Aerospace History Timeline
Learn how today’s aerospace world evolved ... from the earliest dreams of flying ... to the 12-second airplane flight that gave humanity its wings ... to a planet driven by aerospace and now venturing ever deeper into space.
Take a tour through the entire history of aerospace. Beginning in 3500 BC, we invite you to browse through the many contributions made to flight – right up to today’s most important developments.
Click on the timeline accordion below to view decades of accomplishments. Is an important milestone missing from our timeline? Please contact AIAA's Web Editor, Lawrence Garrett.
- October 4, 2019 – Oceanography Satellite Mission Ends After 11 Years – A joint U.S.-European satellite mission that measured rising sea levels for 11 years ends due to the deteriorating condition of the spacecraft’s power system. During its 11-year mission, the Jason 2 satellite outlived its design life and continued collecting precise sea level measurements through the launch of a replacement spacecraft.
- October 2, 2019 – UPS Wins FAA Approval for Drone Deliveries Nationwide – UPS announces it is the first to receive approval from the FAA to operate a nationwide fleet of drones. In its announcement, UPS says it will initially set up its drone delivery program specifically for hospital campuses nationwide before expanding to other industries outside of healthcare, since the FAA has yet to write regulations to allow commercial drone flights over populated areas.
- September 28, 2019 – Japanese Cargo Spacecraft Reaches ISS – JAXA’s eighth re-supply mission spacecraft reaches the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver more than four tons of crew supplies and equipment.
- September 24, 2019 – JAXA, NASA Sign Lunar Exploration Agreement – JAXA and NASA sign an agreement to cooperate in U.S.-led efforts to establish a sustainable human presence at the Moon in preparation for expeditions to Mars.
- September 19, 2019 – Boeing MQ-25 UAV Makes First Test Flight – A test asset for the MQ-25 unmanned tanker completes the first test flight at an airport in Illinois, the U.S. Navy and Boeing announce.
- September 10, 2019 – LAPD Adds UAVs To Arsenal – UAVs become a permanent part of the Los Angeles Police Department’s crime-fighting arsenal. Regulations are approved by the five-member civilian Police Commission, authorizing the drones’ use in specific situations, including active shooters, barricaded suspects and search warrants.
- September 9, 2019 – Delivery Company Unveils UAV Quadcopter – UAV delivery service provider Flirtey unveils its Eagle, a boxy quadcopter that it expects will begin delivering food and packages to households by the end of the year.
- August 26, 2019 – X-37B Military Space Plane Breaks Record On Latest Military Mission – At 6:43 a.m. ET, the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane surpasses its spaceflight-duration record of 717 days, 20 hours and 42 minutes, initially set during the previous mission, known as Orbital Test Vehicle 4 (OTV-4).
- August 23, 2019 – NASA Activates Deep Space Atomic Clock – NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) mission team confirms that the clock has been activated successfully. The mercury-ion atomic clock, launched in June, is now in orbit around Earth and ready to begin a year-long tech demo. The DSAC, developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is meant to be the first clock that can guide crewless spacecraft to deep space destinations.
- August 22, 2019 – ULA Launches Last Ever ‘Single Stick’ Delta IV Rocket From Cape Canaveral – A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket, lifting off from Launch Complex 37, is the last launch featuring the “single stick” medium-lift variant.
- August 21, 2019 – Astronauts Install Docking Port On ISS During Spacewalk – NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Drew Morgan conduct a spacewalk during which the duo equips the ISS with a second set of hardware to accommodate two simultaneous U.S. segment dockings.
- August 14, 2019 – FAA Approves Kansas For First BVLOS UAV Flight – The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) announces that the first-ever beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operation using only onboard detect-and-avoid systems in the U.S. will be conducted in Kansas following FAA approval.
- July 30, 2019 – DHS Issues Cybersecurity Alert For Small Airplanes – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues a security alert for small planes, warning that modern flight systems are vulnerable to hacking if someone manages to gain physical access to the aircraft.
- July 24, 2019 – Apollo 11 Celebrations Culminate With Space Center Houston Party – Apollo 11 computress Mary Ellen Shirley joins a group of visitors to Space Center Houston celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 crew’s return to Earth. At the event, Shirley claps along with a Beatles tribute band, while those around her dance and twirl tiny American flags above their heads.
- July 20, 2019 – SpaceX Cargo Ship Arrives At ISS – A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship docks with the International Space Station bringing 5,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the outpost including a new docking mechanism that will provide a second port for commercial crew ships being built by Boeing and SpaceX.
- July 20, 2019 – Soyuz MS-13 Crew Launches To ISS On Moon Landing Anniversary – NASA astronaut Drew Morgan, Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov, and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano launch for the International Space Station, where they plan to contribute to research supporting the return of humans to the moon in the near future. The Soyuz MS-13 crew’s liftoff occurrs 50 years to the day after Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down at Tranquility Base.
- July 16, 2019 – Apollo 11 Astronaut Returns To Launch Pad Where First Humans Lifted Off For The Moon – Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins returns to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where he flew to the moon 50 years ago along with the late Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
- July 1, 2019 – NASA’s TESS Mission Finds Small Planet – NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovers a tiny planet, L 98-59b, which is the smallest one it has found to date. A NASA statement says that the planet is roughly 10 percent smaller than the previously smallest planet found by TESS.
- June 28, 2019 – US Navy Declares IOC For Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout Helicopter – The U.S. Navy declares initial operational capability (IOC) for the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, paving the way for the UAV to start fleet operations and training.
- June 27, 2019 – First HondaJets Delivered In Hawaii To Wing Spirit – Honda Aircraft delivers its first two HondaJet Elite light jets to Wing Spirit, a newly established interisland charter operator, at an event at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii. Wing Spirit is exploring using the jets as air ambulances and for aviation education opportunities throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
- June 26, 2019 – AIAA Hosts Educational Event Honoring Apollo Anniversary – NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California partners with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Antelope Valley chapter, to host an Apollo 50th anniversary event called ‘Small Steps to Giant Leaps’ at Eastside High School.
- June 26, 2019 – North Dakota DOT Receives FAA Waiver To Operate UAS Over People – The North Dakota DOT receives a four-year waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to routinely operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over people. Through its waiver, the state agency will use a DJI Mavic 2 drone equipped with a ParaZero SafeAir parachute system.
- June 24, 2019 – Soyuz Capsule Returns ISS Crew To Earth After 204 Days In Space – Roscosmos astronaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques return to Earth after spending more than 200 days on board the International Space Station. The three land aboard Russia’s Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft after touching down southeast of the town of Zhezkazgan on the steppe of Kazakhstan.
- June 24, 2019 – DJI Denies Sending UAV Data To China – Chinese UAV manufacturer DJI tells a Senate subcommittee that it doesn’t collect or share any drone data, including flight logs, photos or videos, without the consent of its users.
- June 22, 2019 – NASA Launches its Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) – NASA launches its Deep Space Atomic Clock, or DSAC, a technology demonstration of a small, ultra-precise, mercury-ion atomic clock, placed into Earth's orbit to test its potential as a next-generation tool for spacecraft navigation, radio science and global positioning systems.
- June 20, 2019 – USAF Demonstrates New Counter-UAV Microwave Weapon – The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico demonstrates a new high-powered microwave weapon that can instantaneously down swarms of enemy drones. In the demonstration, the Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder, or THOR, system, disables the unmanned aerial vehicle in a flash, sending it spiraling to the ground the moment the electromagnetic ray hits it.
- June 19, 2019 – Boeing Announces Relocation of Space HQ To Florida Space Coast – The Boeing Company announces it will move its space and launch business unit’s headquarters from Virginia to Titusville, along the revitalized Florida Space Coast.
- June 6, 2019 – Historic Aircraft, Paratroopers Take Flight Again To Commemorate 75th Anniversary Of D-Day – As part of events to honor the military service of airborne soldiers who took part in the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion, a fleet of C-47 transport planes drop approximately 200 parachutists over Normandy, France. Among the jumpers are World War II paratrooper veterans, and others, who jump with World War II souvenirs, some carrying items their grandfathers took into battle.
- June 3, 2019 – Dragon Capsule Returns To Port With 2.1 Tons Of Cargo – SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft returns to Earth with more than 4,200 pounds (1,900 kilograms) of equipment.
- May 22, 2019 – Cosmonauts Complete Spacewalk, Honor Spacewalk Pioneer – Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin step outside the International Space Station where the pair send birthday greetings to former cosmonaut Alexey Leonov, the first man to walk in space, before pressing ahead with scheduled maintenance work.
- May 21, 2019 – NASA Tests UAV Management System For Cities – NASA launches the final stage of a four-year effort to develop a national traffic management system for UAVs. The agency is testing beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights of UAVs in cities for the first time, as businesses look to deploy the unmanned devices above busy streets and buildings.
- April 23, 2019 – Mars Lander Records What’s Likely First Detected Marsquake – NASA’s robotic probe InSight has detects and measures what scientists believe to be a ‘marsquake,’ marking the first time a likely seismological tremor is recorded on another planet, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California reports.
- April 13, 2019 – World’s Largest Plane Makes First Flight Over California – The world’s largest aircraft takes off over the Mojave Desert in California, the first flight for the carbon-composite plane built by Stratolaunch Systems Corp. Theaircraft has a wingspan the length of an American football field and is powered by six engines on a twin fuselage. The flight takes off shortly before 7 a.m. Pacific time and stays aloft for more than two hours before landing safely back at the Mojave Air and Space Port as a crowd of hundreds of people cheer.
- April 11, 2019 – NASA Twins Study Shows Impact Of Time Spent In Space – Researchers publish the results of the NASA Twins Study, which find both temporary and permanent changes to astronaut Scott Kelly’s biological makeup and genetic mutations. Researchers studied the impact of time spent in space by comparing astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days in space on the ISS, with his identical twin brother, Mark Kelly.
- April 9, 2019 – Alphabet’s Wing UAVs Launches Commercial Drone Delivery Service In Australia – Alphabet’s startup Wing launches its commercial drone delivery service in North Canberra, Australia. The UAVs will deliver fresh food, hot coffee and over-the-counter health products to customers’ homes.
- March 29, 2019 – Gulfstream G650ER Sets Speed, Distance Jet Flight Record – Gulfstream sets a new city-pair speed record after the G650ER flies from Singapore to Tucson, Arizona, in 15 hours and 23 minutes, eclipsing the previous record by 44 minutes, set by a Bombardier Global 7500. The flight also establishes a new record for the farthest business jet flight in history.
- March 29, 2019 –Japan Declares F-35A Squadron Initial-Operation-Capable – Japan’s air force stands up its first operational F-35A fighter squadron, the 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron. The nation joins the US and other military services with operational F-35 squadrons, marking the first F-35 IOC for an Indo-Pacific region customer.
- March 26, 2019 – VP Pence Says US Is In A New Space Race With China And Russia – In remarks during the fifth meeting of the National Space Council (NSC) at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Vice President Mike Pence says, “Make no mistake about it – we’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s, and the stakes are even higher.” Adds Pence, “The United States must remain first in space in this century as in the last, not just to propel our economy and secure our nation but, above all, because the rules and values of space, like every great frontier, will be written by those who have the courage to get there first and the commitment to stay.”
- March 24, 2019 –Bombardier’s Global 7500 Aircraft Breaks Key Speed Record Between Los Angeles and New York – Bombardier's Global 7500 business jet departs Van Nuys Airport at 7:01 AM local time, and arrives at Teterboro Airport at 1:55 PM local time, completing the coast-to-coast mission in 3 hours and 54 minutes, beating the previously held record established by a competing aircraft manufacturer and making it the fastest business jet ever to complete this route.
- March 19, 2019 – OSIRIS-REx Finds Surprises At Bennu Asteroid – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, flying in close formation with a tiny asteroid named Bennu, finds clear signs of water-rich clays on its rock-strewn surface, as well as another mineral – magnetite – that forms in aqueous environments, project scientists announce.
- March 18, 2019 – NASA Announces It Wants To Put A Rover On The Moon By 2023 – NASA officials announce at a NASA town hall during the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference that the agency seeks to land a rover on the moon by 2023.
- March 12, 2019 – Toyota, JAXA Partner To Develop Moon Rover – Japan’s space agency announces that they have agreed to cooperate with Toyota to develop a crewed lunar rover that runs on fuel cell technologies.
- March 8, 2019 – SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Arrives At Port Canaveral – SpaceX's Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 am Eastern time about 250 miles east of Kennedy Space Center in Florida, roughly six hours after undocking.
- March 7, 2019 – USAF Completes First Flight Test Of XQ-58A Valkyrie Demonstrator – The USAF completes the first flight test of the long-range, high subsonic unmanned air vehicle, XQ-58A Valkyrie demonstrator at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona.
- February 27, 2019 – US Navy Declares Lockheed Martin F-35C Has Achieved IOC – The US Navy announces that the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II has achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC). The Navy’s first F-35C squadron completes aircraft carrier qualifications aboard the USS Carl Vinson and receives a Safe-For-Flight Operations Certification.
- February 27, 2019 – Boeing Unveils Unmanned Combat Jet Developed In Australia – The Boeing Company unveils a prototype fighter-like jet developed in Australia and designed to fly alongside crewed aircraft in combat for a fraction of the cost. The multi-role, uncrewed aircraft is Australia’s first domestically developed combat aircraft since World War II.
- February 19, 2019 – NASA Selects Organizations In Texas, Nevada To Test UAV Traffic Management – NASA chooses two organizations to host the last stage of technical demonstrations involving drones: the Lone Star UAS Center for Excellence & Innovation in Corpus Christi, Texas; and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems in Las Vegas. The two locations will host demonstrations to confirm that NASA’s UAS Traffic Management system can safely and effectively manage drone traffic in an urban area.
- February 14, 2019 – Airbus Shuts Down A380 – Airbus announces it will be abandoning the production of the A380 superjumbo due to lackluster sales, with the last A380 scheduled to be delivered in 2021.
- February 11, 2019 – Virgin Galactic Donates SpaceShipTwo Rocket Motor To Smithsonian – Virgin Galactic announces that the SpaceShipTwo rocket motor has been donated to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and will be exhibited in its Future of Spaceflight gallery, due to open in 2024.
- February 5, 2019 – Delta Celebrates First Flights Of P&W-Powered Airbus A220 – The first flights of Delta’s first Airbus A220 jets take off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport with one flight to Boston and another to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Equipped with new Pratt and Whitney geared turbofan engines, the A220s have higher fuel efficiency compared with other models.
- February 5, 2019 – Boeing Announces Investment In Aerion’s Supersonic Business Jets – The Boeing Company announces that it has made a sizable investment in supersonic business jet developer Aerion. Boeing plans to provide engineering, manufacturing, and flight testing services for Aerion’s $120 million supersonic business jet, slated for first flight in 2023.
- January 25, 2019 – US Air Force Receives First Two Boeing KC-46 Tankers – The US Air Force’s first two Boeing KC-46 tankers touch down at McConnell Air Force base in Kansas after departing the company’s Everett, Washington, facility.
- January 25, 2019 – Blue Origin Opens Alabama Rocket Engine Plant – Blue Origin celebrates the groundbreaking of a new rocket engine production facility in Huntsville, Alabama. The plant will produce Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine.
- January 24, 2019 – ISRO Successfully Launches Military Satellite In First Mission of 2019 – India launches its first rocket of 2019, lifting two payloads into orbit: a military imaging satellite and a student-built orbital laboratory. The ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launches from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
- January 22, 2019 – Boeing’s Self-Flying Taxi Prototype Completes First Test Flight – The Boeing Company's flying car prototype hovers briefly in the air during an inaugural test flight. The 30-foot-long hybrid aircraft, part helicopter, part drone, and part fixed-wing plane, lifts a few feet off the ground and makes a soft landing after less than a minute of being airborne.
- January 16, 2019 – F-22 Receives First Metal 3D-Printed Component – A metallic 3D-printed component is installed on an operational F-22 Raptor for the first time, which the Air Force hopes will lower costs and reduce maintenance time.
- January 14, 2019 – China Exchanges Data On Lunar Landing With NASA – China exchanges data with NASA regarding its recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency says, in what is the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval.
- January 13, 2019 – Boeing 727 Makes Final Commercial Flight– The final Boeing 727 commercial aircraft to carry passengers makes its last flight. The flight, operated by Iran Aseman Airlines, is a two-hour domestic route from Zahedan to Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport.
- January 10, 2019 – SpaceX Reveals Starship Test Rocket– SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announces that assembly of the test-flight version of SpaceX's Mars-conolnizing Starship vehicle is complete, and posts a photo of the vehicle to Twitter.
- January 2, 2019 – New Horizons Transmits Images Of Ultima Thule – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft – 4 billion miles from Earth – yields its first close-up pictures of the most distant celestial object ever explored: the icy space object Ultima Thule.
- December 21, 2018 – Rockets Launch At Highest Rate In Two Decades In 2018 – Across the globe, more than 100 orbital launches take place in 2018, the highest rate in two decades.
- December 18, 2018 – Airbus Helicopters Successfully Completes H160’s First Flight – Airbus Helicopters successfully carries out the first flight of the initial serial production H160 twin-engine medium helicopter, as the company prepares for European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certification in late 2019.
- December 17, 2018 – Gulfstream G650ER Sets World Speed Record – Gulfstream Aerospace sets a world speed record in a G650ER on a flight from Teterboro, New Jersey, to Dubai, a distance of 6,142 nm in 11 hr., 2 min. at an average speed of Mach 0.90, beating the previous record by one hour, 48 minutes.
- December 12, 2018 – China’s Chang’e-4 Spacecraft Successfully Enters Lunar Orbit – China’s Chang’e-4 lander and rover spacecraft successfully enters lunar orbit following a four-and-half-day flight to the moon.
- December 10, 2018 – NASA’s Voyager 2 Probe Enters Interstellar Space – NASA’s Voyager 2 probe, launched in 1977 and designed for just a five-year mission, becomes only the second human-made object to enter interstellar space as it continues its marathon trek billions of miles from Earth.
- December 3, 2018 – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Reaches Bennu Asteroid – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reaches the Bennu asteroid after a two-year chase, pulling within 12 miles of the space rock.
- December 3, 2018 – Russian Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With ISS – A Russian Soyuz FG rocket successfully launches into orbit carrying three crew members on a six-hour flight to the International Space Station. The spacecraft docks at the stations's upper Poisk module at 12:33 p.m. EDT.
- November 28, 2018 – US, UK Reach Post-Brexit Open Skies Agreement – The US and Britain reach an agreement to maintain air service between the two countries after Brexit.
- November 26, 2018 – NASA’s InSight Lander Set Solar Power Record – NASA’s InSight lander touches down on Mars and hours later successfully extends its large solar arrays thus setting a record for generating more electrical power in one day than any previous Mars vehicle has during its first day on the red planet.
- November 26, 2018 – Airbus Delivers First A330neo – Airbus delivers its first A330neo jet to TAP Portugal.
- November 19, 2018 – Musk Announces Renaming of BFR to Starship, Super Heavy – SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announces that SpaceX's next-generation launch system, previously known as the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) has a new name: Starship and Super Heavy.
- November 19, 2018 – NASA Announces Landing Site For Mars 2020 Rover – NASA announces that its next Mars rover will search the Jezero Crater and delta for the chemical building blocks of life and other signs of past microbes. The rover is scheduled to launch in July 2020.
- November 18, 2018 – Virgin Orbit Completes First Captive Carry Flight – Lockheed Martin’s experimental X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft, designed to cruise at 55,000 feet and reach speeds of about 940 miles per hour, officially enters production, as part of a $250 million NASA contract.
- November 16, 2018 – X-59 Supersonic Jet Enters Production – Virgin Orbit successfully performs the first captive carry flight of its LauncherOne air-launch system, moving the company closer to first flight.
- November 10, 2018 – JAXA HSRC Survives Re-Entry – JAXA’s HTV Small Re-Entry Capsule (HSRC) becomes the first Japanese spacecraft to bring experiments back to Earth from the space station. The HSRC is released from the Japanese HTV-7 cargo resupply vessel during reentry following a deorbit burn before beginning its own descent. The capsule is recovered and brought to JAXA headquarters at the Tsukuba Space Center for analysis.
- October 29, 2018 – NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Sets Record For Closest Approach To Sun – NASA’s Parker Solar Probe moves closer to the sun than any spacecraft before, passing the previous record of 26.6 million miles (43 million kilometers) set by Helios-2 back in 1976, and is expected to keep approaching until it flies through the corona, or outer atmosphere, passing within 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) of the solar surface.
- October 18, 2018 – US Navy Commissions First UAV Test Squadron – The US Navy formally commissions its first test squadron dedicated to UAVs
- October 18, 2018 – US Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Passes 400 Days In Orbit – The US Air Force’s X-37B space plane passes the 400-day mark for its classified mission in orbit. The Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-5) mission begins October 7, 2017 when it launches mounted atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
- October 14, 2018 – Second NASA Space Telescope Enters Safe Mode – A second NASA space telescope shuts down and halts science observations. Less than a week after the Hubble Space Telescope goes offline, the Chandra X-ray Observatory experiences a similar issue.
- October 11, 2018 – Pentagon Temporarily Grounds F-35 – The Pentagon orders a temporary pause in all F-35 fighter jet flights in order to inspect the fleet in the wake of a September crash 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.
- October 10, 2018 – US Navy Begins Formal F-35C Testing – The US Navy begins to formally test the operation of an F-35C stealth fighter intended to demonstrate fulfillment of the service’s requirements.
- October 9, 2018 – Insitu Debuts UAV With “ID-Capable” Camera – Insitu unveils a new UAV, the Alticam-14, which has video imaging capability high enough in quality to positively identify people from the air.
- October 5, 2018 – Trump Signs FAA Reauthorization Bill – President Donald Trump signs the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, extending FAA funding through 2023 just ahead of an October 7 deadline.
- October 5, 2018 – Hubble Space Telescope Disabled After Gyroscope Fails – The Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s jewel of the skies, goes temporarily offline. The telescope enters into a safe mode after one of its gyroscopes fails. NASA appoints a review board to investigate the gyroscope problem.
- October 3, 2018 – NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Successfully Passes Venus – NASA’s Parker Solar Probe passes within 1,500 miles of Venus on its way to study the sun.
- October 1, 2018 – NASA Commemorates 60th Anniversary – NASA celebrates its 60th anniversary with a variety of largely virtual events, including a recorded statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
- September 25, 2018 – Lockheed Martin Opens Innovation Lab In Orlando – Lockheed Martin opens its new innovation lab demonstrating technologies including 3D printers, virtual and augmented reality headsets and a robotics lab.
- September 18, 2018 – US Air Force Completes First Automated MQ-9 Landing, Takeoff – The US Air Force successfully completes the first automated landing and take-off of an MQ-9 Block 5 UAV.
- September 13, 2018 – SpaceX Announces Plan To Fly Private Passengers Around The Moon – SpaceX announces that it has signed the first private passenger to fly around the moon aboard the company’s BFR launch vehicle.
- September 12, 2018 – NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Successfully Completes Final Parachute Test – A test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully lands under three parachutes, completing the final parachute test to get the vehicle ready for a journey around the moon and back.
- September 11, 2018 – US, Japan Successfully Test Aegis Missile Defense System – The US and Japan successfully test Japan’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system off the coast of Hawaii. During the test, a simple, separating ballistic missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands in Kauai, Hawaii, is intercepted above the Pacific by an upgraded standard missile 3.
- September 11, 2018 – Effective Space, IAI Announce Satellite Servicing Partnership – Effective Space and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announce a partnership 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.
- August 24, 2018 – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Captures First Images Of Bennu Asteroid – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captures its first images of the Bennu asteroid 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 “represents the beginning of the great scientific experiment that is OSIRIS-REx.” (Per The Orlando Sentinel)
- August 23, 2018 – US Aims For “Permanent Presence” on Moon – In a talk to NASA personnel at Johnson Space Center, Vice President Mike Pence enthusiastically backs a plan to put American astronauts on a new space station in lunar orbit by 2024.
- August 9, 2018 – NASA Approves SpaceX “Load-And-Go” Procedure For Crew Launches – NASA approves 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.
- August 7, 2018 – Wing Conducts First UAV Package Delivery In Virginia – Wing, an Alphabet subsidiary, conducts its first UAV package delivery. Jackson Smith, a 2-year-old from Montgomery County, Virginia, becomes the recipient of the most advanced drone package delivery to date in the United States, according to those who conduct the operation.
- August 2, 2018 – NASA’s Kepler Telescope Wakes Up, Phones Home – NASA’s Kepler space telescope wakes up from a four-week hibernation and has begins beaming data home, as planned.
- July 20, 2018 – Gulfstream G500 Earns FAA Type, Production Certificates – Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announces the Gulfstream G500 receives both its type certification and production certificate from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These certifications pave the way for the first completed G500 delivery.
- June 29, 2018 – NASA Issues RFP For Second Mobile Launch Platform – NASA calls 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.
- June 27, 2018 – AeroVironment, JPL Announce Collaboration To Build NASA’s Mars Helicopter – AeroVironment announces it will collaborate with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to build the agency’s Mars Helicopter planned to fly on Mars. The helicopter is expected to 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.
- June 15, 2018 – Record-Breaking NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Retires – Peggy Whitson, NASA’s record-breaking astronaut, retires. Overall, Whitson spends more time in space than any other American: 665 days over three space station missions; completes 10 spacewalks during her tenure – the most of any American; is the first woman to command the International Space Station, holding the position twice; and is the oldest woman ever to fly in space.
- June 12, 2018 – Unmanned NASA Aircraft Flies Solo For First Time – NASA flies 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. The flight, which takes place over California, moves the US closer to allowing unmanned aircraft operation within the US national airspace.
- June 7, 2018 – FAA Expands UAV No-Fly Zones Over Federal Facilities – The FAA names 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.
- May 21, 2018 – Cygnus Spacecraft Successfully Launches Aboard Antares – A Cygnus spacecraft, carrying about 7,400 pounds of supplies, cargo and research equipment, successfully launches 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.
- May 18, 2018 – FAA Approves Boeing 777 Folding Wingtips – The FAA approves a foldable wingtip design for The Boeing Company’s 777 jets. The design, which will be incorporated in the planemaker’s 777-8 and 777-9s models, will allow the bigger wings to fit into the standard-sized airport parking space.
- May 9, 2018 – DOT Selects Ten Sites For UAV Integration Pilot Program – 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. 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.
- May 5, 2018 – SpaceX’s Reused Dragon Cargo Carrier Splashes Down In Pacific Ocean – An automated SpaceX supply ship parachutes into the Pacific Ocean, 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 successful splashdown marks the conclusion of SpaceX’s 14th resupply mission to the space station and the third round-trip cargo flight with a reused Dragon capsule.
- May 3, 2018 – Boeing’s Insitu Debuts ScanEagle3 UAV – Boeing subsidiary Insitu debuts its ScanEagle3 UAV, promoting the UAV as a primarily commercial product that is free of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that govern its other aircraft, such as the ScanEagle2 and Integrator.
- April 23, 2018 – United Airlines Receives First 737 Max – United Airlines takes delivery of its first Boeing 737 Max 9, marking the variant’s debut at a US carrier.
- April 13, 2018 – New Cruise Missiles Used In Strikes On Syria – A joint US, French, and British missile attack on Syria includes the battlefield debut of a stealthy new Lockheed Martin Corp. air-launched cruise missile. Nineteen Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs) are fired from two B-1B bombers outside Syrian airspace during the attack. The final flight of the fighter’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase is made from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD.
- April 11, 2018 – F-35 Program Completes Development Phase – Lockheed Martin Vice President and F-35 Program General Manager Greg Ulmer declares that its F-35 program has completed the “most comprehensive flight-test program in aviation history.” (Per Aviation International News)
- April 5, 2018 – Virgin Galactic Completes First Powered Flight Since Fatal 2014 Crash – Virgin Galactic successfully tests its SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity suborbital vehicle, the company’s first powered flight in nearly 3.5 years, following the tragic loss of SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise on Oct 31, 2014.
- April 4, 2018 – SpaceX Dragon Cargo Capsule Reaches ISS – A SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying 6,000 pounds of food, experiments and other goods for NASA arrives at the International Space Station after a two-day journey.
- March 30, 2018 – US Navy Remotely Lands F/A-18 Super Hornet On Carrier – The US Navy announces that they have demonstrated for the first time the ability to remotely take control of an aircraft and land it on an aircraft carrier’s deck. During two days of testing, in March 2018, otfficers aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln land 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 demonstrate touch-and-go manoeuvres with the system. During testing, operators control an F/A-18 aircraft using a joystick, while a safety pilot sits in the cockpit as backup.
- March 28, 2018 – South Korea Takes Delivery Of First Of 40 F-35s – The first F-35 Lightning II fighter produced for South Korea’s order of 40 fighters is unveiled at a joint ceremony between manufacturer Lockheed Martin, the Korean Air Force and the US government.
- March 26, 2018 – Bell Flight Demonstrates Urban Air Taxi Concept At Heli-Expo Conference – Bell Flight demonstrates its Urban Air Taxi concept at the 2018 Heli-Expo conference.
- March 25, 2018 – Boeing Delivers First 787-10, Completing Dreamliner Family – The Boeing Company delivers its first 787-10 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong calls the jet a “beautiful aircraft” and an “unparalleled product for regional operations.” (per Reuters)
- March 16, 2018 – Boeing 737 MAX 7 Successfully Completes First Flight – The Boeing Company's 737 Max 7, the newest member of Boeing’s family of jets, completes its first flight, which is conducted over the snowcaps of the Cascade Mountains.
- March 13, 2018 – Orbital ATK Unveils New Satellite Servicing Vehicle – Orbital ATK company executives announce plans at the Satellite 2018 conference to develop the Mission Robotic Vehicle and Mission Extension Pods, for geostationary satellites that are running out of fuel.
- March 13, 2018 – Boeing Completes 10,000th 737 Jet – The Boeing Company rolls out its 10,000th 737 jet, which marked its 50th anniversary in April 2017.
- March 9, 2018 – US Air Force Retires Predator UAV – The US Air Force retires the General Atomics Predator UAV from its inventory.
- March 6, 2018 – SpaceX Launches 50th Falcon 9 Rocket – SpaceX achieves a milestone for its Falcon 9 with a successful launch from Kennedy Space Center. Liftoff occurrs at 12:33 a.m EST marking the 50th launch of the company’s signature rocket since making its first successful flight in 2010.
- February 27, 2018 – US Air Force Resumes Flights Of T-6 Trainers – The US Air Force resumes flights of its T-6 Texan II trainers after a rash of hypoxia-like scares grounded them for nearly a month.
- February 24, 2018 – Japan Receives First F-35A Fighter – The first F-35A directly assigned to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) lands at Misawa Air Base, Japan, the first of 42 F-35As assigned to the JASDF.
- February 9, 2018 – NASA New Horizons Spacecraft Breaks Record With Deep Space Photos – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft breaks a record by taking photographs from the farthest distance from Earth to date. The photographs break the record of the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which had beamed back the famous “Pale Blue Dot” photograph.
- February 8, 2018 – China Debuts Military UAVs At Singapore Airshow For First Public Appearance In Southeast Asia – State-owned China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) demonstrates two versions of its Wing Loong reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial system at the Singapore Airshow, the drone’s first public appearance in Southeast Asia, according to trade media.
- February 7, 2018 – Sierra Nevada Receives NASA Approval For First Dream Chaser ISS Mission – Sierra Nevada Corporation announces that it has received authority to proceed with its initial cargo mission in support of the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2020 using its Dream Chaser spacecraft.
- February 7, 2018 – ISS Spacewalk Breaks Cosmonauts’ Record – A spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov, members of Expedition 38, becomes the longest Russian spacewalk to date, breaking the previous record of 8 hours and 7 minutes set by Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanskiy Dec. 27.
- February 6, 2018 – SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy for First Time – SpaceX’s First Falcon Heavy rocket launches from Cape Canveral at 3:45 p.m. ET carrying Elon Musk's 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.
- February 5, 2018 – Boeing Debuts MAX 7 Jet – The Boeing Company introduces its Boeing 737 MAX 7 jet, the third and smallest version of the new 737 jet family, to reporters and employees at its Renton, WA, plant.
- January 31, 2018 – Airbus Vahana Autonomous Aircraft Completes First Flight Test – Airbus’s Vahana electric self-piloted aircraft successfully completes its first full-scale flight test. The aircraft reportedly reaches a height of 16 feet before landing safely at a site in Pendleton, Oregon.
- January 23, 2018 – Boeing Completes Dreamliner Flight Tests With Rolls-Royce Engines – Boeing announces the completion of flight tests of its newly certified 787-10 Dreamliner with Rolls-Royce engines.
- January 15, 2018 – Norwegian 787 Sets Transatlantic Speed Record – A Norwegian Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner breaks the record for the fastest ever transatlantic flight in a subsonic passenger aircraft, flying from JFK to London Gatwick in just over five hours. The plane reaches a top speed of 776mph aided by an extra strong jet stream that at times reaches 202 mph.
- December 21, 2017 – Bell V-280 Valor Takes Flight For First Time – Bell Helicopter’s prototype V-280 Valor tiltrotror lifts vertically off the ground and hovers in ground effect for the first time. The helicopter performs basic handling tests in hover mode outside Bell’s tiltrotor production site in Amarillo, Texas, including a rapid pedal turn.
- December 19, 2017 – Boeing Unveils MQ-25 Tanker UAV Prototype – The Boeing Company unveils its prototype for the MQ-25 Stingray tanker UAV.
- December 14, 2017 – ISS Crew Returns – A capsule bearing three astronauts from the International Space Station lands in Kazakhstan after a five-month mission. NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy end their stints aboard the space station.
- December 1, 2017 – Soyuz Rocket Lost After Maneuvering In Wrong Direction – A Russian Soyuz spacecraft that vanishes after takeoff is lost because technicians did not reprogram the rocket so that it was aware it was launching from Vostochny spaceport in Russia rather than the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket tries to fix its position based on the old co-ordinates, and as a result maneuvers in the wrong direction.
- November 15, 2017 – Northrop Grumman Completes First E-2D Flight For Japan – Northrop Grumman performs the first flight of Japan’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning and surveillance aircraft.
- November 14, 2017 – An Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft – Northrop Grumman announces it has delivered the first operational MQ-4C Triton aircraft to the U.S. Navy facility at Point Mugu.
- November 10, 2017 – Northrop Grumman Delivers First Operational MQ-4C Triton UAV To US Navy – named the the S.S. Gene Cernan in honor of the late NASA astronaut – arrives at the ISS to deliver more than three tons of fresh food, supplies, and science experiments.
- November 8, 2017 – Apollo 12 Astronaut Richard Gordon Passes At 88 – Apollo 12 astronaut Richard Gordon Jr., one of a dozen men who flew around the moon but didn’t land there, dies. Gordon, a chemist and Navy captain, was part of NASA’s third group of astronauts in 1963, and flew on Gemini 11 in 1966, walking in space twice. He also circled the moon on Apollo 12, spending nearly 316 hours in space between the two missions.
- November 6, 2017 – Apollo 12 Astronaut Richard Gordon Passes At 88 – Apollo 12 astronaut Richard Gordon Jr., one of a dozen men who flew around the moon but didn’t land there, dies. Gordon, a chemist and Navy captain, was part of NASA’s third group of astronauts in 1963, and flew on Gemini 11 in 1966, walking in space twice. He also circled the moon on Apollo 12, spending nearly 316 hours in space between the two missions.
- November 1, 2017 – Orbital ATK Completes Static Test Fire Of 3D-Printed Rocket Nozzle – Orbital ATK completes static test firings of a solid rocket motor prototype produced using an additive manufacturing process, or 3D-printing, the first such industry demonstration..
- October 30, 2017 – US Air Force F-35 Fighters Arrive In Japan – The first two of 12 US Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets arrived in Okinawa to begin a six-month deployment in Japan as part of US Pacific Command’s theater security program, marking the first time the Air Force F-35s have been deployed to the region.
- October 24, 2017 – Caltech Opens Lab To Improve How UAVs, Robots Work With Humans – The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) opens a new lab aimed at improving the ability of drones and robots to think and react independently. The lab, known as the Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies, brings together experts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and multiple fields – including aeronautics, machine learning, geology, planetary science and computer science – to build next-gen UAVs and robots capable of helping humans gather big data, respond to disasters and explore space, as well as the deepest parts of the ocean and other unreachable corners of the world.
