10 months ago

Alabama operations support Boeing’s critical aerospace missions

Boeing continues to build its legacy in Alabama with new products and services that are helping to transform the future of the global space and defense industries. With more than 3,000 jobs based in Alabama, Boeing is one of the state’s largest private employers.

The company last month revealed the Huntsville-built Gateway Demonstrator, a prototype of the deep-space outpost that is key to U.S. plans to return astronauts to the moon’s surface within five years. Boeing was the only company among the five contractors selected to build full-scale ground demonstrators to base their module in Alabama at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Additionally, Boeing is the prime contractor on the core stage of NASA’s powerful new exploration rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), which will return astronauts to the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

The SLS program represents a significant portion of the work done at MSFC and the state’s space jobs and economic impact. Just as in the Apollo program, Boeing is continuing its role in building the critical stages for the most powerful rocket in the world in Huntsville.

Elsewhere, Boeing has a stake in United Launch Alliance, which recently shipped from its Decatur factory an Atlas V rocket that is bound for the milestone mission of restoring the nation’s human launch capability.

And the company’s state operations also continue to make innovative strides in systems that are crucial to the safety and security of the homeland and beyond.

This year the Huntsville site supported the U.S. Air Force during four missile flight tests, including a historic “two-shot salvo” engagement where two Ground-based Midcourse Defense system interceptors were launched and successfully destroyed.

“Boeing is proud to provide defensive and strategic systems that protect the U.S. and allied nations,” said Norm Tew, vice president and general manager for Boeing Missile and Weapon Systems.

“In early 2019, the Boeing Missile and Weapon Systems team supported four significant, incredibly challenging missile tests in less than four months,” Tew added. “It’s unprecedented, and it shows the world that this Boeing team honors our commitments to our nation’s defenders.

“This season of tests across the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) and Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile programs (ICBM) has been a clear demonstration that Boeing delivers results with integrity, quality and safety.”

EXPANDING PRESENCE

Boeing’s presence in Alabama stretches back 57 years, and today there are 3,049 employees in the state. This year Boeing completed an expansion of its location at the Jetplex Industrial Park.

The $70 million project includes the new Huntsville Electronics Center of Excellence, cafeteria and additional conference space. At this center, a team of electrical engineers and technicians who develop circuit boards for Boeing weapons, space and aircraft programs.

The company’s operations in Alabama span a wide range of research, design, development and manufacturing activities, including space and defense work, commercial airplanes and supporting services.

Boeing Research & Technology in Alabama includes hundreds of engineers who develop artificial intelligence, autonomous technologies, modeling and simulation, advanced materials and cybersecurity technologies.

The company works with nearly 200 businesses across the state and recorded making $689 million in vendor purchases in 2018, directly and indirectly supporting 20,000 jobs.

Community outreach is a key component of Boeing’s impact in Alabama as well, as the company had $1.7 million in charitable contributions last year.

“It’s hard to overstate Boeing’s influence on Alabama’s economy and aerospace industry,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“This company helped form the foundation of our state’s contribution to missile defense, space exploration and aviation advancements, and it continues to shape these industries in markets around the globe with breakthrough technologies and products.”

SPACE TRAVEL

Among Boeing’s most recent developments in Alabama are key contributions to the future of space travel.

The Decatur-built Atlas V rocket is set to launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on the Crew Flight Test mission to the International Space Station in what could be the first time an American-made rocket has carried U.S. astronauts to the orbiting laboratory since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011.

The Boeing design center in Huntsville provided all the structural design for the Starliner capsule. Additionally, Boeing’s Phantom Works division, which has an operation in Huntsville, provided the power systems for the capsule.

NASA has said regular commercial transportation using the Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to and from the space station will enable an expanded crew, more station use and additional research time.

The flights also are expected to help address the challenges of taking astronauts toward the moon and Mars.

GATEWAY DEMONSTRATOR

In other Alabama activities, Boeing built and is testing the Gateway Demonstrator at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Its design is based on the ISS modules that Boeing built and has supported for more than 20 years, except with 30 percent more habitable volume in each module.

In 2016, NASA contracted with Boeing and five other companies to design and build ground-based Gateway prototypes. It will act as a reusable moon-orbiting exploration hub, a technology test bed and a research base for government and private organizations.

