Category: (9)

MALABAR  — The F-35 has been a part of our nation’s defense for many years now.

The stealth fighter jet, which will perform at this weekend’s Melbourne Air & Space Show, is made by Lockheed Martin with components made by Harris Corp.

Earlier this week, Harris executives announced that it worked with industry partners to deliver more than 780,000 items with what the company calls “99.8 percent on time accuracy.” Translation: It was done right and one time.

Harris is headquartered in Melbourne.

With every F-35, Harris has delivered more than 1,500 module components, 58 network interface units, 21 power supplies, seven integrated racks, six advanced antenna arrays and three antenna interface units.

“Harris has a strong tradition of on-time and accurate delivery of avionics components and modules for the F-35,” Jeff Babione, executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 Program at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. “Our collaborative efforts will continue to deliver strong capabilities, on budget and on time, to ensure our warfighters continue to maintain global air superiority.”

“By investing our own resources and continuing to search for innovative solutions, Harris is driving results that deliver value to the customer and warfighter,” Ed Zoiss, president of Harris Electronic Systems said in release. “We value our long-standing partnership with the F-35 program team providing engineering and supply-chain excellence.”

Contact Price at 321-242-3658 or wprice@floridatoday.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Fla2dayBiz.

MELBOURNE — The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds swooped upon the Space Coast during evening rush hour Thursday, causing a commotion in the skies above neighborhoods from Palm Bay to Indian Harbour Beach in advance of this weekend’s Melbourne Air & Space Show.

“Oh man, it’s going to be so exciting. So they’re going to see six jets flying in close formation. We’re going to be flying low. We’re going to be flying fast,” Air Force Maj. Whit Collins, who flies Thunderbird No. 6, said minutes after landing at Orlando Melbourne International Airport.”We’re going to be nice and loud. And it’s just going to be an exciting show for anyone to watch. You’re going to see the precision and the grace of the diamond flying together — the four jets about 3 feet apart from each other. Then you’ll see the solos come in,” Collins said.

Organizers say more than 280 million people in all 50 states and 57 foreign countries have seen the Thunderbirds. The demonstration squadron also headlined the TICO Warbird Air Show earlier this month in Titusville.

The Melbourne Air & Space Show takes to the skies Saturday and Sunday. The flight lineup also includes the Patrouille De France, GEICO Skytypers and a Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet, Royal Navy Sea Harrier, “Panchito” B-25 Mitchell bomber, and the U.S. Special Operations Command Parachute Team.

The Patrouille De France — or French Aerobatic Patrol — squadron of 10 Alpha Jets arrived in the United States on March 23 at Stewart International Airport in New York’s Hudson Valley. The team performed a flyover of the Statue of Liberty on Monday and flew to Melbourne on Tuesday, kicking off its first American public tour since 1986.

Wednesday afternoon, the Patrouille De France flew near the Vehicle Assembly Building and other Kennedy Space Center landmarks for a photo op.

About 2:30 p.m. Thursday, two stealth fighters with the U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II Heritage Flight Team roared in to the airport from Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona.

Both F-35 Joint Strike Fighters landed and taxied up to the Apex Executive Jet hangar, which remains under construction. Greg Donovan, airport executive director, greeted Mayer and Maj. Will Andreotta, F-35A pilot and team commander, on the tarmac and presented them blue MLB airport baseball caps.”We’ve got a lot of military acts this time. In fact, of the four shows we’ve had, I think this is the most military acts we’ve had across the board. We love it,” Donovan said.

“It’s a great chance for civilians in our community to come out and recognize the aeronautical skills of our warriors, and engineering capabilities of our airplanes,” he said.

Against the backdrop of the air show, two companies involved in high-tech aviation are showcasing their accomplishments. Harris Corp., headquartered just a block away from the Orlando Melbourne International runway, announced this week it achieved more than $750 million in cost savings for its work on the F-35.

And Embraer Executive Jets on Friday will hold a ceremony noting the delivery of its 400th Phenom 300 business jet to customer Elite Jets, a new charter company headquartered in Naples. Embraer assembles four types of jets at its facility: the Phenom 100 and 300 and now the larger Legacy 450 and 500.

Two Navy E-2D Hawkeyes are expected to arrive at the airport at 11:30 a.m. Friday, said Bryan Lilley, air show chairman.

A “Friday Night Take Off Party” for pilots and crew members starts at 6 p.m. Friday at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place lobby bar. Then at 7 p.m. Sunday, an “Afterburner Party” takes place at Iron Oak Post in downtown Melbourne.

