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A site in Corpus Christi, Texas, is now up and running as a fully operational drone-testing facility, the FAA announced Friday. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence & Innovation is among six sites chosen by federal aviation officials to perform research on unmanned aircraft systems. The main focus of the Texas site will be on safety of operations and data gathering in authorized airspace and airworthiness standards, using an AAAI RS-16 drone weighing about 85 pounds (39 kg). Specific projects under the wing of a team at Corpus Christi include the preservation and restoration of the ocean and ocean wetlands along the Padre Island National Seashore, and research in advance of approaching tropical storms.The center will fly its first mission next week.
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— Reuters and NBC News staff