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

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


8 February 2016
United Nations Condemns North Korean Satellite Launch, Vows “Significant” New Sanctions

NorthKoreanUnha-3rocket_Wiki.jpgUSA Today reports that on Sunday, the UN Security Council “unanimously condemned North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile as a violation of UN resolutions banning ballistic missile tests and promised ‘significant’ new sanctions.” The Security Council contended that “even though North Korea characterized the rocket test as a satellite launch, it was clearly an effort to develop a ballistic missile and violated four U.N. resolutions dating to 2006.”  (Image Credit: Sungwon Baik / VOA via Wikimedia  Commons)
More Info (USA Today)



8 February 2016
Airbus Switches Engines For A321neo Maiden Flight

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that Airbus has changed its plans to use engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney for the maiden flight of its A321neo jetliner, set to occur as early as this week, and will instead use engines developed by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran. The article calls the engine switch for the maiden flight unusual given the length of time used in developing new jets. However, while Airbus said that the first A321neo with CFM engines will take flight “in the coming days,” the Pratt & Whitney-powered model will follow “in the coming weeks.” Airbus stated that “it doesn’t matter which engine comes first.” Bloomberg News notes that United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes “said in December that the cool-down process for the company’s geared turbofan engine powering the A320neo had issues, and that the problem would be addressed in February, with ‘more robustness’ to be introduced to some parts. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



8 February 2016
NRO Payload Expected To Be Launched From Vandenberg On Wednesday

ULADeltaIV_ReadyForLaunch_NASA.pngThe Santa Ynez Valley News reports that Vandenberg Air Force Base is “scheduled to launch a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload from Space Launch Complex-6 on Wednesday, with a launch window opening at 3:39 a.m. PDT.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Santa Ynez Valley News)



5 February 2016
Bill Seeks To Remove Air Traffic Control Operations From FAA

ATC-at-Dulles.jpgIn continuing coverage, the Washington Post reports that the FAA reauthorization bill that was introduced by House Republican leaders this week includes a proposal to move air traffic control (ATC) operations away from the FAA. According to the article, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx released a statement, which suggested that the Obama administration “has yet to decide whether to support” the proposal. On Tuesday during a meeting with reporters, Foxx said, “It’s important for me to leave room for our team to digest the ideas that are put out there.” He added, “I’ve been careful to say that while I’m not reflexively saying yes or no, I want to leave myself room to look dispassionately at what’s presented and to try to offer an opinion at some point that will reflect our best thinking.”  (Image: Dulles Airport ATC Tower. Credit: AIAA)
More Info (Washington Post)



4 February 2016
Private Space Launches Set To Surge In 2016

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgReuters reports that private space companies such as SpaceX and United Launch Alliance are set to perform more than 30 launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station this year, signaling an increased demand for commercial communications and imaging satellites in addition to NASA and military missions. In a commercial space webcast on Wednesday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said, “We want to be able to fly every week, for sure, if not multiple times in a week.” Meanwhile, Dale Ketcham, Space Florida business strategist, remarked on the launch rate, saying, “The last time we saw 30-plus launches would have been back in the 1960s.” (Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 on launch pad. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)



4 February 2016
Super Bowl to be “No Drone Zone”

LevisStadium_Wiki.jpgNBC News reports that the FAA announced a prohibition on operating UAVs within a 32-mile radius of the Super Bowl stadium on game day. According to FAA regulations, the U.S. government “may use deadly force” against UAVs determined to be a security threat, while violating operators could face “civil penalties and criminal charges,” NBC reports. The Los Angeles Times reports that while the Super Bowl flight ban also applies to other aircraft besides UAVs, general aviation with approved flight plans are allowed within the 32-mile radius. The FAA is also instituting a “highly restricted” zone within a 10-mile radius of the stadium, where only “commercial aviation and law enforcement” may fly. (Image: Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Credit: Jim Bahn via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (NBC News)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)



3 February 2016
North Korea Declares Plans to Launch Satellite Into Orbit, Drawing Global Ire

NorthKoreanUnha-3rocket_Wiki.jpgThe New York Times reports that in “a new dare to the United States and its allies,” North Korea has notified the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) that it is planning to launch a payload-carrying multi-stage rocket into space on a yet-to-be specified date between February 8 and 25. According to the Times, Natasha Brown, spokeswoman for the specialized UN agency, which is responsible for navigational safety at sea, “said North Korea’s notification described the payload as an Earth observation satellite it called Kwangmyongsong, which translates as Lode Star.” The notification said that if the launch goes according to plan, the first stage of the rocket would fall in the waters situated west of South Korea, while the second stage would fall in the waters east of the Philippines. According to the Washington Post, despite North Korea’s “claims of a peaceful space program,” the rocket launch “would likely stir further alarm in the West and across Asia as another act of defiance by Pyongyang.” The article explains that while Pyongyang did not provide specific details about the rocket, the notification “raised concern that the launch could be an upgraded version of the Unha 3 booster launched in December 2012, carrying a satellite into orbit.” The Post adds that such a rocket “could signal improvements in multi-stage expertise that could have crossover applications for long-range ballistic missiles.”  (Image Credit: Sungwon Baik / VOA via Wikimedia  Commons)
More Info (New York Times)
More Info (Washington Post)



