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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

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 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.


16 November 2018
NASA, Northrop Grumman Delay Antares Launch To Saturday

OrbitalATK-AntaresAviation Week reports that NASA and Northrop Grumman have “delayed for a second day the company’s 10th agency contracted resupply mission launch to the International Space Station (ISS) because of high winds and rough seas at the Wallops Island Flight Facility launch site” on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. SPACE reports that the launch of a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus NG-10 cargo vessel will take place early Saturday morning, with the launch window opening at 3:30 a.m. EST. In a statement, NASA officials said that the launch forecast for Saturday is “significantly improved with a less than five percent chance of weather conditions preventing a launch.” If the mission takes place Saturday, Cygnus should arrive at the ISS “early Monday (Nov. 19), when it will be captured by astronauts with a robotic arm and berthed at an open port on the orbiting lab.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Aviation Week)


16 November 2018
FCC Approves Bids To Expand Satellite Internet Constellations

Communications-Satellite-NASAReuters reports that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously Thursday to grant “market access” to SpaceX, Telesat Canada, Kepler Communications, and LeoSat in their bids to “offer high-speed internet service and connectivity for sensors and other intelligence devices.” The FCC approved SpaceX’s initial plans in March, and “further approved the company’s request on Thursday for access to additional frequencies and to operate an additional 7,500 satellites at very low-Earth altitudes.” SpaceX won approval Thursday to operate some of the satellites at lower altitudes. In its order approving the application, the FCC said that the revisions would “provide SpaceX with additional flexibility to provide both diverse geographic coverage and the capacity to support a wide range of proposed broadband and communications services in the United States and globally. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


15 November 2018
American Airlines Was “Unaware” Of 737 MAX’s Anti-Stall System Until Last Week

Boeing737MaxIn continuing coverage of the Lion Air crash and questions surrounding the safety of an anti-stall system on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, Reuters reports that an American Airlines spokesman said, “We value our partnership with Boeing, but were unaware of some of the functionality of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) installed on the MAX 8.” The spokesperson added, “We must ensure that our pilots are fully trained on procedures and understand key systems on the aircraft they fly.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)


15 November 2018
US Air Force Hardening F-35’s Cybersecurity Weak Points

F35-LukeAFB_USAF-WikipediaDefense News reports that the US Air Force is devoting “fresh energy to plugging cybersecurity holes in the F-35’s external support systems, as they are deemed the easiest entry points for hackers into the fifth-generation combat jet, according to a key service official.” According to Air Force F-35 Integration Office Director Brig. Gen. Stephen Jost, “It’s a software-based aircraft, and any software-based platform is going to be susceptible to hacking.” The service considers Lockheed Martin’s software “relatively safe” thanks to what Jost described as “multilayer security protections,” including secure authentication. However, the service’s confidence wanes “as you get further from the air vehicle,” Jost said, citing “a lot of nodes of vulnerability that we’re trying to shore up,” such as the Autonomic Logistics Information System or the Joint Reprogramming Environment. (Image: F-35 Lightning II. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Defense News)


14 November 2018
JAXA HSRC Survives Re-Entry

HSRC-Recovery-JAXA SPACE reports that on Saturday, JAXA’s HTV Small Re-Entry Capsule (HSRC) became the “first Japanese spacecraft to bring experiments back to Earth from the space station.” The HSRC was released from the Japanese HTV-7 cargo resupply vessel during reentry following a deorbit burn and “began its own descent.” The capsule was recovered and “brought to JAXA headquarters at the Tsukuba Space Center for analysis.” As a result of the successful test mission, “JAXA can start using the HSRC to bring science experiments back to Earth using a Japanese aircraft, rather than having to hitch a ride with SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.” (Image Credit: JAXA/Twitter)
More Info (SPACE)


14 November 2018
Airbus Plans In-Orbit Manufacturing Demonstration In 2022

Laser-3D-Printing-Airbus Aviation Week reports that Airbus plans to carry out testing of a prototype manufacturing system “based on an autonomous robotic arm” through early 2019. The design of satellites assembled in space and not subjected to the acceleration and vibration of launches “could be very different, according to Gwenaëlle Aridon, a research and development engineer at Airbus.” Structure allowing satellites to “withstand 15 min. of launch loads can account for up to half of a satellite’s weight,” and at $11,000 to $56,000 “per kilogram to launch, the extra cost is significant.” Solar panels and antenna reflectors could be larger, and researchers believe that additive manufacturing may help to develop such satellites. Companies including Made IN Space and SpiderFab are already working on this technology, “and Airbus wants a short time to market.” According to Aridon, “We are using an agile method for design and development.” The in-orbit “demonstration in 2022 will use the ISS’ infrastructure.” Virtual reality will be used to “devise a manufacturing sequence, which will be followed by the robotic arm in orbit.” (Image Credit: ESA)
More Info (Aviation Week)


13 November 2018
Aurora Flight Science’s Autonomous Research Profiled

Aurora_VTOL In a video, the Wall Street Journal (Subscription Publication) reports on The Boeing Company subsidiary Aurora Flight Science’s work to develop autonomous aircraft – including helicopters, UAVs, and planes for the US military – and flies aboard an autonomous Aurora helicopter, the first journalists to do so. Aurora CEO John Langford is interviewed and said that autonomous technology allows more dangerous mission profiles to be considered that would not normally be, due to the risk to pilots. Langford also sees the removal of humans as a factor which will allow for further innovation in aircraft design and improved performance. (Image Credit: Aurora Flight Sciences)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


13 November 2018
ISS Resupply Mission Scheduled To Launch Thursday From Wallops Island

Antares-set-for-launch-2017-NASA The AP reports that an unmanned rocket carrying a Cygnus cargo craft is scheduled to launch shortly before 5 a.m. Thursday from a spaceport on Virginia’s Wallops Island on an ISS resupply mission. The craft will “carry 7,500 pounds of groceries, hardware and research.” NASA TV will “stream the launch on its website beginning at 4:15 a.m.” (Image: Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, on launch Pad-0A, 10 Nov. 2017 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
More Info (Associated Press)


9 November 2018
Hackers Access DJI UAV Customer Data

DJI_Phantom4_AP Bloomberg News reports that hackers have been able to access “the flight paths, photos, and aerial video footage” collected by UAV manufacturer DJI Technology, “adding to fears about the security of pilotless flying devices.” According to a report from Check Point Software Technologies, “Access to customer accounts...could be gained via a vulnerability on the company’s website forum.” Check Point “said if left unpatched, the vulnerability could have given attackers access to information including maps providing intricate details and images of critical infrastructure facilities.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


9 November 2018
ATR, Air New Zealand Sign Agreement To Explore Hybrid Propulsion For Regional Aircraft

Airbus-E-Fan-electric-aircraft-AP-Purchased FlightGlobal reports that ATR and Air New Zealand signed an agreement to “explore the potential for hybrid propulsion to be used in regional aircraft.” Under the agreement, both companies will “consider the development of hybrid technology and how they might be supported in operations as they come to market in future years.” Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon explains that as “hybrid and electric technologies become available for larger turbo-prop aircraft, we believe there is potential for these to be a viable option for our regional network.” ATR CEO Stefan Bortoli also expects hybrid and electric propulsion to play a large role in future regional aircraft development. Bortoli adds that the ATR and Air New Zealand Team “jointly exploring the huge opportunities and implications on the whole regional aviation ecosystem is the perfect team.” (Image: An Airbus Group E-Fan electric aircraft flies during the ILA Berlin Air Show in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


8 November 2018
SpaceX To Test BFR Technology On Modified Falcon 9 Upper Stage

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Space News reports that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk outlined plans Wednesday to “attempt an orbital flight of a reusable version of a Falcon 9 upper stage by the middle of next year to test technologies for the company’s next-generation launch vehicle.” Musk announced the modification in a series of tweets in an “apparent reference to a path of upgrades the company is pursuing as it develops its Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), a fully reusable launch system.” According to Musk, a “Falcon 9 second stage will be upgraded to be like a mini-BFR Ship.” Musk later indicated that the modification will trial “Ultra light heat shield & high Mach control surfaces,” which SpaceX “can’t test well without orbital entry.” However, the upgraded upper stage “would not be used to test landings.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


8 November 2018
NASA Outlines Urban Air Mobility Plans

Urban-air-mobility-environment-NASA ExecutiveBiz reports that NASA held a two-day meeting in Seattle last week “to inform commercial, academic and government organizations of the space agency’s plans to develop an urban air mobility ecosystem.” More than 400 government and aviation industry representatives “engaged in discussions about the UAM Grand Challenge, which is scheduled to officially launch in late 2020, NASA said Wednesday.” NASA hopes to demonstrate the potential for UAVs to “carry adult passengers within a simulated and complex urban environment.” The FAA will collect “information from the activities to provide regulatory guidelines on the safety, certification and airspace integration of UAM operations.” Interested parties can express interest to NASA about participating in the Grand Challenge until November 16. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (ExecutiveBiz)


7 November 2018
Boeing To Issue Safety Bulletin To 737 MAX Operators

Boeing737Max Reuters reports that The Boeing Company plans to send a bulletin to operators of the 737 MAX aircraft “as soon as Wednesday warning that erroneous readings from a flight-monitoring system could cause a dramatic dive, a person briefed on the matter said.” The warning stems from preliminary information “gathered in the investigation of a Lion Air flight that crashed in Indonesia last week killing all 189 on board, the person told Reuters.”(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)


7 November 2018
“Off-Nominal Data” Scrubs NASA’s ICON Mission Shortly After Takeoff

NASAOrion2018 Florida Today reports that teams scrubbed the first attempt to launch a “Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket carrying the $242 million Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission after it took off from Cape Canaveral under the belly of a carrier aircraft” just before 3 a.m. EST. According to NASA’s Launch Services Program, engineers “encountered an anomaly” while flying the rocket to its drop zone off the coast of Florida, adding that the “team is evaluating the next launch attempt.” A 90-minute window will open 3:05 a.m. EST Thursday, and the weather forecast “is good, with an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions.” Following this window, the Eastern Range closes “for an unspecified period, and it was not immediately clear when the next opportunity would be available,” as SpaceX is also preparing for a Falcon 9 launch next week. The source of the anomaly is not immediately clear. During the ferry flight of the Pegasus from Vandenberg AFB to Cape Canaveral last month, data collected “raised concerns about the electrical system that controls three fins on the three-stage rocket’s first stage.” Components were swapped out, and “Northrop performed a nearly five-hour flight test on Oct. 28 to prove the changes had worked.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Florida Today)


6 November 2018
Crashed Lion Air Flight Had Damaged Airspeed Indicator On Four Previous Flights

Indonesia-Lion-Air-Crash-APImages Reuters reports that Indonesian accident investigators “said an airspeed indicator of a Boeing Co (BA.N) 737 MAX plane that crashed in the Java Sea last week was damaged for its last four flights, but US authorities responded cautiously to suggestions of fleet-wide checks.” The error was revealed after data was “downloaded from the plane’s flight data recorder, Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) chief Soerjanto Tjahjono told reporters on Monday.” According to Tjahjono, “We are formulating, with NTSB and Boeing, detailed inspections regarding the airspeed indicator.” However, FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell cautioned, “Any action the FAA would take regarding that incident would have to wait until we have findings, until we have information.” It is not “immediately clear whether the problem with the crashed jet stemmed from a mechanical or maintenance issue,” and the FAA has not received similar reports of airspeed issues with the model in the US. (Image: Rescuers use a crane to retrieve part of the landing gears of the crashed Lion Air jet from the sea floor in the waters of Tanjung Karawang, Indonesia, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)


6 November 2018
Weather Favorable For Launch of NASA’s ICON

NASAOrion2018 Florida Today reports that the US Air Force’s weather forecasters estimate 80 percent “go” conditions for the planned launch of NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) spacecraft early Wednesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Skid Strip. A L-1011 Stargazer aircraft will carry a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket to launch ICON into low-Earth orbit. Teams are expected to “conduct a pre-launch readiness review Tuesday morning.” At an altitude of around 360 miles, ICON will be able to use “its suite of instruments to collect data on the zone where Earth and space weather meet.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Florida Today)


5 November 2018
Airbus Delivers Orion “Powerhouse” To NASA

NASAOrion2018 Reuters reported that Airbus delivered the “powerhouse” Friday for NASA’s new Orion spacecraft “that will take astronauts to the Moon and beyond in coming years, hitting a key milestone that should lead to hundreds of millions of euros in future orders.” Airbus engineers in Bremen, Germany, on Thursday “carefully packed the spacecraft into a special container that will fly aboard a huge Antonov cargo plane to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a first step on its way to deep space.” In Florida, the module will be joined to the Lockheed Martin-built Orion crew capsule, “followed by over a year of intensive testing before the first three-week mission orbiting the Moon is launched in 2020, albeit without people.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


5 November 2018
NASA Plans Urban Air Mobility “Grand Challenge”

Urban-air-mobility-environment-NASA Aviation Week reported that NASA has rolled out its “Grand Challenge plan to help guide, foster and enable the coming generation of urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles,” and is asking for industry feedback to “fine tune and guide the initiative.” Although electric and hybrid-electric aircraft “hold the potential to revolutionize society, NASA Aeronautics Associate Administrator Jaiwon Shin warns that their development could go badly wrong” without being developed and deployed properly. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Aviation Week)


2 November 2018
NASA: “No Decision” On Next Astronaut Launch

NASA-astronaut-AerospaceAmerica Aerospace America reports that on Thursday, Russia announced “plans to launch an American astronaut, a Canadian astronaut and a cosmonaut to the space station on Dec. 3, about two months after an aborted launch sent a Soyuz capsule plunging to the Kazakhstan desert in an accident that miraculously left neither occupant seriously injured.” Roscosmos officials made the announcement during a “press conference that they followed with the release of a one-page statement.” However, NASA will conduct a flight readiness review with its astronauts before the Soyuz launch, and according to Rob Navias, a spokesman for the Johnson Space Center (JSC), “No decision has been made on where they would fit in to the schedule yet.” According to Navias, NASA engineers did not take part in the investigation at Baikonur, but NASA officials in Moscow were “actively involved in discussions with them about their review of data about what the most probable cause was.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
Full Story (Aerospace America)


2 November 2018
AFRL Plans 2020 Test Of Laser, Microwave Weapon Systems

Laser-Weapon-AerospaceAmerica Aerospace America reports that the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) issued a request for information asking for ideas for “Directed Energy on an Airborne Platform,” specifically laser and microwave weapons with the ability to “precisely attack ground targets” while defending against “surface-to-air missiles and air-to-air missiles.” The request adds that “responses could also determine the viability of directed energy weapons for possible ‘base defense against cruise missile systems.’” Responses are due by November 30 “to help AFRL plan for a directed energy weapon experiment in fiscal 2020 that could lead to future contracts.” The request includes a requirement that the directed energy system be capable of “wingman defense” and destroying missiles targeting nearby aircraft. Size and weight are challenges, Air Force Chief of Directed Energy Experimentation Michael Jirjis “said, because directed energy designs submitted to AFRL must include both an electrical power source and a means to keep it from overheating.” Jirjis added that currently “a C-130-like platform seem[s] to offer the best option at the moment for offense and defense.” Raytheon “said it participated in a demonstration of its ground-based microwave emitters and lasers hosted this month by the Air Force at the US Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.” AFRL has not provided “details about the demonstration or confirmed if multiple companies demonstrated weapons.” Raytheon and Lockheed Martin would not confirm “if they would respond to ARFL’s request for information related to the proposed fiscal 2020 flight experiment.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
Full Story


1 November 2018
Ottawa Issues Draft RFP For Hornet Fleet Replacement

F18-transonicFlight FlightGlobal reports that the Royal Canadian Air Force issued a draft request for proposal (RFP) “to five potential suppliers to replace its Boeing CF-18A/B Hornet fleet,” including The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, Dassault Aviation, Airbus Defense, and Saab. The suppliers will have around eight weeks to provide feedback to “help refine and finalize the formal RFP.” The service plans to receive initial proposals “between summer and winter 2019,” with a contract awarded in the winter of 2021. Ottawa hopes to receive initial aircraft by 2025, “with initial operational capability achieved by 2026.” Canadian Minister of Public Services, Procurement and Accessibility Carla Qualtrough, speaking a day before the RFP was released, called the program “one of the largest procurements the government has ever undertaken,” representing the “most significant investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in more than thirty years.” (Image: F/A-18F Super Hornet in transonic flight. Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


1 November 2018
NASA Scientists Developing Carbon Nanoscale Composite Materials For Deep Space Missions

DeepSpaceGatewayNASA ExecutiveGov reports that a group of NASA researchers is working on a “technology that will leverage carbon nanotube composite materials to conduct rocket and spacecraft launches for use in deep space exploration missions.” The scientists are led by NASA’s Langley Research Center and have “partnered with Nanocomp Technologies to increase the production of high-strength carbon nanotube yarn as part of the Super-lightweight Aerospace Composites program, the space agency said Tuesday.” NASA Game Changing Development Program Executive LaNetra Tate “said researchers are looking at leveraging ultra-lightweight materials – such as carbon nanotubes – for space technology applications since they contain mechanical properties that can be used for such endeavors.” (Image: Artist rendering of concept for Deep Space Gateway. Credit: NASA)
More Info (ExecutiveGov)


31 October 2018
Billionaires Fund Fusion Energy Projects In “SpaceX Moment”

Nuclear-Propulsion-via-conversion-of-Fusion-Energy-NASA Bloomberg News reports that Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Peter Thiel are among investors funding efforts to create the “first commercially viable fusion reactor.” The technology has long been known to have the “potential to revolutionize the energy industry, but development costs have been too high for all but a handful of governments and investors.” However, recent advances in “exotic materials, 3D printing, machine learning and data processing are all changing that.” The $23 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project in Cadarache, France plans to have a working device by around 2050. General Fusion head Christofer Mowry believes that today is the “SpaceX moment for fusion. (Image: Nuclear Propulsion Through Direct Conversion of Fusion Energy. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


31 October 2018
Scientists Seeking To Develop Battery That Could Power Aircraft

Airbus-E-Fan-electric-aircraft-350-AP-Purchased MIT Technology Review reports that a group of scientists is seeking to markedly increase the rate at which batteries discharge electricity. If the scientists are successful, according to MIT Technology Review, “it would enable regional commuter flights that don’t burn fuel or produce direct climate emissions.” The scientists’ first plan is to make a battery that could support a plane with 12 people onboard for 400 miles, and in the subsequent phase, they are seeking to power a plane that can carry 50 people for the same number of miles. The planes would still carry fuel as required by the FAA’s “reserve requirement” for safety purposes. (Image: An Airbus Group E-Fan electric aircraft flies during the ILA Berlin Air Show in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (MIT Technology Review)


30 October 2018
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Sets Record For “Closest Approach To Sun”

ParkerSolarProbe-NASAThe AP reports that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is “now closer to the sun than any spacecraft has ever gotten.” The spacecraft passed the previous record “of 26.6 million miles (43 million kilometers) set by Helios-2 back in 1976,” and will keep approaching “until it flies through the corona, or outer atmosphere, for the first time next week, passing within 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) of the solar surface.” Parker plans to make 24 close approaches to the sun “over the next seven years, ultimately coming within just 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers).” SPACE reports that the Parker Solar Probe is also expected to break Helios 2’s record for “fastest speed relative to the sun” at 153,454 mph. The records will “fall again and again over the course of the Parker Solar Probe’s $1.5 billion mission.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)


30 October 2018
Airbus Plans A330-800’s First Flight Next Week

Airbus-A330-Wiki FlightGlobal reports that Airbus has “tentatively narrowed the A330-800 first flight window to the week beginning 5 November.” The company has been conducting ground and engine tests on the aircraft, and hopes to “carry out the maiden flight next week,” subject to weather conditions. The aircraft recently had its Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines installed, and once it “embarks on its certification campaign,” the aircraft is likely to conduct “some 300h of flight tests.” (Image Credit: pjs2005 | Wikipedia)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


29 October 2018
NTSB Calls For Cockpit Voice Recorder Upgrades

Air-Canada-Aerospace-America-Oct2018 Aerospace America reported that the NTSB “has asked the FAA to require cockpit voice recorders to be able to carry 25 hours of audio” in order to aid investigators of airline accidents. The relative rarity of fatal airline accidents means that “investigators now have more time to investigate close calls.” According to NTSB Director of Aviation Safety John DeLisi, “It’s fascinating to have the luxury of doing a full, deep-dive investigation into something in which there was no damage and there was no injury.” DeLisi explained that cockpit voice recorders with expanded capacity “will allow more time for folks to recognize what happened” before the audio is overwritten. He added that recorders would require “just a different memory chip” to store the additional audio. The FAA’s safety board “recommended to the FAA that the cockpit voice recorders on newly manufactured aircraft should include these memory chips, and that hundreds of aircraft already flying should be retrofitted with these chips by 2024.” However, Delisi said “the jury is still out” as to whether the FAA will require companies to follow the recommendations. (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
More Info (Aerospace America)


29 October 2018
NASA Seeks To Expand Use Of Additive Manufacturing In Space Operations

3DPrinter-ISS-CreditNASA ExecutiveGov reported that NASA aims to “build habitats on other planets and landing pods through the use of additive manufacturing processes.” NASA Director of Advanced Exploration Systems Jason Crusan “said manufacturing advancements on Earth have made 3D printers capable of developing necessary tools for the agency’s space-based operations.” Crusan anticipates that additive manufacturing could help NASA respond quickly to emergencies aboard the ISS instead of waiting almost three or four months for equipment deliveries. NASA is currently developing a “refabricator in an effort to help ISS crew recycle or print materials, and the agency plans to implement the refabricator to understand the amount of times a component is printed before its material properties change.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (ExecutiveGov)


26 October 2018
Belgium Confirms Selection Of F-35A To Replace F-16 Fleet

F-35-Lightnight-II-Wikipedia Space News reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) now expects to “perform the first launch of its next-generation Vulcan rocket in the spring of 2021, a slip of nearly a year that the company says is due to requirements of a recent Air Force award.” During a panel at the American Astronautical Society’s Wernher von Braun Symposium Thursday, ULA COO John Elbon cited “good progress” on the vehicle’s development, and added, “Our first certification flight is targeted for April of ‘21. We were really excited about the results of the Air Force’s LSA procurement. We’re off and marching.” ULA had until September planned for a 2020 launch. Speaking after the panel, Elbon “said the shift in the first launch to April 2021 is linked to the requirements of the LSA award from the Air Force.” (Image: United Launch Alliance Atlas V launches Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft to the ISS. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


26 October 2018
ULA Plans First Vulcan Launch For 2021

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA Space News reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) now expects to “perform the first launch of its next-generation Vulcan rocket in the spring of 2021, a slip of nearly a year that the company says is due to requirements of a recent Air Force award.” During a panel at the American Astronautical Society’s Wernher von Braun Symposium Thursday, ULA COO John Elbon cited “good progress” on the vehicle’s development, and added, “Our first certification flight is targeted for April of ‘21. We were really excited about the results of the Air Force’s LSA procurement. We’re off and marching.” ULA had until September planned for a 2020 launch. Speaking after the panel, Elbon “said the shift in the first launch to April 2021 is linked to the requirements of the LSA award from the Air Force.” (Image: United Launch Alliance Atlas V launches Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft to the ISS. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


25 October 2018
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Offline Again

Kepler_NASA SPACE reports that NASA’s “long-suffering” Kepler Space Telescope returned to sleep mode “just a few days after its most recent observing campaign began, the agency said in a statement released” Tuesday. According to the agency, “Following a successful return of data from the last observation campaign, the Kepler team commanded the spacecraft into position to begin collecting data for its next campaign,” and on Friday “during a regularly scheduled spacecraft contact using NASA’s Deep Space Network, the team learned that the spacecraft had transitioned to its no-fuel-use sleep mode.” Kepler engineers have been “worried about the spacecraft’s fuel supplies since this spring, and in recent months the telescope has conducted only partial observing campaigns, then fallen asleep to ensure it has enough juice to send the data back to Earth.” Despite this and a separate issue with alignment, “Kepler has been an overwhelming success and is now an iconic NASA project,” identifying more than 2,650 planets orbiting stars. (Image: Artist’s conception of the Kepler space telescope observing planets. Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (SPACE)


25 October 2018
NASA Spacewalks Remain On Hold

Cosmonauts-Feb2018-Spacewalk-NASAThe Houston Chronicle reports that NASA has not rescheduled spacewalks “canceled after American astronaut Nick Hague’s launch to the International Space Station was aborted earlier this month.” The spacewalks were originally scheduled for October 13 and Thursday to upgrade the ISS’s power systems. However, NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) Director Mark Geyer “said he is confident everything will sort itself out.” Speaking Wednesday at JSC, Geyer reminded reporters, “I think it’s important to remember they’re flying several vehicles a year...with that flight rate, I don’t think its unusual that you’re going to have these issues. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info


24 October 2018
Personal Helicopters Could Replace Vehicular Commutes

Bell-Urban-Air-Taxi-Concept-AP-Purchased USA Today reports on the future possibility of “putting down a $1,000-reservation to buy a ‘personal helicopter’ – a small, relatively inexpensive, partially electric powered craft designed for two people taking short hops.” Workhorse Group, based in Cincinnati-based Workhorse, “believes it’s on the forefront of electric vertical take off and landing technology, or eVTOL.” The company plans to sell its first helicopter model by 2021. The aircraft will include a “ballistic parachute” – a parachute deployed by an explosive charge – intended to work at altitudes above 100 feet. (Image: Bell Helicopter's autonomous air taxi concept is displayed at CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press–©) /Jae C. Hong)
More Info (USA Today)


24 October 2018
NASA Expects Soyuz Flights To ISS To Resume In December

International-Space-Station-NASA CBS News reports NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Tuesday that he expects Russia to resume piloted Soyuz flights in December. Bridenstine said that Russian engineers have a “really, really good idea” what forced Soyuz MS-10 commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA flight engineer Nick Hague to abort their launch to the ISS on Oct. 11. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CBS News)


23 October 2018
US Navy Commissions First UAV Test Squadron

MQ-8-AP-Purchased Aviation International News reports that the US Navy commissioned its first test squadron dedicated to UAVs in a ceremony on October 18. The creation of the squadron was “approved by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, in April.” Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24 continues the “work of the UAS Test Directorate of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD).” During the squadron’s commissioning ceremony, UX-24 Commander Matthew Densing said, “This squadron centralizes the Navy’s technical excellence in unmanned aviation. As the Navy continues to require the broad range of capability offered by UASs, UX-24 will always challenge the status quo.” The squadron operates more than 23 UAVs, including the “Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout, Boeing/Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack, Aeronautics RQ-26 Aerostar, and the RQ-11 Raven, RQ-12 Wasp and RQ-20 Puma from AeroVironment,” as well as a number of commercial UAVs. The Fire Scout is in active testing with the squadron. (Image: MQ-8. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Aviation International News)


23 October 2018
NASA Makes Progress In Hubble Gyro Repair

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASA Space News reports that engineers have made progress “correcting a faulty gyro on the Hubble Space Telescope, making NASA optimistic the space telescope can resume normal operations in the near future.” Hubble has been kept in safe mode “since the failure of the third of its six gyroscopes Oct. 5.” During a Monday meeting of NASA’s Astrophysics Advisory Council, “Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, said engineers had made progress in correcting what are known as ‘high bias rates’ with the faulty gyro, designated gyro 3.” According to Hertz, engineers have been “changing some of the controls on gyro 3 and have succeeded in reducing the anomalous high bias rates to rates which may be in the usable range.” Additional tests will confirm if rates remain in acceptable ranges. If these were to “bear out,” Hertz said, “then we would be able to return Hubble to science mode using all three gyros.” The engineering tests are expected to continue through this week. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


22 October 2018
Deadline Nears For US Army UAV Competition

Textron-Systems-X5-55 Aerospace America reported that the deadline is approaching for companies to submit bids for a US Army-led “Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems” competition for “runway independent” UAVs slated to begin test flights in 2020. The deadline for responses to the request for proposals is October 29. The Army and Special Operations Command currently operate “hundreds of unmanned, RQ-7 Shadow aircraft, each weighing around 200 kilograms.” These aircraft must stay “within range of a runway, a limiting factor that the Army-led Future Vertical Lift program, which manages a wide range of research, wants to overcome with a new generation of aircraft.” Army Lt. Col. Matt Isaacson explained that the military wants smaller, lighter aircraft “that a unit can easily take with them and don’t require a lot of support equipment.” The Army plans to acquire two aircraft from “three vendors for a total of six unmanned aircraft that would be flown in 2020” under a “buy, try, decide” procurement model. (Image: Textron System's X5-55 drone on display at the AUSA 2018 meeting. Credit: Aerospace America)
More Info (Aerospace America)


22 October 2018
NASA Considers Moon As Observational Platform For Gathering Data

LunarBase-NASA ExecutiveGov reported that NASA is considering the possibility of using the moon as an “observational platform from which scientists can gather data on the sun or other celestial bodies.” NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Steve Clarke “said such efforts can serve as a step toward developing capabilities to embark on future Mars missions.” Clarke added that such missions can also help NASA prepare for “more complex future missions such as: searching for usable resources; building up a seismic network to understand the moon’s internal structure; and studying the lunar mineralogy and chemistry to understand the moon’s origins.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 October 2018
US Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Passes 400 Days In Orbit

X-37B_Orbital_Test_Vehicle_CreditUSAF SPACE reports that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane “has now passed the 400-day mark” for its classified mission in orbit. The Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-5) mission began October 7, 2017 when it launched mounted “atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.” The only OTV-5 payload “revealed to date by Air Force officials is the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, or ASETS-II.” The device is used to test experimental electronics and “oscillating heat pipes for long-duration stints in the space environment.” The ASETS-II’s “three primary science objectives are to measure the initial on-orbit thermal performance, to gauge long-duration thermal performance and to assess any lifetime degradation.” The next X-37B mission, “OTV-6, may lift off in 2019 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas-V (501) rocket.” (Image Credit: USAF)
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18 October 2018
Boeing CTO: Quantum Computing, Neuromorphic Technologies “Form The Core” Of Aerospace Innovation

Quantum-Computing-AP-Purchased Bloomberg News reports that The Boeing Company is creating a new unit to focus on new technologies including neuromorphic processing, which “mimics the synapses of the human brain and hack-proof communications links based on applied quantum physics.” Such technologies “increasingly form the core of aerospace innovation, like the networks that may one day manage millions of airborne drones, said Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief technology officer.” In an interview Wednesday, Hyslop argued that advanced computing and sensors will have a “profound impact” on Boeing. He added, “We thought it’s time to do this.” The new Boeing unit, “known as Disruptive Computing and Networks, will help develop breakthroughs in secure communications and artificial intelligence that bolster its manufacturing” while also developing commercial products. The division will be headed by Charles Toups, “who was general manager of Boeing Research & Technology, the company’s central research and development organization,” and will be based in Southern California, but Hyslop “declined to say how much Boeing plans to spend on the advanced computing initiative.” Neuromorphic chips may be able to eventually “perform machine learning instantaneously” and be incorporated into Boeing aircraft to support autonomous flight. (Image: In this Feb. 27, 2018, photo a man works in the quantum computing lab at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


17 October 2018
Honda Aircraft Expects Increase In Light Jet Deliveries In 2019

BAConcorde_Wiki Reuters reports that Honda Aircraft CEO Michimasa Fujino “said on Tuesday he expects deliveries of the HondaJet to rise in 2019 above the estimated 50 aircraft customers will take this year, as the light business plane maker targets Asia for growth.” The company recently introduced a longer-range version of the HondaJet Elite and “announced a new performance package this week to owners who want to upgrade the original HondaJet.” In an interview, Fujino “said he was targeting growth in the fledgling Japanese market,” which he believes has low business jet market penetration. Fujino also sees an opportunity for sales in China, “which is currently dominated by larger executive planes and where tight government controls over airspace have hurt growth of the private jet market.” Without specifying exact numbers, Fujino cited a “very good, healthy backlog” for the company. (Image: HondaJet HA-420. Credit: Sergey Ryabtsev | Wikimedia Commons)
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17 October 2018
UTAS “Well-Positioned” To Target Supersonic Aircraft Market

BAConcorde_Wiki Aviation Week reports that with “advanced aerostructures technology already in flight test on an unidentified high-speed military aircraft and ground tests of new low-noise, compact nacelle concepts underway,” UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) believes that it is “well-positioned to penetrate the nascent civil supersonic market.” The nacelle development comes amid a “broader UTAS focus on the business jet nacelle arena after more than a decade of wins in the commercial airliner business and follows the company’s recent selection by Dassault Aviation to provide the nacelle as part of an integrated propulsion system for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812-powered Falcon 6X.” As part of this push, UTAS recently developed “resin pressure molded (RPM) composite flight control surfaces,” which UTAS Aerostructures Vice President of Business Programs Gary Reynolds said are “much lighter, have no fasteners and are not prone to corrosion.” UTAS believes that RPM surfaces “could provide supersonic, business and commercial operators with weight, cost and fuel-burn savings.” According to Reynolds, RPM parts “are in pre-production leading to production starting next year for some more flight tests.” He added that the material may be used to retrofit existing platforms. UTAS is also developing “next-generation acoustic technologies” to reduce cabin noise “as well as tighter packaging envelopes that enable higher bypass ratio engines to fit into smaller nacelles.” Some of this technology has been “tested and developed as part of the ecological integrated propulsion system (ecoIPS) demonstrator under the FAA’s second Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise program.” (Image: BA Concorde. Credit: Eduard Marmet | Wikipedia)
More Info (Aviation Week)