Contact Neale at 321-242-3638, rneale@floridatoday.com or follow RickNeale1 on Twitter

Air show details

The Melbourne Air & Space Show takes place Saturday and Sunday at the north side of Orlando Melbourne International Airport, off of General Aviation Drive.

Gates open at 9 a.m., and the air show starts at noon. Flight performances end about 4:20 p.m., and gates close at 5.

Advance tickets: Adults cost $19.75, children ages 6 to 12 cost $9.75, and parking vouchers cost $15. Visit airandspaceshow.com or call 877-301-8499.

Day of event: Adults cost $25, children ages 6 to 12 cost $15, and parking vouchers cost $20.

Expect heavy traffic on Apollo Boulevard, especially just south of the intersection of Sarno Road, Melbourne City Hall officials warn. 

Prohibited items include outside food, coolers, pets and weapons. Each attendee may bring one sealed bottle of water up to 1 liter in size. Shaded areas are limited, and attendees may bring umbrellas up to 5 feet in diameter.

Article by Florida Today, Complete Article [ HERE ]

“It’s about a four-hour flight. Tailwind most of the way, nice clear weather, so no complaints there. We met a tanker over Kansas and Oklahoma and took some gas and sailed on in here over the Gulf,” said Air Force Maj. Matt Mayer, one of the pilots.

The number of passengers flying in and out of Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB) indicates a 3.2% increase year to date over last year, airport executive director Greg Donovan said.

The information was released concurrent with Elite Airways´ announcement that it had chosen MLB to facilitate the airline´s first international flight, projecting even more international routes to come.

Donovan noted that recent publicity has brought a spotlight on the airport´s proximity to regional theme parks, resulting in an increase of airline interest in the potential of MLB as an alternative from which to operate passenger service.

Airport passenger numbers for February 2017 alone rose 3.6%. MLB is one of the least expensive airports from an airline cost basis, and has the geographical advantage of being centrally located in the heart of Florida tourism. According to the Department of Transportation, passenger ticket prices are within USD 10 of flights from nearby Orlando International Airport (MCO), an amount which is offset by car mileage costs and driving toll fees.

Served by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Elite Airways, and Porter Airlines, MLB is located on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, convenient to Orlando. It is the closest airport to Port Canaveral cruises, 72 miles of pristine beaches, Cocoa Beach surfing, and NASA´s Kennedy Space Center.

Article by GULLI ARNASON IN AIR AND TRAVEL · MARCH 27, 2017, Complete Article [ HERE ]

Vector Space Systems brings new rocket to the Space Coast  Fullscreen Members of the media get a closer look at Vector Space Systems' rocket at Launch Complex 46  Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY

Vector Space Systems brings new rocket to the Space Coast Members of the media get a closer look at Vector Space Systems’ rocket at Launch Complex 46 Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY

A startup focused on low-cost launches of small satellites hopes to fly a suborbital test flight from Cape Canaveral this year, and is considering building rockets on the Space Coast.

Tucson, Arizona-based Vector Space Systems hopes to start launching orbital missions next year, and could bring more than 100 jobs to the area if the local manufacturing work materializes.

“This, we think, is the wave of the future,” CEO Jim Cantrell said Saturday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 46.

Cantrell spoke to reporters in front of an engineering model of the company’s 42-foot-tall Vector-R rocket, which on Monday morning will be put on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The two-stage rocket, designed to lift up to about 130 pounds to low Earth orbit, is intended to serve a growing market for small, inexpensive satellites now mainly limited to hitching rides as secondary payloads on big rockets.

“The micro-satellite market is exploding,” said Cantrell.

Market studies, he said, project roughly 1,000 such satellites will be seeking launches annually by 2023.

With its small, relatively simple rocket and engine designs, Vector anticipates being able to launch more than 100 times a year, even launching multiple times a day.

The cost: $1.5 million for a basic Vector-R flight, to up to $3 million for the heavier-lift Vector-H.

The rocket requires minimal ground infrastructure, rolling to the pad on a trailer that doubles as a mobile launch platform and launching within a few hours. Three booster engines burn chilled liquid propylene and liquid oxygen.

Vector’s planned high flight rate “requires us to have some of our facilities close to the launch sites,” said Cantrell, with Florida being just one of those sites.

It also requires a cultural shift at ranges not used to supporting such frequent launches.

So far, Vector, which has fewer than 30 employees, has no firm agreements in place to launch or manufacture rockets at the Cape.

Negotiations are in progress with the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing to approve operations from Launch Complex 46, a long-dormant pad managed by Space Florida that may support multiple users.

The site currently is being prepared for a launch this summer of Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV rocket, and is expected to host a 2019 test of the launch abort system for NASA’s Orion crew exploration capsule.

