Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Historical Lincoln, Jefferson documents up for auction

Historical documents dealer and auctioneer Cohasco has the following items up for auction:
  • A group of eight Illinois manuscripts, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1842, begins just two years after receiving his law license. Other signers include James Matheny, best man at Lincoln's wedding that year, best friend Joshua Speed, and Stephen A. Douglass, future opponent for the Presidency. 
  • A Baltimore reward poster for a successful named escapee via the Underground Railroad, 1857.  In black fugitive Adam's memoir, he described his former master as "a real country ruffian...a great drinker and gambler...." Underground Railroad lore is abundant, but original documents almost never come to market ($8,500-11,500).
  • A battle sword which witnessed Francis Scott Key's "rocket's red glare" in the dawn's early light of Sept. 1814.  From the possession of citizen-soldier John Howlet of Maryland, the sword was in use when he was shot (but survived).  ($1250-1750)
  • Thomas Jefferson signed document protecting America's frontier, 1792, as the first Secretary of State.  His signed Act embraces several firsts in America's history – including the first Presidential Cabinet, and first-ever Congressional investigations. ($28,000-35,000)
  • Civil War newspaper seeking trial of the President "for his numerous unconstitutional acts...The States alone declare who are their citizens." ($75-100)
  • Postcard flown on Russia's ultimate world adventure – their attempted 4,600-mile nonstop Moscow-New York flight, 1939. It crashed in Canada. ($1900-2750)
  • Rare pay receipt for black soldier Cato Negro's service in the Revolutionary War.  The Connecticut freedom fighter likely took his name from the play "Cato" - inspiring Patrick Henry's words, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" ($3900-4500)
The auction ends Jan. 6.

Ten Pennsylvania coal mines sold to Rosebud Mining Company

Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. announced Tuesday that its subsidiary AMFIRE Mining Company, LLC has completed the previously announced divestiture of substantially all of its assets to Rosebud Mining Company. The transaction included total consideration of approximately $86 million, including $75 million in cash and the assumption of certain liabilities. The assets, which include ten mines and four preparation plants and loadouts, are located in Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Elk, Greene, Indiana and Somerset counties, Pennsylvania.

Alpha Natural Resources affiliates continue to operate two mines in southwestern Pennsylvania that are not connected with the transaction, the Emerald and Cumberland mines near Waynesburg.  More than 1,100 workers are employed by these Greene County operations.

With affiliate mining operations in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, Alpha supplies metallurgical coal to the steel industry and thermal coal to generate power to customers on five continents.

Contract: Escort services for military aircraft towed on public roads

The U.S. Navy in Jacksonville, Fla., is conducting a market survey to determine the availability of vendors for Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) which is an industrial facility that accomplishes rework, repair, and overhaul of various aircraft, engines, and components located at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax), Duval County, Fla.

“This requirement is to provide escort transportation services for military aircraft on public roads between NAS Jax and the Cecil Commerce Center (CCC) for a total of 60 moves during the period from March 1 through Oct. 31, 2015,” the Navy said in contract documents released Tuesday. “The government will provide the tow equipment and a driver for the movement of the aircraft and obtain a blanket permit from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) authorizing the tow of aircraft on public roads between NAS JAX and CCC.”

The contractor will provide all labor, supervision, vehicles, equipment, law enforcement escorts, and any other items necessary to transport aircraft to include coordination with Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, FDOT, as well as the safety offices and security departments of FRCSE, NAS Jax, and CCC.

The aircraft will be reduced to the smallest size possible, ranging in height from 9-17 feet, width ranging from 16-34 feet, and length ranging from 28-61 feet. Tows will typically be Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and involve only one aircraft, but the contractor must be prepared for other days/times and for two aircraft at a time.

Companies interested in supporting the contract should contact the U.S. Navy Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Jacksonville by Jan.15.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Boeing performs first test flight for KC-46 tanker program

The Boeing Company and U.S. Air Force successfully completed the first flight of the KC-46 tanker test program Sunday. The plane, a Boeing 767-2C, took off from Paine Field, Wash., at 12:29 p.m. (EST) and landed three hours and 32 minutes later at Boeing Field. The aircraft will receive its military systems following certification.

As part of a contract awarded in 2011 to design and develop the Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft, Boeing is building four test aircraft – two 767-2Cs and two KC-46A Tankers. The 767-2Cs enter flight test as commercial freighters prior to receiving their aerial refueling systems, while the KC-46s will fly as fully equipped tankers through the Federal Aviation Administration and military certification process.

