1 year ago

ULA’s Alabama-built Vulcan Centaur rocket chosen for 2021 Moon mission

Astrobotic on Monday announced that it has selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket in a competitive commercial procurement to launch its Peregrine lunar lander to the Moon in 2021.

This is slated to be the Vulcan Centaur’s first launch, with development and assembly on schedule at ULA’s world-class Decatur facility.

Astrobotic CEO John Thornton in a statement said the planned 2021 launch will be “a historic day for the country,” powered by the ‘Made in Alabama’ rocket.

“We are so excited to sign with ULA and fly Peregrine on Vulcan Centaur,” Thornton said. “This contract with ULA was the result of a highly competitive commercial process, and we are grateful to everyone involved in helping us make low-cost lunar transportation possible.”

“When we launch the first lunar lander from American soil since Apollo, onboard the first Vulcan Centaur rocket, it will be a historic day for the country and commercial enterprise,” he concluded.

Astrobotic, the world leader in commercial delivery to the moon, was selected by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver up to 14 NASA payloads to the Moon on its Peregrine lunar lander in 2021. With this $79.5 million CLPS award, Astrobotic has now signed 16 customers for lunar delivery on its first mission.

“Our rockets have carried exploration missions to the moon, the sun and every planet in the solar system so it is only fitting that Vulcan Centaur’s inaugural flight will lead the return of Americans to the lunar surface,” Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, emphasized. “We could not be more excited to fly this mission for Astrobotic.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), a champion of American space exploration and Alabama’s aerospace industry, celebrated the announcement in a tweet.

The launch of this mission will serve as the first of two certification flights required for ULA’s U.S. Air Force certification process for the Vulcan Centaur. The company recently submitted its proposal for Phase II of the Launch Service Procurement’ competition.

Bruno said ULA’s partnership with Astrobotic is indicative of how the American space industry is excelling, with Alabama playing an integral role.

“This partnership represents a true ‘whole-of-government’ approach to how our nation is leading the world in space: NASA contracted with a commercial company to land on the moon, who then went on to contract with a commercial company for a rocket built to serve the national security space market,” Bruno advised.

He concluded, “This highlights the power of our American system of partnership between government and industry to solve the toughest problems and the greatest of our human aspirations.”

RELATED: ULA chosen for six missions, lauded for ‘proven safety record and on-time performance’

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

9 mins ago

Another record-shattering year: Thank you, Yellowhammer readers!

The year of 2020 will go down in history for many things, most of which we are happy to see in the rearview mirror.

In spite of the craziness of the past 12 months, the entire Yellowhammer News team would like to say “THANK YOU” to our tremendous audience whose support helped make 2020 another record-breaking year for our company.

As evidenced by our continued year-over-year audience growth, we are proud to provide a reliable daily product that resonates with the people of Alabama. From everyone at Yellowhammer, we sincerely appreciate and value the trust you put in us.

Thank you, Yellowhammer readers!

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26 mins ago

7 Things: Alabama will send National Guardsmen to D.C., authorities preparing for protests, Shelby will wait to make decision on impeachment and more …

7. Impeach Biden?

  • Now that President Donald Trump has been impeached for the second time, U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) has now said that she plans to introduce articles of impeachment against President-elect Joe Biden on January 21.
  • She said that the impeachment is important in this situation because we can’t have someone “who is willing to abuse the power of the office of the presidency and be easily bought off by foreign governments, foreign Chinese energy companies, Ukrainian energy companies.”

6. One BLM protestor and another Alabamian arrested for their role in U.S. Capitol riots

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  • Utah-based agitator and BLM protester John Sullivan has been arrested for his direct roll in breaching the U.S. Capitol. Sullivan, who had his video licensed by the Washington Post and MSNBC, is on video encouraging people to enter the U.S. Capitol, cause damage, and even tried to get cops to leave their posts.
  • Another Alabama man who was arrested at the U.S. Capitol, Joshua Black of Leeds, has been charged with violent entry and entering restricted grounds for his role during the attack. Black, who recorded videos of himself on the floor of the U.S. House, told investigators, “I wanted to get inside the building so I could plead the blood of Jesus over it. That was my goal.” He added that while he had a knife, he “wasn’t planning on pulling it.”

5. Outbreaks aren’t started by kids in classrooms

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a new study that shows K-12 classrooms meeting in-person don’t create coronavirus outbreaks, as they saw no major differences in coronavirus cases between areas that had in-person class and those that were only online.
  • The report says that the “CDC recommends that K-12 schools be the last settings to close after all other mitigation measures have been employed and the first to reopen when they can do so safely.” The CDC also noted that the structure of schools “can support adherence to critical mitigation measures to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID019.”

4. Trump was right about the virus going away after the election

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is allowing some bars and restaurants to open up for indoor dining after the state lost a court case on the matter. Cuomo’s administration is still considering challenging the ruling.
  • Chicago is also ready to open up, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the reopening of bars and restaurants “as quickly as possible” will actually lower the spread of the coronavirus because these establishments will follow rules that private parties are not.

3. Shelby hasn’t decided on impeachment yet

  • U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) hasn’t voiced how he plans to vote on President Donald Trump’s impeachment. He’s maintained that “we need to wait and hear the evidence.”
  • Previously, Shelby voted against impeaching Trump on charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. The Senate isn’t expected to take up impeachment until Trump is already out of office.

