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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Industry News

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

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


16 July 2018
Boeing KC-46A Clears Final Flight Tests

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


16 July 2018
SpaceX Plans Nighttime Launch At Cape Canaveral This Sunday

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


13 July 2018
Orbital ATK Cygnus Spacecraft To Depart ISS Sunday Morning

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


13 July 2018
Airbus Demonstrates A310’s Automatic Air-To-Air Refueling Capability

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


12 July 2018
The Future of Hypersonics

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


12 July 2018
Exponential Digital Technologies Are Transforming Aviation

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


11 July 2018
Additive Manufacturing Streamlines Processes for Manufacturers

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


11 July 2018
Aerospace Is Hiring for Now and the Future

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


6 July 2018
NASA Issues RFP For Second Mobile Launch Platform

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


6 July 2018
AeroVironment, JPL To Build NASA’s Mars Helicopter

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


5 July 2018
US Army Plans To Test “Off-The-Shelf” UAVs For FTUAS

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


5 July 2018
Aerojet Rocketdyne Test-Fires AR-22 At Stennis Space Center

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


3 July 2018
US Navy’s $4.2 Billion V-22 Osprey Contract “Provides Program Stability” Through 2024

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


3 July 2018
Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Nears Production

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


2 July 2018
NASA To Submit X-59 Spending Limit To Congress

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


2 July 2018
A3 Plans to Transition Vahana To Horizontal Flight For First Time

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


2 July 2018
NASA To Submit X-59 Spending Limit To Congress

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


28 June 2018
Skunk Works Head Discusses F-35’s Future At AIAA AVIATION Forum

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


28 June 2018
US Army May Contribute Troops To Space Force

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


27 June 2018
DHS Program Seeks To Acquire New UAV Sensor Packages

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


25 June 2018
NASA, SpaceX Plan For Early Friday Launch Of Falcon 9 ISS Mission

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


25 June 2018
US Air Force Plans To Replace UH-1N Huey

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


22 June 2018
NASA Moves To Second Phase Of UAV Detect-And-Avoid Testing

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


22 June 2018
Blue Origin Expects To Sell Suborbital Flight Tickets Next Year

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


21 June 2018
Bell, Airbus Helicopters Interested In Japan’s AH-X Attack Helicopter Contest

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


21 June 2018
China Potentially Preparing To Deorbit Tiangong-2 Lab

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


20 June 2018
Boeing 737 MAX Setting “Industry Record” For Adoption

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


20 June 2018
Bridenstine Affirms Support For New Space Policy Directive

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


19 June 2018
Trump Promises “Space Force,” Takes On Space Debris

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


19 June 2018
Airbus “Studying Options” To Extend Range Of A321

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


19 June 2018
NASA Completes Flight Trials Of Gear And Flap Noise-Reduction Technology

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


18 June 2018
CFM’s Leap Deliveries Overtake CFM56 For First Time

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


18 June 2018
“Record-Breaking” NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Retires

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


15 June 2018
Lawmakers Criticize NASA Cost, Schedule Overruns

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


15 June 2018
Airbus Debuts New A320 Production Line With Increased Automation

AirbusA320Neo_AP_Purchased Reuters reports that Airbus “inaugurated a new production line” for its A320 jet with “robots Luise and Renate joining human workers as it turns to new automation to help it deal with an eight-year order backlog.” Airbus hopes that digital technology “will enable higher production and trigger a significant shift in research and development spending toward high-tech manufacturing.” In an effort to compete with the Boeing 737, Airbus is increasing A320 production from 50 aircraft to 60 aircraft per month. The new final assembly line “in Hamburg, like other lines, has a top rate of 10 aircraft per month, which it will reach by mid-2019.” The new robots will help to “drill over 2,000 holes to join the two halves of the fuselage together, work normally done by humans.” The robots are part of a “new final assembly line” where the aircraft’s fuselage and wings are “transported by automated moving tooling platforms, rather than being lowered by cranes onto fixed jigs, and where dynamic laser tracking is used to perfectly align aircraft parts.” According to Airbus, the new system’s reduction in damage and errors is more valuable than a reduction in time. (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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14 June 2018
Pratt & Whitney Outlines Changes To F-35 Engine Upgrade Path

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


14 June 2018
EU Votes To Exclude Britain From Galileo Satellite Program

Galileo-Program-ESA The Guardian (UK) reports that a majority of European Union (EU) member states have “turned against” the United Kingdom and voted in favor of “pushing forward on the next round of contracts for the £8bn” Galileo satellite program, “despite requests for a delay to allow negotiations over British involvement to progress.” British companies are barred from bidding on the contracts. A report “handed to EU negotiators last month warned that restricting UK involvement would lead to delays of up to three years and an additional cost” of around $1.2 billion. A presentation submitted to member states and made public Wednesday “insisted that the EU’s guiding philosophy was that a country withdrawing from the union could not enjoy the same benefits as a member state.” The vote resulted in a “furious response” from British Science Minister Sam Gyimah, who indicated that Britain is willing to “walk away” from the project and develop a rival system. (Image: Galileo SatNav System. Credit: ESA – P. Carril)
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13 June 2018
Unmanned NASA Aircraft Flies Solo For First Time

