Friday, July 19, 2013

Sequestration: Air Force cancels Alaska Radar System contract meeting

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) announced Thursday they must cancel a meeting with defense contractors next month at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Alaska due to budget restrictions associated with sequestration. The Air Force 673rd Contracting Squadron and the 611th Air Support Group at JBER planned to meet with contractors on Aug. 7 and 8 to discuss an operations and maintenance contract for the Alaska Radar System (ARS).

The original plan was to host a Site Visit with contractors and have personnel transported from JBER to remote radar sites located at either Point Barrow or Tatalina, with alternate sites at Tin City or Cape Newenham. Transportation to and from the remote sites would have been with the 537th Airlift Squadron via military aircraft.

Due to unforeseen impacts on the USAF flying hour program and travel budgets directly associated with sequestration, we must cancel the Industry Day and associated Site Visit previously scheduled for 7 & 8 August 2013,” the Air Force said in documents released through the Federal Business Opportunities website. “Planning efforts are currently underway to reschedule this event for March/April 2014.

“A follow on date will be announced as soon as scheduling permits,” the Air Force said. “In lieu of the Site Visit, the ARS program office is planning to capture video and pictures of the sites that will be released to industry.”

ARS provides Alaska airspace surveillance, intercept control, and navigational assistance to military and civilian aircraft.

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Video: Atlas rocket lifts Navy satellite into orbit

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the second Mobile User Objective System satellite (MUOS-2) for the U.S. Navy was launched from Space Launch Complex-41 on Friday.

This is ULA's sixth launch of an aggressive 12 mission schedule for the year and the 72nd ULA mission since its formation in 2006.

MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system designed to significantly improve beyond-line-of-sight communications for U.S. forces on the move. MUOS will provide military users 10 times more communications capacity over the existing system by leveraging 3G mobile communications technology, and will provide simultaneous voice and data capability.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Private enterprise mission to the Moon's South Pole

The world's first mission to the South Pole of the Moon was announced Thursday by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and Moon Express, Inc. The private enterprise mission will be both scientific and commercial, and will deliver the International Lunar Observatory (ILO) to the Moon's South Pole aboard a Moon Express robotic lander, establishing permanent astrophysical observations and lunar commercial communications systems for professional and amateur researchers. The announcement was made during a NASA Lunar Science Institute conference at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.

Moon Express will also utilize the mission to explore the Moon's South Pole for mineral resources and water. Lunar probes have provided compelling evidence of mineral and volatile deposits in the Moon's southern polar region where energy and resources may be abundant.

The ILO, with its two-meter dish antenna, will be the world's first instrument to conduct international astrophysical observations and communications from the lunar surface, providing scientific research.

ILOA is a global consortium of scientists, educators, entrepreneurs and visionaries who seek to establish a scientific presence on the Moon followed by human exploration and eventual settlement. ILOA expects that the South Pole mission could take place as early as 2016.

Moon Express is the mission partner in the venture, providing the lunar lander, mission architecture and operations. The company was unveiled in August 2010 as a commercial lunar resource company and is partnered with NASA for its lunar lander development. Moon Express will send a series of robotic missions to the Moon in support of science, commerce and exploration starting in 2015.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Air Force QF-4 aerial target drone crashes in Florida

U.S. Highway 98 from Tyndall Air Force Base to Mexico Beach in Florida is expected to remain closed until mid-day Thursday as a result of an unmanned Air Force QF-4 full scale aerial target drone that crashed.

"This closure is being done strictly as a precautionary measure due to fires resulting from the crash and a small self-destruct charge carried on board the target," said Col. William Grund, 325th Mission Support Group commander. "We understand that the closure of U.S. Highway 98 is a huge inconvenience to our local community, but we ask for everyone's patience and understanding as we work to secure the area and maintain safety."

The status of this device is unknown; however it is powered by a short-life battery which will be fully depleted in 24 hours, at which time the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team can go out and secure the site. The charge is used to destroy the target if it leaves its pre-approved flight plan.

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Video: Flying a brand new F/A-18 Super Hornet

Go behind the scenes with Boeing test pilot, Steve "Bull" Schmidt, as he takes a new F/A-18 Super Hornet up for the plane's first flight.