“Our Gateway engineering is well beyond Systems Requirements Review maturity and leverages the flight-proven structural design heritage of ISS,” said Mark Ortiz, Boeing program manager for the Gateway Demonstrator.

The Gateway Demonstrator will enable crewed and robotic missions in lunar orbit, on the moon’s surface, and eventually to Mars.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 hours ago

OK, it’s time to start talking about opening up Alabama’s economy

The irresponsibility of the media, national public health officials and China has effectively destroyed our economy, individual businesses and American lives.

It is time to look for the exit ramp.

On March 14, Ramsey Archibald, son of John Archibald, was responsible for a completely ridiculous piece of video that rightly scared the heck out of many Alabamians.

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Archibald helped push the message that 2.5 million Alabamians would get the coronavirus, adding, “Let’s be conservative and say 50% get COVID-19.”

But wait, there’s more.

The video also makes the following claims:

  • 500,000 will need to be treated at a hospital.
  • 125,000 will need treatment at an intensive care unit.
  • 25,000 people could die

The Alabama Media Group “data reporter” painted this projection of millions getting sick and 25,000 dead as the best-case scenario.

He — and his publication — got it wrong. Big time.

But it worked. In concert with other lunatics, they declared that Alabama Governor Kay Ivey wanted people to die, or was at least cool with it, if she didn’t declare Alabama to be a “shelter-in-place” state.

After all, they just heard of such a thing and the smart states were doing it, so the dummies in Alabama should do it as well.

I, for my part, saw this for what it was and pointed out that at some point the governor’s office would cave and make the order, so she should just do it.

That’s exactly what happened.

The numbers began to change.

March 14 — 25,000
March 31 — 1,700
April 1 — 7,300+
April 2 — 5,500+
April 5 — 923
April 8 — 634

Now, this other info came from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projections.

Archibald’s info? A CBS News piece and a calculator. The projection went from 25,000 to 634 in less than a month.

The national line moved from 2.2 million to 60,000+ in that same time frame.

But the storyline didn’t reflect that change.

“People will die!” after all.

It won’t change now either.

It’s time to acknowledge that Alabama should be figuring out how to get back open for business.

Here is my suggestion how:

  1. Social distancing continues until August 1
  2. All businesses, outside of bars, restaurants and sporting events, can open on May 1
  3. Bars, restaurants and sporting events can open on May 15 with half occupancy
  4. Everything can fully open up on June 1
  5. Dates can change based on data

Why these dates?

Why not? Archibald based his on less.

The other steps we took were based on incorrect information and a guess.

Nations in Europe are doing similar things, and I thought people wanted us to be like Europe.

Give Alabamians some hope. Let them know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be optimistic, but safe. Be smart, but understand that people are suffering here.

Jobs and businesses are already lost, unemployment is through the roof. It’s time to show the people of Alabama that there was a reason for that.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

2 hours ago

Yellowhammer connects your business to Alabama consumers

After nine years, our mission remains the same: reflect our state, its people and their values. As the state’s second-largest media outlet, Yellowhammer connects your business to the people of Alabama.

Online, on the radio, podcasts, events and more. What can Yellowhammer do for you?

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3 hours ago

Ainsworth encourages Alabamians to ‘Ring for the Resurrection’ on Easter

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth is asking all Alabamians to join him in a “Ring for the Resurrection” campaign on Easter Sunday. The effort is intended to promote unity at this COVID-19 time of prolonged separation and to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion.

Ring for the Resurrection, which was created by Ainsworth, calls for all churches and individuals across the Yellowhammer State to ring a bell at noon on Sunday, April 12, in joint celebration of the holiday.

“Social distancing guidelines require us to remain apart from our extended families, church members, and other individuals on a sacred religious holiday that normally encourages us to gather together,” Ainsworth said in a statement on Wednesday. “But I realized that the simple act of ringing a bell can allow us to remain physically distant while being united in spirit.”

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“My wife, Kendall, our twin boys, Hunter and Hays, and our daughter, Addie, will be among those ringing a bell at noon on Sunday to celebrate the miracle of Easter,” he concluded. “While Gov. Ivey’s stay-at-home order, the public’s health and safety, and simple common sense prevent Christians from gathering in large groups even on the holiest of days, all of us can join together in spirit as we ring a bell to recognize that Christ has risen.”

