Press Release

Aurora Wins NASA Contract for Flight Path Optimization Tools

By SpaceRef Editor
November 28, 2006
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Aurora Flight Sciences announced today that the company has been selected for award of a contract through the NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program to develop a flight path planning and optimization tool. Through this program, Aurora will develop specialized software decision-aiding tools and algorithms for tactical trajectory management in the National Airspace System (NAS).

“This is an exciting win for us. The program will strengthen our ongoing activities in UAV guidance and control systems, a key area of expertise in Aurora’s new Research and Development Center,” said Dr. Thomas Vaneck, Aurora’s Vice President of Research and Development.

The program will leverage ongoing work on receding-horizon mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) tools for trajectory management, being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics by Professor Jonathan How, who will serve as a consultant on this effort. Professor R. John Hansman, a leading expert in air traffic control and head of MIT’s Center for Air Transportation, will also consult on this effort and will provide expertise on today’s Air Traffic Management procedures.

“Building on our close relationship with MIT, Aurora has assembled a world-class team to execute this program. The Aurora/MIT team has the experience and expertise to create the trajectory planning tools that will facilitate incorporating UAVs in the NAS,” said Dr. Vaneck.

Through this program, Aurora will model and address the stochastic nature of weather and associated airspace and resource restrictions along the flight path, taking into account the potentially very brief time horizon over which sufficiently accurate weather estimates are available. The goal is to rapidly accommodate sudden changes in aircraft tactical situations and respond to external hazards, recognizing that there is increasing uncertainty as planning horizons increase.

About Aurora Flight Sciences

Aurora Flight Sciences is a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology for research, defense and homeland security organizations. For more than 17 years, Aurora Flight Sciences has expanded the limits of unmanned flight through the design and manufacture of innovative aircraft. Aurora opened its Research and Development Center (RDC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts in January 2006. The RDC’s focus is to develop and integrate advanced technologies into the company’s unmanned aerial vehicle products and diversify the company’s technology portfolio. Learn more about Aurora Flight Sciences by visiting the company’s website at

SpaceRef staff editor.