Saturday, April 21, 2018

Week in review (4/15 to 4/21)

There had been talk that SpaceX might put the manufacturing facility for its giant "BFR" Mars rocket along the Gulf Coast, specifically at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility. That seemed possible since the company is using nearby Stennis Space Center, Miss., to develop its next generation rocket engine.

But it's going to the Port of Los Angeles instead, some 20 miles from corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. The water access was key to the decision. After the Big Falcon Rocket is built and ready for launch, it will travel by barge to Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

The company during the week finalized the deal with the port to lease 19 acres, where it will build a 200,000-square-foot hangar for production of the BFR, a nearly 350-foot tall rocket and spaceship. Production of the rocket will begin in two or three years. The operation will employ up to 700 people.

This is a really big rocket. It will be powered by 31 main engines and its spaceship will be designed to carry 100 people. Yes, you read that right – 100. And it will be reuseable, which SpaceX has already proven to be practical.

In addition to California and Louisiana, SpaceX was considering Texas and Florida.

You can find stories about this in Florida Today, the Los Angeles Times and Digital Trends.

The engines that will power both stages of this rocket are the next-generation Raptor engine, which is being developed by SpaceX in part at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The company is using the E-2 test stand at SSC.

-- Speaking of space, NASA finally has a new administrator. The Senate confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be the 13th NASA administrator. The partisan vote was 50 to 39.

Democrats opposed Bridenstine, President Trump's nominee, because he's not a "space professional." Bridenstine had previously said he's an advocate of the current Space Launch System program and NASA working with commercial space companies.

NASA's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, is nearing retirement. Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, are both involved in the SLS/Orion program as well as commercial space activities. (Post)

Hypersonic weapons got a lot of press coverage in March when Russia's Putin, ahead of the elections, bragged that his country had them. He said they have unlimited range and are invincible - they simply can't be stopped. That Russia is developing the weapons is no surprise to anyone who follows defense issue. The United States is also developing them.

During the week Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Space, Huntsville, Ala., was the successful bidder for a $928 million contract for a hypersonic conventional strike weapon. The contract provides for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.

Work will be performed in Huntsville, but the contracting activity is the Air Force Life Cycle Management at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The award was the result of a competitive acquisition and three offers were received. Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be obligated at the time of award on the first task order. (Post)

-- Cmdr. Stephen Audelo this week turned over command of Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8) of Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., to Cmdr. Jessica Parker during a ceremony at Naval Air Station Pensacola's Naval Aviation Museum.

HT-8 is the Navy's oldest currently active helicopter training squadron, responsible for flying more than 26,000 flight hours and graduating an estimated 168 Naval aviators every year. Cmdr. Lena Kaman became the new executive officer of HT-8. (Post)

-- The Defense Department is honoring nine winners with the 2018 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards for exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.

Among the winners is Frederick A. Javier, 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., who provided outstanding leadership by training installation staff on environmental management and engaging with the local community to promote DoD’s mission and science education.

The department has honored individuals, teams and installations each year since 1962 for remarkable achievements in these environmental management strategies that successfully support mission readiness. (Post)

Frontier Airlines and Pensacola International Airport are holding an inaugural celebration to kick off Frontier’s nonstop service to and from Denver international Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The inaugural event will be April 24, at 3 p.m. at the company’s ticket counter. (Post)

Vectrus Systems Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., was awarded a $15.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., operations support services. This modification provides for exercise of the second option, and brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $32,989,794. Work will be performed at Keesler and is expected to be complete by May 31, 2019. The 81st Contracting Squadron, Keesler AFB, is the contracting activity. … L3 Communication, Vertex Aerospace, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $30 million modification to a previously awarded contract for contractor logistics support of the Air Force C-12 fleet. Work will be performed at a variety of locations, including Madison. Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity. … Rockwell Collins Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was awarded a $15.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract to support the third production lot of the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System for upgrading the test and evaluation instrumentation at Air Force, Navy and Army test ranges. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Armament Directorate, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

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