Friday, March 31, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - March 31, 2017

March 31, 2017

The Trump administration's nominee for Secretary of the Air Force, former Rep. Heather Wilson, has come out during Congressional testimony as being in favor of continuing current production plans for the F-35 fighter.

A new report by the Project on Government Oversight has compiled a list of reported deficiencies from the F-35 program, spanning the past two years.  Critics of the report, however, have pointed out that it is a decidedly one-sided document.

U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs have been deployed for exercises in South Korea for the first time.

Boeing has launched a campaign to market the F/A-18E/F as an alternative to the F-35C in U.S. Navy service.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan will be retiring as the director of the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office.  He is expected to be replaced by his deputy, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mathias Winter.

The White House has informed Congress of a proposed sale of 19 F-16C/D fighters to Bahrain.

Despite reports in the Russian press suggesting that a deal was imminent, India and Russia have failed to close on an agreement for India's continued participation in the Russian PAK-FA stealth fighter program.  The deal has reportedly fallen apart over India's insistence on the transfer of key technologies as part of the arrangement.

China is expected to officially commission its second aircraft carrier, and the first to be built locally by China, next month.

Japan and the UK have reached an agreement to explore options for jointly developing a next generation stealth fighter.  Japan has already entered a flight test program for a technology demonstrator, labeled the X-2 or "Shinshin," aimed at integrating a number of core fighter technologies.

Germany has approved funding for its Future Combat Air System, which is expected to consist of a combination of manned and unmanned platforms, possibly including a future stealth fighter jet.  The FCAS would become operational in the post-2030 timeframe.

The U.S. Air Force continues to weigh proposals for developing a sixth generation fighter jet, to be introduced sometime around 2030.

Pilots from both Israel and the United Arab Emirates are expected to participate in a combat exercise over Greece, which will also feature aircraft from Italy and the United States.  Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations with the UAE.  This is the second time, however, that aircraft from the two nations have participated in joint exercises together.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Space Highlights - March 30, 2017

March 30, 2017

A refurbished Falcon 9 rocket is expected  to launch the SES-10 communications satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit later this week.  This will mark the first time that a refurbished Falcon 9 has been reused to launch a satellite.

Europe's Arianespace has shelved indefinitely any further launch attempts, due to a workers' strike at their French Guiana launch facility.

The U.S. Air Force's GEO-3 satellite has returned images for the first time, after being launched in January aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster.  The GEO satellites are intended to act as missile launch warning sentinels, tracking the launch of ballistic missiles and rockets worldwide using infrared imaging.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin has won this year's Collier Trophy, which is awarded each year by the National Aeronautic Association, in recognition of the most outstanding aeronautical achievement of the previous year.

The European Space Agency has down-selected the preferred landing site for its ExoMars rover to one of two locations.  The ExoMars rover is expected to arrive at the red planet in 2021.

A new study suggests that the axial tilt of the dwarf planet Ceres will be heavily influenced over time by the gravitational effects of Jupiter - making it less likely that water ice might still exist at the surface in its shadowed, polar regions.

NASA has released a new composite image highlighting Pluto's atmosphere, back-lit by the sun, as captured by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wide Body Report - March 29, 2017

March 29, 2017

United Airlines has upgraded its Hong Kong-San Francisco route with an updated Boeing 777 layout featuring its new business class, called Polaris, and phasing out first class service.

Boeing has targeted March 31st for the first flight of its 787-10 model - the largest member of the 787 Dreamliner family.

Boeing has increased the list price for its 787 Dreamliner by 2.2 percent - the first such increase since July 2015.

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 has become the first A350-900 to arrive in Canada on a revenue flight, connecting Hong Kong to Vancouver.

Another Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 arrived in Brisbane for the first time this past week, inaugurating service with the type between Hong Kong and Brisbane, Australia.

Vietnam Airlines has introduced the Airbus A350-900 on its Hanoi to Tokyo route.

