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

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


19 September 2017
Continuing Coverage: FAA Authorizes UAV Use During Irma Recovery

Hurricane-Irma-Damage-AerialFootage-AP-PurchasedFlightGlobal reports that Pratt & Whitney has completed testing on “a full-scale powerplant for the Lockheed Martin F-35” under the “four-year adaptive engine technology development (AETD) programme sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).” The Adaptive Engine Transition Programme (AETP) “could be used to re-engine the F-35 and power a future combat aircraft.” Pratt & Whitney said that all tests on the F135 core engine “met or exceeded expectations.” Pratt & Whitney Military Engines President Matthew Bromberg said that the testing “is an important milestone on the path toward the advancement and maturation of a next generation adaptive engine which will enable the warfighter to stay well ahead of future and emerging threats.” (Image Credit: US Air Force Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen via Wikipedia)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


19 September 2017
Pratt & Whitney F-35 Engine Completes Testing

F-35A-LighteningII_USAF-WikiFlightGlobal reports that Pratt & Whitney has completed testing on “a full-scale powerplant for the Lockheed Martin F-35” under the “four-year adaptive engine technology development (AETD) programme sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).” The Adaptive Engine Transition Programme (AETP) “could be used to re-engine the F-35 and power a future combat aircraft.” Pratt & Whitney said that all tests on the F135 core engine “met or exceeded expectations.” Pratt & Whitney Military Engines President Matthew Bromberg said that the testing “is an important milestone on the path toward the advancement and maturation of a next generation adaptive engine which will enable the warfighter to stay well ahead of future and emerging threats.” (Image Credit: US Air Force Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen via Wikipedia)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


18 September 2017
Cassini Spacecraft Consumed In Saturn’s Atmosphere, Ending 20-Year Mission

Cassini-NASAThe AP reported that NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has “burned up in the skies over Saturn as planned,” ending a 20-year mission exploring the planet and its moons. The New York Times reported that Cornell University planetary scientist Jonathan Lunine said that Cassini “gave us a big pointer to where we need to go to look for life. If we are interested in trying to find life beyond the Earth, that’s the place we need to go, and we know how to do it.” NASA scientist Amy Simon said that studying Saturn and Jupiter together will “tell you a lot of what happened in the early solar system. It will answer those few fundamental questions that we could not do with Cassini.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (New York Times) (Subscription Publication)


15 September 2017
SpaceX Posts Blooper Video: “How NOT To Land An Orbital Rocket.”

SpaceXFalcon9Launch14Jan2017-AP-PurchasedThe AP reports that SpaceX released a blooper video Thursday titled “How NOT to land an orbital rocket booster.” The two-minute video shows footage of rockets exploding on land and at sea, set to John Philip Sousa’s “Liberty Bell” march. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently said on Twitter that the company “messed up a lot before it finally worked, but there’s some epic explosion footage.” The video ends with scenes of SpaceX’s first successful booster landing at Cape Canaveral in 2015 and on an off-shore platform in 2016. (Image: Space-X’s Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA on Saturday, 14 Jan., 2017. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Associated Press)


15 September 2017
United Technologies “Working To Resolve” Delays For Airbus Engines

AirbusA320Neo_wikiReuters reports that United Technologies said Thursday that it is working to resolve the issues that had delayed deliveries of its Pratt & Whitney engines to Airbus. Reuters suggests that the delays may be related to a combustion chamber and engine seal inside the Geared Turbofan (GTF) engine. The engine supply shortage delayed deliveries of “the newest member of Airbus’s narrowbody jet family, which generates most of its profits.” United Technologies Chief Financial Officer Akhil Johri said, “It is painful to see so many aircraft on ground.” (Image Credit: Don-vip via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)


13 September 2017
Kennedy Space Center Closed, But Only “Minor” Damage Reported

VAB-KSC-AP-PurchasedThe AP reports that NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) remained closed Tuesday, but that the facility and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station escaped major damage from Hurricane Irma. Power “was restored to NASA and Air Force facilities” Tuesday, but water service was still unavailable. KSC officials said that the center would be closed to non-essential personnel until water service is restored. KSC spokeswoman Rebecca Shireman said that the visitor complex and shuttle program artifacts suffered no major damage. (Image: Vehicle Assembly Building at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)


13 September 2017
Cassini Spacecraft On Final Course For Saturn

Cassini-NASATIME reports that the Cassini spacecraft is “locked on a final approach” to Saturn. The AP reports that as the “only spacecraft ever to orbit Saturn, Cassini spent the past five months exploring the uncharted territory between the gaseous planet and its dazzling rings. It’s darted 22 times between that gap, sending back ever more wondrous photos.” Cassini will end its 20-year voyage on Friday when it will be vaporized by Saturn’s atmosphere, but not before “sampling Saturn’s atmosphere and beaming back data” to Earth. NASA Program Scientist Curt Neibur said, “The mission has been insanely, wildly, beautifully successful, and it’s coming to an end. I find great comfort in the fact that Cassini will continue teaching us up to the very last second.” NASA made the decision to crash Cassini into Saturn to avoid a potential collision of the spacecraft with Saturn’s moon Enceladus, as “NASA wants future robotic explorers to find pristine worlds where life might possibly exist, free of Earthly contamination.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (TIME)
More Info (Associated Press)


12 September 2017
Huerta Comments On UAVs’ Role In Hurricane Relief Efforts

Hurricane-Irma-Damage-AerialFootage-AP-PurchasedFederal Computer Week reports that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said during the InterDrone Conference in Las Vegas that he doesn’t “think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hurricane response will be looked back upon as a landmark in the evolution of drone usage in this country.” Huerta said that after Hurricane Harvey left the Texas Gulf Coast, the agency issued more than 70 authorizations covering a wide range of recovery activities by local, state, and federal agencies that used UAVs to assess the damage at buildings, bridges and roadways. Huerta added that cell tower companies also used UAVs to examine towers and ground equipment, while insurance companies used the devices to inspect neighborhoods. (Image: Damaged houses are shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in the Florida Keys. Credit: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Associated Press–©)
More Info (Federal Computer Week)


12 September 2017
Kennedy Space Center To Assess Damage From Hurricane Irma

VAB-KSC-AP-PurchasedFlorida Today reports that Kennedy Space Center (KSC) will begin assessing damage from Hurricane Irma on Tuesday as nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick AFB conduct similar inspections. 45th Space Wing Command Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith said, “We dodged another bullet this year when the storm headed west instead of east,” but added that despite the storm being lighter than expected at the location, the potential for damage remained, and safety was a top priority. Preliminary inspections found no issues at “major KSC facilities like the Vehicle Assembly Building, Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building or pads 39A and 39B, or at active Cape-side launch pads, hangars and control centers,” but more thorough reviews will be conducted Tuesday by approximately 250 NASA Damage Assessment and Recovery Team personnel. (Image: Vehicle Assembly Building at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Florida Today)


11 September 2017
Oregon Team’s Hybrid Engine May Be “Significant Development” In UAV Tech

DroneTest-NASAThe Miami Herald reported that a team led by Oregon State University-Cascades Engineering Professor Dr. Chris Hagen has developed a prototype hybrid UAV engine viable for “smalls,” or UAVs weighting less than 55 pounds, “in what could be a significant development in drone technology.” Oregon State University Research Compliance Coordinator Mark Peters said that the project “brings a concept proven in hybrid vehicles and larger aircraft and miniaturizes it,” opening the door to “extending and enhancing the usability of small rotorcraft in research, search and rescue and all those different applications that are restrained by a battery pack.” The team used a 2.75 horsepower “one-cylinder, two-stroke” 3W28i engine “commonly used in radio-controlled aircraft” as the base for their system, which they harnessed to a generator and batteries. The team said that their UAV is the first of its type with a documented flight time of over an hour, and has attracted attention from possible users. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Miami Herald)


11 September 2017
Washington Post Reflects On Cassini’s Last Mission, Legacy

Cassini-NASASPACE reports that crew aboard the ISS have shared pictures of Hurricane Irma taken from the space station on social media. Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy wrote in a caption for his photograph that the storm was “clearly visible from the ISS.” Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli posted a collage of pictures of the hurricane and wrote, “One image wasn’t enough for what may be the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever, stay safe down there.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


8 September 2017
ISS Crew Documents “Powerful” Hurricane Irma

HurricaneIrmaFromSpace-NASASPACE reports that crew aboard the ISS have shared pictures of Hurricane Irma taken from the space station on social media. Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy wrote in a caption for his photograph that the storm was “clearly visible from the ISS.” Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli posted a collage of pictures of the hurricane and wrote, “One image wasn’t enough for what may be the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever, stay safe down there.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


8 September 2017
House To Vote On Bill That Would Privatize 65 Percent Of FAA Workforce

ATC-at-DullesThe Washington Post reports that the House of Representatives will vote next week on a bill that proposes privatization of 65 percent of the FAA workforce. Approximately 30,000 positions would be “shifted into a private, nonprofit corporation” under the plan, which was submitted in response to Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Inspector General reports critical of the FAA’s NextGen modernization program. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) of the Transportation Committee fears that “airlines would come to dominate the private corporation’s board, revoke the 7.5 percent ticket tax they despise and replace it with a more regressive per-passenger tax.” A GAO report, however, states that privatization “could provide greater financial stability for the program,” although the transition could create “uncertainty” in workers over “future workforce or organizational changes.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (Washington Post)


7 September 2017
“Stunning” NASA Images Reveal Aurora Formation On Jupiter

Juno_NASAThe Daily Mail reports that “stunning” images taken by NASA’s Juno probe have given scientists clues about how auroras form on Jupiter, as the probe for the first time “spotted electrons being fired down into Jupiter’s atmosphere at up to 400,000 volts.” The data collected indicate that Jupiter’s auroras, which are much more powerful than those seen on Earth, are not created by a discrete auroral process. (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)


7 September 2017
Canadian Aerospace Firms Ask Trudeau To Allow Purchase Of Super Hornet Fighters

FA18SuperHornet_WikiUSA Today reports that the experimental Airbus Perlan Mission 2 glider “soared above 52,000 feet, a record height for an aircraft without an engine,” according to project officials. The glider uses conditions resulting from a Polar Vortex low-pressure area to achieve its altitude, and such conditions are possible only “over the Andes and just a few other places near either pole” for a few days per year. Perlan Project CEO Ed Warnock said that the team celebrated “an amazing victory for aerospace innovation and scientific discovery.” The project, backed by Airbus, United Technologies, BRS Aerospace, and Weather Extreme, aims to examine a “rarely studied portion of the atmosphere where winds, temperature, humidity and ozone could improve models for predicting weather.” The team hopes to reach heights of 90,000 feet eventually, “which would be a record for any aircraft.” (Image: Perlan II Mission glider. Credit: Airbus)
More Info (USA Today)


6 September 2017
Experimental Airbus Glider Sets Altitude Record Above Argentina

PerlanIIMissionglider-AirbusUSA Today reports that the experimental Airbus Perlan Mission 2 glider “soared above 52,000 feet, a record height for an aircraft without an engine,” according to project officials. The glider uses conditions resulting from a Polar Vortex low-pressure area to achieve its altitude, and such conditions are possible only “over the Andes and just a few other places near either pole” for a few days per year. Perlan Project CEO Ed Warnock said that the team celebrated “an amazing victory for aerospace innovation and scientific discovery.” The project, backed by Airbus, United Technologies, BRS Aerospace, and Weather Extreme, aims to examine a “rarely studied portion of the atmosphere where winds, temperature, humidity and ozone could improve models for predicting weather.” The team hopes to reach heights of 90,000 feet eventually, “which would be a record for any aircraft.” (Image: Perlan II Mission glider. Credit: Airbus)
More Info (USA Today)


5 September 2017
Weather “Increasingly Unfavorable” For Falcon 9, X-37B Launch

SpaceXFalcon9-on-Launchpad-NASAFlorida Today reports that the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron said that a planned launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle faces a 50 percent chance of being delayed due to weather conditions as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida. However, the forecasters said that thick cumulus cloud cover is their primary concern, as Irma is still expected to be approximately 950 miles southeast of Florida. If the launch is delayed until Friday, forecasters said, launch probabilities will drop to 40 percent. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Florida Today)


5 September 2017
NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Lands In Kazakhstan, Ending Record-Setting Flight

PeggyWhitsonLands_NASAThe AP reported that NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has landed “in Kazakhstan with two others after a record-setting space flight.” CBS News reported that Whitson, “America’s most experienced astronaut with nearly two years of time in orbit across three missions,” spent 288 days at the ISS before landing on Saturday with Flight Engineer Jack Fischer and Soyuz MS-04 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin. Due to delays related to Hurricane Harvey, Whitson and Fischer were flown to Cologne by the European Space Agency, where a NASA Gulfstream jet was expected to bring the astronauts “along with scientific samples brought down from the station” to Johnson Space Center Sunday night. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (CBS News)


5 September 2017
Boeing 747 SuperTanker Fights California Wildfire, First Such Use In US

Boeing747SuperTanker-APThe AP reported that a Global SuperTanker Service Boeing 747 has been “activated to fight a California wildfire, marking its first use in the United States.” The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection “exercised a call-when-needed contract Wednesday to fight a fire in Butte County about 10 miles east of Lake Oroville.” The 747, which can carry 19,000 gallons of water, made two drops of fire retardant on the wildfire. (Image: A Boeing 747 supertanker releases water during a demonstration in Sacramento, CA, 11 June 2009. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)


1 September 2017
FAA Approves UAVs To Assist Harvey Recovery Efforts

Engineer-Flies-Phantom3-APUSA Today reports that the FAA authorized 43 UAV operators Thursday to assist and report on the ongoing Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Houston. Railroad, oil and energy companies were among those issued approvals. The companies join federal, state, and local officials already authorized by the FAA to use UAVs to inspect infrastructure, survey damage, and search for stranded citizens. However, the FAA maintains its ban on private UAV operators operating in the disaster area in an effort to keep UAVs from coming into contact with rescue aircraft. Mark Drombroff, a partner at Denton’s aviation-law practice, said that the FAA is “targeting the responsible members of the various communities who are responding to this type of catastrophe, whether it’s the first responders, the insurance industry or the news media. This is an object lesson in the utility, the usefulness, the effectiveness of drones.” (Image: An engineer flies a DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)


1 September 2017
Scientists Use Hubble To Discover Signs Of Water On Trappist-1 Planets

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASACNET News reports that scientists have discovered indications of substantial amounts of water on three planets in the “Goldilocks” habitable zone around the Trappist-1 star, according to research published Thursday in the Astronomical Journal. Scientists used photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope to estimate how heat and ultraviolet radiation from the “ultracool star” may have affected the planets’ atmospheres. The team’s scientists theorize that the planets may have formed further away from their current orbits, allowing them to collect and store ice crystals. Study co-author and MIT Postdoctoral Researcher Julien de Wit said that the planets may “have been able to hold onto some water, if they accumulated enough during their formation. But we need to gather more information and actually see a hint of water, which we haven’t found yet.” The researchers plan to use Hubble to look for hydrogen clouds, which would further strengthen the case for bodies of water on the three planets. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CNET News)


31 August 2017
SpaceX Granted Approval For Additional Landing Pads At Cape Canaveral

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASAThe Orlando Business Journal reports that SpaceX has been granted additional “space for its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon Heavy rocket” to land at Cape Canaveral. The company plans to build two additional landing pads, which would allow SpaceX to land two rocket boosters “simultaneously” in addition to a third booster “on a drone ship in the sea.” SpaceX hopes to complete the new landing pads before November, when its new Falcon Heavy rocket debuts. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Business Journal)


31 August 2017
Dream Chaser Spacecraft Completes Captive-Carry Test

DreamChaser_NASAThe AP reports that Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser prototype spacecraft successfully completed a captive-carry test as it was ferried by helicopter over the Mojave Desert Wednesday. The Dream Chaser is being developed to carry cargo to the International Space Station, but with the addition of life support equipment it will be able to ferry a crew of seven. Sierra Nevada Director of Flight Operations Lee Archambault said, “Everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing.” A second captive-carry test is scheduled for later this year, and if successful, a free-flight test will follow. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)


30 August 2017
UAVs Used In “Beyond-Line-Of-Sight” Operation Demonstration

Power-Lines-Drone-APPurchasedAviation Today reports that Rockwell Collins and Black & Veatch together demonstrated the capabilities of a UAV during a “beyond-line-of-sight unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operation” along 10 miles of powerlines owned by Ameren Corp. “Monitoring critical infrastructure, particularly those in rural areas beyond line of sight, can be done much more efficiently and effectively through the use of UAS technology,” said Rockwell Collins Vice President of Strategic Programs, Information Management Services Ken Schreder. (Image: Personnel from Boulder, CO-based bizUAS Corp. demonstrate the use of a Cyberhawk octocopter drone for power line inspections at a New York Power Authority hydroelectric generating site in the Catskills, near Blenheim, N.Y. Oct. 21, 2015. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Aviation Today)


30 August 2017
Cassini Probe Finds Less Dust, More Interaction Than Expected Between Saturn’s Rings, Atmosphere

Cassini-NASASPACE reports that NASA Project Manager for the Cassini mission at Saturn Earl Maize said during a news conference Tuesday that the planet “continues to surprise us.” Maize said that the Cassini probe has found that Saturn’s rings have less dust than anticipated, causing less damage to the probe than the team had expected. Maize said that if there had been more fuel, he would have been happy to have the probe continue to explore the rings, but the spacecraft will be forced to start its final set of maneuvers on September 15. Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker said that the probe’s in-situ samples of the Saturnian atmosphere, the first taken from within the atmosphere itself, have shown that the relationship between the planet’s rings and atmosphere is “more complex” than expected. (Image: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


29 August 2017
Amazon UAV Patent Creates Privacy Concerns

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_1CreditAmazonForbes, stating, “While retailers, carriers and regulators are still trying to figure out the details of safe drone delivery, Amazon.com is already thinking about what data the drones can collect while dropping off packages.” The company, according to Inc. Magazine, has patented technology that would enable it to collect data as it passes over houses, but Stern said that it isn’t “clear where the lines should be drawn in terms of privacy.” However, project44 founder and CEO Jett McCandless said, “Moral considerations aside, there’s massive potential in this for Amazon. ... Amazon can leverage information about your vehicles, the exterior of your home and any property visible from the outside, and use that to market related products to people. ... There’s no telling what other ideas they’ll come up with as they bring in rounds of data and begin analyzing it.” According to Stern, some RetailWire BrainTrust members view the patent “as being mostly hype.” (Image Credit: Amazon)
More Info (Forbes)


29 August 2017
NASA Considering 2020s Mission To Obtain Samples From Mars

MarsMission_JPLNASASpaceflight Now reports that NASA is “examining options to launch a robotic mission as soon as 2026 to pick up rock specimens from the surface of Mars and bring them back to Earth, moving forward the timeline for a sample return mission as the agency postpones plans for a new Mars reconnaissance and data relay orbiter.” NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said Monday that the mission’s several billion dollar cost to the US may be reduced with international or commercial participation. Zurbuchen said that the agency estimates the Mars mission could go forward as soon as 2026, and would go “straight for what I would consider the jugular issue, which is how to land and take off the planet.” Zurbuchen also “said NASA is also looking at purchasing Mars communications relay services from the private sector.” However, Planetary Society Director of Space Policy Casey Dreier said that while he is “generally supportive” of the plan outlined by Zurbuchen, “in a practical sense, the orbital Mars community will be facing tough times ahead with a dearth of missions for at least the next decade, if not more.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


28 August 2017
Hurricane Harvey Forces NASA Flight Controllers, Essential Personnel To Shelter In Place

HurricaneHarveyOverHouston-NASAThe Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Made In Space CEO Andrew Rush hopes to create a “low Earth orbit economy” by deploying sophisticated 3D printers to the ISS to take “transformative steps toward” creating an in-space manufacturing hub. The hub would allow astronauts the ability to quickly fabricate parts on-demand. In-space manufacturing “also could have major implications for the search for life on other planets, said Steve Jurczyk, associate director of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Minneapolis Star Tribune)


28 August 2017
Made In Space Hopes To Create “Low Earth Orbit Economy”

3DPrinter-ISS-CreditNASAThe Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Made In Space CEO Andrew Rush hopes to create a “low Earth orbit economy” by deploying sophisticated 3D printers to the ISS to take “transformative steps toward” creating an in-space manufacturing hub. The hub would allow astronauts the ability to quickly fabricate parts on-demand. In-space manufacturing “also could have major implications for the search for life on other planets, said Steve Jurczyk, associate director of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Minneapolis Star Tribune)


25 August 2017
Orbital ATK To Launch Minotaur IV Rocket Late Friday

Minotaur-Rocket-Launchpad-NASAReuters reports that Orbital ATK is undergoing final preparations to launch a Minotaur IV rocket carrying a US Air Force ORS-5 satellite late this Friday. Launch is scheduled for 11:15 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 46. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


25 August 2017
NASA Flagship Missions “Produce Tremendous Science Returns”

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASAThe Los Angeles Times reports that a new study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that NASA’s marquee projects, such as the planned James Webb Space Telescope mission and the Curiosity Rover, are costly but also bring huge benefits to the agency and the nation as a whole. The report’s authors wrote, “These missions typically are billion-dollar class missions, the most costly, the most complex, but also the most capable of the fleet of scientific spacecraft developed by NASA,” and these large-scale missions “produce tremendous science returns and are a foundation of the global reputation of NASA and the U.S. space program.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)


24 August 2017
US Missile Defense Agency Wants To Destroy Nuclear Missiles With Laser-Armed UAVs

modifiedBoeing747-400F-USAifForceAerospace America reports that nine contractors have submitted proposals in response to a US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) request for information about a possible “high-altitude long-endurance” UAV. The unit is intended to explore the possibility of destroying “a ballistic missile during the boost phase” with a directed-energy beam. The aircraft would be deployed to the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii and Edwards Air Force Base in California around 2023. The MDA specified that the aircraft would need to “carry at least 2,300 kilograms and up to 5,700 kg while flying at 63,000 feet,” and would require “a power source that can supply the payload with at least 140 kilowatts and as much as 280 kilowatts for greater than 30 minutes” at high altitude without vibrating the payload. The MDA is expected to deliver a final report on its Ballistic Missile Defense Review to President Donald Trump by the end of the year. (Image: A modified Boeing 747-400F with a YAL-1A Airborne Laser mounted on its nose takes off for a test flight in 2007. The Defense Department canceled the program in 2011. Credit: U.S. Air Force)
More Info (Aerospace America)


24 August 2017
Northrop Grumman Pitches Global Hawk UAV For Communications Between F-35s, F-22s

GlobalHawk_USAF-wikiDefense News reports that “Northrop Grumman has a pitch to solve communications problems between the F-35 and F-22” by using a Global Hawk UAV equipped with a radio translating between the two fighter jets. Currently, the F-35 and F-22 use different secure data links to communicate, which are not able to interact. Northrop Grumman head of Global Hawk Business Development Mike Lyons said, “We’ve got a solution that we’ve identified and made a pitch to the Air Force. We’re just waiting for the requirements to basically say: ‘Go do [that].’” (Image: RQ-4 Global Hawk. Credit: U.S. Air Force)
More Info (Defense News)


23 August 2017
Half Of All Satellites Expected To Be Fully Electric By 2020

GPS_Sat_NASASpace News reports that industry forecasts predicting that “50 percent of commercial telecommunications satellites will be all-electric by 2020” are on-track to becoming reality. While costs for electric propulsion systems have fallen, “orbit raising times of four to eight months means only operators that can stomach long waits can consider it.” (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Space News)


23 August 2017
“Game Changing” Reaper UAV Teams Being Prepared For Guam Deployment

MQ-9ReaperThe Daily Mail reports that MQ-9 Reaper UAVs “are being prepared to protect Guam from a North Korea attack” in the wake of recent North Korean threats on the island. The Reapers would be deployed in pairs, triangulating missile trajectories and feeding targeting data to nearby warships so that the missiles can be intercepted, a tactic the US military tested in 2016. (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
More Info (Daily Mail)


22 August 2017
US Air Force Awards Boeing, Northrop Grumman Contracts For Minuteman III Replacement

Minuteman-ICBMs-US-Air-ForceReuters reports that the US Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $328 million contract and The Boeing Company a $349 million contract “to continue work on the replacement of the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system.” Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said that the “Minuteman III is 45 years old. It is time to upgrade.” These awards are a small part of the overall development and prototyping for the eventual Minuteman replacement, which the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office anticipates will cost $85 billion. The Air Force estimates a cost of $65 billion for the replacement system. (Image Credit: US Air Force via Wikipedia)
More Info (Reuters)


22 August 2017
NASA Conducts Sonic Boom Testing Near Kennedy Space Center

F18-transonicFlightFlorida Today reports that NASA has begun conducting “a series of flights designed to produce 33 sonic booms just off the coast over the next two to four weeks,” the tests are being carried out by two F/A-18 Hornets owned by NASA. The experiment, Sonic Booms in Atmospheric Turbulence, or SonicBAT, “is studying sonic booms in a variety of climates to gather data and understand ways to reduce their intensities” to “thumps.” Previous test were carried out in dry climates, but the current tests will add data from Florida’s more humid atmosphere. NASA’s experimental Low Boom Flight Demonstration aircraft, or LBFD, which is intended to reach supersonic speeds without the accompanying boom, may have initial flights as soon as 2021. (Image: F/A-18F Super Hornet in transonic flight. Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)
More Info (Florida Today)


21 August 2017
Falcon 9 Rocket Test-Fired Ahead Of Launch

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASASpaceflight Now reported that SpaceX conducted static fire tests for a Falcon 9 rocket “in the final stages of launch preparations” and scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base this Thursday. The rocket is set to carry the Taiwanese Formosat 5 satellite, “designed to test out the country’s domestic aerospace manufacturing capability and collect a range of black-and-white and color imagery of Earth.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


21 August 2017
Millions Converging Across US To See Eclipse

SolarEclipse-NASAThe AP reports that millions of Americans are converging across the US “from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the moon blot out the midday sun Monday for a wondrous couple of minutes in the first total solar eclipse to sweep coast to coast in 99 years.” Among other locations preparing to view the eclipse Monday, the article states that a field in Salem, Oregon, was converted into a campground ahead of an “eclipse-watching party for 8,500.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (Aerospace America)


18 August 2017
Russian Cosmonauts Release 3-D Printed Satellite

RussianCosmonauts-NASA-17Aug2017ABC News reports that Russian “spacewalking cosmonauts set free the world’s first satellite made almost entirely with a 3-D printer” on Thursday. Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy released “five nanosatellites by hand” from the ISS. The satellites were made at Siberia’s Tomsk Polytechnic University, which feature 3-D printed exterior casings and battery packs but are equipped with “regular electronics.” Researchers are testing how the 3-D printed parts will withstand the space environment. (Image: Credit: NASA)
More Info (ABC News)


18 August 2017
US Air Force X-37B Program Launching Robotic Mini-Shuttle On SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiThe Daily Mail reports that the US Air Force, under its X-37B program, will launch “a robotic mini-shuttle from Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket” by September from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. This launch will be the first X-37B program mission to launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, as the four prior missions were launched by ULA Atlas V rockets. Each of the program’s launches have carried a “mystery payload on long-duration flights.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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17 August 2017
Dragon Arrives At ISS

DragonDockedToISS-NASASPACE reports that SpaceX’s Dragon capsule successfully docked at the ISS Wednesday, delivering three tons of supplies, most of which will be used for research. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer used the station’s robotic arm to “grab the Dragon” while the ISS orbited 250 miles above the Earth. The research cargo will allow the astronauts to perform more than 250 experiments in the coming months.
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17 August 2017
Atlas V Rolled Out To Launch Pad Ahead Of Friday Launch

AtlasV-OnLaunchpad-NASAThe Hill reports that the airline industry is preparing for a “huge surge in travel over Labor Day” due to lower fuel prices, an improving economy and decreasing airfares. The Airlines for America (A4A) trade group estimates that “16.1 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines during the seven-day travel period” around the holiday, representing a five percent increase “or an additional 110,000 passengers per day” from the 15.4 million passengers who flew during the same period last year. A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich said, “While we expect a growth in passenger traffic over the Labor Day holiday, flyers can rest assured that U.S. airlines have appropriately increased the number of seats available for their late summer getaways.” (Image Credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
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17 August 2017
US Airlines Expect “Huge Surge” In Travel Over Labor Day Weekend

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsThe Hill reports that the airline industry is preparing for a “huge surge in travel over Labor Day” due to lower fuel prices, an improving economy and decreasing airfares. The Airlines for America (A4A) trade group estimates that “16.1 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines during the seven-day travel period” around the holiday, representing a five percent increase “or an additional 110,000 passengers per day” from the 15.4 million passengers who flew during the same period last year. A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich said, “While we expect a growth in passenger traffic over the Labor Day holiday, flyers can rest assured that U.S. airlines have appropriately increased the number of seats available for their late summer getaways.” (Image Credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
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16 August 2017
Boeing Production Rates Soaring

Boeing737MaxCNBC hosts a video on Boeing’s production rate increases and the company’s backlog. In the video, CNBC Business News’ Phil Lebeau toured the Renton, WA, facility producing Boeing 737s. Lebeau suggests that it is critical that production “rate increases” are performed efficiently. Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ Keith Levekuhn also is interviewed in the video. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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16 August 2017
Weather Favorable For Friday’s Scheduled NASA Satellite Launch Aboard ULA Atlas V

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASAFlorida Today reports that Friday’s weather forecast is “mostly favorable” for NASA’s launch of its newest communications satellite, called the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M), aboard a ULA Atlas V Rocket. The US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron “said conditions were 70 percent ‘go’ for the 8:03 a.m. launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.” Should the launch be delayed, similar weather is expected Saturday. The Atlas V has not been used for a “Space Coast launch” since April. (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 August 2017
Russia Reveals ‘Invisible’ Supersonic Fighters

Sukhoi-PAK-FA-WikipediaThe Daily Mail reports that Russia unveiled a new “invisible” supersonic fighter fleet, which will be difficult to track on enemy radars. The Sukhoi-57 can reach speeds of 1,615 miles per hour and “is said to rival America’s F-22 and China’s Chengdu J-20.” Sukhoi-57 was referred to as “PAK FA” and “T-50” while in development. The Sukhoi-57 “will undergo another year of testing before it enters military service in 2019.” (Image: Sukhoi T-50. Credit: Alex Beltyukov via Wikipedia)
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15 August 2017
NASA’s Cassini Enters Last Phase In Saturn Mission

Cassini-NASACNN reports that NASA’s Cassini probe, which launched in 1997 and reached Saturn in 2004, is entering its final phase and is “executing the first in a series of five ‘ultra-close’ dives through” Saturn’s atmosphere. Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said in a statement, “As it makes these five dips into Saturn, followed by its final plunge, Cassini will become the first Saturn atmospheric probe.” Cassini’s “instruments are expected to collect rich scientific data as it makes the dives.” Once the final phase is complete, Cassini “will plunge towards Saturn” until the “thrusters fail against Saturn’s atmosphere” causing the spacecraft to “burn up.” (Image: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA)
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14 August 2017
US Marines To Hold Flights For 24 Hours

V-22_Osprey_WikiReuters reported that the US Marine Corps ordered its aircraft squadrons to hold flights for 24 hours in the upcoming two weeks to “review procedures” following two recent aircraft crashes. The crashes involved a Marine MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, built by The Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter, and a KC-130 Hercules transport plane, which is built by Lockheed Martin Corp. (Image: A V-22 Osprey flies a test mission. Credit: James Haseltine, U.S. Air Force, via Wikimedia Commons)
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14 August 2017
Northrop Grumman Using X-47B As Testbed For MQ-25A Bid