16 October 2018
ULA Prepares Atlas V For Launch Late-Night Tuesday

Atlas-V-at-Launchpad-NASA The Houston Chronicle reports that NASA canceled a spacewalk planned for Friday following the failure of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft last week. No decision has been made on a second spacewalk planned for October 25. According to NASA Johnson Space Center spokesman Kelly Humphries, it will take “a few days at least to sort out the near-term impacts” of the aborted Soyuz mission. Humphries added, “At this point, about the only things that are completely off the plate are an immediate crew launch and the US [spacewalk] happening as soon as Oct. 19.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Houston Chronicle)


16 October 2018
NASA Cancels ISS Spacewalk

International-Space-Station-NASA The Houston Chronicle reports that NASA canceled a spacewalk planned for Friday following the failure of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft last week. No decision has been made on a second spacewalk planned for October 25. According to NASA Johnson Space Center spokesman Kelly Humphries, it will take “a few days at least to sort out the near-term impacts” of the aborted Soyuz mission. Humphries added, “At this point, about the only things that are completely off the plate are an immediate crew launch and the US [spacewalk] happening as soon as Oct. 19.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Houston Chronicle)


15 October 2018
US Navy Begins Formal F-35C Testing

F35_Wikipedia ExecutiveGov reported that the US Navy has begun to “formally test the operation of an F-35C stealth fighter intended to demonstrate fulfillment of the service’s requirements.” F-35C integration office head Rear Adm. Dale Horan “said Wednesday that Strike Fighter Squadron 147 arrived on USS Carl Vinson to assess the aircraft’s capacity to address the Navy’s needs.” According to Horan, “We still need to see the aircraft configured in operational tests.” The F-35C was previously tested “with other aircraft on the USS Abraham Lincoln.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikimedia Commons)
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15 October 2018
Second NASA Space Telescope Enters Safe Mode

Chandra-NASAThe AP reported that a second NASA space telescope “has shut down and halted science observations.” Less than a week after the Hubble Space Telescope “went offline, the Chandra X-ray Observatory” experienced a similar issue. In its statement, NASA “said Friday that [Chandra] automatically went into so-called safe mode Wednesday, possibly because of a gyroscope problem.” Hubble has been in orbit for 28 years, while Chandra has been operating for 19 years. Flights controllers are “working to resume operations with both.” (Image: Artist illustration of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit: NASA/CXC/NGST | Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)
More Info (Associated Press)


12 October 2018
After Soyuz Accident, NASA Weighs January as Deadline for Bringing Station Crew Home

Soyuz-Crew-Oct2018-NASA Aerospace America reports that “NASA and its space station partners face a conundrum of timing after Thursday’s Soyuz rocket accident, which miraculously left the crew of a cosmonaut and an astronaut in shape to walk away and hug loved ones.” The capsule, which was due to deliver new crew members to the ISS and serve as the station's new emergency escape capsule, instead landed in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz capsule currently at the station and serving as the escape module “has a recommended lifetime of ‘200 days,’ said Kenny Todd, NASA’s mission operations manager for the International Space Station,” adding that “’There is little margin’ to that, however.” With Soyuz rockets currently the only way to deliver crew to the station, international partners may face a difficult “decision over whether to leave the orbiting lab uncrewed after January.” (Image: Cosmonat Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, left, and astronaut Nick Hague of NASA hug their families after landing in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Thursday. Hague and Ovchinin arrived from Zhezkazgan after Russian search and rescue teams brought them from the Soyuz landing site. Credit: NASA)
More Info (Aerospace America)


12 October 2018
Pentagon Temporarily Grounds F-35

F35_WikipediaThe AP (subscription publication) reports that the Pentagon “on Thursday ordered a temporary pause in all F-35 fighter jet flights in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a crash last month in South Carolina.” The issue revolves around a potentially bad fuel tube, and “affects more than 250 U.S.-owned jets, as well as nearly 100 that belong to other nations including Britain.” Around half of the F-35s are “believed to have the faulty tube, and they include aircraft owned by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.” However, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said some aircraft have already been inspected and are flying again. John Thomas, spokesman for Pratt & Whitney, which produces the F-35’s engine, “said the company is supporting the Marine Corps investigation into the crash.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikimedia Commons) 
More Info (Associated Press–subscription publication)


12 October 2018
NTSB Report Calls For Faster Reporting Of Aviation Incidents

AA-Flight-Departs-Dallas-FtWorth-WikipediaThe Seattle Times reports that the NTSB “issued a final report Thursday on the incident in which an Air Canada jet nearly crashed into planes lined up on the ground at San Francisco International Airport.” According to the agency, the incident underscores the need to report dangerous aviation incidents more quickly in order to preserve crucial evidence. The Air Canada pilots were “slow to report the incident to superiors,” by which time “the plane had made another flight and the cockpit voice recording of the close call was recorded over.” The NTSB believes that the recording “could have helped investigators understand why the Air Canada pilots missed the runway and were about to land on a taxiway where four other planes were idling before they aborted their landing.” The NTSB is considering “recommending that cockpit recorders capture the last 25 hours of flying time, up from two hours under current rules.” (Image: American Airlines flight departs Dallas/Ft. Worth. Credit: TXZeiss | Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Seattle Times)


11 October 2018
NASA IG: Boeing’s SLS Rocket Over Budget, Behind Schedule

EM-1-NASA Reuters reports that The Boeing Company’s “poor performance” in building a rocket for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) has “resulted in an $8.9 billion price tag that is double the initial budget and could further delay the launch, the U.S. space agency’s watchdog office said on Wednesday.” NASA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said in an audit that “management, technical and infrastructure issues driven by Boeing’s poor performance” have led to delays and cost overruns. NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton confirmed that the agency is restructuring Boeing’s contract, but is planning on the current timetable of a test launch in mid-2020 with a crewed launch in 2022, adding that “there are still technical and schedule risks.” Boeing spokeswoman Patricia Soloveichik “said in an email that the audit did not accurately describe the current state of the program and the company had already implemented some of the watchdog’s recommendations.” Soloveichik also cited “internal NASA issues.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Reuters)


11 October 2018
FAA, EASA Require Airbus Engine Software Upgrades Following Aborted Takeoffs

Airbus-A321-AAFlight-Wiki AP reports that regulators are “ordering that engine software be replaced on some Airbus passenger jets because of a problem that has caused pilots to abort several takeoffs in cold weather.” The FAA and EASA order covers 82 CFM International engines on US-registered Airbus A320neo and A321neo jets. The regulators “said this week operators will have until late January to replace electronic-control software.” The issue is caused when water accumulates and freezes in “pressure-sensor lines, preventing the fan blades from reaching takeoff speed.” According to the FAA, the problem was behind six aborted takeoffs, but CFM has improved its software for detecting freezing in sensor lines. (Image Credit: Alan Wilson | Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)


10 October 2018
Branson: Virgin Galactic “Should Be In Space Within Weeks

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_PurchasedThe Washington Post reports that Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday, “We should be in space within weeks, not months.” Branson added that “then we will be in space with myself in months and not years.” Although Branson has previously estimated that Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin would launch persons into space around the same time, he clarified that the two companies “are not in a race to get to space. … All that matters in the end is that everybody is safe and well.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Washington Post)


10 October 2018
Insitu Debuts UAV With “ID-Capable” Camera

Insitu-ScanEagle-Wiki Aviation Today reports that Insitu unveiled a new UAV, the Alticam-14, which has “video imaging capability high enough in quality to positively identify people from the air.” According to Insitu Director of Defense Programs Keith Hirschman, speaking Tuesday at the Association of the US Army’s annual convention, the enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities will be available for the Integrator, Integrator extended range, and RQ-21A Blackjack UAVs. Hirschman “said that the Alticam-14 is better than a 9 on the national imagery interpretability rating scale (NIIRS).” (Image: Scan Eagle UAV. Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikipedia)
More Info (Aviation Today)


9 October 2018
Trump Signs FAA Reauthorization Bill

ATC-at-Dulles CBS News reported that President Donald Trump signed the “FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018” Friday, extending FAA funding through 2023 just ahead of an October 7 deadline. ExecutiveGov reported that Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen “said in a statement that the recently passed FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 would increase the government’s capacity to protect U.S. citizens from drone-induced threats.” According to Nielsen, the department’s “lack of authorities also prevented us from testing truly needed drone-defense technologies,” and she praised Congress for taking a “major step forward to address these vulnerabilities.” 9 October 2018(Image: Dulles Airport ATC. Credit AIAA–©)
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9 October 2018
Hubble Space Telescope Disabled After Gyroscope Fails

JamesWebbSpaceTelescope-NASAThe New York Times reports that the Hubble Space Telescope, “NASA’s jewel of the skies, is temporarily out of service.” The telescope “stood down from observing” and entered into a “safe mode” Friday after one of its gyroscopes failed. NASA has “appointed a review board to investigate the gyroscope problem.” Hubble carries six gyroscopes in total, “but only three are needed to run the telescope.” However, two have died since six new gyroscopes were installed in May 2009, “leaving a backup and three working gyroscopes, one of which expired on Friday.” When ground controllers attempted to “bring the backup gyroscope online, it behaved erratically, sending garbled messages back to the ground, said Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which operates the telescope.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (New York Times)


5 October 2018
NASA’s Dawn, Kepler Spacecraft Expected To Exhaust Remaining Fuel In Coming Weeks

Kepler_NASA Space News reports that NASA expects the missions of its Dawn and Kepler spacecraft “to come to an end in the coming weeks when each exhausts their remaining hydrazine fuel.” During a talk Thursday at the 69th International Astronautical Congress, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Dawn Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman “said current estimates had the spacecraft exhausting its remaining hydrazine, and thus ending the mission, in the middle of this month.” However, Rayman also cited work to develop sequences for operating the Dawn spacecraft into December if current estimates are wrong. The Dawn and Kepler spacecraft have had to use their hydrazine thrusters in order to maintain attitude control due to failures with their reaction wheels. (Image: Artist’s conception of the Kepler space telescope observing planets. Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Space News)


5 October 2018
ESA Prepares To Ship Orion Service Module To KSC

NASAOrion2018 Aviation Week reports that seven years after “signing a contract to supply the service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft,” the ESA is preparing to ship its first module to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. According to ESA Exploration Development Group head Nico Dettmann, the timeframe is significantly shorter than the 12 years the agency needed to produce its first Automated Transfer Vehicle. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Aviation Week)


4 October 2018
Boeing CEO Anticipates Air Taxi Prototype To Fly In 2019

Bell-Urban-Air-Taxi-Concept-AP-Purchased Bloomberg News reports that The Boeing Company CEO Dennis Muilenburg anticipates the company’s prototype air taxi will take flight next year. Boeing is also “working with regulators to develop a traffic-management system for the aircraft in five years.” In an interview Wednesday, Muilenburg said that Boeing is “working on both the ecosystem – the regulatory framework – and the new vehicles. All of that is happening now.” Muilenburg also cited Boeing’s collaboration with the Spark Cognition startup and the FAA to design a UAV air traffic management system. He added, “I would expect that within five years we’ll see initial operational capability being fielded.” (Image: Bell Helicopter's autonomous air taxi concept is displayed at CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Las Vegas. ((Image: Bell Helicopter's autonomous air taxi concept is displayed at CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press–©) /Jae C. Hong) 
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4 October 2018
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Successfully Passes Venus

ParkerSolarProbe-NASA SPACE reports that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe passed within 1,500 miles of Venus “as planned this morning (Oct. 3), getting an orbit-sculpting gravity assist, NASA officials said.” The spacecraft “remains on course” for its first “close encounter with the sun, which is scheduled to take place from Oct. 31 through Nov. 11.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 October 2018
ISS Partners Support Continued Operation Beyond 2024

International-Space-Station-NASA Space News reports that during a press conference Monday at the 69th International Astronautical Congress, representatives of the ESA, JAXA, and Roscosmos “said they were open to extending the station’s operations to 2028 or 2030 in order to maximize the investment they’ve made in the facility as a platform for research and preparation for exploration activities beyond Earth orbit.” ESA Director General Jan Woerner “said the issue could come up at the next triennial meeting of the ministers of ESA’s member nations, scheduled for late 2019.” At the meeting, Woerner pledged to “propose to go on with ISS as well as the lunar Gateway.” At a briefing held Tuesday, Woerner “emphasized the use of the station as a research platform and encouraged greater commercial activities there,” and called for the use of the station “as long as feasible.” JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa emphasized the importance of maximizing “the output of the ISS,” indicating a desire to continue taking part in the venture and adding, “JAXA is requesting budgets annually, so I think in that sense JAXA is quite flexible.” Roscosmos Head of International Relations Dmitry Loskutov anticipates the ISS’ “continued functioning until 2028 or 2030.” RSC Energia General Designer Evgeny Mikrin “also endorsed an ISS extension.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 October 2018
FAA Announces Serious Civil Penalties For UAV Interference With First Responders

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommons Flying Magazine reports that the FAA announced last week that UAVs interfering with wildfire containment crews, law enforcement efforts, or other first responders “are now more likely to face serious civil penalties, even for first-time offenses.” The action is “separate from new provisions included within the FAA Reauthorization legislation that would allow authorities to track, intercept or even shoot down drones considered a security threat.” (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
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2 October 2018
NASA Commemorates 60th Anniversary As Bridenstine Appears Before Senate

Bridenstine-SPACE2018 The Space Review reports that NASA celebrated its 60th anniversary “with a variety of largely virtual events, including a recorded statement from NASA’s current administrator, Jim Bridenstine.” A recent panel at AIAA’s SPACE Forum featured six of the agency’s administrators, and “offered an opportunity to reflect how NASA has changed or sometimes hasn’t changed” over the past 30 years. Last week, Bridenstine appeared before the Senate to “discuss the agency’s programs,” including challenges such as “upcoming flights of commercial crew vehicles that will finally restore the ability of the United States to launch its own astronauts; developing of the Space Launch System and Orion, also beset with delays; and NASA’s ‘Exploration Campaign’ to develop the Gateway in cislunar space and return humans to the surface of the Moon by the end of the 2020s, ahead of later missions to Mars.” (Image Credit: AIAA-©)
More Info (The Space Review)


1 October 2018
Japanese Re-Entry Capsule Prepares For Test Flight From ISS

JAXA-HTV-7-NASA SPACE reports that a small, Japanese re-entry capsule, “designed to bring back experiments from space, is gearing up for its first test flight” after arriving at the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday aboard a robotic cargo ship. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s HTV Small Re-Entry Capsule (HSRC) is designed to transport experiment samples back to Earth protected in three ways: “with passive, non-electric cooling, a ‘vacuum double layer insulation container (thermos bottle) and a heat storage unit (refrigerant),’ according to JAXA’s mission page.” (Image: JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehcile-7 (HTV-7) captured by Canadarm2 at the ISS, 27 Sept 2018. Credit: NASA)
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27 September 2018
Electric Propulsion Most Likely To Reshape Light Aircraft Sector

Airbus-E-Fan-electric-aircraft-AP-Purchased MRO Network reports that the shift toward electric propulsion is “reshaping not only the supply chain, but also the aftermarket.” Although it is “still too early to predict the extent to which electric propulsion will change aviation,” the new technology “looks most likely to reshape the light-aircraft sector, and the promise of lower energy costs, emissions and noise could create new markets in urban air mobility and short-haul regional transport.” Larger aircraft are already seeing “electrification,” led by the “more electric Boeing 787, and all the major engine OEMs see some long-term place for electric technology in propulsion.” Although electric components are expected to require less maintenance than traditional propulsion parts, the potential for “unconventional configurations will bring unusual maintenance issues such as the accessibility of distributed propulsion components and the safety issues of working with high-voltage propulsion buses.” Georgia Tech researchers “recommend that the emerging electric-aircraft industry involve mechanics and technicians early in the design process to obtain practical feedback about maintainability.” The team also calls for the establishment of standards for the training and certification of electric propulsion mechanics. (Image: An Airbus Group E-Fan electric aircraft flies during the ILA Berlin Air Show in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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27 September 2018
Boeing’s Hypersonic Jet To Be Smaller Than 737

Supersonic-Transport-Concept-Boeing.pngThe Waitsburg Times reports that at last week’s AIAA SPACE Forum, The Boeing Company “revealed its proposed hypersonic passenger airliner, which would fly much higher and faster than the Concorde.” Boeing envisions the aircraft traveling at Mach 5, “enabling them to cross the Atlantic Ocean in just two hours and the Pacific in three while cruising at 95,000 feet.” Boeing plans to compete in both the autonomous and hypersonic aircraft markets developing over the next two to three decades. Boeing believes that “hypersonic aircraft production, including autonomous piloting, could begin within the next 20 years, and a prototype could appear within the next decade.” According to Boeing Senior Technical Fellow and Chief Hypersonics Scientist Kevin Bowcutt, “Though Boeing hasn’t decided the final dimensions, the airplane (which doesn’t have a name yet) would be larger than a business jet but smaller than a 737.” (Image: concept presented to NASA in April 2010. Credit: NASA/The Boeing Company | Wikipedia)
More Info (Waitsburg Times)


26 September 2018
Lockheed Martin Opens Innovation Lab In Orlando

Virtual-Reality-ESA Orlando Sentinel reports that Lockheed Martin “pulled up the curtain on a new innovation lab Tuesday,” demonstrating technologies including “3D printers, virtual and augmented reality headsets and a robotics lab meant to encourage its employees to experiment.” The 6,500-square-foot lab is located at the company’s Missiles and Fire Control campus in Orlando, Florida, and “will also be used as a recruitment tool, as Lockheed competes in a highly competitive battle for skilled workers.” Additional spaces in the lab include a “sensor, optics and laser testing site​” and an “animation lab that allows quick visualizations of concepts.” Lockheed “anticipates that the new facility will help the company create new patents and win multimillion-dollar contracts.” (Image: Virtual reality test. Credit: ESA | Wikipedia)
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26 September 2018
US Marine Corps’ F-35B May Soon Make Combat Debut

F35_Wikipedia CNN reports that the US Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning may fly its “first combat mission within days, according to several US defense officials, who told CNN that the fifth-generation aircraft are currently aboard the USS Essex amphibious assault ship and should soon be in a position to conduct airstrikes over Afghanistan.” The Essex has already sailed from the “Gulf of Aden into the North Arabian Sea and is expected to move into the Persian Gulf in coming days.” F-35s have been conducting “intelligence and surveillance missions in Somalia” while on “standby to conduct air support for US troops on the ground there if needed.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikimedia Commons)
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25 September 2018
NASA To Test Lunar Gateway’s Power And Propulsion Element In 2020

Deep-Space-Gateway-Artist-Rendering-NASA Space News reports that NASA hopes to launch the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) of the agency’s planned Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway in 2022, “most likely from Cape Canaveral.” The payload will be sent into cislunar space. The component’s “boxy shape and folded-up solar arrays will make it resemble many of the commercial communications satellites launched from the Cape and elsewhere.” The PPE’s similarity to commercial GEO satellites “is deliberate,” and NASA “expects that companies will propose designs based on satellite buses they already build,” augmented by advanced electric propulsion systems to be developed by NASA. The agency hopes that as a result, the spacecraft will be “less expensive and faster to build than a custom design.” NASA plans to award a final contract for PPE development in spring 2019. The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK [now Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems], Sierra Nevada, and Space Systems Loral are currently researching “technical issues associated with the PPE design.”(Image: Artist rendering of concept for Deep Space Gateway. Credit: NASA)
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25 September 2018
Musk: SpaceX Mars Colony Could Be Established By 2028

Mars-Colony-NASA Florida Today reports that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk elaborated on the company’s plans to establish a colony on the surface of Mars in a series of recent tweets. Expanding on earlier details for the Big Falcon Rocket’s planned Mars mission, Musk “said the latest roadmap shows that a red planet base could be established as soon as 2028.” The “ambitious timeline,” however, is likely to be revised as the company “grapples with its short-term targets of returning astronauts to space from US soil in the latter half of next year, continued resupply missions of the International Space Station and deployment of the Starlink constellation.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 September 2018
Airbus Helicopter Preparing For Full Production Of 3D Printed AS350 Parts

Airbus-AS350-Wiki FlightGlobal reported that Airbus Helicopters is preparing for “serial production” of door components for its AS350 helicopter using additive manufacturing techniques. The company’s Donauwörth, Germany facility is in the “process of qualifying the production of titanium door latch shafts for the long-haul aircraft through additive layer manufacturing, with serial production scheduled to start in early 2019.” The new part will replace an existing titanium latch shaft, and Airbus believes that it “represents the first large-scale production of metallic 3D-printed components.” The first AS350s with the new parts are “scheduled to fly in 2020.” According to Airbus Helicopters Head of Industrial Service Centers Luis Martin Diaz, “3D printing should be taken into consideration right from the initial planning stages for new components, which may be able to be manufactured particularly easily and cost-effectively using this method.” (Image: An AS350BA. Credit: fir0002 | Wikipedia)
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24 September 2018
Roscosmos Head Casts Doubt On Deep Space Gateway Cooperation

Deep-Space-Gateway-Artist-Rendering-NASA24 September 2018
Reuters reported that Russia may abandon plans to help build the Deep Space Gateway with NASA because Moscow, according to Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin, does not want to play a “second fiddle role.” Russia had agreed last year to partner with the US on plans for the space station, but speaking to Russian television, Rogozin “said Russia might exit the joint program and instead propose its own lunar orbit space station project.” Roscosmos spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko later countered, however, that “Russia has not refused to take part in the project of the lunar orbit station with the USA.” (Image: Artist rendering of concept for Deep Space Gateway. Credit: NASA)
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21 September 2018
Bridenstine: International Cooperation Crucial To Lunar, Mars Missions

Bridenstine-SPACE2018Following his keynote address at the AIAA SPACE Forum, Aerospace America interviewed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who “said the Trump administration’s goal of landing Americans on the surface of the moon and someday Mars will require companies and international partners.” According to Bridenstine, “we want to do more than even our growing budget can handle,” and as a result, “We have to have international partners, we have to have commercial partners, and we need to build an architecture where everybody has a piece to play” in order to make a human presence on the moon “sustainable.” Bridenstine described the ISS as a “model for international partnership going forward,” and cited his openness to combined US-Russian crews launching on US and Russian rockets in the future. The US’ space collaboration with Russia, Bridenstine argued, is “a great relationship, we need to maintain it.” (Image: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine addressess attendees at the 2018 AIAA SPACE Forum in Orlando, 17 Sept. 2018. Credit: AIAA-©)
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20 September 2018
Boeing, SpaceX Confident They Can Meet NASA Safety Requirements

Boeing_CST-100 Space News reports that although The Boeing Company and SpaceX have “been struggling to meet safety thresholds established by NASA for commercial crew vehicles,” executives from both companies speaking at the AIAA SPACE Forum “said they now believed their vehicles met that and related safety requirements.” Boeing Vice President and Commercial Crew Program Manager John Mulholland described the company’s efforts to assess the overall loss of crew, ascent and entry risk, and loss of mission requirements, “noting those analyses have driven changes to the vehicle design, such as increased micrometeoroid and orbital debris protection.” Mulholland added that “our analysis shows we can exceed the NASA requirements for all three of those criteria.” SpaceX Director of Commercial Crew Mission Management Benjamin Reed “said his company was in a similar situation.” He added, “We’re looking right now to be meeting the requirements.” Although SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hinted earlier this week at a slight delay in the company’s crew vehicle schedule, Reed confirmed only that the company is “working closely with NASA to find the right dates.” According to NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Leuders, “We’re learning from a NASA perspective about how to understand the assessments that we’re getting from each of the contractors and how to apply it. We at the NASA team are assessing the modeling that each of the providers has done.” Leuders also cautioned against using the loss-of-crew criteria as the sole focus of safety efforts.  (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 September 2018
US Air Force Completes First Automated MQ-9 Landing, Takeoff

MQ-1-Predator-USAF Airforce Technology reports that the US Air Force “successfully completed the first automated landing and take-off” of an MQ-9 Block 5 UAV. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) is testing automatic take-off and landing capability that will increase the UAV’s suitability for Air Force missions. Development of the MQ-9’s automatic take-off and landing capability is expected to be completed later this year. According to GA-ASI Aircraft Systems President David Alexander, the “new, all-weather capability greatly increases the autonomy, flexibility, combat effectiveness and safety of the MQ-9 Reaper for the USAF.” Alexander added that newly-added “automation will reduce the deployment burden of the warfighter and expand the scope of missions that can be flown by Air Force MQ-9s.” (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt| Wikipedia) 
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19 September 2018
FAA Completes LAANC UAV Tracking Network Implementation

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP ExecutiveGov reports that the FAA has activated the “final component of its nationwide system designed to authorize and track drones in real time.” The North Central region of Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) is now operational, “completing the activation of all six components that collectively cover 288 air traffic control stations.” LAANC supports the FAA’s UAS Data Exchange public-private partnership designed to facilitate “information sharing to support the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into US airspace.” (Image Credit:Associated Press-©)
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18 September 2018
US Air Force Analysis: Space Force To Cost $13 Billion Over Five Years

AFSC-NeighborhoodWatch-USAF AP reports that the US Air Force released a plan Friday detailing a potential roadmap for creating the Space Force as a separate service, estimating that doing so would cost the Trump Administration $3.3 billion in the first year and $12.9 billion in the new branch’s first five years. The Air Force’s number is the “first publicly available cost estimate.” In the September 14 memo, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson wrote, “Strategic competition with Russia and China is the focus of our approach.” The Air Force believes that the proposed Space Force would be “organized under a civilian secretary appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, along with an undersecretary, four assistant secretaries, a chief lawyer, an inspector general and a legislative liaison.” A four-star general would serve as the service’s chief of staff. (Image Credit: USAF)
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18 September 2018
South Carolina Boeing 787 Plant To Reopen After Storm-Related Closure

Boeing-Dreamlifter-South-Carolina Reuters reported that “Boeing Co’s South Carolina plant, where it assembles 787 wide-body jetliners, was set to reopen operations on Sunday night following a lifting of evacuation orders for coastal areas threatened by deadly storm Florence, a Boeing spokesperson said on Sunday.” Boeing “had suspended operations at the North Charleston plant on Tuesday and flown several 787 Dreamliners from the South Carolina factory across the country to an airport near Boeing’s wide-body plant in Everett, Washington, north of Seattle.” The “hurricane-related closure came as Boeing grapples with production logjams due to shortages of parts from suppliers that have rippled across the aerospace industry.” (Image Credit: By Mydogtryed - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 | Wikimedia Commons)
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17 September 2018
UAS Deployment In Disaster And Crisis Scenarios Increasingly Common

Engineer-Flies-Phantom3-APThe AP reported on the use of UAVs in emergency situations, saying many local EMS, firefighting departments, and others have purchased UAS as a new tool for disaster response. The AP explained that “what was once viewed as a toy has turned out to be useful in a variety of industries, from emergency agencies to real estate brokers and even farmers.” Regulation has followed, although “right now there are gray areas in the industry when it comes to personal use. But professional use is more regulated.” The head of Tennessee-based UAV Coach, Lana Axelrod, said, “FAA has authority over air space...but people are worried about privacy. Nobody wants (a drone) in their backyard. It’s never a bad idea...to talk to your neighbor...and explain what you’re doing.” (Image: An engineer flies a DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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17 September 2018
SpaceX Announces Plan To Fly Private Passengers Around The Moon

Boeing737Max Reuters (9/16) reported that “Boeing Co’s South Carolina plant, where it assembles 787 wide-body jetliners, was set to reopen operations on Sunday night following a lifting of evacuation orders for coastal areas threatened by deadly storm Florence, a Boeing spokesperson said on Sunday.” Boeing “had suspended operations at the North Charleston plant on Tuesday and flown several 787 Dreamliners from the South Carolina factory across the country to an airport near Boeing’s wide-body plant in Everett, Washington, north of Seattle.” The “hurricane-related closure came as Boeing grapples with production logjams due to shortages of parts from suppliers that have rippled across the aerospace industry.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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14 September 2018
SpaceX Announces Plan To Fly Private Passengers Around The Moon

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Reuters reports that SpaceX announced Thursday that it has signed the first private passenger to fly around the moon aboard the company’s BFR launch vehicle. According to the SpaceX tweet, “Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17.” (Image Credit: NASA)


14 September 2018
ULA Preparing For Final Delta II Launch Saturday

ULA-AtlasV-Set-for-Launch-NASA ExecutiveBiz reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) has begun preparations for Saturday’s planned launch of a “Northrop Grumman-built spacecraft via the Delta II 7420-10, marking the rocket’s last launch into space.” NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) will “monitor the changes in the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica” in order to help scientists better understand “environmental changes on future global sea level.” The mission also will involve “tracking differences in sea-ice thickness and calculating large-scale biomass,” and will be launched from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg AFB. The Delta II launch vehicle completed 129 missions over 29 years, including the “launch of the first Global Positioning System satellites and the Spirit and Opportunity rovers for Mars.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 September 2018
NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Successfully Completes Final Parachute Test

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA SPACE reports that a test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully landed Wednesday “under three parachutes, completing the final parachute test to get the vehicle ready for a journey around the moon and back.” Although the data will not be fully analyzed for several weeks, “early indications are that the test was a success.” During the test, Orion “safely deployed all its parachutes in sequence” after being released from a C-17 transport aircraft at an altitude of six miles. Orion is expected to form “the backbone of NASA’s deep-space exploration plans, which include a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway space station around the moon in the next decade.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 September 2018
US, Japan: Aegis Missile Defense Test Successful

Aegis-BMD-MDA Reuters reports that the US and Japan successfully tested Japan’s “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system off the coast of Hawaii on Tuesday.” During the test, a “simple, separating ballistic missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands in Kauai, Hawaii, was intercepted above the Pacific by an upgraded standard missile 3.” According to MDA Director Lt. Gen Sam Greaves, the test of the Lockheed Martin system “provides confidence in the future capability for Japan to defeat the developing threats in the region.” Last year, Japan made the decision to bolster its missile defense capabilities in response to the threat posed by North Korea’s missile program. Greaves added that the US is “committed to assisting the government of Japan in upgrading its national missile defense capability against emerging threats.” (Image Credit: MDA)
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12 September 2018
Effective Space, IAI Announce Satellite Servicing Partnership

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Space News reports that Effective Space and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced a partnership Tuesday on Effective’s planned satellite servicing system. Under the agreement, IAI will “serve as the prime contractor for Effective Space’s Space Drone servicing vehicle, which is intended to provide satellite life extension services,” and also will help finance development. (Image Credit: Orbital ATK)
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12 September 2018
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Begins Science Mission

OSIRIS-REx-NASA SPACE reports that NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began studying the Bennu near-Earth asteroid Monday, according to an announcement by mission team members. According to a tweet by OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta, the spacecraft’s team planned to “start our first science observations...searching for dust plumes around Bennu.” NASA officials plan to use data collected about Bennu’s dust environment to “help keep OSIRIS-REx safe as it approaches the asteroid later this year.” OSIRIS-REx is expected to “reach Bennu on Dec. 3 and slide into orbit around the space rock four weeks later, on Dec. 31.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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11 September 2018
US Military, European F-35 Operators Reach Agreement To Collaborate On Reducing Costs

F-35-Lightnight-II-Wikipedia Reuters reports that the US military and European operators of the F-35 have “agreed to work together more closely to help lower the cost of operating the new warplanes as growing numbers arrive in Europe.” Operating costs were a central issue raised during last week’s meeting of senior US military officials with representatives from Israel and the “F-35 user nations in Europe – Britain, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, the Netherlands.” According to US Air Force Fifth Generation Integration Office head Col. Leslie Hauck, the participants “discussed the importance of ensuring that future costs – specifically for sustainment – are kept to a minimum so that we don’t have to cut into future purchases.” (Image Credit: US Air Force Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen | Wikipedia)
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11 September 2018
Following Monday’s Launch, SpaceX Schedule “Backloaded”

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Space News reports that SpaceX ended a “rare extended gap in launch activity Sept. 10 with the successful launch of a communications satellite for Telesat,” SpaceX’s second launch for the operator in less than two months and the company’s 16th of the year. SpaceX’s launch schedule for the remainder of the year “is backloaded, with only one launch scheduled through the beginning of November.” However, several missions are planned for November and December, including the “final launch of 10 Iridium Next satellites, an uncrewed demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and the first GPS 3 satellite.” The Falcon Heavy may also make its second launch before the end of the year, “either carrying the Arabsat-6A communications satellite or the Space Test Program 2 payload for the US Air Force.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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10 September 2018
NASA Deputy Discusses Supersonic, Hypersonic Technology Research

High-Altitude-Atmospheric-Reconstruction-NASA Aviation Today reported on a panel discussing “cutting-edge technologies” at the “Air Traffic Control Association’s annual Blue Skies event on Thursday.” Speakers including NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Strategy Robert Pearce discussed supersonic and hypersonic technology and artificial intelligence research. According to Pearce, “Hypersonics, for commercial applications, we’re still a couple decades away.” He added that while the military is making strides with the technology, “and we’ll use the flight opportunities that are coming to better our understanding of that environment and the fundamentals to build those kinds of vehicles...for hypersonics, you just don’t have the margins yet” to make commercial aircraft viable. (Image Credit: NASA)
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10 September 2018
NASA To Test Heat Shield At Spaceport America

Artists-Concept-Mars-Science-Lab-Reentry-NASA-JPC-CalTechThe AP reported that NASA plans to test new technology designed to “protect spacecraft from heat and pressure when entering a planet’s atmosphere.” NASA announced Friday that the heat shield will be installed aboard a rocket to be launched Wednesday by UP Aerospace from New Mexico’s Spaceport America. Once the rocket “reaches space, the umbrella-like shield will deploy.” The shield, built by built by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, is made from “woven carbon fabric and supported by semi-rigid ribs.” As part of the launch, NASA “also will be testing other technology for launch vehicles and measuring the internal environment of suborbital vehicles that are carrying experiments.” NASA hopes that the new technology will allow spacecraft larger than the Curiosity rover to land on other planets within the solar system. (Image Credit: NASA-JPL/CalTech)
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7 September 2018
SpaceX Delays Launch To Sunday Night

