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Drones are coming; Baking cookies in space

The drones are coming, the drones are coming.

There is more than one company approved to deliver commodities by drones. The latest one that I have heard about is Uber, the people delivery company. It was reported by Verge on the Internet that Uber Eats has permission to deliver food with their rotating wing drone.

It uses six electric motor-driven props, three in each wing, to ascend vertically up to a maximum altitude of 400 feet and then rotate the wing so the props drive the drone forward. They plan to start delivering food in San Diego in 2020. They have a flight range of 18 miles.

Although some of the air taxi prototypes use the rotating wing concept, this is first drone that I have read about that uses it.

Mark Moore, a former NASA employee, has been the principal design engineer on the project. Last week, Alphabet started using their first delivery with drones in Virginia. An added comment, according to Verge, Uber plans to perform test flights of air taxis in 2023.

Even the government is getting behind the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) revolution. According to CNET News, NASA is promoting the commercial concept. The administrator says that thousands of them will be delivering cargo and people doing thousands of missions a day in at least one city by 2028.

All the current ones are electric and battery driven, which saves congestion on the streets and roads in addition to lowering the pollution of the air, NASA believes the UAV will not move to fossil fuels even with larger payloads. I think the expectation of more efficient batteries is driving this belief. There is a lot of financial backing for this research.

Now a little bit of information about the space news.

Aviation Week reports that NASA is going to make a committed search for water and oxygen on the moon. This is essential if they plan to make the moon as a way station on the way to explore deeper space projects such as going to Mars.

The NASA plan is to return humans to the moon in 2024. NASA is throwing money into the moon landing project. They plan to award a 15-year contract of $7 billion to provide logistics support for the mission.

There is news about the InSight Mars lander. One of the major projects for the lander was the drilling a hole to investigate the heat and properties of the Mars red dirt. They have been trying to drill down 10–16 feet using a hammering tool. For some unexplained reason, they have been unable to get that deep.

They hope to be able to move to a different spot to try it again.

Elon Musk is in the news again with his SpaceX manned mission to ISS (International Space Station). They will be testing the crew escape system soon. They have designed several Super Draco abort engines to power the crew capsule away from the rocket in event of an emergency. More ISS news, the latest cargo mission will carry a zero-gravity oven to make it possible for the crew to bake cookies.

Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at eelnod22@gmail.com