Cantrell said Vector expects to launch a suborbital test flight from California in as soon as two weeks.

The pace of its progress hinges on attracting money from investors. The company has raised $8 million to date, Cantrell said, and needs another $30 million to $40 million.

Vector is building upon more than a decade of work by Garvey Spacecraft Corp., which Vector acquired last year.

Cantrell and John Garvey are longtime friends who were members of SpaceX’s early engineering team.

“This is a team that knows what they’re doing,” said Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, at Complex 46 on Saturday.

“We’re not the young kids on the block,” added Cantrell.

Around 11 a.m. Monday, the rocket will be displayed outside the KSC Visitor Complex’s IMAX theater, later being raised overhead as part of the NASA Now gallery.

The aluminum engineering model’s black color reflects future designs with carbon fiber stages, while the copper trim is a nod to the company’s Arizona roots.

“We know the industry needs this,” said Cantrell of the micro-launcher. “We know we can do it.”

Contact Dean at 321-242-3668 orjdean@floridatoday.com. And follow on Twitter at@flatoday_jdeanand on Facebook atfacebook.com/jamesdeanspace.

Article by James Dean, Florida Today, Complete Article [ HERE ]

All those cool rocket landings SpaceX has pulled off over the past year or so?

They’ll amount to little more than expensive stunts unless the company shows that those recovered Falcon 9 boosters can be re-launched again. And again. And again.

SpaceX’s highly anticipated first opportunity to prove that its rockets can be reused is expected next week, with the planned 4:59 p.m. Wednesday launch from Kennedy Space Center of a commercial communications satellite on what’s being called a “flight proven” booster.

CEO Elon Musk has long argued that reusability is the innovation that will revolutionize the launch industry by driving down costs, a prerequisite to fulfilling his dream of colonizing Mars.

“In order for us to really open up access to space, we’ve got to achieve full and rapid reusability,” Musk said last April at KSC. “And being able to do that for the primary rocket booster is going to be a huge impact on cost.”

Musk was speaking after SpaceX had landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 on a ship at sea for the first time, minutes after the rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral with International Space Station supplies.

That same booster, which flew faster than 4,000 mph and dropped from more than 87 miles up, now is being prepped to lift the SES-10 satellite to a high orbit for Luxembourg-based SES.

It’s uncharted territory for a big, liquid-fueled rocket.

Blue Origin has launched and landed its smaller New Shepard suborbital rocket five times in Texas.

Space shuttle solid rocket boosters and orbiters were reused, but only after costly and time-consuming refurbishment or reconstruction between flights.

That’s not what Musk, or Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, are after.

“Rapid and complete reusability is the thing that’s really important for the reusability to be cost-effective,” said Musk. “Like an aircraft.”

A successful launch this week would be a major breakthrough for SpaceX, but it will take many more such successes to prove reusability is the game-changer it is promised to be.

Boosters and their nine Merlin main engines represent about two-thirds of the cost of a Falcon 9 mission, which SpaceX advertises for $62 million for a commercial satellite. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, has said savings from re-flights will be “substantial.”

SpaceX and SES have not disclosed how much of a discount SES received for taking a chance on being the first to re-fly a Falcon, under a contract announced in August.

Shotwell last year said she was offering “about a 10 percent price reduction” for recovered boosters, a number that could grow as SpaceX recoups its investment in landing and recovery systems.

Those systems include stabilizing fins, thrusters and landing legs on the rocket; building landing sites on land and modified barges called “drone ships” for ocean landings; a new Port Canaveral facility where recovered stages will be stored and refurbished; and people to perform the work.

“It’s great that we land,” Shotwell said at a satellite industry conference last summer. “We spent a fortune on Falcon 9 upgrading it so that we could land. But really, that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to be able to re-fly it.”

It’s also unknown how much work has been needed to clear the flown rocket for a second mission.

After the drone ship landing in the Atlantic Ocean last April, Musk projected that the booster could fly again in as little as two or three months.

It has been nearly a year, in part because of the Falcon 9 explosion last September that grounded SpaceX for the last four months of last year.

SpaceX says another booster recovered from a more demanding, higher-orbit launch, underwent minimal refurbishment before its engines were successfully fired multiple times on a Texas test stand, for as long as a launch would take.

The boosters return from space charred with soot, having survived high-speed re-entry through the atmosphere and multiple engine firings to slow their descent.

“It comes back surprisingly, really surprisingly, in good shape,” Shotwell said last summer.

