Thursday, October 11, 2018

Pallas Aviation becomes first LM-100J aircraft operator

Lockheed Martin introduced Pallas Aviation as the first LM-100J commercial freighter operator on Thursday. The LM-100J is a production variant of the proven C-130J Super Hercules, which is the military airlifter of choice for 18 nations around the world.
Pallas Aviation will provide management services and operational control of two LM-100J aircraft requiring heavy-lift/oversized cargo capability into and out of unconventional airports and remote locations for a specific set of clients in multiple industries. Pallas will operate its LM 100Js out of Fort Worth Alliance Airport in Texas.
In conjunction with this announcement, an LM-100J aircraft will be on static display at the Alliance Air Show in Fort Worth on Saturday and Sunday.
Lockheed Martin introduced the LM-100J freighter in 2014 as an updated version of the L-100 legacy Hercules commercial variant. Lockheed Martin delivered more than 100 L-100s to private and government operators from 1964-1992.
Two LM-100Js are currently flying in support of FAA type certificate update testing.

Space station crew lands safely after Soyuz rocket malfunction during launch

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station on Thursday. Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft.
The crew who were aboard, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, are in good condition. After landing, the crew was transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, outside Moscow.
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA), a partner in the International Space Station program, is monitoring the situation. “Safety of the crew is the utmost priority for all space agencies,” CSA said in a statement following the launch abort. “A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. It is not known whether this will affect Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques' launch date of Dec. 20, 2018.”

Monday, October 8, 2018

First 787-9 Dreamliner for Air Tahiti Nui

The Boeing Company, Air Lease Corp. (ALC) and Air Tahiti Nui celebrated the delivery of the airline's first 787-9 Dreamliner, via lease from ALC. This is the first Boeing airplane to join the Tahitian airline, which plans to use the longest-range Dreamliner to replace aging A340s and connect its home base in the South Pacific with world capitals such as Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

The airplane can fly up to 7,635 nautical miles (14,140 kilometers), while reducing fuel use and emissions by 20 to 25 percent compared to older airplanes.

Air Tahiti Nui configured its new Dreamliner to seat 294 passengers in three classes. The cabin features a new business class equipped with 30 full lie-flat seats, along with 32 premium economy seats.

The airline announced in 2015 it would lease two 787s through ALC and purchase two 787s directly from Boeing as part of its plan to upgrade its fleet for the future.

Jamul Casino hires new management to support rebranding and relaunch

The Jamul Indian Village Development Corp. (JIVDC), an entity owned by Jamul Indian Village of California, announced Monday that Jamul Casino has made numerous key hires as part of its rebranding and relaunch.  Approximately 20 miles east of downtown San Diego, Jamul Casino rebranded in May, and celebrated a relaunch in August. Completing its transition, JIVDC has welcomed several key managers to the Jamul Casino team.

Jamul Casino hired new President and General Manager, Mary Cheeks, to lead the transition. Cheeks has 30 years of experience in casino management and casino finance. One of her career highlights includes her pivotal role in transforming Harrah's Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., into a resort that became one of the most profitable gaming establishments in Atlantic City. Prior to joining the Jamul Casino team, she was General Manager for Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady, N.Y., one of four new casino licenses outside of Tribal Gaming and Racinos.
Cheeks has recruited a world-class management team at Jamul Casino consisting of:
  • Allison Owen, Vice President of Human Resources
  • Josh Ford, Vice President of Business Intelligence
  • Raman Natarajan, Vice President of Food & Beverage
  • Scott Bauer, Vice President of Marketing
  • Tony Ventura, Vice President of Gaming Operations
  • Cathy Behnen, Chief Financial Officer
As part of its relaunch, Jamul Casino has developed a new logo and identity focused on being friendly, fun, and true to its roots. The word "Jamul" means "Sweetwater."
The official relaunch of the newly renamed Jamul Casino was marked with a block party celebration on Aug. 4. The event drew over 12,000 guests and produced some of the highest activity ever on the gaming floor and in its seven restaurants. The gaming floor has 1,700 slots with everything from penny slots all the way up to $100 slot machines, and 40 table games with over a dozen different types of live games.
The $460 million casino had been managed and operated by a Penn National subsidiary since its opening on October 10, 2016. JIVDC announced in May they would terminate that management agreement. JIVDC stated that the termination of the casino’s current management company agreement with Penn National is a natural next step toward economic self-sufficiency for the Jamul Indian Village.
California's San Diego County has an extremely active gaming community, home to nine casinos. According to the National Indian Gaming Commission, tribal casinos generated nearly $9 billion in revenue in California and Northern Nevada (which doesn't include Las Vegas) in fiscal year 2017, which is a 7.3 percent increase in revenue over the previous year.

