Government and business leaders met in Cocoa on Monday at the Florida Space and Technology Forum to discuss plans for the post-space shuttle era. Sunshine State News reports that there was a consensus that major changes are required to adapt to a new age of commercial space flight:
“If we’re going to have Florida be at the forefront of the space business, we’re going to have to change the way we do business,” said Dr. George Nield, associate administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Amid the gloom cast by mass layoffs and the arrival of the final space shuttle external tank last week, the clouds did part over the Sunshine State to reveal a brighter future when the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of NASA’s authorization bill.
Although the measure doesn’t include everything that the Obama Administration proposed for this key electoral state, Florida officials seem fairly satisfied with it. In addition to providing a clear direction for NASA, many of the bill’s provisions line up closely with the state’s approach to the post-shuttle era, which focuses on diversifying its aerospace base and commercial space opportunities.
On September 22, 2010, the Department of Commerce â€“ Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded Space Florida $400,000 for development of a strategic economic development strategy for Floridaâ€™s Space Coast Region, to include Brevard and surrounding counties. Space Florida will provide an additional $100,000 in matching funds to the project.
On Wednesday, the Department of Commerce made its preliminary announcement for the Space Coast Regional Innovation Cluster Competition. The $35 million program will fund innovative projects to help transition laid off space shuttle workers into new jobs. Proposals are due on Oct. 15.
Florida Today has a lengthy profile of Space Florida President Frank DiBello, who is in the thick of efforts to help find laid off aerospace workers new jobs in the Sunshine State:
Before his September 2009 selection as head of the state agency that works with the space industry, DiBello spent nearly 40 years helping fledgling satellite and spaceflight companies gather investors. Of those companies, some struggled. Some thrived. And some vanished. The varied experience gave the 67-year-old DiBello a singular grounding in the financial aspects of spaceflight and a Rolodex that includes many major players in the space industry….
Work starts on jobs plan Florida Today U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez visited Central Florida Thursday as part of his efforts to develop a plan to invest $40 million to help soon-to-be-jobless space workers by bringing in industries that can put them back to work.
Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp has challenged Barack Obama to a debate over the proposed new direction for NASA during the President’s visit to Florida on April 15. In an open letter sent to newspaper editorial pages, he writes:
The president has scheduled a “space summit” in April here in Florida. The “health care summit” the president recently moderated amounted to nothing more than the exchange of political talking points. As a state, and as a nation, we cannot allow the space summit to become another political forum with no real effort to find a solution that is in the best interest of the country.
Crist backs $100m investment fund for aerospace Orlando Sentinel
Gov. Charlie Crist told a day-long space symposium today that heâ€™s supporting the Space Transition and Revitalization Act, a bill that would earmark as much as $25 million a year for each of the next five years to provide assistance for new or expanding aerospace businesses.
The bill, sponsored by Brevard Republican Rep. Steve Crisafulli and Sen. Thad Altman, would use money from the governorâ€™s discretionary business-development fund, redirect sales-tax revenues collected at the Kennedy Space Center visitorâ€™s center and tap other funding sources to provide an â€œinvestment poolâ€ to Space Florida, the stateâ€™s public-private areospace business-development agency.
At Charlie Cristâ€™s space summit, Florida space backers told to get with Obama’s program, let go of the past Orlando Sentinel
A statewide space symposium convened by Gov. Charlie Crist in Orlando on Thursday heard repeatedly from industry executives, academics and experts that Florida had to adapt to a new U.S. national space policy that favored commercial rocket companies or give up its ambitions to be a world-class launch center.
The Orlando Sentinel reports on efforts by Space Florida President Frank DiBello to turn around his moribund state agency and help stem the job losses that will hit the Space Coast when NASA retires the space shuttle:
He has canceled consultants’ contracts, fired his Washington-based lobbying firm, abandoned â€” at least for now â€” the agency’s ambitious plans to create a public-private spaceport and is cutting staff. He has also refocused the agency on projects â€” however small â€” that can create jobs and preserve at least some of the launch and high-tech rocket-processing skills that have been honed during the past three decades.
Crist visits Jacksonville to tout spaceport Financial News & Daily Record Gov. Charlie Crist visited Jacksonville Wednesday to talk to leaders of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) about the future of a spaceport at Cecil Field after the facility was recently licensed for horizontal launches of spacecraft.
Commercial Space to add 1,700 Florida jobs but figure may be high Orlando Sentinel
Sen. Bill Nelson is expected to announce in a speech on Thursday at the Kennedy Center Visitor Complex that if NASA relies on commercial rocket companies to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station, 1,700 jobs would be created in Florida to help launch the rockets and crews.
As part of his ongoing focus on growing Floridaâ€™s economy through job retention and creation, workforce training, and economic development, Governor Charlie Crist today hosted a roundtable discussion with space industry leaders. The discussion was held at the Canaveral Port Authority in Brevard County and featured representatives from the aerospace industry, as well as economic and workforce development leaders. (more…)
Crist short on details on help for Brevard during visit to Space Coast Orlando Sentinel
With the Space Coast facing the loss of as many as 19,000 jobs when the space shuttle is retired later this year, Gov. Charlie Crist came to town to check out what the state might be able to do to soften the blow.
But anybody hoping that Crist was going to throw a lifeline to a deeply anxious region was left disappointed. Crist was long on platitudes and short on specific promises.
Florida Trend Executive Editor Mark Howard has some very nice things to say about Space Florida President Frank DiBello, who was brought in to take over the floundering agency earlier this year:
DiBello, a gracious, well-considered man, has a comprehensive understanding of how the space industry ties into a host of endeavors, from agriculture and environmental monitoring to research in fields ranging from life sciences to communications, robotics and emergency management. In just a few months on the job, heâ€™s produced a master plan for the agency â€” a legally required task that his predecessor never completed â€” with the outlines of a long-term strategy.