- October 22, 2017 – Stephen Hawking’s Thesis Made Publicly Available For First Time – Stephen Hawking’s 1966 doctoral thesis is made available to the public for the first time at midnight, October 22, 2017. The thesis, “Properties of Expanding Universes,” quickly becomes the most requested item in Cambridge’s Apollo repository.
- October 19, 2017 – Amazon Patents UAV With Ability To Recharge Electric Vehicles – Amazon patents a UAV with the ability to locate and connect with an electric vehicle, even one that is moving, in order to charge it. The technology has the potential to solve several persistent problems in the electric vehicle market: charging infrastructure and range anxiety.
- October 18, 2017 – CNN Receives First FAA Waiver Allowing UAV Flights Over Crowds – CNN receives a first-of-its-kind waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing the network to fly UAVs above crowds.
- October 16, 2017 – UAV Collides With SkyJet Flight In Canada – A UAV collides with a SkyJet Airlines flight on approach to Jean Lesage International Airport in Québec City, hitting the wing of a Beechcraft King Air 100, marking the first time a drone hits a commercial aircraft in Canada.
- October 12, 2017 – Largest All-Electric Satellite Reaches Orbit in Record Time – The Eutelsat-172b all-electric satellite reaches its target in geostationary orbit only four months after its launch, setting an industry record for the fastest all electric orbit-raising.
- September 28, 2017 – FAA Bans UAV Flights Near Ten National Landmarks – The FAA announces no-fly drone zones at 10 Department of the Interior sites. The new rule bans UAV flights within 400 feet of the national landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, Hoover Dam, and Mount Rushmore.
- September 25, 2017 – Dubai Begins “Flying Taxi” Test Flights – Dubai stages a test flight for the world’s first drone taxi service. The aircraft is developed by German UAV company Volocopter, and resembles a small, two-seat helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop that supports 18 propellers.
- September 15, 2017 – Cassini Spacecraft Consumed In Saturn’s Atmosphere, Ends 20-Year Mission – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft burns up in the skies over Saturn as planned, ending a 20-year mission exploring the planet and its moons.
- September 5, 2017 – Experimental Airbus Glider Sets Altitude Record Above Argentina – The experimental Airbus Perlan Mission 2 glider soars above 52,000 feet, a record height for an aircraft without an engine.
- September 2, 2017 – NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Lands In Kazakhstan, Ending Record-Setting Flight – NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson lands in Kazakhstan after a record-setting space flight. Whitson, America’s most experienced astronaut with nearly two years of time in orbit across three missions, spent 288 days at the ISS before landing on Saturday, September 2, 2017, with Flight Engineer Jack Fischer and Soyuz MS-04 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin.
- August 31, 2017 – FAA Approves UAVs To Assist Harvey Recovery Efforts – The FAA authorizes 43 UAV operators to assist and report on Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Houston.
- August 30, 2017 – Boeing 747 SuperTanker Fights California Wildfire, First Such Use In US – A Global SuperTanker Service Boeing 747 is activated to fight a California wildfire, marking its first use in the United States.
- August 16, 2017 – Dragon Arrives At ISS – SpaceX’s Dragon capsule successfully docks at the ISS, delivering three tons of supplies.
- August 13, 2017 – Russia Reveals ‘Invisible’ Supersonic Fighters – Russia unveils a new “invisible” supersonic fighter fleet, difficult to track on enemy radars. The Sukhoi-57 can reach speeds of 1,615 miles per hour and is said to rival America’s F-22 and China’s Chengdu J-20.
- August 12, 2017 – NASA’s Cassini Enters Last Phase In Saturn Mission – NASA’s Cassini probe, which launched in 1997 and reached Saturn in 2004, enters its final phase and executes the first in a series of five ‘ultra-close’ dives through” Saturn’s atmosphere.
- July 14, 2017 – Russian Soyuz Rocket Launches 73 Satellites – A Russian Soyuz-2.1a rocket successfully launches 73 satellites into orbit for four companies.
- July 3, 2017 – SpaceX Dragon’s Splashdown Monday A Historic First – The splashdown of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule on July 3, 2017 marks a historic first, as it is the first spacecraft of its kind to return to Earth from space twice.
- July 3, 2017 – SpaceX Dragon’s Splashdown Monday A Historic First – The splashdown of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule on July 3, 2017 marks a historic first, as it is the first spacecraft of its kind to return to Earth from space twice.
- June 23, 2017 – F-35A Demonstrates Full Flight Ability At Paris Air Show – Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn wows spectators at the Paris Air Show with the stealthy F-35A’s impressive thrust and low-speed maneuverability, in what is the aircraft’s first air show demonstration of its full flight ability.
- June 19, 2017 – Kepler Mission Identifies 219 More Candidate Planets – NASA announces that its Kepler Space Telescope mission has discovered 219 more candidate planets in the Cygnus constellation, including 10 near-Earth-size planet candidates in the so-called habitable zone around their stars, bringing the total in Kepler’s catalog to 4,034.
- June 12, 2017 – Uber Outlines Plans For Flying Vehicle Service – Speaking at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum, Uber Director of Aviation Mark Moore outlines the vision for Uber Elevate, an airborne taxi service that will use emission-free flying vehicles.
- June 2, 2017 – Cosmonaut, Astronaut Return To Earth From ISS – Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet return to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule from the ISS.
- May 23, 2017 – NASA Astronauts Perform Emergency Spacewalk – NASA astronauts repair a critical International Space Station system during a nearly three-hour spacewalk. Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer swapped out a computer relay box that had failed three days prior.
- May 16–18, 2017 – MQ-9B UAS Flies 48.2 Hours Non-Stop – General Atomics’ MQ-9B SkyGuardian UAS sets a new company endurance record by flying non-stop for 48.2 hours, at 240 miles per hour and returning with reserve fuel. The previous record was 46.1 hours, set by the company’s Predator XP UAS.
- May 2, 2017 – Company Granted First-Of-Its-Kind FAA Approval To Fly UAVs On Las Vegas Strip – Aerospace and remote sensing services company AviSight becomes the first firm to win FAA approval to fly UAVs on Las Vegas’ resort corridor, including the Strip. The company plans to do surveying work for construction projects.
- May 1, 2017 – Virgin Galactic Completes First Test Flight Of SpaceShipTwo’s “Feather” Re-Entry System – Virgin Galactic conducts the first test flight of its second SpaceShipTwo, called VSS Unity, featuring a revamped feather atmospheric re-entry system designed to address issues revealed by the fatal 2014 crash that destroyed the original spaceship.
- May 1, 2017 – SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Payload For NRO – SpaceX successfully launches its Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center at 7:15 a.m. EDT, sending a classified National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload into orbit, the first dedicated launch for the NRO.
- April 27, 2017 – NASA Confirms Delay Of SLS Mission – NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier confirms that the agency has determined that the Space Launch System (SLS) will not be ready for launch in 2018.
- April 26, 2017 – US Test-Fires Minuteman III From Vandenberg AFB – The US Air Force test-fires a Minuteman III missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The nuclear-capable missile travels over 4,000 miles before splashing down in the South Pacific.
- April 25, 2017 – DJI Unveils Goggles Enabling First-Person View For UAV Operation – DJI unveils a set of goggles designed to provide operators of its Mavic Pro with a seamless bird’s eye view of the world in full HD.
- April 24, 2017 – Page-Backed Startup Unveils Prototype For Flying Car – Silicon Valley-based startup Kitty Hawk, backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, unveils its “flying car” prototype in a demonstration shared online.
- April 22, 2017 – Northrop Grumman Opens New North Dakota UAV Facility –Northrop Grumman officially opens its new UAV research, development, and training facility at the Grand Sky UAV business park in North Dakota.
- April 18, 2017 – Malaysia Airlines Signs Agreement For Satellite Tracking Of Aircraft – Malaysia Airlines becomes the first airline to sign an agreement for space-based flight tracking of its aircraft, reaching a deal with Aireon, SITAONAIR and FlightAware for monitoring everywhere on Earth.
- April 13, 2017 – Boeing 737 MAX-9 Makes Maiden Flight – The Boeing Company conducts the maiden flight of its 737 MAX-9 variant, completing the milestone five days ahead of schedule. The flight lasts nearly three hours, taking off from Boeing’s Renton, Washington, assembly line facility and landing at Seattle’s Boeing Field.
- April 7, 2017 – FAA Announces UAS Ban Over 133 US Military Bases – The FAA announces a ban on all unauthorized UAS operations over 133 US military bases, reflecting growing concern among top military, government, and industry officials that military facilities could become a prime target for malicious actors. The ban takes effect Friday, April 14, 2017.
- March 31, 2017 – Boeing Completes Successful Maiden Flight Of 787-10 – The Boeing Company conducts a successful maiden flight of its 787-10 Dreamliner from its North Charleston, South Carolina assembly plant.
- March 30, 2017 – SpaceX Makes Aerospace History With Launch and Landing of Used Rocket – SpaceX successfully launches a commercial satellite into space from Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket that had previously been used. The company reuses a Falcon 9 first stage, or booster, to power the launch, before landing the rocket on a floating platform in the Atlantic.
- March 27, 2017 – Juno Makes Fifth Close Flyby Of Jupiter – NASA’s Juno spacecraft completes its fifth close flyby of Jupiter. The spacecraft’s JunoCam takes close-up color photos of the planet, while all eight of its science instruments are active and collecting data.
- March 23, 2017 – Siemens’ Battery-Powered Plane Breaks Electric-Flight Speed Record – Siemens’ Extra 330LE battery-powered plane sets a new speed record for electric flight reaching more than 210mph in a test-flight in Germany. For the flight, the 330LE - a test model for Siemens’ electric propulsion development - used a powerful electric motor that weighed just 50 kilograms [110 pounds], with 260 kW of power output, to exceed the previous record by 8.4mph.
- March 16, 2017 – Canada Issues New Rules For Recreational UAVs – Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau announces new rigorous rules governing the use of recreational UAVs. The safety restrictions forbid UAV operation within nine miles of any airport, within 75 meters of buildings, vehicles or people, at night, or near emergency scenes.
- March 25, 2017 – US Air Force’s X-37B Sets New Earth-Orbiting Record – The US Air Force’s classified X-37B space plane surpassed its own record for the longest time spent orbiting Earth by a spacecraft, reaching 675 days, having eclipsed the 674-day mark set by its predecessor, OTV-3, in October 2014..
- March 16, 2017 – Canada Issues New Rules For Recreational UAVs – Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau announces new rigorous rules governing the use of recreational UAVs. The safety restrictions forbid UAV operation within nine miles of any airport, within 75 meters of buildings, vehicles or people, at night, or near emergency scenes.
- March 14, 2017 – DJI Releases Study Showing UAVs Have Saved 59 Lives – DJI releases a study that found that UAVs “have rescued at least 59 people from life-threatening conditions in 18 separate incidents” since 2013.
- March 7, 2017 – Bezos Announces Blue Origin’s First Commercial Customer – Jeff Bezos announces that Blue Origin has signed Eutelsat Communications as its first client, marking the space company’s entrance into the commercial satellite market.
- February 27, 2017 – China’s Newest Combat UAV Makes Maiden Flight – China’s latest-generation military UAV, the Wing Loong II, makes its maiden flight.
- February 22, 2017 – NASA Announces Discovery of Seven Potentially-Habitable Exoplanets – Astronomers announce that they have discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a star named TRAPPIST-1, which is 40 light years away from our Solar System. According to the report, NASA “calls the discovery of the fascinating solar system record-breaking,” and refers to the three planets in the habitable zone as TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g. Exoplanet “e” is roughly the same size as Earth and it is believed that it receives about the same level of star light as Earth.
- February 22, 2017 – Korean Air Takes Delivery of First Boeing 787-9 – Korean Air Lines takes delivery of its first Boeing 787-9. The delivery at Boeing's South Carolina assembly line is the first of the airline's order of 10 787-9s.
- February 19, 2017 – SpaceX Launches for First Time from “Historic” Launch Pad 39A – A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon capsule lifts off from historic Launch complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the first launch from pad 39A since the space shuttle program retired more than five years ago. Launch occurrs at 9:39 a.m.
- February 27, 2017 – India Launches Record 104 Satellites Into Orbit On One Rocket – The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launches a record 104 nano satellites into orbit, aboard a single rocket. The launch takes place from southern India, establishing a new record, surpassing Russia’s mark of 37 satellites in a single launch set in 2014.
- February 14, 2017 – Amazon Files Patent for Dropping Parcels from Moving UAVs – Amazon makes a patent filing for a system designed to drop parcels from moving UAVs. The filing explains that the system would “forcefully propel a package from a [UAV] while the UAV is in motion,” preventing the UAV from having to land, saving “time and energy resource inefficiencies.”
- February 1, 2017 – New Horizons Fires Engine To Aim For Kuiper Belt’s 2014 MU69 – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft briefly fires its engine to adjust its course for its next flyby target: Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond the probe’s last target, Pluto.
- January 30, 2017 – China Space Agency Announces Missions to Mars, Jupiter – China National Space Administration Vice Director Wu Yanhua announces plans for two missions to Mars and a probe to Jupiter. The first Mars probe, Yinghuo-2, is expected to launch in 2020. The plans also include a fly-by of Jupiter and exploration of an asteroid.
- January 16, 2017 – Last Man to Walk On Moon Dies at 82 – NASA announces that Eugene A. Cernan, commander of the Apollo 17 lunar-landing mission in 1972 and the last human to walk on the moon, died in Houston.
- January 14, 2017 – SpaceX Launches First Falcon 9 Rocket Since September 2016 Mishap – SpaceX successfully launches a reusable Falcon 9 rocket, the company’s first launch since an explosion on the launchpad in September 2016 had grounded the company’s fleet of rockets.
- January 2, 2017 – SpaceX Announces Its Ready to Resume Launch Operations – SpaceX announces that following its determination of the cause of a launchpad explosion in September 2016 it is now ready to resume launches. SpaceX said it had identified the issue to a pressure vessel in the second-stage liquid oxygen tank.
- December 14, 2016 – Marine Corps Grounds Ospreys After Crash – The U.S. Marine Corps grounds its fleet of MV-22 Osprey jets after a crash off the Japanese coast several days prior.
- December 8, 2016 – John Glenn, First American to Orbit Earth, Dies at 95 – Former astronaut and Senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, dies in Ohio. Glen was 95. President Obama paid tribute to Glenn: “John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars. John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond -- not just to visit, but to stay ... The last of America's first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens."
- December 6, 2016 – DOJ Approves Alaska Airlines Acquisition Of Virgin America – The Department of Justice approves the $2.6 billion Alaska Airlines acquisition of Virgin America. As a condition to the acquisition, Alaska Airlines is required to slim down its code-sharing agreement with American Airlines.
- November 30, 2016 – NASA’s Cassini Begins First Ring-Grazing Orbit of Saturn – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft begins the first orbit of a mission to graze Saturn’s main outer rings over the next five months.
- November 30, 2016 – Sky-Futures USA Certified for UAV Vessel Inspections – Sky-Futures USA is certified by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to carry out internal vessel inspections using UAVs following a demonstration on a bulk carrier vessel inside the cargo hold.
- November 29, 2016 – First Foreign Military Sale of the F-35 – Japan takes ownership of the first F-35 aircraft to arrive at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, marking the first foreign military sale of the F-35.
- November 24, 2016 – Airbus A350-1000 Makes First Flight – The Airbus A350-1000 aircraft makes its initial flight on the morning of Thursday, November 24, 2016, from Toulouse Blagnac Airport.
- November 19, 2016 – NOAA Weather Satellite GOES-R Launches Into Orbit – The NOAA weather satellite GOES-R launches into space from Cape Canaveral aboard an Atlas V rocket. The satellite’s imager will offer three times as many channels as the existing system, four times the resolution, and five times the scan speed.
- November 16, 2016 – Flirtey, Domino’s New Zealand Partner To Provide “Pizza-By-Drone” – UAV company Flirtey and Domino’s New Zealand announce they are partnering to offer “pizza-by-drone” as a way to continually test [UAV delivery] technology in real-world scenarios.
- November 15, 2016 – AeroVironment Unveils Quantix UAV System – AeroVironment unveils its new Quantix VTOL UAV and cloud-based Decision Support System (DSS) at the Drone World Expo in San Jose, California. The Quantix UAV is equipped with four rotors, a RGB color photographic camera, and a multispectral sensor with normalized difference vegetation index capabilities. The aircraft is designed for applications in the agricultural, energy and transportation markets.
- November 3, 2016 – China Launches Long March 5 Heavy-Lift Rocket – China launches its Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket, bringing the nation one step closer to building its own space station in Earth orbit. The Long March 5 is a two-stage rocket capable of carrying 25 metric tons into low Earth orbit, or 14 metric tons to geostationary transfer orbit, and is nearly as powerful as ULA’s Delta IV Heavy launcher.
- October 21, 2016 – Gulfstream to Cease G450 Production In 2018 – Gulfstream Aerospace announces that it will cease production of the G450 as it prepares for service entry of its new fly-by-wire G500 in early 2018.
- October 19, 2016 – UAV Traffic Management System Undergoes Second Stage of Testing – NASA, the University of Nevada, and Reno’s NUANCE Lab partner to hold the second stage of testing at the Reno-Stead Airport for an air traffic management system designed to coordinate multiple drones flown by different operators.
- October 19, 2016 – NASA Testing First UAVs Flying Beyond-Line-Of-Sight Wednesday – NASA tests the first UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research platform to fly beyond-line-of-sight, at Reno-Stead Airport in Reno, Nevada.
- October 10, 2016 – Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Marks 500 Days In Orbit – The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B unmanned space plane marks 500 days in low Earth orbit, since its launch on May 20, 2015, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The X-37B was developed by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems for the Air Force’s Orbital Test Vehicle-4 (OTV-4) mission.
- September 30, 2016 – Rosetta Collides with Comet 67P, Completing Mission – NASA's comet-watching Rosetta spacecraft plows into the surface of comet 67P at 6:39 a.m. ET. Friday, September 30, 2016, concluding its mission, launched in 2004.
- September 27, 2016 – Mavic Pro UAV with Foldable Rotors Unveiled by DJI – DJI unveils its Mavic Pro UAV. About half the size and weight of the Phantom, the UAV features foldable rotors that allows it to easily fit into a backpack.
- September 25, 2016 – SpaceX Test Fires Raptor Engine – Elon Musk writes via Twitter that SpaceX has “achieved first firing of the Raptor interplanetary transport engine,” intended to serve as a spacecraft’s propulsion system on a manned mission to Mars.
- September 23, 2016 – SpaceX Determines “Large Breach” In Helium System Caused Falcon 9 Launchpad Explosion – SpaceX announces that the September 1 explosion of one of its Falcon 9 rockets on the Launchpad at Cape Canaveral, was likely caused by a “a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank.”
- September 22, 2016 – Bell Helicopter Unveils V-247 “Vigilant” Tiltrotor UAV – Bell Helicopter unveils a model of its V-247 “Vigilant” unmanned tiltrotor aircraft at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
- September 8, 2016 – NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex Lifts Off on Mission to Asteroid Bennu – NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft successfully lifts off from Cape Canaveral mounted atop an Atlas 5 rocket, entering Earth's orbit 12 minutes after liftoff. OSIRIS-Rex’s mission is to travel to the asteroid Bennu, take a sample of the asteroid’s surface material, and return it to earth for further study.
- September 1, 2016 – SpaceX Falcon 9 Explodes on Launchpad at Cape Canaveral – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, loaded with a Facebook Communications satellite, explodes on the launchpad when performing a test-firing of its nine Merlin engines at Cape Canaveral.
- August 31, 2016 – FAA Selects Drone Advisory Committee Members – The FAA announces the 35 business, association, municipal and academic leaders who will make up its new Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The DAC will make recommendations in regards to the implementation of UAVs into the US national airspace.
- August 29, 2016 – CNN Receives FAA Approval To Fly Over People – CNN announces that it has been granted a waiver by the FAA to fly UAVs over people within the United States, becoming the first organization to be granted such a waiver.
- August 24, 2016 – Astronaut Jeff Williams Sets New U.S. Spaceflight Record – NASA astronaut Jeff Williams breaks the U.S. spaceflight record with a collective 521 days in orbit, spanning four missions, breaking the previously established record set by recently retired astronaut Scott Kelly.
- August 21, 2016 – NASA Restores Contact with STEREO-B – NASA announces that it was able to re-establish contact with its STEREO-B solar observation satellite after nearly two years of silence. Communications with the satellite were lost during a test that was performed on 1 October 2014.
- August 19, 2016 – IDA Installed at ISS, Enabling Access for Future Commercial Spacecraft – Astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins successfully perform a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS). The duo install an International Docking Adapter (IDA) required to receive SpaceX and Boeing capsules being developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
- August 17, 2016 – Giant British Airship Completes Maiden Flight – The giant blimp-shaped Airlander 10 completes its maiden flight over Cardington Airfield in Central England. The 302-foot airship, deemed to be the world’s largest aircraft, flies a circuit around the area before landing about half an hour later.
- August 12, 2016 – U.S. Air Force Approves Production for Boeing KC-46 Tankers – The U.S. Air Force announces it has approved Boeing’s KC-46A refueling aircraft for production.
- August 12, 2016 – First Class of Pilots Graduate from General Atomics UAV Training Academy – The first class of UAV pilots graduates from the General Atomics Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Training Academy in Grand Forks, ND, which was opened in June 2016 for the purpose of providing UAV pilot training.
- August 2, 2016 – U.S. Air Force Declares F-35A Ready for Combat – The U.S. Air Force’s announces that the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II is ready for combat. F-35 Program Director USAF Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said in a statement that “the U.S. Air Force decision to make the 15 F-35As...combat ready sends a simple and powerful message to America’s friends and foes alike – the F-35 can do its mission.”
- August 1, 2016 – Virgin Galactic Granted FAA License to Resume Spacecraft Testing – Virgin Galactic announces that it has received approval from the FAA to resume testing of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle following a fatal test flight crash in 2014 that raised concerns about the future of the commercial space industry.
- July 28, 2016 – F-35A Shoots Down UAS Units, Scoring First “Air-To-Air Kill – An F-35A shoots a Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder at a drone target and scores the aircraft’s first air-to-air kill.
- July 26, 2016 – Solar Impulse 2 Completes Global Circumnavigation Trip, Demonstrates Potential of Clean Energy Aviation – Solar Impulse 2 becomes the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe by solely using solar energy, following its landing in Abu Dhabi, where it first took off on its epic 25,000-mile journey more than a year before.
- July 16, 2016 – Boeing 100-Year Anniversary – 100 years after William E. Boeing founded Pacific AeroProducts on July 15, 1916, Seattle-based Boeing is now the biggest builder of commercial and military airplanes in the world.
- July 13, 2016 – Solar Impulse 2 Arrives In Egypt – The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft departs Seville, Spain, on Monday, June 11, and arrives in Cairo on Wednesday, June 13, as part of its globe-circling voyage.
- July 11, 2016 – 7-Eleven, Flirtey Complete First Customer Drone Delivery In U.S. – 7-Eleven successfully completes a drone delivery from one of its convenience stores in Reno, Nevada. The retailer and its partner, independent drone delivery service Flirtey, said the test constitutes the first time a customer in the U.S. receives a home delivery via drone. The products delivered include Slurpee drinks, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and candy.
- July 5, 2016 – NASA Super Pressure Balloon Sets Flight Duration Record – NASA sets “a new flight duration record for its Super Pressure Balloon,” used to perform scientific experiments in the upper atmosphere. The mission begins May 16 in New Zealand and lasts for almost 47 days until NASA brings it down over a mountainous region in Peru due to altitude variations.
- July 4, 2016 – NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Successfully Enters Jupiter’s Orbit –NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft arrives at Jupiter, surviving intense radiation and unseen ring debris during its 35-minute rocket firing, slowing down just enough to slip into orbit. Describing the feat, Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton said, “We just did the hardest thing NASA’s ever done!”
- June 30, 2016 – Three F-35A Jets Complete First Transatlantic Crossing Ahead of Air Show Appearance – The US Air Force completes its first transatlantic flight with the F-35A, the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant of the Lightning II used by the USAF.
- June 23, 2016 – Solar Impulse 2 Lands In Spain After Three-Day Transatlantic Flight – Solar powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2 lands in Seville, Spain following a three-day transatlantic flight from New York City in one of the longest legs of the first ever fuel-less flight around the world.
- June 22, 2016 – India Sends 20 Satellites Into Orbit With Single Launch – India successfully launched 20 satellites into space atop a single booster marking India’s largest-ever payload ferried into orbit, trailing Russia’s 33 in 2014 and NASA’s 29 the year before.
- June 21, 2016 – FAA Issues Commercial Drone Regulations – The FAA issues its long-awaited commercial drone regulations, allowing a wide range of businesses to use drones weighing less than 55 pounds for a slew of different purposes, but with several restrictions.
- June 6, 2016 – ISS Astronauts Enter Inflatable Space Room – Astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) open the doors to the first inflatable space room and float inside.
- June 1, 2016 – Musk Predicts Humans On Mars In Nine Years – During an interview at the Code Conference in southern California, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk predicted that humans could land on Mars within the next nine years, saying that “we should be able to launch people in 2024, with arrival in 2025.”
- May 28, 2016 – NASA Successfully Inflates Experimental Space Habitat – NASA successfully inflates the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) at the International Space Station (ISS), creating the world’s first pump-it-up compartment for astronauts.
- May 27, 2016 – SpaceX Completes Fourth Successful Rocket Landing –SpaceX successfully launches its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, sending a Thaicom commercial communications satellite into orbit, and subsequently pulling off another successful landing on a ship 422 miles off the Florida coast.
- May 23, 2016 – India Enters Space Race Against Musk, Bezos With Launch Of First Reusable Spacecraft – India successfully launches a miniature model of a reusable spacecraft. Per the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) mini-shuttle lifted off atop of a HS9 rocket from the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Sriharikota, ascending to a peak altitude of 41 miles above the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere at around Mach 5, subsequently landing in the Bay of Bengal.
- May 16, 2016 – International Space Station Completes Milestone 100,000th Orbit of Earth – Following 17 ½ years in orbit, the International Space Station (ISS) circled the Earth for a milestone-setting 100,000th time on Monday morning, May 16, 2016. Each orbit around the Earth takes the ISS 90 minutes, with the ISS completing 16 orbits per day.
- May 10, 2016 – NASA Confirms Record-Breaking Discovery of 1,200 New Exoplanets – Researchers using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope confirmed the record-breaking discovery of more than 1,284 new exoplanets, doubling the number of extraterrestrial worlds found by the space agency’s planet-hunting spacecraft.
- May 6, 2016 – SpaceX Falcon 9 Sticks Sea Landing for Second Time – The first-stage booster of a SpaceX Falcon 9 landed smoothly on a droneship at sea following launch, the second such successful landing in a row.
- April 25, 2016 – Airbus Delivers First U.S.-Made Aircraft From Alabama Plant – France-based Airbus delivered its first aircraft manufactured in the U.S. to JetBlue Airways.
- April 25, 2016 – Google Awarded New Delivery Drone Patent – Google is awarded the first patent that would allow a delivery drone to hover over a delivery target and lower the package using a tether.
- April 23, 2016 – Solar Plane Travels from Hawaii to California – The solar-powered aircraft "Solar Impulse 2" touches down in California following a three-day flight from Hawaii without fuel.
- April 18, 2016 – FAA Clears First Nighttime Drone Flights – The FAA grants the first approval for commercial drone flights at night to Ohio-based Industrial Skyworks USA, which uses drones for industrial inspections.
- April 13, 2016 – ESPN to Broadcast Drone Racing – The International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) announces a multi-year agreement with ESPN to broadcast the new sport of drone racing.
- April 12, 2016 – 35 Year Anniversary of First Space Shuttle Launch – Tuesday, 12 April 2016 marked the 35th anniversary since the beginning of NASA’s space shuttle era, which first took flight with Columbia’s launch from Kennedy Space Center. After Commander John Young and pilot Bob Crippen took to the skies from launch pad 39A, NASA’s launch commentator Hugh Harris said, “And we have liftoff, liftoff of America’s first space shuttle.” During the mission, Crippen said, “I think we have got something that is really going to mean something to the country and the world.” Young and Crippen landed safely two days and 37 orbits later on a dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
- April 8, 2016 – SpaceX Completes Historic Booster Landing at Sea – Following four previously unsuccessful attempts to land a spent rocket booster on a drone ship at sea, SpaceX successfully pulls off the feat Friday, April 8, 2016, in its first launch to resupply the International Space Station since one of its rockets exploded in 2015. The sea landing, the first-ever for a first-stage booster, is considered a breakthrough for the burgeoning commercial spaceflight industry. In a press conference following the successful landing, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk remarked, “It’s another step toward the stars. In order for us to really open up access to space we have to have full and rapid reusability.”
- April 5, 2016 – Google Awarded Patent for UAV Delivery of Medical Equipment – Google is awarded a patent for a device that can call for a drone to fly in with specific medical equipment in case of emergencies. The system, described as a cross between an old HAM radio and one of the callboxes found on the sides of highways, would deliver necessary medical equipment based on the type of emergency reported.
- April 2, 2016 – Blue Origin Launches, Lands Reusable Rocket for Third Consecutive Time – Blue Origin takes another step toward making reusable rockets a reality by successfully launching and landing its New Shepard vehicle for a third consecutive time.
- March 29, 2016 – FAA Increases Altitude Limit For Commercial UAVs – The FAA announces a new policy that will allow certain small, commercial unmanned aircraft vehicles to fly as high as 400 feet, doubling the previously authorized altitude of 200 feet, except in restricted airspace and other prohibited areas. The regulation applies to commercial and governmental unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators with a Section 333 exemption and an aircraft that weighs less than 55 pounds.
- March 26, 2016 – ISS Equipped with First 3D Printer – The ISS is equipped with a permanent 3D printer, supplied by privately held Made In Space and partner Lowe's Innovation Labs.
- March 24, 2016 – FAA Predicts 7 Million UAVs Will Swarm U.S. Skies by 2020 – According to an annual aviation forecast report released on Thursday, March 24, 2016 by the FAA, annual UAV sales in the U.S. will reach a total of 2.5 million in 2016 and climb to 7 million by 2020.
- March 21, 2016 – First American-Made Airbus Jet Performs Successful Flight Test – On Monday, March 21, 2016 Europe-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus performed the maiden test flight of its first American-made jetliner, taking off and landing the A321 passenger jet at its new facility near downtown Mobile, Alabama. In a statement following the three-hour test flight over the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley called the exercise a “major milestone” for the state’s aerospace sector, saying, “Aerospace and aviation industries are extremely important to Alabama, and it is exciting to know soon JetBlue will receive its first A321 proudly made in Alabama.”
- March 16, 2016 – U.S. Air Force Facing Pilot Shortage for Fighter Jets, Drones – On Wednesday, March 16, 2016 during a subcommittee hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee,, U.S. Air Force General Herbert Carlisle warns that the service needs 511 additional fighter pilots as well as 200 more drone pilots in order to sufficiently fulfill its current military operations. In his testimony, Carlisle explained that “remote piloted aircraft enterprise is one that’s in high demand, we are in high demand for fighters as well, we don’t have enough of either.”
- March 16, 2016 – Following a year of serving as its deputy director, Janet Kavandi is appointed director of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio, becoming the first woman and former astronaut to be named to the post.
- March 10, 2016 – Flirtey Completes First FAA-Sanctioned UAV Delivery to Urban Target – Drone delivery startup Flirtey made history on March 10, 2016 by successfully delivering a package in Hawthorne, Nevada, via drone, the first time a UAV has made a fully autonomous delivery in an urban setting in the United States. Flirtey also conducted the country’s first legal drone delivery in a rural zone, having previously delivered supplies to a health clinic in provincial Virginia.
- March 10, 2016 – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Celebrates 10 Years of Pioneering Scientific Work – NASA celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has, to this point, lasted five times longer than its primary investigative mission. In a NASA statement, Rich Zurek, NASA project scientist, said, “The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter remains a powerful asset for studying the Red Planet, with its six instruments all continuing capably a decade after orbit insertion.”
- March 9, 2016 – Phantom 2 Breaks UAV-Altitude Record – and Law – with 11,000 Foot Flight – A European UAV hobbyist flies a DJI Phantom 2 to a record altitude of 11,000 feet, according a video posted on YouTube. The UAV reached the altitude in three-and-a-half minutes, draining its power, and it quickly returned back to the ground before the remaining 27% of its battery life ran out, landing with just 4% left. In order to accomplish the feat, it is believed that the operator most likely had to disable software restrictions that prevent out-of-the-box hobby drones from flying above a certain limit, as DJI’s quadcopters are capped at a 1,500 feet.
- March 8, 2016 – NASA to Livestreams Total Eclipse – NASA Livestreams a full solar eclipse, visible to people in parts of southeast Asia, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa. THe eclipse occurs between 8:38 p.m. and 8:42 p.m. EST.
- March 8, 2016 – Missing Malaysian Jet Remains “Agonizing Mystery” Two Years After Disappearance – On Tuesday, 8 March 2016, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, says that his government remains dedicated to solving the “agonizing mystery” of MH370, as the country marks the second anniversary of the aircraft’s disappearance. The search efforts to find the jet, covering 120,000 square kilometers of the southern Indian Ocean, are slated to be complete in June. In a distributed email, Najib says that if the efforts prove unsuccessful, officials from Malaysia, Australia, and China will coalesce “to determine the way forward.”
- March 4, 2016 – AIAA Executive Director Speaks at National Press Club on “ Ensuring U.S. Leadership In Space” – A coalition of 13 space organizations release a joint white paper, “Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space,” at a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The work highlights and addresses the challenges facing continued U.S. exploration and use of space, and the need for the next administration and Congress to make space policy a priority. The paper offers sensible policy solutions to the four most common challenges that continued space exploration and use efforts face – unpredictable budgeting, foreign competition, the hostile space environment, and workforce trends.
- March 3, 2016 – Aircraft Debris Found In Mozambique May Belong to MH370 – American tourist Blaine Allen Gibson finds a piece of aircraft wreckage washed ashore in Mozambique. It is believed that the piece of wreckage may belong to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously disappeared somewhere over the South China Sea almost two years prior.
- March 1, 2016 – Scott Kelly Returns To Earth After Record Stay In Space – After 340 days in space, the longest–ever stint for a NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly returns to Earth, alongside Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. All three of the space travelers undergo field tests immediately after exiting the return capsule. Kelly’s and Kornienko’s stay in space was the longest by any astronauts aboard the ISS and seen as a vital chance to measure the effects of a prolonged period in space on the human body.
- March 1, 2016 – DJI Launches New Autonomous UAV – China–based UAV developer DJI launches its most recent product, the Phantom 4 quadcopter, which uses multiple cameras and software to sense and avoid obstacles automatically. Using a mobile app, operators can tap on a destination and the drone will choose the best route to get there, and, while the aircraft is flying, pilots can focus on controlling the camera without worrying about navigation.
- February 29, 2016 – U.S. Air Force Announces New Partnerships to Replace Russian Engines – Aerojet Rocketdyne and United Launch Alliance (ULA) announce the formation of a public–private partnership with the U.S. Air Force to develop an American–made rocket propulsion system to replace the Russian engine currently being used to launch many government satellites into orbit. The agreement will fund the development of Aerojet’s AR1 engine, intended to replace the Russian–made RD–180, which powers ULA’s Atlas V rocket. In addition, the Air Force is set to contribute two–thirds of the total investment needed to complete the project by 2019.
- February 26, 2016 – Air Force Designates Next–Generation Bomber B–21, Unveils Artist Rendering – Air Force Secretary Deborah James reveals the first artist’s rendering of the next–generation long–range bomber (LRS–B) developed by Northrop Grumman, and discloses that the new stealth bomber has been officially designated as the B–21. The concept art reveals that the next generation aircraft is black and sleek with swept–back wings and stealthy design and resembles another famous bomber, the B–2 Spirit.
- February 25, 2016 – House GOP Leaders Scrap Plan To Privatize Air Traffic Control – House Republican leaders decide to scrap the FAA reauthorization bill that would separate air traffic control from the FAA. GOP leaders instead plan to bring a temporary reauthorization measure before the House.
