Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Passengers aboard Air Canada flight sent to hospital

Air Canada Flight 088, en route to Toronto from Shanghai, was diverted to Calgary where it landed without incident at 5:23 EST.

Air Canada teams are meeting with passengers. At this time the airline can confirm that passengers and crew have been examined by medical personnel following turbulence encountered en route and 21 passengers have been transferred directly to local hospitals from the airport comprising eight with non-life threatening injuries and 13 for observation. Air Canada will be making arrangements to accommodate all other passengers including those continuing on to Toronto.

The passenger list indicates the Boeing 777-300ER was carrying 332 passengers and 19 crew members.

A full investigation of the incident is being undertaken.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Turn your daily shopping receipts into cash

A fun and rewarding phone app called Receipt Hog can turn your everyday receipts from shopping into cash – no matter where you shop or what you buy.

Shop anywhere. Buy anything. Then take a picture of your receipt with Receipt Hog on your phone.

“Your receipt data along with the answers you provide to optional surveys is made anonymous and summarized in market research reports that brands purchase,” according to the Receipt Hog website. “These companies pay for information such as, 'Families in the Phoenix area are 20 percent more likely than the rest of the United States to shop for laundry detergent at a super center than a traditional grocery store.'" And its not just shopping receipts.

On Tuesday, Receipt Hog announced it now accepts all receipts from restaurants, cafes, and gas-only purchases and rewards users with sweepstakes entries.

Grabbing a pizza for dinner? Filling up the gas tank? Purchasing some new clothes or a new phone? All receipts count and can be converted into cash.

Users can receive their cash by PayPal or in the form of a Amazon gift card once they reach 1,000 coins in the app.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

MDA modifies Boeing contract for Re-designed Kill Vehicle

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) intends to award a modification to the existing Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Development and Sustainment Contract (DSC) to The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Ala.

“This effort is for the acquisition of Re-designed Kill Vehicle (RKV) development including: payload development; payload ground testing; integration with the Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) and GMD Ground System; flight testing; several test assets; and up to eight initial production units,” MDA said in contract documents released Friday. The anticipated period of performance for this effort will be six years, extending the current DSC period by three years, but only for this additional RKV development effort.

Boeing is the designer, developer, manufacturer, and integrator of the GMD GBI. Boeing, along with its RKV Cross-Industry team of sub-contractors, comprised of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, and The Raytheon Company, provide a consolidated product that includes the collective knowledge of all three contractors.

Currently, the GMD system is using a Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) designed to intercept and defend U.S. territory against long-range missile attacks. The new RKV program was hatched following a string of EKV intercept failures.

“The Cross-Industry team will incorporate the most viable technical approaches from each contractor, combining resources that will complement each other's unique capabilities to shorten the learning curve, and reduce the time needed to develop and begin initial production,” MDA said in contract documents.

Air Force Helicopter Maintenance Services contract at four locations

The Specialized Contracting Division at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., intends to solicit competitive proposals to provide Helicopter Maintenance Services at four locations: three state-side Air Force bases and one location overseas at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

The contractor will be responsible for Helicopter Maintenance Services for Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command and the Pacific Command at the following locations for UH-1N model helicopters: Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Minot Air Force Base, N.D., F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., and Yokota Air Base, Japan.

The Helicopter Maintenance Services consist of maintaining mission capable (in serviceable condition, safely operable, and properly configured to meet mission requirements) UH-1N helicopters to support safe operations, exercises, and Search and Rescue Support, off-station aircraft recovery, Aircrew Flight Equipment,  and weapons system maintenance requirements 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Possible breakup of NOAA weather satellite

The U.S. military's Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) is investigating the possible breakup of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather satellite in Earth orbit.

“On 25 November 2015 at 0816z (3:16 a.m. EST) the JSpOC identified a possible breakup of NOAA 16,” officials reported. “All associated objects have been added to conjunction assessment screenings, and satellite operators will be notified of close approaches between the debris and active satellites. The JSpOC will catalog the debris objects as soon as sufficient data is available.”

After more than 13 years of helping predict weather and climate patterns and save lives in search and rescue operations, NOAA announced in June 2014 it had turned off the NOAA 16 Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite. It was one of NOAA's longest operating spacecraft, which have a planned lifespan of three to five years.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Historic vote supports US companies mining on the Moon

History was made Monday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark legislation recognizing and promoting the rights of United States companies to engage in the exploration and extraction of space resources from the Moon and other celestial bodies. This historic legislation was passed as Title IV of the "U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (or H.R. 2262 as amended)", and provides the first ever codification of private sector mining rights for water and minerals obtained from the Moon.

