Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week in review (7/11 to 7/17)

The Farnborough International Airshow gets underway in London this week, and Mississippi, South Mississippi and the broader region is participating. The state of Mississippi for the first time will have its own pavilion showing the range of Mississippi aerospace activities, including the substantial work done in South Mississippi.

Mississippi is also a member of the four-state Aerospace Alliance, which includes Louisiana, Alabama and northwest Florida. That group is hosting a reception for about 500 aerospace executives and prospects at London's Kensington Palace Sunday evening.

There will be about 70 delegations from 38 countries at the show. The nearly week-long event will include 132,000 trade visitors, 153,000 public visitors, 1,393 exhibitors from 40 countries, 29 international pavilions and 165 aircraft on display, and it will be covered by 1,800 media personnel.

Even before the show got under way, Alabama business and education leaders spent three days in Spain and France meeting with EADS to learn more about the company's training needs, should it win the competition to build tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

The delegation arrived early during the week in Madrid and toured EADS operations. On Friday, the group was at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, and left Saturday for London to attend the Farnborough show.

Earlier during the week, about 300 people showed up for a pep rally in Mobile supporting EADS' bid to build tankers. The celebration was also the formal announcement that EADS is bringing together its 150-member tanker team in Mobile to manage the company's bid during the Air Force's evaluation period. EADS, which plans to assemble the tankers in Mobile, and rival Boeing are competing for the $35 billion contract. A third team, US Aerospace and Antonov, is also in the competition.

A Senate committee during the week unanimously agreed to a blueprint for NASA that cancels the moon program, starts investing in commercial companies that could build rockets to take astronauts in low Earth orbit and speeds development of a heavy-lift rocket for more distant missions.

It also keeps alive the Orion crew capsule portion of Constellation. The measure, which also extends the life of the International Space Station to 2020, must still go to the full Senate. The House has yet to pass its version of the NASA authorization bill.

The panel's version of the bill also calls for adding one more space shuttle flight next year and leaves the door open for yet another flight by instructing NASA to refurbish an old external fuel tank that had not been planned for flight. STORY

One of the panel members said the new plan will protect hundreds of jobs at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the provision requiring the development of Orion should ensure retention of 250 to 300 jobs at Michoud. And the provision directing NASA to begin refurbishing the ET-94 space shuttle external fuel tank should provide 300 to 500 jobs at Michoud. STORY

- An Aerojet AJ26 rocket engine was delivered to NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on Thursday. It's the first of a series of Taurus II engines that will be tested at SSC to include acceptance testing of flight engines.

Stennis will provide propulsion system acceptance testing for the Taurus II space launch vehicle being developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. The first Taurus II mission will be flown in support of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services cargo demonstration to the International Space Station. Orbital's Taurus II design uses a pair of Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines to provide first stage propulsion for the new launch vehicle.

Unmanned aerial systems
The Fire Scout passed a series of flight demonstrations over 10 days earlier this month in the United Arab Emirates. The MQ-8B demonstrations included takeoffs and landings in hot, windy and sandy conditions in temperatures as high as 117 degrees Fahrenheit and altitudes of up to 9,842 feet. The Navy will conduct operational evaluation of the system later this year aboard the USS Halyburton. Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Joint Strike Fighter
The Government of Canada during the week announced plans to acquire the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as its next-generation fighter aircraft. It will replace Canada's fleet of CF-18 Hornets that entered service in the early 1980s.

The stealth fighter is being developed and funded by a consortium of nine countries, including Canada, which plans to acquire 65 F-35s. Delivery of Canada's F-35s will begin in 2016. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the joint strike fighter training center.

For the second time in less than a week, an international air carrier has announced new service between New Orleans and Toronto. Air Canada, which operated out of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, said it will resume flights from the city Oct. 30.

Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va., was awarded a $9.5 million contract for information technology ashore operations support services for the Navy's Military Sealift Command. Work will be performed primarily in Washington, D.C., and other sites in Norfolk, Va., Pensacola, Fla., and San Diego, Calif. … Simplex Corp., Hallandale, Fla., was awarded an $11.8 million contract which will lease four Mi-8/17 aircraft with the period of performance from Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2011. HQ AFSOC/A7KQ, Hurlburt Field, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Boeing Co., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $7 million contract which will support the 40mm gun requirement for the AC-130 Plus Four program.

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