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As rocket renaissance grows, Alabama’s economy lifts off

America’s love affair with space exploration is back on. And while most launches are still originating from Florida’s Space Coast, many other states–particularly Alabama–are getting an economic shot in the arm from the revival.

While America’s space exploration history reached its high-water mark with the first moon landing in 1969, the current space revival is in many ways just as exciting. In the glory days, NASA was really the only player in the game, as it doled out huge contacts to its mission contractors. The emergence of private space exploration has given today’s landscape a Wild West feel. NASA is still a major player, but so is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and a host of other entrepreneurs looking for a share of the emerging free market to ferry satellites and someday people to Earth orbit and beyond with regularity.

“Recently we have seen a tremendous growth in interest and enthusiasm when it comes to space launches and exploration,” said Tory Bruno, CEO of the rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA). “Our employees and suppliers do the work that ensures Americans continue to lead the way when it comes to placing our nation’s most critical satellites in orbit.”

While Gulf coast states have enjoyed varying levels of involvement with the aerospace industry, Alabama has emerged as a leader. There are currently more than 160 aerospace companies with operations in Alabama employing more than 15,000 people.

Dynetics Inc. broke ground last year on a new aerospace testing and manufacturing complex at the ULA site near Decatur. The project includes a $14.2 million aerospace testing facility slated for completion in July and a $7.4 million hardware integration building slated for completion in December 2018.

The investment by the industry in Alabama has been enormous. ULA alone has more than 600 direct employees and its economic impact on the state last year was $285 million. In addition to Dynetics, ULA does business with nearly 200 suppliers in the state including Siemens, Rexel and The Lilly Company.

Similar to the atmosphere in the Apollo mission days in the 20th century, Washington has been a driving force of the current resurgence. In December of last year, President Trump signed an executive order that “makes it a national policy of the United States to return to the Moon, put Americans on Mars and bring renewed focus to human exploration in space.”

President Trump also issued an order reviving the National Space Council after it had been dormant since 1993. Vice President Pence chairs the council, which is tasked with advising and assisting the President regarding national space policy and strategy. The bottom line: both government and the private sector are embracing all things aerospace.

So what is the future of aerospace in Alabama? The sky is the limit—literally. After a gap of more than 40 years, NASA is getting serious about returning to the moon. The agency has been sending probes to Mars, and is working on viable ecosystems there that will set the stage for humankind’s eventual arrival on the Red Planet. A steady stream of military and commercial satellite launches will continue unabated.

With a revitalized NASA working alongside a dynamic private sector, aerospace is poised to enter an exciting, prosperous new era—and Alabama will be at the forefront of it.


26 mins ago

Alabama airman killed in WWII to be buried in Florida this week

An Alabama man who was killed during World War II is being buried in Florida after his remains were identified decades following his death.

The Pentagon says a funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Pensacola for Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Percy C. Mathews of Andalusia.


Mathew was 25 and serving on a B-17 bomber when it was struck by enemy fire while attacking a German submarine base in France on May 29, 1943. Mathews went down with the aircraft.

A statement from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says a set of unidentified remains were determined to be those of Mathews thanks to genetic testing and the work of a French researcher, Daniel Dahiot.

Mathews was a member of the 422nd Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group, 8th U.S. Air Force.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

Ex-NFL, Alabama player Keith McCants arrested on drug charge

A former defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of Alabama has been arrested on drug charges in Florida.

Pinellas County Jail records show 50-year-old Keith McCants was arrested early Monday near St. Petersburg.


He’s charged with a felony count of possession of crack cocaine and driving with a revoked or suspended license.

He bonded out of jail, but records don’t list a lawyer.

Jail records show multiple arrests since 2010. His most recent arrest was in January, for driving with a suspended license.

Court records show he faces a July 10 court date.

McCants made the All-America Team at Alabama and was selected fourth overall by the Buccaneers in the 1990 NFL Draft.

His career ended in 1995. He also played for the Oilers and Cardinals.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 hours ago

Former news production building in Birmingham sells for $1.5 million

The former Birmingham News production building has been sold for $1.5 million. reports the buyer is looking to transform the 97,000-square-foot building into a self-storage facility.


The Birmingham Design Review Committee approved the concept in February.

“As a Birmingham native we are excited to be a part of the continued revitalization of downtown Birmingham.

We look forward to providing first class service in this self-storage project for the business community and the growing residential population in the city center,” Brent Fields, one of the owners of News Properties LCC, said in a statement.

The former news production building was built in 1982 on 1.60 acres.

Alabama Media Group moved the printing of the Birmingham News to Atlanta last year.

Eddie Greenhalgh, first vice president of investments, for Marcus & Millichap’s Birmingham office, says the conversion of the building to self-storage represents a wider revitalization of Birmingham’s downtown area.

Birchfield Penuel & Associates is the architect.

Christy Roddy and William Ledbetter of Cushman & Wakefield-EGS Commercial Real Estate represented the seller, Advance Local Media, the parent company of Alabama Media Group. Greenhalgh also represented the seller.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Bill ‘Bubba’ Bussey receives heart stent, shares special moment with nurse

Bill “Bubba” Bussey, beloved radio co-host of the Birmingham-based and wildly popular “Rick and Bubba Show,” said his Friday morning procedure went well and was all smiles in an Instagram photo he shared after a successful heart stent placement.

“We are out! All good, now just a lot of recover time and being very very still. Your prayers have been heard and felt!!!” he wrote on Instagram.

Bussey is in his early fifties and was on his feet Friday, writing on Instagram that “Bubba seems to be feeling better,” sharing a playful moment with an “unnamed nurse” he helped with her “volley.”


Early this morning, Bussey said in an Instagram post with the St. Vincent’s East location stamp that he shared a special moment with a retiring nurse:

“So many people to thank for the great care I got this weekend… but this lady ‘Miss Sandra’ was retiring after 30 plus years of nursing. I was her last patient, of her last shift!! She checked my pulse on the way out the door! Happy retirement Sandra! Thanks for letting me be a part of this special moment.”

From all of us at Yellowhammer News, get well soon, Bubba!

3 hours ago

Alabama college ending aquaculture program after 27 years

An Alabama college is citing declining enrollment for a decision to ends its aquaculture program after 27 years.

Gadsden State Community College says it will discontinue the courses next spring.


School spokeswoman Jackie Edmondson tells The Gadsden Times the program was one of the few of its kind in the nation.

The program teaches students to care for aquatic life in natural and captive environments.

Enrollees work with fresh- and saltwater fish and plants in tanks and ponds.

But the program can’t support itself any longer because enrollment is down.

Statistics show 27 students have completed the program in the last five years, or slightly more than five per year.

The teacher, Hugh Hammer, says only one of the last 10 graduates is employed in the area.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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