6 months ago

Alabamian selected to oversee key part of Artemis Moon mission

NASA this week announced Dr. Lisa Watson-Morgan, a Huntsville native, has been named program manager for the Human Landing System. In this role, Watson-Morgan is tasked with the rapid development of the lander that will safely carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon’s surface in 2024.

That voyage, a critical milestone in NASA’s Artemis program, will pave the way for a long-term human presence on the Moon by 2028 and achieve the next “giant leap” toward sending human explorers to Mars in the future.

Watson-Morgan, a 30-year NASA veteran engineer and manager, previously served as deputy director of the engineering directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

“Lisa’s appointment to this key role not only reflects NASA’s confidence in her visionary leadership, but confidence in the proven expertise and world-class capability that define Marshall’s contributions to safely landing humans on the Moon and launching complex spacecraft to the Moon and Mars,” Marshall director and 2019 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact Jody Singer said in a statement.

NASA explained that, as program manager, Watson-Morgan will oversee testing of landing systems working with American industry partners to develop, integrate and conduct crewed demonstrations. She will further manage lunar landing system integration with the Orion deep-space crew vehicle, launched by the Huntsville-built Space Launch System (SLS), that will carry Artemis explorers to and from the Gateway lunar orbital platform. From the Gateway, which also will feature significant contributions from Alabama, explorers will board the lunar landing system for missions to the surface of the Moon.

The ultimate goal is to deliver a landing system to sustainably ferry astronauts and technology demonstrators to and from the surface, yielding new science and material resources – and leveraging the Moon as a proving ground for future Mars missions, NASA added.

Watson-Morgan began her career in 1989. Since her appointment in 2013 to the senior executive service, the personnel system covering top managerial positions in federal agencies, she has served as manager of Marshall’s chief engineer’s office, director of the Spacecraft and Vehicle Systems Department, associate director of operations for the engineering directorate and, most recently, as deputy director of that organization, Marshall’s largest, with more than 2,000 civil service and contractor personnel.

She graduated from the University of Alabama in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. She also received a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering in 1994 and a doctorate in engineering management in 2008, both from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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

11 mins ago

Alabama State Port Authority signs concession agreement for automobile RO/RO terminal

The Alabama State Port Authority and AutoMOBILE International Terminal (AIT) this week signed a concession agreement for the $60 million automobile roll on/roll off (RO/RO) terminal currently under construction.

AIT will operate the facility when completed in early 2021.

The agreement was signed at the Port of Mobile. AIT is a joint venture between Terminal Zarate, S.A., a Grupo Murchison company headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Neltume Ports, headquartered in Santiago, Chile.

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“We’re extremely pleased to see these world class services companies invest in both our region and our port. AIT’s investment will create a new U.S. gateway for shipping finished automobiles for both U.S. and global manufacturing and consumer markets,” James K. Lyons, director and CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority, said in a statement.

The under-construction 57-acre (23.06 hectares) terminal is located on the ASPA’s main port multimodal complex, and when completed, will have an annual throughput of 150,000 units. The facility is located on Mobile Harbor and is serviced by five Class I railroads and a rail ferry service with connections throughout North America and immediate, unencumbered access to major U.S. interstate and highway systems.

The Port Authority and AIT over two years ago signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the automobile RO/RO terminal.

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

44 mins ago

Doug Jones: Jeff Sessions’ recusal ‘about the only thing I think he did right as attorney general’

As the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for Alabama U.S. Senate race has heated up, the topic of then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from any investigation dealing with the 2016 presidential election has become the hot campaign topic.

At a Marshall County campaign stop earlier this month, Sessions defended his decision on the recusal, noting that it was following the Department of Justice rules and procedures. However, since then, both U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, two of Sessions’ opponents in the GOP senatorial nomination contest, have both raised the issue in the context of Sessions’ ability to serve as a U.S. Senator.

Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook), who will be the opponent in the November general election for the eventual Republican nominee, disagreed with Byrne and Tuberville.

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Jones, also a former U.S. attorney during the Clinton administration, categorized Sessions’ recusal as “about the only thing” Sessions did properly during his service as the Trump administration’s top law enforcement official.

“I do,” Jones replied. “It’s about the only thing I think he did right as attorney general. But he absolutely did that correctly. I’ve been a DoJ person myself. I was in the position of U.S. attorney, and I think he had to do that. I think it was the right thing to do. And I said that at the time, by the way. This is not something new. I said that at the time.”

“We’ll see who ends up being the nominee,” he continued. “But there will be plenty to talk about — about Jeff’s record if he ends up being the nominee. But that is one thing he and I will both agree on.”

@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.

1 hour ago

Huntsville International named nation’s best small airport

Huntsville International Airport on Friday was announced as the USA Today Readers’ Choice Best Small Airport of 2020.

A panel of experts picked the top 20 small airports in the United States to contend for this honor, and voting members of the public from around the United States chose Huntsville International as the nation’s best.

“We are ecstatic that Huntsville International Airport has been chosen by voters as North America’s best small airport for USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice awards,” Rick Tucker, CEO of Huntsville International Airport, said in a statement. “We are so grateful to our community for supporting HSV by voting. We share this honor with them and will continue to work hard to provide North Alabama and Southern Tennessee residents with even more great options at their local airport.”

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Yellowhammer News previously reported that the USA Today experts described Huntsville International as “small and easy to navigate, with an onsite hotel and a nice range of food and beverage options for an airport of its size.”

“Delta, American, United, Silver Airways and Frontier all fly into this small Alabama airport with nonstop service to 10 major destinations across the country,” they advised.

RELATED: Huntsville’s economic future is tied to our airport’s success

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

3 hours ago

Alabama workforce development program recognized as one of nation’s best, will now mentor other states

The National Governor’s Association on Thursday announced Alabama would be among a choice group of states that will mentor other states in work-based learning practices.

“Alabama is excited to participate as a mentor state in the third phase of the NGA’s work-based learning Policy Academy due to the remarkable results of our participation in Phase II of the Policy Academy,” said Governor Kay Ivey.

The five other mentor states in the program are Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington.

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The type of programs that will be worked on between Alabama and other states align with Ivey’s Success Plus initiative. Success Plus is a comprehensive effort to get Alabamians whatever post-high school education they need to be prepared for the workforce, no matter if that is a four-year degree, two-year degree or professional certification.

The specific aspects of Sucess Plus in which Alabama will mentor other states are the work-based learning such as apprenticeships and internships.

“This selection by the National Governors Association is a solid indication of Alabama’s commitment to increasing the state’s labor participation rate through the AlabamaWorks initiative,” said Ed Castile, deputy secretary for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Across the state, we are working with business and industry to expand our efforts in preparing a well-trained, high-skilled, quality workforce,” he added.

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

4 hours 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