Saturday, July 25, 2009

Week in review (7/19 to 7/25)

South Mississippi's Stennis Space Center is getting ready to mark the end of an era. The last planned Space Shuttle Main Engine test is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 at 2 p.m. The media has been invited to see the historic event at the NASA center.

The shuttle engines have been tested at Stennis for 34 years. Now the center is gearing up to help NASA prepare for the next era of human spaceflight – the Constellation Program. The J-2X engines will be tested at Stennis.

- In another Stennis-related item during the past week, Lockheed Martin said the second Highly Elliptical Orbit payload and ground system modifications of the Space Based Infrared System have been accepted for operations by the Air Force.

That paves the way for the Strategic Command's formal certification of the HEO-2 system next month. SBIRS is designed to provide early warning of missile launches and support other missions. Subsystems are built at the Lockheed Martin Mississippi Space and Technology Center at Stennis.

Ongoing controversies
On the tanker front during the past week, the House Appropriations Committee said it must review terms of the competition in the aerial tanker project. That, according to some analysts, increases the chance of politicking and that in turn may prompt Defense Secretary Robert Gates to agree to split the contract between Boeing and the Northrop Grumman/EADS team. Northrop/EADS plan to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., if they win. Boeing will build them in Washington if it wins.

Further to the east and in an entirely different controversy, a federal judge during the week dismissed Valparaiso, Fla.’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Air Force. That was expected after the Air Force agreed the week before to provide F-35 noise data to the city. Negotiations continue over Valparaiso’s suit against the Air Force over its decision to bring 59 F-35s to Eglin Air Force Base, which is scheduled to become the home of the Joint Strike Fighter Training Center.

The 46th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., welcomed a new leader during the week. It’s Col. Michael Brewer, who previously was vice commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Det. 3, Edwards AFB, Calif.

- In another base-related item during the week, Santa Rosa County, Fla., and the Navy reached an agreement to let businesses in a planned aviation park in Milton use a Whiting Field Naval Air Station runway. Whiting Aviation Park will be built on 267 acres of land adjacent to the base. Economic development officials see a runway near an aviation park as a big plus.

The first two EADS North America-built UH-72A Lakota helicopters to be based outside of the continental United States have been delivered to the Army for operations in Puerto Rico. The helicopters are made in Columbus, Miss., by American Eurocopter, an EADS North America company.

- The Pentagon ordered 62 more M777 howitzers from BAE Systems in a deal worth $117 million. The additional work for the company’s Barrow, UK, and Hattiesburg, Miss., facilities pushes manufacturing on current sales well into 2012. The Hattiesburg facility opened in 2003.

- Antisubmarine warfare training may get a new airborne tool to detect marine mammals that sometimes limit training exercises. Advanced Coherent Technologies LLC of San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $7.7 million contract for a Phase III Small Business Innovation Research project called “Living Marine Resources Imaging Sensor.” The contract provides for the continued development of a flight ready prototype sensor. Sixty percent of the work will be done in Mobile, Ala.

New projects
Officials in Santa Rosa County, Fla., say the county is in the running for a military-related service center that could employ 800 people. The executive director of TEAM Santa Rosa Economic Development Council told the board of directors during the week that she could find out this week if East Milton is chosen as one of three sites in Florida to compete with four other states for the facility.

- In Mobile, Ala., the federal government wants to lease 24,000 square feet of office space downtown or at the Brookley Field Industrial Complex for Department of Homeland Security agencies. Mobile Airport Authority officials said they've offered the first building in a proposed office park that the authority would like to build on South Broad Street, south of Fort Whiting and across the street from the Airbus engineering center.

2Q reports
Aerospace companies with operations along the Gulf Coast issued second quarter 2009 reports during the week. Lockheed Martin reported net earnings of $734 million compared to $882 million in 2008. Net sales were $11.2 billion, compared to $11.0 billion in 2008. … The Boeing Co.’s second-quarter revenues rose 1 percent to $17.2 billion, while earnings per share rose 22 percent. … Northrop Grumman Corp. reported earnings from continuing operations totaled $394 million compared with $483 million in the second quarter of 2008. … Goodrich Corp. reported sales of $1.7 billion, a decrease of 8 percent compared to the second quarter 2008 sales of $1.8 billion. … Raytheon Co. reported income from continuing operations of $504 million, up 17 percent compared to $432 million in the second quarter 2008. … Teledyne Technologies reported a profit of $25.2 million, down 23 percent from the second quarter of 2008.

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