Cornwall Expects Big — Maybe Too Big — Things From Newquay Spaceport

There’s some news from Cornwall on the spaceport front:

Cornwall Council has admitted that it is ‘anticipating a positive announcement’ on the bid to have the UK’s first spaceport in Newquay bringing thousands of new jobs and an £1bn a year into the local economy.

Newquay is among eight UK sites vying to become the first spaceport in Europe as the Government aims to meet the growing interest in space tourism.

The Government is expected to announce the location of the spaceport at the Farnborough Air Show which starts on July 16.

If successful, horizontal rocket launches could take place from Newquay , which has one of the longest runways in the country, to see small size satellites put into orbit. The space sector could be worth more than £1 billion by 2030, which is more than 10 per cent of the current economy.

Editor’s Note:  It looks like somebody’s got spaceport fever. Also known as Richardson Syndrome, it is a very serious condition that leads people to do and say all sorts of crazy (and often expensive) things. The only cure for that is reviewing the history of commercial spaceports. Preferable with a couple of pints on hand, which you’ll need once you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into.

I’ve lived for six years near Mojave spaceport, which hasn’t seen a spaceflight in almost 14 years.  Small rocket launches aside, Spaceport America has stayed largely idle since they dedicated the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space way back in 2011. (You don’t need to spend $225 million to launch sounding rockets.) Midland’s spaceport dreams expired when XCOR and Orbital outfitters did. Burns Flat in Oklahoma never saw a launch. Florida’s Cecil Airport is still waiting for its first spaceflight.

Maybe things will be different in Cornwall. Maybe they’ll catch a wave. Maybe the timing is finally right. I don’t know. You never say never in this business.

It’s great that they’re willing to pursue this, but they need to manage expectations. And not go giving things away on sketchy promises. One thing that helps is Newquay won’t be dependent on its space business. It’s not like they’re building a spaceport in suburban nowhere and waiting on something that is always 12 to 18 months away.

Gov. Scott Vetoes $6.3 Million in Space-Related Spending

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed nearly $6.3 million in funding for a half dozen space-related projects and organizations in the state’s FY 2016 budget. The vetoes include $1.5 million for infrastructure projects at the Cecil Field Spaceport and a $500,000 matching grant for the FAA Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Exploration.

The full list of vetoed space funding items follows.

Florida Institute of Technology Space Research Institute$2,500,000
Cecil Field Spaceport Infrastructure$1,500,000
Educational Aerospace Partnership Center$1,000,000
Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast$   596,000
FAA Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Exploration$   500,000
US Space Walk of Fame Foundation$   200,000

A Final Accounting of Florida Space Spending

space_florida_logoThe good folks at the Florida Space Development Council have provided this handy final report on the fates of space initiatives during the current legislative session. It was a good session overall, with most objectives achieved.

In all, Gov. Rick Scott approved $22 million in space spending, includes funding for Space Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida Institute of Technology, Cecil Field Spaceport, Shuttle Landing Facility, space tourism marketing, and a partnership with Israel. The spending package also includes millions of dollars for infrastructure improvements and economic development incentives for companies relocating or expanding in Florida.