3 February 2016
ULA to Launch GPS Satellite On Friday In First 2016 Mission

Atlas5ReadyForLaunch.jpgSpaceflight Now reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA), set to kick off an “ambitious 2016,” is scheduled to launch its Atlas 5 rocket into orbit on Friday, deploying “the last satellite in the current generation of Global Positioning System navigation spacecraft,” the GPS 2F-12. The article notes that the GPS 2F-12 is “the 12th and final spacecraft built by Boeing for the Air Force under the Block 2F program,” which features “improved accuracy, better anti-jamming and longer design lives than previous designs.” Colonel Steve Whitney, director of the Air Force’s Global Positioning Systems Directorate, remarked, “This mission will signify an end of an era with completion of the 2F series and exemplify the historic milestone and achievement for all of us involved.” (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)



2 February 2016
Amazon Testing UAV Deliveries In The Netherlands

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpgFortune reports that on Monday during a Washington Post event, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that his company is testing Prime Air UAVs in the Netherlands, as well as in Canada and the UK. According to the article, the FAA has placed restrictions on commercial UAV use, making it difficult for Amazon to roll out its Prime Air service in the U.S. While the FAA granted Amazon approval to test unmanned aircraft in April, the company is restricted from flying UAVs at night or outside the line of sight of the operator. Meanwhile, on Monday, Dutch law enforcement officials said that they are considering using eagles rather than weaponry or UAV-tracking technology to prevent unmanned aircraft from flying into restricted airspace. (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
More Info (Fortune)



2 February 2016
Washington Post Analysis: Investors Betting On Commercial Space Sector

SpaceXLaunch_Wiki.jpgIn an analysis, the Washington Post reported that following recent high-profile breakthroughs led by entrepreneurs Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson, “the commercial space sector has started to capture the public imagination and make space travel cool again.” The article noted that while “getting investors to place a bet is perhaps one of the greatest hurdles of all” for spaceflight companies, with the recent “revolutionary advancements” within the industry, an enterprise such as SpaceX can now “afford to turn money away.” Steve Jurvetson, partner at Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm DFJ, which was asked “to kindly hold off” during the latest round of SpaceX funding, remarked that following years of stagnation, “the commercial space industry is enormous and ripe for disruption,” contending that “a 100-fold improvement is actually a piece of cake,” while “a thousand-fold improvement is feasible.” (Image: First-ever SpaceX launch from Space Launch Complex-4, Sept. 29, 2013. Credit: U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)



1 February 2016
Boeing 737 MAX Completes Maiden Flight

Boeing737Max.jpgUSA Today reported that on Friday, Boeing’s new 737 MAX jetliner took off on its maiden flight from an airfield in Renton, Washington, “ushering in the next chapter for the aerospace giant’s longest-running and best-selling airplane.” In a post-flight press conference following the aircraft’s landing three hours after take-off at nearby Boeing Field in Seattle, pilots manning the flight “praised the jet’s handling and performance.” Test pilot Craig Bonben remarked that the jet “flew beautifully, the engines were extremely quiet,” adding that “there weren’t any problems.” The article noted that the first jet, coined the “Spirit of Renton,” “will soon be joined by four other 737 MAX aircraft in a rigorous flight test and certification program expected to be completed in 2017.” Bloomberg News explained that the nickname is “a reference to the Seattle suburb where Boeing has made single-aisle aircraft since the 1950s.” Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program at Boeing, said, “It is an emotional experience,” adding, “Someone said these things are like comet sightings. They don’t happen very often and when they do, it’s very, very special.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (USA Today)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



29 January 2016
Japan Reveals First Stealth Fighter

JapaneseStealthFighter.pngThe Wall Street Journal that on Thursday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense unveiled the first-ever Japanese-built stealth fighter jet featuring radar-evasion technology, with the aim of closing the gap with neighboring Russia and China, who have flown such aircraft for more than five years. According to the Journal, the experimental $340 million X-2 is smaller than a typical fighter, unarmed and has under-powered engines, causing some analysts to suggest that Japan intends to use the prototype to signal its aspirations to develop a stealth aircraft in partnership with the U.S. and other international allies. Aerospace analyst Yoshitomo Aoki explained, “In order to participate in a project as an equal partner, Japan has to offer knowledge, experience or technologies worthy of an equal partner.” The AP reports that the red-and-white fighter, which has a 45-foot-long fuselage and a 30-foot-long wingspan, “is expected to make its maiden test flight in February.” (Image Credit: AFP/YouTube)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (Associated Press)



29 January 2016
Musk Wants to Go to ISS, Launch Mars Missions by 2025

ElonMusk.pngGeekWire reports that at the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong this week, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk “said he’d unveil his detailed plan for sending settlers to Mars in September at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.” During a panel session, Musk told moderator Kristie Lu Stout of CNN International that personally “going to the space station would be nice,” and that he would hope to do so “maybe four or five years from now.” Musk added that “he was hoping to start flights to Mars around 2025.” When asked about the short time frame, Musk replied, “Well, nine years,” adding. “Seems like a long time to me.” (Image Credit: Heisenberg Media - Flickr: Elon Musk - The Summit 2013, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (GeekWire)



