“At least one way of measuring the freedom of any society is the amount of comedy that is permitted, and clearly a healthy society permits more satirical comment than a repressive, so that if comedy is to function in some way as a safety release, then it must obviously deal with these taboo areas. This is part of the responsibility we accord our licensed jesters, that nothing be excused the searching light of comedy. If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Mystery Aircraft: Boeing X-32 is a concept demonstrator aircraft that was designed for the Joint Strike Fighter competition. It lost to the Lockheed Martin X-35 demonstrator, which was further developed into the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. In 1993, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter project (CALF). The project’s purpose was to develop a stealth-enabled design to replace all of United States Department of Defence lighter weight fighter and attack aircraft, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, and vertical / short take-off / vertical landing (V/STOL) AV-8B Harrier II. Around the same time the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) project was started. In 1994, the US Congress ordered the two to be merged into the Joint Strike Fighter programme.
Many companies took part in the first phase of this project, which involved drafting concept aircraft designs for submission to the Department of Defence. On 16 November 1996, Boeing and Lockheed Martin were awarded contracts for them to produce two of their concept demonstrator aircraft (CDA) each. Under the contract, these fighters were required to demonstrate conventional take-off and landing (CTOL), carrier take-off and landing (CV version) and short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL). They were also expected to include ground demonstrations of a production representative aircraft’s systems, such as the Preferred Weapon System Concept (PWSC).
One major departure from previous projects was the prohibition of the companies from using their own money to finance development. Each was awarded $750 million to produce their two aircraft, including avionics, software and hardware. This limitation promoted the adoption of low-cost manufacturing and assembly techniques and also prevented either Boeing or Lockheed Martin from bankrupting themselves in an effort to win such an important contest.
Designing the X-32
Boeing’s strategy for a competitive advantage was to offer substantially lower manufacturing and life-cycle costs by minimising variations between the different JSF versions. The X-32 therefore was designed around a large one-piece carbon fibre composite delta wing. The wing had a span of 9.15 meters, with a 55-degree leading edge sweep and could hold up to 20,000 pounds (9,000 kg) of fuel. The purpose of the high sweep angle was to allow for a thick wing section to be used while still providing limited transonic aerodynamic drag and to provide a good angle for wing-installed conformal antenna equipment. The wing would prove a challenge to fabricate.
The two X-32 aircraft featured a delta wing design. However, eight months into construction of the concept demonstrator aircraft, the JSF’s manoverability and payload requirements were refined at the request of the Navy and Boeing’s delta wing design fell short of the new targets. Engineers altered the aircraft’s design with a conventional canted twin tail that reduced weight and improved agility, but it was too late to change the aircraft. It was judged that they would be sufficient to demonstrate Boeing’s technology.
On 14 December 1999, Boeing unveiled both its concept demonstrators at its plant in Palmdale, California, in front of 5,500 attendees. While the X-32A was expected to make an appearance, the roll out of the X-32B was a surprise, as construction of the latter aircraft had started some three months after the former and was completed six weeks after the X-32A. Boeing attributed the rapid construction of the STOVL version to the use of digital design and assembly methods. After having the Pratt & Whitney F119 engine installed in April 2000, the X-32A commenced low- and medium-speed taxi tests, which had been completed by late May.
Due to the heavy delta wing design of the X-32, Boeing demonstrated STOVL and supersonic flight in separate configurations, with the STOVL configuration requiring that some parts be removed from the fighter. The company promised that their conventional tail design for production models would not require separate configurations. By contrast, the Lockheed Martin X-35 concept demonstrator aircraft were capable of transitioning between their STOVL and supersonic configurations in mid-flight.