X-47B-USNavyAviation Week revealed photographs it obtained showing a modified X-47B at the USAF Plant 42 facility in Palmdale, CA. The UAV is being used as a “flying testbed for air refueling systems” in support of Northrop Grumman’s bid for the “U.S. Navy’s upcoming MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial refueling tanker contest.” (Image Credit: US Navy)
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11 August 2017
SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch To Monday

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSpace News reports that NASA has announced that a scheduled Dragon cargo spacecraft launch to the ISS on a Falcon 9 has been delayed by one day. The Dragon cargo spacecraft will launch atop the Falcon 9 on Monday rather than Sunday, allowing the Dragon spacecraft to arrive at the ISS on Wednesday. No reasons were disclosed for the launch delay. (Image Credit: NASA)
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10 August 2017
Investors Placing Billions Into Commercial Space Startups

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginCNBC reports that with the success of SpaceX and Blue Origin, investments in space startups continue to increase. Much of the investment is targeting the “terabytes of data streaming to Earth daily from a new generation of smaller, less-expensive satellites.” Roughly 25 “venture deals” have been concluded in 2017, including a $351 million investment into SpaceX. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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10 August 2017
Smallsat Market Expected To Exceed $30 Billion In Next Decade

SmallSats-NASASpace News reports that Euroconsult forecasts the smallsat market to expand in capability and demand over the next 10 years. Euroconsult released a report describing that “more than 6,200 smallsats are to be launched in the next 10 years, with the market value expected to reach up to $30.1 billion” compared to $8.9 billion during the previous 10 years. “SpaceX’s megaconstellations which technically are also small satellites” were included in Euroconsult’s estimates. German Orbital Systems CEO Walter Ballheimer said the estimates are “possible because of the transition from building and operating unique large satellites to serial mass production of unified spacecraft.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 August 2017
Pentagon Expected To Provide Congress With F-35 Upgrade Plan In August

F35_WikipediaDefense Daily reports that the Government Accountability Office said that the Pentagon will send Congress its F-35 Block 4 modernization upgrade plan before the end of August. The plan was originally due in March, but required a cost, schedule, and capability reassessment following changes to the budget environment and the program’s leadership. The upgrades are expected to cover hardware and software changes and cost over $3.9 billion. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
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9 August 2017
NASA Seeks Input From Smallsat Builders On Space Launch System Flight

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASASpace News reports that NASA is seeking input from satellite developers on small spacecraft that will be used in the future. NASA is preparing to launch CubeSats on the first Space Launch System (SLS) flight. The first flight in 2019 will “gather data on the sun, moon, asteroids and Earth” with its 13 cubesats. (Image Credit: NASA)
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8 August 2017
Former AIAA Design-Build-Fly Competitor To Suit Up For Pittsburgh Steelers

JoshuaDobbs-DBF2017The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs will soon play in a pre-season NFL football game, his “first competition” since “a design project for a contest arranged by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.” Dobbs’ former professor, Matthew Mench, said that Dobbs “would have been a five-star recruit for aero. He had an enthusiasm for aerospace engineering just rolling out of him.”(Image Credit: Amazon)
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8 August 2017
Amazon Patents UAV Stations For Rail, Air, And Sea Travel

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_1CreditAmazonBusiness Insider reported that as Amazon invests heavily in UAV technology, “public patent filings can offer us tantalising glimpses of what Amazon’s engineers are thinking about and experimenting as they develop the tech.” For example, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a patent filing last week which could help solve the issue of how to keep UAVs “charged and in the air for as long as possible.” According to BI, the answer could be “An ambitious fleet of mobile maintenance facilities based on trains, in vehicles, and on boats.” (Image Credit: Amazon)
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7 August 2017
US Applies Advanced Stealth Technology On B-21 Bombers

F-35-Paris-Air-Show-June2017Aerospace America reported that that as China and Russia are raising stealth technology defenses, the US is developing advanced techniques and technologies in the B-21 bomber. The bomber is equipped with an “improved radar-absorbing skin coating,” which has been used on F-22s. Retired US Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Barrett said that he expects the B-21’s coating to be at least as durable as a coating used on the F-35s. The Air Force rendering of the B-21, included on the Aerospace America webpage, shows a flat design with no tail fin, making it more difficult to spot on radar. The rendering does not show the plane’s engine or exhausts, which are vital to its “infrared signature.” The bomber’s design is classified. (An F-35 flies over the Paris Air Show in June. Credit: Tom Risen, Aerospace America)
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7 August 2017
US Army Banning DJI UAVs Over Cyber Vulnerabilities

DJI_Phantom4_APUSA Today reported that DJI of China said Friday that the company is “surprised and disappointed” by the US Army’s decision to stop using its UAVs based on perceived cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The Army issued a memorandum Wednesday describing that a classified report was issued in May on the DJI UAVs. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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3 August 2017
Boeing And JAXA To Test Safety Technology

Boeing-ecoDemonstrator757Reuters reports that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Association (JAXA) and Boeing are set to “flight-test technology” aimed at improving safety. The testing scheduled for next year will include flight-tests for “long-range light detection and ranging technology.” (Image: Boeing ecoDemonstrator 757. Credit: NASA)
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2 August 2017
Agricultural UAV Market Analysis Highlights Benefits Of Precision Agriculture

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_APBusiness Insider offers an analysis of agricultural UAVs, saying the related “technology has been improving in the last few years,” as “the benefits of drones in agriculture are becoming more apparent to farmers” with “drone applications in agriculture rang[ing] from mapping and surveying to cropdusting and spraying.” The article highlights the benefits of Precision Agriculture, and previews a Business Insider Intelligence report forecasting that “spending on the overall drone market” will “surpass $12 billion by 2021.” The article describes its picks for the best agricultural UAVs, including the senseFly eBee SQ, PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5, Honeycomb AgDrone, and DJI Matrice 100. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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2 August 2017
US Navy Hopes To Work With US Army On Small Satellites Communications

NanoSat-NASASpace News reports that the US Navy “is interested in cooperating with the US Army on using small satellites for tactical communications.” A senior defense official said that a potential conflict with an “adversary like China” will require the Navy and Army to communicate and cooperate on low-bandwidths. (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 August 2017
NASA Set To Perform Additional Battery Testing For X-57 Maxwell

NASA-X-57-Credit-NASAAerospace America reports that NASA is expecting to test its X-57 Maxwell’s “redesigned lithium ion battery modules” in September. The testing is one obstacle prior to a readiness review in order to start flights in early 2018. Empirical Systems Aerospace was the prime contractor while the subcontractor was Electric Power Systems. Electric Power Systems collaborated with battery experts from the NASA Glenn Research Center and NASA Johnson Space Center on the battery module redesign. Tests will be performed in Logan, Utah, at an Electric Power Systems laboratory. (Image: Technicians at Scaled Composites in Mojave, California, install a wing designed for electric motors onto a Tecnam P2006T to form NASA’s X-57 Maxwell battery-powered plane. Credit: NASA)
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1 August 2017
FAA Investigating Near Miss Between UAV, Jetliner At Newark Liberty International Airport

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APBusiness Insider reports that the FAA is investigating an incident in which a UAV “got dangerously close to a United Airlines jet that was attempting to land at Newark Liberty International Airport.” The AP reports that the United Airlines flight “was arriving from Switzerland on Sunday when the crew of the Boeing 767 reported a near miss with the drone at 850 feet.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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31 July 2017
ATC Privatization Plan “Struggling To Get Off The Ground”

ATC-at-DullesThe Hill reports that the House’s air traffic control (ATC) privatization plan, backed by President Donald Trump, is “struggling to get off the ground” since House lawmakers left for summer recess without voting on the FAA reauthorization proposal. Following its return from recess, the House will have less than a month to negotiate a final bill with the Senate. (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower)
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28 July 2017
NASA To Study Sonic Booms At Kennedy Space Center

F18-transonicFlightThe AP reports that a NASA-operated F/A-18 Hornet will, starting Aug. 21, take off from the edge of Kennedy Space Center and “vault to an altitude of 32,000 feet just off the coast of Cape Canaveral before racing to Mach 1, the speed of sound, to produce sonic booms” for aeronautical research, according to the agency. The experiment, known as Sonic Booms in Atmospheric Turbulence (SonicBAT), “will collect data for researchers to understand and develop future quiet supersonic aircraft, ‘which will produce a soft thump in place of the louder sonic boom,’ NASA said.” (Image: F/A-18F Super Hornet in transonic flight. Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)
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28 July 2017
ULA To Launch Dream Chaser Space Plane On Atlas V Rockets

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFSPACE reports that Dream Chaser’s manufacturer, Sierra Nevada Corp., signed an agreement with United Launch Alliance to “use Atlas V rockets for the robotic space plane’s first two resupply flights to the International Space Station (ISS), representatives of the two companies announced last week.” The missions are expected to lift off in 2020 and 2021. According to Space, “Sierra Nevada is working on both crewed and uncrewed variants of the space plane.” Last year, NASA chose the unmanned Dream Chaser to transport cargo to and from the ISS, under a Commercial Resupply 2 contract. (Image Credit: USAF)
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27 July 2017
McKinley Climate Lab Tests Jets For Operating In Inclement Conditions

McKinleyClimaticLaboratory-WikipediaPopular Science reports on McKinley Climate Lab at Eglin Air Force Base, the “largest indoor-weather testing facility in the world.” The facility serves as a “proving ground for all sorts of consumer goods,” and it is the “last stop for most commercial jets seeking FAA certification.” The lab has also “tested just about every warplane in the U.S. arsenal, including Northrop Grumman’s B-29 bomber, Lockheed Martin’s C5 Galaxy transport (which barely cleared the ceiling), and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.” This year, the lab expects to test the Bombardier Global 7000. (Image: F-117 at McKinley Climatic Laboratory. Credit: Wikipedia)
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27 July 2017
Airbus A350 Targets On Track, But Doubts Surround A320neo Plans

AirbusA320Neo_wikiReuters reports that Airbus Chief Operating Officer and President of Commercial Aircraft Fabrice Bregier said the company still expects to meet a target of 10 A350 deliveries a month by the end of 2018, but doubts linger over the company’s A320neo plans. Airbus is “juggling complex industrial and demand factors as it increases production of the A350 and the smaller A320neo family to regenerate its portfolio.” Some A320neo jets have faced setbacks “due to problems with engines developed by Pratt & Whitney.” (Image Credit: Don-vip via Wikimedia Commons)
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26 July 2017
NASA Will Begin Tests Of Supersonic Flight At Kennedy Space Center

NASA-X-PlaneThe Daily Mail reports that in August, NASA will begin test flights “to investigate how low-altitude turbulence affects” sonic booms, creating over 30 sonic booms to be heard by Floridians. The purpose of these flights is to reduce the loudness of the sonic boom to a low thump that some people may not even notice. NASA is ready to accept “proposals to build a radical low noise supersonic passenger plane.” The QueSST design, created by Lockheed Martin to fly at Mach 1.4 and reduce the noise created in the sonic boom, may meet NASA’s requirements. As of now, the FAA bans all supersonic flights over land due to the noise created. (Image: artist’s concept of a possible QueSST x-plane design. Credit: Lockheed Martin via NASA)
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26 July 2017
Airfares In First Quarter Fell To Lowest Level In 22 Years

MD-80_AmericanAirlines_WikimediaCommonsThe Los Angeles Times reports that statistics released by the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics revealed that the average airfare decline five percent in the first quarter of 2017 to $352, the lowest inflation-adjusted figure since the agency began tracking airfares in 1995. The Times reports that industry analysts attribute the low prices to low fuel costs, higher passenger volumes, and pressure from low-cost carriers. However, the piece points out the figures do not include ancillary fees, which have increased as a percentage of revenue collected by airlines. (Image Credit: Bill Abbott, Wikimedia Commons)
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25 July 2017
UAV Racing Growing Rapidly In Popularity

DroneRacerThe San Francisco Chronicle reports that while racing their UAVs in officially sanctioned events, pilots wear goggles that allow them to view video from a camera mounted on the UAV. The Chronicle notes that “racers become addicted because the first-person point of view gives them the illusion of flying, triggering a ‘cascade’ of natural body chemicals like adrenaline and dopamine,” according to Aerial Sports League CEO Marque Cornblatt. TV producers are eager for the new sports broadcasting opportunity. Pilots want to see their racing become like any other sport. UAVs for racing are relatively cheap to make and modify. (Image Credit: HeliPal via YouTube)
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25 July 2017
NASA Partnering With Lockheed Martin To Build Deep Space Habitat Prototype

BEAM_Inflated_NASASPACE reports that a cargo container made by Lockheed will be repurposed for deep space habitats. “Lockheed Martin announced it will refurbish the Donatello multi-purpose logistics module (MLPM), transforming...it from its original, unrealized role as a supply conveyor for the International Space Station to a test and training model of a living area for astronauts working beyond Earth orbit.” During the next two years, “Lockheed Martin will build upon its deep space habitat concept it developed during the first phase of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, program by using virtual and augmented reality prototyping in an effort to reduce costs and schedule, as well as identify and address issues while early in the design process.” The module could also be used as a deep space exploration gateway. (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 July 2017
US, Allies Meet In Germany To Map Out F-35 Joint Operations Plans

F35_WikipediaReuters reported that the US and seven allies “held their first meeting to map out plans for joint operations of the new Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth jet fighter in Europe in coming years.” Officials gathered in Germany for the two-day conference and represented Denmark, Israel, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, and Britain, “all of which are buying the F-35, according to USAF and Pentagon officials.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
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24 July 2017
UAV Users Reportedly Concerned Over Uncertain Government Regulations

DroneTest-NASAThe AP reported that experts in the UAV industry say that the federal government has been slow to craft regulations regarding UAVs, leading to various states and municipalities creating their own UAV laws. This situation has resulted in a haphazard patchwork of different local laws pertaining to the UAV industry. The FAA is the only government agency regulating all US airspace; therefore, many local UAV regulations could be overturned in court. The FAA’s only universal regulation is that UAVs can’t be flown within five miles of an airport. Regarding this regulation, businesses are able to obtain waivers, and hobbyists are required to notify the airport. Hobbyists sometimes must notify the air traffic controller of the airport as well. (Image Credit: NASA)
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21 July 2017
Google Street View Goes Inside The ISS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAUSA Today reports that Google’s Street View now can give viewers a 360 degree view of the inside of the ISS. Deanna Yick, global program manager for Google’s Street View, said, “We will never know what it’s like to live and work in space, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring a taste of that to all the people who have ever dreamed of being an astronaut.” (Image: International Space Station. Credit: NASA)
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21 July 2017
SkySafe CEO Discusses Work To Craft Regulations Limiting Unlawful UAV Use

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedCNBC provides video coverage online of an interview with SkySafe CEO Grant Jordan, who said that the company is working with the federal government to try to find workable regulations that limit the use of UAVs for unlawful purposes, such as surveilling prisons. However, neither SkySafe nor the government wants to ban the use of UAVs entirely, Jordan said. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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19 July 2017
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Moving Forward With Mars And Europa Missions

Mars2020-NASAJPLSpace News reports that despite ongoing debate on Capitol Hill over funding some of NASA’s missions, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Michael Watkins plans to push forward. Watkins’ July 13 presentation at a Space Transportation Association luncheon stated that the work is going well on both the Mars 2020 and Europa Clipper missions. NASA has not yet approved missions beyond Mars 2020, and the Europa Mission has no allocated funding in 2018 for work on a lander. (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 July 2017
NanoRacks Passes Air Lock Test At Johnson Space Center

NanoRacks-Airlock-CreditNASAThe Houston Chronicle reports that NanoRacks announced Tuesday that testing on the company’s air lock, built for the International Space Station (ISS), was successful. The air lock passed an astronaut training exercise in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a 6.2 million gallon pool. The company confirmed that “spacewalking” astronauts were able to use handrails to move the air lock structure and mount external payloads in the full-scale mock up. (Image Credit: NASA)
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18 July 2017
US Allies Now Buying UAVs From China

MQ-9ReaperA front-page story in the Wall Street Journal cites increasing evidence that several countries, including US allies, have deployed Chinese-made military UAVs in conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. The Journal reports that the US has refused to sell drones to most countries, leading China to fill the demand. (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
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18 July 2017
Gulfstream Seeking To Convince US Air Force That Smaller Jets Can Serve Military

GulfstreamG550-WikiDefense News reports that Gulfstream’s G550 entry into the JSTARS and Compass Call competitions is part of a “larger battle to win over” the US Air Force to the idea that smaller aircraft can fulfill military requirements. Gulfstream Regional Vice President of Military Sales and Marketing Troy Miller said that while there are “a lot of discussions” going on regarding potential programs, it is still a “fundamental question” whether the next platforms will be based on “a true business jet” or “another airliner.” (Image Credit: Edwin Leong via Wikipedia)
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17 July 2017
Lockheed Martin Set To Hire At Least 1,800 For F-35 Production

F35_WikipediaThe Dallas Morning News reported that a Lockheed Martin spokesman said that the company will be ramping up its hiring over the next two years. The company needs to hire roughly 1,800 people at its Forth Worth location to increase production of the F-35 aircraft. Lockheed has implemented a pool system for hiring, which will have the qualified candidates undergo required screening processes, after which they will be notified when the position is set to start. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
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17 July 2017
Russian Soyuz Rocket Launches 73 Satellites

SoyuzLaunch_CreditNASAviaWikiSPACE reports that on July 14, a Russian Soyuz-2.1a rocket successfully launched 73 satellites for four companies. The rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, and roughly an hour later deployed its primary satellite, the Kanopus-V-IK remote sensing satellite. Thereafter, 72 smallsats were launched over the next seven hours. Glavkosmos Launch Program Director Vsevolod Kryukovskiy said, “We had a great launch and all the satellites separated as planned.” (Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via Wikimedia Commons)
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17 July 2017
Experts: Space Manufacturing, Assembling, Other Operations Are Next Big Challenge

3DPrinter-ISS-CreditNASASpace News reports that experts said Thursday that manufacturing, assembling, servicing satellites, or removing debris while in orbit represent the next major challenge for the space industry. Bhavya Lal, with the Institute for Defense Analyses at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, said that focusing on these problems can help the US keep its lead on space technology. NASA is attempting to launch its “Restore-L mission in 2020” that would demonstrate a robotic spacecraft with “on-orbit servicing.” Also, Orbital ATK is developing a competitive commercial option with Intelsat as its client, which will compete against Space Infrastructure Services, LLC. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 July 2017
Realism and Ambition in Civil Space

BillGerstenmaier-PE2017A growing space industry is opening new opportunities for business and exploration, but NASA will play a key role by clearing a path for companies to follow, Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, said July 12 during a speech at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. “NASA doesn’t need to be developing all the systems, building all the hardware, doing everything,” Gerstenmaier said. “I look at NASA kind of as an orchestrator now, where we take the best that is available from industry.” (Image: Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, delivers remarks July 12 during "NASA Human Space Exploration” at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta.. Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum Notebook)


13 July 2017
Powering a Mars or Moon Base

PlanetarySurfacePower-PE2017Durable power sources will be crucial to keeping astronauts alive on the frozen surfaces of the moon or Mars, a panel of NASA engineers and aerospace executives said July 12 during the “Planetary Surface Power” discussion at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. The power sources and electronics for human exploration on these worlds will face battles against time and the elements. Mars has a thin atmosphere, but it also has dust storms that can last for three months and cover the entire planet, said Stephen Hoffman, senior systems engineer for the exploration mission planning office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Planetary Surface Power,” July 12 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum Notebook)


13 July 2017
Getting Humans to Mars Dependent on Public-Private Collaboration, Merging Technologies

SpaceExplorationPropulsionPanel-PE2017To develop the propulsion technologies needed for a manned mission to Mars or other human deep space exploration, merging technologies and collaboration between government, private industry and academia are paramount, a panel of experts said July 12 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. Panelists in the “Space Exploration Propulsion” session agreed the key technologies that will help enable a mission to Mars are solar-electric propulsion and advancements in chemical propulsion, such as nuclear thermal propulsion. (Image:Participants in the panel discussion, "Space Exploration Propulsion,” July 12 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. Credit: AIAA)
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12 July 2017
Convergence of Existing Technologies Propelling New Era of Aviation

JaiwonShin-PE2017The convergence of existing and rapidly advancing technologies has set the stage for a 21st century industrial revolution and a new era in aviation, said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. During the “New Era of Aviation” session July 11 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta, Shin noted the 20th century was host to three industrial revolutions: steam power and electrical power; the division of labor and mass production; and the digital revolution. He said all brought and continue to bring tremendous societal benefits. (Image: Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA, delivers remarks on the "New Era of Aviation,” July 11 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum Notebook)


12 July 2017
Engineers as Space Policy Influencers

PresidentialTransitionPanel-PE2017Aerospace professionals can make a major impact by bringing their technical expertise to federal policy discussions, two former members of U.S. President Donald Trump’s NASA transition team said July 11 during the “Presidential Transition” session at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. Chris Shank, now senior adviser to the secretary and undersecretary of the Air Force, said he was asked in November to form a NASA review team to meet before the inauguration to help propose space policy for the Trump administration. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Presidential Transition,” July 11 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. Credit: AIAA)
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12 July 2017
Hypersonic Vehicle Experts Concerned About Pace of Research, Program Stability

ExpendableToResuablePanel-PE2017Technical, financial and other obstacles must be overcome for hypersonic flight research to progress, a panel of experts said July 11 during the “Transition From Expendable to Reusable Hypersonic Platforms” session at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. “The X-51 proved that we can really do hypersonics,” said David E. Walker, director of the Office of Technology with the Office of Naval Research. “How do we take this and move ourselves forward from these expendable missile type vehicles to reusable aircraft at hypersonic speeds?” (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Transition From Expendable to Reusable Hypersonic Platforms,” July 11 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. Credit: AIAA)
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11 July 2017
Custom Propulsion Needed for Unmanned Aircraft

UASPowerGenStoragePanel-PE2017The unmanned aircraft sector is expanding to meet a wide range of military and commercial tasks, and custom building propulsion for those types of craft could optimize that potential, a panel of executives said July 10 during the “UAS Power Generation and Storage” session at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. Unmanned aircraft innovation has been driven by developments in electronics, miniaturization or autonomy rather than new propulsion technologies specifically for that market, so that is an area ripe for disruption, said Mike Armstrong, vision systems lead at Rolls-Royce North American Technologies. Armstrong added that the lack of industry standards for propulsion built specifically for unmanned aircraft is one obstacle facing that innovation, especially for electric propulsion. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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11 July 2017
Bending the Cost Curve Could Sustain Military Aviation’s Edge

RafaelGarcia-PE2017For the U.S. to sustain its long-standing level of excellence and its global edge in military aviation, propulsion costs must go down as readiness increases, said Rafael A. Garcia, director of Air Force Materiel Command’s Propulsion Directorate. During the “Military Propulsion Needs” session July 10 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta, Garcia explained that downsizing in recent years has left the U.S. Air Force at its lowest personnel levels ever but that the service is still tasked with more missions. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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10 July 2017
Aerospace Engineers Learn Propulsion Needs From End Users

AircraftPropulsionPanel-PE2017To help bridge the gap between the expectations of designers and the expectations of end users of complicated aerospace systems, designers could benefit by thinking more like end users, a panel of experts said July 10 at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta. “We have to think more like an operator to think through how this thing gets designed and maintained through its life,” said Doug Freiberg, an engineer at Pratt & Whitney. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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7 July 2017
Pence Visits KSC, Suggests US Will Return To Moon

VP-Pence-visit-to-NASA-July2017U.S. News & World Report reports on AIAA scholarships available to student members, ranging in amount from $500 to $5,000. Applicants must submit “academic transcripts, a 500-1,000-word essay about their career goals and the academic requirements to achieve those goals, three recommendations and a list of their extracurricular activities.” The Aerospace States Association also awards “up to two $2,000 scholarships annually to students studying aerospace-related curriculum.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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7 July 2017
AIAA, ASA Offer Scholarships To Aerospace Students

AIAAContinuingEducationU.S. News & World Report reports on AIAA scholarships available to student members, ranging in amount from $500 to $5,000. Applicants must submit “academic transcripts, a 500-1,000-word essay about their career goals and the academic requirements to achieve those goals, three recommendations and a list of their extracurricular activities.” The Aerospace States Association also awards “up to two $2,000 scholarships annually to students studying aerospace-related curriculum.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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6 July 2017
Virgin Galactic To Begin Powered Test Flights For Space Travel By Mid-2018

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_PurchasedBloomberg News reports that Virgin Galactic plans to “resume powered test flights more than 2 1/2 years after the fatal breakup of its experimental rocket plane,” and that Richard Branson plans to make the first flight. Powered tests are slated to take place every three weeks with the aim of extending them into space by November or December, according to Branson. He further said that after his own flight, “full commercial passenger operations should start by the end of 2018.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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6 July 2017
US Air Force Issues RFPs For Five Upcoming Launches

DeltaIV-Launch-wikiSpace News reports that the US Air Force has released requests for proposals (RFPs) for five Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Launch Service contracts, in an effort to “to streamline and speed the acquisition process.” Included are the contracts to launch “Air Force Space Command Satellite 8 and Satellite 12” and “three GPS 3 launches.” Launch Enterprise Directorate Director Claire Leon said, “By doing five at once, it makes our acquisition more efficient and it allows the contractors to put in one proposal.” Commenting on reusable rockets, Leon said, “We are trying to reduce the cost of launch, and if this is the offering from commercial providers we need to get on board.” (Image Credit: NASA/Tony Gray, Gina Mitchel)
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5 July 2017
NASA Decides To Move Forward With Asteroid Deflection Program

DART-NASADigital Trends reports that NASA has decided to move forward with its part of the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission. The agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) has moved from the conceptual stage to the preliminary design stage, which will allow the team to begin earnest mission designs for deflecting an asteroid threatening Earth. “DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact,” said project co-lead Andy Cheng. The project’s development is being managed by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 July 2017
SpaceX Dragon’s Splashdown Monday A Historic First

Dragon-Following-Splashdown-Credit-NASACNET News reported that the splashdown of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule on Monday marked a historic first, as it was the first spacecraft of its kind to return to Earth from space twice. Recycling such capsules is vital to reducing the costs of going to space. The Dragon capsule was on its second supply mission to the ISS. (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 June 2017
Asteroid Day Video Series Features Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian May, And Others

Asteroid-NASASPACE reports that a video series called “Scientists Rock” will be released today in recognition of Asteroid Day. The series, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, features astrophysicist Brian May, astronaut Rusty Schweickart, astronomer Carol Shoemaker, and others discussing issues such as the “importance of asteroid detection and characterization,” deflection, and the “need for international cooperation and emergency response.” The series will be webcast as part of 24 hours of Asteroid Day programming on Friday. (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 June 2017
US Air Force To Extend F-22 Raptor’s Life For Another 43 Years

F-22Raptor-WikiJalopnik reports that the US Air Force plans to extend the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor’s service for another 43 years thanks to a “series of forthcoming upgrades that will maintain its already robust structure, known more specifically as its aircraft structural integrity program.” Jalopnik reports that the US Air Force is using $624.5 million in Research Development Test & Evaluation money and $398.5 million in procurements – both of which are included in the FY18 budget – to pay for the hardware and software needed to complete the upgrades. (Image Credit: Rob Shenk via Wikipedia)
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29 June 2017
SpaceX Ups Launch Cadence With Third Satellite In Two Weeks

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiThe Orlando (FL) Business Journal reports that SpaceX plans to launch the Intelsat 35e communication satellite July 2, less than two weeks after its launch of a Bulgarian satellite from Kennedy Space Center and the launch of a Falcon rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Commenting on SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s aim to reduce rocket refurbishment time to 24 hours, Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham said that SpaceX has “been public about a projected launch cadence approaching 50 annually in the next few years.” He said that “some of that 50 will be from Vandenberg, Calif., and some eventually from Brownsville, Texas, but Florida will continue to be where the vast majority of their launch and landing activity will occur.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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29 June 2017
NASA: Approaching Solar Minimum Could Disrupt Communications Systems

High-EnergySolarSpectroscopicImager-NASAThe Daily Mail reports that NASA has announced that the sun “is heading into a period known as solar minimum,” during which time the frequency of sunspots and solar flares will decrease, while “long-lived phenomena including coronal holes” will develop. The solar minimum “could also enhance the effects of space weather, potentially disrupting communications and navigation systems.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 June 2017
NASA Solar Probe To Utilize Water-Based Cooling System

ParkerSolarProbe-NASAPopular Mechanics reports on the cooling system for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, which will utilize pressurized water. Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab’s Mary Kae Lockwood said that after surveying a variety of coolants, the Parker Solar Probe team found that “for the temperature range we required [about 50° F to 257° F], and for the mass constraints, water was the solution.” The system “will also include two-speed pumps and four radiators made of titanium tubes with aluminum fins a mere two hundredths of an inch thick,” providing a cooling capacity of 6,000 watts. (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 June 2017
SpaceX Plans Expansion Of Florida Rocket Refurbishing Facilities

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAReuters reports that SpaceX is planning to construct “a 67,222-square-foot (6,245-square meter) hangar just south of its Cape Canaveral launch sites,” where it would “refurbish and store its reusable rocket boosters.” The Port Canaveral Board of Commissioners “is scheduled to consider SpaceX’s proposed lease on Wednesday.”
(Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
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27 June 2017
Amazon Patents “Beehive-Like” UAV Fulfillment Centers

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_1CreditAmazonThe Guardian (UK) reports on Amazon’s recently published patent for “beehive-like” drone fulfillment centers, which “would allow Amazon to shift away from the traditional model of large single-story warehouses that temporarily store packages before they are shipped to customers.” If Amazon carries on “with its vision of urban drone centers outlined in the patent application,” it would “likely face a range of obstacles in the regulation of the nascent industry of commercial drones – including attempts to control their movement and local zoning and development laws.” (Image Credit: Amazon)
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27 June 2017
NASA Releases Solar Eclipse “Safety Video”

SolarEclipse-NASASPACE reports that NASA has released a video describing “how to safely view the 2017 total solar eclipse that will cross the continental United States on Aug. 21.” In the video, NASA cautions against looking directly at the sun, advising instead to “use eclipse glasses, construct pinhole viewers, build pinhole projectors or even shape their fingers to project a view of the eclipse.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 June 2017
F-35A Demonstrates Full Flight Ability At Paris Air Show

F-35A-LighteningII_USAF-WikiAIAA’s flagship publication, Aerospace America, reported that Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn “wowed spectators” at the Paris Air Show “with the stealthy F-35A’s still impressive thrust and low-speed maneuverability,” in what was the aircraft’s “first air show demonstration of its full flight ability.” Program Manager Jeff Babione said that Lockheed is in negotiations for a $40 billion deal for 440 F-35s for the US and allied nations, and said that the order “more than doubles the total amount of airplanes under contract, and that we’ll be building,” adding that the sales could lower the per plane price into “the $80 million range.” (Image Credit: US Air Force Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen via Wikipedia)
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23 June 2017
Hybrid Air Freighters Plan Airship Sales At Paris Air Show

