Saturday, March 9, 2019

Week in review (3/3 to 3/9)

We are on our way back to having astronauts again launch from the United States in a U.S.-built spacecraft. And it’s looking like the first to do it won’t be NASA, but a commercial venture, California-based SpaceX.

The company’s Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) during the week, then uncoupled and returned to Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean, some 230 miles from the Florida coast Friday at 8:45 a.m. EST.

The capsule, carrying 400 pounds of supplies for ISS, was launched by the Falcon 9 rocket a week ago from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The first stage successfully touched down on a drone ship.

There were no astronauts aboard this six-day test flight, but there was a sensor-packed dummy "Ripley." You movie buffs will recall that was the name of a character in the "Alien" films. The success of the test flight, Demo-1, helps paves the way for a crewed mission of the SpaceX vehicle, perhaps as early as this summer.

When that happens, it will be a huge milestone. Astronauts haven't launched to orbit from American soil in an American spacecraft since NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in July 2011. NASA right now depends on Russian Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to ferry its astronauts to and from ISS. Each seat on the three-person Soyuz sells for $80 million.

In 2014 NASA signed commercial-crew contracts with SpaceX and Boeing, worth $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, to foster the development of homegrown American spaceships. Boeing is building a capsule called CST-100.

While all this is going on, NASA is reassessing when it will be ready for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). Earlier in the week, Director Jody Singer of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said NASA is reassessing the 2020 date for the first launch of Space Launch System (SLS) with an uncrewed Orion capsule.

Singer, speaking at a Space Transportation Association (STA) meeting on Capitol Hill Tuesday, said the launch readiness date for EM-1 is still in 2020, but did not give a more precise estimate of the date. Singer outlined how much has been accomplished to date. All the segments for EM-1 are ready except the core stage being built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. She said it's "almost ready," but much testing remains.

The "Green Run" test of the core stage and four RS-25 engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss., will take place late this year or early next, she said.

Singer described SLS as :America’s rocket" because more than 1,100 companies in 44 states are involved in building it, supporting more than 32,000 jobs and producing $6 billion in economic benefit. (Post)

Col. Dave Morris will turn over command of Training Air Wing Five March 14 during a change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. Capt. Doug Rosa will assume command of the Navy's largest training wing and assume the title of commodore during the event.

Morris will move onto another assignment at the Pentagon. Among his other assignments, Morris was assigned to fly the Blue Angels C-130, Fat Albert, during the 2001-2003 airshow season.

In August 2017, Rosa reported to Training Air Wing Five at NAS Whiting Field and assumed the position of deputy commodore. Rosa will now be responsible for an estimated 43 percent of the Chief of Naval Air Training Command's total flight time and more than 14 percent of Navy and Marine Corps' flight time world-wide. (Post)

ST Engineering during the week announced the ST Engineering Scholarship Program. Starting in 2020, four scholarships will be awarded annually to Escambia County high school students. Each recipient will receive $2,500.

The company says it’s important to get students involved in the aerospace industry sooner rather than later.

"The aerospace industry is growing. The average age of an aircraft tech right now is about 50. So, we see in order to preserve aviation going forward, there will be a great need for techs going forward," said Director of Maintenance Alvin Bass.

Students can use the scholarships towards any accredited college or tech aviation school. (Post)

Contracts – F-35
Three contracts were awarded in connection with the F-35 program. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Northridge, Calif., was awarded a $322.5 million contract to provide for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the AGM-88G, Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER). The EMD effort includes the design, integration and test of a new solid rocket motor for the AARGM-ER for use on the F/A-18E/F, EA-18G and F-35A/C aircraft platforms. Work will be performed in Northridge (98 percent); and Ridgecrest, Calif. (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2023. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $32.7 million modification to a delivery order previously issued against a basic ordering agreement in support of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Aircraft for the Navy, Air Force; Marine Corps, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The modification provides for the procurement of modification kits and special tooling required for modification and retrofit activities for delivered air systems. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in August 2027. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $10 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification increases the ceiling of the contract to procure additional production ancillary mission equipment in support of F-35 non-U.S. Department of Defense participant operational aircraft. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in May 2023. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

Contracts – other
SimVentions Inc., Fredericksburg, Va., was awarded a $12 million contract for the continued development, extension, and upgrade of the AN/SLQ-32(V)X Tactical Simulator tools and capabilities delivered in support of Navy training and integration and test efforts. Work will be performed in Fredericksburg (88 percent); Fairmont, W.V., (8 percent); and Pensacola, Fla. (4 percent), and is expected to be completed by February 2024. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co., El Segundo, Calif., was awarded a $17.8 million delivery order against a five-year basic ordering agreement for aircraft radar system spare parts. Location of performance is Mississippi, with a Dec. 20, 2021, performance completion date. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pa.

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