A rocket engine test at Stennis Space Center; an announced expansion of an aerospace company in Mobile; a planned Mardi Gras-type welcome for aircraft components arriving in Mobile; and a Pensacola institute's outstanding showing in a robotics competition were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor during the week.
Here's your week in review:
At Stennis Space Center, Miss., an RS-25 engine fired up for 500 seconds during the week in the third test of the engines that will power the Space Launch System. The test was on the A-1 test stand, and four more tests are planned for the developmental engine. A cluster of four RS-25 engines will power SLS, the NASA rocket that will take astronauts further into space than ever before. (Post)
In Mobile, Ala., Star Aviation announced it will expand its facility at the Mobile Aeroplex and hire between 20 and 50 additional employees over the next two years. The company expects to break ground in the next few weeks on a new 24,000-square-foot facility, adjacent to the company’s principal office. The company currently employs 85 workers in Mobile and 45 in Seattle. The privately held company specializes in aircraft aftermarket systems. (Post)
There will be a Mardi Gras-style event when the first components for the very first U.S.-built Airbus jetliner are brought from the port to the Airbus assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex. The four-mile parade from the port to the Aeroplex is scheduled for June 21. The components, including fuselage, wings and more, left Hamburg, Germany, May 29. (Post)
-- France's Safran said on Thursday it's focusing on meeting a steep ramp-up in jet engine production before deciding whether to stretch its already record commitments further. Both Airbus and Boeing have plans with engine makers to raise production of their most popular models by some 20 percent to 50-52 planes a month by 2017-2018. Airbus recently said it's considering pushing that figure even higher, to as many as 63 planes a month. The new A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala., will play a role in reducing the backlog. Safran also has an engineering operation in Mobile. (Post)
A team from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) finished second in the DARPA Robotics Challenge held in Pomona, Calif., last weekend. IHMC won the $1 million prize for the second-place finish. "Running Man" from IHMC was the top team from the United States. The competition was designed to spur the development of robots that could perform human-like challenges, including driving a vehicle, cutting a hole in a wall and overcoming obstacles. (Post)
Air Force Col. Christopher P. Azzano, who became commander of the 96th Test Wing at
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., last week, has been nominated to the rank of brigadier general. The nomination was announced today by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Azzano took over the 96th at a change of command ceremony June 4. (Post)
Raytheon Missile Systems Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded two contracts for the Small Diameter Bomb II. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity for both. One is a $31 million contract to exercise an option to previously awarded contract FA8672-10-C-0002 for Small Diameter Bomb II. The contractor will provide low-rate initial production for 144 SDB II Lot 1 munitions, 156 SDB II Lot 1 single weapon containers, eight SDB II weapon load crew trainers and conventional munitions maintenance trainers, four SDB II Lot 1 practical explosive ordnance disposal system trainers, and data. In the other contract, Raytheon was awarded a $10.6 million contract to provide Small Diameter Bomb II aircraft integration test assets, to include jettison test vehicles, and instrumented measurement vehicles on the F/A-18E/F aircraft. … NASA awarded a contract to Computer Sciences Corporation, Huntsville, Ala., to provide business, administrative and technical support services to the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The contract will be administered at the NSSC, which performs select business activities for all NASA centers.