Moon Express, Bigelow Aerospace, and many other companies are applauding the House for the legislation.

"Our goal is to unlock the resources of the Moon for the benefit of humanity, and Moon Express is grateful to have the backing of the United States in our endeavor," said Moon Express co-founder and CEO, Bob Richards. "We thank the House and its visionary champions of the bill led by Majority Leader McCarthy (R-Calf.) and Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) for their leadership and vision in passing this much-needed legislation, and especially wish to thank Representatives Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) for their support."

Moon Express, Inc., is a privately funded commercial space company blazing a trail to the Moon to unlock its mysteries and resources with robotic spacecraft products & services using exponential technologies.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

New Gulfstream G500 joins business aviation convention

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.'s all-new Gulfstream G500 made its first cross-country trip for the 2015 National Business Aviation Association's Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2015). The flight test aircraft arrived at Henderson Executive Airport on Friday to join the G650ER, G550, G450, G280 and G150 in Gulfstream's static display.

The G500 flew from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport into 75-knot headwinds and arrived at Henderson Executive 4 hours and 36 minutes later, accomplishing the 1,630-nautical-mile flight at an average speed of Mach 0.85 and altitude of 45,000 feet. Gulfstream test pilots Scott Martin and Scott Evans were at the controls, with Flight Test engineers Paul Ludlow and Nathaniel Rutland providing on-board support.

The G500 flew to Las Vegas with a significant amount of flight testing equipment on board:
  • a noseboom, which provides air data, angle-of-attack and angle-of-sideslip information to the pilots and engineers.
  • Attitude Recovery System (ARS) safety equipment for high-speed flutter testing and low-speed stall testing.
  • data-monitoring system that provides real-time data for engineers on board and in the telemetry room.
  • a video recording system that captures touchscreen commands and flight-deck footage as well as external footage of the landing gear, trailing cone and ARS.
  • flutter vanes on the wing and horizontal tips.
The first G500 test aircraft, T1, is focused on flight performance and controls and has achieved a number of flight-test milestones since its first flight on May 18. The aircraft has flown more than 160 hours, completed 44 flights and reached an altitude exceeding 50,000 ft. Its longest flight was 5 hours and 22 minutes. T1 has reached a top speed of Mach 0.995. Flutter and envelope expansion testing are in progress, and initial testing of the aircraft's handling qualities and the high-speed and recovery stall system have also taken place.

In total, the G500 flight-test program consists of five aircraft, including a fully outfitted production aircraft that allows the company to test all the interior elements and complete integration of the aircraft systems with the passenger experience. T2 and T3 have been delivered to the Flight Test facility and are preparing for first flight.

Gulfstream anticipates certification of the G500 in 2017, with entry into service in 2018. Lab testing for the G600 is ongoing in Gulfstream's integration test facility, with certification slated for 2018 and entry into service in 2019.

Friday, November 13, 2015

NASA seeks new director at Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA has named Todd May acting director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., as the agency continues the process of looking for a permanent director.

Patrick Scheuermann, who served as the Marshall director since September 2012, is retiring from the agency, effective Friday. His retirement caps a 27-year career with NASA that began in 1988 as a propulsion test engineer at the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.

May was appointed Marshall deputy director in August, and previously served as manager of the Space Launch System (SLS) Program since August 2011. May led the SLS Program through a series of milestones, including engine tests and a successful, in-depth critical design review. SLS, now under development, will be the most powerful rocket ever built, able to carry astronauts in NASA's Orion spacecraft on deep space missions, including to an asteroid and ultimately on a journey to Mars.

May's NASA career began in 1991, working in the Materials and Processes Laboratory at Marshall. He was deputy program manager of the Russian Integration Office in the International Space Station Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in 1994, and worked on the team at Marshall that developed and launched the Gravity Probe B mission to test Einstein's Theory of Relativity in 2004. That same year he assumed management of the Discovery and New Frontiers Programs, created to explore the solar system with frequent unmanned spacecraft missions.

May moved to NASA Headquarters in Washington in 2007 as a deputy associate administrator in the Science Mission Directorate. Returning to Marshall in June 2008, May was named Marshall's associate director, Technical, a post he held until being named SLS program manager.

The SLS Program is managed at Marshall, one of NASA's largest field installations, with almost 6,000 civil service and contractor employees, an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion and a broad spectrum of science and technological missions.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Video: Launch of GPS IIF-11 satellite

The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing supported the launch of a Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Saturday. GPS IIF-11 was the 16th launch this year for the wing.

The integrated team is currently preparing GPS IIF-12, the last model of the series, for launch in early 2016. An Airmen-led processing team at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., has processed every launch of the series since GPS IIF-1 launched in May 2010.

