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)