Photo of the week

B-25J “Panchito

Image credit: Mike Kopack

Image credit: Mike Kopack Phantom Productions Aviation Photography

Image credit: Mike Kopack

Image credit: Mike Kopack Phantom Productions Aviation Photography

Image credit: Mike Kopack

Image credit: Mike Kopack Phantom Productions Aviation Photography


Bristow teams with AgustaWestland on the AW609 tiltrotor

Bristow Group Inc., a leading provider of helicopter services, will team with AgustaWestland on its AW609 civil tiltrotor program. Under the agreement, AgustaWestland and Bristow will work to support the development of oil & gas and search and rescue dedicated configurations and capabilities. The companies would provide contribution to flying activities towards aircraft maturity and to address commercial aspects for future AW609 acquisitions.

Image credit: AgustaWestland

Image credit: AgustaWestland

Photo of the week

Image credit: Airman Ashlyn J. Correia

Year-long spaceflight begins

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka joined their Expedition 43 crewmates when the hatches between the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft and the International Space Station opened at 11:33 p.m. EDT Friday, March 27. Kelly and Kornienko will spend about a year on the space station to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space. This mission will provide bio-medical information for future long-duration human spaceflights such as a mission to Mars.

Gemini-Titan 3 launch, 50 years ago today

The first crewed Gemini flight, Gemini III, lifted off Launch Pad 19 at 9:24 a.m. EST on March 23, 1965. The spacecraft “Molly Brown” carried astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, command pilot, and John W. Young, pilot, on three orbits of Earth. Gemini III’s primary goal was to test the new, maneuverable spacecraft. In space, the crew members fired thrusters to change the shape of their orbit, shift their orbital plane slightly, and drop to a lower altitude. The revolutionary orbital maneuvering technology paved the way for rendezvous missions later in the Gemini Program and proved it was possible for a lunar module to lift off the moon and dock with the lunar orbiting command module for the trip home to Earth. It also meant spacecraft could be launched to rendezvous and dock with an orbiting space station.


Airbus Helicopters reveals its new H160 helicopter

At Heli-Expo, Airbus Helicopters reveals its high-technology H160 helicopter. Development of the H160 began in 2013, with the definition of the final aircraft configuration confirmed this year. The helicopter’s first flight is planned to take place in 2015 and service entry is planned for 2018. The H160 is a medium helicopter that features:

  • Advanced rotor blade design.
  • Canted Fenestron.
  • New generation Tubomeca Arrano turboshaft engine.
  • Biplane stabilizer.
  • Electrical landing gear.
  • Composite airframe.
  • Helionix digital avionics.


Spectacular discoveries on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

Data from Cassini suggests that Saturn’s moon Enceladus has a deep ocean underneath its ice and hydrothermal activity.

Juperiter’s moon Ganymede probably also has an ocean.

Image credit: NASA JPL

Gulfstream G650 wins Collier Trophy

The National Aeronautic Association has awarded Gulfstream the Collier Trophy for the G650 business jet. The Collier Trophy is the most prestigeous award in American aerospace.

Other nominees for the 2014 Collier Trophy were:

  • Alan Eustace and the StratEx Team
  • Embraer Legacy 500
  • F-16 Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance Team
  • General Aviation Joint Steering Committee
  • Orion Exploration Flight Test-1
  • Aurora Flight Sciences Orion UAS


Orbital ATK Successfully Complete QM-1 for the SLS Solid Rocket Booster

A big step forward for the Space Launch System.

Image credit: Orbital ATK


Video Credit & Copyright: NASA.

The largest, most powerful rocket booster ever built successfully fired up Wednesday for a major-milestone ground test in preparation for future missions to help propel NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft to deep space destinations, including an asteroid and Mars. The booster fired for two minutes, the same amount of time it will fire when it lifts the SLS off the launch pad, and produced about 3.6 million pounds of thrust. The test was conducted at the Promontory, Utah test facility of commercial partner Orbital ATK.

My writeup on QM-1:

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Dawn enters orbit around Ceres

The NASA Dawn spacecraft has entered orbit around Ceres, becoming the first man-made satellite of a dwarf plant.

Ceres, imaged by the Dawn spacecraft