Tech

February 19, 2014

Flight Opportunities Program busy in 2013; even more so in 2014

An exterior camera on the forward portion of UP Aerospace’ SL-8 sounding rocket captures this spectacular view of the Earth’s horizon during its flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program last November.

NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate accomplished its busiest year in 2013 since its inception in late 2010, and 2014 promises to be even busier.

The program enabled flight validation of 35 technologies that were tested in space-like environments on four different flight platforms during the year. There were five parabolic flight campaigns on the Zero-G airplane, five flights of the Near Space Corporation’s high-altitude balloon, four vertical takeoff, vertical landing flights on vehicles from Masten Space Systems and two launches on suborbital rockets provided by UP Aerospace, Inc.

The Flight Opportunities Program, managed by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif., will be funding numerous flights by sub-orbital vehicles and aircraft during 2014 to flight-validate a variety of technologies that could prove useful to NASA and other agencies for future space exploration missions. At this time, 19 parabolic and 17 sub-orbital payloads have been manifested for flight. Up to 29 additional payloads could be flown, once they are ready for flight or a launch vehicle is available.

A Near Space Corporation balloon lifts the firm’s small HASS shuttle glider during a test flight in 2013.

Current flight providers include UP Aerospace (sounding rockets), Near Space Corporation (high-altitude balloons, the HASS glider), Masten Space Systems (rocket-propelled vertical-launch, vertical-landing vehicles), Zero-G Corporation (modified Boeing 727 aircraft for reduced-gravity parabolic flights) and Virgin Galactic (SpaceShipTwo rocket-propelled horizontal landing sub-orbital vehicle). The Flight Opportunities Program will be issuing a new contract for flight providers this year.

Among the earliest technology flight validations on the 2014 schedule is an automated spacecraft landing system payload from Astrobotic Technology Inc. of Pittsburgh that is tentatively slated to be tested on Masten Space Systems XA-0.1B “Xombie” suborbital reusable launch vehicle in February. Astrobotic’s landing system may enable future unmanned spacecraft to land on the moon or the rocky and hazardous terrain of an asteroid.

Following completion of sub-orbital flight testing, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is tentatively scheduled to carry technology payloads for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program later this year.
 

Masten Space Systems’ Xombie technology demonstration test bed ascends into the Mojave Desert sky from the Mojave Air and Space Port during a March 2013 flight to validate Draper Labs’ GENIE flight control system.

 

A camera mounted atop the left vertical fin of Virgin Galactic / Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo captures the vehicle gliding through the upper atmosphere after its rocket engine is shut down during a 2013 test flight. The Earth’s horizon can be seen at lower right.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 23, 2015

News: Two Marines identified in deadly California helo crash - Two Marine Corps officers killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise in the Southern California desert were remembered Jan. 25 as talented pilots. Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise - Ten people died Jan. 26 after a Greek air force F-16 jet crashed...
 
 

News Briefs January 26, 2015

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales. The Navy now wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys about 12 miles off...
 
 
Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards

ANG conducts air refueling training with NATO allies in Germany

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Annie Edwards A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft approaches a Utah Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker for air refueling during a training flight over Germany on Jan. 13, 2015. Nearly 30 airme...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales

Ramstein Airmen train with French air force

Air Force photograph by SrA. Armando A. Schwier-Morales Two U.S. Air Force pilots and a French air force navigator discuss the route to the drop zone during a simulated low-level drop Jan. 21, 2015, at Orleans – Bricy Air...
 
 

Marines receive first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant

The first F-35C Lightning II, carrier variant, for the U.S. Marine Corps touched-down on the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 13, from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin training in support of carrier-based operations. U.S. Marine Lt. Col. J.T. Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander...
 
 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>