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

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

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

Orbital-ATK-Satellite-Servicing-Vehicles Space News reports that Orbital ATK’s SpaceLogistics subsidiary plans to offer customers a “wide range of products and services, beginning with its Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) and progressing to in-orbit spacecraft assembly, repair and cis-lunar transportation.” Orbital ATK Vice President Jim Armor called the MEV a “baby step” toward satellite servicing, and according to SpaceLogistics Vice President of Business Development and Operations Joseph Anderson, the company is maintaining a “keep-it-simple approach” for in-orbit servicing. Anderson said, “Our customers are very risk averse. Taking small incremental steps in risk and technology are what they demand.” SpaceLogistics plans to conduct a “ground demonstration” of its Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services (CIRAS) technology – which focuses on the in-orbit manufacturing and assembly of large space vehicles – this summer. According to Anderson, following the test, “we hope to be awarded a follow-on contract to do an in-orbit demonstration.” Anderson added that the company plans to develop vehicles equipped with “highpower solar electric propulsion systems” which “could transport supplies to cis-lunar orbit or other destinations” as well as a power and propulsion element for the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway. (Image Credit: Orbital ATK)
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11 June 2018
FAA Certification For Cessna Longitude A “Moving Target”

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

Falcon-Heavy-AP Florida Today reported that according to a draft environmental review recently published by Kennedy Space Center (KSC), “SpaceX will undertake a major expansion of its facilities at the space center sometime in the not-too-distant future.” The new proposed Launch and Landing Control Center at Kennedy Space Center would include a “world-class, architecturally distinctive” tower up to 300 feet tall, “a 133,000-square-foot hangar and a rocket garden rising in the heart of Kennedy Space Center.” The expansion would allow the company to “refurbish large numbers of Falcon rocket boosters and nose cones at the operations center down the road from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.” According to SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson, as the company’s “launch cadence and manifest for missions from Florida continues to grow, we are seeking to expand our capabilities and streamline operations to launch, land and re-fly our Falcon family of rockets.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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8 June 2018
FAA Expands UAV No-Fly Zones Over Federal Facilities

No-Drone-Zone-Sign-AP-Purchased Aviation Week reports that the FAA has instituted the “latest in a series of no-drone zones over federal facilities” on June 7 as news “surfaced separately that the Defense Department has ordered its units to stop buying commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) until the Pentagon develops a cybersecurity strategy.” The FAA named 19 US prisons overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and “10 Coast Guard bases and facilities at which drone flights will be prohibited from the ground to 400 ft. above each site, effective June 20.” According to the FAA, operators who violate the restrictions may be subject to civil penalties and criminal charges. Separately, the website sUAS News “published a copy of an apparent Defense Department memorandum that directs the service secretaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under secretaries of defense, combatant commanders, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and other leadership to immediately suspend purchases of commercial UAS.” The memo was dated May 23, and directs leadership to avoid commercial UAV use until the Pentagon “identifies and fields a solution to mitigate known cybersecurity risks.”(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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8 June 2018
Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes First Engine For Boeing “Phantom Express” Spaceplane

Boeing-Phantom-Express-Spaceplane-Boeing Aviation Week reports that the FAA has instituted the “latest in a series of no-drone zones over federal facilities” on June 7 as news “surfaced separately that the Defense Department has ordered its units to stop buying commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) until the Pentagon develops a cybersecurity strategy.” The FAA named 19 US prisons overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and “10 Coast Guard bases and facilities at which drone flights will be prohibited from the ground to 400 ft. above each site, effective June 20.” According to the FAA, operators who violate the restrictions may be subject to civil penalties and criminal charges. Separately, the website sUAS News “published a copy of an apparent Defense Department memorandum that directs the service secretaries, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under secretaries of defense, combatant commanders, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and other leadership to immediately suspend purchases of commercial UAS.” The memo was dated May 23, and directs leadership to avoid commercial UAV use until the Pentagon “identifies and fields a solution to mitigate known cybersecurity risks.”(Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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7 June 2018
White House Aide: Drones Are The Future Of US Aviation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Airbus-H145-Credit-AirbusThe AP reports that a Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three ISS astronauts “landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan.” NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov ended a 168-day mission and will “undergo a longer medical exam and then be flown either to Moscow or Houston.” Americans Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Russian Oleg Artemyev now comprise the crew of the ISS, but another three astronauts are scheduled “to be launched to the space station on Wednesday from the Baikonur complex in Kazakhstan.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 June 2018
Ukraine Signs $643 Million Contract With Airbus Helicopters