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Spaceflight Now reports that SpaceX delayed the planned launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a commercial communications satellite for the Asia-Pacific region “until at least Sunday night, 24 hours later than previously scheduled.” Officials delayed the launch, according to Telesat spokesperson Gerald Nagler, but did not provide a new launch date. However, the website for Patrick AFB, which houses the US Air Force’s 45h Space Wing, “was updated late Thursday to show the mission is scheduled for liftoff Sunday.” A four-hour launch window will open at 11:28 p.m. EDT Sunday. SpaceX later “tweeted to confirm the one-day delay.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 September 2018
Elwell: UAVs Will “Do For Aviation What The Internet Did For Information”

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP Aviation International News reports that in his keynote address at the InterDrone conference in Las Vegas, Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell forecast that UAVs will “do for aviation what the internet did for information,” and called upon the industry to work with the FAA on their integration into national airspace. Elwell charged industry leaders to make not just a business case for an expansion of UAV operations but a safety case, taking into account the legitimate concerns of the public and law enforcement. Elwell continued, “The public has very real and justified questions about these aircraft. And their concerns can’t just be swept under the rug. If we want this technology to take hold, we’ve got to take these questions head on.” Elwell was critical of lax regulation of recreational UAVs in contrast to commercial operation, arguing, “Until we can set remote ID requirements that will be universally applied to every drone, until we can make sure everyone is following the same rules inside the system, full integration just isn’t possible.” Elwell concluded that “a lot of safety problems require technological solutions. And that means we need buy-in from all of you. The innovators. The inventors. The out-of-the-box thinkers.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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5 September 2018
NASA To Test Orion Parachute System Friday

Orion-Parachutte-System-NASA ExecutiveGov reports that NASA plans to conduct the eighth and final test of Orion’s parachute system in October at Yuma Proving Ground. (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 September 2018
Space Coast’s Economic “Comeback” Profiled

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASAThe Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida’s Space Coast is in the midst of a “comeback” that has lifted the area “from the depths of an unemployment crisis at the end of the shuttle program to become one of the premier destinations for aerospace manufacturing and rocket launches in the country.” Kennedy Space Center’s shift from its role as a pure launch site to attracting spacecraft assembly drew the interest of private space companies which “created 8,718 mostly space-related jobs since October 2010, when unemployment rates were at their highest.” Florida’s Space Coast is expected to see 48 launches a year by 2021. In response to a shortage of trained technical workers in the region, the Space Coast Consortium is “moving ahead with an apprenticeship program in which students would work part-time and go to school part-time, while learning the skills that companies require.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 September 2018
NASA Looks To Address Supersonic Aircraft Noise, Environmental Concerns

QueSST-X-plane-Lockheed-Martin Aerospace America reported that after NASA and its industry partners reduce the effect of sonic booms generated by supersonic aircraft, the “next steps toward supersonic passenger jets would be to reduce takeoff and landing noise” and to mitigate the aircrafts’ carbon emissions and the potential damage the aircraft pose to the ozone layer. The current $500 million in NASA funding for supersonic aircraft allocated through 2025 leaves “no room for emissions research...and in October NASA plans to pledge to Congress that it will live within that figure.” According to NASA Commercial Supersonics Technology Project Manager Peter Coen, “There’s only so much budget, there’s a lot of different priorities.” However, Coen added, once flight tests conclude in 2025, “we’ll turn our attention more to the investment required to address some of the other barriers,” including emissions. According to Coen, technological advancements in “new generations of subsonic engines [are] applicable to the design of a supersonic engine.” NASA has engaged with Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, and GE regarding cleaner supersonic engine concepts. (Image: In the U.S. Navy photo, A Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet breaks the sound barrier over the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt during a demonstration in the Pacific Ocean on May 3, 2018. Credit: US Navy | Aerospace America)
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4 September 2018
Orion Spacecraft’s Core Arrives At KSC

EM-1-NASA Florida Today reported that the core structure or pressure vessel of NASA’s Orion spacecraft slated to take astronauts on a mission around the moon has arrived at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for final assembly. At KSC, a Lockheed Martin team will finish assembly and “integration of the EM-2 spacecraft just as they wrap up work on the EM-1 module, which will launch on an uncrewed, three-week mission past the moon no sooner than 2020.” The core was assembled over the last seven months at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility. The article also includes video and images of the core’s delivery to KSC. (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 August 2018
NASA’s Bridenstine: American Rockets Will Launch Astronauts From US Soil In 2019

Falcon-Heavy-APIn an interview with USA Today , NASA Administrator James Bridenstine “all but guarantee[d] his agency will soon be back in the business of carrying humans into low-Earth orbit in 2019.” According to Bridenstine, “Without question, by the middle of next year, we’ll be flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. We’re so close.” The comments are a sign of the “confidence” NASA has in The Boeing Company and SpaceX, who are leading its Commercial Crew Program. Both companies plan test flights in 2019, potentially sooner for SpaceX. However, “even if all goes smoothly next year,” the first arrival at the ISS will be at least four years behind schedule. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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28 August 2018
Boeing, NASA Test Improved Engine Nacelle Liner For Lower Drag, Noise

Boeing737Max Aviation Week reports that earlier this month, The Boeing Company and NASA tested an “improved engine nacelle liner that offers lower noise as well as reduced drag.” The result comes as engine and airframe manufacturers “wrestle with growing demands for quieter aircraft operations around airports.” The initial trials were completed in early August aboard a Boeing 737-7 prototype, and initial data is “yet to be fully analyzed but already indicate better-than-expected acoustic and aerodynamic performance.” (Image Credit: )
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27 August 2018
Lockheed: Mitigating Sonic Booms Critical To Making Supersonic Flight Economically Viable

QueSST-X-plane-Lockheed-Martin CNET News profiled the increasing amount of companies, which include Lockheed Martin, Aerion Supersonic, Spike Aerospace, and Boom Technology, who are working to design supersonic aircraft “cheaper, quieter and friendlier to the environment than Concorde while minimizing the troublesome effects of a sonic boom.” Lockheed is working with NASA on its X-59 QueSST Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), which Lockheed plans to first fly in 2021. According to Lockheed LBFD Program Manager Peter Iosifidis, “mitigating the effects of a sonic boom over land is critical to making supersonic flight economically viable.” (Image: artist’s concept of a possible QueSST x-plane design. Credit: Lockheed Martin via NASA)
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27 August 2018
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Captures First Images Of Bennu Asteroid

OSIRIS-REx-NASAThe Orlando Sentinel reported that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured its first images of the Bennu asteroid last week as part of a mission to land on the object, “collect small samples and return them to Earth.” According to OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta, the event “really represents the beginning of the great scientific experiment that is OSIRIS-REx.” Scientists believe that Bennu is 4.5 billion years old and formed with the solar system, potentially offering “clues about the origin of life.” A Lockheed Martin-designed arm aboard the spacecraft will be used to “suck up samples from the surface of Bennu in 2020, before the spacecraft heads back to Earth.” The OSIRIS-REx team believes that some ice “may have gotten caught in Bennu when it formed and later melted.” If broken down into oxygen and hydrogen, such ice could be used to create rocket fuel, which “opens asteroids as potential future fuel depots,” and according to Lauretta, could “further human and robotic exploration.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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24 August 2018
Pence: US Aims For “Permanent Presence” on Moon

Lunar-Outpost-NASA GeekWire reports that on Thursday, in a talk to NASA personnel at Johnson Space, Vice President Mike Pence enthusiastically backed a plan to put American astronauts on a new space station in lunar orbit by 2024. Pence said the Trump administration is collaborating with Congress on an initiative to maneuver NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway from “proposal to production.” The first portion of the outpost, known as the Power and Propulsion Element, is set to launch in 2022, with the first crewed launch of NASA’s Space Launch System scheduled for 2023. The 2023 mission entails sending astronauts around the moon and back via an Orion deep-space capsule. Pence suggested that a subsequent launch would have astronauts dock with the Gateway sometime the next year. “Our administration is working tirelessly to put an American crew aboard the Lunar Orbital Platform before the end of 2024. … It’s not a question of if. It’s just a question of when,” Pence said.
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24 August 2018
NASA, Industry Exploring Expanded Machine Learning For Future Spacecraft

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP SPACE reports that NASA and industry researchers are “beginning to consider the use of machine learning and are looking into sharing training data sets” for future space missions. The use of deep learning technology to train computers to “recognize patterns based on training data” has been considered “too risky to use much for spacecraft decision-making,” but this “may change as missions grow more complicated and the cost of launching small spacecraft decreases.” According to MathWorks Space Segment Manager Ossi Saarela, for deep space missions, “the amount of precision you need for navigation is pretty spectacular, when you think about it, considering how far away those objects are and how small they can be.” Saarela expects the “proofs of concept to come from either startups or projects that are lower-cost, projects that are willing to tolerate higher risk.” (Image Credit: NASA | artist concept)
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24 August 2018
Japanese Farmers Test New UAV

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP Reuters reports that for the last few months, Japanese farmers have been “testing a new drone that can hover above paddy fields and perform backbreaking tasks in a fraction of the time” if performed by hand. The Nilework Nile-T18 UAV can apply “pesticides and fertilizer to a rice field in about 15 minutes – a job that takes more than an hour by hand and requires farmers to lug around heavy tanks.” The company hopes to “ease the physical burden and improve productivity in rural areas battling decades of falling birth rates and migration to urban areas.” Nileworks is now negotiating with authorities “to allow operators to fly its drone without a license,” and plans to begin selling the UAV in May 2019, “with an annual target of 100 units in year one and 4,000 in five years.” Other companies, such as SkymatiX – a joint venture of Mitsubishi and Hitachi – are also working to offer UAV services to farmers. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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23 August 2018
Norway Urges Electric Aircraft Development

Airbus-E-Fan-electric-aircraft-AP-Purchased BBC News Online reports that as part of its plans to reduce carbon emissions, Norway plans for “all short-haul flights leaving its airports to be on aircraft powered by electricity.” The plan is one of the “most far-reaching promises yet to cut down on aviation’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” but to become feasible, the electric aircraft market will need to move beyond small planes to larger, commercial models as well. According to Dag Falk-Petersen, head of Norwegian airport company Avinor, Airbus and Boeing research into electric propulsion spurred the government to launch its program. To meet its domestic short-haul market, Norway wants aircraft manufacturers to develop a “25-to-30-seat airliner powered by electric motors, with the first of them introduced into service as early as 2025.” (Image: An Airbus Group E-Fan electric aircraft flies during the ILA Berlin Air Show in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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23 August 2018
NASA Prepares To Test Orion’s Structural Integrity

NASAOrion2018The Houston Chronicle reports that the agency plans to test the structural integrity of its Orion space capsule at the Glenn Research Center in Ohio on Friday. Personnel at the center will perform an “acoustic test for the space capsule, designed to ensure that it is structurally sound” before being launched from Cape Canaveral in April 2019 during a test of the vehicle’s launch abort system for use in crewed missions. According to Glenn Research Center Lead Test Project Manager Nicole Smith, “When they test the launch abort system, that has really powerful motors that pull the crew module away from the rocket in case of failure … structurally on the crew module, that can be a big load.” Smith added, “We want to make sure it can withstand that dynamic environment.” The module has been outfitted with “flight computers, communication systems and about 800 data sensors” in preparation for testing. Over the next few weeks, Orion will be subjected to “six different tests in Ohio, each lasting about three minutes each,” after which it will be returned to Houston for additional modifications. (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 August 2018
Gulfstream G500 Earns FAA Type, Production Certificates

Gulfstream-G500-Savannah-GA-HDQTRS-AP-Purchased Reuters reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine detailed his vision for renewed and “sustainable” human exploration of the Moon in an interview Tuesday, citing the discovery of water on the lunar surface as a promising development. Bridenstine hopes that the US can make the coming generation of lunar exploration a “sustainable enterprise” through the use of reusable rockets and other launch vehicles. He added, “We want a space station around the moon to be there for a very long period of time, and we want landers that go back and forth between the space station around the moon and the surface of the moon.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 August 2018
Bridenstine Optimistic About “Sustainable” Lunar Exploration

LunarBase-NASA Reuters reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine detailed his vision for renewed and “sustainable” human exploration of the Moon in an interview Tuesday, citing the discovery of water on the lunar surface as a promising development. Bridenstine hopes that the US can make the coming generation of lunar exploration a “sustainable enterprise” through the use of reusable rockets and other launch vehicles. He added, “We want a space station around the moon to be there for a very long period of time, and we want landers that go back and forth between the space station around the moon and the surface of the moon.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 August 2018
LATAM Plans To Return All Boeing 787s To Service By Year-End

Boeing_Dreamliner_CreditBoeing FlightGlobal reports that LATAM Airlines Group expects to return its “entire Boeing 787 fleet” back to service “by year-end, after it was forced to ground more than half its 787s in the second quarter due to engine issues.” The carrier currently has six 787s grounded, down from a peak of 13 aircraft in June, according to LATAM CFO Ramiro Alfonsin. The remaining aircraft are awaiting Rolls-Royce personnel to perform preventive engine maintenance. Alfonsin called the grounding a “most critical situation” for the airline during the second quarter. (Image: Boeing 787-10. Credit: Boeing)
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21 August 2018
NASA Director: Deep Space Gateway To Serve As “Outpost” For Exploration Missions

InternationalSpaceStation_NASA ExecutiveGov reports that NASA Director of Advanced Exploration Systems Jason Crusan, speaking on “Federal Drive with Tom Temin,” stated the agency’s aim for the proposed Deep Space Gateway space station to serve as an “outpost” for future deep space exploration missions. According to Crusan, the gateway should be thought of as a “kind of a space port, a dry dock, where we build ships, refurbish ships and then we actually stage missions from it.” He added that NASA intends to launch a spacecraft bearing scientific experiments for the platform every 30 days to three months. According to Crusan, “We’re building a certain set of capabilities, in this case an orbiting platform with communications functions, some lander capabilities and the ability for our life support systems to be sustained off-planet, away from Earth.” (Image: International Space Station. Credit: NASA)
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21 August 2018
Pentagon: China Sees Space Systems “Central To Modern Warfare”

AFSC-NeighborhoodWatch Space News reports that an annual Department of Defense report on China’s military capabilities found that the country’s military strategists see space-based systems, and the denial of access to such systems, as “central to modern warfare.” Despite its public statements to the contrary, China is “stepping up the militarization of space.” According to the report, China sees space operations as a “key enabler” of efforts “aimed at countering third-party intervention,” and is “increasing the number and capabilities of its space systems, including various communications and intelligence satellites and the Beidou navigation satellite system.” China also is expanding its surveillance capabilities of objects both across the globe and in space in order to “enable counterspace actions.” The Defense Department report concludes that China’s space program continues to mature rapidly, and that China likely will “launch, assemble in-orbit, and operate a crewed Chinese space station before 2025.” The Pentagon also cited Chinese interest in quantum satellites, including the “unconditional security of network data across long distances, ultimately creating a global quantum network of classical (i.e.non-quantum) data secured by quantum cryptographic keys.” (Image Credit: USAF)
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20 August 2018
Federal Agencies Release Intelligence Bulletin On UAV Threat

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased ABC News reported that last week, federal officials “warned police around the country that drones are posing an ever-growing threat to safety and security.” In new intelligence bulletin, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center warned that an attack “could be conducted by one person or several people using a commercially available, off-the-shelf (drone) to target venues which attract large crowds,” including concerts, transportation terminals, and appearances by public figures. The bulletin, dated August 13, added that “details on building or modifying (drones) by terrorists as a means to deliver a weapon, are available on the internet and online forums, making it feasible for a person with sufficient technical experience or motivation to conduct an attack.”(Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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20 August 2018
ULA Releases Delta IV Launch Footage

ULA-AtlasV-Set-for-Launch-NASA Spaceflight Now reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) released new video of the predawn liftoff of the company’s Delta IV Heavy rocket on August 12 “from the perspective of a downward-facing camera, capturing dazzling views of the fiery takeoff and the dramatic separation of the launcher’s two hydrogen-fueled boosters.” The nearly six-minute video “shows the shutdown and separation of the rocket’s two strap-on boosters, each powered by a hydrogen-fueled RS-68A main engine, just shy of the flight’s four-minute mark.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


17 August 2018
Lockheed Martin Showcases Lunar Habitat Modules

NASA-Deep-space-gateway Space News (Subscription Publication) reports that NASA has called Monday’s test of the Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engine for its Space Launch System (SLS) a success despite an unspecified “facility issue” that brought the test to an early end. The first in a series of static-fire tests was conducted on the A-1 stand at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, and the test trialed a “flight controller unit that will be used on flight models of the engine as well as new manufacturing techniques intended to reduce the cost of future engines.” According to a statement released by Stennis, “All test objectives were met during the hot fire.” According to Aerojet Rocketdyne, a new manufacturing technique called “hot isostatic pressing” – which is used for the engine’s main combustion chamber – was a key part of the test. According to the company, “Initial test data indicates the chamber performed flawlessly during the 319-second test.” NASA plans eight additional tests for the engine through early 2019. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


17 August 2018
NASA Calls RS-25 Engine Test Success

RS-25Engine_NASA2 Space News (Subscription Publication) reports that NASA has called Monday’s test of the Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engine for its Space Launch System (SLS) a success despite an unspecified “facility issue” that brought the test to an early end. The first in a series of static-fire tests was conducted on the A-1 stand at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, and the test trialed a “flight controller unit that will be used on flight models of the engine as well as new manufacturing techniques intended to reduce the cost of future engines.” According to a statement released by Stennis, “All test objectives were met during the hot fire.” According to Aerojet Rocketdyne, a new manufacturing technique called “hot isostatic pressing” – which is used for the engine’s main combustion chamber – was a key part of the test. According to the company, “Initial test data indicates the chamber performed flawlessly during the 319-second test.” NASA plans eight additional tests for the engine through early 2019. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


16 August 2018
Footage Released Of Parker Solar Probe Launch

ParkerSolarProbe-NASA Spaceflight Now hosts video of Sunday’s launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 37. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now


16 August 2018  
Ariane 6 Nears Completion, But Upgrades Loom

Ariane_6_Fan_Concept-Art_3D_Render_Small Space News (Subscription Publication) reports that although Arianespace’s new Ariane 6 rocket is nearing completion, the company’s “competitive landscape isn’t getting any easier” due to new rockets being developed in the US by Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, and abroad by Russia, India, Japan, and China. In the “midst of these changes,” the ESA is pushing European industry to “continue innovating and finding efficiencies even after Vega C’s introduction in 2019 and Ariane 6’s debut in 2020.” ESA Director of Space Transportation Daniel Neuenschwander plans to bring “multiple proposals to ESA’s next ministerial council, scheduled for the end of 2019, to reinforce the cost-reduction mindset.” One proposal will relate to Ariane 6 and Vega C upper-stage cost, while another will address reusability. According to Neuenschwander, “We are looking at cost reduction in all dimensions … cost reduction through reusability is also a focus area for me to be brought to the next ministerial.” (Image Credit: Maxime Croussette | Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Space News) 


15 August 2018
Lockheed, Northrop, Harris “Particularly Well-Positioned” To Benefit From Space Force

AFSC-NeighborhoodWatch-USAFThe Washington Post reports that as the White House promotes its push to create a “Space Force as a sixth military branch and the first new service since the Air Force was created in 1947, a group of government contractors sees a chance to profit.” According to Capital Alpha Partners analyst Byron Callan, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Harris Corporation in particular may benefit from the Space Force. Lexington Institute consultant Loren Thompson adds that because the new branch “will be a smaller service with fewer resources, it may be more dependent on industry for technical advice and policy input.”(Image Credit: USAF)
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14 August 2018
NASA’s Parker Probe Deploys Solar Arrays

ParkerSolarProbe-NASAThe  Aerospace America reports on the launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which has now deployed its solar arrays. The article reports that the “spacecraft is operating on its own power.” NASA engineers worked “for a decade designing heat shielding” for the probe that would be “lightweight, reflective and durable enough for the spacecraft” to pass into the sun’s corona “and address the mystery of why this region is hotter than the region closer to the surface.” The shield is composed of a “carbon foam core sandwiched between two panels of a composite derived from the reinforced carbon-carbon” that was used to protect the leading edges of the space shuttle’s wings. According to Applied Physics Laboratory Lead Engineer Betsy Congdon, durability testing for the heat shield was “very difficult,” and was conducted at a “variety of facilities” across the US, including NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s thermal vacuum chamber. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Aerospace America)


14 August 2018
NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Passes Weight Test

NASAOrion2018The Houston Chronicle reports that a test module of NASA’s Orion spacecraft passed a “mass and center of gravity test” at NASA Johnson Space Center in “one of the most important” tests prior to an “April 2019 launch to test Orion’s primary safety feature: the launch abort system.” The module is being built “specifically to test this system, which will allow the spacecraft’s eventual four-person crew to escape if the rocket explodes.” Accordingly, the module’s “mass and center of gravity must be exactly the same as the real Orion when humans are on board.” According to Orion Project Manager Jon Olansen, “[W]e have target mass properties that we’re trying to meet … so that when we do the flight test in April, we can directly correlate the performance to exactly what Orion would be like if the system had to be used.” Following four days of testing, “Olansen and his team are pleased the project is on track to meet the April launch date.” The capsule was then sent to NASA’s Glenn Research Center, where it will remain for around a month for additional testing before it returns to Johnson Space Center “in mid-September so personnel can attach the capsule to the separation ring, which links the module and the rocket booster, allowing it to separate from the rocket if necessary.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Houston Chronicle)


13 August 2018
SpaceX To Launch "First Space Sculpture" This Fall

Falcon-Heavy-APThe  Daily Mail (UK) reports that the Orbital Reflector “space sculpture” will be launched into orbit for three weeks this fall aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg AFB in October. Orbital Reflector, an installation “co-produced and presented by the Nevada Museum of Art,” is the length of a football field in the “shape of an elongated diamond,” and will be able to be seen four times a night “for several weeks before disintegrating upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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13 August 2018
State, Local Interest in Spaceports Rising

SpaceportAmericaWiki The  Wall Street Journal  reported that local and state officials across the US are working to develop spaceports in order to take advantage of a maturing space industry and increased private investment in commercial spaceports. There are currently 10 licensed commercial spaceports in the US, twice the amount that were operating in 2004. The proposed Spaceport Camden in Georgia and Spaceport Colorado are currently under federal review. According to Spaceport America CEO Daniel Hicks, the commercial sector is driving the spaceport industry, and Hicks sees the current environment as promising. Small rockets designed to launch small satellites are cited in particular as experiencing rapid growth. (Image Credit: Wikipedia )
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10 August 2018
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe “Ready” For Launch Saturday

ParkerSolarProbe-NASA Spaceflight Now reports that NASA has approved a SpaceX proposal to “strap in astronauts atop Falcon 9 rockets, then fuel the launchers in the final hour of the countdown as the company does for its uncrewed missions.” The company’s “load-and-go” procedure, “in which an automatic countdown sequencer commands chilled kerosene and cryogenic liquid oxygen to flow into the Falcon 9 rocket in the final minutes before liftoff,” has “become standard” for the company’s satellite launches. According to NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders, the agency “went through a pretty extensive process where we laid out the different options for loading the crew, and assessing how the vehicles have been designed, and what the trades were.” NASA concluded, Lueders explained, that the “current baseline plan for how SpaceX plans to load the crews meets our requirements.” According to Lueders, SpaceX’s Demo-2 test flight will be preceded by an in-flight abort demonstration by about a month. Lueders added that both SpaceX and The Boeing Company “still have some residual work” to resolve technical issues. Lueders believes that the “biggest challenge, from a schedule perspective, for both providers right now is getting all our parachute testing done.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


10 August 2018
NASA Approves SpaceX “Load-And-Go” Procedure For Crew Launches

Falcon-Heavy-AP Spaceflight Now reports that NASA has approved a SpaceX proposal to “strap in astronauts atop Falcon 9 rockets, then fuel the launchers in the final hour of the countdown as the company does for its uncrewed missions.” The company’s “load-and-go” procedure, “in which an automatic countdown sequencer commands chilled kerosene and cryogenic liquid oxygen to flow into the Falcon 9 rocket in the final minutes before liftoff,” has “become standard” for the company’s satellite launches. According to NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders, the agency “went through a pretty extensive process where we laid out the different options for loading the crew, and assessing how the vehicles have been designed, and what the trades were.” NASA concluded, Lueders explained, that the “current baseline plan for how SpaceX plans to load the crews meets our requirements.” According to Lueders, SpaceX’s Demo-2 test flight will be preceded by an in-flight abort demonstration by about a month. Lueders added that both SpaceX and The Boeing Company “still have some residual work” to resolve technical issues. Lueders believes that the “biggest challenge, from a schedule perspective, for both providers right now is getting all our parachute testing done.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


9 August 2018
NASA Awards $44 Million For Development Of Deep Space Technology

InSight-Mission-NASA ExecutiveGov reports that a DARPA official recently suggested that small launch vehicles such as the Northrop Grumman Pegasus or Rocket Lab Electron “could contribute to the survivability of U.S. military assets in space, Space News reported Tuesday.” DARPA Tactical Technology Office Program Adviser Todd Master, speaking at last month’s Small Payload Rideshare Symposium, cited the growing availability of small rockets as a factor that could help the US military to bring about a “massive proliferation of satellites in low Earth orbit.” Master described this strategy as something his agency is “very interested in.” (Image Credit: DARPA - Public Domain)
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9 August 2018
DARPA Sees Promise Of Resiliency In Small Launch Vehicles

NGC-Pegasus-DARPA ExecutiveGov reports that a DARPA official recently suggested that small launch vehicles such as the Northrop Grumman Pegasus or Rocket Lab Electron “could contribute to the survivability of U.S. military assets in space, Space News reported Tuesday.” DARPA Tactical Technology Office Program Adviser Todd Master, speaking at last month’s Small Payload Rideshare Symposium, cited the growing availability of small rockets as a factor that could help the US military to bring about a “massive proliferation of satellites in low Earth orbit.” Master described this strategy as something his agency is “very interested in.” (Image Credit: DARPA - Public Domain)
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8 August 2018
Wing Conducts First UAV Package Delivery In Virginia

Flirtey-Delivery-Drone-DropboxThe Roanoke Times reports that Wing, an Alphabet subsidiary, conducted its first UAV package delivery Tuesday. Jackson Smith, a 2-year-old from Montgomery County, Virginia “became the recipient of the most advanced drone package delivery to ever occur in the United States, according to those who conducted the Tuesday’s operation.” Until now, “Wing...hasn’t been allowed to fly long distances, over people and beyond the pilot’s line of sight.” That changed “when Virginia was selected as one of 10 areas to participate in an experimental program that would remove barriers on the technology.” According to FAA UAS Integration Office Director Earl Lawrence, “You did see something historic today.” (Image Credit: Flirtey Technology)
More Info (Roanoke Times)


8 August 2018
NASA Astronauts Test Boeing Emergency Evacuation System

Boeing_CST-100 SPACE reports that NASA astronauts recently tested a “superfast” emergency evacuation system for The Boeing Company’s new CST-100 Starliner crew capsule. Photographers captured the test in “captivating imagery for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 August 2018
NASA’s Kepler Telescope “Wakes Up, Phones Home”

Kepler_NASA SPACE reported that NASA’s Kepler space telescope “woke up from a four-week hibernation yesterday (Aug. 2) and has begun beaming data home, just as planned, NASA officials announced today.” Kepler has been in a state of hibernation “in an attempt to save thruster fuel” and to “make sure the spacecraft had enough propellant left to orient its antenna toward Earth for yesterday’s data dump.” Kepler sent back data via NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN). (Image: Artist’s conception of the Kepler space telescope observing planets. Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel via Wikimedia Commons)
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6 August 2018
SpaceX Prepares For Tuesday Launch At Cape Canaveral

Falcon-Heavy-AP Florida Today reports that SpaceX crews are preparing for the first launch early Tuesday of a re-used Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket. The US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron expects 80 percent “go conditions” for the two-hour launch window opening at 3:18 a.m. EDT. SpaceX is expected to carry out “considerably more flights for the vehicle as the company accelerates its ambitions toward full rocket reusability.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Florida Today)


30 July 2018
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite Begins Science Mission

TESS-NASA Spaceflight Now reported that NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) officially began its two-year science mission Wednesday, searching for planets around other stars. Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director, said, “I look forward to the strange, fantastic worlds we’re bound to discover.” George Ricker, who leads the TESS science team at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, described the exoplanet surveyor as a “finder scope” for the Webb telescope and ground-based observatories. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)


30 July 2018
Boeing Expects To Deliver First KC-46A To Air Force In October

BoeingKC-46Tanker_CreditBoeing Aviation Today reported that Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus “has completed more than 3,300 flight testing hours,” and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, during the company’s second-quarter earnings call, said they “recently completed all flight tests required to deliver the first aircraft, which is expected to be in October of this year, as now agreed upon with the U.S. Air Force.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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28 July 2018
NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Prepares For Final “Flyby Target.”

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA SPACE reports that NASA’s New Horizons team is “gearing up for one last shadow-chasing adventure.” This Saturday, the 2014 MU69 space object will pass in front of a distant star, “casting a dim shadow on two slivers of Earth in Senegal and Colombia.” There, New Horizons team members will study the occulation to “give us hints about what to expect at Ultima Thule and help us refine our flyby plans,” according to New Horizons occultation-event leader Marc Buie. Buie explained, “Gathering occultation data is an incredibly difficult task,” adding that NASA is “literally at the limit of what we can detect with Hubble, and the amount of computer processing needed to resolve the data is staggering.” NASA has no “occultation-observation plans beyond this weekend’s campaign,” according to New Horizon mission team members. (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 July 2018
Aerojet Rocketdyne Names Jim Maser Space Business SVP

Jim-Maser-at-AIAA-Awards-Gala-2018 GovCon Wire reports that AIAA [Immediate Past President] Jim Maser has been named senior vice president of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s space business unit effective August 13. Maser “will report directly to President and CEO Eileen Drake and oversee the unit’s work with NASA, defense and commercial launch systems; space and launch strategy and in-space propulsion systems.” Maser also serves on the AIAA Board of Trustees. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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27 July 2018
Bill Introduced In Senate To Extend US Operation Of ISS

International-Space-Station-NASA Houston Chronicle   reports that Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness Chairman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a new bill Thursday that would extend US operation of the ISS to 2030, and called the White House’s plan to end federal funding for the station by 2025 “foolish.” The Space Frontier Act, Cruz wrote in a statement, would continue US “leadership in space by maximizing our utilization and operation of the International Space Station.” Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ed Markey (D-MA) are co-sponsors of the bill. Federal funding for the ISS is currently scheduled to end in 2024. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Aviation Week)


27 July 2018
New Industries Harness Satellite Data

Contested-Space-NASA In a multi-media feature titled “All the Things Satellites Can Now See From Space,”  Bloomberg News  (7/26) reports that increasing numbers of satellites and the data that they generate are being put to a variety of uses, including in-flight weather forecasting, detection of airborne particulate matter, and more. (Image Credit: NASA)
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26 July 2018
ULA Completes Work On Centaur Upper Stage

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA Aviation Week reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) has completed work on its “first dual-engine Centaur upper stage for an Atlas V rocket, a vehicle configuration purchased by Boeing for upcoming CST-100 Starliner flight tests and crew rotation missions to the International Space Station.” (Image: United Launch Alliance Atlas V launches Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft to the ISS. Credit: NASA)
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26 July 2018
Branson Hopes To Go To Space “Before The End Of The Year."

