Saturday, May 26, 2012

Week in review (5/20 to 5/26)

There are weeks when something occurs that you just know will be a game-changer. This week there were two that stand out in my mind. One involved the first commercial mission to the International Space Station, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

The other was, for me, more personal. I’m talking about the decision of the owners of the New Orleans Times PicayuneMobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times to print newspapers just three days a week, beginning in the fall.

The chain, Advance Publications, is facing the same issues newspapers nationwide have faced for a long time with dwindling readership and falling ad revenues. The chain decided that in a digital age, when people get their news delivered to computers and smart phones and immediacy is paramount, it makes sense to focus on that venue.

I'm saddened by it, but not surprised. I got out of the newspaper business in 2006 after more than 30 years to focus on delivering highly specialized content electronically. I still provide some printed materials, but it's for a very limited audience. For example, the 2012-2013 edition of Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, an annual aerospace book I write with three other current and former reporters, will be published next month. There will be two electronic versions, one a PDF, the other an eBook, as well as a printed version. We try to cover all the bases.

So I can understand the thought process of Advance Publications. Provide content in multiple formats so readers can use the one they like. I still get a daily newspaper delivered to my home. It's a habit I've had since growing up in New York and my family got two papers, the Rockland Journal News and the New York Daily News, and occasionally the New York Times.

But my grandchildren, and likely your children, simply never picked up the habit. No doubt if there had been a smart phone or computers when I was growing up I would have used it to stay informed, as I do today. Significantly, I learned about the Times-PicayuneMobile Press-Register and the others not from newsprint, but from the Internet.

But something very special is going away. I never worked at the Times Picayune, but I have worked at two of the other Advance Publication papers. My first newspaper job was with the Huntsville Times, and years later I worked for the Mobile Press-Register. I enjoyed my stay at both papers, and worked with some outstanding journalists at both. I was lucky enough to become a journalist at a time when two newspaper towns and afternoon newspapers were still common, a time when UPI and AP competed head to head. I still love the sound of the presses, the smell of the ink, and I’ll always relish memories of how it felt to hold a copy of the paper, right off the press, and seeing a story of mine plastered on the front.

So I guess to some extent Advance Publications is seeing the same thing I saw. I’m still a journalist, only now I deliver my content digitally, and not to a mass audience, but to those particularly interest in aerospace. I made peace a long time ago with this new digital age, and now using it to do what I love doing. Still, I mourn the loss.

Now back to aerospace:

The space race is on again, but this time it's not the U.S.A versus the U.S.S.R., but companies versus companies and regions versus regions. The cargo-carrying spacecraft Dragon successfully hooked up to the International Space Station Friday after launching earlier in the week from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla., atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

The SpaceX unmanned Dragon capsule was captured by the ISS's 58-foot robotic arm some 250 miles above Australia. Over the weekend astronauts aboard the ISS opened the hatch and went inside the Dragon capsule. The Dragon will leave ISS Thursday and splash down in the Pacific later that day.

The SpaceX combination of Falcon 9 and Dragon so far has been highly successful, which is no doubt encouraging for NASA and the entire group of companies involved in commercial space flight. Stennis Space Center, Miss., wasn't involved in any of the testing of the SpaceX space vehicles, but it is testing rocket engines for Orbital Sciences Corp., and Blue Origin, two of the other private companies involved in space transportation.

Speaking of engine testing, a J-2X engine that will eventually be used in the NASA Space Launch System had a 40-second test on the A-2 Test Stand Friday. For the first time, test conductors fired the J-2X in both the secondary and primary modes of operation, 20 seconds in each. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is developing the J-2X engine. (Post)

-- Michoud Assembly Facility during the week held a free networking conference for government agencies, prime contractors and small businesses. It will designed to showcase the facility's manufacturing community and to help small businesses find opportunities to grow.

Northrop Grumman and NATO signed a $1.7 billion contract for a new surveillance and intelligence system that will include five unmanned Global Hawk Block 40s. Called the Alliance Ground Surveillance system, it's designed to support a broad range of missions for the alliance. The first aircraft will arrive at Sigonella air base in Sicily in 2015 with full operational capability in 2017. Global Hawk center fuselages are built in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

-- BAE Systems' Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System scored its first-ever penetrating guided-rocket shots with the M282 warhead during recent tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The tests illustrate the product's ability to engage targets at close range and penetrate complex targets. (Post)

The strike of workers at the Lockheed Martin plant that builds F-35s is now in its fifth week. Lockheed is trying to maintain production and testing by having salaried employees fill in, according to the Star-Telegram. (Post) Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. It currently has 12 of the 59 F-35s it's scheduled to receive.