The first flight of the X-32A (designed for CTOL and carrier trials) took place on 18 September 2000, from Boeing’s Palmdale plant to Edwards Air Force Base. The aircraft, piloted by Boeing test pilot Fred Knox, took 2,200 feet (670 m) of runway before becoming airborne at 150 knots (280 km/h; 170 mph) at around 8:00 am. Shortly after take-off, a minor hydraulic leak was discovered and the flight was shortened to 20 minutes from the expected 30–40 minutes. According to Knox, the F/A-18 chase plane required ‘a lot of afterburner’ to keep up with the X-32 during the initial stages. During the flight, the aircraft reached 10,000 feet (3,000 m), attained a speed of 200 knots (370 km/h; 230 mph) and attained an angle of attack of 13°. Despite the shortened flight, about 80% of the planned test points were accomplished. It was powered by a conventional derivative of the F-22 afterburning turbofan, designated F119-PW-614C.
On 29 March 2001, the X-32B STOVL version made its first flight. The flight lasted 50 minutes as the aircraft flew from Palmdale to Edwards AFB. The flight had originally been scheduled for the third quarter of 2000. A modified version of the -614C engine, known as the F119-PW-614S, powered the STOVL aircraft. In normal flight, the -614S was configured as a conventional afterburning turbofan. However, in the STOVL mode a butterfly valve diverted the core stream exhaust gases to a pair of thrust vectoring nozzles located close to the aircraft’s center-of-gravity. Forward of these nozzles, a jet screen nozzle provided a sheet of cool bypass air to minimise hot gas recirculation. There was also a pair of ducts leading to roll nozzles near the wing tips. Two pairs of ducts fed the aft-pitch yaw nozzles and the forward-pitch nozzles. The afterburner was unlit, with no gas flow during lift. The X-32B achieved STOVL flight in much the same way as the AV-8B Harrier II with thrust vectoring of the jet exhaust. A smooth transition (between STOVL and normal modes) was obtained by maintaining a constant engine match, facilitated by the control system algorithm maintaining a fixed total nozzle effective area. Thus, the engine was unaware of various nozzles being opened up and closed off to complete the transition.
Basically, the F119-PW-614S was a direct lift engine, whereas the Lockheed Martin STOVL team used a more complex and riskier alternative, known as the F119-PW-611, which comprised a remote shaft-driven lift fan powered by the main engine. However, this generated more lift thrust than possible with only direct exhaust gases. A successful design would have greater payload and thus longer range than a simple thrust vectored turbofan.
On 26 October 2001, the US Department of Defence announced that the Lockheed Martin X-35 won the JSF competition. The X-35 would be developed into the production Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The loss of the JSF contract to Lockheed Martin in 2001 was a major blow to Boeing, as it represented the most important international fighter aircraft project since the Lightweight Fighter programme competition of the 1960s and 1970s, which had led to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Hornet. At the time, the production run of the JSF was estimated at anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000. Prior to the awarding of the contract, many lawmakers pushed the idea of retaining the losing competitor as a sub-contractor. However, the ‘winner takes all’ principle was not changed. Nonetheless, Boeing views its work on the X-32 as a strategic investment, yielding important technologies which it has been able to adopt in the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and other studies.
In 2005, the Boeing X-32A was transferred to the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio. Its condition deteriorated due to being outside for several years following the end of the JSF competition, but it is now indoors and planned to be restored. The X-32B was transferred to the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum adjacent to NAS Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland in 2005. It underwent restoration at the museum’s restoration facility in June 2009 and is now on display.
Those people that got this correct: Righardt du Plessis, Marcel Bode, Ari Levien, Mark Gauldie, P Rossouw, Rory Paul, Cecil Thompson, Andre Breytenbach, Steve Dewsbery, Danie van der Merwe, Hilton Carroll, Ahmed Bassa, Wouter de Graaf, Brian Millett, Karl Jensen, Craig Casarotti, Gregory Yatt, Rennie van Zyl, Willie Oosthuizen, Wouter van der Waal, Pierre Brittz, Bob Gurr, Ralph Schlaphoff, Mike McLaughlin, Charlie Hugo, Brian Melmoth, Dawid Hanekom, Nic Manthopoulos, Erwin Stam, Kevin Farr, Danie Viljoen, Mickey Esterhuysen, Antonis van der Westhuizen, Herman Nel, Colin Austen, Jeffrey Knickelbein, Pierre Hanekom, Greg Pullin, Peter Gilbert, Geoff Street, Daniel Sinnathamby, Michael Schoeman, (42).
