Saturday, July 16, 2016

Week in review (7/10 to 7/16)

One firm announcement out of Farnborough during the airshow that has an impact on the Gulf Coast region was word that Aerojet Rocketdyne would assemble and test its AR1 liquid rocket engine at Mississippi's Stennis Space Center.

That decision will expand the company's operation at SSC from 130 to about 200 employees. Aerojet Rocketdyne's operation at SSC is called the Center of Excellence for Large Liquid Rocket Engine Assembly and Test.

AR1 is being developed to support the country’s mandate to eliminate U.S. reliance on the Russian RD-180 engine for national security space launches by 2019. Three other companies are also developing replacement engines.

Aerojet Rocketdyne's facility at SSC is already home for assembly and testing of the RS-68 engine that powers the Delta IV family of launch vehicles, and the RS-25 engine that will power NASA's Space Launch System. As a part of the buildup for RS-25 assembly and testing, Aerojet Rocketdyne is locating its RS-25 low pressure turbopump assembly to the company's facility at SSC. (Post)

Speaking of the RS-25, a minor issue with the test stand triggered an early shutdown in the latest test of an RS-25 engine at SSC. The test of developmental engine No. 0528 was Thursday on the A-1 test stand.

The test was supposed to be 650 seconds, but the engine shut down 193 seconds into the test. No issues were reported with the engine, and the next test is planned for August. The test was conducted by a team of NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Syncom Space Services engineers and operators. (Post)

In another test at SSC Friday, Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully completed its latest three-minute acceptance test on a liquid-fueled RS-68A booster engine. This is Aerojet Rocketdyne's 119th hot-fire test on the production model of the RS-68 engine family. The RS-68A is the world's most powerful liquid-hydrogen/liquid-oxygen booster engine and provides 702,000 pounds of lift-off thrust, some 17 million horsepower. (Post)

In another SSC-related item during the week, several media outlets reported that the Federal Aviation Administration expanded the restricted air space over SSC. The expansion supports ongoing rocket engine testing at the facility and allows Stennis Space Center’s tenants to test unmanned aerial vehicles for research and development purposes.

The restricted air space was first defined over SSC in the 1960s to test Saturn V rockets. The expansion, which went into effect on May 26, covers five areas of about 100 square miles between Stennis International Airport and the Picayune, Miss., airport. (Post)

The first Airbus jetliner built in the United States, JetBlue's A321 BluesMobile, will participate in this month's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016. The 64th annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention in Wisconsin is July 25-31 at the regional airport. The A321, built at the new Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Ala., was delivered to JetBlue in April. Five Mobile-built Airbus jetliners have been delivered to customers so far. (Post)

The Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron announced the selection of a prior Blue Angels pilot to serve as the new Blue Angel No. 6 opposing solo pilot. Navy Cmdr. Frank Weisser will return to the team for the remainder of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Weisser previously served on the Blue Angels from 2008-2010. Weisser replaces Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who died in a crash during a practice session in Tennessee June 2. (Post)

The Naval Aerospace Medicine Institute on July 11 launched a new Flight Medic course at Navy Medicine Operational Training Center for seven search and rescue hospital corpsmen. In the past this was done at the sailor's command. No formal course existed for standardized training until the Navy joined with the Air Force and Army in 2004 to provide a more structured education. The three services went their separate ways April 1, and the Navy moved its course from Fort Rucker, Ala., to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. (Post)

The Air Force awarded Raytheon a potential $34.8 million contract to demonstrate an updated electronic warfare technology for the Miniature Air Launched Decoy-Jammer. MALD-X is a collaborative effort of the Air Force, Navy, Special Capabilities Office at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Florida's Eglin Air Force Base's MALD Program Office. Raytheon designed MALD to duplicate friendly aircraft flight profiles and radar signatures to confuse adversaries. (Post)

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