Huntsville Officially 1 of 6 contenders for Space Command Headquarters

What are the chances of Huntsville being selected by the Air Force to host the U.S. Space Command Headquarters? Well the odds just got a lot better.

The Redstone Region has been selected as one of six final contenders for the honor and with Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal’s distinguished space and military legacy, state and local leaders think we are in a strong position to make it happen!

The other five sites are Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado and Port San Antonio in Texas.

We are the Rocket City!

“The Redstone region provides an unparalleled workforce for the U.S. Space Command with capabilities that include missile defense, aerospace, and intelligence,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “We have the infrastructure capacity, community support, low cost of doing business and high-quality expertise to serve as the headquarters for USSPACECOM. When you analyze all the variables, Huntsville is the clear choice for this vitally important unified combatant command.”

Air Force officials have said previously it could take some six years to build the facilities necessary to house U.S. Space Command, once a location is chosen.

Redstone Arsenal already provides all the assets necessary such as military housing, health care, child care, commissary, and personnel and logistics support to assure the U.S. Space Command. 

The region boasts a well-established business, government, and community support ecosystem with a proven record of success in the space industry.

Redstone Arsenal isn’t simply a military installation. It is a federal R&D campus with more than 70 entities including NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Forces Command headquarters; the Army Materiel Command; the Program Executive Offices for Army Aviation and Missiles & Space; Foreign Military Sales; the majority of the Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency operations; and a wide portfolio of specialized R&D capabilities addressing all aspects of space, missile and missile defense endeavors.

Not to mention, the FBI will have a 4,000-agent presence at a massive campus on the arsenal. This area received a ringing endorsement from David Schlendorf, the FBI’s associate executive assistant director.

“The northern Alabama area and Redstone Arsenal, in particular, offer numerous advantages to the FBI: Secure locations to conduct investigative and administrative operations, lower overall business costs, ample opportunities to leverage existing science and technology expertise and capabilities, proximity to leading universities and colleges and a favorable quality of life for our employees,” he said in the annual Redstone Update presentation recently.

The “Redstone Region” boasts the highest per capita concentration of engineering workforce in the nation. The universities offer research resources specifically tailored to address the most challenging problems facing both our military and other technology-centric agencies. 

Huntsville’s world-class aerospace/defense cluster consists of 400 aerospace/defense companies; 80,000 employees in aerospace/defense; the nation’s second largest research park in Cummings Research Park; and more than 30 of the top 40 U.S. defense companies. 

Local governments are investing in our success, including $360 million for roads and greenways, plus fiber to the home, retail and dining growth, residential and commercial development, and strategic investments in cyber, geospatial, energy, and biotech.

Furthermore, a cohesive congressional delegation of representatives in the greater North Alabama and South Central Tennessee is well-positioned to support growth, especially on the Appropriations and Armed Services committees.

And as if we need more compelling reasons to take the mantle, we have energy costs nine percent lower than the U.S. average thanks to TVA, and state and local taxes that are 33 percent lower than the U.S. average. Overall, Huntsville’s metro is a low-cost, high-value leader in the space industry with a cost of living 6.6 percent below the U.S. average. 

Battle put it simply: “When you analyze all the variables, Huntsville is the clear choice for this vitally important unified combatant command.”

Stellar Group Named to Advisory Board for Drake State Space Construction Research Program

A nine-member advisory board has been named to oversee Drake State Community  & Technical College’s new Frontiers Research Program.

The Frontiers Research  Program was established after Drake State was selected by NASA’s Marshall Space  Flight Center as a partner to develop 3D printing technologies to support the Artemis  mission

The Frontiers Advisory Board, made up of technical experts, NASA officials and  community leaders will provide guidance to the research team throughout the year long project. 

“NASA is calling on us to help develop construction techniques suitable for use on the  moon,” said Dr. Pat Sims, president of Drake State Community & Technical College. “Our advisory board has the expertise to help guide our efforts as we complete this  significant work.” 

In addition to the advisory board, the Frontiers Research team will be supported by  representatives from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and ICON, a construction technologies company leading the 3D space construction research efforts for NASA. 

Drake State is the first community college and only Historically Black community college to receive a cooperative agreement award from Marshall’s CAN opportunity since its inception in 2013.

The Frontiers Research Program team – which consists of students, instructors and administrators from the college’s Engineering Design program  – will test 3D-printed concrete structures to help develop construction techniques for building landing pads, roads, and other large structures on the Moon. 

Frontiers Research Program Advisory Board Members 

Joe Fitzgerald – Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Alabama 

Jeff Haars – Vice President and Deputy Program Manager, Jacobs Space Exploration

Laura Hall – State Representative (D) District 19 

Larry Lewis – Cofounder and President, PROJECTTXYZ, Inc. 