Airbus has completed high elevation testing aboard their A350-1000 prototype.  Prototype MSN71 conducted the tests as part of its first Latin America tour.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Single Aisle News - March 28, 2017

March 28, 2017

A Bombardier CS100 has completed a non-stop trans-Atlantic flight connecting London City Airport to New York City for the first time.  The FTV2 flight test aircraft was configured to simulate the weight and range of the 40-passenger, all-business class arrangement proposed for regular flights along this route.  The flight capped a series of steep approach tests being conducted to certify the airplane for the downtown London airport, where strict noise regulations have prevented other aircraft from offering service on this route.

A fourth Embraer E190-E2 prototype has joined the flight test program, as Embraer pushes closer to certification.

Despite winning praise from airlines for delivering on its promise of exceptional fuel performance, the A320 NEO continues to suffer from issues with its Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines.

Indigo has set a 30,000 ft altitude limit on its A320 NEO fleet to reduce strain on its engines.

Malaysia's Malindo Air has been announced as the launch operator for the Boeing 737 MAX-8.

Bank of China's BOC Aviation has placed an order for 13 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

China expects to fly its C919 prototype for the first time in April, following successful taxi tests earlier this month

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - March 23, 2017

March 23, 2017

A preliminary report is expected in the next few weeks on a proposed fix for the F-35C's nose gear issues, which have made catapult launches unsafe for lightly loaded aircraft.

Shay Assad, the Pentagon's Director of Defense Pricing has announced plans for a major review of the F-35 program costs, with an emphasis on finding new cost saving opportunities.

The Russian Air Force expects to begin receiving the first six production copies of the PAK-FA later this year.

The U.S. Air Force is beginning to evaluate proposals for retiring some of its oldest F-15C/D fighters in the mid-2020s.

Chinese air traffic controllers issued warnings to U.S. B-1B pilots flying over the East China Sea.  The U.S. deployed the B-1Bs to the area, following North Korean missile tests.  The U.S. has refused to recognize Chinese territorial claims throughout this region.

China's government has registered its continued opposition to proposed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.  This includes the possible sale of jet fighters or jet fighter technology - which the United States had refused to sell to Taiwan under the previous administration.

Chinese officials continue to suggest that strides are being made towards developing a domestically produced, Chinese jet engine for China's J-20 stealth fighter, although no firm timetables for production have been announced.

France's Rafale fighter is reportedly the leading candidate to replace Malaysia's aging MiG-29 fighter fleet.  The Eurofighter Typhoon, Sweden's Gripen, and Russia's Su-35 are also being offered as contendors.  Malaysia is looking to purchase up to 18 aircraft.

The Philippines expects to receive its final batch of South Korean produced FA-50 fighters in May.  The Philippenes has twelve aircraft on order, and is contemplating a further six.

India expects to receive some 123 domestically produced Tejas fighters by the mid-2020s.  The Tejas Mk1A is currently in production, powered by the GE F404 engine.

Russian news sources have suggested that Russia and India are close to an agreement for the next phase of joint fighter development - aimed at delivering a version of the PAK-FA stealth fighter to India.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Space Highlights - March 22, 2017

March 22, 2017

Small satellite launch start-up Rocket Lab has raised an additional $75 million in venture capital, as it relocates its headquarters in California.

The U.S. Air Force successfully launched a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, carrying the WGS-9 communications satellite.  The night-time satellite launch was also captured from orbit by the GOES-16 weather satellite.

Japan successfully launched the IGS (Information Gathering Satellite), radar surveillance satellite into orbit aboard an H-IIA rocket.  The IGS is intended to provide Japan with space-based intelligence on activities in North Korea and China.

SpaceX launched the EchoStar 23 communications satellite aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center.  Due to the high target orbit - requiring a longer rocket burn - no attempt was made to recover the first stage of the launch booster.

The aluminum wheels on NASA's Curiosity rover are starting to show the wear from their age, after five years on the surface of Mars.

A Finnish film maker has assembled some 50,000 images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to produce a video of the spacecraft's view in orbit around the red planet.

Europe's ExoMars spacecraft has begun lowering its orbit around Mars, as it positions itself to sample the Martian atmosphere for signs of methane.

