Thursday, May 14, 2020

Military X-37B ready for sixth flight in space

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 501 rocket is scheduled to launch the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force from Space Launch Complex-41 on Sunday at 9:14 a.m. EDT. This launch will mark the sixth flight of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6).

Along with OTV-6, the mission will deploy FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory to conduct experiments on orbit. The mission also carries two NASA experiments, including a material sample plate to determine the results of radiation and other space effects on various materials. Another NASA experiment will assess space effects on seeds used to grow food. Another experiment sponsored the Naval Research Laboratory will examine the ability to transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could be transmitted to the ground.

The Atlas V 501 rocket will use a five-meter-diameter payload fairing for this mission. The Atlas is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage is powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine. This will be the 84th launch of an Atlas V rocket and the seventh launch of the 501 configuration. The Atlas V 501 has been used exclusively for national security missions.

Satellite operator Intelsat files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Intelsat S.A., operator of the world’s largest and most advanced satellite fleet, announced Thursday that it has undertaken a financial restructuring to position the company for long-term success. The restructuring process is intended to enhance the company’s liquidity and will likely result in a substantial reduction of Intelsat’s legacy debt burden, allowing for Intelsat to emerge with a strengthened balance sheet to complement its strong operating model and future growth plans.

One of the primary catalysts for restructuring the balance sheet now is Intelsat’s desire to participate in the accelerated clearing of C-band spectrum under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order in support of a build-out of 5G wireless infrastructure in the United States. To meet the FCC’s accelerated clearing deadlines and ultimately be eligible to receive $4.87 billion of accelerated relocation payments, Intelsat needs to spend more than $1 billion on clearing activities. These clearing activities must start immediately, long before costs begin to be reimbursed. The company is also managing the economic slowdown impacting several of its end markets caused by the COVID-19 global health crisis.

“Our success has come despite being burdened in recent years by substantial legacy debt,” said Stephen Spengler, Chief Executive Officer of Intelsat. “Now is the time to change that. We intend to move forward with the accelerated clearing of C-band spectrum in the United States and to achieve a comprehensive solution that would result in a stronger balance sheet. This will position us to invest and pursue our strategic growth objectives, build on our strengths, and serve the mission-critical needs of our customers with additional resources and wind in our sails.”

To facilitate the financial restructuring, Intelsat and certain of its subsidiaries have filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division. Intelsat General, which serves the company’s U.S. commercial, government, and allied military customers, is not part of the Chapter 11 proceedings.

While it moves as quickly as possible through the restructuring process, Intelsat’s day-to-day operations, engagement with customers and partners, and capital investments will continue as usual.

Intelsat has secured a commitment for $1 billion of new financing. Subject to court approval, this debtor-in-possession financing, coupled with significant cash on hand and positive cash flow generated by the business, will provide ample liquidity during the restructuring process to support ongoing operations, fund the substantial upfront C-band clearing costs, and allow the company to continue investing in the innovations and services that customers need today and in the future.

The company is filing with the court a series of customary motions seeking to maintain business-as-usual operations and uphold its commitments to its stakeholders, including employees, customers, and vendors, during the restructuring process. Approval of these “first day” motions, which the company expects to receive in short order, will help facilitate a smooth transition into the process.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Pryer Aerospace to support New Glenn heavy-lift launch vehicle

Pryer Aerospace, a manufacturer of aerospace structural components and assemblies in Tulsa, Okla., announced Wednesday that it has signed a multi-year contract with Blue Origin, LLC, a privately-funded space company and manufacturer of reusable launch vehicles and engines. Under this contract, Pryer will provide large complex machined parts and leading edge structures for New Glenn, Blue Origin's massive heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle, designed to support national security space launch and commercial space missions for years to come.

"With this contract Pryer Aerospace solidifies a role for Oklahoma and our company in the space industry,” said Jeff Landreth, CEO of Pryer.

Navy C-26 maintenance contract awarded to Vertex Aerospace

Vertex Aerospace was awarded a Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) contract with the U.S. Navy's Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md. Vertex will provide full CLS maintenance support to Navy C-26 aircraft, to include aircraft maintenance, materials, avionics, engines, propellers, and ground support equipment.

The work will be performed at two U.S. locations and two international sites and is expected to be completed by 2025. Vertex has a long history of successful CLS maintenance support to Navy platforms, including the C-9, C-12, CH-53E, E-6B, T-34, T-44, T-45, TH-57, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft programs.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Boeing Dreamlifters land in South Carolina with personal protective equipment

Boeing completed another set of COVID-19 airlift missions on Monday, deploying three Dreamlifter aircraft to transport more than 150,000 protective eye goggles and face shields from China to the United States. Boeing worked in partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to deliver the personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health care professionals in the MUSC system.

Similar to previous airlift missions flown by the Dreamlifter – a converted Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter – the medical cargo was transported in the lower lobe of all three aircraft, while 787 component parts were flown in the main deck cargo hold. Boeing donated the cost of the mission transport, with Atlas Air operating the flights on behalf of Boeing. Boeing has scheduled additional flights, to deliver a total of 400,000 units of PPE to MUSC, in the near future.

“I want to thank all those who worked so hard to ensure this shipment of critical PPE is arriving in Charleston today,” said South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.