Airbus-H145-Credit-Airbus FlightGlobal reported that Airbus Helicopters won a $643 million contract to supply 55 helicopters “to Ukraine’s interior ministry, including a number of second-hand units.” The order will include a mix of “H125 light-singles, H145 medium-twins and H225 heavy-twins,” with the first four aircraft to be delivered this year. According to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, at least 21 of the helicopters will be H225s, and a large portion of them will be pre-owned aircraft. (Image: H145. Credit: Airbus)
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31 May 2018
Video Released Of Successful Virgin Galactic Test Flight

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

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

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

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

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

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

NanoSat-NASA Space News reports that according to a panel at the Space Tech Expo, small satellites have spurred technological advances that have “opened up a wide range of propulsion options for satellites.” Executives for several propulsion startups believe that the “demands for propulsion that can meet mass, volume and power constraints of small satellites were helping drive innovation in this field.” Enpulsion CEO Alexander Resissner, whose company is working on smallsat-sized electric propulsion systems, cited a “reasonably large disruption in the propulsion community,” while Additive Rocket Corporation CEO Andy Kieatiwong believes his company can “squeeze out more thrust and eliminate weight from cold-gas thrusters and monopropellant thrusters to such an extent that we can make them viable for cubesats and small satellites.” Neumann Space Director and Chief Scientist Patrick Neumann announced that his company is “in the process” of moving from a “laboratory prototype to engineering models” of an electric propulsion system that can use solid materials in an arc thruster. (Image Credit: NASA)
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25 May 2018
Jet Engine Demand Fuels Rise In Cobalt Prices

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

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

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

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


23 May 2018
FAA Working On New Supersonic Aircraft Noise Certification

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


18 May 2018
SpaceX Sets Targets For Next Falcon 9 Launches

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


17 May 2018
Airlines Increasingly Turn To Smaller Jets For Transatlantic Flights

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


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

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

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

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

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


15 May 2018
FAA Administrator Speaks At Uber Elevate Summit

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AirbusA320Neo_AP_Purchased Reuters reports that Scandinavian airline SAS “said on Tuesday it will add 50 Airbus A320neo aircraft to bolster its short and medium-haul fleet with deliveries to begin in the first half of next year.” The deal concludes “lengthy talks” between Airbus and the airline. The carrier “said it was buying 35 aircraft and leasing an additional 15 from lessors” at a price of $4 billion before discounts, adding that it has not yet selected an engine supplier. (Image: Airbus A320neo on the runway of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, southwestern France, after successfully completing its first flight, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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10 April 2018
NASA Shares “Dazzling” 4K Video Tour Of Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


27 March 2018
Pratt & Whitney Wins $240 Million US Navy F135 Propulsion System Contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


28 February 2018
US Air Force Resumes Flights Of T-6 Trainers

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


27 February 2018
Forecast Favorable For Atlas V GOES-S Launch Thursday

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


27 February 2018
Japan Receives First F-35A Fighter

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

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


23 February 2018
NASA Conducts “Most Powerful Test Yet” Of SLS’s RS-25 Engine

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


14 February 2018
SpaceX Prepares To Test Broadband Satellite Saturday

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


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

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


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

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


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

NewHorizonsSpacecraft_NASA USA Today hosted a video which reported that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft broke a record by taking the photographs from the farthest distance from Earth to date. The photographs broke the record of the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which beamed back the famous “Pale Blue Dot” photograph. (Image Credit: NASA)
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12 February 2018
SpaceX To Launch From Cape Canaveral “No Sooner” Than February 22

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


8 February 2018
ISS Spacewalk Breaks Cosmonauts’ Record

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


7 February 2018
SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy

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


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

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


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

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


6 February 2018
SpaceX Falcon Heavy Set For Launch Today

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


6 February 2018
AIAA University Of Illinois Student Branch Igniter Featured

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


6 February 2018
Boeing Debuts MAX 7 Jet

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


5 February 2018
Airbus Vahana Autonomous Aircraft Completes First Flight Test

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


5 February 2018
Falcon Heavy Rocket Is Major Gamble For SpaceX

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


2 February 2018
Russia To Offer ISS Spacewalks For Tourists

BruceMcCandless_STS-41-B_NASAThe AFP reports that Russian space company Energia is looking into the possibility of sending “paying tourists on the International Space Station out on spacewalks for the first time, an official from the country’s space industry said Thursday.” The plan will “rely on a new module that could transport up to six tourists to the orbiting space station for a 10-day trip,” which officials estimate could cost as much as $100 million. Russian space agency Roscosmos is reviewing plans for a “five-star hotel” aboard the ISS which would feature a “luxury orbital suite” of four cabins including exercise equipment, Wi-Fi, and scenic views of Earth. Energia head Vladimir Solntsev said that the service “should be launched in 2019,” and added that The Boeing Company is interested in partnering on the project. (Image Credit: NASA via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (AFP)


