8 months ago

Dynetics’ Huntsville-assembled X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle completes successful test flight

Huntsville-based Dynetics announced on Friday that the company has successfully flown its X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) for the first time.

While this maiden test flight occurred in November, it was not made public until now.

Dynetics is the performer for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Gremlins program. Managed out of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, the overarching goal of Gremlins is to accelerate the ability to perform aerial launch and recovery of volley quantities of low-cost, reusable unmanned aerial systems (UASs).

According to a release, the test flight took place at Dugway Proving Ground near Salt Lake City, Utah. Testing operations reportedly involved one captive-carry mission aboard a TBM, Inc. C-130A and an airborne launch and free flight of the X-61A that lasted one hour and 41 minutes.

The test objectives included:

  • Demonstrating a successful launch of the GAV from the C-130
  • Demonstrating a rate capture, wing deployment, cold engine start, and transition to stable, powered flight
  • Collecting data on GAV subsystem operation and performance
  • Verifying air and ground-based command and control systems, including data link performance and handovers between air and ground control
  • Deploying the GAV docking arm
  • Demonstrating the flight termination and ground (parachute) recovery of the GAV (demonstration system only – not part of the operational system)

According to Dynetics, the X-61A flew as predicted with no anomalies, achieving all test objectives that relate to the operational system. At the end of the mission, the engine was shut down and a drogue chute successfully deployed to terminate flight.

However, the vehicle was unfortunately lost during the ground recovery sequence due to a failure to extract the main chute.

The Dynetics team was one of four companies awarded Phase 1 for the Gremlins program in 2016. Phase 2 was awarded in March 2017 to two of those four performers, and Phase 3 followed in April 2018, naming Dynetics the top performer.

The November test flight was the next step toward the completion of the program’s Phase 3 demonstration objectives, which include a final flight test to demonstrate the ability to recover four GAVs in under 30 minutes.

“This flight marks a historic milestone for Dynetics and the Gremlins program,” stated Tim Keeter, Dynetics Gremlins program manager. “The GAV flew beautifully and our command and control system kept us in total control of the GAV for the entire flight. The loss of our vehicle validates our decision to build five GAVs for Phase 3; we still have four remaining. Overall, I am proud to see all the hard work pay off and we are excited to continue this momentum towards the first airborne recovery in early 2020.”

This test flight culminated an impressive 2019 for Dynetics’ Gremlins team. The year included a successful flight test of the docking system in February. In March, they then executed the first flight of the GAV avionics system, installed onboard the Calspan Variable Stability System (VSS) Lear Jet as a dress rehearsal for the November test. Dynetics also hosted a stakeholder’s day highlighting a live engine test in July and received a U.S. Air Force-assigned X-61A designation in August.

“This flight test validates all the engineering design work, analysis, and ground testing we have performed in the past two and a half years,” added Brandon Hiller, chief engineer for the X-61A. “We have a lot of confidence in the vehicle’s performance and overall design going forward, and the telemetry data from the flight compares exceptionally well to our modeling predictions. Our team has done a superb job to achieve first flight of this unique aircraft in such a short amount of time, and we are eager to get this new capability into the hands of the DoD.”

Footage of the flight test was also released on Friday and can be viewed below:

The X-61A was assembled in Huntsville.

Dynetics, which has been headquartered in the Rocket City since its founding in 1974, is a world-class applied research and national security solutions company, with large portfolios in the space and defense sectors. A 100% employee-owned company, Dynetics was recently purchased by Leidos for $1.65 billion in cash. The deal is expected to close this quarter.

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

Roby: Updates on Hurricane Sally, Military Academy appointment nominations

Hurricane Sally Recovery Efforts

As you know, Hurricane Sally made landfall in Alabama early Wednesday morning as a Category 2 hurricane. On Wednesday afternoon, the storm downgraded to a tropical storm but continued to produce significant flooding, wind damage and power outages across the Second District. My team and I closely tracked the storm upon its arrival, and we stand ready to be helpful with any recovery efforts in the days to come.

I have been in close communication with Governor Ivey’s office throughout the duration of this storm, and she ensured us that the appropriate state agency resources will be available to our counties and municipalities in the Second District. My team has also been in contact with leaders and elected officials across the district to communicate with them our readiness to assist with recovery efforts.

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As these efforts continue, we are gradually learning the full scale of damages that portions of our district are facing. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected by this powerful storm. Please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my offices if you or someone you know needs assistance.