SSL selected to compete for Department of Defense small spacecraft contracts

SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, has been selected as one of three companies qualified to compete for Department of Defense business under a contract called Small Spacecraft Prototyping Engineering Development and Integration – Space Solutions (SSPEDI). NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley manages the contract under an interagency agreement with the Department of Defense's Space Rapid Capabilities Office.

SSPEDI establishes a rapid and flexible method for the Department of Defense's Space Rapid Capabilities Office to acquire commercially-developed solutions for small to medium spacecraft and related systems from a pool of pre-qualified candidates. As one of the awardees, SSL is eligible to compete for multiple future awards over the five-year ordering period of the contract, up to a cumulative value of $750 million. To supercharge its offerings, SSL is harnessing the collective power of Maxar Technologies, and will closely partner with Maxar's geospatial insights company, Radiant Solutions. Radiant will study next-generation systems for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance and contribute its world-class mission engineering expertise to the company's solutions.
SSPEDI is one of many successes over the last year. Other recent progress and achievements that demonstrate momentum in the US government market include:
  • Expanding the scope of work on the NASA asteroid exploration mission Psyche, on track for its scheduled launch in 2022;
  • Reaching a major milestone in building the spacecraft bus and robotic arms for the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program, developed through a public-private partnership with DARPA;
  • Progressing on schedule for both the spacecraft bus and robotic arms for NASA's Restore-L project to provide satellite servicing in Low Earth Orbit;
  • Contracting with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to design and build critical equipment for a spacecraft that will explore Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter.
The company also continues to work across the U.S. Department of Defense, civil, and commercial space communities on several leading-edge programs and studies that aim to help U.S. government agencies define next-generation space technologies:

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Delta's first A220 scheduled to begin service in early 2019

Delta Air Lines' first Airbus A220-100 took off on its first flight from Mirabel airport, Québec. The aircraft was crewed by A220 program test pilots. During the three-hour flight, the crew checked the aircraft's main systems and landed back in Mirabel.

The flight took place a few days after the aircraft rolled out of the paint shop. Next, the aircraft will continue with pre-delivery testing and assembly, as elements of its interior come together at the A220 assembly line. Delta's first A220 is scheduled to begin service in early 2019.
Delta Air Lines will be the first U.S. airline to operate the A220 – at the same time becoming the fourth A220 operator, after Swiss International Air Lines, airBaltic, and Korean Air. Delta is the largest A220-100 customer, with a firm order for 75 aircraft.
The A220-100 delivers unbeatable fuel efficiency.  It brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney's latest-generation PW1500G geared turbofan engines to offer at least 20 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft.
With an order book of over 400 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion's share of the 100- to 150-seat aircraft market, estimated to represent at least 7,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Video: Emergency medical supply deliveries using drones

Direct Relief, Merck, AT&T, Softbox and Volans-i this week are piloting a test of emergency medical supply deliveries using drones to model an innovative approach to disaster response.

