Save the Date: 2015 PNW Technical Symposium

Pacific Northwest AIAA is Pleased to Announce Our 2015 Technical Symposium  November 14, 2015 at the Future of Flight Aviation Center in Everett, WA.

Registration and more information coming soon!

Check out last year’s Symposium here:

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AIAA Associate Fellow Class of 2016 Announced

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced its Class of 2016 Associate Fellows last month. Six members of the PNW Section were selected:

Robert Breidenthal, University of Washington

Lawrence Fink, The Boeing Company

Sergey Kravchenko, The Boeing Company

Kristi Morgansen, University of Washington

Uri Shumlak, University of Washington

Dennis O’Donoghue, The Boeing Company

Congratulations to the Associate Fellows! Read the announcement here:

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Journey to Mars with the Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight is hosting a traveling NASA exhibit, “Journey to Mars,” Sept. 22 – 27, 2015. As part of the exhibit, NASA will be presenting special lectures on Thursday, Sept. 24 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm, in the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery (west side of East Marginal Way S.).

Fact vs. Fiction on the Journey to Mars

NASA is turning science fiction into science fact on the Journey to Mars. Space materials, deep space propulsion, long-term habitats, and human factors all are in play in NASA labs and space industry factories around the country. A panel of NASA and industry experts will showcase the technology and capability already being built for deep space human exploration, and contrast NASA’s plans with the exploration path laid out in “The Martian.” Having provided technical consulting on the script for “The Martian,” the space agency found that the movie highlights the tough challenges future human explorers face in pioneering exploration of the red planet. There is a lot to be learned following the story of ‘Martian’ Mark Watney as he struggles to survive alone on Mars.

This lecture is free for AIAA members. Check-in table located at the entrance to the Simonyi Space Gallery. For questions, contact Melanie Kwong at; 206-768-7216.  For Directions/Parking, go to:

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Reminder: 2015 Cardboard Challenge is one month away!

2015 Cardboard Challenge – Attend or Volunteer!
Saturday, October 17, 2015 at North Seattle Boys & Girls Club 


The 2015 Cardboard Challenge is hosted jointly by PNW AIAA and the North Seattle Boys & Girls Club. The Cardboard Challenge is an activity that celebrates child creativity and the role communities play in fostering it.

Cost: FREE!

The last couple of years, around 100 neighbors have showed up at our events in North Seattle, and the kids built everything from flowers and pirate ships to X-wing fighters andcardboard theaters. It is an absolute blast!

 Get involved by attending the event OR helping out in one or several of the following:

  1. Donating
    • Pizza and drinks
    • Duct tape and box cutters
    • Water-based paints and foam brushes
    • Cardboard
  2. Spreading the word to local families and organizations
  3. Volunteering on October 11th
    • 9:30am – 12 noon shift
    • 12 noon – 2:30pm shift
  4. Show off your creativity and donate inspirational cardboard pieces for decoration before the event!
Interested in attending or helping out?
Please contact Erika Wagner
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Space News: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Will Launch Rockets and Spaceships from Florida

Exciting news from Kent-based space exploration company Blue Origin!

See the full Scientific American article here:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.—Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of private spaceflight company Blue Origin and founder and CEO of, announced today that Blue Origin will make Florida’s Space Coast its home port for reusable rocket launches.

Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000, will launch rockets and spacecraft from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company will lease the launchpad and establish a “21st century production facility” to manufacture a reusable fleet of orbital vehicles. Florida Governor Rick Scott praised the venture, which he said will “invest $200 million locally and create 330 jobs.”

“As a kid, I was inspired by the giant Saturn V missions that roared to life from these very shores,” Bezos said during the announcement here today (Sept. 15). “Today, we’re thrilled to be coming to the Sunshine State for a new era of exploration.” [Watch Blue Origin Announce Its Florida Launch Plans]

Bezos made the announcement during an event close to Launch Complex 36, which saw its last launch in 2005. Speakers at the event included Governor Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla).

