Connect with us

National

United Launch Alliance selects Alabama-built BE-4 rocket engine for next-generation rocket

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Thursday, Alabama Governor Ivey (R) welcomed the news that United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine to power ULA’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Ivey said the announcement will provide a major boost to Alabama’s aerospace industry and extend the state’s leadership position in rocketry.

ULA produces Atlas V and Delta IV rockets at a facility in Decatur. The Vulcan Centaur will also be assembled at the Alabama plant. Blue Origin was founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin announced in 2017 that it would open a new factory in Huntsville to manufacture the BE-4 once it landed a contract from ULA.

“I am pleased to learn that ULA has selected Blue Origin and new investments will be made in Alabama to expand our growing aerospace industry,” Governor Ivey said. “Alabama has a rich history in aerospace and titans of innovation continue to choose Alabama as the place to develop new technology and develop 21st century engines for future space utilization. I am excited about our new partnership with Blue Origin and their commitment to our state.”

“Blue Origin and ULA will now be building rockets together as part of a new partnership – which will create hundreds of jobs and bring an investment of $200 million to our state,” said U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama). “This is outstanding news. With Blue Origin’s first stage engine work in Huntsville, along with ULA’s manufacturing, assembly, and integration in Decatur, most of the Vulcan rocket will be made in Alabama. It is long past time that we build an exclusively American-made rocket, providing our nation with assured access to space.”

Advertisement

“This is a true testament to North Alabama’s world-class workforce and long history of supporting our nation’s space and defense,” added Sen. Shelby. “I am proud to represent a region that continues to attract such powerful companies. I welcome Blue Origin to Alabama and look forward to the groundbreaking of its new facility in Cummings Research Park.”

“Alabama has long been a leader in space technology assembly and continues to make great strides in contributing to this vital part of space exploration,” said U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama). “Blue Origin and Aerojet Rocketdyne’s contributions to the Vulcan Centaur Rocket System are a testament to Alabama’s highly skilled workforce and welcoming business environment. Although the contract for engine production was split, 100 percent of the production will take place in the Rocket City, where Alabama continues to support innovation in national security and space exploration. I look forward to watching this cutting-edge project take shape in our own Rocket City.”

Colorado-based ULA said Thursday that it is making strong progress in the development of the Vulcan Centaur, which is on track for an initial test flight in mid-2020. The new rocket design is nearing completion, with booster preliminary design and critical design reviews already complete.

“We are pleased to enter into this partnership with Blue Origin and look forward to a successful first flight of our next-generation launch vehicle,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO.

Huntsville area economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Today United Launch Alliance (ULA) elected Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine to power the booster of the Vulcan Centaur rocket. Now that the company won the contract, Blue Origin will construct their facility announced in 2017 on approximately 46 acres in Cummings Research Park and bring hundreds of jobs to the area.”

The new rocket’s booster will be powered by a pair of liquified natural gas (LNG) burning BE-4 engines, each producing 550,000 pounds of thrust. The company said that the Vulcan Centaur will have greater capabilities to lift payloads into orbit than any currently available single-core launch vehicle.

“The United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin are teaming to make a next-generation rocket a reality, and it will have deep roots in Alabama’s aerospace industry,” Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said. “Located just a few miles from the ULA assembly facility in Decatur, Blue Origin’s rocket engine manufacturing facility will be right at home in Huntsville, a hub of innovation for this industry for decades.”

Cummings Research Park is the nation’s second largest research park. The $200 million project is expected to create up to 342 jobs.
Blue Origin said that it chose Huntsville because of its high-tech aerospace manufacturing workforce and ecosystem, including NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, nearly 300 private aerospace and defense contractors, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a top university for NASA research funding.

“Congratulations to United Launch Alliance and to Blue Origin,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said. “After a lengthy due diligence period by ULA, today’s announcement marks the beginning of U.S. independence for a variety space travel missions to include future deep space voyages. Huntsville is proud that both Blue Origin and Aerojet Rocketdyne will play a major role in ULA’s production of the Vulcan Centaur rocket. Huntsville led the U.S. propulsion revolution in the 60s, and we continue to do so with a thriving industry of rocket scientists and rocket producers. This is what we do better than anyone else in the world.”