What does Part 60 in the SACAA law refer to?
Every now and again for unknown reasons, Mailchimp unsubscribes readers and this happened to me on Monday with a message that I had unsubscribed myself. When this happens, due to an obvious glitch in the system, please just re-subscribe by clicking the APAnews logo and re-entering your preferences. Thank you.
African Pilot’s December 2021 edition
The December edition featuring Drones, UAVs and Urban Mobility is complete and the magazine has entered its circulation phase. Over several years African Pilot has consistently covered the exciting developments within the drone and urban mobility industry since these developments will change everything we know in aviation’s future. Although there are some people who say ‘flying cars’ will not be with us for decades, my belief is that they are just around the corner and like the drone industry, regulators all over the world need to start preparing for the explosion of aerial vehicles in our cities.
African Pilot’s January 2022 edition
The final magazine to be published this year, well before the end of year holidays will be the January 2022 edition that will feature Aviation Insurance, Aircraft Finance and Aircraft Sales. African Pilot has prepared the full year’s schedule for next year, which is available to ALL advertisers via Adrian Munro E-mail: email@example.com. African Pilot is also the only African aviation magazine that publishes its schedule well ahead in order for advertiser’s to prepare for the year ahead. In addition, African Pilot is the ‘only aviation magazine’ that provides its advertisers with coverage within a well-designed publication that has South African, African and International reach.
African Pilot Digital Calendars
Wallpaper calendar for the months of October and November. Go to our wallpaper page to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) 2021 editions.
Click on the covers below.
What happend happend this past weekend?
Krugersdorp Flying Club fly-in
By Charlie Hugo
The best made plans of mice and men go often askew. These words, a line from a Robert Burns poem to a mouse were very appropriate for the planned 2021 breakfast fly-in held by The Krugersdorp Flying Club on Saturday 20 November. The morning of the event dawned with heavy cloud cover over Gauteng and a stiff breeze. All this most likely conspired to prevent a large number of aviators descending upon FAKR. None-the-less, the breakfast still went ahead and although there had been less than a handful of fly-in pilots, a number had made the journey by road, sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. At least 100 aviators and guests, all meeting to talk aviation with liked minded friends arrived and spent the morning talking about their passion for aviation and in some cases reminiscing the past. Around 10h00 the Puma Energy Flying Lions arrived to join in the fun. After the team had met and greeted many of the attendees, they had a cup of coffee and a snack, then took off to perform a flat display to the delight of everyone gathered at the airfield.
News from CAASA
Good day CAASA members,
We have found and are receiving feedback on numerous errors, some of which substantially change the intended meaning of the regulations compared to what was agreed and sent for promulgation by members. To this end we need many eyes (your eyes) to check the final documents you were involved with that were approved at CARCom as submitted by our members compared with that of which has been promulgated in the 21st amendment CARS and CATS.
There is a growing concern that this amendment may require retraction if too many errors are found. Lexis Nexis is holding back on printing new versions of this amendment until this has been resolved.
To this end we would need to list all the errors, which the Department of Transport (DOT) lawyers would require if we were to request a retraction.
Please look at your own submissions and those CAASA Members involved with those submissions over the past three years, please check what is finally promulgated that affects you. We have found with in Parts 135, Part 60, Part 141, to name a few. Please submit these to CAASA via SAM so we can collate the errors.
A big thank you to those that have already raised their issues which have already been submitted to the CARCom secretariate.
More from CAAASA
Dear AISI industry stakeholders
The Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI), which is hosted under Industry Connect at the CSIR is a programme of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the DTIC). The AISI hereby invites interested companies to respond to the Call for Proposals (CFP) for Aerospace and Defence Industry Development and Technology Support.
The CFP is aimed at identifying organisations requiring technology support in sectors relating to advanced manufacturing in aeronautics, space and defence. Industry is encouraged to apply for funding to industrialise technologies to the advancement of South African niche capabilities and value propositions in support of National Government objectives such as competitiveness improvement and localisation.
