DEFENSE AND SPACE
News wire | June 01, 2023
Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC), a pioneer in advanced rotorcraft technology, announced today that it has acquired the former Lockheed Martin Sikorsky Heliplex facility in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, which previously served as a production and delivery center for Sikorsky's S-76 and S-92 helicopters.
The company will transform the 219,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility into an advanced R&D center for next-generation Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and related enabling technologies. Notably, the company's forthcoming PA-890 helicopter, the world's first zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell rotorcraft, will be built and tested there. The facility — which includes engineering development, aircraft assembly, paint and finishing facilities, and a well-equipped production flight test and delivery center — will open its doors to employees in the fall and is expected to attract about 400 workers by 2028.
"This world-class facility will serve as a strong foundation for future growth and will enable us to expand our R&D and production capabilities as we deliver transformational vertical lift technologies to the defense and commercial markets," said John Piasecki, CEO of PiAC. "We chose to expand our development capabilities in the Delaware Valley because of its deep roots within the helicopter industry, its highly-talented workforce, and its robust supplier network. PiAC is committed to creating local jobs by fostering cutting-edge innovation and we're excited to support a community that has long prided itself on delivering aviation excellence."
"Chester County is home to some of the most talented manufacturing and tech workforces in the country," said U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan from Pennsylvania's 6th congressional district. "Piasecki's expansion into Coatesville is further testament to what many of us have known for years - Chester County is a great place to grow your business. It's incredibly exciting to see a company like Piasecki, a long-time aviation industry innovator, continue their commitment to developing new technologies like the PA-890 hydrogen fuel cell-powered helicopter right here in PA's sixth district. These advancements have the potential to transform vertical lift flight and help eliminate carbon emissions. Piasecki's Coatesville expansion will revitalize the manufacturing facilities which were formerly home to Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky Heliplex. I'm proud to support their vision and will continue to support innovations such as hydrogen fuel cell development through my work in Congress."
Piasecki's acquisition and expansion into the Heliplex facility was enabled by the strong support from Pennsylvania Governors Tom Wolf and Josh Shapiro; Chester County Commissioners; the Chester County Economic Development Council; Senator Robert Casey; and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan. 80 years of innovation — now pioneering the next generation of vertical flight
"2023 marks 80 years of PiAC innovation in vertical flight, a legacy that began in 1943 with the PV-2, the second successful helicopter to fly in America, now on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Shortly after, PiAC developed the world's first tandem rotor helicopter — a revolutionary design that has been instrumental in countless life-saving missions around the globe since WWII — and which lives on in Boeing's CH-47 Chinook helicopters," said Piasecki. "PiAC is building on this legacy with a truly groundbreaking vertical lift technology portfolio, including advanced digital flight control and flight automation technology, hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid propulsion systems, morphing aerostructures, and more. We work closely with partners in government, academia, and industry to advance these technologies and develop platform and system-level air vehicle integrations as well as conduct flight tests."
Major PiAC R&D programs currently being executed:
• Hydrogen Fuel Cell PA-890 eVTOL — The PA-890 eVTOL aircraft is the first zero-emission hydrogen-powered compound helicopter. The slowed-rotor winged helicopter is intended for use in a variety of missions including Emergency Medical Services (EMS), delivery of high-value On-Demand Logistics (ODL), On-Demand Mobility (ODM) personnel air transport, and many other commercial applications. In addition to zero carbon emissions, the PA-890 eVTOL enables up to a 50% reduction in direct operating cost and reduced noise compared with today's fossil fuel turbine helicopters. PiAC is collaborating with ZeroAvia, a leader in hydrogen-powered fixed wing aviation, to develop and implement its revolutionary High Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (HTPEM) hydrogen fuel cell technology for PA-890 and other VTOL applications. Investment from the U.S. Air Force in the ground testing of a 660kW HTPEM hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system is accelerating the development, certification, and production fielding of the PA-890 to address the needs of the military as well as the $40 billion commercial light helicopter market.
• Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) — ARES is a modular multi-mission tilt duct VTOL vehicle that can be operated unmanned (UAS) or with an optional manned flight module. ARES is designed with a small landing footprint to enable shipboard and expeditionary operations as well as provide embedded multi-mission C4I, ISR, combat, and logistics support to small distributed combat forces operating over extended distances and in complex terrain. Rapidly-reconfigurable Mission Payload Modules deliver mission flexibility that significantly reduces overall logistics footprint and cost. The ARES Demonstration Vehicle was developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin with funding from DARPA. With follow-on funding from the U.S. Air Force and Army, PiAC and Honeywell are developing and integrating a triplex fly-by-wire flight control system to initiate ARES flight testing by the end of this year.
• Adaptive Digital Automated Pilotage Technology (ADAPT™) — ADAPT™ is a flight control software package designed to achieve unprecedented improvements in safety/survivability, performance, and affordability for U.S. military and commercial aircraft. ADAPT™ exploits the inherent redundancy of control effectors present in advanced VTOL platforms and modified legacy fleet rotorcraft to automatically allocate control commands between effectors to respond to aircraft damage or to optimize the control configuration of the aircraft for increased performance, maneuverability, reduced vibration or fatigue loads, or for a weighted combination of these attributes.
About Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC)
PiAC is an award-winning developer of vertical lift aircraft. It specializes in the design, fabrication, and flight testing of experimental rotorcraft and unmanned air vehicles and has developed and flown more than 25 advanced VTOL and UAV aircraft to date. Customers include the U.S. Air Force Research Lab and AFWERX; the U.S. Army Futures Command Aviation and Missile Center and Medical R&D Command; NAVAIR; DARPA; and SOCOM; as well as leading OEMs such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing. PiAC is a recipient of numerous awards including the Presidential National Medal of Technology, Smithsonian Air & Space Achievement Award, and the prestigious Tibbitts Award for small business innovation from the U.S. Department of Defense.
PRnewswire | May 26, 2023
Stratolaunch, LLC ("Stratolaunch") today announced that it has received approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to acquire Virgin Orbit's modified Boeing 747 and its related parts and equipment, marking an expansion of Stratolaunch's air-launch fleet. The acquisition is expected to close by July 31, 2023.
Stratolaunch is a technology accelerator that enables reusable and routine hypersonic testing through world-class aerospace vehicles and in-flight test capabilities. Upon closing of the acquisition, the additional aircraft will be repurposed as a launch platform for Stratolaunch's Talon-A reusable hypersonic testbeds and is expected to be fully operational in 2024. The expansion of Stratolaunch's fleet will increase its in-flight test capacity and ability to support government and commercial customers globally.
"The addition of this aircraft is a transformational milestone," said Dr. Zachary Krevor, President and CEO of Stratolaunch. "With Roc remaining as our mainstay aircraft, an additional 747 brings expanded capabilities and flexibility to our platform. We will be able to increase both our flight test capacity and reach to become an even stronger partner to global customers."
The acquisition of the modified 747 follows Stratolaunch's first successful Talon-A vehicle separation test on May 13. During the separation release trial, Stratolaunch demonstrated clean and safe separation of hypersonic vehicles and confirmed telemetry between the vehicles and on-the-ground communication assets. With this landmark test complete, Stratolaunch will progress toward its first hypersonic flight of the TA-1 expendable testbed in late summer 2023.
Krevor continued: "The need for hypersonic testing has never been greater and we are committed to fulfilling this national imperative. We are making tremendous strides as we continue to enable the future of hypersonic testing. With the recent successful Talon-A separation test, we are excited to prepare for our first hypersonic flight of the TA-1 testbed."
The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions. Following closing of the acquisition, the aircraft will undergo maintenance and modification to accommodate its new hypersonic test mission. The launch platform will also be renamed in the coming months.