The European Space Agency has revealed details for its CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite) planet hunter, due to be launched in 2018.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wide Body Report - March 21, 2017

March 21, 2017

Qatar Airways Cargo has taken delivery of its twelfth Boeing 777 freighter.

In response to ongoing financial pressure, much of it driven by unrest in the region and a loss of passenger traffic, Turkish Airlines has deferred deliveries for 17 Boeing aircraft.

After opening an assembly line for the 737 in China, Boeing has been rewarded with additional orders from China's state sponsored airlines, including orders for the 737 and 787.

Cathay Pacific expects to be the first airline to operate the Airbus A350 out of Australia's Perth Airport.

Lufhansa plans to open up flights between Bangkok and Frankfurt aboard the Airbus A380 superjumbo.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Single Aisle News - March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017

Swiss International Airlines has upgraded its remaining five C-Series orders to the larger CS300 model.

Embraer expects to achieve first flight of its E195-E2 prototype in June, several months earlier than expected.

A fourth Mitsubishi Regional Jet prototype, on its way to Washington state for flight test, aborted the second leg of its flight and returned to Hawaii.  No explanation has been provided.

Airbus officials emphasize that the engine issues experienced at IndiGo and GoAir will not affect their aircraft delivery schedule for 2017.

IndiGo is looking to convert some of its A320 NEO orders to the larger A321 NEO model.

Southwest Airlines has scheduled its first Boeing 737 MAX revenue flight for October of 2017.

Boeing has identified a Chinese leasing company as the previously unidentified customer for 30 Boing 737 MAX orders.

United Continental has expressed interest in Boeing's proposed 797, "middle of the market" single-aisle aircraft.  As proposed, the 797 would be a direct replacement for both the 757, and for larger models of the 737.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017

A recently released internal report detailing the participation of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fighters in Red Flag 16-3 has provided a more nuanced view of the performance of the stealth fighter.  While the report noted that "the F-35 was far more survivable then the participating legacy aircraft," it also related that the availability of the airplane was lower than would have been expected: with only 23-percent of the F-35Bs offering full mission capability at any given time.

The U.S. has begun testing the integration of the British made AIM-132 ASRAAM (advanced short range air-to-air missile) and Paveway IV precision-guided bombs with the F-35B.  Both are weapons in service with the Royal Air Force, and which would eventually be deployed aboard British F-35s.

In response to China's growing military capabilities, including the ability to saturation bomb Taiwanese air bases with surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, Taiwan's armed forces have reportedly expressed an interest in procuring a STOVL fighter, such as the F-35B.

Japan has deployed its largest warship, the Izumo "helicopter destroyer" to the South China Sea to join military maneuvers in the area.  The Izumo carries a compliment of up to 14 helicopters, although it would also be capable of deploying the F-35B if Japan chooses to buy the STOVL version of the fighter.

Officials have indicated that the Indian government is not interested in pursuing a follow-on order for the highly expensive Rafale fighter jet.

India's willingness to dedicate additional resources towards an Indian version of Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter continues to hinge on Russia's willingness to share key technologies and to license a local assembly line for the fighter.

Delays in developing a dedicated, next generation engine for Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter continue to highlight Russian technology gaps.  All prototypes of the PAK-FA flown to date have utilized derivatives of the AL-31F engine that first powered the Soviet Union's Su-27 fighter in the 1980s.

Reports from China's state-owned media have reaffirmed that China's J-20 stealth fighter has entered operational service.

Chinese officials have reported that China is nearing flight test of a new, indigenous engine for its J-20 stealth fighter, after having mastered single crystal turbine blade and powdered nickel rotor technology.  All editions of the J-20 flown to date have been powered by Russian-supplied engines.

Boeing has landed a five year contract to support South Korea's F-15K fighters.

Rolls Royce has unveiled plans to establish a facility in Bangalore India for the assembly of jet engines, including military jet engines, as part of a bid to maintain and expand its presence on the subcontinent.

Israeli warplanes were fired upon by Syrian surface-to-air missiles following an operation inside of Syria.  Israeli sources report that one of the Syrian missiles was intercepted by an Israeli anti-ballistic missile system.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Space Highlights - March 16, 2017

March 16, 2017

SpaceX plans to launch the EchoStar 23 communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center later this week.

