Aeronautics Degree Program as Enrolled essay

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The student has provided research on various vibration analytic techniques such as the use of Laser Vibrometry for Damage Detection using Lamb Waves in discovery processes to detect microcracks.

Outcome 3. The Information Literacy competency was satisfied through the research efforts made by the student through data gathering regarding aircraft structures and vibrations qualification techniques retrieved from the MIL-STD-810F and NASA Langley Research Laboratory. Techniques include Fatigue Damage Spectrum (FDS) which enables the use of testing and servicing evidence to be utilized on more than one aircraft platform and Shock Response Spectrum (SRS). All of these techniques are used to promote spacecraft/aircraft airworthiness and sustainment.

Outcome 4. The Communication competency was fulfilled through an analysis of the research collected from NASA experiments and FAA studies and their influence on dealing with structural failure through shock loads and transient vibrations. Furthermore, discussions focused on how these results have shaped methodologies in the manufacturing, design, and maintenance of new materials for future spacecraft/aircraft.

Outcome 5. The competency of Scientific Literacy was fulfilled through an analysis of measured explosive shock motion data in regards to vehicle sensitivity to pyrotechnic shock loads. Within the analysis, a discussion of the Titan II, Gemini, and Titan III launch vehicles were made in regards to faring separation analyses made by NASA during spaceflights, and these studies covered Equivalent Sinusoidal (ES) testing that simulates maximum transient levels encountered by the vehicles during re-entry and launch phases to and from Earth.

Outcome 8. The Aeronautical Science competency was fulfilled by providing research in regards to how the aerodynamic components of spacecraft are affected during re-entry phases but also during sonic speeds on aircraft. An explanation was made on how transient vibration frequencies cause aerodynamic heating on wing structures which has a negative effect on airworthy structures. Furthermore, to accurately address the aeronautical science outcome, a review on the effects of payload faring induction of aerodynamic buffeting during spaceflights.

Outcome 11. The Aviation Management and Operations competency was fulfilled through the discussion of the application of system safety management styles resulting in changes to system engineering philosophies and protocols. A comprehensive investigation explained the various techniques system safety management specialists would utilize in an effort to improve aerospace operations. The analytical techniques include fault tree analysis and project evaluation tree charts while dealing with the sophistication of spacecraft advancement and the evolving principles in the system safety management of transient vibrations and acoustic load inputs.

Comprehensive Question 5.

Statement of the question. New issues have begun to emerge as the aviation/aerospace industry increases the understanding of the major impacts and effects of space weather. These issues include spaceflight mission cancellations and severe impacts to aviation operations. Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Environment Center (SEC) provides space weather forecasts and products useful to the aviation/aerospace industry. What advances in space weather detection systems and education curricula are the FAA and NOAA implementing to help the aviation industry understand space weather effects and their impact on aviation operations? What policy issues need to be addressed to ensure the best use of current space weather information?

Program outcomes addressed by this question.

Outcome 1. The Critical Thinking competency was fulfilled by addressing the issues surrounding the aviation industry and its failure to understand the effects of space weather phenomena including degradation or loss of HF radio transmission and satellite navigation signals; navigation system disruptions, avionic errors, not to mention solar radiation being extremely harmful to human life. The analysis included what is at stake if the space weather phenomenon is not taken seriously by the aviation industry. Inclusive to this discussion was an explanation of the damage that can be caused by Corona Mass Ejections (CMEs) type events and the best way to develop hazard mitigation strategies as well as how to provide hazard and disaster information where and when it is needed through the forerunning centers of early detection of solar weather events by the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SPWC).

Outcome 3. The Information Literacy competency was satisfied through research efforts made by the student collecting data in application to space weather and forecast detection systems retrieved from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the FAA. The discussion focused on the economic, operational, and safety concerns such as cross-polar air traffic routes, history of space weather events and the effects solar radiation and cosmic rays on human health.