ULA said that Aerojet Rocketdyne, which has a major presence in Huntsville, will provide RL10 engines for the Centaur upper stage. Northrop Grumman will build the solid rocket boosters.

ULA said the Vulcan Centaur will boost U.S. manufacturing by adding more than 22,000 direct and indirect American jobs in 46 states supported by ULA programs. The company has made modifications to the 1.6 million-square-foot facility in Decatur, which employs more than 600 workers and has produced large rockets since opening in 1999.

“Today’s announcement is great news for the future of ULA in Morgan County,” said Jeremy Nails, president and CEO of the Morgan County Economic Development Association. “I’m proud of the fact that their next-generation Vulcan rocket is moving forward and will be built in our community.”

ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. The company has successfully delivered 130 satellites in to orbit. ULA is jointly owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

ULA has been using Russian built rocket engines. This contract will end America’s dependence on Russian rocket engines. The Blue Origin factory will manufacture up to 30 engines per year for both Decatur’s ULA plant and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket. The average salary at the new factory will be $75,000 a year. Blue Origin is headquartered in Kent, Washington.

“The United States is in the space race again,” Nicole Jones said. “And what an appropriate and nostalgic time in history as we, in 2019, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of man on the moon. The presence of these global companies highlights their important role as our state leads the nation in the aerospace industry.”

With numerous new manufacturing and research job announcement, Huntsville is expected to be the largest city in Alabama within the next five years.

Continue Reading

National

Shelby, Jones vote for passage of the Farm Bill

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

The U.S. Senate voted in favor of passage of the conference committee version of H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill. Both Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Doug Jones (D-Alabama) voted in favor of passage of the bipartisan legislation.

“This bipartisan legislation provides much-needed predictability that will significantly benefit our state’s farmers and the entire agriculture industry,” said Senator Shelby. “I look forward to the lasting positive impact this bill with have on rural areas throughout Alabama and the nation.”

“This is a Farm Bill for rural Alabama and rural America,” said Senator Jones. “I’m proud that the final legislation ensures that our farmers have the support and resources they need to continue to do their important work. It also addresses several urgent issues for our state, particularly the need for expanded rural health care and broadband access. Since I arrived in the Senate in January, I’ve worked closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as farmers from across Alabama, to advocate for a strong Farm Bill for all of our rural communities. This bill reflects the priorities we share for a brighter and more secure future for Alabama.”

Shelby’s office said that the 2018 Farm Bill improves the crop insurance program, helps expand rural broadband initiatives, and includes many of the cotton industry’s priorities such as the continuation of the Seed Cotton program.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones today supported passage of a final Farm Bill that includes several key priorities for Alabama that he championed. The bill is the result of months of bipartisan negotiations in the Senate and House.

Advertisement

The Congress passes a Farm Bill and is only once every five years.

Jones’ office says that it strengthens important commodity safety net programs and other protections for farmers who take on this risky and costly venture. It also provides increased funding for communities across the country and addresses issues from rural development to conservation to food assistance and more.

The Farm Bill includes several specific provisions that were championed by Senator Jones for Alabama’s rural communities.

These include: The Rural Health Liaison Act (S. 2894) which establishes a rural health liaison at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to better coordinate federal resources and expand health care access to Americans who have for too long struggled to receive quality, affordable care in their own communities.

The Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (S.2772) expands the USDA’s Household Water Well System Grant Program to provide grants of up to $15,000 to low- and moderate-income households in rural areas for installing or maintaining individually-owned decentralized wastewater systems.

The Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act (S. 1676) which increases the authorization from $25 million to $350 million annually for the USDA to provide loans and loan guarantees for broadband services in rural communities.

The Community Connect Grant Program Act (S. 2654) which authorizes $50 million annually for the USDA Community Connect Program, which provides broadband grants targeted to the most rural, unserved, and high-poverty communities in the country. The program expands high-speed internet by providing new grants that will connect unserved households and businesses with modern internet access and streamlines broadband application process.