ThalesAleniaSpace-AirshipAerospace America reports that Hybrid Air Freighters signed a nonbinding agreement at the Paris Air Show to purchase up to 12 LMH-1 hybrid airships from Lockheed Martin subsidiary Hybrid Enterprises. Hybrid Enterprises CEO Rob Binns said they are also negotiating a deal to sell airships with Straightline Aviation. Binns said that the company has “a certification plan agreed with the FAA and Transport Canada,” and that, “Now we will have to talk further with EASA.” According to the story, 80 percent of the hybrid ship’s lift “comes from helium gas buoyancy and 20 percent comes from aerodynamic lift generated by its shape and four propeller engines.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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23 June 2017
Aviation Industry Seeks “Real-Time Warnings” Of Hacking Attempts

AirbusA320Neo_AP_PurchasedFox Business reports on efforts within the aviation industry to provide “real-time warnings to pilots about potential hacking attempts.” Thales and Raytheon are among companies working “to develop such systems,” and Airbus and Boeing “support the pilot-alerting goal, reflecting a desire to try new things as global threats intensify and evolve.” Boeing CTO Greg Hyslop said, “The conventional ways by which we’ve protected ourselves in cyber may need to change” as cyber threats evolve, and Airbus’ Allan McArtor said that the sector lacks “a convincing cyberthreat architecture that allows us to be aware of attacks” as they occur. (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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22 June 2017
White House, FAA To Meets With Top Executives On UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedRe/code reports that PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen, AirMap CEO Ben Marcus, and Airspace Inc. CEO Jaz Banga will meet with “White House leaders – as well as regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration – on the sort of rules that govern how and where unmanned aerial craft can operate, said Michael Kratsios, the president’s deputy chief technology officer.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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22 June 2017
Orders For Boeing Aircraft Continue To Come In From Paris Air Show

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that Copa Airlines announced it would convert an order of 737 MAX aircraft to 15 737 MAX 10s, to “replace existing airplanes. In a separate article, Reuters reports that China’s Xiamen Airlines “has signed a memorandum of understanding” for a $1.2 billion deal “to buy 10 of Boeing’s new 737 MAX 10 jets,” but that Xiamen announced that “finalizing the deal would require the approval of its board of directors, China Southern Airlines’ board of directors and the Chinese Government.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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21 June 2017
Airbus To Be First Commercial Customer For Arianespace’s Upgraded Vega C Rocket

VegaRocket-WikiSpace News reports that Airbus will be “the first commercial customer to use Europe’s future Vega C rocket,” and has ordered “two launchers to orbit a four-satellite Earth-observation constellation,” according to Arianespace. Airbus Defence and Space Intelligence Business Cluster chief François Lombard said, “We fully trust Arianespace to orbit our new constellation, which will bolster our service offering and expand our range of services.” The upgraded Vega C will be “capable of launching about 50 percent more mass to a 700-kilometer polar orbit” than the current Vega rocket. (Image: Sentinel-2 and Vega on the launch pad. Credit ESA via Wikipedia)
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21 June 2017
House Subcommittee Lays Out Defense Funding For UAS, Cyber

MQ-9ReaperDefense News reports that the House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on Tuesday advanced its language for the House Armed Services Committee’s 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. “In its section of the draft bill, the subpanel endorsed authorizing $12.3 billion for US Special Operations Command, including wartime funding. According to Defense News: “The amount includes funds to buy General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drone aircraft as well as smaller tactical remotely-piloted systems. ... Focusing on future conventional warfare, the bill includes funding for emerging technologies like hypersonics, 3D printing and directed energy weapons – capabilities that have been shorted of late in favor of counter-insurgency focused technologies, aides said.” (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
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20 June 2017
F-35 Wows Paris Air Show As Block Deal Reportedly Nears

F35-LukeAFB_USAF-WikipediaMonday’s opening of the Paris Air Show drew heavy news media coverage for Lockheed Martin as reports highlighted the presence of the F-35 fighter jet and what Reuters called a “potentially huge order” in the works. Lockheed Martin “is in the final stages of negotiating a $37 billion-plus deal to sell 440 F-35 fighter jets to a group of 11 nations including the United States, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.” (Image: F-35 Lightning II. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann via Wikimedia Commons)
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20 June 2017
Kepler Mission Identifies 219 More Candidate Planets

KeplerPlanetDiscovery_May2016_NASASPACE reports that NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope mission has discovered 219 more candidate planets in the Cygnus constellation, “including 10 near-Earth-size planet candidates in the so-called habitable zone around their stars,” bringing the total in Kepler’s catalog to 4,034. Kepler research scientist Susan Thompson said, “This survey catalog will be the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy’s most compelling questions: How many planets like our Earth are actually in the galaxy?” (Image Credit: NASA/W. Stenzel)
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19 June 2017
Slowdown In Orders For Large, Expensive Jets

Boeing_747_wikiThe New York Times reports that at the International Paris Air Show this week, private conversations are likely to focus on a slowdown in orders for the largest and most expensive jets. According to analysts, several factors have contributed to a decline in interest in larger aircraft, including “[h]igh production rates [which] created a glut of large jets, and the drop in oil prices.” Boeing currently “makes only six 747s a year, and it sells most of them as cargo freighters rather than as passenger jets.” (Image: Boeing 747-8 First Flight. Credit: moonm via Wikimedia Commons)
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19 June 2017
NASA Scientists To Announce New Kepler Exoplanet Finds Monday

Kepler_NASAIn continuing coverage, SPACE reports that NASA “will announce the latest crop of planet discoveries from the Kepler Space Telescope” Monday morning at 11 am EDT from the Kepler Science Conference. The conference will be livestreamed from NASA’s website and will feature a panel with Kepler program scientist Mario Perez, Kepler research scientist Susan Thompson, NASA Sagan Fellow Courtney Dressing, and University of Hawaii doctoral candidate Benjamin Fulton. (Image: Artist’s conception of the Kepler space telescope observing planets. Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel via Wikimedia Commons)
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16 June 2017
Boeing To Offer UAV Inspection Services To International Market

DroneTest-NASAShephard Media reports that Boeing’s Insitu “plans to offer its full-service UAV infrastructure inspection system internationally.” The company has been using ScanEagle UAVs to inspect “well heads, pipelines and processing facilities in Australia” for more than a year. Boeing plans to offer its ScanEagle for a US Coast Guard requirement “for a UAV to operate from its national security cutters.” Another “major competitor for the requirement is likely to be Textron’s Aerosonde UAV.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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14 June 2017
NASA’s Sean Clarke Discusses Electric X-Plane At AIAA AVIATION Forum

Electric-Plane-NASAAviation Week reports that NASA’s Sean Clarke spoke at the AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver last week on the agency’s X-47 electric aircraft, and the challenge batteries have posed to its development. The aircraft’s current battery packs “provide 47 kWh of energy and weigh close to 900 lb., an increase of more than 10% over the original goal.” Clarke said that the packs “have used up our mass margin.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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14 June 2017
Lockheed VP Discusses NASA QueSST Low-Boom Demonstrator At AIAA AVIATION Forum

RobWeiss-2017AIAAAVIATIONThe Daily Mail reports that NASA “is seeking proposals for the development of its supersonic X-plane,” the Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) low-boom flight demonstrator, intended to “produce a much lower ‘boom’ than other supersonic aircraft.” Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works developed the design to “reduce the volume of the shaped signature” in order to produce shock waves that produce a sonic boom “dBA lower than other supersonic aircraft.” Speaking at the 2017 AIAA Aviation Forum, Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs Executive Vice President Rob Weiss said, “We are ready to go on building that demonstrator.” Weiss also said, “We feel we have a technological advantage in the amount of investment we have made in the tools and the vehicle itself.” (Image: Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager of advanced development programs with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, delivers remarks June 5 during the opening plenary session of the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver.. Credit: AIAA)
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13 June 2017
AIAA Honorary Fellow Michael Griffin To Be Interviewed On The Space Show

AIAAPastPresident-MichaelGriffinSpace Fellowship reports that former NASA Administrator (2005-2009) Michael Griffin will be a guest on The Space Show this Tuesday, June 13, 10-11:30pm EDT. Griffin previously served as Space Department Head at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, and as CEO of Orbital Science’s Magellan Systems division. Griffin is a past president of AIAA, and a recipient of the Goddard Astronautics Award, the AIAA Space Systems Award, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and the DoD Distinguished Public Service Medal. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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13 June 2017
Swiss Students Develop Multidirectional Hexacopter

OmnidirectionalHexacopter_VOLIROPopular Mechanics reports on Voliro, a “hexacopter with individually tiltable axes that allow it to fly in any direction,” which was developed by a team of students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Zurich University of the Arts. The team plans to “add an omnidirectional sphere to the drone in the future, so it can roll around on the ground.” (Image Credit: Voliro ETHZ via YouTube)
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12 June 2017
Uber Outlines Plans For Flying Vehicle Service at AIAA AVIATION Forum

Prototype-of-Terrafugia-Transition-Credit-TerrafugiaThe Denver Post reported that, speaking at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum, Uber Director of Aviation Mark Moore “outlined the vision for Uber Elevate,” an “airborne ride-hailing service” that will use emission-free “flying vehicles.” Moore said that the service would use “old helipads and the tops of parking garages” as landing spaces, and that the company hopes eventually to make the vehicles fully autonomous. Moore said, “The whole idea is for this not to be private ownership but to be able to leverage this one vehicle to serve the needs of 50 different people.” Aerospace America also covered the story. (Image: A prototype of Terrafugia's Transition operates in its driving mode, but most companies emphatically don't want their products to be called "flying cars." Credit: Terrafugia-©)
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12 June 2017
SpaceX to Launch USAF X-37B Spaceplane

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFMilitary reports that SpaceX “will launch the Air Force’s X-37B experimental spaceplane later this year.” The launch will be SpaceX’s first, as the X-37B has previously only been launched by United Launch Alliance, “a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.” According to the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (AFRCO), the flight “will test how special electronics and heat pipes will fare during a long-duration space mission.” AFRCO Director Randy Walden said, “We look forward to continued expansion of the vehicle’s performance and are excited to continue hosting experimental payloads for the space community.” (Image Credit: USAF)
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9 June 2017
Mastering Data, Modeling for Better, Faster Production

DigitalTwinPanel8June2017Weapons could get from the drawing board to the hands of warfighters faster if contractors and the military used better data management to make better virtual models, experts in the “Realization of a Digital Twin and Thread” panel said June 8 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. The U.S. Air Force uses the term “digital twin and thread” to describe its goal of gathering the right data from mountains of digital information created every day and using it to make better virtual models that will speed up the contracting process. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Realization of a Digital Twin and Thread," June 8 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Credit: AIAA)
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9 June 2017
Internet of Things Could Enable Drones to Change the World

IoTPanel8June2017The “internet of things” will completely revolutionize the aviation industry, particularly through its application to the growing unmanned flight sector, a panel of experts said June 8 during the “Internet of Things as Applied to Aircraft Systems” session at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. The internet of things is the networking of devices, vehicles, buildings and other items with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity. The connected objects are able to collect and exchange data, which offers aerospace manufacturers a way to have real-time data communications with their deployed products. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Internet of Things as Applied to Aircraft Systems," June 8 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Credit: AIAA)
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8 June 2017
Commercial Supersonic Travel Could Shrink the World

SupersonicTransportPanel-7June2017Advances including aerodynamics, propulsion and composites can make supersonic flight more affordable and open more travel routes than the commercial flights once offered by the British Airways Concorde, a panel of aviation executives said during the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Supersonic flight can “shrink the world” the same way subsonic jet flight did by making it easier for families to visit relatives or vacation or for executives to make business trips, Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Colorado-based startup Boom Technology, said June 6 in the “Supersonic Transport” panel. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Supersonic Transport," June 6 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Credit: AIAA)
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8 June 2017
Air Traffic Control for Drones Is on Its Way

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APWith the increased use of unmanned aircraft in the years ahead, an air traffic management system for drones will be a necessity, said John Cavolowsky, director of the Airspace Operations and Systems Program in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Directorate. Cavolowsky shared some of NASA’s work on unmanned aerial systems traffic management, or UTM, with attendees June 7 during “Solutions to UAS Air Traffic Management (UTM) Challenges” at the Demand for Unmanned Symposium at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Aircraft Electric Propulsion: Transforming Aviation," June 7 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Credit: AIAA)
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8 June 2017
Changing Culture With Electric Aviation

ElectricPropulsionPanel-7June2017Electric-powered flight could improve safety, fuel efficiency and convenience, but innovators first have to clear regulatory hurdles and make the technology accepted as part of daily life, a panel of aviation executives and officials said June 7 during the “Aircraft Electric Propulsion: Transforming Aviation” session at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Automakers are leading the way in electric and hybrid electric transportation, but aviation firms have yet to win over consumers and regulators who have “grandfathered in” gasoline as the accepted aircraft fuel, said Joseph Oldham, director of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center for CALSTART. The nonprofit Oldham works for is dedicated to the growth of clean transportation technologies. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion, "Aircraft Electric Propulsion: Transforming Aviation," June 7 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Credit: AIAA)
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7 June 2017
MIT Researchers To Present On Long-Endurance Communications UAV at AIAA AVIATION Forum

NASAGliderUAV-NASAMIT News reports that MIT researchers will present this week at the AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver, Colorado on a design for a UAV “that can hover for longer durations” to provide communications support in the event that normal phone and Internet systems are disrupted. The design resembles “a thin glider” that would be able to carry “10 to 20 pounds of communications equipment while flying at an altitude of 15,000 feet.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 June 2017
AIAA, AAS Sponsor CanSat International Rocket Competition

CanSatComp-2016Airbus is determined to play a leading role in what Paul Eremenko, Airbus’ chief technology officer, considers the third aerospace revolution.“This is a chance not just to influence, not just to leave a mark, but really to imagine and build the future of flight together,” Eremenko said June 6 during his keynote address, titled “Innovation in the Age of the Third Aerospace Revolution,” at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. (Image: Paul Eremenko, chief technology officer, Airbus, delivers the keynote address, "Innovation in the Age of the Third Aerospace Revolution," June 6 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Credit: AIAA)
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6 June 2017
Third Aerospace Revolution Rapidly Changing the Face of Aviation

Emerenko-AVIATION2017-6JuneAirbus is determined to play a leading role in what Paul Eremenko, Airbus’ chief technology officer, considers the third aerospace revolution.“This is a chance not just to influence, not just to leave a mark, but really to imagine and build the future of flight together,” Eremenko said June 6 during his keynote address, titled “Innovation in the Age of the Third Aerospace Revolution,” at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. (Image: Paul Eremenko, chief technology officer, Airbus, delivers the keynote address, "Innovation in the Age of the Third Aerospace Revolution," June 6 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. Credit: AIAA)
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5 June 2017
The Need For Speed Is Critical To Today’s Warfighting Needs

Weiss-Rob-AVIATION2017To help today’s American warfighters and their global partners defend freedom worldwide, industry must quickly deliver warfighting tools, Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager of advanced development programs with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said June 5 during the opening plenary session of the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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5 June 2017
Cosmonaut, Astronaut Return To Earth From ISS

Pesquet-Novitskiy-NASAReuters reported that cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet “returned to Earth on Friday aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule” from the ISS. Their crewmate, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will remain onboard the ISS, “filling a vacancy left after Russia scaled down its station crew size to two members from three.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 June 2017
US, Europe Have Different Views On Aviation Security

AirportSecurity_Dulles_AP-PurchasedUSA Today reports that US and European officials “differ over whether to expand a ban on electronics larger than cellphones in carry-on bags aboard airliners – an example of how security officials can disagree about how to respond to the same threat.” USA Today reports that DHS Secretary John Kelly “has considered expanding a March electronics ban on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa to Europe or all international flights,” but that Europeans “have resisted a broader ban” and “have explored other methods, such as improved screening at airport checkpoints, to thwart a bombing.” (Image: A security sign is posted at Air Canada at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 in Chantilly, Va. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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2 June 2017
SpaceX Postpones Launch Until Saturday Due To Weather

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAAFP reports that a planned SpaceX launch was delayed until Saturday afternoon due to a lightning strike that occurred 10 miles from the Cape Canaveral launch site “about 25 minutes before the scheduled launch at 5:55.” A NASA spokesperson said, “The lightning flight rule requires 30 minutes for you to clear that before it is safe to launch.” (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
More Info (AFP)


1 June 2017
NASA Announces Parker Solar Probe Mission To Study Sun

SolarProbeMission_NASAU.S. News & World Report reports that NASA announced Wednesday that it will send a spacecraft to the sun in order to study “how the star works and what can be done to better predict space weather events on Earth.” The agency also announced that the Solar Probe Plus mission had been renamed the Parker Solar Probe, in honor of the University of Chicago astrophysicist Eugene Parker, who “correctly predicted the existence of the solar wind” in 1958. The University of Chicago’s Eric Isaacs said, “It was a fundamental insight that forever changed the way in which we understood the sun, the heliosphere and in general interplanetary space.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (U.S. News & World Report)


1 June 2017
FAA Certifies Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan Engine For Embraer, Mitsubishi Jets

PW-GearedTurboFanEngine-model-AP-PurchasedReuters reports that Pratt & Whitney announced Wednesday that the FAA has certified its “geared turbofan engine” for the Embraer E-Jet E2 and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, clearing the way “for next steps in bringing the new aircraft by Embraer SA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd into service.” (Image: 1/4 lifesize model of the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engine, on the eve of the Farnborough aerospace show, in Farnborough, England, Sunday 13 July 2008. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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31 May 2017
MQ-9B UAS Flies 48.2 Hours Non-Stop

MQ-9B-GAThe Daily Mail reports that General Atomics’ MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAS set a new company endurance record by flying non-stop for 48.2 hours, “at 240 miles per hour and returning with reserve fuel.” The previous record was 46.1 hours, set by the company’s Predator XP UAS. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems CEO Linden Blue said, “This long-endurance flight is not only a significant achievement for our MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft but also a very timely landmark event for our company as we celebrate 25 years of aviation innovation this year.” (Image Credit: General Atomics)
More Info (Daily Mail)


31 May 2017
NASA To Announce New Class Of Astronaut Candidates On June 7

BruceMcCandless_STS-41-B_NASAA NASA press release published by MarketWatch reports that NASA will announce its new class of astronaut candidates on June 7 at 2 pm EDT at NASA Johnson Space Center. The event will be livestreamed on the NASA website and also broadcast on NASA Television. (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
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30 May 2017
NASA To Make Solar Probe Mission Announcement

Solar-Probe_NASAThe Independent reports that NASA will make an announcement Wednesday regarding its Solar Probe Plus spacecraft, which is planned to launch in 2018 on a mission “to touch the sun.” The craft “will be tasked with collecting data about the mechanisms that heat the corona,” which is “hundreds of times hotter than the sun’s surface,” and is what fuels the sun’s solar wind. The announcement will be livestreamed on NASA TV and NASA’s website from 11 a.m. EST. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Independent


30 May 2017
Senators Introduce New UAS Legislation

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedAero-News Network reports that Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced legislation called “the Drone Federalism Act,” which Sen. Cotton said aims to “return power to regulate everyday drone use to the proper level, states and local communities.” Cotton added, “By passing this legislation, we will protect private property rights and allow local communities to tailor drone rules to their specific needs.” Sen. Feinstein said that the bill would enable communities “to create low-altitude speed limits, local no-drone zones or rules that are appropriate to their own circumstances.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Aero-News Network)


26 May 2017
SpaceX Moves Up Date Of Next Iridium Launch

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSpace News reports that due to range availability at Vandenberg Air Force Base, SpaceX has moved the launch date for the second Iridium Next mission ahead by four days to June 25. The article explains that SpaceX is launching Iridium Next “over the course of eight missions, seven with 10 satellites, and one split between five Iridium Next satellites and a NASA-Germany science spacecraft.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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25 May 2017
U.S. Air Force Shares Details of Minuteman 3 Replacement Plan

MinutemanIIIStory-ImageThe U.S. Air Force plans to narrow the field to two contractors by the end of the year in the competition to build hundreds of next generation nuclear-tipped missiles to replace the decades-old Minuteman 3s, says the vice commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. Maj. Gen. Michael Fortney says that once those two finalists for a contract are chosen, “the real thinking will begin” about options for replacing the missiles that the Air Force has kept in silos as a nuclear deterrent since 1970. The Air Force has improved the missiles over the decades, but in Fortney’s view, continuing that approach would pose unacceptably high costs. (Image: An Air Force maintenance team at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., works on the top three components of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. Credit: Airman 1st Class Kristoffer Kaubisch/Air Force)
Full Story (Aerospace America article by Tom Risen)


25 May 2017
DARPA Announces Partnership With Boeing To Build XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane

XS-1_DARPAReuters reports that DARPA announced a partnership with Boeing on Wednesday to build an experimental spaceplane called XS-1 designed to deliver small satellites into orbit daily. DARPA “said it will invest up to $146 million” in the program, while Boeing “declined to say how much it will put into development of the vehicle, which it calls Phantom Express.” The venture plans for the XS-1 to be “about the size of a business jet,” and to “take off like a rocket, boost itself beyond the atmosphere and release an expendable second-stage rocket and satellite, then turn around and land like an airplane on a runway.” DARPA spokesman Jared Adams said, “The reusable first stage … would be prepared for the next flight, potentially within hours.” The vehicle “is expected to debut in 2020.” (Image Credit: DARPA)
More Info (Reuters)


25 May 2017
Companies Exploring Ways To Address Space Debris Problem

SpaceJunk-NASABloomberg News reports on several efforts designed to address the growing problem of space debris in near-Earth orbit. With space exploration slowly shifting to private industry, companies are also “contemplating ways to start clearing out our big garage in the sky.” Among them is Aerospace Corporation, which last month was awarded a $500,000 grant under NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program to continue development of its Brane Craft, a three-foot-by-three-foot craft “less than half the thickness of a human hair” designed to capture objects to degrade their orbit after being launched from a canister in groups of up to 500. Astra Rocket Co. is developing a “solar-electric tug boat carrying disposable rockets” that fire at objects, and JAXA “is researching the potential of a long, electrified space tether to propel objects from orbit.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


24 May 2017
NASA Astronauts Perform Emergency Spacewalk

Spacewalk-May2017-NASAUSA Today reports that NASA astronauts on Tuesday “repaired a critical International Space Station system during a nearly three-hour spacewalk.” Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer “swapped out a computer relay box that had failed on Saturday.” This was Whitson’s 10th spacewalk, “tying the most by a NASA astronaut.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)


24 May 2017
Report: Trump Administration Asks Congress To Pass Rules Allowing US To Track And Destroy UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe New York Times reports that the Trump administration “is asking Congress to give the federal government sweeping powers to track, hack, and destroy any type of drone over domestic soil with a new exception to laws governing surveillance, computer privacy and aircraft protection.” The document is a “draft and summary of legislation the executive branch circulated among several congressional committees on Tuesday, according to a congressional aide.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)


23 May 2017
NASA Announces June 1 Launch For 11th SpaceX ISS Commercial Resupply Mission

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAExecutiveBiz reports that NASA announced Saturday that the launch of the 11th commercial cargo resupply mission to the ISS is scheduled for June 1, with SpaceX slated to launch a Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center. The “mission will bring to the ISS several scientific experiments and equipment that include the Roll-Out Solar Array test concept, Neutron Star Interior Composition Explored payload and the Multiple User System for Earth Sensing facility.”(Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
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23 May 2017
DJI Will Limit UAV’s Functionality, Range If It Isn’t Activated Online

DJI_Phantom4_APGizmodo reports that UAV manufacturer DJI is requiring all of its customers to activate their aircraft online. If customers decide against going through the activation process, their UAV’s “range will be limited to a laughable 164-foot (50-meter) radius, and it won’t be able to fly higher than 98 feet (30 meters).” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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22 May 2017
NASA Plans Emergency ISS Spacewalk

ISS-from-Atlantis-NASAReuters reports that NASA has scheduled an emergency spacewalk outside the ISS to replace the primary computer that controls US systems aboard the space station after it failed Saturday. Station Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer are slated to partner for the spacewalk, estimated to last two hours. It will be the first emergency spacewalk on the station since 2015. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


22 May 2017
FAA Tests Anti-UAV Defense System At US Airports

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APCNN Money carried a video online displaying an “electronic cannon” that “disables drones.” According to the story, “the Anti UAV Defense System (AUDS) is designed to detect” UAVs up to six miles away, as well as “track and disrupt” them. In fact, the system tracks any flying object in its range, requiring a human assistant to decide whether to jam the target’s radio frequencies or not. The FAA is testing the system out at US airports.ack and disrupt” them. In fact, the system tracks any flying object in its range, requiring a human assistant to decide whether to jam the target’s radio frequencies or not. The FAA is testing the system out at US airports. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (CNN Money)


19 May 2017
Airlines For America Predicts Record Summer Air Travel

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, “A record number of travelers are expected to take to the skies this summer.” Airlines for America said Thursday that “a total of 234.1 million passengers will fly on US airlines from June through August, or more than 2.5 million a day. ... That’s up 4 percent from last summer, amounting to 100,000 additional passengers a day.” (Image Credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


19 May 2017
NASA Exploring Ways To Integrate UAVs Into US Airspace

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APAir Traffic Management reports that the “two notional scenarios NASA is exploring to integrate drones into US airspace include both a portable model that would move between geographical areas and a persistent model that would provide continuous coverage for a specific area.” Air Traffic Management adds that under both models, “operators would use data to make inputs only when initiating, continuing, or terminating a drone flight.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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18 May 2017
Congressional Hearing Examines ATC Privatization, NextGen Progress

ATC-at-DullesThe House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing Wednesday to examine possible privatization of the FAA air traffic control (ATC) system and implementation of the NextGen modernization program. The Washington Post reports that testimony at the hearing suggested that “efforts to modernize the aviation system have fallen short.” DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel III said, “The FAA’s estimation [for completion of NextGen] is 2030 at a cost of $36 billion,” but he added, “We don’t know what the total cost will be and when it will be complete.” National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi “said the union would support [privatization] if the legislation guaranteed current pay rates, and health and retirement benefits for his members.” Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) said that the composition of the board that will direct the corporation controlling a privatized entity is “one of the most important parts of the whole thing.” Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), the panel’s ranking Democrat, warned that the new board “would effectively be controlled by the airlines.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower)
More Info (Washington Post)


17 May 2017
DARPA Official: Satellite Servicing Presents Chance To Leverage Industry Development

Satellite-Servicing-NASAInside Defense reports that the Pentagon announced Tuesday evening that the US Air Force has awarded General Atomics a $400 million contract to deliver 36 new MQ-9 Reaper UAVs in Block 5 configuration. The contract is funded with fiscal year 2016 money, and deliveries are scheduled for completion by August 2020. The Air Force announced in February that it will gradually replace its squadrons of General Atomics' MQ-1 Predators with additional MQ-9s, and the service is retrofitting its Block 1 MQ-9s with Block 5 avionics. (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
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17 May 2017
General Atomics Awarded $400M US Air Force Contract For 36 Reaper UAVs

MQ-9ReaperInside Defense reports that the Pentagon announced Tuesday evening that the US Air Force has awarded General Atomics a $400 million contract to deliver 36 new MQ-9 Reaper UAVs in Block 5 configuration. The contract is funded with fiscal year 2016 money, and deliveries are scheduled for completion by August 2020. The Air Force announced in February that it will gradually replace its squadrons of General Atomics' MQ-1 Predators with additional MQ-9s, and the service is retrofitting its Block 1 MQ-9s with Block 5 avionics. (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
More Info (Inside Defense)


16 May 2017
Blue Origin Announces Setback In Testing Of BE-4 Engine

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginReuters reported that Boeing announced Friday that it has resumed test flights of its 737 MAX-8 jetliner. The aircraft had been grounded due to an issue with the model’s CFM International LEAP-1B engines. CFM, a joint venture between General Electric (GE) and Safran, “had said flaws in the forging of a disc inside the engine could have led to cracks.” Boeing announced the grounding on Wednesday, days before the first scheduled 737 MAX-8 delivery. Spokesman Doug Alder said that regulators supported restarting test flights, and that the “plan remains to start deliveries this month” with planes that do not contain the discs under scrutiny. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)


16 May 2017
NASA Delays First SLS-Orion Mission To 2019, Will Not Include Crew

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASANASA officials announced Friday that they have delayed the scheduled first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) to 2019 from 2018 and will not send a human crew on the first mission, as President Donald Trump’s administration had suggested. The New York Times reported that during a conference call with reporters, NASA Acting Administrator Robert M. Lightfoot said that while adding a crew to the flight was technically feasible, it would add $600 million to $900 million in additional costs and further delay the launch. He explained that the agency’s study of the proposal “really reaffirmed the baseline plan we have in place is the best way to go.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Times)


15 May 2017
Dobbs Discusses AIAA Design/Build/Fly Competition

JoshuaDobbs-DBF2017Aircraft Owners And Pilots Association (AOPA) reported on Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick Joshua Dobbs’ participation in the AIAA Design/Build/Fly competition held late last month in Tucson, Arizona. The former University of Tennessee quarterback and aerospace engineering major was among 754 students across 74 teams who participated in the contest. Speaking to AOPA in an interview, Dobbs explained his team’s design for the tube-launched unmanned aircraft and the pressure of completing its fabrication under the competition’s time constraints. (Image Credit: AIAA)
More Info (Aircraft Owners And Pilots Association)


15 May 2017
Boeing Resumes Test Flights Of 737 MAX-8 Following Engine Issue

Boeing737MaxReuters reported that Boeing announced Friday that it has resumed test flights of its 737 MAX-8 jetliner. The aircraft had been grounded due to an issue with the model’s CFM International LEAP-1B engines. CFM, a joint venture between General Electric (GE) and Safran, “had said flaws in the forging of a disc inside the engine could have led to cracks.” Boeing announced the grounding on Wednesday, days before the first scheduled 737 MAX-8 delivery. Spokesman Doug Alder said that regulators supported restarting test flights, and that the “plan remains to start deliveries this month” with planes that do not contain the discs under scrutiny. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)


12 May 2017
Astronauts To Perform Spacewalk At International Space Station

AstronautJackFisher-NASASPACE reports that “NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer [will] embark on the 200th spacewalk in service of the International Space Station this morning, replacing a failed avionics box and performing other fixes outside the orbiting lab.” SPACE reports that “NASA coverage begins at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT) and the spacewalk is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT).” NASA said, “Whitson, Expedition 51 commander, and Fischer will venture outside the Quest airlock to replace a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections to the science experiments, and replacement hardware stored outside the station.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)
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12 May 2017
Public Safety Agencies Increasingly Using UAVs

Engineer-Flies-Phantom3-APThe San Francisco Chronicle reports that “public safety agencies are increasingly using” UAVs, which fire officials and law enforcement agencies say “can save time, money and lives.” UAVs have been used in the San Francisco area to inspect fires, search for people, and get closer looks at dangerous situations. However, there are concerns by the public that the UAVs will be used for surveillance. (Image: An engineer flies a DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (San Francisco Chronicle)


11 May 2017
Engine Problem Halts Boeing 737 MAX Test Flights

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that “days before Boeing was due to deliver its first 737 MAX to an airline,” the company temporarily halted test flights of the plane. Safran SA, which makes the plane’s LEAP-1B engines jointly with General Electric Co, “found a quality problem in a large metal disc used in the low-pressure turbine at the rear of the engine.” It isn’t known how long it will take to address the problem. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Reuters) (ExecutiveGov)