28 January 2016
Patent Application Shows Google Drone Delivery Differs Considerably from Amazon Prime Air

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpgFortune reports that Google filed for a patent this week for a wheeled receptacle to receive drone deliveries, which would help drones avoid hazards like trees or homes, in addition to ensuring orders aren’t placed on wet grass. Fortune notes that Google’s patent application and Amazon’s Prime Air plans, as shown in a recent commercial, are “notably different.” Amazon’s plans involve its drones leaving a package on a small mat in the backyard, which might be more convenient, but Google’s patent application explains that delivering packages to doorsteps or backyards could be risky. The patent application says that the drones’ propellers could potentially harm pets or damage power lines, or the drones may not be able to find a safe landing spot. The Verge and PC Magazine also report on Google’s patent application.  (Image Credit: Google/YouTube)
More Info (Fortune)
More Info (The Verge)
More Info (PC Magazine)



28 January 2016
Airbus Helicopters Flies Second H160 Prototype

AirbusHelicoptersH160_AirbusGroup.pngFlightglobal reports that “Airbus Helicopters has flown the second prototype of its new medium-class H160 rotorcraft – the first to be equipped with the new 1,100-1,300shp (820-969kW) Turbomeca Arrano engines that will power production models.” Flightglobal explains that “its initial flight-test article – which uses the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210 powerplants now dropped from the programme – had accumulated 75h by the end of 2015 since first taking to the skies in early June.” According to Bernard Fujarski, head of the H160 program, “After a very busy year [in] 2015, in terms of flight activities, introducing PT2 is an important step in the H160’s development as we will launch performance testing with the Turbomeca Arrano engines.” (Image Credit: Airbus/YouTube)
More Info (Flightglobal)



27 January 2016
Lufthansa Partners with DJI to Provide UAV Monitoring Services

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Tuesday, German carrier Lufthansa disclosed that it has agreed to collaborate with China-based DJI Technology, the largest UAV manufacturer in the world, to develop unmanned aircraft technology for commercial purposes. According to the airline, its subsidiary Lufthansa Aerial Services intends to offer DJI-developed UAVs equipped with thermal-imaging technology to allow its customers to monitor key infrastructure assets such as electricity lines, roads, railways and above-ground pipelines. Andreas Jahnke, managing director of Lufthansa Consulting, remarked, “Lufthansa will offer clients a one-stop UAV-shop.” Reuters also reports on the story.  (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (Reuters)



27 January 2016
U.S. Air Force Awards Boeing $6 Million Rocket Technology Research Contract

RocketLaunch_NASA.pngSpace News reports that the U.S. Air Force has awarded “$6.1 million to Boeing Network & Space Systems and $3.6 million to Arctic Slope Regional Corp. to perform rocket technology research.” The article explains that the contracts “are part of a broader effort to help end reliance on a Russian rocket engine used for launching national security satellites.” Defense Daily reports that the contracts were awarded under the Air Force’s Booster Propulsion Technology Maturation Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) solicitation, which also awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman in 2015. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)
More Info (Defense Daily)



26 January 2016
U.S. Air Force Certifies Upgraded Falcon 9 to Launch Military Satellites

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgSpaceflight Now reports that the U.S. Air Force has certified the latest version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, “featuring higher-thrust engines, enlarged fuel tanks and a super-chilled propellant mixture, for launches of the military’s most valuable satellites.” The formal sign-off of the rocket “clears up any question that the modified launcher is eligible to compete for national security launch contracts.” All future Falcon 9 launches will include the latest iteration of the booster, “which debuted Dec. 21 with the launch of 11 Orbcomm message relay satellites from Cape Canaveral.” Space News reports that the upgrade includes “increased thrust, an improved stage separation system and a stretched upper stage that can hold additional propellant.” (Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 on launch pad. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)
More Info (Space News)



26 January 2016
Boeing Prepares for First Flight of 737 Max On Friday

Boeing737Max.jpgReuters reports that Boeing has set the first flight of the 737 Max for Friday. Boeing previously announced that it planned to make the first flight of the next generation of Boeing’s 737 aircraft in the first quarter of 2016. Boeing said that it has finished key development steps and has readied the plane for its first takeoff. The flight may be delayed due to weather or other conditions. The 737s are due to be delivered starting in 2017. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)



26 January 2016
Blue Origin to Increase Frequency of New Shepard Suborbital Test Flights

BlueOrigin_Shepard_FirstFliight_YouTube.jpgSpace News reports that Blue Origin plans to increase the frequency of future test flights of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle following the successful completion of two flights in two months. Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson said in a January 25 interview that the company is reviewing data from the most recent flight, but initial indications suggest the vehicle performed as expected. He said, “We expected to shorten” the turnaround time between future test flights “over time this year, and fly this vehicle again and again.” Meyerson added that the company plans to perform “dozens” of test flights of the New Shepard over the next few years, “with hardware and software modifications as needed between flights.” Blue Origin also plans to start carrying uncrewed research payloads on New Shepard later this year. (Image Credit: YouTube/Blue Origin)
More Info (Space News)