- February 25, 2016 – Utah Bills Proposed that Would Allow Law Enforcement to Shoot Down UAVs – Two Utah legislators propose bills that would allow law enforcement officials to better deal with interference from UAVs during emergency response operations. State Sen. Wayne Harper proposes legislation that would allow law enforcement officials to neutralize UAVs, which could include shooting them, jamming their signals or convincing their operators to move them.
- February 22, 2016 – UN Agency Bans Lithium Batteries As Cargo On Passenger Planes – The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) bans cargo shipments of lithium ion batteries on passenger planes, despite opposition from the rechargeable batteries industry. The FAA says that one such battery in the hold is enough to cause an explosion if it overheats and could result in a “catastrophic hull loss” in a process called “thermal runaway.” While the UN agency’s decision is not binding, most countries abide by its standards. The decision is also backed by the FAA, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the National Transportation Safety Board.
- February 19, 2016 – Deadline to Register UAVs In FAA Database – Friday, 19 February 2016, is the official FAA deadline for the public to register drones weighing between half a pound and 55 pounds with the FAA.
- February 19, 2016 – Record Number Apply To Become Next NASA Astronauts – NASA announces that it has received more than 18,300 applications to join its next astronaut class, constituting a record total that is more than double the previous record of 8,000 back in 1979, just before the space shuttle era began, and nearly three times the number who applied in 2012, just after the shuttle program’s retirement. NASA plans to select eight to 14 astronaut candidates by mid–2017.
- February 16, 2016 – SpaceX Successfully Completes Parachute Test – SpaceX announces that it has successfully tested parachutes near Coolidge, Arizona, that will be used on its Dragon spacecraft to bring human passengers back to Earth. SpaceX is upgrading its Dragon vehicle to be able to send humans to the International Space Station starting in 2018 as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
- February 15, 2016 – IATA: No Deadly Jetliner Accidents Occurr Globally In 2015 – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reveals that in 2015 not a single passenger worldwide died from a commercial jetliner accident attributed to pilot error, jet malfunctions, or poor weather, marking a long sought after milestone once deemed an unreachable goal for the global aircraft industry.
- February 15, 2016 – DARPA Tests Self–Navigating Quadcopter – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announces that it has tested a self–navigating quadcopter using only onboard sensors / software at an old hangar set up as a warehouse at Otis Air National Guard Base. The test is part of DARPA’s fast lightweight autonomy program, which intends to develop and test algorithms that can reduce human intervention needed to fly small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) around a crowded urban surrounding.
- February 11, 2016 – Scientists Discover Gravitational Waves – In a report published on February 11 in the journal Physical Review Letters, scientists with the LIGO group and the Virgo Collaboration reveal that they have detected gravitational waves, “the ripples in the fabric of space–time that Einstein predicted a century ago.” Szabolcs Marka, a Columbia University professor who is one of the LIGO scientists, remarks, “I think this will be one of the major breakthroughs in physics for a long time.” The project is led by researchers from CalTech and MIT, with support from an international consortium of scientists and institutions.
- February 11, 2016 – NASA Plans to Return to Designing X–Planes – NASA’s 2017 budget proposal reveals plans to return to a decades–old tradition of developing and flying experimental aircraft projects, or ‘X–planes,’ in order to achieve new breakthroughs in supersonic and subsonic aeronautics research. NASA’s history of X–planes includes projects such as the supersonic Bell X–1 and the hypersonic North American X–15.
- February 11, 2016 – Scientists Discover Gravitational Waves, Confirming Einstein’s Century–Old Theory – Scientists with the LIGO group and the Virgo Collaboration reveal that that they have detected gravitational waves, “the ripples in the fabric of space–time that Einstein predicted a century ago.” Szabolcs Marka, a Columbia University professor who is one of the LIGO scientists, remarks, “I think this will be one of the major breakthroughs in physics for a long time.”
- February 9, 2016 – Airbus A321neo Completes Maiden Flight In Germany – An Airbus A321neo successfully completes its first flight using CFM International’s LEAP–1A engines. The five–and–a–half–hour maiden flight from Hamburg, Germany is considered unusual since the A321neo variant using Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan engine will enter service first.
- February 8, 2016 – UN Agency Proposes Limits On Aircraft Emissions – Following more than six years of negotiations, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposes the first binding limits on aircraft carbon dioxide emissions, the latest in a series of international efforts to address climate change.
- January 29, 2016 – Boeing 737 MAX Completes Maiden Flight – Boeing’s new 737 MAX jetliner takes off on its maiden flight from an airfield in Renton, Washington.
- January 28, 2016 – Japan Reveals First Stealth Fighter – Japan’s Ministry of Defense unveils the first–ever Japanese–built stealth fighter jet featuring radar–evasion technology, with the aim of closing the gap with neighboring Russia and China, who have flown such aircraft for more than five years. The experimental $340 million X–2 is smaller than a typical fighter, unarmed and has under–powered engines, causing some analysts to suggest that Japan intends to use the prototype to signal its aspirations to develop a stealth aircraft in partnership with the U.S. and other international allies.
- January 25, 2016 – U.S. Air Force Certifies Upgraded Falcon 9 to Launch Military Satellite – The U.S. Air Force certifies the latest version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, featuring higher–thrust engines, enlarged fuel tanks and a super–chilled propellant mixture, for launches of military most satellites. The formal sign–off of the rocket confirms that the modified launcher is eligible to compete for national security launch contracts.
- January 20, 2016 – Scientists Find Evidence for Planet Nine – Two astronomers at the California Institute of Technology reveal that they have found compelling evidence indicating the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system.
- January 20, 2016 – Airbus Completes A320neo Delivery to Lufthansa – Airbus completes the very first delivery of its newest jetliner, the A320neo, to Lufthansa.
- January 13, 2016 – Airbus Develops Counter–UAV System – Airbus develops a counter–UAV system that is capable of disabling an unmanned aerial vehicle in a monitored area by jamming its signal. The system also has the ability to locate the operator of the device.
- January 11, 2016 – Google Says UAV Deliveries Could Begin Within One Year – Davis Vos, the head of Google’s “Project Wing” initiative, says that it will be possible to deliver goods to customers via UAV within the next one to three years.
- January 10, 2016 – “Starman” David Bowie Is Mourned by Astronauts, Scientists, Celebrities – The New York Times reports that the death of rock legend David Bowie “reverberated across Britain and the world” as fans gathered en masse outside his childhood home in London, on Monday, January 11, “to express their deep and abiding affection for Mr. Bowie, a local hero whose gender–bending swagger and convention–busting music inspired generations of fans and provided a soundtrack for their lives.”
- January 6, 2016 – EHang Unveils World’s First Passenger UAV – China–based UAV developer EHang releases what it calls "the world’s first drone capable of carrying a human passenger." The UAV is powered by electricity and resembles a small helicopter but has four doubled propellers spinning parallel to the ground like other drones.
- December 21, 2015 – SpaceX Completes Historic Landing of Spent Orbital Rocket – SpaceX launches its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and then successfully lands the first–stage booster after deploying 11 Orbcomm data satellites into orbit. This is the first time that the company has vertically landed a spent orbital rocket.
- December 21, 2015 – FAA Drone Registry Goes Live – NBC Nightly News reports that “if you own a drone, starting [Monday] the federal government said you have to register it with the FAA.” NBC noted that “all drones purchased before [Monday] must be registered by February 19th” and “drones bought later should be registered before the first flight.”
- December 14, 2015 – FAA Announces Drone Registration Rules – Tom Costello reports on NBC Nightly News that the FAA is releasing new rules to take effect December 21 that will require all drone owners 13 years and older to register their drones online, “including name, address, and email.” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said, “We think this is not just about registering. This is also about educating and providing folks with the information they need to do this safely.” Other rules include flying below 400 feet and at least five miles from airports. Each offense carries a potential $1,100 fine.
- December 12, 2015 – Aerodrome and Boulder City, NV Announce World’s First UAV Port – UAV developer Aerodrome announces on Saturday that the world’s first commercial droneport and teaching facility in Boulder City, NV, is being constructed in partnership with the city.
- December 9, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Tests Drone Tracking System – Northrop Grumman recently tested a UAS tracking system called Venom, which tracks small drones and provides accurate coordinates of drone flight paths.
- December 8, 2015 – Boeing Rolls Out First 737 MAX Jetliner at Employee Event – Boeing unveils its first 737 MAX aircraft to employees at its factory in Renton, Washington, demonstrating the latest update to Boeing’s popular 737 model, which has become the industry’s best–selling jet since it debuted in the 1960s.
- December 8, 2015 – Honda Business Jet Receives FAA Approval – Honda announces that its recently unveiled business aircraft, the HondaJet, received type certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday.
- December 3, 2015 – NASA Successfully Tests Drone Traffic Management System – NASA successfully completes its first tests of its unmanned aerial systems traffic management (UTM) system. The UTM system aims to serve as an air traffic control system for low–flying drones, roughly similar to ground traffic systems.
- December 1, 2015 – Aerojet Rocketdyne Uses 3–D Printer to Develop Parts for Orion Spacecraft – Aerojet Rocketdyne announces that it has completed 12 additively manufactured production nozzle extensions for use aboard the Orion spacecraft,” which are “part of Orion’s crew module reaction control system that Aerojet Rocketdyne is building for Lockheed Martin and NASA.
- November 29, 2015 – Last Boeing C–17 Leaves California Assembly Plant, Marking End of Operations – The commercial space bill is unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate.
- November 24, 2015 – Blue Origin Launches, Lands Fully Reusable Rocket In Industry Milestone – Spaceflight company Blue Origin, backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announces that it has successfully launched its automated, fully reusable New Shepard launch vehicle into suborbital space and subsequently and successfully landed its capsule and spent rocket on Earth, achieving a significant milestone for the burgeoning commercial space industry.
- November 24, 2015 – Airbus A320neo Receives European, U.S. Approval – Airbus receives regulatory approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the FAA for its A320neo single–aisle jet. With these certifications, Airbus is now able to make their deliveries of the plane.
- November 23, 2015 – SpaceX Selected to Launch Astronauts to ISS – SpaceX receives official confirmation from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that it has been selected to transport astronauts from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station using its Dragon capsules. The SpaceX order arrives six months after NASA said Boeing would fly crews in CST–100 Starliner capsules launched by Atlas V rockets from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. While Boeing received its order ahead of SpaceX, it has not yet been determined which company will fly the first official mission to the space station after NASA certifies the programs’ safety.
- November 20, 2015 – Turkey Downs Russian Fighter In Syria; Putin Vows “Serious Consequences” – On Tuesday, 20 November 2015, Turkish fighters patrolling the Syrian border shoot down a Russian aircraft after it purportedly violated Turkey’s airspace.
- November 17, 2015 – DJI Introduces Geo–Fencing Technology for Drones – Chinese drone maker DJI introduces new software that automatically prevents drones from flying over restricted areas, including airports, prisons, and power plants. DJI is also working with a digital airspace data company, Airmap, to incorporate the FAA’s temporary flight restrictions. The software update will be installed on all DJI drones in the U.S. and Europe starting in December 2015.
- November 16, 2015 – Chinese UAV Developer to Open Flagship Store – China’s SZ DJI Technology, the largest developer of unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, announces that is opening its first flagship retail store in a Shenzhen shopping center in December. The announcement comes as the consumer UAV market is expanding globally.
- November 16, 2015 – Congress Approves Space Commerce Bill, Allowing Private Space Industry to Avoid Regulation – The U.S. Congress approves The Space Act, which prevents the government from regulating private space travel for the next eight years. Under the bill, the FAA will not be allowed to issue regulations and standards for commercial space travel until 2023.
- November 11, 2015 – UN Accord to Enable Global Satellite Flight Tracking – In response to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014, a UN agreement will allow satellites to track jetliners anywhere in the world using common radio frequencies. At the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized UN communications agency, country delegates reach an agreement to allocate a portion of the radio spectrum to a global flight tracking system. Under the accord, satellites will be able to monitor Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B) signals, which airliners currently only transmit to other aircraft and ground stations.
- November 10, 2015 – Commercial Space Bill Approved By Senate – The commercial space bill is unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate.
- November 6, 2015 – Lockheed Martin Concludes Sikorsky Purchase – Lockheed Martin completes its acquisition of Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky will maintain its Stratford, Connecticut, headquarters under the terms of the deal. Lockheed Martin also announces that Dan Schultz, Lockheed vice president of ship & aviation systems, will serve as Sikorsky’s president. Sikorsky’s full official name is now “Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company.”
- November 4, 2015 – NASA Announces Search for New Astronauts – NASA issues a press release announcing that it “will soon begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates,” which will “carry out deep–space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars.” As crew members of the International Space Station, the astronauts “will continue the vital work advanced during the last 15 years of continuous human habitation aboard the orbiting laboratory, expanding scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies.”
- October 29, 2015 – Unmanned Sikorsky Black Hawk Successfully Completes Test Run – Officials announce that a recent prototype testing of an unmanned Sikorsky UH–60 Black Hawk was successful. According to the Paul Rogers, director of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, “The unmanned ground vehicle moved through a 10–kilometer scenario where it faced different chemical, biological hazards and then fed that data back via satellite.” Older Black Hawks could be retrofitted with the new technology.
- October 28, 2015 – Unmanned Military Surveillance Blimp Breaks Free, Comes Down In Pennsylvania – One of the two unmanned surveillance blimps that the U.S. military uses to watch the East Coast from a base in Maryland becomes detached from its tethers and floats aimlessly over Pennsylvania, downing power lines and cutting off electricity for tens of thousands of residents. According to NORAD, “two F–16 fighter jets were scrambled to ensure it didn’t collide with other aircraft.” After drifting more than 100 miles, the blimp comes down close to Moreland Township in Pennsylvania, leaving a trail of damage in its wake.
- October 27, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Wins Historic Bid to Build Next–Generation Bombers – The Pentagon announces that Northrop Grumman has been awarded a multi–billion contract to develop the next–generation Long Range Strike Bomber for the U.S. Air Force, outbidding a joint team from Lockheed Martin and Boeing. While the specific capabilities of the fighter jet are classified, the capabilities expected to be included are stealth, the ability to carry conventional and nuclear weapons, and the ability to possibly operate both with or without a pilot.
- October 27, 2015 – U.S. Navy Appoints First Chief of Unmanned Systems – The U.S. Navy announced that Brigadier General Frank Kelley has been appointed as the very first deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy for unmanned systems. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus created the position in April, 2015, to address the growing importance of UAS.
- October 22, 2015 – Space Launch System Finishes Critical Design Review – NASA announces that its Space Launch System (SLS), “designed to carry astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft into deep space,” has successfully completed its critical design review, signaling “the first time in nearly 40 years a manned rocket by the agency has achieved this stage in development," according to a NASA release.
- October 16, 2015 – Lockheed’s Enhanced F–16V Fighter Makes First Flight – The newest model of the Lockheed Martin F–16, with a range of equipment enhancements including an active electronically scanned array...radar, makes its first flight from Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Texas production facility.
- October 16, 2015 – Astronaut Scott Kelly Breaks American Record for Most Days In Space – Friday, October 16, 2016, marked the 383rd day that NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has spent living in space, breaking the American record. Kelly posted messages to his followers on Twitter, saying, “records are meant to be broken,” adding that one of his colleagues will likely break his record when NASA sends astronauts to Mars. By the end of his mission in March, 2016, Kelly will have spent 522 days in space, but Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka holds the overall human record with 879 days in space.
- October 17, 2015 – Final US Airways Flight Completes Trip, Lands In Philadelphia – The last US Airways flight landed at Philadelphia International Airport at 5:54 am ET on Saturday, October 17, 2015, after departing from San Francisco on Friday evening. The AP notes that the flight number of the aircraft, 1939, was assigned for the founding year of the carrier.
- October 13, 2015 – Dutch Report Says Russian–Made Missile Brought Down Malaysian Airliner – Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra announces that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 “crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane,” and investigators found “tell–tale fragments of a Russian–made BUK missile” in the bodies of the plane’s pilots. Russia, however, rejects the findings, saying that missile is no longer in its arsenal.
- October 13, 2015 – Dutch Safety Board Chairman Tjibbe Joustra announces that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 “crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane,” and investigators found “tell–tale fragments of a Russian–made BUK missile” in the bodies of the plane’s pilots. Russia, however, rejects the findings, saying that missile is no longer in its arsenal.
- October 2, 2015 – ULA Launches 100th Rocket – United Launch Alliance celebrated its 100th launch on Friday, October 2, with an Atlas V rocket carrying a Mexican communications satellite that will provide cellular voice, data, Internet, and video services.
- October 1, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Wins Pentagon Global Hawk UAV Contract – Northrop Grumman wins a Defense Department contract for continued development, modernization, and maintenance of all Air Force variants of the Global Hawk UAV. The contract is valued up to $3.2 billion.
- September 28, 2015 – NASA Announces Evidence of Liquid Water On Mars – NASA announced findings of the strongest evidence yet that liquid water is flowing or has flowed recently on the surface of Mars. NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld told reporters that “It suggests that it would be possible for life to be on Mars today.”
- September 23, 2015 – FAA Grants Approval to NFL to Use UAVs – The FAA grants NFL Films permission to use UAVs, making it the first major sports league to receive authorization. The authorization will not allow the NFL to use drones to film live games, but they are allowed to gather footage from closed–set locations around NFL stadiums and practice facilities to make films and television segments. The NFL will also be required to submit flight plans three days in advance and maintain drone speeds under 100 miles per hour. The NFL’s petition is approved under a section of federal law that allows the Transportation Department to waive requirements for FAA approval for drone flights that are operated outside of restricted airspace and below 200 feet.
- September 22, 2015 – FAA Approves Over 1,500 UAV Flight Exemptions – FAA has approves 1,546 Section 333 exemptions for nonmilitary UAV flights, as part of its continuing effort to safely expand and support commercial unmanned aircraft operations in U.S. airspace, The FAA says in a statement that it granted many of the exemptions to allow aerial filming for uses such as motion picture production, precision agriculture and real estate photography, The agency also issues grants for new and novel approaches to inspecting power distribution towers and wiring, railroad infrastructure and bridges.
- September 20, 2015 – China’s Long March–6 Rocket Launched For First Time –China launches the Long March–6 rocket for the first time. Carrying 20 small satellites, the rocket is designed for carrying satellites aloft. The rocket was first announced in 2009, but was originally scheduled to make its first launch back in 2013.
- September 17, 2015 – Orion’s First Manned Flight Pushed Back Until 2023 – NASA officials state that there is not much confidence that the Orion capsule can launch in 2021 on its first manned flight because of the history of running into unexpected problems in new programs.
- September 17, 2015 – Naval Postgraduate School Students Create Swarm Of 50 UAVs – A Naval Postgraduate School project leads to the creation of a record–breaking drone swarm, in which 50 UAVs were all piloted by a single operator. The custom UAVs use a Wi–Fi–based system to communicate and create a cooperative flight plan that could lead to potentially useful and even life–saving applications down the road, such as aiding search–and–rescue efforts.
- September 15, 2015 – Blue Origin Will Launch Payloads and Crews from Florida – Jeff Bezos announces that Blue Origin will build rockets that can launch science payloads and people — including space tourists and even himself — into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company, which plans to begin launches by the end of the decade, will use a Florida launch complex that was last used in 2005.
- September 16, 2015 – Sweden Installs First Remote–Control ATC Tower – Ornskoldsvik Airport in northern Sweden is the first airport in the world in which its air traffic controllers will guide aircraft remotely using cameras installed at the airport. Similar technology is currently being tested at several European airports and one U.S. airport.
- September 14, 2015 – North Korea Announces Space Rocket Launch – North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration states that it is pushing forward in the final phase [with] the development of a new earth observation satellite for weather forecast, a move that the U.S. and South Korea have been expecting as a way to test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
- September 14, 2015 – Airbus Opens New Production Plant In Alabama – Airbus opens its first U.S. jetliner production facility in Mobile, Alabama. The U.S. facility will be able to produce planes at a lower cost than similar facilities
in Europe and gives it potential leverage over its European workforce. The new plant is part of Airbus’ plan for challenging Boeing Co. for supremacy. Deliveries from the plant should start early next year ... with the production tempo
increasing to four aircraft a month by early 2018.
- September 14, 2015 – Three ISS Astronauts Safely Return to Earth – Astronauts Gennady Padalka, Andreas Mogensen, and Aidyn Aimbetov return to Earth on schedule on Saturday in a Soyuz capsule. While Padalka spent 168 days at the station, giving him a world record of 879 total days in space, the other two astronauts only spent 10 days in space, with Mogensen and Aimbetov having the distinction of being the first astronauts from their countries to fly into space.
- September 9, 2015 – Ohio Community College Unveils $5 Million UAV Center – Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio unveils its $5 million National Unmanned Aerial Systems Training and Certification Center. The center will provide students with access to 3–D advanced manufacturing, drone simulators, a wind tunnel and improved labs. The facility will house about 120 UAVs, and nearly 500 students will take classes at the center during the first academic year.
- September 5, 2015 – Scott Kelly Assumes Command of ISS – NASA astronaut Scott Kelly assumes command of the International Space Station during a brief ceremony in the Japanese Kibo module. As he turned over command, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka says he regrets his impending departure but thanks the other crew members for supporting each other and for working together. Kelly praises Padalka’s wisdom and experience, saying it’s really been a privilege and an honor to serve as one of his crew members.
- August 31, 2015 – NASA Announces Second Target for New Horizons Spacecraft – NASA announces New Horizons’ next target: a small, icy body known as 2014 MU69. If NASA approves a mission extension, the spacecraft will visit the object, an intermediate–size Kuiper belt object which is almost a billion miles beyond Pluto, in 2019.
- August 28, 2015 – ISRO Conducts Successful GSLV Rocket Launch – ISRO successfully launches the GSAT–6 satellite using a GSLV–D6 rocket with an indigenous cryogenic engine, making it the second successful launch in a row for the technology. The first time the rocket was sent into space was back in January 2014 following two failures in 2010.
- August 27, 2015 – NASA Tests Engine for Next–Gen Rocket – NASA completes the first series of developmental testing on its RS–25 engines, which will be used on the Space Launch System (SLS) for missions into deep space. The tests conclude following a seventh hot fire test from the A–1 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The test on the developmental RS–25 engine ran for 535 seconds.
- August 26, 2015 – New Ceres Images Highlight Four–Mile–High Mountain – The latest images of the dwarf planet Ceres taken by the Dawn spacecraft, feature a four–mile–tall mountain. The images also reveal more of the Occator crater, along with its bright spots. JPL’s Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, says, The spacecraft’s view is now three times as sharp as in its previous mapping orbit, revealing exciting new details of this intriguing dwarf planet.
- August 26, 2015 – Global Hawk UAV Launches Today to Study Tropical Storm Erika – NASA and NOAA launch a Global Hawk UAV from the Wallops Flight Facility to study Tropical Storm Erika for the preliminary phase of the Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology project. A NASA press release claims that the information from the flights may bring “a drastic improvement in predicting such weather events as tropical storms, winter storms and major floods."
- August 24, 2015 – UK Airshow Turns Deadly – A military jet crashes into a busy road during the Shoreham Airshow in Sussex, causing a massive fireball. While the pilot survives the crash at least seven others are killed.
- August 19, 2015 – Teal Group Study Finds UAV Market Will Triple Over Next Decade – According to a market study by the Teal Group, the UAV market will more than triple in value over the next decade to $14 billion with sales of about $93 billion over that same period. According to the article, the study found that the military will still account for 72% of the market, with consumer UAVs at 23%, and 5% from the civil/commercial sector.
- August 14, 2015 – 2015 Sees Dramatic Increase In UAS Sightings Near Planes – NBC Nightly News reports a dramatic increase in drones spotted flying near planes, citing the FAA, and “now the government is looking for ways to take some of the air out of the high–flying hobby.” NBC said that the “latest high–flying scare” occurred in Fresno, California, when a drone was part of “a near miss” with a “medivac helicopter transporting a patient.” A new FAA report noted that “the number of incidents like this has tripled.” The The FAA said that through August 9, pilots spotted UAS while flying over 650 times in 2015, as opposed to only 238 sightings last year. The AP reports that there were 137 UAS sightings by pilots in June and 137 in July, a sharp rise from the 16 and 36 sightings reported in June and July of 2014, respectively.
- August 13, 2015 – Startup Flies First Legal UAV Over New York City Today – Aerobo Aerial Robotics flies a UAV over New York City today using a federal permit. Bills have been introduced in the New York City Council that would limit most UAV flights while the FAA crafts regulations for commercial use of the pilotless aircraft. Councilman Daniel Garodnick has introduced a measure that would only allow law enforcement to operate UAVs.
- August 10, 2015 – Astronauts Eat Food Grown In Space for First Time – For the first time, astronauts eat red romaine lettuce grown in space. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren calls it “awesome,” and Scott Kelly says it was like arugula. Kelly says, “Having the ability for us to grow our own food is a big step” toward sending people to Mars. The New York Times describes the event as “a long–awaited harvest for the astronauts.”
- August 10, 2015 – 3–D Printed UAV Launched from Ship – Engineers at the University of Southampton, in the United Kingdom, build a UAV using 3–D printing, and then successfully launch it from the Royal Navy warship HMS Mersey. The craft flies approximately 1,640 feet to land safely on shore. The SULSA UAV takes about 48 hours to print and cool before it’s ready to use; its four parts click into place like a puzzle toy.
- August 7, 2015 – Rosetta Spacecraft Marks First Anniversary Orbiting Comet 67P – ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft is still returning new images and insights into comet 67P one year after entering orbit. Nicolas Altobelli, acting Rosetta project scientist, says in a statement that there has been “a wealth of information” obtained over the past year.
- August 4, 2015 – Airbus Patents Plane That Flies Faster Than Concorde – Airbus patents an ultra–rapid air vehicle featuring new turbojets and a hydrogen power system, that is able to travel twice as fast as the Concorde. The patent is only approved for a period of one year, and that it is unlikely the vehicle will become a reality any time soon.
- July 31, 2015 – F–35B Ready to Take Part In Combat Missions –Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford announces that the F–35 is ready to engage in combat missions. The first squadron of 10 F–35Bs will operate out of Yuma Air Force Base.
- July 30, 2015 – Facebook Creates Its First UAV, Which Will Eventually Use Lasers to Beam Data – Facebook announces that it has constructed its first unmanned drone and found a way to vastly increase the capacity of the lasers that will eventually beam data between the drone network and the ground. A team in Great Britain has been building the Aquila solar–powered UAV for about 14 months, and it is now ready for its first in–flight tests, likely to be in the U.S.
- July 28, 2015 – NTSB Faults Scaled Composites and FAA for Fatal Flight Test – The NTSB announces on Tuesday, July 28, that the in–flight breakup of Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipTwo flight on October 31, 2014 was most likely the result of human error, which Scaled Composites failed to consider when designing the feather braking system.
- July 24, 2015 – Kepler Finds Closest Earth Analog So Far – NASA announces that the Kepler space telescope discovered an exoplanet known as Kepler 452b, which may be the closest thing yet to Earth.
- July 24, 2015 – Teams Have Completed SLS’ Critical Design Review – 13 teams complete the Space Launch System’s (SLS) critical design review at the Marshal Space Flight Center. If the SLS passes, NASA will begin full–scale building of the rocket. SLS Program Manager Todd May says, “Critical design review represents a major commitment by the agency to human exploration...and through these reviews, we ensure the SLS design is on track to being a safe, sustainable and evolvable launch vehicle that will meet the agency’s goals and missions. It’s an exciting time for NASA and our nation."
- July 20, 2015 – UAV Delivers Prescription Medications in Rural Southwest Virginia – The “Kitty Hawk moment” in UAV deliveries is made by a medical drone in Virginia that brings multiple shipments of prescription drugs to about a dozen patients in the Appalachian region. The deliveries are one of the first federally approved deliveries by drone.
- July 16, 2015 – Effort to Fly Solar–Powered Plane Around World Suspended – An attempt to fly a solar–powered plane around the world is ending in Hawaii after suffering battery damage. The Solar Impulse team says in a news release that it will continue the attempt to circumnavigate the globe, but overheating caused damage. The pilots say in a statement that while the flight has “cover[ed] nearly half of the journey, setbacks are part of the challenges of a project which is pushing technological boundaries to the limits.”
- July 14, 2015 – New Horizons Reveals Pluto’s Size One Day Before Historic Flyby – The New Horizons mission reveals that Pluto is larger than previously calculated. The CBS Evening News broadcast that the first close–ups of Pluto will be seen on Wednesday, July 15.
- July 13, 2015 – Prototype Electric Plane Crosses English Channel –Airbus Group SE’s electric two–seat E–Fan demonstrator plane flies across the English Channel – from Lydd, England to Calais, France – in 36 minutes. The craft misses being the first electric plane to cross the channel as private pilot Hugues Duval flew it in his home–built, single–seat Cri–Cri plane.
- July 6, 2015 – Solar Impulse 2 Completes Record Setting Flight Across Pacific, Lands In Hawaii –Solar Impulse 2 flew a record–breaking 118–hour journey across the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii. With its landing on Friday, the plane completed the riskiest leg of the plane’s global travels as there was nowhere for it to land in an emergency.
- June 29, 2015 – SpaceX Suffers Launch Failure – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket fails to launch cargo to the ISS, another setback for both NASA and SpaceX, which wants to one day send astronauts to the ISS. This is the third cargo launch failure in eight months. The ISS crew is in no immediate trouble, with ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini revealing that the station has enough food to last until October.
- June 15, 2015 – Contact Reestablished With Philae Lander – Contact is reestablished with the Philae lander, which had not been heard from since it landed on a comet last year. Signals of activity were received for about a minute and a half.
- June 9, 2015 – DJI Releases Its First UAV Guidance System – DJI releases its first guidance system for UAVs, which entails a combination of ultrasonic sensors and stereo cameras to sense objects within 65 feet. It will be technology like DJI’s that will allow UAVs to become part of “everyday life, enabling ambitious projects like Amazon’s Prime Air.”
- June 5, 2015 – Russia Successfully Launches Its First Rocket Since Cargo Mission Failure –A Soyuz 2.1A rocket successfully launches with a Russian military satellite, the first time since a much–publicized failure in April of a Progress cargo spacecraft to the ISS.
- June 2, 2015 – F–35 to Take Part In Its First Major Military Exercise – A F–35 fighter jet takes part in its first major military exercise. The exercise examines how the jet conducts air–to–surface encounters. General Herbert Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, says that even though the program still needs to work out how some data is displayed to pilots in the cockpit, the jet still is “impressive.”
- May 27, 2015 – Marine Corps F–35s Undergoing First Operational Tests at Sea –Marine Corps F–35 jets are undergoing their first operational testing at sea from the amphibious assault ship Wasp.
- May 22, 2015 – Sikorsky S–97 Raider Makes Its First Flight – Sikorsky’s S–97 Raider makes its first flight. Officials expect the S–97 Raider to reach its top speed of 276 mph sometime this year.
- May 20, 2015 – Gulfstream Announces First Test Flight of G500 – Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announces the first test flight of its G500 business jet. The plane will undergo three years of testing before the first delivery, planned for 2018.
- May 19, 2015 – SpaceX Falcon 9 Certified by NASA – NASA formally certifies SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket for use in all but the agency’s most costly robotic science missions. Its first launch will be for a United States and France oceanography satellite in July.
- May 13, 2015 – House Committee Adopts SPACE Act – The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee adopts the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015, which allows commercial spaceflight companies to “operate under clearer rules and extended liability protections.”
- May 13, 2015 – NASA Releases Draft Technology Roadmaps – NASA releases a new series of draft 2015 Technology Roadmaps on Monday, providing a detailed examination of the agency’s anticipated missions and technological advancements over the next two decades. According to the plan, NASA believes sharing this document with the broader community will "increase awareness, generate innovative solutions to provide the capabilities for space exploration and scientific discovery and inspire others to get involved in America’s space program."
- May 12, 2015 – SLS Enters Critical Design Review – The Space Launch System (SLS) enters its Critical Design Review (CDR), “the last step in the design process before the hardware starts to come together.”
- May 11, 2015 – Airbus A400M Crashes During Test Flight In Spain – An Airbus A400M crashes during a test flight in Spain, which raises questions about the security of the brand new, propeller–driven transport aircraft. Four of the six crew members aboard the plane die. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says, “I hope there will be maximum transparency when explanations are made as to what happened here. That’s what I’m going to ask of Airbus.”
- May 8, 2015 – Flight Tests Begin for Leap–1B Engine – Fights tests begin on CFM International’s Leap–1B engine that will be used by the Boeing 737 MAX, another step toward the start of 737 MAX flight tests in 2016.
- May 7, 2015 – SpaceX Successfully Tests Pad Abort System –SpaceX successfully tests a launch escape system, an important advance in private space flight. NASA spokesman Mike Curie says that the test for the manned version of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft was “unlike any seen in Florida since the days of Apollo.”
- May 5, 2015 – RMAX UAV Receives FAA Approval to Spray Crops – The FAA announces that a UAV called RMAX, which is large enough to carry tanks of fertilizers and pesticides, was given approval by the agency last Friday for use in the U.S. RMAX is manufactured by Yamaha Corp and is a remotely piloted helicoptermthat will spray crops.
- May 4, 201 5 – Study Shows Astronauts Could Suffer Brain Damage from Radiation – A new NASA–funded study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Nevada determines that prolonged exposure to the radiation in deep space “could cause subtle brain damage,” negatively affecting memory and decision making.
- April 30, 2015 – FAA Switches to New Air Traffic Control System –,The FAA announces that it has “switched to a new air traffic control system” called En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) “for the 20 regional centers that direct high–altitude planes between airports.” The system has “three times as many sensors to track planes more precisely.” While announcing the upgrade at Reagan National Airport, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says, “Here’s the bottom line: ERAM will use satellite technology to give us a much more precise picture of air traffic and it will allow us to more efficiently manage flights from takeoff to touchdown.”
- April 30, 2015 – New Shepard Capsule Reaches Altitude of 58 Miles On First Flight – The first unmanned flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, which reaches an altitude of 58 miles. Although it “parachuted to a landing in the west Texas desert,” the booster itself was not recovered after it suffered from “a pressure problem.”
- April 29, 2015 – Lockheed Martin Develops New UAV to Help Locate Lost Individuals – Lockheed Martin announces it has developed a new Indago UAV to assist in the location of people with cognitive disabilities or diseases. The new UAV should reduce the amount of time and costs involved in locating those who are lost.
- April 22, 2015 – X–47B Becomes First Unmanned Aircraft To Undergo Aerial Refueling – The Northrop Grumman X–47B test aircraft became the first unmanned aircraft to undergo and successfully execute an aerial refueling. Navy Captain Beau Duarte, the program manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program, says that the capability demonstrated should improve the range of future UAVs.
- April 15, 2015 – Airbus Reveals First Leap–Powered A320neo – Airbus reveals its first A320neo to be fitted with the CFM International Leap–1A powerplant. Although CFM produces the CFM56 for the A320 family, the Leap is designed to slash fuel–burn on the re–engined variant.
- April 14, 2015 – UAV Flies Using Smartphone’s Camera – The University of Pennsylvania and Qualcomm demonstrate how a UAV with a smartphone strapped into its skeleton body can fly using the phone’s camera to steer from visual input.
- April 13, 2015 – ULA Unveils New Vulcan Rocket Concept – United Launch Alliance (ULA) reveals details about its new Vulcan rocket, which will have reusable engines, which could lower launch prices. The rocket will be used for multistop missions as well. the rocket is ULA’s way to deal with the rise of SpaceX and Congress’ displeasure with the reliance on Russian engines for launches. Reuters reports that the Vulcan could fly as early in 2019, while the Centaur engine is scheduled to be replaced by 2023.
- April 11, 2015 – Apollo 13 Launched 45 Years Ago – 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 launch, which becomes one of NASA’s “greatest triumphs” after crews successfully bring the astronauts back home safely on April 17.
- April 9, 2015 – FAA Approves Amazon UAV Use for Delivery Service Research – USA Today reports that “the FAA announced that Amazon was one of 30 exemptions the agency granted a day earlier for commercial drones.” USA Today notes that Amazon plans to use drones in research for a proposed delivery service called Amazon Prime Air.
- April 9, 2015 – AIG Becomes the Third Insurer to Gain FAA Approval for UAV Use – American International Group (AIG) has becomes the third insurer to gain the FAA’s approval to use a UAV for inspections. According to the article, UAVs can potentially transform the insurance industry. With insurers USAA and AIG, the FAA has approved a total of 99 commercial UAV operations.