The organizations are testing drone flights and the coordinated processes needed to provide medical supplies by drone in a temperature-controlled environment with real-time monitoring. The long-distance deliveries must comply with U.S. and Puerto Rico laws and regulations for prescription drug delivery, including a documented chain of custody; Federal Aviation Administration approval for flight plans; and, for some products, must be consistently refrigerated to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the medicines.

The technology of the smart boxes allows for temperature-control when delivering products such as some of Merck's vaccines. The non-refrigerated cargo can carry medications for asthma and hypertension for instance.

Researchers estimate that most deaths from Hurricane Maria in September 2017, were caused by loss of access to medicines and health care, not by wind or water. As people were displaced from their homes, health centers lost power for weeks, and travel was extremely difficult. This likely contributed to an increase in deaths from chronic diseases that can be managed under normal conditions.

This week tests were conducted with drones flying in challenging terrain in remote areas impacted during Maria, beyond the line of sight. The drone deliveries extend to remote mountain villages that were cut off from electricity and road access for months after Hurricane Maria, some of them for a time accessible only by helicopter.
In upcoming tests, drones will fly over sea to deliver medicines and vaccines.

In this pilot program, each organization has brought something unique to the table to innovate the way medicines are delivered to people who need them:
  • Direct Relief is coordinating the effort, testing how such systems can be deployed in an emergency, and secured the participation of health centers in Puerto Rico.
  • Merck conceived of the project and is funding the tests and donating medications for delivery, using its Las Piedras facility as the departure point.
  • Softbox makes the small temperature controlled packaging system for transporting cold chain medications - those requiring constant refrigeration.
  • AT&T's Internet of Things technology is being used to monitor the temperature and location of Softbox's cold chain boxes.
  • Volans-i is providing the long-range delivery drones and is controlling the flights.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Technical glitch at Uber overpays drivers at Dulles Airport

A technical issue that went on for three months caused the transport company Uber to pay it's drivers an additional $4 for every trip starting and ending at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

“We recently discovered a technical issue that impacted trips to and from Dulles International Airport (IAD) from Saturday, May 5 through Friday, July 27,” the company said in an email to drivers on Monday. “During this time, driver-partners received an additional $4 for every trip starting or ending at IAD. This was an oversight on our end, but the additional payments are yours to keep. No further action is required on your part.

“The issue has been resolved and moving forward you will no longer receive the additional $4 payment."

Monday, July 9, 2018

Department of Energy replacing atmospheric research aircraft

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program is in the process of replacing its existing aircraft, and will be purchasing a replacement, used aircraft for atmospheric research. One of the following aircraft types (short list) is planned to be purchased, and therefore engineering modification will required on one of the following types:

Aircraft types: (only one aircraft will be purchased from this list)
Bombardier Dash 8 Q300
ATR 42-500/600
Bombardier CRJ 200
Bombardier Challenger 800/850
The purchased aircraft will need modifications to convert it into an aircraft that will be able to be fitted with instrumentation used for atmospheric research.
All original passenger seats (unless they have four or five point harnesses installed) shall be removed from the cabin. All overhead bins shall be removed except for the four bin spaces in the aft most section and the two bins in the forward most section of the aircraft. Quick connections for oxygen masks shall be installed. The cabin shall have a minimum of five and maximum of seven seats installed.
An atmospheric research aircraft rarely operates at designed cruising altitude and speed. The aircraft will routinely operate at altitudes between 1,000 feet to 5,000 ft above ground level. The aircraft will nominally operate at indicated air speeds of 180-190 knots with engines at 50 percent power. Ambient temperatures at these altitudes can often exceed 90 Fahrenheit.
The contractor shall design and install a cooling system that can keep the cabin temperature at or below 75F. The occupancy of the aircraft is a total of two pilots and seven operators. This requirement is both on the ground during taxi and in the air.

