The future is Fractionated spacecraft

MODULAR SPACE A project to demonstrate that a large, monolithic satellite can be replaced by smaller, networked spacecraft launched individually and flying in formation has begun with the award of contracts to four teams by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Orbital Sciences will begin design work under the first phase of DARPA's System F6 project - for Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated and Free-Flying - with the goal of demonstrating a fractionated spacecraft in orbit in four years. For more details on System F6 see next week's Flight International.

UAV keeps on going with hybrid power

ENERGY STORAGE Two months after its Puma unmanned air vehicle flew for 7h on fuel-cell power, AeroVironment (AV) has extended the UAV's endurance by almost 30% to over 9h using Protonex Technology's Pulse fuel-cell/battery hybrid energy storage system. The work was performed under contract to the US Air Force Research Laboratory, which says: "The successful extended duration capability demonstrated through this programme has the potential to expand the utility of hand-launched unmanned air systems." AV developed the battery pack, power electronics and controls used in conjunction with Protonex's Pulse system. The previous 7h flight used the Protonex ProCore fuel cell system.

India develops safe flight control system

AVIONICS India is to base new safety-critical flight control systems for defence programmes on the Ada computer language. The Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment is using commercial software company AdaCore's GNAT Pro development environment and Wind River's operating software to develop avionics meeting the DO-178B standard for safety-critical systems. ADE is part of the Indian Defence Research & Development Organisation.

Nano-satellite to track ships' transponders

IDENTIFICATION Providing maritime awareness by tracking ships' transponder signals from space is to be demonstrated later this year when the Space Flight Laboratory at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies launches a nano-satellite equipped with an advanced receiver for the internationally required automatic identification system (AIS). The Norwegian government-funded AISSat-1 satellite is being developed by Com Dev International, which says the receiver will be able to handle large numbers of overlapping AIS signals to provide an integrated picture of the maritime domain.

USAF seeks next advances in turbine engines

PROPULSION The US Air Force Research Laboratory has solicited proposals to develop technologies under the second and third phases of the Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engines (VAATE) programme. Areas include adaptive engines, intelligent controls, low-observable installation, high power extraction, integrated thermal management and low-cost, high-Mach propulsion. VAATE has three phases aiming for a fourfold increase in capability/cost by 2009, sixfold by 2013 and tenfold by 2017.

Source: Flight International