Aerospace and Aviation

August 6, 2013

SpaceX awarded contract with Canada Space Program

Spacex, a private sector space exploration and technology company based in Hawthorne, California, has been awarded a contract for Canada’s largest space program.

The program is the ADARSAT Constellation Mission, which is designed to provide maritime surveillance, disaster management, and ecosystem monitoring capabilities. This wil provide Canada with the ability to monitor polar ice conditions, oil pills, ship movements, forest fires, wetlands and coastal changes.

The contract with Canadian space company MacDonald, Dettwiler, and Associates will transport three satellites to orbit in 2018. “SpaceX appreciates MDA’s confidence in our ability to safely and reliably transport their satellites,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and COO. “We hope this agreement is the second of many with MDA”, the company said in a press release.

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.

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July 29, 2013

Boeing moving more engineering jobs to Southern California

Boeing has announced that it will be moving as many as 300 engineering jobs from Washington State to its facility in Long Beach. According to the Seattle Times, about 375 employees are currently doing the aftermarket engineering work on modifying jets for current customers and converting aging passenger jets to freighters work that is expected to move, but some of these jobs are expected to be eliminated.

Boeing has previously announced that the company would establish new engineering centers in Southern California and South Carolina for modifying out-of-production airplanes and that about 300 jobs would be moved to Long Beach This new move, however, involves a separate group of engineers who work on modifications such as aircraft performance upgrades or interior refinishing, as well as the passenger jet-to-freighter conversions.

The Seattle Times quoted Boeing engineering chief Mike Delaney as saying “We expect the Southern California and South Carolina design centers to grow over time,” and that, “We are presently studying other potential work packages” for those centers.

Boeing’s manufacturing facility in Long Beach has a long history. Established by the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1941, during ring its the facility produced more than 15,000 airplanes, including the DC-3, DC-8, DC-9, DC-10, MD-80, MD-90 and MD-11 and 717 passenger planes, as well as such military aircraft like the C-47 the B-17 the A-20, A-26, C-74, C-124, A-4D, C-133 and early models of the C-17. In recent years, however, business has declined and Boeing stopped producing commercial aircraft there entirely in 2006, when the last 717 rolled off the line

The news was both good and unexpected. Southern California has a large number of highly qualified aerospace engineers and Boeing already employs about 1,200 engineers in the area. A decade ago, however, Boeing had 35,000 workers and was the largest private employer in Southern California.

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August 6, 2008

Space Exploration company raised $20 million

As reported in Venturebeat:

Space Exploration Technology Corp., the company created by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk and better-known as SpaceX, has raised $20 million from The Founders Fund.

This is the first time SpaceX has raised outside funding, according to the Wall Street Journal; Musk previously invested $100 million of his own money. The news follows right behind the Hawthorne, Calif. company’s third attempted launch. The launch ended in failure last weekend, when the first-stage engine didn’t separate as required. The Falcon 1 (pictured left) carried three satellites — one for the U.S. Department of Defense, two for NASA — as well as the remains of 208 people who paid to have their remains shot into space, including astronaut Gordon Cooper and actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek.

But Musk says a fourth launch is “almost ready” to go, and that the new funding is just a “precautionary measure.” Musk already has a connection with The Founders Fund, which was established by his PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek and Ken Howery. The Journal reports that SpaceX also held unsuccessful talks with aerospace company Northrop Grumman about a possible investment.

SpaceX has big goals — to make space travel, including missions to other planets, more reliable and affordable by a factor of 10. With three failed launches, it clearly has a way to go on when it comes to reliability, but apparently it’s not unusual to see these kinds of problems during the early stages of a rocket’s developent. SpaceX already has plans for 11 missions.

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October 9, 2007

Google Sputnik logo sets off conservative critics

That cute little logo that Google dresses up for special occasions is just a harmless bit of frivolity right? Like last week when they drew a little sputnik satellite in their logo to honor this Russian scientific achievement. Well not if you are a neoconservative. As the L.A. Times reported:

The Mountain View, Calif., company bathes its logo in stars and stripes every Independence Day, but last week’s decision to honor the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik launch — the second “g” in Google was replaced with a drawing of the Soviet satellite — is being blasted by some conservatives. Not only did Google honor an achievement by a totalitarian regime that was our Cold War enemy, they griped, but it did so without having ever altered its logo to commemorate U.S. military personnel on Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

A Google spokeswoman said that Google’s special logos tend to be lighthearted and often scientific in nature “We do not believe we can convey the appropriate somber tone through this medium to mark holidays like Memorial Day.” More on this silly controversy can be found in the L.A. Times report.