John Mankins – President, Artemis Innovation Management Systems 

John Meredith – President Pro Tem, District 5, Huntsville City Council 

Raymond Pierce – President and CEO, Southern Education Foundation 

Ritchie Whorton – State Representative (R) District 22 

Lisa Williams – Cofounder and President, 3D Research Corp.

Huntsville Companies Among Fortune Best Small & Medium Workplaces

Playing on a national stage, three Huntsville-based business have landed on Fortune’s Top 100 Best Small & Medium Workplaces 2020 in the country.

All three companies – Intuitive Research and Technology Corp., PeopleTec and Canvas – were recognized by Fortune magazine as top performing companies. To be eligible for the ranking, they must also be Great Places to Work-Certified companies, meaning at least 70 percent of the companies’ employees report a consistently positive experience working at their company.

Earning a spot of the list is based on confidential survey feedback representing more than 189,000 employees working at small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the United States.

Intuitive, an aerospace engineering and analysis firm in Cummings Research Park, is ranked the highest on the list at No. 5. Ninety-eight percent of Intuitive’s employees say it is a great place to work, compared to 59 percent of employees at a typical U.S.-based company.

“It is a true testament to the Intuitive culture and our employees that we have been honored as Best Workplace in the Nation nine years in a row, all nine years in the top five,” said Intuitive President Vergenia Shelton. “Receiving this honor reflects what is most important to Intuitive … Our employees are the driving force to our success, which is why we invest so heavily in our people. It has always been our priority to provide a workplace where employees are proud of where they work and excited about what they do.”

Also in Cummings Research Park, PeopleTec. is ranked No. 9. The employee-owned small business got its start in Huntsville in 2005 to help provide and retain a highly skilled workforce throughout the area. The No. 9 ranking came with a 98 percent employee satisfaction rate.

“Our unique culture and our commitment to the Warfighter creates a second home for our employee-owners, where trust is high, and everyone feels welcome,” PeopleTec CEO Terry Jennings said.

Coming in at No. 35, Canvas provides services and technical solutions for federal and commercial customers. The company finished with the highest positive employee rating from among the three at 99 percent.

“Canvas is proud to be recognized by our employees for creating one of the best small business workplaces,” said CEO Jami Peyton. “Our high-trust culture has not only helped us navigate a challenging 2020, but also continued to propel Canvas forward in the best way possible. We simply couldn’t be a Best Small Workplace or Great Place to Work without our incredible employees.”

Great Place to Work is a global people analytics and company culture research firm. Certification is based on responses to employee questionnaires based on the extent to which employees trust leaders; the respect with which people are treated; the fairness of workplace decisions; and how much camaraderie there is among the team.

Drake State to Partner with Marshall Space Fight Center in Historic Agreement

Drake State Community & Technical College is shooting for the Moon and has set a historic precedent on the way.

Marshall Space Flight Center selected Drake State as a partner to develop 3D printing technologies that will help prepare for sustainable Artemis operations on the Moon by the end of the decade and for future human missions to Mars. 

With the selection, Drake State becomes the first community college and only Historically Black Community College to receive a cooperative agreement award from Marshall’s Cooperative Agreement Notice program since its inception in 2013.

“Being Huntsville’s community college, we’re especially proud to have received this CAN award,” said Dr. Patricia Sims, President of Drake State Community & Technical College. “We’ve  been a part of the Rocket City since 1961. The opportunity to support NASA with our research  project is truly exciting.”

Drake State submitted a proposal to Marshall’s seventh competitive CAN for Dual-Use Technology Development solicitation. The award will fund collaborative research in support of NASA’s Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction  Technologies project. This project aims to develop, deliver, and demonstrate capabilities to protect astronauts and create infrastructure on the lunar surface via construction of landing pads, habitats, shelters, roadways, berms and blast shields using lunar regolith-based materials. 

The research team consists of students, instructors and administrators from the college’s  Engineering Design program. It will test 3D printed concrete structures to help develop  construction techniques suitable for building landing pads, roads, and other large structures on the Moon. 

The one-year research project is funded through NASA’s Minority University Research and  Education Project. The research team will collaborate with ICON, an innovative 3D printing construction company in Austin, Texas. ICON is working with NASA on early research  and development of a space-based construction system that could support exploration of the Moon and Mars.

“Our team will use 3D printing technology to build concrete structures, conduct destructive and  non-destructive testing, and collect and analyze data on the material that ICON produces,” said Robert Grissim, Director of Workforce Development at Drake State Community & Technical  College and Principle Investigator. 

