NASA Glenn Research Center icing courses for pilots

NASA Glenn Research Center has excellent online courses for pilots about icing.


Perlan 2 first flight

The Perlan 2 glider had its first flight on September 23. The test pilots were Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock.

Perlan 2 is designed to fly to 90,000 feet at the edge of space to explore the science of giant mountain waves that help create the ozone hole and change global climate models. This will require the engineering of a spacecraft with glider wings that can fly in less than 3% of normal air density and at temperatures of -70 degrees C, conditions approximating the surface of Mars.

DARPA XS-1 spaceplane concept

DARPA is progressing on their XS-1 reusable spaceplane concept.

NASA’s superb outreach on the internet

How they did it.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Hawaii

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Hawaii after a 4 day 22 hour flight from Japan.

Image credit: Solar Impulse

Image credit: Solar Impulse

Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design

There’s a lot of wisdom in these laws, learned the hard way and at great cost.

Solar Impulse flies across the Pacific to Hawaii

Solar Impulse, the solar powered aircraft attempting an around-the-world flight, is currently over the Pacific Ocean, flying from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii. As I type, it has been aloft for 2 days, 9 hours, 14 minutes. The pilot for this leg is André Borschberg.


Low Density Supersonic Decelerator shreds during flight test

During a flight test on June 8, 2015, the NASA JPL Low Density Supersonic Decelerator shredded. This experiment is a concept demonstrator for an advanced aerobraking technique for future Mars missions. The first flight was on June 29, 2014. A third test is planned.

It’s worthwhile to keep in mind that as much or more can be learned from a failure as from a success. And if it were easy, it wouldn’t be rocket science.

Sikorsky S-97 RAIDER first flight

Sikorsky flew its S-97 RAIDER rigid coaxial rotor prototype for the first time on May 22, 2015. During the first test flight, which lasted approximately one hour, RAIDER Pilot Bill Fell and Co-Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck took the aircraft through a series of maneuvers designed to test the aircraft’s hover and low-speed capability.


USAFTPS flight tests L1 adaptive flight control laws

“An adaptive flight controller that could help pilots save a critically damaged or out-of-control aircraft is being proposed for possible commercial development following a rigorous evaluation by U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) students, using Calspan’s variable-stability Learjet 25 test aircraft.

The L1 controller is designed to automatically intervene in the case of control problems, immediately reconfiguring the flight control system to compensate for degraded flying qualities from mechanical failure or battle damage to a control surface, or even the unintended result of shifting center-of-gravity inflight for better cruise performance. Acting as a backup to the standard flight control system, the L1 is designed to provide safe, predictable, reliable and repeatable responses that would free up pilots to deal with the emergency and further compensate for reduced performance.

In development for more than a decade by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the L1 controller architecture differs from most previous approaches to adaptive control systems. Until now, the standard has been gain-scheduled control systems in which the flight control computer selects the appropriate preprogrammed gains to suit current flight conditions and vehicle configuration. However, the L1 works in real-time to predict transient behavior and estimates lumped uncertainties, rather than every individual parameter that can affect system dynamics; it compensates for them within the bandwidth of a control channel.

The L1 controller comprises three blocks: a state predictor, a fast estimation scheme and a control law. The fast estimation scheme includes a state predictor and a fast estimation law which together approximate the dynamics of the aircraft to generate estimates of the uncertainties. These estimates are provided as input to a bandwidth-limited filter which generates a control signal to the flight control system.

L1 development from theory to flight test has been led by Naira Hovakimyan, a professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois, who worked on the concept under Air Force funding between 2004 and 2008 at Virginia Tech with postdoctoral fellow Chengyu Cao (now at the University of Connecticut).”

Link to full article.