11 May 2017
Marines Seeking To Use 3D-Printed UAS

AAI-RQ7Shadow_WikiExecutiveGov reports that Capt. Christopher Wood, co-lead for additive manufacturing at the US Marine Corps Headquarters, said that the service is seeking to deploy the Nibbler UAS, “a small unmanned aircraft system built using three-dimensional printing technology.” He added that the Marine Corps wants to, in ExecutiveGov’s words, “produce a ‘near infinite’ range of UAS that can be produced from basic materials.” (Image Credit: Spc. Jeremy Squirres, USMC, 24 Sept. 2004, via Wikipedia)
More Info (ExecutiveGov)


10 May 2017
NASA Video Highlights March 24 Spacewalk Outside ISS

KateRubins_ISS-Spacewalk-Aug2016_CreditNASACNET News reports on the “new NASA video full of spacewalk action-camera footage” taken by ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet while on a spacewalk on March 24. The video shows the highlights of Pesquet’s “spacewalk, which included NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, focused on preparing some adapters meant to aid with the docking of commercial crew vehicles.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CNET News)


10 May 2017
C919 Expected To See Use In China, Africa

China-C919-AP-PurchasedForbes , contributor Ralph Jennings writes that if the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China’s tests of its new C919 jet airline continue to go well, that “would help the Shanghai-based developer position its C919 aircraft as a rival to the Airbus A320 or the Boeing B737.” Initial predictions forecast a market for the plane “only in China and a few sympathetic countries.” Besides China, Africa is reported to have generated some preorders. Relatively low operation and maintenance costs could make it attractive to airlines there, as well as in Latin America. A now insolvent Chinese-invested company in Germany also had planned to buy five C919s. (Image: China's home-grown C919 passenger jet taxis after landing on its maiden flight at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, Friday, May 5, 2017. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Forbes)


9 May 2017
NASA Investing In Electric Planes

Electric-Plane-NASABusiness Insider reports that NASA is “investing heavily in electric planes,” committing more than $43 million to the project with a goal of creating “a large, hybrid jet that has the potential to be sold commercially in the next decade.” First, “NASA is first building a small, entirely electric plane called the X-57.” Sean Clarke, NASA’s principal investigator on the X-57 project, said that “for this tech to make its way to commercial, battery tech needs to improve.” Then, NASA will convert a standard aircraft into an entirely electric plane. After that, the converted aircraft will have its wings replaced with wings based on the X-57. Tom Rigney, NASA’s program manager for the X-57 project, said. “We’re going to reduce the risk and flight test these larger aircrafts with the technology required to fly them, and that will give way for the commercial world to commercialize it. ” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Business Insider)


9 May 2017
Branson Partnering With Boom Technology On Supersonic Aircraft

BAConcorde_WikiSPACE reports that Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic is partnering with Boom Technology to build a supersonic aircraft that travels at Mach 2.2. Blake Scholl, CEO and founder of Boom, said that supersonic commercial travel could lead to changes similar to those brought about by the introduction of the jet plane, making even remoter areas accessible. (Image Credit: Eduard Marmet via Wikipedia)
More Info (SPACE)


8 May 2017
X-37B Touches Down at KSC After Nearly Two Years In Orbit

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFThe Orlando Sentinel reports that the U.S. Air Force has confirmed that its X-37B unmanned military space plane, or “mini space shuttle,” finally landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday “after spending 718 days in orbit,” conducting what are believed to have been “intelligence-gathering” experiments, although the mission, which “officials won’t discuss,” remains classified. Launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a ULA Atlas V on 20 May 2015, the Air Force calls the X-37B “an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force.” (Image Credit: USAF)
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8 May 2017
First Chinese-Built Passenger Jet Makes Maiden Flight

China-C919-AP-PurchasedReuters reported that in “a major step for Beijing as it looks to boost its profile in the global aviation market,” China’s home-grown C919 passenger jet made its maiden flight on Friday, which lasted 80 minutes. (Image: China's home-grown C919 passenger jet taxis after landing on its maiden flight at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, Friday, May 5, 2017. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)


8 May 2017
SpaceX Launch Of Bulgarian Satellite To Reuse Falcon 9 First Stage

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASASpace News reported, “BulgariaSat said its BulgariaSat-1 spacecraft is scheduled to launch in mid-June on a Falcon 9,” which will use a first stage previously used in a launch in January. Maxim Zayakov, chief executive of BulgariaSat, said that such reuse reduces the launch price and “makes it possible for smaller countries and companies to launch their own satellites.” This will be the second SpaceX launch using a previously-flown first stage. (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


5 May 2017
Maiden Flight Of China’s First Domestic Jetliner Slated For Today

China-C919-AP-PurchasedThe Wall Street Journal reports that China is scheduled to conduct the maiden flight of its first domestically-developed large commercial jetliner, the C919. While Beijing hopes the plane will compete with offerings from The Boeing Company and Airbus, aviation analysts have said that the C919’s technology is more than a decade behind the rivals’ new models, and that China still faces the hurdles of setting up a global support network, financing sales, and the likelihood of absorbing losses on each plane sold. With Beijing setting modest targets for the jet, one analyst said that China may intend to use the C919 to gain a foothold to begin a decades-long push into the market with future models. (Image: China's home-grown C919 passenger jet taxis after landing on its maiden flight at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, Friday, May 5, 2017. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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5 May 2017
NASA Seeks Industry Partners For ISS Fabrication Lab

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAExecutiveBiz reports that NASA announced Thursday that it has issued a solicitation for industry partners to help the agency draft concepts for an in-space fabrication laboratory on the ISS to build materials for exploration missions. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs Jim Reuter said, “Having an integrated capability for on-demand manufacturing and repair of components and systems during space missions will be integral for sustainable exploration missions.” The solicitation was “issued as part of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration broad agency announcement.” (Image: International Space Station. Credit: NASA)
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4 May 2017
NASA Issues RFI For Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Systems

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginSpace News reports that NASA issued a request for information (RFI) Monday seeking details from US companies about current or planned capabilities to deliver payloads to the moon to meet the agency’s exploration, science and technology development requirements. The agency said that it will use the responses to craft a future request for proposals. Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen said, “Today’s call for ideas from our industry partners is an important step for us to continue lunar exploration and beyond.” Companies that could meet the agency’s needs include Blue Origin with its “Blue Moon” cargo ship concept and Lunar X Prize finalist Moon Express. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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4 May 2017
Company Granted First-Of-Its-Kind FAA Approval To Fly UAVs On Las Vegas Strip

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that aerospace and remote sensing services company AviSight has become the first firm to win FAA approval to fly UAVs on Las Vegas’ resort corridor, including the Strip. AviSight’s Vice President of Technology William O’Donnell said that the approval came this week after months of waiting, and that the company may begin flights this week or next week and eventually plans to do surveying work for construction projects. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said that “several entities” have permission to fly in the area, but AviSight can now “potentially fly in several locations adjacent to the Strip, while the other companies are generally limited to one location.” The FAA still must grant approval for each flight operation.
(Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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3 May 2017
Reusable Rocket Technology Has Opened “Window Of Opportunity” With US Air Force

SpaceXFalcon9Launch14Jan2017-AP-PurchasedArs Technica reports that NexGen Space President Charles Miller partnered with Air Force officers from Air University and former officials to study the prospects of low-cost access to space for the US military, concluding in a new “Fast Space” report that the Air Force and military can benefit from “commercial developments.” Miller said that progress by SpaceX and Blue Origin in developing reusable rockets caught the attention of the Air Force and “opened up a window of opportunity” for the service to use the technology. The report, which has been briefed to senior officials in recent months, concludes that the Air Force “can form private sector partnerships to create a virtuous cycle of launch cost reductions of between 3 and 10 times lower than today’s costs.” (Image: Space-X’s Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA on Saturday, 14 Jan., 2017. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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3 May 2017
NASA: Cassini Encountered Less Dust Than Expected In Gap Between Saturn, Rings

Cassini-NASAThe Los Angeles Times reports that NASA scientists said that Cassini flew through less dust than they had expected in the region between Saturn and its rings. The finding “is great news for the mission’s engineers, who worried that even a small piece of dust the size of a grain of sand could damage one of the spacecraft’s instruments as it made its first dive through the region last week.” William Kurth, a physicist at the University of Iowa and the team leader on Cassini’s Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument, “said it is still possible that there is some dust in this region, but it would have to be smaller than what his instrument can pick up.” Scientists were expected to gather more detailed data Tuesday by using the spacecraft’s Cosmic Dust Analyzer – which was shielded during the first dive for protection – during yesterday’s second scheduled dive. (Image: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA)
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2 May 2017
Virgin Galactic Completes First Test Flight Of SpaceShipTwo’s “Feather” Re-Entry System

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_PurchasedSPACE reports that Virgin Galactic on Monday conducted the first test flight of its second SpaceShipTwo, called VSS Unity, featuring a revamped “feather” atmospheric re-entry system designed to address issues revealed by the fatal 2014 crash that destroyed the original spaceship. The VSS Unity took flight carried by the White Knight Two carrier aircraft from the Mojave Air and Space Port, and was released at an altitude of 51,000 feet for the unpowered flight. Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said, “It was a great day here in Mojave.” The redesigned reentry system enables “a slower, safer plunge through the atmosphere.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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2 May 2017
Scientists Discuss Ways To Address Space Debris

NASA-Plotted-SpaceDebris-NASASPACE reports that Virgin Galactic on Monday conducted the first test flight of its second SpaceShipTwo, called VSS Unity, featuring a revamped “feather” atmospheric re-entry system designed to address issues revealed by the fatal 2014 crash that destroyed the original spaceship. The VSS Unity took flight carried by the White Knight Two carrier aircraft from the Mojave Air and Space Port, and was released at an altitude of 51,000 feet for the unpowered flight. Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said, “It was a great day here in Mojave.” The redesigned reentry system enables “a slower, safer plunge through the atmosphere.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (SPACE


1 May 2017
SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Payload For NRO

SpaceX-Falcon9-Launch-1May2017-AP-PurchasedUSA Today reports that SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Monday morning at 7:15 a.m. EDT, sending a classified National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload into orbit, the first “dedicated launch” for the NRO, and SpaceX’s fifth launch of 2017. Following the scrubbing of the initially planned launch a day earlier, Monday morning’s launch was followed by a successful touchdown of the Falcon’s first stage about nine minutes after liftoff at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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1 May 2017
China Plans To Begin Construction Of Permanently Manned Space Station In 2019

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAReuters reported that officials leading China’s project for a future permanent manned space station announced Friday that they plan to begin construction in 2019. The announcement followed the first successful refueling of its Tiangong-2 spacelab by a Tianzhou-1 cargo craft, completed Thursday. Project Supervisor Wang Zhaoyao, speaking during a news briefing, said, “According to our plans we will carry out the assembly and construction of China’s manned space station between 2019 and 2022.” (Image: International Space Station. Credit: NASA)
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28 April 2017
NASA Confirms Delay Of SLS Mission Following GAO Findings

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASAThe Verge reports that NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier confirmed Thursday that the agency has determined that the Space Launch System (SLS) will not be ready for launch in 2018, confirming “months of speculation” and recently-released findings by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Writing in response to the GAO report, Gerstenmaier said that the agency likely will push the inaugural flight to 2019, and plans to provide more details on scheduling in September. The GAO report concluded that the SLS, Orion capsule, and related ground systems would not be ready by next year, and recommended that NASA update Congress on scheduling. (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 April 2017
Favorable Weather Forecast For SpaceX’s NRO Launch Slated For Sunday

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAFlorida Today reports that the “weather looks good” for SpaceX’s launch of a “classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office” scheduled for Sunday from Kennedy Space Center. The US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron forecasts an 80 percent chance of favorable weather for the 7:00-9:00 a.m. EDT launch window. (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
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27 April 2017
US Test-Fires Minuteman III From Vandenberg AFB

MinutemanIII-Launch-USAF-April2017Fox News reports that early Wednesday morning, the US Air Force test-fired a Minuteman III missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The nuclear-capable missile “traveled over 4,000 miles before splashing down in the South Pacific.” (Image Credit: USAF)
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27 April 2017
FAA Issues Airspace Restrictions That Apply Only To UAVs

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APAviation Week reports that the FAA issued airspace restrictions that ban UAV flights “under 400 ft. AGL within the boundaries of 133 military facilities.” Aviation Week adds that the restrictions took effect April 14. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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26 April 2017
Boeing Close To Decision On MAX-10, Sources Say

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that according to unnamed sources, The Boeing Company is nearing a decision to produce the 737 MAX-10X variant. The company aims to unveil the new plane at the Paris Air Show in June and begin production in 2020, according to the sources. Asked to comment on the plans, “Boeing said no decision has been taken, and it’s too early to talk about launch.” According to the sources, Boeing is discussing the MAX-10X with airlines and expects to sell 1,000 of the jetliners to compete with strong sales of the Airbus A321neo. Travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt said that the MAX-10 would represent a “stop-gap in the Boeing product mix,” but would come “to market just as demand for aircraft has slowed.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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26 April 2017
DJI Unveils Goggles Enabling First-Person View For UAV Operation

DJI_Phantom4_APThe Daily Mail reports that DJI has unveiled a set of goggles designed to provide operators of its Mavic Pro with “a seamless bird’s eye view of the world in full HD,” according to the company. DJI Goggles, priced at $449, stream a live, full HD video feed from the $999 Mavic Pro’s cameras. Senior Product Manager Paul Pan said, “DJI pilots deserve a first-person viewing experience with the same quality, power, and performance they have come to expect from our aerial platforms.” The company plans to start shipping the goggles May 20. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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25 April 2017
USC Overcomes Crash To Win AIAA's Remote Aircraft Competition

USC-winning-teamTucson, Ariz. — University of Southern California students bounced back from a crash to eke out a win Sunday in the 2017 AAIA Design Build Fly contest, while a one-man team from India sparked a kind of international relief effort from dozens of fellow competitors. DBF, now in its 21st year, pits teams of undergraduate engineering students against each other for a weekend-long competition in which they must conceive and fly a remote controlled aircraft to meet a set of requirements unveiled in September. (Image: The University of Southern California team poses for a photo after winning the 2017 AIAA Design Build Fly competition. Credit: USC AeroDesign Team)
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DBF 2017 Photo Album


25 April 2017
Page-Backed Startup Unveils Prototype For Flying Car

KittyHawkFlyerCNN Money reports that Silicon Valley-based startup Kitty Hawk, backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, unveiled its “flying car” prototype Monday in a demonstration shared online. Kitty Hawk said that the FAA has approved the “Flyer” to operate in “uncongested areas.” The Flyer, which buyers will not need a pilot’s license to operate, is slated to go on sale this year. (Image Credit: Kitty Hawk via YouTube)
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25 April 2017
Boeing-Saab Team Flight-Tests Second T-X Trainer Aircraft

USAF_TXTrainers_WikiFlightGlobal reports that Boeing and Saab have completed the first flight of their second “production-ready” T-X trainer aircraft. The Boeing-Saab team is one of at least three competitors – alongside a Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace team and Leonardo DRS – that have submitted proposals for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer contract to replace the service’s T-38 fleet, scheduled for 2026. Matt Giese, Boeing test pilot for Air Force Programs, said, “The jet handled exactly like the first aircraft and the simulator, meeting all expectations.” (Image: USAF T-38 Talon, to be replaced by T-X program selection. Credit: SGT Jeffrey Allen, USAF, Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


24 April 2017
Northrop Grumman Dedicates New North Dakota UAV Facility

MQ-1-Predator-USAFAviation International News reported that RQ-4 Global Hawk maker Northrop Grumman officially opened its new UAV research, development, and training facility Saturday at the Grand Sky UAV business park in North Dakota. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems President Janis Pamiljans said that the 36,000-square-foot facility cements the “leadership” of the company – the first to sign a lease at Grand Sky in 2015 – in developing technology in partnership with North Dakota’s UAV community. General Atomics, which signed a 10-year lease at the business park, plans to open a flight-training academy there this spring. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt via Wikipedia)
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24 April 2017
NASA’s Cassini Slingshots Around Titan To Set Course For Final Dives

Cassini-NASAReuters reported that NASA’s Cassini spacecraft entered the final stage of its mission Saturday, using Titan’s gravity to slingshot itself into a new, slightly smaller orbit around Saturn that will send it on a series of 22 exploratory, “finale dives” passing just inside the planet’s rings. The spacecraft is scheduled to make the first dive on Wednesday. During the final dive set for September 15, the spacecraft “is slated to destroy itself by flying directly into Saturn’s crushing atmosphere.” The AP (4/21) reported that the dives “should allow scientists to measure the mass of the multiple rings – shedding light on how old they are and how they formed – and also to determine the composition of the countless ring particles.” Project Scientist Linda Spilker said, “Imagine the pictures we’re going to get back of Saturn’s rings.” (Image: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


20 April 2017
SpaceX’s NRO Launch To Mark Start Of New Era For Competition

MA370_LaurentErrera_WikiThe Orlando Sentinel reports that SpaceX’s upcoming launch of a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office under a DOD contract will usher in a “new area of competition” between the company and United Launch Alliance (ULA), which previously acted as the exclusive launch provider for national security payloads. Both companies launch from the Space Coast, and the competition “could mean more business for Florida.” Space Florida ‎Chief of Strategic Alliance Dale Ketcham said that “competition is a good thing,” explaining that it “will drive down prices and could result in it being cheaper to get into space, meaning more launches.” The launch is scheduled for no earlier than April 30. (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
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20 April 2017
Facebook Sets Radio Speed Record With Technology For Aquila UAV

Facebook_Aquila_Aircraft CNET News reports that Facebook has announced that it set a new radio speed record earlier this month with its MMW radio technology that the company plans to use on its Internet-beaming Aquila UAV. The tests, conducted with a Cessna aircraft, showed MMW “effectively quadrupling the download speeds” of current technologies. Yael Maguire, director of Facebook’s connectivity program, said, “This ground-to-air record modeled, for the first time, a real-life test of how this technology will be used.” Facebook plans to implement the technology onto Aquila UAVs to beam connections to 4.1 billion people not currently connected to the Internet. (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
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19 April 2017
US Surpasses Longest Period Without Manned Spaceflight

FinalLandingAtlantis-NASAArs Technica reports that former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale noted on Twitter Tuesday that the US has now surpassed its longest gap of no manned spaceflights since the first astronaut reached orbit. Hale highlighted that a total of 2,098 days have passed since Atlantis landed on July 21, 2011, surpassing the 2,089 days between the end of the Apollo program and the first space shuttle mission. Since the last shuttle mission, NASA has relied on Russia to ferry astronauts to the ISS. According to Ars Technica, “the latest and longest gap in US spaceflight activities should close within two years or less” thanks to private companies such as SpaceX and Boeing developing crewed launch platforms and NASA’s Space Launch System. (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 April 2017
Malaysia Airlines Signs Agreement For Satellite Tracking Of Aircraft

MA370_LaurentErrera_Wiki Bloomberg News reports that Malaysia Airlines “has become the first airline to sign an agreement for space-based flight tracking of its aircraft,” reaching a deal with Aireon, SITAONAIR and FlightAware for monitoring everywhere on Earth. Malaysia Airlines COO Izham Ismail said, “Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community. ... We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution.” Aireon is working with Iridium Communications to launch a new satellite network, expected to be completed by next year, to monitor air traffic through ADS-B transmissions. (Image Credit: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons)
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17 April 2017
Commercial UAV Boom Creates Opportunity For Mechanics

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe AP reported that the boom in commercial UAVs is creating a rising demand for repairs, presenting an opportunity for mechanics looking to specialize in a growing market and existing shops open to adding another business line. Some community colleges are now offering programs specializing in UAV repair, and companies are establishing more dedicated repair stations. Robotic Skies already operates more than 120 service stations for higher-end UAVs and has plans for more, while the Grand Sky UAV business park is considering building a repair depot for medium and large UAVs, the latter of which currently can be repaired only on military bases. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)


17 April 2017
NASA To Provide 360-Degree View Of This Week’s Cygnus Launch

Cygnus-on-launchpad-NASAThe Baltimore Sun reported that NASA announced Friday that it will broadcast a live 360-degree view of the Orbital ATK Cygnus launch scheduled for Tuesday. The mission, Orbital ATK’s seventh to resupply the ISS under a 10-flight contract with NASA, has faced multiple delays since its originally-scheduled March 27 launch date due to issues with ground support systems and booster hydraulics. NASA’s live broadcast on its YouTube channel will let viewers control the camera perspective of the launch. (Image Credit: NASA)
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14 April 2017
NASA’s Search For Life On Europa, Enceladus Just Got Easier

Enceladus_NASA-CassiniNASA on Thursday said data collected by the Cassini spacecraft show a strong possibility that the ocean beneath the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus is capable of supporting microbial life. Also, images of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa taken by the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that at least one geyser could exist there too, offering a potential target for the planned Europa Clipper mission when it flies by during its orbiting of the gas giant. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)
More Info (Aerospace America)


14 April 2017
Boeing 737 MAX-9 Makes Maiden Flight

Boeing737MaxBloomberg News reports that The Boeing Company conducted the maiden flight of its 737 MAX-9 variant Thursday, completing the milestone five days ahead of schedule. USA Today reports that the plane flew for nearly three hours, taking off from Boeing’s Renton, Washington, assembly line facility and landing at Seattle’s Boeing Field. The Boeing MAX-9 now will begin testing for certification. Boeing’s first MAX variant, the shorter 737 MAX-8, “is expected to begin flying passengers for commercial airlines within the next few months.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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14 April 2017
SSL Begins Work On DARPA Satellite Servicing Program

Satellite-Servicing-NASAWashington Technology reports that a day after expanding its Government Systems executive team, Space Systems Loral (SSL) announced that it has finalized a contract with DARPA to perform work for the agency’s robotic satellite servicing program, which Orbital ATK has sued to halt. SSL Vice President of Washington Operations Mike Gold said, “We are pleased and proud to begin work on this critical program to ensure that the U.S. becomes a global leader in satellite servicing.” Orbital ATK claimed in its lawsuit that the agency is subsidizing development of the technology for SSL, which eventually will own the intellectual property. DARPA filed a motion for dismissal Tuesday, and the US District Court for Virginia’s Eastern District is scheduled to hold a hearing on the case May 5. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 April 2017
Airbus CEO Enders: Aerospace Industry On Brink Of “Third Revolution

AirbusA320Neo_AP_PurchasedAFP reports that Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in an interview that the global aerospace sector is on the cusp of a “third revolution” enabled by technological breakthroughs. Speaking to AFP on the sidelines of an Airbus annual general assembly in Amsterdam, Enders said, “I do genuinely believe that we are at a point where those technological changes and breakthroughs in electric propulsion, autonomous flight, artificial intelligence, machine learning, new materials, all come together, plus the data usage, (and) will be nothing less than a third revolution in aerospace.” He stressed that Airbus is playing a role in the advances, saying, “Overall we are investing much more in innovation and digitalisation than we’ve done in previous years. ... It’s inevitable to prepare for the future.” (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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13 April 2017
Cygnus Freighter Slated To Make ISS Delivery Next Week

Cygnus-on-launchpad-NASASpaceflight Now reports that an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vessel is scheduled to launch Tuesday on a delivery mission to the ISS. The spacecraft, carrying nearly 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs) of scientific supplies and hardware, will launch from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. Among the new research equipment is an experiment intended to test how an antibody-drug conjugates in microgravity, another one that “aims to grow a new type of scintillator crystal for use in portable radiation detectors,” and an Advanced Plant Habitat. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


12 April 2017
US Air Force To Base New Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operations In Nevada

MQ-9ReaperThe Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the US Air Force will establish remotely piloted aircraft services at Nevada airfields under a recently-announced $3.6 billion contract awarded to URS Federal Services. URS was contracted to “provide testing, tactics development, advanced training, (and) Joint and Air Force urgent operational need missions” until 2034 at locations including the Nevada Test and Training Range, Creech Air Force Base and the Tonopah Test Range Airfield. Nevada UAS Test Site Director Chris Walach welcomed the news, saying, “Any time you’re bringing in contracts to the state of Nevada, the aviation industry benefits.” (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
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12 April 2017
SpaceX Slated To Launch Classified NRO Mission This Month

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAThe New York Observer reports that it has received an email indicating that SpaceX is scheduled to “launch a classified payload to support clandestine activities for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)” on April 30 from Kennedy Space Center. The launch, not listed on the company’s customer manifest, represents “the first time the company is exclusively launching a classified payload for the NRO,” which previously used United Launch Alliance for launches. An NRO spokesperson said that the office is “anticipating the possibility of SpaceX supporting additional missions based on future competitions.” (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
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11 April 2017
US Air Force Contracts Private Company To Research UAV Noise Characteristics

Drone_Over_Neighborhood_AP_PurchasedMilitary Embedded Systems reports that as part of its effort to develop sound regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing/Airman Systems Directorate/Battlespace Acoustics Branch has reached a cooperative agreement with composite-systems company Owens Corning for the development of “best practices for measuring and labeling the sound produced” by small UAVs. The results “will be used to develop a national standard.” The company will record measurements in its acoustic library, while the Air Force will provide open-air testing at the White Sands Missile Range site in New Mexico. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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11 April 2017
Boeing Could Cut Cost Of 787 By $3M Through 3-D Printing Deal

Dreamliner-BoeingReuters reports that 3-D printing company Norsk Titanium AS said Monday that its technology could help The Boeing Company shave $2 million to $3 million from the cost of each new 787 Dreamliner through savings on expensive traditional forging and machining. For more than a year, Norsk has worked with Boeing to develop four 3-D printed titanium parts for the 787. Norsk Vice President of Marketing Chip Yates said that the company expects FAA certification of its processes later this year, which will “open up the floodgates” and enable Norsk to print thousands of different 787 parts without obtaining separate approvals. (Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Reuters) More Info (Military Embedded Systems)


10 April 2017
FAA Announces UAS Ban Over 133 US Military Bases

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsOn Friday, the FAA announced a ban on all unauthorized UAS operations over 133 US military bases, reflecting growing concern among top military, government, and industry officials that military facilities could become a prime target for malicious actors. The ban, agreed upon between the FAA and the Defense Department, takes effect on Friday, April 14. Reuters reported that aside from military bases, Federal officials also worry that airports or large venues such as stadiums could become the targets of hostile drone operations. According to Reuters, the FAA also is weighing whether to restrict UAS operation over other Federal buildings related to security or intelligence, having already banned all UAS operation in the Special Flight Rules Area centered around Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
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10 April 2017
Musk: SpaceX Could Reuse Every Major Rocket Component By Next Year

Falcon9Descends_Jan2016_WikimediaCommonsFortune reports that SpaceX founder Elon Musk said Friday that he plans for the company to reuse all major components of Falcon 9 rockets by late next year. The benefits derived from reusing the first-stage booster - as SpaceX successfully achieved for the first time in a launch last month - “would only be amplified by full reusability, which would leave fuel - at $200,000-$300,000 per mission - as the primary material cost for launches,” which currently cost $61.2 million each. (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
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7 April 2017
Siemens’ Battery-Powered Plane Breaks Electric-Flight Speed Record

SiemensExtra330LEThe Daily Mail reports that Siemens’ Extra 330LE battery-powered plane “has hit a new speed record for electric flight,” reaching more than 210mph in a test-flight last month in Germany. For the flight, the 330LE - a test model for Siemens’ electric propulsion development - used a “powerful electric motor that weighed just 50 kilograms [110 pounds],” with 260 kW of power output, to exceed the previous record by 8.4mph. While electric aircraft still face a long road to commercial viability, Siemens Executive Vice President and head of eAircraft Frank Anton said, “By 2030, we expect to see the first planes carrying up to 100 passengers and having a range of about 1,000 km [621 mi].” (Image Credit: Siemens)
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6 April 2017
US Naval Research Laboratory Planning Swarming Tests For CICADA UAV

NRL-Developed-microUAV-USNavyIHS Jane’s 360 reports that a US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) spokesman said Wednesday that the laboratory is planning swarming tests for its palm-sized Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) MK5 from a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft, which will deploy the UAVs from a single canister. Speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, the spokesman explained that the CICADA’s self-stabilization capability using spin recovery maneuvers has been tested in a wind tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center, where NRL has delivered 150 of the UAVs. (Image Credit: US Navy)
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6 April 2017
SpaceX’s Shotwell: Reused Falcon 9 Boosters To Return Increasing Savings

Falcon9Descends_Jan2016_WikimediaCommonsSpace News reports that at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Wednesday that the cost of refurbishing the recovered Falcon 9 first stage used in last week’s launch “was substantially less than half” the cost of a new booster, and that the company expects greater savings for future launches as it increases refurbishment efficiencies. “We did way more on this one than we’re doing on future ones, of course,” she explained, reiterating that the company’s goal is “to refly a rocket within 24 hours. That’s when we’ll really feel like we’ve got reusability right.” Shotwell also noted that a payload fairing - which founder Elon Musk has said costs $6 million - recovered from the launch “looked pretty good.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
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5 April 2017
Roscosmos Chief Open To Extending ISS Partnership

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAReuters reports that Roscosmos General Director Igor Komarov said Tuesday that Russia is “ready to discuss” extending the international partnership supporting the ISS beyond 2024, when the program is currently slated to end. Speaking at the US Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Komarov said, “I think that we need to prolong our cooperation in low-Earth orbit because we haven’t resolved all the issues and problems that we face now.” A US House of Representatives panel that oversees NASA has begun studying whether to extend ISS funding or use that money to accelerate other human space initiatives. (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 April 2017
ULA Reschedules Cygnus Launch For 18 April

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASpace News reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced Monday that it has rescheduled the launch of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a Cygnus spacecraft for April 18. The company said that it had formulated a plan to resolve a booster hydraulics issue that delayed the launch of the OA-7 mission, which was originally scheduled for late March. (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 April 2017
Aviation Community Still Deadlocked Over New Flight-Data Recording Technology

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsThe Wall Street Journal reports that a dispute pitting The Boeing Company and the FAA against Airbus Group and European regulators has deadlocked implementation of new flight-data recorder technology to supplement or replace current “black boxes.” Airbus and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have indicated support for adopting deployable recorders already used in military applications, but Boeing has contended that the technology is unnecessary given the number of jetliner crashes. Last year, the FAA moved closer to supporting Boeing’s position - calling deployable recorders “redundant and economically burdensome” - as it waited to see whether the EASA would issue a mandate, which the agency has not. (Image Credit: )
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3 April 2017
Boeing Completes Successful Maiden Flight Of 787-10

Dreamliner-Boeing-2USA Today reported that The Boeing Company conducted a successful maiden flight Friday of its 787-10 Dreamliner from its North Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant. Boeing currently has 149 orders for the newest and largest Dreamliner variant, and “hopes to start delivering the 787-10s to airlines in 2018.” (Image: Boeing 787-10. Credit: Boeing)
More Info (USA Today)


31 March 2017
Musk Shares Updates On Falcon Heavy

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAArs Technica reports that following SpaceX’s successful launch of a reusable Falcon 9 booster last Thursday, founder Elon Musk provided several updates on the development of the Falcon Heavy rocket. He confirmed that a demonstration launch is slated for “late summer,” but he acknowledged that completing the current manifest of Falcon 9 missions remains the company’s highest priority. “Perhaps the biggest tidbit” shared by Musk was that the company may try to recover the upper stage, which “would essentially allow SpaceX to recycle an entire rocket.” Musk tweeted, “Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot.” Musk also said that developing the Falcon Heavy has proven “crazy hard,” and, speculating what the rocket could carry on its maiden flight, said, “Silliest thing we can imagine!” (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Ars Technica)


