Saturday, February 3, 2018

Week in review (1/28 to 2/3)

Leave it to folks who don't live in this region to think they know what's best for us. I'm talking about the legislation to move Northwest Florida into the Eastern Time Zone, and shift us to permanent Daylight Saving Time.

The people who are backing this apparently don't fully understand the impact. Under the "Sunshine Protection Act," Pensacola will be an hour ahead of nearby Mobile during Daylight Savings Time, and two hours ahead during Daylight Standard Time.

The region covered by the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor is all on Central Time. When it's 11 a.m. in Panama City, Fla., it's the same time in New Orleans. When I cross the Alabama-Florida state line heading west on work-related travel, I'm always in the same time zone. If I head east along Interstate 10, I don't change time zones until crossing the Apalachicola River, and that's outside the aerospace corridor area of interest.

All of us who live here are quite familiar with being in a different time zone than Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami. And there's a lot of logic in keeping all the northern Gulf Coast in the same time zone. Fortunately, Northwest Florida senators opposed the plan. Like so many other ideas to make things "better," this needs to be beaten down.

Now here's your week in review:

OK, space buffs, here are a couple of items you’ll like.

Construction has officially begun on the spaceship that will achieve America's goal of returning astronauts to the Moon and beyond. Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in East New Orleans have welded together the first two components of the Orion crew module capsule for Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2). The EM-2 mission will be its first flight with astronauts on board.

This flight will be launched atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. EM-1, which will be used for an unscrewed mission, was assembled at Michoud and final assembly is being done in Florida.

The EM-2 capsule is 30 percent lighter and has 80 percent fewer parts. The main structure of the crew module, or pressure vessel, is comprised of seven large machined aluminum alloy pieces that are welded together to produce a strong, light-weight, air-tight capsule.

The first weld joined the forward bulkhead with the tunnel section to create the top of the spacecraft. The pressure vessel capsule will continue to be built out over the spring and summer in Michoud incorporating the three cone panels, the large barrel and the aft bulkhead.

Once completed in September, it will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center where the Lockheed Martin team will perform assembly and test of the EM-2 spacecraft. (Post)

Meanwhile, over at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, NASA followed up the first RS-25 test of 2018 with a second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) engine late in the week. The full-duration, 365-second certification test of another RS-25 engine flight controller on the A-1 Test Stand at comes about two weeks after a Jan. 16 hot fire.

The test marks completion of green run testing for all four of the new RS-25 engine flight controllers needed for the second flight of NASA’s SLS rocket. NASA is building SLS to send humans to such deep-space missions. Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) will test the new rocket and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft into space beyond the moon. EM-2 will be the first flight to carry humans aboard the Orion spacecraft, returning astronauts to deep space for the first time in more than 40 years. RS-25 controllers for the EM-1 flight already are installed on the engines that will be part of the SLS core stage. (Post)

Remote sensing
WMR-532, a joint venture of Woolpert and Optimal GEO, recently hosted a training session on the Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar program for Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) personnel. This session, which took place over five days at Stennis International Airport, was supported by the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetric Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX), Teledyne Optech and the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission.

WMR-532 is providing operations and maintenance of airborne coastal mapping and charting sensors in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NAVOCEANO worldwide, as well as technical support to JALBTCX. The Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar program is designed to develop and evaluate a sensor for mapping and charting the coastal zone to improve performance and data products. (Post)

The newest Airbus aircraft, the A321LR, completed its maiden flight in Europe during the week. The flight was two hours and 36 minutes. Thanks to new CFM LEAP-1A engines and a third fuel tank option, it can fly more than 4,300 miles non-stop, which opens up new transatlantic routes using the popular single-aisle jetliner.

The A321LR (Long Range), which can accommodate up to 240 passengers, now undergoes a nearly 100-hour flight test program and is expected to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2018. The Airbus plant in Mobile, Ala., will be producing the LR variant starting in 2019, according to Kristi Tucker, spokeswoman for the Mobile plant. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $148 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for the procurement of Israel-unique weapons certification, modification kits, and electronic warfare analysis in support of the F-35 Lightning II Israel system design and development to provide 3F+ fleet capability for the government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. … BAE Systems, Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc., Nashua, N.H., was awarded a $13.1 million contract for the phase 2 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Seeker Cost Transformation program. The contract seeks to demonstrate that a high performance seeker can be used in precision guided munitions and accurately guided to a target by a low cost, modular open-architecture, low size, weight, power and cost seeker. Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missiles Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $105.2 million modification to previously awarded contract for Griffin missiles. The contracting activity is the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

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