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_Purchased CNET News reports that Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson believes that the company is “on the verge” of reaching its goals to reach space. During an interview, Branson admitted, “Before the end of the year I hope to be sitting in a Virgin Galactic spaceship, going to space.” (Credit: Associated Press–©)
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25 July 2018
NASA Delays Parker Solar Probe Mission To August 11

ParkerSolarProbe-NASAThe Orlando (FL) Sentinel reports that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission is “facing yet another delay, this time until Aug. 11 because of a small strip of foam found inside the spacecraft’s nose cone.” The mission had previously been delayed for two days to August 6 due to a “technical problem during encapsulation.” According to a NASA update issued Tuesday, during final inspections “following the encapsulation of the spacecraft, a small strip of foam was found inside” the spacecraft’s cone, requiring additional time for inspection. The satellite will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37. (ImageCredit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando (FL) Sentinel)


25 July 2018
SpaceX Prepares For Falcon 9 Launch From Vandenburg AFB

Falcon-HEAVY-SpaceX-AP-Purchased CNET News  reports that three days after its last launch from Florida, SpaceX is preparing to launch its second Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenburg AFB in California early Wednesday. The rocket will carry a set of 10 satellites for Iridium, the “seventh of eight planned SpaceX launches to upgrade Iridium’s satellite constellation.” In addition to the rocket’s first-stage booster, SpaceX will also attempt to recover the Falcon 9’s fairing with the company’s “Mr. Steven” vessel. SpaceX has begun to capture boosters “pretty routinely, but has had limited success with recovering the fairings.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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24 July 2018
Lockheed Martin To Hire 400 In Fort Worth To Support F-35 Program

F35_Wikipedia The Dallas Morning News  reports that on Monday, Lockheed Martin announced plans to hire 400 additional “technicians, mechanics and assemblers” to help support the company’s F-35 program in Fort Worth, Texas. The company will begin interviewing candidates in a July 30 hiring event. In particular, Lockheed hopes to hire “in several roles: avionics technician; milling machinist; low observable coater; structural assemblers; aircraft mechanics; field and service mechanics; and electrical assemblers.” The new jobs come on top of more than 1,800 new employees for the F-35 program hired within the last year. Lockheed needs the additional manpower to support an increase in F-35 production “from 66 in 2017 to an expected 91 in 2018,” with an “eventual target of 160 aircraft per year by 2023.” (ImageCredit: U.S. Navy | Wikimedia Commons)
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24 July 2018
Boeing Starliner “Anomaly” Likely To Delay Crewed Mission

Boeing_CST-100 The Los Angeles Times  reports on an “anomaly” suffered by The Boeing Company’s astronaut test capsule “during an engine test fire last month, which analysts said is likely to delay the Chicago aerospace giant’s first flight of astronauts from US soil even further.” The issue happened when a test version of the integrated service module underwent a “hot-fire test of its launch-abort engines.” In a statement Monday, Boeing explained that the engines successfully ignited and ran for the full duration of the test, but that “an anomaly occurred” during engine shutdown that caused a propellant leak. Both Boeing and SpaceX are scheduled to perform crewed tests by the end of the year, but “industry observers have believed the NASA timelines listed on their website were unrealistic, even before the anomaly.” According to Teal Group Senior Space Analyst Marco Caceres, “My sense is that it all gets pushed back at least two to three months at minimum.” Caceres added that the companies “may still meet the uncrewed flight test this year, but then the crewed one will be pushed back to next year.” In its statement, Boeing added that it did not have any schedule updates to make at this time. (ImageCredit: NASA)
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23 July 2018
Parker Solar Probe Mission “Highly Ambitious”

ParkerSolarProbe-NASA Reuters  reported that NASA is preparing to send its Parker Solar probe “closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft has ventured, enduring wicked heat while zooming through the solar corona to study this outermost part of the stellar atmosphere that gives rise to the solar wind.” The probe is scheduled for an August 6 launch date from Cape Canaveral. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Project Scientist Nicola Fox, speaking at a news conference Friday, described the idea to “send a probe where you haven’t been before” as “ambitious,” adding that to “send it into such brutal conditions is highly ambitious.” NASA hopes that data collected by the probe will “enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment.” According to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Solar Scientist Alex Young, it is of “fundamental importance for us to be able to predict this space weather, much like we predict weather here on Earth.” The $1.15 billion project is the “first major mission under NASA’s Living With a Star program.” (ImageCredit: NASA)
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23 July 2018
F-35 “Poised” To Play Larger Role In Europe, Missile Defense

F-35A-LighteningII_USAF-Wiki Reuters  reports that the Lockheed Martin F-35 is arriving in “growing numbers in Europe,” and is “poised to play a much broader role in missile defense and other warfare plans than conventional fighters, according to US and European officials.” According to US Air Force and NATO air forces Commander Gen. Tod Wolters, the fighter’s advanced sensors will allow it to play a larger role in warfighting domains, including missile defense, than its predecessors. Britain, Italy, and Norway will have received 40 F-35s by the end of the year, with the Netherlands receiving aircraft in 2019. In an interview before the Farnborough Airshow, Wolters called the F-35 a “game-changing system,” adding that NATO is “in the process of integrating the F-35 into the complete environment, not just the airspace.” Wolters added that buying countries are working “feverishly” to ensure that the fighter is integrated into its communication systems. At the airshow, Wolters called it one of the F-35 program’s “bigger mistakes” to term the aircraft a fighter due to its broad capabilities. According to Norwegian Air Force Chief of Staff Tonje Skinnarland, “All the European operators of the F-35 are committed to learn from each other and to move as fast as we can.” (Image Credit: US Air Force Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen via | Wikipedia)
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20 July 2018
Rolls-Royce Showcases Swarming Technology At Farnborough

Donecle-drone-autonmous-inspection-wiki Bloomberg News reports that during the Farnborough Airshow, Rolls-Royce demonstrated an “array of miniature robots designed to speed up engine overhauls by removing the need for powerplants to be detached from the aircraft during shop visits.” The swarming robots, less than half an inch across, are designed to “roam the turbine in gangs beaming pictures back to inspection crews” after being inserted by “snake” hosts. (Image: Donecle drone performing an autonomous aircraft inspection. Credit: Josseli Bequet | Wikipedia)
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20 July 2018
US Air Force Forecasts Mixed Conditions For SpaceX’s Planned Launch Sunday

Falcon-Heavy-AP Florida Today reports that meteorologists with the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron believe that early-morning clouds above Cape Canaveral may threaten the planned launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite early Sunday morning. Due to the likely presence of cumulus and thick clouds during the launch window, forecasters estimate a 60 percent chance of favorable conditions for liftoff. SpaceX’s launch window opens at 1:50 a.m. EDT and closes at 5:50 a.m. SpaceX will attempt to recover the rocket’s first-stage booster following the launch. Sunday’s launch will be the second of the Block 5 version of the Falcon 9. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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19 July 2018
NASA To Provide FAA, ICAO Data On Public Acceptance Of X-59A Sonic Booms

NASA-X-Plane Aviation Week reports that NASA has “laid out a three-phase program to collect data on public acceptance of reduced sonic booms” from the X-59A QueSST low-boom demonstrator aircraft designed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. Community data “gathered by the Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) program will be provided to the FAA and International Civil Aviation Organization to help define a standard for en route noise that will permit civil supersonic flight over land.” The X-59A’s first flight is scheduled for 2021. (Image: artist’s concept of a possible QueSST x-plane design. Credit: Lockheed Martin via NASA)
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19 July 2018
Blue Origin Successfully Tests New Shepard Safety Systems

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOriginThe Washington Post reports that Blue Origin successfully completed the ninth flight of its “New Shepard rocket Wednesday, wrapping up another test of the vehicle’s escape system as the company works toward its first human space flight as soon as this year.” The booster and spacecraft launched from the company’s test site in West Texas around 11 a.m. EDT and then “performed a test designed to ferry passengers to safety in the case of an emergency. “ (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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18 July 2018
Boeing Developing Blockchain ATC Technology

ATC-at-Dulles Cryptovest reports that The Boeing Company has announced a partnership with artificial intelligence company SparkCognition to “develop AI and blockchain-based solutions for tracking of unmanned air crafts and air traffic control.” The two companies plan to use artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to develop solutions to track unmanned aircraft and manage traffic, and “also plan to provide a standardized programming interface for solutions for package delivery, industrial inspection and other commercial applications.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC. Credit AIAA–©)
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18 July 2018
Airbus “Anticipates Major Long-Term Benefits” From Smallsat Production

small-satellites-NASAThe Wall Street Journal reports that Airbus anticipates long-term benefits and potential Pentagon contracts as the result of implementing a new high-volume automated production system for small satellites. According to Airbus Defence and Space CEO Dirk Hoke, production and quality control changes made as part of the company’s joint venture with OneWeb will position the company to produce affordable spacecraft using fewer workers than traditional production facilities. Hoke called the company’s commitment to product lightweight satellites primarily using automated manufacturing “a game-changer for us.” (Image Credit: NASA))
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17 July 2018
Boeing Competes For “Scarce” Aerospace, Defense Workers

EA-18G-Growler-WikiIn an article titled “Military Spending Is Up, But Aerospace And Defense Workers Are Scarce,” the New York Times reports that the “aviation and defense industries in Europe, Asia and the Americas” are “struggling to fill new positions created by increased military budgets.” The topic is cited as a likely source of discussion at this week’s Farnborough Air Show. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) “put the increased demand for aerospace and mechanical engineers over the next decade at 6 percent to 9 percent and software developers and information security analysis at 24 percent to 28 percent.” According to Accenture Global Managing Director for Aerospace and Defense John Schmidt, the “US defense budget is the big dog in global military spending.” In a statement, The Boeing Company spokesman Chaz Bickers adds that while “competition for skills is fierce, we continue to attract and recruit incredible talent globally.” (Image: U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier | Wikipedia)
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17 July 2018
Space Industry Enthusiastic About Growth Of Small Satellite Sector

NanoSat-NASA Space News reports that space industry executives at the Farnborough Airshow “reacted enthusiastically to the news on Monday that the United Kingdom will invest in domestic spaceports.” The news is “especially good news for the burgeoning” small satellite industry, as more launch sites and vehicle choices will make it “possible to set up new constellations in months, not years,” GomSpace Chief Commercial Officer Borge Witthoft is paraphrased as predicting. Witthoft sees 2018 and 2019 as breakthrough years for small satellite launches. Draper Labs President and CEO Ken Gabriel believes that small satellites will become increasingly common. Gabriel added, “We will see this happen quickly, it’s aligned with the new guard of space.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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16 July 2018
Boeing KC-46A Clears Final Flight Tests

USAF-KC-46-Refueling-TankerThe Wichita Business Journal reported that a team of Boeing Company and US Air Force personnel have “cleared the final flight tests required for first delivery of the KC-46A Pegasus tanker.” The first delivery of the tanker is planned for “late October, and will go to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.” According to Air Force Service Acquisition Director Will Roper, with the milestone the “test program has demonstrated a level of maturity that positions Boeing to deliver, and the Air Force to accept, an aircraft by the end of October 2018.” The tests involving the aircraft’s “Remote Vision System and receiver certifications of the F-16 Fighting Falcon and C-17 Globemaster combine with previous testing activity to achieve the minimum flight testing requirements for first delivery.” The KC-46A program will now move to “additional receiver aircraft testing and certifications for operational testing to begin in 2019.” (Image: KC-46 aerial refueling tanker. Credit: Christopher Okula | US Air Force, Public Domain)
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16 July 2018
SpaceX Plans Nighttime Launch At Cape Canaveral This Sunday

Falcon-Heavy-AP Florida Today reported that according to the newest US Air Force launch schedules, SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. EDT on Sunday, July 22. The rocket will carry the “Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite for Canada-based Telesat from Launch Complex 40, though a precise liftoff time has not yet been released by SpaceX.” The Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron is expected to issue a weather forecast Tuesday. The Telstar 19V mission will be the second launch of a Block 5 Falcon 9, and SpaceX will attempt to land the rocket’s booster on its Of Course I Still Love You unmanned ship offshore “kicking off the first of at least 10 re-flights with minimal refurbishment, according to CEO Elon Musk.” If the boosters are successfully refurbished, Block 5 Falcon 9s “could fly up to 100 times, meaning SpaceX will only need 30 to 50 total boosters in rotation until its next-generation vehicle, known as Big Falcon Rocket, enters into service in the early 2020s.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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13 July 2018
Orbital ATK Cygnus Spacecraft To Depart ISS Sunday Morning

Russian-Soyuz-and-Cygnus-attached-to-ISS-NASA-27June2018 Aviation International News reports that Airbus Defence and Space has “demonstrated automatic air-to-air refueling” of its A310 tanker prototype with a Royal Australian Air Force Airbus A330 transport. Airbus has previously demonstrated “automatic refueling of a fighter aircraft.” According to Airbus, the system requires no additional receiver equipment, and is intended to improve safety, reduce the workload on the refueling boom operator, and increase the efficiency of air-to-air refueling. (Image: Airbus A310-304, Air Transat. Credit: Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt | Wikimedia Commons)
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13 July 2018
Airbus Demonstrates A310’s Automatic Air-To-Air Refueling Capability

Airbus-A310 Aviation International News reports that Airbus Defence and Space has “demonstrated automatic air-to-air refueling” of its A310 tanker prototype with a Royal Australian Air Force Airbus A330 transport. Airbus has previously demonstrated “automatic refueling of a fighter aircraft.” According to Airbus, the system requires no additional receiver equipment, and is intended to improve safety, reduce the workload on the refueling boom operator, and increase the efficiency of air-to-air refueling. (Image: Airbus A310-304, Air Transat. Credit: Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt | Wikimedia Commons)
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12 July 2018
The Future of Hypersonics

Future-of-Hypersonics-Panel-PropEnergy2018-11July201812 July 2018
The U.S. aerospace sector can encourage research to benefit the emerging and competitive field of military and even commercial hypersonic flight, a panel of executives and government  officials said July 10 at the  2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati. Hypersonic weapons and military aircraft have been around for 60 years, but advancing the science requires new ways of thinking, said Christopher Clay, program manager of  DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. Clay encouraged the audience to find the disrupters in their organizations. (Image Credit AIAA–©)
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12 July 2018
Exponential Digital Technologies Are Transforming Aviation

Colin-Parris-PropEnergy2018Exponential digital technologies are delivering increased value at less cost and rapidly revolutionizing the aviation industry, said Colin Parris, vice president for software research at GE Global Research, July 11 during the “Digital Transformation in Aviation Services” session at the 2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati. Parris said exponential characteristics exhibited by digital technology are helping GE Aviation economically and strategically. The goal, he said, is to realize lower maintenance costs while maximizing revenue and reliability. (Image: Colin Parris, vice president for software research, GE Global Research, delivers remarks on "Digital Transformation in Aviation Services," July 11 at the 2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati. AIAA–©)
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11 July 2018
Additive Manufacturing Streamlines Processes for Manufacturers

AdditiveManufacturing-Panel-PropEnergy2018Additive manufacturing — a hot topic for the past several years — is transforming processes and business models for aerospace manufacturers, a panel of experts said July 11 during the “Additive Manufacturing” session at the 2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati. Christine Furstoss, vice president of engineering and technology at GE Additive, shared one example. “Additive can disrupt the chain of many different parts having to be kitted, because now we can print them as just one part,” she explained. “If you have less parts, if those parts can be better integrated, if we can design out some parts that may have limited life because of joints or failure, we can redesign our business model.” (Image: Colin Parris, vice president for software research, GE Global Research, delivers remarks on "Digital Transformation in Aviation Services," July 11 at the 2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati. AIAA–©)
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11 July 2018
Aerospace Is Hiring for Now and the Future

WorkforcePanel-PropEnergy2018-11July2018The aerospace industry is dealing with the tough problem of needing to reach out to elementary students to build the workforce pipeline while simultaneously hiring people right now, panelists said July 11 at the 2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati. The panelists discussed ways to tackle the issue during the “Workforce Challenges and Policy Initiatives to Support the Propulsion and Energy Industry” session. Steven Justice, panel moderator and executive director of the Centers of Innovation at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said jobs are available but tough to fill. (Image: Participants in the panel discussion "Workforce Challenges and Policy Initiatives to Support the Propulsion and Energy Industry," July 11 at the 2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati. AIAA–©)
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6 July 2018
NASA Issues RFP For Second Mobile Launch Platform

AeroVironment-Mars-Helicopter-Credit-AeroVironment Space News reports that NASA has called for proposals to construct a “second mobile launch platform that will be used by an upgraded version of the Space Launch System [SLS] rocket starting in the early 2020s.” The NASA solicitation was issued June 29 for Mobile Launcher 2 (ML2), which will go through a “two-step process, starting with a request for qualifications due at the end of July.” NASA plans to ask up to five companies from that phase to “submit full-fledged proposals, due in November.” NASA describes ML2 as “similar in nature to and concept of operations to the existing mobile launch platform.” The new launcher will be built for the SLS Block 1B rocket, and is also “intended to support future versions of the SLS.” NASA expects to award an ML2 contract in February 2019, with completion planned by late 2022. The first launch of the “Block 1B version of the SLS would thus not take place until after that, likely 2023.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 July 2018
AeroVironment, JPL To Build NASA’s Mars Helicopter

AeroVironment-Mars-Helicopter-Credit-AeroVironment Aviation Today reports that AeroVironment announced it will collaborate with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to “build the agency’s Mars Helicopter planned to fly on Mars.” The helicopter will be part of NASA’s next Mars rover mission, planned for July 2020 to “demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the red planet.” AeroVironment displayed a model of the Mars Helicopter during a press briefing held on June 27, and “AeroVironment’s model incorporates airfoil design principles and simulation tools.” AeroVironment is currently building flight versions of subsystems to integrate into a vehicle built by JPL and “integrating AeroVironment’s rotor, landing gear, fuselage shell and solar panel substrate.” (Image Credit: AeroVironment)
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5 July 2018
US Army Plans To Test “Off-The-Shelf” UAVs For FTUAS

Engineer-Flies-Phantom3-AP Aviation Week reported that the US Army plans to acquire “multiple off-the-shelf air vehicles for operational demonstrations to inform requirements for the planned Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (FTUAS) program.” A request for proposals (RFP) released July 2 details the Army’s intent to award multiple contracts with an estimated ceiling value of $78 million “following a fly-off demonstration.” According to a performance work statement attached to the draft RFP explains that the Army’s unmanned aircraft program office “will procure up to six NDI Group 2/3 UAS as part of demonstrations within U.S. Army Forces Command Brigade Combat Teams in support of the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team [FVL CFT).” (Image: An engineer flies a DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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5 July 2018
Aerojet Rocketdyne Test-Fires AR-22 At Stennis Space Center

AR-22-Rocket-Engine-Test-Fired-2July2018-AP-PurchasedThe AP reported that Aerojet Rocketdyne test-fired its experimental AR-22 rocket engine Monday at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The engine is designed to be part of a “reusable spacecraft that can launch into space repeatedly with a quick turnaround time.” The Phantom Express spacecraft is a “collaboration between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne.” The AR-22 will be tested by engineers “over a 10-day period by firing it up for 100 seconds and then doing it again 24 hours later.” Monday is the sixth of a planned 10 test fires. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Tom Martin described the test’s data as “exactly what we expected,” adding that the “engine did exactly what we were expecting it to.” According to DARPA’s Scott Wierzbanowski, Phantom Express utilizes many space shuttle technologies, specifically its main engine and thermal protection system. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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3 July 2018
US Navy’s $4.2 Billion V-22 Osprey Contract “Provides Program Stability” Through 2024

V-22-Osprey-FOX52-wiki FlightGlobal reports on the announcement that a Bell-Boeing joint venture has been awarded a $4.2 billion US Navy contract to produce 78 V-22 Osprey helicopters, the “third multiyear purchase of the VTOL aircraft.” The contract pays for 39 CMV-22B aircraft for the Navy, “34 MV-22B aircraft for the Marine Corps; 1 CV-22B for the Air Force; and 4 MV-22B aircraft for the Japan Self-Defense Forces.” According to Bell V-22 Program Vice President Chris Gehler, the “multiyear production contract provides program production stability through at least 2024.” The Navy will use its CVM-22B aircraft to transport “personnel and cargo from shore to aircraft carriers, eventually replacing the Grumman C-2A Greyhound.” (Image Credit: FOX 52 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 | Wikipedia)
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3 July 2018
Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Nears Production

DreamChaser-Edwards-AFB-NASA Aerospace America interviews Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems head Mark Sirangelo at the company’s Colorado production facility about the development of the company’s Dream Chaser spacecraft. The Dream Chaser Cargo System is “about to be built on a brand-new manufacturing floor side by side with SNC’s pitch for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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2 July 2018
NASA To Submit X-59 Spending Limit To Congress

X-59-AerospaceAmerica Aerospace America reported that NASA officials are preparing to submit funding and schedule commitments for its X-59 supersonic demonstrator aircraft to Congress in October. Agency officials expect to need “around $500 million to pay for construction and test flights” for the aircraft, and the spending commitment will “apply to future budgets needed to complete the project.” NASA expects to complete the X-59 by 2025. According to NASA Integrated Aviation Systems Program Director Ed Waggoner, “Congress will hold us to that, so that’s a big deal.” NASA Commercial Supersonics Technology Project Manager Peter Coen hopes the aircraft can make its first safety test flight in 2021. Before the pledge can be submitted to Congress, NASA and Lockheed Martin must complete a delta preliminary design review detailing “components of the plane and how they will fit together.” Technology requirements identified in the review, which is to be completed by the end of July, “will help NASA identify workforce and other needs.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America )
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2 July 2018
A3 Plans to Transition Vahana To Horizontal Flight For First Time

Vahana-AerospaceAmerica Aerospace America reported that in August, Airbus’ A3 plans to transition a “full-scale prototype” of its unmanned Vahana aircraft from vertical to horizontal flight “for the first time.” The Alpha One prototype will accomplish this by “tilting its wings, which have electrically driven propellers distributed across them.” According to A3 CEO Rodin Lyasoff, A3 envisions Vahana aircraft being able to fly passengers as soon as 2022, depending on flight testing and certification timelines. A3 is “confident in the transition because of distributed electric propulsion and because of the subscale flights.” According to Lyasoff, the subscale version of the Vahana “was very stable and well behaved throughout the transition.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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2 July 2018
NASA To Submit X-59 Spending Limit To Congress

X-59-AerospaceAmerica Aerospace America reported that NASA officials are preparing to submit funding and schedule commitments for its X-59 supersonic demonstrator aircraft to Congress in October. Agency officials expect to need “around $500 million to pay for construction and test flights” for the aircraft, and the spending commitment will “apply to future budgets needed to complete the project.” NASA expects to complete the X-59 by 2025. According to NASA Integrated Aviation Systems Program Director Ed Waggoner, “Congress will hold us to that, so that’s a big deal.” NASA Commercial Supersonics Technology Project Manager Peter Coen hopes the aircraft can make its first safety test flight in 2021. Before the pledge can be submitted to Congress, NASA and Lockheed Martin must complete a delta preliminary design review detailing “components of the plane and how they will fit together.” Technology requirements identified in the review, which is to be completed by the end of July, “will help NASA identify workforce and other needs.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America )
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28 June 2018
Skunk Works Head Discusses F-35’s Future At AIAA AVIATION Forum

F-35-Panel-2018-AVIATION-25June2018 Aviation Today reports that Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs – also known as “Skunk Works” – head Jeff Babione spoke at the AIAA AVIATION Forum Tuesday on the F-35’s “controversial two-decade history and its path going forward.” Babione led the F-35 program until recently. One of the “most immediate upgrades coming to the F-35 is an automatic ground collision avoidance system,” while Raytheon’s replacement for the Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-37 distributed aperture system “will gain around five times the resolution in its 360-degree sensor package at a lower cost.” Lockheed is examining “increased integration of AI and machine learning,” including F-35 sensor suite data, and Babione envisioned a potential future wherein a pilot’s view “out of the cockpit is one that is completely augmented.” Babione also addressed the US government’s attention to the “cost to own the F-35 over its entire life-cycle.” (Image: Lockheed Martin's Jeff Babione (center) is joined on stage by (from left to right) AIAA President John Langford; moderator Juan Alfonso; Lockheed Martin's Ron Bessire; and AIAA Executive Director Dan Dumbacher. Credit: AIAA)
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28 June 2018
US Army May Contribute Troops To Space Force

Patriot-Missile-Test-USArmy Space News reports that the US Army may contribute personnel to the White House’s newly announced Space Force. Although it is expected that the new branch’s “ranks would be dominated by airmen,” Army soldiers “also would have a role” in the Space Force “by virtue of much they rely on military satellites in peacetime or in war.” Around 2,200 active-duty soldiers, reservists, and civilians are associated with space functions at the “US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.” Army Space and Missile Defense Command Deputy Commanding General for Operations Brig. Gen. Tim Lawson called the Army “the biggest users of space” in the military. Speaking about the potential service branch at the 2018 MilSatCom USA conference Wednesday, Lawson suggested US Strategic Command Commander Gen. John Hyten and Air Force Space Command’s Gen. John Raymond as “the two guys that are going to get us there and are going to get us there right.” (Image: A PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement advanced missile defense system launches during a ballistic missile target test, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. Credit: US Army)
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27 June 2018
DHS Program Seeks To Acquire New UAV Sensor Packages

Engineer-Flies-Phantom3-AP Homeland Preparedness News reports that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is looking to equip UAVs “with different sensors other than cameras that may be useful in search-and-rescue, surveillance, active shooter response, hostage situations, and other scenarios.” The directorate has “launched a program” to acquire commercially available sensors, which will be “demonstrated at Camp Shelby” as part of “S&T’s Robotic Aircraft Sensor Program (RASP).” The goal of the program is to “enhance DHS awareness of industry’s latest drone sensor combinations and capabilities.” RASP Project Manager Tim Bennett explained that the program will “identify new technology that will improve component operations,” as well as “educate suppliers on the needs of CBP (Customs and Border Protection), ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and USCG (U.S. Coast Guard) so they can incorporate them into their products.’”(Image: An engineer flies a DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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25 June 2018
NASA, SpaceX Plan For Early Friday Launch Of Falcon 9 ISS Mission

Falcon-Heavy-AP Florida Today reported that SpaceX and NASA are “still proceeding toward an early morning Friday launch from Cape Canaveral” of a Falcon 9 rocket to “deliver supplies, cargo and science to the ISS.” Launch teams are targeting a 5:42 a.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Complex 40, “which should arrive at the ISS around 5:30 a.m. on Monday, July 2.” The mission will feature one of SpaceX’s “last Block 4 first stages,” which previously launched NASA’s TESS spacecraft in April. The Air Force is expected to release a weather forecast Tuesday.(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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25 June 2018
US Air Force Plans To Replace UH-1N Huey

UH-1-Wiki Aviation Week reports that NASA has moved to a new phase of small UAV “detect-and-avoid testing” in which the agency’s Ikhana UAV will fly within the National Airspace System (NAS) without a chase aircraft following. A two-and-a-half-hour flight on June 12 “validated initial FAA standards for detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems developed by NASA and industry and extensively tested in previous flight campaigns.” The flight marked the completion of the “first phase of NASA’s UAS in the NAS program.” Under the second phase, a DAA sensor “with low cost, size, weight and power” will be developed for small unmanned aircraft “too small to carry” an air-to-air radar developed for the MQ-9/Predator B. The radar will be “installed on NASA’s Sierra-B research unmanned aircraft, a Group 3 UAS with a gross weight of 480 lb. and wingspan of 20 ft., and flown in two further flight test campaigns” as part of phase two.(Image: NASA's Ikhana unmanned aircraft on a Southern California wildfires imaging mission. Credit: Jim Ross/NASA)
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22 June 2018
NASA Moves To Second Phase Of UAV Detect-And-Avoid Testing

Ikhana_WildfireImagingFlight_NASA Aviation Week reports that NASA has moved to a new phase of small UAV “detect-and-avoid testing” in which the agency’s Ikhana UAV will fly within the National Airspace System (NAS) without a chase aircraft following. A two-and-a-half-hour flight on June 12 “validated initial FAA standards for detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems developed by NASA and industry and extensively tested in previous flight campaigns.” The flight marked the completion of the “first phase of NASA’s UAS in the NAS program.” Under the second phase, a DAA sensor “with low cost, size, weight and power” will be developed for small unmanned aircraft “too small to carry” an air-to-air radar developed for the MQ-9/Predator B. The radar will be “installed on NASA’s Sierra-B research unmanned aircraft, a Group 3 UAS with a gross weight of 480 lb. and wingspan of 20 ft., and flown in two further flight test campaigns” as part of phase two.(Image: NASA's Ikhana unmanned aircraft on a Southern California wildfires imaging mission. Credit: Jim Ross/NASA)
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22 June 2018
Blue Origin Expects To Sell Suborbital Flight Tickets Next Year

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOrigin Space News reports that according to Blue Origin Senior Vice President Rob Meyerson, the company expects to begin New Shepard orbital flights “soon” and plans to begin selling tickets for commercial flights next year. Speaking at the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit here, Meyerson announced Blue Origin’s plans to “start flying our first test passengers soon” from a West Texas test site, adding that tickets are expected to begin going on sale in 2019 for commercial flights. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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21 June 2018
Bell, Airbus Helicopters Interested In Japan’s AH-X Attack Helicopter Contest

Airbus-H145-Credit-Airbus FlightGlobal reports that both Airbus Helicopters and Bell have expressed interest in participating in Tokyo’s “emerging AH-X attack helicopter contest.” Japan issued a request for information (RFI) in mid-May as it “begins the process of replacing” the country’s Bell AH-1S Cobra fleet. According to Flight Fleets Analyzer, 71 of the aircraft are still in service. Airbus Helicopters plans to offer “commercial-off-the-shelf solutions” using its HForce common weapons system “rather than its dedicated attack helicopter, the Tiger.” Airbus Helicopters is integrating the “HForce system onto its H125M, H145M and H225M rotorcraft, with the H160M likely to be included in the mid-2020s.” Bell plans to offer its AH-1Z Viper, a “direct descendant of Japan’s current Cobras.” Boeing is also thought to be “likely to participate in the RFI process with its AH-64E Apache.” (Image: H145. Credit: Airbus)
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21 June 2018
China Potentially Preparing To Deorbit Tiangong-2 Lab

Tiangong-1-ChinaWiki Space News reports that China has lowered the orbit of its “Tiangong-2 space lab, likely in preparation for deorbiting the orbital facility and thus averting a similar scenario to the uncontrolled re-entry of Tiangong-1 earlier this year.” The Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016 to test “advanced life support and refueling and resupply capabilities” in preparation for China’s planned large, modular space station. Orbital information provided by US Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command “indicates that Tiangong-2 has moved from an altitude of around 380 by 386 kilometers down to 292 by 297 kilometers.” Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell believes that it is “likely that the lowering of Tiangong-2’s orbit is the first step in safely disposing of it.” (Image Credit: China Wiki)
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20 June 2018
Boeing 737 MAX Setting “Industry Record” For Adoption

Boeing737Max Aviation Week reports that around 140 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have been delivered to “almost 30 operators since its commercial debut 13 months ago,” and that the jet is “quickly setting an industry record for the fastest introduction ever of a new jet transport.” The “swiftly expanding fleet is easing into operation” with a “relatively trouble-free track record,” and customers are taking advantage of the aircraft’s additional range. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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20 June 2018
Bridenstine Affirms Support For New Space Policy Directive

Why-go-back-to-the-moon-NASA ExecutiveGov reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has affirmed his agency’s support for the White House’s move to “enforce a new directive that seeks to increase the security and safety of US space systems.” According to Bridenstine’s statement, released Tuesday, Space Policy Directive-3 “builds on our continued progress implementing SPD-1, which is galvanizing American space leadership by returning to the Moon with commercial and international partners, and SPD-2, which will create regulatory certainty for entrepreneurs to raise capital to grow the American economy in space.” Bridenstine outlined NASA’s plans to coordinate with the National Space Council, Department of Commerce, and other government partners. (Image Credit: NASA)
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19 June 2018
Trump Promises “Space Force,” Takes On Space Debris

Trump-Pence-NSC-June2018-AP-Purchased Aerospace America reports that President Donald Trump on Monday opened the third meeting of his administration’s National Space Council, this one in the ornate East Room of the White House, telling the assembled U.S. space luminaries about his vision for cutting regulations and creating a U.S. Space Force “separate but equal” from the U.S. Air Force, among other topics. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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19 June 2018
Airbus “Studying Options” To Extend Range Of A321

Airbus-A321-AAFlight-Wiki Bloomberg News reports that Airbus is considering options to “extend the range of its A321 narrowbody” ahead of a decision by The Boeing Company on “whether to push ahead with a competing model, according to a person familiar with the matter.” The A321 already has a “long-range variant” able to fly 4,000 nautical miles, and may be equipped with additional fuel tanks that would allow the aircraft to fly even farther, according to the source. The new model, which is in “an early stage” of considering, could be called the “A321XLR.” Any move by Airbus to develop the variant “will depend partly on whether Boeing opts to go ahead with a new midmarket plane, dubbed the 797, which could be available to airlines by the middle of the next decade.” (Image Credit: Alan Wilson | Wikimedia Commons)
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19 June 2018
NASA Completes Flight Trials Of Gear And Flap Noise-Reduction Technology

NASA-Gulfstream-III Aviation Week reports that NASA is analyzing noise data from “recently completed flight trials of a modified Gulfstream III at Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.” The tests ending in late April completed a “four-year program that initially investigated the aerodynamic efficiency of a shape-changing flexible flap.” The technology could “pave the way” for new noise-reduction components in future business and commercial aircraft. (Image Credit: NASA)
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18 June 2018
CFM’s Leap Deliveries Overtake CFM56 For First Time

LEAP-Engine-AP-Purchased Aviation Week reported that deliveries of CFM International’s Leap-1 engines “are about to overtake those of the CFM56 for the first time.” The development is a “watershed moment” for the GE Aviation-Safran Aircraft Engines joint venture, and “comes as combined deliveries of the two engine families remain on course to reach between 2,000 and 2,250 for the year, despite production system issues that have put the company behind its delivery schedule of Leap-1Bs to Boeing.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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18 June 2018
“Record-Breaking” NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Retires

PeggyWhitson-at-ISS-NASAThe AP reported that Peggy Whitson, “NASA’s record-breaking astronaut,” retired Friday “less than a year after returning from her last and longest spaceflight.” Whitson has spent more time in space “than any other American: 665 days over three space station missions.” Whitson completed 10 spacewalks during her tenure, the most of any American; was the “first woman to command the International Space Station, holding the position twice”; and was “the oldest woman ever to fly in space.” Whitson is also the only woman to have “served as chief of NASA’s male-dominated astronaut corps.” In a statement, Johnson Space Center Director of Flight Operations Brian Kelly said that Whitson “set the highest standards for human spaceflight operations, as well as being an outstanding role model for women and men in America and across the globe.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 June 2018
Lawmakers Criticize NASA Cost, Schedule Overruns