- April 7, 2015 – FAA Grants USAA Permission to Test Small UAVs In San Antonio – USAA receives FAA permission “to test small drones on its San Antonio campus and in some unpopulated, rural areas south of the city.” USAA “eventually wants to be able to use the drones to expedite insurance claims from customers following natural disasters.” State Farm is the first insurer to gain FAA approval to use a UAV.
- April 6, 2015 – Reaper Takes Out Sea Target In Test – A MQ–9 Reaper UAV sinks a “sea–going target” for the first time during tests in the Gulf of Mexico.
- March 30, 2015 – Astronaut Scott Kelly Begins Nearly Year Long Mission On Board ISS – ABC World News declares Astronaut Scott Kelly the “Person of the Week” on its Friday broadcast for agreeing to spend almost an entire year in space. NASA will now study [Scott Kelly and his brother Mark Kelly] with nearly identical genetic makeup to show what a year in space does to the human body. The idea being, one day, missions to Mars might take even longer than a year. The mission is about twice as long as a standard mission. This is NASA’s first attempt at a one–year spaceflight; four Russians have spent a year or more in space.
- March 30, 2015 – NASA Chooses Option B for Asteroid Redirection Mission – Florida Today reports on the decision by NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot to send a spacecraft to an asteroid and retrieve a boulder from it and put it into orbit around the moon. Lightfoot explains the attraction of the chosen asteriod, saying, “I’m going to have multiple targets when I get there, is what it boils down to.” Current plans are to launch the spacecraft in 2020. The Spaceflight Insider reported that NASA concluded that Option B would cost $100 million more than Option A, towing an entire asteroid into lunar orbit. Lightfoot said that the mission “will provide an initial demonstration of several spaceflight capabilities we will need to send astronauts deeper into space, and eventually, to Mars.”
- March 30, 2015 – Carriers, Regulators Move to Require at Least Two Pilots In Cockpits – United Airlines parent company United Continental Holdings ends its policy of allowing just one pilot in the cockpit of some Boeing Co. jetliners following the Germanwings crash, which investigators say was intentionally done by the co–pilot. Many airlines and regulators move to require that no pilot be alone. Lufthansa announces “that it will now require two authorized crew members in the cockpit of its flights at all times.” Similar announcements come from a number of other carriers, including Air Canada, EasyJet, and Norwegian Air Shuttle, even as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommends that all European airlines require two authorized people in the cockpit of a commercial flight. Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says a similar policy went into effect immediately for passenger flights there.
- March 24, 2015 – German Airbus A320 Crashes in French Alps – An Airbus A320 airliner flying from Barcelona to Düsseldorf crashes in the mountains of southern France. The Airbus A320 making the flight for Lufthansa’s subsidiary, Germanwings, crashes near the small mountain village of Barcelonette in the southern Alps with at least 144 passengers and six crew members on board.
- March 20, 2015 – FAA Approves Amazon’s Request for Experimental Use of Drones Outdoors – The Federal Aviation Administration gives Amazon a green light to begin testing drones, allowing the company to conduct test flights of its drones outdoors, as long as [it] obeys a host of rules like flying below 400 feet and only during daylight hours. The drones must be operated by a pilot with a certificate to fly a private manned aircraft. The company continues to seek more flexibility from the FAA.
- March 18, 2015 – MQ–9 Reaper Fleet Achieves One Million Flight Hours – The operational fleet of MQ–9 Reaper UAVs, which serves the U.S. air force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, and the Italian, U.K. and French air forces, has flown for a cumulative one million flight hours as of this month. TGeneral Atomics Aeronautical Systems says that it could double the current production rate of the UAVs if needed.
- March 17, 2015 – FAA Approves More UAV Uses by Commercial Companies – UAV operator 3D Aerial Solutions LLC Becomes one of the few firms in the U.S. with the FAA’s blessing to fly a drone commercially. The FAA program grants permission to less than 50 UAV operators around the country. TFAA rules are currently under public review and “may be in place within two years.”
- March 12, 2015 – SLS Booster Tests In Spectacular Display – NASA successfully test fires a souped–up version of a space shuttle solid rocket booster, for two minutes. With the first pre–flight test for the Space Launch System, NASA is one step closer to undertaking deep space missions.
- March 9, 2015 – Solar Impulse–2 Begins Its Flight Around the World – Solar Impulse–2 starts its effort to become the first solar–powered plane to fly around the world. This will be a more dramatic and daunting trip than the one it took across the U.S. two years ago. Desspite all the preparations, success is not guaranteed because of the weather. However, simulations have shown that the trip is possible, given the right weather conditions.
- March 7, 2015 – Dawn Becomes First Spacecraft to Visit a Dwarf Planet –The Dawn spacecraft enters Ceres’ orbit, making it the first spacecraft ever to visit a dwarf planet. Dawn Chief Engineer Marc Rayman says: “It went exactly the way we expected. Dawn gently, elegantly slid into Ceres’ gravitational embrace. ... The real drama is exploring this alien, exotic world.”
- March 6, 2015 – Dawn Spacecraft Arrives at Ceres Today – Once the spacecraft is in orbit, Ceres will no longer be "the largest unexplored space rock in the inner solar system," according to the Associated Press
- March 5 2015 – FAA Approves Airworthiness For U.S.–Made Airbus AS350 AStar – FAA grants airworthiness certification to the first Airbus AS350 AStar helicopter to be entirely assembled in the U.S. Airbus said that its Columbus, Mississippi, plant was set up to produce 30 AStars in 2015 and 60 or more in 2016 and beyond.
- February 27, 2015 – Bombardier CSeries 300 Makes Its First Flight –Bombardier’s CSeries 300 makes its first flight after being delayed a day because of frigid winter weather. The flight was a welcome light at the end of the tunnel for a program that has suffered delays and rising costs.
- February 27, 2015 – Solar Impulse 2 Flies Over Abu Dhabi In Test Flight – Thee Solar Impulse 2 plane completesa 12–hour test flight over Abu Dhabi preparing for its ambitious plan to fly around the world using just solar energy.
- February 26, 2015 – Researchers Reveal First 3D Printed Engine – Monash University researchers reveal the first 3D–printed jet engine, which is now being commercialized by Amaero Engineering. Simon Marriott, chief executive of Amaero, said that the engine could be flight–tested within a year, with certification to follow two to three years from now.
- February 24, 2015 – Russia Will Remain In ISS Partnership Through 2024 – Roscosmos states that it plans to utilize the ISS through 2024. After that, Russia will use its segment of the station to develop its own space station.
- February 24 2015 – X–37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team Wins AIAA Foundation Award For Excellence – The AIAA Foundation announces it will award the X–37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team the 2015 AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence, which is given to those “deserving organizations or individuals for extraordinary accomplishments in the promotion of aerospace.” Mike Griffin, chair of the AIAA Foundation, says, “There can be no more deserving winner for this year’s Foundation Award for Excellence than the X–37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team. ... Through three missions the vehicle has advanced our national security interests, enhanced our ability to operate in space, and served as a reliable test bed for technologies that could transform the future of spaceflight. Future programs will owe much to the X–37B team, and that is why the Foundation selected it for this year’s award.”
- Feburary 18, 2015 – Progress Spacecraft Launches and Docks at ISS On Tuesday – A Progress cargo spacecraft launches from Kazakhstan and then docks at the ISS six hours later. There are problems with the automatic docking procedures.
- February 15, 2015 – FAA Proposes Rules for Commercial UAV Use – The FAA unveils proposed rules that will permit the commercial operation of unmanned aircraft. Anchor Lester Holt states on NBC Nightly News that although unmanned commercial UAVs are currently banned, with the FAA proposal, "they’re one step closer to getting permission to fly now." Correspondent Tom Costello reports that, under the rules, drones “would only be permitted to fly during daylight hours, under 500 feet at 100 miles per hour or less and five miles away from airports.” In addition, pilots “would have to maintain constant visual contact with their drones and be required to hold a new FAA flight certificate.”
- February 14, 2015 – Last ATV Leaves ISS – On Saturday, February 14, Europe’s last Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) undocks from the ISS to destructively reenter the atmosphere. Because of a minor power issue, a plan to use the “suicide plunge” to plan for the ISS’ eventual deorbiting is scrapped.
- February 6, 2015 – Dassault Falcon 8X Begins Flight Test Campaign – Dassault Aviation begins flight testing its Falcon 8X ultra–long–range business jet on Friday, February 6, 2015. Test pilot Eric Gérard says that the plane has “excellent handling qualities.” Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation chairman and chief executive, added that the plane is now heading toward a 2016 certification.
- February 5, 2015 – 2014 Was “Safest Year Ever” for Flying – BBC News reports that “when you look at the number of crashes and fatalities compared to the huge number of people flying today,” we are “in a golden era of aircraft safety.” According to “safety analysts Ascend, 2014 was narrowly the safest year ever, with one fatal accident per 2.38 million flights, compared to every 1.91 million flights the year before.” According to the article, “every new generation of aircraft has been safer than the one before.”
- February 4, 2015 – TransAsia Airways ATR 72 Crashes Soon After Takeoff – A TransAsia Airways ATR 72 propjet aircraft with 58 passengers crashes soon after takeoff in Taiwan after it “turned on its side in midair, clipped an elevated roadway and careened into a river.” Officials are reporting that at least 15 people are dead and that 30 people are still missing. Tis the second time one of the airline’s ATR 72s has crashed this past year.
- January 30, 2015 – First Citation Latitude Rolls Off Production Line – Cessna rolls the first Citation Latitude off its production line. The FAA could certify the plane in the second quarter of 2015.
- January 28, 2015 – Boeing to Build Next Version of Air Force One – The Pentagon announces Wednesday, January 28, 2015, that the contract to build the next version of Air Force One will go to Boeing for the latest generation 747, the 800 series.
- January 26, 2015 – UAV Crashes On White House Lawn – A “small drone” crashes onto the White House grounds early Monday morning, “raising alarms.” ABC reports that about six hours after the crash, “a man called the Secret Service to tell them that he lost control of the device, which he says he was using recreationally.” The Secret Service say “it is developing counter measures, concerned that future drones might well be dangerous.”
- January 23, 2015 – Aurora Flight Sciences Claims Orion UAV Achieved Endurance Record – Aurora Flight Sciences claims that its Orion UAV achieved “a world endurance record” when it flew for 80 hours in December. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) could certify the accomplishment “within weeks.” The Orion UAV is being developed to provide the Air Force with a medium–altitude long–endurance (MALE) vehicle that can fly up to five days.
- January 21, 2015 – UAV Crashes During Demonstration at Capitol Hill Hearing – At a House Science, Space and Technology Committee meeting regarding the FAA’s UAV regulations, a Parrot Bebop UAV “stole the show” when it crashed during a demonstration. The UAV was able to continue with the display.
- January 20, 2015 – SpaceX Announces Satellite Internet Venture – Elon Musk hosts an event in Seattle to launch a new satellite Internet venture.
- January 20, 2015 – FAA Approves UAS Testing at University of Missouri – The University of Missouri (MU) wins federal approval “to fly drones over university–owned lands in south–central Missouri,” making it “the first approval the university has received for a drone project.” The FAA granted approval to the joint application between MU, the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Saint Louis University, which plan to do “a slew of research and economic development projects at the Wurdack Research Center in Cook Station.”
- January 16, 2015 – New Horizons Spacecraft Begins Approach Phase for Pluto Flyby – Ten U.S. news companies are following CNN’s lead in testing UAVs for news gathering, in efforts to persuade the FAA to remove the ban on UAVs for reporting purposes. Virginia Tech University will assist the UAV study at one of the six test areas approved by Congress. The media outlets include the New York Times Co., the AP, NBCUniversal, Advance Publications, A.H. Belo, Gannett, Getty Images, E.W. Scripps, Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Washington Post. According to the New York Times, the news companies said in a statement that the study is “designed to conduct controlled safety testing of a series of real–life scenarios where the news media could use small U.A.S. technology to gather the news.”
- January 15, 2015 – New Horizons Spacecraft Begins Approach Phase for Pluto Flyby – Today, January 15, 2015, marks a “significant day” for NASA and the New Horizons mission with the start of “the first phrase of approach” of Pluto. The spacecraft is still 135 million miles away from its closest approach, which will come in July.
- January 14, 2015 – Navy Chooses V–22 Osprey for Future COD – The U.S. Navy decides to replace its C–2A Greyhound turboprop aircraft with V–22 Osprey tiltrotors for carrier on board delivery missions. The memorandum of understanding states that the Navy will purchase four Osprey aircraft “each year from fiscal 2018 to 2020.” Breaking Defense called the decision a “milestone in the history of the revolutionary V–22” and “a major triumph for the Naval Air Systems Command V–22 program office, the Marine Corps and other Osprey advocates.”
- January 12, 2015 – CNN Teaming with FAA to Test UAVs for Reporting – CNN announcemes that the cable network is teaming with the FAA in a “Cooperative Research and Development Agreement” to advance efforts to use UAVs as a reporting tool, attempting to find solutions to obstacles before possible widespread deployment by the media. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said: “Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities. ... We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.”
- January 12, 2015 – Airbus A330–300 Makes Its First Flight – On January 12, an Airbus A330–300, an A330 “with an increased 242–tonne maximum takeoff weight capability” makes its first flight in its test campaign. If all goes as planned, it should be delivered to its first customer in the second quarter. The article noted that this version of the A330 is the “basis” for the A330neo now under development.
- January 10, 2015 – SpaceX Rocket Main Booster Returns to Platform but Fails to Stick Landing – On Saturday, January 10, 2015, SpaceX succesfully launches a Dragon capsule with cargo to the ISS, with its replacements for cargo lost during Orbital Sciences’ launch failure in October. However, SpaceX suffers a “high–profile flop” when its “unprecedented” attempt to land the Falcon 9’s main booster on a barge fails. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is reportedly “encouraged” that the booster was able to fly back to the barge even though it landed too hard.
- January 6, 2015 – FAA Grants UAV Permits for Agriculture, Real Estate Companies – The FAA issues exceptions to the commercial UAV ban, permitting Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, to monitor crops and Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona, to photograph properties for sale, marking the first time permits have been granted to agriculture and real estate companies. The FAA had previously granted exemptions for the oil and gas, filmmaking, landfill, and other industries. The permits are conditional upon UAV operations using both a ground pilot and an observer; the pilot having at least an FAA private pilot certificate and a current medical certificate; and the UAV remaining within sight of the operator. FAA officials said that preventing potentially deadly collisions between UAVs and manned aircraft is their top priority.
- January 7, 2015 – Small UAV Market To Exceed $8 Billion by 2019 – According to ABI Research, the small UAV market will exceed “$8.4 billion by 2019.” It is estimated that commercial usage alone will reach $5.1 billion or more. ABI categorizes small UAVs as those with “a maximum take–off weight of less than 11kg.”
- January 2, 2015 – FAA Fails to Meet 2014 Goal for UAV Regulations – the FAA misses a self–imposed year–end deadline for releasing rules for commercial UAVs, much to the chagrin of a multi–billion–dollar industry
that was eagerly awaiting the regulations. The FAA sent a draft of the rules to the White House on Oct. 23, but the Office of Management and Budget has not released them yet. The FAA asserted that they are more focused on getting the rules
right than releasing them quickly, as they contend they must deal with complex issues. Bloomberg News reported that the FAA said, “We are continuing to work with our administration colleagues to finish the rule[s]. ... It is
our goal to get the proposal right.” In 2012, Congress ordered the FAA to publish rules to integrate commercial drones by 30 September 2015.
- December 23, 2014 – Airbus Delivers First A350 To Qatar Airways – Airbus delivers the first A350 to Qatar Airways, making it the first customer to receive the plane.
- December 11, 2014 – Four Companies Gain FAA Approval for UAV Operations – Four companies win FAA approval to fly commercial drones to conduct aerial surveys, monitor construction sites and inspect oil flare stacks. Trimble Navigation Limited, VDOS Global, Clayco Inc. and Woolpert Inc. were officially provided the agency’s approval.
- December 5, 2014 – University of Maryland’s UAV Testing Site Now Operational – The University of Maryland’s UAV testing site is now operational. A team led by Matt Scassero, who also directs the facility, launched a Talon 240 UAV on Friday, December 5, 2014, as the inaugural flight.
- December 5, 2014 – Orion Test Flight Launches – NASA launchs its Orion spacecraft on a test flight on Friday morning, a day after various issues caused the agency to scrub the initial launch attempt. The AP reports Orion “streaked toward orbit Friday on a high–stakes test flight meant to usher in a new era of human exploration leading ultimately to Mars.” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. said, “The star of the day is Orion,” adding that this is “Day One of the Mars era.”
- December 5, 2014 – U.S. Navy Receives First Operational MQ–8C Fire Scout – The first operational MQ–8C Fire Scout UAV is delivered to the U.S. Navy. The delivery comes ahead of the Fire Scout’s first ship–board flight tests scheduled to begin on the USS Jason Dunham destroyer.
- November 26, 2014 – ISS’ 3–D Printer Creates First Object Made In Space – The ISS’s new 3–D printer replicates its first part: “a sample replacement part for itself.” Dan Huot, a NASA spokesman,
said that some of the material stuck to the printer’s tray, but called it “part of the learning process.” Made In Space, which developed the printer, calls the milestone “a transformative moment.”
- November 26, 2014 – FAA Launches NextGen at Washington, DC Area Airports – The FAA announces Tuesday that it has completed work related to the NextGen project in the Washington Metroplex, which covers the airspace that surroundsReagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Baltimore–Washington International Airport (BWI). FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the technology would significantly “ease air traffic congestion around the nation’s capital.”
- November 23, 2014 – Italy’s First Female Astronaut Arrives at ISS – NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency join their Expedition 42 crew members when hatches between their Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station opened at midnight EST Sunday, November 23, 2014.
- November 13, 2014 – F–35 Makes Its First Nighttime Launch Off of Carrier – A U.S. Navy F–35C makes its first nighttime flight from an aircraft carrier Thursday, November 13, 2014. The milestone comes as the Navy approaches the end of sea–based testing aboard the USS Nimitz. To date, the Navy has conducted 101 catapult launches.
- November 13, 2014 – FAA Certifies Airbus A350 – Airbus announced that the FAA has certified its A350 jetliner. This followed European Aviation Safety Agency certification back in September. Reuters reported that the A350 should enter service by the end of the year.
- November 12, 2014 – Rosetta’s Lander Philae Lands Successfully on Comet – At 11:03 a.m. EST, Wednesday, the European Space Agency confirms that signals were received from the Rosetta spacecraft's Philae lander on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, marking the first time that a spacecraft has made a soft landing on a comet. Rosetta is an international mission led by the ESA, with instruments provided by member states, and additional support and instruments provided by NASA.
- November 2, 2014 – F–35C Lands On Aircraft Carrier for First Time – A Lockheed Martin F–35C successfully lands on the USS Nimitz on Monday, November 2, 2014, the first time the jet has ever landed on an aircraft carrier using a tailhook system. Since the project was restructured back in 2010, the program has generally met scheduled targets, although testing has been delayed by 45 to 50 days because of a fleet–wide grounding earlier in 2014. The current sea–based trials will continue through November, 17, 2014.
- October 31, 2014 – Assembly Complete On Orion Spacecraft – Lockheed Martin Space Systems completes assembly of the Orion capsule, and is ready to be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center for its first launch on December 4, 2014.
- October 30, 2014 – SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Test Flight – Virgin Galactic’s space tourism rocket, SpaceShipTwo, explodes after taking off on a test flight in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. One pilot is killed and another injured, according to the California Highway Patrol. The SpaceShipTwo rocket, which has been under development at Mojave Air and Space Port, is normally flown by a crew of two pilots. “During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo,” Virgin Galactic tweeted Friday, October 30, 2014.
- October 29, 2014 – F–35C Jet Lands at Naval Air Station Oceana for First Time – For the first time, an operational F–35C jet lands at Naval Air Station Oceana, “the Navy’s master jet base on the East Coast.” The F–35C is sent to the base so that aviators can “view it and receive a briefing from the jet’s flight crew and maintainers.”
- October 28, 2014 – Lifeguard UAV Set for Mass Production – Popular Science reports on a lifeguard UAV that will one day be able to help drowning swimmers by flying above them and releasing a life preserver. The Pars UAV is designed by Amin Rigi and RTS Labs, and now Rigi is “launching an RTS Labs offshoot, RTS London, to mass produce the drones.” In one test video, the UAV “reaches a swimmer in 22 seconds, more than a full minute faster than a lifeguard who started at the same time.”
- October 21, 2014 – Bombardier’s Learjet 85 Debuts at NBAA – Bombardier’s Learjet 85 debuts at the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Orlando. Bombardier Business Aircraft President Eric Martel says the aircraft “flies beautifully and there are no changes planned,” but he does not disclose the certification timetable for the Learjet 85, which was launched in 2007 and was scheduled for service entry in 2013. He adds that its maiden flight took place in April, and that it has made 60 flights since then.
- October 16, 2014 – After 674 Days In Space, X–37B Space Plane Lands – The U.S. Air Force’s X–37B “top secret” space plane lands safely at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday, October 16, 2014, after spending 674 days in orbit.
- October 13, 2014 – Gulfstream Unveils Two New Business Jets – On Tuesday, October 14, 2014, Gulfstream rolls out a completed G500 test aircraft, which was developed in secret, as part of the unveiling of the new G500 and G600 business jets.
- October 15, 2014 – Bell Helicopter Shows First Full–Scale Mockup of Its V–280 Valor – Bell Helicopter debuts its first full–scale mockup of the V–280 Valor tiltrotor at the AUSA conference and exhibition. According to Bell, the aircraft will have “twice the range and double the speed of any existing helicopter,” and unlike the V–22 Osprey, its rotors “tilt independent of its two engines,” allowing for “variable pitch and better stability in hover and transition.”
- October 8, 2014 – NASA Testing Drones to Spot Wildfires – NASA’s Langley Research Center enters a one–year agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “to test small unmanned drones for the detection of brush and forest fires” at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Army provided the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at no cost to NASA, and infrared and visual cameras were added. Mike Logan, the research lead at NASA Langley, said that such UAVs, compared to manned aircraft, cost less, can be used more frequently, and can be used sooner when spotting fires.
- October 3, 2014 – Sikorsky Unveils S–97 Raider Prototype – Sikorsky unveils the S–97 Raider, the prototype of a revolutionary rotocraft design that could dramatically improve the speed and hover capabilities of traditional helicopter. The S–97 Raider has dual coaxial rotors for vertical lift and a forward thrusting tail propeller, a combination, that allows for flight characteristics that are physically impossible for existing rotorcraft designs.
- October 1, 2014 – EASA Certifies Airbus A350 – The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approves the Airbus A350–900 for passenger flights. The A350–1000, will undergo a separate approval process before entering service in 2017.
- September 25, 2014 – FAA Grants Film Companies Exemption On Commercial UAV Ban – The FAA cracked open the door Thursday, September 25, 2014, to commercial drones in the continental USA by granting six movie companies exemptions to a general ban on commercial drones, marking a significant step as the agency develops comprehensive rules for drones to share the skies with passenger planes, an effort likely to take years.The announcement is made by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, and Christopher Dodd, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.
- September 25, 2014 – Airbus A320neo Makes First Flight – Airbus flies its new A320neo – an updated, more fuel–efficient version of its medium–haul A320 passenger plane – on its first of several test flights before deliveries to waiting customers are expected to begin in 2015. The narrow–body, two–engine aircraft takes off from Toulouse–Blagnac airport in southwest France where Airbus is headquartered for a two–hour flight. The plane, whose "neo" designation stands for "new engine option,” is designed to consume 15 percent less fuel than the current A320s in service. Upgrades on the neo include aerodynamic improvements featuring little curved winglets, trimmed weight and more efficient engines.
- September 24, 2014 – India’s First Interplanetary Spacecraft Enters Mars’ Orbit – India successfully inserts its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), its first interplanetary spacecraft, into an orbit about Mars. This is considered a “major feat” for the country, showing its capability of performing complex missions.
- September 24, 2014 – F–22 Conducts Its First Combat Operation – The U.S. Air Force uses a “stealthy” F–22A Raptor in a combat mission for the first time. The jet was used to hit Islamic State targets in northern Syria.
- September 2, 2014 – MAVEN Successfully Reaches Mars – NASA confirms that MAVEN entered Mars’ orbit successfully.
- September 18, 2014 – Blue Origin to Develop Engines for ULA Rockets – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announces that Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos, will develop an engine to replace the Russian RD–180 engines in its rockets. Delta and Atlas rockets could be using the engines in about four years.
- September 17, 2014 – NASA Chooses Boeing, SpaceX to Develop New Spacecraft – NASA selects Boeing and SpaceX to develop the spacecraft that will launch astronauts to the ISS from American soil. Under the new deal, Boeing will get $4.2 billion and SpaceX $2.6 billion, to certify, test and fly their crew capsules. The two contracts call for at least two and as many as six missions for a crew of four as well as supplies and scientific experiments.
- September 11, 2014 – Curiosity Rover Reaches Base of Mount Sharp – Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson and two cosmonauts safely land back on Earth after spending almost six months at the ISS. The crew that Swanson led as commander accomplishes a record number of experiments, including a record 82 hours of research in a single week.
- September 7, 2014 – SpaceX Launches AsiaSat 6 Satellite – SpaceX successfully launches the AsiaSat 6 communications satellite aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, its second launch in just over a month. Liftoff occurred Sunday morning, September 7, 2014, at 1:00 a.m. EDT.
- September 3, 2014 – Future Navy, Air Force Jets Expected to Have Some Form of Artificial Intelligence – Popular Science reports that according to the U.S. Naval Institute, the Navy and Air Force’s future jet fighters will have some form of artificial intelligence, although not necessarily the same type. By taking over some duties, a pilot will have a “cognitive advantage in battle” because they have fewer items to focus on. According to the article, artificial intelligence is “one major way” that the military will increasingly team robotics and humans together.
- August 30, 2014 – Discovery Made Its First Launch 30 Years Ago – 30th anniversary of the first launch of space shuttle Discovery, the third space shuttle to join NASA’s fleet. Among the shuttle’s highlights were missions to launch the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in 1990 and a trip to the International Space Station in 2005. Following its last mission in 2011, Discovery was placed on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
- August 27, 2014 – SLS Passes Key Review, But Slips First Launch to 2018 – NASA’s Space Launch System passes a key internal review, allowing engineers to move forward with further planning. However, the rocket’s first launch has been pushed back from 2017 to 2018.
- August 26, 2014 – F–35 Flight Program Achieves Milestones In August – The Lockheed Martin F–35 Joint Strike Fighter program reaches a number of flight–test milestones, progressing steadily toward Initial Operational Capability. These milestones included weapons separation, software compatibility and flight hours.
- August 25, 2014 – Sea Launch Cuts Staff, Suspends Operations Until at Least 2015 – In order to compensate for the lack of launches, Sea Launch is cutting staff and taking its launch platforms out of service. The last launch took place in May 2014. Sea Launch expects to resume launches at some point during the mid–2015 to mid–2016 time frame.
- August 22, 2014 – SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Test Flight – Due to an anomaly, a reusable Falcon 9 rocket explodes during a test flight. SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said that the flight was automatically terminated as soon as the issue was detected. No one was injured.
- August 22, 2014 – Air Force Issues RFI for New Booster System – The U.S. Air Force issues a request for information (RFI) for a “booster propulsion and/or launch system materiel options that could deliver cost–effective, commercially–viable solutions for current and future National Security Space (NSS) launch requirements.” The Air Force is looking for an alternate to the Russian–made RD–180 rocket engine currently used on some American rockets.
- August 21, 2014 – U.S. Army, Lockheed Martin Successfully Test K–Max Unmanned Helicopter – The U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin successfully test the capability of the K–Max unmanned helicopter to deliver an autonomous ground vehicle. During the “Extending the Reach of the Warfighter through Robotics” testing, the K–Max delivered the Squad Mission Support System, which weighs up to 5,000 lbs, via a slingload.
- August 17, 2014 – X–47B Flies Alongside Of F/A–18 Hornet After Launching From Aircraft Carrier – The Navy launches, flies and lands the X–47B, a prototype unmanned aircraft, alongside an F/A–18 Hornet. The test takes place aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Rear Adm. Mat Winter, head of the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, said this test is “history in the making.”
- August 12, 2014 – ESA’s ATV Spacecraft Docks at ISS for Final Time – The ESA’s Georges Lemaitre Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the last spacecraft in the series, successfully docks at the ISS. This ATV spacecraft is expected to make history during its atmospheric reentry by gathering important data on the optimal angle to be used to de–orbit the ISS safely.
- August 7, 2014 – Rosetta Spacecraft Now Traveling with a Comet – The ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully reaches orbit around the comet it had been traveling toward over the past ten years. The pair are now flying in tandem, with plans for a gentle landing on the comet in November.
- August 5, 2014 – SpaceX Selects Texas for Commercial Launch Site – SpaceX decides to develop “the world’s first” commercial orbital launch site in Texas, which has offered more incentives to the company for the site.
- August 4, 2014 – SpaceX Will Use 3D–Printed Parts for Manned Dragon Missions – SpaceX announces that parts of the Falcon 9 rocket that launched in January were developed using 3D printing. The company also plans to use 3D–printed parts in the Dragon V2 spacecraft, which could bring astronauts to the ISS.
- August 1, 2014 – ULA Launches Next GPS Satellite – A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launches the U.S. Air Force’s GPS IIF–7 satellite on Friday, August 1, 2014, from Cape Canaveral. Liftoff occurred at 11:23 p.m. EDT. The satellite takes over the duties of a 17–year–old satellite, which will now become a backup satellite. It is the third of four GPS satellites launched this year to modernize the Department of Defense's largest constellation, now comprising 31 active spacecraft.
- July 20, 2014 – Apollo Landing Took Place 45 Years Ago – Sunday, July 20, 2014, marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder of the Apollo 11 lunar lander and placed his boot into the moon's dirt, as billions of people around the world watched. The moment still stands as perhaps the most memorable moment in all of human history, as the whole world stopped to watch what was taking place.
- July 18, 2014 – Texas Search–and–Rescue Group Readies Drones for Takeoff After Court Win Over FAA – Texas EquuSearch, a Houston–based group of volunteer search–and–rescue personnel who use drones to find missing persons across the U.S., is resuming operations following its courthouse victory, on Friday, July 18, 2014, against the FAA. A three–judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a “cease and desist” warning the FAA had issued against Texas EquuSearch in February 2014 to stop using UAVs didn’t have any legal consequences. The group had sued the agency, seeking to overturn its warning, although the FAA responded by issuing a statement saying the appeals judges’ ruling has no bearing on its authority to regulate the commercial use of UAVs. The FAA didn’t say whether it would take official action against EquuSearch to enforce a 2007 ban.
- July 18, 2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight Downed by Suspected Surface–to–Air Missile Over Ukraine – U.S. military and intelligence sources confirm to NBC News that the U.S. has evidence a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by a missile while flying at a high altitude over eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. Eyewitnesses on the ground reported seeing what looked like a missile, then an explosion in the sky. Malaysia Airlines said there were no distress calls from the plane. U.S. officials say they believe it was shot down. Secretary of State Kerry issued a statement Thursday night, July 17, saying the State Department was still reviewing whether any American citizens were on board.
- July 16, 2014 – Apollo 11 Launched 45 Years Ago – Wednesday, July 16, 2014, marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission launching on its mission to the moon. The Apollo missions helped blaze a path for human exploration to the moon and today we are extending that path to near–Earth asteroids, Mars and beyond.
- July 17, 2014 – NASA, SpaceX Plotting Mission to Mars In 2022 – Following three years of research, scientists at NASA Ames Research Center announce that a modified crew–carrying version of the Dragon X capsule from Space X could be a way to make it to the red planet and return samples of rocks, carrying 4,000 pounds of equipment–the most in history. The partnership is proposing a 2022 mission, which would serve as a precursor to a planned human flight to Mars.
- July 15, 2014 – SpaceX Launches Orbcomm Satellites – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 11:15 a.m., delivering a half–dozen commercial communications satellites into orbit, completing a mission for Orbcomm Inc. While the satellites are successfully launched, a controlled landing test of the reusable booster ends less successfully. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that more work is needed to determine what caused the loss of hull integrity when it landed.
- July 13, 2014 – Cyngus Headed to ISS After Successful Antares Launch – Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket lifts off at 12:52 p.m. EDT from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on a mission to deliver supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station.
- July 9, 2014 – FAA Approves SpaceX Launch Site In Texas – SpaceX received final approval from the FAA to build a launch site near Brownsville, Texas. This clears the way for the company to decide whether or not to build the site there as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he would do if approved.
- June 30, 2014 – Aviation Industry Moving Fast On New System for Tracking Planes Over Oceans – The aviation industry, hoping to avoid a future aircraft being lost in the way Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been, is working to devise measures for tracking all flights that pass over oceans, amid obstacles such as minimal government radar over oceans, airlines’ costs in maintaining plane–to–satellite communication links, and an absence of official requirements that airlines stay in frequent–enough contact to find lost planes. While other airplanes have disappeared in the past, none have been of the size and the ability of Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777–200ER. In September 2014, an airline task force intends to recommend new government policies to better track flights to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and in February 2015 the ICAO will conduct a high–level conference to begin negotiating standards for governments to require better tracking, with a goal of completing the global rule by 2017.
- June 28, 2014 – NASA Tests “Flying Saucer” Technology – Following several weather delays, NASA launches a helium balloon carrying a saucer–shaped vehicle high into Earth's atmosphere to test technology that could someday be used to land on Mars. After taking off at 11:40 a.m. from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, the balloon boosted the disc–shaped vehicle over the Pacific, where its rocket motor ignited, carrying the vehicle 34 miles high at supersonic speeds. As the vehicle prepared to drop back to Earth, a tube around it expanded, creating atmospheric drag to dramatically slow it down from Mach 4, or four times the speed of sound. The vehicle splashed down about three hours later. At 110 feet in diameter, the parachute is twice as big as the one that carried the Curiosity rover through the Martian atmosphere in 2011.
- June 23, 2014 – FAA Approves UAS Testing for Texas A&M Corpus Christi – The FAA gives its approval to Texas A&M University Corpus Christi to use unmanned aerial systems to collect data that will be used to create safety rules nationwide. University researchers will conduct flights from 11 ranges in Texas that offer access to a wide range of geography and climate. The school is one of six UAS test sites selected in the country. The university is using data collected from the UAS flights to observe changes in coastal habitats and the shoreline, but the FAA will also examine the data to help determine how to regulate unmanned commercial and civilian aircraft.
- June 20, 2014 – UAVs to be Banned In All National Parks for Now – The National Park Service (NPS) bans drones from 84 million acres of public lands and waterways, including all 401 national parks, citing expectations that unmanned aircraft would cause disruptions to visitors and wildlife, and threaten safety. NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis signs a policy memorandum Friday, June 20, 2014, directing all national park superintendents to write rules barring the launching, landing, or operation of drones, joining a few parks where prohibitions are already in place. The NPS has been working with the FAA, although the parks service’s action is separate from the FAA’s ban on the commercial operation of drones.
- June 18, 2014 – Bolden Calls Orion Flight “Most Significant Human Spaceflight Milestone” of 2014 – On Wednesday, June 18, 2014, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was at the Kennedy Space Center speaking about the Orion capsule, which is scheduled to make its first test flight aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket near the end of 2014. During the test, Orion is scheduled to go 15 times further away than the International Space Station before returning to Earth. Bolden said, “It’s possibly the most significant human spaceflight milestone this year.” It is expected to take at least seven years before astronauts fly in the spacecraft.
- June 10, 2014 – Nevada Cleared to Begin UAS Tests – The FAA approves the opening of its third of six Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) testing sites at Desert Rock Airport in Nevada, which is owned by the Department of Energy. The first tests will involve an Insitu ScanEagle. The ScanEagle will help test whether UAS can fly safely at an airport. The opening of the Nevada location follows the FAA's recent announcement that it will consider allowing the use of small UAS for filming movies and television shows.
- June 8, 2014 – FAA Approves Commercial Use of UAV Over Land for First Time – For the first time, the FAA allows a commercial UAV to be flown over land. BP and AeroVironment use a Puma AE UAV to survey Alaskan oil fields in order to target maintenance activities. The first flight takes place on Sunday, June 8, 2014.