-- Two Florida National Guard pilots are now assigned to the 33rd Operations Group at Eglin and will be the first Guard aviators to fly the F-35. They are Lt. Col. Randal Efferson and Maj. Jay Spohn. (Post)

-- An F-35B made its first flight at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., during the week. The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing plans to start local area operations and conventional flights, beginning the process of gradually expanding the envelope to short takeoffs and vertical landings and more complex aerial training. (Post)

The commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command told a chamber breakfast gathering that the base is bustling, and it will only get busier, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel said Eglin's 9th Special Operations Squadron will be brought over to Hurlburt in the next year. (Post)

-- An 81st Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight surgeon recently participated in the annual 403rd Wing Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour. Maj. Rhodora Beckinger joined the "Hurricane Hunters" of the Air Force Reserve Command's Keesler Air Force Base’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron during their travel to six locations. (Post)

-- In Mississippi, Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport will have a new commercial carrier and a new destination as its hub. Silver Airways of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will take over routes currently served by Delta Air Lines. (Post)

Segers Aero Corp. of Fairhope, Ala., is now an authorized maintenance center for the popular Rolls-Royce T56 series of engines. That could open new markets in Central and South America for the Fairhope company, which repairs and overhauls turbine engines. (Post)

Builder’s trial: Amphibious transport dock Anchorage successfully completed its builder's trials. The 684-foot LPD 23, under construction at the company's Avondale, La., shipyard, is the seventh in the LPD 17-class to be built by Ingalls. (Post)

Submarine: The USS Mississippi arrived in Pascagoula Friday to cheering crowds. The 377-foot attack submarine will be commissioned June 2, an event expected to draw thousands. The Virginia-class sub was built by General Dynamics' Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. (Post)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week in review (5/13 to 5/19)

More rocket engine tests at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; the arrival of a 12th F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; steps taken to mitigate safety issues with F-22 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and other locations; language in a bill that protects Eglin's Air Armament Center; the move of a school from Hurlburt Field, Fla., possibly to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.; and a change of command were just some of the aerospace news items during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast region.

Here's your week in review, along with links for more details:

Falcon 9, the first commercial venture to bring supplies to the International Space Station, aborted just before its scheduled launch Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch of Falcon 9 and its Dragon capsule stopped as the count struck zero because of high pressure in one of the engines. Space X plans to try again in a few days.

-- A Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68A engine was tested during the week at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The engine, an upgrade of the RS-68 engine, is designed for the Delta IV family of launch vehicles. After testing at SSC the engines are shipped to Decatur, Ala., for integration into a United Launch Alliance Delta IV. (Post) The next day at SSC, a Rocketdyne J-2X had a seven-second test firing that focused on a modified nozzle extension that dissipates heat generated by the engine. The J-2X is being developed for use in the second stage of NASA's Space Launch System. (Post)

-- Those J-2X engines won't be used for quite a while. NASA plans to use a modified Delta IV second stage atop an early version of the SLS for the unmanned Orion test flight in 2017, and for a manned flight four years later. NASA said the Boeing-designed Delta IV second stage requires relatively minor modifications to launch astronauts by 2021. (Post)

As a reminder to our ties to all this, the Orion is built in New Orleans at Michoud Assembly Facility; the SLS first stage will use four RD-25 engines tested at Stennis Space Center; Delta IV is built in Decatur, Ala., and the first stage is powered by RS-68 engines, also tested at SSC.