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Cooney appointed senior vice president position at Red Robin

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., a casual dining restaurant chain focused on serving gourmet burgers, announced Wednesday the appointment of Cathy Cooney as senior vice president and chief people officer. Cooney will be responsible for leading the development and execution of human resource (HR) strategies that will drive engagement, build strength and capabilities across functions and create a best in class restaurant organization that will consistently advance the company's business goals.

Cooney brings to Red Robin nearly three decades of HR experience, with a career that includes HR leadership roles in a number of industries including consumer brands, food distribution, healthcare and energy.

Before joining Red Robin, Cooney served as executive vice president of Human Resources for Carefusion. Prior to her 14-year career in the healthcare industry, Cooney served in several HR roles of increasing responsibility over an eight-year span for Pepsico, Inc., including senior director of Human Resources for Pepsico Food Systems and benefits leader for Frito-Lay, Inc.

Cooney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Mo.

There currently are 478 Red Robin locations across the United States and Canada. The restaurant chain was founded in 1969.

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United Airlines maiden test flight with Split Scimitar Winglet

A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft retrofitted with the new Split Scimitar Winglet took its maiden test flight Tuesday in Everett, Wash. This advanced winglet improves on the existing blended winglets United currently has on its next generation 737 fleet.

In January, United served as the launch customer for this innovative winglet when it made a firm commitment with Aviation Partners Boeing to retrofit its 737-800 fleet. In June, United announced its commitment to also retrofit its 737-900ER fleet. Using a newly patented design, the program consists of retrofitting United's Boeing Next Generation 737 Blended Winglets by replacing the aluminum winglet tip cap with a new aerodynamically shaped "Scimitar” winglet tip cap and by adding a new Scimitar-tipped ventral strake.

United expects the new Split Scimitar winglet to result in approximately a two percent fuel savings for the 737. Once the Split Scimitar Winglets are installed, the combined winglet technology installed on United's 737, 757, and 767 fleet is expected to save the airline more than $200 million per year in fuel costs.
United will begin retrofitting its 737-800 and 737-900ER fleet with the new winglet beginning early next year, once testing and FAA certification of the winglets are complete.

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Video: Second Navy MUOS satellite loaded aboard rocket

The U.S. Navy's second Mobile User Objective System satellite (known as MUOS-2), encapsulated inside a five-meter diameter payload fairing, was recently mated to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster in preparation for launch Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

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Unmanned aerial vehicles market worth $8.35 billion by 2018

The Royal Navy just spent $45 million on the ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), which is part of a market set to be worth $8.35 billion by 2018, according to a recent market intelligence report published by Defence IQ. “One thing is clear: the role of UAVs in maritime reconnaissance and surveillance is becoming a key area for development and investment right now,” Defence IQ said on Wednesday in press release.

"Continued investment in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems is essential to keeping our Armed Forces up-to-date with the latest capabilities and this will be a central part of Ministry of Defence's investment in new equipment over the next 10 years,” said Philip Dunne, U.K. Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

United Airlines adds nonstop New York/St. Lucia service

United Airlines has launched weekly nonstop service to St. Lucia from its New York hub at Newark Liberty International Airport. The flights, which began on Saturday, operate using Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with 16 business seats, 48 economy plus seats and 90 economy seats.

United flight 1642 departs Newark Liberty on Saturdays at 8:55 a.m., arriving at the Hewanorra International Airport in St. Lucia at 1:48 p.m. The return flight, United 1643, departs St. Lucia on Saturdays at 2:38 p.m., arriving in Newark at 7:33 p.m. The service provides convenient connections to and from 22 cities in the United States, including Chicago, Boston and Washington, as well as several Canadian cities.

United Airlines and United Express operate an average of 5,446 flights a day to more than 370 airports across six continents.

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'Adverse geological conditions' suspends operations at Pennsylvania coal mine

Cumberland Coal Resources LP, a subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources, has temporarily suspended production at its Cumberland underground longwall mine in Greene County, Pa. due to adverse geological conditions in the mine's headgate area.

While mine employees work to mitigate the conditions that halted operations, the mine is on idle status as of Monday, and coal shipments have ceased, the company said in a press release. "Cumberland's management currently anticipates that it will be at least several weeks before production resumes." During this period the mine will maintain a reduced workforce of employees who are key to bringing the longwall back into production.

Alpha Natural Resources is one of the largest and most regionally diversified coal suppliers in the United States. With mining operations in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, Alpha supplies metallurgical coal to the steel industry and thermal coal to generate power to customers on five continents.

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