February's top stories: ISRO launches 104 satellites, FAA's new report on collision

ISRO launched 104 satellites into space in a single mission, and the US FAA revealed that a number of reported collision incidents between aircraft and an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) could not be verified by the agency. Aerospace-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from February 2017.


ISRO launches 104 satellites into space aboard PSLV rocket

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 104 satellites into space in a single mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The satellites included a 714kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation, and were launched aboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket.

The Cartosat-2 series satellite and its 103 co-passenger satellites featured a combined weight of around 663kg at lift-off, and were placed in a 505km polar sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).

New FAA report shows no evidence of collision between drones and aircraft

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that a number of reported collision incidents between aircraft and an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) could not be verified by the agency.

The FAA recently released a new document featuring a list of pilot, air traffic controller, law enforcement and citizen reports of potential encounters with UAS.

According to FAA, investigations into incidents reported by commercial aircraft pilots revealed they were caused by either birds or a structural failure.

Mesa Airlines to add 12 new Embraer E175 aircraft to United Express fleet

US-based Mesa Airlines unveiled a plan to include 12 new Embraer 175 (E175) aircraft in its United Express fleet, which is the brand name for the regional branch of United Airlines.

The proposed plan will bring Mesa’s total number of E175 fleet to 60 and its total number of large regional jets to 145.

It will also take Mesa’s United Express’ total fleet count to 80 aircraft, which includes 20 CRJ700s.

Lockheed Martin unveils new LM-100J commercial freighter

Lockheed Martin introduced its new LM-100J commercial freighter, the first freighter variant of its C-130J Super Hercules family of aircraft.

The new LM-100J freighter is expected to commence its first flight later this year, and was manufactured at the company’s Super Hercules production line in Marietta, Georgia, US.

Lockheed Martin has already applied for a US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) civil type certificate update for the newly launched aircraft, which was first announced in 2014.

Singapore Airlines to buy 39 wide-body jets from Boeing for $13.8bn

Singapore Airlines (SIA) entered into a letter of intent with Boeing to purchase 39 wide-body aircraft for $13.8bn.

The order consists of 20 777-9 and 19 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft, and is intended to grow and modernise SIA’s fleet through the next decade.

It also includes six options for each aircraft type, which will increase the deal up to 51 aircraft if exercised.

Vencore wins $113m deal to support NOAA’s NESDIS services

US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded a $113m deal to Vencore to support its national environmental satellite, data and information service (NESDIS).

The deal has a one-year base period with four additional one-year options, and is part of NOAA’s systems engineering and technical services (SETS) contract.

NOAA acquires and manages the US’ operational environmental satellites through NESDIS.

Google to divest satellite imaging business Terra Bella to Planet Labs

Google signed a deal to sell its Terra Bella satellite imaging business to Planet Labs (Planet) for an undisclosed sum.

The agreement also includes Terra Bella’s SkySat constellation of seven high-resolution satellites and a multi-year contract that will see Google purchase Earth-imaging data from Planet.

A number of Terra Bella employees will also join Planet upon completion of the deal.

Liberty Hall buys aerospace composite structure provider Quatro

US-based equity firm Liberty Hall Capital Partners (Liberty Hall) acquired Quatro Composites for an undisclosed sum.

Quatro was established in 1997, and provides highly engineered advanced composite structures, components and assemblies to the aerospace industry, as well as medical and industrial markets.

The company serves various aerospace platforms such as the Boeing 787, Gulfstream G650 and Insitu X300, and operates a manufacturing centre in Iowa and a business innovation centre in California.

SpaceX wins new order to launch five Iridium satellites

SpaceX secured a new contract to launch five new satellites by Iridium Communications into space.

The satellites are spare units from the Iridium NEXT constellations, and are scheduled to be launched by early next year from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US.

The proposed launch will be shared by two satellites, which will be jointly operated by Nasa and GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences under the gravity recovery and climate experiment follow-on (GRACE-FO) mission.

Nasa discovers seven Earth-size exoplanets

Nasa’s Spitzer telescope found seven Earth-sized planets orbiting around a single star.

All of the newly found exoplanets could have liquid water, while three of them are located in the habitable zone.

The latest discovery is located around 235 trillion miles away from Earth, and is so far the biggest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside the solar system.