Dan-Dumbacher-Testifies-House-SC-Space-13June2018 The Hill reports that lawmakers at a congressional hearing Thursday “scolded NASA officials over a recent report that found the space agency’s major projects are running over-budget and over-schedule.” A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that NASA’s four “highest-profile programs” – the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Spacecraft, Commercial Crew Program, and James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – “face significant cost and deadline problems.” House Science Subcommittee on Space Chairman Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) charged at his panel’s hearing that NASA “has been plagued for years with contract management issues which have resulted in substantial cost overruns and schedule slips.” Rep. Clay Higgins attributed the overruns to a “culture of optimism” and a “too big to fail attitude” among agency project managers. Former NASA Program Manager and current AIAA Executive Director Daniel Dumbacher said that Congress should also accept some responsibility for the current state, arguing that the “current budgeting process, including the regular use of continuing resolutions, late year appropriations, and threats of government shutdowns, results in endless, multiple planning scenarios.” The lack of stable funding, Dumbacher added, leads “to inefficiencies in planning and technical execution.” (Image: AIAA Executive Director Dan Dumbacher testifies before the House Subcommittee on Space Thursday morning, 13 June 2018, in a hearing titled, “NASA Cost and Schedule Overruns: Acquisition and Program Management Challenges. Credit: AIAA–©)
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15 June 2018
Airbus Debuts New A320 Production Line With Increased Automation

AirbusA320Neo_AP_Purchased Reuters reports that Airbus “inaugurated a new production line” for its A320 jet with “robots Luise and Renate joining human workers as it turns to new automation to help it deal with an eight-year order backlog.” Airbus hopes that digital technology “will enable higher production and trigger a significant shift in research and development spending toward high-tech manufacturing.” In an effort to compete with the Boeing 737, Airbus is increasing A320 production from 50 aircraft to 60 aircraft per month. The new final assembly line “in Hamburg, like other lines, has a top rate of 10 aircraft per month, which it will reach by mid-2019.” The new robots will help to “drill over 2,000 holes to join the two halves of the fuselage together, work normally done by humans.” The robots are part of a “new final assembly line” where the aircraft’s fuselage and wings are “transported by automated moving tooling platforms, rather than being lowered by cranes onto fixed jigs, and where dynamic laser tracking is used to perfectly align aircraft parts.” According to Airbus, the new system’s reduction in damage and errors is more valuable than a reduction in time. (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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14 June 2018
Pratt & Whitney Outlines Changes To F-35 Engine Upgrade Path

F35_Wikipedia.jpg Aviation International News reports that Pratt & Whitney (P&W) has changed its “proposed upgrade path for the F135 engine powering the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter,” and now offers two stages of “improvements over a four-year period, compared with the three-stage, 10-year plan ending with a completely new engine that it revealed a year ago.” The stages are called Growth Option 1.0 and 2.0 and “include greater thrust, lower fuel burn, and better thermal management.” P&W Military Engines President Matthew Bromberg added this week that P&W has combined its “Growth 1A” thrust-increase option for the F-35B within Growth Option 1.0. The 1.0 package “offers 10 percent more thrust than the F135’s current nominal 40,000 pounds, and 5 percent better fuel burn.” P&W is also working with Rolls-Royce to “provide a 5 percent increase in vertical thrust” while hovering. Bromberg explained that Growth Option 2.0 could provide the F-35 with “a significant increase in power and thermal management capability” within four years without requiring an all-new engine design. P&W is offering the new “optional package as a result of the perceived need for an improved power and thermal management system (PTMS) to accompany the upgrades to the F-35 that Lockheed Martin is proposing.” Lockheed Martin sees the upgrades as part of its “continuous capability development and delivery (C2D2) strategy.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikimedia Commons)
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14 June 2018
EU Votes To Exclude Britain From Galileo Satellite Program

Galileo-Program-ESA The Guardian (UK) reports that a majority of European Union (EU) member states have “turned against” the United Kingdom and voted in favor of “pushing forward on the next round of contracts for the £8bn” Galileo satellite program, “despite requests for a delay to allow negotiations over British involvement to progress.” British companies are barred from bidding on the contracts. A report “handed to EU negotiators last month warned that restricting UK involvement would lead to delays of up to three years and an additional cost” of around $1.2 billion. A presentation submitted to member states and made public Wednesday “insisted that the EU’s guiding philosophy was that a country withdrawing from the union could not enjoy the same benefits as a member state.” The vote resulted in a “furious response” from British Science Minister Sam Gyimah, who indicated that Britain is willing to “walk away” from the project and develop a rival system. (Image: Galileo SatNav System. Credit: ESA – P. Carril)
More Info (The Guardian)


13 June 2018
Unmanned NASA Aircraft Flies Solo For First Time

NASA-UAV-Flies-Solo-NAS-Credit-NASA The AP reports that NASA flew a “large, remotely piloted aircraft equipped with detect-and-avoid technologies through the national airspace system for the first time without a safety chase plane following it.” According to NASA, Tuesday’s flight over California moves the US closer to allowing unmanned aircraft operation within the US national airspace. NASA’s Ikhana, a “non-military version of the Air Force’s MQ-9 Predator B,” was used in the test, and flew west from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert “into Class A airspace where airliners fly, north to Fresno and south through Class E general aviation airspace, including an approach to Victorville airport.” As part of the test, the aircraft also transitioned between air traffic controllers. (Image Credit: NASA)
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13 June 2018
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Captures Meteoroid Impact

MRO-Captures-Impact-Crater-JPL CNET News reports that NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) “captured a view of Mars showing an impact crater and its unusual aftermath.” The crater itself is shown as a “fuzzy, round area with a slash of dark material leading away from it” due to an avalanche triggered by the impact. The MRO took the image in February, and it was posted by NASA this week. (Image Credit: JPL/NASA)
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12 June 2018
National Academies Panel Finds FAA Too Cautious Regarding UAVs

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APThe AP reports that scientists advising the federal government believe that “safety regulators should do more to speed the integration of commercial drones into the nation’s airspace.” The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine in a report Monday accused the FAA of making “overly conservative risk assessments” that focus on the potential downsides “instead of a holistic risk picture.” The board called for the agency to consider the potential benefits of UAVs instead of focusing solely on their risk to aircraft. The study was requested by Congress last year. The experts argued that the FAA discourages many “commercial uses of unmanned aircraft without considering their potential to reduce other risks and save lives.” The science board – whose members represented universities, research groups, and the aerospace industry – included “a representative of Boeing’s drone business.” The board experts concluded that “fear of making a mistake’ drives a risk culture at the FAA that is too often overly conservative, particularly with regard to (drone) technologies, which do not pose a direct threat to human life in the same way as technologies used in manned aircraft.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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12 June 2018
Orbital ATK Plans To Expand Satellite Service Offerings

Orbital-ATK-Satellite-Servicing-Vehicles Space News reports that Orbital ATK’s SpaceLogistics subsidiary plans to offer customers a “wide range of products and services, beginning with its Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) and progressing to in-orbit spacecraft assembly, repair and cis-lunar transportation.” Orbital ATK Vice President Jim Armor called the MEV a “baby step” toward satellite servicing, and according to SpaceLogistics Vice President of Business Development and Operations Joseph Anderson, the company is maintaining a “keep-it-simple approach” for in-orbit servicing. Anderson said, “Our customers are very risk averse. Taking small incremental steps in risk and technology are what they demand.” SpaceLogistics plans to conduct a “ground demonstration” of its Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services (CIRAS) technology – which focuses on the in-orbit manufacturing and assembly of large space vehicles – this summer. According to Anderson, following the test, “we hope to be awarded a follow-on contract to do an in-orbit demonstration.” Anderson added that the company plans to develop vehicles equipped with “highpower solar electric propulsion systems” which “could transport supplies to cis-lunar orbit or other destinations” as well as a power and propulsion element for the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway. (Image Credit: Orbital ATK)
More Info (Space News)


11 June 2018
FAA Certification For Cessna Longitude A “Moving Target”

Textron-Aviation-Cessna-Citation-LATITUDE-Wiki The Wichita Eagle reported that new FAA requirements are stretching the certification date for Textron Aviation’s new Cessna Citation Longitude business jet “farther than the company planned.” Certification has been a “moving target” for the jet, which Textron originally hoped to enter into service in 2017. According to Textron Aviation Senior Vice President of Engineering Brad Thress, Textron has had to work with “10 years of rules changes.” The Cessna Citation Sovereign was the company’s last new aircraft design. According to FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory, new FAA “safety requirements may add additional testing, but that is typical of any new type certification project.” (Image: Textron Aviation Cessna Citation Latitude 680A, Las Vegas–McCarran International Airport, Nevada, December 2, 2016. Credit: Tomás Del Coro | Wikimedia Commons)
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11 June 2018
SpaceX Plans “Major Expansion” Of KSC

Falcon-Heavy-AP Florida Today reported that according to a draft environmental review recently published by Kennedy Space Center (KSC), “SpaceX will undertake a major expansion of its facilities at the space center sometime in the not-too-distant future.” The new proposed Launch and Landing Control Center at Kennedy Space Center would include a “world-class, architecturally distinctive” tower up to 300 feet tall, “a 133,000-square-foot hangar and a rocket garden rising in the heart of Kennedy Space Center.” The expansion would allow the company to “refurbish large numbers of Falcon rocket boosters and nose cones at the operations center down the road from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.” According to SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson, as the company’s “launch cadence and manifest for missions from Florida continues to grow, we are seeking to expand our capabilities and streamline operations to launch, land and re-fly our Falcon family of rockets.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Florida Today)


8 June 2018
FAA Expands UAV No-Fly Zones Over Federal Facilities

No-Drone-Zone-Sign-AP-Purchased Aviation Week reports that the FAA has instituted the “latest in a series of no-drone zones over federal facilities” on June 7 as news “surfaced separately that the Defense Department has ordered its units to stop buying commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) until the Pentagon develops a cybersecurity strategy.” The FAA named 19 US prisons overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and “10 Coast Guard bases and facilities at which drone flights will be prohibited from the ground to 400 ft. above each site, effective June 20.” According to the FAA, operators who violate the restrictions may be subject to civil penalties and criminal charges. Separately, the website sUAS News “published a copy of an apparent Defense Department memorandum that directs the service secretaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under secretaries of defense, combatant commanders, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and other leadership to immediately suspend purchases of commercial UAS.” The memo was dated May 23, and directs leadership to avoid commercial UAV use until the Pentagon “identifies and fields a solution to mitigate known cybersecurity risks.”(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Aviation Week)


8 June 2018
Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes First Engine For Boeing “Phantom Express” Spaceplane

Boeing-Phantom-Express-Spaceplane-Boeing Aviation Week reports that the FAA has instituted the “latest in a series of no-drone zones over federal facilities” on June 7 as news “surfaced separately that the Defense Department has ordered its units to stop buying commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) until the Pentagon develops a cybersecurity strategy.” The FAA named 19 US prisons overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and “10 Coast Guard bases and facilities at which drone flights will be prohibited from the ground to 400 ft. above each site, effective June 20.” According to the FAA, operators who violate the restrictions may be subject to civil penalties and criminal charges. Separately, the website sUAS News “published a copy of an apparent Defense Department memorandum that directs the service secretaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under secretaries of defense, combatant commanders, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and other leadership to immediately suspend purchases of commercial UAS.” The memo was dated May 23, and directs leadership to avoid commercial UAV use until the Pentagon “identifies and fields a solution to mitigate known cybersecurity risks.”(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Aviation Week)


7 June 2018
White House Aide: Drones Are The Future Of US Aviation

Drone-Delivery-Test-22June2016-AP-PurchasedWriting for CNN , Deputy Assistant to the President on Technology Policy Michael Kratsios argues that UAVs are the future of US aviation. Kratsios forecasts that UAVs will “create countless American jobs within and around the aviation industry, transform the delivery of household goods, improve the safety of dangerous occupations and expand access to life-saving medical supplies.” For this reason, the White House hopes to advance UAVs in a safe way. Kratsios highlights that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao selected 10 partnerships for a new pilot program that aims to allow “the operation of drones in innovative ways for the benefit of the American people.” (Image: A UAV carrying simulated blood and other medical samples, flies during a delivery simulation Wednesday, June 22, 2016, in Lower Township, NJ. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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7 June 2018
Bridenstine: NASA To Consider “A Range Of Options” For ISS

International-Space-Station-NASAThe New York Times reports that NASA is working on plans to “commercialize the International Space Station, which currently costs up to $4 billion a year to maintain.” According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, the agency will consider “a range of options” to allow for private operation of the station. He added that under some options, “the ISS wouldn’t exist in its current form,” or may be “split into a number of different components” or partially “re-orbited.” Bridenstine stressed that no decision has yet been made. NASA’s options for privatization “may be limited by the international agreements establishing the ISS,” which involved over a dozen countries. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 June 2018
Researchers Developing UAV Technology Inspired By Bee Brains

Engineer-Flies-Phantom3-AP USA Today reports in a video that NASA plans to make a major announcement Thursday about a new science discovery by the agency’s Mars Curiosity rover. (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 June 2018
NASA To Announce Major Mars Curiosity Discovery Thursday

Curiosity-on-Mars-ArtistsImpression_CreditNASA USA Today reports in a video that NASA plans to make a major announcement Thursday about a new science discovery by the agency’s Mars Curiosity rover. (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 June 2018
Video Of Monday’s SpaceX Launch Released

SpaceX-Falcon9-Launch-4June2018 USA Today hosts video of Monday’s early morning launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an SES communications satellite. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
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5 June 2018
CALC In Talks With Boeing, Airbus On 200-Aircraft Order To “Meet Surging Demand From Asian Carriers”

Boeing737Max Bloomberg News reports that China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings (CALC) is in talks with Airbus and The Boeing Company to “order as many as 200 planes as the state-backed lessor seeks to meet surging demand from Asian carriers.” The lessor is looking at both narrow-body and wide-body jets, according to CEO Mike Poon, and is considering the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 for short-haul flights, with the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 under consideration for longer routes. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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4 June 2018
Ukraine Signs $643 Million Contract With Airbus Helicopters

Airbus-H145-Credit-Airbus FlightGlobal reported that Airbus Helicopters won a $643 million contract to supply 55 helicopters “to Ukraine’s interior ministry, including a number of second-hand units.” The order will include a mix of “H125 light-singles, H145 medium-twins and H225 heavy-twins,” with the first four aircraft to be delivered this year. According to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, at least 21 of the helicopters will be H225s, and a large portion of them will be pre-owned aircraft. (Image: H145. Credit: Airbus)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


31 May 2018
Video Released Of Successful Virgin Galactic Test Flight

VSS-Unity-Virgin-Galactic SPACE hosts a two-and-a-half-minute video of the successful test flight of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity space plane. The video “chronicles” the test flight “over California’s Mojave Desert from takeoff to landing.” The video features “gorgeous shots of Unity rocketing upward atop a tail of bright-orange flame,” as well as footage “inside the cockpit.” (Image Credit: Virgin Galactic via Twitter)
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31 May 2018
Boeing Looks To Keep AH-64 Apache Operational Into 2060s

Apache-attack-helicopters-AP-Purchased Popular Mechanics reports Boeing is “looking for ways to keep” its AH-64 Apache attack helicopter operational “well into the mid-21st century.” Boeing will soon be building more than 100 Apaches annually for global customers and is “mapping out upgrades to keep the helicopter a key weapons system for decades to come.” Likely planned upgrades include “the Army’s Improved Turbine Engine, which would increase the Apache’s horsepower to a total of 6,000 shaft horsepower,” as well as a “fully digital cockpit...voice recognition technology and other interface improvements.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©) 
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30 May 2018
Two US F-15 Fighters Narrowly Avoid Collision With British Police UAV

F-15-UASFThe Daily Mail (UK) reports that a British police UAV operator had to steer his unmanned aircraft “away from the path of an F-15 fighter jet travelling at nearly 520mph.” The Devon and Cornwall officer “was convinced there would be a collision” when the fighter “came into view and then banked right above Throwleigh, Devon” on January 16. Britain’s Airporx Board looks into near-miss incidents, and “reported the 13lbs device was flying at an altitude of around 300ft when the pilot heard a fast jet approaching.” According to the report, the officer “descended the drone as quickly as possible.” The pilot and his weapons systems operator “did not see the black drone which had four rotor arms and LED lights.” The police officer told investigators that he had followed “a stringent set of procedures” before flying the DJI Matrice UAV. The report suggests that police operators could make use of the “Centralised Aviation Data System (CADS) which provides real time information about military and other flights.” (Image: McDonnell Douglas F-15C-35-MC Eagle. Credit: USAF | Wikipedia)
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30 May 2018
SpaceX May Delay Launch Until Friday Morning

Falcon-Heavy-APThe Orlando (FL) Sentinel reports that this week’s SpaceX Falcon 9 launch attempt “could happen just after midnight in the wee hours of Friday morning, from 12:29 a.m. to 2:57 a.m.” SpaceX has not officially announced its launch window, but the preliminary times were drawn from the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. Weather conditions “could be a problem, according to the Air Force, with possible thick cloud layers preventing the launch.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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29 May 2018
US Army Seeks Industry Help For Manned-Unmanned Teaming

General-Atomics-MQ-1C-Gray-Eagle Aviation Today reported that as part of a “new spirit of outreach to industry,” the US Army “wants to know what the private sector can do to better team drones with manned aircraft.” Manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) has been a recent “focus” for the Army, which is working to determine what “products, research, operational concepts and mission support exists that could enhance existing manned-unmanned teaming concepts” as part of a May 17 notice issued by the service. An existing $97 million L3 Technologies contract to “bolster the teaming of Apaches with the Shadow and General Atomics’ MQ-1C Gray Eagle” is cited as part of this trend. The aircraft are working toward a “level of interoperability (LOI) of 5,” where the manned aircraft maintains “full control” of the unmanned aircraft “from takeoff to landing.” Airbus Helicopters successfully completed teaming tests of its H-145M helicopter and a Schiebel S-100 UAV in April. The Airbus tests were the “first MUM-T test for European helicopters to demonstrate LOI 5.” (Image Credit: US Army | Wikipedia)
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29 May 2018
Lockheed: F-35 One Of Pentagon’s “Most Cyber Tested Weapons Systems”

F-35-Lightnight-II-Wikipedia The Press Association (UK) reports that according to Lockheed Martin F-35 International Business Development Director Steve Over, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is likely one of the “most cyber tested weapons systems that exists in US Department of Defence inventory.” According to Over, the aircraft has “passed every cyber test that has been applied against the F-35,” but added that Lockheed and its customers cannot “afford to be complacent.” When asked whether the F-35 can carry out electronic attacks, Over stated, “I know of nothing there we can talk about.” (Image Credit: US Air Force Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen | Wikipedia)
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25 May 2018
Smallsats Drive “Disruption” In Propulsion Technology

NanoSat-NASA Space News reports that according to a panel at the Space Tech Expo, small satellites have spurred technological advances that have “opened up a wide range of propulsion options for satellites.” Executives for several propulsion startups believe that the “demands for propulsion that can meet mass, volume and power constraints of small satellites were helping drive innovation in this field.” Enpulsion CEO Alexander Resissner, whose company is working on smallsat-sized electric propulsion systems, cited a “reasonably large disruption in the propulsion community,” while Additive Rocket Corporation CEO Andy Kieatiwong believes his company can “squeeze out more thrust and eliminate weight from cold-gas thrusters and monopropellant thrusters to such an extent that we can make them viable for cubesats and small satellites.” Neumann Space Director and Chief Scientist Patrick Neumann announced that his company is “in the process” of moving from a “laboratory prototype to engineering models” of an electric propulsion system that can use solid materials in an arc thruster. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


25 May 2018
Jet Engine Demand Fuels Rise In Cobalt Prices

FanBladeRepair-AeroAmerica Reuters reports that a “shrinking supply” of cobalt as well as “robust demand from traditional sectors such as jet engine makers are helping fuel a price rally that shows no signs of fading.” Cobalt is used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries as well as “superalloys, valued for their resistance to high temperatures and corrosion” in products including such as jet engines. Although cobalt output is falling, prices have reached 10-year highs above $44 per pound due to supply chain disruptions and continued demand. CRU forecasts cobalt production “at 35,500 tonnes this year, but expects 8,000 tonnes of that to be diverted to chemicals, leaving supply at 27,500 tonnes and a deficit of 5,000 tonnes.” Sources in the cobalt industry sources suggest that shortages “have been exacerbated by a lack of good quality superalloy scrap or revert.” The alloys are used by engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, and the GE-Safran joint venture CFM International. (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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24 May 2018
Reusable Launchers See “Growing Acceptance” In Market

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOrigin Space News reports that both SpaceX and its competitors are “seeing a growing acceptance of reusable vehicles in the overall market.” SpaceX Senior Director for Government Business Development Josh Brost, speaking at the Space Tech Expo conference, stated that SpaceX is working with “other government entities” about using previously flown boosters, which likely includes the US Air Force. SpaceX has flown 12 missions using refurbished first-stage boosters, many for commercial customers “enticed at least in part by the modest discounts SpaceX has offered.” Brost anticipates that once Block V rockets achieve a 10-flight goal without requiring significant maintenance, more government and commercial customers will be willing to fly on the rockets. Blue Origin New Glenn Commercial Sales Director Ariane Cornell described reusability as “central to our design and our philosophy from the very beginning.” (Image Credit: Blue Origin)
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24 May 2018
Boeing F/A-18E/F Demonstrates “Sensor Fusion” Capability

F18-transonicFlight FlightGlobal reports that as The Boeing Company launches production of the new Block III variant, F/A-18E/F fighters have demonstrated a “sensor fusion capability that combines the data from multiple sensors on both aircraft in near real-time.” While sensor fusion capability is “most often associated” with the F-35, the “F/A-18E/F fleet has been steadily catching up to its stealthy, sister aircraft’s most advanced capabilities.” The Block III upgrade package includes a variety of structural and sensor upgrades, including the ability to “receive and transfer large amounts of sensor data with other Super Hornets and the Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.” Block III also adds a “second-generation infrared search and track (IRST) sensor” and a “Rockwell Collins Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) radio and an advanced processor.” These upgrades allow two or more fighters to share IRST data, according to Boeing F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Programs Business Development Manager Bob Kornegay. (Image: F/A-18F Super Hornet in transonic flight. Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)
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23 May 2018
SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Successfully Deploys Iridium, NASA Satellites

SpaceX-Falcon-9-Launch-from-Vandenberg-AerospaceAmerica Aerospace America reports that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California deployed a pair of “NASA climate-change satellites into polar orbit on its way to deploying the next tranche of Iridium NEXT satellites” for the company’s “airline tracking service through a joint venture among Aireon, Nav Canada and other navigation services.” The Falcon 9’s first stage was repurposed from a January mission carrying the classified US Zuma payload, but the first stage was not recovered a second time. NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on (GRACE-FO) satellites, developed with the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, successfully deployed 11 minutes after launch. GRACE-FO will “track the impacts of climate change” on terrain features such as “underground aquifers and ice-covered land masses.” Iridium’s satellites were released “over a span of seven minutes about an hour and five minutes after liftoff,” bringing the total of Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit to 55. Iridum plans 75 total Iridium NEXT satellite. (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
FulL Story (Aerospace America, By Amanda Miller and Tom Risen)


23 May 2018
FAA Working On New Supersonic Aircraft Noise Certification

BAConcorde_Wiki Bloomberg News reports that the FAA is crafting new regulations “to accommodate noise certification of new supersonic aircraft,” according to an FAA post on the White House website. The only US noise standards in effect apply to the Concorde. The FAA also is developing a “second new rule that will allow easier approvals for supersonic-flight testing, the agency said in a statement.” The initiation of the agency’s “new rules was listed in the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ spring agenda of government planned actions.” A formal proposal is expected by December. (Image Credit: Eduard Marmet | Wikipedia)
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23 May 2018
US Air Force To Study Upgraded Falcon 9, Delay GPS III Launch

Falcon-HEAVY-SpaceX-AP-Purchased Bloomberg News reports that the US Air Force has delayed the launch of its “first Global Positioning System III satellite from this month to October at the earliest as it reviews” the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. In a statement, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center explained that the planned launch “has slipped due to ongoing SpaceX qualification testing and final engineering reviews by both SpaceX and the Air Force of Falcon 9 design changes.” The service is “working closely” with SpaceX, and plans to issue a “Flight Worthiness Certification just prior to launch.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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22 May 2018
Boeing-Backed Startup To Deliver First Hybrid-Electric Plane To JetSuite In 2022

Zunum-hybrid-electric-plane-concept-Credit-Zunum Bloomberg News reports that Boeing-backed startup Zunum Aero will deliver its first hybrid-electric plane in 2022 to JetSuite, a small charter airline. JetBlue Airways has also invested in Zunum and JetSuite. The new aircraft will be powered by “twin propulsors attached to the rear of its frame” using electric motors, while a conventional fuel-powered motor will serve as a back-up system. Battery packs will be housed in the aircraft’s wings. Airbus, the US military, and NASA are also pursuing similar concepts. (Image Credit: Zunum Aero)
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22 May 2018
NASA Requests Proposals For Europa Lander Instruments

Europa-Lander-NASA SPACE reports that NASA “has asked scientists to submit their ideas for instruments” on the agency’s Europa Lander. According to a tweet by NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA is accepting submissions through August 24. In contrast to the agency’s Europa Clipper mission, the Europa lander “is on less solid ground; it’s a concept at this point, not an officially approved mission.” According to a NASA “solicitation, the lander’s entire scientific payload would have a maximum mass of 73 lbs,” and would be expected to operate on Europa’s surface for 20 days. Any instruments for the lander “must be at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 by the end of 2022.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 May 2018
US Air Force Planning For Future F-35 “Fleet Management Office

F-16-and-F-35-Luke-AFB-USAF Aviation Today reports that the US Air Force is exploring “how it will oversee its share of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program” in light of the US military’s recently announced decision to shift more control of the fighter to the individual military branches. According to Air Force Materiel Command Commander Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the Air Force is in the “early stages” of planning for a new F-35 “fleet management office.” Pawlikowski added that the Air Force is working to “make sure that we do this seamlessly.” (Image: F-16 Fighting Falcon escorts Luke Air Force Base's first F-35 Lightning II, March 10, 2014. Credit: USAF)
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21 May 2018
FAA Approves Boeing 777 Folding Wingtips

Boeing-777-Folded-Wingtip-Credit-Boeing Reuters reported that on Friday the FAA approved a foldable wingtip design for The Boeing Company’s 777 jets. The design, which “will be incorporated in the world’s largest commercial planemaker’s Model 777-8 and 777-9s models, would allow the bigger wings to fit into the standard-sized airport parking space.” The wingtips will reduce the wingspan from 235 feet to 212 feet. Bloomberg News reported that the carbon-fiber wings are “the largest ever created” by Boeing, and “will be the most distinctive-feature for the hulking jets, the first twin-engine models built to haul more than 400 travelers.” The 777X will be the “only commercial jet in widespread use with such a hinged design.” FAA approval for the 777X’s full wings has been delayed, according to Boeing Program Chief Kevin Bartelson, because building structural ribs for the wings “has taken longer than expected up front.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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21 May 2018
Cygnus Spacecraft Successfully Launches Aboard Antares Early Monday

Antares-Launch-May-2018-NASA NASA reports that a Cygnus spacecraft successfully launched early Monday aboard an Antares 230 rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Orbital ATK’s ninth cargo mission as part as NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. Launch occurred at 4:43 a.m. EDT Monday. Astronauts Scott Tingle and Ricky Arnold will capture Cygnus with the space station’s robotic arm when it arrives on Thursday, May 24. Cygnus is carrying about 7,400 pounds of supplies, cargo and research equipment. (Image Credit: NASA
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18 May 2018
FAA Orders Faster Inspection Of Boeing 737 Engines

Boeing737Max USA Today reports that the FAA ordered faster inspections of Boeing 737 aircraft engines Wednesday in order to “ensure that the oldest fan blades in about 5,400 engines are inspected by June 30.” In a statement, the FAA said that it is “acting to ensure an extra measure of safety for fan blade performance in CFM56 engines.” This follows a fatal accident aboard an April Southwest Airlines flight linked to one of the engines. The FAA order conforms to a CFM International directive published last week calling for airlines to “hasten inspections for engines with more than 20,000 flights.” In a statement, GE Aviation said that more than 77,000 engine fan blades have been inspected following the incident. Each engine has 24 blades, meaning that “about 3,200 engines or more than 1,600 planes have been inspected.” The FAA has estimated that around 3,716 engines needed to be inspected on US aircraft, but globally “330,000 blades on 13,750 planes will be inspected, according to the manufacturer.” The inspections are estimated to cost US airlines a total of $631,720. (Image: Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-800. Credit: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland; N3747D@LAX;10.10.2011/622in, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)
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18 May 2018
SpaceX Sets Targets For Next Falcon 9 Launches

Falcon-Heavy-AP Spaceflight Now reports that SpaceX has delayed the launch of five Iridium “message relay satellites and a pair of U.S.-German orbiting geophysics probes” on a Falcon 9 rocket from California by three days to May 22, while a “week-long schedule slip to May 31 is expected for the next SpaceX flight from Cape Canaveral with an SES communications payload.” According to Iridium CEO Matt Desch, the delay for the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base will allow SpaceX to resolve an issue with the Falcon 9’s preparation. Desch called the problem a “minor processing issue” with a Falcon 9 component, adding that it is “not a big deal.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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17 May 2018
Airlines Increasingly Turn To Smaller Jets For Transatlantic Flights

Boeing737MaxThe Wall Street Journal reports that airlines are increasingly using smaller jets such as the Boeing 737 Max for transatlantic flights, providing the airlines with additional scheduling flexibility. JetBlue is considering adding European flights with its Airbus A321neo. This will also provide smaller airlines the opportunity to break into the long-haul market, 75 percent of which is dominated by members of Delta, United, and American’s global airline alliances. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Wall Street Journal, Subscription Publication)


17 May 2018
Advisory Committee Calls On NASA To Develop Plans For Reduced ISS Crew

International-Space-Station-NASA Space News reports that a NASA advisory committee, concerned about “delays in the development of commercial crew systems,” wants the agency to consider operating the ISS with a reduced crew. At the ISS Advisory Committee’s May 14 meeting, Chairman Thomas Stafford argued that NASA should consider training Russian cosmonauts on key systems for the US Operating Segment (USOS) section of the ISS “in the event extended commercial crew development delays reduce the size of the station’s crew.” According to Stafford, the commercial crew vehicles have experienced “delays after delays in the development, flight test and qualification milestones in commercial crew, and therefore we believe the current schedule is optimistic.” As a result, Stafford called for NASA to “pursue plans to protect for a minimum crew capability to ensure ISS viability during the flight development phase,” adding that the agency’s “biggest priority is maintaining the US presence on the ISS in case the commercial crew launch dates slip. (Image Credit: NASA)
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16 May 2018
Affordable UAVs And Cheaper Airborne Data Spur Competition

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased Bloomberg News reports that with plummeting prices of commercial “airborne data” and the availability of low-cost UAVs, there is growing competition among companies to maximize their profits while still offering affordable services to customers. Companies including General Electric, Intel, Verizon, and new startups like PrecisionHawk and Airware are trying to gain an edge by using new technologies but are being “throttled by slowly evolving regulations to keep the skies safe.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit:Associated Press–©)
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16 May 2018
New Evidence Of Water Plumes Make Europa “Prime Candidate For Life”

Jupiter-Europa-Galileo-spacecraft-NASA Reuters reports that a “new look at old data” has made Jupiter’s moon Europa a “leading candidate in the search for life beyond Earth, with evidence of water plumes shooting into space.” A “bend in Europa’s magnetic field” observed by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in 1997 appears to have been “caused by a geyser gushing through its frozen crust from a subsurface ocean, researchers who reexamined the Galileo data reported on Monday.” According to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Planetary Scientist Elizabeth Tuttle, “Europa has a lot of the ingredients necessary for life,” and the potential “habitability of Europa is one of the big questions that we want to understand.” The plumes are especially promising because they mean “there may be ways that the material from the ocean – which is likely the most habitable part of Europa,” may be able to be sampled. Europa’s ocean is warmer than the rest of the planet and is protected from radiation by an ice shell. (Image Credit: NASA)
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15 May 2018
Experts Consider Potential For First “Space Trillionaire”

Ted-Cruz-AeroAmerica-May2018 Aerospace America reported on discussions at last week’s Humans to Mars Summit in Washington, DC centered on space entrepreneurship. During the event, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “I believe the first trillionaire will be made in space.” While attendees and presenters “seemed optimistic about growth” of the space industry, some were “less sure about Cruz’s trillionaire prediction.” Star Century Partners founding partner Rick Tumlinson estimated that initial Mars exploration efforts will not be overly profitable due to the planet’s distance from Earth. Low gravity manufacturing, Tumlinson pointed out, could be carried out on the lunar surface or a space station much closer to Earth. He also said, “As far as I’ve seen there is no business plan that (addresses) being able to go to Mars and do something of financial value.” Explore Mars co-founder Chris Carberry sees the “immediate incentive to visit Mars” as exploration versus profit, and suggests that “we don’t quite see what the market would be for Mars, but it’s the inspirational driver, the science driver, the future-of-humanity driver.” Still, Carberry believes that there “will be a space trillionaire, it’s just a matter of whether someone gets there first making money the traditional way on Earth.” (Image: Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas speaks at the Human to Mars Summit 8 May in Washington, D.C. Credit: Aerospace America)
Full Story (Aerospace America, by Tom Risen)


15 May 2018
FAA Administrator Speaks At Uber Elevate Summit

Flying-taxi-network-NASA Wired reported that FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell spoke at Uber’s annual Elevate Summit in Los Angeles, where the ride-sharing company presented its vision of future intra-urban drone transportation networks, or “flying taxis.” Among the “nearly 1,000 attendees” from various organizations and institutions, the FAA was “unlike the other participants, who were all gung-ho about the possibility of launching passenger-stuffed drones off the top of tall buildings.” Instead, the FAA “stressed that compared to smaller drones, the path to regulating human flight is likely to be different, harder, and longer.” Elwell said the agency will focus on safety in regulating the transport of humans via electric VTOL aircraft proposed by Uber. Elwell stated, “You have more commitment, top to bottom,” at the federal agencies “to bring these technologies to viable life than I’ve ever seen.” (Image Credit: NASA/Lillian Gipson)
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11 May 2018
Coast Guard Issues RFP For UAV Technology