According to the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, the GPS constellation is healthy, stable and robust with two GPS IIAs, 12 GPS IIRs, seven GPS IIR-Ms, and 10 GPS IIF satellites on orbit providing precise global positioning, navigation, and timing services to users around the globe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Military blimp JLENS has detached from tether, floating over US

A tethered military airship has detached from its mooring station in Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., military officials reported on Wednesday.

The unmanned blimp, known as JLENS (which is short for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System), is helium filled, each nearly as long as a football field, carry powerful radars that can protect a territory roughly the size of Texas from airborne threats.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command is working with interagency partners to address a safe recovery of the aerostat, the agency said on Twitter.

Coast Guard search for missing aircraft in Mississippi

The U.S. Coast Guard and local agencies continue their search on Wednesday for the three people who were aboard a Lancair single-engine plane missing near Pascagoula, Miss.

Rescue crews continue their search for Dexter Brewer, Gerald Miletello and Ron Gregory, who were aboard the plane that lost radar contact shortly after take-off from Gulfport on Monday evening. Response crews have covered more than 1,200 square miles in their search efforts.

Coast Guard Sector Mobile were notified at approximately 10:40 p.m., Monday, by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center that the single-engine plane lost radar contact shortly after take-off from Gulfport.

Involved in the search is:

  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans.
  • HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft crews from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Alabama.
  • 24-foot Special Purpose Craft—Shallow Water boatcrews from Coast Guard Station Pascagoula.
  • Small boat crews from Coast Guard Station Gulfport.
  • Mississippi Department of Marine Resources boatcrews.
  • Jackson County Sheriff’s Department boatcrews.
  • A Chevron private helicopter crew.

Interior Department buys Cessna 206 aircraft

The Department of the Interior (DOI), National Park Service, purchased a used turbo Cessna 206 plane for use in Grand Canyon National Park, according to contract documents released Monday. The DOI purchased the aircraft from Wipaire Inc. of St. Paul, Minn., for $300,000.

The National Park Service uses the aircraft (tail number N9853Z) to perform law enforcement patrols, wildland fire reconnaissance, search and rescue, wildlife surveys, and the transportation of passengers and cargo. The plane was manufactured in 1983.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Phase one complete for remote tower at Leesburg Executive Airport

Today marks a significant milestone in the Leesburg Airport Remote Tower Demonstration Program. The first phase of the demonstration is reaching its conclusion, after which the partnership will have collected data during a four-month passive monitoring phase.

Saab has pioneered the development of remote tower systems and technologies in cooperation with air traffic controllers and air navigation service providers around the world, paving the way for more efficient, safe and cost-effective delivery of air traffic control services.

To support the introduction of this new technology in the United States, Saab has partnered with Leesburg Executive Airport to demonstrate remote tower technologies at the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Virginia Department of Aviation and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) are serving in advisory roles in the program. In addition, both the FAA and NATCA are providing controllers in support of data collection activities.

The demonstration is being conducted in two phases; it started in August, and will carry through mid-2016 with the goal to achieve FAA approval, per their Safety Management System requirements, to operate a remote tower at non towered airports.

With the phase-one milestone now achieved, the data will be analyzed and form the basis of a report to be presented to the FAA for approval in order to move on to the next phase of the demonstration.

"We look forward to starting the next phase of the demonstration, which will include active controlling at Leesburg Airport,” said Mike Gerry, president and CEO of Saab Sensis Corp., one of the partners in the Leesburg demonstration.

Monday, October 19, 2015

JetPurple Airwayz plans mega expansion

JetPurple Airwayz announced a mega-expansion plan Monday to offer luxury class, non-stop flight service between Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., San Diego, Calif., Las Vegas and Rocky Point, Sonora, Mexico and from Los Angeles/Burbank, Calif., to three Asian destinations, starting in 2016.

JetPurple says it plans to offer regularly-scheduled public charter first and business class only flight service at fares less than other carriers flying identical routes. The company says it plans to offer free checked luggage, complimentary meals, snacks, beverages and in-flight entertainment and free parking at private terminals, where passengers can avert long lines at Transportation Security Administration security check points.

The announcement comes two days after US Airways shut-down its Phoenix offices and officially merged with American Airlines, which could mean a reduction of flights from Sky Harbor International Airport, Ariz.

The company, which successfully operated public charter flights from Midway Airport, Chicago to gaming destinations in Michigan, says it now plans to create its own fleet of Boeing 737-800-BBJ (Boeing Business Jets) and Airbus ATR-42 Turbos.

