Monthly Archives: April 2011

SpaceX Wins NASA Contract to Complete Development of Successor to the Space Shuttle

NASA has awarded SpaceX $75 million to develop a revolutionary launch escape system that will enable the company’s Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. The Congressionally mandated award is part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) initiative that started in 2009 to help private companies mature concepts and technologies for human spaceflight.

“This award will accelerate our efforts to develop the next-generation rockets and spacecraft for human transportation,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer. “With NASA’s support, SpaceX will be ready to fly its first manned mission in 2014.”

Musk said the flight-proven Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft represent the safest and fastest path to American crew transportation capability. With their historic successful flight on December 8th, 2010, many Falcon 9 and Dragon components that are needed to transport humans to low-Earth orbit have already been demonstrated in flight. Both vehicles were designed from the outset to fly people.

The announcement comes at a time when the United States has a critical need for American commercial human spaceflight. After the Space Shuttle retires in a few months, NASA will be totally dependent on the Russian Soyuz to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) at a cost of more than $753 million a year — about $63 million per seat.

Musk said Dragon – designed to carry seven astronauts at a time to the space station at a cost of $20 million a seat – offers a far better deal for the U.S. taxpayer. While considerable flight testing remains, the critical-path technology Dragon needs for carrying humans to orbit is the launch escape system.

New Launch Abort System

SpaceX’s integrated escape system will be superior to traditional solid rocket tractor escape towers used by other vehicles in the past. Due to their extreme weight, tractor systems must be jettisoned within minutes of liftoff, but the SpaceX innovative design builds the escape engines into the side walls of Dragon, eliminating the danger of releasing a heavy solid rocket escape tower after launch.

The SpaceX design also provides crew with emergency escape capability throughout the entire flight, whereas the Space Shuttle has no escape system and even the Apollo moon program allowed escape only during the first few minutes of flight. The result is that astronauts flying on Dragon will be considerably safer.

Furthermore, the integrated escape system returns with the spacecraft, allowing for easy reuse and radical reductions in the cost of space transport. Over time, the same escape thrusters will also provide the capability for Dragon to land almost anywhere on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy, overcoming the limitation of a winged architecture that works only in Earth’s atmosphere.

Under the award, SpaceX will modify Dragon to accommodate crew, with specific hardware milestones that will provide NASA with regular, demonstrated progress including:

  • Static fire testing of the launch escape system engines
  • Initial design of abort engine and crew accommodations
  • Prototype evaluations by NASA crew for seats, control panels and cabin

The December 8th, 2010, demonstration flight of Falcon 9 and Dragon was the first flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which was initiated to develop commercial cargo services to the International Space Station. After the Space Shuttle retires, SpaceX will fly at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for NASA.

Attain Wins $240 Million Army AESIP Contract

Attain announced that it has won its largest prime contract to date to support the Army’s Enterprise Systems Integration Program (AESIP). The AESIP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Application Services (EAS) contract is an IDIQ, task order award with a ceiling value of up to $240 million.

The goal of AESIP is to create a single, integrated ERP system across the Department of the Army that brings together four of its ERP initiatives. The program aims to streamline components of the Army Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems’ (PEO EIS) $8 billion ERP landscape. It also aims to enable delivery of consistent business solutions across the Army through integrated data and applications services. With convergence, integration and knowledge transfer that enables more Government control of Army business solutions, the intended benefits of the AESIP program include maximized efficiency, increased system capabilities and functionality, and significantly reduced costs.

“We are pleased with the opportunity to once again support the U.S. Department of the Army and provide assistance with enhancing its services to its constituents,” said Greg Baroni, chairman and CEO of Attain. “Not only is AESIP Attain’s largest prime contract since inception in 2009, but it’s also a very strategic win that puts Attain at the center of the Army’s ERP convergence and integration efforts and at the heart of its business transformation and change management initiatives.”

As a prime contractor, Attain will work with Army personnel to provide business process automation; applications development; organizational transition; applications testing; operations, maintenance and sustainment, and knowledge transfer services. Under this contract Attain will also provide support to the Army’s ERP Center of Expertise (COE) at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, with the goal of enhancing the Department’s internal ERP capabilities. The five-year contract, effective April 15, 2011, includes a one-year base period and four one-year options.

“Attain’s selection as a prime contractor on the AESIP program is a testament to our technical expertise, not only in SAP applications development, data management and migration, and integration of complex end-to-end business processes, but also managing large-scale change management efforts,” said Richard Roberts, president of Attain Federal Services.

