56 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, October 10, and attach it to a docking port about 250 miles above Earth at 9:03 a.m., ahead of schedule. The Hawthorne, California–based company, SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, accomplishes a similar feat on May 25, 2012 in a test mission, becoming the first company to do so. This is the first of at least a dozen resupply flights the company will make under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.

    • September 22, 2012 – First Group of USAF UAV Operators Graduate Without Learning to be Pilots – The first group of U.S. Air Force student operators who have not completed the service's undergraduate pilot training (UPT) program graduate from the General Atomics MQ–9 Reaper training course. These pilots are part of the USAF's new career field, designated 18X within the service's internal categorization, which is designed to train drone operators to fly unmanned aircraft without being trained as a manned aircraft pilot.

    • August 14, 2012 – Faulty Control Fin Results in Failed WaveRider Test – The U.S. Air Force launches the X–51A, a hypersonic unmanned air vehicle with the potential of traveling at six times the speed of sound, but the test ends in disappointment when a part fails, causing it to plummet into the Pacific Ocean. The experimental aircraft is launched over the Pacific from above the Point Mugu Naval Air Test Range in a key test to fine–tune its hypersonic scramjet engine. The aircraft is designed to hit mach 6, or six times the speed of sound, and fly for five minutes. But that does not happen as the engine never ignites. About 15 seconds into the flight, a fault is identified in one of the WaveRider's control fins, and the aircraft is not able to maintain control and is lost. It is the third time the WaveRider has flown. Not one flight goes the distance. Only one of four WaveRider aircraft remains, but officials have not decided when, or if, that vehicle will fly.

    • July 19, 2012 – Electric Aircraft Flies Over 200 MPH for First Time – An electric aircraft flies faster than 200 miles per hour for the first time. Electric vehicle pioneer Chip Yates makes the flight in his Long–ESA. Yates reaches the milestone flying at 202.6 mph, but he claims his team could reach even higher speeds. Yates hopes his speed runs will help develop the technology needed for both longer endurance flights and more practical electric aircraft.

    • May 25, 2012 – The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Dragon capsule docks with the International Space Station, marking the first time in history that a private company joins with the space station. The ISS's Expedition 31 crew successfully captures the SpaceX Dragon capsule with the station's robotic arm at 2:56 PM, coming precisely three days, six hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds after the mission's launch.

    • April 2012 – Airbus begins final assembly of the first A350 XWB. The company has orders for 548 A350s, a family of long–range 250–350–passenger widebody airliners with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily from carbonfibre–re–inforced polymer. The first flight is planned for mid–2013.


    2011


    • September 19–21, 2012 – The Last Flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour (atop a modified Boeing 747 jet) – Space shuttle Endeavour begins its flight from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Los Angeles on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, thrilling spectators across the southern United States before completing the first stage of its transcontinental voyage in Houston. Endeavour completes the second leg of the trip on Friday, September 21, arriving at Los Angeles International Airport atop a modified Boeing 747 jet at 12:51 p.m. PT. Endeavour, along with Discovery, Enterprise and Atlantis, become museum pieces after NASA ends its 30–year shuttle program in July 2011.

    • July 8, 2011 – Final flight of space shuttle Atlantis, and final flight of the Space Shuttle program – Payload Multi–Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello.

    • May 16, 2011 – Final flight of space shuttle Endeavour – ISS assembly flight ULF6, ELC 3, ROEU, Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

    • February 24, 2011 – Final flight of space shuttle Discovery – ISS assembly flight ULF5, PMM Leonardo, ELC 4.


    2010


    • April 5, 2010 – NASA's last night launch of the Shuttle program: ISS assembly flight 19A: Utility and Logistics Flight 4: Multi–Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo.

    • May 25, 2010 – A Boeing X–51A Waverider flight–test vehicle successfully makes the longest scramjet–powered hypersonic flight off the southern California coast. The 200–second burn by the X–51's Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne–built air breathing scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 5. The previous longest scramjet burn in a flight test was 12 seconds in a NASA X–43. The flight is considered the first use of a practical hydrocarbon–fueled scramjet in flight.

    • June 4, 2010 – SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket achieves Earth orbit on June 4, nine minutes into its maiden flight, drawing praise from NASA, the White House and others eager for the company to start resupplying the International Space Station. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the launch "bodes well" and is a "huge boost of confidence" for President Obama's plan to privatize launches to the space station.

    • June 28, 2010 – Engine maker Pratt & Whitney announce that Lockheed Martin's F–35B Lightning II Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing aircraft successfully makes its maiden supersonic flight. U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Kelly climbed to 30,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 1.07 in the off–shore supersonic test track near Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. This marks the first time in aviation history that a production ready, stealthy, short take–off vertical landing capable aircraft has flown supersonic.

    • July 7–8, 2010 – Bertrand Piccard and his Solar Impulse team make aviation history by flying more than 24 consecutive hours non–stop in a solar airplane.



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