Boeing is on contract to deliver the first 18 of 179 KC-46 aircraft to the Air Force by 2017.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

US Army deploys missile-fighting blimp over Maryland

For the first time, the U.S. Army lofted a blimp equipped with a new cruise-missile and drone-fighting radar system high above rural Maryland. The system, made by Raytheon Company and known as JLENS, consists of two helium-filled aerostats, or tethered blimps, that float 10,000 feet above the ground and carry powerful radars.

"JLENS is strategically emplaced to help defend Washington D.C. and a Texas-sized portion of the East Coast from cruise missiles, drones and hostile aircraft," said Dave Gulla, vice president of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems' Global Integrated Sensors business. "JLENS can detect potential threats at extremely long ranges, giving North American Aerospace Defense Command more time to make decisions and more space to react appropriately."

As part of the deployment, Raytheon engineers raised one of the football-field sized aerostats thousands of feet in the air and conducted a series of tests to ensure it was operating as designed.  The company will continue to test and integrate the radar for several more days, then turn the first JLENS balloon over to soldiers of the U.S. Army's A Battery, 3rd Air Defense Artillery.

The second aerostat is scheduled to go aloft in early 2015.  Following a series of additional tests, it will also be turned over to the Army.

The 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, which is responsible for defending the airspace over the National Capital Region, will also use information from JLENS.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Video: Army blimp launched over Maryland

You might have heard of JLENS, the U.S. Army’s cruise-missile fighting radar blimp that will be stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md. Here are some things you probably didn't know about it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

India's new rocket will test 'Crew Module'

The countdown has started for the first experimental flight of India's new satellite launch vehicle, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III). Launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, the unmanned rocket will carry a "Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE)."

The GSLV-Mk III is a launch vehicle currently under development by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). GSLV-Mk III is conceived and designed to make the ISRO fully self reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh between 4,500 and 5,000 kilograms. It would also enhance the capability of the country to be a competitive player in the multimillion dollar commercial launch market. The vehicle will have a multimission launch capability for geosynchronous transfer orbit, low earth orbit, polar and intermediate circular orbits.

The GSLV-Mk III is designed to be a three-stage vehicle 42.4 meters tall with a liftoff weight of 630 tons. The first stage comprises two identical S200 Large Solid Boosters with 200 tons of solid propellant that are strapped to the second stage, the L110 restartable liquid stage. The third stage is the C25 LOX/LH2 cryo stage. The payload fairing measures five meters in diameter.

The GSLV-Mk III is scheduled for liftoff at 11:00 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Monday, December 15, 2014

NASA software shows promise in improving aircraft flight efficiency

NASA researchers Friday began flight tests of computer software that shows promise in improving flight efficiency and reducing environmental impacts of aircraft, especially on communities around airports.

Known as ASTAR, or Airborne Spacing for Terminal Arrival Routes, the software is designed to give pilots specific speed information and guidance so that planes can be more precisely spaced, enabling pilots to fly a "follow the leader" approach to their destination airport.

This type of approach would minimize flight path deviations, allow more efficient use of existing airspace and possibly reduce noise over communities surrounding airports – all of which could lead to reductions in commercial flight delays.

The software is being  tested on the Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 Test Airplane as part of  The Boeing Company’s ecoDemonstrator Program, a multi-year effort that aims to identify and accelerate the development and testing of new technologies and methods that can potentially reduce the environmental impacts of aviation.

During the flight tests, NASA engineer Roy Roper operates ASTAR on a laptop in the rear of the aircraft. As a second aircraft flies in front of the ecoDemonstrator 787, ASTAR computes and displays the speed required to follow safely behind. Roper then communicates those speed commands to the ecoDemonstrator 787 pilots.

The ASTAR experiment is the first of several NASA tests flying aboard the ecoDemonstrator Test Airplanes. During the spring and summer of 2015, the ecoDemonstrator 757 Test Airplane will host two NASA experiments. The first involves using active flow control technologies on the aircraft's tail to determine if future tail designs can be altered to reduce drag. The second will test the effectiveness of coatings applied to the leading edge of a wing section to reduce turbulence-inducing buildup of insect residue.

EVA Air plans non-stop flights between Taipei and Houston

EVA Air will initiate non-stop flights between Taipei and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport on June 19, 2015. The airline will start the new service with three flights a week and increase frequency to four on July 1, 2015. The route will give passengers a comfortable way to fly from the Southwestern region of the United States to Taipei and, with just one easy stop, connect onward to major destinations throughout Asia, including Mainland China, Singapore and Vietnam.

