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Status of Florida Space Legislation

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space_florida_logoTALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 24, 2015 (FSDC PR) – Space Florida’s budget is in play during the ongoing Legislative Session in Tallahassee. The agency typically receives $10 million for its operations, which the House has budgeted, but the Senate offers only $8 million this year. Furthermore, the Senate’s budget language would prohibit any spending on the Shiloh launch site  until after an FAA environmental impact report is issued, vetted by Florida’s environmental agency, and a summary shared with the Cabinet and legislative leadership.

Another Senate amendent seeks to prohibit Space Florida spending for the operation of federal spaceport assets without first being reviewed by the state’s military support organizations to ensure the infrastructure will be available for military purposes. Also, the Senate would take an additional $2 million from Space Florida’s operating budget to fund Cecil Spaceport infrastructure. The House would fund the Cecil investments at the same amount, but without earmarking it from within Space Florida’s budget.

Meanwhile, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University program for high-school based Aerospace Institutes would receive $3 million in the House budget and $6.5 million in the Senate’s. And a Florida Tech space research institute would receive $2.5 million in the Senate’s budget.

FSDC 2015 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SPACE ISSUES
ISSUE/BILL HOUSE STATUS SENATE STATUS COMMENTS*
Space Florida Ops Budget ($10M) Included in House Trans. and Econ. Development (TED) Appropriations budget Senate budget includes $4M recurring & $4M nonrecurring, for a total of $8M Included in Gov. Scott’s budget request, with $4M of recurring funding and $6M non-recurring. Senate budget seeks a 20% cut to Space Florida’s longtime budget amount.
Space Florida Financing/
Investment Fund
$5 million included in House TED budget Not included in the Senate budget
Provided in 2014 but not included in Gov. Scott’s 2015 request. May be a legislative priority.
Space Transportation
Infrastructure Funding
“TIP” program funded at $15M in 2014 within FDOT budget allocation. Status unclear for 2015.
Shuttle Landing Facility Transition ($2.5M) Proviso earmark of $2.5M in 2014, and intended for two years by sponsoring legislators. Status unclear for 2015.
Cecil Spaceport Infrastructure ($2 Million) Included in House budget Included in Senate budget, but earmarked from Space Florida’s operating budget. Not included in Gov. Scott’s request, but budgeted by House and Senate, same amount as last year.
Space Industry Tourism Funding ($1.5M) Included in House TED budget Included in Senate budget Included in Gov. Scott’s budget request. Continued funding for coordination with VISIT Florida to support tourism attractions and space tourism flight business.
Florida/Israel Joint Aerospace Development ($1M) Included in House TED budget Included in Senate budget Included in Gov. Scott’s budget request. Continued funding of joint aerospace projects with Space Florida and Israel.
Qualified Defense/Space
Contractor Tax Refund
EDTS package extends application period thru 2017, local govt must pay 20% Incentive program requires statutory change to renew application window for companies to qualify for refunds.
Quick Response Training (QRT) Incentive
Supported in 2014 by Gov. Scott. Status unclear for 2015.
Embry-Riddle high school aerospace academies  $3M budgeted
$6.5M budgeted Supported by Gov. Scott in 2014 as a recurring budget item to support/expand network of high school aerospace academies. $3M was approved in 2014.
Florida Tech space research institute
$2.5 million budgeted Similar to a request from last year ($500K approved) and from 2013 ($2M vetoed).

* Note: Most budget items are subject to the Governor’s line-item veto authority.

Russia Cuts Space Spending Forecast, Dumps Super Heavy Booster

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Inaugural Angara A5 launch (Credit: Khrunichev)

Inaugural Angara A5 launch (Credit: Khrunichev)

With Russia facing a severe economic downturn, Roscosmos’ 10-year spending plan for 2016-2025 will be cut by 10 percent to 3.4 trillion rubles ($58.6 billion). A major casualty is a $12 billion plan to develop a super-heavy booster capable of lifting 70 metric tons into low Earth orbit (LEO).

