Europe, Japan weigh cargo return from space station

August 31, 2010 at 9:52 am | Posted in Space Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: SpaceFlight Now

The European and Japanese space agencies are considering upgrades to outfit their robotic space station servicing spacecraft to return cargo to Earth, potentially laying the groundwork for crewed capsules by the 2020s.

The European Space Agency awarded a contract to EADS Astrium in July 2009 for an 18-month study of an Advanced Re-entry Vehicle. Worth 21 million euros, or $27 million at contemporary exchange rates, the contract covers Astrium analysis and studies of a beefed up capsule with a heat shield that could survive a fiery return to Earth and land in the ocean.

Astrium is the lead contractor on the ATV.

Engineers are scheduled to finish the 18-month Phase A study near the end of 2010, according to Simonetta Di Pippo, the director of ESA’s human spaceflight programs…more

NASA Selects Two Firms for Experimental Space Vehicle Test Flights

August 31, 2010 at 9:46 am | Posted in Space Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: NASA

WASHINGTON — NASA’s Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program (CRuSR) has awarded a total of approximately $475,000 to Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Texas and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif. The awards will allow the two companies to perform test flights of their experimental vehicles near the edge of space.

The flights will demonstrate the capabilities of new vehicles to provide recoverable launch and testing of small payloads going to “near-space,” the region of Earth’s atmosphere between 65,000 and 350,000 feet. The CRuSR program fosters the development of commercial reusable transportation to near space. The overall goal of the program is regular, frequent and predictable access to near-space at a reasonable cost with easy recovery of intact payloads…more

Canadian PM Announces Support For Next Gen Of Satellites

August 30, 2010 at 8:21 am | Posted in Remote Sensing Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog  faculty

Source: Space Mart

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced support for the next phase of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), a system of three advanced remote sensing satellites.

“By supporting the world-class RADARSAT Constellation Mission, our Government will ensure Canada maintains its role as a world leader in aerospace technology,” Prime Minister Harper said.

“This cutting-edge project will create highly-skilled jobs, and attract the world’s best scientists, technicians and engineers to Canada’s world-renowned space industry.”…more

NASA Aims to Ease Doubts Over Private Space Taxis

August 30, 2010 at 8:14 am | Posted in Space Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: Space.com

WASHINGTON — NASA is reassuring commercial space firms that it will be a supportive customer for privately built space taxis even as it cautions that Congress could stymie efforts to foster development of such vehicles.

During an Aug. 19 industry event at NASA headquarters here, agency officials said 35 companies had responded to a May 21 NASA solicitation seeking input on the fledgling commercial crew initiative that U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed for a $5.8 billion investment over the next five years.

“We believe that we can fund up to four providers with that $5.8 billion,” Phil McAlister, NASA’s commercial crew planning lead, told an audience of mostly space industry executives and advocates attending the forum. “This is going to be a challenging program for both NASA and the private sector, and if somebody stumbles along the way we would like to have other providers that hopefully we can rely on.” [6 Companies That Could Launch Humans Into Space]…more

NASA TV Airs Interview Excerpts About Assistance To Trapped Miners In Chile

August 30, 2010 at 8:11 am | Posted in Aerospace Law Interfaces | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: NASA

HOUSTON — NASA Television will air excerpts of an interview with Dr. Michael Duncan, who is leading a NASA team to Chile. NASA has been asked by the Chilean government through the U.S. Department of State to provide technical advice that might assist the trapped miners at the San Jose gold and copper mine near Copiapo, Chile.

Mexicana Stops Flying

August 30, 2010 at 7:53 am | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: AVweb

Mexicana, Mexico’s largest airline, stopped flying at noon on Saturday, telling passengers still holding tickets it was sorry for the inconvenience. The airline entered bankruptcy protection earlier and was trying to reorganize when parent company Grupo Mexicana pulled the pin, citing, among other things, the inability to reach deals with unionized employees. “Financial deterioration and lack of agreements forced Grupo Mexicana to stop flying,” the company said in a statement. The collapse also shut down the company’s budget spinoffs Click and Link, even though both were reportedly making money. Those who’ve paid for flights can apply for refunds and efforts are being made to help out at least some passengers who had already flown one or more legs of their trip. Meanwhile, Mexicana’s chief competitor Aeromexico is offering discounted fares to those holding Mexicana tickets.

Aeromexico announced Sunday it will offer flat-fare tickets to stranded Mexicana passengers based on flight duration and, in some cases, destination. All the subsidized tickets are for standby seats. Also, Aeromexico doesn’t fly everywhere Mexicana did. Aeromexico is increasing service on heavily used domestic routes to accommodate the extra passengers.

Arizona Rejects More Flight School Fees

August 30, 2010 at 7:50 am | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: AVweb

Arizona education officials have apparently decided against following California in imposing potentially onerous financial and regulatory requirements on Part 61 flight schools. The Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education unanimously rejected a proposal to consider Part 61 flight schools as “vocational” programs. Doing so would have made the generally smaller and less federally regulated schools subject to financial performance regulations and annual fees aimed at least partly at ensuring students would be protected if the school suddenly ceased operations. Aviation groups and flight instructor organizations spoke against the Arizona proposal at a meeting in Phoenix last week, saying the new rules might force otherwise upstanding and successful flight schools out of business. However, a group that loosely represents students who have collectively lost tens of millions of dollars to corrupt or incompetent flight schools has a different take on the Arizona decision..more

FAA Responds to Diamond Door Departures

August 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: AVweb

Responding to “several reports of the rear passenger door departing the airplane in flight” the FAA Wednesday published proposed rules for owners of certain Diamond aircraft models. “Several reports” appears to translate to 31, according to the FAA, and affected models are DA40 and DA40F airplanes. The FAA is proposing to change the models’ “emergency open doors procedure” via temporary revision to the aircrafts’ flight manuals and apply an “improved design” to an open door retention mechanism on some aircraft. The physical change required for door retaining brackets would affect 428 airplanes in the U.S. registry at an estimated cost of $245 per aircraft. But that change does not affect the door locking mechanism, itself, which Diamond says appears to be fine … so long as pilots actually close the door.

The FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is accepting comments prior to Oct. 12, 2010, and is available online.

Arizona board to consider flight school regulations, fees

August 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Posted in Aviation Law | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: AOPA

The Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education will meet Aug. 26 to consider regulating Part 61 flight schools as “private vocational programs”—making those schools subject to regulatory requirements and fees similar to those in a controversial new California law.

As with the California law, this proposed reinterpretation of current Arizona law is intended to protect the financial wellbeing of students. But AOPA thinks that it could result in the same unintended consequences: saddling flight schools with a financial burden that may be insurmountable for some, and possibly leading to flight school closures. AOPA Western Regional Representative Stacy Howard will be on hand to testify about the potential effects of adopting a new interpretation of the law…more

Tight Budgets, Needs Alter USN Robotic Efforts

August 26, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: Aviation Week

Fiscal constraints will be a major driving factor in the capabilities that the U.S. Navy will seek in unmanned vehicles in the coming years, says the chief of naval operations, Adm. Gary Roughead.

However, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) will be called upon to fill what he calls a “capability gap” in the Navy’s ability to collect intelligence in the maritime domain.

Despite the potential for unmanned systems to be “potential game-changers” in how the Navy conducts its operations, they will not be independent from the fleet and will require links to nearby Navy assets. “We do not have the luxury, even if we have the desire,” for unmanned systems to operate independently, Roughead said in a speech at the Association of Unmanned Vehicles International Unmanned Systems North America 2010 conference here…more

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