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September 20, 2007

Overseas flights add 82 billion to Southern California economy

Overseas international flights at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) make a substantial contribution to the economy of Southern California, adding $82.1 billion in total economic output, according to a study by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) and other organizations. he LAEDC study revealed that the LAX flights created 363,700 direct and indirect jobs with annual wages of $19.3 billion in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura Counties in 2006. Over the course of 2006, an average transoceanic flight traveling round-trip from LAX every day added $623 million in economic output and sustained 3,120 direct and indirect jobs in Southern California with $156 million in wages. The economic output, jobs, and wages were calculated from the production and transportation of freight exports (carried in the belly of the plane), the transportation of freight imports, the operation of the airport itself, and the purchases made by international visitors on the flights. Freight exports (which are generally high-value items) accounted for over 80% of the annual economic activity generated by international flights at LAX.

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September 14, 2007

Google put up $30 million for robot race to the moon

No, this is not an article from “The Onion” – it is from the San Jose Business Journal:

Google Inc. said Thursday it will sponsor a $30 million robot race to the moon. Mountain View-based Google said the race is being organized by Santa Monica-based X Prize Foundation, which is known for its multimillion-dollar scientific challenges. The grand prize of $20 million will go to the first team to get a privately funded spacecraft on the moon. Some specific tasks are also included in the challenge. Second prize is $5 million and a bonus of $5 million will go to the team that carries out other specific challenges, such as locating ice on the lunar surface. In a statement, Peter Diamandis, X Prize CEO, said the use of space “has dramatically enhanced the quality of life and may ultimately lead to solutions to some of the most pressing environmental problems that we face on earth – energy independence and climate change.”

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August 9, 2007

Flying-car developer wins DoD Contract

Moller International Inc. has been selected as a primary vendor for the Department of Defense development services, the Davis company has announced. The 12-18 month contract will not have an impact on the flying-car developer’s bottom line, Moller said. The contract will take advantage of Moller’s experience with ducted fans, manned and unmanned vertical take off and landing systems designs and high power-to-weight rotary engines.

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Virgin America Takes Off

Virgin America, headquartered in Burlingame California, has started operations today with daily flights to New York and Los Angeles. As reported in Aviation and Aerospace:

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group that owns 25 per cent of Virgin America and licenses the Virgin brand, will jet into town. Virgin America Chief Executive Officer Fred Reid, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and possibly Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger will be in attendance. Newsom and Schwarzenegger lobbied Branson to have Virgin America set up its headquarters in the Bay Area. The state also put up nearly $13 million in job-training funds as inducements for the carrier to open its corporate headquarters in Frisco.

Virgin America first set up office operations in 2004, promising to create excitement, offer jobs and create an economic ripple in the Bay Area. It took three years, but funding has fallen into place, and the Transportation Department has overcome its fright of foreign ownership and given a green signal to Virgin America’s flight plans. The airline has hired about 500 of the estimated 3,000 to 5,000 employees it expects to eventually have on its rolls. About 100 are pilots and another 100 are flight attendants. Most staffers will be based in the Bay Area.

Not all of Virgin America’s employees are in the Bay Area. The carrier uses reservations agents who work from their homes around the US. Virgin America also outsources many of its IT needs to CSS Corp, a San Jose company that further farms out the work to its outfit in Chennai, India. Justifying these practices, CSS chief marketing officer Ajmal Noorani says: “Virgin America is offering a very high-quality service at a cut-throat price, and it needs to keep its IT lean and mean.

A 10-year-old company, CSS employs just 45 people in San Jose, and 5,000 worldwide in its offices in New York, Washington, Singapore and India. It is also setting up operations in Poland and Ireland. In 2004, Virgin America received nearly $13 million in job development funding from the Employment Training Panel, associated with the California Employment Development Department, to create Bay Area jobs. Officials expect the company will use the money to retrain some of the thousands of Bay Area aviation industry workers laid off in the post-9 / 11 US airline meltdown.