“With a legacy of ERP expertise that includes years of work on the Army Logistics Modernization Program (LMP)—one of the Army’s existing ERP systems—Attain’s professionals have a tremendous depth of customer knowledge and proven, first-hand experience delivering hundreds of acquisition, finance and logistics best practices in support of more than 20,000 Army users,” Roberts said.

Attain has assembled a skilled and accomplished team, including several small or small disadvantaged businesses, to address AESIP’s task orders. Attain’s subcontractors are Northrop Grumman, Optimal Solutions, Softek International, Data Blueprint, Sapiex, The Ahrens Consulting Group, Greshko Consulting, Accelerated Information Management, RWD, Teradata, and Worksoft. In addition to Attain, two other prime contractors also were selected under this multiple award contract.

Touch-Screen Attendant Control Panel for Airplane Cabin Upgrades

BAE Systems is now offering its new Attendant Control Panel touch-screen display system for cabin upgrades as an aftermarket retrofit solution for all commercial aircraft models. The modernized Attendant Control Panel, or ACP, makes work easier for flight attendants thanks to its intuitive, reconfigurable, touch-screen display that enables flexible, user-friendly control of a number of cabin systems functions on the airplane. Its modular design allows ease of customization for a wide variety of aircraft interiors.

“An airline can replace dated switch panel technology and control a number of cabin functions, including LED lighting, with our modern ACP,” said Dr. Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president of Commercial Avionics for BAE Systems. “By switching fluorescent lighting with LED lighting an in-service plane can achieve a cost-effective interior make-over, with more lighting options and less maintenance.”

Fluorescent lights are less reliable and more costly to maintain. LEDs (light emitting diodes) are brighter and require minimal power. With an estimated 40,000 hours between replacements, LEDs last 10 times longer than the previous standard of lights.

The ACP features a durable, FAA-certified design with intuitive controls, a color touch-screen display, and a variety of peripheral and network ports. Configurable to airline preferences, the panel controls a number of cabin system functions including dynamic “mood” lighting; environmental systems such as cabin climate control; in-flight entertainment; and assorted cabin attendant functions such as lavatory status, water and waste water tank levels, and smoke detector status. A key feature of the ACP is a laptop-based software tool that allows airline personnel to select colors and intensities from a color palette to create a custom lighting environment (lighting scenes) onboard the aircraft. The panel’s ability to capture system fault data also simplifies maintenance for airlines.

BAE Systems’ ACP is installed onboard all Next-Generation 737s equipped with the new passenger-inspired Boeing Sky Interior. A total of 46 airlines and leasing companies have ordered the 737 Boeing Sky Interior for more than 1,200 of their airplanes. Dubai-based flydubai was the first of five airlines to receive Next-Generation 737s with the new interior last year.

B/E Aerospace Wins Lufthansa Program – Initially Valued in Excess of $100 Million

B/E Aerospace announced that the Company has been selected by Lufthansa to outfit its new-buy A330 aircraft and to retrofit its current fleet of A330 and A340 aircraft with B/E Aerospace next generation business class seating. The awards are primarily for the retrofit of Lufthansa’s existing A330 and A340 aircraft and are initially valued in excess of $100 million.

B/E Aerospace will provide Lufthansa with jointly developed and customized business class seats designed to maximize passenger comfort and living space.

“We are honored to have been selected by Lufthansa for this award which further solidifies our partnership with one of the world’s largest and leading global airlines. Our patented business class seats will provide Lufthansa’s premium class passengers with outstanding comfort and functionality,” commented Amin J. Khoury, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of B/E Aerospace. “This award, combined with our previously announced $100 million award with Lufthansa to outfit its new wide-body B747-8 aircraft and to retrofit certain of its existing wide-body aircraft with B/E Aerospace Super First Class suites, further strengthens our position as the leading provider of premium class aircraft cabin interior products.”

GE Aviation Breaks Ground for New $51 Million Research & Development Center in Ohio’s Aerospace Hub

GE Aviation broke ground this past week on its new Electrical Power Integrated Systems Research and Development Center (EPISCENTER) on the University of Dayton campus in Dayton, Ohio. The $51 million center will be built on about eight acres on the University of Dayton’s campus on River Park Drive.

“GE’s new R & D center will be the southern anchor to the Ohio Aerospace Hub of Innovation and Opportunity,” said Lorraine Bolsinger, president and CEO of GE Aviation Systems. “This location and future facility will help all stakeholders in attracting high caliber engineering talent. The center will be a catalyst for new contracts and products resulting in job growth at the EPISCENTER and at GE locations such as Vandalia.”

The University is working with CityWide Development Corp. to build the facility to GE’s specifications. GE is finalizing a long-term lease agreement with the University of Dayton and CityWide. The 120,000 square foot facility is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2012 and operational by the end of 2012.