JetPurple Airwayz says it will offer an unparalleled in-flight experience between Arizona and California, Nevada and Puerto Penasco, Sonora Mexico and from Los Angeles/Burbank Airport, Calif., to Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; and Singapore International Airports.

"JetPurple Airwayz is planning to purchase one or more Boeing 737-800-BBJ (Boeing Business Jets) featuring first class and business class cabins with a maximum 40 seat configuration," says President and CEO Adam Blumenkranz.

On JetPurple's proposed four weekly Arizona to Vegas, San Diego and Mexico flights, the company says it plans on flying new Airbus ATR-42 twin turbo-prop planes featuring 30-seats in its first and business only class cabins, according to Blumenkranz.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Navy orders Bell 407 helicopters to support production of Fire Scout

Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., intends to issue a definitive, commercial contract on a sole source basis to Bell Helicopter of Hurst, Texas, for the production and delivery of two Bell 407 analog helicopters with an option to buy three Bell 407 digital (GX) and/or analog helicopters as available. “This Bell 407 helicopter procurement will support production of the MQ-8C Fire Scout Endurance Upgrade Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS),” the Navy said in contract documents released Friday.

The Bell 407 helicopter was selected by Northrop Grumman Corp. for inclusion in the MQ-8C Fire Scout UAS design. “It is the only known system configuration that meets the minimum requirements for production of the MQ-8C Fire Scout,” the Navy said. “Bell Helicopter is the Original Equipment Manufacturer of the commercial Bell 407 helicopter and the only known supplier of the air vehicle.”

Video: Second F-35C developmental test phase complete

The F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force completed its second F-35C developmental test (DT-II) phase Saturday. DT-II was conducted aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). During the tests, the team completed 66 catapults and 66 arrestments across 17 flights, logged 26.5 flight hours and achieved a total of 280 flight test points and 17 logistics test and evaluation test points. The testing was completed six days ahead of schedule.

Pennsylvania gambling tables revenue up 11 percent in September

Gross revenue from gambling at table games in Pennsylvania casinos during September was 11.34 percent higher than last year, according to figures released Friday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The board's report shows that September gross table games revenue was $65,917,113 compared to $59,203,617 in revenue produced by the 12 casinos during September 2014.

Total tax revenue from table games play during September was $9,466,444 with an average of 1,140 tables in operation statewide on a daily basis.

The uptick in table games revenue along with a four percent increase in slots for September reported early this month resulted in an overall gaming revenue increase for the month of 5.85 percent.

Avcorp awarded Lockheed Martin F-35 contract

Avcorp Industries Inc. announced Thursday it has been awarded its first purchase contract from Lockheed Martin. The scope of this agreement will complement Avcorp's existing manufacturing of the F-35 Carrier Variant (CV) Outboard Wing (OBW) integrated assembly.  Avcorp has been manufacturing OBW assemblies under a long-term contract with BAE Systems since 2011. The additional Lockheed Martin purchase contract will begin with production in the second quarter 2016 and first deliveries in the third quarter.

Avcorp is currently a single-source supplier to BAE Systems for the manufacture and assembly of the CV OBW main structure, The OBW structure is comprised of titanium, aluminum and composite structure sub-assemblies as well as numerous components for a variety of hydraulic and avionic sub-systems. The Lockheed Martin new scope includes paint preparation work as well as the installation of control surfaces and systems such as the outboard leading edge flaps, ailerons, fairings and sub-systems. The OBW will continue to be delivered directly to Lockheed Martin's Final Assembly and Check Out facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The Joint Strike Fighter Program is forecasting the additional production of over 300 F-35 CV aircraft over the next 20-25 years.

Potential habitability of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has begun returning its best-ever views of the northern extremes of Saturn's icy, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus. The spacecraft obtained the images during its Wednesday flyby, passing 1,142 miles (1,839 kilometers) above the moon's surface. Mission controllers say the spacecraft will continue transmitting images and other data from the encounter for the next several days.

Scientists expected the north polar region of Enceladus to be heavily cratered, based on low-resolution images from the Voyager mission, but the new high-resolution Cassini images show a landscape of stark contrasts. "The northern regions are crisscrossed by a spidery network of gossamer-thin cracks that slice through the craters," said Paul Helfenstein, a member of the Cassini imaging team at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. "These thin cracks are ubiquitous on Enceladus, and now we see that they extend across the northern terrains as well."