EVA will serve the route with a brand-new Boeing 777-300ER equipped with Wi-Fi, the latest inflight entertainment system and SMS roaming service that passengers can use to send and receive short messages on their own mobile phones. The aircraft is scheduled for delivery in May 2015 and will be specially painted nose-to-tail with Texas-sized Hello Kitty and Sanrio characters. It will have 333 seats, configured with 39 in Royal Laurel Class business, 56 in Elite premium economy and 238 in Economy.

New Canadian airline orders five Boeing 737 MAX 7s

The Boeing Company and Jetlines announced an order for five 737 MAX 7s on Monday as the new Canadian ultra-low cost carrier builds its future fleet. The order, valued at $438 million at current list prices, includes purchase rights for an additional 16 737 MAXs.

The new airline, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, plans to tap into passenger demand by offering low cost airfares on routes that avoid direct competition with other airlines.

The 737 MAX incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. The 737 MAX 7 will be capable of flying more than 3,800 nautical miles, extending the range over today's 737-700 by approximately 400 nautical miles (741 kilometers).

With this order, the 737 MAX has orders for 2,562 airplanes from 55 customers worldwide.

Video: Chinese helicopter lands on U.S. guided-missile destroyer

A Chinese Harbin Z-9E helicopter practices landing aboard the U.S. Navy's guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104). Sterett and ships from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) commenced a bilateral counter-piracy exercise, U.S.-China Counter-Piracy Exercise 15, in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa.

Aiming to promote partnership, strength and presence, the exercise includes combined visit, board, search, and seizure operations, communication exchanges, and various other aspects of naval operations.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Satellite data shows MH370 plane crashed into the Indian Ocean

Critical days were lost in the search for MH370 because Malaysian authorities initially rejected evidence from a British satellite company that the Boeing 777 with 239 aboard was in the Southern Indian Ocean.

British sources told AirlineRatings.com Editor Geoffrey Thomas that within 24 hours of the disappearance of MH370 on March 8, Inmarsat, a satellite communications company based in the United Kingdom, advised the relevant Malaysian authorities of their findings but were rebuffed.

Inmarsat then approached the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) with its data and it immediately recognized the significance.

Inmarsat was contracted to provide a data link to the Malaysian Airlines fleet and continued to get a signal every hour from MH370 till 8.19 a.m. Perth time.

The Malaysian authorities were forced to take the findings seriously when the AAIB teamed with Inmarsat to represent the data around March 14 - five days after the Boeing 777 disappeared.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Video: Atlas V rocket launches with new engine

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 on Friday at 10:19 p.m. EST. Designated NROL-35, the mission is in support of national defense.

"This mission was launched on the most powerful Atlas ever launched from California with more than two million pounds of liftoff thrust,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs.

The satellite was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle 541 configuration vehicle, which includes a five-meter diameter payload fairing along with four Aerojet Rocketdyne solid rocket motors attached to the Atlas booster. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the inaugural flight of the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.

"We have been working closely with Aerojet Rocketdyne and our Air Force customers for several years to develop and extensively test this next-generation engine to enable the most reliable and cost-effective upper stage propulsion for our Atlas and Delta programs," said Sponnick.

ULA's next launch will carry the Mobile User Objective System-3 satellite for the United States Navy scheduled for Jan. 20 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

ULA has successfully delivered more than 85 satellites to orbit.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Video: Plane crashes near Montgomery County Airpark

A small jet aircraft crashed into a neighborhood within a mile of Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Md., on Monday.

The aircraft is a 2009 Embraer 500 Phenom 100 jet (tail number N100EQ) registered to Sage Aviation LLC in Chapel Hill, N.C., according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Three people aboard the plane and a mother and her two children in a nearby house were killed in the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recovered the flight recorders from the plane. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Military helicopter market worth $33 billion in 2023

Repeated budget cuts and frozen orders have blurred promises of market recovery in the global military market, especially across Western regions. The adoption of remotely piloted aircraft systems seems to make manned helicopters further irrelevant. Nevertheless, unrivalled vertical take-off and landing capabilities as well as strong mission efficiency rates will sustain interest in military rotorcraft.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Global Military Helicopters Market Assessment, finds that the market earned revenues of $25.43 billion in 2013 and estimates this to reach $33.37 billion in 2023. New platform procurements will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 2.8 percent globally.

"Territorial disputes in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East are underlining the importance of upgraded attack and naval capabilities, thereby boosting military helicopter sales," said Frost & Sullivan Aerospace & Defense Industry Analyst Alix Leboulanger. "While budget cuts and stretched fleets will impact the platform segment in the short and medium terms, the need to bridge crucial capability gaps will revive market growth in the long term."