Stratolaunch's mission is to advance high-speed technology through innovative design, manufacturing, and operation of world-class aerospace vehicles. Stratolaunch designs, manufactures, and launches aerospace vehicles and technologies to fulfill several important national needs, including the need for reliable, routine access to space and the need to significantly advance the nation’s ability to design and operate hypersonic vehicles.
PRnewswire | May 23, 2023
Axiom Space and Build-A-Bear Workshop have partnered to fly a furry fifth crew member alongside the Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) astronauts. The teddy bear, named GiGi, took flight yesterday as the Ax-2 mission's zero-gravity indicator wearing Axiom Space's next-generation spacesuit.
GiGi going to space continues the tradition of having a zero-gravity indicator inside the spacecraft to provide a visual indicator when the spacecraft has reached the weightlessness of microgravity. As the fifth crew member of Ax-2, GiGi's mission is to inspire children around the world to learn about space and consider careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM).
"Axiom Space is excited to partner with the iconic brand Build-A-Bear to encourage children of all ages to learn about space exploration and our efforts to expand access to microgravity for individuals, countries and institutions to conduct meaningful scientific research," said Sandra Nelson, Vice President of Marketing, Axiom Space. "GiGi was designed and built for the next generation of space explorers who will enable us to explore beyond, build a sustainable future in low-Earth orbit, and realize the extensive science research that will be achievable with their involvement and active participation in STEAM."
Sharon Price John, President and Chief Executive Officer at Build-A-Bear, emphasized the intent of this new partnership and special flight. "Guests dream big at Build-A-Bear, and the opportunity to partner with Axiom Space as part of the Ax-2 mission and send GiGi, the furry fifth crew member, to space is a special honor that we hope inspires youth across the globe to reach for the stars, pursue adventures, and follow their passion," she said. "With Build-A-Bear's 25-year history of creating special moments, our GiGi wearing the next-generation spacesuit, has the wonderful opportunity to be part of history as the Ax-2 crew's zero-gravity indicator."
About The Ax-2 Mission
The Ax-2 crew launched to space by way of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and a Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ax-2 crew includes Commander Peggy Whitson and Pilot John Shoffner, both from the United States, and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This partnership is driven by the shared goal for GiGi to encourage youth to learn more about space exploration and consider career paths in STEAM. Young enthusiasts can follow GiGi's journey on her blog designed to help kids see themselves through her unBEARlievable experience.
"As a young cub, I was always drawn to math and science projects. After the gift of a telescope one summer, I felt connected to the stars in a way I never had before, and I knew STEAM studies were for me," says GiGi in her blog. "Now as a full-time astronomer and aspiring astronaut, I am over the Moon to be part of the Ax-2 mission. After all, it takes a lot of heart and courage to be a space explorer, and I am ready for it."
ABOUT AXIOM SPACE
Axiom Space is building history, guided by the vision of a thriving home in space that benefits every human, everywhere. The leading provider of human spaceflight services and developer of human-rated space infrastructure, Axiom Space operates end-to-end missions to the International Space Station today while developing its successor, Axiom Station – a permanent commercial destination in low-Earth orbit that will sustain human growth off the planet and bring untold benefits back home.
Build-A-Bear is a multi-generational global brand focused on its mission to "add a little more heart to life" appealing to a wide array of consumer groups who enjoy the personal expression in making their own "furry friends" to celebrate and commemorate life moments. Nearly 500 interactive brick-and-mortar experience locations operated through a variety of formats provide guests of all ages a hands-on entertaining experience, which often fosters a lasting and emotional brand connection. The company also offers engaging e-commerce/digital purchasing experiences on buildabear.com and its age-gated, adult-focused "Bear Cave". In addition, extending its brand power beyond retail, Build-A-Bear Entertainment, a subsidiary of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc., is dedicated to creating engaging content for kids and adults that fulfills the company's mission.