Thematic Areas: The thematic areas selected for this CFP are at the discretion of the AISI and are seen as those most relevant for technology advancement in the South African aeronautics, space and defence sectors. Closing date: 13 December 2021 at 16h30.
- Aerostructures including advanced manufacturing and processing
- Surveillance and Sensor Systems.
Please download the application documents from the AISI website as follows:
We will sell Mango for you, offers Commerce24 founder to Mango BRP
Business trading platform Commerce24.co.za says that it is willing to assist business rescue practitioner Sipho Sono of Opis Advisory to market and dispose of state-owned airline Mango. The site provides business owners and bulk trading partners with a verified staging window to put anything of commercial value up for sale. Commerce24 estimates that Mango may be worth around R 300 million in total at the top end. The company has written to the business rescue practitioner, offering its assistance.
“While the aviation market is not particularly stable presently,” says Commerce24 chief executive Denny Mo, “it is expected to recover over time. But Mango’s value lies in the route rights it holds.” The airline is believed to hold rights to Mauritius amongst other African regional network points and is presently the only South African airline that can fly between Johannesburg and wildly popular beach holiday destination Zanzibar.
There are likely no other assets of value beyond its potential future revenue and goodwill. “We have not seen its balance sheet but based on public reportage a ‘clean’ Mango that emerges from business rescue, with creditors settled, can be a solid business proposition for investors. The airline’s fleet is leased.
Mo believes that a buyer for Mango should not be a challenge and that a strategic equity partner or an outright buyer can be found. “At an estimated value of R 300m, an investment of R 150m or more plus a measure of working capital would be required to buy the majority of the business.” Mo suggests that while the industry is crowded and the airline’s reputation is muddied after a disastrous 18-months of stop-starting, it’s got a solid brand and plenty of potential. “Mango was launched in 2006 and it grew on a sustained basis over time. I believe that a restart with the right investor is possible and may be profitable,” says Mo. “We will broker the right buyer to the willing seller.”
Commerce24.co.za is a site that enables business trading and leverages its vast business network to facilitate transactions. On sale items include big ticket items such as guest houses, hotels and other hospitality assets along with bulk stock items and “practically anything of value, which can be traded,” says Mo. “The Mango transaction is likely to be our largest yet. But with some offers already circling the R 50m mark, the business is no stranger to high value, long term investment opportunities.”
Commerce24 is an open source and free to use platform that harnesses the power of sharing like social media has done. With a free to use and free to share function, we can reach further and deeper into potential buyers nationwide. It lets the community find you the best buyer and the highest offer.
What is scheduled for this weekend?
SAPFA Springs Speed Rally at Springs Airfield
Contact David Le Roux E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 073 338 5200
Sports Aerobatics Club Western Cape regionals at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
Niger to get Hurkus trainers and TB2 UAVs
According to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Turkey will supply Hurkus turboprop light attack / trainer aircraft and Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Niger. In an interview with CNN Turk on 11 November, Turkish Aerospace CEO Temel Kotil said the first Hurkus will be delivered to its first export customer by mid-2022. The Hurkus is a tandem two-seat, low-wing, single-engine turboprop aircraft that was designed as a new-generation trainer as well as a platform for performing light-attack and armed reconnaissance combat missions. The Hurkus-A is the basic version that can be used by non-military customers while the Hurkus-B is a more advanced version with more sophisticated avionics. The Hurkus-C is an armed variant that can be used for close air support. It is fitted with a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor and can carry 1 500 kg of weaponry. It has been seen fitted with L-UMTAS anti-tank guided missiles, Cirit laser-guided rockets and external fuel tanks. It will also be able to carry bombs, 12.7 mm machineguns and 20 mm cannon pods. The Hurkus-A first flew in August 2013 and the aircraft is in production for the Turkish military. Powered by a PT6A-68T turboprop, the aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of more than 570 km/h, an endurance of over four hours and a range of nearly 1 500 km.
