To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Sep. 2: FAA's Pace In Regulating UAS Industry Criticized
Date: Tue Sep 02 12:04:18 MDT 2014
Policy News - State
FAA’s Pace In Regulating UAS Industry Criticized.
The Watertown (NY) Daily Times (8/31, Booker) reported on commercial UAS operations, which continues “in defiance of the Federal Aviation Administration, which has barred such businesses from operating while it develops rules for the industry.” Taking the example of a local business that relies on UAS use, the article notes that the FAA “has sporadically cracked down on the banned commercial use of drones” having “issued fines and cease-and-desist letters in some cases,” but many business owners believe that the FAA is pursuing a “piecemeal approach” to UAS regulations. Secretary Foxx stated, “The safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace is our number one priority.” Foxx continued by pointing out that “the agricultural research performed in Rome also may have far-reaching benefits to farmers in New York and across the nation.”
FAA Focuses On Education, Not Punishment When Enforcing UAS Policy. The Dallas Morning News (8/29, Scudder) reported that “drone technology is rapidly outpacing Federal Aviation Administration regulations, which has led to numerous conflicts with commercial entities operating on the frontier of legality and technology.” FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford commented, “The FAA promotes voluntary compliance by educating individual [drone] operators about how they can operate safely under current regulations and laws. ... The FAA may take enforcement action against anyone who operates [drones] in a way that endangers the safety of the national airspace system.” power which “is designed to protect users of the airspace, as well as people and property on the ground.”
NASA Working On Traffic Control System For UAVs. The New York Times (9/1, Dougherty, Subscription Publication) reported that while there is “enthusiasm” in the industry for using UAVs for commercial ventures, there are still several technical challenges to overcome like how “to manage that menagerie of low-flying aircraft.” Parimal H. Kopardekar, who manages NASA’s work toward developing the traffic control system for UAVs, said, “One at a time you can make them work and keep them safe. ... But when you have a number of them in operation in the same airspace, there is no infrastructure to support it.” Kopardekar said, “In agriculture, I’m hoping we will see some action inside of the next year,” with the possibility of seeing UAVs deliver packages in rural areas maybe five years. However, according to the article, it may take longer to have UAVs making deliveries in cities.
House Near SpaceX Control Center To Be Renovated For Residential Use.
The Rio Grande Valley (TX) Morning Star (8/29, Perez-Treviño) reported that two building permit applications indicate that a home in Cameron County owned by Elon Musk’s Dogleg Park LLC is going to be renovated. The building would be used for residential use. The article noted that the residence is on a piece of property “adjacent to three parcels of land proposed for Space Exploration Technology’s control center area, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.”
SpaceX Faces Another Class Action Suit. Doug Messier at Parabolic Arc (8/31) wrote that there is now a second class action suit against SpaceX for the “mass firing of at least 200 workers in July.” SpaceX claimed that it will “vigorously defend itself” against the four lawsuits it now faces.
California Weighing Plan To Overhaul Mojave Air And Space Port.
Doug Messier at Parabolic Arc (8/29) wrote that California state legislators are reviewing a plan to transform the Mojave Air and Space Port “from a dusty flight and rocket test center into a destination for researchers and tourists.” Messier noted that there are “two main challenges” with this plan: to raise enough money for the project and to not ruin it as an “ideal...test center.” The plan does involve “extensive improvements to the Mojave spaceport.”
Policy News - Federal
Nelson: Congress Will Give SLS More Than Requested By The Administration.
The WOFL-TV Orlando, FL (9/1, Synan) website reports that Sen. Bill Nelson said that Congress will be providing NASA with more funds for the Space Launch System (SLS) than requested by President Obama because “if you fund it at the level requested by the president, they won’t make December of 2017. That’s why we are going to put in about $225 million more. Then NASA will have a chance.” According to the article, the project has already suffered from “delays and budget overruns.” Nelson said, “Every time we have always exceeded the expectations. We have kept the space program on the way and on its goal” to Mars.
NASA, SpaceX Could One Day Have Competing Heavy Rockets. NASA Space Flight (8/29, Bergin) reported that the SLS may soon be in a “battle” with SpaceX’s super powerful Exploration Class rocket. Both NASA and SpaceX want to use their rockets to send people to Mars, yet the two groups are not characterizing themselves as competitors, according to the article. The article noted that the SLS still needs “a viable number of missions,” and could be at risk when the next Administration enters office in 2016. SpaceX, meanwhile, currently has “sketchy details” for its Super Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (SHLV), sometimes referred to as the Big “Frakking” Rocket (BFR). However, components of its Raptor engine are being readied for testing at the Stennis Space Center. According to the article, while SpaceX is not commenting much on NASA’s SLS, if SpaceX does make “solid progress,” comparisons between the SLS and BFR will be “almost unavoidable.”
GAO Upholds NASA Decision To Open Balloon Facility Management To Competition.
William Welch at the Washington Business Journal (8/29, Subscription Publication) “Fedbiz Daily” blog reviewed how the Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest by New Mexico State University (NMSU). The university claimed that NASA’s attempt to “neutralize the competitive advantage of a 25-year incumbent” for a contract to manage the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility was too restrictive. The GAO determined that what NASA did was “unobjectionable in view of NASA’s broader objective, which is consistent with the overarching mandate of CICA to obtain full and open competition for the government’s requirements.” Welch found what NASA did to encourage competition “refreshing” and applauded the agency’s efforts.
