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Space Force sees itself as a startup trying to launch a new product

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WASHINGTON — The top enlisted leader of the U.S. Space Force compared the service to a startup that is trying to be “a little bit more adventurous” than the established branches of the military. 

Speaking Feb. 25 at the virtual  Air Force Association’s Aerospace Warfare Symposium, Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman described the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force as “blue chip” organizations” and “awesome institutions” while the Space Force is more akin to an unconventional startup. 

All military services share core principles and a “desire to win,” Towberman said. “We want the things that everybody wants,” he added. But as a new branch that is being built from the ground up, the Space Force is trying to balance tradition against a desire for innovation and for doing things differently. 

Like a new startup company, “people are willing to take a little bit more risk,” he said. 

The main responsibilities of the Space Force are to acquire and launch satellites, and to train people for the operation and protection of these satellites. By virtue of what it does, the Space Force wants to attract people with digital skills and a technological mindset. That means it has to be unconventional in its recruiting and hiring, Towberman said. “We want to find that person that can learn and is excited about serving, whether or not they’ve checked certain boxes,” he said. “This allows us to find diamonds in the rough. I’m excited about this concept.”

But Towberman cautioned that being a new service doesn’t mean completely departing from tradition.  In that vein, he defended the Space Force decision announced Jan. 29 that it would adopt most of the U.S. Air Force ranks for officers and enlisted personnel.

Based on feedback from troops, he said, “the more traditional rank structure is the way to go, but want to be bold in way we use them.”

Gen. David  Thompson, vice chief of space operations of the Space Force, said the discussion about ranks has been mischaracterized. The idea that ranks have a “deep impact on culture was way overemphasized and not supported in analysis,” Thompson said at the AFA forum. “People connect first with their service. A marine doesn’t tell you that they spent their career as a captain or as a corporal, they say they were a marine,” he added. “We connect with our missions and and the things that we do, which includes all ranks.”

Thompson also pushed back on criticism that the Space Force missed an opportunity to culturally depart from the Air Force by adopting the Air Force ranks. “This idea that because we’re going to change the rank structure, somehow it has some sort of cultural significance” has no basis in analysis, he said. 

Thompson also explained why the service chose to name its members guardians, a name selection that was mocked as a knockoff of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” superhero film. The term guardian, said Thompson, “has deep heritage inside of the space community.” The Space Force was created from what used to be the Air Force Space Command, and their members were always known as the “guardians of the high frontier,” he said. 

Selling Space Force to the public

One of the challenges for Space Force leaders has been explaining to the public what the service does and why it exists. 

During an interview with astrophysicist and TV personality Neil deGrasse Tyson that aired at the AFA symposium, the chief of the Space Force Gen. John Raymond praised Tyson for his ability to turn complex ideas into easy to understand soundbites. “How would you suggest we communicate Space Force better to the American people?” Raymond asked. 

Tyson’s suggestion was to get Saturday Night Live to do a sketch where things that are enabled by space and people take for granted — like GPS, cellphones and movie streaming — are taken away “and at the end they are in a cave sending smoke signals.” 

This would not be marketing hype, said Tyson, because “everything you say that you can no longer do if you don’t have access to space would be true.”

Raymond said he liked that idea. “You work the invite, and I’ll stand with you on the SNL stage.”

SpaceNews

Source: https://spacenews.com/space-force-sees-itself-as-a-startup-trying-to-launch-a-new-product/

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Virgin Galactic unveils new spaceship for its growing fleet

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Virgin Galactic has unveiled the company’s first SpaceShip III in its growing fleet, VSS Imagine.

The spaceship showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience. Imagine also demonstrates progress toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term.

VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing colour and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space.

Leveraging a modular design, the SpaceShip III class of vehicles are built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. This third generation of spaceship will lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.

As VSS Imagine begins ground testing, manufacturing will progress on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the SpaceShip III class of vehicles is an important milestone in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.

VSS Imagine is unveiled ahead of VSS Unity’s next test flight, which is planned for May 2021.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, commented: “Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet. VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight. Congratulations to our dedicated team who worked so brilliantly to achieve this milestone.”

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, added: “Virgin Galactic spaceships are built specifically to deliver a new, transforming perspective to the thousands of people who will soon be able to experience the wonder of space for themselves. As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”

www.virgingalactic.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/virgin-galactic-unveils-new-spaceship-for-its-growing-fleet/

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

Hexcel has announced its role within the recently launched UK-based project called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) that will focus on developing high-rate manufacturing and processing technologies that will accelerate the development of new, lightweight advanced composite materials.