Cassini's next encounter with Enceladus is planned for Oct. 28, when the spacecraft will come within 30 miles (49 km) of the moon's south polar region. During the encounter, Cassini will make its deepest-ever dive through the moon's plume of icy spray, sampling the chemistry of the extraterrestrial ocean beneath the ice. Mission scientists are hopeful data from that flyby will provide evidence of how much hydrothermal activity is occurring in the moon's ocean, along with more detailed insights about the ocean's chemistry -- both of which relate to the potential habitability of Enceladus.

Cassini's final close Enceladus flyby will take place on Dec. 19, when the spacecraft will measure the amount of heat coming from the moon's interior. The flyby will be at an altitude of 3,106 miles (4,999 km).

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The Cassini imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Norsat awarded $2.7 million VSAT terminals order

Norsat International Inc. announced Thursday that it was awarded a $2.7 million contract from a major U.S. military contractor for its Ku-Band and Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS)-certified X-Band marine VSAT terminals.

Amiee Chan, president and chief executive officer of Norsat, commented, "The reliability of our products in remote and challenging environments, such as maritime operations, continues to be a significant market opportunity for Norsat. This contract complements our expanding backlog of satellite orders and improves upon our long-term visibility. We believe there are additional opportunities that lie ahead for us in this market."

Under the agreement, Norsat will supply its MarineLink COM12 1.2m and MarineLink COM15X 1.5m dual antenna maritime VSAT terminals to support sea-borne communications. Norsat's newest generation of MarineLink COM terminals provide the most reliable high throughput satellite communications available in the market today for maritime vessels, including naval ships. Additionally, Norsat's proprietary Low Noise Block downconverters (LNB) and class-leading efficient ATOM Block Upconverters (BUC) will be integrated into the MarineLink terminals.

Both the COM12 and COM15X include Norsat's latest technical upgrades such as heavy-duty industrial grade motors, advanced high-speed acceleration and braking, high gain and low-loss antenna and RF filter chain, and conformance to military standards for high impact shock, vibration, and Electromagnetic Compatibility (MIL-STD-901D, MIL-STD-167, MIL-STD-461 for EMC). In addition, the COM15X will be officially going through ARSTRAT's WGS certification process. WGS certification gives the COM15X permission to operate on the high-capacity WGS satellite constellation controlled and operated by the U.S. government. Due to ARSTRAT's WGS certification timing requirements, Norsat expects to begin delivery on the MarineLink terminals in Q4 2016.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Video: U-2 Programmed Depot Maintenance

The U-2 Dragon Lady goes through Lockheed Martin Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM) every 4,800 flight hours or every seven years. PDM involves the complete disassembly, inspection, repair and reassembly of the entire aircraft; ensuring its longevity and ability to fly at today's record-high operational rates. This thorough maintenance allows Lockheed Martin to collect data on airframe integrity, confirming that nearly 80 percent lifespan remains on the aircraft.

The U-2 collects critical targets no other platform can, flying faster, deeper and with greater reliability compared to any high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance aircraft since the SR-71.

University of Maryland flies high with 50th balloon launch

On Saturday, the University of Maryland (UMD) Maryland Space Grant Consortium Balloon Payload Team celebrated its 50th tracked high-altitude balloon launch. Since the program began in 2003, there have been 49 tracked balloon launches that took student-designed and built payloads to the edge of space.

The Maryland Space Grant Consortium Balloon Payload Program (BPP) provides easy access to "near-space" for students who cannot afford a launch vehicle.

Students use helium-filled weather balloons to lift small payloads--cargoes tethered below the balloon--to the edge of the atmosphere. The balloons reach up to 85,000-100,000 feet in altitude, and at that height, payloads experience space-like conditions in terms of pressure, temperature, and radiation environment.

Saturday's launch from the Claud E. Kitchens Outdoor School at Fairview in Clear Spring, Md., included six payloads engineered by University of Maryland and Capitol Technology University students. During the flight, the balloon reached an altitude of 94,000 feet and covered approximately 50 miles from the ascent location to the payload landing site.

The payloads performed experiments both on the way up and on the way down, and are designed to perform tasks such as collecting atmospheric data and visual imaging transmission to materials testing and telemetry and tracking.

Maryland is one of only a small number of universities nationwide to successfully launch and track so many balloons.

Developing the projects requires students to learn skills in a variety of different areas--such as electronic circuits, thermal design, structures, sensors and 3-D printing--as well as teamwork to pull off the final project.

50th Balloon Launch Payloads

Command Module
The Command Module (CMD) is the main tracking and telemetry system for the Balloon Payload Program. Redesigned into its 5th version for this launch, the module improves and enhances all three major payload subsystems: electronics, structure, and power.