The Fair Access for Farmers and Ranchers Act (S. 3117) requires the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to provide farm numbers to farmers with certain documentation, including in concert with Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Laws in some states. The bill also authorizes FSA to make loans to qualified intermediaries to re-lend to families seeking to resolve heirs’ property issues.

The Assist Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Act (S.2839) and the Next Generation in Agriculture Act (S. 2762). These two bills were combined to create permanent, mandatory baseline funding to educate the next generation of farmers and reach more minority farmers.

Agriculture is Alabama’s top revenue-producing industry, generating an annual impact of over $70 billion. With over nine million acres of farmland and more than 48,500 farms, the state is a national leader in food production and a global competitor in the poultry, catfish, timber, cotton, and livestock industries.

Continue Reading

National

Rod Rosenstein tours Huntsville

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited Huntsville Tuesday to tour facilities at Redstone Arsenal including the FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), the ATF’s National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR) and NASA. The visit was announced by U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town.

“It was an honor to receive Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today and tour the many impressive facilities aboard the Redstone Arsenal campus”, Town said. “It comes as no surprise that the DAG was impressed by the growth and capabilities here. We began the day touring NASA, a remarkable ambassador to the 40,000+ employees that serve aboard the Redstone Arsenal each day. Touring NASA is always impressive. The FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center and ATF’s National Center for Explosives Training and Research and National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) facilities truly reminds us of the impressive advancement that law enforcement has made in order to stay ahead of criminal threats to the public. We were fortunate to be joined by ATF Director Tom Brandon as well. Our federal law enforcement capacities are tremendous but are only successful due to the hard work, dedication, and bravery of the men and women of all of our federal law enforcement agencies.”

Rod Rosenstein was appointed Deputy Attorney General by President Donald J. Trump (R). When it was revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had met with the Russian Ambassador twice during the 2016 election campaign, Sessions recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself meant that he could not be a part of the decision on how to investigate the charges that the Trump presidential campaign had colluded with Russian intelligence to discredit Trump’s opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton (D).

Rosenstein made the decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the collusion allegations against the President and his campaign.

Rosenstein has been criticized by the President and by many conservatives for his decisions in the Mueller investigation, which has continued to this day. While some Democrats have suggested that Mueller has found compelling evidence to impeach the President, Trump himself has said that he has been vindicated by the investigation.

Advertisement

Trump recently asked for and accepted Jeff Sessions’s resignation. Chief of Staff John Kelly has also announced that he is leaving the administration. Rosenstein, however, remains as Deputy Attorney General.

Continue Reading

National

NASA: OSIRIS-Rex has discovered water on Asteroid Bennu

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

NASA announced Monday that its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has already discovered water locked inside the clays that make up its scientific target, the asteroid Bennu.

During the mission’s approach phase, between mid-August and early December, the spacecraft traveled 1.4 million miles on its journey from Earth to arrive at a location 12 miles from Bennu last week. During this time, the science team on Earth aimed three of the spacecraft’s instruments towards Bennu and began making the mission’s first scientific observations of the asteroid.

NASA announced that data obtained from the spacecraft’s two spectrometers, the OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) and the OSIRIS-REx

Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) reveals that the presence of molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms bonded together, known as “hydroxyls.” The team suspects that these hydroxyl groups exist globally across the asteroid in water-bearing clay minerals, meaning that at some point, Bennu’s rocky material interacted with water. While Bennu itself is too small to have ever hosted liquid water, the finding does indicate that liquid water was present at some time on Bennu’s parent body, a much larger asteroid.

“The presence of hydrated minerals across the asteroid confirms that Bennu, a remnant from early in the formation of the solar system, is an excellent specimen for the OSIRIS-REx mission to study the composition of primitive volatiles and organics,” said OVIRS deputy instrument scientist Amy Simon at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system.”