Pillsbury and Hungry Jack brands sold to private equity firm

Private equity firm Brynwood Partners of Greenwich, Conn., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a portfolio of brands from The J.M. Smucker Company for $375 million. The portfolio includes the exclusive U.S. rights to the iconic Pillsbury brand's shelf-stable baking products along with the Hungry Jack, White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White brands. The Pillsbury brand license agreement is a royalty-free, perpetual agreement with General Mills, Inc. and encompasses all U.S. shelf-stable baking products, including flour, dry baking mixes and ready-to-spread frosting, in the retail channel. The transaction includes the 650,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Toledo, Ohio, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018, subject to customary U.S. regulatory review.

Brynwood Partners created the Hometown Food Company to acquire the assets from Smucker. Hometown will be headquartered in Chicago, Ill., and will operate the Toledo facility. Pillsbury and Hungry Jack are leading national brands in the shelf-stable baking and breakfast categories. The Funfetti sub-brand is also included in the acquisition as are the strong regional brands White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White, which participate in the flour, corn meal and grits categories. Many of the acquired products are manufactured at the Toledo facility where approximately 255 full-time employees are employed.

"The iconic portfolio of brands and the company's strong Mid-Western manufacturing footprint will provide us with a solid platform to invest in and to grow,” said Henk Hartong III, chairman and CEO of Brynwood Partners.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

USGS plans airborne electromagnetic and magnetic survey in California

The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting a market survey to find companies eligible to compete for a contract to conduct an airborne electromagnetic and magnetic survey in San Joaquin Valley, Calif. The contractor will be required to provide digitally recorded and processed airborne geophysical and ancillary data.

“The USGS requests airborne geophysical data covering areas in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Calif., using magnetic and electromagnetic methods,” USGS officials said in contract documents released Sunday. “An electromagnetic system is required that can image lithologic variations, groundwater salinity variations, and structural controls on groundwater flow within agricultural and suburban areas. These data are intended for rigorous inversion and interpretation of the 3-D hydrogeologic conditions of the subsurface. These data will be used in aquifer and salinity mapping, the design of groundwater monitoring strategies, and the characterization of geologic structures.

“The goal is to provide high quality airborne geophysical data that will be used for quantitative hydrogeologic framework and groundwater salinity studies.”

Companies interested in competing for the contract must contact the USGS by July 16.

First Air merges with Canadian North airline

Makivik Corp. and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) announced Friday they have signed an agreement in principle to merge First Air and Canadian North in order to provide the best possible essential air services across the Arctic.

Following execution of definitive agreements and the receipt of applicable regulatory approvals needed to establish a strong new entity, the proposed Pan-Arctic airline will operate under the name "Canadian North" and aircraft will feature new First Air livery, including its Inukshuk logo. Headquarters for the proposed airline will be located in Ottawa. The parties expect to complete the merger by the end of 2018.

The companies believe this merger will:
  • Improve Arctic air services by offering customers greater reliability, better on-time service, and fewer interruptions;
  • Further enhance safety by enabling newer aircraft across the network, as well as specialization in maintenance of B737 and ATR aircraft;
  • Improve sustainability and efficiency of Arctic air services thus enabling the airline to more effectively meet demand across vast service areas while addressing challenges related to pilot shortages; and
  • Contribute to Northern and Inuit economic development by creating a wholly Inuit-owned, new airline focused on Canada's North.
"Air service is not a luxury for Northerners; it is a vital lifeline which requires ongoing investment," said Patrick Gruben, chair of the Inuvialuit Development Corp.

A report commissioned by the Government of Nunavut supports the need for more efficiency in Nunavut air transportation services; a merger of First Air and Canadian North is the only viable way to both meet and exceed these essential needs for Nunavummiut and all Northerners.

“Customers of First Air and Canadian North will not see changes to services, including fares and scheduling, while we work toward achieving regulatory approval and finalizing the merger,” Makivik said in a company press release.