Host Payload for B.A.D.A.S.S.
Host Payload is a testbed for the use of advanced materials and manufacturing processes in payload construction, provides high resolution video throughout the flight, and it is testing a new generation of electronics called Balloonduino. Host payload will be the first payload of the Balloon Attitude Determination and Stabilization System, slated to fly next semester and provide stabilization during the rigorous motion of balloon flight.

Bach's Box Weather Payload
Bach's Optic Box can sense temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, UV intensity and dust in the air. The box will measure ozone as it rises. The goal is to correlate changes in UV intensity and dust in the atmosphere as the balloon enters the stratosphere. The payload also experiments with a GoPro to take still images instead of video.

WhiteBox houses experimental technologies for the Balloon Payload Program. This marks its second flight, and includes 900 MHz radios tested for data transmission capabilities of images. One radio band will send periodic images during flight and the other will send XBee and telemetry data. Students review data received on the ground at tracking stations in the chase vans for further analysis.

SPECTREv.4 Solar Cell Module
The latest in the SPECTRE series, v.4 features a 3-D printed chassis with eight solar panels. The objective of this flight is to determine the in-flight recharge capabilities of these lightweight solar panels. Past flights studied the solar panels' voltage outputs with respect to altitude and yielded encouraging results. This version will begin testing the end-goal of SPECTRE: increasing battery life while reducing payload weight.

TrapSat from Capitol Tech University
This payload is a prototype of a CubeSat that uses a block of silica aerogel to capture microdebris in orbit. It is also testing an innovative hinged, Nichrome-activated lid that will protect the aerogel until the lid opens after reaching the desired altitude.

Number of teens killed in car crashes drops dramatically

An Erie Insurance analysis of teen driving data finds the number of teens killed in car crashes has dropped dramatically over the past several years. Erie reviewed data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on the number of teens who died in crashes when a teen was driving. The data showed that 4,216 teens died in such crashes in 2007 compared with 2,142 who died in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. The total number of fatalities includes both teen drivers and passengers.

Despite the drop, driving remains a dangerous activity for teens, with the teen driving death rate 15 percent higher than adults, Erie said in a company press release. Accidents remain the leading cause of death among teens.

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concludes that graduated driver licensing laws, which phase in driving privileges over time as teens gain more experience, is one reason for the improved safety record, and that stronger GDL laws would lead to even more improvements.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Babcock Canada awarded contract to replace HF Monitor Receiver systems

BabcockCanada Inc. announced Tuesday that it has been awarded a $1.6 million contract for the replacement of High Frequency (HF) Monitor Receiver Systems at select Department of National Defence (DND) facilities.

The work to be performed consists of the replacement of legacy HF Monitor Receiver systems at six DND stations and two support facilities across Canada. These receiver systems are in place to guard and monitor various key HF frequencies that are used for aircraft radio communications, namely in support of search and rescue operations, arctic patrol and global transport flights. In addition to equipment modernization, Babcock Canada will also deliver associated console operator and technician training for the new systems. The contract is scheduled to be completed by July 31, 2016.

Babcock has over 70 years of experience in managing communications systems, specializing in delivering high frequency military communication solutions for international armed forces and NATO. Babcock's innovative technical solutions are at the forefront of new technology across the radio frequency spectrum, from very low frequency to super high frequency.

Video: NASA Langley Director, 'Get out of people's way'

Dave Bowles took over as NASA Langley Research Center Director in March. He recently sat down for a chat that touched on everything from his background to his leadership style.

India orders 22 Apache and 15 Chinook helicopters

The India Ministry of Defence has finalized its order with Boeing for production, training and support of Apache and Chinook helicopters that will greatly enhance India's capabilities across a range of military and humanitarian missions.

India will receive 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. Both are the newest models of those aircraft.

"Large sections of the Chinook fuselage are already manufactured in India and discussions are ongoing with our Indian partners to make Apache parts,” said Pratyush Kumar, president, Boeing India.

The AH-64E Apache, the most modern variant also flown by the U. S. Army, features enhanced performance, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding.

The CH-47F Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter operated by the U.S. Army and 18 other defense forces.

India is the 14th nation to select the Apache and the 19th nation to select the Chinook.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Xtronaut: The game of solar system exploration

A University of Arizona professor has combined his expertise in space mission planning and technology with his passion for strategy gaming to create Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration.
The Xtronaut game, developed by Professor Dante Lauretta, captures the various challenges and excitement of planning a space mission. Lauretta co-founded Xtronaut Enterprises with space entrepreneur Michael Lyon to increase awareness of NASA's asteroid sample return mission named OSIRIS-REx.