Additionally, instructors in the Engineering Design program will develop curriculum related to the research project and add the specialty classes to the College’s course catalog. 

“Our goal is to continue to support the Artemis mission and NASA after our research project is completed,” said Dr. Carolyn Henderson, Dean of Instruction at Drake State Community &  Technical College. “Training our students to work in space-based construction technology will create a pipeline to a workforce skilled in this highly-specialized field.” 

 

Dynetics Unveils Lunar Lander Module Mockup

Dynetics recently unveiled a test version of its full-scale lunar lander that the company hopes will take people to the moon.

The Dynetics test article will be used for initial evaluations for NASA’s Artemis program,, Dynetics said in a statement. The Dynetics team will use the test article for analysis, crew module accommodations, placement and orientation of various components and overall habitability.

The mockup includes the crew module, autonomous logistics platform for all-moon cargo access, ascent and descent propellant tanks and deployable solar arrays. This low-slung design could allow for easier and safer access to the lunar surface.

The full-scale lunar landing system mockup will be used for testing for NASA’s Artemis program. (Dynetics Photo)

“Our team is pleased to bring this system to life,” Kim Doering, Dynetics Vice President of Space Systems, said in a statement. “Our reusable, sustainable approach is ready to support a safe and successful hardware delivery for NASA’s mission.”

The focus of the test article rests on crew interfaces, enabling the team to test crew activities within the module. The flexible design is readily reconfigurable, allowing the human systems integration team and flight crew to review and provide feedback on early concept designs and execute quick-turn iterations.

The test article was constructed just three months after the start of the contract and was built and delivered in collaboration with LSINC, a Huntsville-based subcontractor.

Huntsville-based Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, is competing with  is one of three prime contractors selected to design a lander for the NASA’s Artemis Human Landing System Program managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Dynetics; SpaceX; and The National Team, led by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, were awarded contracts in April totalling $967 million to build the landing systems.

 

Boeing Awarded $249M Modified Contract for Huntsville-Managed Missile Program

Boeing of Huntsville has been awarded a $249 million contract modification for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System.

Huntsville is the headquarters for Boeing’s Missile and Weapon Systems division and the company employs more than 3,000 people across the state. As prime contractor, Boeing designs, produces, integrates, tests and sustains all GMD components deployed across 15 time zones.

The contract modification work includes development, fielding, test, systems engineering, integration and configuration management, equipment manufacturing and refurbishment, training and operations and sustainment for the system and its support facilities. Work will be performed in Huntsville; Tucson and Chandler, Ariz.

The GMD system is the nation’s only operationally deployed missile defense program capable of defending the entire United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) against long-range ballistic missile attacks.

 

 

Year-to-Date: Huntsville Area has Seen More Than $1 Billion in New Capital Investment and 850 New Jobs

Did someone say there is an economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Well, the facts on the ground do not bear that out here, according to the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. 

“With COVID-19, this has certainly been a challenging year, but in spite of all that is happening, Huntsville still continues to see job growth in all parts of our City,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “Whether it’s Torch Technologies in South Huntsville, Dynetics in Cummings Research Park, or TriRx in Chase Industrial Park, there are buildings going up and sites being delivered.

“When you combine that with the ongoing work at North Huntsville Industrial Park with Facebook and Toyota and the numerous projects at Mazda Toyota, it’s a remarkable statement to the resiliency of the Huntsville market and its industries.”

Year-to-date economic growth figures show the Huntsville metropolitan region has accrued more than $1 billion in capital investments from new commercial projects, company expansions, and from companies that have increased the scope of previously announced projects in 2020. That growth will also result in 852 new jobs across the region.

“Throughout 2020, Madison County and Huntsville have continued the work in bringing new and innovative business and industry to our community while also supporting expansions among our industry partners,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong. “Our diverse economy continues to be robust year after year. With a focus on workforce development the future of the Rocket City and Redstone Arsenal will continue to drive the economy of Alabama and southern Tennessee.”

The bulk of the growth will come from four large Huntsville company projects and four smaller, but significant, projects this year. However, due to coronavirus restrictions limiting celebratory groundbreakings, grand openings and open house events, many of these projects have been operating under the public radar.

“We want to celebrate every expansion, but this year, it has been challenging to do that in a safe way,” said Lucia Cape, the Chamber’s senior vice president of economic development. “These companies are important to our community and to the people they employ, and we want to recognize their growth.” 

Rendering shows the Freedom-Torch-Invariant facility from the south parking lot.

Torch Technologies leads with $32.3 million in investment on two recent expansion projects that will bring 120 new jobs to Huntsville. 

