Rocket Lab Ready. After having to postpone in December the first launch of its Electron rocket from U.S. soil, Rocket Lab USA has opened a new launch window that begins Jan. 23 with back-up dates extending into early February. The upcoming launch from the company’s Launch Complex 2 at NASA’s Wallops Island, Va., flight facility will lift three commercial radio frequency satellites for HawkEye 360. The December launch was scrubbed due to poor weather and to give NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration more time to complete regulatory documentation.

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Science Applications International Corp. has appointed to its board James Reagan, the former chief financial officer of Leidos, and Carolyn Handlon, who retired in April 2022 as the executive vice president, finance and treasurer, of Marriott International. The appointments bring SAIC’s board to 13 members. BlueHalo has named retired Army Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood to its board of advisers to help on strategic initiatives around the company’s “as the new alternative prime in the defense and national security market.” Thurgood retired from active duty in 2022 and his last assignment was as director for Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition and the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office. Leidos appointed retired Navy Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe as vice president and strategic account executive for the Navy and Marine Corps. Pandolfe most recently was president, international operations for Owl Cyber Defense and Acuity International LLC in Abu Dhabi.

Remote Sensing Bill. The chairman and ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee last week introduced the Commercial Remote Sensing Amendment Act of 2023 to renew an expired requirement for the Commerce Department to send an annual report to Congress on the status of commercial remote sensing applications, regulations, and adjudications. “This bill helps us evaluate our regulatory system so we can stay competitive and keep companies in the U.S. rather than going overseas,” says Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). The previous legislation, the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, had a requirement from the Commerce Department on the status of remote sensing licensing and regulation that expired in 2020.

SSN-785 Maintenance. The USS John Warner (SSN-785) Virginia-class submarine docked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on Jan. 11 where the yard will conduct an Extended Dry-docking Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA). This kind of availability is more substantial than other maintenance period and only occurs with the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) approval. During An EDSRA, the vessel is drydocked to allow modernization upgrades to the hull, propulsion, and other systems. SSN-785 is the 12th overall Virginia-class submarine and is a Block III vessel.

…First For Norfolk. The Navy underscored this will be the first time the Norfolk Naval Shipyard conducts a CNO Virginia-class EDSRA, which includes the yard’s first Block III submarine maintenance period.  “This is a first not only for America’s Shipyard but our corporation as a whole, as we dock our first Virginia Class Block III, providing critical repair and modernization upgrades to one of our nation’s greatest assets. Our extensive preparation has positioned us well for a very strong start to this availability,” Shipyard Commander Capt. Dianna Wolfson said in a statement.The Norfolk yard’s preparations involved “extensive teaming and learning” from the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility  and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which have executed these kinds of CNO availabilities, project superintendent Jed Sweigart said.

DDG-140. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced on Jan. 11 during the annual Surface Navy Association symposium that a future Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be named the future USS Thomas G. Kelley (DDG-140). The name honors a Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. From 2003-2011, Kelley served as the Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services.

NDS Commission. The leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Jan. 11 announced the full roster for the new Commission on the National Defense Strategy. “The Commission will examine the 2022 National Defense Strategy and make recommendations for its implementation. The commissioners will examine the assumptions, objectives, defense investments, force posture and structure, operational concepts, and military risks of the NDS. The Commission will also assess the global security environment, threats to the United States’ national security, the current design and readiness of the force, and the amount and allocation of resources,” HASC and SASC wrote in a joint statement. The commission, established per a directive in the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, will deliver a report on their findings within a year. 

Commissioners. Jane Harman, who served nine-terms in Congress representing California’s 36th district, will chair the commission. Harman currently serves on advisory boards for the Department of Homeland Security and NASA and was previously president of the Wilson Center. Eric Edelman, counselor at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) and a former under secretary of defense policy, will be the vice-chair. Additional commissioners include retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, the former vice chief of the Army who is now a national security analyst, CSBA President Thomas Mahnken and Mariah Sixkiller, Microsoft’s general manager for strategic defense affairs. Alissa Starzak, Cloudflare’s vice president and global head of public policy, and Roger Zakheim, Washington director for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, have also been named as commissioners on the panel.

Night Vision Strategy. Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo told reporters on Jan. 12 he expects the service’s new night vision strategy to be completed sometime in 2023. Camarillo noted Army Futures Command is still working through the strategy, which is likely to shed light on determining the projected mix of capabilities between the new Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headset and Enhanced Night Vision Goggles-Binoculars (ENVG-B). The Army recently awarded Microsoft a task order to develop the “1.2” version of IVAS, while the final appropriations bill included an increase in funding for procurement of ENVG-B, which is produced by L3Harris and Elbit Systems of America. “I think [Futures Command] is going to look at that particular development and where that leaves us in terms of the mix [of capabilities] moving forward,” Camarillo said. 

Bradleys To Ukraine. Delivery of Bradley fighting vehicles into Ukraine is likely to happen within “weeks not months,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters on Jan. 12. Ryder declined to give a specific delivery date, while noting that training Ukrainians on the vehicles should begin in Germany next week. “In terms of the Bradley fighting vehicles, while I’m not going to provide a specific date, as we’ve mentioned before those vehicles will go to Germany first so the Ukrainians can train on them as part of the combined arms and joint maneuver training that we’re conducting,” Ryder said. A $2.85 billion weapons package the U.S. approved on Jan. 6 included plans to supply Ukraine with 50 Bradleys to assist in their fight against Russia’s ongoing invasion.

GPS III. U.S. Space Force said that its Space Systems Command (SSC) has encapsulated the Lockheed Martin GPS III space vehicle 06 (SV06) within the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., in preparation for a planned satellite launch on Jan. 18 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The date is to mark Falcon 9’s fifth GPS III launch since SpaceX lofted GPS III-2 into orbit in December 2018. “Since that initial GPS launch, each Falcon 9 GPS III launch concluded with its own success story– the recovery of the booster for refurbishment and reuse,” SSC said.

Integrating Drones. Northrop Grumman said that it is working with NASA on ways to integrate large uncrewed aircraft into the U.S. National Airspace System. “The effort will focus on air cargo operations and is part of NASA’s Air Traffic Management eXploration (ATM-X) Pathfinding for Airspace with Autonomous Vehicles subproject,” the company said. Tom Jones, president of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems, said in a statement that Northrop Grumman and NASA want “to improve airspace access and transform how uncrewed systems are used to transport goods across U.S. airspace and help establish airspace integration critical to future manned unmanned teaming efforts.” Such work is to include coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, flight readiness reviews and development of a test plan for simulations and flight demonstrations, Northrop Grumman said.