Thank you to all of the linemen, first responders, rescue teams and county EMA officials for your hard work to ensure adequate cleanup and power restoration occurs fast and safe for Alabamians. Most importantly, please continue to pray for the families who were impacted by this disaster.

Military Academy Appointment Nominations

As a member of Congress, I have the distinct privilege to nominate candidates for appointment to four of the five service academies: the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The fifth service academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy, does not require a congressional nomination for appointment.

If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing this wonderful opportunity, please remember to submit all necessary application materials to my Montgomery office by October 2 at 5:00 p.m. I can nominate up to ten individuals for each vacant slot allotted to the Second District.

If you are pursuing entry to one of our nation’s distinguished service academies and strive to serve our country, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude and wish you the very best. It is because of our veterans, active duty personnel, and young leaders with hearts for serving this nation that we enjoy our uniquely American freedoms.

If you would like to learn more about obtaining a nomination to the service academies from my office, please contact my staff in Montgomery by calling (334) 262-7718. Additional application information is also available on my website: roby.house.gov/student-resources/service-academy-nominations.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

37 mins ago

Pandemic forces changes for Alabama Coastal Cleanup

Alabama’s largest one-day volunteer event will be spread out over an entire week this year thanks to the pandemic.

The 33rd annual Alabama Coastal Cleanup will begin Saturday, Sept. 19 and continue through Sunday, Sept. 27. Angela Underwood with the State Lands Division’s Coastal Section of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) said spreading the event out over eight days gives volunteers and staff the space and time they need to stay safe from COVID-19.

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“The biggest adjustment is giving people more time to get out and participate in the cleanup so everybody is not necessarily crowded in one space at one time,” Underwood said. “On the 19th, we are asking groups to send one representative from their group to pick up supplies and wear face coverings while picking up those supplies, then practice safe social distancing while cleaning up, especially if they are around people not from their household.”

2020 Alabama Coastal Cleanup will have a few changes from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The Alabama Coastal Cleanup is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, an annual effort to remove marine debris from coastal waters around the world. In 2019, approximately 5,000 volunteers removed more than 30,000 pounds of trash from Alabama’s coastline and waterways.

“I want to keep seeing people get involved every year and understand the problems we have with marine debris,” Underwood said. “I would love to see some of our volunteers get more involved in the educational aspect of teaching people why marine debris is so detrimental to our natural resources and our economy.”

This year, ADCNR has partnered with Alabama People Against a Littered State (ALPALS) to organize the event. Spencer Ryan, executive director of ALPALS, is looking forward to the event despite changes brought by the pandemic.

“We’re excited about it,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be different. It’s going to be a challenge, but we met early enough to where a lot of good plans were put into effect.”

Ryan said volunteers are needed on land and on the water at cleanup sites in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Participants will receive a T-shirt and basic cleanup supplies. Event organizers will provide masks for up to 5,000 volunteers.

“I’m looking for a huge turnout,” Ryan said. “I think people have been shut up enough. I think they’re ready to do something positive. I think the coastal cleanup each year brings that out in people.”

Organizers are recommending participants use the Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Swell mobile app to tally their debris data. Underwood said this will allow them to receive data faster than in years past.

“We normally hand out close to 5,000 paper data cards each year so that people can take data on the things they are cleaning,” Underwood said. “We don’t want volunteers to handle data cards, and we don’t want to handle them as they come back in. It just seemed like the right thing to do. We still get the data and it’s better on our resources.”

The 2020 Alabama Coastal Cleanup is sponsored by Poarch Band of Creek IndiansAlabama People Against A Littered State (ALPALS)Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR)National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)Ike’s Beach ServiceBebo’sCoastal Conservation Association of Alabama (CCAA)Alabama PowerLulu’sCity of Gulf ShoresGulf Shores Utility BoardCity of Orange BeachRiveria UtilitiesBaldwin EMCFlora-BamaEvonikCompass MediaCoast 360Baldwin County Sewer ServiceAlabama Department of TransportationALFACoca-ColaVulcan MaterialsHonda Manufacturing of AlabamaAlabama Farmers CooperativeAssociation of County Commissions of AlabamaThe Ocean ConservancyGulf Shores/Orange Beach TourismOsprey InitiativeThompson EngineeringWeeks Bay FoundationWeeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Paddle the Gulf.

“We’re the only state that does it with corporate sponsorship money,” Ryan said. “I think that’s the reason why we continue to be one of the most successful coastal cleanups in the country. Our corporate sponsors make that possible.”