Turkey has racked up multiple sales of its Bayraktar TB2 UAV, including to Ukraine, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Poland. Last month it emerged that Turkey had negotiated sales to Morocco and Ethiopia. The Bayraktar TB2 has a cruising speed of 130 km/h with an operational altitude of 7 300 metres and 27 hours endurance. The 12 metre wingspan aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 650 kg and can carry a 150 kg payload. The Bayraktar TB2 is used operationally by the Turkish Armed Forces and is able to employ MAM and MAM-L guided munitions and UMTAS missiles.
Greek F-16 fighter jet crashes while landing at airbase
An F-16 of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) crashed as it was preparing to land at Andravida Airbase (PYR) in Elis, Greece. Fortunately, the pilot managed to eject. The F-16 Block 52+ was returning from a routine training mission and was about to land at the airbase, which houses the 117th Battle Wing of the Hellenic Air Force. Weather conditions were suboptimal and the runway of the airbase was wet, according to local media. On the third landing attempt, the fighter jet began veering off. Fearing a crash, the pilot pulled the ejection lever. The fighter jet was damaged, though it is unclear to what extent. An investigation was opened to determine the circumstances of the crash. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is the backbone of the Hellenic Air Force fighter fleet, with over 150 in operation.
Russia begins building airframe for CR929 prototype
AeroComposit, a subsidiary of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), has commenced work on the airframe for the CR929, the Chinese-Russian airliner. Reportedly, the company has just begun producing the wing for the wide-body jet. The news was revealed on 19 November 2021, at Composites without borders, an online forum for Russian composite materials manufacturers. In a post on the forum, deputy general director of Irkut, Anatoly Gaydansky, wrote: “The production lines of the AeroComposit factory in Ulyanovsk are busy almost to 100%. The factory is working on two main projects. One of them is manufacturing the wings and the central box of the MC-21. The second, manufacturing wings for the Russian-Chinese CR929.” He continued: “We are working on the prototypes of the CR929 and developing the manufacturing processes.”
In September 2021, production of the prototype officially began at COMAC’s factory in Linang, although it was not announced what part of the airliner would be manufactured at the site. The CR929 was conceived as a Chinese-Russian co-production from the onset. Russia’s biggest contribution will be composite parts that make up most of the airframe, including the wings and the fuselage.
AeroComposit owns the main composite material production facilities in Russia. The company manufactures composite wings of the MC-21 airliner, as well as some parts for the SSJ New, an updated version of the SSJ100 regional jet. The CR929 will be a long-range wide-body airliner designed to compete with Boeing and Airbus wide-body jets, primarily the787 Dreamliner and the A330neo. The aircraft will be produced by CRAIC, a joint venture of China’s COMAC and Russia’s UAC. The project was launched in 2014 but was slowed down by numerous difficulties. For most of 2020, COMAC and UAC were locked in a bitter confrontation over the sales rights of the aircraft, which caused delays and pushed back the jet’s first delivery dates to 2028-2029.
Beechcraft Denali enters flight test phase with landmark first flight
On Tuesday 23 November Textron Aviation announced its new single-engine turboprop, the Beechcraft Denali, took to the skies for the first time. The milestone first flight is a major step for the clean-sheet design aircraft and begins the important flight test programme that substantiates the segment-leading performance expected of the Denali.
Piloted by senior test pilot Peter Gracey and chief test pilot Dustin Smisor, the Beechcraft Denali prototype aircraft, powered by GE Aviation’s new Catalyst engine, took off at approximately 08h20 from the company’s west campus at Eisenhower International Airport. During the two-hour and 50-minute flight, the team tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, as well as its propulsion, environmental, flight controls and avionics systems. The aircraft reached an altitude of 15,600 feet and attained speeds of 180 knots. The Denali prototype aircraft, along with two additional flight test airframes and three full airframe ground test articles, will continue to expand on operational goals, focusing on testing aircraft systems, engine, avionics and overall performance. The company is targeting certification for the Denali in 2023.