2. Montgomery preparing for protests

  • While there is talk of “armed” protests nationwide during the inauguration, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed has announced that the city is preparing for possible protests at the capitol, due to reports that there are armed protests being planned at all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol on January 17-20.
  • Reed said, “Our residents and businesses can take comfort in knowing we are taking every step to ensure their safety and security this weekend.” He added that he’s instructed, “Chief Finley and the Montgomery Police Department to use every resource at their disposal and authorized extra manpower.”

1. Alabama National Guard going to D.C.

  • Governor Kay Ivey announced that there will be 250 National Guard members from Alabama sent to Washington, D.C. to help prepare for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. This will be part of the about 20,000 National Guard members in the area.
  • Gina Maiola, Ivey’s press secretary, said that this was done “At the request of the Chief of The National Guard Bureau, General Daniel R. Hokanson.” Ivey has previously said that law enforcement is monitoring the situation as there have been threats of armed protests across the country.

2 hours ago

Point Broadband to offer high-speed fiber internet on Alabama’s Lake Martin

Point Broadband announced plans to offer fiber-to-the-premises high-speed internet for select areas on Lake Martin in Alabama.

“In today’s digitally-driven world, fast and reliable fiber internet is crucial to keep everyone and everything connected,” said Point Broadband CEO Todd Holt. “Point Broadband is thrilled to offer residents and businesses in the Lake Martin area access to some of the best broadband technology available today.”

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The fiber broadband company based in West Point, Georgia, which operates in nine states, will provide up to 1 gigabit symmetrical broadband service with whole-home W-Fi, allowing numerous devices to run around the clock.

“With more people working, students learning and families entertaining all from their homes, we recognize the importance of ensuring your home has the right resources to meet your needs,” Holt said.

Lake Martin residents can sign up or express interest at point-broadband.com/lake-martin/.

Point Broadband is partnering with Alabama Power on the new initiative. The company will contract for a portion of Alabama Power’s fiber infrastructure to help support Point Broadband’s offering of high-speed internet on Lake Martin.

“The need for greater broadband accessibility for Alabamians to continue to learn, grow business and lead healthy lives is greater than ever before,” said Leslie Sanders, vice president of Alabama Power’s Southern Division. “We’re excited to partner with Point Broadband to be part of the solution. The advanced technology of our electric grid makes it smarter, more reliable and resilient, and can also help facilitate the expansion of broadband services.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

15 hours ago

Ivey fulfills request to send Alabama National Guardsmen to D.C. for security of Biden inauguration

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has authorized the sending of approximately 250 members of the Alabama National Guard to help secure the Washington, D.C. area ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

First reported Gray Television and confirmed to Yellowhammer News, the move was made in response to a request by the head of the National Guard, Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson.

According to National Public Radio, which is based in Washington, D.C., around 20,000 members of the National Guard will be in the Capitol area to help keep the peace through the inauguration. They will come from nearly all states, per NPR’s reporting.

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The dramatically-heightened security comes in the wake of a group of President Donald Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, January 6. The violence led to the death of five people including a member of the Capitol Police.

Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, told Yellowhammer News in a statement about the National Guard’s deployment, “At the request of the Chief of The National Guard Bureau, General Daniel R. Hokanson, the Alabama National Guard has activated approximately 250 Soldiers in support of the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C.”

The activation of the soldiers comes as the FBI has warned states that protesters in the vein of those who stormed the U.S. Capitol may demonstrate in their areas over the coming days.

Ivey said at a public appearance on Tuesday that she was aware of law enforcement monitoring the situation.

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

16 hours ago

SAIL awards nearly $1 million to summer learning programs in Alabama

Summer Adventure in Learning (SAIL), a joint project of six charitable organizations, announced Thursday that dozens of organizations in Alabama that provide summer learning opportunities to children will be receiving financial support.

Forty independent programs in the state will receive a total of $898,500.

SAIL cites research showing that students from low-income families frequently lose months of reading and math skills during the summer break. The organization sets out to prevent this learning loss among low-income students by funding summer learning programs that target those kids.

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Most SAIL-affiliated programs are in the Birmingham area, though it also has six programs to whom it gives funds in the Black belt and three large programs in the Huntsville area.

“We have always known the importance of intentionally academic summer programming, but it proved more critical than ever after schools closed in the spring of 2020,” said Elizabeth Dotts Fleming, the executive director of The Schools Foundation, in a release.

The Schools Foundation is SAIL’s chief partner in the Huntsville area.

SAIL does not require the summer learning programs it funds to follow a specific curriculum, allowing a large degree of flexibility among the programs it funds.

However, all programs taking SAIL funding consent to a test of its students at the beginning and end of its run so the program’s effectiveness can be assessed.

In a release, SAIL shared that “In the summer of 2020, SAIL supported 34 programs. 14 provided in-person programs, 17 virtual, and 3 offered an at-home curriculum. Due to COVID restrictions, enrollment was down from SAIL’s normal 2,500+ students to 1,250.”

“State law requires school systems to offer summer reading camps, but leaves the implementation to each district,” remarked Mitchie Neel, the executive director of the Blount County Education Foundation.

“We know from research that how you structure a summer learning program influences how much students will learn. Partnering with SAIL allows us to meet students where they are while nurturing the whole child and bringing them up to grade level,” Neel added.

A list of the programs receiving funding from SAIL in 2021 can be found here for the Birmingham area, here for the Black Belt and here for Huntsville.

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