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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


    2014

    • 2 May 2014 – Bolden: Dispute with Russia Has Not Harmed Space Programs’ Relationship – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told Congress on Thursday 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 said ties between the two countries’ space programs remain strong. Bolden also suggested that U.S. launches to the ISS could be accelerated with additional funds.

    • 30 April 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 said that the U.S. could “use a trampoline” if it wanted to get its astronauts to the ISS. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin commented 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.

    • 29 April 2014 – NASA Asking for Proposals to Open Up ISS to Industry – NASA officials are asking 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.

    • 29 April 2014 – S2 Personal Plane Could One Day Make Runways Obsolete – As part of its Invention Awards 2014, Popular Science reported 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.

    • 28 April 2014 – Musk Announces Reusable Rocket Test Success, Suit Against Government – On Friday, Elon Musk said 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 told 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 said 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.

    • 28 April 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.

    • 25 April 2014 – Ostapenko: Russia Plans to Increase Collaborations with China – Oleg Ostapenko, head of Roscosmos, said 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 stated that Russia would 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 said 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.

    • 25 April 2014 – X-37B Space Plane Reaches 500th Day In Orbit – Thursday marked 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. Brian Weeden, a technical adviser with the Secure World Foundation and a former orbital analyst with the Air Force, said that amateur observations of the space plane indicate that it still has plenty of thruster fuel remaining. Weeden noted that while its primary mission is unknown, the X-37B may be testing technology for agencies like the National Reconnaissance Office.

    • 24 April 2014 – Sikorsky Announces First Flight of Manned/Unmanned UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter – Sikorsky announced that it conducted the first flight demonstration of an “optionally piloted” UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on 11 March 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.

    • 23 April 2014 – Texas EquuSearch Sues to Use UAVs for Search and Rescue – Texas EquuSearch filed a federal lawsuit on Monday 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.

    • 22 April 2014 – North Dakota’s UAV Test Site to be First of Six to Fly Missions – FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said on Monday 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 next month. 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 said, “North Dakota has really taken the lead in supporting the growing unmanned aircraft industry.”

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

    • 19 April 2014 – SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 – SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket at 3:25 p.m. EDT Friday 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. Dragon is on a course to rendezvous with the station Sunday morning. Commander Koichi Wakata and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio will capture Dragon using the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 7:14 a.m. to prepare for its berthing to the Harmony module. AIAA congratulates SpaceX, an AIAA corporate member, on the successful launch.

    • 16 April 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. With prices not considered in the document, it remains to be seen whether the current budget environment will allow for costly retrofitting or other aircraft upgrades.

    • 15 April 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 has completed 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.

    • 14 April 2014 – X-47B Wins Collier Trophy – The Northrop Grumman X-47B has won the 2013 Collier Trophy. NASA awarded 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 last week, the X-47B is scheduled to be deployed by the Navy in 2019. Among other nominees for the trophy were the NASA Lunar Laser Communications demo team and Pratt & Whitney's PurePower geared turbofan engine. AIAA congratulates Northrop Grumman, an AIAA corporate member, and the entire X-47B team.

    • 11 April 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.

    • 10 April 2014 – Atlas V Launches with NRO Satellite – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite successfully launched Thursday afternoon. Liftoff occurred at 1:45 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. AIAA congratulates ULA, an AIAA corporate member, on the successful launch.

    • 10 April 2014 – Solar Impulse 2 Unveiled – The Solar Impulse team unveiled its Solar Impulse 2 plane yesterday 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.

    • 9 April 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), sent a letter addressed to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta that read, “The current regulatory void has left American entrepreneurs and others either sitting on the sidelines or operating in the absence of appropriate safety guidelines.”

    • 9 April 2014 – Pentagon to Review Russian-Built Atlas V Engine in Wake of Crimea Crisis – The U.S. Defense Department has initiated 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.