Advertisement

Additionally, data obtained from the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) corroborate ground-based telescopic observations of Bennu and confirm the original model developed in 2013 by OSIRIS-REx Science Team Chief Michael Nolan and collaborators. That model closely predicted the asteroid’s actual shape, with Bennu’s diameter, rotation rate, inclination, and overall shape presented almost exactly as projected.

One outlier from the predicted shape model is the size of the large boulder near Bennu’s south pole. The ground-based shape model calculated this boulder to be at least 33 feet (10 meters) in height. Preliminary calculations from OCAMS observations show that the boulder is closer to 164 feet (50 meters) in height, with a width of approximately 180 feet (55 meters).

Bennu’s surface material is a mix of very rocky, boulder-filled regions and a few relatively smooth regions that lack boulders. However, the quantity of boulders on the surface is higher than expected. The team will make further observations at closer ranges to more accurately assess where a sample can be taken on Bennu to later be returned to Earth. OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission.

Space exploration and rocket manufacturing and design are major Alabama industries. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville employs thousands of Alabamians.

Continue Reading

National

Jones introduces bipartisan legislation forbidding mailed unsolicited “live” loan checks

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Monday U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) joined Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) in introduced legislation that would end the practice of mailing high-interest loans to consumers in the form of “live” checks.

When consumers receive these loan checks, many unknowingly believe they have received money from their bank or financial institution, not realizing that the check is often a high-interest loan.

The Unsolicited Loan Act of 2018 would prohibit this practice and ensure that consumers access loans only when they proactively apply for them. This legislation mirrors the decades-old prohibition on the mailing of live credit cards.

“As working Americans look to make ends meet, lenders will often target cash-strapped families with these mailings,” Senator Jones said. “It is unconscionable that someone would take advantage of another person’s dire financial situation to make a quick buck for themselves. We need to end this predatory lending tactic and pass this legislation to protect consumers and their pocketbooks.”

“People should understand clearly when they are taking on debt,” Senator Cotton said. “But because ‘live’ checks mailed directly to consumers don’t require an application or any previous relationship with the consumer, many individuals don’t realize that these checks are actually high-interest loans until it’s too late. Just like Congress ended the practice of mailing ‘live’ credit cards nearly 50 years ago, Congress should pass our bill now to stop this underhanded practice.”

Advertisement

“When you receive a check in the mail, it’s natural to assume that depositing it will help—not hurt—your bottom line,” Sen. Merkley said. “But these checks don’t pad consumers’ pocketbooks; instead, they send them into a vortex of debt. The practice of mailing high-interest loans disguised as checks is unconscionable and clearly predatory. Today, we’re sending a bipartisan message that this unacceptable practice must end.”

The sponsors said that it has been long recognized by Congress that consumer loans should require an application by a customer. In fact, Congress banned the mailing of unsolicited live credit cards nearly 50 years ago. In modern lending, a formal loan application can often take just minutes. The bill does not prohibit the direct marketing or mailing of a loan application. The sponsors say that this legislation would provide common-sense consumer protections without limiting access to credit for consumers who willingly apply and seek lending products.

The bill would also ensure that companies cannot shift from the mailing of live checks to other forms of transfer, such as a gift card or an “e-check.” In addition, it would ensure that customers are not liable for debt incurred from an illegal, unsolicited live check loan. The National Consumer Law Center has endorsed this legislation on behalf of its low-income clients.

According to usdebtclock.org the average American is carrying $58,849 in debt. American families owe over $19,371,000,000. Almost $15,374,000,000 of this is mortgage debt; but Americans also carry nearly $1,580,000,000 in student loan debt and almost $1,050,000,000 in credit card debt. According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, through November 703,130 Americans have already filed for bankruptcy in 2018, including 24,676 in Alabama.

Senator Jones was elected a year ago in a special election for the seat vacated by Senator Jeff Sessions (R) when he accepted President Donald J. Trump’s (R) nomination to be U.S. Attorney General. Jones is the only Democratic candidate to win a statewide election in Alabama since 2008.

Continue Reading

Authors

Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

United Launch Alliance selects Alabama-built BE-4 rocket engine for next-generation rocket

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 6 min
0