The 12th Lockheed Martin F-35 arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., during the week after a 90-minute flight from Fort Worth, Texas. The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing production jet is assigned to the Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 residing with the host 33d Fighter Wing, where it will be used for pilot and maintainer training. (Post)

-- Additional steps have been taken to mitigate risks to F-22 pilots in light of an unresolved problem related to the oxygen system. Some pilots of experienced hypoxia-like symptoms. F-22 flights will remain near potential landing locations, and the Air Force will expedite installation of an automatic backup oxygen system. Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is among the six bases were F-22s are based. (Post)

The House approved the National Defense Authorization Act, including language designed to keep the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., introduced a paragraph that would require the Air Force to keep the AAC at Eglin unless a future Base Realignment and Closure commission decides differently. (Story)

-- Military facilities along the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 corridor have a combined replacement value of $20.3 billion. According to the fiscal year 2012 Department of Defense Base Structure Report, the region between Southeast Louisiana and Northwest Florida has 47 DoD sites with a combined 723,297 acres. (Post)

-- Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, are candidates for the Tactical Air Control Party and Air Liaison Officer School. The current school at Hurlburt Field, Fla., lacks adequate facilities and ranges to train the required number of TACP needed. The final decision will be made after environmental impacts are analyzed. (Post)

-- Eighteen civilian workers at Hurlburt Field, Fla., will be let go as a result of cutbacks announced in November 2011. Most of the positions were vacant when the cuts were first announced, but voluntary retirements and separation incentives did not reach the goal of 100, leaving 18 people without jobs at the end of September 2012. (Post)

-- Brig. Gen. Bradley Spacy assumed command of the 81st Training Wing during a ceremony at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., late in the week. Spacy replaced Brig. Gen. Andrew Mueller, who has been selected for a new command assignment at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Air Base Geilenkirchen in Germany. (Post) (Story update)

-- Final recommendations are expected in June from a study about the impact on local communities from the expected increase in military training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The study is a joint project of Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties, along with Eglin. (Post)

-- At Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Brig. Gen. John McMullen, the 325th Fighter Wing commander, announced the wing mission statement has changed to "Train and Project Unrivaled Combat Power" to better reflects the current and future missions at Tyndall. (Post)

Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., was selected for membership in enHance, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s voluntary stewardship program. Northrop Grumman voluntarily implementing two environmental enhancement projects and a community service project. (Post)

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $85.5 million contract to procure of Griffin missiles. First delivery order is for the procurement of 22 all-up-rounds and 43 telemetry rounds. AAC/PKES, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Contract: Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded a $133.7 million modification to previously awarded contract for advance procurement of long-lead-time materials and pre-construction activities in support of Landing Platform Dock 27. Work will be done in Pascagoula and is expected to complete by June 2017. (Post)

Commissioning: The Navy Saturday was scheduled to commission the newest San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, San Diego. Built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., the ship is 684 feet long and capable of embarking a landing force of about 800 Marines. (Post)

Shutdown: Harrison Brothers Dry Dock and Repair Yard is closing after 117 years in Mobile, Ala. A combination of factors, including a slack economy, led to the decision to close. (Post)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Week in review (5/6 to 5/12)

We had our usual mix of aerospace stories of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week, like more F-35s at Eglin, rocket engine and component tests at Stennis Space Center, a contract to buy three more Fire Scouts and an upcoming symposium on unmanned aerial systems.

But there were a handful of news items that are intriguing because of the impact they'll have on this region in the future. One happened in Florida, one in Alabama and the other in Mississippi. And they all could make a difference in perceptions of this region, as well as provide us with a new generation of residents who understand the significance of science, technology, engineering and math.

In Florida, the National Flight Academy at Naval Air Station Pensacola welcomed its first class to the multimillion-dollar center adjacent to the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The opening was covered by the local media, of course, and the Associated Press did a story as well about the high-tech center that provides students with the look and feel of the inside of an aircraft carrier, complete with jet noise and more. The center links 30 simulators, and the idea is to give the students hands-on experience using the science and math skills that they learn in school.

Importantly, they don't run combat missions where the idea is to knock out the enemy, but missions that include humanitarian operations. They were welcomed to the inaugural class by astronaut Mark Kelly, who was joined by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and Gene Cernan, the last one to do so.

The ersatz carrier, dubbed Ambition, is operated by a nonprofit with funding from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and other aviation and defense industry leaders. It was created with help from designers who have worked for Disney and Universal Studios theme parks.

The National Flight Center is significant in itself, but what's intriguing is it's not the only push in this region to interest students in STEM activities. Across the state line in Mobile, Ala., the Airbus Corporate Foundation during the week awarded a second $50,000 grant to the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center. The money will be used to expand its first year pilot youth mentoring and aeronautics program.

