Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week in review (4/16 to 4/22)

NASA on Tuesday will show off to the media the first completed core stage structural test article of the Space Launch System rocket built at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

This test article will be shipped on the barge Pegasus from Michoud to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where it will undergo structural testing.

The engine section, the bottom of the 212-foot-long core stage, has to be strong because all four RS-25 engines and the SLS's two solid rocket motors are attached to it and produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust at lift-off.

After the structural tests at Marshall, Pegasus will transport the entire flight core stage to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., for testing, and then on to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration into the SLS vehicle and launch. (Post)

At Hurlburt Field, Fla., two Special Tactics airmen received the Air Force's highest combat medal at the same time for separate missions in Afghanistan. One Air Force Cross was given to retired MSgt. Keary Miller, and the other was given to SSgt. Chris Baradat.

Miller in 2002 helped care for critically wounded service members during a 17-hour battle against Al Qaeda forces. In 2013 Baradat, serving as a combat controller, directed air strikes during three hours of fighting against the Taliban.

Both were originally awarded a Silver Star, but during a review of awards they were upgraded to the Air Force Cross. The Air Force Thunderbirds kicked off a special ceremony at Hurlburt Field with a flyover. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein presided over the ceremony. (Post)

-- A Boeing 747 VC-25A, one of two VC-25As assigned to the Presidential Airlift Group, 89th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Md., was on the flightline April 19 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. It’s known as "Air Force One" whenever it’s used by the president, though any U.S. Air Force plane he’s aboard receives that radio call sign. The aircraft was completing a maintenance cycle and is undergoing an operational test regimen before being certified to return to presidential service. (Post)

-- At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the youth center hosted the opening of its new Boys’ & Girls’ Club Center for Innovation.

The center will provide members access to advanced technologies and focus on STEM-related subjects and activities, including a robotics kit, 3D printers, a makerspace with a giant tool wall, invention- and computer- building kits that will offer hands-on learning opportunities to explore and advance understanding of scientific and mathematical concepts.

The program is made possible by a grant from Raytheon to cultivate interest in the STEM fields, which are expected to grow nearly twice as fast as any other field by 2018 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Eglin is the third Air Force youth center to benefit from the grant. (Post)

-- The Navy resumed T-45 training flights at Naval Air Station Pensacola and two other bases after halting the flights because of concerns about the oxygen system. Training can continue as long as pilots remain below an altitude of 10,000 feet to avoid using the onboard oxygen generator system. Normally, training is done at altitudes of 14,000 feet.

Pilots at NAS Pensacola, Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., and Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, had complained about experiencing episodes of hypoxia and training was temporarily suspended. The investigation is continuing. (Post)

Mississippi State University in Starkville was chosen by the Department of Homeland Security as a base of operations for drone research. Much of the work on how to best to use the devices will be done in South Mississippi.

Operations are expected to begin in the fall. Sites that will be used are Camp Shelby, which is the Army National Guard’s national drone-training center; buffer zone areas at Stennis Space Center, which is used for Department of Defense special-operations training; and the maritime environment accessible from the U.S. Coast Guard facilities on Singing River Island in Jackson County. (Post)

-- An autonomous helicopter designed to boost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for ship crews at sea has completed a successful first flight from the deck of a littoral combat ship underway.

Earlier this month, the MQ-8C Fire Scout took off from the Independence-Class LCS Montgomery during a two-week series of tests off the coast of California. The flight came two years after the Fire Scout was first delivered to the Navy in December 2014 and marked a milestone in proving out the reliability and safety of the small drone.

A Fire Scout had previously conducted an at-sea flight off an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the Jason Dunham, in December 2015. Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $202.2 million contract for depot level maintenance, logistics, and sustaining engineering services in support of the C-12 utility lift aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps. Three percent of the work will be done in Belle Chasse, La.. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $100 million contract for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) production support. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. … Longbow LLC, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $10.8 million modification to a contract to exercise options for Hellfire engineering services. Work will be performed in Orlando, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Huntsville, Ala. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $64.6 million option to a previously awarded contract for the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) program. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum Heights, Md., was awarded a $7.5 million contract for logistic support of the AN/ASQ-236 aircraft pod. One of the work sites is Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

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