USCG-UAV-1-AP-Purchased FlightGlobal reports that the US Coast Guard issued a request for proposals for “long-range, ultra-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions” in US coastal regions “highly trafficked by illegal drug and migrant smugglers.” The areas include the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and eastern Pacific Ocean. The aircraft must be land-based and able to fly for more than 24 hours with a “service ceiling of 15,000ft above sea level, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s RFP.” The UAVs should also include maritime payloads “such as an electro-optical and infrared full motion video system, a maritime surveillance radar, a radio frequency and direction finding sensor, and a tactical communications radio and data link.” Responses are due to the Coast Guard by June 5. (Image: Technicians prepare the ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle prior to take off from the deck of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Stratton somewhere in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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11 May 2018
NASA Plans To Reassign Employees From Canceled Lunar Rover

Mars-Rover-NASA The Houston Chronicle reports that NASA leadership plans to “reassign all 90 employees” working on the agency’s canceled lunar rover to “other opportunities within the agency” when work on the project ends this month. The $250 million Resource Prospector was canceled April 23, the “same day Jim Bridenstine was sworn in as NASA’s new administrator.” The cancellation stunned “scientists and researchers alike.” Most of the work for the rover was being conducted at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Earlier this month, NASA determined that “Resource Prospector no longer suited its exploration campaign.” If an independent review of the cancellation “confirms NASA’s decision, the rover will be scrapped for parts.” The review is expected to conclude “at the end of the month, but the agency appears to already be looking for new rover ideas.” (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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10 May 2018
Bridenstine Pledges Exploration Of “Moon And Mars In Tandem”

Jim-Bridenstine-H2M2018-Aero-America Aerospace America reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine addressed attendees at the Human to Mars Summit at George Washington University, stating the agency’s intent to explore “both the moon and Mars in tandem,” rather than focusing exclusively on lunar missions as the Trump administration has suggested. Bridenstine explained that landing humans on the moon’s surface will help the agency develop and prove technologies that “feed forward to Mars,” such as precision landing, life support systems, and methane engines. While he emphasized the need for industry to build spacecraft for NASA, Bridenstine also argued that the country needs a “government backbone to explore where an economy doesn’t yet exist.” According to NASA Human Mars Study team leader John Connolly, NASA funding for a manned lander intended for lunar missions begins in 2024, and that the lander will be built “sometime after that.” (Image Credit: Aerosspace America)
Full Story (Aerospace America | By Tom Risen)


10 May 2018
DOT Selects Ten Sites For UAV Integration Pilot Program

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-APThe AP reports that Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced Wednesday that 10 sites have been selected for a “test program aimed at increasing the use of unmanned aircraft for projects that range from monitoring crops and oil pipelines in North Dakota to applying mosquito-killing treatments in Florida and package deliveries in Tennessee.” In a statement, Chao explained that data from the pilot projects “will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace.” Around 150 applications were received. Selected sites include “the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; the cities of San Diego, California, and Reno, Nevada; state transportation departments in North Dakota, North Carolina and Kansas; University of Alaska-Fairbanks; the Center for Innovative Technology in Virginia; Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority in Memphis, Tennessee; and the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Fort Meyers, Florida.” According to Transportation Department lawyer Steven Bradbury, UAVs have caused some “apprehension” among the public, but the initiative will work to increase “community awareness and acceptance” of unmanned aircraft. Bradbury added that there is no direct federal funding for the pilot program. (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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9 May 2018
NASA’s ICON Spacecraft Has Arrived At Vandenberg

ICON-NASA Bloomberg News reports that Uber announced plans Tuesday to partner with NASA to develop vertical takeoff and landing vehicles that will serve as taxis within cities. Uber made the announcement at its Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles, and set a goal to begin testing in 2020, with commercial service beginning in 2023. (Image Credit: NASA/Lillian Gipson)
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9 May 2018
Uber Announces Plan To Work With NASA On Flying Taxi Service

Bell-Urban-Air-Taxi-Concept-AP-Purchased Bloomberg News reports that Uber announced plans Tuesday to partner with NASA to develop vertical takeoff and landing vehicles that will serve as taxis within cities. Uber made the announcement at its Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles, and set a goal to begin testing in 2020, with commercial service beginning in 2023. (Image Credit: NASA/Lillian Gipson)
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8 May 2018
US Airlines Posted “Second-Most Profitable Year Ever” In 2017

Delta-and-Alaska-Airlines-AP-Purchased USA Today reports that 2017 was the second-most profitable year ever for US airlines, which brought in “nearly $15.5 billion, the Transportation Department announced Monday.” Combined after-tax net profit at 23 airlines “improved from the $14 billion in 2016, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).” Fees for checked bags and changed flights contributed 4.6 percent to the total, but while checked bag fees rose almost 6 percent, change fees dropped by 1.7 percent. Fuel cost the airlines a combined $26.2 billion, “up more than 16% from 2016 and accounting for 17% of expenses last year, according to the bureau.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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8 May 2018
SpaceX Confirms Thursday Launch Date For Falcon 9 Block 5

Falcon-Heavy-AP Spaceflight Now reports that SpaceX confirmed a Thursday launch date for its upgraded “Block 5” Falcon 9 rocket in a tweet Monday. Launch crews successfully completed a test fire of the rocket Friday at Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A. Florida Today reports that SpaceX will have more than two hours to launch the rocket “with Bangladesh’s first geostationary communications satellite.” SpaceX reviewed data from Friday’s test fire, “which the company said went according to plan.” The Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron issued a forecast Monday estimating 80 percent favorable conditions for a launch attempt Thursday. Friday will see 70 percent “go” conditions. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©) 
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7 May 2018
SpaceX’s Reused Dragon Cargo Carrier Splashes Down In Pacific Ocean

Dragon-Splashed-Down-NASA Spaceflight Now reported that on Saturday, “an automated SpaceX supply ship parachuted into the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, bringing more than 3,800 pounds of cargo – including a NASA robot requiring repair – back to Earth after a month-long mission at the International Space Station.” The Dragon cargo capsule splashed into the Pacific about 400 miles to the southwest of Long Beach, California, “where a SpaceX recovery team was in position to retrieve the spacecraft, pull it onto a boat, and return it to the Port of Los Angeles.” This “successful splashdown Saturday marked the conclusion of SpaceX’s 14th resupply mission to the space station under the space transport company’s more than $3 billion, 20-launch cargo contract with NASA,” and marked “the third round-trip cargo flight with a reused Dragon capsule.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 May 2018
Technicians To Complete Tests Of Jet Engine Fan Blades Following Southwest Engine Incident

FanBladeRepair-AeroAmerica Aerospace America reported that on Thursday, the NTSB said investigators examining the Southwest Airlines Boing 737-700 which experienced a broken engine blade last month have found “six crack lines from metal fatigue in pieces of the blade discovered inside the CFM56-7B engine built by CFM International, the joint venture of Safran Aircraft Engines and GE Aviation.” The news comes as “aircraft technicians are in the process of sending ultrasonic waves through the fan blades of thousands of jet engines to check for metal fatigue.” The FAA and CFM have issued instructions for completing the jet engine blade tests that state that during the tests, “engines will be kept on the wings,” and technicians “must remove and clean the 24 titanium fan blades from each engine.” The investigators will examine blades “for cracks or flaws with their eyes before covering the blades with glycerin, a gel, that transmits the sound from an ultrasound probe to the surface of the blade.” If any irregularities are found on an engine fan blade, “such as a microscopic crack, this shows up on a handheld display as a peak in amplitude of the signal that echoed from the crack.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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4 May 2018
InSight Launch Will Be NASA’s “First Interplanetary Launch” From West Coast

InSight-Mission-Prepares-for-Launch-NASAThe Washington Post reports that NASA’s InSight spacecraft is “slated to launch early Saturday morning, carrying instruments to take the temperature and pulse of the Red Planet’s deep interior.” The probe will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in “NASA’s first interplanetary launch from the West Coast.” The mission aims to help scientists understand how the interior of Mars was formed. According to InSight Deputy Principal Investigator Suzanne Smrekar, Earth’s “initial crust is essentially gone, it’s all been recycled,” meaning that Mars will give scientists an “opportunity to see the materials, the structure, the chemical reactions that are close to what we see in the interior of Earth, but it’s preserved from the first 10 million years [of the solar system]. It gives us a chance to go back in time.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 May 2018
Boeing’s Insitu Debuts ScanEagle3 UAV

Insitu-ScanEagle-Wiki FlightGlobal reports that Boeing subsidiary Insitu debuted its ScanEagle3 UAV at the “annual AUVSI gathering.” Boeing is promoting the UAV as a “primarily commercial product that is free of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations that govern its other aircraft, such as the ScanEagle2 and Integrator.” According to Insitu Commercial Vice President Mark Bauman, this “enables us as, a commercial business, to access the global market more easily.” Insitu believes that the ScanEagle3 could be popular with foreign militaries, “but is focused first on marketing the drone commercially, Bauman adds.” The UAV can carry up to 20lbs, more than twice that of the ScanEagle, “and up to three payloads simultaneously, which Insitu says enables it to collect and analyse more data in a single flight.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikipedia)
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3 May 2018
Aerospace Suppliers Exploring Blockchain Technology For Supply Chain, Parts Tracking

Airbus-Assembly-Line-AP-Purchased Reuters reports that aerospace suppliers are beginning to explore the use of blockchain technology as a way to “keep tabs on their supply chain, potentially tracking parts such as those identified as the cause of a Southwest Airlines accident last month.” Blockchain technology is best-known as the “digital transactions technology that underpins cryptocurrency,” but can also be used to “track, record and transfer assets across all manner of industries, potentially smoothing operations, cutting costs and improving cash management.” The aerospace industry’s need to potentially keep track of “tens of thousands of different parts came to light when it emerged after last month’s fatal explosion that some airlines do not keep track of the history of each individual fan blade within an engine.” More efficient parts management could also potentially “speed up safety checks after an accident.” Airbus is hiring a “blockchain solution architect,” and has formed a working group to “identify business challenges worth addressing with blockchain,” potentially within its supply chain. According to an Airbus spokeswoman, blockchain could “improve the tracking of goods and become a complement to, not a wholesale replacement of, suppliers’ procurement software.” (Image Credit: Associated Press-©)
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3 May 2018
NASA, SpaceX Delay Dragon Capsule’s Return Due To Rough Seas

Dragon-Following-Splashdown-Credit-NASA SPACE reports that NASA and SpaceX have postponed the “return to Earth of the CRS-14 Dragon cargo ship” from the ISS until Saturday due to “rough seas at its splashdown zone.” According to NASA spokesperson Gary Jordan, mission managers wanted to avoid unnecessary risk to scientific experiments and equipment aboard the Dragon. Jordan stated, “It’s really the weather,” and that SpaceX and NASA “were looking at sea states and waves.” The Dragon capsule will return more than 4,000 pounds of “cargo, science experiment samples and technology demonstration gear.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 May 2018
National Space Council Studying Measures To Safeguard Satellite Spectrum

Satellite-Spectrum-NASA Space News reports that the National Space Council (NSC) is studying better coordination of the radiofrequency spectrum to “protect satellite communications from terrestrial interference, the council’s executive secretary said April 30.” Speaking at the Hudson Institute, NSC Executive Director Scott Pace called for setting aside parts of the spectrum for satellite services in order to protect it from interference from terrestrial 5G services. According to Pace, the US “needs to continue open and promote competitive markets and protect spectrum allocation for space services to compete.” Pace anticipates potential issues from neighboring countries using parts of the spectrum in ways that “would harm the global economy,” arguing that a “global approach is necessary to protect US space commerce.” Proposals to allow some terrestrial use of the satellite spectrum are “likely to come up at the next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in 2019.” For these reasons, Pace explained, the National Space Council is “examining how the Department of State, Commerce and the FCC can better coordinate to ensure the protection and stewardship of spectrum necessary for space commerce.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 May 2018
Intel Plans Expansion Of Its UAV Program To Industrial, Farming, Construction Sectors

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_AP Bloomberg News reports that although Intel UAVs played “starring roles at the 2018 Winter Olympics, the music and arts festival Coachella and danced above the Bellagio Hotel’s fountains in Las Vega,” the company anticipates that new software for “more utilitarian unmanned aerial vehicles may play a more lasting role in its attempts to spread the reach of its chips.” Intel’s Falcon 8+ aircraft is designed for “less-glamorous roles at oil refineries, over farmers’ fields and on building sites,” and is equipped with software allowing businesses to “map out pre-planned flights using simple overlays on satellite imagery.” Intel also plans to “unveil a new suite of software that would enable drone-gathered data to be stored, processed and used by a whole range of industries.” Intel is also working on software that will “allow data generated by Intel’s drone to be rapidly processed into usable reports and three-dimensional models.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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1 May 2018
Gulfstream To Build $55 Million Service Center In Savannah

Gulfstream-G500-Savannah-GA-HDQTRS-AP-Purchased Aviation Today reports that Gulfstream Aerospace plans to build a $55 million, 202,000-square-foot service center at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia. The new service center is expected to create 200 jobs when it opens in the second quarter of 2019, and will “complement the main Gulfstream Savannah Service Center, the world’s largest purpose-built business jet maintenance facility.” According to Gulfstream President Mark Burns, the “expansion of our customer service and support organization is the result of the strong and steady fleet growth” as well as the debut of the Gulfstream G500 and G600. The site – as well as new facilities in Appleton, Wisconsin and Van Nuys, California – Burns said, will keep the company “well-positioned for support, maintenance and refurbishment of the Gulfstream fleet.” Burns added that Savannah Technical College’s aviation program played a large role in the expansion. (Image: Gulfstream G500, unveiled 14 October 2014 at Gulfstream's Savannah, GA headquarters. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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1 May 2018
NASA Mars Rover’s Heat Shield Cracks During Test

MarsRover2020-ArtistsImpression-NASA SPACE reports that the heat shield for NASA’s Mars rover suffered a “fracture during testing recently, but the incident won’t change the mission’s launch date, agency officials said.” The rover is part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission to search for signs of microbial life and “characterize potentially habitable environments.” Structural damage to the shield’s outer edge occurred during a weeklong test at Lockheed Martin Space’s Denver facility, according to a NASA statement. The Mars 2020 team discovered the fracture April 12. The test was intended to “subject the heat shield to forces about 20 percent greater than those it will experience when it hits the Martian atmosphere for entry, descent and landing operations.” NASA officials said that the heat shield will be repaired so that prelaunch testing can continue. The Mars 2020 mission team will “develop a new heat shield structure over the next year.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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30 April 2018
Orbital ATK Targets Late May For Antares, Cygnus ISS Resupply Mission

Antares-set-for-launch-2017-NASA Florida Today reported that Orbital ATK is targeting “late May for the next launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on a mission to resupply the International Space Station.” Orbital ATK launch teams will have a five-minute window on May 20 to launch the rocket and a Cygnus spacecraft from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. According to Orbital ATK, initial cargo has already been loaded onto Cygnus, and the spacecraft is ready for fueling. The mission will be Orbital ATK’s ninth for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. (Image: Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, on launch Pad-0A, 10 Nov. 2017 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
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30 April 2018
SpaceX ISS Resupply Mission Set For Splashdown Wednesday

boeing-engine-2-Aero-America Florida Today reported that a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral earlier this month on a resupply mission to the ISS is due to splash “down in the Pacific Ocean” this Wednesday “off the coast of Baja, California with return cargo and science experiments.” Dragon is the only spacecraft “currently in operation that can return large amounts of cargo from space.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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27 April 2018
Shotwell: SpaceX’s $10 Billion Starlink Constellation Will “Change The World”

Falcon-Heavy-AP Florida Today reports that SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell estimated at a recent TED Talk that the company’s Starlink satellite internet constellation will cost at least $10 billion to deploy and will “change the world.” SpaceX plans to launch thousands of small satellites to low-Earth orbit which will “beam internet connectivity back down, bypassing the need for complicated ground-based infrastructure.” According to Shotwell, Starlink is “probably one of the most challenging – if not the most challenging – projects we’ve undertaken.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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27 April 2018
NASA Paying “More Money For Less Cargo” In New Commercial Contracts

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA Space News reports that according to a report released Thursday by NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), the agency is paying more money for less cargo delivered to the ISS as part of commercial cargo contracts issued in 2016. The OIG report also “flagged a number of issues with all three companies that received Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 contracts, from one company’s reliance on a single, unproven spacecraft to use of foreign hardware by another.” Under CRS contracts awarded in 2008, Orbital ATK and SpaceX are to deliver an “estimated 93,800 kilograms of cargo to the ISS over 31 missions for a total cost of $5.93 billion,” but under the CRS-2 contracts the companies and Sierra Nevada Corporation would transport 87,000 kilograms at a 14 percent higher cost per kilogram. Using three companies, “OIG said, increases overall integration costs, but reduces the opportunities for volume discounts by spreading missions across three providers.” Citing $700 million in integration costs, OIG added that NASA missed an opportunity to take advantage of overlaps in technical requirements for SpaceX Dragon 2 cargo missions as well as crewed missions funded under a separate contract. The OIG report also cited risk related to Orbital ATK’s reliance on Russian-built RD-181 engines and the development of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft. (Image: United Launch Alliance Atlas V launches Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft to the ISS. Credit: NASA)
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27 April 2018
Congress Considers Future Of FAA’s Clean Aviation Program

boeing-engine-2-Aero-America Reuters reports that The Boeing Company’s profits “surged past Wall Street estimates in the first quarter” amid “booming demand” for commercial jets, causing the company to raise its “forecasts for cash flow and earnings in what promises to be another record year.” Referencing concerns expressed by Caterpillar about rising steel and aluminum costs, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stated that Boeing is “not seeing anything there (in costs) that’s a material effect right now.” In response to Airbus’ decision to increase production of the A320 jet, Muilenburg indicated that Boeing faced pressure to increase 737 production, but stated that Boeing would be “disciplined” in its production decisions. Boeing has not made a decision regarding its “potential new mid-sized jet, adding that it was taking [a] hard look at the business case.” According to Muilenburg, Boeing sees “that airplane, if we decide to launch, as a 2025 time frame airplane in terms of entry into service.” The development of Boeing’s 777X aircraft is on track for 2020 delivery, and 787 Dreamliner costs are falling, a trend that Muilenburg “expects to remain going forward.” (Image: United Airlines Boeing 777. CC BY-SA 2.0Wikipedia)
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26 April 2018
Commercial Jet Demand Boosts Boeing’s Profits

Boeing777-UA-Wiki Reuters reports that The Boeing Company’s profits “surged past Wall Street estimates in the first quarter” amid “booming demand” for commercial jets, causing the company to raise its “forecasts for cash flow and earnings in what promises to be another record year.” Referencing concerns expressed by Caterpillar about rising steel and aluminum costs, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stated that Boeing is “not seeing anything there (in costs) that’s a material effect right now.” In response to Airbus’ decision to increase production of the A320 jet, Muilenburg indicated that Boeing faced pressure to increase 737 production, but stated that Boeing would be “disciplined” in its production decisions. Boeing has not made a decision regarding its “potential new mid-sized jet, adding that it was taking [a] hard look at the business case.” According to Muilenburg, Boeing sees “that airplane, if we decide to launch, as a 2025 time frame airplane in terms of entry into service.” The development of Boeing’s 777X aircraft is on track for 2020 delivery, and 787 Dreamliner costs are falling, a trend that Muilenburg “expects to remain going forward.” (Image: United Airlines Boeing 777. CC BY-SA 2.0Wikipedia)
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26 April 2018
Federal Grant Aids Arizona DOT’s UAV Program

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe Apache Junction Independent reports that the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is adding eight UAVs to “help its engineering staff safely and more efficiently inspect hard-to-reach areas on some bridges and perform surveying work along state highways.” ADOT purchased the UAVs through an Arizona Council for Transportation Innovation program grant. This spring, the Arizona Council for Transportation Innovation “approved the use of $18,100 in federal funds and $4,525 in state matching funds” for the new ADOT UAVs.(Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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25 April 2018
Voom Helicopter Taxi App Plans Growth In Mexico City

Voom-Helicopter-Taxi-Credit-Airbus Reuters reports that Airbus subsidiary Voom, which operates a helicopter booking app, “expects its new Mexico City operations to capitalize on some of the worst traffic in the world to eclipse the growth it has seen in Brazil, the company’s chief executive said.” Voom began operations in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Mexico City is the company’s second market. According to CEO Uma Subramanian, Voom has flown more than 4,000 customers in its first year and expects to surpass that in its first year of operation in Mexico. The company is looking at “entering Buenos Aires, Bogota, Guatemala City and populous Asian capitals next, Subramanian said.” The company also is developing unmanned electric helicopters in order to lower its fares and increase profits. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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25 April 2018
SpaceX To Debut Upgraded Falcon 9 Rocket Next Week

Falcon9-Launch-2Apr2018-AP-Purchased Spaceflight Now reports that SpaceX technicians at Cape Canaveral are readying for the first launch of an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket next week, a mission that will “debut changes to make the launcher” safer for astronauts as well as make it easier and safer for SpaceX to reuse first-stage boosters. The launch of the “European-built Bangabandhu 1 communications satellite for Bangladesh” is currently scheduled for May 4. The upgraded rocket is known as the “Block 5” Falcon 9, and was recently delivered to Florida “after a final full-duration test-firing of its nine Merlin 1D engines on a test stand at SpaceX’s development site in McGregor, Texas.” The Block 5 includes updates to “meet NASA’s human-rating requirements,” and its engines produce more power than previous iterations. (Image: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, FL, Monday, 2 April 2018. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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24 April 2018
Clarkson University Team Wins 2018 AIAA Design/Build/Fly Competition

DBF2018-First-Second-Third-Place-Teams Aerospace America reported that a team from Clarkson University won the 2018 Design/Build/Fly competition in Wichita, Kansas, on Sunday, “besting fellow students from around the United States and world.” The team’s aircraft was one of the lightest radio-controlled planes in the competition, and was made in part from the “takeout container box from a Chinese restaurant.” This year’s challenge was to design a “regional and business aircraft” that would carry one plastic ball “passenger” on one ground mission and three flight missions. The event attracted “720 students from 77 teams in 16 countries, making it the largest [Design/Build/Fly] competition in the event’s 22-year history.” (Image, left to right: Virginia Tech, Clarkson University, Georgia Tech. Credit: AIAA)
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24 April 2018
United Airlines Receives First 737 Max

Boeing737Max FlightGlobal reports that United Airlines has taken delivery of its “first Boeing 737 Max 9, marking the stretched Max variant’s debut at a US carrier.” The aircraft was handed over at Boeing’s Seattle delivery center Monday, and the jet was given a “special swoosh livery” due to the aircraft’s fuel efficiency. The 737 Max 8, which is the “baseline variant for the Max family, is 14% more fuel efficient than the 737-800, according to Boeing.” United plans to use the 737-9 for service at its Houston and Los Angeles hubs in June. United has “firm orders for 60 more 737-9s and 100 737 Max 10s, its fleet plan shows.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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23 April 2018
Honeywell Raises Full-Year Forecast On Strong Aerospace Growth

GulfstreamG550-Wiki Reuters reported that Honeywell posted “higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday and lifted its full-year earnings forecast for the second time this year, citing higher sales in its aerospace business.” The aerospace division benefited from a “rise in global travel as it sold more aircraft parts and services to the commercial airline sector, while also seeing robust demand from defense and business jet customers.” Sales rose by almost 12 percent to $3.98 billion, while margins expanded to 22.5 percent. According to Honeywell CFO Thomas Szlosek, “Growth in both air transport and business aviation was nearly double-digit, driven by robust deliveries on key platforms, including the Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Bombardier Challenger 350.” Honeywell produces engines for Bombardier and Textron business jets, and reported that it has seen signs of market recovery as corporate tax cuts have encouraged spending on business jets. Honeywell, Vertical Research Partners analyst Robert Stallard stated, has a higher share of parts on new business jets, including the Gulfstream G500 and G600, which will further benefit the company if the planes are certified later this year as expected. Honeywell “anticipates continued double-digit growth in its defense business, as rising global defense spending boosts demand for spares, sensors and guidance systems.” (Image Credit: Edwin Leong via Wikipedia)
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23 April 2018
Lockheed: F-35 Program Completes Development Phase

F35_Wikipedia Aviation International News reported that Lockheed Martin Vice President and F-35 Program General Manager Greg Ulmer declared that its F-35 program has completed the “most comprehensive flight-test program in aviation history.” The final flight of the fighter’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase was take from Naval Air Station Patuxent River “on April 11, when F-35C CF-02 collected data on loads that are generated by external carriage of some weapons.” According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the SDD phase cost more than $60 billion. F-35 Program Executive Officer Vice Adm. Mat Winter summarized, “Since the first flight of AA-1 in 2006, the developmental flight-test program has operated for more than 11 years mishap-free, conducting more than 9,200 sorties, accumulating over 17,000 flight hours, and executing more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability, and performance for all three F-35 variants.” The SDD will “not be formally completed” until the Pentagon performs an Operation Test and Evaluation (OT&E) and approves full-rate production of the aircraft. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikimedia Commons)
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20 April 2018
Space Symposium Attendees Comment On Bridenstine

Bridenstine-AeroAmerica Aerospace America interviewed attendees of the Space Symposium about their thoughts on Jim Bridenstine, “whose nomination was mired in controversy in the months since he was named.” Attendees reported that “they were ready to move forward” from the past controversies, chiefly “because of what they see as his strong support for the US industry and space exploration.” Aerospace software provider Analytical Graphics Vice President of Business Development Paul Welsh is “optimistic with his confirmation,” due to Bridenstine’s understanding of the “value of commercial innovation,” while SES Networks Head of Government Product Development Rich Pang cited “very positive” interactions with Bridenstine. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers Managing Director of Strategy Consulting Curt Bigelow, Bridenstine “understands the importance of space,” and Bigelow expects that Bridenstine will “get the funding and everything headed in the right direction.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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20 April 2018
DARPA Selects Dynetics To Develop, Test “Gremlin” Air-Launched UAVs

gremlins-3.pngAerospace America reports that DARPA has selected a team led by Dynetics to develop and test elements of its “proposed concept for dispatching drones from C-130 transport planes” and recovering them using a “tethered capture device that resembles an aerial refueling boom.” The company announced Wednesday that it had won the “next phase of DARPA’s $64 million Gremlin program, beating out rival General Atomics Aeronautical Systems,” which proposed a mechanical arm to move the Gremlins in and out of the C-130’s cargo bay. As part of the team, Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems will “build and test each drone,” while Sierra Nevada will provide the Gremlins’ navigation system, and Williams International of Michigan will provide their turbofan engines. The Dynetics team must demonstrate its “launch and recovery technique” with the UAVs and a C-130 by late 2019, with a goal of retrieving four Gremlins in less than 30 minutes. (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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20 April 2018
Southwest Engine Failure Causes “Rush For Ultrasound Inspections”

sw-flight-1380-engine Aerospace America reports that following a fatality aboard a Southwest Airlines flight caused by the failure of one of the aircraft’s CFM56-7B engines, Southwest will work toward inspecting all similar engines in its fleet within a month. When the FAA sought public comment last year on a proposed rule requiring inspections of the engines’ fan blades, “Southwest Airlines resisted, saying it would need 18 months to schedule and inspect the 732 affected engines in its fleet.” CFM International, a joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines that produces the CFM56-7B engines, announced Wednesday that it will work with Southwest to complete “accelerated” supersonic inspections of the engines, and plans to send around 40 GE and Safran technicians to assist. The stakes for the airline “are high,” because as Southwest CEO Gary Kelly “noted in a Tuesday press conference, the airline’s entire fleet consists of 737-700s, each equipped with two CFM56-7B engines.” CFM has “long worried about the state of fan blades on these engines,” some of which have “many thousands of flight cycles, defined as the period from when the engine is started to when it is shut off.” CFM issued a service bulletin last year calling for airlines to remove the fan blades of engines with more than 15,000 flight cycles for ultrasonic inspection “as soon as possible.” CFM specifically called for operators to look for cracks in the “dovetail roots” where the blades join the hub at the center of the fan. (Image: Taken from an NTSB video shot at Philadelphia International Airport after Southwest Flight 1380 made an emergency landing there on Tuesday. Credit: Aerospace America)
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19 April 2018
NRO Preparing First RFP For Small Launch Vehicles

rocket-lab-aerospace-america Aerospace America reports that the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), known for purchasing large observation satellites, “is learning to think small for some of its needs.” At a talk at the Space Symposium, NRO Director Betty Sapp told an audience that the agency wants to “explore what the tiny rocket marketplace can provide for us.” On April 23, the NRO will issue a final request for proposals to industry for the acquisition of small launch vehicles, the first time the agency’s Office of Space Launch has sought to “procure a rocket exclusively to launch small satellites.” The NRO is seeking rockets smaller than Orbital ATK’s Minotaur 4 that “have achieved a successful test flight.” The agency intends to award contracts in June “for the winning companies to complete the project in time for a June 2019 launch.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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19 April 2018
US Air Force Seeks Quicker Deployment Of Missile Warning Satellites

sbirs-encap-aerospace-america Aerospace America reports that US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced a reorganization of the Space And Missile Systems Center (SMC) on Tuesday, “with the aim of getting missile warning satellites to orbit years sooner than she said today’s acquisition processes and bureaucratic structure would permit.” The service is developing the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared constellation, which would take over missile detection from Space-Based Infrared System satellites. The Air Force’s fiscal 2019 budget “would cancel the seventh and eight satellites in the SBIRS series, and divert the funds toward development of the next generation satellites.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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18 April 2018
NASA Planning Sonic Boom Testing In Texas’ Gulf Coast

F18-transonicFlight The AP reports that NASA is planning to conduct “sonic boom tests” over the Gulf of Mexico off Galveston, Texas, as part of a new study to “produce a quieter boom.” NASA Commercial Supersonic Technology Project Manager Peter Cohen explained that the study will help in the design of supersonic commercial aircraft that can break the sound barrier with less disturbance to those on the ground. NASA will “collect data and enlist volunteers to react to the booms.” Cohen added that the tests are not expected to cause disruption, and that the sonic booms should sound like distant thunder. (Image: F/A-18F Super Hornet in transonic flight. Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)
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18 April 2018
IATA Backs Global UAV Registry

UAVs-in-NationalAirspace-Credit-AP Reuters reports that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is backing the development of a “United Nations-led” global UAV registry. According to IATA Director of Air Traffic Management Infrastructure Rob Eagles, the database also could be used to track incidents involving UAVs and jets. IATA also would consider “collaborating with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to use the registry for data analysis to improve safety.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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17 April 2018
Orion Spacecraft NASA’s First To Use 3D-Printed Parts

EM-1-NASA CNET News reports that Lockheed Martin, Stratasys, and Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies (PADT) announced Tuesday that they will manufacture and deploy 3D-printed parts for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the agency’s first spacecraft to include such parts. Orion’s unmanned test flight, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), is planned for December 2019, to be followed by the manned EM-2 mission to lunar orbit. The EM-2 mission will “use more than 100 3D-printed parts, making it the first manned US-led spacecraft to use parts made through the process.” The parts will include a cover for Orion’s docking hatch, as well as brackets and other smaller components. In order to ensure that the parts are able to stand up to harsh conditions, the companies “opted to use a specialized 3D-printed material from Stratasys called Antero 800NA, a thermoplastic with high strength, as well as heat and chemical resistance.” The material does not build up a charge and can “withstand high mechanical loads.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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16 April 2018
US Navy To Deploy Sense-And-Avoid Radar On MQ-4C Tritons

MQ-4C-AeroAmerica Aerospace America reported that the US Navy plans to deploy its first two Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton UAVs by the end of 2018 “without sense-and avoid radars that would give the planes limited autonomy to avoid other aircraft, says a rear admiral who hopes that upgrade will be ready by 2021.” US Navy Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons Program Executive Officer Rear Adm. Mark Darrah explained during a panel discussion last Wednesday at the Sea, Air and Space Exposition in Maryland that the Tritons’ sense-and-avoid radar “wasn’t optimized for how it was going to operate,” meaning that the aircraft will be sent to their first station at Guam “with the basics we require” to navigate international airspace safely in compliance with ADS-B requirements. Darrah added that the service has “to do some work on application of the algorithms and the processing based on the class of system we are going to provide sense and avoid for.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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16 April 2018
US Air Force To Host Directed-Energy Weapon Trials

Lidar-Wiki Inside Defense reported that the US Air Force plans to invite up to four companies to demonstrate that their directed-energy weapons systems can defend military bases against small UAVs in an experiment this fall. The service plans to hold the trials for two to three weeks at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico beginning October 1. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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16 April 2018
New Cruise Missiles Used In Friday’s Strikes On Syria

JASSM-USAF Bloomberg News reported that a joint US, French, and British “missile barrage on Syria” late Friday night also included the “battlefield debut of a stealthy new Lockheed Martin Corp. air-launched cruise missile produced as part of a $4.6 billion defense program.” Nineteen Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs) were fired from two B-1B bombers outside Syrian airspace during the attack. The JASSM has a “low radar cross-section that makes it difficult to detect and is designed to penetrate as far as 200 miles (322 km) into an adversary’s territory.” The extended range version used Friday can fly more than 500 miles, and is “designed to strike with a 1,000-pound penetrating warhead.” (Image: AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. Credit: U.S. Air Force)
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13 April 2018
US Coast Guard To Demo Long-Range UAV

