August 4, 2020

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First Rotary Test on Mars Is Prepped

Mars
NASA illustration of Mars rover Perseverance behind Ingenuity, a 4-pound helicopter slated to become Earth’s first aircraft to fly on another planet.

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NASA’s latest Mars rover Perseverance is scheduled to launch today, July 30, 2020, at 7:50 am Eastern. Space.com connects viewers with this historic Mars mission, the first ever to carry a helicopter into space. NASA showcases Ingenuity as the first aircraft to fly on another planet. The 4-pound helicopter hitches its ride to Mars clutching the rover’s belly, reports CBS News. A few months after touchdown Ingenuity will attempt to fly solo.

NASA reports the international partners have selected the astronauts for the second operational SpaceX Dragon flight to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively; JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are mission specialists.

The USDA and agriculture officials in multiple states have issued warnings about unsolicited shipments of foreign seeds and advised people not to plant them, reports CBS News.  The types of seeds are unknown and could be harmful and should not be planted or eaten.

The Pentagon would get nearly $30 billion under the Senate Republicans’ coronavirus relief plan, including $8 billion for weapons systems, reports The Hill. The $29.4 billion for the Pentagon is included in the $1 trillion coronavirus aid package Senate Republicans released this week. Democrats declared the bill a non-starter, and “half of the Republicans are going to vote no,” according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). But it lays out Republicans and the White House’s priorities heading into negotiations.

Three senators ask NavSec Kenneth Braithwaite about human trafficking involving US sailors stationed in Bahrain, reports Navy Times. The letter comes in the wake of a series of stories published last month by Military Times that revealed a web of investigations into sailors trafficking Thai women working as prostitutes on the island.

Several coronavirus vaccines begin the last phase of testing in 30,000-person trials, reports The Washington Post. The vaccine is being developed by the biotechnology company Moderna in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health. The trials includes giving half of the participants the shot and half a placebo. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer also announced it was initiating a 30,000-person vaccine trial, at 120 sites globally.

 

 

The Taliban say they will observe a three-day cease-fire this week during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, reports The New York Times. Afghanistan’s president has suggested the long-delayed talks between his government and the insurgents over ending the war could start in a week. The developments promise to inject new optimism into a peace process that has been floundering.

US military forces responded to a distress signal in the Mediterranean that resulted in the rescue and return to Libya of 131 migrants, reports Military Times. A US Air Force drone conducting surveillance off the coast of North Africa located the distressed inflatable boat, its motor had died approximately 50 miles northwest of Misrata, Libya. Libya has been a popular departure point for migrants since chaos and violence broke out after the death of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. So far this year, 5,775 migrants have been rescued and returned to Libya, International Organization for Migration  show. Last year that number totaled 9,225.

The Navy — like many government agencies — is taking risks with hundreds of thousands of service members and civilians working from personal laptops and cell phones, reports USNI News. To executives who do not understand the threat, according to findings from the Government Accountability Office, not recognizing “intrusions” as an “eco-system” problems, although the second highest number of hacking attempts came from inside the agencies themselves. A number of cybersecurity problems could be solved simply with better digital practices by workers.

Kodak’s stock triples as company announces pandemic plan to start making pharmaceutical ingredients, reports MarketWatch. Kodak, which has a long history of manufacturing chemicals used in photographic film, now plans to support “America’s self-sufficiency in producing the key pharmaceutical ingredients we need to keep our citizens safe,” Kodak Executive Chairman Jim Continenza said in a statement. The Trump administration’s $765 million loan to the Eastman Kodak Co. for its launch of a business making pharmaceutical ingredients sent shares of the iconic camera company soaring.

The Defense Innovation Unit selects Ball Aerospace to develop a prototype antenna for the  Navy’s new stealth destroyers. C4ISRNET reports that the  low-observable antenna will allow the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers to communicate over multiple frequency bands without compromising the ships’ stealth features. Ball will develop the antenna architecture, beamforming approach, and the prototype itself.

