Posts

Former NASA Acting Administrator, MSFC Director Robert Lightfoot Joins Lockheed Martin

Robert Lightfoot, a longtime NASA executive who served as both the agency’s acting administrator and highest-ranking civil servant, will join Lockheed Martin Space as vice president, Strategy and Business Development, effective May 6.

Robert Lightfoot

In his new role, Lightfoot will lead strategic planning, advanced technology concepts, and new business strategy for the corporation’s Space business area.

The business area programs include GPS, missile warning and communications satellites for the Department of Defense; human and robotic exploration systems for NASA; weather and commercial communications satellites, and strategic missile and missile defense systems.

Lightfoot retired from NASA in April 2018 and has served as president of LSINC in Huntsville for the past year.

“Robert is a universally-respected leader with an exceptional understanding of space technology, operations and strategy,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “Robert’s insights and expertise will be crucial to the continued transformation of our space portfolio as we embrace new technologies and new business models.

“He will shape and drive a strategy that will help us deliver the breakthrough innovations and capabilities our customers need as we enter a new space age.”

During his career at NASA, Lightfoot served in several critical leadership roles to support space operations, exploration and science missions including director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and director of Propulsion Test at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

He also focused on strategies for key missions including the shuttle’s return to flight following the Columbia tragedy, then initial transition and retirement efforts for shuttle infrastructure.

Lightfoot retired from NASA in April 2018 and has served as president of LSINC Corporation in Huntsville

NASA, Blue Origin Agreement Signals Rocketing Growth of Commercial Space

Officials from NASA and Blue Origin have signed an agreement that grants the company use of a historic test stand as the agency focuses on returning to the Moon and on to Mars, and America’s commercial space industry continues to grow, according to a statement Wednesday from the space agency.

Under a Commercial Space Launch Act agreement, Blue Origin will upgrade and refurbish Test Stand 4670 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville to test its BE-3U and BE-4 rocket engines. The BE-4 engine was selected to power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket and Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch vehicle – both being developed to serve the expanding civil, commercial and national security space markets.

“This test stand once helped power NASA’s first launches to the Moon, which eventually led to the emergence of an entirely new economic sector – commercial space,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. “Now, it will have a role in our ongoing commitment to facilitate growth in this sector.” 

Constructed in 1965, Test Stand 4670 served as the backbone for Saturn V propulsion testing for the Apollo program, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It was modified to support testing of the space shuttle external tank and main engine systems. The facility has been inactive since 1998. 

“We’re excited to welcome Blue Origin to our growing universe of commercial partners,” said Marshall Center Director Jody Singer. “This agreement ensures the test stand will be used for the purpose it was built.”

NASA identified the 300-foot-tall, vertical firing test stand at Marshall as an underutilized facility and posted a notice of availability in 2017 to gauge commercial interest in its use. Blue Origin responded and a team was commissioned to begin exploring the proposed partnership. 

“I am thrilled about this partnership with NASA to acceptance test both BE-4 and BE-3U engines at Test Stand 4670, the historic site for testing the Saturn V first stage and the space shuttle main engines,” said Bob Smith, chief executive officer of Blue Origin. “Through this agreement, we’ll provide for the refurbishment, restoration and modernization of this piece of American history – and bring the sounds of rocket engines firing back to Huntsville.”

Under the agreement, Blue Origin will pay for the investments it makes to prepare the test stand for use, as well as any direct costs NASA incurs as a result of Blue Origin use of the stand, maximizing the value derived from taxpayer investment in government facilities.

Blue Origin will manufacture the engines at its new facility under construction in Cummings Research Park.

Auburn Receives $5.2M NASA Contract to Improve Liquid Rocket Engine Performance

AUBURN — NASA has awarded a $5.2 million contract to Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence, it was announced Monday.

The three-year contract is to develop additive manufacturing processes and techniques for improving the performance of liquid rocket engines. The contract is the latest expansion of a longstanding public-private partnership between Auburn and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

“For decades, Auburn engineers have been instrumental in helping the U.S. achieve its space exploration goals,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “This new collaboration between NASA and our additive manufacturing researchers will play a major role in developing advanced rocket engines that will drive long-duration spaceflight, helping our nation achieve its bold vision for the future of space exploration.”

The research and development covered under the new contract is part of NASA’s Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (RAMPT) project, which focuses on evolving lightweight, large-scale novel and additive manufacturing techniques for the development and manufacturing of regeneratively cooled thrust chamber assemblies for liquid rocket engines.

“This partnership with Auburn University and industry will help develop improvements for liquid rocket engines, as well as contribute to commercial opportunities,” said Paul McConnaughey, deputy director of Marshall Space Flight Center. “The technologies developed by this team will be made available widely to the private sector, offering more companies the opportunity to use these advanced manufacturing techniques.”

