Saturday, May 10, 2014

Week in review (5/4 to 5/10)

During the week we had a story in our daily news digest that points out the connections you can find within this aerospace region. The item I’m talking about tied together Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Mobile, Ala., and Stennis Space Center, Miss.

An Airbus A350 XWB for the next couple of weeks will be undergoing extreme weather testing at the McKinley Climatic Lab at Eglin. It’s a follow-up to earlier tests on location in the Middle East and Northern Canada.

The aircraft and its various systems and cabin installations will be subjected to the extreme hot and cold temperatures that the unique facility can sustain in a testing environment. Certification of the A350 is anticipated in the third quarter of this year with entry into service in the fourth quarter. (Post)

That story is interesting to the folks around in and around Mobile because a sister aircraft of the same company, the A320, will be built there, and it's also the home of an Airbus Engineering Center and Airbus Military operation. And for South Mississippi residents? It's interesting because the Rolls Royce XWB engines are tested at Stennis Space Center.

Those kinds of stories aren't really rare. The ninth annual Emerald Warrior military exercise wrapped up Friday. Sponsored by the U.S. Special Operations Command, it involved different military branches and was held at Hurlburt Field, Eglin and Apalachicola, all in Florida, Camp Shelby and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, and Pelham Range, Ala. (Post)

I just mentioned Camp Shelby, so I'll segue to an item about logistics. Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, south of Hattiesburg, and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation will work together to strengthen the intermodal logistics hub opportunities for the base. (Post)

The F-35 fleet, which surpassed 16,000 cumulative program flight hours to date in April, flew a monthly record high for System Development and Demonstration with 282 flight hours and 153 flights in April. Operational F-35s at Eglin Air Force Base flew 515 flight hours in April. The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin is home to 48 F-35A/B/Cs and provides training for pilots and maintenance personnel. (Post)

On the procurement front, Turkey said during the week that it plans to buy its first two F-35A fighters, and still plans to eventually buy 100 of them for $16 billion. The Turkish government said in a statement that its commitment to the F-35 program "continues strong as ever." (Post)

Airbus Americas posted two new positions during the week for its A320 final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. One is for a customer manager and the other a station coordinator. The assembly line will open in 2015 and the first plane will be delivered in 2016. (Post)

In another item involving the Aeroplex, three buildings at the former military base will be converted as part of a partnership between the Mobile Airport Authority and Bishop State Community College to establish the Alabama Aerospace Innovation and Research Center. The idea is to set up a place that will be a home away from home for Alabama research institutions that want to do collaborative aerospace work with tenants at the Aeroplex. (Post)

-- Airbus Group executive Jean Botti was scheduled to delivered the commencement address at the University of South Alabama in Mobile Saturday. Botti is the chief technical and innovation officer at the company. (Post)

-- Triumph Aerostructures-Vought Aircraft Division was picked by Airbus to furnish the wing reinforcement kit that allows for the installation of Sharklets on the Airbus A319 and A320 in-service aircraft. Production will be done at the company’s Nashville, Tenn., facility, with first delivery expected early 2015. (Post)

-- A $25.5 million modification to a contract to exercise an option for contractor logistics support on the Lakota Utility Helicopter (UH-72A) was awarded to Airbus Helicopters. Work will be done in Columbus, Miss. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Post)

NASA engineers achieved a milestone May 1 as they prepare to test RS-25 rocket engines that will power the first stage of the Space Launch System (SLS). A-1 test stand operators completed a cold-shock test of the new structural piping system needed for the RS-25 engine. That sets the stage for engine hotfire tests this summer.

Four RS-25 engines – which were used to power the space shuttles -- will power the SLS. The core stage of that SLS is being built at Michoud Assembly Facility, which also built the first space-bound Orion crew vehicle.

The SLS is being built for NASA to carry humans to deep space, including asteroids and eventually Mars. Renovation of the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis has been under way since last fall to accommodate the RS-25. (Post)

In another SLS item during the week, Birmingham's Brasfield & Gorrie won a $45 million contract to build two stands at Marshall Space Flight Center, Ala., to test the fuel tanks and other key hardware of the SLS.

One stand will be 215 feet tall and will test the SLS liquid hydrogen tank. The second stand will be 85 feet tall and will test the liquid oxygen tank of the new rocket. The stands will take about a year to build with construction will begin late this month.

The core stage of the SLS is 200 feet tall, larger than the 75-foot tall Saturn V first stage. The core is composed of two fuel tanks, a main engine compartment, an intertank ring to join the two tanks and a top ring to attach the core to the Orion upper stage. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin completed the propulsion module for the fourth Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO-4) space vehicle and is now proceeding with satellite assembly, integration and test.

The SBIRS satellites provide continuous early warning of ballistic missile launches and other tactical intelligence. Final assembly and test of the GEO-4 satellite’s propulsion module occurred earlier this year at Lockheed Martin’s Mississippi Space & Technology Center at Stennis Space Center. The propulsion module maneuvers the satellite during transfer orbit to its final location and conducts on-orbit repositioning maneuvers throughout its mission life. (Post)

In another satellite news item involving Stennis Space Center, two modules of the first GOES-R series weather satellite spacecraft have been delivered to a cleanroom at Lockheed Martin's Space Systems facility near Denver.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R series (GOES-R) is NOAA's next-generation geostationary weather satellites. The propulsion module of the A2100-based satellite recently underwent integration of its engines, fuel tanks and various propulsion components at the company's Mississippi Space and Technology Center at NASA's Stennis Space Center. (Post)

-- An injunction that kept the Air Force and United Launch Alliance from buying Russian-made RD-180 engines for launch vehicles has been lifted. The injunction was issued April 30 after SpaceX filed suit, saying the purchases violated sanctions on Russian officials in the wake of the Ukraine situation. But letters submitted to the court by the departments of State, Treasury and Commerce said the maker of the engines, NPO Energomash, is not subject any of the sanctions. (Post)

The MQ-8C Fire Scout will be tested at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., for its ability to operate safely in the intense electromagnetic environment aboard U.S. Navy ships. The MQ-8C uses specially-designed Faraday cages to protect sensitive equipment on the aircraft from signal interference.

The Faraday cages are built by Summit Aviation in Somerset, Ky., and installed during final assembly at Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss. Since first flight in October the MQ-8C has flown 102 flights. (Post)

-- There was another item late in the week on unmanned systems that caused some concern. A UAV almost hit a US Airways plane about five miles from Florida's Tallahassee Regional Airport back in March. That's what a pilot told the FAA.

The plane was a Bombardier CRJ2 regional jet, and it was flying at 2,300 feet when it passed what appeared to be a remote-controlled aircraft. American Airlines Group, which owns US Airways, is investigating.

There have been at least six other incidents since September 2011 in which pilots have reported close calls with unmanned aircraft. The pilot said it looked like a high-end model airplane built to look like a jet fighter. (Post)

Two reserve colonels in New Orleans have been nominated for promotions. They are Marine Corps Reserve Col. Helen G. Pratt and Marine Corps Reserve Col. Patrick J. Hermesmann. Both were nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Pratt is deputy commander, 4th Marine Logistics Group, and Hermesmann is vice chief of staff, Marine Forces Reserve. (Post)

NSC: Ingalls Shipbuilding launched the U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter James (WMSL 754) last weekend. (Post)
Navigation: New Orleans hosted a Future of Navigation-21st Century Waterways sessions Wednesday at Port of New Orleans Place. (Post)
JHSV: The Navy's first-in-class Joint High Speed Vessel, USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1), left the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations last week after more than three months deployed within the European and African theaters. (Post)

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