The Air Force could narrow the playing field of its Skyborg competition by the end of the summer, with plans to dole out awards to one or more companies to begin prototyping an autonomous combat drone. Defense News reports that the service selected Boeing, Kratos, Northrop Grumman, and General Atomics to receive indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contracts for the program. Skyborg was conceived as an drone wingman that could use artificial intelligence to autonomously traverse a battlefield, collecting intelligence and sending important information to fighter pilots.

The first woman to lead an Army component has assumed command of the Army Reserve and received her third star, reports Army Times. Newly minted Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels has been in the Army for more than three decades, previously serving as a division commander and the chief of staff for Army Forces Command.

Contracts:

Advanced Technology Systems Co., McLean, Virginia (N00039-20-D-0060); Forward Slope Inc., San Diego, California (N00039-20-D-0061); ITC Defense, Arlington, Virginia (N00039-20-D-0062); Solute Inc., San Diego, California (N00039-20-D-0063); and Veterans First Initiative, Gainesville, Virginia (N00039-20-D-0064), are awarded a $75,000,000 not-to-exceed, hybrid (firm-fixed-price, cost-plus fixed-fee, cost-reimbursable, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity) multiple award contract (MAC) for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence integrated international support services in support of U.S. security assistance and security cooperation programs. No contract funds will be obligated on the basic MAC awards. Funds in the amount of $2,000 per awardee will be obligated at the time of award on the first task order under each contract utilizing fiscal 2020 Foreign Military Sales (FMS) administration funding. This contract utilizes FMS funding from various security cooperation partners that will be identified as individual task orders are issued. Work will be performed in various overseas locations based on the requirement for each task order placed. The ordering period for each contract is five years. Contract funds that are awarded using FMS administration funding will expire at the end of the current fiscal year; any funds awarded using FMS case funding will not expire at the end of the year. These contracts were competitively procured with small business proposals solicited and 10 offers were received via the beta.SAM.gov and Naval Information Warfare Systems Command e-Commerce websites. The Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, California, is the contracting activity.

HDR Architecture Inc., Arlington, Virginia, is awarded a $13,781,605 firm-fixed-price contract to provide post-construction award services for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center addition/alteration at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland. The contract is incrementally funded with the first increment of $3,000,000 being allocated at the time of award. Work will be performed in Bethesda, Maryland. The work to be performed provides architect and engineering post construction award services for construction consultation to the government and provides assistance with technical issues that may arise in connection with the project during the construction of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center addition/alteration at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland. This work consists of responding to requests for information, review shop drawing submittals, prepare record drawings, field consultation during construction, partnering meetings and other post construction award services as needed. In addition, full time/on-site representation will be required for field consultations or participations in construction progress team reviews. Work is expected to be completed by March 2026. Fiscal 2016 military construction (Department of Defense-wide) contract funds are obligated on this award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Pursuant to the Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1(a)(2)(iii), which authorizes the use of other than full and open competition when there is only one available source, this contract was sole sourced to HDR Architecture Inc. because of their uniquely qualified position to perform the required work. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N40080-20-C-0016).

Curtiss-Wright Fleet Solutions, Chesapeake, Virginia, is awarded a $13,308,348 not to exceed, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract for labor, parts, support to installations, troubleshooting, repair and maintenance of Navy equipment manufactured and serviced by Curtiss-Wright Fleet Solutions. Equipment includes low, medium and high pressure air compressors, single stage turbines, pumps, compressed air valves and manifolds for various ship classes in support of Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division. Work will be performed in Chesapeake, Virginia (85%); the remaining (15%) will be performed in Newport News, Virginia, as determined by the individual task orders. Work is expected to be completed by July 2026. Fiscal 2017 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding in the amount of $500 ($500 minimum guarantee for contract) will be obligated at time of award via an individual task order and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 US Code 2304(c)(1); only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the contracting activity (N64498-20-D-4028).

Threat Tech-Yorktown Systems Group JV LLC, Hampton, Virginia, was awarded a $31,362,444 hybrid (firm-fixed-price, time-and-materials) contract for core functions support services for US Army Training and Doctrine Command. Bids were solicited via the internet with five received. Work will be performed in Fort Eustis, Virginia, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 9, 2025. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance (Army) funds in the amount of $19,997,056 were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Field Directorate Office, Fort Eustis, Virginia, is the contracting activity (W911S0-20-C-0007).

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