22 January 2016
Amazon Provides Details On UAV Delivery Program

AmazonPrimAir__Amazon-YouTube.jpgQuartz reports that Amazon’s “quest for 30-minute delivery by drone doesn’t just face an uphill battle with regulators, who in the US and elsewhere are still grappling with the challenge of ensuring airspace is kept safe in the age of unmanned shipment services.” Quartz adds that consumers have also expressed concerns about noise levels, privacy, and the associated dangers from crashing drones. Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public policy, said during a recent interview with Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue “that sound-dampening is one of the ‘cool’ engineering challenges that Amazon’s drone program – dubbed Amazon Prime Air – will tackle.” He also said that these aircraft apparently will be sporting “sense-and-avoid technology.”  (Image Credit: YouTube/Amazon)
More Info (Quartz)



22 January 2016
SpaceX Releases Footage of Crew Dragon “Hover Test”

SpaceXHoverTest.pngMashable reports that SpaceX has released video footage from November showing its Crew Dragon capsule performing a “hover test,” with the spacecraft’s SuperDraco thrusters “allowing the vehicle to hover for about five seconds under its own power.” SpaceX, which is conducting the tests under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said that the “jet packs” generated “approximately 33,000 lbs of thrust before returning the vehicle to its resting position.” The article notes that SpaceX “wants to use this kind of Dragon to bring astronauts to and from the International Space Station.” Meanwhile, NASA explained in a blog post that the thrusters “would be used to slow the vehicle’s return to Earth through the atmosphere and ultimately set the spacecraft and its crew down gently.” Gizmodo also reports on the story. (SpaceX/YouTube)
More Info (Mashable)
More Info (Gizmodo)



21 January 2016
Scientists Find Evidence for Planet Nine

FwdLookingInfared_Wiki.pngThe New York Times reports that on Wednesday, two astronomers at the California Institute of Technology revealed that they have found compelling evidence indicating the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system. In a study published in The Astronomical Journal, Caltech professors Michael E. Brown and Konstantin Batygin “laid out a detailed circumstantial argument for the planet’s existence in what astronomers have observed: a half-dozen small bodies in distant elliptical orbits.” According to the researchers, the odds that the peculiar orbital movements of these six bodies would occur by chance are about 1 in 14,000, suggesting that a ninth planet could be gravitationally keeping them in orbit. In addition, the scientists estimate that the planet likely has a mass equal to 10 times that of Earth and that its orbit puts it between 20 to 100 billion miles away from the sun. The AP adds that the “long-hypothesized Planet X” is so remote “that it would take a mind-blowing 10,000 to 20,000 years to circle the sun,” but notes that the planet “hasn’t been spotted yet.” Brown told the AP, “We could have stayed quiet and quietly spent the next five years searching the skies ourselves and hoping to find it,” adding, “But I would rather somebody find it sooner, than me find it later.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)
More Info (New York Times)
More Info (Associated Press)
More Info (Washington Post)



21 January 2016
Airbus Completes A320neo Delivery to Lufthansa

AirbusA320Neo_wiki.pngThe Wall Street Journal reports that after missing its year-end deadline due to aircraft documentation issues, on Wednesday, Airbus completed the very first delivery of its newest jetliner, the A320neo, to Lufthansa. In a statement, Carsten Spohrsaid, CEO of the German carrier, which has ordered 101 jets from Airbus, said, “We are pleased to be the first airline in the world to take possession of the Airbus A320neo today.” According to the Journal, the France-based jet manufacturer has already landed 4,400 orders for the new aircraft, making it the company’s fastest selling jetliner thus far. Bloomberg News reports that the A320neo, which stands for “new engine option,” provides airlines with “15 percent greater fuel efficiency now and 20 percent by 2020 through planned upgrades.” In addition, despite its recent introduction, “some 95 percent of the plane matches current A320s, a manufacturing strategy that helps integrate new versions into airline fleets.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (Bloomberg News)



20 January 2016
NASA Glenn Research Center Celebrates 75 Years Of Scientific, Economic Achievements

NASAGlennResearchCenter.pngThe Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that NASA’s Glenn Research Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary this month, noting that over time, researchers at Glenn “have done acclaimed work on propulsion, communications, safety and many other technologies crucial to flight.” Remarking on its low profile, Larry Ross, who worked at the center from 1963 to 1995, said, “It’s often been described as one of the best-kept secrets in Cleveland,” adding, “We at the center did a lousy job of promoting it.” Still, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) maintained that, “It would be almost impossible to overstate NASA Glenn’s importance to northern Ohio.” A report from Cleveland State University indicates that with a $612.5 million budget in fiscal 2014, Glenn helped generate $1.382 billion in revenue across Ohio, including $1.253 billion in Northeast Ohio where it is located. (Image: Aerial View of Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field - GPN-2000-002008. Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Cleveland Plain Dealer)