First announced in April 2018, Torch has completed its Technology Integration and Prototyping Center (TIPC) with two-story office space and an attached 10,000-square-foot high-bay facility at the corner of Chris Drive and Vermont Road in South Huntsville. Constructed by its sister company, Freedom Real Estate & Capital, the center includes a 35,000 square-foot lab and solutions facility.

According to board member and Torch President & CEO John Watson the new facility will allow Torch to take on projects of greater complexity.

“These projects will range from developing instruments that will completely change how warhead testing is accomplished, to re-engineering products that protect our nation,” Watson said.

The second Torch expansion is part of a partnership with the Invariant, a Huntsville-based engineering services and software development company founded in 2001. 

Invariant President David Anderson: “We have been neighbors with Freedom Real Estate and Torch Technologies for several years and look forward to continuing those relationships.” (Rendering/Invariant)

Invariant is investing $430,000 in a 92,000 square-foot facility as part of a mixed-use facility being built by Freedom in South Huntsville. 

The facility will consist of office, research, development, and manufacturing space. They quietly broke ground in May and expect the facility to be complete by next summer. Invariant’s growth will produce 23 new jobs.

“We are excited to grow and expand into this new facility that will provide our employees the resources needed to ensure quality services and products are delivered to our customers,” said Invariant President David Anderson. “We are proud to be a part of Huntsville’s continuing success. We have been neighbors with Freedom Real Estate and Torch Technologies for several years and look forward to continuing those relationships.”

Japan-based freight and logistics provider Nippon Express USA will invest $19.1 million in its location on the campus of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A. over the next two years. They expect to hire more than 100 employees over that period.

After being acquired by Leidos in January, Dynetics will add up to 200 jobs associated with weapon development work, and has hired hundreds of people this year in support of the Human Landing System and other projects. The expansion brings the company’s local employment to 2,740. 

Those four expansions represent a total of 510 new jobs and $71 million in investment.

Four more companies, Aldez, TriRx Pharmaceuticals, Palco Telecommunications and Ridgeview Industries have also significantly expanded in Huntsville.

Aldez is an inventory management and distribution company and has a new facility near the sprawling Mazda Toyota Manufacturing facility. (Photo/Aldez)

Aldez is an inventory management and distribution company with a focus on the automotive industry. Its operations in the SouthPoint Business Park, a couple of miles from the Mazda Toyota plant, will provide maintenance, repair and operations crib management and distribution center services for the MTMUS facility.

“This new, state-of-the-art facility is a strategic move that will allow us to serve MTMUS manufacturing’s newest automotive facility in Huntsville, Limestone County, and enable further growth with their supplier base,” said Aldez COO Mike Byrne. 

“These economic development projects have changed the future of our county by their investments and job creation,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly. “The opportunities provided to our community through these projects will have a lasting impact for years to come.”

TriRx Pharmaceutical Services celebrated its one-year anniversary in Huntsville in May. According to Timothy C. Tyson, chairman and CEO, the Huntsville Liquids, Creams and Ointments Facility has grown from a small number of employees to more than 250 people as of June. 

“We would like to thank our employees, our customers, and our community for their amazing support,” said Tyson. “We continue to be focused on and dedicated to the patients we serve. This has been an exciting year accented by growth with a passion for delivering on our commitment to our customers. And we have just begun.”

Palco Telecommunications, a post-sales supply chain management company started in Huntsville in 1986; and Ridgeview Industries, Inc., a metal stamping and welded assemblies’ manufacturer for automotive OEM, have also among the announced expansions in Huntsville.

“It is exciting to see these quality organizations continuing to grow, building off of their previous successes and adding even more jobs in our community,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “I am excited about the opportunities these companies bring for our region as we continue to grow together.” 

SAIC Adds Innovation Factory Hub in Huntsville

SAIC is adding an Innovation Factory Hub to its Huntsville site, expanding its presence and support to local customers. This marks the latest expansion of SAIC’s Innovation Factory network where the Department of Defense and other federal government agencies can evaluate new technologies and accelerate delivery of new and modernized systems.

SAIC’s Innovation Factory is a nationwide network of physical and virtual environments using a highly automated, cloud-hosted toolset; agile practices; and DevSecOps production chains to rapidly build, test, and deploy first iterations of solutions quickly and then enhance them quickly through close customer collaboration. Innovation Factory hubs connect SAIC’s innovators and toolsets, startups/tech companies, and the customer. 

The Huntsville Innovation Factory Hub will be integrated into SAIC’s Innovation Factory network and showcase uniquely focused technologies enabling end-to-end analysis, experimentation and engineering focused on digital engineering with modeling and simulation and rapid prototyping capabilities.

