News Briefs – May 22, 2020

Raytheon to move N.M. operations to other U.S. sites

A national aerospace and defense contractor has confirmed plans to pack up operations in New Mexico and move to Arizona and elsewhere.
Raytheon Technologies Corp. will close its office in Albuquerque, N.M., where it employs about 200 people, the Albuquerque Journal reported May 19.
Company spokeswoman Heather Uberuaga said Raytheon is looking to streamline its capabilities with pursuits and programs located at other sites around the country.
She described the move as being in the best interest of customers and said the company will work with employees on individual options for employment going forward. That could include transferring to a new site or applying for different positions within the company.
All laid off workers will receive severance packages, and health care coverage will continue during the severance.
Raytheon’s Albuquerque division has worked closely in recent years with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base to develop modern laser and microwave weapons. That work will be transferred to Raytheon Missiles and Defense headquarters in Tucson, Ariz.
Raytheon expanded its operations at the Sandia Science and Technology Park on Albuquerque’s south side in 2017. The company received $850,000 in economic development funding from the state to offset the expansion costs. Uberuaga said that money has been returned. AP

Russia: Military helicopter crash lands killing all crew

The Russian military said one of its helicopters crash-landed in an uninhabited area north of Moscow late May 19, killing all crew members.
The Defense Ministry said the incident involving a Mi-8 helicopter occurred near the town of Klin, about 56 miles from Moscow. The incident may have been caused by a technical malfunction, officials said.
The ministry didn’t clarify how many crew members were on board, but said that the helicopter wasn’t carrying ammunition and landed “in a desolate area.”
The Chief Command of the Russian Aerospace Forces has dispatched a commission to the site of the incident, officials added. AP

U.S. Navy issues new guidelines after close Iran encounters

The U.S. Navy warned May 19 it will take “lawful defensive measures” against vessels in the Mideast that come within 100 yards of its warships, offering specific guidelines after a recent close encounter with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf.
Defensive measures have typically included turning a ship away from the approaching vessel, sounding its horn, shooting off flares and ultimately firing warning shots to force the vessel away. But offering a specific distance is new for the Navy.
“Our ships are conducting routine operations in international waters wherever international law allows and do not seek conflict,” said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a Bahrain-based 5th Fleet spokeswoman. “However, our commanding officers retain the right to self-defense if deemed necessary.”
While 100 yards may seem far, it’s incredibly close for large warships that have difficulty in turning quickly, like aircraft carriers.
The U.S. Navy has years of experience with Iranian forces getting that close, namely the hard-line, paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. Their armed speedboats routinely cut across their paths when going through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20 percent of all oil passes. AP

NASA exec resigns days before 1st astronaut launch in years

NASA’s chief of human exploration has resigned just days before the first astronaut launch in nearly a decade from Kennedy Space Center.
The space agency notified employees of the news May 19.
Douglas Loverro, whose resignation took effect May 18, joined NASA last October. He is a former Defense Department and National Reconnaissance Office manager, specializing in space security matters for three decades.
NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs would only say Loverro decided to resign and, beyond that, the agency cannot discuss personnel issues.
The announcement comes just eight days before SpaceX attempts to launch its first astronauts under NASA’s commercial crew program. Liftoff is scheduled for May 27.
Besides overseeing SpaceX and Boeing’s effort to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, Loverro was in charge of NASA’s Artemis moon-landing program. Just 2 1/2 weeks ago, NASA announced the three winning corporate teams that will develop lunar landers for astronauts.
Former space shuttle commander Ken Bowersox, Loverro’s deputy, will resume his role as acting associate administrator of human exploration and operations. AP

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