    • 8 April 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

    • 8 April 2014 – LADEE Probe Nears Final Days of Collecting Scientific Data – NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) probe will descend to as low as a mile or two above the lunar surface where it will make its final scientific observations before a maneuver sets up the spacecraft’s controlled impact on or before 21 April. The probe’s final mission involves studying dust and other aspects of the lunar exosphere to determine the structure and composition of the Moon’s thin ‘atmosphere.’ On 15 April, a total lunar eclipse is expected to envelop LADEE for about four hours, exposing the spacecraft to conditions at the limits of what it was designed to withstand, according to NASA.

    • 3 April 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.

    • 31 March 2014 – FAA Approves Nighttime UAS Flights for North Dakota Police – The FAA has given 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, 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.

    • 31 March 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. A teleconference is scheduled to take place 2 April to discuss the new initiative.

    • 28 March 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.

    • 24 March 2014 – NASA Asks for Proposals to Help Develop Asteroid Redirect Mission – NASA said that it is looking for 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.” Greg Williams, deputy associate administrator for policy and plans in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations mission directorate, said the asteroid mission provides an exciting opportunity to demonstrate technologies that will be needed for future human exploration. Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Langley Research Center are now evaluating mission concepts, with a selection expected early next year.

    • 18 March 2014 – Scientists Discover Evidence of Gravitational Waves – A team led by John Kovak of Harvard University, using a telescope at the South Pole, has discovered 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 said that this could be among the greatest breakthroughs in astrophysics over the last 25 years. Even with this major discovery, there are still plenty of important topics left to study, like the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

    • 17 March 2014 – ISS Crew Discusses Space Life In “Live From Space” Event – During Friday evening’s “Live From Space” television event that aired on the National Geographic Channel, the crew of the ISS discussed everything from space toilets and experiments to dangerous spacewalks and space junk. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio said, “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.

    • 13 March 2014 – NASA Joins Search for Missing Malaysian Jetliner – NASA has joined the search for a Malaysian commercial jetliner that vanished over the weekend. A NASA spokesman said 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.

    • 12 March 2014 – Satellites Helping to Search for Missing Malaysian Plane – DigitalGlobe’s online crowdsourcing platform has started 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.

    • 11 March 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 will resume using UAVs to deliver flowers. The company was previously stopped from making such deliveries by the FAA following an initial test delivery on 8 Feb.

    • 10 March 2014 – Investigators Looking Into Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 – An international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China, disappeared on Saturday, 8 March, 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 on 8 March 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.

    • 7 March 2014 – Hubble Telescope Witnesses Asteroid Break Up – For the first time, the Hubble Space Telescope has observed 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.

    • 5 March 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 indicated 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. NASA and the administration may use the situation to request more funds for the Commercial Crew Program, which is developing commercial rockets that would launch from the U.S. In fact, NASA asked for $1.1 billion for the program in the 2015 budget request, almost twice what it received in 2014. Bolden said giving NASA the full amount of funds would be the quickest way to launch American astronauts from American soil on American spacecraft.

    • 28 February 2014 – GPM Core Observatory Successfully Launched from Japan – The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was successfully launched from Japan on Thursday afternoon at 1:37 p.m EST. No problems were 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. This is the first of five Earth science missions NASA has on tap for the year.

    • 27 February 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.

    • 27 February 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.

    • 21 February 2014 – The FAA Announces New Helicopter Safety Regulations – The FAA has announced that it will require helicopters to have radio altitude meters and life vests for pilots. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said 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.

    • 20 February 2014 – United Makes First Commercial Flight with Split Scimitar Winglets – United Airlines announced Wednesday 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.

    • 19 February 2014 – Asteroid Misses Earth As Predicted – As predicted, an asteroid with an estimated diameter of three football fields missed hitting Earth late Monday. 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. Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said that while the asteroid missed the Earth, it would be a wise use of resources to find all near-Earth objects that could hit the Earth and develop ways to deflect any incoming threats. While NASA and others have plans to increase the search for asteroids that could hit the Earth, more measures like dedicated spacecraft are likely needed to find all possible threats.