This comes after Ainsworth earlier this week unveiled a new website designed to provide small business owners with a one-stop online information hub related to the ongoing pandemic.

RELATED: Ivey announces campaign encouraging Alabamians to pray for medical personnel, first responders

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

COVID-19 restrictions unfairly choke small business

When Mark and Susan Anderson were required by a statewide mandate to close the doors of their Dothan clothing and outdoor gear store, Eagle Eye Outfitters, they felt like it was a necessary sacrifice for the good of public health. By limiting retail shopping to essential items such as groceries, prescriptions, and fuel, the governor’s order takes a great many people off the streets.

Hopefully, it slows the spread of the rampant COVID-19 virus. But the closure is incredibly painful for owners like them: it has forced them to furlough more than 150 employees, and the massive loss of revenue will leave a mark on their business for years.

What the Andersons don’t understand was how it is fair for one of their local competitors, the national chain Academy Sports and Outdoors, to continue selling the same types of apparel and outdoor gear.

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In this case, the loophole for Academy is their small firearms counter. Guns and ammunition are considered essential under the current order. Therefore, Academy and others who carry firearms have been allowed to continue to do business — even if guns and ammunition are only a small percentage of their overall sales.

One of the unintended consequences of the mandate is that small businesses, which often specialize in a more narrow range of merchandise, are penalized more heavily than their national chain competitors.

You heard that right: businesses owned and operated by Alabamians are absorbing the crushing cost of total closure, while national chains based out of state continue to snatch up what little retail demand still exists in the downturn.

If all businesses operating in Alabama were restricted from selling non-essential goods, small businesses might at least expect to benefit from the pent-up economic demand that will exist once the mandate is lifted. As it is, demand for those goods and services is funneled immediately to the big chains, cutting small business owners out of the deal entirely.

Bob Couch of Couch’s Jewelers feels that his small business is paying a higher price than others, as well. While he is forced to shutter his 75-year-old family jewelry store in downtown Anniston, Wal-Mart is allowed to continue selling jewelry just a short distance away. Because they carry groceries and have a pharmacy, they are allowed to sell anything.

None of the small business owners I spoke with this week felt the retail sales restrictions were unnecessary, given the scope and seriousness of the pandemic. But they think the state government has picked winners and losers with a poorly-conceived order.

They are right. And the governor can correct it today if she chooses.

Vermont heard a similar outcry from its small business community. In response, it amended its closure order so that businesses that remain open to offer essentials are limited to just those sales. In a large department store that offers a variety of goods, selling non-essentials is temporarily prohibited. No more going to Wal-Mart for groceries, but then wandering the aisles looking for a pair of gold earrings or a sleeping bag.

These are trying times for businesses of every size. But there’s no good reason for our own state government to damage Alabama’s small business owners further.

None of us likes the loss of civil liberties, or the freedom to do business as we choose — not even for a day. But if our current public health concerns are so extraordinary as to require such restrictions, the least government can do is ensure that they be equally and fairly applied. Every business operating in this state — big box or main street — should bear its share of the burden.

Dana Hall McCain, a widely published writer on faith, culture, and politics, is Resident Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute; reach her on Twitter at @dhmccain.

API is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to free markets, limited government, and strong families, learn more at alabamapolicy.org.

5 hours ago

Alabama community colleges donate medical supplies to those fighting COVID-19

Community colleges across Alabama, many of which house nursing programs, are donating their medical equipment to those on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus.

According to a release from the Alabama Community College System (ACCS), many campuses across Alabama have equipment for their “simulated healthcare settings” where students train for medical careers.

“We are grateful for the daily sacrifice of Alabama’s healthcare providers and are grateful we can do our part to help serve our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the ACCS.

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The equipment donated includes much sought-after ventilators that can help treat the most serious coronavirus cases.

The community colleges also handed out their supply of Personal Protective Equipment like masks to cover the face to local hospitals.

“Much like our efforts to meet the needs of every student that crosses our paths, our colleges work every day to help meet the needs of the communities they serve,” added Baker.

“On behalf of the Alabama Department of Public Health, I am grateful for the willingness of the Alabama Community College System to grant the urgent request for the loan of their available ventilators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented State Health Officer Scott Harris.

“We are continually encouraged by the number of entities across the state that are rising to the occasion to meet the needs of the citizens of Alabama,” Harris concluded.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.