31 March 2017
SpaceX Makes Aerospace History With Launch and Landing of Used Rocket

SpaceXFalcon9Launch_feb2017-NASAThe New York Times reports that on Thursday, SpaceX successfully “launched a commercial satellite into space” from Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket that had previously been used, “a feat that may open an era of cheaper space travel.” The company reused a Falcon 9 first stage, or booster, to power the launch, before landing the rocket on a “floating platform in the Atlantic.” The Times notes that the booster “could conceivably launch again, since it returned in one piece.” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the booster “did this mission perfectly. It dropped off the second stage, came back and landed on the drone ship, right in the bulls-eye,” adding that the accomplishment “means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 March 2017
FAA Considering DJI’s Electronic ID Concept

DJI_Phantom4_APFox News reports that the FAA is considering UAS manufacturer DJI’s concept for an electronic ID system for small devices as a way to identify UAV operators. According to Fox News, DJI suggests that UAV operators “should use the radio equipment already on board most systems to transmit a unique registration number” and that number would ID the operator to “law enforcement in the event of a complaint or flight through a restricted area.” Fox News adds that DJI’s idea has been submitted to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which is a group responsible for collecting ideas on possible ID systems. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)


30 March 2017
Experts Warn Satellites Are Increasingly Vulnerable To Foreign Threat

GPS_Sat_NASAUSA Today reports that House lawmakers heard Wednesday from experts about “the vulnerability of U.S. commercial satellites” to foreign threats. Former US Air Force Space Command Director Gen. William Shelton, USAF (Ret.), said communications, imaging, weather, and GPS satellites are increasingly susceptible to foreign interference because many adversaries “have developed a full quiver of these methods, ranging from satellite signal jamming to outright destruction of satellites via a kill vehicle, such as that successfully tested by China in 2007.” He added that “the pace of these counterspace efforts appears to be accelerating, and the impact of the use of counterspace capabilities likely would be felt by all sectors of the space community.” According to former Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Joseph Nimmich, losing satellite capability would devastate the agency’s efforts, particularly in crises and in areas especially vulnerable to natural disaster. (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (USA Today)


29 March 2017
SpaceX Preps For Historic Rocket Launch With Reused Booster Thursday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASAThe Wall Street Journal reports that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is scheduled to launch the first liquid-fueled rocket to be powered by reused engines on Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company has repurposed the Falcon 9’s lower stage engines and hopes to demonstrate that “flight-proven” engines can be reused, which they say will help facilitate inexpensive space travel. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


29 March 2017
NASA Faces Tough Choice Between ISS, SLS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAQuartz reports that NASA may have to choose between maintaining the ISS and continuing a “$23 billion and growing program to develop a huge new deep-space rocket and spacecraft to carry humans to the moon and beyond.” Former NASA and Lockheed Martin executive A. Thomas Young said in February that “about half of the current [NASA] budget is allocated to low-Earth orbit endeavors” and half to “human exploration which includes [the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket] and Orion [spacecraft],” opining that “a $4.5 billion annual budget is clearly inadequate for a credible human exploration program” and warning that “a choice must be made and made soon between [low-Earth orbit] and exploration.” Quartz notes that “the decision won’t be made this year” and “most independent experts” agree “that the budget does not meaningfully change the balance Young described between supporting the ISS and its commercial programs, and funding the deep-space exploration budget."
More Info (Quartz)


28 March 2017
DJI: UAVs Should Transmit Identifier For Security

DJI_Phantom4_APAP reports that in a paper released on Monday, DJI argued that continual transmission of an identification code by unmanned aircraft could help to address governments’ security concerns while safeguarding operators’ privacy. DJI suggested that the system could be developed using existing technology, and an attorney for the company equated the transmitted codes to license plates. Also on Monday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the agency will create an advisory committee to make recommendations regarding remote UAV tracking and to facilitate discussions on security between government agencies and the commercial UAV industry. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Associated Press)


28 March 2017
Juno Makes Fifth Close Flyby Of Jupiter

Juno_NASASPACE reports that on Monday morning, NASA’s Juno spacecraft completed its fifth close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft’s JunoCam took close-up color photos of the planet, and all eight of its science instruments were active and collecting data. NASA scientists said that they expect to publish new papers using data from the first flybys within the next four months. (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (SPACE)


27 March 2017
US Air Force’s X-37B Sets New Earth-Orbiting Record

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFFlorida Today reports that on Saturday, the US Air Force’s classified X-37B space plane surpassed its own record for the longest time spent orbiting Earth by a spacecraft, reaching 675 days, having eclipsed the 674-day mark set by its predecessor, OTV-3, in October 2014. Officials have not confirmed when the X-37B will land, but the article notes that it is expected to do so at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), which would mark the first landing at KSC since the final space shuttle landing in 2011. (Image Credit: USAF)
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27 March 2017
SpaceX’s First Launch Of Recovered Booster Slated For Wednesday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASAUSA Today reported that SpaceX is scheduled to conduct its first launch using a “flight proven” booster this Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center. The reusable Falcon 9 first-stage booster to be used in the launch successfully landed on a ship last April. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)


24 March 2017
Records Show FAA Has Granted 314 Special-Use Permits For UAV Flights

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedUSA Today reports that since the agency issued its new comprehensive rules for UAVs last year, the FAA has granted 314 special permits, including - with some overlap - 306 for flying at night, 11 for flying multiple UAVs at once, three for flying beyond-line-of-sight, and several for other situations. Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) CEO Brian Wynne said that the numbers show the expanding applications for UAVs, and underscore the need for the FAA to issue new regulations allowing flights in such circumstances without special permits. He claimed that doing so would benefit the economy. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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24 March 2017
NASA Officials Praise Funding Levels For Planetary Science

NASA-Planetary-Science-NASASpace News reports that at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference earlier this week, NASA officials praised the 16 percent increase in funding for planetary science programs proposed by the White House’s budget blueprint released last week. NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green called the $1.9 billion funding level “historic,” noting that “we’ve never had a proposed budget this high.” Green said that the agency will wait until budget details are released in May to determine and comment on timelines for specific projects. Green said little about the $100 million in cuts to the agency’s Earth science program. (Image Credit: NASA)
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23 March 2017
NASA: Laser System Could “Revolutionize” Space Communications

LCRD-NASAPhys provides an update on NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) program, which aims to develop much higher data rates for communications between Earth and spacecraft in near-orbit and deep space. LCRD recently entered its integration and test phase and is scheduled to launch in 2019 for two to five years of testing. NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that the “technology has the potential to revolutionize space communications.” The agency is working with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the US Air Force on the project. (Image Credit: NASA)
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23 March 2017
Southern California Aerospace Industry Could See “Major Windfall” From Defense Budget

F35-LukeAFB_USAF-WikipediaThe Los Angeles Times reports that Southern California’s defense and aerospace industry “could get a major windfall” from President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. The defense spending increase could help revitalize the industry in the region, which has seen aerospace-related jobs decline from 273,000 in 1990 to 92,000 today. According to experts, the blueprint request “would flush federal dollars to hundreds of Pentagon contractors” in Southern California, including 240 for the F-35 alone. The F-35’s fuselage is produced by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, and General Atomics produces Gray Eagle UAVs in Poway. (Image: F-35 Lightning II. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann via Wikimedia Commons)
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22 March 2017
FAA Predicts UAVs To Increase Dramatically By 2021

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APReuters reports that on Tuesday, the FAA predicted that the number of UAVs in the US “will jump dramatically over the next five years.” The agency forecast that the number of hobbyist UAVs will more than triple to 3.5 million by 2021, the number of commercial UAVs will increase almost ten-fold to 441,000, and that the number of UAV pilots will increase by a multiple of 10 to 20. The FAA attributed the difference in hobbyist and commercial UAV growth rates to “how quickly the regulatory environment will evolve, enabling more widespread routine uses of (drones) for commercial purposes.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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22 March 2017
FAA Predicts Substantial Growth In Aviation Industry

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsAir Transport World reports that the FAA released its annual Aerospace Forecast for fiscal years 2017-2037, and forecast that the US will see a “competitive and profitable aviation industry characterized by increasing demand for air travel [with] airfares growing more slowly than inflation” over the next two decades. According to the report, the FAA projected that “traffic growth by US mainline and regional carriers will increase at an average rate of 2.4% per year,” while “passenger growth on US carriers will increase at an average 1.9% per year.” (Image Credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
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21 March 2017
Airlines For America Forecasts Record Number Of Fliers This Spring

AmericanAirlinesThe Washington Post reports that Airlines for America has issued its spring travel forecast, which predicts that a record 145 million travelers - a 4 percent increase from 2016 - will fly in March and April. To accommodate the expected demand, US airlines are adding 110,000 seats per day during the period. (Image Credit: Sergey Kustov via Wikipedia)
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21 March 2017
Iridium Builds Satellites Capable Of Continuously Tracking Airplanes Worldwide

Iridium-satellite-artistImpression-IridiumPopular Science reports that Iridium has built 66 satellites that will be able to “continuously track airplanes’ position, speed, and altitude across the entire globe.” The company launched ten of those satellites in January, and two of them started sending back data a few weeks ago. Still, the “network won’t be operational until the end of 2018 at the earliest.” (Image: Iridium satellite constellation. Credit: Iridium)
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20 March 2017
ULA Successfully Launches Delta IV Carrying WGS-9 Military Satellite

ULA-DeltaIV-Rollout-NASAThe Daily Mail reported that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is only days away from breaking its own mission-duration mark. The Boeing-built aircraft will break its endurance record of 674 days on March 25 if it remains in orbit, but with secrecy surrounding plans for the space plane, “it’s unknown if it will hit this milestone.” The current milestone was set in October 2014. (Image Credit: USAF)
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20 March 2017
US Air Force’s X-37B Days Away From Setting Endurance Mark

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFThe Daily Mail reported that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is only days away from breaking its own mission-duration mark. The Boeing-built aircraft will break its endurance record of 674 days on March 25 if it remains in orbit, but with secrecy surrounding plans for the space plane, “it’s unknown if it will hit this milestone.” The current milestone was set in October 2014. (Image Credit: USAF)
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17 March 2017
Canada Issues New Rules For Recreational UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe Globe and Mail reports that Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau has announced new “rigorous rules,” effective immediately, governing the use of recreational UAVs. The safety restrictions forbid UAV operation within nine miles of any airport, within 75 meters of buildings, vehicles or people, at night, or near emergency scenes. Garneau, pointing to the recent increase in UAV incidents, said, “When there is a significant risk to aviation, I have the power to issue an immediate measure until new regulations can be enacted. And that is what I have done.” Garneau noted that the government plans to propose new unmanned aircraft regulations in June. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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16 March 2017
SpaceX Launches EchoStar 23 Satellite

SpaceX-Launch-Feb2017-APSPACE reports that early this morning, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the EchoStar 23 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Space Systems/Loral-built satellite is “near the limit of the booster’s capability,” and due to its weight and orbit demands SpaceX decided not to attempt a powered descent and landing of the booster. (Image: In this image from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. NASA TV via AP)
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16 March 2017
DJI Releases Study Showing UAVs Have Saved 59 Lives

DJI_Phantom4Digital Trends reports that on Tuesday, DJI released a study that found that UAVs “have rescued at least 59 people from life-threatening conditions in 18 separate incidents” since 2013. The study was based on an analysis of news reports and determined that rescues using UAVs are quickly accelerating, with 39 of the 59 occurring in 2016 and 2017. DJI notes that “professional rescue crews are just beginning to adopt” UAVs. The study included only confirmed, published reports, and “DJI suggests the actual number is much higher.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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15 March 2017
AIAA Supporting NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

HumanExpRover2016Winners_NASALive Trading News reports that on March 30, NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge will host 100 high school and college teams from across the world at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for an engineering design competition to construct human-powered rovers. The event challenges teams to design and build rovers for a race on a three-quarter-mile obstacle course. Major corporate sponsors for the challenge include The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, while “other contributors” include the AIAA Greater Huntsville Section, SAIC and Orbital ATK. (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 March 2017
US Air Force Evaluating Use Of Small UAVs For Maintenance Inspections

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsAviation International News reports that last week, the US Air Force revealed that it is evaluating the use of small UAVs for aircraft maintenance inspections and other applications. In the most recent demonstration, a new “emerging technologies combined test force” at Edwards Air Force Base demonstrated the capabilities of the 3DR Solo quadcopter in inspecting a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. UAVs could cut the time required for external inspections from an hour to several minutes. The Air Force said that the inspection demonstration and an earlier test using a UAV to calibrate telemetry antennas were both promising. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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14 March 2017
Xinhua: Boeing’s China Plant To Deliver 100 737s Per Year

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that according to the state-run Xinhua news agency, The Boeing Company plans for its new 737 completion plant in China to deliver 100 jetliners per year at full production. Citing sources from the Zhoushan aviation park where the plant will be located, Xinhua said that construction of the facility will begin at the end of this month, with the first delivery expected in 2018. As Boeing’s first 737 completion plant outside of the US, the factory will be operated in partnership with the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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13 March 2017
SpaceX Slated For Tuesday Falcon 9 Launch Following Test Fire

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASASPACE reported that SpaceX remains on track for its scheduled Tuesday launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a EchoStar 23 satellite following a successful test fire on Thursday. Previously, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that the company will not attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster following launch due to EchoStar 23’s weight and transfer altitude. The slated launch will be SpaceX’s second from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 March 2017
ULA Rocket Issue Delays Launch Of Orbital ATK Cygnus Carrying ISS Cargo

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASPACE reported that on Friday, NASA announced that the launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship scheduled for March 19 has been delayed at least two days due to a “booster hydraulic issue” found during an inspection of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The Cygnus ship is loaded with 7,600 pounds of cargo for the ISS and the launch represents Orbital ATK’s seventh ISS delivery mission for NASA using Cygnus. (Image: ULA Atlas 5 rocket launch. Credit: NASA)
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10 March 2017
US Air Force On Track To Close SpaceX Explosion Investigation Next Month

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-PurchasedBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that tourism “is going to be a real driver of our technology” in the space industry, just as entertainment has driven electronics innovations. While he announced Blue Origin’s first contract, Bezos indicated that he would continue his significant personal investment in space even as revenues start flowing to the company. He said that starting Amazon was “a lottery winning for me,” and that he is “taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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9 March 2017
Bezos: Tourism to Drive Space Technology

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that tourism “is going to be a real driver of our technology” in the space industry, just as entertainment has driven electronics innovations. While he announced Blue Origin’s first contract, Bezos indicated that he would continue his significant personal investment in space even as revenues start flowing to the company. He said that starting Amazon was “a lottery winning for me,” and that he is “taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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9 March 2017
US Air Force UAV Pilots Now Outnumber Manned Aircraft Counterparts

MQ-1-Predator-USAFInside Defense reports that on Thursday, a US Air Force official said that next month, the service plans to conclude its investigation into the September explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The Air Force has been conducting its own probe into the incident, and Commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in an email that preliminary findings concur with SpaceX’s own conclusion, released in January, that the explosion originated from a pressure vessel carrying cold helium. The Falcon 9 is one of three launch vehicles certified by the Air Force to fly Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Class missions, and SpaceX is contracted to fly the first GPS III satellite for the Air Force by next year. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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8 March 2017
Bezos Announces Blue Origin’s First Commercial Customer

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos announced that Blue Origin has signed Eutelsat Communications as its first client, marking the space company’s entrance into the commercial satellite market. Under undisclosed terms, Eutelsat “purchased one launch” on a Blue Origin New Glenn orbital rocket scheduled to launch in 2021. Bezos said that “Eutelsat was very interested right away” when Blue Origin began approaching customers several months ago. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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8 March 2017
Boeing Planning New Mid-Range Jetliner Dubbed the 797

Dreamliner-Boeing-2The Wall Street Journal reports that according to industry executives speaking Tuesday at the ISTAT (International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading) annual conference, The Boeing Company is marketing an all-new midrange commercial jet intended to fill the market range between the 737 and 787. United Continental Holdings CFO Andrew Levy said that the carrier was surprised to see that Boeing favors a twin-aisle design. Many customers had expected Boeing to opt for a single-aisle design for the concept, which Air Lease Corp. CEO Steven Udvar-Házy said that Boeing had named the 797. The plane would enter service in 2024 or 2025 if Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg decides to pursue development. (Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Boeing)
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7 March 2017
Orbital ATK Schedules Cygnus Cargo Flight to ISS for March 19

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASPACE reports that Orbital ATK “is targeting March 19” for its next Cygnus cargo flight to the ISS. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the craft is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral during a 30-minute window. The Cygnus’ 7,500 pounds of cargo includes supplies, equipment for experiments, and 38 cubesats, four of which “will deploy directly from the Cygnus craft during the flight.” Experiments include the “largest plant-growth system” ever to reach the ISS, a test examining how cancer-fighting drugs work in microgravity, and an experiment that uses “magnets to study cell cultures as they grow into 3D shapes in microgravity.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 March 2017
Boeing Releases First Images Of 737 MAX-10

Boeing737MaxAviation Week reports that on Monday at the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Americas convention in San Diego, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth unveiled the first image of the company’s proposed 737 MAX-10X jetliner and confirmed that the company has begun making firm offers to customers for the variant. Tinseth claimed that the 737-10X will have “the lowest seat costs ever for a single-aisle airplane” and would be the “most profitable single-aisle airplane the industry has ever seen.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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6 March 2017
Bezos Expected to Reveal Further Blue Origin Plans This Week

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginThe Wall Street Journal reports that according to industry officials, Amazon Chairman Jeff Bezos plans to announce this week several updates on Blue Origin. Those sources said that Bezos could disclose new initiatives, further details about the company’s reusable rockets, and, for the first time, the names of specific customers. Bezos - who is scheduled to speak at SATELLITE 2017 in Washington, DC, on Tuesday - is expected to reveal the news through a series of announcements and Twitter posts. They will follow last week’s story reported in the Washington Post - which Bezos owns - about his bid to win NASA support for cargo missions to the moon enabling a permanent lunar settlement. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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6 March 2017
SpaceX, NASA Collaborating, Not Launching New “Space Race

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAThe Los Angeles Times reports that while SpaceX founder Elon Musk last week announced plans for a 2018 lunar flyby eclipsing NASA’s timetable for its own mission, “that doesn’t mean they’ve launched a new space race.” Rather, SpaceX’s success is “validation of the public-private partnership envisioned” by the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984. Following Musk’s announcement, NASA said that it is “changing the way it does business through its commercial partnerships,” in part to “free” the agency to concentrate on deep space. American University Professor Howard McCurdy said that under the model, “NASA is at the point of a spear” in exploration, while NASA Division Director for Commercial Spaceflight Development Phil McAlister said that “moving human presence deeper into space is going to require the best of NASA and the private sector.” Credit: NASA)
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3 March 2017
Boeing Sets 737 MAX-9 Rollout For March 7

Boeing737MaxFlightGlobal reported that Boeing has scheduled the public debut of its 737 MAX-9 for March 7 in Renton, Washington, keeping the project on track for an April maiden flight and entry into service by 2018. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 March 2017
China’s Newest Combat UAV Makes Maiden Flight

ChineseDrones_AP-Images.jpgDefense News reports that on Wednesday, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) announced that its Wing Loong II, China’s latest-generation military UAV, made its maiden flight on Monday. The UAV has a 67-foot wingspan, can stay airborne for 20 hours, and can carry a payload of more than 1,000 pounds - far more than the 220-pound payload of its predecessor. “State media say the drone should become a leading export item for China,” and on its website, AVIC said that the flight “allows China to follow the U.S. in producing a new generation of integrated surveillance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles.” (Image: In this Oct. 1, 2009 file photo, a truck loaded with the Chinese made drone, the ASN-207, takes part in a military parade marking China’s 60th anniversary. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 March 2017
Prospects for Space Tourism Examined

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASA2 March 2017
On its website, USA Today features a video examining the prospects for space tourism following SpaceX’s announcement that it will send two private citizens on a flight to the moon in 2018. While SpaceX founder Elon Musk did not reveal how much the passengers will pay for the opportunity, the video states that they should “be prepared to pay a premium.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2017
NASA’s Supersonic Jet Designed to Reduce Sonic Boom.

NASA-X-PlaneUSA Today features a video about NASA’s supersonic passenger jet X-PLANE project, which “some people are calling the new Concorde.” The aircraft, which could fly people between London and New York City in three hours, is designed to be quieter than past supersonic jets and creates a sonic “heartbeat” rather than a sonic “boom.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2017
ADF Planning To “Significantly Increase” UAV Fleet

AeroVironment-Wasp-USAF-wikipediaIHS Jane’s 360 reports that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) plans “to significantly increase” the number of UAVs in its fleet. The force currently operates Textron Systems’ Shadow and IAI’s Heron, and is also evaluating AeroVironment’s Wasp, Prox Dynamics’ Black Hornet, and Schiebel’s S100 rotary-wing platform. The ADF program office has said that it intends to supply a Black Hornet system to each army section, and indicated that costs would be reduced as the volume of its purchases increases. (Image Credit: USAF via Wikipedia)
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28 February 2017
Efforts Seek To Map Space Debris Threatening Low-Orbit Commercialization

SpaceJunk-NASABloomberg News reports that the “cosmic junkyard” of space debris in low-Earth orbit “poses an existential risk” for further commercialization of space. Now, some companies are endeavoring to map the detritus to help companies avoid objects. LeoLabs announced Monday that it has opened a second radar center for tracking debris, and its CEO Dan Ceperley said that commercial space “is growing so rapidly we really have to run quickly to keep up.” The US Defense Department has acted as “the most authoritative tracker” of space debris and shares its data on 20,000 orbital objects, but Ceperley explained that a market is currently developing for richer, customized tracking. Separately, the US Air Force has contracted with Lockheed Martin for a $1 billion “Space Fence” radar system designed to track up to 200,000 objects, which is scheduled to become operational late next year. (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 February 2017
Facebook to Increase Frequency of Aquila UAV Test Flights

FacebookUAV2_YouTubeBloomberg News reports that Facebook plans to step up test flights for its experimental Aquila UAV, a solar-powered, high-altitude glider featuring “a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737.” The company conducted its first test flight of the massive UAV in June last year, during which the aircraft “suffered a ‘structural failure’ as it was coming in for landing.” At the Mobile World Congress on Monday, Facebook head of Engineering and Infrastructure Jay Parikh said, “We learned a lot, from data, to how it turned, how it handled, and the battery performance. But we need to fly a lot more and more regularly.” The UAV is part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s drive to find “new ways to connect...much of the world’s population to the internet.” (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
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27 February 2017
US Air Force Announces It Will Retire MQ-1 Predator Next Year

MQ-1-Predator-USAFUPI reported that last week, the US Air Force announced that it will retire its fleet of MQ-1 Predator UAVs in 2018 and complete its transition to an all-MQ-9 Reaper fleet. The MQ-1 has been in service for 21 years. Both systems are built by General Atomics. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt via Wikipedia)
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27 February 2017
Long-Delayed James Webb Space Telescope Nearing Launch

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASAThe Washington Post reported on the development of NASA’s long-delayed $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which still faces extensive testing and a long trip to French Guiana for a scheduled October 2018 launch before it can begin observations in April 2019 - a full quarter century after it was conceived. The instrument became known as the telescope that ate astronomy” due to its delays and cost overruns. John Mather, a Nobel laureate who is the telescope’s senior project scientist, said last week that “no one had appreciated the difficulty of the test program.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 February 2017
AIAA’s Magnus Speaks to Students About Careers In Science

Magnus-ChesterbrookElementary-23Feb2017In an online article accompanying a video of its broadcast, WJLA-TV Washington reports that to mark Engineers Week, AIAA Executive Director Sandra Magnus visited Chesterbrook Elementary School in Fairfax County on Thursday to speak with students about career options and the importance of following their dreams. Magnus, sharing her past as a NASA astronaut, said, “If you’re a young person dreaming of what your future can be you can’t dream it if you haven’t been exposed to it.” Magnus also met with a small group of female students for “Girl Day,” a celebration created to introduce girls to engineering. “ I’m hoping that they see myself and other successful women, no matter what the field, as role models and say...you can do whatever you put your mind to,” she said. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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24 February 2017
NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Stuck In Long Orbit Around Jupiter

Juno_NASAThe AP reports that NASA’s Juno spacecraft is “stuck making long laps” around Jupiter, increasing its intended 14-day orbit to 53 days. Last week, NASA decided that an issue with “sticky valves” made it too risky to conduct an engine firing that would have shortened Juno’s orbit. The agency said that the quality of data will not be affected, but it will take more time to collect, meaning the mission will need additional funding to gather the data sought. NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said that the decision “is the right thing to do — preserving a valuable asset so that Juno can continue its exciting journey of discovery."(Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
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23 February 2017
NASA Announces Discovery of Seven Potentially-Habitable Exoplanets

TRAPPIST-1-System-NASAFox News reports that astronomers have discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a star named TRAPPIST-1, which is 40 light years away from our Solar System. According to the report, NASA “calls the discovery of the fascinating solar system record-breaking,” and refers to the three planets in the habitable zone as TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g. Exoplanet “e” is roughly the same size as Earth and it is believed that it receives about the same level of star light as Earth. The report notes that while the Kepler Space Telescope, “one of the most important instruments in the search for other planets,” is credited overall with 2,331 confirmed exoplanet discoveries, this most recent one was made by the Spitzer Space Telescope. (Image: TRAPPIST-1 System. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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23 February 2017
Dubai Planning to Introduce Passenger UAV Taxis by July

EHang184_AP2_PurchasedThe New York Times reports that Dubai Roads and Transport Authority Director General Mattar Al Tayer said that the city will “spare no effort to launch” autonomous passenger UAVs by July. The Chinese-built Ehang 184 UAVs have already performed test runs past the Burj Al Arab hotel and will be directed and monitored from a command center. The UAVs are able to transport one passenger and a small piece of luggage up to 31 miles on a single charge, and reach speeds of 100 mph. Al Tayer said the Ehang 184 “is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies .” (Image: EHang 184. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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23 February 2017
Korean Air Takes Delivery of First Boeing 787-9

DDreamliner-Boeing-2Reuters reports that on Wednesday, Korean Air Lines took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9. USA Today also reports that the delivery at Boeing’s South Carolina assembly line was the first of the airline’s order of 10 787-9s. Korean Air will debut the jetliner on domestic flights this spring before shifting the 787s to international routes during the summer. The company said that Toronto will be the first international destination, followed by Los Angeles, Seattle and Barcelona. (Image Credit: Boeing)
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22 February 2017
Xcel, FAA Collaborate On Research Focused On Using UAVs to Inspect Electrical Lines

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsThe Grand Forks Herald reports that Minneapolis-based electricity provider Xcel Energy is partnering with the FAA to research the feasibility of using UAVs beyond the line of sight for inspecting electric grids. The research will help the FAA craft its guidelines for such applications. Xcel Executive Vice President Kent Larson said that the company is “proud to partner with the FAA,” and explained that UAV technology “is already giving us better inspection data to efficiently and effectively monitor our systems, ensuring employee safety and improving reliability to better serve customers.” (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
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22 February 2017
NASA Authorization Bill Calls for Study On Using Orion for ISS Missions

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASASpace News reports that the NASA authorization bill passed by the Senate last week would require NASA to study whether the Orion spacecraft can be used to transport crews to and from the ISS, and directs the agency to deliver a report on its findings within 60 days of the bill’s enactment. The provision represented “one of the few major changes” to the bill compared to the version passed by the Senate in December. While the 2010 reauthorization bill directed the agency to conduct such a study, there has “been little public discussion in recent years about using Orion to perform ISS missions” since NASA ceded access to the station to commercial crew providers. (Image Credit: NASA)
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21 February 2017
SpaceX Launches for First Time from “Historic” Launch Pad 39A

Falcon9Launch-39A-Feb2017_NASAThe Washington Post reports that on Sunday morning, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule “christened historic Launch complex 39A” at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The launch was the first one from pad 39A since the space shuttle program retired more than five years ago. Launch occurred at 9:39 a.m. and about eight minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s first stage successfully returned to Earth “on a massive landing pad the company had constructed” at Cape Canaveral. The purpose of the unmanned mission is to deliver 5,500 pounds of cargo and supplies to the ISS, but the launch was also significant in that it represents “an important resurrection of the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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21 February 2017
NASA, FAA Testing New ATC Tech In Washington State

ATC-at-DullesDigital Trends reports that the FAA and NASA are testing new air traffic control (ATC) technology around Washington State’s Grant County International Airport. According to Wired, a Boeing 757, a Boeing 737, and a Honeywell business jet will be equipped with the new technology and will then fly around the airport “so that researchers can make an assessment of the technology’s productivity.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower)
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21 February 2017
US Air Force Expects to Decide On Counter-UAV Program of Record Next Year

InsituPacific_ScanEagle_WikiInside Defense reported that a US Air Force spokeswoman announced that the service expects to establish a counter-UAV program of record by the close of fiscal year 2018 as the use of the unmanned aircraft grows in the Middle East. The spokeswoman explained that the Air Force’s primary focus is “non-kinetic” options, but that “kinetic options to defeat small UASs are also being explored.” In comments about the program last week, Air Force Special Operations Command Chief Lt. Gen. Brad Webb “did not elaborate on what ‘materiel and non-materiel’ approaches the service will take,” such as electronic jamming, reprogramming or firing shots, although the service did recently award a contract to explore the use of 12-gauge counter-UAV shotgun rounds. (Image Credit: Gunnery Sergeant Shannon Arledge of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing via Wikimedia Commons)
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17 February 2017
GAO Warns SpaceX, Boeing Delays Could Imperil NASA’s Access to ISS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAThe Washington Post “The Switch” blog reports that on Thursday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned that SpaceX and Boeing, the companies hired by NASA to build spacecraft for manned missions to the ISS, could encounter further delays in their vehicles’ development that would leave NASA without access to the space station unless the agency makes contingency plans. NASA has purchased seats for astronauts from Russia through 2018, and since the seats usually must be procured three years in advance “to avoid a potential crew transportation gap in 2019, the contracting process would have needed to start in early 2016.” Without alternative plans, NASA “risks not being able to maximize the return on its multibillion dollar investment in the space station.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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16 February 2017
Falcon 9 to Deliver NASA’s Raven Module

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSPACE reports that the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for Saturday will deliver NASA’s Raven technology module to the ISS. The module “will perch outside” the ISS “to track vehicles docking with the station, collecting data for future autonomous rendezvous with orbiting spacecraft.” Ben Reed, deputy director of the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, explained that the solution was developed for the “vast, vast majority” of existing spacecraft that “were not designed to be rendezvoused with or docked to in orbit."(Image Credit: NASA)
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16 February 2017
OSIRIS-REx Begins Search For Earth-Trojan Asteroids

OSIRIS-REx_Launches_8Sep2016_CreditNASASpaceflight Insider reports that last week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began its search “for an elusive type of near-Earth object known as Earth-Trojan asteroids.” On February 9, OSIRIS-REx started the two-week mission searching for the small bodies as it passes the L4 Lagrange point along its two-year journey to the asteroid Bennu. Only one Earth-Trojan asteroid has been found to date, but Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, said that the Lagrange point’s relative stability makes it “possible that remnants of the material that built Earth are trapped within it,” providing “a unique opportunity to explore the primordial building blocks of Earth.” (Image: OSIRIS-Rex mission launches 8 September 2016. Credit: NASA)
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15 February 2017
India Launches Record 104 Satellites Into Orbit On One Rocket