Space Florida Ops Budget ($10 Million)Funded at $14.5M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $14.5M in Senate/House conference budgetSigned by governor.
Space Florida Financing/Investment Fund ($7M)Funded at $5M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $5M in Senate/House conference budgetSigned by governor. $2M less than in 2013. Funding for financing deals for aerospace expansion projects.
Space Transportation Infrastructure Funding ($20M)$20M is in FDOT annual work program through 2018$20M is in FDOT annual work program through 2018Continued funding within FDOT budget for “TIP” program. $15M minimum is included in FDOT budget allocation.
Shuttle Landing Facility Transition ($2.5M)Allowed in Financing/
Investment Fund line (above)
Allowed in Financing/
Investment Fund line (above)
Proviso earmark. Funding to transition/promote SLF for new commercial and govt users. $2.5M/year for two years suggested.
Cecil Field Spaceport Infrastructure ($2M)Added to Space Florida ops budgetAdded to Space Florida ops budgetProviso addition. Funding for Cecil Field spaceport infrastructure. Added to budget in conference committee.
Space Industry Tourism Funding ($1.5M)Fully funded within Space Florida ops budgetFully funded within Space Florida ops budgetSigned by governor. Recurring budget item to support tourism attractions and space tourism flight business.
Israel Joint Aerospace Development ($1M)Fully funded within Space Florida ops budgetFully funded within Space Florida ops budgetSigned by governor. Continued funding of joint aerospace projects with Space Florida and Israel. Included in Gov’s budget request.
Quick Response Training (QRT) Incentive ($12M)Fully funded in House budget
Fully funded in Senate budget proposalSigned by governor. Workforce training incentive managed by Workforce Florida. Included in governor’s budget request.
Embry-Riddle high school aerospace academies ($1M)Funded at $3M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $3M in House/Senate conference budgetSigned by governor. Recurring budget item to support/expand network of high school aerospace academies in Florida increased to $3 million.
Florida Tech space transportation research ($500K)Added to Space Florida ops budgetAdded to Space Florida ops budgetProviso earmark. New funding request for research on “efficient commercial space transportation system.”
Qualified Targeted Industry (QTI) Incentive Carry-ForwardHB-1209 bill died in committeeSB-1422 bill died in committeeWould have allowed more than one year for QTI recipients (including aerospace firms) to use tax credit allowance, or sell credits to other firms.
Governor’s School for Space, Science & Technology ($500K)Added to budget in conferenceAdded to budget in conferenceVetoed by governor. Continued funding for a space & technology school program for gifted students.

Florida Tax Group Criticizes Cecil Field Funding

cecilfield_imgFlorida TaxWatch is urging Gov. Rick Scott to veto $2.5 million worth of infrastructure improvements for Cecil Spaceport.

In its annual review of legislative spending bills, the group identified the project as part of $120 million in spending qualifying as Budget Turkeys. The funding is part of Space Florida’s operating budget.

“The budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting,” the group said in its annual report. “Each appropriation is scrutinized against a set of standardized criteria established by Florida TaxWatch.”

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA), which controls Cecil Spaceport, has signed a tenant agreement with Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO). The Atlanta-based company is developing an aircraft launched rocket to place small satellites into orbit.

FSDC Applauds State Support for Space Industry

space_florida_logoMay 9, 2014 (FSDC PR) — The Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) applauds the state legislature’s continued support for space industry development and diversification. During the recently concluded annual legislative session in Tallahassee elected officials approved $22.5 million for aerospace programs in 2015, with an additional $20 million available through the Florida Department of Transportation for space transportation infrastructure.

Spaceports, Spaceports, Everywhere a Spaceport (But Very Little to Launch)

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

For a country that had a mere 13 orbital launches last year and a handful of suborbital ones, the United States certainly has an embarrassments of riches in terms of places from which to launch.

The nation has 18 launch sites and spaceports in eight states and one foreign country (Marshall Islands). That doesn’t include Sea Launch, a company that launches from an ocean platform in international waters using a U.S. based platform. And if that wasn’t already enough, there are 10 more proposed facilities that are under consideration or being actively pursued by different entities.

So, whenever companies can actually start increasing the rates for orbital and suborbital flights, the country’s ready to accommodate it.  In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of underutilized infrastructure.


Cecil Airport Looks to Triple Workforce

Cecil Field in Jacksonville.

The Daily Record of Jacksonville has an interesting story about Cecil Airport, the former military base that has become a thriving commercial airport and future spaceport.  The facility is anticipating rapid growth and has the cash to attract new companies.

Cecil Airport currently has 3,000 people working within its boundaries, but Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman said he expects that to grow to 8,000-9,000 in the next 10 years.

Within five years, he expects more than 5,000 people will be working among the civil, defense and aviation companies on the Westside property. That includes companies and facilities he expects will be created or relocated.