That's in keeping with Airbus' goal to "inspire disadvantaged children and young adults through aviation." Dubbed ExploreAIR, the Exploreum's expanded program will focus on students, grade 6-12, and support the science center's ongoing Workforce Development initiatives.

Further to the west in Mississippi, fourth and fifth-graders helped harvest aeroponically grown lettuce on Monday at the new NASA Infinity Science Center, an impressive facility south of Interstate 10 about two miles from the Louisiana-Mississippi state line.

Students from Louisiana helped in the first harvest from the Controlled Environment Agriculture exhibit, which grows lettuce in about 35 days without the use of soil. The CEA is a prototype developed and built by Innovative Imaging & Research with funding from Stennis Space Center's Chief Technologist’s Office and the University of Southern Mississippi's Business and Innovation Assistance Center in partnership with the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology.

Infinity is still raising funding for all its exhibits, but when it reaches full bloom it will have activities that will involve visitors in activities ranging from deep sea exploration to deep space. What's particularly interesting about Infinity is its prime location along a well-traveled interstate, where it should lure a lot of folks traveling along the interstate.

What strikes me is that we are developing in this region some really fascinating islands of learning that targets young people and could lead them to STEM careers. My fear is that leaders in this region will continue to look just in their own back yard and will fail to see the bigger picture -- how all these centers can fit together as a super science tour package.

Since organizations in this region have received a lot of money from BP for tourism development, they should get together to consider promoting these science centers for family-oriented multi-day or multi-week tours. Food and beaches and all the typical tourist lures are great, but can you imagine the impact of promoting this region as a place where students could get inundated in STEM activities? Give 'em a package that would include time at all these places, and years from now when those students are in decision-making positions, they'll remember that experience and this region.

A detailed look at some of these facilities can be found on pages 85-86 of Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2011-2012, a book about aerospace activities in this region. You can download the chapter PDF with pages 85-86 right here. If you're an economic development or tourism official and this intrigues you, feel free to give me a call at 850-261-6777.

OK, here's a look at some of the other aerospace-related news items of interest to the Gulf Coast region that moved during the week:

NASA conducted a 340-second test of the J-2X powerpack as part of the development of the next-generation rocket engine for the Space Launch System. The powerpack sits atop the J-2X engine and feeds the thrust chamber system, which produces engine thrust. The test was to operate the turbopumps over a range of speeds by varying the gas generator valve positions. (Post)

-- At Cape Canaveral, Fla., the second Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite was launched by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V vehicle. AEHF is a joint service, highly secure satellite communications system for ground, sea and air assets. The core propulsion work for the AEHF is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

Two F-35B aircraft arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., during the week after a 90-minute flight from Fort Worth, Texas. The Marine Corps F-35s, designated BF-9 and BF-10, are assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 501. Eglin now has 11 F-35s, and another F-35B, BF-11, is also slated to arrive this week at Eglin. (Post)

-- Navy Vice Adm. David J. Venlet, F-35 program executive officer, told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airpower panel that technical and cost issues remain, but the F-35 is an impressive marriage of engine and airframe. Venlet also touted a fix for the jet's troubled, high-tech helmet, which officials hope will solve jitter picture and lag time issues. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin issued a press release about the milestones in the F-35 flight test program. (Post)

-- F-35 builder Lockheed Martin was awarded a $237.7 million modification to the previously awarded Low Rate Initial Production IV contract for changes to the configuration baseline hardware or software resulting from the JSF development effort. It was for Marine Corps and UK short take-off vertical landing aircraft, Air Force and Netherlands conventional take-off and landing aircraft and Navy carrier variant aircraft. (Post) Lockheed Martin also was awarded a $14 million contract modification to implement required design changes that allow coalition training operations for the F-35. (Post)

A report on television’s 60 Minutes about pilots who refuse to fly the F-22 because of
hypoxia-related safety issues has pulled attention back to the advanced aircraft. Investigators have yet to pin down what's wrong with the planes oxygen system. The Panama City News Herald reported that Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., issued a statement vowing to work to help to solve the problems. He also wants the entire F-22 training mission at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)

Unmanned systems
Some of the nation's leading experts in unmanned aerial systems will be at Mississippi State University beginning Monday for the 2012 UAS Symposium that will focus on the impact of unmanned aircraft technology on research, defense, homeland security, law, and public policy.