1 February 2018
US Air Force Predator Crash Attributed To Crew Error, Datalink Failure

Aurora_VTOLThe Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that Joby Aviation “needs to hire 100 more engineers” to help design and build a new air taxi, in what founder JoeBen Bevirt calls “the next generation of transportation.” Bevirt was “among 2,000 innovators presenting at the 2016 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics exposition, according to the Joby Aviation website, but little news has been posted since then.” A 42-second video “illustrates how the craft is supposed to work, but there are no photos or videos of an actual aircraft in flight.” Bevirt hopes that his air taxis would fly passengers from Palo Alto to San Francisco in nine minutes, and for less than the price of an uberX ride, currently priced at $59. Bevirt “said he needs software engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, aerospace engineers and people good at building component parts.” (Image: Joby Aviation staff. Credit: Joby Aviation)
More Info (Santa Cruz Sentinel)


31 January 2018
US Air Force Predator Crash Attributed To Crew Error, Datalink Failure

MQ-9Reaper Air Force Times reports that a US Air Force MQ-1B Predator UAV that “crashed in US Central Command’s area of operations” in February 2016 did so “due to a datalink failure and a distracted crew, according to a report released this month.” After experiencing datalink problems, “launch and recovery crew lost control of the aircraft before it crashed roughly 10 miles south of its deployed base.” The UAV was “conducting a combat support mission, according to the report by an Air Force Abbreviated Accident Investigation Board.” (Image: MQ-9_Reaper. Credit: Wikipedia/U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)
More Info (Air Force Times)


31 January 2018
SpaceX Delays GovSat-1 Launch Due To Booster Sensor

SpaceX_Falcon9_onLaunchPad_Wiki SPACE reports that SpaceX called off a planned launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Orbital ATK-built GovSat-1 satellite Tuesday “to allow engineers time to swap out a sensor on the booster, company representatives said.” The launch will take place no earlier than Wednesday, according to SpaceX representatives. (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


30 January 2018
US Air Force Releases RFI For SUAS

Miniature-UAV-Wiki.png Shephard Media reports that the US Air Force has released a request for information (RFI) for industry proposals for a “fixed-wing small UAS (SUAS) of less than 1.3kg (3lb).” The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) “has a requirement to assess SUAS aerial land survey mission capability.” (Image Credit: KrisfromGermany, Wikipedia)
More Info (Shephard Media)


29 January 2018
Musk: SpaceX Aiming For Falcon Heavy Launch February 6

Falcon-Heavy-ArtistsRendition-SpaceXThe Los Angeles Times reports that SpaceX hopes to conduct its “long-awaited” demonstration launch of the Falcon Heavy on February 6, according to a tweet sent Saturday by CEO and founder Elon Musk. (Image Credit: SpaceX)
More Info (Los Angeles Times)


29 January 2018
Fully-Autonomous Avionics Systems Anticipated

Tom-Irvine-AIAAIn an article about autonomous aircraft, Canadian Underwriter reported that AIAA Managing Director, Content Development Tom Irvine anticipates that future avionics systems will be powered by artificial intelligence software, and eventually will be able to fully and independently respond to any incidents or scenarios encountered in flight. (Image Credit: AIAA)
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26 January 2018
Air Force Going Forward With Plans To Re-Wing A-10s

A10s-USAF-Wiki National Defense Magazine reports that the US Air Force is moving forward with plans to “re-wing several squadrons of A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, and intends to maintain the platforms through the 2030s, the commander of Air Combat Command said Jan. 25.” Gen. James “Mike” Holmes said during remarks at the Brookings Institution that funds are available in the current budget to allow the Air Force to reopen a wing contract with The Boeing Company. The service’s fiscal year 2018 budget request “kept funding in place for the A-10, also known as the Warthog, for the next three years. An unfunded priorities list that was later submitted to Congress included $103 million to buy new wings for 110 of the 283 aircraft in the fleet.” (Image Credit: USAF, Wikimedia Commons)
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26 January 2018
Air Force Reaffirms Confidence In SpaceX For Military Launch Operations

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Aero-News Network reports that the US Air Force “has no reason to change its certification” of SpaceX to conduct launch operations for the military. The show of confidence comes despite the loss of the Zuma spacecraft earlier this month. Lieutenant General John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a statement, “Based on the data available, our team did not identify any information that would change SpaceX’s Falcon 9 certification status.” Thompson added that the Falcon 9 rocket appears to have operated normally during the launch, and he stressed that “the Air Force will continue to evaluate data from all launches.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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25 January 2018
Gulfstream G650 Sales Jump To Second-Highest Level In A Decade

