AIAA SF, P.O. Box 1548, Mountain View, CA 94042-1548

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Recent Updates and Upcoming Events

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Background image: MELDI instrument for MSL Curiosity being tested in the arc jet at NASA Ames.
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AIAA Programs and Activities

AIAA SF Dinner Meeting

The X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space

Wednesday, May 21, 2014; 6:00pm-9:00pm

The X-15 Rocket Plane

With the Soviet Union’s launch of the first Sputnik satellite in 1957, the Cold War soared to new heights as Americans feared losing the race into space. "The X-15 Rocket Plane" tells the enthralling yet little-known story of the hypersonic X-15, the winged rocket ship that met this challenge and opened the way into human-controlled spaceflight.

Ms. Evans’ presentation will focus on this remarkable research aircraft that held the world’s altitude record for 41 years, and still has no equal to match or better its speed of more than 4,000 mph. Beyond the X-15 are the stories of the 12 men who guided it into space, and all the people who kept the rocket plane flying for nearly a decade. This is the story that has never been told of the vehicle that was the true precursor to the Space Shuttle by being the first piloted and winged vehicle to exit Earth’s atmosphere, and make a controlled reentry to a landing on hard-packed dry desert lakebeds.

[ More info and RSVP ]


STK: UAV and Aircraft Missions

Thursday, April 10, 2014; 6:30pm-8:00pm

Sandbox Suites, Santa Clara, CA

Acquisition of aircraft systems is an extended process and mission requirements must be factored early on into design. Similar to spacecraft, aircraft sensitivity to weight and form requires accurate modeling especially with the increase in on-station time requirements and increased operating costs for military and civilian air fleets.

As unmanned aircraft evolve to support multiple aircraft coordination, loner range and greater persistence, small factors in early design from airframe to sensor payloads require entirely new breakthroughs if mission capabilities are to be achieved. Integration of manned and unmanned aircraft requires an overall system analysis to validate safety of flight plans.

Originally known as Satellite Tool Kit (STK), System Tool Kit began as a tool for orbit analysis and mission planning, and is perhaps the most widely used tool for these purposes. It has since expanded into physics-based modeling for a variety of space, air, and ground scenarios.

Roger Martinez, a senior systems engineer at Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), has been with the company for nearly two decades, supporting its use by NASA, Air Force, and other customers.

[ More details to come ]

Partner Programs and Activities

SVSC Public Policy

California & the Commercial Space Flight Industry

Thursday, March 20, 2014; 6:30pm-8:30pm

Sandbox Suites, Santa Clara, CA

Silicon Valley Space Center (SVSC) will host Joe Weichman, from the Centers for Applied Competitive Technologies(CACT) as he outlines economic development of the NewSpace industry in California. Commercial spaceflight is a fast-growing industry that will have a profound impact on California's economy for many decades to come. Fueling this growth is a substantial demand for people to access space.

Mr. Weichman works for the Statewide Initiative Director at CACT. His work includes identifying emerging industries and determining what steps California can take to maximize its economic share of these industries. Prior to this, he worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Optical Communications Group. CATC is an advanced manufacturing initiative out of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Economic & Workforce Development program. Through technology education, manufacturing training and services that contribute to continuous workforce development, the CACT provides expertise in technology deployment and business development.

[ Details + RSVP ]

SVSC Space Entrepreneurship

Is a Start-up for You?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014; 6:00pm-8:30pm

Sandbox Suites, Santa Clara, CA

Note: the start date is delayed from the original date of March 25.

Ever wonder if you have what it takes to start your own company in the NewSpace business? Join Silicon Valley Space Center in the first of a four series discussion with Dr. Sean Casey, Founder and Managing Director of Silicon Valley Space Center.

These interactive discussions will guide participants through the growing NewSpace start-up world and provide insight into the most important issues facing first time entrepreneurs. Each session features guest speakers on select topics geared to engineering and science professionals new to Silicon Valley and the local entrepreneurial community.

The first topic in the series: Intro - Is a Start-up for You?

AIAA SF members: See the March 19 AIAA SF eUpdate for 50% discount code.

[ Details ]

Recent Programs and Activities


UAS in the NAS

Wednesday, March 12, 2014; 6:30pm-8:30pm

Sandbox Suites, Santa Clara, CA

It’s been widely reported that the FAA was mandated by Congress to integrate unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with the National Airspace System (NAS) by September 30, 2015. However, the goals the FAA has set for NAS access by that date are out of sync with the aspirations of many UAS operators and hobbyists. The set of safety standards for sense-and-avoid systems and command and control communications links will apply to large UAS operated by major organizations capable of equipping their aircraft with cutting edge technologies. Integration of the smaller, inexpensive UAS that promise to revolutionize the NAS will take many more years according to the current plan.