As armed forces renew legacy helicopters, the new generation of platforms will face certain challenges:
  • Meeting budget requirements will eventually imply less procurement.
  • Conducting assignments ranging from asymmetric warfare to naval operations with significantly low financial support will affect performance.
  • The fast-changing geopolitical environment will hold back export opportunities.
To conduct more missions at a lesser cost, armed forces are embracing multi-role platforms. However, the demand for multi-role platforms capable of fulfilling each mission as efficiently as mission-specific helicopters increases costs.

Manufacturers must highlight benefits such as the rationalization of existing logistics and maintenance repair operations supply-chains, reduction in training costs, and interoperability to move forward the uptake of expensive multi-role platforms. Consequently, the use of smarter mission systems and open systems architecture for joint missions with other aircraft types, in particular remotely piloted aircraft systems, will increase.

"The rise of optionally piloted helicopters is a future trend that needs to be closely monitored as it will actually empower multi-role helicopters and their mission spectrum," observed Leboulanger. "It also has the potential to bridge the gap in manned and unmanned aircraft integration, complementing – not replacing – helicopter surveillance, reconnaissance, and utility roles in the global military helicopter space."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Significant increase in worldwide incidences of terrorism

According to the second edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), there were almost 10,000 terrorist attacks recorded in 2013 representing a 44 percent increase from 2012, resulting in nearly 18,000 deaths representing a 61 percent increase from the previous year.

Terrorism in 2013 was dominated by four organizations; ISIL, Boko Haram, al Qa'ida and the Taliban, collectively responsible for 66 percent of all fatalities.

Over 80 percent of the deaths from terrorist incidents in 2013 were recorded in just five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Iraq continues to be the country most impacted by terrorism with 2,492 attacks killing 6,362 people, which represents a 164 percent increase from 2012. ISIL was responsible for most of the deaths in the country.

The two most successful strategies for ending terrorist groups since the late 1960s have been either policing or the initiation of a political process; 80 percent of organisations that ceased operations ended this way. Only 10 percent of terrorist organisations ended due to having achieved their goals while seven percent were eliminated by full military engagement.

Many more people die in homicides than in terrorist attacks, with an individual being 40 times more likely to be a victim of homicide than be killed by terrorism, according to the GTI.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Video: F-35C conducts night flights aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz

The F-35C Lightning II carrier variant Joint Strike Fighters performed night flight deck operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of San Diego this week. These milestones are part of initial at-sea Developmental Testing I for the F-35C, which commenced Nov. 3 and is expected to last two weeks. The F-35C is the carrier variant of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter designed for the U.S. Navy as a first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter complement to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Coast Guard suspends search for missing plane in Lake Pontchartrain

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for a missing aircraft in Lake Pontchartrain, Thursday.

Coast Guard officials received a call from the New Orleans International Airport air traffic control tower at approximately 8:30 p.m Wednesday reporting a missing Cessna 172 with two people aboard.

“The Coast Guard has searched the 161 square-mile area 13 times over the past 20 hours,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Molavi. “We would like to extend our sympathies to the families during this difficult time.”

The search is suspended, pending further developments, the Coast Guard said in a press statement.

Student instructor flight goes missing in New Orleans

The U.S. Coast Guard is responding to a report of a missing aircraft in Lake Ponchartrain, Wednesday.

The Coast Guard received a call from the New Orleans International Airport air traffic control tower at approximately 8:30 p.m., reporting a missing Cessna 172 with two people aboard.

The aircraft was last seen on radar one mile northeast of the Lakefront Airport. The flight was reported to be a student instructor flight.

The Coast Guard responded by issuing an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and deploying a 45-foot Response Boat - Medium crew from Coast Guard Station New Orleans and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans.

The Coast Guard is working together with Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, the Houston Air Traffic Control Center and Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office to search for the two missing persons.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Climax Utilities successfully completes first sale on ProEconomica

Climax Utilities, a virtual company created on the website ProEconomica, successfully conducted its first sale of utility water on Tuesday. The inaugural sale was conducted between Climax and a ProEconomica player in New Orleans, La. The player purchased 15 units of water from Climax at a cost of $1.50 per unit using virtual dollars.

"Our first sale in water is a historic milestone for Climax,” commented Brothel, CEO of Climax Utilities. He continued, "Our successful launch establishes ProEconomica players in New Orleans as an important cornerstone for this company. I am excited to see our continued growth."

The sale was conducted from Climax's virtual office on ProEconomica led by one virtual employee, Kim. The interactive nature of ProEconomica's virtual world combined with players worldwide allows for users to interact directly with each other and develop entrepreneurial skills.

