JLENS Assessment. The U.S. Army’s JLENS program has underscored the need for the military to have elevated sensors to detect cruise missiles, according to Air Force Brig. Gen. Ronald Buckley, deputy director of operations at U.S. Northern Command. But Buckley doubts the program, which faces deep funding cuts proposed in Congress, will survive after one of the unmanned tethered aerostats broke free in Maryland in October and drifted into Pennsylvania. “I think at this point, we all recognize that it’s probably a road too far to get JLENS back in the mix, but I think it did bring its value in the data that we did collect as part of the experiment,” Buckley says Aug. 16 at the Space and Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville, Ala.
Cyber Teams. U.S. Cyber Command, which opened for business about six years ago, has fielded 84 of the 133 cyber mission teams it hopes to have in place by the end of fiscal year 2018, says Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command. The fielded teams are conducting various missions, including trying to destroy the Islamic State.
Firefly Update. Firefly Space Systems, which is developing the Alpha small-satellite launcher, plans to conduct its first suborbital flight on Nov. 30, 2017, says Thomas Markusic, the firm’s chief executive officer. Firefly’s first cubesat launch for NASA is scheduled for March 9, 2018.
SENSR Plans. The Federal Aviation Administration, in partnership with the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Commerce, says it plans to stand up a cross-agency program called Spectrum Efficient National Surveillance Radar (SENSR). The program will assess the feasibility of acquiring new surveillance solutions that may result in a consolidation of existing legacy surveillance radars or a system of systems surveillance capability, the agency says in an Aug. 18 post in the FedBizOpps.gov. The SENSR Spectrum Pipeline Plan is expected to be submitted to a government panel in September and if approved will be submitted to Congress. Once approved the program will hose an Industry Day to begin industry involvement.
Drone Rule Countdown. A new rule issued by the Federal Aviation Administration establishing regulations for the operation and use of small unmanned aircraft systems goes into effect on Aug. 29. The rule applies to non-hobbyist operators of the small drones, which weigh less than 55 pounds, and requires operators to maintain visual line-of-sight of the aircraft, daytime flying, and yielding of right of way to other aircraft. Small drone pilots must also take an aeronautical knowledge test to obtain a remote pilot certificate.
New L-3 Lawyer. L-3 Communications says it has appointed Ann Davidson as its senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, reporting to Michael Strianese, the company’s chairman and CEO. Davidson previously was the chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Exelis, which is now part of Harris Corp. Davidson succeeds Steven Post, who is retiring from L-3.
Border Visit. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) this Thursday will tour Maine’s Northern Border with Canada to better understand threats and security gaps along the nation’s northern border. In Maine McCaul will tour the Houlton Sector Border Patrol headquarters and facilities and participate in a roundtable discussion with Customs and Border Protection officials and local law enforcement, and will take an aerial tour of the Maine-Canadian border by helicopter.
Naval Strike Missile. Raytheon received an initial contract from Kongsberg Defense Systems to produce Naval Strike Missile (NSM) launchers at its production facility in Louisville, Ky., according to a company statement. The deal ushers in U.S. manufacturing of the Norwegian-developed weapon system. The award follows a July announcement that Raytheon will produce NSM launchers in the U.S. Kongsberg also plans to perform final assembly, integration and test of NSM at Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz., facility. NSM could compete against Lockheed Martin’s surface-launched Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) for the Navy’s potential over-the-horizon missile competition for the Littoral Combat Ship frigate variant.
GSSAP Launch. The Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched the third and fourth Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites early Friday morning at 12:52 a.m. EDT, according to a service statement. Launch took place on a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Orbital ATK developed the satellites, which join a GSSAP constellation currently supporting U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) space surveillance operations as a dedicated Space Surveillance Network sensor. The GSSAP also supports the Joint Functional Component Commander for Space (JFCC Space) by collecting space situational awareness (SSA) data, allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects.
NASA Imaging Cubesat. NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to deploy SkyFire, a 6U cubesat planned to launch to the moon in 2018 with Orion’s Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), according to a company statement. The infrared camera will take high quality images with a lighter, simpler unit. Lockheed Martin believes this reduction in mass will mean lower payload cost and easier maneuverability in space. Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Elizabeth Howard says the contract is simply for permission to launch and that the company is investing its own money to build the satellite. She declined to say how much the company is investing in SkyFire.
RL10 Fire. Aerojet Rocketdyne on Thursday fired one of the RL10 engines that will help power Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner as part of a Commercial Crew mission, according to a NASA statement. The test fire lasts about six minutes as the engine burns a combination of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to produce some 22,300 pounds of thrust. Bolted into place inside a vacuum chamber, the engine was shut down and then re-ignited, just as it will when it is pushing a spacecraft into orbit. After verifying the test was good and the information complete, Aerojet Rocketdyne was set on Friday to deliver the same engine to ULA’s Decatur, Ala., plant, where it will be bolted alongside an identical engine to the upper stage of an Atlas V booster for the crewed flight test.
Crew Access Arm. The Commercial Crew access arm lifted into place on Aug. 15 at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-41, according to a NASA statement. Workers are modifying the SLC-41 launch pad to give astronauts access to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on launch day. The 50-foot-long, 90,000 pound arm will form a bridge between the newly built Crew Access Tower and the hatch of the spacecraft. Astronauts will walk across the arm to climb inside the Starliner for flight.
Rocket Lab Site. Rocket Lab performed the final major step in preparing its New Zealand launch site for the arrival of its Electron rocket by installing the launch platform, according to a company statement. Electron is set to be tested in the coming months. The platform will be used to lift the launch vehicle from a horizontal to a vertical position and will provide all of the services to fuel and launch. Tests from the launch site are schedule to begin in the coming months, following the successful qualification of Electron’s first stage.
CounterTack Appointment. CounterTack, a cybersecurity endpoint company, appointed Matthew Addington as executive vice president of federal business. He will be responsible for overseeing the company’s global federal business and managing strategic growth of the sector. He will report to CEO Neal Creighton. Addington earlier served for over 25 years in operational and leadership roles supporting U.S. intelligence and law enforcement efforts, rising to be a member of the Senior Executive Service. Previously, he served as vice president and director of applied domains at Giant Oak, Inc.
ISS Docking Adapter. NASA astronauts perform a five hour, 58 minute spacewalk on Friday to install the first of two international docking adapters (IDA), according to a NASA statement. The IDAs will be used for the future arrivals of Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew spacecraft. Commercial crew flights from Florida to the ISS will restore U.S. human launch capability and increase the time U.S. crews can dedicate to scientific research.