ISRO-Satellite_Launch-15Feb2017-APImages_PurchasedThe Washington Post reports that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched a record 104 nano satellites into orbit, aboard a single rocket, Wednesday. The ISRO said that the launch took place from southern India, and that the launch established a new record, surpassing Russia’s mark of 37 satellites in a single launch set in 2014. The article mentions that the satellites included an Indian Earth observation satellite, “two small technology demonstration satellites,” and that the remaining satellites were for international customers, inlcuding 96 for US companies. (Image: This photograph released by ISRO shows its polar satellite launch vehicle lifting off from a launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, Wednesday, 15 Feb. 2017 Credit: ISRO via Associated Press-©)
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15 February 2017
Boeing Plans to Fly 737 MAX-9 for First Time In April

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that in a “further sign” that Boeing is on track to start delivering its 737 MAX-9 jetliner next year, the company announced Tuesday that it plans to fly the new aircraft for the first time in April. Boeing 737 General Manager Keith Leverkuhn said, “We are anticipating our certification of the airplane within a matter of days-weeks.” On Monday, the company “showed off the first 737 MAX-9 sitting near the end of the assembly line at its factory in Renton, Washington.” Delivery of the fuel-efficient 737 MAX models “is crucial for Boeing to hit the financial targets it has promised” as the company slows output of its 777 and 747 lines. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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15 February 2017
Amazon Files Patent for Dropping Parcels from Moving UAVs

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazonBusiness Insider reports that Amazon has made a patent filing for a system designed to drop parcels from moving UAVs. Published Tuesday, the filing explains that the system would “forcefully propel a package from a [UAV] while the UAV is in motion,” preventing the UAV from having to land, saving “time and energy resource inefficiencies.” According to the filing, the force for establishing the vertical descent path, controlled via an RF module, could be achieved in four ways: pneumatic actuators, electromagnets, spring coils, and parachutes. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Air)
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14 February 2017
Northrop Grumman Challenges Students to Develop UAV Countermeasures

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedAlabama Live reports that a scenario from Northrop Grumman challenging a University of Alabama in Huntsville senior design class to develop UAV countermeasures has led to a campus-wide collaboration. The company posed a scenario - which it has worked to solve itself - for the electronic capture or disabling of a UAV. Northrop Grumman, which serves as “the primary driver and the customer of the project,” has provided three employees as advisers, and hopes that the program helps interest students in pursuing related careers. Bob McCaleb, Northrop Grumman corporate lead executive, said, “it is vital that NGC enable the best and brightest” STEM workforce. Northrop Grumman will review the results in May. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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14 February 2017
Airlines Push for Privatizing Air Traffic Control

ATC-at-DullesMcClatchy reports that “major airlines and their trade associations” are asking the Trump Administration to privatize the national air traffic control system, which the FAA has operated since 1958. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has been “noncommittal,” and “Democrats and a few congressional Republicans” have opposed the idea, arguing that it “could hurt small airports and companies that make business and personal aircraft.” Congress must reauthorize the FAA by September 30 and disputes over air traffic control could make it more difficult to meet that deadline. In a new development, the National Business Aviation Association said in a statement Monday that it would oppose any privatization effort, explaining the debate cannot be “distracted by a decades-old push by the airlines to take over the nation’s aviation system.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower)
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13 February 2017
Companies Betting On Revival of Commercial Supersonic Air Travel

BAConcorde_Wiki The Los Angeles Times reported that some companies “are betting that technological advances in materials and computing, as well as the boom in global business travel, could power a resurgence in economically viable supersonic passenger jets.” Airbus Group and Aerion Corp. are developing a supersonic business jet called the AS2, and Boom Technology is developing one called the Boom. Boom CEO Blake Scholl explained that in the 14 years since the Concorde’s last flight, “the amount of international business and international travel has skyrocketed.” Along with that expanding market, technological advances including carbon fiber composites, stronger computing power, and the ability to test prototypes through computer models rather than physical tests all make the economic case for the jets more alluring. (Image Credit: Eduard Marmet via Wikipedia)
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13 February 2017
Facebook Preparing to Fly Stratospheric UAV After First-Flight Incident

FacebookUAV2_YouTubeAviation Week reports that Facebook is readying its Aquila stratospheric UAV for a second test flight after the unmanned aircraft experienced structural failure during its first test flight on June 28. The NTSB continues to investigate that incident. (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
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10 February 2017
Report: UAV Deliveries Won’t be “Major Factor” for Several Years

Flirtey-Delivery-Drone-Dropbox 10 February 2017
Fortune reports that despite “news organizations’ fascination with the subject,” a new report by Gartner has concluded that “widespread deliveries by drones ‘will not be a major factor for several years.’” The report, released Thursday, forecast that deliveries will represent less than 1 percent of the commercial UAV market by 2020, explaining that “return on investment has not been proven either in regard to the cost of the drone, operational costs and a single customer delivery.” Amazon and Google “are still exploring the use of drones for deliveries,” although Google recently scaled back its Project Wing UAV delivery initiative. (Image Credit: Flirtey Technology/Dropbox)
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9 February 2017
SpaceX Schedules First Launch From 39A for February 18

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSPACE reports that in a Twitter post yesterday, SpaceX announced February 18 as the planned date for its first launch from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center. During a news briefing, NASA officials said that the Falcon 9 rocket to be launched from the pad “will loft into orbit a robotic Dragon spacecraft filled with more than 5,500 lbs...of cargo” for the ISS, and “will return nearly 5,000 lbs...of cargo to Earth.” Dragon’s cargo will include equipment for multiple experiments. (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 February 2017
Atlanta Effort Could Demonstrate Usefulness of UAVs for Airports

Drone-Aircraft-Inspection-AIRBUSBusiness Insider reports that an Atlanta partnership, under a “special exception” from FAA rules, is using UAVs to conduct airport operations, which “could serve to prove to” FAA officials the value of the aerial vehicles at airports, where they are currently banned. The city, robotics company 3DR, software firm Autodesk, and engineering firm Adkins “are working together to map out the airspace of the city’s Hartfield-Jackson International Airport to prepare for a potential expansion,” and their use of UAVs in the project could demonstrate the aircrafts’ usefulness - if regulated properly - in airport operations including the collection of airspace and weather data and the coordination of takeoffs and landings. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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8 February 2017
FAA: Number of Launch Applications In Fiscal 2016 Increased by 55 Percent

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASAFederal Computer Week reports that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said during the 20th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference that the number of launch applications filed by private companies in fiscal 2016 increased by 55 percent compared to the year before. In order to handle these applications, the FAA is considering allowing the Department of Defense to take over space traffic control and is also “investigating how to restructure its current regulatory framework...to make it appropriate for a variety of airborne vehicles...that also contain a rocket-powered launch vehicle.” (Image: United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launch. Credit: NASA)
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8 February 2017
Airbus to Begin A320neo Final Assembly In China, US This Year

AirbusA320Neo_AP_PurchasedFlightGlobal reports that Airbus plans to begin A320neo final assembly at its Chinese plant “around mid-year,” and at its US Mobile plant “at the end of 2017,” complementing its current production in Toulouse and Hamburg. While it has not specified a specific timeline, Airbus has said that its first A320neo would be delivered “well before summer.” (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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7 February 2017
SpaceX President: New Launch Pad to Enable Launches Every Two to Three Weeks

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAReuters reports that in an interview on Monday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that the company’s new launch pad at NASA Kennedy Space Center should enable Falcon 9 launches “every two to three weeks,” a pace the company was approaching before the September 1 accident. Shotwell also addressed the Falcon 9’s turbopump issue, explaining that new versions of the pumps will be installed before commencement of the commercial space taxi test flights scheduled for November. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 February 2017
Amazon’s Super Bowl Ad Teases That “Prime Air” UAVs Are Coming “Soon

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazonArs Technica reports that on Sunday, one of Amazon’s short Super Bowl television ads “included a surprise cameo: an Amazon delivery drone, described to viewers as a ‘Prime Air’ delivery,” with a voiceover saying, “Look for delivery soon.” The ad showed a branded UAV delivering a snack shortly after a woman placed an order. The ad’s disclaimer said, “Prime Air is not available in some states (or any really). Yet.” The ad and other signs “suggest Amazon is ramping up its efforts” to introduce UAV delivery, although the FAA has not issued rules for UAVs operating outside of the operator’s “line-of-sight,” as Amazon’s would. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Air)
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6 February 2017
Boeing Starliner Space Taxi to Use 600 3D-Printed Parts

BAConcorde_WikiReuters reported that Boeing has contracted Oxford Performance Materials “to make about 600 3D-printed parts for its Starliner space taxis.” The first shipments have already been completed. Part of wider “strategic bets” on printed plastics, the move underscores confidence that they “can perform flawlessly even under the extreme stress of a rocket launch and sub-zero temperatures of space,” and means that “key components in the United States manned space program are being built with additive manufacturing.” Leo Christodoulou, director of structures and materials engineering at Boeing, said that the parts are a “significant fraction of the Starliner,” and that they take “out a lot of cost.” Oxford previously worked with NASA and Northrop Grumman to demonstrate the aerospace applications of its products. (Image Credit: Eduard Marmet via Wikipedia)
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3 February 2017
Companies, Entrepreneurs Believe Supersonic Passenger Jets May Stage Comeback

Boeing_CST-100.jpgThe Los Angeles Times reports that a “handful” of companies and entrepreneurs believe that technological advances in materials and computing and an increase in the amount of global business travel could lead to a resurgence in “economically viable supersonic passenger jets.” The Times reports that Colorado-based Boom Technology Inc. is developing a supersonic airliner called the Boom. Meanwhile, Aerion Corp. is partnering with Airbus Group to develop the “AS2, a supersonic business jet that could shoot through the air at a maximum speed of Mach 1.5, or one and a half times the speed of sound.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Los Angeles Times).


3 February 2017
New Horizons Fires Engine To Aim For Kuiper Belt’s 2014 MU69

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASASPACE reports that on Wednesday, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft briefly fired its engine to refine its course for its next flyby target: Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond the probe’s last target, Pluto. The adjustment increased the spacecraft’s speed by only one mile per hour, but the mission’s principal investigator said that “will add up to an aim point refinement of almost 6,000 miles.” The adjustment was made in response to recent observations of 2014 MU69’s orbit by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. New Horizons is on course to reach the object on January 1, 2019. (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 February 2017
AIAA’s Magnus Addresses Global Space Congress

SandyMagnus_NBCInterview_Dec2015The The National (ARE) reports that on Wednesday, experts gathered for the second day of the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi to discuss how to better convey the importance of space exploration to secure more public support. AIAA Executive Director Dr. Sandra Magnus, who spent 134 days aboard the ISS, said that “it’s obvious that Earth is our spaceship” when viewed from orbit, but explained that to spread enthusiasm beyond the space community, “we need to put ourselves in the place of those we want to reach” and show them why exploration is important for humanity. Several other participants are also quoted stressing the importance of expanding the appeal of space exploration. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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2 February 2017
FAA Announces UAV Ban Near Super Bowl

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe AP reports that on Wednesday, the FAA announced that certain aircraft, including UAVs, “won’t be allowed in the airspace around the Super Bowl on Sunday in Houston.” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that UAVs “are becoming much more popular, but they also pose certain safety risks.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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1 February 2017
NASA’s “Twins Study” Finds Several Changes In Astronaut Scott Kelly

ScottKelly_ISS_NASAIn continuing coverage of NASA’s “Twins Study” comparing astronaut Scott Kelly - after his almost year in space - to his identical twin brother Mark, who was on Earth during that time, USA Today expands on yesterday’s reporting on DNA changes to cover other observations. Among them: Scott “was a full two inches taller” upon return; his “cognitive abilities in speed and accuracy slowed just slightly after the mission"; his “bone formation slowed during the second half of his trip"; his “stress hormone was ‘low normal’ throughout the trip but increased over the course of the expedition"; and “two dominant bacterial groups were more prevalent in Scott when he was in space versus when he was on Earth.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 February 2017
ARES VTOL Aircraft Listed Among Top DARPA Projects for 2017

ARES-VTOL-LockheedMartinSkunkWorksAmong various DARPA projects “that will make great strides in 2017,” IHS Electronics360 highlights the new unmanned Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) VTOL aircraft being developed by Lockheed Martin and Piasecki Aircraft under a $77 million contract. The model is “designed to exceed the speed, range, and altitude limits of helicopters,” with a top speed of 195 mph and an elevation ceiling of 20,000 feet. (Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)
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31 January 2017
General Atomics Launches “SkyGuardian” Variant Of Predator B UAV

USBorderPatrolUAV-wikiUPI reports that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) announced that it has launched the new “SkyGuardian” variant of its Predator B UAV “that meets international standards for flying in civilian airspace.” The variant, developed in coordination with the German Military Aviation Authority, is compliant with NATO’s UAV System Airworthiness Requirements and Britain’s DEFSTAN 00-970 standards. GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said the SkyGuardian name illustrates the UAV’s capacity to perform “non-military missions like border-surveillance, maritime patrol, and relief over-watch in cases of natural disaster.” (Image Credit: Gerald L Nino via Wikimedia Commons)
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31 January 2017
China Space Agency Announces Missions to Mars, Jupiter

Curiosity-on-Mars-ArtistsImpression_CreditNASAIn an article produced in partnership with the China’s People’s Daily, the Daily Mail reports that on Monday, China National Space Administration Vice Director Wu Yanhua announced plans for two missions to Mars and a probe to Jupiter. The first Mars probe, Yinghuo-2, is “expected to launch in 2020 to collect data on Mars,” and following that mission, a “rover will be sent to Mars to carry out exploration.” The plans also include “a fly-by of Jupiter” and “exploration of an asteroid.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 January 2017
Mattis Orders Reviews of F-35, Air Force One

F35_WikipediaThe Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary James Mattis “in a pair of memorandums dated on Thursday...ordered Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work to initiate reviews of plans to build new presidential aircraft and another to move forward with fielding the F-35 stealth jet.” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, issued a statement calling the reviews a “prudent step” to aid the budget process. He said that it is “consistent with the president’s guidance to provide the strongest and most efficient military possible for our nation’s defense, and it aligns with the secretary’s priority to increase military readiness while gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense.” Boeing and Lockheed Martin welcomed the review and commended the administration for focusing on costs. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
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30 January 2017
SpaceX To Launch Dragon Ship to ISS In Its First Pad 39A Launch

Launch Pad 39A Modified For SpaceX - NASASpaceflight Now reports that SpaceX has scheduled a Dragon supply ship mission to the ISS for its first launch from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, pushing back a mission with an EchoStar communications satellite that was originally scheduled to be the company’s first from the location. “This schedule change allows time for additional testing of ground systems ahead of the CRS-10 mission,” SpaceX said, adding that both launch vehicles “are all healthy and prepared for launch.” The EchoStar launch could follow soon after the Dragon, “perhaps taking off as soon as the end of February.” The company is shifting all of its Florida launches to the refurbished 39A after the September 1 rocket explosion damaged its Complex 40 facility. (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 January 2017
GOES-16 Weather Satellite Performing Well In Tests

GOES-R-NASASpace News reports that NOAA’s first Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) “is performing well in its initial post-launch tests, although months of work lie ahead before the satellite is declared operational.” Earlier this week, the agency released the first images from the satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), built by Harris Corporation. John Van Naarden, lead engineer of the ABI program at Harris, said that the “results are just stunning” and “comparing well with our expectations.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 January 2017
SpaceX Envisions LC-39A as Base for Mars Mission Launches

Launch Pad 39A Modified For SpaceX - NASAThe New York Observer reports that according to early concepts by SpaceX, the company plans to use the historic Launch Complex (LC) 39A at Kennedy Space Center - which it leased from NASA - to one day launch its “Interplanetary Transport System - an enormous spaceship that is designed to carry infrastructure to build a fueling facility on Mars and eventually transport the Red Planet’s first human colonists.” SpaceX has already completed renovations to enable launches of its Falcon 9 rocket and upcoming Falcon Heavy vehicles, and its first launch from the pad is scheduled for February 3. For its future Mars plans, SpaceX “envisions those first missions, which are over a decade away, being launched from LC-39A.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 January 2017
Boeing Unveils New Starliner Spacesuits

Starliner Mockup Cockpit-NASAThe Washington Post reports that NASA, which “ultimately...answers to the White House,” is waiting for direction from the new administration amid few clues into its priorities for the agency. The Post writes that “what Trump will want out of NASA is unclear, because no one’s talking,” and the agency “so far has flown under the radar” during the transition. Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that there “has been no command from on high to change policies,” including on communications related to climate change. The administration’s “beachhead team” for NASA arrived Monday, and Lightfoot said that everyone is still getting situated. Employees now wait for news on the reported planned reestablishment of the National Space Council, Trump’s approach toward the private sector space industry, and potential plans for missions to Mars and the moon. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
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26 January 2017
NASA Awaiting Direction from New Administration

Mars Mission JPL-NASAThe Washington Post reports that NASA, which “ultimately...answers to the White House,” is waiting for direction from the new administration amid few clues into its priorities for the agency. The Post writes that “what Trump will want out of NASA is unclear, because no one’s talking,” and the agency “so far has flown under the radar” during the transition. Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that there “has been no command from on high to change policies,” including on communications related to climate change. The administration’s “beachhead team” for NASA arrived Monday, and Lightfoot said that everyone is still getting situated. Employees now wait for news on the reported planned reestablishment of the National Space Council, Trump’s approach toward the private sector space industry, and potential plans for missions to Mars and the moon. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
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25 January 2017
China Planning Ambitious Space Program

Long March 6The New York Times (Subscription Publication) reports that on Tuesday, “private access to the moon grew a little closer to reality” as the XPRIZE Foundation chose five finalists for its lunar mission contest. To win the $20 million top prize, “a spacecraft must land on the moon, move 500 meters and send back video and photographs"; the second team to do so would win $5 million. The teams “span the globe: Moon Express in the United States, Hakuto in Japan, SpaceIL in Israel, Team Indus in India, and Synergy Moon, an international collaboration.” Each will now “dash to finish” and attempt to launch their spacecraft by the end-of-year deadline. XPRIZE Foundation Senior Director Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer said the contest has “incentivized this whole business of the niche space economy.” (Image Credit: XPRIZE)
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25 January 2017
XPRIZE Foundation Chooses Five Finalists for Lunar Mission Contest

XPRIZE-graphic_XPRIZEThe New York Times (Subscription Publication) reports that on Tuesday, “private access to the moon grew a little closer to reality” as the XPRIZE Foundation chose five finalists for its lunar mission contest. To win the $20 million top prize, “a spacecraft must land on the moon, move 500 meters and send back video and photographs"; the second team to do so would win $5 million. The teams “span the globe: Moon Express in the United States, Hakuto in Japan, SpaceIL in Israel, Team Indus in India, and Synergy Moon, an international collaboration.” Each will now “dash to finish” and attempt to launch their spacecraft by the end-of-year deadline. XPRIZE Foundation Senior Director Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer said the contest has “incentivized this whole business of the niche space economy.” (Image Credit: XPRIZE)
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24 January 2017
Some Say Military Could Save Money by Modifying Commercial UAVs

DJIPhantom AP PurchasedWired reports that according to some experts, the US military could save money and research time by purchasing civilian UAVs already available on the market and modifying them for scouting missions. While the military does have some smaller UAVs, including Ravens and Pumas, their “biggest limitation” is that they are designed to fly outside, and not within building interiors; the civilian market, however, already offers UAVs capable of indoor flight. While Major Jeffrey Persons, head of the Aviation Combat Element Branch for the US Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory said that “commercial drones still aren’t quite ready for military action,” the Center for a New American Security’s 20YY Warfare Initiative Project Director Paul Scharre said that technology that will make them ready for military use is “right around the corner.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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24 January 2017
NASA Asked Public to Choose Juno’s Next Photo Locations

Juno NASAOn its website, USA Today features a video about the Juno spacecraft’s upcoming “close pass” of Jupiter on February 2. Ahead of the flyover, NASA “for the first time” asked the public to choose the sites where Juno will take photographs, allowing people to vote on locations. Voting ended January 23. (Image Credit: )
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18 January 2017
Panelists at AIAA Forum Discuss Space Traffic Management

Space Traffic Mgmt Panel-SciTech2017Reuters reports that after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that the two “made progress” in discussions on lowering the cost of the future Air Force One fleet and a potential sale of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets to compete with the F-35 fighter. While not commenting on details, “Muilenburg said the ‘excellent conversation’ with Trump could lead to a deal ‘in the very near term.’” (Image Credit: John Murphy via Wikimedia Commons) (Image Credit: )
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18 January 2017
Boeing CEO: “Excellent Conversation” With Trump About Air Force One, F/A-18s

AirForceOne_WikimediaCommons.pngReuters reports that after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that the two “made progress” in discussions on lowering the cost of the future Air Force One fleet and a potential sale of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets to compete with the F-35 fighter. While not commenting on details, “Muilenburg said the ‘excellent conversation’ with Trump could lead to a deal ‘in the very near term.’” (Image Credit: John Murphy via Wikimedia Commons) (Image Credit: )
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17 January 2017
Last Man to Walk On Moon Dies at 82

Eugene-A-Cernan-AP-PurchasedThe New York Times reports that on Monday, NASA announced that “Eugene A. Cernan, the commander of the Apollo 17 lunar-landing mission in 1972 and the last human to walk on the moon, died” in Houston. (Image: U.S. Navy commander and astronaut for the upcoming Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan, is pictured in his space suit (Foto von 1972). Credit: Associated Press-©)
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17 January 2017
SpaceX Launches First Falcon 9 Rocket Since September Mishap

SpaceXFalcon9Launch14Jan2017-AP-PurchasedUSA Today reported that on Saturday, SpaceX successfully launched a reusable Falcon 9 rocket, the company’s first launch since an explosion on the launchpad last September had grounded the company’s fleet of rockets for the past several months. The successful launch on Saturday allowed for the insertion of 10 replacement satellites into orbit for Iridium Communications, Inc. Meanwhile, the AP reported that on its descent to earth, the Falcon 9’s first stage “made a perfect upright touchdown on the floating pad,” an “important step for SpaceX” in its effort to perfect reusable rockets. (Image: Space-X’s Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA on Saturday, 14 Jan., 2017. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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17 January 2017
Workforce Needs for Advances in Aerospace

StudentMembersAttendSciTech2017SessionThe aerospace industry will undoubtedly continue to transform society in positive ways for decades to come despite the challenges it faces with attracting and retaining younger talent, a panel of industry experts said Jan. 13 at 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. Darryll Pines, moderator for the “Next Generation Workforce” panel, said the collective mission is to figure out the needs of the workforce and explore methods by which industry, academia and government can “work together to create the workforce of the future.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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17 January 2017
FAA Eager to Start Space Traffic Transition

SpaceTrafficManagementPanel_SciTech2017The U.S. is gravitating toward giving the FAA the job of warning satellite operators about potential collisions, something the Air Force currently does. At the moment, no one knows exactly how the FAA would manage space traffic and what role the industry might play. The “Space Traffic Management” panel discussed those issues Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. (Image Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (2017 AIAA SciTech Forum Notebook)


12 January 2017
Balancing Piloted Flight Tests Against Automation

Lab-to-Flight-Test-Panel_SciTech2017Flight testing is vitally important to advance aircraft development, and the industry should not overly rely on machines to do that testing, a panel of experts said Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. The “Transitioning Your Idea From the Lab to Flight Test” panel examined the need for flight testing, the ways testing is conducted and the need for humans in the test process. The panel concluded that humans must be part of the flight testing process. (Image Credit: AIAA)
Full Story (2017 AIAA SciTech Forum Notebook)


11 January 2017
Presidential Transitions and How They Shake Things Up

PresidentialTransitionsPanel_SciTech2017Presidential transitions really alter the aerospace landscape, bringing new people, new policies, new politics and new perspectives to Washington, D.C., a panel of experts said Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. The “Disruptive Policy Issues — Presidential Transitions” panel examined how presidential transitions shake things up. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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11 January 2017
Wild Ideas for Stopping Climate Change

GeoengineeringPanel_SciTech2017If humanity wants to get serious about stopping human-caused climate change, it’s going to have to actively intervene in the functioning of the atmosphere, said panelists Jan. 10 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. Exactly how is the question. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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10 January 2017
Càrdova: Basic Research Is Key to Sustaining Innovation

Cordova_SciTech2017To ensure the U.S. maintains its standing as the global leader in innovation and scientific advancement, basic research needs support, said France A. Càrdova, director of the National Science Foundation, during the Durand Lecture for Public Service on Jan. 9 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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9 January 2017
NASA Asks Astronomers for JWST Observation Proposals

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASASPACE reported that NASA has asked scientists to start planning proposals for observations by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) scheduled to start in April 2019, about six months after its planned launch. Officials released the call for proposals at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) on January 5. “This year marks the return of the [science] community to the program,” said NASA JWST Program Director Eric Smith, who explained that priorities to this point have focused more on the telescope’s development than what it would observe. The call follows an “anomaly” last month that temporarily halted testing on the telescope. (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 January 2017
US Air Force Exploring Integrating Commercial Satellite Communication Technology

Satellite-NASADefense Systems reported that the US Air Force is exploring integrating “commercial technology and high-throughput satellites” into its military satellite systems to “help protect communications and reduce vulnerabilities for hacking or jamming.” Hughes Defense Systems Vice President Rick Lober explained that the “military may lease more SatCom bandwidth from commercial suppliers such as Hughes, ViaSat or Intelsat, among others,” in order to increase system diversity. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 January 2017
Aerospace Firms Looking to Promote STEM Careers as Early as Kindergarten

STEM-K12-AIAAThe Los Angeles Times reports that US aerospace firms have faced challenges in recent years in recruiting young engineers, who have tended to prefer tech firms in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Moreover, “aerospace companies are facing an even stiffer challenge as Web and computer companies, and other sectors like the auto industry, move into areas like drones and autonomous systems.” Such firms as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp. are “realizing they have to dig deeper - and adjust their messaging - to capture top tech talent.” Such firms are “starting to reach out earlier to potential employees - as early as elementary school or even pre-kindergarten - to get them interested in science and math.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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6 January 2017
Airbus Moves US Engineering Unit to Wichita State University Facility

AirbusEngineeringCenter-AirbusThe Wichita Eagle reported that Airbus has moved its “US engineering outpost” to “a new building at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.” Airbus Americas Engineering’s move “was more than just a means to consolidate its work into one building,” said John O’Leary, vice president of Airbus Americas Engineering, adding that the draw “is being at the university and its new Innovation Campus, where new ideas flourish and a pipeline for its future workforce exists.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
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5 January 2017
F-35C Report Finds Variant Hurts And Disorients Pilots

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimediaBusiness Insider reports that an F-35C “red team” has issued a report in which it has determined that the F-35C remains behind the other F-35 variants due to “rough takeoffs that hurt and disorient pilots at the critical moment when they’re taking off from a carrier.” The team concluded that the problem stems from “several factors central to the plane’s design” and will require fixes that would begin in 2019 and would require up to 36 months to implement. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
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5 January 2017
Space Shuttle Veteran, Former CIA Intel Officer Selected for 2018 ISS Mission

InternationalSpaceStation_NASASPACE reports that on Wednesday, NASA announced the names of two American astronauts selected to visit the ISS in 2018, Andrew Feustel and Jeanette Epps. Feustel, a veteran of two NASA space shuttle missions, will launch in March 2018 as a flight engineer and “then take command of the station’s Expedition 56 crew a few months later.” Epps, who will be making her first visit to space, joined NASA’s astronaut corps “in 2009 after serving seven years as a technical intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency,” and will become “the first African-American crewmember of an ISS expedition.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 January 2017
NASA Awards Crew Missions to Boeing, SpaceX

Boeing_CST-100Defense Daily reports that NASA has awarded “four additional Commercial Crew missions each” to Boeing and SpaceX under current Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities contracts. Boeing has an unmanned flight test scheduled for June 2018, and a manned test scheduled for August 2018, while Space X has unmanned and manned tests scheduled for November 2017 and May 2018, respectively. Following testing, NASA is expected to certify the companies for flight ahead of missions to the ISS. (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
SpaceX Announces Its Ready to Resume Launch Operations

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiAFP reports that SpaceX announced Monday that following its determination of the cause of a launchpad explosion in September it is now ready to resume launches “as early as Sunday.” According to the article, in a statement released Monday, SpaceX said it had identified the issue to a pressure vessel in the second-stage liquid oxygen tank, and that the company hopes to launch 10 communications satellites from California on Sunday. (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
NASA Delivers OMS Engine to Germany for Orion Service Module

OMS_Pod_removal-NASASpaceflight Now reports that a “former space shuttle orbital maneuvering system [OMS] engine” refurbished by NASA has been delivered to Airbus Defense and Space’s spacecraft assembly facility in Germany, to be attached to an Orion spacecraft module for use in ESA’s Exploration Mission-1. The article notes that “Lockheed Martin is prime contractor for the Orion crew module, which will house the astronauts, their living quarters and the cockpit.” The refurbished OMS engine was built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, flew on 19 space shuttle missions, and is rated for 100 missions “rated for multiple restarts on each flight.” (Image: View of shuttle Endeavour’s left-hand orbiter maneuvering system, or OMS, pod. Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
Government’s “Slow Pace” Increases Demand for Counter-UAV Technologies

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedReuters reports that the “slow pace of government regulation” for UAVs and the increase in consumer UAV sales “has spawned a counter-industry of start-ups aiming to stop drones flying where they shouldn’t, by disabling them or knocking them out of the sky.” The article reports that dozens of start-up firms from around the world “are developing techniques - from deploying birds of prey to firing gas through a bazooka - to take on UAVs that are being used to smuggle drugs, drop bombs, spy on enemy lines or buzz public spaces.” Reuters mentions that the FAA “is testing various counter-drone technologies at several airports” in the US. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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Industry News

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

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


6 April 2017
US Naval Research Laboratory Planning Swarming Tests For CICADA UAV

NRL-Developed-microUAV-USNavyIHS Jane’s 360 reports that a US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) spokesman said Wednesday that the laboratory is planning swarming tests for its palm-sized Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) MK5 from a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft, which will deploy the UAVs from a single canister. Speaking at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, the spokesman explained that the CICADA’s self-stabilization capability using spin recovery maneuvers has been tested in a wind tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center, where NRL has delivered 150 of the UAVs. (Image Credit: US Navy)
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6 April 2017
SpaceX’s Shotwell: Reused Falcon 9 Boosters To Return Increasing Savings

Falcon9Descends_Jan2016_WikimediaCommonsSpace News reports that at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Wednesday that the cost of refurbishing the recovered Falcon 9 first stage used in last week’s launch “was substantially less than half” the cost of a new booster, and that the company expects greater savings for future launches as it increases refurbishment efficiencies. “We did way more on this one than we’re doing on future ones, of course,” she explained, reiterating that the company’s goal is “to refly a rocket within 24 hours. That’s when we’ll really feel like we’ve got reusability right.” Shotwell also noted that a payload fairing - which founder Elon Musk has said costs $6 million - recovered from the launch “looked pretty good.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
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5 April 2017
Roscosmos Chief Open To Extending ISS Partnership

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAReuters reports that Roscosmos General Director Igor Komarov said Tuesday that Russia is “ready to discuss” extending the international partnership supporting the ISS beyond 2024, when the program is currently slated to end. Speaking at the US Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Komarov said, “I think that we need to prolong our cooperation in low-Earth orbit because we haven’t resolved all the issues and problems that we face now.” A US House of Representatives panel that oversees NASA has begun studying whether to extend ISS funding or use that money to accelerate other human space initiatives. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