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Sierra Nevada Corporation and Houston Airport System Announce New Agreement

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Dream Chaser landing at Ellington Field. (Cedit: SNC)

Dream Chaser landing at Ellington Field. (Cedit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev. (March 24, 2015) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems and the Houston Airport System (HAS) announce a new follow-on agreement to utilize Ellington Airport’s Spaceport as a future landing site for SNC’s Uncrewed Dream Chaser® spacecraft – SNC’s solution for NASA’s Cargo Resupply needs and other critical space operations.

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Roscosmos to Restart Space Tourist Flights to ISS

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Expedition 37 takes off for the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Expedition 37 takes off for the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Faced with the loss of a NASA contract to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, Roscosmos plans to restart a program to fly tourists to the orbiting laboratory in 2018:

“We plan compensating for the fall of demand for manned spaceships of the Soyuz family after 2018 by resuming short-term commercial expeditions to the Russian segment of the ISS,” Izvestia daily quoted a quarterly report posted by Energiya space corporation, the federal agency’s main subsidiary in the field of manned orbital flights.

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Air Force Releases Results of Space Launch Process Review

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Falcon 9 static fire. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 static fire. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (Air Force PR) – The Air Force announced March 23, that the phase one results of the independent review panel tasked by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James to review the process for certifying SpaceX as an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) provider.

“To ensure we are fully capitalizing on our joint lessons learned, I directed an independent review of our certification process,” James said. “Our goal was to assess not only our current processes but also to recommend improvements.”

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ESA, China Open Moon & Mars Exploration to Private Sector

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moon_rise_half
ESA and the Chinese space agency have made separate announcements opening their deep space exploration programs to private sector participation.

ESA issued a Call for Ideas for exploring the moon and Mars on its website.

Private-sector partners are welcome to join ESA in its space exploration strategy. Join us to explore beyond Earth’s horizon by sharing knowledge, capabilities, risks and benefits.

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Rover Searches California Desert for Water to Lunar Simulation

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Video Caption: Water is critical for human existence, whether on our planet or distant destinations. In support of future space exploration, researchers from NASA’s Ames Research Center are searching for water closer to home — in the desert near the Mojave National Preserve in Southern California.

The Mojave Volatiles Prospector, or MVP project, is a test bed for scientists from Ames to develop the technologies and procedures that will be needed to search for water ice and other volatiles that might be hidden under the surface of the Moon, Mars or another planetary body.

For more information about NASA Ames, please visit http://www.nasa.gov/ames

Is Brazil Ending Cyclone-4 Program With Ukraine?

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Cyclone 4 first and second stages. (Credit: Alcantara Space)

Cyclone 4 first and second stages. (Credit: Alcantara Space)

A report out of Brazil says President Dilma Rousseff is preparing to end the long trouble and repeatedly delayed Cyclone-4 program with Ukraine.

The story, written by Roberto Lopes, the opinion editor of the Journal of Defence Forces, quotes a sourcein the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Sierra Nevada Corporation and NASA Amend CCiCap Partnership Agreement for Dream Chaser Space System

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Dream Chaser landing at Ellington Field. (Cedit: SNC)

Dream Chaser landing at Ellington Field. (Cedit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev. (March 23, 2015) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is pleased to announce it has amended its current Space Act Agreement (SAA), adding a significant development milestone to the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) partnership with NASA. The amendment, which extends the period of performance through March 2016, introduces unfunded Milestone 41, Design Analysis Cycle-6 Closeout Review – demonstrating the advancement of the Dream Chaser® Space System design from a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) level of maturity toward a Critical Design Review (CDR) level.

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Ted Cruz Announces for President

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Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has announced his candidacy for the presidency. He will be seeking the nomination of the Republican Party.

Cruz has already staked out a position on space policy, arguing that NASA is overspending on Earth science research at the expense of human space exploration. This is not born out by the budget numbers; Obama’s FY 2016 budget proposes $8 billion for human space exploration vs. just under $2 billion for Earth science.

But, hey, let’s not let reality get in the way of a good campaign meme. Cruz is the space exploration candidate, which he believes will inspire school kids, restore America to its former glory, and (no less vitally) keep his constituents in Texas employed indefinitely.

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