"Through our customer service technology, we are providing global audiences with a secure platform where they can buy with confidence and trust," says Kim. "We are thrilled to have successfully completed our first sale without a single operational hitch. Everything went as planned, and we look forward to our next sale to a ProEconomica player in Las Vegas.” 

About ProEconomica 

Are you ready to develop your entrepreneurial skills in order to become a really successful businessman? Do you want to manage your own company or compete with other players in a virtual world based on the concepts found in reality? Then go to ProEconomica and get into an unique economic adventure. Join a virtual world that brings you real experience.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Video: Antares rocket explodes moments after liftoff at Virginia spaceport

The third Orbital Sciences cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) failed to reach Earth orbit on Tuesday when the Antares rocket exploded moments after liftoff from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The Antares rocket was carrying the Cygnus cargo ship packed with over 5,000 pounds of supplies for the ISS, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions.

Wind shear and pilot's lack of training caused Predator accident

An unmanned MQ-1B Predator drone impacted a runway on April 4 because of low-level wind shear and incorrect pilot recovery techniques during a practice landing at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, according to an Air Combat Command abbreviated accident investigation board report released Tuesday.

The aircraft and its aircrew were assigned to the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech, when the accident occurred. The aircraft was significantly damaged by the impact with a repair cost estimate of $4.5 million. There were no injuries or damage to private property. The aircrew was conducting a routine launch and recovery training mission at the time of the mishap.

The board president found by clear and convincing evidence that the cause of the mishap was low-level wind shear during a critical phase of landing, and the pilot's lack of training in landing operations for the MQ-1B. Specifically, after the aircraft experienced loss of lift due to low-level wind shear, it bounced on the runway and the mishap pilot used the wrong recovery technique for an MQ-1B. The pilot's incorrect control inputs caused the aircraft to continue bouncing on the runway until its landing gear were destroyed.

Video: Russia prepares Progress 57 cargo ship for launch

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, preparations continue for launch of the International Space Station (ISS) Progress 57 cargo ship. The orbital module of the Soyuz-2.1 launch vehicle, containing the ISS Progress 57 spacecraft, was integrated in the processing facility. The Soyuz launch vehicle was rolled out from the integration building to the launch pad. The launch vehicle with ISS Progress 57 transport vehicle was then installed on the launch pad.

Space station to improve monitoring of Earth's plant health

A new space-based instrument to study how effectively plants use water is being developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. The instrument, called the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), will monitor one of the most basic processes in living plants: the loss of water through the tiny pores in leaves.

When people lose water through their pores, the process is called sweating. The related process in plants is known as transpiration. Because water that evaporates from soil around plants also affects the amount of water that plants can use, ECOSTRESS will measure combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration.

"When a person sweats during a workout, it helps cool their body, and if they get enough water they can keep exercising," said Simon Hook, a research scientist at JPL and the project's principal investigator. "If they do not get enough water, they show signs of overheating and stress and eventually collapse. Similarly, if plants do not get enough water, they show signs of stress. By measuring evapotranspiration, we get an early indicator of that stress, and we can do something about it before the plants collapse."

ECOSTRESS's science instrument is a high-resolution thermal infrared radiometer, which works like a giant thermometer from space to measure the temperature of plants and the amount of heat radiating from Earth's surface. "If we find a plant is too hot, that's because it's not getting enough water to cool itself down," said Josh Fisher, a JPL research scientist and science lead for ECOSTRESS.

Existing satellite instruments that monitor evapotranspiration offer either high spatial resolution but low time frequency (a couple of measurements a month), or high time frequency and coarse spatial resolution. Scientists, farmers and water managers need both high resolution and high frequency.

The International Space Station provides a particularly beneficial vantage point not regularly available with traditional free-flying (sun-synchronous polar-orbiting) satellites, which fly over the same spot on Earth at the same time on each pass. The station's orbit shifts so that it flies over any given spot on Earth at different times. By looking at ECOSTRESS imagery of a certain location over the course of days to weeks, scientists will be able to see how evapotranspiration varies in that location throughout the day. This is important, because plants that get enough water in the cool of the morning might shut down in afternoon heat, just as a person stops sweating under extreme heat stress.

Scheduled for completion in 2017 and launch between 2017 and 2019, ECOSTRESS is one of two instruments selected in July for NASA's Earth Venture-Instrument series of missions. These missions are part of the Earth System Science Pathfinder program, managed by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The ECOSTRESS team includes researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.; and the University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. The California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages JPL for NASA.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Antares rocket launch from Virginia rescheduled

The third Orbital Sciences cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch at 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

A Monday launch attempt was scrubbed because of a boat down range in the trajectory Orbital’s Antares rocket would have flown had it lifted off. The Antares will launch with the Cygnus spacecraft filled with over 5,000 pounds of supplies for the ISS, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions.