GulfstreamG650-Wiki Bloomberg News reports that General Dynamics “surged after orders of its Gulfstream G650 rose to the second-highest level since sales of the longest-range business jet began about a decade ago.” Company CEO Phebe Novakovic said, “So we had a nice increase in large cabin orders led by the 650 and the 650ER. ... As we speak, there are over 280 of these aircraft in service with many early customers returning to buy another.” (Image Credit: By dxme from Schweiz - Swiss Jet AG Gulfstream GVI (G650), Wikipedia)
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25 January 2018
DOT Secretary Chao Says National UAV Registry Has “Surpassed” A Million Users

Engineer-Flies-Phantom3-AP NextGov reports that in a recent address to Consumer Electronics Show attendees in Las Vegas, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that the FAA’s Federal UAV Registration program has “surpassed” one million recreational and commercial users. Chao said 878,000 hobbyists registered with the online registry, and 122,000 registrations have been completed for commercial, public, and other UAVs that must be registered individually. Chao said the “tremendous” growth in registration underscores that UAVs are “more than tools for commerce and trade, but can save lives, detect hazardous situations and assist with disaster recovery.” (Image: An engineer flies a DJI Phantom 3 drone. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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24 January 2018
Boeing Completes Flight Tests With Rolls-Royce Engines

Dreamliner-Boeing-2 Reuters reports that a Boeing executive said Tuesday that the jet manufacturer has completed flight tests of its newly certified 787-10 Dreamliner with Rolls-Royce engines. Planes equipped with the Rolls-Royce engines are scheduled to be delivered to Singapore Airlines in the first half of the year and “will be used on mid-length routes in the Asia Pacific region.” Boeing has yet to complete flight tests on aircraft equipped with GE engines, which are expected to be delivered to United Airlines in the second half of the year. (Image: Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Credit: Boeing)
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24 January 2018
New York State Police Add UAVs To Their Arsenal

DJIS800_AlexanderGlinz_via_WikimediaCommonsThe Middletown Times Herald-Record reports that the New York State Police have bought 18 UAVs and plan to use them to help take pictures of crime scenes and crashes, and to assist in search and disaster responses. Two of the UAVs were bought with agency money, and the rest were purchased using money donated by the New York State Trooper Foundation. (Image Credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons)
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23 January 2018
Parker Solar Probe Will Fly Closer To Sun Than Any Other Spacecraft

ParkerSolarProbe-NASAThe Washington Post reports that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will launch this summer “on a journey that will send it skimming through the sun’s atmosphere at a pace of 450,000 mph – fast enough to get from Washington to New York in about a second.” The probe will fly within four million miles of the sun’s surface and “withstand blasts of 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit – while simultaneously maintaining the instruments on the other side at roughly room temperature.” Employees at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which built the Parker Solar Probe, last week “began one of the probe’s most significant trials yet: thermal vacuum testing.” Once the probe is on its way, it will investigate the acceleration of the solar wind and “two related mysteries: Why is the sun’s atmosphere hotter than its surface? And how do high-energy particles get sped out of the corona and into space?” (Image Credit: NASA)
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23 January 2018
Government Silent On Investigation Into Loss Of Zuma Satellite

zuma-aeroAmericaAIAA’s Aerospace America reports that the fate of the confidential US satellite Zuma has “prompted unanswered questions over how the government will investigate the mission and prevent similar losses of taxpayer investment.” The Defense Department has declined to comment or confirm who will investigate what happened to the spy satellite. It is likely that the “mission was expensive, given the cost of a national security satellite during the past decade has typically ranged from $900 million to $3 billion each.” In a January 11 press conference, Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White “deflected all inquiries about the confidential mission to SpaceX, which says the launch operations went as planned.” (Image Credit: Aerospace America)
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22 January 2018
SpaceX Test Fire Of Falcon Heavy Rocket Delayed Due To Government Shutdown

LaunchPad39A-ModifiedForSpaceX_NASA Florida Today reports that SpaceX will be unable to test fire its three-core Falcon Heavy at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) because of the government shutdown, “further delaying checkout operations ahead of the rocket’s demonstration flight, the 45th Space Wing said Sunday.” Launch operations at KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are on hold until the shutdown is resolved, the Wing said. (Image Credit: NASA)
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22 January 2018
Colorado Police Using UAVs In Crash Investigations

DJIPhantom_AP_PurchasedThe Denver Post reports that Fort Collins, Colorado, police started using UAVs in 2017 to “investigate serious and fatal crashes for the first time.” Police relied on the technology “seven times during the course of crash investigations last year.” The UAVs “help police snap photos faster and open roads sooner, according to members of Fort Collins police CRASH team, which responds to serious crashes.” With the use of UAVs, police “continue to mark evidence with tents but can expedite the process by snapping overhead photos and then calculating measurements after the scene has reopened.” CRASH team member Officer Tim Brennan explained that the technology is “not the end-all be-all,” because there are “limitations where you can fly.” Despite the limitations, Fort Collins police “anticipate that other agencies in the county will begin using drones more regularly in their own crash investigations because they act as a helpful tool in collecting more evidence.” (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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19 January 2018
Norwegian 787 Sets Transatlantic Speed Record

