October's top stories: Nasa's rotor system and Hawker's bankruptcy exit

While Nasa tested a rotor system that could replace parachutes on spacecraft, US manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft outlined plans to emerge from bankruptcy. Aerospace-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from October 2012.


ISS changes orbit to avoid Japanese satellite debris

International Space Station

In the first week of October, the International Space Station (ISS) was manoeuvred into a different orbit in order to avoid a possible collision with debris from a Japanese spacecraft, according to the Russian space programme's Mission Control Centre.

The space station performs debris avoidance manoeuvres only if the chance of a collision is greater than one in 100,000.

Debris from defunct Russian military satellite Kosmos 2251 came closer to ISS on 27 September, which was followed by a fragment of an Indian spacecraft the next day.

Nasa to trial rotor system to replace parachutes on spacecraft

Rotor system

Nasa said it is testing a rotor system that could replace parachutes on spacecraft to control landings when returning to Earth's atmosphere.

The design would give a capsule the stability and control of a helicopter, but would not be powered.

Instead, the wind passing over the rotors as the capsule descends would make the blades turn, a process called auto-rotation that has been proven repeatedly on helicopters but never tried on spacecraft.

ISS partners to begin first year-long endurance mission in 2015

ISS

Also in October, Space agencies involved in the International Space Station (ISS) said they plan to embark on the first experimental year-long endurance mission in March 2015.

ISS is a joint programme between five space agencies, including Nasa, the Russian Federal Space Agency, JAXA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency.

Russia Federal Space Agency Roscosmos manned space missions chief Alexei Krasnov said that a basic decision on the mission has been made but the formalities were yet to be discussed.

The two-person expedition, with a Russian cosmonaut and a Nasa astronaut, will be twice as long as the ISS's typical six-month trips.

Europe and Russia collaborate on Lunar Polar Sample Return mission

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia's Roscosmos said they are collaborating to send an unmanned mission Lunar Polar Sample Return (LPSR) to bring frozen soil samples from the Moon in around 2020.

LPSR will use a robot to drill into the surface of the moon, either at the North or South Pole.

ESA official Bruno Gardini said researchers required a sample from the bottom of a non-illuminated crater, but this would be practically impossible with the existing technology.

The mission will use drill technology developed for the Europe's ExoMars mission, which is scheduled to launch a satellite to Mars in 2016 and a rover equipped with a drill in 2018.

Boeing confirms 2014 delivery schedule for first 787-9 Dreamliner

Dreamliner

Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner will be delivered to its first customer on schedule in 2014, with its maiden flight planned in the second quarter of 2013, the company announced in October.

American Airlines ordered 42 Boeing 787-9 aircraft in 2008, with the right to buy an additional 58, and deliveries were originally set for 2012.

American Airlines spokesman Andrea Huguely was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: "We are in discussions with Boeing and are working together toward a new delivery schedule."

Airbus to double annual purchasing from US suppliers by 2020

Airbus

Airbus intends to double its annual spending for the procurement of parts and services in the US to $24bn by 2020, supported by an international backlog of more than 4,400 aircraft.

The France-based firm plans to forge partnerships with suppliers, particularly from Southern California, where the company spends more than $1bn each year to procure tooling and services from more than 100 supplier companies.

The announcement was made by Airbus Americas chairman Allan McArtor at an educational summit in the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce in order to attract new supplier companies.

Boeing predicts $820bn market in North America by 2031

North America

Boeing has predicted that airlines in North America will take delivery of approximately 7,300 new aircraft, valued at $820bn, by 2031.

In its latest 2012 North America market outlook, the company stated that after taking into account the retirements of ageing aircraft, the fleet of aircraft in the continent will increase from the present 6,650 to about 8,830 during the next 20 years.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes Marketing vice president Randy Tinseth said the North American commercial aviation market was about to achieve a third consecutive year of profit, with modest passenger traffic growth.

Hawker Beechcraft outlines bankruptcy exit strategy

Hawker Beechcraft

US-based aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft has outlined plans to emerge from chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which would see senior lenders taking control of the company.

Senior creditors including Angelo Gordon, Centerbridge Partners, Sankaty Advisors and Capital Research & Management stand to gain 81.1% of the new equity in Hawker Beechcraft, while the remaining stake would be handed over to senior and junior noteholders.

This strategy is expected to enable Hawker to emerge as an independent company in early 2013.


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