At the event, Bezos also unveiled an artist’s concept image of Blue Origin’s new orbital launch vehicle, which Bezos said has been nicknamed “Very Big Brother.”  The new rocket will launch and land vertically to reuse its first stage.

The new Florida facility will include a rebuilt launch pad, a facility for performing acceptance tests of the new BE-4 rocket engine, and a processing facility for manufacturing, integrating and prepping vehicles for flight.

“We’ll be launching from here later this decade,” Bezos said of the new Florida facility. Bezos told reporters that the company received detailed proposals from five states wishing to host the new facility.

Blue Origin is one of several private companies—like SpaceX, Boeing, Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace—in the race to offer commercial trips to space for passengers. Last week, Boeing opened a facility for its new Starliner space capsule, formerly known as the CST-100. NASA plans to use the Starliner capsule and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle to launch U.S. astronauts starting in 2017.

The Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin is currently developing a vehicle called New Shepard that is designed to take passengers on short suborbital trips so they can experience the thrill of weightlessness and see the blackness of space without the filter of Earth’s atmosphere. The company will launch only the new orbital vehicle from the Florida facility; New Shepard will continue to launch from the company’s facility in West Texas.

Blue Origin launched a successful test flight of New Shepard last April. That spacecraft, like the new orbital launch vehicle, will feature a reusable rocket booster capable of vertical landings—a technology that space industry leaders have said can dramatically reduce the cost of commercial spaceflight. During the April test, the passenger segment of New Shepard successfully separated from its rocket booster, but the rocket itself was not recovered.

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Kepler Finds Closest Earth Analog So Far

From the AIAA Newsletter:

Kepler Finds Closest Earth Analog So Far

In its final segment for the evening, ABC World News (7/23, story 11, 1:15, Muir) broadcast that NASA announced that the Kepler space telescope discovered an exoplanet known as Kepler 452b, which may be “the closest thing yet to Earth.” Reporter David Wright said that this discovery is “the second big news in a week from NASA,” following last week’s Pluto flyby. Wright notes that although researchers are not certain, the planet, which is larger than Earth, could have liquid water and an atmosphere.

NBC Nightly News (7/23, story 7, 1:50, Holt) broadcast that John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, said that the discovery “makes me feel like there is a solar system like ours. There is another Earth out there.” The broadcast also notes that NASA “mesmerized” the public recently with images of Pluto.

The AP (7/24, Dunn) reports that Jon Jenkins of Ames Research Center said that the newly discovered planet, one of 500 added Thursday to Kepler’s catalog, “is the closest thing that we have to another place that somebody else might call home. … Today the Earth is a little less lonely because there’s a new kid on the block.” Grunsfeld added that he wanted to “emphasize” that the telescope could still find even better analogs to Earth. The article notes that Kepler 452b was just the first of 12 potential exoplanets with less than twice the radius of Earth in the new set “confirmed as a true planet, thanks to ground observations.”

According to the New York Times (7/24, Overbye, Subscription Publication), the exoplanet is “right on the edge between being rocky like Earth and being a fluffy gas ball like Neptune.” Jenkins likened Kepler 452b to “an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment. … It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent six billion years in the habitable zone of its star, longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

The Washington Post (7/23, Feltman) highlights the fact that scientists cannot be certain of a lot of the planet’s properties because of the distance and the way the planet was discovered. Meanwhile, Joseph Twicken, lead scientific programmer for the Kepler mission, said, “Continued investigation of the other candidates in this catalog and one final run of the Kepler science pipeline will help us find the smallest and coolest planets. Doing so will allow us to better gauge the prevalence of habitable worlds.”

USA Today (7/23, Watson), like other news coverage, reports that scientists are excited by the discovery even as they caution that little can be certain about the exoplanet’s features. US News & World Report (7/23, Risen) reports that the world “has long been waiting for” this news. Grunsfeld said that while all of these exoplanets are too far to travel to, they “give humanity something to shoot for.”