A Tuesday launch will result in the Cygnus spacecraft arriving at the space station early Sunday.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chicago air traffic delayed by phone line problems

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) briefly delayed departures Monday for flights headed to O’Hare or Midway from Canada and Midwestern airports because of problems with several phone lines between the Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control facility in Elgin, Ill., and the FAA’s adjoining en route centers. The FAA resolved the problem and lifted the delay restrictions at 5:50 p.m., EDT, 43 minutes after they were put in place.

Over the weekend, FAA technical teams working on restoring telecommunications systems at the FAA’s Chicago En Route Center in Aurora, Ill., removed all of the equipment and cabling that was damaged in the Sept. 26 fire at the facility. Cleaning crews removed the remaining soot and debris from the area. The FAA teams on site are continuing work to connect the new and existing equipment and test it to ensure all systems are running properly.

Air Force awards contract for new expeditionary radar

The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon Company a $19.5 million contract for engineering and manufacturing development of a new expeditionary radar that will detect, identify and track drones, missiles and aircraft. The total contract, including all options, is currently estimated at $71.8 million and includes the procurement of an additional three radar systems, for a total of six radar systems and product support. The radar, called the Three Dimensional Expeditionary Long Range Radar, or 3DELRR, is one of the first programs under the Department of Defense's Better Buying Power initiative to be designed for exportability, enabling U.S. forces, allies and security partners to benefit from the system.

Raytheon's 3DELRR system is a gallium nitride (GaN)-based radar that operates in the C-band of the radio frequency spectrum. By using GaN, Raytheon was able to affordably increase the radar's range, sensitivity and search capabilities. C-band also offers the military increased flexibility because that portion of the spectrum is relatively uncongested.

3DELRR will replace radars, such as the Vietnam-era AN/TPS-75, which are no longer able to keep pace with current and emerging threats.

FAA removes remaining fire-damaged equipment at Aurora facility

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) technical teams expect to complete the removal of all remaining fire-damaged equipment and cabling from the Chicago En Route Center in Aurora, Ill., by Monday morning. Meanwhile, replacement equipment continues to be installed and tested, the FAA reported Sunday.

FAA air traffic controllers continued to handle high volumes of traffic into and out of Chicago-area airports this weekend. The number of arrivals and departures at O'Hare were more than 90 percent of the two-month average for a Saturday, while total operations at Midway reached more than 95 percent.

The weather forecast for Monday calls for a chance of rain showers in Chicago, which could affect arrival and departure rates into both major airports.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

New aircraft maintenance service at Leesburg Executive Airport

Beginning Monday, Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia will have a new aircraft maintenance and avionics support service under the name Skyline Aviation Service Center (SASC).

ProJet Aviation announced in August they were discontinuing commercial maintenance and repair operations at Leesburg Airport in order to focus on managed aircraft clients. ProJet acquired aircraft maintenance services at the airport in June 2012 after purchasing all of Landmark Aviation's assets.

Founded by Mark Granger, the previous customer project manager for ProJet, SASC aims to provide the aircraft owner with the utmost in maintenance and support. Through integrity, personal relationships and cost effective solutions, SASC will long be at the forefront of customer service for the region.

SASC will be operating in the main ProJet hangar just down the ramp from the Leesburg Airport Terminal. Capabilities range from single/twin piston aircraft, turboprop, turbine jet aircraft and helicopters. Through a unique blend of aviation talents; services will include airframe, engine and avionics maintenance, repair, inspection, modification and upgrades.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Most popular posts September 2014

1.) Pilot in stable condition after plane crash off Miami Beach - U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities responded to the report of a Cessna aircraft that crashed Sept. 6 approximately 200 yards from Miami Beach, Fla. [Full story] 

2.) Management changes at Cirrus Aircraft - Cirrus Aircraft announced five important executive appointments Sept. 3 that will strengthen the company's leadership team and further position the enterprise for global growth. [Full story

3.) Interjet now arriving in Houston - Mexican airline Interjet has formally announced the start of operations for its direct Monterrey - Houston - Monterrey service starting on Oct. 23, with two daily flights Monday through Friday, and one daily flight on Saturdays and Sundays. [Full story] 

4.) Two Airbus A330-300 planes leased to major Asian airline - FLY Leasing Limited, a global lessor of modern commercial jet aircraft, announced Sept. 2 it has acquired two Airbus A330-300s manufactured in 2013 and has leased the planes to a leading airline in Asia in a sale and lease-back transaction. [Full story

5.) Search begins for downed aircraft near Jamaica - U.S. Coast Guard and Jamaican officials responded to a downed aircraft with three people reportedly aboard in the water approximately 14 miles north of Port Antonio, Jamaica. [Full story]

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Chicago-area air traffic slowly returning to normal following fire

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is continuing to manage high levels of air traffic in and out of the Chicago-area airports Tuesday. FAA analysis shows by 2 p.m. EDT, almost 80 percent of the average Tuesday traffic for the past two months was flying in and out of O’Hare, and about 85 percent at Midway. Data for Monday shows air traffic flow at Chicago O'Hare and Midway was more than 85 percent of the average traffic for the past two months.