The university and the Association of Unmanned Aerial Systems International-Mississippi are co-hosts. The program features a lineup of speakers, panel discussions, flight demonstrations, and tours.

Mississippi is a player in the UAV field, with activities in the Golden Triangle area and South Mississippi. Fire Scout and Global Hawk UAVs are built in part in Moss Point, Miss., by Northrop Grumman. In the Gulf Coast region, multiple bases in the region are involved in UAV activities. (Post)

-- Here's one of interest to Moss Point, Miss. Northrop Grumman was awarded a $25.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to purchase three Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicles Lot 5 low rate initial production and one ground control station. Fifty-five percent of the work will be done in Moss Point. (Post)

Economic development
The political columnist of the Mobile Press-Register during the week took on the question of whether the election of Francois Hollande as president of France might have an impact on "The Project," shorthand for the effort to get an aircraft assembly plant in Mobile. (Post)

-- The Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce has unveiled its new Blueprint for a Better Tomorrow economic development strategy. Bradley Byrne, the chamber board's vice chairman for economic development, outlined four areas of concentration, including aerospace. (Post)

The Navy awarded contracts during the week to support the Naval Education Training Command and Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center in Pensacola, Fla. Northrop Grumman got a three-year, $84 million contract to provide planning and assessment, curriculum development, and computer-based modeling and simulation training solutions for NETC. General Dynamics Information Technology was among awardees of a contract to deliver education and training support services to NETC and NETPDTC. The three-year, contract has a potential value of $97.4 million to all nine awardees, if all options are exercised. Work will primarily be performed in Pensacola, Fla., Gulfport, Miss., Hampton Roads, Va., and Port Hueneme, Calif. … Enterprise Ventures Corp., Johnstown, Pa., was awarded a $12.5 million contract for the production of 12 carriage, stream, tow, and recovery system kits in support of the Naval Air Systems Command, MH-60S Airborne Mine Countermeasures Program. Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $11.4 million contract for central processing unit, circuit card assembly spike extension on the Lot 24 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile production lot. AAC/EBAC, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … McDonnell Douglas Corp., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $24 million contract for technical support for the Joint Direct Attack Munition weapon system to include non-warranty induction and repair, annual software updates, mission planning support and studies/analysis. AAC/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

The Times-Picayune reported during the week that state economic officials are involved in talks that would transfer ownership of the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility from the University of New Orleans to Louisiana State University. (Story)

LCS: Austal is confident its contract with the U.S. Navy will not be affected by a move to investigate purchase of the ships. A committee wants the Government Accountability Office to look into how the U.S. Navy has dealt with problems associated with its 55-vessel Littoral Combat Ship program. Austal USA is building the Independence class version of the LCS in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

Leaks: The Associated Press reported that a Coast Guard cutter built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., will have to be put in dry dock for repairs. Temporary repairs were made to the four leaks found in April on the USCG Stratton. (Post)

Hangar: A composite helicopter hangar built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Gulfport, Miss., is heading for Bath Iron Works in Maine. The 60 foot wide structure took nearly two years to construct. Another, even larger composite structure, the deckhouse is still being built and is expected to be shipped to Maine this summer. (Post)

Contract: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors, Moorestown, N.J., was awarded a $7.7 million modification to previously awarded contract for DDG 51-class and CG 47-class Aegis combat system installation, integration, testing, and fleet life-cycle engineering support of the Program Executive Officer for Integrated Warfare Systems. Pascagoula, Miss., will do 1 percent of the work. (Post)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Week in review (4/29 to 5/5)

An acceptance test at Stennis Space Center; an update on United Technologies' push to sell Rocketdyne; the death of an Eglin-based soldier; news on the F-35; a grant for airport improvements; some news from the region's brand new science learning centers; the bankruptcy filing of a company that had been courted by Louisiana; and a Boeing celebration marking 50 years in Alabama are some of the news items during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor.

Here's the week in review, with links to posts and stories if you want more detailed information:

NASA's commercial space flight partners are continuing to move forward, despite the delay in the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Software issues are being worked out before the launch of the rocket carrying the Dragon capsule -- the first attempt by a private company to send cargo to the International Space Station. (Post)

The launch originally was scheduled for April 30, but it won't occur now until at least May 19. It's a demonstration project for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, and a key to the project is Dragon's capability to rendezvous and berth with the ISS. To read more about this, take a look at Spaceflight's update.

