6 months ago

Alabama officials applaud major announcement from ULA and Blue Origin elevating state’s growing aerospace industry

United Launch Alliance (ULA) on Thursday announced the selection of Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine to power ULA’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket, an announcement that was celebrated by Alabama officials as boosting Alabama’s booming aerospace industry and elevating the state’s leadership position in rocketry.

ULA, which produces Atlas V and Delta IV rockets at its facility in Decatur, said the Blue Origin engine will be used in the booster stage of the new launch vehicle, which will be assembled in Alabama. Blue Origin, which was founded by businessman Jeff Bezos, announced plans last year to open a factory in Huntsville if selected to manufacture the BE-4.

“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 Kay Ivey said in a press release.

She added, “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.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, also released a statement lauding the move and the skyrocketing aerospace industry in the 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. This is outstanding news,” Shelby outlined. “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.”

“This is a true testament to North Alabama’s world-class workforce and long history of supporting our nation’s space and defense. 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,” Shelby concluded.

Members of Alabama’s congressional delegation joined Ivey and Shelby in praising the important announcement.

“No better place than Alabama to build engines and rockets!” Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-4) said in a tweet.

Local leaders from north Alabama joined in the celebration.

“Congratulations to United Launch Alliance and to Blue Origin. 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 Mayor Tommy Battle said.

Battle continued, “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.”

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

ULA is making strong progress in the development of the Vulcan Centaur, which is reportedly on track for its initial test flight in mid-2020. It said 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,” Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, declared.

“Our new rocket will be superior in reliability, cost and capability – one system for all missions,” Bruno added. “We have been working closely with the U.S. Air Force, and our certification plan is in place.”

In June 2017, Blue Origin announced that – if selected – the company would build a 400,000-square foot facility on 40 acres in Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park, to manufacture the BE-4 engine, ending the nation’s dependence on the Russian engine. The facility is estimated to manufacture up to 30 engines per year for both Decatur’s ULA plant and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket. The company has noted that it will employ up to 350 workers in Alabama with an average salary of $75,000 a year.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, explained that ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket and Blue Origin’s engines will transmit a strong message around the world about the capabilities of Alabama’s aerospace manufacturing sector.

“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,” 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.”

When Blue Origin announced the conditional plans for its Huntsville facility last year, the company said the $200 million project would begin as soon as ULA awarded it a contract.

Blue Origin said it chose Huntsville for this major project 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 (UAH), a top university for NASA research funding.

ULA said Aerojet Rocketdyne, which has a major presence in Huntsville, will provide RL10 engines for the Centaur upper stage. The Vulcan Centaur will boost American manufacturing by adding more than 22,000 direct and indirect 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.

ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service providers, having successfully delivered 130 satellites to orbit that enable global communications, provide observation capabilities, support life-saving technology and unlock the mysteries of the solar system.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

34 mins ago

State Rep. Sorrell vows to cut government waste by seeking to remove requirement for legal notices to be published in newspapers

Earlier this week on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” State Rep. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) explained his decision to vote against the Rebuild Alabama Act, which is legislation signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Kay Ivey that will ultimately raise gasoline taxes 10 cents by 2021.

In addition to polling that showed his constituents overwhelmingly against the measure to gas taxes, Sorrell justified his “no” vote by explaining that there were areas in state government with waste that could be eliminated to save taxpayers money that should have been considered before a tax increase.

One such area the Shoals Republican identified was a requirement that legal notices were to be published in newspapers.

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“You are never done looking for waste in state government,” Sorrell said. “Imagine if our state government only wasted 2 percent. It sounds like a very small number – hundreds of millions of dollars, right? There is still waste in state government. Actually, I have a bill to address that, and I’ve made that very same point. If we’re going to be talking about tax increases, we have to be talking about where we can save the taxpayers money.”

“Specifically, the bill I’m referencing is a bill that would remove the requirement for legal notices to be published in newspapers,” Sorrell added. “It’s a very expensive and time-consuming process  some of these legal notices are $1,000 — the publishing of the voter rolls every two years. The city of Huntsville spends $100,000 a year on required legal notices. That’s money they could be using to, you know, fix potholes or repave city streets.

Sorrell told APTV host Don Dailey he was still seeking a dollar figure on how much the state spends on legal notices.

“So, I don’t have a number. I’m looking for a number right now,” he added. “I have the legislative fiscal office trying to give me a number right now on how much the state of Alabama spends. This would also help municipalities and counties. But all that information, all those legal notices could be posted online almost for free. And we could be saving the state millions of dollars a year. So yeah, we’ve never done enough to cut waste in government. I’m going to continue looking for ways. I’ve only been down here a few weeks, and I believe I’ve already identified millions of dollars of waste.”

The Alabama Press Association, the trade association that represents the state’s newspapers, has long resisted any efforts to remove requirements to publish legal notices in newspapers over the years.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

University of South Alabama researchers study progression of deadly lung syndrome

Researchers at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine have developed a pre-clinical model for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a progressive disease that occurs in critically ill patients. A team led by Dr. Diego F. Alvarez and Dr. Jonathon P. Audia published the results of this NIH/NHLBI-sponsored study in the March 11 online edition of Pulmonary Circulation.

ARDS has a mortality rate of 40 to 60 percent in patients who develop the disorder, which is characterized by worsening lung function. Typically ARDS develops as a result of community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia and patients are treated in an intensive-care setting.