Indonesia Ministry of Defence orders two Airbus A400M military airlifters
The agreement, which was confirmed by Airbus through an official statement, comprises the sale of the two aircraft, plus a letter of intent for four additional units. The contract takes effect in 2022 and will include a complete maintenance and training support package. “This new order will further expand the A400M footprint in the Asia-Pacific region. The A400M offers outstanding capabilities to Indonesia, providing its air force with the perfect platform to deliver large and heavy loads into remote areas and multiplying its airpower projection thanks to reliable aerial refuelling capabilities,” said Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space in a statement.
The A400M is capable of operating from rough and short runways and will strengthen the Indonesian Air Force’s airlift capabilities to rapidly respond to any crisis, demonstrated in the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the country in 2018. The A400M was the first large airlifter able to deliver heavy loads like fuel trucks and excavators as well as food, clothes and medical supplies using a damaged and short runway in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Rolls-Royce delivers 1000th Trent XWB-84
On Monday Rolls-Royce announced that it has reached a key milestone in its Trent XWB–84 programme with the delivery of its 1000th Trent XWB–84 turbofan engine. The Trent XWB–84 entered service in 2015 and has logged over eight million engine flying hours to date. According to the company, assembly of 1,000 Trent XWB-84s has ‘required more than 25 million parts brought together and more than 6,000 assembly steps per engine.’
The 1000th Trent XWB–84, which was built at Rolls-Royce’s production test facility in Derby, England, will be powering an Airbus A350-900. The engine type is currently used by more than 30 operators. Rolls-Royce reports that the Trent XWB-84 burns 15 percent less fuel compared to the first Trent engine and offers a 99.9 percent dispatch reliability.
Chaos ensues at Atlanta Airport after passenger accidentally fires gun
Chaos occurred over the weekend at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). On 20 November 2021, a passenger accidentally fired a weapon in the airport’s security area causing widespread panic among travellers. The incident occurred at about 13h30 local time when a prohibited item was detected in a passenger’s personal belongings during X-ray screening at the airport’s security checkpoint. This prompted a secondary search of the belongings.
During the secondary search, the passenger “lunged into his property, grabbing a firearm that was located inside, which ultimately discharged. The passenger then fled the security checkpoint through an adjacent exit lane with his firearm”, said Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Georgia federal security director, Robert Spinden, during a news conference which was uploaded on social media by the Atlanta Police department.
Further details about the incident emerged in a statement released by TSA: after the initial screening where the weapon was first detected by x-ray, a Transport Security officer advised the passenger not to touch the property. However, as the officer opened the compartment containing the prohibited item, the passenger lunged into the bag and grabbed a firearm, at which point it discharged. The passenger then fled the area, running out of the airport exit. Authorities revealed that no one was shot during the incident, but three people received injuries because of the panic that ensued.
Airways signs new deal for New Zealand Rocket Lab launches
Airways has signed a second five-year contract with Rocket Lab to provide air traffic services, including management of a ‘special use airspace’ around each Electron rocket as it launches. Airways New Zealand, the country’s air navigation service provider has supported Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket launches since 2017, when the aerospace organisation launched its first rocket into space. Since then, 21 Electron rockets have been launched, deploying more than 100 satellites into orbit.
“Airways continues to provide support in the preparation and execution of each Rocket Lab launch. We work closely with the launch team to ensure that every rocket has a safe flight path through New Zealand’s airspace,” says Airways’ General Manager of Air Navigation Services Katie Wilkinson. “Allowing safe and flexible access to the airspace is critical to supporting this growing industry in New Zealand and we have a team of experienced air traffic controllers, flight service officers and air traffic services experts working behind the scenes to enable this,” she adds.
“We are pleased to be working closely with Airways to ensure that our launch operations are safe and well-coordinated with all aviation activity. Airways has played an important role in ensuring the safety of New Zealand’s growing aerospace industry,” says Izaak Connaughton, Launch Safety and Regulatory Affairs Manager for Rocket Lab.