NorweiganAir-787-WikiThe Daily Mail reports that a Norwegian Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner broke the record for the fastest ever transatlantic flight in a subsonic passenger aircraft, flying from JFK to London Gatwick on Monday in just over five hours. The plane “was able to reach a top speed of 776mph as it hurtled across the Atlantic Ocean after being pushed by an extra strong jet stream that at times reached 202mph.” (Image Credit: Norwegian/Wikimedia Commons)
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18 January 2018
Emirates Signs Tentative Agreement For 36 Airbus A380s

Airbus380-WikipediaCommons FlightGlobal reports that Emirates has signed a tentative preliminary agreement for up to 36 more Airbus A380s. The agreement – valued at $16 billion – “covers 20 potentially firm aircraft and options on another 16,” and deliveries “would commence in 2020.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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18 January 2018
Boeing Patents Cyberattack Simulation Pilot Training Software

Boeing737MaxThe Puget Sound Business Journal reports that The Boeing Company has patented new systems and methods “to simulate cyberattacks on airplanes,” and said that real attacks “may be a problem” for pilots, who should be trained to spot and address such threats. Boeing said in its patent application that because the amount of digital information “required to operate and maintain an aircraft is steadily increasing, the importance of protecting aircraft systems from cyberattacks is also increasing.” Boeing added that “pilot reaction to a cyberattack is important.” The company said that currently there is no way to simulate a cyberattack on an aircraft or to evaluate how a pilot might respond to attacks on one or multiple aircraft computer systems. The Boeing system also may generate cyberdefenses and draw upon known data about cyberattacks, as well as the pilots’ responses to “generate and create pilot training modules, Boeing said in its patent filing.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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17 January 2018
ULA Atlas V To Launch From Cape Canaveral Thursday Night

ULA-AtlasV-Set-for-Launch-NASAThe Orlando Sentinel reports that a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Altas V rocket is expected to launch from Cape Canaveral Thursday evening carrying a “missile-detection satellite for the” US Air Force. The rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41 with a “payload of the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4” satellite, which is “designed to act as a missile-warning system and provide technical intelligence.” The Air Force’s 45th Space Wing estimated an 80 percent chance of favorable launch conditions. If the launch is delayed for 24 hours, there still will be an 80 percent chance of favorable weather. This will be the first ULA flight from Cape Canaveral this year, and the 75th overall. ULA “launched a Delta IV last week from California.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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17 January 2018
US Navy Tests IFF Technology On P-8 Poseidon

P-8A-Poseidon-USN ExecutiveGov reports that the US Navy has “tested a Boeing-built P-8 Poseidon aircraft equipped with an identification friend or foe technology at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station’s anechoic chamber.” The test was carried out as part of an “AIMS certification process for the AN/UPX-43 IFF interrogator” that classifies “surrounding vehicles and vessels as either allied or enemy forces, the Navy said Jan. 8.” The Pentagon established the AIMS certification to “ensure the performance quality of IFF systems for military use.” The Navy “estimated that performing tests inside the chamber cost nearly $800,000 and generated 15 hours of data over 3.5 weeks, while performing tests inflight would cost $5.31 million and generate only 3.6 hours of data over a 12-week period.” (Image Credit: U.S. Navy/Greg L. Davis)
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16 January 2018
DARPA Completes Second Phase Of UAV Swarming Demonstration

UAVSwarm FlightGlobal reported that DARPA has completed the “second phase of its collaborative control technology for unmanned air systems demonstration, the next step in an effort to orchestrate swarms of legacy UAS with the hand of a single human operator.” Lockheed Martin and Raytheon “collaborated with six smaller companies” on the second phase demonstration for Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE), and operated “RQ-23 Tigersharks modified with CODE hardware and open architecture software.” Raytheon will complete development for “CODE software in phase 3 testing, which will add more UAS to the demonstration and increase the complexity of autonomous behaviors, according to Jean-Charles Ledé, CODE programme manager.” (Image Credit: Alex Kushleyev, Daniel Mellinger, Vijay Kumar, KMel Robotics, and the GRASP Lab, University of Pennsylvania)
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16 January 2018
Airbus May Cease Production Of A380

Airbus380-WikipediaCommonsThe AP reports that Airbus may stop manufacturing its A380 superjumbo jet due to declining demand in the marketplace. Airbus COO John Leahy told journalists Monday that if Airbus “can’t work out a deal with Emirates, I think there is no choice but to shut down the program.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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12 January 2018
Pentagon Declines To Comment On Fate of Zuma Satellite