“The FAA will continue to safely maximize efficiency of the airspace and work closely with airlines to provide predictability in arrival and departure rates,” the agency said in a press statement. “The FAA is closely monitoring the weather outlook in the Chicago area and is working with the airlines on weather-related contingency plans in anticipation of predicted thunderstorms in the region over the next several days."

Meanwhile, technicians are working around the clock at the FAA’s Chicago En Route Center in Aurora, Ill., to finish cleaning the facility’s ventilation system and other smoke-damaged areas and to install new communications equipment, cabling, and the infrastructure to support it.

“Workers have completed a seismic protection grid in the new telecommunications room and have started to install cabinets known as 'racks' that house the new equipment,” the FAA said.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Video: Debunking lunar landing conspiracies

Explore the truth behind the iconic Buzz Aldrin moon landing photo. See how modern graphics innovations can shed new light on a 45-year-old conspiracy theory.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bureau of Prisons prepares mortuary services contract in Alabama

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Field Acquisition Office in Grand Prairie, Texas, intends to make a single contract award for the provision of mortuary services, according to documents released Friday.

Mortuary services may include, but is not limited to transportation, embalming, body preparation, clothing, filing of certificates and permits, casket, shipping, cremation, and burial services, the BOP said in contract documents. “The services will be performed for female inmates housed at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) located in Aliceville, Ala., who become deceased during incarceration.”

The contractor will be contacted by the contracting officer and notified of an inmate death. The contracting officer will provide the contractor with the inmate’s name and location of the body. Within two hours of notification, the contractor will pick the body up at the location designated by the Pickens County Coroner’s office. During non-business hours, the contractor may be contacted by a Correctional Supervisor and advised of an inmate’s death. The contractor will be notified if an autopsy is required. 

The government contemplates awarding an indefinite-delivery/requirements-type contract with firm-fixed unit prices resulting from the future solicitation. The contract period shall consist of a 12 month base period with four 12 month option periods for renewal.

Market research is being conducted to determine interest and capability of potential sources for this requirement. The response date for the market survey is Oct. 3.

Video: Over 5,000 pounds of cargo launched to space station

A new NASA mission that will boost global monitoring of ocean winds for improved weather forecasting and climate studies is among about 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of cargo now on its way to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. The cargo ship was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:52 a.m. EDT Sunday.

This is the fourth cargo delivery flight for SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) to the space station through a $1.6 billion NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract.

One device aboard Dragon, the International Space Station-Rapid Scatterometer, or ISS-RapidScat, will monitor ocean winds from the vantage point of the space station. This space-based scatterometer, developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., is a remote sensing instrument that uses radar pulses reflected from the ocean's surface from different angles to calculate surface wind speed and direction. This information will be useful for weather and marine forecasting and hurricane monitoring.

ISS-RapidScat will be in an orbit that is unique from any other wind measuring instrument currently in space. This vantage point will give scientists the first near-global direct observations of how ocean winds vary over the course of the day due to solar heating. The new mission will also provide cross-calibration of the international constellation of ocean wind satellites, extending the continuity and usefulness of the scatterometer data record.

Approximately nine days after berthing with the station, the RapidScat instrument and its nadir adapter, which orients the instrument to point down at Earth, will be robotically installed on the External Payload Facility SDX site of the Columbus module over a three-day period by the station's robotic arm, which is controlled by ground controllers at NASA's Johnson Space Center. ISS-RapidScat is an autonomous payload, requiring no interaction from astronauts aboard the station.

Using a mechanical hand, the station's robotic arm will first extract RapidScat's nadir adapter from the trunk of the Dragon and install it on an external site on the Columbus module. The arm will then pluck the RapidScat instrument assembly from the Dragon's trunk and attach it to the nadir adapter, completing the installation. Each of the two operations will take about six hours.

Once installed, RapidScat will be activated over a period of three days. Checkout of RapidScat will be completed approximately two weeks after installation. About two weeks of preliminary calibration and validation will then follow. RapidScat will then be ready to begin its two-year science mission.