In 2011, NASA selected the asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx – a $1 billion mission to send a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid named "Bennu", collect a sample of the asteroid, and return to Earth. Unfortunately, the education outreach budget for OSIRIS-REx was eliminated in 2013. In response, mission leader Dante Lauretta and space entrepreneur Michael Lyon founded Xtronaut Enterprises to develop innovative activities associated with space exploration.

Xtronaut gives two to four players ages seven and up the chance to develop space missions and explore the solar system. The game is based on real planetary missions and rocket science. It also contains elements of politics and strategy that are inspired by the real-life situations that space missions face. The game has been tested with players that range from elementary school students to graduate students in planetary sciences and mission scientists.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Modern Technology Solutions awarded Air Force ISR contract

Modern Technology Solutions Inc. (MTSI), Alexandria, Va., has been awarded a $25 million Small Business Innovation Research III sole-source contract for the Rapid Intelligence Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Technology Integration Program effort.

MTSI will extend the sensor resource management system developed in Phase I for the Missile Defense Agency and apply it to the integration of air, ground and space sensor systems and their associated platforms to provide ISR data products.

The work will be performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; and Alexandria, Va., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 17, 2019.

The Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, managed the contract award.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

F-35 mid-range cruise missile contract signed

Lockheed Martin and Turkish company Roketsan signed a contract to cooperatively develop the SOM-J missile for integration into the F-35 internal weapons bay. SOM-J is a new generation air-to-surface standoff cruise missile.

The contract enables the companies to move forward with their Technical Assistance Agreement, making the SOM-J missile available to international customers. SOM-J integration into the F-35 is scheduled for Block 4. Early live flight testing will be conducted on Turkish F-16s.

"SOM-J integration on the F-35 will enable pilots to engage targets from long ranges while maintaining the aircraft's critical stealth capabilities," said Frank St. John, vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

SOM missile development began in 2006 and entered service with the Turkish Air Force in 2011. SOM-J is a smaller version of the subsonic SOM missile, which employs a 500-pound warhead and has a required range of more than 100 nautical miles. The SOM-J missile uses Global Positioning System as its primary guidance and is aided by inertial, terrain-referenced and image-based navigation systems, as well as an imaging infrared seeker.

In August, the F-35 Joint Program Office announced plans to issue a contract to Lockheed Martin to deliver a report which determines the design impacts of a proposed change on the overall F-35 weapon system, to include Mission Planning, Training and Reprogramming capabilities.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

NASA awards AWD Management Services $73 million contract

NASA has awarded AWD Management Services, Inc., of Lawrenceville, Ga., a five-year contract to provide administrative and secretarial support services at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. The contract is titled JSC Administrative Support Services II (JASS II).

The contract is valued at $73 million, with a period of performance from Nov. 1, through May 31, 2020.

Work under the contract will be performed at Johnson Space Center, the Sonny Carter Training Facility, Ellington Field, White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M., and other NASA operating locations.

Monday, September 14, 2015

SkyWest orders 18 Embraer 175 jets

Embraer announced Monday that it has signed a firm order with SkyWest, Inc. for 18 E175 jets. The order, which will be included in Embraer's 2015 third-quarter backlog, has an estimated value of $800 million, based on the current list price. The aircraft will be operated by SkyWest Airlines, under an amendment to an existing Capacity Purchase Agreement with United Airlines.

With this new 18 aircraft purchase, the total number of SkyWest E175 firm orders reached 73 units of this model.

Delivery of the first aircraft is expected in 2016. The E175s are configured in a dual class 76-seat layout, equipped with 12 First Class seats, 16 Economy Plus seats, and 48 Economy seats, and will operate under the United Express brand.

The E175s feature a new wingtip that, among other technical enhancements, improves aerodynamic performance. Fuel consumption on a typical flight is 6.4 percent lower than first-generation E175s. In the last two years, the E175 has captured over 80 percent of orders among aircraft in its class from airlines in the United States.

SkyWest is the holding company for two scheduled passenger airline operations and an aircraft leasing company and is headquartered in St. George, Utah. SkyWest's airline companies provide commercial air service in cities across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean with more than 3,500 flights and a fleet of 678 aircraft. SkyWest Airlines operates through partnerships with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. ExpressJet Airlines operates through partnerships with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Video: Atlas V rocket launches MUOS-4 military satellite

Pennsylvania State Police investigated 664 crashes during Labor Day weekend

Nine people were killed and 230 others were injured in the 664 crashes investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police during the four-day Labor Day holiday weekend driving period.

The official holiday driving period was Friday through Monday. During that time, troopers cited 910 individuals for not wearing seat belts and issued citations to 211 motorists for not securing children in safety seats.