“Without a doubt, it’s extraordinary for a Fortune 100 corporation to build a multi-million-dollar research facility on a college campus in today’s economic climate,” said Daniel J. Curran, president of the University of Dayton. “Our researchers will work side by side with GE scientists and engineers to develop electrical power systems and technologies. The applications are numerous — from next-generation power systems for aircraft to longer-range electric cars. Even smarter utility power grids for more efficient delivery of electricity.”

The center’s close proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the University of Dayton Research Institute is important in order to provide significant new support to the Air Force Research Labs and the University of Dayton. The University’s researchers will work with GE to develop and deploy computer modeling, simulation and analysis of advanced, dynamic electric power systems design and controls.

The center will be directed at several markets including end-to-end electrical power starter/generation, conversion, distribution, and load technologies for civil and military aerospace applications.

In November 2010, GE announced it would build the EPISCENTER on the University of Dayton campus. The project was enabled by an Ohio Third Frontier capital grant for up to $7.6 million. While GE recognized the value of locating in the Aerospace Hub, making such a decision competitive with other options required significant collaboration between UD, GE, the City of Dayton, Montgomery County and CityWide Development Corporation. It also demonstrates the value of the Aerospace Hub in attracting jobs and providing a focus for economic development efforts.

The EPISCENTER will complement GE Aviation’s new Electrical Power Integrated Center (EPIC) located in Cheltenham, UK, which will be operational this year. Together, these two research centers will augment GE Aviation’s existing research and development capabilities, further enabling collaborative research and driving innovation.

BAE Systems to Provide Communications and Gun Systems for Austal-built U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ships

BAE Systems will provide the external communications and primary gun systems for the 10 U.S. Navy Independence variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) to be built by an Austal USA-led team. BAE Systems is a subcontractor to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems for external communications and a supplier to General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products for the gun systems. The LCS fleet will be a new generation of high-speed Navy warships designed to carry out a range of operations in shallow waters close to shore.

Communications Systems: As an industry leader in systems development and integration, BAE Systems will design, install, integrate and test various communications systems for the 10 ships. These include radio and antenna systems, baseband switching systems and associated cabinets, and other types of specialized equipment and hardware.

The company will support the Austal-led team on this work as a subcontractor to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. Earlier this year, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems was awarded a contract from Austal to be the Platform Systems Engineering Agent for the ships. Since 2004, BAE Systems has been a major partner with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems for communications systems on the first two Littoral Combat Ships: the USS Independence (LCS 2) and Coronado (LCS 4).

“This is a great opportunity to continue our LCS partnership with General Dynamics,” said Richard Anderson, vice president and general manager of integrated technical solutions at BAE Systems. “These critical communications systems will support the U.S. Navy and its mission for years to come.”

This work will be conducted at BAE Systems’ facility in California, Maryland and at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.

Gun Systems: As the country’s leading producer of naval guns, BAE Systems will provide the 10 Austal LCS with 57-millimeter Mk 110 gun systems. The 57-mm gun provides the Navy with a new level of versatility against an ever-expanding range of threats, matching the multi-mission requirements of the LCS program. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems along with General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products will install and integrate the gun systems.

“By leveraging technologies from around the world, we’ve created the most advanced weapons system of its kind,” said Mike Smith, managing director of weapons programs for BAE Systems. “We look forward to being part of the dynamic LCS program and furnishing the ships with the absolute best in naval gun technology.”

The 6-mode 57-mm Mk 295 programmable, pre-fragmented and proximity-fused (3P) ammunition allows the system to perform against an aerial, surface or ground threat without requiring multiple round types. Sailors can switch from warning to live fire to engage a target in seconds, and the servo-controlled electro hydraulic gun laying subsystems provide robust endurance and extreme pointing accuracy, even in high sea-state conditions.

This work will be conducted at BAE Systems’ facilities in Louisville, Kentucky, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in Karlskoga, Sweden. Production of the gun systems is expected to run through calendar year 2017.

BAE Systems announced in January that it will also build and install the primary gun systems on 10 Lockheed Martin-built Littoral Combat Ships.

U.S. Army Intelligence Task Order

ManTech announced that it received a task order under its Strategic Services Sourcing (S3) prime contract to provide software engineering services to the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Software Engineering Center’s Guardrail systems. The award is valued at $22.6 million, with an initial period of performance of 12 months plus one additional option year.

Under the contract, ManTech will provide software engineering services, including software analysis, software development, technology insertion and field software support. ManTech will also provide configuration management services and management support for tracking, analysis and corrective actions.

The Guardrail family of systems includes remotely controlled, airborne intelligence-collection and location systems with ground-based processing, analysis and reporting capabilities.