19 January 2016
SpaceX Launches NOAA Satellite, Unable to Land Rocket at Sea

SpaceXFalcon9_Launches_Jason3_CreditNASA.pngThe New York Times reports that on Sunday, SpaceX successfully sent a Jason-3 ocean-monitoring satellite into orbit atop of its two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, adding that following the launch, SpaceX’s attempt “to recover one of its rockets by landing it on a platform in the ocean failed in a ball of fire.” According to the Times, while the first-stage booster was able to make its descent atop of the droneship in the Pacific Ocean, “a problem with one of its four legs sent it toppling over.” Bloomberg News notes that SpaceX’s primary mission on Sunday was to launch a Jason-3 ocean-monitoring satellite, “a project led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and two European partners,” which will “track sea-level change for purposes such as improved hurricane forecasting.” The article adds that following the failed landing attempt, Musk tweeted, “Definitely harder to land on a ship,” explaining, “Much smaller target area.” On its website, NBC News adds that video footage “showed the rocket had descended with pinpoint accuracy onto the drone ship before a landing leg buckled, causing the booster to tip over and explode.” In a Twitter post, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote that the “lockout collet on one of the rocket’s four legs didn’t latch, leading to the mishap.” Musk explained, “Root cause may have been ice buildup due to condensation from heavy fog at liftoff.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL)
More Info (New York Times)
More Info (Bloomberg News)
More Info (NBC News)



15 January 2016
NASA Selects SpaceX, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada For 8-Year Commercial Resupply Contracts

SpaceXFalcon9_OnLaunchpad_NASA.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Thursday, NASA announced that it had selected incumbent contractors SpaceX and Orbital ATK, as well as newcomer Sierra Nevada, to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS) over the next eight years, through 2024. NASA officials said that under the new plan, which calls for about four supply flights per year, each company would be responsible for at least six total cargo missions to the ISS, with additional missions to be awarded later. According to the officials, while the new cargo missions will have a fixed price, the contracts, with a total value of up to $14 billion, were designed to provide suppliers with flexibility in terms of price, schedule and mission assurance. Ars Technica reports that according to Jim Muncy, a space policy consultant and commercial space industry advocate, “NASA investing in three different ways of delivering experiments and supplies to the ISS is more evidence that the agency is committed to opening up the Space Station and low-Earth orbit to new commercial and scientific uses.” (Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 on launch pad. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)
More Info (Ars Technica)



14 January 2016
Airline Pilots Over Relying On Automated Flight Systems

AirlinePilots_Wiki.pngThe Washington Post reports, in continuing coverage, on a recent Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report, which found that the FAA is failing to ensure that pilots are capable of flying planes without having to rely on automated systems. “While airlines have long used automation safely to improve efficiency and reduce pilot workload, several recent accidents, including the July 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, have shown that pilots who typically fly with automation can make errors when confronted with an unexpected event or transitioning to manual flying,” the OIG said in a letter to the FAA. The NTSB found that the Asiana flight crew’s reliance on automation contributed to the crash. “We’ve recommended that pilots have more opportunity to practice manually flying the aircraft,” said the NTSB’s Robert Sumwalt. “We talked about the pilot’s overreliance on the auto throttle system” in the NTSB crash report, he said, adding, “The general rule of thumb is that any time you’re not sure what the automation is doing, you should disconnect and fly manually.”  Forbes notes that the OIG “also found only two of the nine carriers it visited analyzed data to determine the extent pilots are using autopilot in daily operations which FAA estimates at about 90% of the time despite the fact no industry-wide analysis exists to confirm that number.” (Image Credit: Alex Pereslavtsev via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Washington Post)
More Info (Forbes)



14 January 2016
U.S. Air Force Seeks Proposals For New Airborne Sensors

FwdLookingInfared_Wiki.pngMilitary & Aerospace Electronics reports that on Tuesday, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, issued a notice for the Airborne Sensors for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance project, which “focuses on airborne sensor applications like signals intelligence (SIGINT) and geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) using electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR), multispectral imaging, and hyperspectral imaging sensor technologies, as well as ground-surveillance radar, full motion video, light detection and ranging (LIDAR), and on-board data fusion.” According to the article, proposals in response to the notice “should assume the target aircraft for such technologies are the MQ-9 Reaper medium-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a business jet, and RQ-4 Global-Hawk long-range UAV.” (Image: Forward looking infrared. Credit: David.Monniaux via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Military & Defense Electronics)



13 January 2016
Musk Confirms Plans to Land Rocket On Droneship

SpaceXBoosterLanding_Apr2015_SpaceX.jpgCNN reports that in a tweet on Monday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that his company will attempt to launch and land a rocket on a platform at sea on January 17, writing, “Aiming to launch this weekend and (hopefully) land on our droneship.” Musk explained in a separate tweet, “Ship landings needed for high velocity missions.” Business Insider adds that “as Musk points out, a ship landing is critical for the missions that require really fast launch speeds.” According to the article, if SpaceX is able to safely land the rocket on the droneship, “it would be another success in furthering a revolution in space exploration,” which could potentially save the company millions of dollars through reusable rocket launches. International Business Times notes that the droneship barge is called “Just Read the Instructions” and measures 150 feet by 250 feet. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
More Info (CNN)
More Info (Business Insider)
More Info (Internatonal Business Times)



