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Submission + - Dock with the ISS, ESA AstroDrone for AR.Drone (

garymortimer writes: "“For ESA, the result could be much more autonomous spacecraft that can reliably manoeuvre, dock or land themselves.” Remote-controlled drones were once the province of the military, but technology advances make them accessible now to everybody. “For ESA, this development opens up completely new ways of involving the public in scientific experiments,” noted Leopold Summerer, head of the Advanced Concepts Team. “We can obtain real-life data to train our algorithms in large amounts that would practically be impossible to get in any other way."

Submission + - Airship to Orbit, altitude record for American tea (

garymortimer writes: "Success for JP Aerospace and their airship to orbit project. They are claiming an altitude record for the twin envelope development craft by to soaring 95,085 feet above Nevada last month

The atmosphere as a ladder to space.

Balloons have carried people and machines to the edge of space for over seventy years. JP Aerospace is developing
the technology to fly a balloon or more accurately, their relative, the airship directly to orbit.

Flying an airship directly from the ground to orbit is not practical. An airship large enough to reach orbit would not survive the winds near the surface of the Earth. Conversely, an airship that could fly from the ground to upper atmosphere would not be light enough to reach space. The resulting configuration is a three-part architecture for using lighter-than-air vehicles to reach space."


Submission + - Manned X37B version suggested at Space 2011 ( 1

garymortimer writes: "Many conspiracy theorists already believe this can happen.

London, Oct 11 A Boeing chief has suggested that the company’s mysterious unmanned space-plane, called X-37B, developed for the US Air Force, could be scaled up and modified to carry astronauts.

The company’s X-37B project chief Art Grantz revealed that at least two more versions of the 9-metre long space-plane are under investigation – one of which involves adding a crew to a much-enlarged version of the space drone, New Scientist reported.

If built, the new version would give the US back its ability to shuttle people to the International Space Station."


Submission + - Flying saucer makes debut at Washington show (

garymortimer writes: AttoPilot International (API) have teamed up with AeroBat Aviation in a cooperative partnership to produce high quality low cost UAV systems. API is working with multiple groups in the maritime field on a low cost, water proof aircraft capable of up to 3hrs flight time with deep stall capabilities.

The circular winged platform is not unlike a flying saucer in flight.


Submission + - Flying Saucers are coming, the unmanned kind (

garymortimer writes: "An autonomous flying saucer for all, get ready for an increase in UFO sightings.

Aerobat Aviation Inc and Attopilot International have teamed up to add for the first time an autopilot to the innovate circular flying wing design. The circular winged craft promises flight performance increases across a wide speed range."


Submission + - Iran unveils unmanned flying saucer (

garymortimer writes: "TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran unveiled a home-made unmanned flying saucer as well as a light sports aircraft in an exhibition of strategic technologies.

The unmanned flying saucer, named “Zohal”, was unveiled in a ceremony attended by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

Zohal, designed and developed jointly by Farnas Aerospace Company and Iranian Aviation and Space Industries Association (IASIA), can be used for various missions, specially for aerial imaging.

The flying machine is equipped with an auto-pilot system, GPS (Global Positioning System) and two separate imaging systems with full HD 10 mega-pixel picture quality and is able to take and send images simultaneously."


Submission + - X37B secret space plane second launch today ( 1

garymortimer writes: "The X-37B will launch soon for a second 240 day flight and the cat and mouse game of following it will begin. Amateur astronomers have been able to find the orbit changing high flying UAV on at least two occasions after it altered height.

For the first X-37B OTV mission, Air Force officials focused on testing and evaluating the performance capabilities of the vehicle. This second mission will build upon the OTV-1 on-orbit demonstration, validate and replicate initial testing and fine tune the technical parameters of the vehicle tests."


Submission + - China flies its own X37B ?? (

garymortimer writes: A report published by China Aviation Journal, China has successfully launched its own space plane prototype, the news came out shortly after the US Air Force announced the successful test of their advanced X37B space plane, which is widely regarded as a next-generation super weapon that is even more dangerous than atomic bomb. This story has now been deleted.

Hong Kong’s Ming Pao daily on Tuesday said Shaanxi TV last Saturday quoted acting provincial governor Zhao Zhengyong as saying China has “succeeded in the test flight of a prototype aircraft that can fly through the atmospheric layer.” Zhao was visiting a state-run aircraft corporation at Xi’an high-tech industrial development zone.