NCAME will support the RAMPT project in creating a domestic supply chain and developing specialized manufacturing technology vendors to be utilized by all government agencies, academic institutions and commercial space companies.

Auburn and NASA established NCAME in 2017 to improve the performance of parts that are created using additive manufacturing, share research results with industry and government collaborators and respond to workforce development needs in the additive manufacturing industry. The center is also one of the founding partners of the newly established ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence at Auburn.

Leading Auburn’s team as principal investigator for the RAMPT project is Nima Shamsaei, NCAME director. Serving as project manager is Mike Ogles, director of NASA programs in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

“This contract is a giant leap towards making Alabama the ‘go to state’ for additive manufacturing,” Ogles said. “We look forward to growing our partnership with NASA, industry and academia as we support the development of our nation’s next rocket engines.”

CFD Research Awarded $24M NASA Contract

CFD Research has been awarded a small business prime contract for the Vertical Lift Technology Development program at NASA Ames Research Center. It is the company’s first major service prime NASA contract.

The five-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract has a ceiling value of $24 million.

CFD Research and its team of subcontractors will provide aeronautical engineering, research, and development for vertical lift technology development. Air traffic management development is also included to assess and integrate new operating procedures for efficiency and safety.

“The VLTD award marks a major milestone for CFD Research on two key fronts: it is our first major service prime contract for NASA and our first major service prime contract outside of Huntsville,” said COO/Vice President Steve Cayson. “It emphasizes our strategic goal to leverage our core research and development capabilities into on-site support for government customers.”

Huntsville-based CFD Research was founded in 1987 and provides work for government and commercial customers.

“CFD Research is honored to be selected for this highly competitive award and looks forward to continuing and growing our long and successful partnership with NASA’s prestigious Ames Research Center,” said President/CEO Sameer Singhal. “The award builds on CFD Research’s services growth of the last few years and provides opportunities to increase that growth significantly.”

Huntsville is Mainstage for Worldwide Hackathon

With a pronouncement of “We are going to be to space travel what the Silicon Valley is to electronics,” Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, launched a press conference Tuesday of global proportions.

Huntsville has been named as the “Mainstage” for the NASA International Space Apps Challenge, an annual worldwide hackathon. The Challenge is Oct. 19-21 and will feature coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers and builders who will address NASA-issued challenges on Earth and in space.

“Space Apps is an annual event … (held) at the same time in cities around the world,” said Toni Eberhart, executive director of Urban Engine, a local nonprofit organization aimed at accelerating STEAM-focused initiatives among the millennial startup community.

Last year’s Challenge reached more than 25,000 participants in 187 cities on six continents. The Mainstage sites were New York City and Palo Alto, Calif., but, this year, Huntsville is the only Mainstage and will feature local space and science professionals.

We are honored to be selected as Mainstage and host this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage the community in something that can have massive, global impact,” Eberhart said. Honoring Huntsville’s legacy in aerospace and aviation is something we’re so passionate about.

“To foster education and team collaboration in support of Space Apps, we’ll be providing a wealth of educational workshops at CoWorking Night which is designed to prepare teams and refine skills they’ll be using during the hackathon – and everything is being provided at no cost, thanks to our sponsors.”

Mayor Tommy Battle, who was introduced by Eberhart as Huntsville’s favorite “double millennial,” said the city is the perfect site because “we’re on NASA’s mainstage to get back to the moon and go to Mars.”

“This is a challenge that is made for Huntsville … to see our millennials and ‘double millennials’ working together.”

Hal Brewer, co-founder and chair of Intuitive Research and Technology – one of the event’s presenters, said this is a chance for businesses to take part for team building and “international exposure.”

In fact, he called out some local companies to answer the challenge.

“It’s a great opportunity to foster STEM research,” Brewer said. “If you sponsor this, you’re going to be getting international exposure.”

The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber is also a presenting sponsor and is launching its new website – asmartplace.com – to tie in with the Challenge while helping with career exploration.

“The brand new asmartplace.com is the Chamber’s workforce development and recruitment initiative, focused on connecting students with a smart career and attracting smart people from around the world to be part of our dynamic and growing workforce,” said Georgina Chapman, workforce director at the Chamber. “We knew the NASA Space Apps Challenge would reach the most talented and motivated coders, creators and problem solvers in the world, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach them directly.”

For information on the NASA International Space Apps Challenge, visit www.spaceappshsv.com.

 

Dr. Michael Griffin is keynote speaker at SMD Symposium

Michael Griffin

A former NASA administrator and University of Alabama-Huntsville eminent scholar returns to the Rocket City in a key role at one of the largest symposiums of its kind.

Dr. Michael Griffin, who is responsible for ensuring U.S. military technical superiority as Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, is set to provide the keynote address at the upcoming Space & Missile Defense Symposium.