For more information about the coastal zones, zone captains, start times and safety tips, visit AlabamaCoastalCleanup.com or call 251-928-9792. You can also follow the Alabama Coastal Cleanup on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AlabamaCoastalCleanup.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 hour ago

Nick Saban: Alabama football players need to buy into culture of winning

Alabama coach Nick Saban said the offense performed well at Saturday’s scrimmage while the defense identified areas that need improving.

Saban said it’s time for all players to buy into the culture of success Alabama football has established.

“It’s very important that our players sort of buy into the culture of what has helped us be successful here for a long, long time,” Saban said. “And that’s the intangibles that we play with, the work ethic that we have, the discipline that we play with, the toughness, the effort … and people having a great sense of urgency about how important it is to do their job so that their unit, their team – our team – has a chance to be successful. That means we have to play to a standard – and it’s not really anybody else’s standard, it’s our standard.”

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Hear what else Saban had to say below. The Crimson Tide begins preparing today for its opening game against Missouri on Sept. 26.

Nick Saban on Alabama’s latest scrimmage, culture of winning from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 hours ago

Gus Malzahn: Auburn football depth a positive of the COVID-19 positives

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said it’s concerning that players on his football team continue to test positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks before the SEC season kicks off, but there is a silver lining.

“When you’ve got guys out, specifically starters out, it gives other guys opportunities,” he said. “So, on the positive end of it, our other guys have gotten more reps than they’ve ever got.”

Malzahn said practices will now focus on Kentucky. Auburn hosts the Wildcats to kick off the season at 11 a.m. Sept. 26 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

RELATED: What impact will Chad Morris have on the Auburn offense in 2020?

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3 hours ago

Doug Jones, Tommy Tuberville react to passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday evening at age 87 following a battle with metastatic pancreas cancer.

A release from the Supreme Court outlined that the liberal icon died while surrounded by family at her home in Washington, D.C. She is survived by her two children, Jane Carol Ginsburg (George Spera) and James Steven Ginsburg (Patrice Michaels); four grandchildren, Paul Spera (Francesca Toich), Clara Spera (Rory Boyd), Miranda Ginsburg and Abigail Ginsburg; two step-grandchildren, Harjinder Bedi and Satinder Bedi; and one great-grandchild: Lucrezia Spera.

Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She was the second woman appointed to the Court and served more than 27 years.

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Born in Brooklyn, New York, she received her B.A. from Cornell University, attended Harvard Law School and received her LL.B. from Columbia Law School. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Edmund L. Palmieri, Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1959–1961. From 1961–1963, she was a research associate and then associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure. She was a Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law from 1963–1972, then Columbia Law School from 1972–1980 and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California from 1977–1978. In 1971, she was instrumental in launching the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Ginsburg served as the ACLU’s General Counsel from 1973–1980 and on the National Board of Directors from 1974–1980. She was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter

A private interment service will reportedly be held at Arlington National Cemetery.

The news of her passing rocked the nation on Friday night; reactions poured in from across the country, including from the two Alabamians running for the U.S. Senate in November’s general election.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) released a statement, which read as follows:

This news is a devastating loss for our country and for all those who have been inspired by the inimitable Justice Ginsburg during her long and historic career. Justice Ginsburg led a life guided by principle and filled with purpose. A true trailblazer in the legal field in her own right, she inspired generations of young women to reach for heights that previously felt impossible. Through her quiet dignity, her willingness to bridge political divides, and her steady pursuit of justice, she was a standard-bearer for positive leadership.

Her bold dissents in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Shelby County v. Holder cases are particularly meaningful to me, and to so many in Alabama and across the country. She stood for what was right and for the constitutional principles of equality and democracy that she held dear, even if it meant she was in the minority on the Court. As only the second woman to ever serve on the Court, she made full use of her opportunity to serve as a voice for women on the bench.

Beyond her legal acumen, Justice Ginsburg will also be remembered for her sharp wit, her tireless advocacy for voting rights, and her historic role in fighting for a more equal society for women across the country. She will be greatly missed.

Louise and I extend our sincerest condolences to Justice Ginsburg’s loved ones. We’re praying for them as they grieve this tremendous loss.

Republican U.S. senatorial nominee Tommy Tuberville reacted in social media posts.

“Justice Ginsburg should be honored for her service to our nation as a trailblazing attorney and as a jurist,” Tuberville said. “She fought hard for her beliefs and carried the respect of her fellow justices, liberal and conservative alike. I am certain that at this moment, Justice Antonin Scalia is greeting his old friend at the Pearly Gates.”

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