    • 19 February 2014 – Cessna Flies Citation Latitude for the First Time – The Cessna Citation Latitude made its debut flight Tuesday from the company’s factory in Wichita, Kansas, meeting the commitment schedule laid out in October 2011. The aircraft reportedly behaved 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.

    • 18 February 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, completed its first commercial cargo mission to the orbiting laboratory Tuesday. NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins, with assistance from Japanese Astronaut Koichi Wakata, used 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 entry that NASA will not be televising.

    • 13 February 2014 – Winglets Have “Big Impact” On Commercial Aviation – Winglets on planes have been making a fairly big impact in commercial aviation. By reducing drag they can save on gas and other costs. Aviation Partners Boeing, a joint venture formed in 1999 to make and sell winglets for Boeing aircraft, is predicting jet fuel savings of more than 5 billion gallons worldwide in 2014 as a result of the devices. Southwest Airlines claims winglets save 54 million gallons of fuel a year.

    • 12 February 2014 – FBI Cracks Down On Laser Strikes On Planes – The FBI announced on Tuesday 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 has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of someone committing the crime. The agency noted 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.

    • 10 February 2014 – Canada Releases New Space Policy – Industry Minister James Moore unveiled Canada’s new space policy Friday at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, although he did 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 said the country would also invest in the James Webb Space Telescope.

    • 30 January 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 record is 469 days, set during OTV-2, which launched in 2011.

    • 30 January 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.

    • 29 January 2014 – Challenger Tragedy Remembered – Twenty-eight years ago, on 28 January 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.

    • 29 January 2014 – BAE Systems Certifies 3-D Printed Part – BAE Systems has produced and certified a 3-D printed replacement part for the BAE 146 regional jet. It is also now 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.

    • 28 January 2014 – Texas Engineering Institute Receives FAA Certificate for UAV Testing – Last Friday, the FAA certified 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.”

    • 23 January 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.

    • 21 January 2014 – Rosetta Spacecraft Wakes Up from Hibernation – Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully awoke 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 was considered one of the final milestones for the spacecraft before arriving at comet 67P later this year.

    • 17 January 2014 – ISS Made No Collision-Avoidance Maneuvers In 2013 – The ISS reportedly made no collision-avoidance maneuvers last year despite the growing amount of orbital debris intersecting its orbit. NASA said 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.

    • 16 January 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 have begun testing the RS-16 UAV this week 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.

    • 15 January 2014 – Pilots, Passengers Reflect on Anniversary of “Miracle” Landing – Wednesday, 15 January, marked 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."

    • 13 January 2014 – Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Reaches Highest Altitude Yet – Virgin Galactic reached its highest altitude yet Friday, 10 Jan., in a supersonic space plane that’s set to carry paying customers into sub-orbit later this year. The SpaceShipTwo flight was 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 reached an altitude of 71,000 feet, or roughly 13.5 miles up in the air, and attained a speed of Mach 1.4. If all goes as scheduled, the first Virgin Galactic commercial space flight will occur in the fall from Virgin Galactic's terminal at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

    • 9 January 2014 – Delta Retires DC-9 Planes – Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 1:07 p.m. EST Thursday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus is now traveling 17,500 mph in Earth's orbit and is expected to reach the International Space Station on Sunday, 12 Jan., 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. AIAA congratulates Orbital Sciences, an AIAA corporate member, on the successful launch.

    • 6 January 2014 – Delta Retires DC-9 Planes – On Monday night, 6 January 2014, Delta Air Lines flew 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

     

    • 31 December 2013 – FAA Selects Sites to Conduct UAV Tests – The FAA announced 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.

    • 27 December 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.

    • 13 December 2013 – China Successfully Lands Rover on the Moon – China completed the first soft landing on the moon’s surface in 37 years Saturday, 13 December, 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 marked 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.