Outcome 4. The Communication competency was fulfilled through analyzing research collected from NASA, FAA, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) studies and their influence in addressing the impacts, effects and understanding of space weather phenomena in the aviation/aerospace industry. Other discussions focused on the recommendations for improving the policies and procedures associated with developing, distributing, and using space weather information.

Outcome 6. The Cultural Literacy competency was fulfilled by effectively analyzing how space weather events have influenced the aerospace/aviation industry to address policy issues including establishing educational programs for decision makers (ATC, crew, operations managers, pilots, dispatchers and engineers). The review addressed the specific recommendations for the integration of space weather observations and forecasts into aviation operations to raise awareness on space weather impacts to aviation safety as well as commercial and non-commercial space travel.

Comprehensive Question One

Statement of the Comprehensive Examination Question.

What is the anticipated effect on space travel if the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) allowed for the commercialization of space travel and private sector participation in human spaceflight? What are the national security and legal ramifications of dual use of space technology?

Research & Answering of the Question

The interconnection and correlation of commercial and/or private ventures with governmental space operations such as NASA has already begun. As any versed person knows, the Space Shuttle is no longer in use and this will not be changing in the future. Rather than NASA designing a revised and revamped space vehicle, more has been diverted towards private companies taking over the design, maintenance and actual execution of space flights, up to and including issuing government contracts for companies to do just that (Hertzfeld, 2005)(Congress, 2011)(MIT, 2008)(Waldrop, 2003).

The most prominent (but far from the only) company engaging in this is Space Exportation Technologies Incorporated, often shortened to Space-X. Founded in 2002, Space-X is the creation of PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. The Dragon spacecraft and Falcon launch vehicles are fast becoming the standard vehicles used for space flights initiating from the United States. Space-X's contracts and arrangements include some with NASA but also involve contracts with private sector companies, such as those launching satellites, and other government agencies such as the United States military (Hertzfeld, 2005)(Congress, 2011)(MIT, 2008)(Waldrop, 2003).

There are a number of implications that are not necessarily positive as it relates to the commercialization of space flight and the ramifications involved must be taken very seriously. These implications include concerns over property rights, so to speak, in space (not unlike the battles over Antarctica) and national security concerns. It is messy enough to have Russia (especially when they were still the U.S.S.R.) and the United States hashing it out during the Cold War. Now it is even more complex with private companies, some perhaps with less than good intentions and motives, entering into the space fray (Hertzfeld, 2005)(Congress, 2011)(MIT, 2008)(Waldrop, 2003).

Omnipresent in any discussion about the militarization or commercialization of space is the possibility of weapons of mass destruction and/or nuclear devices being deployed in space. This has not verifiably happened as of yet but it certainly could in the future and there are a number of powerful nations that could do so using one method or another. The list of countries in play is not limited to the United States and Russia. Even countries like Iran and North Korea have the capability or act as if they do, at the very least (Hertzfeld, 2005)(Congress, 2011)(Waldrop, 2003).

Information collected from NASA and FAA experiments and general flight data is useful but there are some entities that do not trust that data or feel that the data is based on incomplete or short-sighted data sets. Another ramification is that opening up space travel to the commercial sphere opens up a literal Pandora's Box of opportunities for illicit equipment and arms trading (or stealing) and there is perhaps an advantage to be touted when only governmental agencies have the ability (or they are the only ones that are allowed by their applicable nation state) to enter the realm of space (Hertzfeld, 2005)(Congress, 2011) (Waldrop, 2003).

Indeed, it is clear that there must be significant regulation and monitoring of private companies that engage in space travel or supply the same. To leave this business avenue unregulated and uncontrolled will only lead to problems and all nations allowing for commercial space travel must keep very close tabs on what is going on and that the utmost standards of quality and ethics are maintained (Hertzfeld, 2005)(Congress, 2011)(Waldrop, 2003).

Thus far, the international precedent regarding space as it relates to property rights is…[continue]

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