 

“As we have witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement for true digital transformation has never been greater. This expansion to SAIC’s longstanding presence in Huntsville with a new Innovation Factory Hub allows us to support emerging needs, while also leveraging our solutions and company-wide expertise – developed over four decades supporting local customers,” said Jim Scanlon, SAIC executive vice president and general manager of the Defense Systems Group. “With all sectors rapidly implementing technology to meet and conduct business virtually, our new Innovation Factory Hub will enable our Huntsville-area customers to accelerate solutions to meet their mission requirements.”

With more than 2,800 employees, SAIC’s Huntsville office is the company’s largest single location outside of its Reston, Va., headquarters and the Washington, D.C., region.

In addition to supporting local customers, the Huntsville Innovation Factory Hub will advance innovation for the entire community and be able to integrate solutions from SAIC’s local small and large business partners.

“The Huntsville Innovation Factory Hub is focused on driving Defense modernization initiatives while addressing the technical challenges associated with DOD multi-domain operations and force modernization initiatives,” said SAIC Chief Technology Officer Charles Onstott. “Our researchers and engineers will leverage digital engineering and agile software development to enable the DOD to rapidly explore and implement innovative technologies, such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and modeling and simulation, focused on improving mission outcomes.” 

The Huntsville Innovation Factory Hub will open in a phased approach. Phase 1 is an immediate fielding of Innovation Factory cloud-based process and tools focused on app and IT modernization, and teams will use existing conference spaces until hub spaces are ready.  Follow-on phases will leverage “workplace of the future” renovations in SAIC’s Odyssey Drive facility, and incorporate digital engineering, data analytics and modeling and simulation cloud-based tools. Completion of hub spaces is targeted for next spring.

The Innovation Factory relies on robust ecosystems of advanced technology partner companies, including startups and commercial partners, and federal government customers seeking new technologies.

Teledyne Brown Completes Major Hardware for NASA’s Artemis Rocket

One of the largest pieces of hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System left Marshall Space Flight Center recently to begin its voyage to Kennedy Space Center in the coming weeks.

Teledyne Brown Engineering, the prime contractor on the project with several small business partners, designed and built the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter. LVSA provides the fundamental structural strength required to withstand the launch loads and the maximum dynamic pressure.

It also provides the critical separation system used to separate the core stage of the rocket from the second stage, which includes the astronauts in the Orion crew vehicle. The cone-shaped adapter is roughly 30 feet in diameter by 30 feet tall and consists of 16 aluminum-lithium alloy panels.

“LVSA is not only a significant achievement for our company, but it is monumental for Marshall Space Flight Center and the Huntsville Community,” said Jan Hess, president of Teledyne Brown Engineering.  “It’s the largest hardware to be completed for the SLS in Huntsville.

“Our company was an integral part of the country’s first rocket programs with Werner Von Braun, and we continue our legacy and support of space programs with this successful hardware completion for the latest Space Launch System.”

LVSA will be moved by barge to Kennedy Space Center where it will join the rocket’s Core Stage to the ICPS and Upper Stage.  It will be incorporated into the final configuration of the SLS for the first Artemis lunar mission.

The SLS is the only rocket able to send the Orion capsule, cargo and astronauts to the Moon in a combined mission.

The Artemis Mission, including this hardware, will be a part of the first moon landing since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Teledyne is building an LVSA for the second Artemis lunar mission and starting work on the LVSA for the Artemis III mission, which will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.

With $915M Contract Extension, Boeing to Support International Space Station Through 2024

Boeing, NASA’s lead industry partner for the International Space Station (ISS) since 1993, will continue supporting the orbiting laboratory through 2024 under a $915 million contract extension.

This award comes as the world marks 20 years of constant human habitation on the ISS — a record no other crewed spacecraft has come close to achieving.

“As the International Space Station marks its 20th year of human habitation, Boeing continues to enhance the utility and livability of the orbiting lab we built for NASA decades ago,” said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and program manager for the International Space Station. “We thank NASA for their confidence in our team and the opportunity to support the agency’s vital work in spaceflight and deep-space exploration for the benefit of all humankind.”

Boeing employees in Huntsville work closely with NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center and perform sustaining engineering and advanced studies, providing technology advancements, including engineering and manufacturing support for the ISS.

An international crew of six astronauts work and live on the ISS while traveling at the speed of 5 miles per second, orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes. More than 240 people from 19 countries have visited the ISS and conducted almost 3,000 experiments onboard.

Boeing in Huntsville supports additional NASA programs including the Space Launch System, the world’s most powerful rocket, and Starliner commercial crew capsule.