USCG-UAV-1-AP-Purchased Aviation Today reports that the US Coast Guard has issued a draft solicitation “related to a forthcoming technology demonstration of long-range, ultra-endurance unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for potential use finding and tracking illegal drug and migrant activities in the transit zone.” The demonstration will help the Coast Guard “determine the operational utility of long-range, ultra-endurance UAS for patrolling the transit zone.”
(Image: Technicians prepare the ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle prior to take off from the deck of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Stratton somewhere in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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13 April 2018
Mattis: “We Cannot Repair Our Way Out” Of Aviation Accidents

Firefightters-at-aircraft-crash-site-USMC Air Force Times reports that in recent Congressional testimony, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “warned Congress that the deep cuts to pilot hours and lack of ready aircraft that are partly to blame will not find a quick fix.” Mattis told members of the House Armed Services Committee Thursday, “We cannot repair our way out of the situation we are in,” and that the military will “have to buy, in some cases, the capabilities we have simply worn out and had to set aside and can’t even be repaired, whether it be aircraft where squadrons do not have enough, or it be ships that cannot go back to sea on time, because when we open them up, long overdue for their maintenance period, we find things wrong inside that lengthen their time in the shipyard.” (Image Credit: USMC)
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12 April 2018
Highlights Of Upcoming Space Symposium Featured

DreamChaser_KenUlbrich_Wiki Aerospace America reports on the upcoming Space Symposium that will be held “in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 16 through 19,” highlighting some of the event’s featured exhibits and speakers. Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser test vehicle will be displayed “front and center outside the event center’s Broadmoor Hall with history factoids and a selfie station,” while Deloitte Con-Ex will host an “experiential” outdoor display and Ball Aerospace work on “next-generation environmental satellites” will be featured. Vice President Mike Pence will address the symposium, and is “expected to make a policy announcement.” Author, engineer, and “Xploration Outer Space” host Emily Calandrelli will give a talk at the event. (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 April 2018
US Navy’s MQ-8C Unmanned Helicopter Scheduled To Reach IOC By End Of Year

MQ-8-AP-Purchased ExecutiveGov reports that according to US Navy Fire Scout Program Manager Capt. Jeff Dodge, the service’s Northrop Grumman-built MQ-8C helicopter is on track to reach initial operating capability (IOC) status by the end of this year. The helicopter is scheduled to undergo an initial operational test and evaluation this month. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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11 April 2018
SpaceX Seeks Permission To Perform Dragon Splashdowns In Gulf Of Mexico

Dragon-Splashdown-NASA Space News reports that SpaceX is seeking permission from the FAA to “perform splashdowns of its Dragon spacecraft in the Gulf of Mexico, part of a shift in spacecraft recovery operations from the Pacific Ocean.” In a draft environmental assessment drawn up by the agency, SpaceX proposed up to six Dragon landings annually in the Gulf between Texas and Florida. The Gulf of Mexico would serve as a “contingency landing site for both cargo and crewed Dragon missions should the primary landing zone be unavailable.” SpaceX currently lands Dragon spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean and “has approval to carry out future splashdowns in the Atlantic.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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11 April 2018
SAS To Add 50 Airbus A320neo Jets To Fleet

AirbusA320Neo_AP_Purchased Reuters reports that Scandinavian airline SAS “said on Tuesday it will add 50 Airbus A320neo aircraft to bolster its short and medium-haul fleet with deliveries to begin in the first half of next year.” The deal concludes “lengthy talks” between Airbus and the airline. The carrier “said it was buying 35 aircraft and leasing an additional 15 from lessors” at a price of $4 billion before discounts, adding that it has not yet selected an engine supplier. (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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10 April 2018
NASA Shares “Dazzling” 4K Video Tour Of Moon

Moon-LRO-NASA CNET News hosts a NASA video released Monday that “takes Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imagery and turns it into a 4K tour of the moon that will make you want to go for a visit.” The footage includes standard images of the moon as well as “colorful digitally enhanced footage that shows off some the moon’s fascinating geologic features.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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9 April 2018
Aerospace Corp. CEO: US Is Unprepared For Coming “Space War”

AFSC-NeighborhoodWatch-USAF Politico reported that Steve Isakowitz, the CEO of government-funded think tank The Aerospace Corp., is warning that “war is coming to outer space, and the Pentagon...is not yet ready, following years of underinvesting while the military focused on a host of threats on Earth.” In an interview, Isakowitz said that the US is “approaching a point where ‘Star Wars’ is not just a movie.” He added that the US “supremacy in space has enabled us to have the world’s greatest war-fighting capability...whether it is our soldiers on the field, our drones that fly overhead, our bombers that travel around the world, intelligence we collect.” In a “sign of the new urgency,” President Donald Trump recently called for “establishing a ‘space force’ – a separate military branch responsible for ensuring American supremacy in space, a role now primarily played by the Air Force.” (Image Credit: USAF)
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9 April 2018
India Opens $15 Billion Fighter Contest

F-18-USN-Linzmeier Bloomberg News reported that India announced Friday it would accept proposals from industry to provide 110 single- and twin-seat fighters that would “be mostly manufactured locally” in the world’s “biggest such order currently.” The order could be worth as much as $15 billion, and will require manufacturers to produce at least 85 percent of the jets in India, with deliveries to begin three years after contract finalization. Proposals are due July 6. As the country phases out its MiG aircraft, India’s air force and navy eventually may “require as many as 400 single- and double-engine combat aircraft, according to the government.” According to those familiar with the competition, India revised its specifications to allow suppliers such as The Boeing Company and United Aircraft to pitch their twin-engine fighters. (Image: Boeing EA-18G Growler. By Senior Airman John Linzmeier – DVIDS.net, Public Domain)
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6 April 2018
Virgin Galactic Completes First Powered Flight Since Fatal 2014 Crash

SpaceShipTwo_2013_AP_Purchased SPACE reports Virgin Galactic successfully tested its SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity suborbital vehicle Thursday. It “was the company’s first powered flight in nearly 3.5 years, following the tragic loss of SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise on Oct 31, 2014.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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6 April 2018
Phantom Works’ MQ-25 Powered By Single Rolls-Royce Turbofan

MQ-25UAVProtoype-BOEING FlightGlobal reports Boeing Phantom Works’ MQ-25 unmanned aerial vehicle prototype “is powered by a single, 9,000lb-thrust Rolls-Royce AE3007N turbofan, Boeing disclosed on 5 April.” Boeing “said the engine has powered its prototype on tarmac manoeuvres meant to simulate the sort of taxiing the drone would be expected to perform on an aircraft carrier deck, such as lining up to be rigged for a catapult launch.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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5 April 2018
SpaceX Dragon Cargo Capsule Reaches ISS

Dragon-at-ISS-NASA-April2018 The AP reports that a SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying 6,000 pounds of “food, experiments and other goods for NASA has arrived at the International Space Station after a two-day journey.” The refurbished Dragon spacecraft visited the ISS two years ago, and remained attached to the space station “for about a month, returning to Earth in May.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 April 2018
US Air Force To Accelerate CV-22 Osprey Deployment To Japan

V-22-Osprey-FOX52-wiki ExecutiveGov reports that the US Air Force will deploy five CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to Yokota Air Base in Japan “earlier than previously anticipated” as part of the service’s “efforts to help address regional security concerns within the Pacific Command’s area of responsibility and comply with the 2018 National Defense Strategy.” The Air Force originally planned to deploy the aircraft to Yokota in 2020. The Ospreys will support training and disaster response efforts in the region, and the Air Force “plans to send more training support personnel there and an additional five aircraft as part of a phased-basing effort.” (Image Credit: FOX 52 | Wikimedia Commons)
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4 April 2018
Shapeshifter UAV Among NASA NIAC Phase One Concepts

Shapeshifters-NASA-JPL SPACE reports that a “flying, amphibious robot” called Shapeshifter designed to “cruise through Titan’s atmosphere, go spelunking in caves or dive into the moon’s many seas” is among the 25 “early-stage technology proposals selected in the 2018 round of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase 1 concepts.” Other concepts proposed include “space telescope swarms and meteoroid impact detection” systems. At the end of the first phase, teams may apply for Phase 2 awards valued at up to $500,000 for two years of study. According to NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Acting Associate Administrator Jim Reuter, NIAC “gives NASA the opportunity to explore visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions by creating radically better or entirely new concepts while engaging America’s innovators and entrepreneurs as partners in the journey.” (Image Credit: Ali Agha, Jose Mendez, JPL)
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4 April 2018
F-22, F-35 Fighters Don’t Communicate Well With Each Other

F-16-and-F-35-Luke-AFB-USAF Bloomberg News reported that due to the design of their communication systems, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II fighters “have a difficult time communicating with each other” – despite the fact that they “both function as airborne shepherds of America’s flock of older combat aircraft.” The F-22’s Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) is “much older than the system used on the newer F-35,” and while it can “receive data from the F-35 and other allied aircraft, such as the F-16 and Eurofighter Typhoon, it can’t transmit the vast array of situational data it collects.” The F-35, in contrast, is equipped with a “multifunction advanced data link (MADL) to gather and share information with other F-35s” and allied fighters. F-22 and F-35 pilots “currently must use secure voice links” to communicate with each other, and the method has proven effective in both training and simulated combat, according to a Lockheed Martin F-35 test pilot. The US Air Force “doesn’t plan to begin fixing the communications problem until 2021, when the F-22 fleet is scheduled to have the system upgraded.” In the meantime, Lockheed and other companies are “working on near-term fixes for the F-22’s communications problems.” (Image: F-16 Fighting Falcon escorts Luke Air Force Base's first F-35 Lightning II, March 10, 2014. Credit: USAF)
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3 April 2018
SpaceX Launches Experimental Space Debris Remover

Falcon9-Launch-2Apr2018-AP-Purchased TIME reports that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched Monday carrying supplies for the ISS as well as “an experimental system known as RemoveDEBRIS, which scientists hope will help clean up Earth’s space junk-littered upper atmosphere, CBS reports.” The spacecraft was co-funded by the European Commission and developed by Britain’s University of Surrey Space Center (SSC), and “will be assembled by ISS astronauts before being deployed for a few tests to see how well it captures miniature satellites and pulls them out of orbit.” (Image: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, FL, Monday, 2 April 2018. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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3 April 2018
NASA Hiring Space Mission Flight Directors

Flight-Directors-NASA Bloomberg Government reports that NASA is seeking flight directors to “lead manned spaceflight missions to the International Space Station, including the return of American-made commercial crew spacecraft,” as well as the unmanned Orion lunar missions. Interested persons can apply through April 17, and final selections are expected by mid-year. (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 April 2018
US Navy Remotely Lands F/A-18 Super Hornet On Carrier

FA18-lands-CarlVinson-2017-AP-Purchased FlightGlobal reported that the US Navy “demonstrated for the first time the ability to remotely take control of an aircraft and land it on an aircraft carrier’s deck.” Officers aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln landed an F/A-18 Super Hornet using the aircraft terminal approach remote inceptor system “developed at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland by Naval Air Systems Command.” The officers also demonstrated “touch-and-go manoeuvres with the system.” During testing, operators “controlled an F/A-18 aircraft using a joystick, while a safety pilot sat in the cockpit as backup.” The system can take control of aircraft up to five miles away. It is not “scheduled for fleet-wide implementation as the system’s engineers plan to analyze the data collected aboard Abraham Lincoln and make adjustments for further at-sea testing.” (Image: A U.S. Navy F-18 fighter jet lands on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) aircraft carrier following a routine patrol off the South China Sea, Friday, March 3, 2017. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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2 April 2018
SpaceX Falcon 9 “Go” For ISS Resupply Mission

Falcon-Heavy-AP USA Today reports that launch teams are “ready to kick off a busy month for the Space Coast with the Monday afternoon liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral with supplies destined for the International Space Station.” According to the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, conditions should be 80 percent “go” during the launch window, which will open at 4:30 p.m. Monday. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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2 April 2018
Boeing Hack Highlights Cybersecurity’s Importance For Aerospace

Hack-image-AeroAmerica Aerospace America reported that automated industrial devices “can damage assembly lines if infected by malware, say US cybersecurity analysts.” Some experts are worried about what they see as a “lax cybersecurity culture in the manufacturing sector that includes insufficient sharing of information about malware.” Because, according to former National Security Agency (NSA) cybersecurity analyst Jake Williams, many “factory machines are leased and not owned,” manufacturers often rely on third parties to ensure the machines’ software is updated and patches are installed. A group of engineers established by the International Society of Automation, called ISA99, is working to “create cybersecurity standards for industrial automated machines and control systems,” but the group “wants more software forensics data” about how malware affects industrial networks. (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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30 March 2018
AeroVironment Hardens Puma 3 UAV Against “Harsh And Demanding” RF Environments

AeroVironment-Puma-AE Airforce Technology reported that AeroVironment has upgraded its Puma 3 “all-environment” UAV to be “operational in more challenging radio frequency (RF) environments.” The upgraded version supports the effective operation of the UAV’s “i45 electro-optical / infrared (EO / IR) sensor suite with signals intelligence (SIGINT) payloads in harsh and demanding environments.” The UAV also received “security upgrades that would enable the UAS to perform in challenging RF environments, with M1 / M2 / M5 and M3 / M4 / M6 frequency bands, in addition to AES-256 encryption.” According to AeroVironment Tactical UAS Business Vice President David Sharpin, the Puma 3 now can operate “in even more rugged environments than before,” with an “improved ability to support advanced third-party payloads and software applications,” as well as additional “reliability in challenging electronic warfare / cyber environments where interference is prevalent.” (Image: AeroVironment Puma AE, front, and Raven small unmanned aircraft systems are displayed at the AeroVironment stand during Farnborough International Air Show Credit: Associated Press–©)
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30 March 2018
Space Debris Risk Rises Due To “Mega-Constellations”

Space-Debris-NASA-wikipediaThe Financial Times reports that the risk posed by space debris is increasing as companies plan to launch record numbers of satellites in coming years. (Image: A computer-generated image of objects in Earth orbit that are currently being tracked. Credit: NASA Orbital Debris Program Office)
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29 March 2018
South Korea Takes Delivery Of First Of 40 F-35s

F-35A-LighteningII_USAF-Wiki Aviation Today reports that the first F-35 Lightning II fighter produced for South Korea’s order of 40 fighters “was unveiled Wednesday morning at a joint ceremony between manufacturer Lockheed Martin, the Korean Air Force and the US government.” South Korea is the ninth country to take possession of the F-35. The jet will be delivered to “Arizona’s Luke Air Force base where Korean pilots will train.” According to Lockheed Martin Vice President of F-35 Customer Programs Doug Wilhelm, Korea’s F-35s “will be part of the same global support network and supply chain as all other F-35s.” Wilhelm also “said that F-35 maintenance will be performed by Korean technicians, but that they will be trained by Lockheed Martin personnel.” (Image Credit: US Air Force Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen via Wikipedia)
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28 March 2018
NASA Outlines Lunar Mission Timeline

Moon-AeroAmerica-March2018.png Aerospace America reported that at a meeting Monday, NASA “outlined how it is adapting its human spaceflight timeline to meet the Trump administration’s directive to return astronauts to the lunar surface as its top priority.” At the meeting of NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations committee, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier laid out NASA’s aim to build the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, to be located between Earth and the moon, by 2025. The space station, formerly called the Deep Space Gateway, would “support human missions to the lunar surface in a lander that NASA is in the early stages of planning with companies.” Following the meeting, Gerstenmaier said that construction of the lander would require postponing assembly of the Deep Space Transport spaceship for an eventual Mars mission. Gerstenmaier “said that if NASA’s Space Launch System rockets are completed on schedule, they will launch elements of the Gateway during several trips to cislunar orbit, the term for the region between Earth and the moon, to meet the 2025 assembly timeline.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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28 March 2018
NASA “70 Percent” Confident Of 2020 JWST Launch

WebbTelescope-AeroAmericaMarch2018 Aerospace America reported that “sunshield tears and propulsion leaks discovered during” testing of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) are “spurring the agency to delay its launch once again, this time to May 2020.” The delay is likely to push the project’s costs over an $8 billion funding cap mandated by Congress, which according to NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot would require reauthorization of the project. Lightfoot added that an independent panel will review additional costs associated with the delay, and will deliver a report to Congress “this summer.” Lightfoot said that NASA has briefed “congressional staff about the likelihood” that the cost of the JWST will surpass $8 billion, and “informed them that the observatory is complete, it’s just a matter of putting the two halves together and getting the testing done of the total observatory.” According to NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen, the agency is “70 percent” confident of a launch in May 2020. (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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27 March 2018
Pratt & Whitney Wins $240 Million US Navy F135 Propulsion System Contract

PrattWhitney-100-Wikipedia GovCon Wire reports that United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney subsidiary has received a $239.7 million contract from the US Navy to “obtain long-lead materials, parts and components for the low-rate initial production of lot 12 F135 propulsion systems.” The contract will “fund 46 F135-PW-100 engines for the US Air Force, 20 F135-PW-600 units for the US Marine Corps and another four PW-100s for the Navy, the Defense Department said Friday.” Pratt & Whitney will also supply “63 PW-100s and four PW-600s to non-U.S. DoD partners and foreign military sales customers.” (Image: Pratty Whitney PW-100 engine. Credit: lmnop88a | Wikipedia)
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27 March 2018
Bell Flight Demonstrates Urban Air Taxi Concept At Heli-Expo Conference

Bell-Urban-Air-Taxi-Concept-AP-Purchased Aviation International News reports that Bell Flight demonstrated its Urban Air Taxi concept at this year’s Heli-Expo conference, and “invited attendees to demo the concept through virtual reality experiences inside the mockup.” In a video, Bell Director of Innovation Scott Drennan is interviewed, and states that Bell anticipates “in the mid-2020s, we’ll see a vibrant urban air taxi system that is certified and serving customers across the globe.” (Image: Bell Helicopter's autonomous air taxi concept is displayed at CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press–©) /Jae C. Hong)
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26 March 2018
Magnus: ISS Needs To Remain A Research Platform

International-Space-Station-NASA Public Radio International reported on the possible privatization of the ISS due to the fact that President Donald Trump has “hinted at the possibility of the US ending its part in the funding of the ISS by 2025.” Former NASA astronaut and AIAA Executive Director Emeritus Sandra Magnus is quoted, and “says it is important to know that any advancements made by those companies will be built on top of a foundation of aerospace knowledge accumulated across more than 50 years of government investment, research and development.” Magnus added that the government will “continue to need the ability to do research in space, both in low Earth orbit and beyond,” so that the US can “continue to push that envelope so 50 years from now the next wave continues to have access to that expanding knowledge base that research and development provides.” (Image Credit:  NASA
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26 March 2018
Boeing Delivers First 787-10, Completing Dreamliner Family

Boeing-787-10-First-Flight-Boeing Reuters reports that The Boeing Company delivered its first 787-10 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines on Sunday, “rounding out a family of lightweight jets on which the US planemaker is betting its future.” Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong called the jet a “beautiful aircraft” and an “unparalleled product for regional operations.” The 787 and A330neo are “locked in a fierce battle for sales and profits in the market for jets with around 300 seats,” and Boeing may be “poised to win a hotly contested order from American Airlines, beating competition from the A330neo, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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23 March 2018
DJI Seeks $500 Million In Funding In Advance Of IPO

DJI_Phantom4_AP Reuters reports that the Chinese UAV maker DJI is in talks with “investors for at least $500 million in funding ahead of a planned stock market debut, people with knowledge of the matter said.” The new funding will be obtained by a combination of equity and debt, and would allow the company to be “valued at about $15 billion, nearly double its valuation in 2015, they said.” DJI plans to expand into “drones for sectors such as agriculture, energy, [and] construction as well as drones for use in infrastructure inspection, two of the three people said, declining to be identified as the information was private.” DJI’s competitors include China’s Yuneec, which is backed by “Intel, France’s Parrot and units of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.” (Image: DJI Phantom 4. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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23 March 2018
Planetary Science “Doing Incredibly Well” Under NASA’s 2019 Budget

International-Space-Station-NASA SPACE reports that NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green, speaking at a “town hall meeting about NASA’s planetary science program,” cited the agency’s proposed 2019 budget, which includes $2.2 billion for planetary science efforts, and stated, “Overall, planetary science is doing incredibly well.” Green added, “Planetary science has never had this high a budget,” and he further “noted that, in past years, planetary science has suffered significant budget cuts at the expense of other parts of NASA.” Now, Green said, is planetary science’s “time in the sun to shine.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 March 2018
Boeing 737 MAX 7 Successfully Completes First Flight

Boeing-737MAX-7-First-Flight-AP-Purchased Aviation Today reports that the 737 Max 7, the “newest member of Boeing’s most popular family of jets,” completed its first flight, which was conducted “over the snowcaps of the Cascade Mountains.” The successful test flight means that the aircraft “remains on schedule for 2019 delivery following testing and certification.” The airplane’s three-hour tour of Washington State “tested its flight controls, systems and handling qualities at the hands of Boeing Test and Evaluation Captains Jim Webb and Keith Otsuka, according to the company.” The 737 Max 7 “incorporates the CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, and large flight deck displays.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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22 March 2018
AFRL To Launch Anti-UAV Laser Experiment In October

Lidar-Wiki Inside Defense reports that the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) will launch its first experiment in using “directed energy to defend bases against small, unmanned aerial systems in October, a service official said Wednesday.” Bill Cooper, the director of AFRL’s “Hybrid Defense of Restricted Airspace (HyDRA) study, said at a March 21 Booz Allen Hamilton conference on laser weapons the Air Force will bring commercial systems to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for October’s experiment.” Additional subsystem testing will follow in June 2019, Cooper added, and he “noted the Air Force is preparing four experiments in the next three years to explore DE applications to counter UAS and cruise missiles and to improve precision strike capabilities.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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21 March 2018
NASA To Allow Nuclear Power Systems For Discovery Mission

Bimodal-Nuclear-Thermal-Rocket-NASA Space News reports that due to “progress in producing plutonium-238, NASA will allow scientists proposing missions for an upcoming planetary science competition to use nuclear power sources.” In a statement issued March 17, NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green “said the agency was reversing an earlier decision prohibiting the use of radioisotope power systems for spacecraft proposed for the next mission in the agency’s Discovery program.” In December, NASA had warned that it would not allow nuclear power systems “based on projected use of existing stocks of plutonium-238 for upcoming missions.” Speaking at a town hall during Saturday’s 49th Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference, Green said that NASA reviewed current and projected plutonium-238 supplies with the Department of Energy, which “led him to conclude that it would be feasible to allow the use of radioisotope power systems on the next Discovery mission, in the form of two multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or MMRTGs.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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21 March 2018
FAA Forecasts “Strong” Aviation Growth Through 2038

Boeing777-UA-Wiki Aviation Today reports that the FAA released its Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2018-2038, which said that air travel in the US is strong and is expected to remain so in the coming decades. The FAA forecasts that total US airline passengers will increase from 840.8 million in 2017 to 1.28 billion by 2038. The agency also anticipates that US airline revenue passenger miles will grow at an average of 2.5 percent annually through 2038, with international growth estimated at 3.2 percent per year over the same period. The report also expects UAV use to increase from 1.1 million UAVs in 2017 to 2.4 million by 2022. (Image: United Airlines Boeing 777. CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikipedia)
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2018

20 March 2018
ULA “Stakes Future” On Revolutionary Vulcan Rocket

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA CBS News reports that United Launch Alliance (ULA) is responding to the “threat posed” by SpaceX with “long-range plans to phase out its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket and costly Delta 4 rockets in favor of a powerful, less-expensive launcher known as the Vulcan.” The Vulcan will include reusable engines and an “advanced, long-lived upper stage,” and ULA executives expect the Vulcan to be a “major contender in the increasingly fierce slugfest between SpaceX, ULA and other international launch providers.” This competition was “center stage” with last Wednesday’s award of $642 million in US Air Force Launch contracts to SpaceX and ULA. Although SpaceX designs call for recovery of the entire first stage rocket, ULA will recover only the engines, and ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno “said the Vulcan’s engines represent two-thirds of the cost of the stage.” During a roundtable discussion, Bruno asked, “is it better to recover 100 percent of the value of the booster some of the time or only two thirds of the value of the booster all of the time?” Bruno concluded, “We’ve each made market forecasts, and if we’re right, our solution will be economically advantageous. If I’m wrong and they’re right, then theirs will.” ULA plans its initial Vulcan flights for mid-2020, and also plans to “introduce its new upper stage in 2024, the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES, that Bruno says will revolutionize spaceflight.” Bruno described ACES’s innovation “on the scale of inventing the plane,” adding that he is “confident it’s going to create a large economy in space that doesn’t exist today.” (Image: Launch of a ULA Atlas V. Credit: NASA)
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20 March 2018
US Navy Could Speed Deployment Of F-35Cs

F35_Wikipedia Fox News reports that the US Navy is intending to deploy F-35Cs on the USS Carl Vinson in 2021, but a 2019 budget proposal would move the fighter to formal testing and evaluation earlier, with the potential to be declared operational by the end of 2018. The change could mean the aircraft would be deployed sooner. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikimedia Commons)
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19 March 2018
Diversity A Focus At American Astronautical Society Symposium

AIAA-Diversity-Scholars-2018SciTech Aerospace America reported on the American Astronautical Society’s Goddard Memorial Symposium in Maryland, which discussed in part how the aerospace industry and aerospace-focused collegiate departments in the US can “welcome more women and minorities into their ranks.” During the symposium session “Developing Tomorrow’s Workforce,” participants discussed hurdles they sometimes faced “entering not just the technology workforce but any workforce,” including discrimination, sexual harassment, and more subtle suggestions that alternative career paths might be better suited to the candidate. The discussion included some corrective actions such as ensuring mentors are available to champion prospective candidates and putting those already in the industry in touch with students to encourage them to pursue their passions and to offer them role models. (Image: Students visit the John F. Kennedy Space Center during the 2018 AIAA SciTech Forum. Credit: AIAA)
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19 March 2018
China Plans To Offer Reusable Commercial Satellites By 2020

Comms-Satellite-NASA Reuters reported that China plans to “begin offering recoverable satellites to commercial users between 2019 and 2020, the official state news agency Xinhua reported.” The country has successfully recovered more than 20 satellites “since 1975 and is confident its technology is highly reliable, said Zhang Hongtai, president of the China Academy of Space Technology, a satellite and spacecraft maker.” Hongtai added, “We plan to upgrade this technology in order to satisfy the needs of commercial users.” Chinese President Xi Jinping is “keen to advance China’s space program which lags its counterparts in the United States and Russia, saying it is needed to enhance national security and defense.” (Image: USAF)
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16 March 2018
GE Begins Flight Trials of “World’s Largest Jet Engine”

GE9X-Credit-GE Reuters reported that GE has begun flight testing of the “world’s largest jet engine after delays caused by technical problems, the US conglomerate said on Wednesday.” The test was conducted aboard a “special Boeing 747 test aircraft” that departed from Victorville, California, with the “new E9X engine mounted under its left wing, dwarfing the plane’s three other engines.” The new engine, as “wide and tall as the fuselage of a Boeing 737,” is being developed for Boeing’s new 777X long-haul variant, “which is due to enter service in 2020.” GE’s engineers “completed their test list and ensured key characteristics were working properly, GE said in a statement confirming the flight.” The company expected to begin flight trials in December, but announced in February that an engine glitch required the redesign of a part in its compressor. The flight marks the beginning of months-long testing before the aircraft “takes to the skies in the first quarter of next year.” GE said that it feels “very confident” it will receive safety certification, according to a spokeswoman. GE partnered with Safran, IHI Corp, and MTU Aero Engines on the E9X. (Image Credit: GE Aviation)
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16 March 2018
NASA Shapes Plan For Lunar Space Station

Lunar-Orbital-Outpost-NASA SPACE reports that NASA is “pressing forward on plans to build a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway” positioned near the moon. The Gateway could be “parked in what scientists call a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO), an orbit in cislunar space that could serve as a staging area for future missions.” According to NASA, the Gateway will host instruments and support a variety of missions to the lunar surface. NASA’s fiscal year 2019 budget calls for launching the Gateway’s power and propulsion module in 2022, and the agency “plans to launch the module through a competitive commercial launch contract in an effort to both speed up establishment of the Gateway and advance commercial partnerships in deep space.” Two additional launches would complete the station by 2025. NASA hosted several hundred “scientists from a wide range of disciplines” between February 27 and March 1 for the Deep Space Gateway Concept Science Workshop to discuss the agency’s strategy for the platform. According to NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Chief Exploration Scientist Ben Bussey, the station will be “a lot smaller” than the ISS. (Image Credit: NASA).
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15 March 2018
Orbital ATK Unveils New Satellite Servicing Vehicle

Orbital-ATK-Satellite-Servicing-Vehicles Space News reports that Tuesday at the Satellite 2018 conference, Orbital ATK “company executives announced plans to develop the Mission Robotic Vehicle and Mission Extension Pods, which would handle stationkeeping for geostationary satellites that are running out of fuel.” The new offerings are intended to “provide more flexibility to customers while also moving the company closer to more advanced in-space servicing.” The systems are based on Orbital ATK’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV), which will dock with satellites and assume maneuvering responsibility, “including stationkeeping as well as relocation and disposal into graveyard orbits.” As part of a new strategy, Mission Robotic Vehicles will carry between 10 and 12 Mission Extension Pods, approaching customer satellites and using a “robotic arm to attach a pod to that satellite,” which would then “take over stationkeeping, proving up to five years of additional life.” The systems would provide solutions for customers that “don’t need the full-fledged capabilities of the MEV,” including attitude control. The new systems are to be available for service in 2021. (Image Credit: Orbital ATK)
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15 March 2018
China Plans “Crucial” November Test For Long March 5 Rocket

LongMarch-6Rocket_Wiki USA Today reports that The Boeing Company “rolled out its 10,000th 737 jet Tuesday,” the latest milestone for the aircraft, which marked its 50th anniversary in April 2017. Thousands of Boeing employees at the company’s Reston, Washington, facility gathered to “commemorate the occasion.” The plane completed Tuesday was a 737 Max 8 variant “bound for Southwest, the world’s top operator of the 737.” According to Boeing, the 737 program has more than 4,600 aircraft on order, and production is expected to rise from 47 aircraft per month to 52 aircraft per month later this year. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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14 March 2018
Boeing Completes 10,000th 737 Jet

Boeing737Max USA Today reports that The Boeing Company “rolled out its 10,000th 737 jet Tuesday,” the latest milestone for the aircraft, which marked its 50th anniversary in April 2017. Thousands of Boeing employees at the company’s Reston, Washington, facility gathered to “commemorate the occasion.” The plane completed Tuesday was a 737 Max 8 variant “bound for Southwest, the world’s top operator of the 737.” According to Boeing, the 737 program has more than 4,600 aircraft on order, and production is expected to rise from 47 aircraft per month to 52 aircraft per month later this year. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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14 March 2018
NASA Report: Design Error May Have Caused 2015 SpaceX Rocket Explosion

SpaceX_Falcon9_Explosion_1Sep16-AP-Purchased ABC News reports that a new NASA report released Monday suggests that a design error may have caused a SpaceX rocket to explode during liftoff in June 2015. The Falcon 9 rocket was carrying 4,000 pounds of supplies for the ISS, but “burst into flames above Cape Canaveral in Florida just 139 seconds after its launch, and SpaceX concluded that the explosion was most likely due to a faulty steel part called a strut.” NASA stated in its report, “SpaceX chose to use an industrial grade (as opposed to aerospace grade) 17-4 PH SS (precipitation-hardening stainless steel) cast part (the ‘Rod End’) in a critical load path under cryogenic conditions and strenuous flight environments.” NASA also “concluded the steel strut was implemented without sufficient testing.” In a statement, SpaceX “said it no longer uses these struts but noted that the part had been certified ‘to withstand well beyond the expected loads.’” A SpaceX spokesman confirmed, “NASA Launch Services Program’s independent review came to the same conclusion as SpaceX – that all credible causes for the anomaly were corrected or mitigated by SpaceX before the company returned to flight.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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13 March 2018
SpaceX Releases New Falcon Heavy Montage

Falcon-Heavy-Launch-6Feb2018The Orlando Sentinel reports that SpaceX released a new video montage showing preparations for the maiden launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, “including the installation of Elon Musk’s Telsa Roadster,” the successful landing of two of the rocket’s boosters at Cape Canaveral, and the “first images of what happened to the one failed aspect of the launch, when the third rocket booster came hurtling toward its target, a landing barge off Florida’s coast.” (Image Credit: NASA Kennedy)
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13 March 2018
Bezos To Invest Personal Fortune In Space Travel

Into-Proving-Ground-NASA Bloomberg News reports that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos “wants to make space travel as dynamic and entrepreneurial as the internet.” Bezos, accepting the Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner held Saturday night, asserted that the “price of admission to space is very high.” He added, “I’m in the process of converting my Amazon lottery winnings into a much lower price of admission so we can go explore the solar system.” Bezos “later declined to clarify just how much of his fortune he’ll spend on space travel.” Bezos has previously indicated that he is providing Blue Origin $1 billion in annual funding through the sale of Amazon stock (Image: NASA)
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12 March 2018
Musk: SpaceX’s Mars Spaceships To Be Ready For Test Flights By Early 2019

Falcon-Heavy-AP USA Today reports that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk spoke at the SXSW Conference in Austin, and predicted that the company’s spaceships for Mars missions will be ready for test flights by the first half of 2019. During his talk, Musk asserted, “In the short-term, Mars is really about getting the spaceship built,” which will demonstrate to other companies and countries that the task is possible and encourage them to build their own. Musk argued that competitors “currently don’t think it’s possible, so if we show them that it is, they’ll up their game and build interplanetary transport vehicles, as well.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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12 March 2018
Federal Regulators Support Launch Of Commercial UAVs