SpaceX has been awarded a contract, beating out United Launch Alliance to launch a U.S. Air Force Global Positioning satellite into orbit.  This is the second such U.S. Air Force contract awarded to SpaceX.

Poor weather has delayed the launch of a Japanese radar intelligence satellite.  The launch was expected to take place this week aboard a Japanese H-2 rocket, to be launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided new, close-up images of Saturn's small moon, Pan which displays a band of debris collected from Saturn's rings.

The Cassini spacecraft has successfully detected the heat pattern from the sub-surfaced ocean on Saturn's moon Enceladus.

A new documentary on NASA's Curiosity rover was recently released, documenting the spacecraft's first four years on Mars.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been tracking multiple, massive dust storms on the surface of Mars.

A French-Canadian team of researchers have released initial findings from studies of a free-floating exoplanet, some 117 light years away.  The object, with 4 to 7 times the mass of Jupiter, is too small to be a brown dwarf (sub-stellar mass objects that are large enough to briefly ignite deuterium fusion nuclear reactions), but is large enough to emit enough heat energy to be detected by infrared telescopes.

A recent study of distant galaxies suggests that dark matter played a smaller role in the early universe - which would appear to indicate that dark matter took longer to coalesce around galaxies than ordinary matter did.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wide Body Report - March 15, 2017

March 15, 2017

Kuwait Airways has taken delivery of its fifth Boeing 777-300ER.

Cracked tubes in a fuel-oil heat exchanger have been identified as the root cause for a fire aboard a Singapore International Airways Boeing 777 in June 2016.  The fire started two hours into the flight from Singapore to Milan, aboard the airplane's right GE90 engine, and eventually spread to the right wing.  The airplane made a successful emergency landing.

India's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has determined that Air India significantly understated its operating loss for the past three years.  The CAG also reported that during this period, Air India resold five Boeing 777-200ER aircraft to Etihad Airways at well below market value for the used aircraft.

Air Canada has reportedly made a significant profit over the past year, leveraging demand for Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, by reselling its newly delivered 787 aircraft to lessors.

Korean Air has begun service flying the Boeing 787 on domestic routes.

Boeing has reportedly secured an order from an undisclosed, sixth Chinese customer for the 787 Dreamliner.

Malaysia Airlines expects to receive two Airbus A350-900s by year-end.

Airbus' prototype A350-1000 has been undergoing low-speed take-off tests, in support of its year-end certification goal.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Single Aisle News - March 14, 2017

March 14, 2017

Bombardier has delivered its first C-Series of 2017, and its sixth aircraft to be delivered to Swiss International Airlines.  Bombardier officials remain confident that the manufacturer will meet its 2017 delivery goal for the C-Series, despite a slow delivery start this year.

Embraer has rolled out its first E195-E2 prototype.  First flight is expected in the coming months.  The E195-E2 features up to 120 seats in a two-class configuration, or up to 146 seats in an economy configuration, as compare to a maximum of 114 seats for the E190-E2, which is currently in flight test.

Embraer has announced that Azul Brazilian Airlines will be the launch customer for the E195-E2, with delivery to begin in 2019.

Despite delivering better than promised fuel consumption, engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has been scrambling to correct reliability issues on its Geared TurboFan engine, which is offered as one of two options on the Airbus A320 NEO.  Airbus officials report that 42 premature removals of PW1100G engines had occurred as of February 24th, with the majority affecting two Indian carriers.

Qatar Airways' CEO, Akbar Al Baker has revealed that the airline does not expect to recieve its first Airbus A320 NEOs until 2018, due to continued delivery delays.

Boeing has rolled out its first 737 MAX-9 prototype, which is expected to shortly joint the MAX-8 in flight test.

Boeing has received FAA certification for its 737 MAX-8 aircraft, clearing the way for customer deliveries.

Air Lease Corp. has expressed its interest in purchasing Boeing's proposed 737 MAX-10 - a stretched version of its 737 MAX.

China's C919 prototype has entered taxi tests, in preparation for its first flight in coming weeks.