SpaceX-CRS-11-launch-NASAThe Wall Street Journal reports that the Pentagon declined to discuss the fate of its secret Zuma satellite during a Thursday briefing. Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White repeatedly referred reporters to SpaceX, which launched the satellite aboard one of its Falcon 9 rockets. (Image: SpaceX launch of the CRS-11 mission. Credit: NASA/Tony Gray)
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11 January 2018
Oxford Study Predicts “Robust Expansion” In Aerospace Industry

Boeing737Max FlightGlobal reports that an Oxford Economics study predicts “multiple years of robust expansion” in the aerospace industry “until the end of the decade.” US suppliers are expected to lead a period of “steep” growth based on data including “order backlogs, production ramp-up plans by Airbus and Boeing, low fuel costs, and ‘continued passenger growth [and] strong ongoing momentum in world trade, with a knock-on boost to air freight.’” The US aerospace industry is “projected to grow 2.9% this year, and 3.4% in 2019 and 2020.” The UK industry is estimated to have grown by 9.2 percent in 2017, “the fastest growing aerospace market among the G7 countries.” The study also “foresees growth across the eurozone accelerating to 3.4% in both this year and in 2019, and to 3.5% in 2020.” Brazil and Russia also are expected “to see a turnaround in their fortunes.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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10 January 2018
Airbus To Expand Aircraft Assembly In China

Airbus380-WikipediaCommons Reuters reports that Airbus plans to “boost the number of planes it assembles in China under a deal signed in Beijing on Tuesday to expand co-operation” at its Tianjin plant. A Beijing signing ceremony “did not however include any deal for Airbus to sell aircraft to China, despite earlier expectations of a contract timed to coincide with” French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit. (Image Credit: Juergen Lehle/Wikimedia Commons)
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10 January 2018
Details Remain Cloudy As Media Focuses On Apparent Failure Of Zuma Mission

SpaceX-CRS-11-launch-NASA Reuters reports that in response to the assumed loss of the secret Zuma satellite following its launch Sunday night, SpaceX “defended” the performance of its Falcon 9 rocket. In a statement the company declared that “after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.” The AP reports that SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the rocket “did everything correctly,” and that suggestions otherwise are “categorically false.” (Image: SpaceX launch of the CRS-11 mission. Credit: NASA/Tony Gray)
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9 January 2018
Chinese Engineer: Tiangong-1 Space Station “Not Out of Control”

ChineseSpaceStation-Wiki Reuters reported that the Chinese Tiangong-1 space station is “not out of control and does not pose a safety threat, a top Chinese spaceflight engineer said on Monday.” Zhu Congpeng of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation “told the state-backed Science and Technology Daily” newspaper, “We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year” into a “designated area of the sea.” Re-entry originally was delayed in September 2017 in order to “ensure that the wreckage would fall into an area of the South Pacific ocean where debris from Russian and U.S. space stations had previously landed, the paper said.” (Image Credit: Penyulap/Wikimedia Commons)
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9 January 2018
Lockheed Martin SR-72 May Be Further Along In Development Than Thought

SR-72-LMC Jalopnik reports on Lockheed Martin Vice President of Strategy and Customer Requirements, Advanced Development Programs Jack O’Banion’s comments at the AIAA SciTech Forum, where the executive “may have just unintentionally revealed that America’s next hypersonic warplane is much farther along the development process than previously suggested.” Speaking about how Lockheed has adapted to digital disruption, O’Banion “brought up the so-called SR-72, which so far is only known as a conceptual hypersonic aircraft.” Against a backdrop of three aircraft, including the SR-72, O’Banion commented, “Without the digital transformation, the aircraft you see there could not have been made. In fact, five years ago, it could not have been made.” The article links to a livestream of the SciTech Forum, and O’Banion’s comments start after the 59 minute mark. The comments “all but confirmed” the SR-72 “to be well clear of the conceptual and modeling phases of development, and possibly operational.” (Image: SR-72 as envisioned in 2013. Credit: USAF/Wikipedia)
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8 January 2018
Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser Passes “Key Milestone”

DreamChaser_NASA SPACE reported that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced on January 5 that NASA confirmed that the company’s Dream Chaser space plane successfully passed a key milestone during its November free flight test. In a statement, SNC “said that NASA cdoncluded that the Nov. 11 free flight of the Dream Chaser engineering test article, at Edwards Air Force Base in California, met or exceeded all the requirements of the company’s last remaining funded milestone in its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) award from 2012.” SNC is “focused” on developing a cargo transport version of Dream Chaser that will service the ISS “under a Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract awarded to SNC in January 2016.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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8 January 2018
Chinese Space Lab Potential “PR Embarrassment”

ChineseSpaceStation-Wiki CNN reported on the Chinese Tiangong-1 space station, which is “out of control and expected to crash-land on Earth by the end of March.” Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said that the Chinese “have a PR embarrassment on their hands.” While the “actual danger” of the space station causing any damage to humans or property “is small,” McDowell said, “it is accepted international best practice nowadays that objects that big shouldn’t be able to fall out of the sky in this manner.” If wreckage from Tiangong-1 falls on land, “it could potentially provide some insight into China’s space program.” Space law expert Michael Listner said, “It would be an opportunity for Western analysts to look at remnants of China space hardware,” which would be a “risk for the Chinese.” (Image Credit: Penyulap/Wikimedia Commons)
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5 January 2018
Weather Delays SpaceX Zuma Launch To Sunday