US Navy looks to test Close-Range Armed Unmanned Air Vehicles

The U.S. Navy released a Request For Information (RFI) on Friday as part of a market survey to determine the availability, technical capability, and logistics capability of industry to provide specific information to Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division about Commercial Off-The-Shelf Close-Range Armed Unmanned Air Vehicles (CRA-UAVs). The RFI document includes CRA-UAVs that are developed but not yet in production, but can reasonably be expected to be in the status of test-ready articles for comparative testing in April 2019. CRA-UAVs include armed UAVs that have a range of up to 50 kilometers and endurance time of five minutes to six hours. “Ordinary Close Range-UAVs are usually used only for reconnaissance and surveillance tasks; however the CRA-UAVs that NSWC Crane Division seeks should be armed for immediate firing on targets found during reconnaissance and surveillance flights,” the Navy said in the RFI.

NSWC Crane is presently conducting this market survey seeking information from industry, U.S. government, and academia, to analyze alternatives and consider various CRA-UAVs for future procurement. These can be either hover-type or loiter-type CRA-UAVs.

The CRA-UAVs that NSWC Crane Division seeks should meet the following:

• Carry armaments which may include small arms, rockets, grenades, and less-than-lethal weapons and devices, or combinations of weapons and devices.
• Have a wireless remote safe, arm, and fire capability, allowing safe, arm, and either fire, or return to safe while in flight.
• Once armed, CRA-UAVs must be able to be remotely placed back into the safe mode, allowing the CRA-UAVs to safely return to the launch point.
• Be capable of single person operation (pilot is the gunner) or double person operation (pilot and gunner separate individuals).
• Be compatible with common tactical mobile Smartphones or other mobile devices.
• May include remotely-controlled gimbals or mounted remote firing stations.
• May include concepts for non-line of sight operation, such as signal repeaters.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

New Western Sydney Airport due for completion in 2026

Bechtel, a global leader in project management, engineering, procurement and construction, has been selected by WSA Co as its Delivery Partner and Project Manager for the Western Sydney Airport, a $5.3 billion greenfield facility in Badgerys Creek, New South Wales. This will be a landmark project for both New South Wales and Australia, and is due for completion at the end of 2026.

Western Sydney Airport will provide much-needed additional aviation capacity to meet growing demand in the Sydney basin and improve access to flights for people in Western Sydney.

Alaska Airlines launches new nonstop service between San Jose and New York

Alaska Airlines launched nonstop service between Mineta San Jose International Airport and John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City on Friday.

With the addition of the new service, Alaska now operates 15 flights a day to JFK from six West Coast gateways including Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose; and Seattle.

With the addition of this new and expanded JFK service, Alaska provides 38 daily flights to 19 nonstop destinations from San Jose.

Timed with the flight expansion, Alaska's newest Lounge is now open on the mezzanine level of Terminal 7 at JFK.

Alaska gates and the Alaska Lounge are located in the same terminal as Global Partners British Airways and Icelandair, providing guests traveling through JFK with convenient access to a combined 10 daily flights to top global destinations across Europe.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Flying car goes on display in UK, full certification expected in 2020

Inspired by nature, engineered by men and evolved over time, the PAL-V Liberty flying car will have its aviation debut at the Farnborough International Airshow this month. Between July 16 and 20 the PAL-V can be found in hall 4 at stand 4100. On July 21 and 22 the PAL-V will be in the static display area. It's the very first time that the PAL-V Liberty is present at an airshow and in the United Kingdom.

Over the past years, PAL-V concentrated all efforts on perfecting its design and setting up the production process and supply chain.

Robert Dingemanse, CEO of PAL-V, stated: "The production model is the moment of truth. The moment where the wall between fiction and facts is torn down. A production model is the last stage in the research & development process before starting full production and delivery. All certifications required for commercialization will be granted on the basis of this production model.”

The certification not only guarantees the safety of the flying car but also is the approval that the vehicle can be driven on the roads and flown in the air. Dingemanse said: "Once full certification is granted in 2020 we will hand over the keys of the PAL-V Liberty to our first customers."

