04/18/18 3:00pm

NASA TO STUDY HOW LOUD SUPERSONIC JET GETS BY FLYING OVER GALVESTON Lockheed Martin is pitching its planned supersonic passenger plane as the quietest yet — despite its top speed of 940 mph. The company says a prototype will be ready within the next few years. But NASA won’t wait that long to find out how loud it’ll be: “the government agency will use an F/A-18 Hornet aircraft to replicate the softer sonic boom and measure how receptive Galvestonians will be,” reports the Chronicle‘s Andrea Rumbaugh. After lifting off from Ellington Airport, the plane will dive down at a 53-degree angle off the Galveston coast, breaking the sound barrier as it does. “Most of that sound will go toward the water,” writes Rumbaugh. But when it pulls up, “some of the sound will travel toward Galveston. By the time it reaches the island, it will be at the sound level expected from NASA’s X-plane.” Five hundred chosen residents and a handful of sound monitors will listen up for 10 non-consecutive days in November and provide feedback on the noise level — which NASA’s project manager says shouldn’t be that bad: “If a traditional sonic boom is hearing a thunderstorm directly overhead,” he explains “then the new reduced sonic boom will be like hearing a storm rumble far in the distance.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Rendering of Low Boom Flight Demonstration X-plane: NASA

09/12/16 4:00pm

Lone Star Flight Museum at Ellington Field, Houston, TX 77034

The exterior of the Lone Star Flight Museum’s new building is now taking shape at Ellington Field-slash-Airport-slash-Spaceport, per an update this morning from Ed Mayberry. The museum posted the construction photo above late last month, showing some of the walls now in place on the 130,000-sq.-ft. structure rendered below:


Blown Inland by Ike
04/07/16 12:45pm

Cullen's, 11500 Space Center Blvd, Houston, 77059

The couple behind Cullen’s Upscale American Grille and Whisk(e)y Bar announced yesterday that the Vegas-style restaurant near Ellington Field had shut down, following some hard reflection on the “brevity and uncertainty of life” after the unexpected death of GM Ryan Roberts last August. Sandra and Kevin Munz released a statement on the restaurant’s webpage indicating that the 37,000-sq.-ft. space would be converted into a healthcare facility, starting immediately; the couple says they plan to focus their attention on the business ventures which will “most dramatically enhance the quality of [their] lives,” and to spend more time with their kids.

The choose-your-own-china-pattern restaurant opened in 2008 as a green-certified, 700-seat anchor for Kevin Munz’s Clearpoint Crossing development, which includes retail strips next to residential complex just north on Space Center Blvd. south of Genoa Red Bluff Rd. Much of the rest of the retail center has already gotten on board with the medical theme: the development currently houses the UT Physicians Bayshore Family Practice facilities, Bailey Orthodontics, and Clearpoint Dentistry.

Photo of Cullen’s at 11500 Space Center Blvd.: Jason L. 

Changing Direction at Ellington
12/17/15 12:30pm

Sure, drone footage is great. But how often do you get to see 3 flying laboratories survey the breadth of Houston’s sprawl from this high up?

The trio of WB-57s shown surveying a hazy Houston in the video above are based at Ellington Field. The fleet is part of NASA’s WB-57 High Altitude Research Program, which regularly conducts scientific research and testing. Among its missions: mapping, collection of cosmic dust, support of rocket launches, and flights over hurricanes, including recent storms Joaquin and Patricia. Eerie faded-Emerald-City scenes of Downtown, the Galleria, the Med Center, and other vertical standouts unfold beneath the wingtips. The flight, which took place before Thanksgiving (but for which footage was only posted to YouTube this week) marks the first time since the early 1970s that 3 WB-57s have flown together.

Video: Johnson Space Center via Eric Berger

JSC Fleet in Flight
12/09/15 10:30am

Proposed Spaceport as of November 2015, Ellington Airport, Houston, 77059

Renderings presented for the first time at last month’s Spacecom convention show the latest round of updated designs for the first phase of the planned spaceport campus that will nestle between the existing Ellington Airport runways and Space Center Blvd. in Clear Lake. The images show a campus that is notably more conventional than what might have been suggested by the curvilinear designs released in 2013. The new plans most resemble a suburban office park version of Thomas Jefferson’s plan for the University of Virginia, complete with surface parking lots tucked behind 2-story buildings stepped back from a central roadway axis.