ISS-RapidScat is a partnership between JPL and the International Space Station Program Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, with support from the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The device is the third of five NASA Earth science missions scheduled to launch into space within 12 months.

3-D printing and rodents

Dragon also will deliver the first-ever 3-D printer in space. The technology enables parts to be manufactured quickly and cheaply in space, instead of waiting for the next cargo resupply vehicle delivery. The research team also will gain valuable insight into improving 3-D printing technology on Earth by demonstrating it in microgravity.

New biomedical hardware launched aboard the spacecraft will help facilitate prolonged biological studies in microgravity. The Rodent Research Hardware and Operations Validation (Rodent Research-1) investigation provides a platform for long-duration rodent experiments in space. These investigations examine how microgravity affects animals, providing information relevant to human spaceflight, discoveries in basic biology and knowledge that may have direct impact toward human health on Earth.

Biological research

The Dragon spacecraft will also transport other biological research, including a new plant study. The Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) hardware has supported a variety of plant growth experiments aboard the space station. The BRIC-19 investigation will focus on the growth and development in microgravity of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings, a small flowering plant related to cabbage. Because plant development on Earth is impacted by mechanical forces such as wind or a plant's own weight, researchers hope to improve understanding of how the growth responses of plants are altered by the absence of these forces when grown in microgravity.

Dragon is scheduled to be grappled at 7:04 a.m. EDT on Tuesday by Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, using the space station's robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. NASA's Reid Wiseman will support Gerst in a backup position. Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station in mid-October for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, bringing from the space station almost 3,200 pounds (1,450 kilograms) of science, hardware and crew supplies.

NASA recently awarded contracts to SpaceX and The Boeing Company to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station with the goal of certifying those transportation systems in 2017. Currently, NASA relies on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to launch astronauts to and from the space station.

Republic Airways signs landing gear maintenance contract

TAT Technologies Ltd., a leading provider of services and products to the commercial and military aerospace and ground defense industries, announced Sunday that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Piedmont Aviation Component Services, has signed a seven year landing gear Maintenance Support Agreement with Republic Airways Holdings, Inc. covering their Embraer E - 175 fleet. The agreement covers the current fleet of 160 aircraft and the total value may exceed $45 million.

"This contract will position us as a world leading maintenance service provider for Embraer E - 170/190 landing gear as the fleet is just entering first wave of major overhaul requirements," said TAT's President and CEO Itsik Maaravi. "The new agreement reinforces TAT's leading position in the regional landing gear maintenance industry, adding new capabilities to our existing product lines, which currently includes ATR 42/72, CRJ 100/200 and Dash 8 aircraft."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Interjet now arriving in Houston

Mexican airline Interjet has formally announced the start of operations for its direct Monterrey - Houston - Monterrey service starting on Oct. 23, with two daily flights Monday through Friday, and one daily flight on Saturdays and Sundays. This new service strengthens the company's plan of expansion and growth, thus consolidating its presence in the American market.

Houston is the main tourist destination in Texas; it's the fourth largest city in the United States and has a substantial medical infrastructure. In addition, it is considered the energy capital of the world, as well as the world's number one city in aerospace development. With world-class museums, shopping centers, an ample hotel offering, Houston is one of the most economically dynamic cities in the country.

Monterrey, for its part, is one of Mexico's most industrially developed cities, and one of the country's main centers of business, with significant hotel infrastructure.

"The City of Monterrey is extremely important to the Houston region for both economic and cultural reasons and this new nonstop flight makes it easier for our residents to strengthen business ties and maintain close connections with family and friends," says Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

With the opening up of this destination, Interjet will be servicing five major cities in the United States, thus allowing it to consolidate commercial and tourist ties between this key U.S. region and Mexico.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pilot in stable condition after plane crash off Miami Beach

The U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities are responding to the report of a Cessna aircraft that crashed, Saturday, approximately 200 yards from Miami Beach, Fla.

The Coast Guard received a call from the Miami Beach Police Department at approximately 2:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday, reporting a down aircraft with one person aboard approximately 200 yards from 45th Street and Collins Ave in Miami Beach.

Responding assets are:

  • Coast Guard Station 45-foot Response boat - Medium.
  • Coast Guard Air Station Miami MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew.
  • Miami Beach Police Department.
  • City of Miami Beach Ocean Rescue.

The pilot of the aircraft was rescued by Ocean Rescue crewmembers and transported to awaiting emergency medical services in stable condition.

The plane, a Cessna 305A (tail number N212KY), has been reported as fully submerged and Coast Guard crews are continuing to work all response efforts and mitigation of pollution.