NASA lead researcher Eric Mueller will outline the major challenges related to integrating UAS with the NAS, focusing in particular on the sense-and-avoid system that is a critical contributor to ensuring safe separation between aircraft. He will also describe the approach NASA is taking to develop solutions to these challenges in partnership with industry and other government organizations.

[ Details + RSVP ] [ Classic ]

AIAA SF Public Policy

AIAA Congressional Visits Day

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Washington, DC

Concerned about where the nation is going in aerospace? Tomorrow, several student members from the Bay area will represent AIAA SF as part of Congressional Visits Day (CVD). During CVD, AIAA members from across the country will converge on the Capitol, and meet face-to-face with congressional aides, adminstration officials, and other decision makers.

We wish our student members a rich, productive experience, and look forward to hearing from them when they return.

[ Details ]

SVSC Space Dev

Designing for Space Tourism

Wednesday, February 26, 2014; 7:00pm-9:00pm

Sandbox Suites, Santa Clara, CA

So, if space tourism is to become real, shouldn’t we give it a little nudge? Samuel Coniglio is a veteran space activist and former VP of the Space Tourism Society. He has been researching, designing products for, and promoting space tourism since, oh, 1997. He has spoken at nearly every space event out there: Yuri’s Night, ISDC, NewSpace, and SpaceUp. He is also an avid practitioner of the retro-Victorian-futurist lifestyle of SteamPunk, builds drinkbots, and goes on odd desert adventures. [ Details ]

AIAA SF Dinner Meeting

Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery

Wednesday, February 19, 2014; 6:30pm-9:00pm

Quest for Flight

The Wright brothers have long received the lion's share of credit for inventing the airplane. But a California scientist succeeded in flying gliders twenty years before the Wright's powered flights at Kitty Hawk in 1903. Quest for Flight reveals the amazing accomplishments of John J. Montgomery, a prolific inventor who piloted the glider he designed in 1883 in the first controlled flights of a heavier-than-air craft in the Western Hemisphere.

Craig Harwood has written Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West, co-authored with Gary Fogel. It has been nominated for the AIAA Gardner-Lasser History Literature Award (2014). It received Honorable Mention in the San Francisco Book Festival (2013, History), the Southern California Book Festival (2013, Biography), and the New England Book Festival (2013).

[ More info and RSVP ]


STK: Space Missions

Thursday, February 13, 2014; 6:30pm-8:00pm

Sandbox Suites, Santa Clara, CA

sensor data collection planning

Originally known as Satellite Tool Kit (STK), System Tool Kit began as a tool for orbit analysis and mission planning, and is perhaps the most widely used tool for these purposes. It has since expanded into physics-based modeling for a variety of space, air, and ground scenarios.

When planning and conducting space missions, STK is used to model trajectories and orbits with full-flight dynamics with respect to mission requirements, leveraging user-definable force models, coordinate systems and attitude definitions. Users can also conduct trade studies and parametric analyses to optimize trajectories, plan maneuvers and evaluate spacecraft engine design.

Roger Martinez, a senior systems engineer at Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), has been with the company for nearly two decades, supporting its use by NASA, Air Force, and other customers. He will give an overview of STK, including a demonstration of its application to some recent space missions.

[ Details + RSVP ]


ArduRocket and Space Weather API

Tuesday, November 19, 2013; 6:30pm-8:00pm

Hacker Dojo, Mountain View, CA

ArduRocket static test

The ArduRocket project is a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is based on the popular ArduCopter design, and is inspired by the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover Sky Crane concept and provides rocket-assisted tether lifting capabilities. The heavy lifting is done by the solid fuel rockets, with stabilization provided by variable thrust symmetric rotor blades controlled via instant feedback from the onboard gyroscope, accelerometer and GPS subsystems. Through careful near-balancing of the rocket thrust versus the payload weight, vertical movement and hovering can be accomplished by varying just the differential thrust provided by the rotor blades. Jeff Dillon, owner of, will show the work that has [ Details + RSVP ]