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Putting a price tag on the most coveted trophy in hockey

The Stanley Cup is the most coveted trophy in hockey. And every year, professional hockey teams across the United States and Canada battle it out in hopes of winning this stunning prize and become a part of history. And while many people know and love everything that the Stanley Cup represents, not many people know the history of the cup’s creation and how it got to where it is today. Along with that, even fewer people know that the Stanley Cup not only has an intrinsic value, but an inherent one as well. That’s right - even though the trophy is considered priceless, there is a definite value attached to it.

The cup stands at 35¼ inches tall and weighs around 34 pounds. And, surprisingly, the Stanley Cup is made out of 459 troy ounces of pure silver. The metal content alone gives the Stanley Cup a lot of value, but it’s rich history and appeal to hockey fans the world over make that value skyrocket.
The Stanley Cup was named after the Lord Stanley of Preston, who was appointed as the Governor General of Canada in 1888 by Queen Victoria. Once he and his family moved to Canada, he developed a passion for ice hockey and grew to champion the sport. But, it was really his sons that took hockey from a popular hobby to a proper sport.
Lord Stanley’s sons were instrumental in the formation of the sport of hockey. For instance, they collectively created one of the first hockey teams in Canada, established the Ontario Hockey Association, and started ice hockey in Great Britain. But they felt that there was still something missing. That’s where the Lord Stanley makes history.
Lord Stanley gave them an elaborately decorative bowl . He bought it for around $50.00, which would equal around $1,300 in today’s society. He had the words "Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup" engraved on one side of the outside rim, and "From Stanley of Preston" on the other side. And, even though he made one of the most important investments into the sport, Stanley never actually saw a Stanley Cup championship game, and he never had the opportunity to present the cup to a winning team.
One of Lord Stanley's original conditions of the trophy was that each team could add a ring to the cup to commemorate their victory, and that’s a tradition that has followed in varying degrees to the present day. If you look closely at the trophy, you can see much of the journey that the Stanley Cup, and ultimately, the sport of hockey, has been through since the 1800s.
Based on the current spot price of silver, the Stanley Cup would set you back over $7,500.
Thursday night in Las Vegas, the Washington Capitals could close out the Golden Knights and claim their first Stanley Cup title and Lord Stanley's decorative bowl will make its way to Washington, D.C.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

New HondaJet Elite aircraft displayed for the first time to the public

Honda Aircraft Company revealed their new, upgraded aircraft, the "HondaJet Elite," on Sunday at a special hangar event ahead of the 2018 European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The HondaJet Elite has achieved an extended range of an additional 17 percent and is equipped with a newly developed noise attenuating inlet structure that lines each engine and greatly reduces high frequency noise to enhance cabin quietness. Additionally, the new aircraft's advanced avionics system incorporates additional performance management functions for optimum flight planning and automatic stability and protection functions to enhance safety of flight.

The HondaJet Elite also protects the environment by offering the best fuel efficiency in its class while also featuring best-in-class speed, altitude and range. The aircraft will be displayed for the first time to the public at EBACE from May 28 through May 31.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

CPS Energy using drones to inspect power lines and poles

CPS Energy of San Antonio, Texas, is now using drone technology to perform routine inspections of overhead infrastructure in a safer and more efficient way.

CPS Energy piloted the use of drones to inspect transmission towers and associated high voltage lines in May 2017. Through the pilot, they learned that drone inspections of 50 transmission line towers were completed in 2 ½ days. Normally, this work would have taken nearly two weeks to complete using conventional methods. The utility anticipates drones will be used to inspect equipment approaching its end of life as well as equipment damaged during severe weather.

Currently, CPS Energy has two drones in its inventory. The drone pilots must follow Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and ensure they are being mindful of customer privacy when conducting drone operations. CPS Energy is committed to providing advance notice to the community whenever planned drone flight inspections occur near their home or business.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

All systems are go for NASA's next launch to the Red Planet

The early-morning liftoff on Saturday of the Mars InSight lander will mark the first time in history an interplanetary launch will originate from the West Coast. InSight will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Space Launch Complex 3E in California.

InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. InSight will study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all rocky planets formed, including Earth and its Moon. The lander's instruments include a seismometer to detect marsquakes, and a probe that will monitor the flow of heat from the planet's interior.

The Atlas V rocket will carry the spacecraft over the Channel Islands just off the California Coast and continue climbing out over the Pacific. The rocket will reach orbit about 13 minutes after launch, when the rocket is about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) northwest of Isabella Island, Ecuador.

Getting a Mars mission flying requires a great many milestones. Among those still to come are the official start of the countdown to launch -- which comes on Saturday at 1:14 a.m. EDT. A little over an hour later, at about 2:30 a.m. EDT, the 260-foot-tall (80-meter) Mobile Service Tower -- a structure that has been protecting the Atlas V launch vehicle and its InSight payload during their vertical assembly -- will begin a 20-minute long, 250-foot (about 80-meter) roll away from the Atlas.

InSight's landing on Mars is planned for Nov. 26, around 3 p.m. EST.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The InSight spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colo. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colo., is NASA's launch service provider of the Atlas V rocket. A number of European partners, including France's Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. In particular, CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure instrument, with significant contributions from the Max Planck Institute for Solar Systems Research. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument.

Video: First interplanetary mission launch from West Coast

Insight, NASA's next Mars explorer, has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The spacecraft is called InSight - short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - and it's being tested, fueled and encapsulated for launch aboard the powerful United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The upcoming liftoff will mark the first time an interplanetary mission has launched from the West Coast.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Air Canada launches the only non-stop flights linking Alberta to the Bay Area

Air Canada inaugurated non-stop daily flights between Edmonton and San Francisco on Tuesday, one of 25 new routes being inaugurated this summer.

Air Canada's Edmonton-San Francisco daily non-stop, year-round flights are operated onboard Bombardier CRJ 900 jets offering a choice of 12 Business Class seats and 64 Economy Class seats, wi-fi, and features Air Canada's in-flight entertainment on personal touch-screens at every seat.

Flights have been timed to connect conveniently with Air Canada's regional flight network in Edmonton and with Star Alliance partner United Airlines in San Francisco.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Video: Building NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

“Into the Unknown” tells the story of the building of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – a revolutionary observatory, 100 times more powerful and the scientific successor to the Hubble Telescope. Webb will reveal a universe we have never seen before and is poised to answer questions that have intrigued us for thousands of years. “Into the Unknown” offers an in-depth look at one of the most daring scientific missions ever attempted.

Keeping an eye on Earth's water cycle, ice sheets and crust from space

A pair of spacecraft that will observe our planet's ever-changing water cycle, ice sheets and crust are in final preparations for launch from California no earlier than May 19. The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences, will take over where the first GRACE mission left off when it completed its 15-year mission in 2017.

GRACE-FO will continue monitoring monthly changes in the distribution of mass within and among Earth's atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within the solid Earth itself. These data will provide unique insights into Earth's changing climate, Earth system processes and even the impacts of some human activities, and will have far-reaching benefits to society, such as improving water resource management.

"Water is critical to every aspect of life on Earth -- for health, for agriculture, for maintaining our way of living," said Michael Watkins, GRACE-FO science lead and director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "You can't manage it well until you can measure it. GRACE-FO provides a unique way to measure water in many of its phases, allowing us to manage water resources more effectively."

Like GRACE, the first mission, GRACE-FO will use an innovative technique to observe something that can't be seen directly from space. It uses the weight of water to measure its movement -- even water hidden far below Earth's surface. GRACE-FO will do this by very precisely measuring the changes in the shape of Earth's gravity field caused by the movement of massive amounts of water, ice and solid Earth.

