and 7 months ago

Alabama: The ‘backbone of national security space launch’

Since the very beginning of America’s foray into space, Huntsville has been the city behind some of the greatest technological advances the world has ever seen. From the Apollo program landing the first humans on the moon to present-day rocket technology that launches satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office, we have shown the world the strength of Alabama engineering and manufacturing.

While the Marshall Space Flight Center is widely recognized as the epicenter of space activity, important drivers of the aerospace industry can be found all around the state. More than 300 aerospace and defense companies call Alabama home and employ over 61,000 across the industry. Their ingenuity and manufacturing strength have led to over $8 billion in defense contracts in recent years.
Those of us who live in Alabama feel the economic impact directly. Whether you work for NASA, a big aerospace company, or a small business that builds tools and parts, you know that rockets mean jobs. And the impacts of Alabama-built rockets extend far beyond the jobs that put satellites and astronauts into orbit. The effects can be seen at thriving local businesses including restaurants and retail stores.

Space tourism is also an important part of this equation. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Space Camp and even the Blooming Rockets at the Huntsville Botanical Garden bring visitors from around the world to our community. It is no surprise that Huntsville was featured as one of the 52 places to travel in 2019 by The New York Times. Our spaceflight heritage is synonymous with Huntsville’s nickname – Rocket City.

Now, we are watching as Alabama’s space legacy continues to grow.

Several years ago, Congress challenged the American aerospace industry to design a new rocket for national security. This rocket would need to be able to perform more complex missions and have an American-made engine – replacing the Russian built RD-180.

United Launch Alliance (ULA), which currently builds the Atlas and Delta rockets in Decatur, decided to rise up to the challenge and build this next generation rocket – the Vulcan Centaur – here in Alabama.

Through the Air Force’s competitive procurement process for this next generation rocket, two companies will be chosen for future national security space launches.

If the Vulcan Centaur, which is currently being built in Decatur, is chosen, it has the potential to power both launches and the state’s economy. Nearly 200 supplier companies from across the state work with ULA to produce their rockets – creating an economic impact of $285 million.
One thing is clear – a win for the Vulcan Centaur rocket is a win for Alabama.

Just last week, we got a first look at the robotic welders in the Decatur. Using state of the art manufacturing techniques like this, Alabama is leading the pack when it comes to innovation that supports our national security.

As the Air Force assesses rocket development for the next generation of national security space launches, the competition has been heating up and Congressional leaders have been working to slow down and change the competition for rocket companies in their home states.

However, Washington should not be playing politics with our national security. America needs the most capable rocket. A rocket built by Alabamians in a city that has a storied history of advances in space.

Alabama has been the backbone of national security space launch for generations, and if ULA’s Vulcan Centaur is chosen by the Air Force, we will continue that strong tradition.

Jeremy Nails is president and CEO of the Morgan County Economic Development Association and John Seymour is president and CEO of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.

39 mins ago

How you can meet Jalen Hurts, other Senior Bowl players on Friday

MOBILE — With the Senior Bowl only one day away, Friday will feature a trio of free events for fans to attend in downtown Mobile.

These events follow the Senior Bowl Summit, which occurred Thursday night and was presented by Alabama Power Company and Regions Bank.

The first event for fans on Friday will be the Senior Bowl Experience, presented by Alabama Power. Hosted at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center, this 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. CT event will feature a bevy of games and activities for all ages.

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The Senior Bowl Experience will also include “Meet the Players,” presented by Coca-Cola.

“Tackle the obstacle course, time your 40yd dash, dance with NFL cheerleaders, take your picture with college mascots, and meet your favorite college all-stars from across the country at the Senior Bowl Experience inside the Mobile Convention Center,” the Senior Bowl wrote about the event.

The Senior Bowl stated that their clear bag policy will be in effect for the Senior Bowl Experience.

Following the Senior Bowl Experience will be the Senior Bowl Street Party and inaugural Mardi Gras Player Parade, presented by Wind Creek Casino and Austal USA. At 6:30 p.m., the parade will begin in front of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel. You can view the route here.

“Downtown bars and restaurants will provide specials and craft cocktails reflecting Senior Bowl Week,” the Senior Bowl outlined. “Local High School Bands will lead our players (in their college jerseys), college mascots, local dignitaries, NFL cheerleaders, as we throw candy, beads, and footballs to the crowd.”

Finally, when the the Senior Bowl Street Party and inaugural Mardi Gras Player Parade ends at Cathedral Square, a free concert featuring The Revivalists will begin.

You can still get tickets for Saturday’s game, which is at 1:30 p.m. CT, here.