5 April 2017
ULA Reschedules Cygnus Launch For 18 April

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASpace News reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced Monday that it has rescheduled the launch of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a Cygnus spacecraft for April 18. The company said that it had formulated a plan to resolve a booster hydraulics issue that delayed the launch of the OA-7 mission, which was originally scheduled for late March. (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 April 2017
Aviation Community Still Deadlocked Over New Flight-Data Recording Technology

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsThe Wall Street Journal reports that a dispute pitting The Boeing Company and the FAA against Airbus Group and European regulators has deadlocked implementation of new flight-data recorder technology to supplement or replace current “black boxes.” Airbus and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have indicated support for adopting deployable recorders already used in military applications, but Boeing has contended that the technology is unnecessary given the number of jetliner crashes. Last year, the FAA moved closer to supporting Boeing’s position - calling deployable recorders “redundant and economically burdensome” - as it waited to see whether the EASA would issue a mandate, which the agency has not. (Image Credit: )
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3 April 2017
Boeing Completes Successful Maiden Flight Of 787-10

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAUSA Today reported that The Boeing Company conducted a successful maiden flight Friday of its 787-10 Dreamliner from its North Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant. Boeing currently has 149 orders for the newest and largest Dreamliner variant, and “hopes to start delivering the 787-10s to airlines in 2018.” (Image: Boeing 787-10. Credit: Boeing)
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31 March 2017
Musk Shares Updates On Falcon Heavy

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAArs Technica reports that following SpaceX’s successful launch of a reusable Falcon 9 booster last Thursday, founder Elon Musk provided several updates on the development of the Falcon Heavy rocket. He confirmed that a demonstration launch is slated for “late summer,” but he acknowledged that completing the current manifest of Falcon 9 missions remains the company’s highest priority. “Perhaps the biggest tidbit” shared by Musk was that the company may try to recover the upper stage, which “would essentially allow SpaceX to recycle an entire rocket.” Musk tweeted, “Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot.” Musk also said that developing the Falcon Heavy has proven “crazy hard,” and, speculating what the rocket could carry on its maiden flight, said, “Silliest thing we can imagine!” (Image: Launch Pad 39A Modifications for SpaceX Launches. Credit: NASA)
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31 March 2017
SpaceX Makes Aerospace History With Launch and Landing of Used Rocket

SpaceXFalcon9Launch_feb2017-NASAThe New York Times reports that on Thursday, SpaceX successfully “launched a commercial satellite into space” from Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket that had previously been used, “a feat that may open an era of cheaper space travel.” The company reused a Falcon 9 first stage, or booster, to power the launch, before landing the rocket on a “floating platform in the Atlantic.” The Times notes that the booster “could conceivably launch again, since it returned in one piece.” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the booster “did this mission perfectly. It dropped off the second stage, came back and landed on the drone ship, right in the bulls-eye,” adding that the accomplishment “means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 March 2017
FAA Considering DJI’s Electronic ID Concept

DJI_Phantom4_APFox News reports that the FAA is considering UAS manufacturer DJI’s concept for an electronic ID system for small devices as a way to identify UAV operators. According to Fox News, DJI suggests that UAV operators “should use the radio equipment already on board most systems to transmit a unique registration number” and that number would ID the operator to “law enforcement in the event of a complaint or flight through a restricted area.” Fox News adds that DJI’s idea has been submitted to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which is a group responsible for collecting ideas on possible ID systems. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)


30 March 2017
Experts Warn Satellites Are Increasingly Vulnerable To Foreign Threat

GPS_Sat_NASAUSA Today reports that House lawmakers heard Wednesday from experts about “the vulnerability of U.S. commercial satellites” to foreign threats. Former US Air Force Space Command Director Gen. William Shelton, USAF (Ret.), said communications, imaging, weather, and GPS satellites are increasingly susceptible to foreign interference because many adversaries “have developed a full quiver of these methods, ranging from satellite signal jamming to outright destruction of satellites via a kill vehicle, such as that successfully tested by China in 2007.” He added that “the pace of these counterspace efforts appears to be accelerating, and the impact of the use of counterspace capabilities likely would be felt by all sectors of the space community.” According to former Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Joseph Nimmich, losing satellite capability would devastate the agency’s efforts, particularly in crises and in areas especially vulnerable to natural disaster. (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
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29 March 2017
SpaceX Preps For Historic Rocket Launch With Reused Booster Thursday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASAThe Wall Street Journal reports that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is scheduled to launch the first liquid-fueled rocket to be powered by reused engines on Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company has repurposed the Falcon 9’s lower stage engines and hopes to demonstrate that “flight-proven” engines can be reused, which they say will help facilitate inexpensive space travel. (Image Credit: NASA)
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29 March 2017
NASA Faces Tough Choice Between ISS, SLS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAQuartz reports that NASA may have to choose between maintaining the ISS and continuing a “$23 billion and growing program to develop a huge new deep-space rocket and spacecraft to carry humans to the moon and beyond.” Former NASA and Lockheed Martin executive A. Thomas Young said in February that “about half of the current [NASA] budget is allocated to low-Earth orbit endeavors” and half to “human exploration which includes [the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket] and Orion [spacecraft],” opining that “a $4.5 billion annual budget is clearly inadequate for a credible human exploration program” and warning that “a choice must be made and made soon between [low-Earth orbit] and exploration.” Quartz notes that “the decision won’t be made this year” and “most independent experts” agree “that the budget does not meaningfully change the balance Young described between supporting the ISS and its commercial programs, and funding the deep-space exploration budget."
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28 March 2017
DJI: UAVs Should Transmit Identifier For Security

DJI_Phantom4_APAP reports that in a paper released on Monday, DJI argued that continual transmission of an identification code by unmanned aircraft could help to address governments’ security concerns while safeguarding operators’ privacy. DJI suggested that the system could be developed using existing technology, and an attorney for the company equated the transmitted codes to license plates. Also on Monday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the agency will create an advisory committee to make recommendations regarding remote UAV tracking and to facilitate discussions on security between government agencies and the commercial UAV industry. (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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28 March 2017
Juno Makes Fifth Close Flyby Of Jupiter

Juno_NASASPACE reports that on Monday morning, NASA’s Juno spacecraft completed its fifth close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft’s JunoCam took close-up color photos of the planet, and all eight of its science instruments were active and collecting data. NASA scientists said that they expect to publish new papers using data from the first flybys within the next four months. (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
More Info (SPACE)


27 March 2017
US Air Force’s X-37B Sets New Earth-Orbiting Record

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFFlorida Today reports that on Saturday, the US Air Force’s classified X-37B space plane surpassed its own record for the longest time spent orbiting Earth by a spacecraft, reaching 675 days, having eclipsed the 674-day mark set by its predecessor, OTV-3, in October 2014. Officials have not confirmed when the X-37B will land, but the article notes that it is expected to do so at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), which would mark the first landing at KSC since the final space shuttle landing in 2011. (Image Credit: USAF)
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27 March 2017
SpaceX’s First Launch Of Recovered Booster Slated For Wednesday

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASAUSA Today reported that SpaceX is scheduled to conduct its first launch using a “flight proven” booster this Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center. The reusable Falcon 9 first-stage booster to be used in the launch successfully landed on a ship last April. (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 March 2017
Records Show FAA Has Granted 314 Special-Use Permits For UAV Flights

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedUSA Today reports that since the agency issued its new comprehensive rules for UAVs last year, the FAA has granted 314 special permits, including - with some overlap - 306 for flying at night, 11 for flying multiple UAVs at once, three for flying beyond-line-of-sight, and several for other situations. Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) CEO Brian Wynne said that the numbers show the expanding applications for UAVs, and underscore the need for the FAA to issue new regulations allowing flights in such circumstances without special permits. He claimed that doing so would benefit the economy. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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24 March 2017
NASA Officials Praise Funding Levels For Planetary Science

NASA-Planetary-Science-NASASpace News reports that at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference earlier this week, NASA officials praised the 16 percent increase in funding for planetary science programs proposed by the White House’s budget blueprint released last week. NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green called the $1.9 billion funding level “historic,” noting that “we’ve never had a proposed budget this high.” Green said that the agency will wait until budget details are released in May to determine and comment on timelines for specific projects. Green said little about the $100 million in cuts to the agency’s Earth science program. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


23 March 2017
NASA: Laser System Could “Revolutionize” Space Communications

LCRD-NASAPhys provides an update on NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) program, which aims to develop much higher data rates for communications between Earth and spacecraft in near-orbit and deep space. LCRD recently entered its integration and test phase and is scheduled to launch in 2019 for two to five years of testing." NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that the “technology has the potential to revolutionize space communications.” The agency is working with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the US Air Force on the project. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Phys)


23 March 2017
Southern California Aerospace Industry Could See “Major Windfall” From Defense Budget

F35-LukeAFB_USAF-WikipediaThe Los Angeles Times reports that Southern California’s defense and aerospace industry “could get a major windfall” from President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. The defense spending increase could help revitalize the industry in the region, which has seen aerospace-related jobs decline from 273,000 in 1990 to 92,000 today. According to experts, the blueprint request “would flush federal dollars to hundreds of Pentagon contractors” in Southern California, including 240 for the F-35 alone. The F-35’s fuselage is produced by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, and General Atomics produces Gray Eagle UAVs in Poway. (Image: F-35 Lightning II. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann via Wikimedia Commons)
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22 March 2017
FAA Predicts UAVs To Increase Dramatically By 2021

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APReuters reports that on Tuesday, the FAA predicted that the number of UAVs in the US “will jump dramatically over the next five years.” The agency forecast that the number of hobbyist UAVs will more than triple to 3.5 million by 2021, the number of commercial UAVs will increase almost ten-fold to 441,000, and that the number of UAV pilots will increase by a multiple of 10 to 20. The FAA attributed the difference in hobbyist and commercial UAV growth rates to “how quickly the regulatory environment will evolve, enabling more widespread routine uses of (drones) for commercial purposes.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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22 March 2017
FAA Predicts Substantial Growth In Aviation Industry

DeltaJets_SLCAirport_WikimediaCommonsAir Transport World reports that the FAA released its annual Aerospace Forecast for fiscal years 2017-2037, and forecast that the US will see a “competitive and profitable aviation industry characterized by increasing demand for air travel [with] airfares growing more slowly than inflation” over the next two decades. According to the report, the FAA projected that “traffic growth by US mainline and regional carriers will increase at an average rate of 2.4% per year,” while “passenger growth on US carriers will increase at an average 1.9% per year.” (Image Credit: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons)
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21 March 2017
Airlines For America Forecasts Record Number Of Fliers This Spring

AmericanAirlinesThe Washington Post reports that Airlines for America has issued its spring travel forecast, which predicts that a record 145 million travelers - a 4 percent increase from 2016 - will fly in March and April. To accommodate the expected demand, US airlines are adding 110,000 seats per day during the period. (Image Credit: Sergey Kustov via Wikipedia)
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21 March 2017
Iridium Builds Satellites Capable Of Continuously Tracking Airplanes Worldwide

Iridium-satellite-artistImpression-IridiumPopular Science reports that Iridium has built 66 satellites that will be able to “continuously track airplanes’ position, speed, and altitude across the entire globe.” The company launched ten of those satellites in January, and two of them started sending back data a few weeks ago. Still, the “network won’t be operational until the end of 2018 at the earliest.” (Image: Iridium satellite constellation. Credit: Iridium)
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20 March 2017
ULA Successfully Launches Delta IV Carrying WGS-9 Military Satellite

ULA-DeltaIV-Rollout-NASAThe Daily Mail reported that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is only days away from breaking its own mission-duration mark. The Boeing-built aircraft will break its endurance record of 674 days on March 25 if it remains in orbit, but with secrecy surrounding plans for the space plane, “it’s unknown if it will hit this milestone.” The current milestone was set in October 2014. (Image Credit: USAF)
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20 March 2017
US Air Force’s X-37B Days Away From Setting Endurance Mark

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAFThe Daily Mail reported that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is only days away from breaking its own mission-duration mark. The Boeing-built aircraft will break its endurance record of 674 days on March 25 if it remains in orbit, but with secrecy surrounding plans for the space plane, “it’s unknown if it will hit this milestone.” The current milestone was set in October 2014. (Image Credit: USAF)
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17 March 2017
Canada Issues New Rules For Recreational UAVs

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe Globe and Mail reports that Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau has announced new “rigorous rules,” effective immediately, governing the use of recreational UAVs. The safety restrictions forbid UAV operation within nine miles of any airport, within 75 meters of buildings, vehicles or people, at night, or near emergency scenes. Garneau, pointing to the recent increase in UAV incidents, said, “When there is a significant risk to aviation, I have the power to issue an immediate measure until new regulations can be enacted. And that is what I have done.” Garneau noted that the government plans to propose new unmanned aircraft regulations in June. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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16 March 2017
SpaceX Launches EchoStar 23 Satellite

SpaceX-Launch-Feb2017-APSPACE reports that early this morning, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the EchoStar 23 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Space Systems/Loral-built satellite is “near the limit of the booster’s capability,” and due to its weight and orbit demands SpaceX decided not to attempt a powered descent and landing of the booster. (Image: In this image from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. NASA TV via AP)
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16 March 2017
DJI Releases Study Showing UAVs Have Saved 59 Lives

DJI_Phantom4Digital Trends reports that on Tuesday, DJI released a study that found that UAVs “have rescued at least 59 people from life-threatening conditions in 18 separate incidents” since 2013. The study was based on an analysis of news reports and determined that rescues using UAVs are quickly accelerating, with 39 of the 59 occurring in 2016 and 2017. DJI notes that “professional rescue crews are just beginning to adopt” UAVs. The study included only confirmed, published reports, and “DJI suggests the actual number is much higher.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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15 March 2017
AIAA Supporting NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

HumanExpRover2016Winners_NASALive Trading News reports that on March 30, NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge will host 100 high school and college teams from across the world at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for an engineering design competition to construct human-powered rovers. The event challenges teams to design and build rovers for a race on a three-quarter-mile obstacle course. Major corporate sponsors for the challenge include The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, while “other contributors” include the AIAA Greater Huntsville Section, SAIC and Orbital ATK. (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 March 2017
US Air Force Evaluating Use Of Small UAVs For Maintenance Inspections

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsAviation International News reports that last week, the US Air Force revealed that it is evaluating the use of small UAVs for aircraft maintenance inspections and other applications. In the most recent demonstration, a new “emerging technologies combined test force” at Edwards Air Force Base demonstrated the capabilities of the 3DR Solo quadcopter in inspecting a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. UAVs could cut the time required for external inspections from an hour to several minutes. The Air Force said that the inspection demonstration and an earlier test using a UAV to calibrate telemetry antennas were both promising. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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14 March 2017
Xinhua: Boeing’s China Plant To Deliver 100 737s Per Year

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that according to the state-run Xinhua news agency, The Boeing Company plans for its new 737 completion plant in China to deliver 100 jetliners per year at full production. Citing sources from the Zhoushan aviation park where the plant will be located, Xinhua said that construction of the facility will begin at the end of this month, with the first delivery expected in 2018. As Boeing’s first 737 completion plant outside of the US, the factory will be operated in partnership with the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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13 March 2017
SpaceX Slated For Tuesday Falcon 9 Launch Following Test Fire

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASASPACE reported that SpaceX remains on track for its scheduled Tuesday launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a EchoStar 23 satellite following a successful test fire on Thursday. Previously, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that the company will not attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster following launch due to EchoStar 23’s weight and transfer altitude. The slated launch will be SpaceX’s second from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 March 2017
ULA Rocket Issue Delays Launch Of Orbital ATK Cygnus Carrying ISS Cargo

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASPACE reported that on Friday, NASA announced that the launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship scheduled for March 19 has been delayed at least two days due to a “booster hydraulic issue” found during an inspection of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The Cygnus ship is loaded with 7,600 pounds of cargo for the ISS and the launch represents Orbital ATK’s seventh ISS delivery mission for NASA using Cygnus. (Image: ULA Atlas 5 rocket launch. Credit: NASA)
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10 March 2017
US Air Force On Track To Close SpaceX Explosion Investigation Next Month

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-PurchasedBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that tourism “is going to be a real driver of our technology” in the space industry, just as entertainment has driven electronics innovations. While he announced Blue Origin’s first contract, Bezos indicated that he would continue his significant personal investment in space even as revenues start flowing to the company. He said that starting Amazon was “a lottery winning for me,” and that he is “taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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9 March 2017
Bezos: Tourism to Drive Space Technology

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said that tourism “is going to be a real driver of our technology” in the space industry, just as entertainment has driven electronics innovations. While he announced Blue Origin’s first contract, Bezos indicated that he would continue his significant personal investment in space even as revenues start flowing to the company. He said that starting Amazon was “a lottery winning for me,” and that he is “taking those lottery winnings and investing them in Blue Origin.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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9 March 2017
US Air Force UAV Pilots Now Outnumber Manned Aircraft Counterparts

MQ-1-Predator-USAFInside Defense reports that on Thursday, a US Air Force official said that next month, the service plans to conclude its investigation into the September explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The Air Force has been conducting its own probe into the incident, and Commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in an email that preliminary findings concur with SpaceX’s own conclusion, released in January, that the explosion originated from a pressure vessel carrying cold helium. The Falcon 9 is one of three launch vehicles certified by the Air Force to fly Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Class missions, and SpaceX is contracted to fly the first GPS III satellite for the Air Force by next year. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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8 March 2017
Bezos Announces Blue Origin’s First Commercial Customer

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginBloomberg News reports that at the SATELLITE 2017 conference on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos announced that Blue Origin has signed Eutelsat Communications as its first client, marking the space company’s entrance into the commercial satellite market. Under undisclosed terms, Eutelsat “purchased one launch” on a Blue Origin New Glenn orbital rocket scheduled to launch in 2021. Bezos said that “Eutelsat was very interested right away” when Blue Origin began approaching customers several months ago. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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8 March 2017
Boeing Planning New Mid-Range Jetliner Dubbed the 797

Dreamliner-Boeing-2The Wall Street Journal reports that according to industry executives speaking Tuesday at the ISTAT (International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading) annual conference, The Boeing Company is marketing an all-new midrange commercial jet intended to fill the market range between the 737 and 787. United Continental Holdings CFO Andrew Levy said that the carrier was surprised to see that Boeing favors a twin-aisle design. Many customers had expected Boeing to opt for a single-aisle design for the concept, which Air Lease Corp. CEO Steven Udvar-Házy said that Boeing had named the 797. The plane would enter service in 2024 or 2025 if Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg decides to pursue development. (Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Boeing)
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7 March 2017
Orbital ATK Schedules Cygnus Cargo Flight to ISS for March 19

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASASPACE reports that Orbital ATK “is targeting March 19” for its next Cygnus cargo flight to the ISS. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the craft is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral during a 30-minute window. The Cygnus’ 7,500 pounds of cargo includes supplies, equipment for experiments, and 38 cubesats, four of which “will deploy directly from the Cygnus craft during the flight.” Experiments include the “largest plant-growth system” ever to reach the ISS, a test examining how cancer-fighting drugs work in microgravity, and an experiment that uses “magnets to study cell cultures as they grow into 3D shapes in microgravity.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 March 2017
Boeing Releases First Images Of 737 MAX-10

Boeing737MaxAviation Week reports that on Monday at the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Americas convention in San Diego, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth unveiled the first image of the company’s proposed 737 MAX-10X jetliner and confirmed that the company has begun making firm offers to customers for the variant. Tinseth claimed that the 737-10X will have “the lowest seat costs ever for a single-aisle airplane” and would be the “most profitable single-aisle airplane the industry has ever seen.” (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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6 March 2017
Bezos Expected to Reveal Further Blue Origin Plans This Week

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginThe Wall Street Journal reports that according to industry officials, Amazon Chairman Jeff Bezos plans to announce this week several updates on Blue Origin. Those sources said that Bezos could disclose new initiatives, further details about the company’s reusable rockets, and, for the first time, the names of specific customers. Bezos - who is scheduled to speak at SATELLITE 2017 in Washington, DC, on Tuesday - is expected to reveal the news through a series of announcements and Twitter posts. They will follow last week’s story reported in the Washington Post - which Bezos owns - about his bid to win NASA support for cargo missions to the moon enabling a permanent lunar settlement. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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6 March 2017
SpaceX, NASA Collaborating, Not Launching New “Space Race”

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAThe Los Angeles Times reports that while SpaceX founder Elon Musk last week announced plans for a 2018 lunar flyby eclipsing NASA’s timetable for its own mission, “that doesn’t mean they’ve launched a new space race.” Rather, SpaceX’s success is “validation of the public-private partnership envisioned” by the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984. Following Musk’s announcement, NASA said that it is “changing the way it does business through its commercial partnerships,” in part to “free” the agency to concentrate on deep space. American University Professor Howard McCurdy said that under the model, “NASA is at the point of a spear” in exploration, while NASA Division Director for Commercial Spaceflight Development Phil McAlister said that “moving human presence deeper into space is going to require the best of NASA and the private sector.” Credit: NASA)
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3 March 2017
Boeing Sets 737 MAX-9 Rollout For March 7

Boeing737MaxFlightGlobal reported that Boeing has scheduled the public debut of its 737 MAX-9 for March 7 in Renton, Washington, keeping the project on track for an April maiden flight and entry into service by 2018. (Image: Boeing 737 MAX. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 March 2017
China’s Newest Combat UAV Makes Maiden Flight

ChineseDrones_AP-Images.jpgDefense News reports that on Wednesday, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) announced that its Wing Loong II, China’s latest-generation military UAV, made its maiden flight on Monday. The UAV has a 67-foot wingspan, can stay airborne for 20 hours, and can carry a payload of more than 1,000 pounds - far more than the 220-pound payload of its predecessor. “State media say the drone should become a leading export item for China,” and on its website, AVIC said that the flight “allows China to follow the U.S. in producing a new generation of integrated surveillance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles.” (Image: In this Oct. 1, 2009 file photo, a truck loaded with the Chinese made drone, the ASN-207, takes part in a military parade marking China’s 60th anniversary. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 March 2017
Prospects for Space Tourism Examined

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASA2 March 2017
On its website, USA Today features a video examining the prospects for space tourism following SpaceX’s announcement that it will send two private citizens on a flight to the moon in 2018. While SpaceX founder Elon Musk did not reveal how much the passengers will pay for the opportunity, the video states that they should “be prepared to pay a premium.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2017
NASA’s Supersonic Jet Designed to Reduce Sonic Boom.

NASA-X-PlaneUSA Today features a video about NASA’s supersonic passenger jet X-PLANE project, which “some people are calling the new Concorde.” The aircraft, which could fly people between London and New York City in three hours, is designed to be quieter than past supersonic jets and creates a sonic “heartbeat” rather than a sonic “boom.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2017
ADF Planning To “Significantly Increase” UAV Fleet

AeroVironment-Wasp-USAF-wikipediaIHS Jane’s 360 reports that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) plans “to significantly increase” the number of UAVs in its fleet. The force currently operates Textron Systems’ Shadow and IAIs Heron, and is also evaluating AeroVironment’s Wasp, Prox Dynamics’ Black Hornet, and Schiebel’s S100 rotary-wing platform. The ADF program office has said that it intends to supply a Black Hornet system to each army section, and indicated that costs would be reduced as the volume of its purchases increases. (Image Credit: USAF via Wikipedia)
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28 February 2017
Facebook to Increase Frequency of Aquila UAV Test Flights

FacebookUAV2_YouTube Bloomberg News reports that Facebook plans to step up test flights for its experimental Aquila UAV, a solar-powered, high-altitude glider featuring “a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737.” The company conducted its first test flight of the massive UAV in June last year, during which the aircraft “suffered a ‘structural failure’ as it was coming in for landing.” At the Mobile World Congress on Monday, Facebook head of Engineering and Infrastructure Jay Parikh said, “We learned a lot, from data, to how it turned, how it handled, and the battery performance. But we need to fly a lot more and more regularly.” The UAV is part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's drive to find “new ways to connect...much of the world's population to the internet.” (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
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27 February 2017
US Air Force Announces It Will Retire MQ-1 Predator Next Year

MQ-1-Predator-USAF UPI reported that last week, the US Air Force announced that it will retire its fleet of MQ-1 Predator UAVs in 2018 and complete its transition to an all-MQ-9 Reaper fleet. The MQ-1 has been in service for 21 years. Both systems are built by General Atomics. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt via Wikipedia)
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27 February 2017
Long-Delayed James Webb Space Telescope Nearing Launch

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASAThe Washington Post reported on the development of NASA's long-delayed $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which still faces extensive testing and a long trip to French Guiana for a scheduled October 2018 launch before it can begin observations in April 2019 – a full quarter century after it was conceived. The instrument became known as the telescope that ate astronomy” due to its delays and cost overruns. John Mather, a Nobel laureate who is the telescope's senior project scientist, said last week that “no one had appreciated the difficulty of the test program.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 February 2017
AIAA's Magnus Speaks to Students About Careers In Science

Magnus-ChesterbrookElementary-23Feb2017In an online article accompanying a video of its broadcast, WJLA-TV Washington reports that to mark Engineers Week, AIAA Executive Director Sandra Magnus visited Chesterbrook Elementary School in Fairfax County on Thursday to speak with students about career options and the importance of following their dreams. Magnus, sharing her past as a NASA astronaut, said, “If you're a young person dreaming of what your future can be you can't dream it if you haven't been exposed to it.” Magnus also met with a small group of female students for “Girl Day,” a celebration created to introduce girls to engineering. “I'm hoping that they see myself and other successful women, no matter what the field, as role models and say...you can do whatever you put your mind to,” she said. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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24 February 2017
NASA's Juno Spacecraft Stuck In Long Orbit Around Jupiter

Juno_NASAThe AP reports that NASA's Juno spacecraft is “stuck making long laps” around Jupiter, increasing its intended 14-day orbit to 53 days. Last week, NASA decided that an issue with “sticky valves” made it too risky to conduct an engine firing that would have shortened Juno's orbit. The agency said that the quality of data will not be affected, but it will take more time to collect, meaning the mission will need additional funding to gather the data sought. NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said that the decision “is the right thing to do — preserving a valuable asset so that Juno can continue its exciting journey of discovery.” (Image Credit: NASA-JPL)
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23 February 2017
NASA Announces Discovery of Seven Potentially-Habitable Exoplanets

TRAPPIST-1-System-NASA Fox News reports that astronomers have discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a star named TRAPPIST-1, which is 40 light years away from our Solar System. According to the report, NASA “calls the discovery of the fascinating solar system record-breaking,” and refers to the three planets in the habitable zone as TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g. Exoplanet “e” is roughly the same size as Earth and it is believed that it receives about the same level of star light as Earth. The report notes that while the Kepler Space Telescope, “one of the most important instruments in the search for other planets,” is credited overall with 2,331 confirmed exoplanet discoveries, this most recent one was made by the Spitzer Space Telescope. (Image: TRAPPIST-1 System. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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23 February 2017
Dubai Planning to Introduce Passenger UAV Taxis by July

EHang184_AP2_PurchasedThe New York Times reports that Dubai Roads and Transport Authority Director General Mattar Al Tayer said that the city will “spare no effort to launch” autonomous passenger UAVs by July. The Chinese-built Ehang 184 UAVs have already performed test runs past the Burj Al Arab hotel and will be directed and monitored from a command center. The UAVs are able to transport one passenger and a small piece of luggage up to 31 miles on a single charge, and reach speeds of 100 mph. Al Tayer said the Ehang 184 “is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies.” (Image: EHang 184. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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23 February 2017
Korean Air Takes Delivery of First Boeing 787-9

DDreamliner-Boeing-2 Reuters reports that on Wednesday, Korean Air Lines took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9. USA Today also reports that the delivery at Boeing's South Carolina assembly line was the first of the airline's order of 10 787-9s. Korean Air will debut the jetliner on domestic flights this spring before shifting the 787s to international routes during the summer. The company said that Toronto will be the first international destination, followed by Los Angeles, Seattle and Barcelona. (Image Credit: Boeing)
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22 February 2017
Xcel, FAA Collaborate On Research Focused On Using UAVs to Inspect Electrical Lines

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsThe Grand Forks Herald reports that Minneapolis-based electricity provider Xcel Energy is partnering with the FAA to research the feasibility of using UAVs beyond the line of sight for inspecting electric grids. The research will help the FAA craft its guidelines for such applications. Xcel Executive Vice President Kent Larson said that the company is “proud to partner with the FAA,” and explained that UAV technology “is already giving us better inspection data to efficiently and effectively monitor our systems, ensuring employee safety and improving reliability to better serve customers.” (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
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22 February 2017
NASA Authorization Bill Calls for Study On Using Orion for ISS Missions

SLSLaunch_ArtistsImpression_NASA Space News reports that the NASA authorization bill passed by the Senate last week would require NASA to study whether the Orion spacecraft can be used to transport crews to and from the ISS, and directs the agency to deliver a report on its findings within 60 days of the bill's enactment. The provision represented “one of the few major changes” to the bill compared to the version passed by the Senate in December. While the 2010 reauthorization bill directed the agency to conduct such a study, there has “been little public discussion in recent years about using Orion to perform ISS missions” since NASA ceded access to the station to commercial crew providers. (Image Credit: NASA
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21 February 2017
SpaceX Launches for First Time from “Historic” Launch Pad 39A

Falcon9Launch-39A-Feb2017_NASAThe Washington Post reports that on Sunday morning, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule “christened historic Launch complex 39A” at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The launch was the first one from pad 39A since the space shuttle program retired more than five years ago. Launch occurred at 9:39 a.m. and about eight minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s first stage successfully returned to Earth “on a massive landing pad the company had constructed” at Cape Canaveral. The purpose of the unmanned mission is to deliver 5,500 pounds of cargo and supplies to the ISS, but the launch was also significant in that it represents “an important resurrection of the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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21 February 2017
NASA, FAA Testing New ATC Tech In Washington State

ATC-at-DullesDigital Trends reports that the FAA and NASA are testing new air traffic control (ATC) technology around Washington State’s Grant County International Airport. According to Wired, a Boeing 757, a Boeing 737, and a Honeywell business jet will be equipped with the new technology and will then fly around the airport “so that researchers can make an assessment of the technology’s productivity.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower)
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21 February 2017
US Air Force Expects to Decide On Counter-UAV Program of Record Next Year

InsituPacific_ScanEagle_WikiInside Defense reported that a US Air Force spokeswoman announced that the service expects to establish a counter-UAV program of record by the close of fiscal year 2018 as the use of the unmanned aircraft grows in the Middle East. The spokeswoman explained that the Air Force’s primary focus is “non-kinetic” options, but that “kinetic options to defeat small UASs are also being explored.” In comments about the program last week, Air Force Special Operations Command Chief Lt. Gen. Brad Webb “did not elaborate on what ‘materiel and non-materiel’ approaches the service will take,” such as electronic jamming, reprogramming or firing shots, although the service did recently award a contract to explore the use of 12-gauge counter-UAV shotgun rounds. (Image Credit: Gunnery Sergeant Shannon Arledge of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing via Wikimedia Commons)
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17 February 2017
GAO Warns SpaceX, Boeing Delays Could Imperil NASA’s Access to ISS

