DARPA Names Potential Sites for Launch Challenge, Eighteen Teams Prequalify

DARPA Launch Challenge candidate sites (Credit: DARPA)

ARLINGTON, Va. (NASA PR) — DARPA has narrowed the potential launch locations for the DARPA Launch Challenge to eight, with options for both vertical and horizontal launch. The challenge will culminate in late 2019 with two separate launches to low Earth orbit within weeks of each other from two different sites. Competitors will receive information about the final launch sites, payloads, and targeted orbit in the weeks prior to each launch.

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Cecil Spaceport Receives $1.8 Million Grant for Upgrades

Cecil Airport

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority has received an $1.8 million matching grant from Space Florida to fund the design and construction of a space operations center, payload preparation facility and rocket motor test facility at Cecil Spaceport, the Jacksonville Daily Record reports.

Space Florida, which is the state’s space promotional agency, approved the funding at a board meeting in June.

Cecil Airport is a public joint civil-military airport and spaceport. It was a naval air station from 1941 until 1999.

Status of Florida Space Legislation

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/BILLHOUSE STATUSSENATE STATUSCOMMENTS*
Space Florida Ops Budget ($10M)Included in House Trans. and Econ. Development (TED) Appropriations budgetSenate budget includes $4M recurring & $4M nonrecurring, for a total of $8MIncluded 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 budgetNot 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 budgetIncluded 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 budgetIncluded in Senate budgetIncluded 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 budgetIncluded in Senate budgetIncluded 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 budgetedSupported 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 budgetedSimilar 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.

Cecil Spaceport Summit Set for September

cecilfield_imgJACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Space Florida PR) — On September 11th, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority will host its biennual Cecil Spaceport Summit at the Jacksonville Hyatt. While the first event in 2012 was more focused on educating legislators on issues pertaining to the commercial space industry, the upcoming Summit will take on more of a workshop format for interested launch site operators and launch providers. The goal will be to not only address key industry questions but also increase the visibility and offerings of the Cecil Spaceport.

Space Florida President Frank DiBello will serve as the morning keynote at this year’s event and will address strategies to keep Florida first in the global space market.

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Generation Orbit Completes First Captive Carry Flight

Captive carry flight (Credit: Generation Orbit)
Captive carry flight (Credit: Generation Orbit)

ATLANTA, GA, JULY 31, 2014 – Yesterday, Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) completed the initial captive carry flight of the Flight Experiment Testbed (GO-FET). Operating out of Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, FL, the three hour test flight served as an demonstration of air launch operations both on the ground and in flight.

The flight configuration consisted of a Learjet 35 carrier aircraft with a standardized pod integrated to a wing hardpoint. The set of payloads carried within the pod were designed to gather environmental and dynamics data on propellant management, payload integration, and wireless communications.

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Cecil Spaceport Receives $2 Million for Infrastructure Upgrades

cecilfield_imgJACKSONVILLE, FL, June 2, 2014 (JAA PR) — The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) today applauded Gov. Rick Scott for signing the 2014-2015 state budget, which includes $2 million to build infrastructure necessary for the development of Cecil Spaceport.

JAA also expressed appreciation for the continued support of Cecil Spaceport by the Florida Legislature, including members of the First Coast Legislative Delegation, the Florida Department of Transportation and Space Florida. Cecil Spaceport is the only facility in Florida licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to accommodate commercial space horizontal launches.

“This is an important step in the development of Cecil Spaceport,” said JAA Executive Director and CEO Steve Grossman. “The state’s support for Cecil and this developing industry is critical. If the commercial space industry doesn’t come to Cecil, it will likely not come to Florida for at least another four or five years.”

In December 2013, JAA signed its first tenant agreement at Cecil Spaceport with Atlanta-based Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO). GO is developing an in-flight suborbital space launch platform to conduct microgravity and hypersonic research (GOLauncher 1) and later, a dedicated orbital launch platform for nano and micro satellites (GOLauncher 2). Test flights are expected to begin at Cecil as early as August 2014, with operational launches forecast to begin in 2016.

Update on Florida Legislative Space Initiatives

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

The good folks at the Florida Space Development Council have provided this handy update on the fates of space initiatives during the current legislative session. It looks like it’s been a good session overall, with most objectives achieved. All approved measures are subject to veto by Gov. Rick Scott.

2014 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SPACE ISSUES – UPDATED 5/4/14
ISSUE/BILLHOUSE
STATUS
SENATE STATUSCOMMENTS
Space Florida Ops Budget ($10 Million)Funded at $14.5M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $14.5M in Senate/House conference budgetKeep Space Florida budget at same level as 2013. $4M in recurring base budget, $6M in nonrecurring funds.
Qualified Targeted Industry (QTI) Incentive Carry-ForwardHB-1209 bill died in committeeSB-1422 bill died in committeeAllows more than one year for QTI recipients (including aerospace firms) to use tax credit allowance, or sell credits to other firms.
Space Industry Tourism Funding ($1.5M)Fully funded within Space Florida ops budgetFully funded within Space Florida ops budgetRecurring budget item (from 2013) to support tourism attractions and space tourism flight business. Included in base budget.
Space Florida Financing/Investment Fund ($7M)Funded at $5M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $5M in Senate/House conference budget$2M less than in 2013. Funding for financing deals for aerospace
expansion projects. Half can be used for infrastructure 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.
Israel Joint Aerospace Development ($1M)Fully funded within Space Florida ops budgetFully funded within Space Florida ops budgetContinued funding of joint aerospace projects with Space Florida and Israel. Included in Gov’s budget request.
Shuttle Landing Facility
Transition ($2.5M)
Allowed in Financing/
Investment Fund line (above)
Allowed in Financing/
Investment Fund line (above)
Funding to transition/promote SLF for new commercial and govt users. $2.5M/year for two years suggested by some legislators.
Cecil Field Spaceport Infrastructure ($2M)Added to Space Florida ops budgetAdded to Space Florida ops budgetFunding for Cecil Field spaceport infrastructure. Added to budget in conference committee.
Quick Response Training (QRT) Incentive ($12M)Fully funded in House budget
proposal
Fully funded in Senate budget proposalMaintaining 2013 funding level for this workforce training incentive managed by Workforce Florida. Included in Gov’s budget request.
STEM Workforce Training ($30M)Did not happenDid not happenSTEM scholarships to state colleges and vocational schools. Maybe added as proviso language to budget later in session.
Embry-Riddle high school aerospace academies ($1M)Funded at $3M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $3M in House/Senate conference budgetRecurring budget item to support/expand network of high school aerospace academies in Florida.
Florida Tech space transportation research ($500K)Added to Space Florida ops budgetAdded to Space Florida ops budgetNew funding request for research on “efficient commercial space transportation system.” A larger request was vetoed last year.

Generation Orbit Signs Tenant Agreement for Cecil Spaceport

Generation Orbit’s planned launch system. (Credit: Generation Orbit)
Generation Orbit’s planned launch system. (Credit: Generation Orbit)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (JAA PR) — The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) has signed its first tenant agreement at Cecil Spaceport with Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO).

Atlanta-based GO will utilize Cecil’s hangar space, its 12,500-foot runway and the safe flight paths that have already been coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), among other things, to support its commercial flight and horizontal launch program.

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