Saturday, July 29, 2017

Week in review (7/23 to 7/29)

Happy birthday, NASA!

An associate reminded me it was 59 years ago today, July 29, 1958, that Congress established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in response to the Soviet Union launching the first satellite in space.

Since then NASA has sponsored space expeditions, human and mechanical, that have helped further our understanding of space, including landing the first human on the moon in July 1969. Its research has also led to many products and services that we regularly use today in non-space activities.

While NASA is important to the nation, it holds particular significance for the South. It was shortly after its establishment that NASA that in the early ‘60s it launched a program to establish manufacturing, test and launch facilities needed to take on the Soviet Union in the space race.

The South became a big winner thanks to the availability of large tracts of land and interconnected waterways needed to transport large space vehicles. Longer periods of fair weather flying also played a role, as it did for the establishment of military bases in this region. On top of that, powerful, senior Southern politicians recognized the economic benefit the space program would bring, and pushed to have NASA set up sites in this region.

Huntsville, Houston, Cape Canaveral, Bay St. Louis, and New Orleans all were chosen and formed the "Space Crescent." The Gulf Coast I-10 region is home to Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, which was tasked with building the huge space vehicles that would be needed, and a site in south Mississippi near Bay St. Louis, which would eventually become John C. Stennis Space Center, was chosen to test the huge rocket engines.

Both facilities have played a central role in the nation’s ventures into space since they were established. Today Michoud and Stennis Space Center are involved in NASA programs as well as programs of commercial space companies. So again, happy birthday, NASA.

For a closer look at space activities in this region, take a look at Chapter II of Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2017-2018.

OK, speaking of NASA, SSC and the space program, the agency successfully tested the third RS-25 flight controller, this one Unit 5, during a 500-second test Tuesday on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center.

Four RS-25 engines providing 2 million pounds of thrust will power the first stage of NASA's deep-space Space Launch System. A pair of solid rocket boosters will produce an additional 6 million pounds of thrust. The test involved installing the controller unit, characterized as the "brain," on an RS-25 development engine and firing it in the same manner, and for the same length of time, as needed during launch. (Post)

There were three contracts during the week that were awarded to Lockheed Martin for the F-35 Lightning II fighter. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity in all three contracts.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $3.7 billion modification to the previously awarded advanced acquisition contract for Lot 11. This modification provides for the procurement of 50 aircraft for non-Department of Defense participants and foreign military sales (FMS) customers comprised of one F-35B aircraft for the UK; one F-35A aircraft for Italy; eight F-35A aircraft for Australia; eight F-35A aircraft for the Netherlands; four F-35A aircraft for Turkey; six F-35A aircraft for Norway; and 22 F-35A aircraft for FMS customers.

Work will be performed in Texas, California, United Kingdom, Italy, New Hampshire, Maryland, Florida, Japan and other international locations, and is expected to be completed in December 2020. (Post)

In another contract, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $218.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for recurring logistics support and sustainment services for F-35 aircraft in support of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants, and foreign military sales customers. Sustainment services to be provided include ground maintenance activities; action request resolution; depot activation activities; Automatic Logistics Information System operations and maintenance; reliability, maintainability and health management implementation and support; supply chain management; and activities to provide and support pilot and maintainer initial training.

Work will be done in Texas, Florida, United Kingdom, California, and South Carolina and is expected to be completed in February 2018. (Post)

In addition, the company was awarded an $8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for recurring logistics support and sustainment services for F-35 aircraft in support of the government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be done in Florida, South Carolina and Texas, and is expected to be completed in December 2017. (Post)

The Navy has grounded C-130 aircraft similar to the one that crashed in Mississippi earlier this month while investigators are looking into what made the plane come down. Among the aircraft grounded is the Blue Angels’ Fat Albert, a KC-130T cargo plane that accompanies the Blue Angels to air shows.

The 15 Marines and Navy corpsman died July 10 when the KC-130T taking them from Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina to El Centro Naval Air Station in California crashed in rural Mississippi. (Post)

Raytheon, Tucson, Ariz., has been awarded a $7.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II F-16 integration. The modification is for weapon integration support, travel, and integration-related hardware. Work will be done in Tucson and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2021. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Direct Attack International Branch, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Kapsuun Group LLC, Lorton, Va., was awarded a $70 million contract for linguist and analyst support services. The contractor will provide linguist and analyst support services for 25th Air Force’s 55th Wing, 70th and 480th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Wings, the 361st ISR Group and the 24th Air Force’s 67th and 688th Cyberspace Wings, to support the warfighter by providing near real-time intelligence and cyberspace intelligence to national decision makers, theater and combatant commanders with 1N3 ground linguists and 1A8 airborne linguists. One of the work locations is Hurlburt Field, Fla. Other sites are in the United Kingdom, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska, and Japan. … Broadleaf Inc., Haymarket Va., was awarded a $22 million contract for base level software support services. This contract provides for services to purchase software and manage software licenses. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by July 31, 2021. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

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