Russia's Irkut is reportedly in talks with Turkish airlines over a possible sale of its MC-21 single-aisle jet.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - March 9, 2017

March 9, 2017

Although the problem has been corrected in later models, early production editions of the F-35 still lack the lightening protection needed to fly during thunderstorms.  This was a shortcoming that recently came to light in Australia, where two early production F-35As had to be grounded from an air show performance due to the possibility of thunderstorms in the area.

Flight tests for the new engine being developed for Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter have reportedly been deferred until 2018.

A flotilla of Chinese war ships passed through the Taiwan straight this past week, on their way towards military maneuvers near a disputed Japanese island.

Japanese warplanes were scrambled to intercept a Chinese bomber near Okinawa this past week.

Speaking aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea, Rear Adm. James Kilby reaffirmed that the United States would maintain its freedom of navigation exercises throughout the South China Sea waters that are being claimed by China.

China has officially affirmed plans to boost military spending in 2017 by 7 percent.

China's second aircraft carrier, the first to be built entirely in China, is expected to be released from dry dock within the next few weeks.  A third, larger Chinese aircraft carrier is already under construction.

Iranian media is claiming that the Qaher 313 fighter, first shown as a fiberglass mock-up some years ago, is expected to enter flight test next year.  The claims have continued to be met with skepticism by technical experts in the West.

The British Ministry of Defense has awarded a series of contracts to deploy an integrated air defense system to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.  The islands were the site of a war between Argentina and the UK in 1982, and are currently home to a squadron of RAF Typhoon fighters.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Space Highlights - March 8, 2017

March 8, 2017

The European Space Agency expects to launch its Sentinel-2B Earth observation satellite later this week.

Space launch start-up Blue Origin has signed its first commercial launch customer, to launch a communications satellite for Eutelsat Communications.  Blue Origin has been funded for the past 16 years by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but has yet to launch a satellite into orbit.

Brazil expects to launch its first independently developed satellite later this month: a communications satellite that is expected to serve both military and civilian customers.

China launched an experimental satellite, labeled KT-2, into a polar orbit this past week aboard a newly developed small solid rocket booster.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided another close-up view of Saturn's moon Enceladus, detailing the icy grooved surface of the frozen moon.

A new study suggests that the ancient surface of Mars once harbored more water than was previously believed, based upon chemical weathering observed in meteorites recovered from Mars.

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has reached the top edge of the crater rim at Endeavour Crater.  Opportunity has now been operating for fourteen years on the surface of the red planet.

The recent discovery of microfossils on Earth, dating back some 3.7 billion years, has bolstered the case that Mars may once have independently developed microbial life.  At the time that these same microfossils - the oldest yet discovered on Earth - would have been deposited, conditions on Mars were much more similar to Earth than they are today, with lakes and seas on the Martian surface.

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter narrowly missed a collision with the Martian moon Phobos this past week.  A last-minute orbital correction succeeded in diverting the spacecraft out of harm's way - a mere seven seconds before a likely collision would have occurred.

Following an energy surge, Japan's space agency has had to shut down two of the cameras on Japan's Venus orbiter.  The problem is believed to be related to exposure to excessive radiation, which has degraded some of the spacecraft's systems.

NASA has released a new set of close-up images of Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere, as captured by the Juno spacecraft.

Researchers have concluded that the bright regions observed by the Dawn spacecraft on the surface of Ceres are most likely the remains of cryovolcanoes that once spewed a salty, water brine onto the surface of the dwarf planet.  The water ice has long since evaporated into space, but the salt deposits remained as markers of where eruptions once occurred.  Estimates suggest that some of these cryovolcanoes must have erupted as recently as four million years ago.

Utilizing data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft, astronomers have identified five new exoplanets, including two in orbit around a star on its way towards becoming a red giant.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Wide Body Report - March 7, 2017

March 7, 2017

The GE90 currently holds the distinction of powering Qatar Airways' Boeing 777-LR on the longest regular, commercial airline flight in the world: from Doha to Auckland.

