The US Army’s drone airport with $33 m contract signed to commence construction

With the ink drying on a new $33 million contract, Texas is about to get a brand new, dedicated droneport. Yes, like a spaceship houses spaceships, a droneport—a term we may or may not have made up just now—gives unmanned aerial vehicles a place to call home.

us army gray eagle drome image

Evaluating the Orion spacecraft’s heatshield
Lockheed martin engineers were eager to get their hands on samples of the heat shield used on the Orion Space craft after the 20,000 pound capsule returned to earth after a four and a half hour trip on December 5th. The capsule was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station via a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 heavy booster. It went on a two-orbit trajectory and ended up about 3,600 miles from earth before returning to the planet at a leisurely 20,000 miles per hour. The heat shield is particularly important for this unmanned trip because upon reentry the capsule would have generated temperatures reaching 4000 degrees Fahrenheit.

3D ‘Kinematics dress’ breaks the mold
Researchers created a 3D dress with Kinematics, a 4D printing system, that creates complex, foldable forms composed of articulated modules. The system provides a way to turn any three-dimensional shape into a flexible structure using 3D printing. Kinematics combines computational geometry techniques with rigid body physics and customization. Kinematics allows us to take large objects and compress them down for 3D printing through simulation. It also enables the production of intricately patterned wearables that conform flexibly to the body.

The Army’s drone airport
The Army isn’t normally associated with drones — or Unmanned Aerial Systems, as they prefer them to be called. The popular Predator and Reaper models are operated by the Air Force from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada and the CIA from various hotspots around the world. But the Army has a host of capable, fully armed UAS including the Gray Eagle and Shadow systems, and they’re about to get their own airport. The Army Corps of Engineers — based out of Fort Worth, TX — has awarded a $33 million contract to SGS to build their ambitious drone airport.

Henry Sapiecha

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