Also covering the story are the Wall Street Journal (7/24, Hotz, Subscription Publication), Los Angeles Times (7/23, Khan) “Science Now” website, TIME (7/23, Berenson), San Jose (CA) Mercury News (7/24, Krieger), New York Post (7/24, Steinbuch), CNN (7/23, Pearson), Bloomberg News (7/23, Roston), Reuters (7/23, Klotz), AFP (7/24), ABC News (7/23, Newcomb) website, another piece forNPR (7/23) “All Things Considered,” BBC News (7/23, Rincon), Wired (7/23, Zhang), NBC News (7/23, Wagstaff) website, Quartz (7/23, Epstein), and other media sources.

Scientists Do Not Have Concrete Definition For Planet Habitability. USA Today (7/23, Pager) reports that even with yesterday’s announcement, scientists have not settled on a single definition for habitability. Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division, said, “Briefly speaking, it’s a rocky planet at the distance where water can exist on the surface. … What people argue about is how far away from the star or how close to the star might the edges of that habitable zone might be and people think of all sorts of stranger combinations. … Scientists don’t have a crisp definition where they all agree on where the lines are that divide a habitable zone from the rest of the planetary system.”

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August 10 LEAF STEM Challenge- Teacher Workshop

LEAF STEM Challenge- Teacher Workshop
Teachers, save the date for our upcoming LEAF STEM Challenge teacher workshop (formerly the Electric Airplane Challenge)!

Scheduled for Monday, August 10, 2014 at Raisbeck Aviation High School, The Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Flight (LEAF) STEM Challenge is a standards-based, hands-on program for grades 6-12 that engages students in creating solutions to real-world problems.

Join us to participate in this curriculum module that will bring aerospace alive in your classroom! Participants will design, build and fly an electric tethered aircraft that will carry the most cargo.

Workshop registration is $50 and includes Washington state clock hours, continental breakfast, lunch, curriculum materials and airplane supplies for one adult participant.

Bring a colleague and join our Pacific Northwest AIAA for some aerospace fun! Register Now!

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Submit a Nomination for a PNWAIAA Award

2015 PNW AIAA Section

Engineer of the Year Awards 

The PNW Section will be recognizing outstanding members with the annual Engineer of the Year Awards.  This year’s categories are Industry Engineer (including Engineering Faculty), Young Engineer and STEM Educator.

Nominations forms are located on the Section’s website by clicking the links below.  Nominations (including self nominations) are due Saturday, 18 June 2015.

Awardees will be recognized at the annual PNWAIAA End of Year Banquet on Wednesday, 24 June 2015.  The banquet will be held at Salty’s in Seattle,WA.

If you have any questions and/or comments, please contact us at  We look forward to your nominations!


EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR (Nomination-PNW-AIAA_Educator-of-the-Year_2015)

YOUNG ENGINEER OF THE YEAR (Nomination-PNW-AIAA_Young-Engineer-of-the-Year_2015)

INDUSTRY ENGINEER OF THE YEAR (Nomination-PNW-AIAA_Industry-Engineer-of-the-Year_2015)



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Museum’s ‘Flight Team’ aims to fill age gap, fuel aerospace economy, and launch new leaders

Museum’s ‘Flight Team’ aims to fill age gap, fuel aerospace economy, and launch new leaders


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Save the Date: June 24 Year-End Banquet

The 2014-2015 PNW Section year will conclude with the annual banquet scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, 2015.

We are excited to announce that Dr. Gary Georgeson of The Boeing Company will present “An Inventor’s Journey:  What I Discovered Along the Way About Innovation.”

Dr. Georgeson has the distinction of being the most prolific inventor in the history of the Boeing Company, holding over 100 patents.

The banquet will be held at Salty’s Seafood Restaurant in Seattle, WA.  Registration details will be announced in May.  For more information, contact

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