"When water is underground, it's impossible to directly observe from space. There's no picture you can take or radar you can bounce off the surface to measure changes in that deep water," said Watkins. "But it has mass, and GRACE-FO is almost the only way we have of observing it on large scales. Similarly, tracking changes in the total mass of the polar ice sheets is also very difficult, but GRACE-FO essentially puts a 'scale' under them to track their changes over time."

Like its predecessors, the two identical GRACE-FO satellites will function as a single instrument. The satellites will orbit Earth about 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart, at an initial altitude of about 305 miles (490 kilometers). Each satellite continually sends microwave signals to the other to accurately measure changes in the distance between them. As they fly over a massive Earth feature, such as a mountain range or underground aquifer, the gravitational pull of that feature tugs on the satellites, changing the distance separating them. By tracking changes in their separation distance with incredible accuracy -- to less than the thickness of a human hair -- the satellites are able to map these regional gravity changes.

GRACE-FO will be launched into orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites on a commercially procured SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Video: Satellite imagery highlights changes in US forests

Annual maps of the lower-48 United States produced from satellite data illustrate dynamic changes in U.S. forests from 1986-2010. Logging and hurricanes play a significant role in the Southeast, and fires and insect invasion damage forest canopy in the West.

Trees are one of the world's best absorbers of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Understanding how trees and forests change through time is one of the first steps to understanding how active they are in pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which is of profound interest to scientists monitoring climate change.

Developed for the North American Forest Dynamics study, scientists combined 25 years of satellite data from the joint U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat satellite program with information from the U.S. Forest Service to highlight where forest canopy was disturbed.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Yahsat signs agreement to purchase majority stake in Thuraya

Yahsat, a leading satellite operator based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the mobile satellite services operator Thuraya, also based in the UAE.

The acquisition of the UAE's first home grown satellite operator, Thuraya, will significantly expand Yahsat's current satellite solutions portfolio for both commercial and government verticals, as well as its global footprint.

The acquisition will set Yahsat on a new phase of growth, with Thuraya bringing 20 years of innovation and experience in the mobile satellite services market along with a rich portfolio of products and services complimented by a renowned brand.

Thuraya's two satellites, serving over 140 countries, will join the Yahsat fleet, expanding the group's satellite fleet to five. The combination of geostationary satellites operating in the C, Ka, Ku and L-bands will jointly cover Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Asia, providing a broad range of Fixed and Mobile Satellite Services spanning voice and data communications to both commercial and government sectors.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Department of Energy shopping for used Bell helicopter

The Department of Energy/Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) intends to procure a used Bell 407 helicopter, according to contract documents released Thursday. Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas, is the sole manufacturer of the Bell 407.

WAPA requires that the helicopter be manufactured in 2010 or newer and not exceed 1,000 flight hours, the Energy Department said in a Pre-Solicitation Notice released Thursday. The Bell 407 should be utility equipped with no damage history, high skid gear, rotor brake, and covered by a warranty for replacement and/or repair of defective components for a period of one year.

The contract solicitation will be available on or around May 10 with quotes due seven calendar days after release.

Study looks at commercialization of low Earth orbit

In May, NASA will be releasing a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) for low Earth orbit (LEO) commercialization, according to contract documents released Tuesday.

The purpose of this NRA is to inform NASA's strategy for enabling the commercialization of human spaceflight in LEO and meeting NASA's long-term LEO needs. The NRA will solicit industry concepts, business plans and viability for habitable platforms, whether using the International Space Station (ISS) or free-flying, that would enable a commercial marketplace in LEO where NASA is one of many customers. Additionally, the study seeks industry input on the role of government and evolution of ISS in the roadmap to commercialization of LEO.

NASA anticipates awarding multiple four-month, fixed priced contracts, up to $1 million per award. Participation is open to U.S. organizations, including industry, educational institutions, and nonprofit institutions, the agency said in documents.

A Pre-Proposal Conference to discuss the study objectives and proposal instructions with prospective respondents is planned for May 1 in the Gilruth Center at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.