Saturday, September 12, 2009

Week in review (9/6 to 9/12)

The White House during the week received a report from a special committee assigned to assess NASA’s goals. The panel recommends NASA shelve the idea of rapidly returning to the moon – the Constellation Program – and instead focus on nurturing a robust commercial space industry to handle short-term objectives.

The recommendations from the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee stops short of explicitly rejecting the goal of launching a mission back to the moon. All that hasn’t stopped NASA from moving forward on the Constellation Program.

During the week NASA and ATK conducted the first test of the Ares I first stage rocket motor. The test was in Utah. The solid rocket booster is planned for NASA's Ares I and Ares V rockets, key vehicles in the Constellation Program. Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and Stennis Space Center, Miss., are key NASA facilities on the Gulf Coast, and both are involved in Constellation.

- QinetiQ North America subsidiary, Analex Corp., was honored as large business prime contractor of 2009 by NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It’s for engineering and technical management services. QinetiQ, of Fairfax, Va., has an operation in Long Beach, Miss.

The 33rd Fighter Wing ended a 30-year history at Eglin Air Force Base when the wing’s last three F-15s left the base during the week and headed for Arizona. The wing is preparing to host the Joint Strike Fighter Training School. The official transition doesn’t take place until early next month.

- Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog has assumed command during the week of the 2nd Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., from Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers. The 2nd Air Force at Keesler is the Air Education and Training Command organization that oversees technical and combat training for 250,000 students annually.

EADS chief Louis Gallois says Airbus did nothing wrong in a trade dispute with the U.S. over subsidies, and called for a negotiated settlement with Boeing. In an interview published during the week in La Tribune, Gallois defended the system of government launch aid, calling it more transparent than "opaque subsidies" he said Boeing receives. The World Trade Organization issued a ruling that has yet to be made public. The ruling is of interest to the Gulf Coast because Boeing is competing against the Northrop Grumman/EADS to build Air Force tankers. EADS wants to assemble them in Mobile, Ala.

- Alabama Gov. Bob Riley got a close-up look at the tanker during the week while he was in Europe. The Birmingham News reported that Riley flew for an hour in an aerial tanker built by EADS’ Airbus during a visit to Spain. Riley also toured EADS aircraft-assembly bays in Madrid.

At least three contracts of interest to the Gulf Coast were awarded during the week. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. received the third of four one-year options, valued at $98.1 million, on a contract for the U.S. Air Force Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and other locations. … Defense Support Services LLC of Mount Laurel, N.J., was awarded an $86.4 million contract for acquisition of aircraft maintenance support services for Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. … BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $7.4 million modification under previously awarded contract to exercise option two for operation and maintenance support for facilities operating under Naval Computer & Telecommunications Area Master Station Hawaii.

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