Saturday, November 7, 2009

Week in review (11/1 to 11/7)

NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was officially designated a “Project Ready” site in a formal event Friday. It’s the first site to earn certification in the “technology park” category of the Mississippi Power program.

The Project Ready designation indicates a site is “shovel-ready” for new businesses that are interested in locating at the facility. The 14,000-acre SSC has about 4,000 acres of developable space. It’s now the second Project Ready site in South Mississippi. The 300-acre Jackson County Aviation Technology Park in Moss Point, Miss., where unmanned aerial systems are built, received the designation in August.

Stennis Space Center is a huge complex. It's where NASA tests propulsion systems, and it remains the facility’s primary function. But over the years it’s attracted more than 30 other tenants. The largest is the Navy, which has its Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command at the center. There’s also a detachment of the Naval Research Lab at Stennis, and it’s home to the National Data Buoy Center.

One of the key attractions of SSC is the security. It's surrounded by a 125,000-acre acoustical buffer zone.

- The first Space Based Infrared System missile warning satellite bound for geosynchronous orbit is on track for delivery to the Air Force by the fourth quarter of calendar year 2010, according to Lockheed Martin. It will be a milestone for the $10.4 billion program, which has undergone restructuring, overruns and delays. Lockheed Martin Mississippi Space & Technology Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss., builds subsystems for the SBIRS program.

Capt. Pete Hall has been installed as the new commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., replacing Capt. Enrique Sadsad. More than 2,000 people were at the change of command ceremony Thursday. Hall said he looked forward to becoming part of the Whiting family. Sadsad is being assigned to Bahrain. Whiting Field provides initial training for naval aviators.

- Brig. Gen. O.G. Mannon, 82nd Training Wing commander at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, has been named the next vice commander of Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The announcement was made by the Defense Department Nov. 2. Mannon, who has spent most of his career in the special operations community, said he looks forward to working with old friends.

In the tanker competition pitting Boeing against the Northrop Grumman/EADS team, no “first” goes unnoticed. Boeing said it delivered the first Remote Aerial Refueling Operator Trainer to the Japan Air Self Defense Force last month to support the Boeing KC-767J tanker. It simulates the system that allows boom operators to refuel aircraft while sitting near the tanker cockpit at a console using an array of cameras and remote controls. Meanwhile, in Toulouse, France, the Airbus A330-200 freighter flew Thursday, a milestone for a plane that could eventually be assembled in Mobile, Ala. The Northrop/EADS team wants to assemble the A330-based tanker and the freighter in Mobile, Ala., if the team wins the Air Force competition.

Unmanned systems
The Navy's top admiral said he hoped to speed up work on unmanned weapons systems, including underwater vehicles and an unmanned combat plane. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead cited the Navy's earlier-than-planned deployment last month of the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, which he said is performing “wonderfully.” Roughead also said he’s pressing to accelerate development of the Unmanned Combat Aerial System. The Fire Scout and UCAV are both Northrop Grumman products. Northrop Grumman Fire Scout finishing work is done in Moss Point, Miss.

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