Closer Look: XCOR’s Florida Deal Worth More than $5.7 Million

XCOR’s Lynx suborbital vehicle

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Various Florida agencies put up more than $5.7 million in “incentive value and financing” to help lure XCOR to set up a production facility and operational base for its Lynx space plane in the Sunshine State, according to the head of the state’s space development organization.

The funding and incentives are being put up by Space Florida, Brevard Workforce, Enterprise Florida Inc., and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, according to a presentation by Space Florida President Frank DiBello during the announcement of the deal last month.


Space Florida Gets Stable Budget, Infrastructure Funding and Tax Credits

Tallahassee, FL (Space Florida PR) – Aerospace-related economic development remained a top priority for the State lawmakers during the 2012 Legislative Session, with Space Florida’s current $10 million budget remaining stable through the upcoming fiscal year. As part of this commitment, a first-time award of $4 million in recurring funds was also approved for the organization.

In addition to Space Florida’s budget, several critical, aerospace-related bills were passed that will result in significant benefits to Florida’s aerospace industry, including:


JAA Assesses Horizontal Rocket Flights From Cecil Field Spaceport

Cecil Field in Jacksonville, recently designated a commercial spaceport.

JAA PR (January 25, 2012) — The Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board of Directors has accepted a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to conduct an Environmental Assessment, which will examine the environmental impacts and investigate the feasibility of the operation of a Concept ‘Y’ Horizontal Launch – Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) at Cecil Spaceport.

While Concept ‘X’ and Concept ‘Z’ Vehicles take-off using the typical turbojet engines to reach a predetermined location and altitude before igniting a rocket engine, Concept ‘Y’ Vehicles are powered by a rocket engine for the entire span of their operation.

In January 2010, after completing the original Environmental Assessment and Launch Site Operator’s License application process, JAA was issued a Commercial Spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The license allows the airport to accommodate 52 horizontal takeoffs annually of sub-orbital horizontal launch vehicles.


Video Report on Cecil Field Spaceport

Florida is close to designating Cecil Field as a spaceport, which would allow the Jacksonville-based facility to access state funding and companies there eligible for tax breaks.

Cecil Field Spaceport Legislation Advances in Florida Senate

Cecil Field in Jacksonville, recently designated a commercial spaceport.
The Florida Times-Union reports on developments concerning Cecil Field, the former Naval Air Station in Jacksonville that the FAA has designated as a spaceport:

Legislation that could help attract space-related companies to Cecil Field has been fast-tracked in the Florida Senate…

A bill filed by state Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville, would officially designate Cecil Field as a spaceport territory at the state level. That recognition would allow Space Florida, an independent special district that advocates for Florida’s space industry, to offer incentives to attract space-related companies to the area.

“It’s really an economic development type thing,” Wise said. “It will bring businesses in.”

The designation would also include Cecil Field in Space Florida’s master plan, which includes, among other things, funding infrastructure upgrades.

Read the full story.

Cecil Field Receives “Space Territory” Designation

Cecil Field in Jacksonville.

The Florida Times-Union reports that Jacksonville Aviation Authority will now be able to pursue state funding to upgrade Cecil Field to a spaceport:

Space Florida officially designated Cecil as a “Space Territory” on June 9. Getting that designation means the Florida Department of Transportation now has legal authority to fund spaceport-related transportation facilities within Cecil to better accommodate horizontal launch space travel.

JAA will now be able pursue funds to design and construct new roadways, taxiways, and assembly and payload facilities at Cecil Airport. A Spaceport Master Plan is expected to be completed in the fall.

JAA already received a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration for the former military base.

Read the full story.

Cecil Field Could Get Additional Public Funds for Space Tourism Development

Cecil Field in Jacksonville.

The Jacksonville Daily record reports that the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization is considered a move to formally support the development of space tourism at Cecil Field in Jacksonville:

If it meets eligibility requirements, the backing would mean the transportation projects associated with the development could receive North Florida TPO allocated dollars.