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Florida Today reports that SpaceX is targeting “this weekend for a secretive Falcon 9 mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,” with the launch scheduled for “no earlier” than 8 p.m. Sunday. In a statement on Twitter, SpaceX said, “Extreme weather slowed operations but Falcon 9 and the Zuma spacecraft are healthy and go for launch.” The Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron “said Sunday’s attempt will see 90 percent ‘go’ conditions,” despite a low of 36 degrees and a high of 60 degrees at Cape Canaveral Sunday. (Image Credit: NASA)
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5 January 2018
MU Researchers Use UAVs To Assist In Various Agricultural Tasks

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_APThe Bolivar Herald-Free Press reports that University of Missouri (MU) Extension researchers are using UAVs specially manufactured for agricultural use to scout fields, evaluate cover crop effectiveness and “capture plant infrared wavelength readings to find nitrogen deficiencies in crops.” MU Extension natural resources engineer Kent Shannon presented the UAV during the college’s annual Crop Management Conference on December 18 and 19. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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4 January 2018
New National Security Strategy Makes Space A Priority

Earth-and-NASA-Satellite The Hill reports that the Trump Administration’s National Security Strategy (NSS) “prioritizes U.S. leadership in military, commercial, and scientific components of space.” In contrast to previous strategies, the new NSS takes a “hardline approach” to national security as well as to Russia and China, “who have been increasingly bold and occasionally aggressive space players in recent years.” The NSS “accentuates the administration’s intention to brand the domestic economy a key component of its U.S. national security strategy,” and seeks to “promote space commerce through regulatory reform.” NASA and the Defense Department are “well suited to facilitate” public-private partnerships, which “have the potential to attain both scientific and commercial goals in space.” By distributing cost “across multiple entities, the U.S. could achieve grander goals more quickly and cost-effectively.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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4 January 2018
Boeing: Southwest Airlines Order Has “No Impact” On 737 Max Strategy

Boeing737Max CNBC reports on Southwest Airlines’ decision to exercise options for “40 Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes worth $4.5 billion at list prices” and defer deliveries for smaller Max 7 aircraft until “at least 2023.” Boeing said that “there is no impact to the Max program” from Southwest’s decision, “and noted that the airline still plans to take delivery of seven of the smaller 737 planes next year.” Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said that both the models “still fit in with our fleet plan.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
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3 January 2018
Launch Of SpaceX Zuma Mission Moved To Friday

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Florida Today reports that the launch of the US government’s “classified Zuma mission from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station” aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has been delayed until Friday evening. The launch “had been planned Thursday evening,” but is now targeted for liftoff at 8 p.m. Friday. No reason was given for the delay. (Image Credit: NASA)
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3 January 2018
ATC Privatization Debate Expected To Intensify During First Quarter Of 2018

ATC-at-Dulles Aviation International News reports that the March 31 deadline to reauthorize the FAA “sets the stage for an intense period of lobbying – on both sides of the ATC issue – in the first quarter of 2018 as lawmakers seek to come to a resolution on whether to create an independent, user-funded ATC organization.” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) is expected to “make a formidable push for the ATC proposal this year,” but “many speculate that if unsuccessful this year, the issue may be shelved, at least for the time being.” (Image: Dulles Airport ATC. Credit: AIAA)
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2 January 2018
NASA Ranked Top Agency By Federal Employees For Sixth Straight Year

NASA-Employees-and-Atlantis-2Nov2012-AP-PurchasedThe Washington Times reports that “for the sixth straight year,” NASA “was the top large agency” in the Office of Personnel Management’s annual survey of hundreds of thousands of federal employees. HHS and the Transportation Department also scored highly. DHS “continued its run at the bottom, ranked yet again as the worst large agency – though even it saw a huge improvement, leaping 6 points in President Trump’s first year in office.” (Image: NASA employees including astronauts that flew on space shuttle Atlantis pose for a photo at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Friday, 2 Nov. 2012, in Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Associated Press-©)
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2 January 2018


Weather “Excellent” For SpaceX Zuma Launch From Cape Canaveral Thursday

SpaceXLaunchFacility-KSC-NASA Florida Today reports that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is expected to “kick off this year’s Eastern Range launch manifest with a secretive Thursday mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.” According to the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, conditions are expected to be 90 percent favorable “during a launch window that opens at 8 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m., according to a statement released on Monday.” The Zuma mission, “a government payload handled by Northrop Grumman, was delayed from November due to issues with the Falcon 9 rocket’s protective nose cone.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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