SpaceX has a contract to fly 12 cargo missions to the ISS. Meanwhile, another company with a COTS contract, Orbital Sciences Corp., is preparing its Antares rocket for a test flight in August from Wallops Islands, Va.

The first stage of the Antares will be powered by two Aerojet AJ26 engines. One of those engines, E9, was tested during the week at Stennis Space Center, Miss. A team of NASA, Orbital Sciences Corp. and Aerojet engineers monitored the 55-second hot-fire engine acceptance test on the E-1 test stand. It was the eighth test of an AJ26 at Stennis. After review and inspection, the engine will be shipped to the Wallops Flight Facility launch site for installation on the Antares. (Post)

-- Speaking of NASA, the agency picked 10 proposals from small business and research institution teams to continue work on technologies for future missions. One of the Phase II award winners in the agency's Small Business Technology Transfer Program is developing a project for Stennis Space Center. The team members are Combustion Research and Flow Technology of Pipersville, Pa., and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Ala. (Post)

-- Stennis International Airport, just outside Stennis Space Center, Miss., is getting a federal grant of $855,000 for improvements associated with a new terminal. The projects include construction of a new aircraft parking apron, rehabilitation of part of another apron and repainting taxiway markings. Some of the funds also will be used to improve a runway safety area, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. (Post) By the way, Rolls-Royce uses this airport to transport its engines for testing at SSC.

United Technologies is focusing on one possible buyer for its Rocketdyne unit, the head of the company's Pratt & Whitney engine unit told Reuters. In March UT put Rocketdyne up for sale to help finance its $16.5 billion pending takeover of components maker Goodrich. Rocketdyne, which makes rocket engines for spacecraft, has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Goodrich has an operation in Foley, Ala. (Post)

-- You may recall when Louisiana tried to lure Hawker Beechcraft to Baton Rouge more than a year ago. The state offered incentives to get the company to leave Wichita, Kan. Now Hawker Beechcraft has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy The company reached an agreement with many creditors on a plan to restructure its debt, and it secured funding to continue to pay workers and vendors.

In addition to Wichita, the company has operations Arkansas, the United Kingdom and Mexico, along with more than 100 service centers worldwide. The bankruptcy is a tough blow for Wichita. Boeing plans to close its large plant in the city. (Post)

-- Speaking of Boeing, that company during the week celebrated 50 years in Alabama. It's the largest aerospace company in the state, where it maintains its Strategic Missile and Defense Systems headquarters in Huntsville, as well as its largest program, Ground-based Midcourse Defense. Huntsville also hosts Boeing Exploration Launch Systems, which oversees NASA's Space Launch System and support to the International Space Station. Boeing also has operations at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and in Northwest Florida. (Post)

-- L3 Crestview Aerospace on during the week unveiled the Armed Forces Tribute Memorial, designed and built by its workers. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said it’s an outstanding thing for the company to have at its gate, according to WEAR-TV in Pensacola. Miller said the products of L3 go to the warfighter, and the memorial will serve as a reminder of this important work. L3 Crestview Aerospace employs about 900 people at its facility at the Bob Sikes Airport. (Post)

A soldier assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., who was shot to death by an Afghan soldier, will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery later this month, according to his hometown newspaper.

Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Britton-Mihalo, 25, of Simi Valley, Calif., was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin. He was at a base in Kandahar province when he was shot to death by an Afghan soldier. (Post)

-- The state of Florida will have $4.6 million to spend on programs supporting its defense
installations in the fiscal year starting July 1, according to Defense Communities 360. Funding includes money for three grant programs and the Florida Defense Support Task Force.

The task force was created last year and allocated $5 million. The FY 2012-2013 budget adds $2 million more, while the grant programs will get $2.6 million. Florida is home to 21 military bases and missions, many of them in Northwest Florida. (Post)

-- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told a crowd at the Air Armament Museum during the week that it would be foolish to move any of Eglin Air Force Base’s missions elsewhere. He said investments have been made at Eglin for decades, and affirmed his support of a defense authorization bill marker requiring the Air Armament Center to stay at Eglin unless a future Base Realignment and Closure Act declares otherwise, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. (Post) Rubio also visited Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla.