Amazon-Prime-Air_Private-Trial_Ground-HIGH-RESThe Wall Street Journal reports that according to federal and industry officials, commercial UAVs are expected to begin limited deliveries in the US within months. Recent commercial UAV progress stems from closer cooperation between the government and companies including Amazon. However, the launch of commercial drones may be delayed by security concerns from law enforcement agencies. In addition, FAA managers need to address legislative and regulatory restrictions, such as pilot training requirements. Gur Kimchi of Prime Air expressed optimism that the necessary approvals for commercial drones would be established by 2019. (Image Credit: Amazon)
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9 March 2018
New Research Indicates Electrically Charging Aircraft Can Reduce Likelihood Of Lightning Strike

Lightning-and-aircraft MIT News reports that new research featured in the AIAA Journal suggests that if an aircraft is electrically “charged to just the right level, its likelihood of being struck by lightning would be significantly reduced.” In order to counteract the positive polarization of aircraft in flight, “the researchers propose temporarily charging a plane to a negative level to dampen the more highly charged positive end, thus preventing that end from reaching a critical level and initiating a lightning strike.” (Image credit: Pixabay)
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9 March 2018
F-35 Begins First Deployment With US Marine Corps Expeditionary Unit

F35_Wikipedia ExecutiveGov reports that US Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron 121 landed F-35B Lightning II aircraft aboard the “amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s [MEU] 2018 spring patrol.” The landing begins the F-35’s “first deployment for an MEU operation, the Marines said Monday.” (image)
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8 March 2018
Analysts: Tariffs Not Likely To Seriously Affect Boeing Prices, But Retaliation May Hurt Sales

Boeing737Max Reuters reports that analysts believe proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum would “barely budget the price” of a Boeing Company jetliner or fighter, but may affect sales due to “retaliation by countries such as China, one of Boeing’s biggest customers.” According to “several experts with direct knowledge of Boeing,” aluminum accounts for 80 percent of the “weight of older model planes such as the 737 and 777 but only about 12 percent of the cost.” A 10 percent aluminum tariff “would increase the cost of a plane by about 1.2 percent if all of the aluminum is imported,” although Boeing mainly uses domestically produced aluminum. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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8 March 2018
NASA To Fly Probe Directly Into Sun

ParkerSolarProbe-NASAThe AP reports on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which the agency will launch “all the way into the sun.” The probe will be launched from Cape Canaveral this summer, and “will eventually come within 4 million miles of our star, closer than any other spacecraft,” reaching 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. (Image Credit: NASA)
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7 March 2018
NTSB: Fan Blade Cause Of United Jet’s Engine Failure

Boeing777-UA-WikiThe AP reports that investigators have found that the failure of an “engine fan blade caused a United Airlines jet to lose power in one of its two engines over the Pacific last month.” The NTSB “said Tuesday that a fan blade separated and led to the loss of the cover on the right-side engine” of the carrier’s Boeing 777 aircraft February 13. The preliminary report did not indicate what caused the “initial failure of the blade in the Pratt & Whitney engine.”
(Image: United Airlines Boeing 777. CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikipedia)
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7 March 2018
US Air Force To Retire Predator UAV March 9

MQ-1-Predator-USAF Bloomberg Government reports that the US Air Force will retire the General Atomics Predator UAV, the aircraft “that redefined the US military’s combat tactics,” from its inventory on March 9. General Atomics built 320 Predators “at a cost of about $2.8 billion,” and the US Army “spent more than $5 billion on 34 variants of the aircraft” that will continue to operate. The company also produces the MQ-9 Reaper and the Air Force “plans to buy 366 of these drones for about $13 billion.” (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt via Wikipedia)
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6 March 2018
SpaceX Launches 50th Falcon 9 Rocket

Falcon9-Launches-NASA Time reports that SpaceX achieved a new milestone for its Falcon 9 with a successful launch early Tuesday morning from Kennedy Space Center. Liftoff occurred at 12:33 a.m EST marking the 50th launch of the company’s signature rocket since making its first successful flight in 2010. The payload for Tuesday morning’s launch was a six-ton satellite, the size of a small bus, to be placed into orbit for Hispasat, Spain’s satellite telecommunications provider. In a tweet, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk described the payload as “the largest geostationary satellite we’ve ever flown.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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6 March 2018
GE Announces Fix For “Previously Undisclosed” Issue With Leap Engine

AirbusA320Neo_wiki Bloomberg News reports that General Electric (GE) plans to replace a part in “hundreds of recently delivered engines after uncovering a durability problem inside the turbines powering the upgraded workhorse jets” of The Boeing Company and Airbus. GE has identified a solution for a “previously undisclosed issue with the Leap engine,” and the redesigned part “will be incorporated into the production line starting in May, said Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE Aviation.” The issue is related to flaking of the coating on a shroud in the engine’s hot section, and according to Kennedy, it presents a “long-term durability issue.” In a statement sent to operators, CFM International, the joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines, wrote that the glitch manifests in the “exhaust gas temperature margin.” According to Kennedy, more than 500 engines produced by CFM currently in service will be replaced or retrofitted during regular maintenance. The engine powers both the Boeing 737 Max and the Airbus A320neo, and more than 40 Leap engines have been removed from A320neo aircraft due to the issue, according to the CFM statement. (Image Credit: Don-vip via Wikimedia Commons)
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5 March 2018
Magnus: Privatizing ISS Would Have Benefits, But Execution Will Be “Critical”

International-Space-Station-NASAThe Los Angeles Times interviewed former NASA astronaut and AIAA Executive Director Sandy Magnus about a proposal by the Trump administration to privatize the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025, which Magnus called “neither a good thing or a bad thing,” but the “next stage in the evolution” of the space station, although she adds that “we’ve got to do it well.” Maintaining the ISS’s capabilities as a “science research and technology development platform,” Magnus said, “is going to be critical.” However, Magnus sees possible benefits in handing over management of the ISS to industry, in particular that the US will be able to “put its resources into going beyond low Earth orbit – like going back to the moon and eventually onto Mars, and maybe on to Europa 100 years from now.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 March 2018
SpaceX Targets Tuesday For 50th Launch

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki Florida Today reported that SpaceX has been “given the all-clear” to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early Tuesday. Weather forecasters with the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predict 90 percent “go” conditions on Tuesday during the two-hour launch window. The mission payload is the Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite, built by Space Systems Loral, which “will provide television, broadband and other communications services to the Americas and Europe.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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2018

2 March 2018
Boeing Believes Flying Cars Will Happen “Faster Than Any Of Us Understand”

Aurora_VTOL Bloomberg News reports that in an interview, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stated that flying vehicle technology “is near enough to occupy the present-day plans of Boeing’s leadership.” Muilenberg remarked, “I think it will happen faster than any of us understand. Real prototype vehicles are being built right now. So the technology is very doable.” Muilenberg sees the new technology “as a rare opening to shape a new transportation ecosystem.” (Image Credit: Aurora Flight Sciences)
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2018

2 March 2018
“Bus-Sized Asteroid” To Pass Earth Friday

Asteroid-Flyby-NASAThe Daily Mail reports that the “bus-sized” 2018 DV1 asteroid will pass by Earth Friday at a distance of just 65,000 miles, “one third of the distance between Earth and the moon.” The asteroid was just spotted this Monday by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, but astronomers “say this latest pass should not cause alarm and is the 18th known asteroid to fly within one lunar distance to our planet since the beginning of this year.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2018
Falcon 9 Mission Postponed Until After Atlas 5 Launch

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki Space News reports that the US Air Force has decided not to approve a “proposal to support two launches from the Eastern Range in less than 24 hours this week, but officials say being able to do so remains a goal as part of efforts to support increased launch activity.” Earlier this week, SpaceX proposed to reschedule a delayed Falcon 9 launch “of the Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite for shortly after midnight Eastern time March 1,” less than 17 hours before a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 also launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Industry sources indicate that the Air Force “strongly considered allowing the back-to-back launches, but concluded there were too many open questions that could not be resolved in time to allow the Falcon 9 launch to take place so close to the Atlas 5 launch.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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1 March 2018
ULA Atlas 5 Moved To Launch Pad Ahead Of Thursday’s Planned Launch

AtlasV-ready-for-launch-NASA Spaceflight Now reports that a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Altas 5 rocket carrying the NOAA GOES-S weather satellite was moved from the ULA Vertical Integration Facility to NASA’s Complex 41 on Wednesday ahead of a planned launch Thursday afternoon. The latest forecast shows an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for the mission. Liquid oxygen will be “loaded in the first stage during the countdown tomorrow afternoon, along with liquid hydrogen...for the Atlas 5’s Centaur upper stage.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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28 February 2018
JAXA Successfully Launches Surveillance Satellite Aboard H-2A Rocket

Japanese-H-IIA-Rocket-NASA Spaceflight Now reports that JAXA successfully launched an H-2A rocket from Tanegashima Space Center on Tuesday carrying a “clandestine government-owned satellite to collect sharp-eyed views of North Korea’s missile developments and other global hotspots.” The Japanese government has not released specifications for the satellite and did not provide a live webcast of the mission, although it “has acknowledged the satellite will join a fleet of Information Gathering Satellites operated by the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center, which reports directly to the Japanese government’s executive leadership.” There are six Information Gathering Satellites already operational, which include a “mix of optical and radar spy satellites.” (Image Credit: Bill Ingles/NASA | Wikimedia Commons)
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28 February 2018
US Air Force Resumes Flights Of T-6 Trainers

T-6-Texan-II-Trainer-USAF Air Force Times reports that the US Air Force resumed flights of its T-6 Texan II trainers Tuesday “after a rash of hypoxia-like scares grounded them for nearly a month.” Although the service is working to identify “what led to the physiological problems, the final root cause has not yet been determined.” The grounding was lifted on order of 19th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty after the service, “along with experts from the Navy, NASA and medical specialties...collected and analyzed data from pilots who experienced the problems and their aircraft.” In a released statement, Doherty wrote that an investigation suggested that the component failures or degradation of the aircraft’s onboard oxygen system affected the pressure, flow, and oxygen content aboard the T-6s. Doherty said that investigators “have zeroed in on a handful of components that are degrading or failing to perform and needed to be replaced or repaired more often than the Air Force anticipated when they bought the aircraft.” The 19th Air Force will “conduct new and recurring inspections of the OBOGS components to catch problems and, AETC hopes, reduce the number of hypoxia or hypoxia-like incidents in the future.” (Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. David Richards. Credit: US Air Force | Wikipedia)
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27 February 2018
Forecast Favorable For Atlas V GOES-S Launch Thursday

ULA_Atlas5Launch_NASA Florida Today favorable Space Coast skies after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday, according to forecasters.” The US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron anticipates 80 percent “go” conditions from NASA’s Launch Complex 41 during a “two-hour window that opens at 5:03 p.m.” Thursday, and the “possible presence of cumulus clouds was cited as the only weather-related concern.” The Lockheed Martin-built GOES-S “will be tasked with maintaining a watchful gaze over wildfires, tropical cyclones and other weather hazards,” and is the second in a series of satellites intended to help improve US weather forecasting. The Atlas V’s “rollout to the pad” from ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility is expected Wednesday. (Image Credit: NASA)


27 February 2018
Japan Receives First F-35A Fighter

F35_Wikipedia ExecutiveGov reports that the first F-35A “directly assigned to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has landed on Misawa Air Base, Japan.” The jet was the second of its kind “built at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Nagoya-based final assembly and check-out facility, Lockheed Martin F-35 said Saturday.” The fighter will be one of 42 F-35As assigned to the JASDF. (Image Credit: U.S. Navy | Wikimedia Commons)
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26 February 2018
US Air Force Chief: US Will Be “Fighting From Space In A Matter Of Years”

AFSC-NeighborhoodWatch-USAF Space News reported that Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein delivered a keynote speech Friday at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium, and declared it is “time for us as a service, regardless of specialty badge, to embrace space superiority with the same passion and sense of ownership as we apply to air superiority today.” Goldfein argued that the US is “going to be fighting from space in a matter of years,” and called for the Air Force to “lead joint war fighting in this new contested domain.” Although Goldfein has spoken on this topic previously, the general’s speech “stood out as more emphatic and stark about the role of the Air Force in space warfare.” Goldfein forecast that the Air Force would have to catch up as the cyber and space domains increasingly become “contested environments.” (Image Credit: USAF)
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23 February 2018
NASA Conducts “Most Powerful Test Yet” Of SLS’s RS-25 Engine

SLS-Engine-Test-NASAThe Orlando Sentinel reports that in its “third engine test of the year, NASA boosted up an RS-25 engine to 113 percent capacity for 50 seconds of a 260-second test on the A-1 Test Stand” at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The RS-25 engines are all “converted from the space shuttle program,” and the Space Launch System (SLS) features four of the engines along “with two solid rocket boosters to create more than 8 million pounds of thrust.” When SLS launches, it will “surpass the 7.6 million pounds of thrust from the Apollo program’s Saturn V rockets.” Engines for the first SLS launch, Exploration Mission-1, have already been tested, while the engines “being tested now at Stennis are for Exploration Mission-2, which will be the first manned mission since Apollo 17 in 1972.” In all, 16 former space shuttle engines are “being tested at Stennis for the SLS program,” and six new RS-25 engines have been ordered from Aerojet Rocketdyne for future missions. The article also features video of the test as part of its coverage. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)


23 February 2018
Airbus Releases First Video Of Vahana “Flying Taxi” Test Flight

Airbus-Vahana-FlightTest-CreditAirbus CNBC reports that Airbus “released the first footage” of the company’s Vahana “flying tax” UAV. The aircraft successfully flew for 53 seconds during its initial test. (Image Credit: Airbus)
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22 February 2018
National Space Council Proposes Overhaul Of Space Regulations

dragon-web-AeroAmerica Aerospace America reports that the US National Space Council “on Wednesday took aim at government agencies that Vice President Mike Pence,” presiding over the Council’s second session, said have “remained stuck in the past” in their interactions with launch providers and commercial satellite operators. Pence argued that launch services managed by the FAA impose “burdensome government barriers” on companies, and “said that a year from now (March 1, 2019, to be precise) he wants the Transportation Department, which includes the FAA, to create a single type of license for launch and re-entry of spacecraft, and ‘create a performance-based licensing regime.’” (Image: NASA's Candarm2 robotic arm on the International Space Station grasps SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft. Credit: NASA)
Full Story (Aerospace America, by Tom Risen, staff reporter)


22 February 2018
Pratt & Whitney Announces It Has Solution For Airbus Engine Issues

AirbusA320Neo_AP_Purchased Reuters reports that Pratt & Whitney “said on Wednesday it has found a solution to the issues that had caused delays in supplying engines” to Airbus, grounding some A320neo aircraft. Pratt, a division of United Technologies, indicated that its solution to a “knife-edge seal” issue draws from a design with which the company has “significant experience,” but did not provide additional details. Reuters “reported earlier on Wednesday that the company was likely to return to a previous seal as a way of temporarily dealing with the issue that safety authorities warned could shutdown a plane’s engine mid-flight.” Although some A320neo deliveries had been halted after the problems arose in January, Pratt “said it will restart engine deliveries in early March.” Airbus CEO Tom Enders “said last week that deliveries to customers should resume in April.” (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (Reuters)


21 February 2018
Strong Aftermarket Demand Pushes Business, General Avionics Sales Above $2.3 Billion In 2017

GulfstreamG550-Wiki Aviation Today reports that business and general avionics sales totaled more than $2.3 billion worldwide in 2017, a “2.9% increase compared to 2016, according to the year-end avionics market report released by the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA).” AEA President Paula Derks called “sales growth in the retrofit market...the obvious headline for the year.” Aftermarket avionics upgrades accounted for more than 57 percent of installations in 2017, a 20.1 percent increase “over 2016, and the highest recorded sales figure, $1.3 billion, for aftermarket avionics upgrades since AEA first introduced its avionics market report in 2013.” The majority of the sales reported took place in North America, and just 26.5 percent of sales took place outside the US and Canada. Derks added that many “avionics shops are telling us that aircraft owners are electing to order full-panel avionics upgrades rather than just the ADS-B equipment.” Derks speculated that it will be “interesting to see whether the retrofit market continues to grow significantly in the next two years.” (Image Credit: Edwin Leong via Wikipedia)
More Info (Aviation Today)


21 February 2018
White House NASA Budget Seeks $504.2 Million For Lunar Space Station

NASA-Deep-space-gatewayThe Houston Chronicle reports that President Donald Trump’s $19.9 billion budget proposal for NASA in fiscal year 2019 “includes money to establish a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway in the 2020s.” During his State of NASA address last week, NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that the gateway would “give us a strategic presence in the lunar vicinity that will drive our activity with commercial and international partners and help us further explore the moon and its resources and translate that experience toward human missions to Mars.” In a February 13 NASA web post, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier wrote that the gateway “will drive our activity with commercial and international partners and help us explore the Moon and its resources.” The proposed gateway “would have a power and propulsion element that will provide space-to-Earth, space-to-lunar and spacecraft-to-spacecraft communications.” The space station would also “support communication for spacewalks and have the ability to transfer large datasets at a much faster rate than currently is available, the post states.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Houston Chronicle)


20 February 2018
NASA Certifies SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rockets For Science Missions

Falcon9Launch-2017-AP-Purchased SPACE reports that NASA has certified the “current version of the SpaceX Falcon 9” to launch selected categories of science missions. NASA “disclosed the certification in its full fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, released Feb. 14, in a section about NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP).” The budget stated that SpaceX had successfully completed “Category 2” certification for the Falcon 9 “Full Thrust,” which “supports the launch of the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission in March 2018.” NASA spokesperson Cheryl Warned confirmed Category 2 certification had been received for the rocket. Category 2 certification covers “medium risk” missions, and requires between one to three successful missions to qualify for the missions, “depending on the vehicle’s heritage and level of NASA insight.” The LSP is also conducting “preliminary activities” for certifying the Orbital ATK Antares launch vehicle, according to the documents. The program has also “started certification discussions regarding vehicles still in development, including Blue Origin’s New Glenn, Orbital ATK’s Next General Launch and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan.” (Image: A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket carrying a communications satellite lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, Monday, 30 Oct. 2017. (Credit: AP/John Raoux)
More Info (SPACE)


16 February 2018
Boeing Plans On Building Over 900 Airplanes A Year By 2020, CEO Says

Boeing737Max CNBC reports that Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Thursday that the company plans on building over 900 airplanes annually “by the end of the decade.” Boeing delivered a record 763 commercial aircraft in 2017, the equivalent of about one new plane every 11½ hours, “and Muilenburg says the company’s production rate is going to keep climbing.” Muilenburg said, “We see air traffic growing and passenger traffic growing at about 6 percent to 7 percent a year, and that’s feeding airplane growth throughout the world.” He said the world’s aircraft fleets are “going to double in size” in the next two decades to address the need for millions of new passengers. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (CNBC)


15 February 2018
US Air Force Eyes June Date For Falcon Heavy STP-2 Mission

Falcon-Heavy-Launch-6Feb2018 Bloomberg News reports that the US Air Force is “targeting” June for its “Space Test Program 2 mission, or STP-2, a spokeswoman for the Space and Missile Systems Center said in an email.” The launch is able to occur before the Falcon Heavy “is certified by the military because the mission is considered experimental,” although the rocket “will eventually have to complete the validation process to carry out national security launches.” The STP-2 mission will carry a payload of three satellites for Arabsat, Inmarsat, and Viasat, but will also demonstrate the “new rocket’s capabilities.” The mission is also likely to be the “Falcon Heavy’s first launch for a paying customer.” SpaceX plans to conduct 30 launches in 2018, the “majority using its smaller Falcon 9 rocket.” (Image Credit: NASA Kennedy)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


15 February 2018
AIAA Greater Huntsville Section Provides “Networking, Mentoring For Young Professionals”

AIAA-YPs-at-SciTech18The Redstone Rocket reports on the AIAA Greater Huntsville Section, which “provides young professionals age 35 and younger with opportunities for networking, mentorship and professional development,” – things that many young aerospace professionals are looking for, explained AIAA Young Professional Director Tammy Statham. Young professionals can expect a “chance to present their work, networking events, monthly luncheons, opportunities to hear from leaders in industries, social activities like a Paint Night or Space Trivia, and an annual symposium just for them.” Statham also highlighted AIAA’s course offerings, which are intended to help members “grow” by learning skills such as “how to program a microcontroller.” (Image: AIAA Young Professionals meet at the 2018 AIAA SciTech Forum. Credit: AIAA)
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14 February 2018
Study: Delivery UAVs Can Reduce Emissions

Flirtey-Delivery-Drone-Dropbox Forbes reports that a study by Nature Communications led by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Carnegie Mellon University “finds that using relatively small quad- or octo-copters (in comparison to far larger drones used for military applications, for example) instead of diesel-burning delivery trucks could mean a reduction in both energy consumption and release of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.” The article mentions that DHL, Amazon, UPS, and Google are among the companies experimenting with delivery drones. (Image Credit: Flirtey Technology)
More Info (Forbes)


14 February 2018
SpaceX Prepares To Test Broadband Satellite Saturday

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki CNET News reports that a week after testing its new Falcon Heavy rocket, SpaceX is preparing to “blast off another test of a long-awaited new product.” The first two demonstration satellites in the company’s “Starlink” program will be “launched into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 on Saturday, according to correspondence between the company and the Federal Communications Commission.” Starlink aims to provide “low-cost internet access” for customers around the globe. The main payload for Saturday’s mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base will be the Spanish government’s “Paz” satellite, which was “designed to capture imagery of the Earth down to the single-meter scale,” but the two Starlink satellites will be launched as a secondary payload. In its launch license application in November, SpaceX had envisioned the mission “proving out the development of the satellite bus and related subsystems,” as well as validating the “design of a phased array broadband antenna communications platform.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CNET News)


13 February 2018
Proposed NASA Budget Includes Cuts To Earth Science, ISS

International-Space-Station-NASA Aerospace America reports that the White House has released a $19.9 billion budget proposal for NASA during fiscal year 2019, which sets the “end of fiscal 2024 as a firm deadline for ending NASA’s direct funding for the International Space Station, proposes $10 billion for human exploration, including starting up a lunar robotic exploration program as a precursor to sending astronauts, and hits Earth science and education hard.” The budget would include $150 million in new funding for a program to encourage more commercial partnerships on the ISS to enable them to be prepared to take over space station operations in 2025. Former astronaut Leroy Chaio called it a “mistake to end the ISS to ostensibly fund the exploration program,” and called the space station an “important testing ground for biomedical countermeasures and engineering systems.” The Boeing Company, NASA’s prime contractor for the ISS, has estimated that “continued maintenance and upgrades would extend the station’s lifespan well into 2040.” The White House budget would also reduce NASA’s Earth science budget from $1.93 billion in 2017 to $1.8 billion in 2019, eliminating five projects including the “already constructed Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 spectrometer that would monitor carbon dioxide levels from space.” The NASA Office of Education’s $100 million in funding would be cut; the office “supports educators and students pursuing science, math and technology projects.” Hypersonic flight research funding would be continued, as would funding for the development of a new, more quiet supersonic plane. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Aerospace America – By Tom Risen, staff reporter)


13 February 2018
Musk: “Fully Expendable” Falcon Heavy To Cost $150 Million

Falcon-Heavy-Launch-6Feb2018 Reuters reports that SpaceX is even further “ahead of the rest of the space industry than previously thought, according to CEO Elon Musk.” SpaceX had previously “said the cost of each Falcon Heavy launch starts at $90 million,” but Musk added on Monday in a tweet that a “fully expendable Falcon Heavy...is $150M.” This cost makes the Falcon Heavy around “$250 million cheaper than the closest competition,” the Delta IV Heavy. A fully expendable rocket “is the maxed-out version, in which SpaceX would not try to conserve fuel or weight to recover parts.” (Image Credit: NASA Kennedy)
More Info (Reuters)


12 February 2018
NASA New Horizons Spacecraft Breaks Record With Deep Space Photos

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA USA Today hosted a video which reported that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft broke a record by taking the photographs from the farthest distance from Earth to date. The photographs broke the record of the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which beamed back the famous “Pale Blue Dot” photograph. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (USA Today)


12 February 2018
SpaceX To Launch From Cape Canaveral “No Sooner” Than February 22

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki Florida Today reported that SpaceX is scheduled to “host the next Eastern Range launch with its Falcon 9 rocket later this month,” and is targeting a launch no earlier than February 22 from “Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 40 with a commercial communications satellite for Hispasat, an operator based in Spain with subsidiaries in Latin America.” The Hispasat 30W-6 satellite will provide “television, broadband, corporate and other communications to the Americas and Europe,” and was built by Space Systems Loral. The satellite will be launched into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Florida Today)


9 February 2018
Sierra Nevada Receives NASA Approval For First Dream Chaser ISS Mission

DreamChaser-NASA Space News reports that NASA has given Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) formal approval for the company’s initial cargo mission in support of the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2020. SNC announced on February 7 that it had received “authority to proceed” with the mission using its Dream Chaser spacecraft. The mission will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, and will be the first of six missions in the company’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 contract, which it won in 2016. SNC Space Systems Executive Vice President Mark Sirangelo said that although SNC had “won the contract a couple of years ago, the contract still needed to be validated by a task order,” and called the order the “biggest step” to date for the program. SNC is currently building the flight vehicle “with hardware under development now in advance of a critical design review planned for the middle of this year.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Space News)


9 February 2018
China Debuts Military UAVs At Singapore Airshow For “First Public Appearance In Southeast Asia”

WIng-Loong-UAS-Wiki Reuters reports that the state-owned China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) demonstrated two versions of its “Wing Loong reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial system” at the Singapore Airshow, which was the “drone’s first public appearance in Southeast Asia, according to trade media, and the booth drew military personnel from countries such as Myanmar and Malaysia.” The Chinese-made unmanned aerial system costs “about $5 million versus up to $100 million for a U.S.-made system, making them especially attractive to less affluent militaries, said Ben Moores, a senior analyst for defense and aviation at Jane’s by IHS Markit.” Moores said momentum is “moving in China’s favor on a daily basis,” and added that he believes that international customers are “very put off by” President Donald Trump, and may “think twice about buying American equipment” as a result of these factors. (Image: Wing Loong II front view, Dubai Air Show 2017. Credit: By Mztourist - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia)
More Info (Reuters)


8 February 2018
Lockheed Anticipates Demand For 400 F-16 Jets Over Decade

USAF-F16-Joint-Air-Exercise-APImages Reuters reports that Lockheed Martin anticipates demand for an additional 400 of its F-16 fighter jets “globally over the next decade, a senior executive at the U.S. defense contractor said on Wednesday.” Lockheed Martin F-16 business development lead Randall Howard, speaking at the Singapore Airshow, added, “I’ve not said this before, I’ve said 200 over five-seven (years) but what I’ve seen in the last three years, there’s been a tremendous uptick in interest in the F-16.” (Image: U.S. Air Force's F-16 fighter takes off during an annual joint air exercise "Max Thunder" between South Korea and the U.S. at a US air base in Gunsan, South Korea, Thursday, April 20, 2017. Associated Press-©)
More Info (Reuters)


8 February 2018
ISS Spacewalk Breaks Cosmonauts’ Record

Cosmonauts-Feb2018-Spacewalk-NASAThe Aero-News Network reports that a recent spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov was the “longest Russian spacewalk” to date, “breaking the previous record of 8 hours and 7 minutes that Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanskiy set Dec. 27, 2013, on a spacewalk during Expedition 38.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Aero-News Network)


7 February 2018
SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy

Falcon-Heavy-Launch-6Feb2018When SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy rocket roared off a pad in Florida Tuesday, it carried Elon Musk’s now famous bright red Tesla and the possibility of the California company gaining a large price edge in the competition to launch satellites for the Pentagon and National Reconnaissance Office. The rocked lifted off at 3:45pm ET, two hours and 15 minutes later than planned due windy conditions. A SpaceX live stream showed two of the rocket’s three Falcon 9 cores returning to Earth a few minutes later, touching down simultaneously on landing pads at Cape Canaveral, with a narrator saying, “The Falcons have landed.” (Image Credit: NASA Kennedy)
Full Story (Aerospace America – By Tom Risen, staff reporter)


7 February 2018
VP: Boeing To “Think Very Seriously” About Increasing 737 Production

Boeing737Max Reuters reports that The Boeing Company “must look seriously at raising 737 production based on current data, a senior company executive said on Wednesday.” Speaking at a Singapore Airshow briefing, Marketing Vice President Randy Tinseth said that the company is “oversold” at its current production rate of 57 aircraft a month, and will “have to think very seriously about” increasing production if demand stays consistent. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Reuters)


7 February 2018
Winter Olympics Security Measures Include Anti-UAV Aircraft

Lidar-WikiThe Daily Mail reports that South Korea is “deploying a fleet of drone-catching drones to bolster security at this month’s 2018 Winter Olympics,” which are set to begin Friday. The UAVs will deploy nets on “dangerous-looking unmanned aerial vehicles” approaching the Olympic grounds in Pyeongchang. As the opening of the games nears, officials are “concerned that terrorists could use rogue flying machines to disrupt the two-week event by carrying bombs toward crowd members or athletes.” Some members of the event’s security team will be “equipped with special drone-detection radar.” Security teams are also training with “anti-drone artillery,” including a “radar gun” used to cause pilots to lose control of their UAVs, and “shotguns specifically designed to shoot down drones.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
More Info (Daily Mail)


6 February 2018
SpaceX Falcon Heavy Set For Launch Today

Falcon-Heavy-ArtistsRendition-SpaceXSpaceX is ready to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful U.S. rocket since Saturn V, Tuesday afternoon, which the company hopes will lead to increased commercial and national security missions. Launch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EST, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The event is expected to draw an estimated 100,000 spectators to the Space Coast to witness one of the most anticipated launches since the shuttle program ended in 2011. After liftoff, SpaceX will attempt to land all three of the Falcon Heavy's boosters — two on land and one on a floating platform at sea. The test payload for this demonstration mission is SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster, which will be launched toward Mars. First announced to the public in 2011, the Falcon Heavy is expected to generate 5.1 million pounds of thrust at liftoff with the ability to carry more than 140,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
More Info (ABC News)


6 February 2018
AIAA University Of Illinois Student Branch Igniter Featured

U-of-Illinois-StudentBranch Motherboard reports that although public attention is currently focused on the launch of the Falcon Heavy, “even hobbyist launches of small model rockets have their own miracles to share.” The article includes a video from “Warped Perception, a YouTube channel run by DIY experimenter Matt Mikka, which shows close-up, slow-motion shots of model rocket igniters combusting into mesmerizing patterns of fiery energy,” and highlights the “gorgeous blaze of the igniter designed by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics [student branch] at the University of Illinois.” (Image: AIAA University of Illinois Student Branch. Credit: Warped Perception/YouTube)
More Info (Motherboard)


6 February 2018
Boeing Debuts MAX 7 Jet

Boeing-MAX7-Boeing-PhotoThe Seattle Times reports that The Boeing Company introduced its Boeing 737 MAX 7 jet, the “third and smallest version of the new 737 jet family, which faces stiff competition from the Bombardier CSeries,” to reporters and employees at its Renton, WA, plant Monday. Although the “MAX family has sold extremely well, with more than 4,200 ordered, sales of the MAX 7 model have been very slow, despite a redesign in 2016 that stretched the fuselage to add two extra rows of seats.” The MAX 7 is a “shrunken version of the MAX 8, and is less fuel efficient on a per-seat basis,” and also faces “competition from Bombardier’s all-new CSeries CS300 aircraft, which has lower fuel and operating costs.” Airbus has “said it will market the CS300 in preference to its own A319.” MAX 7 flight tests “should begin in the coming days, before first delivery next year.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Seattle Times)


5 February 2018
Airbus Vahana Autonomous Aircraft Completes First Flight Test

Airbus-Vahana-FlightTest-CreditAirbus CNBC reported that Airbus’s Vahana electric self-piloted aircraft successfully completed its “first full-scale flight test.” The aircraft “reportedly reached a height of 16 feet before landing safely at a site in Pendleton, Oregon” Wednesday, and a “second flight took place Thursday.” Vahana Project Executive Zach Lovering said in a statement, “In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight.” Although Vahana is envisioned as an air taxi, Airbus “said the VTOL could...also perform as a cargo delivery platform, ambulance, search and rescue device or taxi.” (Image Credit: Airbus)
More Info (CNBC)


5 February 2018
Falcon Heavy Rocket Is Major Gamble For SpaceX

Falcon-Heavy-ArtistsRendition-SpaceXThe Wall Street Journal reports that SpaceX’s anticipated Falcon Heavy rocket – which is scheduled for its first flight Tuesday – faces an uncertain commercial market and does not immediately factor into US plans to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station or on lunar and deep-space missions. Although initially developed to overcome the problem of weaker boosters, commercial demand for heavy-lift rockets has declined as both military and commercial satellites have continued to shrink in size and small satellites have grown in popularity. Additionally, Space X CEO Elon Musk anticipates that the company’s Big Falcon Rocket also in development will be its chosen vehicle for manned Mars missions. However, the Falcon Heavy is advertised as costing just $100 million per mission, with twice the cargo capacity of its closest competitor at a quarter the cost. American University space historian Howard McCurdy argues that such a rocket may make a permanent lunar base economically feasible. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
More Info (Wall Street Journal)


2 February 2018
Russia To Offer ISS Spacewalks For Tourists

BruceMcCandless_STS-41-B_NASAThe