United Express regional airline ExpressJet is shutting down. The metro Atlanta-based airline announced the move in an e-mail notice to staff on 30 July 2020. Most ExpressJet staff have already been laid off, and have now lost their jobs.
CommutAir, another United Express regional airline based in metro Cleveland, will now operate the aircraft and destinations previously used by ExpressJet.
The move affects the United Airlines network at all remaining ExpressJet destinations, including Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Peoria. In October 2019, before the pandemic reduced demand for airline tickets, ExpressJet was serving Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fargo, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Lincoln, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Omaha, Peoria, Rochester, and Winnipeg.
In a relatively peaceful use for a decommissioned ballistic missile, a Minotaur IV rocket carried the US National Reconnaissance Office L-129 mission from Wallops Island 15 July 2020 1346 UT. The mission included four discrete satellites. The carrier rocket, the four-stage version of Minotaur, is based on an old Peacekeeper missile, a type previously deployed in Wyoming, topped with an Orion solid upper stage similar to the one used for Antares rockets.
Doug Hurley provided clear details of the astronauts’ experience of inflight vibration and acceleration, especially during the flight of the second stage, while Bob Behnken dipped into Dragonship Endeavour to show off its zero-g indicating dinosaur alongside DM-1’s plush globe, as they hoped to pass on a hopeful message to the next generation of dreamers and explorers.
The DM-2 now gets to tackle the work ahead of them. Among the many items to do? Stow the ISS cargo that was moved out of the way before their arrival, set up the Crew Dragon to be used as a lifeboat, and unload JAXA’s HTV-9, whose shipment includes new batteries for the space station.
After a scrubbed Wednesday launch attempt, Crew Dragon Demonstration Mission Two (DM-2) lanced skyward Saturday, 30 May 2020. The mission marked the return of crewed spaceflight to Florida’s Space Coast, which hasn’t sent astronauts up since STS-135 in July 2011.
Despite a convective SIGMET issued for a few nearby thunderstorms threatening to derail plans yet again, the pad and abort location weather remained stable at the T minus 7 minute mark, allowing the engines to enter cryochill. Conditions managed to stay steady at Cape Canaveral, and shortly after 1922 UT, the Merlin 1D engines ignited, sending the Falcon 9 into the air above Launch Complex 39A, and past the abort sites in the Atlantic.
Smooth sailing continued as the Falcon first stage was recovered on droneship “Of Course I Still Love You” deep in the Atlantic; once the second stage had delivered Crew Dragon to its parking orbit, it was on its own to for the next 19 hours to the ISS. The mission has only just begun!