The event is called “the leading educational, professional development and networking event in the space and missile defense community,” and the keynote dinner will be Aug. 8 at the Von Braun Center. According to a Department of Defense spokesperson, Griffin was not ready to reveal the topic of his address when contacted in July.

Griffin, a former NASA administrator and eminent scholar at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, took over his new role at the Pentagon earlier this year following a career that has spanned academia, industry, and the civil and national security government space sectors. He was appointed by President Trump to fill the new position created from the reorganization of the Pentagon’s acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L) organization.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act instructed the DoD to break up AT&L and replace that undersecretary position with two new ones, including Griffin’s post as undersecretary for research and engineering post, to develop future technologies; and an undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, held by Ellen M. Lord, who has day-to-day focus on existing defense systems.

In his role, Griffin is responsible for the research, development, and prototyping activities across the Department of Defense enterprise and is mandated with ensuring technological superiority for the DoD, according to his U.S. DoD biography. Griffin oversees the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Strategic Capabilities Office, Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, the DoD Laboratory enterprise, and the undersecretariat staff focused on developing advanced technology and capability for the U.S. military.

During his career, Griffin was deputy for technology in the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative Office and served as NASA administrator under President George W. Bush. He was also president and chief operating officer of In-Q-Tel, the nonprofit venture capital firm created and funded by the CIA.

He served as Space Department Head at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and was the King-McDonald Eminent Scholar and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UAH from 2009-2012 before serving as a consultant to the military defense community.

 

Teledyne to start space-based imaging


A Teledyne Brown Engineering-built sensor system will soon be sending images from the International Space Station.

Teledyne Technologies announced the successful launch of the DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (DESIS) to the International Space Station (ISS) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.  Over the next three months, the DESIS instrument, designed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), will be installed and tested on Teledyne Brown Engineering’s Multi-User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES) aboard ISS.

“Our partnerships with NASA and DLR expand the commercial use of the ISS and will provide our Governments with unique imaging data,” said Robert Mehrabian, Teledyne Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  “Leveraging the infrastructure of the International Space Station and the remaining available payloads on MUSES, we hope for additional opportunities to support cost effective development and installation of other instruments designed for low earth orbit observation missions.”

DESIS, a hyperspectral sensor system, was designed, developed and built in Huntsville. With continuous coverage at an altitude approximately 250 miles above the Earth, the DESIS instrument will broaden our knowledge about agriculture, biodiversity, geology, water ecosystems and detect natural or man-made changes to the Earth’s

Systems aboard the MUSES have the flexibility to be returned to Earth for repair, refurbishment or replacement and then sent back to the platform for further use and testing.  This unique return capability will allow DESIS to be returned to Earth after its lifespan of five to eight years for examination to determine the effects of exposure to space conditions.

“Our vision was to create partnerships with DLR, NASA, CASIS and others to enable MUSES and the ISS to expand capabilities to view and assess the earth’s surface,” said TBE President Jan Hess.  “We are ecstatic to get the DESIS in place as MUSES’s first payload and have the ability to share its data with the world’s science and commercial communities.”

The MUSES platform, coupled with DESIS, will assist in the advancement of Earth imaging, mapping, disaster recovery and agricultural assessments. Hyperspectral data from DESIS will also enable the DLR institutes to build new earth observation applications for areas such as commercial applications and precision farming.

Teledyne’s MUSES platform was developed as part of a cooperative agreement with NASA to create opportunities for both government and commercial applications such as imaging, technology demonstration, and space qualification payloads supporting research, scientific studies and humanitarian efforts.

Miley named associate director of Marshall Space Flight Center

Steve Miley has been named associate director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

“With three decades of government acquisition and management experience, Steve is well prepared for his new position on the center’s senior leadership team,” said Marshall Center Director Todd May. “The leadership skills he has displayed while working with NASA Headquarters, other NASA field centers, the U.S. Air Force, government agencies and partners has been, and will continue to be, invaluable to Marshall and the nation’s space exploration efforts.”

Stephen Miley

As associate director, Miley will manage and lead development of business operations, guide daily business decisions and oversee Marshall’s operational policy and processes. In addition, he will serve as a senior adviser in advancing the direction of the center’s future.

The Dayton, Ohio, native most recently served as director of Marshall’s Office of Procurement. Named to the position in December 2015, he managed the organization responsible for all aspects of the contracting and procurement processes at Marshall, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and associated contractor facilities.

Marshall, one of NASA’s largest field installations, has almost 6,000 civil service and contract personnel, an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion, 4.5 million square feet of infrastructure and a broad spectrum of human spaceflight, science and technology development.

A 21-year Air Force reserve officer, Miley received his commission through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2008.

He and his wife Dana live in Huntsville.