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

1 hour ago

7 Things: Trump loves Alabama, impeachment limps along, driver in Rod Bramblett’s death indicted for manslaughter and more …

7. Some seem to want paroles sped up

  • After it was found that the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles was not following its own rules, pardons were stopped and then slowed. Now, some lawmakers seem to want that process to speed up, but the current leader doesn’t seem so keen on that idea, even though it isn’t his role.
  • When Director Charlie Graddick spoke to lawmakers Thursday, Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) questioned the policy changes and the slowdown in paroles.

6. Alabama teen kills three family members and then goes to school

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  • Landon Hudson Durham, a 16-year-old high school student, has been charged with capital murder in the stabbing deaths of his mother and his own two 13-year-old twin brothers before going to school as if nothing happened.
  • The bodies were found on Tuesday by a family member, but Durham wasn’t found until Wednesday morning after a member of law enforcement saw him walking on a state road. He was taken into custody without incident.

5. Free stuff for everyone doesn’t appeal to everyone

  • U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has made headlines multiple times for her plan to cancel student debt up to $50,000 for those making less than $100,000 per year if she’s elected president, but she was recently confronted by a voter for her plan that would cause a lot of students to get “screwed.”
  • The voter described how his daughter is currently in college, and that she doesn’t have student loans because he saved up to pay for her college and he asked if he’d get a refund, but Warren replied, “Of course not.” The father then said, “So you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save any money and those of us who did the right thing get screwed?”

4. Trump’s pro-life coalition

  • Friday, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is planning to reveal a pro-life coalition. The “Pro-Life Voices for Trump” will be led by Marjorie Dannenfelser, who stated, “From appointing pro-life judges to defunding Planned Parenthood, President Trump’s track record demonstrates he’s the most pro-life President in history.”
  • Trump is aiming to make the pro-life movement a huge issue in his campaign as another way to rally voters and encourage people to vote in the 2020 election, focusing on his changes to the courts that could clear the way to overturn Roe v. Wade.

3. Teen in Bramblett case has been indicted

  • Johnston Edward Taylor, 16, has been indicted for manslaughter by a Lee County judge for the wreck that killed the Voice of the Auburn Tigers Rod Bramblett and his wife, Paula.
  • Taylor’s bond in the case was previously revoked after two additional speeding tickets and one for reckless driving. His arraignment is scheduled for January 31; his trial is set to start on May 4.

2. No one is watching impeachment — everyone is already decided

  • As the boring and unwatched impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate continues, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has brought even more absurd comments to the spotlight by claiming that President Donald Trump’s conduct “puts even President Nixon to shame.”
  • Even as the theatrical histrionics continue on the floor of the Senate, it is becoming increasingly clear that there will be no witness or documents added to the trial and that it will probably be over some time next week.

1. Trump vague about Alabama’s U.S. Senate race

  • President Donald Trump tweeted out polling stats from the Alabama Farmers Federation, which showed former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions leading at 35%, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville at 31%, U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) at 12%, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore at 8% and State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) at 1%.
  • While the polling data is about two months old, Trump added in the tweet, “I LOVE ALABAMA!” Sessions’ campaign manager Jon Jones said that this shows “Republican voters in Alabama solidly back Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate race.”

2 hours ago

State Rep. Terri Collins: Why I am endorsing Bradley Byrne for Senate

After considering all the candidates, I am endorsing Bradley Byrne in the Republican Primary for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat.

Over the years, I’ve worked with Bradley on a number of issues important to our state. I’ve also been able to get to know him on a more personal level, and he is exactly the type of person we need to represent us in the Senate.

Bradley is the Christian, conservative fighter that we need in Washington to protect our Alabama values. There are a number of very troubling issues right now that really strike at the core about what it means to be an American, and we need a strong senator like Bradley Byrne who will have our back and not back down from the fight.

Bradley has been under attack recently by the Democrats for speaking out and standing up for his faith and what he knows is right. I commend Bradley for not backing down when the going gets tough.

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This past legislative session, Alabama was in the national spotlight for standing up for what a majority of Alabamians know to be true: life starts at conception. I was proud to sponsor the Human Life Protection Act, which sets up a Supreme Court challenge to Roe v. Wade and recognizes the sanctity of life. I appreciated Bradley’s support and encouragement as we went through the fight to pass the bill.

It was a fight, but Alabamians don’t back down from a challenge when the going gets tough. We fight for what we know is right. As a sixth-generation Alabamian, I know Bradley has that fighting spirit in his blood. We need Bradley in the Senate to fight for our rights, fight for the sanctity of life and to get us back to the foundational values that have made America so great.