- June 2, 2014 – Solar Impulse 2 Makes First Flight Over Switzerland – Solar Impulse 2 makes its first flight, flying for two hours and 17 minutes over Switzerland. Solar Impluse 2 is a bigger and improved version of the solar–powered plane that first flew five years ago. After several more flights, team founders Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg hope to take the plane on a round–the–world flight in 2015. The pair claim that Solar Impulse 2 should potentially be able to stay in the air indefinitely.
- June 3, 2014 – Lockheed Chosen to Construct Space Fence – Lockheed Martin is chosen by the U.S. Air Force to develop the Space Fence, which will detect smaller orbital debris than currently done under an Air Force system installed in 1961. This system is deemed a priority because space debris endangers the ISS and other satellites. Once constructed, the Space Fence should be able to detect debris as small as the size of a baseball, as compared to the current system that detects items the size of a basketball. Some of the junk now in space includes old satellites, rocket boosters and even a tool bag that drifted away from an astronaut at the space station.
- May 30, 2014 – Virgin Galactic, FAA Sign Agreement On Integrating Launches Into National Airspace – Virgin Galactic, Spaceport America, and the FAA finalize an agreement on how Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo launches will be integrated into the National Airspace System once they begin. While a step closer to that start–date, it still is unclear when exactly that would be. New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson said that this is the first agreement of its kind because it involves both a space and air system. The agreement was needed before the FAA could grant commercial licensing for the launches.
- May 29, 2014 – SpaceX Unveils Manned Version of Dragon Spacecraft – SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils the Dragon V2, the manned version of the cargo spacecraft already making deliveries to the ISS. Musk touts the fact that it should be able to be relaunched relatively frequently because it has the “accuracy of a helicopter” when landing, thus revolutionizing access to space.
- May 22, 2014 – ULA Atlas V Launches NRO Payload – A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:09 a.m. EDT, carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) military payload. Many of the details surrounding the launch, such as the type of satellite being deployed, are classified. The rocket is believed to have headed East after liftoff, flying over the Atlantic, which could suggest that the Atlas will be targeting a geosynchronous transfer orbit, the only low–inclination orbit generally used for NRO payloads of this size.
- May 22, 2014 – Commission Recommends Work Begin On New Engine Program – Based on a summary briefing of a yet–to–be–released report, a commission led by Air Force Maj Gen (ret.) Howard Mitchell, along with former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin as deputy chair, recommends that the U.S. begin work as soon as possible on a new liquid oxygen (LOx)/hydrocarbon engine program to mitigate the effects if Russia decides to ban the sale of RD–180 engines to the U.S. The group found that, if in a worst–case scenario the Atlas V rocket was retired because of a lack of engines, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and ULA’s Delta IV would not be able to immediately pick up the launch slack. SpaceX, in particular, could only accommodate a small number of the satellites. Therefore, a joint NASA/Air Force engine program would provide options in the future, including an alternative to the Delta IV.
- May 20, 2014 – Bolden: No One Nation Can End ISS – Following Russia’s threat to pull out of the ISS program in 2020, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells reporters at Berlin’s annual airshow that the ISS could continue to function. Bolden says, “There is no single partner that can terminate the international space station.” Bolden also added that despite the tensions on Earth, the relationship between the U.S. and Russian space programs has not changed “one iota.” As for whether or not NASA could work with China in the future, Bolden says, “There is nothing that I see in the tea leaves that says our relationship is going to change.”
- May 16, 2014 – Delta IV Successfully Launches New GPS Spacecraft – A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket successfully launches with its Global Positioning System (GPS) payload. The launch, which took place at 8:03 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, had been delayed one day due to the weather. This is the sixth in a series of 12 new–generation GPS spacecraft that will help ensure the system stays online. With over 30 of the spacecraft now in orbit, the GPS constellation needs at least 24 satellites for global service, but many are getting older. Two more GPS launches are planned this year, with all 12 expected in orbit by 2016.
- May 14, 2014 – Sikorsky to Develop Autonomous Black Hawk – Sikorsky announces it will demonstrate a fully autonomous version of the UH–60 Black Hawk helicopter after having already shown a version operated remotely by a pilot on the ground. The company has acquired a UH–60A to serve as a proof–of–concept demonstrator that a Black Hawk can take–off, fly and land under control of onboard computers and a newly–installed fly–by–wire flight control system. The company is in the process of selecting partners to develop the autonomous version of the Black Hawk.
- May 13, 2014 – Russia Threatens to Pull Out of ISS Partnership, Halt Engine Sale – Cooperation in space between the U.S. and Russia could be in jeopardy, according to a report that says Russia will no longer send astronauts to the ISS after 2020. Just ahead of the return of three astronauts, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin issued Russia’s intent to leave the partnership, saying the U.S. is an “unreliable partner” for “politicizing everything.” He adds that Russia’s segment “can exist independently of the American one, but the American segment cannot exist on its own without the Russian one.” Rogozin also says that Russia will not sell the U.S. any Russian RD–180 engines unless they are used only for non–military launches. United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket currently uses those engines.
- May 9, 2014 – Sikorsky Unveils King Stallion Helicopter – Sikorsky unveils the King Stallion, the third evolution of its Stallion helicopter. This version is similar to the Super Stallion, the company’s helicopter that entered service in 1981 and has served in both Iraq wars. Although they appear similar, the King is much stronger than the Super—able to carry 27,000 pounds, or almost three times as much cargo.
- May 8, 2014 – Easyjet Developing UAVs to Inspect Aircraft – Easyjet will begin developing UAVs that it will use to scan and assess its fleet of Airbus aircraft, reporting damage back to engineers. They may also introduce flying maintenance robots as early as next year. The UAVs are being developed by a team that includes experts from the University of Bristol, with tests expected in coming months. The UAVs can be remotely controlled, but Easyjet wants UAVs with automated laser scans.
- May 6, 2014 – Quadriplegic Drives Racecar Using Aerospace Technology – Former Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt refuses to let a disabling crash end his love affair with auto racing when the quadriplegic motorsports business owner gets back in the driver’s seat with the help of aerospace engineers and scientists. On Tuesday, May 6, Schmidt demonstrates an experimental system that allows him to control a car with head movements. He drives a modified 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray on a closed runway at Wright–Patterson Air Force Base behind the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at speeds of up to 84 miles per hour.
- May 6, 2014 – FAA Approves Start of UAV Testing In Alaska – The FAA approves UAV testing to begin at sites overseen by the University of Alaska, one of the six programs selected in 2013 to help integrate UAVs into the national airspace. The University of Alaska testing sites are the second of six testing sites to be approved by the FAA, the first being in North Dakota. Two of the testing sites planned as part of the University of Alaska’s Pan–Pacific Unmanned Aircraft System Test Range Complex will be located at two small airports in Oregon and Hawaii. The test sites located in Alaska include the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Poker Flat Rocket Range, and sites near Barrow, Kodiak, and Homer.
- May 5, 2014 – SpaceX Conducts Another Test of Falcon 9 Reusable Rocket – SpaceX makes another test flight of its Falcon 9 Reusable rocket at its McGregor, Texas facility, while collecting hexacopter–filmed footage of the test as well. The tests are designed to help the SpaceX engineers devise a way of eventually bringing full–size, fully–loaded launch vehicles back to the launch pad. As it currently stands, most space launch vehicles simply fall into the ocean, never to be used again.
- May 2, 2014 – Falcon 7X Sets New Speed Record Between London and New York – On May 2, 2014, the Dassault Falcon 7X sets a new speed record for flying between New York and London. There are currently 218 Falcon 7Xs in service, with the 7X being the only aircraft that can fly non–stop from London City Airport to New York. The flight set a new speed record of 5 hours and 54 minutes between New York’s Teterboro Airport and London City Airport.
- May 1, 2014 – Bolden: Dispute with Russia Has Not Harmed Space Programs’ Relationship – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells Congress on Thursday, May 1, 2014, that the ongoing dispute with Russia has not harmed Americans’ ability to get astronauts to the International Space Station. Bolden was attempting to reassure lawmakers who are concerned the U.S. space program could be disrupted after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said U.S. “astronauts soon will need a trampoline to get to the space station.” Bolden says ties between the two countries’ space programs remain strong. Bolden also suggests that U.S. launches to the ISS could be accelerated with additional funds.
- April 30, 2014 – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Warns U.S. Could “Use Trampoline” to Access ISS – With more U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine, Russia’s deputy prime minister says that the U.S. could “use a trampoline” if it wants to get its astronauts to the ISS. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin comments that the sanctions do not seem to be working and that the U.S. and Europe are causing more damage to themselves. Despite the statement, analysts believe that Russia will not halt launches because it is heavily reliant on the millions of dollars the U.S. spends per launch. Sergei Oznobishchev, director at the Institute for Strategic Assessments, believes that Russia will lose out in the end because Russia also needs the West’s high–tech electronic components and is not prepared at this time to produce them.
- April 29, 2014 – NASA Asking for Proposals to Open Up ISS to Industry – NASA officials ask for ways to increase the commercialization of the ISS, a shift in the agency’s position as it previously gave little consideration to allowing private citizens to pay millions to travel there. To date, the agency has accommodated seven private citizens. American Dennis Tito was the first in 2001, with Canadian Guy Laliberte the most recent in 2011. NASA is soliciting innovative ideas from companies interested in using the space station and the low–Earth orbit environment to help develop a strong commercial market and assist NASA in achieving its exploration goals.
- April 29, 2014 – S2 Personal Plane Could One Day Make Runways Obsolete – As part of its Invention Awards 2014, Popular Science reports on the S2 personal electric airplane created by JoeBen Bevirt, that launches like a helicopter but flies aerodynamically like an airplane. His team has developed two dozen 10–pound models that have drawn the interest of NASA, as the agency is now funding construction of a 55–pound unmanned aerial vehicle. The full–scale vehicle could one day fly two people 200 miles on the equivalent of 1.5 gallons of fuel, which is five times more efficient than typical two–seaters. If successful, the plane could someday make runways obsolete.
- April 25, 2014 – Musk Announces Reusable Rocket Test Success, Suit Against Government – Elon Musk says that his company SpaceX is going to sue the government to protest the U.S. Air Force awarding United Launch Alliance (ULA) a contract to launch 36 rockets back in December. Musk tells the National Press Club that he does not think that SpaceX necessarily deserves the award, just that it should have been given the chance to compete. Musk said there is no reasonable basis that his company should be able to send cargo to the ISS and yet is not allowed to launch a GPS satellite. At the same news conference, Musk also says that the Falcon 9 first stage successfully made a soft landing although the weather and unsafe sea conditions prevented its recovery. The data from that attempt was so promising that SpaceX now thinks it can return the booster successfully to land before 2015.
- April 28, 2014 – NASA Testing Designs That Could Make Overland Supersonic Flights Possible – NASA is currently working on designs aimed at decreasing the strength of sonic booms. Supersonic flights over land are currently banned by the FAA because of how loud sonic booms can be. NASA currently is exposing small–scale model designs by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to wind tunnel tests to see how they react. The agency also is examining how air flows through the engines. Capturing this flow rate is considered important because it directly impacts a supersonic aircraft’s thrust performance in flight, as well as cruise efficiency.
- April 25, 2014 – Ostapenko: Russia Plans to Increase Collaborations with China – Oleg Ostapenko, head of Roscosmos, says that the Russian space agency could function without any Western space technology, contradicting concerns that more sanctions from the U.S. could damage the country’s efforts in space and harm the ISS program. He also reportedly states that Russia will be increasing its collaborative efforts with China, and that Russia is the country other nations most rely on because it currently has the only rockets that can send astronauts to the ISS. Ostapenko also says that the draft Federal Space Program (FSP) includes plans to develop a super–heavy carrier rocket that could launch 70 to 80 metric tons into space and eventually 100 to 120 metric tons, payload capacities that are similar to the Space Launch System that NASA is developing.
- April 24, 2014 – X–37B Space Plane Reaches 500th Day In Orbit – Thursday, April 24, 2014, marks the U.S. Air Force’s X–37B space plane’s 500th day in orbit. It is still unknown to the public when the spacecraft could return to Earth.
- April 21, 2014 – Texas EquuSearch Sues to Use UAVs for Search and Rescue – Texas EquuSearch files a federal lawsuit on Monday, April 21, 2014, against the law prohibiting the use of UAVs for humanitarian search and rescue activities, which it claims is not governed by the guidelines prohibiting the use of UAVs for business purposes. The non–profit organization has four unmanned model aircraft that have been grounded since the FAA ordered the group to stop flying the planes earlier this year. The FAA said it is reviewing the case. This is the second such challenge to the FAA’s guidelines on private use of UAVs.
- April 21, 2014 – North Dakota’s UAV Test Site to be First of Six to Fly Missions – FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says on Monday, April 21, 2014, that North Dakota will be the first of six UAV test sites around the nation to begin flight tests, with the first flights scheduled as early as May 2014. In that first set of flights, a Draganflyer X4ES UAV will fly at North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center to examine the ways UAVs could be used to check soil quality and the status of crops. In a statement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says, “North Dakota has really taken the lead in supporting the growing unmanned aircraft industry.”
- April 18, 2014 – SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 – SpaceX successfully launches its Falcon 9 rocket at 3:25 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft is carrying critical supplies for the International Space Station’s Expedition 39 crew, as part of a 12–mission contract with NASA.
- April 18, 2014 – LADEE Orbiter Completes Mission by Impacting Moon – NASA’s LADEE spacecraft mission at the moon comes to an end when it is intentionally crashed into the lunar surface. NASA confirms that the spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 12:30 and 1:22 a.m. EDT Friday, April 18, 2014. The operation goes as planned, but teams have to scramble near the end to make sure that all the data the spacecraft captured is sent back to Earth before impact. The last bit of information is sent back about a minute before communication ended. LADEE was launched Friday, September 6, 2013, from the Mid–Atlantic Regional Spaceport, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA.
- April 16, 2014 – Pentagon Document Provides Look at Drone Fleet’s Future – In a strategic document known as the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Vector, the Pentagon has laid out a road map for the future of its drone fleet. The document takes a 25–year look from 2013 to 2038, and provides insight into where the Air Force wants to expand technologies. It includes unmanned planes with fuel–filled wings with the ability to carry more sophisticated weapons systems to more isolated hot spots, and smaller drones capable of operating in unison to swarm an enemy.
- April 15, 2014 – FAA Completes Installation of ADS–B Upgrades – As part of the NextGen program aimed at improving the air traffic control network in the U.S., the FAA completes the installation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B) radio network nationwide. The upgrade will enable air traffic controllers to track aircraft with greater accuracy and reliability, while providing pilots more information in the cockpit. Currently, 100 installed air traffic facilities are using the system, with all 230 expected to be connected and operating by 2019. All planes will be required to have the necessary equipment to use ADS–B by 2020.
- April 14, 2014 – X–47B Wins Collier Trophy – The Northrop Grumman X–47B wins the 2013 Collier Trophy. NASA awards what many consider aviation’s top prize to the Northrop Grumman X–47B, which spent much of 2013 testing runway and carrier take–off and landing operations. Making its first night flight just a week prior, the X–47B is scheduled to be deployed by the Navy in 2019.
- April 11, 2014 – Global Airline Accident Rate Hits Record Lows – The International Civil Aviation Organization said that 2013’s global accident rate for commercial airline flights was the lowest ever recorded, falling 13 percent from the previous year to 2.8 accidents per 1 million departures. The statistics are even better in the U.S. where about 3.7 billion passengers flew American carriers in the last five years without injury. Most of the improvements are attributed to increased international cooperation, better data collection, and better pilot training.
- April 10, 2014 – Atlas V Launches with NRO Satellite – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite successfully launches. Liftoff occurrs at 1:45 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
- April 9, 2014 – Solar Impulse 2 Unveiled – The Solar Impulse team unveils its Solar Impulse 2 plane at Payerne Air Force Base in Switzerland. The plane is a bigger and better version of the one that made its test flights across the U.S., Europe, and Africa. The plane, which will be used to fly around the world, can theoretically remain in the air indefinitely with its improved batteries and longer wingspan. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, who will pilot the plane on its long–distance flight, reportedly say that they themselves are the weakest link now in the project.
- April 9, 2014 – Aviation Organizations, Agriculture Groups Send Letter to FAA Urging Expediency In UAS Rulemaking – With the FAA under pressure to develop clearer regulations on small drones, some businesses are now pushing the government for an interim set of policies in advance of an official set of rules. Over two dozen industry groups, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and the National Association of Realtors (real estate agents have been using drones to take pictures of properties from the air), send a letter addressed to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta that reads, “The current regulatory void has left American entrepreneurs and others either sitting on the sidelines or operating in the absence of appropriate safety guidelines.”
- April 9, 82014 – Pentagon to Review Russian–Built Atlas V Engine in Wake of Crimea Crisis – The U.S. Defense Department initiates a review to determine whether using a Russian–built rocket engine to launch military satellites has any national security implications, following Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea. The review, which defense officials expect to wrap up in late May, will examine the security risks, as well as the costs of developing and producing a replacement for the RD–180 engine used in the Atlas V rocket.
- April 8, 2014 – United Preparing to Operate World’s Longest Boeing 787 Non–Stop Routes – United is planning two of the world’s longest 787 flights for later this year. The airline is offering a Los Angeles–Melbourne flight starting 26 Oct. that will travel 7,927 miles, currently the longest route to be operated by the 787 family. United will also begin service 9 June on a San Francisco–Chengdu flight, which would not only be the first non–stop flight ever from the U.S. to Chengdu, but also would be the longest 787 flight to operate non–stop in both directions, until the Melbourne flight begins. The San Francisco–Chengdu route is 6,587 miles.
- April 3, 2014 – NASA Bans Cooperation With Russia, ISS Exempted – Due to the situation over Ukraine, NASA will curtail work with Russia over space matters, but this does not include the big–ticket items such as sending astronauts to the ISS. This policy comes after NASA was insisting there would be no change in how the agency interacts with Russia. Despite the end of almost all other cooperative efforts, NASA said in a statement that it would continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the ISS.
- March 31, 2014 – NASA Announces New Commercial Spaceflight Initiative – NASA is trying to increase its ties with commercial space companies by proposing a new initiative called the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC), which would give companies greater access to NASA’s resources through unfunded Space Act Agreements (SAAs). NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier said that the agency looks forward to sharing its 50 years of spaceflight experience and fostering partnerships in ways that benefit the nation’s spaceflight goals.
- March 28, 2014 – FAA Approves Nighttime UAS Flights for North Dakota Police – The FAA gives the Grand Forks County, North Dakota, Police Department permission to fly drones in 16 counties in northeast North Dakota during the night. Sheriff Bob Rost made the announcement of the approval on Friday, March 28, 2014, marking the first time the FAA has given a law enforcement agency the federal authorization to fly unmanned aerial vehicles at night throughout the jurisdiction.
- March 28, 2014 – Facebook Announces Internet Connectivity Project – Through the use of drones, lasers and satellites, Facebook wants to connect those who currently do not have access to the Internet, some of whom live in remote parts of the world. On Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the formation of the Facebook Connectivity Lab, which will feature employees hired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Ames Research Center, and Ascenta. The lab’s goal is to support Internet.org, the Facebook–led project that aims to connect the more than 70 percent of the world’s population who are not yet online.
- March 24, 2014 – NASA Asks for Proposals to Help Develop Asteroid Redirect Mission – NASA requests new proposals for its Asteroid Redirect Mission. These studies need to examine “capture mechanisms, sensors, precursor missions and opportunities to adapt commercial spacecraft and lower costs.”
- March 18, 2014 – Scientists Discover Evidence of Gravitational Waves – A team led by John Kovak of Harvard University, using a telescope at the South Pole, discovers evidence of gravitational waves. The discovery may help prove the Big Bang theory, and if confirmed, would provide a new tool for researchers to study the entire universe. Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were part of the team that made the discovery. Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, who was not involved in the study, reportedly says that this could be among the greatest breakthroughs in astrophysics over the last 25 years.
- March 14, 2014 – ISS Crew Discusses Space Life In “Live From Space” Event – During a “Live From Space” television event that aired on the National Geographic Channel, the crew of the ISS discuss everything from space toilets and experiments to dangerous spacewalks and space junk. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio says, “I’ve been up here for four months. I’ve been away from home for almost six months. I know I’m going to miss the great views out the window and I’m definitely going to miss sleeping in a zero–g environment. It’s absolutely fantastic. When this mission is over, I’m definitely going to be happy to go home and see my family.” Meanwhile, Astronaut Ron Garan was asked about what it was like to go into space and return. He said that spaceflight is a wonderful experience and that everyone gets along with each other when up there.
- March 12, 2014 – NASA Joins Search for Missing Malaysian Jetliner – NASA joins the search for a Malaysian commercial jetliner that vanished over the weekend. A NASA spokesman says activities under way include mining data archives of satellite data acquired earlier and using space–based assets, such as the Earth–Observing–1(EO–1) satellite and the ISERV camera on the International Space Station, to acquire new images of possible crash sites. The resolution of images from these instruments could be used to identify objects of about 98 feet or larger. In addition, NASA will be sending relevant data to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observations and Science Hazard Data Distribution System.
- March 12, 2014 – Satellites Helping to Search for Missing Malaysian Plane – DigitalGlobe’s online crowdsourcing platform starts getting as many as 100,000 people visiting per hour to search its archive for any sign of the missing Malaysian aircraft. The campaign to search the data started Monday. Meanwhile, China has also redeployed its satellite assets to search for the missing plane, including the Beidou navigation satellite system.
- March 11, 2014 – Sikorsky Announces First Flight of Manned/Unmanned UH–60 Black Hawk Helicopter – Sikorsky announces that it conducted the first flight demonstration of an “optionally piloted” UH–60 Black Hawk helicopter on March 11, 2014, at the company’s flight test center near West Palm Beach, Florida. During the flight, the unmanned aircraft hovered and conducted flight operations under the control of an operator using a ‘man–portable’ ground control station. The company said that unmanned Black Hawks could be used for resupply missions and expeditionary operations, allowing crews to conduct more sensitive operations.
- March 11, 2014 – Flower Delivery Company Will Resume Deliveries by UAV – Following a ruling by NTSB Administrative Law Judge Patrick Geraghty that the FAA does not have the authority to ban the commercial use of UAVs, FlowerDeliveryExpress.com resumes using UAVs to deliver flowers. The company was previously stopped from making such deliveries by the FAA following an initial test delivery on February 8, 2014.
- March 8, 2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Goes Missing– An international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China, disappears on Saturday, March 8, 2014, with 227 passengers, including three Americans, and 12 crew on board. The cause of the disappearance is unknown and under investigation. Flight 370, operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft, departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport for a scheduled six–hour flight to Beijing Capital International Airport. Air Traffic Controllers lost contact with the plane while it was over the Gulf of Thailand, and it was reported missing. A joint search–and–rescue effort, focusing on the Gulf of Thailand, Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, is being conducted by cooperating agencies of several national governments. At least two passengers were using false identities. The head of Malaysia's Civil Aviation Authority says officials had not ruled out hijacking as a cause of the plane's disappearance.
- March 7, 2014 – Hubble Telescope Witnesses Asteroid Break Up – For the first time, the Hubble Space Telescope observes an asteroid breaking up into 10 pieces up to two football fields long. The pieces are expected to mostly aim towards the sun. Researchers, led by David Jewitt of UCLA, believe light from the sun is causing the asteroid to break up by increasing its rotation. Meanwhile, for the third time over a period of 24 hours, an asteroid flew past the Earth, coming six times closer than the orbit of the moon, however Earth was not at risk of an impact with any of these objects.
- March 5, 2014 – NASA Says Working Relationship with Russia is “Normal” Despite Tensions Over Ukraine – During a briefing on NASA’s proposed budget, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden indicates that everything is normal in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia at the International Space Station despite tensions between the two countries over Ukraine. Even though Russian rockets are the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS, Bolden said he sees no reason for contingency planning.
- February 27, 2014 – GPM Core Observatory Successfully Launched from Japan – The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory is successfully launched from Japan at 1:37 p.m EST. No problems are reported. The spacecraft is the most sophisticated platform yet for measuring rainfall, capable of recording amounts as small as a hundredth of an inch an hour. With the GPM’s expected lifespan, NASA will have an unbroken 25– to 30–year rainfall record to help improve forecasts and climate models.
- February 27, 2014 – Demand to Launch CubeSats from ISS Increasing Beyond Expectations – The demand to launch CubeSats from the ISS is increasing, exceeding all expectations from NASA and groups like NanoRacks. Jeffrey Manber, CEO of NanoRacks, said that despite what people thought even two years ago, commercial companies are expressing the greatest interest in launching CubeSats, followed by the government and then academia. To help increase the options at the ISS, NASA, JAXA, and NanoRacks are working together to formulate a plan.
- February 21, 2014 – FAA Announces New Helicopter Safety Regulations – The FAA has announces that it will require helicopters to have radio altitude meters and life vests for pilots. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says the improvements will better prepare pilots, and better equip helicopters, ensuring a higher level of safety for passengers and crew. The rules will require that helicopters be equipped with emergency location transmitters that could be used in the event of accidents, and new weather warning systems.
- February 19, 2014 – United Makes First Commercial Flight with Split Scimitar Winglets – United Airlines announces that it has made the first commercial flight with new split scimitar winglets on a freshly retrofitted Boeing 737–800. United maintains that planes using scimitar winglets enjoy significant aircraft drag reduction compared to planes using the basic Blended Winglet, resulting in fuel savings of an additional 2% per aircraft.
- February 18, 2014 – Cessna Flies Citation Latitude for the First Time – The Cessna Citation Latitude makes its debut flight from the company’s factory in Wichita, Kansas, meeting the commitment schedule laid out in October 2011. The aircraft reportedly behaves just as anticipated during the flight up to a peak altitude of 28,000 feet and top speed of Mach 0.6. Company officials look to gain FAA Part 25 airworthiness certification by the second quarter of 2015 for the aircraft, which will hold seven to nine passengers.
- February 18, 2014 – Cygnus Wraps Up First ISS Resupply Mission – Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus spacecraft, which delivered nearly one–and–a–half tons of supplies and scientific equipment to the International Space Station in January, completes its first commercial cargo mission to the orbiting laboratory. NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins, with assistance from Japanese Astronaut Koichi Wakata, uses the station’s 57–foot Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Cygnus from the station at 5:15 a.m. EST. Packed with disposable cargo, the spacecraft is set to burn up over the Pacific Ocean in a destructive re–entry.
- February 17, 2014 – Asteroid Misses Earth As Predicted – As predicted, an asteroid with an estimated diameter of three football fields misses hitting Earth late Monday, February 17, 2014. Traveling at about 27,000 miles per hour, the asteroid came within about 2 million miles of Earth, which is considered a close call in space.
- February 11, 2014 – FBI Cracks Down On Laser Strikes On Planes – The FBI announces a major initiative to catch individuals shining lights into aircraft cockpits, a crime that has taken place with increased frequency and which agency officials fear could lead to a major aviation disaster. The FBI offers a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of someone committing the crime. The agency notes that there were almost 4,000 laser strikes against aircraft reported just last year, nearly 11 incidents per day. The penalty for the crime is a sentence of up to five years in jail.
- February 7, 2014 – Canada Releases New Space Policy – Industry Minister James Moore unveils Canada’s new space policy at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, although he does not say how much money will be put toward it. Some of the key priorities in the policy include the development of cutting–edge technology, support of Canadian industry, encouraging international partnerships, and motivating the public to enter fields related to space. Moore says the country will also invest in the James Webb Space Telescope.
- January 30, 2014 – X–37B Space Plane Now Over 400 Days In Space – The U.S. Air Force’s classified unmanned X–37B space plane has now been in space for more than 400 days, having launched on 11 December 2012. OTV–3 (Orbital Test Vehicle–3) has been aloft for 413 days as of 28 January. The current record is 469 days, set during OTV–2, which launched in 2011.
- January 30, 2014 – Insects Inspire New Class of “Microdrone” – An article in the January 2014 edition of Popular Science reports that with the development of the first insect–inspired vehicles, engineers are now creating the first microdrone–class UAVs. While there are still significant engineering challenges to overcome, such as developing external power sources or contending with strong wind gusts, engineers still believe that by basing the designs on insects, lighter, smarter UAVs can be made.
- January 29, 2014 – BAE Systems Certifies 3–D Printed Part – BAE Systems produces and certifies a 3–D printed replacement part for the BAE 146 regional jet. It is also looking at producing additional parts for other aircraft types. Many in the aerospace industry believe that additive manufacturing, or "3–D printing" technology will be especially valuable in producing parts with complex geometries, especially as they typically weigh less and produce less waste during production.
- January 28, 2014 – Challenger Tragedy Remembered – Twenty–eight years ago, on January 28, 1986, NASA and the world watched as space shuttle Challenger and its crew of seven were lost shortly after liftoff in a catastrophic launch failure. AIAA remembers Astronauts: Francis "Dick" Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Mike Smith and Ellison Onizuka, and payload specialists Sharon Christa McAuliffe and Gregory Jarvis.
- January 244, 2014 – Texas Engineering Institute Receives FAA Certificate for UAV Testing – The FAA certifies the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute (UTARI) for UAV testing, clearing the way for new research partnerships. Noting that the Fort Worth, Texas campus testing program will have both military and practical applications, a UTARI student is quoted as saying that the UTARI student body wants to use the FAA certificate as well as other opportunities to become “the new generation of engineers.”
- January 23, 2014 – Surveillance Craft to be Deployed in Maryland Later This Year – Two blimp–like surveillance craft will be deployed near Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground later this year for a three–year test. From 10,000 feet, they will cast a vast radar net from Raleigh, N.C. to Boston and out to Lake Erie, with the goal of detecting cruise missiles or enemy aircraft for interception before they can reach Washington, DC.
- January 21, 2014 – Rosetta Spacecraft Wakes Up from Hibernation – Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully awakes from two plus years of hibernation. Rosetta is now on its way to meet up with a comet, which is considered an almost impossible target. If it is able to reach the comet and land a probe on its surface, the mission would make history. The ESA turned this into a social media event, as the spacecraft triggered several tweets saying “Hello World!” in several languages. This is considered one of the final milestones for the spacecraft before arriving at comet 67P later this year.
- January 17, 2014 – ISS Made No Collision–Avoidance Maneuvers In 2013 – The ISS reportedly makes no collision–avoidance maneuvers last year despite the growing amount of orbital debris intersecting its orbit. NASA says this demonstrates the chaotic nature of the debris population. In comparison, there was a record of four collision–avoidance maneuvers in 2012, with 16 maneuvers in total over the past 15 years.
- January 16, 2014 – Texas A&M Researchers Test RS–16 UAV – Just a few weeks after Texas was designated a UAV test site by the FAA, researchers from Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi begin testing the RS–16 UAV with the hopes of developing a system that can spot oil spills and wildfire hotspots, monitor hurricanes, and count cattle for ranchers. Test flights like these are seen as a critical step toward advancing the industry inside the U.S. The test flights are expected to help integrate the UAVs into the national airspace so they can fly safely. The RS–16 has been facing some communication issues, losing radio contact at times.
- January 15, 2014 – Pilots, Passengers Reflect on Anniversary of “Miracle” Landing – Wednesday, January 15, 2014, marks the 5 year anniversary of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III safely making an emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. It was 208 seconds from the time the birds hit the plane, to the time the plane was down in the water. All 155 people aboard survived, and the safe landing would quickly become known as "The Miracle on the Hudson."
- January 10, 2014 – Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Reaches Highest Altitude Yet – Virgin Galactic reaches its highest altitude yet Friday, January 10, 2014, in a supersonic space plane that’s set to carry paying customers into sub–orbit later this year. The SpaceShipTwo flight is the program’s third rocket–powered test flight, and the latest milestone in Virgin Galactic’s goal to take dozens of people into space multiple times each day. Reportedly, the spacecraft reaches an altitude of 71,000 feet, or roughly 13.5 miles up in the air, and attains a speed of Mach 1.4.
- January 9, 2014 – Delta Retires DC–9 Planes – Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launches its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 1:07 p.m. EST from the Mid–Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus is expected to reach the International Space Station on Sunday, January 12, for the Orbital–1 cargo resupply mission, the first of eight commercial cargo missions that Orbital will make to the ISS under its contract with NASA.
- January 6, 2014 – Delta Retires DC–9 Planes – On Monday, January 6, 2014, Delta Air Lines flies its DC–9 for the final time on a passenger flight before retiring the jet. Dozens of aviation enthusiasts bought tickets for the flight, with others lining up to see it land at LaGuardia airport. Most DC–9s were retired in the 1990s, but airlines could fly them as long as they wanted, provided that they remained under the number of regulated takeoffs and landings. While this passenger flight is believed to be the DC–9’s last, the plane could fly again in an emergency if another jet is unexpectedly out of service.
- December 31, 2013 – FAA Selects Sites to Conduct UAV Tests – The FAA announces six test sites in six states to guide the future course of UAVs in the U.S. Each of the six test sites pose unique challenges for drone operations, and it is expected to take years before the necessary safeguards and regulations are in place. The six institutions selected to operate test locations include Griffiss International Airport near Rome, New York, Virginia Tech, which has an agreement with Rutgers University in New Jersey for testing there as well, the University of Alaska, which plans to test in Hawaii and Oregon as well as Alaska, the State of Nevada, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. The FAA anticipates that within five years, 7,500 commercial drones will share the skies with passenger planes.
- December 27, 2013 – 2013 Called a "Big Year" for UAVs – Six events took place in 2013 that made it a significant year for UAVs. All told, 2013 was the year the public started to understand UAVs are not just unmanned attack aircraft for the military, but can reshape commerce and transportation and even ethics. Among some of the significant UAV events in 2013, Amazon unveiled its plans to start shipping packages by delivery drone sometime in the next five years, Washington began work on drone regulation, and a Colorado town proposed open season on drones.
- December 13, 2013 – China Successfully Lands Rover on the Moon – China completes the first soft landing on the moon’s surface in 37 years on Saturday, December 13, 2013, becoming only the third country to pull off the feat. Chinese television showed scientists shaking hands and congratulating each other after the craft, Chang’e 3, landed safely at 9:12 p.m. local time. The landing marks a significant advance in China’s space program and a step toward its ambitions of one day following the United States in mounting a manned lunar mission. On Sunday, a six–wheeled rover named Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, was scheduled to emerge from the landing vehicle and begin a three–month–long mission to explore the moon’s surface.
- December 12, 2013 – Scorpion ISR Strike Aircraft Makes Its First Flight – Textron announces the Cessna Aircraft Scorpion Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike aircraft made its first flight Thursday, December 12, 2014. The aircraft takes off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas and flew for 1.4 hours. The aircraft is developed in 24 months and has a cruising speed of up to 450 knots. It is expected to be deployed on ISR and homeland security missions.
- December 10, 2013 – Curiosity Finds Ancient Freshwater Lake, Dates First Rock on Mars – NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover finds signs of an ancient freshwater lake thought to have existed 3.5 billion years ago, a perfect spot for any life that may have once lived on the planet. John Grotzinger of Caltech said the lake appears to be a lot like an ordinary Earth–like lake. Even though the question of whether life on Mars existed is still being debated, this reinforces the idea that it could be possible.
- November 30, 2013 – Bezos Unveils Amazon’s Plans for Delivery by UAV – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, speaking on 60 Minutes Sunday, November 30. 2014, says that Amazon.com is testing delivering packages using drones. The delivery service would be called Prime Air and was displayed in a demonstration video. It is intended to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less. Bezos says the service may be available in as little as four years, depending on improved technology and the FAA’s rules and regulations. The FAA has said that it will develop rules for commercial use of drones by 2015.
- Novmeber 25, 2013 – China Announces Test of Stealth Drone – China says it tested its first stealth ‘killer’ drone, the Lijian, or "Sharp Sword." The drone is similar to the X–47B drone being tested by the U.S. Navy. Some reports say the drone is a reverse–engineered copy of Russia’s Mikoyan Skat unmanned aerial vehicle. Additional reports indicate no weapon bays were visible in any of the photos of the drone. Additionally, the stealth features that would make a drone like this a potential ‘balance–shifter’ remain unproven in this design. The flight is significant due to the new capabilities that such drones provide for China’s rapidly modernizing armed forces. As a result, China may have an edge in spreading such technology around the world due to fewer technology export controls.