13 January 2016
Airbus Develops Counter-UAV System

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgThe Daily Mail reports that Airbus has developed a counter-UAV system that is capable of disabling an unmanned aerial vehicle in a monitored area by jamming its signal. According to the article, the system also has the ability to locate the operator of the device. Thomas Müller, head of the Electronics business unit at Airbus Defence and Space, explained that development of the system was prompted after “small drones have revealed a security gap with regards to critical installations such as military barracks, airports or nuclear plants.” The article adds that the system has been tested at Airbus’ facilities and during presentations in Germany and France. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Daily Mail)



13 January 2016
ESA, NASA Astronauts to Perform ISS Spacewalk During “Night Pass”

TimKopra_Dec2015Spacewalk_CreditNASA.pngAFP reports that according to NASA, the ESA’s Tim Peake and NASA’s Tim Kopra are set to perform a spacewalk on Friday in the dark to replace a malfunctioning power unit at the International Space Station (ISS), an excursion expected to take 6.5 hours. For the spacewalk, Peake and Kopra will have to carry a rectangular voltage regulator, a device that weighs 200 pounds on Earth, for 200 feet to the work site. In a press briefing, Paul Dum, lead spacewalk officer for NASA, explained, “It’s about as far at the space station as you can go from the airlock, which certainly raises the pucker factor for the crew.” According to the article, since NASA is unsure about the causes of the power unit failure, “they want the astronauts to avoid any danger from potential sparks by doing the work when the space station is doing a night pass.”   The Guardian adds that the spacewalk is “the first for a British astronaut with the European Space Agency.” (Image: NASA astronaut Tim Kopra during a spacewalk on Dec. 21, 2015. Credit: NASA)
More Info (AFP)
More Info (The Guardian)



12 January 2016
“Starman” David Bowie Mourned by Astronauts, Scientists, Celebrities

DavidBowie_Wiki.pngThe New York Times reports that the death of rock legend David Bowie “reverberated across Britain and the world” on Monday, as fans gathered en masse outside his childhood home in London “to express their deep and abiding affection for Mr. Bowie, a local hero whose gender-bending swagger and convention-busting music inspired generations of fans and provided a soundtrack for their lives.” Numerous celebrities and public figures, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Tony Blair, Madonna, and Kanye West, also chose to pay tribute to the musical pioneer. Meanwhile, in a tweet sent from the International Space Station, British astronaut Tim Peake said, “Saddened to hear David Bowie has lost his battle with cancer,” adding, “His music was an inspiration to many.” According to the Times, Peake has received the nickname Major Tim, “a nod to Mr. Bowie’s fictional astronaut Major Tom, who was immortalized in the song ‘Space Oddity.’”  The AP reports that a tribute from outer space “seemed fitting,” noting that with his unique and otherworldly demeanor, “Bowie often seemed like a creature from another planet, the ‘Starman’ of one of his 1970s hits.” (Image Credit: Adam Bielawski via Wikimedia Commons)
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12 January 2016
Google Says UAV Deliveries Could Begin Within One Year

Google_ProjectWing_Testing.jpgCNN reports that Davis Vos, the head of Google’s “Project Wing” initiative, said that it will be possible to deliver goods to customers via UAV within the next one to three years. CNN explains that “Google is currently working with NASA to create an air traffic control system that would allow for the safe operation of drones in the United States airspace.” On Monday, Vos said that “there is room for commercial drones in the already busy airspace” and that “it is developing the technology to be even safer than general aviation.” CNN points out that Google’s vision is contingent upon the FAA, which “is expected to finalize rules for commercial drones sometime this year,” and that an early draft of the rules would allow for UAVs “to be flown within the user’s line of sight, which would be extremely restrictive for companies looking to make deliveries by drone.” (Image Credit: Google/YouTube)
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11 January 2016
AIAA SciTech 2016: NASA Sees Proposed Moon Orbiting Station As Step Toward Mars

CislunarSpacePanel_SciTech2016.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reported that government and industry officials attending AIAA SciTech 2016 said that NASA and its contract partners are developing preliminary plans for a manned spacecraft to orbit the moon by 2024, the year the International Space Station (ISS) is set to retire. According to the Journal, speakers on the panel, “Research Enabling and Enabled by a Cis-Lunar One-Year Mission,” told attendees that the proposed missions aboard the spacecraft would initially last for a month, extending to yearlong ventures into cislunar space by 2030, which would set up the building blocks for an eventual three-year round-trip manned mission to Mars. The article also noted that while NASA officials have previously spoken in general about the logistics of reaching Mars, the January 8 panel at AIAA SciTech 2016 provided some of the most detailed technical and policy recommendations thus far regarding a slow, step-by-step approach for reaching the Red Planet. (Image: AIAA)
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11 January 2016
AIAA SciTech 2016: NASA Progressing On Development of Hybrid Aircraft Engine