Boeing Seeking Buyers For Early Version Of 787 Dreamliner.
The Wall Street Journal (8/29, Ostrower, Subscription Publication) reported that Boeing is having trouble finding buyers for nine 787 Dreamliners jets that were built early in the aircraft’s production cycle. Two customers canceled orders for the planes earlier this month. These Dreamliners were built in 2009 and 2010 and there are concerns that previous design and supply chain struggles may cause these jets to have slight delay shortcomings. Nevertheless, Boeing said the 787 has acquired more than 1,000 orders and it has delivered over 180 since the first Dreamliner entered commercial service in September 2011.
Pratt & Whitney Suspended F-35 Engine Delivers Due To Titanium.
Bloomberg News (8/29, Capaccio) reported that Pratt & Whitney suspended F-35 jet engine deliveries because an “in-house inspection and testing process” generated doubts about where supplier A&P Alloys’ titanium came from. All the questionable titanium has been replaced. According to the article, Pratt & Whitney has issued “30 ‘potential problem notifications’” since last October, “including some that delayed the assembly of engines.” The Defense Contract Management Agency noted back in June that these notifications are primarily the result of the company’s “continued poor management of suppliers.”
US Military Issues RFI For Replacement V-22 Engines.
The Wall Street Journal (9/1, Wall, Subscription Publication) reports that the Pentagon is examining ways to cut costs of the V-22 Osprey program, including assessing V-22 engine options which could threaten Rolls-Royce’s position as the Osprey’s sole engine provider. The Journal notes that military aircraft programs rarely switch engine makers.
“Intense” Commercial Crew Competition Expected To End Soon.
The CBS Evening News (8/29, story 9, 2:05, Dubois) broadcast on NASA’s “imminent” decision for the “intense competition” to choose whether SpaceX, Boeing, or Sierra Nevada will develop the spacecraft to launch astronauts to the ISS. Reporter Manuel Bojorquez said that the current front-runner appears to be SpaceX because it is already sending cargo to the ISS. Meanwhile, John Mulholland, who heads Boeing’s program, said that the money NASA is spending is well worth it because it is “significantly less” than what NASA is now paying Russia, and it adds a “level of redundancy” that helps ensure the “long-term viability of the space station.”
Florida Today (8/31, Dean) similarly noted that the “highly anticipated” decision for the Commercial Crew Program could come “any day.” The article noted that, because the exact budget NASA will receive from Congress is still up in the air, the “first major decision” to be made is just how many of the competitors NASA will fund. Many expect NASA will select two companies because it has “consistently” stated that competition is important. Astronaut Leroy Chiao, a member of the Augustine Committee, reportedly called the Commercial Crew Program “a bright spot for NASA” no matter which company wins.
Baltimore Sun: Commercial Crew Could Spur Space Industry. The Baltimore Sun (8/31) editorialized on the Commercial Crew Program, commenting that the spacecraft developed through the program would not only end reliance on Russia, but also provide a “huge boost to the U.S. commercial space industry.” The editors noted that there are those who are skeptical that commercial spaceflight could ever be as cheap as some proponents claim. However, there were the same doubts when airplanes were beginning to fly commercially back in the 1920s and 1930s.
X-37B Spacecraft Passes 600 Days In Orbit.
In his column for SPACE (8/29), Leonard David wrote that the US Air Force’s X-37B space plane is now over 600 days into its Orbital Test Vehicle-3 (OTV-3) mission with “no end” in sight. Joan Johnson-Freese of the US Naval War College said that its long time in space does appear to concur with the service’s “broad, officially stated goal” of using the vehicle as a test bed. According to David, while the military is still not saying exactly what the X-37B is doing, the Air Force has a “clearly visible” interest in utilizing space.
Orion Capsule Now Has Its Back Shell.
Ken Kremer at Universe Today (8/30) wrote that as part of the “final stages” of preparing the Orion crew capsule for its first flight in December, engineers at the Kennedy Space Center have installed the “Orion’s back shell panels which will protect the spacecraft and future astronauts from the searing heat of reentry.” Kremer noted that the engineers also modified the back shell in order “to see just how vulnerable” Orion is to a micrometeoroid impact by drilling two small holes. Joseph Olejniczak, manager of Orion aerosciences, said, “We want to know how much of the hot gas gets into the bottom of those cavities. ... We have models that estimate how hot it will get to make sure it’s safe to fly, but with the data we’ll gather from these tiles actually coming back through Earth’s atmosphere, we’ll make new models with higher accuracy.”
Los Angeles Area Home To Nation’s Largest Manufacturing Hub.
The Los Angeles Times (9/2, Hsu) reports data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the area of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Santa Ana is home to the largest manufacturing workforce in the country, with 510,900 manufacturing workers. The area beat out Chicago and the New York/Northern New Jersey area. The article attributes the label to the area’s “massive size and long history as a manufacturing base.”
EdVenture To Develop New Exhibit With NASA Grant.
The Columbia (SC) Daily (9/2, Petty) reports that with a $893,308 grant from NASA, the EdVenture Children’s Museum will develop “an interactive exhibit gallery with a focus on the science and technology of flight.” The museum was one of 12 groups to receive the grant through NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums, and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities program. According to the article, the museum hopes that the exhibit can aid the “local and state workforce’s growing aeronautics industry.”
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