Ups and downs of a major project

David Tortorano
August 2019

The news from Tallahassee in June was discouraging for people in Pensacola.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $131 million of proposed spending from this year's
budget, including $1.5 million for the expansion of the ST Aerospace maintenance,
repair and overhaul campus at Pensacola International Airport.

ST Engineering already has one hangar at the airport, but the $210 million project
will add three additional hangars and supporting buildings.

Pensacola City Administrator Chris Holley said the state has been helpful with the
project, and it's hard to be critical of a veto over $1.5 million when the state came up
with money from the Department of Transportation a few months back to move the
project forward.

Holley said the project, expected to create 1,300 jobs, has a five-year time frame for
build-out, enough time he said to go back to the Legislature.

Then came some good news. in July the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic
Development Administration opted to invest $12.25 million in the city of Pensacola to
help establish a new aircraft maintenance training facility at the airport.

The money will be matched by more than $36 million in local and state funds. The
new facility, a 175,000 square foot hangar, will be used for commercial and
technological aviation and will create 400 jobs.

ST Engineering said the new facility will have state of the art technology including
robotic delivery systems. The building will be able to withstand winds of 170 mph.

Mayor Grover Robinson it’s all part of “Project Titan,” which will eventually include
four hangars - the one already operating, the one announced for training and two

The new hangar will be similar to the first, but a significant difference will be the
attachment of a 65,000 square-foot support services center.

“The Support Services Center will enclose all of our customer reps’ offices; it will
have our engineering areas, it will have our procurement, our logistics management
will be there,” said Bill Hafner, president of ST Engineering in Mobile, Ala.

With a project this big, there will be plenty of bumps along the way. But if anything,
those who have pushed for this project have been persistent.

The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) and Andrews
Research and Educations Foundation (AREF) in June announced they are
partnering on research projects.

They signed an agreement to collaborate on human-performance research. IHMC
and AREF will share office and lab spaces at their Pensacola and Gulf Breeze

The scientists and doctors will collaborate on research into area ranging from
optimizing physical and cognitive performance to developing technologies aimed at
helping high-performing humans like professional athletes, astronauts and fighter

They'll work together to study ways to help human movement, vision and reaction in
extreme environments. Immediate plans include IHMC and AREF personnel working
together on current research projects as well as developing proposals for future
projects and grants.

The show will go on.

After considering canceling a planned full-duration test-firing of the Space Launch
System (SLS) core stage in Mississippi ahead of the heavy-lift rocket’s first flight,
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the agency will press ahead with the
eight-minute test next year.

He cited safety and reliability benefits for future astronauts riding on the launcher on
missions to the moon. The first SLS test flight, carrying an unpiloted Orion crew
capsule to lunar orbit, is set for blastoff in 2021 from pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy
Space Center in Florida.

For more than half a decade, workers at NASA’s Stennis Space Center (SSC) in
southern Mississippi have modified and outfitted the B-2 test stand — previously
used for Saturn V, space shuttle and Delta IV rocket testing — to accommodate the
212-foot-tall, 27.6-foot-wide SLS core stage.

The mission is designated Artemis 1, the first flight in NASA’s Artemis program to
return astronauts to the moon as a stepping stone toward eventual expeditions to
Mars. NASA has planned the so-called “green run” test of the SLS core stage since
the program’s genesis in 2011.

(Compiled from Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor daily news feed from mid-June to mid-
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