Aerospace

USU adds first doctorate program in aerospace engineering

Utah’s first doctorate program in aerospace will start welcoming students at Utah State University this fall. The Ph.D. program in aerospace engineering was approved by the Utah System of Higher Education Board of Regents on May 15. The College of Engineering at USU will start offering the program for the fall semester. The program will focus on the design, development and testing of rockets, spacecraft, airplanes and missiles.

House passes bill to promote space exploration

The House passed legislation on Thursday aimed at promoting investments in the commercial space industry. Passed 284-133, the bill would direct multiple federal agencies — including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Transportation and the Government Accountability Office — to report to Congress about commercial space practices.

NASA’s CubeSat Initiative Aids in Testing of Technology for Solar Sails in Space

The Planetary Society’s LightSail satellite is a technology demonstration for using solar propulsion on CubeSats, a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. Using the momentum transferred from solar photons as they strike a large, thin, reflective sail would allow a spacecraft to accelerate continuously using only the sun’s energy. NASA is considering the use of solar sails on future exploration mission secondary payloads, and data from this mission will advance understanding of this form of propulsion.

Dava Newman Begins Work as NASA’s Deputy Administrator

Dava Newman started her official duties as NASA’s new deputy administrator on Monday at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. Newman was nominated in January by President Obama, confirmed by the Senate in April and sworn in on Friday, May 15. The deputy administrator position had been vacant since the departure of Lori Garver in September 2013.

Why Congress should back a stopgap commercial drone bill

Due to a slow-moving regulatory process, the U.S. commercial drone industry is rapidly losing altitude while other countries soar ahead. The Federal Aviation Administration has begun to develop the rules necessary to integrate small unmanned systems into U.S. airspace, but it has already conceded that it will miss its September 2015 deadline, and now the Government Accountability Office predicts that we cannot expect to completely integrate commercial drones into America's skies until 2017 or later.

Venus Plane Pushed for Next NASA Next Frontiers Mission

Northrop Grumman is developing an inflatable, propeller-powered aircraft for a years-long cruise in the sulfurous skies of Venus and is gearing up to enter the concept in NASA's next New Frontiers planetary science competition.

Spaceport America Goes to Market Enabling Low-Cost Access to Space

“Spaceport America is enabling low-cost access to space for people who want to change the world,” said Christine Anderson CEO Spaceport America. “In parallel with its core aerospace business activities, Spaceport America is rolling out a diverse portfolio of non-aerospace revenue streams designed around the brand attributes people associate with the promise of commercial space, while providing economic stimulus for New Mexico and STEM education for future generations.”

New NASA images may solve Ceres 'bright spot' puzzle

A series of new NASA images may explain the unusual bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres that have been puzzling scientists. The closest-yet images of Ceres were taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on May 3 and 4 from a distance of 8,400 miles. The images show that the brightest spots in a crater within Ceres’ northern hemisphere are actually composed of many smaller spots. While the exact nature of the spots is unknown, scientists believe that they may be caused by ice.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Approves Pro-Commercial Space Bills

Members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved a package of four space bills intended to bring stability and certainty to the growing commercial space market. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this week introduced the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 or SPACE Act, alongside Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and 10 additional cosponsors.

The 15 moonshot technologies NASA is funding to make science fiction a reality

Each year, the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program awards funding to a set of research projects on the bleeding edge of technology. These aren’t your everyday “disruptive” apps and social networks; we’re talking interstellar exploration, nanotube comet sensors, and robot squids.

Sen. Cory Booker to the FAA: Enough is enough on drones

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), along with his cosponsor U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), introduced a new bill, the Commercial UAS Modernization Act, as an interim means to ensure American consumers and innovators can begin reaping the many benefits of drones, while allowing the FAA to focus on resolving some of the more contentious, and difficult, elements of their proposed rules.

Senators want drones to fly before rules are finalized

A pair of senators is pushing legislation that would allow U.S. commercial drones to fly before federal regulations on them are finalized. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would set up temporary rules for commercial drone use and testing in the United States until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finishes its rule making on the issue.

NASA: We 'know enough' to send humans to Mars

"We're on pace... to send American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s," said NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington, D.C. "We could say we don't know today how to get to Mars. But we know enough... This plan is clear. This plan is affordable. And this plan is sustainable." Bolden was just one of the NASA leaders who spoke about how feasible it will be to meet the space agency's goal of getting astronauts to the surface of Mars by the 2030s.

New propulsion technology makes satellites more nimble, durable

Earth-orbiting satellites traditionally weighed as much as trucks, but in recent years space has been filling up with satellites smaller than a minifridge for educational, research, and defense uses. Unlike larger satellites, which can carry a heavy cache of fuel, these small satellites are often launched without their own propulsion systems, making them hard to control and too often shortening their useful life in space.

The FAA and the drone industry are turning over a new leaf

The drone industry and the FAA haven’t always seen eye to eye, but both sides appear to be finding common ground and moving toward safely integrating drones into U.S. skies. The FAA announced Wednesday that it would allow PrecisionHawk and BNSF Railway to test drone flights outside the line of sight of pilots. As part of this Pathfinder Program CNN will be allowed to test drones over cities.

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