Examining the first booster SpaceX ever landed, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in December 2015, Shotwell said a tray of wires looked “pristine,” and a section connecting the rocket’s two stages was “still shiny and beautiful” inside.

SpaceX does not refer to flying “used” rockets, which might imply a degree of wear and tear. Instead they are “flight proven,” implying a second flight will be less risky than the first.

SpaceX hopes to reach to a point where boosters can fly 10 or more times, and eventually need just a few weeks between flights.

“There probably will be some failures in the future, but we’ll iron those out, and get it to the point where it’s routine to bring it back, and where the only changes to the rocket are maybe to hose it down, or give it a wash, and add the propellant and fly it again,” said Musk. “That’s the key.”

Contact Dean at 321-242-3668 or jdean@floridatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter at @flatoday_jdean

Article by James Dean, Florida Today, Complete Article – [ HERE ]

Vector CEO Jim Cantrell stands in front of the Vector-R rocket launcher Jan. 30 at the… more  HAYLEY RINGLE

Vector CEO Jim Cantrell stands in front of the Vector-R rocket launcher Jan. 30 at the… more HAYLEY RINGLE

A Tucson, Ariz.-based aerospace company is planning to assemble and launch its rockets at Cape Canaveral, and interestingly enough, it looks like the firm has ties to SpaceX.

Vector Space Systems Inc. — an aerospace firm that builds 42-foot-tall rockets called Vector Rapide, or Vector-R for short — is planning to erect one of its rockets at Space Florida’s Launch Complex 46 on March 25 that will then be included in a brand new display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex — the first commercial space rocket to be featured. The display at KSC will be open to the public on March 27.

However, in addition to Vector-R being at the Launch Complex 46, company CEO Jim Cantrell will announce the intention of the company to use the launch facilities in the future, according to a news release from Space Florida.

Orlando Business Journal’s sister paper Phoenix Business Journal reported in January about Vector unveiling its Vector-R rocket, credited as being the world’s smallest satellite launcher rocket. The company, which was founded about a year ago, has executives that are not new to the rocket industry. Cantrell is one of the founding members of Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX — a company that irecently outbid well-established rocket firm United Launch Alliance for a major government contract.

So far, the 23-employee company has sold 100 of its rockets and has a planned April test launch in Alaska. “We’re in negotiations with a government customer to buy payload space on our first launch,” Cantrell said in the Phoenix Business Journal report.

And while the test is scheduled for April, Vector has big plans in store for Cape Canaveral and is already working on a larger model for its rocket. According to its website, the Vector-R is designed for rapid and frequent launch of payloads weighing up to 50 kilograms (110 pounds) and will be available for commercial flights in 2018. The rocket is designed to launch 100 times per year. Vector Heavy, or Vector-H, is capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) into low Earth orbit and will be available in mid-2019.

Vector’s interest in launching from Cape Canaveral may be good news for London-based satellite manufacturing firm OneWeb, which recently held a ceremonial groundbreaking on March 16 for its $85 million, 100,000-square-foot assembly plant in Exploration Park. OneWeb plans to launch 900 satellites into orbit, and while the firm is in talks with Kent, Wash.-based Blue Origin LLCwhich is also building a massive rocket plant right across from OneWeb— and Calif.-based Virgin Galactic to launch its rockets, the firm may be on the hunt for more companies to fulfill its goals.

All of this activity is good news for Florida’s Space Coast as it can lead to more business opportunities for parts suppliers and other subcontractors in the area.

Richardson covers technology and general assignments for online and print.

Article by 

OneWeb Satellites LLC on March 16 broke ground on its $85 million satellite factory on Florida’s Space Coast, kicking off plans that will lead to more rocket launches — and opportunities for surrounding businesses.

London-based OneWeb first announced its plans to build a more than 100,000 square-foot facility in the Kennedy Space Center Exploration Park last year, which is expected to create 250 high-tech, high-wage jobs that pay an average annual salary of $65,579.

The Sunshine State added about 240,000 jobs in the last year, and about 50,000 jobs in January alone, said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“This state in on a roll,” Scott said during the event. “If you go around the state, I don’t meet anyone that doesn’t care about jobs. We are blessed.”

OneWeb will receive nearly $20 million in state incentives for the new facility, and the added jobs and rapid satellite production is expected to create opportunities for businesses in the area surrounding the new satellite plant.

For example, Switzerland-based company RUAG Space USA Inc. late last year announced plans to build a Titusville production facility, creating 60 high-wage jobs, as previously reported by Orlando Business Journal. RUAG Space USA will work directly with OneWeb to supply parts, sources said.