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March 28, 2007

Long Beach earns recognition for effort to save C-17

“The City of Long Beach Red Team, established to fight off federal budget threats to the Long Beach-built Boeing C-17, was recognized by Trade & Industry Development magazine for its efforts to retain thousands of jobs and generate economic growth associated with the military cargo plane. ‘What the Red Team did was tell the C-17 story, that this aircraft is a national asset,’ Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said in a statement. ‘But our efforts haven’t stopped; I can tell you that every member of the Red Team remains dedicated to keeping this vital program alive.’ Trade & Industry Development, a national publication specializing in corporate growth strategies, honored the city of Long Beach with the 2007 Award for Community Impact for the way it worked with Boeing executives and representatives from local, regional and state agencies, utilities and business leaders to retain the C-17 program.”

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March 27, 2007

NASA gives Stanford $348,000 research grant

“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said Monday it awarded about $348,000 in a research award to Stanford University. The money will go to fund research on multifidelity analysis and design methods for supersonic aircraft”.

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March 21, 2007

Virgin America cleared to fly

“Virgin America Inc. won approval to begin flying, pending changes to its ownership plan. The Burlingame-based startup airline, owned in part by British billionaire Richard Branson, must replace chief executive officer Fred Reid and make other changes to its corporate structure as a condition of final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Virgin America first sought a license to fly in December 2005, when it raised more than $177 million in startup capital. But federal regulators expressed concerns over whether the airline met U.S. ownership standards, citing Branson’s involvement… Virgin America said it plans to offer low-cost domestic air service like Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp. Its first route will be between San Francisco and New York City with other routes to follow”

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March 19, 2007

San Diego Flight Training School signs MOU to train India pilots

“San Diego Flight Training International (SDFTI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Apace Consultants to begin training hundreds of student pilots from India and throughout Southeast Asia. The MOU established a framework in which students bound for India-based airlines will be referred to SDFTI for flight training, using the school’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved commercial multiengine curriculum with additional elements that meet specific requirements of India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) commercial pilot license guidelines. ‘Aviation in India is growing at a tremendous rate, but there are not enough instructors or equipment for pilot trainees,’ said Phil Thalheimer, President of SDFTI. ‘We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Apace Consultants. Our intent is to provide the best personalized training for each and every aspiring pilot.’”

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March 18, 2007

Northrupt Grumman gets $287 million to build more Global Hawks

“Northrop Grumman received a $287 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for the next production run of its Global Hawk unmanned aerial system… Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, such as the Global Hawk have played an increasing role in U.S. military operations in southwest Asia, providing continuous monitoring of activities on the ground for signs of insurgents on the move. The Global Hawk’s specs include the ability to operate at night and in bad weather. It also has the ability to operate undetected at very high altitudes… Northrop said in its news release that the fuselages would be assembled in Mississippi and shipped to its plant in Palmdale for final assembly.”

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March 10, 2007

Senators urge regulators to let Virgin America start operations

“Two U.S. Senators urged federal regulators to approve Virgin America Inc.’s application to fly, saying the airline will benefit consumers and the economy. Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and John Ensign, R-Nevada, said the U.S. Department of Transportation should approve Virgin America’s application to ‘encourage more competition in the airline industry.’ Virgin America, based in Burlingame, wants to provide low-cost domestic flights like Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp. The DOT tentatively rejected Virgin America’s application last December, citing concerns that its corporate structure did not adhere to laws limiting foreign involvement in U.S. airlines. British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson conceived of the airline and his company is a financial backer.”

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March 7, 2007

Last aircraft manufacturing plant in California may close

No one seems to know for sure, but there is great concern that California might be losing its last aircraft manufacturer. The C-17 is a huge cargo plane designed to transport large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields anywhere in the world. About 5,500 people are directly employed building the C-17 in Boeing’s Long Beach assembly line at an average pay of $65,000 per year, and a roughly equal number are employed by suppliers throughout the area. Because of a lack of orders for new C-17s, Boeing is planning significant work-force reductions starting early next year.