- November 7, 2013 – BAE Systems Flight Tests Taranis UAV – For the first time, the UK Parliament’s defense committee acknowledges that BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defense company flight tested the Taranis UAV, its first combat drone with jet fighter–like capabilities. It is the first public acknowledgment that the model has flown. Europe is trying to catch–up to the U.S. when it comes to UAV development. However, even with advances like this one, Europe is still years behind U.S. capabilities, as evidenced by the 100+ flights the X–47B has already made.
- November 6, 2013 – Lockheed Martin Announces "Son of Blackbird" for 2030 – Lockheed Martin Corp. announces on its website a project for the SR–72 “Son of Blackbird,” the successor to the SR–71 Blackbird. Lockheed Martin anticipates completion of the project by 2030. The SR–72 is slated to feature hypersonic missiles and speeds of Mach 6.
- November 5, 2013 – India Launches Its Mission to Mars – India launches a PSLV rocket with its Mars Orbiter Mission, which is now in an elliptical orbit around the Earth before beginning its journey to Mars. The mission launches at 09:08 GMT from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India’s east coast. The spacecraft is set to travel for 300 days, and is expected to reach Mars’ orbit in 2014. If the satellite successfully orbits the Red Planet, India's space agency will become the fourth in the world, following the U.S., Russia, and Europe to undertake a successful Mars mission.
- October 25, 2013 – Orion Capsule Powered Up for the First Time – Ahead of its first scheduled launch next year, the electronics in Orion's crew module are powered up for the first time last week (October 19–25, 2014). This is the first step in six months of testing as more electronics are added. So far, reports are that the avionics are all working as hoped. Orion is being prepared to launch without a crew next fall atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. Orion is designed to eventually carry a human crew farther than one has ever traveled before, first to near–Earth asteroids and one day to Mars.
- October 24, 2013 – Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration Breaks Records – NASA’s groundbreaking Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration aboard the LADEE spacecraft accomplishes a record–shattering data download rate of 622 megabits per second, a download rate six times faster than the most recent state–of–the–art radio system from the moon. In 2017, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration is going to test the ability to relay data from one ground station at White Sands, N.M., to another at NASA JPL through a laser communications terminal in geostationary orbit. The 2017 mission will involve a commercial satellite that will transfer information between the ground and other missions in low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station. Eventually, this technology might help NASA stay in contact with very distant spacecraft.
- October 10, 2013 – Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter Passes Away – Legendary Mercury astronaut, and American pioneer, Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, passes away at the age of 88, leaving John Glenn as the only Mercury 7 astronaut still alive today. Along with Glenn, who flew three months before him, Carpenter was one of the last two survivors of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. He lived in Vail, CO, until a few weeks ago, when he suffered a stroke. AIAA President Mike Griffin said, “We mourn the passing of Scott Carpenter, a true American hero, a space pioneer who risked his life to advance our nation's understanding of space flight in its very earliest days. His efforts, and those of the other Mercury astronauts, paved the way for the later triumphs of the American space program. His bravery, boldness, and vision will echo down through the years as an inspiration to those who seek to further humanity's progress in space.”
- October 3, 2013 – SM–3 Block 1B Interceptor Hits Target, Ready for Production – The Defense Department announces that a Raytheon SM–3 Block 1B interceptor, the most advanced interceptor being developed for launch from a ship, successfully hit a target during a flight test from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai late Thursday, October 2. 2014. Because this was the fifth successful back–to–back flight test, it is believed that the SM–3 Block 1B can go into production whenever the government gives authorization to proceed. The interceptor has been scheduled to be deployed by the Navy in 2015.
- September 29, 2013 – SpaceX Launches Updated Falcon 9 – SpaceX reaches another milestone Sunday, September 29, 2013, successfully launching its most powerful rocket from California. The updated, nine–engine Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly after 9 a.m. PDT delivering the CASSIOPE satellite into orbit, a project of the Canadian Space Agency. It marks the first time that a rocket made by SpaceX launched from California. Until Sunday, SpaceX had launched its rockets from Cape Canaveral in Florida. By launching from Vandenberg, SpaceX will have access to another launch facility as it aims to launch rockets carrying government and commercial satellites at a rate of about once a month over the next five years.
- September 25, 2013 – Unmanned F–16 Breaks Sound Barrier In First Flight – For the first time, the U.S. Air Force flies a zombie F–16, an unmanned version of the F–16 that has flown with pilots for millions of hours. During the test, the aircraft breaks the sound barrier. The unmanned jet, the QF–16, was able to achieve all the maneuvers of the piloted craft. Instead of being a hunter drone, this jet is expected to be a faster, more agile target for fighter pilot training, an upgrade on the Vietnam–era F–4 now used. Once these flight tests are completed, the jets will be sent to Holloman Air Force Base for air–to–ground control system and live–fire testing. They are expected to be fielded next year.
- September 20, 2013 – Deep Impact’s Mission Has Ended – NASA announces Friday, September 20, 2013, that the Deep Impact mission ends after the agency fails to regain contact with the spacecraft during the past month. While a cause for the failure was not determined, researchers believe control was lost, and in the end it lost power and froze to death. Scientists are disappointed because they wanted to use the spacecraft to monitor Comet ISON as it approached the inner solar system. The spacecraft did live three to four times longer than originally planned, and mission team members were pleased by what the spacecraft observed, and by the data it collected, while functioning.
- September 18, 2013 – Cygnus Makes Maiden Launch to ISS – Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule have a successful debut with its launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Wednesday, 18 September. The 13–story rocket blasts off at 10:58 a.m. EDT. The capsule named Cygnus, carrying 1,300 pounds of supplies, is now on its way to the ISS and is scheduled to arrive on Sunday. This is a “demonstration” mission to prove that Orbital has the capabilities to send cargo to the station. Once the Cygnus spacecraft reaches the space station it will remain docked until late October.
- September 17, 2013 – Boeing 787–9 Makes Its First Test Flight – A longer version of Boeing Company’s 787 Dreamliner successfully completes its first flight on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. The 787–9 jet, which lands at 4:18 p.m. PDT at Boeing Field in Seattle, has room for 290 passengers, 40 more than the original 787–8 jetliner, and has about 300 more nautical miles of range. The jet flew at a speed of up to 366 knots (421 mph) and an altitude of 20,000 feet. The trip took it over Puget Sound and then over the eastern part of Washington State.
- September 13, 2013 – Voyager 1 Leaves Solar System – NASA confirms that its Voyager 1 spacecraft has become the first probe to exit the solar system, an extraordinary achievement that NASA could only dream about when Voyager was launched in 1977. When it left Earth 36 years ago, it was only designed as a four–year mission to Saturn. Voyager 1 can now investigate the unexplored region in between the stars and send back details about conditions there. It takes 17 hours and 22 minutes for Voyager’s signals to reach NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The lonely probe, which reached interstellar space on August 25, 2012, is now 11.7 billion miles from Earth, moving at 38,000 miles per hour, and is expected to keep sending back data until roughly 2025.
- August 30, 2013 – Virginia, Alaska Agree to Coordinate Spaceport Activities – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell announce a new operating agreement for the coordination of commercial space activities between the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority and the Alaska Aerospace Corp. The two spaceports will work together to share engineering, technical knowledge and operating procedures.
- August 20, 2013 – Newest Astronaut Class Officially Introduced. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden formally introduces NASA’s new astronaut class at the Johnson Space Center Tuesday, 20 August 2013. The astronaut candidates are Josh A. Cassada and Victor J. Glover, both lieutenant commanders in the U.S. Navy; Tyler N. "Nick" Hague, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force; Christina M. Hammock; Nicole Aunapu Mann, a major in the U.S. Marine Corps; Anne C. McClain and Andrew R. Morgan, both majors in the U.S. Army; and Jessica U. Meir. They were selected from more than 6,100 applicants through a rigorous process. Bolden said the candidates “not only have the right stuff, they represent the full tapestry of American diversity.”
- August 13, 2013 – SpaceX Grasshopper Demonstrates Successful Vertical–Takeoff–and–Landing. SpaceX successfully stages the most challenging test flight yet of its Grasshopper test vehicle, sending the vertical–takeoff–and–landing rocket 250 meters into the air and steering it 100 meters laterally before bringing it in for a landing. The test takes place August 13, 2013, at SpaceX’s test facility near McGregor, Texas. Grasshopper is a part of SpaceX’s initiative, first announced in 2011, to develop an orbital rocket with a reusable first stage. The test vehicle is based closely on the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket but has landing legs and is powered by a single kerosene–fueled Merlin 1–D engine.
- Augsut 12, 2013 – Coast Guard Deploys ScanEagle UAV In Tests. During the spring of 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard deployed a ScanEagle UAV during a two–week trial that resulted in the seizure of cocaine, the first time the Coast Guard deployed a unmanned aerial system from a cutter in a drug interdiction. The Coast Guard plans to purchase a small UAV as early as 2016, but this plan is an interim solution until a larger one like the Fire Scout is ready. UAVs would be used to augment manned operations.
- August 5, 2013 – Japanese Talking Robot On Its Way to the ISS. A small talking robot launches into space aboard a Japanese cargo ship Saturday, August, 3. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launches the humanoid “Kirobo” robot astronaut into orbit from southern Japan as part of nearly 3.5 tons of supplies and equipment to resupply the space station's six–person crew. After it arrives at the ISS on Friday, Kirobo's primary role will be to keep Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata company.
- July 19, 2013 – Bezos Announces Recovery of Apollo 11 Engine. Coinciding with the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, billionaire Jeff Bezos reveals Friday, July 19, 2013, that one of the engines he recovered from the ocean earlier this year is from the Apollo 11 mission. A NASA spokesperson verified the discovery was confirmed using information from the Marshall Space Flight Center.
- July 16, 2013 – NASA HS3 Team Deploying UAVs to Track Hurricane Intensity. NASA’s Ames Research Center has scheduled unmanned flight missions for hurricane research in the Atlantic from 20 August to 23 September. The mission will involve two Global Hawk aircraft equipped with instruments to measure atmospheric humidity, pressure, temperature, aerosols and wind; and will focus on tracking intensity changes of hurricanes, which is the most difficult aspect for forecasters. Researchers hope the data from the Global Hawk flights will refine the existing models forecasters rely on to predict the course of storms.
- July 10, 2013 – X–47B Navy Drone Completes First Ever Unmanned Carrier Landing. The U.S. Navy’s X–47B drone made history Wednesday, July 10, 2013, as the first unmanned aircraft to land on the moving flight deck of an aircraft carrier at sea. The drone, named "Salty Dog 502," takes off from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, on a flight to the USS George H. W. Bush, in the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia. The drone lands by deploying a tailhook that catches a wire across the ship’s flight deck, just like a traditional fighter jet. Unlike other military drones, the X–47B isn't remotely piloted and relies upon an automated computer system to complete its maneuvers. On May 14, 2013, the X–47B executes the first ever "catapult takeoff" and lands successfully at Patuxent an hour later.
- July 6, 2013 – Solar–Powered Plane Completes Cross–Country Flight. Solar Impulse, a solar–powered, single–seated plane, completes the last leg of its history–making cross–country journey Saturday night, July 6, 2013, safely touching down at New York’s JFK International Airport at 11:09 p.m. The cross–country journey began in California in early May, with Saturday’s final leg taking off from Dulles International Airport a little before 5 a.m. The final leg of the flight, while short on distance, took the longest time because of the need to avoid air traffic. The only problem noted was a wing issue resulting from a tear in the fabric.
- July 3, 2013 – UAV Swarms Expected to Benefit a Variety of Fields. Scientists are working on applying swarm intelligence to UAVs because it could be beneficial to deploy several coordinated flying vehicles in a variety of fields. One application for UAV swarms would be search and rescue. A swarm could cover a lot of ground quickly while requiring only one operator. Another is exploration. Swarms could scan sites rapidly, whereas larger UAVs cannot. Swarming UAVs could also play a role in defense, as it is thought that such a coordinated attack could overwhelm standard missile–defense systems.
- June 29, 2013 – New Atlantis Exhibit Opens. The space shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center officially opens on Saturday, 29 June 2013. Atlantis, the last space shuttle to fly, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit that chronicles the entire 30 year history of the shuttle program. The $100 million exhibit, showcasing the workhorse of the shuttle fleet that flew 33 times and more than 125 million miles, displays the orbiter as if in flight.
- June 27, 2013 – FAA Releases NexGen Plan. The FAA releases the NextGen air traffic control modernization plan, saying NextGen improvements will reduce delays by 41% compared with what would happen if no further NextGen improvements were made beyond what the agency has done already. The plan, described as one of the FAA’s highest priorities, provides some detail on progress so far and what is expected in the near term.
- June 14, 2013 – Airbus A350 Completes Maiden Flight. The Airbus A350 successfully completes its maiden flight Friday, June 14, 2013. The flight, with two former fighter pilots at the controls, takes off at 10:01 a.m. local time (4:01 a.m. EDT) from the Airbus factory in southwestern France. It is watched by more than 10,000 staff and spectators. The A350 touches down at 2:05 p.m. local time after flying past the Toulouse production site, concluding eight years of development estimated to have cost $15 billion.
- June 10, 2013 – Opportunity Rover Makes New Discovery Before Heading to Next Locale. Nearly ten years after its launch, NASA’s Opportunity rover analyzes what may be the oldest rock captured, and found its first evidence that Mars once had nonacidic water – the kind of water that could sustain life on Earth.
- June 7, 2013 – Orion Capsule Passes Critical Pressurization Tests. NASA’s Orion crew capsule achieves key milestones Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center by successfully passing its static loads tests, thus demonstrating it could survive what it is expected to experience in space, and validating its design. Orion was successfully pressurized to 110 percent of the conditions it will be subjected to in flight, also demonstrating that repairs made to superficial cracks will hold when it makes its first flight. Orion is scheduled to launch aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket in September 2014.
- June 1, 2013 – SpaceX Performs First Test Firing of Falcon 9–R Rocket. SpaceX performs the first test firing of its Falcon 9–R prototype rocket on June 1, 2013. News of the test is announced June 3 by Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder. The test lasts about 10 seconds and includes nine Merlin 1–D engines. Falcon 9–R is the name SpaceX is using for a planned Falcon 9 variant with a fully reusable first stage. The company has been testing reusable launch vehicle technology under its Grasshopper technology demonstrator program. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
- May 22, 2013 – Triton Completes First Flight. The Northrop Grumman–built MQ–4C Triton high–altitude unmanned aircraft successfully completes its first flight Wednesday, May 22, 2013, from the company’s manufacturing facility in Palmdale, CA. The MQ–4C Triton is being produced for U.S. Navy high–altitude maritime surveillance missions, and is designed to fly up to 24 hours and 11,500 miles without refueling. The aircraft is a heavily modified version of the RQ–4 Global Hawk, and has a strengthened airframe and de–icing features that allow it to fly at altitudes nearly ten miles above sea level, giving it a 2,000–nautical–mile view of the ocean in every direction. The first flight is considered a major step in the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.
- May 22, 2013 – Solar Impulse Sets Distance Record for a Solar–Powered Flight. Solar Impulse, a solar–powered plane, flies from Arizona to Texas on the second leg of its cross–country journey on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, landing in Dallas Thursday morning at 2:08 a.m. EDT. Solar Impulse's 12,000 photovoltaic cells kept the plane going in the dark. While not setting any speed records, the flight takes more than 18 hours setting a new distance record for a single solar–powered flight.
- May 17, 2013 – X–47B UAV Makes Its First Touch and Go Landing. Less than a week after completing its first catapult launch from a carrier deck, the X–47B UAV achieves another milestone on Friday, May 17, 2013, when it executes its first touch and go landings aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, bringing the technology demonstrator ever closer to being fully carrier–capable. The tests demonstrate the ability for the UAV and the carrier to communicate with each other over the super–fast datalink that they share. This is especially important if conditions become unsafe for a landing and it needs to be waved off.
- May 14, 2013 – X–47B UAV Launches from Aircraft Carrier for First Time.The U.S. Navy makes aviation history on Tuesday, 14 May 2013, by launching an unmanned jet off an aircraft carrier for the first time. The X–47B stealth drone is catapulted at 11:18 a.m. EDT from the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia Beach, VA. The X–47B flies a series of pre–programmed maneuvers around the ship before heading off for Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland where it later lands. The successful launch of the X–47B is “an inflection point in history on how we will integrate manned and unmanned aircraft on carrier flight decks in the future,” Rear Adm. Mat Winter wrote on the Navy’s official blog. With a range of 2,000 nautical miles, an unmanned jet like the X–47B could give the Navy both a long–range strike and reconnaissance capability.
- May 2, 2013 – Navy Announces First Aircraft Squadron to Include Both Manned, Unmanned Vehicles. The U.S. Navy establishes its first aircraft squadron made up of both traditional helicopters and remotely piloted drones. The squadron’s first deployment is expected next year, and is designated Helicopter Maritime Strike 35, “the Magicians.” Its pilots will fly the drones from a control room inside the ship. The Magicians squadron will be made up of eight MH–60R Seahawks and 10 MQ–8B Fire Scouts.
- May 1, 2013 – X–51A Waverider Successfully Achieves Flight Above Mach 5. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Boeing X–51A Waverider demonstrator, on May 1, 2013, successfully achieves sustained, scramjet–powered, air–breathing hypersonic flight above Mach 5 in its final test flight. The X–51A is thought to have experienced positive acceleration to speeds in excess of Mach 5 and run for the full duration of the planned powered phase of the test. The success of the test follows less successful prior tests and could be pivotal in helping drive further research and development to meet the Air Force's long–term goal of hypersonic capability.
- April 29, 2013 – Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Makes First Rocket–Powered Flight. Virgin Galactic’s passenger spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, completes its first rocket–powered flight Monday, April 29, 2013 above the Mojave Desert in California. Approximately 45 minutes into the flight, SpaceShipTwo was released from its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, triggering ignition of the rocket motor, carrying SpaceShipTwo to a max altitude of 56,000 feet. During the 16–second engine burn, the spaceship broke the sound barrier, according to a statement released by Virgin Galactic. The rocket–powered portion of the flight lasted a little more than 10 minutes, and the entire flight took about an hour. Virgin Galactic said it will continue testing this year and plans to reach full space flight by the end of 2013.
- April 21, 2013 – Antares Launches from Wallops. Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launches its Antares rocket at 5 p.m. EDT, Sunday, April 21, 2013, from the Mid–Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The goal of this launch is not to connect with the space station, but to make sure the rocket works and that a simulated version of a cargo ship that will dock with space station on future launches separates into orbit.
- April 15, 2013 – X–48C Aircraft Makes Last of 30 Test Flights. The experimental X–48C ‘blended wing body’ aircraft recently makes the last of 30 test flights concluding an eight–month program backed by Boeing and NASA. The two organizations hope to build a bigger, faster (transonic – in the vicinity of the speed of sound) blended wing body aircraft at some point, and that within 15 to 20 years, the concept could be developed into military aircraft for cargo–carrying and aerial refueling missions. All 30 test flights were conducted at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The X–48C flew for approximately 30 minutes on most flights, attaining an altitude of about 9,800 feet. Very quiet and efficient, the hybrid wing body has shown promise for meeting all of NASA's environmental goals for future aircraft designs.
- March 13, 2013 – Curiosity Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited for Ancient Life on Mars. An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon – some of the key chemical ingredients for life – in the material Curiosity drilled out of a rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet.
- February 6, 2013 – Embry–Riddle Offers the First Degree in Commercial Space Operations. Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University announces on February 6, 2013, plans to launch an undergraduate degree in Commercial Space Operations this fall at its Daytona Beach campus, the first of its kind in the United States. Officials say the timing is right for a specialized program with companies like SpaceX launching cargo to the ISS, and Virgin Galactic and XCOR preparing for suborbital tourist flights.
- February 1, 2013 – 1 February 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. The seven–member crew of the STS–107 mission was just 16 minutes from landing on the morning of 1 Feb. 2003 when Mission Control lost contact with the shuttle Columbia. A piece of foam, falling from the external tank during launch, had opened a hole in one of the shuttle’s wings, leading to the breakup of the orbiter upon re–entry. Addressing the nation, President Bush said, “mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.”
- January 28, 2013 – 28 January 2013 marks the 27th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. The shuttle exploded less than two minutes after lift–off from the Kennedy Space Center in 1986. All seven crew members were killed. An investigation revealed that the cold temperatures compromised the seals on the solid rocket boosters, which led to the explosion.
- January 23, 2013 – Deep Space Industries Announces Plans for Asteroid Mining. Deep Space Industries (DSI) announces it is raising $20 million to fund the first stage of a mission to identify asteroids close to Earth and mine them for valuable materials. DSI is targeting 2015 to launch satellites called “Fireflies” to identify targets, followed a year later by “Dragonflies” to return samples. It plans to pay satellite companies to allow its 55–pound Fireflies to ride piggyback on existing launches of commercial satellites. The company also has a patent pending on a 3–D–printing process that can create high–strength metal objects from schematics in zero–gravity conditions.
- January 2013 – Aviation Group Reports 2012 Safest Year On Record Worldwide. According to the Aviation Safety Network, 2012 is the safest year for air travel since 1945. The world's airlines – including passenger and cargo flights – reported only 23 accidents resulting in 475 fatalities last year, compared with the 10–year average of 34 accidents and 773 fatalities per year. The declining accident numbers are the result of several efforts by international aviation groups to require audits of airlines around the world to comply with safety standards. In the U.S., the Aviation Safety Network's database shows only two fatal commercial airline accidents last year, resulting in two deaths.
- January 2013 – Over the past year, humankind's efforts to push farther out into the solar system have resulted in launching the first commercial spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station, landing a car–size rover on Mars, docking the first Chinese manned spacecraft, and sending 18 people to live and work off the planet. As these and other firsts enter history, they will join a half century of international space milestones. Looking ahead into the coming year, 2013 will mark several key anniversaries for the events of the previous five decades of human activity outside the Earth.
- November 16, 2012 – NASA, Boeing Mark Testing Milestone for X–48C Aircraft – NASA and Boeing's blended wing X–48C flies its 100th flight, marking a major milestone for the experimental aircraft. The unmanned aerial vehicle has been modified to investigate noise–shielding concepts with a blended wing body design, combined with mounting the engines on top of the fuselage and shielding them with both the horizontal and vertical tail surfaces. Twenty more test flights are expected before the blended wing body program is completed.
- November 15, 2012 – Pentagon Agrees to Station Space Debris–Tracking Radar In Australia – Following high–level discussions with Australia’s Defense Minister Stephen Smith, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta announces that the U.S. military will station in Australia an advanced radar to help track space junk threatening satellites, and is working toward placement of a new, state–of–the–art deep–space telescope, called the Space Surveillance Telescope, developed by DARPA.
- November 14, 2012 – Northrop Grumman Unveils Bigger Firebird – Northrop Grumman Corporation unveils a bigger Firebird aircraft, some 30 percent larger than the Firebird demonstrator it unveiled in 2011, when it began test flights on the medium–altitude optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) demonstrator
- November 4, 2012 – Boeing's 787 Dreamliner Makes Debut for United – Boeing's 787 Dreamliner makes its commercial debut for United Airlines on Sunday, November 4, 2012, on a flight from Houston to Chicago. Sometimes referred to as "the aircraft of the future," the Dreamliner is expected to save money on fuel and potentially gain consumer preference for its comforts.
- November 2, 2012 – space shuttle Atlantis Moves to KSC Visitor Complex – On Friday, November 2, 2012, space shuttle Atlantis makes its final departure from the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, making a 10–mile journey from the assembly building to its new display site at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Atlantis arrived at Kennedy in April 1985. The spacecraft traveled 125,935,769 miles during 33 spaceflights, including 12 missions to the International Space Station. Its final flight, STS–135, closed out the Space Shuttle Program era upon landing on July 21, 2011.
- October 30, 2012 – California Science Center Opens Endeavour Exhibit – After a nearly two–decade career ferrying astronauts into space, space shuttle Endeavour begins its final mission as the centerpiece of a long–awaited museum exhibit paying tribute to California's aerospace industry and the American shuttle program. Elected leaders, NASA officials and astronauts joined hundreds of schoolchildren and space fans for a ceremony commemorating the opening of the shuttle display at the California Science Center.
- October 28, 2012 – SpaceX Dragon Returns to Earth in Successful Pacific Splashdown – SpaceX's Dragon, an unmanned space capsule carrying medical samples from the International Space Station, splashes down in the Pacific Ocean Sunday, October 28, 2012, completing the first official private interstellar shipment under a NASA contract. It lands in the Pacific via parachutes at 12:22 p.m. PDT, a couple hundred miles off the Baja California coast. The Dragon carried nearly 2,000 pounds of science experiments and old station equipment as well as nearly 500 frozen samples of blood and urine collected by station astronauts over the past year. It was the first of 12 scheduled deliveries.
- October 26, 2012 – Missile Defense Agency Completes Historic Test – The U.S. Military successfully intercepts four of five targets over the Pacific Ocean in the largest and most complex test to date of the nation's ballistic missile defense system. The targets used during the test at Kwajalein Atoll include one medium–range ballistic missile, two short–range ballistic missiles and two low–flying cruise missiles. The missiles are launched from the ground, air, and sea in an exercise that took about 30 minutes to complete. It is the first time in a live–fire test that multiple weapon systems engaged a raid of multiple targets nearly simultaneously.
- October 15, 2012 – Cassini Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary – NASA's Cassini spacecraft celebrates 15 years of uninterrupted drive time. Since launching on October, 15 1997, the spacecraft logs more than 3.8 billion miles of exploration, enough to circle Earth more than 152,000 times. After flying by Venus twice, Earth, and then Jupiter on its way to Saturn, Cassini pulls into orbit around the ringed planet in 2004 and spends its last eight years weaving around Saturn, its rings and moons. Cassini sends back some 444 gigabytes of scientific data to date, including more than 300,000 images.
- October 14, 2012 – Felix Baumgartner Makes Successful Jump from Stratosphere – Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner becomes the first man to break the sound barrier in a record–breaking freefall jump from the edge of space. The 43–year–old jumps from a capsule more than 24 miles above the Earth, reaching a top speed of 833.9 miles per hour, or 1.24 times the speed of sound. The veteran skydiver is in freefall for four minutes and 20 seconds before opening his red and white parachute and floating down to the desert in New Mexico. His launch coincides with the 65th anniversary of American pilot Chuck Yeager breaking the speed of sound.
- October 10, 2012 – SpaceX Falcon Successfully Docks with ISS – Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s unmanned cargo ship successfully docks with the International Space Station during the first regular cargo mission in commercial spaceflight. Astronauts use the station’s robotic arm to grab the Dragon capsule at 6:56 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, October 10, and attach it to a docking port about 250 miles above Earth at 9:03 a.m., ahead of schedule. The Hawthorne, California–based company, SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, accomplishes a similar feat on May 25, 2012 in a test mission, becoming the first company to do so. This is the first of at least a dozen resupply flights the company will make under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.
- September 22, 2012 – First Group of USAF UAV Operators Graduate Without Learning to be Pilots – The first group of U.S. Air Force student operators who have not completed the service's undergraduate pilot training (UPT) program graduate from the General Atomics MQ–9 Reaper training course. These pilots are part of the USAF's new career field, designated 18X within the service's internal categorization, which is designed to train drone operators to fly unmanned aircraft without being trained as a manned aircraft pilot.
- September 19–21, 2012 – Last Flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour (atop a modified Boeing 747 jet) – Space shuttle Endeavour begins its flight from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Los Angeles on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, thrilling spectators across the southern United States before completing the first stage of its transcontinental voyage in Houston. Endeavour completes the second leg of the trip on Friday, September 21, arriving at Los Angeles International Airport atop a modified Boeing 747 jet at 12:51 p.m. PT. Endeavour, along with Discovery, Enterprise and Atlantis, become museum pieces after NASA ends its 30–year shuttle program in July 2011.
- August 14, 2012 – Faulty Control Fin Results in Failed WaveRider Test – The U.S. Air Force launches the X–51A, a hypersonic unmanned air vehicle with the potential of traveling at six times the speed of sound, but the test ends in disappointment when a part fails, causing it to plummet into the Pacific Ocean. The experimental aircraft is launched over the Pacific from above the Point Mugu Naval Air Test Range in a key test to fine–tune its hypersonic scramjet engine. The aircraft is designed to hit mach 6, or six times the speed of sound, and fly for five minutes. But that does not happen as the engine never ignites. About 15 seconds into the flight, a fault is identified in one of the WaveRider's control fins, and the aircraft is not able to maintain control and is lost. It is the third time the WaveRider has flown. Not one flight goes the distance. Only one of four WaveRider aircraft remains, but officials have not decided when, or if, that vehicle will fly.
- July 19, 2012 – Electric Aircraft Flies Over 200 MPH for First Time – An electric aircraft flies faster than 200 miles per hour for the first time. Electric vehicle pioneer Chip Yates makes the flight in his Long–ESA. Yates reaches the milestone flying at 202.6 mph, but he claims his team could reach even higher speeds. Yates hopes his speed runs will help develop the technology needed for both longer endurance flights and more practical electric aircraft.
- May 25, 2012 – The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Dragon capsule docks with the International Space Station, marking the first time in history that a private company joins with the space station. The ISS's Expedition 31 crew successfully captures the SpaceX Dragon capsule with the station's robotic arm at 2:56 PM, coming precisely three days, six hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds after the mission's launch.
- April 2012 – Airbus begins final assembly of the first A350 XWB. The company has orders for 548 A350s, a family of long–range 250–350–passenger widebody airliners with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily from carbonfibre–re–inforced polymer. The first flight is planned for mid–2013.
- December 4, 2011 – Iran Announces Recovery of RQ-170 – Iran announces its recovery of the CIA's RQ-170 UAV, claiming to have shot it down. The US acknowledges the loss of the UAV, but denies that it was shot down.
- December 1, 2011 – RQ-170 Sentinel Crashes in Iran – A CIA RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on a reconnaissance mission malfunctions, loses control, and flies deep into Iranian territory, where it runs out of fuel and crashes
- October 26, 2011 – First Commercial Flight of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner – All Nippon Airways flies the first commercial flight of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, from Tokyo to Hong Kong.
- October 21, 2011 – Electric-powered Multicopter Achieves Sustained Flight Without Ground Assistance for the First Time – An electric-powered multicopter achieves sustained flight without ground assistance for the first time, when the battery-powered, 16-rotor e-volo VC1 helicopter achieves an altitude of 3 meters (10 feet) for 90 seconds at Karlsruhe, Germany.
- September 26, 2011 – Boeing Delivers its First Boeing 787 Dreamliner – Boeing delivers its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to a customer, All Nippon Airways, at Paine Field in Washington.
- September 4, 2011 – First Time That a Military Aviation Unit Flies on a Biofuel Mix – At the Naval Air Station Patuxent River Air Expo in Maryland, the United States Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron uses a 50/50 blend of conventional jet fuel and a biofuel made from Camelina sativa, the first time an entire military aviation unit flies on a biofuel mix.
- August 15, 2011 – First Known Collision of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a Manned Fixed-wing Aircraft – The first known collision of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a manned fixed-wing aircraft occurs when a United States Army RQ-7B Shadow UAV collides with a United States Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane at an altitude of approximately 1,300 feet as the C-130 descends toward Forward Operating Base Sharana in Afghanistan. The RQ-7B is completely destroyed, but the C-130 lands safely without injury to its crew.
- July 22, 2011 – Space Shuttle Atlantis Returns to Earth Marking Final Mission of Space Shuttle Program – Space shuttle Atlantis returns to Earth at the conclusion of STS-135, marking the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program.
- July 8, 2011 – Final Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis – Space shuttle Atlantis launches for the final time on STS-135 (Payload Multi–Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello), which is also the final launch and mission of the American Space Shuttle program.
- June 1, 2011 – Space Shuttle Endeavour Lands Concluding Final Mission – Space shuttle Endeavour lands at Kennedy Space Center completing its final mission. It is the 25th night landing of a shuttle. Over its flight career, Endeavour flies 122,883,151 miles and spends 299 days in space.
- May 16, 2011 – Final Launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour – Space shuttle Endeavour's main engines ignite for the final time at 8:56 a.m. EDT to lift it and its crew off Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (on ISS assembly flight ULF6, ELC 3, ROEU, Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer).
- March 9, 2011 – Space Shuttle Discovery Lands Concluding Final Mission– Space Shuttle Discovery, first of the space shuttles to be retired, glides to a landing to conclude its 39th and final mission (ISS assembly flight ULF5, PMM Leonardo, ELC 4) – the most by any space shuttle, after launching February 24, 2011.
- February 24, 2011 – Final Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery – Space Shuttle Discovery launches from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39-A to begin its final orbital flight.
- February 9, 2011 – US Air Force Announces C-17 Globemaster III First Aircraft Certified to Fly on Biofuel – The US Air Force announces that the C-17 Globemaster III is its first aircraft certified to fly on biofuel. The certification clears the C-17 to fly on a volumetric blend of up to 50 percent HRJ biofuel and 50 percent JP-8 conventional jet fuel or on a blend of 25 percent HRJ, 25 percent synthetic paraffinic kerosene fuel, and 50 percent JP-8.
- January 14, 2011 – MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Crashes – A US Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle crashes in the sea off the Horn of Africa while attempting to return to Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport in Djibouti, Djibouti. It is the first known accident involving either a Predator or an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle near a civilian airport.
- January 9, 2011 – Iran Air Flight 277 Crashes – Iran Air Flight 277 crashes while performing a go-around at Urmia Airport killing 77 of the 106 people aboard, and injuring 26. 28 survive. The aircraft involved in the accident is a Boeing 727-286.
- January 5, 2011 – Attempt Made to Hijack Turkish Airlines Flight 1754 – An attempt is made to hijack Turkish Airlines Flight 1754 from Gardermoen Airport, Oslo to Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul. The hijacker is overpowered by other passengers on the flight and is arrested when the aircraft lands. The flight was being operated by Boeing 737–800.
- July 18, 2010 – Boeing 787 Dreamliner Makes First International Appearance – The Boeing 787 Dreamliner makes its first international appearance at the Farnborough Airshow, UK.
- July 7–8, 2010 – Solar Impulse Team Makes Aviation History – Bertrand Piccard and his Solar Impulse team make aviation history by flying more than 24 consecutive hours non–stop in a solar airplane. The flight takes off from Payerne Airport outside Payerne, Switzerland, and returns after 26 hours 10 minutes 19 seconds in the air, the first overnight flight by a solar-powered aircraft and the longest flight in history up to this time by a manned solar-powered aircraft.
- June 28, 2010 – F–35B Lightning II Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing Aircraft Makes Maiden Supersonic Flight – Engine maker Pratt & Whitney announce that Lockheed Martin's F–35B Lightning II Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing aircraft has successfully made its maiden supersonic flight. U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Kelly climbed to 30,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 1.07 in the off–shore supersonic test track near Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. This marks the first time in aviation history that a production ready, stealthy, short take–off vertical landing capable aircraft has flown supersonic.
- June 4, 2010 – SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Achieves Earth Orbit – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket achieves Earth orbit nine minutes into its maiden flight, drawing praise from NASA, the White House and others eager for the company to start resupplying the International Space Station. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the launch "bodes well" and is a "huge boost of confidence" for plans to privatize launches to the space station.
- May 28, 2010 – Solar Impulse Makes First Flight Powered Entirely by Solar Power – The first Solar Impulse aircraft, HB-SIA, the first solar-powered aircraft with the ability to fly both day and night due to batteries charged by solar power that provide it with power during darkness, makes its first flight powered entirely by solar energy, charging its batteries in flight. The flight takes place at Payerne Airport outside Payerne, Switzerland.
- May 25, 2010 – Boeing X–51A Waverider Makes Longest Scramjet-Powered Hypersonnic Flight – A Boeing X–51A Waverider flight–test vehicle makes the longest scramjet–powered hypersonic flight off the southern California coast. The 200–second burn by the X–51's Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne–built air breathing scramjet engine accelerates the vehicle to Mach 5. The previous longest scramjet burn in a flight test was 12 seconds in a NASA X–43. The flight is considered the first use of a practical hydrocarbon–fueled scramjet in flight.
- April 5, 2010 – NASA Conducts Last Night Launch of the Shuttle Program – ISS assembly flight 19A: Utility and Logistics Flight 4: Multi–Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo.
