Volume 01 | Issue 18 | October 05, 2020
UAS Medical Delivery, Data Center on Chip, SpaceX Update

Welcome back to the Future of Aerospace, where each week we dive into a few of the trends rapidly defining the next generation of aircraft and aerial markets.

The FAA Administrator completed his individual test flight of the 737 MAX last week (more on that here), and this week features two technology-heavy virtual events that will present updates on disruptive new technologies that will enable major advancements for the future of the aerospace industry:

NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference (GTC), and the Vertical Flight Society's virtual Forum 76.

Look out for more in-depth reporting on presentations and discussions from both of these events in upcoming issues of Future of Aerospace.

THIS WEEK: Interviews with leadership from Bell and Xwing about a recent demonstration held in partnership with NASA to evaluate how drones can be used for medical deliveries in the future. (UAS Integration)

NVIDIA unveiled a new type of computer processor, the data processing unit, which the company believes could enable the future of the software defined data center. (Autonomy & AI)

An unexpected pressure rise in the Falcon 9 rocket's turbo machinery gas generator scrubbed the scheduled launch of the fourth GPS III satellite. Here's how SpaceX is addressing that issue. (Connectivity)

Thanks for reading.

—The Future of Aerospace Team
APT-70 Demo Evaluates Future of UAS Medical Delivery
Image: Bell

, an autonomous pod transport created by Bell Textron Inc., completed a beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight demonstration with NASA in the next step in using drones in an urban environment for medical deliveries, third-party logistics, offshore delivery, and humanitarian relief.

The flight took place last week in Fort Worth, Texas, along a 10-mile circuit and was initiated by a vertical takeoff, flying at an altitude of 500 feet about ground level. The APT-70 completed a road crossing and transitioned in and out of Class B airspace, which is will be essential for use in urban air environments. 
  • The test flight was part of NASA’s Systems Integration and Operationalization (SIO) activity. The goal of SIO is to work towards commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operating in the National Airspace System (NAS).

  • The APT-70 test flight included a Detect and Avoid (DAA) system created by Xwing. The DAA system will be able to detect objects in the airspace and alert the pilot on course corrections.

  • The goal is to have the DAA system work autonomously, maneuvering the aircraft around objects in its flight path without any assistance from the pilot. While the system is well suited for UAVs, it would be available for all aircraft.

  • The APT-70 also uses Command and Control (C2) technologies for communication and Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) for weather monitoring.

  • The lessons learned during this exercise will help to inform the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) when it creates certification guidelines.

  • Maxime Gariel, Xwing's CTO: “What we do is we use the information from all the sensors to generate good situational awareness of where the aircraft is and what is around it. So if we detect another aircraft, we track them and then we generate avoidance maneuvers or safe areas of maneuver autopilot.”
Gariel: “In the future, the goal is to automate all this. Right now we were sending all the information to the ground, but it's not very efficient. So what we want to do is tell that to the flight control system so the aircraft can make decisions on its own on all of the routings.”

Read more on the future of using unmanned aircraft for medical deliveries.
NVIDIA CEO Shows New Data Center Infrastructure-on-a-Chip

During the second GPU Technology Conference (GTC) of 2020 done from his kitchen, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang on Oct. 5 showed the future of the software-defined data center with all of the infrastructure required to power a traditional data center now able to run on a new kind of processor that the graphics processing unit (GPU) provider calls the “data processing unit,” (DPU).
  • Despite being confined to his kitchen due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic for the May and October GTC events this year, Huang did not disappoint, using a nine-part keynote series of videos to explain how NVIDIA is enabling a new “age of AI.”

  • One of the most disruptive advancements revealed by Huang that could have major future potential applications for aerospace and every major technology-driven industry is their new Bluefield-2 DPU, a new family of processing units that are the lynchpin for transitioning from the use of massive physical space and servers to a completely software-defined virtual data center.

  • NVIDIA describes the new Bluefield family of DPUs as capable of delivering a broad set of software-defined networking, storage, security, and management services with up to 200 Gbps Ethernet connectivity.

  • Huang: "What used to be dedicated hardware appliances are now software services running on [central processing units] CPUs. The entire data center is software programmable and can be provisioned as a service. Virtual machines send packets across virtual machines and virtual routers, permitted firewalls are virtualized and can protect every node."

  • The enablement of a fully software programmable data center by NVIDIA comes following two key recent announcements that will be central to the next-generation data center on-chip concept. On Sept. 13, NVIDIA announced a definitive new agreement to acquire Arm–one of the world’s largest computing chip suppliers–for $40 billion.

  • Additionally, they have a new partnership with VMware, one of the largest providers of cloud computing and virtualization software services.

Huang: "It is a 7 billion transistor marvel, a programmable data center on a chip."

Read more about NVIDIA's data center on a chip concept here.
SpaceX Undertakes Review of Systems, Including Avionics, for Assured Launch
Image: U.S. Space Force.

SpaceX is undertaking a system-wide review of Falcon 9 rocket to help ensure that the company can meet its goal of assured, more affordable access to space.

The review came after an unexpected pressure rise in the rocket's turbo machinery gas generator scrubbed the scheduled launch of the fourth GPS III satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 9:43 p.m. on Oct. 2nd from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
  • SpaceX founder Elon Musk: "We're doing a broad review of launch site, propulsion, structures, avionics, range and regulatory constraints this weekend. I will also be at the Cape next week to review hardware in person."

  • The Falcon 9 launch of the fourth GPS III satellite will be important for future National Security Space Launch (NSSL) in demonstrating reliability and cost reduction, as SpaceX is to re-use the rocket to launch the fifth GPS III satellite next year.

  • The launch will be the third NSSL mission on a Falcon 9 rocket, the second U.S. Space Force (USSF) first-stage booster recovery, and the sixth USSF launch, according to Space Force's Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif.

  • Air Force Col. Cordell DeLaPena, program executive officer for SMC’s Space Production Corps, said in a statement that the GPS III satellites' "nearly 70 percent digital payload provides the U. S. Space Force with greater operational flexibility and cutting edge capabilities while continuing to support legacy users."

  • Lockheed Martin's GPS III satellites have a 15-year design life, three years beyond the previous generation, and add new capabilities, including the L1C civilian signal, which is to allow interoperability with international satellite navigation systems, such as Europe's Galileo.

Read more about how SpaceX is reviewing its Falcon 9 rocket here.
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