“The Guardrail systems are an important part of the Army’s overall intelligence collection effort,” said Louis M. Addeo, president and chief operating officer of ManTech’s Technical Services Group. “ManTech’s in-depth understanding of the collection environment coupled with our extensive software engineering experience will provide a positive contribution to Guardrail development, implementation and maintenance.”

U.S. Army Selects AAI’s Man-Portable Aircraft Survivability Trainer

AAI Test & Training, an operating unit of Textron Systems, announced that its Man-Portable Aircraft Survivability Trainer (MAST) has been selected by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, or PEO STRI, under a task order from the Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Omnibus Contract II. Valued at $10.6 million, the initial order includes design, development, production and testing of nine first article systems and 41 production systems. Including four option years, the contract has a total potential for 300 systems at a value of $43 million.

AAI’s MAST utilizes a light-emitting diode ultraviolet emitter threat simulator to replicate significant launch characteristics associated with an infrared Man-Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS), training aircrews on how to react to surface-to-air missile (SAM) threats during live training exercises.

The MAST is interoperable with the AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System and AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System, resulting in a threat declaration in the aircraft cockpit. It can simulate a SAM engagement sequence including seeker lock and break lock capability based on environmental and situational conditions. In addition, AAI’s MAST can record SAM engagements during live training exercises. These visual or infrared recorded engagements are used for preparing after-action reviews and debriefing aircrews. The MAST system also is interoperable with aircraft instrumentation systems such as the Multiple Integrated Laser System and the AH-64D Longbow Apache® Tactical Engagement Simulation System. This enables force-on-force and force-on-target training at Maneuver Combat Training Centers and aviation unit home stations.

“AAI’s MAST takes full advantage of the company’s proven experience in aircraft survivability equipment training, flight line testing and long-range electro-optic/infrared test and training solutions,” says Senior Vice President and General Manager of AAI Test & Training Robert Peters. “The MAST meets customer requirements for a threat-representative, realistic MANPADS live training device on the ground that will challenge aircrews and support tactics, techniques and procedures training prior to deployment.”

AAI leads an experienced team for the MAST including Inter-Coastal Electronics of Mesa, Ariz., as well as AAI’s indirect wholly owned subsidiary ESL Defence Limited of Hamble, England.

SpaceX Announces Launch Date for the World’s Most Powerful Rocket

We have some exciting SpaceX news for your Monday morning! Elon Musk, CEO and chief rocket designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), unveiled the dramatic final specifications and launch date for the Falcon Heavy, the world’s largest rocket. “Falcon Heavy will carry more payload to orbit or escape velocity than any vehicle in history, apart from the Saturn V moon rocket, which was decommissioned after the Apollo program. This opens a new world of capability for both government and commercial space missions,” Musk told a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

“Falcon Heavy will arrive at our Vandenberg, California, launch complex by the end of next year, with liftoff to follow soon thereafter. First launch from our Cape Canaveral launch complex is planned for late 2013 or 2014.”

Musk added that with the ability to carry satellites or interplanetary spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons or 117,000 pounds to orbit, Falcon Heavy will have more than twice the performance of the Delta IV Heavy, the next most powerful vehicle, which is operated by United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture.

53 metric tons is more than the maximum take-off weight of a fully-loaded Boeing 737-200 with 136 passengers. In other words, Falcon Heavy can deliver the equivalent of an entire commercial airplane full of passengers, crew, luggage and fuel all the way to orbit.

View the launch simulation video at:

iRobot to Deliver More Small Unmanned Ground Vehicles (SUGVs) to the U.S. Army

iRobot announced that the U.S. Army plans to procure two additional low-rate initial production brigade sets of model 320 SUGVs. The Defense Acquisition Board formalized its approval to purchase additional SUGVs under the Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM) program in February. It allows for the delivery of 76 total SUGVs for two additional infantry brigade sets. iRobot has already delivered 45 SUGVs as part of the Army’s low-rate initial production contract for the first brigade set of BCTM Increment 1 capabilities.

iRobot also continues to develop the follow-on variant of the SUGV for the BCTM program. This SUGV variant will provide enhanced processing, sensor and communication capabilities and is expected to be available in the 2012 timeframe.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Army has announced its intent to procure two more brigade sets of SUGV,” said Robert Moses, president of iRobot’s Government and Industrial Robots division. “It’s a testament to the positive feedback we have received about SUGV since being fielded. These robots are meeting Army requirements and performing as expected on the battlefield.”

iRobot and Boeing teamed to develop the SUGV, a smaller and lighter version of the combat-proven PackBot. It gives warfighters real-time awareness of critical situations and allows them to complete dangerous missions from safe standoff distances.