Ellington Swing
08/22/11 8:29am

By the time construction of its new museum, theater, restaurant, and hangar is complete 3 years from now, the Lone Star Flight Museum will likely be only one of 3 museums showcasing historic airplanes at Ellington International Airport. After Hurricane Ike caused $18 million in damage and destroyed or submerged several aircraft (see the immediate aftermath above), museum officials began seeking a higher elevation than its current location at Galveston’s Scholes International Airport was able to provide. Houston’s city council approved a 40-year lease for 14 acres at Ellington last week. Also possibly opening at Ellington: A building featuring the Collings Foundation‘s collection of Vietnam and Korean War-era military aircraft; the president of the Texas Flying Legends Museum at Ellington says he’d like to sell tickets that allow visitors to visit all 3 collections.

Photo: Lone Star Flight Museum

08/12/11 1:38pm

Did you realize that Ellington Field changed its name 2 or so years ago to Ellington Airport? Don’t worry if you haven’t kept up, because there’s already another name upgrade in the works, this time to Ellington International Airport. (“Intercontinental” was already taken). What’s next — Intergalactic? Maybe: Houston Airports aviation director Mario C. Diaz announced plans earlier this year to transform the commercial, military, and NASA facility into a “spaceport” where wealthy passengers could embark on leisure spaceflights — at about $50,000 a pop.


08/18/08 1:26pm

Baling Hay at Bush Intercontinental Airport

The Houston Airport System has found its first customer for some of those bales of hay you’ve seen lining roads leading to IAH. The hay-harvesting project began as a pilot using contractors 2 years ago, but airport employees are now doing the work.

Of the 10,000 acres that comprise IAH, 250 acres are presently being used to harvest hay and 50 of the 2,500 acres at EFD are being used.

Right now most of the hay is a low grade Bermuda grass mainly used to feed livestock such as cattle. . . .

When the hay project is finally in full swing some 2,000 acres of land at IAH and EFD will be used to grow hay, providing a projected revenue source of roughly $4 million dollars a year. Cutting and baling at the airports this year will continue until the fall.

500 round bales at IAH and 400 square ones at Ellington Field are currently available.

Photo: Houston Airport System

07/10/08 4:05pm

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=dkUjSpRr93Q 400 330]

The two “Marking Our City” billboards near Grace Community Church‘s north and south I-45 locations depict a plain white cross, an American flag, and the words “150 FT CROSS COMING SOON.” But they probably show only the top portion of the structures the church is planning — and the 150-ft. label may be selling the project short. The Chronicle‘s Lisa Gray says

. . . the pastor hopes both structures will be 200 feet tall, roughly the height of a 20-story building. The Federal Aviation Administration, he said, may limit the south campus’s cross to 150 feet because it’s near Ellington Field.

Five-and-a-half minutes into the Grace Community Church video above, Grace senior pastor Steve Riggle walks viewers through a drawing of a more elaborate structure. Riggle asks

What if there was one of these at every entrance to the city? And it was there for the prayer movement in the city, not just a church. You talk about marking our city for God.

After the jump: More crosses on the side of the highway!


03/18/08 12:35pm

Rendering of Cullen’s Upscale American Grille on Space Center Blvd., Houston

A restaurant scheduled to open today just beyond Beltway 8’s southeastern elbow is the first “Certified Green Restaurant” in Houston approved by the Green Restaurant Association. Cullen’s Upscale American Grille completed 17 of the GRA’s environmental guidelines.

The grille’s proprietor is first-time restaurant owner Kevin Munz, who previously built a chain of 13 Houston-area pawn shops. He sold the Mr. Money Pawn shops to Cash America International in 2006. Two years before that, he bought 92.8 acres of undeveloped land at the eastern edge of Ellington Field and began planning Clearpoint Crossing, a series of strips along the west side of newly extended Space Center Blvd., featuring retail/lease space, a professional-office park, and a multifamily residential project.

Cullen’s is intended to be Clearpoint Crossing’s main attraction: a 37,000-sq.-ft. Las Vegas-style eatery with seven private dining rooms — including one built of glass and suspended over the main dining area — a ballroom, space for outdoor dining, and seating for 700 diners. Customers will have their choice of china: Wedgwood, Versace, or “the Titanic.” Munz spoke to the Houston Chronicle‘s David Kaplan about his plans for Cullen’s last year:

“I’ve been all over the U.S. and looked at restaurants. It’s the best of a bunch of different concepts and putting them into one, Munz said. “It’s the same thing I did with pawnshops.”

Munz told the South Belt-Ellington Leader he hopes to attract customers driving from as far northeast as Baytown and as far south as Galveston to his green restaurant, saying he “wouldn’t have done this in town.”

Munz expects the Clearpoint Crossing’s land value to “go up the day I open the restaurant,” he told Kaplan. That would be today!

After the jump, a plan of the whole Clearpoint Crossing development. Plus, a few of the restaurant’s green features!