- January 31, 2010 – Northwest Merges Into Delta – American airline Northwest Airlines officially merges into Delta Air Lines.
- January 13, 2010 – Blue Wings Shuts Down – German airline Blue Wings ceases operations.
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The History of Flight from Around the World
- December 2009 - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner long-range mid-size widebody twinjet, largely constructed of carbonfibre material, makes its first flight.
- May 11, 2009 - NASA's Last Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission (HST SM-04), and the final Non-ISS shuttle flight.
- June 12, 2008 - Lockheed Martin makes the first F-35B short-take-off-and-vertical-landing (STOVL), in conventional-take-off (CTOL) mode, clearing the way for funding to be released for production of the first six U.S. Marine Corps aircraft. The 44-minute flight of aircraft BF-1, the first production-representative F-35, also marks the start of a five-year, 5,000-plus test program involving three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter: the CTOL F-35A, STOVL F-35B and aircraft carrier-capable F-35C.
- April 19, 2008 - The return of the Expedition 16 crew from the International Space Station on Saturday, 19 April 2008, is an historic moment for women in aerospace. Aboard the Soyuz is Commander Peggy Whitson, Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko and spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi. It's the first time women outnumbered men on a spacecraft. Also, Peggy is the first female commander of the space station. On 25 October 2007, she and Pam Melroy became the first two women to command spacecraft in space concurrently. Pam was the shuttle commander. On Wednesday, 16 April 2008, Peggy breaks Mike Foale's record for cumulative time in space for a U.S. astronaut of 374 days in space. She lands Saturday, 19 April 2008, with a total of 377 days in space, on two flights, ranking 20th all-time.
- October 2007 - The Airbus A380 enters initial commercial service with Singapore Airlines on its service between Singapore and Sydney, Australia, passengers having bought seats in an online auction. Within four years some 16 million passengers would have been carried by A380s. (By June 2012, 72 are in service).
- March 19, 2007 - The Airbus A380, the world’s biggest commercial airliner, makes first flights to the United States, with one touching down in New York at John F. Kennedy International Airport and another in California at Los Angeles International Airport.
- December 15, 2006 - First flight of a U.S. Air Force aircraft, a B-52 Stratofortress, powered solely by a blend of synthetic jet fuel, produced by Syntroleum.
- December 15, 2006 - Lockheed Martin officials declare the maiden flight of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter a "huge success.” The flight, which was initially scheduled for one hour, instead lands after 35 minutes because two airspeed sensors aboard the aircraft were generating conflicting data. Officials call the problem a minor glitch.
- September 28, 2006 - The world's first female tourist, Anousheh Ansari, landed after a 10-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS). Launched on September 18, 2006 from Baiknour, Iranian-born U.S. Citizen Ansari spent eight days at the ISS and carried out human physiology experiments for the European Space Agency (ESA). Ansari travelled to the station onboard Soyuz TMA-9.
- September 27, 2006 - The first ever operation on a human in zero gravity takes place using a specially adapted aircraft to simulate conditions in space. During a 3-hour flight from Bordeaux, France, a team of surgeons successfully remove a benign tumor from the forearm of a 46-year-old volunteer. The experiment was part of a program backed by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop techniques for performing robotic surgery aboard the International Space Station or at a future Moon base. The custom-designed Airbus 300 aircraft – dubbed Zero-G – performed a series of parabolic swoops, creating about 20 seconds of weightlessness at the top of each curve. The process was repeated 32 times.
- March 10, 2006 - The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, designed and built by Lockheed Martin, NASA, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, underwent successful orbit insertion around Mars. The satellite will perform scientific reconnaissance of the planet’s surface, delivering data five times greater than all previous Mars missions, providing global maps of the planet and its climate, looking for future landing sites, and enabling communications support and data relay for missions planned for 2007 and beyond.
- November 10, 2005 - A Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner set a world record for the longest non-stop flight by a commercial jet. The plane flew 12,586 miles from Hong Kong to London. The plane made the trip in 22 hours and 42 minutes.
- October 11, 2005 - China launched its second human spaceflight into Earth orbit. A rocket carrying the Shenzhou VI capsule and two taikonauts, Fei Junlong and Nie Haishen, blasted off from a remote base in China's northwest.
- July 26, 2005 - STS-114 rocketed into the skies above NASA's Kennedy Space Center, at 10:39 AM EDT, returning the Shuttle fleet to flight after more than two years.
- July 4, 2005 - NASA's Deep Impact (flyby spacecraft) successfully reached out and touched comet Tempel 1, after 172 days and 431 million kilometers (268 million miles) of deep space stalking. The collision between the coffee table-sized impactor and city-sized comet occurred at 1:52 a.m. EDT.
- April 29, 2005 - The last Titan 4 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, ending nearly five decades of Titan launches from Florida.
- April 28, 2005 - Boeing delivered the last 757, to Shanghai Airlines, after 23 years of production. The 757 fleet worldwide has flown more than 35 million hours, which is equivalent to one airplane flying continuously for 4,000 years.
- April 27, 2005 - The Airbus A380 double-deck, widebody superjumbo, successfully makes its maiden flight, leaving Blagnac International Airport in Toulouse, France at 10.29 hours local time from runway 32L. It is the world's largest airliner, with accommodation for 525 passengers in a three-class configuration or up to 853 in an all-economy-class configuration, a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 and sufficient range to fly from New York to Hong Kong.
- November 16, 2004 - NASA's X-43A hypersonic test vehicle breaks record as its scramjet engine propels it to nearly 10 times the speed of sound. The vehicle, launched from a Pegasus rocket, reaches Mach 9.8, or 7,000 mph, as it flies at about 110,000 ft. This milestone has been officially recognized by Guinness World Records.
- October 4, 2004 - Burt Rutan and the SpaceShipOne team capture the $10 million X Prize for the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within a 14 day period.
- March 3, 2004 - Steve Fossett sets an aviation world record for speed around the world solo, non-stop and non-refueled, completing the journey in a plane called Global Flyer, in 67 hours and 1 minute.
- January 14, 2004 - President Bush's vision for space travel includes the retirement of the space shuttles and a commitment to return human beings to the moon by 2020 to man a research station and develop a jumping-off point for Mars exploration.
- January 3, 2004 - NASA's Rover Spirit successfully lands on the surface of Mars.
- December 17, 2003 - The first manned supersonic flight by an aircraft developed by a small company's private, non-government effort. This flight was the first powered flight of SpaceShipOne.
- December 17, 2003 - 100th anniversary of the first powered, manned, heavier-than-air, controlled flight.
- December 8, 2003 - NASA astronaut Michael Foale, International Space Station Expedition 8 Commander and NASA Science Officer, surpassed the previous U.S. space endurance record with a total of 230 days, 13 hours, three minutes and 37 seconds.
- October 24, 2003 - British Airways' Concorde supersonic jet makes its last flight.
- October 14, 2003 - China launches its first manned space mission, with Taikonaut Lt. Col. Yang Liwei aboard.
- October 14, 2003 - The Concorde breaks its own record for a trans-Atlantic flight with a hop from London to Boston that lasted just three hours, five minutes and 34 seconds.
- September 22, 2003 - David Hempleman-Adams became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic in an open wicker-basket balloon. The flight took 83 hours, 14 minutes and 35 seconds to complete.
- September 21, 2003 - NASA's Galileo spacecraft ends its' 14-year mission when it plunges into Jupiter's cloud deck at about 108,000 mph.
- July 31, 2003 - Austrian Felix Baumgartner flies across the English Channel on a carbon fiber wing. The trip totaled 21 miles and lasted 14 minutes.
- July 29, 2003 - The 1,000th consecutive day of people living and working aboard the International Space Station.
- June 26, 2003 - The remotely operated Helios Prototype aircraft is destroyed when it crashes into the Pacific Ocean.
- June 20, 2003 - Pratt & Whitney announces the completion of Mach 4.5 ground testing on the world’s first flight-weight, hydrocarbon-fueled, scramjet engine.
- March 7, 2003 - The Bell Agusta 609, the world's first civilian tiltrotor aircraft, rose vertically for the first time from Bell Textron's Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas. The maiden flight lasted 36 minutes and included hovering, turns, forward and backwards flight as well as four takeoffs and landings.
- February 1, 2003 - STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia, is lost as it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere. Seven astronauts are killed.
- January 25, 2003 - NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) successfully launched aboard a Pegasus XL rocket.
- January 22, 2003 - After more than 30 years in space, the Pioneer 10 spacecraft sends its last signal to Earth.
- November 26, 2002 - Commander John B. Herrington becomes the first Native American to walk in space during the mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which launched Nov. 23, 2002.
- August 25, 2002 - NASA sets a world record for the largest balloon successfully launched, when it flew a 60 million cubic foot balloon carrying a 1,500-pound scientific payload to the fringes of space.
- August 21, 2002 - The Atlas 5, intended to carry twice the capacity of previous Atlases, lifts off on its maiden voyage from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a European-built telecommunications satellite.
- July 31, 2002 - First flight of the Boeing 747-ER, which can carry 15,000 more pounds of people or cargo and can fly about 410 nautical miles farther than existing 747-400s.
- July 30, 2002 - The first successful flight test of a hypersonic scramjet engine in Australia. This air-breathing scramjet engine, which burns hydrogen fuel, could theoretically power aircraft at Mach 8, for two-hour trans-Atlantic flights.
- July 2, 2002 - Steve Fossett, in the 180-foot-tall "Spirit of Freedom" balloon, circumnavigates the globe on his sixth try.
- December 18, 2001 - NASA sends final message to Deep Space 1, ending its' 3 year mission to test high risk, advanced space technologies and capture the best images ever taken of a comet.
- November 2, 2001 - The International Space Station marks one full year of continuous international human presence in orbit.
- September 11, 2001 - Terrorists fly three Boeing airliners into New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon – a fourth aircraft crashes in Pennsylvania – changing history and aviation security in the 21st century.
- July 20, 2001 - The X-35B, flown by USMC Maj. Art Tomassetti, performs the world’s first short takeoff, level supersonic dash and vertical landing in a single flight.
- July 12, 2001 - STS-104 launches to deliver the new Joint Airlock to the International Space Station. The Airlock provides astronauts living aboard the space station access to and from space wearing space suits without the need of a docked shuttle.
- July 9, 2001 - The X-35B completes its first airborne transition from STOVL propulsion mode to conventional mode, completing a supersonic mission on the same flight.
- June 24, 2001 - The X-35B, achieves its first sustained hover.
- June 23, 2001 - The X-35B becomes the first Joint Strike Fighter demonstrator to perform a vertical takeoff and vertical landing.
- May 24, 2001 - Polly Vacher touches down in Birmingham, England and becomes the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a small plane via a Pacific Ocean route that took her to Australia.
- March 23, 2001 - The remains of the Russian space station Mir re-enters the Earth's atmosphere on its final flight and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.
- November 2, 2000 - Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko, Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev dock with the International Space Station and become the first residents to live on board.
- July 2000 - Air France Concorde F-BTSC suffers a tyre burst during take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle and crashes in flames into a hotel at Gonesse, killing all 109 on board, as well as four on the ground, and injuring six other people. All Concordes in the Air France and British Airways fleets are subsequently grounded.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- October 1999 - The Boeing 717 enters service with AirTran Airways on the Atlanta-Washington, DC route. Developed as the McDonnell Douglas MD-95, this twin-engined, single-aisle airliner became the 717 with the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing in 1997, and had first flown in September 1998.
- July 22-27, 1999 - STS-93 launched and Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to command an American space mission.
- March 20, 1999 - After a 46,759-mile balloon flight which lasted 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes, the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon, flown by Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard, achieves a non-stop round-the-world balloon flight.
- January 3, 1999 - The Mars Polar Lander is launched.
- December 6, 1998 - Unity, a six-sided connector for future station components, is connected to Zarya by Shuttle Mission STS-88. Together, the two modules form the new, 70,000-pound, 76-foot long International Space Station.
- November 20, 1998 - Zarya, an unpiloted space "tugboat" that provides early propulsion, steering and communications for the International Space Station, is the first element launched.
- October 29-November 7, 1998 - STS-95: At age 77, John Glenn becomes the oldest astronaut in space.
- October 24, 1998 - Deep Space 1, the first ion propulsion spacecraft, was launched to fly in space.
- March 27, 1998 - NASA announces that the Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first actual image of a planet outside our own solar system.
- March 12, 1998 - First test flight of the X-38, a spacecraft design planned for use as a future International Space Station emergency crew return "lifeboat."
- August 1997 - The Airbus A330-200 makes its first flight. The first customer is the International Lease Finanace Corporation, which leases the aircraft to discount charter airline Canada 3000.
- July 4, 1997 - NASA's Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner Rover land on Mars. The lander performed meteorology, atmospheric analysis, and photography, while its rover collected and analyzed rocks and soil.
- February 1997 - First flight of the Boeing 737 Next Generation (NG) is conducted with the 2,843rd 737 built, a -700. This model's launch customer Southwest Airlines still operates to date.
- September 26, 1996 - STS-79: Shannon Lucid returns from Mir after setting U.S. record for continuous stay in space and beginning a more than two-year continuing U.S. presence in space.
- December 7, 1995 - Galileo released probe into Jupiter's atmosphere.
- November 28, 1995 - The McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 made the first safe, automated landing of a transport aircraft using engine thrust.
- June 27-July 7, 1995 - STS-71: Space Shuttle Atlantis and Mir linked and American astronaut Norm Thagard and a Russian crewmate were returned to earth.
- May 1995 - The first Boeing 777, the world's largest long-range widebody twinjet, is delivered to United Airlines and, later the same month, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awards 180-minute ETOPS clearance, making the 777 the first airliner to carry this rating at its entry into service. The 777 had made its maiden flight in June 1994.
- April 27, 1995 - The Global Positioning System, becomes fully operational.
- March, 1995 - Norman Thagard becomes the first American astronaut to visit Mir.
- February 3-11, 1995 - STS-63: Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to pilot a space and Vladimir Titov is the first Russian to be launched aboard an U.S. spacecraft.
- January 25-May 3, 1994 - Clementine: NASA/DOD mission to map the lunar surface.
- April 21, 1994 - Maj. Jackie Parker becomes the first U.S. woman to be qualified in a F-16 combat fighter.
- June 1994 - The Boeing 777, the world's largest long-range widebody twinjet, makes its maiden flight.
- 1994 - Vicki Van Meter, age 12, becomes the youngest pilot to make a transatlantic flight in a Cessna 210.
- 1994 - Test flight of Boeing 777; the first aircraft to be designed entirely on a computer.
- 1994 - The K-Max "aerial truck" designed and built by Kaman becomes the first helicopter designed for repetitive lift operations.
- December 2-13, 1993 - STS-61: First servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.
- April 28, 1993 - Secretary of Defense announces that women are permitted to enter combat.
- May 2-16, 1992 - STS-49: First flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour and the first three-person spacewalk. Astronauts captured a private satellite for repair and reboost.
- January 25, 1992 - Lee Hixon becomes the first woman to fly the Gemini twin-engine helicopter.
- January 22, 1992 - Roberta Bondar becomes the first Canadian woman astronaut on Discovery, STS-42.
- October 3, 1991 - Marta Bohn-Meyer becomes the first woman crew member of the SR-71 Blackbird.
- July 15, 1991 - NASA research pilot Edward Schneider flew the F/A-18 High Angle-of-Attack Research Vehicle (HARV), with thrust-vectoring paddles, for repair and reboost.
- May 1991 - Canadair launches regional jet era with first flight of CRJ, a stretch of its Challenger executive jet. Bombardier's CRJ family becomes biggest-selling regional jet brand.
- April 24-29, 1990 - STS-31: Deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.
- 1990 - Patty Wagstaff wins her first of three U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Titles (she also wins in 1992 and 1994).
The History of Flight from Around the World
- November 18, 1989 - The COBE satellite is launched to measure Big bang radiation.
- October 18, 1989 - The Galileo probe is released from STS-34 and begins its journey to observe Jupiter.
- August 25, 1989 - Voyager 2: First encounter with Neptune.
- July 17, 1989 - The first flight of the U.S. Air Force's B-2 "Spirit" bomber, which blends composite materials with stealth technology.
- May 4, 1989 - STS-30, Atlantis, launched the Magellan spacecraft deployed to map the surface of Venus.
- 1989 - The V-22 Tiltrotor Osprey becomes the first production airplane to demonstrate the vertical lift capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and range capabilities of an airplane.
- September 29 - October 3 - STS-26, Discovery, returned to flight following the Challenger disaster.
- April 22, 1988 - Daedalus '88: First human-powered craft flown from the island of Crete to Santorini, in the Mediterranenan Sea.
- 1988 - Mir cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov complete the first yearlong spaceflight.
- December 23, 1986 - Voyager: first nonstop flight around the world without refueling (Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan).
- February 20, 1986 - The Soviet Union announced the launch of its new space station, Mir.
- January 28, 1986 - STS-51L, Challenger accident, in which seven astronauts were killed.
- January 24, 1986 - Voyager 2: First encounter with Uranus.
- October 3-7, 1985 - STS-51J: First flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
- August 30 - September 5, 1984 - STS-41D: First flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
- April 6-14, 1984 - STS-41C: First onorbit satellite repair (Solar Maximum Mission), aboard Space Shuttle Challenger.
- November 28 - December 8, 1983 - STS-9 launched with the first flight of the European Spacelab module in the Space Shuttle payload bay.
- August 30- September 5 - STS-8 launched and Guy Bluford became the first African American astronaut.
- June 18-24, 1983 - STS-7 launched and Sally K. Ride became the first American female Astronaut.
- June 13, 1983 - Pioneer 10 becomes the first man-made object to leave the solar sytem.
- April 4-9, 1983 - STS-6, the first flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
- November 11-16, 1982 - STS-5, Space Shuttle Columbia, launched on first operational mission. Astronauts deployed two commercial communications satellites.
- 1982 - Perot and Coburn of the U.S. complete the first around-the-world flight in a helicopter.
- July 7, 1981 - Solar Challenger flew 163 miles (262 km) across the English Channel from Paris to England.
- June 1981 - February 1983 - NASA's Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility flight tested and evaluated the digitally controlled engine of the F-15.
- April 12-14, 1981 - Launch of STS-1, the first test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia (John Young, Bob Crippen). The mission was the first to employ both liquid- and solid-propellant rocket engines for the launch of a spacecraft carrying humans.
- 1981 - Double Eagle V: First balloon flight over the Pacific Ocean.
- November 11, 1980 - Voyager 1 flies past Saturn on a journey that carries it beyond the edge of the solar system.
- November - Solar Challenger: First solar powered plane flew.
- March 7, 1980 - NASA research pilot John Manke tested the Gossamer Albatross to collect data on large lightweight craft .
- February 14, 1980 - Solar Maximum Mission was the first satellite to study the Sun in detail.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- July 24, 1979 - NASA research pilot Thomas McMurtry conducted the first flight of a KC-135 jet, with winglets, to demonstrate fuel efficiency.
- June 12, 1979 - Gossamer Albatross: First man-powered aircraft crosses the English Channel.
- October 24, 1978 - Nimbus 7, an environmental research satellite, was launched and provided global evidence of Antarctic ozone depletion in the 1980s.
- August 14, 1978 - NASA's William Dana flew the first of 27 flights in an F-15 with a 10 degree cone to improve wind tunnel data predictions.
- June 26, 1978 - Seasat, the first satellite launched to provide global observations of the Earth's oceans.
- January 27, 1978 - The 8th Astronaut Candidates Class is the first to include women (6 women): Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid, Judith Resnik, Sally Ride, Rhea Seddon and Kathryn Sullivan.
- 1978 - The U.S. Airline Deregulation Act ended government regulation of airline routes and rates.
- 1978 - Double Eagle II: First balloon flight over the Atlantic Ocean.
- August 23, 1977 - The man-powered aircraft Gossamer Condor successfully demonstrated sustained, maneuverable man-powered flight.
- March 27, 1977 - The world's worst aviation disaster occurs at Los Rodeos airport, Tenerife, when a KLM Boeing 747 making its take-off run collides with a Pan American 747 still clearing the runway. All 234 passengers and the 14 crew members of the KLM aircraft, and 317 passengers and nine members of the cabin crew aboard the Pan Am aircraft, are killed. Nine of the 70 survivors from the Pan Am aircraft later die from their injuries.
- February 18, 1977 - Enterprise, the first space shuttle orbiter, was flight tested at Dryden Flight Research Center.
- September 3, 1976 - Viking 2: Second U.S. landing on another planet (Mars).
- July 20, 1976 - Viking 1: First U.S. landing on another planet (Mars).
- January 1976 - Concordes of British Airways and Air France operate the world's first scheduled passenger services by supersonnic airliners. At the same time that a British Airways Concorde takes off from London Heathrow for Bahrain, an Air France aircraft leaves Paris Le Bourget for Rio de Janeiro. By reaching its destination first, G-BOAA - the BA Concorde - becomes the first Supersonic Transport (SST) to complete a commercial service between planned destinations.
- 1976 - The E3A Airborne Warning and Control System, an electronic surveillance system capable of detecting any airborne vehicles, was inaugurated.
- August 20, 1975 - The Viking 1 orbiter and lander are launched to Mars.
- August 5, 1975 - NASA's John Manke landed the X-24B proving a shuttle-like vehicle without power could land safely upon return from orbit.
- July 15-24, 1975 - Apollo-Soyuz Test Project: First joint U.S.-Soviet human flight (Tom Stafford, Vance Brand, "Deke" Slayton; Alexei Leonov, Valeri Kubasov).
- September 1, 1974 - Pioneer 11: Three times closer pass to Jupiter than Pioneer 10, then on to Saturn.
- June 4, 1974 - Lt. Col. Sally Murphy becomes the first woman to qualify as an U.S. Army aviatrix.
- May 17, 1974 - SMS-A: First geosynchronous weather satellite launched.
- May 1974 - The Airbus A300B2 enters service with Air France on the carrier's London-Paris route.
- February 8, 1974 - The last Skylab mission, Skylab 4, ends.
- December 3, 1973 - Pioneer 10: First flyby past Jupiter.
- May 25 - June 22, 1973 - Skylab 2: First U.S. space station mission (Pete Conrad, Joe Kerwin, and Paul Weitz).
- May 14, 1973 - Skylab: Unmanned space station launched.
- January 29, 1973 - Emily Howell Warner becomes the first woman employed as a pilot for a scheduled commercial airline (Frontier Airlines).
- December 13, 1972 - Last Apollo mission to Moon ends.
- December 7-19, 1972 - Apollo 17: Last lunar landing (Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt - only scientist-astronaut/geologist).
- October 1972 - The first airliner produced by international company Airbus Industrie, the A300B1, makes its maiden flight. The prototypes are followed by the B2, representative of the initial production version.
- July 27, 1972 - First test flight of the F-15 Eagle.
- July 23, 1972 - Landsat 1: the first U.S. environmental satellite, which demonstrated global remote-sensing of Earth's surface, is launched.
- May 25, 1972 - NASA research pilot Gary Krier flew an F-8C modified.
- January 5, 1972 - NASA announces the space shuttle program.
- December 2, 1971 - First soft landing on Mars.
- November 13, 1971 - Mariner 9: First mission to orbit another planet arrived (Mars).
- September 3, 1971 - The Concorde makes its first transatlantic crossing.
- August 1971 - American Airlines and United Airlines begin operations with the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 new-generation widebody airliner, first flown in August 1970.
- July 26 - August 7, 1971 - Apollo 15: Fourth lunar landing (David Scott, Alfred Worden, and James Irwin), first use of Lunar Rover.
- June 11, 1971 - Sheila Scott flies the first light plane around the World via the North Pole.
- April 19, 1971 - Salyut 1 becomes the first manned Space laboratory.
- March 9, 1971 - NASA research pilot Thomas McMurtry completed the first flight in an F-8A, modified with Langley researcher Richard Whitcomb's supercritical wing.
- December 16, 1970 - Venera 7 becomes the first craft to land on Venus.
- April 11-17, 1970 - Apollo 13: Mission aborted after loss of oxygen pressure; crew used lunar module as lifeboat to return to Earth (Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Jack Swigert, command module pilot).
- March 5, 1970 - First NASA flight in a YF-12A with Fitzhugh Fulton as pilot.
- January 1970 - The Boeing 747 jumbo is put into passenger service, in its initial 747-100 form, on Pan American's New York-London route, the type having first flown in February 1969.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- July 16-24, 1969 - Apollo 11: First human lunar landing. At 4:18 p.m. EST on July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin landed on the lunar surface while command module pilot Michael Collins orbited overhead. "That's one small step for man - one giant leap for mankind."
- March 2, 1969 - The first flight of the Concorde.
- January 16, 1969 - First docking of two manned spacecraft in orbit, Soyuz 4 and 5.
- December 31, 1968 - The Tu-144, the first Soviet Super Sonic Transport, flew.
- December 21-27 - Apollo 8: First human flight to orbit the moon (Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders).
- October 11-12 - Apollo 7: First manned Apollo mission (Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham).
- November 9, 1967 - The first Saturn V moon rocket is launched on an unmanned test flight.
- October 18, 1967 - Venera 4 makes the first controlled descent on Venus.
- October 3, 1967 - X-15 (experimental aircraft) sets speed record at 4,520 mph.
- April 25, 1967 - Air Force Col. Joseph Cotton and NASA research pilot Fitzhugh Fulton made the first NASA flight in the XB-70A.
- January 27, 1967 - Apollo 1: Capsule fire in which astronauts Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White were killed.
- August 31, 1966 - The first flight of the Harrier jet, built by British Aerospace.
- August 14, 1966 - The Lunar Orbiter 1 was the first U.S. spacecraft to orbit the moon.
- June 2, 1966 - Surveyor 1 makes the first US soft landing on the Moon.
- March 16-17, 1966 - Gemini VIII: First orbital docking (Neil Armstrong and David Scott).
- February 3, 1966 - Luna 9 makes the first soft landing on the Moon.
- 1966 - Boeing 747 "Jumbo Jet" revolutionizes mass air transport.
- December 15-16, 1965 - Gemini VI-A: First orbital rendezvous (Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford).
- November 16, 1965 - The launch of Soviet Venera 3, the first object to impact on Venus.
- July 14, 1965 - Mariner 4: First flyby of Mars.
- June 3-7, 1965 - Gemini IV: First U.S. spacewalk (by Ed White) launched June 3.
- March 23, 1965 - Gemini III: First operational Gemini mission (Gus Grissom and John Young).
- March 18, 1965 - Alexei Leonov takes first walk in space.
- October 30, 1964 - NASA pilot Joseph Walker conducts first flight in Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV).
- May 4, 1964 - Jacqueline Cochran established the official world speed record for women in a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter, average speed 1,429.297-mph.
- April 11, 1964 - Jerrie Mock becomes the first woman to pilot a plane around-the-world successfully.
- March 19, 1964 - Geraldine Mock, in a Cessna 180, becomes the first woman to fly around the world.
- August 22, 1963 - X-15 (experimental aircraft) sets altitude record of 354,200 feet (67 miles) with a speed of 4,159 mph.
- July 26, 1963 - Syncom II, the world's first geosynchronous satellite was launched.
- June 16, 1963 - Russian Cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, becomes the first woman to solo in space.
- May 8, 1963 - Telstar II relays first color television broadcast.
- January 28, 1963 - First flight of Hiller OH-5A helicopter.
- January 9, 1963 - First TV program transmitted by satellite.
- December 14, 1962 - Mariner 2: First successful planetary flyby (Venus).
- November 27, 1962 - First flight of Boeing 727.
- July 13, 1962 - First telephone conversation is relayed by satellite between the US and Europe.
- July 10, 1962 - Telstar 1: NASA launched first privately built satellite for communications which relays the first live television pictures between the US and Europe.
- February 20, 1962 - Friendship 7: First American (John Glenn) to orbit Earth.
- January 3, 1962 - NASA publicly announces and names the Gemini program.
- 1962 - The USSR's Soyuz Program begins with a goal to develop a series of successively updated space stations.
- November 29, 1961 - Enos, a five-year-old chimpanzee had a 2-orbit ride on the MA-5.
- October 27, 1961 - First flight test of the Saturn 1 launch vehicle.
- October 21, 1961 - The first fully successful experimental V/STOL fighter was the Hawker Siddley P1127.
- May 5, 1961 - Freedom 7: First U.S. human (Alan Shepard) space flight.
- April 12, 1961 - Vostok I: First human being (Maj. Yuri Gagarin) to travel in space by completing one full orbit of the earth.
- February 12, 1961 - The USSR's Venera 1 becomes the first spacecraft to fly by a planet.
- January 31, 1961 - A three-year-old chimpanzee named Ham rocketed into space on the MR-2 program.
- August 12, 1960 - Echo 1: A passive communications satellite launched.
- April 1, 1960 - Tiros I: First weather satellite launched.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- September 15, 1959 - A. Scott Crossfield becomes the first to pilot the fastest and highest flying aircraft in history, the rocket powered X-15.
- September 12, 1959 - The USSR's Luna 2 is launched and becomes the first human object to reach the Moon.
- June, 1959 - Scott Crossfield, with the NASA/DOD hypersonic research program, makes the first unpowered glide flight.
- March 3, 1959 - Pioneer 4: First successful U.S. flyby of the Moon.
- February 28, 1959 - Discover 1: The first polar orbiting satellite is launched.
- February 17, 1959 - Vanguard 2: First successful launch of this principal International Geophysical Year (IGY) scientific satellite.
- February 6, 1959 - The first Titan rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
- January 2, 1959 - The USSR's Luna 1 launched and became the first man-made object to escape Earth and orbit the Sun
- December 19, 1958 - First transmission and reception of a human voice from space.
- November 7, 1958 - Last Flight in X-1E model by NASA research pilot John McKay.
- November 1, 1958 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was established in the United States, with Elwood R. Quesada as the first administrator.
- October 11, 1958 - Pioneer 1: NASA's first launch.
- October 1, 1958 - NASA becomes operational.
- March 17, 1958 - Vanguard 1: First solar powered satellite is launched.
- January 31, 1958 - Explorer I: First U.S. launched artificial satellite which made the first records of micrometeorite activity and led to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts around the earth.
- 1958 - More than a million passengers fly across the Atlantic in 1958, for the first time surpassing the total number of Atlantic steamship passengers.
- December 20, 1957 - The Boeing 707 makes its first flight. It is generally credited with ushering in the Jet Age. It enters service in October 1958 with Pan American World Airways, becoming the first successful jet airliner to enter passenger service.
- November 3, 1957 - Sputnik II is launched carrying the dog "Laika."
- October 4, 1957 - The Russians launch Sputnik I, the first artificial Earth satellite.
- September 20, 1957 - The first successful launch of a Thor rocket, the predecessor of today's Boeing-built Delta launch vehicle.
- June 11, 1957 - The first launch of the Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
- January 15-18, 1957 - First jet flight around the world.
- September 7, 1956 - The Bell X-2 rocket plane sets an altitude record at over 126,000 feet.
- 1956 - First air traffic accident occurs over Arizona killing all 128 passengers.
- April 27, 1955 - Jean Ross Howard Phelan establishes the Whirly Girls, Inc.
- November 24, 1954 - The First Air Force One is christened.
- November, 1954 - First Boeing 707 made its test flight.
- November 20, 1953 - A. Scott Crossfield reached the aviation milestone of Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound) or more than 1,320 miles per hour in the D-558-II Skyrocket.
- November 5, 1952 - The Cessna XL-19B, the world's first turboprop light plane, makes its first flight in Wichita, Kansas.
- August 28, 1952 - American Airlines flies 10,000,000 passenger-miles today, setting a new single-day mileage record for all airlines.
- July 26, 1952 - Two monkeys and two mice are recovered alive and unharmed after being fired to approximately 200,000 ft. in an "Arobee" rocket from Holloman AFB, New Mexico.
- April 15, 1952 - The first flight of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress (the YB-52 prototype), piloted by Alvin M. "Tex" Johnston, one of Boeing's top test pilots, and Lt. Col. Guy M. Townsend of the U.S. Air Force flight test center.
- December 10, 1951 - The first flight of the Kaman 225, powered by a Boeing 502 gas turbine engine
- June, 1951 - Douglas Aircraft announces development of a supersonic missile that can be guided to an enemy plane and exploded upon contact
- June, 1951 - Charles F. Blair makes the first single-engined plane flight across the North Pole in his F-51 "Mustang"
- 1951 - The Atlas rocket by Convair was the first liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 miles
- November 1, 1950 - The U.S. Navy announces development of an automatic pilot for helicopters.
- July, 1950 - Sikorsky's S-52-2 ambulance helicopter, designated YH-18A by the U.S. Army Field Forces, completes its first flight test .
The History of Flight from Around the World
- September 30, 1949 - The Berlin airlift ends.
- July 27, 1949 - The first flight of the prototype DeHavilland Comet, the first commercial jet aircraft.
- June 23, 1949 - Douglas Aircraft "Super DC-3" completes its first test flight in Santa Monica, California.
- March 2, 1949 - Lucky Lady II: This Boeing B-50A makes the first nonstop around-the-world flight.
- February, 1949 - The U.S. Air Force conducts tests of a special 30-ft. parachute to act as brakes and shorten the landing run of jet airplanes, using a Boeing XB-47 for the purpose.
- January 5, 1949 - Capt. Charles E. Yeager sets a new unofficial climbing speed record of more than 13,000 ft. per minute in the Bell X-1 at Muroc.
- July 20, 1948 - July 20 - 16 Lockheed F-80's of the U.S. Air Force 56th Fighter Group land in Stornway, Scotland, marking the first west-to-east Atlantic crossing by jet aircraft.
- June 26, 1948 - The Berlin airlift begins by the U.S., Britain, and France to break the Soviet blockade of Berlin, supplying the city entirely by air.
- June 10, 1948 - The Air Force makes its supersonic flights public.
- March 22, 1948 - The United States first jet trainer, the T-33 (first known as the TP-80) made its first flight with pilot Tony LeVier.
- March, 1948 - The U.S. Air Force announces the dropping of the world's largest bomb, weighing 21 tons, from a B-29 bomber in a test flight at Muroc Air Force Base, California.
- January 30, 1948 - Orville Wright collapses in his laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, and dies at the age of 76.
- December, 1947 - United Helicopters unveils its "Hiller 360" helicopter in Palo Alto, California.
- November 26, 1947 - First successful hypersonic-flow wind tunnel (11 inch) placed into operation at Langley Laboratory.
- October 14, 1947 - Capt. Charles E. Yeager flies faster than sound for the first time in the rocket powered Bell X-1.
- September 16, 1947 - The United States Air Force is established as a separate and equal element of the United States armed forces.
- September 2-6, 1947 - The first Joint Technical Sessions by the Royal Aeronautical Society, Great Britain, and the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, are held in London, England.
- July 2, 1947 - The first double-deck Boeing "Stratocrusier" is completed at the Boeing Airplane Company's Seattle plant.
- June 12, 1947 - Boeing Aircraft's new B-50 bomber rolls off a final assembly line in Seattle, Washington.
- April 27, 1947 - United Airlines introduces the Douglas DC-6 aircraft, the first postwar aircraft to feature full-cabin pressurization.
- 1947 - The F-86 "Sabre Jet" made by North American Aviation became America's first single-seat, swept-wing jet fighter.
- August 17, 1946 - Sgt Lawrence Lambert successfully tests a new pilot-ejector seat, designed to catapult a pilot from the cockpits of high-speed airplanes, at Wright Field, Ohio.
- August 12, 1946 - President Truman signs a bill authorizing appropriation of $50,000 to establish a National Air Museum in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
- August 6, 1946 - Two B-17 bombers, minus pilot and crews, are flown nonstop from Hilo, Hawaii to Muroc Lake, California, controlled entirely by radio.
- March 27, 1946 - The U.S. and France sign a bilateral Five Freedoms Agreement, giving reciprocal rights for the operation of each country's commercial airlines over the territory of the other.
- March 22, 1946 - The WAC, the first American-built rocket to actually leave the Earth's atmosphere, reaches an altitude of 50 miles.
- March 12, 1946 - The first commercial helicopter license issued by the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Administration is granted to Bell Aircraft Corporation on its two-place Model 47.
- August 17, 1946 - Sgt Lawrence Lambert successfully tests a new pilot-ejector seat, designed to catapult a pilot from the cockpits of high-speed airplanes, at Wright Field, Ohio.
- August 14, 1945 - Japan's surrender ends World War II.