Bradley has also been standing up for life in Congress. He is a pro-life champion who has consistently voted to protect the unborn, defund Planned Parenthood and make sure that all human life is protected. Bradley has a 100% record with National Right to Life and an A rating from Susan B. Anthony List, a leading pro-life organization.

Bradley and I want the same things for this state. We want Alabama to be a prosperous place to live, work and raise a family. Bradley understands and knows how to get the job done. On day one, he will be ready to go to work for Alabama, and I know he will serve our state well for many years.

I’ve seen Bradley go through fights before – just as we were in a fight over the pro-life bill last year – and I can say that no one is better prepared for the fight in the Senate than Bradley.

So, I encourage everyone to join me in voting for pro-life champion Byrne for U.S. Senate. He is the Christian, conservative fighter that will make Alabama proud.

Terri Collins is a state representative from Decatur

3 hours ago

NASA’s Space Launch System positioned for key testing phase

The rocket which will return Americans to the Moon is now in place for a key testing phase. Known as “Green Run,” this series of tests will examine many of the rocket’s systems together for the first time in preparation for launch.

Now secured to a test stand at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the full Green Run for Space Launch System (SLS) will last about two months.

“This critical test series will demonstrate the rocket’s core stage propulsion system is ready for launch on missions to deep space,” Stennis director Rick Gilbrech said. “The countdown to this nation’s next great era of space exploration is moving ahead.”

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Developed by Boeing in Huntsville, and powered by four Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines, SLS is the most powerful rocket ever built. It stands 212 feet high and 27.6 feet in diameter.

“Delivering the Space Launch System rocket core stage to Stennis for testing is an epic historical milestone,” said SLS stages manager Julie Bassler. “My team looks forward to bringing this flight hardware to life and conducting this vital test that will demonstrate the ability to provide 2 million pounds of thrust to send the Artemis I mission to space.”

The Green Run culminates with an eight-minute, full-duration hot fire of the stage’s four RS-25 engines to replicate the 2 million pounds of thrust required at launch.

Once the Green Run is complete, the next time the RS-25 engines fire up will be at launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Before the rocket arrived in Mississippi, Boeing SLS vice president and program manager John Shannon noted that the engine tests at Stennis will reveal even more information about the vehicle’s systems.

“The next big unknown for the program is when we put together the cryogenic liquids and oxygen tank and hydrogen tank and we look at the plumbing and all the systems and make sure they remain tight and perform as expected,” Shannon outlined. “We have high confidence that they will.”

Once the next round of tests concludes, the rockets are refurbished before the 10-12 day trip to Florida.

Shannon estimated that refurbishment will primarily involve inspections. He stated that in “a high vibration, high acoustic environment,” the question for team members becomes “did we break anything?” He cited thermal protection fixes as something that will need to be done because the fuel tank contracts when cold cryogenics are loaded in it, then expands again as it warms back up.

“By the time we take this vehicle to Kennedy Space Center it will be an extremely well-understood vehicle and we’ll have really high confidence in flying it,” Shannon concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

Hurts on Saban: ‘He’s been nothing but supportive’ — ‘It was great to see him’

MOBILE — Following the Hallmark-like reunion of University of Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and his former star quarterback Jalen Hurts on Wednesday at a Senior Bowl Week practice, Hurts spoke about how much the moment meant to him.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Hurts recounted what was said between himself and the legendary coach.

Asked by one of the interviewers about Saban visibly laughing during the reunion, Hurts explained, “Well, I was walking over there, talking to Ellis [Ponder], he’s the [football] operations guy at Alabama. And I was saying, ‘Coach is going to smile when I walk over to him.'”

Indeed, Saban was all smiles.

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“And he smiled,” Hurts continued. “And I go, ‘Coach, I haven’t seen that smile in a long time.'”

“So, it was good to see him,” he concluded. “You know, Coach Saban and I have a really great relationship. We’ve been in touch throughout the season, and he’s been nothing but supportive for me. It was great to see him.”

You can watch the Yahoo interview here.

Saban told reporters on Wednesday before the reunion that he still considers Hurts as one of his players and a member of the Crimson Tide family.

Hurts is playing for the South Team during the Senior Bowl, along with outgoing Bama players Jared Mayden, Terrell Lewis and Afernee Jennings. Those four players and Saban took a group picture together on Wednesday.

Hurts on Monday was presented with a two-sided helmet ahead of Saturday’s Senior Bowl game; one side is a replica of his iconic No. 2 Bama helmet, and the other has the Oklahoma Sooners logo on it. That special helmet, however, will be preserved by Hurts rather than worn during the game.

Get tickets to Saturday’s Senior Bowl game here.

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