Airways is in a strong position to be working with Rocket Lab as it continues to launch its Electron rocket into space from New Zealand. Organisations such as NASA and Google have chosen New Zealand for their balloon launches due to its relatively uncongested airspace, Airways’ experience and robust systems and procedures, as well as a national appetite to support emerging technologies.
NASA trial mission targets an asteroid, hoping to learn how to alter its course
Late on Tuesday evening an unmanned NASA spacecraft is scheduled to launch from California on a six-million-mile suicide mission to slam into an asteroid named Dimorphos. Unlike in a science fiction movie, Dimorphos is not on course to threaten Earth in any way. But the mission, dubbed the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), is designed to explore strategies that could be used someday to alter the course of asteroids that might, indeed, be on a collision course with Earth.
“It’s a really clever idea,” said Jonathan McDowell, a staff astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “In 2015, Project Deep Impact slammed a spacecraft into a comet and made a large crater.” But there was no way for astronomers to measure whether it had any effect on the comet’s trajectory.
Dimorphos is a different story and the ideal target for the DART spacecraft, McDowell said. Measuring about 525 feet across, Dimorphos orbits around a larger, 2,500-foot-wide asteroid named Didymos, which, in turn, orbits around the sun like Earth does. Still, DART hitting even the smaller asteroid is described as like a golf cart hitting a pyramid but hitting it at 15,000 miles per hour.
“Astrophysicists look for sensitive ways to measure things,” McDowell said and astronomers can use imaging to determine if Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos changes as a result of the impact and by how much. As challenging as it may sound for NASA, “Hitting the asteroid is the easy part,” McDowell said. More difficult is assessing the density of the asteroid and how much that will affect future missions to redirect other asteroids that could be a threat to Earth (even a small asteroid the size of Dimorphos could destroy an entire city). The more solid the asteroid, the more energy from the DART will contribute to changing its course. But a ‘squishy’ (McDowell’s word) asteroid could absorb energy from the collision like a giant sponge, minimising trajectory change. The spacecraft will send back video to NASA of its final moments before impact, hopefully giving astronomers like McDowell and others a good sense of just how ‘squishy’ Dimorphos is. All this will play out late next year when DART completes its six-million-mile journey. And just before reaching Dimorphos, the spacecraft will release a photo pod that will observe from above what NASA hopes will be one hell of a crash.
Blue Origin announces crew for NS-19
With all six of its seats filled, the occasion will also mark the first time the New Shepard, Blue Origin’s launch system, has completed a flight with a full complement of personnel aboard. Blue Origin has released the crew for the flight, including Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of the New Shepard’s namesake, astronaut Alan Shepard. Currently serving as the Chairwoman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees, an organisation dedicated to raising funds for college students and offering mentors to scholars pursuing careers in STEM.
Micheal Strahan, a two-time Emmy award winner, Super Bowl Champion and morning show host, has been invited to join the flight by Blue Origin and has dedicated his crew stipend to the The Boys & Girls Club. A renaissance man of the modern entertainment industry, his work has touched a number of different areas in tv and production. A sports analyst for Fox NFL Sunday, as well as owner of SMAC Entertainment, his hands can be seen throughout the spectrum of American TV on any given week.
Dylan Taylor, Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, the global space exploration firm in Denver, Colorado, joins the group in representation of the democratisation of space travel and living. As founder of the non-profit Space for Humanity and co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Taylor has been vital to leading Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives in the space community.
Evan Dick, engineer, investor, and managing member of Dick Holdings, formerly served as Senior Vice President for D.E. Shaw and managing director of Highbridge Capital Management. Dick is a rare pilot addition to the program, being an ATP-rated aviator and volunteer for Starfighters Aerospace, as well as a sailing and motorcycling aficionado.
Lane Bess, Principal and Founder of Bess Ventures and Advisory, is a familiar face to the cybersecurity industry. An integral part of the founding of Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks, Bess has been a supporter of new, innovative and novel technologies throughout the health, tech and social sectors.