    • 12 December 2013 – Scorpion ISR Strike Aircraft Makes Its First Flight – Textron announced the Cessna Aircraft Scorpion Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike aircraft made its first flight Thursday, 12 December. The aircraft took off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas and flew for 1.4 hours. The aircraft was 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.

    • 10 December 2013 – Curiosity Finds Ancient Freshwater Lake, Dates First Rock on Mars – NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover has found 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. In another finding from the rover, Curiosity was able to date a sample’s age, something that has never been done outside of Earth before. It found one rock was 4.2 billion years old and was exposed to galactic cosmic rays for 78 million years.

    • 30 November 2013 – Bezos Unveils Amazon’s Plans for Delivery by UAV – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, speaking on 60 Minutes Sunday, 30 November, said 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 said 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.

    • 25 Novmeber 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.

    • 7 November 2013 – BAE Systems Flight Tests Taranis UAV – For the first time, the UK Parliament’s defense committee acknowledged 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.

    • 6 November 2013 – Lockheed Martin Announces "Son of Blackbird" for 2030 – Lockheed Martin Corp. announced 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.

    • 5 November 2013 – India Launches Its Mission to Mars – India has launched 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 launched 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.

    • 29 October 2013 – Orion Capsule Powered Up for the First Time – Ahead of its first scheduled launch next year, the electronics in Orion's crew module were powered up for the first time last week (19-25 October). This was 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 travelled before, first to near-Earth asteroids and one day to Mars.

    • 24 October 2013 – Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration Breaks Records – NASA’s groundbreaking Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration aboard the LADEE spacecraft accomplished 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.

    • 10 October 2013 – Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter Passes Away – Legendary Mercury astronaut, and American pioneer, Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, has passed 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 progess in space.”

    • 2 October 2013 – SM-3 Block 1B Interceptor Hits Target, Ready for Production – The Defense Department announced Friday, 3 October, 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, 2 October. 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.

    • 29 September 2013 – SpaceX Launches Updated Falcon 9 – SpaceX reached another milestone Sunday, 29 September, successfully launching its most powerful rocket from California. The updated, nine-engine Falcon 9 lifted 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 marked 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.

    • 25 September 2013 – Unmanned F-16 Breaks Sound Barrier In First Flight – For the first time, the U.S. Air Force flew 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 broke 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.

    • 20 September 2013 – Deep Impact’s Mission Has Ended – NASA announces Friday, 20 September 2013, that the Deep Impact mission has ended after the agency failed 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.

    • 18 September 2013 – Cygnus Makes Maiden Launch to ISS – Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule had a successful debut with its launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Wednesday, 18 September. The 13-story rocket blasted 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.

    • 17 September 2013 – Boeing 787-9 Makes Its First Test Flight – A longer version of Boeing Company’s 787 Dreamliner successfully completed its first flight on Tuesday, 17 September. The 787-9 jet, which landed 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.

    • 13 September 2013 – Voyager 1 Leaves Solar System – NASA confirmed 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 25 Aug. 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.

    • 30 August 2013 - Virginia, Alaska Agree to Coordinate Spaceport Activities – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell announced 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.

    • 20 August 2013 - Newest Astronaut Class Officially Introduced. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden formally introduced 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.”

    • 13 August 2013 - SpaceX Grasshopper Demonstrates Successful Vertical-Takeoff-and-Landing. SpaceX successfully staged 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 took place 13 August 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.

    • 12 Augsut 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.

    • 5 August 2013 - Japanese Talking Robot On Its Way to the ISS. A small talking robot launched into space aboard a Japanese cargo ship Saturday, 3 August. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched 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.

    • 19 July 2013 – Bezos Announces Recovery of Apollo 11 Engine. Coinciding with the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, billionaire Jeff Bezos revealed Friday, 19 July 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.

    • 16 July 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.

    • 10 July 2013 – X-47B Navy Drone Completes First Ever Unmanned Carrier Landing. The U.S. Navy’s X-47B drone made history Wednesday, 10 July 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," took 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 landed by deploying a tailhook that caught 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 14 May of this year, the X-47B executed the first ever "catapult takeoff" and landed successfully at Patuxent an hour later.