Boeing notified C-17 suppliers Friday that it will stop ordering new parts as it prepares to possibly end production of the plane. The company says it needs more orders to keep the assembly line going but the Defense Department did not request any new C-17s under its proposed fiscal 2008 budget. Boeing has threatened to end production before- possibly as a way to pressure the Military into ordering more planes. Analysts say orders for about 12 planes a year are needed to justify production of the plane.

According to the Long Beach Press Telegram the threat of losing the program is becoming an annual tradition. “We go through these budget machinations every year,” said Mayor Bob Foster. Robert Swayze, economic director for Long Beach said “It would be a real hit to the Long Beach economy and the regional economy”. Others were concerned about losing an entire industry- possibly forever, “This is the last production line where you are assembling an aircraft here,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. “There are no more commercial aircraft made here, and this is the last military aircraft. “In terms of a flying machine, this is it. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. You start to lose your skilled workforce, you lose your supplier network.”

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February 17, 2007

Airbus reneges on California maiden voyage agreement

Airbus has decided to make it’s maiden overseas voyage with passengers to New York, rather than Los Angeles sparking outrage from city officials who believed the company reneged on a commitment for LAX to be its first stop. Airbus had told airport officials last year that it would bring the A380 to LAX on its maiden U.S. flight if the airport expedited construction of a new gate to accommodate the 555-seat jetliner. LAX rushed to build the gate and spent tens of millions of dollars getting ready for the A380 with the understanding that it would be the first U.S. airport to welcome the giant plane. This is a “slap at Los Angeles International Airport… and the city of Los Angeles,” Paul Haney, a deputy executive director of the Los Angeles airport agency, wrote in an e-mail to the chairman of Airbus North America, “We are taken aback, to put it mildly, that Airbus is not living up to its commitment to have the A380 touch down at LAX first” he said. Los Angeles, proud of its aviation history, and always ready for an excuse to party, had planned a huge media extravaganza to welcome the first A380 test flight, hoping it would give a public relations boost to both LAX and Airbus. Airbus claimed that it instead decided to take the A380 to New York and Chicago at the request of Lufthansa Airlines, whose crews have helped test the aircraft. A Lufthansa spokeswoman disagreed, and said that Airbus “is in charge … they are operationally responsible for these flights.”

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February 15, 2007

Trimble buys German remote-mapping company

“Trimble Navigation Ltd. said Wednesday it acquired INPHO GmbH in an all-cash transaction. Sunnyvale-based Trimble did not disclose financial terms of the deal. Stuttgart, Germany-based INPHO is a privately held company that focuses on photogrammetry and digital surface modeling for aerial surveying, mapping and remote sensing applications.”

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February 9, 2007

Northrop to bid on Air Force contract with EADS- Airbus A330

Northrop Grumman Corp. will enter bidding on a contract for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-135 tanker-replacement program, KC-X, according to a report in the Los Angeles Business Journal. The $40 billion contract would replace 179 refueling planes. It is the first of an expected three-phase deal that calls for more than 500 planes and is worth an estimated $100 billion. Northrop’s partner in the project is EADS, the European maker of the giant Airbus A330, which is to be modified into a tanker called the KC-30 for this project. Northrop’s competitor, Boeing, was involved in a scandal with the Air Force that delayed the bid for two years and there were concerns that Northrop might not bid on the project.

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February 6, 2007

NASA Faked Small Business Contracting Data

“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has lost an 18-month legal battle with California-based American Small Business League, forcing NASA to provide detailed information that proved the agency had exaggerated its small business contracting statistics for 2002, 2003 and 2004. The ASBL filed the suit in San Francisco federal court after NASA refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request as well as a second formal appeal for information that revealed billions of dollars in contracts that NASA had reported as going to small businesses actually went to many of the nation’s largest defense and aerospace contractors, such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing.”

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Boeing building four C-17s Cargo Jets for Canada

“The Boeing Co. and the Canadian government signed an agreement for four C-17 Globemaster III cargo jets. The freighters will be used by Canada’s Department of National Defence. One C-17 costs approximately $200 million and is built on Boeing’s production line in Long Beach.”

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