After years of meticulous planning and execution by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team, a capsule containing precious rocks and dust from the asteroid Bennu safely touched down on Earth’s Utah Test and Training Range. Lockheed Martin, the builder of the spacecraft and provider of flight operations, played a pivotal role in this historic achievement. The 8.8-ounce sample, the first U.S. asteroid sample return, is destined for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where scientists will conduct detailed analyses, unlocking the secrets of our solar system’s formation and composition. This remarkable milestone demonstrates the power of collaboration and scientific ingenuity.
“The landing was safe, recovery was a huge success, and we’re thrilled that the next phase of this mission can now begin,” said Kyle Griffin, vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin. “This particular sample return is monumental – scientists are about to open a time capsule with some of the earliest history of our solar system inside.”
Layoffs: Collins Aerospace
Charlotte-based company Collins Aerospace, a major player in the aerospace and defense industry, has announced layoffs affecting approximately 1% of its 80,000-strong workforce. These measures are being taken to realign the company’s cost structure with the ongoing aerospace industry recovery. Collins Aerospace assures it is actively supporting affected employees through this transition, though specific details regarding the timing and locations of the layoffs have not been disclosed.
Hiring: Air Force
The Air Force’s 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing is actively working to fill personnel vacancies, primarily focusing on science, engineering, and technology roles, among others. The wing, which provides electronic warfare capabilities, hired 100 people so far to address its growing mission demands. Despite this progress, they still face 386 vacant civilian positions that are expected to be filled in the coming years.
The 950th Spectrum Warfare Group, a part of the wing, is particularly in need of engineers, electronic warfare officers, intelligence professionals, and other specialists to support various aircraft and the Combat Shield effort. To attract young talent, the wing has initiated an internship program in collaboration with educational institutions and organizations, aiming to bring in security-clearance eligible individuals with cybersecurity skills. Openings to be filled are at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.
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Opportunity to Watch
Universities Space Research Association (USRA) has been awarded $13 million to support NASA’s Planetary Sample Science program, focused on training scientists in handling and analyzing extraterrestrial samples. USRA’s Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) will collaborate with NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division and other NASA-funded labs and universities to offer training events, workshops, and research opportunities in planetary and sample science, strengthening NASA’s sample science program.