The final addition, Lane Bess’ child, Cameron Bess (they / them), will make history for being half of the first parent-child duo to go to space. Blue Origin says, “Cameron identifies as pansexual and is proud to represent marginalised communities and hopes their journey can inspire others.” They studied computer science and game design at DigiPen Institute for Technology in Washington state. They developed an ‘engaging community across multiple platforms, producing original content and developing proprietary software to support their audience.’
Launch is slated for 9 December at 13h30 UTC. Also flying aboard will be a selection of postcards on behalf of Blue Origins’ Club for the Future foundation, bringing the postcards to space from students interested in STEM careers.
Eve and Senna Brand create Eve-Senna eVTOL; Volocopter takes flight over Incheon
Eve Air Mobility and Senna brand announced a collaboration to develop the eVTOL Eve-Senna. The project symbolises a vision of a sustainable future and innovation in the urban mobility market. The partnership also aims to contribute to the evolution of the future of mobility in Brazil and worldwide. The agreement comes as Eve, an organisation created by Embraer to boost the global Urban Air Mobility (UAM) ecosystem, celebrates its first year of operation. The Eve-Senna eVTOL design is inspired by SENNA brand’ vision of challenging boundaries and creating products with passion and purpose in an authentic and futuristic manner. The aircraft’s design, colours and interior promise to deliver a unique experience for its crew members and passengers.
“I was privileged to be part of the generation that accompanied Ayrton Senna’s career. His daring ability to overcome challenges, his achievements and his blending passion for technology, were an inspiration for my career in engineering. I am sure this partnership will inspire new generations to develop technologies that will transform the future,” said Andre Stein, CEO of Eve.
“It is in SENNA brand’ DNA to always challenge limits in every field of activity, providing the world with innovative products that show that overcoming limits is possible and necessary. In the fields of sustainability and mobility, we know that the future will be about creating new integrated locomotion solutions that focus on developing a sustainable economy, improving the quality of life worldwide and our planet. This challenge is collective, and we are collaborating with one of the leaders in this revolution, namely Eve. Associating with a company like Eve is a great privilege,” said Bianca Senna, CEO of Senna brand.
Eve aims to stimulate the co-creation and reimagining of UAM sustainably, thinking not only of the environment but also of the benefits for society. The partnership with Senna Brand reinforces this positioning and will inspire new generations for the future of mobility and accessibility.
Zipline delivers 4 Walmart
This past week Walmart and Zipline announced the launch of their new instant delivery service in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, where the service will make on-demand deliveries of select health and wellness and consumable items from the Walmart Neighbourhood Market. “Zipline’s autonomous aircraft present an incredible opportunity to offer customers an on-demand delivery option for the items they need now, such as a thermometer, non-prescription medication or an emergency pack of diapers,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president, Last Mile Delivery, Walmart US. “Even more, Zipline’s aircraft can help provide immediate access to needed items for both hard-to-reach and at-risk populations, such as rural communities and elderly customers. By bringing this game-changing technology to the rural community of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, we are continuing to look for ways to make shopping with Walmart convenient and easy – for everyone.”
Following the service’s initial announcement last fall, Walmart and Zipline have been collaborating on the construction of a first-of-its kind 25-foot platform which serves as the infrastructure for take-off and landing. Located directly behind the Neighbourhood Market, the platform houses several of Zipline’s autonomous aircraft as well as its flight operations crew. Zipline’s aircraft are capable of servicing a 50-mile radius at full capacity.
A Walmart associate will then hand the packaged product off to Zipline staff, who prepare the aircraft for launch. The aircraft then departs to the customer’s home, where it drops off the package and returns to the platform. The delivery status can be tracked through the Zipline app.
“We have seen first-hand the impact that instant logistics can have in making important, even lifesaving products, available on a moment’s notice,” said Zipline co-founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo. “At the same time, the past two years have proven the need to bring health products closer to home, where they are more accessible. Working with Walmart, we are able to bring this type of service to Northwest Arkansas, showcasing what the future of health access looks like.”
Zipline first started operating in 2016. Since then, the company has carried out more than 200,000 commercial deliveries of over 4.5 million units of medical supplies, serving more than 20 million people across multiple countries.
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