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“Right now there are no therapies to treat these patients once ARDS develops other than supportive care,” said Audia, associate professor of microbiology and immunology. “Our goal is developing comprehensive models to understand the disease progression and how it resolves, and then ultimately being able to use this model to test new therapies.”

Audia and Alvarez, who is an associate professor of physiology and cell biology, have been researching the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common cause of hospital-acquired pneumonia, and its impact on lung biology and pathogenesis for the past nine years, publishing numerous scientific articles on the subject.

The current study was the first to take a comprehensive look at the progression of ARDS in animal models examining effects on the lung vasculature, building upon the team’s previous work in cell cultures, Audia said.

The researchers examined two groups of rats infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa – one group after 48 hours and the other after seven days. The first group of mice displayed the clinical hallmarks of ARDS, while the second group displayed lingering effects of infection, inflammation and fibrosis seen in patients who succumb to ARDS, but signs of lung repair also were observed.

The modeling sets the stage for future research. “We don’t know whether the host response is not strong enough to kill the bacteria or if there’s something defective with the repair pathway and the patients never fully recover,” Audia said. “It’s one of those things that’s a black box. Nobody knows which part goes awry.”

He said further research could help doctors predict how patients will fare in response to an initial pneumonia infection, and ultimately lead to the development of new interventions and therapies to combat pneumonia and ARDS.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Google brings Wi-Fi-equipped school buses to Alabama town

Google is not only building a $600 million data center in Alabama, but the internet giant is helping some school kids in a small Talladega County town get their homework done.

Google announced the launch of its Rolling Study Halls program in Munford, a community with around 1,200 residents. The initiative brings Wi-Fi to students with long commutes in 16 communities across the country.

Google provides each school district with Wi-Fi through fully functional school buses, computers and onboard educators for the buses. The company says the program helps students reclaim more than 1.5 million hours of learning time that would otherwise be lost during long bus commutes.

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“It’s important for students everywhere to have access to the tools they need to learn every day,” said Alex Sanchez, a spokesperson for Google.

In Munford, six buses will become Rolling Study Halls, allowing 240 students to access Wi-Fi on commutes between 45 minutes and one hour.

Equipping students

“Innovative programs like the Google Wi-Fi school buses are allowing us to provide our public school students with the 21st-century educations that they will need to compete in the global economy,” Ainsworth said.

“Google’s Rolling Study Halls is something we know will benefit the students of Munford, and help them create the next big thing right here in Alabama,” McClendon said.

Rolling Study Halls is part of Grow with Google, a new initiative to help create economic opportunities for Americans. The program aims to give people across the United States resources to grow their skills, careers and businesses by offering free tools, training and events.

In April 2018, Google began construction of its Alabama data center in the Jackson County community of Bridgeport, in the northeastern corner of the state. Google said the data center will be a hub for internet traffic, fitting into a network that keeps the company’s search engine and its other internet-based products functioning around the clock.

The center is expected to create between 75 and 100 jobs.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and state Sen. Jim McClendon joined Google officials to announce the program’s arrival at Munford Middle School alongside students and administrators who use the outfitted buses daily during the 2018–2019 school year.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

Leaders deliver results for a stronger Alabama

Thank you to the Alabama House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate for your bi-partisan support of the Rebuild Alabama Plan. Because of your leadership, this historical effort will result in safer roads, thousands of new jobs, and a stronger Alabama.  Finally, it’s time to #RebuildAL.

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6 hours ago

Alabama Power, employees continue to support Lee County tornado relief

Alabama Power, the Alabama Power Foundation and the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO)remain committed to helping restore normalcy to Lee County and supporting the victims of the March 3 tornadoes. Company efforts began shortly after the storm hit, when crews throughout the state supported restoration efforts. Within 36 hours, all 26,000 customers affected by storms and who could take service had their power restored.

Once initial restoration and rescue work was completed, the Alabama Power Foundation and APSO volunteers joined other organizations and businesses to support community needs.

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“We have mobilized our resources – through both the Alabama Power Foundation and our employee-led volunteer organization APSO – to serve Lee County and the surrounding communities,” said Myla Calhoun, vice president of Alabama Power Charitable Giving and president of the Alabama Power Foundation. “These activities are core to our mission of supporting the communities we are honored to serve.”

The Alabama Power Foundation provided two $20,000 donations to disaster relief funds at the United Way of Lee County and the East Alabama Community Foundation. Funds will be used to support local recovery efforts.

Other volunteer efforts include:

  • APCO Employees Credit Union disaster relief account: The Alabama Power Employees Credit Union activated a disaster relief account to raise donations that ran through Friday, March 15. The credit union will work with the Red Cross to purchase needed supplies with donated funds.
  • Red Cross stations: APSO volunteers are coordinating with the Red Cross and Providence Baptist Church in Opelika to assist with sorting and preparing donations for distribution.
  • APSO Chapter donation bins: APSO Chapters across the state are accepting donations to support recovery.
  • Hygiene packs: APSO chapters are donating hygiene packs to victims.
  • Eufaula Humane Society donation: Local APSO Chapter donated $500 to the Eufaula Humane Society, which was devastated by the storms.
  • APSO volunteers at Red Cross telethon: APSO volunteers answered phones and took donations at the Red Cross’ telethon March 6.

To learn more about the charitable initiatives of the Alabama Power Foundation and how APSO members are helping build a better Alabama, visit https://powerofgood.com/.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)