Recently in the Aircraft Category


Students Advance Mars Airplane Concept

When you're designing an airplane that could one day be the first to fly on Mars, the answer cannot be found in the back of the book.

Thirty-two undergraduate students from a like number of colleges and universities are participating in an eight-week NASA Airborne Science Program field experience designed to immerse them in the agency's Earth Science research.

NASA Unmanned Air Challenge

NASA has selected Development Projects Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, to manage a new Centennial Challenge prize competition involving unmanned aircraft systems in 2014. NASA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Airspace Operations Challenge is focused on developing and demonstrating key technologies, particularly the ability to sense and avoid other air traffic. This will make it possible for these robotic aircraft to operate safely in the same airspace as piloted aircraft. NASA is providing a $500,000 prize purse.

"NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston is accepting applications from teams of kindergarten, elementary and secondary school teachers to conduct scientific experiments aboard the agency's reduced gravity aircraft next year. The MicroGravity eXperience (Micro GX) flight program will take place July 12-20, 2013, at Johnson. Educators selected to fly also will participate in an online professional development course centered on microgravity science in the months before and after their flights. Seven teams, each composed of four to five educators from a single school or school district, will be selected to participate in Micro GX. The unique academic experience includes scientific and inquiry-based research, experiential learning during the reduced gravity flight, and education/public outreach activities." More.

"NASA is considering the initiation of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Airspace Operations Challenge (hereinafter "Challenge") to be conducted under the Centennial Challenges Program administered through NASA Headquarters located in Washington, D.C. Through this Opportunity Notice (NOTICE) NASA seeks to select a Lead Allied Organization and additional Supporting Allied Organization(s) to work with NASA to conduct this Challenge. Overall coordination of the Lead and Supporting Allied Organizations will be done by a NASA Challenge manager. The date for Challenge competition is expected to be between August 30, 2013 and June 30, 2014 depending upon the availability of a test range and competitor registration date." More

Pop-Up Robots on Mars?

In New Mass-production Technique, Robotic Insects Spring to Life, Harvard University

"A new technique inspired by elegant pop-up books and origami will soon allow clones of robotic insects to be mass-produced by the sheet. Devised by engineers at Harvard, the ingenious layering and folding process enables the rapid fabrication of not just microrobots, but a broad range of electromechanical devices. In prototypes, 18 layers of carbon fiber, Kapton (a plastic film), titanium, brass, ceramic, and adhesive sheets have been laminated together in a complex, laser-cut design. The structure incorporates flexible hinges that allow the three-dimensional product--just 2.4 millimeters tall--to assemble in one movement, like a pop-up book."

Keith's note: Imagine if NASA could achieve packing density for its spacecraft like this - especially for landers. On Mars, for example, swarms of flying probes, covered with photovoltaic materials, armed with sensors, could fan out from a landing site to take measurements. Or a larger glider or balloon coudl release them over a larger area and have them report data back while they are within communications range.

New Airship Record Set by JP Aerospace

JP Aerospace Airship Flies to the Edge of Space, Smashing the Existing World Altitude Record

"On Saturday morning, October 22, 2011, The Tandem airship was launched from Nevada's Black Rock desert. The airship flew to 95,085 feet, higher than any airship in history. After fighting through extreme turbulence from 40,000 to 60,000 feet, Tandem soared to 95,085 feet. Tandem flew nearly four miles higher than any airship before. The pilot on the ground then remotely turned on the motors and flew the airship through a series of maneuvers. At the end of its mission one balloon burst and the command was sent to release the other balloon. Tandem was then carried to a soft landing by a row of five parachutes."

Crowdsourcing UAV Designs

Defense Department looks to crowd-source new drone innovations, Washington Post

"Called UAVForge, the competition is open to individuals, such as scientists, engineers or aircraft hobbyists, as well as to teams of contestants. The task is to come up with ideas for a small, silent aircraft that could be controlled from two miles away and monitor people or cars in an urban area for up to two hours while sending back still photos or video."

UAVForge, DARPA

Green Flight Challenge

NASA and Cafe Hosting Green Flight Challenge

"NASA's Centennial Challenges Program is providing $1.65 million in prize money to the winners of the competition. The purse is the largest aviation prize ever offered and attracted 13 teams, led by American innovators. Five of those teams successfully completed their aircraft and flight qualification requirements and will compete for the prize purse. The teams will fly their electric, biofueled and hybrid powered aircraft, to prove they have the most fuel efficient, small aircraft in the world."

First Steps Toward DIY Space in Africa

"This was a documentary filed by UBC/UTV television in regard to the first African Made aircraft, the African Skyhawk. Details can be found on ugandanway.com then you click on uiaa aircraft. The African Space research Program is the official developer of this project under UIAA, Uganda International Alien Association"

- Ugandan man wants to build space shuttle from scratch, io9
- African space research: Dreaming of a manned shuttle, BBC

F-104 jet fighters just like the ones astronauts trained in for decades will become a more regular part of the skyscape above NASA's Kennedy Space Center as a private company expands its fleet of jets with plans to conduct more research flights, launch very small satellites into space and even take paying passengers into the stratosphere. The developments come four years after the company made its first flight from the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, at Kennedy in April 2007.

A new full-length episode of PBS Design Squad Nation is now available online. In this episode, engineers Judy and Adam invite Felipe -- an accomplished 15-year-old pilot from Miami, Fla. -- to compete in the 2010 Red Bull Flugtag competition. Together, they team up with NASA to design and build a human-powered flying machine. With their NASA-inspired glider design, Team One Giant Leap soars off a 30-foot high deck, impressing the judges with distance and style.

Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLYzD4ukQ4s
Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w7zluiYt2Q

For more information and to find more Design Squad Nation videos and resources, visit http://pbskids.org/designsquad/.

Video: Construction with Quadrotor Teams

Watch as these quadrotors (small helicopters) construct a small structure - alone and as a team. Imagine if you could replace the rotors with small cold gas jets for use in microgravity or on the Moon. More info at Upenn's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory (via io9)