- August 6, 1945 - A U.S.A.A.F. B-29 bomber, the "Enola Gay," piloted by Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., drops the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
- May 8, 1945 - The War in Europe ends with the collapse of Germany.
- March 29, 1945 - Final wartime V2 rocket launched.
- January 20, 1945 - Robert T. Jones formulates the swept wing to overcome shockwave effects.
- September 14, 1944 - U.S. Col. Floyd B. Wood, Major Harry Wexler, and Lt. Frank Record, flying in a Douglas A-20 "Havoc," successfully carry out the first attempt to fly into the heart of a hurricane to obtain valuable scientific data.
- September 8, 1944 - The V-2 became the first combat ballistic missile used by Germany against England.
- June 6, 1944 (D-Day) - A gigantic sky-train, nine planes wide and 200 miles long, carries American and British air-borne troops across the English Channel for invasion of Europe.
- January 8, 1944 - The U.S. Army's new P-61 "Black Widow" night fighter, built by Northrop Aircraft, Inc., makes its first public appearance at the Army-Navy Los Angeles Air Show.
- January 7, 1944 - The U.S. Army Air Forces announces development and production of its first jet-propelled fighter airplane, the Bell P-59 "Airacomet".
- August–September 1943 - The "Hump" airlifts to China commence - The "Hump" was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces based in China. Creating an airlift presented the USAAF a considerable challenge in 1942: it had no units trained or equipped for moving cargo, and no airfields existed in the China Burma India Theater (CBI) for basing the large number of transports that would be needed. Flying over the Himalayas was extremely dangerous and made more difficult by a lack of reliable charts, an absence of radio navigation aids, and a dearth of information about the weather. The "Hump" airlifts were accomplished by thousands of fliers and ground support personnel who often endured stifling heat and monsoon rains, living in tents and bamboo huts for years. Many aircraft crashed in the mountains or jungles and many crews perished in this forgotten theater of WWII.
- January, 1943 - Franklin D. Roosevelt boarded a Boeing 314 flying boat in Miami, Florida, and became the first chief executive to make a wartime flight while in office.
- November 26, 1942 - A water-injection device, developed by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, gives added "bursts of power" to engines installed in fighter aircraft.
- November 15, 1942 - The first women ever to be flight trained by the Army Air Forces report for flight training in Texas and take Oath.
- October 3, 1942 - First successful test flight of the V-2 rocket.
- July 19, 1942 - The Messerschmitt 262, the world's first, operational jet-powered fighter, takes to the air with Fritz Wendel at the controls.
- May 14, 1942 - The U.S. Congress establishes The Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), under the direction of Oveta Culp Hobby, editor of the Houston Post.
- 1942 - The German Heinkel He 219 becomes the first aircraft to be equipped with crew ejection seats as standard equipment.
- December 7, 1941 - Japan pulls a surprise air raid on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, doing heavy damage to the U.S. Fleet and destroying the majority of military aircraft at Hickman Field.
- December 1, 1941 - The Civil Air Patrol is established.
- October 24, 1941 - The first successful true "flying wing," developed by Northrop Aircraft, Inc., is announced by the Army Air Forces.
- September 5, 1941 - Nine U.S. Army Air Forces B-17 "Flying Fortresses" fly from Hawaii to the Philippines, the first mass flight of heavy bombers across the western Pacific.
- July 19, 1941 - The Tuskegee Airmen, the first black fighter squadron in the United States armed forces, is formed.
- July 1, 1941 - Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to ferry the Lockheed Hudson bomber across the Atlantic .
- June 20, 1941 - The U.S. Army Air Force is formed.
- May 15, 1941 - The first Allied jet aircraft, the Gloster-Whittle E28/39, makes its' first official flight.
- April 16, 1941 - Igor I. Sikorsky sets a national helicopter record by hovering virtually motionless over a Stratford, Connecticut airport, for 1 hour, 5 minutes.
- November 3, 1940 - Alexander P. de Seversky is awarded Patent No. 2,219,980 on his new design of pursuit-type airplane.
- September 8, 1940 - A puncture-proof gasoline tank is tested at Wright Field, Ohio.
- July 8, 1940 - The first flight of the Boeing Stratoliner, the first airliner with a pressurized cabin. This allowed the plane to fly up to 20,000 feet, avoiding turbulence.
- July 3, 1940 - Northrop introduces the N-1M Flying Wing, the first flying wing airplane with pilot, engine, and fuselage in a single airfoil structure.
- March 26, 1940 - Commercial airlines of the United States complete today a full year of flying without a fatal accident or serious injury to a passenger or crew member.
- March 25, 1940 - The Army and Navy agree to stand aside to give France and Britain virtually unhindered access to the latest models of American warplanes, releasing to the Allies over 600 planes now under construction.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- November 5, 1939 - The embargo against arms shipments to belligerents in the European War is lifted, releasing at least $170,000,000 worth of orders from France and Great Britain for American-built airplanes.
- September 15, 1939 - Jacqueline Cochran, flying a Seversky monoplane, sets a new international speed record of 305.926 M.P.H. for 1,000 kilometers in Burbank, California.
- September 14, 1939 - The VS-300 becomes the first practical helicopter to ever take off. Igor Sikorsky himself piloted the vehicle and on his first flight, Sikorsky was able to lift off 3 ft for about 10 seconds.
- September 1-3, 1939 - Germany invades Poland. England and France declare war on Germany.
- August 30, 1939 - Pan American Airways' "California Clipper" lands at Auckland, New Zealand, completing the first flight of a regularly scheduled fortnightly service from San Francisco, California.
- August 24, 1939 - The Heinkel He 178 makes the first jet-powered flight.
- June 28, 1939 - Pan American Airways flew the first trans-Atlantic passenger service.
- May 20, 1939 - The first North Atlantic airmail service is started by Pan American Airways between Port Washington, Long Island, the Azores, Portugal, and Marseille, France.
- January 5, 1939 - Amelia Earhart Putnam is declared legally dead.
- February 8, 1938 - The first license for the export of helium to be used in a foreign dirigible is granted to the American Zeppelin Transport, Inc., acting as agent for the German Zeppelin Co.
- September 20, 1937 - Airmail between the U.S. and Paraguay is opened.
- July 21, 1937 - Clyde Pangborn, an American aviator, is detained for two days in Moscow for flying into Soviet Russia without a passport visa.
- July 2, 1937 - Amelia Earhart is lost en route to Howland Island from Lae, New Guinea.
- June 1, 1937 - Amelia Earhart begins world flight attempt in Lockheed Electra.
- May 6, 1937 - The Hindenburg, the famous German dirigible, is destroyed by fire and an explosion of an unknown origin during landing proceedings at Lakehurst, New Jersey. 36 people lost their lives.
- 1937 - Tricycle landing gear, used on many midget planes, is practically applied to conventional full-size airplanes this year.
- 1937 - Lores Bonney becomes the first pilot to solo the 18,200 overland miles between Australia and South Africa.
- December 9, 1936 - Juan de la Cierva, inventor of the autogiro, is killed in the crash of a K.L.M. Airliner at Croydon Airport, London.
- May 12, 1936 - The world's largest high-speed wind tunnel is put into operation at Langley Field Laboratories of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
- 1936 - Lockheed Aircraft Corporation built the first pressurized cabin plane.
- 1936 - Juan Trippe established the first international airline routes for Pan American Airways.
- December 17, 1935 - The DC-3, the first successful passenger airliner, takes off for the first time from Santa Monica, California.
- December 1, 1935 - The first airway traffic control center went into operation at Newark, New Jersey.
- November 29, 1935 - The U.S. Bureau of Air Commerce, in cooperation with the industry, develops a device for elimination of propeller ice.
- November 22, 1935 - Pan American Airways makes the first pacific mail service route leaving San Francisco with 111,000 letters.
- July 28, 1935 - The B-17 "Flying Fortress," the first successful American four-engine bomber, was unveiled.
- July 1, 1935 - After lifting off on June 4th, Brothers Al and Fred Key land at Meridian Airport and set a world record for sustained flight (through air-to-air refueling) at 653 hours and 34 minutes.
- May 8, 1935 - Amelia Earhart Putnam flies nonstop from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey, in 14 hours, 18 minutes, 30 seconds, becoming the first person to fly this course nonstop from South to North and the only woman to fly it either way.
- March 28, 1935 - Robert Goddard launches the first rocket with a gyroscope to 4800 feet .
- March 6, 1935 - The U.S. Secretary of Commerce signs a special traffic rule prohibiting flights over downtown Washington D.C.
- January 11-12, 1935 - Amelia Earhart makes the first solo flight from Hawaii to the American mainland.
- January 1, 1935 - Helen Richey becomes the first woman employed as an airline pilot (Central Airlines).
- June 20, 1934 - William E. Boeing receives the 1934 Daniel Guggenheim Medal for his achievements in air transportation and aircraft manufacture.
- June 12, 1934 - The Air Mail Act of 1934, which includes the provision for the appointment of a Federal Aviation commission, is signed by Resident Roosevelt.
- 1934 - American Airlines developed and tested the first automatic direction-finder for airplanes.
- July 15-22, 1933 - Wiley Post makes the first round-the-world solo flight in his Lockheed Vega "Winnie Mae"
- July 1, 1933 - The DC-1 prototype flew.
- March 30, 1933 - Boeing 247: United Air Lines accepted First modern airliner for service.
- January 1933 - Orville Wright is awarded the first Honorary Fellowship of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences.
- November 19, 1932 - A national monument, commemorating the Wright Brothers' flight, is dedicated in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
- May 20-21, 1932 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
- May 9, 1932 - Capt. Albert F. Hegenberger, U.S. Army Air Corps, makes the first solo "blind flight" at Wright Field, seeing nothing but the instruments before him from take-off to landing.
- April 19, 1932 - The first Goddard rocket with gyroscopically controlled vanes, for automatically stabilized flight, was fired.
- October 4-5, 1931 - First nonstop crossing of the Pacific: Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon in a Bellanca CH-400, Japan to Wenatchee, WA.
- June 23 - July 1, 1931 - Winnie Mae: first circumnavigation of the world by a lone aircraft by Wiley Post and Harold Gatty.
- May 31, 1931 - A pilotless monoplane is successfully flown by radio control from another plane in Houston, Texas.
- April 8, 1931 - Amelia Earhart establishes the Pitcairn autogyro world's altitude record at 18,451 ft.
- 1931 - Britain's' Frank Whittle designed and patented the first jet engine.
- January 1931 - Italy's Air Minister, General Italo Balbo, led the first formation flight across the South Atlantic.
- September 28, 1930 - Daniel Guggenheim dies at his home in Port Washington, Long Island.
- September 1930 - France's Costes and Bellonte become the first to link Paris and New York by flying east to west.
- July 23, 1930 - Glenn H. Curtiss, pioneer aviator, dies in Buffalo.
- June 11, 1930 - John and Kenneth Hunter begin refueling endurance flight over Chicago, which breaks all records when they remain in the air for 533 hours, 41 minutes and 30 seconds.
- June 4, 1930 - Lt. Apollo Soucek, flying a Wright Apache, open cockpit landplane, set a new world altitude record of 43,166 ft.
- May 5-24, 1930 - Amy Johnson becomes the first woman to solo between England and Australia.
- May 15, 1930 - Ellen Church becomes the first flight attendant ever to fly.
- April 20, 1930 - Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow set a transcontinental speed record from Los Angeles to New York, 14 hours, 45 minutes.
- April 8, 1930 - Orville Wright is presented with the first Daniel Guggenheim Medal for Aeronautics for 1929.
- 1930 - A sound-locator acoustic system for detection of aircraft in flight was developed.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- 1929 - The Link Trainer, the first electro-mechanical flight simulator, was invented.
- 1929 - A survey by an aviation magazine reports that 1,400 aeroengineering students were enrolled in more than a dozen schools across the United States.
- 1929 - Fritz Opel of Germany flew the first rocket-powered plane for 1 minute 15 seconds.
- 1929 - William Green developed the first automatic pilot used on an airliner
- February 27, 1929 - Former Secretary of War Dwight Davis presents the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded by the U.S. Congress, to Orville Wright and, posthumously, to his brother Wilbur.
- March 9, 1929 - Col. Charles A. Lindbergh inaugurates the first direct mail route to Mexico City, carrying 13 passengers on a trip from Brownsville, Texas.
- August 1929 - Several small solid-propellant rockets were attached to a Junkers-33 seaplane and the first jet-assisted airplane takeoff was recorded.
- August 8-29, 1929 - Commanded by Captain Hugo Eckener, the Graf Zeppelin accomplishes the first around-the-world flight by a dirigible.
- September 24, 1929 - James H. Doolittle becomes the first to fly entirely by use of instruments and radio aids from takeoff to landing without reference to the ground.
- February 1928 - Avro Avian: First solo England to Australia flight by Bert Hinkler.
- March 1928 - Ten men of the U.S. Army Air Corps jump from a Ford airplane at Chanute Field in the space of 8.2 seconds, thus establishing a world record.
- April 1928 - Hubert Wilkins and his pilot, Carl Ben Eiselson, fly a Lockheed Vega on the first trans-Arctic flight from Point Barrow, Alaska to Spitsbergen.
- June 1928 - Friedrich Stamer, as pilot, achieved the first manned flight in a rocket-powered glider. Stamer flew about one mile. Launch was achieved by an elastic launch rope and a 44-pound thrust rocket, then a second rocket fired while airborne.
- May 31-June 9, 1928 - Southern Cross: First trans-Pacific flight, from Oakland, California to Brisbane, Australia, by Charles Kingsford-Smith and Charles Ulm. Included in the crew were James Warner (Radioman) and Harry Lyons (Navigator).
- June 17, 1928 - Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to cross the Atlantic.
- October 1928 - The U.S. Army Air Corps develops a parachute 84 ft. in diameter, of sufficient strength to support the weight of an airplane and its passengers.
- November 28-29, 1928 - First flight over the South Pole is made by Comdr. Richard E. Byrd, Bert Balchen, Capt. Ashley C. McKinley, and Harold I. June, flying from camp in "Little America."
- 1927 - Lockheed debuts the Vega (designed by John K. Northrop).
- 1927 - Air-cooled engines replaced water-cooled engines, which reduced weight and made bigger and faster planes possible.
- 1927 - The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, at its Langley Field, Virginia, Laboratories, builds the first wind tunnel large enough to test a full-size airplane.
- May 20-21, 1927 - Spirit of St. Louis: First nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic by Charles A. Lindbergh.
- May 25, 1927 - Lt. James H. Doolittle does an "outside loop" in an airplane, the first time this feat has ever been accomplished.
- June 28-29, 1927 - Bird of Paradise: The first transoceanic flight -- from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii -- by Albert Hegenberger and Lester Maitland. It was the longest open-sea flight to that date.
- October 1927 - The new Wright Field is dedicated in Dayton, Ohio.
- October 14-15, 1927 - France's Dieudonné Costes and his navigator, Joseph Le Brix, make the first nonstop crossing of the south Atlantic.
- February 6, 1926 - Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company produces its first engine, a nine-cylinder radical air-cooled engine, which develops about 400 hp. at 1,800 r.p.m.
- February 13, 1926 - The U.S. Post Office Department puts new 10-cent airmail stamp on sale.
- March 16, 1926 - Robert Goddard launches the World's first liquid propellant rocket in an orchard. The rocket climbed 41 feet in two-and-a-half-seconds and landed 184 feet away.
- March 20, 1926 - The USS Langley is commissioned and becomes the first American aircraft carrier.
- May 9, 1926 - Comdr. Richard E. Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett complete the first flight over the North Pole.
- August 18, 1926 - A training plane is dropped at San Diego Naval Air Station, California, by means of a parachute, the first time this feat is accomplished.
- September 3, 1926 - Lt. James H. Doolittle, demonstrating Curtiss airplanes in South America, flies over the Andes Mountains.
- January 24, 1925 - 25 airplanes take scientists and other observers above the clouds in Connecticut to view a total eclipse of the sun.
- April 17, 1925 - Sgt. Randall L. Bose and Pvt. Arthur Bergo make a delayed parachute jump of 1,500 ft. to demonstrate that falling persons remain conscious.
- April 27, 1925 - Lt. Webb, U.S. Navy, makes trial flight of new Wright "Cyclone" 450-hp. air-cooled engine in DT-6 torpedo plane at Muchio's Field, New Jersey.
- June 12, 1925 - Daniel Guggenheim donates $500,000 toward the establishment of a School of Aeronautics at New York University.
- August 22, 1925 - The Army Air Service announces a "recording compass" which registers on a paper chart all of the various headings that an airplane flies.
- November 30, 1925 - Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., is organized
- December 24, 1925 - The Wasp, Pratt & Whitney's first engine is completed.
- March 4, 1924 - U.S. Army Air Service planes avert a flood in Platte River Valley, Nebraska, by dropping bombs to clear an ice jam.
- July 1, 1924 - The U.S. Post Office Department opens regular day-and-night air-mail service between New York and San Francisco.
- September 28, 1924 - The first round-the-world flight is completed in Seattle, Washington by three, two-seat Douglas World Cruisers of the US Army Air Service.
- 1923 - A radio-controlled airplane flew without a pilot at the E'tampes Aerodrome in France.
- March 1, 1923 - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company delivers the TC-1, the largest American nonrigid dirigible, to the Army Air Service.
- May 2-3, 1923 - Lieutenants Oakley Kelly and John Macready complete the first nonstop coast to coast airplane flight. New York to San Diego - 26 hours, 50 minutes.
- May 18, 1923 - WWI ace Frank Ford pays $5 and becomes Charles Lindbergh's first paying passenger.
- June 27, 1923 - Lieutenants Lowell Smith and John Richter completed the first in-flight refueling over Rockwell Field, USA.
- August 23, 1923 - U.S. Army Corps Lieutenants Lowell Smith and John Richter set an endurance record of 37 hours with the help of in-flight refueling.
- September 5, 1923 - Planes of the U.S. Army Air Service bomb the battleships Virginia and New Jersey off Cape Hatteras in a series of tests. Bombs dropped from 6,000 ft. sink the New Jersey in 7.5 minutes. The Virginia sinks in 4 minutes.
- December 13, 1923 - Lawrence B. Sperry, one of American aviation's foremost figures, is drowned while attempting a flight over the English Channel.
- January 1, 1922 - Underwriter's Laboratories, in Chicago, began registration of American aircraft as a private enterprise for benefit of insurance companies.
- March 20, 1922 - U.S.S. Langley commissioned as an airplane carrier in Norfolk, Virginia.
- June 12, 1922 - Capt. A. W. Stevens, U.S. Air Service, makes record parachute jump from 24,206 ft. from a supercharged Martin bomber over McCook Field, USA.
- August 21, 1922 - Lawrence Sperry drops landing wheels from his plane in flight and successfully lands with a skid device in experiments carried out in Farmingdale, New York.
- June 15, 1921 - Bessie Coleman becomes the first African-American woman to receive Fédération Aéronautic Internationale (FAI) pilot's license.
- November 21, 1921 - Wesley May steps from the wing of his Lincoln Standard biplane to the wing of a Curtiss JN-4, with a 5-gallon can of gasoline strapped to his back, and completes the first, technical "mid-air refuelling" flying over Long Beach, CA.
- February 22, 1920 - First transcontinental mail service arrives in New York from San Francisco. The trip takes 33 hours and 20 minutes - nearly three days faster than rail service.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- 1919 - First sustained international commercial passenger air service initiated between Paris and Brussels.
- March 3, 1919 - William E. Boeing, with Edward Hubbard as passenger, carries the first air mail from Canada to the U.S.
- April 28, 1919 - Leslie Irvin, using a parachute designed by Floyd Smith, makes the first jump from an airplane with free-type back-pack parachute at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio.
- May 3, 1919 - The first Municipal Airport in the U.S. is dedicated at Atlantic City, New Jersey.
- May 16-27, 1919 - NC-4 (Navy Curtiss flying boats): First aircraft to span the Atlantic by American Lieutenant Commander A. C. Read.
- June 14-15, 1919 - Vickers Vimy: First nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by British Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Albert Brown, from Newfoundland to Ireland.
- December 10, 1919 - Vickers Vimy G-EAOU lands in Darwin in Northern Australia thus completing the 135 hour journey from England to Australia.
- May 15, 1918 - The United States Post Office inaugurated airmail service from the Polo Grounds, Washington, D.C.
- November 1918 - As World War I nears its end, Orville Wright notes to a friend that, "The Aeroplane has made war so terrible that I do not believe any country will again care to start a war."
- November 6-7, 1918 - Robert Goddard fired several rocket devices for representatives of the U.S. Signal Corps, Air Corps, Army ordinance and other assorted guests, at the Aberdeen proving grounds.
- April 30, 1917 - Pacific Aero Products Company changes its name to Boeing Airplane Company, with William E. Boeing as President.
- June 29, 1916 - William E. Boeing builds and test-flies his first aeroplane, the "B&W" trainer
- September 2, 1916 - Airplanes in flight communicate with each other directly by radio for the first time.
- March 3, 1915 - The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the first government-sponsored organization in support of aviation research and development, is formed.
- October 1915 - William E. Boeing becomes interested in aeronautics and begins flying instruction at Glenn L. Martin's School in California.
- November 6, 1915 - Lt. Comdr. H. C. Mustin makes the first catapult launching from a vessel under way from the U.S.S. North Carolina in Pensacola Bay.
- 1914 - Two-way radio contact accomplished between pilot and ground control.
- 1914 - Elmer A. Sperry develops the first gyroscopic controls.
- 1914 - Burgess Company begins building pusher biplane seaplanes for the Canadian Government. This is the first American-built fighting plane shipped to Europe for World War I.
- 1914 - Robert Goddard was granted two U.S. patents for rockets using solid fuel, liquid fuel, multiple propellant charges, and multi-stage designs.
- January 15, 1914 - The Benoist Company, using a Benoist flying boat with Capt. Tony Jannus as pilot, starts the first regular scheduled passenger air line between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida.
- April 1914 - The first American use of aircraft in military operations by the navy, in operations against Mexico at Vera Cruz.
- June 24, 1914 - Igor Sikosky sets an unofficial world distance record by flying a 1,590-mile round trip flight from Saint Petersburg to Kiev, Russia in the II'ya Muromets.
- August 1914 - World War I breaks out in Europe.
- August 26, 1914 - Igor Sikorsky inaugurated the "Grand," aviation's first four-engine aircraft.
- December 1914 - First two-way radio between aeroplane and ground successfully tested in Manila by pilot H. A. Dargue and Lt. J. O. Mauborgne, designer of the set.
- February 5, 1913 - Lt. J. H. Towers, U.S. Navy, makes first attempt at bombing stationary targets from an aeroplane.
- June 20, 1913 - Ens. W. D. Billingsley is thrown out of a Wright hydroplane at an altitude of 1,600 ft., becoming the first Naval aviator to be killed in an airplane accident.
- July 17, 1913 - Alys McKey Bryant becomes the first woman to pilot a plane in Canada.
- August 30, 1913 - Elmer A. Sperry develops the gyroscopic compass and gyroscopic stabilizer. The first flight of these instruments is made aboard a Curtiss C-2 flying boat.
- September 23, 1913 - First crossing of the Mediterranean Sea by Roland Garros.
- November 1913 - K. M. Turner develops the "aviaphone" (or "airphone") which makes conversation possible between pilot and passenger during flight .
- November 18, 1913 - Lincoln Beachey flies his specially-built Curtiss biplane upside and down and also executes the first "loop" ever accomplished in the air.
- January 1912 - Frank E. Boland introduces his air-speed meter.
- February 1912 - The Wright Brothers produce a new model incorporating a patented stability device that automatically banks the aeroplane at a correct angle when turning.
- March 1, 1912 - Capt. Albert Berry makes the first parachute jump from a powered airplane.
- April 16, 1912 - American Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to pilot a plane across the English Channel.
- May 30, 1912 - Wilbur Wright dies at age 45 years. Orville succeeds his brother as President of Wright Company.
- June 7-8, 1912 - The first machine gun mounted on an aeroplane is tested by Capt. Charles Chandler.
- July 26, 1912 - The U.S. Navy begins experiments for radio communication between the air and ground.
- October 1912 - A. Leo Stevens designs the "life-pack" parachute.
- January 18, 1911 - Eugene Ely makes the first successful carrier landing on the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay.
- February 23, 1911 - Glenn H. Curtiss demonstrates the first amphibian type of aeroplane equipped with wheels and floats.
- May 1911 - France's Jules Vedrines is the only competitor to finish the cross-country race from Paris to Madrid.
- August 1, 1911 - Harriet Quimby becomes the first American woman to receive Fédération Aéronautic Internationale (FAI) pilot's license.
- September 1911 - The first air mail in the U.S. is carried by Eagle Ovington from Nassua Boulevard Aerodrome, New York to Mineola, New York.
- September 29, 1911 - Walter Brookins sets American record by flying 192 miles from Chicago to Springfield, Illinois, making two stops.
- December 10, 1911 - Cal Rodgers completes the first transcontinental flight in the Wright EX "Vin Fiz" from Long Island, New York to Pasadena, California.
- February 1910 - Glenn H. Curtiss develops a new hydro-aeroplane at North Island, San Diego, California.
- March 8, 1910 - Madame La Baronne de Laroche becomes the first woman pilot to be licensed by the Aero Club of France.
- May 21, 1910 - Wilbur Wright makes his last flight as a pilot in the United States. He flew at Simm's Station in Dayton, Ohio.
- May 25, 1910 - Orville and Wilbur Wright make a short flight at Huffman Field, Dayton, Ohio. It is the only time the Wright Brothers are in the air together.
- June 1910 - First night flight in America made by Charles W. Hamilton at Camp Dickinson, Knoxville, Tennessee.
- August 1910 - McCurdy sends and receives the first wireless messages from an aeroplane in flight at Sheepshead Bay, New York .
- August 8, 1910 - Tricycle landing gear are fitted to the Army's Wright biplane to replace skids.
- September 2, 1910 - Blanche Stuart Scott becomes the first (unofficial) American woman to solo .
- September 16, 1910 - Bessica Faith Raiche becomes the first (official) American woman to solo.
- November 14, 1910 - Eugene Ely makes the first successful carrier takeoff from the the USS Birmingham, in Norfolk, Virginia.
- November 23, 1910 - Octave Chanute dies in his home in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 78 years.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- 1909 - Prior to this year, no two aeroplanes of identical design existed in America.
- February 23, 1909 - Canadian John McCurdy makes the first powered flight in the British Empire in the"Silver Dart", at Baddeck, Nova Scotia. The flight lasts for 800 meters and lands safely on the ice.
- July 25, 1909 - Blériot XI: First cross Channel flight by Louis Blériot.
- August 22-28, 1909 - First International Aviation Competition in Rheims, France.
- August 29, 1909 - Glenn H. Curtiss wins speed tests in Rheims, France, at an average speed of 46.5.
- September 7, 1909 - The U.S. Army's first aerodrome established in College Park, Maryland.
- November 3, 1909 - Dr. William H. Greene in Greene biplane makes a passenger-carrying record at Morris Park, New York, carrying A. Leo Stevens and two others as passengers for short flights.
- November 22, 1909 - The Wright Company becomes incorporated with a capitalization of $1,000,000.
- 1908 - Madame Therese Peltier was the first woman to fly solo in an airplane.
- February 8, 1908 - The U.S. War Department concludes a contract with the Wright Brothers for $25,000 to become the owner of one flying machine.
- March 12, 1908 - Canadian Casey Baldwin makes the first public flight in the United States in Hammondsport, New York. Baldwin's airplane, the "Red Wing", took off from the lake, flew 318 feet on its first flight and was slightly damaged in landing.
- July 4, 1908 - Glenn Curtiss generates news headlines by making the first official public flight of more than one mile at Stony Brook Farm race-track in the "June Bug".
- August 8, 1908 - Wilbur Wright makes his first flight in Europe at Champs d'Auvours, France.
- September 3, 1908 - Orville Wright makes the first demonstration flight for the Army at Fort Myer, Virginia.
- September 9, 1908 - Lt. F. P. Lahm is first Army passenger carried in the "Wright Flyer" during trials at Fort Myer.
- September 17, 1908 - In the final flight at Fort Myer, the "Wright Flyer" crashes, killing Lt. Thomas Selfridge and injuring Orville Wright.
- June 9, 1907 - The first building at any exposition devoted exclusively to aeronautics in the history of the world is dedicated at the Jamestown Exposition (U.S.A.).
- November 13, 1907 - First helicopter flown by Paul Cornu, a French inventor. The flight lasted only 20 seconds and hovered just 1 foot (30 cm) above the ground.
- February 27, 1906 - Prof. Samuel Pierpont Langley, age 72, dies in Aiken, South Carolina.
- May 16, 1907 - Wilbur Wright sails for Europe to complete negotiations for purchases of flying machines by Great Britain, France, Italy, and Germany .
- May 22, 1906 - Patent No. 821,393 issued to the Wright Brothers on a Flying Machine.
- September 12, 1906 - Dane J.C.H. Ellehammer makes a circular, tethered hop of some 140 feet (42 meters) on the island of Lindholm in Denmark.
- September 13, 1906 - Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont makes the first officially recorded aeroplane flight in Europe for 8 seconds.
- December 27, 1906 - Arnold Fordyce, a French emissary, visits the Wright Brothers in Dayton and secures an option to purchase one flying machine for $200,000.
- December 31, 1906 - The Wright Brothers do no flying during this year, but work on developing a new engine having vertical instead of horizontal cylinders.
- January 18, 1905 - The Wright Brothers contact their congressman to inquire if the U.S. Government is interested in their experiments and machine. The reply is a form letter from the President of the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications indicating that the Board is not interested in "financing experiments."
- February 11, 1905 - The British War Office sends a letter to the Wright Brothers asking them to submit terms for purchase of their aeroplane.
- March 18, 1905 - Prof. J. J. Montgomery glides down 2,500 ft. in his glider from a balloon in Leonards, California.
- October 04, 1905 - Flyer III: the Wright Brothers' plane covers 24.2 miles in 38 minutes and 3 seconds.
- October 9, 1905 - At the urging of Octave Chanute, the Wright Brothers again write to the U.S. Government offering their services to the Secretary of War. The reply is another rebuff.
- 1904 - The Wright Brothers build their second machine, but their total flying time during 1904 is only 45 minutes.
- March 1, 1904 - The first scientific accounts of the Wright Brothers' machine and successful flight appear in A.I. Root's magazine, Gleanings in Bee Culture, and in another article by Octave Chanute in Popular Science Monthly.
- August 3, 1904 - Capt. Thomas S. Baldwin accomplishes the first circuit flight in a navigable balloon in Oakland, California.
- September 20, 1904 - The Wright Brothers accomplish the first successful "bank" and complete circular flight in Dayton.
- November - The British Government, through Colonel Capper, visits the Wright Brothers in Dayton and indicates interest in their machine.
- March 23, 1903 - The Wright Brothers apply for patents on their improved glider and flying machine.
- September 25, 1903 - The Wright Brothers arrive in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to prepare for their historical flights.
- December 8, 1903 - Samuel P. Langley s "Aerodrome," piloted by Charles Manley, plunges into the Potomac River on the second launching attempt and is completely wrecked.
- December 14, 1903 - Wilbur and Orville Wright flip a coin to see who will be the first to fly. Wilbur wins the toss however, the flight is unsuccessful.
- December 17, 1903 - The Wright Flyer lifts into the air at 10:35 am. The flight lasted only 12 seconds and covered a distance of just 121 feet (37 m). It is the first powered, manned, heavier-than-air, controlled flight.
- December 18, 1903 - Only three newspapers in the United States mention the Wright Brothers' flight and their accounts are largely imaginative.
- October 4, 1902 - The Wrights modify their 1902 glider by replacing the fixed double rear fin with a rear rudder linked with the wing-warping control to counteract wrap-drag.
- October 5, 1902 - Octave Chanute and his assistant, Augustus M. Herring, arrive at Kitty Hawk to join the Wrights in their gliding experiments.
- October 18, 1902 - In his first letter to the Wrights, Samuel Pierpont Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, inquires about experiments at Kitty Hawk and particularly about their use of “special curved surfaces and the like.”
- July 2, 1900 - The first flight of the Zeppelin, a "rigid" airship that is the first aircraft to use large metal structures.
- October 22, 1900 - The Wright Brothers make their first glider flight.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- May 30, 1899 - Wilbur Wright writes the Smithsonian Institute and affirms his belief that human flight is possible.
- May 6, 1896 - Samuel P. Langley, the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, succeeds in launching the first reasonably large, steam-powered model aircraft on flights of up to three quarters of a mile over the Potomac River.
- August 8, 1896 - Otto Lilienthal dies when a gust of wind throws his glider out of control.
- December 1892 - The Wright brothers open their first bicycle shop.
- October 9, 1890 - Clément Ader flies a steam-powered, bat-winged monoplane, which he names the Eole, a distance of 50 m (160 feet) near Paris. The steam engine is unsuitable for sustained and controlled flight, which require gasoline engines.
- 1884 - Horatio Phillips of England designs a wing with a curved airfoil shape.
- July 4, 1880 - Mary H. Myers becomes the first American woman to pilot her own balloon.
- 1868 - Matthew Boulton obtains a British patent on a design for ailerons as control surfaces.
- September 24, 1852 - A steam engine powers the first airship flown by Henri Giffard.
- July 17, 1850 - The first photograph is taken of a star (Vega).
- April 2, 1845 - The first photograph is taken of the Sun.
- March 23, 1840 - The first photograph is taken of the Moon.
- 1809 - Marie Madeleine Sophie Blanchard, wife of balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard, is killed when her hydrogen balloon catches fire as she watches a fireworks display. She is the first woman to lose her life while flying.
- 1804 - Sir George Cayley builds and flies the world's first successful model glider.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- 1799 - Sir George Cayley invents the concept of the fixed-wing aircraft.
- October 22, 1797 - Andre Jacques Garnerin completes the first manned parachute jump after leaping from a balloon approximately 2,000 feet (600 m) in the air.
- January 07, 1785 - First-ever air crossing of the English Channel. The trip is completed in a hydrogen balloon and takes 2.5 hours.
- January 19, 1784 - Joseph Montgolfier flies aboard his invention for the first time with six other passengers.
- June 4, 1783 - The balloon of the Montgolfier brothers becomes the first unmanned balloon flight. The balloon is propelled by burning a pile of moist wool and old shoes.
- September 19, 1783 - The Montgolfier Brothers successfully attempt the second trial of their hot-air balloon in Paris before King Louis XVI. This flight has passengers aboard: a rooster, a duck, and a sheep.
- November 21, 1783 - Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier construct an hot-air balloon that ascends 84 feet (25 m) into the air with the first human fliers, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent. The balloon stays aloft for almost four minutes.
- December 1, 1783 - Jacques Alexandre Cesar Charles makes the first solo flight in a hot-air balloon. He flies over 36 kilometers at an altitude of 3,500 meters.
- 1709 - Father Bartolomeu de Gusmao demonstrates a model hot air balloon to King John V.
The History of Flight from Around the World
- 1600s - Hezarfen Celebi leaps from a tower at Galata and flies some distance before landing safely in the market place of Scutari.
- 1600s - In the 17th Century, the Royal Society of Great Britain passes out papers dealing with aeronautics to its members. After reading and discussing the papers, members are encouraged to produce new information. Several papers of note are produced by men like Robert Hooke and Sir Christopher Wrenn.
- 1678 - A French locksmith named Besnier tries to fly with wings modeled after the webbed feet of a duck. He is lucky and survives the attempt.
- 1536 - Denis Bolor in France tries to fly using wings flapped by a spring mechanism. He falls to his death when the spring breaks
- 1488-1514 - In Italy, Leonardo de Vinci makes the first design of flying machines, using bird wings for models
- 1300s - Marco Polo witnesses kites carrying humans in China
- 1162 - A man in Constantinople, Turkey, fashions sail-like wings from a fabric gathered into pleats and folds. He plummets from the top of a tower and dies.
- 1010 - Oliver of Malmesbury, a Benedictine monk, was the first man to fly for some distance with the aid of wings. He jumps from Malmesbury Abbey and alights 125 paces before falling and breaking his legs
- 3500 BC - King Etana, Sumerian king, is featured on a coin, flying on an eagle's back
- 2500 BC - Auca, an Inca Founder, is described as "winged and could fly"
- 1000 BC - The Chinese invent kites which carried men to scout troops