-- The new leader of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team for the 2013-2014 season will be Cmdr. Thomas Frosch. The native of Michigan joins the Blue Angles after serving as commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 146 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. The change of command will be Nov. 4, 2012. The team is based at Naval Air Station Pensacola. (Post)

-- Lt. Col. Jason Costello has assumed command of the 325th Training Support Squadron from Lt. Col. Douglas Kugler during a change of command ceremony during the week at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Costello was the 325th Fighter Wing Chief of Safety. Kugler is now the 325th Operations Group Action Officer. (Post)

-- Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Works Department Pensacola, Fla., awarded a $3.6 million Utility Energy Services Contract to Gulf Power of Pensacola for an energy conservation project at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla. The project is designed to reduce energy consumption and will start in July. (Post)

-- This one isn’t aerospace, but it's interesting for this region's military activities. The Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday that the Department of Homeland Security plans to station up to 200 civilian cyber security specialists at Corry Station, where they'll work to protect federal computer networks. (Story)

STEM centers
Retired astronaut Mark Kelly will be keynote speaker during the May 11 grand opening for the first class of students attending the National Flight Academy at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Kelly, a former combat pilot, will be joined by retired astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, according to the Pensacola News Journal. The flight academy, a replica of the inside of an aircraft carrier, is designed to interest students in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. (Post)

Meanwhile, another center that focuses on STEM, the Infinity Science Center near the Mississippi and Louisiana state line, will show off on Monday its first major aeroponically-grown lettuce harvest from an agriculture exhibit. The exhibit demonstrates methods astronauts on long-duration space missions can use to grow food, in this case lettuce grown without the use of soil. Students and the media have been invited. (Post)

OK, here are a couple of things from the F-35 front. As you know, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Pratt and Whitney has delivered the 50th production F135 engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35. The engine is scheduled to be installed in a F-35C carrier variant for the Navy, which will be delivered to Eglin this summer. To date, the F135 propulsion system has powered more than 330 vertical landings, 2,000 test flights producing more than 3,000 flight hours. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin was awarded a $7.5 million modification to the previously awarded contract for F-35 Low Rate Initial Production IV Sustainment. It provides for the procurement of 1,198 active matrix liquid crystal displays for all low rate initial production variants. Work will be done in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in May 2012. The contract combines purchases for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and the Cooperative Program Participant. (Post)

L-3 Communications Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded two contracts during the week for work at Corpus Christi Army Depot. In one, the company was awarded a $48.2 million labor-hour contract to provide labor services in support of aircraft production at the Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas. In the second, the company was awarded a $29.8 million labor-hour contract to provide for the labor and administration services in support of aircraft production at the depot. … Qualis Corp., Madison County, Ala., and Spectrum Comm Inc., Newport News, Va., were awarded a $77 million contract to procure operational test and evaluation services to support Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center in accomplishment of operational test and evaluation activities. The locations of performance are Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Eglin, Air Force Base, Fla., Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and Edwards, Air Force Base, Calif.

USS Independence: The littoral combat ship USS Independence arrived at Naval Base San Diego during the week, wrapping up LCS-2's maiden voyage from Mayport, Fla. The ship, built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., was commissioned in 2010. (Post)

JHSV: Austal USA of Mobile, Ala., had a keel-laying ceremony during the week for the third Joint High Speed Vessel. About 100 people gathered for the ceremony, according to the Mobile Press-Register. The vessels are equipped with helicopter landing pads and are designed for use in shallow waters. (Post)

USS Mississippi: General Dynamics Electric Boat during the week delivered the nuclear-powered
submarine Mississippi to the U.S. Navy more than a year ahead of schedule and more than $60 million below target cost. SSN-782, the ninth ship of the class, will join the fleet in a commissioning ceremony June 2 in Pascagoula, Miss. (Post)

LHA 7: The latest large-deck amphibious assault ship being built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., LHA 7, will be named USS Tripoli. LHA 7 has an increased aviation capacity to include an enlarged hangar deck and more that will support helicopters, tilt rotors and Joint Strike Fighters F-35B aircraft. (Post)

Contract: Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded an $11.5 million modification to previously awarded contract to exercise an option for fiscal 2012 class services in support of class product fabrication, delivery, engineering, engineering support and integrated logistics support of the DDG 1000 destroyer. Work will be done in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss. (Post)