    • 6 July 2013 – Solar-Powered Plane Completes Cross-Country Flight. Solar Impulse, a solar-powered, single-seated plane, completed the last leg of its history-making cross-country journey Saturday night, 6 July 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.

    • 3 July 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.

    • 29 June 2013 – New Atlantis Exhibit Opens. The space shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center officially opened 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.

    • 27 June 2013 – FAA Releases NexGen Plan. The FAA released 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.

    • 14 June 2013 – Airbus A350 Completes Maiden Flight. The Airbus A350 successfully completed its maiden flight Friday, 14 June 2013. The flight, with two former fighter pilots at the controls, took off at 10:01 a.m. local time (4:01 a.m. EDT) from the Airbus factory in southwestern France. It was watched by more than 10,000 staff and spectators. The A350 touched 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.

    • 10 June 2013 – Opportunity Rover Makes New Discovery Before Heading to Next Locale. Nearly ten years after its launch, NASA’s Opportunity rover analyzed 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.

    • 7 June 2013 – Orion Capsule Passes Critical Pressurization Tests. NASA’s Orion crew capsule achieved 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.

    • 1 June 2013 - SpaceX Performs First Test Firing of Falcon 9-R Rocket. SpaceX performed the first test firing of its Falcon 9-R prototype rocket on 1 June. News of the test was announced 3 June by Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder. The test lasted about 10 seconds and included 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)

    • 22 May 2013 – Triton Completes First Flight. The Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton high-altitude unmanned aircraft successfully completed its first flight Wednesday, 22 May 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.

    • 22 May 2013 – Solar Impulse Sets Distance Record for a Solar-Powered Flight. Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane, flew from Arizona to Texas on the second leg of its cross-country journey Wednesday, 22 May 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 took more than 18 hours which did set a new distance record for a single solar-powered flight.

    • 17 May 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 achieved another milestone Friday, 17 May 2013, when it executed 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 demonstrated 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.

    • 14 May 2013 – X-47B UAV Launches from Aircraft Carrier for First Time. The U.S. Navy made 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 was 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 flew a series of pre-programmed maneuvers around the ship before heading off for Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland where it was scheduled to land. 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.

    • 2 May 2013 – Navy Announces First Aircraft Squadron to Include Both Manned, Unmanned Vehicles. The U.S. Navy on Thursday, 2 May 2013, established 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.

    • 1 May 2013 – X-51A Waverider Successfully Achieves Flight Above Mach 5. The US. Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Boeing X-51A Waverider demonstrator, on 1 May, successfully achieved 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 this 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.

    • 29 April 2013 – Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Makes First Rocket-Powered Flight. Virgin Galactic’s passenger spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, completed its first rocket-powered flight Monday, 29 April 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.

    • 21 April 2013 – Antares Launches from Wallops. Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launched its Antares rocket at 5 p.m. EDT, Sunday, 21 April, 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.

    • 15 April 2013 – X-48C Aircraft Makes Last of 30 Test Flights. The experimental X-48C ‘blended wing body’ aircraft recently made 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.

    • 13 March 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.

    • 6 February 2013 – Embry-Riddle Offers the First Degree in Commercial Space Operations. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announced plans, 6 Feb. 2013, 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 said the timing was right for a specialized program with companies like SpaceX launching cargo to the ISS, and Virgin Galactic and XCOR preparing for suborbital tourist flights.

    • 1 February 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.”

    • 28 January 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.

    • 23 January 2013 – Deep Space Industries Announces Plans for Asteroid Mining. Deep Space Industries (DSI) announced 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 was 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 made the longest scramjet-powered hypersonic flight on 25 May 2010 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 achieved Earth orbit on 4 June, 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 announced Monday, 28 June 2010, that Lockheed Martin's F-35B Lightning II Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing aircraft successfully made 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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