Chinese officials say that their rocket powered space plane program may be a reaction to U.S. ambitions to dominate space and develop space planes, hypersonic transports and bombers.


Submission + - Android phone at the edge of space (

garymortimer writes: It seems like the google crowd are really keen to replicate what many in the sUAS world have been playing with for the last couple of years. It really will be interesting to see the UAS apps that must be coming for the Nexus S. Certainly a market Apple are not keen in light of the 4.2 TOS update.

Submission + - NASA to start flying balloons again ( 1

garymortimer writes: There is considerable interest in the sUAS world in lifting platforms to high altitude with balloons. What happens at NASA should be of interest.

NASA’s scientific balloon program is finally resuming flights this month after a mishap back in April put a hault on the project.

The high-altitude balloons fly instruments for scientific and technological investigations that help us better understand the universe. The scientific balloons are composed of a lightweight polyethylene film and fly to altitudes of nearly 25 miles carrying payloads weighing up to 6,000 pounds.

Recently, NASA listed a total of 25 causes of the accident including insufficient risk analysis, contingency planning, personnel training, government oversight and public safety accommodations. After an intense evaluation of safety processes following the failed launch attempt from Australia, NASA has deemed the balloons ready for departure.


Submission + - Boeing Phantom Ray hitches ride on 747 (

garymortimer writes: So many uses for old shuttle bits.

Phantom Ray rode the 747 out of Lambert International Airport in St. Louis in preparation for being transported to the Dryden Flight Research Center in California. Boeing’s Phantom Works operation had been working on the UAV at the company’s St. Louis facility.This is the first time that an aircraft other than the space shuttle has flown on the SCA, according to Boeing.At Dryden, the 36-foot-long Phantom Ray will undergo ground tests and high-speed taxi tests. It has already undergone low-speed taxi tests at Lambert field. “It communicated with the ground control station, received its orders and made its way down the runway multiple times, allowing us to assess its performance and monitor the advanced systems on board,” Boeing said in a statement in mid-November.


Submission + - X-37B landing video released by Air Force ( 1

garymortimer writes: Officials revealed several findings following a first glance at the vehicle after landing.

McKinney said the X-37B’s left tire blew out as the space plane rolled out after touchdown.

The craft’s main landing gear tires are about the size of a dinner plate and normally pressurized to about 300 psi. Engineers believe the X-37B may have struck something on the runway to cause the tire failure, but that’s just an early hypothesis, according to McKinney.

In the first few days after landing, inspections revealed about seven locations of damage from space debris. But some of the dings could be from the tire blowout as shredded pieces of the landing gear struck the bottom side of the space plane, McKinney said.

“I think as we get the data and we analyze it we’ll release it,” McKinney said.

Lt. Col. Troy Giese, the Air Force’s X-37B program manager, said the space plane’s first flight was a complete success.


Submission + - X 37B has landed. (

garymortimer writes: The unpiloted X-37B touched down at a US Air Force base in California at 0116 PST (0916 GMT).

The project has been shrouded in secrecy, prompting widespread speculation about the craft’s purpose.

The Air Force has not said whether it carried anything in its cargo bay, but insists the primary purpose of the mission was to test the craft itself.


Submission + - Secret mini shuttle X37B set to land soon. (

garymortimer writes: On its way home, after setting out in April the X37 might be back overnight tonight. Making its landing at Vandenberg AFB.

It will be the first ever autonomous re-entry and runway landing.

“Space professionals from the 30th Space Wing will monitor the de-orbit and landing of the Air Force’s first X-37B, called the Orbital Test Vehicle 1 (OTV-1),” says the Air Force in a statement.

“While the exact landing date and time will depend on technical and weather considerations, it is expected to occur between Friday, December 3, and Monday, December 6, 2010.”

The landing date was to be expected, given that the craft has been aloft since April and one of the few known facts about it is that it has a 270-day maximum flight time.


Submission + - Controversial Air Force Space Drone lost and found (

garymortimer writes: It was lost earlier in the week and now its found, satellite watcher Greg Roberts sighted the secret mini-shuttle flying over Cape Town, South Africa, on Oct 12th. An analysis of the sighting by satellite expert Ted Molczan suggests that the X-37B has maneuvered into an orbit 54 km lower than before. This is at very least the second time the orbit has changed.

Anything cut to length will be too short.