Boeing_CST-100.jpgSpaceflight Insider reported that as one of the two spaceflight companies participating in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), Boeing “is looking to take large strides in the development and production of their CST-100 ‘Starliner’ spacecraft in 2016.” According to the article, CCP astronauts Eric Boe and Bob Behnken “recently reviewed some of the systems that the Starliner will have incorporated into its design via a simulator,” and also “got an advanced peek at what are referred to as ‘trainers’ that will simulate how the spacecraft is expected to perform.” Boe remarked, “The trainers look great, and this visit gives us an opportunity to meet with the Boeing engineers,” adding, “We appreciate them allowing us to give input on these trainers so the devices are ready when they arrive at Johnson Space Center.” The article added that Boeing is set to meet a number of milestones during 2016 as well. (Image Credit: NASA)
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8 January 2016
AIAA SciTech 2016: NASA Progressing On Development of Hybrid Aircraft Engine

FutureAirplaneConcepts_NASA.jpgRT reports that at the ongoing AIAA SciTech 2016 forum, NASA is highlighting “the current state of its propulsion research.” The article specifies that at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, agency scientists and engineers “are looking at electrical systems that could either replace or complement the current turbine engines, turning electricity into thrust,” while adding that doing so “is not going to be simple.” Jim Heidmann, manager for the Advanced Air Transport Technology project at NASA, explained that switching toward “alternative systems requires creating new aircraft designs as well as propulsion systems.” Amy Jankovsky, sub-project lead engineer, added, “Part of our research is developing the lightweight machinery and electrical systems that will be required to make these systems possible.” Meanwhile, Cheryl Bowman, project technical lead, remarked, “Our work is laying a foundation for planes that will require less fossil fuel in the future.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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8 January 2016
Boeing Announces Record Delivery Numbers for 2015

Boeing737Max.jpgThe Wall Street Journal reports that on Thursday, Boeing announced that it delivered a record 762 jetliners in 2015, topping its delivery target of 755 and positioning the company as the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world for the fourth consecutive year, ahead of rival Airbus, which delivered 556 jets. According to the Journal, Boeing spearheaded its delivery growth through an increase in production of its narrow-body 737 jet, and its advanced long-haul 787 Dreamliner. However, its number of new net orders fell by nearly half for the year – dropping to 768 orders compared to the 1,432 orders secured in 2014 – as the company sought to match its delivery and order counts. Meanwhile, Airbus netted 1,000 new deals in 2015. Bloomberg News reports that the two rival companies have both increased their production outputs “to keep pace with sizable backlogs as global carriers upgrade their fleets amid surging demand for air travel.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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8 January 2016
SpaceX Planning to Perform Drone Ship Rocket Landing

SpaceXBoosterLanding_Apr2015_SpaceX.jpgOn its website, NBC News reports that SpaceX has confirmed that it intends to make history once again on January 17 by landing its Falcon 9 first-stage booster on a drone ship at sea after launching NASA’s Jason-3 satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The article notes that SpaceX has previously attempted to land a rocket on a drone ship, “an automated seagoing landing platform,” explaining that “a last-minute failure saw the rocket topple over and explode in spectacular fashion.” According to the article, a mobile landing platform could provide “more flexibility in when and how launches can proceed,” and could also “conceivably be placed where it is safest or most fuel-efficient for the rocket to come down.” (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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8 January 2016
Analysis: NASA Must Partner Up for Mars Mission

MarsMission_JPLNASA.jpgIn an analysis, Bloomberg News reports that although NASA officials have said little about the total estimated cost of a mission to Mars, “analysts estimate that the tab could run anywhere from $100 billion to $1 trillion or more,” requiring the space agency to seek help from its international partners. The article notes that in December, Congress approved “$19.3 billion for the fiscal year 2016, with $3.3 billion tagged for [the Orion Capsule] and [the Space Launch System].” Meanwhile, Marco Caceres, senior analyst at the Teal Group, noted that NASA has been coy on the finances of a Mars mission, in part to avoid “scaring” lawmakers, and estimated that the trip to the red planet would cost at least $1 trillion. Similarly, Casey Dreier, advocacy director for The Planetary Society, explained that “everyone expects that a multinational coalition is going to be involved at some level.”  (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
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7 January 2016
EHang Unveils World’s First Passenger UAV

EHang_184_AssociatedPress_2.jpgThe AP reports that China-based UAV developer EHang has released “what it calls the world’s first drone capable of carrying a human passenger.” According to the AP, the UAV is powered by electricity and resembles “a small helicopter but with four doubled propellers spinning parallel to the ground like other drones.” The system can be powered in two hours, can fly for 23 minutes at sea level, and includes a cabin capable of fitting one person inside. EHang co-founder and CFO Shang Hsiao said that the company intends to sell the device for a price ranging between $200,000 and $300,000, but added that the system is currently in a legal “grey area.” Chief Marketing Officer Derrick Xiong claims that the vehicle has flown over 100 times, with several flights including a passenger inside. The Daily Mail features a video of the UAV, known as the Ehang 184 AAV. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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7 January 2016
FAA Says 181,000 UAVs Registered Since December 21

/DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommons.jpgThe Washington Post reports that according to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, more than 181,000 UAVs have been registered with the federal government since the agency opened the registry on December 21. Speaking on a panel during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Huerta said, “We’re encouraged by the registration numbers we’re seeing so far,” adding that “this is just the beginning.” The article notes that UAV owners have until January 20 to “take advantage of free registration; the $5 fee will come back to them as a refund.” Violators could face civil fines of up to $27,500, as well as potential criminal charges, if they don’t register their UAV.  (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
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7 January 2016
If You Set Out to Explore the Universe, Sound Technology Is a Must

SteveGaddis_AtAIAASciTech2016.jpgAs planetary exploration efforts ramp up in future years, we must ensure that we have the technology to make those explorations safe and successful, a panel of experts told attendees Jan. 6 at the 2016 AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition in San Diego. The panel, “Space Exploration Through Advancing Technologies,” brought together representatives from various NASA directorates to explain what technology is being developed and what technology still needs to be developed as various exploration efforts unfold. (Image: Steve Gaddis, director of the Game Changing Development Program at NASA moderates a panel discussion at AIAA SciTech 2016 in San Diego, CA. Credit: AIAA)
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6 January 2016
Ensuring Resilient Weapons Engineering That Can Keep Pace with Changing Threats

JefferyHolland_SciTech2016.jpgFrom its first flight in 1954, the B-52 has served as the dominant U.S. heavy bomber. It has been modified, retrofitted and upgraded since then to reflect changing missions and technologies, carrying gravity bombs to precision-guided missiles to drones. Could the Boeing-built bomber have been designed from the get-go to make those adaptations cheaper and quicker? Ensuring that the answer is a “yes” for all of the Pentagon’s weapons procurement was the topic of Jeffery Holland’s keynote speech Jan. 6 at the 2016 AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition in San Diego. (Image: Jeffery Holland, director, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, delivers remarks on January 6, at AIAA SciTech 2016, in San Diego, CA. Credit: AIAA)
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6 January 2016
Robert H. Liebeck Delivers AIAA 2016 Dryden Lectureship in Research

RobertLiebeck_SciTech2016.jpgRobert H. Liebeck, senior technical fellow at Boeing, delivered the 2016 AIAA Dryden Lectureship in Research on the evening of Jan. 5 at the AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition in San Diego. Robert H. Liebeck, senior technical fellow at Boeing, delivered the 2016 AIAA Dryden Lectureship in Research on the evening of Jan. 5 at the AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition in San Diego. The lecture was titled “Blended Wing Body Technology Readiness.” (Image: Dr. Robert H. Liebeck (left) receives Dryden Lectureship in Research medal on the evening of January 5, at AIAA SciTech 2016, in San Diego, CA. Credit: AIAA)
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5 January 2016
DJI Launches 2016 Developer Challenge, Announces New UAV Software Development Kit

DJIPhantom3_AssociatedPressAlexBrandon_Purchased.jpgIn a press release posted through PRNewswire, leading UAV company DJI announced on Monday that it had launched its third annual developer challenger, and unveiled the Mobile SDK 3.0, “a new version of the software development kit that will underpin the competition and facilitate creation of a more robust application ecosystem for drones.” According to the press release, the 2016 DJI Developer Challenge is focused on a “theoretical search-and-rescue mission,” features a $100,000 winning prize, and is “open to students and developers around the world.” (Image: DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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5 January 2016
Recovered SpaceX Booster Returns to Hangar

SpaceXBoosterInHangar_Wiki.jpgOn its website, the AP reports that the Falcon 9 rocket “is back in its nest following a historic landing,” adding that SpaceX “shared a picture of the returned booster Sunday,” shown lying horizontally inside a hangar at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The article notes that while SpaceX CEO Elon Musk “plans to fire the booster again in a test to demonstrate rocket reusability,” the rocket “won’t fly again, given its significance.” Still, according to the AP, SpaceX may perform another rocket landing “as early as next month on a space station supply run for NASA.” (Image Credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons)
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4 January 2016
FAA Expands Special Flight Rules Area to 30-Mile Radius Around Reagan National

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased.jpgIn continuing coverage, the AP reported that the FAA has updated its guidance on where unmanned aircraft may not be flown in the Washington, DC, region. Whereas the agency “warned this summer that unmanned aircraft, such as drones and model aircraft, were prohibited within 15 miles of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport,” the agency’s website “now says they’re banned from Washington’s special flight rules area, a ring with a 30-mile radius encircling much of southern and central Maryland and northern Virginia.” The Washington Post reported that last week, the FAA “sent out a memo to dozens of model aircraft sites in the Washington area telling them that they needed to halt activity because some users were flying within the ‘special flight rules area’” around Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). According to the article, “the FAA announced that drones were subject to a 30-mile prohibition around National” in September. Yet model aircraft had been in place around DCA since September, and yet model aircraft hobbyists were still under the impression for months “that the rule was 15 miles,” at first thinking the FAA directive to be “a mistake.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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