Air India claims to have set an historic record with the first around-the-world flight, aboard an airplane flown by an all-female crew.  The flight was made traveling east from Delhi, to San Fransicso, across Africa and back again, aboard an Air India Boeing 777.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz explains why the airline plans to retire its last Boeing 747 airliner by the end of 2017, phasing out the venerable aircraft in favor of Boeing 777s on its long-haul flights.

Air India is looking to raise additional short term cash to fund the purchase of four Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Airbus has completed extreme cold weather testing of its A350-1000 prototype in Canada.

Asiana plans to introduce its first Airbus A350-900 flights, connecting Seoul to Osaka and Manila, in May of this year.  The airline has 12 A350-900s on order.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Single Aisle News - March 6, 2017

March 6, 2017

Bombardier won an Aviation Week Laureate award for the successful entry of the C-Series into service this past year.

Bombardier's Commercial Aircraft Customer Service team has been awarded the People's Choice Stevie Award for "Favourite Customer Service" and a Silver Stevie Award for its Customer Service Department for 2016.

Engine shortages have led Bombardier to pause its C-Series deliveries for two months.  The C-Series is powered by Pratt & Whitney's Geared TurboFan (GTF) engine, a version of which is also offered as an option on Airbus' A320 NEO.

Mitsubishi Aircraft expects to introduce their smaller Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) version, featuring 70 seasts, into flight test next year.  The larger, 90-seat variant is currently in the midst of its test program.

Mitsubishi Aircraft is currently conducting tests of the MRJ in Chicago, under natural icing conditions, before an airplane is sent to Eglin AFB in Florida, for extreme weather testing in a specialized, environmental hangar.

SriLankan Airlines has welcomed its first Airbus A320 NEO into service.  SriLankan Airlines' NEO aircraft are powered by the CFM International LEAP-1A engine.

India's aviation regulatory agency, DGCA has launched an investigation into Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines operated by IndiGo and GoAir, both of which have experienced engine related issues in the past two months.  The investigation is focused on reports of chips found in the engine's oil, one of which was the result of a main gearbox failure.

Boeing expects to roll out its first 737 MAX-9 prototype later this week.

Boeing has begun sounding out Indian carriers about possible sales of its proposed, stretched 737 MAX-10 variant.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - March 2, 2017

March 2, 2017

Recent reports indicate that the F-35 can only hit "stationary or slow moving objects," suggesting that the software and electronics integration problems that have plagued the program continue to limit the airplane's effectiveness.

Speaking with reporters at a conference, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein emphasized that when addressing the potential for future conflicts with China, it was not about how individual weapons might stack up against each other, but rather how the networks of aircraft, sensors and supporting infrastructure would match up.

Japan has doubled the number of aircraft that it sends aloft each time that it scrambles fighters to intercept aircraft approaching from China.

A hydraulic failure forced an Indian MiG-29 to make an emergency landing at Mangalore airport.

An Austrian criminal prosecutor is investigating Airbus for possible fraud in charges made for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

A recent report released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments called for increased defense spending to restore U.S. naval power.  Among funding priorities identified was a long range, carrier-operated UCAV (unmanned combat air vehicle).  The report has been endorsed by the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Space Highlights - March 1, 2017

March 1, 2017

United Launch Alliance is preparing to launch the NROL-79 spy satellite atop an Atlas V rocket later this week.  Ironically, the first stage of the launch will be powered by the RD-180 rocket motor, supplied by Russia.

China's next generation, Fengyun-4 weather satellite has transmitted its first set of images and measurements, after reaching its destination orbit.  The satellite was launched in December.

NASA has released new photographs from the Cassini spacecraft, including images of Saturn's hexagonal polar storm system, as well as images showing new details in Saturn's outermost F-ring.

NASA has released video depicting the shifting sands underneath the Curiosity rover, as well as dust devils moving across the Martian landscape.

Researchers studying data from the Mars Global Surveyor have concluded that parts of the Elysium lava deposits are only three to four million years old, suggesting that the second largest Martian volcano may still be active.

NASA's Juno spacecraft has revealed the most detailed images yet collected of Jupiter's stormy atmosphere.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has approved a naming convention for features on the surface of Pluto, commonising themes across continents.