OneWeb’s goal is to launch 900 satellites into low Earth orbit within two years to provide affordable broadband to 4 billion people not yet connected to the Internet through a new constellation of microsatellites. OneWeb will partner with rocket firms such as Kent, Wash.-based Blue Origin LLC and Long Beach, Calif.-based Virgin Galactic LLC.

Initially, launches were supposed to start later this year, but were pushed to 2018 because of construction delays.

Meanwhile, the new satellite factory is just one project in the initial 60-acre phase of the Exploration Park high-tech research and office park just outside Kennedy Space Center’s security gates.

Just a short walk from this site is Blue Origin’s $205 million, 750,000 square-foot facility that is scheduled to open before year’s end.

Richardson covers technology and general assignments for online and print. 

Article by Matthew Richardson, Orlando Business Journal, Complete Article [ HERE ]

Melbourne-based Harris Corporation's technology center in Palm Bay. (Paul Brinkmann / Orlando Sentinel)

Melbourne-based Harris Corporation’s technology center in Palm Bay. (Paul Brinkmann / Orlando Sentinel)

Melbourne-based military and defense Harris Corp. won a big contract with the U.S. Air Force.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced March 10 that Harris Corp won a $18.6 million deal with the U.S. Air Force to provide upgrades to 13 antennas across the Counter Communication System fleet. Work for the contract will take place in Palm Bay where Harris’ Space and Intelligence System division is located. The contract has a Feb. 25, 2019, completion date.

Harris (NYSE: HRS) is Central Florida’s top publicly traded company with $5.08 billion in 2015 revenue, and it’s the region’s No. 2 technology firm, Orlando Business Journal research showed.

Harris supports customers in more than 125 countries and 22,000 employees worldwide. The company has more than 400 workers — mostly engineers — at its Melbourne headquarters.

Military contracts contribute to the local economy in the form of jobs and subcontractor opportunities, and Central Florida is a major player when it comes to defense contracts. The region snags about $4 billion in government contracts each year because the nation’s Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines simulation operations are based in Central Florida Research Park.

That work helps make Orlando the modeling, simulation and training capital of the world, according to the Orlando Economic Development Commission.

Richardson covers technology and general assignments for online and print.

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Safety issue: Melbourne-based Harris Corp and partners announced recently a two-year grant to develop a system that allows safe usage of drones beyond a person's line of sight.  — Dreamstime/TNS

Safety issue: Melbourne-based Harris Corp and partners announced recently a two-year grant to develop a system that allows safe usage of drones beyond a person’s line of sight. — Dreamstime/TNS

MELBOURNE, Florida: Hurricane cleanup efforts and other operations that could be enhanced by wider drone flights might get some help soon.

Melbourne-based Harris Corp and partners announced recently a two-year grant to develop a system that allows safe usage of drones beyond a person’s line of sight.

The work would create network-based tracking of drones that could eventually allow drone pilots to fly beyond their line of sight.

Right now, Federal Aviation Authority guidelines do not allow a pilot to fly an unmanned aircraft system – or drone – unless they can see it.

At a recent event, Harris officials said the research could help farmers and those in other industries.

“We believe this would help industries mature and progress faster,” said George Kirov, vice president and general manager of Harris’ Commercial Unmanned Aerial Systems Solutions.

Kirov said farmers, rail workers and energy companies – just to name a few – could benefit from the research eventually.

Some of the work on the development of the program will be done in Central Florida.

“It’s easier, quicker and more-precise data for those farming the field or building that pipeline,” Kirov said.

But these developments have applications beyond farming.

A more-robust network could make hurricane clean up easier because drones could be outfitted with camera systems or other sensors that would allow them to track and scan a wider area.

The goal of the project is to use North Dakota as a use-case example of how the new network would benefit industries, Kirov said.

If successful, the plan would be to expand the network to other states and, eventually, across the US.

The company said that it sought to partner with railroads or utility companies to create test scenarios.

The North Dakota Centers of Excellence Commission awarded Harris and its partners a two-year grant worth US$500,000 (RM2.22mil) a year to develop and test the network.

University of North Dakota and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks, N.D., partnered with Harris.

Access to air space is closely monitored, an effort to avoid collisions or unauthorized flights in specific areas.

Harris had to get a temporary permit to fly a drone up to 100 feet for the demo.

“It’s not really a technology issue,” Kirov said. “It’s a safety case.”

The company has had a long relationship with the FAA.

From its Melbourne headquarters, Harris employees monitor US air traffic for the agency on a system it developed.

The company employs more than 17,000 people, including roughly 6,300 in Central Florida and on the coast.

— Article by Marco Santana, Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service Comlete Article [ HERE ]