The composites company will join lead partner GKN Aerospace and 13 other project stakeholders in a collaboration across the UK supply chain to develop the technologies and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight, more fuel-efficient structures for sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Hexcel will contribute to the ASCEND project framework, developing a new HexPly fast cure prepreg system that will significantly reduce component processing times compared to existing aerospace prepregs.

In addition to its new fast curing prepreg technology, Hexcel’s range of Liquid Composite Moulding (LCM) products will be incorporated into the ASCEND project work packages. The project will use both HiTape advanced unidirectional dry carbon reinforcements and HiMax multiaxial non-crimp fabrics reinforcements.

The ASCEND project will allow Hexcel to collaborate with Tier 1 companies, engineers, tooling specialists, and production equipment OEMs to deliver both prepreg and liquid composite moulding solutions that meet both the performance targets and satisfy the processing requirements for high-rate automated manufacture.

The technical integration enabled by the ASCEND project partnerships will ensure a complete understanding of customer performance and processing needs, coupled with the opportunity to industrialize new technologies utilizing the extensive capabilities of GKN’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

Paul Mackenzie, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Hexcel, said “We are  proud to be part of the ASCEND program, and we look forward to working with other leading companies as we develop processes and materials that help to make the next generation of sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive vehicles possible. This project offers the perfect platform for Hexcel to collaborate and further develop our HexPly, HiMax, and HiTape technologies.”

The ASCEND partners working alongside Hexcel include Assyst Bulmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, DES Composites, FAR-UK, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, The National Composites Centre, Solvay Composite Technologies, Rafinex, and Sigmatex (UK).

Together, the group looks forward to delivering the material and automation innovations that will power more sustainable mobility solutions of the future.

www.hexcel.com

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes extends landing gear kits contract with Magellan

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes division has extended its component supply contract with Canada-based supplier Magellan Aerospace.

Under this long-term contract, Magellan will continue to supply landing gear kits and structural components for Boeing platforms such as the 737, 767, and 777.

The contract extension also shows that Magellan meets Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ cost, quality and performance requirements.

Magellan business development, marketing and contract vice-president Haydn Martin said: “Securing this major business extension for key Boeing platforms is foundational for our New York and Kitchener facilities as the aerospace industry works to recover from the impact of the global pandemic.

“The confidence that Boeing has placed in Magellan is significant and demonstrates our ability to offer our customers comprehensive and reliable solutions.”

For Boeing, the company is using a vertical integration strategy that leverages global resources in Ontario, New York City, and India.

It has also made significant investments across all its facilities regarding manufacturing technology and the workforce to enhance its competitiveness worldwide.

Magellan will deliver these kits and hardware from its facilities in Kitchener, Ontario and New York City, New York. The company will also produce an extra supply of kits to reduce production risk.

Deliveries will be made directly to Boeing’s assembly facilities in Renton and Everett, Washington, US.

Last month, Magellan signed a five-year renewal agreement with Avio Aero to supply magnesium and aluminium castings.

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/boeing-commercial-aircraft-magellan/

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ZeroAvia raises new funding for hydrogen-electric engine development

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Zero-emission aviation firm ZeroAvia has raised $24.3m in new funding to support the development of a 2MW hydrogen-electric engine.

Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Horizons Ventures, an existing investor, led the latest funding round and was joined by new investor British Airways.

Other investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ, also joined the financing.

The financing takes the company’s total private investment to more than $53m while the total funding raised is close to $74m since its formation.

ZeroAvia’s funding comes a few months after the UK Government, through the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK, announced a $16.3m (£12.3m) grant to deliver a 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft in the market by 2023.

The new funding will accelerate the hydrogen-electric powertrain development for a ten to 20-seater regional aircraft.

ZeroAvia aims to commercialise the engine as early as 2024. The company aims to enter the more than 50-seater commercial aircraft segment by 2026.

The funding will also de-risk the company ambition to power a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

ZeroAvia CEO and founder Val Miftakhov said: “This new funding, in conjunction with our other recent milestones, will significantly accelerate our path to zero-emission solutions for larger regional aircraft at a commercial scale.

“With many airlines lining up and ready to make the shift to zero-emissions, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of this technology.”

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/zeroavia-electric-raising-funds/

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