SVEC Open House

Engineering Hall of Fame, FIRST Robotics, and More

Thursday, November 19, 2013; 5:30pm-7:00pm

The Play Space, San Jose, CA

SVEC logo

The Silicon Valley Engineering Council (SVEC) will hold its annual Open House at a new location, The Play Space, a non-profit hub for STEM activities such as FIRST Robotics. The evening includes: a networking reception with many local engineers, announcement of the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame 2014 Inductees, talks on the FIRST Lego and Robotics programs and the Discover “E” (Engineering) program, the SVEC 2013 Scholarship Program Call for Applications, and announcement of the SVEC Engineers Week Banquet in February 2014. The event is free, but RSVP is required. [ Details + RSVP ] [ The Play Space ]


Delaying the Inevitable by 10 Seconds...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013; 6:30pm-8:00pm

Hacker Dojo, Mountain View, CA

Chicken Whisperers flight

The vast majority of contraptions in the Red Bull Flugtag competition find creative ways to leap off the pier and plunge into the water. However, an occasional design seems to just float across the waters. Such was the case on September 21, when a Mountain View-based team, the Chicken Whisperers, set a Flugtag world record of 258 feet.

It helps that they are a team of engineers devoted to a new generation of aircraft design. But in this case, they do it in such an entertaining way. Aside from the frivolity, the lead designers Bob Parks and Zach Hazen of the record setting glider offer insight into the design and testing of their aircraft. [ Details + RSVP ]


Launching Commercial Space Enterprises

Friday-Sunday, October 18-20, 2013

Atmel, San Jose, CA

Sponsored by the Silicon Valley Space Center (SVSC) and the Center for Advancement in Science in Space (CASIS), it will explore the opportunities and challenges facing space entrepreneurs. CASIS collaborates with and supports commercial customers who want to use the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory for research. Their science, engineering and business development specialists will join the SVSC in this 3-day event to foster collaborative space industry development. [ Details + RSVP ]

ICS Summit

Tech Summit on Incentivizing Collaborative Innovation

Oct. 16-17, 2013

SETI Institute, Mountain View, CA

The Institute of Competition Sciences (ICS) is hosting a tech summit on how to develop the best models for incentivized innovation. It explores how organizations use and improve competitions, prizes, hackathons, and their like to advance their goals. Partipants will connect with NASA technology leaders, ICS competition designers, Lux researchers, White House representatives and other industry leaders interested in new competitions. (See ICS Summit speakers page for detailed list, including Mason Peck, NASA Chief Technologist.)

The summit is being held at the SETI Institute in Mountain View. AIAA members may use the code "AIAASF-INNO30" for a substantial discount on the registration fee. [ Details and reg ] [ Speakers ]


Brilliant Science: Extraterrestrial Life Festival

Sunday, October 13, 2013; 10:00am-4:00pm

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA

AIAA SF will participate in the Brilliant Science: Extraterrestrial Life Festival at the California Academy of Sciences in October. At this public event, scientists and partner organizations will engage with the audience through experiments and other activities. The AIAA SF STEM K-12 Committee is putting together an activity connected to engineering projects in aerospace. We are looking for experts and enthusiastic volunteers to help with planning and/or setting up the event. To volunteer or ask questions about the event, send mail to Magaly Sipperly at the address below. [ Event Info ] [ Volunteers: precollege(at) ]

AIAA Section Awards

San Francisco Wins AIAA 2013 Section Awards

AIAA annually recognizes regional sections for notable achievements in a range of activities that help fulfill the Institute’s mission. Winners for 2013 were announced on September 23, and represent the efforts of June 1, 2012 through May 31, 2013. Sections are classified and awarded by section size, with San Francisco competing against other "very large" sections.

This year, AIAA SF earned the first place Career and Workforce Development Award, led by Steven Cerri. The section also earned an honorable mention for Communications, led by Rick Kwan. Congratulations to them and to the other winning sections for recognition of the efforts they have invested in their memberships.

Related Organizations

SVSBR Hacker Dojo SVSC
Silicon Valley Space
Business Roundtable
Hacker Dojo Silicon Valley
Space Center

Conference Calendar

AIAA Below are a few conferences that might be of interest to our membership. Organized by AIAA unless noted otherwise. [More AIAA conferences.]

March 1-8, 2014 | Big Sky, MT

IEEE Aerospace Conference

April 30, 2014 | Washington, DC

2014 Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala

May 5-9, 2014 | Pasadena, CA

SpaceOps 2014

June 15-20, 2014 | Atlanta, GA

AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition (AVIATION 2014)