Troopers also issued 13,806 speeding citations and arrested 513 operators for driving under the influence. Of the 664 crashes investigated by State Police, 63 of those crashes, including two of the fatal crashes, were alcohol related.

During last year's four-day Labor Day holiday driving period, 13 people died and 211 others were injured in 686 crashes to which state troopers responded.

The statistics cover only those crashes investigated by state police and do not include statistics on incidents to which other law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania responded.

Smisek steps down from United Airlines

United Continental Holdings, Inc. announced Tuesday that it has named Oscar Munoz as president and chief executive officer. Munoz will also continue to serve on United's board of directors. The board appointed Henry Meyer III, United's lead independent director, to serve as non-executive chairman of the board of directors. The company also announced that Jeff Smisek has stepped down from his roles as chairman, president and chief executive officer, and as a director. These changes are effective immediately.

Munoz brings to this role deep and broad experience in the transportation industry and large consumer brands including AT&T, Pepsico and The Coca-Cola Company. He most recently served as president and chief operating officer of CSX Corp.

"Oscar's track record demonstrates that he has the right blend of strategic vision and strong leadership to continue United's upward trajectory,” said Henry Meyer. “United is well positioned to continue executing on its strategic plan to further improve performance and the value and service it provides to its customers.”

"United has an incredible opportunity for improving an experience that is essential to the vitality of global business and to the personal lives of millions of people," said Munoz.

Prior to joining United Airlines, Munoz served as president and chief operating officer of CSX Corp., a premier transportation company. Munoz also served as a director at CSX. During Munoz's tenure, CSX transformed itself into an industry leader in customer focus, reliability and financial performance. CSX was named one of Institutional Investor's Most Honored Companies for a decade of excellent financial performance, including increasing its operating income by nearly 600 percent.

He has served on the board of directors for United Continental Holdings, Inc. since 2010 and served on the board of directors of Continental Airlines, Inc. since 2004. Munoz is active in several industry coalitions and philanthropic and educational organizations including the University of North Florida's board of trustees and the PAFA advisory board of Vanderbilt University.

Munoz graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in business administration, and he received a master's in business administration from Pepperdine University.

The company also announced that its executive vice president of communications and government affairs and its senior vice president of corporate and government affairs have stepped down. The departures announced Tuesday are in connection with the company's previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to cooperate with the government.

The company's internal investigation and the related circumstances do not raise any accounting or financial reporting concerns, United said,

Monday, September 7, 2015

Video: First flight of internationally produced F-35A

Test pilot Bill "Gigs" Gigliotti piloted the first flight of the F-35 outside the U.S. on Monday near the Cameri, Italy, Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility. Aircraft AL-1 was also produced at the FACO facility, making it the first-ever internationally produced F-35A.

Galileo navigation satellites five and six ready for launch

The 12th Soyuz rocket to be launched from French Guiana is now in the launch zone following rollout in preparation for liftoff to place two more European Galileo navigation satellites in orbit.

The fifth and sixth Full Operational Capability (FOC) spacecraft in Europe’s Galileo navigation program, designated “Alba” and “Oriana,” will ride into orbit during the mission known as Flight VS12.

These satellites were built by OHB System, with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. supplying their navigation payloads.

The European Commission is managing and funding Galileo’s FOC phase – during which the network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure is being deployed. The European Space Agency has been delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf.

Galileo is Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. It is interoperable with the Global Positioning System and Glonass, the U.S. and Russian global satellite navigation systems.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Air Force searching for World War II B-25 to train test pilots

The Air Force Test Center (AFTC) Contracting Directorate at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is looking for a World War II B-25 bomber to help train test pilots, according to contract documents released Friday.

“The objective of this program is to provide test pilot training (not initial or recurring training) for up to 50 U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) students and staff members through up to two Qualitative Evaluation (QE) deployments per year,” Air Force officials said in contract documents. “Additional aircrew or passengers (such as photographers) may be added at the discretion of the TPS Program Manager, with concurrence of the contractor. This training is expected to be conducted at Edwards Air Force Base. There will usually be 5-10 QE flights per deployment, and deployment durations are expected to be one-two weeks."

The contractor shall provide a B-25 aircraft with all required equipment operative and in good working order. The primary objective of the program is to demonstrate flying characteristics of World War II bombers, with a focus on the suitability. Some operational tasks (such as max-performance takeoffs and simulated bombing runs) will be performed by the students in addition to typical performance and flying qualities flight test techniques.

Companies interested in supporting the program should contact the AFTC Contracting Squadron at Edwards AFB no later than Sept. 17.