InternationalSpaceStation_NASAThe Washington Post “The Switch” blog reports that on Thursday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned that SpaceX and Boeing, the companies hired by NASA to build spacecraft for manned missions to the ISS, could encounter further delays in their vehicles’ development that would leave NASA without access to the space station unless the agency makes contingency plans. NASA has purchased seats for astronauts from Russia through 2018, and since the seats usually must be procured three years in advance “to avoid a potential crew transportation gap in 2019, the contracting process would have needed to start in early 2016.” Without alternative plans, NASA “risks not being able to maximize the return on its multibillion dollar investment in the space station.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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16 February 2017
Falcon 9 to Deliver NASA’s Raven Module

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSPACE reports that the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for Saturday will deliver NASA’s Raven technology module to the ISS. The module “will perch outside” the ISS “to track vehicles docking with the station, collecting data for future autonomous rendezvous with orbiting spacecraft.” Ben Reed, deputy director of the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, explained that the solution was developed for the “vast, vast majority” of existing spacecraft that “were not designed to be rendezvoused with or docked to in orbit."(Image Credit: NASA)
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16 February 2017
OSIRIS-REx Begins Search For Earth-Trojan Asteroids

OSIRIS-REx_Launches_8Sep2016_CreditNASASpaceflight Insider reports that last week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began its search “for an elusive type of near-Earth object known as Earth-Trojan asteroids.” On February 9, OSIRIS-REx started the two-week mission searching for the small bodies as it passes the L4 Lagrange point along its two-year journey to the asteroid Bennu. Only one Earth-Trojan asteroid has been found to date, but Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, said that the Lagrange point’s relative stability makes it “possible that remnants of the material that built Earth are trapped within it,” providing “a unique opportunity to explore the primordial building blocks of Earth.” (Image: OSIRIS-Rex mission launches 8 September 2016. Credit: NASA)
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15 February 2017
India Launches Record 104 Satellites Into Orbit On One Rocket

ISRO-Satellite_Launch-15Feb2017-APImages_PurchasedThe Washington Post reports that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched a record 104 nano satellites into orbit, aboard a single rocket, Wednesday. The ISRO said that the launch took place from southern India, and that the launch established a new record, surpassing Russia’s mark of 37 satellites in a single launch set in 2014. The article mentions that the satellites included an Indian Earth observation satellite, “two small technology demonstration satellites,” and that the remaining satellites were for international customers, inlcuding 96 for US companies. (Image: This photograph released by ISRO shows its polar satellite launch vehicle lifting off from a launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, Wednesday, 15 Feb. 2017 Credit: ISRO via Associated Press-©)
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15 February 2017
Boeing Plans to Fly 737 MAX-9 for First Time In April

Boeing737MaxReuters reports that in a “further sign” that Boeing is on track to start delivering its 737 MAX-9 jetliner next year, the company announced Tuesday that it plans to fly the new aircraft for the first time in April. Boeing 737 General Manager Keith Leverkuhn said, “We are anticipating our certification of the airplane within a matter of days-weeks.” On Monday, the company “showed off the first 737 MAX-9 sitting near the end of the assembly line at its factory in Renton, Washington.” Delivery of the fuel-efficient 737 MAX models “is crucial for Boeing to hit the financial targets it has promised” as the company slows output of its 777 and 747 lines. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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15 February 2017
Amazon Files Patent for Dropping Parcels from Moving UAVs

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazonBusiness Insider reports that Amazon has made a patent filing for a system designed to drop parcels from moving UAVs. Published Tuesday, the filing explains that the system would “forcefully propel a package from a [UAV] while the UAV is in motion,” preventing the UAV from having to land, saving “time and energy resource inefficiencies.” According to the filing, the force for establishing the vertical descent path, controlled via an RF module, could be achieved in four ways: pneumatic actuators, electromagnets, spring coils, and parachutes. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Air)
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14 February 2017
Northrop Grumman Challenges Students to Develop UAV Countermeasures

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedAlabama Live reports that a scenario from Northrop Grumman challenging a University of Alabama in Huntsville senior design class to develop UAV countermeasures has led to a campus-wide collaboration. The company posed a scenario - which it has worked to solve itself - for the electronic capture or disabling of a UAV. Northrop Grumman, which serves as “the primary driver and the customer of the project,” has provided three employees as advisers, and hopes that the program helps interest students in pursuing related careers. Bob McCaleb, Northrop Grumman corporate lead executive, said, “it is vital that NGC enable the best and brightest” STEM workforce. Northrop Grumman will review the results in May. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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14 February 2017
Airlines Push for Privatizing Air Traffic Control

ATC-at-DullesMcClatchy reports that “major airlines and their trade associations” are asking the Trump Administration to privatize the national air traffic control system, which the FAA has operated since 1958. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has been “noncommittal,” and “Democrats and a few congressional Republicans” have opposed the idea, arguing that it “could hurt small airports and companies that make business and personal aircraft.” Congress must reauthorize the FAA by September 30 and disputes over air traffic control could make it more difficult to meet that deadline. In a new development, the National Business Aviation Association said in a statement Monday that it would oppose any privatization effort, explaining the debate cannot be “distracted by a decades-old push by the airlines to take over the nation’s aviation system.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower)
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13 February 2017
Companies Betting On Revival of Commercial Supersonic Air Travel

BAConcorde_Wiki The Los Angeles Times reported that some companies “are betting that technological advances in materials and computing, as well as the boom in global business travel, could power a resurgence in economically viable supersonic passenger jets.” Airbus Group and Aerion Corp. are developing a supersonic business jet called the AS2, and Boom Technology is developing one called the Boom. Boom CEO Blake Scholl explained that in the 14 years since the Concorde’s last flight, “the amount of international business and international travel has skyrocketed.” Along with that expanding market, technological advances including carbon fiber composites, stronger computing power, and the ability to test prototypes through computer models rather than physical tests all make the economic case for the jets more alluring. (Image Credit: Eduard Marmet via Wikipedia)
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13 February 2017
Facebook Preparing to Fly Stratospheric UAV After First-Flight Incident

FacebookUAV2_YouTubeAviation Week reports that Facebook is readying its Aquila stratospheric UAV for a second test flight after the unmanned aircraft experienced structural failure during its first test flight on June 28. The NTSB continues to investigate that incident. (Image Credit: Facebook/YouTube)
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10 February 2017
Report: UAV Deliveries Won’t be “Major Factor” for Several Years

Flirtey-Delivery-Drone-Dropbox 10 February 2017
Fortune reports that despite “news organizations’ fascination with the subject,” a new report by Gartner has concluded that “widespread deliveries by drones ‘will not be a major factor for several years.’” The report, released Thursday, forecast that deliveries will represent less than 1 percent of the commercial UAV market by 2020, explaining that “return on investment has not been proven either in regard to the cost of the drone, operational costs and a single customer delivery.” Amazon and Google “are still exploring the use of drones for deliveries,” although Google recently scaled back its Project Wing UAV delivery initiative. (Image Credit: Flirtey Technology/Dropbox)
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9 February 2017
SpaceX Schedules First Launch From 39A for February 18

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiSPACE reports that in a Twitter post yesterday, SpaceX announced February 18 as the planned date for its first launch from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center. During a news briefing, NASA officials said that the Falcon 9 rocket to be launched from the pad “will loft into orbit a robotic Dragon spacecraft filled with more than 5,500 lbs...of cargo” for the ISS, and “will return nearly 5,000 lbs...of cargo to Earth.” Dragon’s cargo will include equipment for multiple experiments. (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 February 2017
Atlanta Effort Could Demonstrate Usefulness of UAVs for Airports

Drone-Aircraft-Inspection-AIRBUSBusiness Insider reports that an Atlanta partnership, under a “special exception” from FAA rules, is using UAVs to conduct airport operations, which “could serve to prove to” FAA officials the value of the aerial vehicles at airports, where they are currently banned. The city, robotics company 3DR, software firm Autodesk, and engineering firm Adkins “are working together to map out the airspace of the city’s Hartfield-Jackson International Airport to prepare for a potential expansion,” and their use of UAVs in the project could demonstrate the aircrafts’ usefulness - if regulated properly - in airport operations including the collection of airspace and weather data and the coordination of takeoffs and landings. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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8 February 2017
FAA: Number of Launch Applications In Fiscal 2016 Increased by 55 Percent

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASAFederal Computer Week reports that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said during the 20th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference that the number of launch applications filed by private companies in fiscal 2016 increased by 55 percent compared to the year before. In order to handle these applications, the FAA is considering allowing the Department of Defense to take over space traffic control and is also “investigating how to restructure its current regulatory framework...to make it appropriate for a variety of airborne vehicles...that also contain a rocket-powered launch vehicle.” (Image: United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launch. Credit: NASA)
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8 February 2017
Airbus to Begin A320neo Final Assembly In China, US This Year

AirbusA320Neo_AP_PurchasedFlightGlobal reports that Airbus plans to begin A320neo final assembly at its Chinese plant “around mid-year,” and at its US Mobile plant “at the end of 2017,” complementing its current production in Toulouse and Hamburg. While it has not specified a specific timeline, Airbus has said that its first A320neo would be delivered “well before summer.” (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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7 February 2017
SpaceX President: New Launch Pad to Enable Launches Every Two to Three Weeks

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASAReuters reports that in an interview on Monday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that the company’s new launch pad at NASA Kennedy Space Center should enable Falcon 9 launches “every two to three weeks,” a pace the company was approaching before the September 1 accident. Shotwell also addressed the Falcon 9’s turbopump issue, explaining that new versions of the pumps will be installed before commencement of the commercial space taxi test flights scheduled for November. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 February 2017
Amazon’s Super Bowl Ad Teases That “Prime Air” UAVs Are Coming “Soon

AmazonPrimeAirUAV_CreditAmazonArs Technica reports that on Sunday, one of Amazon’s short Super Bowl television ads “included a surprise cameo: an Amazon delivery drone, described to viewers as a ‘Prime Air’ delivery,” with a voiceover saying, “Look for delivery soon.” The ad showed a branded UAV delivering a snack shortly after a woman placed an order. The ad’s disclaimer said, “Prime Air is not available in some states (or any really). Yet.” The ad and other signs “suggest Amazon is ramping up its efforts” to introduce UAV delivery, although the FAA has not issued rules for UAVs operating outside of the operator’s “line-of-sight,” as Amazon’s would. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Air)
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6 February 2017
Boeing Starliner Space Taxi to Use 600 3D-Printed Parts

BAConcorde_WikiReuters reported that Boeing has contracted Oxford Performance Materials “to make about 600 3D-printed parts for its Starliner space taxis.” The first shipments have already been completed. Part of wider “strategic bets” on printed plastics, the move underscores confidence that they “can perform flawlessly even under the extreme stress of a rocket launch and sub-zero temperatures of space,” and means that “key components in the United States manned space program are being built with additive manufacturing.” Leo Christodoulou, director of structures and materials engineering at Boeing, said that the parts are a “significant fraction of the Starliner,” and that they take “out a lot of cost.” Oxford previously worked with NASA and Northrop Grumman to demonstrate the aerospace applications of its products. (Image Credit: Eduard Marmet via Wikipedia)
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3 February 2017
Companies, Entrepreneurs Believe Supersonic Passenger Jets May Stage Comeback

Boeing_CST-100.jpgThe Los Angeles Times reports that a “handful” of companies and entrepreneurs believe that technological advances in materials and computing and an increase in the amount of global business travel could lead to a resurgence in “economically viable supersonic passenger jets.” The Times reports that Colorado-based Boom Technology Inc. is developing a supersonic airliner called the Boom. Meanwhile, Aerion Corp. is partnering with Airbus Group to develop the “AS2, a supersonic business jet that could shoot through the air at a maximum speed of Mach 1.5, or one and a half times the speed of sound.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 February 2017
New Horizons Fires Engine To Aim For Kuiper Belt’s 2014 MU69

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASASPACE reports that on Wednesday, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft briefly fired its engine to refine its course for its next flyby target: Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond the probe’s last target, Pluto. The adjustment increased the spacecraft’s speed by only one mile per hour, but the mission’s principal investigator said that “will add up to an aim point refinement of almost 6,000 miles.” The adjustment was made in response to recent observations of 2014 MU69’s orbit by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. New Horizons is on course to reach the object on January 1, 2019. (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 February 2017
AIAA’s Magnus Addresses Global Space Congress

SandyMagnus_NBCInterview_Dec2015The The National (ARE) reports that on Wednesday, experts gathered for the second day of the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi to discuss how to better convey the importance of space exploration to secure more public support. AIAA Executive Director Dr. Sandra Magnus, who spent 134 days aboard the ISS, said that “it’s obvious that Earth is our spaceship” when viewed from orbit, but explained that to spread enthusiasm beyond the space community, “we need to put ourselves in the place of those we want to reach” and show them why exploration is important for humanity. Several other participants are also quoted stressing the importance of expanding the appeal of space exploration. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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2 February 2017
FAA Announces UAV Ban Near Super Bowl

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe AP reports that on Wednesday, the FAA announced that certain aircraft, including UAVs, “won’t be allowed in the airspace around the Super Bowl on Sunday in Houston.” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that UAVs “are becoming much more popular, but they also pose certain safety risks.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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1 February 2017
NASA’s “Twins Study” Finds Several Changes In Astronaut Scott Kelly

ScottKelly_ISS_NASAIn continuing coverage of NASA’s “Twins Study” comparing astronaut Scott Kelly - after his almost year in space - to his identical twin brother Mark, who was on Earth during that time, USA Today expands on yesterday’s reporting on DNA changes to cover other observations. Among them: Scott “was a full two inches taller” upon return; his “cognitive abilities in speed and accuracy slowed just slightly after the mission"; his “bone formation slowed during the second half of his trip"; his “stress hormone was ‘low normal’ throughout the trip but increased over the course of the expedition"; and “two dominant bacterial groups were more prevalent in Scott when he was in space versus when he was on Earth.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 February 2017
ARES VTOL Aircraft Listed Among Top DARPA Projects for 2017

ARES-VTOL-LockheedMartinSkunkWorksAmong various DARPA projects “that will make great strides in 2017,” IHS Electronics360 highlights the new unmanned Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) VTOL aircraft being developed by Lockheed Martin and Piasecki Aircraft under a $77 million contract. The model is “designed to exceed the speed, range, and altitude limits of helicopters,” with a top speed of 195 mph and an elevation ceiling of 20,000 feet. (Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works)
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31 January 2017
General Atomics Launches “SkyGuardian” Variant Of Predator B UAV

USBorderPatrolUAV-wikiUPI reports that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) announced that it has launched the new “SkyGuardian” variant of its Predator B UAV “that meets international standards for flying in civilian airspace.” The variant, developed in coordination with the German Military Aviation Authority, is compliant with NATO’s UAV System Airworthiness Requirements and Britain’s DEFSTAN 00-970 standards. GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said the SkyGuardian name illustrates the UAV’s capacity to perform “non-military missions like border-surveillance, maritime patrol, and relief over-watch in cases of natural disaster.” (Image Credit: Gerald L Nino via Wikimedia Commons)
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31 January 2017
China Space Agency Announces Missions to Mars, Jupiter

Curiosity-on-Mars-ArtistsImpression_CreditNASAIn an article produced in partnership with the China’s People’s Daily, the Daily Mail reports that on Monday, China National Space Administration Vice Director Wu Yanhua announced plans for two missions to Mars and a probe to Jupiter. The first Mars probe, Yinghuo-2, is “expected to launch in 2020 to collect data on Mars,” and following that mission, a “rover will be sent to Mars to carry out exploration.” The plans also include “a fly-by of Jupiter” and “exploration of an asteroid.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 January 2017
Mattis Orders Reviews of F-35, Air Force One

F35_WikipediaThe Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary James Mattis “in a pair of memorandums dated on Thursday...ordered Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work to initiate reviews of plans to build new presidential aircraft and another to move forward with fielding the F-35 stealth jet.” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, issued a statement calling the reviews a “prudent step” to aid the budget process. He said that it is “consistent with the president’s guidance to provide the strongest and most efficient military possible for our nation’s defense, and it aligns with the secretary’s priority to increase military readiness while gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense.” Boeing and Lockheed Martin welcomed the review and commended the administration for focusing on costs. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
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30 January 2017
SpaceX To Launch Dragon Ship to ISS In Its First Pad 39A Launch

Launch Pad 39A Modified For SpaceX - NASASpaceflight Now reports that SpaceX has scheduled a Dragon supply ship mission to the ISS for its first launch from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, pushing back a mission with an EchoStar communications satellite that was originally scheduled to be the company’s first from the location. “This schedule change allows time for additional testing of ground systems ahead of the CRS-10 mission,” SpaceX said, adding that both launch vehicles “are all healthy and prepared for launch.” The EchoStar launch could follow soon after the Dragon, “perhaps taking off as soon as the end of February.” The company is shifting all of its Florida launches to the refurbished 39A after the September 1 rocket explosion damaged its Complex 40 facility. (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 January 2017
GOES-16 Weather Satellite Performing Well In Tests

GOES-R-NASASpace News reports that NOAA’s first Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) “is performing well in its initial post-launch tests, although months of work lie ahead before the satellite is declared operational.” Earlier this week, the agency released the first images from the satellite’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), built by Harris Corporation. John Van Naarden, lead engineer of the ABI program at Harris, said that the “results are just stunning” and “comparing well with our expectations.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 January 2017
SpaceX Envisions LC-39A as Base for Mars Mission Launches

Launch Pad 39A Modified For SpaceX - NASAThe New York Observer reports that according to early concepts by SpaceX, the company plans to use the historic Launch Complex (LC) 39A at Kennedy Space Center - which it leased from NASA - to one day launch its “Interplanetary Transport System - an enormous spaceship that is designed to carry infrastructure to build a fueling facility on Mars and eventually transport the Red Planet’s first human colonists.” SpaceX has already completed renovations to enable launches of its Falcon 9 rocket and upcoming Falcon Heavy vehicles, and its first launch from the pad is scheduled for February 3. For its future Mars plans, SpaceX “envisions those first missions, which are over a decade away, being launched from LC-39A.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 January 2017
Boeing Unveils New Starliner Spacesuits

Starliner Mockup Cockpit-NASAThe Washington Post reports that NASA, which “ultimately...answers to the White House,” is waiting for direction from the new administration amid few clues into its priorities for the agency. The Post writes that “what Trump will want out of NASA is unclear, because no one’s talking,” and the agency “so far has flown under the radar” during the transition. Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that there “has been no command from on high to change policies,” including on communications related to climate change. The administration’s “beachhead team” for NASA arrived Monday, and Lightfoot said that everyone is still getting situated. Employees now wait for news on the reported planned reestablishment of the National Space Council, Trump’s approach toward the private sector space industry, and potential plans for missions to Mars and the moon. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
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26 January 2017
NASA Awaiting Direction from New Administration

Mars Mission JPL-NASAThe Washington Post reports that NASA, which “ultimately...answers to the White House,” is waiting for direction from the new administration amid few clues into its priorities for the agency. The Post writes that “what Trump will want out of NASA is unclear, because no one’s talking,” and the agency “so far has flown under the radar” during the transition. Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that there “has been no command from on high to change policies,” including on communications related to climate change. The administration’s “beachhead team” for NASA arrived Monday, and Lightfoot said that everyone is still getting situated. Employees now wait for news on the reported planned reestablishment of the National Space Council, Trump’s approach toward the private sector space industry, and potential plans for missions to Mars and the moon. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
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25 January 2017
China Planning Ambitious Space Program

Long March 6The New York Times (Subscription Publication) reports that on Tuesday, “private access to the moon grew a little closer to reality” as the XPRIZE Foundation chose five finalists for its lunar mission contest. To win the $20 million top prize, “a spacecraft must land on the moon, move 500 meters and send back video and photographs"; the second team to do so would win $5 million. The teams “span the globe: Moon Express in the United States, Hakuto in Japan, SpaceIL in Israel, Team Indus in India, and Synergy Moon, an international collaboration.” Each will now “dash to finish” and attempt to launch their spacecraft by the end-of-year deadline. XPRIZE Foundation Senior Director Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer said the contest has “incentivized this whole business of the niche space economy.” (Image Credit: XPRIZE)
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25 January 2017
XPRIZE Foundation Chooses Five Finalists for Lunar Mission Contest

XPRIZE-graphic_XPRIZEThe New York Times (Subscription Publication) reports that on Tuesday, “private access to the moon grew a little closer to reality” as the XPRIZE Foundation chose five finalists for its lunar mission contest. To win the $20 million top prize, “a spacecraft must land on the moon, move 500 meters and send back video and photographs"; the second team to do so would win $5 million. The teams “span the globe: Moon Express in the United States, Hakuto in Japan, SpaceIL in Israel, Team Indus in India, and Synergy Moon, an international collaboration.” Each will now “dash to finish” and attempt to launch their spacecraft by the end-of-year deadline. XPRIZE Foundation Senior Director Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer said the contest has “incentivized this whole business of the niche space economy.” (Image Credit: XPRIZE)
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24 January 2017
Some Say Military Could Save Money by Modifying Commercial UAVs

DJIPhantom AP PurchasedWired reports that according to some experts, the US military could save money and research time by purchasing civilian UAVs already available on the market and modifying them for scouting missions. While the military does have some smaller UAVs, including Ravens and Pumas, their “biggest limitation” is that they are designed to fly outside, and not within building interiors; the civilian market, however, already offers UAVs capable of indoor flight. While Major Jeffrey Persons, head of the Aviation Combat Element Branch for the US Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory said that “commercial drones still aren’t quite ready for military action,” the Center for a New American Security’s 20YY Warfare Initiative Project Director Paul Scharre said that technology that will make them ready for military use is “right around the corner.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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24 January 2017
NASA Asked Public to Choose Juno’s Next Photo Locations

Juno NASAOn its website, USA Today features a video about the Juno spacecraft’s upcoming “close pass” of Jupiter on February 2. Ahead of the flyover, NASA “for the first time” asked the public to choose the sites where Juno will take photographs, allowing people to vote on locations. Voting ended January 23. (Image Credit: )
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18 January 2017
Panelists at AIAA Forum Discuss Space Traffic Management

Space Traffic Mgmt Panel-SciTech2017Reuters reports that after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that the two “made progress” in discussions on lowering the cost of the future Air Force One fleet and a potential sale of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets to compete with the F-35 fighter. While not commenting on details, “Muilenburg said the ‘excellent conversation’ with Trump could lead to a deal ‘in the very near term.’” (Image Credit: John Murphy via Wikimedia Commons) (Image Credit: )
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18 January 2017
Boeing CEO: “Excellent Conversation” With Trump About Air Force One, F/A-18s

AirForceOne_WikimediaCommons.pngReuters reports that after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that the two “made progress” in discussions on lowering the cost of the future Air Force One fleet and a potential sale of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets to compete with the F-35 fighter. While not commenting on details, “Muilenburg said the ‘excellent conversation’ with Trump could lead to a deal ‘in the very near term.’” (Image Credit: John Murphy via Wikimedia Commons) (Image Credit: )
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17 January 2017
Last Man to Walk On Moon Dies at 82

Eugene-A-Cernan-AP-PurchasedThe New York Times reports that on Monday, NASA announced that “Eugene A. Cernan, the commander of the Apollo 17 lunar-landing mission in 1972 and the last human to walk on the moon, died” in Houston. (Image: U.S. Navy commander and astronaut for the upcoming Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan, is pictured in his space suit (Foto von 1972). Credit: Associated Press-©)
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17 January 2017
SpaceX Launches First Falcon 9 Rocket Since September Mishap

SpaceXFalcon9Launch14Jan2017-AP-PurchasedUSA Today reported that on Saturday, SpaceX successfully launched a reusable Falcon 9 rocket, the company’s first launch since an explosion on the launchpad last September had grounded the company’s fleet of rockets for the past several months. The successful launch on Saturday allowed for the insertion of 10 replacement satellites into orbit for Iridium Communications, Inc. Meanwhile, the AP reported that on its descent to earth, the Falcon 9’s first stage “made a perfect upright touchdown on the floating pad,” an “important step for SpaceX” in its effort to perfect reusable rockets. (Image: Space-X’s Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA on Saturday, 14 Jan., 2017. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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17 January 2017
Workforce Needs for Advances in Aerospace

StudentMembersAttendSciTech2017SessionThe aerospace industry will undoubtedly continue to transform society in positive ways for decades to come despite the challenges it faces with attracting and retaining younger talent, a panel of industry experts said Jan. 13 at 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. Darryll Pines, moderator for the “Next Generation Workforce” panel, said the collective mission is to figure out the needs of the workforce and explore methods by which industry, academia and government can “work together to create the workforce of the future.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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17 January 2017
FAA Eager to Start Space Traffic Transition

SpaceTrafficManagementPanel_SciTech2017The U.S. is gravitating toward giving the FAA the job of warning satellite operators about potential collisions, something the Air Force currently does. At the moment, no one knows exactly how the FAA would manage space traffic and what role the industry might play. The “Space Traffic Management” panel discussed those issues Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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12 January 2017
Balancing Piloted Flight Tests Against Automation

Lab-to-Flight-Test-Panel_SciTech2017Flight testing is vitally important to advance aircraft development, and the industry should not overly rely on machines to do that testing, a panel of experts said Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. The “Transitioning Your Idea From the Lab to Flight Test” panel examined the need for flight testing, the ways testing is conducted and the need for humans in the test process. The panel concluded that humans must be part of the flight testing process. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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11 January 2017
Presidential Transitions and How They Shake Things Up

PresidentialTransitionsPanel_SciTech2017Presidential transitions really alter the aerospace landscape, bringing new people, new policies, new politics and new perspectives to Washington, D.C., a panel of experts said Jan. 11 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. The “Disruptive Policy Issues — Presidential Transitions” panel examined how presidential transitions shake things up. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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11 January 2017
Wild Ideas for Stopping Climate Change

GeoengineeringPanel_SciTech2017If humanity wants to get serious about stopping human-caused climate change, it’s going to have to actively intervene in the functioning of the atmosphere, said panelists Jan. 10 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. Exactly how is the question. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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10 January 2017
Càrdova: Basic Research Is Key to Sustaining Innovation

Cordova_SciTech2017To ensure the U.S. maintains its standing as the global leader in innovation and scientific advancement, basic research needs support, said France A. Càrdova, director of the National Science Foundation, during the Durand Lecture for Public Service on Jan. 9 at the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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9 January 2017
NASA Asks Astronomers for JWST Observation Proposals

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASASPACE reported that NASA has asked scientists to start planning proposals for observations by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) scheduled to start in April 2019, about six months after its planned launch. Officials released the call for proposals at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) on January 5. “This year marks the return of the [science] community to the program,” said NASA JWST Program Director Eric Smith, who explained that priorities to this point have focused more on the telescope’s development than what it would observe. The call follows an “anomaly” last month that temporarily halted testing on the telescope. (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 January 2017
US Air Force Exploring Integrating Commercial Satellite Communication Technology

Satellite-NASADefense Systems reported that the US Air Force is exploring integrating “commercial technology and high-throughput satellites” into its military satellite systems to “help protect communications and reduce vulnerabilities for hacking or jamming.” Hughes Defense Systems Vice President Rick Lober explained that the “military may lease more SatCom bandwidth from commercial suppliers such as Hughes, ViaSat or Intelsat, among others,” in order to increase system diversity. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 January 2017
Aerospace Firms Looking to Promote STEM Careers as Early as Kindergarten

STEM-K12-AIAAThe Los Angeles Times reports that US aerospace firms have faced challenges in recent years in recruiting young engineers, who have tended to prefer tech firms in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Moreover, “aerospace companies are facing an even stiffer challenge as Web and computer companies, and other sectors like the auto industry, move into areas like drones and autonomous systems.” Such firms as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp. are “realizing they have to dig deeper - and adjust their messaging - to capture top tech talent.” Such firms are “starting to reach out earlier to potential employees - as early as elementary school or even pre-kindergarten - to get them interested in science and math.” (Image Credit: AIAA)
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6 January 2017
Airbus Moves US Engineering Unit to Wichita State University Facility

AirbusEngineeringCenter-AirbusThe Wichita Eagle reported that Airbus has moved its “US engineering outpost” to “a new building at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.” Airbus Americas Engineering’s move “was more than just a means to consolidate its work into one building,” said John O’Leary, vice president of Airbus Americas Engineering, adding that the draw “is being at the university and its new Innovation Campus, where new ideas flourish and a pipeline for its future workforce exists.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
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5 January 2017
F-35C Report Finds Variant Hurts And Disorients Pilots

F-35_Keith_Simmons_USN_wikimediaBusiness Insider reports that an F-35C “red team” has issued a report in which it has determined that the F-35C remains behind the other F-35 variants due to “rough takeoffs that hurt and disorient pilots at the critical moment when they’re taking off from a carrier.” The team concluded that the problem stems from “several factors central to the plane’s design” and will require fixes that would begin in 2019 and would require up to 36 months to implement. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)
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5 January 2017
Space Shuttle Veteran, Former CIA Intel Officer Selected for 2018 ISS Mission

InternationalSpaceStation_NASASPACE reports that on Wednesday, NASA announced the names of two American astronauts selected to visit the ISS in 2018, Andrew Feustel and Jeanette Epps. Feustel, a veteran of two NASA space shuttle missions, will launch in March 2018 as a flight engineer and “then take command of the station’s Expedition 56 crew a few months later.” Epps, who will be making her first visit to space, joined NASA’s astronaut corps “in 2009 after serving seven years as a technical intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency,” and will become “the first African-American crewmember of an ISS expedition.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 January 2017
NASA Awards Crew Missions to Boeing, SpaceX

Boeing_CST-100Defense Daily reports that NASA has awarded “four additional Commercial Crew missions each” to Boeing and SpaceX under current Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities contracts. Boeing has an unmanned flight test scheduled for June 2018, and a manned test scheduled for August 2018, while Space X has unmanned and manned tests scheduled for November 2017 and May 2018, respectively. Following testing, NASA is expected to certify the companies for flight ahead of missions to the ISS. (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
SpaceX Announces Its Ready to Resume Launch Operations

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_WikiAFP reports that SpaceX announced Monday that following its determination of the cause of a launchpad explosion in September it is now ready to resume launches “as early as Sunday.” According to the article, in a statement released Monday, SpaceX said it had identified the issue to a pressure vessel in the second-stage liquid oxygen tank, and that the company hopes to launch 10 communications satellites from California on Sunday. (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
NASA Delivers OMS Engine to Germany for Orion Service Module

OMS_Pod_removal-NASASpaceflight Now reports that a “former space shuttle orbital maneuvering system [OMS] engine” refurbished by NASA has been delivered to Airbus Defense and Space’s spacecraft assembly facility in Germany, to be attached to an Orion spacecraft module for use in ESA’s Exploration Mission-1. The article notes that “Lockheed Martin is prime contractor for the Orion crew module, which will house the astronauts, their living quarters and the cockpit.” The refurbished OMS engine was built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, flew on 19 space shuttle missions, and is rated for 100 missions “rated for multiple restarts on each flight.” (Image: View of shuttle Endeavour’s left-hand orbiter maneuvering system, or OMS, pod. Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2017
Government’s “Slow Pace” Increases Demand for Counter-UAV Technologies

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedReuters reports that the “slow pace of government regulation” for UAVs and the increase in consumer UAV sales “has spawned a counter-industry of start-ups aiming to stop drones flying where they shouldn’t, by disabling them or knocking them out of the sky.” The article reports that dozens of start-up firms from around the world “are developing techniques - from deploying birds of prey to firing gas through a bazooka - to take on UAVs that are being used to smuggle drugs, drop bombs, spy on enemy lines or buzz public spaces.” Reuters mentions that the FAA “is testing various counter-drone technologies at several airports” in the US. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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